Friday, 29 January 2016

Yosemite National Park - USA Road Trip Part 5

On our way from Las Vegas to San Francisco, we drove through Yosemite as we'd heard it was absolutely stunning - and we'd have to agree! Though it was a whistle-stop tour (just a few hours in the park as we had welcome drinks in San Fran that evening), we managed to see the Half Dome and plenty of other mountains, trees, lakes, and bear warnings (sadly no bears though!! Gutted!).

Here's some of our favourite photos we took there - we got a beautiful day for it!!


 Sadly there was a section of forest by the Half Dome that was on fire - and we didn't realise until we were driving through it, convertible roof down, getting smothered by smoke! The firemen said we had to keep moving and couldn't stop, so we couldn't put the top up. We must have looked like such fools!! Mum said we smelled of smoke when we arrived in San Francisco - driving through a forest fire was definitely an experience!

And then, after a stop for roadtrip supplies, we headed on up to San Francisco!!

With a much dirtier car - it was no longer white!

On the open road...

We got caught in an hour's worth of traffic on the Bay Bridge - luckily the view of the Bay was BEAUTIFUL and the sun was shining. I got a sunburned forehead (great news for the wedding the next day), and Sarah kept reaching the camera on the selfie stick out the car to get some sunny pics!!

Next stop - San Francisco, my wonderful parents, and some of our best friends!!

Monday, 18 January 2016

Lumiere London January 2016

If you follow us on Instagram you may have seen a few pictures from the Lumiere London event that took place on the 14th to 17th of January.

It was a free festival that took place across London, running 6.30 - 10.30 each evening. Light installations and displays had been set up in 6 key areas of the city: Kings Cross, Mayfair, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Trafalgar Square and Westminster.

We went along on the Saturday and as it was outside made it a family trip by bring Bisbee. We had prepped beforehand by checking out the website , printing off a map and deciding what was on our must see list. Knowing it was going to be busy we thought we would start at Kings Cross and make our way to Trafalgar Square hoping that the crowds would do the opposite.

At the start it seemed straight forward. At each installations there was a guide who could point you to the next piece and it was like following a trail. King's Cross is stunning without the event but seeing areas you normally walk past without a thought being lit up was something special.

At King's Cross we saw the bird cage lit up as a rainbow, eery dresses floating in windows and a join the dots thing on a wall but the highlight for me was the Circus of Light. A projection of dancing animals that brought Granary Square to life.

From King's Cross we caught the tube to Oxford Street. The tube was PACKED and they had issues getting people out so we were lucky to make it safely to our tube. We heard on our arrival at Oxford Circus that they had actually closed King's Crossed so we timed it perfectly!

Once out on Oxford Street we could see an enormous net that changed colour every couple of seconds. It was mesmerising and it was a good job they had stopped traffic as the area was full of people just staring up.

From there we headed to Mayfair. A 20 minute trek but a chance for Bisbee to really stretch her legs which she was glad of. On arrival we found out that they had closed the aquarium telephone box as people had been hitting the glass too hard - why are there always arseholes?! So we joined the queue to enter the park. While the brightness of brothers and sisters was inviting it was a board of light that caught our attention - mainly as it had benches by it. Mayfair certainly hadn't lit us up!

Heading back towards Piccadilly and it was clear where the installations were as groups of people were gathered with phones to the sky. The beautiful proverb 'for the beloved one longs most' was illuminated above the Piccadilly arcade. Next were the keyframes (men) hanging off a near by building with the lights making it look like they were running up and down the building - very effective!

We had been looking forward to the Travellers - expecting them to be large and flying through the sky - in reality they were small and stuck to buildings - beautiful though. The most impressive thing for us was the fish like things suspended over Regents Street. With hypnotic music playing and their gentle sway it was really relaxing to just stand and watch as the chaos of the crowd walked by.

The only thing that snapped us out of it was the noise of what sounded like an elephant - it was in fact an animation of an elephant swinging his truck and stomping his hoofs. The night was full of surprises! Stopping had been a faux pas on our side though as it gave us a change to realise that the 4 hours of walking had left us in a bit of pain.

We were determined to make it to Leicester Square and were happy to be greeted by the Garden of Light - so, so pretty and the detail made it feel alive. Bisbee even found a quiet spot to admire the beauty! Summoning strength we walked the short distance to Trafalgar Square to see the fountains lit up with plastic bottles full of colour and the Centre Points lights. It was our final stop that left us smiling though the Neon Dogs that were hanging out in shop front were stunning.

We didn't quite make it to Westminster but heard the Abbey was beautiful. On hearing our tube stop had been closed due to over crowding we just couldn't face the extra walk. Instead it was Chipotle and a quick (well as quick as could be) march to the next tube station where we managed to get a tube back to our friends house pick up the car and drive the 2 hours back to Birmingham!

Bisbee was asleep within seconds, as the driver I however was wide awake and ready to battle the snow that had started to fall.

London is exhausting! The night was well worth it though!

Saturday, 2 January 2016

Laura's Left Over Delight

How you feeling after the week of indulgence?

I think it's fair to say we are dreading the thought of putting on proper clothes and starting Veganuray but with new years always comes new starts and we are getting ready to go, go, go.

However before we do we are using up all our leftovers and thought we'd share one particular recipe that worked out really, really well!

We shall call it: Laura's Left Over Delight! The original recipe can be found in 'the great potato cookbook' by Readers Digest.

Makes 2 big pasties or 4 small

2 cups (250g) of plain flour (all-purpose) flour,
1/2 cup (125g) cold butter
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of flavouring (thyme / rosemary)
1 beaten egg
1/2 cup of iced water

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
250g part boiled Potato (peel and dice first)
400g of meat (chopped into small pieces, we used our Christmas beef)
1 cup of leftovers (sprouts, onion, carrot, parsnips, stuffing etc etc)
Salt & pepper

Step 1: Make the pasty casing
Sift the flour into a bowl with salt and flavouring. Add the butter and using your fingertips make a crumbly texture. Work in the water slowly until it becomes a smooth dough.Make it into a ball and put in plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge for half an hour.

Cheat - if you don't want to make your own or don't have the ingredients, you can purchase a sheet of puff pastry in the refrigerated section of the supermarket and divide it in two pieces!

Step 2: Fill
Roll out your pastry into two equal rectangles, about 2/3 cm thick.
After boiling your potatoes, divide them into two piles and place onto the top half of each pasty.

Divide up your leftovers and meat, pile on top of the potatoes. Fold the bottom half over the top and seal them with a fork the whole way around. Pierce the top a few times with a fork to let the steam out in the oven.

Step 3: Cook
Put the pasties onto a baking tray and bake for 15 minutes, or until the pastry is cooked and golden.

Step 4: Eat
Serve with gravy for maximum deliciousness!!