Our trip around France.

The idea of travelling around France in a car with your boyfriend and his 2 best mates might not appeal to some gals. And to be honest when it was decided that that would be our main summer holiday it didn’t appeal to me that much. But it turned out to be so fun, chilled and we made so many happy memories (thanks guys).

Wedding photo by @curiousprovence

The whole plan came about as Max and his friend Joe were asked to be groomsmen at a wedding in Provence. The wedding of their uni friend Luke and his Fiancé, El. I’ve never really been to France before, except for Disneyland Paris and a half day in St Tropez on a cruise, so was pretty excited about the idea of a long weekend in Provence, flying in and out, a nice hotel and a really chill weekend to kick off the summer. But this was all a bit flattened when Max announced he was going to drive…

I’m sure Max won’t mind me saying that he’s not a good flyer. He told me pretty early on when we started dating that he didn’t like it but he’s also spent summers in San Francisco and Sweden so I didn’t think he could be THAT scared. But then we flew to Copenhagen in 2016 and I saw it for real, he didn’t speak to me or make eye-contact with me from entering Manchester airport to getting out the airport in Copenhagen, except to snap at me when I tried to make up some reassuring figures about unlikely it is that the aeroplane will go down. So really I shouldn’t have been THAT surprised that he’d much rather spend hours and hours driving than hopping onto a plane. He is also very attached to his car.

To make the straight drive down to the town of L’isle-sur-la-Sourge, where the wedding was, would have taken 15 hours from Leeds which would’ve been a long slog but not impossible, I guess. But then we wouldn’t have been able to see much of France which seemed a bit of a waste. So instead we planned an 8 day roadtrip that would break up the driving and allow us to see some of prettiest towns and cities in France while still having a long weekend in Provence for the wedding.

At first the plan was to travel in 2 cars, me and Max and then Joe and Chris (Max’s other good friend who Joe chose as his plus 1 for the wedding). But it was decided, to save money on petrol and the tunnel, we would squeeze into 1 car. We were so glad that we did too as the road tolls were a killer and something we didn’t really budget for.

We set off really early on Monday the 23rd to drive 5 hours to Folkestone to get the 13.20 shuttle through the channel tunnel. I’ve never been to the tunnel before and was expecting something really industrious and cold. And yeh, ok, the actual shuttle and tunnel are like that, I mean how festive can you make a tunnel going under the sea, but what I didn’t expect was the holiday vibe, organisation, and airport style terminal with restaurants and shops. I don’t know why I was so surprised by that. As it was the first Monday of the summer holidays it was busssyyy and our shuttle was delayed roughly an hour but it didn’t matter to us. The shuttle was not at all like I had expected, it was so easy, fast and efficient. It felt magic driving out in France 30 minutes after we set off. Honestly, my parents were missing a trick taking me to Disney World all them times when I was little, I’d have been quite content with a return journey in the car on the Euro shuttle (joking obviously, I love you Mickey).

Once we’d arrived in France we drove 4 hours to our first stop, Bernieres-sur-Mer in Normandy. Like most of the places we stayed we had booked our accommodation on Air B & B (that thing that I still really love and Max is still quite sceptical about). We’d booked a 3 story holiday home with 2 big bedrooms. It was beautiful, and in the the prettiest little town near the sea. We were so knackered though, and feeling so grim from hours and hours and hours in the car. After I quickly went out to take some sunset pictures we just ate the baguette, ham and cheese we’d bought from a supermarket en-route and stuck to beers and games in our little house.

The next morning we set off early to Mont St Michel. It was around a 2 hour drive from our overnight stop but was somewhere we all wanted to see. Mont St Michel is a castle on its own island just of the Normandy coast, kinda like Holy Island. It’s very beautiful to look at and is set up really well for tourists. Everybody parks in the car park and then can either use the free shuttle to the island or pay to take a horse and cart (or walk which would’ve been quite achievable on a cooler day). At the end of your trip to the Island you just have to pay for your parking which was quite reasonable. You would also have to pay a little more to go into the castle, we chose not to because the whole appeal really was looking at the castle from the outside. On the island while working your way up to the castle you walk through beautiful tiny streets with little shops, restaurants and creperies with colourful signs and cobbled floors. I thought it felt quite Disney, but I’m starting to realise Disney is now so deep-routed in me I see everything as a little bit Disney. After having a wander and admiring the views we then took the shuttle back to the mainland for some lunch before setting off to La Rochelle.

