Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Gracie Goes...into the real world.

It’s official- I’ve graduated. I am not a student, I am a graduate.
One of those people in the funny hats that have a degree- that’s ME!

I spent three years studying English Literature at the University of Leicester and left with not just a certificate, but lifelong friends and about a hundred new books.
So what now? Well, I accepted a place on Graduate Scheme, that’s the main bit I guess.
Call me crazy but I actually LOVED the whole graduate recruitment thing. I got a little obsessed with it to tell you the truth. I spent hours researching all the different graduates schemes and jobs and really enjoyed writing answers to questions, the buzz of interviews, giving presentations, assessment centres and the best part…getting offers!
It’s something I’m strangely passionate about so don’t be surprised when some lengthy graduate recruitment posts appear!
Since graduating and beginning my new job, I’ve been wanting to shake my life up a bit.
It’s nearly my birthday and I’ve got a feeling that 22 is going to be my year.
I have big plans and even bigger ambitions.

Let’s see if any of them materialise!

Gracie Goes is Changing...

I’ve decided to shake up my blog a bit.
I feel like a new chapter has started and I don’t want to miss a single minute of it.
I also feel older, it’s weird. I’ve only just turned 22 but after meeting like-minded people and working in an office of colleagues much older than me I feel like working life is doing me good.
I’m more ambitious. Lots of my friends might argue this isn’t possible, but I really am. I want to see and do and be involved in EVERYTHING.
I’m also more confident, maybe not confident but just sure of myself. More comfortable. And happy- see below photo for proof.
So I think I've decided I want to write more personal things. I’m going to write about life as a 22 year old finishing Uni and attempting to take on the world.

Saturday, 4 July 2015

to LICC; the Luxury Ice Cream Company, York

Just a quick blog post today as the weather is b e a utiful and we should all be making the most of it! I'm finally back in my hometown and favourite city of York and I couldn't be happier! There are so many things I love about my city but one of the main things has got to be the incredible amount of independent bars, restaurants, cafe's and shops inside the city walls. Today, in keeping with the sunshine, we're going to go down one of York's many side streets to cool down in the cutest mini ice cream parlour EVER!

Tucked behind Brown's department store down a street named Back Swinegate lies the Luxury Ice Cream Company, or as they like to be called; LICC. 

The shop front is small but trust me you cannot miss it! The first clue you are nearby is a small line of bright pink umbrellas and seating outside- perfect for the summer!

York doesn't have many shops wholly dedicated to ice cream but LICC pulls out all of the stops to be the best and most typically adorable ice cream and sweetshop. The outside of the parlour is bursting with cute features; mini trees line the doorway, bunting hangs from the windows and even the sign is shaped like an ice cream.

For me, what I have always really loved about LICC is the way in which it manages to be busy, packed full to bursting with decorations and quirks yet is not in the slightest bit tacky or cluttered. All of the decorations- and yes, there are a LOT- seem to fit nicely together and have been picked tastefully so the parlour just feels cosy and pretty and still holds that element of luxury that the name indicates. The prettiness extends to the inside of LICC too as bright colours, vintage sweet adverts and jars of sweets from both past and present adorn the walls.

Seating is limited, with only four or five tables inside and three outside although a lot of people like to eat ice cream whilst exploring the city and as the Minster is a stones throw away from LICC I imagine most people head out with their treats. If you do decide do sit in however, you will be surrounded by colour and sat on vintage looking pink chairs and tables.

Now for the important part- the ice cream! It's worth mentioning that alongside the ice cream and sweets, LICC also have a selection of homemade cakes and coffees to choose from although in the 27 degree heat I only had eyes for the ice cream!

Here we are! Rows and rows of the stuff! The flavours change fairly often as LICC makes its own ice cream and therefore every time you go there could well be a new surprise! The best part is, if you're curious about a flavour or unsure you can just ask for a taste...which is exactly what I did with the brown bread ice cream (it was delicious by the way!). Tubs or cones, ice cream or sorbet, chocolates or fruit there is absolutely an ice cream for everyone! From standard vanilla, chocolate and strawberry to oreo, malteaser, ginger, chocolate brownie and ferrero rocher you can imagine the time it takes to decide which to pick!

To make life even harder, there are all sorts of sauces, toppings and even chocolate figures that you can add to your ice cream to make it that bit more special. For those that are simply too indecisive there is a menu so sundaes and old favourites such as a knickerbocker glory and banana split are all up for grabs!

I couldn't resist the chocolate brownie ice cream complete with real homemade brownie inside and paired it with the malteaser ice cream- a little more vanilla-y but crammed with malteasers and flecks of chocolate. Heavenly!

