Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Turkish Delight

Tonight I'm combating the horrible weather outside by playing some old Justin Timberlake and looking through some holiday snaps taken last week when Tom and I headed for a break in Kalkan, Turkey. We're not usually ones for 'relaxing' holidays spent lounging by the pool but I have to admit it was brilliant to escape our daily schedules and spend a week in the sunshine doing not much more more than reading, swimming and eating nice food! Tom's dad recently bought a flat there with an amazing view of the sea below, we felt very lucky indeed to have chance to stay there. It all seems quite far away now however... time to start snuggling up on the sofa with a good film and a hot chocolate I think!

Some memories of Turkey...

- Spotting little fishes swimming near my feet in the clear blue sea
- Stray dogs sleeping on the pavements
- Spotting pomegranate, lime and olive trees
- Beautiful pink bougainvillea trees 
- Watching lightning light up the clouds across the mountains
- Breakfasts of fresh yogurt, melon, pomegranate and honey
- The sound of the call to prayer from the Mosque in the distance
- Delicious hot Turkish tea, sheltering from a sudden rainstorm

Sunday, 5 October 2014

24 Hours in Nottingham

Yesterday I welcomed Leicester-based bloggers Janet, B & E for a wander around Nottingham. It was the perfect chance to visit some new places that have recently opened up here, including an amazing sweetshop and a Berlin-themed bar complete with photobooth. If you find yourself in Nottingham for a day here are a few places that are not to be missed.

First up is a trip to the wonderful Hopkinson, an antiques & arts centre handily located opposite Nottingham train station. Hopkinson is a real treasure trove of vintage goodies spread across 4 floors. As well as antiques the ground floor is home to a cafe while the basement is full of furniture (including some rather nice old theatre chairs), toys, buttons, letterpress blocks, scrabble tiles and other bits and bobs. Upstairs you'll find sewing goodies and vintage material, beautiful '50s frocks, cameras, jars and other quirky finds. And finally on the top floor there is a gallery space, where you can buy art supplies and zines.

Next up was a trip to Nottingham's newest sweet-shop The Treat Kitchen. Even if you're not the biggest sweet fan it's hard not to swoon over that window display. I picked up a pouch of crunchy rhubarb-crumble sweets, yum!

Nottingham is home to a wealth of cosy cafes and tea shops, but if it's cake you're after the new Edin's Patisserie in Hockley has a great selection. I opted for a brownie this time but on my last visit went for a huge hunk of the chocolate & apricot cake which was pretty impressive.

If you wander around Hockley you'll find a range of independent shops and charity shops including White Rose, Oxfam and Sue Ryder. There's also Wild Clothing and Cow if you're looking for vintage clothing. Lee Rosy's tea shop on Broad Street is good for a brew as is the Jam Cafe nearby.

By now we were in need of a bit of refreshment so headed to Das Kino, a new bar that's popped up opposite Yo Sushi in the Lace Market. As you can tell from its name, the bar is themed around a German cinema and houses an old photobooth in the entrance (although the prints are digital), and ping pong tables in the back. It can get pretty busy in there though so get there early if you want a table. To end the day we all crammed into the booth for a photo - although were caught unawares in the first shot, oops!

It was a lovely day in Nottingham which went by in a flash. Our only regret was missing out on the metre-long pizza at Das Kino which looked amazing... it's definitely on the list for next time!

See also: Top 5 quirky Nottingham pubs, Nottingham's top 5 curry houses.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Film Friday: Pride

Pride is a new British comedy set around the time of the Miners Strikes in 1984, when a group of gay activists decided to support them and formed a new group called LGSM - Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners.

I agree with Sarah that the film took a little while to get going, but there were lots of emotional moments, some sad and some funny - including a bizarre part when Dominic West gets up on the tabletops in the Welsh community centre and dances to a disco tune.. (quite amusing if you remember him from The Wire!) The end of the film was very moving and I hadn't realised that a lot of the characters were based on real people so it was interesting to hear what happened to them.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A trip to Barter Books

This is a bit of a 'retro-post' as I visited Barter Books back in June but forgot to post about it! Located in Alnwick in Northumberland, Barter Books is one of the best bookshops I've visited.

The bookshop is located inside an old railway station and houses hundreds of books as well as a little cafe, and best of all a miniature railway runs round a track above the shelves!

