If you haven’t watched Queer Eye yet, do it immediately. I was a big fan of the original show, so of course I was intrigued about the Netflix reboot.

I quickly fell in love with the new Fab Five, and was surprised by how moving each episode is. It truly is a joy to watch, from start to finish. After binge-watching the whole series, I was left with a huge smile on my face and a tear in my eye (though I’ll deny this if anyone asks).

All the guys are awesome, but Antoni (the food and wine expert) was always going to be my favourite, because…well, he’s obsessed with food.

Oh, and he’s not bad to look at either.

Antoni

As well as being super sweet and a bit of a dork, he’s also the type of guy that makes you say, ‘that’s SO me!’ at least 15 times per episode. Here are just a few of the times he was relatable af.

When he showed he’s just a big ol’ romantic

http://michael-arden.tumblr.com/post/171310161843

Pretty much every time he saw a dog

http://fionapplesauce.tumblr.com/post/171734086324

When he was just a *tad* dramatic

https://tan-antoni.tumblr.com/post/171528516296/bloodycranberry-queer-eye-is-poetry

When a spectacular grilled cheese left him lost for words

http://pointedahead.tumblr.com/post/170949218712/when-your-food-finally-arrives-at-your-table-and

This is the man who declared he’s ‘never met a cheese he didn’t like’, after all…

Antoni in a cheese hat

When his face said what we were all thinking

http://michael-arden.tumblr.com/post/171054798391

I mean, really. Pickle juice?

When he confessed his love of a good bad smell

http://michael-arden.tumblr.com/post/171094168326/bonus

As my tweet below might suggest, I appreciate someone with a keen olfactory sense.

When he was just a big kid

https://bawling.tumblr.com/post/171036500348

I mean, it was  a pretty cool hat.

When he really, really loved chilli

http://extrajordinary.tumblr.com/post/171196’never met a cheese I987697/get-someone-who-feels-the-same-way-about-you-as

When he couldn’t quite handle AJ’s leather harness

http://extrajordinary.tumblr.com/post/171195824362/antoni-and-aj-in-leather-a-thrilling-saga

When he was just a big kid (part 2)

Riding a scooter

Happy birthday, Antoni!

Keep being your ridiculous self.

 

 

In case you don’t know this about me by now, I’m sort of obsessed with food. That’s why I’ve not only eaten at most of the restaurants in Bournemouth, but I’m fairly certain I’m qualified to share my recommendations.

Without further ado, here are my absolute favourite places to eat in Bournemouth.

Pizza

For pizza in Bournemouth, you absolutely can’t beat Da Mario or Baffi. Da Mario is run by a lovely Italian family and their pizzas are just out of this world. The restaurant itself is quite small and simple, but you’re always guaranteed a warm welcome, friendly service and incredible food. Great for a casual dinner with friends.

Baffi is a bit more stylish, with stripped back industrial decor and romantic lighting. As delicious as their main courses are, be sure to save room for a dessert pizza – they are sensational.

That being said, I had a starter, followed by a whole pizza, with a dessert pizza to myself afterwards, like an absolute boss.

Fish and chips

Living in a seaside town, I couldn’t really write a post about my favourite restaurants without including fish and chips, could I?

Without a doubt, the best ones in Bournemouth are from Alfie’s. All the food is delicious and cooked fresh to order. The chips are perfectly crispy on the outside and fluffy on the inside, and their batter is nice and light, not too greasy. Definitely give the pea fritters a go.

Sushi

Again, I’ve picked two places. Sushi ‘n’ Roll is a tiny little place on Westover Road, but their sushi is unbelievable. It’s all made fresh to order, there’s a fantastic selection and the price is reasonable too. I would highly recommend the Rainbow Roll and crispy prawn roll.

For more of an occasion, you can’t beat the Nippon Inn on Charminster Road. Again, a great choice of delicious sushi, as well as other lovely Japanese dishes, plus you can choose to eat in the traditional way – at a low table, sitting cross-legged. Note: You will need to take your shoes off, so not the best time to wear boots!