It was a long 4 hour drive to La Rochelle but was very much worth it. I think La Rochelle was my favourite place that we visited and I’d love to go back for a longer holiday. We booked to stay at Hotel St Nicolas, a pretty mid-range hotel a 5 minutes walk from the port. We checked-in a got changed before heading out for the evening to celebrate Max’s birthday eve. La Rochelle really is beautiful and a lot more lively than I expected, there were street performers and market stalls and the bars and restaurants were all overflowing into the streets, it was so sunny and the atmosphere was great. We had a lovely night drinking beers and eating really good food. We chose to eat on Rue St Jean du Perot, the street recommended to us by the receptionist in the hotel. The street was pretty, booming and had musicians playing accordions all the way down and seemed to be where everyone in La Rochelle was heading to, despite this it was all still really reasonably priced with most restaurants offering set menus.

The next day we set off for Bordeaux, 2 hours from La Rochelle. We had decided rather than heading into the city we’d head for a restaurant in the vineyard area for Max’s birthday lunch. When travelling I use tripadvisor a lot to plan where to eat, I’ve got this weird phobia of wasting a holiday meal opportunity on somewhere not that great, so always try to find the best, even if just for a sandwich or a coffee and cake. Where we ate that lunch time was a place I’d found on tripadvisor, and the reviews were right to be so good, the food was great. They did struggle with us being English though but luckily showing 4 fingers and saying ‘burgers and beers’ is pretty universal. How lucky that there isn’t really much variation in different languages in the words for beer and burger. After the burger I the accidentally ordered a very extravagant dessert platter, no idea how that happened but was very happy it.

That night we were staying in 2 different places, Joe and Chris had hired their own villa while me and Max had booked to stay in a Vineyard Chateau.

I’ll giggle for ages thinking about how excited Joe and Chris were for their villa with a pool and how much Max was trying to rearrange our plan so he could have some time in their pool. Only to find they were actually sharing the pool with the family who lived with in house and the families 14 year old twin girls were in the pool the whole time.

Me and Max were staying at Chateau de la vieille Chapelle, a place recommended to us by a friend. There are only 3 rooms at the chateau and only 2 in the chapel itself. We were lucky to get a beautiful room in the chapel. The rooms were huge and really tastefully decorated with beautiful views over the courtyard and the river. The bedroom and bathroom were all in one room which freaked Max out a little but I actually quite liked. There was a toilet, in its own corner with 3 walls around but no door, I see why, it was in a nook of the roof of the chapel and it would have been hard to tastefully put door on and I really didn’t mind it, (there were more private toilets in the courtyard), but Max was traumatised…I’ll explain more in a minute.

At 6.30 every evening in the chapel they do a complimentary wine tasting of the wines they make on their vineyard. The owner did the tasting with us, he was fresh from a day at the vines and covered in squashed grapes and mud but it was lovely to be with a guy so passionate about good wine and his own produce. The wines really were amazing, I’m not a massive non-fizzy wine fan, and especially not keen on drinking red (usually I just use it for bolognaise sauce), but their reds really were delicious and so fruity. We tend to run a gin and beer only flat at home but got all wrapped up in the wine hype and ended up buying a lot of bottles of their wine to bring home with us (my pasta sauces are going to be even more banging for the next year).

After the wine tasting we made use of the chateau’s beautiful sunny courtyard and sat out and read and ate the snacks we’d bought earlier that day (link back to this in a sec). Before heading back to our room to shower and enjoy the feeling of the chapel, and watch a few episodes of Dark Tourist on Netflix (you need to watch, so good!)

So here’s a sub story. Key points: the toilet in our suite didn’t have a door. Snacks had been in the car a while and it was hot. Most snacks were fine, crisps, baguette. Max took a risk and tried the butter that had gone through a few heat processes while sitting in the boot. French butter is a lot more dairy and heavier than ours and it didn’t settle well in his tummy and there was an interesting event next morning. Let’s just say we’re closer now than we’ve ever been and the morning in the chateau after the dodgy butter and with the toilet without the door will be story that will mentioned through our entire relationship. But we’ve come out the other side and we can have a good laugh about it.

Don’t worry about him, literally a couple of hours later he was pulling over to pick himself up a baguette and a pain au chocolat.

That day we headed to Carcassonne. We had hired a villa for the night through Air B & B, 10 minutes drive from central Carcassonne. We dropped off our bags and headed into the city for a wander. Carcassonne is a pretty city dominated by the castle on a hill in the centre. There’s also a street with multi-coloured umbrellas hanging above which is a must see, so pretty! We had a good wander, took plenty of photos, stopped for a drink and picked up some groceries before heading back to our villa for dinner , cards agaisnt humanity and a few hours of being eaten alive by bugspray-defying mosquitos.

