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All Posts By Claire James

Wine Pairing: Everything you need to know

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Trying to successfully pair wine and food is a difficult and challenging task that see’s many people take a vastly different approaches.

There are the people who don’t care at all about what they are eating and drinking. “Food is fuel. I eat what I want. I drink what I want. Grab the bottle that’s closest to you and let’s get some grub inside of us.” Then there are also the people who are looking for the ultimate food and wine pairing, who want to take their time to taste every beautiful mouthful and wash it down with the perfect flavour alongside their meal.

Wine can be daunting. There are loads of wine-producing countries, hundreds of grape varieties, thousands of regions and many thousands of producers. But just because wine is often daunting to the newcomer doesn’t mean you should be intimidated.

If you would like to find out more about the best foods to pair with your wines, read on.

Match the food and wine flavours

Consistently match flavours in the wine with flavours in the food. If the wine has a smoky or oaky aroma, then serve it alongside a smoky meal that will complement its taste. If the wine has a hint of dark berries, then make a sauce that contains similar berries in order to match the wine and the meal. Pairing wines and food is all about making tastes that match that people will be ab le to appreciate..

Opposites attract when matching your foods

If you have learnt anything from the Chinese, it’s that sweet and sour complement each other very well. You will be able to create a beautiful meal by pouring yourself a large glass of beautifully sweet and fruity wine alongside a salty dish for dinner.

High tannin complements fat

If you decide that you want to have a quick glance at your wine racks made of oak and retrieve a bottle that has high tannin, then a nice pairing is to serve foods which fatty proteins, like duck, to balance out all of the fats and acids with  it. Keep all of the sauces condensed and well-cooked as too much alcohol highlights the tannin. Low tannin wines work well with light white proteins.

High acidity matches acidic foods

If you have decided to serve a wine with a rather high acidity. You may want to make a meal with an equal amount of acidity to compliment the dish. This means not using too much salt so you can highlight the wine and compliment it nicely.

Heavy wine with heavy foods

The perfect pairing with heavy wine is, naturally, heavy food. The golden rule is that the heavier the wine is, the heavier the food can be. Heavy wines are perfect pairings for meat, roasted or in stews. Meats like wild boar will stand up to a heavy wine.

Delicate wine with delicate foods

Similarly to foods that work well with heavy wine, delicate wine, that you may serve on a wine tasting display rack, needs delicate food and cooking. All food that is going to be eaten with alongside delicate wine has to be simple. Deep fried meals can ruin a delicate wines flavour. Make sure you know what delicate foods pair well with delicate wines as you can make a mistake quite easily.

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How Coffee can help you Shed That Excess Weight

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Its official, nutritionists are now claiming that our beloved coffee may be able to help you lose weight! You consume cup after cup of that bitter black nectar at the break of dawn every day to help you get through the morning blues, but it could also be helping you to shed those few extra pounds.

Apparently, if you consume a cup of coffee every morning before breakfast every morning, it will not only boost your concentration and levels of energy, but it will also aid weight loss. This is due to the fact that your daily cup of coffee can help boost your metabolic rate, by stimulating thermogenesis, helping you in turn to burn more fat. It also happens to contain chlorogenic acid, which helps to slow down the absorption of It That Must Not Be Names (carbohydrates). It also stimulates the hormone epinephrine, which helps the body to break down fat and prevents your body from storing so much of it. So if there are any coffee vending machines  at your place of work, it might be worth moving desks near it so you can drink at your will.

The caffeine in just one cup of coffee can boost calorie burning by four percent over the course of two and a half hours. Not bad for a nice cup of molten. Make sure to avoid all of the added sugars and creams in order to reap the full benefits that coffee can provide. That means that black coffee is probably your best bet.

It’s now time to burst your coffee-related bubble in terms of how far this affects you and how often you can drink the dark nectar. It goes without saying that you’re not going to reap any benefits if you are necking milky lattes, cappuccinos and triple shot Frappuccino’s with extra whipped cream and chocolate sauce (as if I even had to mention that one, right?).  Fatty and sweet coffee’s like these will, of course, add more calories to your system than it will be able to burn and is therefore void when mentioning how coffee can help you lose weight. This article is, therefore, aimed at people who enjoy a steaming cup of bitter black coffee in the morning.

