What Happens in Budapest….

Will definitely not stay in Budapest, because I’m going to tell you all about my stay there! This trip was a present to my uncle for his 60th birthday… he’s 63… fair to say Covid most definitely had a part to play in the delay… but, it was most definitely worth the wait!!

For us, we wanted to avoid the Stag/Hen weekends so we went during the week, staying Monday to Friday. I was so lucky to have had friends who have visited Budapest and given me some amazing recommendations. We flew into Budapest, lovely easy airport, easy to get a taxi (and cheap!) to our hotel – thank you to Becca for this recommendation, Hotel Moments is a gorgeous hotel situated perfectly on the Pest side of Budapest, I cannot recommend this hotel enough! The hotel bar and restaurant is also really good, I had the best cocktail on my first night- a filthy martini! And they did some lovely food for us (Hard Rock cafe was our first choice but their menu was different to online so there wasn’t any gluten free veggie options, ridiculous!) we then had a lovely night sleep in the comfiest beds.

Day 1 – The hotel was amazing but as a Coeliac vegetarian the breakfast wasn’t suitable, so, after extensive research before I got to Budapest I decided to try one of the Gluten free places I found- Tibidabo Gluten free Bakery situated within the Jewish Quarter just a 15 minute walk from the hotel (I used my iPhone maps and it was really helpful we got everywhere with it, check with your provider but with my provider I was able to use my phone the same as I would in the UK) https://tibidabopekseg.hu they do the most amazing pin wheel pastries (all gf!) and I bought a vegan salad baguette for lunch (also delicious). We then bought a ticket for the hop on hop off bus. It wasn’t the best hop on hop off bus I’ve gotten but I always do this on every trip to get an idea of the place.

We got the 72 hour ticket which included boat tour and walking tour

We went round on the bus until we reached the Castle, I was recommended to get off here and look (I didn’t find Katy Perry 😂😂- she filmed her music video Firework at Budapest castle) we bought tickets for the Castle Bus and got off at each of the 3 stops to look around, really beautiful and worth doing. We got the ventricular down and got back on the hop on / off bus.

Stunning views! Get your Katy Perry on

That evening we went to another recommended gluten free restaurant – Monkeys- this was definitely my favourite food of the week, delicious tofu burger! Even my mum and uncle who are non coeliacs liked it, plenty of meat options for them.

Best ever vegan tofu burger!

We then walked to Szimpla Kert ruin bar, we didn’t have a drink but it was worth popping in to have a look. We walked down to the docks and got a night boat tour which was included in our hop on/ hop off ticket. It was beautiful and so worth doing!

Enough said! Beautiful

Day 2- We went into St Stephen’s Basillica which is just around from the hotel, I recommend going inside because it’s so beautiful.

Inside St Stephen’s Basillica

We then did a walking tour which started from the St Stephen’s Basillica – which was included in the hop on/ hop off ticket, we had a tour guide called Mark, he was a legend. The tour is well worth doing, you find out things you would never know unless you went on the tour. We also visited the shoes of the Danube which was emotional. We ended up at the Parliament building, just in time for our Parliament tour, which was lovely but the tour guide wasn’t as good.

Me and Leon?! Saw this on the walking tour
Shoes on the Danube
Parliament building, well worth looking inside, not sure the tour was worth it but if you do want to do a tour , book in advance

We then walked to Coli Bistro for lunch, didn’t make the best choice for food but it’s well worth going to because the pastries are nice and if you’re staying in an air B and B it’s perfect to pick up all the food bits you need.

Near by was the WestEnd shopping centre, well worth going to

That evening we went to High Five cocktail bar thanks for the recommendation Chintan! Then to Kata restaurant, absolutely lovely place, completely gluten free but again mum and my uncle loved it too! https://katarestaurant.com we did over 10 miles walking so slept very well that evening!

Day 3- last full day. Walked to Tibidabo gluten free bakery for breakfast and stock up for lunch and we tried to get a couple of buses to Margaret’s island because we didn’t feel like walking the whole way due to over 10 miles walking the day before, this didn’t work out so, thanks to Becca again for the recommendation we went to Budapest zoo, we got a taxi there and back which was cheap enough but we should’ve gotten the hop on / hop off bus, stop Number 5 heroes square and gotten the bus back to stop 12. One of the best zoos we’ve been to, animals very well cared for and never seen animals so close before, every animal you can ever think of! Honestly recommend spending the whole day there.

That evening we went to Dumf gluten free restaurant, really close walk from hotel, now, I know I said monkeys was my fav but the food here was delicious!!! Mum and I shared a veggie quesadilla and vegan spaghetti… yummy!!! Mum then got an Ice cream from Gelata Rosa, too much cross contamination for me to have one, but it looked beautiful! What a brilliant way to end the trip.