From Carcassonne we travelled to L’isle-sur-la-Sourge where the wedding was held, 4 hours from Carcassonne. We hired another villa through Air B & B for us to stay in for the long weekend. That evening we went out to celebrate the wedding eve with Luke and El and the wedding guests at a really lovely restaurant in the town. L’isle-sur-la-Sourge was a lot bigger than I was expecting with loads of bars or restaurants, it would be a great place to head to back to if we ever holiday in Provence again! Although getting around was a little tricky, we obviously relied on taxis when Max was drinking and they were a bit thin on the ground. There was one uber, opening the uber app was just watching one guy drive around and when we did get through to someone his wife rang us and said he was at home but he’d get ready and come and get us, before just cancelling a few minutes later.

The next day was the wedding day. Max and Joe has to head to the venue earlier to get into their suits and do some groomsman duties so me and Chris had a lazy morning reading and sunbathing before being picked up by a minibus to head to the venue. The wedding was just outside L’ilse-sur-la-Sourge, on Luke’s family’s property. They’d turned a big field into a perfect outdoor wedding space. It was so hot that day but we stood with hand fans sipping champagne waiting for the ceremony to start. I am very emotional at weddings, I cry at Say Yes to the Dress, Don’t tell the Bride, soap weddings, I just love them, so invite me to yours if you want a token sobber. Luckily, I had sunglasses on and a really good waterproof mascara so think I got away with it. We had such a lovely day celebrating in the sun, drinking really good wine, playing beer pong and enjoying the lovely atmosphere.

It was a late night, so we literally did nothing the next day, except read, catch up with Love Island on my Ipad (important), eat carbs and sunbathe. That night though I did have a real paranormal experience…

The villa was very modern but was a converted out-house in it’s past life I would say, definitely a converted something, built between two houses. Me and Max had our bedroom door open as the air con hub was in the main lounge where Chris was sleeping. I was woken at 3 a.m. up by something stroking my leg (wasn’t Max, he was flat out at the other side of the bed), to sit up and find the TV in the living room on the no signal screen with the remote next to it, so it couldn’t have been that Chris had rolled onto it by accident. I lay there sh*t scared for 40 minutes, too scared to wake Max as he has a big drive the next day, the TV turned off after 40 minutes only for the shower to turn straight on for a few minutes (not dripping- ON!). It was very freaky. I was too scared to go for a wee so lay there, busting, until the sun came up at 6. I don’t think I believe in ghosts but it was all just a bit weird.

We had a massive drive the next day, 7 hours back up to the champagne region to stop-over on our way home. We stopped for Maccies of course, no roadtrip is complete without them, me and Sophie pretty much travelled round New Zealand from McDonald’s to McDonald’s. We were staying in a town called Verzenay, in a one roomed Air B &B in someones converted garage. It was smart, and had everything we needed, but very cosy, and cosy isn’t something you really look for when its 35 degrees. That day, from a supermarket, we picked up the most extravagant cream-filled, chocolate topped brioche tear and share which I think was the highlight of that long day in the car.

The next morning we drove back to Calais to catch the tunnel home. It wasn’t so busy that day and we arrived earlier than expected, so we were offered an earlier shuttle home which was a great help, as we still had a lot of driving to do on the other side. Those travelling days were hard, even I, the backseat napper and Netflix watcher, was exhausted so I can’t imagine how Maxie was feeling. Once we were home in our flat in Leeds we got a Thai takeaway and I think were asleep before 10.

Max drove around 2500 miles that holiday and didn’t complain once, he wasn’t even ever in control of the music or podcasts we were listening to. What a good guy. Such a good job I didn’t see Mamma Mia 2 until I came back, otherwise those car journeys would be very different…

Tips for if you’re planning a similar European Roadtrip:

  • Be prepared for the tolls! When we could we dodged them on smaller country roads but in times we were on a stricter time limit we had to grin, bare it and pay it. They can only be a couple of Euro’s but were often above 20, most only accepted card too.
  • When travelling in a group of more than 2, hiring a whole villa through Air B & B is cheaper than booking out more than one hotel room. The only place this wasn’t the case with was in La Rochelle. Booking.com were offering a special discount on the day we were booking and all of the available whole house Air B&B’s were far from the port which is where we wanted to be, so only on that occasion did a hotel work out better.
  • If travelling over the summer holiday period book your tunnel slot and accommodation plenty of time in advance, by May I was realising Air B & B choices for 4 people were thinning out a bit in certain areas. 
  • Take a pillow from home to get comfy and sleep in the car (mainly because it passes the time), except of course, if you’re the driver.
  • If travelling in the Summer, check the Air B & B’s have air con, the majority don’t but you can usually find one that does, if you want to get a good nights sleep, it’s a must!
  • Never underestimate the importance of bug spray and citronella candles for an evening if travelling in the summer.
  • If you’re ordering beef, even if you like it medium/rare , ask for medium/ well- done! They tend to cook beef for a lot less than we do! I love it quite rare and really like steak tartare but I think the boys were quite shocked by very red burgers!
  • Whenever you have wifi download as many readly magazines, podcasts, games, audiobooks, netflix shows as you can to keep you entertained on the really long car trips.
  • Eat as much baguette and brioche as you possibly can.
  • Don’t eat butter that’s been sitting in a hot car all day when you’re staying in a suite in a chapel without a toilet door (Max!).

