London

Best healthy brunch spots in London

May 28, 2016

I didn’t eat breakfast regularly for about twenty years. No kidding. Whilst I loved sugary cereals and once ate an impressive nine bowls of Crunchy Nut at a friend’s house (her mum wasn’t impressed), I developed an unhealthy habit of eating too much in the evening and then ‘fasting’ until lunch the next day to make up for it. This lasted through university and into adulthood, and it’s only in the past six months that breakfast has suddenly become my BEST FRIEND. Really. I look forward to it when I wake up and it’s often my favourite meal of the day. Who’d have thought.

Anyway, around the same time I started getting into breakfast in a big way, I also discovered that brunch is one of the most fun things you can do on a weekend when you’ve cut down on booze. In fact, it’s probably the most fun thing you can do when hungover too. I’m now constantly on the lookout for new brunch options that don’t ruin all my hard work in the gym and get my weekend off to a healthy start, so here’s a few of my favourites along with some I’ve yet to try (but look amaaaazing).

Best healthy brunch spots in London

New Street Grill, Liverpool Street
I first visited this place with my mum a few years ago and we spent a long, leisurely afternoon making our way through the wine list in atmospheric settings. I’ve since been back a few times and I’m always impressed. Friendly staff, tasty food, and a nice outdoor terrace to sit al fresco in the summer. Brunch-wise, I’d go for the Honey & yoghurt pot, berry compote, and granola or if you’re feeling hungry the baked cod, white bean, chorizo, baby spinach, and poached egg sounds good.

New Street Grill, 16A, New Street, London EC2M 4TR. Tube: Liverpool Street. Phone: 020 3503 0785
http://www.newstreetgrill.co.uk/menus/restaurant/brunch/

Andina, Shoreditch
Located on Shoreditch High Street, this place serves brunch between 10am and 4pm on weekends and has a really cool vibe. I had a great afternoon here with the girls, and we sat chatting away for hours without feeling rushed. They recommend choosing three plates per person but I was happy with the eggs and avacado on sourdough toast – which left room for a cheeky Pisco Sour. I love the opportunity to try something new, so if you fancy Ceviche and Cau Cau alongside your usual granola, this is a great option. Ooo and they do juices, too.

Andina London, 1 Redchurch Street, Shoreditch, London, E2 7DJ. Tube: Shoreditch High Street. Phone: 020 7920 6499
http://www.andinalondon.com/menus

Dean Street Townhouse, Soho
The all day breakfast selection includes some of my favourites – fruit salad, ham hock hash with fried duck egg, eggs benedict, and smoked salmon with scrambled eggs. Oh, and they have four types of bloody marys’ – technically more vegetable than alcohol so totally allowed – and a bakery in case you fancy a treat.

Dean Street Townhouse, 69 – 71 Dean Street, London, W1D 3SE. Tube: Tottenham Court Road. Phone: 020 7434 1775
http://www.deanstreettownhouse.com/food-and-drink

Granger + Co, Clerkenwell
I haven’t yet made it to Granger + Co (particularly bad since I work round the corner) but the menu looks, quite frankly, incredible. Juices and smoothies, fruits and grains, eggs and sides, a bakery, classics and big plates. I have my eye on the almond milk chia seed pot, mango and coconut yoghurt, as well as the ginger cured prawn and spring onion egg white omelette with spiced salsa rossa. Looking through the list is making me hungry.

Granger + Co, Clerkenwell Green, 50 Sekforde Street, London, EC1R 0HA. Tube: Farringdon. Phone: 020 7251 9032
https://grangerandco.com/clerkenwell

Lima Floral, Covent Garden
Try a weekend brunch with a Peruvian twist at Lima. Served on Saturdays from 10:30am to 2:30pm and Sundays from 10:30am to 3:00pm, give the ‘Andean breakfast’ set menu a go if you fancy trying a few different things! Options include quinoa porridge and bee pollen to start, potato pancakes and spring onions for mains, and dulche de leche or Amazonian chocolate mousse for dessert.

Lima Floral, 14 Garrick Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9BJ. Tube: Covent Garden. Phone: 020 7240 5778
http://www.limalondongroup.com/floral/menus

Fika, Roman Road, Bow
This is a really cute Swedish cafe on Roman Road, serving everyday brunch until 3pm. My favourite post-yoga coffee stop, you can just sit in the window and watch the world go by. Try the eggs on sourdough toast (with sourdough from the E5 bakery!) or the smashed avocado on sourdough toast with chili flakes and tomatoes. The latte is also really nice.

