Henley Regatta - 2014

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Last weekend I was lucky enough to travel from Istanbul to London for... Henley! I wouldn't want to miss it for the world, and it was just one of those (kinda crazy) trips you just have to make. It was really worth it! 

We went on Saturday to see J and the boys race! They were on at 18h so we had time to snoop around and have a Pimms (or two).

I hadn't remembered Henley being so crowded on Saturday last year, the toe-path was literally at a stand still due to it. It was a bit of a shame since we couldn't enjoy the little boutiques along the way as much.
If you want a really good Henley experience, try to come one day during the week, to be able to wander, and either Saturday or Sunday to really get a feel for the atmosphere.

After our (rather long) walk back from the toe-path, we met up with friends in the boating area and waited for the boys to go past!

Go UL! J is rocking purple at all times, even down to the... rather interesting... crocs!

Once they were out of site, we went to the Steward's Enclosure and waited, nerves starting to kick in.

I bumped into Nagi, and yes I'm wearing heels...

Short girl problems... especially when surrounded by rowers!
The race started, it was UL against Harvard. So so nerve-racking, all of us screamed and cheered and shouted when they went by (to the great dissatisfaction of the surrounding crowd) but it wasn't enough for them to make it through. Harvard went on to win the Visitor's Cup the next day.... so it'll have to be for next year!

I am now back in Istanbul, doing some site visits, and rocking a rather... different kind of hat!


Galata Tower - Istanbul

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Merhaba! I am writing from Istanbul, which is pretty cool if I do say so myself... I'm here for an internship in the renewable energy sector and spending my weekends discovering the city where Europe meets Asia!

When my friends come over to visit me in London I usually have a whole weekend planned out weeks in advance... but when it comes to Istanbul I know nothing! (You might as well call me John Snow...) Sorry.

When I found out that Hida was going to be in Istanbul at the same time as me I was super excited! We met ages ago, at a rather embarrassing camp (*cough* maths camp *cough*), but never got to meet up since. She agreed to play tour guide, and brought me to Galata Tower!

Galata Tower, or Galata Kulesi in Turkish, was built in 1348 by the Republic of Genoa and was originally called the Tower of Christ; at 66.9m it was the tallest building in the city at the time!

In 1717 the Ottomans extended the observation deck slightly in order to post a team in charge of spotting fires through the city. Which all the better for us tourists today...

It still stands relatively intact and offers a breathtaking view over the junction of the Golden Horn and the Bosphorus... take a look for yourself!

A little snap happy inception going on below...

We took the stairs down, and it's a good thing we're tiny people... I'm not too sure a lot of the boys back in London would fit through there!

At the bottom of the tower was a man spinning traditional sugar candy, I can't say I tried it though! But I promise I will and keep you posted...

We then walked back up to Taksim square and had wine dinner in the French street! I didn't really see how it was French, but it was really cute and perfect for some catching up gossip, which we were too engrossed in to remember to take pictures. Woops. So this will be all for today, watch this space for some more Constantinople adventures! 

Ffiona's - Brunch in Kensington

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Bloggosphere, I am back for the summer (woohoo), apologies for the radio silence, but exams aren't fun to blog about. Summer however, is a different story... I've got a bunch of exciting stuff coming up (read Istanbul, Henley, Zambia and Canada) and you're coming with me!

First things first though, after exams one of the things I most wanted to do was to have brunch. It's so nice not having to get up early to scoff down some breakfast in order to get to the library early enough to get a good seat...

So I grabbed my favorite brunch lady... Harriet. She came with me to The Breakfast Club, and now it seems its kind of our thing! This time we went to Ffiona's, in Kensington.

Ffiona's is a really cute and dainty breakfast restaurant. We were looking for a brunch place which wouldn't be as packed as the breakfast club on the first Sunday of Summer... and Ffiona's more than fit the bill! Any decent brunch needs mimosas, and mimosas we got.

Ffiona's menu is pretty extensive, which is good to satisfy any kind of tooth. As you know I've got quite the sweet one, and Harriet is more of an egg kinda gal so this is what we went for!

Harriet had poached eggs on sweet potato fritters, if I remember correctly. I didn't take too many pictures as I was distracted by these babies...

Crispy pancakes that are moist in the middle (can't believe I just said moist, ew), with strawberries and bananas to be drizzled drowned in maple syrup. Yum.

After having devoured this delicious breakfast we took a stroll outside to attempt to walk off our food babies. Like that ever worked. We stumbled upon some beautiful London sunshine and probably the quaintest flower shop I've ever seen. It made the whole street smell amazing!

We then *attempted* to be fashionistas and take casual style pics... Something to work on!
But here's some summer stylin' for those interested...

I am wearing...
  • Jbrand Jeans (got mine in TK Maxx but shh), 
  • Asos Cami (on sale!)
  • Kurt Geiger "STUD" loafers (out of stock but you can find them on eBay, or similar here )
  • And my absolute favorite bag ever! Which is a loan, with an undetermined length of time, from my sister... from Mulberry *swoon*

Harriet was wearing...
  • Shoes (from Next)
  • Kimono (Asos out of stock but similar ones: herehere and here)
  • Bag from Balenciaga 

That's all folks! Have a good week and stay tuned for some Istanbul adventures coming up soon...

The Best Ooey Gooey Chocolate Brownies - Ever

Friday, April 4, 2014

I owe you guys an apology... I've been trying to post these - amazing - brownies for the past 4 months, to no great success obviously! The thing is, I always did a batch, and when I came back to it there was a bit missing! Which isn't great for blog picture taking... ok I'll admit I always take the first piece, they are just that good!

