Saturday, 25 May 2013

RECIPE: Chocolate and raspberry cake

What with it being exam period (*snooze*), up until today it had been an embarrassingly long time since I'd last baked. No, really. Shameful. It's just hard to justify when you know you've got loads of revision to do (which you'll know all about if you read this.) Plus, everyone's on their #summerbod quests at the mo, and I would hate to thwart anyone's healthy eating missions.

That is some moist cake right there
That said, when my darling friend Harriet (whom you'll know was my running buddy for Bristol 10K) called me yesterday and asked if I'd like to come over and bake a birthday cake with her (it's her 20th birthday today!), naturally I dropped my French books and jumped at the chance. After giving her various cakey options - she doesn't like jam so Victoria Sponge was out of the question (weirdo), she wanted something chocolatey, ideally a layer cake - Harriet chose a winner. I sent her off to Sainsbury's with a list of ingredients, popped over the road to her's with all my baking utensils (yay for living near your friends!), and we were in business. 

To be honest, we were probably a bit too excited. Harriet decided she liked my idea of a chocolate raspberry cake, so that, dear readers, is what we made. And no, I do not just mean a chocolate cake with raspberry icing. I find it somewhat sneaky when a cake is called, say "banoffee cake", but is in fact just banana cake with toffee icing. (Tell me I'm not the only one!?). This is a chocolate and raspberry sponge cake, with raspberries in the sponge and raspberry buttercream icing. I always think layer cakes are best for birthdays. They're more special somehow. 

Good crumb. Good crumb.
This fab cake is so simple to make, a monkey could do it (no offence, Haz) - you just chuck everything in a bowl and away you go. Quick, easy and just a little bit different. How often do you find chocolate cake with chocolate icing? Yeah, exactly. I personally really like chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream (I'm pretty edgy like that), and this raspberry one takes it to a whole new level. Not to mention its delightful pink colour! The slight tangy-ness of the raspberries in the cake and the icing just cuts through the sweetness of the chocolate (god, did I really just say that? Meh. You know what I mean. It was yummy.)

No-one wants a dry cake (god forbid!), and this one is deliciously moist, largely thanks to the cheeky little rasps hiding away in there. Being only small, the raspberries aren't overly noticeable, so the cake is still spongy and light. As the sponge is so moist, you don't need a lot of icing, so we only went for a thin layer. However, if you prefer you could double the quantity, make your layers thicker and cover the sides of the cake too. #yolo

I know what you must be thinking: These girls can run 10K, bake adorable cakes... Is there anything they can't do? Well, before we claim to be multi-talented superwomen we should probably wait to get our impending exam results. Eeeek!

Wow, this was a long introduction to a cake recipe. To sum up: Baking with friends is fun. We are very proud of our cake. And everyone else seemed to enjoy it just as much. Happy birthday Harriet!

Good friends + baking delicious cake = happiness

Ingredients - Cake

200g caster sugar
200g unsalted butter, softened
200g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp cocoa powder
4 eggs, beaten
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
About 30 raspberries (we used frozen as they're much cheaper, but if you happen to have fresh they work exactly the same)


60g unsalted butter, softened
120g icing sugar
A handful or so more frozen raspberries (depending on how deep a pink you'd like your icing)

Celebration time!


1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 170C/gas 5. Grease two round 20cm sandwich tins and line the bottoms with greaseproof paper. Sieve the dry ingredients into a large bowl, then add the beaten eggs, milk and vanilla and beat them all together with a handheld electric whisk until you have a smooth batter.

Into the oven we go!
2. Divide the mixture equally between the tins and smooth the surface as best you can with a spatula or the back of a spoon. Dot half the raspberries on to each cake - don't worry about pressing them down as the cake will rise up around them while in the oven. Bake for about 25-30 mins until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean and the cakes are springy to the touch. Go round the edge of each cake with a knife to make sure they don't stick to the tins, and after a few minutes of cooling, turn each cake out onto a cooling rack and leave to cool completely. Or as long as you can wait. We were impatient...

3. To make the icing, beat the butter with a hand-held electric mixer for two minutes until light and fluffy, then gradually add the icing sugar, beating more as you go. Beat on maximum speed for about five minutes. Add raspberries a few at a time until they're completely mixed in and the icing is your desired colour.

