Saturday, August 20

Summer Food Fest | West Quay, Southampton

Many of you know my love for West Quay. It's a shopping centre about 45 minute drive from Bournemouth, but it's got a bit more on offer. I particularly love the Victoria Secret Store, and I often pop just outside for the big Primark too. 

On Tuesday, I was kindly invited for dinner as part of West Quay's Summer Food Fest, along with four other fellow bloggers. I was lucky enough to do this last year too, to celebrate all that's good to eat, with tons of discounts and offers valid throughout the school summer holidays until the beginning of September. To give us a good taster of what's on offer, we had starter in Nandos, mains in Handmade Burger Co and dessert at Snog. The top floor of West Quay is filled with great restaurants, including some of my favourites, Wagamams and YO Sushi too.

I've never had starter at Nandos, so it was good opportunity to try this part of the menu. First up we had their Wing Roulette, 10 chicken wings of all the flavours they have in the restaurant, but without the flags, so you don't know if it's really mild or really hot! We also had garlic bread, halloumi, houmous, olives and nuts. Delicious.

We had our mains at Handmade Burger Co and this time, I knew not to over order, because it's super filling! I went for the Hawaiian burger, with chicken, bacon and pineapple. We ordered sweet potato and normal fries to share too, which are really nice. I also had a naughty treat of an Oreo milkshake, so so good. Plus, how pretty are these lights and the view of the city? Love it.

Finally, as if we weren't full enough, we stopped at Snog. I had no idea it had opened in West Quay! As it's brand new for this year. I opted for Chocolate frozen yoghurt, with white chocolate shavings and strawberries. I love how you can truly customise exactly what you like and would definitely recommend stopping by Snog! (It's near Millie's Cookies & New Look downstairs).

If you download the West Quay Plus App, it has tons of offers, news, competitions and events. You can also pick individual stores and restaurants, and see what time they're open until. V handy. At the moment, you can take your time and relax, as you can shop until 8pm and dine until 9pm on weeknights. I like being about to eat later with an extra hour for food. Plus, if you park after 5pm, it's only £1. Woo!

Massive thanks to West Quay for treating myself, Alice, Rosie, Sam and Ellisha to dinner. I'll be back very soon!

*This post is not sponsored. I was kindly invited to experience this and was not asked to write a review. I just love WQ. 

Thursday, August 18

Finding My First Flat

After a year in the making, several lists of my expenses, hours on Rightmove and around 15 viewings later, I found my very first flat and have settled in rather nicely.

My parents divorced when I was 15. My mum got her first mortgage and together with my brother, we moved out of our family home. For the next five years, my mums house was the perfect home for growing into adulthood. I used to walk back and forth from school, had a boyfriend or two who were always welcome to stay (one even lived with us at one point!), and I learnt to drive around all the quiet roads. I really didn't appreciate life at my mums and after several arguments with her and my brother, I thought it might be the right time to have a change and live with my dad.

Over the last year, life at Dads was a whole new living experience. Boyfriends weren't welcome, showers late at night weren't allowed, rent was more, dinner wasn't always cooked and no one was doing my washing. REALITY CHECK. I didn't go to Uni but I was working three jobs and keeping myself to myself. The year at my dads taught me a hell of a lot, I started cooking a few meals (basic but it was a start), nailed my washing (colour catchers FOR THE WIN) and gained patience in respecting other people's space. But it made me really want my own. I was ready to move out but I didn't have the money to do so.

I focused on paying off a big trip to America and once I returned, saved enough in 7 months to afford the deposit, rent and some moving in fees for a flat. The year at my dad's was up and I was outstaying my welcome. I returned to my mum's who offered to help me find a flat and support me with setting it up. She reassured me there wasn't a rush and that I could take my time with my search.

So the flat hunt began again. I had two options. Either a 1 bed place for myself, or a larger (but cheaper) place with a friend or two. I looked at places with friends but in the end, decided I'd rather be on my own. 

I viewed so many places before I found it but knew it was 'the one' the minute I walked in. It was a requirement of mine to stay close to my mums, the beach and town, feel safe, have car parking, and enough space for a double bed. Bonus things included having a bath too. 

It's been three months and so far, I've been loving everything about it. Even managing my bills (which is always going to be a challenge) has been weirdly enjoyable for me. Here's a rundown of my first few months:

- I'm not very good at cooking. I really need to up my game and try harder. Any recipes welcome.
- I've had one washing disaster with my new machine, ruined my favourite jumper and cried about it. 
- I became addicted to DVDs and TV shows like Love Island, because living alone means this is my new priority when I'm not working.
- The top floor flat had a leak and it dripped for about an hour on my fourth night in.
- My washer/dryer broke and I begged my landlord to replace it for me. He did. THANK GOD. I'm very lucky to have a nice landlord.

- My neighbour bought me a bottle of wine and chatted about the other neighbours for almost an hour on my day off.  Not sure if this is normal but, at least he's friendly!
- I got a call in the middle of the night from the flat above claiming they had a leak again...turns out they just wanted me to join their party. All boys. All single. All very embarrassing. (Still waiting for an apology...)

I took these pictures (mainly for me for memories) of before and after I did the place up in 48 hours! It's not super girly or new like I imagine my first house will be (one day), but it's perfect for me for now.





My flat means so much more to me than I can put into words. It's my HOME. My little escape. My peace and quiet. My little haven. MINE. No one to tell me where I can and can't leave my shoes. It's a feeling I can't quite explain unless you've moved out too.

A lot of people have asked if I've felt lonely. Honesty, no! Not even once! I LOVE living alone. When I'm not at the flat, I know there's no one else messing it up. I can hang my washing everywhere and leave it hanging until I want to put it away. I do the dishes when I want. I can even walk around in my underwear if I want. You get the idea.

I also made a flat tour so have a watch if you haven't already:

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