Pienza Cocktails at Idyllium Bar

If there was one way to kick off a mega weekend of wedding celebrations in style, that’s exactly what we did with sunset drinks in the old town of Pienza on Friday 30th August. With the wedding party of over one hundred people arriving in Italy for the weekend ahead, my brother and his bride-to-be hosted welcome drinks in this dreamy location overlooking the Tuscan countryside.

Edit 3It was the most fabulous occasion with a breathtaking backdrop as the evening sun treated us to perfect golden hour hues. 

Edit 5We had the entire back terrace at Idyllium to ourselves with a selection of bubbles, wines and beers served by our own barman who kept everyone’s drinks flowing. With its prime location and flawless service, it’s no wonder this cocktail bar is known as one of the best in the region.

Edit 8.jpgI had such a wonderful time hanging out with my family and friends of my brother’s, some of which I hadn’t seen for years! Sipping our bubbles overlooking that Tuscan landscape with my awesome cousins by my side, I couldn’t have been happier at that moment.

Edit 7.jpgPre-wedding excitement was certainly on a high and I was extremely prouder of my big brother for bringing together so many loved ones here in Italy for the occasion.

Edit 6.jpgAs the night drew in, it was soon time for the groom to say goodbye to his fiancé the final time before their wedding the next day. Joining us for dinner just around the corner, it was a special meal together as a family of five before he became a married man.

Edit 9.jpgAnd so is evident from the wavy photo above, I knocked back a fair few proseccos as the night continued and we enjoyed another delicious Italian meal involving plenty of bread and pasta. I wore my electric blue lace cap sleeve Lipsy dress for the occasion with stiletto nude heels. These proved quite the challenge when walking the cobbled streets of Pienza, however I had my sister and future sister-in-law by my side to give a helping hand!

Edit 2.jpgWhat an evening it was and terrific welcome to what was to become the wedding of the century. Idyllium; A romantic interlude…let the wedding day commence ❤

Italian Eats; Daria Monticchiello

Staying in the heart of Tuscany, we were spoilt for choice when it came to choosing not only the fabulous local wine, but also the exquisite food on offer. Each region of Italy has its own specialities which use the best of local produce, the Tuscan cuisine being known for its simple, quality dishes often incorporating meat from the land.

Edit 1Following recommendation from fellow visitors at our villa and rave reviews online, we decided to try Ristorante Daria in the nearby town of Monticchiello. This ancient walled village makes for the perfect setting for this fine dining restaurant serving traditional Tuscan food with exceptional service to match.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEntering through the glass doorway laden with green plants and pots, we are greeted by welcoming staff who seated us to our table tucked away around by the artistic wall display of wine bottles. Edit 5From the moment we arrived, the attentive hospitality and personal service from Daria herself made for a homely ambience. As we sipped on our aperitif of prosecco and browsed the menu, Daria quietly circled the tables making recommendations where sought. Edit 3With an extensive menu showcasing the best of Tuscan flavours served with an elegant twist, I was torn by a number of dishes. For a starter I opted for the goats cheese tomato salad and for secondi the ‘spaghetti di zucchine su cream di piselli’.

Edit 6After choosing a local red wine from 2010 to accompany our meal, we were treated to a tasty amuse bouche of fish pate alongside a gourmet basket of breadsticks, flatbreads and fresh breads. Served promptly after this, the salad starter I chose featuring plenty of goats cheese in different rinds was a taste sensation.

Edit 7With a hum of fellow diners including locals and foreigners alike, wine continued to flow as our waiter insured glasses were topped up and Daria came over to have another chat between courses.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASoon our secondi was served and once again presentation made for a feast for the eyes as well as our bellies. Despite choosing an all vegetable based main, my zucchini spaghetti in a veloute of green peas was packed full of flavour. I also had a try of my cousin’s homemade gnocchi which too was delicious.Edit 9To finish my Dad and I shared the chocolate cake a la Daria served with custard and chocolate sauce, the perfect end to a perfect meal.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this wonderful restaurant to anyone visiting the region who is looking for authentic local cuisine served with a touch of elegance. Ristorante Daria certainly does epitomise the best of Tuscany – its energy, culture, food and friendly locals.

Bellissimo Poolside Bliss

It doesn’t get better than long days spent lounging around the pool on holiday with loved ones. With the worries and stresses of home life far away and the only thing on our mind being what delicious Italian food we were going to indulge in next, it felt like we were in our own little paradise for the week.

Edit 2Our villa and grounds at Borgo Poggiardelli in the heart of Tuscany was exquisite with the infinity pool and water well completing such quintessential Italian surroundings. Wearing my new Lack Of Colours rancher hat I too was feeling very European.

Edit 4My usual morning routine on holiday consists of an am workout, followed by a quick jump in the pool to cool off before sitting back to enjoy my morning coffee – given the heat I often opt to make it iced!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf I’m not reading a magazine or plugged into my current favourite podcast (Venetia Falconer Talking Tastebuds), I try to make the most of catching up and just hanging out with my family. And that is what I consider to be bliss; chilling with my loved ones, listening to music and having a laugh like old times.

