Menagerie, Manchester

“This is Manchester, we do things differently here.” - Tony Wilson


Since its launch last year, Menagerie has become a firm favourite with Manchester's celebrity crowd. Partly owned by Cheshire Housewives stars, Seema and Stacey, the exotic interior of the bar/restaurant is a definite talking point.


Menagerie combines gastronomy with art/theatre and aims to take your dining experience to the next level.

Based on the edge of Spinningfields, the £1.5m development boasts a happy hour chandelier; a light fitting by day but at night dancers hang overhead to pour Champagne for guests. 

As you arrive you are met with a huge ornamental bird cage and a flock of white paper cranes suspended from the ceiling.

menagerie: noun - 1. A collection of wild animals kept in captivity for exhibition.

The gold leaf bar holds a sculpture resembling the Greek god Hermes. The walls are covered in ornate decor and neon light installations. There is even a bathtub which can be filled with Champagne. 

The restaurant area is big. Boasting 250 covers, it features a catwalk which runs through the centre of the room for performers to entertain diners and to host fashion shows and theatre performances.


The venture has been so successful there's talk of it expanding into other northern cities and possibly even Dubai. 

The beauty of Menagerie is it doesn't take itself seriously. Everything is tongue in cheek and fantastically over the top, yet it still manages to keep the feel of glamour.


The cocktail menu is quirky with names like "Jealous or Crazy" and "Mine Tastes Better Than Yours", which features a (fake) burning £20 note as a side garnish.

It's a fun place to enjoy brunch, dinner or an evening drink. I love it! 

The first time I visited was a few weeks ago for a hangover brunch. The friendly staff noticed that my friend was particularly struggling and suggested a Bloody Mary. She started to come back to life within a few sips.

The food hit the spot perfectly and we decided to return again today for a charity event.


Following the horrific events in Manchester on 22nd May, Menagerie hosted a fundraising event, with all proceeds going to the official We Love Manchester Emergency Fund. 


There was live entertainment, a fashion show, auctions and raffles, along with the occasional celeb or two. 


Thank you Menagerie. It was a fantastic night to raise money for an even better cause. 

If you would like to donate to the official We Love Manchester Emergency Fund please visit:

Menagerie Restaurant

Falcon Forest Glamping, North Yorkshire

“There is no Wi-fi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection.” - unknown


Getting outdoors, away from technology and back to nature, is good for the soul. But if camping isn’t your idea of relaxation, allow me to introduce you to Falcon Forest Glamping.


Falcon Forest is an impressive development of 11 glamping pods located on the edge of the North York Moors National Park. Overlooking stunning woodland, it has beautiful scenery and is the perfect getaway for glamping enthusiasts.


Glamping is essentially glamorous camping. The wooden pods are exceptionally cosy and fitted with sheep wool insulation to keep you nice and toasty, even in the chillier months.


Each pod has its own supply of electricity, heating and lighting. So if, like me, you struggle without a hairdryer and phone charger, you’re safe here!

Safety, in fact, is integral at Falcon Forest. All the pods are lockable by key and secure parking is close-by. There are private shower units and loos just a hop, skip and a jump away in the main building. 

Each pod has a decking area outside with a picnic bench, the perfect place to sit for breakfast watching the sun rise. 


My friend and I chose to stay in a pod with a bed with its own fresh cotton sheets and towels. A lady needs a little luxury when staying in a forest.


We arrived one Friday afternoon and immediately popped open a bottle of bubbles before setting about making our evening meal. We lit our bbq and sheltered it from the wind at the side of the pod. Perfectly positioned to cook some veggie sausages to go with our pre-cooked baked potatoes. There’s nothing better than eating a meal in the fresh air, even if you do have to wrap yourself up in a blanket while you eat it. 

Dessert consisted of toasted marshmallows (vegetarian of course, courtesy of Anandas - wedged between two chocolatey malted milk cow biscuits. Incredibly gooey and udderly delicious! 


We sat together watching the sun set, our bellies full of delicious food and feeling the most relaxed we’d both felt in a long time. The beauty of holidaying in the UK is you don’t have the stress of airports, catching flights, arranging transfers. We just packed up our cars with all our essentials (Prosecco, hair straighteners, etc) and set off on our way. Just a few hours later we were feeling completely zen and ready for bed.


After a fantastic nights sleep from all the fresh air (and Prosecco) we woke up and our thoughts soon turned to breakfast. Since it was pouring with rain outside, I appointed myself to tea maker, while my friend was put in charge of the camping stove. 


Poor Joey battled the elements for some time to make us a delicious feast of scrambled eggs, beans and sausages, all overlooked by me from the warmth of the pod. It smelt terrific!

I had one simple task: plate it up. Instead, I accidentally flung it across the floor.

