Friday, 29 June 2018

6 Reasons To Get Your Car Serviced This Summer

Car Servicing is so important and especially so in the Summer. Many of you will be driving long distances this Summer, maybe going on a road trip or even driving to the airport. Can you imagine the inconvenience if your car overheats or breaks down? So get the car serviced now before it's too late. Here are some reasons why you should have your car serviced this Summer.


1. Servicing doesn't have to be expensive.

Many different types of services are available, e.g full, interim and basic and it depends on the car's needs to choose a type which is right. If you have an older car and haven't had it serviced for a while, think about the full service, as you will have peace of mind knowing your car will get a thorough overhaul.  A full service will also check the air conditioning, really important on a hot summer's day.  If you have a limited budget a basic service will still cover an oil and filter change and a top up of all the key fluids.

2. It keeps you and your family safe

Check with your local garage but a full service usually covers brake pads and brake fluid, important to keep you safe, as well as safety checks on the windscreen and tyres. A company like DAT Tyres offer you to book a full car service online, which makes it convenient for you and cost less than franchised dealers. Don't forget any reputable garage will give you a good quality service, you don't have to go to the most expensive. Choose a family run business that will want to protect their reputation.


3. It prolongs the life of the car

Having a car serviced on a regular basis will help prolong its life. Having the oil and filters changed regularly will prevent major issues by stopping dirt and dust affecting the car's performance. Getting the car serviced will also prolong the engine's longevity. Checking wear and tear on the car before major issues happen will save time and money.

4. It saves you money

As I said above regular servicing will spot problems early on and prevent them from getting worse, thus saving you money in the long run. Having the oil and filter replaced improves the car's performance and makes for a more fuel-efficient car. Ensuring your tyres are properly inflated and of the right pressure will improve fuel consumption. Don't forget if your car is going to be loaded down with cases and people for a road trip, check the tyre pressures, they may need to be inflated, and this is important for safety.

5. It will keep you comfortable

Having underinflated tyres is not only dangerous but will give you a bumpy ride. Having the right pressure in your tyres will ensure your journey is comfortable. On a full service, the garage will also check the air conditioning. Ensuring this is working properly will make you feel comfortable in the car on a hot day. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a traffic jam on a summer's day in a stuffy car without air conditioning.

6. It will help with the resale value

Having a full-service history, or even a record of regular servicing will help when you sell the car. It will show you've looked after the car and you can command more money if you have a service history.





Tell me, do you have your car serviced regularly?

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Thursday, 28 June 2018

A Guide to Anniversary Gifting

Finding the perfect gift for your loved one can be a difficult task at any time. However, when it comes to selecting something to commemorate your anniversary, it becomes even more critical. If you’re entering a milestone year of your anniversary, pulling out all the stops to secure something your other half will love should be at the top of your list of priorities. Finding that special anniversary gift for him, or anniversary gift for her, will show that you care, and is the ideal little extra to top off what is sure to be an exceptional day.

When you’ve been together for a substantial amount of time, marking the occasion with a gift specially made to celebrate the number of years you’ve been together, is a beautiful way to pay homage to your relationship. Take a look at the guide below for some fantastic examples of what to get your partner-in-crime on your next anniversary!

25th Anniversary – Silver



After being together for 25 years, a timeless gift in silver is the perfect gift to give to the special person in your life. Silver is easily available and there are a number of silver pieces that would work well for this occasion. It is more than likely that your other half already has a few pieces in their collection, so take a look in their jewellery box to see the style they like. A precious antique brooch, statement silver necklace or a pair of vintage cufflinks are a great option. Selecting an antique piece shows that it has withstood the test of time and continues to shine on, much like your relationship.

30th Anniversary – Pearl




Pearls are an opulent material that oozes luxury. Timeless and classic, they are a romantic option which adds a touch of elegance to any look. One of the reasons that pearls make the perfect present is due to their uniqueness; no two pearls are the same, so you’ll know that your gift is indeed one of a kind. If you’re wondering how to mark your 30th anniversary with a pearl-inspired gift, look at innovative jewellery designs where they have been incorporated, such as in necklaces or cufflinks.

