TGIF

Kayaking on the Thames

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Feel like a bit of adventure?  Then read on…We at The Amazing Blog are always open to new thrills. I wonder, have you ever thought of viewing London by night on the water? However, all from a very different perspective. Enter Kayaking London who give you the opportunity to bob along the Thames, tripping the lights fantastic, in a way that only London can offer. Kayaking London have bases in Chelsea and Ladbroke Groove with excellent facilities and equipment. In both centres they have hot showers, changing rooms and lockers to keep for your valuables (you’ll need a small padlock).  Kayaking London is an activity that allows you to kayak along the river Thames while sight- seeing in London.

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The tour we’re going to talk about is their Big Ben by Night. These run from now in September to April. London is equally beautiful at night as it is by day and is more beautiful as the sunset reflects on The River Thames. The trip is 2 1/2 hours long, where you glide along on the river, you’ll be able to see the Houses of Parliament and central London in all their lit-up splendour before heading back to base in Chelsea on a new tide. As the trip is run on highly stable boats, no experience in kayaking is required.

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The coaches are highly trained and qualified by British Canoe Union, fully CRB checked and have years of experience. They will prep, equip and help you master the basics of boat controlling before you begin your tour. They have a range of kayaks, spacious and stable doubles, or fast sleek singles – something to suit everyone. Quickly added you have to be over 18 years old to partake in this activity. Big Ben by Night tickets are £42. purchase your ticket here Fall in love with London all over again, as you experience night-time kayaking on the longest river in England.

 

 

Friday Favourites: South West Wine School

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Wine fascinates us with all the varieties, colours and flavours which are infinite; and being able to identify a specific wine is pretty much in everyone’s wish list. At The Amazing Blog we always enjoy learning more about the origin of the wines, how it affects the characteristics with the difference in taste or texture and so on. This is why we were intrigued to find out more about the South West Wine School with their Wine and Spirit Education Trust courses.

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The South West Wine School, was co-founded by Jonathan and Hayley Reynolds with the aim of providing first class wine education across the country. Both with numerous years of expertise, Hayley holds the DipWSET diploma, while Jonathan is WSET Level 3 certified and said “I have recently taken and passed my WSET Level 3. It provides such a comprehensive education on everything related to wine, from growing vines, winemaking and the different grape varieties to serving recommendations and food and wine pairings.” This year, they are holding WSET (Wine & Spirit Education Trust) courses to give you the chance to get your diploma, just like Jonathan and Hayley. Sponsored by the likes of Salcombe Gin, Eversfield Organic, Enotria & Coe, Vineyard Productions, The Eco Laundry, Kingston Estate and Deer Park Country House, this event couldn’t look more promising. They offer comprehensive education from growing wines, learning about the different grape varieties, to winemaking and serving recommendations. They are also members of associations like Food & Drink Devon and Taste of the West.

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) was established in 1969 for the UK wine trade. It provides optimal education courses and certifications recognised globally as the international standard in wine and spirit knowledge for both wine enthusiasts and professionals. The courses will take place at the South West Wine School’s headquarters in Wakeham Farm, in South Devon and will be primarily taught by Hayley Reynolds and Rebecca Mitchell (also DipWSET certified). The next available courses begin in September and go along until the end of November.

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Please see the following dates:

WSET Level 1 is on Thursday 5th September, Wednesday 9th October and Wednesday 6th November. Sign up to obtain the WSET Level 1 diploma. This course is ideal for those who are new to the wine industry. You will learn about the world of wine, explore the types and style through sight, smell and taste and gain skills to describe wines accurately to know what the best food is for pairing. Sign up for a 7 hour day course beginning at 10am for £155.

To achieve the WSET 2, they are doing 3 day courses, a total of 21 hours, for £395. This qualification is suitable for those seeking a deeper understanding of wines. From wine regions, grape varieties and styles, to classifications and labelling terminology, this course is excellent to be taken to the core of the wine industry for those aiming to achieve an intermediate level of knowledge. Moreover, you will also receive an overview of the key categories of liqueurs and spirits. WSET Level 2 – 3 day courses: Wednesday 11th, 18th, and 25th of September. Or Tuesday 12th, 19th, and 26th of November.

