6 Highlights from our trip to Lagos Portugal

6 highlights from our trip to Lagos Portugal. Ideal for first time visitors

6 highlights lagos portugal

I am not usually a last minute person, but when it comes to holidays I seem to make an exception. My most recent last minute holiday was booked at the end of June for a weeks trip to Lagos, Portugal. Like all last minute bookings, it had an element of risk. I frantically googled ‘holiday destinations leaving from Belfast’ and hoped that somewhere with the compulsory sunshine and beaches would be available for the timeframe I selected. 

Portugal had never crossed my mind as a place to visit. Being determined to go away somewhere hot to relax, I was willing to go out on a limb and so, within 10 minutes the flights and hotel apartment were booked. Not at a bad price I might add, especially at such short notice!

6 highlights lagos portugal

The more I looked at Lagos online, the greater my excitement grew for our trip. Still, it wasn’t really until we landed that it became a reality; we were actually on a holiday – the first time in two years! Yippee! Our flight was very early and when we arrived at Faro airport, we had a further two hour bus journey to Lagos. To be honest, it didn’t seem like two hours on the bus, we were just excited to be on our way to the hotel apartment. You know sometimes when you are on holiday and you instantly get that feeling you are going to fall in love with the place? Well that was not at all our feelings on the journey to Lagos! Luckily we had already read online that the bus doesn’t take the most appealing route into Lagos, so although the views weren’t particularly scenic, we still had our fingers crossed that all would be lovely when we eventually arrived. Our hotel apartment was called Aqualuz, situated a mere 10 minutes from the town. We very much enjoyed our stay at the hotel. The only gripe we had was that the bar closed at 10pm, pretty much putting an end to any potential for atmosphere. The bar prices were a tad high too. Luckily, we went self-catering and could saunter out into the town for food and a longed-for drink. 

Our first time trip to Lagos was a wonderful experience. We fell in love with the beaches, the places, the history and the people. I can’t believe it was never on our radar to visit. Whether you want to relax on the beach or learn about the history, Lagos has fantastic places to explore as a couple or a family. Take a peek at my top 6 highlights, ideal for your first trip to Lagos. 

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Five Foodie Videos You Should Watch

Things I Like | September 28, 2015 | By

One of my favourite weekend activities is lounging around in my pjs whilst drinking hot chocolate and watching fabulous foodie videos all day. I’ve picked out my favourite five foodie videos you should watch, so let’s get going…

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It’s Picnic Time #3: My Top 6 Picnic Spots In Northern Ireland

Things I Like | August 7, 2015 | By

it's picnic time #3
 

Two things can make or break a picnic for me. One is the food, it’s got to be good and suitable for al frescoing and the other is the location. Everything in-between is a bonus. And that leads us here to the third and final part of my ‘It’s Picnic Time’ series.  I”m sharing my top 6 places to picnic in Northern Ireland, so if you are visiting the country or a local, be sure to check at least one of them out.

Places to picnic at in Northern Ireland 

Donaghadee

1. Donaghadee is another place I’ve been going to ever since I was a child. On a bright and clear day you can see the coast of Scotland. It’s a quiet laid-back town, great for families and taking pictures with local pubs and shops all close together.

2. Crawfordsburn Country Park I have fond memories of spending time in Crawfordsburn Country Park. We used to picnic here when I was a kid and my sister got some of her wedding photos took here as well. There’s a visitor centre and picnic tables located near the carpark. Quite often there are family events on so it’s a great spot for families.

3. Lough Navar Forest Fermanagh is an exquisite part of the country. Here you can get dine at lough Erne and if you’re lucky you might spot some deer and wild goats, which isn’t something you see everyday.

  1. Cave Hill Country Park Cave Hill is in Belfast and pretty unmissable.Here you can visit Belfast Castle, go on ecotrails and enjoy the incredible views of Northern Ireland.

  2. Murlough Nature Reserve If the weather is good and you fancy a beach picnic, this is where you should set you sights on. The beaches are beautiful, as is the surrounding area. Great for walking and plenty of sight-seeing too.