You should not read this article and start necking coffee’s like there is no tomorrow though. Drinking too much coffee will diminish its fat burning benefits and make you immune to its powers! You, therefore, have to drink wisely and drink enough coffee to feel the effects, but not enough that you become immune!

And you really do have to drink it first thing in the morning – otherwise the benefits are diminished.

So there you have it, if you are a massive coffee fan and fancy losing a few pounds in weight, it could be a useful little gem of knowledge if someone ever comments on your coffee obsession!

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5 Ways Your Mattress Affects Your Sleep Quality

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The right mattress can make all the difference between a refreshing night’s sleep and a night that’s spent tossing and turning, searching desperately for a comfortable position to sleep in.

On average, most store-bought mattresses are designed to provide seven to 10 years of good quality support and comfort. Despite this, many people continue using their mattresses for far longer, affecting everything from their quality of sleep to their posture and general health.

Below, we’ve listed five ways your mattress can directly affect your sleep quality, from the level of support it provides for your body to its comfort level, cleanliness and more.

It provides support for your back

As we covered in our post on the best mattresses for a bad back, choosing the right mattress can have a significant impact on your posture, spinal health and general wellbeing.

A good mattress should help to keep your back straight and supported at night. If you sleep on your back, your mattress should provide enough firmness to keep it straight and health, letting you wake up feeling fresh and ready to start the day.

On the other hand, a poor quality, overly soft mattress can let your back sink into your bed too much, leaving you with limited support and a higher risk of developing soreness.

It provides a fresh sleeping environment

Over time, dust and debris can build up in your mattress, making it less hygienic than it used to be. This is particularly common if your bedroom is a dusty environment with limited exposure to the outside air.

While this might not seem like a big deal, it can have an impact on your respiratory health and general wellbeing. A good mattress should support your sleep quality by providing a clean and dust-free sleeping environment that helps you avoid coughs, sore throats and illness.

It prevents you from tossing and turning

While it’s normal to spend a short amount of time getting comfortable before you fall asleep, if you toss and turn for an hour or longer on average before falling asleep, it could be a sign that your mattress doesn’t provide the level of comfort and support you need.

When your mattress isn’t a good fit for you, it can feel impossible to find a comfortable sleeping position. This is a good signal that you might need a firmer (if you sink into your mattress a little too much) or softer (if you feel pressure on your joints or back) mattress.

It should provide the highest sleep quality

Do you notice yourself sleeping better in hotel beds than you do in your own? While it might not seem like a big deal, this can be a reliable sign that your mattress doesn’t provide the right level of comfort to give you a good night’s sleep.

In general, your mattress should provide the highest quality sleep for you personally. If you find yourself sleeping better in other beds, it’s usually a reliable signal that you need to change to a more suitable mattress, or consider an add-on such as a mattress topper.

It should offer more than enough space for you

Finally, your mattress should provide enough space for you to sleep comfortable, without ever feeling cramped or confined.

If you find it difficult or uncomfortable to fully extend your legs while you sleep, it’s a good sign that your mattress is due for replacement. This is common for people in their late teens or early 20’s, who might have grown in height since they first started using their mattress.

It’s also important to have enough horizontal space. If you don’t have enough space to roll over or extend your arms while sleeping, it’s worth considering switching to a wider bed and mattress for a higher average level of sleep quality.

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Legendary restaurateur Catling reveals shock new launch

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The man behind some of the nation’s most celebrated bars and restaurants is set to unveil a surprise addition to his portfolio, deep in the stunning South Cambridgeshire countryside.

The Belle, located in Bassingbourn-cum-Kneesworth, a beautiful village just outside the market town of Royston, will open in March of this year. 

The restaurant comes blessed with the Midas touch of David Catling, the genius who counts the Pitcher and Piano, the Jazz Cafe and the Reading Festival amongst his success stories.

“This is a really exciting moment,” said David Catling.

“A huge amount of passion and time has gone into creating somewhere special that people will be excited to visit yet feel relaxed as soon as they step in the door.”

The glamorous launch will be an exciting addition for the local area.

