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I’m Committing Fraud and Somehow Getting Away With It

I’ve recently started a new job, straight out of university. All of my friends have been using the words “adult life” and “grown-up job”, and I can’t help but be freaked out by them. I’m twenty-two years old and I’m an adult now, a proper, real, full-blown adult with a 9-5:30 salaried (not hourly wage) job in an office with other real adults. It feels great to be earning money and not having work to do when I get home at the end of the day, but the problem lies with the fact that I just don’t feel like an adult. I feel like I’m playing a game of dress-up in the adult world, pretending to be a grown-up and half getting away with it.

To put it simply, I feel like a fraud. It’s like I’m an impostor and sooner or later someone with call this little girl out on her masquerade. There are so many things that make me feel this way, from rather large aspects of my life to the more trivial moments that happen every day.

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My clothes don’t match.  This is an issue that I have had for my entire life (or at least while I’ve been buying my own clothes), and one that has followed me into adulthood. I have an entire wardrobe full of trousers, tops, dresses, jackets and shoes that simply don’t match. I feel like real adults know how to buy clothes that go together and can form outfits, a skill I most certainly am lacking.

I wear Converse for everything. Along similar lines as the previous point, I just don’t have good shoes. I wear Converse for practically everything, unless it’s warm enough, then I wear my flip flops 24/7. I have one pair of black flats for work, but besides this, I have three pairs of Converse that I swap and change depending on my outfit (and that could all do with a good wash). Shouldn’t a grown-up have shoes that work in all situations and for all occasions?

How do you buy a house or rent a flat? Recently at work, quite a few of my colleagues have been discussing flat and house renting, and I quickly realised that I know not one iota of knowledge on how you go about acquiring housing as an adult. What is a credit check? And why do you have to pay so much money for them? Life is full of mysteries, only ones that proper adult humans know about.

Daddy drives me to work. In my defence, we travel to work together because we work for the same company in the same office, but it doesn’t make me feel any less child-like to have my dad take me to work and pick me up at the end of the day. I guess it’s what real adults call ‘carpooling’ or ‘lift-sharing’, except it doesn’t feel like that because it’s with my dad. (Not that I don’t appreciate it – thanks daddio!)

My handbag is bright and flowery. I bought it in a recent trip to Bicester Shopping Village, and it’s beautiful. It’s from Cath Kidston and is blue and lovely, but it only ‘goes’ with certain items of clothing. I can’t truly consider myself a proper adult until I have a bag that goes with everything, can I? Like a black leather one. My mum always used to have a plain black leather Radley handbag – I feel like this is a solid adult bag, pretty much the opposite of mine.

I’m 22 years old. I’m still young, I still feel like a child. I don’t feel a day older than I did on my 16th birthday, and that was six years ago, and this whole point is the cause of this unease and sensation of being a fraudulent adult. Technically, I’m a woman now and not a girl, but ‘woman’ just sounds too old for how I actually feel and I feel like a baby compared to all the real grown-ups in my life.

Despite all these points, I am somehow managing to pass as a real adult human. No-one has outed me in front of everyone as the little girl that I feel like I am. No-one has told me to wipe off my makeup and swap my copy of 1984 for The Very Hungry Caterpillar, because on the outside, I am an adult. I have a job and loan repayments to make (boo) and taxes to pay (boo) and I get official letters from important people. And while I understand that being an adult has no true definition or rules or directions to follow, the fact that I even feel like a fraud to begin with kind of shows that I’m still living with a semi-childish outlook on what it’s like to be a grown-up to begin with. That and the fact that I still use the word ‘grown-up’.

Wouldn’t like be so much easier if there were a handbook on adulthood? What would you include in it? Let me know in a comment, a tweet or a Facebook post!

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Ráday Street | Ráday Utca

Staying in the Pest side of the city meant we were already close to all of the main attractions and a lot of great spots to get food, but our trip was made instantly better by the fact that our AirBnb was situated in a street just off the famous Ráday Utca (Ráday Street).

