What to pack in your hand luggage…

The great debate – what do you really need on a plane. If I am going just to Europe I have everything, my clothes, my camera, books etc but this is because they tend to be city breaks so I don’t check anything in. But I am talking long-haul flights where you have your clothes and sun cream all packed away in your check-in luggage.

Essentials –

Backpack – obviously to hold the items in, and I find it easier if there isn’t enough space over head or worse you can’t get out of your seat, you can fit it under the seat in front.

Passport – can’t really go anywhere with out this now can you!

Purse – you will need those cards and cash for the airport shopping, whether it’s food or those duty-free treats.

In-flight Entertainment –

Kindle – I always have my kindle with me, I don’t always use it but it’s great as it’s so light and gives me so many more options than just one heavy book!

Noise Cancelling Earphones – these are the best investment you will ever make!! Just trust me they drown it all out – engine noise, children, your other half whittling on at you…

Tablet – whether it’s an iPad or Samsung or something else, they are great. You can download your own programs so you aren’t stuck with the airlines choice. You can use it as a note book, I write blogs sometimes and other times use it for last minute research notes on the place we are going.

Phone and CHARGER – let be honest you wouldn’t leave without the phone. But it’s more the charger not to forget. A lot of airlines now have a place you can pop your phone in so you are full of juice for when you land.

Little Extras –

Sunglasses – saves you having to look for these in your case when it’s glorious sunshine when you land.

Camera – same logic as the sunnies plus you shouldn’t leave your valuables in your check-in bags.

Moisturiser – whether its face or hands it nice to refresh your self and stops your skin felling so tight. Plus it smells nice which will make you feel better after that 10 hour flight.

Toothbrush and Toothpaste – because no one likes fury teeth!

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So there you go my little essentials that I try to remember to take on all long-haul flights!

What times do you take? Is there one thing you can’t live without?

Cape Town – My Top Things To Do 

At the beginning of April I was lucky enough to go to Cape Town! We were there for five days and everyday was JAM BACKED! It was hard to pick a few top things but here they are…

Table Mountain 

There are lots of different routes for you to choose from, depending on how long you wish to take and your fitness pick accordingly . We took the Platteklip Gorge route, right around the corner from the cable cars. It’s hard work, but the views you get make it worth it. In total it took us about 2 hrs. We range in fitness but I would say we are all average or above. We never rushed and did take loads of water breaks! That’s one thing you need to make sure you have lots of- WATER. This hike is said to be the one that gets the most sunshine! Try to avoid doing it in the midday sun (something we failed at!). Take your time up at the top, the views are incredible. There is a place you can get more water, food and ice cream. Plus all the other facilities you need after a long walk. There is also a gondola you can take up and down. We had planned to take it down but some one had set four fires along the mountain so it was closed. For some crazy reason we decided rather than waiting we would walk back down. Something my legs regretted for the next four days! Try to pick your timings when you go up – you’ll want a clear day though this can sometimes be unpredictable. If you are in Cape Town for a few days try to stay flexible  so you can pick the best time to climb up.

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Boulders Beach 

Penguins, penguins and MORE penguins! What is not to love. It costs R65 to get in, but this can be used at any of the 3 entrances so you get to see as many penguins as you want. The first gate we went through went onto the beach. Here you can actually, paddle/swim with the penguins. But remember these are wild animals. They will bite and they do get stressed. Try to keep a safe distance and NEVER cut off a penguin from his buddy. It’s not fair on them, they are only little! Also, whatever you take with you make sure you take away, think plastic bags/bottles and wrappers. It’s hard when you get excited to remember these things but it’s better for everyone if you do. The second entrance we went into takes you along the boardwalk. It takes you right up to the beach where (during April) you can see the baby penguins as well as ones sitting on their eggs. It’s an amazing site! You’ll see nature at it’s best. I loved just watching them all. I could have stayed for hours but the entrances close at 5pm during April and varies throughout the year so make sure you get your timings right.

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V&A Waterfront 

So we actually ended up here for the day as our tour for Robben Island was cancelled due to poor visibility . Apparently this is quiet common. Something you should remember when you book your tickets. We were all gutted that we couldn’t go but it means we will be back! But as we couldn’t make it we did Jerry 1, which is only small but still moving. This is actually the original site where people were taken before they were taken to Robben Island. It’s full of letters and people’s requests to see loved ones on the island. Really powerful stuff.

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The waterfront has a fair amount to do. We started with breakfast at the V&A Food Market. Literally heaven. Has something for everyone and seating where you can all reconvene when you’ve picked your food! Plus it’s cheap! A win win in my world! I personally loved the coffee from the Coffee Power Station. And if you bring your reusable cup coffee only costs R20!

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Just behind this is the Water Shed – a huge hall filled with craft bits. There was some lovely stuff here from cushions to clothing to jewellery. You’ll definitely be able pick up some nice items for people or something for yourself of course.

