Monday, 22 July 2019


Collaborative post

Buying a house is one of the longest and most stressful tasks you will do as an adult. During the time it takes you to buy a house there are a lot of factors and steps involved which many of us simply aren’t aware of until you actually go through it for the first time and by that point it can be a very daunting experience.

Establish costs

When moving into a house for the first time it is important for you to know your worth from the off. Buying a house can be an expensive business and it is not as clear cut as you might think. As well as the deposit for your home, you will need any of the following:

  • Solicitors fees 
  • Stamp duty 
  • Money for bills 
  • Money for moving
  • Money for furniture 

There are a lot of things you need to invest in for a house and you need to be sure that you can gather all of the supplies you need as well as pay bills without going out of pocket.

Find out how much you can borrow

Once you know how much money you have as a deposit it is time for you to see what price of house you can afford. Most lenders will have a mortgage calculator on their website so you will be able to input your income information and this will allow you to see how much you can buy. You can then look at getting secured homeowner loans from Evolution Money or a bank.

Start searching 

Once you have that value in your mind of what you can afford, it is time to take this budget and start looking for a house which fits it. Searching for a new home is an amazing thing and it will be one of the most fun parts of the journey. Narrow your search to a few options and drive around to them to see what they look like from the front. This will allow you to see things such as amount of light in the house, the neighbourhood, and how busy the area is.

Arrange a viewing

Once you have decided on a few houses that you really like, it is time to arrange a viewing inside the home. A viewing can be an exciting part of your home buying process and it can be tempting for you to run around the house and simply find excitement in the process. But also remember that you are here to make an investment and you need to inspect the home for things such as damp, cracks and subsidence. These are all common issues and ones which can drive up the cost of your work when you move in. Make sure that the house is up to scratch before you jump in.

Make an offer

As soon as you are happy with a house you should make an offer straight away. It is always best to try and haggle to start off with on a new house because you will be able to save yourself some money. Try asking for 10,000 under what they are asking for and see what they say. If they say yes, great. If they say no, go up to 5,000 below and see what happens. Sometimes a buyer won’t budge from the asking price but it is always worth asking to see if you can move them.

Find a solicitor

Once an offer has been accepted through the estate agent it is time to get a solicitor. This is the point where you will need to sit down and give your information so that the solicitor can draw up a contract. Make sure every piece of information you give is accurate.

Complete the application 

The application for a mortgage will take a few weeks to go through and in the meantime they will run a homebuyers report on the property to ensure that it is safe and secure for you to move into. Once this part of the process is done you can relax and start to really plan for the rest of the process.

The contract 

After a while you will be sent a contract through from the seller’s solicitor and this is the contract for the ownership of your home. It is important here that you take the time to read through the document again and again and make sure that everything is correct before you sign it. Once signed you can send this off and you will now wait for the exchange of contracts which will often give you a moving in date.

Planning the move 

Once you have signed the contract and prepared everything else for the home it is time to pack up and get ready to go. If you live with parents you likely won’t have white goods and furniture of your own but it is a good idea to buy some before you move. Hire a self storage unit for a month or so and start to collect things you will need for the home. This is something which is super important because it will allow you to plan out the move and settle in within a few days with everything you need to live comfortably.

Get the keys 

The final stage of the home buying process is the day you go to pick up the keys. Moving day is an important thing and it is advisable for you to head to the home before you start moving items in so that you can clean the home top to bottom ready for your items. Get family and friends to help you move in and this will be the most amazing couple of days of your life, and it will mark a whole new chapter of your life. Get in and enjoy, and make sure to read the meter before you start using energy!

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Thursday, 18 July 2019


AD | Gifted Experience

Last Saturday I was lucky enough to be invited to try the Go Ape Tree Top Challenge just on the outskirts of Leeds city centre in Temple Newsam. For the last couple of years I've been much more of a 'yes' person so I couldn't turn this opportunity down (particularly as my mum has done it before, if she can do it - I definitely can!). I've seen Go Ape challenges in a few forests up north (namely in Sherwood Pines and Dalby Forest) but never tried it before so I was really excited to see what it was like. 

Go Ape is actually for all ages with a minimum height of 1 metre as there's two different adventures; The Treetop Adventure is a great family course where you can choose your own route depending on how much challenge you want; there are different crossings and bridges as well as a zip wire to the bottom so there's definitely something for varying levels of daringness! 

The Treetop Challenge is the ultimate experience, and what we went for. It definitely requires an element of bravery and endurance as the courses are more challenging and physically demanding with 50ft high platforms, long zip lines and the opportunity to do a Tarzan swing from a 36ft platform into a rope ladder. Definitely for you if you want exhilaration, fun and challenge all rolled into one!

Having looked online before we arrived, we decided to buy a pair of fingerless gloves from the Go Ape shop just to make sure we were both comfortable as we were climbing around; we also made sure to wear long trousers so that our legs were protected, especially at the bottom of the zip wires! I can definitely recommend either taking gloves with you or buying some there because we heard others on the course saying they wish they had bought some when they saw ours because you do spend quite a lot of time gripping, as you can probably imagine.

Once we had got our gloves and signed the waiver, we were taken over by our instructor to get our harnesses fitted. From the word go I was really impressed by the enthusiasm shown by all the staff on site - they were also very knowledgable and made us feel very at ease when explaining the risks but how we could make sure we were safe at all times. 

Before going 50ft up we were taken on a practice run closer to ground which got us to grips with how the wires work that kept us safe. We were taught out to manoeuvre around the course and had a bit of a practice run on a small zip wire. 

(above photos are of the Treetop Adventure)

Once we had completed the short guidance trail we were let loose on the 4 courses (there's usually 5 but one was closed); connected on by the member of staff at the bottom we were then left to make our way 50ft up! 

If you watched my instagram story on the day you'll have seen some of the challenges and crossings we faced up there (it's now on my highlights if you'd like to take a look). It was honestly the most enjoyable, exhilirating experience I've had since I did a bungee jump a few years ago; it was hard work, don't get me wrong but the feeling of achievement at the bottom of each of the zip lines was amazing! 

