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What I Wore to... Musical Bingo's Halloween Ball

I always get in a bit of a panic when it comes to fancy dress. I'm not particularly artistic but I'm also fiercely competitive and a total perfectionist so I get frustrated if I can't figure out something to wear! I braved the insanity of a Soho fancy dress shop yesterday where there was a queue snaking down the street and people literally panic buying fake blood. You've never known crazy until you hear a woman frantically shouting across a packed store, "I JUST NEED A NUN'S OUTFIT!" 

Anyway, my outfit was 'Zip Face' and I bought a 'zipper face kit' from Amazon for under a fiver (although they've ramped up the prices closer to Halloween). As you can see it was pretty realistic! I wasn't expecting to look quite so disgusting and the reactions I got from people really proved that I wasn't a pretty sight! The zip was relatively easy to apply as it came with special glue to attach it and it stayed on well into the night, although it was so itchy, as you can see from the photo below! I then just added a ton of fake blood to the space and dabbed at it with my fingers to make it look more scabby. Obviously the face was very OTT and I was going to wear fake lashes but it seemed a bit much (plus I was having issues applying them as I've never worn them before), so I kept my outfit really simple. Just an oversized shirt and more fake blood. Super simple, massively effective! It was a bit strange having strangers ask if they could take my photo but it was all worth it as I won the title of 'Most Horrific' at Musical Bingo's Halloween Ball and go a trophy and everything! Our team rocked the awards part, with my friend also winning 'Best Make-Up' for his handmade deformed skin. 

Ah, Musical Bingo. If you know me at all you'll know that I have a total love affair with the place! It's just the most fun night out, with singing and dancing and drinks and general stupidity. I'm now considered a 'regular' which probably shows just how deep my love for the whole night actually is. The guys who run it always have the best time too which only goes to encourage me to dance more. Probably on the stage too. Check out their website for upcoming dates and I'll probably see you there!

Some photos here are courtesy of birthday girl and dead doll in the pics, AJ at Writer's Block and Broken Lenses

Toto, I've a Feeling We're Not in Uni Anymore

Image source
Almost a month ago, my baby sister moved to university. This is weird for a few reasons:

1) She only made the decision to go to university the night before A-Level results day
2) She can't be 18, because that would make me 26
3) That means it's been four years since I graduated

My memories of my three years in York are so distinct and so fresh that it's bizarre to think it didn't all happen a few months ago. I look at the photos my sister puts up on Facebook or Snapchats me (when she's out partying and I'm obviously in bed), and the thing that hits me the most is how young they all are. I mean, they look so young. How are these tiny people allowed to fend for themselves?! I don't differentiate between me now and me at uni, because I don't feel all that different, but then I look at my life and realise that things have majorly changed and that actually, I'm probably a bonafide adult now.

I don't just have a job, I have a career. I don't just have a boyfriend, I have a long-term relationship. I pay bills, I get appalling hangovers, I have crow's feet and cellulite. 

Then I stop and think: Do I really want to be a student again? Fair enough, living away from home for the first time is a lot of fun; you have a student loan which at the time basically seems like free money, and your responsibilities just about stop short of being too scary. But there are limitations, and I remember being at the end of my third year and being 100% ready to graduate and move on.

The positives completely outweigh the negatives. I live in central London, one of the most exciting cities in the world, but unlike most students, I can live in a nice flat! I've been lucky enough to travel more, and further, in the last year than I have in my whole life, and I intend on doing more. I have a small group of awesome friends that know me inside-out, and who don't judge me if I want to stay in in my pjs watching The X Factor. I'm working in an industry that I love and meeting some amazing people. It's scary to think that I need to start saving properly if I ever want to get a mortgage, but that's just the next challenge.

The last four years have seen internships, redundancy, burglaries, illness, travel, promotion, relocation and exploration. I've grown so much more as a person since graduating than I did in my comfortable and sheltered university bubble, although my experience there has undoubtedly shaped who I am today. On the surface, it may seem like the fun is over, but actually the excitement is happening right now. Turns out I actually quite like being a grown-up.

BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Tour Bus

I'm wearing:
Gold skirt - vintage
Leather jacket - Zara
Cami top - Primark
Scarf - H&M
Afternoon tea has become a bit of a cliche. How I feel about them is exactly the same as my previous mumblings on roast dinners: everyone thinks they can do one, and charge a fortune for it too. I'm a fiend for a scone and clotted cream; if I hit Cornwall in the Summer, Rodda's basically have to put on an emergency alert. I love the classics, but I do appreciate a twist on the norm (my favourite so far being the Marmite afternoon tea I went to in 2012), so when a wonderful friend of mine invited me to go on the BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Tour Bus with her, I practically leapt down the phone and hugged to within an inch of her life.

The bus picked us up in front of the London Eye and we took our place in the best seat in the house: at the front, at the top. There was a huge variety of the people on board including guys, families and a massive hen do, but everyone was in great spirits and the conductor did his best to get us all excited.

On each table is a map of where the bus would be taking us, but no voiceover to tell us information as we drove past as you would get on a regular bus tour. It was a bit of a shame, especially as our route was diverted due to a sporting event. Instead of just driving us down random streets it would have been nice to have had somebody tell us a bit of history or some fun facts to get us peeking out of the windows a bit more. We could have been on any old Routemaster through London in that respect.

However, the food was the obvious stand-out point. The logistics of serving food and hot drinks on a bus are plenty, and we were very amused by our tiered plates being nailed to table, and our drinks sitting in little cubby holes. Tea was presented in a thermos so it wouldn't splash everywhere, but that didn't make it any less difficult to drink it without burning the roof of your mouth when the bus suddenly stops!

The selection of cakes and sandwiches were cute and varied, if a little on the small side. Afternoon teas are known for indulgence, but as we were on a time limit with the bus tour we had to make sure we polished off what we could and there weren't any top-ups. I loved the smoked salmon blini and the chocolate macaron - both a good indicator of why you might want to pay a visit to BB Bakery in its static shop in Covent Garden.

The concept of a travelling afternoon tea tour bus is, frankly, genius. I have no doubt that it will continue to be very successful, if purely down to people like me who love a bit of a gimmick. It was a friendly, fun and delicious way to spend a couple of hours, and I do love to play tourist in my own home town.

You can book a slot on the BB Bakery bus here, and tickets cost £45

The 'Wrecking Ball' Necklace

I'm rather a fan of a statement necklace. You may have seen my amazing haul from the Tatty Devine sample sale over the summer which backs up that statement perfectly too! I think they perk up an outfit so perfectly, and people always comment when I wear something a bit out of the ordinary. However, I've never had such a sheer number of comments as when I wore this amazing necklace from Town Design.

Known as the 'Wrecking Ball' necklace, this long gold chain has a large faux pearl on the end being straddled by a naked lady based on a well-known controversial singer. I'm no Miley Cyrus fan, but I do love something with a good pop culture reference, especially when it's so beautifully designed.

My favourite thing about the necklace is its subtlety. You'd never know, unless you look really closely, that it's such a funny object. With its pearl focus, I've been wearing it with more formal outfits to work and it feels a bit naughty to be in a meeting at work with a cropped blazer and smart blouse, with naked Miley dangling from your neck!

Town Design have a small selection of designs in their 'The World is Your Oyster' collection, including Atlas holding a pearl on his shoulders, and a gorgeous little globe. You can find them on Etsy and they ship worldwide from New York. Go and show them some love!

Lunchtime in Manchester's Northern Quarter

Visiting any city is always better when you know a local. I wouldn't have tried fermented snake whisky without the guidance of a native Beijinger, or had ridiculously good Thai food in Sydney if it wasn't for the help of a local Bondi friend. And it's not just abroad that I look for recommendations; wherever I go I like to know where residents prefer to eat and drink. 

One of my best friends lives in Manchester, and my boyfriend grew up just outside the city, so I'm pretty familiar with it. I can find my way reasonably easily and I have roamed the shops of the Northern Quarter many time. I bought my favourite weekend bag from a vintage store there and the record stores can absorb me for hours at a time, but my most recent visit was a fleeting one so my friend led me to a place for lunch on Edge Street.

Home Sweet Home looks like a mix between an American diner and your nan's house. Next to the burgers and shakes sit the huge slabs of cake, all being watched over by the cat prints and art deco lampshades. The menu is summed up as 'comfort food', but we're not talking about shepherd's pie or sausage and mash. It's more deep fried stuff, eggs of all sorts and big ol' breakfasts. I went for the Waffle Fried Chicken which really is as obscene as it sounds: two homemade waffles, fried chicken, crispy bacon and maple syrup. Whoever doubts that maple syrup doesn't work on savoury food is WRONG. The waffles are pretty thin, so it's not as overwhelming as you originally might think, but I still couldn't finish it all. Although that might have been because of the Nutella Toasted Marshmallow milkshake I had to go with it...I don't regret a thing.

