M&S Gold Shimmered Praline Eggs*

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When it comes to Easter, it can sometimes feel like children get all the fun. Don’t get me wrong, I love a chocolate bunny as much as the next year (and I’ve got the posts to prove it coming up!) But when the cravings for chocolate strike, it’s nice to be able to treat yourself to something which feels a little more grown-up.

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Which is why I’ve fallen more than a little in love with this stunning gift from M&S – a pink and gold metal egg which cracks open to reveal a surprise filling – a handful of gold shimmered eggs, filled with a rich almond praline.

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They’re certainly a showstopper – golden and glinting in the light, these look more like decorations than sweet treats. Happily though, they’re as delicious as they are pretty.

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Each egg is surprisingly chunky in size, and they’re such a treat to enjoy! The crisp outer shell melts to reveal a creamy filling, filled with a rich and nutty almond praline.

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They’re a true adult egg which will make you wish it was Easter every weekend, and my favourite way to enjoy one? With a cup of piping hot coffee – delish!

Celebrate Mother’s Day with M&S*

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Heads up – Mother’s Day falls on March 11th, so you’ve got exactly 10 days to pick up a present which will make you Mum’s favourite. Tough call? Of course – so imagine my relief when M&S sent a very tempting email detailing all of their top gift ideas.

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In between stunning bouquets of flowers and tins of biscuits, were some of the most beautiful Spring-inspired treats I’ve seen. Since I’ve been running around with a schedule which feels jam-packed, M&S very kindly sent over some of my favourites, so I could cross the ‘presents for Mum’ job off the list.

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The first of the goodies to be unwrapped was the box of handmade nougat. Filled with three flavours – Pistachio, Hazelnut & Sour Cherry, and Raspberry & Almond, these are a perfect treat to enjoy alongside an afternoon cup of tea or coffee.

Studded with generous chunks of fruit and nuts, these are absolutely stunning as well as being absolutely delicious. The treats are suitable for vegetarian mums, and are priced at a reasonable £5 per box.

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The Peach Bellini Truffles certainly stood out in the box – packaged in a beautiful, flower-covered box, the truffles shine inside like gems.

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These glossy peach truffles might just be the most glamorous chocolates on the market right now, so if your mum is a bit of a glamazon, she’s going to love these! Crisp milk chocolate shells hold a rich, fruity ganache filling made with real prosecco and peach. The mix of fruit and chocolate is perfect for a treat, and the hint of booze is just delicious! The Peach Bellini Truffles are priced at £4, which makes them a perfect addition to any Mother’s Day hamper you might be planning.

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Last up, but certainly not least are these stunning Fruit Coulis Gems. Perhaps M&S’ most eye-catching product in the Mother’s Day collection. A mix of fruity centres, all encased with crisp yet creamy tasting shells, these are absolutely stunning!

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As delicious as they are, I can’t help but be obsessed with how good these look! They’re priced at £8 per box, and are sure to impress!

Thank you so much to M&S for all of my gorgeous Mother’s Day treats!

Valentines Day with M&S*

Your Secret Admirer's Gift Box £20 online

Valentines Day has become one of those holidays which has become fashionable to roll your eyes at, but I’m not going to lie – I love it! The decorations are always adorable, and it’s led to fun night’s out like Galentines Day … so what’s not to love?!

Be My Sweet Heart £3 130g

M&S have really pushed the boat out with their Valentines offerings – whether you just want a little love token (try these cute foiled hearts) or if you’re looking for something a little more dramatic (this velvet box of chocolates is a show stopper) they’ve got something for you!Single Origin Milk Chocolate Heart £3, 26g

As you would hope and imagine, there is a big emphasis on hearts – but they’ve also got some super cute gummies as well as fabulous bouquets of flowers. They can be ordered online, and collected in-store too, so there is no reason to feel flustered on Wednesday! M&S is even offering a special take on their famous ‘Dine In’ offer. Since restaurants are going to be packed on Wednesday – M&S are offering a Dine in for Two for £20. The deal offers up a starter, a main course, side dish, dessert, chocolates and a bottle of wine or fizz for you to enjoy! Perfect for a cosy night in!

You can find out more about Valentines Gifts at M&S here.

