Wednesday, 25 February 2015

The Upbeat Blogger Protein Challenge

When I was asked to take part in the Upbeat Protein Challenge I was very interested. I am always looking for ways to improve my diet and thought this sounded interesting. It's a well known fact that protein fills you up and sustains your appetite, so I was looking forward to this challenge a lot.

 Yummy flavours - strawberry, blueberry and raspberry and mango

Upbeat is a protein rich drink with half the sugar of a fruit smoothie, no fat and less than 150 calories a bottle. The idea with the protein challenge was to have a protein rich diet supplemented with the drinks for moments when you would feel like a snack or you in a rush to supplement your diet.



What are the benefits of a protein rich diet?

We all need protein in our diets. Our bodies do not store protein and therefore it is best to spread our protein intake out throughout the day. Protein is not just for athletes and body builders, it builds healthy muscles and bones and keeps skin and hair looking healthy as well as boosting the immune system. 

A protein based drink is easy to store and carry around for those times of the day when you would be tempted by something unhealthy.  Each bottle of Upbeat contains 20g of protein and a decent amount of calcium, all coming from milk and whey in particular. This amount of protein is as much as a chicken breast or 4 eggs.

The Food

The selection of food they sent to me to try with the protein drinks, was very healthy and rich in low fat meat, pulses, grains and dairy. Foods included turkey mince, chicken breast, eggs, natural yogurt, couscous, pumpkin seeds, lentils and so on. I did wonder where the cake was though ...



I was sent a hamper full of high protein foods

My Food Diary

I must admit I am a bit of a carb addict. Usually for breakfast everyday I would have toast, occasionally cereal like porridge or bran flakes. I have been known to skip breakfast but try not to do that any more.




healthy protein foods

Breakfast

Porridge with blueberries, banana, pumpkin seeds and yogurt x 2
Egg sandwich on wholemeal bread
Ham omelette and salad
Blueberry and raspberry Upbeat protein drink
Toast and jam
Special K with soya milk

Comments

I had the Upbeat drink as I wasn't feeling too well as I had toothache, and it was easy to drink and digest. The porridge recipe I followed included blueberries, nuts and pumpkin seeds, topped off with natural yogurt for the extra protein, and a little sugar for some sweetness. It was really delicious and it kept me full until lunchtime. The omelette was also very satisfying and surprisingly the drink was too. After eating toast for breakfast I was noticeably hungrier than having a high protein breakfast, and the Special K didn't really fill me up.

Lunch

Beans on toast, tangerine
Feta cheese salad with cherry tomatoes
Eggy bread, tangerine
Toasted cheese sandwich on brown bread x 2
Ham and tomato sandwich, a banana
Beefburger and chips

Comments

I could have eaten better. All my lunches included protein but I could have included more salad and fruit with my lunch and the toasted cheese sandwich is high in fat although it did fill me up. The lunches were tasty and mostly filled me up except for the ham sandwich which was with white bread and I still felt hungry after. I went out to Cardiff for lunch one day and as I don't eat red meat very often so I succumbed to burger and chips.

Dinner

Turkey meatballs in fresh tomato sauce with spaghetti,
Chicken and spinach balti with basmati rice
Chicken pie, peas and oven chips
Spaghetti bolognese, small slice of lemon cheesecake
Chicken and mushrooms and egg fried rice
Vegetable lasagne with couscous and garlic bread 
Beans on toast

I made these dishes except the chicken pie and chicken and mushrooms which was from a takeaway. I find making the chicken and spinach balti at home in the slow cooker makes it healthier, with much less fat. I hadn't made this version of the lasagne before - I made the white sauce from creme fraiche and cheddar cheese but it was delicious and really tasty. The lemon cheesecake recipe I made I with goats cheese, goat's yogurt and eggs, so it was high in protein and it did fill me up.



High protein porridge (I like it thick!) , vegetable lasagne, turkey meatballs 

Snacks

Apple
Strawberry Upbeat protein drink
Banana, 1/2 piece of cake
Crisps
Blueberry and raspberry Upbeat protein drink, almonds and pumpkin seeds
Blueberry and raspberry Upbeat protein drink, tangerine
Mango Upbeat protein drink


Snacking can be my downfall. Often I end up having biscuits, crisps or cake so this week I made a conscious effort to eat more protein based foods and food that are full of nutrients.  Snacks this week took the form of almonds, bananas and apples as well as the Upbeat drink.  I wasn't always perfect though as I did have crisps once and also cake. Drinks this week included tea with soya milk, cappuccino with soya milk, orange juice and water.