Before covering the top
4. Spread half the buttercream over the top of one of the sponges and sandwich the two cakes together, then spread the rest of the buttercream over the top of the cake. Decorate however you wish - we used pink sprinkles and chocolate buttons and it was adorable, not to mention deeeelish (if we do say so ourselves!)

Birthday girl nailing the first slice

If you like the look of this cake, you may also like my vanilla and raspberry cake!

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

The stress of a student summer term

wahhhhhh (pic from
Well, “summer” term is a bit of an optimistic name, isn’t it? Particularly when so many of my friends at other unis have actually finished exams, essays, lectures and generally uni for the year already. Here at Bristol we generally don’t finish until later – well, I don’t – and I really like that. Otherwise, the summer is actually too long, and you don’t get any time to enjoy (hopefully) summery weather and do summery things with your mates in your student city. At a lot of unis it seems like everyone rushes off home straight after exams, but that’s not how it tends to go here at Bristol. Yay!

The trouble is, we have to get through a few weeks of hell before we get to that blissful freedom: yes, end of year exams. You think it’s a stressful time when you do your GCSEs, and again at A-Levels, but they really are nothing compared to uni exams.

I love that Bristol students (as a whole) work really hard, take pride in their degrees and take exams and coursework seriously, but I tell you what, everyone sure does get stressed out in the summer term. It’s a little bit nuts.

As a fresher last year (for whom summer exams were far less important), I remember obviously working hard myself, yet being absolutely amazed at the stress levels of students in the years above me. I couldn’t comprehend it. This year, I’m starting to.

All my friends have now become recluses. Everyone lives in the libraries. Facebook is a far less interesting place. People get up at the crack of dawn in order to work – and these are stereotypically lazy students I’m talking about here!

Just the other day when I was chatting to my sister via whatsapp, she sent me some pictures of puppies – as sisters do – and, amidst lots of cooing, we both agreed on how much having a litter of puppies to play with would help during exam time. Dream on, girls, I hear you say. But the thing is, for some students that dream is a reality. A Canadian University actually offered students a puppy room during exam period, where they could go for a few hours a day and just play with puppies. Amazing. I’m so jealous.

One of the hardest things about revising for exams (in my opinion), is getting the balance right between time devoted to each – you have to factor in how long you have before a certain one in relation to how much there is to learn. It’s tricky. Practically maths. Naturally I always make (beautifully colour-co-ordinated) revision timetables, but there’s only so much a timetable can do for you.

And then it’s not just exam revision to deal with, oh no. For one of my units we’ve had to hand in an essay during exam period too. Luckily for moi my exams don’t start till afterwards, but still.

You know how important exams are and how much revision you have to do, but when you have all of it stretching out in front of you it’s even harder to focus and get through it. And why is it that when you don’t have any free time because you have to revise, you can always think of a kajillion other things you’d rather be doing, yet when you have free time you end up doing none of them? (Me? I make lists. Lots of lists. Lists of the fun things I want to do when I can, for example.)

But anyway. Blogging is sort of something which should really be put on said list, because I should really be revising right now. But I’ve just submitted an essay, and I’ve still got a week and – oh zut!  - I’ve only got a week until my first exam! I think that’s my cue to wrap this up.

Happy revising!

Monday, 20 May 2013

RECIPE: Healthy, vegetable-packed turkey bolognese

Continuing my healthy eating kick (and feeling better than I have for a long time as a result), I recently bought turkey mince for the first time because it's much leaner than beef. Tonight was the night, the chosen one, the momentous night on which I was going to use said mince to make a bolognese. Yup, it was pretty exciting.

First things first, don't expect it to look like regular bolognese, because it doesn't. The meat is much paler, so your bolognese won't resemble the brown mush you're used to (mmm... sounds appealing.) However, I threw in a load of different veggies so that I wouldn't have to cook any on the side, and the ones I chose made mine look delightfully colourful. Colourful mush. Much better, am I right?

The size to which you chop your veggies really is up to you - it depends whether you prefer a chunky or smooth spag bol. I know a lot of people put mushrooms in bolognese sauce, but I am not a fan of the slimy little things, so stayed well clear. With bolognese you basically have free reign to throw in whatever you want though - be as authentic or original as you like. #yolo

Loads of veggies, lean protein and wholewheat spaghetti make this recipe a super healthy (but still filling) version of a more calorific classic. #summerbod, I'm coming for ya. (Am I ironically using hashtags a bit much?)

