Saturday, 21 November 2015

Event: Style Birmingham Live

Style Birmingham Live 2015 was held on the busiest weekend in the city's history. Ok that may not be a fact but it felt like it. On the same weekend that saw John Lewis and Grand Central open, the Birmingham Weekender, Rugby World Cup Fanzone and matches and more happening, I decided to take the stylish route and visit Style Birmingham.

Hosted by Mark Wright and stylist Mark Heyes, Birmingham Museum's Gas Hall was turned into a catwalk showcasing the best of AW15 trends.

The full list of trends shown is here:

Masculine Chic
Pastel 60's

Lavish Alice

American Heritage
Haute Hippie

Tweed with a Twist

Red Hues

Vintage Mix

Drama Queen


Winter Florals
Cutting Edge Fashion

80's Remix

There was also a hair tutorial demonstrated by Francesco Group hairdressers, where hair grips were used to create a head piece.

Not only did I get to watch the catwalk show, but I also visited the Backstage Beauty event at House of Fraser to see Amy Conway, Bobbi Brown Pro Artist for the UK and Ireland present her makeup masterclass.

Style Birmingham was so much fun, I can't wait for next year!

Friday, 20 November 2015

Win a Make Believe Self Tan Mist via my Twitter Competition

Guess what? I'm running a competition to win this Make Believe Self Tan Mist RRP £14.99 on my Twitter. Simply Follow @BellaRobot and Retweet to win! The competition is open to UK residents only and the winner will be drawn on Tuesday 24th November 2015.

Head over to my Twitter page @BellaRobot to enter :)

Friday, 13 November 2015

Event: The Liquor Store Womenswear Store Opening

The Liquor Store opened in Birmingham's Great Western Arcade back in 2012 and stocks quirky brands such as Redwing, APC, Filson and Norse Projects. Not content with just one store, the team decided to open a second womenswear store recently too.

I was invited to the launch and met up with some lovely bloggers to take a sneak peek.

An independent store, The Liquor Store is known for it's selection of denim and hard to find clothes and journals.

There are too many brands to mention stocked in the store but they do stock A.P.C, Levi’s, Lee, Folk Clothing, Levi’s Made & Crafted, Palace, YMC, WoodWood, Filson, Edwin, Nudie Jeans, and Red Wing.

The focus is on quality items that are affordable but not disposable. This isn't fast fashion and many of the brands stocked are heritage brands with a story.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Food Review: Wrath: Feel the Heat - Bodega Menu Tasting

Bodega is one of Birmingham's hottest hangouts, and it's not unusual to hear people suggesting dinner or drinks at the South American eatery. I've been here a few times for dinner, after work cocktails and even for New Year's Eve a while back.

However, I most recently visited Bodega following an invitation from Bitters N Twisted to try out the new menu at a special blogger event called, Wrath: Feel the Heat.

For a gluten free foodie, Bodega has left me feeling jealous in the past of the tasty burritos, tacos and nachos on offer that I sadly couldn't try. My go to dish has always been the chilli, but has Bodega come up trumps?

The bloggers took over the entire downstairs area of Bodega, Sugarloaf Bar, on a giant table, and once we were all in we were greeted by Vicky from Bitters N Twisted and given an introduction by the GM. There were margheritas ready too, which is a great way to start off an evening.

Next, it was buffet time. Out came a selection of dishes for us to try, some which were specially adapted to be gluten free and dairy free.

We tried mango salad, Brazilian Xim Xim with Dirty Rice and Veggie Tacos as well as a chocolate cake and white chocolate and mojito cheesecake for dessert.

Xim Xim was a new one for me, but turned out to be an African dish that was claimed by Brazilians. Mde with chicken and prawns, it's a nutty, curry like dish that tasted quite Carribbean to me and quite simialr to the Mo Bay Chicken dish at Turtle Bay. This was served with Dirty Rice which is flavoured with smoked paprika and was tasty and flavoursome without being overly spicy, as well as nachos (not gluten free!). I would definitely try this again.

The mango salad was very fruity and sweet with a lovely raspberry vinaigrette and pumpkin seeds too. This was pretty healthy but also really, really, tasty.

I finally got to try those tacos after all as Bodega now serves them in lettuce leaves for a gluten free option. We tried the option with black beans, avocado, sweet potato, pico de gallo and toasted pine nuts and this went down very fast!

Onto desserts, there was a very rich chocolate cake that appears on the menu as Pastal de Chocolate Pegajoso. This was incredibly rich and I'd recommend sharing this dessert. The cheesecake was also pretty thick and although lighter in flavour, was still quite a mouthful. The cheesecake is not gluten free but I did try the top, but I was so impressed to see that are now two gluten free desserts on the table, which is very impressive.

