Friday, 18 July 2014

Lake Garda - a dream holiday... one day!

I, like many of you I'm sure, have a mental list of all the places that I would like to visit before my number's up - Lake Garda being one of them!

Even after the end of summer, the Lake Garda is a place to discover, where you can relax among breathtaking panoramas, street food, fish and many other local products such as oil, high quality wines, restaurants and much more. Here are some ideas for an itinerary with suggestions for wineries visits, events, restaurants and hotels.

On Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th September, Ciottolando con Gusto will be on stage in Malcesine, with a sort of treasure hunt along the roads full of “ciottoli” of the medieval hamlet which overlooks the lake.

The event is dedicated to the discovery of the flavors of Garda Lake, from fish, to Garda Dop Olive Oil to the product of Monte Baldo. With the map of the little hamlet in hand, foodies will have the chance to choose among the different menus of the several bars, wine-shops, restaurants and pizzeria, which will join the initiative.

Each food & wine lover, thanks to a coupon that everyone can buy at the Ciottolando info point, will be able to create its personal menu, opting for a first course in a venue, and then the second course in another one and so on until coffee and dessert.

In the Giardino del Gusto, Via Navene, you will have the chance to buy the typical products of Monte Baldo, from cheese to honey, oil and many more.

Sunday, October 19th, the town of Malcesine will become the stage for Tutt'Olio, the event that will give tastings, walks among the olive groves and themed menus to discover one of the typical products of the Garda, its olive oil. The full program of the event will let you know this product in all its forms, from the tree to the table. A real journey in an all-round excellence of our country....

In case, you want to visit a winery….
Founded in 1936, Gerardo Cesari has soon become synonymous of the wines of Verona in the world. Thanks to the entrepreneurial spirit of Franco Cesari, in the early Seventies, Cesari Amarone is among the first wines in Valpolicella sold in the five continents. Just a few kilometers from the Lake Garda and from the city of Romeo and Juliet, the winery located in Cavaion Veronese offers to tourists and wine lovers the opportunity to get to know the place where the most popular wines of this area are born.

Cesari wines have been recently recognized abroad with the title of “Bester Amarone des Jahres 2013” assigned by MUNDUSvini 2013, one of the most important German wine contest.

In addition, in order to promote the culture of its territory, the winery has decided to support the Juliet Club, the association that replies to the thousands of letter to Juliet from all over the world. The Cesari wines are in fact becoming the wines of the lovers.

For a gourmet stop…
Leandro Luppi is the chef of the Restaurant Vecchia Malcesine, a little venue overlooking the small houses of Malcesine town centre.

Twelve years ago, Leandro arrived in this place after several working experience in Alto Adige and Trentino and took over a typical trattoria and bravely transformed it in a place of the taste, with a cuisine which combines the creativity of the chef with local seasonal products.

For a vacation spot …..
Villa Cordevigo Wine Relais is an 18th century Venetian Villa with formal Italian gardens and an age-old park which has recently be entirely refurbished as a 5 star hotel with its Oseleta Restaurant. The spectacular entrance along a drive flanked with tall cypresses leads to the Relais itself with its olive groves and woods, a 100 hectare estate on the hills of Cavaion Veronese above Lake Garda and just a few kilometers from the famous city of Verona.

Obviously, there are many more sights to see but these are now all on my list! Where would you love to visit?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Summer photography tips and tricks with Jessops' expert help!

Capture every moment spent with the children this summer! I love to take photo's of my children and the mischeif and mayhem that they sometimes get up to, but how to get the image right? Ian Savage, Head of Training at Jessops has these great tips for taking the perfect photo!

1. Child’s play
Kids rarely stay still long enough for you to take their picture, but instead of resorting to bribery to get them to sit down for a photo, start photographing them on the go. Either choose your camera’s sports mode or select shutter-priority and continuous AF. In both cases, your camera’s autofocus will keep your subject in focus, even when that’s a toddler wobbling around a playground on a bike with stabilisers. It really is child’s play to get a good shot!

2. Get together
Whether you’re enjoying a barbecue in the back garden or a walk in the park, it’s a great opportunity to get some photos of everyone together. And with just a bit of planning, you can get some lovely photo memories. Before you gather your group, scout out a good spot and think about your composition. All in one long line is boring, so consider arranging them in two lines; ask some to sit, or have the kids kneeling in front; or how about running towards you? Lines, by the way, don’t have to be horizontal; think vertically, too, and have fun!

