A little while ago, I went to the Pure Wellness centre to get ‘Wellness Score’ and report which is an assessment and analysis of your body composition, neuro-spinal health, functional fitness and nutrition, and many many other parameters regarding how your body functions. I really valued the whole experience and I would encourage everyone to do it and find out the details of your health!
If, after reading this blog post, you’d like to do the same, you can use the code Magda39 to get your Wellness Score, a record of findings and two adjustments by the chiropractor for just £39 instead of £180. It’s really worth doing! Here’s why.
After undergoing all these detailed assessments, I recently got all the results and they turned out to be a bit worrying, but definitely fixable. The results are very detailed and Dr Rebecca was explaining them for about 30 minutes!
My biggest problem is lack of core strength and flexibility and not enough muscle mass percentage. I basically know now what my partner has been telling me for a long time – I need to gain more muscle. I’ve already started a diet which contains more protein, and I’m also ready for some more gym sessions. I need to gain 6kg (about a stone) in muscle, which is not the same as fat obviously!
I also know from the scans where the tension in my back is, so Dr Rebecca knows where to make some adjustments.
When it comes to my mental health, I’m in a ‘fight or flight’ mode and my stress level is high…so I definitely need to relax a bit more in my busy lifestyle. Who doesn’t in these hectic times? I recently started yoga sessions, so hopefully that will help!
I am very happy that I had the opportunity to do the Wellness Score report, because I was convinced that I was super healthy, but this detailed report made me aware that there are issues in my body that should and can be fixed. Remember that taking care of your health is the biggest investment you can make.
So if you want to take care of your or your relatives’ health in a professional way, remember you can use my code Magda39 to get a discount on the Wellness Score and adjustments. I’ll describe the adjustments in my next blog post. The whole experience is totally worth it!
Would you be interested in doing a similar wellness report?
AD-REVIEW – I was gifted the experience at Pure Wellness, but words in this article are my own and according to my opinions.
In my previous blog post, which you can find here, I wrote about my first skiing experience in the charming village of Chatél, located in the French part of the skiing resort Portes du Soleil. Eating local food is part of a concept called aprés ski (‘after skiing’), and trying some traditional dishes like raclette or fondue in charming restaurants is simply a must. With the photos below I’ll prove why. Warning! The pictures are not suitable for vegans… prepare yourself for some cheese porn!
Believe me, your body will scream to eat or drink something warm and comforting after skiing for the whole day. The best thing is that you’re allowed to eat calorie-rich dishes without any feelings of guilt! Why? Because you know you’ve burnt calories while skiing on the slopes and need to refill your fuel for the next day. Let’s start with a description of Fondue Savoyarde aux Morilles, which is a pot of melted cheese into which you dip some accompanying ingredients.
The fondue is served with charcutrie (cold cuts of local meat) and some pieces of bread. Digging these ingredients into the melted cheese is almost like a sexual pleasure. Our fondue was made of three different kinds of cheese and mushrooms. If you want to make a similar fondue at home, you can find the recipe here. It tasted divine.
The next delectable dish you cannot miss after skiing is raclette – which was traditionally the name of a cheese, but is now also used to refer to a dish which originated in Savoie, a region of the Alps between the borders of France, Italy and Switzerland.
Raclette consists of cheese which is melted underneath a special electric grill and scraped down onto boiled potatoes, cured ham and pickled gherkins. The most exciting part of trying this dish in a restaurant is that you look at the boiling cheese turning brownish and crispy under the electric fire and scrape it yourself onto the potatoes and ham – it can only be described as an orgasmic experience! I recommend eating both Raclette and Fondue at Cafe/Restaurant called Zeph.
Crème brûlée – probably known to everyone as a rich, creamy vanilla dessert with a caramelized layer of sugar on top which appears after being burnt.
Our crème brûlée was on fire for a very long time, which was very pleasant to watch, as you can see in the video below.
Even though Crêpe bretonne did not originate in the area where I was staying, it’s a popular dish in many crêperies – places where you can eat a variety of savoury or sweet French crêpes. It’s made of wheat or buckwheat flour and plenty of butter for a rich, buttery flavour. Mine was simple: with cinnamon sugar and almond flakes.
Don’t forget to fuel yourself with some heartwarming drinks while skiing on the slopes. We had some tea, hot chocolate or mulled wine with citruses after skiing.