Katie x

(You can see more photos from our trip in the Instagram highlights, there’s a whole highlight for France! @katiejade_natterfornowtblog)

Birch Box- May

Here’s my monthly review of the contents of my Birch Box,

Have to admit, I was a little disappointed with the May box, I don’t think there’s anything I’m going to immediately be buying full sized versions of. But luckily my June tin (?!) has arrived and has more than made up for it.

So here’s the lowdown on my May products:

Benefit Hoola Bronzer: This is a product I already use a lot when doing full make up. It’s the first bronzer I’ve ever had so don’t have much to compare to but I do like it. It’s easy to apply, stays put and really makes a difference to my face. I much prefer the powder to the cream version and will continue to use this in the future.

Spectrum Collections, the Bomb Shell Make-up Brush: I’m not really into the whole brush thing. The products I use that require a brush come with their own which I use. So initially I thought this obviously great quality brush was wasted on me. I have however been using this to apply my blusher and it does work very well and makes it easy to apply evenly. I’m not sure I’m going to start buying whole brush sets but I do appreciate this one and may purchase again in the future.

Luseta Beauty Keratin Smooth Conditioner: I really like the Luseta hair products and this one is no exception. It left my hair really smooth and shiny but is a bit too heavy for frequent use. To get your hair looking good for a special occasion however, it is definitely worth a go.

Doucce Luscious Lip Stain, Steaming Red: We had a choice of colour for the lip stain , so, true to form, I opted for the Steaming Red. However, when it came it’s not what I would really describe as ‘Flaming Red’. When compared to my friends, who chose the pinkier more natural option, they were actually very similar. It’s a very matte colour which I’m not used to and initially did feel quite strange and dry on my lips. However the colour did last a while and I did get used to it. Was also good to try a different colour as I am so loyal to my Mac ‘Last Minute’ stain and need to start experimenting with different colours.

Greenfrog Botanic Botanical Bodywash- Geranium and Peppermint: I do love a natural, environmentally friendly product. This smelt fresh and clean and did the job shower gels are meant to do. I wouldn’t rush to buy it again but its certainly not bad.

Katie x

A Good Summer Read.

With summer now just weeks away I thought it might be time to start planning some Summer reads. I always read the most over the summer and love getting lost in a good book during down time while holidaying or travelling.

I’m looking for some recommendations of what to read while road tripping around France this summer or maybe what would be good to listen to on Audible while Maxie chauffeurs me from city to city. 💁🏻

In exchange here’s my list of must-reads and must haves for your bookshelves!

Us-David Nichols.

I read this on holiday in Sorrento in 2015. It was in the first few weeks of texting Max and I remember spending most of the week lying on a sunbed going from being engrossed in this story to being engrossed in mine and Maxie’s whatsapp conversations. It’s one of the stories that will stay with me forever, its beautifully written and had me crying, laughing and wanting to hug Doug. It’s a story about love but not a love story, more like just a story about life, it’s so relatable and true to life and relationships we’ve all witnessed before. It really is just beautiful. One day by David Nicholls is also one of my favourite stories and I’m currently reading Starter for Ten, but for me Us trumps them all.

The Versions of Us- Laura Barnett.

I picked up this book in a hostel book swap when I was in Perth in 2016 and read it while travelling. Just like Us it’s so relatable and the characters are so absorbing and real I felt like they were my friends. It’s split into three stories, all about the same couple but different versions of where their lives could have taken them if they’d made different choices. All the versions have happy parts and sad times and times you feel like shouting at the book because they’re making the wrong choices. It definitely appeals to my philosophical romantic side of always wondering ‘what if?’. I just absolutely loved this and it’s the perfect holiday read. Such a beautiful and effective way of story telling it kind of had me mad I didn’t have the idea first.

Room- Emma Donoghue.

This is not really light hearted and summery but definitely one of the books everybody needs to read before they die. It’ll have you thinking about it all the time and feeling quite emotional but wow its worth it. I just couldn’t put it down. Must be one of the best books ever written? I won’t say any more. Just read it. Don’t cheat and watch the film, it’s good but not as good. It’s best to watch the film after.

Funny Girl- Nick Hornsby.

I love Nick Hornsby, High Fidelity is another one of my favourites but as a summer read I loved Funny Girl more. It’s set in the 60’s which is perfect, I love anything retro. It’s all about Barbara, a beauty queen who’s dream is to make it in the world of comedy. It’s funny and real and easy to read. A perfect beach read.

Elizabeth is Missing- Emma Healey.

