All posts by mirandasnotebook

UK Travel | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 2)

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

I have been having so much fun travelling around the UK lately. I’ve just returned from a few days in Penzance, Cornwall, but before I get started on those travel posts, I wanted to share my final day in York with you. We had a brilliant time, and I discovered some fantastic places that I wanted to tell you about.

York Museum Gardens

We started the morning walking up from the station, admiring the gorgeous blossom and daffodils along the way, to the York Museum Gardens, which are set in the surroundings of the picturesque ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. It was a superb park to visit in the spring, where blossom peeked through the ruined archways. It was so warm that I didn’t need a coat or scarf and could just enjoy my floaty blue dress (another wonderful gift from TOAST, which has already become one of my travel staples, as it’s so comfy and doesn’t crease!).

To my delight, there was a birds of prey show on in the gardens, where you could pay a few pounds to hold any of their birds. I felt a little intimidated by the goshawks (despite being rather fascinated by them ever since reading H is for Hawk), so I picked a snowy little owl that reminded me of Harry Potter’s Hedwig. She was a delight to hold, and I even got to stroke her incredibly soft feathers.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

York Minster

After enjoying our time in the park, we ambled our way towards York Minster and had a thorough rummage through the interesting shops (especially the secondhand bookshop!) and stalls that are clustered near the Minster. The main branch of Bettys  – my favourite Yorkshire tea shop and well worth a visit if you’ve never been – is also very close to York Minster, so we took the opportunity to pick up a few goodies for the train journey back to London.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

York’s Independent Shops and Cafes

By this point, it was definitely time for some lunch, so we wound our way to Fossgate / Walmgate, which are parts of a lovely stretch of road (divided by a pretty little bridge) full of interesting independent shops, bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, being Sunday (remember my point about opening hours outside London?!), most places were closed, but whenever I’m next in York, I’m definitely stopping by The Hairy Fig, a fantastic looking deli, and Paper Pod, which looked like it had beautiful stationery supplies.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

We did pop into Spring, which was happily open and is reported to have the best coffee in York. My Mum loves her coffee, and she pronounced her cup delicious!

A Fantastic Wine Bar

Feeling in the mood for something more substantial than a hot drink, though, we continued down the street until we stumbled on a charming little wine bar, Cave du Cochon, which had a very tempting sounding BBQ and glass of wine deal on for lunch. It doesn’t take much to persuade me into a wine bar, and the delicious aroma of a smoky barbecue wafting into the street, coupled with the promise of a cool, crisp glass of wine, had me bounding through the door.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

As it was such a nice day, we took advantage of the bar’s pretty outside terrace, which we had almost to ourselves. Cave du Cochon has a sister restaurant, Le Cochon Aveugle, which is said to serve delicious French food (another place on my list for when I return!), and this means that great attention to detail and pride in serving delicious food has spilt over to Cave du Cochon, which served up some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had. A perfectly toasted bun was covered in BBQ-ed beef, with toppings of pickled carrots and cucumber and a dollop of well-seasoned crème fraîche.

The wine was excellent too; we were guided by the hugely informative and helpful barman to choose a lovely French white, and he also gave us a little lesson on natural, organic and biodynamic wines, letting us taste a couple, which was fascinating. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we contemplated lingering in the sun over a second glass, but I wanted to explore a little more, so we headed out to take a walk along the city walls instead.

Fantastic Views and Terrific Brownies

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

The ancient walls are incredibly narrow, so progress is a little slow, as you repeatedly stand aside to let people pass, but that means there’s all the more time to admire the gorgeous view of the city spread out before you. I especially enjoyed getting a glimpse of York Minster towering above the rooftops.

After our walk, we realised we had about an hour to spare before catching our train, so we decided to have a cup of tea and one of the famous brownies from Brew and Brownie.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

We both went for the triple chocolate brownie, which was just as good as it sounds, and set us up nicely for the journey home!

Have you been to any of the places in York that I enjoyed? Are you planning a trip to the city soon?

P.S. Read my other posts about our York holiday here and here.

T&T 26 | Reflecting on Our Goals for 2017

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle episode here or on iTunes.

