Events, treatments, activities all get featured here, in the lifestyle section.

At the Movies

I’ve been feeling fairly drained the past couple of weeks – work has been really busy, and with all of the horrible news at the moment I’ve been trying to steer clear of the internet, and social media in general! That will all be changing though, as from this weekend I’ll officially be on holiday – hurrah!

#HMVMovieNight

Working a full-time job, as well as attending blogger events most evenings can really take it out of you. I’ve been trying to unwind a little more, and clear my head, which is why I was super excited that HMV got in touch and sent me over a little pamper pack – it was just what I needed.

#HMVMovieNight#HMVMovieNight

A quiet night in with cocktails, a face mask and The Breakfast Club really hit the spot!

I also managed to score tickets to the UK premiere of The Neon Demon, the latest film from Nicolas Winding Refn (Director of Drive and Only God Forgives).

The Neon Demon UK PremiereThe Neon Demon UK PremiereThe Neon Demon UK Premiere

If you’ve seen any of his films before, you’ll know that they are very atmospheric – and stunningly shot. Every scene was so beautiful, and despite mixed reviews I loved the film, especially as it focused a lot more on female relationships compared to his previous work.

The Neon Demon UK PremiereThe Neon Demon UK PremiereThe Neon Demon UK Premiere

I’ve never been to a film premiere before, and it was really interesting to hear from Winding Refn directly about the film – and Elle Fanning’s dress was amazing, too. It was also my first time at Picturehouse Central, which is a whole lot nicer than the Odeon in Leicester Square (although my favourite cinema is still the Prince Charles!)

The Neon Demon UK PremiereThe Neon Demon UK Premiere7

Have you seen any good movies recently? What’s your favourite? Be sure to comment belowor let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

FujiFilm X70 Camera

When I first started blogging, I would lug my massive DSLR to events. It would be really annoying, because it was doing some serious damage to my handbags – and as a food blogger, a larger camera would be really intrusive, especially at restaurants.

So I invested in the Sony RX100 II, and it was one of the best things I did for my blog – it’s compact, but with all the features I loved in an DSLR, as well as WiFi, and loads of other features, too.

FujiFilm X70FujiFilm X70

When the folks at John Lewis asked if I’d like to check out the FujiFilm XA2, I couldn’t resist – I’d heard some amazing things from friends, and was really tempted by many of the features.

FujiFilm X70FujiFilm X70

For its compact size, the X70 is a powerful camera – it’s simple to use, and the picture quality is incredible. I’ve enjoyed using for food blogging, especially – close up shots of dishes work really well with this camera.

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Some people might find the lack of viewfinder to be a drawback, but I quite like the large touchscreen, which gives you a lot more detail.

I also love the WiFi capability, which makes sending shots to Instagram so easy – it’s all controlled through the FujiFilm app, and is a lot more user-friendly than my Sony in that respect. Perfect for food blogging on the go!

FujiFilm x70FujiFilm x70

My favourite type of photo to take with the X70 is a selfie. The touch screen flips over, so you can see exactly what you’re taking, which makes it also perfect for vlogging (if I ever take the plunge, that is!)

FujiFilm X70FujiFilm x70FujiFilm X70

The quality is so great, and there’s no more guesswork involved – meaning that there will probably be a lot more photos of me in my posts moving forward (sorry guys).

FujiFilm x70

All in all, I am super thrilled with it, and haven’t found fault with it so far, with the exception of cases – I am way too accident-prone to trust myself with such a beautiful camera without it in a case, and they are all fairly pricey.

FujiFilm x70

Other than that, I adore it, and would definitely recommend it as an alternative to a fullsized DSLR, especially for food blogging.

Have you tried the X70? What are your thoughts? Be sure to comment belowor let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

clueQuest’s Revenge of the Sheep Review & Giveaway!

There’s always something going on in London – whether it’s a new restaurant opening, or an art exhibition – it’s what makes it so great to live here.

clueQuest10clueQuest - Islandbell ReviewAnd yet I’m often stumped for things to do that don’t just revolve around eating out, or going for a drink.

Which is why I absolutely love the Escape Room trend going on at the moment. I’ve tried a couple in London now, and always have such a blast – as a massive fan of mystery/thriller films, the thought of having to get myself out of a room by following clues is more than a little exciting.

clueQuest - Islandbell ReviewclueQuest - Islandbell ReviewSo I was super happy when the team at clueQuest got in touch to say they had a top secret mission for me at their Kings Cross HQ – and even more excited when I found out that my teammates/fellow agents were Katy, Jasiminne, Natasha, Emma and Amanda.

clueQuest - Islandbell ReviewFor those of you who don’t know what an escape room experience entails, it involves being shut in a mysterious room for an hour – and having to make your way out before the clock ends by figuring out the clues. No phones, no 50/50 – just yourself (and your teammates, of course!)

DSC06903clueQuest1clueQuest - Islandbell ReviewNow I don’t want to give too much away (that will totally spoil the fun!) but the challenge we did, The Revenge of the Sheep, revolves around you working to save the world from the evil Professor Blacksheep and his SheepMutator. It’s by far the most high-tech escape room I’ve done so far, and is such a fun way to spend an evening!

It’s also a great way to break the ice with people you don’t know particularly well – you can be sure there won’t be any awkward silences when you’re racing against the clock. I’d met most of the girls from events before, but you learn a lot about a person when you’re stuck in a room with them for an hour (like the fact that Jasiminne eats Heinz soup for breakfast!)

clueQuest - Islandbell ReviewIntrigued? The lovely folks over at clueQuest are offering one UK reader the chance to take a team to try it out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you ever tried an escape room experience? Be sure to comment below, or let me know on TwitterFacebook, or Instagram!