Each of the courses has its own challenges and you can often hear the trees creaking as it's so quiet up there! One of the courses has lots of zip lines from platform to platform which gives you a bit of light relief from the upper and lower body strength needed for the other parts. The most challenging part for me was the Tarzan swing; as much as you know you're attached at all times, it goes against all human nature to just step off something so high but I was incredibly proud when I'd done it! 

By the end we were both shattered and exhilarated in equal measure and I certainly ached the next day because I'd used muscles I've not used for many years! Here's me looking very proud of myself at the end -

If you're looking for something to do at the weekend or in the summer holidays, I would definitely recommend Go Ape Temple Newsam - what's even better is that there's currently a discount code you can use to get 20% off your booking by using the promotional code ADVANCED when you book online.

Let me know if you decide to Go Ape!

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Wednesday, 10 July 2019


collaborative post

Whether you love or loathe housework. It's a universal truth that there are hundreds of cleaning Instagram accounts that will likely tell you that you need a cupboard full of products in order to keep you house clean with various different methods and for using them. I've been trying to cut down on the actual work that it takes to clean a house from top to bottom as well as cutting down the amount of products I have. I

There are always ways to maximise resting and relaxing over actual housework; it's just a case of knowing where you can make cuts to your routine and taking them on. It's when the house is a mess, or the dog has shed a ton of hair that you remember why choose vinyl plank flooring - it's so much simpler to clean. So, while that was a cleaning hack you didn't know you were already using, here are five more to make life in the house much more comfortable, allowing you to be lazier for longer.

Lint Roll The Dust
You might use a lint roller on your clothes but did you know that it's SO easy to clean dust and crumbs in the house when you have one at home? Run the roller over the lampshades for a finished look without even trying.

Line Your Refrigerator
You want to keep costs down while spending less time cleaning, and the best way to do that is to line your refrigerator shelves with plastic food wrap. Any leaking bottles or spills from the sauce jars can be caught quickly, and all you need to do then is peel the layer of plastic off and start again! You'll never have to clean the refrigerator deep because your cling wrap trick will keep it fresher for longer.

Squeegee Your carpets
Rugs and carpets in the house can get ingrained with hair. From pets to people, hair is the most annoying thing to have in the fibres of the carpets in your home. If the vacuum cleaner isn't picking it up, grab a squeegee. The rubber will pull up every bit of hair and stops you from needing to vacuum so much!

Dryer Sheet The Blinds
Feather dusters are always advertised for cleaning wooden blinds, but dryer sheets get into every corner without destroying the blinds. Plus, they smell good, so they could easily be used to clean the blinds down and dd some scent to the living area.

Go Traditional
More traditional methods and products are definitely making a come back, The Secret Cleaner's home made degreaser is so easy and cuts down the need for buying so many products which ultimately add up!

Take ten minutes with these hacks and your house will be clean in no time at all.

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Wednesday, 3 July 2019


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As you'll probably know, I have quite a small house. It kind of makes sense to me at the moment because there's just me and Kev (with a dog on the way!) but it does still create some problems with having enough places to put things. New builds are notorious for their small rooms and lack of storage space. So here are some tips if you're in a similar position to me: 

Do away with the clunk
The first thing to do is to rethink the ostentatious, overly large furniture that can take up a lot more space than it needs to. If the room is compact, you need to think compact with your décor as well. Space saving furniture with slim profiles, exposed legs, and a more minimalist appearance can create the illusion of a lot more space than there actually is and make things look less cluttered.

Let there be light
Nothing can make a room feel smaller, more cluttered, and more uncomfortable than dark shadows going every which way. Upgrading the home to make the space brighter can help give it a much more relaxing vibe and stretch out the space that’s there. I'm lucky enough to have patio doors in my living room but if you don't have that luxury, using lighter blinds and curtains to let in more natural light, layering accent lighting on top of the main fixture, and using mirrors and brighter colours to better reflect that light can all help. 

Find your focal point
If you use the common tactic of dotting around a lot of smaller decorative pieces, it can quickly make the room look a lot more cluttered. Instead, considering making one or two big statement pieces to serve as a focal point and thematic knot to tie the room together. Creating a table-top vignette is a highly effective way of doing just that if you don’t already have a natural focal point, like a fireplace. I've used my TV as my focal point and bought a nice white TV unit to go across the whole of the wall backing onto a geometric feature wall and I find that even just doing that has made the space feel more open and brighter.

Define your spaces
A little contrast can go a long way in creating the illusion of more space than there actually is. You don’t want to go overboard with soft furnishings but adding small rugs can help the room feel more complete. It also zones off one area of the room from the other that doesn’t have a rug, so there’s a distinct feeling of different parts of the room, rather than it all just being one little box. This is particularly important for me as my house is completely open plan downstairs so that contrast between kitchen and living room is really key.

Get sneaky with your storage
Good storage is essential if you want to avoid making a small room look cluttered up. However, having an entirely separate standing piece of storage furniture might take up more space than you need to. There are plenty of hidden storage ideas you can incorporate in your home, such as multitasking furniture that comes with extra drawers and cubby holes that you can use to keep those essential items out of sight.

A smaller room does have a few more limitations to fight against, but that doesn’t mean that it’s completely without a chance. Hopefully, the tips above show you how to make better use of any space, no matter what size it is. 

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Tuesday, 25 June 2019


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When you get the opportunity to renovate your living room, the possibilities of what you can create are seemingly endless. Flicking through interior design magazines or scrolling through social sites and blog posts, you’re bound to see all of the latest and greatest features and furnishings that are on trend right now. However, these styles come and go so often that within a month a whole new look will be spread across every page, so taking inspiration from elsewhere might be a better option for something that remains timeless. Sticking to a classic theme with some unique vintage touches will allow you to ensure that your room never feels outdated for the wrong reasons, and can stay in fashion through every shifting season. A classic look is perfect for any homeowner, from families with children to think about to younger residents with entertainment in mind, so read on to discover how you can design the perfect living room with ease.

