Saturday, 20 June 2015

Taking a break from blogging

I know that She Wears Burgundy has been extremely quiet recently.

It's not unusual for me to write just a couple of blog posts per month - when life gets busy, the last thing I want to be doing is coming home from a day in the office, sat in front of a screen, and spend my evening in exactly the same way.

However, the words that usually flow from my mind onto the digital page through my tapping fingers just haven't been coming, and SWB has seen no posts so far this June. 

I won't go into detail about why - but I wanted to write a little post just to formally say that I have decided to take a little break from blogging. 

I don't know how long for - hopefully not for long - but I need to stop feeling pressure to post when it's the last thing I need. Blogging should be a thing of passion for me, and if I don't enjoy writing, I am sure you will enjoy reading my words even less.

I hope that my excitement for sharing my life experiences and thoughts will return very soon and, with it, my lust for writing. But for now, I'd like to take a little pressure off myself and step away from the blogosphere - a little summer holiday for my mind, body and soul.

I'm not sure I've written this very well, but I wanted to be honest and I also wanted to say it 'out loud', so that you don't think I've just wandered off and forgotten about this blog. 

I really hope you understand - to be honest, I'm not entirely sure my posts will be hugely missed. But when I return, I hope you'll still be there, ready to read what I have to share. I have lots of lovely ideas stored up ready for when the mood takes me, so there is plenty more to come, and I hope you are looking forward to reading them as much as I am looking forward to finally writing them.

But for now...thank you so much for reading my posts, and I am certain that I will be back very, very soon.


Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Bloggers tips for Mindfulness (#MHAW2015)

Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, and this year the focus was on Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is something I've been interested in for a while now - it's all about being completely aware of the present moment, focusing on the here-and-now and appreciating and acknowledging your raw emotions, feelings and senses to develop a state of calm and peace.

It's a great technique and concept for those of us who struggle every now and again - or on a daily basis- with our own battles. Those with anxiety, depression and other mental health problems are often recommended Mindfulness as an approach to daily life, and as a part of therapy.

It's a really interesting topic and I really recommend that you read more about it if you're keen to find out more - there are so many books and websites on the topic and so much advice out there. I myself bought a book on the subject, which is the next on my to-read list.

While reading up on MHAW, I decided that it would be a lovely idea to harness the knowledge of the wonderful blogging community in one small post on the topic of Mindfulness - so many bloggers write about their personal lives and mental health, so why not take that knowledge and share it with the world?

I contacted a handful of my favourite bloggers to see what advice they could give for maintaining mindfulness and to find out about how they cope when things get a little too much.

Lyzi - Being Little

"At the moment, in my Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, I'm learning about "worry time" - which is when you try to push all your worries throughout the day back out of your brain (noting them down quickly) and then at the end of the day you give yourself 20 minutes to worry about them freely. I've only been doing it a couple of days and am finding it difficult, but useful. 

Otherwise I think it's really important to look after yourself when your brain is feeling wonky. If you're feeling really awful, just do whatever you feel would make you feel better - listen to what your mind and body needs.

I find it incredibly useful to write down how I'm feeling. It helps me to get everything out of my head and makes it a slightly less confusing jumble. It can also reveal things, and help me find solutions to problems.

Even though it can be really difficult seeing or talking to people when you're feeling low, I find it helps enormously to just talk. Think of the person you feel the safest with - someone you can talk to about pretty much anything. Call them, text them, or ask them to meet up for a cup of tea. I guarantee it'll make you feel better, and it's always nicer to see a friendly face than to be sat alone with your mind going 100mph."

Cat - More About Cat

"I've started practising mindfulness through colouring! I also like to go to the seafront and watch the waves.

"There are two things I would say are essential and that help me keep my shit together when it feels like it's all falling apart.

1. Get off the internet. If you find yourself endlessly scrolling, feeling empty you have to get out. Social media can be good and bad. In times of turmoil, if talking to someone online helps then that's great, but if you find yourself stuck in a loop of just refreshing tabs endlessly and comparing yourself to others, place your hand against the screen and pull your laptop closed, and do anything else - go for a walk, call your mum, pick up a book you've been meaning to start, take yourself out for dinner etc.

2. Write it all down. Everything. Don't hold anything back, just write down every last iota of what it is that you're feeling. A notebook won't reject you, pen and paper won't judge you, so just be completely honest and spill everything as if you were confiding in an old friend, and leave no little piece out. Write until you feel you have said every word, and the pressure of harbouring all those troubles will just drain out of you into text and you will find peace."