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If you enjoy your rugby the Springbok Experience is a must! You start with fun games where you try to get on the team (remember those sore legs from our hike… This did not help). But we had fun looking silly and laughing the whole time. You then move on to learn about the history of the sport in South Africa. With the Apartheid being such a prominent part of the sports history it’s incredibly interesting to see the changes it went through. The most moving part is South Africa beating the New Zealand favourites in the 1995 World Cup and the handing over of the cup by President Mandela to Peinaar, the Springbok captain. The embrace and smiles reverberated through all of South Africa. An incredibly moving piece of history. Oh and if you’re an adult you get a free beer with your ticket to have down on the Water front she you’re done.

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If your lucky or bold enough like my sister and brother-in-law were try to get up to the rooftop bar at the top of the Silo Hotel. The views are incredible! The perfect place for an afternoon drink in the sun.

Wine Region – Franschhoek and Paarl

This is the perfect day out … wine and (hopefully) sunshine. There are so many different vineyards you can choose from. As we had locals taking us round, we let them pick as they definitely know what they are doing. We started at the Haute Cabrière vineyard in Franschhoek, where for about £3 you get a tour, wine tasting for 4 wines (red, whites and sparkling!) And you get so see them open a bottle in the old French style, Sabrage, they cut the top off with a sword. It’s great. Plus the view is pretty spectacular.

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Once you are done here head into the town. It’s fill of small shops and there is a great little coffee shop, The Hoek, where I would recommend you get an afrogatto from. It’s incredibly refreshing after all the wine. Plus gives you a little boost to carry on.

A little further out is the Spice Route in Paarl. A vineyard with so much more… They pride themselves on having other small independent business all in one place, where neither two are the same! Here you can do more wine tasting, beer tasting at CBC brewer or even ice cream tasting!

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I would love to go back soon, I feel like we only scratched the surface of this amazing city. Have you been to Cape Town? What was your favourite thing or things to do? 

Trinity College, The University of Dublin

Conveniently Trinity College is all of about 10 minutes from my flat (the advantage of living so central!). I spend a lot of time just wondering though, I just love the grounds. But when you go, do remember though that this is someone’s place of learning – do try not to get in their way when you are taking pictures, it’s just not fair on them!

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Trinity was established in 1592, and currently ranked 88th in the world. It’s got a long history, you can just sense it as you walk through the door. The first “site” you will see is the Campanile of Trinity College. It was donated by the Archbishop of Armagh and completed in 1853. It stands at nearly 100-foot-tall, with the four figures at the bottom represent Divinity, Law, Medicine, and Science. If you study there don’t walk under it when the bells ring, superstition says you will fail your exams!

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The “Sfera con Sfera” or ‘Pomodoro sphere’ as it is known locally was donated by Arnaldo Pomodoro and made in 1983. It is located in front of the Berkeley Library. There are similar structures in New York, Berkeley, Tehran and Rome. In 2008, it went through a massive conservation project to get it back to the lovely shin of when it was first constructed!

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The Book of Kells is the most famous medieval manuscript and is located in the heart of Trinity Collage! And it’s well worth the visit, if you book online costs €13 each, €11 on the door. Though it may be more expensive to book online, I recommend if you are going in high season. It can sell out fast and you don’t want to miss out. The book of Kells consists of four Gospels, getting it’s name from the Monastery of Kells in County Meath. It is thought it was written around 800 AD. It has moved to Trinity College in 1661.

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The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room and is probably my favourite place in Dublin. You can just loose yourself in there. It’s nearly 65m long and holds around 200,000 of the oldest books in the Library. It really is one of the most impressive buildings I have set foot in. I would love to just read one of those books. There are marble busts that line the Long Room, depicting some of the greatest male philosophers and writers. How many do you know? Also when you first enter don’t miss one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

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Have you been? What was your favourite part of Trinity? Do you study there? What’s it like?

 

I’m BACK – and I’ve made PLANS!

I’m not going to go into why I stop posted, I just did. But I’ve taken a step back and reminded myself why I enjoyed doing this so much! My first post is on 2018’s plans! I am so excited, and I hope to share my experiences with you all.

2018’s trips started a bit rocky thanks to the “Beast from the East” which forced Dublin airport to close and my trip to Budapest to be cancelled. I’m no longer dwelling on that as it’s made me become more focused on all the other things I have planned.

March:

Ireland – Galway and the Cliffs of Moher

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Image: www.cliffsofmoher.ie

England – London (though technically this is where the families are, I have planned a “touristy” trip to do all the things I miss!)

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Image: mine 🙂

April:

South Africa – Cape Town, Kruger, Johannesburg

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Image: my dad’s!

May:

Italy – Rome, Ancona

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Image: www.cntraveler.com

June:

Denmark – Copenhagen (MAYBE!)

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Image: @lyoung_ Instagram

July:

London – LoveBox (festival!)

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Image: loveboxfestival.com

August:

Austria – Vienna

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Image: www.wien.info/

Hungary – Budapest, Sziget (festival!)

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Image: budapest.com

September:

Ireland – Electric Picnic (festival!)

