Thursday, 24 April 2014

Easter Snaps

Spring has well and truly sprung, 
blindingly obvious I know, 
but I just can't seem to get enough of this glorious sunshine we've been blessed with recently.

But I'm jumping ahead of myself.
HAPPY EASTER - hope you had a truly eggcellent time. I went back home to the shire for a family filled weekend of homey activities.

Kicking off with a caffeine hit at my guilty pleasure chainstore.

To then walk through the front door to the enticing aromas of our wonderful mumma rustling up a mexican feast...
Only to collapse on a heap on the sofas watching 'Caddyshack', an absolute American old-school classic, bone-ticklingly funny - we strongly encourage you to watch and enjoy it!

Good Friday morning flew by in a haze of circuit classes, errands, vintage shopping escapades, and garden centre visits because...

We are currently revamping the garden, so the day was spent outside soaking up the rays whilst giving lashings of duck-egg blue paint to our flower and veg planters.

Working all day outside really gives you such a sense of satisfaction and a love for productivity, that was rewarded with more fabulous home cooking. Spoonfuls of mumma's thai green monkfish curry were guzzled down, whilst we got all excited about the months ahead.

Another night spent curled up on the sofa, this time watching 'Fargo'. Did anyone else watch it? What did you think? A tad gory....

A lazy breakfast and more pottering around the garden filled up saturday morning.

Before heading over to Jacob's Chop House for a big family lunch. Thanks to some gushing and fluttering of the eyelashes via twitter, the lovely chefs had very kindly promised to save a portion of the evening special just for me. 
The Beef Rib. 
Deep, velvety and so moist; chaps - I salute you!

Saturday afternoon was totally unashamedly consumed by a chocolate coma.
Nothing productive was achieved (ok, I may have made a tumblr)- and I don't even feel the least bit guilty, it's holiday time after all.

Easter Sunday morning was a dream of blueberry pancakes with bananas, farmer bacon and USA maple syrup. Slurped down with smoothies and freshly ground coffee - oh the joys of being home!

Fully fuelled up, we booted up and headed out for a long, grey walk.

Nothing like a grizzly day to make you appreciate the little things...

And make a few friends along the way.


And we're back full circle to the beautiful bluebells! We stomped off home for Roast Lamb and more lazy sofa time. 

Thanks for reliving this wonderful weekend with me, more to come tomorrow - how did you spend your long break? Please share your post links below, I'd love to have a read x

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

The Crown @ Bray

Birthdays are just the best, especially when it's months after the actual day and you're still celebrating. Late lunch with Nats sat outside in a pub garden was the PERFECT way to start the long Easter weekend.

We met at her place and fed her lambs their babby milk (cute pic alert) before taking a cruise through the stunning rural English countryside in the glorious sunshine to one of Heston Blumenthal's restaurants. The golden rays were irresistible, so we embraced the breeze and sat outside (waited on by a very handsome chap indeed, swoon!).

I ordered the Fish & Chips (as a religious nod to Good Friday) and demolished those triple cooked chips in approx 14.2 seconds. So so good, calories don't count on birthdays right? Nats opted for the burger, complete with all the essentials (no gherkins for her though, strange child!) It was such a lovely afternoon catching up on the past few months of life, that we couldn't resist extending our chatting through the excuse of dessert. Blackcurrant sorbet with peanut brittle, PBJ on another wavelength that was simply divine.

Thanks a million Nats for my birthday treat - totally worth the wait, and all absolutely scrummy!

Sunday, 20 April 2014

It's GIN O'Clock

You are cordially invited to an evening of cocktail making and merriment...

Round numero uno - palate testing.
The contestants were presented with three glasses of a clear spirit and they had to call upon their experience and wisdom to decide what they were sampling....with varying degrees of success.

