Sunday, 7 July 2019

Cookbook Review - Bish Bash Bosh

The original Bosh! (exclamation mark theirs, not mine) was one of my favourite books of 2018. I love their modern, fun take on plant-based food where there are just as many recipes for burgers and curries as there are for salads and smoothies. I found it one of the most accessible of all my vegan books and would definitely recommend it as an "entry-level" plant based book. I still cook from it regularly, with the BBQ kebabs, sweet potato korma and sweet and sour tofu being my faves.

I pre-ordered Bish Bash Bosh as soon as I knew about it and couldn't wait to cook from it. The only downside was, it came out the week before we got married, so with the stress of the final details, the wedding itself and then our minimoon, it was actually a couple of weeks before I got to properly cook from it!

First Impressions
Obviously my expectations on this one were super high, and I was not disappointed from my first few flicks. There were so many recipes I wanted to make!
I also got my copy from Waterstones so I got bonus recipes and it was signed both by Ian and Henry, so that was nice!

It's not completely clear if this is a "themed" book, but mostly feels like a traditional sequel to the original, rather than having a focus on specific types of recipes, but as I loved the original so much that was fine.

Here's what I made...

Bang Bang Noodle Salad
Remember that very brief warm period a few weeks ago? Yeah no me neither. But once upon a time it was warm and I made this salad for tea. It was super easy and tasty, with a delicious peanutty dressing (I'm a sucker for any kind of peanut butter sauce). I swapped out a few veg but I like that it's the kind of recipe where you can just swap in whatever you have and smother it in delicious sauce.

Piri Piri Bake
This was a bit of a manic and long cook, despite the intro describing it as quick and easy. It took about an hour, and that was including microwaving the sweet potatoes (just to add, I love that it recommended this as an option. It's just such a quick fix, especially if you don't know you can do it, and it's perfect in a recipe like there where there's a lot going on). There's a lot to do and there isn't an awful lot of down time. For a "roasting-tin-esque" recipe I found it quite intense!

You have your sweet potatoes, then you have to roast some veg, then you make some veggie "chorizo" and then you make homemade Piri Piri sauce. Phew! 

I really liked it and the idea, but I'm not sure the end result was quite worth the effort but I could definitely adapt it with plain veggie sausages and a bottle of Nando's sauce!

Sweet potato tagine
I love a tagine and this was super easy. It took about 45 minutes but never felt manic, and it relied on Ras el hanout and harissa which mean once you've bought those you can easily throw this together with whatever other veg you have to use up. Next time I'd definitely mix it up as the sweet potato got a bit boring after a while, and I think some peppers and mushrooms would be a great addition.

Aubergine Katsu
I made this when a friend came over for dinner as Phil isn't a huge aubergine fan. I'm a bit nervous about shallow frying but it seemed to go okay. The sauce was delicious but I should have used double the amount for two of us as I found it a bit dry. I would make this again but probably with tofu.

Shepherd's Pie
This is classic Sunday food - something comforting that takes longer than I'd bother with on a weekday. It was quite faffy, and there's quite a lot going on, but I was interested in the combo of red wine, sundried tomatoes and Marmite. In the end the red wine seemed quite overpowering so perhaps it didn't cook off enough, and the texture of mine felt quite mushy, but this might have been because I swapped the (expensive) puy lentils for (cheap) green ones. I do really like the use of "mushroom mince" which is something they use in the first book, but I'm not sure it quite accounts for all the liquid that mushrooms produce once cooked.

It said it served 4-6 and I got 6 good portions out of it with peas and broccoli. It wasn't my favourite shepherd's pie but I know Phil really enjoyed it so I might adapt it for another time.

This was a bonus recipe, and when I looked it up I couldn't seem to find anyone else doing a vegan Ximxim which was weird! So I didn't really know what this was or what to expect so I definitely cannot vouch for its authenticity! It's apparently a Brazillian dish with peanut butter and coconut milk, and this version is made with squash, aubergine and okra. I didn't have okra so I used mushrooms. It was really tasty and even got Phil eating aubergine which is always a plus! I would definitely make the sauce again with different veg.

