Products I Want To Use Up In 2018 #5

I had hoped to do one of these posts before or just after my surgery and had the photos all ready to go but in the end it just never ended up happening. Some time later and with another bundle of empty products I realised it was time to combine both sets of empties into one post. Instead of going through all the products photographed, as a lot of them have little to be said on them or nothing new from previous posts, I will just mention a few of the best and worst products of the bunch.

Whilst it has been some time since my last post, so my progress naturally looks more impress, there does seem to be some movement in terms of how many products of certain categories there are remaining. The change of the weather has caused some progress to slow though, such as candles and body butter, and at this point I am longing for Croydon to even just get a drop of rain and cooler weather.

With the weather changing I have done less makeup, just sticking to a brow tint, mascara and some sun cream moisturiser, but washed my face more and I feel that whilst one progress has slowed it still feels worthwhile as it is still slowly using up different products in my collection and also helping me to get into better habits.

Beauty product empties part one

Project pan 5 part two

  • Makeup Revolution Ultra Face Base Primer. This primer, that claims to be suitable for oil control, lasted for a very long time which makes it value for money. However, I found that this primer did very little for me and whichever foundation I used over the top of the primer it would cause it to ball up and sit patchily on the skin. This is something that it took me a long time to realise and has become increasingly apparent since switching to a different primer. Based on my personal experiences this is not something that I personally could recommend to others.
  • Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil. Until this product came into my life, via the Look Fantastic Advent Calendar, I had never used a facial oil and they were something that made me a little nervous. They made me nervous because of having combination skin and despite knowing that oil can help combat oil as well as tackle the dry spots there was still that small bit of fear it would make me look incredibly greasy. The smell of the product was wonderfully gentle, it soaked into my skin well and really helped to balance out my skin without causing any dodgy patches or breakouts. It is something that once I have used up more facial products like moisturisers that I would consider purchasing in the future.
  • Maxfactor Masterpiece Max Mascara. Usually I end up finding that mascaras either work well at the start of the tube or near the end but this one was uncommon as it worked from start to finish. It did a great job at lengthening my lashes as well as separating them, but not in a spidery way, and leaving them noticeably black but without being bam night out dramatic.

A lot of the products, especially shower gel, shampoos and bath soak, are pretty much like for like. None of them turning out to be incredibly good or bad but with The Body Shop banana shampoo and conditioner being the standout. This banana product being the standout comes as no surprises to me as it is something I have gone to and from for over a number of years but it does reassure me that it continues to work for my hair and smell fantastic.

What products have you managed to use up recently? Do you spot any favourites or hate its amongst the products I have used up? Let me know in the comments below.

Hammers On Bone by Cassandra Khaw

I have tried to forget about this book for a number of months but it just keeps sticking in my mind and not for the right reasons.

My partner suggested to me that I should give it a read as it has very few pages but is also set in Croydon and it sounded like a fascinating plot so, in the search of a short read to keep me on the reading trail, I took it off the shelf. It did the opposite of helping me to stay on the reading trail and instead made me question what I was putting myself through as I seemed to be encountering bad book after bad book.

By Cassandra Khaw

Copyright of book cover belongs to Tor

There are certain stories where it makes sense for the author to speed through a plot as it can add to the intensity for the reader and show how quickly events are happening, at least in the eyes of the characters, but this is one of those situations where it just did not feel like it worked. So many different things, characters and areas could have been described in a lot more depth and for some of elements this would really have added to the plot and the ability to imagine the scene getting presented.

As somebody that lives in Croydon it posed further problems for me, and after much discussion with my partner, we struggled to place any roads and factories that would match the description when the walking route of the children from school was considered. It is something that most people would not pick up on but when you live in an area it is the sort of thing you question and when flaws are clearly present it becomes a frustration. All I ever want is for people to do their research on a location and try to stick with it or to come up with a made up place that is based on certain landmarks and characteristics of a particular place.

