Baking: Blueberry and Mint Lemon Drizzle


At my new job some of my colleagues take part in a non competitive bake off, where each Monday someone takes a turn to bring in a baked good/s of their choosing.

I like baking, but it does sometimes lead to too much ‘tasting’ of my hard work, so baking for 30 people was a great opportunity to try two things and not be at risk of eating all the leftovers.

I made two loaves based on this Blueberry, Lemon and Mint Drizzle Cake listed on DeliciousMagazine.co.uk.

When I was out shopping for the ingredients, I could not for the life of my find desicated coconut in Tescos… What’s up with that?! So I skipped it and added an extra 25 grams of flour.  I also accidentally added all of the lemon juice into the mix, as I misread it. I would definitely make that change again, as it turn out deliciously moist. (Although I do hate the word moist)

The extra lemon juice meant I had to bake by eye, as it needed longer than stated and I did I few skewer checks. To stop it from burning on the top, once the top had a nice colour I wrapped both my loaves with foil.

If you like Lemon Drizzle Cake, and you like mint and blueberrys, this is definitely worth a go. It was scrumptious.

What are your favourite recipes to bake? Any recipe recommendations would be very welcome!

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A little bit of winter magic

Earlier this month we headed up to outer London in search of some winter magic. I have wanted to visit the Warner Brothers Studio Tour for ages and ages. Having set my heart on visit which it’s decked out for Christmas I finally remembered to book tickets back in August.

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I had read of some reviews that it can be busier in the afternoon, so booked a morning tour. The wait was still fairly long, around 40 minutes. Deceptively, it was split into waiting outside, waiting inside and then waiting in some sort of strange viewing/holding room.

The great hall set up was amazing, with the tables laden with food and the Christmas trees decorated for each school house.

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The great hall was all decked out for Christmas, with little witch toppers to the trees which flew around the tree tops.
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No explanation needed right?!

 

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Gryffindor common room
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Pretty amazing to think they actually made a real moving swivelling staircase for the films.
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Potions.
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The Burrow set. You could make the washing up move!

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I posted the photo above on my Instagram account and got mixed reactions because ‘we didn’t enjoy butter beer’. I wanted to like it. I tried, ok? It wasn’t for me. It doesn’t mean you won’t like it.

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The masks were amazing! It was incredible to see items like these up close.
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Oh Dobby!

 

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There is a corridor full of work from conceptual artists. I thoroughly recommend pausing here to take a good look.
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EEeee!

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I loved it all. Can you tell? I am a pretty big HP fan, I can’t help it, I grew up with it, read and re read all the books, loved the films. Not necessarily cool for a 29 year old but you gotta do you.

Not long until Christmas now! Are you ready? 

Kew Gardens

Autumn. I bloomin’ love it. I know I’ve mentioned that before.

I love the changing leaves. Apparently I love travelling into central London to see some changing of the leaves. Because last Monday that’s what we did, and it was such a lovely afternoon, wandering around Kew gardens.

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Green house goals! The Palm House was amazing! You can climb up to a raised level to look over the palms. I married a scaredy-cat so we stayed on the ground.
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Obligatory selfie
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Geese
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Awesome autumn colours
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These giant lily pads were beautiful. Felt a bit sorry for some of them! People had been throwing coins in, and some of them had tears in them. People are weird.
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No but seriously look at those colours
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Persistent drake
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The Hive

The Hive was pretty cool. I imagine it is at it’s best when the meadow flowers are in bloom.

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Inside the Hive.

Some things to note:

Take the free map, you will need it, it’s a big old space, with lots of different areas to explore.

The amazing Evolution House is currently closed for a massive restoration project and will remain closed until 2018. It is the largest surviving victorian glasshouse and the restoration project (if completed on time) will take five years in total.  It was a shame not be able to look around this awesome building but I guess we will just have to go back.

You can picnic here. You do not need to buy lunch on site. We didn’t plan ahead and spent over £20 on some sandwich and drinks. Learn from my mistake folks.

I’d love to visit again in spring to see the blooms start. If you get the chance I’d totally recommend a wander around, there are loads of details about how, when, where and how much on the Kew website.

Do you have any recommendation for UK spots I should check out? Are you a garden wanderer or a national trust fan?

A little review: The Girl on the Train

So on Sunday we took our very first trip to the Duke of York picturehouse, which in case you are interested currently (according to wikipedia) “lays claim to being the oldest cinema in continuous use in Britain.”

I’ll just skip quickly past the awkward moments when several different people thought I worked there and asked me to check the tickets as I waited for Jack to buy a coffee, and get right to the film.

Yes, I did read the book. Devoured it. I was totally gripped!

