The Best Comfort Food in South East London!

Hey Guys,

I was recently invited to try 3 courses from the dinner menu at The Great Southern pub and kitchen. Set right next to Gipsy Hill station in South East London, this "posh pub" as I like to affectionately call it, serves some of the best comfort food!

*This was a press invite, but all views are honest and my own.*

The Great Southern recently underwent renovations and it's looking great! There is a lounge/sofa area set around a fireplace, complete with an evening DJ booth and a large mounted tv for sports viewing. There is also a lovely outdoor garden and seating area for alfresco dining during sunny evenings.

There was a great cocktail menu available that was reasonably priced along with a huge selection of spirits for mixers and the usual wine list. I went for a classic Pornstar Martini to start with, then a large Pimms a little later. They were very accommodating and adapted an alcoholic cocktail to be non-alcoholic for my partner, who doesn't drink.

I found it hard to choose between starters, as there were a few that caught my eye - the mac 'n' cheese bites and sausage rolls both nearly made it to our table, but in the end we went for the “poppin' chicken with cajun mayo” and the “bread & oils”. All the starters were under £4, which I thought was amazing! The chicken bites were well seasoned, whilst my partner tells me that the bread and oils were tasty, but perhaps lacked a more interesting variety in bread options.

For our main course, I couldn't say no to the pub classic - steak & ale pie, with chips instead of mashed potato! My partner went for the spicy bbq chicken with jalapeño peppers and caramelised onion pizza. It was all extremely fresh and the portion sizes were generous.

By this point, we were both stuffed, but the dessert menu looked so good, we couldn't resist a sweet bite! As I mentioned, The Great Southern knows how to do comfort food, and the dessert menu was no exception! I loved the brownie, though my personal preference would have had it a little warmer and gooier. Sean's New York-style, baked cheesecake was delish and he chose well to pair it with the berry sauce!

Thank you so much to The Great Southern for having us. If you are local to Gipsy Hill or Crystal Palace (or visiting soon) and looking for a hearty meal, The Great Southern is your place! (and they do a pub quiz apparently - I know where I'll be next Monday!)

What's your favourite thing to order on a pub menu?

Eb x

High Tea on England's Highest Mountain

Hey Guys,

It is not everyday I am offered the chance to dine at the summit of England's highest mountain. In fact, it's never! So when an email popped into my inbox from NOVELTEA and The Florist, with an invite to do just that, how could I say no? I am an avid afternoon tea lover and have written many posts on my blog about different experiences I have had, but I can assure you, none will compare to this National Afternoon Tea Week adventure!

It was a Sunday morning when my best friend Naomi and I set off for Seascale, in the Lake District. Three trains from London Euston later, and we finally arrived to the Gosforth Hall Inn, a lovely hotel nestled in the small village of Gosforth, just at the base of Scafell Pike. We were to tackle Scafell the following day, so for this evening, it was down to the local for a Roast Dinner and to get to know the other invitee's!

6am on Monday morning seemed to roll around pretty swiftly. We packed up our kit; including essentials like boiled sweets, waterproof phone case and my vlogging camera (check out the vlog on my YouTube channel!) After a quick briefing from our wonderful guides from ...... and final toilet break, it was time to begin...
I wasn't really sure what to expect of the hike. I haven't been on a hike since 2015 in California and the weather was certainly miles from the LA sun! We were met with lots of rain that made sure the first hour or so was soaking wet. We pushed through, stopping every now and again to catch our breath and have a sip of water. My hotel breakfast (full English-why did I do that?) sloshed around in my stomach, insuring I had the trifecta of medical problems - funny tummy, shortness of breath and achy legs!
Although I believed whole-heartedly that I wouldn't make it to the top, I set aside my own negative thinking and pushed through to the peak. And it was so worth it! We were greeted onto the summit with a cup of warm NOVELTEA and a High Tea feast provided by The Florist team (yes they had carried this set-up all the way to the top!)

The Florist are celebrating their new Asian-inspired menu consisting of sushi, bao buns, popadoms, guacamole, donut bites and more!
All this washed down perfectly with the delicious alcoholic tea's from NOVELTEA. I really loved it warm like a tea and cold like a cocktail. My favourite flavour is probably the whiskey to have warm and the gin for cold. 

Huge thank you to NOVELTEA, The Florist and Twist Marketing for this unforgettable experience! Make sure to head down to your nearest The Florist restaurant to enjoy this amazing High Tea menu paired with NOVELTEA, for yourself!
Where is the most impressive place you have had High or Afternoon Tea?

Eb x

Afternoon Tea on a London Bus!