This recipe serves four, so makes a nice family meal. Or, if you're comme moi, it gives you tonight's dinner and three more portions for the freezer. Hoorah!


Low-cal cooking spray (use oil if that's all you have, but see here to find out why I prefer spray!)

1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
500g extra lean turkey mince
1 red pepper, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
A handful of green beans, chopped
1 carton chopped tomatoes
A squirt of tomato purée
Vegetable stock powder
A handful of frozen petits pois
Wholewheat spaghetti, to serve


1. Heat a few sprays of low-cal cooking spray in a large pan on a medium heat and chop all the veggies.

2. Fry the onion and garlic in the pan for a few minutes until the onion starts turning clear, stirring frequently.

3. Turn up the heat, season the mince with salt and pepper and add it to pan. Stir quickly and continuously to break up any lumps, mix it into the onions and ensure it cooks evenly. (It will seem a lot mushier than beef mince at first.)

Meat and onion just starting to brown, in goes the veg
4. When the mince is browning, turn the heat down again. Add the pepper, carrot and green beans. Stir it all in and leave for a few minutes.

5. Add the carton of chopped tomatoes and squirt of tomato purée, then make some vegetable stock in the empty carton and add that to the pan, along with salt, black pepper and a pinch of sugar. Add a sprinkling of frozen petits pois. Stir it all together, put a lid on the pan, bring back to the boil then turn the heat down and leave to simmer for about 45 minutes, giving it the odd stir here and there.

All ingredients in, time to cover and leave to simmer.
6. Cook the spaghetti according to pack instructions, serve it all up and dig in (guilt-free, yippee!)

Saturday, 18 May 2013

7 Simple Slimming Food Swaps

Muesli with fresh fruit and skimmed milk = a delicious, healthy breakfast

Although the British weather would seem to contest it, you can’t deny that summer’s fast approaching. And sure, the chances are there won’t be many occasions for flaunting a bikini body at home (memories of shivering in the garden in too few clothes, clutching a Pimm’s and trying to convince myself I’m not cold spring to mind), but that hasn’t stopped the majority of women starting to get in shape for summer. Well, trying anyway.

Yes, #summerbod has been thrown around the twittersphere, with many of us making an effort to slim down for our summer holidays. You might say it’s all a bit ridiculous considering said summer bod will probably only be revealed to the world for two weeks or so when you’re abroad. But I think that if a summer holiday is the motivation you need to get yourself in gear and develop a healthier lifestyle then it’s a damn good thing. (And realistically, most students need a bit of a diet overhaul , don’t we?)

Equally, when everyone around you is passing up cake in favour of apples, it makes it all the easier to do it yourself. We all know how difficult it is to resist those cookies your housemate bought reduced from Sainsbury’s at the end of the day, especially when everyone around you is tucking in. So with this general healthier attitude in mind, I thought I’d share a few easy peasy food swaps that will help you slim down and get in shape for summer.

1. Out with granola, in with muesli.

A lot of people are deceived by granola and think it’s really healthy, but don’t be fooled. Sure, it’s made with oats, and often full of dried fruits and nuts, but it’s also incredibly high in sugar. If you can forgo that crunch, muesli is a much healthier and more sustaining option. And still delicious, quite frankly.

2. Wave goodbye to white carbs, and bring in the brown.

Right, before you make some drastic decision to cut carbs out of your life, well, don’t. Carbs are good for you, as long as you pick the right ones. The trick is to go for complex carbs – brown rice, bread and pasta over their refined white counterparts, and go for sweet potato instead of the classic jacket. No, these wholegrain carbs won’t save you many calories, but they fill you up for much longer, thus meaning you’ll eat less later. Hoorah!

3. Farewell fruit juice, hello whole fruit.

Do you feel virtuous as you sip that glass of OJ every morning? Well, while it’s great to get one of your five-a-day, juice really holds very little nutritional value. What’s more, it’s highly calorific and sugary, without any of the fibrey goodness of a whole piece of fruit. Have some actual fruit instead and you should stay full longer. (Similarly, if you’re usually a big dried-fruit muncher, you’ll probably eat less if you replace it with fresh fruit.)