Ráday Utca was a godsend during our stay, purely for the fact that it was lined on both sides for 1/3 of a mile with restaurants and cafés and ice cream shops and corner shops a and kebab shops, and even a little area of street food. We ate at places on Ráday Utca most days during our stay as it made for easy lunchtime eating. Thirty seconds walk from our apartment and we were on the street, so why waste that opportunity!

Our stand-out favourite was Mamo Gelato, a great little gelato shop that we frequented quite a few times. For our first meal on our first night in the city we went to Vörös Postakocsi and checked out the rest of the street. Later on in the week, Jasmin and I went to Manga Cowboy for some amazing burgers, all of us went to Papir Tigris for noodles (and I ended up getting some divine kimchi fried rice), and a few of us went to a place called Púder which looked amazing and had a really cool vibe, but whose food was a little disappointing for me. I ordered the parmesan and duck risotto, but it was super salty and the duck was really tough, and for dessert I had ile flottante (a favourite from my time in France) but it was boring and nothing-y. It left me wishing we had gone back to a wonderful place called Angelo where I had the best carbonara I’ve ever had in a restaurant!

Ráday Utca has a place to eat for everyone, from Mexican-style kebab food to Italian restaurant, ice cream parlours and even a Michelin guide restaurant. It’s perfect for lunch or for dinner, and in the warm summer weather you can enjoy your meal outside on the terraces of the restaurants! You can get to Ráday Utca by taking the Metro line 3 or 4 or the tram 47, 48 or 49 to Kalvin tér which is situated right at the top of the street.

Do you know any great places to eat in Budapest? Let me know in a comment, a tweet or a post on Facebook!

Read more about my trip to Budapest!
Budapest is the Buda-Best!
Budapest Great Market Hall | Nagyvásárcsarnok
Széchenyi Thermal Baths | Széchenyi-gyógyfürdő

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What I Wore | My Grad Ball

A little over a month ago I was nursing one of those ‘up-all-night and awake too early’ hangovers that I’ve experienced probably too many times in my life and will no doubt experience many more times to come. “Why?” you ask? (Let’s face it, you probably don’t, but I need a good segue into the post.) I was my Grad Ball!

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As I mentioned in my post a little while ago about my life changing a lot recently, I finished my university degree back in late May, and at the end of the month I and all the other final year students celebrated with our Grad Ball. It was held at the ICC in Birmingham and consisted of a meal with entertainment, and two after parties (of which I attended one – new heels don’t like after parties, it seems).

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But enough about the event, more about the dress! I’m a bit of a keen bean when it comes to getting all dolled up for a fancy event, so I started casually looking online for dresses in about February time. I went to the shops at Easter with my mum and tried on a load of dressing, falling in love with an amazing polka-dot number from Coast at Debenhams, but my budget didn’t allow for an almost £200 dress! So I went home, knowing the style and length I wanted, and spotted this dress on Asos, of all places!

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When it first came, it seemed so much brighter than it did in the photo online, and I wasn’t sure if it wasn’t a bit too much! But I hung it on my wardrobe so I would see it every day, and it didn’t take me long to fall in love with it! Also, IT HAS POCKETS. That’s a winner in my books!

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I paired it with some rose gold strappy heeled sandals also from Asos, an absolute bargain at £6 rose gold clutch bag from Matalan, the cutest white flower dangly earrings from Accessorize and a pretty little blue gem necklace gifted to me a few years ago . I piled my hair on the top of my head and stuck a load of hair grips in it, leaving a few bits down at the front, and I even put false eyelashes on (first time ever! Thanks Jasmin xoxo).

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With my wonderful crazy friends!

I felt so lovely and summery and I received a lot of compliments both in photos and in the photos I posted to my Facebook. I even had a friend’s mum say I looked ‘exotic’! With most other people wearing black and navy, or quite plain dresses with their hair immaculately styled, I definitely stood out from the crowd with my colourfully cacophonic dress and messy curly hairdo!

