A Travel & Lifestyle Blog

Unusual Gifts: Segway Rally!

My husband and I, are the kind of couple that still celebrate our engagement anniversary, although we're now married. We are also the kind of couple people who have had enough of stuffy dinners and are looking for something different. For the past couple of years I keep finding myself drawn to gifting experiences rather than clothes, jewellery...things. 
Sounds a bit whimsical and naughty, doesn't it? I'll elaborate.

Last year I got him a flying lesson for his birthday...I couldn't believe the smile on his face that whole day. He was telling everybody for the months to come. Now for our engagement anniversary I booked a Segway Rally for two...guess what? He can't wait to go again. Neither can I. Despite the bruises and falls and likelihood of rain, we had a blast! A Segway Blast!

Quick briefing: step on it, find your balance, done! It feels a bit wobbly at the beginning but it's all about controlling it with your body weight and posture. Lean forwards, it moves forwards. Lean backwards, it goes backwards! Easier said than done?

We went to Bray Watersports Centre on a rainy Saturday afternoon; our spirits, just like the weather, were a bit dampened. After the five minute briefing, off we went to the off-road track in the surrounding woodland.  Now we're talking!  When I asked our teenage instructor if everybody falls off the Segway, she said: no, just don't get too cocky!

We spent a good forty minutes roaming around the forest, taking care not to bounce off trees' roots blocking the path and zooming up and down dirt ditches. It was fun!

Then I decided to go through a ditch the opposite way than what the instructor showed us...lean forwards, go down, straighten up to control your speed, remember not to lean too much going down or you'll be flat on your face...lean forwards again to go up the ditch...almost all the way, skidding, panic, make funny wow-wow-wow sounds and fall backwards! Are you worried? I loved it!
Got up straight away thinking...let's do this again and...ouch!

The instructor came to reset the Segway and said: oh, yes I forgot to tell you, you are not meant to go through the ditches the other way, just the one I showed you!
Thanks for the thumbs up, girl!

A few tips: wear clothes that you won't mind getting muddy. Elbow and knee pads are provided. Make sure you don't have anything major planned for the next day because you'll probably be in quite a bit of pain, especially if you are lucky to fall off... let loose and have a blast! x

202, Westbourne Grove

What's your position on queuing?

I refuse to queue for nightclubs. My girlfriends and I, walked away from "Radio" in Aldwych, because we had to queue just to have drinks. 

But for some bizarre reason queueing around Westbourne Grove in search of brunch, is perfectly acceptable on a weekend afternoon!  

A couple of Sundays ago, post bake-sale, we wondered around Westbourne Grove in search of a cool spot for breakfast. Everywhere was busy, the weather was scorching hot!

Bloody French, Granger & Co, Daylesford ...all packed.

For some reason we didn't mind standing in the queue for 202, though. 

There was a breeze and they very kindly offered us a glass of water, while we were standing there too. 
It must have been our good mood from a smiley Sunday morning ...hmm. 

Their avocado vinaigrette was wonderful. It has become a usual on our daily eats at home, with a hint of garlic - perfect! 
And as a a fan of fresh, homemade lemonade - their retro version was cool and subtle!   

Now, although I'm not a big fan of sausages, their little Italian stogies were rich and spicy and the perfect accompaniment to picture-perfect eggs!  

Who would have thought that at the back of a bookshop hides such a lovely brunch spot?
And you must take a minute to look at the photos on the wall...Jack Nicholson was smirking  behind his sunglasses throughout brunch...x

Plum & Lavender Baklava

A couple of weeks ago a friend told me about a bake sale, organised in aid of a charity that supports children in Greece.
I enjoy baking, so I thought it would be nice to help out. 
Before committing to anything I took a minute to look into this charity (dubious nature I have, you see) and although the charity proved to have a genuine cause, as I was looking at information and figures around the web, I soon came to realise something else, really sad. 

From my own experiences, I can tell you that Greece used to be one of these places where people would turn to their extended family network for assistance. There were some established charities helping out marginalised families, but not in a large scale, because there was little need for them. 

I gave it some thought and realised that the way families used to be structured in this part of the world, provided members with safety and support in times of need. Whatever your opinion about the European financial crisis, from a social perspective it is unfortunate that it has impacted on communities so deeply, that even sacred family bonds are breaking apart. I have sadly witnessed this myself. People have turned bitter and somehow selfish. Hence, there has been more of a need lately, for external support systems, like charities. 

Anyway, I decided to go ahead with it, so back to the baking. 
I decided to make my soundproof Chocolate cupcakes with Peanut Butter Icing and this Lavender Baklava recipe I found in House & Garden magazine. I can only hope that when my blog reaches adulthood, it will look like the H&G website! 

Baklava is somehow of a winter dessert for me; preparing the plums though put me in a very summery mood! 

Speaking of plums, make sure you use ripe ones, because they are sweeter. If you can't get hold of them or you are pressed for time, cook them for a bit longer at a lower temperature and add some extra lavender sugar. I learnt this the hard way, my Baklava had a bit of a sharp aftertaste, because the plums were not ripe enough!  

Also make all of the lavender sugar you need in one batch (roughly 350gr in total) to avoid repeating the same process.

Either way, when you open the oven door there is a magnificent strong lavender and plum scent...very homely!

For the Syrup: 
250g runny honey
250g lavender sugar (or simply caster sugar plus two tablespoons of dried lavender crushed in the pestle & mortar)
250ml water
1 cinnamon stick

For the Baklava:

10 ripe plums, halved, stoned and cut into cubes
100g lavender caster sugar (as described above, for the syrup) 
200g roasted almonds, finely chopped
150g roasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
150g unsalted butter, melted
12 sheets of filo pastry (you might need more, depending on the shape and size of baking tray you are using)

Make the Syrup first:

Put the honey, lavender sugar and cinnamon stick in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 5 minutes, until the syrup starts to thicken.
Leave aside to cool and discard the cinnamon stick.

For the Baklava:

Prepare the plums.
Toss the plum cubes with half of the lavender sugar and put in a roasting tin.
Cover with foil and roast for 20 minutes in 180C. Set aside to cool down.
Strain off any cooking juices and add them to the syrup you made previously. 

Mix the chopped nuts with the remaining lavender sugar and set aside.


Brush the bottom of a 24x30cm baking tray with melted butter. 
Lay the first layer of filo. Brush with butter and repeat until you have 3 layers of buttered filo. 
Sprinkle a third of the nut mixture evenly over the filo, followed by a third of the sliced plums. 

Take another 3 layers of filo, brush with butter as before, and lay on top of the nuts and plums and repeat as above. Repeat once more.

To finish, brush the remaining three layers of filo with butter and place on top.
Using a sharp knife, score a diamond pattern on the surface, no deeper than the top layer of nuts. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with a few drops of water to prevent the pastry from curling during cooking.

Bake for 35-40 minutes in 180C. 

Remove from the oven and pour the cold syrup over the hot baklava and listen closely as the hot pastry absorbs the sweet syrup.
Keep your face away though, or the steam will get you!
Set aside to cool for a few hours, until the syrup has been fully absorbed.

It's not difficult to make, it does take time, but do not be dis-heartened, it makes around 20 pieces and it keeps well for a couple of days so it's perfect to nibble on, when you need something sweet! 

Plus, the sweet aromas throughout the process, will make your kitchen a very happy place to be in! x  
© Life Love London

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