Huawei G7 & the Ultimate Lifehacking Workshop

I was lucky enough to be invited along to the Ham Yard for a ‘Lifehacker’ workshop, to celebrate the launch of the new Huawei G7 phone, where a rather excellent evening was had by all.

Huawei G7

Let’s get straight into it and discuss the phone, shall we? I am far from a tech blogger, but I knows what I likes, and I, uh, likes what I sees – for want of a better phrase. It’s a nice weighty thing, about the size of my old Samsung Galaxy Note: light enough to carry around, big enough that you can actually watch things on it, and type. Much as I’ve been having an full blown love affair with my Sony Xperia Z3, I’d never watch anything on it. This baby has a 5.5 inch display!

A few tech specs: download speeds are up to 150Mbps, which I believe translates into ‘hella fast’. The whole thing feels incredible slick, very speedy and terrific if you’re a multi-tasking, mega-distracted, slightly hyper phone user like me. It features a 3000 mAh battery, which means that you can use it for a couple of days at a time without charging. Do you remember in the 00s when your phone lasted for a few days? Before your iPhones came along and begged to be charged every hour or so? Well, that. Perfect if you work in social media but hate plug sockets, like me.

Negative points? The resolution is a little lower than I’d like at 267ppi, vs 319ppi for my Xperia Z3, but it’s still bright and clear. Cosmetically speaking, the casing is nice enough but looks more expensive in the white version. Functionality-wise, I’ve only played around with social apps and Spotify, but I’ve heard rumours of lag in game play. I’ll have to report back when I’ve had it a bit longer!

Huawei are positioning the G7 as a phone that will improve your day to day life. It’s speedy, it has that gorgeous big screen, it has an 13MP camera, the battery life is extremely appealing, and it comes in at under £200. The ‘Phone Manager’ feature is ace, as it scans your device and helps you clean up battery draining apps etc. OS is Android KitKat, so existing Android users should get on perfectly fine, but iFans may find the transition a little harder.

Generally speaking, the Huawei G7 is a good, solid mid-range phone, and I’m looking forward to exploring it properly.

Lifehacker Talk

The evening kicked off with a talk by two chaps from Lifehacker, a sort of real life version of Reddit’s LifeProTips. They talk us through how to make the most of each part of our day, thanks to our ever present mobiles. Tragically and also ironically, I was fielding some important work emails for almost the entire duration of their talk, which meant I think means I will now live a very unproductive, flabby and ultimately unhacked life. HOWEVER, I would like to share with you their greatest tip of the night, which was about the app If This Then That. In short, it allows you to create ‘recipes’ for your phone functions. E.g. ‘If I post a picture to Instagram, then post it to Twitter’. The app will then post the photo as a native pic to Twitter automatically. It’s a great way to streamline the way you use your phone. I’ve given a fairly rubbish example, but check it out and create as many recipes as…well, this guy below.

Cookery Masterclass with Sam Stern

Sam Stern is one of my all time food heroes, especially as my mum adores him. We’ve been consulting his excellent ‘Eat Vegetarian‘ book for years, and he’s your man for easy, please-y eats. He’s about to launch a book on cooking for one, which is going to be a million times sexier than this:

Sadly I couldn’t make anything as the recipe was mackerel & horseradish pate – which looked amazing. i just stood back and observed – but from general reactions it was a top notch recipe! I’m very excited about his next book, as I like cooking for myself and myself alone very much, and I think this book is an excellent concept.

Cocktail Masterclass with Iain Griffiths of White Lyan

When I spotted that Iain was going to be hosting this particular segment of the evening, I got terrifically overexcited. If you haven’t heard of Mr Lyan, then you need to sort your life out, son. Iain works with Ryan Chetiyawardana, founder of White Lyan, and one of my newly discovered impress-your-date venues, the Dandelyan Bar at Sea Containers. That’s a lot of names to digest, but if you care at all about drinking, I recommend that you commit them to memory. I’m going to be writing a separate review of Dandelyan soon, so hold your horses, ok?

Both venues have a unique approach to cocktail making: a refreshing change in a city where I am endlessly having pitchers of Porn Star Martinis slopped over me in every. Single. Venue. Instead, we had a table full of fresh fruit and herbs, salt, Mr Lyan’s own blends, San Pellegrino, tequila…I could go on. Iain guided us through the creation of three distinct and delicious cocktails: a clean G&T with the Mr Lyan Diamond Rickey blend and grapefruit, a zesty Pamela with tequila and pomelo juice, and my personal favourite, a Bloody Mary with yellow Isle of Wight tomatoes and green Tabasco.

A big thank you to Iain, and you all need to take my word for it and check out White Lyan and Dandelyan. 