4. Switch to skimmed milk

If you usually drink semi-skimmed milk in your tea, coffee or cereal, it shouldn’t be that much of a hardship to switch to skimmed (or 1% fat.) By doing so, you save a nice bunch of calories. The same goes for fat-free yoghurts as opposed to regular, and they don’t really taste any different as far as I’m concerned. Let’s take an example from Costa: A medium caffe latte with whole milk is 206 calories, but if you asked for one with skimmed milk you’d only consume 115! Who knew, eh? Well, I did. And now you do too.

5. Instead of oil, use low-cal cooking spray

Upon discovering that a mere teaspoon of olive or sunflower oil contains around 43 calories, I immediately stopped glugging it into my pans when cooking. Adding a generous splash of oil is a sneaky way for a healthy meal to turn into an unhealthy one, so try using a low-cal cooking spray instead. Equally, whenever you can, boil or steam food instead of frying – cooking in oil = extra calories; cooking in water = calorie-free!

6. Chill out with fat-free froyo instead of ice cream

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may have gathered I am a huge froyo fan.  If you don’t already know why, I suggest you read my previous post on it, and by choosing froyo instead of ice cream every now and then you can still enjoy some cool creamy refreshment without sacrificing your summer body. Oh, and obviously it’s not very student-friendly to be popping out to froyo shops all the time, so check out the freezer section of your local supermarket.

7. Swap creamy sauces for tomato-based ones

I don’t think this needs much explanation, does it? While delicious, cream equals bad news for slimmers. Have arrabiata instead of carbonara and you’re on your way to slimdom.

And there you have it. In a few weeks I'm sure we'll all be rocking hot bikini bodies (shivering, natch) to show off our success. See ya then. Do you have any tips or swaps to add? Let me know!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

The Cosmo Blog Awards 2013

nominate me
Click the picture! (Pretty please...)

So, Cosmo's Blog Awards are back for 2013! As a blogger, they're really exciting. I absolutely love blogs (quelle surprise), so enjoy nominating my fellow bloggers and then discovering new blogs from the shortlist and winners. The Cosmo Blog Awards are such a great way to recognise and encourage relatively unknown bloggers (comme moi), and this year, I've decided to give them a shot myself.

Yes, dear readers, I know I only have the teensiest weensiest chance of winning or even making the shortlist, but if I don't enter at all, I won't have any chance. I've got nothing to lose, and in true keen bean fashion, I figure Why not, eh? I adore putting time and effort into my blog, so to be recognised for it would mean the absolute world to me.

And this is where you come in. If you enjoy the occasional peruse of my blog, or perhaps just stumbled across one post which you liked, it would mean the world to me if you'd spare just a few minutes of your busy day to nominate me by clicking on the picture above.

The category I'm going for is Best Lifestyle Blog, as I figure my blog is so all-encompassing that it's probably the best fit. (Although if you'd suggest one of the other categories, by all means, let me know!) All you have to do is say a few words about why you like my blog and you're done! A few minutes from you, and a massive thanks from me.

You can then spread the love by tweeting about your nominations using @CosmopolitanUK and #CosmoBlogAwards (oh, and I'm @rachel_hosie, in case you didn't know.)

Super duper gratefulness and appreciation to anyone who does so.

Rachel, out. X

UPDATE: I've been told some people are having a little trouble with this, so allow me to make it a bit easier for you. Firstly, click right here (actually, I suggest you right click and "open in new tab" so you can carry on reading my enlightening instructions). Done? Brill, thanks. Then on this page there's a lot of spiel explaining the awards etc, but if you scroll down to the bottom of the page, in the bottom left corner there's a little button that says "Next Page", and then if you click on that it takes you straight to the bit where you do the nominating.

It's pretty straightforward from there - put "" into the Blog URL box, select "Best Lifestyle Blog" from the drop down selection box, click "no" on the next two ticky-box thingies, add a little spiel saying why you love my blog (tee hee thanks!) and that's that.

Merci d'avance, and if you have any more issues with it just hit me up with your questions.

Sunday, 12 May 2013

SPOTTED: Have I caught Banksy in the act?

Is this Banksy!?
As I was walking through Bristol Triangle yesterday morning, I spotted something unusual: a pair of street artists finishing off a new piece of work. Classic Bristol, eh? It must have been about 10.30am exactly (I know that because I was running a few minutes late for work, where I should have been at half ten. Oops.)

