Champagne and Sun Spa Break at Ardencote Manor Country Club.

Looking for a romantic getaway but not wanting to stray too far my partner and I were keen to escape London for some quality time together over the bank holiday and as he’s a jacuzzi virgin (I know… I know) I thought a spa break would be the perfect answer. Being a bit of a Wahanda whore I did a quick search for ‘one night spa breaks’ and was promptly presented with a plethora of gorgeous hotels in the UK. After a delightful afternoon of scrolling through them all we finally settled on Ardencote Manor, a country club, hotel and spa just outside of Warwick and their fabulous Champagne and Sun Spa Break (no longer available, sorry!) for £99 each which included, dinner, breakfast the next morning, full use of all the spa facilities, a room for the night AND a champagne wrap treatment.

‘The Ardencote Spa has 40 beautifully apportioned bedrooms, based on a Courtyard design surrounding the opulent Outdoor Heated Swimming Pool. The extensive Spa and Leisure facilities are central to the Ardencote’s philosophy of Exercise and Relaxation, combining to produce a feeling of Health and Vitality. The landscaped grounds have been specifically designed to enhance this ambience, with manicured beds of Lavender at the heart of the design. The Restaurant offers a fine dining experience with menus complementing your Spa experience’.

ardencote spa pool

The spa – The spa is clean, welcoming and unpretentious with more than enough beds for guests to relax around the pool between treatments or for a little snooze. Comprising of the following we were spoilt for choice of what to try next –

  • Relaxation lounge inclusive of free-flow refreshments
  • Indoor heated swimming pool and loungers
  • Sauna
  • Jacuzzi
  • Steam room
  • Outdoor heated swimming pool
  • Outdoor hot tub
  • 2 Gymnasiums – cardiovascular and weights/exercise
  • 3 All-weather tennis courts
  • 3 Glass-backed squash courts
  • 9 Hole golf course

The food – The food! OMG the food! I cannot rate the quality of the food highly enough, everything on the menu sounded absolutely delicious and we were truly spoilt for choice. We had all of our meals in the lavish Brasserie restaurant which overlooks the immaculate manicured grounds and lawns, providing the perfect setting for a romantic meal. The staff are warm and welcoming without being overbearing and we felt truly spoilt being able to swan in for lunch in our robes fresh from the spa. With our deal lunch wasn’t included but there is a selection of light bites and sandwiches for under £10 will will set you up for an afternoon of hardcore jacuzzi action! I had a chicken tikka sandwich and my partner had the steak sandwich, both were well presentable and tasted great with outstanding service. Alcohol is a little expensive, the cheapest bottle of sparkling wine at £22.50 (I’m used to Wetherspoon prices LOL) but not that bad considering the standard of the place.

Dinner was where we were truly spoilt, even though I read in a few reviews the food is 5 star fancy I wasn’t expecting such an elaborate fare but being a ‘voucher customer’ I was slightly worried we would have a set menu that would be pretty basic forcing us to spend more on sides etc. but we were presented with a mouthwatering 3 course menu that has been carefully selected by 2 Rosette award winning Chef, Ian Buckle. Everything on the menu sounded amazing, after spending a good while deciding what to have to start I finally settled on the smoked salmon and my partner went for the asparagus. Beautiful presentation and an ever better taste, my smoked salmon was fresh and mouthwatering, set against a backdrop of crisp salad that burst with flavour in every bite. The asparagus was well seasoned, crunchy and again very fresh.

Everything Ian uses is sourced wherever possible from local farms and traders which is really apparent in the quality of ingredients and it feels good to know Ardencote are supporting local British farmers. We had a really hard time deciding on what to have for our mains as again everything sounded so good but I eventually settled on the lamb and my partner had the chicken. My lamb was incredible and fell apart as you lightly pressed your fork into it, finished with the greens and spring onion I also ordered a side of chips as our waiter informed us there are no carbs with this dish and they completed it perfectly. My partner went for the chicken and was equally impressed with the freshness, presentation and myriad of flavours that pretty much sealed the deal for a return visit. Dessert came in the form of a rhubarb and clotted cream crème brûlée for me and chocolate pannacotta and cake for the mister… Oh em gee. Perfection on a plate. I’m just going to let the picture do the talking for our desserts but let’s just say everything was superb and the £99 we paid is worth it for the food alone and next time I’m taking Ian home with me in my holdall.