The Drink

The Upbeat protein drink comes in different flavours - blueberry and raspberry, strawberry and mango and passion fruit. The drinks are made with real fruit and milk and are high in whey protein. My favourite of all the flavours was the blueberry and raspberry, it is similar to a milky smoothie and has a really delicious flavour, it is like having a bit of extra willpower in a bottle. I did feel quite virtuous turning to the drink rather than having a slice of cake or packet of crisps, and I can honestly say I felt fuller having this drink than many snacks not high in protein.


my favourite flavour

It was interesting writing a dairy of my food intake and how I felt after. This week I did feel a bit low as I had a tooth infection and it is so easy to get a takeaway when you feel like this. I often reward myself with food and need to break this habit. 

I need to incorporate more fruit and vegetables into my diet, perhaps having a salad based lunch two or three times a week and fruit with breakfast would help. We don't had red meat, fish or seafood very often in our house as my husband doesn't like them.  I think I need to look at incorporating a fish dish a couple of times a week for the omega 3 oils which is good for the heart as well as the protein content. I was sent frozen salmon in my hamper and I am waiting for the chance to have this when my husband goes away on business in the near future. 

I am also waiting to use the quinoa which I know is very good for me, as it is high in protein and vitamins, but as I have never cooked before I need to find a recipe for it. To be honest I didn't feel like the Upbeat drink everyday as I do like to vary my diet, and I have two left so will have these this week. I think they are a good standby by to have in the fridge, perfect to have before exercising, or instead of reaching for the high fat, low nutrition snacks.

You can find Upbeat protein drinks chilling in the fridges at selected Tescos, Sainsburys, Waitrose and Holland and Barrett as well as many more supermarkets.

Thanks to Upbeat for challenging me to include more protein in my diet. The drinks are nutritious, filling and convenient and although I cannot promise to give up my crisps and cake I will be happy to buy this on occasion to add a boost to my diet.

Monday, 23 February 2015

A Better Quality Of Life In 3 Easy Steps

In truth, living better is really not so hard – it just means taking the time to make small improvements here and there in your lifestyle. Here are three very simple steps you can take to put some zest back in your day. 

Declutter


Credit Brett Jordan - Flickr Creative Commons Licence 

One of the reasons modern life can sometimes feel so disorientating is the sheer amount of stuff we now accumulate. Take a look around your house and you’re sure to find piles of old toys, clothes, magazines and lord knows what else piling up. All this stuff can really encroach on your living space and make you feel a little claustrophobic.

The answer: make and stick to a strict decluttering code. Make deadlines for how long you are prepared to allow things stay unused in your house, from last month’s magazines, to the outfits you no longer wear. Believe us, once you kick some of the old tat to the kerb, you’ll instantly feel yourself breathing a little easier.

Lose the cigarettes



Credit Marius Mellebye - Flickr Creative Commons Licence 

These days, people are quitting smoking in record numbers for many reasons. One of them is the smoking bans that have been brought in across the world over the last decade. Another is the now unarguable scientific fact that smoking is extremely bad for your health. If you’re still a smoker, the best thing you could do to improve your life quality would be to hurl those ciggies in the bin.

If you just can’t bring yourself to give them up, then why not try an e-cigarette? Vaping has become extremely popular over the last three years, is more cost effective than traditional smoking, is legal in public places and is healthier.

Quit stressing


Credit Shawn Rossi - Flickr Creative Commons Licence

No matter how many times we hear ‘Don’t sweat the small stuff’, it’s amazing how little we take it to heart. Less stress equals a happier life – there is simply no two ways about it. If you are having trouble with stress, there are some easy things you can do to relax. 

One is a breathing technique call the 4-7-8. You inhale through your nose for a count of four, then hold until seven before exhaling on eight. It’s great for clearing your mind when things are getting on top of you upstairs.

A better quality of life can be yours with just a few small adjustments to your day. Try out some of these simple tips and see if they boost things for you.

* This is a guest post

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Goat's Milk Products - Tasty, Nutritious and Healthy

St Helen's Farm, based in East Yorkshire,  have been producing a range of goat's milk and goat's milk products for not far off 30 years. They began their family run business when they realised that goat's milk could often be tolerated by those who cannot drink cow's milk. The company went from strength to strength and moved to a new site in the early 90's where they expanded into making butter, cream and yogurts.





Today they supply their goat's milk products to supermarkets around the country. What is special about St Helen's Farm beside the quality of the products is the focus on good animal welfare.  The goats are kept on straw in large barns with plenty of light and air and are encouraged to roam around.
This is a company that really care about their animals.