Speedy Spaghetti
Anna Jones' lemon and kale spaghetti has legendary status in our house. It was the first thing I ever cooked in our house, it's Phil's favourite thing I make and I bet I've made it a dozen times (which is a lot for me who rarely remakes a recipe!). This follows a very similar format of creating a sauce from the starchy spaghetti water but with a slightly different sauce with olives and basil. I made a bit of a mess of it and had the heat on too high, so the water evaporated a bit too quickly to cook the spaghetti fully so I had to top it up a bit which I think affected the final flavour. I'd definitely give this another go as an alternative to our fave!

Singapore Noodles
Stir fry is one of my favourite ways to clear out the fridge, so this was perfect for a Thursday night. Really easy and tasty and really simple to adapt. I topped it with my favourite crispy tofu. Definitely one to make again.

Neuvos Rancheros
From my first look through the book this was one of the recipes I was most excited to make. I love weekend brunch and this sounded absolutely perfect. I halved it as it was just for the two of us, but I did use a full can of tinned tomatoes as it seemed a bit dry. We topped it with avocado, spring onions and cherry tomatoes but the whole thing was a bit one-note a disappointing despite being a bit of a faff to make! 

Sweet potato tikka masala
The Bosh boys are big on making their own curry pastes, which is cool, but my Nutribullet is a bit knackered so I'm always a bit nervous about getting it out! So in this case I decided to skip blending the tikka masala sauce so there was one less thing to wash up!

The sauce was absolutely insane and tasted just like a tikka masala - in fact it was my favourite thing I made from the book! It's quite hands on and time consuming so I don't think it's something I'd make too often midweek, but I'm definitely keen to make the paste again and mix up the veg. A huge success!

Vietnamese Tofu
"Add this to the list, mate" - Phil loved this one! Crispy tofu in a sticky sauce is right up my street so I knew I'd love this. I didn't want to buy coconut water, so I used the liquid from the top of a can of coconut milk and used the rest to make coconut rice in my Instant Pot as a side (in hindsight, a bit overkill with the sweetness of this sauce!). It was very rich and sweet and maybe a little bit too rich for midweek, but I'd definitely make it again on a weekend!

I would say this is a step up from their first book, which I think is their intention. The first book is very accesible for both a beginner cook and a beginner vegan, whereas I think this goes a step further without being overly complicated or requiring too many weird ingredients.

I would definitely recommend it as a complement to the first one and I know I'll be picking it up a lot! A great addition to any shelf, vegan or otherwise.

June Life Lately

June has been quiet, but in a really nice way. It hasn't been filled with weekends away or big events, but instead lots of lovely little things - dinner parties, birthday parties, shopping trips, seeing friends. It's been one of those months where I don't have lots to blog about, but it's been really great. It's been nice to not have a stuffed calendar, and instead have a more relaxing time and even, I'm not kidding, be a bit spontaneous! 

Here's what I got up to in June, and here's my One Second Every Day for the month!:

Where I've been
We always said if Liverpool won the Champion's League (or the league, sob), we would go to Liverpool for the parade, so of course, before the final whistle had blown and we'd even stopped crying, we were making plans for Sunday afternoon. In the end we managed to convince Phil's Mum to come along, and we drove up to Liverpool and picked up Phil's sister along the way, who lives there.

We got to the docks by the Liver Building at 3.30pm, giving us plenty of time until the parade started at 4. The atmosphere was insane. Everyone had a shirt on (we even brought some of our spare shirts so Phil's Mum and sister had one each to wear), everyone was chanting and singing. It was warm and a beautiful day. It was amazing.

We had no phone signal, so we had no idea what was going on or where the bus was. After 2 hours of waiting, and starting to get tired and impatient, a speaker appeared and welcomed us to the parade. This is it, we thought, it's around the corner! They're going to be here soon. "The victory bus is an hour and a half away". 


We nearly bottled it. We nearly left our cushdy spot for a place earlier in the parade. Phil's Mum and sister went to get something to drink and Phil encouraged me to get out my book.

But then, they arrived. And it was glorious. You know all the photos you've seen of the red flares down by the docks? That was right where we were. In the middle of all of it. Looking back now I don't think about the 4 hour wait. I think about those glorious few minutes, seeing the boys on the bus with the trophy. And it was all worth it.

