Sunday, 23 April 2017

GUSTO LEEDS // SPRING MENU

Candelabra restaurant set-up at Gusto, Leeds | The Dress Diaries

Gusto Spring Menu


A few bloggers were treated to a cosy catch up recently, over the new Spring menu at Gusto Leeds.
I have frequented Gusto a few times since the launch a couple of years back and it's definitely become one of my favourite restaurants in Leeds. 

After a lovely selection of meats and cheese and a choice of cocktail, I chose the Deep Fried Toma Cheese starter, followed by the Maple Glazed Salmon Fillet. I'm trying to eat far less meat in my diet and the menu offers a lot of variation including plenty of veggie options.

Other notable dishes on the menu included the Plum Tomato and Basil Tart as a starter and for the mains, the Beef Fillet Carpaccio Salad and the Baked Aubergine Milanese. The Vanilla Panna Cotta for dessert was incredible, paired with strawberries drizzled in balsamic.

Meat and cheese platter at Gusto Restaurant

Salmon fillet meal at Gusto, Leeds

Beef Carpaccio Salad at Gusto, Leeds

Gusto have restaurants right across the country, so it's easy to find a place no matter where you are in the UK to try their menu for yourself.

Their pretty decor also lends itself to a being a great event venue. The Leeds location in particular has a comfortable space for occasions and the staff are always more than happy to cater to specific requests.  The Italian brand have a strong reputation for putting the customer first. From the minute you walk in to the second you leave (with an inevitably full stomach) you will receive the utmost service.

From experience, Gusto is the perfect 'treat the parents or grandparents to a meal' kind of place as well as a 'midday drinking session refuel' pit stop too - it definitely caters for all.

Gorgeous frame decor at Gusto Restaurants

Foliage and fairy lights decor at Gusto Restaurants | The Dress Diaries

Candelabra restaurant set-up at Gusto, Leeds | The Dress Diaries

Our personal set-up in the main area of the restaurant showed all of the Beauty and the Beast vibes, with atmospheric lighting and candelabras. In other areas of the restaurant, you can see it is bright, spacious and absolutely littered with fairy lights and foliage. 

No matter what you're after, the space and menu cater for it all - at a pleasantly affordable price!

Thanks to the Bethany and the Gusto team for having me, I'm pretty certain I'll be seeing you again soon!

leanne

x


Disclaimer: I was kindly invited to try the menu here for free, however, all thoughts are unbiased and my own.
Just look at the food and tell me you wouldn't say the same.

Friday, 14 April 2017

FESTIVAL FASHION //

The second the sunshine appears, I'm stepping into wellies and counting down the days till Glastonbury. There's something about Summer weather - even in April - that gets me thinking about the festival season.

Festival fashion blogger - Yorkshire Park

Festival fashion with vintage shorts, wellies and tattoos

Festival fashion with vintage shorts, wellies and tattoos

I'm a huge fan of charity shopping and vintage fairs. These vintage Levi shorts (bought for £10 by the way - bargain) have seen me through many a Summer festival and are still going strong. They're super easy to wear in all weathers and ideal to go with a wide range of outfits, including my new beautiful Joules wellies.

I treated myself to these well in advance of the festivals this year. Joules offer a huge range of pretty and colourful waterproofs, including the more simplistic gloss black and yellow detailed pair I opted for. It's pretty much a given that rain will make an appearance - albeit short - at a UK festival so wellies for me as an absolute must.

Festival fashion with vintage shorts, wellies and tattoos

Joules wellies

Anthropologie headband - festival fashion accessory

Anthropologie headband - festival fashion accessory

 When dry shampoo just isn't enough at a festival sometimes, a headscarf or band is ideal to disguise it. This gorgeous floral number from Anthropologie was a present (from me, to me) last season and I absolutely adore it.

The ultimate goal is to invest in several of these accessories to match every outfit I wear and I won't ever have a bad hair day again.

Joules wellies - Otley Chevin

Festival fashion

It's safe to say my festival wardrobe is almost bigger than my actual wardrobe, which frankly, just means I'll have to show my Glasto spirit everywhere I go.

What is your festival fashion must-have?


leanne

x

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

EXPLORING STOCKHOLM // the ABBA museum

The ABBA Museum - Stockholm Travel - days out

This is something a little different to my first post appreciating the old town and best food/drink areas of the city (read it here.) I'm insisting you hear me out when I tell you that the ABBA Museum was the most fun a group of nearing 30 year olds twenty-somethings could have had on a trip to Stockholm.

