17/11/2018

Restaurant: The Barn at Moor Hall - Aughton, Lancashire


When Dad told us that we’d be travelling for just shy of an hour from Chester to get to our lunch destination for Mum’s birthday, it’s fair to say there were a few raised eyebrows. Given the amount of incredible restaurants in our home city, at first we didn’t see the need to go all the way to Aughton, Lancashire.

That’s not to say we questioned the calibre of restaurant - Dad’s got a nack of seeking out the best places. This time however, it wasn’t just his verdict which we had the backing of. Voted the number one restaurant in Lancashire, featured in the Michelin Guide and with a Michelin starred restaurant within the 5 acres of land which this restaurant and rooms occupies, we were on to a winner.


Set within the beautiful North-Western countryside, this barn conversion opened only back in 2017 with Local lad, Mark Birchall heading up the kitchen. With 18 years of experience, he and his team delivered us with some incredible and classic dishes on this fine Sunday afternoon. 

Beginning proceedings with various gins, cocktails and beers, the limited but emphatic menu which offered up to three dishes for £35 took some deliberation. Opting for wild mushrooms with poached duck egg on sourdough to begin with, it was a wonderful opening. All ingredients are sourced from the farmland within Moor Hall where possible, or if not locally from around Lancs. I can only imagine these mushrooms were grown and eggs laid within a stones throw of my plate. 


Going light to begin with, that was about to change as Sunday roasts took centre stage and with my choice to go with the shared whole chicken with Olivia, I should’ve known I would end up eating at least three quarters of it. As I saw it approaching the table, minds were a blank as to how we’d tackle this without making a mess - good job it was just stopping by before returning to the kitchen to be cut by the chef! The chicken was delectably tender, the roast potatoes crispy on the outside and soft in the inside - as it should be, and the vegetables by no means took a back seat either. 

On a normal day we'd quite happily walk away at this point and get on with the rest of our afternoon, but we managed to save a special space for cheese in our incredibly full stomachs and proceed with dessert. Complete with local chutney, crackers, celery, grapes and apple, the artisan farmhouse cheeses varied in strength and style but were consistent in the fact that it was all absolutely outstanding.


The Barn at Moor Hall will live long in the memory and I'm sure will become a go to spot for occasion celebrations. Maybe we'll save a few pennies and head over to the Michelin starred restaurant next time!

It's not often that we give five stars on all fronts. 

Food: ★★★★★
Customer service: ★★★★★
Atmosphere: ★★★★★
Toilets: ★★★★★

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13/11/2018

Brighton: British Airways i360


We always end up finding ourselves back in Brighton - other than London, Sheffield and Chester it must be the place we've visited most together. It's got something that we can't quite put our finger on but despite that, there are still things we haven't done and seen there. The British Airways i360 is, or was one of them. 

On a glorious late Sunday afternoon we jumped at the opportunity to work with BA and take to the skies above this wonderful city. Gliding 450ft into the air from the landmark's futuristic glass viewing pod, we enjoyed a local G&T, stunning murmurations and the magnificent 360 views. 



The i360 was designed by Mark Barfield Architects, those responsible for the London Eye except this pod is over 10 times the size of those at London's equivalent. It's bringing people like us from the capital even further down south and contributing to the regeneration of this iconic seafront. On that note, of course we had amazing views of the famous Brighton Pier, but also all the way through the South Downs national park and we hear on a brighter day, the Isle of Wight. 

You really do get the best of all worlds - city, countryside and sea. It's the perfect location.



The experience doesn't stop at the pod however - downstairs there is such a nice store selling quality Brighton themed gifts and memorabilia, beach facing restaurant and the opportunity to buy green screen photo books. 



We hoped that through booking at 4pm we would catch the sunset whilst at the summit - we can confirm that there is no better time to experience Brighton. We ended the day with a stroll around the charming Lanes shopping area, a good old Sunday roast with university friends and some BeFries for the road! 

As this rooftop mural says, We Love Brighton!

