April has been an insanely busy month for me, with a massive birthday celebration at Centre Parcs for a friend, plus a holiday to Manchester, a visit to London with my parents, and ongoing kitchen renovation. It’s been stressful but fun!
Look out for an upcoming post on Pinkster gin – I’ll share this super simple but utterly delicious raspberry gin cocktail recipe that’s going to be on my must-make list all summer long!
Right now the cherry blossoms are in full swing across the country and I’ve been enjoying watching the petals fall. I love the tradition in Japan of cherry-blossom watching parties, where they arrange a blanket under the trees in the park to eat and drink and celebrate with friends, family and workmates.
My Centre Parcs visit was so much fun – there were so many amazing activities, but my favourite was field archery! We walked through the forest shooting at rubber animal targets, and I actually did pretty decently with my score!
We visited the Longleat park and because I’d literally travelled straight from Manchester (on a 9 hour coach trip with no wi-fi – thanks National Express!), I had no opportunity to bring my own, so I had to hire a bike for the weekend. My own bike is a hybrid so it was fun to cycle on a mountain bike – but it showed up how terribly unfit I am!
We also visited the spa in the final afternoon – first Pimm’s, then three hours of relaxing in hot steam rooms filled with gorgeous scents… bliss!
On departure day, we headed to Longleat Safari ParkLongleat Safari Park – it was incredible! You get up so close to the animals, and there are an amazing array of different exhibits too. My favourite was the river boat cruise where we got to see sea lions, hippopotami and gorillas (including the joint oldest male gorilla in the world, who I saw when I was a little girl many years ago!).
Of course, the meerkats are always a favourite, and you could walk right through their pen where they ran backwards and forward across the pathways to dig industriously in the sand.
I can’t even remember the huge number of animals we saw, but other highlights for me were the penguins, the butterfly house, and the bat cave, where the bats flew centimetres away from our heads to feast on apples and bananas hanging from branches inside the dark enclosure. Adorable!
One thing I didn’t get to see was the house, but we literally ran out of time! Considering we got there very close to opening and left right as it closed, I’m impressed at how much there is to do. If you get a chance, you should definitely visit!
I also had a blast in Manchester the week before, visiting the Coronation Street set and meeting some of the actors, plus heading out a few of the filming locations as well. If you’d like to know more about that, you can download the podcast I co-host with my husband, which is called Conversation Street!
One of those places is Ryecroft Hall, where we had a decent afternoon tea for £3.50 each – I’ve paid more for a cup of tea in some places in London!
We also visited CAU in MediaCity for a restaurant review, so look out for that, coming soon on the blog!
Another fantastic place I visited was Troia, a Mediterranean restaurant located near Westminster Bridge in London. The owner was kind enough to offer free meals to the emergency services who responded to the attack there last month, so I wanted to give him my custom as a way of saying thank you. We went for the tapas menu and the food was absolutely incredible – I highly recommend the lamb casserole!
Also look out soon for my post about Itsu gyozas, now available to purchase in the frozen aisle at Tesco and Waitrose in a range of gorgeous flavours!
And, finally, I’ll leave you with this handy infographic I was sent by Jamie’s Italian – a buyers’ guide to olive oil! I thought this was so useful as I usually just buy a bottle of the supermarket’s own label – but now I’ll be able to step up my game!
Disclaimer: blog posts may contain sponsored content, affiliate links and mentions of products which have been provided to me for the purposes of review. My opinions are my own and I never feature something I don’t genuinely like or recommend.