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The truth about driving distractions.


*Collaborative post*

When driving there are numerous things you need to remember to stay safe on the road and it can be so easy to get distracted. Not giving the road your complete attention is not only dangerous to you and any passengers in your car but it’s also dangerous to other people on the road. A recent study from Lease Car UK showed the top distractions for drivers in the UK. As I was super interested to read this and kind of shocked too, I thought you guys may enjoy the findings too. 

Not surprisingly the study found that noise was the biggest distraction for many drivers, with music affecting people’s concentration. Many people said they think heavy metal and rock are the most distracting genres of music, while pop and classical are thought to be the least distracting genres.

Another distraction for UK drivers is eating on the go. 30% of people who were surveyed said they would grab lunch or a snack, with chocolate and sweets being the popular choice of food in the car. With drive-thrus being available for coffee and fast food, it makes the temptation even higher when on the road, especially if it is a long drive. When driving on the road, it’s important that everyone in the car tries not to distract the driver, so keep the snacks to one side until the car has come to a stop.

Pets and children can also be a distraction, with almost 6 out of 10 people saying they drive with children in the car. 30% of people said they use the rear-view mirror to talk to their children and 3% said they turn around when talking to them. 25% of people drive around with a pet in the car and only 5% of those pets are put in the footwell, which is considered to be the more dangerous choice, as pets should be strapped in. 

A big distraction for a lot of drivers is mobile phones, which is one of the leading causes of car accidents. You’re only allowed to use a phone if it is fully hands-free and your device should be set up before you start your journey. A lot of cars these days allow you to connect your mobile device automatically. Whether it’s your own car or if you’re looking into Hyundai leasing deals from Lease Car UK, check that the car has features that can allow you to operate your phone through voice commands. This allows you to listen to music on the go or call people if needs be. This allows you to be focused on the road, rather than down on your phone. I don't know about you, but I find it hard to keep concentration when I am looking at my phone, let alone on the road. 

Let me know in the comments which of these stats shocked you the most? I think for me, it was that people put their pets in the footwell! 

Planning the perfect getaway.

*This is a collaborative post* 
We all have different ideas about what constitutes the perfect holiday. It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking to spend time away with family, a loved one, or enjoy time away on your own. There are, however, a number of common characteristics everyone should consider when looking for the perfect holiday destination.

Facilities:
Unless you’re looking for a getaway that takes you off to the middle of nowhere, you’re going to need certain facilities. Check whether there are any popular tourist attractions because you might not want to spend all day sat by the pool or on the beach. Other facilities you might want to look for include medical facilities, shopping, eating establishments, banks or money changing companies, cinemas, and opportunities for relaxing.
Entertainment:
How would you like to spend your time when you’re on holiday? Are you looking forward to 7 days relaxing next to the pool or are you looking to experience some of the local cultures? Eating at local restaurants, listening to live music, dancing the night away at a local club, or watching the sun go down over the ocean are all enjoyable things to do if you’re looking for entertainment.
Accommodation:
There are many different types of accommodation available, depending on where you want to stay. Bed and breakfast, all-inclusive hotel, boat, barge, beach hut or luxury villa are all possibilities. There are a variety of villas in Orlando, for example, each with their own pool, where you can enjoy the finer things in life. Spending a couple of weeks in such lavish surroundings is bound to lift the spirits.
Weather:
If you’re travelling abroad, from somewhere in the UK, you’re going to want weather that’s a little more special than the odd sunny day interspersed with rain. After all, you can get that if you stay at home. Whether you want snowy landscapes, blue sea, sand and blue skies, rolling green hills or snow-peaked mountains, there’s a destination to suit you. When you’re doing your research, check out the weather you can expect, depending on the time of year you decide to visit.

Safety:
Not every country in the world is safe to visit, and if you do the right research, you’ll easily find out those that are and those that aren’t. There’s nothing wrong with venturing off the beaten track, but it pays to find out as much as you can about the location. The internet is an amazing tool and there are also a wide variety of travel apps you can use to guide you.
Cuisine: 
Half the fun of going away on holiday is the opportunity to try different things, one of which is the local cuisine. Tasting the local food is all part of the adventure. Try a pasta dish in Italy, paella in Spain, a vegetarian curry in India, or sushi in Japan.

5 reasons why you should visit Manchester.




