Social icons

Monday 23 December 2013

Happy Christmas From the Mice!

So, after a month of ever mounting excitement, the big day is so very nearly here…! 

With just a couple of days to go, it's time for last minute dashes to the shops for stocking fillers and Christmas lunch essentials, then there's the wrapping, wrapping and a bit more wrapping with hopefully a few glasses of mulled wine and a couple of mince pies squeezed in between.

This year us Mice sadly won't be together for Christmas, but we'll be opening presents via Skype and making sure we stick to Robbo family traditions on both sides of the world!

The last couple of weeks have been pretty killer at work and when we haven't been chained to our desks, there've been non-stop parties, shopping and endless Christmas to-do lists to make our way through. So quite aside from the usual festive over-excitement, we're seriously looking forward to a bit of Christmas downtime. And on that note, we'll be taking a little breather from the blog over the next couple of weeks too. We'll be back in January rested and ready to make 2014 our best year yet!

Happy, happy Christmas blog buds! 
Thank you for all your support this year and looking forward to lots and lots of new and exciting blog adventures in the new year!
The Mice

Friday 20 December 2013

The Mice Have Mostly Been...

Twas the weekend before Christmas... and we bursting with excitement but stressing about how much we still have to dooooo! It's that time again where we're manically wrapping up work whilst fighting horrendous hangovers, frantically buying those last minute stocking fillers yet still trying to find time to wash our entire wardrobe... you never know what the festive season may throw at you!

When we haven't been juggling numerous Christmas baubles baubles, The Mice Have Mostly Been...

Hunting down the perfect pair of Christmas pyjamas! It's very important that every year you have a brand new pair - they don't have to be covered in reindeer or Christmas trees, but they have to be special! This year I'm loving all the luxe cashmere and silks...this year we're thinking beyond the sleeping and more along the lines of lounging whilst opening endless presents and after consuming an almighty Christmas dinner and fifteen cheese course! ESSENTIAL purchase!!!

We've short listed our top picks, so get purchasing quick smart as you're running out of timeeee! 

Jack Wills...

Tank £16.50 and Leggings £29.50

Eberjey (can purchase from Net-a-Porter)...

Top £65 & Trousers £65


PJ Set, £30

Eberjay (can purchase from Net-a-Porter)...

PJ Set, £150

Donna Karen Sleepwear...

Jumper, £295

Rushing out to pick up the Christmas Radio Times so we can circle all the must see Specials!!! The actual circling isn't so much necessary, just more of a childhood habit! We knew Christmas was just around the corner when Mummy mouse came home and presented us with the official Christmas edition!

Rushing home from work excited to rip open the next parcel and unearth gift after gift, ready to be wrapped and placed under the tree! However this week I was the lucky one to receive a very exciting present of my own... a box of Mylash!

Now to set the scene...unfortunately I'm one of those children that took the tweezers to my brows unsupervised and as expected, the results weren't too kind! I would do anything to have those bushy caterpillars back again just so I can take them to a threader and gift myself the perfect set of arches!

No chance you might think....well I'm here to prove you pessimistic lot wrong!!

Mylash promises to be the wonder product which does just that! You simply need to apply it every day at the same time and within four weeks you will start to see the difference. It was Originally formulated to develop a luscious set of fluttery lashes, which from the rave reviews it seems it definitely does! If they've got Elle and Grazia on board, our vote is a given! The clinical test results won me over instantly...after 16 weeks lashes were 25% longer, 106% thicker and 18% darker...we all need this in our life now!

As I already have the best eyelash contact ever which has left me with the inability to kick the lash extension habit, it was actually the more recent eyebrow slant of Mylash that got my attention. The formula claims to work its magic on your brows as well...see fairy tales can come true! 

Well there's only one way to find out, especially before you all part with £100, and that's for Mini Mouse to turn Mini Guinea Pig and all for the love of the blog (and of course for my life long dream of brows á la Cara D)! Middle Mouse will also be trialling this but will focus more on the lash side, so we can give you an all round review!

It's no speedy process so keep you're eyes peeled for updates with before, during and results pictures....exitingggggg stuff, watch this space!! 

That's all folks!

Here's to a happy Friday and a festive-filled weekend 

The Mice 

Wednesday 18 December 2013

A Holiday at Home: The Indigo Hotel Hong Kong

As much as I love living in Hong Kong, it's sometimes a bit like what I'd imagine going out with Russell Brand might be like... far too much fun to be a good long term thing, ever so slightly grubby and after a couple of months guaranteed to drive you more than a little crazy (why else would Katy Perry now be going out with Meyer the Player???).