The treatment – Included in our package was a ‘champagne wrap’ which is not something I would have chosen and there wasn’t any details on the site but it sounded pleasant enough and I assumed as we booked in as a couple we would be in the same room which would have been quite nice. Seated in the upstairs lounge where all the treatments were carried out we were unfortunately led to different rooms but alas as it was a bonus I didn’t mind too much. My therapist was lovely and made me feel at total ease, the room was clean, at a perfect temperate and smelt gorgeous which are small touches that can really make a treatment luxurious. She gave me a basic rundown of what to expect and I was told to strip off to my pants, let my hair loose and lay on the bed whilst she left the room for me to undress and get comfortable. Soft, tinkering music played in the background as the treatment started with a dry body brushing to my whole back and then a scrub was applied which she massaged all over in long, sweeping strokes. The scrub was removed with a warm damp cloth and then something with a creamy texture was applied (bare in mind I had my head through a hole in the massage table so couldn’t really see what was going on) and massaged lightly over my back to which what felt like light towels were applied on top and pressed gently in place. As the wrap was left to work its magic I was treated to a soothing head massage which was most welcome after having my hair up in a tight bun all day. Just as I was starting to drift off the wrap was taken off my back and my therapist gave me a short back massage with the remaining solution and before I knew it the treatment was done. I felt it was a bit short but this could have been because I was enjoying it so much! My partner didn’t enjoy his as much as his therapist spoke to him the whole time (not very relaxing…)  his head massage was fairly weak and he didn’t get a back massage at the end. Hmmm.

The hotel – Set in 83 acres of of landscaped grounds the four star hotel is set close to the historic town of Warwick and overlooks the the stunning Warwickshire countryside. Either double or twin, the standard rooms are far from ordinary. All rooms have magnificent views of either rolling countryside, the golf course or the lake, depending on their location. All bedrooms have crisp cotton sheets, en-suite bathrooms, large televisions, free internet connection and are decorated and furnished to the highest standards in-keeping with the hotel’s 4 star rating.

We had a standard room in the Courtyard complex (just off the spa) which included the following –

  • 28″ LCD Television
  • Telephone
  • Hairdryer
  • Tea and coffee making facilities
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Air conditioning
  • Free WI-FI internet access
  • En-suite bathroom
  • Twin or double bed
  • Catering for one or two adults

Our room was a 2 minute stroll from the spa, clean, comfortable and complete with spa goodies in the bathroom. As you can imagine we didn’t spend much time in the room other than to sleep but it was perfect for what we needed it for and had a ready supply of towels, bedding and a hot shower. Even though we were situated across from the lift down a somewhat busy corridor we didn’t find it to be that noisy and the bed was lovely to sleep on after a lazy day of being pampered.

We enjoyed our stay so much we’ve already looked into going back again, unfortunately the deal we had is no longer available any more BUT you can book the ‘S Factor Spa Break’ which includes a bottle of bubbly on arrival (woo!) lunch with a glass of wine, dinner, breakfast the next day, full use of the spa, a room for the night AND a back massage all for just £135 which I think is fantastic value for money. Just to give you an idea of travel time, it took us around 1.5 hours from SW London by car, there is a train station near but it’s quite a walk and the grounds leading up to the hotel are quite vast.

Other one night spa break deals at Ardencote can be found at Wahanda.

10 essential steps for getting over him

Break ups are never easy, even if you were the one doing the breaking up it’s hard to let go of that ‘I don’t want him but I don’t want anyone else to have him’ mindset that our scatty female brains switch into and with the whole world and it’s mum on social networking sites it feels like you and your shitty love life are firmly in the spotlight when it all goes tits up. If you and your ex-beau were ‘Facebook official’ there’s an option to switch back to ‘single’ without it appearing on your newsfeed for the whole world to see which will keep the creeps and bitches at bay. A key part of the healing process is privacy, those who genuinely give a shit will know what you’re going through and be there to offer support, that weird guy from the gym or Sandra from accounts doesn’t need to know you’ve just had your heart ripped out of your chest and are a bit of a wreck. Broken hearts don’t mend easily, but I’ve been there, done that and got the restraining order (I joke, I joke) but these steps will help you back to your awesome self in no time.

dawson crying

1 – Take him off the pedestal you put him on. This was one of the most memorable pieces of advice I was given after breaking up with my last boyfriend who I thought was the most amazing thing ever to grace this earth. 2 years down the line I can see he’s just your average dude but back then I thought the sun shone straight out of his butthole and I thought I would never meet anyone else that could compare to him. I did. Eventually. This is quite a hard thing to put into practice and the only thing that helps is time (and meeting other dudes who have awesome attributes).