The Walls & Floor

The main focal point of your living room when you enter will be the walls and floor. In a typical classic style, going for natural materials and autumnal colours seems to create he beat warm atmosphere to create a strong base for the rest of your design. Wood creates the perfect foundation, as you can choose any kind of shade or tone to suit your preference whilst still maintains a more rustic feel. A rug will tie the whole room together, and a Persian imitation should definitely be considered in order to achieve that perfect classic vintage look. If you would prefer a carpet of some kind to create a softer surface for little feet, opt for a simple shade without an overwhelming pattern to ensure you don’t try to include too much and make the room feel cluttered when you add other accessories. When it comes to the walls, choose a light but warm tone - always avoid going for white. White walls can create such a cold and uninviting atmosphere, so staying away from this will help you achieve the feel you want. Think about what you might want to add to your walls in the future, and factor this into your design now to ensure that it all fits together aesthetically when you continue decorating in the future. Always use a very good quality paint brand, and test the various colours out before committing to any of them. There’s nothing worse than beginning to despise the colour after a few months or start to see problems or poor quality features, as you will just end up spending more money in the long run whilst trying to fix everything and make it more palatable.

Choosing Furniture & Decor 

Finding the right pieces for the actual content of your living room can be an absolute minefield with the sheer volume of different things on offer. When it comes to choosing the right seating you will most definitely be faced with a wide array of choices, but opting for luxurious leather sofas is the best decision you can make to tie in with the classic vintage style. Your couch is the most used item in you living room without a doubt, so investing in one that is both aesthetically pleasing and also wonderfully comfortable is a must. If you want to upgrade your relaxation and take it to the next level, be sure to purchase a matching footstool to take the weight off after a long day. If you share your home with your family, it might be an idea to get some soft throws and cushions to add to the sofa during the winter months to keep your little ones warm and cosy as they should be. Another key feature of your decor is the light fittings, as they can really impact upon the overall vibe of your room. For the light bulb itself, avoid super bright LEDs and opt for a softer, more orange alternative. Lamps, shades and chandeliers can all be found in vintage forms, and having a few unique bursts of brightness can make a great addition to any classic space. Add to the individuality by hanging different pictures and pieces of art on the walls, surrounding them with ornate frames in regal colours like gold and deep red. Try to keep to a maximum of 4 differing colours in your living room, as any more than this can cause the space to become too hectic and disorderly. Include any other accessories you want to spruce the place up, and visit local charity shops and car boot sales to find some vintage gems, as you are unlikely to ever see the same decoration twice and get it for a great price too. Try bringing the outside in with some potted house plants, or test your horticultural skills by growing a bonsai tree that will add an amazing finishing touch to your living room.

Designing a classic vintage living room that you and your family will be able to utilise and appreciate for years to come shouldn’t be as difficult as you may seem. By following the steps above and using your own creative flare, you can work to create a feeling of luxury in your home in no time at all, and easily achieve that all important final product of a unique and beautiful lounge. Steer clear or bright and garish colours as much as possible, instead opting for a couple of key colours and experimenting with their different tones. Classic rooms tend to lack an excess of clutter, so stick with a few main pieces that tie the room together and look great while doing so. Use your own imagination and requirements to mould your space into the best it can be, and don't be afraid to go bold with art work and other wall hangings. With all of the bases covered, you will be able to create an amazing room at top speed with the passion and drive needed to pull the design off properly.

Do you prefer vintage or modern styles?

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Monday, 24 June 2019


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You might have seen if you follow me on Instagram that I absolutely hate my bathroom and it would absolutely be the first place I would renovate because it's really small and I made some bad choices when I first bought my house as a new build. The bathroom should be a part of the house which we all enjoy using at the end of a long day to wash off and relax after the stresses of life. It is also one of the rooms in the house which is often forgotten about and taken for granted and this can sometimes cause us to end up with a boring and dull room with no life or style (which is exactly what's happened to me!)

So here are a few things that I'd love to be able to do to turn my bathroom into somewhere I love rather than loath!

Use a shower curtain

My bathroom is small and one thing I have noticed has made quite a small but significant difference is a change of shower curtain; I did have a Primark one but I recently changed to this grey one and I much prefer it - a slight change in colour has made a really difference to the whole look of the room. In my opinion, they're also much easier to keep clean than a glass screen!

Under sink storage

In a small bathroom it's all about making the most of the space you have so using under the sink to put a little cupboard it the perfect place because it would be otherwise unused space. I got mine from Argos but you can also get them from places like B&M - just make sure you know your measurements!

Integrate the toilet 

One of the ugliest elements you can have in the bathroom is the pipes which come from underneath and behind the toilet. These pipes can build up with dust very quickly and they make the space look clunky and unfinished. This is why many modern bathroom designs have a feature which integrates the toilet into a small cabinet so that the pipes are hidden and all you can see is the basin. This makes the bathroom look so much better and it will also make cleaning a hell of a lot simpler too.

Use huge tiles 

The tiles are my real bugbear in my bathroom I should have had a totally different colour and style. When tiling the bathroom the best thing you can do to make it feel expensive and luxurious is to use the biggest tiles you can find. Big tiles will not only take less time for you to fit onto the wall but because they are vast it will give your walls the illusion that it is a never-ending pattern which can make it feel much more expensive than it really is. For a bit of fun, you can add a darker toned tile to the bottom third of the wall and white above for a two-toned effect which will look stunning.

Use mirrors

Mirrors have to be the best use of your space in the bathroom if you want your room to look modern and vast. A mirror is an ideal way to bring in the illusion of space as well as to fill a blank space on the wall. It is always a great option for this room because you will be able to reflect light from outside and this will illuminate the whole room.

Add pops of colour 

The best thing you can buy for your bathroom is some wholesale bath towels from Richard Haworth in bold colours. Whether you have a white, black or neutral bathroom, a pop of colour is incredibly important and can breathe life into the room. For example, if you have a white and light brown bathroom you can add some yellow or orange tiles to the bathroom to add character and fun to the space.

Think copper

How can you make any bathroom look modern and contemporary in an instant? Add copper to the room. Whether you choose to add copper taps and towel rails, copper accessories or a copper bath (which is the absolute dream for me!!)… this will add some amazing depth and class to the space. Copper is a colour which is associated with class and luxury so adding this into your bathroom this year can be the perfect way to bring your room into the 21st century and make it feel like a spa from heaven. It will be the best decision you make for the bathroom this year!

What are your top tips for making the most of a small bathroom?

