Category Archives: Bits and Pieces

Bread

When the first lockdown kicked in last year, it was very difficult to get hold of decent fresh bread; I quickly realised that it was one of the things that I missed most!

A baguette! A crusty roll! My kingdom for a poppy seeded bloomer!

My love affair with bread started quite early on in life.  On occasion, I used to go with my Godparents and pick up warm bread from a local bakery in Carshalton Beeches in Surrey.

I can still remember standing in line at the bakers very early on a Saturday morning, knowing that I would soon hold the warm bread in my hands; the smell in the bakery was bloody AMAZING and the loaf radiated its own mouthwatering scent in the car on the way home! Torture it was!

The vacuum packed baguettes that you can chuck in the oven or the bog standard pre-sliced loaves that you find in Supermarkets simply do not cut it. I vowed that I would learn how to make my own bread to an acceptable level, to satisfy my craving!

Now that the UK has returned to a second lockdown, I felt it was time to start making my own bread.

I was determined to do so with my own fair hands and without the convenience or dependency of the expensive bread making machines; said machines are currently sold out anyway, largely due to covid-19 panic buying and the logistics nightmare that has currently paralysed importing (shitty Brexit).

Thanks to a Jamie Oliver video on YouTube, I have already made a couple of loaves in 2021 and I am very pleased with the results! https://youtu.be/aUtxKeupYFg

For the recipe within the video, you only need strong flour, a sachet of yeast in water, a pinch of sugar and a pinch of salt. Couple of periods where you leave the dough to prove before you bake it in the oven for 35 mins on 180oC. Very simple.

My next goal is to add in a little wholemeal flower and top the loaf with black poppy seeds or seseme seeds 🙂 watch this space!

Give it a go! It is fun! Especially the kneeding of the dough, a good stress relief.

Garden 2020 – Chez Covid

My garden is slowly getting there, everything is starting to pop! 🙂 bit of rain certainly helps!

Dog photobombing and having a wee while I’m focusing on my mini apple tree. Tyke he is.

In-flight safety cards

I love in-flight safety cards, they’re a fucking right old hoot!

For example:

What you should do, when you’re a ginger and attacked by a giant octopus, whilst you’re aboard an aeroplane.

When you’re in Business class, you can do whatever you like. Throw a window out of the window! Fuck the police!

In-flight botox is available for trophy wives that are travelling in Premium Economy with their spoilt bastard kids.

Oslo – Feb 14th

Popped to Oslo on Valentine’s day to see a client for a review meeting and caught the last of the snow (hopefully!).

I always love visiting Norway, it is especially beautiful and full of kind people. Coming in to land at Oslo, you’ll see beautiful woodlands, lakes and then quaint housing before you finally touch down amongst the trees.

Glad I travel there with work; a drink, packet of crisps and a choc bar can set you back about a tenner which is painful!

For some strange reason, vegetarian food is very, very expensive here but that’s to be expecting given how Norwegians love their meat!

Didn’t see any wildlife this time as I was in central Oslo for a meeting! Maybe next time!

Cancun Mexico

Cancun. Wow! What an amazing place!

I spent 7 wonderful nights at the Moon Palace resort in Cancun between the 10th and 17th of November, the temperature there was 29oC and that’s slightly warmer than the frosty temperature back in the UK!

The beautiful Moon Palace resort is split into 3 different zones, Sunrise (more suited to younger couples and family orientated), The Grand (an Exclusive, grandiose and 5 diamonds rated luxury resort aimed at ‘nobby nob nob’ America and Arabic holidaymakers) and Nizuk (a more boutique experience and somewhere in the middle of the other two).

Normally, entry to the Grand resort is exclusive only to guests staying at the Grand; Nizuk and Sunrise guests can crossover into each other’s resort and I liked what I had seen in both places, so being a completionist I was curious to see what the Grand was like!

So I volunteered for an uncomfortable 3 hour tour/timeshare presentation to get a ‘free’ 1 day pass which is normally worth a couple of hundred US dollars.

Folks, don’t do what I did…..just buy the damned day pass if you want to check out the Grand! The Grand has its own water park with loads of slides and the Habibi Labanese restaurant is worth the price of the day pass alone.

However, avoid, avoid, avoid, the pushy Narcos timeshare sales pitch by Miguel at all costs!

Here’s the main bar at the Grand, which had what looked like a Murano glass ceiling. Funnily enough, I experienced gangsters at Mureno in Venice, so it was ironic to see Murano glass having just had a brush with the timeshare bandits.

Whatever zone you choose, you will see spectacularly landscaped gardens, several swimming pools, golf carts with dedicated staff who are only too happy to zip you off somewhere. Night or day, it all looks stunning.

All-inclusive at the Nizuk is a 5 star experience from start to finish. I had a Jacuzzi bath in my hotel room, access to 24 hour room service and fully stocked bottomless mini bar.

I saw my first raccoon and so many species of birds at the resort, Moon Palace has won lots of conservation awards and it’s easy to see this in their daily practices around the resort. I also saw some turtle nests, sadly I did not get to see the little chaps scuttle off into the sea but that’s ok.

What makes Nizuk special are the staff. Yutucan Mexicans (where most of the staff commute in from) are probably the hardest working professional people that I have ever met in my life and they all manage it, every day, with a smile and the kind of genuine warmth that humbled me to my core. If you are ever in their company, please tip very graciously.

Dinning at the exceptional El Manglar buffet restaurant is a spectacular affair; a couple of nights I also went to the resort a la carte traditional Los Caporales Mexican restaurant where I had the hottest habanero sauce of my life! Holy fuck it melted my mouth and tongue!

I think my favourite experience in Cancun was getting up early every day to watch the Sun rise from my balcony or down by the beachfront which was only a stones throw from my room.

I don’t think I would ever get bored of seeing such beauty.

I always enjoy a good swim, but drinking margaritas in the pool? Well that is just bloody fabulous?!?

The bottom line here is that you are not left wanting for anything here.

Going all-inclusive, you also get access to the other hotels that are part of the same group.

The Beach Palace hotel is about 20 minutes away from Moon Palace is on a stretch of beach that has the bluest water I’ve ever seen and has a spectacular rooftop terrace which gives a 360 degrees view of the surrounding area. Showing how the hotel zone strip acts as a divider between the lagoon and the sea.

There is also the Sun palace hotel, which is probably more of a local weekend break option. It was nice enough, but appeared to be very cramped compared to the others and in all honesty I couldn’t be arsed taking photos of all the sardine-like guests there!

I am glad I ventured out around the hotel zone because I saw first hand how local people go about their daily lives.

Mexicans live together and work together in such a fashion that can only make one conclude how disconnected the average London city worker is in compaison.

During lunchtime in Cancun, you see people sheltering together in the shade under the trees to stay out of the roasting Sun, people are sharing out food between each other; in some cases, cars are delivering lunches to everyone at the roadside and I thought this was beautiful, humanity at its finest and something that I really took to my heart (Corazon!).

If anything, it made me consider how extremely privileged I was to holiday at somewhere like the Moon Palace resort, knowing that I was eventually going back to my home and to all the things that I try not to take for granted.

I very much hope to go back to Mexico, next time for 2 weeks if possible, so that I can go on some tours!

I went to Cancun to have fun and relax for the first time in 5 years and I achieved that in abundance; but I think my trip also refreshed my moral compass which was definitely unexpected.

And for that, I say, gracias and salud!