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3 spots with amazing views over London

I’m a sucker for a good view. I love hills (though not climbing them), rooftop bars and restaurants at the top of tall buildings. Very luckily for me, then, that London is full of all of these things.

I haven’t visited them all (probably not even possible!) as I’m often put off by queuing and no-reservations policies, but I’ve still been to a fair few. If you know London well, my choices might seem quite familiar, boring, even, but I just thought that starting with the basics was the way to go. Maybe next I’ll do one about the hidden gems – although I’m still not quite over the closure of Paramount which would’ve definitely been on that list. I’m still desperately hoping they’d re-open up somewhere else!

Anyway, let’s not get sidetracked!

AQUA SHARD



Well, of course. I LOVE The Shard – outside and inside. But even still, I wouldn’t pay £25 to go to the top (unless maybe it was a special occasion!) when I can just go up to the Aqua Shard for free. Sure, it’s not quite as high up as the official platform, but the views are still amazing.

As I said, the entry to Aqua Shard is free, but as it is a bar, it’s probably common courtesy to buy something. That said, it’s always so busy so I’d doubt they would even notice if you just rock up, take a few pictures and leave. But don’t tell them I said so! For me it’s worth it though – for the price of (granted, an expensive) drink you also get lovely views over one of the best cities in the world and a buzzing atmosphere to boot. Go at sunset if you can – it’s gorgeous!

TOP OF GREENWICH PARK



As I said, London is full of hills, but the top of Greenwich Park is definitely my favourite one. You get amazing views of all the tall buildings of the nearby Canary Wharf, which I imagine, with all of its lights, would look even more beautiful during the darker hours.

The best way to get here is to take the DLR to Cutty Sark, wander around Greenwich Market and then finally walk through the park, all the way to the top of the hill. The view is definitely worth the short trek, and afterwards you can treat yourself to drink of your choice in one of the many cosy pubs in the nearby, super cute Blackheath Village too.

THE SKY GARDEN



Another tall building! I just had to.

I’ve now visited Sky Garden twice, and I absolutely love it – I think it’s such a great concept! Who doesn’t want to admire great views and plants at the same time?!

Going to the Sky Garden is free, although you do have to book a slot beforehand which can sometimes prove to be tricky. However, just keep trying and you’ll get there – I promise! One way to get around the slot booking is to book a table in the Darwin Brasserie which sits in the middle of the gardens, overlooking everything. I went there for brunch on my boyfriends birthday and it was so lovely.

You don’t have to eat or drink or buy anything else either if you want to just go to the gardens though – just book early! You can book up to 2 weeks in advance and I swear that it’s worth the little trouble it takes.

Where’s your favourite place for beautiful views over London? I’m always very keen to try out more spots!

food · low fodmap

What I Eat in a Day: Low FODMAP

Because I started the elimination phase of a diet called the low FODMAP two weeks ago I thought it would be interesting to share what I actually CAN eat whilst on the strictest phase of the diet. For those who might not have heard of the low FODMAP (I know I hadn’t before!), it’s not a diet to lose weight – I don’t believe in those! – but a one to (hopefully) help with my stomach pains.

Low FODMAP is often used as the first thing to “treat” people with IBS and for the first four weeks you eliminate anything containing the FODMAP-sugars from your diet. If you feel better after the elimination phase, you’ll start re-introducing the “forbidden” foods back into your diet one by one, seeing if any of them trigger the pains.

Honestly, it’s not a miracle cure, but I think it has helped me a bit, and that’s something at least! I’m keeping a food & symptom diary whilst doing this, and I will continue throughout and after the re-introducing phase too, just to see what effect it really has. Fingers crossed I see some results!

Even if this whole FODMAP malarkey isn’t relevant to you, I hope you’ll still enjoy this little sneak peek into my life via food. This was a bank holiday Monday, and whilst I’d usually be eating out, this time most of the things I had were home cooked because eating in restaurants is very frustrating at the moment. If nothing else, I’ve definitely had to get more creative lately which can only be a good thing!

