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Category Archives: seafood

Five Friday Favourites #17

Blood Brothers

It feels like ages ago that I booked these tickets for my parents’ Christmas present but the weekend finally rolled around to go and see this show in Bristol. It is my favourite musical and we all really enjoyed it. We had a fab day in the sunshine walking along the Harbourside, enjoying cocktails and eating pizza.

The Longs Arms

Another mention for mine and Ian’s favourite pub! We went up here for dinner last night as, and usual, it was stunning. We shared starters of lobster and a goats meat scotch egg then I had lemon sole while Ian had the lamb. I always look forward to pudding and seeing what crazy flavour of ice-cream is on the menu and this time we sampled root beer, cream soda, Nutella, peanut butter and jam and – my new favourite – Jaffa Cake.

New Earrings

I rediscovered these earrings that my best friend Lu bought me for my birthday. They are lovely silver swallows and I have been wearing them all week.

Becca Highlighter

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This week, I have been really enjoying wearing the Shimmering Skin Perfector by Becca in the shade Moonstone as recommended by The Anna Edit. I like how natural this looks and I really do think it suits paler complexions.

Sliders

I have been after a pair of pool sliders since last summer. I saw these in Primark and I thought they looked really fun and they are actually really comfortable. It’s one of the first times that I have stopped to wonder whether I am too ‘old’ for an item of clothing but then realised I didn’t really care and headed to the tills!

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Tenerife

I love looking back at my travel posts and remembering little details I may have forgotten. For this reason, I wanted to write a short post on our 5 nights in Tenerife. It wasn’t the most jam-packed all-action holiday but we literally googled ‘hottest place in Europe in April’ and the Canary Islands kept coming up so we booked it a few weeks ago and looked forward to sun, good food and a chance to relax.

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We stayed in a little town called Puerto de la Cruz. I liked the fact that our hotel was right on the beach and that we could wander along the seafront at night watching the sunset and the waves. We managed to see the Semana Santa parade one evening too and indulged in a fish pedicure (Ian’s idea of hell!)

We did paddle on the black sands one afternoon but the current was so strong we didn’t wade in too far!

Our hotel itself was lovely. I was surprised at how lush the north of Tenerife was and we had an abundance of palm trees, plants and cacti in the grounds of the hotel – and loads of lizards running around too.

The food was wonderful – I got a bit obsessed with churros and Nutella for breakfast everyday, paella with clams for lunch then mojo sauce which is a garlicky, herby salsa that I liberally spooned over everything! We also had a Spanish cheeseboard every night as I am just not a fan of Spanish desserts.

One evening, we ate in the hotel’s a la carte restaurant where we enjoyed a great meal including a delicious duck dish.

One of my favourite places to hang out was our balcony. We had the sun on it in the late afternoon so we would sit out with a beer before dinner then again before we went to bed with candle lit, planning future holidays and putting the world to rights.

I still have a week off work so plan on using that time to read and get all those little jobs done that I keep putting off!

Happy Easter x

Why I am a Cruise Convert

I have had several friends quiz me about our recent holidays and many were surprised when we told them we had been on two cruises this year. I kind of understand how they feel though. Before I tried them myself, I had the preconception that cruises were a) really expensive and b) for old people!

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However, when looking at visiting Cuba earlier this year, we came across a cruise option and it stuck with me. We were slightly apprehensive when we boarded but ended up enjoying it so much we went on another mini-cruise around Scandinavia and the Baltics this summer and our trip to Japan later this year is part-cruise too.

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Here are my reasons for enjoying a cruise:

  • The food on board is ace. Eating out is a big part of going away for me and the dining options on a cruise ship are great. Whether you fancy a poolside slice of homemade pizza, a bit of everything from the buffet or a formal dining experience, a cruise ship ticks all boxes. I made sure I tried the local cuisine whilst on shore but we loved the foodie side of the ship.

