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Explore Your World

Explore Your World

We live in a beautiful world that sometimes we don’t get to see enough of. It can be daunting where to start with many options available! It is time to EXPLORE

I love to explore and hope to share all of my favourite spots to encourage you to explore the world around you. Home or away, I will tell you my top spots!

Things to do:

Reviews of restaurants, things to do, places to visit and sights to see.

Brunch, lunch, dinner? I’ve got you covered! I will share reviews of my favourite places to save you the stress of searching yourself.

Travel

Make the most of the precious days you have off my using my easy guides to destinations to make your life stress free.

I will always be honest and open with all of my opinions to ensure that when you read a review you are getting the honest information to inform your decisions.

Explore Your World

Stress-Free Guide To Bali | Bali in 12 days? | Explore Indonesia

Abigail Charlesworth Cyntra Charlesworth

In short, YES.

My Guide To Bali + The Gili’s

Bali, one of the most popular destinations for our Aussie and Kiwi counterparts is starting to make headlines here in the UK. A paradise island, which offers all the wonder and mystery of Southeast Asia culture intertwined with modern influences.

Many of us who are limited to the usual 28 days annual leave, may see Indonesia, as a destination that would only be available to someone who is traveling. However, I have created this stress-free guide to getting some of the highlights of Bali and surrounding islands in just 12 days. Timed right – you could include bank holidays – ensuring that your precious annual leave is still intact for other explorations.

Indonesia, Bali and the islands have so much to offer that you could spend weeks here – but I have created a small succinct trip to indulge your wanderlust but leave you wanting more.

Gravity Hotel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

I can’t cover everything but here are my top places if you escape the city to Paradise for 12 days.

Indonesia in 12 days

  • 2 days Bali
  • 2 days Gili Air
  • 3 days Gili T
  • 2 days Nusa Lembongan
  • 2 days Bali

How to get there from the UK?

You can get there in about 18 hours and pretty stress-free if you use the right travel company. I went BA via Qatar Airways and true to form it was stress-free, great service and reasonable.

What to wear?

Click here for my list of what to pack for Bali & the Islands


Bali: Uluwatu

Uluwatu is the perfect location to start your expedition to Bali. It is often hard to decide where you want to base yourself, as there are so many places to choose from. Away from the popular and often overcrowded areas of Seminyak and Kuta; Uluwatu is a Paradise to begin your trip. Well known for its waves and cliff side views – I could not have asked for a more beautiful place to start.

You can easily get to wherever you want to visit via a driver. Ubud is an hour away by taxi, Seminyak is 40 mins and you can easily get to other destinations.

Gravity Hotel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Amazing surf and tranquillity – this is the ideal location to ease into your trip and forget the Jet Lag.

Where I visited:

Ubud

Monkey temple

Zen hideaway Swing

Getting there:

An easy transfer from the airport. It is about 45minutes from Ngurah Rai International Airport

Where to stay:

Gravity

This eco-boutique resort is one of Bali’s best-kept secrets, offering a stunning hilltop resort with the most beautiful sea views and although we only got to enjoy two nights here, it was one of my favourite hotels of the trip.

The location is peaceful and tranquil. The view from the infinity pool is breathtaking. The staff are kind, sweet and helpful and the facilities are great. By the pool, there are bar areas serving up cocktails, juices and ice cold fruit infused water all day long.

The rooms are beautiful. They have a canopy style bed and gorgeous outdoor bathrooms. The breakfast is wonderful with options to suit all. My favourite hotel on my trip to Bali.


Gili Air Travel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Gili Air

Gili Air Travel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Where I visited:

Coffee and thyme – Most mornings you would find me here sipping on excellent coffee washed down with their incredible menu – an absolute must (plus wifi)

Watch a Sunrise

Pachamama – Organic cafe nestled just off the main walkway around the outskirts of the island

Scallywags – for supper

Gili Air Cooking School – book in for an Indonesian immersive cooking lesson with the wonderful team.

Yoga – Start or end the day with a sea view yoga class at Mandala Blue

Gili Air Travel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Where to stay:

Stay at Coco Lodge for the best view of the sunrise

Ardi Beltza Bungalows – Amazing staff and close to the end of the night Reggae bars and north side of the island

Getting There

Boat prices vary but when we booked it was around 7500000 IDR. This took us Bali – Gili Air – Gili T – Nusa Lembongan – Bali

Gili Air Travel Bali Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Little Tips

Everything is walkable or get a bike

There are better swings around the island rather than the Instagram favourite you may need to queue for

Top of the boat to any destination as it gets dark and muggy below


Gili T

Underwater Statue Gili Meno Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

What I did:

Boat trip to go Snorkelling, see the Turtles, Underwater statue and Coral reefs

Sunset Horse Riding at 5 pm along the beach

Yoga

Favourite Eats:

The Banyan Tree brunch is an absolute must when on the island – especially if you have been to a beach party the day before.

