Its Time To Make A Change…….

1 Oct

They say that changes are hard to do, but I think this is going to be a good one. I’ve long since tired of the limited design capabilities in WordPress, and so after 4 years, have made the move over to Squarespace, where I hope you will join me. I’ve got a fun new look but that’s the only thing thats changed, and I have vowed to post more regularly too!

The transition should be smooth, the URL stays the same ( but the difference is that you won’t see me pop up in your feed on WordPress, so please take the time to bookmark my new page or sign up for email updates there.

Thanks for all the support you have given me on WordPress, now head over and check out my new design, I would love to hear what you think!

Laura x

Delectable Desserts: Raspberry and Dark Chocolate Tart (WARNING: Super rich!)

23 Sep

I’ve got to admit, baking isn’t my strong suit. Don’t get me wrong, I love to cook and I’m not bad, but when it comes to making sweet dishes I have a bit of a meltdown. I think it stems from the fact that I am quite creative in the kitchen and therefore not too good at sticking to a recipe, but with baking you need to be, or face catastrophic disasters.


Disasters which the boy has witnessed; me having a meltdown on the kitchen floor when something doesn’t look like it did in the picture, or the time when I broke the freezer in a strop at icing not setting (we can only try to improve on the day before, after all!)


After being gifted the chocolate cookbook from during yesterday’s event, the Boy decided that the Chocolate and Raspberry Tart was something he needed in his life, so I had a go.

There were a few issues. Number one, I don’t have any baking beans. This is an issue, but I made do with rice and foil. Not the best fix! Number two, I don’t have a large flan tin. Again, I made do with individual ones, but the process took way longer than it should! And finally, issue three, my clingfilm, is most definitely not ovenproof (don’t worry, I made this realisation before I put it in the oven). Despite all this, I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Thanks to Tales from the Chocolate Shop, who popped on Google when I was near tears and searching for “can you fix split ganache” the answer is yes. Thank goodness!


Eric Lanlard’s Chocolate and Raspberry Tart Recipe

Serves 6

Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus chilling and cooling

Cooking time: 25 minutes


175g (6oz) plain flour, plus extra for dusting

50g (2oz) cocoa powder

50g (2oz) golden icing sugar

150g (5oz) unsalted butter, cubed,

plus extra for greasing

3 egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

500g (1lb) raspberries

For the ganache

200g (7oz) dark chocolate, roughly chopped

200ml (7fl oz) single cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

75g (3oz) unsalted butter

Sift the flour, cocoa powder and icing sugar together into a large bowl. Add the butter and rub in using your fingertips until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and gently mix together, then add the vanilla and combine to form a smooth dough. Cover with clingfilm and leave to rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 190°C (fan 170°C)/375°F/gas mark 5.

Lightly grease a 24cm (9½in) diameter tart tin. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and carefully use to line the tin. Cover with ovenproof clingfilm and prick a few holes to avoid pockets of air while it bakes. Fill the pastry case with baking beans and bake in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove the clingfilm and beans and return to the oven for a further 5 minutes. Leave to cool.

To make the ganache, melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the surface of the water does not touch the bowl. Meanwhile, put the cream into a saucepan and heat until steaming hot, but do not let it boil.

Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and slowly pour in the cream, gently stirring the mixture. Add the vanilla, then the butter and stir together.

Pack the cooled pastry case with raspberries, saving a few for decoration. Pour the hot chocolate ganache over the raspberries to fill to the top of the pastry.

Leave to set in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Serve decorated with the reserved raspberries dusted with a little icing sugar.

Cake Creations with Cake Boy’s Eric Lanlard

22 Sep

I love learning how to do things. It might be the eager school kid in me, but if I can go to a class and learn something new, I’m in my happy place. Last year I tried my hand at a Sushi Masterclass and a Truffle Making Class, and this year I have made French Macarons and Pork Pies. I have a real hunger to try my hand at creating things, and with a passion for cooking anyway, the culinary classes really work for me.