Celebrate Valentines Day with Ask Italian*

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When it comes to planning your Valentine festivities, it can sometimes feel that everything is too fancy, too expensive, and a bit too cliched. So, when I caught sight of Ask Italian’s Valentine’s Day menu it sounded great – a yummy menu, convenient city-centre location and affordable price, I mean, what’s not to love?

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So, after a busy day working away in Edinburgh we headed over to the West End location. Located right off Princes Street on Shandwick Place, it’s a perfect spot to enjoy a casual meal when you’re in the city centre. Right in time for the big day, Ask Italian have released a capsule menu, which offers up three courses and a glass of prosecco for £21.95 each – bargain!

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Since it had been one of those days where you’re so busy there’s not even time to think about lunch, let alone go out and enjoy something. By the time we reached Ask Italian we were suitably famished. Honestly, when it comes to Italian, it’s hard to go far wrong, so we opted to share the Butterfly King Prawns and the Mushrooms al Forno.

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Both arrived at the table positively sizzling – and one we had piled on some parmesan, we tucked right in. Both the prawns and mushrooms came served up on top of crisp slices of garlic bread, and they were just what we needed after a hectic day. The garlicky prawns were juicy and full of garlicky flavour, whilst the mushrooms came stuffed with cheese.

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We couldn’t resist trying a classic like the Fettuccine Bolognese – a real classic, it was a delightful mix of rich tomato rags and mince. To give it a real taste of authenticity, Ask Italian serve up the dish with fettuccine, or with spaghetti if you’d prefer.

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I opted for the Penne al Pollo Della Cast, which came served with a fresh leafy salad. A house favourite, the mix of chicken, mushrooms and pasta came bubbling away in a cream white wine sauce. It was just the kind of thing I wanted to enjoy on a freezing Edinburgh night!

The mix of fresh salad with such a rich dish was delicious, and the white wine and cream sauce felt incredibly decadent to enjoy.

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Even though we were stuffed from all the starters and mains, we couldn’t resist ordering some pudding! I opted for Chocolate Etna (£1.50 supplement), the most dramatic dessert in the lineup. Presented as a chocolate globe, it was smothered in hot salted caramel sauce, which was used to reveal the creamy vanilla gelato and a surprisingly light chocolate sponge within. Hot, rich and incredibly decadent, it was a delicious end to the evening.

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We also tried the Yoghurt Pana Cotta, which was a beautifully light and tangy way to end the meal. Served with berries and an edible flower, it was as delicious as it was pretty!

The Valentines menu will be available for a limited time, and you can see the whole menu here.

Dinner at Kinnettles Hotel St. Andrews*

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St Andrews is always going to be a favourite spot for me – after spending years at school and at university there I feel like I know every little corner of the town. Over the past few years though, chain restaurants have started to creep in, and it can sometimes feel like a meal out has become a little ‘samey.’ So I positively jumped at the chance of dining in the gorgeous Kinnettles Hotel restaurant.

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The dining room itself is stunning – a metallic feature wall glints in the light, and we kicked off supper with a couple of cocktails. Even though it was a Sunday night, I couldn’t resist an updated Old Fashioned. Bourbon was mixed with orange bitters, and a homemade, maple infused simple syrup. Wonderfully fragrant and delicious to sip on, it was a glorious choice! We also tried the elderflower mock mojito. Fresh and fruity, it was equally delicious, and you’d never know it was virgin!

The meal kicked off with freshly homemade bread and sea-salted butter. Deliciously soft, these are the breads I always attempt to make at home, yet never quite get there. As we would find throughout the meal, Kinnettles only serve fresh, locally sourced produce, which is currently in season. It means that menus change regularly, and if you’re looking for a new lunch spot, they offer two courses for an incredible £12.95!

We were then served up a couple of the most delicious amuse-bouche, which set the tone for the meal. First off a white bean dip served up with homemade crackers – rich in flavour we may have used the last of the bread to finish every last morsel. The second was a cod goujon, which was divine. The quality of the fresh cod was emphasised by the zesty lemon mayonnaise.

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After tasting how delicious the cod was, I couldn’t resist ordering the Bergamot Cured Sea Trout with Pickled Heritage Carrots, Scorched Orange, Almond & Chive Dressing (£9).

