Tag Archive | Cocktails

An Oriental Affair

As the taxi wound its way up the wide sweeping driveway and South Lodge came into view, it was clear that this was going to be a wedding of grandeur. South Lodge in Horsham is an impressive country house, which development started on in 1883 with final substantial additions made in 1911. It was used as a hospital during the Second World War and opened as a hotel in 1985.


The wedding was of an old friend of mine to his fiancé who is originally from Hong Kong. This was part one of their celebrations with the ‘away fixture’ as they are affectionately calling it, a Chinese banquet in Hong Kong, at the end of October which we are also attending so look out for a future blog post!

Inevitably as happens at these sorts of events where small talk is a plenty between strangers, the question came up of how I knew my friend. This is always an awkward one as we actually met on Facebook, when we were both single, but when we met up it became clear there was nothing remotely in the way of a spark between us, but we got on and so became firm friends.

For this special day I chose to wear a 1950’s inspired halterneck circle dress, in a red rose print design from Rocket in Rochester. My shoes were my red Sarah Jessica Parker designed heels which I bought some time back but had yet to wear. The outfit was completed with a red envelope clutch bag from Dorothy Perkins.



The ceremony was outside and it was thankfully a beautiful bright sunny September day, albeit a bit on the breezy side. We sat on rows of white chairs that were decorated with colourful pompoms, with a red carpet inbetween, leading to the stunning gazebo at the front. My friend looked the happiest I have ever seen him as he waited for his bride to appear. His suit was accented by a deep purple cravat and cummerbund, to correspond with the colour theme of the day.


We all turned to see the stunning bride in her gorgeous white dress, walk down the steps from the lodge and along to the gazebo. She had 7 bridesmaids which were a vision in their purple dresses.

The ceremony itself seemed quite short but I guess that is because I am used to church weddings. Whilst they signed the register, my friend’s sister played ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri on the piano.

There was then a drinks reception where the champagne flowed freely and there were a number of tasty canapes. Photos were taken whilst we all relaxed and got to know each other. There was an interesting take on the group photo-the photographer laid a rope out in a heart shape and got us to stand around the edge. He then removed it and took the picture – I always had wondered how they do these funky group shots and now I know!

Soon we were welcomed by the toastmaster inside from the gardens, to find our name on the ornate table plan that was a world map, with the tables named after places the couple had visited. It was also decorated in purple and with butterflies – themes that ran through the whole day.  The travel theme was also incorporated in the guest book which had a watermark of world map on each page. We then entered a large medieval style room. Round tables were adorned with silver candelabra that had real candles and ivy wrapped around them. There was some debate on our table as to whether or not the candles were real but this soon became obvious when the wax started to drip down. The bride changed into a beautiful traditional gown for the meal, which her mother had worn for her wedding.




The favours were in red and gold silk bags and were Jasmin flowering tea. Yunnan in China is where flowering teas come from but it is unclear as to whether these are an ancient idea or a modern phenomenon. They are essentially dried tea leaves with a dried flower in the middle. When boiling water is poured on the bulb, the leaves open up, revealing the flower.


Following the meal, sweets were brought round with the tea and coffee including macaroons with the couples initials piped on the top. We then retired to the bar and games room whilst they cleared the tables to make way for the dance floor. There was a sweet table, with paper bags that were personalised with the couple’s names in purple text. We browsed the stunning pre wedding photo books – a custom of Asian weddings since the late 1990’s.




Once the room had been transformed, with a black and white checkered dance floor we entered for the cake cutting – the cake was also decorated in purple and butterflies. Following that was their first dance, which was to ‘Fly me to the Moon’. The bride and her bridesmaids who all met at dance class then treated us to a magnificent display of dance.



It was then time for what I had been waiting for – the mixologist! The names of the cocktails were personalised to the couple.  The barman would make any cocktail you wanted. Particularly spectacular was the one he set light to. A few cocktails later and a box of props came out which made for some instagram worthy photos.




It was a day to remember; I wish the couple many happy years together and look forward to part two in Hong Kong. It is wonderful to see a couple that compliment each other so well.


Dizzy Heights

When I turned 30 two years ago I felt like I had reached a peak with nothing but a large descent into old age ahead of me.  I thought that birthdays would simply become more and more depressing. How wrong you can be! Since turning 30 my life has only got more interesting and fulfilling. Yes 30 brings with it fine lines and grey hairs as well as a difficulty in shifting those extra pounds from over indulgence but at the same time a new sense of acceptance of who you are and how you look means there is a lot less anxiety. Suddenly what other people will think becomes less of a restraint and we begin to please ourselves more.  What clothes size we fit into or that spot on our face becomes less of an obsession and we make way for simply enjoying ourselves and grabbing every opportunity that comes our way.  Having tick boxes is a great motivator but as an article I was reading the other day said, these should all be things we want to do and not things we think we should do at our age. A survey by the Huffington Post concluded we are most happy at the age of 33. With all this in mind I am looking forward to flying through the next 8 years by the seat of my pants and having many new experiences to write about before as the saying goes ‘life begins at 40!’

By way of celebration of my birthday this year I decided that to arrange a big event would be too much like hard work, so instead I had a number of mini parties; the first of which was the preceding weekend.

A friend and I attended Cocktails in the City which took place in Bedford Square Gardens in central London. This event comprises of 25 London cocktail bars coming together with pop up stalls, along with street food sellers and entertainers to create a festival with a difference.

