Monthly Archives: February 2013

You win some, you dim sum

 
Come on – that’s my funniest post title yet.


A couple of weeks ago I received an email from one of the giants of dim sum – Royal China. *Bows*

“Dear Poppy…” went the email, but my eyes had already glazed over dreaming of pork puffs, squid balls (tee hee) and prawn dumplings… *sigh*

“Dear Poppy, (am back in the room) we’d like you to come and eat our amazingly amazing dim sum please.”

I paraphrase, but you get the gist. Now, I in no way am a Dim Sum Master, but my friends Ben and Gemma are. The three of us arranged to meet at 2pm at Royal China, Queensway, (which has been around for 20 years – it’s the real deal.) I debated camping outside the night before to ensure I didn’t miss it, but instead decided to just pay very close attention to the time and NOT BE LATE like a normal person.


We were there on the dot and whisked to our table by a lovely waitress who, with her speedy crew looked after us the whole time we were there; our teapot was never empty and there were never any empty plates on the table – they were super duper great.  The restaurant was warm and buzzy with a soft glow about it… there were business meetings happening, dates and friendly meet-ups… Everyone seems to love dim sum, (which actually means ‘touch the heart.’ Lovely.)

To say we were excited is a bit of an understatement – we were not the cool gang in the room. We were the wide eyed, bouncy, ridiculously happy LET’S TRY EVERYTHING gang – not cool. (But really fun). 

I left Ben and Gemma in charge of the menu and they did a sterling job of ordering for us.

Some kind of vinegar and chilli sauce with chilli oil. Kaboom.

Some kind of vinegar and chilli sauce with chilli oil. Kaboom.

Honey roast pork puffs

Honey roast pork puffs

Deep fried prawn dumplings with salad sauce

Deep fried prawn dumplings with salad sauce

Roast pork buns

Roast pork buns

They started by ordering nine dishes (dims? sums?), including all of the above and all of the below…

Sesame paper prawn rolls

Sesame paper prawn rolls

Vietnamese spring rolls

Vietnamese spring rolls

They ordered king prawn AND roast pork cheung fun (love that name)

They ordered king prawn AND roast pork cheung fun (love that name)

Shiu Mai (minced pork dumplings with shrimp)

Shiu Mai (minced pork dumplings with shrimp)

Har Kau (steamed prawn dumplings)

Har Kau (steamed prawn dumplings)

It was all amazing and very very VERY delicious. Not a single dim or sum was left – we polished off the lot. I really enjoy eating in this way – little mouthfuls and small portions. It gives my tummy a chance to catch up with my usually massive eyes which are inevitably too big for my tum. I was comfortably full. So we decided to order dessert.

Warm egg custard tarts

Warm egg custard tarts

Then I was really full and found myself no longer being able to talk in cohesive sentences. While Ben laughed and pointed at me, Gemma decided to order more Har Kau, (prawn dumplings). A bit back-to-front seeing as we’d already had dessert, but if the waitress thought we were loonytunes, she did not let on.

I was surprised at the cost – I thought it was going to be quite a bit more expensive as the food really is very special, but with most of the dishes costing less than £4, it works out as an extremely reasonably priced meal..
 

After we left, we went for a wander in Hyde Park in the unexpected and glorious sun. We chatted about this and that, watched the children feeding the swans and we busted some moves in the sunshine.

Poppy, Ben and Gemma - can you tell who's who?

Poppy, Ben and Gemma – can you tell who’s who?

Ben and Gemma...

Ben and Gemma…

It was, in fact, a perfect afternoon.

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Royal China

13 Queensway
London
W2 4QJ

We visited Royal China on Queensway, but you’ll find them in other places, such as Canary Wharf, Fulham and Baker Street…

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How do I get more blog followers?
– Top Tips –

Since I started blogging, I have been asked countless times how to get more followers. How, how, HOW DO I GET MORE FOLLOWERS, POPPY? 

So, I thought I would write a little post with some useful tips I’ve picked up along the way – most of which may sound like common sense to many of you and possibly these are things you’ve been doing for a long while already… But for those of you who are just starting out in the blogosphere, I hope you find this useful and please shout with any questions. If I know the answer, I’ll shout right back.

1. Followers are real people. Real people with real brains and real personalities. So don’t forget that your content needs to be engaging and fresh so that your real-people-followers will read it and then want to share it. So before you start to worry about how you are going to promote your blog, make sure your content is top notch.. and this may take some work, but that’s fine! You’re not here for a quick shortcut fix, now are you?

