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!

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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.

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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.

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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 🙂

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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!

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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….

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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….

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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!

Day Trippin’ in Liverpool

Last weekend Gary and I headed up to Liverpool. My Mum had won tickets in a competition for free entry to The Beatles Story and asked whether we wanted to come along. So on Friday night after work, we packed our bags and headed off for the 3 hour drive to the Docks.

We’d decided to stay at the Titanic Hotel which is about a mile from Liverpool centre. Having only been open a year, we’d never seen it before, but were mightily impressed. The hotel was built within an old rum warehouse and decor inside was amazing. Bare brick walls and wrought iron beams were exposed everywhere. The staff dressed in their denim waistcoats, shirts and jeans were very friendly, and checked us in quickly. By this time we were exhausted and just wanted to sleep!

Once on our floor and out of the lift we were amazed by the size firstly of the hallway leading to the rooms, and then the size of the rooms.

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The floor space of our room and bathroom combined was larger than the floor space of our house… no joke. The bed was massive but was dwarfed in the huge room! After a quick Skype with my Mum and a quick Periscope to show people what the room was like, we called it a night and went to bed.

We woke fairly early in the morning, since the night before we’d discovered what looked like a potentially wonderful place to have breakfast. Moose Coffee promised to serve American/Canadian style food, and an all day breakfast. Just looking at their menu made me hungry and we could tell that they would probably get busy fast. We walked down and arrived 20 minutes after opening. We were told there would be a 15 minute wait, which was fine with us. We were the only ones waiting and within about 10 minutes we had our table. By then there were about 5 other parties waiting for tables.

We were sat upstairs. I ordered coffee and a Mighty Moose and Gary ordered OJ and pancakes.

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I was unable to wait to dip into my egg before taking the photo, sorry! My breakfast was a garlic, onion and mustard hash, fried eggs, bacon and warm toast. It was very very good and right up my street.

From here we walked to the Albert Dock and met my parents. The Beatles Story has two locations, one at the Albert Dock and one about 10 minutes walk down the docks. The Albert Dock location was heaving so it was suggested to us to begin our tour at the second location, which is what we did.

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On our walk we passed lots of locks on the docks 😀

Starting with the 4D Beatles experience (which was fun, but nothing compared with 4DX) and then moving onto the museum tour. Art work and costumes dominated this part of the Beatles Story.

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This was the view of the docks from the gallery. Soon we were ready to walk over to the other location and the lines had diminished.

Gary and I had visited the Beatles Story before but it was interesting to see it all again.

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From here we grabbed a quick lunch and headed back to our hotel to change for the evening.

My Mum had bought us all tickets to see the John Lennon Songbook, a show of John Lennon and Beatles music played by the Liverpool Philharmonic and his life narrated by Mark McGann. It was an interesting performance and was lovely to hear the music played by an orchestra.

Before we headed to the show we stopped at Yee Rah at Liverpool One, a fusion restaurant we’d eaten at the last time we were in Liverpool and really enjoyed. We made it into the restaurant just as the rain started! I ordered Massaman Curry.

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The meal was amazing. So tasty, and even though it was marked as not spicy it made my ears itch – that’s a sign that it’s just spicy enough! I’ve been craving another bowl of it ever since.

The next day we had a lazy morning in the hotel, breakfast and packed our bags. We then headed to the Philharmonic Dining Rooms where we were having Sunday lunch with my parents. There’s nothing like a nice roast dinner on a Sunday!

Our drive home was fairly uneventful, however we kept ourselves entertained by listening to some of the Hot Dub Time Machine podcast I had downloaded. They’re amazing, if you haven’t heard them.

And so ended our weekend! But the weekend fun doesn’t end there….. we were lucky enough to get tickets to London Film and Comic Con for the BTTF 30th anniversary celebrations next weekend, and we can’t wait! I’ll no doubt be Periscoping and instagramming from the event, so make sure to follow me!