For my Birthday, Phil had bought me tickets to a double bill of The Godfather films (I specifically do not refer to The Godfather 3 which I pretend to not exist) at the local old theatre We'd been looking forward to it for months! So a few weeks ago we packed a bag full of sweets and hunkered down for 7 hours of cinema. After the first film we had an hour's interval to grab a Subway, and then the second film had an interval so we could have some ice cream. The Godfather films are two of my favourite ever films and it was amazing to see them on the big screen. The Plaza even has an organist who played songs from the films at the start. It was such an amazing experience.

What I've been doing
Due to us having a few quiet weekends, we decided to do what we always do when we have a bit of free time, spontaneously start a house project! We've wanted shelves in the alcoves in the front room for ages, so one Saturday morning we took a tape measure and headed to IKEA. After an hour of planning and calculating spacing and the weight of recipe books, we then nipped to B&Q. Where we spent another hour looking at brackets and whether we cut saw a shelf up at home and buying spraypaint. Then back to IKEA for a cabinet.

Then home, where we had a flatpack malfunction, so then... back to IKEA.

There has been a fourth trip to IKEA, a cabinet that didn't fit (and now we've decided we don't need the cabinet but can't bring ourselves to go back so we're trying to find it a home in the house somewhere), two visits from my Dad to put up timber when Phil's drill wasn't strong enough to get through the wall, one night painting timber, and then finally, finally, last week, we got them up. And then realised we want two more.

They look great and I'm very excited... I just wish I'd known our little Saturday project would take 3 weeks to get finished!

One of the reasons we were up by IKEA was Phil had his 150th parkrun this month. Well, in fact, he actually had two! The plan was to do Heaton Park for his 150th so we could wear the 150 bib, but the day before we realised it was cancelled! We'd already decided to go to IKEA after, so instead we went to Hyde parkrun. But then he still needed a chance to wear the bib, so last weekend we celebrated his 150th... which was really his 151st.

We've had a few last wedding bits back this month. I had my bouquet and Phil's corsage freeze-dried and framed (thanks to my Mum who sorted this out when I decided the day after the wedding I wanted them preserving!) and we've had our video back! As with the photos, we're showing them around to friends and family first before I share, but we're really happy with our video and it really captures the day.

What I've read
Big reading month this month, thanks to reserving 9 books from the library and them suddenly coming in all at once! I've been to do some real tactical reading this month to make sure I didn't take too many books out at once or have anything late to be returned!

Here's what I read this month:

The Immortalists
Her Body and Other Parties
The Gathering
Paul takes the form of a mortal girl
The Corset
There There
The Doll Factory
Ordinary People
The To-Do list

The To-Do List is my friend Amy's book, so it was amazing and bizarre and surreal to read her actual book in real life! I was lucky that Waterstones emailed me on Friday to say it was in, even though it isn't out til Thursday, and I read the whole thing over the weekend!

What I've been watching
To distract us from worrying about the Champion's League final, we did a double bill at the cinema of Rocketman and Booksmart.

Booksmart is absolutely brilliant and everything I wanted it to be and more, but guys I am obsessed with Rocketman. We've seen it twice now and I want to go for a third time. I've pre-ordered the DVD and I reckon I've listened to the soundtrack 30 times. I listen to it constantly. I love it. So, yes, that is my review.

We've also been to see Toy Story 4 which is very cute and very funny - I was sobbing before the opening credits.

At home, we've been watching the second season of Big Little Lies and just watched Spider-man: Homegoing to prepare for the new one.

What I've been listening to
This month I finished Sheryl Strayed's Tiny Beautiful Things on audiobook, and unexpectedly sobbed when it was over.

I've also finally caved and got Audible... and then suddenly not a single audiobook was appealing to me. I've already returned one, and I'm currently listening to You are Not So Smart. Basically I want an audiobook as good as Bad Blood - I only listen to non-fiction on audio and I want something juicy.

Speaking of Bad Blood, I listened to The Dropout podcast this month because that story is just insane.