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Wednesday, 19 June 2019


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With summer just around the corner (well, I hope it is anyway!!), we’re all beginning to think about all the fun we’re going to have. There will hopefully be trips overseas, road trips with friends, and lazy afternoon BBQs with the extended family. Really, is there a better time of year?! And with the weather so fine and everyone looking so tanned, you better believe that pictures will be taken left, right, and centre. As such, you’ll want to take steps to ensure that you look your best! This can prove a little bit trick during the summer, when it’s oh so bright, there are a million and one social events, and we don’t have a big coat to hide behind, like we do in winter.

If you’ve got the right clothing in your wardrobe, however, you’ll always be able to look the part, no matter what the equation. Below, we take a look at some of the tried and tested essentials that every female needs to have in their locker.

The Go-To Plain T-Shirt

Now, this might not be the most exciting item in the summer wardrobe, but that’s essentially the point. A high-quality, plain white t-shirt can be worn with anything, and also again and again without people beginning to ask “why do you wear that t-shirt all the time?” Keep in mind that the emphasis should be on high-quality. There’s a subtle but obvious difference between low and high-quality t-shirts. The versatility is this option’s greatest strength. When you don’t know what to wear, you’ll have a go-to option just sitting there.

Funky Designs

Though of course, let’s not forget that summer is a time for fun and colour, and all those other things that make the season so enjoyable. As such, you’ll want to invest in a few more funky t-shirts. These can have logos, bright colours, or just in some other way be unique. It is recommended that you take the unique angle though -- you’ll get more positive reactions if you have a t-shirt that no-one has really seen before.


Denim Everywhere

Denim is your friend in the summer. It can serve multiple purposes. First, let’s think about the denim jacket, which is an essential item for the summer. Whatever you’re wearing, you can throw a denim jacket on top, and take your look to the next level. Another denim option is the jumpsuit. Jumpsuits are making a comeback in a big way, and with good reason -- they offer a little bit of everything, all rolled up into one neat package. They’re especially recommended during the summer because they keep you warm, but not so warm. They’re the perfect, stylish option for those hot, but not quite baking, days. 

For Those Chilly Evenings

Even on those baking days (which we’re hopeful we’ll at least get a few days of), it’s always important to remember that things can change a lot when the sun goes down. When it does, you might find that the fun summer’s day outfit you were wearing is no longer doing the trick. When that happens, you’ll be grateful that you invested in a warm sweater. The trick is to find something that’s thick enough to take the chill out of the night, thin enough that you don’t end up too hot. Indeed, this is one item where it’s wise to have a couple of options -- plus, it’s also nice being able to offer one to a friend who’s cold when they’re around at your place. 

Light Footwear

When the weather is oh so warm, you’ll want to be able to just put on a quick outfit, and get out and enjoy the sunshine. At least, there’s usually one aspect that can undo all the good work you’ve put into your outfits: the footwear. You simply can’t keep the same shoes you’ve been wearing throughout the winter and spring. They’ll be too clunky to be worn with shorts, or too warm. As such, take a look at investing in some light footwear options. It’s well worth buying some light, high-quality sandals, or some light sneakers. They’ll go with everything and will be a God-send when the sun is shining.

White Trainers

While we talk about light shoes, it’s worth noting that one of the biggest footwear trends isn’t light at all: indeed, they’re anything but cool. White trainers have become all the rage, and can be worn with skirts, dresses, shorts -- all your summer outfits, essentially. Plus, they’re comfortable, so they’re especially great if you like exploring during the summer months.

Beach Dresses

There’s nothing better than a trip to the beach, is there? Even in the UK, the beaches can get pretty busy on those warm summer days. And then there’s the matter of those journey to the best beaches in Europe, which you’ll hopefully get to experience this summer. When you’re there, you’ll want to be weight some light and airy, something that’ll invite those cool summer breezes. This is where the beach dress or maxi dress come into their own. They allow you to get into that easy summer vibe, they’ll keep you cool, and they’ll protect large areas of your skin from the sun. It’s win-win-win. 


Because we’re showing so much skin during the summer months, we have so many opportunities for accessories. In your wardrobe, you’ll want to have options such as bracelets, necklaces, summer watches, and a hat. Or rather, multiple versions of all of these options. For your hats, it’s all about mixing style with practicality.

Everyday Sunglasses

And finally, let’s not forget those sunglasses. These are really important when it comes to protecting your eyes, but they can also be a fashion statement. Like your other accessories, it’s recommended that you have multiple pairs -- the classy ones, the beach ones, the ones you don’t mind losing. The most important pair in your locker will be the everyday glasses, however, the pair that you put on every day. They’ll be with you all along the crazy and fun ride that is summer. 

What are your summer wardrobe essentials?

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Monday, 17 June 2019


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A few weeks ago, Kev moved in with me after being together for just under two years; everyone else said it was a huge step to take but to me, it was just 'natural progression' - I'd never put pressure on him to make the move or anything like that, I was quite happy to move at his pace but I know that it's not always as plain sailing as it seems to have been for us. Obviously I've got my own house that I bought as a first timer buyer 18 months ago so the house we moved into wasn't in the equation. However, I've always said from day one of buying this house that it's not a 'forever home' and we're both keen to find something else when the time is right.

We've done some property searches and sorted our 'non-negotiables' such as the kind of area we want (and don't want!) to be in, having at least 3 bedrooms, a decent garden etc. but it's so difficult to find that perfect property and waiting for the 'right' one to come up can be so frustrating if you're not careful. We've both said that we need to be as relaxed as possible about it otherwise what should be quite an exciting time could turn into an unnecessarily stressful time.

Be Patient!

To be honest, when you've got your heart set on something the last thing you want to be is patient but unfortunately, the property market is a dynamic and unpredictable force, especially as a buyer. There's so many things to consider when buying a new property and we both know that we need to remain calm and collected during this process. There is every chance we will have our heart set on a property only for it to fall through due to miscommunication from the sellers. There’s a chance that you’ll be at the final stage of the process only to reveal in your house inspections that thousands of pounds worth of damp damage occupies the bathroom, and was somehow hidden expertly during your viewings. Obviously these would be unfortunately if they were to happen but it's important to appreciate that, especially if you and the other buy is in a chain, they can happen.