Erica - Being Erica

"Miiiindfulness eh. I would say that in times of need, when I need to refocus, I'm forced to remember the little things. The fluffiness of the clouds or the smell of the roasting beans from the local coffee shop, the puppy chasing leaves in the park. The little things can make the big things have less weight and it's super important to focus on what makes you happy."

Toni - Lemon Freckles

"If I could only give one bit of advice, it would be not to be afraid to be unpopular. I'm not talking about purposefully going out of your way to aggravate other people but more to except that if you're able to live your life with kindness and generosity, then that is all that matters. You'll discover that even the kindest of people have others who do not like them and there is nothing that can be done about that. So be you and stand tall."

What are your top tips for living mindfully? I'd love to hear them, so please leave them in the comments! 

She Wears Burgundy

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Frittatas and food photography tips - Happy Egg Tastemaker challenge

I am that person - the one who can't eat a cupcake or a fruit-packed bowl of granola without posting it online after applying a good filter. My camera pops out, often uninvited, at meals and post-work drinks. It's becoming one hell of a habit.

Photographing food is my way of appreciating it and sharing it with the world, and as a blogger it is is an important part of my work! When you're writing about food, it's important that your photos are good enough to eat..

I'm not the most gifted with a camera, however, and my photography knowledge is extremely basic. So when the Happy Egg Co. got in touch about their latest Tastemaker Challenge* for their chosen bloggers, I jumped at the chance! Armed with a box of six medium-sized eggs and a list of food photography tips written for us by Marte Marie Forsberg, we were instructed to whip up something tasty and share it through photography using Marte's advice! 

Photography and food - I was instantly won over.

With my ingredients, a box of Happy Egg Co. eggs and a fully charged iPhone (my weapon of choice) I was ready to crack on!

I decided to use a recipe I found in the most recent Waitrose magazine for a delicious Sunday brunch of Red Pepper, Spinach and Feta frittata.

Red Pepper, Spinach and Feta Frittata Recipe:


  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 handful spinach
  • 6 medium Happy Egg Co. eggs
  • 50g crumbled feta cheese (or more, if you're a cheese fiend like me!)
(Serves 2)


  1. Fry your red pepper and wilt your spinach. 
  2. Mix the eggs, feta, pepper and spinach together and season.
  3. Cook until mostly solid, then place under the grill to finish.
  4. Serve outside on a Sunday with a side salad and a cup of tea


This was a really quick, easy and tasty brunch to make and is healthy to boot!

So that's the cooking done - how did I get on with my food photography?

I'm used to trying to photograph my cooking along the way. However, I really wanted to focus on taking pictures once the cooking was done, when I was trying to capture the end result. This was when I felt I could play around with elements of the photos.

1. Light

Marte recommends paying close attention to your light source - 'try to use just one main light source to give a sharper picture'. I love natural lighting, so I decided to take my photos outside. It was a mildly sunny Sunday at midday so the light was soft, flattering and perfect!

2. Composition

Marte discusses 'telling a story' with composition and thinking about the arrangement in order to 'draw the eye of the viewer to the subject'. I tried a few composition techniques as you can see - my favourite is the simplest, with my dish slightly to one side of the photograph. I'm a fan of the 'one third' rule - subjects are more interesting when they're not central to the image.

I also tried out having two plates on focus rather than one, though I think I prefer having one dish.

3. Styling

I played around with this quite a lot! I wanted to use simple cutlery and nothing too flamboyant, as it's important for me to convey the real 'me'. I don't have fancy cookware. Marte mentions telling stories once more, stating that 'sometimes it's nice to have a few imperfections in your props' which I love the idea of. My styling is simple, and a realistic portrayal of a Sunday for me, and allows the food to speak for itself! I also played around again with composition and focus using the props I had, which I think worked well.

4. Colour

Frittata is a lovely vibrant dish and this one has reds, yellows, greens and whites all mixed in together! I wanted these to stand out against plainer, more neutral tones backgrounds, so my garden table was the perfect backdrop. I loved the contrast of textures of the background and props - wood, porcelain and metal. Marte advises not to let other colours distract from the focus, and that's exactly what I wanted to do.

