Fairytales tea

When I received this beautiful fairytales tea set for my birthday I knew immediately that I wanted to write a post about it. With so many fairytale, princess and book loving bloggers on my social media feeds, I really hope this post inspires a few presents - even, or, actually, especially, if it's a treat to yourself!





As the box specifies, these herbal, caffeine-free teas are "for small teacups" - perfect if you have a little one who likes throwing tea parties. I, of course, have never let a product being aimed at children put me off, cooing over the beautiful designs on the tins, and inhaling the soft, fruity scents of the tea.

The set comes with Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella tea, each with flavours inspired by the fairytale behind the tea. As well as boasting delicate blends of flavours, the tins are so pretty - much too lovely to be tucked away in a cupboard, I'm sure you'll agree!





The Cinderella tea is a blend of honeybush, apples, rosehips, cinnamon, pumpkin, cornflowers and marigold. I should start by saying the teas are very mild in flavour - probably best for younger palates, or for those new to herbal teas - so the pumpkin flavour of Cinderella is very gentle, with a surprising sweetness. If you prefer a stronger brew, I'd recommend simply leaving your tea bag to stew for a little longer than usual. 

I didn't expect the inside of the tins to be decorated so this was a lovely unexpected touch! For any girly girls, a tea which comes with a glass slipper on the packaging is pretty perfect.































From a quick look on the Adagio Teas website, I'd guess the Sleeping Beauty tea is the most popular from the Fairytales range. This tea is a mixture of honeybush, chamomile, rosehips, marigold, apples, peach, cream and rose. I think rose is the main flavour but is soft and creamy without being overpoweringly floral. 

Have you spotted the sweet descriptions on the back of the tins yet? Three cheers for fun copywriting! Oh, and while the tin says this is ideal for waking Sleeping Beauty, I think a cup in the evening is a perfect way to relax before bed.






























This pink sparkly tin is possibly my favourite - highlighting why I'm the perfect recipient for a set of princess teas. The apple flavour is the weakest of the bunch so I do recommend stewing for longer than you usually would to maximise the flavour. 

If you're not used to drinking herbal teas then I think these mild flavours will be perfect to introduce you to the world of tea outside of English breakfast! I used to despise herbal teas - insisting they tasted like lemsip, the only other fruity hot drink I'd tried - but, after much persevering, I'm now a complete convert. Now I've developed a taste, the incredible selection of flavours is quite addictive: my cupboards at home and desk at work are overflowing with different boxes to choose from! I've set these aside for the evenings though - perfect for relaxing with, I recommend a cup before bed or sipping on one while wrapped up in a blanket with a good book (it doesn't have to be Brothers Grimm).

If you like tea but not fairytales, Adagio Teas have more wonderful gift sets to choose from, including a tree house set and teas inspired by the Zodiac

Now, who's for a cuppa?

Spring in Berlin

I turned 26 last Sunday and the day after Sam and I hopped on a flight to Berlin. I took a lot of photographs, so I've split my post up into a city guide arranged by topic, which I also hope anyone interested in visiting the city will find helpful.

Sightseeing




When I first visited Berlin five years ago, most of my trip was spent visiting parts of the city dedicated to World War II, the Holocaust and the Cold War. Because of this, I didn't plan to visit similar places this time, but in the end I couldn't resist visiting the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and the East Side Gallery again. 

There are also so many other memorials and pieces of art dedicated to the victims of the Holocaust and the Cold War dotted around the city, so it's impossible to visit Berlin without learning more about these terrible events. While most people will have studied this period of history in school, it doesn't compare to visiting these historical sites and feeling overwhelmed by the palpability that these aren't statistics and answers to exam questions, but millions of human beings who suffered and died at the hands of an ideological regime being imposed on them.

The plaque in the last photograph shows where the Berlin Wall used to divide East and West Berlin: this marker runs throughout the entire city and reminds you (even when you're simply going out for drinks or popping to the shops) when you're stepping over from one part of the city to another. 
































As well as reminders of 20th century history, Berlin is chock full of wonderful architecture and monuments from earlier periods in Germany. We visited the Gendarmenmarkt (a beautiful town square which is home to the Berlin concert hall and French and German cathedrals), the awe-inspiring Berlin Cathedral and the Berlin Victory Column. I laughed when Sam said it was 285 steps to the top - after a dizzying (and slightly terrifying) climb up the narrow spiral staircase, turns out he wasn't joking.

We also visited the Brandenburg Gate, which I think is a must-do when you're in Berlin, but prepare for a sea of selfie sticks!





























If you fancy doing something a bit different, there's always the option of hiring a East German-made Trabant car for a whizz (or, more accurately, a judder) around Berlin. These tiny cars were so badly made, and are so difficult to drive, that the fun of the tour seems to be surviving your allocated time slot intact. Not for the faint hearted.

