Share A Meal with World Vision UK

I love food, and I love sharing food. Coming into the Christmas period (let’s face it, it’s really soon) we start to think about family, getting together and sharing food and drinks. But it’s easy to forget those in other countries facing diversity.

To promote awareness, World Vision UK have launched the #shareameal appeal to raise money for the refugee children in Bidi Bidi, Uganda, along with Great British Bake Off’s star baker Selasi.

EOB (5)

Selasi recently visited Uganda to see how we could make a difference.

“It’s heartbreaking to see pain and hunger etched onto the faces of orphaned children and hear their harrowing stories of rape and violence. It is vital that, as a community, we come together to do what we can to help provide these kids with a better future.”

Thousands of children flood into Uganda’s refugee settlements, escaping civil war in South Sudan. Many of these having seen their parents murdered and having to walk for weeks without food or shelter. This is a dangerous and frightening trek, having to hide from fighting to avoid being killed. They are along, traumatised and hungry.

Selasi FB 3

 

And this of course is something we just can’t relate to. But we can help, and World Vision UK have come up with a way we can help bring aid to these children, in a way we can relate to.

World Vision UK help feed these children and find them foster families, to give them a new start. However, global funding just isn’t enough and so to raise money, they’d like you to take part in #shareameal.

World Vision UK invite you to be inspired by Selasi and host a dinner party. It can be as small or large as you wish, just as long as you’re sharing a meal. Following the meal, you and your guests donate the value of the meal to World Vision UK and that money goes to the children.

recipe books

They’ve even made it really easy for you, but putting together a pack that includes everything you need – invitations, an exclusive recipe from Selasi and thank you cards for your guests too!

Visit http://www.worldvision.org.uk/get-involved/share-meal/ to download your pack!

Now, if this wasn’t fun enough, they’re also giving you the chance to win a meal for two, cooked by Selasi himself! To enter, simply post a picture of your Share A Meal event on Instagram using the hashtag #shareameal and tagging @WorldVisionUK! For more information visit www.worldvision.org.uk/shareameal

EOB (9)

So all that’s left to do is start planning your meal and who you want to invite.

With so many holidays coming up, you could host an American-style Thanksgiving, a Christmas themed meal, something for New Years or simply use some of the fantastic Autumnal ingredients that are starting to appear in supermarkets.

recipe books

It’s an excuse to show off your repertoire AND help the refugee Children in Uganda.

I’m already planning mine, so keep an eye out for my post about that in the next couple of months!

recipe books

Event photos provided by World Vision UK. All other photos are my own.

Returning To Orlando!

Never in a million years did I think that I would be visiting Orlando twice in as many years.

Even whilst boarding the plane last October (in the midst of a hurricane, no less) did I suspect that in just over a year I’d be heading back.

Orlando is definitely my second home, forgetting all the parks (but why would you want to?) it’s got all the weather, the food, the beaches and the views. It’s an incredible place.

So, when friends offered to have G Man and I for a stay whilst they are there in October, we knew we had to try to make it work somehow.

I’ll no doubt keep mentioning this over the period of time we have left until we head out, but I thought I would share a little bit of the things we want to do whilst we’re there!

Disney!

We’re not going to be spending much time in the parks, in fact it’ll be just one evening – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! We’ll be able to spend from 4pm til Midnight in Magic Kingdom and intend on rinsing every single second! I’ve got my costume sorted and I can’t wait to walk down Main Street and see the castle again!

IMG_6372

Visit Downtown Orlando, Winter Park, and St Augustine

Since our visit last year was straight Disney and Universal Studios jam-packed, we didn’t really go out and about in Orlando or the surrounding areas (apart from the shopping malls of course!) so this time around we want to visit some of these areas. I’m especially looking forward to seeing St Augustine because from what I’ve seen in photos it looks beautiful.

 

Complete my Orlando ‘Your Are Here’ Mug Collection

About a week after we left Orlando last year, Universal Studios announced the release of their Starbucks ‘You Are Here’ mug…. I knew I had to go back and get one, so that’s what I intend to do. I can’t have an incomplete collection now, can I?

img_6560

 

Shopping!

