Saturday, 28 February 2015

Another week in Doha has flown by. It's hard to believe tomorrow we enter March - seriously, where did February go? January too for that matter! I can't keep up.

The week started off with a day in bed, nursing a migraine which thankfully passed by the end of the day, and I woke up feeling good on Monday. I was so pleased, as Matt and I had dinner reservations at the Anvil Rooms for Restaurant Week (the good news is they have extended this until 7th March, so hurry and book yourself in!)

Haven't heard of Restaurant Week? It's a great concept originating from the States, where participating restaurants showcase their menu for a set price - in this instance, three courses at just under 140 QR.

Check out Rosalyn's post about Restaurant Week at the Anvil rooms over on Dream Days as her pics do it so much more justice than mine - I challenge you not to want to make a booking!

The highlight of the night for me was the Millionaire Sundae, which was a concoction of all of my favourite naughty things (salted caramel ice cream, need I say more?!) which I am hoping that they will add to their regular menu so that that I can look forward to that as much as their epic bread basket.

A thing of beauty.

If I could have got my head in the glass, I totally would have licked the whole thing clean, but I remained civilised and did my best with my long spoon!

I had a very chilled day off on Tuesday, one of those 'getting things done' kind of days. My delivery of juices from Raw ME for my two day juice cleanse arrived, and then I hopped in a cab to Glow to have my hair done and have a good old catch up with the wonderful Jennifer.

I emerged two and a half hours later a very happy girl with super blonde hair!

Marion and I embraced our inner tennis professionals and had another fun session at the St Regis courts on Tuesday night, distracted slightly when two annoying guys in a Ferarri pulled up beside us and decided to sit and watch our game, and shout about how they wanted to join in...only in Doha!

Wednesday was day one of my juice cleanse. By the time I got home from work, I was so hungry that I settled down to bed early and tried to distract myself with plans to explore Europe when I return to the UK.

Matt and I had a lovely relaxing day down at the St Regis pool on Thursday, swimming and sunbathing, before heading off to the mall for some lunch and to do some grocery shopping.

When we got home, it was finally time for me to remove the absolutely stunning red roses he bought me for Valentines day. They were by far the most beautiful, vibrant roses I have ever seen, and they lasted for ages. I was sad to have to throw them away!

We went our separate ways for the evening, him out with his friends, whilst myself and the girls ended up having a very impromptu and very late drink at Vintage at the St Regis, where we ran into many familiar faces. Doha really is the smallest place ever.

Friday was an absolutely manic day in the office that didn't stop when I got home. I called it a day at around 9pm, and focused my energies on a blogging project that I am so excited to be involved with (reviewing some really amazing beauty products for a fab company, my dream project! I'll explain more soon) before making a start on a post for my own blog, and then heading to Matt's for an episode of 24. I don't even know how many seasons in we are now but I'm really not too sure how Jack Bauer is still going!

And now we come to Saturday, the end of another week in the sandpit. Home from work, I'm currently curled up on the sofa blogging, before a few more episodes of 24 tonight.

How was your week? Hope you had a good one, wherever in the world you are :)


Friday, 27 February 2015

For ages, I have been mulling over trying the juice cleanse from Qatar-based health food brand Raw ME.

When people think of juice cleanses, I think they would normally associate these with weight loss, however for myself, weight loss wasn't my goal. I wanted to give my body a break from all of the badness (mainly chocolate!) that I put into it on a daily basis, and instead treat myself to some much needed nutrients, so the Raw ME juice cleanse has been on my mind for a while.

When I spotted a 'buy one day, get one day free' voucher in my Entertainer app, I knew this was the perfect opportunity to take the plunge.

Ordering my juices was incredibly simple - I went onto the website, selected my cleanse of preference ('Level One - New Obsession'), and hit 'Order Now' - simple!

Their customer service is great - within an hour I had received an email to confirm my delivery details, and I went back to them with several queries (mostly about the Entertainer app and how it would work), and to specify a delivery time frame as I had plans in the afternoon of the delivery date. The team came back to all of my questions quickly, and were super friendly.

