Recent Posts

La Vache

La Vache

If you’re in the mood for steak frites in Hong Kong look no further than La Vache. This cosy little spot is nestled between a slew of great restaurants on Peel Street and like the others it does not disappoint. If in doubt look for […]

Carnaval Brunch at Uma Nota

Carnaval Brunch at Uma Nota

What do you get when you cross delicious Brazilian-Japanese fusion cuisine, tasty (and might I add, strong) caipirinhas and the sizzling atmosphere of a samba-infused block-party? Answer: Uma Nota’s “Carnaval Brunch”!

Phong Nha, Vietnam – Day 1

Phong Nha, Vietnam – Day 1

Phong Nha Caving Adventure

Have you ever travelled somewhere and fallen in love?

Well that was me with Vietnam – one trip and it captured my heart. The soft swoosh of silk lanterns swaying in the breeze. The babble of market sellers calling to me to buy, smiling in curiosity at my long braids. The tangy sweetness of unripe mango slices, dipped in golden grains of sugar. The tingle of excitement in my spine as I perched precariously on the back of a scooter as it weaved through traffic. Utterly and completely in love I tell you!

So of course when I got a chance to go back to Vietnam I jumped at it. This time, the location was Phong Nha, a sleepy little town in the centre of Vietnam. Until fairly recently not many travellers have ventured that way, most choosing the appeal and excitement of more popular cities like Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi. But now known for some of the largest caves in the world, adventure-seekers have started to trickle in – myself included!

Admittedly, exploring caves is not necessarily my type of trip at all, but life is short and is for living right? Plus Vietnam and I had a love story to continue so I booked those flights…

Day 1 – Friday

Flying Out

5.15am: Up bright and early. Well not so bright – more groggy and begrudging my three hours of sleep, but certainly early. Threw on a simple uniform of denim shorts, a white shirt and trainers – plus a baseball cap to hide my sins. Strolled down to the airport express train – I’d be at the airport in no time… 

7:15am: Panic at the airport! A booking issue meant I couldn’t check in online. Stupid mistake on my part to leave it to that morning, but after rushing around trying to sort it, I had to buy a brand new one-way flight to Ho Chi Minh for an extortionate amount!! Sad times.

8.20am: Onboard the new flight from Hong Kong, with my wallet significantly lighter. It was a two-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh, and we’d have five hours to kill before our connection to Dong Hoi. 

Phong Nha - touchdown

11am: Landed in Ho Chi Minh City and had the most PHENOMINAL food tour! (Post coming soon)

3pm: Back to the airport for our one-hour connection to Dong Hoi. Great chance to sleep off my food coma 😀

Finally in Phong Nha

7pm: Finally arrived at Nguyen Shack in Phong Nha after a one hour drive from Dong Hoi airport. Our home for the weekend was breathtaking! A gorgeous eco-resort with a series of cosy cottages and rooms overlooking a lake (although the dry season meant scarily-low water levels).

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A sea of greens and yellows as far as the eye culd see, and the setting sun gave the entire place a romantic glow.

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Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 2

As we took it all in we were shocked out of our tranquil state by the squeals and grunts of the hotel’s pet pig being playfully tormented by three adorable puppies. It was A LOT of nature, but I smiled to myself as I took it all in – I was ready for Vietnam.

Nguyen Shack Views
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We were shown to our cabins and they are just as natural and charming as you would expect. Made out of wood, it felt like I was inexplicably one with the outdoors. A feeling most people would love, but it made me a little nervous…I was worried that “the outdoors” will get into my cabin! In this case “the outdoors” being snakes. A thorough check of the cabin for them and any other lurkers eased my fears (a little).

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Phong Nha - Nguyen Shack 9
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8.30pm: Dinner time! We opted for barbecue, which involved us doing all the cooking ourselves. Not the best idea for 24 hungry campers – but delicious all the same! Then it was straight to bed as we had a super early start in the morning…

Phong Nha BBQ
A Holi Lot of Colour

A Holi Lot of Colour

You’ve probably come across pictures of people dancing, smiling and covered from top to toe in paint while they celebrate Holi, the Hindu Festival of Colours.

Also known as the Festival of Spring or the Festival of Love, Holi originated in India but is now celebrated all over the world – including in Hong Kong!

A Holi picnic on Lamma Island sounded like a perfect plan for a sunny Sunday afternoon…

Guess Who’s Back…in Hong Kong

Guess Who’s Back…in Hong Kong

So it’s been an exciting couple of months for me… After spending last summer in Hong Kong for a project at work, I got the opportunity to move back to this city for a longer stint and I jumped at the chance! I moved back […]

A Little Treat

A Little Treat

So we ate all of the food at Christmas, drank all of the champagne on New Year’s Eve and rang in the new year with excitement and fervour to be better people. Whether it’s dry January, vegan-uary or just a general healthy kick, it feels like everyone was determined to start the year right!

Three weeks in and I don’t know about you, but January is kicking my ass! 😂 It’s freezing, working full weeks is feeling particularly long, especially as the sun insists on setting before I leave the office.

