A very snowy trip to New York!

Last month I visited New York, and anyone who knows me knows that this is my favourite place in the world, by a mile. But this time was very different, largely due to the fact that just before I flew out there was a blizzard.

I was supposed to fly out on Saturday 23rd January, however my flight was cancelled, as were all flights into the east coast of America, so I had to fly out on the Sunday instead. I was up all night panicking that our rearranged flight was going to be cancelled as well, but it wasn’t, it was only delayed by 5 hours, meaning that I had to sit around in London Heathrow and wait, which was a small price to pay considering what we saw once we landed at JFK airport. When we had landed, we saw that the runway was the only place which wasn’t covered in snow, which was pretty scary. Once we had taxied off the runway, the pilot had to shut down the engines and wait for a tow vehicle to tow us onto the stand, so that the aircraft didn’t skid and crash into the airport. It took us an hour to get from the runway to the stand, and we all had to keep our seatbelts on just in case. We then had the task of getting from the airport to our hotel, which was awful as well as none of the trains were running, so we had to wait for a while for the bus which took nearly 2 hours. I was falling asleep on the bus despite my excitement, which says a lot in itself about how long the journey actually was.

Once we had arrived at the hotel, we then dropped all of our stuff off and made our way to a very white Times Square, and I must say, in all the times I have been there I have never seen it that deserted. It was really pretty though, so after taking a few pictures and throwing a few snowballs at my dad we headed back to the hotel to get an early(ish) night.

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The Monday morning we woke up bright and early and headed up to central park, which was so beautiful in the snow. We made snow angels, threw snowballs, and generally just goofed around. It was so much fun! We then went to Grand Central Station, and took the subway to the 9/11 memorial and the One World Trade Center. As my dad had been up the World Trade Center before the terrorist attacks, he was excited to see what was there now.

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On Tuesday morning we headed to the Brooklyn Bridge, as this is something that neither of us had done before, and although I’m not a massive fan of bridges, I had a really nice walk. It took us about 45 minutes to get from one end to the other, but we stopped a few times to take pictures. We then walked through Brooklyn for a while before hopping back across the Hudson on the subway. We walked to the Staten Island ferry, as this is a great way to see the Statue of Liberty and the Manhattan skyline without paying a fortune. It’s about an hour round-trip and there are some great views. In the evening on Tuesday I went to New Jersey to see my friend Erika, who I met in summer 2014 whilst working at a summer camp, through Camp America. I boarded a train to Trenton, and she picked me up from the train station. I had a lovely time catching up with her, and I had a pizza burger, which was just amazing!

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On Wednesday we hired a car from Newark airport, and drove around New Jersey, Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens. I wanted to drive, but as I’m under 25 it would have cost the earth, so I just sat back and relaxed for the whole day. It was nice to not have to wrap up warm for the day as well, as it was sub-zero temperatures for the most part. I also enjoyed not having to do much, as every other day consisted of a lot of walking.

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On Thursday I did some research for my dissertation on the High Line, in Chelsea. I highly recommend to anyone who visits New York, to spend a few hours there, as it’s really peaceful, and a nice contrast between nature and the city. I then went to meet my dad, who had been to visit Intrepid, which I had already seen so there wasn’t much point to me going again. Afterwards I did a spot of shopping in Macy’s before heading to the Rockefeller Center for sunset. I’m so glad we went when we did because you get a fantastic view of the Manhattan skyline, and the sunset, and it’s nice to watch all the lights come on across the city. We then went to the ice skating rink where I spent about 30 minutes on the ice. It was something I’d wanted to do since I was young, and I’d never been at the right time to do so.