5. Food

Of course, food is a vital component in food photography! Arrangement is key - and nobody wants to see one slice of frittata plonked on a plate! I loved Marte's advice on this theme: 'Subtle elements of life makes it look like the food is about to, or has been, nibbled on - and it breathes life into your scene'. I wanted my photos to be lively, so I tried one method and focused on food on a fork to being in the 'edible' element (see my previous photo!). I also added some crumbled feta and spinach onto the plate, and took a few photographs with my tea.

I had a lot of fun with this challenge, and am so pleased with my final photographs! I haven't yet been able to choose a favourite, but I'd love to know what you think - please let me know in the comments! I hope you found this post interesting as well - maybe you'll try out the recipe or some of Marte's photography tips! If you do, please tell me how you get on!

What's your top tip for capturing that perfect food photo?

Find out what other tastemakers have been doing through the hashtag #happyeggtastemakers

*This post was written in collaboration with the Happy Egg co., but as always all views and content unless quoted are my own!

She Wears Burgundy

Monday, 20 April 2015

Instyle Best Beauty Buys 2015 event at John Lewis, Southampton - March 2015

It's no secret that I'm no whizz when it comes to makeup. I know the basics - I can make myself look presentable for a night out, I love a little eyeliner, and can't resist a slick of red lipstick.

However, I struggle with the basics of contouring, can't cope with concealer and am still getting to grips with using a foundation brush instead of my fingers.

This is something I'd love to change - I'm gradually trying to teach myself using blogger tutorials and Youtube videos, branching out with my purchases and reading reviews and advice. 

So back in March, when a friend asked if I wanted to attend the Instyle Best Beauty Buys 2015 event at Southampton's John Lewis, I couldn't wait! I'm always looking to harvest information from professionals, and this was the perfect opportunity.

We gathered a big group of girls together, and set off for a night of beauty. Upon arrival we were given a mysterious little bottle and spritzed with Miss Dior (which, by the way, smells divine!). We then entered the room where the event was being held and immediately headed towards the bubbly and canapés, as anyone would!

The view from the top floor of John Lewis was absolutely stunning and made sure it was the perfect venue.

Before the talk we were given the chance to talk to a few brands - Clarins, Liz Earle, Sisley and MAC. It was really interesting to hear about some of their new products. The girls at the tables were all so friendly and helpful and I learned a lot - though I'm not sure I'll be treating myself to the Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask which is nearly £100! 

Once we had settled down, the talk began, lead by Cassie Steer (Beauty Director) and Catherine Scale (acting Beauty Assistant), who were both lovely and engaging and very, very glam! We were told all about some of their favourite products which had been chosen as winners of the 2015 awards, and given the chance to ask them some questions afterwards - which I loved.

As a fan of the high street, with my funds favouring Superdrug and Boots, I wanted to know what their recommendations were for beauty on a budget.

Catherine and Cassie both recommended mascara from L'oreal, Borjouis eyeshadow quads, and Rimmel Apocolips for fail-safe options. This was good news for me as I adore the Apocolips range, and I'll definitely bear the other recommendations in mind when I need to top up my makeup bag.

When asked for a suggested non-sticky lipgloss, they suggested the MAC Lipglass, or Dior lipgloss, and Sechevite was a winner for best topcoat.

The ladies also recommended MAC and Revlon  for good quality brushes, but suggested the Beauty Blender sponge for a perfectly polished look.

The most interesting thing for me, however, was the news that the same technology is often used for high street brands as more luxury products if the brand comes from the same cosmetics house. As someone who really is a novice with cosmetics brands, this was excellent news, and something I will definitely look into before my next shopping spree.

After the talk finished, we snaffled a few more canapés and headed down to the makeup department to redeem our £10 ticket against some products and pick up our goody bags.

And, oh! What goody bags! I couldn't believe some of the gifts we received - so many from brands I never treat myself to! But more on that at the end of this post.

This is where the mysterious little pot came in. We were advised to head over to the Dior counter to have our skin matched with a sample to take home. I've never ever treated myself to a luxury foundation so this was a true experience and so far I've really enjoyed using my sample. Maybe I will invest in the future.

I used my £10 ticket against a new MAC lipstick to add to my collection - I couldn't resist! Instead of my signature read, however, I wanted a neutral shade to wear on a daily basis. I opted for Fanfare, and it's the perfect my-lips-but-better shade. I like to think it only cost me £5! 

Once the evening had finished, the girls and I made our way to the local Thai restaurant, Mango, for some Pad Thai and jungle-themed cocktails, which made the perfect end to a great evening.