On the last morning we visited the City park, stop 5 on the hop on / hop off bus, we didn’t go into the thermal baths but we looked around them, we then looked at Heroes Square.

Thermal baths
Heroes Square

Of course we found a bit of time before we had to leave for a piece of cake outside the Opera House! Gluten free Sache Torte is highly recommended at Muvész Coffee House (Artist Cafe)

Gluten free Sache Torte yum

We then flew home Friday afternoon! I would really recommend Budapest, thank you for everyone’s recommendations. It’s definitely a city I would visit again. Top tips- if you have a dietary requirement like me, research! I found brilliant blogs such as https://www.mygfguide.com/gluten-free-budapest/ but there’s loads out there, I also bought a gluten free translation card from coelaic uk but didn’t need to use it because I found so many amazing dedicated gluten free places to eat. Go during the week if you want to avoid hen/ stag weekends. Pack some really good walking shoes, you’ll need them!! We didn’t pre book anything apart from the Parliament tour, which you’ll need to do if you want to go. Lastly, it’s pretty cheap but look up tipping etiquette before you go out there, well worth buying a guide book. Last piece of advice? Book your trip to Budapest, now!


The Lockdown Birthday Blog

Welcome to my March blog. Before I say Happy St. Patrick’s Day, I’d like to say a Happy Birthday to not only myself, but also my best friend (born a day after me but technically only 7 hours younger than me, when we were younger we would have sleepovers staying awake for my birthday then waking up really early for her birthday, our parents were never amused!) I’d also like to wish my mum a very Happy Birthday too – a second birthday in lockdown for her!

This Month is St. Patrick’s Day – but where did this holiday originate from? Well, after a Google search I found this – St. Patrick’s Day (also known as St. Paddy’s Day) started as a religious celebration in the 17th century to commemorate the life of Saint Patrick and the arrival of Christianity in Ireland. This “Feast Day” always took place on the anniversary of Patrick’s death, which was believed to be March 17, 461 AD. St Patrick’s Day is celebrated in many parts of the world, especially by Irish communities and organizations. Many people wear an item of green clothing on the day.

One of my birthday traditions is to have a special birthday breakfast which includes (gluten free) buttermilk pancakes with fresh fruit, clotted cream and maple syrup. We have these pancakes on special occasions like Christmas and Birthdays. I obviously can’t do much this year because we’re still in lockdown and have to “stay home”, the only thing I plan is to do, is go on a long walk with my family and my dog Leon. Proper celebrations can happen once we are out of lockdown.

We can’t leave this blog without celebrating St. Patrick’s Day – I think it would be fitting to celebrate with a cocktail, well here’s a video of how to make 12 cocktails… enjoy! I want them all.

I’ve not been lucky enough to personally see hares boxing, but I have seen a lot of hares on my walks recently.

I hope you have enjoyed my March blog. I thought I’d include a horoscope for both Pisces and Aries below. Happy Birthday to all the March babies! Next month we will spring into Spring and Easter!

Love (and unfortunately Covid) is in the air

Disclaimer – click the link for full scientific explanations of Covid https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/

Welcome to my February blog. Hope you’re all keeping safe and well.

I won’t focus too much on the lovey dovey stuff so I will let you know a few recorded stories about Valentine’s Day. You can look up “where did Valentine’s Day originate from” on Google and you get a hundred different answers.The most common seems to be from the Roman times, the earliest possible origin seems to be from the pagan holiday Lupercalia. Lupercalia was a festival that celebrated the coming of Spring, which apparently included fertility rites and the pairing off of women with men by lottery (doesn’t sound like the best festival to me!) – at the end of the 5th Century it was changed to Valentine’s Day by Pope Gelasius. Another theory, still from the Ancient Romans (they have a lot to answer for) comes from the story of Emperor Claudius 11 who executed two men both named Valentine – on Feb 14th of different years in the 3rd Century A.D. Their martyrdom was honoured by the Catholic Church with the celebration of St. Valentine’s Day. If you decide to believe one of these tales or another, I think you’ll agree the stories are definitely very strange back then, times have definitely changed, except for murder, maybe some places still auction women by lottery? That would make one interesting village fete (I joke!)

We also can’t not mention the unfortunate Valentine’s Day massacre (which has inspired a lot of horror movies) the awful tragedy happened in 1929 involving the Irish gangster George “Bugs” Malone, one of Capone’s longtime enemies. The massacre involved gang violence and a lot of blood spillage, the bloody climax in a garage on the city’s North side on February 14th. George “Bugs” Malone was shot to death by men dressed as policemen.