*This is a collaborative post* 

Manchester is one of my favourite places to visit in the UK, I think it is an underdog when it comes to cities in the UK and people often overlook it when looking for places to visit. For the last two years, I've stayed in Manchester for my Birthday and I've always enjoyed it and would love to go back just to explore what else Manchester has to offer. I thought today I'd talk to you about some of the reasons I love Manchester and why I think it's worth a visit if you get the chance to do so. 

Shopping:
Manchester is the ultimate place to go shopping, with two shopping centres (one being the Trafford Centre!) and a bunch of department stores throughout the city you are spoilt for choice. If you want to stay central you can visit the Arndale, however, if you're willing to go further a-field I'd totally recommend the Trafford Centre. Plus Manchester has a huge Primark for any fans of the good old Primarni. 


Drinking:
If you're on the lookout for a place for the perfect pub crawl Manchester has you covered, whether you're on a day sesh or drinking throughout the evening, there are so many choices. Have some luggage with you which you don't fancy dragging around (I know them feels too well) Excess Baggage has you covered with an easy drop-off and pick up point to allow you to collect your luggage when convenient. I don't know if you're like me but I do not trust myself with anything valuable when I am out drinking so this is the perfect solution. In Manchester, you have to check out The Washhouse as well as Gorilla, Fab Cafe and the Apocothary. But there is pretty much a bar/pub to suit everyone, that's why it's known as having some of the best nightlife in the entire country. 


Food:
Of course, food had to make it on the list, as you probably know, I love my food. With hundreds of bars, restaurants and cafes to explore you're in for a treat! One of my favourite places to go for some grub in the northern quarter where you will find some amazing places, which are unique to the city or chain restaurants such as Chiqutos, Bella Italia and Wetherspoons, of course! I love that Manchester also has a Hard Rock Cafe, as it has its own amazing vibe. 110% would recommend. 

Alternative shopping: 
Manchester is full to the brim with vintage stores, and often you can get yourself some great goodies from kilo sales, or if you're feeling adventurous, I'd recommend checking out Afflecks which is known as a totem of Indie commerce. With floors and floors of quirky little shops, my favourite shops were Bad Mother Sugar, Thunder Egg and Sour Cherry. Dependant on what you're looking for they have some really great stuff. Also, the walls in the place are insane and great for taking fashion posts in the stairwells. 



Other cool places worth visiting: 
For this section, I thought I'd just share with a few of my personal recommendations in Manchester. Firstly is the Cat Cafe, which in case you didn't guess is a cafe where you can hang out with cats! On their website, it allows you to 'meet' the cats to see who you will be seeing on your visit. Next is the Junkyard Golf Club which is my latest recommendation, all I am going say is mini golf meets alcohol and a ton of amazing props. My final recommendation which isn't unique to Manchester but they have a Lego Store which allows you to do a Lego Pick n Mix, as well as making 'yourself' out of Lego which is a super fun experience if you haven't done it before. 


The complete guide to all things Fair Trade chocolate.


*This is a collaborative post* 

Chocolate is one of my favourite things, like ever. But I've never really thought about where it comes from, with Valentine's Day approaching quickly, followed shortly by Easter, I thought it would be a great time to share this. I previously shared a post all about Fair Trade Coffee and you all seemed to enjoy it. Let me know in the comments your favourite chocolate bar! 

Research has suggested that each year, Britain consumes 660,900 tonnes of chocolate (and that's just me alone, just joking), which calculates to 11kg per person — or three bars each week. This highlights just how popular chocolate is, but like me, if you're curious as to where it comes from, all will now be revealed. The Fairtrade System currently works with more than 1.65 million farmers across 74 different countries around the world to bring us some of the most delicious treats known to man — one being chocolate. There is a lot to consider when it comes to determining what type of chocolate person you are; do you opt for magnificent milk chocolate or a delicious dark chocolate bar? I'm all about the milk chocolate myself, however, I am not opposed to white chocolate either, that stuff is amazing. 



Where does chocolate start? 
The creation of chocolate requires very specific environmental conditions with every bar that is produced — which makes Bolivia a great place for production. However, there are six million growers, farmers and processors across Africa, Asia and Latin America to meet the demands of the rest of the world.

