Tuesday 27 June 2017

McDonald's - What's new?

I recently got the opportunity to have a behind-the-scenes tour of McDonald's in Plymouth - this was right up my street as I do love a Maccies, and I have a background in catering so it was interesting to see what McDonald's have changed from the perspective of both a consumer and a caterer.

You may have noticed that your local McDonald's has gone through a few changes recently.. so far 800 restaurants in the UK have been upgraded, and the rest are soon to follow. We got shown round the latest improvements to #YourNewMcDonalds which have been introduced to make the customers' experience better all round. 

We were introduced to David, the franchisee, and learned how he went from working part-time to fund his studies on to owning most of the McDonald's restaurants in Plymouth and Cornwall. McDonald's staff have been unfortunately stereotyped, but David is proof that you can move fairly quickly up the career ladder with a lot of dedication and hard work.

David still works on the shop floor occasionally, but he does spend a lot of time travelling around the South West. He also sits on local committees, and ensures McDonald's plays an active role in the community, which can involve anything from sponsoring children's football teams to having a say on the Christmas lights in the city.

To prove he still knew his stuff, he showed us how to make a Big Mac, before lettings us have a go ourselves.

Who knew the layers of bread in a Big Mac had names? L-R The Heel, The Club and The Crown (useless trivia alert!)
Adding the special Big Mac sauce
Apparently I was stingy on the lettuce - oops!
Obviously one of McDonald's main selling points is fast food - but how do they get your food so fast and still maintain the quality?

As well as the improvements to the front of house, the kitchens have undergone refurbishment to enable them to cook everything fresh to order. 

Here are the burgers going in to be cooked... and coming out 45 seconds later!

I was impressed to learn that the ingredients of the burgers are just British beef and salt & pepper - definitely de-bunked some myths you hear of!

The customer sees the main changes front of house, some of these include:

  1.  Self-Service Kiosks - You can choose whether to queue up and speak to a person to order or you can use the touch screens. These are handy if you are in a rush, and are especially useful for people with communication needs who may have trouble speaking or hearing. The screens can be lowered for children or people who use wheelchairs.
  2. Table Service  - again brilliant if you are tired or disabled, you can go straight to your table and sit down and your order will be brought to you, no need to hang around awkwardly!
  3. iPads - There are tables with iPads provided, these are great if your phone has run out of battery and you need to check up on anything online (it automatically logs out once you've stopped using it). They also come loaded with nutritional information about the food and, the most used feature, a load of games - perfect for keeping the kids (or kids at heart) entertained!

Although I have McDonald's fairly regularly anyway, this visit has enlightened me on what I'm actually ordering and how it is prepared. And I will certainly be getting a coffee or Frappe from Maccies if I'm in town, rather that pay double for pretty much the same thing in some well known coffee chains!

post signature

This post is written in collaboration with McDonald's. All views are my own. 

Sunday 8 January 2017

January Sales Picks

 If there's one thing I learnt whilst shooting these photos, is that sunset is a terrible time for taking outfit photos, especially when you only have an iPhone 5c camera. I liked these shots though, so if you ignore the quality and focus on my snazzy new threads then that'll be grand. Also the beach in winter is even colder after the sun sets - who knew? Kudos to Mark for coming down with me to take these pics.

Yay new clothes!! I HAVE to start with the uuuuhmazing shoes. I mean.... HELLO SPARKLY GOLD BROGUES! I got these bad boys just before Christmas in Clarks when I went to Shrewsbury with my Mum, and she kindly bought me these for my Christmas present. At first I spotted a lovely dark green pair that were leather, suede and patent. They were very very nice and I would have gone home with them quite happily. While I was waiting for the shop assistant to fetch the other shoe of the pair to try on, I spotted these beauties. I then spent about 15 minutes walking round the shop with one green shoe and one gold shoe on trying to decide which to buy. My mum was being practical and saying I'd get lots more wear out of the green pair, I could wear them on placement etc, but I've already got tan and black brogues, so I feel I'm alright for practical boring shoes for now. What I didn't have though, were fabulous sparkly shoes! Not to mention incredibly comfy. My other brogues are New Look and F+F at Tesco, and needless to say, these Clarks ones are by far the comfiest, and I dare say the most durable. Good old Clarks - not just the home of school shoes eh?
Oh yeah - these were an absolute bargain at £30 - half price!

plz excuse socks and cankles
 After Christmas I went to Aberystwyth and got this gorgeous scarf from Accessorize. I've wanted a paisley scarf like this ever since seeing my friends' wearing them in 6th form so we're talking at least 6 years! I love the jewel toned colours in it, and its really soft (hence why I've got it all over my face!)
This wasn't as much of a bargain as the shoes but still pretty decent at £17.50 reduced from £25.

