The Beauty Of Change


Photography by Sophie Lobban

Did you know in a typical day, a woman will be on her feet for over four hours? Whether you're a stay-at-home mum or a travel extraordinaire, a comfy pair of boots to carry you through the day is an absolute must-have. My life is anything but slow-paced. I work forty hours a week; travelling to meetings, getting up and down from desk or doing a mad dash to the corner shop because I've been so busy I have forgotten to eat. When I do have "spare time" I distribute it between working on my blog as much as I can, catching up with family and friends with the occasional (okay, maybe frequent) accolade of retail therapy and trip to the florist. Therefore, comfort is a necessity.  Finding a pair of shoes that are versatile enough to every aspect of life; and comfy enough to not hinder your plans, can be difficult. Thankfully, Marks and Spencer incorporate Insolia® technology into their footwear, helping reduce pressure on your feet to ensure you stay stylishly on your feet all day long.

When it comes to tackling the colder seasons in style, a heeled boot is my weapon of choice. They provide you with enough height to elongate the legs yet they aren't narrow enough to cause any strain on the ankles. Plus, they look great! So imagine my excitement to discover a pair with tortoiseshell detail on the heel. What makes them so great is that this detailing gives them just enough touch of uniqueness to transform an ensemble from day to night with ease. I decided to give these boots a genuine comfort test, one week of wearing them to both work and on the weekends. The result? I can honestly say at no point did I feel any discomfort wearing them. Providing me with the reassurance that you really do get what you pay for, which can sometimes be hard to come buy in footwear, unless you're buying trainers. See more about Marks and Spencer's boot fit guide here.

On a personal note, it is of a great relief to me that everything seems to come together when you truly least expect it to. You may have seen via my other social networks that I have a new job, which is the result of why I had became a little quiet on the blog so suddenly after getting myself back into it. I'm now working in social media - a career I've always wanted to be in and have been trying on and off for the last four years to get into. This little blog of mine has provided me with so many wonderful opportunities over the years, but this has to be the greatest of them all. I made the decision to not complete my university course and get a degree in something I wasn't passionate about because I knew I was capable of more, and chose to dedicate my time into working and blogging in the hope of it eventually paying off for something much more rewarding. Within the countless hours I have been swatting up on SEO, dedicating to understanding analytics and KPI's there have been times where I wasn't ever sure I would ever catch a break. It is so great to know that it really has in the end and at twenty three years old I am actually welcoming change with open arms.

This post is in collaboration with Marks and Spencer - all words, styling and outfit choices are my own.

Let's bake: Coconut and Raspberry Cake


Yes, it's a bit naughty. Yes, it is a little bit messy. And yes, it is most likely to be at least half of your daily sugar intake but sometimes we need something decadant to reward ourselves for life's little triumphs. Right? In my opinion managing to get ready on time in the morning is enough justification. But you know, less about me... Great British Bake Off has finally returned, gracing our TV screens once more (thank goodness!) and I find myself ensuring that as the clock hits 8 o'clock Wednesday night, I'm comfortably placed on the sofa, paired with a slice of cake and a cup of tea to wash it down with. Please tell me I'm not the only one?

In preparation for tomorrows episode I decided enough was enough, farewell to the supermarket versions, I wanted to make my own. Now, I'll be the first to admit I am sadly no Mary Berry. However after easing my way in with chocolate cookies and sourdough bread at the weekend; and succeeding in not giving anyone food poisoning, I decided to tackle one of my all-time sweet treat favourites - Coconut and Raspberry Loaf. I know fruit in desserts won't be everyones cup of tea, but for me it is the pièce de résistance. However you could always switch it up and make it with chocolate instead, or flavour it with lemon. Both are perfect pairings with coconut. This one has a triple hit of the good stuff both outside and in; coconut oil, coconut milk and desiccated coconut, creating a rich, textured and flavourful cake, that’s spiked with tart raspberries and a layer of raspberry jam brushed on top. Raspberry and coconut are a match made in heaven and given I was able to pull it off without any errors, I’d say this is a good one for bakers anywhere from novice level upwards.

If you're a little hesitant to get into baking as you think it could be a hefty price-tag, don't be disheartened! For all my ingredients I got almost everything - with the exception of Coconut Milk, Coconut Oil and Frozen Raspberries, from Lidl for the grand price of £6! This recipe will create a cake that will serve at least six to eight people, which you could stretch to even ten to twelve, if you you want to ration the portion size. Averaging less than £1 a portion. What a bargain for a fresh, delicious tasting treat that the supermarket simply cannot produce. Plus! You will have over half of the ingredients left over to use towards more recipes too. If you like the look of this and want to make it yourself, go grab your apron and get yourself to the kitchen!

