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A FANCY EVENING AT THE BARBARY ON GIBRALTAR'S SUNBORN YACHT.

Monday, 10 December 2018

If you're a regular on my blog, you may have spotted my post the other week about my brunch experience at The Barbary. After a lovely afternoon there, I was very happy to see an email land in my inbox inviting me back to try their dinner menu this time. Straight away I went on their website to check out what was on offer (anyone else look at the menu and decide what they're eating before they've even got to the restaurant?), and I'd already decided in my head on my starter, main and dessert before I'd even confirmed my visit. This time round I decided to take my mum with me and I'm glad I got to treat her to something. For those of you who are yet to visit The Barbary, their menu combines british, mediterranean and north african cuisines to bring us an explosion of flavour, spices and variety. So whether you're looking for some classics like fish and chips or a traditional vegetable Tagine there is something to cater for all palates. 



Whilst getting ready for this my mum asked me what I was wearing and after I told her my outfit choice she was all like 'you're wearing jeans to the Sunborn?!' - so I think she thought we were attending the Captain's dinner on a Cruise ship. The Barbary is a fancy restaurant but it's not pretentious either - it's somewhere you can go to in jeans and a nice top for a catch up with a friend, or dress elegantly for an anniversary dinner. The views in the evening are stunning and it does feel like you're having a fine dining experience on a modern day Titanic.

Once me and mum sat down we contemplated whether to order wine or not - but seeing as it was a Sunday we thought we'd keep it simple with a bottle of H2O. We were presented with the menus, and even though I mentioned I had previously decided on what I was going to order I found myself taking another look through because suddenly I realised there was a lot that looked good and I didn't know what I was in the mood for.

For starter - we shared a mezze plate of smoked aubergine with labneh, dukkah, walnuts pomegranate and cherry tomatoes (£6), and thinking back we should have probably asked for one each because half was not enough, it was delicious. I'm a big fan of pomegranate so anything that has that drizzled on is a yes from me. The flavours were great and the aubergine was cooked to a good level - not too soft or too hard. Originally I was going to opt for the hummus but my mum made a good point that I eat hummus at home on a daily basis and so I should be more adventurous in my choices.


For mains - my mum probably contemplated 3 other dishes before she finally went for the meat surf and turf (£28). I was originally thinking on the cinnamon spiced lamb shank but thinking ahead of dessert - I thought I better choose something lighter. So I went with the jospered sea bass which was accompanied with okra, pomegranate and saffron sour cream (£24). I really enjoyed my meal and the only thing I would have done differently is gone easier on the saffron sour cream as it's quite a strong 'sauce' and it overpowered the fish a bit. Again the pomegranate was a nice touch.


Finally for dessert, we decided to pick one each and then share. I suggested this because I was stuck between the raspberry cheesecake and the hazelnut pannacotta and so I hinted to my mum that these both sounded nice and luckily she agreed. As you can see at the top of this post, the cheesecake did not come in it's traditional layered form - but instead in little cute 'blobs' with crispy quinoa which was a nice touch. It was so thick and creamy that I could have probably have gone for seconds.

I really am a fan of this restaurant and think for a special evening it really is one of the nicest places in Gibraltar. From the service to the views, to the location and quality of the food - it is really an all round great dining experience.


Have you been to The Barbary yet? Where is your favourite place to eat at in Gibraltar?

G



* I was invited to The Barbary to review their dinner menu but all words and opinions are my own *









STORIES OF MY LIFE | MY JAW SURGERY EXPERIENCE, 8 YEARS LATER.

This post is long overdue, but since I wasn't blogging back when I was 16 the only way I could share my story and experience was through Facebook status updates. The other day I bumped into a friend  who told me that their partner was having the same surgery that I had, and I advised that if they had any questions to just drop me a message. The great thing about having a blog is that it allows me to share my experiences with people and be a point of reference for things other people may also be curious about - such as laser hair removal or laser eye surgery. I know whenever I'm getting anything done the first thing I do is either get in touch with people who have gone through the same thing or find people's stories on Google. Which is why I'd like to share my experience today on my corrective jaw surgery that I had in 2010. 

tea with gi

What is corrective jaw surgery?