Where’s your favourite brunch spot in London? I have far too many to fit into one post so I’ll keep adding to this list!

Emma x

Life Wellbeing

Nine reasons to workout (that don’t include a bikini body)

March 19, 2016

One of the things I loved the most when I first started working out was the massive rush of endorphins I felt after every session. I was genuinely surprised by the change in my energy levels and the increase in my mood, and this kept me going night after night when I might otherwise have thrown in the towel. After years of losing interest in the gym when I didn’t see instant physical results, this change of mindset has made all the difference when it came to sticking at it – and funnily enough, the physical changes followed as soon as I stopped caring about them so much.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m out to get fit, I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t important. I love watching my body changing. I love seeing hints of muscle in my arms, the feeling of clothes fitting that had been off-limits all year, craving banana and cashew nut smoothies rather than a coke. But more than all of that, and the fundamental difference this time round, I love the way I feel. I feel light. I wake up on the weekend ready to go, my mind is focused. I’m stronger than I’ve ever been, and that’s where the addiction to fitness lies for me.

So if you’re looking for reasons to get back to the gym that don’t include shaping up for summer, I’ve listed a few of my favourites! And if you happen to drop a few pounds whilst you’re there? Well congratulations you multi-tasker, you.

Nine reasons to workout – that don’t include a bikini body

Improve your mental health
I’d bought a SAD lamp last year convinced the dark nights were getting me down. After hours of googling and fretting over why I felt so damn low and tired all the time, I concluded it must be a lack of vitamin D and logged on to lumie.com to order myself some bright white light. I honestly believe Lumie lamps are great, but luckily for me it has sat untouched in the corner of my bedroom since last year.

Exercise is one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health, and regular exercise can have a profoundly positive impact on depression, anxiety, ADHD, and more. Studies show that exercise can treat mild to moderate depression as effectively as antidepressant medication – without the side-effects – and maintaining your regime can prevent relapse. That’s a pretty good reason to work up a sweat if you ask me.

Increase your energy levels
After an eight hour day of tackling client meetings and creative briefs, I’m usually just about ready to drop. I’ve been known to sleep on a weekend until it’s dark and my energy levels never really moved far above ‘awake’. These days I’m home from yoga before 11am on a Saturday morning, and that in itself is quite frankly a miracle. Whilst I can’t attribute this change solely to exercise (cutting out the sharing bag of chocolate on a Friday evening plays its part) I do know that working out regularly will fight fatigue and ward off sluggish feelings. NHS Choices suggests that ‘even a single 15-minute walk can give you an energy boost, and the benefits increase with more frequent physical activity.’

Improve your focus
Swap your early morning caffeine for some pre-work cardio and avoid the lull you get when the effects of the latte wear off. A report from the University of Illinois found that aerobic exercise in particular may improve immediate and long-term functioning of the brain in regions relating to attention. Handy if you have a long presentation to sit through.

Ramp up your sex drive
Ahem. Proven to improve sex drive in both men and women, an intense cardio session can significantly enhance physiological sexual arousal. A good case to schedule a post work trip to the gym, then. Plus the boost in body image and confidence that comes from regularly working out can’t help when it comes to baring all.

Boost your self-esteem
Which leads us on to body image. I can’t stress enough just how effective exercise is in improving our perception of ourselves. Even the simple act of turning up to the gym after a long day shows you’re taking charge of your body and your mind, and that in itself is seriously empowering.

Justify your ever-expanding lycra collection
Just saying.

Get to know your body
It seems strange now, but when I started working out I wasn’t at all aware how much weight I’d put on or how often I was covering up in baggy clothes and hiding from the world. I still looked presentable, if I do say so myself, in oversized COS and Whistles turtle necks, so no alarm bells rang for a long time. When I finally admitted to myself that I was unhappy with my lifestyle and the fact my confidence had fallen off of a cliff, it was a bit of a shock.

These days I feel far more in tune with my body. I’m starting to embrace the bits I can’t change, I recognise when PMS is making an appearance (yes, there is an app for that), and I don’t stress when I put on a pound or two because I know I can lose it again. Going to the gym makes you focus on yourself and on your whole body – how it feels at certain times of the month, how far you can push it in a yoga class – and I love this sudden awareness.

Realise how strong you are
Realising your own strength is a similarly amazing feeling. Lifting a set of weights you never thought you’d get off the ground feels really satisfying, and reminds you your body isn’t just there to look pretty.

General positive vibes
You know the old Instagram saying… ‘I really regretted that workout’ said no one, ever.