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The morning after the night before.

In all, it was a wonderful event and I had so much fun celebrating with (almost, looking at you Nathan!) all of my friends that I’ve spent the last four years of my life with. And I feel no shame in saying that I felt amazing, even when my feet were screaming at me in my new heels and I had to take out my contact lenses and put my glasses on!

Do you enjoy getting dressed up? What did you wear to your Grad Ball? Let me know in a comment, a tweet or a Facebook post!

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Mischief Managed! | Harry Potter Studio Tour

It was on my 7th birthday that I got my first ever Harry Potter book, the first book in the series – Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Since then, 15 years ago, I have been a part of the Harry Potter fandom, following every step of the journey. So when the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour opened in London in 2012 I was so excited to visit, and I finally got the chance last Tuesday!

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For me, the most magical moment is at the very start, after you watch a little video about the creation of the film series and…I shan’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t visited, but those of you who have been will know what I’m talking about! Besides that part, my highlights were seeing all the wigs, Dumbledore’s office, the scene with Nagini and all the Death Eaters sat around the table in the Malfoy Mansion, going inside the newly opened no.4 Privet Drive and seeing all the letters, bowing at Buckbeak and of course seeing the model of Hogwarts!

On a related side note: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the first book of the series, came out 19 years ago yesterday!! Happy belated Birthday HP1!!

And now I shall leave you to just a few (read: quite a lot) of the photos I took during my visit, as my words can do it no more justice!

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Are you a Potterhead? Have you been to the studio tour? Let me know your favourite part in a comment below, a tweet or a post on Facebook!

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Széchenyi Thermal Baths | Széchenyi-gyógyfürdő

Budapest is famous for its spas and public baths, and the most famous of all are the Széchenyi thermal baths and spa, situated to the north-west of the city centre. At over 100 years old it is quite a ‘young’ bath, in comparison with Király and Rudas baths which were built in the 16th century. It is, however the largest thermal bath in Budapest and the largest medicinal bath in the whole of Europe!

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There are 18 different pools at the Széchenyi baths, including three outdoor pools, and all are of different temperatures and water compositions. The water supply for the baths comes from a hot spring which contains calcium, magnesium, hydro-carbonate, sodium, sulfate, fluoride and metaboric acid. It is said to have therapeutic properties for degenerative joint diseases and arthritis, and can help in orthopaedic and post-accident treatment. As well as the baths, there are steam rooms and saunas, and a jacuzzi and whirlpoool. There is also a massage facility that also offer pedicures, and aqua fitness classes on offer.

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The outdoor pool for swimming lengths

On the third day of our Budapest trip we took took the tram and metro out to the Széchenyi baths. We spent a good four hours (at least!) trying out all of the different pools, and when I say all of them I mean all of them! We went into every single pool in that place without fail. We also enjoyed the proper sauna experience – going from the 40 degree sauna straight into the 20 degree pool! It was a shock to the system, but afterwards we felt so relaxed. My favourite part was the outdoors geothermal pool which sits around 38 degrees centigrade. It was nice to sit in the water on the steps and relax, people watch, and watch the old men playing chess – yes, there are chess boards in the pool! I think it says a lot about how much we enjoyed it that when we arrived it was full daylight but by the time we left (as you can see in the photos) it was starting to get dark!

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So what do you need to take? Technically, you could go to the baths with only your money and get away with it. There is a small shop that sells swimwear, there is a towel hire facility, and the cheapest ticket includes locker hire. But of course, I recommend that you take your own swimming costume and towel, and also a swimming hat if you want to go swimming in the outdoor lengths pool. Taking all of these with you will keep the price down, but you can buy all three there if you forget one or want to travel light. On another note, there is a café at the baths which is not badly priced. They serve sandwiches, cakes and hot and cold drinks, but again if you want to do the day cheaply then I recommend you take your own food.

