Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

TV shows and movies alike are filmed in such high quality now that they cry out to be appreciated in all their cinematic glory. Last Christmas I treated myself to a curved screen Ultra HD 4K Smart TV to do just that and despite it being painfully expensive I can say without hesitation that it’s one of the best purchases I’ve ever made!

I hardly ever go to the cinema now because I prefer watching movies at home. I can put on a big spread, pause the show if I need a loo break and once I’m done I can flick over to Netflix or Youtube to watch things in beautiful high definition at the click of my remote.

The picture quality blows my mind – it’s so crisp and clear that sometimes I get distracted from the show I’m watching because I’m too busy admiring the fact that I can see such minute details! Then something like Planet Earth comes on and the colours are so vivid that I feel like I’m right there in the middle of the scene!

An Invite to an #ImmersiveNightIn

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

I therefore got very excited when Sony invited me to an event in London to promote their latest range of Sony Bravia Smart 4K Ultra HD OLED TVs. Details of the evening were kept under wraps – they promised an immersive night in bringing classic movies to life through the five senses of taste, touch, smell, sight and sound but didn’t give any more away, leaving me full of intrigue for the night ahead.

As it turned out, the night was full of fun surprises!

Clues…

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

We gathered at the gorgeous venue, Lumiere London, sipping on bubbly and eating dainty canapes whilst speculating as to what was in store for us. Before long we were handed a quiz sheet containing lines from famous movies and had to guess what they were.

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

Various numbered objects, pictures and movie quotes were dotted around the room to help us solve the puzzles.

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

I found a rosy red apple in a bell jar with a bite taken out of it which represented Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, then another clue labelled ‘touch’ required me to reach my hand into a covered box. I prayed that I wouldn’t put my hand on something alive and was relieved to feel a pendant, so it had to be the Jewel in the Ocean from Titanic.

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

The scent of chocolate led me to a tray piled high with chocolates, so I guessed the film ‘Chocolat’ as I got stuck in, crossing ‘smell and taste’ off my list.

Surprises!

That left us with a few movies left to guess labelled ‘sound’. We were gathered together to listen to music from movie soundtracks which would give us our final clues. As an 80’s classic began belting out (clearly from the soundtrack to Guardians of the Galaxy) we got our first surprise: two girls walked into the room and started performing amazing acrobatic feats of strength and balance right in front of us.

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

…suddenly this was much more than an average Wednesday night!

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

After a jaw dropping performance and a round of rapturous applause they took a final bow and we were told to wait for another surprise. At this point I’m pretty sure everyone was thinking: What can possibly follow that?!

The TV (and Chris Pratt)

As we pondered this, Sony’s marketing director introduced himself and treated us to a demo of the Sony Bravia Smart 4k Ultra HD OLED TV in action. Four minutes of Chris Pratt followed in glorious high def. The picture quality was so good that I was convinced that if I reached out I could stroke his beautiful face. This is due to the TV’s ability to display true colours and pure blacks. On most TVs the colour black isn’t really black at all, so when you see it displayed properly it gives a whole new depth to images.

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

Another cool feature of the Bravia is it’s Acoustic Surface Technology which basically means that the speaker is built in behind the screen and projects the sound through it and out into room. This did give it a really good clear sound, but personally I’d still connect the TV up to some external speakers at home to get the full surround sound experience that I love.

Murder!

The final surprise turned out to be a big one! A rather eccentric looking group suddenly appeared in the centre of the room and began loudly acting out a scene…

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

It turned out that we were in the middle of a murder mystery! Before long I was interrogating suspects and doing my best to solve a truly bizarre whodunnit. I got it completely wrong of course, but it was fun all the same!

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

“Did you get up to anything exciting yesterday?” My boss asked the next day. I told him all about the acrobats and the murder mystery.

“But what’s that got to do with TVs?” He asked, bemused.

I still have no idea!

Thanks go to Sony and the Joe Blogs Blogger Network for organising such a fun and surreal night out, it certainly lived up to it’s hashtag #ImmersiveNightIn.

Sony Bravia OLED 4k Smart TV #ImmersiveNightIn

If you’d like to create a movie night at home the Tech Talk team at Currys PC World have put together some ideas which you can check out here.

