Saturday, 19 August 2017

New hair yay!

I'm going to sound like a stupid Dove or Special K or Activia advert right now, but it's so true that when you feel confident about how you look, you have a brighter outlook on life and feel better about everything you do.

And there are few things I love more than getting my hair done to boost my mood - whenever I leave the hairdresser, be that after just a blow-dry or a cut and colour, I sassy walk home, unable to resist checking myself out in every window I pass (and trying not to sniff my hair too much in public because that would be weird.)

Last week, I paid a visit to a Headmasters salon for the first time. There are tons of salons and I'd heard such good things from my friends, but had yet to get around to visiting. I'm one of those awful people who waits till her hair is super straggly and horrid before actually sorting it out, but hey. Life is expensive.
One of the best things about Headmasters, however, is they regularly have offers on such as 50 per cent off colour which, let's be real, makes a huuuuuge difference.

Getting your hair done is pricey. But I love it SO much.

I love the whole experience of a visit to the salon. I love having my hair played with, I love being pampered, and I love the excitement of a transformation.

My hair was long overdue a cut (cheers to my sister and her brutal honesty for pointing this out), but I decided I wanted a little more of a change so decided to go for a balayage.

I wanted to be blonder, but still look natural. It needed to be noticeable, but subtle. I'm a picky customer.

But folks, I was so so pleased with the outcome. The wonderful Clare Hollywood from Headmasters worked her magic and I am so so chuffed. I feel like a new woman! Well, the same woman but with better hair, perhaps. (Apols none of these pics are great cos they're nighttime selfies but what can ya do?)
The great thing about colouring your hair with an ombre balayage is that it's so low-maintenance and it continues to look good no matter how much longer your hair grows.

And I'm excited to be a little blonder. Change is good, after all.

The dreamy waves, however, were sadly not a permanent affair. I am either cursed or blessed (I can't make my mind up) with deadly straight hair. Whilst it is indeed easy to manoeuvre and very low-maintenance, it's also just a bit meh. A bit flat. A bit boring.

Sure, I could curl it, which I do occasionally, but I'm too lazy to do it often.

So I've decided just to embrace the straightness. And this is where my new fave hair styling product comes in...

The kind people at Revlon generously sent me their new Pro Collection Salon One Step Hair Dryer and Styler to play with. Yeah, it's quite the name. Essentially it's a hair brush and hair dryer in one. So yeah, a gadget you never knew you needed.
But I'm a big fan - it leaves my hair super sleek and got rid of any sneaky kinks.

The brush is very easy to use - you simply plug it in, choose the power setting (dependent on the thickness of you hair) and gently brush your hair, miraculously drying and smoothing it at the same time. No frizz allowed.

You want to use it on towel-dried hair (otherwise you may be there all day), but it's more efficient than I was expecting, taking probably just a smidge longer than a normal hair dryer.
I also like the styler because you can use it with your head at any angle and don't really need a mirror either.

It's not too loud, which is always good, but it is quite big so not the most portable of stylers.

The first time I used the styler I was concerned it would leave me with really dried out ends, but that wasn't the case at all.

So now I can go around with sassy hair and check myself out in every window again. (I need to stop this.)
Also how adorable is this ballerina necklace? I've received tons of compliments on it so just wanted to let y'all know it's from Ted Baker. So cute, right?

I love the rose gold and as a gal who did ballet for 20 years, it will always have a special place in my heart.

Aaaaand this concludes the blog post of probably the most selfies ever. Were I a Serious Blogger I'd have got someone to take a million pictures of me on a fancy camera, probably outside houses in Notting Hill. But I'm not. Sincere apologies.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Wine and pizza girls' night in to celebrate Friendship Day

Whether you're someone who has a huge circle or a select few, life would be horrid without friends.

Who would you send ugly snapchat selfies with a million chins to? Who would commandeer your phone on a night out to stop you sending messages you'd later regret? And would would get sloshed with you on your birthday but not quite as sloshed as you to make sure they could always look after you?