Spoiler: I also enjoyed the film.

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You can watch the trailer here.

I don’t want to ruin the plot, because I do think you should go and watch it for yourself. I’ve heard others say they didn’t like the flow, or that it was set in the USA and on the USA point I still agree, I think I would’ve enjoyed it more if it was in the same setting as it was in my mind, i.e. the UK.

There were bits when the entire sold-out audience were noticeably on edge. There were collective gasps and shudders, which I think is testament to it being a good watch.

Shortest least informative review over. Go and watch it. If you want.

Have you seen it? If so, what did you think?

Autumn is approaching

I can’t wait.

Please, I know, you hate me a bit for wishing away summer. But try to understand.

September means

  • My birthday and frankly that’s something you should all be looking forward to!
  • Jack’s Birthday. I’m biased, but he’s awesome.
  • And this year we are going to BBC Radio 2 live in Hyde Park. I’m pretty darn excited about seeing Elton John, Madness, Gregory Porter and Travis and more.
Madness! Cannot wait, after seeing their set at Glastonbury on the box!
Madness! Cannot wait, after seeing their set at Glastonbury on the box!

October means

  • Boots, jumpers and scarves! Bring on the knitwear and the layers.
  • Sunday Roasts. I like salads, but really not as much as a veggie roast on a chilly day!
  • Seeing Jamie Lawson (again, he’ll be at BBC Radio 2 Live)
  • Halloween. What’s not to love? (unless you believe it’s related to worshipping satan, which I don’t)
Last year's carving effort
Last year’s carving effort

November means

  • Seeing Bears Den
  • A trip to Denmark; we’ve booked such a gorgeous hotel!
This is the lobby - I might never want to leave...
This is the lobby – I might never want to leave…
  • Bonfire night. I love fireworks. More than I probably should, the environmentalist part of me screams “This is wasteful!”, but a stronger part stares in complete awe.
This year we're hoping to go to the Sussex Cricket Firework's evening
This year we’re hoping to go to the Sussex Cricket Firework’s evening

 

Don’t get me wrong, summer is great, but once my holiday is out of the way, and I am watching other people enjoy it whilst I work, I could happily skip to layers and falling leaves.

Are you an Autumn lover, or are you clinging on to the last few weeks of Summer?

Me Before You: Review

So I read the book and wanted to see the film and my lovely sister took me on Saturday. I didn’t have massive expectations as the ads I’d seen for the film looked a lot more chic-flicky than I would’ve liked.

Spoiler Alert

It’s odd seeing a film that deals with the subject of assisted suicide being marketed as an alternative rom-com. The film itself as you may already know is based on the novel by Jojo Moyes, and is told from the point of view of Louisa Clark, who is in need of a job to help support her family, and replies to a job ad seeking someone to help care for a disabled young man.

I was gripped by the book, but as a romantic tale, it read a little odd, similarly in the film, there isn’t really a clear underlying connection between the two lead characters, it seems to simply help the plot along. I have also more recently been reading about some public reaction regarding the idea that a disabled life isn’t worth living. To my recollection this subject is discussed in more detail in the book, that Will has considered his options regarding his health, but in the film is is very brushed over. It seems to be a be a bit of a foregone conclusion that he will be going ahead with his plans for assisted suicide.

When I read the book I didn’t consider what Jojo Moyes’ personal experiences or research into disability might have been – I think that is perhaps the case with many able-bodied readers. I can now see why many are frustrated that such a tale has become popular. Though I personally feel that it’s a good platform for discussion about assisted suicide, using an able bodied actor was perhaps not the best option, and I certainly don’t hold the view the a disabled life isn’t worth living.

In terms of the film, I did cry, I was moved. But I don’t think that was because it was necessarily a good film. I personally was moved because the idea that someone would wish to end their life, in spite of all the good that surrounded the lead character is very upsetting.

Have you seen the film, or read the book? If so, what did you think?

I’m redundant but it’s not all bad

Those aren’t words I ever thought I would be writing. Maybe “I’ve got a new job” but not the business I have worked for for five years is not going to exist.

After the initial shock last week I have been trying to think about the positives:

  1. Change can be good.
  2. In the meantime I can work out more, get outside more. (Thank goodness it’s summer!)
  3. I’ve had a really lovely reference from my director, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed working with my lovely little team.
  4. Our flat will probably be very tidy over the next few weeks.

