My Instagram Dilemma

For as long as I can remember Instagram has been my favourite social media platform.

I was one of the last people in my friend group to get an Iphone and when I did it totally changed my life. I attempted photography for the first time, found a love for capturing everyday life and, creating an Instagram profile helped my hobby to thrive.

When I first created Cake & Coast my followers kept going up and up and up but all of a sudden, I’m struggling to make it over 700 followers. 700 is a lot and I’m very thankful but, over recent months I’ve noticed so many tweets about the Instagram algorithm and it’s made me think.

Like all bloggers, I find it really disappointing to notice my engagement decrease on Instagram and my blog after a couple of days absent. The annoying thing is, I’m not not posting because I have nothing to say or because I can’t be bothered. It’s because I have a job. Sometimes I work 36 hours in space of 3 days and that means no social media for me. When I have the time/energy I schedule tweets but, I don’t always get around to it and then all of a sudden, goodbye 20+ followers.

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So, what am I doing about my dilemma?

I’ve only been writing since December last year and I’m trying to be kind to myself about the whole thing. I’m trying really hard not to stress and I hope the other little bloggers like me aren’t worrying too much either. It’s difficult because I want to continue writing and I want my blog to be somewhat successful but,I’m trying to adopt the attitude that it doesn’t matter if you have 100 followers or 1000.

Basically, as long as you enjoy the content you’re creating that’s really all that matters right?

I’m also slightly torn about how to improve my content going forward however, I’m trying to look at Instagram from a different angle. I’ll be sticking with my rustic Iphone photos for the time being and blog when I feel I have something I want to share.

It’s not possible for me to be doing more than I currently am and, I need to remember that I love my blog. It’s an ongoing hobby, something I’m still new to and I want to continue enjoying every moment of.

My hope is that people will read my blog, find my Instagram, see the joy I feel for writing and hopefully want to subscribe.

If you want to check out my content on Instagram and read about my latest life ramblings click here

By The Sea Shore

Where I feel at home.

I’m happiest when I’m swimming in the ocean, that’s a fact.

I crave the fresh sea air when I’m at my flat.

When I’m away from the water for too long I’m restless. My skin feels dry and I feel stuffy.

The sea is probably the only place I feel truly myself. I don’t know what it is exactly but, the freedom I feel from swimming is so relaxing and I’m so glad that I’ve been able to share that with my partner recently.

A couple of weeks ago I felt so carefree, full of joy and delicious food.

We didn’t know that life was about to become so much more stressful.

All of our worries at that time had escaped us, as we stayed in Cornwall soaking up the sun for almost an entire week, swimming at the beach, sunbathing, eating fresh seafood and catching up with old friends.

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Life has become much more stressful now but we’re both trying to manage it as best we can. All I can do is sit back, let it all wash over me and pray that the waters will calm soon.

Honestly though, nothing compares to living by the sea. I keep dreaming of having a home on the beach one day. Vast ocean and countryside views, big windows and that clean air. A place for my creativity in the kitchen and garden to thrive.

Pure bliss.

They say that living by the coast has so many health benefits too and, in a previous post I explore why I love this lifestyle so much. I’m not sure I’m feeling the full health benefits at the moment from my flat in Plymouth but, I know that the coast is only a short drive away and that makes me happy.

Overall, I think I can say that this has definitely been the best and worst Summer I’ve had in a long time. I know I’ll be sad when it’s over but I’m looking forward to the future and Autumn so much too.

Dirty Delicious Hubbox

Hubbox essentially is an American street food joint based in the South West.  At the moment you’ll only find them in St Ives, Truro, Pentewan, Plymouth, Exeter and most recently Bristol.

They take pride in their ingredients and have gone out of their way to ensure that their food is locally sourced. Their potatoes come from Cornish Potatoes, their meat Phillip Warren Butchers and their veg comes from West Country Fruit. All of their coffee and alcohol is locally produced too from various UK based companies including Cornish Orchards and Harbour Brewery.

I’ve eaten at Hubbox about a zillion times since they opened in Plymouth a couple of years ago and I have no complaints. Their staff are super friendly and I always look forward to going back. I just wish they were around when I was a uni student because I would have spent my entire student loan eating from their menu and felt so fat and happy doing so.

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Their current menu (which I hear is set to change soon) has lots of choice in terms of beef, chicken, fish and veggie burgers. They also serve hot dogs, nachos, mac n cheese and various types of chips. Honestly I think there’s a little too much choice because I never ever know what to order. Literally just because I know it’ll all be delicious and I don’t want to make a mistake.

