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Euro Road Trip Day 7: The Sound of Music Tour

IMG_9200 For my mom’s birthday, I decided to gift her with the Sound of Music bus tour. It was something she had told me she wanted to do, so Tim and I first thought about doing it on our own, but then in the end we decided to book the bus tour. Tim decided not to go with us today as he’s not a fan of the Sound of Music or bus tours. And honestly? I’m not really a fan of organised tours either. The last time I went on one was when I was visiting my friend in Germany and she had a lot of appointments one day, so she booked me on a tour out of Ramstein (her husband is USAF) and I hated it because it was designed for people who had never visited Germany and didn’t speak German. The Sound of Music Tour turned out to be fairly similar.

I booked the tour back in October through emailing the company and asking about available tours on the third (Mom’s birthday) because I knew I wanted to do it on her birthday. We reserved it at a cost of €42 per person. That’s A LOT of money for people who have mostly done things on a budget. But it was mom’s birthday. And I wasn’t going to send her on it by herself, so I had to book a ticket for myself too.

The tour takes four hours, and at first you think it’s pretty ambitious, considering the website lists 6 stops:

-Mirabell Gardens
-Leopoldskron Palace
-Hellebrun Palace
-Nonnberg Abbey
-St Gilgen
-Mondsee

Except that it doesn’t actually have 6 stops. It has a “hey, here’s a drive past some of the lakes and oh, we’ll stop at this overlook for photos” kind of stop, 2 stops that were basically get off the bus and walk to see a single thing and then leave, and over an hour in Mondsee. We never saw Mirabell Gardens. The tour guide claimed that most of the city was shut that day for a bicycle race….except that Tim had just driven into the centre of Salzburg to drop us off an hour prior and there were NO road closures and NO diversions. We were told that due to this race, they were doing the tour “backwards” and we would hit the gardens at the end….but then we actually somehow managed to run out of time even though we had started the tour 15 minutes early.

I’m not entirely sure what the St Gilgen stop even was. I guess that was when we stopped at a scenic overlook over Wolfgangsee? The tour guide never said the words St Gilgen, so I’m not sure if we did this or what it was. We did drive through part of the lake district though (to get to Mondsee).

Our stop at Mondsee was largely unplanned. We were told how to find the basilica, but left to our own devices to get to it and walk around it or to explore Mondsee. I did wish we had more time in Mondsee only because I really only had time to walk to the basilica, walk around it, and walk back to the coach. I would have loved to have walked to the lake front.

Our next stop was Hellebrun Palace to see the iconic gazebo used in the ’16 going on 17′ song:

And the stop literally was a hop off the bus and a walk through the back gates of the palace gardens straight to the gazebo for a 10 minute photo shoot before returning to the bus for the drive to Leopoldskron.

Leopoldskron palace was used as the back of the Von Trapp home….sort of. They don’t show the bak of Leopoldskron, but we see the lion statues and the gate that opens up to the lake as seen in this scene:

So naturally, the tour takes us to the park on the opposite side of the lake so we can see those lion statues and the gate. Leopoldskron is now a hotel, so you probably could go there for a meal and then get to see the statues and gate up close.

And that was basically it! We then were vaguely shown the outside of Nonnberg (“see that red roof?”) before returning to Mirabellplatz and the end of the tour, where we were told we could freely roam Mirabell Gardens if we wanted (how nice of them, it’s FREE), but the tour was over. Mom and I wound up grabbing a tram to get a train to Pfarrwefen to meet Tim and go see our next accommodation.

Our tour guide was an older gentleman, and you could tell because his jokes seemed to be dating back to the 90s. He also definitely assumed that all of his patrons were American and were unfamiliar with Salzburg and Austria in general and he spent too much time telling us about the owner of Red Bull and the Red Bull Headquarters we drove past!

Value for Money
If all 6 stops were genuine stops, then this would be a great value for money as you get to visit 6 sites for €42, or €7 each. BUT Mirabell Gardens is free, you don’t get to see Nonnberg except as a drive-by, You aren’t even on the grounds of Leopoldskron, just across the lake from it in a park (free!), getting into the Basilica in Mondsee is free (they ask for a small donation), and you see St Gilgen as a drive-by. So essentially, you’ve paid €42 for admission to the grounds of Hellebrun palace and the bus ride itself. Oh, and it turns out you can visit the entire Hellebrun (so actually see the palace, trick fountains, AND gazebo) for €12,50 and it’s a short bus or boat ride from Salzburg (for €18!) if you don’t have a car. So…not worth it for anyone who knows German or at least can communicate in it or who is familiar with Salzburg. BUT if you aren’t comfortable with the German language or if it’s your first trip to Salzburg, this might be a great way to see some of the sites! However I will warn you that while this is a bus tour, there’s still a lot of walking involved as the coach parking area in Mondsee is a fairly long walk away from the basilica and the other two stops involve walking from a coach car park which isn’t directly on site. So if you were looking for something to do that didn’t involve a lot of walking, this wouldn’t be the tour for you.

You can watch my YouTube video of our tour here:

I promise it’s not 4 hours long!

Suffice it to say, while I enjoyed seeing the sites for the filming of Sound of Music, I did not enjoy this tour and I feel like Tim and I could have taken Mom to all these locations for a lot less than 84 euros.

Read about the full trip here as links are added as new posts and videos are posted.

***

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

Unless stated otherwise, I have not received any compensation from any of the companies, properties, websites, etc. mentioned in this blog post.

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[Review] Urlaubsnest

urlaubsnestFor our first long stop of our Austria trip, I booked us in at Urlaubsnest in Moorbad Harbach (Weitra). I found it on Booking.com, after Tim and I had decided we wanted to stay within railing distance to Vienna (my pick), and within driving distance to the Waldviertelbahn and the JHMD. Originally, I started looking around Weitra, and this place popped up. We knew we wanted either a one or two bedroom apartment (remember, my mom was with us, so she needed a place to sleep to!) with a full kitchen. Urlaubsnest was reasonably priced and in a great location. We live in a small village close to a city centre, so it made sense that we would pick an apartment located in a village closer to a larger town (Gmünd was only about 30 minutes away, Weitra even closer).

The route in and out of the village is easy enough to find, but they were doing some kind of roadworks so part of the drive was spent driving on gravel roads (where we may have picked up the screw that killed our new tyre) with fields and woods on either side, it was quite picturesque (And you can see the drive on our driving video).

Our landlords, Dietmar and Brigette, were fantastic. Dietmar asked me if I was on Facebook, and when I said I was he suggested that I message him through facebook so messages would get to him faster. On our drive from Neuschwanstein I kept Dietmar updated on our ETA according to our sat nav (google maps on my phone) and it was no trouble arriving later than originally planned due to traffic. We arrived around 7PM, tired and hungry, and Dietmar and Brigette offered to feed us! Brigette laid on an amazing spread and Dietmar opened up a few bottles of beer. They even gifted us with a bottle of sparkling wine waiting for us in the fridge. Our holiday was on to an amazing start!

You can watch my tour of Urlaubsnest here:

We loved everything about this facility.

The kitchen had everything we needed for cooking main meals and they even had a minibar with beer and soft drinks available for purchase (no diet sodas though!). They have a wood burning stove for the winter months, and a modern electric range for the Summer months. They even provided coffee, filters, and sugar for the coffee pot (no measuring spoon though. I think I left my sliding spoon there though, much to my annoyance)! There were plenty of pots, pans, dishes, cutlery, and glasses and they provided some dish soap and a sponge.

The bedroom features a really nifty lighting feature where you can change the colours depending on your mood and time of day – it even has a nighttime mode that operates on a dimmer/timer. The bedroom also features an infrared sauna, which we only used on our last 2 days, but wish we had used it sooner!

(I made a video of the lights, and I will add it to this post after it gets uploaded!)

Wifi was adequate and I even managed to stream Netflix one night when I was unable to sleep.

When you stay at Urlaubsnest, you also have an extensive exterior grounds at your disposal. If you have children, we noticed they had a swing set, slide, sandbox, and trampoline. There is an outdoor picnic table with retractable awning and an outdoor grill/oven (which we did not use). My husband and I took a walk across the back fields and found a public walking path into a quiet wooded area and we’re sure we must have crossed the Czech border at some point since we were so close to it.

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(I’m really not sure why the portrait shots are showing as landscape. I’ve rotated them three times!)

We have put Urlaubsnest on our list of places to stay at again. While there is no main public transportation to Moorbad Harbach, on their website they say they will provide transportation from either the Weitra bus station or the Gmünd OBB station and I’m pretty sure we saw bus stops for a local village postbus that could get you around if you were going carless.

If you do travel by car, they have plenty of off-street parking. The driveway has a slight incline to it, but once you’re up you can park anywhere at the top as long as you aren’t blocking the tractors getting in and out of the barn (and of course, don’t knock over any of the plants).

Dietmar and Brigette have a dog, who does like to meet people, but she’s also shy. There are, however, several village cats that hang around. Some of which are friendlier than others and we even had one wander into our apartment to make herself comfortable on our bed!

I would highly reccomend Urlaubsnest to anyone looking for an off the beaten path place to stay.

Read about the full trip here as links are added as new posts and videos are posted.

***
The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

Unless stated otherwise, I have not received any compensation from any of the companies, properties, websites, etc. mentioned in this blog post.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Travel] Behind the (former) Iron Curtain

Iron_Curtain_map.svg I had never been to Eastern Europe before this trip. The closest I had ever been geographically was Vienna (as in, the border with Hungary was nearby). I think I looked at Eastern Europe as kind of scary, and I was possibly a little Xenophobic about it because “they use a different alphabet” (though not all of Eastern Europe does….some just use a heavily accented Latin alphabet!). It probably didn’t help that I grew up in the 80s, when the Cold War was winding down, but I was still young enough that I really had no idea what was going on outside of New Jersey, let alone the world, and even in 1990 my German classroom still had maps of East and West Germany, both flags, etc. And even when we started studying European history, my class didn’t go into the present, focusing more on the Holy Roman Empire than anything else. My HS had a requirement to take two years of US history, but only one of world, so I never took a modern European history class and if I’m honest, I wasn’t even interested in learning anything until within the past 10-15 years.