  3. White rocks Beach Portrush There are so many areas along the causeway coast that are great for walkers and picnics. This beach was recently awarded the blue flag award again and it’s a wonderful area with limestone rocks and incredible views. Also see the Causeway Coastal Route website for all the must-see attractions in the area, including filming locations for Game of Thrones.

Donaghadee

Northern Ireland really has some beautiful spots for outdoors activities. A lot of these places have visitor centres with information on other activities to do in the area. You’ll never be bored here, that’s for sure.

I hope you enjoyed my picnic series, if you’re looking for more reads, I’ve left links below.

Eating And Drinking Al Fresco And Why You Should Do It More Often
It’s Picnic Time Part 1
It’s Picnic Time Part 2

What I Listen To In The Kitchen – Music and Podcasts!

What I Listen To In The Kitchen
Music is medicine for the soul, right? 

 When I’m pottering about in the kitchen, I like to have some background noise to keep me company. It’s either a dedicated playlist or a podcast I’m listening to, directly from my iPhone. It’s so easy to just leave it sitting propped up on the counter, whilst I’m cooking or eating. I love creating playlists, in fact I’m slightly obsessed with it! So much so,  I’m sharing my favourite songs and podcasts that are currently cooking up a storm in my kitchen.

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It’s Picnic Time #2 The 3 Steps You Need To Plan Your Picnic Food + Recipes!

Welcome to part two in my series, “It’s Picnic Time”. In the first part, I talked about planning a picnic and 5 essential items to pack. Now we’re getting down to the really good stuff…food!

it's picnic time #2

Deciding what food to pack for your picnic is the most fun part of the planning process. You want your guests to have the best time possible and the food is, of course, the main attraction! So let’s break it down to the three main steps you’ve got to take before you start preparing any food.

1. The time of day
2. The theme
3. Your guests’ needs.

Is your picnic taking place in the morning, afternoon or evening? Once you decide on the time, you can then base your menu around it. Pick a theme and you can be even more creative around the types of food. For example, you could have a pirate themed beach picnic for the morning, a 50s style tea party for the afternoon or a Mexican themed picnic in the evening. Don’t forget to find out if any of your guests have any special dietary requirements. This ensures that no-one is left out and saves you time in the long run, not to mention, it adds excitement for your friends (especially if there are little ones coming along too)! Below are recipe suggestions from myself and fellow food bloggers for each time of day.

Rise ‘n’ Shine

Rising early over the weekend might not be everyone’s cup of tea; I for one am not an early bird! However, if you can muster up the strength to get up and out, it really is worth the experience. Take advantage of the Summer weather and experience the sunrise whilst munching down on some tasty breakfast foods such as muffins, flapjacks, scotch eggs and fruit salads.

Recipes perfect for a morning picnic

Coconut, Blueberry and Banana Muffins

Flapjacks With Goji Berries

Scotch Eggs – The Foodie Couple Blog

Rainbow Omelette Cakes – Eats Amazing

Miso Muffins With Kale, Carrot And Courgette – Tin And Thyme

Bacon, Mushroom And Basil Muffins – Casa Costello

Chill in the Afternoon 

This is probably the most popular time to have a picnic. The sun will be at its hottest and it’s an all round more agreeable time to meet up with your friends! Mini pies, wraps and pork fillets are also your friends.

Recipes perfect for an afternoon picnic

Mini Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pies

Roast Beef Wraps With Cranberry Relish And Spinach – Maison Cupcake

Roast Orange Pork Fillet and Polenta Chips – Recipes From A Pantry

Wholemeal Stilton and Broccoli Pasties – Jen’s Food

Chorizo, Red Pepper And Cheddar Quiches – Jen’s Food

Sunny Picnic Quiches – Fab Food 4 All

Veggie No-Sausage Rolls – Recipes And Reviews

Quinoa, Watercress, Walnut and Blue Cheese Salad with Roasted Asparagus – Tin And Thyme

Raspberry And White Chocolate Blondies – Tin And Thyme

Sunset Surprise

An evening picnic can be very romantic! Cheese, pork pies, quiches, burgers and pasties make watching the sun slide down beneath the clouds just the best, right?