2. Create your brand. If you hadn’t realised it already, You Are A Brand. Yip. You you you important little you. The language you choose, the font you use, your tone of voice and your style of photography all represent you and your brand across all the corners of the sparkly tinternet. It means your followers can recognise you and your style instantly.. and consistency is key… no Jeckyll and Hydey stuff pleasey – you’ll lose your readers at ‘hello’.

Branding is something which confuses a lot of people, but don’t tangle yourself up in a knot, just remember that it is all about how you want people to feel about you and your blog.. And if you feel like you need a bit of help in this department, get in touch with these chaps. They’re good and love working with the little people. Like you and me. Blogging tips
3. Be social: Facebook. Set up a Facebook page for your blog and post your blog updates there. Don’t forget to make it nice and easy for your readers to link to it and ‘like’ it directly from your blog too. Gathering ‘likes’ is a great way to promote your blog as when someone likes your Facebook page it will usually show up in all of their Facebook friends’ news feeds… and if it sparks their interest they’ll nip over to your blog and maybe even become a loyal and regular reader. Hurruh! Here’s how to install the Facebook ‘like button’ for WordPress and Blogger.

Come and interact with me on Facebook and practise your new skills…

4. Be social: Twitter. This is an incredible tool for reaching out and interacting with others. There is an etiquette with Twitter, as no one likes spam or a constant stream of links – that is one sure way to lose followers. The trick with Twitter is being consistent, interacting, being personal and supporting other people you like – retweet (RT) posts you agree with and enjoy. It will be appreciated and often reciprocated, leading to more interaction and more followers. Ding! Again, make a link to your Twitter account super easy to find from your blog. No one wants to have to hunt for anything. (We’re busy people, you know).

Come and interact with me on Twitter and practise your new skills…

5. Be social: Pinterest. This is one of my favourite things in the world. A online pinboard on which you can pin everything you like, for everyone to see and share? And it’s free? Really? It is almost too good to be true. And again, you can link straight back to your Pinterest page from your blog – here’s how to install the ‘follow button’ for your pleasure. Every new pin can be posted in real time back to your Twitter and Facebook pages too… it’s powerful. Kaboom.

Come and interact with me on Pinterest and practise your new skills…

6. Comment on other blogs. And I don’t mean ‘Me-me-me-and-here’s-a-link-to-my-blog’ comments, I mean thoughtful, authentic and considered real comments. It will be appreciated. I always visit the blog of a reader who’s left me a lovely comment and usually reciprocate in kind… the blogging world is a great community, so jump right in and get involved!

7. Invite your readers to share your posts. Share, share, share. It’s all about sharing your content and reaching out to potential new lovely followers. Your job is to make this as easy peasy for them as possible and one way of doing this is by including a simple set of social media share buttons at the end of each of your posts. If you want more buttons than are offered by your blogging platform, then have a look at ‘add this‘ or ‘share this‘ for some more snazzy options.

8. Write a guest post. First you need to think about the kind of people that would want to read your blog and then hunt high and low for other blogs who attract a similar kind of Demographic. (Fancy word). Once you’ve found some, contact their owners and offer to write a guest post, or even better, feature on their blogs. Try to find blogs with a higher readership than yours and you should find you’re able to tempt some of their readers over to your own blog with your excellent writing skills.

9. Analyse and learn. Let’s talk about Google Analytics. (DON’T PANIC.) They are very easy to set up and once you have them in place, you will be doing crazy happy 80’s dancing, like they do in Footloose. You will be able to see who is looking at your blog, what country they’re from, how long they stayed on your blog, what they searched for in order to arrive at your blog and which posts are your most popular. This information is like gold dust to folk like you and me and it means we can learn and adapt accordingly. Google Analytics will become your best friend and you will love it forever and ever. When it comes to tools which help you learn about your readership and grow your blog to be the best blog it can be, Google Analytics is the mothership.

10. Take great photographs. “A picture tells a thousand words…” It’s TRUE. If your picture is a bit weak and ‘meh,’ you risk losing your reader before they’ve even read one word. Don’t forget that it’s your picture which will accompany your post’s link wherever you place it, so try to make sure your photos are strong, dynamic and that you love every pic you post. Don’t worry, you don’t need a fancy camera –  there are plenty of very cheap and clever photo apps around to make even the simplest of mobile phone snaps look like you’re David Bailey. I usually use Istagram, but Afterglow and VSCO are also favourites among many bloggers… so get snapping.

Come and interact with me on Instagram and practise your new skills…

I really hope this has been helpful – there are many other clever little tricks of the trade which will get your blog flying, but I think 10 tips is enough for now… (especially as you should really keep blog posts quite short as most people don’t want to wade through realms of information.. In fact, um, are you still here..?

p.s. Come and connect with me on Snapchat and also make sure your blog is live and kicking on BlogLovin’ – it’s a great way to pick up new readers and find other bloggers to inspire you… I’m there, are you?