When I got home, I had to rifle through my gift bag. I couldn't believe some of the goodies they had supplied for us to try! Yves Saint Laurent, Clinique, Clarins and Elemis all make an appearance, and the best part was that they are all usable products in my daily routine. So often with gift bags you find you're gifted products which you're unlikely to use everyday, but these are all indulgent essentials and I can't wait to try them all. So far, the YSL serum and Clinique eye cream are winners for me.

You can read all of the Instyle Winners on the John Lewis website if you're interested. I will definitely be taking on all of the advice I was given on the day!

I'll now be keeping an eye out for local events similar to this so that I can learn even more and expose myself to new products and ideas. I really enjoyed the John Lewis Instyle event!

Did you go to the Instyle event? What are your failsafe beauty products?

Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Life's Loves: March Favourites

It’s been another busy month in my life - as always! The last few weekends have been filled with plane and train journeys aplenty, with a luxury weekend in London (staying at Artist Residence, brunching at Source in Battersea and enjoying afternoon tea on a London bus), a long weekend in Hamburg (numerous posts to follow), a Mother’s Day trip home and a luxurious ESPA facial. I feel like I haven’t really had a moment to breathe, but it’s the kind of busyness I relish, seeing loved ones and experiencing exciting new things.

Naturally, a few of these experiences will crop up in this month’s favourites, and some others will be items I’ve picked up along the way which I have fallen in love with!

As always, the names always link to relevant sites so you can view (and maybe order) a few of these things for yourself. I hope this might introduce you to a few new favourites too.


I’ve religiously stuck to an old favourite for foundation for years and years. My trusty Bourjois Healthy Mix lasted well, but at the end of February I felt the need to try something new, and picked up a pair of Rimmel’s new offerings in a Boots 2 for £10 offer (which meant that, technically, one of these bottles only cost me £3!).

I like to review products after I’ve had a good chance to try them, and I’m sure I’ll be writing a more in-depth piece later this month / next month. However, I’ve loved using these two so far. I opted for the lighter coverage foundation as I’m not a fan of covering my skin in a thick layer of warpaint every single day, but it makes a nice change from my usual daily BB cream. I’m very pleased with the colour, texture and coverage, and am actually enjoying using it - which doesn’t happen much!


At the very beginning of the month I attended the Instyle Best Beauty Buys event at my local John Lewis. The £10 ticket to the event could be put towards a purchase that evening, and so I couldn’t resist adding to my steadily growing MAC lipstick collection - after all, it only technically cost me £5!

I wanted a more neutral colour to wear on a more daily basis than my bright Ruby Woo and Rhianna Viva Glam shades. After a little bit of pondering, I plumped for Fanfare - a lovely simple pink shade which doesn’t stand out too much, but gives my lips a beautiful tint and shine. I’ve worn this beauty a lot and it’s even suitable for the office.

I recently told you about my luxurious ESPA facial experience with Jo at John Lewis in Southampton, and since then I have been using the samples I was given on a very regular basis. ESPA products really are an indulgent treat for a high-street beauty buyer like myself, but it really does make a difference as my skin feels divine after using them. I’m yet to work out which I really love, but I’m sure I’ll be sharing them when I know!

This is possibly one of the most indulgent products I own. I was also gifted this in my goody bag at the Instyle Best Beauty Buys event! I'll be completely honest - I wasn't entirely sure what to do with this product at first, but after a little research I began applying it as a base, and loved the feel of it on my skin. This serum has been formulated to create a radiant and even-toned base for your face, reflecting light and correcting uneven skin tone and dark circles. It feels a little strange applying something shimmer, especially when you're just heading to the office, but this has become a firm favourite and I'm enjoying using something a little special. I'm not certain it's doing exactly what it promises, but it's fun to use and smells lovely.


I’d never heard of & Other Stories until my friend introduced me to the store in Hamburg. Now I’m aware of the store it’s popping up all over Instagram - which is always the way! I hear there’s a store in London, so I’ll be popping in next time I’m nearby as I have utterly fallen in love with all of their products!

I’m trying to expand my somewhat paltry jewellery collection and am enjoying wearing more rings, so I couldn’t resist picking up a couple to take back as a memento of my long weekend in Germany. I fell for a delicate rose gold / bronze single link ring with a simple detail, and a 'dark silver' ring which is perfect to wear on my thumb. I’ve been wearing both nonstop - though the thumb ring is a little big and I have nearly lost it a few times! I’d love to pick up some more of their pieces.

