A weekend in the windy city {Dublin}

I know, I know, okay? When people refer to the ‘windy city’, they mean Chicago. But when we visited Dublin last month, Ireland’s capital made a very serious case for claiming the title. It also drizzled very lightly the entire time. It is not an exaggeration to say that even when it was sunny it was drizzling. But despite the adverse weather conditions and the almost knife fight which we witnessed outside a pub (I wish I was joking) we had a lovely time.

I’ve spent a lot of time in the north of Ireland – it’s where my mum is from – but very little in the South (the Republic). But one thing that all of Ireland has in common is that it feels its history very keenly. I think this probably has to do with the fact the violent events which have defined the country’s history are not long over. And sometimes the odd headline reminds you that those issues are not entirely laid to rest. So you cannot visit Dublin and avoid the Easter Rising of 1916 and the subsequent fight for independence from Britain. Photographs of the revolutionary leaders adorn pub walls; songs tell old stories of national pride. The bullet holes from 1916 still pepper the walls of the General Post Office.

Here are a collection of photographs from the city – I hope you’ll enjoy flicking through. Oh, and if you need a soundtrack, the first picture is of folk heroine Molly Malone, her statue stands in Grafton Street.  Here is The Dubliner’s version of the wonderful song about her.

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Molly Malone, Grafton Street

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The Guinness Factory

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General Post Office, O’Connell Street

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Pint of Guinness

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The Old City

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Temple Bar

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Light bulb moment

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Cream bicycle on cobbles

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The River Liffey

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Irish election poster

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Deli

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O’Neill’s

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Dublin Castle

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Ocean currents

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Foodie Adventures: Bunty’s Tea Room, Lincoln

The first thing you need to know about this cafe is that it’s on a very steep hill called Steep Hill.  I just really enjoy that. I spied Bunty’s as we toiled up the hill into Lincoln city centre, and a couple of hours later when the inevitable murmurs of an urgent need for afternoon tea began, I steered us deftly back and in we went.

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There was a warm welcome, friendly service and yummy cake. We went for the Battenberg cake, the peanut butter and chocolate cake, and a fruit scone with jam and cream. All were delicious and presented on gloriously mismatched china.

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The teapots and decor were also really cool – a medley of vintage that was cosy and not overdone.  It just makes afternoon tea so much more interesting when it’d served in a variety of pretty bits and pieces. Oh, and they had a lovely sign made out of Scrabble letters. What’s not to love?

If you find yourself in Lincoln then I highly recommend that you check out this lovely little tea shop. You can find their website here.

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Everything is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

Happy New Year!

The cynic in me is tempted to avoid new year’s resolutions. Largely because I’ve never stuck to them in the past and tend to give myself a bit of a hard time when I don’t succeed at things.  But setting an intention is meaningful in itself. Even if it only lasts for one day, you’ve still taken the time to think about what you’d like to change — definitely worth doing in my book.

So even if things go slightly awry as I rush headlong back into real life, here are the intentions I’d like to set for 2016:

  1. Mornings. I resolutely and proudly am not a morning person. My mornings are a hectic rush which usually consist of dragging myself out of bed, losing my keys, not being able to find any clothes that aren’t creased and then nearly missing my train. In 2016 I’d like to change that.  I would love my mornings to be a time of mindful preparation for the day whether that’s heading to the gym for an early morning swim or making breakfast and listening to the radio before walking calmly to the train station. This will be a challenge – it’ll mean going to bed earlier, waking up earlier and putting in effort, but I think the improved peace of mind will be more than worth it.
  2. Yoga. I really really love yoga, but it’s one of the things that gets squeezed out of my life when things get busy or I get stressed. I want 2016 to be the year that I get into better yoga practice and stick with it.  I’m starting with Adriene’s 30 day Yoga Camp – let me know if you’re joining too!
  3. Packed lunches. Ah, packed lunches. You are so much healthier and cheaper than buying lunch every day in Soho. So why am I so terrible at sticking with you? This year, please can we be better friends? I promise to dedicate at least one hour every Sunday evening to preparing you so that hopefully we can make things work this time around.

And to round things off, we started 2016 with a lovely walk to High Force Waterfall at Forest-in-Teesdale. It was freezing (literally — there were icicles!) but great.

Happy new year!

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And finally a bonus new year picture of these three jokers. Left to right my Dad, my little brother and Matt.

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Everything is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2016.

The Friday Frame {18} Early morning cows

So turns out the ‘Friday Frames’ series is less of an ‘every Friday’ type thing, more of a ‘sometimes, often not on a Friday’ type thing.  Let’s call it an ‘occasional photography series’.  Okay good, I feel better now.  I’ve really learned that the best way to enjoy this blog is to just go with the flow and post what I feel like when I feel like it.