The story itself also seemed to miss out on a number of opportunities of providing links between different elements of the plot as it felt very juttery and by the end of the book there was still very little clarity and it provided a bit of a head mess. Not a head mess in a wow I have so many questions about life and this book has really made me think about everything in a new way but instead just a “what have I just read. Was there supposed to be some point in that story?”.

It was not even like the plot was a really deep mystery and very early on I realised what was going on. This did not have the same mystery and twists of turns of something like a Sherlock Holmes book and whilst that is clearly not what the author was going for it would still be enjoyable for there to be some element of questions running through the mind to try and figure out what is actually going on.

My partner really enjoyed the book and has gone on to read at least one other book by the author but it was just the strangest thing I have read in a long time and whilst it was short so did not take long to read still feels like a waste of my time and efforts. This is not something that I could recommend at all.

The Fox, Coulsdon Common*

Sunday 8th July seemed just like every other day in July so far. The weather warm, muggy and in need of rain. The country increasingly wrapped up in the World Cup but enjoying a day of respite from being glued to the screen heart in mouth.

But for me the evening was still going to be full of delight and a new experience as I had arranged to go to The Fox at Coulsdon Common to see the new refurbishment and try out the menu. A couple of months ago the inn had gone through a refurbishment to change the size of the drinking area and the restaurant area as well as updating to the highest tier of the Vintage Inn menu. I was intrigued to find out if this walkers retreat, located amongst woodland and a common environmental natural spot enjoyed by many locals, in a quiet outer part of Croydon was deserving of such special treatment.

Table, chairs and window at The Fox

On arrival at Coulsdon Common there was a a big signpost on the edge to encourage people to head down the road and inside a rather traditional looking standalone building for some light refreshments and a bite to eat. The sign had a well designed image of a fox on a grey background that gave the impression of a sophisticated, cared for and not just run of the mill boozer. It was a good start and we headed off down past the natural untamed common towards the secluded building.

The number of cars outside showed the popularity of The Fox and taking a look around you can see a number of people scattered between the drinking area, the restaurant and the garden outside. Each area had been refurbished to the same level of standards, but with slightly different interior features, to create a cohesive and welcoming feel. Despite the number of people that I could spot having conversations I was surprised at how quiet the venue came across and it was clear the layout had been done in mind of tables being able to have privacy without conversations travelling throughout the place.

We arrived ahead of our reservation time, partly because as people that live in Central Croydon with numerous buses and trams we have no need to drive and got the one bus that stopped close to The Fox, but they made the table up promptly and allowed us to sit down and commence our evening. On the walls close to our table there was a number of artwork that showed the outside of the pub as well as things that made reference to foxes, such as hunters, and it was all framed and hung in a way that gave a real ‘vintage’ feel.

Large glasses on the table

Cider glass with ice

After looking at the drinks menu, which strangely had some items with prices attached but not others, and with the out of character British weather I decided that my drink would have to be a cool and refreshing one but I was not really feeling having any wine. Much deliberation and pondering resulted in me selecting a pomegranate and elderflower gintonica which came with a lot of ice and cucumber to make it additionally refreshing and weather appropriate. My partner had the none alcoholic equivalent that had bitters in it and I have to admit that the one loaded with gin was slightly tastier. It’s a shame that they didn’t have something that represented a slightly more exciting mocktail, perhaps one with fruit juices in, especially as it would have been a fun thing to sip on such a warm day.

Later in the evening I opted for an Old Mout berries and cherries cider as I feeling fairly content at that point in time and wanted something cool and fruity before heading off home after a delightful meal. It coming with the suitable style of glass is a small thing that always makes me happy because I understand and appreciate the effort that drinks brands put in to finding the best shape to hold the flavours of a drink without bruising it. Another thing that I appreciated about The Fox stocking Old Mout Cider is that they had the berries and cherries cider in both the traditional 4% strength but also the 0.05% version so people could look to be drinking the same drink, enjoying the fruity flavours on offer, whilst actually enjoying an alcohol-free beverage.

