How to keep the holiday feeling going

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It’s getting to that time of year again when summer holidays are starting to come to an end (although I do have one last hurrah left this summer and a mini-break next weekend to go), which is sad. But it is possible to keep that holiday feeling going, here’s are some ideas:

Fake tan

I am very pale and don’t tan, so I never have that moment when you get back from holiday and everyone in the office exclaims about how golden bronze and Greek goddess-like you are. So I fake it and before I go back to work slather on a layer or two of fake tan to remove my blinding milk bottle whiteness without the need for me to expose my skin to sun damage.

Read books set in your holiday destination

Travel books

It’s great to read a book and be able to really visualise the setting. You could also pick up some non-fiction and learn more about the history of a place.

If you’re unsure where to start then I definitely recommend a trip to Daunt Marylebone as they place their travel guidebooks alongside fiction and non-fiction books for each location. Alternatively, if you can’t get there, try Reading on Location.

Learn the language

If you fell in love with a country, why not try and learn some of the lingo so if you go back you can get around that bit easier? There are plenty of resources to help, or sign up for a class. I take German evening classes at City Lit and in addition to your usual European languages they offer classes languages like Icelandic and Japanese.

Cook dishes that you sampled on holiday

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Taste is such an important sense for recalling another place and time, so why not recreate dishes that you enjoyed abroad back at home?

There are recipe books for practically every cuisine under the sun so you’re sure to find something to help you whip up that local delicacy that you loved. Then, dim the lights, light a candle, sit by a window and let the summer air in, crack open a bottle of wine and let the food transport you back to your holiday.

If all else fails, find a local restaurant that will do it for you!

Blog about it

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If you’re a blogger then putting together a post on your holiday is the ideal way to prolong your holiday feeling. Going through photos and deciding which to put into a post and writing about your time somewhere means that you think back to your time there and relive the experience.

Plan another holiday

How better to keep that holiday feeling than by getting excited about going somewhere else? I have been known to start talking about where we should go next whilst we’re on the Stansted Express on the WAY to the airport.

Planning a holiday after returning from another has the advantage of focusing your mind on what you love in a holiday. Our recent trip to Budapest made me keen to see a lot more of the ‘old’ European cities. Prague is definitely on my list and Krakow is supposed to be beautiful. We’re also off to Slovenia in a few weeks, exciting!

Print your photos

How often do you get back from holiday, upload the photos to Facebook and then never really look at them again? DON’T! Get those photos printed out, get them on the wall, string them up in your bedroom, post them on your office cubicle wall, whatever you do, don’t just let them sit in cyberspace. Print them out and keep that holiday feeling going.

HP Social Media Snapshots can help you create awesome prints from your social albums.

This is a collaborative post. 

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Han Setto Brunch at Roka, Aldwych

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London sashimi

I’m not sure it’s appropriate to call Roka’s Han Setto Brunch a brunch really as it’s not actually available before midday on a weekend, so it’s definitely more ‘linner’ (lunch/dinner) than brunch, but semantics… it’s my favourite not-brunch in the City.

We’ve been a few times before but it’s not something I’ve ever posted about because there were always a lot of other blog posts about the Han Setto Brunch from much better bloggers than me, but on our most recent visit last month the menu had changed and so I thought I’d put up a bit of a post about it. The Han Setto brunch involves ten small sharing plates, followed by a main each (from a selection of dishes) and then a shared dessert platter.

Upon arrival we started with a complimentary bellini and toasted to our eight year anniversary(!), which we were celebrating that week and snacked upon a bowl of salted edamame beans. We’ve been seated before in both the main restaurant and the bar area and I’d definitely advise that you try and get a table in the main restaurant area as, although the food is the same, the service is just a bit more attentive there than in the bar.

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London bellini Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London edamame

Once we’d chosen our main dishes, the ten small sharing plates started coming thick and fast. Starting with a selection of sashimi – salmon, tuna and seabass.

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London sashimi

One of our first new dishes was the gobo and daikon salad with sesame and ponzu dressing. Gobo is also known as burdock root and is apparently a popular Japanese ingredient, it’s not something I’d come across before though. Done with our bellinis, our glasses were replaced with new ones and filled with prosecco. The bottomless brunch offers the food and welcome bellini for £39 a person or both of those plus unlimited red wine, white wine or prosecco for £55. We always opt for the option with unlimited prosecco (why wouldn’t you?).

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London gobo and daikon salad Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London prosecco

The potato salad with bacon and egg (in my view one of the weaker dishes from the old menu) remains on the new menu along with the Japanese pickles, although robata vegetables with sweet yuzu miso are a good new addition (replacing a tomato salad).