Casa Vintage – Head to the rooftop cafe to reset, unwind and have a delicious smoothie or bite to eat

Gili T CynCity Cyntra Charlesworth Travelling Gilis

Where to stay:

Wilson’s

A beautiful lodging slightly off the beaten track right on the beach. Gili T doesn’t have a bedtime, therefore, it was nice to escape the hustle and retreat back to this divine boutique hotel.

The rooms are exquisite with outdoor bathrooms. The beds are incredible and perfect to catch up on snoozes from all the activities in the day.

The staff are welcoming and go above and beyond every day with a smile.

Their breakfast (which is included) is one of the best I had in Indonesia – served with fruit, coffee, and even Eggs Benedict.

Guide To Bali

Gili T CynCity Cyntra Charlesworth Travelling Gilis


Nusa Lembongan

Green Gardens Nusa Lembongan Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

What I did:

Rented a scooter to explore Nusa Lembongan and neighbouring Nusa Ceningan (which is connected by a bridge)

Head to the Blue Lagoon and Mangrove Forest

Book a boat trip to Manta Point through Big Fish Diving and even head to one of their educational talks or yoga events on their onsite hostel

Go Surfing

Nusa Lembongan Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Favourite Eats:

The Deck – for all breakfast, lunch and fabulous cocktails.

Ketut Warung – the BEST Thai in Indo – it is notoriously hard to find but if you can this hidden gem you are in for one treat. Known well by locals and dive masters – be prepared for the best food and to meet amazing people.

Green Gardens brunch is one of the best and leaves you feeling totally nourished for your days ahead

Lemongrass Bar for dinner and live music

Green Gardens Nusa Lembongan Cyncity Cyntra Charlesworth

Where to stay:

There are a variety of options depending on your time and vibe on the island.

When you arrive on the boat you have sea view villas for luxury or if you head inland more cottage style relax vibes for those who want some R&R on this beautiful island.

I stayed at Lembongan Villas which has one of the most incredible views right from their infinity pool. Beautiful villas spread up the cliffs to give you the best views of the ocean. Incredible staff and the perfect place to relax after a long day exploring.

Guide To Bali


Seminyak

KU DE TA bali cyncity cyntra charlesworth Guide To Bali

Where to stay:

Vila Kay’s Raja – Beautiful Villas just a short way out of the hustle of Seminyak. Each villa comes with its own indoor pool – perfect for a dip after a long day in the busy centre.

Seminyak places to stay cyncity cyntra charlesworth

The beds are perfection and each room comes with a shower and a bath. There is a wide variety to choose for breakfast, which is delivered straight to your room in the morning.

Where to eat:

KU DE TA bali cyncity cyntra charlesworth Guide To Bali

Ku de ta – A perfect spot for lunch. There is a variety of healthful and delicious items on the menu while taking in the ocean view. Let the soundtrack ease you into the day while taking in the views. I highly recommend their cerviche!

Potato Head – Head here for the beach club vibe. Amazing views of the sunset, epic late night parties and excellent supper.

Going out:

By far my favourite night on Bali main island started at Motel Mexicola and finished at La Favéla.

The vibe in Mexicola is fun – with drinks in hand while dancing on the tables it is the perfect way to begin your evening. The Spanish influence will have your body moving and the energy is incredible. You can also stop here for supper – just ask one of the staff to find you a table and sit back and enjoy some Mexican treats.

Guide To Bali


Things to remember:

Do’s

  • Be respectful at all times.
  • Bring a torch – this is invaluable on Gili’s.
  • Bring first aid kit, toothpaste, and toiletries for the islands – it is expensive otherwise.
  • Get a massage – I really did not get enough.
  • Do try all the activities
  • DO TAKE EAR PLUGS. This is a land of dogs barking and cockerels… that trust me…not not rise with the sun.
  • Do barter – you can do it – do it with a smile and be fair.
  • Leave your Western, Busy Schedule, Fast paced lifestyle and creature comforts behind and come with an open mind.

Don’t

  • Get angry. Like most Asian countries you must save face and never lose your cool. If a situation gets difficult just smile and walks away.
  • Spirits… buy a litre of spirit at duty-free and just stick to the beers.
  • Do not be afraid to sit and enjoy the wonderful welcomeness of these people and how they are willing to share the food from their table, the drinks from their kitchen and question you about your life.

Indulge and Love Every Moment


bali swing Abigail Charlesworth Cyntra Charlesworth Guide To Bali

bali swing

Explore Your World/ Work to Play Style

Stress-Free Guide Colorado | What to Wear In Colorado In Winter

What to wear in Colorado

What to wear in Colorado

Stress-Free Guide of what to wear in Colorado:

Colorado is one of those beautiful areas in the World to visit. Surrounded by 54 snowy peaks, the Rocky mountains, are a haven for skiers, hikers and those who love the great outdoors.