Thankfully Joey has the patience of a saint and she set about making a second batch. 


Sipping our mugs of tea we were able to take in our beautiful surroundings while enjoying our breakfast, feeling at one with nature. 

After an hour or so of listening to the rain hammer down on the pod roof, we decided to not let it dampen our spirits any longer, we donned our wellies and wrapped ourselves up against the elements before setting off on an adventure.


What was supposed to be “a nice little walk in the countryside” became a five mile hike across the North York Moors, one of Britain’s best loved walking spots. Our faces stung as huge drops of rain pelted us. We kept getting lost and the cows and lambs weren't much help with directions. In our eagerness to leave we’d made up a nice flask of tea, stuffed our pockets full with Percy Pigs to keep us revived on the journey…. but had completely forgotten to consult a map. Amateurs!


Several hours later our weary legs carried us back to base camp. Thankfully Falcon Forest is adjacent to the Falcon Inn, a snug old pub with a roaring fire and hearty food. The landlady took pity on us when she saw us walk in looking like drowned rats and served us a warm meal and a nice bottle of wine. We made ourselves comfy by the fire and promised each other that we would make glamping trips a regular thing. Despite a couple of mishaps along the way, we hadn’t laughed so much in a long time. 


The sun rose on our third and final day, we packed up our cars and set off to nearby Scarborough to meet up with friends. It was the first UK seaside resort to be developed and is still one of the most popular tourist attractions in the UK, offering a wide range of activities.

We took our friend's children to the beach where they enjoyed a donkey ride or two and had a lovely leisurely lunch before going our separate ways.


I can’t tell you how much we loved our trip. It was the perfect escape and we’ll be booking another glamping weekend soon. I heartily recommend you do the same.

Falcon Forest Glamping

Bubbles and Berries, Cloud 23

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.” - J. K. Rowling


Last weekend I returned to Cloud 23 to have afternoon tea for my birthday. You can read my previous review of Cloud 23 here.

This wasn’t just any ordinary afternoon tea. Cloud 23 has recently launched a new afternoon tea menu called “Bubbles and Berries.” 

Served in the Zeus Lounge on the 23rd floor of the legendary Beetham Tower, with stunning panoramic views across Manchester, Bubbles and Berries is an Autumnal taste experience.

Glasses of Champagne arrived on a chunk of tree dressed with foliage, and the food was served on a stand with berries and twigs tucked away inside, all adding to the autumnal theme.


My friend and I are both vegetarian so a few of the options were substituted but here is the standard menu.



Mini bagel with cream cheese and beetroot cured salmon, caper berries

Caviar blini, pomegranate pearls

Ham and redcurrant croque monsieur

Butternut squash and manchego cheese quiche, plum chutney (v)



Chocolate dipped strawberries, freeze dried strawberry

Pink Champagne and blueberry jelly shot

Berry burst frangipane slice

Bellini curd part



With raspberry jam and Kir Royale clotted cream

£35 per person a glass of Champagne, plus unlimited tea and coffee

Our favourites were the vegetarian croque monsieur and the butternut squash quiche with plum chutney. 

We were also given the option of sipping on a hot chocolate rather than the usual tea or coffee, perfect with the dainty warm scones. 


We dined at 4.00pm, giving us the opportunity to watch a fantastic sunset from our elevated spot up in the clouds. 

“And the sun took a step back, the leaves lulled themselves to sleep and Autumn was awakened.” - Raquel Franco


Not quite ready to move on after devouring the afternoon tea, we asked our lovely waiter to fetch us some more bubbles, which arrived in a puff of smoke.


I’m not sure if it was the dry ice or the bubbles but we left feeling like we were floating in the clouds. 

Service was excellent throughout, our waiter explained to us that some days Cloud 23 serves up to 180 afternoon teas in a day. No wonder they do it so well! 

Bubbles and Berries is the tastiest and cosiest of ways to ease yourself into the crisp autumnal season. It is available until 12th November on the 23rd floor of Manchester’s famous Beetham Tower - 301 Deansgate, Manchester M3 4LQ.


Book in advance and make sure you ask for a window seat, the views really are incredible. Cloud 23 is an experience you won’t forget!

“It is better to have your head in the clouds and know where you are… than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think that you are in paradise.” - Henry David Thoreau

Nikki Beach, Mallorca

“Summer should get a speeding ticket”


Summer is all but over. But, there’s still time for one final trip… to Nikki Beach Mallorca. 


In 1998, entrepreneur Jack Penrod introduced the world to Nikki Beach, a luxury beach club that combines live music, dining and fashion into one. 


Today, the Nikki Beach concept has grown into a global brand in Miami, Florida, Saint Tropez, Saint Barth, Marbella, Marrakech, Koh Samui, Ibiza, Monte Carlo, Dubai, Versilia… 


Nikki Beach Mallorca opened in 2012. It includes a pool with views across the sea, indoor and outdoor dining and a private beach area. Located on one of Mallorca’s beautiful white beaches it is only a 20 minute drive from central Palma. 