3. Beautiful portraits
Taking portraits outdoors means you can work with lots of lovely daylight, and at this time of year you’ll be spoilt for choice when it comes to stunning natural backdrops. When you position your subject, make sure they won’t be squinting or pulling a face because the sun is in their eyes. Face them away from the sun – side lighting works well – and ask them to stand in a shaded area for a more flattering, less harsh light. Then all you need to do is turn the exposure mode dial to aperture-priority, focus on the eyes and take the shot!

4. Action shots
Feeling a bit more adventurous with your photography? Then try panning. This clever technique gives your photos a sense of movement. Pick the point you want to take the photo and face it, but then turn to the direction the subject will be coming from. Half press the shutter button, and without moving your feet, turn smoothly to follow the subject, fully press the shutter button at your chosen point to take the photo and continue to follow the subject out of shot.

5. Childproof!
Many cameras are waterproof, sand-proof, dust-proof and even drop-proof these days – so if you want to take great shots without worrying about the kids’ grubby hands, or damaging your new piece of kit, consider a camera that’s up to the challenge.

Recommended by Jessops: Ricoh WG-4 GPS
If you need a super-tough camera to take with you on your adventures, look no further than the Ricoh WG-4 GPS. It’s waterproof to 14m, shockproof to two metres, and can survive being crushed by 100kg weights: perfect if you want a camera that’s safe around kids, without compromising on quality.

I think I'll be putting this camera on my birthday list.... roll on September! 

Friday, 4 July 2014

Summer Food Tips

With the summer comes the sun (usually!). Here are ten top tips to help keep your tasty food safe over the summer months.
  1. Use small ice packs in your picnic bag to keep food cool, fresh and hygienic (especially anything that it dairy based).
  2. Add wet ingredients to sandwiches on arrival at your destination to avoid soggy bread.
  3. When picnicking, pack rubbish bags, so you can take your leftovers and packaging away with you.
  4. Don't attempt anything to grand - the most popular food is often the simplest. Quality, fresh ingredients always taste fabulous in the fresh air.
  5. Buy some simple mesh dome-shaped covers to keep insects away from salads and other foods.
  6. Stock up on paper napkins and hand-wash gel, and keep them in the car ready for impromptu picnics.
  7. Simple crudités with dips are great sharing food and work well for summer lunches and suppers at home or on a picnic.
  8. For sweet treats in summer, avoid chocolate, and opt instead for refreshing fruit salads and yoghurts, or finger foods such as flapjacks or shortbread.
  9. Use insulated containers to keep cold foods cold and hot foods hot.
  10.  Try herbal or mint tea, or iced coffee as a refreshing, thirst-quenching variation.
(These great tips come from The Co-Operative Food)

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Summer Raspberry Sweet Treats!

Summer is a time for picnics and al fresco eating, but what's a picnic without a sweet treat?! Combine your outdoor eating with a good walk and you've every excuse for a tasty dessert!

We love these simple Raspberry Shortbread Bites - prepare in advance and then assemble just before eating... delicious!

Ingredients (makes 6)
200g butter, softened
200g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
100g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
100g cornflour

150g raspberries, washed (other soft fruits will also work really well)
Clotted cream, fresh cream or butter icing, which ever is your preference
White chocolate chips/shavings

6 ready made meringue nests

  1. At home, make the shortbread. Pre-heat the oven to Gas 5. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper.
  2. With an electric hand mixer, cream the butter and sugar together for approx. 3-4 mins. Sieve the flour and cornflour into the mixture and combine with the mixer for a further 4-5 mins.
  3. Roll out onto a floured surface to a thickness of approx. 2cm. Cut into rounds with a 6cm cutter. Re-roll the dough and cut further shapes if required (any leftovers can be your taste-testers!)
  4. Bake in the oven for approx. 10 mins - the edges should be golden brown. Once out of the oven, sprinkle with a little sugar - coloured sugar looks a little bit more special! Leave on the tray for a couple of minutes to cool and then cool completely on a wire rack. The shortbread will keep for 2-3 days in an airtight container (if it lasts that long!)
  5. When you are ready to eat the delicious treats, place a meringue nest on your plate, top with a little cream, a sprinkle of white chocolate and a few raspberries. Finish off with a shortbread top and enjoy! 