I have to say I do enjoy goat's cheese when I go out for a meal but I don't buy it. The best starter at my local pub is goat's cheese and figs with a balsamic reduction and salad leaves. It is a really delicious starter and the sweetness of the figs mix well with the goat's cheese. So when St Helen's Farm sent me a selection of goat's milk products to review I was interested in trying them.


The Products
I was sent a wide selection of products to try from goat's cheese spread, milk and butter to a selection of yogurt. If you have tried goat's cheese you will know that it is a mild cheese with a distinctive tangy taste and I was expecting the rest of the goat's milk products to taste the same, but they don't.

Firstly the butter and the milk taste very similar to butter and milk from cows. I particularly liked the butter, it had a pleasant salty flavour and comparable to the best butter I have tried. I normally have soya milk at home and I now prefer the taste to sheep's milk, there was nothing wrong with the goat's milk but I still prefer soya. In my opinion you would not be able to tell the difference comparing goats milk and goats butter to cows milk and cows butter.

The yogurts I tried were tasty and moreish. I really enjoyed the yogurt with honey. I think it does have a slight aftertaste like a very mild goat's cheese. The yogurts were thick and creamy and felt indulgent. The yogurts are 'live' yogurts with four different cultures to help maintain a healthy digestive system and at just over 160 calories a pot I would certainly buy them again.


The spreadable goat's cheese was very nice, - a mild cheese spread I think children in particular would like. I tried it in a sandwich with cherry tomatoes and basil and really enjoyed it.

The last products to try were the goat's cheese. The mild goat's cheese was very tasty, and the mature goat's cheese had a more pronounced stronger flavour. Both were delicious.

The Health Benefits
There are a number of health benefits from goat's milk and there are many reasons to consider goat's milk products over cows milk products.

Firstly if you are diagnosed by a doctor with an intolerance to cows milk you should avoid goats milk. However for everyone else, goats milk has less of the protein Alpha S1-Casin than cows milk so it is easier on the stomach and is often tolerated more easily. 

It has easily digestible fats and proteins and is lower in lactose that cows milk. Also it is high in calcium and oligosaccharides which act as prebiotics in the gut.

A Recipe
I decided to try out the goat's cheese in a recipe from their website, which I have adapted slightly, and I made this lovely lemon cheesecake below.


Lemon Baked Cheesecake




Serves 8

Ingredients

200g digestive biscuits
50g St Helen's Farm goats' butter melted
300g St Helen's Farm goats yogurt
100g St Helen's Farm goats' cheese, finely grated
2 teaspoons lemon zest, finely grated
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 teaspoons vanilla essence
150g caster sugar
4 large free range eggs

8 in spring loaded cake tin

Method

Preheat oven to 190 degrees C or Gas Mark 5.
In a food bag place 200g of digestive biscuits, close seal and bash with a rolling pin until crumbs. Alternatively whizz up in a food processor.
Put biscuits crumbs in a bowl and add the melted butter.
Press into the cake tin evenly.
Pop into the oven for 10 minutes.
When base is cooking place the grated goats cheese, lemon zest, lemon juice, and vanilla into a bowl and beat until smooth. 
Add sugar slowly and beat until well mixed and creamy. 
Add the goats' yogurt and the eggs one at a time and mix well.
Remove base from oven and turn down to 160 degrees C or Gas Mark 3.
Pour the batter into a prepared cake tin and bake for 40-50 minutes until the edges look set and centre is soft.
Remove from oven and cool.
Refrigerate for 2-3 hours before serving.
Serve with strawberry coulis and pouring cream. 

Enjoy! 

Let me know, have you ever tried goats cheese or milk? Would this review persuade you to try other products in this range?

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Win A Meal For 2 With Wine At The Old Market Tavern In Cardiff - Ends 13/03/15

Recently I reviewed a meal at The Old Market Tavern in Cardiff. On the site of the former O'Neills pub, next to Cardiff Market, the place has had a total overhaul and is traditional but still has modern touches and is appealing to both men and women.

Since it's opening in December last year, the place has gone from strength to strength building it's reputation as the place to go for real ales, and great pub classics with an up-to-date modern twist.



We enjoyed the roast Sunday dinner and my son loved his burger which was massive and excellent quality. We followed this up with a vanilla cheesecake with a berry compote which was delicious.  

Well priced and good quality food





The pub, one from the Nicholson pub brand, is also renowned for its real ales and has a large selection on draft.

