Sunday, 24 August 2014

Summer Gin Cocktails with Waitrose Cellar

It's been a while since I've shaken up some new concoctions, so I was thrilled to be challenged by Waitrose Cellar to share a Summer cocktail with a twist. I chose to use their Earl Grey and Lemon Gin by Heston Blumenthal as my base liquor, and headed in store to pick up my mixers.
The gin by itself is delicious. The Earl Grey flavour is faint, but it certainly gives it a little more depth to a G&T!
In the end, I made two different drinks using the gin, so thought I may as well share them both here!

________________________








Citrus Gin Fizz (makes two)

In a cocktail shaker, combine 50ml gin with 25ml triple sec, or any other orange liquor (such as Cointreau.) Shake with ice.

Strain the mix into two flutes and top with Prosecco. Garnish with a lemon twist.









________________________









Raspberry G&T (makes one)


In a cocktail shaker, combine 5 raspberries with 50ml gin and 25ml elderflower cordial. Shake with ice.

Strain into a glass with ice, top with tonic water and garnish with a few more raspberries and a straw.










I really enjoyed mixing up these drinks this afternoon, and I definitely want to do it more often. Thank you Waitrose Cellar for the challenge!
What's your favourite summer cocktail? x

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Merthyr Rock

(Above photo from Merthyr Rock's Facebook page)

We decided not to go back to Reading after last year (read more here.) The festival seemed so big, so expensive, and less bands we liked were playing. Although the bill for this year was sort of tempting, the ticket price was not. We ended up buying ourselves tickets for Merthyr Rock festival, in Merthyr Tydfil, Wales, for just £25 each. One of our favourite bands, Taking Back Sunday, sat at the top of the bill, and so the amazing price point and small festival atmosphere were enough to attract us. On the same day that I booked our tickets, I also booked the nearest Travelodge for £12.50 each. Bargain!
On Sunday, we set off from home just after 10am, via Tesco to stock up on munchies for the road. The journey went pretty quickly (so did the Maoams) and before we knew it, we pulled up in the Travelodge car park. We had to pay an extra £10 to check in early, but it meant we could get our bags in the room and freshen up before heading to the venue. Our room was massive! There could have easily been another double bed in there. The Travelodge was a newly refurbished one, much nicer than the London ad Reading ones we've stayed in before. It was situated in the middle of a retail park, which had a cinema and restaurants. We went in to the all you can eat Chinese buffet, which was bloody awful, and then made the half an hour walk to the grounds of Cyfarthfa Castle.
 The festival amenities were okay. There were only two food vendors - burgers and chips or fish and chips - and only one bar. Also, the toilets were mixed, so the girls had to walk past the guys using urinals to get to the cubicles. Not something which I had a problem with, but I can imagine others would. Big Deal clothing and Heads Above the Waves had their own merch stalls, as well as the festival official merch. It was such a small site compared to what we're used too; even smaller than South West Live on Weston Super Mare beach, but I think that's what made it so unique. We bumped into friends who had been to the festival a few times before, and they said that this year seemed smaller and there were less vendors - cutting costs maybe? Either way, it made no difference to the impeccable organisation of the music.
There were three stages - the Main Stage, as pictured at the top, the Second Stage which was to the left of the Main Stage, and the Young Promoters Network stage, a small tent to the left of the arena space. The last time I went to a festival where two stages ran alongside each other was Give It A Name in Earls Court, 2006. It worked brilliantly then, and it was even better in Merthyr. Within minutes of a band leaving the main stage, the next one had started on the second stage. It was constant live music all day, and loads of the artists sang the praises of the organisation.
Musical highlights for me were The Blackout, who were playing in their home town, Reel Big Fish, who got us moving our feet and shaking our hips in the sunshine, and of course, Taking Back Sunday, the band which brought Ash and I together over 8 years ago! I saw the signing tent schedule pretty early on in the day, and knew we had to seize the opportunity to meet the band who's gig we met at in 2006. We queued up 20 minutes before, and were shuffled through quite quickly. We were told no photos which was a shame, but it was still a pleasure to get our tickets signed and have a quick chat with them. After the signing was over, we managed to snap this selfie with Adam Lazzara who I used to have the biggest crush on #noshame

Merthyr Rock has such potential to become a great festival, and if the line up's right, maybe we'll return next year!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

