THE GIN LOVER'S DREAM DAY OUT

As I've gotten older - brb whilst I cry into my knitting - life has become a lot more about memories to me than things. My favourite moments are not buying the expensive handbag or "it" dress from Topshop - although, you know, girl still enjoys doing those things too - they're spending time with the people I love, doing the things I love and most of those revolve around being chilled, being interesting and fun enough to tear me away from internet life and more often than not, enjoying a cheeky tipple or two.

YAY ADULT LIFE IS SO MUCH FUN.

One of my new recent discoveries is the Bombay Sapphire Gin distillery, based in beautiful picturesque Laverstoke, Gin lovers (or anyone interested in finding out more/wanting a lovely day out) can take a tour of the distillery to see how every single drop of omg so good Bombay Sapphire around the world is made. So I decided to leave the world of London behind for a day, MumNextDoor in tow to head along to the distillery and ahhh it was just the dreamiest day.
So, Bombay Sapphire is a little bit special. Not only because it obviously tastes delish, but the distillery is the most environmentally friendly distillery in the world. Absolutely nothing used in the distillery goes to waste - leftover fruit peels are put into cordials the next day, the ash from the biomass boiler is used to fertilise the soil on local farms for example - and as previously mentioned, every single drop of Bombay Sapphire all over the world has been produced in the distillery in Laverstoke. The distillery is open to absolutely anybody (who is over the legal age to drink alcohol of course) and offers the most incredible, interactive gin experiences, including learning how to make a Bombay Sapphire cocktail in the Cocktail masterclasses (which seriously made me feel like some kinda fancy bartender/cocktail expert when realistically I had all the gear and no idea).

I thought that this would be a good point to point out that my Mum, who has absolutely no idea about gin said something along the lines of "I thought this might be slightly boring but it's actually so interesting" (lol thanks Mum for saying that out loud but actually, everybody else agreed too )... and coming from MumNextDoor, that's saying a lot. 

After having a chat with Sam Carter, Bombay Sapphire's Senior Ambassador and hearing about the sustainability of the brand, how it came to fruition, even to the packaging (which is a very sassy blue and was chosen because the founder was given water on a plane in a blue bottle and found it really appealing... also because it looks really chic and stands out amongst a lot of other brands too), we were then taken on a tour of the courtyard, glasshouses - the dreamiest, prettiest most instagrammable place in existence - Botanical dry room and Dakin Still house before heading back up to the Empire for a cocktail. 

Can I just do this every single day please and thank you.

Until the tour, I had no idea that Bombay Sapphire uses quite an unusual vapour infusion process to infuse the taste of the 10 exotic botanicals sourced from the four corners of the globe which is just another reason why the gin tastes as good as it does. The brand goes to great lengths to ensure that the botanicals are sustainably sourced from all over the world and you actually get to see the living examples of those botanicals in the iconic Botanical Greenhouses, designed by Thomas Heatherwick, which are an absolute work of art all by themselves [insert heart eye'd emoji's here].
One of my favourite parts of the experience was discovering my very own aroma profile which basically meant going around and smelling 22 different scents/botanicals, making a marker on your favourite scents, and then based on those the absolute genius' at Bombay Sapphire will then make a cocktail from the menu which should be perfect for you. It's the little personal touches that always make such a huge difference so I loved this idea.

I think I've fangirled/made you aware that I had the best time enough now so here's a couple of things to round off why you should definitely head to Laverstoke and do a tour of the Distillery - It's under an hour away on the train from London (but makes you feel as if you're on holiday because it's so beautiful), there's a shuttle bus running from the station to the distillery meaning you don't have to worry about a thing and it's super quick and easy. Every experience includes a complimentary gin - yassss [insert hands in the air emoji here] - you get to stroll around the most beautiful surroundings whilst learning about how gin is made in the most sustainable distillery in the world... basically, I genuinely couldn't recommend grabbing a group of friends/your partner/parents/cousins/whoever you enjoy spending time with and heading down to the Bombay Sapphire distillery for a beaut of a day out!

I'd love to know if you've visited the distillery before or if it's something you'd enjoy doing? What's your favourite thing to do on a day trip?

As always, thanks so much for reading!

xx

This post is sponsored by Bombay Distillery but all thoughts, photos and extreme love of amazing days out and bloody good gin, my own.

