Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Travel Diary - Day 7


We arrived in Bath by 11am after a beautiful country dive through green rolling hills. The arrival brougt welcoming scenes of terrace lined hills overlooking the ancient city. Our journey took us straight to the Roman Baths, thought to be originally built by King Bladud in 836BC then taken over by the Romans in 60-70AD who continued expansions over the next 300 years. Sadly, very little remains of the ancient site and although many archeological projects have been conducted since, it is still hard to imagine the greatness of the Baths in the time of the Romans. 

The Baths were rich in history however, with many ancient artifacts displayed; statues, temple walls, tablets, coins and columns, just to name a few. There was so much to take in and I remember very little of the information that we heard through our audio tour! If you love anicent civilizations as much as me, you can read here and here for more.

After our tour of Bath, we set off to our next destination and our home for the next 2 nights, Buckinghamshire. We stopped in High Wycombe to get supplies for our first glamping (Going camping, but with glamour. A combination of the two words. It's like regular camping , but with nicer things than usual, being warmer, and more comfortable. Glamping isn't done by usual outdoor types who climb mountains - Urban Dictionary) experience. I was quite apprehensive about our stay at Kingfisher Yurt but I couldn't have been more wrong! 

To be continued...

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Millionaires Shortbread

On our trip to London this tea time treat became a staple in our diet. They sell it everywhere and it is very addictive therefore once we were back in Dubai with no where to buy Millionaires Shortbread, I had to make my own. It is just as good and eating it is so much more pleasurable knowing you've made it yourself. Here is the recipe:


For the base -
250g plain flour
1/2 cup caster sugar
175g or 3/4 cup unsalted butter

For the filling - 
100g unsalted butter, diced
1/2 cup light muscovado (brown) suagr
2 x 397g can sweetened condensed milk

200g milk or dark chocolate for topping, whichever you prefer.

- Preheat oven to 180C. Lightly grease and line a 33 x 23cm swiss roll tin.
- Combine flour and caster sugar in a bowl then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine bread crumbs. Mixture should be able to hold together when pushed, however you do not want to knead the dough. Place into the prepared tin and press mixture evenly throughout. Use the back of a spoon to smooth mixture out.
- Prick all over with a fork and bake for 20mins or until firm to the touch and very light brown. 
- Leave in tin to cool.
- To make the filling, put the butter, muscovado sugar and condensed milk into a saucepan and heat gently, whisking until the sugar has dissolved. 
- Bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer gently, continue to stir for about 10-15mins or until it has thickened and turned a caramel colour. Take care that the mixture does not burn on the base of the pan. Remove from heat. 
- Pour caramel over the cooled shortbread base, spread evenly and leave to cool completely. 
- Melt chocolate in heatproof bowl in microwave then pour over cooled caramel. 
- Allow chocolate to set then cut into rectangles. This dessert freezes well and keeps best in the fridge.
*Makes around 12 rectangles.  

Melanie xo

Friday, 25 October 2013

Travel Diary - Day 6

Welcome to the Cotswolds! We left London early morning to head towards Chipping Campden, one of the picturesque towns within the Cotwolds. Once we were off the highway we began to drive through beautiful country roads, small and winding surrounded by green rolling hills. The romantic leafy tree tunnels were my favourite! Our first stop was Burford and the arrival was picture perfect. I couldn't quite believe what I was seeing. The view began atop a small hill, which the high street started. It was lined with tiny stone cottages, flower filled windows and a cobblestone road. Burford town was kept beautifully, flowers blossomed and shops retained the vintage ethos. We explored an antique shop where I found a sweet antique tea cup, saucer and plate. After a stroll down the high street and a quick visit to the sweet shop, we began the drive through Stow on the Wold and eventually into Chipping Campden. We found a 16th century market place in the historical town, and found the perfect venue for lunch. We had Afternoon Tea for 2 in The Tea Room; cheesey crumpets, tea cakes, lemon drizzle cake, scones with clotted cream and house tea. I'd go back just for the tea and crumpets. From there we left for Bourton on the Water, aka the Little Venice of the UK. This was my husbands favourite Cotswolds town. We walked along the water and through the small winding streets. It was FULL of tourists, unike the other towns we had visited. From there we left for Cheltenham, the Spa town of the Cotswolds.