35th Anniversary – Coral





Another anniversary inspired by the sea, your 35th anniversary is traditionally marked with a gift containing coral. Over the years, coral has said to have healing powers, as well as the ability to protect from danger and illness. With this in mind, coral is protected so why not go for a coral coloured alternative just as a bracelet with coral coloured beads or the modern alternative is jade which is more environmentally friendly.

40th Anniversary – Ruby






The vibrant, red hues of the ruby stone have long been associated with feelings of love and passion. That is why, on your 40th anniversary, you can say it with love with a ruby gift. In addition to the deep red, evoking feelings of passion, the ruby has many other suggested abilities which make it the ideal present to give your loved one. Harmony, balance and success are all said to be traits of the ruby, and with a score of 9 on the Mohs hardness scale, you can wear a ruby ring knowing it's a hard stone and won't damage easily.

45th Anniversary – Sapphire





When you've reached your 45th wedding anniversary, it’s safe to say that you’ll need an extraordinary gift to show yo
ur partner how much you care. Luckily, this year is marked by the sapphire, which symbolises loyalty. Typically available in the colour blue, the gemstone can come in a myriad of other shades, meaning that you’ll definitely be able to find what you’re looking for.

50th Anniversary – Gold


Your golden anniversary is an incredible milestone, so why not celebrate 50 years of your relationship with an intricate piece of gold jewellery.  The precious metal is widely available in a variety of different jewellery styles, so finding something that fits your partner’s personality should be an easy task. Symbolic of strength, gold can reflect your relationship, making it a sentimental gift with lots of meaning behind it. You could always replace your wedding rings with new one or a gold eternity ring also makes a lovely gift.

55th Anniversary – Emerald



The glistening green of an emerald stone is one of the most mesmerising of all! Otherwise known as the “Stone of Successful Love”, it has connections with both Venus, the Goddess of Love, and the heart chakra, associating it with feelings of calm and vitality. After 55 years together, it is the ideal option as it is also said to embody unity and compassion – as well as freshness, which is important after 55 years together! As a rare stone, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for the perfect gift. Why not look for an antique piece in your favourite jeweller?

60th Anniversary – Diamond



After 60 years together, the love that you’ll have for one another is eternal. Fortunately, the diamond is the perfect way to show this, as it symbolises undying love. The word diamond originates from the word Adamus, which in Greek translates to unconquerable, much like your marriage after 60 years.


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Wednesday, 27 June 2018

Tips To Prepare For A Summer Vacation

So the Summer is nearly upon us, and before long many of you will be going on that much needed vacation. There always seems to be so many things to remember to be prepared doesn't it? So to prepare you for your summer vacation here is a checklist of things you need to do.


1. Travel Insurance

I know it may sound boring but you should get travel insurance from the minute you book your holiday to cover you for any unforeseen circumstances. When you are looking for travel insurance there are two main things to consider in my opinion - do you want basic cover for emergencies or do you want cover for everything? This will of course impact on the price.  

If you are taking part in certain sports such as jet skiing or kite surfing check that this is covered on your travel insurance too.

2. Travel Documents

Check that your passport is up-to-date. In some countries they require you to have 6 months left on your passport. If you do need to renew your passport or apply for your first passport, don't leave it to the last minute as in the busy summer months it can take weeks to get your new passport - any remaining months will be added on to your new one.

If you are travelling to Europe and are within the E.U. don't forget to apply for a EHIC which will cover you for emergency medical treatment.   

It always a good idea to take photos of all your paperwork in case you lose them, I save mine on my phone. If you are old school a photocopy will also suffice.

3. Health Care

Do you need any vaccinations for the country you are travelling to? Boots has a good vaccination checker and health advice service so you can see if you need any boosters or vaccinations before you travel. Alternatively your GP or practice nurse can advise you, and some may be free but some they will charge for.

When preparing what you need to take consider basics like painkillers, insect repellant, antiseptic cream, plastics, anti-diorrhoea medication, suncream, sunburn treatment and antihistamines. 

4. Currency

If you are travelling abroad you will need local currency, so consider the benefits of using cash, a prepaid currency card or using your credit card. I find I use a combination of all three. This article on travel currency from Money Saving Expert is useful for hints and tips. 