Food & Drink

I’ve been meaning to visit Mettricks in Southampton for months after hearing fellow local blogger Annie Writes Beauty  raving about it! I love a local coffee shop, and finally popped in after my ESPA facial with my housemate. I tried my first ever London Fog there - along with a cheeky slab of delicious brownie - and it was such a lovely place to while away a few hours. The staff were friendly and the atmosphere was so relaxed. There were students in there working on projects and friends catching up over coffee - and let me tell you, London Fog is a firm favourite of mine now. I’ll be back for more soon, Mettricks!

Fashion & Fitness

In my bid to run faster and better for my looming 10km, I splashed out on some proper footwear to replace my five-year-old trainers which wouldn’t look out of place in my Year 9 P.E. classes. After a little guidance from staff at my local Sports Direct, I plumped for a pair from Karrimor. They’re bright pink and black and are made almost entirely of reflective material - and are lighter than air! Pink isn’t usually my colour, but they seem to make running more exciting. So far they’ve been a joy to use and have made it easier to run further. I also managed to get them reduced from £80 to just under £40 (though I think they're even cheaper now!) so it really was an investment. I’m looking forward to using these even after my run is over.


To the Letter, by Simon Garfield

I'm not one for non-fiction books. Upon visits to Waterstones, or my local independent bookstore, I am drawn towards novels and cook books. However, I was gifted this book for my birthday last year, and it's really satisfied my inner academic! I've always been one for education and interesting facts, and this book really does the trick. Although I've only read a few chapters so far, I am keen to finish it. Garfield's book recounts the history of correspondence, and is written in a truly engaging way - it's not stuffy at all. A must-read for any keen letter-writers or collectors of interesting facts! I'll look forward to reviewing this once I've finished it.

What have been your favourites over the last month? I'd love to hear your thoughts on my top picks - have you ever used any of them? Let me know in the comments!

She Wears Burgundy

Saturday, 11 April 2015

What to expect from an ESPA Facial at John Lewis, Southampton

Back at the end of 2014, I was introduced to ESPA at the Southampton Bloggers meet up. After a little consultation and a chat with the lovely Jo from the counter at Southampton's John Lewis, I left with a small batch of samples, which I used with much enthusiasm. My skin never felt so soft and it all smelt amazing! Since that weekend they have been my go-to products for a Sunday-night pamper session.

I was also kindly given a leaflet which gave me the opportunity to enjoy a 30 minute facial with ESPA, and after trying to fit it in to my busy weekends, I finally went along to enjoy thirty minutes of luxury!

I met Jo at the ESPA counter  at midday one Saturday and, after a quick introduction, I was lead to the beauty room. I had no idea that this room was in John Lewis, as it's tucked away - it really is a hidden gem, as it means that you're never too far away from the opportunity for a little pampering.

Having only ever experienced a massage before, I wasn't sure what to expect from a facial! Jo left me to sort myself out at first. After filling out an information sheet about my health and any conditions or concerns I may have, I removed my top (leaving my bra, straps down, on - thank goodness!). I tucked myself under the towels and lay on the bed waiting for Jo to return. I was both excited and nervous.

The room was incredibly peaceful, considering I was in the middle of one of the biggest shops in Southampton's West Quay shopping centre. I could hear distant sounds of shoppers, but my surroundings were so lovely I barely noticed. The room was dimly lit, giving the feel of candles and glowing lights - it was comfortably warm, the towels and bed were soft and cosy and I felt very safe (which is important when you're feeling a little vulnerable).

Jo was wonderful and made sure I was comfortable and relaxed before starting the cleansing process, using products to ensure my skin was clean and clear and ready for treatment. It was a great start to the experience and my face felt so fresh afterwards! I was asked to smell two cleansers - the strongest scent would indicate what my skin needed the most, which was a great way of allowing my body to choose products according to its response. I loved this, and ended up opting for a beautiful floral cleanser.

Next came an analysis. Jo explained to me that she would dim the lights and hold a mirror up before shining UV lights onto my skin. This was so that we could see what was really going on - sometimes what your skin does on the surface doesn't reflect what it really needs. For example, my skin may be dry on the surface, causing me to use hydrating products, but underneath it may be incredibly oily, which would require a different skincare routine altogether.