Memory Masterclass with Dominic O’Brien

Just a quick note on the final speech as I’m running out of room, but we had a session from memory champion Dominic O’Brien. He was engaging and delightfully mustachioed, and his talk was a perfect blend of useful tips and party pieces. For example, he gave two people a copy of The Sun and asked them to pick pages – he then recited phone numbers, stocks, or any information found on the page. I obviously chose Page 3. Dominic also taught us some useful ways to remember numbers, and I will share my favourite: he assigns each number to an image. A ‘2’ becomes a swan, a ‘3’ is a heart, a ‘0’ is a football etc. Start with that, and you can build your own story using the numbers. As someone who forgot my own phone number the other day, I’m looking forward to utilising these tips.

All in all, it was a fun and informative night, and an ingenious idea for a press night. Thanks for inviting me down, I had a terrific time! (And not just because of the yellow Bloody Marys and macaroons…)

Lima Floral

I wasn’t sure what to write up from the weekend, because I was fortunate enough to go a variety of excellent places over the weekend: Dandelyan and the Rumpus Room at Sea Containers, Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings, Plum + Spilt Milk…but I opted to jot down a few notes on Lima, where I went for brunch on Sunday. I am still without proper DSLR, so please forgive the phone pics…

Lima is a Peruvian restaurant tucked away on Floral Street, just away from the surging crowds of Covent Garden. Known for delicate and well-balanced dishes, they’ve just launched a new brunch menu, for which I was a very willing guinea pig. The restaurant itself is light and airy, and the staff kindly accommodated our request to be seated upstairs in the sunshine, as opposed to our original spot downstairs in the Pisco Bar. The decor is inviting and fairly eclectic, full of blue hues and tapestries, and some envy-inducing china plates. My companion opted for a latte, and I decided to try one of the plum and rosemary ’emolientes’, a refreshing drink that is served warm. It was delicately flavoured, sweet without being saccharine, and entirely delightful. There are two different categories for brunch: a lighter Andean breakfast, and a long lunch. We were busy agonising over what to choose from the Andean menu, when our waitress told us we got EVERYTHING on that menu. I’m pretty sure I heard the Hallelujah chorus from some distant place.



The menu seems fairly unassuming, descriptions are simply put and don’t try to hard. This is often my favourite kind of food experience. I’d much rather be delighted and surprised, than work through a load of tortured descriptions including the words ‘foam’, ‘scorched’, ‘dusted’, and other examples of gastrolinguistic engineering. For our first course, we had sharing bowls of warm, creamy quinoa porridge with apricot; yogurt with eucalyptus and mint, and a bowl of fruit with maca root, honey and bee pollen. This was possibly some of the finest yogurt I’ve ever tasted, like eating a creamy cloud. I usually avoid ordering fruit in a restaurant as it seems like a waste, but this was fresh and full of flavour, and the quinoa porridge had all the comfort of your mum’s most reassuring rice pudding.



For the ‘main’ course, we were served potato pancakes with a perfectly savoury sauce, and an egg frittata with delicately cooked carrots and spring onions. As a vegetarian, I got an extra serving of pancakes, and my friend had a suckling pig brioche bun, an arrangement that we were both very happy with. I was initially skeptical about the small portion sizes, wondering if we should have chosen a ‘pile ’em high’ brunch venue, but we were so stuffed after this course that we nearly didn’t have room for pudding.

Yes, pudding. Every good brunch deserves fine puddings, and this was quite something. An quenelle of coffee ice cream with cacao crumble, two tiny bright meringues, raisins in a sugar syrup, and alfajores with dulce de leche. I want you to remember the word ‘alfajores’, because they are truly the most glorious biscuits in the entire world. Imagine a flattened down Viennese whirl: melt in the mouth, clouds of icing sugar, but with a caramel filling instead of jam and cream. I cannot impress upon you enough how pleasing they are.


The whole thing was £18 a head, which I think is very reasonable for a three course meal. You can also tack on unlimited Prosecco for £10 each, but after a Saturday morning of bottomless Bloody Marys at the Bourne and Hollingsworth Buildings (try saying THAT while drunk), I gave it a miss. We went for 11am, but I would recommend kicking off a little later as the pudding course makes it feel a lot more like a proper lunch. That would be my one bit of feedback: the pudding was quite astonishingly sweet, and I left with something of a sugar headache – but it was worth it for the alfajores.

Thank you to Lima for a uniquely delicious brunch, and in particular to the charming staff for making it such an enjoyable experience.





Cashew & Pomegranate Pancakes

HAPPY PANCAKE DAY! Truly one of the most noble days of the year. I remember finding out that Shrove Tuesday was called ‘Mardi Gras’ in French, which translates to ‘FAT TUESDAY’, and feeling like that was the most glorious name for a day ever. So with that in mind, here’s my fairly healthy pancake recipe. In honour of Fat Tuesday, this dish features good fats, like the cashew nuts!