P.S next time we'll be encountering British Airways is aboard a Miami bound flight in January - sunshine state content to come soon! 


Disclaimer: we were given complimentary tickets to the British Airways i360 in exchange for a mention in this blog post and coverage on social media. However as always, all pictures and views are our own.

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03/11/2018

Budget: Vegetable Paella (v)


Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 5 mins | Cook Time: 25 mins

Paella is that dish I never thought I'd make, not because I don't love it, but because no one makes it like the Spanish but sometimes you gotta do, what you gotta do when the craving is real. This dish is simply full of flavour and hearty with lots of different ingredients, which you can of course add chorizo to or leave it completely vegetarian.

Easy to make in one pot, perfect for lunch meal prep and just right for dinner.

Ingredients:

1 tbsp oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
300g paella rice or short grain rice (£1.40)
2tsp smoked paprika
900ml (1½pt) vegetable stock
400g tin chopped tomatoes (35p)
150g runner beans, sliced on an angle (75p)
1 red pepper, roughly chopped (55p)
1 x 210g tin chickpeas, drained (40p)
handful parsley, roughly chopped (70p)
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 lemon, juiced
a pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper



Instructions:

1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large frying pan and cook the onion and garlic for 5 minutes, until softened.

2. Stir in the rice, chilli flakes and paprika, cook for a further minute, then add the stock and tomatoes. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the runner beans, pepper and chickpeas and cook for another 10 minutes. Squeeze over the lemon juice and scatter with the parsley.

4. Serve with some extra lemon wedges on the side to squeeze over, if you like.

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18/10/2018

Review: Really Rice (Mercato Metropolitano) - Borough, London


What better way to end a long day at work with a trip south of the river to Mercato Metropolitano - a bustling indoor food market which has the ability to make you feel like you've just walked straight into Saturday night, on a Tuesday.

Despite the many incredible food options representing every region of the world, we were here for one reason only - Really Rice. Setup by two pals from university, Really Rice represents their travels together to Cuba, France, Japan and Turkey - all with one common theme... rice. 


Only a couple of years ago Kyle and Dami took a hobby of making simple rice dishes for their uni housemates, and now here at Mercato with their own stall and with plans to expand and explore new areas of London, we are absolutely loving their food and the stories behind each bite. 

As if that's not a selling point in itself, all of their dishes are vegan friendly and 100% gluten free. We're certainly not vegans (and actually, neither are they), so we were a little skeptical if the likes of tofu could replace pulled beef - but any doubts were vanished from the first taste. 

Opting for the France dish which was centred round a mushroom bourguignon, and Jessica going for Cuban quinoa, peppers and oyster mushrooms, both were absolutely delicious. The large bowls were filled with freshly cooked ingredients, grilled vegetables and brown basmati rice - making it not only outstanding in flavour, but hearty and healthy too. Whilst their menu has just the four options, all are fully customisable so you can truly make it your own. 


Our time chatting to Kyle and Dami ended with a chocolate brownie each -  one with walnut and one with coconut. Again, amazingly moist and flavoursome considering the vegan slant on this classic dessert, and one which we wouldn't dream of coming here again without making a repeat order. 

A massive thanks to Really Rice for having us! It was indeed, really rice to meet you.

Disclaimer: we were given complimentary meals at Really Rice in exchange for a mention in this blog post and coverage on social media. However as always, all pictures and views are our own.

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11/10/2018

Event: Afrobeats N Brunch - Duo, London


When you think of Sunday brunch, what do you see? I bet you’re thinking eggs Florentine or smashed ago on toast right? Well, this isn’t that kind of place! Afrobeats n Brunch will change your Sunday’s.

What does Afrobeats n Brunch offer? Unlimited rum punch from when the doors open at 1pm, for one whole hour. Yes, day drinking is the new thing! Gives you enough time in the day to live your best life and enough time to sober up before dinner ;)

Vegetarian chickpea cigars

With resident DJ's spinning all your favourite Afro Beat, Afro-house, Soul, Hip-hop & Commercial hits and host keeping you fully entertained, you've got yourself a day party! Have we got you hooked yet? Well, there’s much more to come.