I bet you wished I stuck to the lovey dovey stuff now?! A very quick history lesson over, why don’t we do some baking?! Sorry I realised I have gone from murder to baking within one paragraph….

Now time to bake! Brand new recipe for me, Cherry Shortbread Hearts, click on the link for the full recipe. I made a few changes to the recipe, firstly, I made these gluten free by using gluten free plain flour with a quarter teaspoon of xanthum gum. Secondly I don’t like almond extract I think it tastes really nasty and fake so I left this out. Thirdly when I made up my dough I weighed and sieved all the dry ingredients into a bowl then poured them into a food processor with my butter and blitzed until a dough was formed, I added the finely chopped cherries and just stirred them through, I then put the dough into the fridge to chill for a couple hours. When the hearts went into the oven I cooked them for 12 minutes before taking them out to cut out a middle, for which I used a mini heart cutter (if these came out whole I’d cook these too) to fill the hearts I used homemade bramble jelly not cherry jam (don’t overfill the middle), when I put them back in the oven I cooked them for a further 5 minutes or golden brown, then leave to fully cool before turning them out. https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/cherry-shortbread-hearts enjoy! See below for my attempt.

My dough and heart cookie cutter
I used the mini heart cutter to cut the middles out of the cookies after cooking in the oven for 12 minutes add some jam into the holes in the middle of the cookies, then for a further 5 min cook or until golden brown
Fresh out the oven! Careful don’t take them off here just yet wait until they’re completely cool or they’ll crumble, I even put mine in the fridge!
Ta da! After finally cooling (in the fridge) they were finally ready to turn out. Think I made too many, times like this I miss sharing these with my friends and family!

I thought I’d share with you my “alternative” top 30 love songs, check them out and let me know what you think!

I hope you have enjoyed my February blog, a little different to my others. Watch out for my blog in March, which will be a (lockdown) birthday edition! It’s mine, my best friend’s and my mum’s birthday in March. We can’t forget St Patrick’s Day either (lets hope the history is slightly less dark than Valentine’s Day).

New Year New Lockdown

Happy New Year everybody!!
It’s a very strange time currently isn’t it? The area I live was in Tier 2, on Boxing Day we entered Tier 4, then on the 4th January we were plunged into a third Lockdown for England (I apologise this first part of my blog may sound like Craig David’s song “7 Days”). Despite this I am hopeful, the UK has not only one, but two vaccines being administered as I speak. The Pfizer vaccine and the Oxford Astra Veneca vaccine. These are obviously being allocated to different sectors of people at a time. I am hoping, as I work for the NHS I can get a vaccine soon, currently only the “highest risk” staff members are receiving the vaccine. Click the link to find out more about the Vaccines and your eligibility. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/priority-groups-for-coronavirus-covid-19-vaccination-advice-from-the-jcvi-30-december-2020/joint-committee-on-vaccination-and-immunisation-advice-on-priority-groups-for-covid-19-vaccination-30-december-2020
I wanted this blog to be positive, give you a break away from the world for a few minutes, but I realise that we have to talk about what’s going on in the world currently, and I think a very important aspect is everybody’s mental health. Remember that there is always help out there. I’ve included a few suggestions below, but there are so so many, if you go onto google and search you’ll find lots and lots more support.
I’m going to keep this blog pretty short, I wanted to talk all about New Years Resolutions, but, considering the times we are in I don’t think we should be expecting too much of ourselves. We need to focus on the main points, staying healthy, happy, positive and most importantly remembering to be kind.
I truly hope the below meme will be true by the end of the year.
For now, be safe and I’ll see you in my next blog.

What A Wonderful Time of The Year….Despite Covid

Welcome to my last blog of 2020, and guess what?! My Christmas Blog! This blog will be a little longer than a “typical” blog should be because I have so many things to share with you all. So why not put on some Christmas tunes, snuggle up with a hot chocolate wearing your Christmas Pyjamas, and, enjoy!

It wouldn’t be Christmas without some Christmassy baking and cooking. As a vegetarian of 21 years I’ve been making this spiced lentil and spinach pastry (recipe from my Aunty) for many years, for the past 2 years I’ve been making this dish both vegetarian and gluten free. It’s very big for one person, so I tend to cut it into 6ths and freeze until needed.


I really struggled to find gluten free Red Split Lentils – the ones suggested are called “Nato Red Split Lentils” I unfortunately couldn’t find these. I am part of CoelaicUK which is amazing, they have dieticians on hand to speak to you about any issues you are having, I called and spoke to a dietician and said the Red Split Lentils I had “may contain gluten” she informed me that, if washed properly they should be ok so I have used them. Next year (hopefully not in lockdown so I can actually go shopping and not rely on deliveries) I can purchase some officially gluten free Red Split Lentils.