The Interior





In my opinion, it would be a great place to take your mum on Mother's Day or dad on Father's Day. It's the sort of pub that appeals to all, with tasty pies, to delicious burgers, fresh salads to awesome desserts.

Today on my blog I have a chance to win a meal for 2 with a bottle of wine at The Old Market Tavern.

To enter then complete the steps on the Rafflecopter application below. 

Why don't you pop over to the website and let me know what food you would order if you would be so lucky to win. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions
My giveaway is open to those 18 + living in the UK only.
Winner picked at random via Rafflecopter
Please allow 28 days for delivery
No automated entries
One entry per person
Giveaway ends midnight on 13/03/15


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Friday, 20 February 2015

Mother's Day Flowers From Debenhams

Flowers are always a lovely gift, they show someone you really care, and that is why flowers are a traditional gift for Mothers Day. How do you pick what flowers to give? Many of us pick the flowers based on colour or personal preference yet there are also meanings to the flowers we pick for our mum on Mother's Day.




The Raspberry Delight Bouquet

Carnations are a popular choice and pink ones signify gratitude and red admiration. Sunflowers signal adoration and respect, whilst orchids represent love refinement and beauty. Roses are very popular, yellow signifies devotion, mid pink grace and dark pink gratitude. Orchids symbolises love, refinement and beauty and violets faithfulness and devotion.

Personally I love a bright bouquet of flowers in bright pinks, reds and yellows as beautiful colours cheer me up. Roses, sunflowers and gerberas are some of my favourite flowers too, so I was spoilt for choice when Debenhams kindly asked me to choose a bouquet of flowers for Mother's Day to review.

Flower delivery with Debenhams Flowers is next day if you order by 4pm and they guarantee the flowers to be fresh for 7 days. This is extremely important to me as there is nothing more disappointing than a bouquet of flowers that drops within a couple of days.

The selection of Mothers Day flowers from Debenhams is super and varied, from subtle hues of pale pinks and cream to bright vibrant flowers. I chose the Raspberry Delight bouquet, a cheerful mix of roses, carnations and germini in reds, vivid pinks and cream. The flowers also arrived with a dinky box of Guylian chocolates which I felt was a lovely touch.



Well packed flowers with care instructions attached

When the flowers arrived they were well packed in a box and delivered to my doorstep by Royal Mail. As I opened the box I was impressed in how well looked after they appeared, they were packed and tied together, just as how you would present a bunch of flowers, and the quality was very good. None of the flowers has damaged petals or leaves and they arrived mostly in full bloom, and a couple of the roses in bud.

With the flowers came care instructions and flower food attached. The care instructions were simple and easy to understand. You are advised to trim the stems by 2-3cm and remove any leaves below the waterline. You add the sachet of flower food to water and arrange the flowers as required. Other advice on making the flowers last longer was also provided.



Just looking at these flowers made me happy!

I loved this bunch of flowers as they were bright and cheerful, just looking at them made me happy! I felt the bright pinks and reds mixed well with the white carnations. The lasted well and were still looking great on the 7th day. 

I would recommend Debenhams Flowers as I feel the quality is good and although not the cheapest the price is good value for what you get. With next day delivery and the guarantee that they would last 7 days, I would definitely order from them again in the future.





If you would like to order some flowers for Mother's Day Debenhams Flowers is kindly giving my readers a 25% discount off a bouquet. Enter code DFBLOG25 at checkout to receive your generous discount * 'Flowers By Post' range exempt.

Tell me, do you like the flowers I have picked? What are your favourite flowers? 

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Choosing The Right Bathroom Cabinet

I do like things to be just right. Granted my house needs a little tender loving care in places, I need a new kitchen, I need new carpets and our computer room needs to be redecorated but I was lucky enough to get together enough money for a new bathroom at the end of last year. It was completed on a tight budget, modern bathroom fixtures and fittings, white walls and black and grey tiles.

There are some finishing touches we still need to complete and one of those is to buy a bathroom cabinet. Now you may think this is a simple process but it can be more complicated than you think. There are many websites offering a range of bathroom cabinets and there are many features you have to take into consideration.

Style

A sleek modern cabinet with illumination

Firstly you need to think of the style, and if it will it fit in with your modern or traditional styled bathroom. A modern cabinet with clean lines will fit in with a sleek modern bathroom. A traditional bathroom cabinet may be white washed whilst if you like intricate and ornate design a french style cabinet will be suitable.