Hey Guys,

This month, I have been celebrating the lead-up to Afternoon Tea Week here in the UK. From climbing the highest mountain in England and tucking into High Tea at the peak, to a sweet afternoon tea on-board a traditional London Routemaster bus!

I remember hearing about B Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus a little over a year ago, when a friend had visited and said it was great! I teamed up with Red Letter Days, who kindly gifted this experience to me. Here's what they say: 

"Experience one of the most unique afternoon teas on offer in the capital with a fantastic afternoon tea bus tour around central London. Board the B Bakery vintage 1960's Routemaster bus, sip on a freshly brewed cup of tea and sample exquisite treats as the driver takes you around the heart of the city, taking in historical sites including Big Ben and Nelson's column and experiencing the city's culture at Notting Hill, South Kensington and Trafalgar Square! The friendly staff will be on hand too, to answer any questions you might have, whilst they present you with an array of tasty sandwiches and savoury bites, decadent high tea pastries, crafted with French flavours like the trop chou and summer verrine, and of course, perhaps the staple of afternoon tea - scones topped with lashings of clotted cream and strawberry preserves. A bus tour is the perfect way to capture the heart of the city while you treat yourself!"

Sounds dreamy right?

The experience was as dreamy as it sounds. We were whisked around the capital, sipping tea and doing our best royal waves to everyone we passed! I fell in love with the small, pink cupcakes and we were even allowed to take any leftovers home. We also got to keep the hot drinks cup as an additional souvenir. 
Make sure when booking, to specify if you would like to be upstairs or downstairs. Unfortunately, I didn't do this and we were left downstairs, which I imagine was not as nice a view. However, the plus side, was that it was very quiet, with just myself and my partner and two other girls. Whilst upstairs was a lot louder and busier, with young children. Something to bare in mind. 
Overall, it was a fantastic couple of hours doing something I love, in a very unusual setting. Thank you so much to Red Letter Days for working with me on this post! You can book your own Afternoon Tea Bus experience here.

 Eb x

images by Eboni and Sean Joseph Young

My Top 5 Photography Tips for Bloggers

Hey Guys,

Last week, I was invited by HP, to attend a photography workshop led by the brilliant Adam Karnacz of First Man Photography. Adam is an extremely talented landscape photographer with his own YouTube channel. He spoke to us about the difference between “snapshots” and “photographs” and even lent his expertise to us with his own top tips for great photography. I used what I had learnt from the workshop and created my own tips, specific to bloggers. So I hope you find this useful!
HP were very generous and I was able to walk away with a HP Pavillion 15 to use for the week! I was excited to head to Kew Gardens, to create some amazing content that I could then edit on the Pavillion. I edited all the images for this blog post using Lightroom on the Pavillion 15. It was perfect for keeping up with the demanding tasks without slowing down and the picture quality was extremely high! This is down to it's graphic options (up to NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 1050Ti graphics.) HP says: "These high-end graphics give your biggest, graphically demanding projects and multimedia experiences a boost in detail with 1080p and game without experiencing any slowdowns, hiccups, or stuttering."

*This is a sponsored post in collaboration with HP. All images were edited using Lightroom Classic on the HP Pavilion 15 – a laptop boasting state-of-the-art NVIDIA technology that allows creators to perform at their best.*

My Top 5 Photography Tips for Bloggers

1. Composing 
One of the most interesting lessons we learned from Adam was the “rule of thirds”. This is a common photography rule that uses science to create the perfect composition. You can read more about the rule of thirds here, but it is basically a method you can apply to photos to make them more pleasing to the eye. This can be done by the photographer, or your final image can be cropped in editing to abide by the rule. 

Composing blog photos can be tricky and entirely dependant on your personal style and what you are trying to feature. For example, a fashion blogger may want to feature an object like a bag. If it is a bag you are featuring, you may want to draw attention away from your face and onto the bag. You can do this with angles and a good blurry background, or also by placing the bag onto one of the “rule of thirds” lines. This could also apply to product photography too. For example, beauty bloggers who would like to feature a few products. I find that in my personal experience, odd numbers of products always work better in images.  
2. Background 
The background of your images is really important. It can make or break a good photo, so it is definitely worth paying attention to. Clean, plain coloured backgrounds are simple and easy. Phone pictures are usually great on plain wall backdrops. In this case, camera angles are fun to play around with if you want to add an interesting element to your photo. I would suggest the photographer getting nice and low to create angles. 