What you will need:

- 175g Desiccated coconut
- 330ml Full fat coconut milk
- 225g Caster sugar
- 2 Eggs, beaten
- 250g Self-raising flour
- 130g Frozen raspberries
- 2 tsp Vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp Coconut oil or the Frylight alternative will work too
- 3 tbsp Raspberry Jam
- 1 tbsp Water
- 1 tbsp Desiccated coconut for finishing
- A handful of fresh raspberries for finishing (optional)
- Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

What you need to do:

1. In a mixing bowl combine the desiccated coconut and coconut milk, then leave for an hour covered.

2. Once this hour has passed pre-heat your oven to 190 °C or 170°C if you're using a fan bake.

3. Whilst the oven is warming up, line a 2lb loaf tin and grease with coconut oil. If you want added help to lift the cake out with later, then lay some baking paper big enough to cover all sides in the tin also.

4. To the coconut mixture, add the sugar, egg and vanilla and stir in with a metal spoon. Then sift over the flour in stages, and stir in. Finally fold in the frozen raspberries. The mixture will be thick, almost porridge-like.

5. Spoon the mixture in to the loaf tin ensuring the mixture is distributed evenly, and place in to the centre of the pre-heated oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or you can always check to see if it's baked by inserting a knife to the centre and seeing if it comes out clean.

6. Leave the cake in it’s tin for 5-10 minutes, then run a knife around the edge to loosen it and carefully lift it out using the baking paper. Leave to cool completely on a wire rack. This will take approximately 2 hours.

7. Once it’s completely cold, heat the raspberry jam and water in a small pan and cook for around 10 minutes. Then brush the jam over the top of the loaf and scatter with more desiccated coconut. Apply some more of the hot jam glaze to the centre of the loaf (if you want) and add the fresh raspberries.

7. Finally, dust with a little icing sugar, grab a knife and serve.

Mens Fashion Through The Ages


Image Source: Pinterest

Mens fashion has seen some wild fluctuations, with mainstay trends coupled with fleeting crazes that define the generation they were worn in. From the old-fashioned Edwardian gentleman to the coffee-sipping hipster chic, men's fashion has had its ups and downs.

1910 - 1920

Let's start way back at the beginning; when men looked cleaner cut and dressed sharply for every occasion. In the 1910s, those who could afford it wore tunic shirts and frock coats, as well as dashing high waist striped trousers and pointed shoes. You couldn't toss a rock without knocking off someones top hat before it hit the ground. The roaring '20s saw fewer top hats, but kept the same detachable collar shirts and high waist trousers. Men would often wear lounge coats and Oxford shoes too to complete the look.

1930 - 1950

The clean suave look continued into the '30s and '40s, with men typically donning a hat like a boater or a fedora - a hat which has seen an unexpected re-emergence in recent years. The '30s had men typically wearing waistcoats with linen jackets and a soft collar shirt, and during the post-war '40s, trench coats became a mainstay on every man's coat rack. The '50s saw rebellion from young men with the emergence of rock and roll. From this, the greaser look became popular very briefly. You know the look: classic leather jacket, jeans, boots and maybe even a pocket comb sticking out for emergency pompadour grooming.

1960 - 1970

The carefree '60s gave birth to one of the UKs fiercest sub-culture rivalries: the Mods and the Rockers. Your typical mod would be seen in a dashing tailored suit, complemented with a skinny tie all covered with a military parka. The moped was part of the look too. Rockers rode choppers and wore a typical biker get-up similar to that of the greasers, including a leather jacket and jeans. But this short-lived feud was soon overshadowed by disco. A unique and brief period in men's fashion, it was common place to find men in dance halls wearing a ruffled shirt, flares and platform shoes. Afros became unusually popular too.

1980 - 2000

The eighties brought Yuppies, who rolled up the sleeves of their blazers and combined it with a pastel t-shirt and a pair of loafers. The more expensive, the better. Rave culture set in around the nineties, which meant bucket hats all around! Men dressed quite scruffy around this time - with obnoxiously baggy jeans and shell suit jackets. Then the noughties gave Converse a newfound popularity - combined with a set of combat trousers, an Arab scarf and a hoodie to complete the look, undoubtedly all tied together with a t-shirt sporting a forgettable band's logo.

2010 - Present Day

Now we come to present day, where we have high quality, durable men's combat and cargo shorts for summer wear and the flannel shirt for pretty much any night out - rowdy or civilised. 2010 onwards also saw the emergence of the 'hipster look' - sporting skinny jeans, deep neck shirts and military boots. This look is often accented with a low-hanging scarf and a pair of superfluous glasses which, more often than not, don't have any actual lenses in them. It's fascinating how radically fashion can change in just a few years, and yet still retain some of the more eccentric and charming items of yesteryear. There's no telling what the next trend will be, but here's hoping those cheesy '80s films' depictions of a stereotypically 'futuristic' style is wrong.

