According to a journalist at the Telegraph, psychologists warn that a visit to Ikea could seriously damage your relationship. I'm really not too sure how true this is, you've got to be pretty seriously argumentative towards each other to argue as much as the hype of Ikea causing breaks in relationships might suggest. But, if you ARE worried about visiting Ikea with your loved ones and the thought makes you break out into a sweat, then here's a little tip for you. If you don't want to feel as if you are a salmon swimming upstream (or downstream against the flow if you're feeling rebellious!) along with the rest of the world, then head to Ikea at a less busy time of day to avoid the crowds and trolley-bumping antics that you dread so much. I recently tried this little trick with our first trip to Ikea as a couple for our new home and it earned the brownie points it deserves…. We headed to Ikea at Milton Keynes for a Saturday evening date night at 7pm. The daytime crowds had left and most of the visitors here at this time were nestled into the cosy cafe for their Swedish meatballs and other such "traditional" dishes. You could pace an entire showroom several times over before seeing another human being, it was fantastic, peaceful and stress free. In fact, we took so much time wandering around, taking measurements, being silly with the displays, discussing our interior design and enjoying each others' company that the cafe closed before we had made it to the halfway point… so, if you plan to visit for a date night dinner, my advice would be to make sure you get there a teeny bit earlier to fit that in! We need to go back in a few weeks and will be doing this same routine again, it was a friend that suggested this for a pleasurable Ikea experience… she's a great friend, a wise, wise bird indeed! My top tip for visiting Ikea? Go on a Saturday evening at 7pm, you won't need to read any more of those cheesy "Ikea Survival Guides". Ever. I'm interested…. When do you visit Ikea? Have you found another great time of the day or week to visit for a stress-free shopping experience? I would love to hear from you (and feel free to add links) in a comment below. Read my "About Me" page here! See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note – I am in no means obliged to blog or write about this event, brands associated to it or their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I wish to do so. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:firstname.lastname@example.org All images © 2017 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.
Wednesday, 8 March 2017
Can we just stop for one moment to realise just how selfish society has become? I won't go into some sort of deep rambling here, but I've been surrounded by a lot of sadness of late through friends and acquaintances and the sadness they are currently enduring for whatever reason that might be. I'm in a happy place, I'm the happiest I've ever been, sometimes I feel a little guilty for that even though I know I shouldn't. To be honest, I've had my fair share of sadness over the years and I know how it feels when somebody does just the slightest thing to brighten your day, even if it's just smile from a fellow commuter on the motorway as we crawl along on the mundane crawl to work every day - what's the point in being mean to each other? It doesn't help anyone. Instead of going into some sort of sad story, or moaning about how mean the world around us can be, or how rude people are on the street, I'm going to make a few suggestions here. Be selfless today, just once, for a few seconds. If you have the willpower or even just the ability to make somebody smile today, please do it… no matter how small or ridiculous the gesture might feel, you just don't know what it might do for somebody's wellbeing. Here are a few of my suggestions, I'm going to take note and do more selfless things to make the people I come into contact just a tiny bit happier today. ▽ Sing in the car at the top of your voice and smile at passers by, it's amazing how many people smile back… or even join in! ▽ Play around with snapchat filters with somebody you wouldn't normally do that with... ▽ When was the last time you hand wrote a note? Send a short letter to somebody you've been meaning to connect with. ▽ Say thank you. (and please)! ▽ Offer an ear to bend if you see somebody who is trying to vent or reach out - and listen without speaking about you. ▽ Compliment somebody genuinely on their hair/coat/shoes/smile…. I find this the hardest thing to do, but I will try harder to do so… ▽ Send a small gift to somebody in the post - unexpected mail is awesome! ▽ Head over to kickstarter.com and back an awesome project or idea. ▽ Reach out to somebody you miss. ▽ Offer to buy the office newbie a cuppa and show them you are a friendly face if they need you - you could even become great friends. ▽ Share a funny video or an article with somebody it makes you think about. ▽ Start up a conversation with the most interesting person around you right now - anything, the more random the subject the better. ▽ Bake something and give it away. ▽ Tell somebody you are proud of them. ▽ Get to know the waitress/barista/service staff - especially if you're a regular (that Starbucks girl knows your name & your regular drink, but do you know her name?). ▽ Give blood. More than the once. ▽ Figure out somebody's half birthday (add 182 days!) and surprise them with a mini party - I love this idea! ▽ Donate some cash - even just a fiver to a friend who's running a race or growing a mo - it's easy to get annoyed at yet another JustGiving Page, but do you ever donate? ▽ Go old school and play a game with someone close to you - have some childish fun! ▽ Smile as you walk down the street - you might feel like you look crazy, but it's better than looking miserable & unapproachable! ▽ Take someone you are fond of on a surprise picnic! ▽ Buy somebody a coffee in the queue behind you - I've never done this but always wanted to… ▽ Ask that person in a different department for the recipe of the delicious cake they made for the works' bake sale - it's nice to know when somebody loves your baking that much. ▽ Place some freshly picked/bought flowers in a vase for