When we started planning this trip, I was still really nervous about travelling to the Czech Republic. Mostly because neither Tim or I spoke Czech and they use a different currency from the Euro (They are in the EU, but not the Eurozone) and maybe there was still a lingering fear of the unknown in general. I had only ever travelled in countries that either spoke English or German or I knew enough of the native language to be polite (ie – French and Spanish speaking countries where I can manage to say things like hello, please, thank you, and do you speak English). But Czech? Totally foreign. Even looking in the phrasebook I bought left me with a puzzled look on my face.

I soon learned that because we were on the border with Austria, a lot of the people we would interact with spoke German, and many knew English, too. The few places where no one spoke anything other than Czech, we made do with pointing and trying to pronounce things in the phrase book!

After we griced (chased!) a Waldviertelbahn train to Gmünd, we noticed that we were very close to the Czech border and were in fat parked in an area where they probably used to have people pull over for inspection. So we decided to go on a short walk across the border just so I could say I had been in the Czech Republic, even though we would be returning in a few days to ride a train on the JHMD.

ceska

When we were getting close to our apartment, we also noticed how close we were to the border on the map. When we mentioned it to our landlord, he told us that when he was a child, if you got too close to the border you could hear the border agents cocking their guns, and they would occasionally hear gunfire. You didn’t want to kick your football too close to the border, that’s for sure!!

We’re also pretty sure that when we went on a walk in the woods behind our apartment, we must have crossed the border at least once. After we visited the JHMD (I’ll blog on that later), we needed to get rid of some Czech Kroner because neither of us had realised how cheap things are in the Czech Republic. I had exchanged £50 before we left and was given something like 1600 Kroner. We had intended on buying our tickets with the cash, but then we decided to book them online instead to make sure we got seats so we really had quite a bit to spend. We then assumed Lunch would use most of it, but Lunch only came to around 300Kr. We decided to wander into a grocery store (Lidl), but we still only spent the equivalent of £13. But at least I have some Kroner for our next trip. I’m totally ready to visit Prague now!

There will be more about our visit to the JHMD in a few days!

Read about the full trip here as links are added as new posts and videos are posted.

***
Iron Curtain Map from Wikipedia

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Austria] Road Tripping Days .5, 1, and 2

roadtrip Yep. That does say 20 hours of driving!

I know I mentioned it before, but I’m pretty sure we were crazy when we organised our trip. 20+ hours of driving?

But it wouldn’t be the first time Tim and I have done a long trip – our trip right after our wedding was driving from my home in PA to my cousin in FL, which takes about 21 hours and when we went on our belated honeymoon in Autumn 2010 we drove to Austria. Still though, it is a lot!

We decided to break it down into several days of driving, and even started our trip around 7PM on the Sunday right after Tim had worked a 12 hour day shift. No, I’m not kidding. He got home around 6, and we loaded up the car and headed to Ashford where we had booked into a single room at the Travelodge for the night. We have booked into these family rooms before and have always found them to be spacious, but this time we had a very small room and there was only about 6 inches between our double bed and Mom’s single! Fortunately, it was the only night we were all staying in one room. We showered that night and went to bed around midnight with the alarm set for 6AM. Our channel crossing had a check in time of 0720, and we were 20 minutes away.

Checking into the Eurotunnel was easy and quick, and so was getting through French immigration……in fact, that nearly didn’t stamp my mom’s US passport (Tim and I travelled on UK passports)! Tim had to tell the I/O that we had an American in the car. He soon stamped her passport and we were on our way into the queue, where we sat for about 20 minutes before being directed onto the train.

The train was a lot faster than I had thought it would be. Probably because the last time I went by rail, I was on the Eurostar and travelled between London and Paris. It hadn’t dawned on me that we would only be on the train to go through the tunnel under the channel and the trip only took about 30 minutes. The rest of the time was mostly loading and unloading!

I also was surprised that you stayed sitting in your car and there were no snack bar facilities, but I also think that was du to my confusion on the length of the journey. Also, if they had to have coaches for passengers as well as the carriages for the cars it would have to be a VERY long train, or only take half the number of cars.

The rest of the drive on our first day was long and uneventful…..until we got diverted off the main road due to it being closed and could’t seem to find a way back (this clip wound up missing when I was doing the video, so I might do a separate one later) onto the autobahn! Our original hotel booked was called Schlossblick and was located in Schwangau. The check in deadline was a FIRM 2000. I kept watching the ETA on the sat nav (really, Google maps) and started to panic the closer the ETA got to to 8PM. I had read the reviews on Booking.com and saw that the owner does not give you any leeway, even if you ring ahead to tell her you will be late. As much as I was looking forward to having a balcony overlooking my favourite castle, we decided to cancel the booking around 4PM, as you could only cancel for free until 5. Fortunately, the booking.com app on my phone (I swear, I don’t work for them, I just really like their site!) helped me to find us a new hotel – this one with a 24 hour front desk. It was a SmartHotel, and we booked it about 2 hours before we arrived.

Of course, this couldn’t go off without some kind of hitch. The receptionist spoke perfect English, and I can speak German, but we still semed to hit some kind of language barrier and it took me nearly a half an hour just to check in. First, he said I didn’t have a reservation, then he tried to put the three of us all in the same room (at the rate for two rooms!). Finally, we sorted it out and we had rooms located next door to each other. Then, when we got to the room, I discovered someone had left their clothing in the wardrobe! After taking the clothing back to the front desk, I returned to the room and crashed for the night. I don’t know what Mom did, but Tim and I did not stay up very long!

In the morning, we ate breakfast at the hotel and got on the road to Schwangau and Neuschwanstein!

Credit goes to Tim for this shot #neuschwanstein

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

Ultimately, we decided against doing the castle tours – The Maria bridge was closed, so no opportunity for those amazing photos, but you still got dropped off at the bridge. We remembered it being a 20 minute uphill walk to get to the castle, plus walking around the castle and up the stairs and decided with Mom’s knees to skip it, and instead we wandered around Schwangau for the morning and early afternoon. Tim and I wandered down to the Alpsee for some gorgeous photos of that “toothpaste green water” as Tim calls the Alpine water.

Never leaving!! #bavaria #alpsee

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

We still had about 5 hours of driving to do, as once we were in Austria we still had to drive through most of the country to get to our first official stop! We encountered more road works, closed roads, and temporary roads. Fortunately, I was in contact with our landlord and was able to give him updates on when to expect us. We finally arrived around 7PM, long after the shops were shut for the night, so the landlords offered to feed us and we were treated to a smorgasbord accompanied by local beer. They spoke English, and I was slowly getting my German back….but Tim did much better than me!

After a pleasant few hours with our landlords, we retreated back to our apartment where once again, we fell into bed.

Read about the full trip here as links are added as new posts and videos are posted.

***

Map image at the top screenshot from Google.

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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[Travel] Austrian Road Trip Summer 2016

austriaschedule We might be a little insane.

After we got back from our trip to Austria last October, we immediately began planning a trip back, but this time, we were going to take my mom along who had always wanted to visit Austria and who would be visiting us for part of the Summer. I spent many MANY nights researching all our options….flights, rental cars, trains (while Tim and I have his BR privs, Mom would not), etc. I finally worked out that it was actually going to be cheaper by nearly £1000 if we drove our car across and road tripped because flights for the three of us were coming in at nearly £500 and it was very expensive to rent a car for three weeks!

I used our Tesco club card points to book the Eurotunnel for the trip over, and I booked the cheapest ferry (DFDS) for the return trip. We knew we were going to have a stop to visit Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, and started making a rough idea of things we wanted to do and then picked regions to search for apartments as after renting apartments and self catering in October, we have decided that is the best way to go if you don’t want to tow your caravan or sleep in a tent as it gives you the freedom to be in charge of your meals. You can eat out if you want, but you have the options of staying in for all three meals. We usually had breakfast and dinner in our apartments and Lunch out.

We tried to add in some down time, but our first week was turning out to be VERY busy as we wanted to visit two railways (one of them twice) on specific days (due to their schedule) and day trip to Vienna. We also had my mom’s birthday while we were visiting, and I had decided to surprise her with the Sound of Music tour on her birthday, so we knew we had to be toward Salzburg by the 3rd. We also wanted to ride steam on the Pinz again, which had to be done on a Thursday, and the Zillertalbahn was only running steam Wednesday – Sunday. Tim also wanted to visit another line on one of the Saturdays, but after realising he would have to drive for 9 hours in the one day alone (as Mom and I would have taken the train to our next destination to get checked in on time) he decided against it and we decided to make a stop in Germany at the Chiemsee since we were cutting through it anyway.

