Lifestyle: Heatwave in Numbers

I can’t be the only one that’s ever-so slightly glad London has cooled down now! The heatwave of mid-June was, was frankly, a little bit too much for me. And that’s coming from someone with an air-conditioned flat, who gets the District Line to work (also air-conditioned) and an air-conditioned office. Even my 10-minute walk to/from the station was a little bit too much – and a midday walk to the highstreet left me feeling physically ill. In hindsight, going out already thirsty wasn’t the best plan, but what’s a girl gonna do when she realises she’s all out of moisturiser?!

 photo Battersea Park 1_zpsgnpzsvwe.jpg photo Leeds Castle 10_zpshikrmzbv.jpg photo Leeds Castle 7_zpsd5btlglp.jpgInspired by Rhyme & Ribbons ABC of Summer I’ve penned this little post. I want to try and be a little less scripted/organised when it comes to blogging, a bit more spur-of-the-moment (I kinda need to do that in general, but hey-ho).

15+ flat viewings. Not pleasant in the heat.

3 naps. It’s the only thing I have energy for when it’s hot.

1 dumped duvet. It lived on our sofa for nearly a fortnight as it was too hot to even sleep on top of it.

4 loads of extra washing. Cos apparently we have a limited number of summer clothes.

2 snapped scrunchies. I like to pineapple my hair overnight when it’s hot, but I have a LOT of hair.

8 early alarms. I refuse to get even the relatively cool District line in rush-hour, so was leaving at least half an hour early each morning.

 photo Leeds Castle 9_zps1hxwcprr.jpg photo Cronut_zpsaa7nzudk.png1 evening picnic in the park. Very middle class with falafel, quinoa salad and fresh strawberries (+ cream and homemade meringues).

5 lunchtime picnics. Various parks.

184 (approx!) moans of “It’s too hot.”

2 arguments with dogs owners. Do NOT leave your dog in a car, and do not talk it for a walk along the pavement in 33 degree heat. The poor thing was hopping as it’s feet were so hot! Grrrrr.

4 nights when I refused to put the oven on (1 where I refused to eat anything hot). Our Cusinart grill machine was a life-saver!

25 seconds in the flat each evening before I turned the air-con on.

 photo Battersea Park 2_zpsdwrkex5x.jpg3 Mars Bar ice-creams. 1 Mr Whippy 99. 1 tub of sorbet. 1 bowl of semi-frozen lime jelly. Basically ALL the frozen things.

And now I have a craving for a Mars Bar ice-cream…! How did you find the mini-heatwave? Are you enjoying the slightly cooler weather or praying for it to get blisteringly hot again?

Lifestyle: A Few Days in the South of France

Sun. Sleep. Cheese. Wine.

This was pretty much all I planned to do with my time in the South of France, and I wasn’t disappointed. Add in the company of two of my best friends, a lot of chats, plenty of good books, and my half my bodyweight in ice-cream and you’ve got the makings of a pretty fabulous holiday.

 photo South of France 2016 23_zpspjmuiti5.jpg photo South of France 2016 22_zps3ctqtx76.jpg photo South of France 2016 12_zpsabaigxgm.jpg photo South of France 2016 21_zpsoro8yqtm.jpgWe stayed in a villa in the sleepy village of Agel, two hours from Toulouse and without even a boulangerie. This suited us perfectly, as we had no intention of doing anything more strenuous than reapplying sun-cream! The pool was the perfect size for a quick refreshing dip, the sun that perfect temperature for sunbathing – hot, but not so hot it gets unbearable after 10 minutes.

 photo South of France 2016 15_zpswa7mwjdt.jpg photo South of France 2016 24_zpshitcx7br.jpg photo South of France 2016 26_zpsb2jpnlem.jpgWe stocked up on fresh bits and pieces to pick at over breakfasts and lunches – plenty of fruit, some of the most delicious bread, and far more cheese than three girls should eat! I reignited a love for proper, full-fat cream cheese. Give me a spoonful of that, some cracked black pepper and some vegetable crudites and I’m a happy girl. Add in some ham, some salami and proper, good bread and that’s my idea of a perfect lunch.