Even if you're not the biggest fan of pop music, it's likely you've heard the entirety of ABBA Gold in your lifetime whether you wanted to or not. The museum takes you through the history of Eurovision, Abba hitting the UK and the band member's personal lives as well as giving you an array of interactive (and hilarious) activities to do.

The ABBA Museum - Stockholm Travel - days out

The ticket you are given on entry can be scanned around the museum at different points, to record audio/visual games you can try your hand at. Everything you take part in - from terrible karaoke (well, in our case) to seeing who makes the best music producer - can then be accessed at a later date on the website and you can relive it all over again. 

 From 195 SEK per adult, it's a pretty reasonable price but as with a lot of tourist attractions in Stockholm, either buy tickets online before you visit (and save on a booking fee) OR make sure you bring your card. A lot of places in the city have a cash-free system so it's handy to have a currency card with you when you visit. I mention the Caxton FX card in this post if you want to read up on what I use when I travel!

Although this tourist attraction isn't appreciating the Swedish architecture, cuisine or their wonderful friendliness, the ABBA museum is definitely a fun afternoon out that I'd recommend whilst you're in Stockholm.

The ABBA Museum - Stockholm Travel - Platform Boots

The ABBA Museum - Stockholm Travel - days out

The ABBA Museum - Stockholm Travel - days out

We've all got guilty pleasures and it's safe to say, although we hadn't realised it before, ABBA are definitely a firm one in our hearts.

leanne

x

Friday, 24 March 2017

EXPLORING STOCKHOLM // GAMLA STAN and SODERMALM

My friends and I visited Stockholm recently and amongst many memorable things we did (the ABBA museum, for instance) we also ventured to a couple of notable areas in the city. Here's an overview of some of the food and drink places we found on our travels in Gamla Stan and Södermalm, including  places I'd definitely recommend if you have the opportunity to visit.

Gamla Stan


The old town in Stockholm is the recognisable, small area of colourful buildings you may have seen on Pinterest and Instagram. A place to rival Nyhavn in Copenhagen, these streets are wonderfully pretty and full of quirky cafes and souvenir shops to boot.

Gamla Stan - colourful buildings

We ventured to Gamla Stan and spotted the loveliest cafe, Kaffekoppen, so we headed there on our last day to celebrate Fettisdagen (The Fat Tuesday - similar in tradition to pancake day!)

Gamla Stan - cute coffee shop front in old town Stockholm

Semlor - a sweet Swedish delicacy

The Swedish semlor - a sweet, cinnamon roll filled with almond paste and whipped cream - is something I knew was a must when visiting Stockholm over Shrove Tuesday. Although cinnamon and almond paste are absolutely not my favourites, I tried this glorious looking roll - because, well, when in Sweden - and was pleasantly surprised.

Apparently they also so offer a jam version, so next time I'll be back to sample that instead!

Record Store in Stockholm

Gamla Stan

It's ridiculously easy to find your way around Stockholm.

We walked absolutely everywhere, from our hotel in the East of the city, through to the old town and right across the water to Sodermalm. If you don't fancy doing 25,000 steps a day however, the T-Bana system (the underground) is a simple way to get around. There are stations littered around each neighbourhood and many run till the early hours.


Sodermalm



This part is suggested to be the 'hip' area of Stockholm, so we tried out a couple of foodie places and bars in this area like the cool kids we think we are.

There was a fantastic veggie feast at Herman's Vegetarian Restaurant and Garden Cafe. With plenty of food puns, skyline views and an incredible lunch buffet on offer every day (and it's all vegan) this is a must visit if you're ever visiting the area.

Vegetarian cafe in Stockholm

Vegetarian cafe in Stockholm

Also in Sodermalm you'll find plenty of pubs and bars to drink the night away.
Before we visited, lots of people had mentioned they thought Stockholm was really expensive. In actual fact, as with lots of European countries, it completely depends on where you go and what you buy.

In Sweden, they have Systembolaget - liquor stores who have the monopoly on selling alcohol with a volume of 3.5% or more. The only alcohol you can buy from a supermarket is weak beer and if you do want to buy something stronger, the liquor stores are only open for specific, short hours each day. Lots of the bars are very expensive if you're buying spirits and cocktails but there are definitely budget options out there.

