Friday, 28 March 2014

Happiness, travel and hippy food...


Lately, I am feeling more positive, more grateful and happier than I think I ever have. All these positive affirmations, as tacky as some people may find them, really help set my mind in a positive light and make me appreciate life and everything I have. I see people getting stressed about work and letting it be the centre of their world but I'm all for balance and making sure to put the really important things first. It's harder than it sounds but to me, it has made a world of difference. I had a guy at work (and another a week later) say to me, "You're one of the most positive, bright and bubbly people I think I know in this place. It's refreshing!"

I love this quote. Sometimes I wonder what
we're all waiting for...

Of course I have my days, weeks even, when things just don't seem right and I'm less than chipper but it's these times that I need to remember what I have to be thankful for, what an amazing life I'm living, the incredible people that surround me and how very lucky I am. I often get scared that being so happy means something bad is just around the corner but you can't live in fear and need to take each day as it comes.

When others notice a difference in you, it's so nice but when I know that I'm happier, brighter and more positive, that's the most important thing. Plus the bonus is that winter is behind us so throw in a bit of sunshine and I'm well and truly set!

SUNSHINE! Only seen it about three days
so far this year but when it does come out,
 it's spectacular!
Bedfont Lakes, Bedfont - March 2014


Things I love right now.

  • Fresh daffodils. I just can't help but smile when I see them. I buy them almost weekly!

The happiest flowers, ever.

  • Sunshine and the change of season. Oh Vitamin D, how I've missed you so!

Spring is here!
Brockley, March 2014

  • London and the Thames. Whenever I can, I walk around London and my absolute favourite walk is from my work in Pimlico along the Thames, taking in Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the London Eye, Southbank, it's just so beautiful and iconic. The few days of good weather that we do get make me fall in love with this great city over and over again.

Beautiful London Thames Walk
March 2014

The carousel at Southbank
March 2014

  • The anticipation of a proper, week long European summer holiday. Quiet all of you, I know you all think all I do is go on holidays!! We've just booked a trip to Cyprus in June and I can't wait! Plus it's another country to tick off my list!

  • Relative to the point above - clocking up the countries. Currently at 43, just seven more to go until I reach my goal of 50 countries visited!!

Not exactly an overseas adventure but
I adore travelling through the UK too - stunning
Rye, March 2014

  • Pineapples. To eat, they're not so great over here but on tshirts, as ornaments, bowls, trinkets and necklaces', I'm sold!

  • Family. Watching my little nephew and niece grow every day and my London sister's bump too, just warms my heart. A video of my nephew rocking out complete with head banging, to AC/DC... What more could you possibly want!?

  • Yoga. But I won't talk about this for the billionth time, not this month anyway!

I love yoga!
Image from Fitapproach via instagram


Itching to get out of the city after spending a whole five weekends in London, the first weekend in March, we escaped for some country air with a weekend trip to Canterbury. We took a half day on Friday and this meant we made it down to Kent in time to visit two local wineries. The English aren't famous for good wine and so I was a bit skeptical at first but am never one to turn down a wine tasting. The first place was alright, a good rosé but the whites were pretty standard English wines. The second winery, Chapel Downs, was a little more posh and apparently supplied the wines for the royal wedding so I had pretty high hopes or else I'd know the royals had terrible taste in wine.

Chapel Downs was lovely. Perfectly kept gardens, a posh shop with a huge array of chutneys, spices, dips, oils and everything in between. This was my kind of place! The wines were really good but of course, had the price tag to match. We did buy a bottle of rosés which the lady said is perfect in Summer and we all laughed at the thought of England ever having a decent summer. Or any summer at all for that matter. I still live in hope.

Friday night we spent in the lovely little town of Rye. Famous for scallops, we'd missed the scallop festival by a matter of days and B was gutted. We stayed on a little farm which was just picture perfect! A little duck pond, chickens running around the garden, a friendly house cat who loved being patted, big wooly sheep, horses. I loved it! We had a great night exploring the different pubs on offer and had a delicious seafood dinner at Webbe's Fish Cafe. I love visiting little towns like this because they're so sweet and have so much character.

JUST missed the scallop festival...
Rye, March 2014

Farm stay - too cute!
Rye, March 2014

Saturday we were up early and amazingly, it was bright and sunny. Cold, but sunny! We did a big country walk through fields of angry cows (honestly, one followed us really closely and kept mooing at us - B had to keep reassuring me that it wouldn't charge at us) past amusing street signs (see below) through even tinier towns, fields of daffodils and beautiful countryside. Gorgeous!