Shops with local produce are amazing places to visit. Beautiful displays of hundreds of types of cheeses, charcuterie, honey and colourful confiture will make you want to try them all. The photos below were taken in a local shop in the area called Morzine.
I know it looks as if consuming all the food shown in my blog post will make you put on weight. High calorie cheeses, cured ham, crème brûlée, hot chocolate, mulled wine and crêpes do not sound like a healthy selection of food! But isn’t being on holiday and skiing a lot a great excuse to indulge yourself in all this naughtiness? Of course it is! I actually lost weight during that holiday, even though I ate cheese almost everyday. So my only advice is ‘Keep calm, ski a lot and eat whatever you want!’ Which of these dishes would you like to try the most?
The area called Portes du Soleil is literally translated as ‘The Doors of the Sun,’ and it’s the second-biggest skiing location in the world. It will stun you with breathtaking mountainous landscapes, plenty of ski slopes of different levels of difficulty, charming wooden chalets and fantastic regional food. In this blog post, I’ll describe my first skiing experience – a one-week stay in the beautiful village of Chatel, which is a part of Portes du Solei, and, next week, a post about the comforting food I tried after skiing.
When choosing which part of Portes du Soleil you want to stay in, you should first consider your skiing experience. If you are a beginner, you should (or even must) look for an area with green slopes. It’s advisable to take lessons with a skiing instructor, but we didn’t. Instead, we watched a video explaining basic skiing skills and practiced for an hour on a little hill.
Blue pistes are for more experienced skiers (don’t trust the maps saying they are easy as some of them are not!), red ones are inclined and challenging and the black ones are for…the suicidal. Just kidding, obviously, but you must have a lot of experience to approach red or black slopes, so take it slowly and sensibly.
A very important thing to remember is not to be demotivated when seeing some 6-year-old kids overtaking you or skiing on the red and black slopes. They’re normally part of skiing schools and train every weekend from November to April. You also shouldn’t think, ‘Oh, if a child is going on this slope I can do it too!’ It’s misleading, because some of these children are real skiing masters!
If you’re a skiing expert, you can ski from one area of Portes du Solei to another by using gondolas (télécabines) and slopes encoded in different colours. If you look at the map below, its way of getting you from one place to another reminds me a bit the Underground map, and that’s the way you should read it.
Ben went everywhere on his skis, but because I was scared to use the blue and red slopes to get from Chatel to Morzine, we had to take our car to get to the green slopes in Super-Morzine, which took 45 minutes.
Chatel is appropriate for beginners with its green slope La Bellete, however it’s not the best one to start with because it’s quite narrow and curvy. If I were to choose again, as a beginner, I would have gone to a town called Morzine for a full week. The slopes in Super-Morzine (check the map) are wide, and I think I gained a lot of confidence there which is the key to improving your skiing skills. The video below shows a beautiful part of Super-Morzine
I felt so confident on Morzine’s slopes that I finally took to the blue pistes and eventually got to the Swiss part!
It’s apparently a pattern when you start skiing that one day you feel that you can conquer any green or blue slopes and the day after you think you’re like a starter again. This theory proved right in my case. Remember you’ll also experience tiredness and muscle stiffness after a few days of skiing which doesn’t help to see the improvement. Prepare yourself for some bruises!
If you don’t have your own equipment, skis, shoes and poles can be rented on the spot at special shops. The staff will help you to choose the appropriate ones for your weight and height. Our skis, shoes and poles were included in the price of a self catering apartment and tele-ski tickets. The tickets Ben bought for us allowed us to use all the slopes in Portes du Solei, but you can choose a smaller area which will be cheaper. Check the booking options here.
Other gear can be bought in Decathlon in the skiing section. I would suggest the following: a helmet, gloves, skiing trousers, and special blouses that keep you warm. Don’t forget about suncream protection, as the sun can be very strong on the top of the mountains, and lip balm – your lips get super dry on the slopes!
I hope my blog post explained what’s important to consider when going skiing for the first time. Portes du Solei was a real ‘Door to the Sun’ for us with one week of full sunshine and soft snow on the pistes, and despite some bruises, feeling of doubts, and tears, I am really grateful for the experience. My next blog post will explain everything about so-called apres-ski – things you can do after skiing – but I will mainly focus on traditional dishes. Stay tuned for mouthwatering photos of Fondue, Raclette and others!