There were also plenty of traditional South American drinks on offer including Margheritas, Caipirinhas, Mojitos of course and even a Peach Sangria.

Marcel gave us the rundown on Mexican spirits, how mojitos cured scurvy, and on some of the 50 different types of tequila available. If he's around when you visit next, ask Marcel for the stories behind Cachaca and Tequila, I wouldn't want to hand out spoilers!

With not a burrito in sight, I was surprised to see such a variety of dishes on the table that were so different to what I had imagined. The new menu is to me, a real improvement and adds some variety to traditional dishes. I'd like to think that people are getting used to South American food and are ready to try more and be adventurous.

From a gluten free perspective, the menu is a real improvement and offers a lot more choice. The Xim Xim was a standout and there is much more provision to adapt dishes, such as the tacos, which is great. I for one can find it frustrating that dishes which are easy to adapt are often off the menu because of the inclusion of something which could easily be changed. For example, I'm happy to eat tacos in a lettuce leaf rather than not at all and this opens up the choices on offer for gluten free diners too.

Bodega, I'll be back and I won't be eating chill next time...I may even try the peach sangria again too.

*I was invited to dine as a guest of the restaurant. With thanks to Vicky at Bitters N Twisted and Brumderland

Monday, 2 November 2015

Review: The Club and Spa at The Cube, Birmingham

As someone who regularly eats out, whether to spend time with friends and family or to review venues for the blog, you would think exercise would be high on the list of priorities. Sadly, you'd be mistaken. Although I do enjoy the gym and exercise when I get the chance, I don't make time for it (naughty naughty).

However, when I was invited by the team at The Club and Spa to try out a personal training session and climbing wall experience, I dusted off my trainers and checked myself into the gym.

I was buddied up with Emma from Emma Victoria Stokes and together, we spurred each other on (read, dragged each other up from the floor).

First of all, we tried out the climbing wall and I was super excited to try something new. However, excitement quickly turned to fear, especially as the only way to get back down once you've gone high enough is to literally let go of the wall and trust in the ropes. Needless to say, I schrieked!

Our PT for the day, Connor, was amazing and helped us out with not just the safety and technical side of the experience, but also with lots of support and encouragement which really spurred us on.

Not only did we try climbing up the wall, we also did a traverse which is a sideways climb without ropes. This was my favourite part of the day and I would definitely try this again.

For members, use of the climbing wall is included in the membership. There are very few climbing walls in the area, so for anyone who likes climbing, it's a real bonus.

Next, we had our half hour PT session. I have never worked out with a PT and it was so much more fun having Emma with me :)

After a "warm up" on the rowing machines, we moved onto throwing stability balls and sled training. The stability ball exercise was all about lunging and throwing a giant ball at a basketball board, which was ok, but pushing the sled was a lot harder than you'd think, especially when required to crouch down to almost touch the floor.

Onto the battle ropes. I had never been acquainted with these two ropes, but I soon found out what I was in for. The first two ropes were big and heavy and we had to throw these to the ground so they made a very loud bang. The other two ropes were lighter and we had to move these up and down really quickly. This may sound easy, but trust me this my least favourite part of the session.

Lastly, we had a quick 10 minute spin battle on the bikes. Piece of cake right? By this point we were hot and sweaty, but my oh my, it felt good to be able to say I'd done something really productive with my morning!

Finally, we were able to wind down and use the spa facilities, including the pool, steam room, sauna and chill out rooms. There are also treatments available and a salt room for detoxing. I couldn't stay long so I lounged by the pool with a magazine, but hopefully I'll get a chance to go back for a full day soon.

We had a peek at the Champagne Nail Bar too whilst we were there, how luxurious!

The spa facilities were really good and I loved the mellow room with hanging chairs. The pool is more for relaxation than lengths and was busy when we went on a Saturday, but I can imagine it's quieter in the week.

So what did I think? Well, I can really say that I'd recommed getting a personal trainer if you're looking to shape up. It makes such a difference and it really helps to keep things interesting as it's so easy to fall into a routine with your workout. I'd also say that I thoroughly enjoyed having a training buddy! I've worked out solo for a while but it was so much fun to have Emma to share my pain with. I ached for days after around my shoulders and arms. The climbing was so much fun that I hadn't noticed how much effort it required but it must have done some good!

The Club and Spa is located in The Cube, Mailbox District, Birmingham, B1 1RN

*I was invited to The Club and Spa to experience a PT session, use of the climbing wall and spa facilities, complimetary.