An Impromptu Trip

A couple of weekends ago, not wanting our holiday to end on the Friday and go back to normality quite yet, we decided to take the train to London. We do this semi-regularly but decided we wanted to go somewhere we hadn’t been before, and somewhere outside since the weather was so glorious.

London is wonderful in the Summer. Hanging baskets are full of flowers, people are everywhere enjoying the sun (and street fashion moves up another level). We headed for Borough Market, located underneath London Bridge. Its history goes back to the 11th century and it’s exactly what you’d want from a market like this. Split between two sides of the bridge, one side is mainly produce – breads, fruit, vegetable, meat, cheese, fruit. There’s smoothies and juices, cakes, sandwiches, teas and spices.

IMG_3238Had our journey home not have been so long on a hot train, I would have started shopping. Instead we were good and bought some fresh juices and flavoured breads for brunch.

IMG_3239I also did a little Periscoping!

The other side of the bridge was more produce but also fish, cakes and pastries and food carts. One particular cart stuck in my mind – a German food stand selling raclette. Huge wheels of cheese had been cut in half and then turned on their sides, braced in a special vice and the cut ends melted until bubbling. It was then scooped onto new potatoes and topped with cornichon. Unable to eat that much cheese I was devestated I couldn’t try this – the line was huge and you know that means it’s going to be good. But there was all sorts of other foods and it smelled amazing!

I plan to go back, with a large wodge of cash and a tote bag!

I also want to mention another amazing event I attended the next day. I’ve run the Race for Life for the last 2 years and had signed up this year, only to royally injur myself a few months ago. I still can’t run, but my friend Tash, who I’ve run the last two with offered to take my number and run with another friend Sarah. Sarah was determined to PB this race, and as a non runner had been training hard to achieve this year.

On that freezing cold, wet and windy Sunday morning we huddled under our brolly. Gary and I then stood by and watched as Tash and Sarah smashed their race and both finished with PBs – Sarah finished over 9 minutes faster than the previous year!

IMG_3241This was taken at the end of their race – see how good they look?! I’m so proud of these two, and so grateful to Tash for taking my place.

Here’s to next year!

Summer, Fairs and Singing

Last weekend we headed off for Towcester racecourse, for their annual Food and Drink fair. The weather had taken a turn for the better, and despite it being windy it was mild and a great day to visit. Looking at the stalls only took us around an hour but we spotted a couple of dairy free stalls and some lovely places selling yummy sauces. We’re both partial to a good sauce, and since visiting Las Vegas I’ve been trying to find a mustard sauce to rival the one I had the Tap Sports Bar. We found one that came pretty close!

Heading back from there we realised that the West Bletchley Carnival was on so we walked down to the park where it was being held. It was the perfect day for it, and the musical entertainment was really good. Complete with mini fun fair and mini train rides, it was a great turn out!

Sunday was a busy day, as me and Mum were heading to the NEC in Birmingham, for Rock Choir 10 Live! A party to celebrate Rock Choir’s 10th birthday. The audience of the arena was made up of many choirs from around the country all sitting in their choir sections, with a catwalk stage down the middle. It was a great experience, with everyone singing along with the music they knew and the choir leaders performing too. We even had guests, Kiki Dee and Chesney Hawkes who came to sing with us.

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It was a long day but really special to sing with everyone together and see how Rock Choir has changed people’s lives over the years. It was a great party!

RC8This past week has been another busy one, but made better by the weather seemingly improving for good. We’ve had some great warmth, but some crazy humidity with it. I’m hoping this trend continues because I’m on holiday at the end of this week and I’d rather like to work on my tan!

Also, great news is that all the Book Club are now back in the country after some amazing travels and we managed to get together (minus one of us who was on holiday in the UK – it’s hard to pin us down!) on Thursday. It was wonderful to be, mostly, back together again and start making plans for the rest of the summer!

More brilliant things are happening next weekend, but you’ll have to wait to hear about those!