My partner in crime for the day, Kim, chose completely different to me, opting for the cherry bakewell ice cream and was overjoyed when she discovered a third of a real cherry bakewell hidden inside! She couldn't resist a bit of chocolate either and teamed her cherry with the cookies and cream ice cream. Not a lot of talking went on as we sat outside and demolished the lot!

There we have it! One of my favourite place in York full stop! For coffee and a cake or to enjoy the city's best ice cream from a local business head to 20 Back Swinegate and look out for the pink!

How have you been enjoying the weather? What flavour would you pick?

G x

Sunday, 28 June 2015

to Northern Cobbler, Leicester

The newest business to open it's doors on the cosmopolitan Queens Road, Leicester is the quirky cafe-come-footwear store Northern Cobbler. Filled with merchandise and well made leather shoes, the business also retails homemade cakes and coffee and stays open later than all other cafes on the street. Perfect to catch up with friends on a late afternoon!

The space is light and airy and it seems the owners and brand have a penchant for wood! This creates a clean and minimal space that is not cluttered with tables and chairs. Instead the space is left open and, whilst there isn't an abundance of seating, we managed to get a large table with no problem at all and for hotter days there is the option to have your coffee and cake outside in the sun.

I, personally, quite like the large table as it allows conversation between groups to flow however there are individual tables for those preferring a more private outing.

The cafe is filled with a mismatch of furniture that showcases the items for sale in a really quirky way that, whilst not being to my own taste, is unique and interesting as when looking around the shop there is always something new to be spotted.

Enough about the surroundings and onto the most important part for me... the edibles! The counter top is laden with delicious homemade cakes freshly made that day- and once they're gone they're gone.

Carrot cake, peanut butter slices and red velvet cake line the wood making it really hard to resist a nibble with a drink. 

I spotted the savoury donut and was intrigued by the combination of tomato and spices that were said to be inside...

It was an odd but satisfying combination of flavours as the product looks identical to a donut and the mind almost expects a sweet and sugary taste. For a nibble, the savoury donut was perfectly nice however I won't be rushing back to get my fix of them. The cakes, on the other hand, I have been told are fantastic. All this food needed washing down and as I seemed to go to Northern Cobbler on the hottest day of the year so far it was only fitting that I skipped the coffee and try out the iced drinks.

My homemade still lemonade was to die for. I'm not usually a fan of overly sour or strong flavours but there was the perfect balance of lemon and I didn't pull a face when drinking it so I knew it wasn't too sour!

It was so refreshing- perfect for the summery days we have been having!

The shop is a complete anomaly and so different from anywhere I have ever been to before. Is it a shop? Is it a cafe? To tell you the truth it's both however if any of the well made, fine leather shoes take your fancy you'll be looking at a minimum of £200 so this is no greasy spoon! From parents on a school run to students and professionals sat with laptops, Northern Cobbler seems to appeal to all. It's a bit of a secret at the moment but as the word gets out and the concept is understood I have a feeling that this independent store will rival its near neighbour of Costa.

Have you every been to a cafe like this?

Happy Sunday everyone!

G x

Thursday, 11 June 2015

to The Cosy Club, Leicester

In the centre of Leicester, behind the Highcross Food Court lies a doorway that you would be forgiven for not noticing. For those that are enticed into the Cosy Club however, a large expanse of wooden flooring, colourful walls and of course, cosy cushions and sofas fill the former knitwear factory. Join me on my flying visit for a quick dinner!

By night, the queue to enter The Cosy Club winds down the road as the well made, strong and tasty cocktails are infamous in Leicester's nightlife scene. By day, the open and airy space is transformed into a restaurant able to hold 130 people and therefore is surprisingly large to be called 'cosy'.

The walls still contain original date plaques and the venue has chosen to keep its history by including original textile pieces from the factory days on the walls. These lay alongside the colourful and eclectic mix of portraits, bioloical diagrams and bird paintings that cover every inch of the wallspace.

We sat at our table and took in the decor...

The Cosy Club combines quirky with cosy as hanging, simplistic lights contrast the plush sofa areas. It feels quintessentially British with florals and the Union Jack. It may be the word 'club' in the name and the styling of the menus but, to me, there is an air of secret prohibition party in the restaurant. 

The modern vintage theme is everywhere- including the menus!


As we drove in, unfortunately we didn't sample the cocktails on this occasion however we did have a peek at the food menu! Lunch sandwiches and paninis are served until 6pm whereas the extensive a la carte menu is an all day affair. Dishes ranging from tapas and burgers to steak and seafood are listed by the dozen and on certain days offers are available making dining at The Cosy Club a very affordable outing.

I am a sucker for the pulled pork phase that the country seems to be going through and decided on the pulled pork burger complete with sweetcorn and sour cream relish and, of course, chips.

I asked for my relish on the side and it was presented to me on floral paper that continued the theme.

It was absolutely packed with barbecued pork!