Edit 5Bliss; perfect happiness, great joy.

Love brings you home

Sometimes it takes a little time and space to truly appreciate and cherish your humble beginnings. Whilst my adventure down under has been more than I could’ve ever wished for, I’m so excited to be returning home to my loved ones after almost two years away.

Pic04948Up in the clouds on the long journey back to the UK, I can’t help but feel nostalgic reflecting on my experiences and achievements accomplished on my time in Aus. I’m so incredibly lucky to have my family and the life long friends made down under, who I have shared so many beautiful memories with.

Pic04903As I head home to England for a few months, this certainly isn’t the end of the road for my Aussie life as I return to Sydney for the New Year and my 25th Birthday in January…so Ciao for now Aus, it ain’t over yet!

Sydney Sunday

As I leave Aus tomorrow on my trip back home to England, I had to soak up one last weekend in Sydney before I go. First on the agenda was of course what Aussies do best – a brunch date with a good friend on a Sunday morning. We grabbed Acai at Bondi Fruitologist where every bowl served is fully loaded with scrumptious granola and a generous dollop of peanut butter.

Edit 1We strolled the Bondi to Bronte beach walk as we devoured our delicious pots of refreshing acai and caught up on life.

Edit 2When we reached Bronte it was time to grab an arvo coffee. We went to Huxton’s Cafe on the main drag where it was hard to resist the indulgent array of stunning cakes, fluffy doughnuts and largest lamingtons I’d ever seen!

Edit 3Of course a trip into the city wouldn’t be complete without a bit of retail therapy too. I visited Newtown to have a good browse of the eclectic mix of vintage and outlet stores where I finally purchased the perfect dress for my brother’s wedding at the end of the month. Opting for an authentically Australian made peice, the dress was only $69 from the Melbourne brand Ache.

Edit 4One final stop by Paddington for the afternoon and I inevitably ended up in my favourite shoe boutique on Oxford Street. Zomp sells hundreds of covetable designer shoes at a discount price, making it hard to resist adding to my ever growing shoe collection anytime I visit the store. In search of a pair of heels to match the dress for my brother’s wedding, I bought this stunning pair of Senso satin copper pink mules down from $200 to $95.

Pic04809.jpgGoing back to where it all started in the Paddo hood was the perfect way to end my last weekend here in Sydney for a while. It won’t be long before I’m back in town again though, no doubt strolling the beaches in the Australian summer sun with an acai bowl in hand and good friend by my side ❤

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Sydney Eats: Bush Cafe Redfern

You’d be forgiven for missing this hidden nook located amongst the neighbourhood of Redfern, yet this innovative new restaurant has already got people talking. Bush is an Australian inspired cafe dreamt up by a couple of local lads passionate about the foods which represent and shape the culture of Aussie households.

Edit 1As a good friend of mine is one of the team behind this new hotspot, we visited the cafe this Friday evening to experience it firsthand (and see our friend in action of course!) Dropping in on a blustery winter’s evening, we were greeted by toy wombats and kangaroos as we took our seats on the wooden benches. At 7pm on a Friday night the place was already packed out.

Edit 2The menu is super simple with their famous cheeseburger taking pride of place as star of the show. We began with the Curry Roo Party Pie, a novelty for me as I’d never tried kangaroo meat before. Whilst this delicacy has struck a nerve with some customers, roo meat is actually very sustainable as there is an abundance of wild kangaroos which get killed and discarded of anyway.

Edit 3That’s not to say this restaurant isn’t vegetarian friendly though – the mixed greens served on a smashed potato salad are delicious and the cheeseburger can even be made veggie with a mushroom pattie.

Edit 4Opting for the traditional beef cheeseburger loaded with pickles and special sauce served on a steamed fresh brioche bun, I would go as far as to say this is one of the best burgers in town!

Edit 5To complete the authentic Aussie feast, we had to try the Fairy Bread n Butter Pudding. Served hot from the oven with a scoop of ice cream, this delightful desert would take any Australian back to their childhood days.

Edit 6Bush cafe has certainly filled a gap in the market when it comes to traditional and somewhat ironic Aussie fare. Whilst the interiors reflect the outback with sandstone walls and wooden table tops carved by locals, the nostalgic menu feels like you’re in the company of true Australians at home – well done lads, keep it real!

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On We Go

Whilst change can often be the hardest to embrace, it pushes you to do new things, reignites inspiration and brings about a new perspective on life as you know it. As I move out of the wonderful flat I called my home in Lavender Bay for the past six months, I continue forward knowing that this shake up will push me to take on new adventures and challenges in life.

Edit 1.JPGIts been a pleasure enjoying the beauty and convenience of the homely neighbourhood of Lavender Bay. For the first time here in Australia I had a room to really make my own and decorate with the eclectic mixture of ornaments and memories collected along my journey so far. From the lovely candles gifted to me from my friend’s company the El Collective, to the awesome tribal necklace passed on from my Auntie, I like my pieces to have a story behind them.