But hey, it’s still my birthday month, it’s my 2-year blog-iversary soon and it’s nearly pay day! So I’ve decided to treat myself…

For starters a massage and facial are definitely overdue. But I’m starting by treating myself to some fabulous dresses from Quiz Clothing. Their maxi dresses are bomb! This black number just oozes luxury and it’s on sale. Check them out yourself and thank me later 😀

And it gets even better! Check out my Instagram to win yourself a treat of your own…I’ve got one of these dresses to give away but you’ll have to be quick…

5 Podcasts You Need To Listen To

5 Podcasts You Need To Listen To

Something I’ve really gotten into over the past year is podcasts. It’s either the in-thing now for everyone and their dog to have a podcast or it’s just me showing my age, because I’m obsessed! There are so many brilliant podcasts to choose from. Here […]

A Fresh Start

A Fresh Start

Happy New Year lovely people! Hope your 2019 is off to a great start. I myself have had an absolute blast so far – helped greatly by the fact that it’s my birthday!! As each birthday rolls around I find myself getting more and more […]

Meeting Geisha in Kyoto

Meeting Geisha in Kyoto

Kyoto was a pleasant surprise! With only a few days to spend in Japan, the girls and I were determined to make the most of our time there.

We arrived at Kyoto Shinkansen station by bullet train from Tokyo and strolled 10 minutes to our conveniently-located Airbnb. We had rented a traditional Japanese house, with mat flooring, sliding doors, and super-low furniture (I’m talking mattress on the floor low!)

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There would be plenty of time to spend admiring the architecture, but first we had to explore. Our hosts had bikes ready for us so we hopped on and headed straight out. First stop…

Nishiki Market

The bike ride there was only about 20 minutes long but about halfway into our journey it started to drizzle (typical, right?) A quick stop at a 7/11 for four very handy raincoats and we were back on the road. A little hot and bothered and of course there was no escaping the wet feet but we made it intact. Finding somewhere to park the bikes was another adventure but hey, that’s a story for another day.

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Sometimes called Kyoto’s Kitchen, Nishiki Market is a collection of mostly food shops and stalls selling everything from fresh fish to delicious grilled treats. It’s a loooooong road plus quite a few stalls try to entice you with free samples, so by the time you walk from one end to the other I almost guarantee you’ll have a full belly – I certainly did!

 

I had just about the largest shrimp I have ever eaten, some interesting-flavoured ice cream and of course picked up some cute gifts for friends and family back home. There are also quite a few shops selling clothes, skincare products and all sorts nearby so you can till you drop (all those calories ha!)

Definitely a must visit if you’re ever in Kyoto.

Yakiniku-Hiro

You know how I said you’ll have a full belly by the time you’re done at Nishiki Market? well if you press on with the rest of the shopping you’ll have worked up an appetite again and helpfully there’s this AMAZING restaurant nearby. Hiro is chain of Yakinuku restaurants in Kyoto, with one just 5/10 minutes walk from the market.

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Not surprising to find a full house at Hiro

They specialize in grilled wagyu beef and you do the grilling! A hot-plate/grill is set on your table and you choose different cuts of beef to try (and sides if you want). The beef was sublime – tender and flavourful, I didn’t know it was possible for meat to melt in your mouth! I couldn’t recommend it enough.

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Price wise, it was very reasonable too. The meal plus drinks came to roughly £25 each and we were all stuffed. Cycling home after that hearty meal was admittedly not my favourite activity.

Gion

No trip to Kyoto is complete without a visit to Gion, the most popular geisha district in the city. People often say early evening is a popular time to see the geishas as they make their way from one building to another.

Warmed up after our cycle home from the restaurant, we hopped back on our bikes around 11pm and made our way along the canals and winding roads in the cool evening breeze. We had no idea what to expect, but we definitely knew when we arrived. It was like stepping back in time…

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The streets were lined with quaint wooden buildings and restaurants, and it was almost eerily quiet (not surprising given the time of night).

After wandering around for a while, taking in the sights we were content to head on home until a group of geishas emerged from one of the buildings talking and chuckling quietly amongst themselves.

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Till today I still get a big grin across my face when I think about it – I was so excited to see these women, almost preserved in history, with my own eyes! We greeted them with smiles and I shyly asked one if I could take a picture of her. She graciously accepted and posed for me – as I silently willed my DSLR not to let me down. Thankfully it didn’t…

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Best. Night. Ever.

Day 2 in Kyoto coming soon…

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Weekend in Taipei

A Weekend in Taipei

Touchdown in Taipei A weekend in Taipei was just what the doctor ordered. In the couple of months I spent in Hong Kong I wasn’t able to book in as many weekend getaways as I would have liked, so when my friend recommended Taiwan I bit […]

How to take amazing holiday photos – 7 easy tips!

How to take amazing holiday photos – 7 easy tips!

