Saturday, 4 January 2014

Review: "Brew and Brownie" (York)

Today's weather was miserable to say the least, so it was lucky that I had the prospect of my breakfast in York to put a little spring into my step when I woke up this morning. A friend suggested brunch at "Brew and Brownie" in York I was quick to reply "HECK YEAH". Days when you have a special hearty breakfast seem brighter and more fun somehow, and so today was a good day.

I chose a bircher muesli. The oats were soaked overnight in apple juice and then mixed with a crunch granola, greek yoghurt, dried fruits and nuts, and a berry jam. A little bottle of apple juice was served on the side to loosen it up a little because overnight oats can be stodgy. The texture was just right and the apple juice had just the right amount of sweetness without the cloyingly sweet taste of sugary juices. The atmosphere was relaxed and with a modern rustic feel that is so popular nowadays. I've been before and tried the Yorkshire sharing platter with a friend and I've been raving about B&B ever since.  After about eating half we were utterly defeated, meaning that I was left with a leaky paper bag with our leftover pork pie for around for 3 hours. Until the smell started to earn me odd looks from shoppers and I had to throw it away. It was so sad.
The platter was just too huge for two people, there was salad, slices of ham, beef, freshly baked bread, a selection of cheese, condiments and the pie which proved the biggest challenge out of all of them. I think we would have been better of ordering the small platter (I use the word "small" very loosely here, judging from when I saw it being served to the neighbouring couple) My friend and I both have pretty sizeable appetites and yet we were waddling out the cafe once we were through. This dish was a beautiful thing, but was also a food quest that is not for the faint-hearted.

I know it's a bit strange going out for breakfast when I have perfectly crunchy granola in the comforts of my own kitchen, but then again you could say the same for going for coffee or buying sandwiches. There is something really intimate and fun about sharing your breakfast with friends and having strange breakfast-ey chats. It might even convert some 8am zombies into morning people. And if the morning conversation doesn't convert you, than maybe the sky high pancake stacks will...

Friday, 3 January 2014

What to expect from 2014.

Whoah there 2014. I'm still reeling from the punch in the face that 2013 gave me. The first few days of January is always a whirlwind of nostalgic facebook statuses about the past year and long rambling blog posts (much like this one will probably be actually, sorry about that.)  I can't say that I am not happy to leave behind 2013, but I'm not letting it pass without taking a few things with me.

Every year brings something new, and 2013 taught me to make plans. This year I'm excited about what is going to happen, and I guess that means that I'm no longer "living in the moment" but whatever. I'm pretty sure that living in the moment is vastly over -rated. There is a beauty in having a goal in the near or distant future, one that works to everyone's happiness and then just going for it. Not "at all costs" because this attitude can be selfish and even destructive to those around you, it should be flexible according to your situation.

This is where planning comes in. Even though I'm ridiculously disorganized and scatterbrained, I actually love to plan. Working towards a goal gives immense satisfaction when it's fulfilled. But it also pays to throw a little reality in there somewhere too. When I traveled to France I only asked for simple things: for the food to be good, to learn French and to make friends.
I approached every day willing it to surprise me as it so often did. The difficult times didn't shatter any perfect world because I didn't idealistic dreams of France. The result was that my France was perfect and I loved every quirk and potentially disastrous minute I stayed there.
So now I'm steering clear of resolutions for my 2014. Resolutions are a strange invention that mean you only think day to day of how to keep them, and of course predictably (if you're me) one day you forget. And then what do you do for the rest of the year? So instead I'm going to make plans. Because plans are fun and nonthreatening. If I think of a better way to spend my energy, or if the plan simply isn't meant to be, then that's ok. No harm done, and even better, I still have something to look forward to!
My favorite plan is to show my friends that I think of them all often and appreciate them no matter where in the world they are. I could send letters, pick up the phone when I have a few minute spare, pack parcels for birthdays or Christmas..the possibilities are endless and there is no time limit to be guilty about. I also plan to travel, and there are infinite ways to achieve this and endless ways to do it. I could go on and list them all, but instead I'm going to write a quick postcard...So there it is, my rambling blogpost is done and I can safely say that I'm now ready for whatever 2014 has to offer. I wish everyone a happy new year.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

I went to Ireland and this happened...

On boxing day I visited a great friend of mine in Ireland. It was one of the best decisions I have ever made, I can't believe it took me so long to make it! I have been to Thailand, Japan, Italy, France etc but Ireland is a different world in itself. It was a trek to get there because I flew to Dublin and caught a 3 hour bus to Galway where my friend Niamh lives. I forgot to print my ticket and narrowly missed shelling out a seventy pound fine. On arrival the gale force winds and rain were so strong that the bus driver took one look at little ol' me with mad flyaway hair streaked attractively across my face, my clothes totally soaked through and went "Jeezus, wait till you get to Galway." Not the most promising of starts.

But Galway glows a unique kind of happiness. I spent five days amongst the most genuine and beautiful people I have ever come across. There is a total openness in their manner that means you could initiate a chat with nearly everyone and they would quite happily spend a minute or two getting to know you. I drank a lot with my friends whilst I was over there but it was all done with such a cheeriness that it didn't turn to regret in the morning...

The bars themselves are a sight to behold. If you have never been to Ireland, then there is no way to do them justice. They have a tardis-like quality with the guise of a small front that blossoms into one room or stage after another where home-grown musical talents play away to an appreciative bobbing crowd. It was there that I had my first Irish pint of Guinness and the rumours are true, it tastes like no other Guinness you've ever had. It was so creamy and buttery that I could only describe it as beer pie.

The city itself has a definite bustle and one that didn't make me feel rushed or anxious as I normally do in cities such as London or Manchester. The sales were on and I think the atmosphere was a little tense as people rushed around to snaffle the best bargains but it only added to the life of the city. No, I didn't take as many photos as I would have liked but to be honest I was too busy drinking it all in.