Falling deep into a food coma, we made the very sensible and distinctly British decision to find somewhere to have a cup of tea. We tried Teacup (the tea shop owned by Mr Scruff), but the queue was out of the door so we kept wandering and ended up in Oklahoma. Predominantly a shop, Oklahoma also has a tiny tea space at the back where you can start planning everything you want in the shop, mainly the AMAZING version of  Alice's Adventures in Wonderland I spotted with gold leaf pages and neon pink cover. Places always seem to be on a mission to find a new way of serving tea, and I love how they did it here. The enamel cup and pot for one was cute, but it was inspired to provide a timer so I knew when my leaves were properly brewed.

I must make time to properly visit Manchester soon. If you know somewhere I should head for lunch next time I'm up north, please do share!

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The Book Blogger Tag

I'll take any excuse to talk or write about books. I'm one of those people that will actually read the books you leave in the loo. The first thing I'll do in a house is assess how many books are around - a home is useless without them, in my opinion. Whether it's fact or fiction, I buy, read and re-read books at a rate of knots and it pains me that I don't have enough time to just sit down and indulge in one cover-to-cover in one sitting. So this 'tag' thing is all new to me, but when my wonderful friend AJ tweeted to say she'd nominated me, I thought I'd give it a go. 

Which book did you recently not finish?

I'll try my damn hardest to always finish a book, just in case it turns out to be better than expected. However I could not get through even the first Game of Thrones book. I tried! Hell, I even re-tried recently, but my word that thing is convoluted and ridiculous. SPOILER: Everyone dies. I figured that out and realised I didn't need to read much more.

Which book is your guilty pleasure?

Harry bloody Potter. People forget that at 26, I was the target audience for these books when they first came out, so I really did grow up with them. I will happily go back to them again and again, and not be ashamed to have the kid's covers out and proud on the tube.

Which book do you love to hate?

People get annoyed with me when they realise I don't like Game of Thrones or Lord of the Rings. Maybe I just don't like authors with beards and double middle names, who knows? Seriously though, I've really tried with both these series, but I cannot get into them. Fantasy for me can come in any form of literature, I don't need white walkers and Gollum to make my imagination churn. In fact, they just make it all seem a bit absurd.

Which book would you throw into the sea?

Eat My Heart Out by Zoe Pilger. I've just finished reading it and it is the most arrogant, faux-feminist, utter bullshit thing I've ever read. Completely unbelievable protagonist, storyline to make your toes curl, characters and conversations that make you want to punch yourself in the face. I'm sure someone in Dalston thinks it's inspiring and verging on biographical, but I thought it was awful.

Which book have you read the most?

The Time Traveler's Wife is beautiful - ignore the film, it's tripe. I've probably read it 10/11 times, as well as To Kill A Mockingbird, Wuthering Heights and Emma.

Which book would you hate to receive as a present?

Chick lit. A lovely woman sat next to me on my way to Sydney donated me her copy of The Rosie Project when she got off at Singapore and I obviously smiled politely and took it. I read the first couple of pages and swiftly used it as a floor decoration for the next seven hours.

Which book could you not live without?

I'll go against the expected curve here and say the recipe book that my Mum made for me when I first left home. It's extremely precious to me as she hand wrote all my favourite home cooked meals in there and I've added to it over time. I go back to it on a weekly basis and would certainly be very hungry without it!

Which book made you the angriest?

Fifty Shades of Grey. Yep, I read it. Bloody hell, that is not a book, it's a travesty. Appallingly written, completely unbelievable characters, really ridiculous plot. I can't believe it spawned such a cult following. For god's sake, take a trip to Ann Summers and read a Joan Collins book instead.

Which book made you cry the most?

I cry at everything. The Time Traveler's Wife, The Book Thief, The Hunger Games - they all set me off. Although I think Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness affected me the most. It is an astounding memoir of a girl in her twenties who descends into madness. It is only found out weeks later that it's due to an aggressive auto-immune disease that had only been diagnosed in under 100 people in the world. It was terrifying and fascinating, but the way she wrote about her relationships with her family and boyfriend hit me the most. I was a blubbering mess while reading it.

What book cover do you hate the most?