I had explained at the beginning that my skin was dry, with hormonal outbreaks and scarring. I wasn't surprised, then, that when the UV light was shone up to my skin that the feedback was focusing on dehydration. I was shown that I had black patches beneath my eyes and on my cheekbones, when the rest of my skin showed purple, meaning that my skin really was very, very dry. I also had tiny orange dots around my nose, indicating oily skin. Jo confirmed that I needed to focus on hydrating my skin, and would need to start using eye cream to ensure that I would start preventing early ageing, which I'm at risk of. At nearly 25, I was wondering when I should start getting concerned about this, so I was pleased (and admittedly a little shocked!) when she told me this.

I have to admit, I'm not overly surprised my skin is so thirsty - I've always struggled with keeping myself properly hydrated, and barely drink throughout the day. This has been just one of a number of alarm bells from my body telling me to drink more, so it's time to start getting serious about liquids.

After the analysis, which was a real highlight for me,  Jo set about pampering my face, neck and decolletage according to what my body really needed. I lay on the bed as her fingers tapped, stroked and rubbed my face, working its magic, occasionally asking me friendly questions and explaining what she was up to so that I'd know how to care for my skin at home. She even massaged the back of my neck and top of my shoulders. I was allowed to relax...and boy, did I.

Last year I went to the Marriott Hotel in Bearsted and had my first full body massage, which I loved but didn't feel I could fully relax during. This facial however left me feeling extremely calm.

As the session ended, Jo gave me a moment to sort myself out, and I sat in a daze for a few minutes in that calm, glowing room.

At the end, Jo gave me a list of all the products she'd used in case I wanted to treat myself in the future, and also provided a few generous samples of the products which had been rubbed and massaged into my skin during the past thirty minutes. I left and wandered around West Quay for a few hours afterwards feeling as if I was walking on clouds. I didn't want to break the calm that had come over me and was so delighted that it had soothed me so much!

Another little perk was that I felt that I could shop in Southampton's city centre for a few hours after my facial (still in a daze!) with no makeup on. I was barefaced, but I truly and honestly could not have cared less. I felt amazing, I was confident that I could care for my skin, and I was at the calmest I had been in a long time.

That evening I texted Jo to thank her for the experience, and I really could not be more grateful for those amazing thirty minutes that she gave me. I have never felt so relaxed and so happy with my own skin. It really was what I needed.

Since my consultation and facial I have banished those drying facial wipes from my routine (except for dire emergencies!) and have started cleansing every day with micellar water, using serums, moisturisers and eye cream every night. I'm hoping to see a real difference in my skin - and in my general health too, as I endeavour to drink more during the day.

If you'd like a facial experience and some luxury product advice, I'd really recommend checking out ESPA at your local John Lewis, if they have a counter. If you hail from Hampshire, I can't recommend seeing Jo enough. You'll have a really luxurious experience which is more than just a relaxation session, but an education as well, and Jo is just so friendly and helpful.

I hope to return to the ESPA beauty room in the future (the brand is slightly out of my budget, but I may indulge and treat myself!) - however, in the meantime, I'll be taking better care of my skin - and what's under it.

Have you ever been for a facial, or used ESPA products? I'd love to hear your thoughts and about your favourite items. 

She Wears Burgundy

Monday, 30 March 2015

Running 10km: February's progress

February was my second full month of training for my 10km run - and it was a good one.

I kept to my Couch to 5km programme diligently, tried to run every other day when possible, and kept myself motivated. These updates are a great way for me to keep note of my progress and to really see how I've done, so here are February's running stats!

February summary:

Fastest run: 6'59"km (average)
Furthest run: 6.90km (49:53mins)
Total runs: 10
Total distance covered: 48.1km (13.8km further)
Average speed: 7'24"km (27" faster)

I started using my Couch to 5km podcast but by the end I was using it in my own way! I found that as I could run further, I didn't want to stop when I was told to in Week 6. When I was told to walk to cool down, I would rewind the track, walk for five minutes, then run for another 12.5 minutes (or half of the run). This meant that I could keep pushing myself

The programme has been very useful, but at the 6th week I found that it was limiting. I was conditioning myself to stop after a certain time, when I really wanted to see how far I could push myself.

The other thing I found difficult was running at the gym every night. I loved having a way to train when the evenings were darker, but running facing a wall felt monotonous and repetitive. After a long day at the office, I felt like I moved from one screen to another.