So you’ve booked your flights to whatever slice of paradise is on your bucket list, packed your bags and headed out for some well-deserved R&R. You might be one blurry, off-centre picture away from dumping your boo for his lack of photography skills. Or maybe […]

Things to do in Phuket, Thailand

Things to do in Phuket, Thailand

Living in Hong Kong has been a dream so far! (Check out this post and this one for some Hong Kong highlights). So much so that it’s taken me a whole month to plan a weekend trip to other nearby cities. At the very last-minute, I decided on a weekend break to Phuket in Thailand. Skycanner always has great deals on and a found a hotel easily on Booking.com.

Phuket is an “interesting” city to say the least, but when you visit, here are some things you absolutely need to make sure you tick off your list!

Things to do in Phuket

See the Siam Niramit show

Probably the highlight of my whole trip, Siam Niramit is a colourful, visually stimulating and highly entertaining journey through Thai history. I used the Klook app to book discounted tickets. Transfers + Gold Seats + Buffet Dinner for just over £30 – an absolute steal! (This is basically half price compared to buying direct or through other vendors).

The show is set in its own grounds, and as you arrive you are greeted by performers marching through the halls playing drums and chanting/singing. Not to be outshined, elephants, guided by their keepers, amble past with grinning kids (and adults) on their back. Before the show even starts, you’re treated to a mini performance by the troupe in the outdoor area, followed by a whole parade of dancers in glittering costumes and the elephants of course!

By the time you head into the auditorium for the show to start, you are left wondering what more they could possibly do…and boy-oh-boy, do they deliver! Each scene walks you through a different age and/or kingdom in Thai history, with the most vibrant and elaborate costumes and sets. I was even picked to play a part in one of the sets – my claim to fame for sure. It’s an absolute must-see!

Eat Street Food at Jungceylon

To be clear, Jungceylon is actually a shopping centre (which I didn’t go into so don’t know much about). What you should be asking for specifically is Banzaan Night Market. It’s a collection of outdoor food stalls serving amazing local dishes! Food is super cheap and delicious. It might be best avoided if you have a super-sensitive stomach but otherwise I recommend trying different dishes.

To be honest, you can get street food just about everywhere. In fact you’ll often see locals on motorbikes with a mini-kitchen (complete with hotplates and pots) as the sidecar. They stop and set up shop selling pad thai, roti, pancakes or whatever delicious food they specialise in. And of course, don’t miss out on the fresh fruit – I was completely obsessed with the fresh mango!

Have Lunch “On The Rock”

Enjoy amazing views and delicious food at On The Rock, a gorgeous little restaurant on the edge of Karon Beach. They have a ton of tasty cocktails, the food is exquisite and the ocean is right on the doorstep. I recommend the bang-bang chicken, it’s divine. When you book, ask for a table by the water – you won’t regret it.

It’s quite a romantic spot, so if you’re on bae-cation, definitely one to add to your list. Not to say that you need to be boo’d up to enjoy it though. Head there for lunch so you can fully enjoy the view (and avoid all the couples gazing into each others eyes ha!)

Party on Bangla Road

It’s as simple as this – if you visit Phuket and you don’t have at least one night out on Bangla road, did you even go to Phuket??

So it’s one long road of bars, clubs and all sorts. The all sorts being the immaculately dressed ladyboys looking for customers, half-naked women advertising “European strip shows”, promoters trying to pull customers into “ping-pong shows”. I won’t go into too much detail on that point – all you need to know is it involves all sorts of household items going into or coming out of surprising places.

So if you’re into a more “alternative” scene, Bangla road is definitely the place for you, but they do also have more regular clubs and bars. I really liked the music at Shark Club and Tiger Disco had a pretty good vibe too.

Explore Phuket Town

Phuket Town is the old town of Phuket and is a flood of colourful pastel buildings. I’ll be honest, it doesn’t feel like you’re in Thailand and I really don’t know if that is a good thing. Cute little coffee shops and cafes scream of gentrification, not to mention the souvenir shops full of your typical tourist trinkets. I really hope I don’t sound jaded here but I can’t quite work out my feelings about this part of the island. Regardless I found it very pretty and met a few lovely locals.

And of course, how could I forget the local restaurant where I had the best roti and beef curry I’ve ever tasted!

Get Spiritual at the Big Buddha

The Big Buddha statue is on top of a mountain in the Chalong area of Phuket. Construction has been going on for a few years now but the statue itself is complete and breathtaking! Compared to the bustling, noisy streets of the main town and beach areas, you get to the site and feel almost overwhelmed by the near-silence. It’s sort of eerily quiet even with the crowds of people who flock there.

The first thing you should note is that it is a sacred/religious site so be sure to be respectful and not rock up in beachwear or some ashawo-shorts. (In case you missed it, I mentioned this in my post about surviving Phuket as a tourist, read it here). To be honest, even if you go under-dressed, they have sarongs you can use to cover up.

You can walk through the temple even though it’s under construction. In fact, you can donate a tile to be used in the construction. What’s also great is you can stop to pray or meditate in the temple. Depending on the time, you might also meet the monks prayers and hear them chanting. And finally the view! Given you are so high up you get a 360 degree of basically the whole island. What’s not to love?!

