Shirts for dayssss

I’m writing this from the depths of my duvets and many many blankets, because, seriously, Winter is Coming. It is so freakin’ cold, guys! I’m wearing so many socks I can’t even walk so I’ll be staying in bed for the foreseeable future. Netflix, here I come. (Also I don’t have any food so I’m going to resort to eating my lip balm unless I can convince somebody else to bring me food… do you think Dominoes will deliver to my bedroom?)

With increasing fear of the cold weather which is approaching oh so rapidly, I’ve been trying to bulk up my wardrobe appropriately. I own a coat now, which is something I’ve never done before (I’m such an adult – and also so toasty warm – coats are amazing, I want more), and I’ve also been trying to add some long sleeve items as well as items which I can easily layer with other clothing. To this end, I’ve totally fallen in love with patterned shirts. They layer with everything, go great with jeans (my go-to A/W wear) and there are so many patterns and styles available. It’s a good staple wardrobe for the lazy fashionista. Just to save you a job, (I’m the best) I’ve picked out some lovely shirts to brighten up your wardrobe and save you from the frostbite in the coming months. Button up, kids.

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The best thing about a see through shirt is that everybody can see how tanned I still am from Turkey… I’M KIDDING. The best thing about it is that you can easily layer under and over it with a camisole and a cardigan in the day time, and then maybe swap to a bandeau or a crop top for nights out. Twice the wear out of these gorgeous sheer tops!

1: Mango, £34.99 2: Asos, £22 3: H&M, £12.99 4: Asos, £36 Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 05.00.11 pm

Apparently leopard print is a thing again? You can bet I’m celebrating. Remember when leopard print used to be sort of tacky? Maybe that was just all the 90s sitcoms I used to watch but I am so happy it seems to be making a come back! (That blue shirt in the middle is made of silk by the way – so luxurious. Now I own a coat I feel like the next step is to own something made of silk, right?)

1: Dorothy Perkins, £15.40 2: Topshop, £42 3: H&M, £29.99 4: Topshop £38 1

Yeah, wasn’t kidding when I said I was loving the leopard print! I’ve also found more ‘vintagey’ (as if that’s a word) prints cropping up everywhere this season. I like the subtler ones, like number 2, above, and I especially like that if you do buy vintage from a vintage clothes shop, this style of shirt can easily be tucked in, so even if it’s a little oversized, you don’t have to look like you’re wearing your dad’s old shirts (Although I did actually rock this look in my early teens…)

1: Asos, £36 2: Asos, £25 3: Asos, £28 4: Asos, £26 Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 05.00.11 pm copy

I just love the variety of patterns and designs that all fall under this one easy style. It’s also a pretty style that’s going to last a good number of winters (and maybe summers for that little pink palm tree number), and that’s why I think that even the pricier shirts in this list would be worth the investment. And If the weather carries on like this, anything with long sleeves could turn into your favourite investment yet!

1: New Look, £17 2: Topshop, £38 3: New Look, £8 4: Dorothy Perkins, £18

Now.. which one do I choose?!

Hope you’ve also been inspired to protect yourself from the harsh and vicious winter with some gorgeous patterned shirts!

PV x

Honestly?

In answer to the question ‘how are you?’ I don’t think that I have ever, in my nineteen years of long, long life, said anything other than ‘I’m fine, thanks’.

I think this is truly a British thing. Even if I am incandescently happy, or even if I’m feeling like I’m at my lowest point, I am forced, by the unspoken laws of civil and polite behaviour, to assure the enquirer that ‘I’m fine’, and thus absolve them from any further social niceties on the subject of my wellbeing. Honestly, if ever asked somebody how they were and they said ‘I’m amazing!’ or ‘I’m having the worst day of my life’, or even ‘I’m good’, or ‘I’m okay’, or basically anything other than the accepted, familiar ‘I’m fine’, I would be all like ‘excuse me! How selfish of you. Can’t you see I’m totally disinterested in how you are and I’m only asking because greetings are awkward and because I’ve already said ‘hello’ and I like your shoes’ and ‘how are you’ was all that I had left in my arsenal of greetings, stop sharing your feelings with me.’