Seated or dancing - or seat whining as the host liked to say, you are served with a 3 course meal of African cultured dishes, which include: Peri-peri chicken wings served with beef Jollof rice, coleslaw, and plantain - vegetarian and vegan dishes also available. 

With just enough time between courses to get a few steps on the dance floor or grab another drink or two at the bar, you are also treated with their amazing dancers - free styling to the Afrobeats the DJ throws at them.

Peri-peri chicken wings served with beef Jollof rice, coleslaw, and plantain

With the generous size of chicken wings covered in their special mild sauce planted on top of the savoury jollof rice, complimented with a slice of plantain, garnish and coleslaw you will not go home hungry and to finish off with a rich chocolate brownie topped with vanilla cream. 

So the bottomless rum punch hour is over, the 3-course meal has been demolished, that only leave the last two hours of dancing, games and entertainment! If you've booked yourself onto a birthday package, you get your 5 mins of fame, up at front waving your birthday flag while you get presented with a cake and sparkler! The real deal!


For that extra element of surprise, all events are sold as a secret location, only ticket holders find our the location the Tuesday before their selected event date, but don't fear, all locations are within Zone 1 & 2 on the tube map.

So whether you're looking to planing a celebration, something a little different or simply an excuse to party during the day, we would highly recommend this event.

Chocolate Brownie with vanilla cream topping

- FOR THE CULTURE!

Afrobeats n Brunch is running every other Sunday throughout October and November, with more months to follow.

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09/10/2018

Travel Tips: On Flight Essentials


Over our travel adventures, we've shared with you our Interrail Backpacking and Bum Bag Essentials, now with having some bigger trips planned, we are going to be sharing with you our on flight essentials that I cannot leave without!

Travel sickness medication - Stugeron/Joy Rides

This is the most important thing within the whole of our list, I am the worst person when it comes to travel sickness and these pills changes the game - I have tried a few different ones but the one I love are the ones you can take half an hour before the flight as some of them you have to take 2 hours before the flight, which makes all the difference because these can be strong that you're already feeling it before the flight!

Pen

You'd be surprised how handy one pen can be, depending on where you are going - you may need to fill out a form and imagine the hundreds of people waiting for someone else to finish with the few pens the airport has provided. This was something we actually read when going to Morocco and this is something that we have stuck with us on all our trips, especially interrailing.

Hand sanitiser

Just think about all those germs that are passing through countries and all sorts - it's just one of those things you should carry around with you on a daily bases as well as travelling when you don't always have access to a sink.


J-pillow*

So we all know about the regular U shape neck pillow, so what's a J pillow you ask? The J pillow is seriously life changing, the U shape pillow in my personal experience isn't as comfortable as I thought since I am a side sleeper and the J pillow is exactly what is does, supports your neck from from the side down to your chin! LIFE. CHANGING. I have actually never had anything so comfortable while travelling.

Headphones

Although some flights provide them, but having your own is more comfortable and you definitely need them if you are on a long haul flight and you need them for all the entertainment.

A portable charger

There's nothing worse than watching some entertainment on flight and your table/phone dies or even worse when you land and you are in desperate need to find your way to your hotel or make a call but your battery is dead - never leave the house without one!

There are more items we would list too such as: compressed socks for those whose feet get swollen easily on flight, a fold in water bottle - easy to empty our before going through security and fill up when on the other side and some mints or gum to help with the travel sickness.

What are your essentials that you take on flight?
Let us know in the comments below.

Disclaimer: we were sent (*) this product in exchange for a review. But as always, all our opinions and photos are our own.

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20/09/2018

Restaurant: Aqua Shard - The Shard, London


The 16th September always seems to come around fast - it doesn't seem like a week has passed since we celebrated our third anniversary at Sushi Samba. Now a year later and we're shooting up to the top of another London skyscraper, ready for a monumental meal and milestone in our relationship.

