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Wednesday 30 September 2015

Paris in 48 hours...

Let me start this post but saying Paris is ALWAYS a good idea! This was my third trip to the city of love and this time I was travelling with my good pal and work wife, Chrissie Cooper. 

We had a cracking little Airbnb lined up in SoPi - that's South Pigalle for those not down with the Parisian lingo (!) - check details out here, our itinerary was plotted out and we had two full days of beautiful adventure to follow. Life. Is. Good. 

We set off straight from work, popping champagne corks and nibbling salted caramel chocolates in true Eurostar style!

Check out our delightful digs first and then we'll boast some more about the fun we got up to alongside the tale of when we locked ourselves out of our apartment for a shockingly awful few hours with just 40 Euros to our name...

And let me introduce you to our furry friend who kept us company during our stay, Hugo! 

He was a very friendly fella but his inquisitive nature got us into a lot of bother one morning. He had a tendency to dart for freedom, bat out of hell style, whenever one of us opened the front door. After escaping on one occasion we decided we needed a plan to keep Hugo a house cat! It went like this... 

...Middle Mouse opens the apartment door whilst Chrissie picks Hugo up and walks him to the other side of the apartment. Chrissie places Hugo on the floor and runs as fast as her little legs can carry her, through the flat and out of the front door where Middle Mouse is waiting on the other side. The door is shut is super fast fashion and Hugo is safe once again...

This plan worked perfectly on every occasion bar one. It was Sunday morning and we decided we would head out to pick up some coffee and pastries from a nearby beaut of an establishment. I grabbed my phone and the joint kitty to buy the bits we needed, unlocked the front door and the Hugo system kicked into life. Cue Chrissie and her cat dropping off procedure. I ran out of the flat as always and waited for my friend. She came hurtling towards me, through the door which I sharply slammed behind her... 

'OH MY GOD' were the next words that came out of my mouth ... 'where are the keys were the second' followed by Chrissie saying 'you have them, you have them, are you serious, don't do this to me' - I will never forget the look on her face, a mix of pure panic and disappointment! Yep, I had only gone and left the keys in the other side of the door #facepalm

The next 4 hours went by in a haze and seriously tested mine and Chrissie's friendship but don't worry we came out stronger than ever! We got a few neighbours involved and a friendly French locksmith and after much deliberation and a few hundred Euros later the double doors to our palace were open once again for business. My love for Hugo had faded however and I will never be able to look at the below double doors without wanting to cry, scream and shout!

So when we weren't dealing with the naughty Hugo and kicking back like parisian princesses in our chic and shiny apartment we were mostly eating, boozing and exploring the streets of Paris. Check out our top picks below...

The original ECC in Paris has been on my hit list for some time now so I wasn't going to miss the chance to check it out during our flying visit. It didn't disappoint ... suitably secret with only a bronze plaque giving its presence away, cocktails to die for - the best rum sour of my life in fact - and achingly cool clientele. 

A hop, skip and a jump from our apartment meant we visited the lovely Buvette whenever possible! The night we arrived we grabbed a selection of sharing plates to satisfy our rumbling tummies - salted caramel chocs and champs alone didn't cut it - #firstworldproblems. It was also our go-to joint for a morning coffee fix and we went back again for a light bite before heading to the Eurostar home on the Sunday. I can't recommend it enough - the food is spot on, the staff are oh-so-charming and bloomin' handsome and the decor is beautifully done. 10/10. 

An absolute must for any fashion bunny about town or any darn bunny in my opinion because this hotel is a work of art. Everything is dressed up to the nines in the most lavish way possible from the catwalk entrance to the velvet furnishings to the courtyard of dreams AKA the hotel's centrepiece. The perfect spot for a glass of bubbles and a spot of people watching after a hard day's shopping...

A beautiful bar not far from our airbnb in Pigalle. It really was top notch in every way. Again you would walk straight past it if you didn't know it was there - look out for the hooded man tapping his phone outside! Once inside you won't be disappointed - the atmosphere is buzzy, the cocktails were super fancy and I just did not want to leave! If it weren't for us agreeing to explore different cocktail bars the next night I would have gone back in a flash...

Le Marais 

Wanding the sweet streets of Le Marais needs to be top of your list. Lots of charming shops, parisian fashion that is guaranteed to cripple your credit card and a coffee shop on every corner. If you're into falafel you need to check out Rue des Rosiers. I head there every time I visit the area and normally I'm loyal to the outlet, L'As du Fallafel but this time sadly it was closed so I cheated and went to King Falafel Palace instead which was just a delicious...

When you're done exploring the area you must head to Le Loir dans la Theiere, the most wonderful little cake and tea shop! I had read rave reviews on their lemon meringue creation and had seen many pictures on Instagram that suggested the slices dished out were bigger than your head! All the rumours are true, that's all i'm saying...

Canal St Martin

The perfect spot to relax with a carpet picnic and watch the world go by. We did just that...

The Tuileries Garden

This cuter than cute public garden not far from the Louvre is always the perfect place to forget all your worries and take stock of life. Chrissie and I treated ourselves to a fancy ice cream and headed there to soak up the last bit of Sunday sun before heading home. The perfect end to a perfect trip... 

Thanks for the memories Paris and Chrissie Cooper!

Monday 28 September 2015

Meat Mania - Berber & Q ...

I love it when you stumble across an awesome gem that you just know you'll visit time and time again and never be disappointed. It's a rare occurrence these days, especially in London where majority of new openings concentrate on style or quirk over substance; whatever happened to simply awesome flavours and spot on cooking?