So ever since I moved here, every couple of months I try to escape the city and recharge my batteries so that I can return a week or even just a couple of days later, feeling refreshed, rested and ready to take on a new round of 60 hour work weeks and pick-me-up vodka jelly sessions in Lang Kwai Fong…

The longer I'm here though, the lazier I get. I don't want to do anything much more than sleep late and read a good book, I don't want to fly for longer than a couple of hours, in fact I don't really want to be messing about at airports and customs and passport control at all when I only have a precious couple of days to chill out. So this year I've interspersed beach breaks and short hops around Asia with my new favourite type of holiday, the Staycation.

While on the face of it spending your holidays in the city that you live seems like a pretty rubbish idea, take a moment to think about the logistics (or lack of them). Let's say you have a rare spare weekend and you're planning a little R&R, if you opt for a staycation, you leave work at 6pm on Friday and by 6:30pm you can be snuggled up in a fluffy bathrobe drinking champagne from a well-stocked mini bar while planning where to head for that evening's meal out (without the danger of picking somewhere rubbish, aimed solely at clueless tourists…). When Sunday evening rolls around, the post-holiday blues aren't exacerbated by a tortuous six hour journey home, pack your bag, hop in a cab and a few minutes later you're back home in your onesie watching a trashy boxset. Two days of bliss + minimal fuss = the perfect break - it's pretty basic holiday maths…

This year I've managed to clock up stays at the Grand Hyatt, the East Hotel and the Mandarin Oriental, all very different and great in their own respects, but each had its own slight quibble. The Hyatt lacks the boutique cool factor, the East lacks in location and the Mandarin Oriental's missing a pool. So when I started to hear good things about the newly opened Indigo Hotel, a boutique hotel, set slap bang in the heart of historic Wanchai (with a glass bottomed pool to boot) I wondered whether I may just have found the key to Staycation perfection in Hong Kong…

After a week of office nightmares, daily conference calls at anti-social hours and a never-ending stream of "URGENT" emails, by Friday evening I was in dire need of two days of down time. After flagging down a cab outside my office in Quarry Bay and a speedy ten minute journey, I was delivered to the driveway just outside the the Indigo. I opened the taxi door to be greeted by the chilled out tones of Morcheeba tripping along from some hidden speakers - I'd arrived.

Check-in was friendly and incredibly pain-free - within moments I was being whisked up in what can only be described as a hippy-disco lift (the lift's walls are a mosaic of gem-like stones which gradually change from green, to blue to purple to pink) to the 23rd Floor and my home for the weekend.

Arriving as I was, after the room had been turned down, and the curtains drawn, it wasn't at first apparent what a plum of a room I'd managed to bag. Winding from the lift past an array of awesome modern art, my room was right at the end of the corridor - a corner room with huge floor to ceiling wrap around windows overlooking the bustling streets of Wanchai below. 

I was a very happy girl. But happy tripped into delirious when I spied a tray laid with a personal note from the Hotel's manager, a box of macaroons and a rainbow-coloured slinky - best welcome ever!

Tipping the super helpful porter, I got down to the serious business of checking out the room. Decor throughout the hotel is bright and fun with well-placed references to the fact that we're in Hong Kong. My room carried through that theme with a huge, swirling blue and gold dragon mosaic on one wall, a turquoise tai chi master figurine in the bathroom and a sweet little Chinese tea set laid out on a silver stool. Take a particular shine to the quirky goldfish bathmat and think it would be perfect for your bathroom at home? Well the good news is that everything in your room is available to purchase - a hotel room that you can shop? That's pretty much my idea of heaven…

Talking of heavenly things, the big, marshmallowy bed sits slap bang in the centre of the room (yes this is a room in Hong Kong big enough that you can walk right around the bed - miracles do happen), perfectly placed for lazily gazing out at the city or snuggling in to watch a film on your huge flatscreen TV which comes complete with a set of snazzy Bang & Olufsen speakers. 

The bathroom is neat and compact but still super-luxe think a rain shower with a dinner-plate sized head and boxes of spa quality beauty products. The Indigo also triumphed in an area that so many hotels fall short in, a good selection of mirrors - a huge well-lit mirror in the bathroom complete with a magnifying mirror (great for precise eye make-up) and an enormous full-length mirror beside the bed. It may sound obvious but there's nothing I hate more than having to stand on the loo to try to see if my shoes look good with my outfit.

Last but not least the room boasts a Nespresso machine (always my mark of a hotel I'm going to like) and a fab mini-bar which has all your usual mini-bar offerings covered but also includes jelly worms, Haribo and Burt's British Crisps - perfect midnight feast fare.

After an indulgent shower and quick change, I headed out to hit up Wanchai. While a Friday night in Wanchai may conjure up images of dancing on the bar at Carnegies after far too much ropey vodka, I decided to reset those preconceptions and look a little harder at the area around the hotel. Plotting a Friday night which avoided the rowdy bars with flashing neon signs was very easy with the Indigo's brilliant Wanchai Guide which talked through the history behind the area and flagged the best spots to visit on a super helpful illustrated map. I've lived in Hong Kong for five years now and there were numerous little gems I'd never seen or even heard of - exploring Wanchai for the weekend was very much like seeing the neighbourhood through completely fresh eyes.