On the day of delivery, I received a call from the Raw ME driver saying that he would be about 30 minutes, and asked if this was okay. When he arrived, he was the friendliest guy, and paying with my Entertainer app was ridiculously easy. I entered my code, he entered his, and I paid only for the first day of my two day juice cleanse.

Your juice comes with this snazzy little cool-box, the perfect size to house all six of your juices for the day (I have since been using this as a lunch box, so it certainly hasn't gone to waste even after my juice cleanse!)

Each 500ml juice bottle is numbered, and the idea is to drink them in order throughout the day.

Let's start at the beginning....

Ingredients: Apple, cucumber, lemon, romaine lettuce, parsley, spinach

Day one of my cleanse kicked off with this nutrient-packed number, which to me seemed like the healthiest juice of the bunch, and also the most filling. If you like the taste of cucumber, then you will like the taste of this, as cucumber is the strongest flavour that comes through.

I had this for my breakfast, half at home, and the rest at around 10am at work in place of my usual bowl of cereal. So far, so good.

Ingredients: Apple, pineapple, mint

This tasted amazing! I could happily drink this all the time - it is so refreshing and delicious. I had this at 12:00 midday, after coming to the conclusion that drinking one juice every two hours would take me right through until 8pm, the time that I would normally finish dinner.

My second Green Junkie of the day. By this time, my boss had started to tease me a little bit, asking me if I wanted anything from the canteen, 'but, oh have your green juice'!
Now it was 2pm and I was feeling hungry. Normally I would have lunch at around 1pm, maybe an omelette with salad, so although my lunch at work would normally be healthy, I was already feeling the absence of eating solid food.

Ingredients: Apple, beetroot, carrot, ginger, lemon

By 4pm, I was getting a bit grouchy (I get like this when I don't eat, Matt will vouch for that as he has been present during many of my food strops!), so I wasn't really in the mood for this juice, and less so when I tasted it. I don't really enjoy beetroot anyway, and this tasted very strongly of it. I still managed to drink it, but a lot more slowly than the rest.

Ingredients: Agave, cayenne, lemon, filtered water

Sucker punch was amazing! Whilst it did nothing to help to curb my grumbling stomach, it was beautifully refreshing and tasted so good. Not as good as the chocolate my colleague was nibbling across the office probably did, but still very good!

Ingredients: Cashew, cinnamon, dates, vanilla bean, filtered water

By 8pm, my stomach was rumbling so much that I'm sure my parents could hear it from the UK. I watched in absolute food envy as Jemma ate her delicious looking dinner, and I tried to sip the last of my juices for the day. Emphasis on tried. I thought I would love this, as it sounded like a real sweet treat to round off the day, but I didn't like it at all, and as much as I wanted to as I was so close to completing the full day of juices, I just couldn't finish it.


You are probably thinking 'what happened to day two of your juice cleanse?' and that would be a very good question. I did drink all but two of the juices for day two, but I teamed this with food throughout the day.

I must admit, I was a real wimp about the whole thing, and probably complained a lot more than I should have! A day is completely manageable, but come the evening I was starting to develop a headache, and realised that to do this for a second day probably wouldn't end up making me feel very well. I did, however, wake up the next day feeling good...and very excited for a bowl of cereal! These juices are very thin, even the 'Go Nuts' which I thought would have a slightly thicker consistency, so if you are familiar with a filling smoothie, this juice cleanse is a little different.

I would definitely do the juice cleanse again, but again only for a day at a time, and I would select the 'Create your Own' option, to be sure I was selecting only the juices from the above that I know I like, so that nothing goes to waste.

I like the thought that so much goodness went in to my body that day, so it is something that absolutely can't hurt to do once in a while.

My one concern with the Raw ME juice cleanse is the price. A one day juice cleanse (six x 500ml bottles) will set you back 250 QR (about £45!) which is a huge amount of money to pay for one day of sustenance. I still have two vouchers left with the Entertainer to use towards Raw ME, but I would be very hesitant to pay full price for the cleanse as it is so much money.