So, what did we order you ask?

My boyfriend was a little hungover so he wanted to go all out whereas, my non hungover brain was just craving a big greasy burger. He ordered the BBQ tray which I would only recommend if you have a larger than life appetite. The tray includes beef brisket, pulled pork, fries, chicken wings, a frank (hot dog), pickles, slaw and onion rings (which I stole). I wanted something a little less complicated and I ordered the Kim Yum Chick BBQ chicken Korean burger with dirty fries.

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What are dirty fries you ask? Well, they are delicious I can tell you that much. You can ask for any type of fries from their menu and just ask to make them dirty, which means adding their Hub sauce mixed together with diced white onions and plenty of jalapeños. If spice is your thing you’ll love this sauce. It’s literally so mooreish and like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. I wish I knew how to explain the flavour better but I think it’s something you just need to experience yourself. If you’re unsure whether you’ll like it but want to give it a try, just ask to have some on the side and they’ll be happy to do so.

In terms of my burger, the best way I can describe it is like a really REALLY good KFC Zinger because it’s essentially a slightly tangy buttermilk chicken burger. Inside of their burger itself is a Korean BBQ sauce so you would expect a little kick of some Asian spices, which I didn’t really notice but that’s okay because it’s damn tasty regardless.

My boyfriend loved his meal but had to take a break because as you can imagine, it was really filling. I didn’t get to sample anything apart from the yummy buttermilk fried onion rings but he assured me that the tray was worth the £17.95 it cost.

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Overall, I just love the Hubbox ethos. I commend them for being able to make fantastic good quality food at a competitive price and, I appreciate the efforts they have gone to in order to support other local farmers and suppliers when creating their menu. They are a force to be reckoned with, a big competitor in the Plymouth burger industry. I think they are here to stay and us Plymouthians absolutely love having them.

If you’re ever visiting the South West I would highly recommend trying to track down a nearby Hubbox. Their food is seriously dirty and delicious in so many ways.

Check out their website and drool over their food at your leisure!

Supporting Local Cafe’s – Make

I enjoy venturing out and supporting independents whenever I can and, I’ve loved watching my hometown of Plymouth’s creative community grow in recent years.

With community spirit in mind, I visited Make recently to sample their homemade food thanks recommendations from my mum and sister. Make are based at  140 Vauxhall Street in Plymouth and their premise not only runs a cute cafe but, is used as a workshop for crafts including sewing and crochet. I’m not creative with fabric at all so I’m purely invested for the food but, their workshop space looked fantastic and if you’re interested in getting creative they have a calendar you can access on their website.

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Their cafe and workshop space is neatly organised to sit side by side and is completely void of clutter. The space feels so warm, inviting and well, really creative! From the minute I walked in the door I felt welcomed and couldn’t wait to try the food.

In an aim to show support I obviously had to sample a good variety from their menu including tea and coffee. I started off by drinking a lovely strong cappuccino whilst pondering their menu choices and changing my mind over and over again. Their menu is almost entirely vegetarian and vegan friendly you might be pleased to know, although they do have some meat options available too.

img_0050I almost ordered the brunch poached eggs on toast but at the counter was tempted by their savory muffins so instead, ended up ordering a cup of mushroom and thyme soup with a vegan olive and pesto muffin.

By God did I make the right choice! Their adorable mug of soup was delicious, not too heavy and the muffin was light yet filling as well. My sister ordered their cheese muffin too, which meant we could split them in half and sample each others with the soup. We both agreed that the olive muffin was the better choice but both were pretty tasty to say the least.

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After a much needed catch up I decided I wasn’t leaving until we had cake. They only had a few options available and I was hoping for a little bit more choice but honestly, I was pretty satisfied with my soup and any cake was going to be a bonus. I went for a yummy citrus orange polenta cake accompanied by lots of tea whereas, my sister chose their chocolate and salted caramel brownie.

My orange cake was really delicious but maybe a little too heavy after a big savory muffin (my poor choice not theirs) and the brownie looked pretty damn delicious too although, I didn’t sample it unfortunately.

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I used to work right around the corner from Make so I’m kind of gutted I didn’t ever visit sooner. Regardless, I’ll hopefully be going back in the near future and I might even bring my boyfriend if he’ll let me.