DARING TO GO DOUBLE

Daring is not a word I would ever usually use to describe my sense of fashion. I know what I like (a mixture of classic tailoring, relaxed and cool biker chic - 100% not a thing but channel biker jackets, v neck tee's and skinny jeans and you've got me - with a dash of bold and pretty colours in between), and I don't tend to deviate much from that very loose, slightly vague genre.

However, recently, I have been taking inspiration not just from Instagram - no you stalk people's fashion choices on a daily basis - but from my surroundings to countries I'd love to visit, to the food that I'm eating (sounds strange but bear with me on this one) and that's where this post comes into play.

Magnum - you know that ice cream brand which I mention every single day throughout the summer months? Yeah, that one - have launched two new flavours and not only have they blown my mind, but they've also inspired my outfit choices too. Said new range is the Magnum Double range and consists of the Double Raspberry and Double Coconut flavours and omg they're divine, but they also have the most incredible double layers which made me think about doubling up on the fashion front too.
So let's talk Double Coconut and more daringly, double white. White is a difficult colour to wear isn't it? Unless you're extremely tanned - my leftover American tan didn't fare me too badly - it can sometimes wash you out/make you look ever so slightly corpse-like, and double white is even more terrifying. However, there's something about this little mix of off whites that I am completely obsessed with. Maybe it's the clash of materials, maybe it's the plain creamy white denim with the crisp ruffle shirt, but for some reason I just adore this mix (and have outfit repeated at least 3489385 times since).

What I adore more though, is the new Magnum Double Coconut [insert hands in the air/heart eye'd emoji here]. With the most ridiculously delicious velvety smooth coconut ice cream dipped in a chocolatey coating and a layer of luscious chocolate sauce, covered in cracking Magnum chocolate - are we all salivating right now or is it just me? - for me personally, this might be my favourite Magnum yet. It's the perfect amount of smooth, rich, sweet and creamy and omg can I eat them all day every day please? This makes me want to be on a tropical beach on the other side of the world but equally, give me a Magnum and a few episodes of Love Island my favourite series and I'll be equally happy!
One thing I've noticed as I've got older and started to be less self conscious in myself and my fashion choices, is that colour makes me feel good. When I'm feeling a bit lacklustre, nothing quite beats a red lip/bright pink blazer/statement bold shoe... but going bold all over is a whole other matter. When I found this raspberry colour playsuit, I died and went to heaven, but how on earth do you pair it with pink without looking like a Barbie doll? Enter the suede dusky pink biker jacket that dreams were made of. It's light enough to not make too much of a statement but pretty enough to compliment the playsuit perfectly. It's elegant and pretty and stylish and not at all Barbie-esque and I just cannot stop wearing these raspberry tones together now. 

Onto the Magnum Double Raspberry because in all honesty, I can't wait any longer. With smooth raspberry ice cream dipped in a chocolatey coating, lashings of raspberry sauce and Magnum classic chocolate, ahhhh it is just divine. Fruity, chocolatey, indulgent goodness which I just cannot get enough of. This to me, is the kinda thing you want after a BBQ, with a big bunch of your favourite girls, all sitting and gossiping and discussing life... demolishing a Double Raspberry Magnum. 

BRB while I daydream about my dream life.

It's funny isn't it, how something like an ice cream can inspire your fashion choices, but the daring to go double campaign really did make me think about what I wear, if I could dare to double up trends/colours and whether I'd be comfortable in pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And I think it's clear to see from my outrageous coconut/raspberry clothing fangirling that I definitely did.

Have you tried the new Magnum Double range yet? Are you obsessing over them? If you are, please tell me what your favourite flavour is because I currently feel like choosing would be similar to picking a favourite child and I just can't do it ;)

As always, thanks so much for reading!

xx


This post was sponsored by Magnum

CONFESSIONS OF A RUBBISH BLOGGER

If there was an award for the worst blogger in existence lately, I would win. No I would, I have been shockingly shite and I don't want to make excuses but let's be honest, I am definitely going to make all of the excuses.

Life has been good. So ridiculously fun, so ridiculously busy, so ridiculously full of exciting work and projects and travel... and so ridiculously stressful. If I could describe my general self over the last couple of months, I would say it was akin to doggy paddling through a glamorous lake whilst just about keeping my head above water but looking like a swan on the outside (and when I say on the outside, we all know I mean Instagram).