Chocolate is the result of hard workers from one of the world’s poorest country; Bolivia. The nation has an estimated population of 10.89 million people and sits alongside Brazil, Paraguay, Argentina, Chile, and Peru. The entire country has a history of cultivating cocoa, which started in the 1960s, but most growers tend to be from the Alto Beni region. Although many farmers grow cocoa, some have started to grow organic bananas, citrus fruits and vegetables, too.

It's time for some chocolate related trivia, who's ready? 
Giving you the answers to the chocolate related questions, which you may or may not want the answers to, but, you never know when the knowledge might be needed. Pub quiz anyone? 

What are the main differences between traditional and raw chocolate?
Raw chocolate usually contains fewer ingredients than traditional chocolate — such as cocoa powder, cocoa butter, coconut blossom sugar, and raw fruit or seeds. Traditional chocolate can contain milk, soya, sugars, sweeteners, soya, and a host of artificial flavourings and preservatives. While Traidcraft’s fair trade vegan chocolate may not be raw chocolate, it’s kept its recipe as natural as possible — fair trade, organic, and free from GMOs, cheap emulsifiers, cheap oils, artificial colours or preservatives.

Not only that, did you know that cocoa beans that are used for raw chocolate are never heated above 42 degrees? In commercial chocolate, the cocoa beans are roasted at a temperature between 130 and 400 degrees. When drying cocoa beans for raw chocolate, some cocoa growers just leave their beans outdoors to dry naturally in the sunlight!

Have cocoa farmers ever tasted chocolate?
The majority of cocoa farmers have never tasted chocolate. Beans are shipped almost instantly as if chocolate was created in these typically warm countries, it would melt! Many cocoa farmers will have never tasted chocolate in their lives. In 2017, Traidcraft hosted Linda, a cocoa farmer from the co-operative Kuapa Kokoo (and who grows fair trade cocoa for the Divine Chocolate Company), and she reminded us that any chocolate left lying around in Ghana would just melt anyway! 

This makes me sad to hear, although it makes sense, I wish they could experience the goodness of the product they spend hours growing.


What are the main differences between cocoa and cacao?
Cocoa and cacao are technically the same plants. Though the words cocoa and cacao are often used interchangeably, generally cocoa is the term used for cacao that’s been fermented, dried, and roasted at high temperatures. It’s then pressed until all the oils are separated and the solids that remain can be turned into a dry powder — cocoa powder. Cacao powder is made in a very similar way but at a far lower temperature.

Where is cocoa originally grown?
The Theobroma Cacao has been used throughout time for nutritional and medicinal benefits and is native to Central America. This scientific name for the tree actually translates as ‘food of the gods’. These trees produce pods which contain 20-40 cacao beans — and it’s these beans that eventually get turned into chocolate. Theobroma Cacao trees grow most successfully in a narrow band called the Cocoa Belt or the Chocolate Belt. This band extends up to 20 degrees north and south of the equator.

*This post is a paid guest written post, however, I had full editorial rights over the post and made it my own.  

Loyalty cards: Are they worth it?

I don't know about anyone else, but my purse is constantly overflowing with cards, vouchers and receipts from different shops, and it seems like everyone has a reward card to offer. But how much do these really benefit us as a consumer and how many of them are just another piece of plastic to carry around? I decided to feature my own loyalty card key to go with the post, 5 cards is the best and 1 is totally not worth it. I hope this helps and let me know in the comments which your favourite one is. 


Boots:
Hands down, Boots have one of my favourite loyalty schemes and give me the most reason to always go back. With vouchers on their app, as well as special ones in the post every quarter the points quickly add up. Although you can only use them if it covers your purchase in full which to me is their biggest downfall, however you soon find out that they build up quickly. If you're an avid makeup fan like myself, I am forever getting bonus points buying different makeup items. Plus the vouchers get more tailored towards you based on previous purchases. 150 points for buying a lipstick? Yes, please! You can spend the points on just about anything in store too.
Superdrug: 
Similarly to Boots, the points rack up and you can spend them on your purchases, Superdrug has the advantage of letting you use your points to part pay for items, which is always good when you get to the till and they offer for you to take some points off your card. The points do always seem to be harder to build up, it feels like many purchases are needed to even get a pound or two off the bill. If you're a regular shopper I would advise signing up to their card, plus you get free delivery and special online offers for being a beauty card member. 

