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Tuesday, 30 April 2013


7) If you can- cook your own food!

Personally, I got all giggly at the thought of cooking across Europe. I couldn't wait to fill a shopping basket with fresh, accessible ingredients from all the local markets and then cook them up in my little Tuscan villa and enjoy a bottle of Vin Santo for dessert. Obviously, it's not quite like this, there turns out to be a lot of eating Philadelphia out the packet, 'Bolognese' crisps for dinner and platform McDonald's. There was also a hilarious incident in Paris, whilst attempting to be all 'French' we bought a mystery cheese and a baguette. Needless to say, the cheese smelt funny and ended up out the window. But when you can cook your own dinner- or can be bothered to, I really encourage it! There are loads of great places to buy food and it doesn't have to be too complicated. And of course, the most important thing is that in the long run it's a lot cheaper to cook fresh. So when looking for hostels; go with ones that have communal kitchens.


8) Take a backpack. Or Two.

This may seem obvious, but when planning our Eurotrip one of my friends asked if a suitcase would be suitable? The answer is no. Suitcases don't travel well on cobbled streets in Florence. They're also very unhelpful when trying to cross the road in Amsterdam; think cyclists, an army of them. They also don't fit into overhead compartments on trains and it's unlikely you'll always be able to grab that end of train luggage holder. Lastly, if you did want to take a mini flight to a Spanish island as we did (flights cheaper than ferries), Easyjet will make you pay for that fat suitcase. Which is why I come to my second point; the second backpack. A very useful item for day travel, carrying those important maps, cameras and tupperware lunches. If you can get a collapsable/foldable backpack, it doesn't have to be too big and then it can easily fit inside your main backpack, say inside a side pocket.

The trusty second backpack.

9) Be Prepared for ALL WEATHER

Aside from snow, we experienced pretty much everything else. I'm talking scorching, skin burning heatwaves in Rome, hail and thunderstorms in Berlin and torrential rain and wind in Antwerp. The general rule is that when you move away from the Mediterranean, things seem to get a bit more British, and can go from beautiful sunshine to grey skies of evil in a split second. So, in my mothers best tone, don't forget the following: sunscreen, sunglasses, a massive bottle of water, a raincoat or poncho, a waterproof bag protector and a sun hat! I'd stress the importance of the water and the sun hat the most, I fainted in the Vatican City and it wasn't from a holy experience either.

Grey skies in Belgium!

Saturday, 27 April 2013


One of the reasons I love living in Leeds is finding treasures like Ambiente in Calls Landing. Overlooking the canal on a sunny, spring afternoon was a perfect way to enjoy the tapas treats of Ambiente. Inside, the restaurant/sherry bar adopts a modern barn-like decor, with touches of Spanish interior influence. The menu itself was described to us as Spanish-inspired Tapas dishes, but with some flavour influences from North Africa and also Yorkshire . Rarely do I look at a menu and think I could happily try everything on it, but Ambiente's simple arrange of Tapas dishes meant I was spoilt for choice. Always looking for a bargain, me and my flatmate Lauren booked in for an early dinner to grab the 3 dishes for £9.95 offer (Mon-Fri 12-5pm)  
and picked out a range of dishes from  the many choices. Eventually we went for a duo of cumin studded pork belly and pork kebabs with a moreish red pepper sauce, crunchy calamari and aioli, classic patatas bravas, creamy mushrooms and some black bean fritters accompanied by chesnut purée. Admittedly, my favourite dish were the pork kebabs, tenderly cooked and wonderfully smothered in tangy, sweet piquillo mayonnaise. For me the mushrooms, however, were a little too garlic-oil friendly and the tarragon cream was hardly present  But other than that the other dishes were incredible, I even loved the Calamari, which is shocking for someone who isn't a big fan of seafood. The menu offered much more, and I'd urge anyone to try it out, as there is something for everyone on there. It may have been a bit early for me when I visited, although I was tempted by an afternoon glass of red , but there is also an extensive wine list and a mix of eclectic sherry-based cocktails. Ambiente is a great place for all occasions, light lunches, celebrations or leisurely dinners, offering a great location and extensive, exciting menu. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

Making Breakfast Interesting

Breakfast can be one of my favourite meals of the day, especially when you have the right ingredients to make it so. Often breakfast for students is something quick and easy, more often than not it is something most of us skip completely. However, I'm a bit old-fashioned and I think breakfast is something to be enjoyed, something that's going to start your day off in a good way. Here are some of the things I make on an everyday week basis, most of which are quick and easy to make, but taste a bit better than a slightly burnt bit of toast with a scrape of butter.

Idea 1: Yoghurt with a sprinkle of oats and jam. Trust me when I say this is amazing and it's as easy as just putting one thing on top of another. At home, I have a range of homemade plum and cherry jams from our garden (awh), the one I've used here is a cherry and vanilla jam. Jam really isn't that hard to make y'know. 

