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Sunday Catch-up #28

I’ve been a bit of a rubbish blogger again this week but we’ve had my parents staying for a few days and a few birthdays to celebrate. This weekend has been really fun – I spent Saturday morning in Bath hitting the summer sales and getting my hair cut and coloured before picking up my brother and his girlfriend to head to Magners Bristol Comedy Festival. Set up like a mini festival in Queens Square, we enjoyed Pimms and some good food before heading into the big top tent to watch Seann Walsh, Sara Pascoe and Mark Watson. All were great and we laughed a lot!

Today, we had a really lazy morning and lie-in before going out for a delicious Sunday roast. I’m now back home in comfy clothes with tea and Wimbledon on the TV…a pretty perfect weekend for me!

This week I have been…

Making: time to read before I go to bed

Going: out for birthday pizza with the fam

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Wearing: flip flops and sunglasses one day and a coat and boots the next…British weather, please make your mind up!

Eating: delicious hazelnut ice cream

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Drinking: Pimms

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Reading: Girl on the Train – I’m hooked!

Watching: The Fault in Our Stars and finding it just as sad as the book

Buying: a new candle

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Planning: next weekend with my besties

Cooking: banana pancakes on Saturday morning

Baking: nothing this week

Writing: my end of term school reports

Favouriting: The mini New York neighbourhood guides on LoveTaza

Working on: my long-forgotten cross stitch project!

Trying to decide: what to cook for dinner tonight

Wishing: my Yorkshire puddings turned out as well as this!

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Enjoying: Bath in the evening sun

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Needing: all the beautiful homeware in Anthropologie

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Feeling: very content

Giggling at: the comedians we saw last night

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Afternoon Tea in London

Anyone else a big Timehop fan?! I am really enjoying this app which gives you little snapshots of what you were up to years ago. I have linked my blog to it and it is lovely rereading recipes, nail art and weekends away that we enjoyed and to see how my styles and tastes have changed over time. It is also for this reason that I like to document my mini-breaks, especially when they are to celebrate best friends’ 30th birthdays!

This weekend, Ian and I headed up to London to enjoy some time with our besties. We decided to catch a slightly later train up from Bath on Friday evening which gave us enough time to grab a quick bite at Grillstock. I opted for ribs and a root beer which truly hit the spot whilst Ian had a chilli dog.

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Our train journey was pretty uneventful; chai tea, a bit of reading, a quick podcast then before we knew it we were at our friend Lucie’s flat with a cup of tea in hand. I gave Lucie one of her birthday presents which I handmade and which, quite literally, took me weeks. It may seem a slightly strange option but I cross-stitched my friend a map of Serbia! It was my neatest ever cross-stitching effort and that surely wins some good friendship points?!

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The next morning was glorious sunshine so after a lovely lazy breakfast at Owen’s and a browse around their deli, we headed up to Alexandra Park for views of the city and a fresh brew.

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That afternoon we met the rest of our party at The Mandeville Hotel for afternoon tea. We started with white peach bellinis before deciding between the ‘Vintage’ and ‘Gentlemen’s’ afternoon tea.

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I opted for the Vintage as I just love posh finger sandwiches with no crusts! A couple of people in our party ordered the Gentlemen’s and I have to admit to having a bit of food envy when I saw their steak and snails, fish fingers and sausage rolls arrive!

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I would recommend this place for a group booking as the service was excellent. Several people at our table had booked the unlimited champagne option and the waiters kept their glasses topped up throughout the afternoon.

The Vintage came with roast chicken and stuffing, smoked salmon and cucumber and cream cheese finger sandwiches, a beautiful scone with jam and cream and a selection of mini cakes. My favourites were the apple and custard pots with crumble topping, the Battenberg and the coffee and walnut slice.

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There was also a good selection of loose tea; I had the pear caramel tea which was delicious.

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After all those cakes, we headed out for a few drinks then back home for a takeaway and Cards Against Humanity (so wrong, but so funny!)

I think I am a well-established country girl now but I do love a city break and time with good friends is pretty much priceless. Right, onto the next cross-stitch…

Latest Purchases #56 – Holiday Buys

Happy Bank Holiday Weekend! Back in my college and uni days that would automatically equal Reading Festival but this year it looks to be a washout so we are just going to chill at home with a new box set and I will no doubt potter about in the kitchen too…how times have changed!

We have had a lovely weekend so far. One of my best friends Lucie arrived on Friday afternoon and we spent our evening up the pub, cooking and devouring a big bowl of spag bol followed by a hilarious game of Cards Against Humanity!

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Yesterday, we headed out to meet the newest member of our friendship gang, beautiful baby Ivy. Ian was a natural and it was enough to make any girl broody! Haha

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Today I wanted to share a few things I picked up when we were on holiday last week…it already feels like ages ago!

My weakness is duty free shopping. Another blogger summed up airport shopping perfectly when she said that it’s like spending Monopoly money…I thought that was quite funny as all of my airport purchases were things that I probably wouldn’t have bought had I just popped in to Boots one weekend.