2 – Don’t stalk him on social media. If the break up was bad you’ve probably blocked each other anyone but one of the worst things you can do is follow his every move through his internet persona, which we all know is bullshit. The internet you is completely different from the real you, he’s no different but in your mind all you’ll see is him having the time of his life whilst you’re weeping into your spinach smoothie like a big, fat, hairy loser. Men seem to be better at moving on than us women, and seeing him out partying with his arms around another woman will be like having your heart wrenched out and broken up into a thousand tiny pieces. Again. Also, don’t write any ‘woe is me’ status updates or post sad quote pictures – no one cares and you’ll just look like a bellend.

3 – Cry. Cry like a motherfucker. Don’t be ashamed of calling in on a friend just to get everything off your chest and have a good cry, they’ll be glad they can be there for you and it’s fun listening to someone else slag him off and point out just how much of a prick he is. A good cry can be cleansing for the mind and I’m a firm believer in that most problems don’t feel so bad after a good cry and an early night, everything always seems better in the morning with a clear head.

4 – Change something about your appearance. A new haircut, style of makeup, pedicure or piercing can be a really good pick me up when you’re feeling low and will make you feel a hell of a lot better about yourself and try to keep on top of essential grooming such as shaving your legs and shaping your brows. Try and be pretty every day, like a 2.0 version of yourself because not only will it make you feel better, you’ll be showing the world you’re not falling apart and you never know just who you might bump into…

5 – Hit the gym and enrol in a few classes you haven’t tried before. Kick some ass in the boxing ring or give your deadbeat vagina a new lease of life in a spin class. You’ll meet new people, learn new skills and tone up bits of your body that haven’t had a look in before. It won’t be long before you have to get naked in front of someone that hasn’t seen your gunt yet and you want it looking its best, don’t you?

6 – Say yes to every social invite even though every fibre of your being is telling the whole world to fuck off so you can hide under your duvet. Even if it’s not something you’re really that interested in, just go because moping around at home won’t do you any good. Being burnt out from doing too much is much better than being burnt out from sitting at home crying into one of your dimly lit meals for one.

7 – Do something that scares you. A break up can cause a sort of emotionally numb feeling which can make you fearless and carefree and it’s now you need to use this new found love of giving zero fucks to do something you’ve always wanted, but been too scared to. Always wanted to ride a motorbike, do a Tough Mudder run or jump out of a plane? Now’s the time because after all, what doesn’t challenge you doesn’t change you. A new challenge will also give you something to focus on, talk about and you’ll probably meet a whole bunch of awesome new people. You strong woman you.

8 – Throw out everything that reminds you of him, or if there are some things you can’t bear to part with or you know you’ll regret parting with later on, stick them up in the loft or store them at a friends house. Out of sight out of mind. If you are in possession of anything that’s his, arrange something with a mutual friend to get it all back to him ASAP and however tempting is would be to destroy his belongings… Don’t.

9 – Unless you really have to, avoid contact with him. Whilst you’re hurting, the last thing you need is the ‘let’s be friends’ bullshit which might be something you can explore down the line (if you have mutual friends, for example) but right now you don’t need to know how he is or how his day has been.

10 – Go on holiday. Travel is the only thing that you can spend money on that will make you richer and a trip to a faraway land is the closest thing you’ll get to a break from life when your world has been turned upside down. You’ll meet new, amazing people, discover places you didn’t know existed and find something in yourself you didn’t know was there.

Keep calm, carry on and keep it off Facebook.

 

Something a bit different… Dinner at Bonnington Cafe.

Going out for dinner is one of my most favourite ways to catch up with friends or have a ‘date night’ with my partner, I love cooking and I get a lot of my inspiration from meals I’ve had in restaurants mixed with my own imagination and a dash of my main man Jamie Oliver. I love trying to new things and have quite an open palate when it comes to new cuisine but having recently looked a bit deeper into nutrition I wanted to branch more into non-meat dishes as too much red meat really isn’t good for you. By coincidence, BBC ran a really interesting documentary ‘Should I Eat Meat? – The Big Health Dilemma’ which gave an insight into what meat does inside our bodies and the damage it can cause when eaten in excess. There’s also a short write up here if you don’t have access to the BBC iPlayer.