And on that note, here’s a picture of some cows in a field in Lincolnshire. The sun had just risen, and I had woken up in a room with the radiators turned on. I can’t stand sleeping with central heating on, even when it’s freezing, because it gives me a potentially real and potentially completely psychosomatic headache. I therefore put on shoes and a big jumper over my pyjamas and clumped down the long drive of the farm where we were staying.  I say clumped because I can never quite bring myself to tie my shoelaces when I’m wearing shoes with pyjamas, and a strange trying-to-stop-shoes-coming-off gait is the result. . It was lovely to be out in the cold, fresh air.  And then I came to rest on a gate in front of a field full of cows.* And that was lovely too.

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Listening to Gold Digger by Kanye West and Jamie Foxx, Don’t Speak by No Doubt and Here (in your arms) by Hellogoodbye.

*… also horses.

Moderately incoherent rambling and photograph © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Daytrippers: Whitstable

Sometimes, you just have to get out of London.  So on a clear, crisp October day we got on a train from St Pancras to Whitstable, a small fishing town on the north coast of Kent, and spent a lovely day wandering the crooked streets and crunching along the pebbled beach.  It’s the ideal seaside town for window shopping, with endless tiny shops filled with beautiful things, and we were incredibly lucky with the weather – sunny enough to enjoy a pint (of Diet Coke, in my case) on the shingle outside the only pub on a beach I have ever come across.

It may have been cold enough for me to regret saying yes to ice in my plastic pint glass, but there’s something lovely about being bundled up warm in coats and scarves, looking out at the white horses and listening to the pebbles skittering along the shore with each wave that turns. We finished the day with fish and chips from a painted hut on the shore, followed by hot doughnuts out of a paper bag, complete with sticky fingers and sugary cheeks courtesy of the chaotic sea breezes. So here are some pictures from our day at the seaside – I hope you enjoy them.

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Listening to Sax by Fleur East, Sister Rosetta goes before us by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss and Wildest Dreams by Taylor Swift.

All words and photographs are © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Wanderlust {Warsaw}: painting in the street

While I was in Warsaw I took a lot of pictures of walls, and a few of the ground. Luckily I wasn’t just going mad — the walls and the floor were more interesting than they are in most places. That’s the round about way of saying that there was a lot of street art around and about, and here are some photographs of it. Enjoy!

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We saw this as we arrived, and it warmed my heart 🙂

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Red balloon

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Why is the sky dark at night?

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A bit of a scarier one

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Lady in pink

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Blue bird, umbrellas

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Godzilla?

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Warsaw, what you’ve done to me

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Yes, Beyonce

All images © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Foodie Adventures {Warsaw}: a whistle stop tour

What do foodies do when they go on holiday? It’s honestly not a trick question. They eat. And we certainly made the most of our time in Warsaw last month, eating in as many different places as possible all over the city. Here is a whistle stop tour of some of the best.

Cheesecake Corner

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We spent several lovely afternoons watching the world go by from a cafe on Krakowskie Przedmieście, one of Warsaw’s prettiest streets. Cheesecake, a good book and a healthy dose of sunshine-soaked people watching — it doesn’t get much better than that, does it? This Oreo cheesecake was delicious. Creamy and rich, but not too sweet. The view from the white wicker chairs outside wasn’t bad either. Their website is here.

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Tapas Gastrobar

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This was a little way away from our hostel, but very much worth the walk. The decor was just up my street: white and blue dominated, combined with geometrically patterned tiles and vintage posters in shabby chic frames. The food was exquisite and the service was fast and friendly. A highlight was the salted pork belly – hot and delicious. The cold potato salad smothered in aioli was a little unexpected, but worked perfectly. Check it out here.

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Ceprownia

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The guidebook hit the nail on the head when it described Ceprownia as ‘hearty shepherd’s fare’: this is where we got our first taste of Polish food when we first arrived in Warsaw last year, and it’s the first place we visited when we returned this year. Homely stews, potato fritters, amazing fried goat’s cheese and more pickles than you could shake a stick at all consumed by lamplight in an interior made mainly of wood, this is Polish food at its most uncomplicated. Special mention goes to the creamy salad dressing that came with every dish. We had dinner there on our first night, and went back for lunch on our last day. Visit their website here.

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Cafe Vincent

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This was our favourite breakfast spot: a French- style patisserie on Warsaw’s main street. They had row upon row of every baked good you could think of, fresh from the oven, and a nice selection of drinks to go with them. We enjoyed the madeleines (already explored on this blog, here, and the boy’s favourite) and I had one of the best lemon tarts I’ve ever had! Very lemony, and the perfect level of intense tartness. I love breakfast on holiday… Cafe Vincent don’t have a website that I can find, but you can visit them at Nowy Świat 64, 00-357 Warszawa, Poland if you happen to be in the vicinity.

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Lots of our recommendations of where to eat came from the ‘In Your Pocket’ city guide, which was invaluable as we hurried about Warsaw. You can download it for free here – we loaded the PDF version onto M’s Kindle, which was super handy.