LovedByLaura

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Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

The past month or so has been a lovely mixture of fun filled hectic days followed by wonderfully quiet uneventful ones. Here are a few of the highlights!

Christmas In July

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

Although it’s way to early to be counting down to Christmas I couldn’t help but get into the festive spirit and feel a tingle of excitement when I visited The White Company’s press day preview: Christmas In July. I’ll be doing a full post in November but I just had to include a sneak peek because oh my gosh I’m excited for Christmas 2017 now!

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

There were gift ideas spilling from every corner of the room and dreamy dinner table display that makes me want to considerably up my dinnerware game.

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine PrevostLife Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

Candles and diffusers filled the air with gorgeous scent combinations that immediately made me think of Christmas .

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

If that wasn’t enough this little scene stole the show for me.

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

It’s totally Hygge and makes me WANT it to be cold so that I can snuggle up under a blanket with a good book and lots of scented candles. Basically they did a fantastic job of making me wish away Summer, even though I know I’ll be moaning like anything the day I need to wear long sleeves and a coat again!

Bounce Ping Pong

I’ve wanted to go to Bounce in Farringdon for years. It’s a similar concept to going bowling except you’re playing Ping Pong instead. It’s a huge place with row upon row of ping pong tables so there’s a really buzzing atmosphere when it’s busy. A bar runs the length of the space so you can stick around after your turn at the tables at watch how everyone else handles a bat after a few drinks!

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

I felt like I got a good workout from all of the running around and spent the half hour laughing my head off as stray balls went everywhere, including into drink cups and ricocheting off people’s heads! Luckily a ball guy would pick up all the escaped balls and refill our bucket at regular intervals so even though neither of us turned out to be particularly skilled at keeping the ball on the table we never ran out!

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

After 6pm you can only advance book a table for six or more players, but we had popped in before 4pm and so managed to bag a table for two at 7pm as walk ins. When we arrived people were getting turned away so it’s good to organise it in advance or go before peak times if you can manage it.

Price wise it’s a bit hefty at £15.50 for 30 mins per table if there’s only two of you (adding on more if you buy some drinks too which of course we did!) but it was a really fun unique experience too so that just about justified it for me!

Gravitas Blogger Photoshoot

On Saturday I took part in a photoshoot for Gravitas who are running a feature on top local bloggers in their Autumn edition – eep!

Life Lately Gravitas Magazine Prevost

Gravitas is a regional luxury lifestyle magazine which launched six months ago. It’s aimed at professionals in the Peterborough area and is full of offers for local restaurants, bars and shops as well as lots of inspirational articles on all of my favourite subjects like food, fashion and beauty. I love having a flick through as I can relate to so much of the content so it’s incredibly exciting to think that I’ll be part of the next issue.

The photoshoot itself was nice and relaxed mainly thanks to the fact that I was with lots of other lovely bloggers so we all had a chat and a giggle during the process. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together!

If that wasn’t enough, the shoot was held at Prévost which is Peterborough’s renowned fine dining restaurant. It was a privilege to be allowed in before opening time as not only is the decor gorgeous for photos, but also I got to see them preparing for a busy day’s restaurant service.

Watch out for a review coming soon as I’ll be back there in a few weeks time for lunch!

Masterchef Australia 2016

I finally got to finish watching last year’s Masterchef Australia and I’d forgotten just how much I love the show! It always inspires me to be more creative and experiment with new cooking or baking techniques. Last week I made chocolate honeycomb for the first time after seeing them do it in an episode. It was such a fun process as when you add bicarbonate of soda it instantly bubbles up and triples in volume, plus the end result tasted delicious!

I’m hoping that the return of The Great British Bakeoff will help fill the gap that it’s left! (Game of Thrones is currently helping…)

LovedByLaura

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Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

It finally happened… I found something to rival Afternoon Tea!

“What?” I hear you say.

“There’s nothing in the world better than a lazy afternoon tea with perfectly sliced crustless sandwiches, fresh scones and the daintiest sweet treats?”

Well yes I thought so too. But then the lovely folks at Amara (the home interiors website that fulfills all my luxury lifestyle dreams) threw a bash at The Sanderson Hotel and I discovered the Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party!*

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Amara’s Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Now technically, every afternoon tea I’ve ever been to has been rather a tipsy affair, (*cough cough* no tea thanks  just keep topping up the champagne *cough cough*) but this one is so up my street that I’m sitting here grinning like the Cheshire Cat as I think back on it.