I was a keen vegetarian for almost 2 years so I’m no stranger to just how tasty and fulfilling a non-meat diet can be, my reasons back then were purely ethical (the meat industry is hideous – but that’s a another story entirely) but I fell ‘off the wagon’ when I became heavily involved in kick boxing and needed more protein which was easily sourced from meat. Anyway, whilst searching online for somewhere new (and cheap!) to eat I came across the Bonnington Cafe, a BYOB vegetarian restaurant conveniently located a 2 minute walk from Vauxhall station.

I LOVE the concept of a different cook every night, to me this means having someone who loves and is passionate about food and is doing so for the love of it as looking at the prices I can’t imagine it being much of a money spinner. A good veggie/vegan cook knows how to make the blandest food in the world (tofu – urgh! It’s like little lumps of what you imagine chlamydia to look like) not only edible but delicious. Booking a table is a simple process, there’s a spreadsheet on the website of what cook is on each night and you simply send the cook a text on your chosen night with your name and the time you would like to chow down.

10622033_854945701185072_2795576_n

Our cook on the night was Marie, who was a friendly middle aged woman who had that familiar warmth to her, like a favourite school dinner lady who gave you extra chips. My name was scrawled on a piece of paper (spelt incorrectly but meh) and we were seated with little fuss. I love unlicensed restaurants as I find alcohol really bumps up the bill, being able to bring a £5.25 bottle of Sainsbury’s Cava made the tight bastard in me very happy indeed! The restaurant itself is nestled in a little residential square, away from the usual Vauxhall riff raff from the outside it looks like you could be in a little village somewhere in the country and the interior is just as offbeat and welcoming.

Each cook will freshly prepare 2 starters and 2 main courses, with vegan options all at a very reasonable fixed price – starters £3, mains £7 and desserts are £3. Unfortunately, here is where the excitement ended as I found all 3 courses to be bland, unexciting and really not restaurant quality (although Bonnington Cafe is not trying to be anything special I was expecting decent food). On the day we visited the menu consisted of a choice of hummus and carrots or carrot, parsnip and orange soup, vegetarian tagine or vegetable curry and for dessert there was a chocolate cake or apple pie. Quite a simple selection, but cooked right could be packed full of flavour with the added bonus of being all home cooked, healthy and meat free.

We both went for the carrot, parsnip and orange soup to start which was bland and watery, we found it hard to detect the orange and as we dismissed it as being OK for £3 I thought to myself I could make something much more creative and flavourful at home on the same budget. If I’m really going to nit pick the portion sizes were really quite small, those with a larger appetite wouldn’t be satisfied with the serving size but as it wasn’t that great we were cool with the amount we had. With little flavour and served with a shop bought slither of French stick the soup was a bit of a let down and didn’t give us high hopes for our main course.

Again, we both went for the tagine (I had something spicy for lunch and my partner isn’t keen on any kind of heat) which was presented well but again lacked flavour and it was hard to distinguish just exactly what the vegetables were that made up the stew. Served with grated carrot, cous cous, salad and some runner beans the tinned tomatoes used for the base of the stew hit you in the face as soon as the dish was laid on the table and unfortunately overpowered the whole plate. It basically tasting like we were eating tinned tomatoes with lumpy bits in it or a cheap vegetarian ready meal that had all the flavour nuked out of it. Not good. To their credit, everything did taste fresh BUT there was just no flavour. It needed something to give it a good kick and at least distract from the tinned tomatoes, if I had made this at home I would have threw in lots of garlic and paprika and maybe boiled the cous cous in a ginger broth? Jamie Oliver has a great recipe for a vegetable tagine here, which I’m keen to try. Overall it was very disappointing and we both left quite a bit on our plates despite being moderately hungry.

Wanting to down my cava (and get a kebab on the way home) I wasn’t keen to order dessert but my partner loves apple pie and was interested in seeing if the desserts would be any better than previous offerings but once again flavour and passion were desperately lacking, I should have asked but it tasted like it was sugar free. The limp mass of fruit and pastry disguised as an apple pie was probably the most displeasing thing we ate as it just wasn’t the sweet treat we were expecting, it even looked sad, which made us sad.