The weather in Colorado is mixed, which can often make it difficult to know what to pack if you haven’t been before. With this in mind, I thought I would pull together a small list of things to bring when visiting Colorado.

what to wear in colorado


Layers

Colorado is cold but the sun does shine. You can be met with below freezing temperatures at nights, icy winds but also glorious sunshine. With this in mind – take layers. It gives you the flexibility to add and subtract as necessary to fit the temperatures throughout the day.

what to wear in colorado

I found these incredible Thermal Set from Amazon which kept the body temperature balanced and simple and stylish enough to go with most outfits.


Accessories

Hats, Scarves, Shades and Gloves. You can save space in your suitcase by varying up your accessories to transform your outfit without having to over pack.

what to wear in colorado

As it is a cold area, your suitcase will fill up quickly with coats, sweaters and ski-wear – so mix up your outfits by changing the accessories to breathe life into each new outfit.

Shades are a must with the bright sun reflecting off the snow. It may be freezing but you will still need protection.


Sweaters

Day + night – sweaters are the way forward. Bring a couple of smart and casual ones to suit.

The restaurant and bars are smart casual therefore dressing suitably for après ski is advisable.

I filled my suitcase with this white thick knits from Miss Pap and Topshop.

Pair it with jeans, leggings or chinos depending on the occasion and you’re good to go.

what to wear in colorado


Evening Wear

In Europe, you will quite often meet people on an evening out still in their ski wear. This is a no-no in Colorado.

what to wear in colorado

With beautiful restaurants and bars – people dress for dinner. Casual sweaters, nice jeans, ankle boots or heels are the appropriate attire when heading to the towns for supper and drinks. If there is not too much snow you can even wear heeled boots if you really want to dress up.


Footwear

Hiking boots: Surrounded by such beautiful trails – you will want to get out for a hike. Make sure you bring appropriate walking boots – preferably those that are waterproof in order that if you are walking through the snow you don’t get wet feet.

what to wear in colorado

Heels: When heading out to the restaurants or bars you may want to wear heels with your outfit. I took a pair of heeled ankle boots. The ground is not icy or snowy, therefore, you are not at risk of slipping over.

Boots: A simple pair of boots its ideal to take for any occasion. I took this pair from HM which go with any outfit.

Socks: You can never have enough socks here. Warm toastie socks for back at your chalet spares in case yours get wet, and then the usual you will need for the above footwear.

what to wear in colorado


I hope this guide helps packing stress free and easy when planning your trip to the Rocky’s!

Live and travel without the burden of worry

Explore Your World

Stress-Free Guide To The Philippines | Find The Secrets

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

 

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

The Philippines

Mabuhay Philippines! …Intoxicatingly stunning, if you have the opportunity this is a land you must explore.

The Philippines is made up of over 7000 and is the largest producer of coconuts in the world. If you’re looking for your next wanderlust experience put this high up on your priorities.

Funnily enough, it is the 5th largest English speaking country in the world; so if you’re worried about a translation barrier do not fret. These are also some of the most politest people you will come across…and will refer to you as ‘sir’ or ‘maam’ (like The Queen).

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

I had an incredible experience there and I thought I would share some of my favourite bits to help you when planning your trip. I can’t cover all 7,000 islands but here is my top places if you escape the city to Paradise for two weeks.

Boracay:

I have mixed reviews about Boracay. It is one of the most popular destinations in the Philippines. Loved for its white sandy beaches, nightlife and sea. However, if you are not careful you can end up in tourist trap hell. Lots of parties, tourists, crap overpriced food and in general Magaluf but south side of the equator.

However, this island does have some hidden gems…You just have to find them. You can do what we did and go off the beaten track and enjoy a real hidden treat in the more north part of the island. A slice of paradise away from the noise.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

Getting there:

Boracay is a tiny island, so you will need to get a connecting flight from Manilla to Kalibo Airport, which is located further away than Caticlan Airport. You then have to take a bus for 2 hours and then take a ferry to the island.

Where to stay: 

Bilianghay Beach Resort

We booked the Rock house. Incredible. You have your own private beach away from the noise and your room is over looking the ocean. You can order a bottle of Filipino rum when you arrive. I recommend sitting in your living room and getting over the jet lag slowly sipping with juice.

The people

People may have their negative thoughts on Boracay, but the people are just incredible. I landed on NYE and went for a stroll with my friend just outside of the hotel… we bumped into this crowd below… who invited us to drink, eat, join and be merry to celebrate the New Year.

An absolutely unforgettable moment having travelled 18 hours, 3 connecting flights, a two hour bus ride, a ferry and a taxi. This experience was unforgettable.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

Sangat: island

If you want a secluded diving holiday in the Philippines that brings mind blowing wreck diving and sumptuous reef diving to your doorstep then look no further.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

The tiny island of Sangat lies on the north of Coron Bay in Palawan and is your gateway to a Philippines diving and snorkelling adventure.

Not only that it is a paradise for some secluded time with your partner or friends to really lap up Paradise.