Then there’s the cheese. We bought a cheese selection, alongside an additional hunk of brie. We worried it was too much, would some go to waste? Turns out another block of brie would have been more than appropriate – although we perhaps would have sunk as opposed to floated in the pool on our last morning! Some days we ate a massive lunch, other days we split it into two, indulging in a ‘snack’ of cheese and wine in the late afternoon.

 photo South of France 2016 27_zpspyaskae5.jpg photo South of France 2016 4_zpsi4armcxz.jpg photo South of France 2016 3_zpsuew00ni8.jpg photo South of France 2016 2_zpsdinlgepe.jpg photo South of France 2016 5_zpsusbz8rpl.jpg photo South of France 2016 7_zpskgdzjl9x.jpg photo South of France 2016 8_zps8vuvfc5n.jpg photo South of France 2016 20_zpshpmez2ln.jpg photo South of France 2016 18_zpsyppmwgem.jpg photo South of France 2016 19_zpsk71ya854.jpg photo South of France 2016 10_zpsaehvtixl.jpg photo South of France 2016 13_zpshouwudip.jpg photo South of France 2016 14_zpskofesv1e.jpg photo South of France 2016 9_zpsvgoubpas.jpg photo South of France 2016 11_zpszw9koauk.jpgOne evening we got adventurous, heading for a wander around the next village before driving to a riverside restaurant. Admittedly the pizzeria we chose was not the most French menu available, but it was busy, the smells coming from the kitchen were incredible, and the outside seating was just too pretty to turn down. The pizzas were huge, with generous toppings on a thin woodfired base. But the puddings! These were something else. Ice cream sundaes served in flower vases, with a cheeky crepe ordered to share for good measure. My Nute’lce was a mix of chocolate, hazelnut and salted caramel ice-creams, whipped cream and what seemed like a good half jar of nutella. Unbelievably good, well worth feeling slightly sick for!  The area was super pretty, with instagram-worthy houses and boats every few yards, just adding to our evening out.

Other evenings were not so adventurous – with the villa being fully stocked with old-school Disney videos we made full use of them!

 photo South of France 2016 16_zpszu3v7ot7.jpgIt was so lovely to completely switch off and unwind for a few days. With limited internet, no revision, and a Kindle full of new books I came back completely rejuvenated. It was definitely needed! Now it’s time to stress over degree results and finding a place to live in London…

Are you off on holiday this year?

The London Diaries: Views of the City & Some of My Favourite Spots

One of the things I really wanted to do over the summer was to visit the Sky Garden. I love viewing places from above so it seemed like the perfect way to enjoy London, without the extortionate expense of the Shard. The Sky Garden is free, though does require advance booking, and includes an inside garden area and large viewing balcony.

 photo The Sky Garden 7_zpssnr6kz7q.jpg photo The Sky Garden 6_zpsqos8vovx.jpg photo The Sky Garden 5_zpspucvitb5.jpg photo The Sky Garden 4_zpskrhp14q2.jpg photo The Sky Garden 2_zpsmmkta4gn.jpg photo The Sky Garden 3_zpsgdrqpxlh.jpgI felt the garden area was a little disappointing, lots of trees and not many flowers. The views however were stunning.

We had originally planned to climb the Monument after this, but as this towers above that view we decided to give it a miss. Definitely worth an hour of your time to soak in the view, possibly have an (overpriced) cocktail and a good natter with your best friends.

 photo Favourite London Things 12_zpsgjp8dxzl.jpg photo Favourite London Things 1_zpst2fsfarc.jpg photo Favourite London Things 16_zpsirxptiae.jpgOver the last week I managed to squeeze in visiting almost all my favourite places, seeing some of my favourite people, and eating a lot of my favourite food.

After W’s leaving drinks we wandered along the Thames, crossing Albert Bridge. It might sounds silly, but I’m a little bit in love with this bridge. It’s like something out of a Disney movie, light up, old-fashioned and generally just beautiful. Perfect as the sun goes out.

 photo Favourite London Things 17_zpsuh59fcy3.jpg photo Favourite London Things 19_zpsiu1bkotf.jpg photo Favourite London Things 20_zpsgtohmnnz.jpg photo Favourite London Things 21_zpsxxcmsauq.jpg photo Favourite London Things 22_zpsgol9oitf.jpg photo Favourite London Things 18_zpspbpjisxf.jpg photo Favourite London Things 2_zpspnnkfylg.jpgLast Saturday was a whirlwind. Scotch pancakes fuelled our morning of shuffling around Borough Market. I’d never seen it so busy, it was actually a little unpleasant as it was SO overcrowded. I couldn’t find the end of the queue to order those gorgeous looking Scotch eggs, so we grabbed a pretty yummy Salt Beef lunch (rye bread sandwich for me, bagel melt for W, both minus the gherkin, because EWW…) before escaping to the relative quiet of the city. We’d picked up some doughnuts from Bread Ahead but in all honesty they weren’t that great. Overly sweet filling, relatively dry dough. A disappointment compared to their brownies.