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And one for the pot

From ConstellationMe

From ConstellationMe


Thought you might make a cuppa and sling in a Tetley’s teabag Circa 2007 you found at the back of your cupboard? *Looks sheepish*

Stop right there and read on, for I (Poppy) have been on the hunt for the ultimate guide to the Perfect Cup of Tea… and I believe I may have found it.

Here is the go, according to the tea guru that is Fortnum and Mason

1. Warm the teapot by rinsing it out with hot water.

2. Fill the kettle with fresh water from the tap. Water that has been boiled already will affect the taste of the tea.

3. Put into the teapot one rounded teaspoon (or caddy spoon) of tealeaves for each person and one extra spoonful ‘for the pot’.

4. Turn off the kettle (or remove it from the stove) just before the water boils and pour into the pot. It doesn’t need to be stirred.

5. Leave to infuse for three to five minutes, depending on taste. Serve, using a tea strainer.

And I thank you.

So what do you think? Do you do it differently?

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Bluebelles of Portobello

Bluebelles
of
Portobello

I know you know I love cafes… and if you don’t you must be a new reader. Hello. But I wanted to tell you about this particular cafe… not just because I really really like it, but because the owner (Jonny) is just so enthusiastic and friendly and bouncy and happy to see you that I want everyone to know about it. And go there. And drink their coffee because it’s really really good. Really.

Continue Reading…

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Don’t worry. Bee Happy.


Last Saturday morning I ate buttered toast covered in honey. Really good runny honey that oozed off the sides and down my hand… it all got kind of sticky after that but still, it was very very delicious.

I love honey and I love bees. Did you know that bees contribute around £200m to the UK economy through pollination? No? Me neither. I’ve been doing me some reading and boy oh boy we need to look after our buzzy buddies.

Bees are vanishing, ( you may have noticed..) but there ARE things we can do, including bee friendly gardening, adopting a hive, buying local honey, sponsoring a meadow… I know! Who knew…

I went for a stroll in Kensington later that day and popped into Accessorize where I found me this sweet little necklace.


It’s my way of showing support to the beautiful honeybees and every time I wear it, it reminds me to be mindful of even the smallest and simplest things.

Like toast and honey.

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Poppy’s Bee Necklace – Bella Bee Pendant
Accessorize
£6

The Vanishing Bees – read about it here…

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A twinkly night in Soho


Soho is a place that makes me feel alive. It also makes me feel like I don’t own enough rubber bras. I don’t own any rubber bras. But there seem to be so many people shopping for them I feel as though I must have missed a trick.


On Friday night I took the tube to Oxford Circus – I walked down Carnaby Street and into Soho, where I met K-Bosh, at Maoz Falafel, on Old Compton Street.


I love falafel. It’s tasty tasty (very, very tasty), healthy, gluten free (yip) and doesn’t break the bank. I went for falafel in pitta with humous, with a help-yourself-to-as-much-salad-as-you-want-saladbar. That, with a fresh mint lemonade came to £7.70. Bargain.

K Bosh and I go way back. Way way way. She knows things. We sat and chatted for an hour, (boys, books, jeans, boys again) before heading over to Ronnie Scotts to meet our chums. 


Ronnie Scotts opened its doors in Soho in 1959 and has been the home to top notch jazz ever since. Tickets to the gigs can be quite pricey, ranging from £15 – £50, which can put you off if you’re not feeling flush. *Tick*

However, upstairs from the main club is Ronnie’s Bar, which opens at 6pm and closes around 3am. There’s live music every night of the week and poetry slams, jive nights and samba classes also find their way there.. The best news is that it’s free to get in before 8pm (hurrah!) and so this is what we did.

After some serious negotiation with the doorman, (yawn – he was clearly confused about the time and thought it was after 8pm. It wasn’t.) K-Bosh and I nipped upstairs and Mimbles, (we go way back too – she also knows things) Lena, Ingo and Neve followed shortly after. The bar was packed (capacity 140) so there was nowhere to sit, but we were happy standing and dancing once the music kicked off at 9pm – Viva La Revolution! (Name of the band, not my own sentiment.)

Wine flowed, Evian flowed, (that’s Neve’s – she’s doing a detox and looks completely glowy-shiny-lovely-amazing) and the wine flowed even more once Lena realised “it is cheaper if we just buy the bottle!” Ahhh.