So when I was offered the chance to attend a blogger evening at Cake Boy, I jumped at the chance. The evening was designed to show us new recipes from Eric Lanlard’s collection and give us the chance to decorate our own cupcakes. Fun for a Tuesday night, and who doesn’t love being armed with the skills to whip up a delicious cake from scratch? Homemade always taste best, so in lieu of having my very own patissier stationed in the flat, learning the tricks of the trade is the next best thing.

The thing I love about blogger events is being able to put names to faces. We perch behind computers each day documenting our lives, but rarely get the option to meet and interact away from a glass screen. There were some lovely girls in attendance that I have had the pleasure of talking to before (check out Sarah @The Laughing Medusa and Manasi from In Her 30s for a start), but meeting in the flesh to me is always an important part to me, and something I don’t take the time to do enough.


The event was brilliant. We started off being taught two recipes – one amazing tasting red velvet cheesecake, and a second West Indies chocolate tart (where the chocolate ganache was infused with star anise and nutmeg). We chowed down on slices of the cakes, and then took to teams to decorate our own cupcakes. I paired with Fiona from The Very Hungry Londoner, and although we won at speed eating the cheesecake, our technique on the cupcakes was lacking, as we excitedly forgot to sandwich the layers with frosting. Oh well!



At the end of the evening we took a team shot and left with a fantastic goodie bag (including our very own Kitchen Aid hand whisk and a signed copy of Eric’s new cookbook)



For more of Eric’s tips on baking head over to the Curry’s blog.

Have you ever attended a cookery class? What did you cook?

An Alternative Guide to Surviving Freshers Week

18 Sep

Firstly, if you are a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed fresher who is just about to embark on their uni career having left the bank of Mum and Dad to strike out alone, this isn’t the post for you. In fact, this probably isn’t the blog for you. Try not to channel your inner Glinda and store the excitement of living with people in a safe place; I’ll remind you in five years, when you’ve lived with someone who works nights and rolls out her crazy if anyone breathes too loudly while she’s sleeping, or the student who sees washing as an optional life choice.


I am too old, and I cannot use the words ‘totes emoshe’ to convey any feeling other than one of a prize penis for actually saying it. All I know about university is from what friends and family have told me, given that I never went. It sounds like a smorgasbord of late nights, trips to A&E with alcohol poisoning, too much coffee, and if you are unlucky, an STD, and that’s not what I’m about. Yeah yeah, and the studying, but the studying part isn’t the problem, is it?


What I am well qualified to help out with is how to survive fresher’s week, if, like me, you live near a University, a campus, dorms or any other holding cell where they put the teens these days ( I also live neatly between 2 prisons, and I’d take my chances on one of those over halls any day).

I have the pleasure of a lovely flat that looks out over a courtyard. When we moved in we thought it was lovely, a quiet location near the tube that would provide peaceful solitude. Shame on me for not doing my research, but the flats opposite turned out to be student accommodation for UCL, and this is how I reach my new authority on dodging the bullet that is … freshers week.

They come, and one by one they occupy their rooms, like creatures in a zoo. They sit behind their glass windows as if they are in tanks, and they stare into our windows. And we stare into theirs, marvelling at the innocence of the new student creature that is staying.

Hard to tell the difference, this could be confused for a fresher after a heavy week of foam parties. It is a zombie

If, like me, you have found yourself in the middle of a zombie fresher apocalypse, take heed of these tips:

  • Never look them directly in the eye. They feel threatened and might bite. Hahaha, that’s not one really. (Might be).
  • Keep windows closed at all times. No matter how hot it is inside, and however it feels way more sensible to open the window than fork out for a fan, keep them closed. You do not want to hear the sounds of retching when the wind changes nor do you want to ever experience the pain of drunk freshers singing, in choir like symmetry, Celine Dion. I swear that sound will haunt me forever.
  • Become fast on your feet. You may be innocently on your way to catch the 91 to work of a morning, but they are sleeping off last nights antics. Learning to be spritely of step will allow you to dodge various piles of sick on your walk and negotiate the delicately strewn scores of used condoms, in assorted shades, lining the pavement.
  • Always carry headphones. When popping out to get groceries or waiting for the bus of a morning, ensure you are plugged in and calmly listening to music to take you to your happy place. This will ensure you miss all (loud) conversations about who did what last night, charity work and gap yaaaaahs. No one cares, youth.

