Thursday, 30 October 2014

A Baking Semi-Disaster: Brownie Cupcakes

I've started to notice a few comments on my baking posts from people saying how good everything looks and how they'd never be able to bake anything like that. While I'm really flattered at how impressed people are with my baking, I'd hate to give you the false impression that I'm a star-baker of any description. Sometimes things go wrong and passing off a total disaster as a deliberate new-invention is more impressive than mastering a true showstopper bake. So what came out of the oven looking rather a sorry messy got turned into these 'cake-cups' that I filled rather than topped with icing and decorations, and this got a definite thumbs up from my friends. I think they lasted about six hours...

I had a free Saturday afternoon, a craving for something chocolaty and some new cupcake cases and a mixing bowl that I'd won via Rooma's Twitter competition. I also tried out the silicon cupcake cases and sprinkles that I received from Lauren in the Student Box Swap and they worked brilliantly. Chocolate cupcakes seemed the way to go, but the idea of trying to make gluten-free cupcakes was a bit daunting and so I thought I'd just take a brownie recipe, tweak it a bit with the hope of it being slightly more cakey and spread a bit of icing on top. It didn't turn out quite how I was expecting, but I still produced something edible at the end and that's enough of a success for me!

I'm not going to share the brownie recipe because a) it just didn't really work for cupcakes and there are plenty of good brownie cupcake recipe out there (Giada of Miel Cafe recently posted a good one), and b) it's my sister's top secret recipe and even my friends aren't allowed to know it apparently!

I made two types of icing though and these I will share because I think they were yummy and I will definitely be using them again!

Coffee & Cocoa Icing
75g icing sugar and 25g cocoa powder in a mixing bowl
50g butter, 50g caster sugar and 2 tablespoons of strong coffee in a saucepan. Melt the mixture until smooth and then bring to the boil before pouring into the icing sugar and cocoa. Stir until smooth  and thick and then spread onto your cupcakes.

White Chocolate Icing
75g icing sugar in a bowl
75ml double cream, 100g white chocolate and 50g caster sugar in saucepan. Melt the mixture and bring to the boil before stirring into the icing sugar.

I also added mini marshmallows, chocolate hearts, sprinkles and some of the crumbled bits of overflowing cake...

So rather than being a proper recipe post, this is more of a 'how to deal with a baking disaster' type post. Hopefully my next bake will go a bit more to plan!

My prizes from Rooma- I especially love the ceramic mixing bowl

 Looking good before going in the oven...

 And then looking a bit collapsed afterwards
I only wish I'd got a photo of them when I opened the oven (which has no light) and was confronted with hugely overflowing cupcakes that promptly sank to look like this 

They definitely don't have the 'too-good-to-eat' look- which I like actually, nothing to stop you digging in straight away!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like my 'Baking Bloopers' post, showcasing some of my less fine baking moments.



Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Blog Milestones and Favourite Blogs

Hello everyone! So today's post is to celebrate the fact that Saturday marked three months since I first started this blog. That's already a quarter of a year and I can't believe that I've actually kept this going consistently for that long. Obviously in the grand scheme of blogging things, three months isn't very long at all, but when I wrote my first post I was honestly expecting to have given up after a couple of weeks and just let the blog melt away into the depths of cyberspace...

I also mentioned in my last post that I reached 100 Bloglovin followers recently- something I really didn't expect to happen quite so soon. Thank you to everyone who comes back to read my posts, whether you follow me on Bloglovin, Google+ or just happen to click on my links on Twitter. It's the thing that keeps me going with this blog, knowing that people out there really do read it and leave lovely comments!

I've been reading two or three blogs for a few years, blogs that I'd just happened to stumble upon, but since getting into blogging I've found so many more and I love spending an hour or two reading through my Bloglovin feed and catching up with what everyone has been doing. It's also great to discover new blogs and I always enjoy reading posts dedicated to blogs or posts that other people have enjoyed and want to share. So, to celebrate three months of blogging and 100 followers, I'm going to share my own favourites here!