I couldn't NOT have my photo taken
Rye, March 2014

We ended up back in Rye for one last look around the amazing antique shops. If vintage shopping is your thing, Rye is the place for you. Sooo many good shops and bargains to be had. I nearly bought a big old trunk (because SOMEONE sold her wonderful old one for a ridiculously low price in a garage sale before they moved house and didn't check that said daughter really, really wanted it for herself...) but it was pretty huge and getting it back home, let alone into our hire car, wouldn't have been easy. I did buy a gorgeous copper jug for decorative purposes. Not actually sure what I'm goings to do with it but it looks pretty!

The most wonderful shop! And my
awesome brass jug bottom left
Rye, March 2014

From Rye we went to a very typical, very disappointing English beach for a look. Being a beach snob, I just turned my nose up at it and wasn't very impressed. What's the point of a beach if you can't swim in it and if it's not that pretty to look at?! We went to Dover to see the famous white cliffs and went for a walk along the cliff side where the recent weather had turned the ground to a lovely sticky, slippery grey mud. Don't ask me why I didn't have my trusty Hunter wellies on but instead a pair of ankle boots which I proceeded to ruin beyond repair in the mud. I caused a great deal of amusement to a family who was waiting for us to pass through a particularly muddy patch when I very nearly went into the mud with nothing but a prickly shrub to grab on to. Apart from all that, the white cliffs of Dover were lovely!

We made a stop in the town of Sandwich and were hugely amused to see the first person we came across, eating a sandwich. I thought getting a sandwich magnet would have been excellent but alas, a lost marketing opportunity here. We eventually ended up in Canterbury in a very traditional B&B which was in the very heart of the town in one of the best located places we'd ever stayed. Our host was... interesting... to say the least. She rattled on at us for about 25mins after we'd arrived, telling us it was a terrible time to visit and nothing was open and her front door now sticks because of all the rain and why had we decided to come now because nothing was open and the man who supplies her brochures hadn't left her any pamphlets on Dover Castle but we must go there even though she knew we weren't down for long but we must come back and it's expensive but... You get the idea.

When we eventually did get to go to our room, she showed us where the powerpoints were and how to use the remote. "This is how you change channels, or you can use this button or just do this." Yep, got it, we've used remotes before, thanks!!

We had a great night out in Canterbury, the food was delicious and they had some great pubs to try. Sunday we went for a morning walk around the city walls and the wonderful spring gardens. The first day of spring and the flowers were already out! Goodbye winter, can't say I'll miss you! A lovely weekend, it was so nice to get out of London and into the countryside.

Beautiful Canterbury
March 2014

And then there was Belgium! Our fourth trip to Belgium and our third to Brussels, one might say we'd seen everything there was to see in this less than amazing town. I love Belgium and Brussels gets a bad wrap but the whole reason we went (again) was to go to Delirium, B's favourite pub in the entire world. It was as cool as ever, an amazing place and should definitely go on every beer lovers bucket list. We've certainly lost our edge of late (or 'beer mojo' if you will) and didn't manage to drink anywhere near as much as we used to be able to but new, interesting beers were tried all the same.

Can you tell someone is happy?
Delirium Cafe, Brussels, Belgium
March 2014

Paradise for B
Brussels, Belgium
March 2014

For our full day in Brussels, we decided to go out of the city to a day spa, housed in an old castle. It was so lovely, a gorgeous building and very, very relaxing. And most of the spa was nude. No bathing suits allowed. Starkers. Quite a new experience for me, that's for sure! But I have to say, it was rather liberating and I actually really enjoyed myself. No one stares, it's just totally normal. And yes, it was mixed, so yes, I saw everything. It was only weird once, when a guy was in the pool, totally naked apart from goggles. Why the goggles? That was weird and I got out very soon after!

Beautiful Thermae Boetford
Brussels, Belgium
March 2014

So a nude spa and beer, that pretty much sums up Brussels, now our most frequently visited city outside the UK. Oh, I bought a new magnet! It's a waffle!! Not original cause I know J bought the same one when she was there last but I was jealous of hers so had to buy my own. Love a good food magnet!

Brussels - just pretty!
Brussels, Belgium
March 2014


Before I get into it, let me just say that yes, I try to eat clean. Yes, this means I've cut back on a lot of foods I used to love. Please just accept that I prefer to eat this way and it makes me feel better both inside and out.

These pretty much sum me up
Images from move nourish believe

On most days, I'm 'boring' or 'weird' to people at work with what I eat. But have you ever really looked at what's in our food? Why is there so much stuff in there? Why are so many of the ingredients impossible to pronounce and what on earth are they in there for? I'm no saint, not by a long shot, but I am trying to make better decisions and take care of what I eat because much of what is in packaged food just shouldn't be put into our bodies.

