canova hall
While I respect anywhere with the balls to promote a restaurant, cocktail bar, hot desking workspace and nightclub as a single venue, I’m not sure Canova Hall should call themselves a quadruple threat just yet.

The newly-opened 4,500-ft Brixton baby was launched to expand on the success of the owners’ popular London Fields pizza pub, Martello Hall, and fans will be pleased to know their beloved sourdough pies have made it south of the river.

Looking like an old market canteen of hipster dreams, the atmosphere is also rather remarkable. From the moment I sat down, there was a very low bar set to charm my discerning pants off.

The food, however, fell short. The meatballs (in a ‘Nduja tomato sauce with parmesan & pecorino) were drier and less seasoned than my own. The smoked scarmoza & pancetta crocchettas (with rocket pesto) needed the pesto to draw any flavour.

The highlights were the plate of torta fritta (Italian dough balls) with salami, truffle taleggio, pecorino, riccota salata & salsa verde and zucchini fries. But I am looking for much more from a fully-fledged restaurant experience than an adoration for prepared charcuterie and fried vegetables.

Naturally, there will be teething issues. Ones I can only hope I’ve experienced here as their drink selection is incredible.

Canova Hall might actually be the sexiest place to get your drink on in South London. Their beer selections are suitably crafty (Five Points, Yeastie Boys, Fourpure, etc), they have 12 delightful wines on tap, a massive & classically-served absinthe offering, and a Barrel Aged Old Fashioned so perfect I may actually elope with it (Woodford Reserve from their barrel, maraschino cherry extract and orange bitters).

Though I left feeling relatively indifferent towards its culinary exploits, I feel Canova Hall is one to watch. Post-training wheel removal.

(Or visit for a tipsy-binge on zucchini fries, at least).

canova hall
canova hall
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green hair
The current consuming insanity of life has left me playing an unintentional game of sartorial apathy almost every morning.

It’s all turned a little “insert dress here” and it has made me feel a little less me.

To combat the unwelcome feels, I took my first night off in over six weeks, dyed my hair green (temporarily!), laid out an outfit that made me feel Lela AF, and popped my favourite jewelry in my bag for my fated morning haze.

This jewelry brain hack has become part of my daily routine since discovering Centime’s coordinates jewelry (you can pop your chosen GPS coordinates – ie your wedding venue – onto their pretty little pieces). Couples options with hidden inside-ring messages and all.

(Shut up! YOU’RE sentimental!)

What clothes or accessories make you feel your you-est?

What I Wore:
Vintage Rolling Stones t-shirt (similar here)
Faux leather skirt (old, similar here)
White leather boots from Office (grey version, here)
Sheer socks from Pull & Bear (similar here)
My ring (as above)
My name necklace

coordinates ring
green hair
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crowne plaza leeds 4
This year, The Times voted Leeds the number one cultural place to live in Britain above London, Manchester, Brighton, et-personal-al.

Though I hadn’t been back for almost two years, the year I spent living in the city centre left a lasting impression on me. The food, drink, and people are – in my opinion – second to almost none.

When asked to return to the city for work, I couldn’t help but turn business into pleasure and book myself in for a little staycation.

The second I booked in at the Crowne Plaza Leeds, I felt I was home.

Though the 135-room hotel is far from small, the high (and noticeably Northern) level or service made the stay feel rather intimate.

Arriving before our room was ready, we were welcomed into their beautiful club lounge (part of their recent £4.5 million refurbishment and a special hideaway for those in executive suites) for refreshments before being taken to our insanely affordable little suite.

After a few hours in bed (the novelty will never wear off), we headed out to luxuriate in Leeds’ electric landscape. The hotel is within walking distance of the First Direct Leeds Arena, Headingley Cricket Ground, Kirkstall Abbey, and my forever-beloved street food kitchen at Trinity Leeds – to name but a few.

We were out too long to get acquainted with the hotel’s Spirit Health and Leisure Club but I have already earmarked a full morning to enjoy the large indoor heated swimming pool, gym, and spa during our inevitable follow-up visit.