Listening to Kaleidoscope Heart by Sarah Bareilles, Apple Honey by the Woody Herman Orchestra and Take me for what I am from RENT.

© Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Blackberry and Bramley apple tart

Autumn is here!  My favourite season of them all. So it was with great glee that I managed to pick enough blackberries on a walk a few weekends ago to bake the king of all British, autumnal fare: the blackberry and apple tart.

It’s a rare moment when all of these ingredients crowd together and demand to be baked into a rough-hewn pie, bubbling purple from beneath a golden pastry lattice. The blackberries have to be wild — picked from hedgerows and piled into baskets, or scattered into the bottom of plastic carrier bags. Their cost is bramble scratches, nettle stings and fingertips stained purple, but they are a million times sweeter and tarter than the strangely tasteless shop-bought variety.  And the apples have to be Bramley, ‘cooking apples’, with their intensely tart quality which renders them edible only when tamed with sugar and heat. You can’t use normal apples here, sorry.

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Ingredients

For the sweet pastry
  • 900g butter, softened
  • 65g caster sugar
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 200g flour
For the filling
  • 600g bramley apples, peeling and sliced
  • 200g blackberries, washed and gently patted dry
  • 100g caster sugar
  • A pinch of cinammon
  • 1 egg, beaten with two tablespoons of milk

Directions

– Heat oven to 190c / 170c fan oven / gas mark 5.

– Cream the butter and sugar together in a bowl until well combined and then beat in the egg yolks one at a time until fully mixed in.

– Mix in the flour until the mixture comes together as a ball of dough.

– Tip the mix out onto a floured worktop and knead briefly until smooth.

– Wrap the pastry in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

– Once it’s chilled, roll 2/3 of the pastry out on a floured surface, before using it to line the bottom of your favourite tart dish (about 23cm is ideal). Leave a slight overhang – the pastry will shrink when you bake it so you don’t want to trim it right down at this stage. (GBBO knowledge right there.)

– Save any pastry scraps, and return the tart to the fridge for 10 minutes. Prick the base lightly with a fork, then line with baking paper and baking beans or a suitable alternative (I used rice).

– Place in the oven on a baking tray for 20 minutes, remove the beans and paper, then bake for 10 mins more until sandy brown and almost biscuity.

– Tip the apples into a large bowl and microwave on high for 3 minutes to soften.  Toss in the berries, sugar, cinammon and 2 tbsp flour with a pinch of salt and mix well before piling into the case, saving 14 berries for later to go in the gaps of the lattice.

– Roll the remaining pastry and trimmings together into a square. Divide into eight strips of pastry.

– Weave the strips of pastry evenly over the fruit to create the lattice, and push the ends into the edge of the tart. Trim the overhang of pastry, brush the lattice heavily with the egg / milk mixture then scatter generously with more sugar.

– Push the remaining berries into the gaps, then bake for about an hour until brown and bubbling.

– Leave to cool for about half an hour, then serve with cream or ice cream.  Leftovers survive pretty well covered in cling film for a few days, and are also yummy cold.

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Tip: If you like, use leftover pastry to decorate your lattice. Take a small, sharp knife and cut out suitably autumnal shapes. Leaves are always a safe choice.

Listening to Sort of by Ingrid Michaelson, Brave by Sara Bareilles and Sister Rosetta goes before us by Alison Krauss and Robert Plant.

This recipe is an amalgamation of two from BBC Good Food, which you can find here and here. I made a few changes, namely reducing the amount of filling. Everything else is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.

Warsaw: the Botanical Gardens

When we were in Warsaw a couple of weeks ago, we spent a lovely afternoon wandering around the Botanical Gardens, part of the University of Warsaw.  A short bus ride from our hostel, the gardens were the perfect haven after a few days’ sightseeing in the bustling city. We spent a lovely few hours reading on a secluded bench amid the trees and flowers.

It was one of the times recently when I’ve felt most relaxed – it was lovely to just switch off and just be in a beautiful place.  It’s moments like that which really nurture us, I think. When I wasn’t daydreaming, I powered through much of The Silkworm by Robert Galbraith (aka J.K. Rowling!), which, incidentally, I LOVED and would thoroughly recommend.

If you happen to be in Warsaw and would like to visit the gardens yourself, the  website can be found here.  There is a small charge to venture inside – I can’t remember how much it was, but I’m pretty sure it worked out at less than £1 in the good old GBP.

Here are some of my photographs which I took – take a botanical wander with me!

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This is actually the beautiful open boulevard just outside the gardens themselves

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Listening to I like this one by Joe Stilgoe, Waitress Song by First Aid Kit, Everyone is Gay by A Great Big World and Sister Rosette Goes Before Us by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Everything is © Rebecca Daley and ohtogoawandering, 2015.