Any book that's been turned into a film and subsequently has the lead actor peering out at me from the shelf. I am all for judging books by their covers and believe their illustration is a really fine art. So keep the Hollywood A-listers off them please.

I'm not going to tag anyone in this, but let me know if you do it too! I'd love to see your responses.

What I've Been Eating #1

As well as my new series 'What I've Been Cooking', I wanted to share where I've been eating and what other things I've picked up along the way too. I frequently take photos of an amazing meal I've had, but it's not always appropriate to whip out my phone and take pics of the whole restaurant, especially as the light is often pretty bad and my boyfriend has a go at me for not just enjoying my meal! I also trawl shops and supermarkets for new ingredients and products to try. So when I can take the odd photo here and there, but don't have enough to write a full blown blog post, they'll appear here. So, this is where I've been recently that I've enjoyed, and will probably go back to write more on them. I'd love to know what you think!

Quiche and salad at Tap Coffee #26

I'm totally spoilt working in Central London; there are so many places to eat that come lunch time there is so much choice I never know where to go. I refuse to go to Pret or Starbucks (for the most part) as I know there are always new places to explore. One of my first discoveries near the office was Tap Coffee, and their 26 Rathbone Place branch is extremely close to work. They're known for great coffee (and awesome hot chocolate actually), but their food is also delicious. You can get a slice of homemade quiche and a small salad for just over a fiver - a rarity in these parts. And forget the 'small' tag, there's absolutely plenty there!

Eggs Benedict at Tom's Kitchen

Tom's Kitchen opened very recently on St Katharine's Docks, not too far a stroll from where I live. On our return from Beijing we desperately needed a pick-me up breakfast so headed down to try it out. I love Eggs Benedict but never make it at home as I don't like from-the-jar Hollandaise and I've never tried to make it (if you have a good recipe let me know!). This hit the spot, but as you can see, the portion of bacon was slightly reserved, and my side of spinach turned up late. The best bit was the freshly squeezed orange juice which cured my jetlag instantly! It's pretty pricey for a breakfast so I'm not sure if I'd go again, but I do want to try the deli next door. Sadly it's only open on weekdays until 6pm so I can never make it. Hopefully they'll open it at hours more friendly for locals.

Hot Spiced Apple at Costa Coffee

Two things I find difficult: rainy days and my dad. The former makes it difficult to go anywhere and the latter is pretty fussy and walks really slow, so also makes it difficult to go anywhere. We ended up perched in the Embankment branch of Costa one drizzly Saturday afternoon and had to give myself a stern talking to when I was about to plump for a hot chocolate. I wanted something hot and sweet, so the spiced hot apple was a winner. It tasted a bit medicinal the more I drank of it, but it ticked a box and was pretty tasty all-in-all. Even my fussy dad like it, so it must be good!

Pork Belly at Shoreditch House

You'd think, with it being a private members' club, that the food at Shoreditch House would blow your mind. You'd be wrong. I mean, the crackling with this pork belly was awesome, and we certainly had a massive portion, but this is a place where you go for drinks and then wander a few metres down the road into Shoreditch and embrace the masses of good restaurants on offer. Or grab a kebab, whatevs. I mean, I was stuffed, but I haven't really saved the best til last in this particular post...

Tweet me your restaurant recommendations at @charlienin!

Zara A/W Shoes Need to Stop Being So Good

Tassles and buckles and chains, oh my! Can we all just take some time out of our day and tell Zara to 'STOP IT'. I cannot deal with the level of perfection their A/W shoes are reaching. They are full of gloriously clumpy boots, metal detailing and shiny shiny leather. Normally when I write a wish list I have a vague idea of which things I could probably leave out of my shopping basket and which ones I can't envisage my life without, but this is definitely not the case. I mean, come on. Look at the level of awesome for the moccasins and slip-ons; I can't imagine wearing jeans without them. And every skirt I own would be ramped up a million fabulous points with a tough pair of those boots. So where to start? I think I'll have to add a few to my Christmas list, but come payday my first options are the fringed penny loaders and the leather booties with ankle straps. It's going to be hard to hold back...

Lost in a Good Book - An Evening at Foyles

Everyone laments the death of the book shop. Apparently Kindles are ruling our brainwaves, iPads are essentially burning the printed word and shoving emojis down our throat to provide megalolz. But then you look at Foyles' new flagship store on Charing Cross road and know that the rumours can't be true. Here lies five storeys of pure, unadulterated, carefully bound, beautiful smelling literature, cheering up the perusers and browsers that float in from the cold.