David Catling has used his muscle to secure sumptuous, specially-commissioned artwork for the Belle from world famous artist Terry Bradley.

“The best bar in the world is regarded as the Dead Rabbit in New York,” revealed Catling. “It is a fabulous bar and it is well known for the Bradley artwork. I’ve had the same artistic genius create some special pieces for us.”

The venue was keen to establish a strong identity based on the designs and was inspired by history. 

“Belle was named after the Memphis Belle,” said Catling. “A Second World War bomber station close to the venue. The artwork at the original Belle public house was very masculine. I wanted to change this to something that reflected the spirit and link to the Memphis Belle, the painted lady icon on the front of the bombers. Terry Bradley has now created ‘Belle’ for us, a burlesque woman similar in style to the original 1940’s Memphis Belle. It looks stunning and adds a real stylistic theme to the venue.”

The Belle customers are set for a culinary treat, Catling’s reputation for producing the finest cuisine has been well earned.

Perfection is the key demand for all his outlets.

“We’ve created a menu that will change with the seasons, using the finest British ingredients but with an exotic twist to reflect the vibrancy and flavour of the Mediterranean and also the Middle East. Ingredient selection, using only the finest suppliers, is always crucial for me. Alongside that we’ve meticulously compiled a vast selection of beers, spirits and exotic cocktails. With over 100 different gins to try customers will be spoilt for choice – as they should be.”

The Belle is set to open on the 14th March.

Bookings can be made directly here:

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Diet, vitamins and preconception care

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If you are about to start planning for a healthy pregnancy, understanding the essentials of preconception care is a good starting point. What you eat and do to your body in the months before you conceive affects the lifetime health of the child born, so learning evidence-based information about diet and lifestyle factors that affect fertility and pregnancy is an important strategy in protecting the health of your baby.

If you are unsure of where to start, speaking to a fertility nutritionist might be a good idea, since they can assess your current health, as well as determining whether you have the key nutrients needed to boost the chances of conception.

Planning ahead

Ideally, allowing two years before conception to optimise your health, weight and nutrient status is recommended for couples who have time to plan and aren’t constrained by external circumstances. The more time you allow to improve your health, the better the outcomes are likely to be.

Often, by the time patients visit an IVF clinic, time is more limited and specialists advise allowing at least three months to prepare for IVF treatment where possible.

Why is preparation important?

For women, optimising your health and weight means that your eggs will mature, ready for ovulation (or collection if going through IVF) in a healthy environment.  This improves outcomes, including reducing the chance of miscarriage and preterm birth.

Likewise, for men, it means the sperm that is constantly being produced in the testes are as healthy as possible.  Remember that it is a combination of good quality eggs and sperm that together affect the chances of conceiving and going on to have a healthy baby.

Having routine blood tests and ensuring adequate levels of key nutrients is important for both men and women, as well as following a programme of healthy eating and sensible exercise.

If you are deficient in key nutrients, you are likely to need more than the recommended daily allowance (RDA) to return levels to normal, so knowing your starting point is always helpful.

Many women will enter their pregnancy with low levels of iodine, iron, vitamin D and other essential nutrients, which can affect the pregnancy and the long-term health of the child. However, with simple dietary changes and using the right supplements, nutrient levels can easily be improved.

What foods should I be eating?

The Mediterranean diet is a good guide in what to eat to prepare for pregnancy, for both men and women.  This includes healthy fats such as nuts, seeds, oily fish and olive oil, plenty of vegetables, including cooked tomatoes (cooking them increases the bio-availability of the antioxidant, lycopene, that gives tomatoes their red colour), and high quality protein, including lean meat, beans and pulses.

Avoiding sugary, refined carbohydrates, such as white bread and pasta, and replacing them with complex carbs, like wholegrain pasta and brown rice, is recommended. Moreover, avoiding alcohol and smoking is always advised against when trying to maintain a healthy body and mind.

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Diet for a Healthy Pregnancy

Consuming healthy food during pregnancy will guarantee that you continue being health and will help your child reach be as healthy as they can possibly be. Evidence suggests that the foods we consume during pregnancy and the diet of our children in the first 24 months of life can influence their overall health and wellbeing. There are lots of tasty foods that can be easily prepared to help you remain fit and well in your pregnancy. London Gynaecologist gives their top tips on what type of food to eat whilst you are pregnant.