Those of you of a similar age to me will fondly recall Sex and the City – my love of this series deepened my already growing love of cocktails. The exact definition of a cocktail as well as the origin of the word is unclear however the first recorded use of cocktail to describe an alcoholic beverage was in 1806. Over the year’s popularity of cocktails had waned until the mid 2000’s when mixology suddenly came to the fore of fashion again and more and more complex cocktails were made. You can’t help but feel glamourous with a martini glass in your hand.

Our £15 entrance ticket included a guide to the event and one free drink. I headed straight for The Craft Cocktail Company from Bethnal Green for a cointreaupolitan, being that like my nemesis Carrie Bradshaw, my cocktail of choice is generally a cosmopolitan. I was not disappointed with this twist on the classic drink – however it tasted less like alcohol and more like fruit juice which ensured it didn’t last long!

There were presentations throughout the day and we chose to sit in on one entitled The Motorcycle Diaries. The Motorcycle Diaries was a 2004 film where two friends travel around South America on their bikes so this session focused on alcohol that is local to South America. I dragged my friend to a front row seat – determined to be front of the queue for any possible tastings. I was invited up to the stage to make a Pisco sour. Pisco is a brandy made in Chilie and Peru and on its own it is horrible, what I imagine paint stripper to taste like. I was instructed to put a small measure of Pisco into the cup – naturally my small measure is probably most people’s definition of large and the guy found this quite funny. I then added lemon and lime juice. The final ingredient which I was rather sceptical of was egg white which apparently makes it a smooth drink. It was then time to shake the cocktail and the people leading the session claimed that your face when shaking a cocktail is your sex face! I then poured the mixture into a previously chilled glass and topped with bitters. It was such a laugh doing this and I got to keep the cocktail afterwards which was actually quite delicious. Various other drinks were made by people and then we all left with a complimentary margarita shot.

Cocktail making

By now we were well away and decided that food might be a sensible option. This would be my only criticism of the event as for hot food only pulled pork was left by 3pm which my friend sampled and I had cold chicken with tomato salad.

I found my favourite bar – Trailer Happiness, Portobello Road, otherwise known as the Bacardi bar! When not drinking cocktails, wine or bubbly; Bacardi has always been my spirit of choice. We were given a small balloon to hand to our favourite bar so mine went to them before I even tried my drink. My Bacardi cocktail had a fabulous garnish on it with a banana leaf and a flower.


One of the bars, Barrio had set up a table and paints for you to paint a wall tile that will be used in one of their branches. It was really relaxing to put some head phones on and just let the creativity flow.




Next we visited The Rivoli Bar at the Ritz and indulged in champagne.





Next stop, we visited Loves Company, a Tia Maria stand which had a pop up beach and we relaxed in a deck chair whilst enjoying a salted caramel cocktail.




Beach fun

To finish up we both had a repeat of the drink we chose on arrival.  It was a beautiful sunny day and a great way to relax on a Sunday afternoon after a busy week at work. For the event I wore a green dress from Torza boutique with leggings and my trusty oasis flip flops.


The Saturday before my birthday, my husband and I went to our favourite restaurant in Rainham, Eight which I have mentioned on here before. For this I wore a grey polka dot dress which I got from Pink Flamingo in Rochester; it is a little daring for me so I wore a white basic vest top underneath. Grey can be a depressing colour so to lift the outfit I wore my red LK Bennett wedges.

Eight outfit

On the Sunday we had a nice family tea at Mums. Mum made me a coffee and walnut cake which is my favourite and she decorated it with an Audrey Hepburn icing plaque as we enjoyed the exhibition the other week so much; see I Believe in Pink blog.


On my actual birthday – I took the day off work as usual (I never went to school on it so why should I have to work it?) and Mum and I went to Rochester. Rochester is my new go to place. I adore looking around the unusual and vintage shops. We ate lunch at an Italian restaurant and then rather than ordering pudding went to Fleur de The – a beautiful shabby chic café/shop and enjoyed coffee and scones. I couldn’t resist purchasing 2 miniature cups and saucers with a butterfly motif on them from there.



The Saturday after my birthday I went with my friend to Greenwich. Our birthdays are only a fortnight apart so as a joint celebration we decided to climb The O2. The O2 is a large tent like construction which was built as The Millennium Dome to celebrate the start of the third millennium and reopened as The O2 in 2005. It was constructed with Greenwich’s role in time and date in mind. It has a diameter of 365m (equal to number of days in the year). It has 12 yellow support towers (representing either 12 calendar months or 12 hours on standard clock face). The dome is 52m high at its central point (representative of the 52 weeks in a year). The climb is a 190 metres tensile fabric walkway over the top of the Dome with a central platform at the top with 360 degree views of London. It was quite a challenge as going up the walkway is 28 degrees steep and coming down 30 degrees. The fabric is also quite springy like a trampoline. The views at the top make it well worth undertaking though – you can see Canary Wharf, The Gherkin and the Olympic Park amongst other sites.


Afterwards we ventured into central Greenwich on a Thames Clipper which I had never been on before. These are high speed catamarans and I don’t think I have ever travelled on water so fast; they have a maximum speed of 28 Knots.  Once there we got lunch at a pub in the market area and soaked up the cosmopolitan atmosphere. We then discovered a wealth of unusual, quirky shops and visited her friend’s new vintage store, Joli Vintage Living. Look out for a future blog all about this fab store.

There will be one more chance to celebrate at the end of August as for my gift; my husband bought me day tickets to the V Festival so look out for an upcoming blog on that too.

Enjoy the summer!