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On Friday we took the subway to the Yankee stadium and walked around for a while, and after spending some money in the gift shop we headed to Hoboken. Hoboken is a great place to go if you’re looking for some nice cheap food. It’s a $2.75 PATH train from the city, and takes you about 20 minutes. The view across the Hudson is great, and my dad’s friend lives there and showed us this great little German beer garden which sold my favourite food (Bratwurst and Sauerkraut) so that was an added bonus. Then we headed back to the hotel to get some rest before our long day on Saturday and the long journey home. IMG_9269

On Saturday morning we went to a small cafe for breakfast. It was called Brooklyn Bagel and Coffee Company, and they had all sorts of different flavours of cream cheese, and all the bagels were baked freshly. It was like heaven in my mouth, and I wish I could eat there every morning. After breakfast we went for a walk along the Hudson River Park, to Battery Park. It was very cold, however the views were fantastic and it was the perfect way to spend our last morning in NYC. We then said goodbye to America as we headed to the airport. IMG_9291

I have uploaded two videos to YouTube from my trip, one of which is a time lapse I took from the top of the Rockefeller Center, and the other is a video of some of the footage I filmed whilst there!

Happy New Year!

2015 was an absolutely incredible year for me, and I hope it was for you too! This year I decided to climb Mount Kilimanjaro, and in doing this I also visited Africa, a continent which I had never been to before, and in doing so kick-started my need to travel the world. I also partially conquered my horrendous fear of heights, by climbing the Barranco Wall, which is the scariest thing I have ever done, and took all my effort. I also met an amazing bunch of people who I got to share this amazing experience with and I will never forget the trip, or them.

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I spent a week in New York City, where I celebrated my 22 years on this beautiful planet by shopping in Macys, viewing the magical city from the top of the Empire State Building, and having some cocktails with my mum and brother in the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square. The day could only have been topped by an appearance from my dad, who was raising money for charity, so I guess I can get past that:).

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I also had the pleasure of meeting up with a girl I met whilst working on a summer camp in America, and flying out to Paris for a weekend with her. I had the nicest time, and visited so many places I’d wanted to visit for a while which I hadn’t (which was crazy seeing as I live so close). I loved every single minute of it, and I loved watching her be so excited by everything also. I wish I could go back and relive it all again:(.

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2015 was also the year in which I rediscovered my love for baking, and made some shortbread which my mum and dad have been begging me to make more of which is nice. And it was also the year I discovered blogging, and how nice it will be when I’m older to look back over my life and all the wonderful things I have done.

I’m so excited for 2016 and all it has to offer. I already have a trip booked with my dad to NYC at the end of January, and a trip booked for March to A State of Trance Festival in the Netherlands! I am also going to Chamonix, France for a university fieldtrip in April, and lets not forget the fact that I graduate! For the first time in 18 years I will be free from education, and will (if all goes as planned) have a BSc in Geography!

Making Pancakes!

Don’t get me wrong, British pancakes, or crepes, are delicious, but I find myself needing to have loads of them to fill myself up, and then feeling very sick. So, after searching for an alternative, I came across an American pancake recipe by Jamie Oliver and I am never going back. They are a bit more time-consuming to make than crepes, but totally worth it!


To make these you will need:

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  • 3 large free-range eggs
  • 115 g plain flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
  • 140 ml milk
  • 1 pinch salt

First separate the eggs, putting the whites into one bowl and the yolks into another. Add the flour, baking powder and milk to the yolks and mix to a smooth thick batter. Whisk the whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the batter – it is now ready to use.
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Heat a good non-stick pan on a medium heat. Pour some of your batter into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to look golden and firm. At this point sprinkle your chosen flavouring (I added chocolate chips) on to the uncooked side before loosening with a spatula and flipping the pancake over. Continue frying until both sides are golden.IMG_8871[1]
Once one is finished, transfer it to a plate and continue with the rest of the mixture. Stack them all on top of each other to create a proper American-style breakfast, and serve with whatever you enjoy. I chose to serve mine with bacon, as I love bacon so much and I honestly believe it goes with anything!IMG_8872[1]

 

 

A weekend in Paris!

I’ve just got back from an amazing weekend in Paris, and I just have to share just how good it was! Although we were only there from 4pm on Friday to 1pm on Sunday we managed to see most of the places we wanted to, and even had spare time for shopping.

Here’s a collection of photos I took, in chronological order, throughout the weekend:

12294622_10156392927235454_7742847331218550836_nOur first stop was Sacré-Cœur Basilica. This was a beautiful place and free to enter too! The architecture was incredible, and the inside of the cathedral takes your breath away. It reminded me a bit of Hogwarts.