Last but not least is this green ribbed jumper from New Look. Yeees it is green (see above about outfit shoots at sunset - won't be doing that again). Now THIS was a steal at only £6!  I didn't even look what the original price was and took it to the till straightaway (I've just checked - it was £17.99 - yay bargains!). It's a very fine knit so you can wear it as a top or over a vest top or something. I wouldn't recommend wearing it as a single layer on a beach in December though. I told Mark's mum about it and she went and ordered one in a different colour the same day. SUCH a good buy, I can see myself getting a lot of use out of it both casually and for smarter wear.

I hope you like these purchases (actually who cares? It's me that's wearing them and I like them). I enjoyed doing this outfit shoot so hopefully there'll be a lot more to come this year - hopefully in better light! If you're wandering the dungarees are last year's from Fat Face - I like them but I think I'd prefer a skinny leg? And the watch is Mantaray at Debenhams but also a few years old.

post signature

Wednesday 7 December 2016

Brunching in Bloomsbury - Half Cup

Having arrived at King's Cross late on Saturday morning v. hungry, I did a quick google of nearby eateries. I noticed Half Cup but didn't really think much more of it, and we decided to walk in any direction until we came across somewhere that looked good. By chance, we walked down exactly the right street that Half Cup is on (Judd Street). 

A quick glance at the menu was enough to entice me inside, tugging Mark in with me. After our disappointment the day before arriving at a cafe at 11:20 that stopped serving breakfast at 11:15, I was more than happy to find there was no time limit on breakfast/brunchy items here, and better still, they did pancakes!

Not only is does Half Cup do great brunch, you're actually sat in a work of art. The walls were covered in bright, colourful murals of flowers and hummingbirds by Saroj Patel, and I was sat there sipping my latte thinking that I'd love something like that in my living room!

THE FOOD. I had pancakes with berries & cream, Mark had pancakes with maple syrup and bacon. I had a latte, he had OJ. Then I went back to the counter for an almond croissant, a banana and a takeaway Earl Grey. Walking round London works up a right appetite, okay!?

The pancakes were hot and fluffy, just the thing to help decide which sights of London to see next. We settled on the British museum as it was fairly near by, then headed (perhaps foolishly) to Regent Street as I wanted to have a look in Anthropologie at all the things I can't afford. Woe is me. I did get a lot of inspiration from their crockery of things I could make myself at pottery though!

 If you're in the area, I'd highly recommend stopping here. Their lunch menu looked good too! Only thing I will say is I recommended it to my friends but as one of them is Gluten Free they didn't go as there wasn't much choice of GF things on the menu. But if you are a connoisseur of the carb, like me, its grand. My cup is definitely Half Full.

post signature

Wednesday 5 October 2016

A/W 16 additions

I don't know about you, but every year I get ridiculously excited towards the end of August when the Autumn Winter collections come into shops. Don't get me wrong, I love a sunny day (especially if it mean I can swim in the sea) but I am so much more comfortable in a hoody or a jumper than shorts! Plus I'm not worrying about getting sunburned when ever I step out the door. 

I've picked up a few autumnal bits and bobs since the end of summer. I already have quite  hefty collection of things in various shades of burgundy, but I've added a few new pieces this year. 

The bag is from Matalan (similar). Its the third weekend-style bag from Matalan I've owned, in the space of about 8 years, I've only needed to replace them about every 2-3 years, and they get a lot of use! Its the ideal size, funnily enough, if you're going away for the weekend. The only thing I will say is I used it for the first time when I went to do Cardiff 10k, which meant packing my running gear and trainers, meaning a whole extra outfit I wouldn't normally pack! I still fit in everything I need though (even if my trainers were in a separate bag). I love the colours of it, and it looks smart enough to work for any occasion, like I wouldn't mind taking it to an interview if I didn't have a chance to drop off my luggage at a hotel beforehand. 

I've definitely hopped on the soft bra bandwagon. This is part of a set from H&M, the other one is a pale pink shade. They're just so comfy to wear, but I don't recommend if you have to run for a bus in the morning! 