One night with CitizenM | Bankside, London


As we anticipate a trip away and the search begins for accommodation, I'm sure I speak for most of us that there can be a touch of anxiety to be felt before you even start. Even more so when visiting London. Finding a nice but reasonably priced hotel in London can feel like searching for a needle in a haystack. Fortunately, I think I've found a hotel that finally ticks all of those boxes and alas our search can end. Let me introduce you to CitizenM.

Their Bankside hotel is located in a quiet street on the southern bank of the Thames, about a 7 minute walk from Southwark tube station - a great base for exploring London from. I love Bankside and Southbank; with the Tate Modern, Globe Theatre, Borough Market and lots of great restaurants, bars and pubs on your doorstep. You could spend a weekend exploring without having to stray too far from the hotel. The London Bankside property may be quirky and individual, but it is conceptually identical to its sister hotels.

As I ascend the spiral staircase that lead to the 192 self-defined 'luxury for less' rooms the hotel offer, it's hard to not be impressed by the contemporary décor - all retro seating and lighting, quirky ornaments and books and brightly coloured murals. As we reach our level, I place the keycard into the door blazoned with my room number, and as it opens I am welcomed to a XL king size bed dressed in soft white linen, stretching from wall to wall. Whilst the rooms aren't made for spending lots of time in, CitizenM certainly make the best use of space. With a reduction in space this does of course mean that everything is that bit closer together, including your bathroom facilities, so I would definitely recommend that the overnight companion you bring is someone you are very comfortable with. Each room is paired with a Samsung tablet, designed to control almost every aspect of the room. You have the ability to tailor the lighting to your mood, adjust the temperature and also select an array of on-demand movies with the touch of a finger.

It is so interesting to see how CitizenM are pushing boundaries with modern, innovate touches to further appeal to their target customer, the business travellerSuited to local young professionals alike, CitizenM's 24/7 Living Room made the perfect accompaniment to the incredibly well-designed hotel. They have cunningly created a living room for every occasion. Whether you want to work, relax, meet friends or browse through the library of design-led books. iMacs are dotted around for work, play and googling, and there's free WiFi throughout the hotel.

You could call the experience as 'affordable chic', combining as it does competitive prices (depending on when you book) with extraordinarily high standards of interior design, super-service, amenities such as in-room media and lighting atmospherics, no-hassle group-wide wifi, casual but business-friendly style and exceptionally personable and well-trained staff. Not only that, but are you interested in booking but saving yourself some extra pennies? Who's not! You can sign up to become a citizen here, and have the opportunity to choose from a flexible rate with free cancellation for the best yet non-refundable rate. This way you’ll save some money for important things like shopping and cocktails! It's great to find a hotel that can appreciate how travelling can be thirsty work, offering all of their esteemed citizens a well-deserved welcome drink. That's what friends are for. Am I right?!

As I was only in London for couple of days and to know it was only around the corner, quite literally, visiting Borough Market was top of the list of places to visit. If you're a foodie (like myself), as one of London's biggest and oldest markets Borough Market is a haven. They have everything you could possibly wish for. From grocery and deli stalls piled high with fresh produce, to freshly baked goods from around the world, you will quickly understand why locals and tourists alike crowd its stalls. It doesn't matter how much breakfast you've stuffed yourself with before you made the journey. As soon as you smell the aroma of all the sweet and savoury delights on offer I'm sure you will be able to make some room. What sold it for me was knowing that Borough is home to artisan chocolatiers, luxury confectionery and cute patisseries. Offering a wide range of goodies to bring you that little bit closer to type two diabetes. In essence it’s the ideal spot for anyone who loves their food, likes a good adventure and enjoys taking a few snaps. They’re open for lunch on Monday and Tuesday, and all day Wednesday through to Saturday. If you haven't been before I highly recommend it.

Thank you to CitizenM for sponsoring this post.

Time to refresh


Evening guys! I hope you're having a great Bank Holiday weekend. First of all I just want to apologise for not posting last weekend but it was for a good reason. In case you hadn't notice when you viewed this, I have a new blog layout! We're still working on the logo, but in the meantime I decided to go for a little revamp and refresh it up just a little. I hope you like it as much as I do, please let me know. I'm currently in a really good place right now and genuinely looking forward to planning what my next post will be. Not only that but my love of photography has been reignited and I am finding myself permanently attached to my Olympus Pen e-pl7 at the weekends. Hopefully you have been able to see through the images I have been posted on my social media channels recently. Of course it's not essential but I've also investing into buying new props and backdrops to help my images look as aesthetically pleasing as possible. I just have a pool of ideas floating around in this little mind of mine and I am so excited to transfer it to lens and PC, so to speak. With all that being said I would love to have feedback from the most important people. You. I've been out of the blogging game for a while now, and I need polishing up. So, I would appreciate all the help I can get. Please share to me what would you like to see more of. Is there anything you like or dislike? Honestly really is the best policy.