May the force be with you.

What’s your favourite fresher related story? Do you have any good Uni memories?

Sightseeing My City: Hint Hunt and London Appreciation

15 Sep

I love to travel (as you can probably tell) and for this reason I often let it blind side me and forget the scores of opportunities for the weird and the wonderful that London has to offer. Every now and then something comes along and I suddenly appreciate that this city has so much more and I need to take the time to wonder at it while I’m here. I think we are all guilty of it, and having had a tourist here for the summer with me, it has made me more appreciative of being a tourist in my own city, and made me realise what I tae for granted when I go about my daily routine.

So when the lovely people at Joe’s Blog network asked me to take part in a Hint Hunt last week, courtesy of LV insurance, I jumped at the chance, particularly as it was something I had never heard of before. But of course I rushed off to Google it once I had accepted, didn’t I?


Actually, no. I was so busy that I let it slide, until the day of the event when Erica, sitting across me in the office asked “Do you think I need flat shoes?”

What for? I wondered.

OH LORD. It suddenly dawned on me it might be a treasure hunt, around the suddenly quite cold and autumnal city, packed full of tourists on the busy pavements in the evening. I was tired and yawny, and suddenly the prospect of cancelling was all the more likely.

I’m so glad I went, people. I don’t want to give too much away as it will ruin the mystery that keeps it so exciting, but the Hint Hunt is a physical location behind Euston station. Your small group (mine were Erica, Haydn and Natalie) get ushered into a teeny tiny office room, and you get locked in. Think Crystal Maze, but minus the crystal and the maze. You have to solve a heap of clues as a team (you can’t be a lone ranger, as you definitely wouldn’t get out in time) so it’s really team building, and a great way to get to know people. This post has a lack of photos as of course you can’t take photos in there, but believe me (as an antisocial person) this isn’t one of those awkward making small talk type venues. It’s so good that we have booked it at work for a team building event in October, and I’m pretty excited! I got to meet some lovely people in the flesh rather than screen to screen blogger interaction, and that was quite possibly the fastest hour of my life, searching for clues and watching the time tick down!

Have you ever done something out of the ordinary in your city? I would love to hear an alternative tourist guide!

Sightseeing My City: Warner Brothers Studio Tour and Harry Potter

1 Sep

A while ago, The Boy decided to buy me a surprise gift and then got drunk and attempted to sing me a clue. Which was the Star Wars theme tune, over and over. I tried my hardest to guess. “Something to do with Star Wars?” I was told no and more Star Wars was sung until I could take it no longer and he fell asleep.

The fireplace in the Great Hall

The fireplace in the Great Hall

Fast forward a few days and a slightly more sober Boy told me he had tickets to Harry Potter World, a place I had wanted to visit since the opening, but had never got around to visiting. I don’t know about you, but I grew up with Harry Potterbooks in my life and loved them. Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone was released when I was eleven, and from that day forward I was catapulted headfirst into a dream world; a place where magic happened and imagination unfolded.


I remember my first holiday in Greece with my friends, sitting and reading the Half Blood Prince by the pool, the sun beating down and the excitement at having bought it and not started reading it till my trip began dissipating as I turned the pages.

The Dursley's House

The Dursley’s House


Over the course of ten years my sister and I waited with bated breath as first the rest of the books, and second, the films, were released and we could get our fix. I remember the sadness of going to see the last film in the cinema, (together, as was our tradition) as I knew it was the end of an era. That feeling of firsts when it came to Harry was over.


So I was pretty excited to go to the studios and see all the components that made up the film, especially as it was December which meant the additional magic of the snow and the Christmas tree which one featured in the Great Hall would be making a guest appearance.


It was magical. The experience takes you through set locations like the Great Hall, Privet Drive and Diagon Alley, and each of the artefacts have a story to go with them. One thing we didn’t do was pay extra for the headsets as the tickets were relatively expensive, and this is something I would strongly recommend paying that extra bit for. The headsets give you far more description on all the different things, and I really regret not grabbing one!