I'm going to save my weekend itinerary for a post to come very soon, but let's just say my Wanchai Little Black Book has swollen to about quadruple its previous size…

So, on waking up on Saturday morning in my giant bed, despite an amazing night's sleep, my head was still a little heavy thanks to the evening before's cocktail intake. Nothing, I decided that a good cup of coffee and plate of eggs could't fix, so down I trotted to the hotel's Cafe Post.

Cafe Post has a cool retro vibe with bright geometric tiling, wicker lampshades and a huge terrace which is perfect for an alfresco coffee and croissant. The vast breakfast spread is laid out in pots and pans sitting atop hobs all scattered between stacks of cook books and next to fridges full of baby flasks of freshly squeezed juices. The overall sense you get is that you're helping yourself to delicious provisions from a very well-stocked kitchen of a domestic goddess friend.

Bodyweight of coffee and scrumptious breakfast inhaled I was good for only one thing, lying beached whale style by the pool. Luckily the Indigo pool is a bit of a corker, so it was back to the hippy-disco lift to zoom up to the roof and check it out...

Perched up on the 29th floor, the pool overlooks the Hopewell Centre and the other neighbouring skyscrapers but it's far enough from the hustle and bustle below to feel like your sunbaking and swimming in the clouds. What's the best feature of the pool? Well the hidden jacuzzi which overlooks the city is pretty great. The ridiculously comfy sun beds with in built face shade are pretty cool. But the prize has to go to the glass-bottomed deep end of the swimming pool… test your vertigo by peering down at the toy taxis and ant people going about their business on the streets below as you do your laps. 

I had the pool completely to myself but after a morning of lazing around reading my Kindle in the sun (yup sun at the start of December, this is why I heart HK!) I was ready to pull myself together and get my exploring boots on. 

A few hours and much wandering, nibbling and shopping later (with a sneaky foot massage thrown in for luck), I was back at the Indigo for a dash of downtime before heading back out on the town. Feeling a little bit thirsty after my day's adventuring, I decided a cocktail in the hotel's sky bar was in order to get my evening started. The Sky Bar sits just opposite the pool and is small but perfectly formed, a great mix of sleek steel and cosy red booths plus the huge floor to ceiling sliding doors that open up onto a terrace give the bar a very cool inside/outside feel. 

While I looked out over the city's twinkling neon skyline and sipped on a perfectly mixed lychee martini, I thought how very lucky I am to live in a city with so much history sitting right in the middle of an ever-changing metropolis. To misquote Samuel Johnson, "when a girl's tired of Hong Kong, she's tired of life". 

Although, the next morning, after another great night out, I was feeling pretty tired… So tired in fact that I decided even the lift ride down to Cafe Post was a little too much exertion. Only one thing for it, breakfast in bed…

There's nothing quite as decadent as lounging with the Sunday papers, grazing on a tray of breakfast yummness and forgetting that Monday even exists. Eventually at midday I decided I need to get myself up and out for a last few Wanchai wandering before attempting the tough journey home. The tough ten minute taxi ride home…

The Indigo has well and truly lifted my benchmark for Hong Kong staycations. For me it checks all the boxes - service, design, location, pool. Chuck in a deliciously comfortable bed and all the unexpected touches that make you feel well and truly spoilt and I think I've found Staycation Nirvana…

The Hotel Indigo
242-246 Queen's Road East
Hong Kong Island
+852 3926 3888
Prices from HK$2,300 a night for a Superior Room

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Devonshire Gems...

So, as you'll know if you follow us on Instagram or read our Devon round-up a couple of weeks ago, us Mice took ourselves off to the country for a long weekend full to the brim of relaxation, long walks, pub grub and lashings of red wine! We invited ourselves to Cousin Andrew's cottage in Topsham, South Devon. A perfect picturesque spot - see for yourself...

So what did we get up to? Well we have three little gems to share with you, if you ever venture to this part of the country make sure that you check out these beauties and say hello to the lovely people behind each one for us...

First up, The New Inn - a charming little boozer in a sleeping village called Moreleigh - think Rosehill Cottage in the film 'The Holiday' and you're pretty much there! The pub boasts a friendly landlord, Jeremy, the world's most attentive barmaid, Neets and Chef extraordinaire, Bridget.

The New Inn is packed full to the rafters with character, alive with locals and serves up Hendricks - what more could you ask for?! The food is pretty darn tasty too - the menu of home-cooked, comfort classics is small but perfectly formed - steaks, lamb chops and steak and kidney pie on Sundays. Each comes with a side of chunky chips, mushrooms and garden peas. Be warned, once you've experienced this calibre of pub it's pretty hard to go back to the mundane!