An absolute riot of colour and taste, I’ve been dreaming about this dish since Sunday! The sea trout was firm and flavourful, without erring on the too-fishy side, and the use of scorched orange was an absolute revelation! Bright, fruity with a good dose of crunch thanks to the heritage carrots, this was a real taste of summer!

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We also opted for the Ham Hock Raviolo, Burnt Tomato Consommé, Hazelnuts (£9). As well as looking incredibly dramatic, the consommé had a beautifully clear tomato flavour, whilst the ham hock gave the dish a rich, savoury depth.

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Main courses were equally dramatic, and thankfully, just as delicious. The Cod, Orange Braised Chicory, Brown Shrimp, Pomme Dauphine, Parsley & Chive Puree (£23) made the most of the hunk of fresh fish, which petaled into hunks of firm, pearly flesh.

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Topped with sweet Brown Shrimp, this felt like a dish fit for a seaside town. The presentation of all the dishes was right side of dramatic. With coloured leaves creeping over the dish, it was as delicious as it was beautiful.

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I couldn’t resist the Roasted Venison, Grilled Herbs Polenta, Heritage Carrot, Braised Red Cabbage, Chestnuts (£23). I’m having a bit of a love affair with the meat at the moment, and this was sheer perfection. Roasted on the outside, whilst perfectly rare in the centre, it melted in the mouth.

As if the venison wasn’t perfect enough, it was served alongside the most wonderful Grilled Herb Polenta – crisp on the outside, and buttery smooth on the inside, it was an absolute joy of a pairing, soaking up the meat’s juices and providing a wonderfully rich element to the dish.

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In addition to the wonderful venison and polenta, the dish featured sweet heritage carrots and braised red cabbage. It felt like it was all my favourite things on a plate, which combined to create a dish inspired by the best of winter produce.

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Even though we had indulged in two courses, when we caught sight of Pressed Beetroot, White Chocolate Bavarois, Dark Chocolate Sponge, Beetroot Sorbet (£8) on the dessert menu, we couldn’t resist! After all, when have you had the option to indulge in beetroot sorbet?

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It was an absolute triumph of a dish – the sweet earthiness of the beetroot worked perfectly with the rich dark chocolate, and the combination of textures was just divine! The White Chocolate Bavarois leant a hint of sweetness to the overall dessert, and the crisp, tempered chocolate was delicious as well as incredibly beautiful!

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I opted for the Apple & Mascarpone Sugar Tuile, Apple & Basil Sorbet, Almond Shortcrust (£8), which although probably the exact opposite of the rich chocolate and beetroot pudding, was equally delicious.

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The Mascarpone was encased in the most beautiful sugar tuiles, and was so light and flavourful. Apple and cinnamon is one of my all-time flavour combinations, and this was a particularly airy take on the duo.

Cubes of fresh granny smith gave a hit of freshness, whilst the apple and basil sorbet was fresh and green. The dessert all rested on a buttery shortcrust base, and it was just perfect end to a delicious meal! It’s undoubtedly one of the best meals I’ve had in St. Andrews, ever, and we’re already planning a return visit!

Thank you so much to Kinnettles Hotel for having us! You can find out more about the hotel and restaurant here.

Celebrate Veganuary with Harvey Nichols Edinburgh*

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One of the most popular resolutions which people proclaim each year, has to be the ‘I’ll be healthier.’ It can encompass most things, whether it’s a new gym membership, new classes to attend, or even a healthier diet, but recently the rise of ‘Veganuary’ has been hard to ignore. Certainly, the appeal of nixing all animal products from your diet sounds appealing, but it also sounds tough. No meat means no quick ham sandwich for lunch, no juicy steak to enjoy at the end of a long week – not to mention no skimmed latte to start each morning off!

So, to make life easy, Harvey Nichols has introduced a new, completely Vegan menu which will be running all January. It’s a delicious affair offering a choice of salads, soups and main courses, perfect for treating yourself to (with absolutely no guilt!). We stopped in on a very cold, snowy night after work, desperate for some hearty dishes. I’m glad to say, we were far from disappointed. Still shaking off snowflakes, we were shown to a table with the best view in Edinburgh – St. Andrew Square below us, and the castle illuminated from afar, where we were able to choose our starters (Hummus, black olive and sun blush tomato salad with pita bread £7 and Chunky winter vegetable soup £6.50) and mull over the day’s events. I’m not sure if it was the cold, or simply how ravenous we were, but I completely forgot to take any photographs of the starter!

