Summer is over

I’ve had a great summer so far, end of July and August gave us some lovely weather, there were definitely days of intense sunshine that was enjoyed. What I will remember most this summer is the time I spent with some good friends, plus the day trips and mini weekend away break bf and I went on. It’s been a busy and fun summer indeed, that’s why I feel blue it’s ending! I’ll be returning back to work next week which means early morning wake-ups and longings for afternoon naps. It really has been a great summer, thank you friends and bf for making it a memorable one.

I will miss you summer.

Behind me were people lindy hopping, I wanted to join in!

Close up. The atmosphere was so relaxed, Berliners were drinking but weren’t rowdy.

Kids and adults like to have a paddle in here.

I like the window display and neon sign.

Pinocchio and I having a break.

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The Belle Isle, Southsea

On Sunday we decided to head down to Southsea to wander around John Lewis and the library. It’s a relatively new library (opened last year or so) and I love it! We tend to pop in every time we are in the area. I got a few books out and then eagerly proceeded to The Belle Isle. I was excited for bf to try this place as I had such a great experience at the Chichester branch. It was around 3pm and there were quite a few people, not overly packed as there were around 4 empty tables at the back of the restaurant. We decided on something light so ordered a bagel and baguette from the lunch menu and a starter of twice cooked crisps with soft drinks. An easy lunch we thought, but it wasn’t so, it took around 40 minutes for the food to come out! 40 frigging minutes for food that you dont need to cook, just assemble. I don’t think we’ve ever experienced such a long waiting time before! They decided not to serve the starter as a starter, instead they brought it with the sarnies. We weren’t pleased to say the least. The food was mediocre, I had brie and mango chutney with red onion on a baguette. It was bog standard, nothing exciting about it at all. The mango chutney was watery with no mango chunks in it, it wasn’t homemade I presume. The red onion was raw and was scattered on top, I was expecting it to be caramelised. I moved them all to the side. There wasn’t much Brie, they semi grilled this on top of the bread, I say grilled but it was more melted rather than grilled as there were no golden colouring.

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Bf ordered the bagel and felt extremely underwhelmed, the bagel was the supermarket kind, so it was not fresh or tasty like the ones you get from East London bagel shop (we used to live near one). The filling consisted of pastrami, gherkin and sauerkraut as this was called NY Deli Style. It was dry with minimal sauce, he said it felt like he was just eating bread. There was a fair amount of filling however the pastrami was dry and probably not fresh.

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We decided to order the starter of paprika twice cooked crisps because the waitress said our sandwiches weren’t served with anything. I made sure bf asked, because if she said crisps or tortilla chips we would have ordered something else! But as you can see in the picture, the bagel was served with tortilla chips! The twice cooked chips were certainly cooked twice since it came out dark, burnt and tasting of grease. Plus only one measly crisp was coated in paprika. What made the whole experience even worse was finding a hair in the food.

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As you can guess, overall we did not enjoy this restaurant, we should have listened to our initial instinct when we were hit with the smell of sweat! If you want to try this place, make sure you go to the Chichester branch instead!

I rate this 1/10.

39 Osborne Road,
Southsea.

The Belle Isle, Chichester

My friend was coming down to visit so I needed somewhere nice for us to have lunch! The Belle Isle has been open a few years now in Southsea but I’ve never eaten there, I’ve only had a few drinks there for a friend’s leaving do. I have walked past it a few times but the menu never really enticed me as they offer Mexican food such as  burritos, fahjitas, nachos… you get the drift (I’m not too keen on Mexican food). My eyes never went past these hence I’ve never stepped foot in there for food. After closer inspection they offer a real mix bag of cuisine which I guess is good for me! They have jerk chicken, asian beef salad, mussels, etc.

I decided to take my friend to Chichester for the afternoon on Saturday and try out new The Belle Isle, it opened in March this year. A friend of mine recommended the food so I thought it was about time to try it out! The Chichester branch was huge, I liked this as it didn’t feel cramped and claustrophobic which the Southsea branch definitely is when it’s packed! There was range of seating areas such as the couch and low table area, the stool and high table area, the dining table and chair area and the outside conservatory area! I think you can order food and eat in any of those areas. We stuck to the traditional dining area!

We ordered a starter of hummus, pitta & olives (£3.95), two mains to share, which were Alabama hotpot (£8.95) and shipwrecked mussels with crusty bread (£9.95) and because I was driving, cranberry juice for me (£2.50) and summer fruit mojito for my friend (£6).  The starter came out prompt and soon after the mains were served. The service was good and there were a lot of staff who were pleasant and efficient.

The olives were massive and I was glad that they included black olives as they are my favourite. Overall it was good, nothing special. The size of the olives made it, plus it being served in a Heinz baked beans tin was a cute touch.

Cranberry was fine, would be nice if it was a bigger glass as you can see they put in a lot of ice. The summer fruit mojito was very tasty and refreshing, if I wasn’t driving I would have had more than a sip, though it was a little pricey at £6.

The dishes that impressed me the most were the mains, both of them. I ordered the Alabama hot pot as I love belly pork and sweet potato! Plus before coming here I searched online for a picture and that satisfied my curiosity. The pork was tender and melted in your mouth, the sweet potato was soft and helped soak up the sauce nicely. The sauce had spice to it, though not over powering, it had a gentle hum of chilli which was nice and warming. It came with potato wedges which tasted fine but I would have preferred rice to help soak up the tasty sauce! The mussels were generous in portion, I was impressed with the size of the mussels, because of the size, they were plump and very succulent indeed. I liked that they were not cooked in the usual cream and wine, instead it was chilli and lime. The only down side for me was the bread that it was served with, they had over toasted this. I would have like it fresh and not toasted, this way the bread would have been able to absorbed more of the sauce. I think we could have got away with getting the smaller starter portion of the mussels as we did leave a good few.