Overall, a very positive experience with Raw ME, and I would definitely recommend them. Good luck to you if you manage more than a day!

Have you tried the products from Raw ME, or a similar juice cleanse? Is a juice cleanse something you would try?


Tuesday, 24 February 2015

When Matt and I are in the mood for an informal date night, we usually head to Elevation Burger.

Situated at the Pearl, Elevation Burger is a marina-facing burger/shake restaurant which, in my humble opinion (and Matts!), serve up the best burgers we have both ever tried.

The concept is very simple - you head up to the counter, where you are greeted by super friendly staff who just can't wait to take your order. If you're new to Elevation Burger, you'll just need a couple of minutes to read the menu up on the board, to get your head around what you would like to order.

You can choose your burger (we always opt for the 'The Elevation Burger' - two organic, grass-fed, free-range beef patties with cheese), and then we pick our toppings (caramelised onions for me, lettuce and tomatoes for Matt). Both with a side of fresh fries.

This is where I compare Elevation Burger to Shake Shack - the burgers at SS are still really good, but you can really customise your burgers at Elevation Burger.

Once you've placed your order, you take a buzzer and grab a table.

Every single time we have been, the staff have always brought our food to us when our buzzer goes off, rather than us going up to collect it.

Despite the restaurants clear message that their food is 100% organic, grass-fed and free-range, do not be fooled into thinking that you are in for healthy burgers. Elevation burgers are incredibly naughty, but so delicious, as are the fries. They aren't the mega-crispy kind of fries - these are skinny and soft (with the occasional bonus crispy one!), but full of flavour. You can find out the calorie facts on their website, if you really want to. I wouldn't bother - be good all day, and then treat yourself.

There are no frills here - just delicious, naughty burgers. I am officially addicted.

Have you tried Elevation Burger? If you can recommend any other great burger places in Doha, the UK, or anywhere else in the world, I would love to try them out at some point to see if & how they compare!


Sunday, 22 February 2015

Only someone who has suffered from an attack themselves can really know what it is like when a migraine strikes.

It is not your average headache - it is a completely all-consuming pain that can wipe you out for hours, a day, or even several days, with symptoms including sensitivity to light, sounds, smells, blurred vision, and nausea. Not fun at all!

I've suffered with migraines for years, and after monitoring their pattern over the course of many months, my doctor back in the UK finally concluded that I suffer from a type of hormonal migraine that, to my surprise, is thought to only affect less than 10% of women. Around the same time every month, the dreaded migraine strikes. The regularity of it means that, by and large, I am prepared for it, however there is only so much you can really do to help yourself, and what works for some may not work for others.

I am writing this post in light of the fact that today I woke up with a monstrous migraine that left me unable to go to work. The pain was right behind my left eye socket, and felt as though someone was drilling into my skull..not very pleasant. Normally I try to work through a migraine, but the accompanying sickness today left me unable to do so. This particular migraine had reared it's head on Friday afternoon, and I soon tamed it when I got home with a tablet. I woke up on Saturday again with it, and tamed it with another tablet, however after a very upsetting afternoon yesterday, it re-appeared and it seemed to be here to stay this time.

I thought I would share my 'Migraine Survival Kit' - a collection of things that, whilst they don't necessarily banish the migraine altogether (sometimes it just has to run it's course, like this one), they can certainly help to make it a little more tolerable.

For me, there is no other tablet that can tame my migraine than Sumatriptan, which I have been prescribed by my doctor in the UK. I have tried every pain killer under the sun, from Paracetamol, to Ibuprofen, to Codeine, to Aspirin, among many more, and whilst some are marginally more effective than others, most do absolutely nothing to relieve the pain. Sometimes even my trusty Sumatriptan tablets can't help, or they help temporarily (which is better than nothing!) but the pain can creep back the next day. I have even been known to be woken up in middle of the night by the pain of a migraine attack!