What I've read online
Metro - I had a miscarriage but I don't regret telling people before 12 weeks
Vice - Liking gin is not a personality trait
Clementine - Learning to love my Mum-gut after years of body disappointment
i News - For working class people like me, the threat of debt is always there
A Cup of Jo - A trick for making weekends feel longer
NY Times - Why we need to smash the wellness industry
Grazia - Apparently pregnant women are operating at the highest level of pain endurance all the time
Bon Appetit - How cooking has made me see my ADHD as a talent
The Bibliophile District - 5 Quick tips to read more books
Vix Meldrew - How one simple mindset shift changed the game
Greatist - Why diet culture is toxic, even for people who don't diet

Hope you're having a lovely July so far!
Charlotte x

Monday, 3 June 2019

May Life Lately

I've been asked a lot this month "how's married life?". Some people scoff at this question and answer, "it's exactly the same", but for me, it just...isn't. Married life is absolutely flipping awesome. I absolutely love being married.

So here's what I got up to in my first month of married life (and you can see my One Second Everyday for May here!)...

Where I've been

One of the most exciting wedding presents we received was corporate tickets to the last Liverpool game of the season away at Newcastle. We'd been looking forward to it for weeks but had no idea how insane the night and the game would be!

Despite it only being a few weeks after our minimoon we decided to make a weekend of it. The match was moved twice, so we had to cancel the hotel we'd originally booked for Sunday night, and after a long search we managed to find a hotel in Jesmond.

We headed up on Friday night precisely so we could do parkrun, and the hotel we eventually found was only around the corner (some of the other hotels we'd looked at would have involved a couple of buses or an hour walk to get us to parkrun!). It was a beautiful park and I ran my best time in 2 years!

It worked out quite well for us that the match got moved to an evening kick off as it meant we got the day in Newcastle. We explored the city, had a coffee at the brand new Everyman Theatre, met a colleague of mine for a pre-match drink, and we did a full tour of Newcastle Castle, which was really cool!

The match was absolutely unreal and we had the absolute best time. Despite it being corporate in the home end, it was full of Liverpool fans and everyone was chanting during the meal when we were meant to be on our best behaviour! It's probably the best match I've ever been to.

On the Sunday we decided to take advantage of our beloved National Trust membership. We'd picked up a few leaflets from a service station and liked the look of Fountains Abbey. As we got closer I realised I definitely recognised it from Sian's blog!

Fountains Abbey is absolutely beautiful and it was the perfect place to explore for a couple of hours. I especially loved the old monastery ruins, and the incredible church full of stained-glass which the National Trust man recommended. We are already planning a trip back - mostly because they have a parkrun!

I always say I was brought up on country music. As a kid, we never had Sky tv, but we had a box where we could get some channels, and one of them was CMT - Country Music TV. I remember it being on constantly. Ever since I got a Spotify subscription a couple of years ago, I'd been revisiting some of my old country favourites (most of which make me cry) and I slowly started to dip my toe into modern country music too, dragging Phil down the rabbit hole with me. I would estimate now I listen to country music more than pretty much any genre, besides film scores. My parents also love country too, and listen to a country radio station in the car and at home. So when my Dad said there was a country festival on every year a few miles from our house, we couldn't say yes fast enough.

We parked in a field a few miles away and started the day in the back of a "bus" (it was a van) before arriving at Buckle and Boots Festival which took place on a big farm. There was a big barn with haystacks to sit on, tents with merch and food and two stages. We arrived at 1pm and left at midnight. Buckle and Boots had set up a Spotify playlist we'd been listening to so we had an idea of the bands we liked and which we wanted to see. While quite a few of the artists had come from the States, I was surprised how many were from the UK. We jumped from stage to stage seeing dozens of different bands, and managing to get right up close to the front. We spent the whole day dancing and it was so so so much fun. I already cannot wait to go next year!

What I've been doing
I've gotten really into baking bread this month! We very occasionally get a "nice loaf" on a weekend and promptly eat an entire loaf on a weekend. I'd been reading about making crusty bread in a dutch oven and after being too scared to use the cast iron pot I'd had for over a year, I decided to give it a go on a quiet Bank Holiday Monday (proved while watching Game of Thrones). It was such a success I followed it up with a wholemeal one, and next I want to try seeded bread! I like the white bread best as it doesn't need to be left overnight and it can be done in 3 hours, but I'm excited to make more bread!