My enthusiasm for getting stuck in meant we were a good 3/4 of the way through when we noticed my camera sitting there on the table untouched … oops!

Despite my lack of evidence, both dishes were divine. The Hummus was light, and flavoured wth lemon, whilst the pitas were soft and warm, and the whole thing was just delicious. I had chosen the Chunky Soup, and it was exactly the sort of thing I was in the mood for – piping hot, and absolutely chock-full of tomatoes, courgettes and all other sorts of vegetables, it was served with freshly baked bread, and was a perfect antidote to the freezing temperatures outside.

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After forgetting to photograph the starters, I hovered over the mains until they were suitably documented! Vegetable and Chickpea Chilli was served with Guacamole and homemade Tortilla Chips (£11) and was another delicious choice in cold weather.

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The mix of tomatoes, chickpeas, peppers and sweetcorn was delicious, and suitably spiced, whilst the homemade tortilla chips and guacamole were a delicious accompaniment. It’s a dish I’d never even imagine could be vegan (my own guacamole is usually about 1/2 sour cream) but I didn’t miss any of the animal products, so it’s definitely something I’ll be recreating at home!

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Since I’m going through a bit of a curry-kick at the moment, I wasn’t able to resistive Lentil and Spinach Curry served with a Garlin Pitta Bread (£11). This was another absolutely knockout dish! For anyone who thinks vegetarian/vegan cook is boring, then they need a bowl of this to prove them wrong.

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The curry was made up of creamed chickpeas, which had a delicious mint and coriander dressing, as well as fresh spinach mixed through. The different textures and flavours in the curry made it such a joy of a dish, and it’s another one I’m planning to recreate at home!

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Served alongside the yummiest hot, fluffy garlic pita you can imagine, this was exactly what I needed after a long day at work. I absolutely wolfed it down, and it was perfect served alongside a glass of vegan wine. Yes – the menu even has completely vegan wines to choose from which you can order by the glass or by the bottle. Whether you prefer white, red, rose or even sparkling, there’s a choice in there for you! We enjoyed a glass of the Primitivo (£9) a rich, fruity red and Garnacha Blanco (£7.50) a light, sweet white. I’m admittedly not a big wine drinker, but the Garnacha Blanco was a complete revelation – it was sweet and incredibly drinkable (which was dangerous considering it was a school night!).

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Even though we were absolutely stuffed from supper, when spied a vegan Banana Split (£6.50) neither of us could resist! What arrived was the cutest, and most delicious dessert you could imagine! The vegan sorbets were absolute perfection – the raspberry was incredibly bright and fruity, whilst the chocolate was so rich and moreish! The coconut cream was wonderfully light and airy, and there was even a cherry hidden in the middle in there!

It was such a delicious meal, and it’s really changed the way I’ve thought about introducing vegan dishes into my everyday routine! I’m already planning a return trip!

Information about Harvey Nichols Forth Floor can be found here.

An Evening at Boston & Hawthorne, Edinburgh*

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A couple of weeks before Christmas, a new face opened in Edinburgh’s Stockbridge – Boston & Hawthorne. Billed as the capital’s only curiosity bar, it’s a cosy little spot, tucked off the main street, with killer cocktails and a menu perfect for sharing.

When I popped in, it was for a special opening event. With candles flickering, we were given time to explore the cabinets and mingle, before sitting down to sharing banquet. The food for the evening had a Roman-theme, which was entirely unexpected – so as we were seated we were plied with mead as we got to know everyone at the table.

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The first course was a pizza bread, absolutely covered in cooked peppers. As with the rest of the meal, we were encouraged to use our hands and dig in!

With a perfectly crisp base, this was such a delicious way to start our meal. The peppers had been cooked until soft and sweet , and the pizza dough had a delicious, sourdough flavour.

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Once we had all munched our way through the pizza, it was time for the main event. Possibly Edinburgh’s most generous sharing board was heaved to the table – much to all of our delight! It was a truly Bacchanalian affair, bedecked in meats and vegetable, which we all spent at least five minutes taking pictures of.

Once we had all taken enough pictures, it was time to dig in. There was so much to choose from – there were exotic options like the wild boar sausages, and squid arancini, as well as breaded aubergines, duck, new potatoes and a huge hunk of venison. While imposing, the spread was perfect for diving in and out of.