Another book I read while travelling in Oz. I bought this to read on the plane after reading a lot of hype around it. I don’t think it was what I expected but I did love it. It’s very clever and gripping but at the same time not too intense and deep, it’s very cleverly written. If you want a light summer read that’s not a chick-lit, give this one a go!

Paper Towns- John Green.

I think John Green books are meant to teenagers but that doesn’t stop me from loving them a lot. I’ve read them all but think this one grabs the top spot. I read this while living in Italy as a nanny and remember being so hooked I had it in my handbag all the time and was permanently hoping for a free 5 minutes to read a few pages. I think the fact it’s set in Orlando, where I used to live helps a lot, I could picture it all really clearly which made it seem more real and absorbing. The story line is so clever with so many twists and the characters literally have you feeling like they’re your best friends. It’s the right balance of light and funny but also gets you thinking. Definitely worth delving into the teen section of Waterstones to purchase and give a go. Other John Green books I would really recommend are An Abundance of Katherines,Will Grayson, Will Grayson and of course, if you’ve just woken up from a 10 year coma and haven’t read it yet, The Fault in our Stars (maybe not on the beach though, unless you’re open to sobbing like a toddler in public).

Billy and Me- Giovanna Fletcher.

Because I follow her on every media platform, like sooo many people, I feel like Gi is one of my best friends, so when she started releasing books I was straight in there. They really are light-hearted chick-lits at their very best and Billy and Me is my favourite. The easiest books in the world to read, so relatable and perfect for reading on a sun lounger with a cocktail.

Other Books to have on your shelf:

Love Letters of Great Men.

In 2008 I feel very deep into the Sex and the City rabbit hole. I went to see the movie and then spent the rest of the summer watching all the seasons, reading the books, listening to the movie soundtrack and buying all the merch. I was just obsessed and kind of still am. The Love Letters of Great Men book that Carrie borrows from the library in the movie didn’t actually exist until a few months after the film was released. But as soon as it was out, I had it, and read it front to back and back again. Those were the days when I was 16 and full of hope of fairytales and romantic men. It really is a beautiful read and I still pull it out a lot to have a flick through when I’m feeling all soppy and emosh.

The Jane Austen Collection.

I am a Jane Austen nerd. I love them all. They bring out the soppy romantic in me and have me dreaming of living in those simple times. Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility are my favourites, I think I’ve seen every film and TV version of them and are the books I have on my shelf. I’d be lying if I said I’ve read them cover to cover. Jane was quite a wordy writer. But I do like to have a flick through them every now and again to find my favourite quotes.

Parenting the Sh*t out of Life- Mother Pukka and Papa Pukka.

This is my favourite to pick up and read for a giggle but it also has parts that are so moving. I follow both Mother and Papa Pukka on Insta and they really make me laugh. You don’t have to be a parent, or planning a baby, to enjoy this.

Not that Kind of Girl- Lena Dunham.

I don’t think there’s a girl in the world who can’t relate to this memoir. It’s laugh out loud funny. I just love it. I have favourite parts I love to read over and over. It’s life-affirming, hilarious, and just brilliant. I suggest every girl 18-40 reads it at least once. Or about 30 times like me.

On our bookshelves we also have a ridic amount of cookbooks. We are constantly buying cookbooks for eachother and have afternoons where we sit and read them all and put markers on the recipes we’d like to try. I’ll do a cookbook edition of this post in the next few weeks!

I have a thing with children’s book too. I have a whole section of children’s books on my bookshelf. There’s something so wonderful about how simple and magical they can be and I love the beautiful illustrations. Ones with meaning also make lovely presents and keepsakes for a special occasion.

When it comes to buying books I am very passionate about where I buy them from. Although guilty of the occasional quick Amazon prime purchase I do feel a lot better when I’ve bought from a book shop, particularly independent ones. Although more expensive I love to support small businesses and book shops are a dying tradition that we must not lose. There’s something so magic about a good bookshop and gives you a feeling you can never get from ‘adding to basket’ on Amazon.

Let me know your suggestions for what I should be reading this summer. Do I join the Insta hype and read Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine?

Katie x

My Favourite Puddings.

Well here we go! I’ve been saying for a while now I’m going to start sharing recipes on my blog! I’m a keen cook, baker and eater (as you’ll have probably picked up on if you follow me on the gram) and have dipped into the world of food blogging before when I shared recipes and stories of what I was eating while living in Italy on my Ambrosial Notebook blog (I’ll share a link at the end!)

So here’s my first real foodie post on this blog, and it’s dedicated to my favourite puddings.