12274205_10156392928095454_5075153329761700477_nOur next stop was the Arc De Triumph. I loved the way there was a huge French flag in the middle of the archway. We didn’t go over to it as it was getting quite late, and it was quite dark, and we wanted to have a look at all the Christmas lights down Champs-Élysées.

P1020838The Christmas lights down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées were so beautiful, everything was lit up. It really put me in the mood for Christmas. I especially loved the huge bow wrapped around the Cartier store. We walked down here for a while, until we got to the Christmas markets, which were a nice surprise as we didn’t know they were there. I had a crepe filled with nutella here, and it was to die for. I don’t think I fully realised how long the road would be, as I was absolutely shattered by the time we reached the end, and we only walked down one side!

P1020848The next morning we got up quite early as we wanted to walk around all the art museums, and had quite a busy day planned. We ended up exiting the metro at the wrong station, and had absolutely no idea where we were going. We finally figured out which way to go, and it took us through a beautiful park, which we probably would have spent more time in had it not been so cold.

12301703_10156397644085454_6040126313157052497_nOur first stop of the day was the Musée du Louvre, which I knew was big, but I didn’t realise just how big it actually was. We also hadn’t done any research about costs or anything, which didn’t end up mattering as I was allowed in for free, which was amazing. We saw so many things, the only thing I regret was that we weren’t able to spend more time in there, as it’s really one of those things you need a whole day for.

11222582_10156393102345454_8510285574642274135_nI was majorly impressed with how empty the museum was, but I guess it had something to do with the recent events in Paris deterring tourists. Here’s a photo of me with Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa!

12310685_10156397644575454_6533187793742047624_nThe next thing on our to-do list was the Musée d’Orsay. I was particularly interested to see Van Gogh’s artwork, as I had previously studied him in grammar school, where we tried to (but failed to) recreate his artwork. Here’s a snap I took of his self-portrait. One thing that makes me particularly interests me about this piece of art is how he managed to do it. He must have had to sit in the same position and paint at the same time. I’d also definitely recommend taking a look at the 5th floor, where there are pieces of art by Monet and Degas, and they are particularly beautiful.

12321629_10156397682935454_3143338057386824311_nWe then took a rather long walk to the Notre-Dame Cathedral which was also stunning (like everything else in Paris). The queue to get inside was quite long, however there is an awful lot to see whilst you’re waiting, including the gargoyles on the top. The stained glass windows were my favourite thing about the Cathedral, as they really are beautiful. Given the amount of tourist roaming the Cathedral, I liked how quiet it was inside, and I liked all the candles and prayers dotted about.

P1020860Our final stop on Saturday was the Eiffel Tower, which is amazing. I don’t think you really understand how tall it is until you stand right next to it and look up, as there’s nothing in Paris to compare it to.

P1020873We had tickets to go up the Eiffel Tower at 8pm, which was great as we avoided the queues. I was surprised at the size of the queue for people wanting to take the stairs, as it was so windy, I’d have been terrified, but then again I do have an irrational fear of heights. The views were insane, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything quite like it. Unlike the Empire State Building and the Rockefeller in NYC where you can hear all the traffic down below, it’s quite peaceful at the top, and you can see for miles.

P1020881Here’s a photo of me at the top, with my Black Friday shopping. I think it was at this point when I felt the tower move from the force of the high winds that evening, because you can see the fear in my eyes. Overall, I’d definitely recommend going right to the top of the Eiffel Tower, just not on a cold, windy evening in November.

P1020900To finish off our weekend, we went back to the Arc De Triumph on Sunday morning and went onto the actual island itself. It was absolutely astonishing, from the statues on the side to the memorials on the walls, ceilings and floors, it was beautiful.

Overall I really enjoyed our weekend in one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited. The only thing I would have changed is the length of time, as I would have loved to have spent more time in the museums, and see even more of the city.

Oreo Cupcakes!

So I love oreos, and I love cupcakes, so I found a recipe that incorporated the two on Tanya Burr’s YouTube channel and decided to have a go at making them. They took me about an hour to make in total, and were really simple as well. And the result was heaven!


