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Affordable Gifts for Family and Friends

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 3 m read

When it comes to buying gifts for family and friends you want to make a lasting impression with your present of choice. Throughout the year you will have numerous occasions to buy gifts from weddings, to christenings, birthdays and Christmas. And if you’re looking to keep the cost low when buying gift’s, we have some great affordable ideas below that will be sure to leave a lasting effect on your loved ones.

Personalised Gifts

People tend to cherish gifts that are personalised or unique to them. This is due to the sentimental value that item will hold when it is unwrapped and sparks a certain memory. You can choose from a wide range of personalised gifts where you can add names, special messages and photographs to cover every occasion. 

You may be at that time in your life where everyone is buying houses or moving. Why not invest in personalised tea towels for your friends and family to add a unique and beautiful staple to their home. A printed tea towel can display a sentimental message or wedding day.  Click here for custom tea towels and purchasing them in bulk may be a good idea to save on cost. It also means you don’t have to think of numerous gift ideas throughout the year. 

Alcoholic Drinks

If your recipient always has a glass of wine in hand, then gifting alcohol may be the way to go. Find a suitable bottle for the occasion and to their taste and select some elegant packaging to complete the gift. You could pair your selection with some glasses or chocolates. Do your research and find out their favourite concoction whether it be a rich cognac, fragrant gin, warm Christmas port or an elegant champagne.

Chocolates and Sweets

The way to most people’s hearts is through their stomach, so a chocolate hamper should satisfy their sweet tooth. You could dress this up with an assortment of chocolates and sweets inside a wicker basket or keepsake sweetie tin. Most chocolate gift boxes, or hampers come to share, so best of all if you’re buying it for a loved one you can share the sweet treat.

Plants and Seeds

If you have a friend or family member who likes to potter about in the garden, then why not buy a gift for their outdoor living space. There are many gifts for gardeners and the garden including seed tins, firepits, bowls, outdoor plants and windchimes. A packet of seeds can make for a lasting and meaningful gift and if the recipient prefers indoor house plants then it might be worth contributing to making their home a healthier place to relax.

Books

If you are looking for gift ideas for someone who likes to unwind after a long day and doesn’t want to miss out on the benefits of reading then books can provide a great gift to people who enjoy learning new things and working on their self-development. Reading can help with a variety of topics from DIY to cooking. So, if you know any DIYers, food fanatics or people fascinated with history then a book could be the best gift for them.

Photo Albums

People love to hold on to anything sentimental, a memory, a keepsake, a photograph. Housing all those precious memories could provide you with a great present for the ones you love. Look at personalised photo albums to store all the amazing memories from holidays to weddings, to the birth of a child. Make the album unique to the person in their favourite colour or add a personal message for Valentines day or a special birthday.

No matter what gift you decide to buy for your friends and family, it is the thought that counts and they will be happy with any gift that you choose.

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HIPCHIPS July Dips – Tzatziki with Crispy Onions and Cherry Almond Whip

HIPCHIPS, the world’s first crisp and dip parlour, is launching a new range of delicious, fresh dips this July to encapsulate the taste of summer – the savoury dip will be a cool Tzatziki topped with Crispy Onions, and a gorgeous Cherry Almond Whip for sweet.

HIPCHIPS central London location in Soho makes it perfect for those looking for a midday snack, or even as a pre or post theatre pick-me-up. The fresh, hand-cut crisps come from a variety of British-grown heritage potatoes and are accompanied by an extensive list of delicious home-made sweet and savoury dips which include the delights of Ranch, Katsu Curry, Veggie Ceviche, Cheesecake & Vegan Chocolate Mousse to name a few. With the impetus on sharing, HIPCHIPS crisps and dips come in boxes of various sizes and the relaxed atmosphere makes it the perfect place to go with some friends.

Earlier this year HIPCHIPS also unveiled two brand new crisp and dips boxes concepts, which are available to buy from Sainsbury’s across the UK, meaning that the joy of HIPCHIPS can now extend outside of the capital! 

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The Petersham Restaurant Serves up a Winning Dessert for Wimbledon

To celebrate Wimbledon 2019, The Petersham in Richmond has created a smashing tennis-themed dessert that’ll have you calling ‘more balls, please’!

Exclusively available from 1st – 14th July on the restaurant’s à la carte menu, Head Chef Jean-Didier Gouges has crafted a refreshing strawberry and elderflower mousse, delicately encased in a hand-crafted white chocolate exterior.