Starter at The Fox

Seafood starter by The Fox

The starters were the absolute standouts of the meal. The selection on offer made it a pretty challenging decision to make but with the weather and the natural desire to have something that I am unlikely to cook at home I knew it had to be seafood. My choice was the “Salt & pepper calamari and tempura prawns on a crispy prawn cracker with chipotle mayonnaise” at £5.95 whilst my partner opted for the “black pearl scallops seared with black pudding served on minted pea puree with crispy bacon” for £7.95.

As both the dishes arrived the presentation really struck me as it didn’t look like the usual style you think of for a chain pub or restaurant and I was immediately impressed. The aromas wafting up from my plate took me away for a second to being my a Spanish beach on a hot summer day tucking into a seafood pizza. From the very first bite I was in love. The calamari was seasoned incredibly with the mentioned salt and pepper but it felt like there was a little cayenne pepper in there to add an additional flavour depth and colour to the coating and the squid inside was cooked to melt in the mouth perfection. Each of the prawns were cooked exceptionally as well and the prawn cracker was a thick and carefully created piece that was loaded with flavour. Not a single bit of the dish was greasy and all the flavours fitted together like a glove to create this joyful fresh seafood flavour explosion in the mouth. It was some of the best seafood cooking I have encountered for some time.

On asking my partner what he thought of his starter he said “this is how scallops are supposed to be cooked”. Now, I’ve never really encountered that many scallops as they are things that I know can be done well or go ow so very wrong but the ones I have had out and about never really do it for me. We did a little bit of a swap and I ate the bit of the scallop offered to me and now I know that all this time I have indeed been suffering from encountering people that don’t know how to cook scallops. This one was absolutely incredible and I could imagine how the flavour would sit merrily alongside the other ingredients on the dish, especially as I knew that they all worked as common combinations, that looked to have been cooked with extreme precision as well.

Sharing plate for a Sunday lunch

Traditional Sunday roast

I will admit that our choice of main meal may seem a little unusual given the reference to the weather but we hadn’t had a roast for a while and I find that almost any restaurant can pull off fish and chips or other similar pub foods so I wanted to give it a try. We opted to have the trio of meats to share and here they managed to provide me with a first. Individual dishes of vegetables, separate small gravy boats (which they will happily refill if you like your dinner lathered in gravy) and rectangle plates but in the middle was a large plate with all the contents spread across for you to serve yourself as much as you wanted. It looked like somebody had been let lose on a roast dinner buffet at Christmas time and I was pretty excited to get tucked in.

Now the cooking of vegetables is always a bit of a sore subject. We all think back to that time there was nothing but vegetables left at school or when you had to select them as part of your dinner in the hospital and they were over-cooked, flavourless pieces of mush. The vegetables here were not at all like this and in fact they could not be more removed if you tried. The greens were cooked well and stayed warm in their dish, especially with the gravy on them, but the carrots were so variable in size that some were cooked and others were literally raw crunchy in the middle. My knife and those carrots did not get along and I had to use my fork to hold them before biting them apart. My partner seemed to have smaller carrots and said his were cooked perfectly so this is just one of those things where they need to keep a closer eye on produce size and account for it leading to different cooking times.

But that’s me pulling this meal apart and thinking about every single element as the rest of the roast was delicious. The gravy was thick, not lumpy, full of flavour and had that lovely shine to it when poured. The potatoes were fluffy in the middle and yet lightly crispy on the outside. All three of the meats, beef, chicken and pork, were tender, moist and full of flavour. The pigs in blankets were properly wrapped up instead of having some sad bit of bacon scrap laid over it. The Yorkshire puddings were large and soft whilst being cooked through and well risen through. My only disappointment other than the vegetables was that I personally prefer my parsnips to crisp up a little bit more as they are one of the few things I find the flavour increases with during cooking time but acknowledge this is something different for each person.

Nut tart and panna cotta

Pecan pie up close

My partner was absolutely stuffed after his starter and main, something about a health kick which I fear has been prompted like so many things by the weather, so I was left to have a dessert alone. Luckily when it comes to desserts I have absolutely no shame in being the only one eating them and after eating this pudding.

