Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Food: #Tweet4aTable

*Thank you to Pingkan Melbourne for taking over my camera today ;)

The Co-operative Food are currently making their way up and down the country promoting their Summer range through a Twitter-led campaign which allows people to tweet at the dedicated Twitter account with a reason why they deserve to win a table for a chance for them and up to three friends to enjoy a free drink, starter and main course at The Co-operative Food's pop-up restaurant. Hearing that the campaign was making its way to Liverpool, and not being one to turn down a catch-up with good friends over a bite to eat, I made my way over to Paradise Place in Liverpool One this afternoon, where the bright, "co-operative food green" mobile restaurant has settled for the next couple of days.

As we were greeted and seated, it was explained to us that everything that we were about to eat was The Co-operative's own produce, from the drinks, to the ingredients in the main course and even the condiments! We were handed our menus and left for a moment to ponder over the rather naughty-looking choices whilst taking a few selfies with the props they had left for us on our table (don't I just look absolutely thrilled at the thought of free food in the photo above haha).

I opted for the 'Holey Moley', a soft brioche bun filled to the brim with The Co-operative Food's "ready to cook" smokey barbecue pulled pork, gruyere cheese and American coleslaw, with a side order of spring onion cheese fries. Teamed with a squirt of mustard and ketchup, this flavour bomb definitely hit the spot. If that wasn't enough, we were also given a bowl of my ultimate weakness to keep us going whilst we waited for our main dishes to be served; nachos complete with melted cheese, sour cream, salsa and guacamole. Om nom nom.

After we had finished eating, in true restaurant style, we were brought a tip tray with a few slips of paper clipped on top. Don't worry guys, this meal is definitely for free; instead of a bill, The Co-operative Food have given us a £2-off coupon to spend at our local store, plus they jot down how much it costs to make the delicious meal you just consumed. To replicate my pulled-pork pile up and cheesy fries it would set me back a whopping grand total of... £4.47. Who said you had to spend a lot on good food? This one could be a dinner party winner.

If you are in Liverpool tomorrow or Friday (September 11 & 12), follow @Tweet4aTable and mention them in a tweet stating why you deserve to dine in their pop-up restaurant (don't forget to use the hashtag #Tweet4aTable too!) for a chance to win a table for you and up to three friends. Manchester and Newcastle, you guys keep your eyes peeled too, as the #Tweet4aTable mobile will be hitting your cities real soon!

And here, I leave you with the #Tweet4aTable menu to feast your eyes upon ;)


Have you tweeted for a table?

Frances x

*DISCLOSURE: I was invited along to experience the restaurant as a #tweet4atable VIP guest. All opinions are still 100% honest and my own.




Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Outfit: Hybrid.

Photo credit: Shane Murray
Dress: C/O Hybrid* | Coat: Primark (old) | Shoes: New Look (old) | Rings: Rare London

I find that when dressing up for special occasions or more formal affairs, it can be easy to blend in to the crowd (pencil skirt, check; cute blazer, check; court shoes, check, etc, etc.). That's where Hybrid comes to the rescue! Their huge range of evening and cocktail dresses make special use of bright hues, colour blocking and fun lace overlays to combine a touch of zest with sophistication to make the ultimate formal attire; perfect for date night, race day, weddings or even in the office.
Hot pink definitely isn't a colour that I find myself leaning towards often but I decided to tone it down a little with my trusty black coat and take the plunge with this number (the Hybrid Hannah bodycon dress), as I loved the look of the sexy satin panels that add a subtle uniqueness to a simple, classy dress. 
Who said that smart has to be boring?!

Have you heard of Hybrid before?

Frances x

*DISCLOSURE: Starred items are PR samples.



Monday, 8 September 2014

Outfit: 1949, I found you.

 Photo credit: Shane Murray
Blouse: Primark | Skirt: Ark | Shoes: C/O F&F*

Put those legs away girls, because midi is the new mini, and modest is the new sexy this season. I wore this ensemble when I went out for drinks with a friend over the weekend I ended up loving it so much I wanted to share. I have always had a fascination with 1940/50s style- from the full, circular skirts, to the pinup girl makeup, to the wavy Hollywood hair; girls from this era were on point. So naturally, when I saw that full midi skirts and culottes were making a comeback for AW14 (don't be surprised if you see them on my blog a lot over the next few months), I was excited to put a 'teenies' twist on it. I picked up this blouse for a tenner in Primark, and after a hearty debate over whether to return it (I didn't need it- story of our lives, right?), I decided to give it a go teamed with my black circle skirt and gold ankle strapped shoes, and it turns out it was a match made in heaven. Funny how that happens, eh?