Their food in taste and presentation feels really special so if you’re looking to take a friend or relative out for a little something to eat I’d highly recommend Make. They’re more than just a cafe. They’re a real space to grow, get creative and enjoy good food.

Oh and, they’re also a dog friendly cafe! Which means, if you’re venturing out with your adorable doggo to the Barbican anytime soon you can stop for a little something to eat without a single worry.

If you love their food and their ethos they can also plan events including children’s parties, Hen Do’s and Baby Showers! You can find out more about all of their products, workshops and events by visiting their website https://www.makeat140.co.uk

Side note, it’s so incredibly important to support local retailers, cafe’s and other businesses alike whenever you can. Your support in buying their products and providing exposure through social media means an enormous amount. It’s particularly important when the weather is bad (e.g. recent snowfall) because businesses can really suffer more than you might realise.  They will see their profits change during good and bad weather and this impact can ultimately save or shut down your favourite.

So, I urge you to please still go out, visit your favourite independent or try somewhere new, making sure they stay afloat even when the weather is miserable. I promise it’s worth it if you want them to stick around.

Embracing ‘Me’ Time

Feeling snowed in?

On a freezing cold day in March, I’m able to reflect on my love for ‘me’ time.

When life gets busy and we feel stressed it’s easy to forget to look after ourselves. There are times in all of our lives when we won’t love ourselves as much as we should but, I’m learning to cope with my negative thoughts and enjoy alone time.

It’s important to let happiness and positivity in. Although, when things get really tough and happiness seems far away, we need to at least acknowledge our feelings and take time to heal in whatever way works for you.

For me, in order to function and feel good about everyday, I choose to spend one day a week at home or at least in my own company. I never feel guilty because the day is important to me. I need to recharge my batteries and I enjoy my solitude. It gives me time to process all of my racing thoughts and be calm. It’s particularly essential for me to keep my home and mind organised. Sometimes this slips but there are certain things I like to do to get life in order again…

I’ll wake up when I want and won’t set an alarm. I’ll take a relaxing bubble bath, put on a face mask and pamper myself. I’ll change into fresh pajamas and I’ll eat a nice breakfast, take my time and listen to the radio. I’ll tidy up, chill out on the sofa and catch up with my favourite Netflix show. In the afternoon, I might go for a walk or go out for lunch. I’ll rustle up a nice dinner and maybe try something new. I’ll get an early night, scroll on my phone and read a good book. Catch up with my boyfriend and fall asleep at peace.

I love these days.

I’m not being selfish or lazy, I’m just an introvert. I love the productivity I have when I’m all alone, seeing what I’m able to achieve when I’m in my quiet space. This blog for example!

“Introverts are collectors of thoughts, and solitude is where the collection is curated and rearranged to make sense of the present and future.” – Laurie Helgoe, Revenge of the Introvert

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I like to set time aside and stick to it yet, some weeks I might not need my day and on others I might need more than one. Sometimes, I cancel on friends because I’m not done recharging. It just takes as long as it takes and that’s why sometimes I flake out on plans but, reading Chloe Plumstead’s blog post about being the flaky friend reminded me that it’s okay to not be available all of the time. Good friends and family should understand and if they don’t then I just shrug it off these days.

Basically, lazy days are great, having the house to yourself is great and being your own best friend is great too.

It’s important to love ourselves inside and out, to understand what we need to feel good and to never ever forget that!!

Bill’s Bill’s Bill’s

Do you ever just walk into a restaurant and feel like you’re at home? Well, that’s how I feel about Bill’s Diner.

I had seen the restaurant being built on my route to work every morning, so I was really intrigued and looking forward to the day it opened. I wanted to see what all of the hype was about.

I’m all about supporting local businesses and I know, I know, that they’re a big chain restaurant across the UK but, to me that’s why I’m so impressed I suppose. From their well thought out breakfast, lunch and dinner menu’s to their great customer service and interior design, I’m in love. I feel comfortable, happy and invited every time I have visited the Plymouth branch (4 times so far to be precise), and I would forever recommend friends/family/anyone to visit their local.

They have been able to capture the art of an amazing laid-back approach to food and customer service, whilst being able to maintain a high quality. It’s simple really. Tasty food. Good pricing. Great staff. Warm atmosphere.

So let’s go through the food I’ve tried on my visits shall we?

My first trip to Bill’s was for my 25th birthday in November with my mum and sister. My sister had recently visited Bill’s for breakfast and encouraged us to make dinner reservations. I initially thought there was too much going on with the menu and that it seemed quite busy but, I quickly changed my mind when I found several things I wanted to eat right there and then.