Costa and Nero:

Both coffee chains have a reward card worth being a part of. Each drink gets you closer to a free drink with Nero it's every 10th drink free and the Costa points add up each time you purchase from them. With Costa, you can scan the machines at the grab and go stations too which is great as I live across the road from Co-Op which has one in. If you're massive coffee (or tea) drinker it's worth getting one of these cards/apps.
Nandos:
Hell to the yes, the Nandos card is way worth it. With Nandos, you collect chillis on your card which can be redeemed as a variety of food items, dependant on the number of chillis on your account. These are coloured so you always know where you're at if you use their app. You can get points equal to be able to get a starter (their houmous is to die for!) or save them up to be able to get a full on meal! I know that if you eat chicken (I am that person who goes and is vegetarian) each chilli works out at 1/4, 1/2 and a whole chicken. 


Debenhams:
The Debenhams beauty card is one I've never really used prior to signing up a few weeks back. The card itself is similar to other beauty ones, once you have earned 500 points this gets turned into a £5 voucher which you can use as part payment towards an item or if you have enough points you can use it pay for a product. The points are 3 points per pound so it can take a while to build them to something worthwhile. If you're a regular shopper though I'd recommend. Also for your birthday Debenhams offer you a free eyebrow wax with Benefit and a facial from Elizabeth Arden which is a pretty good deal on its own. You can also go into the store each month and collect selected deluxe samples. The main downside of the Debenhams beauty card is that your points expire after 24 months. 
The Works:
My first job was actually in the works, it was a dream at the time as the discount was amazing, plus their products are cheap af. Recently I've been told about their reward card which each quarter they turn your points into a voucher when you have a fiver. Which in the works you can buy a pretty large amount of stuff or at least a chunk of a purchase. I usually purchase their craft items so it will quickly build up for me. 
Paperchase: 
Paperchase has a Treat Me reward system. The way in which it works is once you spend £50 you get a £5 voucher, which isn't bad. They give you a £5 gift card on your birthday which has no minimum spend which again is pretty good. When you buy 6 cards you get the 7th for free and Paperchase isn't short of cards so you'll get a free one in no time and finally, they offer a free upgrade to next day delivery which is fab. 


Ikea: 
Ikea offers a variety of perks on their card which is called the family card. I think in terms of getting the most out of your card then and there the Ikea one is the best. They offer an extra 10% off sale items, as well as discounts on a variety of items throughout the store just for being a family member. You can get free tea or coffee when you visit a store, no strings attached and a variety of food offers too, and when the food is already super cheap you can't really get much better. 
Tkmaxx:
Late last year TKmaxx brought out their own reward card, it isn't a points type one, and to this day I still don't understand the worth of a card. I signed up as the guy said if I signed up, I'd get a free tote bag and I had a lot of stuff so I went for it. I haven't actually been asked for it since I am pretty sure all that the card does is enter you into monthly giveaways which is a bit disappointing compared to other reward schemes. 

What are your thoughts on Loyalty cards?

Things they didn't teach us growing up: The Money Edit

*This is a collaborative post*

Growing up like most people I hated going to school, I felt like every day was so pointless and constant bullying made my days at school hell. However, now as an adult, I can respect the amount I did learn at school, and wish that I could have worked harder towards my goals instead of counting down the days until I left. Looking back on what we learnt at school and the skills most of us are lacking now is a huge downfall in the education system. We needed to know more about finances, relationships, how to cope with our mental health, sex and how to communicate better with others. 

As when we are in school it is when we develop most as a person as these are our younger years leading on to our teens. We needed to learn more about real life, instead of what was in books and although I may know basic algebra, I lack in knowing about actual real life money skills. Such interest rates, money management, credit cards, how to save and even credit scores. Those things are real life and they're what we need to know. So I've decided to share my own personal knowledge on the subjects, the best I can and hope to help others learn more about the topics. I am in no way claiming to be an expert in any of the fields, this is purely my opinion and based on what I've learned along the way. I recently wrote the confidence chronicles and how self-confidence can go a long way. Let me know in the comments what topic you'd like to see covered next.