If you ask me if I have a sweet tooth I’ll probably say no but this is a lie. I’m not one to snack on sweet things and happily will turn down a chocolate bar but live for post-meal puddings, sweet breakfast waffles and Nutella. These pudding recipes are the perfect combination of them and are recipes that me and my Momma make a lot. They never fail to satisfy and the leftovers are the best part! I swear you’ll love them a dangerous amount! (Sorry not sorry in advance if this post ruins anyone’s summer bodies).

Raspberry Waffle Pudding:

This recipe is to fill a large oven proof dish with pudding, enough to feed roughly 8 people. I usually half the recipe if feeding Max and I (there is leftovers but that’s a good thing).

2 Packets of Toasting Waffles (about 16 waffles), chopped into roughly 3cm square chunks

175g white chocolate, chopped into chunks, roughly 1cm squared

2 packets of frozen raspberries or 300g of fresh raspberries

60g Caster Sugar

1 tbsp Plain Four

550ml Creme Fraiche

3 eggs

1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Set oven to 200c (Gas mark 6)

Place half of the chopped waffles in the ovenproof dish, spreading evenly to cover the bottom. Sprinkle over half the white chocolate and half of the raspberries. Repeat the layers again and set the ovenproof dish to one side.

Measure the creme fraiche out in a large jug and whisk in the sugar, flour, eggs and vanilla until all combined.

If you are preparing the pudding well in advance of serving at this stage you can cover the oven proof dish and leave at room temperature and cover the custard mixture and leave to sit in the fridge.

40 minutes before serving pour the custard over the raspberry waffle mixture and leave to soak in for around 10 minutes before transferring to the oven and baking for 30 minutes. The pudding is ready when the custard is set. Serve with cream or ice-cream.

Nutella and Banana Croissant Pudding:

This recipe is currently in my story highlights on Instagram! (www.instagram.com/katiejade_natterfornowtblog)

It’s a recipe I worked on while I lived in Italy and Nutella and Croissants were very readily available. By the end of my year living there I was making it every Sunday and gaining weight at a very fast rate, I had to detox myself from it for a while once I got back.

If you’re not on insta or just fancy a written version of the recipe, here it is…

This recipe also fills a large ovenproof dish and is good for feeding a crowd, half the recipe if you’re not having a party!

12 Croissants (not fresh bakery ones, the slightly stale packaged ones work best)

A medium sized jar of Nutella

3 Bananas

4 eggs

300ml Double Cream

400ml Whole Milk

75g Caster Sugar

Vanilla Extract

Set Oven to 180c.

Half all of the croissants and spread the Nutella thickly on one side of all the halves. Arrange the croissants halves around the edge of the ovenproof dish (Nutella sides facing inwards) and then fill the middle with 2 rows of croissants with the Nutella sides all facing one way. Slice the 3 bananas and slide them between the croissants.

To make the custard measure the double cream and milk out into a large jug and whisk in the eggs, sugar and vanilla until combined. Like with the Raspberry waffle pudding at this stage you can set the pudding aside until later by covering of putting the custard in the fridge.

50 minutes before serving pour the custard over the croissants and leave to soak for 10 minutes baking baking for 40 minutes until the custard is set. Serve with cream or ice-cream.

….You should then maybe drink some green tea or go for a jog.

Katie x

Www.theambrosialnotebook.blogspot.com

Birch Box- April

The Cath Kidston one! I was very excited about this one and it didn’t disappoint! The box is just so pretty, a lovely addition to my bathroom!

Marcelle BB Cream Golden Glow Illuminator– This is fab! As I really don’t like foundation I now use this as a light base when getting really done up. It works well with my skin when I’m fake tanned and does make my skin look great. I’m a big fan!

Whish Shave Crave Acai and Grapefruit Shaving Cream- I am really guilty of not using shaving cream in the shower and when my legs are sore and dry afterwards I feel pretty guilty about it. In the bath I use a bath cream conditioner from homemade beauty product company Bath Bake Love (look them up on Insta, they’re fab!) So I was pleased when this came in the box to keep in our shower room to avoid the post shower-shave sting! It did make a difference to make skin afterwards and gave a really nice finish however the smell was quite subtle and a little chemically!

Model Co Baked Blush (Moonshine)- I love all the different tones on this blush and that it has a highlighting element that gives a really bright glowy look! It’s very pretty and simple to apply and I really liked how it looked on! This is a real winner if you’re looking for a blush that’s a bit extra!

Beautaniq Beauty Fill + Tame Brow Gel (Brunette)- I am such a big fan of this! I thinkkkk thinkk it might just beat my Benefit Ka-Brow. The colour is a perfect for my brows, goes on easily and evenly and makes a real difference without being too much! I’ll be buying this again fo sho’.

Cath Kidston Hand Cream- Such a pretty edition to my handbag, the scent is a lot more florally than I would usually go for but it does the job! And I adore Cath soo this is probably quite a bias review…

I’m so late with this post my May box has already arrived!
I’ll review that in the next few weeks!