It is generally cheaper to order your currency in advance than pick it up at the airport or in the destination. You can order a prepaid card like the Post Office currency card or FairFx card and load money onto it before you go. This has the added benefit of getting the rate at the time of money load so if the exchange rate is strong on that day you will benefit. I use the Halifax Clarity credit card when I go abroad as it has an excellent exchange rate and it doesn't charge a foreign exchange fee.  

5. Packing

Pack for the weather in the destination you are going too.  I use Accuweather or the weather app on the iPhone to tell me the weather in the destination but as the weather can change I always try to take emergency items like a light pack-a-mac style raincoat if I have room. I also find the air-conditoning can be fierce in hot countries so I pack a cardigan or two as well. 

Check the airlines restricted items, size of hand luggage and weight of checked baggage so you comply with their requirements. If you are taking liquids in your hand luggage, current advice is containers must hold no more than 100ml, and containers must be in a single, transparent, resealable plastic bag, which holds no more than a litre and measures approximately 20cm x 20cm.

6. Technology

Don't forget travel adaptors or a universal charger. These can be picked up cheaply on Amazon, but if you forget you can always get them at the airport. Ensure your items are charged before you get to the airport. If you are going through US security they can check if your items are charged and if you have a mobile boarding pass don't forget to have your phone charged too. 

Check your data roaming package as well, as you don't want to be hit with a high phone bill on your return. My mobile provider is Three, which has the Feel At Home scheme which means you can use your phone in many European countries as well as the USA and Australia at no extra charge to you. For more details check out their website. If you do have high data roaming charges, to get around this use free Wi-Fi when available or buy a local sim.  

7. When Away

When you are away see if a relative or neighbour can check on your home, water your plants, collect the mail and any parcels to make your home look lived in.

Alternatively you could consider housesitting where someone looks after your home and your pets. We recently tried being house sitters ourselves and it's a great way of travelling the world for free. The benefits to you if you are being house sat, is that your home looks lived in, your pets are cared for and your home is looked after too. 

Before you go away cancel any deliveries  check that the windows are closed, all doors are locked, any timers are set for lights and the heating is turned off. 

8. Airport Travel 

Finally get to the airport on time. So if you live a distance away, check the driving time on Google Maps, or how to get there on public transport and book your train or bus in advance,   
If you are driving, Google Maps is brilliant as a SatNav as it will update with real time traffic advice and show you alternative routes if there are delays.

Pre-booking parking at the airport is always cheaper than not doing so. Holiday Extras have a great comparison site for airport hotels and airport parking.  We often like to stay at a airport hotel overnight to take the stress out of getting to the airport on time and to start the holiday relaxed and refreshed.

So these are my tips on how to prepare for a summer vacation. Do you have any?

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Monday, 25 June 2018

Top Things To Do In Aruba

Aruba is an island in the Caribbean just off Venezuela, that has a friendliness that can't be beaten, beautiful azure waters, a rich and diverse cuisine, and year-round sunny weather.  It's the perfect destination for first-timers to the Caribbean, a gorgeous honeymoon destination and is a special place to visit.  I recently visited as the guest of Aruba tourism, staying at the Hilton Aruba, and here is my post on the top things to do on this amazing Caribbean island.

Enjoy the beaches and watersports

Aruba has some beautiful beaches

Aruba has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. All the beaches are clean and the sand is a fine almost white, coloured powder, safe to walk barefoot. In fact, Eagle Beach has been voted the third best beach in the world by Tripadvisor travellers.


The winds make it perfect for sailing, surfing and windsurfing




If you don't want to relax on the beach, you could also consider one of the watersports for which Aruba is known. The trade winds cool the heat and give the added benefit of making perfect weather conditions for sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.  Don't forget the high factor sun cream though as it's easy to get burnt, I recommend at least a factor 30. The sea is also warm and the water crystal clear so perfect conditions for snorkelling too.

Explore the Aritok National Park


Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins

Nearly 20% of Aruba, to the north, is a national park and it a great area to get off the beaten track and go exploring. On my recent trip, I took a jeep safari by ABC Tours. We explored the north of the island, a rough and ready landscape with towering green cacti, jaw-dropping limestone cliffs, the historic Bushiribana Gold Mill Ruins and the beauty of the 'Conchi' Natural Pool.