We are incredibly lucky to have such amazing friends and family who travelled for our wedding, brought us incredible gifts and made our wedding the perfectly incredible day it was, so we spent a whole day this month writing thank you cards. We wrote over 90 cards, it took 7 hours, and we took ourselves out for pizza afterwards! It was a long day but we wanted to write personal messages to everyone, including our incredible suppliers and it gave me all the warm and fuzzies writing to everyone we loved!

I've kept this a bit on the DL, but a few weeks ago we got all of our wedding photos back! At the moment we're just making sure we show them to all our friends and family before we put anything online, but I can't wait to share them with you - they are incredible!

We had a night with our friends a few weeks ago and, as part of a private joke, bought a novelty game called Peach Snaps. We laughed about it and thought we'd have a game and then it would end up in the loft. No. Peach Snaps is amazing! It's such a fast-paced, fun game which you can just shove in your handbag. Just don't play it with my friend, Simon. We don't know how he does it.

As you have probably gathered, 2019 is not a big running year for me. I haven't run one race so far, I don't have any signed up for, and it's likely I won't do any this year. This has made me feel a bit weird and sad, especially when I didn't run the Great Manchester Run for the first time in 5 years, but with the wedding and the honeymoon I just haven't been able to, or wanted to, train for a big race. But one thing I decided I would try was improving my short distance times. I've run over 180 parkruns, but my time at my local park hasn't seemed to be getting any faster. I've been chasing a PB for over 2 years, and I've never even really gotten close. A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to work on my short distance speed, and I started a Hal Higdon 5K advanced plan. I'm only partially following it - doing 2 days of speedwork a week on top of two BMF classes and parkrun, but I enjoy speedwork and it makes a nice change from just plodding along.

I ran a great time for me at Bramhall a couple of weeks ago, and had jokingly said to Phil, "I think I'm close to a PB!"

My home parkrun is quite busy, so we got a little further to the front than usual - something we often find makes a big difference. And I was feeling good. My park also has heavy tree-cover which causes nightmares for my GPS, so it always comes up short on my watch (they've told us multiple times it's measured perfectly, it's just GPS can't detect under the trees as accurately) and I've never completely sure what my pace is. I've run Bramhall over 80 times though, so I've started to get a bit of an idea of what my "timing points" are, and I try to use those to gauge my pace.

I knew I was on for a PB after the first lap, but it's also a really hilly park (I'm not selling it to you really am I?), with three big hills you run twice, so I was worried I would lose momentum on the hills second lap. As I got to my final timing point I knew I was on for a PB. What I didn't know is it would be a PB of 40 seconds.

After initial shock and celebration and excitement, my lovely husband then said to me "well you obviously haven't been trying hard enough!"

I've literally done 3 weeks of this 5K advanced plan so I'm quietly hoping more PBs might be around the corner!

What I've bought
I absolutely loved Sarah's post on Becoming a Lipstick Person. I am definitely a lipstick person, but I cannot stand reapplying it, so I rarely wear it for work or stick with neutral colours. However, her recommendation of Maybelline Superstay Matte Ink lipsticks interested me with their premise to last all day. I initially bought myself Seductress and Pioneer because they were two for £12 in Superdrug, then found myself buying Loyalist and Romantic, and finally Dreamer. Pioneer (a deep bright red), unfortunately, is the only one that doesn't seem to last all day but honestly the others are a dream. The first time I wore Seductress I could barely get it off! Highly recommend if you like a matte lip all day long.

May has been the BEST month for recipe books, with new books by Elly Pear, Rukmimi Iyer and Jack Monroe! 

Elly Pear's new book Green is entirely vegetarian recipes. Her first two books have some really good recipes, but I don't like that her first book promoted a diet, and her second wasn't for me beyond the first meal prepping chapters (which I loved). This instead is like a greatest hits. Honestly on an initial flick through there was almost nothing I didn't want to eat, and that included marmite spaghetti! I am super excited to get stuck into this!

And then of course, my favourite recipe book series has a new addition, The Quick Roasting Tin! I was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy last week and I cannot wait to get stuck in! I've already made a batch of salted chocolate brownies, and have dozens of recipes marked up to make. Keep your eyes out for a review!