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The ticket I bought was the day ticket with a locker which cost me 4700HUF, around £10-£11 at the time (June 2016). This was well worth it, meaning we could stay as long as we wanted! To get to the baths you can take the metro line 1 to the Széchenyi fürdő stop, or you can take the number 72 trolleybus. For all the information on other ticket prices and the spa treatments they offer, you can visit the official baths website.

I highly recommend the Széchenyi thermal baths to anyone travelling to Budapest! They are a great way to relax and enjoy an experience that you might not be able to have in your home country. I know we certainly don’t have baths like this in the UK!

Have you ever been to a thermal bath? Would you like to go? Let me know in a comment below, send me a tweet or drop me a post on my Facebook page!

Read more about my trip to Budapest!
Budapest is the Buda-Best!
Budapest Great Market Hall | Nagyvásárcsarnok
Ráday Street | Raday Utca

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Budapest Great Market Hall | Nagyvásárcsarnok

Located right next to Szabadság híg (that’s Liberty Bridge for all us non-Hungarian speakers), the Great Market Hall of Budapest, also known as Central Market Hall, is the largest and oldest market in the city. It was built in 1897 and has been renovated a few times throughout the 1900s to be restored to it’s full potential after being severely damaged and abandoned during both the World Wars.

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The market itself is located on two floors with a basement level housing an Aldi supermarket. The ground floor consists of majority fruit, vegetable, fresh meat and Hungarian salami stalls, as well as some other stands selling paprika and other spices, pickled foods and Hungarian alcohols.

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The upper floor is a balcony level that goes round the outside of the hall with a couple of walkways across the centre of the room. On this floor you can find all the tourists and all the souvenirs you could possibly imagine. Shot glasses, postcards, keyrings, spoons, paprika scoops, plates, bowls, salad servers, jewellery, Hungarian traditional clothing, curtains, statues, chess sets, bottle openers, dolls, wooden children’s toys, baseball caps, knockoff handbags – you name it, they had it up there on the second floor!

Also on the balcony floor you can find a café serving traditional Hungarian foods, as well as a whole host of fresh food stands with benches for eating at. The second time we visited, my friend Sophie and I shared a traditional lángos (pronounced langosh), covered in cheese, cucumber, sour cream, some sort of pickles and various other edible adornments. You could also get sweet lángos which looked divine and I was eyeing up, but I was unfortunately too full to eat one.

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The Great Market Hall is the perfect place to visit to wander round if you have a spare afternoon, or if you want to buy something to take to your friends or family back home. I bought some little wooden traditional doll keyrings for my siblings and some paprika for my parents. I also bought myself a beautiful amber and silver ring, in keeping with my (relatively new) tradition of getting a ring in each country I visit.

 

Have you ever been to the Great Market Hall? What is your favourite thing about markets? Let me know in a comment below, send me a tweet, or drop me a line on my Facebook page!

Read more about my trip to Budapest!
Budapest is the Buda-Best!
Széchenyi Thermal Baths | Széchenyi-gyógyfürdő
Ráday Street | Ráday Utca

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Budapest is the Buda-Best!

Being on a seriously restricted student budget this year, I’ve not been able to travel at all, so it has been almost a year since my last trip abroad. That is, until I went to Budapest last week! I went for a 7-day break with some of my closest university friends to celebrate completing our four-year-long university degrees, and I had such a fab time!

With seven days, we could visit all the main attractions and got to sample the notorious food and nightlife, so we got a pretty well-rounded taste of the city! I went to Parliament on the banks of the Danube river, the Jewish Quarter and its many bars including the famous ruin bars, Central Market Hall for its traditional food and many tourist souvenirs, Castle Hill and Buda Castle, Margaret Island and various other parts of the city. My absolute highlight was our afternoon at the Széchenyi thermal baths, where we spent a whopping four and a half hours turning ourselves into wrinkly (but relaxed) prunes. We stayed in an AirBnB apartment just a few steps from the well-known Ráday Street where you can find all the food you might want ever, including traditional Hungarian restaurants, street food, and a Michelin Guide recommended restaurant!

