Cottonopolis

A long Bank Holiday weekend positively begs to be celebrated with a good brunch.

With a friend’s birthday to celebrate and 5 girlfriends all miraculously free on the same day at the same time; we had arranged to meet at Cottonopolis in the Northern Quarter for a date that would combine a birthday brunch with the judge-less opportunity to get ridiculously drunk before noon.

Having only been to Cottonopolis previously for their remarkable sushi; I was excited to experience their take on the most important meal of the day. In a city where you can’t swing a sourdough without getting it slathered in avocado, I was hungry to try something with a little innovation and a bit more naughty that your average acai bowl.

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The restaurant itself is achingly cool; glowing lightbulbs, exposed brick, draped fabrics – all the usual suspects; but with an edge that makes this otherwise standard opulence in a grade II setting deliciously unique.

We ordered up quite the spread of food. To start (…oh yes, there were starters); the entire ‘snack’ menu.

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Beef and Quail Egg Nigiri

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Pork and Kimchi Dumplings

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Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Maki Roll

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Tomato and Bacon Skewers

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Sweet Potato and Sesame Hash Browns

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I could comment on each one individually, but honestly? Each description would be the same.

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A remarkable firework of flavour, every single one. A divine twist on sushi favourites and classic brunch bites.

At £5 a pop, I highly recommend giving each one a whirl; they’re also the perfect option if you’re someone looking for a lighter bite.

 

If our starters were the definition of a spread, the mains were somewhat of a banquet.

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Of course there are the fail-safes of Avocado Toast and Salmon and Eggs to appease the less adventurous; but on this particular day, bellies lined with courage from a mimosa (or three) we all opted for something a little more luxurious.

Steak and Eggs

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Steak, cooked perfectly pink; served over mushrooms atop sourdough with the most gloriously crispy fried eggs, dotted with chives.

Crispy Duck Leg with Waffle and Fried Duck Egg

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A true sight to behold, ridiculously photogenic and eye-rollingly tasty. Cut a sizeable forkful of duck (and be sure to get some crispy skin on there), a chunk of waffle and dip into the sunshine yellow yolk for a divine journey to flavour town.

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If my own plate hadn’t been so heavenly, I might have just been jealous.

Speaking of which…

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Wagyu Brisket and Poached Egg Crumpet

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Whilst perhaps not the prettiest of plates; these little doughy stacks of dreams were a melting pot of rich, savoury goodness; the wagyu beef succulent, tender and almost sweet whilst the crumpets sank deliciously, heavy with flavour. The hollandaise and yolk comprising a wonderful marriage to add extra luxuriousness.

We devoured the lot, satisfied with our efforts to stuff ourselves silly and feeling blessed that we could slip into a Sunday food coma with no fear of becoming subject to the dreaded Smonday feels.

As you can probably gather, I highly recommend a trip to Cottonopolis. While I fully advocate you try them out for an unforgettable date night; their brunch is seriously something special and not one to be missed.

They get busy quickly, so book and arrive early to get as much enjoyment out of the bottomless brunch as physically possible!

What a way to spend the weekend!

Tariff and Dale

Manchester in the sunshine is simply glorious.

Smiles are more rife than hay fever, wool coats which were worn just last week are replaced with loose linen and camisoles and restaurants open their bi-folding windowed doors, allowing life to spill onto the streets in a deliciously “summer fete” fashion.

I was working away one Friday when my phone pinged with a message from one of my dearest friends.

“Weather is too good to work! Can you meet for lunch?”

Normally when working I have some concoction ready and waiting in tuppawear to wolf down when I have a moment; but Sacha was right, it seemed EVERYONE had given up working for the day that late afternoon; and since my tuppawear had been unceremoniously left in my fridge at home and I had not yet gotten around to seeking a replacement, my rumbling tummy wholeheartedly agreed.

I grabbed my bag and dashed out into the Northern Quarter, whose moody streets were now drenched in sunshine and slowly filling with loose-tied, off-the-clock workers who too had decided to take advantage of the arrival of an early Summer.