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^(a suitably moody picture)

Obviously, I am truly interested in how my friends and family really are, but if I’m serving you at work and you tell me you’re anything other than ‘fine’, I will certainly make a point to give you your change in pennies and claim we had no other coins. ;)

This being said, I feel like it’s time for some real talk. Sometimes, we’re not fine. I think that the good old British stoicism in all of us means that a lot of the time we just press on through and try and ignore the problems until our brains start bleeding through our noses (if the problem you’re ignoring is a poison gas explosion), or until we burn ourselves out, run ourselves down or just plain make ourselves unhappy (if the problems you’re ignoring are causing you stress, anxiety, emotional or even physical pain.)

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In case you doubt my ability to ignore, hide or otherwise run from my problems, I woke up today with a huge red swelling on my left cheekbone and my right temple, as if I had literally punched myself in the face in the middle of the night. I thought for a couple of seconds about how it was maybe a terrible allergic reaction, or the symptoms of some horrible disease. And then I slapped on some concealer and went about my day. Well, friends, as many of you will have learned, concealer only goes so far. I was rudely reminded of the terrible disfiguration I had attempted to ignore when, walking cheerfully into work, ready to declare to anybody who might ask that I was ‘fine, thanks’, I was instead met with the horrified face of our chef asking ‘Georgi, what is wrong with your face?!’. Um, rude.

‘Oh don’t worry, I think I’m dying of yellow fever but I put on some concealer and I haven’t even thought about my uncomfortable deformity for at least two hours so I’m pretty sure it will go away soon‘.

The point being, some problems can be ignored, and others have to be faced. Even if you tell other people you’re fine just because you don’t want to discuss your marital problems with your barista, or because your acquaintance from the gym doesn’t need to hear your medical history, it’s important not to lie to yourself.

Of course, I know all this is pretty easy to write in a blog post, and pretty difficult to do in practice. So this is where the main point of my blog post comes in… It’s okay to ask for help.

We actually had a flyer pasted up in our flat kitchen in my first year of uni which said just that. It appeared mysteriously after a particularly weird night of partying, and we all suspected our more reserved flatmates of sticking it up and judging us severely for our antics. But now, I think that it’s actually a pretty helpful piece of advice.

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^ It’s hiding on the left of the picture

The next time someone (who you know and trust) really asks you how you are – try being honest. You might feel completely overwhelmed, stressed out, or unsure about a situation. While you could struggle on by yourself, ignore the problem, or burn yourself out trying to solve it, why not ask for help? You wouldn’t break your back lifting a slab of marble just because you were too embarrassed to get a friend to lend a hand. (Okay, that was a ridiculous metaphor, why would you be lifting a slab of marble?! Maybe for a particularly ambitious home decor project?! But where would you be lifting it to?) But you get my point. Nobody expects you to do this stuff by yourself, and the first step to getting help is to be honest about your situation! Even if that’s the only step you feel able to take, being honest means that the people who want to support you will have an idea of where to start.

And of course, if you’re happy, you should shout it from the rooftops! Nothing wrong with sharing what an amazing day you’re having, or how happy you are about your chocolate milkshake.

Quote - Kurt Vonnegut

And that’s all I have to say about that. (Which turned out to be quite a lot, I hope you found it insightful, or helpful, or interesting, or that you at least chuckled at that cartoon of the dog. That one cracks me up every time.)

Guys, today has been a pretty good day. Honestly.

How about you?

PV x

Cauliflower Pizza Base (with super fancy toppings)

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Guess who’s back!

Okay, okay, it’s only been about four days, but I’ve been so busy with work and University that I feel like it’s been way longer. While I do enjoy being this busy (I’ve never been one for twiddling my thumbs…) it’s nice to have some down time and the luxury to do things like turn the oven on for the first time since I’ve moved in (awkward) and also use intriguing ingredients like thyme and goat’s cheese. How fancy.