Standing on the roof of Bristol Fine Art Gallery near the top of Park Row were two hooded men – one actually doing the street art, head-to-toe in black, and another in grey, seemingly keeping guard. It caught my eye, so despite being late for work (sorry boss!), I stopped to take a few pictures. The man in grey saw me, but he didn’t stop me, so I just carried on snapping away.

Could it have been Banksy? I don’t know. I hope so! Some people have told me Banksy only works at night, so it must be an imposter. However, it was the morning, and they were just finishing the artwork, so maybe they/he (could Banksy actually be a duo?) had been working through the night. Or maybe it was a double bluff, as Banksy knew everyone else would think it wasn’t him if it was done in daylight. Who knows? There were ladders up to the roof which were gone when I was walking back from work a few hours later, so it can’t have been a spontaneous decision.

Add caption
Banksy being such an elusive character, there has naturally been much excitement around my snaps (felt pretty popular thanks to the photo’s “likes” on Facebook and Instagram.) In fact, Bristol Post have used my picture and ITV News interviewed me briefly about it earlier today (just local West Country, don’t get too excited), so if you want to hear a bit more about the whole scenario, tune in from 6pm today or check it out online here - they speak to a Banksy expert and everything. Shameless promotion, sorry.

Making my ITV News debut (and clearly very happy about it)

The finished work - pic by Nick George
Banksy or not, I like the new artwork anyway.

Friday, 10 May 2013

The torture of waiting to hear back from a job interview...

pic from

You've had the interview. And since the interview you want the job even more. It's been an agonising few days. Every email you get makes your heart skip a beat. You haven't been able to focus on anything and all you can do is go over the interview again and again in your head, analysing your answers and realising what you could've said better.

You lie awake at night, tossing and turning, unable to think of anything else. You try to do some work during the day to take your mind off it all, but it's no use. You can't concentrate, so instead you end up exploring the area around your would-be office on Google Streetview (oh look, there's a park round the corner... That'd be a nice spot for my lunchbreak), stalking the twitter and LinkedIn profiles of the company's employees and trawling through pages of unrelated search results in the hope of finding one that might tell you something, anything, related to the job you want. And after all that, you're none the wiser. You've only gone and got your heart set yet even more firmly on the job.

As hard as you try not to, you can't help but imagine yourself there, doing your dream job. Who might you meet? What sorts of things might you be doing? Oh, the things you'll learn! You bet everyone will be really helpful and welcoming. "No! Stop it! You haven't actually got the job!" you tell yourself.

You've been trying so hard not to get your hopes up, but that's the trouble with being an optimistic person: you can't help but hope for the best, which makes it all the more horrible if you get rejected. Sure, you've done well to get as far as you have. But getting to the final stage isn't any use when there's only one job. 

It doesn't help when people say "Oh, but who could be more suited to that position than you?" and "Oh, but I bet you come across really well in interviews." Naturally, you play it all down, modestly, saying "Oh no, I'm not sure... The competition is so stiff, I've done my best, and now just have to keep my fingers crossed." And while that's all true, you still want it so badly.


Then, after what seems like forever, you finally get the email you've been waiting for. *ping* Oh god. It's from her. This is it.

You open the email. Your heart's racing. "Dear Rachel, thank you for..." You're so nervous you can't even read it properly. Instead you scan for key words - hopefully "pleased" and "congratulations", as opposed to the dreaded "unfortunately."

Or, in my case, after missing a breath every time you got an email for a few days, you end up getting a phone call. While you're at the gym (and thus already slightly out of breath.) You know who it is. Deep breath. "Hello?"

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Running Bristol 10K 2013

Feeling great post-race
Right now I am feeling great. Yes, my legs are aching and I have blisters on my feet, but overall, I am feeling great. This morning I ran Bristol 10K, and as someone who could barely run for 20 minutes a few weeks ago, this is a big achievement. I’m not entirely sure how long it took us today (we were too excited at crossing the finish line to remember to look at the clock), but we think it was about 1hr 10mins. Evidently we’re not super athletes, but we didn’t stop to walk once, about which I am very proud.

Actually, I’m just feeling really proud generally. I never thought I’d be able to do a race like this, but would you look at that – I have. It was so great to do it with one of my best friends, Harriet, too. Neither of us is a runner, and through training for Bristol 10K we’ve established that my knees HATE running (you’ll know all about my knee saga should you be one of my twitter followers – gripping stuff) and Harriet has developed shin splints. Evidently we should both just stick to dancing.

