Our Honeymoon, Day 7: Exploring Waikaloa, beach fun & a sunset cruise

We woke up bright and early and headed down to the orientation meeting at our hotel.  It was a great way to get our bearings, scope out a few places for dinners, and confirm that Matthew had done brilliantly on booking us lots of fun excursions.  The local guide was incredibly knowledgeable and clearly loved the Big Island!

After the meeting we decided to hit the beach for a couple of hours.  As we were in and out of the water I didn't have my camera for this portion, so there aren't any pics, but we had a whale of a time.  After plonking our stuff down on a lounger we decided to try paddleboarding, which was great fun (and quite the workout!).  I managed to do pretty well paddling along while kneeling, but the minute I got a little confident and tried to stand?  SPLOOSH!  I was straight in the water!  I have to say they, having grown up swimming in the rather chilly Moray Firth and North Sea waters, the lukewarm embrace of the crystal clear Pacific waters was a lovely change!  We played out on the paddleboards for an hour or so, with plenty of dunkings in between.  Then we sat out on the beach for a little while (the Marriott has a great big slice of white sand just by it) and feasted on refreshing shaved ice - so yum!

After our beack fun we washed up and headed to our main trip for the day - a sunset cruise in the waters to the west of Big Island.  The pictures speak for themselves - absolutely stunning.  I've never seen sunsets like we did in Hawaii!




Boat based badgers!  Below are a few pics from the trip - forgive the slightly wonky ones, the boat was a little bouncy in parts.











We spent a lovely few hours enjoying the ocean, sipping on Bikini Blonde beer and snacking on crudite and chips.  As we came back into port we all raised a glass to the evening, and to toast the anniversary and the two honeymoons being celebrated by couples on board.  A beautiful, beautiful evening.
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#CookWithNeff


Last Friday I was very kindly invited by Currys PC World and Joes Bloggers to attend a cooking event with Neff, the kitchen appliance brand.  Having long drooled over their amazing ovens (they make the brilliant 'slide and hide' ovens used on the Great British Bake Off, fact fans), I was eager to have a play with their products myself.

We met in London and then boarded a minibus to Milton Keynes to experience the Neff test kitchens.  The staff were lovely - knoweldgeable, funny and charming, and were all clearly very proud of their brand and the range.  When we arrived we were greeted with big smiles, hot beverages, and just-baked-still-warm-from-the-oven cookies.  A very good start!


Neff's social campaign at the moment hinges on the odea of good, impressive, inventive home cooking, and they are looking for 'Cookaholics' - I liked this graphic outlining a candidate for the moniker!


Austin from Neff took us through the range of ovens and their many capabilities.  I have to say, I was really impressed - as well as the #SlidingOvenDoorsOfJoy, they also have many other tricks up their sleeves - no real need to preheat as they come to temperature within minutes, pyrolitic cleaning (where high temperatures do the work for you!), and a wonderful technology called Circotherm where the circulation of air within the oven is changed so you get no intermingling of flavour.  You could cook a fish course, a vegetarian course, and a sponge cake in the same oven and they'd all retain their own flavour with no crossover.  Which is fortunate, as fishy sponge sounds vile!


So shiny.  I love our little clatter-bang oven, but I'd love one of these babies to play with!  So much space, so many recipes to try!  Once we'd been introduced to the technology, it was time to cook - as food bloggers we were 'singing for our supper' and making the items we'd be enjoying for lunch and afternoon tea.  Love events like this!


My team were in charge of making these quick and tasty tartlets which only had three ingredients - perfect for a quick weekday supper or to rustle up for a get-together.  We used shortcrust pastry for the base (either homemade or shop-bought would work well), then spooned in red onion chutney and topped with a little goat cheese 'hat'!  Glaze with a little egg and milk and then cook in the oven until golden, with the cheese bubbling.  Other teams made other elements of the meal - posrk & wild boar patties, flatbreads, vegetable tart, salmon and asparagus tartlets, and a giant cous cous salad.  There were also people beavering away on pudding.


My lovely team - Amanda from Rhyme and Ribbons and Jessica from Look What I Got.


Cook my pretties, cook!


Across from us on the workbench and in charge of the cous cous salad were this smiley team of awesome!


While the tartlets baked, it was time to slice and dice some veggies!  We were going to griddle them to have alongside the other options.


Mmmmmm, veggies.


Once all the articles were ready, it was time to set up for a feast!


Tartlets!  A couple got a bit squished while we were taking them out of the tin but I can assure you they were no less delicious!


Pork & wild boar patties with herbed creme fraiche.


My lovely (and very on brand) lunch!


I snapped Sophie from Sophie etc. making our pudding earlier in the day - love a good chocolate dipped strawberry!


Lyn, Neff's Senior Home Economist, was so good at explaining the recipes and the many capabilities of the ovens.  I loved the little water feature she showed us - perfect for recipes like bread making where a little steam works well!


She showed us how to use a simple white bread mix to make a tasty 'tear and share' option - one side was cheese and proscuitto, the other bake was cinnamon, apple and nuts.  I loved the warming drawer for proving!


Bloggers ready for afternoon tea!


A well earned cuppa and a light, fluffy scone!  In Lyn's recipe we used a little yogurt in the mix, rendering the finished bake light and fluffy.

After tidying up and saying our goodbyes, it was bake to London, bellies full and cooking souls inspired!  Thank you to Neff for hosting; to Currys PC World and Joes Bloggers for inviting me; and to all the bloggers in attendance for a fun, lively day.