*This post was created in collaboration with clueQuest – all views my own!

Hello, 2016!

It’s the start of a new year, and in a way, I really can’t believe it. 2015 was a bit of a mixed bag for me. The first part of the year was spent dealing with loss – I was constantly stressed or upset, but it actually ended up being incredibly positive. I threw myself into new challenges, like this blog, and into my new job, which I absolutely love – and the last few months have been some of the happiest I’ve had.

Crickets EdibleI’m really, really excited for 2016. I never do new year’s resolutions, as I never stick to them, but I thought I’d write some down for this year. When I was in Cambodia, I ended up trying crickets – something which I never thought I’d ever do, given that I’m not the biggest fan of insects – but you know what? They were absolutely delicious. They had the texture of pork crackling and were seasoned amazingly, and I couldn’t stop myself, they were that good. It was such a nice surprise, and it made me want to try more new things. I want to look back on this post next year and see how far I’ve managed to come along!

Crickets EdibleBe Healthier

I can do better at this. I want to eat more vegetables and do more exercise – just a little bit more. This is achievable, right? Not being able to schedule things in advance became a massive problem for me in the first part of last year, and I’m hoping to be better at making time to make healthier choices (like going to the gym, and packing my own lunch) in 2016.

Crickets EdibleSave Money

I need to save a bit more. It’s always challenging, as I’ve got family all over the place, and I will always prioritise spending the airfare and seeing them over saving – I need to get the balance right.

CricketsBlog More

I’m always so jealous of people that seem to be able to blog consistently while still having a full-time job. I want to be blogging a lot more in 2016.

Say No More

This might seem a bit odd on this list but last year I said ‘yes’ to absolutely everything. Parts of it were fun – but then there were some weeks where I was at a blogger event every night, for something totally irrelevant. I need to start taking a step back and stop saying ‘yes’ to every single invite I get.

How about you? Do you have any new years resolutions this year? Be sure to comment below! 

Christmas with John Lewis

We are two weeks into December and I am feeling the heat.

That might have something to do with the fact that I’m currently writing this up from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where it is currently 30 degrees! While I am having the most awesome time swimming, relaxing and going for massages, I’m not feeling particularly festive right this second.

John Lewis Christmas: Christmas WreathsHowever, this wasn’t the case two weeks ago when I headed down to The Proud Archivist, to celebrate with the reigning champions of all things Christmas, John Lewis!

John Lewis has always been a firm favourite in my family – our go-to for birthday gifts, anniversary presents, and the Oxford Street cafe is a frequent meeting point when we’re in town.

John Lewis Christmas: NutcrackerWhen it comes to Christmas, John Lewis seem to kill it, every year. The fact that the release of their Christmas ads every year is now (basically) a sacred tradition really tells you something about how they have nailed Christmas.

I was so stoked to get the invite to their Christmas event, particularly as I knew I’d be missing all the usual Christmassy treats this year, due to the heat. Mulled wine in 30 degree heat? I’d rather a sangria, thank you very much.

John Lewis Christmas: Wrapping, Decorations, NutcrackerJohn Lewis Christmas: Mulled WineLuckily, the John Lewis team had me covered on the mulled wine front – in shot form!

I had high expectations for the event, and they were definitely met – the team had decorated the room amazingly (check out the giant nutcracker!). I was definitely feeling extremely festive, with all the edible Christmas treats, holiday tunes and all the free-flowing prosecco!

The evening was filled with crafting. The other bloggers made some seriously amazing things, and I was extremely envious of their skills! I can’t say I’m particularly skilled in that area, but I gave it a good go – and I was really happy with my Christmas wreath, which is proudly hung on the door to my flat.

John Lewis Christmas: Christmas WreathsJohn Lewis Christmas: Christmas WreathsJohn Lewis Christmas: Christmas WreathsWe then had a little gift wrapping masterclass. There, I discovered glue dots –  where have they been all my life? That’s where I’ve been going wrong all along, messing about with tape all these years (always too long, too short, or  stuck to something else). You know those annoying people who always give beautifully wrapped gifts? Yeah. THEY USE GLUE DOTS. Do it – it’s the future!

John Lewis Christmas: Gift WrappingJohn Lewis Christmas: Gift WrappingJohn Lewis Christmas: Gift WrappingSome of the others made some really beautiful place settings, and it was just such a nice evening – lovely canapes, great company, and such a festive Christmas vibe!

John Lewis Christmas: CraftsJohn Lewis Christmas: CraftsJohn Lewis Christmas: Crafts and Gift WrappingJohn Lewis Christmas: WshThe whole event really got me excited about crafting, too – I even made my own hand-sewn Christmas decorations with one of their Christmas sewing kits, and it looks amazing! It’s really got me excited, and I’ve now added their sewing machine to my Christmas wishlist. Fingers crossed!

John Lewis Christmas: NutcrackerAs a social media manager, I couldn’t possibly write this post without mentioning the utter legend that has the @JohnLewis handle on Twitter. He’s made a seriously unfortunate coincidence and is really great about it – and he even redirects tweets to the official Twitter handle, too. Legend!

Many thanks to the John Lewis team for having me – I had such a great time, and it’s got me SO excited for Christmas!

Did you like the John Lewis ad this year? Have you done any Christmas crafting? Let me know by commenting below, or let me knowon TwitterFacebook or Instagram!