 photo Favourite London Things 10_zpscg2h10k7.jpg photo Favourite London Things 8_zpszcbuhhis.jpg photo Favourite London Things 5_zps9kexkpyu.jpg photo Favourite London Things 3_zpsgxjczlu6.jpg photo Favourite London Things 6_zpswuuwvqd2.jpgWe’d originally planned on making the most of the Open House events across London. We’d been too late to enter the ballets for Downing Street, the BT tower and 1 Canada Square, so I aimed at the Bank of England. Unfortuantely the queue put us off, so we meandered over to the Emirates Skyline. Whilst not included in Travelcards it does provide a cheap way of getting another view of London – and I personally loved the calmness of the flight. And watching the waterskiing lessons as we came into land!

 photo Favourite London Things 11_zpszozsvotf.jpgI then introduced W to St Katharine’s Docks, which is definitely one of my favourites spots in London, before we headed to tick off one of my 30 Before 30 with some lobster. We visited the Burger & Lobster in Harvey Nics, hoping to avoid queuing. In the end we still waited 30 minutes but it was pretty much worth it. Our lobsters were sweet and succulent, the lemony garlic butter the perfect accompaniment. I reckon it would be the perfect date night as it’s something a little different, we definitely had a giggle trying to extract all the meat!

 photo Favourite London Things 14_zpsgb5hqdoo.jpg photo Favourite London Things 13_zpsufl8tvsk.jpgMy original Sunday plan of dividing packing time with a picnic in Richmond Park was foiled due to a duathalon; we ended up lying on Ham Common for a few hours. We watched the cricket match, soaked up some sun and then had a drive around the area. Perhaps not what I had planned, but a lovely little break anyhow.

 photo Favourite London Things 15_zpswbijnby3.jpgAnd then that was it, our summer in London was over. On Monday we moved back up to the Midlands, and tomorrow I leave again for Kent. This summer has led me to fall completely and utterly in love with our capital city, and I would dearly love to live there for longer. It’s allowed me to live with my boyfriend for the first time, it’s allowed me to meet some of my favourite bloggers. I’ve eaten a lot of street food, attended events, and even spent 18 hours in Manchester doing some filming. A fantastic summer by anyone’s standards. And now this brings me to the end of The London Diaries. I still have quite a few London related posts waiting, but I’ll spread them out a little. After all, being on a student budget means little eating out from now on! Until next year, London… (or Wednesday at least, hello grad interviews!).

Where is your favourite spot in London? How was your summer?

Lifestyle: A Bank-Holiday Weekend in Devon

Just over 13 months since I last wrote a post titled virtually the same, I’m back from another weekend in Devon. A different area, a very different kind of break, but we still ended up going to our family-favourite chippy!

 photo Devon 2015 26_zps8knklwoj.jpg photo Devon 2015 25_zpsfwoswkii.jpg photo Devon 2015 2_zpsxpqixc7p.jpgMy family have been visiting Devon/Dorset for years. It’s so much quieter than Cornwall, easier to get to, a little cheaper and the roads are much wider. Plus it’s just as beautiful! For as long as I remember we’ve been going down there for the first weekend in March and then again later in the year – though I’ve sneakily escaped from the March visit for a good eight years now. What can I say; it was a little cold for me! This year we stayed in a cottage just outside Sidmouth – one of my favourite seaside towns.

 photo Devon 2015 3_zps7vekha6e.jpg photo Devon 2015 8_zpsnvr89u1p.jpg photo Devon 2015 9_zpszuajafuj.jpgOur first day was earmarked for one thing, and one thing only – a visit to aforementioned chippy. I actually wasn’t as impressed as usual as I found the chips a little pale and soggy, still good though! We wandered along the seafront, getting battered by the strong winds and sprayed by the waves. The sun came out to join us too!

 photo Devon 2015 7_zpsen4yhe02.jpgI found a new life goal – own a beach hut. How lovely would that be?!

 photo Devon 2015 12_zpszfgcpd7c.jpg photo Devon 2015 1_zpsp4iwzonf.jpgSaturday bought a lot of sunshine, a good amount of heat and a lot of wasps buzzing around. There was little chance to enjoy the weather as we’d arranged a family meet-up – it ended up being a great afternoon of seeing cousins I hadn’t seen since I was 14.

