There are very few people I enjoy having a holiday with as much as my sisters. We don’t do too much planning, we get into the most unlikely situations end every single time my tummy hurts from laughing. So when the little one found and booked a cheap ticket to the UK, I couldn’t wait.
I was gutted my other sister Stella couldn’t make it, but I’m glad the little one did. I desperately needed this break and it did not disappoint. I tried filming as much as possible so I can practice my video editing skills as mentioned before. My skills are getting better but any advice is welcome!
So voila! Here’s my first ever travel, holiday vlog. Hope you laugh as much as we did on our little adventure.
And here’s all the places we’ve been or I mentioned (in order of appearance) in case you fancy checking any of them out. All highly recommended!
Popsis. A little, local, independent pizza place, at Bedford Place in Southampton. I’ve been a few times and their pizza is always delicious, fresh ingredients, nice and crispy.
John Hansard GalleryThe new-ish local gallery. The exhibition they had on when we went on was incredible.
Paperchase. My favourite chain stationery shop. One of my happy places when I need some cheering up.
Halladays. My all-time favourite cafe in Southampton. The best breakfast/brunch/lunch in town. And ever so pretty.
Long-term memory works in fascinating ways. Mine certainly does. I remember some things in every single detail whilst others I completely forget.
And random memories come to me at random times.
Yesterday I woke up tired. It’s been a busy week. Somehow and out of the blue this vivid memory from three years ago suddenly came to my mind. Sheba and I were in Berlin, on the hunt for breakfast and we thought we’d check out the quirky cafe our AirBnb hostess suggested. That was one of the best breakfasts I ever had.
A great selection of fruit, warm bread, mozzarella, tomato, prosciutto, a boiled egg, olive pate. Everything was fresh and tasted amazing. Such a simple but delicious, full of flavour and full of goodness breakfast.
That got me thinking. A day earlier I was telling my colleagues how the best English breakfast I had was at a small hotel in the mountains, The Royal Ship Dolgellau in Wales. Every single ingredient was locally sourced and tasted incredible. Do you sense a theme here?
Food tastes better when on a holiday, a break, away from work and routine. Especially breakfast. The first meal of the day. It may just be that it happened that the quality of the food was way more superb in these two occasions but no…
The breakfast my wonderful AirBnb hostess Malvina served me every morning when I was in Bordeaux… (I can still taste the homemade honey)
…the fresh pastries the hotel owner we stayed in Rome brought us every day…
and the traditional ones we got from Prozymi bakery in Protaras last September (what I wouldn’t give for a tahinopitta right now)…
I came to the realisation that breakfast (well not just breakfast) tastes much better on holiday mode, weekend mode, break mode, especially in the sunshine, with beautiful views.
I got up, made some porridge and counted how many days I have left before I have a long-term hopefully, break from routine. I reckon breakfast will taste amazing from that day on.
I’d love to hear some of your favourite breakfast meals you had away. Or maybe that’s only me?
I wasn’t going to post anything until after my highly anticipated, much needed, life changing break but I had to tell you about the Food and Mood: Baking Healthy Snacks session I went to last week because a) I’m annoyed with myself I didn’t make time to write about it sooner, b) it was fun and c) we made delicious, healthy and health-ier than average snacks.
Though I LOVE food and cooking I don’t spend too much time in the kitchen. But having a balanced diet, eating healthy and maintaining a healthy weight is high up on my life priorities so any opportunities for inspiration and ideas for healthy, easy and quick to make snacks I take.
The workshop was ran by Lucy Glen (Human Nutrition & Food Science Associate Lecturer) and Melanie Toulson (Sodexo Executive Chef). This was the second session of the day and as most went for the first one it was only two of us for this, me and a graduate intern, which was awesome. We had plenty of time to bake, have a laugh and chat about everything and anything, from musicals to holidays to favourite restaurants.
The recipe were super easy to follow and Melanie had her sous chefs prepare and measure the ingredients for us, so it was even easier to do.
And behold our creations:
Banana Muffins (recipe here). Soft, moist (sorry) and not overly sweet. Perfect with a cup of tea.
Courgette Blueberry Yogurt muffins (recipe here) : Rich, dense, delicious. Probably my favourite of the three snacks we made.
Healthy Fruit and Nut Granola Bars (recipe here, at the bottom of the page). Ridiculously easy and quick to make and in all honesty, I could not believe a healthy granola bar with zero sugar could taste that good and give me such an energy boost.