It’s super to have Sophie back on the podcast today, especially as we’re celebrating the 6 month anniversary of Tea & Tattle! We’re having a general catch-up on the podcast today, and Sophie explains why she’s been so busy lately. We’re also reflecting on our theme words that we set at the start of the year in Episode 10. Sophie chose ‘openness’ as a word to frame what she wanted to achieve in 2017, and I chose ‘consistency.’ As we said in January, we want to regularly check in with each other (and with our listeners!) to see how we’re getting on with our goals, and so this episode is devoted to reflecting on our progress through the year so far.

Listen to hear our reflections on the year so far and how much we’ve managed to keep to our theme words of ‘consistency’ and ‘openness.’ 

What are your reflections on the year so far? Are you happy with your progress in 2017? Is there anything that’s working particularly well for you in helping you to attain goals, or is there something you need to change?

Happy Listening!

London Fashion | A Chat With Chloé Marlow

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

Chloé Marlow is the founder of the London-based luxury accessories brand, Marlow London, where she sells her beautiful  scarves and bags. I first discovered Chloé’s designs at an A Luxe Story event last autumn and instantly fell for her fun, fresh approach to fashion. A Luxe Story regularly hosts pop-ups featuring up-and-coming designers, and another pop up event is taking place in Hampstead until 14th May (details here). I highly recommend dropping by if you’re in the area, as there are some fabulous designers represented, including Chloé!

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London FashionChloé Marlow

Marlow London only launched last year, but it has already attracted a huge amount of success, and I’m sure Chloé will keep on going from strength to strength. I managed to have a chat with her about her experience running her own company so soon after graduating and what it’s like breaking into the fashion industry today.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

What made you decide on a career in fashion?

I was very lucky in that I always knew what I wanted to do. I recently found an old diary that I wrote when I was 14, and I’d scribbled all over it that what I wanted to be when I grew up was a fashion designer. I don’t think I ever wanted to be anything else.

You only graduated very recently! What led you to create Marlow London?

I graduated from Central Saint Martins last summer. I never anticipated that I’d launch an accessories brand so soon after graduating! It all came from my final year project, where I was looking at luxury branding and luxury marketing. I’ve always been inspired by luxury brands and the way they represent themselves. I decided I wanted to create a modern-day classic luxury brand.

After graduating, I began apprenticing in a studio, and at the same time I began freelancing for quite a big online fashion retailer. I was meeting talented crafts people at the studio, and I was asking them questions and learning from their experiences, and at the same time I was getting firsthand market research working with the luxury brands I was fascinated by.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

Did you do any business studies before launching Marlow London?

No, I’ve never studied business; I’ve always been really creative. I didn’t really know what I was doing – I had to learn from other people. At the studio I apprenticed at, other artists were starting their own business, or had already been running one for a while, so I was asking them about stockists and costings. I was learning about how to work out the costings of a product from a piece of leather and working out how you can tell how many bags you could make and how much each square meter would cost. So I was learning as I went along. Some people might say you should get more experience, but I personally believe that if you want to do something, do it, and learn as you go.

You have quite a tongue-in-cheek approach to fashion. What is the message behind your designs?

I really enjoy merging fashion and art and to have a real context behind every piece I make. With this collection, I was really fascinated by luxury branding and marketing and by what makes an object valuable, be it the name, the craftsmanship, or the branding. I believe that throughout history wealth has been portrayed by what you’ll wear and what you won’t, and I don’t think today is so much different; people want the latest trend, the coolest brand, the limited edition. My collections aim to question these ideas and people’s perception of what is luxury in humorous ways.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

So what does luxury actually mean to you? How do you like to inject a little luxury into your everyday life?

I think luxury is about exclusivity – something that not everyone else has. It’s also about the longevity of an object and the craftsmanship that goes into making it.

My day-to-day isn’t that luxurious! I’ll wear anything baggy, anything comfortable. I’m usually sprawled out on the floor, wearing two coats because my office is so cold! When I do go out, though, I always make an effort. I’ll take my time choosing my outfit and getting ready, and to me that really is luxury, as I’m treating myself.

What do you think are the top 5 items any woman should have in her closet?

It’s always good to have a flattering pair of jeans that fit really well. You need a good LBD – you can’t go wrong with that! A statement bag never gets boring and goes with every outfit. A tailored jacket too, as that makes you feel like a girl boss! And then my fifth choice would be an accessory like a scarf. I wear oversized scarfs, and a lot of the scarves in my collection are oversized. You can wear them in so many different ways and they really make an outfit.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

What have been some of the highlights so far in your career?