You may be reading this thinking that the image has no relevance to the content and you would be absolutely right. But I needed a perfect excuse to photograph my new Aspinal of London Marylebone Mini Tote so I took it. It's so beautiful isn't it? For me it's such a classic piece, and I know that regardless of what trend comes in or out of fashion this will always complete a look perfectly. Don't get me wrong if I had spare cash lying around for a new Gucci Dionysus handbag I'd definitely add one to my collection. But, low and behold I'm living my champagne lifestyle on a lemonade (with a touch of prosecco) budget. 

How to do date night on a budget


Whether you're at the start of a exciting new relationship or like me, in a long term relationship, date nights are incredibly important. There is nothing I enjoy more than getting dressed up, sliding my feet into a beautiful pair of heels and spending time with Liam. Whether that is with a slap-up meal being wined and dined, or as casual as heading out for the day wandering through fields picking our own fruit, I am just as satisfied. That being said, both force us to open the purse strings. In reality, for us, we both can't really afford to spending every day off we have together especially as we have just got back from an expensive holiday not too long ago, and are looking to save to move out together next year. Thus I thought I would share how you can still have great date nights on a tighter budget.

Supermarkets are your best friend - For those evenings when you can't be bothered to wash your hair or even get out of your pyjamas, having date nights sitting at a table with a great meal can be just as enjoyable as spending over £50 for a meal out at a nice restaurant. One of our favourite meals to have together when we are having a date night are either a tapas or cheese board. The above photo including the wine cost us £15. Yes that's right, £15. The key to how I managed to save so much money on this meal was to shop around.

Lidl recently released a new 'Taste of Iberia' range with a huge variation of Spanish delicacies starting from 59p. It's such a shame that some people avoid supermarkets like Aldi or Lidl or try and distance themselves from them when in European countries they are all you see. It's the best way to get some culture into your meals and for me (Liam took some convincing) it just shows that cost doesn't always guarantee taste. Almost all our meats were from here and the cheese too and they tasted so, damn, good. I only picked up a few bits of the range for our tapas night but I could have bought so much more. FYI this post isn't in collaboration with Lidl, I just really like the supermarket.

Not only just for evenings, an awesome alternative for those days when the sun is shining is to head out and have a picnic together. Picnicking in the park is an adorable and inexpensive classic. Get yourself to the supermarket, grab some of your favourite ingredients to make fingers sandwiches, some sweet treats and a nice bottle of bubbly (or a non-alcoholic beverage) and you'll both be good to go. 

Netflix and chill - Take that as you will, but Netflix or Sky Movies are a great alternative to spending quality time together; watching a movie, rather than paying what can be up to £30-40 (if you buy snacks, which I definitely do) for a trip for two to the cinema. When you have had a long day at work it can be hard not to just want to curl up on the sofa, alone, and spend hours catching up on what everyone else has been up to on social media. The best way to avoid this is to agree that for both of you it will be a no phone zone for the duration of the film/series. Power off, relationship on. What is also another positive, again if you're anything like me for those days where getting out of your pyjamas was something definitely not found in your to-do list, it's a great way to get yourself positioned under the duvets, have yourself a little cuddle and spend some quality time together. 

Dust off those old board games - One of my own personal favourites, you will be surprised that even as an adult, countless hours of fun can be found from playing board games as a date idea. Maybe not the greatest idea if you are looking for more of a traditionally romantic setting; as you enter the house to You and Me by Lifehouse, finding rose petals scattered everywhere and only able to see by candlelight. Instead you may find yourself arguing over who's turn is next, or how that was the property you needed to start buying houses. Many a time has this happened in the McAneny-Hopkinson household. Liam is adamant I'm cheating every time we play. The reality? I'm just better at Monopoly than he is. Board games are a really great way of injecting a bit of silliness to a date night, plus you could also have a double date this way as well.

Explore the beautiful outdoors - There is so much to be seen simply from just placing your two feet out the front door. Why don't you both wake up early one morning, put on some comfortable footwear and just go for a walk together. This is perfect for dates that don't lend themselves to real conversation; use the walk to get to know each other and the date for having fun. The days of scavenger hunts may feel long over, but they don’t have to be. You have no idea what you might come across. Plus, they’re easy to organise yourself. Simply make a list of a few things you both may have been wanting to see or do, and head out to find and experience them all.

So there you have it. My tips to still having great date days/nights together without breaking the bank. In addition to that too, I think it's exciting to do things together with your better half that are outside the box. Some of the best moments I have had with Liam have where we haven't spent a penny. After all, love doesn't cost a thing. Let me know your thoughts and if you think they may come in handy for you, or if you have some great ideas to add to inexpensive date nights.

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