I met Sacha and Nikki at Tariff and Dale; having only spent evenings drinking good G+T’s and playing bad games of pool there in the past, their menu has always been somewhat of an intrigue, and today seemed as good as any to take it out for a spin.

Drinking in the menu (as well as a thirst-quenching Hendricks), we ordered a veritable feast of everything that caught our eye.

Wild Mushroom Arancini

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Show me the word “Arancini” and I am quite literally powerless to resist. Stuffed with mozzarella, chimichurri and crowned with rocket above a bed of homemade pesto; its outer coating crackles with golden crunch, perfectly sealing a rich, gooey centre. 3 per portion, it’s a handsome plateful for just 6 squidly and rivals against many bonafide Italian’s in Manchester.
A classic Margarita pizza on sourdough base.
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Can we just take a moment?
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For a place with such a diverse menu, we didn’t expect great shakes (or slices) from T & D, mediocre at best or maybe even Pizza Express standard; imagine our pleased as punch faces when this little miracle arrived, cooked till Neapolitan perfection, unable to hold its own and dripping with all manners of cheese.
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A dreamy concoction which received moans of approval from three of Manchester’s most critical pizza snobs and a total steal at just £8 (go on a Friday lunchtime and you can enjoy unlimited slices of the stuff for £9!)
And last, but certainly not least, the Fish Board.
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Smoked Mackerel Pate, Haddock Fish Fingers, Smoked Salmon & Caper Berries, Buttermilk Marinated Squid
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A harmonious symphony of fresh fish and a glorious combination of flavours and textures. Crisp chewy bites of squid; silky portions of smoked salmon and divine crunches of fish fingers which uncovered the fluffy white flakes of haddock.
At £18 per board, I found this a little overpriced for the portion size, but I suppose fairly accurate of the cost of fresh fish in Manchester. Combining this along with our two other dishes, the bill was remarkably reasonable – making us question why we shouldn’t be lunching this way on a more weekly basis.
Manchester gets a handful of summer days at best, so I hope you’re able not to waste a moment when the sun decides to present its happy self. This city and its towns are brimming with opportunities for you to uncover, so if you find anywhere (almost) too good to share, please let me know!

WOOD

Thursdays are the new Fridays; or at least that’s what I tell myself as I blow my fringe upward away from my newly glistening forehead – the result of which is from seeing JUST HOW MUCH the bill has come to after my friend Dariane and I dine at WOOD on a Thursday evening.

Because what other excuse could there be for spending over £55 per head for two courses and a pair of G&T’s?

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Wood has been on my agenda ever since I heard word of its arrival following my Masterchef obsession circa 2015. A brief tease of the original menu sold me completely, as I waited for the perfect occasion to excitedly embrace a reservation.

Whilst there’s no shortage of fine dining restaurants in Manchester, there’s something about WOOD which combines homely-ness with sheer luxurious opulence. A far cry from Bunny Jackson’s Juke Joint situated next door, WOOD is worlds away from the norm and excels in a warm welcome.

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Sinking into our buttery soft, leather booth; the friendly staff buzzed around us, tending to our every need; taking our coats, detailing the menu and fixed us with a handsomely large gin, (the most important of the lot arguably).

Before ordering, we were presented with two perfectly plump buns of freshly baked bread. Still warm from the oven, the soft bites were simply heavenly when combined with the same ratio of salted butter to bread.

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Having poured over the menu previously that day; we eagerly placed our orders and awaited excellence.

To start, Wild Mushroom Raviolo cooked with sage, chestnuts and pangrattato.

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Texturally pleasing; the rich, flavourful filling was hugged by soft, slippery bites of its pasta case and crisped by a crowning crumb. A simple concept, executed marvellously, I’d have gladly eaten a trough of it.

Beef Carpaccio, which seems to be off the menu presently; regardless, it was a total delight and masterfully presented.

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On to mains, neither of us could resist the Halibut and neither of us could quite bring ourselves to share, and for very good reason.

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The most spectacular dish.