(Cointreau, Absolut Citron & Larious Gin if you were curious)

Next stage, it was time for the bartenders to show off their skill and ingenuity by producing a GIN creation of their own design. 

a) a ginger/apple sorbet concoction from one of the home men of Manhattan 34 bar, that was nicely moreish.....but would have been better if the sorbet had behaved itself and actually set! 

b) a Caribbean inspired Gin delight, complete with homemade kiwi/grapefruit jam. 
AND this fine gentleman, the head of the De Montfort University Cocktail society had pulled out all the stops to make finger sandwiches to nibble whilst we sipped. Hurrah.

c) this cuppa drew on the empire heritage and Indian roots of Gin, with a home brew gentled infused with spices and orange. A warm cocktail certainly spun the judges' compass!

d) the attention to the detail on this offering was evident from the off. He'd played with the idea of Houdini (who recently celebrated his birthday) and as the symbol of the No3 Gin is a key. Fruity and fabulous. 

e) the novice of the day played it safe and surprised the judges with his simple yet elegant Martini. Dare I say it, even Mr Bond himself would have approved this one.

f) Last up, and definitely not least, was this beauty which brought together the ginger/coriander/lemon core of Gin wonderfully, alongside some addictive homemade jelly.

Final round - things got a little bit crazy in a speed test, so I'll spare you the messy photos and just say that glass bottles + eggs + excitable men does not = decent cocktails!!

Thanks to the wonderful folk of No3 Gin for sponsoring the event, and to Manhattan 34 for being excellent hosts. I don't think I've laughed that much in a very long time and I learnt a whole lot more about the fabulous world of cocktails.

p.s the winner was Fraser, (f) representing The Marquis, followed by Nicholas (d) from Manhattan 34 and Shiv (c) from Candy Stripe. If you're in the area, then please go see these lovely lads and show your support.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Summer Ambitions

From touristing to relaxing, BBQing to beaching, 2014 is ours for glorious enjoyment. 
To get the most out of every last drop of sunshine, this summer let's pledge to:

- SURF the waves
- TAKE a hike and soak in the view
- BUILD a sandcastle at a new-beach
- INVITE uni friends to Oxford for a day of punting
- WEAR a daisy chain headband
- DRINK many a-pitcher of Pimms
- SAIL away on the tides
- BIKE ride to picnic time in the uni parks
- SEE the sunrise & sun-set of the same day
- EXPLORE a new city
- PLAY a new sport
- STARGAZE whilst lying on our backs, snuggled in a blankey
- CREATE dairy-free ice-cream 
- CRUISE a road trip to the south coast, then camp on the cliffs
- ASK mumma Q to make her delicious summer pudding
- PICK raspberries with blogger gals

What are your plans to make this the best season yet?

Friday, 11 April 2014

La Bohème

Oh goodness, how is it already Friday?! 
Sorry (again) for the radio silence this week; I handed in my dissertation first draft on Wednesday and seem to have been rushing all over the place as well, what with gym classes, Staffs' mummy coming up to Brum to cook us all a mighty feast of a roast, a girly cinema date.... it's all go go go!

So let's rewind back to last weekend when I escaped back home to the 'shire for a rather special weekend. Mumma Q had been her usual uber organised self and way back in the Autumn had managed to obtain us three highly sought after tickets to a LIVE streaming of La Boheme, direct from the Met in New York. 

With beer, vino and popcorn in hand we snuggled ourselves down into our seats, the cosy auditorium was jam-packed with the usual crowd of Oxford academics and familiar faces. It's a very small world back home, I even recognised my old french teacher and some friends' parents!

La Boheme is without a doubt one of the most famous and most produced operas ever, and there's good reason to this. The show is absolutely encapsulating, the story lures you in with the tale of the lovers and their daily plights of suffering the poverty of Paris in the winter. The voices are enchanting, whisking you away to another world, where you real experience the joys and torments through the cast's emotions.

It was a truly memorable experience, and although we were tired and drained from a busy week, our eyes did not once leave the screen. The opera still manages to cast us viewers under its spell after all these years. Thank you so very much Mumma for inviting me along, I love that you always strive to culture me further.

Part two of the evening comprised a cheeky visit to their new favourite haunt - the Sole Luna pizza van. Now, I was rather taken aback when my mum was raving about how much she had enjoyed street food, but these boys don't mess around. Truly addictive pizzas, and with a touch of chilli oil, they were the perfect end to our family saturday night.