It turns out that on this particular Sunday I had a thing for trios and went for the “toffee & nut trio – treacle & pecan tart, crème caramel panna cotta and praline ice cream” but as you might see from the picture something doesn’t seem quite right. The treacle and pecan tart was deep in flavour, sticky and had a gentle pastry case that all combined made it rich and the perfectly sized slice on the plate. The panna cotta was smooth with the sauce being light and only mildly sweet to help offset all of the other flavours and reassured me again that they had a team of chefs behind closed doors that know how to put together food and how to cook them well.

But you guessed it there seems to be some praline ice cream missing and instead just a splob of cream that had no praline or nuts or crunch or anything going on just some standard whipped cream. None of the waiters said that there wasn’t any of the ice cream available and I was surprised by the lack of even just normal ice cream in place of it but given I only realised after I scooped a large amount onto my tart to eat as a big scrummy mouthful I was a bit too confused to what had just happened to raise it at the time. I am sure there is some sort of explanation; perhaps they don’t have any ramekins that they could ice cream into to help it not melt on a warm day or that it was a trainee chef that simply overlooked the matter but I am surprised that it made it off the pass and through the waiter with no reference to the ice cream.

Glasses and cutlery setup

The staff all seemed friendly, informed and professional and this was evident in the layout of the restaurant and tables as well as their general attentiveness. A couple of the different duty managers came across for a chat, they switched shifts whilst we were there, and had a little chat about everything including the food, the refurbishment and the weather. It felt like it was a good vibe that welcomed regular visitors as well as the walker visiting on a one off to rest their feet and lubricate their throat.

And where it was a busy Sunday it was clear that the odd thing had slipped in terms of overall quality. At the end of the meal just before leaving I headed into the toilets and found toilet roll scattered across the floor with no actually toilet roll in any of the holders. This could have recently happened and nobody had alerted staff to it or they had recently done a cleaning check and they missed the even by moments but there was no way to tell. The toilets themselves were well designed and presentable and compared to the rest of the place the mess seemed rather out of place and that somewhat made it feel more disappointing than usual because I know the standards they are clearly setting out to achieve.

It is certainly somewhere that I would go to again, take other people with me for a meal there or recommend to people wanting to get just a little out of town to enjoy a countryside-esque feel and be able to admire nature as well.

*Invited to The Fox at Coulsdon Common by Spotty Dog Communications. PR offered money off the bill in return for an honest review.

Random Food I Have Eaten Recently #3

It has been a little while since I did a post about random things I have eaten recently but of course that does not mean that no eating or cooking has occurred! Food from Mud and Pizza Pilgrims has been absolutely delightful as was a fun tasty bubble waffle from Chillbox in Boxpark, Croydon.

Actually, quite a few tasty things have been eaten since the last post but several of them have been eaten without a camera or phone camera coming out to grab a snap. As well as using my camera for slightly better photos, when I do happen to capture my food, I have also started to try to instagram story my more random or ‘less pretty’ food shots so that both my feed and stories are full of food delights.

Daily lunch offering from Cafe Adagio

As I have mentioned before Addiscombe, Croydon is blessed with a number of good cafes that all have a unique selling point, different atmospheres and and tasty food with many of them doing options to go allowing you to be in a rush and eat on the go or to take home and nibble on in your own time.

One day my partner nipped into Cafe Adagio to get some lunch for us both to eat at home and came back with two healthy slices of scrumptious homemade goodies that we sliced in half to be able to both sample them. One was a potato pie and the other a vegetable frittata with each of them being absolutely delicious, perfect textures and loaded with flavours.

Another day we were catching up with friends to talk a few things over and went to The Tram Stop to do that, grab a hot drink and dig into some late lunch as well. The soup is always a safe option as they never fail to impress and come with a super soft bread roll and the mac and cheese is perfect too but on this day I was feeling like giving something different a try. That was when I spotted on the special chalkboard an item fairly rare in London in June… a haggis panini with melted cheese and cranberry sauce with a side salad and ready salted crisps. A rare find and a real pleasure to eat.