I’m kicking myself for not taking pictures of the Sanderson’s open air Courtyard Garden, the stunning setting for our Tipsy Tea. It’s a lush leafy oasis of flowering plants, cascading water fountains and a reflection pool – the most perfect summer setting for a get together. (Note that it also has heaters for when British summer has it’s ‘snow in July’ moments.)

Alas though, upon arrival I was handed a glass of deliciously crisp and refreshing Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque champagne and was soon having a good old chit chat with the other bloggers gathered and the team from Amara so I didn’t get a chance to whip out my camera.

The Tipsy Evening Tea was another matter however! Where food is concerned, if it’s beautiful the camera comes straight out and every inch of this feast deserved to be captured.

Drink Me

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Dangerously for my somewhat empty stomach, we started with a flight of cocktails to get us in the mood. There were two tea based cocktails but I zeroed in on the mini martinis which were far more my, erm, cup of tea? One was a mini espresso made with cherry liqueur and orange marmalade  and the other was dark chocolate and raspberry liqueur. Neither tasted particularly alcoholic so the Tipsy Tea soon lived up to it’s name!

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

As the champagne flowed the teastands were set before us with a flourish and I was soon clapping my hands together in sheer delight as the fun of it all. I mean, could there be a more perfect theme for a tea party than The Alice in Wonderland?

I started off with Alice’s Naughty Orange and Cointreau Drink Me potion, a scrumptious concoction served in a mini milk bottle with a straw.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Eat Me

Next, the scones. Soft, freshly baked, still warm from the oven cheese scones with a herby butter that I couldn’t get enough of. Heaven.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

The sandwiches were equally delicious, including a caramelised cornish crab bridge roll and a smoked salmon Scotch quails egg with caviar and cream cheese.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

By far my favourite was the Stack of King of Hearts ham and parmesan croque-monsieurs however. So much so that far later into the evening we were offered some extra helpings and I couldn’t resist polishing off another!

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Down The Rabbit Hole

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

And then, of course, we come to the Sweets which were perfectly on theme. The dark chocolate and rum chessboard gateau almost finished me off. It was so light and yet so rich somehow at the same time, but then I had to try the pocket watch macaroons which were so light and perfectly balanced that somehow I managed to find room for two!

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

The showpiece of the Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea is of course the Wonderland marshmallow magic mushrooms, hidden inside a grass topper so you have to dig in to find them.

Amara Sanderson Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

If you’re looking for a fun quirky food experience in London I really can’t recommend the Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party enough. It’s quirky, it’s a feast for the eyes, it’s delicious and it comes with a cracking cocktail menu. All things guaranteed to make Laura a happy bunny! (Or should that be White Rabbit?)

Mad Hatters Tipsy Evening Tea Party

Where to find it: The Courtyard Garden at Sanderson London

Address: 50 Berners Street, London, W1T 3NG

Nearest Tubes: Goodge Street, Oxford Circus or Tottenham Court Road

Price: from £58 (£79 including a glass of premium champagne)

LovedByLaura

*Disclaimer: I was invited to this complimentary tea by the team from Amara.com (who might I say were an absolutely lovely bunch that I’m looking forward to catching up with again soon!) All views expressed however, are my own.

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Protein World #30DayChallenge

Up until this year I’d always dismissed the idea of calorie counting. My approach to weight control has always been to just eat well most of the time and then allow myself some naughty cheat days in moderation when needed.

Earlier this year, however, I was going through a bit of a tough time and suddenly all of my resolve went out of the window. I rapidly lost half a stone and when I got my appetite back put it back on just as quickly and not in a good way. I was being lazy, eating takeaways and lots of sugar and carbs and it just left me craving more.

For the first time in my life I decided that I needed some help to put some structure and control around my diet so I accepted an invite from Protein World to take part in their 30 Day Challenge – a lifestyle plan based around their Slender Blend Protein powders.

Here’s how I got on!