Fruits and vegetables

Aim to eat between five portions and seven portions of fruit and vegetables each day, choosing more veg than fruit. Frozen, tinned and dried fruits and vegetables are fine, but varieties with no added salt or sugar are better for you. Juices and smoothies also count. But the natural sugars can affect your blood sugar levels and damage your teeth, so it’s best to limit the amount you drink.

Starchy food

Carbohydrates provide essential fuel for you and your baby during pregnancy, but not all carbs are created equal. Learn the difference between high and low GI carbohydrates, how they affect your body and which foods to eat for the added benefit of fibre. Starchy foods include potatoes, plantain and yams, and wholegrain cereals such as brown rice and quinoa. Breads, crackers, pasta and breakfast cereals are also in this group.

Foods rich in protein

Protein is a vital building block your body uses to create skin, muscle, hair, and bones. That’s why it’s crucial when you’re pregnant, both for your baby (to ensure normal growth and prevent low birth weight) and for you (to maintain your body’s tissue health). In fact, when you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, your daily requirement shoots up from an average of 46 to 71 g (and even more if you’re carrying multiples). That’s an extra 25 g of protein every day. But don’t get too hung up on counting those grams — most women (pregnant or not) get more than enough protein in their diets.

Dairy foods

Dairy products are excellent sources of calcium, protein, vitamin D, phosphorus, and other essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients are important for your baby’s developing bones, teeth, muscles, heart, and nerves, and for blood clotting. You can get all the nutrients you need from non-fat and low-fat dairy products and fortified soy milk. Which you choose may depend on whether you’re overweight, right on target, or underweight during your pregnancy. Talk to your provider to find out what’s best for you.

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Weird Cafes you must Visit in London

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If you, like us, can’t get enough creamy coffee and find yourself chilling down a café most of the time (not the central perk), then why not push the boat out and try some of the weird and quirky cafes that London has to offer? If you would like to try something different whilst getting your caffeine fix, then try our top weirdest London Cafes.

Cereal Killer Café

This famous café will send your nostalgia senses tingling as you walk through the door to be amazed by its choice of 120 international cereals, 20 optional toppings and 30 different types of milk! The café itself is decorated from head to toe with cereal related memorabilia and its various televisions are playing re-runs of old 80’s and 90’s television programmes that are bound to make you want to sit crossed legged in the middle of the floor doodling on a paper pad with gel pens. If you have a sweet tooth and are stuck for somewhere to grab a snack, head down to Brick Lane to enjoy some cereal goodness.


One of London’s first ever board game cafes, Draughts boasts an absolutely amazing choice of board games that you will have NEVER heard of, or if you are feeling less adventurous, you can pick one of the classics! You can choose from a massive 500 board games whilst chilling with a coffee, or a pint of your favourite poison from one of the cider kegs and beer taps. You do have to pay £5 for entry, but compared to the amount of fun you are going to have it does not compare!

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium

Lady Dinah’s Cat Emporium (situated right around the corner from Cereal Killer Café) will allow you to cuddle up with one of their rescue cats that call the café home. Not only do you get to sip on one of their tasty hot beverages from one of the best commercial coffee machines, but you will also get to play around with one of their furry feline friends, but you are not allowed to steal them! Coffee shops like this are becoming more and more popular, so maybe it’s worth giving this one a go before your rule it out completely.


This café is a little slice of heaven and allows you to decorate your own bespoke biscuits! Pile on mountains and icing and create your own sweet treats to chow down on and wash down with a nice creamy coffee. Create your own masterpiece, or if you feel you need a bit more technique, take an in-depth class to help you become and icing whizz.

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Colorado Holidays: Things to pack before going on a summer vacay

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Colorado summers are colourful and soothing. No matter what, the outdoorsy activities are the main reasons why tourists love to visit the western region of the United States. You must have researched a lot about the place if you are visiting for the first time. The attractive tourists’ spots of Colorado are both luxurious and adventurous at the same time. You get a taste of both Breckenridge cabin rentals as well as camping tents by the Rocky Mountains, such is the beauty of the place!


