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Guernsey looks so pretty when its sunny.  

I know everywhere looks much better when you’ve had a natural shot of Vitamin D and I may be bias, but Guernsey just seems to look better than the rest (Jersey, I’m looking at you).  The flowers bloom, the sea turns a Mediterranean shade of blue and the birds all sing a little bit louder.  It just becomes a little bit of heaven in the English Channel.

While I’m predominantly back home under the pretence of working on my dissertations literature review, I can’t help but want to explore when the sky is blue and there isn’t a cloud in sight.  With two dogs in tow, my mum and I headed to Jerbourg for a cliff walk.  With a view over both Herm and Sark on a clear day, the cliffs on the south east side of the island are spectacular and we weren’t surprised to see other islanders and tourists sunning themselves while enjoying an ice cream at the car park kiosk where we started our walk.

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None of these photos are edited, Guernsey is just really this great (I may be bias)

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As we meandered around the coast line it struck me how lucky I am to have a place so beautiful to call home.  I think most people who have grown up on Guernsey have at one time or another, cursed the day they were born on the tiny island.  A small island community can be suffocating at times and you only have to glance at Guernsey eBay to see this frustration in action – simultaneously hilarious and slightly worrying, besides all the moaning, I once saw someone trying to sell an old toilet brush!?  But, after heading off to University and living in my fair share of student dives with little more than a view over the bins for the last 4 years, I find that I’ve developed a heightened appreciation for all things Guernsey.

One of those little bits of my little island paradise which I can’t help but love is Moulin Huet, a bay which is often forgotten even by those who live on the island.  While the beach is great and is rarely jam packed, the best thing about it is the tearoom which you’ll pass on your way down to the blue seas.

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Run by the lovely, Susanna, Moulin Huet tearooms is a cake lovers heaven with homemade treats made by Susanna and her mum every day.  After our walk, I managed to exercise some great restraint and ordered a Guernsey crab sandwich with a chilli and ginger jam and coriander while my mum jumped right in with the fruit scone complete with jam and cream.

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I wouldn’t usually go for crab but this was so tasty I ordered it again the next time I went a few days later.  I’d love to recreate the chilli and ginger jam at home so I can enjoy this more while at Uni!  After finishing up my sandwich I soon became rather jealous of my mums scone and after having a nibble, my resolve broke and I ordered one for myself.

Moulin Huet tearooms is just about as idyllic as they come and these scones are the best I have ever tasted (I’m craving one as I write this) so if you’re on island – or not – make the trip down now for a little taste of heaven while the sun is still shining!  You will not regret it.  

Heres a little extra treat for all you people sat at your desks working, writing, procrastinating whatever you’re doing, just enjoy this:

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A while ago, my family and I went to The Hook, one of Guernsey’s newest restaurants which fast became one of my favourites.  Not just because it served up melt in the mouth steaks and fresh seafood, but because of its sushi menu.  It seems ridiculous but The Hook is one of the few places on an island –  which is surrounded by sea and all things fishy – that serves up a comprehensive sushi menu.  My little isle was woefully in the past when it came to the Japanese delicacy, with most people having to brave an early morning scuffle in the deli aisle of M&S to get a taste – albeit, a not very good or authentic one.  Alas, The Hook has saved the day.  Not only has it provided sit down meals full of the fishy stuff, it also does take away lunch boxes; cue town workers across the island accidentally leaving their lunches at home as an excuse to pick up some midday sushi.

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Kenzo dress // 3.1 Phillip Lim Mini Pashli bag // Topshop boots (old)

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This Wednesday my family and I made the hop, jump and skip to the town front for a spot of sushi and steak.  While the sushi restaurant is mainly housed downstairs, you can order from both the A La Carte and sushi menu upstairs, so you have the best of both worlds. 

I wore my Kenzo fit and flare dress with my Pashli as well as my Topshop boots which I think I’ve worn in every OOTD so far?!  While the Kenzo dress was an eBay bargain (shhh) I understand why people buy them at full price, it fits like a dream and is oh so comfy even after a three course meal.  I think I’ll be repeating this outfit when I head to the LOOK offices for work experience in a couple of weeks time.  This will be my third trip to the IPC offices in London for work experience at LOOK and I’m really looking forward to it, everyone there is lovely and they all make a real effort to give interns ‘proper’ jobs, just check out my post about my last time there here if you need further proof.  Possibly the best work experience ever. 

Anyway, back to the FOOD! 