Katie x

Our Perfect Spa Break at Rudding Park.

Hey guys,

Really excited to share this post with you! Earlier this week we got back from a dreamy spa break at Rudding Park which was the best last minute pre-birthday treat!
This week we were going to go on a boating trip on the Thames but the forecast was just looking so shocking and the river current so high we decided to postpone until August. Cue frantictically searching last minute.com and air B&B for a weather proof alternative.

I remembered about Rudding Park in Harrogate, only 30 minutes from our flat but I’d heard about their new rooftop spa and great food so gave them a call. They are currently running a midweek spring time offer which was too good to refuse and took the original quote for a full overnight spa package down by a significant amount. I rang Max while he was out at football to check I was ok to go ahead and book and luckily he was super keen (the boy loves a Spa).

We set off to Harrogate the next morning (with a pitstop to get a new tyre and an M&S meal deal) and had a little wander around the shops and picked up a little birthday treat in Jo Malone, but really we just couldn’t wait to get to Rudding Park and check-in.

When I rang them to book they asked if it was for a special occasion and I’d said its a last minute holiday alternative but also in the week of my birthday. When we checked in we were told we’d been upgraded to a suite as a ‘Happy Birthday’ from Rudding Park and were walked to the suite by a member of staff. I knew even the more basic room we had booked would be beautiful but the suite was even lovelier and we really were overwhelmed by what we were given.

The suite had a bedroom, lounge, a huge bathroom and a balcony which ran the whole length of it. They’d even left a bottle of pink fizz and a birthday card for me in coffee table.

I felt like I was walking around in a dream world and once I had finished taking snaps and popping open the fizz, I ran a bath in the beautiful rolltop tub complete with TV and Molton Brown goodies. I was unbelievably content lying in that tub with my glass of fizz watching the men’s gymnastics at the commonwealth games.

We then got ready and headed down to dinner at the Clocktower restaurant, a meal that was included in our package. The food in the Clocktower restaurant is a modern twist on British Comfort food, the food and service were perfect. We particularly loved the rhubarb cheesecake for pudding which was served in a perfect pink sphere on top of the biscuit crumble base. We then headed to the bar which had a very impressive gin collection and great cocktails. I had a lovely rhubarb gin and elderflower tonic but by the last few sips I was rushing as I was so excited to get into the massive bed.

That bed was honestly the best place I’ve ever watched Masterchef and I slept a dream on the soft sheets. Breakfast the next morning was just as lovely as the meal the night before, but really to me, you can’t go wrong with an smoked salmon and scrambled egg muffin.

We then headed over to the spa for the spa day. We could choose either the Monday or the Tuesday to use the spa but opted for the Tuesday. On arrival we were given a tour of the spa and bands to access our lockers with our towels, robes and flip flops inside. The spa really is beautiful, it’s kept in great condition and there’s plenty of staff about to order drinks and ask questions. The facilities are lovely and the spa wasn’t too busy so you really felt you could relax and make best use of all they have to offer. The new outside area is beautiful and I’m sure will be even better in the summer. There’s different saunas, steam rooms and pools as well as foot spas and heated relaxation beds where we enjoyed a read and a drink.

When we arrived at the spa we booked to have an additional treatment (because we hadn’t already been indulgent enough). We went for a do it yourself thermal mud treatment. The treatment and what to do was explained to us first by a member of staff and then we were left in our own private room. Laid out were different bowls of mud for different parts of the body as well as flannel mittens and a herbal salt scrub. Once the treatment started and we had started to apply the mud, the room then began to get hotter and hotter for the next 15 minutes. You can feel the mud cleaning out your skin as your pores open in the heat and it feels so good! After the 15 minutes showers then come on from the ceiling and using the flannel mittens and salt you can rub off the mud. I couldn’t recommend this treatment enough and will definitely be doing it again, my skin has never felt so good and it was a great experience to do as a couple.

It was a perfect 24 hours and I’m already dying to go back.

Maybe at May half term Maxie?

Katie x

The Dresses and Hangovers of Birthdays past.

With just a few days until my 26th Birthday I thought I would do a bit of reminiscing on birthdays gone by. I am one of those really annoying people who see’s their own birthday as a big deal and I start thinking about it as soon as Valentine’s Day is out of the way. You’d think maybe by now the novelty would have worn off a little and I’ll  have stopped wanting to celebrate getting older but nah, I’m still totally there for a day that’s all about me. Actually not a day, a month. I justify everything I buy or do as a birthday treat in April.

Birthday celebrations have obviously evolved as the years have gone by. My main memories of birthdays when I younger are mum’s mars bar cake, TGI Fridays, sleepovers and mum waking me up with a personalised happy birthday tape which started with ‘who’s birthday is it today?’ ‘It’s Katie’s birthday today!’ I still say it to myself a lot on my birthday to be honest, the word’s just still get me really excited.