For a less nail-biting experience, look out for the old fashioned photo booths which are dotted around the city. It's only €2 for a strip of four black and white photographs - a wonderful keepsake from your time in Berlin. We took a few different strips across our days there and, word of warning, the booth will start taking photographs the second you drop your euros in, so be prepared!

Berlin Zoo
































We spent an entire day at Berlin Zoo, so I definitely recommend visiting if you're ever in the city! It's enormous, beautiful (the zoo was opened in 1844 and many of the animals are housed in wonderful old buildings, such as the Antelope and Giraffe House) and stuffed full of many, many different animals. 

With 1,500 different species, the zoo does actually represent the most comprehensive collection of species in the world, so of course my favourite part was the petting zoo, home to such exotic creatures as sheep, goats and donkeys... As we were visiting in spring, the petting zoo was full of baby animals, which meant I obviously had to buy a handful of pellets to feed the adorable baby goats. Special credit goes to the goat in the last photograph though, who don't need no human to get his fill of pellets.

Monkey Bar































If you visit the zoo, then you have to visit the Monkey Bar after. This bar is on the top floor of the nearby 25 Hours Hotel Bikini Berlin and offers panoramic views of Berlin. We sat on the side of the bar which meant we could look directly out across the zoo. The top photograph is the view from the female toilets - quite a spectacular scene to take in while you're washing your hands! The bar specialises in rum cocktails but there's a full bar to choose from and the adjacent Neni restaurant means you can order modern-Israeli snacks to nibble on while you soak in your surroundings.

Food





Speaking of food, obviously we had to track down vegetarian currywurst (vegetarian sausages smothered in tomato ketchup, vinegar and a few different types of curry powder) while we were there and it did not disappoint: Sam had barely finished his portion before he was lamenting that there isn't a currywurst stand back in Glasgow! Currywurst is sold everywhere in Berlin so you won't have to look far if you fancy trying it. 

As big burger lovers, we also wanted to try Burgermeister, a much talked about burger stand tucked away under a U-Bahn bridge. We opted for the tofu burgers topped with a mango curry sauce and they were definitely worth the walk out to Kreuzberg. 

If you have a sweet tooth, get your hands on some Lindt while you're in Germany - I don't know why, but they have frog kings rather than teddy bears, which are adorable as well as delicious. The doughnuts and pastry are from a tiny, traditional German bakery (so tiny I now can't find any trace of it online) which we found down a side street - if you fancy some baking, I'd recommend the traditional recipes over the Dunkin' Doughnuts which have popped up in the tourist areas. We also tried Berliners, which are traditional German doughnuts filled with jam and covered in sugar. They were make-sex-noises-while-eating good.


That's a little peek inside our trip to Berlin, but if you're considering a visit and have any questions, please don't hesitate to get in touch. It's a wonderful city - truly unlike anywhere else I've ever visited - and I highly recommend it as a city break destination.

Growing older, in TV quotes

I turned 26 years old today. I was okay about it until my aunt exclaimed 'Oh my goodness - that's only four years until the big 3-0!'. When I was younger (those were the days), I thought of my birthday as one day (or, when I was a little older, one night): how I was going to celebrate; who I was going to celebrate with; what we would have to eat and drink; what presents I was secretly hoping to receive. Now birthdays seem to have so much more significance than simply one date on the calendar. Is this honestly where I saw myself at 26? Have I achieved everything I wanted to by now? Am I on the right career path? Do I live in the right city? Don't even get me started on weddings and babies.

Heck. I think I might be in the middle of a quarter-life crisis.

For now I am ignoring these niggling questions, instead turning my focus to my beautiful Cinderella birthday cake (oh how I love having a baker for a friend) and flying to Berlin in the morning. My quarter-life crisis can wait - there's a beautiful city to be explored (and vegetarian currywurst to be eaten).

I'll leave you with a few of my favourite quotes from TV about getting older. I'm trying to seem okay with this whole growing-older-malarkey but inside I'm secretly Joey. 


'Why, God, why?! We had a deal. Let the others grow old, not me!'


'I like getting older. I feel like I'm finally ageing into my personality.'


'I used to be "with it", but then they changed what "it" was. Now what I'm with isn't "it" and what "it" is seems weird and scary to me and it'll happen to you too.'


'You know what? We're not sad, we're not sad, we're just not 21 any more. You know? I'm 29 years old, damnit! And I want to sit in a comfortable chair and watch television and go to bed at a reasonable hour!'


'Whatever happened to aging gracefully?'

'It got old.'

Feel Good Friday #16

I realised I haven't posted a doggy themed Feel Good Friday in a while and I was worried my animal crazy crown was slipping. Here is a short and sweet post to remind you all I'm absolutely barking mad (ho ho) for furry feel good stories. 