Our schedule wound up looking like this:

Day .5 – Tim worked until 6pm, then we drove down to Ashford for the night in a Travelodge
Day 1 – Eurotunnel and driving. Originally it was going to be all the way to Schwangau, but we wound up stopping in Kempton instead.
Day 2 – Neuschwanstein and Schwangau and then driving to Weitra for our first apartment (Urlaubsnest)
Blog post for days .5, 1, and 2 can be found here
Review of Urlaubsnest can be found here
Day 3 – Waldviertelbahn and hopping across the Czech Border [Blog link]
Day 4 – Driving in the Czech Republic and JHMD
Day 5 – Vienna
Day 6 – Waldviertelbahn
Day 7 – Sound of Music Tour (Mom and I)/ Mondsee (Tim) and moved to Haus Reider in Pfarrwerfen
Blog post for Day 7 can be found here
Day 8 – Tim and I explored the area in car and on foot
Day 9 – Freilicht Museum
Day 10 – Murtalbahn
Day 11 – Pinzgauelokalbahn
Day 12 – Salzburg
Day 13 – Chiemsee and Drive to Mayrhofen (Gasthaus Zillertal)
Day 14 – Exploring the local area
Day 15 – Brenner
Day 16 – Innsbruck
Day 17 – Zillertalbahn
Day 18 – Too rainy for much, so we had a lazy day and went on a walk
Day 19 – Drive to Goe, Belgium (Yellow House)
Day 20 – Ferry and drive home

And the countries we were in:
France*
Belgium
Luxembourg*
Germany
Austria
Czech Republic
Italy
Netherlands*

(*drove in only)

with the exception of 2 single overnights at the beginning and a single overnight at the end, we stayed in three apartments and spent about a week in each.

As I write blog posts and post videos, I’ll be revisiting this post to add links to everything….I’m hoping to blog it all. I was a little lax in blogging our October trip, so I’m hoping I will do better this time!

***
The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Travel] Making a Car First Aid Kit

20160419_222832 Having a first aid kit in the car is a legal requirement for some European countries and it’s just a good idea in general. You can purchase pre-made kits (and we have a cheap one of those too just so we can fulfil the legal requirements) in Halfords that will comply with the applicable laws, but I have kept a personal first aid kit in the car since 2010 with things that we specifically need or use. Also, some countries have a weird rule that the first aid kit needs to be sealed, so this was just easier for us. And having it has come in handy on multiple occasions! I decided to get our current kit out of the car in preparation for our road trip to Austria to check the expiration dates and give it an update before we go again. No surprise, a lot of it had expired as it was put together in 2010! So now it’s updated, and here’s a video about putting together a first aid kit:

The nice thing about making your own first aid kit instead of buying a pre-made one is you can create it around your needs and your likes/dislikes. If you have products you like better than other for first aid, if there’s a pain relief product you like better than another (or tummy remedy!), or if there’s a product you know you’ll need based on your own medical needs…it can go in your own personalised first aid kit. The type of box you use doesn’t matter, but it should be sturdy and waterproof. Alternatively, you could keep everything in a zippered bag (and it would probably squish better). I took a cardboard box we had waiting for the recycle bin and I covered it with clear contact paper. You also could use clear packing tape if you don’t have any contact paper and I added a red cross to the front to make it easily recognisable as a first aid kit. We also always keep it under the front passenger seat so it’s always in the same location and can easily be grabbed or we can tell someone else exactly where it is.

The total cost for putting this together was probably around £20. I bought all the value range first aid items from shops like Tesco, Wilkinson’s, and Asda…and they work. You don’t NEED fancy brands for first aid. Or if you’re really attached to having a certain brand, you always have the option of buying those. Probably the priciest item was the 4head stick!

When I first went to make the kit, I solicited advice from my friends who are first aiders, EMTs, and nurses on what they felt were important things to have on hand in a first aid kit, so this list is medical professionals approved!

Our first aid kit contents in no particular order:

-Box of plasters/band-aids
-Blister plasters
-strapping tape
-micro-porous tape
-gauze pads
-elastic band
-paracetamol
-ibuprofen
-diarrhoea medication
-soap box for above medicine to keep it dry
-gaviscon
-antiseptic wipes
-antiseptic ointment
-sudocream
-medical scissors
-tweezers
-antibacterial gel
-rubber gloves
-burn ointment
-spray on plaster
-4head headache gel
-duct tape (I fold over a piece several times to have a small bit, not a whole roll!)
-nit comb
-sanitary towel

And don’t forget to check with Halfords or the RAC or AA what other requirements are needed in each European country you will be driving through, as they can vary. You also should sign up for temporary European breakdown coverage (we got the highest level of coverage that not only will bring your car back to the UK for you, but give you a rental car to finish out your holiday and provide a way to get you back home at the end. Pricey, but worth the peace of mind) as well as additional coverage through your car insurance. For example, our insurance only automatically covers a few days abroad, and adding coverage for the three weeks only cost £42. Also make sure you have signed up for your EHIC card as well before you go (this is subject to change depending on the terms of Brexit). If you are not a UK or EU resident, make sure you get travel insurance before you go, because you never know! We have a multi trip world plan that costs us around £100/yr, but you can get single trip plans for as low as £8. You can read more about other requirements for driving abroad in my previous post from 2011.

I also always try to carry a mini first aid kit in my backpack when we aren’t in the car just with a few plasters and some antiseptic wipes to clean and cover a cut until you get back to the car.

Obviously, this first aid kit isn’t going to fix all medical problems that arise, but it should cover enough basics until you can get somewhere else to get proper medical attention. And I think the Halford’s ones even include a thermal blanket, but you also could pick one up at the pound shop if you wanted to include one of those for emergencies too.

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This post has not been endorsed by any of the products mentioned in this post and I have not received compensation for writing this post or making any videos.

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Page in the Park – 13 August 2016

IMG_0252 I know I have tons of blog posts and videos to get up from our holiday, but this happened yesterday so I wanted to post about it and get the video up ASAP.

I have had a strong love for the Canadian band Barenaked Ladies since I was in High School thanks to my boyfriend at the time. And me and BNL, well, we’ve been through a lot. I’ve been a fan of the band through their keyboardist, Kevin Hearn, getting diagnosed and ultimately beating Leukaemia, and I was a fan when the band had a bit of a line up change and longtime co-frontman Steven Page left the band in was it 2010? 2009? I can’t quite remember. And I won’t go into the details over the break (you can google for it if you really need to know), but in the end, it left me being very angry and upset with Steve. For a while, I wouldn’t even listen to any song that Steve sang lead on (which at the time was over 50% of the repertoire!). The split hurt the fanbase, and people really were divided over it. But over the past 5+ years, Iv’e gotten over my anger and I’ve understood that the break-up was something that had to happen. The band is still going strong, and I still love them to pieces, and Steve has been able to explore being an independent musician on his own without a band behind him. Sure, he still is “former Barenaked Ladies co-frontman”, but he’s definitely carved out a niche of his own, touring mostly around the area he lives in (NE USA and Canada).

This week, Steven has been on holiday in the UK with his family and started getting tweets from UK fans “wouldn’t it be nice if you played here?” So he decided to do a pop up concert. It was announced vaguely on Twitter at first. Just “would anyone be interested in coming to see me at a park on Saturday?” The response on his twitter poll was overwhelmingly YES.

Regent’s Park is Huge! And the pinned place on his tweet goes to a private garden….so….now what? I headed into the park and posted a photo of the map of the park on the BNL UK group on facebook and one person found me….then two more….then two more…and soon we were a small group of people wandering around!

so we all headed to the SE corner where we ran into more peopl and we soon increased our numbers and Liam sent a tweet to Steve to tell him where we were, and I had one more idea. Someone had brought along a Canadian flag and we managed between tying it to their push chair and my selfie stick to have it on display and I tweeted this pic out to Steve so he could find us:

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We soon gathered a sizeable crowd (maybe 40-50?) and then Steve arrived, borrowed a guitar, and started off with a BNL classic – It’s All Been Done. At one point, he went into the opening strains of Jane.

I think I'm dead. @stevenpage @getbarenaked @bnlfans

A video posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

In case you ever wondered where the URL for my blog came from, it’s from this song. ‘The girl works at the store sweet Jane St Clair’. My middle name is Jane, so using Becca Jane St Clair was perfect and so this song has always had incredible meaning to me and every time I hear it live I get goosebumps.

We were soon treated to nearly 2 hours of old favourite BNL hits and songs off his own albums. He even was joined randomly by a passing busker on his accordion, though we did have to chase him off after he tried to demand Steve play other songs and then tried to get us to give him money. Err….No. Just get out. And Steve played the opening strains to “Thanks That Was Fun” as the guy was walking away. I don’t think he even realised who he was playing with or that Steve wasn’t a busker with a crowd.

It was an absolutely amazing experience to be in such an intimate setting with one of my favourite musicians. A lot of us who had been on one of the Ships & Dip shows likened it to being on S&D in one of the smaller on-board venues. After, Steve stuck around to talk, sign autographs, and take photos with his fans, including Hamish!

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Thank for an amazing day, Steve. Hope you come back for a proper tour soon, and don’t forget to come to Lincoln!

Watch the video I took including It’s All in Done, What A Good Boy, Upside Down, Break Your Heart, Call & Answer, and Brian Wilson.

***
The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Turkey Hill Orange Iced Tea Copy Cat for PA ExPats

orange-tea-iced-tea I am from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Well, sort of. In that Lancaster Co was the last place I lived before I moved to the UK. I actually grew up in NJ, and now my mom lives in York, PA (where she grew up), so I don’t really go back to visit Lancaster except to hit up tourist places with Tim, but one thing Tim and I both love about visiting is getting to have Turkey Hill Orange Iced Tea. Turkey Hill started out over 85 years ago as a side business for a local farmer to sell his excess milk. Soon, it turned into a business of his own and his children added ice cream to the business, and then iced tea, lemonade, and other fruit-based soft drinks. Turkey Hill used to only be available in Eastern PA, and it was always a favourite. Soon it spread out and now I think Turkey Hill (at least their ice cream) is available in many of the larger markets in the USA. However, they have no plans to expand internationally (I’ve asked!) and no plans on creating a powdered form of their tea or creating concentrated drops (again, I asked!).