For all the snorkellers out there; they have their own reef abundant in gorgeous fish and live coral life.

Philippines Diving CynCity Cyntra in the city

Take a canoe and paddle around to dive the wrecks from WW2 – honestly it is incredible.

The place is run by a family who are lovely if they are on the island to meet. Get to know the staff. Enjoy the pool tables. Remember the cocktails are delicious but you will run up a tab!

Where to stay:

Sangat Island Dive Resort

There are a number of different types of rooms from your own villa to private beach chalets. I opted for the beach side chalets as waking up to the ocean every morning was incredible.

Getting there: 

There are a number of different ways to get there. We organised a fast boat with the island management as it really didn’t cost that much.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

Island hopping:

As I said there are over 7000 islands to explore; and finding the right ones may sometimes be best left up to the locals. We choose to go on a 7 day private expedition. No phones, no frills, no wifi… just pure off the beaten track experience.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

We tasted the most ‘masarap’ (delicious) food, witnessed the most incredible sunsets and stars and swap in oceans that are only imaginable if you have seen Life of Pi.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

Your chef will take you to gather fresh ingredients from the islands to cook healthy meals of seafood and whatever else you find, ensuring a constant flow of tropical treats and icy beers from the kitchen.

We slept on beaches and lived by the rise of the sun. It was one of the most memorable and humbling experiences of my life.

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

The camps are on beaches with jungle trails to trek to the other wild beaches. windswept cliffs and hidden caves. The islands are encompassed by crystal blue waters, snorkelling the preserved reefs teaming with life.

Where to Book:

Tao Philippines

And make sure no matter WHAT you visit the secret Coron Lagoon.

Things to remember;

Do’s

  • Be respectful at all times – Click to read more
  • Exchange pounds to us dollars. In the more rural areas you will find it hard to find places that exchange pounds, especially if the bank is shut.
  • The ATM run out of money quickly so do always have spare cash.
  • Take plenty of mozzie spray and other first aid. It is expensive and hard to come by in the more rural parts of the islands.
  • Take all your basics – shampoo/ soap etc – it is expensive.
  • The Filipinos are by nature very friendly people. Smile. A reciprocal friendliness will get you the best friends one can ever find in the world.
  • Do not turn down food, and if you do not like it, try and hide it as much as possible. If I am able to do it when trying a Balut… you can.
  • DO TAKE EAR PLUGS. This is a land of dogs barking and cockerels… that trust me…not not rise with the sun
  • Leave your Western, Busy Schedule, Fast paced lifestyle and creature comforts behind and come with an open mind.

Don’t

  • Get angry. Like most asian countries you must save face and never lose your cool. If a situation gets difficult just smile and walk away.
  • Eat a Balut… just don’t.
  • Go to the islands marked as unsafe. Kidnapping is a real danger but totally unavoidable if you stay in the right areas.
  • Do not walk alone
  • Don’t be flashy. Leave your best bits for home.
  • Do not be afraid to sit and enjoy the wonderful welcomeness of these people and how they are willing to share the food from their table, the drinks from their kitchen and question you about your life.

Indulge and love every moment

CynCity Cyntra in the city Philippines

Explore Your World

Stress-Free Guide to Cuba | Havana

Guide to Havana CubaThinking about travelling to Cuba?

Here is my little guide to the places I visited.

My hints and tips. All the things I wish I knew before I went.

I hope you enjoy and if you have any further questions please don’t hesitate to ask.


Learn Spanish

This is a big one – people don’t always speak English.


Flight

First and foremost this is a biggy. There are not many flights that go directly to Cuba. This may improve over time now the country is opening up.

However, that said – make sure you get the direct flight from London. We did the split going via Spain. Not only was it like stepping back in time on the plane (no personal screens) but it is a LONG flight. It may be more expensive but trust me it’s important.

Airport

You are not going anywhere quick.

Havana airport is renowned for being one of the slowest airports in the world. It is disorganised, chaotic and slow. You will be waiting for your bags a long time. If you are travelling with a tour operator they are well versed in this delay but if you are booking your own onward travel please keep this in mind. Bring a book – there is NO 3G and NO WIFI.

Taxis

There are lots of taxis waiting and available from the airport. Don’t be scared to haggle the price. They know you have just landed. If you can get a classic car I would highly recommend.


Accommodation

This is up to you how you do this. Some things to consider… There is no beach in the city, the closest beach to Habana is about 20 minutes away, at Playa del Este. There are daily shuttles, I think for 3CUC/day.

With this in mind if you are a beach bae then I would try and book a hotel with a pool for the first couple of days to get over the jet lag before moving on to a casa.

I stayed at NH Capri La Habana

Nestled in the heart of downtown, rooftop pool, great views and in a cool area.

If you are staying in Havana for a while I would highly recommend you seek out a casa to stay in. Effectively these are B&B’s where the hosts generally look after you. They cook, clean, feed and water you. It’s an amazing way to immerse yourself in Cuban culture, meet Cubans and also help the community. This way you are helping the locals out.

