NaBloPoMo: Decaf tea

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Every morning I wake up and enjoy a cup of decaf tea. (It has to be decaf because I suffer from migraines.)

That morning cuppa sets me up for the day ahead. Whilst I drink it in bed I am able to mentally prepare myself for whatever it is the new day will bring.

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I also love to go to Marks and Spencer’s cafe with my mum. They do lovely decaf tea there and the cakes aren’t bad either.

We used to make regular visits to M&S when my Gran was alive because she used to love the lattes.

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Another great place I like to visit it Angels tea rooms. This is more for the cream teas than the tea though. But you cannot have a scone without a cuppa to wash it down.

Drinking tea and eating cake in lovely cafés makes me happy.

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Comment: The Great British Bake Off

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Last night, an average of 8.4 million fans tuned into The Great British Bake Off to see who be crowned the baking champion this year.

The three finalists couldn’t have been more different from each other if they had tried, the only similarities they all possessed was a love for baking.

We had Ruby Tandoh who was battling it out for us youngsters, Kimberly Wilson who had always previously made or seen someone make pretty much every technical challenge and Frances Quinn who had a different theme to go along with each of her bakes.

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I was routing for Ruby, despite her annoying facial expressions and lack of confidence. I wanted her to win because she was the youngest contestant and I certainly felt as though I would be letting the twenty somethings down, if I strayed away and backed any of the others. I liked how unprepared and scatty she was and the fact she made it to the final whilst also being able to study and complete exams at university. I also sort of liked her whimsical ways, flowery clothing and her curly hair. I do not think she will be forgotten in a flash, especially with the male fans that are out there.

Last night we saw them compete with savoury picnic pies, pretzels and wedding cakes.

After the first signature challenge had been completed, I thought Ruby was definitely in with a shot at winning, with her perfect layers of vegetables and that all important crispy bottom.

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Frances had made a lovely picnic pie but Pauly Hollywood wished it had been in the oven for another ten minutes.

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Kimberly was very disappointed with her soggy base but luckily clawed her way up by coming first in the technical challenge of making a pretzel. Of course she had made something similar to a pretzel before so she had the upper hand.

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I was quite surprised that the Judges had chosen Paul Hollywood’s pretzel recipe as the final technical challenge, simply because they are an unusual food to eat. They just remind me of my trip to New York as pretzel vans were dotted around the city. Not everyone could master the fine art of double twisting the dough to create that perfect shaped pretzel.

Next on the agenda for the finalists was the mammoth task of designing and baking a three tiered wedding cake. Frances was in her element, creating a beautiful cake decorated with mango and beetroot ‘confetti’, that had all been hand chopped and roasted before being thrown (in a delicate manner) on to the cake.

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Kimberly’s ingredients sounded delicious in her ‘language of love’ cake but the decoration is what let her down, according to harsh judges Paul and Mary Berry.

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Unfortunately for Ruby, decoration is not one of her strong points and it really did let her down, as the close up shots of her finished cake looked a little messy. As she walked away in tears having been told by Paul that her sponge was dry, we all new she would not be crowned the winner.

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In the end, as the contestants huddled together awaiting to hear the results, it was Frances Quinn that was crowned winner of 2013 Bake Off. As sad as it was that Ruby did not win, I reckon Frances did deserve the winning title simply due to how much effort she must have put in every week to be able to produce such imaginative bakes.

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This year Paul has again taken the role of The Great British Bake Off’s Simon Cowel and Mary Berry has been as delightful as ever. I think she epitomises a grandma and I am sure her grandchildren are on the plump size due to all the lovely cakes they must eat.

Throughout the series I have enjoyed the banter that presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins have provided. I always looked forward to the way they scream out the word ‘BAKE’ before the camera cuts to the contestants scurrying around.

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The way it is filmed and the setting they bake in all adds a great sense of Britishness to the programme. I think this is one of the reasons I love it so much. It is the little touches such as the thick wooden table that the judges and presenters sit around whilst they scrutinise the baking. The pale pink, blue and yellow mixers that look very professional and enviable by any keen baker. The white marquee that screams British summer due to our unpredictable weather conditions. I remember during one episode it rained throughout the whole programme. I also can’t forget the odd British flags that line the tent, I think this is the one of the only programmes that features our flag.

One of my favourite contestants this year has been Howard, purely for the way he speaks.

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All in all, I am not surprised millions of people tuned into find out who the winner of this years Bake Off was. I certainly didn’t predict it, but well done Frances!

Comment: Boat trip along the river Avon, cake and friends…

Today I visited Bath, a city well known for its architecture, food and scenery. I have to admit that I was a typical tourist today, taking lots of pictures of everything in sight, even my own food.

As soon as my friends and I arrived in Bath we headed straight for a tearoom that had been recommended to us; Bea’s Vintage tearooms. Inside we found ourself transported back to the 1950s thanks to the decor and general ambience. Here they served an abundance of cakes, tea and homemade pies but unfortunately we only had something small, as it was a little to early for lunch.

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The Victoria sponge cake that I chose to eat was lovely and moist, I could have probably eaten the whole cake, not just a slice.