Oh, and I would highly recommend you try the black sesame or wasabi ice cream for dessert.

Thai

Thai food is one of my absolute favourites and in my opinion, the best place in Bournemouth has to be Koh Thai Tapas. Their Tom Yum soup is the best I’ve tried anywhere (it’s ridiculously good, trust me) and because the menu is tapas style, you get to enjoy so many different flavours and dishes. I mean, it’s a way to eat more Thai food, so of course it was always going to be a winner for me. The atmosphere is great and they also serve lovely cocktails.

Other than the soup, I can’t recommend anything else because you just have to try everything. Trust me. Dave and I once ordered so much food the kitchen had to stagger its release because it wouldn’t all fit on our table.

Indian

Winton Tandoori wins, hands down. Dave’s order is a lamb Bhuna and I normally go for an okra curry with cheese naan bread.

Amazing Indian feast!! #manvsfood #lbloggers Great night catching up with friends!

A post shared by Geek Magnifique (@geekmagnifique) on

Dosa World on Old Christchurch Road is great if you want to try something a bit different to your usual Indian. Their speciality is Dosas (as you probably could have guessed), a type of South Indian savoury pancake filled with curry. The food is really good value for money, tasty and filling, and great if you want to try something new.

Tapas

We have a few Spanish tapas restaurants, but the best one by far has to be Tapas Plus in the town centre. The decor is simple, but inviting, and the food is wonderful.

Two words: Fried. Cheese.

Yes please.

Chinese

When we want a takeaway there’s only one place we order from: Mr Rice. They do a great choice of Chinese and Thai dishes, and plenty for vegetarians too. Tofu can always be a bit hit and miss for me, but they cook theirs so nicely that I often find myself ordering it instead of meat.

Other recommendations include the Ha Gow (prawn dumplings – SO GOOD), Massaman curry and their spicy Thai soups. For dessert, you have to get the banana fritters. So freakin’ good.

Vegan

For wholesome and tasty vegan food (and the creamiest hot chocolate), it has to be Sukha Lounge. You can read my full review here.

Steak

The cocktails, food and atmosphere at Funki Griller are top notch. Plus, you can watch your steaks being cooked on a big screen, which is surprisingly quite fun.

Other favourites

Aruba is great for lunch with the girls. It’s right on the beach, does fabulous cocktails and there is something on their menu for everyone.

For really great pub food, fun cocktails, insane freak shakes and incredible desserts, Inferno on Holdenhurst Road is always a winner. They need to bring back their mac ‘n’ cheese toastie though – that beast was incredible!

For awesome breakfasts, you can’t do much better than Starz in Charminster. I always order the Eggs Royale – the poached eggs are perfect every time and they make the best Hollandaise.

Bosca Nova is a perfect brunch spot. They do great coffee, lovely fresh juices and have a lovely selection of delicious choices for vegetarians. You have to try one of their cakes too – they’re sublime!

And that’s how you do lunch. #latergram #lunch #avocadotoast #halloumi

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For the chicken lover who fancies a change from Nando’s, Chicken ‘n’ Blues in Boscombe does something called the Mac Daddy wrap – trust me when I say this should swiftly make its way into your face.

If you work in the Lansdowne area of Bournemouth there are a few great places if you’re looking for somewhere to buy your lunch. Naked Coffee does a great selection of veggie and vegan food, plus fantastic coffee. Also, their white hot chocolate is the bomb.

Sands2 is the place to go if you’re looking for tasty, filling sandwiches, soups and jacket potatoes. My favourite sandwich of theirs is the chicken, bacon and avocado. The staff are absolutely lovely too!

For gorgeous cakes and macarons, check out Le Petit Prince in Westbourne.

Lastly, check out Frieda’s Tea Rooms for the BEST red velvet cake you could hope to put in your face.

Hey guys, it’s just your old pal Mel, back with yet another post blithering on about pizza. What can I say, I’ve found my niche! I say niche, but it’s more of a cavernous expanse, given my rapidly increasing girth.