Are you loving the below-the-knee trend?

Frances x

*Starred items are PR samples.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Review: Andrew Collinge Hairdressing Salon, Liverpool.




First things first, ladies, I am sorry for the single, bad quality iPad photograph on this blog post. I left my house yesterday knowing completely that I was on blogger duty, and it was only when I was half way to the train station that I realised that I had forgotten my camera! I wish I had some sort of excuse, but I don't. Let's just call it a blip and forget it ever happened, okay?

Anyway, yesterday I was invited along to the Andrew Collinge salon based on Castle Street in Liverpool to receive a hair cut and blow dry* from their very own Alison Roberts, who is a finalist for Best North Western Hairdresser in the British Hairdressing Awards which are taking place this November. This, teamed with the many great reviews I had heard about the Andrew Collinge salons left me with high hopes that I would be leaving the salon feeling ready for a L'Oreal advert, and I wasn't disappointed by my experience.

Being that I usually pay around £15 for an apprentice hairdresser to look after my tresses, it was a nice change to be in the hands of somebody who really, really knew what they were doing. Alison was absolutely lovely, made friendly conversation with me throughout the appointment and she didn't point out every single split end I had (I've found that a lot of hairdressers don't hold back!). 

After Alison had assessed my hair, she sent me off to get my hair washed, where I had the most amazing smelling shampoo and conditioning treatment ever (I wish I had asked what products were used; if you work at Andrew Collinge, please holler at me!), whilst simultaneously being treated to a head massage. I could definitely get used to this kind of treatment. ;)

I had agreed with Alison that I wanted my long fringe cut back in, lots of layers and a curly blow-dry to finish it off. Also, Ireallywantedtokeepmylengththesame. She explained to me exactly what she was doing as she was doing it and kept making sure that I was happy with how it looked. And when she trimmed my hair, it was actually a trim, instead of me losing at least 25% of my length. Alison, you are a woman after my own heart.

I am so happy with the result, and a day later my hair still feels and smells amazing, although I know it is never going to look quite as good as it did when I left the salon yesterday (hairdressers are magicians, I swear). And from the experience I've learned that, even though it isn't always affordable, I think it is definitely worth investing in a haircut from a more experienced hairdresser every now and again, especially if you're going for a drastic change.
If you are local to Liverpool, I would definitely recommend checking out what Andrew Collinge has to offer (you can see their treatments and price list here) and booking in with Alison. Maybe I'm just biased, but I think she deserves to win that award ;)

Thank you, Alison, and good luck at the British Hairdressing Awards! :)

Have you visited an Andrew Collinge salon?

Frances x

* I was kindly treated to my hair appointment free of charge in exchange for a honest review. All opinions expressed are 100% honest and my own.



Monday, 1 September 2014

Birkenstock.


It may be the first of September, meaning that Summer is well and truly on its way out, but my toes are still making the most of the last of the Summer air. Ugly seems to be the new black this year as Birkenstocks have well and truly taken the fashion world by storm. A shoe like marmite, I admit that at first I wasn't sold; they were just too reminiscent of the kind of footwear associated with dads and socks on holiday, but after seeing the likes of the Olsen twins, Alexa Chung and many of you stylish bloggers out there making these sandals look somewhat cute, I decided to give it a go myself. Enter the Birkenstock Arizonas.

I was surprised at how easy they are to style, adding a rugged and androgynous finish to boyfriend jeans, floral shorts, summer dresses and even tailored suit pants; the possibilities are endless with these dark horses of the shoe world. Not to mention how friggin' comfy they are. Seriously guys, the well-thought-out, contoured footbed makes it feel as though you are having a foot massage with every step you take. They may not the prettiest shoes in the neighbourhood, but they get tens across the board for comfort and practicality, that's for sure!

If you are a narrow-footed girl like me, I would recommend sizing down as these sandals do have the potential of making even the most dainty of feet look like they belong to a clown, even when the adjustable uppers are tightened to the last hole. 
When it's time to retire these shoes in favour for boots and my trusty Nike Blazers, I think my Birkenstocks will still find themselves being my around-the-house companions, and the quality of them means that they will definitely be making an appearance next Summer for sure, and maybe even the Summer after that!

Are you a fan of Birkenstocks?