There's been less of these types of posts, the ones where I just ramble and talk the most amount of dribble ever about how I'm generally feeling (which are without fail my favourites to write because it makes me feel strangely closer to you all - LOL at sounding like a top weirdo/loser/saddo/[insert your own choice of twat here]). And more sponsored posts. Well, maybe not more, but it just looks that way because there's less posts in between.

And that's totally fine. I have always been blessed with an audience (audience, lol hi Mum talking about you, how are ya?) that have always supported me the most ridiculous amount, but I kinda feel like I owe it to everyone that reads this blog, whether it's been from 4 and half years ago (jesus christ where has that time gone?) to newbies, to keep you in the loop and just have a general chit chat. Because let's be honest, the only reason I even have said ridiculously fun/ridiculously stressful/ridiculously busy life is because of you, YOU RIGHT THERE, reading this little corner of the internet. 

Before I turn into a much less sassy and Queen-like Oprah, let's move onto clothes. Because there's only so much cheese a gal pal can take before it's like "gimme the photos and stop talking please and thanks".

DRESS - NEXT (ANNOYINGLY SOLD OUT BUT VERY SIMILAR HERE)/ SANDALS - NEXT (ALSO OUT OF STOCK BECAUSE BLOGGERS WENT NUTS FOR THEM, SIMILAR HERE

So this little black dress from Next is an actual dreamboat. It's so comfortable, it's a nice length which shows a bit of leg but doesn't make you look like you belong in Love Island. It has that "I'm an effortless boho chic queen" kinda vibe and I am all about that. It's just one of those fling on and looks great dresses and they will forever be my favourite. Annoyingly, the rest of the world also agrees so it's currently out of stock but do keep an eye on the next website because you never know when it might come back!

The shoes. Ugh, the shoes. I love them. Actual love (I mean not actual love because that may go towards explaining why I'm single if it was), because there's something about the simple, classic style with the J.W.Anderson/Chloe-esque ring that just makes them look a little more premium (vom at that word) in my opinion. Again, they're bloody sold out aren't they which is endlessly annoying but I have a sneaky feeling they may be making a return soon so keep you eyes peeled!
And basically, that is about it. This post was basically pointless apart from being like "GUYS I'VE BEEN RUBBISH BUT HERE'S A PRETTY DRESS, YOU LIKE?" and you know what, that is absolutely fine. Wonderful in fact in a day and age where blogs have become somewhere that need to be glossy and purposeful to be "successful". Because actually, that's never why I started this blog. I started it because I love to chat and I love photography and I love words (especially when said words talk about fashion/beauty/food/travelling/general life)... and whilst there will always be the occasional semi-informative and useful post on here, I think I'd like to take it back a little to when I started.

So yeah, I'd actually love to hear your thoughts on this. Do you miss the old days of blogging when numbers and glossiness didn't matter? Are you trying to combine a bit of the both like I am? Or are you like, "I clicked on the post because I liked the dress, bore off" ;) I always love hearing your thoughts!

As always, thanks so much for reading!

xx


7 BLOGGING ESSENTIALS I CAN'T DO WITHOUT

Whenever people find out what my job is, there are always a barrage of questions that swiftly follow. The first is always about money - why oh why do people forget that bloggers are just people too and it's still blimmin rude to ask about money? - then it's about what I actually do, then it's "I bet you have lovely lie ins" (no huns, this gal is still up at 6am everyday)... and then finally, it's "how do I do it?"

I say every single time - completely unhelpfully, I'm well aware - that how you start a blog is simply just to start. I genuinely believe that there is no set path in blogging and everybody will find there own way, but what advice I can give, is to tell you about my blogging essentials and what I absolutely can't be without to make my blog work.


And that's what this post is about today. [insert party popper/"yay for being vaguely helpful" emoji here].


It also includes little odes to blogging full time because oh my god you just gotta love working from bed with peanut butter and nutella sandwich fridays!