Obsessed with birthdays as I am, I forced kindly asked my closest pals to put the Saturday night of my September birthday in their diary back in April.

When I started actually organising birthday things a few weeks ago, the girls told me they'd had the whole weekend booked out for my birthday months ago without me even asking. I was so touched. Bit emosh really.

That's the lovely thing about friendship: you'll do anything for the people you care about, especially if you know it's important to them.

Urgh so soppy.

But this was something we celebrated last weekend, which was, in case you didn't know, international friendship day.

With my oldest best friend, flatmate and sister - so arguably friends from all different areas of my life - we settled in for an evening on the sofa.

To be honest, that's quite a rarity for me. As someone who loves going out for food, drinks and dancing - and living in London where there are endless exciting options - I don't often have a night in.

But that's exactly why I enjoy a rare one so much.

I feel like you know you're with top pals when you plan on watching a film and doing face masks but don't ever get round to either because you can't stop chatting.

We ordered a deliveroo and of course, cracked open the wine (which let's be honest always helps keep the conversation and lols flowing).
And considering how long it took for our pizza to arrive - note to self, never order deliveroo at 7pm on a Saturday night - it was most fortunate that we had plenty of wine, courtesy of the kind people at I Heart Wines.

We started with the rosé because summer and girls and basic.
Hand modelling and pouring by the beautiful and expert pourer, Jessie.

It looked quite heavy but was actually light, mediumly (not a word but go with it) fruity and totally delicious.

And then our pizzas arrived, praise the lord.
Guys, Franco Manca is life. It was so bloody worth the wait.

The original sourdough pizza company, which started out right on my doorstep in Brixton, if you've never been to Franco Manca you need to remedy that asap.
The pizza bases are so soft, chewy and doughy but not greasy like, ahem, a certain popular pizza takeaway company.

It's pizza, but tastes high quality.

What's more, it's such good value. A margherita is just £6.40, pals, and who can argue with that?

Having been eating nibbles for about two hours while waiting for our pizzas, we weren't actually that hungry. But did we still finish them? You betcha. Because a) they were that delicious, and b) who gives any f***s about your figure after a bottle of wine? Quite.

We cracked open the Sauvignon Blanc next which I knew I was going to love because it's my fave wine.

It was crisp and oh so drinkable. (Apologies but by this point I was past taking pictures. You've all seen white wine before.)

And because no meal is complete unless it ends on something sweet™, we proceeded to demolish a bar of chocolate between three of us.

And I mean a giant, sharing bar. After pizza.

If you're judging us for this, you've clearly never tried Dairy Milk peanut caramel crisp.

Yeah, you try not eating it all. It is so damn good.

We had originally entertained the idea of going out out after our dinner and draaaanks. But you will perhaps be unsurprised to hear that in our very full, tiddly states, we ended up getting no further than our beds. In my case, face-planting and starfishing (man I love being single).

In bed by midnight on a Saturday? A revelation. I think it could catch on.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Percy Pig's Official 25th Birthday Party

I never buy sweets. I eat them when they're offered to me, sure. But I prefer chocolate on the whole so don't tend to buy sweets for myself.

Well, there is one exception to the rule. And that is Percy Pigs.

The pig is a legend. Due to some clever marketing on the part of M&S and the sheer deliciousness of the sweets, Percy Pigs have become iconic.

All Brits know Percy. And I've never met anyone who can resist him. The seductive little fella.

My siblings and I loved him when we were little, my colleagues and I love him now. My friends have always loved him.

Imagine my excitement then, when I learned Percy was this year turning 25, just two months before I was set to hit the milestone myself.

And that excitement went up another notch when I received an invitation to Percy's birthday party. His official 25th birthday party! What an honour.

Let me tell you, it was a lot fancier a soirée than my birthday party will be (not through lack of my trying - there's only so much you can do with a tiny London flat and a journalist's salary.)

Along with a select group of lucky journalists and bloggers, I entered on a hot pink carpet and was greeted with a choice of a Percy on the Beach or some rosé sparkling wine.
How could I choose? Obvs I had both.