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A perfectly cooked fillet of halibut, lay atop a bed of tender stem broccoli. Smoked mussels dance around the plate, led by the enticing crunch of sweet pistachio nuts, all of which is bathed lightly in an outstanding jus-esque cream sauce.

So rich but so delicate, a show-stealer and day-maker.

We were coaxed into a side of Woodland Salad – which did it’s job providing extra greenery, but was no supporting role to this dish.

Whilst I had no desire for dessert, Dariane settled upon the Yorkshire Rhubarb and White Chocolate pudding .

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A fanfare of flavours and artistically built plate. Refreshing, sumptuous and sweet.

When it comes to fine dining, this ever-growing field seems to have new establishments popping up like mushrooms overnight; alas WOOD is a restaurant which I believe will grow and flourish with the city.

We have been spoilt somewhat in recent years, as talent increases; the opportunity to dine out lavishly is more obtainable at a more cost effective price. Dining venues such as Mackie Mayor, whilst not necessarily the same experience or quality, but arguably flavour and value mean that we’re able to get a taste of innovative and exciting dishes without worrying whether our card might get declined.

This being said, I feel WOOD should most definitely be experienced by all, while personally it might not be in the price bracket I feel most comfortable in; there is no denying the craftsmanship nor the excellence behind the dishes and those which create, cook and serve them.

If you do decide to indulge, book here, and be sure to tell me how you get on. Trust me, you wood’nt want to miss it.

*Interior photos taken from google (I was so immersed in the food I totally forgot to take them myself).

 

 

 

 

Flower Cup

Spring is sure as heck taking it’s time before it decides to present it’s blooming lovely self.

But until then, I’ve found the sweetest of spots, positively bursting with botanical delights and floral decor to satisfy your appetite for Spring, but the best part of this oasis? It also dishes up a bangin’ brekkie.

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Stepping in from the down and out weather with its uncertain temperatures and grizzly grey clouds; Flower Cup is every bit as adorable as it sounds and is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Greenery flurries itself from every nook and cranny of the cafe; succulents poised dramatically in the shop front, enticing passersby in to take a closer look.

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We found ourselves a sweet spot, and immediately ordered up some necessities.

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Taking our time to mull over the offerings, the menu is every bit as colourful as the neons that decorate the space (and the ladies that work there – sidenote: Jess, our waitress was an absolute Aussie delight).

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The coffee is handcrafted and intensely satisfyingly.

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The brunch menu is a veritable feast of classics gone rogue with colour and charm as the starring roles.

Needless to say we were both mighty chuffed with our selections.

The Flower Cup Breakfast for J.

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Crispy rashers of bacon, fried egg, Sriracha beans, tomatoes, avocado and a wedge of raggedly cut  toast.

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Wedge on that!

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Crisp on that!!!!

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A superior upgrade on your average Full English, the rich, silky avocado comprised with crisp bites of salty bacon – a complete and utter joy of a mouthful when drizzled with the nectar of the sunshine yellow yolk.

For me, the Breakfast Tacos.

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Soft Shell Tacos stuffed with crispy fried egg, chunky mouthfuls of halloumi, a peppery handful of rocket, fresh, smooth flavours of avocado, a juxtaposition against the zingy kicks of Sriracha Mayo.

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Even Jacob couldn’t resist getting it for the ‘gram.

Two per portion, it’s just the right amount to satisfy your morning growl (although you might be tempted by a little extra somethin’ somethin’ if you’re a greedy girl like me…)

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You’ll find Flower Cup within the walls of Chester; no reservations, but you’d do well to get yourself in as early as possible. Within an hour of opening there were no seats to be had as it quickly becomes the brunch spot for locals and tourists alike.

I absolute adore Chester, if you ever find yourself in this glorious city, be sure to leave yourself with enough time to stroll around the historic Watergate Row level shops, bob in to the breathtaking Cathedral and definitely make sure you stop and smell the roses…or the Spider plant, depending on where you brunch.

Cafe 19

First impressions can be tricky and are often made in haste. But isn’t it quite wonderful when the negative thoughts you had about somewhere turn out to be deliciously wrong?