Credit cards aren't always bad:
I was always made to think credit cards are bad, that they are there for additional bills or things you can't afford, so they add them to their cards to pay back at a later date. Which to some extent can be true. However, credit cards can be great for your credit rating, they allow you to buy something on them, pay them back each month (in full if possible) and then your rating will grow as it allows you to show you are responsible with money. Luckily for me, in college, our tutor told us about this when we were learning about freelancing. It's worth going through a comparison site such as Money Supermarket who offer a credit card comparison service based on the information you provide they advise the likelihood of you being accepted for a card without doing a credit check which can damage your score. Most people I know who are attempting to build up their score, usually by their weekly/monthly shop on their card and then pay it back at the end of the month. 

Loans are fine, as long you can pay it back:
Sometimes unexpected bills can crop up, like an emergency dentist appointment or an expense which is unavoidable and you can end up needing to borrow money. Most of us have been there and although it's not a great situation to find yourself in sometimes you have to do it. With things such as payday loans to get you through to payday, the interest can be higher than the amount itself dependant on the time frame in which the loan is going to be taken out for. Finding the correct lender for you is always important, in the past, I've gotten a loan with a company I didn't know much about, and went in a bit blind and went for it, which ended up with me paying back so much more than I owed. With iLoans they help you find the perfect lender for you, with the best APR for your loan. With all loans, there is a cooling off period, so it is worth finding this out before taking out the loan in case you change your mind.



Set up a spreadsheet to budget:
It's often easy to get away with spending on payday, but it's worth creating a spreadsheet which has your earnings on and all of the bills you have coming out (be honest else it won't work) then it will allow you to see what is left. I include my food shopping on the sheet due to this being a pretty big expenditure each month, I find out the amount to add in monthly by doing an average of the last three months and that way it gives me a rough estimate. With the remaining funds I like to spend on things I may need each month e.g. food out and makeup and then any left over should go into savings. It's easy to create a spreadsheet and I enjoy to add colours into mine to make it less daunting. 


What are your top tips for dealing with your finances? 

Gifts every student wants*


*Disclaimer so maybe not every student will want these but, a lot of students will enjoy these gifts. Unfortunately, I can't even share any stats as I don't actually have them, because they don't exist. So you'll have to take my word for it. P.s. This post includes swearing and other rude things, so if this isn't for you feel free to click off as I'd hate to offend anyone! xo

Present buying can be such a difficult task, so I decided to compile a list of gifts which I would have loved to have got as a student. I feel like when you're a student you spend most of your money on food, booze and bills so it's great to get a gift you wouldn't usually buy for yourself. As well as new socks, because although 10 year old me hated getting them, 23 year old me is game. So this guide includes some items which are a *little bit* of the box, and not for the fainthearted. All of the items on the list are under £20 and most of them are under £10. So it's a great guide (if I may say so myself) for students to buy students or family members to buy for students. Or, if you just like cats, games and random selection of books this guide may also do well for you. 

Power up washi tape
Personalised Nutella

Power up Washi tapes from Mustard £7 
These tapes are a great present for any stationery geeks in your life, to be honest, I've never needed a washi tape, however, they make studying more fun as you can cover most notebooks and pages in them. Plus forget ever licking an envelope again, you can just seal it up with washi tape, win. 

Personalised Nutella £4
This year Nutella has become of my favourite things to eat, and it pretty much goes with everything sweet, some of my personal faves are waffles, croissants and in a sundae. You can now get your own personalised jar from a number of places, I purchased mine from Debenhams but I know Selfridges also offer this service.  

Cat Chaos
Truth bombs

Cat Choas £8 / Truth Bombs £15/ Shit Happens £13
Games are coming back with full force, and not the console type. Good old-fashioned games but they're more out there than ever and appeal to the masses. Most games students do incorporate drinking into them, and as much as a deck of cards can be great fun it is awesome to have some alternatives. 

Cat Choas is an easy game to set up and requires quick thinking like snap, you need to attempt to swap the cards in the middle with your cards to make up a full collection. There are 4 cards of each cat celebrity and the winner is who completes their suits the quickest. It's an addictive game and will keep you entertained for hours, plus you can use the cards to make your own games out of too. 

Truth Bombs is a great game but can get pretty brutal, in a nutshell, a number of cards get drawn, enough for each player who is taking part and the questions can be anything from what would their online name be to who would they push off a cliff, and then at random every player writes down an answer to one of the questions for each person, the pad will get passed around and the person has to guess who wrote what, as these are done at random it's harder to guess. I wouldn't recommend playing this game if you're easily offended, but playing it whilst drinking seems even more fun, as long as you can still write. 