These are my top picks  of things to do in Phuket but I’m sure there are loads more amazing spots that haven’t made it to my list. Where else in Phuket would you recommend? Share in the comments below!

Til next time,
Lou xx

5 Tips for Surviving Phuket as a Tourist

5 Tips for Surviving Phuket as a Tourist

Phuket is a beautiful island, with gorgeous beaches, a crazy nightlife and everything in between to make for an entertaining trip. For this reason millions of tourists flock there each year, and the locals take full advantage. So what can you do to navigate the […]

Hong Kong Living – One Month In

Hong Kong Living – One Month In

Musings and recommendations one month in to living in Hong Kong…

Repulse Bay

Repulse Bay

My second weekend in Hong Kong and it rained THE WHOLE TIME! On the plus side, even though it’s super-rainy the temperatures are still pretty high so I donned my summer dress, popped an umbrella into my basket bag and headed to Repulse Bay.

Repulse Bay is a gorgeous area with restaurants, shops and a winding promenade along the beach. All that and it’s only a 15/20 minute taxi ride from Causeway Bay. There are also several buses that go straight there, making it very accessible.

The rain came down hard almost immediately after we set off in the taxi, but unfazed, we alighted and headed straight to a seafood restaurant called Limewood for some lunch. What better way to pass the time, right?

They had this “jerked coconut corn”, which was just divine! Coconut is not a particular favourite of mine but it worked really well with the corn. It was sweet and slightly salty all at once, defintiely a must-try.

An interesting take on plantain – unripe plantain, battered, fried and sprinkled in cinnamon.

Deep fried, thai-style snapper fish. I rarely (and by rarely, I mean never) eat whole fish but this was delicious. A creative take on battered fish – well-presented and tasty!

A yummy salad and some wings on the side too…

By the time we finished lunch the weather had improved so we strolled along the promenade, stopping to see the Tin Hau temple and the Kwun Yam shrine.

As soon as we figured that we had done enough walking to atone for our delicious lunch, it was time to head home. Great memories from an afternoon very well spent!

Moving to Hong Kong!

Moving to Hong Kong!

Hi guys, I know it’s been a hot minute since my last post. Let’s just say life has been craaaazy: working stupid hours, moving to Hong Kong, a whole new city, and still trying to live my best life! I’m writing this from my cute […]

A Weekend in Mykonos – Boat Tour

A Weekend in Mykonos – Boat Tour

Mykonos Day 2: Boat Tour After two days spent on the beach and exploring Mykonos, we were keen to make the most of our last day on the island. What better to do than a boat tour? It would be a full day of touring, […]

A Weekend in Mykonos – Exploring the Island

A Weekend in Mykonos – Exploring the Island

Mykonos Day 2: Exploring the Island

So you’ve read all about the first day of our Mykonos adventures (if not, read it here). After getting home at 6am – and wolfing down a gyros before going to bed, no less – we didn’t get up till 3pm!

There was no way we were going to waste the rest of the day though. By 5pm we were dressed and had rented a car to explore some of the island…

Old Town

Our first stop was the Old Town. Although we had seen it the night before, I was keen to look around in the daytime.

Passing by a few stores to pick out souvenirs to take home…

…And I had to get a crepe, of course. Trio Bambini has some of the best crepes I have ever tasted!

A few more minutes spent exploring before we headed back to the car to drive to our next stop…

Armenistis Lighthouse

The 25-minute drive to Armenistis Lighthouse was no joke, the island is basically a series of rocky hills so you find yourself driving down winding roads that are at times both incredibly steep and very narrow. The views as we headed up higher and further north more than made up for it though.

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As we (finally) approached the clearing in front of the lighthouse, it was well worth the drive! Set against the stark, almost bleak landscape, the lighthouse jutted out – literally a beacon in the day.

Although the wind was unrelenting, it could not deter us from climbing out onto some rocks to take in the view. And what a stunning view it was!

In good spirits, although somewhat windswept, we trooped back to the car to make our final few stops before the sun went down…

Ano Mera and More…

Next on our route was the village of Ano Mera. A few of the locals we met on Saturday had suggested we stop by Ano Mera to get a better idea of the truest form of life on the island. It seemed to be a simple, sleepy but thoroughly chaming village. Kids were playing outside – chasing footballs, some in a game of hide and seek. It was almost like going back in time, and as we walked around it was as if time melted away.

Our drive continued, and we stopped at a couple of coastal beaches as the sun started to set.

The final stop on our route was at the infamous Scorpios, one of the island’s hotspots where the elite and “beautiful people” mingle. I can’t say much – I absolutely loved the vibe but not the music! (EDM is not for me haha).

Finally it was time to shimmy on home, we stopped for dinner at a charming restaurant a few doors down from our apartment before calling it a night. Not bad for a day which started at five in the afternoon, right?

We hit the sack, excited for our last day in Mykonos – a boat tour!