I personally prefer a busier backdrop. For example, a lovely building or floral archway. When using a lens such as the 50mm or 35mm, you can really play with depth of field and creating great “bokeh”. I love a good blurry background! In contrast, should you wish to take in an entire building alongside your model/blogger, fixed, or “prime” lenses aren’t usually too great and you’d be better off with your kit lens, a wide lens or a phone. This type of image can be seen a lot in travel blogger’s content, where they have managed to fit themselves in alongside a wonderful, wide view of a lake or sea or historical building or landmark!

3. Lighting 
My favourite styles of photography use natural lighting. This can be outdoors or indoors; you can’t beat the sun’s natural rays to light a photo! With changing lighting comes changes in camera settings and it may take a little time getting used to when finding the correct settings for your lighting. You can read more about how to set up your camera for different settings here.
Ideally, you would have a mildly sunny day with plenty of clouds. Some people may assume that bright, direct sun would be perfect for taking photos, but actually what you end up with are harsh shadows. My top tip for shooting on a sunny day would be to find buildings that create shadows to hide behind. 
Depending on where in the world you are, you might also find that the weather can be unpredictable and if it is likely to rain, having a backup plan is perfect. In London, the weather can be very unpredictable, so I tend to shoot in locations that have nearby photogenic indoor locations. For example, where this blog post’s images were taken in Kew Gardens, there are some beautiful outdoor grounds, along with a few large, indoor greenhouses and a couple of cafés. I know this isn’t always possible (eg. Visiting a lavender field or beach) so in those cases, it is worth checking the weather ahead and allowing for a change of date where necessary! 

4. Editing
Editing isn't always necessary, however, If you are wanting to make the most of your images, I would suggest investing some time into tweaking and pulling a little here and there. How to edit is a whole other blog post of its own, but it can be pretty easy (and cheap) with the right apps and programmes. Lightroom Classic is what I used to edit the images in this post. It is not to be confused with Photoshop. Lightroom is just for tweaking minor details and changing colours and brightness etc. There is Lightroom for your computer, which I purchase for £9.98 per month, or you can download it for free onto your phone and use that version. 

Editing allows you to not only transform your photography into the best it can be, but it also allows you to develop a personal style that people will be able to associate with you and your blog. 

5. Getting Attention
Once you have had your blog shoot and edited your images, it is time to post! Adam, of First Man Photography, suggests paying attention to your audience and thinking about the value of your content. I, admittedly, find that I tend to think more about what I like to post, rather than what my audience would like to see. A successful blogger probably thinks about both! Who is your audience and what value are you bringing to them? Time is the most precious thing people have, what about your content is going to make someone want to stop scrolling and read? 

My Instagram tips would be to think about your grid as a whole. You can plan it ahead using apps such as UNUM. Is it clear what your blog is about? Is it aesthetically pleasing or interesting? Do you have a distinct style that sets you apart? It is also important to engage. I reply to 99% of the comments left on my blog, YouTube channel and Instagram. Engaging with your audience is a great way to build a genuine, virtual relationship. Lastly, use relevant hashtags! Some of my most successful posts have been due to my use of hashtags. Keep them relevant and specific. Steer clear of generic ones such as “food” and “London”. They will have millions of posts and yours will get lost! Find hashtags relevant to you or even create your own. I use #eboniivorytravels whenever I post travel content.

I hope you found at least one, if not all, tips useful. Please let me know if you think there are any other useful photography tips that I didn't mention? And a huge thank you, again to HP for sponsoring this blog post and for use of the fantastic HP Pavillion 15. 

Eb x

All images by Sean Joseph Young

5 Ways to Enjoy Summer in London

Hey Guys, 

So just 24 hours ago, I was laying on top of the pink lilo that floated in the newly built 10-foot swimming pool that now resides in my garden. I bought this make-shift pool for £30 last year, as a result of the scorching temperatures we were experiencing in London. However… I am now watching said-pool in my garden, being smothered by rain drops from the storm that followed the 39º, perfect weather we had yesterday! 
I think that pretty much sums up London in summer; always keeping you on your toes. Hopefully these top tips of mine will help you survive your London summer!

*This post features a non-sponsored collaboration with Daisy London. They Kindly gifted me a couple of their lovely necklaces to feature in this blog post * 

5 Ways to Enjoy Summer in London 

1. Take a look on voucher and event websites. 
This tip is great for you bargain hunters and budget-conscious. Websites such as Groupon, have amazing deals on really fun activities and days out. I recently took my partner for a lovely afternoon tea in the most beautiful hotel, over-looking London, for just £20! We also had a made to order buffet meal in a fun asian restaurant that featured interactive tables with games. I also know that National Rail offers a lot of 2 for 1 deals on some London attractions when travelling by train. The perfect way to find something to do this summer whilst still being wallet-conscious! 