As you may know (because I complain about it all the time ;) ), I don’t eat gluten nowadays, which means that I can’t have regular bread, pizza or any of that good stuff. Boo :( I’ve been rooting around (mainly on Pinterest) to find edible alternatives to my favourite dishes, and these two recipes caught my eye (links here and here). They’re for a pizza base made from cauliflower (what?!) and the awesome idea of using goat’s cheese, apple, caramelised onions and honey as a pizza topping (um, yummy!). I set out to put the two together and I’m pretty pleased with how it turned out!

If you also fancy a yummy treat, you will need the following ingredients:

IMG_7716For the base – Half a head of cauliflower, Parmesan cheese (approx. 250g), 1 egg, 1 clove of garlic, mixed herbsIMG_7726For the topping – 1/2 an onion, 1 apple (I used a Pink Lady because they’re my fave), soft goats cheese, thyme, honey and a few teaspoons of butter (or a butter substitute for cooking the onions such as coconut oil)IMG_7720uFirst, get to work on your cauliflower ‘dough’ by using a cheese grater or a food processor to blitz one cup (approximately one third to one half of a head) of cauliflower to pieces about the size of grains of rice. Decant into a bowl and microwave for five to eight minutes.

While it’s in the microwave, get started on your topping by slicing half an onion and one apple into the thinnest slices you can manage (be careful of your fingers!), then crush one clove of garlic, crack and beat your egg and grate your parmesan cheese so you’re all ready to go. Also remember to turn on your oven (you’ll need it preheated to 200 degrees or gas mark 6).

IMG_7729 IMG_7732Once the microwave’s done, mix your cooked cauliflower with your egg, cheese, garlic, salt and mixed herbs so you have a thick paste or ‘dough’.

Now you can go ahead and start shaping your pizza! Use a greased tray or cookie sheet and spread out the dough to a diameter of about 9 inches (I don’t think I made mine big enough and it didn’t cook exactly the way I would have liked – I think a very thin, even layer of dough is the best option). Place it in the preheated oven to cook for ten to fifteen minutes (keep your eye on it!)

As soon as the pizza base is cooking, start heating two teaspoons of butter (or your butter substitute) in a medium sized pan. Once it’s nice and hot, add the thinly sliced onions, and after frying for a minute or so, turn the heat right down, stirring occasionally, and making sure the onions are coated in the butter. This is basically a lazy way to caramelise onions without burning your house down, and they turn out great! Leave the onions on a low heat until the pizza is almost cooked, and then you can optionally add some apple slices into the pan to soften. I tried this out, and they were tasty but I much preferred the crunch and freshness of the uncooked slices, so I think I’d skip this step next time.

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Once your base is browned (maybe a little more than mine, I think mine was a little too thick and therefore a tiny bit too doughy), remove it from the oven, take the onions off the heat, and assemble your toppings. You can do the toppings any way you want, but I chose to add the cheese and the onions and then whack it back in the oven for five minutes just to let the cheese get good and melty. Once that was done, I added a few sprigs of thyme and the fresh apple slices, and then topped it all off with a drizzle of honey which definitely made all the flavours pop. Nom nom nom.

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I really hope you get to try this recipe out, it’s super nice and actually much easier than it sounds for a pretty complex set of ingredients.

Enjoy!

PV x

Happy Days : Harry Potter World photos!

I recently got to visit the Harry Potter studio tour for the second time, and it was awesome! I really wanted to share some pictures of the day, it’s a truly amazing place for Harry Potter fans, and such a fun tour with all sorts of interactive elements (I got to fly a broom and it was the best thing ever!)

I went with a group of friends to celebrate a twenty first birthday and although I guess the tour is set up for kids, there were huge numbers of adults and teenagers enjoying it too. There’s so much to see and experience, and absolutely no reason to pass up a chance to ride the Knight Bus ;)

IMG_7380 IMG_7392 10704089_10152449640209069_9041825221561008832_n 10670107_10152449640939069_1384404892733809223_nAbi and I, attired in our full Quidditch strip (of course) met with our friends Kati, Emily and Ellie and drove to Hertfordshire, the home of studio sound stages ‘J’ and ‘K’, where much of Harry Potter was filmed, and which have been preserved to form the main space where the tour takes place. The Great Hall is the first stop on the tour, and because it was Kati’s special day she got to open the doors! (with the other nine year olds, hehe)

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The Great Hall is incredible! Everything from the York flagstones on the floors to the hand painted murals and hand chiseled crests is exactly as you would imagine the interior of Hogwarts to be. It’s just so cool to actually walk through the hall and notice the crazy amounts of detail put into every element.