I’ve also been trying to think of things to fill my time with, because there is surely only so much sitting at home a person can do before they succumb to madness. My plans currently include:

  1. A daily gym visitScreen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.22.04 pm
  2. A daily afternoon walkScreen Shot 2016-05-31 at 3.20.42 pm
  3. Seeing if I can temporarily volunteer at one of the charity shops near me, hopefully Shelter or Cancer Research.
  4. Working on this hear blog – get ready for some “living on a tight budget” posts!
  5. And obviously seeking gainful employment.

So that’s my positive outlook for the moment. I’ll let you know how I get on, and what I get up to. If you have any advice for me, it is most welcome!

Weekend Wanderings

This weather lately… I’ve been loving it. We have been able to nip out for some gorgeous wanders nearly every weekend for the last month (keeping the biscuit/walking balance right).

So where have we been? Let me tell you.

In and around Horsted Keynes

So I’m biased, because this is where Jack and I are from but there are so many lovely, and easy walks around our “home town” village. And I would thoroughly recommend you have a nosey at them. You can do a massive loop and then end up back on the village green, for a delish pub lunch at one of the two pubs. The Green Man is my favourite. Though if you are us, which you’re not, you could go for a sneaky *free* Sunday roast at your in-laws.

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Lewes to Glynde and back

This was a longer walk, with a lunch stop in the middle at the Trevor Arms. It was I think around 4 hours of walking in total, and quite up hill and down dale ( is that the right word?). It was so beautiful, but I actually didn’t take any photos as I totally forgot to take a charged camera with me. The pub you can get to via train if you don’t fancy the long walk, and it was an amazing veggie roast – I want to go again! Also Glynde might be one of the prettiest places I have been recently!

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Photo stolen for my lovely friend Jon (in the hat) who planned the whole awesome day. Thanks Jon!

 

The South Downs

I wouldn’t even know where to to start with the South Downs – there are so many amazing walks you can go on round them, along them, up and down. We, when feeling lazy, like to drive up to Devil’s Dyke and walk along the top. Before we had a car, we took advantage of the bus route that heads out there – I think there is even an open top one if you are feeling brave or it’s glorious weather.

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If you want to give a walk around sussex a go, there is loads of information online – the power of google. Check out circular walks here to start you off.

Review: Lunch at the Darwin Brasserie

I’ll start with an apology. I arrived so late to meet Charlotte, I failed at trains, and I am sorry Charlotte!

There was a bit of a queue to get in the building initially, as you have to pass through security, a bag scanner and body scanner.

Now on to the restaurant (and the building). When I arrived I was quickly shown to our table and offered a drink. Yes, I did take part in some lunchtime drinking with a couple of glasses of prosecco.

We skipped straight to mains, I had the tomato and basil gnocchi (with a side of fries! Yum!), which was delicious, and stuffed. I don’t think I’ve come across stuffed gnocchi before, but I’d like to again. Charlotte, being a meat eater, had the chopped chicken and avocado salad and reported it to be good.

Then dessert, of course we had dessert. It is the whole reason for eating out. That and seeing my lovely friend of course. I opted for the chocolate bar with raspberry sorbet and Charlotte had the prettiest rhubarb swiss roll I have ever seen. They were both delicious.

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Whilst we were there the clouds broke and the view was pretty spectacular.  I didn’t take any pictures of the restaurant, you’ll have to snoop at tripadvisor for those. It’s decor was great, didn’t feel too upmarket that it wasn’t suitable for lunch but we both said it would be an amazing place to go for a special occasion dinner in the evening. The dress code in the evening is a little stricter according to their website.

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You can only book a month in advance, and they do take card details in case of a last minute cancellation (which you’d be charged £25 per person for) but I would throughly recommend a visit. Once you are in, you can also take in the view out, and snoop around the sky garden (which you also have to book to visit. No popping up if you happened to be passing).

Have you been to the Sky Garden? Or have any other restaurants you’d recommend I try?

Things to do and see in 2016

Selfishly this is really a list for me. But really this whole blog is for me – no offence meant, but if I were writing it for reader numbers I wouldn’t still be going : )

  • Bodiam Castle (ideally in the sunshine please Jack)
  • Wakehurst
  • Walberswick and Southwold – My grandparents lived in Walberswick when I was little, and I would love to go back for a long weekend.
  • 65 Degrees in Brighton is on our “to eat at” list. It has some brilliant reviews but is tiny and we never remember to book.
  • Majorca – cheating here – this is my summer holiday.Screen Shot 2016-03-02 at 8.31.05 am
  • Edinburgh
  • Venice – I am determined to visit with my sister this year, even if it will be a little delayed for her March birthday…

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    Venice: It was pretty amazing on our honeymoon, and I’d love to go again!
  • Sh*t-faced Shakespeare – looks hilarious

What’s on your to-do list this year? And do you have any recommendations for me?