Last month ASK Italian took Jess (from Cocoa Chelsea) and I to Venice, Italy- to eat like an Italian (which is the dream!). If you follow me on Instagram (or YouTube, I uploaded a daily vlog here) you may have seen a few photos/videos already but if you haven’t I thought I would update you.

 We had a super early flight out of Gatwick and once we landed in Venice we jumped in a Taxi Boat to the city and I must admit it was quite the experience- I wouldn’t mind getting a taxi boat everywhere! Once we checked into our hotel the eating started and we went on a food & drink walking tour. We made our way around the Bacari’s, drank Aperol Spritz and ate all the cicchetti we could.
With a tummy lined with delicious food, we did a little bit of exploring, we wondered around the tiny streets, followed the signs to Basilica de San Marco and picked up some gelato for a touristy photo over the canals. I hadn’t Googled Venice before the trip so didn’t know what to expect but it’s beautiful, we didn’t get to go inside the Basilica (saving that for next time) but even the outside was breathtaking. We ended the afternoon at Danieli Hotel for cocktails on the terrace before it started to rain and we had to take it inside.

But the best part of the trip was in the evening…

We jumped in a taxi boat back to our hotel to get ready for dinner, I didn’t have time for much, I just added a bit of dry shampoo and changed into a jumpsuit but I was so excited for dinner!
We were lucky enough to have the opportunity to eat at a Venetian Family’s home, share their dinner table and food. The table was set up outdoors and absolutely stunning, we started the delicious food outside but were interrupted by lightning, thunder and rain. We managed to have our antipasti outside and the most delicious pesto pasta but ran inside, plate in hand for meatballs and tiramisu. I can’t do the evening much justice but I hope you can tell from the photos and my video just how magical it was, huge thanks to ASK Italian for organising it!

Day two in Venice started again quite early for me, I think I was just excited so couldn’t sleep, I went for a little wander before breakfast as there’s something very special about getting up before all the tourists are out. It was Burano-day and I had very much been looking forward to it since I had seen it on Instagram.

We took the water bus and arrived on the beautiful island, lined with beautifully multicoloured house and we were very lucky to have the sun shining. If you’re ever in Venice then make an effort to get to Burano, it’s well worth the trip! We wandered around, took photos, ate more ice cream and had a delicious lunch at Trattoria al Gatto Nero.
And to end the trip perfectly we finished with a Gondola ride. We got to wear the gondolier’s hat and see the city from the small narrow canals and we did ask the gondoliers to sing but he told us he only sings to his wife!

Overall, an amazing trip and huge thanks to ASK Italian for having me. Since I’ve been back I’ve been dreaming of the pasta and have been into ASK Italian for a cheeky bowl or two. Find your local ASK Italian here

I really didn’t think I’d fall for Venice like I did but I’m already desperate to go back!

PS. Post coming up soon about Spain!


I’ve been back from Madeira almost two weeks now and I’m already missing it.

It was my fifth time there, as Michael has family on the island but I think I was starting to take it for granted;  however this time round I explored it with new eyes and fell in love all over again. I’ll do an in-depth guide soon but for now, I want to share my lovely afternoon at the Reid’s Palace for afternoon tea.

Michael had been paragliding in the early afternoon and after getting a little sunburnt watching him, we headed across the island to Funchal. I’d spotted Reid’s Palace before as it’s a beautiful pink building and seeing as I love an afternoon tea, it was the perfect opportunity to visit.

Reid’s Palace is so unlike most of the other hotels on the island, it has quite a British feel so it, which I actually love, especially as it’s very much a luxury hotel. Back to the afternoon tea. Although I love afternoon tea, this was actually Michael’s first and it was a spectacular first. Afternoon tea is served on the most beautiful terrace, with an amazing sea view- unlike any other afternoon tea I have ever experienced. The tea list was extensive – which was convenient as Michael hates tea- I’ll admit he added a stupid amount of sugar but actually enjoyed the tea (or at least the sugar.)

The standard afternoon tea comes with (as you would expect) delicious sandwiches, scones and cakes, all sourced locally. It was the perfect amount of luxury: a good classic afternoon tea, in a beautiful location but nothing too showy.

The waiters were all very friendly and we may have taken them up on their offer to refill a few of the sandwiches and scones – they were just that good!
Probably one of my favourite afternoon teas ever; the setting really made it a wonderful experience.
After an hour of enjoying the view and the delicious food, we were lucky enough to be given a tour of the hotel. My favourite part was the hall which housed all the photos and history of the hotel – I didn’t photograph it but it you ever visit, I would highly recommend spending half-an-hour exploring. It was amazing to see all the iconic figures that have stayed at the hotel over the years and how the hotel has developed- the hotel is 125 years old and with the incredible history to prove it.