The Protein World Slender Blend 30 Day Challenge

Protein World #30DayChallenge

So what is the Protein World 30 Day Challenge? Well, it’s a 30 day weight loss programme based on the following guidelines for women:

  • 2 Slender Blend protein shakes per day
  • 1600 to 1800 calories on training days (six days a week recommended)
  • 1200 to 1400 calories in total on non training days (one day a week)

You can buy the Slender Blend protein powder on it’s own or as part of a package of complimentary Slender Plan products for a reduced price. I received:

  • The Slender Blend* (Chocolate and Vanilla) – a Non-GMO, low calorie protein powder
  • The Slender Blend Porridge* (Chocolate and Vanilla) – a high protein, sugar-free & gluten-free breakfast powder containing chia and flax
  • Hunger Buster capsules* – designed to help suppress your appetite
  • Fat metaboliser capsules* – designed to help kickstart your metabolism to help you burn calories faster
  • Protein World Shaker* – with a mesh insert to help you mix shakes without lumpy bits
  • A booklet with comprehensive meal planner (which links to recipes on their website) and instructions for full body workouts

The Important Question – Does it taste good?!

Protein World #30DayChallenge

The Slender Blend vanilla protein powder surprised me by tasting really good! I mix it with 250ml cold water if I’m out and about but if I’m at home I blend in a handful of frozen strawberries which bulks it out so that it fills a whole jar. Either way the shakes are nice and filling and keep me going until lunchtime which I wasn’t expecting if I’m honest.

The porridge is good too although as this needs to be cooked on the hob I only tend to eat it on weekends when I have a bit more time. My preference is the chocolate flavoured version.

Protein World #30DayChallenge

I’ve also tried the overnight oats peanut butter recipe from Protein World’s online recipe store. It doesn’t look all that appetising but tastes seriously scrumptious! The only downside is that the calories are on the high side for what I’d usually allow myself for my breakfast.

Protein World #30DayChallenge

How I Got On With The Plan

I found it difficult to stick to the plan to the letter but understood the general principle so I adapted it to suit my busy lifestyle. I was supposed to take the capsules every day but they remain unopened in my cupboard as I wanted to achieve any weight loss in a natural way. I also haven’t followed the exercise plans so I haven’t really toned up at all!

To counteract my lack of exercise I aim for the lower 1200 to 1400 calories a day, which I make sure I stick to by logging my food into a diary using MyFitnessPal. This app has been a game changer for me and makes calorie counting a doddle. I even used it when I went to Wagamama which helped me to find the healthy options on the menu.

The shakes are only 150 kcals each so when it’s practical for me to have them twice a day this makes staying within the calorie allowance really easy whereas on days where I can’t do this or can’t have shakes at all I find keeping within 1200 calories a lot harder. I went out for lunch today and had some sweet potato fries. I could have cried when MyFitnessPal informed me that a portion of them alone is 508kcal!

For dinner I try and make fresh low cal dinners if I can but there are of course days where I don’t have time to cook or just want to be lazy and free up some time. On those I’ve found that Weight Watchers frozen meals are a winner as most are below 350kcals but are really quite tasty and hearty.

Weight Loss Results

Protein World #30DayChallenge

For the 30 days on the challenge I faithfully stuck to having a Slender Blend shake or porridge for Breakfast and another for either lunch or diner, along with one other normal, calorie controlled meal and some healthy snacks.

I’m 5 foot and started off weighing 7st 13lb and had dropped to 7st 9lb after a month which far surpassed what I’d expected to achieve.

It’s now been four months and I now drink one shake a day and two regular meals. Realistically with any kind of ‘diet’ you need to stick to it and when I have off weeks and cheat weekends I do tend to put on a pound and then have to be really good the next week to even things out again, but on the whole my weight is much more stable.

Going on a calorie controlled diet won’t be the right solution for everyone, but it has helped me to take control of my diet and feel better about my health, so I’ll never say never again…

…well not about calorie counting anyway! :p

LovedByLaura

Disclaimer: Protein World kindly provided me with the products to take part in the 30 Day Challenge in return for my honest account of my experiences.

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Life Lately

Wow, we’re almost halfway through 2017 and I feel like I haven’t had a catch up with you all for ages! Let’s set that right shall we? Here’s a little glimpse of my life lately:

Martinis, Music and Muses

I recently attended Peterborough Queensgate Shopping Centre’s late night event called Martinis, Music and Muses. Lucky shoppers that evening found themselves treated to complimentary martinis, a 2hr DJ set from Lauren Pope and lots of special offers in the stores for that night only.