Oh yes! I will be stocking up on Bath and Body Works, getting my money’s worth in Victoria’s Secret and Hollister (the prices are so much better there!) and visiting far too many Target, Ulta and Sephoras. Let’s just say I’m planning on packing light so I have room to bring things home….. eek!

The Food!!

I honestly can’t wait to get eating! Blaze Pizza, Publix Subrolls, Cracker Barrel for breakfast – and the one I’m most looking forward to… Homecomin’ I get to have that beautiful Moonshine Cake that I’ve been dreaming about all year, again! This isn’t even mentioning Dole Whips and all the other Disney treats you can get in Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs!

img_6427

 

Speaking of Disney Springs……

I’m looking forward to spending time in Disney Springs and City Walk, as well as visiting the Boardwalk area which we didn’t do last time.

Clearwater

And last but not least, I’m really looking forward to hopefully visiting Clearwater beach. We didn’t have the chance last time, so I’m hoping we will this time around, because I can’t go to Florida twice and not see at least one of their beaches!

As well as all of this, we intend on relaxing, taking in the weather and spending time with our hosts. I really can’t wait!!

 

London, Manchester and Carrying On

Just under two weeks ago I had a couple of days off work booked, because I was supposed to be seeing Ariana Grande at the O2. As you might know I’m a huge Ariana Grande fan and it was going to be the highlight of my summer.

I don’t need to tell you why the concert was cancelled, and I don’t want to go deep into my feelings about it here. We had a hotel booked (the Intercontinental O2, which is right next to the O2) and we’d paid already so we decided to go and have a couple of days in London in the sunshine despite the attack.

I’m really pleased we did. London in the sunshine is beautiful. Our room overlooked the O2 and we could see the people walking over the top of it – we were that close!

IMG_1359

We had a lovely time wandering around. We never really have the chance to just mill about, since we’re usually in London for a particular reason. Stands selling fresh fruit, juices and waffles pop up this time of year, and they look and smell so inviting.

IMG_1366

We ate dinner at The Diner, and I had this yummy corned beef hash.

IMG_1381

The next morning we grabbed breakfast at Le Pain Quotidien and sat outside on Covent Garden markets – it was already too hot to sit in the sunshine, but we had a lovely warm breeze from our table.

IMG_1395

I won’t lie, the police presence was both reassuring and scary. I have an issue with guns, they make me nervous just by seeing them. I know they’re in capable hands in this circumstance but they can still be used in error. Besides that it was a lovely couple of days and a nice way to spend it in lieu of the events.

As I type this, the afternoon after the London Bridge attack, my heart is heavy once more. The Ariana Grande concert for Manchester is this evening, and I don’t suppose my eyes will stay dry. The whole situation is frightening and frustrating. No one knows how to behave in these kinds of situations and people are sensitive for varying reasons. Arguments are being caused because of people’s differing opinons in situations like this and no one knows what to do. No one feels in control. All we can do is do the right thing and continue to live our lives.

I’m glad we decided to keep our reservation in London and continue our day. London is beautiful in the sunshine, everyone was happy and it was lovely to see so many people enjoying themselves.

My Search for Authentic Flavours: Cherry Tomato Linguine

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes food to taste authentic. I love picking up recipes for food from books, magazine and most usually now Pinterest and tweaking them until they’re perfect. In fact one of Gary’s favourite meals, sausage casserole, is one I’ve been perfecting over the last decade.

On our recent trip to Rome, the very first meal I ate was a tomato and basil spaghetti. Nice and simple with fresh ingredients and pasta cooked al dente and just right. It was delicious, but the thing that struck me the most was how much it tasted like something I already cook.

I picked the recipe for cherry tomato linguine up off Pinterest, and the main reason I wanted to try it was that it’s a one pan recipe so I knew it would be pretty simple to make. I’ve made it a handful of times, and always enjoyed eating it, but was left with an acrid after taste every time – which I had put down to the use of garlic in the recipe.

So whilst eating this gorgeous plate of spaghetti in the little authentic recipe down a Roman side street, I thought hard about the flavours and decided I was going to make my linguine slightly differently next time.

So about a week after returning I picked up my ingredients and away I went. I have to say, this time I nailed it. I cut out the garlic and instead used garlic oil – oil infused with enough garlic to add the right depth of spice and flavour, but without that nasty after taste. I posted a photo of my creation and had a request to blog the recipe, so here goes; my one pan cherry tomato linguine, tweaked to perfection!

