I’ve been wanting to branch out on my blog for a while now so when I was invited to a bloggers day out at the fab, but often forgotten, Barton Arcade in Manchester I jumped at the chance.

The Barton Arcade sits in the heart of Manchester city centre just off Deansgate and behind St Ann’s Square. I used to work nearby and often mindlessly walked through on my way into the city centre without considering any of the stores inside, so it was great to get a closer look at the Arcade & the stores inside.

The day started with a quick catch up with some of the lovely We Blog Mcr girls, who had also been invited along at the six & flow offices (the days organisers). After a quick chat on all things fashion, food & Manchester we headed off into the arcade armed with our agendas; phones & cameras, ready to capture the days events.

Our first stop off was at the awesome cafe, Pot Kettle Black. Now I knew their coffee was good, as I’d already been several times, and I’m happy to report that their food didn’t disappoint either. We were greeted by the lovely manager, James, who surprised us with a selection of their best selling dishes. Unfortunately, I could only eat one of the three plates as the others all contained meat, but judging by the way this plate went down, I’d say it was by far the best!! So if you head down to PKB at all for brunch (or any time of day for that matter) then you’ll want to order the Blueberry Cheesecake French Toast; just look at the pics below and tell me that doesn’t make you want to head over there and place an order RIGHT NOW.

pot kettle black blueberry cheesecake french toast

blueberry cheesecake french toast

Oh, and not forgetting the other dishes I’ll insert some pics below. The girls assured my they were delicious!

PKB - brunch

pot kettle black - pretzel bun

After filling our boots at PKB we were invited to explore the other independent Boutiques in the Arcade. I’m a huge fan of independent stores and love to pic up something a little different whilst supporting local businesses. If you’re a fan too then make sure you check out the venue; maybe you’ll pick up some luxury boots at Jeffery West or a bargain, like the lovely Holly Goes Lightly, at Jill Black. Or if you’re in the market for a one of a kind holiday then head over to STA Travel.

After a spot of shopping we headed out onto the roof of Barton Arcade to snap some cheeky blogger pics and take in the city centre skyline. They often hold events on the roof of the Arcade including some Yoga classes in the summer; I was super disappointed that we didn’t get chance to take part in a class on the day but I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for the next one.

Back down from the roof we were ready to take on our next plate of food at the impressive Lunya. It’s been a while since I’ve had Tapas food after an early love affair with Dimitri’s in the city centre, so I was excited to try somewhere new. We were treated so well at Lunya, sampling several plates of Tapas as well as a cheeky glass of wine. I chose the hake bites with béchamel sauce (I can’t tell you how tasty these were), the chickpea & apricot tagine and the Sepia Fideuà. I was so impressed with the food that I’ve even added it to my list of places to return with friends!

From here we were whisked away to the pampering section of the day for a blow dry at Too Funky Hair. I’ve passed this hairdressers so many times and often thought about making a booking but haven’t quite got their yet (I’m v.fussy with my hair, as I’m sure most women are). We were greeted with a glass of fizz and a huge smile from the lovely guy who did my hair. He chatted to me about what I wanted and we discussed a sleek, natural blow dry, as it can be difficult to get my hair straight. It was really nice to go into the hairdressers and just relax without the fear of a pair of scissors being taken to my barnet. I was talked through every step of the blow dry & we chatted about all things Manchester, Netflix and blogging. I was super happy with the end result which felt silky all day long!

Finally, feeling like a million dollars, we headed to a super cool cocktail bar in the basement of the arcade called Be At One. Despite walking passed hundreds of times, I’ve never seen (or heard) of the bar before so was excited to try it out. It was so effortlessly cool inside and reminded me of a speakeasy, although highly modernised. Once seated I had the hard task of choosing which cocktail I fancied and after much deliberation went for a passionfruit margarita. The cocktail was well made, if a little strong, and the perfect end to the perfect day. 

We chatted some more until we all had to part ways and head off to our own evening activities with full bellies, bouncy hair and huge smiles on our faces!

Have you been to any of the venues above before? I’d love to find out what you thought in the comments below.

I’d also love to find out what you think of this different style of post. If you love hearing more about Manchester and day trips then let me know. I’m open to broadening my blogging remit and would love to hear your suggestions for my next post.

Banana bread

When life gives you brown bananas, you make banana bread – am I right?

I’m not proud of it but I spent so many years throwing out brown banana’s as I thought they were bad. As soon as they turned ever so slightly brown they would be straight in the bin. That was until I discovered banana bread!

It’s gooey, totally delicious and you feel a bit healthier knowing that it has fruit in (even if it is paired with chocolate!). It’s so simple to make requiring only a handful of ingredients; most of which you probably have in your cupboards already – I know I did.

Now, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, my version isn’t full of sugar, butter & refined flours; it’s actually pretty healthy & if you take out the chocolate chips (if you’re crazy that is!) then you could even have yourself a delicious breakfast snack for on the go.  I wouldn’t recommend it over a nutritious bowl of oats or eggs and avo but it’s perfect for those mornings when you just need to grab something on the go…I wouldn’t judge you (in fact, that’s what I did this morning).

banana bread top

So how did I make this delicious, health(ier) take on your traditional banana bread?