Frances x

*DISCLOSURE: PR sample. All opinions expressed are 100% honest and my own.
Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Lifestyle: I passed my driving test!


These days, being able to drive is the fine line between your utmost freedom, some jobs or whether you pick up a KFC on a Friday night or just settle for what's in the fridge. I had every intention of applying for my provisional license and getting stuck in to it when I was seventeen, however a slight fear of getting behind the wheel and maybe a hint of laziness saw me only taking the plunge when I was 21. Ten months later, last Friday, I had just done a brilliant job of straddling the bay upon my return to the test centre car park, and I was sat beside a driving examiner awaiting my fate. And I PASSED. The feels were real, guys.

On the run-up to my test I had scoured the internet for bloggers who had shared their driving test experiences (what can I say, I trust you guys for moral support!) but I couldn't find many, so I thought it might be useful to share mine for any of you who may have your test coming up. 

--------------------

The morning of my test was pretty hectic; I was working at Creamfields over the weekend and I had to be on site for my briefing at 10:30AM. I wouldn't recommend running around like a headless chicken on the day of your driving test; with my driving instructor booked for 12:30, making it there and back with the possibility of festival traffic was only my first hurdle, but it kept my mind off the actual test at least. My last lesson with my instructor went pretty smoothly, if you don't count the fact that I botched up my parallel park manoeuvre four times and neither of us could figure out why (I'll give you three guesses as to which manoeuvre I was asked to do on my test as well), but after a pep talk and a quick reminder of all the "show me, tell me" question answers, I was ready as I would ever be. 

I think I was quite fortunate to have a driving examiner who made small talk with me at points throughout my test, as after ten months of having conversations with my driving instructor about music, football, our mutual fear of flying and his 'dad jokes' about how every speed limit under 50 was the same as his age *rolls eyes*, the thought of driving in silence next to somebody I had never met before was terrifying. 

The biggest piece of advice I could give to anybody taking their driving test is just to stay in the moment. I went in to my test with high hopes that I would pass, as does anybody, but I kept an open mind about it and I didn't anticipate the result, either before or during the test. Did I drive perfectly? Of course I didn't, but the examiner isn't looking for a perfect driver, they are looking for someone who can drive safely. I made mistakes; I started rolling back on a hill at a busy stop junction, and then immediately after I got the car moving forward again, I stalled. Not the most nerving situation to be in- I had no idea how serious this mistake was as I had queuing traffic behind me, plus I must have been messing around at this junction for a good minute or two (and I may have uttered a swear word under my breath), but I concentrated on correcting myself safely and this was the difference between a minor and a fail. If you make a mistake, forget about it. You are not the examiner. Don't let what could have been a minor error be turned in to a major one later on in your test. I learned this the hard way on my penultimate driving lesson a couple of days before my test, which just so happened to be the worst lesson I had ever had (I won't go into details, I'm still slightly traumatized, haha), but looking back I'm glad it happened.

I was surprised at how fast the driving test was over; I expected 40 minutes to feel like a lifetime but I found myself glancing at the clock for confirmation as my examiner told me to turn left on to the road that the test centre was on after what felt like twenty minutes of driving. There is honestly nothing like the relief you feel as you put the car in neutral, apply the handbrake and switch the engine off for the last time. I barely had time to gather my thoughts together and open the door for my driving instructor before the examiner turned to me and said, "So, that's the end of the test, and I'm pleased to tell you that you've passed". Sorry, what? I gaped at my instructor for a moment and then cried like a little weirdo as I had my report read out to me. 

It's such a surreal feeling to know that in the space of five minutes, whilst your examiner fills out all the documents and hands you your certificate, that you go from being a learner to a fully licensed driver. I am now able to go wherever the heck I want to, whenever the heck I want, and I can make playlists of all my favourite songs and hold concerts for everyone on the M62. And best of all, no more public transport. Hallelujah.
To anybody whose test may be approaching, I know it is difficult (I'll be the first to admit that I had many nervous breakdowns in the week approaching the big day) but just treat your driving test as though it is a lesson. Check your mirrors, have confidence in yourself, don't be afraid to ask your examiner if you don't understand something and enjoy driving. 

I studied and revised every single page of the Driving Test Tips website in the few days prior to my test, and I believe it made a huge impact on my confidence, so I would definitely take a look if your test is coming up. Good luck, lovelies, and my fingers are crossed in the hope that you get the result you are hoping for!

Have you passed your driving test? Is your test coming up?

Frances x