When my husband (at the time, only my boyfriend) came to visit me in Lancaster County in 2009, I introduced him to drinking iced tea. He thought it was a bit odd, but he soon found it refreshing on a hot day, especially when I then introduced him to the flavoured teas of Turkey Hill! The last time I visited the US without Tim, I brought him home a small bottle, and when we were last in the US in May 2015, Tim asked me if I thought I could re-create the flavour. AFter all, I had made a pretty good stab at re-creating favourite restaurant meals, so why not give flavoured tea a go? I told him I would try after we got home, and then I forgot and it soon became too cold in the UK to want iced tea.

Enter the current heatwave. ABout a week beofre we went away on holiday, I decided to do an experiment. There isn’t room in our fridge for a proper pitcher (excuse me, jug) of tea, but I wanted to have cold tea and not left out on the counter room temperature tea. Spying the squash bottle, I got the idea to make a “tea concentrate” and then add a bit of it to a glass to top up with tap water. It worked, and then my brain kind of went into overdrive and I managed to create the exact same flavour of Turkey Hill Orange Tea.

You Will Need:

10 regular tea bags (I used Tetley)
10 sweetener tablets (optional. You also could probably use sugar or skip the sweetener)
500ml boiling water (kettle)
500ml cold water
100ml Orange squash (I used Robinsons not double concentrate)
A heat proof measuring jug at least able to hold 500ml
A 700ml (approximately. ours might be 750) water bottle

1. Place 10 tea bags into your heatproof jug and fill to the 500ml line with boiling water from the kettle. Add in your sweetener tablets and let the tea steep for about 10 minutes.
2. Remove tea bags after 10 minutes and allow the tea to cool before putting it into the fridge (I transferred it into a 500ml bottle from Lakeland).
3. Leave the tea concentrate to cool in the fridge for several hours.
4. using your 700ml water bottle, add 100ml of tea concentrate, 100ml of Orange squash, and top up with water, giving it a shake or stir.
5. Enjoy the sweet taste of Lancaster County.

And if you follow Slimming World, this drink has 0 syns!

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DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

Turkey Hill image at the top of this post copyright Turkey Hill.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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[Slimming World] Let’s go Camping!

This post is here because I posted this on my local Slimming World group, and one of the members asked if they could share it elsewhere. Since you can’t share posts made on closed groups, I’m sticking it here. So there aren’t any pics to go with it (yet), but I might edit it tomorrow when I get more time.

Tips for staying on Slimming World while camping!

Tip 1 – If you are going to be without electricity to keep food cold, a day or two before you go cook up a batch of something like pasta sauce and then freeze it in either a plastic container or in a zipper top bag (double bag it!) and use this as a cold pack in your cooler. After it thaws out, you can cook some pasta and heat up the sauce, but it will keep your food cool for a bit longer.
Tip 2 – UHT milk cartons. For Tim and I, we go through 1 500ml carton of semi-skim UHT milk per day of our camping trip, so it’s not left out for very long, but this way you can have milk for coffee, tea, and cereal. You also can freeze them and use them as ice packs in your cooler.

Breakfast:

1 – you can make up your own instant porridge packs in plastic baggies. 2 tsp of dried powdered skim milk is 1 Syn. Measure out 35g of porridge and 2tsp of dried skim milk into your bags and in the mornings pour into a bowl and add boiling water. You can add some frozen berries (use them as an ice pack as they thaw!) for some added S foods.

2 – Make hash browns/fried potatoes. Get a tin of new potatoes (it’s only around 20p!), slice them or cut them into chunks, and fry with some fry light. Super easy, and they go great with some fried eggs, tinned tomatoes, and baked beans.

3 – cold cereal with UHT milk in a pinch.4 – French toast. Dip wholemeal bread into a mixture of UHT milk and an egg and fry with fry light. You can make these sweet or savory by either sprinkling with cinnamon and sweetener and serving with thawing berries, or savory and serve it with fried eggs or scrambled eggs.

Main meals:

Tip 1 – Boil in bag rice is FREE and it’s easier to cook when camping as it won’t be as hard to clean and you can reuse the pot right away

Tip 2 – Find a metal colander that fits inside your large pot when you make pasta so you just have to lift out the colander when the pasta is done and dump the water instead of finding a place to pour the pasta pot into the colander.

Tip 3 – Another option for pasta is cooking it at home ahead of time and putting it into a zipper top bag and immersing the bag in boiling water to heat up the pasta

Meal 1 – Vegetable Soup: This is super easy. All you need is a tin of mixed vegetables, a tin of tomatoes, 2 vegetable stock pots, and a handful of pearl barley (optional, but bulks it up). Pour the tins into a pot, add the stock pots, add the barley, and top up with water. The barley takes about 20 minutes to cook (although the longer you leave it, the softer the barley). A larger family might need 2 tins of each and 4 stock pots. You also could open a bag of boil in bag rice and toss it in instead of pearl barley.

Meal 2 – Poor Man’s Ramen: 1 Egg noodle nest or block per person, soy sauce, an OXO veg cube per person, tinned peas, carrots, and tinned corn. Toss it all in a pot, crumble the OXO cube on top, and bring to a boil. Takes about 10 minutes. You can drain it OR have it soupy and use soy sauce to taste.

Meal 3 – Stir Fry: serve with either boil in bag rice or egg noodles.

Meal 4 – If you premade/froze pasta sauce, pop it in a pot and cook some pasta. If your sauce is in a plastic bag, you could even cook it in the pot with the pasta in the bag, or stir it into the pasta after you drain the pasta to heat it through. . (My recipe for camping is really simple – quorn quorn mince, passata, tinned tomatoes, italian spices, worcester sauce, and cinnamon)

Meal 5 – if you have leftover sauce, dump a tin of kidney beans and some chili powder to make chilli and serve over rice.

Meal 6 – Pasta N Sauce with some added tinned vegetables, or make poor man’s mac n cheese with pasta and tinned veg and while the pasta is still hot, stir in laughing cow wedges. Make it cajun style with some cajun or jamaican jerk seasonings and you could add quorn chicken pieces. We like this especially with the laughing cow blue cheese.

I also like to make up some SW barbecue sauce before we go and I use one of those lock n lock tube shaped containers for it. The balsamic vinegar preserves it (Tim just used some I had in the fridge for 2 months and it was fine). If you are taking a grill or can get one of those disposable grills, you could have a barbecue with quorn burgers, or you could even make the burgers on the camping stove in a frying pan. If I was doing a barbecue, I would cook corn on the cob (it’s probably very American! lol), heat up some beans (baked beans is also a big barbecue thing in the US), and fry some potatoes (or if you have a campfire or charcoal grill – stab potatoes and wrap them in foil, then bury them in the coals)

Another good grill option for camping is veggie skewers with rice.

That’s all I have for now, if I think of more I’ll add it!

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DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th Birthday Beacon Lighting

HMQ90-logo

Today marks Queen Elizabeth II’s 90th birthday and people up and down the country are celebrating, including my small village in Lincolnshire. And this isn’t the Queen’s only birthday! on 11 June, we will also celebrate the Queen’s official birthday! Why, you ask? Apparently, it all started with King George II who was born in the Autumn, but the military cavalcade celebrating the king was held over the summer. Ever since, the reigning royal can have two birthdays – the day of their birth, and a day during the summer when weather would be more suitable. I’m not kidding. Seriously. Google it.

Anyway…..

Our village applied for a beacon when we were celebrating the Queen’s jubilee, and apparently we were the only local parish to be given one! I attended the Jubilee, and so I thought I would have a wander down to the village hall for her birthday beacon.

It really does make me feel proud to be British and proud to be part of this country when I see so many people turning out for these kinds of events, even at the local level.

Here’s a short video I put together for the lighting:

What a fun and chilly evening. Happy Birthday Queen Elizabeth!!

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The contents of this post, including personal images and videos are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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Travel Products Part 2

You can read part one here: Travel Techish Stuff Review

[Official Shop] BXT Travel Essential Bags-in-Bag,Travel Storage Underwear Pouch With Handle – Rose
– I first bought this when I was going on The Rock Boat XV in January 2015. I wanted to give packing cubes a try, and thought an underwear organiser/holder would be great since I was sharing a cabin with three other girls (ok, they were all friends of mine, but still) and then after I would be staying with my cousins in their guest room/office and I didn’t want my bras and knickers on display for my cousin’s husband and son. Unfortunately, I still haven’t actually taken this with me on a trip. I’ve attempted to pack into it THREE TIMES and all three times I changed my mind because the end result is too bulky. I’m not saying all packing cubes are bulky (my BFF has a nice set that worked well for her on the cruise), but this one just didn’t work for me. I think this could work if you were taking flimsier bras like sports bras or non-wired bras, but my wired bras just didn’t fit well in it. Either that, or my boobs are too big. But I really like the concept! Shame it didn’t work for me. I would love to get myself a set of eBags packing cubes, and I’ll probably get a set before the next trip to the US and see if it helps cut down on space. But honestly? Ziplock gallon and two gallon sized bags or travel space bags from the pound shop work pretty well for me.

Baggallini Plaza Mini Messenger Bag, Pink (Cherry Blossom) – This travel purse is pretty awesome and there are so many features to show you I’m going to go make a video about it and I will post it below:

Columbia Women’s Silver Ridge Skort – Fossil, UK 18,US 14,EU 46 – I bought this skirt (for a lot less!) in preparation for our trip to Austria last October. I already have one Columbia brand skort from about 10 years ago when I still lived in the US, and I love it. It was starting to get a little big on me, so I went for one size down from the size on the old one……this was a mistake. The skort did not fit over my hips and even if it had, it would have been VERY short….and when you’re under five feet tall, if something is short, it’s really short! But I am a fan of having a skort for travel, especially if it’s designed for hiking. It comes it handy to protect against chafing, and they look nice enough to be worn with regular tops. I’m just sad that I couldn’t wear this second one!