Space

A corner cabinet is useful if you are tight on space

If you have a limited space then the size of the cabinet needs to be taken into consideration, for example a corner cabinet or a tall cabinet is a good idea as they can fit into a tight area. Tall bathroom cabinets make a small bathroom look taller as the eye is drawn up to the ceiling.

Mirrors

Many cabinets are mirrored so they are dual function - providing storage and a mirror in one. These are usually placed above a sink so men and women can attend to their cosmetic and beauty needs. I know my husband likes a mirrored cabinet so he can keep his shaving products inside and then use the mirror to shave. Some mirrored cabinets have a magnifying mirror for close up detail.

Having a mirrored surface in a bathroom can create the illusion of space. This is a great idea in a small bathroom especially.

Illumination


A cabinet with built in lights is great for low lighting conditions

Some mirrored cabinets have lights attached above or integrated into the cabinet. This can provide subtle lighting, for example if you are relaxing in a bath at the end of a hard day. Illumination is great for putting on your makeup or shaving in low light conditions, and is better for close up detail than a general bathroom light.

Lock-ability


A lockable cabinet is useful if you have young children around

If you have children or just want to keep items like medicines and razors safe and secure being able to lock the cabinet can be extremely useful and is especially recommended for families. A soft closing feature also helps to avoid trapped fingers.

Mist Free

A mirrored cabinet that is mist free is a useful feature. Just think how great it would be to be able to get out of the bath or shower and have a mist free mirrored cabinet to do your hair or makeup.


These are some of the features I have been considering when buying a new cabinet. Let me know what features you think are useful when picking the right one.

* A sponsored post, all words and opinions are my own

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Easy Slow Cooker Chicken And Spinach Balti

This low fat chicken balti has the added goodness of spinach added too. Very simple and easy to make without the added oil you get in Indian restaurants, this has become a firm family favourite.




Serves 3-4

Ingredients

3 or 4 chicken breasts diced or you can use thighs
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1/2 of a 283g jar of Pataks Balti Spice Paste
200g of chopped tomatoes
1/2 red pepper
1/2 yellow pepper
200ml hot chicken stock
1/2 bag of fresh spinach or you can use 6-8 small blocks of frozen
tablespoon tomato puree (optional)
chopped coriander to serve

Method

Fry the garlic and Balti spice paste in a little oil for a minute or two.
Add chicken, peppers, chicken stock and tomato puree if using.
Bring to a simmer then transfer to a slow cooker.
Add the spinach.
Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
When cooked stir in chopped coriander and serve with rice and nan bread.




Friday, 13 February 2015

No Man Is A Failure That Has Friends

Relationships can be a tricky business. In our busy world, we can often neglect those that are nearest and dearest to us.

As Valentines day approaches I feel it is a time to reflect on our other relationships in life as well as those with our other halves. 

Time to reflect on our love and relationships with family and friends, as well as those people whom we come into contact with more on a less regular basis but who have a huge impact on our lives. Time perhaps to make new friendships too.


Here are some tips on building and strengthening current relationships and making new bonds.

Focus On Building A Connection




Credit lightwavemedia Shutterstock

Making an emotional connection and sharing experiences in common helps to make and build bonds. This can also be a way of making new friends too.

If you haven't seen your parents for a while why don't you make plans to meet them for dinner, or make time to catch up with your friends for that coffee in your local cafe? The teenage years can be tricky, but it's worth finding interests in common with your teenage kids. What about making the time to go bowling or to the cinema with them, or have a movie night at home where they choose the films and snacks?

If you are looking to take up a new hobby or interest, consider adult education classes, or online groups with the same interest to make new friendships. As James Stewart says in the film "It's A Wonderful Life", remember no man is a failure that has friends.

Be Yourself

It's fine not to like everyone all the time but if you are yourself then your friends and loved ones will love you for who you are and they should love you unconditionally if they are a true friend. Don't put on a front and try to be someone else, that's not being true to yourself. 

Remember we are all the same but very different too. Celebrate those differences by showing an interest in what they do that is different to you. If they go to dance classes, ask them about it or even join them. If they take up a new sport go and watch them play. 

Don't Judge Others
This can be a difficult one but don't be the person who criticises everything as this can be so destructive. Remember we are all human and we all have flaws. 

Judging others can bring negativity into this world. It is so much nicer to be accepting of people. Nobody is perfect. As my husband's grandmother used to say, " Think nice thoughts !".

Be Nice

Research has shown that being nice can make you more successful at work.  I would also argue that being nice makes you more successful at home too in your personal relationships. 