WSET Level 3 – 6 day course: Tuesday 10th, 17th, 24th September continuing Tuesday 1st, 8th and 15th October. In order to take the WSET Level 3 course, you will need to have passed the Level 2. This level is for those wanting to become professionals and work in the wine industry. This is a much more in-depth course, touching up on grape growing and the mastering of wine making. Once completed, you will be able to confidently assess wines accurately, delving deeper onto style and quality. The course is 6 days long and has a price of £695.

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They welcome the professional, enthusiast or beginner to these courses. You can sign up here and embark on this journey to become wine expert obtaining an international qualification. Perfect for ticking off on your wish list!

Friday Favourites - Summer Cookbooks

 

Today The Amazing Blog wants to share with you some of our #amazingfinds with four new cookbooks that have encouraged us to create some fantastic international dishes for our friends. Our gastronomic journey starts with India moves onto to Morocco and then the Philippines and returns back to the UK just in time to put the BBQ on!

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Let’s kicked off by something of a whirlwind of inspiration in the culinary prowess of Asma Khan, who moved to the UK in 1991 from Calcutta without any knowledge of how to cook, but a firm belief in the power of food to bring people together, and the opportunities created through this to forge new friendships, learning of different cultures and traditions along the way. Although it was British constitutional law which focused her attentions to begin with, having finished her doctorate in 2012, she turned her entrepreneurial talents towards the kitchen, and has been gaining awards and garnering attention ever since. As a descendant of the ancient Rajput Suryavanshi Bargujar clan on her paternal side, and pioneering tea planters in Darjeeling from her maternal ancestry, Asma’s heritage is undisputed, and her book ‘Asma’s Indian Kitchen’ is a delicious romp through India’s rich history, and culinary voyage. “Your food should feel like an embrace” she tells us, and such warmth emanates from the pages. Beautifully photographed and with anecdotes peppered throughout, her book really is a delight to enjoy in and out of the kitchen! Her Shahi Kofta - or lamb meatballs in a rich gravy - are a sensation, as are her stuffed bell peppers - or Bharwa Simla Mirch to use the correct terminology … useful to know, especially if you fancy trying out her award-winning restaurant Darjeeling Express in Soho. Published by Pavilion Books for £14.99  and available here .

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If Morocco is more your thing, then Nargisse Benkabbou is offering up “Casablanca - My Moroccan Food” to encourage us to whip out that tagine, and start making magic with the amazing flavours of her culture, but often with a mix of Western dishes too. Again, here we don’t just have a culinary manual to enjoy, but rather more an introduction to how these foods fit within the gloriously colourful culture and traditions. Nargisse began sharing her feasting knowledge originally through a highly successful blog, ‘My Moroccan Food’, and this book is the natural result of those posts. If you are partial to a spot of marinating - and who of us aren’t - then try the Sweet Chermoula Seared Beef, which promises a ‘flavour bomb’, and we love the idea of a dish taking us to far-flung places with the aromas of Casablanca which are promised in the Amlou Rolls.So many temptations to try, and written with a warmth and friendliness utterly reminiscent of Morocco herself. Octopus Books have brought us this one, priced at £20 and available here 

 

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Perhaps the Philippines as a gastronomic destination gets your taste buds going? The New Filipino Kitchen is another huge spectrum of different tastes and flavours from the myriad of islands with so much to explore, and brought to us digitally thanks to Jacqueline Chio-Lauri who has edited a collection of fascinating stories, giving extra meaning to each recipe from a wide ranging assortment of cuisine masters - and all for us to try from the comfort of our laptop. Describing the chapters under the heading of simply ‘seafood’, ‘meat’ or ‘desserts’ feels a little like short-changing this extensive jaunt around those 7000 or so islands which make up such a vibrant nation. However, the ‘New Filipino Kitchen’ is a serious contender for our attention if culinary escapism is your thing. Quite unique with the information it relays, this book could send us into a frenzy - imagine if you will ‘Stuffed Fish Grilled in Banana Leaves and Eggplant Salad with Toasted Pancetta’, or to translate that properly and pay due homage, ‘Inihaw Na Isda At Ensaladang Talong’ … Well Imagine it no longer, simply turn to page 36, and enter Tasting Heaven! Both digital and hard copies are available on Amazon here from £15.18

 