This breton top from Fat Face is probably the comfiest and softest top in my wardrobe. Seriously. Everyone should have one. My friend owns seven! I own many a blue and white striped top, but I love the autumnal nod with the orange stripes. On warmer days I can wear it on its own or under a gilet, and as it gets colder it will be an ideal layer.

Aaaaages ago I saw Ella Masters Instagram a yellow baseball top, and I've been looking for one ever since. I added this to my basket on the h&m website, but before I could order it my size went out of stock. Cue me scouring any h&m I went in, and when I eventually found it I actually said YES! out loud... tell me I'm not the only one who does this? Yesterday I saw a girl wearing hers under a black denim pinafore and immediately made a mental note to add that outfit to my repertoire.

The red/navy jumper (similar) is another h&m number... are you sensing a theme yet? It's cropped, which isn't a style I'd normally go for but it works with high-waisted skirts or jeans or under dungarees, and I've also worn it with just a black vest top underneath which looks good. Its a nice lighter weight jumper for this time of year when you don't need to look like an actual sheep but you still need a warm layer.

The other day I went to get my old Primark sunglasses out of my bag only to find the arms had both broken - I've no idea how long they'd been in the bottom of my bag for but they obviously hadn't survived. I was very pleased to find these similar ones in Primark reduced to £1! Baaaargain.

And finally, this Fat Face scarf is gorgeous. I wear all the colours in it so it goes with everything, and adds a bit of 'something' to an outfit. It's lightweight but there's plenty of material so you can wrap it round your neck a couple of times if it gets very chilly. You can just see the tassle in the photo above, which I'll have to be careful with if I wear round my boyfriend's cat!

post signature

Friday 30 September 2016

Saltram House National Trust

When I first moved to Plymouth, one of the things that excited me about the area was the abundance of National Trust properties. I visited Cotehele last autumn with my family, but there's so many more within an hour's drive that I want to go to!

Luckily I have friends that also love big old houses, so after talking about it for months, Meg, Chloe and I finally went to Saltram. The house is a Georgian mansion, and it looks like a doll's house I dreamed of having when I was little.

 Instead of a boring old paper entry ticket, we were given this key. I loved this little touch, which made us feel a bit more privileged to be wandering round this house.

 Inside were lots of fancy rooms, as you'd expect. I won't lie, I'm pretty annoyed that four-poster beds aren't in fashion any more. Can you imagine trying to build that from an IKEA flat pack!?

We also got to muck around with dressing up things and masks - I think these were aimed at kids as they were all in tiny sizes but the masks fit fine! And they even provided a selfie stick so we could capture the moment.

After stopping for afternoon tea (and bloody lush cake) we sunned ourselves on the lawn and had a bit of a photoshoot, just because we could and Meg had her DSLR with her. 

Once we decided we'd taken enough photos, we went for a stroll around the gardens. Saltram is set in an estate that is made up of 4,000 acres of parkland, meaning there is much more exploring to be done! We stuck to the gardens, although we weren't short of exploring options. There were paths going off in all directions, we found the folly, complete with eerie underground cellar, and we finished up at this pond which was a complete sun trap.

I had the best day here, its a great place to go with friends, or with your family, or even for a romantic stroll around the parkland. I'll be visiting again soon to see what its like in the Autumn.
post signature

All photographs taken by myself, Megan Jones or Chloe Butt. All rights reserved. 

Tuesday 15 March 2016

What I'm reading - March

Sometimes I'll read a whole book in a matter of days, and others it will take me months because I simply don't sit down and read in that period, or I completely forget I've even started that book. At home I have several unfinished books, and at uni I already have 3 and I've only been here 6 months (that doesn't count textbooks... of which I haven't read anywhere near enough!)

The three books I currently have on the go here in Plymouth are The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkein, South of the Border, West of the Sun - Haruki Murakami and Anna Karenenina - Leo Tolstoy.

I started the Murakami novel in the Autumn after reading recommendation after recommendation Becky. I've read barely any of it, but I enjoyed what I've read so far. This book was in my handbag for the bus journeys to work, and unfortunately it stayed in the handbag and got rather neglected! Have re-read the blurb, I really want to read the rest of the story!

I downloaded Anna Karenina onto my kindle because it was either free or dirt cheap on Amazon. I started reading it about a week before War & Peace started on the BBC, and promptly became very confused and they've merged into one snowy, high-class, Russian blur. I think I'll have to start re-reading this one from the beginning again, as I'd have no idea what was going on! I've heard from a friend that its "the most accurate representation of love and the human condition [he's] ever encountered" so I know I must finish it one day (in the near future).