One of my number on Christmas traditions is drinking Mulled Wine, even better, making your own homemade Mulled Wine https://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/fruit-recipes/jamie-s-mulled-wine/ Last year I went Christmas Shopping in Oxford with my Dad, we stopped for a Mulled Wine in our favourite Oxford pub – The Turf, best Mulled Wine I’ve every had. The Turf is off the beaten track located in a beautiful area of Oxford City Centre, it’s very “Harry Potter” esque – you’ll have to have a substantial meal with your Mulled Wine this year (Tier twoers).

One of my favourite nibbles at Christmas is Delia Smith’s Vegetarian Sausage Rolls – I make these gluten free – remember if you’re making gluten free pastry you’ll need Xanthun gum (only half a teaspoon max). https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/type-of-dish/vegetarian-recipes/vegetarian-sausage-rolls

Who else has festive traditions? I’m sure they will be very different this year because of Covid. One thing won’t change, our fresh Christmas Tree, which we don’t put up until, at the earliest 17th December, we like to keep our tree up until January 6th. I have previously mentioned I am part of Rock Choir, this time of year we would be doing loads of Christmas gigs, wearing our Christmas hats. My favourite Rock Choir Christmas gig has to be when we perform at Bath Abbey. I am really really missing Rock Choir, but this time of year I am missing it more, what I would give to be singing Hallelujah and Christmas Carols (which I can still do, not the same though!) Rock Choir are releasing a Christmas single “Keeping The Dream Alive” with 4500 rock choir voices on, we all recorded ourselves at home – Proceeds for Mental Health Charity. Also, who’s going to miss Christmas parties?!, I’ll miss spending time with those people more than the actual event. We usually like going to the local Carol Service on Christmas Eve, which I am guessing won’t be happening this year. Despite all the changes and the restrictions, we still plan on making the holiday special. So watch out neighbours we’ll be putting our Carols on full blast and having our own Christmas Carol Service! On Christmas Eve I like to wear some new Pyjamas to wake up in on Christmas morning (hopefully some new slippers too!) On Christmas Day we’re allowed to have 3 family households mixing – we’re just having my Grandmother over (England restrictions- which of course could change), unfortunately my Uncle won’t be able to come over from Holland. On Christmas Day we like to take all day to open presents. For our breakfast my Dad, and my Uncle, when he’s here like to have scrambled eggs and smoked salmon. My mum and I have buttermilk pancakes with fresh fruit and maple syrup, and, of course a cheeky bucks fizz. Then it’s time to dress up in a new outfit and cook the Christmas lunch, carols playing, a few breaks opening some presents. Christmas lunch is my favourite meal of the year! My gluten free lentil dish, gluten free bread sauce, fairy cabbages (Brussel Sprouts) and all the trimmings. We then watch the Queens speech, to be honest I usually doze off (don’t tell the Queen that!!) we have our pudding – the Christmas Pudding I showed you in my last blog, which we’re making into a black forest gateua, if I haven’t dozed off! We go for a dog walk, hopefully in the snow. Then we settle down for the evening, maybe play a game or two and see what Christmas TV is on ( who else buys the TV guide and highlights all the Christmas tv shows and films they want to watch?!) I hope we have another Gavin and Stacey special this year, and, of course Vicar of Dibley, they’re excitingly showing three 10minute new clips on the back off traditional episodes. On Boxing Day we like to go for a nice long family walk and eat leftovers. Our Christmas is pretty traditional simple, but that’s what we absolutely love.

Rock Choir Christmas Gig

Talking of Christmas traditions my Mum and I, for as long as I can remember have been making a Christmas Wreath.

My Oasis is 18 inches

Soak your Oasis ring in water for 24 hours. We use large head Gypsophelia which we get from a flower market, cut very small springs and put into the oasis ring, making sure the whole ring is covered with flowers. Once fully covered spray with clear glitter spray (reading the glitter spray instructions and making sure you’re in a well ventilated area). Then it’s time to display your beautiful wreath!

Ta dah!! Beautiful wreath

Well, that’s it, last blog of the year! I am guessing New Year will be a quiet one too. I’m sure things will be different in my next blog, will we have a vaccine? What tier will we be in? Whatever you do, be safe. I’ll see you next year for my January Blog – which I would love to hear your New Year’s Resolutions!