 

 

A Weekend in Mykonos – Super Paradise

A Weekend in Mykonos – Super Paradise

Mykonos Day 1: Super Paradise Mykonos, a charming Greek island sprawled across rocky hills, where better to catch some sun and sea? I landed at noon on Saturday, the two-hour time difference belying the fact that I had left home for the airport at the […]

Hiking Lion’s Head, Cape Town

Hiking Lion’s Head, Cape Town

If you’ve been to Cape Town you will have no doubt have appreciated the dramatic skyline of Table Mountain. With the option of taking a cable car to the summit, hiking up is not necessarily at the forefront of most people’s minds. For me though, […]

Exploring Bo Kaap, Cape Town

Exploring Bo Kaap, Cape Town

Bo Kaap is one of the most recognisable backdrops in Cape Town. The brilliant hues of the houses are an incredible sight and you can’t help but smile!

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I was out in Cape Town for a wedding – yes another one! This time, my friends Jumi and Tunde (#JumiToons woooooooooo!) and it was soooooo muuuuuuuch fuuuuuun. I met some amazing people, including my little “Cape Town Crew” – we were basically joined at the hip.

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From L-R: Ayomide, DJ Skillz (aka Your Girlfriend’s Favourite DJ aka DJ of lifeeeeee! :D), Korede, Yewande and Victoria. I, of course, was behind the camera

So Bo Kaap was historically a predominantly Muslim area, referred to by some as Cape Malay Quarter due to the heritage of the original residents.

There are a few versions of the reason behind the brightly coloured houses: some say the residents painted their houses to mark the end of Apartheid and celebrate their freedom.

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Walking through the pretty streets, no doubt you’ll come across locals and tourists alike, going about their business, or with cameras snapping away in front of the brightly-coloured walls. We were no exception.

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We wandered through the streets at snail pace, stopping for literally millions of pictures…”hello, ANTM”

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Reallifewithlou.com - Bo Kaap-18Soon we were craving a cold drink and some food. All that picture-taking is hard work you know!

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We ambled towards the cool shade of Marcos African restaurant for a (semi-) traditional lunch.

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They have all sorts of local game on the menu, a great test of how adventurous we were feeling. An easy choice was the “Pan-Africa platter” which has Springbok, Ostrich and Kudu. The Springbok especially was absolutely delicious!

A not-so-easy choice was the chicken hearts and livers – I won’t go into too much detail but you have to be open-minded, right?

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Bellies full, it was a casual stroll back to our apartments, happily recounting the highlights of the afternoon.

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On to the next adventure!

5 Must-See Spots in Rome

5 Must-See Spots in Rome

If you’re looking for a great city break, Rome is a great option. Beautiful architecture, rich culture and delicious food – what more could you want! There was just too much to see (and eat) so I decided to do two separate posts. In this […]

Canova Hall, Brixton

Canova Hall, Brixton

I haven’t spent  much time in Brixton but my friend Lauren is constantly raving about it, so when she suggested brunch at Canova Hall, I jumped at the opportunity. The first thing you notice when you walk into Canova Hall is how (surprisingly) big the […]

Birthday Behaviour at The Four Seasons, Marrakech

Birthday Behaviour at The Four Seasons, Marrakech

After what felt like the rainiest weekend in Marrakech, my friends and I had made the absolute best of the trip so far, but I for one was very pleased to see the sun come out on my birthday!

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We checked out of our Riad and headed out to see the Jardin Majorelle. Got there and *plot twist* the queue was down the block! #aintnobodygottimefordat! We headed straight to the Four Seasons for lunch instead.

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Those guys don’t play, the vibes, the views and the service were all amazing!

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We had a table in Inara, one of three restaurants on the property. We considered sitting out in the sun on their lovely terrace but figured we shouldn’t tempt fate. We needn’t have worried though, the sun stayed high in the sky.

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As we were seated we didn’t waste time ordering our lunch, so much to choose from…and of course the pressure of it being our last proper meal before leaving Marrakech.

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I chose the fresh prawn rolls with peanut sauce, but it was Sareena and Tee’s spinach, goat cheese and cherry tomato quiches that stole the show…and of course they would not shut up about it!

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We all went for a more traditional main, which was pretty good but definitely not mind-blowing.

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The highlight though was my surprise birthday cake! The girls had arranged with the hotel to get me a small chocolate cake which was just delicious!! There’s something about the word “birthday” that transforms any cake into the real deal! I was so pleased!

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Our waiters joined in to sing happy birthday too!Reallifewithlou.com - Marrakesh-423

Well fed and very pleased with ourselves we finally said goodbye to the Four Seasons and headed back to the medina to grab our bags and head home! What a great end to a fabulous trip.

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I guess you could say we truly experienced all four seasons on this trip (literally!)

Weekend Vibes: The Seyi Bag by Joko Edu

Weekend Vibes: The Seyi Bag by Joko Edu

If you don’t know Joko Edu, you need to know! A Nigerian designer based in Lagos , her fabulous bags come in many different colours and styles but the Seyi is my absolute favourite. They are available off the shelf or can be personalised to your taste.