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 ripe bananas
  • 1 1/2 cups traditional oats
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup (or half if you’re feeling indulgent) dark choc chips

How to:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180°
  2. Line a loaf tin with greaseproof paper
  3. Mash bananas in a large bowl
  4. Add maple syrup
  5. Add vanilla essence & stir
  6. Crack eggs into mixture & combine
  7. Grind oats in Nutribullet (or similar) until you can a flour like consistency
  8. Add oats, baking soda & cinnamon into banana mixture & fold
  9. Finally add choc chips & mix
  10. Pour your mixture into tin
  11. Slice some more banana & layer on the top if you’re feeling fancy
  12. Bake for 30-40minutes or until knife comes out clean

It really is that simple – you can’t go wrong!

I’d love to know if you recreate this, so tag me in any images on Instagram or Twitter, or let me know in the comments below. 

Happy baking 

For the past few years Crossfit has been a big part of my life and I’ve loved (nearly) every second of it. I loved pushing my body out of it’s comfort zone; making some great friends, challenging myself at competition level and building some much deserved muscle.

When I started Crossfit I was already in love with fitness but craved something more exciting than squats, deadlifts and bench. I was ready to push my body to the extremes and learn some badass new skills like the amazing Crossfit women I’d been obsessing over in recent months. I was also in a different space to where I am now: I lived in the city centre, had less responsibility at work (and home) and was simply of a younger, dare I say it more selfish, mind-frame.

Lately I’ve been questioning whether Crossfit is for me anymore. Do I love it as much as I used to and will I miss it if I turn my back on the community?

If, like me, you feel like your fitness routine isn’t working for you anymore, it may be time to take a break and reassess your situation. Read more to discover my reasons for wanting to hang up my Nano’s.

To reduce stress

I know it sounds cliche but exercise really is my therapy. I’ve suffered from anxiety for as long as I can remember and often start a workout with the weight of the world on my shoulders. For a long time a Crossfit class was all I needed to focus my mind and let go of all the extra bullshit flying around my head. 

These days, I find that it heightens my anxiety. I’m constantly pitting myself against others at the gym and dwelling on the exercises and weights I struggle to complete; rather than training for the pure love of the sport.

To heal Injuries

I’ve struggled with a shoulder injury for a while now. I ignored the crunching and pain for far too long before it finally came to a head early last year, forcing me to take 6 months off lifting. I went for an MRI scan to get to the root of the problem and undertook several months of physio.

During the 6 months rest, I squatted A LOT, completed the exercises I’d been set by my physio and built up the strength in my shoulder. I’ve been back training for 8 months now, injury free, until last week when my shoulder started to crunch again. So I’m going to learn from my mistakes and take some rest before it gets worse.

Try new things

I’ve been wanted to try some new things for a while now with boxing and SUP yoga at the top of the list but Crossfit has always got in the way. Either due to lack of time from training, or lack of money (Crossfit is expensive!). So during my break I’ll be grabbing my friends and heading down to some local classes to learn some new skills.

If you’re based in Manchester and want to try a new class, check out my article with MagnaPass here.

Save money

Yup, Crossfit isn’t cheap and with my membership going up lately it’s no longer worth the amount of sessions I can make. 

These days, I only go to my gym to take part in Oly lifting programming which generally means training by myself at the back of the gym. Needless to say £80 a month is a bit of a waste when I’m not taking advantage of the coaching, gymnastics and programming. Plus, if I only make one session a week it works out as a £20 visit… you can get a month at Pure for that.

Lose weight 

As a fitness bloggers it’s hard to admit, but I’ve put a bit of weight on lately. My work life has gone crazy and I don’t have as much time as I used to to meal prep; often picking up bite to eat on the run. Stress has also meant that I eat at irregular times and often binge late at night (something I thought I’d recovered from years ago). 

Now, I know that ‘lifting weights doesn’t make you bulky’ but if your nutrition is poor, the muscle sitting underneath your fat will make you look bigger, or at least it does in my case. 

Gain time

I no longer live close to the gym and often sit in traffic after work for 30minutes (it’s a 5min journey). On a weekend, I can complete a workout from home within the same amount of time it takes me to drive to and from the gym… you do the math.

Now, I don’t know about you but I want exercise to be part of my life, not a chore but something I can easily fit into my day and make it a part of my life… and Crossfit doesn’t really fit this criteria at the moment.

So, I’m giving myself a break from Crossfit to see if I can reignite my love for it, or whether it’s simply time to cut ties and move on to the next obsession in my life. Watch this space…

Do you love your fitness routine? I’d love to know in the comments below what you do in order to shake things up in the gym.

Sunrise

T-shirt by Runa X LDN

If you’re anything like me then getting out of bed in the morning is a workout in itself. 

First there’s the mental battle – ‘I’m tired’, ‘just 5 more mins’ ‘I’ll just go to the gym after work instead’. Then comes the physical battle when you’re body feels weak, heavy and uncooperative.

More often than not you’ll end up sleeping in, telling yourself you will go to the gym after work, only to find that by the end of the day you’ve talked yourself out of the hard-core evening workout you were adamant you’d commit to this morning. 

So how do you motivate yourself to get out of bed? Read on to find out.

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walking for health

I’m not ashamed to admit it – I love walking. Now it might not be the coolest thing in the world but bear with me a minute.

Up until a few years ago walking was one of two things for me. A necessity or a bore. The thought of going for a long walk around the countryside was not at the top of my to do list and I would much rather be beasting it out at the gym, or having an afternoon drinking session with my friends. Fast forward three years though and what’s changed?

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