Regatta Mens NEW Work Outdoors Walking Hiking Water Repellent Action Trousers – One for the men, or I suppose the women who know their size in men’s trousers and wouldn’t mind the straight cut of the leg. We bought these for Tim based off the review that said they dry overnight. They don’t. Well, the might in the warmer months, but not in September in Austria. They took about 2 days to fully dry, but Tim found them comfortable and warm. They are also water resistant, which can he helpful. £12.99 isn’t a bad price considering Tim’s cargos from Primark cost the same. I didn’t look to see if they did a ladies cut style, but I’m sure they do. Regatta is a really good outdoors type company, so when I spot things for a decent price I tend to snag them.

Reisenthel Shoulder Bag, 30 Litres (48 x 39.5 x 29 CM) Bavaria – I love Reisenthel, and I particularly love the Bavaria print….but I am not in love with this bag or the medium version. (I also didn’t pay £40 for it! wow, prices have gone up!) The part I don’t like about it is the metal rods next to the zipper, which make it hard to open and close the zip…but the plus side is it opens up to a nice large rectangle with lots of side pockets. I take this shopping sometimes because it’s so big…but it’s also very bulky. It’s good for road trips and probably bus or train journeys, but I think the metal rods would get damaged if you used this as a checked bag.

My last item I’ll talk about in this post, is the neck wallet Tim wanted me t get before I took an overnight train from Florida to Pennsylvania on my own in January 2015:

Neck Travel Wallet to Secure Passports, Money, Credit Cards, Mobile Phones, Tickets, Boarding Pass – Quality Lightweight Neck Pouch Organiser with ID Display Window – This Passport Neck Holder can also be worn as Shoulder Travel Wallet – By Raqpak (Grey)

This particular one is no longer available, but it was VERY useful and it held my passport, cash, ID, credit cards, house key, phone, tickets, and even my 8″ Samsung tablet fit in it (although that made it very bulky). I tucked this under my fleece when I was sleeping on the train and took it with me whenever I used the loo to keep all my important documents on me. If you are making long-distance/overnight trips on public transportation on your own, I recommend getting something like this. Or a money belt. They even make clothing now that have secret pockets, but I’m really not sure I want to keep my passport in my underwear!

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Many of the Amazon UK links are affiliate links, so if you click on them and buy something, I do get a tiny percent.

This post has not been endorsed by Amazon or any of the products and websites mentioned in this post and I have not received compensation for writing this post or making any videos.

The contents of this post, including personal images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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How To Monthly and Weekly Meal Plan [Slimming Word]

This past week at Slimming World, our consultant talked about learning visually and it got me thinking about meal planning, so I thought I would do a video showing how I meal plan. It turned into two videos – one for monthly planning, and one for weekly planning.

At the end of the previous month, or within the first week of a month, I sit down with a blank monthly calendar (I print out the ones Philifaxy makes) and some of my cookbooks and I plan out 30 days of meals. This doesn’t mean that the meal I write down for the 15th is going to be made on the 15th, it just means I have 30 meals for the month I can pick through when I make our weekly plans. It takes me about 45-60 minutes to plan the month this way, but then it keeps planning the week down to 30-45 minutes.

I also said I would upload my weekly planning sheet to dropbox, so feel free to download this and use it:
Weekly Slimming World Meal Planning Sheet

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DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

For full Copyright and Disclaimer, please read http://www.blog.beccajanestclair.com/copyright/

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What the Duck? Quackers over Sir Nigel Gresley’s Missing Duck

So, yesterday, we were interviewed by the BBC South East Today.

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To make a long story that’s not my story short — A statue was created of Sir Nigel Gresley and he was to have a mallard duck at his feet to commemorate his love of birds and as a nod to one of his most famous engines – Mallard. Family members of Gresley opposed the duck, so a petition was started by the Gresley Society to reinstate the duck.

This all leads up to the unveiling yesterday at London King’s Cross and a faceboook post made by my friend M. He wanted to get a group together to show support for the Gresley Society and the sculptress by bringing along ducks. Well, how could we refuse?

#givenigeladuck #sirnigelgresley #sirnigelwantsaduck @gresleyduck #Hamish #ducksoninstagram

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

As it turned out, our ducks made quite a stir with the press there to cover the event. Because we were peacefully standing on the mezzanine just waving and squeaking our ducks, no one minded that we were there, and in fact, lots of people told us they liked the ducks and wanted the duck with the statue! Hamish (and his friends) have had their picture taken sitting on Sir Nigel’s newspaper by mane people, including the press. While Hamish did not make it into the newspapers (and really, wouldn’t it have been better to have a Scottish duck?), one of the other ducks I brought and gave to my friend Han did:

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Our picture has now accompanied articles all over the place!

BBC – ‘Deamining’ Duck Absent from Sir Nigels Statue
ITV – Rail engineer statue unveiled… but lack of duck ruffles a few feathers
The Daily Mail – Feathers are ruffled as statue is unveiled of genius behind world’s fastest steam train the Mallard – WITHOUT a duck at his feet
Yorkshire Post – Nigel Gresley statue unveiled at King’s Cross – and he’s out for a duck
Edinburgh Evening News: Sir Nigel Gresley statue ruffles Mallard fans’ feathers

and the Times:

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(It’s a subscription service, so could someone who subscribes get me screenshots?)

And, well, it looks like people are still leaving ducks there!

We had a great day. Our little group had 6-7 people, but we kept meeting other people who had brought ducks as well! After, we all headed to the Parcel Yard for a much deserved pint.

#hamish #ducksoninstagram #givenigeladuck

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

If I find more links or photos, I’ll be adding them to this post. I still have to unload my camera too and see what other people in our group managed to take. If you spot me or the ducks on another site, please let me know!

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Photo credits when the photo was not mine or embedded:

1 – Screencap from the BBC SE Today, capped by Dave Rudderham
2 – Press Assoiation
3 – BBC
4 – Rob Bough

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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A Tour of my A5 Filofax Finsbury


*warning, this was really long!*

I always use A5 sized notebooks for keeping notes, writing lists, keeping track of things, etc. etc. And when I would run out of space I’d buy a new notebook and then staple or re-write the things I wanted to keep OR I’d leave them in the old notebook, then lose the notebook by the time I needed the note! So I asked Tim for an A5 Filofax for Christmas and I’ve spent the past few months customising it. Am I done? No. I think customising it and rearranging it is something I’ll probably constantly do as my needs change.

I made the tour video above, and promised a blog post with links to the freebies I grabbed and printed. I also made a lot of my own inserts and the debate is out over offering them on Etsy for a few quid or just giving them away for free. Opinions? I wont be selling the tabs though because I don’t own the laminator. If we ever buy our own laminator, I might.

The Simon Cat’s pages came from a Simon’s Cat A5 diary I got for Christmas. I took it out of the spiral, covered the spiral with washi tape, and repunched holes. Of course, I wound up not using all the pages so I wasted a bit of time, but it might still come in handy.

TIP: To print A4 sized documents as A5, you have two options. If it is a PDF, you just set the print settings to booklet, and then if you want it to be left or right and if you want it to print front and back. If your document is a word doc, you can just set the printer settings to print 2 per page.

As I said, I designed my Daily Task, To-Do, Weekly Task, Monthly Task, and Quarterly Task pages myself. If there’s any interest in them, I might list them on Etsy or stick them on dropbox. IF I sell them on Etsy, I’d only sell them as printables and charge maybe £2 for the set.

The monthly calendars came from The Handmade Home. She released her 2016 freebies in June last year, so I’m going to make sure I check out her website around June for 2017! On that same page, you can find the emergency contact list I used (but didn’t show) and lots of other great printables.

My weekly pages are just the Filofax ones that came with my planner. I didn’t see any reason to look for other inserts, but I might seek different vertical pages for 2017. But I wouldn’t want to print my own, since I’m lazy and don’t want to have to cut and hole punch that many pages!

For meal planning, I printed out the monthly calendars offered on Philofaxy (They don’t want people to link to their stuff on Pinterest, and I’m not sure if they allow links, so you can google for them). Philofaxy offers lots of plain and simple inserts for a no-frills look. I originally was going to use them for my regular month, but I liked the pretty colours on the other ones better and decided to use these for my meal plan instead. The weekly meal plan pages I designed myself. I also had designed some Slimming World style weekly tracker pages, but I gave them up as I didn’t really like them and preferred the stickers from Dook Plook.

I followed this tutorial for making the folders. I had to modify the directions slightly to make the pocket A5 sized, but it generally worked. Really, you just fold and trim paper and use tape or glue to keep the end closed.

The Christmas planning pages I designed myself. If anyone wants them, I’ll toss them on Dropbox as it’s not worth charging for these!

Stickers:

My two favourite Etsy shops are Dook Plook Designs and The Geeky Planner. I also bought some stickers from Anna’s Planner Bubble. There are loads of other shops on Etsy, but I prefer buying stickers from a few shops to take advantage of bulk discounts and single postage rates. Some of my other stickers came from Paperchase or my stash of scrapbook stickers from the US. Basically, use what you like or what’s functional.

Any questions? Let me know!

***
The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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Pocket Filofax Finsbury as a Purse/Wallet

I made this video for my friends on the facebook groups after I asked lots of questions about turning the pocket sized Filofax into a purse/wallet.

As you can see, it’s VERY full and with the one ring splitting a bit, I’m really not sure if this is useful or if I will keep using it, but I’m willing to give it a go.

Where to buy*:
Filofax Pocket Finsbury in Raspberry
Pocket Filofax Zipper Envelopes
Pocket Filofax Credit Card Holders
Pocket Filofax Clear Pouch

***

*All links lead to Amazon UK and are affiliate links, so if you click on them and buy something, I do get a tiny percent.