It's also the place which kick-started the (slightly too ubiquitous!) Keep Calm and Carry On phrase into popularity. An old poster from WWII containing the slogan was discovered in a dusty box of books and put on display in the shop. Its design was so popular that customers started asking for a copy. You can hear the story of the poster and the shop in this video. If you're ever in the area I'd recommend a trip to Barter Books, I just wish I could have stayed there longer!


(PS This year has been a good one for bookshops - I visited Hay-on-Wye aka the town of books in May!)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Recipe: Pea, Mint & Courgette Risotto

I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with risotto. Mushroom risotto is often a staple vegetarian dish at unimaginative pubs. And a few years ago when I attempted my own I remember a particularly long session of stirring a risotto that just NEVER seemed to cook (I was quite hungry at the time!), after which I swore I'd never make one again. But after tasting a rather delicious pea & mint risotto at The Larder in Hockley a few weeks ago I thought I'd give it a go myself. (It's easy to vegan-ese this recipe by leaving out the cream/cheese and you can mix up the ingredients if you so wish!)

Ingredients (serves 2)
200g arborio risotto rice
800ml veg stock
1 red onion, chopped
1 small courgette, chopped
Half a lemon, use juice and zest
50g frozen peas
A handful of fresh mint, chopped
Splash of dry white wine (optional)
2-3 tbsp double cream
Cheddar cheese, grated
Olive oil

1. Get your cooking playlist ready. (Mine involved Crazy Sexy Cool by TLC...)
2. Fry the onion in olive oil in a large saucepan for a few minutes then add the courgette and fry until softened.
3. Stir the rice into the onion and fry for 1 min
4. Add a ladle of veg stock, stir in until absorbed and keep adding by the ladleful for 20-30 mins, until all the stock is absorbed and the rice is creamy (aka the boring bit).
5. Add the double cream, and stir in along with a generous splash of wine. Stir in some grated cheese.
6. Add the lemon juice and stir in the fresh mint and frozen peas. Stir for a few minutes until the peas have cooked.
7. Season to taste, you're all done!
8. Enjoy with some crusty bread.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Film Friday: Guardians of the Galaxy

I'm not normally a big fan of action/sci fi films so have avoided most of the recent Marvel adaptations, but on a VERY rainy Bank Holiday Monday at the seaside a few weeks ago a trip to the cinema started to really appeal! So we headed to Cromer Movieplex (I do love discovering little cinemas in seaside towns) to watch Guardians of the Galaxy.

Did it live up to the hype? Well.. it was pretty fun! Chris Pratt was great (hard to believe it was the same chap from Parks & Rec!) and I did enjoy his 80s mixtape. A slight gripe of mine was that I found the main female character a bit boring... but it was hard not to enjoy GOTG (and the end sequence got a lot a massive 'awww' from our packed out screen room). Have you seen GOTG? What did you make of it?

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

The Great September Save-athon

After sharing my news yesterday about house buying, it's become clear that Tom and I really need to knuckle down and save money whenever we can. It seems we are not alone, as Janet also announced yesterday she is embarking on an autumn spending ban.

I will be keeping track of how much I manage to save this month, and have thought of the following ideas to help us pinch pennies...

1. We'll be making every Monday into a 'no electricity night.' I wrote about this previously here, and it basically involved turning off electrical devices, TVs, laptops and lights and lighting candles to spend an evening as they did back in the pre-electric age! This Monday involved us attempting a new card game (unsuccessfully as it happened, the rules were a little complex!) and me learning a new song on the guitar which I've not touched for months. I also broke the rules slightly by baking some cookies using our electric fan oven. Shh, don't tell anyone..

2. I aim to take a packed lunch to work every day this month. This may prove tricky as I often rely a bit too heavily on cheese sandwiches and get bored, but it should force me to be more inventive with my lunches! Wraps, pasta and heating up leftover curries etc will help.

3. Declining all invitations
 to the pub/lunches - and having friends over to ours instead  (with two possible exceptions that were planned last month!) I posted up some ideas on cheap nights in here.

4. A ban on buying clothes, books, newspapers and other unnecessary items for the month

5. Cooking more food in batches that can be reheated throughout the week

Do you have any other money saving tips you'd like to share? Or any frugal recipes?