If you live in Manchester, I’m almost certain you will have passed by Cafe 19. Found on Lever Street, on the very cusp of the Northern Quarter, this eatery-come-bar-come-cafe leaves a lot to be desired from its outer shell.  I had been to the opening and was intrigued by how it had been getting on since it’s launch 12 months ago; a lunch break with one of my best friends seemed like the perfect occasion.

From the outside, Cafe 19 looks a little basic, a little 90s (but more Byker Grove than F.R.I.E.N.D.S), with very little of its personality shining through.

Step over the threshold however and discover a charming nook; with cosy armchairs, spacious booth seating and exposed Edison lightbulbs warming the light, bright, friendly space.

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The menu is simple, but cleverly crafted with a mixture of home comforts and classic lunch-time pleasers. Eager to eat, we placed our orders at the bar and nestled back into our booth to catch up on the latest.

We giggled and gossiped, cutting in between each other’s sentences as though we hadn’t seen each other in years rather than just a week, excited to enjoy an impromptu golden hour of each other’s company.

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In no time at all, our dinner arrived. Cajun Chicken Panini for Em, and for me…

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Something a little more gram-able…

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An open bagel, toasted and smothered generously with fresh, smashed avocado; grilled halloumi and poached eggs. Sun-dried tomatoes and a balsamic reduction danced around the outer rim of the plate for added finesse.

The outcome was sheer perfection. Nothing too challenging admittedly, but executed excellently with extra care taken to enhance the flavours of the core components of the plate.

Should you find yourself in need of some midday sustenance, Cafe 19 is well worth a second look. A relaxed setting with speedy service; no need to book, just show up with an appetite and your bestie and good times are guaranteed.

 

Body Type : Enjoys Pasta

It was a casual Wednesday evening; I was searching my wardrobe for a pair of trousers I knew I didn’t own to go with a shirt I most definitely couldn’t afford, in an attempt to seamlessly and affordably transition my wardrobe for spring and summer. 

After deciding that I did not own the type of clothes I wasn’t even sure that I wanted, and had exhausted all online avenues to try and find the “key pieces” which were going to make up my ultimate capsule wardrobe; (that would save me money in the long term, but initially I’ll probs have to spend £500 getting it just how I like it to then decide that I JUST HAVE TO HAVE that super trendy PVC skirt before realising that PVC was a mistake that I made last year and what on earth had changed in the past 5 months to make me change my mind?)

I digress.

Finding myself in such a situation,  I decided to surrender to my own indecisiveness and let the robots do the work (as ultimately, they would be taking over soon anyway). Logging on to a high street brand’s website – I opted for the “Online Personal Shopper Experience”, and proceeded to answer the questions it gave me. 

Height, hair colour, likes, dislikes – all completely capable questions; until the dreaded:

“What’s your body type?”

I gulped, what was my body type? I had no idea; my previous torments and battles with food and appearance had left me unable to objectively look at my body. My friend Sacha called me an hourglass; when I looked in the mirror I just saw a potato (an organic Maris Piper potato, but still a potato no-less).  

A male acquaintance told me that I was looking good earlier this week, a kind and no doubt sincere compliment, which my brain had immediately scrutinised and translated into meaning the exact opposite; but WHY?

Why, even when we’re complimented, do we believe that they’re is an ulterior motive, a hidden meaning behind the words which dissolve any confidence we may have built up? Why can we not see ourselves as others see us? Why can we only accept that negatives we hear about ourselves but when we receive praise, believe it to have a more sinister or negative underlay? 

It’s a cruel fate that as women, the majority of us will not be happy with what we’ve been given; ignoring our strengths in lieu of our subjected shortcomings.

“My legs aren’t long enough,”

“My tummy sticks out,”

“I hate my upper-arms”

Bullshit.

We must stop defining ourselves by what we aren’t and start celebrating what we are.

Don’t have the slender calves you wish you had? I’ll bet your thicker thighs supports a bum that resembles two perfect scoops of Butter Pecan. Your washboard stomach is probably the envy of many a woman while you’re busy worrying that your bust isn’t big enough. 