My Inbetweeny Lockdown Blog

Lockdown has hit England again, it started on Thursday 5th November, and should be ending December 2nd. I expect a lot of you are Working From Home. I thought I’d share with you my favourite books, films, Christmas films and Christmas songs, just in case you have some spare time or even need a distraction from the world and fancy reading, watching or listening to something new.

I started a book club with my friend Becca a few months ago, it’s really interesting each month we take it in turns to choose a book for us to read. We’re only a few months in and we’ve already read a wide range of genres. We’re currently reading my choice, which I read years ago but can’t remember much about it called “Guilty Pleasures” The Anita Blake Series written by Laurell K Hamilton, the genre of the book is supernatural.

My favourite books are:

1) Noughts and Crosses – Malorie Blackman (really didn’t like the TV adaptation)

2) Keira Hudson Series – Tim O’Rouke (I have loved every book he has written, he is an author worth checking out)

3) Romeo and Juliet – that’s more of a manuscript does it count?! – Shakespeare (obviously)

4) Beautiful Disaster – Jamie McGuire (great choice for book club Becca!)

5) Harry Potter series (disclaimer I haven’t read them all and the first book was read to me by Stephen Fry on cassette tape when I was a child)

My top 10 favourite films are

1) Cruel Intentions

2) American Beauty

3) The Commitments

4) Romeo and Juliet (1996)

5) A Star is Born (2019)

6) Shaun of The Dead

7) Shakespeare in Love

8) Dead Poets Society

9) Good Will Hunting

10) Clueless

My Favourite Christmas Films

1) The Holiday

2) Last Christmas

3) White Christmas

4) Miracle on 34th Street

5) Noel

My favourite Christmas Songs

1) All I Want For Christmas – Mariah Carey

2) Wrapped in Red Album – Kelly Clarkson

3) My Kind Of Christmas Album – Christina Aguilera

4) Lonelisest Time of the year – Mabel

5) Stay Another Day – East 17

6) One More Sleep – Leona Lewis

7) Any of Michael Buble

8) Christmas Cheer – Oceans Apart

9) Last Christmas – Wham

10) Silent Night – Rock Choir (including me!)

My top tv series

1) White Collar

2) New Girl

3) Friends

4) 2 Pints of Larger and a Packet of Crisis

5) One Tree Hill

6) The OC

7) Supernatural

8) Criminal Minds

9) Blacklist

10) Quantico

11) Buffy The Vampire Slayer

12) Angel

13) Charmed

14) Taskmaster (I think it counts…)

As one of my friends well knows I’ve been trying to get into podcasts, kind of failing at the moment listening to them. The ones I have on my podcast list are

1) Shagged, Married, Annoyed

2) Taskmaster the Podcast

3) Off Menu

4) Two Pints With Will and Ralf

5) The Boys in The Band

I’d love to know what you think of my choices, and what your choices are too. These are all obviously my opinion and my choices, which, granted some I haven’t watched/read in years so some of them are childhood favourites, which, obviously don’t suit everyone. I think you can also tell I like the supernatural genre and Shakespeare- imagine if anyone combined the two?!

My next official blog will be the beginning of December, where I’ll be covering how to make my Gypsophelia Wreath, Christmas Traditions and some festive baking. Until then, take care, stay safe and if you need any help or support please seek the support and help you need.

It’s Beginning To Look a Lot Like….

Christmas day is 54 days away, are you ready?! This blog is going to cover a few of my preparations for the big day, including some homemade gifts.

I think I’m nearly finished my gift shopping, but, I must say I love to add an extra special touch to my gifts. I can’t say what I’m making this year for a few special people, because these people will be reading this blog. I will show you what I made last year, lavender hearts!! These were such a cute little gift to give to people, and were lovely and easy to make. I personally love the smell of lavender and always have a lavender heart hung by my bed, the smell makes me feel more relaxed. I’m going to make some extra little gifts filled with lavender this year… what do you think?

This is a link to a video showing you how to make the lavender hearts. I played around with different shapes and sizes until I found one I liked. It may be worth laminating your template so you can keep it to use for next time. I used a sewing machine for most of the sewing because I found that easier. I must disclose I am a beginner sewer, I only really started sewing last year. I swapped the button for a little red ribbon, it’s completely up to you https://youtu.be/WRLVeRuQd7Y

Now you’ve made your gorgeous lavender hearts you need a gift bag for them. This is a really simple, cost effective and stunning idea for gift bags, one which my Godmother showed me and gave me the ideas for.

These are the gift bags I used. The size I used in my video were small, they do a range of sizes.

Now you’ve made your gifts and your gift bags you just need some tissue paper to wrap them in and you’re done!