Here are some great recommendations: Best Casas in Havana 


What to wear?

Key pieces:

Trainers:

I wore Adidas Superstar.Havana is a casual place but also a place you want to explore. The roads are cobbled, the streets full of life. You want a trainer that looks stylish yet is practical for allowing to you to get stuck in.

Shorts:

This is the perfect climate for shorts. The Cubans are lively and bold dressers so don’t be afraid to go with colour. It’s not widely conservative – so you can wear what you would wear at home. Females are warned though – be careful if alone – you will get attention. My American Apparel shorts were a godsend. Chic and comfy.

Tops:

Short, long, flowy – anything goes. Play with colours and be vibrant. Its hot during the day but there is a cool wind at night so bring a light sweater or scarf.

Accessories:

Think hippy and creative. This town is full of colour and art. Be part of the creativity.

Bags:

Bring bags with lots of pockets. This is still a foreign country and you are a tourist. There are a lot of opportunists in this world.

This is a cool, casual, artistic and vibrant part of the world. Like most Caribbean islands it’s full of life. In the evening for dinner its casual with a little elegance if you feel.


What to see?

Havana is a historical and political hotspot to explore.

Cuba Direct was our tour operator as we only had a limited time there. We had a bespoke private tour and saw the whole of Cuba from the comfort of an old American car. If you are short on time then a tour is the way forward otherwise have a look around when you get there.


Top Visits

Hemingway House

Old Havana

El Malecon

Havana Catedral

Plaza de la Revolucion

El Cristo de La Habana


Places to Eat

Something you will work out quite early on is that when you buy food out – its well erm ok.

Their avocados though are off the fricking chain!

The best food you will have is cooked by Cubans in their Casa’s

Here is one of the restaurants I will recommend in Havana Old Town.

Good food – peaceful atmosphere – good price.

Watch the prices in Havana Old Town – they are expensive.

Coppelia

This is a must visit Havana’s Coppelia building is one of the largest ice cream parlours in the world. Holding 1000 guests, it is located on the part of Calle 23 known as La Rampa in the Vedado district.

Fidel Castro had it built to bring Ice Cream to Cuba but also rival the Americans in Ice Cream production.

Its a weird looking building but in a really cool area where loads of Cubans hang out so it’s nice to get away from the tourist humm that will drive you nuts in Old Town Havana

La Rampa

where the Coppelia is located in a cool area.

It has the big hotels that once were booming in the 50s and also the old Mafia hotel (you cannot miss it)
It is also the home to one of the best Jazz Clubs I have been too.

Head to the British Telephone Box and head down the stairs.

YOU HAVE TO EXPERIENCED CUBAN MUSIC!

Enjoy


Keeping Healthy

Cuba is not a health hot spot in the world. A lot of the food is high carb, fried and meaty. It’s not the best place for vegetarians.

A lot of the cocktails have a spoonful of sugars added.

With this in mind think outside the box.

Havana Old Town is a nice walk away from most places – so opt for walking rather than cabs.

Try and top on veggies and fruit where possible.
You will often find vegetables come in a sauce – so in your best Spanish try and ask for them plain.

Swim, walk, run, and get active.

You don’t want to restrict your enjoyment but remember there is a Yin to every Yang – so balance it out.


Cuba is a wonderful place and will be ever changing now they are becoming open to the world.

Try and get there before it loses all its original value.


Words of warning

Do not buy cigars from anywhere other than state-run shops. You may think you’re getting a deal but you’re not they are fake and you do not know what is in them. You will meet sweet Cubans who have a friend, or know someone who can get them cheap, or will tell you about a national day where they are cheaper…unfortunately it is all lies. Sorry – but stick to the rules if you want cigars.


For More Stress-Free Travel Guides Click Here: Travel

Explore Your World

Review: The Retreat Kitchen, Richmond

The Retreat Cafe Richmond Cyncity

A Delicious Vegan Brunch Spot nestled in the heart of Richmond – The Retreat Kitchen.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

The Retreat Kitchen

Nestled in the quaint streets of Richmond you will find The Retreat Kitchen. This earth loving cafe, which opened in February, is run by duo Maggie and Claire. Maggie & Claire were on a BBC programme called The Retreat with DIY SOS’s Nick Knowles (now on Netflix if you want to watch it!) hey went to Thailand for a

They went to Thailand for a 28-day detox retreat and had their lives transformed. Prior to heading to the retreat, they were both burnt out.

The girls returned with a new lease of life. They wanted to spread the vegan love back in the UK. They launched The Retreat Kitchen to bring tasty plant based dishes straight to you.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

“For us a plant based diet wasn’t about giving up meat, it was about taking up eating a wider variety of vegetables and putting in the time and effort to make them stand out. ” – Maggie

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

Healthy Smoothies

Their menu boasts a plethora of tasty coffees, juicy juices and smoothies for every occasion. The girls recommend the Green Giant smoothie to reduce tiredness, fatigue and maintain healthy skin – exactly what you need after a long weekend.