Here’s what you will need:

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  • 175g butter
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 pack oreos

For the icing:

  • 100g butter (at room temperature)
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1/2 pack oreos

To decorate:

  • 1 pack oreos

Preheat the oven to 180°c and line 1 muffin tray with 12 cupcake cases. Pop an oreo in the bottom of the cupcake cases to create a hidden surprise. Smooth the butter in a large mixing bowl and add in the caster sugar and mix. Add in the 3 eggs and mix. Then add in the baking powder, flour and cocoa powder and mix them up. Then pop an even amount of mixture into the cases and place in the oven for about 20 minutes. Check after about 15 minutes to make sure they aren’t burning (everybody’s oven is different).

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Now its time to make the icing. Beat the butter until it’s smooth. Then gradually add the butter until it’s all mixed and looks yummy. Then crumble half a pack of oreos and add them into the mixture. Then when the cupcakes are cool add a small amount of the buttercream on to the top of the cupcakes and add half an oreo to finish. Voila! You’re cupcakes are finished and ready to eat!

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Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies!

My brother has been making these cookies for years, so I decided to give them a try. I’ve had the recipe written out on a piece of paper for ages, so I can’t even give credit to whoever came up with the recipe, but they are delicious. They take about 10 minutes to prepare, and about 10-15 minutes to bake, so they are very quick and easy to make. So here’s how you bake them:


What you will need:

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  • 125g unsalted butter (at room temperature)
  • 90g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 175g self raising flour
  • 90g milk
  • 90g chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 180°c and grease two trays. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy. Add the egg, egg yolk, vanilla essence, flour, milk and half the chocolate chips. Mix this well until its thoroughly combined. It should look a bit like this…

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Then, using 2 teaspoons, place small balls of the mixture onto the trays. Space them apart slightly to allow room for spreading. Press the remaining half of the chocolate chips onto the balls of cookie dough and press them into the mixture.

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Place these into the oven for 10-15 minutes until pale golden. Leave the cookies on the tray for around 2 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely. Then, enjoy!

Chester Zoo!

Firstly, let me just air my opinion on zoos. I do not like the way in which animals are taken from the wild and put on display for humans with small enclosures. I think it’s very wrong and animals should be left in their own habitats to thrive. However, if these animals were released back into the wild, they would be very vulnerable, and I also feel like that is wrong. So I will spend money going to a zoo to learn about these animals, and to appreciate them, and to give money to the zoo to ensure that the small enclosures that they do have are maintained, and they are fed correctly.

We made the mistake of going to the zoo during the school half term, so it was very busy and full of screaming children running riot. However, the weather was nice enough and we still managed to have fun so it was fine. The elephant house was closed as well due to a recent outbreak of elephant herpes, which was upsetting (not for us, for the elephants), as elephants are my favourite animals. We started off by walking to see the monkeys, and making our way around to see the lions, giraffes, bats etc. The zoo is very easy to navigate around with a map given to you on the park gate, and also an app which you can download for free which has a map on it. I’d definitely recommend following the map, as we didn’t and we ended up walking around in circles trying to find the animals which we hadn’t seen. image1 (3)

We also visited the aquarium, which was lovely, however I think I liked the coral better that any of the fish, because personally sea creatures creep me out. The seahorses and the starfish were quite cool though. I like how starfish pretty much walk along surfaces with their hundreds of tiny little legs. I think they look like pretty little millipede in the ocean. 
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The jaguar enclosure was quite cool, as they had recreated a rainforest inside, with high temperatures, to make the jaguar comfortable. I didn’t like the fact that there was a sloth above though. He (or she) looked very lonely and scared, and he was just quite high above our heads cuddled up in the corner of the room. image2 (2)image5 (1) image3 (2)

I definitely recommend a day out at Chester Zoo. I will be returning soon, as we ran out of time and I really wanted to go and see the Islands exhibition, which is basically a trip through South East Asian Islands, and they have crocodiles there too.

Making Pizza!

Ok, so pizza is one of my favourite foods in the whole world, and I honestly used to think that every time I wanted a pizza I had to order a thin crust hawaiian pizza from Pizza Hut. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing bad about sitting on the sofa watching your favourite film, with your favourite take out, however for me I love nothing more than to eat a pizza which I’ve made from scratch. It’s very simple to make, doesn’t take very long, and there’s lots of breaks in the middle for you to do whatever you want. You can also put whatever you want on top to make your perfect pizza.