Coconut flour pancakes. See, healthy food can
be healthy AND delicious!
March 2014

I haven't felt this good in a very long time and no, I'm not doing it to lose weight. Clean eating may be the latest trend, but to me it's just choosing better options and listening to how my body reacts to certain foods. Yes, I will eat a burger if I want one. And a wine. Or two.

And so to the fun food part. I know this is more interesting to all of you! In Rye, we had some delicious seafood such as tiger prawns, eggplant and zucchini tempura with a cucumber and chilli dip; and Rye Bay scallops with caramelised apple, black pudding and cider jus. Finally getting some decent seafood was a bonus but it's still nothing compared to Australia.

In Canterbury we went to a great British restaurant called Deeson's. Smoked duck with blue cheese and pear for me; a pork tasting plate with terrine, sausage roll, crackling and pork cheek fritter for B. For main I did the sinful thing and chose chicken. I never, ever, EVER order chicken in a restaurant cause usually it's rubbish, tasteless or I know I could cook it better myself. Chicken with bacon and mushroom sauce, a mini chicken pot pie and roasted chicory was my choice and it was delicious. Incredibly tender (I refuse to use the 'm' word) and amazing flavours. B had the lamb which came with lamb backstrap, a mini pie and a few other lamb-y bits that he claimed were delicious. Dessert seemed unlikely but when I saw the menu, I surprisingly found room in my already overly full stomach. B claimed my choice sounded weird but when it arrived and he tasted it, he loved it just as much as I did. Blood orange mousse with lime and marshmallow meringue, flapjacks and cinder toffee. Just... delicious!

Starters at Deeson's
Canterbury, March 2014

Delicious mains, Deeson's
Canterbury, March 2014

Amazing dessert
Deeson's, Canterbury
March 2014

Other highlights in Canterbury for B were the different brews on offer but for me, I discovered a cafe that made their own almond milk for almond milk lattes. They were closed when we first walked past on Sunday morning but I insisted we try again and an hour later, they were open! Gluten free cakes were also on offer so we sat down for some excellent gluten free carrot cake (that even B agreed was yum and he couldn't tell it was minus the gluten) and my first ever fresh almond milk latte. Mmm!! It was gorgeous! I couldn't drink them every day because I'm used to black coffee now but every so often, they're lovely and I'm even more hooked on almond milk than I was before!

Mmm! Gluten free carrot cake and a
DELICIOUS fresh almond milk latte
Canterbury, March 2014

Belgium didn't really offer up anything spectacular in the food department. I find Belgian food a little bit nothing to write home about. Sure, they have waffles (B ate one almost right after breakfast) frites and mayo (sorry J, we didn't have any, I'm still scarred from our last trip) and Belgian chocolate (meh, I can take it or leave it) but apart from that, nothing all that great. But that's ok cause they do the most amazing beers, all in their own individual glass which makes drinking them so much more fun. My most memorable beer of the weekend was a Cookie Beer. It was quite sweet and tasted like cinnamon. I couldn't actually finish it but it was good to try! I also had a peach beer which was really nice! I don't usually like fruit beers but this one was good.

Interesting beer...
Brussels, Belgium
March 2014

Back at home and into my kitchen, a few adventurous 'different' recipes I've been trying include caulipizzas - pizzas using cauliflower as the main ingredient for the pizza base. Yum! B will eat them and fairly happily but on this occasion, I made a boy pizza (regular, full wheat, proper base) and girl pizza (cauli-base).

Cauliflower pizza base. YUM! It won't ever
replace 'real' pizza but it's delicious all the same
March 2014

Other girl vs boy recipes I've made include white chocolate spiked brownies for B and quinoa crackles for me. Like chocolate crackles but using puffed quinoa, cocoa and other raw ingredients to make a surprisingly delicious, very chocolate crackle tasting sweet treat. Don't knock it till you've tried it! B actually happily eats these and a few fussy work people have also said they're really good so I know they are and I'm not just kidding myself! Trust me, when B or my work people don't like something, they tell me!!

Quinoa crackles - my most popular
clean recipe so far.
March 2014

Full fat, full flour, full sugar
chocolate brownies
March 2014

I love being creative with food and eating clean and trying new recipes is exciting to me. I love discovering that healthy food can be delicious, different and good for you and I have many more foods to try - I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad thing in B's eyes, I'll let you know!


  1. D did you try the mussels from Brussels? They're the best mussels of my life! Sounds like you're still looking after yourself and having a ball. Let the good times roll

  2. No mussels in Brussels this time Rosie - we had them the first time we were there and they were delish! We bought a mussels magnet on our second visit!! Iceland this weekend - yippee!! x