Let’s start with…

BREAKFAST





This breakfast isn’t THAT different from my normal one – instead of rye bread I’ve got gluten free toast here with red peppers, tomatoes and cheddar cheese. I enjoyed it with a biiig cup of peppermint tea & an episode of Call the Midwife (I’m so obsessed!). If I’m super hungry I’ll also have a bowl yogurt with different berries and nuts – it’s so lovely and sweet and almost works as a dessert!

LUNCH





My friend Sandra recently inspired me to stop using canned tomatoes (although I still get them for when I’ve run out of everything else & payday seems miles away..!) and start making my tomato sauce from scratch instead. I’m so glad I listened as it’s SO easy and also very quick to make. This one had red peppers & courgettes as well and was very, very yummy. Let me know if you’d be interested in seeing the recipe!

DESSERT



It was bank holiday so I had to sneak something a bit cheeky into the mix too… I was craving sorbet, so we googled our nearest ice cream parlour and headed to East Dulwich in search of the perfect scoop of gelato and found it in Oddono’s. I had their strawberry sorbet which tasted super fresh and sweet – the flavour of the strawberries really came through and didn’t feel artificial at all. Success!

AFTERNOON SNACK



As we had had an early lunch at 11 and the sorbet scoop was quite small, I was already getting hungry for dinner at 3pm. I thought that was sliiightly too early, so I decided to prepare a something tasty for a snack instead. We had made nacho platters the night before, and I still had some plain tortilla chips left (aka my favourite things ever) so I made a little homemade salsa to accompany them – it was so good! I also decided to have a few rice cakes with slices of cucumber because why not?! It was bank holiday after all! I was so happy with the outcome and will definitely be attempting to make my own salsas in the future too!

DINNER





Finally it was time for dinner! I had seen a recipe for a Thai Green Curry that was low on FODMAPs so I decided to attempt that as all I needed to do differently was to make my own paste. This seemed a bit daunting at first, but after looking at the ingredient list I realised that they were all pretty easily attainable, so I decided to give it a go – and I’m so glad I did! This was honestly one of the best curries I’ve ever made, and I felt so proud because this time I has made everything from scratch.

Making the paste didn’t take long at all, so I would definitely recommend it to anyone who’s used to using store bought ones! Also, the recipe was originally for a chicken curry, but as I’m a vegetarian I just modified it a bit by throwing in some of my favourite veggies such as broccoli, bell peppers and green beans until I was satisfied that there was enough food. You can really get super creative with this and just try it out with all the veggies/meat that you like the most. Enjoy!

aquavit · brighton · restaurants · snippets of the week

Snippets of the week: Brighton daytrip & a new restaurant find

Happy bank holiday Sunday!

I’m so glad we were treated to a bit of sunshine yesterday as I had a short daytrip planned to Brighton, and even though the city is full of cosy pubs in case it rains, I do feel like it still really comes alive in the sun – it’s a seaside town after all! I think I’m going to do these daytrips a bit more often now, because Brighton is fast coming my favourite UK city after London, plus the return train fare is surprisingly cheap! You’ll need to take the slow train from Blackfriars, but even that won’t take you that long. I struggled slightly as I was a tiiiny bit hungover yesterday morning, but if, unlike me, you know your limits (who said it was a good idea to drink a bottle wine to an empty stomach?!) you should be absolutely fine!

Last week I also visited the newly opened London branch of the Aquavit restaurant near Piccadilly Circus. The place is inspired by the restaurant of the same name in New York (which has 2 Michelin stars by the way!) and serves, in their own words, contemporary Nordic cuisine from morning to night. We didn’t go to eat so I can’t say anything about the food, but I did love the atmosphere and the decor a lot – it actually reminded me a bit of another Nordic restaurant called Aster I visited recently in Victoria. Both used wood a lot in their decor and had lovely big windows bringing in lots of light. Aquavit’s cocktails looked amazing too, so I’m definitely going back there soon to try those..!