Here's the recipe for the Percy on the Beach, should you want to taste the deliciousness yourself:

The room was insanely beautiful. It was so pink and essentially what my dreams consist of.
The most gorgeous bunches of pink roses and peonies atop every surface (my dream flower combo), cute retro glass jars of every different type of Percy for us to pick n mix, and huge pink pom-poms adorning the room.
And of course, I was most excited to meet the guest of honour.
Although you might think I wore pink trousers especially for the occasion, the fact of the matter is that on any given day there is a 90% chance I will be wearing pink. Safe to say I felt very at home.

We mingled, sipped drinks, scoffed canapés and discussed our favourite Percies - mine, should you care to know, are veggie Percies (I prefer the texture, they're more squidgy).

And then it was time to sit down for dinner.
The chefs said they'd tried to put the essence of Percy every course, and each dish was inspired by a different top chef too.

The starter was plated up in a retro way - it was wild seabass with citrus nage and turned courgettes, inspired by Marco Pierre White.
The mandarin definitely conjured up Percy vibes and it went down a treat with the lovely sauvignon we drank.
The main was amazing: Heston inspired ricotta tortellini with summer vegetables, greenhouse pesto, potato and a confit garlic foam.
It was accompanied by orange wine too which I loved.

Pudding was, as you might imagine, sensational.
Citrus compressed grapes with yogurt sorbet, meringue and rosemary oil, inspired by René Redzepi. It was very sweet and did taste like Percy, but it was herby at the same time which was unexpected.

Oh, and the Asti we drank alongside the pudding was so delicious. I'd forgotten how much I love Asti. I'm so basic. But who says bubbles are just for the start of the night? Asti with pudding is going to be my new thing.

And just because we hadn't had quite enough sugar, we finished the meal with mandarin sherbet dib-dab...
And blackcurrant and Parmesan marshmallows.
Yes, really. Not going to lie, it was a bit weird and confusing. But hey, you win some, you lose some.

It had been a wonderful evening and I feel very privileged to be able to celebrate Percy hitting the big 2-5.
Here's to Colin the Caterpillar's 21st next year!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Baths, bars and breathtaking beauty in Budapest for the weekend

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Budapest. 

On a flight that was at least half hen-dos - Friday flights from Gatwick at this time of the year are always hen and stag central RIP me - we whizzed on over to Hungary, and it was my first visit to the country so I was mad excited.

Over the course of the weekend, we explored as much as we could, and guys, Budapest is beaut.
We tried to eat as much local cuisine as poss too - feast your eyes on this chicken paprikash, which was entirely delumptious.
Most people know Budapest is famous for its natural baths, but rather than go to the arguably prettier but more touristy central ones, my pals and I decided to venture out to Margaret Island - this gorgeously green island in the middle of the river - and try out the baths there.
The water was the most delightful warm temperature, but not so hot that it didn't cool you down which was great because BOY OH BOY was it a toasty weekend.
Oh, and in Budapest you can get wine spritzers in plastic bottles and we were all over that.

If you didn't know, Budapest is actually split into Buda and Pest, which are separated by the river.
Amongst all the historic buildings, there are a lot of ruins and run-down areas, but Budapest seems to make it work somehow.

You probably know about the ruin bars as they're pretty famous - we tried going to the best-known one but when we rocked up at about midnight there was a queue down the street that seemed to be made up of solely Brits, so we decided to skip it and find somewhere we thought a touch more authentic round the corner, if less famous.

Fun nightlife, has Budapest.
A post shared by Rachel Hosie (@rachel_hosie) on
And we were lucky with the weather in the daytime too.
I found that the different areas of the city had completely different feels.

The spot below, by the opera house on a beautiful big, wide, tree-lined street full of designer shops, reminded me of Paris.
And then across the river in Buda, we found this beautiful area that felt more like Prague with a touch of Bavaria.
I suppose I haven't really told you the main reason I was in Budapest in the first place, and it was both random and awesome.