I’d recommend all three as none of them disappoint.
Thank you again to the awesome ladies who ran the session.
Now, time to get to the airport and pick up the little sister!
I’m getting ready to go see Kathy, my 91 year old friend and thinking of what to cook for dinner when I’m back. I only have a few things in the fridge: feta, green beans, some mushrooms, a courgette and an aubergine.
What a wonderful, random selection. I thought I’d make a tomato-y casserole with the mushrooms, the green beans and the courgette and that one aubergine can turn into my favourite Greek dip, melitzanosalata (aubergine dip), which I haven’t had for years.
Ever since I came up with a.. pla about a month ago, making decisions somehow became easier. Now I’m not going to tease for much longer, as it seems Plan A might actually happen, which I truly cannot believe, so in a few weeks time I’ll tell you all about it. A few of you already know what I’m thinking of doing but I don’t want to make any big announcements before everything is as final as it can be.
Back to Saturday morning. I popped to the shop to get Kathy fruit cake, her favourite as she excitedly revealed to me a week ago, and got some garlic and a lemon for my melitzanosalata.
A few hours later I was in my kitchen cooking. I only cook for longer than half an hour when I feel inspired and creative and the great news I received the day before did the trick.
Why a simple aubergine dip is such a big deal for you? One may wonder.
It’s not about the dish, is what the dish represents. See my life right now is like the content of my fridge, a beautiful but random selection and I need to put everything together but also choose one to focus on and make something beautiful and different out of it so I can get out of my current situation and completely change the way I live.
So, when life gives you aubergines, make melitzanosalata! I’d soon be telling you what my melitzanosalata stands for but for now I’ll enjoy on the real one I made yesterday.
People who fall ill with cancer often say ‘The one thing I’ve learned from my experience with cancer is to enjoy and appreciate every single moment, live in the now, don’t wait for things to happen, and for that I will always be grateful’…
We all forget about it, I do. I get so anxious and worried (for many things but often about getting cancer. I can imagine myself going through therapy, immense pain, losing my hair and eventually dying here on my own, away from my family, my heartbeat raised as I’m typing this) and I waste my time of being alive.
So here’s to those little moments that make life worthwhile:
The first sip of my first cup of coffee in the morning, especially if I happen to be home in Cyprus and I’m having my first one at a cafe in the sunshine…
A moment of pure blissfulness after a hot shower, when I smell clean and fresh and I feel so relaxed I can almost fall asleep…
Precious time and plenty of laughter with loved ones, friends, family …
Food, lots of food…
Sea and sunshine… if I were a season I’d be summer…
Little snaps of happiness that make life what worth living.
I hope and pray cancer will soon become an illness that no one or at least very few die of, and medicine is getting there, and also, I hope it doesn’t take having cancer to realise how fragile but beautiful life can be.
PS This post is dedicated to Lilian and Meredith, who know the real meaning of life and enjoy every moment, despite everything life throws at them.
I’ve never been to Oxford before. Well, I’ve never ‘properly’ been.
I was only there once in 2014, at the beautiful Blackwell’s bookshop to meet the talented, humble,inspirational astronaut Chris Hadfield who I followed for months on Social Media, taking and posting pictures of our beautiful planet from the International Space Station (including a snap of my gorgeous home island), doing live experiments and videos giving insights to the rest of us on how things work in space. That’s a whole other story though.
Five years later, a lot has changed since and it happened that my now best friend who grew up in Oxford moved back home and I went to see her this weekend. It’s amazing to think that she might have been at the bookshop that day, as it’s her favourite, I might have even bumped into her.
Saturday, 1:10pm. After a wonderful, peaceful train ride with a cup of tea, a book and music I made it to Oxford.
The city was buzzing with people, I forgot how busy it can get on a Saturday. First stop: Lunch.
The place Shebs had in mind was full so we discovered a little cafe on top of a bike shop that we now love, the Handle bar Cafe and Kitchen. It was busy but luckily a sweet man who waited at the bar for a table offered us his so we didn’t have to wait.
The decoration was just beautiful with bikes hanging on the wall, a very rustic, cosy vibe and the food was in-cre-di-ble.
