Sunday, 5 July 2015

A day at Wimbledon 2015


Oh, Wimbledon, how do I love thee?

Big time, that’s how.

As a gal who is not a huge sport-watcher, my love of watching tennis is somewhat random but very real.

And Wimbledon is just my fave tournament of them all.


I love everything about Wimbledon. The tradition, the Britishness, the way the whole nation goes tennis-mad for a fortnight. It’s the best.

Remember how much I enjoyed my first trip to Wimbledon two years ago? Well needless to say I was over the actual moon when mum announced she’d managed to get tickets for the whole fam this year.

ALL FIVE OF US!

I don’t know about you, but it’s pretty rare that we’re all together these days, so that was just the strawberry on top of the cake.

I’d been looking forward to yesterday for so long, and our day at Wimbledon was somehow even better than I could ever have imagined.

We arrived on a gorgeous sunny day – it was hot, but not unbearably so thanks to the breeze.


Dress – Naf Naf. Sandals – Topshop. Bag – Kate Spade. Necklace and bangles – Kate Spade.

Priorities sorted, we headed straight for the tennis and grabbed seats at the first court we came across. It was still morning so play on the show courts was yet to begin, but I absolutely love watching the matches on the smaller courts – being so close to the action is incredible.

We started with a spot of Ladies’ Doubles.


I think doubles tennis is particularly good to watch as you get to see the incredible teamwork between the pairs. It’s insane how in sync they are.

After a while, the brother discovered Jamie Murray was playing on a court round the corner, so we shuttled off to find him.

Through the well-dressed tennis fans we walked (Wimbledon is a people-watcher’s dream), past the many tempting food and drink outlets.


One of the things I love most about Wimbledon is the lack of brands. All you see is some very discreet Slazenger, Evian and Robinson’s here and there, but it’s all very tasteful.

The grounds are also gorgeous, with pretty purple flowers everywhere. There are lots of loos, plenty of drinking water taps and loads of helpful staff dotted around.


Luckily for us, we managed to squeeze into a spot with a view of the Murray (Jamie, not Andy) doubles match.


It was fab!

We soon decided lunch was in order though, and successfully found a free spot on the benches underneath lots of pretty hanging baskets. How nice (and rare) it is to be all together!


I hadn’t realised but you are actually allowed to bring your own alcohol into Wimbledon (to an extent, no one wants drunkards heckling the players), which I think is great. It’s reeeaaaally expensive inside!

So, the famalam cracked out the Champers and we toasted to tennis and family.


Mum had brought an M&S feast for lunch. (A lot more than in the above picture, just to clarify.) Yeah, it was a good picnic.


Post-lunch I headed to Murray Mound and somehow managed to find my dear friend Charlotte - remember Charlotte from my year abroad? - who was there with a group of her uni mates.


We caught up, sipped wine, snapchatted (obvs), watched the tennis on the big screen and soaked up the sun. And when I say soaked up the sun I mean melted.

But there was no time to sit around and sunbathe for too long as play had kicked off on the show courts!

I felt super lucky as the madre had managed to get tickets for No. 1 Court!

First up, we caught the end of the Isner vs Cilic match.


The standard of tennis of all the players at this level is simply mind-blowing. It's such a treat to be able to watch from the courtside.

Espesh with strawbs. Because it's Wimbledon.


Next up was the match I'd been most looking forward to: Pospisil vs Ward. Did you watch? It was a nail-biting five-setter!


However - and don't hate me for this, fellow Brits - I was supporting Pospisil. Had Ward been playing anyone else I would've been behind him all the way (I love to be patriotic), but Pospisil is my actual fave.

He's Canadian and young and ambitious and quite nice to look at and I'm just a big fan.


My heart basically melted for him in that stadium yesterday. Naturally, 95% of the spectators were very vocally behind Ward, which meant poor Pospisil had a real challenge on his plate.

With basically the whole crowd against him, I have no idea how he did it. But he did, he won! I wish the crowd had erupted, but they didn't. Which is understandable. But hey, I was super happy.

And I got to watch an absolute cracker of a match. It was so tense! My heart was beating so quickly, I was short of breath, right on the edge of my seat... WHAT A THRILL! God, I love tennis.

After that match, I was exhausted quite frankly. A quick break was necessary.


And Pimm's. Pimm's would also help. Super kindly, my generous Auntie Margarete (with whom we'd met up earlier) offered to treat me to a cup. Such a babe. Because at £8 a cup, it's not really within the budget of a #funemployed graduand like myself.

Pimm's on tap? Shamaze.


Oof, I do like me some Pimm's. Another beautifully British beverage.

Back to the court we went to watch the Monfils vs Simon match!


A cup of Pimm's in hand, family by my side, incredible tennis to watch. It was just perf. I was one hell of a happy bunny.

We stayed there as the evening drew in before finally accepting we'd have to make a move if we wanted to get home before 2am. Not without a quick stop in the Wimbledon shop, of course (much to the exasperation of my father).

I really regretted not getting some of the fine chinaware last time I went, so this time we remedied that.

How adorable is this? 


On the inside it says: "Game, set and match! The Championships, Wimbledon". I love the design and the shape, and I just know it's going to make tea taste amazing. The ideal souvenir of the most fabulous of days.

It had all been so much fun! And how lucky I did feel.


Wimbledon, see ya next year! (I hope.)

Have you ever been to Wimbledon? Do you love it as much as me? Let me know!
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Thursday, 2 July 2015

RECIPE: Chocolate chip peanut butter banana cookie dough bars (vegan and gluten-free)


I'm a just give y'all a second for that title to sink in.