Today’s post is all about spending Christmas at my family home in Poland, but mainly focusing on Christmas Eve. I’m sure every Polish family is different – what’s served at my home is not necessarily served at another – but there are definitely a few dishes that my compatriots will recognise immediately. I grew up with the traditions and dishes shown below and I simply love Polish Christmas food. If you’re ever invited to a Polish house for Christmas Eve, don’t hesitate for a second! I hope my blog post will show you why.
Christmas traditions in a nutshell
We celebrate Christmas on the 24th of December contrary to English-speaking countries where it’s celebrated on the 25th. It’s always a big family gathering: the more people, the merrier! There is always one empty plate put on the table in case an unexpected guest wanted to join the feast or was simply looking for shelter. We sing Christmas carols and share an ‘opłatek’, which is a wafer with religious embroidery.
Another important tradition is that we put some hay beneath the tablecloth as a form of rememberance that Jesus, according to the Bible, was put in a manger covered with hay.
It is believed in Poland that animals are magically able to talk on the 24th of December. Legend has it that they received this power to talk because they were present at the stable where Jesus was born. So don’t be surprised if you see a Polish person talking to his/her animal and expecting an answer in a human voice…
In a traditional Polish home you should abstain from eating meat or drinking alcohol on the 24th of December – a rule not followed by my family. We both eat meat and drink alcohol – naughty people!
According to tradition, there should be twelve dishes served on the table – one for each month of the year (twelve is also a symbol of wealth and represents the twelve apostles). In my family, we don’t really count how many dishes we serve. I would say that we usually have more than twelve and it’s the reason we cannot move from the table after we finish eating! Below are some traditional dishes that we eat. I won’t describe all the ingredients these dishes are composed of, but just mention the main ones to give you a general idea of what they actually are. If you’re looking for the recipes for some of them, just type the names into Google.
Red Borscht with small dumplings (called uszka) – Barszcz czerwony z uszkami
Dumplings filled with sauerkraut and mushrooms – Pierogi z kapusta i grzybami
Sauerkraut with mushrooms – Bigos.
Carp is the most popular fish served at Christmas and I would risk saying probably only at Christmas, as outside of this period carp is not popular at all. When I was younger I remember my father bringing some live carp home and putting them in a bath filled with water. The tradition I once loved and got excited about is now something I don’t really understand and get angry about. In fact, not only me – there have been a lot of campaigns against it, mainly due to the fact that carp are brought home alive in plastic bags before being released in the bath.
Carp in jelly
Cod marinated in grated carrots, tomatoes, onions and vinegar – Ryba po grecku
The direct translation would be “Fish made in a Greek way”, but the funny thing is that the Greeks know nothing about this method. It’s in fact a modification of a famous Greek recipe.
Polish Potato Salad, also known as the Russian salad – Saładka jarzynowa
The salad is made from different types of root vegetables like potatoes, carrots, and parsnips; we also add boiled eggs and gherkins and mix it all with mayo.
Steak Tartare – Befsztyk tatarski
This is raw minced meat mixed with raw eggs, gherkins, onions and mustard. I used to avoid it, thinking I would have a tape worm in my stomach after eating raw meat. I love it now and the meat is actually safe to eat. This dish should not really be part of traditional Polish dinners served at Christmas, but it is in my home, so I’ll always consider it as my family’s tradition and a part of Christmas Eve.
Poppy seed cake – Makowiec
Cheesecake – Sernik
White cheese is mixed with flour, eggs, sugar and, contrary to English cheesecakes, it requires baking.
My father’s layercake
There are drawbacks to such an abundance of food on Christmas Eve. First of all, it’s time-consuming and therefore stressful. Shopping in advance, spending hours in the kitchen and, of course, arguments happen! In my home everything is home-made so you can imagine how much time and effort is spent on preparing these dishes. However, these are the traditions I grew up with and would like to cultivate in the future – I’m not sure what the outcome will be!
Autumn can be quite depressing – it’s the season when many people experience lowered moods. That’s why it’s so important to make the most of sunny days (whenever they appear), and go out and enjoy a stroll while watching colourful leaves fall. Going to a local farm to pick some seasonal fruits and vegetables, or mushroom picking in the forest should absolutely be on your autumnal ‘to do’ list too! In today’s blog post, I will describe some activities you can do in Bournemouth and the surrounding area that can make autumnal melancholy and gloominess a bit more bearable.
