Bristol International Balloon Fiesta – 2017

All I can say is that this is a fantastic event. After seeing the Night Glow on the Thursday night, I though nothing could top it until the Dawn Launch. What’s more impressive is that this event is free with the exception of paying to park your car. The cost of most car parks was £5 per day. We parked right next to the event and it cost us £12.

If you have children, this is a fabulous event and they’d love it. The Night Glow itself was presented by Heart FM. During the run up, we were treated to a model plane show, the air ambulance landing, fair rides, stalls, food vans galore and a mobile phone light Mexican wave. Be sure to put this one  in your diaries next year. Well done Bristol!

Check out this dawn launch video by Big Frog Films Ltd

While you’re at it, check out the Night Glow. 

Toodle pip,
Carla Kovach
Author of The Next Girl

The Next Girl
She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong. 

Deborah Jenkins pulls her coat around her as she sets out on her short walk home in the pouring rain. But she never makes it home that night. And she is never seen again …

Four years later, an abandoned baby girl is found wrapped in dirty rags on a doorstep. An anonymous phone call urges the police to run a DNA test on the baby. But nobody is prepared for the results. 

The newborn belongs to Deborah. She’s still alive.

If you love Lisa Gardner, Patricia Gibney and Robert Bryndza, you’ll love this jaw-dropping new crime thriller from Carla Kovach. The Next Girl will keep you guessing until the very last page. 


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The Next Girl – Carla Kovach – coming soon. 

The Next Girl – coming soon. Only 99p to preorder.

… She shivered in the ice cold, dirty room that was little more than a cupboard. ‘Please take me home,’ she begged him. ‘You are home,’ he said before locking the heavy door …

She thought he’d come to save her. She was wrong.

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‘Love and Laughter and Small Disasters’ – Wow, there’s a free album giveaway!

Back in 2015, I had the pleasure of reviewing Adrian Harvey’s album, Temporary Position. We learned that Adrian Harvey has previously auditioned for Britain’s Got Talent and he’s an all round fab guy. His song Ladies and Gentlemen was also used in the film Checking In.

It gives me great pleasure to review Adrian’s latest album, Love and Laughter and Small Disasters. This album contains 10 songs and a bonus Christmas track, written by Adrian Harvey. They were recorded by Simon Ash.

Each Day
A Few Things I’d Do
The Road Ahead
Hope is a Magical Overcoat
The Other Side of the Hill
Small Disasters
A Different Cage
One More Person Trying to be a Star
Cardboard Wings

At first glance, I have to praise the cover. It’s a little ‘summer of love meets Life of Brian.’ It feels fun already. From previous experience, I expect to feel uplifted, even a little amused and relaxed after listening to the album. Were my original thoughts right? All will be revealed soon. 

As I begin listening to ‘Same Day,’ I find I can identify with the lyrics. In fact, if you can’t identify, I’d say you’ve had an unbelievably exciting life, full of unexpected twists and turns. For most of us mere mortals, our routines are just that – routine. ‘A Few Things I’d Like to do,’ fills me with happiness. The harmonies are stunning. As for ‘Sing a Happy Song,’ who wouldn’t want to join in with that one? The vocal harmonies, meaningful lyrics and melodic voices are simply stunning. Adrian, you’ve done it again! Brilliant. 

Then, I hear ‘Hope is a Magical Overcoat.’ I know many people struggling to break into one or another branch of the arts and I understand the struggles they undergo. 

‘The Other Side of the Hill,’ is simply other worldly with down to earth lyrics. You’ve surprised me again Adrian!

So far I’m filled with hope and happiness as I relax into my chair waiting for the last song to start. ‘One More Person Trying to be a Star.’ This song explores the other side of fame. The price of fame as opposed to the value of anonymity. 

Thank you again Adrian. You made me smile, you made me chuckle, you made me think and you almost made me slip into a hypnotic trance while listening to the beautifully crafted harmonies. Was I uplifted, a little amused and relaxed? Hell yes. Keep making more music! I look forward to hearing more. 