The highlight of the trip for me was Diagon Alley; walking past all the shops that boggled my mind when watching the first film with Hagrid and Harry. It’s exactly as you expect, but with that extra magic thrown in – cobbles, storefronts offering owls, frogs and magic wands, and old-fashioned street lamps all adding to the mystery of the wizarding world.

Diagon Alley

Diagon Alley – photobombed by such a real dummy that Facebook keeps asking me to tag it!

When we stepped out onto the external set and into Privet Drive, the extra touches were what did it for me. The fake snow started, and at 27. I was squealing with excitement like a little child. All the outfits, props and ‘wizardry’ that make Hogwarts what it is to each and every person is featured, and finishes with a massive maquette of Hogwarts, made entirely to scale.


I loved it.


Things I would bear in mind (especially if you aren’t from London):

Watford is a bit out of London, which makes sense given the scale of the studio! You can get the Hogwarts express (yep, real scheduled bus) but the cheapest way is to get the tube, or the overground.


Leave plenty of time. You don’t want to be rushing around Hogwarts, do you? The lines get pretty big for your time slot, and to rush would be to miss out on some of the fantastic facts and props.


Don’t worry about food. There is a Starbucks there, but if you are travelling from London I would head back there to eat. If you are travelling with children, the Rainforest Café is a favourite of my god-daughter, complete with jungle thunderstorms, elephants, and chairs with animal tails.


What’s your favourite part of the Harry Potter stories? Have you been to Warner Brothers Studios?

I Heart Instagram – Why You Should Too

31 Aug

I love Instagram. It lacks the complexity of Facebook, no constant updates on (this is an actual example) what an acquaintance and her boyfriend are having for tea, no incessant Ice Bucket Challenges and no need to get that fear that you are missing out on life because all the people you went to school with are holidaying / married / pregnant / doing more fun stuff than the shopping!

Its less basic than Twitter, and just gives you a glimpse into other lives – a way to transport you from having that cup of tea at your desk into someone else’s front room. It’s first class curtain twitching. on crack. So here are my three favourite accounts, and why:

1) What Peggy Said


Gorgeous calligraphy aplenty, Kim’s account also gives you your fair share of beagles and knitting, plus regular (gorgeous) shots of Norwich, which just happens to be where my sister is at University. I love the fact that my feed is peppered with shots of bold colours, guaranteed to put a smile on your face when the rain is lashing at the windows and someone in the office used the last of the milk.

2) Camp Patton


I do not know how this woman copes with four small children all running in different directions, but she sure does, and with such a lot of humour. Her blog makes me laugh out loud, her daughter has the sassiest pants on the block, and I love it all. I hope I parent like that.

3) Rene Charles NYC


You may ask the boy, but I can confirm I have a serious puppy problem. Enter Rene Charles. The cutest french bulldog around, the person who runs this account adds witty one liners that make me squeal. The girls at work think all I follow is the puppy and Tinie Tempah, due to amounts of squeal explanations.

Do you love Instagram? Who are your favourites?

What Tugs on Your Heart and Reminds You of Home?

30 Aug

I’m the antithesis of a hoarder, preferring to keep life clutterless, in case I want to up sticks and move cities. I’ve not done this in a little while, however there is a streak in me that needs to see all available exits, ready to go and see the rest of the world. It’s currently (relatively) dormant, but we shall see.

I love a good competition, but when I saw this one, I had to think on it, for the reasons above. I’m not a collector of stuff, more a keeper or memories, and I had to dig deep to find something I have kept for nostalgia purposes. I’ve never won anything in my life either, but am ever the optimist!

And then it occurred to me. I am in possession of a gorgeous pair of old-fashioned weighing scales, given to me by my late maternal great (in every sense of the word)  grandmother. She had no use for them, such was her experience in making cakes that she would just throw a slosh of milk or a sprinkle of sugar into her mixing bowl, and the cakes that would be produced were delicious. She sold them at bake sales for the church and there was always a list of people she had to make a cake for. She died last year at the ripe old age of 100, just a few weeks shy of her 101st birthday, but her memory lives on.