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Now, it would seem churlish not to include a cookbook with origins a little closer to home, and of course there is an enormous library of titles to choose from, but one which stands out with an irresistible edge is the “Fresh Veggie BBQ” by David & Charlotte Bailey,encouraging us to embrace the outdoor option of serving up a meal from a vegetarian friendly barbecue menu. Completely eschewing any notion that vegetarian food has to be less colourful or indeed tasty, David and Charlotte give us 60 recipe options like ‘Caramelized Bananas with Vanilla Ice Cream’, ‘Rosemary Sweet Potato Chips’ or - and this one is seriously tempting ‘Wild Mushroom & Artichoke One-Pot Pie’ to dispel those myths completely. However, this time of course our kitchen is found in the great outdoors through the tradition that is ‘barbecue’ which of course is a culture within itself. With advice on the different options open to us, from using dutch ovens to the very impressive discipline of burying our ingredients in hot ash and embers - otherwise known as ‘rescoldo’, we have an encyclopaedia of vegetarian goodies to try out -and with the weather back here at home offering us it’s most favourable conditions (Ok well that was in July perhaps not August!) We can’t be the only ones twitching to get those charcoals burning! Published by Pavilion Books with an RRP of £14.99 here the ‘Fresh Veggie BBQ’ is a must.

…And with all these delicious ideas, we’re preparing to cook up a storm this Bank Holiday weekend!

Friday Favourites – Eye Products

We always like to stress the importance of caring for your skin, and today we want to talk about the eye area. The skin around the eyes is thinner and more active than the rest of the face, particularly with all our squinting, frowning and laughing. This eye area doesn’t create hydration or replace moisture and is an area that we’re constantly touching or rubbing, making it more prone to dryness or worse – wrinkles! We at The Amazing Blog know what you’re thinking, that eye creams are just more expensive moisturisers in a smaller bottle. Well, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth. Please read on.

Eye creams are specifically formulated for the thin and delicate skin around our eyes. They are more intense and moisturising than a face cream, plus have more active ingredients aimed at protecting and hydrating the eye area. So, here dear readers we have a new selection of eye care recommendations that we can’t wait for you to try too.

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The first eye cream we have for you today is the Tiiya Alanoud Alattiya Epiphany Concentrated Eye Cream.  Alanoud Alattiya is a couturier by trade and because she’s related to royalty, knows all about the finer things in life. The Concentrated Eye Cream was specifically designed to fight signs of ageing around the eyes. It works to fight signs of stress and fatigue, leaving you with brighter and youthful skin. We recommend applying it every morning and night to clean skin for best results. The cream contains Phytocelltec™ Alp Rose, Swiss flowers that grow at high altitudes, forcing them to adapt to extreme conditions. When used in skincare, it helps to maintain the characteristics of skin stem cells and protects the cells against UV-stress. You can purchase the anti-ageing power of the Tiiya Alanoud Alattiya Epiphany Concentrated 30ml Eye Cream here for £96.

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Next up we have the Viliv e - Shape Your Eyes Rich Eye Cream. Viliv was created by the expert Dr. Felix Bertram, a specialist with an international reputation in dermatology, skin surgery and beauty treatments based in Switzerland. He is an authoritative voice and sought-after in the field of wrinkle treatment, aesthetic medicine and cosmetics; so, we can all breathe a sigh of relief knowing that the Viliv e -Shape Your Eyes Rich Eye Cream has been created by someone with great knowledge and expertise.

A hot favourite with us all at The Amazing Blog, we particularly liked that Viliv e - Shape Your Eyes Rich Eye Cream felt gentle, soothing and hydrating on our skin. Dr Bertram alerts us to the day-to-day things that affect the skin from the environment to the foods we eat. Something that you probably didn’t know is that when sugar molecules enter the skin via food, they accumulate on collagen fibres, eventually clogging them up and making the skin increasingly inelastic causing wrinkles to develop. Happily, this is where the Viliv e - Shape Your Eyes Rich Eye Cream is specially formulated to help keep lines at bay by gently firming the eye area with ameliox with carnosine (more about this in a later feature on Viliv skincare). Other ingredients such as vitamin E and silymarin (from milk thistle) help to push cell renewal and keep the skin supple. Also, hyaluronic acid, cupuacu butter and macadamia nut oil all provide extra moisture, all leading to rehydrated and more youthful-looking eyes. This is a brand is not only full of biotechnology and science but is also 100% vegan, parabens, mineral oils, colourants, BHT, EDTA, fragrance
and cruelty free. Dr. Bertram gave us a quick tip telling us to keep the eye cream in the fridge during the summer, this makes it very cooling and refreshing when applied. Want to purchase this doctor-approved eye cream? You can get your very own 25ml pot of Viliv e - Shape Your Eyes Rich Eye Cream, for £75 here .