My sister has often said that she envies my legs, which, as an avid walker I manage to keep slim and toned with minimal effort; if you scale up however you’ll reach my arse which is all kinds of Kim Kardashian (minus the surgery and American Express Black Card), big and round and almost impossible to fit into a pair of jeans. My sister however, doesn’t see these angsts of mine; only her own. She doesn’t realise she has the most enviable waist and washboard stomach, both of which I would trade my entire stash of Mini Eggs for (if I thought giving them up would make any difference, I would, but it wouldn’t, so I won’t). My point is, we should be celebrating our individuality rather than ignoring these in favour of what we don’t have. 

While self-improvement should never be discouraged, it does you well to be mindful that life would be incredibly boring if we all looked the same, and I’m not just talking about women. 

Now, I can only speak on behalf of myself and my friends; but we’re big fans of the “dad bod”, none of us are arsed about rippling six packs, firm pectorals or defined quads; if you’ve got them – great! If you don’t, who the heck even cares. Love us and feed us because that’s all we really want. 

To define ourselves simply by a body type is both simple and complex; ultimately, the majority of us do fall into a category to help us accentuate our best bits, but that doesn’t mean if you discover yourself to be of Athletic or Pear physique that you’re pigeonholed to that one and only punnet. You could be a pear shape…that can run 5K in less than 25 minutes; you could be athletic…that eats a trough of pasta at least twice a week; an hourglass…that can deadlift 60kg.

I often describe myself now as someone who works out, but enjoys pasta. I am by no means fat, but use my love of food as fuel to push my body to run, lift and dance (badly). So if having a thigh gap or a smaller bum means having to sacrifice eating peanut butter m&m’s in bed with my boyfriend or splitting a tub of Ben and Jerry’s (followed by a chaser of gin) with my best friend after a particularly trying week; well you can keep them…I’d only have to buy new jeans anyway.

You are more than a shape on a child’s learning chart; you have depth and you have beauty which is found not only in the curves of your body, but in the laughter lines on your face, your quick wit and ability to bring a smile to your friend’s lips.

You will have qualities that will be envied by many, if only you could see them yourself. 

That’s why, if, like so many, you have been struggling with self-acceptance recently; if you’ve ever felt like you’ve wanted to change yourself whether it be your shape, or any exterior which goes beyond means of health; I want you to try positive affirmations. 

Start by complimenting yourself; just like you would your friends. Rather than focussing on the parts of yourself you’d like to change, praise the parts you love, both on the exterior and interior.

You only get one body, so quite hating it for what it’s not, and start loving it for what it can do, because while you might not be able to change your natural shape, you can change your attitude and happiness towards it; and happiness is truly one size that fits all.

Fig + Sparrow

Going out for a meal alone is virgin territory for many.

Many feel awkward at the very thought of it; petrified of being seen out on their own, like it’s something to be ashamed or embarrassed of – whereas in reality, it’s a deliciously wonderful experience.

Having travelled around Europe solo last summer, taking myself out for dinner or lunch is something I’m very familiar with and honestly? I absolutely adore it.

There’s something just so calming about choosing exactly where you want to go, listening to your own cravings and finding the perfect spot to nestle in to while away the hours without the influence of anybody else.

A book, or any kind of reading material, is a necessity I feel in order to fully enjoy this act, when you’re first beginning to enjoy this experience anyway. Without one you’ll find it hard to sit back and watch people come and go with ease, and will be more conscious of your own actions and whether people are dissecting them as much as you are.

Should find yourself without plans, or with an hour or two spare in the city of Manchester; consider yourself very lucky indeed. Pick a spot you’ve had an eye on for a while, and go.

I highly recommend Fig + Sparrow.

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The sweetest of spots; grab yourself a table and pull up a cuppa.

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Fig + Sparrow source their loaves from Trove bakery and champion a select few daily, especially for you.

It’s pretty impossible to go wrong with bread (as we previously discovered here), especially when toasted and topped with sliced avocado and chopped walnuts.

