Lifestyle: Exploring Surrey

I’ve lived in Surrey since last July but confess I haven’t seen much of the county. Completely reliant on public transport I’ve found my options quite limited, and the temptation of both Brighton and London has been hard to resist.

 photo 2015-05-25 12.37.08_zpsammplf88.jpgI’ve visited some lovely towns during my time here. I’ve eaten plenty of street food in Reigate, loved Guildford and had a yummy fish finger sandwich¬†in Dorking. But above all I’ve fallen in love with the countryside. Glimpses from trains have shown rolling hills, shady woods, little streams. I know without doubt I’d love to consider settling down here in the future.

 photo 2015-05-25 12.41.23_zpsexvdeayy.jpg photo 2015-05-25 12.41.11_zpsxqjjo5ke.jpg photo 2015-05-25 12.51.26_zpsd16wyxic.jpgBank Holiday Monday saw my parents drive down to pack up my winter wardrobe see me so I persuaded them we needed to explore. We headed over to Box Hill, an area made famous by the cycling a few years back. It’s still extremely popular with cyclists, hence driving up was a little difficult – but worth it. Stunning views, a lovely visitors centre. We would have loved to spend longer up there, perhaps taking a proper walk.

But grumbling tummies had to be dealt with!

After missing the turnings for most of the pubs we had researched and almost driving into the US Open Golf qualifiers (quite literally…) we stumbled upon The Blue Anchor. Making the most of sitting outside we quickly ordered…and were thoroughly impressed.

 photo 2015-05-25 13.40.21_zpsqrkv2zhs.jpg photo 2015-05-25 13.40.32_zpsxxmjiox9.jpgI couldn’t resist the lure of the burger – minus the gherkin (who eats these?!) and tomato. Coming with lashings of mustard mayo and a good helping of actually melted cheese, it was one of the most delicious burgers I’ve had. It wasn’t cooked pink, in fact it was a little chewy, but the flavours were spot on. Bonus points for melting the cheese onto the burger so it crisped slightly. SO GOOD.

 photo 2015-05-25 13.40.14_zpsjzkudl8f.jpgMy sister went for the prawn and crab linguine, and would have loved it had it not been for the rather strange addition of sweet chilli sauce. Instead she feasted on the chips. Obviously homemade, already perfectly seasoned, crisp. Everything you want a chip to be!

My parents went for the beer battered cod, and the ham and eggs – both of which received no complaints. I’m convinced my burger was the star of the show though.

 photo 2015-05-25 13.40.08_zpshmwtiq0m.jpgWe finished the day with a quick wander around Reigate before piling all my stuff into the car. I genuinely don’t know how I’ve ammassed so much stuff. Kind of dreading moving back to university in September as adding notes to this is going to get embarrassing…

 photo 6560ba7d-aaad-437e-a085-aa21713d47cf_zpsjxf9iqbd.jpgA lovely day, beautiful weather, fabulous company, exploring one of my favourite parts of the country. If only all Mondays were like this!

How have you been spending your weekends lately? Do you love to get out and about in your local area?

Lifestyle: A Weekend in the Country

After a stressful few weeks at work, top of my list was relaxing. Limited screen time, less electronic devices buzzing incessantly at me to action something, and plenty of fresh air. I certainly managed that last weekend!

 photo IMG_2246_zps8vlg4q22.jpg photo IMG_2239_zpst2p6oank.jpg photo IMG_2236_zps6gdxaxel.jpg photo IMG_2225_zpsjkysrmiq.jpgMy dad’s 50th, a hired cottage sleeping 10, family friends and dogs, it wasn’t as relaxing as I had planned but I certainly felt rejuvenated. Days started with helping my mum cook massive fry-ups and debating where to spend the day. The majority of the weekend was taken up with trying to wear out children and dogs. Basking in the sun on Saturday. Discovering that 18 miles on a bike (bought when I was 8!) stuck in fourth gear is impossible (my bottom remains bruised). Sheltering from the cold with on the Sunday. Giant bowls of chilli and tortilla chips. Sending the men outside to BBQ, ferrying food through windows so we could eat without shivering. Sunday roasts. Practicing first aid when play-fighting meant eye brows hit sideboards (it’ll be a lovely scar). Hide and seek in the huge hired house. Board games, films, plenty of baked goods. A pretty perfect weekend.

 photo IMG_2235_zps9i6forwr.jpg photo IMG_2230_zpsnfcv3v5e.jpg photo IMG_2228_zps566yhwwh.jpg photo IMG_2227_zpspt4jpcbc.jpgApart from being chased by cows, and trying to stay standing as my dog hurls himself to the end of his lead after sheep (the far end of the field I hasten to add, I wouldn’t risk walking him close to sheep!).