Lastly, I’m going to show you my personal favourite un traditional Christmas cake you can make this for a gift, for yourselves, or your social bubble, for Christmas and Thanks Giving if you celebrate the holiday. It’s super easy and effective. I used fondant berries but real holly leaves, when I make this again I will make the leaves out of fondant so all the cake is edible. This is a holly leaf cutter you could use to cut out some green fondant into leaf shapes, I then roll some red fondant into balls to make the holly berries.

This was originally a Malteser cake, but seeing as I can’t eat Maltesers because I’m coeliac I changed the decorations to chocolate buttons, which I think are just as effective. The whole cake I made is gluten free. The recipe I show isn’t gluten free, I just swapped the flour to be gluten free and made sure the baking powder was gluten free too. This is just one version of how to make the cake below, as you can see from the photo I changed a few details but still got an effective Christmas pudding cake!


You now have gifts wrapped beautifully in gift bags and a lovely festive cake, why not celebrate, following current covid guidelines.

I wish everyone celebrating the Thanks Giving Holiday a very happy time. I will have my next blog ready for the beginning of December. I will be showing you how we make our traditional Gypsophilia Wreath, if you would like to make this you’ll need some Gypsophilia (we like a large head, the small headed ones aren’t great. We get these from a flower market) An Oasis ring (we use an 18 inch size) you can buy them from Amazon, Hobbycraft, eBay and lots of different places. Some glitter spray, Scissors, water to soak your oasis ring in for 24 hours before, and finally a lot of Christmas music playing in the background! I know the Prime Minister has just put England into lockdown starting Thursday but let’s try to be positive. Until next time, be safe.

Falling For Fall – My Most Favourite Time Of The Year

What’s your favourite season? Most of you will say summer for the sunshine (UK weather permitting), mum would say Spring (I’m a spring baby, so is she!) My favourite season is Autumn, fluffy jumpers, crisp leaves crunching under my feet, hot chocolates by the wood burner fire, what’s not to love!? Ok, maybe the dark mornings and the dark drawing in earlier in the evening isn’t a point to love, but, for me, is an excuse to snuggle up with a good book, at the weekend!

Leon loves the wood burning fire as much as we do!

I also love this time of year because there’s the buzz of Halloween, which I loved as a kid and secretly still do, who doesn’t love decorating pumpkins and watching a scary movie!? There’s also this lovely Christmas buzz, I’m so sorry, I did say the C word…are you getting ready for Christmas yet!? I know this Christmas will be so different with COVID, yes I think that’s a worse C word, despite this I want to make it as special as possible! For this blog I’m concentrating on Autumn, and a little bit of Halloween!

I have been loving our autumnal walks, seeing the leaves change colour, absolutely beautiful.

Watching the leaves change colour

One of my favourite Autumnal recipes is a delicious Gluten Free Carrot Cake Recipe, click the link for the recipe, we like to make one up and pop it in the freezer for a rainy day, you can freeze the cake with the frosting on. One tip I’ve learned from baking this cake a few times is, if you make the whole recipe (we often halve it) use a couple of baking trays, or if you use one it will take a very long time to cook.

I’ve already mentioned Christmas (sorry if it’s too early for any of you) but we like to prepare from September, we’ve made Cotswold Damson Gin, Sloe Gin, Blackberry Whiskey, Blackberry Jelly, Raspberry Jam and Spiced Plum Chutney. The Spiced Plum Chutney is a favourite in our house, being coeliac finding gluten free chutneys isn’t easy. In the recipe we’ve swapped the vinegar for white and red wine vinegar so it’s one hundred percent gluten free. The recipe states damsons but we swap these for plums. https://www.deliaonline.com/recipes/international/european/british/spiced-damson-chutney

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and enjoy making the recipes. Now I’m going to find a pumpkin to carve to get ready for Halloween. It’s a shame trick or treating isn’t allowed this year but I hope you have a spooktacular time nevertheless. For now, take care and stay safe.

I really need to get better at pumpkin carving! Pumpkin circa 2019

My Holiday to Hope Cove

I’ve just returned my my holiday in Devon, we stayed in Hope Cove. What a beautiful, relaxing week away I’ve had, just what I’ve needed! I did a lot of walking, relaxing by the sea reading my book, meeting family (socially distanced) and had some amazing meals out. In this blog I’m going to try and give you my recommendations for the Hope Cove area, including places to eat, dog friendly beaches, and my favourite walks.

We arrived on the Saturday, we didn’t do much except have a little wonder around Hope Cove. Our apartment was situated literally a minute walk away which was perfect! On the Sunday (dad’s birthday) we went on a lovely long walk around the coast path, stopping at Oceans Reach for a drink (really lovely place to stop mid walk, very pricey but I’d say it’s worth it for a drink).