The Natural Pool can only be accessed by a 4 wheel drive vehicle, horseback or on foot due to the rough terrain but it's worth the journey to get there. The locals know it as 'Conchi' which means bowl, and it's a beautiful swimming hole, just be careful of the slippery rocks you have to cross to get there. 

Admire the street art in San Nicolas 
San Nicolas street art

Sint Nicolaas or San Nicolas is a town on the south-east of the island and was home to an oil refinery which closed in 2012. To attract more people to the area, street art has been encouraged and each year more murals cover old shops and buildings. I thought it was the best street art I have ever seen, some of it even looks three-dimensional and it is a great reason to visit this town.


So colourful and vibran

Cosecha San Nicolas is also worth a visit if you are in the area. Here you can find artwork and crafts by local artisans such as jewellery, paintings and ceramics. If you want to support the local artists, buy something, even if it is small as the money goes to the talented craftspeople.

Make your own jewellery at Terrafuse


Terrafuse has a Trip Advisor certificate of excellence 

Terrafuse Aruba is a non-profit organisation that promotes the art of glass making, ceramics crafting and bronze sculptures in Aruba. Marian and Ciro Abath, have many years of experience as artists and they run workshops from their home for people from beginners to more experienced artists. I participated in the glass making workshop during my stay and found it fascinating. 

I made these glass beads at Terrafuse!

Marian taught us how to manipulate glass in the simplest terms, how to make glass beads by building up the layers and how to heat the beads to the correct temperature to shape them.   Safety is taken seriously as the glass melts at 1300 F/700 C, and you need to wear goggles. After making tiny seed beads (the most difficult step in the workshop!) you make several bigger beads with different designs.  Marian was very patient with me which I think is the mark of an excellent teacher and I was amazed at the result - a beautiful leather bracelet with individual glass beads.

Find out about the uses of Aloe Vera

Aruba Aloe is worth visiting for the small museum and tour

When you are in Aruba take a visit to Aruba Aloe. Aruba Aloe make products from Aloe Vera, a succulent (like a cactus), known for its caring and healing properties, and it is especially good for sunburn, skin care and stomach problems. At the small factory, you can take a short 15-minute tour, find out about the properties of this fantastic plant, read about Aloe Vera in the museum and then buy products in the gift shop too. 

Aloe Vera has many health properties

It was interesting to find out that the juice of the unprocessed plant smells like onions and that unless it is treated, it has a laxative effect! All products here are, of course, treated and made of the finest quality. I can particularly recommend the sun cream which has a lovely subtle coconut smell and feels very nourishing on the skin.

Admire the architecture

Alto Vista Chapel

Aruba has some interesting architecture, from buildings with a colourful Caribbean vibe to architecture that reminds you of Aruba's Dutch influence.  One building worth visiting if you are in the north of the island is the Alto Vista Chapel. The island's first Roman Catholic church was built in 1750 and reconstructed in 1953. A small, winding road dotted with cacti leads to the chapel – the white crosses on the road mark the way. Inside it's simply decorated, the altar and small lighted candles being of significance. 



The California Lighthouse is also worth a stop if you are doing a tour of the north of the island.
The lighthouse was named after the S.S. California - which sunk previous to its construction in 1910. For a small charge, you can walk to the top and see the amazing views. Also, there are refreshments stands and a cafe in front of the lighthouse. I had some amazing fresh coconut milk here, the vendor just cut off the top of a coconut, gave me a straw and let me drink the sweet and refreshing milk. The perfect drink on a hot day. 

Eat the local food


Fresh fish at Westdeck

Ah Aruba, I fell in love with your delicious fresh seafood and fish! The most common fish found includes mahi-mahi, red snapper and grouper, and the shrimps are outstanding in Aruba, so large and juicy. Also try the local hot papaya sauce, which tastes amazing with fresh fish.


Balashi the local beer

If you want to try a traditional Aruba cocktail, I recommend the Aruba Ariba, a mix of vodka, rum and fruit juices. The local beer which is called Balashi is very light and refreshing and in my opinion, tastes a little like Kronenburg lager. 

