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

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Life's Loves: February Favourites

Yes, it's a little late, but it's time for another favourites post! I hope you're not bored of them by now. Another month sped by in a flash! February was full of running, train journeys and family. I had a lot of very busy weekends filled with my favourite people - and food, and I can barely collect my memories together for this post.

As usual, I like to share a few of my favourite things with you all in the hope to inspire you and even give a little advice. So, without further ado, here are a few of my favourite things from this month!


Couvent des Minimes Hand Cream - Botanical Recipe of Love

Containing beeswax, shea butter and coconut oil, this hand cream is light and incredibly moisturising. Honestly, this came in a set of three and I've been using all of them every day - I love the fresh, natural scents and this has been perfect during the chilly few weeks before spring!

Eyeliner is a staple in my makeup bag - I honestly feel a little naked without it. I bought a set of four from Soap and Glory in the Boots January sales as it was such a bargain and have fallen in love with them! I've used the black kohl liner before so jumped at the chance to try a few different colours to mix things up a little. These stay on all day, which is perfect, and are so easy to use. I love the brown colour for a more subtle look and adore using the green for a pop of colour.


Aubergine Fox teardrop necklace

I love to try to support smaller businesses when I can, and I've been following Aubergine Fox on Instagram and Twitter for months. When I heard that they were selling some of their Etsy products in a local start-up store in Southampton I couldn't resist popping in, and bought this delicate teardrop necklace! I wear it all the time and have had many complements from friends and family. I can't resist simple gold jewellery to finish an outfit.


All the Bright Things by Jennifer Niven

This book hasn't been out for long, and so I was excited to get stuck in! All the Bright Things is a Young Adult novel, but I don't think that should stop anyone reading it - after all, great books like The Fault in our Stars are also classed as YA! I loved this book and it certainly is an emotional read, so I hope to write a review of sorts very soon.

Top with Cinnamon by Izy Hossack

A recipe book written by a blogger with gorgeous photos and delicious recipes? Perfect! I was given this for my birthday in November and have been trying it out over the last month - so far, so good! Aside from a little mix-up with cayenne pepper and tbsp vs tsp (ooooops!) everything has been very tasty. If you're looking to expand your recipe book collection and want an attractive addition I cant recommend this enough.


Pearl small clear bowl, The Hambledon

I purchased this cute glass bowl during one of my little jaunts to Winchester - and it's perfect for all of my little bits of jewellery! I love how simple it is and it's the perfect size. 


Film scores

Throughout the month of February I was listening to film scores pretty much non-stop at work - I find they're perfect for motivation and relaxation! You read my recent post to find out about my favourites.

Food & Drink

64 degrees

At the very end of the month I indulged in an incredible evening at 64 Degrees in London. I will be reviewing it in the next few weeks but for now I will just say...WOW.  It's definitely a restaurant to choose for a very special treat.

Beetroot, Oxford

I stumbled across Beetroot when I was wandering down Cowley Road in Oxford one rainy Saturday. I can't resist a health food cafe and ended up diving straight in without hesitation and ordering a bowl of salad and a fresh apple and pear juice. Everything was so fresh and light and it was the perfect healthy treat! Sadly they don't have a website but if you're in the area I'd recommend checking it out.

Savoury pancakes

February of course involved pancake day! I'm normally a lemon and sugar kind of girl, but I fancied something a little different this year! I ended up enjoying pancakes for both a main meal and dessert, enjoying a vegetable and goats cheese pancake. It was delicious, and I'll definitely make them again for a light lunch!

What were you enjoying last month?

She Wears Burgundy

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

A night in The Loft at Artist Residence, London

A couple of months ago, I was fortunate enough to win a night in a beautiful hotel, Artist Residence, in the Pimlico area of London.

In truth, I had worked very hard that week entering the competition, which gave away a different room every day if you could tell them where they purchased a specific and obscure item from the chosen room’s interior.

For a few days I spent a little time each morning trawling through the internet to find the object for that particular day, and every day I was too late and unsuccessful. Until, somehow, I spotted Thursday’s item - a quirky bed frame - on the Anthropologie Europe website (with a little help from Pinterest…), commented on the Facebook page…and was contacted that evening with the good news that I had won a night in the hotel’s Loft room.

I cannot tell you how ecstatic and over the moon I was!