3 things to do · helsinki · travel

3 things to do in Helsinki, Finland

I didn’t have too much time to explore Helsinki when I last visited, but I did manage to squeeze in a few of my favourite things. Helsinki is a great place to visit for a weekend trip as it’s big enough for a lot of things to do (my boyfriend has visited three times and I still haven’t managed to show him everything I want to!) but small enough to (almost) walk everywhere.

I love it most during the summer as the weather, of course, is better, but it’s also a lot greener and a lot lighter then. However, this time I went in April, and while it was already pretty light (the sun sets later than in the UK – yay!), it wasn’t quite there yet with the greenness and the warmth.. In fact, if you read my post from last Sunday, you might remember me saying that it actually snowed. In April! Despite of the breezy weather conditions, though, I had a really lovely time and would definitely recommend doing all of the things on this list no matter what time of the year!









SPEND TIME BY THE SEA

The thing I miss the most about Finland (after my friends and family, of course!) has to be the sea. Helsinki is surrounded by the Baltic Sea, so no matter where you are in the city, you’ll never be too far from it. This means that there are lots of great places for a scenic walk, of which one of the best are probably the beautiful district of Eira and the surrounding streets of the Kaivopuisto park.

The places I mentioned above are great for a brisk walk, but if you’re not in the mood for staying out too long, you could also pay a visit to either Cafe Ursula or Cafe Carusel for a cinnamon bun and beautiful sea views.

If you prefer a bit of shopping to just walking around you could go to the Market Square which has lots of stalls selling arts and crafts as well as all sorts of local produce, depending on the season. The Market Square is right next to the sea, and it’s also where a lot of the little boats to the nearby islands of Helsinki leave, so if you’re not quite done with the sea yet, you can jump aboard one of them and keep on exploring.



ADMIRE THE VIEW FROM HOTEL TORNI

If you ask me, no city break is complete without a good view. Helsinki has a few good places you could go have a scenic drink in, but in my opinion there’s nowhere better than the lovely Ateljee Bar in Hotel Torni. This is of course best done on a sunny, clear day, but it’s a worth a visit even if the whole sky is grey like it was for us – the view is still great!

Ateljee Bar is a great choice because there’s actually two viewing platforms – one on each side of the building. There’s also tables and chairs on both sides, so if the weather is warm enough, you can bring your drinks outside and enjoy the beautiful scenery. But, even if the weather gods aren’t being kind to you, you can still grab a glass of wine in the inside bar and get the perks of the view – win win! As you can probably imagine, the prices here are pretty steep, but that’s usually to be expected in places like this. You really do also pay for the view!





TAKE IN THE ARCHITECTURE

I’m not going to ramble on about the beautiful buildings of Helsinki TOO much as I’ve already done it in this post, but I couldn’t not mention it. The biggest architecture style in Helsinki is Jugendstil, which is one style branch of the bigger Art Nouveau movement. Expect a lot of colour!

Central Helsinki is great for spotting Jugend buildings, and districts such as Ullanlinna, Punavuori and the aforementioned Eira are especially good for this. Before moving to London I’d lived in Helsinki for almost my entire life, but even still I come across new favourites every year! If you only have time to visit one place, make it the Huvilakatu street. It’s absolutely gorgeous and well worth the short stroll from the centre of the city.

food · meal planning

My guide to meal planning: The how & why

I’ve become a bit obsessed with meal planning recently. I’m a routine person, so thinking ahead on what I’m going to have for dinners and lunches for the coming week has really made a massive difference. Planning ahead also gives me a lot more free time and saves me a fair bit of money.

So, how do I do it? And more importantly – what are the benefits? I’ve broken it down into little sections below in case you’d be interested in trying it out yourself. Let’s get started!