Tourist shot in Stockholm - with Fjallraven backpackOne of my favourite finds was Baras 2 Noll - a quirky, bigger-than-it-looks drinking hole just off the main street of Sodermalm. They serve a variety of drinks including house beer and cider for a mere £1.80 - it's a pretty sure bet if you're on a budget.

We also visited a great, local Krogan Soldaten Svejk in Sodermalm for our last meal in the city. Good beer and authentic, Swedish pub food (with all the cheese you could possible want) - what could be better?


Tourist shot in Stockholm - Winter

Overall, I loved Gamla Stan for it's friendly atmosphere and often touristic nature, but would love to explore Sodermalm further if I got the opportunity to visit again. There are definitely far more delights than we had time to discover!

Have you visited Stockholm? Any great food/drink places you discovered?


leanne

x


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

A TRIP TO THE SEASIDE WITH MUM // ft. The Car People

Scarborough Graduation - Family Photo

Just in time for Mother's Day - The Car People asked me to write about a memorable car journey I shared with my wonderful Mum.


On a number of occasions throughout my time at university a few years ago, my mum and I made the short trip to Scarborough together. Choosing to live by the sea for three years was a hit because she and I are both a big fan of the typical British, East Coast holiday but more specifically - 2p machines. 

When she dropped me off every year to a new flat or shared house, we'd pack the car to the very brim and wonder how I'd managed to amass so many 'need to have with me' items.

Scarborough Sea Front

One notable trip however, was the first time I drove my own car for the trip.

It's not news to those who know me well that I am not a fan of driving, so to be taking to the road for a drive lasting longer than an hour - for the first time ever - was bound to be memorable. Although my mum has always been a great driver, it turned not she's not particularly supportive when it comes to being passenger to a nervous driver. Honestly, I can't blame her.

The journey ran surprisingly smoothly in my opinion - it's a very straight, very easy road from my parents' house - accompanied by worried outbursts and gasps from my mum every time she thought I was driving:

A. too fast
B. too close to the left
C. too close to the right

By the time I actually arrived into the town, I had become so worked up over these interjections that I pulled over into the car park of a B&Q and absolutely refused to drive any further. My mum drove the rest of the way and it's safe to say, I've not been asked to drive her anywhere since!

Graduation photo - Scarborough Spa

It's not all been an uphill struggle though, the final time we drove up to Scarborough together was to attend my graduation ceremony. Although I was more excited for the wild night out afterwards, it was an exciting trip all round for my family and my mum in particular.

We managed to get there safely (her driving, of course) with no dramatic driver swaps along the way. It was a glorious day and great to celebrate the occasion with my mum and the rest of my family.

Graduation family photo - Mother's Day


I might be biased, but I think my mum is the absolute best, even if she doesn't trust me to get her to the seaside in one piece!


Thanks to The Car People for inspiring this post - let me know a memorable car journey you've had with your own mum in the comments below!

leanne

x


Thursday, 2 February 2017

20 THINGS YOU SHOULD WRITE IN YOUR TINDER BIO //

What should you include in your tinder bio? - The Dress Diaries

As someone who is a fan of people finding love online, I thought it would be a good idea to suggest some things you could include in your bio to sell yourself on the popular dating app.


1. Whether you can make a good brew.

2. Your pet's name or, if you don't have a pet, whether you're a cat or dog person.
Important information.

3. Your favourite metal.

4. An obscure reference to your favourite film/TV show so that you can determine whether your potential bae is suitable.

5. Your current Netflix binge series so they know what you like to 'chill' after.

6. A shortened version of your CV because you never know when you'll come across a job opportunity. And I don't mean that kind of job.

7. A request for a gig buddy to a particular event.

8. That you've 'got a long list of ex-lovers' to scare off the haters but also attract Taylor fans because who doesn't want a date with a Swifty?

9.Your best GCSE results.

10. Any dietary requirements. No one wants to take a veggie to an all-you-can-eat meat buffet for a first date.

11. A personalised powerpoint presentation of reasons people should date you. (This is apparently a tried and tested technique.)

12. How long you've been single. Don't they say honesty is the best policy?

13. If you're planning on leaving the country any time soon. Some people want that full-time relationship malarkey.

14. A link to your personal tumblr. One blog post on '50 things you never knew about me' will probably say a lot more about you than a conversation on Tinder ever will.