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I was slightly disappointed that they did not supply decaf tea, as I am not allowed to drink caffeine and I would have liked a cuppa to accompany my cake.

The food that was coming out of the kitchen to be served to other tables looked very edible and I would therefore go back again to try one of their pies.

After filling up on cake we decided to take a wonder around Bath itself. This was my 3rd visit to Bath and I think I fall in love with the place a little more each time I go. I just think the limestone buildings add a certain charm and class to the city that I have never found in any other part of the country.

I think the city has a lot to offer and because of this it has become a very popular tourist destination bringing in approximately 3.8 million day visitors a year. Bath has five theatres which put on a wide array of performances all year round.

There are various festivals that also take place each year, these include the Bath Fridge Festival, Bath Film Festival, Bath Literature Festival, the Bath Beer Festival and the Bath International Music Festival.

Bath is also home to two universities, underground bars and a variety of restaurants and cafes. Along with all its museums, shops and picturesque landscapes, I cannot imagine why anyone would not want to live there (Jane Austin must have been mad).

On a sunny day I would very much like to return to Bath and spend the day sitting on a rug, reading my book and watching the world go by on the Royal Crescent green. Today we did pass the famous Circus which is a great example of Georgian architecture and if I won the lottery I would put my name down for one of those townhouses.

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After a little retail therapy, we decided we had better find another cafe to have some lunch. On a previous visit we ate some lovely baguettes in a cafe called Hands of Bath, Georgian Tearooms. We decided to return and my friends enjoyed a ploughmans and a brie and cranberry baguette. I had ham, egg and chips and was very pleased to discover that the ham was thick and the eggs weren’t crispy. You can tell a lot about a place by the way they cook their eggs!

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After stuffing our faces yet again, we decided to go for a wonder to walk it off. We headed for the river and walked all the way along it, finding a maze on the way.

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Once we reached the end, we saw people getting off a boat. My friend got very excited and begged us to join her on the hour long boat ride that would cost us £6 with our student discounts. Begrudgingly I climbed aboard the St William Pultney and gave the man my £6. As we chugged along the river I did actually start to enjoy it and when the sun came out I applauded my friend for making us hop aboard.

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The boat ride allowed me to see another side of Bath and it made me fall deeper in love with the place. If you are ever in Bath, I highly recommend the boat trip because the scenes are beautiful and the captain and his tour guide are friendly. The captain even pointed me in the direction of all the Bath rugby players after we happened to see one rowing his lady friend along the river – how romantic.

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The whole day was topped of by us singing at the top of our voices to Emeli Sande in the car journey home. A very pleasant day involving food, shopping and a boat trip…what more could you ask for?

Comment: Tea, cake and Clifton

Yesterday my mum came to visit me in Bristol and I decided to take her to one of my favourite places; Clifton. I enjoy wondering around Clifton village because the people have smiles on their faces and the shops are full of dainty objects that tempt and tease me as I window shop.

Unfortunately the weather was rather miserable so I don’t think my mum was able to gain a true sense of what the village has to offer. Luckily Clifton has an amazing cafe cum restaurant called Primrose Cafe, that we could hide from the rain in for a few hours. If you are ever in the area I highly recommend you visit this place. I assure you will not be able to resist one of their homemade cakes to accompany your cup of tea or coffee.IMG_7294 copy

I should probably mention that cups of tea and slices of cake will be a regular feature on this blog because they are two things (amongst others) that I simply couldn’t live without.20130509_150110 copy

What I enjoy about my visits to Primrose, apart from the delicious food, is the quaint decor that makes you feel at home. I previously visited the cafe in December when they had mini Christmas trees and baubles dotted around the place. This time, seeing as Christmas had been and gone, they filled the empty spots where the trees had stood with an ornate picture frame and fairy lights. Large chalk boards inform you of the daily specials and the small service counter is manned by friendly staff who are skilled at making heart shapes out of milk and coffee.

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On this visit I sat upstairs in the corner next to a vintage lamp. I felt hidden away from the 21st century world, free to gossip with my mum about the latest Devonian news. When our food arrived I envied my mums chicken and noodle soup as it looked more like a stew. 20130509_150820

When we felt brave enough to face to rain and wind I decided to show my mum some of the special shops that line the streets. I new it was a bad idea actually entering the shops because I ended up buying a bag when I really should be saving for my travels. I suppose, if the rain had not of forced us to take shelter, I would have been able to defy my urges to spend money.20130509_153832

In my defence, I had been looking for a new bag that I could take traveling with me because my current tote does not have a zip and I consider it rather large to carry round a country. The bag I chose was from About Face a shop that features many different styles of bags in all sorts of colours.20130510_181949 copy20130510_190815

About Face also sells jewellery, accessories, mugs, tableware, wall art, clocks and candles, as well as a variety of other things that all have that vintage look. I always like to go in these types of shops and point out various different objects that I think I will buy when I have my own house. I guess this method is the next best thing to actually buying it all. I hope that after you have finished your tea and cake in Primrose cafe you will take a look in this shop, provided you don’t mind parting with some of your money.

I ended the day with a bedtime film…Peter Pan 🙂