I’m still at the beginning of my career, but first would have to be the evening that I told my boss at the studio that I wanted to quit, and that I wanted to become their client. That was the first step in really becoming my brand, so that was pretty huge! It took a week of my pep-talking myself to do that! Then, the evening I launched my website, it crashed due to too much traffic, which I didn’t anticipate, and my web designers didn’t anticipate it either, so that was a great feeling. Finally, getting my first stockist (Young British Designers) after being in business for less than 6 months was a real highlight.

Does it ever feel overwhelming when things are happening so quickly for you? How do you manage to stay calm?

It can feel very overwhelming! I’m very lucky that I work with my mum, and I bring her along to meetings. She’s always there to support me, and she’ll take some of the load off when I’m struggling to do everything all at once. My mum’s very creative, and I think I get a lot of my creativity from her.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

What would your advice be to someone wishing to pursue a career in fashion?

It’s a very competitive industry, which I learn more and more. There are so many talented creatives producing so many incredible things. You need to find your niche, and when you do you need to be determined. A lot of people may say you’re aiming too high, or that you can’t do something, but if you know what you want to do, do it and aim high. I’d also say get as much experience as you can. My whole way through university, I interned in every break I had, and I was very fortunate to do that. Networking is really important too; it really is the contacts you make and the genuine relationships that you create with people in the industry that matter.

Marlow London | Interview with Chloe Marlow | Miranda's Notebook | London Fashion

Thanks so much again to Chloé for her fabulous answers to my questions! If you’d like to see more of Chloé’s fun creations, check out her instagram feed. You can find Chloé’s beautiful scarves and bags on her website or at Young British Designers.

Don’t you love Chloé’s designs? Which piece would you most like to own? Are you tempted to drop by A Luxe Story pop-up in Hampstead?

Note: All photographs in this post courtesy Marlow London

 

 

T&T 25 | Lindsey Tramuta and The New Paris

Tea and Tattle Podcast Interview | Lindsey Tramuta and The New Paris

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Podcast episode here or on iTunes.

This Tuesday, the lovely Lindsey Tramuta joins me on the podcast for a chat about her book, The New Paris, which was published just last week. Lindsey moved from Philadelphia to Paris a decade ago, and in today’s episode she shares with me the challenges she faced when first living in France, as well as how she came to set up her fabulous blog, Lost in Cheeseland, and start her career in journalism.

I’ve been a fan of Lindsey’s blog, where she shares beautiful photos of Paris and writes thoughtfully about the city’s culture, for a number of years. I was delighted when Lindsey announced she was writing a book, and now I’ve received my copy of The New Paris, I’m so enjoying reading every page of this beautiful celebration of one of my favourite cities.

In The New Paris, Lindsey writes about the changes she has observed in Paris over the past decade that are transforming the city’s creative, food and beverage industries. Lindsey reflects more about these changes on the podcast, as well as the rising ‘creative class’ of Parisians turning passion projects into careers.

We also chat about Lindsey’s research process, her book recommendations for people wanting to know more about the city, and the neighbourhoods Lindsey is particularly enjoying exploring at the moment. Lindsey also reads aloud an excerpt from her book, all about patisserie, which had me craving Pierre Hermé macarons instantly (thank goodness there’s a branch in London!).

Listen for a fascinating insight into the changes Paris has experienced in the creative and food industries over the past decade. 

What did you enjoy most about this episode? Are you a fan of Lindsey’s blog, and have you picked up a copy of The New Paris yet?

P.S. Sign up to receive weekly instalments of Tea & Tattle podcast.

Mark Hearld’s The Lumber Room, York Art Gallery

I mentioned in yesterday’s post how much I loved The Lumber Room exhibition at York Art Gallery. The exhibition is curated by one of my favourite artists, Mark Hearld, who lives in York with another favourite artist of mine, Emily Sutton. The Lumber Room was inspired by a short story Mark read by Saki when he was a teenager (you can read the story here, and I highly encourage you to do so; it’s a quick, but delightful, read).