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  • Most ships tend to be quite luxurious and offer really excellent service. We found the staff to be amazingly helpful and the public areas spotless.
  • There is a lot to do on a cruise ship (but no pressure to do it!) Yes, like a hotel, some of the entertainment can be a bit cheesy but there are various activities to do to keep you occupied. We went to the gym a few times as well as some shows in the theatre. There are also usually casinos, spas, quizzes, crafts, talks about the ports you will visit, dance classes, yoga, pilates, etc. Our Japan cruise also includes a traditional Japanese spa with a strict no-swimming costume policy (!) and a nightly film on top deck under the stars complete with blankets, hot chocolate and popcorn!
  • You get to visit some amazing places without the hassle of negotiating local transport. It really is cool to go to sleep in one place and wake up in a brand new destination to explore. I guess we almost treat it like a floating hotel and it really does feel very ‘easy’ getting from one port to the next. A cruise also takes care of things like visas which we found very useful when visiting Russia this summer.

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  • It’s not full of oldies! Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I was pleasantly surprised to see a much younger-than-expected clientele on a cruise ship. We ended up chatting to people of different ages and nationalities.
  • You only need to unpack your suitcase once! One of the biggest hassles we found on our road trip was the constant packing and unpacking of our stuff. I really like the fact that a cruise ship gives you a constant base to come back to.
  • It is quite a ‘safe’ way to travel. Now, I don’t mean this in a no-danger sense: I mean that it is great for less-intrepid travellers. I must admit that when we were researching our holiday to Japan, I was a bit nervous at the thought of getting around in a country where I don’t speak the language or even use the same alphabet. Although we will obviously be out and about on our own when we dock in a port, there is a bit of me that feels a bit more reassured at not having to negotiate buses and trains there.
  • You see some amazing sights. When we travelled from Stockholm to Tallin this summer, we sailed past beautiful little islands and saw lots of dream summer houses whilst enjoying a glorious sunset. I also loved sailing out of Havana and seeing the city from a completely different angle.

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  • It’s not as expensive as it seems. Yes, cruising isn’t cheap but when you factor in all the elements (all-inclusive food and drink, great service, entertainment, travelling from place to place, accommodation) it would be hard to beat booking all the elements separately.
  • There are excellent excursions on offer. I think cruise companies know you want to make the most of your time in a destination so there are some amazing trips offered to suit most budgets. We did a great walking tour of Havana, went ziplining through the rainforest in Jamaica and went tequila tasting in Mexico. Likewise, there is no pressure to book these and we also enjoyed doing our own thing each day on our summer cruise.

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Now, I will say that there are some aspects that you may feel are a downside to cruising but it really does depend on the kind of holiday you are after. We tend to switch between wanting something action-packed (like our American road trip in the summer of 2015) or complete relaxation and a cruise can tick some boxes for each.

Here are some of the negative aspects of a cruise holiday:

  • You are tied to the sailing times of the ship so have a limited time in each place.
  • You may feel that a day isn’t long enough to get a real feel for a place and I would agree to some extent. However, I tend to treat a cruise as a ‘taster’ of a country and our one day in Helsinki has made me want to return to Finland to experience more.
  • You may feel slightly claustrophobic on a ship. Personally, I didn’t feel this but I do understand that you may feel a bit trapped, especially if you have a few days at sea without any ports.
  • In some ports, you are slightly preyed upon by locals to buy things, take trips etc which can be a bit overwhelming.

In summary, I am really glad I put aside my preconceptions and gave this type of holiday a try. I feel I have been to countries I may not have visited otherwise and came home feeling well-rested yet like I had been on a jam-packed holiday. Whilst I would describe myself as a convert to cruising, it certainly wouldn’t be the only type of holiday I would take. I still like staying in one place for a week and discovering the local charms but I definitely see some more cruises in our future.

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Would you ever consider a cruise? x

Sunday Summary #48 and #49

Life

I have been a bit MIA on the blog recently so what better time to start afresh than the start of the month and the start of the most magical month at that! Yes, it’s December today which means all Christmas activities are now entirely appropriate and I don’t have to hide the fact my Christmas tree has been up for almost a week now – I even had the bands on my braces replaced with red and green ones!