Go to the New Forest
I don’t need to introduce the New Forest to locals, but if you are a tourist or a student in Bournemouth, visiting this National Park is a must. Wild ponies, deer, pigs, and spectacular purple heathland are some of the wonders awaiting you in the New Forest. If you want to know more about one of the New Forest’s fascinating villages, Burley, I wrote about it here last autumn. The legend of the witch who used to live there will get you into the Halloween mood.
Another thing you can do in the New Forest is mushroom picking, but only if you are able to distinguish the edible from the poisonous! I’m not an expert, but I can definitely spot the kings of mushrooms – ceps – which are very precious ingredients for restaurant owners. If you want to learn how to collect edible mushrooms, check out the foraging course the New Forest commission organises here. Mushroom picking in the New Forest is allowed, but not for commercial purposes. It means families who go foraging can pick up to 1.5 kg.
Once you learn how to collect edible mushrooms, try making risotto. The one we made with the New Forest ceps tasted heavenly and made me grateful for the amazing fruits that autumn bears – wild mushrooms.
Go for a walk to the Gardens and take some ‘perspective’ photos with leaves
I live close to the Upper Gardens, which are in the town centre. I go there for autumn, spring and even winter strolls and I’ve written about its history and plants here and here. You can make your autumn walks unique by taking perspective photos with leaves. Using leaves is an original and creative way of capturing an autumnal atmosphere on your phone or camera. Simply grab a leaf or two and play with your imagination. I went for leaf wings and a skirt, as you will see in the photos below!
In order to take a perspective photo with a leaf, ask your photographer to hold a leaf in front of the camera while you move further away from them. It’s not easy to take a perfect shot, but it’s feasible if you cooperate and move according to the photographer’s instructions.
These are two examples of when perspective photos do not look as they should!
Go to a local farm to pick some seasonal vegetables.
There’s something satisfying about cooking dishes made from produce you picked yourself. I think it might be an inheritance from our ancestors who had to harvest according to the season to provide food for the family. It’s fun, educational and you can support local farmers. There are so many of them; we went to Sopley Farm, but you can Google other local farms in the area.
Whether you’re an autumn lover or you tend to experience some melancholy during this rainy and windy period, I hope I’ve encouraged you to take part in some of the activities that are featured in this blog post to cheer you up. Will you try them?
Sicily enchanted us with its hospitable people, natural beauty, architecture, and fantastic food. In this blog post, I’ll suggest a couple of places which are worth visiting and the food you should try if you go to the eastern side of this beautiful Italian island. To be honest, when I look at the content of this blog post, there are more photos of food than anything else, but this is what I like most about travelling – eating traditional and local food! There’s one important thing you need to remember in order to enjoy Sicily – you need to rent a car!
We landed in Catania, one of the biggest cities in Sicily, so we decided to spend two nights there. Unfortunately, the city did not make a good impression on me. Apart from having an apartment with a view of Etna, trying very good food at Al Gabbiano 2, and experiencing the buzzing night life, I will remember Catania as loud, crowded, and full of graffiti and dirty streets. I spent only one day there so my opinion may be unfair, but I would avoid spending too much time in this city. If you are interested in its architecture and sights, visit this website.
Not far from Catania (about 45 minutes away) there is a picturesque seaside town called Taormina – click the link to see ten things you can do there. Its beautiful pebbly beach, the Issola Bella island in the middle of the sea, and the spectacular views you can admire from the top of Taormina’s hill will impress even the most demanding tourists.
While walking around the centre of Taormina, you’ll experience lively music performances, an abundance of little trattorias with authentic Sicilian food, and posh boutiques. Taormina definitely deserves the title of the ‘Sicilian Saint-Tropez’! We ate a seafood platter at Osteria da Rita and we highly recommend it!
If you like peacefulness and tranquility and want to avoid crowds, I’d suggest renting out a room at a farmhouse called Pantanelli Di Vendicari. It’s located near to the touristic town of Noto, but far away from its crowds. If you stay at this charming guesthouse, you’ll eat delicious food made from their home-grown produce (aubergines, peppers, almonds etc.), hear crickets in the evening, birds in the morning and simply be far away from noise of everyday life.
The farmhouse is located close to the Vendicari Natural Reserve which is a great place to walk around and admire its wildlife. The sea there is crystal clear and the wilderness of the place will release you from the everyday busy-ness of your life.