Shit Happens is a pretty simple concept. You get dealt a hand of cards and each card has a number between 1-100 on them, on a scale of shit to the shittest (which is buried alive) and you pick a card from the deck and then read it for the person next to you and then they have to decide where within the shit index the card would it go. I wouldn't necessarily agree with the lineup of all of these cards and it depends what you would find the 'shittest' but it's a great game and gets you thinking. 

Dungarees & Donuts gift guide.

Gourmet Popcorn from the Popcorn Shed £3.50
Who doesn't like popcorn? I mean I know I love it and it's a pretty easy crowd pleaser, for £3.50 you can get a shed load (excuse the pun) of popcorn in a range of flavours with everything from Salted Caramel to Cheese. They're a great stocking filler or lush to include in a hamper as they're so brightly coloured. Oh, and they taste pretty good too. Not too sure on the cheese one though, the jury is still out. 

The Very Hungover Caterpillar £4
A twist on the book the hungry caterpillar, a childhood favourite of mine. The twist is all about what the very hungover caterpillar gets up to. It's a short but humorous book, perfect for that bit of toilet reading or just something to cheer you up on a bad day. 

Images You Should NOT Masturbate To £7.99
I was drawn to this book as I knew it would be comical, and basically, the book is full of images you shouldn't/wouldn't want to Masturbate to. Perfect for that mate that never leaves their room or as a house secret Santa gift. 

Optional Fucks Calender
This calendar is a great desk buddy for when you're studying, especially when you have annoying housemates, it's a great way to warn them at their own risk to enter. Plus its great fun to spin the wheel and keep yano, dates in...


I hope you enjoyed this post and some of the items in this guide were gifted, however, they were all chosen by me and are only featured if I genuinely would recommend them to you. Let me know in the comments if you would buy any of these gifts!

Exploring Birmingham: The German Markets and Christmas Shopping.


I was recently asked to explore Birmingham as part of a campaign, as part of this collaboration I was given some spending money to explore Birmingham, however, all thoughts are my own as always. As someone who lives only a 30-minute train ride away from Birmingham, I couldn't wait to spend my time in the city, especially now the German Market was in full swing. Despite living close to Birmingham, I don't spend enough time here, there is always so much to explore, with the Bullring, Mailbox, Grand Central Station and it's many shops and also outside of these places, there are miles of streets full of shops and restaurants too. If you are travelling to do your Christmas shopping here, I'd recommend staying in a hotel as there many hotels in Birmingham and it's great for splitting up what you want to do and gives you a little break in between shopping. I mean there is so much walking my feet can do, and if you're like me and want to go pretty much everywhere it can become a little much.  

So I headed to Birmingham on Tuesday, ready to take on what Birmingham has to offer. When we arrived, we decided that food would be a great place to start, because who wants to shop on an empty stomach? I decided to try one of the many places in Grand Central and went to Tortilla which is a burrito bar which serves a variety of yummy food including tacos and nachos, which was an amazing experience and so reasonably priced too. Stay tuned for a full review of Tortilla in the near future. 

With a belly full of food we headed outside to the German Market, which is a Frankfurt styled market it runs from New Street to Victoria Square, it is packed with stalls full of amazing food including crepes, hotdogs and chocolatey treats. There are pop up bars accompanied by adorable little tables, which are selling German beers and hot chocolate. Stalls which were selling coffee beans, popcorn and marshmallows. Along with an assortment of gift stalls which had a generous offering of Christmas decorations, jewellery, hand-painted ornaments and rainbow candles. Will and I decided to get some keyrings for ourselves and one for our friend. I went for Jessie keyring as she's my fave and I've had a similar one in the past which I loved. After we had a long mooch around the stalls we headed back inside of Grand Central. 
Bullring bull



German market

German Market

We went to a few shops within grand central including John Lewis and Hema, before heading through Link Street, which is where we found Driftroom a quirky store selling a range of gifts and lighting and we spoke to the shop owner who was happy enough for us to take photos of the goodies within. After 30 mins in the store, I decided to buy a new card game 'cat chaos' which I can't wait to play and then we left. I was tempted to buy one the bigger lights but it was the idea of carrying it around and on the train which made us leave it behind. We popped into the Disney Store and Debenhams also, where I purchased a jar of personalised Nutella. After this, we headed to Selfridges which is four floors of gifts, clothes and of course more food. We had a look at all four floors which we don't often do, as I wanted to check out all it has to offer, and treated myself to a few bits from Paperchase and lusted over a Gucci bag. Once we had a look around we headed to Eds Diner to get some dessert, where I had waffles sandwiched together with Nutella and Will had cheesecake covered in peanut butter and chocolate sauce, washed down with a large Pepsi max each and with that we headed home to get the train. 