17881460_1479886552030386_5033975552386531328_n

Cherry Tomato One Pot Pasta (very generously serves 2)

2 tbsp garlic oil
1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (from oil) snipped smallish with scissors
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes (left whole)
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 tsp salt
200g dry linguine – or however much you want for 2 servings! (snapped in half to make everything easier)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 1/4 cup of cold water
85g tomato puree
handful of fresh basil (sliced thinly)
Add olive oil to large high sided pan with a lid (I use a cast iron Le Creuset casserole dish), heat the oil, add the sun-dried tomatoes and cherry tomatoes. Coat well with oil, over a medium heat and then partially cover the pan and allow to cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally.
The tomatoes will spit a little as they burst because they’re full of water, so be careful! Add the paprika, pepper and salt, and cook for 2 mins more, stirring well.
Add the broth, water and pasta and increase the heat to high. Then add the tomato puree and mix well. Once the liquid has come to a rapid boil, stir well and then allow the liquid to reduce for about 14 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Remove from heat, give a stir and then add the basil. Stir one last time and then cover the pan and let it sit, off the heat, for about 5 minutes.
Serve with bread to mop up with!

If you decide to make this, I’d love to know what you think – send me your photos and comments, and tell me if you changed the recipe at all.

Happy eating!

Fun Times at Winter Wonderland!

Last weekend we headed to Hyde Park in London for the annual Christmas fair, Winter Wonderland.

ww2

The intention had been to go the previous day but despite it being mild weather it rained hard all day. I’m so glad we waited because the weather was lovely the following day and even though it was colder, the sun shone brightly!

When we arrived at Hyde Park the line to get into Winter Wonderland was huge, but we walked a little further down the path to a different gate, and walked right in (pro tip!)

We headed to the Bavarian Village section first, because that’s where the best food is, and I was hungry! Every year I get the same thing. German sausage, potato dumpling with gravy and hot spiced red cabbage. It took a little while to find it this time around as they’d extended the Bavarian Village section massively, but I followed my nose and found the correct stall.

ww1

The food was yummy as always, and after eating we had a little further look around the area. I was pleased to see the inside tent still there, with live singers on stage performing Christmas hits.

I got some mulled wine too 🙂

ww3

The village wasn’t too busy at this point but it was getting more and more packed by the minute! For some reason they felt it important to correctly sign post EVERYTHING!

ww5

The fairground rides this year were awesome. There was a fantastic looking rollercoaster, big wheel and haunted house.

Gary grabbed some sweetcorn to munch on which looked amazing.

ww4

We had a little look around some of the craft stalls and then headed out of Hyde Park.

We wanted to see the Christmas lights on Oxford Street and I had to nip into some of the shops. If I hadn’t already been in London I wouldn’t have dreamt of going to Oxford Street at Christmas time. It was PACKED. But I’m really glad we did. We headed to Liberty and just as we walked in a choir started singing ‘Carol of the Bells’ which is one of my favourite carols. I’m so pleased we went in when we did!

ww6

Heading home, shattered, but happy, the sunset was awesome and it was a lovely end to a perfectly festive day!

I also vlogged this trip so make sure you check out the video, even if it’s just to see the sunset at the end!

We Went to Disney World!

Our recent trip to Disney world was planned to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary. I’d never expected to be able to afford to go and so the fact that we were actually going was crazy.

The flight to Florida was fine and fairly uneventful – until an older gentleman collapsed and Gary found him. That was kinda stressful.

We arrived in Orlando after the sun had gone down but it was still balmy hot and it was lovely to be on the bus to the resort.

Once we’d checked in and been given our magic bands we headed to our room. We had chosen to stay at the Port Orleans French Quarter, a mardis gras themed moderate resort. We grabbed some food from the restaurant, took showers and unpacked.