The Red Bull Air Race was taking place in the city over the weekend, and I was there to interview Ben Murphy, former Red Arrows leader and current aerobatic pilot.

The race is insane and amazing - in the tiniest of planes, the pilots zoom down the river, slaloming through bollards and looping all over the shop.

Most excitingly for me, I got to fly with Ben - a proper G-flight with loop-the-loops and flying upside-down and everything!
You can see a little taster of what it was like in the video below...

Man, I bloody loved it. It reminded me that I am at heart a bit of an adrenaline junkie, and I've decided I need to make the things I've always wanted to do happen. Like sky-diving. The question is... where?

Monday, 26 June 2017

Sugar-free afternoon tea at Harvey Nichols

I know what you're thinking: sugar-free afternoon tea?

Afternoon tea, that most sweet of treats? Sans sugar?

Well, yes. Sans refined sugar, anyway.

Created by Sarah Wilson of I Quit Sugar, the sugar-free afternoon tea has just launched at Harvey Nicks. And I went along to try it out.

Sugar is public enemy number one these days, and whilst I doubt I'll ever totally quit it (because hello, sugar makes things delicious), I am trying to cut down a wee bit.

And whilst naturally sweet things - you know, fruit and honey and maple syrup and whatnot - are supposedly better than refined sugar, the general consensus seems to be that they're not saintly enough to give you a free pass to scoff loads.

Still, you can make a lot of delicious things without refined sugar, so I was most looking forward to trying out the tea. It had also been far too long since I'd had afternoon tea too.

The lovely Jenny and I made our way up to the fifth floor of Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge and sat ourself down in the restaurant, tummies rumbling.
There was a little wait for our food to arrive, but fortunately we had pots of tea and champagne in the meantime so all was well in the world really.
Champagne isn't technically part of the sugar-free tea, but let's be real here: what is afternoon tea without it? (OK yes, also good. But not as good.)

I chose pink champagne because I was wearing pink which says a lot about how I make decisions in my life.

And then came out the masterpiece.
Obviously we worked from the bottom up, we're not savages.
So, the savouries: Carrot tahini burgers, which we loved; paleo veggie bread with cream cheese and cucumber - I liked the ribbon, it was a nice twist on a classic; sardine boats (no comment as je ne mange pas fish); spring vegetable pie - warm and delicious; pork and fennel sausage roll, a definite winner; and beef sandwiches, with tasty coleslaw.

It was a LOT of food, but it was great. Very creative and nice to feel a bit healthier than the standard finger sandwiches.

Whilst the sugar-free angle was pretty irrelevant with the savouries, the next level up was where it got interesting.
The strawberry scones were good. They were served with raspberry chia seed jam which was pretty tart - noticeably less sweet than real jam - and a touch lemony for my taste. There was also no cream which was a shame.

Next up was carrot cake with cinnamon frosting. They looked super cute and the flavours were great, but the texture of the cake was not good, I have to say. It was so dry and crumbly it was practically powdery, I'm not sure why. The cream cheese frosting was divine though.

On to the top tier.
The lemon posset topped with a chia seed crumble was lovely - very creamy and a particular hit with Jen. It wasn't noticeably less sweet than a regular one either.

I absolutely loved the cheesecake - it was classic vanilla with a coconut base and utterly delicious. Very sweet too.

The chocolate cherry tart was a bit meh. The base was a bit dry and bitter and the cream was fine but not super exciting. The cherries were delicious and juicy though, which was lovely. And to be fair, we were pretty gosh darn full by this point so the tart may have gone down more favourably before we'd filled our faces.

That said, we saved the best till last by finishing on the chocolate ganache tart. Rich, smooth chocolate with a hint of cardamom on a nutty base with a sprinkle of sea salt - I was so full but it was so good I ate the whole thing.

So all in all it was a slightly mixed afternoon tea, with some real winners and some not so much. To be honest though, I love the concept of a lighter, sugar-free afternoon tea. And if you are watching your sugar intake, it's a rather nice treat.

Jenny and I were guests at Harvey Nichols but all opinions are honest.
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