With our finest clobber on we were a little surprised to see an LA Lakers shirt being donned by the first gent we saw upon arrival - maybe it's not as high brow as we thought, but thankfully, that wasn't reflected in the food nor service.


Having booked the three course set menu for £44 per person, we'd eyed up the diverse brunch options  on the web beforehand, contemplating the less than traditional dishes with wanting to take the opportunity to try something new. 

Yellowfin tuna tartare with soft quail egg and avocado puree certainly fitted the desire for something different and it was absolutely delicious. The fish was flavoursome, egg bursting with yoke and the sourdough bread and butter was just perfect. Meanwhile the buttermilk pancakes with berries, streaky bacon, creme fraiche and maple syrup was equally delectably soft, spongy and guilt tripping. 


Facing out towards St Paul's cathedral, Blackfriars and London Eye, we had the perfect window seated position, despite the weather being typically gloomy. With plans to head out West to Kew Gardens following brunch, we thought it was at jeopardy. However the sun unexpectedly came out and we enjoyed a glorious afternoon strolling through the spiritual home of David Attenborough - check out our travel post from the afternoon.


Big expectations of the main courses were fully justified within moments of it touching down on the table. Jessica's wagyu brunch burger was so big it required a knife but it was the black truffle and parmesan fries that stole the show. The flavour was strong but well balanced and perfectly complemented the tender burger and treacle cured bacon. 

Having gone for a unique starter, it was time to channel the traditional fella within me and opt for the classic full English breakfast. Everything down to the baked beans and tomato had a coating of luxury on it, so much so that I'm thinking about labelling it the best I've ever had. 


With dessert and midday coming at around the same point, we were completely full and were hoping the final course would be little and light. We both ordered the white chocolate and lime cheesecake, but of course The Shard does not do ordinary so when it arrived deconstructed, we shouldn't have been surprised. It was amazing. The freshest of strawberries, delightful almond crumble and white choc cream gave us just the right way to end a wonderful meal. 


Not a place we'd go to every Sunday, but Aqua Shard was a fantastic choice of venue for our fourth anniversary. The food was faultless, service attentive and the view was outstanding. The next 16th September is a bit of a biggy and we think we know where we want to go. All we'll say is that it's not on home soil.


Food: ★★★★★
Customer service: ★★★★
Atmosphere: ★★★

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18/09/2018

Royal Botanical Gardens, Kew Gardens in London

Sunday 16th September 2018 marks 4 special years of our relationship. Our day started on the 32nd floor of The Shard to Aqua Shard for brunch. As the morning passed the sky started to clear, as if it was because we were heading to Kew Gardens. No more words, just absolute bliss.. 

I wish we took more photos, but we were too busy enjoying the weather, the company and simply living in the moment.





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13/09/2018

Lunchbox: Couscous with Broccoli and Feta


Serves: 4 | Prep Time: 10 mins | Cook Time: 10 mins

Every since moving out, meal prepping our lunches for work has become a regular thing - it's more money saving and it's simply easier to control the healthy lifestyle we are trying to create, and with having this blog and just in general, we love trying new dishes to have for work.

What also makes our meal prepping easy are the food containers we use, recently we've been using the standard Tupperware, you know them takeaway ones but we've been introduced to Locksy Ultraclip's* soup containers and salad bowls. They are life changing, much better quality and the ones with compartments are just life!

I don't know what essentials you have in your cupboard, but we have 1kg of penne pasta, couscous and rice, so you know 9 out of 10 we're having one of those bases for lunch. We've always thought that couscous is so underrated but we love it, it's so versatile and super easy to make.

This dish tastes just as good without the meat and is so full of flavour - there's a lot of ingredients but all compliment each other!



Ingredient:

- 1 cup uncooked couscous
- 1 1/2 cups small broccoli florets
- 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/3 cup shredded carrot 
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon bottled minced fresh ginger
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Instructions:

1. Bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan; gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

2. While couscous stands, boil broccoli florets, covered, for 3 minutes or until tender.

3. Combine couscous, broccoli, onion, and next 10 ingredients (onion through chickpeas), tossing gently. Sprinkle with cheese.

