Well hello, friend! Been quite a while. I know, I know – that’s an understatement – but I had the most all-consuming craving to blog this morning.

I could say it came out of nowhere, but I won’t pretend. After more than a year of silence, you deserve more.

So, here I am today: former full-time blogger and so-called ‘influencer’, tip-toeing back to write for the lolz – something I haven’t done since my work at The Telegraph and Forbes filled my schedule…and quite some time beforehand.

You see, around two or three years ago, I reached breaking point. I was tired of traveling with peers who cared more about sharing holiday selfies than being present in (and for) the places they were paid to visit (or people they met). Tired of seeing industries thrive by fostering fakery. Tired of the commercialization of life. My life.

When I started this blog (a whole decade ago), all I wanted to do was write. I got extremely and abnormally lucky along the way, eventually earning enough to make a living through it, but that core impulse never changed. Even if I did.

When I decided to take a break and get my NCTJ, I wanted to leave it all behind. To swap a life telling personal stories for a life telling everyone else’s.

But I didn’t have to swap it, did I? Because life was still going to happen, whether I wrote about it or not.

Buying a house happened. Getting engaged happened. Becoming a runner happened.

Cancer happened. Coronavirus happened. George Floyd happened.

Life and death happened, but still, nothing. No diarizing, no creating, no inspiring. At least not for the hell of it.

That’s going to change today because I miss it, and I’ve missed it for quite some time.

I can’t promise much more than therapeutic ramblings today, considering we’re all locked down, but the simple notion that I’ve re-opened a space to share the best of food, travel, culture and life feels good enough for now.

Until next time,

xoxo, Lela

hotel review london
I love a bouji staycation and I’m very aware that turn of phrase makes me sound like an absolute trollop.

There’s just no way around it; hotels are to good times what good times are to a Lela. To date, the record of extraordinary days to days I’ve ended up face-planting into sheets someone else has mace is one-for-one. I back staycations for all occasions.

For my recent birthday, newly opened aparthotel The Chronicle had my name written all over it.

Though the building nestled just a street back from Chancery Lane (and, most importantly, a quick Uber to Shoreditch) it is unbelievably quiet and spacious. As parent company Supercity Aparthotels’ reputation might suggest – a veritable home away from home.

The Chronicle boasts 53 elegant apartments (five of which have private terraces) with comfort-minded living areas, beautiful bedrooms, original – and typically cheeky – art, luxe bathrooms, Kerridge-ready kitchens, and all associated amenities.

It was the perfect pad to fill up (and glam up) before a boozy birthday brunch with drag queens and an even better hangover hideaway.

In fact, the complimentary Sky TV package (including sports and movies) really helped with the latter.

Time to find something else to celebrate…



hotel review london
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Despite frequenting The Alchemist for a number of years, I’ve never given the cocktail citadel a proper review.

This could be, perhaps, because I’ve typically only drank in the bar’s North England venues. The first Alchemist launched in Manchester’s Deansgate in 2010 on the site of a former 19th century ‘den of iniquity and alchemy’ (giving the bar its name) and I hadn’t actually visited the brand’s London sites since my hometown return.

Luckily, the whole affair met past expectations – their St Martins Lane outpost is a little bit of alco-theatre in the theatre district. And then some.

The cocktails fizz, smoke, pop and – well – transmogrify like they have for years while the food menu tantalises in its own way; there is a little bit of everything and a lot to keep your mouth watering.

After toasting with a Smokey Old Fashioned (Woodford Reserve, maple syrup, Jerry Thomas bitters and smoke), my dinner date and I shared tempura prawn lollipops, steamed pork buns and duck gyoza – all of which went down a simple but delicious treat.

I was especially surprised to see the menu championing seitan (both in ‘nuggets’ and boneless ‘wings’) but decided to forgo my vegan favourite for a later date so we could share some mains.

Forgoing the pant stretch of the Vietnamese Banh Mi (my favourite street food of all time), we opted for the tandoori seabass (unbelievably flavoursome) and poke bowl (which, while loaded, was a little more ‘great vegan salad’ than ‘poke bowl’).

All in all, it’s wonderful to know I can line my stomach with an array of affordable yet appealing bites when fate leads me, inevitably, back to The Alchemist.

Their Penicillin (Ardbeg 10 yearr, Chase Marmalade vodka, lemon and burnt cinnamon) is the only dessert I’ll ever need.

the alchemist london review

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nissan leaf road trip
One year ago I moved into a gated community brimming with electric car charging points.

Beforehand, I hadn’t given much thought to the EV explosion. As one in the majority of carless Londoners, I could offer you names of a handful of brands with electric cars to speak of and little more.

The points piqued my interest. Day in and day out, I would see normal-looking (hell, even nice-looking) cars plug in for a charge before silently slipping away.

As an eco-conscious woman with a penchant for the open road, I had to get involved.

In the end, I did so with the Nissan LEAF – Europe’s best-selling electric vehicle of 2018.

The decision was easy. I was taking a road trip from London to South Wales’ Brecon Beacons and the LEAF seemed to be the the most efficient choice to travel the 220+ miles electrically.

Before setting off, we plotted a route out on Zap Map (Nissan’s own website uses the app as a travel guide) to ensure the journey’s two hour-long breaks were at spots we could find electric charging points.

Though its impressive 200-some mile range may have got us there on a single charge we were faced with freezing temperatures, traffic and a need for bass-heavy road trip playlists – all of which drains the range.

(Planned pit stops are key to avoid range anxiety.)

Beyond that, we were as good as gone!

With bags loaded and push-button ‘engine’ revved, I began to notice the LEAF’s little luxuries. Everything in the car was smarter and slicker than expected; keyless entry, digital screens, parking cameras, bluetooth Bose audio, hands-free calling, et al. All working to make every second spent on the road enjoyable.

The LEAF is also, bizarrely, a lot of fun to drive. Silent, but deadly (if you will):

Its e-Pedal lets you accelerate, brake and come to a complete stop with a single pedal. Its Propilot (and Propilot Park) helps keep you centred, covers blind spots and even parks for you with the press of a button.

A heated steering wheel and seats don’t hurt, either.

By the time we reached Long Hare Barn we were looking up parking permit prices to support a longer-term investment.

The two-cottage site, Little Hare Barns, is part of Premier Cottages’ new collection of properties with EV Chargers which made it the perfect destination for our EV-centric trip.

The weekend was spent walking around the Beacons, cooking up a storm in the super-stocked kitchen, playing board games next to a roaring fire, making friends with locals in nearby pubs, and nursing our New Year’s hangovers in the cottage’s beautiful expanse.

We simply popped the LEAF on charge the night before we were due to drive back and motored home to the Big Smoke with ease.

I would do it all again in a heartbeat and couldn’t recommend this exact trip enough.

A week’s stay in Long Hare Barn for five starts from £592.50 and a three-night weekend from £474 (www.premiercottages.co.uk, 01873 811200)

nissan leaf road trip

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whisky blogger whiskey blogger
Without much thought or effort, I’ve become the go-to girl for whisky recommendations in my social circles. So much so I have had thirsty friends both savvy and curious beg me for a definitive whisky guide.

The trouble is, I fall in love with something new more often than I will ever get through a bottle. My partner and I’s personal collection alone is thirty-one bottles strong.

Nonetheless, I know my way around a whisky cabinet and feel that knowledge is worth a share. Lo and behold, my 2019 Whisky Wishlist: the best to gift, bring, quaff and mix.

Tumblers at the ready…
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