 photo IMG_2187_zps7kg1evhd.jpg photo IMG_2198_zpsfilewhie.jpg photo IMG_2199_zpsigxncws5.jpgDiet ruined, plenty of baked goods were consumed. A customised birthday cake from M&S was as delicious as it was huge, despite the disturbing green icing. I made some delicious Bounty Flapjack (recipe to come soon), Dad whipped up Peanut Butter Brownies (at 6am…the smell was a killer waking up!), and W made an amazing Malteaser Tiffin that I’m slowly trying to get the recipe for!

 photo IMG_2240_zps0utkak16.jpg photo IMG_2242_zpsqdrhtfyg.jpg photo IMG_2244_zpsdyc3muby.jpgBeing fortunate with the weather on Saturday, I spent the day moaning about being too warm in tights and shorts. The sudden cold snap on the Sunday meant I was hugely grateful for my new Barbour Jacket from Repertoire Fashion. It’s actually a men’s jacket, as I find they fit me better (I don’t have to size up and they cover my bottom adequately). I’ve loved browsing the site as they have some great bargains, though sizes are limited so if you see something I’d snap it up pretty quickly!

 photo IMG_2159_zpscsa0t7l0.jpg photo IMG_2244_zpsdyc3muby.jpg photo IMG_2245_zpsdngc0zcm.jpg photo IMG_2241_zpstc0et5s8.jpgI picked up a standard Barbour Heritage* in navy, though I’m hugely craving the Merlot Red colour now too. It’s perfect, warm and cosy, protective from the wind, yet it allows me to scramble up/down hills and really get a pace on whilst walking. I’ve always assumed you were just paying for the brand, but the jacket just screams quality. I’m not sure I’ll ever buy a different branded dog-walking jacket again! Just excuse the not-so sensible shoes, my Joules wellies have cracked and I’m yet to find any suitable for my wide-calves…

 photo IMG_2229_zpsu1czbbga.jpg photo IMG_2210_zpsy8uxbfra.jpgThe most wonderful weekend, quality time with family and friends, delicious food, and succeeding in wearing out the dog. I rediscovered how stunning the countryside is around Leicestershire and Rutland, remembered how I love using footpaths as opposed to more tourist-y country parks, and I’m itching to pick up an updated OS map (the one I use is from the nineties!). Now if only I could have another weekend to recover!

What have you been up to with your weekends lately?

Lifestyle: Autumn Walk

I don’t think there’s anything better to do than head out for a countryside walk. Fresh air, exercise and time with some of my favourite people (and dog!) – I can’t honestly think of anything I’d rather do. My family came to visit a few weeks ago (bringing winter clothes – my coat is still unworn, though it will be firmly glued on when I head up to Edinburgh next week!) so I took the opportunity to explore Surrey a little. I’ve lived here since July, but not driving means I’ve seen very little. So the first chance I got, I went exploring and took my camera along with me.

 photo 8d2bceb9-5ad0-4b4d-8ce9-893aac71a1c5_zpsaa14fe7d.jpg photo 76ee5c17-8ba9-486e-ad80-3988a44f27f4_zps601be003.jpgWe headed over to Reigate first, a lovely little village with a ridiculous amount of both restaurants and banks. A lovely bagel shop too – I thoroughly enjoy their New Yorker, a mix of mayonnaise, mustard, pastrami and cheese. Unbelievably good. Moving out of Reigate we parked by the golf course and walked around the area there. It’s a mix of forest and field, criss-crossed with footpaths and bridleways. You have to dodge golf balls, but its a lovely place, very quiet.

There’s also a hidden gem. The Skimmington Castle (photograph from their site – camera ran out of battery!) is hidden down a pretty tiny lane. Its actually quite a large pub, extremely popular, and serve damn good sandwiches. Their ham and mustard was wonderful, although huge. Sunday lunches looked pretty amazing too.

 photo 7c473de1-1e53-465f-826d-7967faddefac_zpsb5be1793.jpgThe pub is also very dog friendly, even serving doggy biscuits. Someone was pleased!

 photo f2ff963a-5d7d-4bf1-81ec-7bc3093f20d6_zps3244c171.jpg photo d2cc6570-bcbb-433d-ab7a-451a99d20aa7_zps283098d4.jpgI’m feeling a little lonely this weekend, it being one of the only weekends I’ve spent completely on my own here. I’ve made plans to do plenty of baking and cooking – I have 5kg of carrots to dispose of, so carrot cake and carrot soup is on the menu! I’m going to go for a run, I’m going to work on a project for the office. But I can’t help feeling that the weekends are so much better when I get out and about. I’m definitely looking forward to adventures with W next weekend!
 photo 3096585b-ec64-426d-ab58-0620daac8dea_zpsf5775eb0.jpg

What are you up to this weekend? Have you voted in the UK 2015 Blog Awards yet? Any recommended carrot recipes?!