So, I went for deep fried Halloumi sticks to share with my sister and the most amazing buttermilk chicken burger with apple slaw, sweet potato fries and Cajun mayo. I accompanied this with Bill’s own pink lemonade.

Overall, the burger was like something I had never tried before and it was really really delicious. Messy I might add though. You’ll most likely need a knife and fork for this one. Oh and, It was so good that I ordered it on my second visit to Bill’s too by the way.

I loved that the dish overall came with sweet potato fries and that you didn’t have to request them. I also loved the apple slaw. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect but it was really refreshing and even though they did use mayo, it didn’t bog down the dish and make it heavy. Oh, and Cajun mayo on the side! Who doesn’t love that.

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In the background you might be able to see my mums dinner. She’s vegetarian so she ordered a Calliflower steak with toasted fregola, roasted tomatoes and veggie gravy. She was very very impressed to say the least.

We even ordered dessert too. My family has a big sweet tooth! We shared their Baked Alaska but unfortunately I was so excited I completely forgot to take any photographs to show you. Rest assured, it was heaven though. If you like all things sweet and are willing to share it’s the perfect treat.

My third visit to Bill’s was another kind of celebration. It was the 28th December and I’d just taken a big step with my work.

I handed in my notice to pursue a new career.

With progression and wellbeing playing on my mind a lot towards the end of 2017 I had definitely made the right choice. So, I arranged for me and two close work friends to go for dinner to talk, celebrate and commiserate me leaving work at the end of Jan.

On the thought of trying things new and making big decisions, I ordered steak and peppercorn sauce for the first time. I had always wanted to try steak but was always a little cautious. I love beef burgers, lasagna, cottage pie etc so I knew I’d enjoy it but, the price had always scared me. I wanted to make sure that when I ordered it that it was perfect and I wouldn’t regret it. I felt confident on that day and decided I trusted Bill’s.

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I was initially a bit confused because I hadn’t ordered a flat iron steak and I had envisioned something more juicy but, it did the trick and was really filling. Now I can say that I like medium steak and will definitely be ordering it again whenever I get the chance.

In addition to our mains, we also had a champagne cocktail or two to celebrate change in 2018. My favourite cocktail was Just Peachy Bellini and Aperol Spritz pictured below.

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ALSO, we ordered desserts and I took a photograph this time. I wanted something a little less chocolaty which is unusual for me, so I went for the apple crumble and my friend ordered the chocolate brownie. Both good choices that left us feeling comfortably full and satisfied.

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Yesterday, I visited Bill’s again but for breakfast this time. I had heard some great things about their breakfast menu and was really excited to take my boyfriend there spontaneously. There was so much choice and all I knew was that I wanted a poached egg with something. I almost ordered the Eggs Benedict but last minute swapped to the veggie breakfast (great choice) but without the pesto roasted tomatoes.

The dish included one slice of toast covered in Guacamole and the other with tomato hummus, topped with two poached eggs, mushrooms and basil. This breakfast took me to my happy place. It was delicious and paired with a strong cappuccino, I felt great.

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I’m not vegetarian but I love vegetables and never ate much meat until recently (hence my curiousness about steak). Honestly, this is probably the best vegetarian alternative to a fry up I have seen in any restaurant, independent or chain. Usually there’s lots of egg options and veggie fry ups but they aren’t always very creative. This one felt uplifting. I wasn’t missing out because I wasn’t eating meat.

My breakfast yesterday has inspired me I suppose. I’ve never been a breakfast person and was always a fussy child when it came to food. If/when I do eat breakfast it’s always so dull and boring. Basically toast or porridge. Until 2017 I barely knew how to make a fried egg. Still don’t, not really. But, I’m willing now. I have found a love for eggs and hummus both together and as separate meals and the combination together made me very happy. I need to be more adventurous with breakfast in 2018 and I need to learn to poach an egg, else I’ll be visiting Bill’s every weekend for this breakfast.

So, there you have it. That’s my review on Bill’s! Generally just feeling really pleased to see such a huge chain like Bill’s come to Plymouth. Everytime I’ve visited it’s been super busy and every table around me has loved their food. It’s great to see Plymouth growing and getting the attention it deserves from Nationwide restaurants and shops.

So go check out Bill’s if you haven’t already. You’ll probably find something you like and will leave feeling all sorts of satisfied.