Tuesday, 16 February 2016

Tropical World

On Sunday I went to Tropical World at Roundhay Park in Leeds. Tropical World is a garden tourist attraction with tropical plants and exotic wildlife. We went at possibly one of the busiest times ever! It was right at the start of half-term holidays, there were so many families and children there. Not quite the quiet day trip I expected but still a lovely day out.

The first thing you do at Tropical World is walk through the butterfly sanctuary part. I was sort of expecting there to be a lot more butterflies than there were. When I first walked in a few flew by my face and I got excited, but after that I didn’t see any more until the very end. Maybe they were all hiding or having a romantic Sunday afternoon alone. But the place did look pretty with all the greenery and waterfalls. Plus it was kept really warm for the wildlife, which was a nice contrast to the icy weather outside.

I really enjoyed all the birds at Tropical World! There were bright, colourful parrots and some funny birds I’ve never heard of before. They would just walk right alongside you on the path, or cut in front of you as they crossed form one side to the other. There was one species of bird in particular that made me giggle, they just dangle their bums below the wires looking very happy with themselves. We picked a species of bird from one of the information boards and went bird spotting but neither of us could find the ones we chose! 

I always gravitate towards the meerkats whenever I’m at the zoo, so when I found out there were some at Tropical World I picked up my pace a bit to get there quicker. I love how one always stands guard, doing the famous meerkats pose, while the others just mess about. Are you a big animal lover too? What’s your favourite wild animal?

Sunday, 14 February 2016 / Manchester, UK

Give me Pho

Please sir, can I have some Pho? Gimme gimme Pho gimme Pho. Pho Pho Pho, how d’ya like it, how d’ya like it? Okay I’m done with the puns…almost…one Pho time! Now I am done, promise.

I recently went to Pho with the boyfriend for his birthday and I absolutely love this restaurant so I thought I would write up a little review on the place. For those of you who haven’t heard of Pho before, it is a chain of Vietnamese restaurants that have around 18 locations all over Engalnd, including Manchester, Cambridge, Birmingham, London, Brighton and Leeds. Pho first began when a couple travelled to Vietnam and fell in love with the place. While eating a Pho Bo in Ho Chi Minh they loved the food so much they decided to open up a restaurant back home.

So the first thing you’ll notice when you go to Pho is the awesome décor that they have. Red brick walls, an assortment of lamps hanging from the roof and off the walls and wooden chairs and tables, it’s all very hip and stylish. The staff are really friendly and very knowledgeable about the menu, which is great when you don’t know Vietnamese food all too well!

 We started the evening with Mojitos. I’m not a big fan of mojitos, it’s not something I ever order for myself. But when I booked the meal at Pho online, I put in the comment box it was for a birthday, expecting them to maybe put up a balloon up on the table. Instead they brought us both birthday cocktails for free. Amazing! And they actually tasted really good, one of the best cocktails I’ve had, which was a happy surprise.

Next on the menu was our starters. We went for Chả giò, which are crispy spring rolls and you can choose either vegetable or pork (we went pork). We also had Cánh gà, crispy chicken wings served with sriracha. Both were really tasty but the winner was the pork spring rolls, they were crammed full of meat and veg and were so incredibly delicious, I could easily have ate more!

For the main event we had the Pho Bo Combo, which is a noodle soup dish with steak, brisket and meatballs (sounds incredible right?). You can have different Pho dishes with just one of the meats but it was a special occasion after all so we went for the combo. It is sort of like a big broth with noodles and meat. The soup is really tasty and the meat is cooked perfectly. Word of warning though, the Pho Bo Combo is huge and neither of us could finish it, so if you’re looking for something a little lighter I recommend going for one of the other options with just one meat. If you’re up for a challenge, the combo is the one for you!

It’s Pho than a feeling, Pho than a feeling! Sorry, couldn’t resist! Have you ever been to Pho?

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Trio of Panckes

I LOVE PANCAKE DAY!!! What’s not to love? Every year I tend to just make pancake after pancake, putting on a variety of toppings, even testing out Jelly Babies back in the University days. This year I decided to adopt a more structured approach and made a trio of pancakes, which included a starter, a main and, of course, a big old chocolatey dessert! So without further ado, here is what was on this year’s menu.

Starter – Lemon Pancake
So for the starter we went for the classic lemon pancake. This is a big favourite of the boyfriends so he insisted it went on the menu somewhere. I usually use bottled lemon juice but this year I decided to go fresh, partly because I thought it would taste better and also partly because it would look so aesthetically pleasing (classic blogger).

Main – Sweet Potato Pancake
I have never really done a savoury pancake before but usually I find that too many normal ones can get a bit repetitive and sickly sometimes (in retrospect that may just have been the Jelly Babies). So I looked online and immediately fell in love with this one (recipe here). It was sort of like having a sweet potato version of those smiley potatoes you got as kids. I also had some sour cream and chive dip and some green beans on the side.

Dessert – Chocolate Madness Stack
You can’t do Pancake Day without having a chocolate flavoured pancake. It’s just unnatural. And as I am giving up chocolate for lent I felt I had to have a proper goodbye. I am not a big fan of Nutella (sorry everyone) so I used Dairy Milk chocolate spread for the filling. On top I used mini marsh mallows and Maltesers, then I drizzled over chocolate and strawberry sauce. 

I loved mixing up some sweet and savoury pancakes this year. What flavours did you go for this Pancake Day?

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Pretty City Cambridge

Cambridge is one of my most favourite cities in the world. With its beautiful college grounds, charming buildings and famous punts, there’s so much to love about the city. Luckily for me the boyfriend is from Cambridge, so we go to visit all the time and I get a guided tour from a local. One thing Cambridge is very well known for is the Colleges. There’s quite a few, including King’s College, Jesus College, Trinity College, Clare College, etc. The building and grounds are lovely to walk around in the summer each with their own individual personality and style. 

Cambridge in the summertime is my idea of perfection, it’s my favourite time to visit. Not only is the entire place just beautiful to walk around (seriously, it’s so beautiful!), they also hold lots of events, such as Jazz and Brass in the Park, Midsummer Fair and The Big Weekend. I love sitting in the park on a sunny day, listening to the live music and having a couple of drinks with friends.

Another perk of visiting in the summer is, of course, the punts! So firstly there’s the Mill Pond, which is the area next to where the main punt docking (not sure if that’s the right word) place is. People sit there having a picnic and sunbathing, watching people punt. There’s also the Mill Pond pub where you can get a nice refreshing beverage to cool you down! Then there’s the actual punts. It’s so much fun! Basically it involves pushing yourself along the river in a wooden boat, which usually holds up to about 12 people, using a long wooden pole. I've even had a go at it myself and was surprisingly good at it (sort of, I didn't fall in at least). You can do it on your own or you can do a guided tour, which are pretty good if you would like to learn a bit more about the city. Last time I went we stopped off at a wine merchants and spent the next hour slowly going along the river sipping on rose and taking in the views.

Cambridge is an amazing city to get lost in, with its cobbled streets and rich history. There are so many colourful buildings and great #DoorAppreciations going on! I've still got a lot more to see there, I can’t wait to go exploring again!

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