I think I came across Mathilde's blog thanks to a Twitter chat and I'm really glad I did. Her blog is a beautiful representation of her life in Lyon with lovely photography and plenty of inspiring recipes. Mathilde writes in both French and English and it's the perfect way for me to keep using my understanding of French! The food posts are what I love best on this blog- everything sounds so fresh and healthy and the blog definitely lives up to its name and inspires me.

Effortlessly Excessive
I've been following Kirsty's blog for a couple of months now and her posts are always interesting. She's currently living in Finland and I love hearing her comparison of daily life in the UK and Finland- it's the little things like where the nearest M&S is! This is one of those blogs that really is varied- recent posts have included things about living in Finland, make up posts and a sesame seed disaster. There never seems to be any pretence with this blog, it's got a really genuine feel of exactly what Kirsty is like and that makes it stand out a lot.

Lisette's blog is beautifully simple and having it appear in my bloglovin feed is instantly calming. Her posts are usually short and sweet and always accompanied by stunning photos. Her recipes are healthy and so inspiring- as well as being achievable! Lisette's blog is an appreciation of all the little things in life and it always makes me see the best in things.

Oh Hey Blog
I found Megan's blog through another blogger's favourites post, and I'm so glad I did. Megan is an Australian girl currently living in France and her blog features some amazing photos of French life and scenery. I'm enjoying reading her stories of her time in Paris and the little snippets that make this much more than just a generic Paris blog. You'll have to go read some posts to see what I mean!

Joelle's blog is like nothing I've ever read before. She's a student in Aberdeen and her posts cover fashion and lifestyle in a wonderfully humorous way. Joelle comes across very genuine and her posts sum up a very realistic picture of student life. I've especially enjoyed her honest version of 'Get Ready With Me', and 'How to Pose Like a Blogger.' Her posts are always varied and a delight to come across in my feed.

I hope you find some new favourites here, or perhaps you're already a fan of some of these ladies? Once again thanks to everyone who's been reading my posts- here's to many more months (and years?!) of blogging to come!


Sunday, 26 October 2014

An autumn afternoon in Bath

On Monday I happened to have the afternoon off and decided it was a great opportunity to take a trip to Bath city centre and have a bit of an explore. I've been to Bath a couple of times with friends and family, but never been able to just wander round on my own until now. It turned out to be a lovely afternoon for wandering, if you don't mind dodging the rain showers!

When the sun did come out, it made the whole place look beautiful and I don't think my photos really do justice to just how golden and autumnal everywhere was. I spent a couple of hours just going round the shops and walking alongside the river. 

I took a very long time in Whittard of Chelsea debating whether or not to buy some fancy hot chocolate- I tried some samples of their mint and caramel flavoured hot chocolates and was very tempted by the Rocky Road flavour. In the end I didn't buy anything, but I haven't forgotten about them and the temptation is still there!

Something I couldn't resist though was a beautiful blue tartan scarf from Joules. I've been looking out for one and this was just perfect. They also have one in red and another shade of blue/green (I think) but I decided that I probably couldn't buy all of them, although the thought did cross my mind.

I also bought a large pink mug from Waitrose, but unfortunately it just doesn't want to be photographed- the lighting in my room in my placement accommodation isn't very good and every picture I tried to take came out blurry. This might be a good time to say that my posts might start to come slightly less frequently now that I'm out on a placement. A lot of this is due to the fact that I'm really busy doing 'learning-to-be-a-doctor' things in the hospital, but more of it is just frustrating little things like a slow wifi connection that will only connect to one device at a time! 

Rather than finish on a complaining note though, I wanted to finish on something happy- the fact I reached 100 Bloglovin followers on Thursday! Thank you to those 100 people, I never expected to have so many followers after such a short amount of time, so that really made me smile.


Thursday, 23 October 2014

A Couple of New Recipe Books

Last time I went home, my lovely mum had a couple of presents waiting for me- at least one of them was supposed to have been saved until Christmas, but she couldn't wait that long! Since moving to university and having to cook for myself the past few years, I've discovered a new appreciation for home cooking and baking. My sister bought me Cake by Rachel Allen a couple of years ago and it's now got a lot of cocoa between the pages... I love finding new recipes online, but there's something special about having a collection of cookery books to flick through for inspiration. My collection is growing slowly but surely, and unlike the online recipes I tend to lose once I've used them, I hope these stay around for a long while to come.