 photo Devon 2015 13_zpscc952qum.jpg photo Devon 2015 14_zps8onl79ny.jpg photo Devon 2015 15_zpskey2xrca.jpg photo Devon 2015 16_zpskl5gizda.jpg photo Devon 2015 18_zpstexicpdu.jpg photo Devon 2015 19_zps8l1pdyjd.jpg photo Devon 2015 20_zpsagkvmnrm.jpgThe next day was a bit rainy, a bit grey, a bit soggy. We headed off to Beer, a little fishing village I’d never actually visited before. It’s still a working fishing village, so there’s a bit of a whiff in the air. It is very charming though, I just wouldn’t want to sit for too long on the beach. We had a wander, then retreated to a little hut on the cliffs for shelter, steaming hot drinks and some equally mouth-blistering Devonish pasties. I have clearly got used to London prices as I couldn’t believe I could buy a hot chocolate for £1.50!

 photo Devon 2015 21_zpszlimt6v1.jpg photo Devon 2015 22_zpsidl1skzx.jpgThe next stop was the Donkey Sanctuary. This is a staple whenever we are in the area, it’s free to enter and a great way to spend a few hours. I love donkeys (there’s just something so comical amount them!), and I find the work the charity does is amazing. They all look so well cared for, everything is clean, and not a penny is charged. This time we were lucky enough to finally spy some of the Poitou – giant curly donkeys!

 photo Devon 2015 23_zpsywixjl0x.jpg photo Devon 2015 32_zpsvdhkk5k6.jpgAs the rain stopped we decided to pop into Sidmouth briefly – and ended up being seriously impressed by the dog-friendly beach. We watched the tail-end of the regatta, wandered around the shops (myself being amazed at being able to get on normal width wellies in Joules!), and maybe had a cheeky ice cream…(Maple Pecan Crunch was definitely a good decision…)

 photo Devon 2015 24_zpshrezq6vx.jpg photo Devon 2015 29_zpssqegji4g.jpg photo Devon 2015 31_zps79cwln2j.jpg photo Devon 2015 30_zpsnmuyuq9k.jpgHaving been so impressed with Sidmouth we decided to call in again on our last day (me and W unfortunately could only stretch to a long weekend). The weather was a little kinder to us, the tide not so. We wiled away the morning in the town, lusting over the homewear shops and eating some of the best chips ever (this time the fish suffered – one day I will find the perfect place that does both elements exactly right!). Tide finally out, we hit the beach. The sun made an appearance, the bare legs came out and I braved the sea (knee deep!). We explored some rock pools, got my dog running around and generally relaxed.

A slightly strenuous climb up to the car needed remedying with an ice cream. Salted Caramel was the perfect way to end a perfect weekend!

 photo Devon 2015 11_zps54ydp060.jpgAs this weekend served as a bit of a detox from the internet, from blogging, from life in general, I was a bit unsure about whether to put up a post about it. However I did take some lovely photos (some of these are from my shiny new phone!), and I had such a wonderful time I wanted to share it – as it’s my last holiday in a while I thought I’d make the most of it!

What did you get up to over the Bank Holiday? Where’s your favourite seaside spot?

The London Diaries: A Riverside Spot

Living in London has introduced me to both a love and hate of the Thames. Love in that its pretty, there’s a buzzy atmosphere almost all the time, and it’s somehow peaceful anywhere along the river. Hate in that I often have to locate a bridge in order to get where I need to be.

 photo Picnic at the Tower 34_zpstgwmlo3c.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 7_zps6ssqddob.jpgHowever one time that I always have love for the Thames is in the evening. It’s both an oasis of calm and a hive of activity at the same time, and of course highly instagrammable. And what better way to enjoy an evening that a Riverside picnic of Pimms and Pastries (and sandwiches too, because carbs)…

Guoman Hotels invited a group of bloggers to enjoy a summer picnic on their new ‘lawn’ – an area of grass along the riverbank complete with pop-up bar and giant lawn games. We were greeted with plenty of Pimms, and I settled down to have a chat with some lovely ladies.

 photo Picnic at the Tower 12_zpsnwkegv6s.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 20_zpshcuvovcb.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 23_zpsjcznqthb.jpgDinner was served in little lunchboxes, the blogger in me slightly disappointed at lack of wicker hamper. A selection of sandwiches were yummy – though the Ham & Mustard was inedible sweet. Some non-white bread varieties would have been a perfect addition perhaps…

The second box contained a selection of pastries, along with obligatory scone. And yes, I did sit and pick the fruit out of my scones.

 photo Picnic at the Tower 29_zpswb59yv14.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 25_zpsomjxkamg.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 27_zpsmeowzdav.jpgWine followed the Pimms, and we laughed and chatted and giggled as the sun set over the Thames. A few rounds of Jenga were played, many photos were taken. Including a variety of accidental ones from me, damn touch-screen shutter!