You see, at the end of last year I was dreaming about going to the same company's Brighton hotel upon recommendation from a friend for my birthday in November...but sadly, it didn’t work out. So you can imagine how delighted I was to finally have a chance to enjoy this gorgeous hotel for one night!

I contacted the team, who booked my room without a fuss, and two weeks ago I set off for London to enjoy my prize.

Artist Residence is a boutique hotel chain which can be found in Brighton, London and Cornwall. They specialise in quirky, comfortable and homely rooms, of all different sizes and designs. The London hotel is, as I mentioned, situated in Pimlico, meaning it’s an easy distance from Victoria, Chelsea and is also a walkable distance from Central London. You can read more about Artist Residence London on their About Us page - its worth a look if you’re intrigued! I think the main thing I should highlight, however, is how beautiful their interiors you'll see.

I arrived at the hotel at about 5pm on my chosen Saturday afternoon, following a delicious family celebratory brunch at Source in Battersea (watch out for a review of that!). It was a fairly grey day, and after a quick walk from Sloane Square station in Chelsea and a little help from Google maps, I was welcomed into the hotel by a lovely lady at reception.

Inside, the hotel was intimate and cosy and it felt very much like we had walked into someone’s home! It was quiet and warm with lovely decor. Upon arrival I was recognised as the competition winner and was quickly escorted up to the room - at the very top of the hotel! It was a bit of a climb (there was no lift - so those with limited access or lots of luggage may have struggled) but it was worth it.

As soon as I stepped into the Loft room, I fell in love. It was exactly as the photos had suggested. I’ve always adored attic rooms and wanted one for years as a teen - and this was an absolute dream come true.

Prepare yourself for plenty of photographs - I just couldn't help myself!

The Loft had an incredibly rustic, homey feel, with exposed brick, wooden and white painted walls. The furniture had all been carefully picked, and fresh flowers were perched on the table by the window. I was delighted to find a luxurious bathroom with a french tub, indulgent toiletries, fluffy towels and heavy, high quality bath robes provided (the shower was equally as gorgeous and spacious!). It did occur to me that this would only be an appropriate room for the very intimate or unabashed, however, as there was no hiding from view when taking a soak!

You can see from the photos how gorgeous the room was - so I won’t go on - but it was a real treat and I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to be spending a night in such a wonderful place. It was quiet, comfortable and very, very special. I found that it was the perfect size, and had everything you'd need for a comfortable weekend away, with armchairs, a desk and the usual mini-fridge (with some delicious treats inside! The king size bed was an absolute dream too.

I can personally vouch that the bath was perfect for an early evening soak before dinner! The ideal antidote to lots of train journeys and a busy day rushing around England’s capital city. The Loft was tranquil and stylish little hideaway, perfect for a romantic weekend for two. I could have spent all day reading in one of the armchairs with a cup of tea. This is what I can only dream that my future home would look like!

After an incredible meal later that evening at the hotel’s restaurant, 64 Degrees (another upcoming review, I promise!) I settled into the bed for a very well-earned sleep. The sheets felt amazing and I was warm and snug and perfectly relaxed. I can't express how comfortable the bed was.

I woke up on Sunday morning feeling utterly refreshed, revitalised and ready for another busy day! The weather was beautiful and everything was so quiet and peaceful, considering I was in London.

Sadly I wasn’t able to sample the breakfast - I already had plans for the morning -  but the menu looked divine and I would love to return to try some of the dishes one morning. However, I instead enjoyed a very welcome cup of tea before checking out at a very generous 11am - there was no rush to leave!

I was very sad to bid farewell to Artist Residence so soon, but I had the perfect night away in the lap of luxury, and was beaming for many hours afterwards. It was such a treat!

I’m not sure I’ll be able to enjoy The Loft  room again in the future (it’s a little out of my budget!) but I fell in love with the hotel and would be delighted to return in the future for another weekend away - or, more temptingly, I would love to head to their Brighton hotel for a quirky seaside break!

If you’re looking for a luxurious hotel which has gorgeous interiors, friendly staff and is every bloggers dream (are 'Pinterest-able' and 'Instagrammable' real words?!) then I would highly recommend Artist Residence. It's a slice of modern luxury without any pretentiousness - a little pocket of quirky calm and perfection in busy ol’ London town. 

Thank you for having me, Artist Residence - I hope to be back someday!

I was not given this stay in return for a blog post - this was written without prompting purely because I loved my experience so much!
All images in this post are my own - please do not use without permission.

She Wears Burgundy