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I started off with a small Okimari platter of sushi with maki rolls and nigiri pieces.  While my dad went for the seafood ceviche, which was presently differently to one which I had at our last visit.

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Small but mighty

While I had intended to keep it all raw, I ended up salivating at the thought of surf and turf, something which is becoming a bit of a (bad) habit for me at the moment.  Last time I wrote about The Hook, I actually pointed out that they were missing out of a trick by not having a surf and turf option on their menu so I was happy to see this had changed!  Meat and seafood, the way to every carnivores heart! 

My steak came with Bone Marrow Jus and my Lobster was smothered in a deliciously buttery garlic sauce which complimented the meaty lobster.   My steak was cooked to perfection and melted at the touch of the knife (I’m sat drooling at the thought after having a typically underwhelming student dinner).  

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Claws out

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Dessert for me was just white chocolate ice cream, which I ended up sharing with my dad – who doesn’t eat chocolate apparently.  

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While I didn’t eat too much of the sushi on offer this time, I can promise it’s all good with their Seabass and Truffle Soy Rolls being a personal favourite of mine.

The Hook is always adding to their repertoire of dishes and hopefully in the future they’ll add even more sushi dishes so I can spend my trips home making my way through the menu and burning a hole in my pocket.

Its back to student cooking now though…

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The saying ‘good things come in small packages’ has never been so appropriate than right now!

Balenciaga, Celine and Proenza Schouler have all miniaturised some of their most popular designs begging the question to whether big really is better? 

As a lover of bags and with my birthday around the corner, I set out researching which sartorial accessory I’d be adding to my growing collection.

After some serious research, the nano on my wishlist was the the Phillip Lim mini Pashli in classic black.  As there is nowhere in Guernsey that you can buy Phillip Lim bags (step your game up Guernsey retail) I spent evenings Googling pictures of people wearing them – sad, I know –  to check the proportions.  Although most websites now provide pictures of models wearing the bags on offer It’s always helpful to Google a few bloggers and see how it hangs on them and what they have to say about it, as you don’t want something to turn up which you thought would work as a weekend bag when really it’s the size of a coin purse!

After arriving home on to Guernsey on Friday to a Monniere Freres box on my bed, I was I admit, a little bit giddy and opened my parcel pre-birthday bash on Sunday.  Naughty but oh so necessary.  

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Zips down, you saucy minx!

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‘Pashli’ is Russian for ‘let’s go’, a term which perhaps stems from the popular bag’s origins in the humble motorcycle bag and only serves to endear me to the design more.

While the medium version of the pashli can hold a 13-inch Macbook amongst other things (old receipts, numbers on forgotten pieces of paper, pens without lids and a diary which hasn’t been updated since your last organisational breakdown) while it’s mini sibling is just the right size for your daily necessities minus the useless bric-a-brac.  I’ve already used my Pashli several times over the weekend and love how my camera fits in perfectly alongside everything else.

I’m looking forward to slinging my new love over my shoulder as a cross body bag, zips down when I go to New York at the end of May.  Yes, I am already planning outfits. 

Have you got a mini bag on your wishlist?  Have you got any ideas of what I should do when I visit the Big Apple?  More importantly, any restaurant recommendations?  

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On Friday the Ayre family had cause for celebration.

With Mothers Day, my birthday and most importantly, Rob’s moving day all today, we thought we’d get a head start on the weekend’s festivities and head out for some good food.

The obvious choice for a celebration in Guernsey is to head to Da Nello’s.  An italian restaurant which has become an institution on the island because of it’s unchanging menu, good food and relaxed atmosphere.

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After taking some family photos and sipping on some obligatory champagne, it was time to chow down.  My order?  Carpaccio of beef for starters and lobster linguini for my main.  I can’t remember a time when I didn’t order this at Nello’s and I’m not about to change it.  The carpaccio is still the best I’ve ever eaten, with a bed of rocket underneath, lashings of parmesan shavings and some capers piled on top for good measure, while the lobster linguini is served in a rich and creamy sauce and with a fantastically meaty lobster to pasta ratio.

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My mum went for the scallops, which I was a little bit jealous about.  Don’t worry, these lonely mollusks were soon joined by plenty of sides.  P1000639

While the food was top notch, the conversation quickly spiralled into tales of debauchery, with my brother, Tom recounting a hilarious story which would make any self-respecting woman blush.

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While I finished the meal with a classic but unrefined trio of ice creams, my mum went for the meringue which was smothered in a deliciously smooth chocolate sauce.  I was turning green with food envy.