I visited The Stable in Poole a few years ago and was really impressed by the quality and interesting range of pizzas on offer.

The Bournemouth restaurant is a fair bit bigger, in a beautiful building overlooking the gardens. So far, so good.

I was offered a delicious mulled cider on arrival and taken upstairs, where I was blown away by how gorgeous everything looked.

Beth, our cider master (best job title ever!), introduced herself and brought over paddles of ciders to try. She was so knowledgeable and talked us through the different flavours and production methods, as well as a bit of background on some of the local farms.

We took notes as we went along so that we could rate our favourites at the end. Beth also brought out a bottle of her disgusting old ‘Crusty Cupboard’ cider, to demonstrate what off cider tastes like. I wasn’t brave enough to taste it, but it smelled awful!

Halfway through, we took a quick break from cider tasting, as the pizza was brought out.

I must admit, I’ve never really eaten vegan cheese, but these pizzas were so delicious I made a mental note to pick up some Bute Island mozzarella ‘cheese’ to have as a nice change once in a while.

This is what happens when you bring food out to a roomful of bloggers!

By now, we all had the taste of pizza in our mouths, and had tried quite a few different ciders, so we tried a nifty little trick Beth taught us earlier on in the night. When we sat down we all noticed that we had a cup of coffee beans next to us. Beth explained that sniffing the beans helps ‘reset’ the palate so that you can take in new flavours again. A very interesting little trick!

Not only was this an evening of great food and drink in a beautiful setting, but it was very interesting and informative too. Beth was fantastic, running through everything in a fun and engaging way, while answering any questions we had.

The Stable offers cider tasting evenings, which start from £15 per head. If you know someone who loves their cider, I would highly recommend treating them to an evening like this. Great value for money and a bit more interesting than just your regular night out at the pub.

Me and Ewelina

Because it would appear I’m becoming known as somewhat of a pizza aficionado (finally, my talents are getting the recognition they deserve!), the lovely people at The Wood Oven invited me along to their blogger event last year.

Pizza box

Perfectly situated on Boscombe beach (seriously, you couldn’t ask for better views!), The Wood Oven is part of the Urban Guild group of restaurants. I’ve been to all the others and they are wonderful; I highly recommend the breakfasts and Sunday roasts at the Urban Beach Hotel.

The group’s founder, Mark Cribb, gave a really interesting talk about the inspiration behind his restaurants and three things became clear:

  1. He’s incredibly passionate about hospitality and bringing people together over great food and drink
  2. His menus all centre around great locally-sourced food and home-grown produce
  3. He absolutely loves what he does!

I think that last point is crucial to his success. Nothing is more inspiring than seeing someone talk passionately about a business they’ve built from absolutely nothing, and learning what drives them.

He also went on to explain the reason behind the company’s logo – a pineapple, which is dotted all over their restaurants, menus and marketing materials.

Apparently the pineapple is a well-known symbol of hospitality, though embarrassingly, I worked in hospitality for three years and had no idea! Back in the day, when pineapples were expensive and hard to come by, if a host served one at a party it was seen as a sign of opulence. Their eye-catching appearance soon inspired door-knockers, banister acorns and other home ware – seriously, you’ll start to notice that they pop up everywhere! Even today, you’ll no doubt have seen all manner of pineapple accessories – lamps, vases, trinket boxes. Now it all makes sense!

Mark then handed over to his head chef, who ran us through the basics of pizza making. He also showed us photos of his research trip to Italy. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to do it, eh?

Pizza chef

I watched and listened as his showed us the best way to knead and stretch the dough. Easy, I though to myself. I’m going to be a pro at this.

Um…it turns out I wasn’t quite the natural I thought I would be.

Several attempts and two balls of dough later, I gave up and decided to embrace my failings. The result:

Say goodbye to boring round pizzas and enjoy a spot of f(el)ine dining with the Geek Pizzafique CAT PIZZA.*

I mean, look how cute! It has herb whiskers and a mushroom nose, for crying out loud!