I had a fabulous time exploring Birmingham and if my feet weren't super painful I could have spent another few hours there for sure. I hope you enjoyed this post and if you'd like to see more posts on Birmingham let me know in the comments below. 

Selfridges Robin Christmas

Driftroom

Disney Store Birmingham

Eds diner cheesecake

Eds Diner Waffle

*I was gifted some spending by Hotels.com in return for this post, all thoughts and opinions are my own :) 

Bakedin Review: Sticky toffee drip cake!


Since moving house I've become even fonder of baking, throughout October I did a variety of Halloween posts and with Christmas on the horizon expect the posts to keep coming. A little while back I was offered the chance to review a baking subscription box called Bakedin, which each month you are sent a new recipe out to try. The recipe includes ingredients which are already weighed out for you, and any additional extras such as baking paper or measuring tools are included. You just need to add the fresh ingredients on top. Each bag of product is labelled to follow each of the steps which are contained within the leaflet in the box. The recipes are developed by Michel Roux who is one of the worlds finest pastry chefs, which makes the whole concept even more exciting. If you're looking to sign up to Bakedin, if you subscribe here and then use the code 'OLIVIAJADE299' you can get your first box for only £2.99. My first impressions when the box arrived was how neatly packaged it was as I've noticed a lot of companies using excess packaging lately, so I was glad to see this was just right. I saw the recipe card and was drooling at what my kitchen adventure was going to entail. For the Sticky toffee drip cake, the additional ingredients needed alongside were butter, double cream and eggs. 


Having the step by step leaflet in front of me was super helpful as I knew which bag to use and the timings. The first thing I was greeted with was bag 1, which was full of dates and I had to heat them in a ban and then let them boil. As someone who has no idea about using fruit within food, I was a little confused about what sort of consistency the dates should end up like. I did find the picture on this step a bit hard to understand how it was supposed to look at this point so I just went for it. The rest of the creating of the cake I found it easier to follow the card. Adding the rest of the ingredients (sugar and eggs) to the dates and after stirring this, I then went on to fold in the flour. Once this was done it made a nice golden mixture which was then poured equally into 2 cake tins. I popped the tins into the oven for about 18 minutes before they needed to come out. I know the recipe said about 25 minutes but mine were done way before that. I used the stick provided to poke into each of the sponges to make sure they come out clean which they did yay.  

Sticky toffee drip cake

I then took out the cakes and left them to cool on the side, before a few hours later creating the butter icing. Which was simply just butter, icing sugar and a tiny amount of milk. Once whisked together I covered one of my cakes in icing before sandwiching the second one on top and then covering the top and the sides with the icing. I struggle a lot with precision so I did find it hard to make this look 'perfect' once I was happy enough with the result I popped the cake in the fridge overnight for the butter icing to set. You don't have to do this, however, as it was quite late I thought it made sense to do so.  

Sticky toffee drip cake

In the morning I took the cake out of the fridge and it was time for the final step, making the toffee! This was the part I was most excited about throughout the process but also slightly scared as I have tried to make it before and it turned into a mess. For the toffee sauce, we added butter, double cream and demerara sugar and put it on the stove in a heavy duty pan. I continually stirred until it gave the texture of the sauce I was looking for. Then I poured the sauce into a jug and let it cool for a while, before pouring it all over the cake and watching it drip down the sides, it looked so divine. For someone who doesn't really know that much about making cakes, I was pleasantly surprised at how great the cake turned out! Plus my friends and boyfriend loved it too. 

Sticky toffee drip cake
Sticky toffee drip cake

I found my first Bakedin box a success, it has provided me with a recipe I never previously would have thought to make and I also now know how to make toffee sauce. The step by step guide made it easy to create the product compared to a normal recipe. The box already has the ingredients weighed out is great for those also who don't have scales. It even comes with a guide for how much butter to use. Thank you to the Bakedin team for providing me with this box and it was great fun to get creative!

Would you subscribe to Bakedin?