Top 5 Tips for a Rainy Marrakech

Top 5 Tips for a Rainy Marrakech

Marrakech has been on my bucket list for ages now, so for my birthday this year I was determined to make it out there. With three friends I booked flights for a long weekend away, but as luck would have it the weather was not on […]

One Year Old!

One Year Old!

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Can you believe Real Life With Lou is a year old?! One whole year since I started this blog and it’s been a blast!

It took me so long to get the balls to finally start it. For the longest time I umm-ed and ahh-ed about whether or not to do it – would anybody read it? would I have the time? would I be any good at it?

It’s so easy to get stuck in our heads and over-analyse instead of just leaping. This year I am determined to leap more and take action.

What are you going to do more in 2018?

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Top: ASOS | Jeans: Zara | Shoes: Gucci | Jacket: Ted Baker | Bag: Joko Edu

 

 

 

 

 

 

Feeling Blue

Feeling Blue

Hi Lovelies! I know it’s been a minute since I posted. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind with my birthday, trip to Morocco, work and the highlight – my close friend’s baby shower! Knowing that she’s having a baby boy we chose blue as […]

Brunch at Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings

Brunch at Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings

By now you must know I love my girlie catch ups over brunch. I was super excited to catch up with my friend Bambo after so long and where better than Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings? We had heard great things about B&H Buildings: Instagram-worthy décor, […]

6 Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

6 Last-Minute Christmas Gift Ideas

Can you believe it’s nearly Christmas already?! If like me you’ve left your Christmas shopping to the very last minute then don’t worry, I’ve got you. Here are 12 last minute Christmas gift ideas to give you some inspiration. You can thank me later!

  1. Canvas or Wall Mural

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    If you’re looking for a unique Christmas present this year, why not give a gorgeous canvas or an interesting wall mural? Photowall.co.uk has some amazing designs and you can even upload your own picture to make a cool framed print or special wallpaper. In addition you get an additional 20% off with the code RLWLCampaign2017, which is valid for 30 days!

    For example, this world map would make a great gift for someone who loves to travel, or how about this  sea-themed mural for your favourite niece or nephew.

    Price: from £26/m for murals, £38 for canvases
    Perfect for: The Traveller, The Little Sailor, Pretty Much Anyone

  2. Natural Hair Care Set

    Cantu
    Now all my curly-haired girls (and guys maybe) know how hard it can be to find great products for natural hair. So better believe they’ll love you forever for this gift. The Cantu Natural Set   is an easy choice. Known for taming and priming curls, Cantu has taken the natural hair world by storm and is a great gift for any natural/curly-haired friends or family. It also smells great!

    Price: £25.99
    Perfect for: Curly-Haired Guys and Gals, The Melanin Queen

  3. Kitchen Gadgets from Uutensil

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    We all know that one person that’s an absolute whizz in the kitchen. Whipping up a seven-course meal like it’s nothing, all the while looking cool and glamorous.

    On the other hand, there’s the one that loves to try to cook (key word here being “try”). Experimenting with all sorts of gourmet dishes but getting more points for effort than actual taste.

    Well never fear, Uutensil  has all the out of the box but insanely useful kitchen gadgets you can think of. From the automatic stirrer (which I have)  to the “squish”, a combined garlic crusher and ginger grater, there’s something for everyone.

    Price: £5.99 – £27.99
    Perfect for: The Kitchen God/Goddess, The Wannabe Chef, The Kitchen Burner Downer

  4. Taotronics wireless headphones

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    I can’t recommend these wireless headphones enough! It’s always a struggle to find well-priced headphones with decent sound quality. Now add that to the fact that they pair with your device over Bluetooth, sit comfortably in even the most oddly-shaped ears and even have a magnetic clip on the back of each ear pod so they fasten around your neck when not in use. What’s not to love?!

    Price: £25.99
    Perfect for: The Runner, The Friend That Never Stops Dancing

  5. Yogasphere Classes
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    Yogasphere offers yoga classes across numerous London locations including at The Shard. Not sold yet? They also do yoga brunches and yoga retreats to suitably exotic destinations like Bali. Definitely on the pricier side, this is probably a gift to reserve for your inner circle but it’s certainly something a bit different… and even better if you get to go along too!

    Price: Various (currently 5 passes for £30 for new joiners)
    Perfect for: Someone Special, The Yogi, The Fit Freak, The Friend With A Million New Year’s Resolutions

  6. Weekend Bag

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    A stylish weekend bag is always a necessity. Why not get this classic Ted Baker holdall for the special man in your life? (Yes, I’m sure your brother is very special too!) Plus, once they have the perfect going away bag, maybe they’ll finally get around to taking you to that spa hotel you’ve been eyeing up!