Green Giant: Spinach, Kale, Banana, Mango, Kiwi, Apple, Spirulina, Chlorella, Wheatgrass, Barley Grass. 

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

Vegan Breakfast

Enough about the smoothies… let’s get down to BREAKFAST!

As you all know, Brunch is my favourite meal of the day, with that in mind, I took ordering very seriously.

To start, we tucked into an English Breakfast Muffin (Spinach, Mushroom, Avocado and Vegan Hollandaise). Having never tried Vegan hollandaise I was pleasantly surprised and somewhat bewildered how they had managed to create such a delicious alternative. Zesty and fresh, I would recommend just to try the hollandaise.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

Vegan Brunch

After mange-ing our way through our v-eggs benedict, we were presented with the Brunch Plate (Scrambled tofu, homemade beans, vegan sausage, tomato, mushrooms, hash brown and Sourdough).

Hands down one of the best veggie sausages I have tasted which paired beautifully with the homemade smokey beans! Delicious.

This vibrant plate really brings food alive!

Still not 100% convinced by the scrambled tofu (however my brunch date loved them) #eggsaremyfavouritefood – this tasty Brunch really hit the spot.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

Pancake Stack

BUT and this is a big BUTT if you are going to have one thing on this menu… The Fresh Fruit Berry Pancake Stack with berries, coconut yoghurt and maple syrup is THE ONE.

Presented beautifully and with a little pot of maple syrup on the side.

This pancake stack needs to be served with a PG13 sticker… as it is naughty!

Ah the indulgence and flavour, the levels melted in your mouth. The fresh coconut ice cream paired perfectly with the berries and compote.

After making the people on the next table feel very uncomfortable from my excitement at every mouthful, I wandered up to the counter to chat with the girls and peruse their array of cakes.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity   The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

Tasty vegan sweet and savouries to take on the go.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

After picking up a delicious Polenta and Orange Cake I decided to get one last treat… a tasty black americano.

Roasted to perfection due to the delicious beans from Old Spike Coffee. 

The perfect finish to an earth loving morning.

The Retreat Kitchen Richmond Cyncity

You can find The Retreat Kitchen at;
16 Hill Rise, Richmond TW10 6UA
Open Mon – Sun until 5pm!

Explore Your World

Made of Dough: Pop Up to Peckham

Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Abigail Charlesworth

Made of dough Cocktails inside Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Sexy B*tches Eat Pizza

Peckham’s Bellenden Road has opened its doors to a brand new pizza joint, Made of Dough. Originating from Pop Brixton, Made of Dough, have gone from strength to strength and have climbed up to claim the title of London Pizza Champions! With slick branding and sexy slogan – these boys are tantalising the taste buds of South Londoners one slice at a time.

Their Neopolitan-style pizzas are made with dough that is fermented over sixty hours, topped with carefully sourced produce and local meats from the local butcher, Flock and Herd. Carefully curated and deliciously made – this should definitely feature on your summer hit list.

Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Made of Dough: Highlights from the Menu

The doors were opened last weekend and the word about the popular pizza place is spreading fast. There may be a small queue when you arrive, but you will be seated in no time, with one of their sumptuous cocktails in hand.

The menu invites you in, with small bites, sides and dips (which are a must). The Scotch Bonnet Romesco packs a punch for those who like the spice of life, while the basil aioli is perfect for dipping the leftover crusts.

But let’s face it, we are not here to talk about dips… what we knead (gettit) to know is about the Pizza!

With over 6 to choose from… here are my personal faves!

Truffle Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Truffle

Delicious! Hands down my fav. The Burrata is decadently creamy and melts in the mouth with its freshness. The mushrooms are flavoursome but not overpowering and marry together perfectly with the truffle oil. This is a great alternative for those who fancy a change from a traditional tomato base.

Margarita Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Margarita

Simple – just like a pizza should be. But do not mistake its simplicity for lack of flavour. The San Marzano tomatoes intertwined with the Fior di latte is mouth watering. A light drizzle of olive oil and the finish of basil – for traditionalists – this one is for you.

Serrano Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Serrano

The fresh wild rocket is a colourful pop to the eyes while the succulent serrano ham delivers with flavour. Not overpowering like some cured meat pizzas can be – this pizza was a crowd pleaser.

sexy bitches eat Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Sweet Tooth

Not usually a fan of a dessert, my bae Donna, dragged me straight towards the sweets, to indulge in the Motherf*cking Peanut Butter Shake. Note – the founders are not foul mouthed young men but this decadent dessert carved its name from its main ingredient: Jackpot Motherf*cking Peanut Butter.

And its motherf**cking good!

Cocktails inside Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

Atmosphere

Think dining alfresco with a hint of Soho House and a side order of chill – this is the perfect spot for friends, family or date night.