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A light glug of olive oil adds an extra layer of decadence to an otherwise ordinary dish.

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Light and yet rich in flavour, simple but extremely comforting.

If you’re bored of the avocado toast movement, go for a sandwich.

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And we ain’t just talking any sandwich.

Pesto, mozzarella and sun-dried tomato on rye.

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Pretty exceptional, especially when paired with your latest page-turner.

Punchy, loud flavours, softened by the chunky mozzarella and chewy bites of bread.

Total satisfaction.

If you do get the chance to indulge in a bit of me-time, I highly recommend you give it a go. Fig + Sparrow have a knack of offering up the calmest of ambiences, the perfect therapy if you’re feeling a little fed up or crave a side of solitude with your sandwich.

Try it, just once. I promise you’ll love it.

Bread is your friend

One of my non-negotiable pleasures in life, is bread.

Ruggedly-cut, doorstop-esque bread, crisp yet fluffy, baked crumpets, artisan breads, homemade breads, heck, even the limp but reliable crunch of a Warburtons Toastie should the mood strike (the latter coincidentally seems unbeatable when it comes to making the classic bacon butty).

Regardless, all of the above should be toasted and loaded with copious amounts of butter, preferably Lurpak; salted, and spread until the yellow nectar turns into glorious golden puddles across the grain.

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Find me someone who doesn’t love a good loaf and I’ll show you a Grade A fibber (or an unfortunate victim of coeliac disease).

In my journey of self-care, allowing myself two slices of toasted Spelt and Rye bread (the best – truly…well, this week anyway), a day, if I wanted it seemed SO radical, SO indulgent that it’s almost laughable to me now. This was a loaf! It wasn’t crack; I didn’t have to shuffle into Tesco with a hat pulled harshly down on my face to purchase a Sunflower and Honey Bloomer discreetly under the table. It was there ready for the taking, it wasn’t a bad thing, and I sure as heck wasn’t going to die from it.

We’ve been led to believe that carbs – specifically bread, is the enemy. You can’t have a beach bod AND a sandwich – don’t be absurd! Abs or avocado toast? I sure hope you said abs! (And I really hope you’re rolling your eyes as heavily as I am right now). The notion that our slimmest-selves cannot exist in the same universe as bread is frankly bullshit.

My most self-destructive state was when I was 24 and an air hostess. It was the perfect opportunity; I was away from my family so there was no one to take notice of how little I was eating. On trips away I would survive on merely a rice cake with a slither of hummus or maybe cornflakes with a splash of red milk if I was feeling flush; working out for hours at a time in the hotel gym or walking the length of the Golden Gate bridge with the promise of a Walgreens salad at the end.

I remember flying home from Jamaica and feeling faint from lack of substance and feeling happy  that I had reached such levels of hunger. I was in control! I was determined! I had a thigh gap! (Go figure).

The reality was, my weight never went below 115 pounds so I was by no means anorexic, but for my 5 foot 5 frame, I looked scrawny and boyish and in no way my natural shape. I put having a flat stomach and space between my thighs above socialising and having fun with my friends.

So many occasions I made excuses for; cinema trips I bailed out of, nights out dancing with friends foregone, feigning lack of funds or tiredness. Any situation which might deter me from my goal was immediately refused.

I wasn’t living, I was merely existing; any excessive eating I did was a ritual which took place once a week in the privacy of my room, eating until I felt sick and then on many occasions, giving my gut a helping hand when I was sure everyone had gone to bed.

It’s a sad state of affairs when we’re sacrificing real-life relationships, a pizza date with the girls, all to show Instagram how hungry we look on a beach.

Because ultimately, that’s what a lot of us want(ed), isn’t it?

We want to upload the “natural” beach shot, that perfectly showcases our thigh gap, maybe a hint of rib – but not too much  -and teeny weeny waistline. All to be greeted with comments of:

“Skinny minnie!”

“Your figure!”

“How do you stay so skinny?!”

We’d shrug modestly; “Don’t be silly!”

The underlying truth: “I’m hungry, skip meals and secretly purge if I eat too much Dairy Milk”.