Let me tell you about our Magic Bands. These things are AMAZING! Firstly they’re your room key, so you never had to think about remembering a key, or whether everyone in your party has one. They’re also payment – you can choose to link a card to it and charge things to the band in stores, restaurants and resorts. They store your fast passes, restaurant reservations and photo-pass pictures. They’re your park tickets, parking pass at parks and resorts, and they’re waterproof so you can wear them at water parks. This also means you don’t have to concern yourself over where to keep money when you’re having fun in the pool – scan your band when you want snacks and it’s charged to your room. Magic Bands also hold your dining credits, if you’re on a dining plan. You choose your meal, scan your band and voila – meal paid for! Another funky thing is that because they store all your information, on selected rides you might find your band has been scanned and the ride will interact with you based on what it knows about you. Our bands were also used at a restaurant so that the wait staff knew where we were sitting. It truly was magic!

Anyhow, our first full day saw us mastering the skill of putting on our Magic Bands, loading up on sun cream and heading out.  We knew we wanted to arrive at Magic Kingdom for rope drop so we got up early and headed out.

mksmall

We arrived at MK via the free shuttle from the resort and got there about 10 minutes before rope drop. It was really surreal being in the place I’d been researching for so long. Halloween and Autumn decorations were up and everything was shiny and pretty. The Welcome Ceremony was everything I’d hoped. I saw all the characters and Mickey in their finest. Day time fireworks welcomed us to the park and we were in!

I’m not ashamed to say I got a little emotional, and walking towards the beautiful castle in the sunshine and glorious heat. We had some fast passes booked, but as we were there a little while beforehand we wandered around and checked out the wait times. We came across the Winnie The Pooh ride which had no wait and jumped on. It was really nice to be back on a Disney ride!

The rest of the morning was wandering around, riding our fast pass rides and grabbing breakfast and lunch. I had the most amazing Chicken Parmesan sandwich – so good it was the first meal I ate and then happened to be the last meal I ate on our last day too!

After eating we rushed to the Disney Car Care centre to pick up our rental car. We were given Nissan Rogue and it was lovely! We drove it around a little, and then headed back to the hotel for a rest! We were still getting used to the heat, and jet lag was making us struggle! A little nap and a shower and then we were ready to head to Disney Springs.

Disney Springs is the new name for Downtown Disney, and it’s mostly new buildings, restaurants and places to shop. It’s a beautiful area, and we were able to get there by boat straight from our hotel room.

img_6431

After having a look around, we grabbed a table at Rainforest Café. It seems to be a Disney tradition for us to eat at Rainforest Café on our first night! We both had really delicious salads and then headed back to the hotel for sleeps!

I’m not going to outline the whole of our holiday – it’ll get dull for you, and if you know me in real life you’ve no doubt have already heard about it all!

So here are the highlights:

We LOVED Magic Kingdom, Disney Springs and Epcot. We weren’t enamoured with Animal Kingdom, though Everest is now one of my all-time favourite rides. Hollywood Studios is great, although would have been better if everything was open. We’re not Star Wars fans, so all of that was lost on us.

img_6481

We attended Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and it was fantastic. We also attended Universal Studios Halloween Horror Nights, but it was way too intense for me.

Universal Studios was epic, though of the two parks we preferred Islands of Adventure. The Harry Potter areas were so good. I had a frozen Butterbeer and now I want to live there…..

The weather was amazing, and despite being chased home by a hurricane we didn’t have any problems with the rain. Only one evening was rained out and we had to change our plans. But any changes we made during the stay were for the best in the end.

We loved Epcot’s Food and Wine festival. The evening we spent there was amazing, food was great (and all on our dining plan) and we even saw Wilson Phillips perform as part of the Eat To The Beat event. The Japan pavilion shop as AMAZING and I now want to visit Japan simply from having spoken to one of the girls who served us.

img_6504

Food in general was amazing. In the parks there’s no shortage of choice. You’re walking a minimum of 10k in the parks so you don’t have to really worry about calories – in fact you should really up them. Outside of Disney we ate at Cracker Barrel for breakfast, which was awesome, and a few other places. Stand out eateries of our holiday were Blaze pizza and Homecoming in Disney Springs. I crave the Moonshine cake I ate there almost daily. I have to go back!

img_6427

We also at twice at Be Our Guest, which is beautiful inside, and Sci-Fi Dine In.

img_6375

scifi

The service, the atmosphere, the weather – the whole place! I’m in love with Florida. I also managed to pick up all the Starbucks You Are Here mugs they had going, both in the parks and outside the parks. I brought a total of 8 coffee mugs home!

img_6560

After having never thought I’d make it to Disney World, I’m now excited for the idea that we can, someday soon, book our return. The saddest part about leaving on the last day, after having taken our car back, was sitting on the shuttle back to Port Orleans to pick up our cases and hearing the announcement ‘Welcome Home’ – it felt like home after two weeks, and it was bittersweet that we were heading back to the UK.

syrs

Until next time Disney World, until next time.