15. How to pronounce your name - if yours is difficult, long or Irish.

16. Song lyrics, because, that's deep.

17. Your Instagram link. What's the point in talking to these people if they're not going to up your social media count?

18. Emojis. All the emojis.

19. The number of times you've downloaded then deleted (then re-downloaded) Tinder.

20. Your availability; i.e. 'I'm down for it on a Saturday night, I only eat meat on Tuesday, gotta get to yoga on Sunday and I visit my grandparents house on a Monday night. Please schedule a date accordingly.'

I hope this helps you in your quest for true love and if not, I hope you at least get a few interesting replies and a free drink or two!


leanne

x

Thursday, 5 January 2017

WHAT TO DO ON A WEEKEND IN COPENHAGEN //

I've previously published a post featuring a few snaps from my trip but now, I want to share with you some of the places I'd recommend if you're planning a trip to Copenhagen soon. Although we only had three days here, it's a hugely accessible city and there's no excuse for not being able to see and do an awful lot.

From where to stay to what to eat, I've detailed a few of my favourites from a wonderful long weekend here.


Urban House - Copenhagen
source

Stay at the Urban House


By no means is this hostel the cheapest but that little extra you pay here will reward you with the FANTASTIC LOCATION and GREAT ATMOSPHERE. Urban House is a huge place, full of travellers from across the globe. They have their own bar, kitchen, washing facilites which makes it ideal for those who may be backpacking/interrailing around Europe. They've also got a tattoo studio, for the wild ones among us.

As well as standard hostel dorms, they offer private rooms with an ensuite and free WiFi, which is ideal if you want a little more privacy. Our room was small, cosy and everything we needed for our few nights in Copenhagen. Literally a five minute walk from Central Station and the meat-packing district five minutes in the opposite direction, I couldn't recommend Urban enough.


Nyhavn - Copenhagen New Harbour - The Dress Diaries

Nyhavn - Copenhagen New Harbour - The Dress Diaries

Walk through Nyhavn


This is the area of CopenHagen you're bound to have seen on Instagram. True to these pretty snapshots, Nyhavn (New Harbour) is full of colourful houses and restaurants and a lovely spot to wander through. There are lots of places to eat here, however, if you're saving your pennies you'd be best off heading a little way out as this is a popular tourist spot and therefore, not cheap.

When it gets chilly of an evening, most places have cosy heat lamps and blankets outside so you can carry on partying enjoying your sensible, evening out.


The Little Mermaid statue - Copenhagen


Visit the Little Mermaid statue (Den lille Havfrue)


It's a long trek but totally worth it. If you prefer, the sightseeing tour buses (bright red, you probably know the ones) will drop you off right next door.

Try to time this one right and head there pretty early. If you're lucky enough to be staying for a long weekend, definitely choose a weekday for this one. From previous advice, it's going to be crowded at any other time. Don't expect the world, it's literally a statue but if you're a Disney fan or just interested in the history of the story, it's a nice thing to tick off your travel list.


Pirate Ship Restaurant - Tivoli Gardens - The Dress Diaries

Tivoli Gardens - The Dress Diaries

Try the rides (and waffles!) at Tivoli Gardens


This is without a doubt the most Christmassy place I have ever experienced. Having not visited outside of the festive season I can't tell you how pretty Tivoli Gardens are at other times in the year but I'm certain it's a place you will want to visit. They decked it out with Christmas trees galore and there are so mnay lovely food places to try out. You can even have a beautiful dinner on a pirate ship, if the mood takes you!

Open from April - September then for special themed occasions at Halloween and Christmas, make sure you book your trip to coincide because it's somewhere you won't want to miss.

A note that may seem obvious: try the rides BEFORE the food. Some of those big ones won't be kind to your stomach.

Fleisch - Copenhagen
source


Eat at the Meatpacking District


I'd read a lot online before we left about this area and it's well known for it's amazing food places. The place itself is pretty central, so it's somewhere very easy to visit if you only have a few days in the city. We visited Fleisch by default as a lot of the other places were full, but BOY are we glad we ended up here. Seated at the bar (due to sheer volume of customers!) we were faced with a short but amazing menu and plenty of options for drinks.

Not a recommendation if you're veggie, but please don't let this put you off from visiting the district itself as there are lots of other options. We also visited Mother for an all-you-can-eat breakfast on Sunday which was divine.

It's not a particularly cheap place to eat, so bear in mind if you're on a budget. If you're looking to splash out a little and really have a great foodie experience however, this is the place for you.


leanne

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