The Lawn is a pop-up bar area, a unique setting that can be enjoyed by all. You definitely wouldn’t think you were a short walk away from the giant office blocks of the City! I’m not sure when the Lawn closes but if you fancy a leisurely riverside drink then I’d get yourself there sharpish.

 photo Picnic at the Tower 8_zpsbvruyafl.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 9_zpsfljx6sod.jpg photo Picnic at the Tower 32_zpsu95jq6xe.jpgAnd with nearby views like this, why wouldn’t you?!

Where’s your favourite spot in London? I only have a few weeks left living here so please send over any must-visit recommendations!

Lifestyle: August Favourites

Geeky confession time: I LOVE September. I think it’s that Back to School feeling, which makes no sense as for years I hated school. But possibly it because it’s the starting again, the possibility of reinventing myself. And a new diary, obvs (joys of being a student = academic diaries, so much prettier than annual ones!).

 photo August Favourites 7_zpsfiynq23r.pngFinishing my placement last week, having a relaxing and slightly damp weekend in Devon, it’s all meant I’m raring to go this week in order to make this academic year, my last academic year, the best yet. I have some goals I’ll be sharing next week, but let’s just reflect on summer for a little. I’m hopeful for a little more sunshine, but it’s definitely been a good one. Here’s my standout bits and pieces from August…
 photo August Favourites 11_zpsacrcxmed.jpg photo August Favourites 12_zpspvzfxgdu.jpg photo August Favourites 14_zpsk8aw4qol.jpg photo August Favourites 15_zpshorz4rjv.jpg

Devon

A part of the UK that I adore, when my parents invited me and W to share some of their holiday with them there was only one answer. We traveled down on the train to spend a long weekend with them and it was wonderful. I turned my phone off (mainly), even left my camera at the cottage. I read five books, ate two ice creams, multiple portions of fish-and-chips and got soggy from both rain and sea. I’ll write more about my little break soon, I’m still in holiday mode currently…

Oh, and how cute is that curly-haired donkey?!

New Phone

Long-time readers and those who saw my #BigBloggerConference ‘grams will have noticed that my phone camera couldn’t really function as a camera. Casting a pink/purple tinge over all photos unless in perfect light it was pretty horrific. Not to mention the lack of vibration, the only-making-noise-when-a-text-comes-not-a-call, the lagging, the flickering screen, the dropping calls, and the crappy contract I was on… Safe to say I’m pretty glad to have a new phone. I’ve only had it since Friday, and since then it’s been mainly off than on, but so far so good. I may actually do a more dedicated post as I’ve steered away from Apple, Nokia, Sony, Samsung and HTC…

Lip-Liners

I discovered lip-liners only a few months ago, and bought a load of them from KIKO at the beginning of the month. I’ve found them perfect for keeping a wash of colour on my lips throughout the whole working day. It makes refreshing for a night-out super easy and I’ve not found them particularly drying.
 photo August Favourites 1_zps2irngthj.jpg photo August Favourites 13_zpsdoxy8dxl.jpg

The Perfect Dress

One of the most flattering, versatile and totally ‘me’ dresses I’ve found, I umm-ed and ahh-ed for days before splashing the cash in Topshop. It fits wonderfully, is the perfect transition piece and seems high-quality. Love, love LOVE.

Doggy Cuddles

No puppies this month, but lots of cuddles with my dog! A whole long weekend with him was perfect, though it’s made me a little sad to see he’s no longer up to running up and down the beach. I took a lot of photos of him during our weekend, so much so he now curls up into his blanket when I pull my camera out. Ah well. Plus dogs = the perfect accessory for outfit photos (when used responsibly…).
 photo August Favourites 2_zps3hiphrjl.jpg photo August Favourites 4_zpspsfy4tga.jpg photo August Favourites 5_zpstez3eomg.jpg photo August Favourites 3_zpsxfzpv1bq.jpg