It oozes luxury and has become a playground for the rich and famous, where Mallorca's ‘in-crowd’ can be found. Beautiful people bronze themselves on oversized sunbeds, sipping expensive Champagne poolside or dancing along to Nikki Beach's world-class DJs.

It is universally considered one of the best party venues in the world and has been called ‘the sexiest place on Earth.’ 


International DJs come from all over to play and there are regular themed parties and events like Ladies Tuesdays, Fiesta Fridays and Champagne Sundays (great name!)


When the brand opened the venue in Mallorca, it raised more than a few eyebrows since it is so close to Magaluf, but any doubts were quickly dispelled and it’s proven to be a huge success. 


The décor is beautiful. Laid back yet elegant. There are 50 sunbeds, 36 double beds and 10 opium beds. All have stunning sea views. 


Guests can enjoy bedside beauty treatments. For those lucky enough to arrive by Yacht, there is even a complimentary yacht pick-up service.


The beds are super comfortable and perfect to sink into until sunset. Service is fantastic so you’re never without a drink in your hand.


Poolside staff ensure that you don’t have to move much from your bed… unless the live entertainment gets you in the mood. On the day we visited there was a live saxophonist who got us all up dancing. 

“You were my cup of tea. But I drink Champagne now”


The most surprising thing for me (aside from the cost of the drinks… €24,500 bottle of Cristal Roederer Vintage Champagne, I’m looking at you!) was how delicious the food was.


Even if you’re not in the mood to sunbathe or party, the restaurant is still well worth a visit. 


The menu is Asian/fusion and you can either eat at your bed or in the restaurant area.


We opted for lunch at our bed and dinner in the restaurant while watching sunset. The sushi was the best I’ve ever tasted and I’ve been craving it since we visited.


Definitely a place to return to!

Gabrielle Chanel

"A woman who doesn't wear perfume has no future. - Coco Chanel


A couple of weeks ago I visited the Chanel Beauty counter in Selfridges Manchester. Makeup artist Lorna whispered to me while she was applying my eyeshadow, “you’re a Chanel girl aren’t you, I can tell… do you want to come to an exclusive Chanel event in a couple of weeks time?” No-brainer!


The event was to launch Chanel’s newest scent for 15 years, Gabrielle Chanel. Hype has been building since the French fashion house revealed plans for a new fragrance earlier this year, with the scent itself being kept closely under wraps until now. A new Chanel perfume is a once in a decade event!


The eau de perfume captures the rebellious and unconventional spirit of the founder of Chanel, giving us a glimpse of the woman behind the ‘Coco’ persona.

The brand describes, “Before she founded her House, Coco Chanel was Gabrielle. A rebel at heart, passionate and free, she fought to become the woman she wanted to be.”


It was developed by Chanel’s in-house perfumer Olivier Polges, who also created one of my favourite all-time fragrances, Viktor and Rolf’s Flower Bomb. I had high expectations. 


Upon arrival at the Selfridges VIP event last Thursday, I was whisked up a private lift into the personal shopping area. I was greeted by lovely Lorna who, along with some of the other makeup artists from the store, demonstrated the new autumn beauty collection before giving us a special preview of the perfume. 


Champagne flowed freely and canapés circulated while we listened to Nora from the Chanel fashion boutique in Selfridges. She spoke us through the iconic pieces from Chanel’s history. The tweed jacket, the pearl necklace, the 2.55 handbag and finally the new Gabrielle Chanel scent. 


Whoever said money can’t buy happiness didn’t know where to go shopping - Coco Chanel

Housed in a square glass bottle, the perfume looks similar to the iconic No.5., however, fellow Chanel geeks will notice that the Gabrielle bottle is much cleaner and is without the neck ribbon from No. 5.  It’s the thinest bottle to date and took the fashion house over 5 years to perfect.

We were allowed a quick spritz before the release on general sale the next day. The perfume smells as good as it looks. It’s pure floral, based on a bouquet of four white flowers: jasmine, ylang ylang, tuberose from grasse and orange blossom.

Much more feminine than No. 5, it isn’t overly heady so is perfect for daytime wear. 


"'Where should one use perfume?' a young woman asked. 'Wherever one wants to be kissed,' I said. - Coco Chanel 

A promotional film featuring actress Kristen Stewart and Beyoncé was also released to coincide with the fragrance launch. It shows Stewart breaking free from what appears to be a cocoon and dancing her way into a wall of Gabrielle bottles.

Thank you very much to Lorna and the rest of the Selfridges Beauty team for inviting me along to such a special event. 

You can purchase Gabrielle Chanel here.