Megs, the blogger and vlogger behind the beautiful blog Wonderful You was on hand to offer style advice to those looking to freshen up their wardrobes for the Summer. Along with fellow #Qbloggers Kat and Sabina, I was invited to sit down with her for a chat.

Life Lately

It was fascinating getting an insight into her life as a full time blogger (newflash people – it’s not all glamour and an easy life, she works bloody hard!) and hearing her opinions and experiences on all sorts of topics from negative comments to travel blogging and creativity.

She really was a sweetheart and it was great to meet a success story who is happy to encourage and support smaller aspiring bloggers.

I bought a bike (and cried a bit!)

I never really got into cycling as a child and then when I decided to give it a go one year at Center Parcs I promptly flew over the handlebars on day one, winding myself and acquiring a split lip, two black eyes and gravelled cheeks. It wasn’t really the holiday look I’d been going for.

Life Lately

I’ve been wanting to conquer the fear for ages and my fella is really into cycling so he’s been helping me find my confidence again. I’m now the proud owner of a beautiful Giant Liv Road Bike, which ironically is in size XXS since I’m only 5 foot!

I’m not going to lie to you and say that it’s been easy so far; after a few practice sessions I’m still really nervous and wobbly, currently riding slower than a six year old and I haven’t mastered changing gears yet because I don’t want to move my hands once they’re clamped in position! I also managed to burst into tears twice after getting frustrated at myself for being such a wuss which was horribly embarrassing.

Life Lately

However, I’m determined to succeed and each time I go out I improve on something, so I’m heading in the right direction.

Healthy Eating

So when I went through my breakup the only good thing about it was that I lost my appetite and dropped half a stone. Then I started dating again and you know what that means don’t you? I put it all back on! It’s not like I’m overweight or anything, just that I want to find that happy balance. I’ve been eating a lot of processed stodgy stuff and want to get back to more home cooked, fresh, clean meals.

My current favourite meal is either Chilli Salmon and Roasted Asparagus (which I intend to share the very simple recipe for on here soon) or The Londoner’s Egg Fried Cauliflower Rice.

Life Lately

I found that you can buy microwave cauliflower rice at the supermarket now which saves faffing about making your own at home as it’s really messy and fiddly and means that I can whip this bad boy up in less than 10 minutes – hoorah!

Flowers On A Budget

I love brightening the rooms of my home with big bunches of flowers but geez it’s expensive to keep replacing them! At the Ideal Home Show I came across a company called Cote Noire and they were selling faux flowers that looked so realistic that I couldn’t help but snap up several big bunches. I’m saving a small fortune and they are really handy as photography props too – such a good buy!

Life Lately

#NichollsTieTheKnott

Life Lately

My friend Tiffany married Sean at the weekend and oh my goodness what a beautiful evening it was! I partook in that special kind of dancing that you only do at weddings, pimped my Prosecco with unicorn dust and had to declare it a cheat day because just look at the spread they laid on! Oh and did I mention the pizzeria outside baking fresh pizzas to order and the ice cream van?

Life Lately

Tiffany, of course, made an absolutely stunning bride – you can check out the pictures on Instagram, just search #NichollsTieTheKnott.

Borough Market

*I debated whether to include this given the awful events that have since taken place there, but it is so unfair that such a beautiful, diverse part of London should now be associated with the cowardly, evil actions of the few rather than with the happiness that it has brought to so many on a daily basis. For that reason I decided to share my recent happy memories. My heart goes out to everyone affected.*

A few weeks ago I met up with my friend Fran for a catch up in London and she introduced me to foodie heaven at Borough Market. What a place!

With everything from cheese to chocolate to chutney to chilli and every spice imaginable, it offered an eclectic mix of foods and cultures spanning from every corner of the globe. We spent a glorious hour exploring the stalls and accepting all the free samples of deliciousness, before finding a corner barrel from which we could enjoy our Prosecco and chocolate as we watched the world pass by.

Life Lately

London, my heart breaks and at the same time is full of enormous pride for your never ending spirit – I love you!

LovedByLaura

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