Haggis, cheese and cranberry panini

So often lunch is my first meal of the day. It is a terrible habit and one that I really need to try and get out of but when I do have breakfast, which often ends up being more a brunch, I cannot help but go all out and make it a plate of warm comforting joy.

Doing a cooked breakfast is something that I have to be in the mood for as otherwise it quickly becomes a bit of a half-hearted effort and the end result doesn’t come out as well as I would want. Sometimes when the cooked breakfast craving comes along I will just pop out to a cafe to get something without the hassle of the preparation, the cooking or the dreaded cleaning up afterwards. When the mood to have one at home comes along though then it needs to be acted upon and ow it was completely and utterly worth it. Even just looking at this cooked breakfast gives me a comforting hug from deep within me.

English cooked breakfast

Beef, potato and spinach curry

My food tastes have changed over the last couple of months and a beef kofta and potato curry that I cooked, using a Hello Fresh recipe, which had a mildly spicy but very creamy sauce to go with it was possibly one of the last potato dishes that I truly enjoyed eating. Potato is something that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with at the best of times as when I was in primary school I went to an old Victorian factory and the smell reminded me of the taste of potatoes in stew. Erg.

This dish though really hit the spot and was absolutely delightful as the potatoes managed to soak up a lot of flavour whilst not becoming overly soft or developing a hard outer casing. But it was not just the potatoes that made this dish a success but the entire sauce, the inclusion of spinach, the quality of the beef and the sprinkling of coriander over the top.

But with potato being so hit and miss it is no surprise to hear that it is far from my favourite carb. That honour belongs to pasta. Whether it is as small as orzo or as chunky as tagliatelle it gets a big happy dance from me. Sometimes thought I just want to mix things up the smallest amount by putting one of my favourite dishes with a different type of pasta and this included putting rigatoni with bolognese instead of the usual spaghetti or penne.

Rigatoni dinner

This entire pasta dish was an absolute treat, especially given how quickly it was whipped together, and serves as a reminder to me of just how great rigatoni is for things like bolognese because of the way it is able to hold such a chunky sauce. As for this particular dish though the things like the fresh chopped tomatoes and the *ahem* healthy amount of Parmesan cheese over the top really gave it an added flavour as well as extra texture.

So that’s just a tiny snapshot of what I have been eating recently. I would love to find out about what you have noshed on over the last couple of months and if you know of anywhere that I should try out do let me know in the comments below!

Pizza Pilgrims, London

In a recent haul I shared my love of pizza and how it reached the point of me getting a pin that expresses that so it will come as no surprise to spot a review of a pizza place over here. A pizza is good at the best of times but it is always that little bit better and more enjoyable when you wander around looking for a lunch spot and come across somewhere that has been on the “wanting to visit” list for some time (spurred on by the joys of instagram of course!).

We had agreed to meet up with a friend in Central London one day and after going to the Doc Martens store on Carnaby Street to get my partner some new shoes we walked around for a while on the hunt for somewhere to eat and stumbled across Pizza Pilgrims on Kingly Street. If you happen to follow London pizza on social medias then you have probably heard of Pizza Pilgrims as it often comes up with other restaurants like Homeslice for the quality of pizza at pretty competitive prices so naturally when we came across it I was pretty excited to give it a go and whip out my camera and capture the moment.

It was a weekend so the restaurant was fairly busy but we agreed to sit on a table at the front that was a large square and essentially could be used for a big group, a number of small groups or many individuals wanting to eat and happy to share a space. The size of the table meant that as a small group we were still able to have a conversation together without hitting elbows with anybody else or clashing plates as they came to the table. On the table there was a number of items, including oils, for flavouring to pizzas as well as a little tin for cutlery should it be wanted by a pizza eater.

