Friday, 26 September 2014

Beautiful Cape Verde - a cheeky week away

Never heard of Cape Verde? Well it's only been around as a tourist destination for around 15 years so you may not have done. It had vaguely entered my conscious but it was only when I was searching for a late September break for the 4 of us (me, husband and 2 grown up girls) that I came across it. My search was for a) affordable b) good weather c) all inclusive d) no jet lag e) lovely beaches. Cape Verde ticked all the boxes so if this blog looks woefully neglected then it's because I have been soaking up rays on a sun-drenched beach with a cocktail and a good book.

So the low-down on Cape Verde. Without realising we actually booked during the rainy season which runs from August until October. However this isn't like the Caribbean and the rainfall, although really heavy when it did come down, only occurred on one day out of seven unlike the full 3 days we had at the same time in Antigua. Apparently it only rains on the island of Sol 7 days of the year - trust us to get one of those days. So heavy was the rain that the corridors to the hotel were flooded as were the walkways, bar at the swimming pool and several of the rooms. One along from us was under 2 inches and the heavy rainfall brought down both the ceiling and the curtain rail - which I do believe was highly unusual!

Anyway apart from this which happened 3 days into the holiday we had brilliant sunshine, a breeze that cooled us down for a lot of the time and plenty of sunshine for lounging around the pool. If you are expecting a holiday experience which includes sightseeing then forget it. You can take a half day tour, and I would recommend booking with one of the guys who park their vans outside the gates of the hotel at the beach, they will take you everywhere, to do so. The salt pans with the Cape Verde version of the Dead Sea is well worth a visit - the mud at the bottom of the lake is hot and brilliant for exfoliating, as are some of the small developments. You shouldn't ever just stick to your hotel in my opinion, and if you do venture out take fruit and bread from your all inclusive for the local children - they need and really appreciate this small gesture. Nothing grows here really either so some of the landscapes are more like moonscapes and are quite beautiful in themselves.

The people are amongst the most genuine and friendly I have met as they are, as yet, un-jaded by tourism and again you feel that they are pleased you have come to visit - and by adding to the economy you really are giving a lifeline and jobs where there was so very little before.

At certain months of the year Sol becomes a surfers paradise - it's windy all year round but in certain months the wind and the huge waves provide surfing and kite-surfing challenges for even the most professional.

If you want somewhere to crash out and catch some sun while reading a book (or Kindle) with a little sightseeing, good food that is only 5 hours or so away then Cape Verde is well-worth looking at. Not for clubbers or those wanting uber sophistication - although this won't be far away I'm sure.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Breaking News: Launch of REVEAL from Calvin Klein

Back in July which was hotter than the sahara in London Town the great and the good of glossy magazinedom (and me) descended on, well to be absolutely accurate we ascended) The Shard to the 35th Floor and Shangri-La where the latest fragrance from Calvin Klein was revealed in a cloud of pink perfume ribbons. Reveal was revealed and is one of those fragrances which will soon be gracing many a dressing table.

The sexy advertising shoot features supermodel Doutzen Kroes and British actor Charlie Hunnam in a heated embrace beside the window of a modern high-rise, so our setting above the cityscape of London was fitting to be introduced to the fragrance.

They have gone for a fragrance that 'defines a new fragrance category - the solar oriental' - characterised by freshness and warmth all in one bottle. It has raw salt as a signature, with pink, black and white pepper and at the heart orris, ambergris and solar accord. Dry notes of sandalwood, casheran and vetiver also mingle.

It's not an overpowering scent and can be worn all day and night. The bottle is really modern and square-edged with a bare blush background and a heavy metallic top.

I liked it - it's not too heavy and I must say I loved the bottle! Calvin Klein, Reveal starts at £22 for 200ml shower gel with £38 for 30ml eau de parfum spray, with £52 for 50ml and £70 for 100ml.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Superfood Bread from Deliciously Ella

I'm a bit late to the party, I realise, but I have come across the fantastic  website of Deliciously Ella. She also has a cookbook which I must admit I might put on my Christmas gift list. Following a bout of serious food poisoning lately which has left me with a miserable irritable bowel, I have decided that it is about time I really looked at my diet and ways of getting more health food aware. Okay I do eat fresh as often as possible - and try to cook for my family often, but I realise in comparison with my work collegues, I am definitely wanting. To combat the IBS I have been taking Psyllium husk (2 teaspoons with juice in the morning). This is a natural 'sweeper' keeping your gut clear and healthy. I've also been taking a probiotic supplement to help replace the healthy bacteria in my stomach and oregano drops in water to get rid of the bad bacteria. The latter is, frankly, disgusting and leaves me tasting oregano for a while ever since. This combination does seem to be doing the trick, no bloating and things getting back to normal, so spurred on I looked at healthy recipes especially to replace things like bread in my diet. And this is when I came across Deliciously Ella and her Superfood Bread recipe.

You will need to make a trip to your local health food store as some of these ingredients are not readily available in your supermarket, but they will last you a long time and can be used in lots of the recipes you will find on her website.

Ingredients for Superfood Bread

2 cups cold water
1.5 cups pumpkin seeds
1 cup buckwheat or brown rice flour (I used buckwheat)
0.5 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup almonds
3 heaped tablespoons psyllium husk powder
2 tbs chia seeds
2 tbs dried herbs (I used mixed Italian herbs)
salt and pepper

Grind 1 cup of the almonds and 1 cup of pumpkin seeds in a food processor until they go down to a coarse flour. Put in a large mixing bowl with all the other ingredients then add the water and mix. Leave to stand for an hour and in the meantime heat oven to 180 degrees. Make sure the mixture is really firm - if it is still runny or wet add more psyllium husk powder as this is the binder.

Bake for 40 mins - 1 hour until a knife comes out cleanly. Serve toasted with favourite toppings.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Joan Rivers - a force to be reckoned with

Joan Rivers has died aged 81 and as she was one of the first female comics I came across who actually made me spit my coffee across the table with the inappropriateness of her comments and the sheer audacity of her opinions I had to remember her here - so I don't ever forget her.

I wish I had a twin, so I could know what I’d look like without plastic surgery.

My love life is like a piece of Swiss cheese. Most of it’s missing, and what’s there stinks.

All babies look like Renée Zellweger pushed against a glass window.

The people voting for the Oscars are so old. I haven’t seen one Academy award voter with a tampon in her purse.

I like colonic irrigation because sometimes you find old jewelry.

My husband wanted to be cremated. I told him I’d scatter his ashes at Neiman Marcus – that way, I’d visit him every day.

You may have read these quotes before as they appeared in The Guardian newspaper but I must admit I couldn't have found better to illustrate her wit.

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