The Petersham’s popular Afternoon Tea has also been given a Wimbledon twist of its own for the next two weeks. Alongside another tennis ball dessert (with a rich and glossy chocolate mousse filling for this Afternoon Tea version), Jean-Didier has added a grand slam of desserts, from a ‘mango and passionfruit Eton mess tartlet’ to a ‘white chocolate truffle with Champagne and dried raspberry’.

Both the tennis-ball dessert and Wimbledon Afternoon Tea will be exclusively available throughout the Championships at The Petersham, from Monday 1st July – Sunday 14th July.

The themed tea is priced at £29.50 Monday to Friday and £32.50 Saturday and Sunday (add a glass of champagne for £12.75). 

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The Benefits of a Pop-up Restaurant

The food industry, particularly the restaurant industry is a notoriously difficult place to make it.

With a lot of competition out there and people eating out less due to financial constraints, owning a restaurant can either be hugely successful or hugely disappointing. You only have to look at what happened to Jamie Oliver to see this.

However, if you think you have what it takes to make it in the industry, there is a way to see if people will warm to what you’re offering before diving head in. A pop-up restaurant is extremely easy to do, especially with the help of temporary buildings from places like Neptunus, as you can set up and see what the public think.

Still not convinced? We’ve listed the reasons why a pop-up is a great idea below.

Location testing

First of all, if you’re thinking of starting a new restaurant in a particular area, you’ll need to know if there’s a demand for it. If there isn’t, you don’t want to find out the hard way.

By constructing a pop-up, you’ll be able to judge the footfall and get feedback about what people thought of it, and you’ll be able to work out if you have an audience. This will allow you to move around too, and figure out where the best place to open your restaurant is.

Hype

By opening up a pop-up you’ll be able to create hype around what you’re doing. Not only will the ‘limited time only’ offer drive people to sample what you have. But, if it does well, you know they’ll return when you open up full time.

Experiment

You also have the chance to experiment with your menu. This will help you to see what works, what doesn’t and what could be too difficult to make en masse when operating a kitchen.

Cost

Opening a restaurant can be expensive, which is why starting with a pop-up is the better idea. Not only is it quicker to set up, but you won’t have to spend all that money on a venue before you know if you have a viable business.

Investment

If someone sees the proof of concept of your business, it’s much more likely to drive investment. If it’s going well, investors will see the ROI potential and jump at the chance to get in there early.

Build a name

Finally, you can build a name. If you have a following before a full launch, this will only help the business go from strength to strength, especially in this highly competitive industry.

So, what are you waiting for? Take your concept to the streets and see if your business is ready to fly before someone gets in there first.

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Gin Trends 2019

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 3 m read

The gin renaissance, ginaissance if you like, has been in full swing for a few years now, and it doesn’t look like it’s going anywhere anytime soon.

Yes, as a nation who’s taken to the drink once described as ‘mother’s ruin’ with arms wide open, it seems like the tonic industry will be kept afloat for another year yet. So beloved is this tipple that last year it was more popular than David Beckham, The Beatles and Wimbledon on Twitter, with more than 8.4 million tags. Who doesn’t like a good gin selfie?

In fact, gin sales were up by 38% in 2018 too.

But, with its popularity ever increasing, what are the gin trends for 2019? Well, we’ve gathered a few of them together just for you. So, sit back, relax, grab those gin glasses and get ready to see 2019 through with these fabulous gin trends.

New flavours

The first, most important and most exciting part of the gin trends this year are the new flavours making their way to the shelves.

We may love a classic G&T, but who doesn’t love a new flavour.

New delights this year include flavours inspired by classic sweets such as Parma violets, Bakewell tarts and rhubarb and custard, alongside bubble gum, lemon drizzle, rhubarb and ginger, salted caramel, berry pink gin, plum, cinnamon, pomegranate and rose, and even passionfruit liquors. That’s quite the addition to the gin shelf.

All we can say is – move over pink gin!

Garnish

But it’s not just the flavours that are switching things up this year, oh no, it looks like the garnish on, or in, your glass is also getting a fresh twist.

This year it looks like people are moving away from just a typical bit of fruit or veg in the glass, and opting for more cocktail inspired additions. So whereas it was once limes, lemons and even cucumber, this year, don’t be surprised if you find peaches, a wide variety of berries and even coriander or liquorice.

Craft gin

We’ve all heard of craft beer. In fact, craft beer has had quite a boom in the last few years. But, this year, it looks like craft gin will also make quite the splash.

With so many names out there, smaller, more artisanal brands, using classic botanical, alongside unique and delicious flavours are set to boom. This could explain all the new flavour.

So, if you want something a little different, just keep your eyes open next time you hit the shopping aisles.

Make your own

Finally, we’ve all heard of making your own beer and wine, but now you can add gin to that list.