I mean look at these ooey gooey little beauts, they're fluffy and dense at the same time, intensly chocolatey and milky all at once!

They come from an amazing book J gave to me by Hotel Chocolat, and I've only tweaked it a little bit!

To make 12 quite big squares you will need:

  • 125g butter
  • 150g dark chocolate
  • 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (for extra chocolatey flavour it's optional)
  • 150g dark brown sugar (the squidgy kind)
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence 
  • 55g plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
I bake quite a lot... so I've made my own vanilla essence which you can see in the baby Grand-Marnier bottle above! It's much better, cheaper and healthier than the store-bought stuff! I'll post a recipe up soon.

So let's get baking!
  • Heat up your oven to 180°C
  • First melt the butter and 50g of dark chocolate, (that's two rows or eight squares of the cadburry chocolate above), in a small saucepan on low heat.  Once it's all melted leave to cool.
  • Beat the brown sugar and two eggs until fluffy (about a minute), add the vanilla essence and stir. 
  • Add the flour and baking powder (and cocoa powder if you are so inclined) to the sugar mix, stir well.
  • Add the butter and chocolate yummyness to the sugar mix, stir well again.
  • Lastly, chop the rest of the chocolate into chunks and add it to the batter. Do a taste test, you know just in case.

Pour the batter into a square tin, which you've lined with parchment paper. Pop in your oven for about 30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean!

Now, I would say wait for it to cool, cut into squares and then enjoy... but let's be honest we all know you're going to grab a spoon and taste it straight from the oven! Well that's what I do anyway... Bon Appétit!

St-Dunstan in the East - Secret Church Garden

Monday, March 24, 2014

Ah sunny London, I love you! I've seriously learnt to appreciate sunny days since moving to England, there's not much better than a warm sunny weekend in London. Ok maybe these are better, but it's close. The problem with sun in London is that everyone is out, and they've all got the same idea as you: Picnic in the park!

You're thinking of having this nice relaxing lunch, lying down in the grass with friends, enjoying the sunshine, and you end up surrounded by tons of people. Which is great for people watching and conversation snooping, don't get me wrong, but sometimes its nice to have your own little park.

And this is where secret gardens come in - taaddaa! London's greenery isn't restricted to Hyde Park, Green Park and Regents Park... there are tons of secret gardens which I hope to make you discover! Here's the first post in the "Secret Gardens" series: St-Dunstan in the East.

The church was built in 1100, severely damaged during the Great Fire of 1666 and patched up throughout the years. During the Blitz of 1941, most of the church collapsed under the bomb's impacts... After the war instead of leaving it to ruins, the City of London Corporation decided to turn the remains into a public garden and so here we are!

The church is hidden away at the end of a little street, surrounded by skyscrapers.... You'd never know it's there! (you can find it here but shhh)

The few people there sit quietly enjoying their lunch, looking at the cute water fountain at the center of the garden. I can't wait to go back this summer when all the trees have bloomed and the vines are full of leaves!

My brother and I had a quick 'picnic' and a good catchup. St-Dunstan is right next to the city, so it'd be great for a lunchtime getaway for all you city bankers!

Couldn't help but whip out some yoga moves... the blossoms were too pretty!!

Hope you're all enjoying this pretty spring weekend!

Chaussons aux Pommes - aka Apple Turnovers

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ah... Spring has arrived, well sort of. We had three beautiful days, temperatures soaring to high 16°C, everyone was in t-shirts and shorts... and today well, it's March again. But all is not lost! Here's a delicious recipe that's sure to put a spring in your step!

I remember eating so many of these after school, before synchro practice! I try to eat (slightly) less of these now, but making them yourself is so satisfying it takes the guilt out of eating 3 in a row!

First of all you'll need some puff pastry, you can make it as I had shown here! One recipe will give you about 8 chaussons. Let's get to it then!

To make the filling:
(Tbsp is tablespoon and tsp is teaspoon just fyi)

  • 7 Apples (any local sweet apple or Granny Smiths if you like sweet and sour apple pies)
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Butter
  • 3 Tbsp Brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp White sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (more or less to taste)
For the chaussons:
  • 1 Puff pastry batch (recipe here)
  • 1 Filling batch
  • 1 egg
Grab your apples, strip'em and chop'em!

Put the honey and butter in a heavy bottomed pan, let it all melt and brown a little, then throw in your apples and coat them with the sweet buttery mix. Add the sugars and the cinnamon, cover and let it soften for 10 to 15 minutes depending on the apples you used.

Once they are nice and soft, crush them a little with a fork or a potato masher, just so that it's more of a sauce consistency. I like to leave some bits of apples, but that's just preference! Let it cool completely.

Ok, sweet, cinnamony apple filling done! Now onto making the chaussons.
Grab your puff pastry, cut about 1/8th off, and put the rest back in the fridge to keep firm. Roll out your section, on a clean floured surface, to about 1/2 cm or until you can cut a circle 12cm diameter in it. I don't have a 12cm diameter cookie cutter, so I used my cute little bowl and a knife. Anything goes!

Once you've got a nice circle, use the rolling pin to make it oval shaped. Then paint one side of the oval edges with egg, and add your filling to the same half. Fold it onto itself, and seal the edges with your fingers!

At this point you want to leave them in the fridge for 30mins or 1 hour, so that the pastry is nice and firm. Now preheat your oven to 200°C. Once they've chillaxed, put some egg wash all over (make sure that it doesn't go underneath the pastry or it'll stick!) and with the back of a knife decorate the top with horizontal lines. 

Bake at 200°C for 20 to 25 mins, or until a beautiful golden brown. Try to wait until they've cooled to bite into them, I didn't and my tongue still hates me for it!

Bon Appétit!

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