The food is always good at Nello’s so no surprises there, but the meal was also a fitting goodbye to my eldest sibling, Rob who flew off to New York today to start his new life in the Big Apple.  I’ll miss having him around at home when I come back for holidays but, I am meagerly anticipating visiting my Trans-Atlantic brother in May when my mum and I head over the pond for a sneaky trip away.  In typical Josie-style I’ve already got an itinerary set for the trip and we’ve got tickets to see James Franco and Chris O’Dowd in Steinbeck’s Of Mice & Men.  I am very proud of Rob for making the move, however, I will always be bitter that he hijacked my birthday to do so!  You’ve got some making up to do!

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Today was one of those days where you plan to organise your life, but your resolve is quickly broken by food and friends.

This morning was spent in the library trying to make sense of my next assignment while the afternoon was reserved for a lunch and light hearted chatter with Emily and Zoe, two of my course mates.  Zoe, Emily and I had organised to meet for a quick lunch at Quilliam Brothers, a quaint little tea shop which sits on the corner of Newcastle University’s main campus.  The perfect meeting place for studious students, Quilliam’s serves Newcastle’s widest ranging variety of teas as well as classic northern stotties, soups and a delightful array of cakes and brownies.

I opted for an Indian chicken stottie and a pink lemonade from Fentimans while Emily and Zoe both picked the soup of the day, butternut squash.

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Stottie perfection

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Just when things looked like they were wrapping up, we quickly spotted the opportunity for further procrastination and grabbed the nearest board game near us.  Vowing to play just one quick game of Snakes and Ladders, we soon broke our promises and found ourselves still sat in our seats three hours later after moving onto Scrabble with the remenants of a caramel brownie, carrot cake and some chocolate fudge cake sat next to us.

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Masters life.

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I’d actually never played a full game of Scrabble before, so I was technically still learning today.

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I’ll definitely be spending some more afternoons in Quilliams, wasting my precious hours tasting all the cakes on offer and broadening my board game repertoire (next is Cluedo)!

Work is gearing down in preparation for the Easter holidays, however with 7 deadlines in May, I’m getting a head start on all the work that will inevitably catch up with me.  This week is going to be a bit hectic with meetings, lectures, packing and a few other exciting things all happening within the space of 5 short days but I’ll be heading home on Friday for a few short days of R&R at home, before heading to London for a week of work experience with the ladies at LOOK magazine again.  I’m excited to head home as it’s my birthday (on the 30th, hint hint) and I’ll also be waving my brother off as he starts his new life in New York and of course, I’ll be spending some time with this little delight:

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Love of my life.

Have you got any exciting plans for Easter?

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I have a confession.  I am irrevocably obsessed with Tumblr.

During my final year exams I found myself signing up for anything which would stem the boredom of revision.  Survey taker? Yeah!  Hard spin class?  Sign me up!  Tumblr…?  Um, okay then.  And thus, my newest love affair began.  Just call it the Kim to my Kanye.  

Scrolling through endless pictures of landscapes, interior designs and clothes, accessories and shoes which I can only aspire to own has quickly become my go-to past time and I often find myself burning the midnight oil refreshing my homepage.  Sad, I know.  

As the new University term is starting I should probably start weening myself off this stellar procrastination tool but I’m going to add some fuel to the fire by requesting your Tumblr’s!  Gimmie Gimmie Gimmie! 

P.S. The lovely Allie from Love From Misbehave! kindly named me the site’s ‘Blog of The Week’ and asked me to answer a few questions so if you want to look at what I said, click here.

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After a chaotic summer of travelling around, I’m finally back home!

From Ibiza to Paris, I’ve taken 14 flights this summer and feel like I’ve dragged a suitcase around with me everywhere I’ve been!  I am the Departure Lounge Queen. 

After settling at home for a few days, I ventured into St. Peter Port to have a nosey around the shops and although I had resolved that I would refrain from spending any money, I accidentally picked up this little – okay, huge – stunner of a necklace.  Oops.

The bib style has been around for a while and a few weeks ago I was seriously considering investing in an almost identical golden beauty from Topshop but at a hefty £50 my student budget was not permitting.  BUT, fear not!  This New Look version is an absolute bargainous £19.99 and also comes in gold!  Necklaces for everyone!  

I’m also particularly fond of this Zara bomber jacket which I picked up a few weeks ago while I was on work experience in London.  It’s become a staple in my wardrobe as it goes with just about anything and makes an everyday outfit (cami and jeans) a little bit more special.  The overall pattern is floral but the cuffs and pockets have a tartan lining which is a subtle nod to the upcoming AW13 trend.