One more time: chocolate chip peanut butter banana cookie dough bars.


Yeeeaaaah.

The Shrimp and I whipped these up on the hot summer's evening of my first day back at home after leaving uni FOREVER! *sobs*

I'll be perfectly honest with you, dear readers - we did not intend to make cookie dough bars. But cookie dough bars were the resulting concoction, and they are gooooood.


They're gorgeously squidgy and dense, bursting with peanut buttery smoothness, banana-y goodness and chocolatey richness. 

Such a dreamy combo.


As you may be able to tell from these photos, we could not wait for the bars to fully cool before digging in, meaning our first slices were insanely cookie doughy and delightfully warm.


However, once you leave them to cool properly they firm up a little but don't lose their squidge. And that's just the dream, isn't it? As it's been super hot recently we're keeping ours in the fridge, but that's not a necessity.


This was my first experiment baking with xylitol, after Total Sweet kindly sent me some of theirs to play with.


You use it just like sugar, but it's much better for you, HOORAH! Here's why:
  • It's 100% natural.
  • It's low GI.
  • It has 40% fewer calories than sugar.
  • It actively promotes healthy teeth.
So yay for xylitol! It sure worked a treat in these babehs.


I am a big fan of these bars, and I find it quite amazing that they're vegan and gluten-free too as they taste so indulgent.


This recipe makes 12 bars and was inspired by this one by Chocolate Covered Katie.


Ingredients

1 ripe banana, mashed
1 cup smooth peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp buckwheat flour (or sub normal flour)
2/3 cup xylitol (or sub normal sugar)
1/4 cup plain chocolate chunks/chips, plus extra for topping

(If you don't have a set of measuring cups, just use a small mug.)


Method

1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line an 8 x 8 inch baking tin with greaseproof paper. Mix the banana, peanut butter and vanilla together in a medium-sized bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the rest of the ingredients together.

2. Combine the dry ingredients with the wet until a cookie dough forms - it will seem quite dry, but it should come together.


3. Pour the dough into the tin and press it down carefully with your fingers, spreading it out evenly. Sprinkle some more chocolate chips on top and press them down gently - the dough will rise in the oven.


4. Bake for 15-18 minutes until golden on top and round the edges, but don't worry if it looks underbaked underneath - that's what's going to give you the lovely cookie dough-esque texture.

5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for as long as you can bear (at least half an hour if you can resist the temptation!) Slice into 12 bars and enjoy!
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Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Parisian adventures, day 3: a Batobus trip down the Seine and the Louvre


On my final day in Paris, Harriet and I decided to do something I'd actually never done before: a boat trip down the Seine!

It was a super hot day, so the prospect of being on the cool water was mighty appealing. Don'tcha just laaaave being by a huge body of water?

There are a whole load of boat tour companies in Paris, the majority of whom offer one simple trip and are rather pricey. Boo to that.

The Batobus, however, is different. It's unique in that it has eight stops and passengers can hop on and off as they please - it serves sort of as a means of transport as well as a tour. Très efficient. I like that.


Equally pleasing is that a student ticket is 10€, for which price you can use le boat as much or as little as you please. Heck, you could ride that thing round and round in circles all day if you really wanted to get your money's worth.

Yeah, we didn't.

Each stop is at a particular attraction or point of interest, and we got on outside the Musée d'Orsay.

Oh, I shall also add - because I'm still chuffed about it - that not only was the ticket man delightfully friendly but he was also highly complimentary about my French. So that's nice to hear having just finished a blimmin' degree in the subject. Would've been awkward if the case had been otherwise really, wouldn't it?

Moving on.

We hopped on the boat after a brief wait (the boats come roughly every 20 minutes) and made our way straight to the sun-drenched back deck. Most of the boat is covered by clear glass and the roof does open, but Haz and I wanted to make the most of the sunshine and the view behind the boat. #backrowlads #notreally


With the flags billowing behind us, the Seine shimmering below, the wind in our hair and the sun on our faces, we had a beaut time cruising through Paris.


Having been to Paris my fair share of times, I particularly loved seeing the city from a new perspective. We breezed our way past Notre Dame, under the bridges and further down the river than I'd ever been on foot.

It was great!


You don't feel like the boat is stopping too frequently, and we thought it traveled at just the right pace.

I thoroughly enjoyed admiring all the gorgeous buildings and fantasising about what it must be like to live in them...



Haz and I hopped off at the Louvre stop, walked along the Tuileries gardens and made our way to what is probably the most famous pyramid outside Egypt.


Did we go into the museum? Negative.

So why were we there?

To take pictures, obvs.

I've been to the Louvre before and I'm sure I'll go again, but time was a-ticking and it was far too gorgeous a day to be in a museum.

Here's the thing: I really want to love museums, I do. But I just don't. Most of the time, I get bored. Pretty quickly.

I have loved some museums, for sure. But if I'm perfectly honest it's usually the classic ones - you know, the ones you're meant to go to - that fail to interest me. Sure, you feel all cultured if you go, but they're just not my fave way to spend a day. Ya feel me?

Museum rant over, let's take some pictures!



It's fun to be a tourist.

All that posing had made us hungry though, so we moseyed back to the river to eat our picnic with a view. (Although potensh not quite as good a view as the previous day's spot.)


Post-lunch we jumped back on the Batobus to finish the tour.

Ooh, what's that iconic landmark I spy?


HEY FRIEND!

The boat got super close which was pretty cool.



It was the perfect way to end my little trip to Paris, and I couldn't have asked for a better pal with whom to do it all.
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