When a Scottish man was climbing Ben Vane with his pet bulldog, Jax, earlier this week, he slipped on fresh snow and had to be airlifted to hospital. Despite the best efforts of the Arrochar Mountain Rescue Team, who searched the area after his owner fell, Jax couldn't be found and had to be left behind.

Distraught, Jax's other owner, Ashley Tolmie, searched the munro herself, but still couldn't find Jax, despite paw prints being spotted in the snow near where he was last seen.

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Ashley posted a plea on Facebook for people in the area to look for poor Jax - a post which was later shared more than 25,000 times. Two of the people who read the post were Chris Miles and Alex Slipchuk, members of the Lomond Mountaineering Club. Two days after the accident, Chris and Alex set off up the munro in search of Jax.

After several hours, Chris said 'It was then I saw him on a ledge like a meerkat - just staring down towards me. The rain was lashing my face so I wasn't sure if I was seeing things correctly... I made a lasso from the end of the rope I had and after several attempts I managed to get it over his head. I pulled it tight and almost instantly his tail went up and he came to me. I think he knew he was safe and I was going to take him down. Alex had joined me by this point and we got him down from the steepest bit and gave him all the food we had.'

Owner Ashley took Jax to the vet, who, despite a couple of sore bits from his harness rubbing, is fine. He has been, says Ashley, 'well fed, watered and cuddled.'

When asked if he would do it again, hero Chris said 'I would do it again for anyone. The world is a bleaker place without dogs.'

Seven reasons why a Disney holiday will ruin your life

Did you know that Disneyland Paris turned 23 yesterday? The last time I visited was for the 20th birthday celebrations and it feels like so long ago now! I've been to Disneyland Paris several times, from childhood through to a few years ago, and it's always been such a magical holiday. I then achieved a lifelong dream last year by going to Walt Disney World in Orlando for Halloween - it was my favourite holiday ever and a definite bucket list moment!

But if you're thinking about going to a Disney park on holiday, then I have to say don't do it! If you do, you will definitely live to regret it. Here are just some of the reasons why a Disney holiday will ruin your life as soon as you come home:





The Disney hangover

I stepped off the plane from Orlando six months ago and I still don't feel like I have recovered properly. I'll occasionally get a sudden flashback to standing in line for a ride, or watching a parade on Main Street, U.S.A or watching a fireworks show light up the night sky, and I'll feel a pang to go back. I've been to other cities and wanted to visit again, but there is nothing which compares to the ache of wanting to go back to a Disney park. Have you ever noticed that people seem to go on Disney holidays over and over? There's a reason for that.



The distinct lack of parades

It seemed like you were never far from a parade at Walt Disney World. I knew to expect a couple a day but occasionally the streets would clear and suddenly an unexpected parade would come singing, dancing and flame throwing down Main Street, U.S.A. I visited over Halloween so there was also Mickey's Boo-To-You Parade on the special nights where Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party was being held in the Magic Kingdom. I think we could all do with a parade or two to break up our days a bit: I swear I wouldn't experience an afternoon slump if I could take a quick break to watch a 26 foot tall Malificent in dragon form cruise past my office.
































Food is so boring at home

After spending a fortnight eating desserts themed from different Disney films, and Mickey shaped everything, regular food is so dull. I mean, yes, I would be the size of a house if I kept eating like I did in Orlando, but I still miss my breakfast, lunch and dinner having Mickey Mouse ears.



You can't hang out with your friends 

Cinderella won't glide past your table while you eat dinner; you're no longer a guest at Beast's Castle (by the way, "the grey stuff" is delicious!); and Mickey Mouse won't prepare you a buffet (always go straight for the desserts). I might be twenty five but it was still cheesy good fun meeting all of my favourite Disney characters (although a slight risk to your ego getting your photograph taken next to all of the beautiful Disney princesses!).


The everyday is so mundane

If you nip into the pub for a cold one, there probably isn't a statue of Gaston outside (or a real life, flexing his muscles, Gaston nearby). The building decorated with pretty Tangled lanterns is a public restroom - because of course Walt Disney World even has beautiful toilets.





Vitamin D deficiency

I've been so lucky with the weather for my Disney holidays: the sky was blue and the sun was shining in Paris and Orlando. Even though I know it's only a coincidence, I can't help but love somewhere where I haven't seen a single drop of rain. Oh, how I miss wearing shorts and t-shirts all day and all night!






















































Your outfits are so ordinary 

I have so few opportunities to channel Minnie Mouse in my day to day life now. I can't wait to swap my pencil skirts and shirts for polka dots and Minnie Mouse ears again. While it might ruin your life, I'm already saving for Walt Disney World 2016 (oh, and, yes, I guess you could say the addiction is also a bit of a problem...).


Have you ever been on a Disney holiday? Do you recognise any of these 'drawbacks'?


All photographs are from my October 2014 holiday to Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

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