somebody on holiday and allow them to bloom for something to enjoy on their return. ▽ Don't ignore the road sweeper/shop assistant/waiter/barman/postwoman/fellow dog walker - smile, say hello, ask them how they are! ▽ Buy a balloon and give it away… or be silly with it - hours of fun & laughter! ▽ Support somebody you know in something they are doing - be it a gig/live event or getting fit. ▽ Ask somebody what the highlight of their day was - not just how it was, but make them think about and talk about the best part/s of their day. ▽ Hug somebody you love for absolutely no reason. ▽ Invite a friend round for a cuppa or out for dinner - your treat so you can chat face to face! ▽ Buy a multipack of chocolates and leave an unexpected treat on your colleagues' desks. ▽ Plan that trip or holiday you've been wanting to do for a while - and invite somebody to join you. ▽ If somebody is ill, send them a little get well package to keep them occupied/dosed up! ▽ Take your baby into work - a baby (or dog!) gets my lovely lot going every single time - smiles guaranteed. ▽ Leave a photo of a good memory in somebody's car/bag/coat for them to find unexpectedly. What will YOU do to make somebody smile today? Read my "About Me" page here! See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note – I am in no means obliged to blog or write about this event, brands associated to it or their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I wish to do so. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:email@example.com All images © 2017 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.
Tuesday, 21 February 2017
Ask me for my amazing sweet hotspots in Cambridge and I really struggle to recommend anywhere worthy of a write up lately. However, ask me for my favourite treat destinations in Norwich and I simply don't have enough fingers to count them all! See my guide to Norwich here for some ideas. But if I read this fabulously tempting menu out to you.... Ahem, queue my beautifully sexy, gruff reading voice... How would this grab your attention?... "Banoffee" 'Banoffee' caramel, lime creme fraiche, maple candied pecans, banana caramel ice cream, hazelnuts, shortbread. All washed down with a smooth flat white. Snickers Salted butter caramel, peanut parfait, chocolate mousse. Paired with Quinta Da Romaneira 10-year-old Tawny Port. Raisin D'Etre Star anise poached pear, rice pudding, Pedro Ximinez and raisin ice cream, arlettes, maple pecan granola, pear caramel. Whilst sipping on a sparkling Chapel Down Reserve Brut. Rhubarb & Custard Baked vanilla custard, honeycomb, rhubarb and cardamom gel, polenta sable, blood orange sorbet. Followed by a Shorty McShortShort coffee. This is just some of the ever-changing plated desserts at Figbar, a very grown up, indulgent dessert bar, newly opened in the heart of Norwich city centre at St John Maddermarket. I've visited Figbar several times now and have enjoyed a lazy Sunday afternoon birthday treat alongside the bearded birthday boy back in September when they had just opened. Their tasty coffee and tempting melt-in-the-mouth mini chocolate bundt cakes got us well and truly hooked. I've since popped in to take away some homemade, bitter chocolate Jaffa cakes, rich coffee financiers and cinnamon frosted buns. There are savoury pies, etc served here too, but the desserts are most definitely the focus here! One drunken evening, after a girly night at the nearby Gin Palace, I even brought some friends here to tuck into their rich chocolate torte and the snickers dessert with raspberry sorbet... the perfect mid-drinking session solution to keep us going! Everything is fantastic here. All freshly baked and prepared on site, paired with well thought out wine and champagne selections, as well as hot chocolate, teas, coffees or cold drinks. Their coffee is supplied by Strangers Coffee in Norwich, just a hop from their front door - and they often share the love of their neighbours through social media by sharing their cakes as a thank you for their support - It's so nice to see such respect in a scrappy world! The staff are super friendly and chatty here, whistling as they work, professionally having a laugh in the open-plan kitchen and their background music choices are spot on. I would choose to visit Figbar for every reason you should ever want cake away from your usual high street offerings. ▽ Birthdays or a special occasion. ▽ Whilst shopping in town and taking a break. ▽ Stopping for a quick blogging session. ▽ Meeting friends - although not too many, as it's a small place. ▽ During an evening of drinks for a sophisticated food stop. ▽ Just whenever you want a great coffee or glass of wine and some homemade, top-quality cake! Indulgent cakes and treats, top restaurant-quality desserts, locally sourced coffee, elegant furnishings, unique crockery to eat and drink from, classy wooden floors and bars to prop yourself against, relaxed tunes, twinkly fairy lights around the bathroom door.... These guys have deserved every ounce of respect they've gained within the short period of time they've been trading. It's a classy little place and the food is excellent. The passion from owners, Jaime & Stephanie Garbutt truly shines through. Chatting to Jaime last weekend, he talked about the 12 years he worked in London and Hong Kong and his love of Norfolk, having worked in the iconic Norwich City Waffle House back in the day, amongst other places. He said that January had been much busier than they had anticipated, thanks to the "Lipstick Effect" - people don't have much money to spare after Christmas, but £5-£10 for cake and coffee is the perfect 'pick me up' that doesn't break the bank. If you have a sweet tooth, then make Figbar YOUR new favourite cakey place and go follow them on social media to get your drool on. www.figbarnorwich.com Read my "About Me" page here! See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note – I am in no means obliged to blog or write about this event, brands associated to it or their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I wish to do so. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:firstname.lastname@example.org All images © 2017 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.