If you’re planning your own Disney World trip, I’ve posted about planning your holiday. Check that our here. And keep an eye out for part two, all about how to plan your trip once you’ve booked.

Ladies What Brunch

Having spent a lot of lovely time, but not nearly enough, with the Book Club girls in Cornwall, we decided we needed a girly meet up before Tash headed back to Vietnam.

I’d heard, through a girl in my office, about Jones & Sons in Dalston and their amazing bottomless brunch. We managed to find a date that worked for us all (which was also Caz’s birthday), made our booking and eagerly awaited the date.

Bottomless Brunch at Jones at Sons is awesome. You choose either ‘on the wagon’ or ‘off the wagon’, you choose which drink you’ll be getting served for 2 hours you have the table, and then you get to order as much food as you want off their menu for a set price. There are just two rules, once you’ve chosen which drink you want, you have to stick to that drink, and you can only order another round of food once everyone at your table is ready to order again too. This makes a lot of sense as it means the wait staff aren’t running around to each table multiple times over the duration of your visit.

We arrived at the restaurant slightly early, but were seated right away with no bother even though they were incredibly busy. Our drinks chosen and our food selected we waited patiently (yeah right!) for our food, eyeing up what other people were being served with hungry stomachs.

Inside Jones & Sons there’s a lovely buzz. Chitter chatter loud enough to create an atmosphere but not enough to make you shout – just how I like it. The wait staff were wonderful and really accommodating.

I chose to go with bucks fizz to drink, and every time my glass needed topping up we heard the sound of a new Prosecco bottle being opened! I must have drunk about 6 glasses over the time we were there so I was pleasantly merry by the time we left.

Now to eats:

image

I started with poached eggs on sour dough toast with the most perfect avocado I’ve ever eaten. Well seasoned and perfectly ripe, the dish warmed up my stomach for what was to come. Next I went for a full english, which came complete with black pudding (which I love). Then after the girls had raved about the french toast, I decided to finish with that. It was soft and fluffy (could have been a little more custardy and a little less burnt, but they were changing to lunch service so I’ll let them off!)

I have to say I probably could have eaten another course but our 2 hours was up and we got the cheque. Even though Jones & Sons is a little off the normal track I’d take in London, I’ll definitely be back. The location, food and service was spot on, and I’d recommend a visit if you’re in the area.

After brunch we fancied another drink to headed to John Lewis on Oxford Street and to their rooftop garden. It’s open over the summer and I really wanted to see what it was like.

It being Pride London weekend, there were LGBT flags flying on top of all the buildings and down Oxford Street.

The John Lewis rooftop garden was very serene and lovely place to digest the food we’d just eaten. We all picked cocktails, though were surprised to find out that the only place you could get non alcoholic drinks had run out of juice….. I chose a cucumber cooler which has gin in it so I was happy!

image

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

image

image

It was an awesome day, and brilliant to spend it all together on what seems like the last consistently pleasant weather day! If you haven’t been to Jones & Sons in Dalston, I really recommend it. The John Lewis Roof Garden is open until September 4th.

This Week I Have Been Mostly….

this week i have been mostly

I’ve had a lovely and relaxed time, this past week. On Monday evening I went for dinner with 3 of the Book Club 6. We talked house moving, work, life and the upcoming wedding of one of the bunch. Sarah’s hen was the reason we went to Ibiza last year. We hadn’t seen each other since before Christmas. Life keeps on getting in the way!

My down time has been mostly spent watching Pretty Little Liars, and I have no shame in admitting I’ve managed to watch 5 and a half seasons in just one month. Granted I got a lot seen during my week off when I caught the plague and spent most of it in bed.

image

So I’m all caught up but that means I have to wait until Wednesdays to see the next episodes like the rest of the poor population. I’m loving what they’ve done with the story, and can’t wait to see what’s next!