We explored the suites, inspired by both England and Portugal, the outdoor area, the spa and the sea area, where visitors use to dock when visiting the hotel when it first opened. If you’re ever in Madeira I can’t recommend Reid’s Palace enough; I haven’t stayed the night but I would imagine it’s a dream. If it’s a little out of your price range then I would recommend at least popping in for afternoon tea. It’s pretty affordable, especially compared to London prices.

I’ll be back soon for another serving of tea.

ps. If you are visiting in the summer months, remember men have to wear long trousers for the afternoon tea, Michael went wearing smart shorts and had to return to the car where he luckily had a pair of trousers or the hotel would have had to lend him a pair.

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Before my holiday in Portugal, I spent the night in Windsor in a beautiful hotel which I just have to tell you about.

I’m always on the lookout for cool places to stay just outside of London to get away even for just a day and relax. I’ll share all my favourite places soon but if you haven’t been to Windsor I would highly recommend it.

The whole trip was planned by AccorHotels and I was lucky enough to tour a few of their London ones before hand. The tour started in Euston at the Ibis Euston, when I’m on a budget but still want a nice hotel I always go for an Ibis as I find them to be a great price point and I think I might book another one for a trip I’m considering next month.
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However I really fell in love with The Pullman Hotel, I’ve driven past it so many times and had no idea just how beautiful it is inside! Really modern and luxurious as well as located in Kings Cross so in a great location too. We stopped here for some canapes and cocktails and they were really good, it’s a great location for weekend drinks or even work lunch/drinks and the decor is very chic.
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For our main dinner we headed to Novotel London Brentford where we had a Moijos in a bag (genius idea!) and a chicken main, again the food was delicious and decor was perfect, maybe not quite as beautiful as The Pullman but not close behind. Location wise it is a little further out near Chiswick but it’s just off the M4 so easy to get to and a great option if you’re looking for a hotel in the area.
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Our final stop and where we stayed the night was the Mercury Castle Hotel in Windsor. If you haven’t been to Windsor it’s a really great little town a short drive/train journey from London with things to see and do or also the perfect place to relax. Even if you’re not planning on exploring Windsor and are just looking to relax I’d still highly recommend the Castle hotel, the service was better than in most hotels, decor is perfect for a non-city hotel and I slept amazingly. I had a really lovely evening enjoying a cocktail before just chilling in the super comfy bed.

Breakfast was also amazing, I enjoyed my tea in bed before tucking into my full English breakfast. We even managed to catch the changing of the guards before we left, although it did start to rain heavily!

Can’t wait to visit the Mercury Castle Hotel again and if The Pullman wasn’t so close to my house I’d simply have to book to stay there, such beautiful hotels!

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Although the bf and I go out for dinner all the time I don’t think we really do enough other date night (probably my fault) so this weekend we went bowling, just the two of us and it was such good fun!

I’ll admit that I never win him at anything that required physical activity other than at a golf driving range and he totally taught me everything I know. I’m not the best loser so luckily he also helped me through bowling and I think I got my first spare and strike in the last ten years!

We went to All Star Bowling Lanes which I’ve actually been to before and it’s by far the best bowling alley I’ve ever been to! It’s not too big and I would recommend booking but it’s got a real luxurious feel to it.

After our two games of bowling (and yes I lost both) we, of course, had to have dinner, because what is date night with no food? The menu is very American-inspired, with all the burgers, hot dogs and nachos you would expect. We shared a Popcorn Squid, which is probably the best squid I’ve ever had as I love crispy food and I went for the Meatball Hoagie off the specials menu, Mike got a burger and we shared some chips. Actually, we ended up sharing our whole meal, since sharing is caring and he really wanted to try the meatballs.

The meatballs were so good and I’d highly recommend them (I did remove the cheese on my half as I try not to eat dairy) but they are limited edition so you’ll have to get in there this month to try them for yourself. Oh, also get the Gin and Elderflower Julep Jar, such a good cocktail!

Would highly recommend All Stars for a date night or just hanging out with friends and there are four London locations and one in Manchester but check out their website for more info.

What should we do for our next date night? I was thinking some sort of exhibition, please leave recommendations in the comments

I saw a programme on TV where they were making Beetroot cake and was instantly intrigued. I like vegetables but beetroot is potentially one of my least favourite, far too earthy for me, however chocolate is one of my favourite things ever so I decided that a chocolate beetroot cake had the potential to be quite nice.

I’m really no baking queen so went for the easiest recipe I found which was the Blitz and Bake Beetroot cake on the BBC Good Food Website. It was really easy to make, I simply put all the ingredients together in a food processor, blitzed and baked in the oven for an hour. I didn’t actually have the right tin for it so it ended up a little over cooked but was still really delicious and there was no beetroot taste at all, just a great chocolate cake! I was tempted to say that it’s a healthier alternative but there is still quite a lot of sugar so it probably isn’t.

Beetroot cake is also quite a nice conversation starter too since most people don’t put veggies (other than carrots) in their chocolate cake! What other unusual cakes have you had recently?

I’ve also spotted a few more Blitz & Bake recipes which I’m tempted to try next…