Now if you are new to this place, you need to know a few things about Colorado. You need to have an idea of what to carry while packing the bag. Random packing can increase the weight of the luggage unnecessarily and you may end up missing out some stuff which is actually needed for the trip.


Here are a few tips on what to carry while travelling to Colorado during the summer months!


Skincare essentials:

Due to the high altitude of the state, the ultraviolet rays of the sun causes more harm to your skin. Taking a sunscreen lotion (for winter) or gel (for summer) will be very helpful. SPF 50 will be the perfect choice for protecting your skin from the harmful UV rays. If you want to avoid a sunburn on your lip, carry a lip balm with high SPF. You can also carry a wide-brimmed cap to avoid sun rays.


Water Bottles:

Carry more than one water bottle, one for regular water and another for an electrolyte-replenishing sports drink. The high altitude with an arid climate with definitely cause dehydration if you do not maintain a proper drinking regime.


Summer wear:

If you are planning to go during the summer the most important thing to carry is proper comfy summer dresses.  The temperature during summer daytime can reach the 80s and low 90s Fahrenheit. Summer shorts and lightweight shirts are the most comfortable attire. Avoid using heavy and fancy clothes as it will be a burden for you to carry and you will not be able to wear them at all.


Raincoats and waterproof ponchos:

The rains are really unpredictable. Due to the semi-arid climate, the downpour is quite sudden. It is always good to carry a foldable poncho or a raincoat to avoid an unexpected drenching. This will not only shorten your day, you may catch cold ruining the whole trip.


Hiking Stick:

Visiting Colorado and not going for a hike is almost impossible. If hiking is already on your to-do list, you must carry a hiking stick to make the hike easy and smooth. A basic stick will be good for the trip.


Hiking boots:

Your normal sneakers or shoes are probably not suitable for hiking. Since hiking is one of the most important features of the Colorado trip, one must carry shoes which are made for the hiking purpose. A perfect pair will make your hiking as well as the trip comfortable. The footwear will give you more support and flexibility while hiking through the rugged trails.


Camping essentials:

If you are planning to go for a hardcore camping experience, make sure you carry battery-powered light sources and a weather radio. You must also carry a camp stove along with utensils to cook and eat from.


Sleeping bags and Blankets:

Yet another essential for the hiking teams. Sleeping bags and blankets are must-haves in Colorado because even the summer nights can be chilly. Make sure you carry a spare lightweight blanket in case the weather demands one.



Extra batteries will always be on the checklist while packing your bag. Batteries are very useful and you may need them anytime for any battery-powered travel gears. Make sure you have a couple of extra batteries for the emergency.


Small Backpack:

A small backpack will be very useful for a day trail. You can put all your trail essentials, like sunscreen, bottles, raincoat inside the small backpack. It is important to keep your hands free by using them as a support when needed. Small backpacks are also useful for shopping purpose. A number of carry-bags will only make you uncomfortable.


ID Proofs:

The most essential of all the items. Carry your ID proofs. You may need them anytime during the trip and especially during check-in and check-out. If you are a tourist from a different country, make sure to carry the passport all the time along with you.



They say it is good to capture what you see and freeze the moment forever. Due to technological advancement, cameras have become essentials, so don’t forget to carry one. Moreover, carry an extra battery if possible, fully charged. It is good to carry an extra memory card as well.



Another essential item to protect yourself from the damaging rays of the sun, Sunglasses! Carry one so that you can use them during hiking.



Don’t forget to carry a bag of medicines. Some essential medicines to protect yourself from common infections, anti-allergic and even some for those who are prone to altitude sickness, is highly advisable. If you have a prescribed routine of medicines, carry them along.


Copy of travel itinerary:

Keep a photocopy of all the details of your travel itinerary and of your ID proofs. In case of losing the original ones, you will have something as a proof to show to the authorities when asked for. Better safe than sorry, isn’t it so?


These are the basic essentials for an adventurous Colorado trip. In case you are planning to go during winter, most of the above-mentioned items will be useful. You will have to carry a lot more winter garments to cover yourself up; Colorado winters are quite strong.


All you need to have is a happy and safe journey!

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