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Over the next few weeks I will posting all about my time in Budapest including lots of information about all the individual sights and attractions, so keep your eyes peeled if it’s a city you’ve ever wanted to go to! Even if it’s not, there will be lots of pretty pictures, so stick around! Expect lots of exclamation marks. They are my favourite piece of punctuation next to the comma, and they come out a lot when I’m excited about what I’m writing! (Case in point.)

Until my next post, check out my Instagram (@hannahinternational), where I posted a whole bunch of photos during my time in the city, and will be posting even more now I have sorted out all the photos from my camera!

Have you ever been to Budapest? Would you like to go? Let me know in a comment on here, or send me a Tweet or a message on Facebook!

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Life Update: I’ve Finished University!

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I’ve finished university! Can you believe it?!

It’s taking a while for the fact that it’s all over to settle in, but I’m definitely enjoying my new-found freedom now that all my classes, assignments and exams have come to an end. As expected, I’ve found that I am significantly less stressed (at least about university matters), but unexpectedly I have found my days fuller than ever – of the eight days that I have been uni-free, I have had zero plans on only two of those days! I’m tired from doing so much stuff all the time, but I’m enjoying it so much and definitely feel like I deserve this break after four years of work.

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First post-university beer…about 30 minutes after the end of my last exam!

In the past couple of weeks I have consumed copious amounts of alcoholic beverages in celebration of this momentous occasion. I have eaten Mexican food, Malaysian food, Korean food and lots of other yummy food. I have been to more parties/gatherings/nights out than I have since Christmas, including a night watching Matt Willis from Busted do a DJ set. And I have been loosely planning my holiday to Budapest with my girls! We fly out on Tuesday for one week and we’re all pretty excited to be going away.

This Saturday evening is our Grad Ball, which the vast majority of final years will be attending, meaning that all of our friends will be together in one place. It’s the final blowout for the Class of 2016, and everyone I’ve spoken to (who is going) is really looking forward to it. It’ll be so lovely to see everyone together all dressed up before we all start heading our separate ways. (I might even do a post about my Grad Ball outift in the next couple of weeks because I’m that excited about my dress and no-one can stop me.)

Congratulations to all my fellow final years who have finally completed their degrees! We’ve all worked so hard to get to this moment, and we deserve a massive pat on the back and some decent celebrations!

So get ready to see some exciting travel posts and summer updates over the next few weeks or so! I hope you’re all enjoying the start of your summer, even though we might have had the best of the weather here in England already!

How do you like to celebrate? Let me know in a tweet or a post on Facebook!

 

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My Salwar Kameez: Fabric Review

I have always been interested in the national dress of other countries, especially having the opportunity to try on a hanbok during my first trip to South Korea. So when I was recently approached by Aziz Textiles and given the opportunity to try out a new type of clothing, the salwar kameez, I jumped at the chance!

The salwar kameez, also known as the shalwar kameez or shalwar qameez, is a traditional outift from South-Central and South-East Asia, most notably Pakistan and Afghanistan where it is the national dress. Salwar kameez is the name for the whole suit, broken down into the salwar, which are the trousers, and the kameez, which is the tunic. As well as this, women will often wear a dupatta, which is a long head worn over the head or neck. The salwar kameez is especially popular in India as a comfortable but still formal alternative to the sari.

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I have always been fascinated by South Asian clothing. The colours, patterns and embroidery are stunning and are completely different to the national dress in this part of the world. I was always jealous of the sparkles and bright colours that I never really got a chance to wear! But now I have the chance, and I’m super excited.