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Image: flourandflavour.wordpress

 

It’s now looking like a rather packed year, and I wonder why I am strapped for cash this month when I look at how much I’ve booked! But life is for the living, and

I CAN NOT WAIT!

Do you have any tips for these places? Where to eat? What to see… or not see! I want to hear all about it!

Pink Gin Jam Crumble Slices

Last week I made Pink Jam which naturally led to this recipe! I mean, how did you not see that coming, Gin Jam Crumble… doesn’t that just sound yummy and moreish. Plus, once you have made the jam this recipe is super easy. I would almost say a child could make it, but as this will still contain alcohol I advice you don’t let them do it!

Ingredients

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375g Plain Flour

1tsp Baking Powder

Pinch Salt

Pinch Freshly Grated Nutmeg

225g Caster Sugar

250g Unsalted Butter

1 Large Egg

Zest of 1 Lemon

200g Rolled (porridge) Oats

250g Pink Gin Jam

 

Method 

Preheat your oven to 180C/160C Fan/Gas Mark 4. Line a 30cm baking tray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and sugar and mix until combined. Add the cold butter, egg and lemon zest and whisk until the mixture resembles crumbly breadcrumbs.

Pour half of the mixture into the baking tray. Using a large spoon (or your very clean hands!) push the dough flat, and into the corners, ensure that it is evenly spread out.

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Pour over approximately 250g Pink Jam and spread over the dough. Again make sure you get those edges!

Back to the remaining dough; add your oats and stir through. Crumble over the jam.

Bake for 45-50 minutes, or until golden and firm to touch.

Leave to completley cool in the tray. Cut into 12 pieces (or smaller if you want snack size/sharing). ENJOY!!!!

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These keep for up to 7 days in an air tight container!

My Favourite Coffee Spots, Dublin

If you didn’t realise this already I have an obsession with COFFEE!! It is my help juice, my comforter and my energiser. So naturally I love to go out for coffee. It’s a cheap date, whether with friends, family or the boy. It creates a place to chat or gives you something warming if you like to go for a walk instead. It’s the perfect pick me up. Since moving to Dublin my love for coffee has only grown. So this are my top picks (and it was a hard one to narrow down!!)

Meet Me in the Morning

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Just off Camden Road, this is the perfect gem. They have also recently opened up their take away section making it even easier to just pop in for a cuppa on the run. And it helps that their cups are super cute. The staff are also unbelievably friendly and helpful! Also, if you are peckish go for their doughnuts, or their seasonal brownie (I recently had the pumpkin brownie… for breakfast… it was incredible!)

Il Fornaio

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A small cafe based just down the road from Trinity (though they have another four dotted around), it is the perfect place to grab a coffee for a walk around the collage, or a pick me up if you are a student there. Not just is it beautifully velvet, doing the Italians proud, they give you a small amaretti biscuits to go with it. Perfect piece of Italy in Dublin.

Clement and Pekoe

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Their main cafe is based on South William Street, but they also have one within a small shop in Temple Bar, “&”. They use Climpson & Sons Coffee which is roasted in London, which is a fantastic roasters… and also nice to see something other than 3FE, not that I don’t love that roasters but good to mix it up! Their Mocha is a thing of beauty. You are presented with a mug of warm milk, with your espresso shot and a lollipop of the most amazing chocolate – mix and watch as it melts away to create the best Mocha in town!

 

Dollard and Co

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The new kid on the block… well sort of, I think it’s been opened a few months now! Getting their coffee from TwoFifity Square Coffee, they make a brilliant Flat White. Plus they open at 8am so it’s great for that walk to work. They also sell their coffee which is great if you like to have a brew a home every now and again.

 

Which is your favourite coffee spot? 

 

 

 

Pink Gin Jam

Love Gin? Love Raspberries? Love Jam? This is the recipe for you!! It’s so ridiculously tasty it’s hard not to eat it off the spoon… or if you do make sure you wait for it too cool first, just some advice! And this is slightly cheating as I use frozen berries as I can never manage to get my act together to go berry picking! And well, they are cheaper, I’m not a millionaire (YET!) so can’t afford fresh berries every time I want to make jam.

This makes two 2 x 350g JarsScreenshot_20171025-130800

Ingredients

500g Frozen Raspberries

50ml Water

335g Caster Sugar

120ml Gordon’s Pink Gin

 

Method 

Place the raspberries and water into a pan, on a medium heat and leave to slowly soften up. This should take about 10 minutes.

Add the sugar and stir over a low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Boil steadily for about 10-15 minutes, or until at setting point, 105C/220F. Though if you don’t have a jam or digital thermometer, spoon a little onto a cold plate, leave for a minute and then push the jam with your finger. If the jam crinkles and separates without flooding back, setting point has been reached!

Add the gin, watch out, those fumes are the alcohol burning off, and stir until well mixed in!

Pour into your sterilised jars 🙂 This will last up to 6 months unopened. Once opened keep refrigerated and consume within 4 weeks.