In fact, there’s a crazy amount of detail put into every single prop which was used throughout the films. After the great hall, you can browse a huge number of the interior sets; from the Gryffindor common room to Umbridge’s office, and, my personal favourite, some of the original entrances to the Minisitry of Magic and the terrifying ‘Magic is Might’ monument.  I also loved the display of costumes made for the Beauxbaton girls in the Goblet of Fire, and also a rack of Harry’s costumes showing identical outfits in four stages of ‘dirtiness’ for when Harry does all of his running around and getting dust on him.

IMG_7414 IMG_7415 IMG_7426IMG_7430We saw Dumbledore’s office (so cool!) and the Potions classroom, and then got to ride on broomsticks in front of a green screen so it made it look like we were actually flying. I had waaaay too much fun, and we even got a picture in the Weasley’s flying car and got to drive it – or at least, we made Abi drive it and we all sat in the back and complained about the sat nav – much like our journey to the studio that morning ;)

IMG_7466IMG_7417 IMG_7420 IMG_7423We headed outside to explore the bigger sets and props (Privet drive! Loads of people kept taking picture with number 3 instead of number 4… losers ;) ) and then into the costume room to explore all the creepy prosthetics and the fully automated buckbeak with hand crafted feathers and a little face that moves and everything!

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Finally, we got to explore Diagon Alley (it’s huge and so detailed and amazing!) and then a massive model of Hogwarts Castle (used to film some arial shots) which is just the coolest thing ever. (I know I’ve said that a lot, but… it was all the coolest thing ever) <3

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All that was left was to try not to spend our life savings in the gift shop (we spent a longggg time wand shopping!) and then had some snacks before heading home. It was the best day ever and just as good second time around. I would definitely recommend a visit, and if you’ve already visited, visit again (if only for the Quidditch experience, that thing is priceless!) Ha, hope these pictures were interesting for you, you can see how much we enjoyed our day and I hope they inspire you to check it our for yourselves.

Love, PV x

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Photos by me or the lovely Ellie Saunders (with kind permission)

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25/52 – Portobello Road Market

Am I the only person who wants to burst into that song from ‘Bedknobs and Broomsticks’ every time I hear the phrase ‘Portobello Rd’?

Anything and everything a chap can unload, is sold by the barrel down old Po-o-or-to-be-e-llo Road

Beautiful.

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Anyway, I did head down to the famous market on Saturday and I wasn’t disappointed. Even though the Market has become saturated with tourists, it’s probably still possible to get your hands on anything and everything, if you’re prepared to spend long enough sorting through the seriously huge amount of stuff on offer in the various shops, stalls and pop-ups which line Portobello Road.

The market proper is easy to find from any nearby tube station (I arrived into Ladbroke Grove), and Saturday is by far the busiest and best day to go. Selling everything from antiques, jewellery, curiosities, hot food, fruit and veg, vintage clothes and retro furniture, it can certainly seem overwhelming at first, but it’s so fun to just let yourself wander in and out of all of the stalls and get lost in the covered market areas – which appear to be just one shop, but open up into a rabbit warren of tiny stalls and stands!

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I wasn’t looking for anything in particular – and it’s fair to say that you have to poke through a good amount of trash to find any treasure – but I did fall in love with a pair of hideous siamese cat ornaments and a gorgeous silver miniature charm. You’ll be glad to hear that I resisted both, and pressed on through the completely packed market to find a small art gallery. The gallery, which appeared to be a temporary space, was filled with some really cool pieces and although I’m no art buff, I was so happy to find such an unexpected display to explore.