Recipes perfect for an evening picnic

Easy Cheese Twists – Recipes And Reviews

Mini Cheese And Onion Pasties – The Veg Space

Pork Pies from Haynes Men’s Pie Manual – Lancashire Food

Smoked Ham, Leek And Goats Cheese Impossible Pie – Lancashire Food

Red Pepper And Feta Quiche With A Cauliflower And Quinoa Crust – Celery and Cupcakes

Easy Mini Quiches – Eats Amazing

Don’t forget….

Make sure to wait until your food has cooled before packing it in sealable containers. For food and drinks that need to be kept chilled, you can use ice packs or a cooler box, or save space and freeze water bottles. Don’t eat anything that’s been sitting out for longer than a couple of hours – the last thing you want is food poisoning.

NO PICNIC IS COMPLETE WITHOUT DRINKS! 

 Stick to seasonal fruits if you’re making your own drinks. Homemade lemonade is always a popular choice. For spirits, sparkling wine is a refreshing option for the Summer heat or an ice-cold beer!

Recipes and recommendations:

Raspberry Lemonade – Recipes From A Pantry

Pimms – The limited edition elderflower and strawberry flavours are fabulous

Shloer Celebration Pink Fizz – Shloer has always been a favourite non-alocoholic drink. This time they’ve gone all out with this rosé juice, complete with popping cork!

Corona – A light, refreshing beer. Add a slice of lime for extra zest.

Grace Aloe Vera – Have you ever tried Aloe vera the drink? It’s surprisingly sweet with little bits in it (like freshly squeezed orange juice). It does contain quite a lot of sugar (9g per 100ml) but hey, once and a while won’t hurt! Best kept chilled.

It’s Picnic Time #1: Tips on planning a picnic and 5 Essential Items to pack

Welcome to the first part of my three part picnic series! 

 PICNICPART1

If you want to have the kind of picnic that impresses your friends/family, then planning in advance is a must, and adds to the fun. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing tips and recipes to help make all your picnics truly memorable. This first segment is all about proper organisation and includes my top 5 essential items to pack.

Like most things in life, being well prepared and organised is the key to getting things done right and ensuring all involved have an enjoyable experience. I have, in the past, gone on spontaneous picnics and although they were fun, the relaxation was spoilt by the running around looking for what to bring and the annoyance of forgetting some key item.

 

LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!

The beauty of picnics is that they can take place anywhere – down at the beach, in a country park or just chilling in your back garden. Choosing where you are going will help you plan what items you will need to bring – will bins be provided, or running water?

 

WEATHER

As the weather is unpredictable in the UK, it’s vital to keep an eye on the weather forecast. If it looks like there’s going to be a major downpour, it might be best to postpone your picnic to a later date. Otherwise, bring waterproofs and an umbrella incase of light showers. 

 

PLAN YOUR MENU WITH YOUR GUESTS IN MIND

Once you’ve decided on your location, then is the time to think about what type of food to bring, how many guests are coming, and whether they have any special dietary requirements (vegetarians/food allergies). The last thing you want is to pack mini pork pies to later discover one of your guests is vegan. Also make sure the time of day reflects your menu. You could pack breakfast muffins for a morning picnic, for example.

 

TRANSPORTING YOUR FOOD

Picnic Basket? Rucksack? Cooler bag? Beach bag?
 

I love a traditional wicker basket as it conjures up feelings of being oldie worldly and romantic. But depending on where you are going and how you’re planing on getting there, a basket might not be the most convenient way to transport your food. So before you do anything, think about how you are traveling to the location, how many people you are al frescoing with and the location itself. For example, if you are going hiking or are planning on cycling to your picnic spot, then a rucksack would be the better option. Likewise, if you are travelling by car and don’t need to walk far, then a basket would be ideal.