Be Realistic

There’s a careful tight-rope walk we have to balance ourselves to complete when searching for a property. On one hand, you’re looking to the future. For that, we'll naturally be searching for the best and most idealistic property and lifestyle we can hope for within our budget. This can help identify the good properties, and also fight for the things that we truly want, such as going to the highest end of your budget to secure a house you love. But at the same time, despite this idealism, we know we need to remain incredibly realistic. For us, a property at the top end of our budget would need to have the perfect kitchen and bathroom because they'd be the things that we would need to spend money on if they weren't right.

A property that needs a lot of work doing to it isn't our idea of a perfect property, although we can see potential in some of the most beautiful renovation projects the hours we work are too long to consider coming home to a building site for a length of time when we move into the house. Any new home is a project to an extent which does take work to get it where you want it so this is definitely something we will be considering when we buy our home together.

Know what you want

As I mentioned before, we already have ideas of our non-negotiables which can make house hunting much easier in terms of excluding the properties that you know you definitely don't want. But it's also worth considering what you don't mind compromising on. For example, you might be more willing to accept a driveway in deep need of repair if the kitchen is spacious and has great natural lighting and ventilation. This is where writing a list of your most important priorities, your ‘must-haves’ and ‘would-likes’ can be a great idea.

On the flip side, it might be worth considering a new build which tends to be a more custom solution with extras and additions that you can choose to suit your needs. Professional home builders such as Redrow can potentially offer you this, with new builds and design services to truly help you find the best of the best within your budget.

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Thursday, 13 June 2019


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We all want to explore the world in our own little ways. We want to see what’s out there, bask in the sun of the warmest countries in the world, and walk through forests and up mountains we’d never ever see back home. It’s a big and beautiful place that us human beings call home, and there’s a lot more than just your own neighbourhood for you to absorb!

But when it comes to falling in love with your wanderlust, a lot of us want to relocate permanently. We want to wake up in another country, and go to bed on a timezone different from our own. We want to experience life from another angle, and get to know the climate and culture that’s often opposite to what we grew up with. We want to make friends and settle down on new soil, and most of us can’t afford to take the regular holidays that would enable us to do that!

Moving across the world is going to take a lot of preparation, but you already knew that, didn’t you? You just need to know where to start and what to prioritise during these initial planning stages; moving house within your own country is expensive enough, so you cannot afford to make mistakes when uprooting on an international scale!

(My personal dream move would be to Florida)

First of All, Make Sure You Can Afford To!

It might break your heart a little to learn that you’re not yet in a position where you can afford to move across the globe, but it’s going to be a necessary step in your moving plans. After all, money is everything when it comes to an opportunity like this, and if you’re not moving for work and having most of your expenses covered by the company, you’ve got an almighty bill to foot all by yourself.

Not to mention what it’s going to cost you to buy or rent accommodation whilst you’re out there. No matter where in the world that you go, you’re going to need to fork out for shelter. It’s a human necessity for a comfortable and healthy life, but it does cost the bulk of your finances in the long run. Of course, it’s going to be a lot cheaper in some countries and a lot more expensive in others, so the budget you’ll have to work with ultimately depends on where you’re dreaming of settling down.

So make sure you use something like the loan calculator propertyguru before you make any concrete plans. This is mostly for those of us who want to move out to another country and have our own house to live in whilst we’re there; you’re still going to need a mortgage to be able to afford this privilege.

Knowing what you’re likely to be able to borrow, stacked up against the cost of the house you’ve got your eye on, means you’re in a better position to get pre approved for an overseas mortgage. You might be able to get it from a bank where you currently live, or you might be able to look to a bank abroad - check the rates of each option and see which one would be more practical for you.

Then You Need to Find Yourself a Home

And get it locked down, before you do anything else; it’s definitely not worth it to actually move halfway across the globe only to find out the apartment you thought you paid 6 months upfront rent for has been passed on to someone else. Because once you know for sure that you’ve got somewhere to live, and that you can move in straight away, and that all your facilities and amenities are going to be present and usable, you’re going to be just fine in your new home country.

After all, when you have a shelter, it’s likely you’ve got clean water to drink and wash with, and you’ve got a reliable source of food nearby… a.k.a., you’re in a neighbourhood not far from a supermarket, and you’ve already got an account with a water company to rely on. It’s a lot easier to use normal utilities like these, as an expatriate, than to collect river or rain water and boil it constantly.

Know Where to Find Medical Aid

Next up is settling down in an area with hospitals, pharmacies, regular drug stores, and any other kind of medical amenity nearby. If you’re going to be moving across the world, your healthcare should be of utmost importance - you’re going to need to know who to call, what times these services are open, if they ever close, and if you’ll have reliable and safe access to them.

Ask yourself these questions before you think about putting down a deposit: Is the healthcare free or publicly funded, or will you have to pay for it via the use of insurance? Is there a non-emergency phone number to call when you don’t need to go to the hospital? How far out is the home you’re looking at from the nearest medical centre?

And Keep Your Luggage Light Too

If you’ve finally made up your mind, and you know you have the funds to afford it, feel free to take the leap and move across the world to a new home! But make sure you’re packing light as you go; you don’t want to be lugging around three suitcases onto multiple long haul flights, and then have to pay for a bigger taxi or rental car to transport everything you have with you once you touch down.

So only take what cannot be easily replaced once you touch down. Special clothes and outfits that were part of a limited run, necessary medications you’ll need to register and put a prescription in for, your glasses or contacts etc. Fill up your suitcase with items like these and you’ll probably not even need to pay airline fees!

Moving across the world takes a lot of courage, and a lot of practical thinking!

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Monday, 29 April 2019


I've not done a house update in far too long because decorating your first house turned out to be a much more expensive job than I first thought. Accessories don't just magic out of thin air and as much as you'd love every room to be perfect as soon as you move in, it just doesn't work out that way. You may have heard that it's not a good idea to paint or wallpaper new build homes for at least 6 months due to settlement cracks appearing - and some beauties have appeared in my house! I'm now a year and a bit down the line though and everything seems to have settled so I decided to add some colour to my living room.

Because this is my first house and I've bought it alone I thought what better time to have some pink decor without anyone being able to disagree with me?! I searched Pinterest for some home inspiration and decided that I wanted to stick with some sort of geometric wall (if you follow me on Instagram, you'll know that geometric decor is a huge love of mine). My options were to use Frog Tape and paint which did look quite simple but I realised that I'd only be able to have white lines separating each shape - and I am also partial to some copper/rose gold so after scouring the B&Q website, I finally came across the most perfect rose gold metallic geometric wallpaper.