The cocktails are a must – these boys really know their stuff – with Amalfi inspired bellinis, fruity twists on Espresso Martinis and a classic favourite Aperol Spritz.

If you like your wine see if one of the founders, Ed, is in the joint – he will be able to talk you through their wine list with expertise. If you like your red – try the Chaval.

Cocktails Pizza Made of Dough Peckham Cyntra Charlesworth Cyncity

 

Final Thoughts

All in all – a 10/10 experience to be enjoyed by all. If you happen to be nearby at lunchtime, you can get a margarita special for just £5! Also, every Monday is half price on all bottles – #winner.

Note: If you’re gluten free – there are plenty of sides to choose from however there is no option available currently. 

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Chotto Matte: London Brunch with a Twist

Asado De Tira beef short rib, asparagus, purple potato, teriyaki jus Pollo den miso chicken miso, carrot, daikon, yellow chili salsa Sake sautéed broccoli

Cyntra Charlesworth, Cyncity, cyntra, blogger, london

Brunch: The Most Important Meal on the Weekend

It is a beautiful thing brunch. It brings together your friends over food and the latest gossip. Dishes are served that could either be breakfast or lunch (variety is the spice of life) and it is completely acceptable to start the day with Bubbles! Always a win in my eyes.

If you feel like you have been to the best brunch spots in London, have had enough, and in fact are bored of Turkish Baked Eggs, Quail Egg Benedict or The Funky Full English places have to offer – then keep reading as this is a brunch that is NOT to be missed.

Experience flavours like no other and discover London’s newest brunch spot!

Chotto Matte

Chotto Matte came to Frith Street in late 2013 by the curator of Ping Pong dim sum chain, Kurt Zdesar. A fusion of Japanese and Peruvian, chotto matte became an established favourite of celebrities, rock stars and footballers alike. I reviewed when they Chotto Matte first opened and was slightly apprehensive 4 years down the line to see if their standards were still as impeccable… and my goodness they are!

Open on Saturdays and Sundays for £50 a head which includes a set menu, a cocktail and half a bottle of prosecco. You are spoiled with drinks, dishes and devilish flavours throughout your sitting and leaves you incredibly satiated in a slightly, dare I say it, healthy way!

Anyway enough of my opinion – let’s look at the dishes!

P.s. would highly recommend trying their Pisco Sour

Chotto Matte Brunch sea bass sashimi, sweet potato, Peruvian corn, coriander, chive oil, leche de Tigre

CEVICHE

The first dish to accompany our cocktails was sea bass sashimi, sweet potato, Peruvian corn, coriander, chive oil, leche de Tigre.

I bloody love ceviche and this one is high up there with the best ceviche I have had in London. Carefully seasoned, the flavours married together well and left you wanting more.

Maguro tuna Hotategai scallop Sake salmon Hamachi yellowtail Suzuki seabass

SUSHI

A platter of sushi followed the Ceviche. Delicious, fresh and tasty – as sushi should be. The tuna in particularly pleasant and the drizzle of truffle oil tantalised your taste buds. Flavoursome but not over powering.

Nikkei Sepia calamari, aji Amarillo emulsion

TEMPURA

Nikkei Sepia calamari with a naji Amarillo emulsion. I have NEVER tasted tempura calamari that has been done to this standard. It was crispy without being fatty. The calamari tasted great with no chewiness or stringiness. A peppery flavour set alive with the lime. Yum!

Asado De Tira beef short rib, asparagus, purple potato, teriyaki jus Pollo den miso chicken miso, carrot, daikon, yellow chili salsa Sake sautéed broccoli

ROBATA

Next to come out was our trio of mains. Now at this point, I was feeling slightly stuffed. If you get full quickly – pace yourself – the food keeps coming and just gets even more enticing to tuck in!Asado De Tira beef short rib, asparagus, purple potato, teriyaki jus Pollo den miso chicken miso, carrot, daikon, yellow

Asado De Tira beef short rib, asparagus, purple potato, teriyaki jus – This was pleasant, I was totally blown away but my girlfriends said it was delicious and I was being fussy – #guilty #perhaps

Pollo den miso chicken miso, carrot, daikon, yellow chilli salsa – this is the plate on the left. Totally mouth watering with a hint of spice – INDULGE – Don’t tell your friends, say it is awful, run and hide the dish and devour – absolutely yummy.

Sake sautéed broccoli – Well, because you have to eat your greens!

Chocolate pot Mango mochi balls Passion fruit brûlée

DESSERT

And for those of you with a sweet tooth – don’t worry they haven’t forgotten about you! My naughty little friends skipped off when I was distracted and told the waiters it was my birthday…somewhere along the way my name got lost in translation!

Served with a song and a beautiful candle we finished off our brunch with a Chocolate pot, Mango mochi balls and Passion fruit brûlée.

Final thoughts

If you are looking for an original spot to indulge with friends this is the one for you.