Mushroom and truffle white pizza

Increasingly over recent years I have found myself leaning away from a tomato base when out and about getting pizza and have instead leaned more towards a white base. there is really very little logic in what made me transition from one type of base to another but the tomato base always feels that bit heavier during eating and that often the tomato combined with the flavourings and seasons mixed throughout it tend to overwhelm some of the other items on the pizza. Of course there are places that do amazing tomato bases but there are only so many mediocre ones you can try before deciding it is best just to steer clear of them altogether.

All the options on the menu looked super delicious but in the end I settled for the £10 portobello and truffle pizza which they declare as “this might be the poshest pizza we have on our menu” despite not having the highest price tag as a result of it being super simple on the ingredients front and meat-free too. They continue to use the same dough for this as all the other pizzas based on a Neapolitan dough that creates a fluffy texture deep pan base without being overwhelmingly on the heavy side to eat as you work your way through the pizza bite by bite.

The flavours and textures of the toppings, mushroom and truffle, are both things that people can have a love/hate relationship with but for me they are things that I enjoy and find go well together. With the light fluffy base, with mild flavours of its own, combined with the white base and the ingredients it came together like a match made in heaven. None of the flavours overwhelmed any of the others and it provided a wonderfully gentle firework of flavours inside the mouth with a pleasing combination of soft dough, stringy cheese and mild crunch from the mushroom topping.

For me the pizza was a really enjoyable item to eat and it has certainly made me want to return to Pizza Pilgrims to give a few more bits from the menu, including the tomato base ones, a go as the balance of flavours, quantity of ingredients and softness of the dough from this pizza really encourages me that they would be able to do a good one. The pizzas that my partner and friend had looked delicious as well and smelled fantastic.

Mac n cheese deep fried balls

As if the pizza was not delightful enough I happened to spot some mac and cheese balls on the sides part of the menu and naturally I just had to give them a go to see if they lived up to everything my mind was telling me they would.

Of course, they did. The inside had a warm goo of gentle cheese, soft pasta and pleasing seasoning that made the mac and cheese inside itself an absolute pleasure that I would be happy to eat by the bucketful without a pizza or deep-fryer in sight. The coating around the ball had a gentle crunch and flavouring that added to the contents but was not at all greasy and had managed to stay crispy throughout the frying process.

There is no other way to describe these other than warm delightful bites of flavourful carb loaded gooeyness and are well worth getting as a side to share with friends when you take a visit to a Pizza Pilgrims store with these on offer.

You are already putting your coat and shoes on to get to London to land at a seat of PP right? If not you certainly should be because the atmosphere is very relaxed, the staff are friendly and the food is of great quality and value. Ow wait, you don’t want to leave your house? You could always get some delivered to you if you happen to live near enough!

Whittard of Chelsea Haul

Unless it is a cup of coffee, you can pass me pretty much any hot drink and I will happily sip away at it. For tea, whatever type it is, I generally go without milk and reserve all the milk use for making a rich delicious hot chocolate and with that all I need is some tea leaves, hot water and a mug to get a moment of serene bliss and calm.

Given I have reduced my alcohol intake in the last couple of months, especially in the lead up to surgery, it seemed to make sense to treat myself to more pleasant soft and hot drinks as there is only so much squash and water one person wants to drink in a day. So before I had my surgery I made a pretty hefty order from Whittard of Chelsea to give me a huge variety of loose leaf tea flavours and some delectable hot chocolate too as a big “you’ve got this and deserve to look after yourself” moment.

Apple and elderflower tea in plastic container with mini teapot over it

Some of the flavours that I selected were a little bit of a risk but they sounded promising and if they were not quite to my taste I was fairly confident I could find a way to make them work. This included a white hot chocolate in the creme brulee flavour, which given a real creme brulee isn’t something that I have actually tried myself, but luckily it turned to be a fantastic shot in the dark and is possibly my favourite of the three that I selected.

Whilst I enjoy the mango and moringa loose leaf tea it is certainly the one that has the most acquired taste and came as quite a surprise. I am not sure why it came as much of a surprise though given that the name clearly indicates that it will be a fruit and floral combination but the floral elements were the most obvious and I find it is best to drink when in the garden or with the doors open to let the fresh air in as otherwise it feels very out of place.