THE WHY

Meal planning helps me save a lot of money. Because I plan everything (all the way down to the snacks!) I’m going to eat the next week, I can buy all the ingredients in one big bulk which means there’s a lot less of impulse buying. We do a big shop every Sunday and I always make sure I don’t go hungry – otherwise I know I would buy ALL the crisps and sweets and feel very regretful afterwards…

Another big reason is that if I have cooked my food beforehand, I have a lot more time in my hands in the evenings after work. I try to commit to yoga three times a week (I do Yoga with Adriene) but if I know I have to start cooking after exercising, I’m much more likely to a) cook something really unhealthy and b) not do the yoga session at all. However, if I have already prepared something, I know that immediately after I’m done with exercising I can just heat up my food and enjoy it with an episode of something on Netflix with a clear conscience. Win win!





THE HOW

Lunches and dinners: I try to do most of my batch cooking on Sundays, but as I’m cooking for two, I don’t always quite manage to make enough to last the entire week. I will however do my best to make something that will last us until the middle of week, after which I just have to cook once until it’s the weekend again. Batch cooking for me usually means making double portions of sauces I find on cookbooks and then as and when I eat them, I prepare the rice/pasta/what have you as an accompaniment.

After I’ve eaten the last of the batch I cooked on Sunday, I try to make another big one in that evening to last me until the end of the working week. My main thing is to always have something ready for when I come home from work – I get so hungry that if I had to start cooking at that point the results might be very disastrous and calorific!

Snacks: It’s super important to snack healthy too! My blood sugar goes low very easily, and when that happens and I’m super hungry, it’s easy to just make an excuse and grab a chocolate bar or something equally sugary. By planning different healthy (but still yummy!) snacks for each week, it’s easier to resist the urge and never get to that horrible “I’m shaking and I’m angry” level of hunger…

My favourite snacks are, in no particular order: berries (especially in the summer, although as these are pretty expensive they are often an ‘after pay day’ sorta treat), rough oatcakes, rice cakes, banana slices with peanut butter, nuts, dried fruits & berries (I love these), carrot sticks with hummus etc etc – the list goes on! If you’re feeling especially motivated, why not make your own flapjacks at home? You can find so many good recipes online by just doing a bit of googling.

Breakfasts: I also plan my morning meals a little, although for me there’s not much to do in this respect. I’m very much a routine girl when it comes to breakfast, and I always have the same thing during weekday mornings: porridge oats, frozen berries & peanut butter. It keeps me full for a good couple of hours and is easy to prepare in the office kitchen. For the weekend mornings I always try to think of something a bit more special, like the yogurt/nuts/berry combo I’ve got going on in the the first picture.

You don’t necessarily need to plan your breakfasts beforehand, but it’s good to know you’ve got something in your cupboards that you can whip up – you don’t want to have to run to Tesco’s first thing on a Monday morning!

THE WHAT

Basically anything that you can easily make double portions of are good – sauces, soups & stews work especially well. I thought I would end this post by sharing a few recipes that could be a good start for your batch cooking journey (sorry for just using the word journey…):

Sweet potato tomato sauce by Yours Truly – just make a double or even a triple portion


Lentil Bolognese by the Ginger Kitchen

Thai Green Curry by Cookie and Kate

DIY Burrito Bowl by Oh She Glows

Aduki Bean Casserole by Aine Carlin

Enjoy!

easter · finland

Snapshots from Finland: snow in April & Easter celebrations

This post comes to you a bit late, but better late than never, right? I overestimated myself thinking I could edit, upload and post all these pictures last Sunday whilst still on holiday, when, in reality, all I wanted to do was lay on the sofa and eat Easter sweets. So, I let myself off the hook, and postponed these pictures for a week – I’m sure you don’t mind!

I haven’t been in Finland in April in about four years and I had definitely managed to forget how cold it can still be. England had lulled me into a false sense of security that Spring had actually properly arrived everywhere in the world, but it seemed like Finland had other ideas in mind… Instead of green trees I got snow – lots of snow! – and very cold, albeit beautifully sunny, days. Having been away for so long, I couldn’t remember if that was a normal thing to happen mid-April, but everyone else seemed equally confused too so I guess it was quite extreme – even for Finland!