2. Plan journeys to avoid rush hour and hot transport. 
Heat, crowds and delays. I can sum up a summer on London public transport up in 3 words - hot, delayed and hot! Unfortunately, many of the tube lines start to resemble more of a slow cooker during the warmer temperatures, so I would really recommend researching off-peak travel times (for less crowds and sweaty armpits) or finding an alternative route. Busses are generally ok because they usually either have air conditioning or several open windows allowing reasonable air flow. The Overground trains all have air conditioning, along with Thameslink trains which have AMAZING air conditioning! The DLR is also a great option for getting to places like Greenwich, and there is even a river boat which you can take with your oyster card! 

3. Make the most of the beautiful parks. 
London has some beautiful parks to visit and they are all free to enter.  I could take a picnic and spend an entire day in a lovely park! Here are some of my favourite London parks:
Greenwich Park - Boating lake, fantastic London views, photo ops, free nautical museum and squirrels!
Crystal Palace park - Maze, historical, free farm, life size dinosaur walk.
Hampstead Heath - Great walks, ponds to swim in, beautiful views, the pergola (where the images from this blog post were taken!) 

4. Check weather and have a plan B. 
This tip applies for the days you have decided on an outdoor activity. Always have a plan b or an alternative day! As I type this, I am currently in the middle of re-planning a trip to Kew Gardens as the weather is unfortunately not on my side. It can be very disappointing, but the UK weather never seems to make up its mind. And hopefully, if your heart isn’t too set on particular plans, you can always change to visiting a museum or heading to the cinema. 

5. Leave London… 
This top tip probably applies directly to you wonderful Londoners. As you probably know by now, there is nothing better than the feeling of leaving the city for a short break. Whether that be for the day, by plane or by train. Time out can really help with stress, anxiety and any other city-inducing problems! Places like Brighton and Margate are just short trips on the train and, as I recently discovered, can be extremely affordable with a 16-25 or 26-30 railcard! 

I hope you enjoyed those tips and if you can think of any more, please leave them below in a comment! 

Eb x 

All images by Sean Joseph Young

5 Reasons Why I Love Brighton

Hey Guys,

Last weekend I decided to take some much needed time away from London with one of my best friends. We both agreed Brighton would be the perfect day away, to relax and unwind a bit. The weather was on our side, with 30º heat all day and bright skies. So with our train tickets in hand (less than £9.00 with our 26-30 railcards) we were off to the sea!

Celebrating Wedding Season with Pandora

Hey Guys,

Last week, I was invited along to a special event with Pandora. Myself and and a few other lovely bloggers gathered at the gorgeous Ivy Tower Bridge restaurant to celebrate the wedding gifts and bridesmaid's collections. We also had the lovely Katie, from London Calligraphy, with us to teach (or attempt to, in my case) writing in calligraphy - *spoiler alert* I was terrible!

Cocktails and Canapés with VIVI, London

Hey Guys,

Last week, my partner and I were invited for drinks and bar bites with VIVI. VIVI is a restaurant and bar based in Centre Point, just by Tottenham Court road station - the perfect location for post-shopping catch ups and cocktails! This large bar and restaurant combo features four distinct, and beautiful, sections which they call "VIVI Zones":

VIVI Zones
"VIVI has been cleverly zoned into four key spaces; The Dining Room, The Bar, The Gallery and Liquid Lounge each bringing a different character to suit your dining requirements."

This post is centred around the bar menu and all images were taken within the Liquid Lounge area. We booked a table for 3pm (I was trying to be clever and pick a less-busy time,  just after lunch and just before dinner). My plan worked! It was very quiet at this time, which I really liked! We had the entire Liquid Lounge to ourselves for about an hour, which was perfect for taking lots of pictures but also felt very intimate and peaceful.

Why Podcasts Are My New 'Thing'

Hey Guys,

I’ve really been loving podcasts recently. They make me laugh, the make me think, they keep me company on long journeys home, they drown out the sound of my thighs chafing - they’re great! I started off my podcasting journey just looking for audio books to play on my commute or to fall asleep to. I didn’t really find anything I liked. I was about to give up when I stumbled across these gems...
I thought I would share three of my favourites with you. And who knows, maybe one will tickle your fancy! 

Egyptian Street Food in London

Hey Guys,

I was recently invited by the team at Koshari Street, to come and try something from their menu. I love trying new food, especially dishes that derive from other counties and cultures, so was happy to pop along on a Friday lunchtime! 
I took my friend Shermin, who is vegan, as they have many vegan and vegetarian options - so I thought it would be great for her. We arrived around midday and couldn't wait to discover what "Koshari" really was...