5 Years

Today, Ash and I celebrate 5 years together. I could go on and on about the time we've spent together - good times and bad times, travelling the world and nights in at home, all the gigs we've been too and things we've done - but instead, I'll say this. These past 5 years have been the most fun I have ever had.
Facebook automatically put together an album of loads of photos of the two of us, so I thought I'd share some of my favourites here! x
At a friends wedding, earlier this year
Grand Canyon
Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco
London
Guinness Storehouse, Dublin
Butterbeer at the Harry Potter Studios
Holiday in Ibiza
Under the Eiffel Tower, Paris
Hot tub by the sea. Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt
Sunset over Sinai, Egypt
Reading Festival
Alton Towers Hotel
Southend on Sea
Snow at home
Halloween
Reading 09 - the week it all began

Oh well I look at you and say It's the happiest that I've ever been
And I'll say I no longer feel I have to be James Dean
And she'll say "Yeah well, I feel all pretty happy too,
And I'm always pretty happy when I'm just kicking back with you"

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Helicopter to the Grand Canyon from Las Vegas

It was 5am. We'd got back to our room only hours before after spending our evening at The Rio Hotel watching Penn and Teller. My alarm sounded like the loudest thing in the world. But we got ourselves out of bed, dressed, and headed downstairs to the lobby. Much to our amazement, Starbucks was already open! We grabbed a couple of lattes and headed outside to wait for our pick up. After a few minutes, our black stretch limo turned around the corner and in we climbed. Within minutes, we arrived at the airfield to prepare ourselves for moments we will never forget. A helicopter ride to the Grand Canyon! It was at least another hour until we went out onto the airfield to meet our pilot. In that time, we watched the sunrise over the desert, helicopter shadows all around. I used the Wifi and posted up photos of our view, just to make my work colleagues a little bit jealous #iminvegasyoureatwork 
Our pilot, whos name escapes me, gave us a safety briefing and kitted us out with yellow life belt packs, before helping us into the helicopter and preparing us for take off. To our surprise, it was a lot more steady than most of the aeroplanes I've been on! We took off over the Las Vegas strip, and really glimpse of all the hotels from above.
Before long, we were over the desert. Our headphones were connected to a recording which explained what we were flying over, and every now and then, a song played too. We travelled over the Hoover Dam, Lake Mead and the Colorado River, and after 45 minutes in the air, began our descent into the Canyon.
Our trip included a champagne breakfast after landing. We enjoyed a mini muffin, breakfast bars, orange juice, fruit and bubbly, whilst awing in wonder of the colours around us. The sky was so bright, even just after sunrise, and there was a chill in the air - the perks of going early is to avoid the desert heat!
Before long, we were back up in the air and on our way back to Vegas. I thought our views of the hotels on the way out were incredible, but on the way back it was something else. Our pilot flew quite low to a lot of the hotels and I managed to get some photos through the window.

This trip was one that I will NEVER forget. It was one thing to go in a helicopter, but another to fly to the Canyon and fly over the Las Vegas strip. We booked our trip through Viator (here) and it cost us just over £200 each, but it was worth every penny.

Rosie x

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Luxor, Las Vegas

I didn't ever get around to posting up our photos from Las Vegas, so I thought now was as good of a time as ever to start! We loved Vegas. It's Disneyland for adults. I loved the crazy hotels, the cocktails, the huge food, the slots and tables and the constant entertainment that comes with the Strip. We stayed at Luxor, the huge pyramid on the edge of the strip, and found it to be the perfect hotel for our first trip to Vegas.

Out out all of the hotels we went in, Luxor was the one which gave me the biggest wow factor. Just look at it! A huge, black pyramid which glistens in the desert sun, and inside the rows and rows of rooms disappear into a point above your head. Our check-in was incredibly quick, and after a 12 minute walk to the 16th floor, we were amazed at the size of our room, with it's slanted window, huge bathroom and view over the Sphinx. Although we weren't in the centre of the Strip, we didn't find the walk *too* bad - once you're used to the vastness of the hotels, you have to plan ahead for everything anyway. 
 
We ate inside Luxor twice - just after arriving and just before leaving. We went to 'The Public House' for a burger and beers as big as our heads, and the buffet for breakfast on the day we left. I FaceTimed my Mum from our breakfast table to show her the view of the casino floor...she was amazed to see a car spinning around in the middle of slot machines! I said I'd try to win it for her before we left, but I think I'd have problems getting it into my hand luggage. 

You can read my TripAdvisor review of the hotel here if you're interested!
More Vegas coming soon!
Rosie x