My friend Hannah pointed out on Instagram that this definitely has similarities to the 'Purple Wall' at Epcot (search #purplewall on Instagram if you don't know what I mean) which makes me extremely happy because I'm a huge Disney lover and I'm always up for incorporating some Disney into my house! I personally think it looks perfect with the bargain curtains I got from Home Bargains (only £34.99 for 90x90!) and the TV unit from Ikea.

I'm so pleased with how my house is coming on, it's slow but it's mine and I'll always be so proud of what I've achieved!

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Friday, 26 April 2019


If you've known me for a while now, you'll know that I'm hardly a beauty queen - my skincare routine is questionable, I don't tend to my eyebrows anywhere near as often as I should and it has to be a special occasion for me to wear lipstick. But one thing I do know is that life is definitely better with a tan.

I usually go to the professionals for a spray tan to fulfil my tanning needs but when Skinny Tan asked if I wanted to try their new Wonder Serum I decided to go for it because I'd heard such good things about it. Admittedly I was a little bit nervous applying it because I know that I'm not exactly experienced in self-tanning and I worried that I was going to end up patchy and streaky. Luckily, along with the serum, I was also sent an exfoliating mitt and a tanning mitt which did make the process a heck of a lot easier.

The exfoliating mitt is double sided; the orange side for prepping the skin before application and the brown side is to remove or correct your tan which is especially helpful if you're a little bit out of practice. The dual tanning mitt is honestly the best quality tanning mitt I've ever used; it's silky smooth, thick and durable  whereas other mitts I've used have split within a couple of uses. The Skinny Tan mitt makes application much, much easier. 

The serum itself is a formula I've never come across before; other tans I've used have been in lotions, mousses and sprays so I was really intrigued as to how this one worked. The serum formula, coupled with the tanning mitt, made it so easy to spread the product evenly across my skin and it was so easy to buff in with no worries about it streaking or developing patchy. And it actually has an iridescent finish to it and leaves your skin feeling soft and silky after you've applied. I did read that this is supposed to smell better than other fake tans but honestly once it started developing I didn't get any scent other than the tell-tale biscuit scent that you get with most self-tanners. I don't find it particularly bad but I wouldn't say it smells any better than other self-tanning products.

Now for the before and after pictures; I am naturally quite pale and I don't tan very well in the sun so as you can imagine my legs, without tan, are blindingly pasty:



I'm really impressed with the results. Skinny Tan Wonder Serum gave me a really flawless, soft finish and has meant that I'll be much more confident wearing a summer dress when some of the better weather is here to stay. I generally do feel so much better with a bit of a tan; it makes me much more body confident. I posted a photo to my stories of me applying some new moisturiser to my legs and I was pleased to see that people noticed my tan and asked what I'd used! I do need to perfect my tanning skills because I've not quite got the knack of tanning my feet without it looking weird but I'll be having a look at some YouTube tutorials to help but if you have any tips please send them my way!

You can buy Skinny Tan products from their website as well as Boots and Superdrug.

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GIFTED EXPERIENCE: I was kindly asked to write up my experience at Vue Doncaster in exchange for two complimentary tickets to see Dumbo 

After living somewhere where there isn't a cinema within a 20 mile radius, I feel really lucky to have things like this right on my doorstep now. Kev and I used to use the cinema a LOT more when we first started seeing each other; as you do - the cinema is a typical date type destination isn't it? But we'd not been for a while so it was nice to get out on a week night to do something a little bit different.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the cinema is still an expensive night out but Vue Doncaster have actually now restructured their pricing so that for a regular seat any time, any day of the week it's only £5.49 and it's even cheaper at £4.99 if you book your cinema tickets in advance. This is obviously to drag you away from at-home streaming services which were becoming the more favoured way to watch films. However, for me, the beauty of a cinema visit is that it feels like a treat but rather than it breaking the bank it's now much more affordable (and even more so if you are also signed up to things like Meerkat Movies where you get tickets buy one, get one free). 

I'm sure if you live in Doncaster you'll know that Vue Cinema is near Lakeside and the big Asda off Bawtry Road and you may also be aware that there's loads of new eating places opening just opposite the cinema so now not only do we have Pizza Express, Nando's, Frankie and Benny's and Brewer's Fayre, we're also getting a Taco Bell, Dunkin' Donuts, TGI Friday's, Urban Fresh Burgers and Fries and Estabulo so there'll be plenty to choose from if you like to eat before/after your film.

There are of course snacks available to buy in the cinema which are pretty unmissable as you walk in as you're hit by a huge Ben & Jerry's sign, pick n' mix and the smell of popcorn and nachos which makes it really difficult to resist. I always find that Doncaster Vue is fully staffed so there's never an issue in getting served; even as it was very busy with the release of the new Avengers film there were no huge queues which makes the whole experience so much more relaxing. The one thing I can't resist when I go to the cinema is a mixed Tango Ice Blast and I can never say no to going large (for the marginal difference in price I figure I might as well!).

Once we'd picked up our tickets, we sat down to enjoy the film; we had regular seats but there is an option to upgrade to the VIP seats which are bigger and comfier.

I have to say that Dumbo disappointed me a little bit, I realise I probably had high hopes after the last live action Disney I saw was Beauty and the Beast (where I was an emotional mess throughout) but it was just very underwhelming. Dumbo was cute and there were some excellent visual effects but I just wouldn't rate it unfortunately. I am, however, very much looking forward to seeing the Lion King in July and I fully expect to be an emotional wreck during that!

What's your favourite part of going to the cinema?

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Tuesday, 16 April 2019


I'm no stranger to a good burger and I like to think that I can make a pretty reasoned judgement as to whether a burger is decent; to be honest the moment that any burger serving establishment says something like 'is medium ok for your burger, slightly pink?' you know it's probably going to be good (this is because if it's a frozen, or less meaty burger they'd not be able to serve anything pink - it'd just be grey or nothing.)

We visited Byron Burger in York the other day; I've been before but Kev hasn't and I wanted him to experience it as I really enjoyed the one I had in London (and I had my fingers crossed that they wouldn't disappoint). I'll be honest and say that on first impressions of the interior it's potentially not great; where we were sat near the back the booth seating looked like it had seen better days but I do also think that it's possibly part of the Byron branding - to be more hipster, cool and industrial rather than refined and sophisticated... it is a burger joint after all.





