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italian jaunt: siena


moving into tuscany, siena (another hill town with escalators!), was our next stop. siena is a beautiful, albeit very busy and touristy, city that was wonderful to explore. il campo (pictured above) is the star feature - a medieval piazza with gently sloping red-brick sides and an abundance of space to sit back and enjoy the late summer sun.

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italian jaunt: perugia and assisi


perugia, the capital of umbria is a medieval hill town. like bologna it has a large and lively student population. the architecture is obviously very different to bologna (more stone, less bricks plus small sloping and winding streets rather than flat roads) but, having just over a third of the population it has a very different energy.

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italian jaunt: bologna


as regular readers will know, david and i have just spent a couple of weeks in italy. it was a bit of a whistle-stop tour but we managed to spend time in bologna, perugia, assisi, siena, pisa, lucca and florence. all our journeys were by train (eurostar to paris, overnight train to italy and local trains while we were there), which i thoroughly recommend to anyone who is looking to reduce their environmental impact or who just wants an easy and affordable way to travel.

bologna, the capital of emilia-romagna was our first stop and my favourite. it’s a large buzzy university city full of beautiful red-bricked buildings, many of which have covered walkways along their sides. this is where people stroll along after work, greeting friends and usually stopping briefly for something to drink and a bite to eat. and eat and drink we did!

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british food fortnight: plum bakewell tart


we’re nearing the end of british food fortnight (22 september- 7 october) which celebrates the diversity and range of delicious british food.

i’m not a regular cook of traditional british dishes, preferring to draw my inspiration from around the world, but the celebratory british food fortnight event that hippolyra from fuss free flavours is hosting seemed like the perfect excuse to settle into the british autumn with some british baking. this plum bakewell tart is my contribution.

bakewell tarts are traditional english baked desserts which consists of a shortcrust pastry shell, spread with jam and covered with a sponge-like filling enriched with ground almonds (known as frangipane). the flavouring that i am familiar with is cherry but having spotted a recipe from jamie oliver’s new book jamie at home i decided to go with a plum version.

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boost your brainpower

i’ve just returned to london after 2 weeks holiday in italy and despite having only been back at work for 4 days i’m already struggling. my concentration is minimal and my ability to focus on the task at hand seems to have gone awol.

urgent action is needed and i’ve been researching ways to boost my brainpower. i thought i’d share my top 5 with you in case the increasingly wintry days are getting to you too. these tips are also good for kids who’re struggling now the excitement of the new school term has worn off.

read more over at the daily tiffin, a blog that helps people have a healthy family lifestyle. i'll write about healthy eating, over at the daily tiffin, every fortnight.