What keeps you motivated to exercise? Is it mainly to see a physical change or for the way it makes you feel?

Emma x

Beach Travel

Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay

November 5, 2015
Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay

Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay

Last month I was lucky enough to travel to Morocco with work, alongside some amazing travel bloggers and competition winners from the UK and France. With a weekend of sun, tagines and souk visits ahead of us, we flew out to Agadir and travelled onto Taghazout Bay, a small town on the south-western coast of Morocco.

Within easy reach of Marrakech and a drive along the coast from the resort of Essaouira the area attracts surfers and sun seekers alike, and was the perfect spot to unwind. The weather was incredible whilst we were there, and I genuinely couldn’t believe we were only a 3.5 hour flight away from the grey and miserable London we’d left behind. I can’t stress enough what a novelty it was to drag my shorts and sandals out from the depths of my wardrobe and forget about thick winter tights for a few days. For anyone desperate for a bit of winter sun (as I so often am at this time of year) Morocco is absolutely the place to visit, with temperatures often in the mid 20s into November.

Our hotel for the weekend, the Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay, was beautiful and genuinely one of the most instagrammable places I’ve ever been. Every area was beautifully decorated, from the palms and pillows by the pool to the details in the bedroom or unexpected touches in the lobby areas. Needless to say I took an alarming amount of photos in the time we were there, and I won’t mention how long it took to reduce them down for this post.

The hotel has free wifi (priorities), a gym, sauna, restaurant, free breakfast for all guests and an outdoor cafe and cocktail bar. Each evening we sat out by the pool watching the most incredible sunsets whilst sipping on pina coladas and enjoyed working our way through the menu – the meat tagine was amazing and nice to tick off the list. It may not surprise you to hear we never made it to the gym but it seemed a good size and well equipped, although you could make like our more active travel companions and head off into the mountains for a hike in the sunshine instead.

From a warm welcome and Moroccan tea on arrival to arranging poolside BBQs and tips on the local area, every single member of staff went out of their way to accommodate and make the trip special. I got the sense that everyone was genuinely happy to be there and happy to help – which doesn’t come across in every hotel you visit – and I had some lovely conversations with members of the team who told me how much they loved working in such a beautiful place.

Looking at these photos on a cold and rainy December evening I literally cannot wait to go back and explore more of Morocco next year. I’ve always wanted to visit Marrakech so would love to combine a city break there followed by a few days relaxing by the sea here in Taghazout Bay. I couldn’t fit all of my many (many) photos into this post so will post again with an update on the excursions the hotel can arrange in the area, including a trip to the local souk in Agadir and an amazing trip through the mountains on quad bikes!

You can see reviews from some of the other guests here:
The lovely Solli from Solli’s Lifestyle gives her take on the trip here
Anna Cossack took some beautiful pictures for her blog here
See how Emilie from Lovaine.co.uk took advantage of the great surfing in the area here

Emma x

We stayed at the Hyatt Place Taghazout Bay on a comp basis so another massive thank you to the team for having us and making our stay so special. All opinions expressed are an honest review of the hotel and entirely my own.

Style Travel

Travel inspiration with Meriko London

November 2, 2015
Meriko London

Meriko London was founded by jewellery designer Meri Hovsepyan in 2013. Originally from Armenia, Meri’s work is inspired by her travels and her love of nature, with each collection named after destinations that reflect her pieces. I caught up with Meri to talk travel inspiration, jewellery design and business advice – and left with a serious case of wanderlust!

You left Armenia when you were 13 years old. What are your fondest memories of being there?
My fondest memories are the people. Armenians are so warm and hospitable; even if you go to the home of someone with little money they will lay a table for you with the last of their food! In general, my childhood spent in Armenia was special. I was there until I was 13 and I always look back at my memories of playing with my friends in kindergarten and school with fondest memories and nostalgia.

What recommendations would you have for anyone looking to travel to Armenia? What about the area do you love the most? 
Armenia is known as an ‘open air museum’. There is so much to see, including many historical monuments and churches. Armenia adopted Christianity formally in 301 so you are never short of an ancient church or ten to see each day – they really are works of art.

My favourite place is Lake Sevan, about one and a half hour’s drive from the capital Yerevan. The colour of the lake is just stunning; it’s light turquoise in colour and later on became the inspiration for my jewellery designs. I remember as a child every time going there with my family, and how as soon as I could see the lake my heart would beat so fast from the excitement.

