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?

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Comment: Visit to Argos, I mean the Embassy

I headed to London last Wednesday for my Visa appointment which was at 8am the following day. Luckily I have a nice friend (Josh) who let me stay the night so I didn’t have to pay for a hotel because London hotel prices are ridiculous!

Whilst on the train a man came and sat opposite me, I glanced up from my book in curiosity. On deciding he was not as interesting as my book I returned to reading. He was chatting on the phone for a while and I thought nothing of him. I then heard him say goodbye and out the corner of my eye I saw him retrieve a black notebook from his bag. He opened his black book and began drawing. I only assumed he was drawing because he kept turning the book from side to side whilst putting pencil to paper. Looking down at my kindle I sensed someone was watching me, I quickly glanced up and was shocked to find the man quickly glance back to his notepad. After this happened several times I began to think that he may be drawing me. My suspicions were confirmed when I noticed that there was a drawing of another girl on the facing page.

I did not really know what to do so I a sheepishly sat there knowing a strange man was drawing me, in his little BLACK book. The fact that the book was black is what freaked my out. I then thought that this is ridiculous so I decided to get my own back by taking a picture of him. You know…just incase he is a serial killer. I now have evidence.

1368631483152After an eventful/slightly bizarre journey, I finally arrived at Paddington Station where I caught the tube to Brixton to meet Josh.

That evening Josh decided he wanted to bake some cakes. I agreed to help and suggested we make those lemon meringue cupcakes I blogged about the other day. He was torn between his love for lemon and his desire to bake chocolate chip cupcakes with mint chocolate chip frosting. Undecided, we ended up baking both. When I say we, I actually mean Josh and I sat and watched whilst one of Josh’s close friends did all the work. I did help by licking the mixture out of the bowl and Josh did dictate from the sidelines. I guess you could say it was a group effort after all.

The recipe for the chocolate chip cup cakes with mint chocolate chip frosting can be found on Sally’s Baking Addiction blog.Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 15.21.33

I have to say that both cakes were delicious and I will definitely recommend them to anyone.

After the hectic baking session, feeling as though I had over indulged on my share of cakes, I headed to bed to ensure I had a good nights sleep ready for my early morning start.

On the day of my visa appointment I begrudgingly rolled out of bed, at 6.30am, to get dressed. As I left Josh’s flat the sun greeted me and by the time I made it to Brixton station I was wide awake and ready to delve deep into the underground to catch the tube to Green Park.

Once at Green Park I quickly typed in my destination onto google maps and followed the trail by foot. Realising I only had 10 minutes until my appointment, I began to run the last leg of my journey until I spotted the American flag flying high above the building.

The Camp America team were very helpful, checking my paper work with a smile despite the early hour. Everything seemed to be in order so I was able to join the que outside the security entrance. Two men stood nearby with guns – scary.

As expected, I was ushered along the conveyer belt of people, passed security and into the building itself.

Inside, I was instructed to take a seat and wait for my number. It really was like being at Argos, I sat, I waited for my number and then I approached the desk. The only difference was not retrieving a household object at the end and I also wasn’t allowed to occupy myself on my phone whilst I waited.

I find it a little odd that you aren’t allowed to take your phones into the Embassy building. In this day and age, a mobile phone is attached to practically every person. If it wasn’t for my smartphone, I wouldn’t have been able to find my way to the Embassy as easily. Thankfully Camp America were there to look after my electrical items but I am sure it is a huge inconvenience for everyone else.

Whilst at the desk I had all my finger prints taken and for some reason I was disappointed to find out that they didn’t use ink and paper. I now cannot imagine why I even thought they would use ink and paper, but I was disappointed no the less because I really wanted to see what my finger prints looked like.

After that I moved along the conveyer and waited in line to be interviewed. It was fairly simple and I was done within the hour which left me with four hours to spare before my train left London.

Reunited with my trusty phone, I google mapped the location of Oxford Street and was happily surprised that it was only a short walk away.

Heading down the street I realised that none of the shops were open yet so I decided to grab some breakfast and my morning cup of tea. This was far easier said than done because I ended up walking the length of Oxford Street before I spotted a Costa. Bewildered and desperately in need of that tea, I headed for the counter and ordered a chocolate swirl to accompany it.

I found a table in the corner and happily sat with my tea and swirl, checking all social media whilst I ate.

After an hour had passed, I presumed the shops would have opened their doors to customers, so I left Costa and headed for Topshop which just so happened to be right across the street. With America in mind I ended up buying a few things.Screen Shot 2013-05-19 at 15.42.20

I thought the yellow dress would go perfectly with the blue jumper and I have wanted a large gold neckless for a while. I then went into other shops but didn’t buy anything else until I came to Pull and Bear. Here I bought the denim shirt which was surprisingly only £19.99, a whole £14.00 cheaper than the one I tried on in Topshop… bargain!

Basic Denim Shifrt – Pull and Bear £19.99

Daisy Circle Chain Neckless – Topshop £10

Ditsy Floral Flippy Dress – Topshop £18

Curve Hem Sweat – Topshop £18

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With a slightly lighter purse and great train snacks in hand, I headed back to Paddington Station to catch my 13.15 trainback to Bristol.

Recipe: Cupcakes fix everything…

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I class today as a day from hell. I won’t go into the details but to give you a hint of how bad it was, here are the top three worst things that happened: three nose bleeds, a waste of petrol and an essay.

As I rushed to find a toilet, clutching my bleeding nose, on a campus I had only been to a few times, I am so glad I had a free hand to grab the lemon meringue cupcake I bought at the SU Cafe. It wasn’t until after the shock and humiliation had worn off from my nose bleed disaster, having returned home, that I realised how lucky I was to have saved the cupcake from its dustbin fate. The cupcake in question wasn’t just any cupcake, it happened to have powers to wipe away the misery that I had accumulated throughout the day. With every bite my worries and depression slowly slipped away.

I share the powers of the cake on my blog because I think everyone should go away, hunt down/bake your own lemon meringue cupcakey, goodness and allow the wonderful taste to brighten your day.

I found a recipe for these cake treats on the BBC website:

Lemon meringue cupcakes

Ingredients

For the cupcakes
For the meringue

Preparation method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.
  2. For the cupcake, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds together in a large mixing bowl until pale, fluffy and well combined.
  3. Crack in the eggs, one at a time, and beat until both are fully incorporated into the mixture.
  4. Fold in the flour and lemon zest until well combined.
  5. Place 12 paper or foil cupcake cases into the wells of a muffin tray, then spoon in the cupcake batter. Add a teaspoonful of lemon curd to the top of each cupcakes.
  6. Bake the cupcakes in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they are pale golden-brown and spring back when pressed lightly in the centre.
  7. Meanwhile, for the meringue, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form when the whisk is removed. Gradually add the sugar, whisking continuously, until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed and the mixture is thick and glossy.
  8. When the cakes are cooked, turn off the oven and preheat the grill to its highest setting.
  9. Spoon the meringue over the cupcakes and tease it into spikes using a fork. Place the cupcakes under the hot grill for 2-3 minutes, or until the meringue is golden-brown.

 

Hope you all enjoy!

 

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 🙂