This post has not been endorsed by Filofax OR Amazon and I have not received compensation for writing this post or making this video.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Travel Products [Techish Stuff] Review

I thought I would write up a post about some of the travel products I’ve bought in the past year. All of the links lead to Amazon (and are Amazon Affiliate links). All of the photos have come from Amazon as well. Amazon is my current go-to for pretty much everything I can’t buy in town because I am an Amazon Prime member and get free one-day shipping. Despite all the issues I sometimes have with the delivery drivers, I still prefer Amazon over eBay.

ButterFox Universal Electronics Accessories Travel Organiser / Carry Case – The Butterfox organiser is one of those packing cube like products that works. When Tim and I travel together I’m able to fit nearly all of our cables for two DSLRs, my laptop (including external mouse), 2 phones, 2 tablets, and 2 kindles. This bag has two small inner pockets so I tucked in a few USB sticks and a card reader. When we travelled internationally, I also was able to include a double plug converter for the camera chargers and laptops. This bag also is great at home for keeping the camera chargers locatable. Much easier to see the mesh bag in a basket of chargers than finding the individual cords, and much easier when you’re travelling to not have lots of cords tangled all over the bottom of your bag. I WISH I had had a bag like this when my mom and I went to Ireland in 2009. We had a connecting flight in Paris (sadly, no chance to see Paris) and I had my backpack filled with stuff. For whatever reason, at CDG you have to go back through security to get a connecting flight and the lady on security did not like my bag full of tangled cords and actually made me empty my entire rucksack for her so she could see everything because “cords”. Literally, the only reason she gave me for wanting me to empty my bag. She also confiscated my awesome EMS caribeaner that I still haven’t been able to replace, but that’s another story. So, bag to organise your cords is a good idea. If you don’t want to go with a bag, maybe you want one of these:

dodocool Universal Grid-it Organization System – Tim and I both have grid-its we bought before our trip to the US in 2013. These were my first attempts at cord organising, and I like them a lot, but the only problem is they can get quite bulky if you have a lot of boxy plugs. The grid is good for flat items though, so it would be a great organiser for USB cables and other flat things. I’ve also seen people use these for more than electronics – you could use one of these for your make-up when you travel instead of a make up bag, you could use one to organize your pens/pencils and other stationary bits, or just to keep track of all the little odd things you take with you that don’t really have a home….and ok, that’s all I can really think of. Again though, these are great at home for securing all those odd cords and things you have no idea where to put because every item comes with a separate USB cable, but you only really use one cable for everything….or you have a video camera that comes with an AWKWARD cable that when you lose it you wind up not being able to empty it for a year. Yeah, that happened. We didn’t take these on our recent trips, but I still think they’re good.

Damai Portable Universal Electronics Accessories Travel Organizer – Another organising case for electronics. I picked this up because it said “fits ipad” and my Samsung is the 8″ version, so I assumed it would fit. It does not, and this case is not big enough for a standard ipad. Maybe the mini would have fit? But it is a great case because it zips shut so unlike the grid-it, nothing ever falls out. And it has loads of little pockets and elastic bands so it holds loads. It also has lots of slots that are credit card sized, so you can use it to empty out your purse of all the unnecessary store loyalty cards if you’ve forgotten before you go, or use it to keep track of attraction tickets. I used this to keep things like USB sticks, extra headphones, my ipod (which is now lost! :'( ), and extra memory cards for the cameras. This wasn’t useful on our short trip to Austria because of space (I took the Butterfox case), but I took this to the US for three weeks to try to keep things organized. This worked, but it also suffered the same problem as the grid it because once you cram it full, you risk it being bulky.
Probably my favourite product, and one we use all over our home is this:

Multi Port USB Mains Charger – 4 Ports USB Charger with UK, EU, US & AU Plugs – These are great! One plug, four USB ports. Like a USB hub but for the outlet. Tim and I each use one upstairs on our bedsides to charge phones, tablets, and kindles without taking up multiple plugs and we keep one downstairs in the living room for charging Tim’s work phone, my fitbit, an emergency phone or tablet charge if one of us starts beeping low battery before bed, etc. They’re also great for hotel rooms where they usually only have one or two plugs for the whole room and you have loads of devices to charge! It also comes with interchangeable plugs for the entire world, so no matter where you are travelling, you will have a charger without needing to pack loads of those little converters, assuming everything you have can charge via USB.

Travel Adapter USA 3 Pin Earthed Extension Lead 2 UK Socket This is a USA plug, but here’s the one for Europe: Travel Adapter EUROPE Multi Extension Lead 2 Pin Earthed Plug 2 UK Sockets. Having two plugs on a short extension instead of a bulky plug at the wall is so much easier! Especially if access is limited because plugs are behind furniture or high up on the wall and there isn’t space for a bulky plug. 2 sockets instead of one because this way you can charge your camera and use your laptop at the same time, or you can charge two cameras, or both you and your husband/partner can use your laptops. I also have a UK 4-plug with a US plug on the end that lives at my mom’s house since when we visit her it’s for a long visit and we will usually want to be charging cameras AND using both laptops at the same time. And since my 4-port plug has a UK plug for it, I sometimes don’t bother switching it to a US plug and plug it in to the extension.

SAMAR® Extendable Integrated Selfie Handheld Stick – Yep. A selfie stick. Because Tim and I travel alone and we usually get loads of pictures of me some place or him som eplace, but very few of the two of us together. So a selfie stick was purchased in the Amazon day deals for £2. We really used it for the first time when we were in Austria, and we have tons of pictures of us together! And if you have short arms, it’s also good for yourself if you travel alone. The trick to not being “that guy” is to just take out the stick when you want your photo, extend it, get it all set up (mine has bluetooth and then you press a button on the stick to take the picture), go to where you want your photo (set it up while you’re waiting in a queue if it’s a place with a queue!), use it, then walk away to put the stick away. People will like you better.

There’s also things I don’t have that I’d love to have, like a really good portable USB charger. Tim has one of these, but I only have what I like to call “lipstick chargers” and they’re only good for maybe 75% of a charge and only good once before you need to recharge it, but the one that Tim has can be used multiple times to a full 100% and can even do two devices at once. So much easier than carrying around the 3-4 portable chargers I was carrying around in Austria.

I feel like I’ve really rambled on about travel tech stuff and haven’t talked at all about anything else, but this post is getting pretty long, so I’ll do a second post on other things.

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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I Passed My Driver Theory Test!

driver I applied for my Learner’s Permit back in October 2014 because I wanted a photo ID before my trip to the US the following January (Jan 2015) that wasn’t my passport. I might be 36, but I surprisingly get carded in the US. And, of course, I planned on learning how to drive.

In the UK, learning how to drive and getting your license is a three-part process. Well, more than three when you add in everything you need to do.

Step 1: Apply for your provisional. This is really easy and you just go to the Post Office for a form, and send off the application with the fee, a photo of yourself, and your ID (passport if you are foreign). You can send them a self-addressed postage paid envelope to return your documents (I used one with tracking). It only takes about two weeks.

Step 2: Get car insurance. If you have someone else in your house who own a car, ask them to add you as a named driver. All Tim had to do was ring up his insurance (Directline) and it was around an additional £100 to add me for the year and the only difference is I have a higher deductible than Tim. If you have US driving experience and it hasn’t been forever since you had a valid license in the US, some UK insurance companies will accept your no claims bonus, but I haven’t had insurance in the US since 2008 so I didn’t bother. It probably also helped that I’m older than 25.

Step 3: Book lessons. As an experienced driver, I contacted a few local driving schools to ask them what options they had since I know the basics of driving and needed to learn 1) manual transmission and 2) how to drive on UK roads/how to pass the test. I found a school that was willing to offer me the same introductory rates as a new driver, but start me right away behind the wheel (instead of explaining “this is the brake/this is the gas/etc”).

Step 4: Book your Theory test. Apparently, the DVLA has been seriously backed up and in some places it’s taking up to three months just to schedule the theory test. When I went online to schedule mine, I had to schedule it for five weeks away from the date I was booking it because it was the first date available. I would have liked to have taken it sooner, but it gave me plenty of time to study.

Step 5: The actual test for getting your license in the UK has two parts – a written part (Theory) and a behind the wheel part (Practical). Both parts have several sections to them. You MUST pass the theory test before you can even schedule the practical, so step 5 is STUDY. Even if you think you know…study. Tim bought me the study books in a three pack for Christmas, but they are available at WH Smith and online from TSO for about £20 for the three books. I also paid for the official apps for my Android tablet (the guide, the theory test, and the hazard perception test), which I think cost around a tenner for all three, and in addition to all of that, we also bought the Hazard Perception DVD (I had to use Tim’s desktop since my laptop doesn’t have a DVD drive!) Overkill? Actually…..no. I read (most of) the book (I also had a free download on my Kindle I read), and then started in on the practice tests on my tablet. A lot. I failed some, I passed some. It was FRUSTRATING! I even practised the tests while I was soaking in the bathtub! And the night before my test, I took 10 tests (failed one, but all the other ones were passed with plenty of room to spare)

The Hazard Perception test is a separate section to the Theory, and a separate score. You need to pass BOTH sections in order to have passed the theory test, and if you fail one, you retake both. The Hazard Perception is a series of scenarios and you have to click when you see a developing hazard. Sort of similar to that simulation from Driver’s Ed in the 90s with the brake pedal and the ball rolling into the street. In the Hazard Perception test, you can score up to 5 points on each scenario, but one is worth 10 (it’s a double hazard). The later you click, the less points you get…but if you click in a pattern or the computer thinks you are clicking on everything, you don’t get *any* points! There is an app for this, but since you will be taking the test at a computer with a mouse, I felt it would be better to practice on a computer. The DVD cost £15 at WH Smith, so all in all we spent around £45 just on study aids. But this test is tough, and it only has a 50% pass rate for most testing centres! And since you have to pay £23 for the test each time you need to take it…well, you want to study as much as you can and use as many resources as you can. They even have the practice tests online for free, so if you didn’t want to pay for as many applications or books, you could take the tests online (but they don’t have the Hazard Perception test online).