Shebs had the coconut pancake stack with berries and I had the smashing avocado on toast. If you know me, you know that’s one of my favourite brunch/lunch meals and I often order it, so I tried it in a lot of places. The one I had at Handle Bar was by far the best. It wasn’t just a typical avo on toast with a poached egg on top. There was feta, chilli, paprika, almonds, seeds and beetroot hummus, it was on another level.
After that we wandered into the city centre and Shebs took me to the most beautiful shop I’ve ever been. I need not say anything else. Just have a look.
We of course went to Blackwell’s bookshop and browsed for a while and since it was too dark to admire the architecture and it was getting closer to the time we had to be at the theatre, we went for dinner at a great Spanish restaurant, Al-Andalus tapas bar. Another awesome meal. Every single tapas we had was bursting with flavour. We had freshly baked bread served with Catalan style tomato sauce and olives on the side and we went for four different tapas: Pincho de Tortilla (spanish omelette), Brochetas De La Huerta (grilled vegetables), Bunuelos De Bacalao (cod fritters with garlic, parsley and ali oli) and Albondigas (meatballs) and a jug of light, refreshing Sangria. We were so full we couldn’t finish all of it.
We were in no rush on Sunday morning, so we enjoyed a cup of coffee at home before heading out in town.
On Sunday we mostly did sightseeing, passing by the Bridge of Sighs, Hertford college and the Bodleian Library, one of the oldest libraries in Europe. I was in awe of the architecture and the wealth of history.
Before I headed home we went for a quick lunch at one of the most beautiful cafes I’ve ever been, the Vaults and garden cafe, which used to be an old church. We both had the Goat cheese rarebit, delicious.
Sunday, 1:15pm. A day later, I hugged Shebs goodbye and I got the train back to Southampton. What an amazing day it has been. There’s so much to see and do, 24 hours are not enough, there’ll be more next time I visit.
I usually dread Mondays but today I feel blessed. Blessed I had such a wonderful day with my best friend, chatting and laughing whilst wandering in such a stunning city. Oxford is definitely worth a visit.
Are there any places in the city you live you’ve been meaning to check out but never got around to it?
I do. I still haven’t made it to the Isle of Wight (Whaaat!) and I’ve never been to the other Cypriot restaurant in Southampton, George’s, -I know, shocking-, or Ennios or the Pig In the Wall.
Last Sunday I made it to one of them. The Pig In the Wall. I’ve always wanted to visit but I lived at the other end of town and it just never happened.
I’ve seen snaps before but it looks even prettier and cosier in real life.
The fireplace was on and we were sat in a cosy corner right next to it.
I didn’t notice that this was on the Wall and took me by surprise (it took me a day to realise that was actually the Pig in the Wall). Can I just say this was not my initial reaction but my friend wanted me to re-enact my original reaction. As you can probably tell my acting skills need some work.
I wasn’t too hungry, so I went for a light option, ricotta cheese with chives, walnuts and honey on sourdough bread and it was delicious.
It took me back to my childhood when this lady in a van would come around the neighbourhood every Saturday morning selling all sorts of homemade goodies including halloumi and the least known Cypriot cheese anari, which is very similar to ricotta, a fresh mild whey cheese that depending on what you are craving, you can have it savoury or sweet. It’s very underrated but one of the best types of cheese out there.
I now love this place so much, I can’t believe I hadn’t been before. The cosy vibes, the food, the service.
If you haven’t had the chance to go before, I definitely recommend it for a relaxed Sunday brunch.
It was the night of the 10th of January. A mundane, ordinary day that ended with delectable food and plenty of laughter, celebrating friends’ birthdays.
I love going out with the Solent gang. You know that feeling, that you can be yourself and enjoy the evening without having to pretend? I always get it with these wonderful, fun, creative, loving people and I always look forward to our nights out.
The dining choice this time was Simon’s at Oxfords. I’ve been many a times in the past for drinks and the ever so fun Sunday jams nights, I used to love those, but never had dinner there before.
The food was just lovely. Beautifully, picture perfect presented which makes a difference for me and very flavoursome.
We went for their set menu and I opted for starter and main (cutting down on sugar is NOT easy).
Prawns is one of my favourite flavours so I had tempura prawns with a sprinkle of fresh lime served with sweet chilli sauce for a starter…
followed by roasted chicken breast served on a creamy potato mash and wild mushroom & smoked pancetta cream. De-li-cious.
The rest of the group had a mixture of starters/mains/desserts but everyone enjoyed their meal, especially Helen who claimed that was the ‘best pork’ she ever had!