I found ways around this as much as possible, however. I worked out that covering my treadmill screen with a towel meant that I was running until I had to stop, rather than counting calories or watching the seconds peel away. I also tried to let my mind wander.

However, at weekends I would run outside, which was much more pleasant. It's great for the brain and for motivation, and my longest and quickest runs were always completed outdoors! I'd really recommend prioritising outdoor running if you can - it's harder but much more rewarding!

I found that running regularly made me more conscious of my eating too and so my meals naturally became full of fresh vegetables, avoiding ready-made sauces - like these sweet potato falafels! Everything tastes better when it's fresh and it began a great cycle of health (which sadly ended when I went to London for a weekend!).

To complement my new-found enjoyment of running - and to reward my progress! - at the end of the month I purchased some brand new running shoes in a sale - which I am hoping will make the training journey even easier on my body! You'll be hearing about how my trainers have affected my progress in my March update.

Now... I have just under one month to go until my big run! Unfortunately so far in March I've done very little training due to a lack of free time, illness and, at the moment, a dodgy ankle! However, I am keen to get back out there and do my best before the big day arrives. I've decided to no longer use the Couch to 5km programme, and instead running to my own playlist for as long as I can to see how far I can naturally go.

I'm a little concerned that I need to run 10km in a month and yet I've only ever managed just under 7km...but I will just try my best this month and try to enjoy what happens.

What do I hope for in the next month?

March goals:

  • KEEP GOING! (again!)
  • Run for as long as possible without watching my time to test my ability naturally
  • Learn how to fuel myself properly
  • Enjoy the lighter evenings and enjoy!
  • Restart my routine, running every other day come rain or shine
  • Hit 8km

If you're at all interested in sponsoring me for my run, you can find out more on my Virgin Moneygiving page. I'm running in aid of Mind, the mental health charity - a cause very close to my heart.

Have you ever run in an event before? Let me know if you have any tips or tricks for me in the comments!

She Wears Burgundy

Friday, 27 March 2015

REVIEW: Dinner at 64 Degrees, London

On the last day of February I had the pleasure of spending the night in Pimlico's Artist Residence hotel - with beautiful interiors, comfort and great service, it was the perfect stay. This hotel also happens to have it's own restaurant and, well...if you're staying there for a night, it would be rude not to try the food!

64 Degrees is a stylish and enigmatic restaurant twinned with Artist Residence in London. It offers a fast-paced dining experience, with an open kitchen, fast tapas-style dishes and a bustling atmosphere.

I'll be honest here - it took a little convincing for me to try the restaurant. I spent a while considering whether dinner would be too expensive for me (it's no budget venue) and with a few mixed reviews online (I love Tripadvisor!) I was worried that it wouldn't be worth the cost. I'm always keen for a perfect night.

I honestly had nothing to worried about.

After enjoying a few hours in The Loft, I finally decided that it would be too much of an effort to walk anywhere else for dinner and called reception to see whether 64 Degrees would happen to have any spare seats on a Saturday night. I wasn't expecting anything, and was prepared for it to be full, but the lady who welcomed us into the hotel offered us a table at the kitchen bar at 8pm - perfect!

The restaurant was buzzing by the time I arrived - it was so lovely to simply walk downstairs for dinner. It made our experience feel very exclusive. The room had a cosy atmosphere with low, moody lighting. I was surrounded by the sounds of customers chatting, loud (very varied!) music and sizzling food, and it was perfect for a spontaneous Saturday night dinner. Some may have found it too loud - it's no place for a mellow night - but for me it provided a lovely informal feel for a restaurant that could have easily been ostentatious. The noise and busyness doesn't mean that intimacy is compromised either, which was great.

After ordering some wine and browsing the menu, we decided to opt for six different tapas-style 'small dishes', two each from the meat, vegetable and fish sections. I love this style of dining, as it allows you to try a multitude of flavours, treat yourself to something new or indulge in an all-time favourite. An informal dining style for a laid-back but luxurious restaurant.

The dishes arrived one by one, as they were ready, which meant that they were fresh and hot! First  we were surprised with complimentary Scallop wontons, which were so delicious and a wonderful start to the night! Then came the scallops with chervil and whey - at £11 for three, it wasn't cheap, but it was a treat. They were cooked really well and had a lovely accompanying sauce. I'm not a huge seafood fan, but these were a tasty start. However, I will add that they were my least favourite dish of the evening (not that they were bad!) . The best was yet to come.