Doing something nice for someone, whether that is making them a cup of tea, buying them an unexpected gift or giving them a compliment makes them feel good and in turn you feel good too. Everyone is happier all round. 

Pay It Forward



Credit Lucky Business Shutterstock

When you are in a coffee shop, pay an extra couple of pounds for the next person in the queue to have a free drink on you. Buy a Big Issue and tell the vendor to keep the change. 

Treat your partner when it's unexpected, such as bringing them breakfast in bed or buying your child a little treat now and again. They will love you for it. Be nice to people and they will be nice to you.

Tell me, do you have any tips to strengthen friendships and build family bonds? Have you ever "paid it forward"?


* post in collaboration with The Circle, all words are my own. 

Thursday, 12 February 2015

Win £50 Of Vouchers With InnTravel And Carluccios - Ends 28/02

Today in conjunction with Inntravel, the slow holiday people, I am giving you a chance to win £50 of vouchers for Carluccios on my blog. I love Italy, it is such a beautiful and romantic place. If you love Italy like me, pop over to read my blog post about Italy here and then enter my giveaway below.





a Rafflecopter giveaway

Terms and Conditions
My giveaway is open to those 18 + living in the UK only.
Winner picked at random via Rafflecopter
Please allow 28 days for delivery
No automated entries
One entry per person
Giveaway ends midnight on 28/02/15

Win competitions at ThePrizeFinder.com - See more at: http://www.theprizefinder.com/content/%C2%A350-vouchers-carluccios#sthash.jWMsdpFo.dpuf

An Italian Romance

Italy is such a beautiful country, full of stunning lakes and picturesque mountains. It's one of those countries that captures your heart and your soul. Once visited, it is a country ever forgotten.

My first trip to Italy was to Venice years ago. It was the first trip I took abroad with my husband. We had only been together a few months. Venice is a busy place in the day, full of hustle and bustle, however at night it is different. After a busy day sightseeing we went back to our hotel, which was situated on a canal not far from St Mark's Square. 


 Credit  Shutterstock

As we finished getting ready to go out for dinner, we went to the little balcony outside. It started raining heavily but we were sheltered in our little cove. All the locals and tourists ran inside, leaving the streets empty. Venice in the rain is so lovely, and as we looked out we felt we were the only couple in the world. We fell in love there and then.

A few years later we visited a little town called Limone in Lake Garda. We were immediately taken by the scenic beauty of the azure lakes and the lush green mountains. An unforgettable place for a walking holiday, we explored the area with great enthusiasm. 



Credit Inntravel


One night we took a little boat out onto one of the lakes. As we sipped Prosecco, we watched as fireworks above exploded into the sky and the sound ricocheted around the mountains. Another romantic moment in memorable Italy.

My last trip to Italy was last year when I visited Rome with my husband. Rome is full of tourists, yes it's obvious I know, but you can still find a quiet moment in a little cafe. We found a very stylish bar one night and sat with Bellinis in hand chatting about what we would see in this historic city. The wonders of the Colluseum, the majesty that is the Vatican and the beauty of the Trevi fountain were captured by my camera. Our love for Italy was cemented even further.



Photo my own

Italy is a country to be savoured and adored. To be explored slowly, delightfully, in awe and amazement and, as always, at your own place. 

If you visit, take the time to chat to the locals, drink the wine, and eat the delicious cuisine, whether that's a simple pizza or more elaborate pasta or meat dish. Take the time to sit in a little square and watch the world go by with a cup of Italian coffee. Immerse yourself in the rich culture and history, and when you have had enough, visit those little boutiques and buy yourself a stylish treat.  Take the time to hire a bike and explore the countryside or go on a walking holiday into the mountains. Take the time to fall in love... with Italy. 

This Valentine's day we will be recreating the romance of Venice at home. My husband will cook his infamous Spaghetti Carbonara, we will be eating the best Italian chocolates and drinking the sparkliest Prosecco and dreaming, dreaming of our return to Italy in the near future. I've always wanted to go to stunning Sorrento and visit historic Pompeii so this is next on my wish list.

Inntravel the slow holiday people love Italy as much as I do. Their company is based on the ethos of holidays that delight and inspire you. Holidays that are enjoyed at a slow pace of life. Holidays that immerse you in the culture. Holidays that create lasting memories. 

Inntravel are giving my readers today the chance to win some vouchers for a delicious Italian meal at Carluccios. If you would like to enter then pop over to my competition here.

Tell me have you ever been to Italy or would like to go? Do you like Italian food? Have you ever had a romantic holiday in Italy?