We went in at around 12pm and it quickly started to fill up with customers which is obviously a tell-tale sign of their popularity. As you can probably see from the menu, Byron concentrate on burgers but they do offer beef, chicken or vegan options plus a selection of upgrades to your fries which is something I do like to see on a menu just to be able to switch normal fries for something a bit more exciting.

Both me and Kev went for a B-Rex burger which is a beef patty, an onion ring, bacon, American cheese, jalapeños, pickles, onions, BBQ sauce and mayonnaise. We decided against the jalapeños because neither of us are particularly fond of hot food and although I don't mind jalapeños on nachos, that's about the limit of when I'll eat them. I also changed my normal fries for courgette fries which, if you haven't tried them, are an absolute must I think! I was very tempted to add cheese sauce onto normal fries but courgette fries win every time for me (they're actually one of the main reasons why I like Byron Burger).





Both burgers are obviously photographed before we started eating them and I can confirm that they got a whole lot messier than that, which is another sign of a good burger in my book! They were incredibly juicy and the extra toppings were the perfect combination to make a really, really tasty burger. I particularly enjoy courgette fries; they did leave a little bit of grease in the bottom of the pot but I can deal with that seeing as they didn't taste greasy at all!

I can highly recommend Byron if you're partial to a good burger; the only slightly downside to anyone living up north is that they only have 4 branches north of Birmingham; the one in York, Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool but it's well worth a visit if you're in any one of those cities.

Other amazing burger places up north include Urban Fresh Burgers (Doncaster), Meat Liquor (Leeds) and the Prince of Wales (Sheffield)

Where's your favourite place for a burger?

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Friday, 5 April 2019


Decent fast food style burger chains are still few and far between in my opinion and you'd be forgiven for thinking that all fast food burgers are of similar quality to McDonald's but there's been a huge game changer that's arrived in Doncaster recently and I can't believe I've only just discovered it.

Urban Fresh Burgers and Fries arrived down Wheatley Hall Road in Doncaster offering beef and chicken burgers as well as veggie options served with fries cooked in peanut oil (drooling face emoji). If you're from Doncaster or within driving distance, treat this blog post as a public service announcement - this is the quality of Five Guys but at a fraction of the price. 

A 'regular' burger is actually 2 'patties', with small being just the one. I went for a cheeseburger and Kev went for a bacon cheeseburger 'The Urban Way' which has lettuce, tomato, grilled onions, grilled mushrooms, pickles, mayo, ketchup and mustard. You can, of course, choose your own toppings from a huge list available on the board but The Urban Way is the only way for me. 

Considering these are fresh, premium quality burgers, the prices are so reasonable at £4.95 for a 2 patty cheese burger, the peanut oil fries are £1.95 for a regular portion (which is huge as you'll see further down) and the drinks are £2.95 (which may seem a little steep but they are refillable with a choice of 100+ drinks!). You can have a look at the full menu to find their chicken and veggie options.

Preparing food in front of customers is a real winner for me - you see exactly what's happening with your burgers at each stage of making them and it shows how well and truly fresh everything is! The staff are amazingly efficient at what they do and even at busy times you know they're working as hard as they can to keep your wait time to a minimum.

The whole process from ordering to picking up your food is perfected at Urban, the slight wait gives you chance to decide which drink you're going to choose from the Coke Freestyle machine (the fact that there's one of these in Doncaster is a revelation for me, I'd come here just to use that because I love an extensive drinks choice!)

There's variations of all sorts of different drinks so make sure you set aside a few minutes to browse the endless possibilities (I'd recommend Peach Fanta; Emma from Emma Drew Info recommended it to me and I can wholeheartedly say it's amazing!). 

The burger is what I would describe as a 'dirty burger' and by that I mean that you are not going to come out with clean hands - it's every bit as juicy and amazing as a fresh 100% beef burger should be. The Urban Way toppings go together perfectly and the peanut oil fries are an absolute revelation - you'll never want normal fries ever again! 

To see some amazing photos of their burgers head over to the Urban Facebook page (I don't eat in so by the time I've got mine home the photo just doesn't do it justice at all and you have to believe me that these are the most amazing fast food burgers in Doncaster)! They have additional stores opening at the brand new Lakeside triangle later this year and also one at Rotherham Parkgate - trust me, you need to try this.

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Wednesday, 3 April 2019


Collaborative post

From switching up your colour scheme to introducing statement furnishings, there are a whole host of simple ways to improve your living space and ensure it exudes class, style and sophistication. To help you get the luxe look in your home, here are some quick, easy and surprisingly effective changes that you could make. 

Choose furniture that stands out

You don’t have to completely rethink your furniture to enhance your home interior. By choosing a few new standout pieces, you could overhaul the look and feel of your rooms. For example, why not add an extravagant French-style bed to your boudoir? Perhaps a carved antique-look design made from solid wood would look the part in your bedroom, or maybe a luxuriously upholstered model with an opulent headboard would be a better fit. As the focal point of the room, this piece of furniture will set the tone for the entire space.

To give your lounge a dreamy, decadent feel, have you thought about adding a sumptuous chaise longue? These pieces are all about indulgence. Meanwhile, if you have space in your bathroom, a roll top bathtub could instantly elevate the appearance of this space and create a spa-like vibe.

The key is not to be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. To expand your home décor horizons and find pieces that really wow, it pays to browse home décor magazines and check out the options available on specialist websites such as - and of course Pinterest always comes in handy too!

Supersize your accessories

Oversized accessories can give your rooms the designer look that you'll recognise from the glossy pages of home interior magazines. Something as simple as adding outsized mirrors to your walls can transform the appearance of rooms and make a bold, confident style statement. Go large with your artwork too. Hanging big prints can help to give your spaces a sense of purpose and personality. Geometric shapes and abstract designs work especially well when you’re going for the luxurious look.

Introduce statement lighting

Forget drab fabric ceiling lights. By swapping standard fittings for showstoppers like chandeliers and glass and crystal pendants, you can take your home design up a gear. Make sure you have lots of mood lighting options too. For example, you could add some plinth lights to the bottom of your kitchen cabinets to bathe the floor in a warm glow. Hanging large pendants over kitchen islands or dining tables is another way to up the sense of luxury when it comes to your interior design scheme.