Now, I am a firm believer in not needing especially big or fancy equipment to become a blogger, the most important things to have - as cheesy and tree hugging as they sound - are creativity and a passion for writing, but you do still need something to write on and upload photos from etc. and that something is a laptop #BrainsOfBritainAwardGoesToMe. Now, I'm a Mac girl, mostly because the 11inch air is pretty miniscule making it perfect to whip into a bag and head to your local coffee shop/town with it ready for some Dan Humphrey style coffee and writing sessions - complete with a venti latte and gluten free brownie/cake/artery clogging treat - but as long as you have a computer, Mac or not, you're good to go.
I am 100% guilty of being the girl that almost has a panic attack when purchasing expensive things such as laptops, and then throws them around like a piece of paper (or very nearly drops them in the bath but that's a story I still haven't recovered from yet) so right now, my ultimate blogging essential is my Manfrotto Windsor bag which is absolutely perfect for my blogging days on the go or travelling around the world. It fits my laptop, my camera, my notebooks and diaries (and galaxy bars because life)... it's ridiculously comfortable to wear unlike my usual impractical options - Gucci Marmont which carries basically nothing, I'm looking at you - basically, it just makes my life 10x easier whilst also looking classic too. It just has room for the things that you don't even know you need until you see (memory cards, hard drives, pens and so on). It's one of those bags that makes me feel like I've got my life in order and I am all for that (because lol, actually a chaotic mess of a person). Anything that helps me stay organised and able to do my job whilst hot footing it around London is a winner in my eyes so thank you for Manfrotto, for saving my shoulders and my sanity.

Cameras. Now, I admit to owning a fair share of cameras because a) I used to be a TV Producer so picked up some along the way and b) I've always been obsessed with photography so I don't mind investing my money there. However, I do have to say that the iPhone 7+'s camera quality is pretty frickin awesome so please don't ever feel like you need a big, snazzy camera to be a blogger, you definitely, definitely don't. My current Camera crush - brb while I vom over how cringetastic that phrase was - is the Olympus pen. I know, I know, big fat shocker there. But here's the thing, for me, the pen has completely taken over from my 7D (which is a pretty big, hefty camera). For sheer ease of use and the fact that it's small and completely perfect for travel, with the 45mm lens you can create stunning photos for not a huge amount of money. And then of course there's the fact that you can use the camera's wifi to immediately send the photos to yourself and use it as a remote control. It kinda just does everything and is perfect for seasoned bloggers or beginners.
So a notebook/diary is kinda obvious, but when you've got numerous meetings, events and deadlines (and are still a secret granny that would rather write things down than have it on my phone), these are just an essential. My favourites are my 2017 diary from Dear Diary because it has room for all of my meetings and space for notes, alongside the too damn cute Smythson notebook which is perfect for those lightbulb moments and little ideas that you don't want to forget.
The portable charger. I think this might be the most used little piece of joyous equipment that I own. This little beaut is from Samsung and lasts at least a whopping 5 full charges. It genuinely comes with me everywhere (mostly because my iPhone is completely screwed and doesn't work without being plugged in *insert upside down emoji here*) and is a saviour for anyone Instagram/youtube/phone obsessed.

Those apps. Now, I am shockingly bad/lazy when it comes to editing so there aren't a huge amount of apps that I reply on but I have to say, Facetune is my best friend. I'm a huge believer in not editing myself but if I have spot - lol thanks hormones - or there's some rubbish on the floor that looks messy, a quick little patch never hurt anybody. I also love UNUM for planning out Instagram content too even though I don't do themes because mate, are they not the most stressful thing in existence?
Last but most definitely not least, there's absolutely no point of having all the gear and having no idea if you don't have the passion, motivation and dedication to blog. Blogging is tough. It takes a lot of time, it can be extremely tedious - because hello technical problems all day ehhr day and ever changing briefs - and that's something that I don't think people always understand. It takes a hell of a lot of motivation and passion to keep a blog going and as blunt as it may sound, if you don't have it, then don't start one. If you want to be a blogger because the lifestyle looks great, sweet baby jesus blogging is not for you. But if it's something that you do love, and you do adore for what it is... then put your all into it, because you never know what could come from it. Dedicate time, motivate yourself to create something new and exciting and be passionate about your work, and others will too.

Do you think Oprah would've been proud of that speech because I definitely think she would?

And that brings my blogging essentials to an end. I really hope you enjoyed them. Obviously blogging is completely personal to everyone and these are just the basics which I'm sure everybody will have/have their own versions of, but I can't get enough of every piece.


I'd love to know what your essentials are? What makes your blogging life a little bit easier?

As always, thanks so much for reading!

xx


Post sponsored by Manfrotto but all thoughts, photos and love of bags that make every SO easy, my own.

© the Elle next door

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