2016 in review | Best eats, coffees and travels

London pub wedding - picture by Jo Crawford

I know 2016 hasn’t been great on a global scale, but for me it couldn’t be have had a happier end to the year thanks to our wedding. I felt like most of our year was spent thinking about that day one way or another, but looking back on it, there was a lot of eating, drinking and general other merriment that we managed to fit in along the way as well.

Best Eats

Brunch at Eat 17 Walthamstow

We cut back the eating out a lot this year due to wedding saving, but some of the highlights were brunching at Eat 17, multiple trips to Hawksmoor (might be developing a bit of an addiction to their anchovy hollandaise), and an incredibly special meal at Ottolenghi Islington the night before our wedding with my parents and brother. There were multiple burgers with my burger babes Mike, Sophie and Flick, and we finished the year with an outstanding meat feast with twenty of our friends at Craft and Cleaver in St Albans.

Best Bakes

Cardamom Chocolate Mousse Cake

Blogging got off to a great start earlier this year when my chocolate doughnuts made it onto BuzzFeed, but my most favourite bakes this year have actually been these Viennese Whirls and my chocolate cardamom mousse cake. On the savoury side, my comte cheese scones were great for snacking on over Christmas, and I still love these parma ham wrapped broccoli stems. Plus who could forget the incredible brownie tower Flick and Sophie made for the wedding?

Wedding Brownie Tower

Best Coffees

Hand Cafe in Stratford's East Village

 

Working five minutes from Soho Grind has been great for improving the standard of my weekday coffees, but less good for my bank balance. I’ve continued drinking the good stuff at the weekend, both locally at newly opened Hand Cafe in Stratford’s East Village, further into Central London at places like Kaffeine, plus discovered favourites from the Parisian coffee scene such as Telescope and Ten Belles on our trip there in September.

Best Travels

The Douro river as it flows through the centre of Porto

Champagne at the Pig in Brockenhurst

Lisbon and Porto were both great (if hot) to explore in July  – Porto really does deserve it’s reputation as Portugal’s foodie capital . We snuck off to Paris in September for a few nights of wining and dining, but the highlight of the year was our stay at the Pig in Brockenhurst. Ponies, outstanding food and the most comfortable rooms – what more could you want on a mini moon? We also fitted a visit to Norfolk and a stay at the George in Stamford earlier in the year with my family.

An autumnal golden hour at the Pig in Brockenhurst

I’m so excited for everything 2017 will bring – we have our full honeymoon to Seattle, Portand and Vancouver coming up in May (all tips welcome!), plus I might actually get some blog posts out now the wedding is over and done with.

All photos my own, except the wedding ones from Jo Crawford

Five of my favourite podcasts

One of the first thing people always comment on in our flat is just how many sets of headphones we have slung over the top of one of the doors. There are at least four, plus both of us have a couple of more sets of in ear buds squirrelled away in bags or jacket pockets. What I’m trying to say is it that we are always listening to something – and I’m always on the search for new favourite podcasts. These are five of my favourites that I’ve come across recently – and they all have decent back catalogues if you turn out to be a fan too.

Reply All: short episodes about all people and how they interact with Internet. The Mormon who found blogging fame, email debt forgiveness day, the man behind bars who writes a blog- you get the idea.

My recommendation – A Simple Question
99% Invisible: the things that go unnoticed in our everyday world.  Always fascinating and a great one to listen to if you love have a stash a random facts up your metaphorical sleeve.
My recommendation – Flying Food
One for the Road: a podcast about running, and the rest of your life. Short, chatty episodes that always make me want to put on my trainers afterwards suggested episode (plus their Strava group is great to join too)
My recommendation – The London Marathon
Richard Herring’s Leicester Square Podcast: I have been known to howl with laughter while listening to Richard Herring interviewing various comedians. Plus, you can go see this one being recorded- we saw Robert Webb and Louis Theroux last year and both were great.
My recommendation – Robert Webb
Data Skeptic: interesting data gets torn apart by these data experts (alongside shorter mini episodes on data theory)
My recommendation – Data Science at EHarmony
Have you got any recommendations you would add?

Four ways we’ve made our rental flat feel like home

How we've made our rental flat feel like home

Our flat we live in today was only ever meant to be a year long solution when we first moved to London. We’re now just coming up to the end of our third year here and over time it seems to have moved from just the flat to our flat.

It’s not perfect by any means- the boiler that broke every six months like clockwork until they finally gave us a new one over summer, the pools of condensation from November through to May, and my very cramped kitchen, but somehow along the way these are the four things that have most helped our rental flat feel like home.

Move around the furniture: best done when you move in to make your mark on the flat, but not a bad use of a bank holiday weekend either. It helps the flat feel like yours, rather than you just being an interloper in the old tenant’s space.

Fix the niggles: I spent twenty months complaining about the lack of storage in our bathroom before finally sorting it out and buying some extra shelving. Now all our toiletries are kept in one place and the whole flat looks a lot better now I have somewhere to return my nail varnishes to.

Have a routine: our weekend mornings pretty much always start with (James bringing me a) coffee in bed. Having a rhythm and a routine to fall into have, over time, made this place feel less temporary.

Change the small pieces: rental furniture is never great, but over time we’ve splurged on beautiful bed linen, picked up cutlery and crockery from various travels, and framed things that we love on the walls. It goes a long way to making the flat feel like ours, at least on the surface.