I’m sorry Bonnington Cafe, I wanted to love you. I wanted to Instagram the fuck out of my delicious, healthy meals that would come out of your kitchen. I wanted to be inspired to do more meat free cooking. I wanted to bring my friends here for a cheap night out and become a frequent customer but unfortunately it just wasn’t to be. Even though there is a different cook every night, I don’t think I shall be returning due to my disappointing experience. Shame.

10 things you must do in Barcelona.

Barcelona is one of those cities that will simply blow you away as soon as you step off the plane and inhale the sweet Mediterranean air. The whole vibe of the place is buzzing, but in a warm, welcoming way that makes you feel as if you’ve just got home after a long day at work rather than the fast paced whir of London or New York. With the city drenched in history and architecture as well as a huge shopping district and party scene there’s something for everyone here and with flights from under £50 Barcelona is fast becoming a top European hot spot for city breaks. I’ve been lucky enough to visit twice with my most recent trip being last February, the weather cool but bright, perfect for a girly weekend of sight seeing and exploring. Here are my top ten picks of things to do if you ever find yourself in the sunkissed city of Barcelona…

1 – Drink a Spanish beer whilst lazing on the grass watching the Magic Fountain of Montjuïc. The light show is absolutely amazing, the fountain ‘dances’ along to music and it’s the perfect way to wind down after a day of sightseeing and the best thing is it’s completely free.

2 – Walk the full length of Las Ramblas, taking in the sights, sounds and smells of the city. One of Barcelona’s most famous landmarks is the pedestrianized boulevard where everything happens. Stretching from the port all the way to Plaça Catalunya here is where you will find the heart of the city, from the markets and Gothic Quarter to street performers, cafe’s, bars, shops and as the sun sets the southern end of Las Ramblas becomes a low key red light district… If that’s your thing.

3 – Sip Sangria at Port Vell, find a gorgeous rooftop bar in the afternoon and stay to catch the sunset. If it’s one thing the Spanish do well, it’s food and drink. A litre jug of sparkling sangria will set you back around 10 euro’s and teamed with the stunning views, good conversation and the warm afternoon sunshine there’s no better way to wile away a couple of hours.

4 – Buy a delicious porras from one of Barcelona’s many quaint bakeries. Along witth the cronut and churros, porras are a frequent find in the bakeries that are scattered around the city. Most are just hole in the wall type places which charge less than a euro for a cream filled porras and are very delicious and just a little bit addictive… We were having them for breakfast most mornings when we were hungry and hungover. Oops.

5 – Take a dip in the sea and sunbathe on the sandy beaches that fringe the city with an indulgent cocktail. No trip to Barcelona is complete without a swim in the beautiful clear waters! It really is the city that has it all and the gorgeous beaches are the icing on the cake, especially with all the cocktail bars and fabulous cheap eateries that are just a few metres away.

6 – Buy an ice cream from the La Boqueria food market. With every flavour you can think of you’ll be spoilt for choice and there’s also an amazing range of fresh fruit and smoothies for those who prefer a healthier sweet treat. The food market also sells a wide range of meat, cheese, olives, bread and fish and samples are plentiful which is quite handy if you’re hungry but spent all your money on sangria.

7 – Enjoy delicious tapas from a street cafe and watch the world go by. Spicy potatoes, olives, cheese, calamari and cold meats are the most common components of a traditional tapas spread and can be found in the small, quaint restaurants on the outskirts of the city but more contemporary spots in the city will surprise you more exotic choices and of course, accompanying Spanish wine.

8 – Skim the city skyline in a Port Cable Car and see the sights from a different view. Not for the faint hearted, the structures are a bit old and creak like they’re going to break at any moment but no one has died yet and it’ll be worth the mini heart attack for all those fabulous Instagram pictures.

9 – Explore the organic architecture of Anotoni Gaudi by visiting some of his most famous creations, Sagrada Familia and Park Güell. It’s well worth booking an audio tour to learn more about the stunning church and if you’re feeling athletic, the stunning view from the top of the tower are breathtaking.

10 –  Make new friends and party the night away at one of the many nightclubs and live music venues in the Gothic Quarter. As the Spanish tend to eat quite late, at around 10pm the clubs and bars don’t tend to be busy until the early hours of the night and tend to go on right up until 6am. Make sure you squeeze in a siesta and fill your tummy with tapas so you can keep up!