Our Leon enjoying the scenery on the Coast path
Beautiful views of Hope Cove

For Dad’s birthday meal we went to Kingsbridge to eat at the Crab Shell. Meal wasn’t the best of the week (I had gluten free pizza, lots of gluten free options) I’d give the food 6/10 and I think it’s important to note how “Covid secure” I felt the restaurant was, I’d give 8/10 for Covid security.

Monday, more beautiful walking, this time with family to and around Thurlestone, along the coast paths, another beautiful breathtaking walk. On our way back we stopped at South Milton Sands which is dog friendly, Leon had his first ever dip in the sea, he loved it! That evening we had a meal with family at their apartment, I’d give them 10/10 for the food and Covid security!

Leon loving the beach South Milton Sands for the very first time. Beautiful Thurletone rock in the background

Tuesday, Leon and dad went on dad’s “most favourite walk ever” to Salcombe from Hope Cove (8 miles but he did nearly 10 because they got lost somehow). Me, mum and family went to Salcombe, we couldn’t believe how busy it still was in September, we did struggle to park, but we eventually parked in Shadycombe car park (The Creek carpark is nearby which is good for the ferry which we didn’t get to go over on this time). We had a drink at the top of the town at Sailor V, we didn’t eat, I was tempted because there was a gluten free brownie advertised (gluten free brownies get stick but I do love them!) We had a stop at my favourite shop in Salcombe, Amelias Attic. We had lunch in Street Island Deli, which is right next to the Shadycombe car park, steps up and down from the deli. The deli were really helpful in helping me find something gluten free to have, I chose a couple of salads to try and they were delicious, we also had a place to sit outside which was beautiful. That evening we had dinner at The Sloop in Bantham (which has a beautiful beach) the menu was excellent, lots of gluten free food marked on the menu (usually find menus only mark vegan or veggie) food 6/10 Covid secure 9/10.

East Prawle was our day out on Wednesday. The sat nav kept trying to take us down the gnarliest track roads ever (a lot of roads are like this around there, so narrow too I think the narrowness is made worse by how high the banks are!) we followed the HGV road signs to East Prawle (disclaimer the HGV roads barely fit a tractor down, I can’t imagine how narrow the roads were it was trying to take us down). East Prawle is beautiful, there’s a National Trust car park, but we parked in the village. Very very Cliffy in places (not great if you have vertigo!) after the strenuous walk we had a drink at the village pub The Pigs Nose, we sat outside and it was lovely. There was also a Piglet cafe and emporium, none, unfortunately were open.

East Prawle point cliff climbing
East Prawle pub

Wednesday evenings meal was my favourite by far. The Bear and Blacksmith in Chillington. Food and Covid security both 10/10 the staff even wore face masks! The chef made me a special veggie gluten free meal and it was absolutely delicious. Can not recommend this place enough.

Fresh char grilled veggie bowl Yum!

Thursday was pretty chilled, we went to South Milton Sands again so Leon could have a proper swim in the sea, which he loved. We had a drink and ice cream at the Beach House which is just above the beach, it’s lovely, but small and does get quite busy.

Leon at the Beach House

Thursday evening we ate with family at The Inn in Thurlsetone which was really good. Food 10/10 Covid secure 9/10 staff wore visors. Again, they made sure my meal was gluten free (coeliac disease is pretty serious so have to make sure all food is fully gluten free).

Our last day Friday, mum and I popped to Kingsbridge in the morning. Really nice little town, we had a coffee at a cafe called Mangetout, they are currently working on opening the outside area to make more space as the cafe is very small and doesn’t have a lot of seating, especially with Covid social distancing methods. My favourite shop in Kingsbridge is Lazy Sunday’s. We then had another walk around the coast paths, another little run on the Hope Cove beach with Leon (there are 2 beaches in Hope Cove that have different rules and different times and seasons dogs are allowed on the beach so it’s worth checking it out first). We had dinner at the Cove. The menu wasn’t clear what was gluten free but I had another gluten free pizza, which was yummy. We had been to The Cove a couple time that week for a drink, but it was nice to eat there, very relaxed and a cool vibe. Food 9/10 Covid security 8/10.

We left at 4am Saturday morning, which as a great time to leave, we managed to get home in just under 3 hours. After working throughout the whole pandemic it was a lovely week away to relax, does anyone else find the sea air makes them feel serene? I’d recommend staying in Hope Cove and exploring the surrounding areas. There’s so much more we wish we could’ve done and seen, but I think we covered quite a lot in a week! Until next time take care.