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London potato egg and bacon salad Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London robata vegetables and pickles

Pork and prawn dumplings are a variation on the old beef ones, again this dish is all mine because of the meat in them but I’m definitely not complaining because I love gyoza. The Han Setto brunch is our ideal sharing menu of plates as only two of the small plates feature meat (although I understand you can ask for veggie alternatives) and I’m happy to have those whilst my boyfriend tends to load up on the vegetable dishes.

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London gyoza dumplings

Assorted vegetable and prawn tempura is always one of our favourite dishes. The tempura batter is light and perfect, in fact, better than some of the tempura I’ve had in Japan. We also always appreciate that there are two of each kind of vegetable/prawn – sharing is caring.

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London vegetable and prawn tempura

The sushi selection have also changed slightly – still maki and urumaki but they’re now spicy mixed sashimi with cucumber and asparagus (below left) and avocado and gobo with crispy rice (below right). Both good substitutes for the old versions on the menu.

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London spicy mixed sashimi maki Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London avocado and gobo maki

Other than the drinks option, the only choice you have to make for the Han Setto Brunch is what main course to have – it’s not an easy choice with eight options!

My boyfriend usually chooses the sea bream fillet but unfortunately on this occasion they had run out. He was just about to switch to the other choice he was dithering over (the salmon fillet teriyaki with sansho salt) when the waitress informed him that they could instead do the cod in the same way that they do the sea bream and so he had that.

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London black cod

My choice of main course varies depending on the mood I’m in. This time it was the beef sirloin. Cooked so it’s only slightly pink in the middle, it’s s served with a dip and sliced so it’s easy to attack with chopsticks.

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London beef sirloin

Once the mains are over, a spectacular dessert platter gets delivered to the table. An array of fruits, sorbets and other treats all resting on a bed of ice. Although it looks massive when it arrives, it’s actually really light as a dessert and is a fantastic way to end the meal.

Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London dessert platterJapanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London dessert platter Japanese Han Setto brunch Roka Aldwych London dessert platter Buddha

My favourite bit is the chocolate truffle Buddha with a thin layer of passionfruit running through it. When I posted the photo above on the right to my Facebook my sister commented on it ‘What is the thing in the bowl and why does it seem to have a face??’ – odd I suppose, but delicious nonetheless.

We love it at Roka and if you fancy trying it out for yourself, I’d advise you to get yourself signed up for the Timeout Offers mailing list as they sometimes (every few months or so) have an offer on the Han Setto Brunch.

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Brighton street art

Brighton street art

A few weeks ago I was invited down to Brighton to Brighton Big Screen which was great. We woke up the morning after and decided to spend the day just exploring Brighton. If you’re a regular reader of Not Quite Enough then you’ll know I love street art (see my previous posts on the street art of Bristol, Sheffield and Brick Lane).

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We walked down from the Ibis Hotel towards the North Laine area where we stumbled across a treasure trove of street art. Rather than get too wordy (like I normally do), I thought I’d let the photos speak for themselves for once. Enjoy!

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What are your favourite street art hotspots? Where should I be checking out next?

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Celebrating a Diamond Wedding Anniversary

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A few weeks ago my family celebrated a very special occasion – my nan and grandad’s Diamond Wedding Anniversary – 60 years of marriage, the idea is actually a bit mind-blowing when I think about it. We wanted to do something to celebrate and rather than go out for a meal or something, we decided to have a family celebration at home.

I spent a long time thinking about how to make things special and did lots of research on Pinterest but I just couldn’t find a lot out there that was aimed at  smaller wedding anniversary celebrations rather than big parties or weddings. Rather than being all narrative, I thought I’d break down a few of the things we did whilst hopefully avoiding being all Pippa Middleton (if you want to have a party then you’ll have to invite some people….).

Easy peasy food

If you’re planning a celebration at home then try and make things as easy for yourself as possible by not having to do everything on the day. Rather than a sit-down meal, opt for a buffet or, as we did, afternoon tea. We made sandwiches on the morning, scones were bought rather than made and we had a cake stand full of goodies from Konditor and Cook and Marks & Spencer.

Because we were doing everything at home and have limited space in our house, we set everything up in the kitchen, we turned the kitchen table up against a wall, blutacked up a crepe paper backdrop (it turns out that my sister has excellent crepe paper skills) and then just brought through the food to the dining room as and when it was needed.

Meaningful touches

My nan and grandad have a set of Royal Doulton china (Rondelay pattern – the one in the front in the photo above on the right) from the 1970s that basically sits in the cupboard and which I’d never even seen. It’s not that they’re particularly precious mostly because it needs hand-washing and so instead they use a set of crockery that can go in the dishwasher. Given that there’s not much more of a special occasion than a diamond wedding anniversary (let’s face it, the Queen isn’t dropping around for tea any time soon), we decided to borrow it for our afternoon tea. Rather than borrow their full set, we decided to mix it up half and half with my mum’s Royal Doulton set (in Pastorale, above photo on the left) that she had when she got married in the 1980s and which sits in a cupboard for exactly the same reason – it needs hand-washing. We thought it would be a nice touch to have special crockery from two different generations and it gave us enough plates for all our guests. Maybe one day I’ll have my own set of Royal Doulton that sits in a cupboard! Although having said that, we must be a Royal Doulton family as I have the Royal Doulton 1815 range, but do actually use it.