Edit 4.JPGHaving said this, I can be guilty of getting too comfortable and therefore find change a difficult thing to accept. It wasn’t easy making the decision to move out and spend my final month in Australia back down in the Southern Highlands, however a chance to wind-down and rest following such an exhausting first half of the year is just what I need! As my job in the city finished up last week and the lease was up on the flat, the timing actually couldn’t be better to escape the city.

Edit 5.JPGI will be starting fresh on my return to Australia following my brother’s Wedding and spending some much needed time back home in the UK. It’s been a rollercoaster over the past six months here and the stresses of full-time work have certainly taken their toll. So here I find myself back in the picturesque Southern Highlands spending quality time with my boyfriend and friends before flying home. No doubt I will still be back in Sydney for a few weekends over the next month to catchup with friends and family, go to the beach and have some nights out at my favourite bars too!

Edit 1.JPGOn leaving Lavender Bay I take with me many fond memories from a whirlwind of a time residing in such a stunning corner of Sydney. I feel privileged to have discovered a hidden gem of the city and will be back to visit Wendy’s Secret Garden for summer picnics and arvo drinks with friends. For now though I say goodbye and welcome new beginnings for my next adventure…on we go.

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Fond Farewells

And so my final week at opr Agency rolled around bringing with it a number of leaving dos involving plenty of drinks and food galore. I don’t know where the past six months has gone, but it certainly has been a wicked time getting my teeth into the life of PR and supporting the cogs of a fast-paced agency environment. 

Edit 2.JPGWhilst on the face of it my role often appears to be the thankless job, it can be the most rewarding hosting successful events or being of assitance to team members when they are under client deadlines. In my view, the employees in my teams are my clients, so supporting them to reach their full potential and keeping team morale high is my goal.

Pic04243Consequently I have built many strong work relationships and made life long friends, so saying goodbye was always going to be tough. Farewells kicked off on the Thursday with a lunch courtesy of my Manager and boss, followed by arvo drinks and stunning mezze platters from Chomp organised by one of my teams.

Edit 4.jpgOur Christmas in July party that evening left the office very bare on Friday for my last day. However my Manager treated me to brekky at Back Row West and that afternoon also put together a delicious cheese board including popcorn, dark chocolate and berries – yum!

Edit 6.jpgI was presented with a huge card filled with so many lovely messages, along with a leaving gift of a gorgeous blue leather KiKi-K planner embossed with my name in gold lettering.

Edit 8.jpgThe teams gathered around to say farewell and some very touching words were said about all the hard work I have put in over the past six months. It’s pleasing to know that all the hours and commitment to the job haven’t gone unnoticed and I have made a difference to the agency in my short time there.

Pic03705From having my head stuck in a spreadsheet for hours on end, to serving up countless platters of food and topping up the team’s wine glasses on a Friday arvo, it certainly has been a blast – Cheers opr Agency!

Edit 10.jpg‘Dream big, work hard, stay focused, and surround yourself with good people.’

Harbour Views & Twilight Hues

To say that my commute to work over the past 6 months has been walking over the Sydney Harbour Bridge everyday, I can’t help but feel incredibly lucky that the stars aligned for me to experience such a way of living. Whilst the concept of working in an office 5 days a week is a pretty grim thought, I have had the pleasure of enjoying a beautiful commute to work over one of the most iconic landmarks in the world.

Edit 1.jpgWith sweeping views across the harbour and CBD skyline, I feel very fortunate to have made this journey on a daily basis. The fresh air and exercise in the mornings always gets me motivated for work and physically exerts my body before many hours sat at my desk.Edit 48.jpgDay or night, this view continues to blow me away and never fails to take my mind off of whatever stresses and worries I have at work or home. Whether there’s a moody pink hue sunset or glowing moonlight twinkling upon the water, Sydney truly is a stunning city.Edit 4

Strolling Wendy’s Secret Garden

When I find myself stuck in my own head and needing distraction from the everyday stresses of life, I take myself out for a walk and tune into my music or a current podcast series. Amongst the hustle and bustle of city life, I’m lucky enough to have Sydney’s most beautiful yet unknown garden right on my doorstep.

Located on the North shore, Wendy Whitley’s Secret Garden boasts the best view in town of the iconic Harbour Bridge, Opera House, Luna Park and CBD skyline all in one. With the most stunning sunsets and breathtaking outlook over Sydney, I still find myself in awe every time I take a stroll down to the waters edge.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe garden is open to the public and free of charge to visit, yet remains a hidden gem of Sydney. An old railway runs right through the centre too adding character to this perfectly formed oasis.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA number of foot paths and steps wind around the garden leading to little spots ideal to setup for a picnic or even doing a morning yoga stretch. There’s always new areas to discover and I loved this wall mural I found on my latest wonder through the garden.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor anyone visiting Sydney or locals just looking for an alternative to the heaving beaches in summer, Wendy’s Secret Garden is the place to be. As well as taking a stroll with my morning coffee on weekends, I’ve often grabbed a pizza with friends and we’ve walked down to enjoy the sunset from the most magical spot in Sydney…Golden hour at its best.

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