Keshi Yana at Papiamento

For a taste of traditional Arubian cuisine, try the Keshi Yana a spicy mix of chicken, peppers, capers, olives and tomatoes, baked with a shell or topping of Gouda cheese. Why Gouda you may ask? Well Aruba is part of the Kingdom Of The Netherlands and its citizens are Dutch nationals, so it's only right that the traditional Dutch cheese Gouda, be incorporated into one of its dishes. I tried Keshi Yana at Papiamento and it's an incredibly tasty dish but very filling, so have it only if you are hungry.  


Elements restaurant

Other restaurants to recommend include Elements for the best beachside location, Caribbean music played on kettle drums and high end beautifully presented food and Pelican Nest, a laid-back beach shack place, think fish tacos, conch fritter, chicken sandwiches and pan-fried mahi-mahi. 

Take in the famous Caribbean sunset


Sunset dining at Elements

Lastly, take in the famous Caribbean sunset on this beautiful island. You can't miss it, just look out of your hotel window, or take a stroll on the beach. I saw the best sunset at Elements restaurant. Eating delicious seafood outside with the warm orange glow of the sun makes an unforgettable experience. My only disappointment is that I didn't have my husband with me to share. 


Hilton Aruba view from my room

Aruba is such a vibrant and amazing destination for a holiday. I hope you get the chance to visit one day.


Hilton Aruba room

I stayed at the Hilton Aruba Caribbean Resort and Casino, a luxury hotel, right on Palm Beach. With a spa, casino, kids club, beautiful pools and plenty of places to eat and drink, it's a great place to stay and highly recommended.



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Here is a video I created for the travel blog and YouTube channel I have with my husband, Fly Drive Explore.


For more information to plan your holiday in Aruba, visit the Aruba Tourism Website or follow them on Facebook and Twitter or follow the hashtag #OneHappyIsland on social media.

Have you been to Aruba? What activities would appeal to you?

*I was a guest of the Aruba tourist board. Natural pool courtesy of Anna from Don't Cramp My Style

Suitcases and Sandcastles
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Thursday, 21 June 2018

Ways To Celebrate The Anniversary Of Grease

The film Grease is 40 years old this year. I saw the most successful film musical of all time when I was just 7 years old.  The romantic comedy, the story of Danny Zucko and Sandy Olsson both high school sweethearts, captured my imagination.  In those days you could stay in the cinema and sit through the film again and I made my mum and dad do this, I loved the film so much.



Fast forward to the next day, and with my mum's Carmen heated rollers I curled my hair, put her lipstick on, pulled on my jeans and I was Sandy after her transformation from prim and proper to a siren that captured Danny's heart. Oh, those were innocent days!

The film appealed to boys and girls alike. The boys loved Danny's character and the T-Bird gang, who were rogues but pretty useless really and the girls loved Sandy's innocence and the love story between the two main characters. The album also had so many number 1's it was unreal, such as You're The One That I Want, Sandy, Hopelessly Devoted To You and who can't forget Grease Lighting!

So if you love the film as much as me, here are some ways to celebrate the 40th anniversary. Enjoy!

See a theatre production

Every classic film has had a theatre prod
uction made at some point. Grease is no different so why not celebrate this milestone birthday and go and see the fantastic theatre production at Clifton College with your friends? It is bound to be a great afternoon or night out! I love visiting the theatre and it is even better when it is based on a film or book I thoroughly enjoyed - it makes it all the more exciting, knowing I can sing along or follow the story along easily.

Have a karaoke session with friends and family



Most people would be lying if they said that they didn’t know at least one song from the iconic film. Even someone who claims to dislike the film will find themselves humming or singing along to at least one of the tracks. Why not have a karaoke session and belt out those classic tunes? Which tune is your favourite?

Get all dressed up

Every girl wants to dress up as Sandy at the end of the film - and who wouldn’t want to dress up as pretty but prim plain old Sandra Dee at the beginning? Or perhaps they want to dress up as one of the Pink Ladies? Men and boys alike would love to be like Danny Zuko or the T-Birds, put on your black drainpipes, grease back your hair and sling on a black leather jacket to complete the look. 