“Since I heard Saki’s story I have always been intrigued by the idea of a locked room that contained treasures so wonderful they are beyond what your mind can imagine. In this exhibition I wanted to create the sense of excitement and wonder that you get when you discover the key to the room and see the “forbidden” objects for the first time.”  – Mark Hearld

Stepping into Mark Hearld’s exhibition is indeed like finding a wondrous room stuffed to the brim with intriguing and whimsical objects. The Lumber Room is filled with a wide range of artefacts: toys, ceramics, paintings, clothes and so much more, which perfectly capture the spirit of adventure and curiosity that permeate childhood. Everywhere you look something curious or beautiful catches your eye, encouraging you to stop and linger over every display. I took a childlike like pleasure in the vintage ice-cream stand, the old gloves and uniform jackets that made me want to play dress-up, and the wonderful lineup of rocking horses that were hard to resist stroking.

Mark apparently spent two years researching the objects and artwork included in the exhibition, and I thought his curation impeccable, offering a superb mix of the beautiful and the bizarre. This would be a fantastic exhibition for parents or teachers to take children, as it would be a brilliant stimulus for art and writing projects.

I’m a huge fan of Mark’s artwork, so I particularly enjoyed getting to see so many of his original paintings and ceramics as part of the exhibition, as well as many of the objects, colours, and styles that inspire his work. I’ve been to one of his and Emily’s studio tours in the past, which was also treasure trove of ceramics and paintings, and I remembered seeing some of his ceramic horses then too. Aren’t they exquisite?

After spending quite a bit of time in The Lumber Room, we made our way round the rest of York Art Gallery. I was so impressed by the large, comfy sofas and big desks throughout its rooms that visitors are allowed to use (the gallery does a great job at being interactive, which makes it an enjoyable place for children too).

As one entrance ticket allows you access to all exhibitions for the day, we also saw the current Albert Moore exhibition (on until October 2017). I thought it worth the cost of entrance fee just to see the glorious Midsummer painting. The incredible orange and green used in the picture can only be truly appreciated when seen in person, where the painting glows like a jewel amongst all the other works.

Midsummer, Albert Moore. Image via here.

It’s definitely worth taking time to explore York Art Gallery properly. There is a viewing balcony, from which you can look out over the gardens and surrounding buildings. We didn’t have time to pop into the cafe, but it’s run by the same people behind No.8 Bistro, where we enjoyed a fabulous brunch, so I’m sure it would be very good should you fancy a bite to eat or cup of tea.

The Lumber exhibition runs until 7th May, 2017; the Albert Moore exhibition is open until 1st October, 2017. At the time of writing, a standard adult entrance ticket to the Gallery is £6.81, and children under 16 go free with a paying adult. York Art Gallery is open everyday from 10am-5pm.

Are you a fan of Mark Hearld’s artwork too? Have you ever been to York Art Gallery?

P.S. – Look out for my York Travel Guide (Part 2), publishing in the next few days. You can read Part 1 here

UK Travel | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)Travel Style: I’m wearing  trousers (TOAST); jumper (TOAST c/o); striped t-shirt (Laura Ashley c/o – similar here); scarf (TOAST c/o); shoes (TOAST)

I’m increasingly interested in exploring more of the UK, and in particular identifying great destinations that are within easy distance from London. A few weekends ago, Mum and I travelled to York to celebrate my Mum’s best friend’s 60th birthday. Although the celebrations took place in a hotel in a peaceful little village a half hour drive from York, we still managed to spend some time wandering the city on both Saturday and Sunday. The last time I visited York was a few years ago, so it was a real pleasure to be back exploring the beautiful, ancient city.

Our journey from London to York was under 2 hours, so it’s perfectly possible to visit York as a day-trip (or weekend stay) from London. We’d booked an early train from King’s Cross, so we pulled into York station at about 8.30am, feeling a little peckish and on the hunt for a good breakfast spot.

Exploring The Shambles

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

I’d had a suggestion on Instagram that The Flax & Twine cafe would be a good choice for breakfast and a lovely view across The Shambles, an historic (and very picturesque) street in the centre of York that is home to various shops and cafes.

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

Alas, I realised my Londoner’s mindset had entirely overlooked the fact that not everywhere would be open before 9am on a Saturday. The Flax & Twine, and all the other little teashops nearby, were closed until 10am. Still, we took the opportunity to explore the surrounding streets before the masses of tourists arrived (it’s definitely worth arriving early if you’d like some relatively people-free shots of this popular part of the city). Every little alleyway seems to lead somewhere interesting in York, whether to a beautiful timbered building, or an inviting bakery, and there’s also a market at The Shambles (open from 7am everyday) which is fun to explore. I thought of a friend back in London and picked up some Yorkshire fudge for him to enjoy.