Anyway, I’ll start with the booze which makes you realise just how expensive spirits are to buy in the UK. We got some vodka (for Bloody Marys) and a bottle of brandy which I may have to hide from my Dad as it’s his favourite tipple!shop16

On the way there, I treated myself to a new perfume; Eau des Jardins by Clarins. I know most people associate this brand with skincare but I have another perfume by Clarins (Eau Dynamisante) which is lovely and lasts well.shop15 shop14

I think this perfume is a summer release but I will definitely wear it all year round as it has fresh and uplifting citrus notes with a slightly musky rose base.

When we went to Palma for a day trip, I hunted down a trusty Sephora. I managed to find a nice little haul there although I didn’t have too much time as Ian was doing that man-thing where I could tell he just really didn’t want to shop!

I picked up a new nail file which kind of looks metallic but is similar to a glass nail file – always handy.shop8 shop7

Also on the subject of nails, I remember buying some nail wraps from Sephora when we were in the States last summer and they were the best I had ever used so I was keen to try a few more from here. I picked up two sets; a bright pink design with some arty squiggles on and a dogtooth print which I am dying to try out!

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Finally, I wanted to try and keep my tan for as long as possible once we returned home. I use St. Tropez on my body but had just run out of a Champneys facial tanner so decided to try out Sephora’s Tinted Self-tanning Face Gel. It said on the box that it came with a brush which I was expecting to find separately but I was intrigued when I opened up the packaging and found the brush to be attached to the tube. I think this will make application easy and hopefully nice and even too. It also has a handy ‘on/ off’ click cap to avoid any make-up bag disasters.

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On the way home, we happened to have a Duty Free right next to our flight gate so I was wandering through and found a little bargain in the form of these Clinique Chubby Sticks.

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These are the Moisturising Lip Colour Balms and I bought a box that contains three of their most popular shades; Super Strawberry (07), Two Ton Tomato (11) and Mighty Mimosa (13).These lovely pencils are super moisturising with a sheer colour and being a chunky lip pencil, are really easy to apply on the go.

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I have had a quick swatch of each one and they feel amazing on the lips and I like the subtle wash of colour too – I think the red shade is probably my favourite at the moment.

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So, a few nice treats which will remind me of our lovely week away! x

Recipe – Spicy Red Cabbage

I have had one of the best weekends in a long time, full of food, friends and laughter!

Our friends arrived on Friday night carrying Krispy Kreme doughnuts and flowers (the best houseguests!) and I cooked us a huge toad in the hole, complete with extra sausages, potatoes, asparagus and my delicious red cabbage…recipe below…followed by huge slices of chocolate brownie!

After a lazy Saturday morning of croissants and tortilla, Ian and I decided to show our guests a few of our local hotspots in Bradford on Avon. We started off with a wander around the Tithe Barn then the boys went to the pub and us girls hit the independent shops. Sometimes, it is only when you are playing ‘tour guide’ that you remember and appreciate the cool places that you live near!

After a long lunch back home, we braved the afternoon chill for a walk around the village and a quick half at the local pub before heading into Bath for dinner at The Bath Brew House.

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I love this place and couldn’t resist ordering the BBQ ribs again and yes, they were just as amazing as I remembered! I even found room for a huge slab of Dr Pepper chocolate cake afterwards.

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Whilst there, we also booked tickets for a special ‘pork and beer night’ later this week so expect another review of this restaurant soon!

Today’s recipe is only a side dish but it is one I have made several times recently and is a real winner! At first, I thought it was a bit too Christmassy but this side dish is lovely to have at any time of the year. Not only does it add a lovely deep purple colour to your plate, it tastes delicious and seems to make loads too!

Ingredients

Butter

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 cinnamon stick

A quarter of a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

A quarter of a teaspoon of freshly ground nutmeg

A quarter of a teaspoon of allspice/ sweet mixed spice

1 red cabbage, cored and sliced

1 apple, finely chopped

3 tablespoons of dark brown sugar

100-150ml of balsamic vinegar

50ml of red wine

2 tablespoons of jam or cranberry sauce (I used sour cherry jam)

How to make it

  • Melt a tablespoon of butter in a deep saucepan and add the chopped onion to soften for a few minutes on a low heat
  • Add the cinnamon stick, ground cinnamon, nutmeg and mixed spice and mix wellcab3
  • Add the red cabbage and sauté for a few minutes with another knob of butter thrown incab4
  • Add the apple, sugar, balsamic vinegar and winecab5
  • Cover and continue to cook on a low heat for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Stir through the jam and cook for another 15 minutescab9
  • Season well and serve warm, with another knob of butter on top

Finally, I had to post this weird picture I noticed when cutting my red cabbage…can you see the lobster?!cab7

Recipe – Dark Chocolate and Cranberry Flapjacks

It has been a lovely weekend with what feels like our first bit of sun in ages.

We ploughed on with some DIY yesterday and rewarded ourselves with an Indian takeaway and a good film…my perfect Saturday night in!

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Today, we had various appointments but I am now sat down with my first hot-cross buns of the year and a cup of tea, half watching the football and half meal-planning the week ahead starting with my first ever potato dauphinoise I am going to attempt to accompany our roast lamb dinner tonight…bring on the cream!