Instagram is not reality. Trust me.

For the most part, it’s incredibly sad and insecure individuals, looking for validation in a number of likes, or dire reality stars trying to push piss-poor products on easily influenced minds. The rest is hilarious cat videos and your friend’s awesome content, the latter is why I continue to indulge in the platform.

The turning point for me was when a close friend who had been battling with her weight, asked me how I got my thigh gap and I shamelessly told her my secret; “I’ve been skipping lunch every day and running on my break instead.”

When I got in bed that night, the conversation came flooding back to me, and I recoiled at myself for admitting this so freely. What if she took my advice? What if I had given her the leg up she needed into a new-found obsession with this dangerous trend? That’s not who I wanted to be! Despite hating my own body, I LOVED hers and everyone else’s.

People think they need to have stick-thin legs, taut thighs and a protruding décolletage to be beautiful; absolutely not. Those ladies with such distinguishing features ARE beautiful, but only if naturally so. If you have to work out at the gym 7 times a week to maintain the frame you think you should be, you will plateau and you will fail eventually – because your body wasn’t built that way baby.

Do you think Beyonce lays awake at night distressed because she doesn’t have Cameron Diaz’s never-ending legs?

Heck no.

The world needs its Beyonce’s, its bell-bottomed ladies, just as much as we need the Olive Oyle’s, the Jessica Rabbit’s, the big booty bitches and the petite-framed ladies.

Whatever is natural is beautiful and more importantly, you! So why do you want to waste your life trying to look like everybody else?

Self-acceptance is by far the most challenging lesson in life; and it might not be until it’s too late that we realise that those opportunities missed with friends or spent scared as to how that bacon and egg butty might affect the scales were times wasted and frankly redundant in your quest for a happier life.

Happiness IS drinks with your friends, it IS a naughty takeaway in bed with your lover, it IS going for a run with your best friend only to stop 2km in and decide that you’d find it easier to chat over a cappuccino instead. You CAN go to the gym AND go out for a pizza with your friends; you’ll easily waste away your best years if you don’t.

Life is frighteningly short, and it’s only when the realisation hits that we DON’T have all the time in the world that we start to realise our efforts of self-depreciation, hours logged slaving away on the stair master and not balanced with life were times wasted. It’s important to take care of ourselves, of course it is; but not at the cost of our experiences, happiness and joy.

So that’s why this week, if you’re guilty of any of the above, I want you to make a subtle change to bring a little extra joy in your life. Go to the cinema, and enjoy the softly sweet chews of overpriced popcorn; go for a walk with your friend at dusk and reward yourself at the end with a sizeable glass of your favourite red wine. Make a trough-ful of pasta at home with your mum or your sister, do not use the scales and eat the whole lot.

Please, for yourself, just grab life by the loaf and make a fucking sandwich.

I’ve never met a carb I didn’t like

*Breathes*

Okay

It won’t come as a huge shock to you, that food is ultimately my one true love*.

*this is of course completely separate to the true love I feel for my family, friends, boyfriend and beloved dog Lulu you understand.

Everything about food, I fall hopelessly head over heels for; the snow-white, fluffy innards of a baked potato, encased in its fibrous, crispy skin; the plump, pillowy bites of a perfectly seared scallop; even a bowl of Weetabix, combined with just the right amount of green-top milk for superb texture – I confess, I really do love it all.

But like all relationships, the course of true love very rarely runs smoothly; and while some of you may be thinking; “Woah, there Franks, I just came here to find out about the best avocado toast in town, what’s with the deep chat?” People’s behaviour towards food is something I’ve wanted to explore for years, and though I have plenty of my own past experiences which have shaped my love of food, I have also been prompted to explore this subject by some of the negative developments I’ve seen in close friends which have led to unhealthy relationships with food.

This is why I would like to to reserve a corner of this blog to talk about relationships with food; the good relationships, the bad relationships and sometimes, the destructive relationships; alongside the delicious anecdotes I so love to write about.

But that’s the thing with love, it isn’t always linear and it ain’t always pretty; but ultimately we can learn and try to become better, which is exactly what I hope for with these posts.