Now you lucky people, Adrian is giving away 20 copies of his album. You’d be a numpty not to get your hands on one. 

Message from Adrian:
‘I’ve got 20 copies to give away to anyone who contacts me via email and tweets and shares Hope is A Magical Overcoat or The Road Ahead. My email address is’ You Tube links below.

Want to hear more or contact Adrian. Check him out.

Toodle pip,
Carla Kovach.

Follow me on Facebook. ❤️

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FREE download of Whispers Beneath the Pines – today. 

Whispers Beneath the Pines

Twenty two year old classroom assistant Eve leaves England for sunny Turkey with her four childhood friends and Kevin; her first love who she hasn’t seen for six years. The group plan to have one last adventure before they have to finally succumb to adulthood. What they think will be a week of sun, parties and romance soon becomes sinister when they take a trip to the mountainous province of Mugla for the day.

Eve soon realises that things are not what they seem. She sees that something isn’t right but her friends are oblivious. Can she convince them all before it’s too late?  

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Vegan Delights in Shrewsbury.

We had a short break in Hoylake last year and I called my blog post, A Rainy Day in Hoylake. Typically British, we’ve chosen the wrong day again. We are having another little break and this time we’re spending a rainy day in Shrewsbury. Check out the common theme. 

If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll know that my husband Nigel and I went vegan for a month. Guess what? We’re still vegan two months on. We decided to adopt veganism as a permanent lifestyle as the food has been magnificent. He has also lost a whopping 24lb in weight. I’ve stuck at a loss of around the 6/7lb mark. The thing is, we’re not on a low fat diet so the weight loss is an incidental bonus. We are eating absolutely tonnes of foods. I’m not using any low fat products when cooking. It’s healthy oils, nuts and seeds all the way. The food we’re feasting on is rich, indulgent and includes a daily dessert. We’re not spending any more money on food and my cooking skills have improved. I can knock up either a fruit crumble, a pie topping or a batch of biscuits within 15 minutes. 

Anyway, back to lovely Shrewsbury. Lovely rainy Shrewsbury. I must say, it does look stunning but I wish the rain would do one. We do however have two restaurant bookings today – woo hoo – I love eating more than life itself! We are going all out on the food to see how easy it is to be vegan and eat out in Shrewsbury.

First stop, La Lanterna Italian Restaurant.

We turned up and declared that we wanted to partake in their fantastic lunch special for £8.50 per head after being lured by a sign on the roadside. This included a pasta main, a bowl of salad, bread and a glass of wine. Making it easy, we said, we’d eat anything as long as it was plant based. 

The salad was pleasant. Fresh dill laced the mixed leaves and to vary the texture, mixed beans added a bit of bite and protein to the carb heavy offering. The main course, a tomato based fusilli pasta, tasted fresh. The hint of garlic and chilli lifted the dish. All in all, lovely budget meal made with fresh ingredients. The coffee was good too. As far as ambience goes, the owner must be a real sports fan. Football and motor racing photos adorned the walls as well as Italian tea towels etc. La Lanterna is cosy and quirky, and seemed suited to couples seeking a little romantic restaurant. For vegans, the lunch menu was limited but they adapted to our needs well and made us a tasty plate of food. The addition of the beans to the salad was a welcomed delight. 

Our next stop was vegan/vegetarian restaurant, O’Joy’s Wellness.

This is the perfect place to be if you are a vegan. The menu is mouthwatering and offers a variety of dishes including tapas. The food smells delicious and the place is bright, airy and centrally located. After a heavy going lunch, we were just about ready for a main course when we arrived. My husband enjoyed the Cajun bean burger and sweet potato chips, I had the stewed chick pea tacos. These little delights were perfectly seasoned and dressed with fresh herbs. If you’re in Shrewsbury, give it a visit, whether it be for lunch or breakfast. This was by far the tastiest offering of the day and the easy listening background music was lovely. If you’re heading to O’Joy’s, you can expect to pay around £10 each for a main course. I have included a link to their website below as they do breakfast and lunch too. 

