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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Review of 2013

2013 has been a strange year for me; in the earlier part of the year I was struggling to find work, but then I got my teaching post and have been run off my feet ever since. However, intermingled with that have been plenty of fun times. I'm not even sure what my hopes and aims are for 2014 - I've never been much of one for making new year resolutions. I just hope that 2014 is a happy and healthy one for all my friends and readers of course.

Right, kicking off the best parts of 2013...

Firstly, there was lots of travelling.

Including Edinburgh for my Birthday

Monday, 30 December 2013


A belated Merry Christmas to you all! We spent the days surrounding Christmas with M's parents in Manchester. Our arrival was fairly eventful. We were supposed to land on the 23rd in Gatwick from Amsterdam, before getting a train up to Manchester the following day. However the winds saw fit to do otherwise and our flight was delayed by 5 hours before landing at  Liverpool as Gatwick was deemed too dangerous.

Luckily for us, Manchester and Liverpool are relatively close so M's parents kindly collected us in the middle of the night.

Following our unorthodox journey there, Christmas was perfect - filled with good food, drink and Cranium.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Amsterdam Part 2

I really love Amsterdam. Despite the fact that there are 'coffee shops' serving cannabis and a well known red light district, it's a really safe, clean, accessible city. Being only 45 minute by plane from London makes it really convenient too.

Amsterdam is like England. It's really open to other culture's cuisines. As such you can find pretty much any world food there. The coffee is also fabulous as are the chocolate and cheese shops - a real foodie haven.

We were staying right around the corner from an amazing store - full of quirky clothing and interiors complete with a cafe upstairs- called Hutspot. You could (we did) spend a whole afternoon there perusing the shelves.

Amsterdam Part 1

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Christmas dinner 10 days early

We stupidly agreed to host a pre-Christmas at ours. Our kitchen is absolutely diddy (2mx3m) so I thought it was pretty much mission impossible. Because I didn't want to stress out too much about the cooking we bought things like cranberry sauce and bread sauce pre-made. The rest we did ourselves with a little help from our friends.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Sunday, 24 November 2013

A weekend full of roasts

I have well and truly dived into wintery roasts this weekend.

Cold, dark days and nights are only good for one thing: snuggling up on the sofa and eating roasts. Lucky me ate 2 roasts this weekend, and even more lucky than that, I didn't have to cook either of them.

The first was at my friend's house. Lucy's boyfriend Sam is a fabulous cook and we were more than a little impressed with his roast lamb and all the trimmings, especially as he cooked the lamb on the BBQ outside in November!

We started with his homemade sweet potato soup.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

The Cross, Kenilworth

It feels like aaaaages since I last knocked out a blog post. Bath feels like a life time ago, too. I hate being an absent blogger, so I've dedicated a little time today to write this one.

This weekend I went back to Warwickshire to visit my beloved Grandma as it's her 88th birthday tomorrow, not that I need any kind of excuse to go and see her!

We took her to the same place we always go - The Cross in Kenilworth. It's recently changed hands but the food's much the same - think gastro pub/restaurant fayre. At £25 for a three course Sunday lunch it's definitely not cheap, but we all enjoyed ourselves hugely. My favourite course was my starter: battered duck egg with a melting yolk, bacon, black pudding and salad. Pretty much breakfast in starter form - what more could you want? I'll let the pictures do the talking...

Friday, 1 November 2013


M and I spent a couple of glorious days in Bath over half term. We used the amazing Airbnb again (which I've raved about numerous times before) and stayed in Brenda's central apartment for £95 a night.

the outside of our apartment

It was my first visit to Bath and I completely fell in love with the city. It's so quaint and the buildings, made out of sandstone, make Bath one of the most stunning cities in England.

We spent the first day wandering around, getting our bearings.

I called in at True Grace candles and couldn't resist buying a set of samples. Having spent £50 on candles, I knew there and then that I should slink back to our apartment without even a glance at any more of the shops.

However, I hadn't reckoned on Seven Boot Lane and, unfortunately, our walk back took us right past their shop. I spotted these bad boys immediately. At £175 they're definitely not cheap, but the quality of the boot and leather is unbelievable. They'll see me through the next 10 winters, I swear. According to the girl that served us Seven Boot Lane is an independent boot company where a man makes every boot by hand in Spain. Check out their blog here.

The next day we visited the Thermae Bath Spa - an unprecedented let down. What a waste of time - so over crowded (why don't they put a cap on numbers?) and bizarrely nowhere to sit and relax in the pools unless you don't mind squeezing on the Jacuzzi seat which was always full. The changing rooms were similar set up to Center Parcs - unisex - nothing luxurious about them at all. I'm so glad we only went for 2 hours - I was bored stiff. We avoided extra annoying charges by taking our own towels, dressing gowns and slippers.

After watching this year's Great British Bake Off, I couldn't resist calling in for a Sally Lunn Bun which are absolutely huge. They're like a croissant crossed with a brioche bun but not as sweet as either. Well worth a try if you're ever in Bath.

We ate dinner at Sotto Sotto, Bath's number one restaurant according to Trip Advisor. Although our food was fine, we struggled to see what all the fuss was about. Our sharing bread was effectively just a very oily pizza and my fettucine with artichoke and truffle cream didn't even have a hint of truffle flavour.  The underground rooms with vaulted ceilings and waiting staff do deserve a special mention though as they were really lovely.

I can't recommend Bath enough if you want a few days away. It's just so beautiful and I know it'll be super christmassy in December. I've a good mind to go back then just to see what it's like.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Visiting 'the Making of Harry Potter'

M planned a surprise day out today as he knows I love surprises. Unfortunately, I'm the world's most annoying girlfriend and never actually end up getting surprised as I spend the whole time guessing every last possibility beforehand. I'm ever worse with christmas presents. No surprises therefore when I guessed we were off to the 'Making of Harry Potter' at the Warner Bros studio in Watford.

As a huge Harry Potter fan, I've been dying to go ever since it opened. There's no point writing much - the photos negate any need for that. I'll only add that it was truly magical seeing all the film sets in real life - I couldn't believe how small some of them were. The beds in the boys' dormitory were diddy!

The tour itself only took a couple of hours. Tickets were £29 each. It was really good and magical, but I'm not sure I'd be rushing back to go again - it's effectively just a Harry Potter museum. I'm not sure what else I was expecting!

We bought some Butterbeer which I hated - it was like cream soda with spicy coke, bleurgh. M enjoyed it hugely.