With many distilleries and gin schools popping up, you can go along and mix up a gin or two to fit your needs, before having it bottled and taking it home with you – perfect.

So, make sure you have plenty of ice at home because it looks like 2019 is set to be an even bigger year for gin.

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Travelling in Luxury: Beauty Essentials for the Plane

While on your vacation you will always want to look and feel your best. This means that you need to think about the beauty products that you take with you so that you can keep up your skincare routine and apply your makeup no matter where you are. Here are a few must-have beauty products which you could even take on the plane for long haul flights.

Dry Sheet Mask

A dry sheet mask is perfect for the plane because you do not have to worry about taking on a liquid and it is quick and easy to apply when say in your seat. You can then take it off after around 15 minutes and your entire face will feel fresh and healthy.

Soothing Balm

A high-quality soothing balm is perfect for long-haul flights because it can be used for a few different purposes and provide much-needed relief. It could be used to help combat chapped lips or simply on your skin to stop it from drying out which can be a real problem on long flights.

Hand Cream

Leading on from this, a good hand cream will be helpful while travelling particularly on long flights. Additionally, if you purchase one which is gel-based it should mean that the skin absorbs it quickly so that you can continue to use your hands.

Eye Serum Pack

An eye serum pack is a good idea for a long flight because it can reduce puffiness and hydrate the area around your eyes while helping to block out the light if you are trying to catch some shut-eye.

Face Wipes

Face wipes are a quick and easy way to freshen up which makes them great for any form of travel. They can also be used to remove makeup if you are wearing any or simply as a way to wake up after a nap.

Travelling Packs

You can also buy beauty packs for travelling from places like Neom Organics. These are ideal because they will provide you with everything that you need to stay looking and feeling your best on a flight or during any kind of travel. It can be hard to stay fresh while on the move but made much easier with these convenient travelling packs.

Travel can certainly take its toll which is not ideal if you want to look your best and feel fresh during the trip. The key is to think about the best beauty products that you can take on and use on the plane with ease and to pack these in your bag and try to stick to your beauty regime where possible. This should help you to feel much better and look great even on an uncomfortable long haul flight.

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Launch of ‘PRACTISE HOPE’

Suicidal and self-harming children and young people will be the focus of a new, ground breaking initiative called ‘Practise Hope’ to help more of them get better support from their doctors’ surgeries. The launch takes place on Thursday, July 4th, at the Holiday Inn, Gatwick.

The 18-month pilot is a collaboration between Olly’s Future, Mind and Health Education England. Thirty GP practices across Kent, Sussex and Surrey will be involved. They will be supported by three local Mind branches* and each receive £1,000 to help implement new ways of working to bring about a culture change in primary care to better support distressed ten to 25-year-olds. It is hoped the pioneering programme will be rolled out nationally after the pilot.  

At the heart of ‘Practise Hope’ is Oliver Hare, from Worthing, who took his own life in February 2017, two days before his 23rd birthday. His mother, Ann Feloy, is founder of Olly’s Future – www.ollysfuture.org.uk – which raises awareness of young suicide and prevention.

Ann said her son went for the first time ever to see his doctor feeling depressed and anxious in early January 2017 and a few weeks later was prescribed an antidepressant by another doctor over the phone. Oliver took his life after just four days of taking the SSRI.  

She said: “I know from tragic experience what improvements could have helped my son. Oliver was such a kind and compassionate person and would have contributed so much to this world had he lived. It is of some comfort to know that, with vision and ambition from all those involved, this initiative will help others in his memory. As Patients Care Lead for ‘Practise Hope’ I have the chance to work with GP practices, bereaved parents, carers and young people to help shape those ideas.” 

Ideas could include young people’s clinics and focus groups, use of apps, ‘opt in’ procedures to alert other family members and training for GPs and surgery staff dealing with parents who have lost children to suicide.   

Dr. Geraldine Strathdee CBE, former National Clinical Director for Mental Health, NHS England and co-founder of Zero Suicide Alliance, will be the keynote speaker at Practise Hope launch briefing the launch.  Courtney Buckler, 24, and Harees Khalique, 23, who have had thoughts of suicide and self-harmed since teenage years will also be speaking.  

Cavita Chapman, clinical advisor at Health Education England working across Kent, Surrey and Sussex, said: “It’s estimated that around a third of those who die by suicide in England were in contact with primary care services but not specialist mental health services. In recent years, the number of young people taking their own lives has increased. We want more children and young people to feel they can turn to their local GP practice for help and for those practices to respond effectively and with compassion.” 