Cheltenham is very big compared to its Cotswolds siblings, with a mix of old and new architecture. Our hotel in Cheltenham, The Montpellier Chapter was beautiful, it had kept its old Victorian charm but had an amazing refurbish inside. It sat at the end of a tree line street, with beautiful views of the surrounding buildings.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Travel Diary - Day 5 - BRIGHTON

Day 5 of our journey took us on a long drive to Brighton.a seaside town in the south east of England. I had high hopes for this pebble lined shore but was sadly disappointed. The seaside terraces that lined the coast were beautiful and I can imagine would of been simply gorgeous in their hey day but I was not expecting the tacky, generic and gaudy games, pokies and sad looking faces that greeted us at the pier. Brighton Pier has SO much potential but sadly has been used as a money making venture for lonely hearts. I hope that once upon a time the pier was filled with elegant flapper dressed ladies, suit clad gentlemen and beautiful old Rolls Royce'. The picture did however turn out beautifully, I was thankful for the gloomy weather.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Travel Diary - Day 4

Central London - We took the tube to Green Park early in the morning and when we emerged from the underground the sun was out and shining, as was the majority of Londoners on this day! One of the things I loved about being in UK was that everyone took full advantage of the warm rays, something that we take very much for granted in the Middle East.

The view of the park as we entered was so beautiful, there were couples relaxing, business men having a lay down in their lunch hour, squirrels playing and the rich green landscape that reminded me of home. We sat down and had a picnic in the park, it was one of the best moments we shared whilst in London. After our picnic and a long relaxation we walked down through the tree lined promenade to Buckingham Palace. We joined the rest of the tourists waiting to catch a glimpse of the Royals but as expected we were most unlucky! From the Palace we walked to Knights Bridge, home of Harrods.

Harrods was way beyond my expectations. It was beautiful. Not only the luxurious bags, gowns and jewels caught my eye but most of all the elaborate architecture and design was magnificent. Each room had a different theme, one of my favourites was the Egypt Room. If only I could of experienced it in the mid 20th century along with Charlie Chaplin, Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier.

My sweet husband took me fora much needed afternoon tea and The Tea Room at Harrods. After so much walking it was so nice to sit and have tea and cakes. It would have to be the most perfect afternoon tea I've ever had! Watch the short video below.

Although I did not want to depart from dear Harrods, it was time to take the train home and rest before dinner at the famous Tayyubs! We waited in line at the famous Indian restaurant for 45mins before getting a table but as promised, it was well worth the wait. The food was ah-mazing as was the atmosphere.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Travel Diary - Day 3

We started our day of bright and early - a day planned in Central London.

We took the train to Marble Arch, a 19th century white marble triumphal arch, ate a quick lunch at my favourite sandwich place, Pret a Manger, then took a long stroll through Hyde Park. I was expecting to see some horse drawn carriages through the park lanes but unfortunately there were none! Hyde Park was very beautiful and picturesque, with the swan filled large lake, playful squirrels and colorful deck chairs strewn throughout the lawns.


From Hyde Park we walked down Oxford Street, visited Selfridges and then ventured to Liberty London. I most certainlly fell in love with Liberty London, 4 floors of beautiful furniture, vintage pieces and antiques, beauty, home accessories and fashion.


We walked to the original Hamleys, 5 floors of childrens paradise! We overheard one little girl state, "Oh no, this is the last floor!". Her poor parents!

We ended our day with Leicster Square, the Times Square of London then a long walk back to the station.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Travel Diary - Day 1 & 2

So we are back from our 2 week holiday from Europe and slowly getting back into 'normal' life. I never notced before how nice & peaceful holidays were, this trip there was no talk of work or things to do. Just exploring, shopping and eating! I'm already planning our next getaway!

Although our holiday was peaceful it was also rather busy. Everyday we were doing something and had so much to cram into our 2 weeks, I dont think I even get that much done when I'm at home! Our trip started in London and ended in Paris. I learnt from my great grandfather, Lorny, that keeping a diary is a must - I decided to carry on this tradition on mine and my husband's first holiday together. So we begin...

Day 1: Departed Dubai for Doha, a 50min flight then from Doha to London. Our flight from Dubai was delayed and therefore missed our connection to London, so we waited and extra 3 hours for our London flight. We arrived very late into London so stayed at a nearby hotel for the night.

Day 2: Woke up very early and got ready to begin our holiday! We went to see where my husband grew up, his school and the tree lined street where he last lived in London. It is exactly what any Australian would picture as the ideal English street! We arrived to his uncle and aunt's house where we stayed whilst in London and then had to get ready for a friends wedding that evening. The wedding was beautiful, a traditional pakistani wedding in an English manor house. The bride looked beautiful in her cream and red gown. We all took full advantage of the sweets table!