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

After our walk, my growling stomach was getting harder to ignore, and a little research on my phone told me that No. 8 Bistro was a short walk away and served a highly acclaimed brunch menu.

A Wonderful Breakfast

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

I’ll have to go back to Flax and Twine next time I’m in York, but I’m very glad that on this visit I discovered No. 8 Bistro, as it was the ideal spot to enjoy a tasty brunch on a sunny spring day. The Bistro has a very pretty garden, which is overlooked by the City of York Walls, and was a haven of sunshine, peace and good food. We had the garden almost entirely to ourselves (it seems the city doesn’t really wake up until about 11am on the weekend), and it was a lovely place to relax over a cup of tea before tucking into our Full English breakfasts.

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

We had the full works: eggs, sausage, bacon, fried tomato and mushroom, hash-browns and black pudding, with toast alongside and copious amounts of tea. It was absolutely delicious, and I’d be happy for a visit to York to always start out with breakfast at No.8 first.

York Art Gallery

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

I was very keen to get to York Art Gallery to see The Lumber Room exhibition (ends 7th May 2017) curated by one of my favourite York-based illustrators, Mark Hearld. I’d been on a tour of Mark and Emily’s home and studio when I was last in York, so I was very pleased that this time I was able to catch his exhibition. It was marvellous, so much so that I want to dedicate an entire post to my time at the York Art Gallery alone, so look out for that very soon!

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

After seeing the Gallery’s main exhibitions, we had a little wander around the pretty courtyard next to it, before heading back to the train station (only a 10 minute walk away) to catch a bus to Boroughbridge and celebrate with the birthday girl for the rest of the day.

Some Practical Tips

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

// Pack sensibly. It’s colder up North! I didn’t bring a coat with me, but I was very glad to have layered  a t-shirt, jumper and chunky scarf (I was lucky to be sent the latter items from TOAST, who noticed my love of their clothes from this post). Even though the sun was shining brightly, it was definitely chilly in the shadows.

// If you have extra bags with you, leave them at York Train Station so you don’t have to lug them around with you all day. It cost £7 per bag for the day (but prices may change or vary).

// Check opening times in advance! I’ve been caught out a few times now by having too much of a London mentality. The rest of the UK generally has much shorter opening hours and shops are often closed on Sundays, so be sure to plan ahead.

// If you don’t have a car, it can feel daunting to get out into the countryside. I was impressed by the bus system from York though, which is a tiny fraction of the cost of a taxi, and there are buses to pretty villages in the surrounding countryside, as well as to places of interest like the awe-inspiring Castle Howard. Be warned again though: for the most part, buses run on Saturdays, but often not Sundays! Check York bus times online, or pick up a timetable from the tourist information centre at York Train Station.

Stay tuned for my upcoming York posts, covering the fantastic York Art Gallery and how we spent Sunday in the city.

Have you been to York? What did you enjoy about your visit? Like me, are you keen to explore more of the UK?

P.S. For further inspiration about easy day trips from London, see my posts about Rye (here and here), Hastings, Bath, East Sussex (here and here) and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens.

P.P.S. Read about my Yorkshire adventures from a previous trip here.

T&T 24 | Brontë Aurell and Scandi Kitchen

Bronte Aurell and Scandi Kitchen

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Episode here or on iTunes.

There’s a change to the Tea & Tattle routine today, as because Sophie and I have had conflicting schedules lately (she’s been in the States and travelling around the UK, and I’ve been juggling a lot on my plate lately too), we couldn’t quite make a date work for recording. Happily, though, Sophie will be back on the podcast for our first episode in May, and I’ve got a brilliant guest for you today: Brontë Aurell of Scandi Kitchen.

Originally from Denmark, Brontë now lives in London, and she founded Scandi Kitchen, a charming cafe on Great Titchfield street, with her husband several years ago. Since then Scandi Kitchen has gone from strength to strength, garnering a large base of devoted customers. I love to drop by for a cheeky post-gym serving of meatballs, or one of Brontë’s delicious cinnamon buns.