Thursday, 24 November 2016
What comes to mind when you think about Budapest? Is it the copious number of ornate spas on offer? The opulent and iconic statues or buildings? Or is it the trendier 'ruin bars' that come to mind? All of these things are on offer in this grand and historic city, but what really caught my attention during my recent stay was the street art on every street and corners. This wasn't just the odd graffiti-style name scrawled on a wall, these were huge, stunning works of art covering entire walls or decorating sides of buildings throughout the 'Pest' side of Budapest. What I hadn't realised was that these colourful works of art were put there just before our arrival, literally. Budapest is home to street artists who are very clearly passionate about their work, as much as they are about their home city. So, what really struck us, without even knowing this, was just how much they want to brighten up the streets and create something that is not only pleasing to the eye, but that puts a smile on the person walking around the corner and taking in their street art. We noticed the odd tag on walls or on the floors, sometimes even on park benches, some decorated beautifully and made you want to stay and sit a while. But, we couldn't help but stop and admire each and every (enormous!) piece of art work we spotted as we explored the various neighbourhoods Budapest has to offer. Each piece was so different, each with its own message behind the beauty. Some were in parks, on walls looming over children in the playground. Some on crumbled ruins of historic buildings, clinging onto the crumbling brick work. Some were nestled within ruin bars, full of tourists and locals alike enjoying a cold drink in the sunshine and connecting with friends, new and old – such a different vibe everywhere we looked. There is even a street art tour in Budapest, I didn't realise until I returned to the UK, but this could be very interesting if you get a chance to try it. Ten walls around Budapest were decorated with these oversized paintings around Central Pest throughout August and September, alongside an arts and music celebration called the Színes Város Festival. I truly hope they keep doing this over time, it was so much fun stumbling upon these works of art and it really helped to make us feel at home as tourists exploring Budapest for the very first time. To find out more about each of these creative designs, click here. Read my "About Me" page here! See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note – I am in no means obliged to blog or write about this event, brands associated to it or their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I wish to do so. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:email@example.com All images © 2016 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.