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Necklace – New Look / Bomber Jacket – Zara / Dress – Topshop / Shoes – Nike / Sunglasses – Ray Ban / Dog – POA 

I’ve still got a couple of weeks of summer home comforts before I head off to Newcastle University to begin an MA in Journalism and Media!  I’m a little nervous  – okay, a lot – as I don’t know too many people in the city but I’m looking forward to exploring, perfecting my Geordie accent and playing Bingo every Thursday with my gran who lives up North!

Anyone want to be my friend in Newcastle…? Anyone…? 

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When I was little, I spent a weekend of each summer chasing my brothers around the dusty lanes of Sark on a rented bicycle.  Back then it was a family tradition that we would visit the island together every summer and stay in the beautiful Aval du Creux for a mini break.  My brothers and I would spend our days playing with the hotels dog, discovering new boltholes and playing make believe all over the tiny island.  As we all got older and started to go our own ways our family trips to Sark were no longer and until this week I hadn’t visited the island for years!

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Vintage shot! Check out my chubby cheeks!

Sark is a hidden gem of the English Channel.  With only a few tractors roaming the island, it’s a tranquil haven with crystal blue seas, stunning scenery and rare wildlife.  In the day, the island is devoid of the everyday noise which clutters our lives back home and at night, Sark is one of the best places in the world for stargazing.

When my boyfriend, Ross came to visit me in Guernsey this week, I knew that a trip down memory lane with him in tow was a must.  We took the 50 minute boat over and then jumped on the toast rack – a tractor which takes you up the rather large hill toward the main village – and rented a couple of bikes from Avenue Cycle Hire on the main street.  No need for directions, there is only one main road!  

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For our first stop of the day we decided to head towards Little Sark which lies to the South West of the main island.  It is accessible by a narrow isthmus – what a great word – known as La Coupee.  When I was younger, I would hold onto my mums legs as we crossed as I was terrified of falling (or being pushed by my brothers) down the steep cliffs on both sides.  But now, I can appreciate the short crossing for the amazing views instead of burying my face into my hands.

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With our minds now turning to the thought of food after all that strenuous bike riding, we set our sights on La Sablonnerie hotel and restaurant.  The charming cottage can play host to up to 22 guests whilst also providing an award winning restaurant service.  We chose to eat al fresco in the colourful garden which reminded me of Alice in Wonderland, just look how pretty it is! 

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Ross actually sporting a tan!  Proud!

Now to the important bit, the food.  Ross and I decided to share a Beef Carpaccio salad for the starter.  The salad had the most beautifully sweet dressing which complemented the tangy and raw beef.  We could have done with one portion each!  For the main, I chose to have a whole grilled lobster with garlic and herb butter while Ross went for duck.  The Lobster, which is locally caught, was highly recommended by the waiter – perhaps because it is one of the most expensive things on the menu – and was absolutely gorgeous.  It was a rather generous portion which was so deliciously meaty that I’d go back any day and eat it again.

For dessert I opted for a nostalgia inducing apple and blackberry crumble.  When I still had my horses my mum and I would go on hacks and pick the berries from the highest bushes which others couldn’t reach and then rush home to make a warming crumble.  The Sablonnerie version was served with some Darjeeling ice cream, something which I wasn’t familiar with but trust me it’s pretty great.  

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Eat Me! 

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Buttery vegetable goodness

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After stuffing our faces with posh grub, we were invited inside the bar to enjoy a complimentary sloe gin and chocolate truffles with the hotel’s owner, Elizabeth.  Do not give this a miss!  The sloe gin, while sweet is incredibly tasty and may now be my new favourite tipple.  

As our day came to an end, I attempted to give Ross a mini tour of the island complete with Ayre family stories but my sense of direction and lacklustre biking skills meant that we ended up back in a pub quicker than planned!  

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We had the most perfect day in Sark – apart from the few times I almost rode into some hedges – and I can’t wait to make a repeat visit with my family sooner than later!

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Can anyone tell me what my three favourite ‘s’ words are?

No, that naughty little four lettered word isn’t included you dirty minded people.  In true snack Queen style my favourite three ‘s’ words revolve around food.  Can anyone blame me? 

For me, sushi, seafood and steak are the Holy Grail, so when I heard that there was a new restaurant opening in Guernsey which served all three of these culinary delights, I subtly suggested to my father that we should try it out.  And by subtle, I mean I booked a table and told him after.