I've also just received the new Jack Monroe book, Tin Can Cook, which is all meals made from tins, and thousands of copies have been donated to foodbanks. If you want to donate just £3.50 you can send a copy to a foodbank here.

What I've been reading

Eight books read this month:

Going Clear - Scientology and the Prison of Belief
The Tyranny of Lost Things
The Dollmaker
Boy Swallows Universe
Little Eve
The Talented Mr Ripley
The Burning Girl
The Maid's Room

My favourites were The Tyranny of Lost Things (thanks, Joe, for the recommendation!) and The Talented Mr Ripley. I can't wait to read more of that series!

What I've been listening to
Ooh look a new section! I've always loved a podcast while out for a run, getting ready in the morning or doing work around the house, and I've found I prefer an on-going podcast series or an audiobook. I've been getting audiobooks for free from the library for a few months (I've been so surprised by how good the selection has been!) and I'm weighing up getting Audible at some point, especially for our road trip across Canada.

This month I listened to Robert Webb's How Not to be a Boy on audio and I absolutely loved it and cannot recommend it more.

I also listened to two podcast series, Maddie and Over My Dead Body. I absolutely love a multi-episode podcast on one topic or delving into one story or crime, so if you have any recommendations for these kinds of podcasts, please let me know!

What I've been watching
One trip to the cinema to see John Wick 3, which I enjoyed when I wasn't hiding under my coat. Three films at home - Good Time (which we watched a few weeks before the Robert Pattison Batman news which allowed up to be super-smug and say things like, oh have you not sen Good Time?), Headhunters because Jaime Lannister, and Crazy Heart because we'd just got home from a country festival.

TV-wise, obviously Game of Thrones and the 50% of Chernobyl I've seen from under my coat. Yeah I basically didn't watch episode 3 and episode 4 made me cry. We've also just started The Sopranos from the beginning seeing as we started it 4 years ago and we are terrible at watching TV.

What I've read online

Stylist - The reality of visiting a spa as a plus-sized woman
Swoonworthy - 7 decorating mistakes to avoid when using colour
The Telegraph - Alex Timpson, children's campaigner, obituary (I had absolutely no idea of the amazing work Alex Timpson did, and I'm so glad I read this. What an amazing woman)
The Guardian - When working class life can be so rich, why does reality TV belittle them?
Daisy Buchanan - Please stop asking me about my career
Biscuits and Blisters - Don't answer that
The Face - The Anatomy of Depression
Refinery 29 - In defence of being unproductive
Newsweek - 9 Simple things that can help calm anxiety
Unbound - My year of reading dangerously

With some new recipe books and a quiet June I've got loads of posts I want to write this month so hopefully I'll be back soon!

Charlotte x

Friday, 3 May 2019

April Life Lately

April has been a strange month because everything has either been BW (Before Wedding) or After Wedding (BW) and I think I've already written enough about our wedding for now (catch up with part 1, part 2 and part 3), so this post might be a bit shorter and more disjointed than usual!

Here's what I got up to in April and here is my One Second Every Day for the month!

What I've been doing

Phil and I had 3 days off before the wedding which was perfect and completely necessary. We'd thought 3 days would be too long and it was, but in a good way. We had a few errands to run in the few days leading up, including picking up suits, meeting with our wedding co-ordinator to finalise the last details and our rehearsal, but we also chilled out a bit, cleaned the house and car (it was sooooo good coming home to a spotless house on Sunday!) and gave us enough time for anything last minute. I think it definitely contributed to how relaxed I felt on the day!

Oh and then I got married, did I mention that?

On the Sunday after our wedding, once we'd cleared all our stuff from the hotel (our back bedroom is now full of centrepieces yet again!) we had a few jobs to do and then we headed to my Mum's for a little party. We'd been really looking forward to this as a chance to catch up with people we might have missed on the day and to hear all the stories and see all the photos from the night before! We also opened some of our amazing presents, including a personalised drawing of the church we were married in from my parents, a signed Liverpool shirt and an amazing print of the Royal Exchange Theatre, which is a really special place to us. I also got to show off the watch Phil bought me as a wedding present, and wear my new Liverpool shirt with Cantillon 19 on the back!