Just as it sounds, corrective jaw surgery corrects the placement of the jaw - whether you have an open-bite, under-bite (your lower jaw sits further forward than your top), or an over-bite where your top jaw sits too far forward. 

What procedure did I have done and where? 


I had my surgery conducted at Morriston Hospital in Swansea, Wales - and I spent around 5 days there (it would have been less, but I also got hit with appendicitis). My surgeon was great and he is quite known for performing cleft lip operations and for reconstructive surgery. 

My procedure was a bit complicated. The whole issue probably started when I was 9 years old because I was still sucking my thumb whenever I'd be watching tv, reading in bed, or doing anything at home really. The problem with my thumb being in my mouth all the time, was that my top teeth weren't able to grow down to their natural place - so I was left with an open bite that braces couldn't fix. I tried braces anyway, which after 2 years did all they could do, but when I bit down I was still left with gap at the front that could fit a sidewards olive through. 

After consulting with my dentist, he advised me that surgery would only fix my bite for now, but in a couple of years there would be a chance of my teeth moving again.  So in the end I had to make my problem worse for it to get better. I had to get metal rings inserted between all my bottom back teeth to 'move' my teeth and jaw forward, and elastics attached to my braces to change my bite. So essentially, they created an underbite over the span of a couple of months so that with surgery they could permanently fix it and the open bite together in one go.  

The operation. 


In the end I had my bottom jaw moved 8mm back and my top jaw moved 3mm forward, my chin bone was also made more prominent, and in moving the position of the jaw I found that the profile of my nose also changed as it was tilted slightly more upwards. I was in surgery for around 6 hours, initially it was meant to be 4, but things still went smoothly. I had two metal screws inserted on the side of my jaw (near my ears) and a small metal plate on my chin bone - strangely enough none of these beep when I'm going through airport security. 

I was told from other people that I'd be on a liquid diet for 2 weeks after, so beforehand I literally pigged out on everything I liked - only to be told by the doctor that I could go back to eating regular foods within 2 days - oops. Although that wasn't really the case, it took me two months before I could open wide enough and bite down on a KitKat Crunchie. I spent the first week or so eating soft foods like jacket potato with tuna, soup etc. and nothing that required a hard bite (or a wide mouth). 

The months following after. 


These weren't easy - I opened up on another post about how I went through a time of depression. I was getting bullied at school because my face was swollen up like a pufferfish for months, and I didn't want to leave the house or go out at night because I felt like people were staring at me. It took around a year for all of my swelling to disappear, and once that dark storm had passed things only went up hill from there. 

I started gaining my confidence back, had started a-levels again and was ready for a new start. I got my braces removed in the summer and soon after booked myself for laser teeth whitening to complete my new smile (might as well after everything else I had been through!). I can't stress enough though if you are thinking of having your teeth whitened, to make sure you do it through a dental clinic as with at-home kits you run the risk of damaging your teeth or increasing their sensitivity. I know someone who bought a kit from eBay and they got a gum infection and their teeth ended up turning more yellow and had constant bleeding gums. I had my teeth whitening done in a clinic and it means you know you're getting the correct treatment and that it's safe, causing minimum damage to your teeth.

I think after everything I went through with my mouth this definitely helped boost my confidence, and for a period of time I just wanted to flash my teeth as much as possible. The effects you get straight after laser teeth whitening won't stay like that forever, but if you follow a good dental hygiene routine then they should at least stay nice and white. 

8 years later - do I have any regrets?