Disclaimer: we were sent this product (*) in exchange for a review. But as always, all our opinions and photos are our own.

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11/09/2018

Lifestyle: Tips On Helping You Find The Perfect Flat


1. Be realistic!

When we first started thinking about moving out, we set a realistic date and how much time we would have to save up until then. Don't look way too in advanced if you're not ready - we made the mistake of searching for places, found some that we loved but was no where near enough ready to put down a deposit.

2. Think about your budget - £££

Every search for flats for rent needs to start here. Understand what you can afford to spend each month and don’t forget about bills! If you’re one of the lucky ones, to have rent which includes bills already. Don’t forget to include your budget for transportation to and from work.

3. What area do you want to live?

London is actually a very big city and has many choices to live in. When thinking about where to find a flats or houses for rent, think about where you want to go - think about where your friends, family or work are located and the area itself, safety and convenience.



4. What's more important: property or location?

All houses and flats for rent searches are driven by these two criteria. In an expensive city like London, you will likely need to compromise on one of these criteria. We’ve experienced finding such a great flat with reasonable rent but it’s not in the right location or visa versa, or great flat but too expensive - Think about what is most important for you in your search. You may have to compromise!

5. Do your research!

I don't just mean about the property, I'm talking about the websites you're using, the apps you're using and the possible agent - make sure they are legit! Use sites/apps that have a reputation, don't take the risk - I even had to look up the person we were speaking to on LinkedIn, you can never be too careful. This is your future.



6. Ask questions.

Never assume anything about a property! If the property you've viewed has a crack in the window, don't just assume it will be replaced - ask if it will be. Always ensure you understand all the costs in renting a property and what fees are necessary: reference & admin fees, inventory and check-in/out, end of tenancy, renewal, change of tenant, etc.

7. Confirm everything in writing!

Make sure you actually read through any document you sign! All key matters before you sign the lease on any house of flats for rent need to be communicated in writing. This is proof in case there is any conflict in the future. It is important to even discuss the little things, even on the inventory. For example if it say's single bed instead of double bed or that there's a mirror in the bathroom when there's not - make sure to flag it up or have it corrected.


It's been just over a month since we've moved out and now we're currently living in a shared house in a lovely location - it may not be completely own own yet, but it's definitely a start.

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06/09/2018

Review: Levi Roots Caribbean Snack Pots


Spice up your lunchtime with a Caribbean vibe with Levi Roots Caribbean Snack Pots! Ever since I, Jessica has been working for The Reggae Brunch, I just had to jump at the chance to try these new snack pots as my love for Caribbean food has grown with having jerk chicken with rice 'n' peas every Saturday. How could I say no?

You may have heard of Levi Roots before as Levi Roots is not only an artist, but he also has his own smokehouse and a range of Reggae Reggae hot sauces, which by the way, I adore!

These new snack pots are available in four delicious flavours, packed with Caribbean spices, this new range uses natural, wholesome ingredients, and low levels of salt and sugar, to create the authentic, home-cooked flavour that they are aiming for.


The four flavours are: Reggae Reggae Noodles, Levi's Curry Noodles, Caribbean Coconut Rice and Pasta Pasta.

The ones that I have tried so far are the Reggae Reggae noodles and Levi's curry noodles: the Reggae Reggae noodles is a sweet BBQ with subtle tomato and smoke notes with a Caribbean lilt of allspice, thyme and scotch bonnet which gives this product its stamp of authenticity, while Levi's curry noodles is an aromatic blend of numeric, chilli, coriander, fennel, spices mixed with onion, garlic and parsley that gives this noodle snack the taste of the Caribbean.

When originally trying these noodles, I wasn't a big fan, the soup had much flavour but the noodles itself was very bland and lack flavour, but after leaving it for sometime, the noodles soaked up the soup and I then tried it once more - it was perfect, full of flavour and actually surprisingly filling, as it does state on the pot as a meal or a side - so I imagine it depends on your appetite.