Ten minutes away from the farmhouse, there is the fishing village of Marzamemi, where you should definitely spend a couple of hours. You’ll love its cute little restaurants in the square and the harbour. Be careful though – if you want to buy lunch or dinner in the square, be prepared to empty your whole pocket and still feel hungry. The seafood we had at the restaurant Principino was delicious and fresh but the portions were not generous and the prices high.
The beaches in San Lorenzo (the town very close to our farmhouse) are simply stunning. The beach was empty, probably because it was late September so off-peak season, and we felt as if the beach was just for us. Don’t forget your snorkeling equipment as the crystal clear water will allow you to see plenty of sea life.
If you are a history and architecture lover, take a trip to Noto – a town which will stun you with its beautiful baroque-style architecture. It’s know as the ‘Stone Garden’ and in the pictures below you’ll see why.
On your way back to Catania’s airport, stop at Syracuse. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to visit the historical centre, but we managed to pop in to the Ortygia market, where charismatic fishermen sell fresh seafood and other Sicilian delicacies.
I hope my blog post about what to visit on the eastern side of Sicily will encourage you to visit some of the places and try some of the dishes I have included in this article. Below I will write some pieces of advice you may find useful when going to Sicily:
If you plan to rent a car, take your credit card with you. The rental companies do not accept debit cards to take a deposit and you’ll end up paying a lot of money for insurance.
Be extremely careful while driving – some Sicilian drivers don’t respect any road rules!
Avoid renting out accommodation in busy places like Catania. It’s better to search for so-called ‘Agroturismo’ run by families. It’s more relaxing to stay there and they will feed you with local food at a much cheaper price than in the centre of touristic towns.
Don’t be surprised to see the sides of streets and motorways full of rubbish bags. It is apparently a consequence of new recycling requirements which some Sicilian people are not used to following. They prefer to leave their bags on the motorways!
A quick reminder of what Sicilian food you should try:
Pasta Siciliana (pasta with almond pesto which is so creamy and delicious)
Pasta alla Norma (pasta with grilled aubergines, tomatoes and grated ricotta cheese)
Local wine (any type really; it is delicious) and Messina beer
Cannoli (an Italian dessert with pistachio or ricotta filling)
Arancini (fried rice covered with breadcrumbs, most commonly with a mozarella or ragu filling)
When you visit London for the first time, taking a photo with Big Ben or the London Eye is a must. When you come to Bournemouth, you probably want to capture something which exemplifies its seasidey nature and will later on remind you of the time you spent by the sea. Well, what can be more seasidey than some colourful beach huts? Don’t get me wrong – I’m not comparing beach huts with Big Ben! I’m just saying that they are a symbol of Bournemouth and at the same time very Instagrammable!
The most colourful beach huts are between Bournemouth Pier and Boscombe Pier. Some Instagram influencers adjust their outfits to the background of their photos and I can assure you that Bournemouth’s beach huts are painted in so many different shades that even the most colour-obsessed influencer will be satisfied.
An interesting fact is that Bournemouth’s first beach hut, which was built in 1909, still exists, and you can find it near the Bournemouth Seafront Office. It’s easy to find, because it’s marked with a Blue Plaque.
What can you use the beach huts for?
There are more than 250 beach huts available for hire, and you can read FAQs about hiring one of them here. People rent beach huts because it’s an easy and convenient way to spend a whole day at the beach with the possibility of cooking (gas stoves are provided) or hiding inside to avoid the wind or scorching sun. While passing by the beach huts, you’ll often see a group of friends, or families having barbecues, or people just lying on sunbeds next to their huts.
If you have a little bit more time, you can have a walk , a bike ride or take a bus to see the beach huts in Mudeford. They are much bigger so you can actually sleep there, which means you can rent them for a whole weekend. If you happen to want to purchase one of these colourful beauties, you’ll need around £250,000!
If you think no-one sane will want to buy a beach hut which does not have a shower, toilet facilities, running water or electricity for £250,000, you’re mistaken! As a potential buyer, you would be on a waiting list of 30 people. You can read an article about it here.
Even if I were a millionaire, I would hesitate to buy a beach hut in Mudeford. But while I was looking at the sea from a beach hut’s decking, admiring the pristine beach and the Isle of Wight in the background, I understood that the peacefulness and tranquility of this place may be priceless to some people…or at least tempt them to pay £250,000 just to wake up with this view.
Would you agree with me that beach huts are a symbol of Bournemouth?