As for Shrewsbury, I can conclude, it’s a good place to be for a vegan. If you find yourself in this part of the world, the place I’d wholly recommend is O’Joys without a doubt. They did seem fairly busy, so I’d recommend booking first. I must just add that the staff and service was exceptional too. It was definitely O’Joy to be there and when we’re next in Shrewsbury, we’ll be popping in for more of that lovely food. Their website is as follows

Toodle pip,
Carla Kovach

Follow me on Facebook. ❤️

Fancy a holiday thriller? Look no further …

Whispers Beneath the Pines
Twenty two year old classroom assistant Eve leaves England for sunny Turkey with her four childhood friends and Kevin; her first love who she hasn’t seen for six years. The group plan to have one last adventure before they have to finally succumb to adulthood. What they think will be a week of sun, parties and romance soon becomes sinister when they take a trip to the mountainous province of Mugla for the day.
Eve soon realises that things are not what they seem. She sees that something isn’t right but her friends are oblivious. Can she convince them all before it’s too late?  

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My Vegan/Veggie Blog – Weight Loss, Energy and Delicious Recipes.

Okay, I’m well into week 3 and this is how it’s going.

Weight Loss

The first thing most people tend to ask is have you lost any weight. I can answer that question with a simple yes. The answer becomes more extraordinary when I tell you that, we’ve not only been enjoying huge and satisfying meals but we’re also having desserts every night. By desserts, I don’t mean a bowl of chopped fruit. We’ve been having full-on crumbles or chocolate banana aquafaba cake topped with Alpro cream.

Right, down to the figures. In 2.5 weeks Nigel has lost a whopping 9lbs, I have lost 6lbs. We’re both thrilled to have lost a combined total of 15lbs so far.

Health Benefits

We’re both sleeping better. Speaking for myself here, I have suffered heartburn for years and have crunched my way through mountains of antacids and swallowed loads of Zantacs. My overuse/occasional misuse of these products has been worrying me terribly. Not terribly enough to go to the doctor I must add. I have a severe phobia of choking and the thought of an endoscopy fills me with ‘death preference’ levels of dread. Since my lifestyle change, the symptoms have gone. It’s like a miracle has happened and I genuinely feel like a new person. This is not something I’m prepared to give up after a month as I don’t want to go back to my Rennie crunching, Pepto Bismol swigging old self again. I’m ready to adopt this lifestyle from now on. I can confirm that a plant based diet has fixed me. I have also noticed an increase in my energy levels and I’m more alert. On the downside, I have noticed that my hair seems really dry but my skin is better – go figure that one out. As a precaution, we are taking B vitamins, Iron and adding a little linseed powder to some foods.

What Have We Been Eating?

We tend to wander out for breakfast at the weekends. Wetherspoon’s do a lovely smashed avocado bagel and it is delicious. We take a little bottle of almond milk and enjoy the top up filter coffees. This cost us £3.05 each so not a bank breaker either. Don’t let anyone tell you that smashed avocados are an unaffordable middle-class dining experience. The English breakfast was dearer. If you’ve never tried them and are thinking yuck, give them a go. They are absolutely delicious – if you like avocados that is.

Over the past week, we have enjoyed butternut squash risotto and the aforementioned aquafaba chocolate banana cake. Here are the recipes below.

Roasted Butternut Squash Risotto. (For 2 people)

Butternut squash ingredients:
1 butternut squash peeled and cubed.
A glug of olive oil.
Salt and pepper.

Risotto ingredients:
1 cup of Arborio rice.
1 onion, finely chopped.
A handful of mushrooms and or garden peas. (I added them because I like them).
2 cloves of garlic, crushed.
1 large jug full of vegetable stock made to your taste including salt and pepper if needed.
Half a carton of Alpro soya cream.
2 table spoons of olive oil.
2 tablespoons of vegan margarine. (Pure/Vitalite).
Salt and pepper.
A small amount of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped.
A few shavings of Cheesley. (Vegan cheese – optional).