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I was sent this beautiful fabric for a salwar kameez by Aziz Textiles a couple of weeks ago. Unfortunately I’ve been struggling to find the time in between my exams and revision and final assignments to get it to a tailor to have it made up, but I couldn’t keep it to myself for any longer! I mean, just look at it – how beautiful is it?!

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The plain green fabric is for the leggings, and the plain cream is for the lining to the tunic. Both fabrics are really soft and I know they’re going to be comfortable to wear. The green fabric is a little heavier, so I feel reassured that the leggings won’t be transparent! The decorative cream embroidered chiffon is beautiful, embroidered in gold and green, matching the trousers and green embroidered dupatta. Despite a few missing or misplaced embellishments, I found no issues with the fabrics, and they were well packaged and arrived very quickly.

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This set costs £25 from Aziz’s website, and that includes all the material needed for the trousers, the lining and decorative fabric for the tunic, and also includes the beautiful dupatta. All the sets come unstitched so after ordering you need to take it to a tailor to be put together, or alternatively you could create a new project for yourself!

I’m so excited to have it put together to show to you all. Stick around to see the finished thing!

Have you ever worn anything like this? Would you ever like to? Tweet me your answer, or drop me a post on Facebook!

Disclaimer: I was sent this salwar kameez item complimatary for review purposes, but this does not affect my honest opinion of the product.

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Event: The Stable, Birmingham

Last Sunday I was invited to attend a bloggers event at The Stable in Birmingham city centre, to try a few among their vast range of their ciders and eat some of their famous pizza. It was my first blogging event so I was pretty nervous, but I had a great afternoon!

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We were greeted with Devon Red cider and soon got into the cider tasting with Allen from Hogan’s Cider, trying three of their boxed ciders; Hazy Daisy, French Revelation and Panking Pole (my favourite!), two bottled ciders (dry and medium) and a small sip of Allen’s special apple brandy which was entirely too strong for me!

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We were then also given some of the super cool blind cider tasting boards on offer at The Stable. The ciders are changed round daily, they cost only £7.50 and give you the chance to try five completely different ciders in one go! From our board, the firm crowd favourite (and my absolute favourite from the entire day) was the mango cider. No surprises that everyone loved it – it’s apparently a best-seller!

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After drinking entirely more cider than I have drunk in a very long time, we were given the opportunity to make our own pizzas. Not kidding! They bravely let us into their open-fronted kitchen to cover their sourdough pizza bases (sourdough makes them more crispy and means they can cook quicker) with anything and everything we wanted, within the constraints of their ingredients, of course.

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I opted to recreate bar manager Craig’s favourite The Blazing Saddle, a divine collection of slow roasted pulled beef, Gloucestershire smoked bacon, roasted red peppers and caramelised onions covered in mozzarella and topped with sour cream and jalapeños, but I put a little twist on mine, opting out of jalapeños and opting in to an egg cracked in the centre (such a good idea, trust me).

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No word of a lie, this has to have been some of the best pizza I have eaten in a very long time, if not ever. The crust/base is thin enough to not fill you up, and is lovely and crispy on the edges, and those toppings were just a match made in pizza heaven. I devoured it all, despite being full about halfway through, and even managed a little slice of their lemon curd, raspberry purée and meringue dessert pizza!

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During the day, we also got to chat to various members of staff working at The Stable, and I must say they are a wonderful bunch of people. I can’t thank them enough for such a great afternoon! Before going, I wasn’t much of a cider fan, but I have come away with the beginnings of a taste for cider, and a rekindled passion for pizza.

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The Stable is a rustic-feel restaurant specialising in pizza, pies, and over 80 varieties of cider. You can find the Birmingham branch at 115 John Bright Street, super close to Birmingham New Street train station. All other information including the exact address, opening times and the menus can be found on their website.

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Disclaimer: I was invited to this event without being asked to write anything about it, but I enjoyed the afternoon that much that I had to sing their praises. All food and drink was complimentary, but this does not affect my opinions.