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Today’s recipe is one I made earlier this week for a school cake sale, although I ended up buying back a couple of slices for myself because it was so tasty! By stirring the chocolate pieces into the warm mixture right at the end it just starts to melt meaning the whole things tastes chocolatey but there are also lovely chocolate chunks to enjoy with each bite – perfect!

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Ingredients

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150g of unsalted butter or margarine

150g of brown sugar

150g of honey

300g of porridge oats

50g of dried cranberries

100g of good quality dark chocolate, roughly chopped

How to make it

  • Begin by greasing your flapjack tray and preheating the oven to 180°C, Gas Mark 4
  • Next, add your butter, sugar and honey to a saucepan and cook on a low heat until the ingredients have melted and come togetherflap1
  • Now add your oats and cranberries and mix well
  • Finally, add the chocolate pieces and give the mixture a final stirflap4
  • Pour the flapjack mixture into the tin and roughly pat downflap5
  • Bake for around 20 minutes until golden brownflap7
  • Leave to cool then cut into slicesflap9 flap10

Weekend Love

After a pretty full-on week, I purposely kept this weekend free to relax and spend some time with my favourite people.

Having spent a large chunk of Saturday tidying up after the builders we had in recently, our friends came over for an evening up the local pub.

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I wore my new neon pink jeans…too much?!

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Behind the bar we noticed bottles of Anchor Steam Beer, brewed in San Francisco. We drank this constantly when we were there this summer so it was a lovely reminder of the holiday as well as being a rather tasty beer!

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We had a great meal, starting with sharing plates of chorizo, scallops and a baked camembert topped with an amazing herby hazelnut mix which I am now going to have to try and replicate.

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For our mains, I had duck, served pink and delicious on a potato pancake. Ian had lamb with a lovely risotto hidden underneath. Harriet had the steak special of the day and Lu had an enormous fish and chips!

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I have written before about how good the food is at our local, The Muddy Duck, and this meal was no exception.

We even found room for puddings and a cheese board!

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After tea, toast and OJ around the kitchen table for breakfast, Lu and Harriet headed home to Bristol and Ian and I went blackberry picking.

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I have been keeping an eye on the local blackberry bushes on my evening run over the past few weeks and they were ripe for the picking today! I had to bring Ian along to reach the higher branches but we came away with a pretty decent haul of about 700g. We also saw some beautiful and inquisitive cows!

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Half of these are in the oven as I type in a fig, blackberry and almond crumble – I promise I will share the recipe soon!

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I have a pretty tough week ahead so a relaxed weekend with my loved ones was exactly what I needed.

Before we start a new week, one final photo of the last of my David Austen roses from the garden. They smell as beautiful as they look! x

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Sunny Days

Hello!

It’s been a few days since I have managed to sit down and blog but things have been incredibly busy at work trying to finish everything off for the year. However, all the big stuff was handed in on Friday so I finally feel like I can relax a bit and start looking forward to America!

This weekend was a pretty darn good one. It obviously helped that we had some gorgeous weather but I also managed to pack in a good dose of friends and family.

On Friday night, after sitting through two horrendous traffic jams, I made it to Birmingham for a night with my bestie Lucie. She is a great hostess and always seems to know the cool places in the city to take me to! This time, it was a little food truck festival in Digbeth which was full of super-trendy people but it was the food that I was interested in!

The Street Food revolution is huge and I am looking forward to sampling a couple in San Francisco soon. There were four different food trucks on offer and I was so hungry I was seriously considering getting one thing from each one!

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I went for the ‘Low ‘N’ Slow’ truck which specialised in slow-cooked American BBQ food. Unfortunately the pulled pork and beans had sold out but I had the most amazing burger filled with beef chili brisket, topped with homemade coleslaw and BBQ sauce…perfect with a cold beer!

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For ‘pudding’ I went to the Jabberwocky van (coolest name ever!) for a posh toastie and shared a banoffee one with Lucie. It was delicious.

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We finished the night with endless cups of tea, talking into the early hours, which was the perfect end to a stressful week. I also received the most incredible early birthday present…

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The next day, I headed over to my friend Paul’s house for our annual BBQ with my old university coursemates. It made us feel incredible old to realise we had met almost 10 years ago now (!) but I am so glad we all make the effort each summer to come from different parts of the country to meet up and eat!

There was an endless supply of good food and my diet went out of the window with the 4 puddings I had…oooops!

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I came home last night and Ian and I made it up the pub for last orders so we could have a beer and a good catch up.

Today, after a lie-in we fired up our BBQ for the first time this year and Ian’s parents and dog George popped in for lunch. I tried out a new pork rub (recipe coming soon!) and we thoroughly enjoyed the sunshine.

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brum21Despite falling asleep for a rather large chunk of it (I blame the heat!), this afternoon was all about Murray and I was quite moved when he finally did it!

All in all, a great weekend and now that things at work have calmed down a bit I am in holiday-planning mode and may share a few plans on here over the next few weeks.

I hope you made the most of the sunshine this weekend…it probably won’t be here for much longer! x