Tuesday 25 August 2015

Barcelona! Barcelona! Barcelona!

Exploring the park behind the National Art Museum of Catalonia 
Inside Sagrada Família 

During the incredibly stressful final year exam period of university, my friends and I decided to book an end of term holiday so we had something to look forward to! After tossing around destination ideas, from Budapest to Magaluf (thank god we didn't settle on that one), we agreed on Barcelona.

Less than 24 hours after receiving my results, I had squeezed my clothes into a tiny suitcase and headed to the airport. Although we arrived fairly late in the evening, we realised in the taxi ride from the airport to the apartment that, no matter what the time was, Barcelona was always lively. We had found a really beautiful apartment on airbnb, which was right between the beach and the Gothic Quarter and super close to La Rambla. Prime location! After dumping our stuff, we headed out onto the still bustling streets and explored the many, many bars lining the little cobbled streets of the Gothic Quarter. It was a really beautiful area, but very pricey - be warned!

Inside Sagrada Família
National Art Museum of Catalonia
Mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria

Our trip was only a few days long so we made sure to cram in as much as possible! My feet were a wreck by the time we got home. Though rather touristy, La Rambla was lovely to walk up, and the market just off the street was amazing! So much fresh food and plenty of fruit stall brimming with colour. There were smoothies and juices on sale everywhere, which was a lovely way to keep hydrated! We also spent a day trekking up to the famous Park Güell, which was really cool, but I much preferred walking around the quieter gardens behind the National Art Museum of Catalonia. My favourite sight was, unsurprisingly, Gaudi's (still incomplete) Sagrada Família. We spent hours there taking in the really unusual, but beautiful architecture.

The trip also coincided with the gay pride parade, which was really fun and ended with a huge street party and concert in front of the Art Museum! I would absolutely recommend Barcelona as a city break! You definitely don't need any longer than a week to see all the sights (and revisit some!) and I would love love love to go back! I'd probably take more sensible footwear next time though. Lesson learned.

Lizzie is heading there in just a few days, so hopefully this post will give her plenty of ideas and I'm super excited to see what she thinks of the city! If you have any recommendations for sights/restaurants/etc for her to visit, then please comment below!


Friday 21 August 2015

That's What She Read: July

A Million Little Pieces - James Frey:
This book is one of the most honest, harrowing stories I've ever read. I was absolutely gripped by the stream of consciousness narrative, I could just feel the journey he was on when reading it. The novel tells the story of James who is battling with addiction in a 'twelve step' rehabilitation centre. Honestly I don't even want to give too much away about this novel, it's so harsh and unlike everything I've read before. His relationship with drugs and therefore the people around him was explored in such a unique way, it was so interesting to read about. Despite being a really dark novel, tiny glimmers of light come through, peaking under door frames and through cracks in the pavement, making it a weirdly uplifting novel to reach the end of.
A little warning for those with anxiety, this book was pretty triggering for me and it did take me a while to get through it, if you're not in a good place then maybe give this one a miss! Keep your head happy folks xx

East of Eden - John Steinbeck:
I've had this book on my shelf for a long time, and on the urging of my lovely friend Elliot I decided it was time give it a go. I was instantly hooked. The novel is an absolute masterpiece, probably one my favourite things I've ever read. It spans an entire generation, following Adam Trask from a young child to old age, and the interwoven lives of the Trask and Hamilton families. There are a lot of biblical parallels, and the underlying foundations of the novel are the stories of Adam and Eve, and Cain and Abel. A key theme of the book is the dichotomy of good and evil, but what I found more compelling was the struggle between fate and free will. It's such an epic novel, so rich in detail, and the characters are so beautifully human.  As soon as I finished it I immediately read it again. For me, this is one of those books that changes your life.

Friday 14 August 2015

Recipe: Chocolate Oat Biscuits.

It's that time of year again, Bake Off is back. We literally can't watch GBBO without wanting baked goods to eat alongside it, so we thought we'd follow this weeks theme and made some biscuits to munch whilst we watched! Not going to lie, these super more-ish biscuits are pretty showstopping, they have a good snap and the chocolate on top gives them a perfect finish!

140g caster sugar
140g butter
140g self raising flour
110g oats
1 tbsp milk
2 tsp golden syrup
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
100g milk chocolate

Preheat the oven to 150C.
Line a baking tray (or 2) with baking paper.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until fluffy. Beat in the milk, bicarbonate of soda, and golden syrup until mixed well.

Fold in the flour and oats making sure everything is well incorporated.

Roll the mixture into small balls - there should be about 16 - 20 depending on how big you want your biscuits!

Place the balls on the baking sheet. Make sure they are well spread out, as they will expand!

Bake in the centre of the oven for 25 minutes. They should be a nice golden brown colour.

Leave the biscuits to cool on a wire rack.

Now it's time to melt your chocolate! Break your chocolate into small pieces and place in a glass bowl. Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Stir the chocolate as it melts to ensure it doesn't burn or clump.

Once all the pieces have fully melted, turn off the heat and take your bowl off the pan.
While the chocolate is still liquid, dip each of your biscuits into the chocolate. Make sure you get a nice thick coating on the bottom! Place the chocolate dipped biscuits on a plate and put in the fridge so the chocolate sets quickly.

Once the chocolate is set, they're ready to go.
They're perfect to have with a cup of tea, and are so easy to get through while watching GBBO!