    Price: £99
    Perfect for: The Gentleman, The Traveller

3 Great Destinations for Winter Sun

3 Great Destinations for Winter Sun

Hi Lovelies, hope you’ve all had a great week! I’m counting down to Christmas like no man’s business. It’s been ridiculously cold in London in the past couple of weeks so I’ve been dreaming of the perfect winter getaway. Here are a few of my […]

A Sunday Dance Party

A Sunday Dance Party

Hi Lovelies! So remember in my post about Duck & Waffle Local I mentioned that I was headed to a dance class with my girls? Well “dance class” doesn’t even cover it, it was more like a dance PARTY! Scroll all the way down for […]

Duck & Waffle Local

Duck & Waffle Local

Hi Lovelies! I don’t know you’re as obsessed with Duck & Waffle as I am, but did you know there was a second branch?! Okay let’s start from scratch in case you’re wondering wtf I’m talking about. Duck & Waffle is the bombdiggity.com. Period. A restaurant on the 40th floor of Heron Tower near Liverpool street, it boasts views to die for and serves interestingly paired foods such as, you guessed it, duck with waffles.

Strange as it may sound, if you’ve ever had American chicken and waffles, or even crispy duck pancakes at a Chinese restaurant, your taste buds have been preparing you for this all your life! Okay I’ll dial it back, but seriously, duck and waffle is a thing and it works! The restaurant serves other strange-sounding but delicious combinations, like bacon-wrapped dates and ox-cheek doughnuts. So combine the amazing views with the genius menu and you’re left with a restaurant that’s fully booked for brunch months in advance. They do open 24/7 so if you fancy a 5am meal then why not? (I had a 2am reservation there just last weekend in fact.)

Now imagine my joy when I found out about their second branch, named Duck & Waffle Local. A stone’s throw from Piccadilly Circus station, it was a great spot for a last-minute brunch with friends. We had a dance class right across the street (details coming soon) and wanted to catch up before heading over.

The classics were there: the famous duck and waffle, rosemary fries. What more could we ask for?

And the decor, bright and pretty spacious; admittedly, it would never beat the views of the HQ but it still made for great vibes. Definitely worth checking out if you have a hankering for an atypical, last-minute brunch.

Have you been to Duck & Waffle Local? Let me know what you thought of it in the comments below.

A Little Mustard

A Little Mustard

Hi Lovelies! If you follow me on Instagram you’ll see that I have been obsessing over the autumn weather and recently shared this outfit on my feed. I wear a lot of black, especially in the winter, but occasionally I’m partial to a pop of […]

How Do You Afford To Travel So Much??

How Do You Afford To Travel So Much??

Today’s post is a bit of a different one to normal. Rather than my usual adventures, I wanted to address a question I get asked quite a lot: How Do You Afford To Travel So Much? By no means am I professing to be some […]

Autumn in The City

Autumn in The City

It feels good to be back home in London, after spending most of the summer away. In case you missed it, check out  my adventures in San Diego and Lisbon. Now it’s back to reality and as much as I never thought I’d say this – I freaking LOVE autumn! From the crispness in the air and leaves turning brown, to fabulous autumn fashion – what’s not to love?

What I love most about autumn fashion is the layers. If you’re the type that’s always cold, you can jump straight in with the sweaters, thick coats and boots. But if like me, you’re constantly too warm, you can pair your summer clothes with jeans and mix in simple pieces like capes and shawls.

What are your favourite autumn pieces?

Reallifewithlou.com - Autumn in the City-2Shawl (Vero Moda)| Hat (ASOS)| Boots (New Look) | Bag (Kate Spade)|
Jeans (Zara)| Top (similar)

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Delicious Pancakes At Delisserie

Delicious Pancakes At Delisserie

Happy hump day people! Hope you’re having a good week. For me, it’s my last week before I go back to work so I’m mentally preparing for having more structure to my days. But in the meanwhile I’m slowly getting back to my normal (read: fabulous) […]

3 Places to Try in Little Italy, San Diego

3 Places to Try in Little Italy, San Diego

If you’ve been following my blog or my Instagram stories, you’ll know I took some time off to travel and spent some time in the US. San Diego was my first stop, and I spent a gorgeous afternoon in Coronado (check out the post here, in […]

An Afternoon in Coronado

An Afternoon in Coronado

Over the summer I managed to wrangle quite a bit of time off work to do some exploring. My first stop was Portugal (in case you missed it, check out 5 Reason to love Lisbon and this amazing Portuguese steakhouse). After a quick stop in Nigeria for a friend’s wedding, I was on a flight to the US. First on the list was San Diego in sunny California! And of course I just had to check out beautiful Coronado.

I drove over the iconic Coronado bridge and took in the amazing views over the water. It was a sunny, clear day – as you would expect in California so you could see for miles and miles. Of course as I was driving I wasn’t able to take pictures so you’ll just gave to take my word for it haha!

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I headed straight to the Hotel del Coronado, probably the most iconic spot in the area. I parked up and left the car to  explore the hotel and the sunny palm tree-lined streets.

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A cheeky peek into the hotel and I was surprised to find it decorated quite traditionally, with rich, dark wood lining the walls leading to a maze of small gift shops and the like.

I found myself missing the bright sunshine so I quickly headed back outside through the back of the hotel. You can walk along the beach behind the hotel, so I did just that.

There were gorgeous villas and a couple of restaurants and cafes to grab a bite.