 

5 ESSENTIAL ITEMS TO PACK

 
These are the top 5 items I can’t go al frescoing without. Before you set off on your picnic, be sure to have a checklist and mark off the key items you need, so you don’t forget them.
 

1. Waterproof Blanket

 

This could seem like a no-brainer, but it’s amazing how many people take a normal blanket and neglect to consider the elements. It’s worth investing in a waterproof blanket – there is no need to risk getting a soggy bottom!

2. Disposable plates/ cutlery and Bags

 

Instead of packing your fine plates and cutlery, bring disposables instead. This will make your picnic basket (or bag) lighter and there will be no pesky dishes to worry about doing when you return home. It’s important to clean up once you’ve finished your picnic. Remember that your picnic location may or may not have bins, so come prepared with your own bags, so you can tidy up after yourself.

 

3. Bottled Water

 

As there might be no running water available at your location, you should always bring plenty with you. You can freeze it and use it as an icepack – 2 in 1!

4. A Bottle Opener

 
If you are bringing alcoholic beverages with you (and if not, why not?!) don’t forget to leave without packing a bottle opener. Trying to crack open a bottle of beer without one, you are just as likely to crack a tooth.

5. Wet Wipes

 

I blogged about the usefulness of wipes last year – 5 Simple Ways to use Face Wipes other than just your face, hence it’s no surprise to find them here in my essential list. Wet wipes will make keeping your face and hands clean both quick and fuss-free.

Eating and Drinking Al Fresco And Why You Should Do It More Often!

There’s no arguing that most of us love the Summer and for us here in the UK the rare opportunity to sit outside is a real treat. In recent times, there’s been a trend for UK restaurants and cafes to have tables outside, and not just for smokers – balconies offer lovely views of the city you may never have seen before. Shops begin to entice us further with their garden tables and BBQs.  So what is it about dining outside we love so much and why should you do it more often?

I love market days and I try to get down to them as often as I can. There’s something about wandering around in an open air environment and sampling some of the fresh produce, that brings a feeling of contentment. The atmosphere is one of a kind; staff who actually care about their products, the quality of the food all freshly made, bring about an altogether better customer experience. The stress of a busy supermarket (out of stock products, queues, unhelpful staff, harsh lighting) just doesn’t compare! So taking trips to your local market will leave you feeling more relaxed, happy and free from the zombifying artificial lights of shopping centres.

folktown market belfast


You might still be thinking, eat outside…what?! With wasps buzzing around, bugs drowning in my prosecco and the sun burning my skin?! No thanks! But for me, my happiest and most memorable meals were always the ones that took place outside. Picnics are one of my absolute favourites, I simply adore planning them. I love going somewhere different and feeling the rays of sun on my skin. As we all succumb to the  9-5 work routine, life can get very boring very quickly. You feel tired more often, and start to lose the sense of adventure you had during your carefree student years. Simply shaking up your daily schedule by having an afternoon picnic, not only rejuvenates your excitement for doing something out of the norm, but help recharge your batteries with a healthy boost of vitamin D from the sun. Don’t forget, light is a proven mood enhancer!

Ever had a nasty cold and been unable to taste your food properly? Our sense of smell and taste are so closely linked together that different scents can enhance our perception of what we eat.  Give your tastebuds a tantalising treat by taking in all the scents around you. Sitting out in the garden with that pre-soaked cherry wood smoking on the BBQ, can really magnify the tasting experience. Speaking of BBQs…what is it with men and BBQing? Does being outside evoke their primal nature from within? Or do men like the idea of standing by a fire, cooking meat with beer in hand?

It isn’t just about sitting around eating and drinking, either. Going al fresco means you’ll get more exercise too! We spend so much time indoors in front of computers or having tv dinners, but once we’re out it’s a different story altogether. Playing ball games at a picnic/garden party or hiking/cycling to your location, will all benefit your health. And as for the weather, I think it’s just all part of the British experience of expecting rain! Admittedly, I love the sound of the rain from inside a tent, it’s like one of those freakily accurate rainmaker sticks! So don’t let it disappoint you! If you have a summer house, sit inside and enjoy the sound of the rain all whilst making jokes about it!