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Finally, let’s meet Cinere, their mission is simple: Create pure, natural products made using only the finest ingredients. AEPC Laboratories (Amalgamated Euro Products Corporation) developed this skincare where they believe in using the timeless elements of nature and state of the art research to create unique products. This is another favourite brand with us, and we’ve previously written about their 100% Natural Cleansing Gel and Extra Rich Nourishing Cream. Cinere uses both their passion for natural ingredients and their expertise in science and dermatology. They have created products with some of the finest essentials oils and other natural therapeutic elements that all work at a cellular level.

The Cinerex Ageless Concentrated Eye Serum is a lightweight formula to help reduce dark circles, fine lines and puffiness around the eyes. This contains a unique blend of highly concentrated proteins and peptides, which work to put wrinkles on hold and reduce the signs of ageing. After all, who doesn’t want to look younger? Serums are great for this as they provide a concentrated amount of active ingredients and absorb quickly into the skin. Cinerex Ageless Eye Contour Serum, keeps eyes looking brighter and more rested. Want an immediate skin pick-me-up? Cinerex Ageless Eye Contour Serum 15ml can be purchased here for £28.

Which one will you choose?

Woodsetton Art Pottery's Workshop

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After a long week, there's nothing better than doing relaxing and creative activity. We think that pottery achieves just that, allowing us to take the time-out immersing ourselves in something that doesn't involve work, emails or social media. Something we actively try and encourage at The Amazing Blog, so we were excited to learn more about the Woodsetton Art Pottery's classes.

We came across Woodsetton Art Pottery's is the brainchild of Lorraine Bates, who aims to tailor classes, ensuring everyone leaves with a newfound knowledge (whether you're brand new to pottery, or more experienced). Based in Woodsetton, West Midlands, there is a space for everyone, from beginner classes to throwing and glazing. With a maximum of seven people per workshop, the courses aim to improve everyone’s creative skills, gaining optimum knowledge and interaction with a pottery professional. The studio is also well equipped, with electric potter wheels and a range of equipment for hand builders and sculptures.

The beginner's pottery course includes hand building, extruding and sculpting. The aim is that every student will learn to throw on the wheel, giving the opportunity to let your inner child out (and to get your hands dirty in the process). If you choose only to do this course, then you can make use of Lorraine's extensive experience, paying £2 per piece for her to tidy/turn your work, with subsequent biscuit firing, glazing and glaze firing. This means that however skilled you prove to be (or not), you will leave with a professionally finished piece.

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For a more advanced course, Lorraine offers throwing courses. These are a day long, with a maximum of five students, allowing each person access to their own wheel - improving throwing and turning techniques. Alternatively, if glazing is your interest, then there is also a separate glazing workshop. Here you will learn to apply different glazes, colours and dippings, to make your pieces true works of art. The created pots can also be decorated with sponging, stencilling and brushing.

The Raku Day workshop is slightly different, allowing students to bring in their own works from home (size permitting), to decorate and glaze in the workshop. The extensive experience of Woodsetton Pottery will ensure that you leave with new glaze recipes, with the focus being to teach correct mixing techniques, including ways in which to reduce oxidisation.

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If you’re interested in enhancing your creative personality, the workshops run from 10am-4pm during both the week, and on Saturdays. There is also the possibility to arrange a group workshop for you and your friends. Up to six wonderfully decorated objects are included in the fee, which will be bisque fired and glazed, and available for collection within four weeks. Generally, day courses are £75 each (Monday to Friday) and £90 on Saturdays, You can also purchase gift vouchers as a special treat for loved ones. You might like to attend a workshop in August (subject to availability)⚱17th August - Places - £90 - Throwing on the wheel plus associated handbuilding and decorating techniques. Suitable for beginner or those honing their techniques.⚱25th August - Places - £90 - Throwing on the wheel plus associated hand-building and decorating techniques. Suitable for beginner or those honing their techniques. Otherwise from September onwards course dates will 3 months in advance. Please visit their Tumblr page here to see an extensive list of specific workshops and prices. Enjoy!