Whittard of Chelsea hot chocolate flavours

Usually the loose leaf tea will come in a caddy and then you can get the cardboard style refills to replenish them but given I wanted to have a number of different types I didn’t want to have numerous large caddies around. Instead I just ordered the refill items from the beginning and got several small jars to be able to pour small amounts into whilst keeping the rest in the cupboard. As the hot chocolates came in tall thin containers, which were fairly pretty, I decided to find a home for them on the kitchen counter alongside the usual Cadbury drinking chocolate pot.

Doing this method with the jars kept the amount of items on the kitchen side to a minimal as well as protecting the cardboard packaging from getting wet or splashed with cooking products such as oil. This is something that is important given the amount of storage space that we have in the flat and also because having several bulkier pieces of packaging on the side would have caused me a little discomfort and possibly put me off going anywhere near the kettle.

Sachets of tea, pots of tea and hot chocolate tubs

The products from Whittard of Chelsea might not be as cheap as some that you can get in the supermarket but the quantity that you need, the punch that the flavours provide and the detail that has gone into the notes of each item makes it clear it is a quality item that will last longer than a lot of other teas I have encountered before and therefore makes it worth every single penny.

Not only do they take care with their products they also ensure that once they head out into the postal system and to the recipient that they are well protected and maintain the quality as well. The box that the products arrived in was a thick quality cardboard box that had the brand printed around it and the inside was well packaged to ensure products did not slip and spill around; all this ensured that if it came into contact with a rainy day or some clattering in the delivery offices that nothing would happen to the products that might cause dissatisfaction or disappointment.

I will certainly be ordering from Whittard of Chelsea again in the future and would recommend them to anybody looking to expand their hot drink options by either ordering online or visiting one of the Central London stores to browse, sniff around and ask the advice of staff members on hand to assist.

Old English Company Haul*

Not long before my surgery, I was offered the opportunity to receive some products from the Old English Company*. Naturally I was very keen to accept as the entire website was full of so many delightful home and lifestyle pieces that would fit with the look I wanted to achieve around the flat.

Due to the surgery quickly approaching, it causing me to lose focus and become stressed, I was able to take the photos of the products and get them edited but was unable to put together my thoughts of them either on my social media or here on this blog. With these products still available, some even in the sale section of the website, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to now share these products with you and whether they have lived up to my expectations and, if in use, survived the initial test of time.

Mac n cheese coaster

The first place I looked on the website was the coasters as for some time my bedside cabinet needed one as a place to consistently put my drinks and also just to liven up the otherwise drab space. The minute one saying “you are the mac to my cheese” popped up in front of me I knew it was the one that I wanted. As a big lover of carbs and cheese one of my favourite dishes is mac n cheese. It is not a dish that I tend to make or eat as often as I used to but just the idea of it brings me a little bubble of happiness and makes me want to do a mini dance of joy.

This is the sort of coaster that you would possibly get somebody for a gift but I am a strong believer that each person is whole and does not need anybody else to become as amazing as mac n cheese. Yes it sounds ‘cheesy’ but I find the idea of you not being whole and needing another person to become complete really quite sad and it feeds into a very stereotypical view that everybody should and needs to be in a relationship.

The coaster itself has a shiny layer over the design that allows for it to be wiped and have drink residue on it without it becoming discoloured, ruining the design or causing any bobbling or uneven marks on the protective top coating. This helps to make the price of coaster, just under £3, feel much more worthwhile as it helps the carefully put together design of multiple typefaces (connected letters and disjointed ones) and small coloured pieces of macaroni pasta remain bright, vibrant and satisfying to look at over a longer period of time. Its only risk is that the bottom of the coaster is cork and should a larger quantity of drink be spilled it is likely to soak into the cork and risk its disintegration or weaken it to put it at greater risk in the future.

Slice of pizza pin

When I mentioned being a big lover of carbs and cheese I was not joking and further inspired by that very fact I became very attracted to a “pizza for life” enamel pin. Pins are not usually something that I tend to gravitate towards as figuring out how to style them is something that is completely out of my comfort zone and they are the sort of things that I fear will just fall off without my realising.