Dr Sam Fraser, Clinical Lead for “Practise Hope’ said that suicide is the leading cause of death in young people, accounting for 14 per cent of deaths in 10 to 19year-olds and 21 per cent of deaths in 20 to 34-year-olds. (National Confidential Inquiry). Statistics show that suicide, in children and young people, is on the increase across England and Wales. (NSPCC 2018). 

GP practices will win the PACE setter Award for Suicide Prevention and Self Harm if they carry out a self- assessment audit of their safeguarding procedures and an engagement exercise with at least one per cent. of their target population of children and young people with thoughts of suicide or who self-harm, as well as half of their staff on the issue of their own well-being.   

Three additional activities must also be carried out and it is up to the GP surgeries to be creative and pioneering in reaching out and responding to children and young people. They will then be expected to share their new ways of working with other GP practices.

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Salon Privé Opens In Leeds

Gin lovers can now make the most of warm summer evenings with a tipple high above the rest, as the all-new Salon Privé – and Greek Street’s only terraced bar – has officially opened in Leeds.

Part of the city’s most exclusive and entertaining spots in the city with live music and Leeds’ largest gin collection, Salon Privé has a real focus on creating a sumptuous, stylish and chic setting, all accessed through a private door on Russell Street.

Featuring plush chocolate brown leather chairs, high tables, marble bar surfaces and decadent lighting, the venue is as pleasing to the eye as the food and drink on the lips.

The opening night saw Yorkshire’s Dan Burnett and his band bring a set of soul, blues and funk to celebrate the launch, along with The Blu Flames, featuring some of the Leeds’ finest musicians. The live music sets will rotate weekly to the keep the atmosphere alive.

With over 190 varieties of gin available, visitors were introduced to all the tasty tipples including local suppliers from the likes of Yorkshire, Manchester and Liverpool, as well as imports from distilleries around the globe such as France’s Audemus Pink Pepper Gin and Belgium’s Copperhead Black Gin. 

Being the only elevated terrace on Greek Street with views of the buzz below, Salon Privé customers enjoyed an evening of class on the open terrace in the glorious sunshine, whilst grazing on a selection of light bites, flatbreads and sharing boards. For cooler evenings, glass covers and heaters are available to ensure that the party continues through all seasons. 

Jon Hobson, Head of Operations at Salon Privé, said: “We are delighted to finally open the doors to the all-new Salon Privé. We were aware that people wanted a luxury leisure venue that offers a comprehensive experience and our live music entertainment coupled with fantastic food and drink and lush surroundings create a complete escapism for guests every single weekend. 

“I am so proud of the bar team who have been working tirelessly creating a range of fine concoctions for visitors and with the wide range of gins available, we can guarantee that there will be plenty on offer to tantalise taste buds.” 

Salon Privé is open on Fridays (5pm until late), Saturdays (midday until late) and Sundays (midday until 6pm).

The venue is also open for private use from Monday to Thursday for social and business celebrations and events, as Leeds’ most impressive venue.

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3 Things Londoners Should Do at Least Once

Cristina Diaconu By Posted on 3 m read

Londoners are lucky enough to live in one of the best cities in the world. However, not all those who dwell there have experienced everything the city has to offer. Keen to avoid a touristy lifestyle, some of them actively avoid any of the things that London is famed for. It’s understandable, as much of it is the antithesis of a ‘homely’ atmosphere. 

Still, Londoners have £8000 more than the average UK resident, so a series of memorable experiences is surely called for if its more affordable! But what are they? 

Consequently, here’re three things all Londoners should do at least once. 

Visit all the landmarks 

Many Londoners get comfortable inside their own little bubble. If this is you, then it’s kind of understandable, as no doubt long days spent at work are arduous at times. Still, you should endeavour to get out there and visit as many landmarks as possible, because they hold a lot of symbolism for London and often serve as its most iconic imagery. 

Big Ben, The London Eye, Nelson’s Column, St Paul’s Cathedral and more should all be visited at least once each. Even if you reside on the fringes of greater London, you’re only a quick tube ride away from having a series of impressionable viewings of these great landmarks. People pay ludicrous sums of money and travel all the over the world to see them, and if it’s practically on your doorstep, it’d be a painstaking tragedy to miss out!  

Go to the theatre

In the age of Netflix and affordable internet subscriptions, something like the theatre likely doesn’t appeal to the average Londoner. However, London obviously has the West End, a place where the best stories are performed by some of the best actors, directors and artists in the world. If you love stories, you love the theatre!