The first one is the The Great British Bake Off Big Book of Baking (that's more of a mouthful than any of their cakes!) by Linda Collister. You've probably noticed I'm a bit of a GBBO fan and I tried out a few of the bakes from this series, so this book is ideal for keeping that going. It features some of the memorable bakes from the show, such as Norman's 'Farthing Biscuits', the eye catching 'Prinsesstarta' and Luis' 'Tropical Manchester Tart'. 

There are 120 recipes included for biscuits, traybakes, breads, cakes, sweet pastry and patisserie, savoury bakes and puddings and desserts. It features contestants' signature bakes and showstoppers, as well as technical challenges. Everything (even the technicals) comes with excellent, easy to follow instructions and incredibly mouthwatering photographs. There are four entire pages at the start that are dedicated to explaining baking terms and techniques- making this perfect for anyone who is new to baking. 

Also included is a page for each of this year's bakers giving a little information about each of them- Norman's was funny enough to warrant reading aloud to my sister immediately. 

The combination of simple classics and impressive technical bakes makes this a perfect all-round baking book. There's no need for weird and wonderful ingredients or equipment- this is all about realistic, achievable home baking. I've yet to actually try any of these recipes out, but I've already marked out a chocolate fudge cake, a gluten-free orange cake and a Battenberg... stick around and you might see some of these appear on here!

The next one is Chocolate at Home by Will Torrent. Chocolate is definitely one of my favourite foods so this was another good choice! The photos alone make this book worth having- flicking through this is even better than scrolling through my chocolate board on Pinterest. I love the part of the start of the book that explains where chocolate comes from, how it's made and how to use it. Now I've got nothing against a block of Dairy Milk, but this book just makes me want to go out and buy lots and lots of really high quality chocolate. Will Torrent was on Sunday Brunch a few weeks ago, demonstrating the proper way to taste chocolate and appreciate its flavours- could chocolate be the new wine?!

My favourite part is probably all the recipes for truffles that sound absolutely incredible- think Earl Grey and orange marmalade, champagne, salted caramel... The trouble is, I don't have any of the moulds that are needed to produce really professional looking truffles. There are recipes for cookies and biscuits, desserts and even drinks and I'm sure that I'll be able to find something in there that I can make, but I think the recipes in this book are much more the kind that require some sort of occasion to make them, rather than to whip them up late at night to fix a chocolate craving. 

If you like chocolate and want some new and clever ideas for ways to use it, this book is great. It's not overly technical, but I think it's a little bit beyond my student lifestyle/ novice cook status! Having said that, I do fancy trying out chocolate mulled wine, gingerbread hot chocolate and perhaps a chocolate, pear and ginger crumble.

So keep an eye on this blog for anything I try from either of these books, and let me know what your favourite cook books are!



Tuesday, 21 October 2014

RECIPE: Honey Roast Vegetables and Rice

Cooler weather and darker evenings call for comforting, seasonal dishes- warm and with delicious winter vegetables. My housemates seem to always been cooking with butternut squash and so I made sure to get one in for myself. If you're cooking for one, a squash can last for ages so you need to have plenty of recipes stocked up to make the most of it! 

If you hadn't already figured it out from previous recipes, I definitely have a sweet tooth- and just because this is dinner, doesn't mean it can't have a bit of added sweetness, right? I am a fan of honey drizzled on vegetables- it makes me think of family roast dinners with honey glazed parsnips (or maple syrup if you're my sister).

This was very much a "let's use up what's in" style dinner- as so many of mine are. This means it's completely adaptable and you can add in anything else you fancy. I don't really eat meat while I'm at university, but I reckon this would probably go well with some chicken or pork if you wanted to. 