The Potato Knödel, cos and smoked butter were next and this was one of my favourite dishes. These were little Hungarian potato dumplings, deep fried, and served with charred lettuce! I wasn't sure about the lettuce but was pleasantly surprised as I found it incredibly moreish. I wish I had ordered more if these deep-fried beauties and oddly I couldn't stop eating the cos.

Lobster Croquettes were the third seafood dish of the night (no photo, sorry!), and were again utterly amazing. Simple tiny breaded lobster cakes, with gomasio and scotch bonnet. I wasn't sure about the latter but thankfully it wasn't spicy and was another tasty meal! I don't eat much seafood but I enjoyed how subtle and flavoursome these were - not too fishy, and very meaty. I'd love to try more lobster in the future.

Up next - our second vegetable dish - Romanesco, with cauliflower and fregola. We had to ask the waitress what this was and she told us that it was like a 'veggie macaroni cheese' which sold it to us instantly! This was a very unusual dish, unlike anything I've ever eaten before, but it was tasty and light and exactly how the waitress had described it. I'm not sure I'm selling it to you, and I know the photo isn't convincing, but it was very good. This dish was exactly what I was looking for from my experience at 64 Degrees - I wanted to try unusual and exciting food which I wouldn't find anywhere else, and this hit the spot.

The next dish was a true favourite - kimchi chicken wings with buttermilk and blue cheese. I'm not normally a fan of blue cheese but this was very tasty and real comfort food! You can't really go wrong with chicken wings, and although this wasn't my choice of plate I'm so glad my accompanying diner chose them! They were indulgent, moreish and slightly naughty!

Lastly came the venison haunch, with beetroot and cavolo nero. I know this isn't to everyone's taste, and I truly surprised myself when I tried this - Im not a big meat-eater and never thought I would be ok with eating venison. However, I was very much in a 'you only live once' mentality and thought I would go for it.

The venison came in both steak form and as a croquette, with three types of beetroot. I was so surprised at how much I loved this dish - it was rich and tender, so it was the perfect sized-portion - the meat was completely mouthwatering. I adored the croquette and was surprised at how well the beetroot went with the meat. I would definitely order this again! It was the perfect savoury dish to end on and one of my top choices for the evening. I'd even be inclined to order a larger portion.

After six meals, I was bedazzled. Each and every one was delicious and thoroughly enjoyable. Each time I was presented with a meal I was so excited to try it.

The service throughout the evening was wonderful - I loved the way the chef would fully explain the dish as it was passed to you, so you always knew exactly what you were getting, and it was always presented with pride. The staff obviously loved their work.

I also really enjoyed sitting overlooking the kitchen. It was a little odd at first, but as the evening went on I was fascinated (and a little distracted!) by the chef's work and watching the food being prepared. It added to the informal, exciting atmosphere and made the evening an event rather than a simple meal.

When the main meals were over, we couldn't resist opting for a dessert! I decided to choose something unusual again, and so went for the coconut arancini, mango and pineapple. These were very tasty and not overpoweringly sweet - though a little heavy - and ended the evening well.

I left 64 degrees in a little haze of contentment. I was reluctant to leave due to the lovely atmosphere and friendly staff, and couldn't believe the quality of the food I'd eaten. I felt like I'd really indulged and was surprised at how filling such small plates could be! I had no need to be worried about the cost - it really was worth the money and was a truly unique experience. 

It's not a restaurant I will be going to regularly - this was a special occasion for me - but I would recommend it if you fancy a bit of a different and special night out in the Pimlico area. I can imagine it's better on a peak night rather than midweek, and if you're looking for an informal feel then request a seat overlooking the kitchen - if you don't mind seeing people handling your food! I really think it's a great place for a (slightly pricey) date - great food, no pressure, and the food and kitchen will provide a distraction if it's not going so well!

I had a wonderful evening quite literally on my doorstep at Artist Residence, both down to the amazing food and wonderful service. The staff were friendly, helpful and efficient, the food was exciting, indulgent and delicious. If you're in the area and looking for something special - or if you're staying at Artist Residence, then 64 Degrees is definitely worth considering! Just make sure you book ahead.

The menu at 64 degrees changes seasonally so the food I've mentioned on here may no longer be available. It's worth taking a look online before you take the plunge! They've introduced a few little extras too, such as large plates which I would have loved to try.

Thank you 64 degrees for a lovely evening. I could eat your knödel and venison forever!

She Wears Burgundy