The start of an adventure

I had always dreamed of running away to somewhere distant, somewhere far, somewhere new. Throughout my 25 years on this earth, I have been lucky enough to have explored much of Europe – the cobbled streets of Belgium, the clear, blue sea of Croatia and architecture of Spain to name a few. I had stepped into Northern Africa and searched the Aladdin’s cave of Marrakesh and more recently witnessed the sandy, long beaches and incredible wildlife of Sri Lanka. These holidays and experiences had been beautiful and I wished they had lasted longer. So why not make them last longer?

I decided to quit my job as a Senior Editorial Assistant and leave my lovely home in London. I moved my belongings back to my parents in Wales and set off on my quest for something new.

It was a scary but exciting time and luckily for me I had a good friend who would be joining me on my quest. The first step was choosing where to go. As we both had an interest in South East Asia, we decided to focus on this area and narrowed the destination down to one of the following: Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia or Indonesia. Each country is spectacular in its own right and we did not want to rush through them. After lots of reading, advice and research, we decided to choose Vietnam. We would explore the country from north to south, stopping off at several carefully selected cities along the way.

Whilst in Vietnam I kept a travel diary which I plan to write out in a series of blog posts. I will talk about where we went, how much we spent and highlights of the trip. I hope that my words will encourage you to visit this beautiful country and help you plan your adventure.


Being ill sucks

Today I have been bed bound because I have caught some monstrous illness, spread by a the heinous creatures of London’s public transport. I have been coughing and spluttering and can barely breathe out of my nose. I have a throbbing headache that is similar to that of two screaming toddlers, each with a drum stick, bashing my brain from either side so it wobbles and shakes. Normal sound filters have gone out the window so every slam, every creak, every voice screams into my ears and makes me want to cry.

Okay, maybe that was a bit melodramatic but I do feel pretty dreadful. I think the main thing that gets me when I feel like this is what exactly do I eat? Surely this is the perfect excuse to go to the shop and buy anything I want because I feel terrible and this is exactly what I deserve, right? So on Sunday evening I popped off to Coop and purchased Doritos, Peperamis, pork scratching’s and a chicken and mushroom pot noodle. I just want to say here that I am bemused, confused and deeply ashamed at the decisions I made that evening. I am going to blame this illness and my delirious state of mind. I actually had no idea what was going on and am not responsible for the unforgivable actions that occurred.

So today I decided to eat food that would make me feel better. To give me some strength to get to the shop,  I had some toast, an orange and a banana. I then headed into Crouch End to pick up some veg and protein. Now, for those of you that don’t live in Crouch End (which let’s be honest, is pretty much all of you ha!) there are some amazing fruit and vegetable shops! They sell fresh, local, organic produce at a great price and without all that useless packaging which is doing nothing for our environment (I’ll save that rant for another post ;)) I bought a fistful of plum tomatoes (still on the vine!), some sugar snap peas, red onion, garlic, sweet potatoes, spinach and half a dozen happy, free range eggs (which will undoubtedly be used to make poached eggs.. see previous post). I then went to Coop, Tesco and Waitrose and bought some chicken, yoghurt, cornflakes, pesto and wholemeal pasta (I don’t know why I’m listing my whole shopping list to you – I’m still ill. I’m going to blame it on the illness.)

Anywho, I got home, had a bit of a rest because walking and going to various shops really does take it out of you when you are ill. I then decided to tackle tea (or dinner, whatever).

Now this meal and recipe is pretty simple, superbly tasty and will most likely be going down in Izzee history as my go to what to eat when I’m ill and trying to get better.

Chicken and Vegi Pesto Pasta Make Izzee Feel Good

Ingredients to serve 2: 2x chicken breasts, pesto, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, spinach, smidgen of oil, seasoning, Parmasan

So.. to start, get a baking tray form your cupboard. This can be any baking tray, doesn’t need to be your favourite one. Line it with tin foil and place the chicken breasts on top. Bathe them in a smidgen of oil and then season. I normally like to use salt, pepper, chilli and piri piri chicken seasoning – extra spice! Then put them in the oven for about 20 minutes.

Next! Boil your kettle and fill your favourite saucepan with hot water. This is the pan where the magic will happen so it is important that you use your top pan for this part. Whilst your pasta is cooking, chop up your tomatoes and sugar snap peas. Feel free to add other fruit and veg to the mix – the more the merrier!

Once your pasta is cooked, drain it and put it back into your saucepan. Then add the pesto. Personally, I like using green basil pesto because it is so dreamy. Add the fruit and vegetables and mix well. Then your chicken should be ready! Take it out of the oven and move the breasts onto a chopping board. Cut the chicken into bite size chunks and then add them to the heavenly mix. Season with salt and pepper (and maybe a bit more chilli).

Serve in a beautiful dish with a handful of spinach and a sprinkling of Parmasan.

And there you have it – Chicken and Vegi Pesto Pasta Make Izzee Feel Good

It really worked too. It was simple and easy to make (which is what you need when you feel like your head is about to explode) and really tasty! And to top it off, I have a portion for tea tomorrow too.





Poach me outside

Anyone who knows me (or has me as a contact on Snapchat) will know that I have a slight, very minor, hardly noticeable, almost minuscule, maybe not even worth mentioning obsession with cooking poached eggs. (I mean, everyone has an album dedicated to poached eggs on their phone, right?)

And not just any poached eggs, no; the perfect poached eggs. “What is the sorcery?!” I hear you ask as you try to make sense of this unfathomable talent. “Is she a witch?” I see you ponder as you look into your saucepan full of white froth and grey balls; the murky waters reflect a face full of dismay and disappointment.