Brontë has also written some brilliant cookbooks – The Scandi Kitchen and Fika and Hygge – as well as the recently published, The Essence of Hygge, which I have yet to read, but I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy! I own both of Brontë’s cookbooks and am a huge fan of her tasty recipes. In fact, as a little thanks for all the support we have had for Tea & Tattle so far (we’re coming up to our 6 month anniversary in May!), I’ve decided to give away a signed copy of Fika and Hygge to a Tea & Tattle listener (the giveaway is open to international listeners too).

***To enter the giveaway, simply put a comment on my instagram picture and tag a friend who you think would enjoy Tea & Tattle podcast too.*** 

I so enjoyed this chat with Brontë, where we discussed how Brontë’s childhood influenced her love of food, as well as how she balances her busy professional and family lives and some of the biggest challenges she and her husband have faced in running a small business in London (including giving birth on the day Scandi Kitchen opened!). I was also fascinated to hear Brontë explain what hygge means to her and how she finds moments of hygge in London.

Listen for an interesting conversation on  Scandinavian culture, the difference between hygge and lagom, some great baking advice and much more. 

T&T 23 | All About Wine With Amelia Singer

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Podcast Episode here or on iTunes.

This Tuesday, I’m joined by the utterly delightful Amelia Singer, a wine educator and expert. You may recognise Amelia as a host on ITV’s The Wine Show and also from her videos on Jamie Oliver’s Drinks Tube. Amelia runs her online website and event business, offering a range of events, wine tastings and insights into the wine industry. I can’t wait to book one of Amelia’s Mews House Musings supper clubs, which she hosts in her own home in Notting Hill.

Amelia Singer and fellow co-hosts of The Wine Show. Photo credit: The Wine Show.

I’m a big fan of Amelia’s fun, accessible approach to wine, and I had a wonderful time chatting to her for this episode. Our talk ranged from what it’s like to be a woman in a fairly male-dominated industry, to Amelia’s favourite book and wine pairings.

We also discussed the best way to serve champagne (and surprising food that goes particularly well with bubbles – who knew fish & chips would be such a hit?!), as well as great wine bars in London and what drink to order on a first date. Amelia is such an incredible source of knowledge on everything wine related – I could have spoken to her for hours!

Middlemarch by George Eliot (one of Amelia’s favourite books)

Listen for a fun conversation on women in the wine industry, book and wine pairings, what to drink on a first date and so much more. 

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Review

You know those days when you’re craving a steak? Or a proper burger? Possibly a milkshake too? Well, I’ve got just the place for you. Dirty Bones in Shoreditch is a mere 2 minute walk from Shoreditch High Street station and is a great option for when you’re in the mood for some American comfort food.

I met a friend for lunch there last week, and our meal brought back memories of my childhood growing up in California and New York. There are many American classics listed on the menu, from hot wings to proper mac and cheese, but with an updated twist that elevates these traditional comfort foods to a fantastic dining experience.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Review

The restaurant itself feels very ‘London’ to me, with its muted tones and piles of vintage books (and even a vintage typewriter) scattered about. I arrived rather early and snapped a few shots before tables filled up. Sunlight streamed through the windows, and I ordered a chai tea and some freshly pressed apple juice, taking a seat on one of the plush velvet sofas as I waited for my friend.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I barely had time to pull my book out of my bag before he arrived, and we got down to the serious business of deciding what to eat, ordering a glass of prosecco to help the decision process.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

Dirty Bones’s menu is seriously tempting, and I was torn between a burger or steak. In the end I decided steak, but I think I’ll have to go back to try the burger soon, as it sounded amazing as well. To start things off though, I ordered salt + pepper squid (I can never resist this dish when I see it on a menu, as it’s one of my favourites, and it’s also a good test of a restaurant, as there’s nothing worse than rubbery squid!), and my friend ordered the chicken hot wings.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I really loved the presentation of these starters, served in little enamel dishes, from which we could pile our plates. I’m definitely using this idea for serving snacks and canapes at home! My squid was beautifully tender, and – a little to my surprise, as I don’t normally like spicy dishes –  I loved the chilli and chipotle aioli drizzled generously on top. The sauce provided a great kick of flavour without being overpowering. My friend enjoyed the squid a lot too, but he was fairly busy demolishing the chicken wings, which I tasted as well, and thought were very good.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