Roasts & Leftovers

I’ve finally ticked off a New Year’s Resolution! Since moving to the flat me and W have cooked a roast every single week. Admittedly he’s done most of them, but last night I roasted a chicken completely and utterly by myself – it was resting and I was cooking gravy (from scratch!) by the time he came home from work. Almost more delicious than the roast dinner, we’ve made some fab leftovers. Think harissa chicken pasties, the most wonderful shepherd’s pie ever (four hours it took, four hours!), and today I have a chicken chowder simmering away. This Sunday brisket is on the menu…

Leaving Gifts

It’s a really difficult one without showing off, but I was over the moon and unbelievably chuffed with my leaving gifts from work. I wasn’t expecting such generosity, but equally the thoughtfulness is amazing. They know me so well – a mini satchel, a chocolate making workshop, fancy pens set and a personalized wooden spoon. Major love for my (unfortunately former) colleagues!

And yep, it takes my satchel count up to 8. #sorrynotsorry
 photo 2015-08-22 10.54.35_zpsgnnm69hd.jpg photo 2015-08-20 19.36.21_zpsiyy9njm7.jpg photo 2015-08-20 18.41.17_zpsynmuo47z.jpg

Blogging Events

Living in London has given me the chance to attend some wonderful events over the last few weeks. I’ve watched Mean Girls on a barge, learned a lot at the BigBloggerConference, and had a picnic in a fabulous setting. I’ve met some lovely ladies, though I’m still hoping to meet some of my favourite bloggers before I leave London in a few weeks.

I know I say it pretty much every month, but August flew by unbelievably quickly. We’re now here in Autumn, I’m craving fluffy socks and chunky knits and ankle boots and stew with dumplings, and it will be Christmas before we know it. Here’s to a slightly slower September!

Did August fly by for you too? What were your highlights of the past month?

Cooking: A Taste of the Algarve with Peri-Peri Prawns and Patatas Bravas

It’s been quite a few years since I’ve been to the Algarve, but despite that I still remember the yummy food. I first went at the age of four, and have been for multiple family holidays since (staying in a well-known-but-not-for-good-reasons resort).

 photo Algarve Meal 7_zps0mp322wn.jpgLots of seafood, well-flavored dishes, stews, and beautiful bread spread with sardine paste or garlic butter (not made for romantic holidays, these dishes!), finished with the Creme Catalana. Just perfection!

I was challenged by Jet2holidays to come up with a meal from the Algarve, something new to add to my meal repertoire that I wouldn’t usually think about making. My first thought was a cataplana – a seafood stew usually made with tomatoes. In the end I went more simple, with some simple prawns and potatoes.

 photo Algarve Meal 4_zpsqc6xhlyc.jpg photo Algarve Meal 6_zpsifpv8cp1.jpgMy aim was to skewer these prawns and grill them, but a quick trip to London resulted in me standing at the checkout at 7:30pm buying them. Peckish and tired, making skewers wasn’t going to happen – and this dish we made was ready to eat just about 8pm making it perfect for post-work entertaining. Not that I do much of that, but I can dream!

Ingredients

  • Raw king prawns
  • 250g new potatoes
  • Red chilli
  • Garlic puree
  • 1 lemon
  • Paprika
  • White wine vinegar

 photo Algarve Meal 1_zpscg0glo5x.jpgMarinate the prawns for as long as possible, up to 24 hours. Simple grate the zest of the lemon and the chilli into a bowl, add 1 teaspoon of garlic puree, 1/2 teaspoon of paprika, and the juice of half the lemon. Toss the prawns through the mixture, cover and leave.

 photo Algarve Meal 3_zpsd6nv1w5f.jpgCube the potatoes and par-boil for around 8 minutes. Drain, then fry in the little oil until starting to crisp. Add the juice of the rest of the lemon, a little garlic and a good tablespoon of paprika. Keep warm in a low oven.

Wipe the pan out and heat over a high heat. Add the prawns and cook until just pink – around 30-45 seconds on each side.

Serve the potatoes and prawns with a simple green salad – ours was just rocket tossed with lemon and olive oil. Eat, preferably outside enjoying the sunshine and warm evenings.

 photo Algarve Meal 5_zpsnr7qrkg7.jpgThis is such a great light dish for summer, and it’s so quick too. I always forget how much I enjoy prawns! Perhaps not truly from the Algarve, but it definitely reminded me of those lovely holidays!

Disclaimer: I was provided with money for ingredients by Jet2holidays. As ever, all opinions are my own – as is the recipe.

Have you ever been to the Algarve? What’s your favourite holiday food?