To make one serving:

150g butternut squash, diced
1 medium carrot
Handful of cherry tomatoes
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp honey
Pinch of herbes de provence
1 serving rice (63g dry)

Preheat the oven to 180°c. 
Cut the butternut squash into small cubes- you can leave the skin on, but I take it off. Use the sharpest knife you have- butternut squash can be very tough! Chop the carrot into similar sized pieces. Spread the vegetables over a baking tray or roasting tin and drizzle with the olive oil and honey, making sure everything is well coated. Sprinkle the herbs over. Put in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

While they cook, bring a pan of water to the boil. Try and time this so that it just comes to the boil as the 20 minutes is up. Add the rice to the pan and simmer for 10 minutes. I use boil in the bag rice because it's convenient- no measuring it, no draining and no ripped bags spilling rice all over the kitchen! As soon as you've added the rice, add the tomatoes to the vegetables in the oven and continue roasting for 10 minutes.

Take the rice off the heat, remove the vegetables from the oven and plate up!


Sunday, 19 October 2014

"Do you mind if the medical student sits in?"

Do you mind if the medical student sits in? On Ginevrella Lifestyle Blog

There's a chance that you, or someone you know, has been asked this on some occasion when seeing a doctor or nurse. I've never been on the receiving end of this question, but I have been the medical student sat in the corner many times.

I pretty much take medical students for granted now as part of the hospital environment, but I know that many patients aren't expecting us to be there and it can seem  daunting to have yet another person watching and listening to what's going on. I've been very fortunate in that I've only ever been asked to leave by a patient once before and I'm extremely grateful to every patient who lets me sit in on their consultation. 

Despite the majority of people agreeing to medical students sitting in, I know that some people say afterwards that they felt a bit unsure or uncomfortable about having another person in the room and I've even seen this mentioned on a couple of blogs and social media. This, coupled with being back to placement, inspired me to write a post to hopefully explain why medical students sit in on these sessions, what we're actually doing there, and most importantly to help you feel more comfortable if you should ever be in a consultation with a medical student present.

It's your choice - you can say no!

Firstly, I want to make it clear that it is 100% your choice whether to let the student stay in or not. Us and the doctors understand that you may not want to discuss things in front of any extra people and no one will be offended if you say you'd rather we weren't there, promise! Your privacy, dignity and health matters come above all else.

Why do medical students sit in?

Clinics, whether in the hospital or GP surgery, make great learning opportunities for medical students when they're done well. We're training to be doctors and interact with patients, so experience of real patients with real conditions is so much more helpful than lectures and textbooks. I'll remember the symptoms and treatments of conditions much better if I can relate them to a real case I've seen, and so I'm always very grateful for patients who've been part of my experience- there are some people I'll probably associate with particular things for the rest of my career!

Don't be embarrassed

Don't be embarrassed about discussing things in front of us. Firstly, although we may be very inexperienced compared to the doctor, it's still likely we'll have seen or heard what you're talking about before. It doesn't take long to get into the medicalised mindset when dealing with things. Secondly, we're probably more concentrated on remembering everything we know so we can deal with the grilling from the doctor after you've left (if we're lucky. Sometimes they'll ask us questions while you're still there!).

You may learn something from it

Sometimes you might even get to learn with us. If the doctor is nice, they might actually teach me something rather than just test my knowledge and you could pick up something from this too. I remember some bedside teaching with a patient very early on in my course, and the patient in his 80s ended up getting a brief lesson on the workings of his heart- he was fascinated! I love it when patients get involved and start asking questions because it takes the pressure off me for a moment.

What about being examined by a medical student?

You might be asked if you mind being examined by the medical student, and again this is entirely up to you. Just because you let me sit in and listen/ watch doesn't mean you're then obliged to let me practice examining too. However, it is the best way for me to learn what normal and abnormal things look/feel/sound like and so these kind patients make a huge difference to my training. We nearly always get taught the basics of examinations before we do them on patients so we're not going in completely blind. I'm probably more nervous than you are because the doctor is watching my technique and possibly expecting me to say what I've found. Because I know I'm doing this for my own learning and benefit rather than anything that will change your diagnosis/ treatment, I'm especially conscious about not causing any unnecessary pain or exposure.