I was shocked to hear the news that Fidel Castro had died and it made me so happy that we had managed to get to Cuba and see Havana earlier this year before things really start to change.

For my book club, I started reading The Versions of Us. It has good reviews and I’m enjoying it so far.

I’m not usually a huge fan of reality TV but Ian and I are loving I’m a Celeb this year. I find Ant and Dec hilarious (and so camp!) and the contestants seem a really nice group this year.

It has started to feel like winter this week with ice on the ground and having to spend ages de-icing my car in the morning. I’m overcompensating with extra blankets, cosy knitwear and lots of candles! Talking of candles, I made a few purchases at Bath and Body Works when we were in Boston and am enjoying starting to burn them.

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The cold weather has meant I have been drinking tea non-stop and tea addicts will appreciate the importance of a good mug. I love using this glass cup I bought in St. Petersburg this summer – something about holding it in both hands makes it feel so warming and comforting.

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Food

I headed up to London last weekend to catch up with several friends. I had the most delicious brunch with my friends Cat and Lucie at Jam in a Jar. I could have ordered most of the menu but instead opted for a healthy-ish breakfast plate with eggs, sourdough, smoked salmon, avocado amongst the contents…heaven!

I also met up with my friends from uni for our annual Thanksgiving meal. The food was delicious, especially the slice of pumpkin pie.

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We had an amazing meal recently at a local pub, The Longs Arms. It is probably my favourite place to eat at the moment and I am yet to enjoy a meal there I haven’t raved about! This time, I had lamb scrumpets followed by brill and cockled and a lemon crème brûlée and they were all divine.

Fashion

I made a little ASOS order this week for a couple of items. Firstly, a pair of Christmas cacti socks!

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I also picked up this striped jumper with suede elbow patches. I love the split sides on it and plan on wearing it non-stop.

Beauty

Despite telling Ian not to bother this year, he bought me this L’Occitane en Provence beauty advent calendar. The illustrations are beautiful and I love the hand cream I received today.

I was a little bit blasé about all the Black Friday deal that kept appearing in my inbox but I did put an order in at Organic Surge which I will share soon. I bought a bundle of their bestsellers and cannot wait to start using them as they smell amazing, are all organic and the company has a really great ethos too.

Finally, I have been really enjoying rediscovering the Maybelline Color Tattoo cream eyeshadows. I used them years ago and recently bought Bad to the Bronze and forgot how pigmented and long lasting they are.

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Travel Diaries – A Week in Boston (Part Two)

Day Four

Our fourth day in Boston started with my first ever cronut! Man, this was delicious.

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We got the train to Salem which was about 40 minutes away. I have to say that we were both kind of disappointed by it. You would think that Salem, a place renowned for its spooky heritage, would be great around Halloween but it was all a bit try-hard and tired. There were some street performances which were fun to see and the graveyard and memorial sites were interesting but there were too many witch museums and haunted houses – all claiming to be the original/ scariest/ most authentic.

We had a walk along the coast before visiting Salem Beer Works. Here we did two beer flights, working our way through some East coast beers and some seasonal specials. I had a delicious cinnamon beer and a fruity one with real blueberries floating in it. I think there was a fairground and parade that opened in the evenings in Salem which may have been better to see.

After returning to the city, we found a bar to watch the Liverpool game then headed to TD Garden for our first ever ice hockey game. We were watching the Boston Bruins who are meant to be quite good but ended up losing. However I was happy as we got to see a fight within the first few minutes followed by regular scuffles throughout the game!

Day 5

The next morning, we were up and out early for a tour of Sam Adams craft brewery…yep drinking before 10am! This was a great little tour where we found out a bit about how the brewery started and worked our way through some samples.

Afterwards we got the T to Chinatown and had the best lunch. We ordered a Mongolian hotpot which came in a split bowl filled with two different types of stock, placed on an electric hob on the table. Separately, we had plates of fresh vegetables, raw prawns and beef, cooked rice and some noodles which you drop into the stock and allow to cook. This was a bit messy but a really fun lunch!