Cooking the squash.
Add the squash, the oil and the salt and pepper to a bowl and mix. When the squash is coated, pour the mix into an oven dish and roast on about 150 for approximately 25 minutes. Check after 10/15 minutes as you may need to give the squash a shake. This needs to be cooked at the same time as the risotto. When the squash is soft and lightly browned around the edges, it’s cooked perfectly.

While the squash is in the oven, you make the risotto.

Cooking the risotto.
Put your stock on the hob and keep it warm.
Grab a large frying pan. Add the oil, margarine and a sprinkling of salt.
Add the onions, (mushrooms) and garlic. Fry them for a minute.
Pour in the rice and lightly toast.
Pour 2 cups of the hot stock over the rice mix and allow to simmer away.
If using peas, I add them at this point.
When the liquid is fully absorbed keep adding a little more (about ¼ of a cup each time) every time it is absorbed.
There’s no getting away from the fact that you can’t leave a risotto unattended.
After about 5 minutes add a splash of the soya cream.
Stir the mix off the bottom of the pan regularly. After about 20-30 minutes your risotto should be done.
Taste as you go.
The rice should taste rich and creamy and the consistency shouldn’t be too runny. It should be able to hold its shape on a plate with just a nice bit of ooze.
Add more cream until it suits your palate.
Pour 2/3 of the roasted squash into the mix, along with a couple of pinches of the chopped parsley and stir.
Serve in a bowl and top with the rest of the roasted squash, seasoning, a sprinkling of chopped parsley and a few shavings of vegan cheese.

This is a rich, indulgent dish and should be savoured slowly. Enjoy – it’s one of my favourites. If you’re making it now and about to tuck in – I’m jealous.

Chocolate Banana Sticky Aquafaba Cake

6oz self raising flour.
6oz sugar.
2oz cocoa.
About 3 eggs worth of drained bean juice (from chick peas, kidney beans etc. – I take an educated guess at 3 eggs worth).
6oz vegan margarine.
2 mashed bananas.
2 tablespoons malt.

Making the cake.
Preheat a fan oven to 160 or a few degrees more if you don’t have a fan oven.  
Line a loaf tin with grease proof paper or grease well with margarine.
In a mixing bowl, cream the margarine and sugar.
Stir in, bit by bit, the bean juice.
Add the flour and cocoa in bits and stir the mix as you add.
Finally, add the mashed bananas and malt to the mix and pour into your loaf tin.
Place the cake in the oven and it should be ready in 30-40 minutes. Poke a cocktail stick or fork into the mix and when it comes out without too much mess, the cake is done.

Please note that this is a very moist cake. It is absolutely rich and delicious. It’s tasty when still hot with a bit of Alpro cream poured over it or it’s great cold also.

Toodle pip,
Carla Kovach.

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Office Girl

My musings and thoughts of the day expressed in poem form. Not particularly full of form but it is what I feels so here goes.

Office Girl

You might picture her, behind her desk, filing her nails?
After all, she will never be recognised for her work.
You fail to see that she keeps the company running,
Takes work home, deals with all the shit that the job brings.

You imagine her to be sweet, compliant and good at making tea.
Not like you, the man, the big he.
It’s okay to speak in a demanding tone,
After all, being a she, she’s used to it. She’ll get the phone.

She should be your boss, she’s more qualified than you,
So why the hell do you ask clients to call and ask for the f****** office girl?
I define a girl as a female minor, a child.
She’s not a child, she’s thirty bloody six.

Underneath her clothing, she is built of skin and blood, just like you.
She’s strong, competent and has a mind of her own.
For once shut up, leave your self-importance at the door and ask her opinion,
You might just be surprised, it might make you think.

Office girl, she’s not a girl.
Don’t call her that, call her the company marketing manager,
The credit controller, the shipping clerk, the supervisor.
Call her by her workplace title unless being condescending is in your nature.

The good news is, if I’m describing you,
It’s not too late to change, and become one of the enlightened few.
Go to work tomorrow, have that chat, admit you’ve been a knob,
Show some respect, start again and in turn you’ll be respected.

Carla Kovach

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