Sure, the others tasted really good, but were they cat-shaped? Nope.

We took our marvellous creations down to the kitchen and prepared to be pitted against each other in the ultimate test of creativity and culinary aptitude. I suspect I won more points for the former, but really, who wouldn’t want to eat a meowzzarella (thank you, I’m here all week), anchovy, rosemary and pawperoni pizza?

After the winners were announced (shockingly, I didn’t make the top three), we rounded off the evening with a cupcake decorating class, hosted by Urban Reef’s resident baker.

All in all, it was a lovely evening, and though I didn’t win a coveted guest spot on the Wood Oven’s menu, after a playful (and somewhat aggressively rigorous) campaign of harassment on Twitter, I managed to persuade the guys to put my glorious cat pizza on their specials menu.

Winner winner, kitten dinner**.

So, if you find yourself in Bournemouth and have a hankering for pizza, these guys are definitely worth checking out.

* Does not contain actual cat

**Again, I must stress, there are no actual cats in this pizza

 

I’m probably going to get very emotional writing this.

If you follow me on Twitter, or have read some of my older posts, you may know that I was in a bit of a crap place last year. I was having counselling, a relationship breakdown pushed me to see my GP and start taking antidepressants, and my life just wasn’t looking how I wanted it to. But by the end of last year I’d started to turn things around for myself. I finally found a job I loved, as a social media executive, and I’m so grateful for my time at that company. It helped me realise my potential, challenged me creatively, forced me out of my comfort zone and showed me just how much of a difference working with great people can make. I made friends there, both human and canine, and genuinely used to look forward to Monday mornings. The office felt almost like a second home to me and I still miss it sometimes – more on that later.

I went into 2017 feeling excited about the future

I normally hate New Year’s Eve. I don’t know why, but it always makes me feel a bit miserable. NYE 2016 was different though – I was happy with the way things were going and had so much to look forward to. Quite honestly, antidepressants were making the world of difference to me as well. I felt energised, fired up and unstoppable. I felt motivated and finally after a long, long struggle, like myself again. I knew the upcoming year was going to be an exciting one, for many reasons. Of course, there have been some unexpected curve balls and low moments, but I’m proud of myself for coming out the other side of those challenges stronger than ever. So here goes, my highs (and lows) of 2017 so far:

Copenhagen, January

My in-laws very (extremely!) generously treated me and Dave to a trip to Denmark for Christmas. We had such a wonderful time, stayed in a beautiful hotel, ate incredible food and did loads of sight-seeing (including a very wet, chilly river tour!).

We saw the Queen of Denmark!

The amazing view from our hotel.

Definitely DID NOT giggle at this.

We feasted on Gordon Ramsay’s delicious eggs at the airport.

We spent most of the holiday as a family, but Dave and I did go out for one date night, which was so lovely. It was close to our 10 year anniversary, so we had a cheeky toast. We went to Sticks ‘n’ Sushi at the top of the Tivoli Hotel, where the food was unbelievable, and the view from the rooftop bar so breathtaking it brought me to tears. An incredible night.

I also enjoyed eating ALL THE PICKLED HERRING, admiring the very handsome concierge (who had, quite honestly, the most incredible cheekbones I have EVER seen), and trying Finnish gin (amazing!) and smørrebrød.

We visited the most beautiful department store (sorry Debenhams, the Danes have got you beat!) and I bought so much weird and wonderful Scandinavian candy. The plan was to film a video of me and Dave trying it all, but I chickened out so have just been tweeting #ScandiCandy updates. I haven’t been brave enough to try the salty liquorice yet though…

Another funny little highlight of the trip was when I approached the very grumpy-looking man at border control, who eyed my passport very suspiciously (seriously, I was starting to sweat), for what felt like hours. Finally, he looked up at me, smiled and said, ‘Boyle, right? Any relation to Susan?’ before chuckling merrily at his own joke.

