Tag Archives: Travel

Adventures in Swimmming… Open Water Wishlist

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Since switching my focus to swimming and getting chatting to people in the Cotswold Open Water Swimmers group I have built up a wishlist of swims I want to do in the next few years.

I’m sure this list will build as I get to know more people and hear their stories and experiences. Also there are many swim and places I don’t know about so they will be added to the list. My goal will probably be to do one big one each year, but if the timing works out I might be able to do more.

Adventures in Coffee… London Coffee Festival 2015

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This last weekend my friend Ingrid and I went to London for the weekend for the London Coffee Festival. I like London for all the events that are on, but a weekend is enough for me. It was super busy! We gave up on the tube pretty soon and wandered from Covent Garden to the Tower of London, via Borough Market and Tower Bridge. It was great to just wander and catch up. We also spotted two Shaun the Sheep art works!

Shaun the sheepmap Shaun the Sheep

We also found The Hummingbird Bakery and had the most amazing cake! Mine was the lemon raspberry three layer cake and Ingrid had the raspberry cheesecake brownie. Both were amazing!IMG_0712

We went to the coffee festival on the Sunday. It’s held at The Old Truman Brewery near Brick Lane. Ingrid and I stayed near Liverpool Street Station for easy access to transport and easy walking distance to the Coffee Festival. I could not believe have busy it was. The queue went around the street and although it moved quickly it was a bit crazy.  

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Once we were in it was great to wander round. We decided to buy nothing on the first lap to make sure we didn’t spend too much. We tried lots of samples from lots of different vendors – Union, Grumpy Mule, Freehand, Costa, Starbucks, and a few others I’ve forgotten I’m sure.

I was really impressed with the Starbucks stand. They focused on their reserve blends . We tried a cold brew and mint sparkling coffee, both of which were lovely. I loved all the coffee cup art. They also gave us both free samples of each of the 4 coffees they had to try. Thanks to Dan for sorting that out for us.

Starbucks coffee

We wandered around more and looked at the different cups, teas, machines, and people around the place. It was hard to spend that long at any stand as it was so busy. I would have liked to learn more about brewing techniques, but we didn’t get to the demo area until we had finished. I was surprised that a few stands where we asked about the some of the brewing techniques the people there couldn’t explain how it impacted on the coffee. I felt a few people there were just sales people who hadn’t even read up on what they were selling.

I did like the art and displays around the place though. It definitely had a quirky atmosphere.
coffee machinescoffee sacksscience coffee

If I went again I would probably go in twice to have some more time to talk to the vendors about the farms they buy from and the different brewing techniques.

The last thing we did was go to the martini bar for an espresso martini. The guy on the bar was fun and chatty as he made our cocktails.

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We really liked the cocktails. Neither of us had tried one before and although I do like martini and have all the ingredient required to make this, I have never done so. I think I might in the summer if we are drinking in the afternoon, but I wouldn’t want this as an evening drink due to the espresso required.

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I came home with the free Starbucks testers and a bag of Freehand coffee the guys on the stall kindly let me buy although they were only using for drinks at the festival. I went over especially at the end of the session to buy from them and almost wasn’t able to, but they were super nice and let me have a bag of the Peru beans to take home. I can’t wait to try it out!

I do love coffee, but I will say we were over caffeinated after 3 hours in the festival. All I wanted was water for the rest of the day. So many samples in so little time was a bit rough on the body. However it was super nice to try from small scale roasters and now I have a list of them to find online to allow me to try different beans and blends. Also I can find them on my wanderings too!
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Candy Japan

I’ve talked about my obession with Japan and my interest in Japanses culture before so i was super excited to find a subscription service called Candy Japan that sends sweets and treats from Japan to all over the world and they were kind enough to send me a review box to share on my blog. They send you two boxes every month for US$25.

The box I received a week ago looked like this:

It was colourful and bright and looked so much fun. And it’s all in Japanese! I love that. I had no idea what was what. You can guess from the images, but there is something about not knowing how they makers describe the products that was slightly unnerving.

You do get sent an email with details about the products, but that arrived a few days after my box arrvies and I couldn’t wait to try, so just went for it!

First up were these things that I later found out are Ramen Bites. I was expecting them to be sweet, but they weren’t. Once I got past that I quite enjoyed them. They were salty chicken flavour  and were weirdly addictive once I had started on the pack. They are basically like dried noodles, but not raw noddles.

Next up was a big pink fish filled with sweet chocolate like strawberry flavour chocolate thing. I foudn out from the email they are called  Strawberry Taiyaki. I’m not a huge fan of strawberry flavoured things, but this was nice. It was very light. I agree with Bemmu (the person behind the boxes) that the sad expression is a little bad. A smiley happy fish wafer should be expected.

Last up and the most interactive snack I have ever seen is this!

I worked this out well from the pictures that you had to put the tubes of chocolate (at least I assumed it was chocolate) into a mug of hot water to melt and then you can build your own trees or mountains on sticks. I later found out that the box says “Let’s Make Mushroom Mountain!”, so I kinda got it right.

So much fun in a snack kit.

I didn’t quite get the balance of biscuit to chocolate right and ended up using all the chocolate in the molds, when I should have held some back for the extra biscuits.

I put them in fridge to speed up the setting process. They were quite hard to get out of the molds.

  

This was super fantastic and I have signed up to continue to receive these boxes. It is something fun and different. I will try to hold out until the email arrives explaining what is what. I can see this also being a good present for people who like weird and wonderful things or who like to travel.

I would like to thank Bemmu at Candy Japan for sending me a box for review. It was so much fun to receive and I hope you have just as much fun finding new products to include. I want to request a Matcha Kitkat!

Wandering around Sutton House

I feel very privilaged I get to travel to some amazing places in the UK as part of my job. This last week I got to visit Sutton House.

“Built in 1535 by prominent courtier of Henry VIII, Sir Ralph Sadleir, Sutton House retains much of the atmosphere of a Tudor home despite some alterations by later occupants, including a succession of merchants, Huguenot silkweavers, and squatters. Discover oak-panelled rooms, original carved fireplaces and a charming courtyard.”  National Trust

Although I there for a work meeting my manager always encourages us to take some time where ever we go and explore to learn and understand more about the places we work with and the people who work there.

A recent project that I got to see was the Breakers Yard that looks at the 20th century history the house.  There are two buses and an ice cream van in the yard and it is really fun to explore.

  

I love the idea of planting trees in tires.    This bus is being used as a shelter, which mean kids can still explore and take part in activities the house put on even in the raining British weather.      

This is inside the double decker bus. A wooden stair case and a fireplace.     

Overall I had a lovely day and would encourage everyone to vsiit Sutton House in Hackney.

Wandering around the Lake District

My final work trip of March took me up to the Lake District where I stayed in Grasmere. I took lots of extra clothing as thought I was going to end up getting wet, but we had serval glorious sunny days. I got to go exploring with a work colleague – Claife Viewing Station, Stickle Ghyll, Hollens, as well as driving through the lakes on roads only the locals would know and it was great!

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