Thursday 30 October 2014

Shopping in Florence

The first time I visited Florence in 2011, I was really surprised by the shopping. I wasn’t expecting much at all, but I was totally taken in by the markets. The thing with many markets is that the quality reflects the prices, but Italian markets aren’t like that. Everyone knows that Italian leather is a mark of quality, and that’s what so many of the stalls sell. I am, and will always be, a bag junkie and so it was pretty much heaven for me - there are so many lovely bags on offer! I could have bought ten, although I restricted myself to one for me, one for a present.

Friday 24 October 2014

The food of Florence.

As you may have picked up on in my first Florence post, I was pretty taken by the food. The Italians sure know how to eat. Also, for such a touristy place, it was quite cheap to eat out. Most nights, we were happy with just a bowl of pasta each, which was often as little as 8 euros each. And the house wine is often less than that! You can see why I love it so.

Thursday 16 October 2014

Postcards of Florence

I can't believe it's taken me this long to put up my holiday photos! It's been about a month since we got back from Florence, and it feels like a distant memory already. It doesn't take long, does it? So it's nice to go through my photos again and reminisce about what an awesome holiday it was.

It's actually the third time I've been to Florence, but the first time I've had a decent amount of time there. We visited a few years ago en route to my friend's wedding and only stayed three days or so, and then when I was in Lucca the year later, we went on a day trip. This time we went for five nights, which was the perfect amount of time to see everything. We'd neglected most of the sights when I went before, so this time it was good to see the Duomo, Michelangelo's David and the Boboli Gardens.

Sunday 12 October 2014

Slow Cooker Balsamic Beef Stew

One of my favourite things about Autumn is the good, hearty food that's plentiful at this time of year. Begone, salads and white wine, and hellooo rich stews and a large glass of red. I've been waiting for an excuse to make a good beef recipe in the slow cooker for a while now, and when Lidl got in touch and asked if I fancied doing a recipe post with some of their ingredients, that was all the excuse I needed.

I've had a hankering for more balsamic meaty goodness ever since our last night in Florence. The balsamic steak we had was to die for - it was covered in a thick balsamic glaze, which tasted both sweet and savoury at the same time. God, it was good. This recipe wasn't the same in the slightest, actually, because the balsamic was a much more subtle flavour, but it was still pretty damn good.

Friday 10 October 2014

Bubbles and Lakes

Dog on a boat!

There are so many parts of the UK that I've been to on flying visits - either driving through or for work - that sometimes I forget that I haven't really been to them. The Lake District is one such place - I've been there for work a few times now, but I've never had the chance to properly see it or explore, so when my friends and I started discussing getting away for a long weekend in a cottage, the Lake District was one of my first suggestions. Even on a flying visit, it's impossible to miss how beautiful it is - the scenery is simply breathtaking.

It was lovely to get away from it all. We did the perfect mixture of doing things and doing nothing - we were right on the edge of Lake Windermere, so had a boat trip to Ambleside and a nice wander through the countryside. We also ate an incredible amount of cheese and wine. Like, really. You have no idea how much cheese my friends and I can put away. I love an excuse to get away, but even more I love it when everyone is on the same page, just as happy to be a bit lazy as not.

Waitrose, awesomely, sent me a crate of prosecco to share from their Italian Wine selection. I don't need any excuse to tuck in to some fizz, and we introduced the concept of a prosecco course which I will now be implementing into every dinner time, obviously. So that was my "Prosecco Moment" - good times, with good friends. And fizz. Fizz makes all times better, right?


Tuesday 7 October 2014

First Ever Concert.

Everyone remembers their first ever concert, right? Mine was PJ & Duncan, I was 12, and a very very big fan of young Declan Donnelly. Oh, you young ‘uns might laugh about it, but PJ & Duncan were a pretty big deal in the early 90s. They were! The concert was at the Royal Albert Hall! Their support act was the BACKSTREET BOYS! I know, right?

I still vividly remember deciding one day that I should become full on obsessed with PJ & Duncan, and heading down to the corner shop in the summer holidays to buy every magazine I could find. I plastered my room with posters and pictures from Smash Hits and J17. God, I miss the nineties.

I’m really excited about my niece, Ellis-Rose, getting to that age. At 11, she’s not far off, and she’s been saying for a while now how desperate she is to go to a concert, so it’s something that I really wanted to do for her. That’s one of the fantastic things about blogging, because every now and then an opportunity comes up that you’ve been wanting to do for a while, and it’s basically perfect. Such as the nice people at Seatwave getting in touch, and offering me a pair of tickets to see the Saturdays at Wembley.

I’m not going to deny that I kinda like the Saturdays – All Fired Up is a tune, and I will fight anyone who says otherwise – although I wouldn’t have necessarily chosen to go to one of their concerts. But we had a really good time! The main part for me was Ellis-Rose enjoying herself, and she really did. I loved looking down and seeing her staring around Wembley Arena in wonder, or her little face when the Saturdays played a song that she knew. And they put on a really good show! Plenty of dancing and singing live (which always impresses me, who struggles to get her words out after walking up the stairs), lots of awesome light effects and several costume changes.

It was a really great experience for both of us, and Ellis-Rose is already talking about her next concert (I may be getting some The Vamps tickets for Christmas!). Thank you so much for the opportunity, Seatwave!

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