We did a spot of shopping that afternoon then headed back to TD Garden, this time to watch Boston Celtics. This was our first basketball game and it was really fun. There was a bit more atmosphere than the previous night (and it wasn’t as cold!) and we won too! We also had free t-shirts as it was the first game of the season.

Day 6

Our last full day started with a big walk along the river. We had some lovely  views of the city and wandered down Charles Street to Boston Common to enjoy pumpkin-spiced lattes in the park surrounded by squirrels.

We decided to have a final blow-out seafood lunch and I had read good things about The Barking Crab. We started with clams and prawns in garlic butter then I had a lobster roll and Ian had a mixed seafood platter. You really do have to indulge in seafood in Boston – it was so fresh and tasty.

I had been building up to a Sephora visit so I sent Ian back to the hotel and indulged in an hour of me-time, coming away with quite a hefty bag which I will share soon!

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For our last night, I had booked us tickets to ‘Rise of the Jack ‘o’ Lanterns’: an art exhibition made entirely of carved pumpkins. We went out for Mexican first then headed to the show.

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It was really amazing to see the skill involved and the exhibition took place in a darkened room which really added to the atmosphere – I took a lot of photos…

Day 7

We were travelling home today so spent the morning packing before a trip to the Boston Public Library. This is such a beautiful building and it had a really cool map exhibition too.

We had our final meal at 5 Napkins Burgers where I had one of the tastiest burgers of my life topped with smoked onion and rosemary relish and melted gruyere cheese…wow!

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I don’t feel I can write about a trip to America without mentioning the result of the elections this week. In the UK, Trump was presented as a total buffoon with Hillary as the voice of reason but when we were in the States, the constant adverts on TV painted a very different picture with Trump being a ‘true American’ whereas Hillary was a ‘criminal’ following the email scandal. Ian and I even remarked that it looked like quite an even race between the two of them which is why I wasn’t totally surprised at the result.

However, that isn’t to say that I am not completely gutted at the result either. I hope Trump has enough skilled, sensible and experienced people around him to keep him in check but bigger than that is the message of sexism, racism and homophobia that I feel has triumphed. Polls have shown that young Americans mostly voted in favour of Hillary so you can only hope this is just a four year blip in the history of a country that I truly love to visit.

Travel Diaries – A Week in Boston (Part One)

After a busy week back at work, I have finally found a spare evening to start writing up our amazing trip to Boston last month. I had always wanted to visit New England during Fall and Halloween and this trip did not disappoint. As well as the seasonal joys of everything being pumpkin flavoured (beer, coffee, doughnuts…you name it!), it was fascinating to see the final run-up to the US elections and enjoy some amazing seafood. I also tried to master the Boston accent which was a little less successful!

Day One

We flew from Heathrow Terminal 5 with British Airways and it was a pleasant enough flight. I watched the films Money Monster, The Shallows and Finding Dory all of which I would recommend for different reasons. We landed in the evening and got a free shuttle from Logan Airport into Boston then a taxi to our hotel.

We stayed at The Chandler Inn Hotel in South End and I really liked it. South End is seen as quite a hip, cool area and our hotel was surrounded by beautiful brownstones. We were about two blocks away from the T (Boston’s subway system) which made it really easy to get around.

I was struggling to stay awake at this point but managed a short walk around the neighbourhood to pick up some essentials – pizza, root beer and M&Ms!

Day Two

Well, I was awake at about 4am on our first morning and itching to get outside and start exploring! We started with another walk around the surrounding area to get our bearings and delight in the pretty window boxes most houses had. It was a beautifully sunny, crisp autumn day and my first impressions of Boston were great.

For breakfast, we headed to The Pour House for eggs and homefries which would keep us going all morning.

I love a good bus tour and really do think it is a great way to see a city, especially if the tour guide is a local. We did a trolley tour and struck gold with our driver who was hilarious and had lots of funny tales about the city. Boston is a very historical city and we saw all the main sights with a little bit of history thrown in too.

An added extra with this bus tour was a mini-cruise around the harbour. This was really fun and gave us a different view of the city…plus they sold beer on the boat!