Barcelona Zoo and L’Aquarium de Barcelona are well worth a visit too, especially if you’re travelling with children. Avoid expensive taxi’s as the public transport system is great, especially the subway where you can buy a 10 ride ticket for 10 euros and travel the whole city in air conditioned greatness.

Karleigh’s Bangin’ Bovril one pan chicken.

Would you believe me if I said to you at the ripe ol’ age of 27 I had never cooked a roast before? It just seemed like so much hassle and I’m pretty sure my mum uses every pot, pan, baking tray and utensil in the entire kitchen to make one. Coupled with the fact it takes an entire Sunday to cook it never really appealed to me, when I’m hungry I want to eat there and then… Not 5 hours later! Anyway, with my new found love of being tied to the kitchen like a 50’s housewife and a hungry man to impress I quickly found this recipe for a one pan roast that took just an hour and a half to cook (not inc. prep & ‘rest’ time).

I adapted the recipe slightly by using Bovril instead of Marmite & stock as it has a beefier flavour (and I didn’t have any stock… Or Marmite) but the first time I made this I was so pleased with how it turned out, the chicken literally fell off the bone and it was so full of flavour! I also like to use both sweet and white potatoes and I bypass carrots because carrots are crap. I find using frozen vegetables works the best as they have a low cooking time and it’s so easy just to throw them in at the end, fresh vegetables can take a little longer and may require steaming/boiling beforehand. Oh, I also never measure anything bar the Bovril gravy stock.

You will need –

1 x chicken

1 x lemon

Mixed herbs/rosemary/thyme

1 x knob of butter (knob, lol)

1 x jar of Bovril or 2 Bovril stock cubes

1 x pint of boiling water (to make a stock)

Potatoes parboiled and cut into roastie sized chunks

Olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7 and start off by parboiling your potatoes with a pinch of salt for around 5 minutes until they’re slightly soft and easy to cut. I like to use the kettle to speed up the process, with the boiled water I can also make my Bovril stock. Crumble 2 Bovril stock cubes or a healthy dollop of Bovril extract to a pint of boiling water and let it dissolve. Whilst the potatoes are parboiling take your chicken, place it into a deep dish/baking tray and remove the string attached. Cut your lemon into two halves and squeeze the juice over the chicken and then place into the cavity, sunny side up. The lemon doesn’t add any flavour it just keeps the meat really moist, so don’t worry about making lemon chicken! Smother the skin in butter, really massage it in. Treat the chicken like your lover, be firm but affectionate and you will be rewarded by delicious crispy skin at the end of it. Add a blob of Bovril to the top of the chicken and sprinkle on your herbs, massaging the whole lot in until it’s completely covered.

By now your potatoes should be ready so drain and cut into roastie size chunks, arrange them around the chicken and cover the whole lot in a generous drizzle of olive oil, turning the potatoes over to ensure they have an even coating. Your pan should now be looking something like this…

bovril chicken

Roast for 20 mins, then turn the oven down to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and roast for 50 mins more. I like to keep checking the potatoes every 20 minutes or so, shaking them about a bit to make sure they have an even coating of oil and making sure they’re soaking up all that gorgeous chicken juice. Don’t forget to baste, I drizzle a little of the Bovril stock over the chicken too. When the 50 minutes are up, take the chicken out and give everything a good stir, it’s at this point I like to remove the potatoes as they’re crispy and cooked enough but you can keep them in if you wish. Arrange your vegetables around the chicken and cover with the stock, giving them a good stir to make sure they’re completely covered. Place back in the oven for a further 10-15 minutes (depending on how well done you like them) and et voila, your Karleigh’s Bangin’ Bovril one pan roast is ready!

bovril chicken cooked

For optimum juiciness leave the chicken to rest for 10 minutes, you can use this time to pop the potatoes back in the oven if they got a little cold or to cook yorkshire puddings etc. For someone who can’t really cook I found this so easy to make, and it tastes amazing! Everyone I’ve made it for has loved it and cleared their plates and the above can easily feed four people on a lazy Sunday.

Enjoy!

 

10 things they don’t tell you about house sharing.