You can find the restaurant here nestled in the heart of Soho

Chotto Matte
11-13 Frith Street
Soho
London
W1D4RB

Explore Your World

Top Secrets to an Effortless Weekend

After a hard week in the office it is a blessing to get to the weekend. Two days and three nights that are yours to do with as you wish. However, do you ever feel when monday has come around that you haven’t had a weekend? That you haven’t caught up on sleep and in fact you’re more tired than you were last friday?

Many of us are guilty of filling our weekend to the brim with high expectations to pack in as much as possible into the valuable free time we have. Drinks here, cooking there, late nights, lie ins, eating out, food shopping, running around town and we get to Sunday evening and feel exhausted!

Its time to take your weekend back and follow these simple life hacks to make your weekend as effortless as possible.


Get Organised

Finding your room in a state, all your letters un-opened, none of your washing done and your house un-tidy is not a nice way to start the weekend. Often than not you will leave these tasks to Sunday – the ultimate day of rest – and then you will find yourself rushing around to get this done before the week begins.

Stop. Get organised.

Set yourself 45 minutes each day of the week to put a wash on, order that food shop online, tidy a room (or book a cleaner) and change your bedding to free up more time on the weekend. Washing can take hours if left to pile up so do a bit each day to make sure you are on top of this by the weekend. A clean and tidy environment enables you to truly relax and put those feet up for a rest!


Outsource your Breakfast

Its the weekend! You have spent the week making breakfast, packing those lunches and cooking meals its time to treat yourself. Get out the house and meet friends for brunch. Take your loved one out or your housemate and let someone else do all the hard work.

Brunch is great as it means you can have a few hours extra in bed and effectively cram two meals in one! Saving money and saving time. Breakfast and brunch food is great too! There is nothing like sinking your teeth into Eggs Florentine, Chorizo on Avo Toast or getting continental with a Crepe.

All of these when attempted at home can sometimes lead to a disaster, mess and effort. Why not whatsapp a few friends and check out these amazing and reasonable brunch places this weekend and sit back and let it be done for you.

Cafe Fleur: Nestled in Wandsworth this beautiful cafe is the perfect stop. The owner is delightful and the food is abundant. Take a short walk to Wandsworth Common to walk it off or head to Putney for some shopping after brunch.
Recommend: Avo Toast with Chorizo and Poached Eggs!

La Petite Bretagne: New and situated a short walk from Clapham Common this beautiful french crêperie delights the senses with their Gluten Free and Wheat Free Crepes. Coming in both Savoury and Sweet there is a crepe to suit everyones taste. Nearby you have the big open space of Clapham Common to rest and walk and lap (if there is any) some rays on sunshine while you digest.
Recommend: Paimpol with a side of the SuperSalad


Sleep and Rest

FOMO (fear of missing out) can play a huge part in exhaustion.

Long gone are the weekends of empty days. These days your weekend diary seems to mimic your work diary but instead of calls and meetings its: Parties here, bbq’s there, Weddings, Hen Doos, House Warming, Festivals and Birthdays.

Sometimes you have to take your time back. Yes you may miss the odd sausage or glass of vino but sometimes R&R is just what you need.

Have a bath, Read a Book, Catch up on whatever is your current Netflix fix and slip into those pyjamas and get that nine hours of un-disturbed sleep that will give you the energy boost you deserve.


Visit markets

Towns and cities have a wealth of different markets open on the weekend. From antiques, car boots, thrifts stores food and wine and cheese there is a market for everyone.

Markets are great as you can ignite your senses, try new things, sample lots of treats and often come home tired from all the walking and with a bag full of treats to sample that evening.

Rarely there are stressful queues like in Supermarkets. You get to try before you by and is a fun day out for all. It is an excellent way of trying new brands you may have never seen in the shops and means you can do your part to support the independent shops of your area.

There are so many to choose from… check out your local community blog or paper to find out whats on. Where I live in South London we are privileged with so many to choose from: Brixton Markets, Clapham Market, Herne Hill, Lordship Lane, Peckham and beyond!

Check it out and make a day of strolling around and getting out of the house without busting the purse strings or getting stressed in crowds.


Boost your health

Running around in the week sometimes by the weekend your health has taken a battering. Work dinners out on, late meetings fuelled by coffee and sugary snacks when running from call to meeting can really make you feel rubbish.

Start the weekend by investing some time in you. Get those healthy proteins, fruits and veggies loaded up in order that you fuelled up for that week ahead.

I know Green Smoothies really do get a lot of jip but they really are great for you. Loaded with all things green (which sometimes we neglect) can really boost those vitamin levels.

My Favourite Recipe:
Spinach
Kale
Cucumber
Mint
Ginger
Lemon
Lean Protein (Neat Nutrition)
Coconut Water (Jax Coco)

Blend together with a ton of ice and it tastes magnificent. Perfect if you need something to tide you over before brunch!


These are my secrets to an effortless weekend… what are yours? Would love to hear your hacks for a stress free weekend which re-balances you ready for work.