The restaurant in question is Berber and Q. Located a few minutes walk from Haggerston overground, it's not the easiest of places to get to but well worth the trek let me tell you. I'd read rave reviews so was confident it would tick the boxes, however when checking out the menu before hand, I still wasn't too sure what to expect - I usually know what I'm going to order before I even get to a restaurant! To sum it up in a few words - expect a Middle Eastern inspired menu with a strong theme around in house smoking of meats and an abundance of flavour with everything that passes your lips! 

We decided to try it out for one of Middle Mouse's birthday celebrations last Wednesday night, as you can't book we were a little worried so two of us turned up just after six. The place was empty - at this point I was feeling a little less sure of our selection, so we trotted a couple of doors up to sink a few carafes of Pinot Noir whilst we waited for the other two. When everyone had arrived we wandered back to find the place heaving and exuding the most appetising aromas and a contagious buzz - tick tick tick!

Despite being busy the ideal table was just vacating as we arrived so we were seated immediately! However if this isn't the case for you, there is the perfect bar amongst all the fun where you can wait and make your way through the Middle Eastern inspired cocktail list!

Inside you'll find a dimly lit arched space with an urban feel cosied up by the electric buzz from the open kitchen and very happy diners! 

We sadly skipped cocktails to carry on with red but next time I'm going all in, they sound super unusual and could add an extra sparkle to an already very shiny gem! 

We of course ordered enough food to feed an army! Our waitress advised to order one meat and side per person, which was pretty perfect for a ravenous pack like us, however for four normal people I reckon 3 meats and 4 sides would have sufficed (I had to be rolled out and into a waiting uber!) Having said that, we certainly weren't complaining as the food was very literally, finger licking good!

Cosy lighting = blog picture nightmare, but take my word for it - HEAVENLY!

Get a dinner date in the dairy ASAP and make sure you follow my Berber & Q top tips:

1. Wear expandable trousers or a VERY loose fitting outfit

2. Go hungry 

3. Don't let the incredible aromas from the kitchen trick you into order extra - you WILL NOT need it

4. The garlic sauce is amazing BUT if you're on a date steer clear...seriously strong and tricky to shift for the next 7 days!!!! 

5. Enjoy every morsel of food!!!

Friday 25 September 2015

This Week The Mice Have Mostly Been...

Wahoooooooooooo Fri-Yay is upon us!! 

Yes I do!!!

This week has been pretty full on work wise but we battled on through and now we're in for a treat! It's the first week middle and mini have been in the same country and it's pretty awesome to have my partner in crime back! Just a shame the other is over 5,000 miles hoooo!

When we haven't been working like a demon or giggling and gossipping like all sisters should, this week the Mice have mostly been....

Scoffing a bloody good breakfast at the new brunch spot Egg Break in Notting Hill. Over the past two months since opening, our Instagram feeds have been crammed full of yolk oozing pics just testing our clean and lean will power! 

We eventually caved and planned a visit last Sunday. Conveniently located about 150 metres from Notting Hill tube station, you can get your egg fix and then mosey on round the corner for a full day of fun roaming Portobello road or browsing the boutiques of Westbourne Grove. 

Egg Break is from the ever growing Soho House group and as always they didn't disappoint. Keep your eyes peeled for the old Thai Break restaurant on Uxbridge Street which has been renovated into the perfect brunch hideaway. I loved everything, from the outside awning with the previous restaurant name crossed out and Egg scrawled across the front, to the shabby-chic, chilled interior and delicious menu of course!

Inside you'll find a cave of winding stairs, hidden cubbies and basement seating, ideal for a lazy Sunday of munching, slurping and oodles of yolk oozing! You may have to wait for a table initially as there's no reservations (yawn!) but this place is pretty big and we were seated within five minutes.

The menu is, as the name suggests, egg focused - from cocktails to breakfast, and brunch to desserts...they've got it all covered. 

We couldn't resist starting with fluffy Pisco sours - even though it had only just passed midday...

I wasn't so keen on picture taking...

And when it all gets a little bit too much only a temper tantrum will suffice....

Followed by a portion of broken eggs and chorizo...

The much instagrammed pork belly bun...yum yum yum...

And to finish off, a must have round of Clover Clubs - seriously delish, so much so I totally forgot to get you a snap!!

We didn't have room for the divine sounding baked salted caramel custard but next time we're coming for youuuuuu!!!!

Experiencing a serious case of guilt every time I spy the beautiful cashmere, silk and delicate knitwear sitting at the bottom of my laundry basket, just waiting for the next rare visit to the dry cleaners! 

It's always a pain when you check the care label of your new favourite purchase to find a pesky hand wash or dry clean only symbol. I know at that point I'll only see it approximately twice a year when I find time to detour to the dry cleaners and back again to collect everything! 

Well dig out those hidden gems and sign up to the fab I Hate Ironing to solve all your problems! You'll be obsessed in no time mark my words...! 

All hassle is taken out of the job - they pick everything up, do their magic and return all your hard to launder togs in pristine condition. And, all within 8 hours if you wish....a chore no more let me tell you! All you have to do is create an account, select your one hour pick up slot and get the garments ready in a bag for collection. 

I seriously couldn't believe how easy and seamless the service was, you even get a reminder text of your pick up slot which you can reply to if you're running late or need to rearrange. The price per garment is much cheaper than my local dry cleaner and as long as you hit the £20 minimum the return delivery is free - pretty awesome no?! Check out the price list here and TOP SECRET but the lovely faces behind the brand have offered our blog readers £10 off their first dry cleaning order, just use the coupon code HEL10 to redeem!

Forget planning outfits a week in advance and most importantly racing home from work to collect everything before closing...oh no our new best friends have it all covered! 

Right on that note I'm off to dress up in non machine washable clothes and get ready to watch the rugby (aka spy on hot boys)!!

Have a great weekend!

The Mice