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The concept of a Roman banquet was something I’ve never experienced before, but is was such a lovely way to be introduced not only to Boston & Hawthorne, but also to some more Edinburgh-based bloggers! I’m always on the lookout for new sites to read and explore!

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To round the evening off, we had to try some of the bar’s rather delicious sounding cocktails. They’re all priced at £6 each, and I have to say – they’re a real bargain!

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Somehow we all managed to order a different one each – the most eye-catching of which had to be the Parmatini, which came draped with a slice of ham! It was declared delicious, and I enjoyed my Fluid Whisky Apple Pie. Served hot in a vintage cup and saucer set, complete with a finger of shortbread, it was a toasty way to end the evening.

Thank you so much to Boston & Hawthorne for having us!

Salon Success Jingle Mingle at Tigerlily Edinburgh*

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In the run up to Christmas, it’s easy feel more than a little frazzled, so, last month, when Salon Success got in touch to invite me to a Jingle Mingle, I couldn’t resist. Held in Edinburgh’s Tigerlily, a whole host of Edinburgh-based bloggers had been invited to find out what was new in the world of haircare.

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Ratherly cleverly, we’d all been invited for our different hair types – there was short hair, long hair, red hair … all so we could see the range of hair types catered to by Salon Success’ clients. With brands like Paul Mitchell and Gem Lites, it was really interesting to see what was new, and I’ve found some really HG products – the Marula Oil hair brush is incredible – imagine a Wet Brush but 100 times better! I’ve become more than a little obsessed with it!

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With copious amounts of prosecco on tap and beautiful goodies to learn about it was a perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit! I discovered a couple of killer brands I’d never heard of before (Gem Lites and Kenra) , as well as find new products from the iconic Paul Mitchell.

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As if an evening filled with the best of haircare wasn’t enough, we were also treated to a wonderful supper from George Street favourite Tigerlily. I’ve had a look at the menus online, and I don’t think any of the dishes we enjoyed are up there. But they were so lovely I had to share them anyway! Starters consisted of ham hock and cheese croquettes – wonderfully crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, they were a great way to warm up from the soggy streets of Edinburgh outside!

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Our main courses were another perfect choice for a winter’s evening- slow cooked beef on a bed of winter spinach and mashed potato.

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Dessert, I think was everyone’s favourite. A berry parfait was served with a rich pistachio cream, honeycomb and chopped pistachios. It was such a stunning looking dessert, and the mix of flavours was just lovely.  It was the perfect way to round off the evening, after wishing everyone an early Merry Christmas, we all went home laden with new products to try.

A Day Out in Glasgow*

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As someone who spends most days in Scotland’s capital, I always enjoy a great day out! So, when I was invited to pop through and see some of the best spots in the city, I absolutely jumped at the chance! Travelling through from Edinburgh to Glasgow couldn’t be easier – you can do what we did and jump in the car (it’s about a 40 minute drive), or if you’d rather kick back, there is a regular train service which deposits you right in the city centre.

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After parking at Buchanan Galleries, we wandered down Buchanan Street to pop into the new T2 store. If you’re a tea lover like I am, this is a must-visit destination! With loose leaf teas piled from floor to ceiling, there are blends for everyone, and the staff couldn’t be more helpful.

With a chance to taste a variety of blends, including a delicious matcha ritual and turmeric latte, I felt like a kid in a candy store! It took a while, but eventually I managed to select a tea blend, as well as a super handy infuser (I picked the purple one here) which I’ve been using pretty much daily ever since!

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From T2, our next stop was Laings in the Argyll Arcade. The jewellery is one which I’ve explored in Edinburgh (you can read about my visit here), so getting to see three of their Glasgow outlets was great fun! Depending in whether you’re in the market for a new watch, a specially commissioned piece or a luxury treat, Laings has something for you!

I spent a good hour looking at the best of what Laings has to offer – an I have to say, my wish list has grown considerably! From examining ‘Hearts on Fire’ diamonds with specialist equipment to oohing over necklaces and rings, it was such a special start to the day!

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After all that glamour, we were absolutely famished, so headed over to Merchant City for brunch at Hutcheson’s City Grill. It’s a real mainstay for Glasgow, with a space to eat both upstairs and downstairs depending on your preference. We headed upstairs, to enjoy a leisurely brunch.