So that's how it is from my perspective. I've said it a couple of times, but I'll say it again- I am so thankful to all the patients who let me sit in on their consultations. I appreciate that they can be very sensitive, personal times for patients but I benefit hugely from them. The majority of patients I meet say something along the lines of 'Of course you can stay, you have to learn don't you?' and they couldn't be more correct. Textbooks are nowhere near as good as real life and I couldn't get through my medical degree without the help of the patients I meet.



Thursday, 16 October 2014

RECIPE: Roast Vegetable and Goats Cheese Filo Pastry Tarts

Recently I've found myself spending a lot of time in cafes, filling in my break times with cups of hot chocolate and the odd slice of brownie or millionaire's shortbread. It's only the fact that I've been making lunches at home that's stopped me from being enticed by the delicious looking tarts and quiches on offer. I may not have bought one, but they've still inspired me and one Friday evening I decided to try something a little fancier for dinner than jacket potato...

I happened to have some ready rolled filo pastry sitting in the fridge (that's not a regular occurence, I promise!) and so this seemed a good way to use at least a little bit of it up. These tarts are beautifully crispy, with great flavours and a couple of them made a delicious dinner accompanied by a bit of buttery sweet potato mash. I made seven individual tarts, but you could easily adapt the recipe to make one big one, or use a different tin to create little ones that would work well as canapés if you fancied. 

So here you go, this is how you can make these scrumptious tarts for yourself... 
(This recipe is adapted from one on BBC Good food which can be found here.)

To make seven tarts:

2 sheets pre-rolled filo pastry
1/2 a medium courgette
1 small red onion
1/2 a red pepper
50g goats cheese
3 medium eggs
200g crème fraiche
Fresh mint and basil
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp herbes de Provence
Olive oil

.Pre-heat your oven to 180°c (160°c fan). Begin by chopping the vegetables into equal sized small pieces, then scatter on a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Pour about 5ml of olive oil into a small pot (or egg cup in my case). Get out your filo pastry sheets. When working with filo pastry, you need to keep anything you're not using covered to prevent it drying out- I used a clean tea towel. Cut into 28 squares of about 8x8cm. Take one square and brush it generously with olive oil. If you have a pastry brush, you could use one, but I just used my finger and had no trouble. (Apart from then being unable to take photos of the pastry.) Place the oiled square into a hole in the muffin tray. Repeat with the rest of the squares, placing them on top of each other so that you have seven lots of four layers. Push them down into the holes of the tray and press down the centres so they are flat.

Put the vegetables on a low shelf in the oven, and the pastry on the top and bake for 10 minutes. After this time, take out the vegetables and leave the pastry for another five minutes to go crisp and golden brown.

While everything is in the oven, you can prepare the filling. Whisk three eggs with the crème fraiche. Finely chop the fresh herbs and add them, along with the other herbs. Everything I've used is just a suggestion based on what I had in, you can adapt to your own tastes and availablity! I'd also like to use this to tell you how proud I am of myself for not killing my basil plant. Yet.

Place half of the vegetables in the bottom of the pastry cases and then pour in the filling mixture. Top with the remaining vegetables and return to the oven for 25 minutes. Chop the goats cheese into 7 cubes, add one to each tart and put back in the oven for a final 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Let me know if you give these a try!



Tuesday, 14 October 2014

GBBO The Final: Gluten Free Chocolate, Almond and Orange Cake

The Great British Bake Off Final - Chocolate Almond and Orange Cake Recipe

So we reached the end of another series of the Great British Bake Off, and although I was very much Team Richard, I have to say that Nancy was certainly the most impressive in the final- if constructing an edible, moving windmill isn't enough to win then I don't know what is! 

Each week I've tried to bake something that's appeared on the show, but this week I decided to go completely away from their bakes- if you read my Baking Bloopers post you'll know that choux pastry is not my friend at the moment, so the thought of a showstopper crouqembouche was not a pleasant one! Instead I got out my copy of Cake by Rachel Allen and flicked through in search of something gluten free and worthy of the GBBO Final. This is an adaptation of her Chocolate, Almond and Rum cake.