Now it would be a lie if I were to say that this talent was innate. I mean the overall concept of poached eggs is pretty bizarre. An egg is cracked into a pan full of boiling water, undergoes the process of metamorphosis and comes out solid and edible – now how bow dah?

Legends foretell that vinegar helps prevent the whites from dispersing into the water which, according to science may be true. Ancient prophets advise that if you create a whirlpool in the water with a wooden spoon, the egg will stay as one. Well my children, whatever myths and stories you may have heard on the grape vine, let them stop here. Throw that vinegar away and cease creating vortex’s in the water. The secret to making the perfect poached eggs is much simpler than that.

Firstly, go into your cupboard and take out your favourite pan. If you don’t have a favourite pan, either promote one of your pans to favourite pan status or go to a shop and purchase a pan that will now be your favourite pan. I can not stress how important it is that you have a favourite pan. Fill your kettle with water and click the button to start the boiling process. Once the water has boiled, pour the water into your favourite pan and place it on top of the stove. Light the hob and watch as your water bubbles away.

Izzee’s top tip #1: At this point, if you are serving your poached eggs with toast, pop your bread in the toaster. The trick is to time the cracking of the egg and the toasting of the bread at the same time. When the bread is toasted, buttered and avocado’d to satisfaction, your perfect poached eggs should be ready.

Now, your water is bubbling, it’s boiling, it is quite literally going mental in your favourite pan. Turn the heat down so it is still bubbling but it is not quite as mental. Grab your happy, free range egg from the box and tap it on the side of your favourite pan lightly, then slightly harder so it cracks. Let the egg fall into the water and watch the magic in all of it’s glory. Turn the heat down further to the lowest heat so the water is just simmering. It should not be going mental now.

And wait. After about a minute your egg should be taking shape. If you can see the white of the egg solidifying around the beautiful yellow yolk then you are doing it right. After another half a minute to a minute, get your spoon and give your egg a little stroke. Nurture your egg. Check how he’s getting on. Sometimes it helps asking but don’t expect a reply every time. Your toast should be ready now so get it buttered and avocado’d and get ready to scoop your poached egg out of the water.

With your spoon in your preferred hand, slowly dip it into the water and slide it underneath the egg. Pull the egg out from under the water and gently cradle it from side to side to get rid of the excess water. Place the poached egg on your toast and season with salt and pepper. I sometimes like to add salmon but I feel that this can sometimes draw attention away from your perfect poached eggs. A poached egg should never feel inadequate.

And there we have it guys. It could not be any more simple. Tuck into your perfect, stress free, poached eggs and enjoy every second!

The grey man on the train

A poem inspired by a rather grey man in the Southern Trains. 

A grey man sits opposite me on the train.
He looks old and tired; tired from a lack of sleep due to his persistent chesty cough.
Tired of life.
His wife tells him every morning without fail to go to the doctors:
“You’ve had that cough for months!”
But the grey man pushes aside her nags, muttering to himself:
“All they’ll do is write me a prescription for more than we can afford or tell me to hang in there.”

The grey man looks like he’s on his way to work:
Briefcase bursting at the locks; a wrinkled shirt buttoned to the top under his thick, winter coat.
He looks like he should be back in bed, stretching himself awake from a good night sleep.
Note: his throat feels warm and at ease with the absence of that pesky, persistent chesty cough.
He stretches out for the cup of tea his dear wife made him just minutes before.
Little Alfie comes bounding into the bedroom, yapping through the cosy bubble of solace with this mornings post and newspaper.

The grey man starts to work on his pride and joy: the garden.
The plants need to be moved inside the greenhouse so they don’t die in the autumnal freeze.
Gloves on, patchwork scarf wrapped tight around his neck and over his mouth.
He gets to work, filling the wheelbarrow and transporting the plants to their new home.
“Super time!” His wife calls from the kitchen window.
He sighs and smiles to himself at the thought of home made chicken soup and bread.
He takes off his gloves and makes his way into the warm arms of his home.

That would be the life; the dream.
But instead the grey man sits on the train this morning;
His head tilted into the nape of his neck;
His wonky glasses balancing precariously on the end of his nose as he has a little snooze.
His hands clasped around a hard back book: Winter Care for Plants.

My first blog post

It’s Friday afternoon, we are on the cusp of the weekend – in 1 hour and 23 minutes, to be precise – computers will be logged off, desks will be abandoned and we will descend into the lift and out of the building, feeling a sense of elation until the working week starts again…

This rather cold and wet (slightly snowy, but not really because we are in London after all) Friday afternoon has been dragging. Work is quiet and the menial tasks left are not worth starting and should certainly be saved until Monday’s tackle.

This lead me to thinking maybe I should start a blog.. and I don’t mean start a blog and post something and then never come back to it again… (believe me, I think I have about 10 or so blogs set up on various sites with just the one post – I’m an expert at that).

I guess the reason I haven’t quite got into blogging is because I’ve never really had a solid reason/subject matter to start a blog on. And instead of writing about this, I have left the reasoning and thinking in a knotted jumble in my head – this is my attempt of slowly undoing those knots and letting the ribbons flow.

I live in London. I like London. I also like the countryside. I love the countryside! I also have a deep desire to explore every inch of the world and beyond it. Beaches, festivals, love, music, dancing, soul, swing, the sea..

I will be writing posts about all the great things you can do in London and afar and hope to inspire you to get out an explore. I will be writing about the trials and tribulations of London life, the bliss of the countryside, adventures into the unknown. And there may be the odd poem or story…

Who knows what you may find!

Follow me if you wish to be inspired (or to just live vicariously through me..)