Monday, 14 November 2016
Amsterdam is such a fun destination for a quick city break and the food is most certainly worth planning for, there simply too much choice when it comes to, well, everything. I spent a few days in Amsterdam with some friends recently and here's a roundup of our favourite finds whilst treading the streets in the late summer sunshine. CT Coffee & Coconuts. One of the food places on our hotlist was a very fresh & funky cafe in a former cinema built in the 1920's - it was a good 55 minute meander from our house boat, but we found it and so glad we did. The coffee was beautifully smooth and the breakfast menu was fantastically healthy, a great start to the day. We cosyed up on beanbags around a low dining table, nestled high up in the rafters of this loft-esque space, it was buzzing with trendy locals and it gave us some time to geek up on our location and plot plans for the day. We all chose the full CT breakfast - feta cheese with scrambled eggs, avocado on sour dough toast and a side of berry compote and granola with coconut pancakes, as well as a mini melon basket. Delicious and wholesome brunch. Great food, very hipster. Loved it. www.ctamsterdam.nl De Nachwacht. If you fancy a quick drink, then head to this Dutch bar in Rembrandt square. We enjoyed a beer sat outside overlooking the statues in the square on arrival in Amsterdam, it's a relaxed pub with a mix of travellers serving - our waiter was a Scottish guy willing to help point us in the right direction for our various destinations. Great little place to watch the world go by. www.de-nachtwacht.nl/en De Foodhallen. This is Mecca for any food and drink lover, an indoor street food market, packed to the rafters with the classy, high-end pop-up bars and street food vendors of this fine city. Home to the Filmhallen art house cinema, a boutique hotel and a maze of independent creative and vintage outlets. Whilst visiting, we enjoyed sampling our first Oedipus pale ale, as well as superb food from Maoz for great falafel, The Butcher for juicy burgers, Petit Gateau for beautiful patisserie and Godfather's Kitchen for sweet melt-in-the-mouth Cannoli. Food heaven. www.foodhallen.nl Trattoria Caprese. Sometimes all you fancy is a good bowl of pasta and after a solid day of walking around Amsterdam, we stumbled upon this little Italian restaurant by one of the many canals in the city. It was chucking it down with rain and so we hopped in to get warm, enjoy a few glasses of wine and some really creamy, moreish dishes. I had the tagliatelle carbonara and we ripped into the most buttery garlic bread in the world. What had us in stitches that night was when we noticed the group of 3 men sat on the table behind us, all sat bolt upright, but fast asleep, one of them occasionally about to face plant into his bowl of spaghetti - hilarious. www.restaurantcaprese.nl Bagels & Beans. There's a few of these bagel shops around town, but there was one literally just across the road from our houseboat. We had passed it several times whilst out and about, thinking of nothing better for our last breakfast in Amsterdam. The choice of bagels was insane, so many different types, grains, variations even with chocolate or cinnamon, all sounded amazing. I went for a "Mushroom burger" on seeded bagel, served with sour cream and salad - slow service but worth the wait, really fresh & tasty. www.bagelsbeans.nl/en The Butcher. One burger venue we had really fancied trying looks like a launderette from the outside and requires a secret password to get inside - of which you have to contact them to reserve a table to gain - who wouldn't be intrigued by this?! We had tried to book a table, but heard nothing back in time for our visit, so we made sure to head to their stand at De Foodhallen instead - tastiest burger I have had in a very long time, amazing! I went for "The Daddy" - BBQ sauce, onions, Edam and bacon . If you're a burger lover, don't miss out on these bad boys. www.the-butcher.com Dutch Pancake & Waffle Houses. Sweet lazy brunches and smooth coffee... This is an experience not to be missed. After a thought-provoking visit to the Anne Frank Haus, we stumbled upon a Waffle House in a trendy shopping district called 'Sugar 'N Ice'. The service wasn't particularly friendly, but there are so many dotted around the streets of Amsterdam to try, you'll forgive us for being far too busy nomming on waffles with puddles of warm, melty Nutella to care. It's as good as it sounds, believe me! Café De Sluyscwacht. The cutest, lopsided little pub you ever did see, nestled between buildings on a bridge just a few steps away from our AirBnb houseboat. This place had not only the cutest barmen the girls had ever clapped their eyes on, but a great selection of beers, wine and friendly locals surrounding the place... You couldn't move for bodies in this teeny tiny, quirky little inn. On our second night we enjoyed al fresco drinks through to the early hours of the morning under the heat lamps, playing uno (a card flew off in the wind and a lady caught it and shouted "Uno" at us before handing it back with a smile - everywhere we went the people were super friendly, I love this city. www.sluyswacht.nl Food Related Notes: Mini Nutella jars - everywhere! Amsterdam seems to be the "home" of the stuff. We even spied a little girl lugging a giant bucket of Nutella down the street at one point, this turned us green with envy! Colourful cakes and beautiful looking waffles in windows everywhere you turn. There's no getting away from your sweet tooth on a visit to Amsterdam, sorry! Wisest Lesson Learnt In Amsterdam: When it comes to getting a tram in Amsterdam, prostitutes are fine, drugs are fine, dogs they are absolutely fine. But a coffee? You can sod right off! The coffee at CT Coffee & Coconuts was so good that we took a second cup away with us. A great idea, until we crossed the street to grab a tram to get us to the Anne Frank Haus on time.... No eating or drinking on the public trams. I repeat. No food or drink on the trams.... The driver tutted at us, waggled a finger and left us in panic on the platform. Bugger. Read my "About Me" page here! See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note – I am in no means obliged to blog or write about this event, brands associated to it or their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I wish to do so. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:firstname.lastname@example.org All images © 2016 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.