It's impossible to know where to start when confronted with so many books. It's how I feel in libraries too: a vague sense of panic in case I miss something; a underlying 'fear of missing out' if I pick the wrong title; and feeling totally overwhelmed when looking up and just seeing books. It's a rare pleasure to take the time to actually go shopping and take in everything around you. I hardly go into actual stores anymore; a slave instead to the 'Pinterest > eCommerce > delivered to desk' circle of overdraft doom, but I love to just look (and inevitably, buy).

This trip was planned in advance. Since moving out of a shared flat with AJ, we've ensured that we have regular 'dates' to ease the pain of not seeing each other every day, and this was first on our list. I had a list in my head of the books I actually wanted to buy, but that all fell to pieces as soon as I came across the recipe book section. You may have noticed that food is becoming a very regular topic on this blog, and my obsession with it grows daily. I snapped up some cheap and cheerfuls, plus a bookset (that's a box set of books and I'm pretty sure I just invented that word. TRADEMARKED!) about bread making for my mum.

We meandered through fiction and non-fiction, on to crime and sci-fi, through towards history and children's books, picking up books along the way with reckless abandon and the heady smell of ink to spur us on (dramatic, isn't it?). We really were unstoppable though. In a crappy attempt to whittle down our choices, we sat on the floor by the Latin section and read the blurbs of our choices out to each other, hoping that the other one would make our decision easier.

I settled on the recipe books (budget meals, healthy dinners and ideas with fish), Ray Bradbury's 'The Illustrated Man' (I recently fell head over heels for 'Fahrenheit 451') and 'Eat My Heart Out' by Zoe Pilger (rave reviews from Dazed and Confused, but I'm half way through and praying it gets better...). Of course we then went to the cafe and had an obligatory giant cup of hot chocolate with marshmallows before struggling home with our purchases.

You really can make a whole evening out of a visit to Foyles. I've written about supporting book shops in the past, and contrary to other people's criticism, I think these 'superstores' are a great way of luring in customers and keeping the digital threat at bay. It just so happens that Foyles is also on my way home from the office, so it's highly likely I'll be dropping in again very soon...

What I've Been Cooking #1

If you follow me on Instagram you'll see that I'm always taking photos of my food (I mean, that's what it was invented for, right?). I've wanted to share my trials and tribulations of cooking and baking with you for a while, but I've never considered myself as a food blogger. Then I looked over my recent posts and realised that all I ever talk about is food, and that's probably because all I ever think about is food too! I like to experiment with recipes, and although I'm not at the stage where I can just whip up an amazing meal off the top of my head, I have been practicing with different skills and scouring Pinterest for new things to make. So instead of just leaving my cooking pics to wither away unloved on my Camera Roll, I've decided to share them occasionally here so that you can try them too if the mood should take you!

Pasta pie

I saw this recipe on Pinterest and it looked so delicious I figured why shouldn't I give it a go?! It is essentially pasta bolognase served vertically, but when I revealed it to my little sister she did a brilliantly extravagant gasp which confirmed I'd done a good job! Just remember to use a spring bottom cake tin to cook it in so you can have the pleasure of showing the gravity defying structure to your friends. 

Grilled chicken and veggies

This recipe doesn't sound like much, but the marinade for the chicken is the perfect blend of spices that it's rapidly become a favourite of mine. In fact, I think I've made it at least five times by now because it is so simple and so tasty. It's good for you as it's grilled and the veggies are done in a very small amount of oil too. The fact that it uses chicken legs as well makes it really cheap as well, especially as I have the majority of the spices in my cupboard at most points. Definitely check it out if you are looking for something to make for dinner tonight.
Original recipe for grilled chicken and veggies can be found here.

Sesame chicken

Another recipe that's becoming a firm favourite in my household. I love Chinese food (as you may have seen from my recent trip to Beijing!), but I find England lacking in a really good takeaway. If I want to eat something from that area, I don't really want to fork out a whole heap of money on the one place I feel does it really well: Hakkasan. Once again, I found this recipe on Pinterest and had a lot of the ingredients in my cupboard already; slightly out of the norm things like toasted sesame oil and oyster sauce - all products well worth buying as you're bound to need them at some point! One thing I would say with this recipe is you need a decent frying pan or the egg-based batter just sticks to the pan instead of the chicken. But it's great with brown rice and some thinly sliced spring onions.