I’ve been playing around with some of those beauty bits I picked up last weekend, and I’ll do a proper review at some point, but so far I’m loving the mini ‘It’s Potent’ from Benefit. It’s only been a week, and I might be totally wrong, but I’m sure the dark circles under my eyes have reduced. Could this be a miracle cream? I’ve also played around a bit with the colour corrector palette I picked up from Collection at Boots, and so far I’m impressed. The formulas aren’t amazing, but for a £5.99 palette what can you expect? The concept behind them, and how they work on my skin are a big thumbs up so far.

I posted up a review midweek of It Follows, which is a current favourite movie of mine. If you missed the post, check it out. I’d love to hear what you thought of the film if you’ve seen it.

img_4781

We started watching the new Judd Apatow min-series Love, which one episode in, is very intriquing. If you love watching Girls I think you’ll love this, since Judd Apatow is involved with both, they have a similar feel to them. I love his movies so I guessed I’d probably like this too. So far so good!

Gary and I, in our aim to eat healthily, took a visit to Five Guys for dinner on Friday…. We love the burgers there, but came away stinking of grease from sitting in the restaurant. We’d never noticed this problem before, but two days later we’ve noticed the smell is still lingering on our coats when we’ve been bundling up to leave the house. Really nasty – it might help to prevent us going back any time soon, which can only be a help towards our healthy eating plan. Tonight I’m trying out Nigella’s Mexican lasagne, and can’t wait to have it in my belly!

image

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of a Skype chat with my friend Tash who has been in Vietnam and Thailand since mid September last year. I really miss her so it’s been great to catch up with her, and see her face! She’s hoping to be back in about 3 months, so she can join us as bridesmaid for Sarah’s wedding. In the meantime I’m thankful for Whatsapp and Skype so I can chat with her at the click of a button.

image

We’ve had a couple of snow flurries this week, and a hail storm this afternoon. The weather is so turbulent at the moment, but towards the end of next week we’re hoping to get back to double figures. I’m longing for light jackets and pretty clothes again!

image

Today we saw some half marathon runners, running for the MK Festival of Running. I haven’t run properly since my injury last year, and have been happy to take some time off. I usually gauge how much my subconscious wants to run by how I react when I see other people running. Seeing these guys plodding along completing a half marathon race today made me wish I was there with them. So I’m hoping this is a sign for things to come. When the mornings and evenings are lighter I’d like to begin with short runs around the block again. I hate it when I’m doing it, but love the feeling afterwards. And I need to work off these visits to Five Guys somehow!

New York, New Year

Hello! I’m aware I’ve probably started the last few blog posts with ‘it’s been a while’. I needed a break and made a conscious effort not to post just because I hadn’t in a while.

Lots has been going on in my life and my brain and I felt I deserved a little break!

I mentioned in my last post that Gary and I were off to New York for a little holiday over Christmas. We flew out on Christmas Day, after having spent the second half of Christmas Eve with family, sharing presents and generally getting into the holiday spirit.

Our cases were only half full, since it was only a 4-night break, however I did intend to utilise this space on the way back and so did my wallet…. The flight out was uneventful and surprisingly full considering the date. We’d opted to splash out on extra leg room seats, which was much appreciated. I made use of the media centre, and watched 3 episodes of The Affair which I’d heard about but was yet to see. I then watched Jurassic World and we landed.

I managed to sleep some on the way there, aided by a large glass of white wine, which abated my jet lag and helped me throughout the rest of our extra-long day – well it was Christmas!

On landing we were immediately aware of the heat and humidity of an unseasonably warm Christmas Day in New York. 18c and very humid, we shed our coats and scarves as soon as we’d checked into the hotel (The Warwick) and ventured out in light sweaters and seek out the Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Centre. The streets were teeming with people, and it was hard to do anything but shuffle about. But we found the tree and got some photos and just as we had walked around to come at it from another angle we heard the Home Alone music being played from Saks 5th Avenue, right in front of the tree. It was a magical moment, and a memory we won’t be forgetting any time soon.

image

We then shuffled our way to find some Christmas dinner, and settled on a Five Guys in the hotel room – we will now forever call Five Guys ‘Christmas Dinner’.