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There was even a proper lounge area right on the sand!

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Before long I stopped at one of the hotel’s beachfront restaurants, Sun Deck Bar & Grill, for a spot of lunch. Recently I’ve really had a thing for lobster (clearly I’m a classy gal haha!) So of course I just had to order a lobster roll…

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The garlic fries were out of this world!

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I wolfed down my lunch in record time and continued my walk towards the marina. What a sight – beautiful, mirror-like waters! I sat for a while enjoying the view but too soon it was time to head off.

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The afternoon just flew by! Next on the list was Little Italy in San Diego for drinks with my friend Nat. Post coming soon…

Have you been to Coronado? Please tell me I’m not the only one obsessed with this little slice of heaven! As usual, let me know in the comments below.

Chat soon,
Lou xx

Guest Post: Gantry Plaza State Park, NYC

Guest Post: Gantry Plaza State Park, NYC

Hi Lovelies! Hope you’ve all had a great week. I’ve had a restful one recovering from my eye surgery and meeting my friend’s newborn baby boy. He’s adorable and I’m absolutely obsessed! As you might know, I was out in New York a few weeks […]

5 Reasons to Love Lisbon!

5 Reasons to Love Lisbon!

Oh Lisbon! What a beautiful city. I booked a trip there on a spur of the moment. I had taken time off work and was determined to squeeze in a quick trip before travelling to Nigeria for my friend’s wedding. Monday morning I was up […]

Brunch at Pavilion, Victoria Park

Brunch at Pavilion, Victoria Park

Hi lovelies!

Today I’m going to tell you all about this amazing little spot in Victoria Park, Stratford called Pavilion Cafe. Living in the east end of London myself, I’m always on the lookout for new brunch spots close to home. So when my friend Ahmad suggested this little place overlooking a pond in nearby Stratford, I jumped at the chance to try it out.

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Being in the middle of my extended leave from work before my eye operation, I was glad for the chance to have brunch on a weekday morning when it wouldn’t be too busy. We arranged for noon on a Thursday.

To start with, Victoria Park is just lovely! I haven’t spent much time there but have done a couple of 5K runs around the park in the last few years. There were joggers, people with families, couples strolling – all just lovely really. And in the middle of it or was this little round building overlooking a pond.

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By the time I got there Ahmad was already waiting – surprise, surprise (African time is real guys haha). Looking around the room I was pleased by the warm and cosy vibe of the wooden tables and counter that surrounded the round room. Most impressive were the large windows and skylight in the ceiling that brightened the room and made it seem much bigger than it actually was. Clearly here simplicity was key, and it suited it to a tee.

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We both went up to the counter to order. Ahmad chose the vegetarian breakfast (don’t bring that near me LOL) and I had the eggs Royale. We sat inside as it was windy as hell outside and I wasn’t ready to lose my breakfast. Food arrived in no time alongside large cups of tea, and we wolfed our meals down as we caught up.

I have to say deciding on a meal was pretty simple as their menu is not particularly expensive, but I was pretty satisfied with my breakfast and Ahmad with his.

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Once we had finished, we moved outside to sit overlooking the water – it was so peaceful! I personally love being near the water so I couldn’t have been happier, although I was a bit worried I would drop my phone in haha.

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All in all, it was a lovely little cafe. I would definitely recommend it for a quiet brunch on a Saturday morning. Although I do get the impression it might get crazy busy at the weekend.

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My rating – 7/10

Hope you enjoyed this post. What are some other good brunch spots to try in London? Let me know in the comments below. My current favourite is still Christoper’s (check out my post about Brunch at Christopher’s)

Chat soon,
Lou xx

3 Reasons You Should Travel Solo

3 Reasons You Should Travel Solo

The past couple of months have been crazy! I really needed some time to clear my head, so what did I do? – I booked a solo trip…or three 😀 A lot of my friends thought I was crazy but I promise you it was […]

All White in Croatia

All White in Croatia

Hi Lovely People! Hope you’re having a great week 🙂 I’m sure you saw my post about my trip to Dubrovnik in Croatia, if not check it out. I decided on an all white wardrobe (or mostly white, I should say) for this trip…because why […]

A Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik

A Game of Thrones in Dubrovnik

If you saw my previous post about my Day Trip to Montenegro you’ll remember I mentioned that my friend Nono came to visit, and we went on a girls’ trip to Dubrovnik in Croatia.

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We got there on a Wednesday morning, dropped our bags at the hotel and headed straight out to see the city. A quick Uber ride later and we found ourselves at the gates of the Old Town. It was a magnificent sight! High walls surround it, and you can climb up to the top of the walls to get a view of the whole city.

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The Old Town

We wandered through the Old Town marvelling at the beauty of the tiled streets. Dozens of charming little restaurants lined the steps and we had to grin and politely decline their eager hosts as we ducked through the crowds in the heat.

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Ah, that is one thing to mention – it was H. O. T! I think because of the limestone, the heat from the sun is reflected througsh the town. I was literally melting so was very glad when we got to the dock as the breeze from the water made things a lot cooler.