Have a Grease-themed party

There are so many fab ideas for a themed party that you would be foolish not to give it a try! 50’s decor is definitely needed once you’ve decided what film setting you want to use first. Have some blonde wigs hanging around for that rendition of 'Look At Me, I’m Sandra Dee', that everyone simply must join with! Perhaps you could even have a dance competition - see who pulls off the best Grease moves. Remember the dance competition or the boys in the garage showing their Grease Lighting moves?

Make it a 70’s movie night

Finally one of the best ways to enjoy Grease is to watch it - perhaps for the first time, the third time or even the hundredth time. Why not grab some drinks and some popcorn and chill out with Grease and some other classic movies from the decade like The Godfather or The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and enjoy spending time with those closest to you. You’re bound to belt out those iconic songs and have a fun singalong together, all whilst chilling out on your sofa!

Are you doing anything special for Grease’s 40th birthday? I’d love to hear all about your plans!

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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Gut Soothing Smoothie For IBS With Indigo Herbs

I don't know about you but sometimes I don't really want to eat in the morning, so that's when a delicious smoothie comes in.  Smoothies are a nutritious way to get hydrated and depending on how much fruit and vegetables you can pack in, they also help towards your 5 a day. 



If you have digestive problems or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) then smoothies are an excellent way to get a boost of nutrition as the plant fibre is broken down making it easier for you to digest.  Here is a way of making the perfect gut soothing smoothie if you have digestive problems or IBS.

1. Pick your milk alternative

A base of a milk that is gentle on the stomach is good for a gut soothing smoothie. If you are lactose intolerant try almond milk, it contains none of the lactose of cows milk. Coconut milk is also an alternative base. If you enjoy soya milk you could also try that, although some people will find that they can't tolerate soya milk.



2. Add your favourite fruit or vegetables 

Next try some of your favourite fruit and vegetables but choose low FODMAP ones. 

A low FODMAP diet has been shown to help control the symptoms of IBS so the key to putting together a gut soothing smoothie is using low FODMAP foods.  Bananas make a great smoothie base, are full of fibre and potassium (which is essential to regulate blood pressure and for the nervous system) and are considered low FODMAP. 



Some berries could be added like strawberries or raspberries which are also low FODMAP too and add some vitamin C. Pineapple, kiwi or honeydew melon are low FODMAP and so is lime. Add a dash of lime for that sharpness and to add some citrus and vitamin C goodness. 

If you want to take it up a gear, adds some leafy green vegetables into your smoothie.  Kale, cabbage, baby spinach and swiss chard are high in iron and are low FODMAP too. If you mix these vegetables with fruit it can still taste sweet, just don't overdo it on the veg.

3. Add a nut butter



Nut butters are full of healthy fats and are high in protein so are a great addition to your smoothie.  Avoid cashew butter which is high FODMAP but instead try peanut butter or almond butter in your smoothie. All nut butters are high in protein which helps build and repair tissues and helps you to stay fuller longer.

4. Add your extras

Extras like aloe vera, live yoghurts or seeds can all add different health benefits.

Aloe Vera




Aloe Vera is a plant that has been used for its health and healing benefits for many years and anecdotal evidence suggest it may help with stomach and digestive problems. Aloe Vera powder like that made by Indigo Herbs can be taken in small amounts internally and is rich with antioxidants. Antioxidants are substances that protect your cells from free radicals and are thought to help in the fight against cancer. Always read the instructions on the packet to how much you can consume daily.

Live Yoghurt




There are many benefits of live yoghurt, especially for the digestion. Live yoghurt is full of probiotics. The live active bacteria cultures containing bacteria like Lactobacillus acidophilus helps break down the lactose making it easier to digest. It's also high in protein, calcium and vitamin D. 


Smoothie recipe

So taking all this into consideration, here is my simple recipe for a gut soothing smoothie.



Ingredients

1 banana
1/4 fresh pineapple
450 ml of almond milk
1 tablespoon of peanut or almond butter
75ml live yoghurt
2 teaspoons Indigo Nutrition aloe vera powder
2 teaspoons maple syrup to taste (optional)

Serves 2

Method

1. Prepare the pineapple by removing the outer skin and cut into chunks.



2. Chop up the banana.

3. Add all the ingredients to the blender.



4. Blend until smooth. 

You can sweeten with maple syrup if need be which is low FODMAP.