Beauty: A Pre-Holiday Glow

Whilst I’ve learnt to embrace my pale skin, I always feel a little self-conscious come summer. If I’m truly honest to myself, I hate the way my legs are so blotchy and uneven. I have a white scar running behind one knee which can look obvious, and I just need a confidence boost. Fake tan has never been a success for me, so trying out a gradual version was high priority this year.

 photo Gradual Tan 1_zps2uo7jyk4.jpgAfter comparing reviews, standing in Boots totting up prices, I finally went with Dove Summer Glow. Apparently it’s meant to smell better than other brands, though if this is ‘better’ I’m not sure I want to try anything else – I find the tell tale biscuit scent to be quite strong. The moisturiser itself is creamy and hydrating, it sinks in nicely and the effects last. The tan element is definitely there, with two applications giving me a golden glow – and an orange tinge to anywhere I’ve not applied properly.

Quite honestly, I’m a fake tan novice and lack the patience needed to apply it. If you are dedicated and apply slowly and carefully I see no reason why this wouldn’t give a seamless tan – but it will streak slightly if you rush it. Still, not a bad colour and with change for a fiver!

 photo 007d008f-ab16-43b6-9490-e526c86a415e_zpsf8a463c9.jpgGarnier BB Cream SPF 50 photo 415f1d60-dde6-4c9b-ab76-cb79ed0529b6_zpsaa3gr7mt.jpgA slightly tanned body, it makes sense to add a little glow to my face too. The high SPF Garnier BB cream is a little dark for me naturally, but when I have a slight tan it gives the perfect light base – I loved using it in Italy! A dusting of bronzer (Bodyshop’s Honey Bronzer is perfect for a non-orange look) and I could have spent a fortnight on the beach, not staring at an Excel Spreadsheet all day.

Do you fake a golden glow? What products do you recommend?

Lifestyle: Travel Essentials

I may have mentioned it once of twice, but I’m off on holiday soon! It’s only a little trip around Italy, but it’s been planned for months. After receiving some pretty horrific news the week before leaving I definitely needed to get away from it all!

I thought today I’d go through some of the essentials I’ve got with me – whilst I haven’t been abroad in three years these were failsafe items during my teen years, so things haven’t changed much!
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Camera

I’ve been asked by a couple of people to do a post dedicated to my camera, so I won’t say too much for now! I will say that I’m not convinced a camera is necessary for travel nowadays with smartphones, however my phone doesn’t take pictures without tinting them purple! I’m only taking my kit lens away with me to save space, and reduce damages should the worst happen.

Insurance

I can’t be an actuary and not get travel insurance! I personally wouldn’t go away without it, but that’s because I’m accident prone and W is diabetic (and that bumped up my premium nicely). I’ve also taken out ‘personal item’ cover which will pay out for damage/loss/theft of camera, phones, sunglasses etc.
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Tablet & Headphones

I’ve been in two minds whether or not to take this, but I think I will as it’s ideal for catching up on TV – I simply download past programmes as I can then watch later without wifi.

Of course, no-one else on the plane wants to hear what I’m watching, so I’ll be taking my new Sudio* earphones. These are so unbelievably comfortable (I hate wearing earphones so this is a huge plus), look pretty cool and don’t slip out. Sound quality is pretty awesome too.
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Emergency Supplies

Another non-essential for most people, but I’m definitely taking a packet of biscuits and a pocket sized bottle of squash.

With W being diabetic I’d always worry if we didn’t have food with us, espeically overnight in the hotel, so that explains the biscuits. Whether I’ll eat more than him remains to be seen… The squash is because I typically don’t drink enough water, so this is an attempt to keep me hydrated. I’ve also got plenty of antihistamines (going to Italy with a tomato allergy is a bit worrying!), painkillers, insect repellant…pretty much a whole pharmacy!

I’ve also been sent some UV Indicator bands* and decided to put them to the test. You apply suncream over the top and wear all day – and apparently they let you know when it’s time to reapply or seek shade. I wonder whether these will stop me turning pink?!

Satchel

I wouldn’t be myself if I didn’t carry a satchel, but I reckon they are really practical for trips like this. With the buckles they are pretty secure from pickpocketers, plus this one is pretty small and light without limiting what I can carry.