Keeping it on theme

Of course, big number balloons are a must and we bought ours from a local balloon shop the day before and luckily the helium held up until the next day, equally we managed to avoid getting them trapped in the car door on what was one of the windiest days of the year. I also cracked out my beading equipment and made wine glass charms. They’re surprisingly easy to make, you can buy the wine glass charm wires online and then it’s just a case of opening out the bend in the wire, threading on crystals (I used Swarovski Crystal 4mm Bicone Beads in Violet and Tanzanite along with a few others I found in my bag of beads) and number charm before bending the end of the wire back again.

Rather than putting one big jar of jam into smaller pots to share out, I found a selection box of Tiptree jams and marmalade which meant that everyone could pick their own flavour and have their own little pot. The selection box included a whole range of jams, from your standard strawberry to more exciting flavours like raspberry with cassis. I kept the non-scone jams and marmalades aside for our own future use (and in fact dug into the apricot with armagnac at 5.30am on Brexit morning as I struggled to digest the news, the jam was at least lovely).

I made little covers for the jams using small lilac gingham cotton and a pair of pinking shears (a bit of advice, you need to make the circle much bigger than you think to allow for the excess fabric that comes down around the lid, I cut one that I thought was big enough, it really wasn’t). I secured them with childrens’ hairbands that I found in Sainsbury’s in various pastel shades, including lilac and white. I also produced little personalised labels for the jars, which I stuck on the opposite side to the flavour label. I just used large address labels and cut them down to size (last name photoshopped out for privacy, which is why it’s slightly off-balance in the photo).

Going bespoke

We decided that our regular Colin the Caterpillar birthday cake wasn’t quite going to cut it (nor was the Giant Colin the Caterpillar cake), so I was on the lookout for something special. I mean, how often does one have something this big to celebrate?!

I couldn’t find anything from the regular shops that was really special enough, so decided to find someone who would make something for us. A bit of internet research led me to Starry Delights, a cake company based near Newark, Nottinghamshire run by the super talented Yili who makes both celebration cakes and wedding cakes. I fell in love with one of her celebration cakes in her gallery, a simple pink cake topped with roses and asked whether she might be able to do a similar version in lilac (my mum and I decided pink was possibly a tad girly). Luckily she had availability for our date. It turned out beautifully, better than I could have hoped and, it even fit perfectly on my cake stand.

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When I found out our numbers were increasing a bit, I asked whether the cake could be made slightly bigger than I’d initially asked for as I was concerned that we might not have enough cake, Yili did try to reassure me that there would be enough, I didn’t listen, reasoning that even if there was too much that it would definitely get eaten (we like cake). It turns out that we really would have had enough cake with the smaller size as these babies are deep – four layers of cake (vanilla) with our choice of buttercream (lemon) and preserve (raspberry). I took enough home to keep me in cake for a week. Amazing. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Starry Delights cake if you’re in the Nottinghamshire area and looking for a special cake.

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Entertainment

To keep everyone entertained whilst they got settled and we sorted out drinks and the food, I bought little favours for everyone – lottery scratchcards. Inside Lucky in Love lottery ticket holders I stuck in a lottery scratchcard (purple to fit the general colour theme) along with a shiny 5p I blutacked in so that nobody was struggling to find something to scratch off the card with. I tucked them into Diamond Wedding Anniversary napkins (folded using a method I found on Pinterest).

It kept everyone occupied and although my nan and grandad have been lucky in love, they definitely weren’t lucky on the lottery. Oh well, for richer for poorer.

Memories

My nan and grandad live just five minutes from my mum and so she was able to find a time when they were out when she could steal my great-grandma’s version of their wedding album so that my sister could take scans of some of the photos so we could use them for our celebration.

 

My mum also dug around in her box of random photos that never made it into the photo albums and found photos from over the decades, from my mum being little right through to really recent photos. We displayed them around the room pegged to string. It’s a nice way to relive some memories and laugh at what everyone used to look like.

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Then and now

Of course we had to have a photo of the cutting of the cake, but it was only when I’d taken it that I realised the similarity to the photo of my nan and grandad cutting their wedding cake. Totally unintentional but very cool. If you have a great old photo of the happy couple, it’s definitely worth considering whether you can replicate it.

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I’m not a natural party planner but I hope it was a nice afternoon for our guests. I got a super sweet email from my grandad afterwards (with some help from my mum I suspect). Any foolproof party planning tips you have though, send them my way!

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