You’ve lived in a lot of places over the years – from Armenia and Moscow to London and Spain! Which place has had the most influence on who you are today?
It’s hard to choose between London and Spain. You can’t beat the thrill and fast paced excitement of life in London; the energy and pulse of life there never leaves you. London has it all – from history and culture, to the latest in art and design… it’s a jewellery designer’s dream as inspiration is on every street corner. As for Spain, or at least the South of Spain where we have a home and I spend a lot of time, that’s the very opposite and it truly nourishes my soul. Where London wakes me up, Spain chills me out. From my bedroom window I can see mountains on one side and the sparkling Med on the other. I can take my son to the old town in the morning, the beach in the afternoon and in the evening go to the huge array of fiestas and parties that seem to go on every night in the summer. I wake up each morning smiling because the sun is always shining and the air is always clear.

You’ve mentioned that travel and nature are your biggest inspirations. What impact have these had on the pieces you produce for Meriko London and which destination has been your greatest inspiration to date?
Other than Spain, which as you can tell brought me closer to nature and inspired my Gold Coast collection, I would say that California holds a special place in my heart too. It’s such a visually beautiful place… in fact it is quite Mediterranean in places. The surrounding areas of LA such as Orange County (Laguna Beach, Long Beach) and Santa Barbara are so, so pretty.

Where in the world would you love to travel to next and why?
I love all things Latin and I am dying to go to Cuba and Mexico. I love colour! And these places seem to be teeming with it. I love countries where the people are warm and the weather even warmer; where the food is delicious and art and culture is all around you. I can’t wait to get to Salsa and Samba in the streets of Cuba one day, and hopefully come away with some inspiration for a new collection.

At what point did you know you wanted to be a jewellery designer?
I can’t remember wanting to be anything else! As a small child I could watch my father make fine jewellery all day. Precious stones and gems were like toys to me, instead of learning colours out of a book I was introduced to the colour blue by being taught the difference between turquoise, lapis and aquamarine stones.  I specifically got my degree in Art History to understand the evolution of design, and then went on to study accountancy and business… the perfect stepping stones toward my vocational nirvana. Which is where I am now.

What advice would you give someone looking to start their own business?
Do your research, because it takes a lot of investment – both time and money, so you need to know exactly the direction you are going in. Know your competitors as well as you know yourself, and get to grips with the changing face of technology and social media, because without it no one will know who you are. It’s also important to surround yourself with the right team – you don’t know everything, so make sure you work with people that are knowledgeable, trustworthy and as passionate about your brand as you are. It’s not easy, and even when it looks like it’s all for nothing keep soldiering on as you never know if your big break will be tomorrow.

And for someone who’d love to work in jewellery design?

Remember, everyone out there is already bigger and more successful than you… so make sure you really have a passion for what you do or it will show in your work. Stay on top of the game – be creative, innovative and unique in everything you do. I truly believe that when you love your work, never give up and stay hopeful…good things happen. Well I hope they will!

Your top tip for travel:
Insider knowledge. I believe you won’t ever truly experience a place if you don’t live it like a local. So immerse yourself in the culture, language, food and customs. Make friends with local people who will show you the unseen parts of where you are. That’s when you go from being a tourist to being a true adventurer.

Meri’s newest collection, Colorado Escape, is now available online at www.merikolondon.com and through stockists in London, Madrid, Malaga and New York.

London

The House of Peroni | Vita all’Interno

October 10, 2015

The House of Peroni returns to Brick Lane this month with the brand’s latest residency, this autumn entitled ‘Vita all’Interno’ and open to explore throughout November. As something of a super-fan (I’ve made it to every residency so far, it’s becoming tradition) I’m looking forward to experiencing the ‘most immersive and multi-sensory residency to date’ and, of course, the cocktails.

The month-long event aims to bring the heart of the Italian home to London, welcoming guests to explore Michelin-starred food and Peroni Nastro Azzurro infused cocktails in surroundings inspired by the Italian home.

From ‘passionate nonna’s’ running the home to a never ending dining table, a laundry room inspired by Italian couture, and keys which open the doors to experiences hidden with the event, I’m intrigued to see what’s in store!

Look out for a few sneak peaks from tomorrow’s launch on instagram @acidbrights – close ups of cocktails likely.

The House of Peroni takes up residence at 
152 Brick Lane, London, E1 6RU 
from 29th October, closing 25th November. Free entry, 18+ only. For more information about The House of Peroni visit: www.thehouseofperoni.com You can read my reviews of the previous residencies here, and see what happened at the launch of the original House of Peroni in July 2013 here.