I’d say that the benefits of eating outdoors outweigh the negatives. If the rays of the sun are going to act like happy pills, if going somewhere different is going to revitalise my sense of child-like adventure, if food is going to taste even better… then I’m all for it. I won’t allow the wasps, or even the UK weather, to put me off.

So what are your thoughts? What do you love about eating outside?

Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water – breakup with your makeup

Things I Like | April 10, 2015 | By

There are an array of cleansers out there. The beauty market is swamped with them. Foams, oils, balms and now more recently cleansing waters. I was dubious at first, isn’t this just glorified water? But the more reviews I read online from beauty bloggers, the more I wanted to try one out.
 
 
 
micellar waters, garnier cleansing review,

Cleansing waters are very gentle on your skin, as they contain none of the foaming detergents found in other cleansers. Instead, they use a technology called ‘micellar’ that grabs the dirt off your skin like a magnet and lifts it away, meaning there is no need to rub or rinse afterwards with water.
 
I spotted the new Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water for combination & sensitive skin on offer in Boots for a couple of pounds. Normally priced at £4.99, which for a 400ml bottle that claims to have enough for 200 uses, I rate as great value for money.
 
It’s very simple to use, just grab a cotton pad and apply a few drops from the bottle, swiping it over your skin. I used three cotton pads to remove my makeup. I found it was very good at removing mascara (not waterproof I might add) and it didn’t sting my eyes. I have a natural tendency to want to rub, but as there was so much makeup left on the pad, I didn’t feel the need. I love how your skin feels afterwards, with no tightness or residue. As an added benefit, it leaves no lingering scent on your face either, despite a slightly chemical smell from the bottle.
 
 So is this the answer for a lazy girl’s cleansing problems? 
 
Well, it all depends on your makeup routine. If you wear minimal makeup, I believe this will do the job of removing it fully. But if you have heavier makeup applied, you will definitely need to double cleanse and finish up with a cleansing balm. With that being the case, surely it defeats the purpose of not having to rinse afterwards? Although there is a debate on whether you should apply micellar water first or after. If you’re feeling really tired however, a quick swipe of this will be better than using a drying facial wipe!
 
The bottle isn’t travel friendly, and so is not as convenient as taking a packet of face wipes on holiday with you (or to a music festival). However, if you really want to get away from using wipes, it wouldn’t be hard to transfer some of the product to a small travel bottle.
 
Another good use is for erasing any makeup mistakes. A couple of drops on a q-tip and a gentle dab around the area, quickly removes the mistake without fuss or disturbing the rest of your makeup. In fact if you were to use it just for that, one bottle would last a long time.
 
I do like the Garnier ‘s micellar water and would purchase it again – their products have never failed to impress me (I’m a fan of the BB cream).
 
Micellar waters may not be an essential product for your cleansing routine, but they are handy to have around on those days you have less makeup on, just want to freshen up your face, or need to erase any mistakes. Not forgetting they are gentler on your skin than foaming cleansers/wipes!
 
So what do you think about cleansing waters? Would you use one before or after if double cleansing?

Whipped up into a frenzy over Philosophy’s Fresh Cream

Applying body lotion religiously in the cooler months is not most people’s number one priority. Why bother if you don’t have your arms/legs on show? Well, if you’re like me and have dry skin in these areas, then the chances are you do continue to put on lotions, to help keep your skin hydrated. However, for me it’s a task I usually detest. The problem is, I loathe body lotions/creams that take forever to absorb into your skin. When it’s cold, you just want to put your clothes on asap, not sit around shivering waiting for creams to sink in. Or even worse, think everything’s sunk in only to find your clothes start sticking to you. Yuck!

 
philosophy fresh cream uk review 3-in-1 shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath, lip gloss

Enter Philosophy’s Fresh Cream. A non-greasy body lotion that not only smells divine but sinks into your skin quickly. It has a creamy lightweight formula that contains macadamia seed oil, olive fruit oil and shea butter, so your skin not only smells good but feels good.