It fits in my carry-on suitcase too, which is a complete bonus thanks to EasyJet’s restrictions!
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Passport & EHIC

Confession time! For just under a week, less than a month before take-off, I had no idea where my passport was. Oops. I’ve found it now and keep obsessively checking it’s where it should be. I’ve also made sure my EHIC card is in date – this gives free or reduced healthcare in Europe so is a pretty important card! I know some (cheaper) insurers won’t pay out a medical claim if you don’t have one of these, you have been warned…
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Sensible Shoes

Admittedly these aren’t the most sensible I could have picked, but it’s not like I’ll be doing any serious hiking this holiday! I was planning on taking an old pair of (completely wrecked) grey pumps but found these last minute. Cream, lacy, pointed toes – what’s not to love?!

Travel Wallet

I came across this in Paperchase and couldn’t resist – it’s perfect for the organisation-freak in me, and keeps everything to hand. It’s big enough to hold passports, tickets, reservations, whilst still sliding into the fullest of bags.

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Sunglasses

I never wear sunglasses unless I can help it – in fact I think the only place I’ve made sure to carry them with me has been Switzerland. Despite this, I’ve managed to collect about five pairs in my drawers at home. Two have labels still attached. And which pair am I taking away with me? The pair I got free in a magazine…

What are your travel essentials? Are you off anywhere nice this year?

Beauty: Holiday Packing

A long-awaited trip, I’ve been planning Italy for what feels like months. The first time me and W have ventured abroad on our own (does Scotland count?!), the first time I’ve been to Italy in a while. It’s been planned meticulously, planes, trains, hotels, restaurants, how to warn of my tomato allergy in Italian…

 photo bed429a7-03bb-4886-9a9a-fa80d58cce9c_zpsyjnbud05.jpgI’m ridiculously excited to get away, and I’ve been secretly planning what to take for months. I don’t want to take a huge makeup bag with me as I want to get the most out of our time away – so I thought I’d share my minimal beauty supplies. Of course, I’m also saving space for when I hit Duty Free and Kiko!

 photo 9957bb08-e437-4a0a-86a4-863978292b5f_zpswxl1ozj2.jpgFirst up is the usual boring stuff – though I’ve limited showing you the toothpaste! I’ve picked up some miniatures for sharing between us – I rarely use shampoo, so one small bottle is fine between us for a week. I’ll need to grab another small bottle of conditioner as mt hair drinks it up, and I need to take a trip to Bodyshop for a mini shower gel too. Skincare wise I’ll be taking my facial soap, and a small amount of Pixi Glow. I’ll need to grab a small bottle of makeup remover too!

I’m not too sure how my hair will take to the heat (last time I experienced it was five years ago in Turkey – and it wasn’t pretty) so I’ve grabbed a salt spray in the hope of keeping somewhat presentable locks. We’ll see…

 photo 68ae4a27-7d1c-4001-b945-e8e6a4219acc_zpsyj00b4k0.jpgNow onto more exciting bits. I couldn’t go away without my all-time favourite moisturiser, and the newly released BB cream is also coming with me. Factor 50, it will hopefully stop my face getting burnt! I’ve got a big bottle of SPF20 for the rest of my body, as well as a small tube of non-tinted SPF50 for shoulders and top of feet (mine are prone to burning!). For days I’ll just be throwing on BB cream, mascara, and possibly a little concealer.

 photo 3682435a-1a19-4120-ac48-cf463c82ad05_zpszaeejreo.jpgEvenings are where I’ll vamp it up slightly. I’m planning on taking my Smashbox palette as it pretty much covers all bases when it comes to eyeshadow looks. As I’m still pre-holiday I’m still convincing myself 3 lip choices is fine (a nude, a plum and a red) but somehow I’m guessing a few more might make the cut. I’m wanting to pick up an orange-toned red in duty-free too…

 photo a21b66c9-72cb-4de9-84d9-b34f9cf5fc4e_zpsr388kkr0.jpgAnd of course, I’ll be taking my beloved Hourglass palette. This on top of the BB cream makes for a fabulous and effortless base! I’ll be using the Ecotools mini brush kit for applying – I found it on the reduced counter in Boots at a bargain price so I highly suggest going for a browse. Full review coming up. Oh, and the giant cosmetics bag is from Ted Baker, I fell in love as it’s so uni-sex without being boring. And it fits perfectly in the bottom of my weekend suitcase!

 photo a8a1e92d-62ef-46f8-a551-7ba236c01c68_zps9aynndsy.jpgAnd that’s it! I’m pretty impressed with how streamlined I’ve kept this considering my makeup collection has expanded dramatically in recent months. Now as long as I ignore that temptation to pack allllll the lipsticks we’ll be fine!

What are your travel must-haves? Do you like to take a full or reduced makeup bag on holiday?