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Further on, at the North Kensington end of Portobello Road, there are some pretty, eclectic cafés, and also a fantastic selection of ‘vintage’ (ie. old and in need of lots of love and possibly a professional upholsterer) furniture stores, which I actually loved and I think it would be a great way to collect unusual or retro pieces for your home. I’m definitely planning on shopping here when I have a place of my own, and  it’s the best selection of this kind of second hand furniture which I’ve come across so far.IMG_7556 IMG_7560 IMG_7557 IMG_7563 IMG_7569Overall, I really enjoyed strolling down Portobello Rd and poking through the monumental amount of ‘things’ which are on offer! I can see why the market is so popular, and it’s incredibly interesting to browse, but I have to say that, for me, there was just too much, and it was way too ‘messy’ (does that make sense?) to properly experience the market, and I can’t say that I would rush to go back.

That being said, it’s so cool to experience the famous Portobello Rd, and if you’ve got a free Saturday and an urge to browse through lots of crazy, crappy or cool stuff, it’s for sure worth a visit! (but maybe just the one!) ;)

IMG_7578Love, PV x

Brand New

Maybe it’s the fact that the seasons are changing, or maybe it’s just all the fresh new ‘back to school’ vibes I always get from September, but I am so full of inspiration for all things bright and new this month. 

I have become a little obsessed with Pinterest lately and spend most of my time at work* daydreaming about the bold prints, textures and colour schemes which I am discovering and obsessively ‘pinning’ to be used in my room, in my wardrobe, and even in my future house. That’s the good thing about Pinterest, you can squirrel away inspiration and projects, and then when it’s time to get creative you have a personalised stash of ideas just waiting to come to life.

I’m still obsessed with that gorgeous palm tree image (I don’t know why I love it so much! Strange…) and I’ve gathered some more images which are of a similar bold colour and aesthetic. I might have them printed and group them together as a gallery display, but I’m still deciding on that one – ideas on the back of a postcard please! ;)
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I’ve got the desk in my current bedroom pretty much how I want it, and I’ve kept it really simple. However, that hasn’t stopped me from collecting inspiration for my one-day-dream-office-space! There are so many of these beautiful spaces shared on Pinterest, but here are my absolute favourites. 

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I love the little details which make these spaces seem cohesive, and I am absolutely sure that I want a big, huge desk! All that space for creating and spreading out is invaluable. Finally, I like the idea that you could easily change up these spaces just by swapping around the posters, and reorganising the bits and pieces on the desk itself, because that lovely bright white is so neutral and adaptable. Perfect if you, like me, are constantly changing your mind! 

Finally, a few bits and pieces I found myself pinning this week which are not really to do with room decor or organisation at all!

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More Palm tree inspo! I don’t know what it is about these two pieces which caught my eye, but I think that they are both so, so pretty. Isn’t it funny how some things look so gorgeous to the eyes of one person, while they probably don’t look like anything special to someone else! These two are right up my aesthetic alley, and I bet I could DIY that jumper, right? :)

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All over the fresh ‘n wild vibes right now. That salad just looks like a dream – I have been eating so much salad lately but mine are never this colourful! And something which you might actually be surprised to learn about me (given how much I love Netflix and my bed) is that I really, really love the outdoors (I’m just not out there much because I’m always in Starbucks, ha) and this lil’ camping spot looks just about perfect (until it starts raining…)

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The stripes! The composition! The monochrome! So appealing to my eyeballs. And I pinned this quote yesterday – trying to tell Rob something perhaps? Ha!

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Ooosh, Pinterest, look at you with your massively relevant quotes and monochrome typeface! And, these happy surf chicas just make my whole day. That yellow! Be still my heart. 

I hope you’ve had a good ol’ healthy dose of inspiration, bold colours and fresh September feelings!

Sources for all of the above can be found on my Pinterest page (click here), and if you’re not already on Pinterest, you should definitely sign up for daily escapism and ideas for just about anything.

Love, PV x

*Actually, in all honesty, I spend most of my time at work pretending that I only have one arm (just to pass the time).