Sunset in Kingsbridge

My Gluten Free Blog “Coeliac and Confident”

I don’t know if any of you are coeliac, but I know a lot of you watch what you eat and enjoy the photos and recipes I upload to my social media accounts.

I wanted to use this blog to explain in very simple terms what coeliac disease actually is. I’ll leave you with a yummy recipe, a Raspberry and White Chocolate Meringue Roulade.

How do I explain what coeliac disease is? It means I can’t eat gluten, can’t have anything that could be contaminated with gluten what so ever. Coeliac disease is essentially an allergy which has many more affects than you’d think. Yes I can still eat dairy, I can eat anything (apart from meat and fish because I’m vegetarian which makes it so much more complicated) that doesn’t contain gluten, which is easier said than done. Gluten is hidden in all sorts of weird and wonderful places, it’s not just bread and pasta. It is in soya sauce, Marmite, chutneys, you name it! The most annoying thing I find is when the product is gluten free but made in a gluten rich environment, meaning I cannot eat it!

I was first diagnosed with coeliac disease 3 years ago, by a blood test, which was not sufficient enough evidence. So, I continued eating gluten for 6 months until I could have an endoscopy which confirmed coeliac disease. Why did I have a blood test? Because I was feeling dizzy and unwell a lot of the time. They found I had low B12 via a normal blood test, they then decided to do extra tests. Coeliac disease blood test is a specialist blood test, not routine. So as you may have guessed coeliac disease isn’t just your usual bad stomach symptoms, it can also cause other symptoms such as, depression, low B12, lack of vitamin and nutrient absorption, osteopenia (thin bones found by a bone density test) there are so many symptoms to list it would take up the whole blog! It sounds very scary, but, 2 and a half years since my confirmation of coeliac disease I now feel very confident in my gluten free lifestyle. That is until I have to eat out… that in itself deserves its own blog!

I know a lot of people turn their noses up at gluten free foods, I will cover this in a separate blog another time, but, it’s not too bad! The bread isn’t as delicious, you’re limited on cereals etc but what have I found that’s really helped!? Baking and cooking for myself. I wish I could do a whole blog with recipes in, I may do that one day! But for now, I’ll end the blog with a delicious recipe. Enjoy!

This recipe is from Mary Berry’s cookbook, I’ve adapted it slightly… so here it is, my raspberry and white chocolate meringue roulade.

5 large egg whites
275g (10oz) Caster sugar yes I still use ozs!
50g (2oz flaked almonds)

For the filling:
Roughly a couple handfuls of white chocolate melted
300ml (1/2 pint) double cream or whipping cream
350g (12oz) fresh raspberries, keep some to decorate

Pre heat the oven to 220c/fan 200c, Gas 7. Line w 33x23cm (13x19inch) baking tray with baking parchment. A tip to get the parchment to not fly off the baking tray is to apply a little oil to the baking tray and lay the baking parchment on top, this should keep it still.

I use a metal bowl to whisk my egg whites in. To not waste any eggs I have 3 bowls, one to put the egg yolks in (keep them in fridge and make lemon curd) the egg whites in one, then tip the egg whites into the metal bowl, that way if you get any egg yolk in the egg white you’ll only be wasting one egg instead of 5. Beat the egg whites until very stiff, until you can turn the bowl upside down and no egg white spills out gradually tablespoon by tablespoon add the sugar whilst you beat (good to have 2 people!) whisk until combined and stiff.

Spread the meringue onto the prepared baking tray, sprinkle the flaked almonds over, I then carefully bang the baking tray against the surface to make sure no excess air is there. Place the baking tray in the oven, fairly near the top for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes turn your oven down to 160/140 fan/Gas 3 and bake for a further 15 minutes until firm to touch.(I set an alarm on my Alexa to remind me!)

Out of the oven ready to be turned over and cooled. You’d see people in the bake off tent flapping their baking trays at this trying to get it cool in time!

Remove from oven, carefully turn over so the almond side is facing down, let it cool for 10 minutes.

Whilst the meringue cools, whisk the cream until in creates firm peaks, don’t over whisk or it will curdle. With a wooden or metal spoon combine the raspberries into the cream (make sure you keep a few for decoration ) spread the cream onto the cooled meringue with a flat surfaced knife.

Mix in the raspberries it doesn’t matter if they go “smooshy “

I then drizzle over the melted white chocolate.

Drizzle however you fancy, I just use a fork

Time for the fun part…. to roll!!!

Roll like this, length ways
Then decorate which should look something like this!!

And finally… enjoy!! A naturally gluten free, non complex pudding!
If anyone has any questions or wants to send me a photo of their bake please do so!

Until next time, stay safe.