The music was brilliant and FUN and we all danced with big smiles on our faces. Mimbles amazed us with her incredible miming talents, (I couldn’t possibly try to elaborate here) K-Bosh shimmied like no other and Ingo handled being in the company of four girls very well, I thought. He held handbags and drinks when loo runs were needed and even took on the role of official group-shot photographer. This episode was slightly less successful, but we all blamed the lighting.


I said my goodbyes and headed out into the sparkly streets of Soho. Beautiful, bright and full of hope. I do love this city…


…and I LOVE Liberty’s at night.

Me, my tired feet and a glass of warm milk (I am not 12, it is just so good) crawled into bed about 20 mins later… and I thanked my lucky Soho stars to be living in such an amazing, magical and musical city… and to have such wonderful friends.


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Sweet talk: Wharf Road Bakery

Think you’ve had macarons? Pah. You have NOT.


And I say this with confidence. Oodles of it. For I (Poppy) have had macarons from Wharf Road Bakery and LET ME TELL YOU, Poppy Lovers, there is no going back.

The wizard behind Wharf Road Bakery is the Very Clever Miss Giselle Richardson, who makes all the macarons herself, using her very own top secret recipe..but I can tell you that they are gluten free, made from the freshest British ingredients and are ridiculously melt-in-the-mouth-delicious. *Sigh*

Lady Richardson began her mission to make the BestestMacaronsInTheWorld because she discovered that most of the top-notch macarons were being shipped over from Paris. Oui. So although they may taste good (bon) and often delicious (délicieux) they are not ever going to be as super duper fresh as those from WRB. (That’s Wharf Road Bakery). Nor will they be made purely from seasonal ingredients straight from our lush British soil.. e.g. beetroot, pumpkin and apple in Winter… and strawberry, cherry and plum in Summer. Ho hum.

 


Her delectable flavours are second to none and include favourites, (when I say favourites, I don’t mean mine personally as all of them are my favourite and that would take up too much room to write. Much like this sentence) which take their cues from our charming British heritage, such as Earl Grey, Lavender, Roasted Rhubarb, Cucumber, English Rose and Chocolate Orange…


WRB is leaping from strength to strength, so if Giselle isn’t manning her exceptionally popular weekly stall (there are queues) at Cabbages and Frocks Market in Marylebone, or delivering new scrummy stock to Spitalfields’ A.Gold or The De Beauvoir Deli Co in Islington, then she’s boxing up her macarons for lucky people’s parties, weddings and events. And at £1.50 a go, (or less if you order more than 10) there’s no reason in the world why we can’t all treat ourselves. Or our friends. Or ourselves, again. 

They are, in all seriousness, (serious Poppy) some of the most delicious things I have ever tasted. They are so beautiful, delicate and light that I’m sure that fairies made them.**

So, I say it again. Think you’ve had macarons? Pah. You have NOT.

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**Disclaimer: This is not me saying that Giselle is lying when she says she makes them. (Except I think she might be.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Wharf Road Bakery macarons are currently available every Saturday at Cabbages and Frocks Market, Marylebone, 11am – 5pm.

All orders can be placed via the website:
www.wharfroadbakery.com

WIN a box of 20 macarons from Wharf Road Bakery!

All you have to do to win this super duper prize is one of the following, (the more you do the more chances you have.) Please leave me a comment below for each step you complete:

1. Sign up to my mailing list (Completion of this step is compulsory to be entered – please look out for the confirmation email in your inbox, otherwise you won’t be registered!))

2. Become a fan of my Facebook page and share the post

3. Leave a comment on this blog post
4. Follow me and Wharf Road Bakery and RT the competition on Twitter 
5. Follow me on Blog Lovin’ 
 

 

Open to the UK only.
Competition ends Friday 22nd February. Good luck!

Poppy’s important terms and conditions:
Entrants not meeting the above requirements will be deemed invalid and therefore not included in the draw. Signing up to my mailing list is compulsory and all the other steps are optional and are additional chances to win, however they will be deemed invalid if the entrant has not completed the compulsory step of signing up to my mailing list. Entrants are to leave a separate comment below for each step they complete. The competition will run from 9am on the 14th February 2013, through to midnight 22nd February 2013. I will contact the winner within a week of the competition ending. If the winner doesn’t respond or accept the prize within 2 weeks of notification I reserve the right to draw a new winner. 

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Let it snow


When men were all asleep the snow came flying, 
In large white flakes falling on the city brown, 
Stealthily and perpetually settling and loosely lying, 
Hushing the latest traffic of the drowsy town…”

 
Robert Bridges
 
Photo by London Dream Photography – £20.87
 
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