This month also meant the 21st Birthday one one of my favourite people, my new little sister! I am incredibly grateful that not only have I married the best person, I've also inherited the best family, and I'm so lucky to have two amazing new siblings. As an only child I can't explain what it's like to gain the best little sister I could have asked for.

Where I've been

On the Monday after our wedding we had a few jobs to do (and Game of Thrones to watch....) - taking back suits, dropping off vases at the florist and taking my bouquet to my Mum's so it could be sent off to be freeze-dried. So at about 3pm we were finally ready to head onto our minimoon!

We had booked 2 nights at the amazing Lygon Arms in Broadway - the most amazing spa hotel I've ever seen. We were upgraded to a junior suite for our minimoon and we were in what looked like a converted stable. We had a four poster bed, a roll top bath and the both beautiful surroundings, honestly, it looks like Game of Thrones.

We had dinner in the incredible restaurant ("It's booked under Mr and Mrs Cantillon?") and then we were absolutely exhausted!

On Tuesday we had some time in the morning to look around Broadway before our message at 11am, so we went around the little shops and I discovered my dream shop - selling nick nacks, board games, books, homeware and gin!

We had an amazing massage and then had some time in the pool before we headed out to walk up to explore more of Broadway.

Broadway is like toy town. It is all cute little stone buildings and shops selling chocolates or tweed, cutesy cafes with cakes in the window and an amazing two-storey deli. It doesn't look real.

I browsed both the bookshop and the deli before we decided to grab some cake before going for a walk. We popped into the Market Pantry and settled on a chocolate brownie and some sticky ginger cake. The brownie was honestly one of the best brownies I've ever had!

Once we were fuelled up we decided to walk up to Broadway T0werThis was a decent walk and maybe more of an ascent than we had expected, but it was a lovely cool day and the walk was amazing. It was a little foggy so we didn't get the full view, but we met some sprightly lambs on the way up! Broadway Tower was well worth a visit even though it was a bit overcast for us to experience the amazing views it boasts!

There isn't loads to do in Broadway, but it was perfect for two nights when we wanted to relax without feeling the pressure of trying to squeeze everything in. The Lygon Arms is one of the nicest hotels I've stayed in, and was perfect for our minimoon but I don't think we'll be staying anywhere that lavish any time soon!

On Wednesday we left Broadway and decided to visit some of the little chocolate box villages we'd been told to see in the Cotswolds. We bought cheese and went to two bookshops in Stow-on-the-wold, drove through Upper Slaughter and found a parking space in Lower Slaughter.

From there we walked through to Bourton-on-the-water which was my favourite place on the trip. It reminds me of the villages in the Lake District - lots of little shops, tiny niche museums, ice cream shops and cafes. We also sampled some Cotswolds gin but unfortunately we couldn't get on a distillery tour (maybe next time!).

On our walk back we were looking for the Cotswolds Brewing Company. We'd seen a sign for it, but Google Maps seemed to show it in the middle of a field which erm, it was! The bar wasn't open so we got a cider for the road and walked back to the car with a cider in hand in the sunshine. It was one of my favourite parts.

On Wednesday afternoon we drove to Cheltenham to our airbnb where we spent the rest of the week. 

On Thursday we went for brunch and explored the city, walking through Montpellier Gardens and to Pitville Park. We knew Pitville Park was where we'd be going for parkrun but didn't realise it was so huge! It's a good job we checked where the start was! 

We'd spotted the Everyman Theatre on Wednesday night and seen they had a Thursday matinee of Avenue Q which we'd never seen, so we spent the afternoon in the theatre which was great fun!

When we'd been out for brunch we'd spotted the most amazing restaurant in a converted cinema and we earmarked it for dinner. The Daffodil does a pre-theatre menu (which for us for post-theatre!) which made it quite reasonable for an amazing meal in the most incredible setting!

On Friday we took a day trip to Gloucester on the bus which took about 45 minutes (hey you can take the girl away from work but she'll still find a Stagecoach bus!) and was a lovely journey. It was Good Friday so there was a service on at Gloucester Cathedral but they still let us walk around as long as we were quiet! The Cathedral was absolutely amazing and I'm so glad we went. 