23/52 – Borough Market

Hidden just beyond London Bridge is one of London’s true little treasures – Borough Market, possibly the capital’s worst kept secret, is frequented by tourists, locals and pedestrians from far and wide finding their way into the market for delicious food, artisan produce, abundant fruit and veg, and a belly full of free samples. 

The covered market is divided into two parts, both open for business and bustling with trade from Wednesday to Saturday all year round. Not quite knowing where to start, and wanting to make the most of (and get our mouths around) everything, Rob and I set ourselves a little challenge, a £20 budget (for both of us, the same we’d probably spend on a lunch or dinner at a restaurant), and set off to sample everything.

You really could sample everything. Show enough interest in cheese or salami (and salami is genuinely one of my primary interests), and before you know it you will have tried every single variant known to man, and eaten pretty much a full lunch. You can choose to scuttle away with all your free salami, but the chances are you will find it too delicious and will purchase a salami to bear home to your flatmates triumphantly.

Rob and I started off with some yummy strawberry samples, and because they were fresh and only £2 a punnet, we quickly made them our first purchase.

Punnet of Strawberries (£2) – Money remaining: £18IMG_7224 IMG_7222

Next up, a stall full of freshly baked focaccia, ciabatta and sourdough breads. I was tempted by the pesto and tomato focaccia, but the plain rosemary loaf was just too tempting and we snagged a huuuge piece for £3. It was delicious.

Rosemary Focaccia (£3) – Money remaining: £15

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The salami stand (of course) caught my eye next and after sampling some delicious ‘alpine Biltong’ (a dried meat snack similar to Jerky), we settled for a wild boar salami – a really nice mellow flavour which even Rob (not usually a lover of that kind of thing) really liked. How exotic! And only £2.50… nom nom nom.

Wild Boar Dried Sausage (£2.50) – Money remaining: £12.50

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After sampling so many cheeses, we found a delicious aged Gruyere and asked for the teeniest tiniest slice they could give us. It set us back £2.50 but it was so worth it. It is so flavourful, I could have gobbled it up straight from the packet (classy, George – classy…) but we’ve saved it to make a flavourful pasta dish with some of the wild boar salami later on.

Aged Gruyere sliver (£2.50) – Money remaining: £10

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We swerved the healthy Wheatgrass (ew?) and instead opted for three juicy nectarines – three for a pound!

Three Nectarines (£1) – Money remaining: £9

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Starting to feel the pinch and craving something sweet (when am I not?) we headed over to a gluten (and dairy) free stall and I selected a super chocolately Rocky Road Brownie. They had a great selection and I ended up choosing a goat’s cheese and red onion gluten free tart as well. It was pricey at £3.50 but gluten free options are often much more expensive, and it was so yummy I reckon it was worth it. 

Rocky Road (£1.50) and Goat’s cheese tart (£3.50) – Money remaining: £4

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Looking out for budget friendly but filling options, we spied some amazing sweet potato fries (at a stand primarily selling scotch eggs, which also looked yummy), and the lady gave us the biggest portion ever! She really stuffed the fries into that tiny packet and we had to eat them up quickly to stop them from spilling everywhere. So satisfying and one of my favourite buys. 

Allll the Sweet Potato Fries (£3) – Money remaining: £1

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With just £1 left, we were considering squeezing an extra 50p into the budget for a ‘sausage on a stick’ because the freshly fried Cumberland sausages looked (and smelt) amazing, but we struck lucky because they had run out of sticks, and gave us a ‘sausage in a cup’ for the discounted price of £1. It was delicious, and left us right on budget.

Cumberland sausage on a stick in a cup (£1) – Money remaining: £0

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We got so much for our money, and brought lots home for our evening meal, and to keep and use for all sorts of things. Rob is still munching away on his massive piece of focaccia, I’m stocked up with cheese and salami, and we’ve also discovered the best place for sweet potato fries! My rocky road brownie disappeared pretty sharpish, but the nectarines and strawberries will last me for a couple of breakfasts. Borough Market is so fun to explore and I would so recommend going in with a bit of cash in your pocket and seeing just how much bang you can get for your buck. It’s a total wonderland, and with everything looking so delicious, you really really can’t go wrong.

PV, x