I was lucky enough to be invited to the Bournemouth Gin Festival recently and I had a fab time with my lovely friend Amy.

The Art Deco glamour of the Pavilion Theatre and the soulful music of pianist Dan Burnett made the perfect setting for sipping on gin cocktails and eating street food.

Taquitos

I must admit I was a little bit overwhelmed by the vast selection of gins, and wandered around the room unsure of where to start. In the end we were tempted by the cocktail bar, and the awesome Sean mixed me the most delicious cocktail I’ve ever had.

  

Sean very kindly sent me the recipe for the Rhubarb Rumble. All you’ll need is:

50ml (double shot) of Edinburgh rhubarb and ginger liqueur
50ml Advocaat
50ml good quality, clear apple juice
A dash of rhubarb bitters and a squeeze of lemon.
Shake well and garnish with a rhubarb and custard sweet!

If you’re wondering what Amy had, she tried a Tipsy Rocket – a lovely sparkling cocktail that would be perfect to serve at a garden party or summer wedding! All you’ll need to make this is:

50ml Adnams Copper House Gin
50ml good quality apple juice
Squeeze of lemon
Shake well together and pour over ice. Pour (from a height, I’m assured this isn’t just because it looks cool!) 25ml of crème de cassis directly into the glass and top off with a generous glug of Prosecco. Garnish with a lemon wheel and two plump blackberries.

Next up we decided to have a couple of cheeky G&Ts. I tried a Welsh gin called Dà Mhìle. “This one has seaweed in, seems right up your street” – Amy knows me well!

I can’t say it was particularly seaweedy (seaweedesque?) but it had a lovely flavour. We were given a pairing guide and I was really impressed that each gin came with its own recommendation for both tonic and garnish.

I was very jealous of Amy’s drink. She tried Poetic Licence’s Picnic Gin, garnished with strawberry and served with Fevertree elderflower tonic. It was basically summer in a glass.

I didn’t actually realise Fevertree did so many different tonics, and I absolutely loved the elderflower one. A lot of people don’t like the strong taste of normal tonic, so I think this is a lovely alternative.

I was drawn to the fab stand for Brockmans Gin (seriously, they have the sexiest branding EVER!) and ended up having a great chat with the lovely Pip, who gave me a sample of their delicious gin, infused with blackberry and blueberry. It was light, fruity and a perfect summer alternative to regular gin.

I’ve been a big fan of Conker gin for a while now. They’re a Dorset-based company and their gin was the first one I actually really enjoyed. So when I saw they were launching their own coffee liquer I was so excited.

I can’t recommend this highly enough. Conker describes it as ‘espresso-driven’ rather than the usual sweet or creamy coffee liquers most people would be familiar with. It would make an ideal gift for any coffee-lovers in your life and I imagine it would make a lovely Christmas-time tipple.

Anyone who knows me knows I’m obsessed with Scandinavia, so obviously I had to try a Swedish gin. This (right) was Ragnarok, paired with regular tonic and garnished with…dill of course! Smooth and light, the delicate flavour of the dill complimented it surprisingly well.

The most triumphant moment of the night was, without a doubt, when Amy and I decided to try out the photo booth. Believe it or not, this was the best photo we managed (and we took A LOT!).

If you’re a gin-lover (and even if you’re not!), the Gin Festival is well worth checking out. Just make sure to eat a big lunch first – it’s impossible to make your way round the room without being lured in by the cocktail bar, or offered loads of free samples!

I was so excited when the lovely people at Bluebird Tea Co. contacted me to offer me some samples of their lovely new summer teas.  I’ve never been to one of their stores (you can find them in Brighton, Bristol and Tunbridge Wells), but I’ve heard good things from lots of people, including Zoella, who has raved about them in several of her vlogs.  I have to say, after trying some of their teas I can see why!

Never one to miss an opportunity to eat cake, I asked my lovely friend Julie if she’d like to have afternoon tea.  She went all out with lovely finger sandwiches, delicious homemade lemon and blueberry cupcakes and some tasty fresh fruit.  Not a bad way to spend an afternoon, right?

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Bluebird’s new flavours include Sangria, Strawberry Split, Red Velvet (OMG!), and Jelly and Ice Cream.  I was kindly given Sangria and Jelly and Ice Cream to try, but the other two sound incredible as well (I’m definitely ordering some of the Red Velvet!)

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I tried to get a bit arty with the tea leaves, though I’m not sure it worked too well.  But seriously, look how pretty they are!

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What I loved about the Sangria tea was that you can really see all the ingredients, in particular lots of lovely big chunks of dried fruit.  And it smelled absolutely gorgeous too, very citrusy and fresh.  It contains hibiscus, apple, rosehip, orange peel, coconut, pineapple, cardamom and lime peel.  I could definitely smell the orange and pineapple, and it made me think of summer holidays by the sea, and lovely warm balmy evenings.  I thought it kind of also smelled like jelly babies, but Julie wasn’t so sure!  Both teas can be enjoyed hot or cold, and we decided to try this one hot.

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IMG_20160617_150151 Blue kettle

It had a wonderfully fresh and tart flavour, and really did taste as vibrant and fruity as it smelled.  It wasn’t unpleasantly sour like some fruit teas I’ve tried, and we found it didn’t need any sugar.  Gorgeous, fresh and summery, this one was definitely a hit!  I look forward to trying it iced, I imagine it’s very refreshing.

So next we tried Jelly and Ice Cream, which I must admit I was more excited about of the two.  This one contains Rooibos tea (which I love!), coconut, strawberry, hibiscus, apple, elderberry, rosehip, vanilla, cornflowers and pineapple.  Doesn’t that just sound incredible?!  Smell wise, it didn’t wow me like the Sangria did, but oh my gosh it was delicious!

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We had this one iced, which we did simply by straining the tea over a cup of ice cubes.  It can be drunk with or without milk but we decided to go without.

Oh. My. Gosh.  This was divine.  So smooth and sweet, you can really taste the vanilla and strawberry.  It’s not too sweet though, and like the Sangria, it’s packed full of flavour.  So often I’ve bought fruit teas that smelled wonderful but tasted of nothing.  You definitely don’t need to worry about that with these teas.  I could really pick out all the lovely different fruit flavours, and it was a perfect balance of tart, sweet and smooth, just as you’d expect from jelly and ice cream.  A perfect drink to serve at a garden party or picnic, and a huge thumbs up from me.

After that, our lovely civilised afternoon took a bit of a turn when this little delinquent decided to gatecrash.

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Meet Mr T, Julie’s pet tortoise! Isn’t he sweet?

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I had such a lovely afternoon and the teas were a big hit.  There are so many other amazing sounding flavours I’d like to try, so I see a rather large order to Bluebird Tea Co. happening in the near future!  Julie was a big fan as well, and we both agreed that they’d make a lovely gift for any tea-lovers in your life.

Thank you so much to Julie for putting together such a gorgeous and Instagram-worthy spread.  And a big thank you to the lovely guys at Bluebird Tea Co. for sending me my very first blogger mail!  Being sent free tea- I’m living the dream, right?

Check Bluebird Tea Co. out here.