My blog

This wee little corner of the internet has opened up some amazing doors this year, and helped me meet so many great people. I’ve recorded podcasts (terrifying at first, but I feel like I’ve got the hang of them now), written for Metro, eaten A LOT of free pizza (arguably a career highlight) and enjoyed meeting so many people from the MH blogging community at the #TalkMH meet up in April. Perhaps most excitingly of all, I’ve been offered a book deal. I know, it’s crazy right? Who knew, when I started this little blog back in May 2015, where it would lead?

Losing my job

Right, it’s time for a low. Nothing could have prepared me for the awful moment my boss took me into the meeting room and told me I wouldn’t be carrying on with the company. I listened numbly, trying to make sense of his words and not really believing them. I made an impassioned, tearful plea, unwilling to accept what he was telling me; it was so sudden, so unexpected. I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach. The following day passed in a blur or tears and feeling very, very sorry for myself. Two days after I was let go I went back into the office for my final day. I packed up my desk, spent most of the day playing table tennis, and cuddled Maggie for about 10 minutes while crying into her fur (I still miss her, so much).

Maggie and Me

My colleagues were lovely; they got me a card, gave me loads of hugs, took me for a coffee at lunchtime and for drinks after work. I left knowing I’d made some great friends. I’d never experienced working somewhere I really loved before, and the pain of losing my job was honestly akin to a break-up. Removing myself as admin from our social media accounts felt like changing my relationship status back to single. I still get a little pang of sadness when I see posts of my old colleagues at the office. The couple of months afterwards were a truly shit time. I ate a lot of crap food and sherbet Dip Dabs, and put on a stunning amount of weight. But then…

Getting a new job…

In July, after several interviews, a few promising opportunities and a bit of freelance work, I finally found a job as a copywriter. Sadly though, it took all of about five days before I realised it wasn’t going to be the job for me. I had a decision to make – stay and try to stick it out, or quit before they’d invested too much in me. I went for the second option. A social media position in a company very similar to my last one came up, and it seemed like a sign. Two interviews later and the job was mine.

I felt awful handing in my notice so soon after starting, but I knew I had to do what was best for me.

…and then another one!

I’m back where I want to be, working in marketing again. I love it here – the people are great, the job is exciting and I’m so glad I took that risk.

Welcoming Marty and Plum to the Boyle family

If you follow me on Twitter you’ll definitely have seen at least one or two (hundred) photos of my beautiful kittens. They’re a pain in the ass, but I love them so much. When I’m all snuggled with Dave and the cats on the sofa, I genuinely can’t believe how lucky I am. Or when Marty wakes me up in the morning with a little nose kiss and snuggles under the covers with me – MY HEART. They bring me so much joy.

Marty and Plum

Cornwall, July

Dave and I rented a gorgeous little house on a farm, with two of our best friends and spent a few days exploring Devon and Cornwall. We went back to the Eden Project, celebrated Julie’s birthday, took many trips to Morrisons, hired a pedalo (much more hard work than you’d think!) and ate loads of great food. We also tried our hand at herding sheep, with surprising success!

View

The view from our cottage.

Moving house

You might remember, a long time ago, I announced that we’d found our dream home. Well, it turns out, not quite. In fact, the second house we came very close to buying didn’t end up being our dream house either, despite having a perfect little Wendy house in the garden for Josh. But you know what they say, third time’s the charm. I couldn’t be happier in our new home, it’s honestly like a dream come true. I’ve turned it into a bit of a Christmas grotto, as I always planned to. Sadly, we had to do away with the second Christmas tree as someone couldn’t quite contain himself.

Marty in the Christmas tree

Closure

Some pretty big stuff came to a head this summer. I was able to finally close the door on a huge and horrible chapter of my life; it was a strange feeling. To an extent I found closure and acceptance, though there is still a slight, simmering anger beneath the surface that won’t quite fade. I know this is all very vague, but I will be delving into the whole mess in my book (damn, that feels so weird to say!). For now, all I will say is that it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever done and I am ridiculously proud of myself for keeping a cool head and getting through it like a damn boss.

So there we have it

What a year! I’m so excited see what 2018 brings…and to kick some ass!!