None whatsoever. Even though I went through a tough period of my life after my operation, what I got out of it in the long run trumps that. I finally have a smile I'm not embarrassed to show, I can actually use my front teeth to tear mayonnaise packets, and my thumb-sucking habit is long gone. I do sometimes wonder what my face would have looked like had I not had surgery, but the fact is my face changed so much prior to my operation when preparing for it that essentially my 24 year old face could have gone 3 ways! I know we all preach about being happy with the body that you came in, but if you think changing something will have a positive effect on you and your wellbeing, then you do you.

tea with gi



G



* This post was written in collaboration with Pembroke Dental but all words and opinions are my own *









24 HOURS OF WAFFLES, CHOCOLATE AND SIGHT-SEEING IN BRUSSELS, BELGIUM.

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

I've had quite a few city breaks this year, which means I've got quite good at condensing my trips and making sure we see as much as possible in a short space of time. Last year I treated my mum to a trip to Copenhagen, and this year after searching on SkyScanner and seeing where we could fly direct to through Malaga Airport, we decided on Brussels (and Bruges but I'll save all that for the next post). Brussels, also known as the European capital of culture (and EU politics) had a lot to offer in terms of food, drink and activities. Even though we didn't have a lot of time to explore, we still managed to pack quite a lot in and get a taste of Brussels vibrant culture. Here's my guide to a day in Brussels, Belgium.

tea with gi brussels guide


10AM | GO SEE THE SIGHTS.


The first thing you usually do when visiting a new city, is Google 'things to see is Brussels' which is exactly what I did. After reading a couple of Pinterest posts I compiled a list of the things that were worth seeing and that you could walk to (apart from the Atomium, you'll have to take the metro for that). 

  • Grand Palace 
  • Town Hall
  • Manneken Pis - be prepared to be dissappointed. 
  • Jeanneke Pis
  • The Monnaie Opera
  • St Nicolas' Church
  • The Royal Square
  • Mont des Arts - especially beautiful at sunset or in the evening. 
  • Atomium
  • Galeries Royales Saint-Hubert - here you will find the chocolate shop Mary's where you can try the new fourth type of chocolate - Ruby.
  • St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral - If you ask a local, they'll tell you this is the church of St. Gudula not St. Michael, and her 'miracle' was lighting a candle that had gone out in the forest.              

grand place brussels

12:30PM | LUNCH AT LES FILLES


This place was very homely and the food was delicious and you definitely got your moneys worth. The menu changes everyday and all their ingredients are fresh and organic. They start by serving you a starter (usually a soup, salad or homemade terrine). There is then a buffet of lovely home cooked food and dessert for you to help yourself to - although buffets are always dangerous for me because I don't know when to stop. 

1:30PM | MINI-EUROPE AND ATOMIUM.


So I had a mind blank on what the proper name for the Atomium was so had to google 'ball monument in Brussels' and voila. It's not a very exciting thing to see but it is right next Mini-Europe* which on the other hand, is very cute and interesting for all ages. The attraction is just as it suggests, it allows you to get a glimpse of most of Europe in just a couple of hours - thanks to their 350 models representing different landmarks and sites from around the continent.

mini europe brussels


mini europe brussels

We got a lovely day for it as the sun was shining, which meant we could get all those great pics for the gram. We saw models from over 90 countries - there were the expected ones such as the Eiffel Tower and The Eiffel Tower but I was impressed to see some other places that I'd visited on my travels before. Such as the Szechenyi thermal baths in Budapest and the Blue Church in Bratislava that I saw IRL just a couple of weeks ago! Sadly the Rock of Gibraltar hasn't quite made it to Mini-Europe, but here's hoping we will see it there someday!

bratislava mini europe

There were guides available to give you information and details about each monument and tell you stories about each one - so if you've ever wanted to find out the origin of 'Big Ben', why the Venetian gondolas are black, or why there are more saunas than cars in Finland then this is the place to do it all in under 2 hours.

mini europe

We were kindly given complimentary access to the park for the purpose of this post, but standard prices for the park are 15.50 euros for adults, and 11.50 euros for children. 

3PM | WAFFLE AND CHOCOLATE TIME. 


I didn't know it was possible to do so much damage in two days. If I thought we'd had too much chocolate in 1 day in Brussels, we topped that when we went to Bruges the following day. Belgium is mostly famous for two things - chocolate and chips, so of course in every corner you will find a Chocolatier and frites shops. Neuhaus is a chain that sells good quality chocolate, and the general rule is that if the boxes look to cheap to be true, then they're probably not made in a very fair-traded manner. What we did is go in to every other shop and buy a couple of individual chocolates and cuberdons (like a hard jelly with a sugary outer crust and a gooey inside). 