But the understated appearance of the pin with its black background and small silver detailing meant that I figured it might be a little easier to use as an accessory to an outfit as a fun little statement. It is also a statement that I find very important as it serves as a reminder that things like pizza, and other things so often described as ‘bad’, are actually good and important for both our body and also our general well-being; constantly suppressing the desire for things like pizza is unhealthy and soul sapping and therefore it literally provides some deeper meaning than just a slice of bread and cheese.

The attachment for the back of the pin was also a black rubber style rather than a metal fastening. This helps to add to the sleekness of the design as well as the ability for it to be incorporated into an item of clothing discreetly without it rubbing against any skin that it might come into contact with or without it causing an impression mark on an item of clothing. The type of rubber is also matte that securely sticks around the pin itself to help secure it in place without the risk of it falling off during a day of wear.

You've got this keyring

After adding the coaster to my basket I was already feeling pretty happy with myself for getting something that would be pretty useful to me but that gave me a bit of a bug to find another useful item that would also give me a pick-me-up whenever I looked at it. This ended up coming in the form of a “you’ve got this” keyring that I could carry around in my bag and look at every time I was about to lock the door and head out for the day.

Before getting this keyring it had become an increasingly risky habit for me to have my keys attached together with a piece of blue string. This string naturally became worn down and slightly tattered over time but also, despite several knots and attempts for them to be secure, the string would occasionally unravel and send the keys flying. The size of the keyring has also made it a lot easier for me to find my keys in my bag as previously they could easily roll around in my bag and fall into various compartments which made finding them in a hurry on a late rainy evening after work extremely frustrating.

As well as being good to look at and functional for keeping my keys in place it had a reasonable amount of weight to the keyring without being overly bulky. The only downfall to the gold coloured metal keyring with white writing is that it really quickly gathers fingerprints meaning it needs frequent cleaning to stop it from becoming tarnished or permanently in a state of not looking at its best!

Motivational quote print

For a little while I have been building up what might be described as a gallery wall in the lounge that largely includes motivational quotes and other things that would be classed as feminist pick-me-up images and statements. After taking a look at all the prints on offer with the Old English Company the one that stuck out to me the most was an A4 white paper print with the words “do what makes your soul happy“.

Unsurprisingly I have little additional to add about the print other than that the paper and ink feels and looks high quality. It will face the same issues as many prints do though and if not kept in the right lighting and temperature conditions start to fade and become discoloured over time.

This, and the prints in general from the company, are probably the items that I feel are the most overpriced; when they are being produced by independent sells on sites like Etsy it feels like it makes more sense as they are more likely to be producing them on demand or in small quantities but a business like Old English Company will have a higher production run and therefore be making a pretty hefty profit from such a simple design and print.

Food based tea towel

Finally I found myself back at the food based items again and came across another useful item that would liven up the flat a little and add a bit of a personal touch. After a while I settled on a rather large tea towel that they described as the “English food tea towel” which mentioned a lot of ‘traditional’ foods such as fish and chips and bangers and mash. The items on the tea towel certainly reminded me of my youth and a number of comforting homely dishes that brought back various happy memories; having them on a tea towel in the kitchen would allow me to smile but also feel inspired to cook some dishes that I had not consumed for some time.

The material of the tea towel allowed for speedy absorption of bubbles whilst also not leaving tiny bits of material over everything (a welcome relief with any new towel). As well as the material working well for its intended purpose the size of the tea towel is also large enough to dry up a huge amount of items without it becoming drenched or overwhelmed. After a number of washes and accidentally getting several things spilt on it the colour of the tea towel remained a consistent grey background with white writing spread throughout it but it does seem like something that is likely to fade or fall foul to a stain sooner rather than later.

Is there anything that catches your eye on the Old English Company website? If so I would love to find out what it is and what attracts you to it in the comments below.

*Products gifted for PR purposes. All thoughts on the products are my own opinions and not those of the company.