As my friend was going out that night she opted for a lighter meal and chose a panini...but even she couldn't resist the pulled pork! Once again, she specified no jalepenos and the kitchen prepared our meals exactly as we wanted.

The restaurant was relatively quiet when we entered at around half past five however another friend spent their evening there for cocktails and described it almost unrecognisable to my experience. Packed with partygoers, she spent the evening sipping cocktails on a sofa and couldn't believe how busy the place got!

All in all, for a very affordable meal The Cosy Club is a very good option. The food is nice but is also very standard and not dissimilar to a dinner trip to Vodka Revolution.

I shall have to pop in one evening as the business of the bar is a good indicator that The Cosy Club is one of Leicester's best evening hotspots!

Have you ever been to a Cosy Club? Where are your favourite bars?

G x

Sunday, 7 June 2015

to Bill's, Coney Street, York

The weather in the UK this week has FINALLY started feeling like Summer and what better way to kick start the sunny season by having a spot of brunch with an old friend?!

Back in my hometown of York it seems as though every other shop is a restaurant, cafe, bar or pub and the city is lucky enough to be home to some fabulous independent eateries. These local businesses are usually my restaurants of choice however this morning I ventured to Bill's. a chain originating from East Sussex, to sample their brunch menu and have a catch up.

The first thing that strikes you when walking into Bill's is the decor. Every crevice of the restaurant is filled with decorative hat stands, bottles and produce from Bill's own shop.

Industrial pipes crawl across the ceiling whilst decadent chandeliers and lamps hang from their joints. The entire interior exudes a vibrant energy as flashes of coloured labels and quirky bottles line the shelving and yet, as opposed to feeling busy the place simply feels cosy.

Brunch is served at Bill's until 12 noon and the menu really does have a selection for everybody. Lovers of eggs will be in heaven as eggs benedict, florentine and royale grace the menu alongside classics such as scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. There is also, of course, the standard full English breakfast and vegetarian counterpart as well as healthier options of granola and the not so virtuous all american pancakes!

The acoustic sounds of James Bay and Ray LaMontagne floated around the restaurant as a friendly waitress took our drinks order. Half tempted to be healthy I asked what was in the 'Bill's Green Juice' and was informed it is a concoction of spinach, apple, banana and grape amongst other fruits. Naturally I then opted for the chocolate brownie milkshake which came complete with whipped cream and flake...did someone say dessert for breakfast?!

My strong willed friend did a better job on the health front than me and ordered the watermelon, peach and raspberry juice. It arrived bright pink and garnished with a humongous piece of watermelon. She said it was delicious and I must admit even I was tempted by the attractive colour and sweet flavour.

It wasn't long before our food order was taken and alongside our breakfasts I also ordered a bread basket. As well as serving food, Bill's also produces its own juices, condiments, preserves and nibbles all available to purchase in the restaurant. Ordering the bread basket was a great way to try before you buy as our waitress brought over a selection of Bill's own jams to accompany the croissants in the basket.

The basket arrived full to the brim with toast, croissants and pain au chocolates as well as a generous amount of butter. Silly as it sounds, I really appreciated having a good amount of butter as the number of times I have had to ask for more butter when having breakfast out is unbelievable- brownie points from me on that front!

Our breakfast came next and again, I had ordered the not so healthy buttermilk pancakes complete with maple syrup, blueberries, strawberries and streaky bacon. It took me right back to my trip to Miami! 

I kidded myself that I was being healthy with the fruit and enjoyed the combination of sweet syrup and salty bacon...

My partner in crime for the day chose the complete opposite of me and was swept away by the sight of another diner's smoked salmon. Although my photograph doesn't do it justice, her plate was piled high with scrambled egg and a generous serving of smoked salmon and we both agreed we would have to come back to try other dishes as our first brunch had been so tasty.

As we finished our brunch I noticed a bar in the corner- I will definitely have to come back for dinner one evening as the A La Carte menu looked amazing and the cocktail list is calling me!

On warm days like today the front of the restaurant opens up like a french door allowing a breeze in and diners to feel as though they are sat outside. I can't wait to come back here for a cocktail and to watch the world go by!

All of the Bill's products are on display in the entrance to Bill's making it difficult to leave without being tempted into a purchase!

All in all we had a lovely brunch at Bill's. Both the food and service were really high quality and our breakfasts were SO tasty! My only downside would be the price of the drinks. For me personally, £4-£5 for a standard sized glass of milkshake or juice is pretty steep and perhaps these are more like London prices that I am not used to in my little city! That said, we chose to have these drinks as opposed to juices or soft drinks and therefore I can't really complain as I would go back to Bill's in a heartbeat!

I hope you're enjoying the start of Summer as much as me!

What's your favourite breakfast? Do you ever go for brunch?

G x