Since it was getting a bit chilly, we stopped inside Gaufres de Bruxelles for a vanilla latte and waffle. I opted for a 'Gaufre de Liege' which I thought meant it was lighter, but alas they are both just as calorific guys. I covered mine in Dulce de Leche and it was worth every calorie. 

gaufres de bruxelles

4PM | FREE WALKING TOUR OF BRUSSELS 


If you're short on time then I always recommend free walking tours because they're a good way to see most of the points of interest and find out what's so interesting about them. We got a lovely guide called Adalin and you could really tell he was passionate about his country (and beer). It always helps when they're actually from the country and not someone who moved there two years ago, as they really give you an insight into the culture and their own personal stories and views. I can confidently say I've retained 80% of the information and stories he shared with us - and I even found myself Googling 'Queen Fabiola' to see pictures of her with an apple on her head at a ceremony, which she did to mock the guy who was sending her death threats.

I also managed to drink a whole pint of beer for the first time in my life, because after being the only person to raise my hand in a group of 30 when asked 'who here doesn't like beer', our guide promised me that there was a Belgian beer that I was going to enjoy - kriek! Simply because it was made from sour morello cherries, and I love my cherries.

kriek beer


The walking tour takes place at 10am, 11am and 4pm from the Grand Place/Grote Markt everyday. I suggest you get there a bit earlier simply so you can take in the beauty of the square - it's probably one of the most beautiful ones I've seen.

7:30PM | DINNER AT MANHATTN'S BURGERS


If you're staying in the centre of Brussels then this place might be a bit of a walk away (30 mins) or a couple of stops away to Louisa Metro station. Since this happened to be where our hotel was it was only a 10 minute walk away from us. These burgers were gooooood. The place is very New York burger joint-esque with its yellow bulbs and of course each burger is named after a place or thing associated to New York. I went for the Rockefeller burger which was your standard cheese, bacon , BBQ sauce and caramelised onions one and I was very content with it. They also served a 'special' sauce with the fries which I think was a blend of mayo, mustard and something slightly spicy. 



Once your tummy is nice and full I think the only thing you're going to want to do is go and flop in your nice hotel bed and fall asleep within 2 minutes. Now for some practical information. 

WHERE TO STAY IN BRUSSELS

Accommodation in Brussels tends to be on the more expensive side, but if you book in advance or you're fine staying in budget hotels/hostels then you shouldn't have a problem. We stayed at the very charming boutique hotel Made in Louise which was 5 metro stops away from Brussels Central station, or a 30 minute walk. However Louisa is where you can find many shops and nice restaurants and is one of the nicest areas of Brussels. 

made in louise brussels


As much as I love being treated to 5 star hotels, there's something more homely and cosy about staying in smaller boutique hotels that have more of its individual character to them. We stayed in a standard double room and it had all the basics we needed - a desk, a bath/shower, comfy pillows and free Wi-Fi. I thought a nice touch was that in the bathroom they gave you a little kit complete with wipes, cotton buds, and a hair net. There was complimentary tea/coffee/herbal teas in the reception area, and a more extensive snack area with things you could purchase. Breakfast was also served for 10 euros per person. 

made in louise brussels

GETTING AROUND IN BRUSSELS 


Once you're in the centre you can see most of the sites by foot, but as mentioned to see the Atomium and Mini-Europe you will have to get the metro. To get from the airport to the centre, we took a direct train that took 20 minutes and cost us 9 euros. We took a taxi on our way back to the airport and it cost us 35 euros through the hotel. Metro journeys cost 1.50 euros per single journey, or you can buy a day ticket for 7 euros. The lines are pretty easy to understand and come quite often. 