Create feature walls

Don’t be tempted to over complicate your colour scheme. Simple is usually best when you’re trying to create a plush effect throughout your home - and neutrals like calming cream or crisp white can work especially well. But to give your rooms some added flair, you could create feature walls in bold hues such as deep purple, intense red, dark grey or forest green.

To take your feature walls a step further, why not use patterned and textured wallpaper? This tends to work especially well in accent areas such as alcoves or chimney breasts.

Use indulgent fabrics

To truly nail the opulent look, you have to pay attention to the finer details - and this includes making sure you use plenty of indulgent fabrics around your home. For example, you could embellish your bed or couch with cosy faux fur throws and place thick pile rugs on the floors in your lounge and bedroom. It’s also good to add detail to your chairs and sofas with beautifully coloured and textured cushions. Why not go for embroidered designs for that extra touch of sophistication and detail?

These changes don’t take much time or effort, and you might be surprised by how much they can transform your home.

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Saturday, 16 March 2019


I was kindly invited to review Sfinx, this in no way affects the validity of my review.

Romanian food isn't something you'd necessarily come across up north, and it wouldn't be a cuisine that'd be at the forefront of my mind if I was going to pick somewhere to eat but when I was invited to try Sfinx, a Romanian restaurant in Sheffield, I was intrigued as to what it would be like and as you well know I love trying new places to eat in Yorkshire!

When I first asked Kev and we looked at the menu, his first reaction was 'hmm, but are we going to like it?' - there were things on the menu that we'd never heard of before and certainly had never actually tasted but I was determined to try it because I wanted to experience Romanian cuisine.

On arrival we were greeted by the restaurant manager who was one of the most friendly gentlemen I think I've ever met and he quickly explained that we were no different to most British people in that we've never come across Romanian food before and we were pretty much clueless as to what to order so we agreed that we'd try a few different items from the menu to get a full Romanian experience. The atmosphere itself in the restaurant was smart but relaxed; it's clearly a favourite with local families.

The host explained that Romanian food is a bit of a hybrid of different cuisines brought to Romania over the years from Bulgaria, Russia, Austria and Slovakia and most of it had been tweaked with their own blend of herbs and spices. All dishes are homemade in the restaurant so by the time everything had been explained, my initial reservations were gone and I was looking forward to trying some Romanian food. 

I started with a mason jar of their homemade lemonade which was delicious; not overly sweet or sour. They have an amazing selection of wine which we did sample a little bit of and despite the fact I'm not a wine drinker per se, their Moldovan Cabernet Sauvignon was really enjoyable; so smooth (all I could think when he mentioned Moldovan wine was how much Michael Whitehall went on about it on Travels with my Father...)

Then came the starters: homemade bread which was absolutely amazing especially because it was still warm served with a 'Sfinx Sharing Platter' which is devilled egg, aubergine & winter spread,  cabbage roll, salad, pickles and olives. It's my ideal starter because I like little 'picky' bits as starters, especially when it's served with bread. 


My particular favourite was the aubergine spread (the lighter coloured one) which is made from baked aubergines, chopped onions and mayonnaise. It sounds so simple to make and it probably is but it is absolutely beautiful with the homemade bread. 

Cabbage rolls are made with seasoned ground pork, pickled cabbage and bacon, again, they were something I'd never tried before and I did wonder whether they'd be my cup of tea but they were so tasty! I knew I'd like the devilled eggs because eggs are among my favourite food - they're filled with chicken liver pate and in all honesty I could have eaten lots of those! The only part of the sharing platter that we weren't keen on was the pickles on the side but I do think that's purely down to our own personal tastes. 

We spoke to the host and decided that we wanted to try a few different bits from the menu for our main course; we chose Hungarian goulash, Romanian stew and then a selection of Romanian speciality meats served with rosemary potatoes.

The Hungarian goulash is a mildly spiced beef stew, I double checked before we ordered that it wasn't going to be too spicy but the host explained that it was mild, served with a chilli so that customers could make it to their desired level of spice. The beef was so tender and was perfect with the potatoes, paprika and spices. It's one of those meals that just warms you up; a real comfort food. 

Romanian stew is a mixture of chopped pork, chicken breast, Romanian sausages, and mushrooms, blended with rich tomato sauce, served with polenta, fried egg and cheese on top. Polenta isn't something I've ever really tried before but it seems to be a bit of a Romanian alternative to chips and rice. It went really well with this stew in making it into another hearty meal. I preferred the Hungarian goulash whereas Kev preferred the Romanian stew but it was nice for us to be able to try both.

The amount of meat on the platter was quite daunting after we'd eaten so much already but I was determined to try the Mici and pork collar which are two traditional meats eaten in Romania. Mici are minced meat rolls made of a mixture of beef, lamb and pork meat with spices - they are extremely tasty and go really well with the Romanian mustard served on the side. The pork collar also surprised me because I associate pork with being a little bit dry but that's because as Brits we traditionally eat it as chops which is quite a dry meat but the collar was beautifully tender. The rosemary potatoes were something else; despite the fact that I was already full from all the beautiful food we'd eaten, I just kept picking at them because they were so nice!

After giving us 10 minutes for our food to settle, our conversation with the host turned to dessert and we decided that we'd share one because we really wanted to try something but we wouldn't manage one each. 

Papanash is the most traditional Romanian dessert on the menu so naturally we went for that. Don't be put off by the description of them being 'cheese doughnuts' because these are absolutely to die for. The way they're made makes them so light but equally indulgent at the same time; served with cream and wild berries you really have to try this when you visit Sfinx.

I'd recommend Sfinx to anyone in the Sheffield area looking for somewhere new to try; if you let the host know that you're new to the cuisine he'll definitely be able to point you in the right direction but based on my experience if you try nothing else during your visit you absolutely must have the Aubergine spread and papanash... when I visit again I fully plan to try something different from the main menu but they'll remain my choices for starter and dessert!

If you want to take a look at the menu before you go there's a copy on the Sfinx website along with lots of other useful information about location and opening times.

Have you ever tried Romanian cuisine?

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