But it isn’t just her that the scales remind me of, it’s also my paternal grandfather. I’ve written about him a few times over the years (namely here and here) but when we lost him ten months ago, suddenly everything reminded me of him. The kitchen, a place we spent the majority of our time together, had memories in every turn – a dash of paprika here called to mind a memory of being taught to make tapas, and a splash of wine there reminded me of the summer he and my grandmother brought home a bounty of lemons from the house in Portugal and sipped on Limoncello till the autumn was done.

A rather grainy photo of my late Grandfather - although a pretty good shot seeing as it was taken over 30 years ago!

A rather grainy photo of my late Grandfather – although a pretty good shot seeing as it was taken over 30 years ago!

So every time I use the scales I remember these two profound influences in my life.

You can enter the competition, powered by British Gas, here.

What stirs up your nostalgia and reminds you of your childhood?

Eating My Way Around: On The Roof With…. Q

29 Aug

I love a pop up. And I love eating. So the arrival of “On the Roof With…” at Selfridges was an interesting concept, and something that I was wholly interested in. I love the idea of taking spaces that are disused, misused or underused, and converting them into exciting new ventures to pique the interest of the masses. Sure, it might end up full of pretentious suits and boujis biatches, but it also might be something worth seeing or experiencing.

And this was the case with “On the Roof with … Q” Brought to you by the guys that do the Q Grill in Camden, the sales pitch was promising:

“We will be bringing a top team from Q Grill in Camden to deliver a BBQ menu unlike any other, paired with a lighter range of delicious summer dishes. On the Roof with Q will be a secret foodie haven that will offer a fun and fresh dining experience alongside a programme of talks from some of the most innovative and influential people working in the food industry right now.’’

With the time that Elle was spending in London drawing to a close, we decided to book the table for a balmy Tuesday and head on up after work. We arrived early and found a seat at the bar, where we sat and experienced some really unusually, and gorgeous tasting cocktails, before being shown to our table. The décor was amazing. Designed to make you feel like you are being transported back to a Victorian garden, the dense foliage and cute little birdcages provide a gorgeous setting to eat dinner, and the food didn’t disappoint either.

Image courtesy of Q Grill

Image courtesy of Q Grill

We had a feast of delicious food, including chicken wings, tuna tartare and a huge rack of ribs to share between us. The meat fell off the bone, the sauce was thick and delicious, and we left the experience feeling happy and full.

Image courtesy of Q Grill

Image courtesy of Q Grill

If you are in London, I would strongly recommend making a booking. Its one of those pop ups that you need to visit!

On the roof with…. Q runs till the 27th of September

Selfridges |400 Oxford Street | W1A 1AB

Investing In… Cohabiting In Peace

28 Aug

I’m home alone, and there are some strange thuds coming from the hallway. I’ve watched one too many episodes of Criminal Minds in my life time to assume this is anything less than a home invasion, and I am thinking about what is at hand to protect myself with.

And then I remember, it’s the new hoover robot, and it has a lot of dust to eat.6651i489B344C7E926448

When Legal and General got in touch with me regarding their things that are worth investing in campaign, I was a little stumped. What do I think is worth investing in, other than the obvious things? Headphones that don’t break in 2 seconds? Savings? A pension? All of the above are things I do (well apart from the first, I am a victim of cheap and cheerful when it comes to headphones!) but what could I invest in that would help me today and tomorrow?

And then it came to me. 99% of the conversations between me and the Boy are directly related to the cleaning of the flat. I simply cannot comprehend how he sees it in his heart to put his plate in the sink, yet it doesn’t cross his mind to take a step to the left, bend down and put it in the dishwasher. And don’t even get me started on taking the laundry out of the machine. It dawned on my yesterday that I might think that in the 8 months we have been living together, my training of him has failed, but maybe his training of me to not expect him to do these things has actually won! Haha.the_jetsons_decal_rosie_dusting__80560

So I went with the hoover robot. Which I imagine will change my life. My family have a hoover robot that chases the puppies round the house when they aren’t in and cleverly navigates corners and stairs, although I imagine theirs is a very expensive version. Our choice is a bottom of the market example and is currently bashing around the hall like it has some kind of spatial awareness problem, but it has collected all the sesame seeds I spilled on the floor this morning, and for that I am eternally grateful.

What would you invest in? The more imaginative the better!

*This post was a collaboration with Legal and General, but all thoughts are my own!