Like most people in the 21-30 age bracket who live in a big city and favour alcohol and shoes over mortgages and savings accounts, I live in a house share. Whilst it’s not my first choice of accommodation, until I earn double what I’m on now or pop out a kid and throw myself on the mercy of the council (don’t do that) this is as good as it gets for now. The Office for National Statistics states ‘In 2013, over 3.3 million adults in the UK aged between 20 and 34 were living with a parent or parents. That is 26% of this age group.’ Shocking? Read more here. I truly understand why people choose to live with their parents well into their thirties, entering the world of independent living is exhilarating but the expense, responsibility and frustration of living with strangers is not something you account for in the excitement of having your very own 70 sq. foot kingdom.

With websites such as Spareroom and Easy Roommate bursting with fun, quirky ads promising your dream living space making it sound like some sort of awesome adventure, the reality is somewhat different as you’re faced with constant mould, bullshit and weirdos.

1 – Finding something half decent is a full time job. You’ll trawl through hundreds of ads only to discover your ‘perfect’ flat is on a big crack fuelled council estate, nothing like the pictures or just a big fat pile of disappointment. Finding a flat share is a lot like dating, even when you’ve found ‘the one’ you’ll probably get rejected and have to start the whole process again. Soz.

2 – There’s a 99% chance your landlord will be a dick. Whole of South London had sex on your bed and now the mattress is FUBAR and causing you back pain? He doesn’t care. House crawling alive with ants because your housemates are dirty bastards who don’t clean up after themselves? He doesn’t care. Boiler broken causing you to wash your hair in freezing cold water? Guess what, he doesn’t care. But be more than a few hours late with your rent that month and he’ll be all up in your tits like the bone that pops out of a cheap bra. If you have a good landlord, worship him. Worship him good and you’ll probably get a few months rent free – top tip.

3 – At least one of your housemates will be a dick. Plates constantly piled up in the sink, mess and crap everywhere, loud music playing at all hours of the night, mid-week parties, their weird, drunk friends waking up on your sofa most mornings, hair down the plughole, and giant floaters in the communal bathroom. There’s always one and they never take out the bin.

dirty kitchen

4 – You’ll turn into your mother within 24 hours. All those times your mum bitched at you to not leave crumbs on the side, to clean up after yourself, not leave dirty dishes in the sink and to plump the pillows? You thought she was batshit crazy and overly houseproud… Nope, those are just the basics and you’ll be bitching at your housemates for the exact same things.

5 – You can’t really make anything your own. Your dick landlord will probably have strict rules in place about you not being able to make holes in the wall and if you accepted the room as fully furnished you’re stuck with that fugly sofa and dodgy bedside lamp that came straight out of Guest House Paradiso. 

6 – If you’re lucky you’ll be allocated your own shelf in the fridge and freezer and if you’re really lucky you’ll get your very own cupboard. All sounds very civilized but one day you’ll come home from work with an intense craving for those Sainsbury’s Basics chicken nuggets you bought with the last dregs of your pay packet only to pull out a bag of ice crystals and breadcrumbs. Apparently it’s an unwritten rule that washing power and milk are a free for all and get delivered by the washing powder and milk fairy.

7 – The kitchen will almost always be too filthy for you to cook in so you’ll eat on your bed most of the time. Your housemates will use every pot, pan, plate and cup so even if you want to cook some Supernoodles you’ll have to wash something up. You grit your teeth and do it the first 5 times but after that you’ll want to kill someone and refuse to do it any more, you’ll either starve out of principal or order something from Just Eat if you’re feeling flush.

8 – You’ll become all too familiar with the bowel movements of your roommates as you all fall into a bathroom routine and playing the delightful game of spot the skidmark as you brush your teeth will become the highlight of your morning. Fun times.

9 – Your housemates will shaft you with the rent and bill splits any way they can. If your home is being rented out as a whole unit and not room by room, the current housemates can divide up the rent so you’re paying more than them. Sneaky bastards. Also, in a lot of houseshares there’s 1 person who pays all the bills/rent and you pay them… This means you have no idea just how much the bills are and they can pocket the rest.

10 – …but some of your housemates will turn into lifelong friends who will see you through the dark days, share your hangovers, sync with your cycle and be there at the end of a long day with a glass of cheap wine. They’ll eat your disgusting attempts at a Jamie Oliver 15 minute meal and join you on many a drunken impromptu escapade, such as chasing someone down the road with a screwdriver after they piss through your letterbox and you’ll wonder where they’ve been all your life.

Beer in brugge

It’s not all bad, I promise.