I added a scoop of cashew butter into my pancake mix as well as for a topping, because I wasn’t particularly sold on the two ingredient egg/banana pancakes everyone’s been raving about. I mean, they’re perfectly fine – but fine in a ‘wow, these are two ingredients, they actually taste alright for a healthy pancake’. I don’t want something that just tastes ‘ok for a healthy alternative’. Nope, these are delicious in their own right. The cashew butter fluffs everything up, and there’s no need for syrups when you’ve got pomegranate.

I hope you’ll enjoy them as much as I did!


1 ripe banana
1 egg, room temp
1/2 tbsp cashew butter
Coconut oil

Mixed berries
1 tsp cashew butter
Spoonful Greek yogurt (optional)
Sprinkle coconut palm sugar, if desired


(Serves one)

1. Mash the banana together with the cashew butter, and whisk in the egg

2. Heat the coconut oil, spoon three dollops of mixture in and cook for a couple of minutes on either side, until golden brown

3, Add toppings as desired. EASY!



Hotbox & Columbia Road

I apologise for the amount of ‘lifestyle blog’ cliches about to be unleashed on you, but I’m afraid I’m going to do it anyway.

Last Sunday we headed out to Shoreditch for brunch at Hotbox on Commercial Street. Renowned for top notch barbecue food, the venue opened in late 2014, and has just expanded the menu to include an absolutely stonking brunch. This also involves a bottomless option: all the Bloody Marys, Prosecco and Mimosas you can hack for 25 quid.


We got there on time to avoid longer queues – I even missed The Archers to haul myself out East, but I regret nothing. From the second we arrived, the staff were a delight, calmly and politely handling the jostling queues. The waiter we had was an absolute peach; chatty and attentive without being disruptive. The venue itself is dark and cosy, with long tables and benches, high stools and ledges. Everything has been designed with precision: tiny glasses are topped up from an industrial steel jug, lightbulbs are bare, black frames abound. The music is excellent: from Sly & the Family Stone to Roxy Music within a track, ideal for a Sunday.


The brunch menu is instantly appealing – we opted for Huevos Rancheros, avocado and roasted corn on sourdough, and smoked mac & cheese. To turn down the opportunity for macaroni cheese at what is ultimately a breakfast hour is criminal, and I question anyone’s motives for doing so. We shared all our dishes (particularly difficult on said mac & cheese…there was nearly a fight) which was a strategic move designed to give us as much of the menu to try as possible.


Dipping a spoon into the Huevos Rancheros was a glorious experience thanks to eggs with exactly the right amount of runniness, a green coriander sauce, and a reassuring dollop of chunky guacamole. The sourdough dish was an excellent balance of sweetness from the roast corn, spice from paprika, and the creaminess of the avocado. I’ve been let down by so many macaroni cheeses in my life, and joyfully this was not so at Hotbox. Oozy and smoky with a crispy topping, I could happily have eaten a whole panful. The Bloody Marys were pleasing but perhaps a little watery, although the spicing, celery AND lemon wedge were spot on. I cannot recommend Hotbox enough – just make sure you get there as close to 11.30 as possible. After all, you can listen to The Archers on iPlayer.


Barely able to move, we somehow manouevred ourselves down Brick Lane and through the market, on a floral mission. I used to keep flowers in my room as a matter of course, but when I started trying to cut down my expenditure, they were the first to go. I forgot how cheering heading home with armfuls of fresh flowers was, and meandering down the market was a joy. We took our time (we didn’t have much choice, given how stacked the place was), and enjoyed the sunshine and a coffee from one of the little wall cafes that appear all over the area.


By the time I headed home, I felt like I’d been on holiday. I’m often staunchly anti-East, just because I’m a big fan of South West. But on a Sunday, there was a special atmosphere. There’s not really anything like it on my side of London – the energy, the people, the architecture of the place. I’m determined to explore more of this city, instead of just sticking to my little corner, so stay posted!









Vegetarian Pho with Courgette Noodles


I had to practically sit on my hands not to do a punny title, because ‘pho’ is a total gift to those with a love of terrible puns. If you read it as written, you’ve got classics such as ‘pho my god’, ‘pho way’ etc. If you go pho-netically with ‘fuh’, you can go down an enjoyably unsavoury avenue.


Anyway. The point is, I really love pho, but it can be hard to find a decent vegetarian option. When Nam on Old Compton Street closed for good last year, I also closed my heart to a decent bowl of veggie pho. I traipsed hopefully to other Soho Pho (Sopho) establishments, but none of them hit the spot. Also, I frittered away all my cash on Christmas presents, so homemade (phomemade? I’m really sorry, I can’t stop) was the way to go.