So there we have it - my entry for the Sweet Treats category! I hope that you enjoy it as much as my family does.

This post is an entry for the #MorrisonsMum (or #MorrisonsDad) Summer Recipe eBook Challenge sponsored by Morrisons, which has recently cut prices on over a thousand every day products. Find out more here price checker tool.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Breaking down the barriers - understanding the logic behind *some* Welsh words!

Being able to 'analyse' Welsh words makes it easier to remember them and then translate new words as you come across them.

These are just five quick examples of words which you break down into smaller words which *might* help you to keep them firmly in your brain!

  • Cefnogaeth > cefn o gaeth > to have someone's back > to support

  • Cyfrifiadur > cyfrif i addurn > a counting ornament > computer 
    • anything beginning with cyfrif is to do with counting; cyfrifiannell is a calculator, cyfrif is to count, cyfrifydd is an accountant.

  • Llyfrgell > llyfr gell > a cell of books > library
    • oergell (cold cell > refrigerator) and rhewgell (ice cell > freezer) follow the same pattern, so anything with -gell is a container of something.

  • Ffermwr > fferm gŵr > farm man > farmer 
    • words ending in -wr are mostly someone who works somewhere; gyrrwr (gyrru gŵr) > driver, cyfreithwr (cyfraith gŵr) > solicitor, tafarnwr (tafarn gŵr) > landlord.

  • Modurdy > modur tŷ > motor house > garage
    • words ending in -dy/-ty are often a place where things are housed or work is done; ysbyty > hospital, gweithdy > workshop, gwesty > hotel. 
So, it makes sense to try and understand how the word is 'made', you will have a logical reminder of most words and be able to work out the unknown ones... well, some of them anyway! Of course, not all words DO follow a pattern, but it's a start!
Share some of your own tips below!

Monday, 2 June 2014

Welsh English words - a blend of two languages!

Although Welsh stands pretty strong as a language in it's own right, there are many, many borrowed words in the modern Welsh language. The spelling often looks very different to the English spelling, but when you say the word, all becomes clear!

Here are a few of my favourites!
  • fan > van
  • marmalâd > marmalade
  • trowsus > trousers
  • coffi > coffee
  • cwestiwn > question
  • plismon > policeman
  • beic > bicycle
  • sgarff > scarf
  • ffrog > frock/dress
I'll be adding to this list so keep checking back for updates! Have you got any more to suggest? Let me know in the comments!

Image via

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Language Learning - it's never too late!

Some of you may already know but for those who don't, I am learning Welsh and have been for the past 4 years or so. Now, when I look back it doesn't seem like I have achieved a lot in those 4 years... but I have! I'm confident enough to have a quick chat with Welsh speakers and can talk to the school teachers in Welsh - slightly stilted but I can do it!

So, I thought I'd write a series of blog posts to help other Welsh learners with their vocabulary, etc. This is by no means going to be a structured lesson plan(!) but just some hints and tips that I find useful.

Here's my list of 6 top tips 'dysgu Cymraeg'!
  1. Enroll in a class - you can learn loads of vocab at home via online courses but you cannot practice online like you do in a group situation. Lessons can be formal or much more informal so don't be scared by the 'classroom' aspect of it! One class local to me meets in the pub, so never say never!
  2. Read at least 5 minutes every day in your target language. I'm lucky that we have many Welsh books at home due to my children being educated in Welsh, but don't forget libraries will have a good selection of books available and you can request books to be ordered in if necessary.
  3. Try to use a few words in 'real life' each day. Even if you only say 'diolch' (thank you) when you've paid for your items in the shop, you'll get used to hearing your voice saying the 'strange' words!
  4. Talk to someone in Welsh as much as you can - the dog or cat is VERY useful for this. Again, it's just getting used to your voice sounding different (and the dog/cat will never criticise your accent!).
  5. Watch S4C or listen to Radio Cymru. The children's programmes on S4C (Cyw) are very useful as the language used is simple to understand and not over-complicated.
  6. It will not happen overnight! There have been some times when I've sat in a lesson and felt completely lost, but don't give up! Ask what you need to ask, as there's probably someone else wanting to ask exactly the same question as you but they aren't brave enough. So be the brave one!
Of course, these tips can be used when learning any language. So give it a go! Do you have any tips you'd like to share with us?