Aaand... The Hobbit. Now this one I'm nearly half way through. It looks like a fairly thin book, but I feel the amount I've read I should be further through it than I am! Lord of the Rings is a funny one for me; I've never seen any of the films the whole way through, I've only seen odd bits when they've been on the telly and nothing else is on. I saw the first Hobbit film at the cinema, and was really confused at the end as they hadn't got anywhere - I only later realised it was going to be a trilogy, and I haven't seen the rest! My cousin and my brother love this book so I thought I should get round to reading it, and I was advised that I should read The Hobbit before reading Lord of the Rings.
I read most of this on the train back to Wales from Plymouth - a 6 hour journey, and the man with the drinks trolley said how good it was. I'm reading my Mum's copy form the 70s, and its full of annotations from her teacher training days. I can tell that this is written for children - but its also a book adults can thoroughly enjoy. I don't read a lot of Fantasy (apart from Harry Potter, which I've not actually re-read since they first came out). My problem with fantasy is that the situations aren't realistic - which I suppose is a given - but the author can put the characters in a sticky situation and then lo-and-behold a giant bird flies along and rescues them out of a tree that's on fire with angry wolves and goblins at the bottom. But I'll stick with it - Tolkein is an author I feel I must read ( and I'm not counting his Oxford English Dictionary entries).

I've noticed all these books have been recommended to me by someone who really loves them, which can only be a good sign. I know they're worth finishing.
Have you read any of these? Is there anything else I should be reading?

post signature

Thursday 10 March 2016

Max Factor Colour Elixir Lipsticks Review

You know when you go to Boots, Superdrug, Debenhams etc and come out with a multicoloured hand from swatching about 50 different products?

It has been said, on more than one occasion, by more than one person, that I can be rather indecisive. When I went to Boots the other day in search of the perfect rosey-nude lipstick, I honestly could have spent hours there. It was a good thing I was with friends and they were nagging me to hurry up! 

I did find one and I was like YES THIS IS THE ONE but they only had a tester, and no stock left. And now I'm writing this I can't even remember which brand it was let alone the shade! Anyway I moved on to the Max Factor stand I came up against this dilemma:

I spent aaaages deciding between Firefly and Raisin in store - do you see how difficult they make it for us!? 

After very much deliberating I settled for Raisin, and though my friends had pointed out that it was 3 for 2 I very nobly said I only needed the one lipstick and tootled off to pay. BUT Boots & Max Factor obviously had some kind of marketing guru working for them and they'd put a stand right next to the self check outs that was just Max Factor and just these Colour Elixir Lipsticks. WHY YOU DO THIS!? Its like putting chocolate and chewing gum by the till in supermarkets, targeting poor, unsuspecting impulse buyers like me. 

There was a queue and I was in a hurry so I picked up the first two lipsticks that caught my eye, and these just happened to be Angel Pink and Dusky Rose. So I did actually make use of the the 3 for 2 in the end and got myself a free lipstick, right?

I popped into Boots yesterday to double check what Max Factor called this particular lipstick, and spotted they've now got an offer where if you spend over £15 on Max Factor you get a free gift worth £30 (or something like that..). Not going to lie that bugged me a bit that I missed out but I'm informing you good people so you can take advantage. Don't say I never do anything for you, now ;)

Even now I can't actually decide which is my favourite shade out of the three of them. I just pick out one of them and put it on and get pleasantly surprised by which ever one is on my lips. 
This is what Max Factor say about them:

Colour Elixir Lipstick gives you smooth, soft lips with gorgeous colour.
  • Instant fabulous colour.
  • Actively moisturises for smoother, fuller lips (vs bare lips)
  • A blend of 60% emollients, conditioners and antioxidants including vitamin E

Their texture is quite creamy and feels comfortable when its on. With some lipsticks you can feel them drying out your lips but these feel quite the opposite, more like when you put a lip balm on. The shades are nice and bright and last quite well. They passed the take-away coffee test but my lips were notably less colourful after lunch, which is to be expected - nothing a quick re-apply won't fix! 

These lipsticks do have a little bit more of a shine than I'd prefer, but that's only if I'm being really fussy! 

I would definitely buy this lipstick again in some of the other shades (as if I don't have enough already...).  

  Have you tried these lipsticks? Tell me your favourite shade in the comments!
post signature