We also had a walk around Gloucester Docks which were beautiful on a sunny day, and around the outlet mall before we headed back to Cheltenham.

We decided we wanted to buy a bottle of the Cotswolds gin as a memento, so when we got back I searched for where to buy it, and that was when I found the best bar in Cheltenham! John Gordon's is half a gin bar and half a whisky bar, and they will help you find something perfect to your tastes. As we'd already had the Cotswolds gin and really liked it, I asked for something similar, and was given a Garden Swift gin which I absolutely loved, and we promptly bought a bottle to take home!

We decided to spend our last night in, and had spotted a pizza place called Fat Toni's that we realllllly wanted to try, so we had another few drinks and ordered a pizza to collect. Their pizzas are 20" in diameter so you definitely don't need more than one, but luckily they can do it in thirds, which was perfect for us. We got a third meat for Phil, a third veg for me and a third margherita. It was the crispest sourdough base in a woodfired oven and it was amazing (and huge!).

On Saturday we headed over to Pitville Park again for parkrun, and it was one of my favourite parkruns I've done! It was a beautiful park, the sun was shining and I really enjoyed my run!

The plan was to go to Stratford-Upon-Avon on the way back home, but once we'd got back and showered and checked out after parkrun, it was gone 12.30 by the time we got to Stratford. We drove around for 45 minutes (it looked lovely!) but on a beautifully sunny Saturday, there was nowhere to park! Oh well! I'm looking forward to going again and properly spending some time in Stratford in the future.

So what to do on our way home? I had a look on my phone and found a few National Trust sights nearby, so we decided to just head home and see if we saw any signs for anywhere we could visit on the way back. About 15 minutes into our drive home we saw a sign for Charlcote House and we decided it would be perfect.

Phil and I have been talking about National Trust membership for years (in fact, we nearly signed up in Lyme Park the day Phil proposed!) and with the wedding planning done, we decided now would be a good time to actually sign up. I was absolutely buzzing! We have definitely hit peak old married couple now!

Charlcote House was amazing and the grounds were even more amazing. We had a lovely walk around in the sunshine and it was the perfect end to our amazing minimoon!

Phil and I also got our money's worth of our National Trust membership this weekend with a trip to Quarry Bank Mill. I'd not been for absolutely years and I'd forgotten how beautiful it is (not something you really appreciate as a child!). We only walked around the grounds (and a bit beyond, okay we got completely lost!) on this trip, but I can't wait to go back in the Mill for the first time in about 20 years!

What I've bought
Bosh! was pretty much my favourite new recipe book of 2018 (besides The Green Roasting Tin, of course!) so I was thrilled when I found out the Bosh boys were creating a 
sequel! Keep your eye out for a review of Bish Bash Bosh over the next few weeks.

The nice weather also got me thinking about my summer wardrobe, so I treated myself to some cool trainers, and finally replaced my denim jacket I got for my 20th Birthday (no, seriously).

Whatb I've been reading
Ooooh some bangers this month. Like everyone else in the universe I fell hard for Daisy Jones and the Six and straight after I read Taylor Jenkins-Reid's previous book The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo which I also absolutely adored!

Not a high reading month with the wedding and a pretty busy minimoon, but I also read The Summer that Melted EverythingA Ladder to the Sky and Bitter Orange, and listened to American Kingpin on audio.

I read Pet Sematary last month and made the mistake of reading the book way too close to seeing the film. I'm usually terrible at remembering details from the book when I see a film but I adored the book and it was so fresh in my mind that I couldn't stand all the changes they'd made for the film, and how thematically different it was. Pet Sematary is a book about loss and mourning, and this was a straightforward horror with the same title. And I think if I'd known that I would have enjoyed it more, but wanting a straightforward adaptation of one of my new favourite books, this was disappointing,

I did completely love Eighth Grade which I'd wanted to see for absolutely ages. It was exactly what I wanted it to be.

At home we've watched Tropic Thunder and finally finished Fargo season 3. Fargo is pretty much my all-time favourite TV drama and this article summed up perfectly how I felt.

And also, obviously, Game of Thrones.

What I read online
Yes and Yes - How to live within your means

April was the best month ever but I'm excited for what May will bring!

I hope you enjoy your long weekend!

Charlotte x