We have yet to try the coconut rice and the pasta and I do imagine if it's anything like I said, I would enjoy them so much more. I will make sure to write an update here when I do.

Levi Roots Caribbean Snack Pots are suitable for Vegetarian diets and are currently available in Nisa, Costcutter and selected Spar stores.

Disclaimer: we were sent this product in exchange for a review. But as always, all our opinions and photos are our own.

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30/08/2018

Afternoon Tea: Lion Quays Hotel - Gobowen, Oswestry


This bank holiday weekend, we headed up North to Chester, as I, Jessica, work Saturday's, it's been harder to go to to visit James' family for the weekend, so we decided to take advantage of the long weekend and take the time to be with his family.

During our stay, it coincidentally fit in with our anniversary of the day we met near to Chester in Oswestry, so on Monday 27th August, James booked us a treat to Afternoon Tea in the same hotel we met in 4 years ago.


The thing with having Afternoon Tea is that when is arrives, you never think it'll fill you up but boy that's how you know my eyes are bigger than my stomach because I always have the same thought but each time, I fall into a food coma or missing something out (and taking it away)

We had a classic Afternoon Tea starting with the sandwiches: egg and mayo, ham and chutney, salmon and cucumber, and cheese, followed by the biggest scone we've ever had, along with clotted cream, garnished with strawberries and a choice of strawberry and raspberry jam, and last but definitely not least, a selection of 4 mini desserts - all with such richness!  


The weather may not have been the best, but it was a beautiful day reminiscing on the first time we met, appreciating what we have now and discussing our future plans. 

Food: ★★★
Customer service: ★★
Atmosphere: ★★★
Toilets: ★★★

When was the last time you has Afternoon Tea? Do you always go for the bubbly?
Let us know in the comments below.

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28/08/2018

DIY: Travel Scrapbook


Late last year, I made a scrapbook for our Interrail 2017 travels, showing you a few of our favourite pages, but this time we want to show you how we're doing our 2018 travel scrapbook.

There are no rules to creating a scrapbook, as the best and main part is showing off your best creative self. This time for this scrapbook, I wanted to do things a little different, prettier and even more creative than last time with the help of KiiPix.



Things I used:

- Paperchase Travel Scrapbook
- Different Colour Pens/Felt Tips
- Decoration Tape/Papers/Sickers
- Photographs/Receipts/Holiday Memoirs

Anything I should be using?
Let me know in the comments below.



We've been 4 new countries already this year, so this scrapbook is going to be full! Not only is is so much fun and creative to make a scrapbook, but it's also the best creative way to keep all the little memories from each holiday, including photos and your entry tickets to that botanical garden you fell in love with.

Lisbon, Portugal - January - Oslo, Norway - February
 Copenhagen, Denmark - March - Interrail, Italy - June

In the last scrapbook, I simply arranged all my bits and pieces to fit within the page, but this time with using smaller photos and a lot of decoration, I am hoping to add more writing and notes around the photos - what we did, how it made us feel - the special things to have as a reminder.



Instead of printing off our holiday photos the traditional way, we used our very own KiiPix to print our photos on Fijifilm instax mini film, but the difference is, getting to print them as if it came straight from the camera and getting pick to pictures you want. Fed up of attempting to take an instant photo knowing you only have one shot? No more trying your hardest not to blink, with KiiPix, you are in control.

So far, we've only printed off some Italy photos, but we can't wait to buy more film and start printing the rest of our holiday photos to make our scrapbook that much more personal.



Want to win your own KiiPix?
Simply follow @foodandbaker on Instagram & Twitter and Retweet!
(KiiPix Demo available on our Instagram Story highlights)

If you can't wait, you can grab your own from Amazon, Argos, Debenhams, Boots, Curry's PC World and Firebox.

Disclaimer: we attended the launch of KiiPix and received a KiiPix each, which we decided to do a giveaway with permission.

Would you like to see an update of our 2018 travels scrapbook?
Let us know in the comments below.

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