The Hook is presented over two floors with the ground floor being a sushi bar and the 1st floor being the main restaurant which serves steak and seafood.  We were booked into the 1st floor restaurant which is decorated with gunmetal grey walls and a window which over looks one of Guernsey’s town harbours.

I’m notoriously bad at making decisions, especially when it comes to food as I despise the dreaded food envy and with so many s-related delicacies being available to me at The Hook I stalled when it came to ordering.  Eventually I was coaxed away from my staple Scallops and persuaded to try the Seafood Ceviche for starters and I opted for the 8oz Angus Beef Fillet with Bone Marrow Jus for my main.  While we waited for our food to arrive we were presented with some garlic bread bits, olives with feta and my favourite little snack, chorizo.  

The Ceviche consisted of Scallops, Sea Bass and Mackerel and was the perfect starter for a hot summer’s day as it was light and served in a gorgeous chilli flecked sauce, but if you’re afraid of raw fish then this beauty probably isn’t for you.  The steak was  cooked as I like and presented with a tomato and mushroom with some french fries on the side.  The Bone Marrow Jus was absolutely gorgeous and made the steak a cut above the rest.  The only thing which I’d change about the menu would be the addition of a Surf & Turf option which my whole family agreed upon as we do love our seafood.  

My mum and I had been intrigued by the side of Punjabi Cauliflower on the menu so ordered it in the name of culinary experimentation.  The cauliflower came deep fried (perhaps defeating the object of vegetables) with a gorgeous curry paste accompaniment and although I probably won’t count these as 1 of my 5 a day I’d order them again (and again and again). 

I will 100% be returning to The Hook restaurant and am eagerly anticipating a trip to the sushi bar downstairs as well.  I’m sure I’ll become a regular.  

If you’re interested in visiting The Hook then check out their Facebook page here.

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raleighfooddiary It’s not often that I’m not thinking about food.  My relationship with food is perhaps a bit unhealthy, I’m not saying I need a nutritionist, just that I’m like an obsessed girlfriend.  I’m always asking about food, wondering when I’ll next see food and constantly thinking and writing about food.  I’m a woman obsessed.

There is no greater evidence of this one sided relationship than my gap year diary which I wrote when I was part of a Raleigh International expedition to Borneo.  Throughout the incredible ten weeks I spent with Raleigh my daily diet consisted of porridge for breakfast, crackers for lunch then rice or pasta for dinner with a selection of condiments and the occasional Nature Valley bar thrown in for good luck.  By no means am I implying that we were poor little volunteers who were starved and hard done by, this daily diet had been tried and tested over numerous expeditions and was nutritionally balanced for the types of activities we were doing.  I was even lucky enough to be placed on a three week project on the most gorgeous beach in Kudat where our rest days were spent making the half hour hike to Sanis, a small restaurant which served nasi goreng with seafood and chicken with an ice cold coke can for added luxury.  But the repetitive nature of our daily diet meant that I often went to bed dreaming about a lavish buffet filled with all my favourite foods, drinks and anything inbetween.

If you ever have the pleasure to read my travel diary, it’s important to note that the second page is dedicated to a list of foods which I wanted to eat when I arrived home.  My list was obviously well thought out, as I even stipulated that my apple crumble was to be homemade and my sausage roll had to come from a specific cafe in Guernsey.   I even went so far as to write my mum a letter where instead of telling her how this experience had changed my life, I gave her exact instructions on what should be stocked in our fridge and attached a list of all the foods I’d been dreaming of complete with detailed illustrations.  Perhaps I went a bit overboard.  

As a group, our working hours would be peppered with discussions about which meal we’d ask our loved ones to prepare for our return.  Roast dinners with huge boats of gravy often made the top of the list, whilst a medium rare steak was almost always a close second.  Both of these were prioritised on my ‘to eat’ list, of course.

The most surprising part of all this is that I can’t actually remember what I ate when I returned home.  I think the thought of food got lost in the storytelling of all my adventures and my appetite gave way to an intense need for sleep and a soft pillow.  I certainly did not tuck into a buffet made for a king (or a newly born Prince, cheeky Royal Baby reference) but I know for a fact I spent a couple of weeks raiding my fridge and had conveniently booked another getaway across America where I can assure you I ate my fair share of oversized-greased-up-man-v-food-style-dishes.

If you went travelling, what was your first meal at home?  What’s the first thing you crave?

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