Overall 8/10 for the Chichester branch. I went to the Southsea branch recently, that’s a different story!

31-32 Chapel Street, Chichester.

Food in Berlin Part l

As you all know I really enjoy eating so here is a post on the food I sampled in Berlin!

The very first thing I tried in Berlin was Hazelnut ice cream from Bandy Brooks, I ordered one scoop in a sugar cone (€1.90). Ever since Italy I have always favoured Hazelnut, I can’t get enough of it, the ice cream here is just as good.

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We also sampled Berlin’s most famous street food, currywurst and pommes frites (curry sausage and chips). You can get this everywhere around Berlin and it’s very popular with everyone, from grandmas to businessmen and tourists! The price is around €3-5 for a paper bowl of currywurst and pommes frites, they charge extra for mayo. They cut the sausage and then sprinkle curry spices and flavourings on top then squirt a load of ketchup mix on top and then serve with chips. If you order mayo they dollop it on top. I’m not keen on this dolloping, I’d much prefer them serve it on the side! This is a very tasty but unhealthy snack so we shared it!

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We got quite into frozen yoghurts since we discovered Wonderpots beneath the railway arches on Georgenstraße street. The shop is very alluring with it’s lovely interior and relaxed decor, I was drawn in by the big comfy sofa and the snazzy counter. We ordered a medium pot with 3 toppings that cost €4.50. There’s only one flavour yoghurt (plain) and many toppings. We ate there twice, the first time we have mango puree, blueberry and sugar coated nuts. I thought the nuts were going to be the kind we get in the UK from the ice cream van, but these were coated in sugar and didn’t taste nutty at all. The second time I enjoyed the toppings much more. I ordered fresh mango, watermelon pieces and crunchy muesli. If I lived in Berlin this place would definitely be my regular. I love that you can relax here, they even have magazines and board games! We had a game of connect 4 and bf won because I wasn’t paying attention.ImageImageImage

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Back from Berlin

I haven’t had a holiday with bf since Brussels and I think that was in 2009. Finally we were able to go away for a few days and I picked Berlin. We’re not the type that enjoy beach holidays, though I have never been on any, I just don’t enjoy basking in the sun and heat for a long period of time. I don’t want my face to turn into a prune when I’m old. I enjoy city breaks where you get to sample local cuisine, see architecture and shops etc. I also enjoy browsing foreign supermarkets!?

One main reason I wanted to go to Berlin was to check out the vintage stores and markets, plus I’m fascinated with the past divide of East and West and wanted to see any glimpses of the past. I really enjoyed Berlin, it has a nice relaxed atmosphere though I found the city to be vast and there were construction sites nearly everywhere we turned, so definitely not a pretty city like Paris or Amsterdam. The cafes/restaurants/shops/markets that I marked to visit were so spread out that the majority of them had only that establishment in that street. Maybe that’s why so many Berliners ride a bicycle. Although some areas didn’t look all that clean with lots of posters and graffiti I felt safe, but maybe we never were in any rough neighbourhoods? We tried local street food such as the currywurst & pomme frites and Turkish kebabs. There’s a lot of Vietnamese immigrants in Berlin so there was an abundance of Vietnamese cafes and restaurants. Most seems very popular, we tried out a restaurant Ho Vang and I ordered Pho Bo (My go to Vietnamese dish) and bf had Chilli Chicken Lemongrass with rice. Both dishes were very flavoursome but I was disappointed with the waitress failing to understand what Hoisin sauce was and then at the end of the meal I saw rows of the stuff on the counter! I had even demonstrated to her how to put it on the Pho Bo in the hope it would jog her memory!

Anyway here are some pics of day 1:

Friedrichstraße

Wooden toy shop

Tourists

Outside hotel

Ho Vang Vietnamese Restaurant (this came to roughly £16 including soft drinks)

The famous Mustafa’s kebab stall

Giant me half asleep (been up for nearly 48 hrs!)

Some Bargain Purchases!

Before dropping off presents (hamper that I put together with the bf and a herb garden I potted) to the to the birthday boy (grandfather-in-law)  I popped into town for a little wander.20120809-202749.jpg

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I got in around 10am which is the best time to browse the shops, I love that is so quiet! I went back into Poundland since I bagged a few Stila products the other day I had to check for any new deliveries! I came across a dry shampoo by Stila. I had to get some new night cream so I headed to Boots, I got their own brand time delay night cream which I’ve used before and liked but this time it was on offer! I also purchased a Revlon Just Bitten in honey, again this was on offer too!

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I wanted Clinque’s chubby stick but didn’t fancy spending so much!

I have been using this for a few days now and really love it because it’s very moisturising and easy to apply, plus I like the pink colour, it’s not too vibrant but still noticeable. The only down side is that it does need to be reapplied after an hour or two and definitely after eating, but saying that it does stain your lips leaving some areas still with colour, not sure if that’s a good thing or not but you should check every few hours, otherwise it’ll look like you’re wearing just lip liner!

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It’s a bit more pink in real life, this is me with it on for a hour or so.

In addition to the beauty products I also came away with two necklaces, one was a delicate long sphere, it was £2 (down from £10) and the other one was a flower was £3 (down from £12). I left town happy with so many bargains!

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20120809-202708.jpgRevlon Just Bitten lip balm stain fading…