That afternoon, we visited Quincy Market where there is an amazing selection of food vendors. We wandered past the mouth-watering stalls before deciding on clam chowder and lobster rolls for lunch. We ate this whilst enjoying an Acapella contest! It wasn’t quite Pitch Perfect but very cool to watch.

We caught the last of the autumn sunshine at Boston Common (where there was a cute kids pumpkin decorating event happening) before going to Octoberfest, a beer festival complete with pumpkin beer, pretzels and live music.

Day Three

Our third day started with bagels at Berkeley Perk Café followed by a trip across the water to Cambridge. I had really wanted to visit Harvard University and we had a great tour from a student. I found the history fascinating and the grounds were beautiful…almost as pretty as Birmingham Uni!

We headed back to Quincy Market for lunch, stopping at an amazing little farmers’ market on the way, and had lobster mac and cheese in the sunshine before an afternoon of shopping, trying a Blackbird Bakery doughnut and burritos for dinner.

Sunday Summary #44 and #45

Life

I’m back after a packed week in Boston! We had such a good time there and I am already writing up some blog posts from the trip and reliving the food and fun times. A big thank you to my parents who popped up while we were away and finished laying the tiles in our porch, put fresh sheets on the bed, left flowers and a huge vat of homemade soup for us…just what you want after a night of no sleep! It is back to reality today though as I am back to work tomorrow (no idea how I am going to get up in the morning #jetlag) and need to unpack but first, my Sunday Summary from the past two weeks.

Finally, the new series of Black Mirror is here! Ian and I love this show and it is such a cutting, dark look at society today. So far, we have seen the first three episodes and cannot wait to watch more.

I just can’t sleep on an aeroplane so I tend to binge-watch films. On this trip I managed to watch six: Finding Dory, The Shallows, The Boss, Money Monster, The Jungle Book and the new Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. I mostly picked easy-to-watch/ children’s films but Money Monster was really good (and has George Clooney in!)

Sadly I missed the final of GBBO but have now caught up and had a little cry when Candice won. I’m also still enjoying The Apprentice too.

Food

I have most definitely indulged this week! America just goes so over the top for Autumn and put pumpkin and spices in everything…beer, doughnuts, cheesecake, pancakes.

Ian bought me a bottle of the new Pumpkin-spiced Baileys which I have enjoyed on ice, in coffee and as a milkshake. If you like the Starbucks drink, you will love this.

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You can’t go to Boston and not indulge in seafood. We had great clam chowder and lobster when we were away which we just don’t really do in the UK.

We visited a couple of breweries in America and enjoyed some lovely craft beers. My favourites were a pumpkin-spiced beer from the Octoberfest beer festival we visited and a blueberry wheat beer from Salem Beer Works which came with a handful of fresh blueberries floating in it.

Finally, I tried my first ever cronut and it was goooooooood!

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Fashion

While we had lovely, sunny weather in Boston, there was a definite chill in the air so I lived in my ASOS parker, my tartan scarf (River Island) and my Wolf Academy beanie hat.

I have been looking at leather backpacks for ages and finally bought one when we were away. I like that it is practical yet still smart and I think it will be great for future city breaks.

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Beauty

I did my first autumnal manicure using this lovely deep, berry shade from Nails Inc which actually lasted the whole week with only one chip.

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I suffer with dry skin after a flight so I decided to try and combat that by slathering my skin in Weleda’s Skin Food which I love. I am adamant it smells just like gin and tonic but it really works and gives your skin a real moisture boost.

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I also gave myself a mini facial when I got home yesterday using REN’s Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask which I find revitalises dull, tired skin.

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Finally, one of my highlights of our trip was a visit to Sephora. I actually went twice as got so overwhelmed the first time I left with nothing! I did get a bit spendy but I had budgeted for a few treats and will share them soon! Sidenote – I know we are meant to be getting Sephora in the UK soon and I kind of have mixed feelings about it. Yes, it will be great to have all the brands here but it will take away that excitement you get at visiting a store when on holiday.

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