For some, dehydration can be the cause of headaches and migraines, so it is always best to drink plenty of water anyway. I find that when I do have a migraine, I try to drink a lot more water in an attempt to help to banish it. In Doha, Arwa is my bottled water of choice due to the low sodium content.

The natural reaction to having a migraine is the want to close your eyes, even if not to actually sleep, but just to have them closed to block out the light. My eyes become particularly sensitive to light during a migraine attack, so if I'm at home I will draw my blackout curtains and close my eyes, and wear this very attractive cooling mask straight out of the fridge...

Or if I am out and about, I will wear my sunglasses to help to block out the light...

I don't know if it is advised to apply heat, but sometimes I find sitting with a microwave beanbag or a hot water bottle on the affected area of my head to be more of a relief than applying something cold, such as the above eye mask.

I am certainly no expert, but the above are all things that I use to help when migraine strikes. If you suffer regularly from migraines, I would definitely advise keeping a diary of when the attacks occur, and what you have eaten/had to drink that day, as there are many known potential triggers.

Luckily for me, I have found no link between chocolate consumption and my migraine attacks!

Have you experienced a migraine before? I would love to know what you do to help with yours.


Saturday, 21 February 2015

Once again, this week kicked off with tennis with Marion. Both of the courts at our apartments were occupied, so Marion suggested we use the St Regis courts, and we had such a good game! Our rallies are getting longer, and we are significantly improving each time we play. I genuinely could have played for hours happily, but I had promised to cook Matt dinner so I had to switch from tennis pro to housewife mode and head back to the apartment to get started on making Spag Bol! We are still considering getting a tennis instructor soon - so far it's been all about mastering getting the ball over the net but I could really do with learning the rules...!

My days off this week were spent down at the St Regis pool with Matt - I keep burning so I think I need to switch up my sun factor! #DohaProblems
The weather has been beautiful all week, except for today where we have had a sandstorm. I woke up this morning and could barely even see the city through the dust.

This is my view on a good day for the purpose of comparison...

And here it is through the sandstorm...

Not quite so pretty!!

On Thursday, after a day of sunbathing at the St Regis, Matt and I had a quick game of tennis and then took ourselves off to the Pearl for date night, to our favourite informal dinner date spot.

It's not posh, it's not fancy, but it does the best dirty burgers I have ever had. I'll do a proper review soon!

As if that wasn't enough naughtiness, we then went to Marble Slab Creamery, who genuinely sell the best ice cream ever. The staff recognise me from my countless visits so I always receive a lovely warm welcome, and they very sweetly rooted through the crate of ice cream that had just been delivered to dig out a tub of salted caramel for me as it's my favourite. Mixed with crushed Oreo's, it's divine!

Feeling very full, we headed home where I joined Marion and Jemma in getting ready for a chilled evening at the Rooftop at the St Regis with some of Marion's lovely colleagues who we met at the handball. I think the Rooftop is fast becoming one of my favourite bars in Doha - there's always a great atmosphere, plus it's a stones throw from our apartment so ideal for popping over for 'one', or partying til the early hours knowing it's easy to get home! On this occasion our night was very civilised as we had work the next day - even when the birthday shots started being passed around!

Friday night was one of my favourite nights this week. The girls and I had decided it was time we had a movie night, so after Jemma had finished work we ordered a Wagamama delivery, hit the lights, and terrified ourselves watching The Purge: Anarchy (which was genuinely the scariest movie I have seen for a long time!)

Jemma and I before the movie...

And Marion during the movie...! ;)

Such a fun evening with my favourite girls :)

Today I received some very shocking and upsetting news from home with regards to my wonderful Auntie Jan who has been in hospital for well over a month now. I don't want to write too much as I don't have all the facts and I want to stay as positive and strong as I can for her, her husband and for my family. I spent a good half an hour on the phone to my family earlier, as my brother and Holly were round at my parents with baby Ryan, so it was lovely to speak to them all at once, and for a while I didn't feel quite so far away from my loved ones.

Life really is a precious thing.


Thursday, 19 February 2015

As much as I love my beauty products, I'm a bit samey when it comes to my makeup, and tend to use the same products day in, day out.