Idea 2: Stacked American-style mango pancakes with cinnamon vanilla peanut butter, chopped mango, raspberries and crushed walnuts. This was my indulgent breakfast of the week. I made this on a Saturday morning, when I woke up late with a mini-hangover and felt like I deserved a treat. A good tip for making pancakes is making a mix of the dry ingredients and keeping them in a jar, so you only need to add the wet ingredients when doing the final mix. 

Idea 3: Homemade porridge with peanut butter and chopped banana. This is one of my most versatile breakfasts. You can make the oats in so many different ways and with so many flavours. For example, I made these oats the lazy way in the microwave but you can also cook them over the hob. Mixing up the flavours can also be fun, as you can add different fresh, dried fruits and nuts, different types of butter and the flavour of the porridge itself! (Gingerbread porridge is very warming and wintery).

I would be happy to provide any recipes for jams, pancakes and oats that I've used or adapted, but I'm not claiming to be a complete breakfast expert- there are plenty of great recipes out there and looking for them is half the fun...or is that just my idea of fun...? Anyway, I hope this has proved that breakfast doesn't have to be something we regard as a necessity, but something we can look forward to when we wake up. Happy breakfast-ing! 

Friday, 12 April 2013


4. Eat Eclairs at Blé Sucré

If you haven't worked it out by now, I'm a foodie, a big one. Additionally my favourite kind of food is the baked good kind. Let me tell you, although I haven't sampled all of the eclairs from all of the patisseries in the world (as much as I'd like to) these ones do come top of my list. Blé Sucré is located on Rue Antoine Vollon, so quite off the beaten track and away from the hordes of tourists, looking for a perect macaroon. Other items to look out for are the; 'best iced madelines in Paris', delicate millefeuille's and flaky pain au chocolat's. Highly recommend to anyone with a sweet tooth and passion for beautiful desserts. 

5. Invest in a cushion/well-padded jumper

This trip will exhaust you. You will be physically and emotionally drained from carrying that huge rucksack around Munich whilst trying to keep your watercolour from Italy uncrumpled. Most of the sleeping you do will probably be on long train trips, you won't be getting much sleep in the 13 bed hostel in Bilbao let me tell you that. I therefore advise you to invest in a cushion, one of those round-the-neck ones will do, or one of those funny-animal-foam ones if you have space for it. If neither of those will do, just do what I did, find a nice soft jumper and rest your head on that.

6. You might lose clothes...

This is something you should be prepared for. It can be very saddening, especially when it's your favourite t-shirt or a VITAL pair of underwear. But don't worry, it happens to everyone! Everyone in my group lost something, I lost around 3 items of clothes. Another friend lost his sunglasses and another lost her best dress. The key here is to not take anything too expensive or personally important to you, no matter how good they make you look in photos. If you just must take your Burberry rain mac (what's wrong with a floral poncho...?) then you probably need a bag padlock. Although saying this, you'll probably still lose something, because you left it on the floor of your room in Ljubljana.  


Yep. Lost that whole outfit.                                 You won't be getting much sleep in that will you.

Friday, 5 April 2013


Another one of my Leeds favourites has got to be Cattle Grid. Bear in mind, this is not one for veggies. The menu is basically meat and meat, with a side of meat. The restaurant itself is a very cool, laid back steakhouse with big open windows, decorated with pictures of cows everywhere, just to remind you of the restaurants prime product. The best thing about Cattle Grid, is that for a steakhouse and grill, it is very reasonably priced. For example, on my first visit, a very convenient offer on ribs got me a full rack of ribs and chips for £10. The second time I visited, I splashed out a little more; I ordered a harissa and buffalo mozzarella burger with a side of chips to share. Of course, the burger was absolutely huge, and perfectly cooked; still a little pink in the middle. It was complemented perfectly by the tangy harissa and smooth mozzarella, and I can honestly say, it is one of the best burgers I've ever eaten. I would recommend this place to anyone visiting Leeds and apparently also in London, as it turns out they have a couple of branches there!

Check out the menu here:

p.s I will start to take photos soon (it's difficult getting over the awkwardness of taking photos of food but I'm getting there)

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


This is my Nigella-adapted Muffin recipe that I chose over making your standard Hot Cross Bun Recipe for Easter this year. It calls for a more indulgent breakfast,which is perfect; warmed up in the microwave, covered in butter with a big mug of tea.


125g of mini butterscotch pieces
124ml of sunflower oil
3 bananas
250g of plain flour
100g of caster sugar
2 eggs
a teaspoon of baking powder
half a teaspoon of bicarb of soda


Muffins are a great starter baking recipe. They don't need to be perfect, in fact, the more lumpy, the more perfect.

Pre heat oven to 200°C   Line a 12 bun muffin tin with muffin cases. Whisk the eggs and sunflower oil together. Mash up the bananas (don't leave them out too long or they will start to go brown). Mix the dry ingredients together. Then mix everything in together. Lots of mixing, no hassle. Scoop into the muffin tin and bake for 20 mins. Once they're done- eat them all.