New Inn pub
01548 821326

Next up a deli to die for - Avon Mill. Housed in a stunning restored stone barn boasting mouth-watering treats that will keep you browsing until Christmas... 

So what treats did we pick up? Well the bowls and bowls of lip-smackingly good olives were too hard to resist. We also snapped up some of the freshly baked glazed-pastries, salted caramel sauce for ice cream (wow) and a little Christmas pud sent from heaven! We had to stop somewhere so sadly said no to the many chutneys, honey, homemade cakes and organic juices - next time! 

The deli manager, Julie deserves a big shout out too - lovely, always smiling, knowledgeable and not in the least bit pushy (my biggest bug bear). Every village needs an Avon Mill!

Avon Mill Deli
01548 550338

And last but by no means least, the magnificently brilliant Simon Drew! A trip to Devon wouldn't be the same without a stop-off at his shop in Dartmouth. As a family, we've all been obsessed with Simon and his quirky and ever so witty pen and ink illustrations ever since I can remember. 

Simon has an in-store studio where you can watch him work while you shop - if you ask very nicely he'll show you what he's working on - always a treat! We did just that and chatted to him for at least half an hour and were hanging on his every word...!

Simon Drew
13 Foss St, 
01803 832832
Monday 16 December 2013

3BM Cook: Ottolenghi Pork Belly...

We haven't treated our lovely Mice followers to a truly scrumptious recipe for a little while now. With this in mind I think you're all due something a little bit spectacular and nothing does the job like Mr.Ottolenghi! We actually cooked the following treasure back in November for Daddy Robbo's birthday - HK mouse was home visiting us all so we shut Daddy in the lounge with a generous glass of red and some cashews to nibble on and off we all scurried to whip up a tasty feast fit for a king and that it certainly was...

Crackling Pork Belly with an orange and anise sauce...

So what are the secret ingredients then?
  • 7 oranges, halved
  • 1 bunch thyme, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch rosemary, roughly chopped
  • 1 whole head garlic, cloves peeled and crushed
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 2-3kg pork belly, rind on
  • Coarse sea salt and black pepper
  • 2/3 bottle white wine
  • For the star anise reduction
  • 500ml orange juice
  • 180ml balsamic vinegar
  • 160g honey 
  • 10 star anise
The above serves 6-8 people but be warned it's tricky to share this creation evenly - don't be alarmed if you find yourself dishing up an extra large portion for yourself whilst no one is looking!
So for starters get your oven heated up to its highest temperature. Whilst that's warming up, slice your oranges in halves and arrange them in a large roasting tray. place the herbs, garlic and olive oil in a blender to roughly whip them up into a purée.

Next lay the pork belly out on top of the oranges in the oven tray skin-side down, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Now it's time to get stuck in - roll up your sleeves and use your hands to spread the 
purée herb mixture all over the top, pressing it on so it sticks to the meat. Mini mouse took charge here - no surprises there... any excuse to get messy!

Turn the belly skin-side up and sprinkle sea salt evenly all over the skin - be careful not to go over the top with the salt as you don’t want to create a crust because this will affect the all-important naughty but oh-so-good crackling from forming. Next pop the tray in the oven and blast-roast for 1 hour, turning the tray around halfway through. 
With the first stage of the recipe now complete pat yourselves on the back by pouring yourself a glass of something strong - mine's a Hendricks and tonic and the other two Mice joined daddy Robbo on the red. Kick back and relax but don't get so boozy that you forget to turn the oven tray as instructed above! 
Times up - back to your Chefly duties! Once the skin has formed a touch of crackling, turn your oven down to 160°C/Gas Mark 3. Next pour the white wine into the tray (avoiding the piggy pork skin) and continue roasting for another hour. Keep an eye on the belly and if it starts to turn black, cover it with foil.

You're nearly there! Your last chore is to turn the oven down to 110°C and continue roasting for another hour, until the skin has well and truly crackled. Whilst the skin crisps up, it's time to prepare the Pièce de résistance - the orange and star anise sauce. Drop all ingredients into a pan and place over a medium heat, stirring constantly. Bring to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 45-60 minutes until the sauce has fully thickened and reduced to a third. 
Finally it's time to plate up - we choose to accompany our Ottolenghi creation with a British side of roasty potatoes, parsnips and green beans - yum, yum, yum! 
So what was the verdict? A solid 10/10 you'll be pleased to hear, we all consumed the feast in record speed and Daddy Robbo was full of compliments for his three chef mice (and you should know he doesn't give praise lightly)!   
This dish also makes for a perfect festive meal - spicy anise mixed with zingy orange sweetness - delish. Try it this Christmas - go on...!