This cute, clear, pink-edged bag from Victoria's Secret originally housed some very beautiful scented goodies that the mister surprised me with for Valentines Day, but is now home to my every day beauty essentials, which I thought I would share on the blog today. Please forgive any grubby packaging - these products are lugged about everywhere with me and used lovingly on a day to day basis, so they aren't looking as new as they once did!

Let's get started!

No word of a lie, this product really is a hero for my lips. I suffer from ridiculously dry lips, all year round, but since this little beauty entered my life I have found my lips to be in the best condition they have ever been in. A bold statement, yes, but very true!

I like to use this Rimmel foundation in '203 - True Beige' under my eye area, and sometimes I have been known to mix this with my beloved Double Wear for a night out as I really love the consistency of it, and the overall finish it gives to my skin. It is thick and creamy, certainly not a consistency to everybody's liking, but the full coverage hides a multitude of sins, and my face certainly has many that need hiding!

A prime example of a product absolutely battered and worn from loving every day use - to the point where the contents have actually broken up into little bits, leaving it not very photo-worthy! This blusher is a beautiful, shimmering pinky coral, that transforms my cheeks when I wear it. I can add a little for an office-friendly look in the daytime, or really build this up for a strong look on a night out. The shimmering tone of this also helps to highlight my cheeks as well as adding a much needed pop of subtle colour.

I use this little gem in 'No. 2 - Medium' to cover any blemishes that may occur. This product is described as a 'brightening camouflage for eyes and face', and it really is. It is a very thick, paste-like consistency that takes a bit of getting used to (and some powder to set it, as I find this does settle in the creases around my eyes) but it covers like a dream.

This powder foundation is amazing for sweeping over the top of my liquid foundation, for a completely flawless finish. Similarly to my Coralista blush, this has broken up into little pieces so not photo-worthy at all! I use the shade 'R250' which compliments my Double Wear foundation perfectly, as both are the closest match to my skin tone. I wouldn't normally use this alone, as the coverage for me just isn't quite what I feel I need for my red-toned skin, but as I say I do use this daily over the top of my liquid foundation, just to set everything in place. I love that it has SPF 20 also, a real asset to any desert-dweller's makeup bag.

My Holy Grail foundation - I honestly can't rave about this enough (as I have done here and here!)
The shade 'Desert Beige' is the perfect match for my skin (I had this matched at an Estee Lauder counter back home in the UK) and I'm slightly obsessed with it. I want to wear it all the time, even to work every day, as now no other foundation seems to look as good on my skin or last as long, but this will prove to be a pretty expensive habit to get in to!

Due to my aforementioned dry lips, it was previously very rare for me to be seen to wear lipstick, especially as almost all of the lipsticks I tried dried my lips out even more. Now that I am on track with my lips a bit more, and managing to maintain a smooth and healthy base for the most-part, I have ventured into the daunting world of lipstick a little more in recent months. This lipstick from Too Faced, which I first read about on Buy Now / Blog Later (it is very rare that Laura doesn't recommend something that I then go on to love!), is so creamy and moisturising, and thus the perfect lipstick for me. I normally wear very safe, neutral makeup, so this is the perfect 'my lips, but better' shade to just give me a dash of colour whilst still being subtle.

I team the above lipstick with the Perfect Nude lip liner, also from Too Faced. I have become slightly addicted to lining my lips and really love this combo.

I am really not fussed when it comes to mascara. That is not to say I am not completely addicted to wearing it, as I genuinely won't leave the house without mascara on my lashes, but I am just not fussed at all about the brand that I use. I don't tend to spend a lot of money on them as I don't see the point, they all seem to have the same effect on my lashes, so I normally purchase something around the Rimmel / Maybelline price point. Maybe this attitude will change if I find a mascara that really blows me away to the point where I stick to using it religiously, but until then, I'll stick to whatever I can get my hands on! This is my current every day mascara, in '001 black'. It makes my lashes look darker and fuller, exactly what I want from my mascara. It also contains Argan Oil which can only be a good thing.