I swapped the rum for orange and this tastes like a cake version of a Terry's Chocolate Orange. It's made with ground almonds rather than flour, plus a bit of creme fraiche to keep it moist, so it's got a much denser consistency than a sponge cake, rather more like a torte. It's incredibly chocolately but using dark chocolate stops it from being too sickly sweet. Rachel Allen describes her version as elegant and sophisticated, and I'm going to agree with her on that!

Seeing as this was GBBO Final night, I decided I might as well go all out when it came to presentation on this cake, and rather than just the chocolate glaze in the original recipe, I decided to add a bit of white chocolate piping and some candied orange slices. Usually I like to think I'm a pretty modest person, but I can't help telling you how proud I am of myself for producing this- and you might as well pull off the best cake of your life on the final week! I don't have a great track record with gluten free cakes- I tend to massively undercook them- but I was patient with this one and didn't panic when it came out the oven with a very clearly undercooked centre. I popped a bit of tinfoil over it and left it for a good hour before icing it.

I tweeted a picture of this cake on the night and fulfilled my life goal of getting a retweet from @BritishBakeOff, which resulted in my phone going non-stop with notifications- I've never felt so special! So for anyone who'd like to give this a try, I'm sharing the recipe here:

Recipe for Chocolate, Almond & Orange Cake

For the cake:
225g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
225g ground almonds
250g golden caster sugar
150g softened butter (plus extra for greasing)
6 eggs
 1 orange
2tbsp crème fraiche

For the glaze and decoration:
75ml double cream
125g dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
50g white chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 orange
50g caster sugar + 2tbsp for sprinkling
125ml water

A 20cm diameter spring-form cake tin

To make the cake:

1. Grease the sides of your cake tin and line the bottom with a circle of baking paper. Prepare the ingredients for the cake, then preheat the oven to 170°c. 

2. Melt the dark chocolate in a pan over a saucepan of simmering water then set aside to cool.

3. Put the almonds, sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl and combine using a wooden spoon until everything is evenly mixed and there are no lumps. (You could use a food processor, but I don't have one).

4. Beat the eggs in a clean bowl, then add to the almond mixture and stir in will. Add the zest from the orange, the crème fraiche and the melted chocolate, then mix everything together. I used a handheld mixer to finish this off- it only needs a few seconds and will become thick and mousse-like.

5. Put the cake mixture into the tin and cook for 35-40 minutes. It will puff up to the top of the tin and the top will start to look cracked. As I said, getting the centre of gluten free cakes to cook fully can be quite tricky so it might take slightly longer depending on your oven.

6. Take the cake out of the oven and cool in the tin for 20 to 30 minutes. If the centre looks a bit runny still, cover with a bit of tin foil and wait an extra 10-15 minutes. Use a sharp knife to loosen it from the edges if necessary, then transfer to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, turn upside down onto a serving plate so that you have a smooth top to glaze.

To make the candied oranges:

Line a baking tray with baking paper. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp of caster sugar. Slice an orange into slices of about 5mm thick and cut them in half. Add the rest of the caster sugar to a large saucepan, then pour in 125ml of water and bring to the boil. Add the orange slices and carrying on boiling for 5 minutes- you may need to turn over the slices during this time. Turn down the heat and simmer for another 20 minutes, turning the slices occasionally. When they start to go see-through but are still soft, take them out and lay them on the sugar baking paper. Let them cool fully, then sprinkle another tablespoon of caster sugar over them.

To make the chocolate glaze:

You can make the chocolate glaze while the cake cooks, but I think it's best to do it just before you ice the cake so you don't have to reheat the mix. Pour the cream into a saucepan, taking it off the heat when it reaches the boil. Add the dark chocolate. You could also add a couple of tablespoonfuls of orange juice from the orange you used the zest from in the cake. Everything should come together to form a stiff, shiny mixture. Melt the white chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Use a knife or spatula to spread an even layer of the chocolate glaze on the top of the cake. Pipe a spiral of white chocolate on top. I used a square of baking paper to make a piping bag. Take a cocktail stick and drag from the centre of the cake outwards to create the pattern. Finally add the orange slices.