The service was great and quick, and fun, especially the lady at the end who, because of our impromptu singing sang back to us when going around for everyone to pay.
We paid £24 for a two course meal which was worth it, in my opinion. My drink was a bit expensive (I paid £7 for a 175ml glass of wine) but I must admit the glass of Malbec I had was divine. I can’t believe I only discovered Malbec less than a year ago.
All in all a great experience (minus the paintings on the walls some of the people in the group did not like, Chris: ‘They are scary, they have no eyes!’ but I actually thought were quite unique!)
What a great first dinner out in 2019. Here’s to more to come!
Right next to the Ledras barricade and crossing point to the ‘Turkish side of the city’, there’s a little cafe bringing some of the most traditional flavours of Greece to Cyprus, Giagia (Grandma) Victoria.
Its beautiful yard is literally right next to the barrels and barbed wire. Fascinating and deeply sad if you are Cypriot or know about Cypriot history.
We made it there on a sunny New Year’s eve, the city centre bursting with music, traditional New Year carols (καλαντα Πρωτοχρονιας) and delicious smells as people in the shops took out their foukou (BBQ), put the meat on the large skewers and waited for their souvla (large pieces of meat cooked on a long skewer over a charcoal barbecue, a Cypriot, largest version of souvlaki), Cyprus national dish, to be grilled. God we love our food in Cyprus and any occasion to make souvla, we take.
The cafe itself looks amazing, with vintage decor, as if it came out of a 50’s Greek movie. It’s known for serving traditional ‘Politika’ (Constantinople) and other treats. There’s something so nostalgic about it I can’t explain.
The food on offer: delicious.
Freshly made bougatsa (Greek breakfast/snack pastry) and pita (pastries not pita bread) with savoury (spinach, cheese, chicken) and sweet fillings (the traditional and infamous sweet and full of cream), other Greek traditional pastries such as tsoureki (sweet bread) and kourou (mini pies) and desserts, many, many desserts from simple cakes to complex chocolate puddings.
We went for spanakopita (spinach filled pastry), kotopita (chicken), tiropita (cheese) and the traditional mpougatsa me krema (sweet cream).
The coffee (Ι went for a Cypriot traditional one and co-incidentally they served the brand my dad has worked for over 30 years, Kafes tou Laikou) is served in the traditional briki (coffee pot) enhancing the already authentic experience.
The service is quick and friendly and the prices, very reasonable for what’s on offer.
Just before we left we got some puddings to have at home. Dessert heaven.
No wonder Paul Hollywood visited a while ago and the owner showed him how he made his delicious treats. How on earth he flips that fylo without breaking? Magic!
If I lived back home, I’d be there every day.
PS Thank you to my little sister Anna for some of the wonderful pictures.
Every year on this day, a vague, blurry memory of old Epiphany day celebrations in Cyprus pops in my mind. It’s a bright, sunny winter morning in Nicosia. I’m about 10 years old, I’m wearing a pretty dress and my little sister, a few years younger and I are going around to everyone at my grandpa’s house where the family was gathered saying Καλημερα τζιε τα Φώτα τζιε την πουλουστρινα πρωτα. ( It’s difficult to translate and won’t make much sense but Good morning, the Epiphany and a gift first).
They would all give us some money as a gift and we’d eat homemade loukoumades (Greek honey soaked dough balls) and then throw some on the roof to keep Kallikantzarous away. I’ve always found the Kallikantzarous folklore fascinating.
(Thank you to my sisters for this, the middle one for getting loukoumades for the family and the youngest for the pictures. I can’t taste them unfortunately but I could imagine how delicious they are).
Kallikantzaroi (goblins) live underground, sawing the world tree so it will fall and destroy the Earth, but when they are about to do so, it’s Christmas day which means they can come to the surface and cause trouble to humans.
On the Epiphany (6 January), the sun starts moving again, and they have to go back and continue sawing. Whilst they were away the world tree has healed itself, because of the magic of Christmas, so they must start working all over again. This happens every year.
In Cyprus we throw loukoumades on the roof tops to keep them away from us on their last day and we sing the infamous Τιτσί τιτσι λουκάνικο, κομμάτι ξεροτήανο, να φάτε τζαι να φύετε. Also it is believed that they are scared of Holy Water and that’s why priests go to each house in the neighbourhood sprinkling Holy water from the Epiphany morning service.