Whilst I am slightly more picky with my eyeliners - I want something with good lasting power, that doesn't slide off my water line - I still don't tend to spend a lot of money on them, as the 'drugstore' varieties that I do use have served this exact purpose. I currently have '261 Noir', which is the eyeliner I reach for to line my eyes for a night out, and '212 Rich Brown', which I tend to use for my every day office look, to keep things a little softer and more subtle.

My new makeup bag is the perfect size to carry around my beloved Zoeva makeup brushes, that just make applying my makeup so much easier, and are a real pleasure to use.

I thought I'd end on an exciting note! I always carry these with me in my makeup bag as my eyebrows are, quite frankly, rogue. I swear, as soon as I pluck them, they grow back within seconds. I can become quite obsessional with my eyebrows (my mum will testify to this - she has been witness to it) and have been known to almost pluck my eyebrows bare in an attempt to tame them!

I'd love to know what products are in your makeup bag - if you've done a similar post please send me the link so I can be nosy, or let me know your daily beauty essentials in the comments below :)


Monday, 16 February 2015

Two days late with this post, again. It seems to be becoming a recurring theme!

I've changed up the title of this series of posts as (hard to believe, I know) I don't actually take my camera with me everywhere I go, and as a result I don't always have enough photos to really justify these posts being called 'Doha Diaries: My week in pictures'. Therefore, they have become 'Doha Diaries: My week in the desert', as a way for me to just recap the week either with the photos I do have, or just as a written summary.

Last week was a fun week, kicking off with tennis with Marion (in the midst of a bit of a sandstorm!). I've really been enjoying our tennis sessions. Living with Marion and Jemma, two really active girls who lead very healthy lifestyles, has been a real eye opener for me, and made me look at my lifestyle a lot more closely. Whilst I am not horrendously unhealthy in what I eat (despite the fact I probably eat more chocolate than I should), I certainly don't have the fitness part nailed down, which is something I need (and want) to work on. Their genuine passion and love for sport has also led me to think a lot more about what I love, and what I am passionate about, which is something I will be focussing on a lot more going forward, as I have an awful lot of thinking to do with regards to the future.

Midweek brought a day of pampering and lunching at Banana Island for Jemma's birthday, followed by dinner at La Spiga to cap off a brilliant day. I am really enjoying time spent with Jemma and Marion, and feel so lucky to live with two such great, fun, kind, level headed girls, and to be able to call them my friends.

Thursday turned into a bit of an impromptu date night after a long and hectic day at work, that took Matt and I off to Burger Gourmet at Lagoona Mall for our weekly use of The Entertainer app. Remember that part about me saying I am not horrendously unhealthy in what i eat? Disregard Thursday. Cheese burger and cheese fries was a pretty sinful order..but oh so good!

For our Valentines dinner date on Saturday, I left the camera at home. I am dating the worlds most private person, and sometimes it is nice to just keep some things for ourselves. I did however ask him to take a snap of me with the beautiful roses he bought me. Such a lovely evening, and safe to say he spoilt me rotten! That isn't to say that he doesn't normally, because he does. I feel like the luckiest girl in the world every day of the week, and loved every single day, not just on February 14th :) Cheese alert!

I have been feeling particularly homesick these past few weeks, so I have been chatting to home as much as possible. My mum went into hospital for a knee replacement operation on Tuesday, and came home on Friday, so we had a good few days without Facetime which for us is a long time! It has been so nice to also Facetime my brother and my little newborn nephew Ryan, who is just getting cuter by the day.

I have also been in touch with my aunt who is now out of her coma, and it was very emotional receiving a lovely long message from her updating me on how she is doing. She mentioned how precious life is, and it is so true.

My family really need to stay out of hospital now!!