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As we perused the menu we were treated to a couple of glasses of champagne. The dining room is absolutely stunning! We oohed and ahh’d over the architecture and all of the velvet seats, whilst deciding on our choices.

We couldn’t resist The Hutchesons Fry (£12) which was perhaps the heartiest breakfast option on the menu! A wonderfully herby sausage was served alongside crisp bacon, cooked mushrooms, scrambled eggs, beans and Stornaway Black Pudding.

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I went for the Smoked Scottish Salmon & Scrambled Eggs (£10) which came with a toasted English muffin. It was a gorgeous dish, and I love how nicely presented it was.

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After enjoying our brunch, we headed downstairs to explore the rest of Hutcheson’s City Grill. The bar is absolutely glorious – all marble and glass, and I’ll be heading here for drinks the next time I’m through!

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After fuelling up, it was time to get down to the serious business of shopping! Buchanan Galleries is one of the city’s best shopping malls, with stores ranging from Accessorize to Hollister, as well as a large John Lewis. We window shopped for a while, and although I was going to stock up on a few pieces of makeup in Boots (they have a great selection of premium brands) I ended up being sensible and picking up a couple of home bits from John Lewis.

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Once we dropped the bags off in the car (after all, who wants to lug sheets around town with them?!?) we headed down Buchanan Street for a bit of a peruse. As well as having all the regular high street stores, Glasgow also has a huge Apple store, an Urban Outfitters and Frasers – the king of the city’s department stores. If you love beauty as much as I do – Frasers is a real must visit on a trip to Glasgow. As well as stocking all your regular premium brands, they have Scotland’s only Charlotte Tilbury counter, as well as the Chanel counter of your dreams. They even stock the brand’s Les Exclusifs perfume collection, so it’s where I head whenever I’m running low on their Gardenia.

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After all that shopping, it was time for supper – so we headed back over to the Corinthian Club for supper. The building itself is absolutely stunning – it looks like a wedding cake with swirls of rococo plasterwork and possibly Glasgow’s most picturesque dining room. It was a lovely mix of couples, families and friends, all enjoying suppers or stacks of late afternoon tea. In a bit of a blogger fail, we both opted for the Fillet Steak (£29.95).

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And really, who could blame us? Served on a slate with a copper pan of Cafe de Paris, crispy thick cut chips, cooked cherry tomatoes and a peppery watercress salad. It was a deliciously indulgent way to finish the day – the juicy meat with the mustardy Cafe de Paris butter was fabulous, whilst the peppery watercress said give the dish some zing!

We had a fabulous day out! Thank you so much for T2, Laings, Hutcheson’s City Grill, Buchanan Galleries, House of Fraser at the Corinthian Club for having us!

The Tea Leaf Co*

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With Storm Caroline taking the country by storm this weekend, I’m not going to lie, I’ve been hiding inside, enjoying copious amounts of tea. One of my new favourite brands to sip on has been The Tea Leaf Co – a company which prides itself on celebrating the history of tea, as well as providing absolutely delicious options. I’ve been testing out four of the available 15 options, and I’m not going to lie – I’m obsessed!

All of the teas come packaged in sturdy little tins, which makes storing them in the cupboard an absolute breeze, and the screw-top lid means that the tea inside stays super fresh. The first of the options I tried was No 10 Apple & Cinnamon. I’m an absolute fiend for anything spiced at this time of year, and I was not disappointed. A teaspoon full popped in my tea pot created a brew which was rich and couldn’t agree more!

Royals & Rogues is the brand’s Earl Grey mix, and is a witty nod to the Boston Tea Party. I’m partial to a cup of Earl Grey in the morning – and this is a heavenly start to the day! The Tea Leaf Co’s mix includes a generous dash of bergamot oil (and how beautiful are the tiny little petals included in the leaves) so I drink it black, with a slice of lemon.

No 07 Ti Kuan Yin is perhaps the most exotic of my collection – an Oolong tea with notes of Orchid, it’s a luxurious way to enjoy something of an afternoon pick-me-up! It’s named after the goddess of mercy Ti Kuan Yin who, legend has it, appeared to a farmer in a dream and gifted him a single, precious tea shoot to plant. It’s gorgeous with a dash of honey if you need something a little sweeter.