From king-sized bed to rainfall shower, I developed a hell of an appetite for breakfast so booked it for the hotel’s Bar & Kitchen @ LS1 for a locally-sourced Full English.

Or, as the bridal party across from us kept cooing, a “bloody grand Full Yorkshire”.

Not an attribution too different from the Crowne Plaza itself.

crowne plaza leeds 3
crowne plaza leeds 9
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santi london e20
Authenticity has been bastardised by the food industry for far too long. Any old restaurant with a creme brulee on their menu seems comfortable calling themselves an ‘authentic French restaurant’ and great menus of undisputed origin have been lost somewhere in the culinary hullabaloo.

Bizarrely, East Village (London’s former Olympic Athlete’s Village) now has one of the most authentic Italian restaurants I’ve been to in years.

Though it is only one year old, Santi has built a reputation on the handiwork of their Napolitan pizza chef and his specially-imported Italian flour.

Well aware that real Italian food is much more than pizza, I ignored all dough-swooning inclinations and decided the rest of the menu had to be put to the test.

As my dinner date clinked her well-deserved Aperol Spritz with mine, every Italian in East London seemed to decamp across the tables around us in colossal groups. For a relatively frill-free atmosphere and unconditionally Italian restaurant team, this only assured its apititude in the quest for authenticity.

At prices more competitive than any restaurant in the vicinity of Westfield Stratford, we went on to have a deliciously bona fide Italian feast; fresh calamari fritti, involtini di melazane parmigiance (translation: decadently baked mozarella-loaded aubergine), a wildly generous guazzetto (mussell, clam, prawn & sea bass casserole) served with toasted bread, and perfectly cooked sea bass with fries and vegetables.

The addition of a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc del Veneto (a dry and elegant Italian pairing for gluttonous flavour chaos) tricked us into believing we had room for dessert. We quite obviously didn’t when a handmade tiramisu larger than my head arrived next to the richest tortino al cioccolato (think chocolate lava cake with a little less lava) in existence.

I only managed a few bites but their mascarpone and espresso-heavy tiramisu was worth a return trip alone.

Santi get my authentic seal of approval and then some.

santi london e20
santi london e20
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cbd
When I overheard a woman praising “legal weed” for curing chronic pain on the Underground, I was more than a little confused.

Though many progressive US states have decriminalized or fully legalized cannabis, it is still illegal in the UK.

Like any good millennial, I started Googling for answers and entered the wide world of CBD a fraction of a second thereafter.

CBD – or Cannabidiol – is one of at least 113 active cannabinoids identified in cannabis and accounts for up to 40% of the plant’s extract. Yet, unlike its psychoactive and THC-toting parent, it’s legal.

When the oil is extracted from hemp plant there is a minimal amount of THC left over (read: there is no high), yet the neuroprotective, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties remain.

Long story short: if there were ever to be a quintessential “medical marijuana”, CBD would be it.

After reading countless rave reviews and discovering CBD oil had the potential to stabilize blood sugar (go, Team Diabetes!), I hopped on to CBDSense and half-nervously ordered the Medihemp 5% oil and Hemptouch CBD-ointment for problem skin.

(The expectant gaggle of policemen – I can confirm – never showed up at my front door.)

After a few weeks with the products hidden behind my ‘normal’ beauty products, I have to give CBD two very contented thumbs up. The oil can only be described as Chill In A Bottle and I genuinely believe a daily drop under the tongue did wonders for my immune system while everyone around me seemed to get knocked down my tonsilitis, man flu, et al.

Medihemp is also the only biologically certified CBD manufacturer on the market, making its products among the most reliable available.

The Hemptouch CBD-ointment for problem skin has also helped heal a few kitchen burns and my forever-accident prone (therefore constantly cut-inflamed) legs. I imagine it would work wonders for anyone struggling with eczema or psoriasis.

Beyond my minor concerns, CBD oil has been acknowledged as a saviour for treatment-resistant forms of childhood epilepsy (something I actually heard rumours about way back at Cannabis College in Amsterdam) as well as a treatment for motivational disorders like depression, anxiety, and addiction.

I can’t imagine there would be many a human in this crazy city who couldn’t use a little CBD.

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