I think the reason we enjoyed doing this is that we just catch up, natter and gossip as we go. To be fair, we’ve seen a lot of each other recently so there wasn’t much news to catch up on today. As a result – topics of conversation included:

1. Our dream weddings
2. Favourite musicals
3. Favourite soppy films
4. Why Rose in Titanic is an idiot
5. How much of The Devil Wears Prada I can quote
6. What we were going to have for lunch
7. Favourite froyo toppings/flavours/sauces

We helped pace each other (well, it was mainly me telling Harriet to slow down despite the fact that my legs are a fair bit longer) and generally got each other through. I saw quite a lot of people just running by themselves… I couldn’t do it.

all the runners on our way down to the race
I was amazed at just how many people were taking part today – apparently there were 10,000 of us! Some were very serious elite athletes, others were like Harriet and I who were taking it seriously but just doing our best. We both had pink nail varnish on, ribbons in our hair and glittery eye make-up. Why not eh? There were some great outfits going on though – Peter Pan, Spongebob Squarepants, fairies and all sorts.

Actually, I was amazed at the scale of the whole thing. It was incredibly organised – everything ran (if you’ll pardon the pun) so efficiently and perfectly to schedule. We also had 30 seconds silence at the beginning of the race for victims of the Boston Marathon bombing which was a really thoughtful touch. I want to thank all the fabulous, helpful, friendly volunteers and all the Run Bristol organisers. Except Harriet and I do have one qualm: we were promised foil blankets. There were no foil blankets. Still, we got a medal and T-Shirt each which are now proudly displayed in my room.

There was a great atmosphere throughout the whole thing and a real buzz of excitement in the air. I also want to thank every single person who came out to support from the sidelines, whether they knew someone running or not. Having people cheer you on really is the biggest boost and they did a fantastic job. I have to say, when Harriet and I saw our friends cheering us on we went nuts. It’s so exciting. Mine even said they’d been inspired and were thinking about doing it themselves next year.

Yeah we are!
Bristol 10K is a really good route: you start right in the city centre, run out under the Clifton Suspension Bridge into the “countryside” through the Avon Gorge, then back into the city and along the waterfront. The whole thing is a loop, which is just practical really, and pretty much flat (which pleased me greatly.) Sure, my knees kicked up a fuss, but when you know it’s just a one-off it’s easier to push through the pain.

The hardest part of the race was probably the 4-5K period – we could see runners going back the other way on the other side of the road, couldn’t even see the turnaround point, knew we weren’t even halfway, yet we were already feeling the burn. Helpfully, there were markers each kilometre of the race and troupes of volunteers handing out water bottles at the 5K mark.

Me: “I’m not sure I can jog and drink water at the same time.”
Harriet: “Yes you can. We’re going to keep running.”

We kept running. And we felt like runners we’d seen on the TV as we swooped the bottles out of the volunteers’ hands, drank a few sips and then threw them in the strategically placed bins.

I think I had a grin on my face for the whole of the final kilometre as the pride and sense of achievement began to kick in. Naturally, we sped up as we approached the finish line. Hand in hand, arms in the air, beaming like Cheshire cats, we ran across the line. REJOICE! What a sense of euphoria.

People talk about a runner’s high, but the feeling after completing an official race is a kajillion times better than just going for a random jog any day of the week. And when I think about how much money we’ve raised in sponsorship (nearly £1,100 at the last count!) it makes it all so much better. We’ve been fundraising for St Cuthbert’s Hospice in Durham which is an amazing place, run entirely on donations, and which has been a massive help to Harriet’s family and so many others. (Oh, and you can still sponsor us up to three months after the race, so our page is here if you feel so inclined.)

Thank you so much to everyone who’s already sponsored us. Considering these pants economic times not to mention the fact that most of my friends are students, it really means so much to me. Realistically, it’s not even about the amount of the donation, it’s what it represents: your support. As Mastercard would say, that’s priceless.

The guy with the horse head
So, are we going to carry on training? Will a half marathon be next? Probably not. With my knees I just don’t think I’m cut out to run unfortunately. And it is unfortunate, because *whisper it* I quite like running. When there’s nice weather, pretty scenery, and good friends to go with, it’s really rather pleasant. Not to mention EPIC cardio and FREE!