Enjoy!

Let me know - what smoothies do you enjoy? 
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Monday, 18 June 2018

The Marriott Rotterdam Hotel Review

Rotterdam is one of those underrated cities we love to discover on our travels. With some amazing architecture, like the famous 'cube houses', interesting street art, a fabulous food market and lots of great restaurants, its a cool city in the Netherlands that is well worth checking out. So when we heard that Traverse, the conference for travel bloggers was in Rotterdam we were looking forward to visiting.


The Marriott Rotterdam kindly offered Mr W and I a stay if we reported back to our readers, so here is my review.

The Marriott Rotterdam is well located literally opposite Rotterdam's central train station. It's also easy to get to if you are flying into Amsterdam, as it's a short 25-minute train journey from Amsterdam's Schiphol airport.


The foyer was modern, chic and impressive. The staff at reception were friendly and efficient and before long we were checked in. Our room wasn't ready however as we were early, but as we had an executive room we could make use of the new M Club lounge.



The M Club lounge offers complimentary snacks and drinks 24 hours a day. This includes fruit, biscuits and snacks all day, breakfast in the morning and an evening selection of food with wine and beer complimentary.





We sat and relaxed over a cup of coffee and ate some really delicious biscuits watching the world go by. It's the simple things like this can make a hotel stay feel special and although you do pay for access to a club room in the price of an executive room we always feel it's worth it for the calm, quiet, and access to snacks and drinks.


Before long our room was ready, and a member of the reception staff came to tell us it was.



The room was on the third floor and was very modern and spacious. The left a welcome note with a balloon and sweets in the room which was a nice touch. 

Mutated tones of grey and beige added a calm feel to the room, and one wall was covered in a silver effect wallpaper which gave it a luxurious feel. It was gorgeous and the photos really don't do the room justice I'm afraid!


A chair and desk were next to the window and also a chaise longue with a table. The window had a great view of Rotterdam central train station. What a cute cushion.


You could just sit with a glass of wine in your hand and people watch from the window. 


The bathroom was well appointed. Complimentary toiletries consisted of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion. The marble bathroom had a bath and a shower cubical. Robes and slippers were provided and were made of a soft cotton material, none of this scratchy cotton you get in some hotels.


Complimentary water was provided and also stroopwaffles, a local sweet and incredibly delicious waffle snack full of a thick syrup.


A fridge was full of snacks and drinks to buy, but at hotel minibar prices.

After we sorted out our clothes, we had a wander around the hotel. The hotel has a gym which is open 24/7 and had a good selection of equipment for a hotel gym, with free weights, treadmills, rowing machines and more. It also had changing rooms and showers.





That afternoon I attended a food photography workshop in the hotel as part of the travel blogging conference Traverse. It was really cool as I had a preview of the menu from the hotel's new restaurant opening in the Summer - The Millèn.

The Michelin star chef Wim Severein will be behind this restaurant and if the preview food I ate at the food photography workshop run by 2 Food Trippers is anything to go by, it will be fantastic. Chef Severein is obviously trying to get a Michelin star with this new restaurant so it will be amazing to see the buzz this restaurant will cause when it opens.



Menu

Starter:
Low temperature cooked farm egg yolk (63’C), Dublin Bay prawn, oyster, broad beans, kombu dashi, chives and potato chips

Wine:
Champagne; Roger Manceaux, Cuvee de Reserve, Brut Premier Cru

Main course:
Roasted red mullet, tomato, green olive, samphire, fennel, Cantabrian anchovy, basil

Wine:
2013 Més Que Paraules, Pla de Bages, D.O. Catalunya (Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Picapoll Blanc)

Dessert:
Raspberry, Pavlova, dark chocolate ganache, rose petals

Wine:
Muscat, Chambers Rosewood, Rutherglen, Australia




As you can see the food was exceptional and all presented like a work of art. My favourite was the mouthwatering chocolate and raspberry dessert, which looked so pretty too. 

The next morning we went to the main breakfast room for breakfast. Breakfast can be taken in either the club lounge or main breakfast restaurant again with a superb view over Rotterdam.