It was interesting listening to the third podcast (Episode 3 - Expats or Immigrants?) by Sarah Derrig and Kirsty Rice, as they talked a lot about family and how living abroad can actually bring families closer - for me, that really rang true. I lived at home before I moved out to Doha, and saw my family every day, and in that set up you almost certainly take advantage of that fact. Living away, however, means you appreciate the time spent talking to family even more. We have had our toughest times as a family during the last year and a half, and even though I've been living a 7 hour flight away, it definitely feels like we have become closer and stronger than ever before.

I hope you all had a good week, whatever you got up to and wherever in the world you are reading from :)


Sunday, 15 February 2015

Part two of Jemma's birthday celebrations took us to the W Hotel and involved drinks at Wahm, followed by dinner at La Spiga.

I could literally eat at La Spiga all day, every day. It is no secret that it is my absolute favourite restaurant in Doha (I have gushed about it countless times on the blog before!), so when Jemma chose to celebrate her birthday here I knew a lovely evening would be in store for us.

The birthday girl looked gorgeous - her family had sent her lovely gifts from home, and Marion and I gave her our presents before we got ourselves ready and set off for an evening at the W.

It was Happy Hour at Wahm Lounge, and we kicked off the evening with Pimms out on the terrace.

Wahm is one of the outlets at the W that I rarely give a mention to (normally because I come to the W to eat myself into a food coma, rather than drink!), but the last two times I have been here I have been really impressed with the service. The staff have always found us a table, even when we didn't have a reservation, and provided attentive table service. When I came last week with my French colleagues, they even brought over platters of complimentary hors d'oeuvres which were delicious.

When we had finished our drinks, we made our way downstairs to La Spiga.

Originally we were taken to a table by the terrace doors, however it was a little bit cold for us so we asked if there was another table available. The manager, Dennis, came over immediately and told us that there were three glasses of bubbles waiting for us at the bar, and in the meantime he would arrange a special table for us.

We were in no rush, so were happy to relax on the sofas in the bar area, sipping delicious pink bubbles and chatting until our table was ready.

When Dennis returned to take us to the table, it became apparent that La Spiga had gone all out to make the evening very special indeed for our birthday girl.

The table was decorated with tiny silver stars, and two beautiful red roses.

Absolutely set on our decision to have dessert (we had turned down the temptation of milkshakes earlier that day at Banana Island), we went straight for the main courses.

Jemma and I both opted for the gnocchi. Jemma had hers as per the menu in the tomato and cream sauce, and I asked if I could have mine in white sauce. One look at Jemma's and I thought I had made a mistake as hers looked so good...

However as soon as I tried mine, I was in food heaven. The white sauce was absolutely beautiful and full of flavour, and the gnocchi was cooked to perfection.

Marion opted for the fussili pasta with shrimp and zucchini, which she displayed very proudly!

The three very empty dishes at the end of the meal were hard evidence that we enjoyed our food!

Just when we had decided that, even after promising to have dessert all day, we were too full to eat anymore, our waiter very kindly brought over a 'Happy Birthday' Panna Cotta with a candle for Jemma.

Deciding we could probably definitely manage one dessert between three of us, we all dived in! The Panna Cotta at La Spiga is beautiful and light - the perfect dessert to have if you're "too full" to have dessert ;)

Our lovely waiter then brought over another complimentary dessert for us - the Tiramisu - which looked gorgeous, although I had to sit this one out as sadly I'm not a coffee lover!

Dennis and his team at La Spiga really went all out to make Jemma's birthday special - they really could not have done more for us.

I can't recommend this restaurant enough - not only is La Spiga in a prime location at the W Hotel, so perfect as a post-drinks dinner destination, but the staff are fantastic and the food is amazing, every single time.

I also must mention the social media team behind the @WDoha Twitter handle - they make booking a reservation so easy - not just at La Spiga but for any of the W outlets - and get back to you within minutes. After Jemma had made her birthday reservation, I tweeted @WDoha to ask them if the chef could write a happy birthday message on her dessert plate, which they happily organised and more!

I can't think of any other restaurant where I would choose to spend a special occasion - so thanks for having us, La Spiga - I can't wait for my next visit already!

If you missed part one of Jemma's birthday celebrations, you can find our Banana Island adventures here :)