I also hadn’t celebrated Easter with my family for four years, and whilst it wasn’t a holiday I particularly missed celebrating, it was surprisingly nice to see all the familiar decorations and traditions come to life. I snapped a few pictures of our Easter-y house as I thought it was looking very cute – especially all those little bunnies!

















food · helsinki

Eat Helsinki: Vegan options

I went for a quick holiday to my home town Helsinki last week and managed to squeeze in quite a few restaurant visits!

All of these places serve amazing vegan and veggie options, but they are also great if you’re a meat eater or a veggie dining out with non-veggies. There’s so many different types of options in each place, which means everyone can (probably) find something that they like.

Enjoy! I’m getting hungry again just looking at all this food…





PUTTE’S

Kalevankatu 6, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

After having dinner at Putte’s last week I’m now convinced that they do the best pizza in Helsinki.

The pizzas have this amazingly thin and crispy base that stays together really well, plus a lot of innovative topping combinations such as ALL the local Finnish cheeses and North African spices mixed with pulled oats (an alternative to pulled pork!).

I went in thinking they only served one kind of vegan pizza (my favourite, the lovely marinara), but to my surprise they also had another one on their daily specials list. I’m not sure if one of their specials will always be vegan, but I do hope so because the one I ended up having was so good.

The vegan daily special (aptly named Meat is Murder) had lots of amazing toppings – the dough was topped with yummy marinara sauce, some kind of magical herb butter and nutritional yeast, and then finished off with a generous handful of rocket. The finished product was so good that I polished off the entire pizza in a matter of minutes. Please go if you get the chance!



FRIENDS & BRGRS

Mikonkatu 8, 00100 Helsinki

The fact that Friends & Brgrs had a vegan option at all was a bit of a surprise to me. It’s a small chain of slightly posher fast food restaurants serving burgers, fries and milkshakes, but before I knew better I thought it was just another dirty, meaty, McDonalds-type place. Luckily it turned out that I was pretty wrong!

I went in expecting to maybe find one vegetarian option, but, as you might have guessed already, next to the token veggie burger they also happened to do a vegan option – yay! You can also get your burger on gluten free bread, and all their meat patties are gluten free as well.

My burger came with a vegan patty, onions, rocket, tomatoes and vegan aioli. You could also add other toppings for a small surcharge starting with 50 cents – I added jalapenos which added the perfect kick to the burger.

You can order the burger on its own or as a meal with drinks and fries. I would definitely urge you to go for the meal as the fries are amazing. They are handmade, perfectly salted AND triple cooked. I’m actually dreaming of them right now!





TAMARIN

Mannerheimintie 14, 00100 Helsinki, Finland

This is the only place out of this list that I was already familiar with before. Tamarin already had a few branches around Helsinki when I lived there, and it seems to be one of the few things that haven’t changed.

The branch I always seem to go to is probably also the least “cosy” as it’s part of a shopping centre bang on in the centre of the city. This might make it a bit more noisy and chain like, but it’s also why it’s one of the best options for food if you’re on a bit of a shopping spree and need a bite to eat.

I went for, as I always do, the veggie green curry. I’ve had it before, so I knew what to expect, and I didn’t have to be disappointed this time either. It’s not the best green curry I’ve ever had, but it does the trick very nicely, and the portion is very generous too. Also, just a little heads up: in the menu the curry is marked with 3 chillies which means it should be super spicy, but I didn’t think it was that bad at all – it’s the probably made for the Nordic tastebuds!

The menu says that any dish in the menu can be had as a vegan version, but you just have to ask, as otherwise they might add fish sauce to it. This means there’s SO much to choose from, which makes this place such a great option for your mid-shopping food needs!

Have you been to Helsinki? If not, what are you waiting for?!