SO! A lil bit of history.

I have suffered with an eating disorder since I was 13 years old…and I have maybe only ever used the words “I” and “eating disorder” in the same sentence maybe 3 times in my whole life.

You are officially the 4th person to learn this about me – congratulations!

I’ve kept this a secret for so long, only admitting it to few close friends who previously sussed me out or caught me in the act. Mostly because I’ve been a little bit ashamed of myself, as an advocate and lover for all things food and a constant voice of encouragement and praise for my friends and their own figures during times when they’ve wanted to lose weight; I felt like a fraud and frankly quite ridiculous to be so unable to take my own advice when it came to self-acceptance.

Thanks to a mum who excelled in home cooking and faltered greatly in portion control, I was blessed with an appetite of (quite literally) mammoth proportions as a result of always receiving the same sized platefuls as my dad and older brother. This often led to awkward tea-times at friend’s houses; where Christina’s mum would serve your standard, little-girl portion of dinner and I would be left bewildered asking; “where in Polly Pocket’s name is the rest of it?!”

Rude? Perhaps. Hungry? Always.

Despite obtaining this unique characteristic in my pre-teen years; which was of great relief to Jan (mum) who suffered with my refusal to eat ANYTHING between the ages of 2 and 3 (I was eventually given a chart decorated with stars every time I ate a meal); I was actually a very slim child and it wasn’t until I was 13 that I ever had to bother with thinking any more of food than how I would be able to get the lions share over my brother and sister.

Then it happened; High School, the home of questionably sourced baked goods, strangely attractive History teachers and pre-pubescent wit. Sigh, them’s were the days eh! Would we have even become the people we are today without it?

Hopefully not, just to make the whole ordeal seem semi-worthwhile.

It was here which first nurtured my obsession with food and appearance. There’s no need to go into the finer details, the comments from the boys which first planted the seed of doubt in my mind that would ultimately cause me grief for the next 15 years. It angers me so much that young, impressionable me didn’t have enough strength to be confident in who I was and to tell the fuck-wits (sorry mum), who tried to convince me otherwise to take a hike (but in a much more colourful way I assure you).

Throw in a (now past – thank god), boyfriend who silently manipulated me into thinking neither me, nor my body was quite good enough, perfectly-timed comments from acquaintances who assured me that post-illness I looked much better for the weight I had lost, countless magazine articles which I took way too seriously and various other contributing factors – and there you have a recipe for a semi-destructive eating disorder.

Horrifically low in calories and leaves a revolting taste in your mouth, trust.

The word “disorder” often evokes a harshly negative connotation in ones mind; the kind of word which I fear will make people recoil in their seats when they find out; furrowing their brow before mumbling; “you okay hun?”

Whereas in reality, the word reflects a much more common behaviour that we all have the potential to find ourselves in.

disorder
noun
  1. 1. a state of confusion.

“Confusion”, that’s exactly what a disorder is, exactly the mind frame I found myself in (and shamefully still do on occasion), for longer than I wished to be and so desperately wanted to figure out. It feels like a puzzle you want to crack, a bad boyfriend you want to break up from and a toxic relationship with someone you thought was your friend.

Thankfully it wasn’t always to be that way, and while I’m nowhere near the finish line, I’m running in a marathon I never thought I’d even thought I’d have the strength to pull the running shoes on for.

My posts following this will delve deeper into the ins and outs of the above along with additional recounts, advice and opinions of my friend’s experiences. While I’m desperate to keep this topic as light as possible, I am in no way trying to make a joke out of my eating disorder and though it may seem like I’m poking fun at myself and the idiocy of past-Frankie’s behaviour, I am well aware of the destructiveness that were my previous daily habits. But if I can take you on this journey and share with you how easily they can develop and how only with time and hard work can be resolved, maybe I can help someone who may find themselves where I was a year or so ago.

So please stick around, please divulge any of your own advice or experiences in the comments below and please be kind to yourself always.

p.s details of the best avocado toast in town is coming, I promise.