What you will need:

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  • 250g of strong white flour (I used pasta flour because I think it works better)
  • 1/2 tsp fast-action dried yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 150ml lukewarm water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and make 2 holes. One of these holes is for the yeast, and the other for the salt. Once you have added these stir into the flour using a small metal spoon, making sure that the yeast and the salt do not directly mix with each other (salt kills the yeast therefore the dough will not rise). Then make a hole in the middle of this mixture and pour in the olive oil and about half the water. Mix using a wooden spoon. Then this is the messy bit, add a bit more of the water and bind the mixture together with your hands (please make sure you wash your hands). Don’t add too much water as you don’t want the dough to become really sticky. Then take the dough out of the bowl and knead it for around ten minutes. Finish by making the mixture a round shape. You then want to lightly oil a large bowl, pop the mixture into the bowl and cover with a clean, dry tea towel (you can also use clingfilm, I just find a tea towel a lot easier to use). Leave this to rise for around an hour, until it’s doubled in size.

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Preheat the oven to 220°c. After an hour take the dough out of the bowl and knead for another 2-3 minutes on a lightly floured surface until smooth. You can use the dough to make 1 big pizza, or smaller pizzas just by cutting the dough. Roll and stretch the dough (using a rolling pin) to the size that you want it. You can make a rim around the edge, add cheese inside to make a stuffed crust, or just leave it as it is if your like me and tend to not eat the crust. Put the base onto a pizza tray (its a lot easier to do this now before you add the topping so you don’t spill anything), add whatever toppings you might like and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes. If your having smaller pizzas I’d recommend checking around 15 minutes, and if they’re done take them out. Now all that’s left is for you to enjoy your pizza!!

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You can also make some pretty tasty garlic bread out of any leftover dough by rolling it out quite thin, and adding some butter mixed with crushed garlic cloves.

Funfetti Cupcakes

I’m pretty new to baking, and this afternoon I found a nice and easy recipe to get me started. I found it on Zoella’s vlog and these are honestly the nicest and prettiest things I think I’ve ever made. I’ve never thought of myself as a baker, but I feel like after the amount of fun I had in the kitchen today, I might start baking an awful lot more. I’ve even started researching some more recipes to try.


Here’s what you will need:

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For the cupcakes

  • 2 large eggs
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 125g Butter (room temperature)
  • 125g Self raising flour
  • Multicoloured sprinkles
  • 1/4 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Whole milk

And for the icing:

  • 335g sifted Icing sugar
  • 150g Unsalted butter (room temperature)
  • 1/4 tsp Vanilla extract
  • 1-2 tbsp milk

Preheat the oven to 170°c. Pop all the ingredients for the cupcakes (except for the multicoloured sprinkles) into a large mixing bowl. Whisk the mixture until its smooth. Now here’s the fun part, you can add as many sprinkles as you like. Its totally up to you! Add a large amount if you want a large burst of colour in the middle, and a small amount if you don’t. Put cupcake cases into a cupcake tray and fill them around halfway with the mixture. Now pop them in the oven for around 20 minutes until they are cooked!

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Once taking them out of the oven prod a small metal skewer into the middle of each one and ensure that the skewer comes out clean. If it doesn’t no need to worry, just pop them back into the oven for another couple of minutes until it does! This is just to ensure that they are properly cooked. Now leave the cupcakes to one side to cool and start on the icing. Put the butter into a mixing bowl and whisk until its smooth and creamy. Now slowly pour the icing sugar in a small amount at a time and continue whisking until there’s no more white powder in the bowl. Then all you need to add is 1-2 tablespoons of milk and 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract and mix that in. Then (making sure that the cakes are cool) pop the buttercream icing into piping bags and pipe in circles around the top of the cakes and add more multicoloured sprinkles, just like the picture below!

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Here’s Zoella’s video of the funfetti cupcakes if you want to watch her make them.

p.s. how cute are my owl cupcake cases!! I bought them from Tesco for £1.22 for 100 (there’s only 25 owl cases) 😦