I think Sophie's reaction sums up the door joy perfectly!
A video posted by Claire Roper (@cmclaire) on




Disclaimer: I was invited to this event and fed lots of yummy food.  I was not paid for this review, and all opinions are my own.  I really like cooking.
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Learning more about Shoreditch with #LumiaStreetArt

Last week I was very kindly invited to go along to an evening walking tour of Shoreditch, where we'd explore the rich street art of the area, get to try out some Lumia phones, and feast on some sweet, sweet pizza.

As I spend a fair bit of time in that part of town and know slightly less than nothing about the street art I see there I thought I'd pop along.  The fact that we were dining at Pizza East didn't hurt either - I'd mentioned to my blog friend Sara that I'd been dying to try it mere hours before it was announced as the venue for dinner.  Serendipity!

We met by Shoreditch High Street station and then went on a big loop, checking out the many pieces of art on display.  I'd seen some of the things before but the tour really opened my eyes to how much I'd missed - there truly is art everywhere in this section of town and I learned so much about the street art scene in London and elsewhere from our very knowledgable guide, Karim.  We also had a photographer in attendance, Phil Hibberd, who was a goldmine of hints and tips.  Below are a few of my favourite pictures from the evening, all taken with a Lumia 930.


#truthbomb


I've walked past this guy many a time on my way to and from Shoreditch/Spitalfields, so I couldn't resist including him.  I learned on the tour that he's a ROA creation.  This artist paints animals and wildlife on the side of buildings and the attention to details in mindblowing.  I couldn't get that kind of detail on a piece of paper, let alone several feet high on the side of a wall using spray paint.


Bloggers listening attentively to Karim.  His passion was tangible!


String as street art.  Reminded me of Emily and her passion for yarn bombing.


Karim was so good at sharing his knowledge and not being judgy if we were coming from a place of little to no knowledge of this kind of art (that'd be me, then!).


Some of the tags were super creative.


Action shot!


I love seeing these big graphics in town, and my mind was blown when I realised this is done freehand.


We chatted about stickers as street art, something I hadn't really countered before.  Made me think of Danny Wallace and his Join Me stickers back in the day.


I loved the colours and shading on this piece.  I also love that the first thing that springs into my head when I see GSA is the Girls' School Association....sometimes I am not very Shoreditch at all.


As the tour went on I feel like my eye got better and better.  As well as following what Karim was sharing, I was getting more and more confident with picking out pictures and pieces that caught my eye.  There were several of these icon pictures, such as the Mohammad Ali one above, scattered across the streets we visited.  Apparently there's a big divide in the street art scene between those who think only pieces done on site are true street art, whereas pieces which are brought in, like this, are a different, less authentic part of the scene...


There were little images everywhere on our tour.


As a big fan of the blue plaques we have here in the UK (marking the birthplaces and homes of key figures in the life of the nation), this ode to 'Crunchy' caught my eye.


There's Crunchy!

To the left of the picture, I was astounded to learn that the Hi-Fi sign was also freehand.  So talented.


A wall of art.

I loved this vibrant parrot, off the end of Brick Lane.


The scale of some of these pieces is mindblowing.

After a good bimble through Shoreditch and a wealth of art to see and discuss, we repaired to Pizza East for food and chatter.


Thank you so much to Microsoft and to Talented Talkers for inviting me to try out the Lumia & for a lovely evening - I enjoyed trying a new camera and enjoyed exploring the features available; I loved the ability to edit brightness and light levels on the spot!  I'd encourage anyone who's in London or who's visiting to head over to the glorious east to check out the street art on offer.  Even on a gloomy, rainy Tuesday, there was plenty to enjoy.




Standard proclamation:  I was invited to this event and in return took part in the tour and was gifted dinner.  And hilariously, a selfie stick.  As ever, all opinions, whether clever or inane, are entirely my own.

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Our Honeymoon, Day 6: Goodbye, Vegas and Hello, Hawaii!



 After a very happy stay in Las Vegas, we were up with the sun to head off on the next leg of our adventure.  I was quite sad to say goodbye to this view!


Very early morning selfie with the MGM lion.


Looking back over the Strip from the airport.


So fun to see Vegas signage throughout the airport...


...and slot machines!  There are card and slot machines throughout McCarran - I had to get a snap of this Dolly Parton themed one.

We flew from Las Vegas to Honolulu with Hawaiian, then island hopped across to Kona, on Big Island.



The service was lovely on Hawaiian and I very much enjoyed their inventive brunch menu, which included a range of treats inspired by the islands and their food and produce.  After dining I settled in to watch plenty of episodes of Big Bang Theory - any flight over the Pacific takes a good while!


Pacific blue for miles and miles.


Our first glimpse of Hawaii!


I loved how different and lush the topography was in comparison to the arid desert views of Las Vegas!  We paused at Honolulu then jumped on our quick flight to Kona (35 minutes!).  These little island hopper flighst reminded me a little of the ones up in the north of Scotland - quick and swift.  Once at Kona we drove up the Highway (I say we, I mean Matthew) to Waikoloa, where we were staying.  We checked in at the Marriott, then decided it was definitely time to get showered and change for a drink and some dinner!

Before settling in for the evening we took a little tour of the resort, the beaches, the swimmimg pools and the volcanic pool.  I saw a mongoose and lots of little, friendly, jet black lizards who were merrily darting in and out of the rocks.  After a while we repaired to the bar for delicious pulled pork sandwiches and a few drinks.


Love me a tropical cocktail.


Also loved getting to spend so much time with this guy!


As the sun set over Waikaloa we lingered over a couple of cool drinks, then turned in, pretty tired after a day of travelling, and excited to see what Big Island had to show us...





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