Additionally, if you go to a matinee show, you’ll find seats are far more affordable. Some theatres and shows also have nights where they perform for people with specific disabilities or mothers with babies. They’re opening their doors to everyone, so no matter your situation, you can squeeze into a theatre at some stage. It’d be a shame not to if the West End is so close by!

Cruise down the Thames 

It’d be difficult to live in London and not walk down the Thames at one time or another. Still, that’s not everything the capital’s great river has to offer. You can also undertake a cruise trip right down the middle of it, experiencing the winding waters in a whole new way. There’s even a Thames dinner cruise with a range of exquisite drinks and meals to be enjoyed also! 

If you’re strapped for time to do all the usual London things, this is a great way to fit things in; you can have your tea as you sightsee and explore! It’s almost a dabble in luxury too, and if you take a few friends and family along with you, you’ll have a truly memorable time. The backdrop of a lit-up London behind you as you chat and laugh, drifting calmly through the waters; what could be better? 

Conclusion

London is more accessible than ever. It’s a city that’s there for everyone regardless of whether you’re a resident or a tourist, and activities for both intersect. It’s all in celebration of a great city that celebrates diversity and inclusivity, so be sure to give everything a go! 

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Mamounia Lounge Launches Lebanese and Moroccan Brunch Menu

Mamounia Lounge, a Middle Eastern restaurant and cocktail bar in Knightsbridge, is launching a new Lebanese and Moroccan Weekend Brunch menu, giving an Arabic take on the Capital’s favourite meal.  

Available from May 2019, the new brunch menu is designed to be enjoyed banquet style and includes a selection of delicious mezze plates, salads, tagines, sides and desserts.

Specially created by Head Chef Thamer Darwish, the menu features Middle Eastern takes on brunch classics, such as the Chakshouka (Merguez Sausages, Spicy Peppers & Tomato with Fried Eggs) and the Full Moroccan Breakfast (Batata Harra, Merguez, Turkey Bacon, Poached Eggs, Mushrooms & Baked Butter Beans).

These dishes are served alongside signature plates from the A La Carte menu, including the Lamb Tagine (slow cooked Lamb Shoulder served in a Sweet Sauce topped with Prunes, Pears, Onions & Sultanas) and the Mixed Grill for two (Shish Taouk, Chicken Kafta, Lamb Kafta, Lamb Fatayel, Lamb Cutlets & Merguez Sausages).

The offering has been designed to provide discerning Londoners with a unique brunch, that pays homage to the ingredients, techniques and flavour combinations used in authentic Arabic cooking.

The sharing meze plates and salads include: 

  • Kadaif Prawns wrapped in Crisp Pastry 
  • Zaalouk Velvety smoked Aubergine with Tomato Concasse
  • Seafood Bourek Pastry with King Prawns, Crab Meat, Scallops & Vermicelli

Mains feature:

  • Full Moroccan Breakfast Batata Harra, Merguez, Turkey Bacon, Poached Eggs, Mushrooms & Baked Butter Beans
  • Mamounia Burger Minced Beef Patty & Turkey Bacon in a Brioche Bun served with Batata Za’atar and Harissa Yoghurt
  • Chicken Tagine (GF), Half Chicken marinated in a Lemon, Onion, Olive & Saffron Sauce
  • Chakshouka, Merguez Sausages, Spicy Peppers & Tomato with Fried Egg

Whilst, the decadent desserts include:

  • Baklawa
  • Lemon Tart
  • Blueberry Cheesecake

Mamounia Lounge’s stylish and cotemporary interior evokes regal Arabic charm, with a rich embellished gold and bronze décor. It provides the perfect backdrop to experience this exotic brunch offering, and with its location moments from Harrods, it is the ideal destination to begin the weekend.

Before or after brunch, guests can head to the bar to enjoy the eclectic cocktail menu, featuring carefully sourced ingredients pairing perfectly with Thamer’s cooking. These range from a selection of Champagne Cocktails, Golden Oasis [Fresh Watermelon and Pineapple shaken with Stoli Orange, Apple Liqueur and Vanilla Essence] to the striking Mamounia Blazer [A choice of flambeed Hennessey XO or Flora De Caña 18yr Rum with caramelised seasonal Berries. Served hot, finished with Orange Zest].

The restaurant also hosts a snug outdoor terrace offering an exciting Shisha Menu that can be enjoyed alongside the restaurant’s cocktails, the perfect way to spend a post brunch afternoon. Using the finest molasses every day, Mamounia Lounge shishas are prepared fresh upon request. Popular Starbuzz flavours and more adventurous alcoholic shisha can be combined with fresh fruit heads including Apple, Lemons and Baby Pineapples.

The weekend brunch menu will be available every Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 – 15:00.

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