That's it guys! I actually liked Brussels a lot more that I thought I would. I thought it was just going to be some business hub with little character, but it was the complete opposite. I also liked that I got to practice my French and felt smug when I could buy my train tickets in French (don't worry you can change it to English). What I noticed about the city is that it is a very multi-cultural place and everyone seemed very welcoming - I'd deffo like to come back. Have you every been to Brussels yourself? What were your highlights? 

G

* I received complimentary entry to Mini-Europe and a media rate for our hotel stay - but all words and opinions are my own *


brussels travel guide


10 LITTLE THINGS WE CAN ALL DO TO HELP THE ENVIRONMENT.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Whether you're a blogger, influencer, youtuber, or just a person with a social media account on the internet. I think every now and again we should be using our platforms to spread a bit of awareness and positivity. Twitter is especially good for this - I really think that platform brings to light a lot of matters. So today, I'd like to talk about ways we can all do our bit for the environment, starting from home. 

tea with gi environment

1. Guys, Recycle!


If you're going to do one thing then this should probably be where to start. I know for a lot of people it might seem like a hassle to wash out your cans before throwing them and shiz but it really doesn't take up that much more of your time. We took the initiative in the office as well and have boxes dedicated to plastic and cardboard, which I nicely decorated with pictures. This doesn't just have to be in terms of your rubbish - if you are renovating your home then choosing to buy 'second-hand' rooms can also be cost-effective and helpful. Used Kitchen Exchange recycle and resell old kitchens, and if you have a look at their website some of these units are beautiful. They also go the extra mile by recycling old kitchens that can't be sold. 

2. Buy a re-usable bag.


I'm the first to say there are many times where I'm in the supermarket and I've forgotten to bring mine with me. So unless I'm only carrying 2 apples I'm gonna have to buy one (but they are reusable!). I bought a cute one from ale-hop for a couple of euros and I use it most days to carry my food to work and other bits. 

3. Stop buying plastic bottles.


I'm proud to say I haven't bought a plastic bottle of water in a loooong time. Although I did take the complimentary one from my hotel in Bucharest. Amazon sells a large variety of pretty aluminium bottles in all sizes, so you can make sure it fits into your gym bag or backpack (or if you want to make sure you're getting your 2L a day). 

4. Try and cook with what you have first.


The amount of food we waste is incredible, so a good habit to get into is cooking with the stuff you have in your fridge and pantry before you go and do another Asda shop. When I was in uni I'd try and be really healthy and buy loads of veg and then by the end of the week I'd have to throw half of it because it had gone bad - so that's another thing to watch out for. 

5. Be more digital.

40% of the world’s commercially cut timber is used for paper (oooooo look at me bringing in facts), and really a lot of the time we don't really need to take things back to old school paper and pen. I always find it such a waste when businesses print all these brochures and flyers when we know that we consume stuff better through the digital world. This Christmas, sending cards via Paperless Post might also be a good alternative. 

6. Make the most of public transport.


I mean I do this anyway because I still don't have my driving license, but even if I did I think it would be more hassle to take out my car, drive for 10 minutes, and have to find a parking space on my way home than to just take the free bus system that Gibraltar has. Or, if the sun is shining and the birds are singing, walk! (if it's less than half an hour away of course).

7. Eat a little less meat (and dairy).


I'm not vegan, although I did take part in Veganuary in January and I'm hoping to do the same in 2019. The Environmental Working Group found that red meat is responsible for 10 to 40 times as many greenhouse emissions as common vegetables and grains - so we could do with cutting it out of our diets for a day or two. If you need a little bit of inspiration I asked 15 vegans what their favourite recipes were

8. Participate in clean-ups.


Now and again my family take part in beach clean-ups and it makes for quite a rewarding day out. I'm not saying you have to go picking up everyones rubbish you see on the street because, gross - but giving something back to the community now and again is good. 

9. Become a shower person.


To be honest I've never been much of a bath person - I get bored easily and it's horrible getting out into the cold once the water has gone cold. I much prefer a sing in the shower with boiling water to wash away my sins. 


10. Turn off the bloody lights!!


That's all. 



Do you do any of these yourself? Would love to know what else you do to help the environment! 

G


* This post was written in collaboration with UKE but all words and opinions are my own *


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