Our room was lovely and we were upgraded to a corner room overlooking 6th Avenue and were given free wifi too! At this point it was about 2am UK time and we decided it was a good time to sleep.

Over the next few days we hit the Boxing Day sales. The news reporters made me nervous with images of lines out the door but they were all fine, and I was able to get some great bargain – things are way over-priced in the UK! I picked up my ‘You are Here’ New York Starbucks mug and some Macy’s baubles for the tree too. We visited the World Trade Center memorial, new World Trade Center tower and the museum. We ate in some lovely cafes and walked around tons of delis.

One of the things on my must-see list was to eat at Katz’s Deli, which featured in When Harry Met Sally (my favourite, and probably most viewed movie). Arriving a little earlier than we wanted to eat ensured we got a seat in the table service section, and beat the lines which built up within about 5 minutes of us arriving. An amazing place, with a wonderful atmosphere, the deli was full of all kinds of people and amazing food. I opted for a cheese steak and potato salad. Both were amazing and I haven’t stopped thinking about the flavours ever since.

image

The weather cooled down after a day or two and we were able to wrap up. Over the days we were there, we rediscovered our love for the city. Having been 3 times previously in a fairly short space of time, we had figured we were over New York. But visiting lower Manhattan showed us that there were so many places we still needed to see. Areas we would never have dreamed of venturing to a decade ago have become more accessible, and Times Square has become so inaccessible – literally, you can’t walk through it, it’s too darn busy!

By the end of the holiday we were tired but back in love with the city. We’re dreaming of going back in the future, but this time for longer, to live out dreams we have and spend more time soaking it all in.

image

On our return we still had 5 days before we had to go back to work, so we spent this recovering. An ITB injury returned due to the 45 miles we’d walked whilst away, so a lot of rest was needed, and it usually takes me a while to recover from jet lag too. We watched the whole seasons 1-2 of The Affair which is an incredible show (and have since watched Making a Murderer, because, you know, who hasn’t?).

New Year was spent at home, and I cooked us a Christmas Dinner so we didn’t miss out. We opened the letters we wrote to ourselves last year and read out our Good Things from the memories jar we’d been adding to all year. It was a lovely evening. We even watched When Harry Met Sally (again) and managed to time it so that the end when they’re shouting Happy New Year coincided with midnight in reality.

New Year’s day was spent lazily in the morning, and then a long lunch with Gary’s family. It was during this meal that I made the final decision to begin my 3rd 365 project, this time via Instagram. (You can follow me via @groggits or clicking the Instagram widget to the right.) We also went to Ikea and bought a new mattress which was long overdue, and seriously needed! My poor back couldn’t cope anymore!

Since then it’s been back to work. I appear to have a make-up and beauty obsession. It happens every few years, but this year I seem to be actually using the stuff I’ve bought. My Sephora trip was much needed, but Gary’s starting to get a glazed look every time I speak about beauty products….

I intend to post a blog with my latest favourite beauty products, so stay tuned – there’s quite a few! I also signed up for GlossyBox and have been very pleased with the first box which arrived this week.

I decided not to return to Rock Choir this term, and instead focus on me, health and hopefully fitness for the next few months. After lots going on and things happening in my life I need that clarity. And just making decisions like that makes such a difference overall.

So that’s me, up to date. Keep checking back for new posts, which will hopefully become more regular again from now on – or subscribe and/or follow me via bloglovin’ (widgets to the right)

Sarah’s Ibiza Hen, Pt 1

I’ve been away from the blogosphere for a few weeks, and that’s mainly because I’ve been preparing for being away, being away and then recovering from being away!

I’ve recently returned from Ibiza, where me and 3 of my best friends went to celebrate the engagement and impending wedding of Sarah. It was my first girly holiday and first time to Ibiza. The whole break had been planned out meticulously by Caz, who had been 7 times before and knows how to plan a holiday.

And now a warning: this post, and the ones to follow are going to have a lot of pictures in them, so if your browser can’t hack it maybe you should upgrade your browser…. it’s 2015!

So we arrived at Caz’s house after an evening of panic that my case was going to go over the weight limit which included me driving to Tash’s to pick up her suitcase scales and discovering I was, indeed, taking too many dresses, belts and shoes…..