It sounds like a lot of steps, but actually this isn't a complicated cake! There's no need to rush any of it- the cake needs time to cool down, and melted chocolate will stay molten for a while, plus you can always reheat it. Let me know if you attempt this cake, I'd love to know what you think of the flavour!


Slice of homemade chocolate, almond and orange cake. Recipe on Ginevrella

Ingredients for homemade chocolate, almond and orange cake

Melted chocolate for homemade chocolate, almond and orange cake recipe

Chocolate, almond and orange cake recipe

Homemade chocolate, orange and almond cake

Baking chocolate, almond and orange cake

Cake mix for homemade chocolate, almond and orange cake recipe

Candied oranges for homemade chocolate, almond and orange cake recipe

Chocolate, almond and orange cake homemade

Chocolate, almond and orange cake recipe

Recipe for homemade gluten free chocolate, almond and orange cake for Great British Bake Off Final


Monday, 13 October 2014

A Weekend at Home

After five long and busy weeks being back at university, a short break at home was exactly what I needed this weekend. I hadn't actually planned on going home just yet, but on Tuesday morning, I woke up to a text from my mum asking if I'd like to go with her to see Pharrell Williams at the O2. I wouldn't really call myself a huge fan, but its always nice to do something different on a weekend and so I promptly booked some train tickets home and looked forward to a couple of days of home comforts.

It helped that I had Friday afternoon off and by 4pm I was at the tube station being greeted by a very excited Jack Russell- dogs definitely give the best welcomes. I got home and had just long enough to take my coat off before Saffy presented me with a tennis ball, tail wagging and ready to play.

Mum and I made our way to the O2 for the show and I have to say I actually really enjoyed the show. Pharell isn't someone I would ever have chosen to see if mum hadn't happened to be offered the tickets, but I knew a lot more of the songs than I thought I would and he put on a great performance. I definitely can't compare myself though to lady next to me who was determined to get his attention, yelling about how much she loved him!

Saturday morning was lovely and relaxed, reading through some new cookbooks mum bought me (I'll share those soon!) before then heading to Oxford Street for the afternoon. Somehow I managed to come away without having bought anything- although I'm on the look out for a nice tartan scarf before my sister gets one! In the evening I went for dinner with my parents to a tiny Italian restaurant and for the first time in ages managed an entire dinner without either of them telling the staff I speak Italian. Does anyone else's family do this? I haven't spoken Italian since my GCSEs five years ago, and when I'm dining out I don't really want grammar lessons from well meaning waiters! We came home and watched X Factor which I haven't been following at all, but listening to Saffy 'sing' along to the Italian guy was amusing- although she could have been whimpering and barking to tell him to shut up for all we know!

Since moving away to university, I definitely notice the little things about home now, and being able to sit on the sofa and watch Sunday Brunch on an actual television is one of those things! If I watch it in my flat in Bristol, it's normally on my laptop while I'm ironing. We do actually have a television here, but depsite moving in in July, we've still not set it up. Nearly as bad as that time in second year when we watched black and white TV for three weeks before moving a single plug to get it in colour... I also came home to discover a huge tub of Cadbury's hot chocolate, but the drinking chocolate for hot milk version rather than the instant one with boiling water. This drink reminds me of when I was much younger and I forgot how good it is! I also took Saffy out for a walk and it certainly felt very autumnal- probably the next time I walk her I'll be needing gloves and good boots for walking on frosty, muddy ground.

I also had the chance to see my Grandad for a few hours this weekend as he's come to stay for the week. We took him to a Chinese supermarket, the kind of place where you can buy huge bags of rice, boxes of fortune cookies, all kinds of Chinese spices and live eels and crabs. I bought some of the tapioca pearls that are used in bubble tea, but haven't figured out what to do with them yet- saving that for next time I'm home.

Sunday evening came round really quick, and it was time to get the train back to Bristol. I finally managed to get downloads working on my iPad and so I was happy enough watching Strictly Come Dancing and Gogglebox on the journey back- although  it did mean I couldn't dance along or burst out laughing in the middle of the quiet carriage!

She's discovered this is a very effective way of making sure I pay attention to her!

What did you get up to this weekend?

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