Step 6: Take (and pass) the Theory test. You get given a set of instructions to follow the day of your test, and these include not bringing anyone with you to the test (Sorry Tim!), turning your phone off, and locking your phone, watch, tablet, handbag, jacket, and basically anything else you have with you in a provided locker. The only thing you are permitted to take into the testing room is your provisional license and the key to the locker.

The test starts out with a short 15-minute maximum practice session just to get you used to the way the test is conducted. Then, the computer gives you a timed 1-minute break (But you can skip ahead) before starting the theory test. The test is 50 questions long, and you have 57 minutes. You can flag questions you are unsure of and then at the end you can either review your entire test or just review your flagged questions. At the end, the test will also tell you if you failed to answer a question, so make sure you check! You need to get at least 43 questions correct, so I flagged the questions I wasn’t 100% on and at the end I had only flagged 5. If I had all 5 of those wrong, I still would have passed the test. But I went back and in the end I only had 2 questions I was unsure on. After you click the final submit button, it gives you a three-minute break (you can skip this or take less than three, but after three minutes it will move on to the Hazard test).

Just like the Theory test, the Hazard perception test will give you an example/practice test, then a one-minute break before starting the test. The Hazard part is 14 clips and each clip is probably around a minute long. You just click when you see the hazard developing.

When you’re done, you get up and leave the room and your print out with your score will be waiting for you with the receptionist.

2016-03-09 15.06.27

And check out my score! *one* question wrong on the Theory, and 65/75 on the Hazard perception! They break down the score for you, so I know I scored 9 points on the double hazard, and then mostly 5s and 4s, with only 2 points on two of the hazards.

Passed my theory test with flying colours!!!!! #drivingtheorytest #drivingontheoppositeside #dvla

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

Step 7 is of course, scheduling, taking, and passing the Practical. Watch this space!

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The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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[Recipe] Boston Cream Cake

Boston Creamel Cake. Happy Mother's Day! #baking #chocolate #maryberryeatyourheartout

A photo posted by Rebecca L (@beccajanestclair) on

I’m posting this recipe by request of one of my friends who commented on my original Instagram share. I made this cake for my Mother in Law for Mother’s Day, which was yesterday in the UK. I wanted to make her something different from the normal Victoria sponge, and I had the week before done a Chocolate and Peanut Butter cake for my SIL, so I didn’t want to repeat flavours.

A lot of Americans will have heard about the Boston Cream Poke Cake, which is basically a box yellow cake mix, a box of yellow pudding, and a can of chocolate icing. You *could* make your cake this way in the UK as they now sell Betty Crocker mixes and sub custard for the pudding, but there’s something really satisfying about baking from scratch. Although I will say I did use a can of Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge icing, simply because I hate making icing. But by all means, use your favourite chocolate icing recipe!

You Will Need:

Your favourite standard cake recipe OR a box mix for a yellow/vanilla cake OR use my recipe below –
125g butter (or Stork)
125g sugar (caster is best for baking)
125g self rising flour
1tsp baking powder
2 large eggs (if you’re eggs aren’t particularly big, use 3)
1tsp vanilla

1 standard sized tin of custard OR one packet of instant custard OR about 400g homemade custard (if you’re in the US, use Vanilla Jell-O pudding)

1 tub of Betty Crocker Chocolate Fudge icing OR your favourite chocolate icing recipe
50g chocolate chips

1. Pre-heat your oven to 180C and line 2 round cake tins with parchment paper* or butter and flour the tins, whichever you prefer or have handy.
2. Mix your cake. If you’re using a box mix, follow the instructions on the box. If you’re making one from scratch, start by sifting the flour and baking powder together in a small bowl and cream together the butter and sugar in a larger bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each egg, and add the vanilla. Then slowly mix in the flour.
3. Divide your cake evenly between the cake tins, and bake for 25-30 minutes (or follow the instructions on your box)
4. If you’re not using a tin of custard, now is the time to make it as you will want it to cool completely before you use it.
5. Take the cakes out of the oven and cool them in their tins for 10 minutes, then turned out onto a wire rack. Now, here is where you need to decide what to do – if you want your cakes to be gooey with custard, let them cool completely. If you want the to be moist, continue on.
6. Place your bottom layer on your plate and use the end of a wooden spoon to poke holes about 3/4 of the way through the cake. You don’t want the holes to go the whole way through.
7. Use half of the custard and slowly pour over the holes in the cake. If your cake is still warm, the custard will slowly get absorbed making the cake extra moist and giving it a slight custard flaour, but if you let the cakes cool first, the custard will fill the holes and be gooey and custardy when you eat it.
8. For the icing/chocolate bit: Melt 50g chocolate chips and stir it into your icing. This should thin out the icing a little and make it softer. Unless it’s the dead of winter and your kitchen is cold (like mine!), in which case you might want to microwave the icing for 30 minutes to soften it. Slowly pour enough chocolate icing on the top of the cake to just cover it just to the edge. Don’t worry if the custard and chocolate are combining together, that’s fine.
9. Add the top half, poke holes, and repeat step 7 and 8, using the rest of the icing to completely cover the cake so it drips down the sides. You could neaten this up with a knife if you want to, but I left it to drip down and then scooped up the excess and put it back on top. Again, don’t worry about the custard mixing itself in with the chocolate, the flavour will still be there. Because of the added chocolate chips, the icing will go slightly hard and shiny, like the chocolate topping on a Boston Cream doughnut from Dunkins!

TIP: Want cupcakes instead? I made these as cupcakes for an event and I used a cupcake corer to core the cupcakes, fill them with custard, add the top back on, and then put a spoonful of chocolate icing on top. This works best on cupcakes that don’t quite reach the rim of the paper liner so the chocolate doesn’t run off, so slightly underfill the cups.

My MIL, FIL, and husband all agreed this cake is very tasty!

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*A neat trick is to trace around the bottom of your pan onto the parchment paper, then cut out just inside your trace lines. It should give you the right size. I also help my parchment paper stick little by giving the tin a squirt of fry light.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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Packing Minimal Toiletries

12037841_10153724681382160_63833692_o I know I previously posted about packing toiletries in my Packing for Autumn in Austria blog post, but I decided to expand on it because I’ve been watching a lot of travel videos on youtube and a lot of “minimalist packing” videos and the amount of toiletries is insane! Someone went down to London for a weekend and they took a massive bag and then a huge train case full of toiletries and make up. Our weekend trip to London? A rucksack and the TSA sized baggie of toiletries. And some of the international travel ones make me laugh too. Americans visiting the UK or the EU, Brits visiting America…..people, none of these places are third world. If you run out of something or forgot something, you can buy it.

I decided to make my own “What’s in my Bag?” video sort of as a rebuttal, and as a way to show people who are looking for ideas on what they could do to pack into smaller bags. When we went to Austria, we each took a backpack and shared a wheeled suitcase. And the toiletries in this video and post are what we took with us and what I’ve taken before when we took backpacks only to Ireland to meet up with my cousins and it’s generally what I even take for a weekend away since it’s all basically what I use on a daily basis, although a single overnight I’ll take a lot less….I’ll detail that below too.

Tim’s Bag

Tim’s bag is the middle size of a three-pack of travel bags I bought at Marks & Spencer’s, but I’ve seen the three packs on Amazon for around £7. I used the big bag on our trip to the US in 2013 and I soon realised I did not need a bag that big. It took up way too much real estate in my suitcase, and half the stuff I had packed I never used. The middle sized is the appropriate size for taking in your carry-on and since it was piped in black, I gave it to Tim. Tim barely has any toiletries to begin with, so packing for him is simple and all his stuff, both liquid and non-liquid, fit in one bag. On longer trips, I sometimes steal space in his bag and put his non liquids in a separate bag! His toiletries are:

-Travel electric razor. I think its a Phillips, I’m not sure. I bought it at Boots when Boots had men’s razors on 1/3 off just before our trip to the states last May and it runs off AA batteries, so no charger to pack.
-Shampoo. He uses a 2 in 1, whatever is on sale usually. I think that might be an old bottle refilled.
-Body Wash. We use a 100ml bottle and I fill it with whatever he’s currently using (again, whatever was on sale)
-Aftershave. It’s in a little (30ml) bottle from Muji* because he really doesn’t use much on a daily basis.
-Deodorant. Whatever is available in the travel size.
-Toothbrush/toothpaste. We have folding toothbrushes where you unfold them and they’re the same size as a regular toothbrush. Toothpaste is, once again, whatever is available (do you see a pattern here? We are totally not brand snobs!)
-Deep Heat. This is in another bottle from Muji. We both use this for sore muscles especially after a long day of walking!
-Nail clippers. Because his bag has room for it 😉
-Tums/Pepto/Lemsip. Again, because his bag has room for it. We just travel with the things we might need if we get ill. Chances are, if we’re on a longer trip, one of us will get a slight cold or an upset tummy.

As you can see, not much. I think that’s pretty much all Tim ever needs even on a daily basis at home. Oh, and if we’re going on a longer trip, he’ll also pack his wet razor and a travel thing of shave gel. If he needs a brush, he just uses mine. Some of Tim’s things are from gift packs he was given for various gift giving occasions. We keep all that stuff in a drawer in the bathroom and pull things out as they’re needed.

For myself, I use one clear plastic bag that is size appropriate for a carry-on and then usually a second bag with my non liquids. I think my liquids bag might have come as part of a kit, either designed for travel, or with other stuff already in it. I had it in a box full of make-up bags (seriously. I have loads of free with purchase bags) and since it was clear and the right size for travel, it got used. My non-liquid bag is a Cath Kidston 20th anniversary wristlet that has served many purposes in it’s life so far**.