I'd love to know what you've been cooking, and if you try any of these recipes please do tell me what you think!

Boopshi's - Schnitzel and Spritz

Boopshi's opened around the corner from my office not so long ago but it's taken a few months for me to actually get involved. It's advertised on a sandwich board outside that they do takeaway schnitzel burgers at lunchtime so I went with some colleagues with the full intention of getting one of these to take back to the office. Then we started looking at the menu and the excuses came out: "I HAVE had a bad day", "It IS Friday", "No-one ELSE is in the office." So we grabbed a table and sat in.

The menu is uncomplicated but exciting. Lots of combinations and offers that I rarely see in London. This city is amazing for dining out, but when you're spoiled by Mexican, Korean, Lebanese and everywhere in between, you forget that local European cuisine can be great.

We decided to order a variety of things from the menu and share, as it seemed to be what most other tables were doing. Obviously we got a schnitzel (we went for a chicken one) and a Bratwirst, and had a whole heap of sides including pickles, anchovies and an egg. My favourite was the Spatzle 'n' Cheese which was essentially pasta, cheese and leeks.

The biggest decision came when we ordered dessert. I knew I wanted strudel but then the predicament of custard or ice cream was presented to me and my brain went to mush. I must have made such a song and dance in front of the waiter as he was completely lovely and brought me both in case I regretted my decision! 

We didn't experience the 'spritz' side of Boopshi's (it was still a working day after all), but the Schnitzel was thin, crisp and delicious, with the Bratwurst beating 'sausage-to-go' places like Herman ze German hands down. There aren't many places to eat on Tottenham Court Road, so make sure next time you're in the area to look down the side streets to find these sorts of hidden gems. Click to add a blog post for Boopshi's on Zomato

The Cake and Bake Show

I'm wearing:
Leather jacket - Zara
T-shirt - T by Alexander Wang (on sale in the Coggles Outlet here)
Jeans - J Brand (amazing bargain in TK Maxx)
Plimsolls - Office
Like most of the country, I've been gripped by Bake Off fever. Every year it rolls around and every year I watch avidly, take notes, and update Pinterest boards. I love to bake and have tried to expand my repetoire from the standard Viccy Sponge for a while now, often imposing my experiments on my willing colleagues. I need to improve on pastry, and I've never given bread a go, but I'm damn keen and will keep practicing.

The Cake and Bake Show at Earl's Court is a baker's dream. Full of food stalls, free samples and demonstration kitchens, it's ideal for amateur and professional bakers alike to wander around and get inspired.

There were, of course, examples of truly mind-blowing edible works of art. Cakes to make your jaw drop from the intricacies and accurate creations made from flour and sugar, including a terrifying portrayal of Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. My favourite was the Lego cake - something I'd love to have a go at in the future, although I imagine it takes a lot more patience then I'd ever have. Decorating a cake is always the biggest challenge for me as I am not artistic at all. I can bake something that tastes good, but it might not look appealing on the plate!

As we walked around the stalls it was extremely hard not to buy everything I found. Do I really need something that makes my icing look like fine lace? Is it essential that I buy those Christmas cupcake cases? Luckily, good sense prevailed, but I did still get some great bargains including Blackforest flavoured icing sugar from Sugar and Crumbs (and I'll be buying some of their Salted Caramel flavour online too), a selection of natural flavourings from Neilsen-Massey, and two incredible knives. I know the latter sounds thoroughly boring, but I tried the Magic Knife out at their stand and was so impressed that I snapped up their two-for-£30 deal. I'm gradually replacing my kitchenware with higher quality products (next on my list: saucepans!), so this was the first step, and my boyfriend has been singing their praises every mealtime since. 

The most exciting part of the day though was spotting contestants from this series of The Great British Bake Off. I literally yelped and ran when I saw Iain and Richard; my two favourites. They were bombarded with fans so I didn't get to have a photo with them, but it was really fun just to see them. 

I'm normally skeptical of these types of events as I worried that it would be too much of a trade show for professional bakers. But this was much more fun and laid back, even though it was extremely busy. For a wannabe Lorraine Pascale like me, it was a lot of fun. We got our tickets from Wowcher for only £7 each, so it goes to show that searching around for a bargain is totally worth the effort!
As of 20th November 2014, any products marked with an asterisk (*) have been provided as a sample for unbiased review