Wednesday, 26 August 2015

GBBO Inspired #3 - Anything But Baguettes!

Ohh bread week...

 I was actually looking forward to bread week this year after my success with a Fig and Goat's Cheese Fougasse last year. But this time around, bread was not on my side (it's probably not surprising seeing as that fougasse was the last time I made bread).

I knew I should have picked the signature bake and made a quick bread, but I wasn't feeling particularly inspired by any flavour combinations. Plus kneading is the bit I like about baking bread, and quick breads shouldn't be kneaded very much at all. Boring. And ok, I might have been feeling a bit more confident this year, but there is absolutely no way I could have done a showstopper! Apart from maybe a snowman - which in hindsight would also have been a better idea.

Anyway, I went for the technical challenge again and decided to attempt baguettes. I love freshly baked baguettes - they make me think of holidays to France and al fresco lunches with a selection of cheeses and salads. Sadly what I ended up with was anything but baguettes. They didn't look like baguettes or taste like baguettes or resemble baguettes in anyway at all.

This was attempt number one. I promise I do actually know what a baguette looks like
I'm not sure of exactly the point these were destined to fail. Perhaps it was when I deemed the mixer incompetent and decided to mix by hand (I have this fear of kitchen appliances exploding in front of me every time they make a sound I've never heard before). Or when first time around I couldn't be bothered to find a plastic box with the right dimensions, so just found an old ice cream box in a cupboard. Or maybe when I completely forgot how cold our kitchen actually is, then tried to resolve this by sticking the dough in the slow oven (not even slightly close to a proving drawer). Or when I tried to fashion a couche out of a tea towel and some baking paper. Or when I forgot how temperamental our oven can be and managed to get a good crust, but a raw inside?

 Are you starting to understand that this was not my finest moment in the kitchen?!
Yeast cruelly teasing me by pretending this would actually work...

The ice cream box I used first time around

I even tried these twice - I wasn't giving up at the first attempt! (Although I have now given up at the second attempt.) At least the second time around I skipped out the makeshift couche so didn't end up reshaping blobs of dough into rolls. But I should have used two baking trays rather than sticking them all too close together. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Oh so promising in the makeshift cloche

Deflated. Like me after all this.

All in all, this week was a bit of fail. But there's always one, isn't there? Hopefully I'll be a bit more on form for desserts next week. Then we can forget all about these baguettes...

(The recipe I used this week was this one from the GBBO website)


Sunday, 23 August 2015

Tour of Ireland Photo Diary - Belfast via the Causeway Coastal Route

We set off from our hotel after breakfast and once again picked up the coastal route which had just been getting better and better. As well as taking in the spectacular scenery, we loosely followed the Game of Thrones location route and made a stop off at Carrick-a-Rede. Admittedly the Game of Thrones locations were rather lost on me, having never watched a single episode, but they look nice all the same and I could see how they would make dramatic settings for filming the series. 

As for Carrick-a-Rede, they do an impressive marketing job selling their rope bridge to an island as one of the scariest bridges in the world. Google it and you'll see what I mean. In reality, unless you've got a phobia of heights, it's all very tame! The bridge does take you across to a small island, and the views from the bridge and island are beautiful, but I'm afraid no adrenaline rush for me over the rope bridge!

We arrived into Belfast in the early evening and walked around a few bits of the city centre before dinner. The next morning was spent at the Titanic Experience, one of the few things we had booked in advance before this trip. The musuem is excellently put together with nine different experiences, ranging from some of the history of Belfast, to the building of the Titanic, to searching the shipwreck. Well worth a visit if you're in town.

Ballintoy Harbour - Pyke, the Iron Island in Game of Thrones
Ballintoy Harbour coastline and building

Game of Thrones location sign at Ballintoy Harbour

Boats in Ballintoy Harbour

Carrick-a-Rede Islands

Rope bridge to island at Carrick-a-Rede

View of sea from Carrick-a-Rede

Rope bridge at Carrick-a-Rede

Fishing boat at Carrick-a-Rede

Carrick-a-Rede cliff

Gulls over sea at Carrick-a-Rede

The Dark Hedges - The Kings Road in Game of Thrones
Ahh this one. Should you go looking for it, don't get mislead by the confusing signs! We arrived at The Dark Hedges Hotel and followed what we thought was the route to find the avenue of trees. We were somewhat underwhelmed by what we found, and so were some other tourists we found. Turns out we were all wandering up and down an ordinary driveway lined with trees and the actual Dark Hedges were a little further up the main road! 

Oak tree lined road
Not the Dark Hedges!

The Dark Hedges in black and white
The real Dark Hedges

View up the road of the dark hedges

black and white oak trees

Belfast and the Titanic Experience building
SS Nomadic ship in dock

The Titanic Experience building Belfast

Entrance to Belfast city hall

Albert Memorial Clock in Belfast

Bigfish fish sculpture

Yachts in Belfast harbour marina

Titanic ship model sculpture

Sign for Titanic Experience cutout letters

Large crane at Harland and Wolff site

Belfast is another place it would have been lovely to spend a little longer and see a bit more of, but after the Titanic Experience we had to continue our journey and headed south, back to the Republic of Ireland and the town of Dundalk. I didn't get any photos after this - after all the travelling I was looking forward to getting home! We stayed a night in a B&B in Dundalk then drove to Dublin to get the ferry home - thanks to a delay we got in about 2.30am...

I hope you've enjoyed this Photo Diary series - has it inspired you to plan a trip to Ireland?



Saturday, 22 August 2015

Tour of Ireland Photo Diary - The Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland. Tour of Ireland Photo Diary on Ginevrella Lifestyle Blog

After our stop for sightseeing and lunch in Derry, we drove onwards to the famous Giant's Causeway.  It was already mid-afternoon by the time we arrived here and seeing as we were staying nearby, we had thought about waiting until the morning to do it. However, we had nothing else to be doing that afternoon so we headed straight into the visitor centre and out to walk along the coast. I decided this location deserved a post all of it's own as it was absolutely stunning and I couldn't narrow down the photos any further!

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland. Tour of Ireland Photo Diary on Ginevrella

The Giant's Causeway, Northern Ireland
Visiting the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

Stones of the Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway, Tour of Ireland

Coastal Path along the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

Stones of the Giant's Causeway, Tour of Ireland

Hexagonal rock formation at the Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway, Tour of Ireland

The Giant's Causeway, Touring Ireland

Black and white rock formation at Giant's Causeway

Sea on the rocks at the Giant's Causeway

The Giant's Causeway, Tour of Ireland photo diary on Ginevrella

The Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland

Coastline by Giant's Causeway

Rocks going out to sea at Giant's Causeway

Rock pool and hexagonal stones at Giant's Causeway

Orange rocks at Giant's Causeway

Coastal walkway beside sea at Giant's Causeway

If you're planning on visiting the Giant's Causeway, and are really keen on getting unspoilt photos of the rock formations, I'd head there early in the morning or later in the evening when the majority of tourists aren't around. But if you just want to visit and climb on the rocks, any time of day will work!

Once we'd finished walking the main part of the rock formation, we followed the footpath through the cliffs back to the visitor centre, checked in to our hotel for the night and then dashed out for dinner - the restaurants in the area get very busy in peak season.

We carried on our travels the next morning, staying near the coast on our drive down to Belfast. Come back tomorrow to see!

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