Seriously, this lotion smells incredible, not overpowering just literally like an indulgent vanilla cupcake with the sweetest buttercream icing. What I also love about it is that it leaves my skin feeling smooth and smelling good all day, so you only need to apply it once.

This is only the second product I’ve ever tried by Philosophy, the latter being a bubble bath snowflake, which I thought was alright. This though, is different; I’ve never felt this happy about a body lotion in my life!

Typically though, this doesn’t appear to be readily available in the UK. I do wonder why that is? You can purchase the  3-in-1 shampoo, shower gel and bubble bath, which is wonderful if you are looking for a multi-tasking product. There is a fragrance which is also available and a high gloss lip shine – all on Philosophy’s UK site. The only place I’ve found that you can buy the body lotion is through Amazon. Mine took a good few weeks to arrive but it was worth the wait. I’m going to double up on my next order!

I can’t honestly say enough good things about this product. It does everything I want it to do – fast absorption, smells good, long lasting hydration. At around £12-13 on Amazon, it’s not a bad price. If you didn’t know the price, you would expect to pay more. So well done Philosophy, I’m impressed – you’ve got yourself a new fan girl. Now I’m eager to try more from the Fresh Cream range.

What are your favourite body lotions?

P.S. After application I wash my hands so there’s no lingering scent on them – I don’t like perfume type scents when I’m handling food!

Wish list: Spring is in the air

Things I Like | March 16, 2015 | By

As we tend to congregate in and around the kitchen area, it’s always nice to spruce things up with the changing seasons. I’m excited for Spring, as the bright colours cheer me up after the dreary winter. Everything about Spring/Easter is just too cute and treat-a-licous as well! Bunnies, chicks, spring lambs and scrumptious chocolate eggs. I could go on, but instead I made a wish list of kitchenware I’d really like this Spring.

spring is in the air wish list home kitchen

 

1. Easter Bunny Cookie Cutter

How cute is this cookie cutter for Easter bakes? I love how detailed it is. I haven’t seen one quite like it before.

2. Sweetheart Retro Apron

Apron’s don’t have to be boring. If you love 50s style fashion like I do, then this will be right up your street.

3. Baking Delight Mug

I love the design of these mugs and they come in two pretty colours – yellow and teal.

4. Set of 5 Slogan Storage Tins 

Well you can never have enough storage! This set includes a bread and biscuit tin and costs £15, which isn’t bad. I think the slogans on these are funny too.

 

5. Spring Fever Linen Tea towel 

How gorgeous is this tea towel? Bright yellow and you’ve got to love the geese!

6. John Lewis Polly’s Pantry Egg Cups

Who wouldn’t want their eggs served up in these? I can imagine leaving them on display on our kitchen shelf. They’re just too nice to hide away in a cupboard.

7. Apiary Glass Honey Jar

I love that this honey jar is designed in the shape of a beehive and has a lid. Would look great displayed on a table.

8. Easter Eggs Mat & Coaster Set 

Cute matching set from Marks and Spencer to bring out at Easter. I like the egg design on them and the soft colours.

9. Oliver Bonas: Colour Pop Matt Bamboo Bowl

It’s impossible for me to go on the Oliver Bonas website and not buy something. Such unique items you don’t see anywhere else. Ive been wanting a wooden style bowl for so long now and this one is my favourite.

10. Oliver Bonas: Set of Three Minty Heart Bowls

I only have white heart-shaped bowls so when I saw these pastel colours in mint, yellow and blue, my eyes lit up. They’d look pretty for a picnic or to put makeup/jewellery in.

P.S. I have a Pinterest board of Spring inspired pins. Please share your Pinterest links in the comments so I can check yours out too!