The 'elevated' breakfast consisted of a hot and cold buffet, containing a range of cold meats and cheeses, smoked salmon, cereals, pastries, yoghurts and fresh fruit, as well as hot options. 






I thought the choice of granola was inspired, and something you don't see every day. I loved the chocolate, hazelnut and linseed granola especially. 



There was a wide choice of jam, in different flavour combinations and this is something you don't see very often either.


The hot options included bacon, sausages, scrambled eggs and fried potatoes as well as a made to order section. There were omelettes and pancakes made to order as well as Eggs Benedict. I tried both the light as a feather omelette and the scrumptious pancakes with bacon and maple syrup and both were equally delicious. 



Staff were polite and helpful and service was very good, although the more experienced staff were obvious as they led and supervised the other restaurant staff seamlessly, watching everything and stepping in to help when needed.  One of the head waiters even remembered my order of soya milk from the day before and as if by magic it appeared along with my tea.



What a great view from the breakfast room. 

Every day we used the club lounge. Well with complimentary snacks and drinks 24 hours a day and complimentary wine, beer and appetizers served from 5.30pm to 9.30pm it would have been rude not to! The food in the evening included hot dishes such as chicken wings and beef burger sliders and cold dishes such as beef cheek and couscous and carrot cake. 




Everything was tasty and scrumptious!

We also tried out the Pillars restaurant on the ground floor during our stay. 


The menu I would describe as refined International cuisine and contained dishes such as poached cod, lemon sole and lamb shank. I ordered from the set menu and Mr W tried some dishes from the A La Carte menu



My scallops were seared and not overcooked, just like I like them. The bacon adding a crispy salty flavour - delicious!

The fresh tomato Pomodoro soup was excellent, and not too creamy, instead, creme fraiche rather than cream was used to add a little luxury. It tasted fresh and light.


My black Angus steak was really good and served pink. It was seasoned well and served with hollandaise sauce,  boiled potatoes and asparagus.  I have come to the conclusion I am not a fan of hollandaise sauce in general but there was absolutely nothing wrong with the dish, I just would have preferred a sauce or rich jus to go with it.



Mr W ordered the duck which was served pink with apple cider sauce and caramelised tangerines on a potato puree. He enjoyed this and as he generally doesn't order duck so that is a big thumbs up from him. It was similar to duck in orange sauce.


I asked if I could order a dessert from the normal menu and they were happy to oblige, so I ordered the Key Lime Pie. Now I have had Key Lime Pie in the home of Key Lime Pie - Key West, so this dessert had a lot to live up to. It was a good dessert, the pastry was crisp, the filling had a great sharpness and the meringue on top was sweet, soft and indulgent. The sorbet served with it was mint, which may not be to everyone's taste, and I would have preferred a dollop of cream with it, but I am just being picky.



The cheese selection was served on a wood platter and accompanied by thick toasted bread instead of crackers. Mr W seemed to enjoy it. 

I thought the food at Pillars was well prepared, cooked well and presented beautifully. The atmosphere was relaxed and it wasn't stuffy which is always a good point.



Every night in the executive room we had a turndown service, and came back to something delicious in our room like beer and nuts or gin and tonic! Every day we also had stroopwaffles and complimentary bottled water in our room. It's these touches that may the hotel stand out from other luxury hotels in the area. I hate it when you go to a hotel and have to pay for bottled water.

Check out the video of the hotel that Mr W made for our YouTube channel and travel blog www.flydriveexplore.com



We really enjoyed our time at the Marriott Rotterdam. The hotel is a great luxury choice in the centre of Rotterdam. The rooms are modern and well appointed and the staff well trained and welcoming. I personally feel that it's worth paying extra for an executive room or suite with M Club access as the complimentary snacks and alcoholic drinks every night definitley saved us a fortune. The hotel also has a Trip Advisor Traveller's Choice award for 2018 so lots of customers think it's a great hotel too. Thanks to the Marriott Rotterdam for hosting us!


Would you stay here on a visit to Rotterdam? What do you think of the view, the decor and the food? Let me know!

Rotterdam Marriott Hotel
Weena 686,
Rotterdam 3012
CN Netherlands
+31104302000
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