Whenever things are feeling like they’re getting a little too much, I’ve been turning to No 26 Lotus Jasmine. A fabulous Green Tea with Jasmine, it’s an incredibly soothing, delicious choice. The Tea Leaf Co’s offering is created through an intricate and time-consuming process that dates back more than 1000 years, and it’s a wonderfully fragrant treat!

The Tea Leaf Co teas start at £4.99 per tin, and the whole range is available here.

Restoration Cafe Christmas Menu*

I’m not sure about you, but at this time of year, I’ll do pretty much anything to get out of the house. Work in a coffee shop? Peruse the overly full stores packed with Christmas shoppers? I think it’s probably just me trying to enjoy the few hours of sunlight we get per day, but possibly the best use of a day I can think of? A trip to Dalkeith’s Restoration Yard!

Last night we headed through to the Restoration Cafe to try out their new Christmas Menu. I’ve written about Restoration Yard before, and honestly it’s an absolute haven at this time of year. Children can play on Fort Douglas (i.e. the country’s coolest tree house) and you can shop to your heart’s content in the store – they have a beautifully curated section of home wears, fashion and stationery as well as incredible food hall stuffed full of goodies. I feel like a kid in a candy store every time I visit, and my wish list grows considerably each time!

The whole of Restoration Yard is decked out for Christmas – it’s all twinkly fairy lights, pompom garlands and decorations.

The Restoration Cafe pride themselves on offering a seasonal menu full of locally sourced produce, so when I had the chance to sample the new Christmas Menu, I knew it was going to be great! Served Monday-Friday, until December 24th, the choices on offer mix traditional favourites with dishes which are sure to impress!

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After a busy day, we were both absolutely famished when we sat down, but the staff were so accommodating, bringing crackers to the table, and letting us decide what took our fancy.

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The Baked Pear and Stilton Tart sounded too good to resist! A beautifully thin, crisp pastry held chunks of spiced baked pear and melting stilton. A real update on a classic flavour combination, the addition of the peppery salad and mustard dressing was delightful! The pears had been delicately spiced, lending the dish a thoroughly festive flavour, and I’m sure it’s something I’ll be trying to recreate at home soon!

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I opted for the Confit Duck Ballotine, which came alongside caper berries, beetroot and a port syrup. This was an absolute masterclass in winter cooking.

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The duck was perfection – moist and flavourful, and the combination between it and the earthiness of the beetroot was divine. The caper berries were a welcome addition of tartness, whilst the port syrup leant some sweetness.

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We moved onto main courses, and of course, we couldn’t not order the Turkey. A real celebration of everything traditionally festive, the Ballotine of Turkey wrapped in Parma Ham, served with pork and sage stuffing was a real show stopper.

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Piled high on the plate, the turkey was the star of the show! Wrapped in a crisp blanket of Parma Ham, and filled with the most delicious sage-y stuffing, it paired perfectly with the spiced cranberry sauce, and was perched above the most delicious candied carrots and roasted Brussels sprouts.

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Since Dalkeith source their produce locally, I couldn’t resist the Roast Breast of Pheasant. Served on a mushroom, chestnut and bacon ficasee as well as the most delicious roast potatoes and Brussels Sprouts, it was a tasty alternative to the more traditional turkey offering.

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The meat was delicately flavoured, and worked with the rich sauce, and felt perfectly seasonal! If you’re looking for a bit of a change from the norm, I’d seriously recommend it. It’s the absolutely perfect choice for a hearty winter supper!

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Since we were going for the full festive experience, we couldn’t not order the Christmas Pudding! Served in a creamy brandy sauce and topped with an orange compote. Since I’m a real fan of spiced, wintery puddings, this was absolute heaven! The Christmas Pudding itself was abosolutely heavenly – super moist, and wonderfully  fruity! The fresh orange compote gave the dish a hit of acidity and freshened up what could be an incredibly rich dish.

We finished off with a couple of hot drinks (since I’m such an adult, I couldn’t resist a Hot Chocolate. It was such a dreamy evening, and the absolutely perfect start to the festive season. The food was, as always at the Restoration Cafe, absolutely incredible, and I would seriously recommend heading over to check it out!

2 Courses are priced at £20 per person, while 3 courses are priced at £25. You can see the whole menu here.