I found the process of making the broth extremely soothing. Something about cooking this kind of food feels like it’s good for your soul. I recommend gathering and prepping all your ingredients in advance in a nice orderly way, and keeping counters clear for full relaxing benefits. I swapped in courgette for the noodle part, because I’m on a ludicrously cliched January health kick, but you should do as you wish. I was also going to boil an egg and pop it in too, but I decided against it, but the egg still snuck into the photos.

Forgive the slightly rubbish pics, my DSLR is in Sussex, so these are phone photos! Pho-tos. image3

For the Broth
1 white onion, peeled and quartered
2 garlic cloves, quartered
1 cinnamon stick
2 cloves
1 litre vegetable stock
1.5 tbsp soy sauce

For the Noodles
1 courgette
1 Portobello mushroom
1/2 red pepper
1 tbsp butter

Bean sprouts
Mint/Thai basil

1. Heat the onion, garlic and spices in a dry pan over a medium-high heat until the veg begins to char.

2. Add stock and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Cover and heat on medium-low for 25 minutes.

3. Spiralize the courgette, dry it and salt it, then pan fry in a little butter until it begins to soften. Place in your serving bowl, along with the sliced red pepper.

4. Slice the Portobello mushroom and pan fry in the courgette pan with leftover butter until it softens, then add to the noodle bowl.

5. Strain the broth then pour it over the top of the noodles, before serving with the plate of garnishes.

St Ives Day Seven

The final days whizzed by in a flurry of confusing weather and…well, more food. The town started to hum and buzz with talk of the oncoming storm. Hatches were beginning to be battened down, town-dwellers told us how lucky we were to be heading home before it hit.

That said, Friday was one of the most glorious days of the week, and I set out to make the most of it with a walk around the headland, where I always like to pretend I’m a tragic Thomas Hardy heroine roaming the rugged countryside. A Thomas Hardy heroine with a DSLR and sunglasses, that is.






Not far into my walk, however, I spotted one of the most terrifying scarecrows I’ve ever seen. I thought they were just supposed to scare birds, not people?


By a stroke of luck, some of my lovely family were also down in the Wall of Corn for the week, and we all united for lunch at Porthminster.




I wore a dress for the first time this week. It felt really weird.



I started lunch with a cocktail and found myself dizzying somewhat after a single sip: whisky, cider with ginger, tonka bean and chilli syrup…


I had the most incredible vegetable curry – savoury but aromatic, full of fresh veg and coconut milk.



If you go for one thing at Porthminster, make it a dessert. While the language of the menu may put you off (all ‘deconstructions’, ‘foam’ and ‘naked brulee’), the puds are where the chefs display phenomenal skill. I had the aforementioned “naked brulee”, essentially a square of chocolate crème with the finest crispy brulee layer, plus peppermint honeycomb, vanilla milk sorbet and brownie dust.


My uncle had caramelised bananas with a pistachio aero mousse, whisky cream and salted caramel, and Mummy Simmons had petit fours, displayed a la rock.




Followed by a short stroll along the beach.



And finally, I visited the Tate, who do free entry on Friday evenings. I’ve never had much success with the place as I’m not a huge modern art appreciator. The only exhibition I’ve enjoyed in the past was one by Simon Fujiwara. This time, however, the exhibition Aquatopia combines modern pieces with paintings by J.M.W Turner and Stanhope Forbes. It was immersive, atmospheric, and only made me roll my eyes once or twice – quite an achievement for the Tate.

Bye bye St Ives!


St Ives Days Five and Six

One of the mainstays of any week in St Ives is a huge breakfast at Porthmeor cafe. Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day, and the bigger the better as far as I’m concerned.  Porthmeor offer a pick-and-mix fry up, where you can opt to keep it healthy with poached eggs, butternut squash and cherry tomatoes, or go to the dark side with hash browns and bacon.



I can also heartily recommend the buttermilk pancakes with bananas, raspberries, whipped pecan butter and maple syrup…


Fuelled for the day by extravagant brekkers, we strolled across town to take the train. Now, spending hours on a train forms a large part of my week, so you’d think I’d run screaming, right? This isn’t your average commute, though. This is one of the most beautiful  train journeys in the country (and I’m pretty sure that’s been verified by…someone, somewhere). Words don’t do it justice, so here are some photos instead.





The weather was spectacular, turning everything around Porthminster into a potential Metronomy album cover.



Taking a stroll through the town, I spotted some lovely chaps outside the Allotment Deli, and a rather unusual selling point for an umbrella.






In the evening, we headed to The Loft to watch the town get dark over cocktails: an absolutely smashing espresso martini and a refreshing mimosa.