Next up – the mains! I’d gone for the flat iron steak, and my friend plumped for the Shoreditch Signature dish: lamb cutlets served with a tangy jalapeño sauce. We’d chosen one side dish each too: I threw any thought of calorie counting to the wind and put my order in for cheesy truffle fries (yum), with my friend showing a little more restraint and opting for grilled aubergine layered with parmesan and a tomato, garlic and basil sauce.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I hadn’t realised that what is stated on the menu really is all you get, so my steak wasn’t served with even a garnish of salad, and in retrospect, I would recommend ordering 3 side dishes between two people and making sure one of them is a leafy salad, or perhaps a ‘crunchy slaw.’ I must say though, that steak and chips is always a favourite combination of mine, and my steak was cooked to perfection: succulent, tender and pink. The cheesy truffle fries are layered with a  cheese sauce, cheddar, aged parmesan and white truffle oil and are just the kind of thing you fantasise about if you’ve been on a no-carbs diet for too long ( in my case, about a day).

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

I was so busy polishing off my steak and airing my thoughts on The Lord of the Rings (my friend is currently reading it and isn’t too impressed, and we were both agreeing the book could do with some serious editing), that I forgot to taste my friend’s cutlets, but he pronounced them exceedingly good. We both shared our side dishes, though. Personally, I find it hard to beat anything involving carbs, cheese and truffle oil, but the aubergine was very yummy too.

Our decadence didn’t end there, as next we were presented with the dessert menu. I loved the playful choices that were a throwback to childhood: waffles, doughnuts, cookies and ice-cream. My friend went with the peanut butter cookie cup, and I chose the milk & cookie – milk gelato with a deliciously chocolatey biscuit.

London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review London Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant ReviewLondon Food | Dirty Bones, Shoreditch | Miranda's Notebook Restautant Review

The milk gelato was incredible – it had a delicacy to it that paired perfectly with the richness of the chocolate, but was also exceedingly good all by itself. My friend’s choice was also excellent  – perfect for peanut butter lovers!

We both thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Dirty Bones, and I definitely recommend dropping by next time you’re in Shoreditch. There are also branches in Kensington and Carnaby, and one about to open in Soho (which I think is great, as Dirty Bones has the perfect Dean Street vibe to it!). This is a terrific restaurant to go to with an old friend – someone you can split cheesy fries and ice-cream and cookies with without feeling self-conscious. I also think it would provide great atmosphere for a birthday gathering, and it’s worth remembering there’s a great cocktail hour and often live music in the evenings!

Do you like the look of the Dirty Bones menu? What are your favourite American comfort food dishes?

Note: our meal was complimentary, but all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own and those of my friend. 

T&T 22 | Expanding Jane Austen’s World

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Podcast here or on iTunes.

Today, Sophie and I are hosting a special episode, as we’re in conversation with two other longtime friends: Janet Todd and Diana Birchall. Both Janet and Diana have written novels expanding upon or reworking Jane Austen’s books and are highly knowledgeable about our favourite author and her world. Sophie and I were thrilled to get the chance to sit down and chat with them both about their writing and how Jane Austen has influenced their lives and friendship.

Janet Todd is the former President of Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge, and is well-known for her non fiction works on early women writers and for her books about Mary Wollstonecraft, Aphra Behn, and Jane Austen. Janet has also branched out into fiction and wrote a fabulous rewriting of Jane Austen’s Lady Susan, called Lady Susan Plays the Game. It was Diana who first alerted me to Janet’s other brilliant novel, A Man of Genius, which is set in the early 1800s and tells the story of Ann, a writer of Gothic fiction (coincidentally, A Man of Genius has just been released in its paperback edition, so do look out for it!). It was fascinating to learn how Jane Austen, women writers and Gothic fiction influenced Janet in writing this book.

Diana Birchall recently retired from her role as a Story Analyst at Warner Brothers, and she has written numerous stories extending the world of Jane Austen’s books, including the fabulously witty Mrs Darcy’s Dilemma. Diana regularly contributes stories and articles relating to Jane Austen to various publications and websites, including the Jane Austen Society of North America and Jane Austen Variations. Diana lives in America, but travels regularly to the UK.

Listen for a thought-provoking discussion on Jane Austen, her writing and world.