Thanks to everyone who put up with my moaning about my knees, thanks to our cheerleaders (Alex, Sian, Katie and Christian), thanks to our sponsors, thanks to the volunteers, thanks to Bristol Fit and Fab for encouraging us to do this, thanks to the organisers, thanks to Abi for helping us train, and MASSIVE thank you to Harriet for being such a super duper star training buddy. I am proud. WELL DONE US.

Thursday, 2 May 2013

The froyo craze hits Bristol

A healthy froyo from Flavalanche
We all know that Bristol is very trendy – how many other cities have as many vintage shop-cum-café-cum-indie music venues as us? – so it’s no surprise that Bristol is pioneering the froyo craze. Yes, Angelberry (down by the Hippodrome) has been here for a while, but with the newly opened Flavalanche on Park Street, now we’re thoroughly spoilt for choice. It looks like the two are going to be fighting for our competition – while Flavalanche is more suitably placed for the majority of students, Angelberry regularly does 50% off vouchers. Such will be our dilemma: convenience or cost? Laziness vs thriftiness? It's a tricky one. (There are some other shops, but these are the main two central ones.)

As a bit of a froyo nut, I like to consider myself as something of an expert. A froyo connoisseur, you might say. You might not. I probably shouldn’t. Naturally I have frequented both Bristol institutions, and what is my highly esteemed opinion? Well, both have a self-serve set-up, which I love. That basically means there are a few flavours on offer, you grab a tub and serve yourself – have as much or as little as you like, and you can merge flavours to your heart’s content. However, Angelberry have more flavours on offer every day, as well as an array of tub sizes, just in case you’re reeaaally hungry/greedy.

I told you I like a lot of toppings - an Angelberry one
If you’ve never been to such an establishment, you may be thinking that’s it. You’d be wrong. You then move on to the toppings and sauces. Both Angelberry and Flavalanche offer an impressive array of both hot and cold sauces (warm crunchy nutella from Angelberry is a fave of mine – I don’t think Flavalanche have cottoned on to this yet), and toppings. I’m talking loads of toppings: fruit, chocolate, biscuits, weird lychee ball thingies, nuts, granola, sweets. It’s epic. The point is you can create exactly what you want. Is that not awesome? You then pay according to your weight. Well, not your weight. That would be pretty mean. The weight of your froyo, obvs.

As a thrifty/stingy student, this set-up pleases me greatly. I don’t half get annoyed upon frequenting other froyo places in which there are set prices for portion sizes, often only about three flavours on offer, and then you have to pay more for one topping AND MORE AGAIN FOR TWO! Madness. This can then get reeeaaally expensive, which displeases me. Don’t they know that we are a “more is more” society? Obviously we want EVERYTHING! Or maybe they do know that, hence the charging for each topping. Hmm.

Angelberry's warm nutella topping mmm
So just where has this froyo craze come from? Well, unsurprisingly, America is to answer. Pinkberry was the first, opening in 2005. Now there are froyo places everywhere you look across the pond, and over the past few years the UK has jumped on the bandwagon. You can find a fair few froyo places in London, but for a while that was about it. Last September it was announced that the UK’s frozen yoghurt market had passed the £6 million mark. And it’s growing. People love it.

What’s all the fuss about then? Well if you’ve never had it (what have you been doing with your life?), you probably wouldn’t understand. Frozen yoghurt is like a lighter, creamier, more refreshing ice cream, but – wait for it – IT’S FAT FREE! Whether you’re watching your diet or not, that’s got to be an appealing factor. And really, it’s just delicious. Also, froyo places all have cool names (like Snog, Youmoo and Yuforia.) Must be an unspoken requirement.

Flavalanche's cheesecake flavour - much more neatly done than mine (their own pic)
Realistically, it’s obviously not the healthiest snack you could choose (especially if you load yours with the not-so-fat-free topping), but when compared to ice cream, there’s no competition. Froyo is generally considered quite a girly thing, probably because girls appreciate the lack of fat and the cuteness of it all more than guys. (But I think men could still make a very macho manly froyo…)

Now that the sun is out and the city is warming up, it’s the perfect revision break treat. You may think I’ve been paid to write this by the CEO of Froyo PLC, but I haven’t. I just really like froyo.
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