My 18th Birthday was the ultimate and as much as I’d like to repeat it every year nothing can ever top it. At the time, my 18th Birthday felt like the biggest thing in the world, I thought once I was 18, and no longer had to worry about borrowing a convincing ID for nights out, that everything in my world would be easier. Spoiler: I was wrong. But it did take me a while to realise, I was just so pumped up on adrenaline, excitement and possibility. My 18th birthday and the time around it was one of the happiest times of my life; my family were healthy, my friendships were strong, I was skinny and always tanned thanks to my addiction to St Moritz and my birthday was just this huge pink-themed peak of goodness in the middle of it.

I had started to plan my 18th birthday months and months before I actually needed to. I think I sent the facebook invitations in the January, bought the decorations even earlier and by the day came everyone else but me was probably fed up of hearing about it. But it was all worth it and I had the best time ever. My Mum joined in the hype, as Ange takes any excuse to be a bit extra. She actually maybe went a little too extra on this occasion. She seemed to have everything personalised with my face and name, the banners, coasters, wrapping paper. She ordered 25 8 serving pies for my family day time party and made a 6 tier display of pink and silver cupcakes. We had a cocktail fountain which by the end of the night, the contents was very questionable and at some point my party pessimistic Dad got really into it and started cracking open bottles of champers. It was such a blur of pink glitter, my own face everywhere, cocktails, a tactical chunder, the Macarena and my very best friends. A night I’ll definitely always remember forever.

Then came the alcohol years…birthdays meant dangerous birthday punch, strange coloured shots, a lot of cleaning up in our uni flat the next day and about a month of regret afterwards.

FYI: Birthday Punch is a very important birthday tradition we started at uni and one I’m really happy to share and encourage everyone to adopt.

You will need: A lot of Jelly sweets, laces, bears, lips and teeth, cola bottles, as much as you get your hands on but definitely enough to fill at least a quarter of a large mixing bowl.

The majority of a bottle of vodka.

A bottle of lemonade (not all at once, keep topping it up).

Just put it all in the bowl keep giving it a stir.

I don’t know if it makes you drunk or just gives you an immense sugar high but you’ll definitely have a great night and heaps of energy for running round the club like a mad woman.

To talk a little about birthday outfits, anybody else see their birthday outfit as the most important of the year? I have a collection of years of birthday dresses in my wardrobe at my Mum and Dad’s, that I will probably never wear again but still will never part from. Each year I’ve tended to have an image in my head of what I would like before I’ve seen it or usually before I’ve even come up with a birthday plan. The birthday plan then is created to fit the outfit. For instance in the picture above I am wearing a dress covered in animals, hence a jungle themed party. And the yellow dress below, that was for my 21st, I was only going to have a party at uni but a whole new Yarm party was created as an excuse to wear it, it seemed a little too nice to wear to the grotty (but great) student clubs in Sheffield. Every outfit I have now from birthdays gone by is a memory of an occasion and a happy time in my life, to me they all represent what was happening in my life at the time I bought them and wore and that makes them feel pretty special.

For my 23rd Birthday, in 2015, I was living as an Au Pair in Italy. I’ll always remember as the statement ‘complianno di Katie, lei ha Ventitre anni’ will always be stuck in my head. I celebrated the night before by heading out to my favourite bar with my Italian friends and being photographed taking a shot from a syringe…..

The next day I woke up to a hangover and sunshine. I carried the cards and presents I’d received off my family in advance to the breakfast table to open with my Italian fam. The strangest thing was how they were blown away by my cards, Italians just don’t do cards, and they found them so interesting. I had a lunch time tea party with my Italian aunty that day and then went to choose a birthday present of shoes with Nonno, my Italian Grandad who recently passed away. That afternoon with him on my birthday choosing new shoes at a shoe shop in the little town where he lived will always be a very precious memory to me. A few days later I continued the celebrations on a break to Florence with my Italian Mamma, saw some beautiful sites, drank beer and ate good food, that’s one that’s definitely up there with the best of birthday treats.

These days birthdays are seeming a bit more sophisticated. Except for my 24th when I ended up in the Wobbly Goblin in Stockton at 4a.m. I’ll never be justifying that decision as a birthday treat. Instead of birthday punch and 3a.m McDonald’s it’s now more prosecco, pretty cocktails and fine dining. We have just got back from an amazing spa break at Rudding Park (blog post on that one coming soon!), spending Friday celebrating with my parents and have something very exciting booked for Sunday. My outfit for this year is exactly what I imagined, it’s like New Look read mind and was delighted when I found it! I can’t wait to share at the weekend!

Katie x