It was about 5 minutes before the first bottle of cava was opened. Who doesn’t want to toast a holiday at 6am? We were surprised with a beautiful stretch limo, organised by fiance, Nick, complete with more wine….. Start as you mean to go on!

imageChecked in at the airport and luggage successfully weighed and allowed on the plane (phew!) we headed off for a breakfast and relax until our gate was called.

The flight was quick and uneventful, since I’m used to long haul flights it felt like we were barely flying an hour!

imageOnce off the plane, we were greeted by our driver from the airport to our first hotel, which was situated in San Antonio. Overlooking the beach front, the Marina Playa Apartment Hotel was perfect. Each room slept two (or three on a pull out sofa-bed), had kitchenette and bathroom and a beautiful view of the beach. Each balcony looked out over the pool area.

imageAfter a quick unpack and mini sunbathe by the pool, we put on our glad rags and took a walk to what would be our first meal of many in a beautiful location.

Kumharas, situated on a tiny beach, was a perfect location for us to watch our first sunset, have a drink and toast the holiday. The sangria here was beautiful and it was so relaxing to sit and watch the sun go down.

imageimageOnce the sun had gone down, we moved to the restaurant area for our dinner reservation, and true to form Caz had arranged for us to eat in their chill out area. This was a low table on a platform with cushions to sit on and draped fabric over head.

imageWhilst we ate, people shopped at the mini hippy market behind us, and danced to the music played by the DJ well into the evening. It was great for people watching and the food was lovely.

imageFairly sleepy from the early start, and the sea air, we walked back to the hotel just as flashes of lightning threatened the skies.

dDspite this we slept well. It was a big day on Day 2 – the Hen day! We dedicated a whole day to Sarah’s Hen, with secret activities and theme. Sarah came to Tash and my room, that morning, where we had decorated in a nautical theme, prepared a breakfast and dressed up complete with captain’s hats!

imageWe played music, ate and Caz provided us with a photo treasure hunt, for photos we needed to take throughout the trip. The person who completed their list would win a prize!

image

This was followed by pass the parcel, with forfeits and prizes!

image

We then dressed up for our first activity – lunch at Es Nautic. This was a lovely restaurant on the marina serving amazing seafood and fish.

imageimageFrom here we headed to the sunset strip and to Savanna for cocktail making. There was more drinking than making to be honest. After two glasses of cava, two strawberry daiquiris, one porn star martini and a mojito we were feeling rather merry….

image

Though we did manage to get some cocktail making done, behind the bar too!

imageAfter this we headed to the marina and to a beautiful speedboat. But the skies were threatening another storm, and on the advice of our skipper we rescheduled our speed boat trip for later in the week. Having pre booked sushi on the boat for the evening we ate this on the balcony whilst the clouds rolled in. Then we got ready for the final activity of the day.

Caz wanted us to have a classy holiday but she also wanted us to visit one of the more ‘chavvy’ clubs so off to Es Paradis we went. Es Paradis was having its water party, so it went with our nautical theme.

imageimageDespite waiting until the early hours (and Caz and Sarah waited until the even earlier hours) we didn’t see the pool (pictured behind us, above) fill up.

Day 3 began with a leisurely walk to a nearby cafe and a lovely breakfast. Just what I needed.

imageWe met a lovely Spanish waiter there who looked like Drake, had never left Spain but whose accent flipped between Scottish and Liverpudlian…. it was bizarre!

From here we got ready for our next activity, which was Zoo Project. Situated in an old abandoned Zoo, people visit dressed up in feathers and snake skins, with body paint, ready to dance. With clubbing and chill out areas it promised to be exciting. The girls had all opted for body paint, whereas I’m not really a body paint kinda gal, so I made use of my Urban Decay Electric palette and painted on rainbow eyes.

imageimageLunch was at Ibiza Rocks bar. Yummy strawberry sangria and burgers. And then we headed to Zoo.

We spent most of our evening dancing, watching DJs and dancers at the seal pit, then headed to the chill out area to listen to musicians and watch more dancers and acrobats. We also got rather hungry so grabbed some outdoor BBQ which was delicious. I enjoyed it all, but I could have stayed in the chill out area for hours.

And so ended day 3! We had barely started…. stay tuned for the next part!