My liquids:
-Shampoo/Conditioner. I’m just refilling the bottles I bought ages ago with whatever I’m currently using. I saw on a video someone actually combined their shampoo and conditioner to make a 2 in 1 in a single bottle, and I might give that a trial at home to see if it really works…..if it works, I expect I’ll do that the next time we travel!
-Hibiscrub. It’s for my Hidradenitis Supperotiva. That’s a tiny bit that is enough for 4-5 days. For longer trips, I either pack 2 or a larger container….and when we go on a three week trips, I need about 200ml (but we also usually have checked bags for longer trips thaat I can put it in, and technically, hibiscrub is available without a prescription, it;s just pricey.)
-bodywash. Whatever I currently am using, usually decanted into whatever container I have around. Again, I’m not fussy.
-Deodorant. I prefer the Nivea Pearl stuff as it doesn’t agitate my armpits, but if that’s not available I’ll grab a different brand.
-Facewash. I bought 100ml foam pumping bottles off eBay before our trip to the US in May. I haven’t seen this in a smaller size anywhere yet, but if there was one I’d get it because even on a long trip I only use about 30ml as it’s a foaming pump so it distributes a lot per pump! I use a tea tree oil wash from Boots.
-Moisturisers. I bought the small tube at Muji and it’s filled with Boots Vitamin E face moisturiser. I also take a Nivea cream pot, since that’s good for all over the body. In the same vein, I always take a small pot of vaseline (it’s the lip stuff, but really it’s all the same). And there’s also a pot of Blistex lip balm. I recently discovered Lanacane anti-chafing gel and it’s amazing.
-Tea tree oil spot treatment gel and night cream. Zits happen. Especially when travelling.
-Antibacterial hand gel. I have a whole little drawer full of bath and body works mini hand sanitizers, so I just grab one in a scent appropriate for the season.
-Febreeze. Again, it’s in a bottle from Muji. Always handy if you plan on re-wearing clothing.
-Body Spray. I currently have Mist You Madly by Soap and Glory in a small sprayer I bought off eBay.
-BB Creame. I use this as concealer and foundation when I travel. It’s in a small pot from Muji (again!)
-Under eye brightener. Because I sometimes don’t get a lot of sleep on trips if we have late nights and early mornings.

Non Liquids:
-Travel hairbrush. £1 at Primark, though I just got a tangle teezer, so I might have to rethink this as the teezer is bigger (and I’m now obsessed with brushing my hair!).
-All-in-one Makeup pallet. Keeping it simple. 2 neutral eye shadows, blush, and a mini mascara in one little pallet.
-Face powder/Brush. Self explanatory. I wish they made these in a mini version. I’ll take any brand, so if you know of one, let me know!
-Lip crayon. It was in my advent calendar this year, but basically, I always have some kind of lip colour thing with me.
-Mirror
-Emergency sanitary product (you never know)
-cotton buds/cotton pads
-emery board
-mini first aid kit. just some plasters, blister band-aids, and antiseptic wipes. This goes with me when we’re out and about, too.
-Safety pins, hair grip/bobby pins, and hair ties
-mini medicine cabinet. Or at least, that’s what Tim calls it. It’s a weekly pill organizer I repurposed with all the little OTC things you might need – paracetamol, ibuprofen, kwells, pepto, and enough of my prescription Metformin for 2-3 days (any longer and I’ll add a strip of meds to my bag).

Missing from the video:
-Travel Razor. I got one of those Venus Snap ones and I love it. I’m hoping it’s in the bathroom and not left at Mom’s in PA! I’m not bothered about gel, so I’ll usually pinch a bit of Tim’s. I only take my razor on trips longer than a week because I’m lazy.
-Dry Shampoo. Depending on how long the trip is for, but this is handy especially if we have to be up early in the morning and shower the night before.
-Face wipes. They’re good for everything from their actual purpose to spot treating a stain or cleaning off a dirty table on a train. I usually grab the cucumber scented ones from Boots. They live in an outer pocket of my backpack when we’re out and about along with the first aid kit and pill container.
-Sun cream. Depending on where we’re going and the season. My face cream has SPF15 built in, but if we’re in FL or it’s the Summer, we usually take along a mini size of a sun cream and then buy more when we’re at our destination. Our three week trip to FL and PA last May we went through 3 cans between the two of us because Tim is a pasty British man and when he visited the US in the Summer of 2009 when we were dating I neglected to think about sunblock because I didn’t need any and he blister burned. And if we’re packing sun cream, I’ll probably pack a 100ml bottle filled with some aftersun too.

And, I think that’s everything. Anything else that we need or run out of we can easily pick up at a chemist/Apotheke***/grocery store. I tend to buy us pre-packaged travel sized bottles over refillable ones (And then refill them!) because if we need toss things due to space it’s not a huge loss, but Muji and Superdrug are both great places to get refillable bottles. Obviously, I use refillable bottles for things that either aren’t available in travel sizes or are specific products we need (like my Hibiscrub). And if we’re going to the US, we’ll only pack what we need for the first night in the hotel in London and usually make CVS our first stop (although now I have things at my cousin’s house in FL and my Mom’s in PA). For those trips, we usually take the dregs of a previous trip’s bottles and then we toss them in the morning.

I don’t wear a lot of make-up on a daily basis, so the items I pack is pretty much what I’d use on a day I felt like wearing make-up. When we went to the US in May for Laura’s wedding, I also took a whole bag full of my special occasion make-up.

I don’t pack many “what ifs?” because I think they take up a lot of space and I could probably fill a train case full of things I “might need”. Just about the only what ifs I take are all medical related – medicines, first aid, and creams/balms. And that’s because I know I will need those what if items. I’m accident prone. Chances are, I’ll cut my finger open or bang my knee against a table and need pain relief or plasters. My rule is always if there is something I discover I need, I can probably buy it. If it’s not available where I’m travelling to, well then I probably didn’t need it.

When we go on single overnights, I won’t pack all of this. If we’re spending the night with a local friend and planning on coming home straight away the next morning I might only take deodorant, face wipes, moisturiser, toothbrush/toothpaste, body spray, a hairbrush, and dry shampoo because I’ll shower when we get home. If we’re spending the night down in London and travelling by train, I’ll probably take shampoo, conditioner, hibiscrub, face wash, deodorant, toothbrush/toothpaste, body spray, and a hairbrush. The little Clinique pallet will usually go into my handbag along with a lip gloss and a little concealer if it’s a short trip as my Cath bag might wind up being my purse on those trips! But Boots often does 3 for 2 on the travel toiletries, so it’s super easy to pop into one on our way through King’s Cross or St Pancras.

***

*Muji is a Japanese store that has a few UK locations. I stumbled onto them when I had one of my “Day of her own”s in London back in August and they have all sorts of travel sized bottles — loads more than they show online.

**It’s been used as a purse, a camera bag, a make-up bag, a cords organiser, a handbag, a pencil case, and probably about a dozen other things. It’s super versatile! The ribbon strap is surprisingly strong and the inside is lined with red spotted fabric and it has a little pocket on the inside too.

***Apotheke is the German word that signifies a chemist. In Austria, it’s a giant A on the outside of the building. We needed one twice on our trip, once for some plasters and once for some additional deep heat.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

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[Slimming World] Motivation

12789884_10154066861462160_2100876990_o Ok, so this is a Subway salad. You’ve seen them before, and if you follow Slimming World, you probably eat this a lot when you’re out and about. You know the deal. Lots of Speed, a little bit of P foods, and around 2 syns for some Ranch dressing. But. When I was in town today I very nearly strayed and went to Burger King.

So, let me back up bit. The other day, a friend messaged me to tell me she had joined Slimming World, and she wanted to know if I had any tips for her. I drew a blank. How can I offer tips to someone when I’ve spent a year mostly gaining weight instead of losing? So I gave her a generic “stick to the plans”…..and I thought oh, you dummy. How about YOU follow the plans?

So back to today. I’m in town. I need Lunch. Options are – fast food or a sit down restaurant. Out of the fast foods, we all know Subway is the best option…..but when you can smell the chips…….

In Lincoln, the BK is inside the shopping centre off the high street. To get to it, you have to either take the escalator down into New Look and walk out of New Look and over to it, or you have to walk the length of the upper level and then go down to the lower. So I walked into New Look and just looked at the first item in my path. It wasn’t anything in particular that I would wear, but I looked at the size on the shirt. 10. Could I some day fit into a 10 and take that shirt into the dressing room just to see what it looks like? Would eating at BK really help me on my way?

I turned around and walked to Subway.

….just don’t ask me about the rest of the day 😉 (I’m kidding. It wasn’t a bad day at all!)

***

DISCLAIMER: I do not work for Slimming World, I am not affiliated with Slimming World beyond being a paying customer/member, I get no personal benefit from writing this post other than the joy of sharing.

Please note: Syn values are based on my exact ingredients using the online calculator. Your Syn value may vary based on your ingredients and the size of your baking containers and portions, so use this number as a guide only. Syn values also frequently change, but these values are correct at the time of publication.

The contents of this post, including images are © Rebecca J Lockley and Tim Lockley unless otherwise stated and should not be reproduced without permission. If you are not reading this on http://blog.beccajanestclair.com, my facebook page, Networked Blogs, the RSS feed(s), or through an e-mail subscription, please notify me.

[LJ readers reading this on the LJ RSS feed: Please click on the link at the top of the entry to go directly to my blog to leave a comment, as comments left on the LJ RSS do not get seen by me. Facebook users reading this from my Networked Blogs link can either comment on facebook or on my blog. If you are reading this through an e-mail subscription, you might need to go directly to my blog to view videos and images.]

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