21 July 2017

A New Menu at Turtle Bay, Leeds

I've been a big fan of Turtle Bay since it landed in Yorkshire, nearly a couple of years ago now - and it's been great to see the brand grow in popularity in that time.


Between visits to a couple of its Northern branches I've familiarised myself with the menu and established some firm favourites - so I was very excited to hear that they'd refreshed their menu with a whole host of new dishes and drinks for me to fall in love with! 

I was thrilled to be invited along to the Leeds restaurant to check out some of the new options.


I know the food at Turtle Bay is good,.. really good even. But one of my favourite things about visiting is actually the amazing rum cocktails! I was keen to try the Roots Culture, one of the new cocktail offerings made with Uncle Wray overproof rum, strawberry liqueur, raspberry, lime and lemonade. Absolutely delicious and, like all good cocktails, a little too easy to drink!

Turtle Bay do have a nice range of 'softails' too which I (as the usual designated driver) really appreciate - there's nothing more depressing than drinking boring coke while everyone else is on tasty and colourful concoctions!


Choosing a starter was tricky - so many delicious sounding options! I did try to convince KC to get one too so I could try a bit but I couldn't tempt him. As it was all up to me, I settled on the Stuffed Pepper Roti - trini oven baked roti stuffed with cheese, carrots, spiced potatoes and onions, and served with scotch bonnet & herb mayo...


Mmm these were good! Hot though, I'd been eyeing up the impressive array of table sauces but didnt dare add any of these in the end!


As a vegan, KC can occasionally be a difficult chap to take out for dinner, but Turtle Bay has always offered some really tasty and interesting vegan options and these have been expanded again with some new additions to the menu. He liked the look of the Spinach, Aubergine and Sweet Potato curry. This fragrant spiced dish came served with fluffy steamed rice and got two thumbs up from my gentleman guest! I didn't try any but it sure did smell good!


I couldn't resist the pull of spicy chicken, and opted for the Two-Way Chicken Burger. Another new dish, this consisted of a spicy panko-crumbed chicken fillet, topped with pulled jerk chicken, crispy gem lettuce, fresh pineapple chow and herb mayo in a sweet bun.


 Now, I am undoubtedly one of those people that will tell you pineapple on pizza is the devils work. The very idea of it is so hideous that it's almost enough to put me off pizza altogher. So I was a little wary of my pineapple filled chicken burger, but it was actually amazing! 

I knew the chicken would be good (and it was!) but I wasn't quite prepared for the juicy taste sensation of the pineapple - it added such an unusual edge to an otherwise relatively sedate menu choice.

It's still awful on pizza though!


The spicy fries are probably worth a mention too, I could have eaten these aaaallllll day long!


Anyone that knows me knows that I'm all about the desserts, and Turtle Bay have never let me down in this area - their BBQ pinapple with coconut ice cream is one of my favourite things that I've ever eaten, and the upside down rum cake is pretty special too. On this occasion, though, I looked to the newly offered Passion Pie - an exotic twist on a classic lemon meringue pie.

The meringue topping was so light and squidgy I just wanted to keep prodding it (I didn't) and it was delicious to eat on its own - though of course much better combined with the zesty passionfruit curd and sweet sauce. It was huge too, and took me longer to finish than the rest of the meal put together - I managed it all though!


I know some restaurants concentrate on putting out amazing food, other places have an impressive drinks list to lure in customers, and some simply offer a really cool, relaxed place to hang out - but when (like me!) you dont get to go out that often you need a place that does all that in one, and Turtle Bay ticks all the boxes for us!

20 July 2017

Am I too old for festivals?

For weeks now, months even, I've seen loads of bright eyed youngsters getting giddy about their upcoming festivals this summer. And I've been happy for them, excited,.. even a little jealous, but from the safe distance of knowing that the festival life is not for me these days, that I've outgrown it.

And then I realised why - it's been twenty years since my first festival. I took my little brother to V97. He got sunburnt. I was stung by a wasp (twice!), we danced like idiots to the Prodigy, we got lost on the way home - it was awesome, and it was the start of a long love affair with festivals.

Photo from Hannah at planestrainsandmeltdowns.com
Some of my other favourite stupid festival memories include:

Taking a full box of Rice Krispie Squares to Leeds one year so I didn't have to spend any money on food. I haven't been able to eat one since. 

Agreeing to meet my bother at a particular spot at the end of the end of the night to I could make sure we got on the right coach home. I waited so long that by the time I figured out he wasn't coming, the coach had gone without me. I ended up sleeping on the reception floor of Milton Keynes police station. My brother, of course, got straight on the coach and fell asleep, only realising I wasn't there when the coach pulled up back in Bradford.

Photo from Hannah at planestrainsandmeltdowns.com
Heading to Leeds on the morning before the festival started, pitching my tent, hanging out for the day - then getting the train back home to see my favourite band who were playing half a mile away from my house! I did make it back bright and early the next morning though! 

Bumping into a good friend early on in the day, and trying to convince him to come and see The Get Up Kids with me. He'd never heard of them, and I wandered off to my own to watch. 17 years later we live together and they're his favourite band.

Photo by Hannah at planestrainsandmeltdowns.com
Then there's the knowledge that I was always invariably grumpy as sin on the last day as the culminative effects of not sleeping for several nights got the better of me, the fact I could buy a full weekend ticket (including camping!) for around £70,.... and the more recent sad realisation that I seem to have no photographs from these wonderful occasions (so big thanks to Hannah and Vicki for letting me us theirs!)

Photo by Vicki at tippytupps.com

Maybe it's the need to capture some of my festival memories on camera that has me itching to go back to a festival now, maybe it's just nostalgia. It might be the many upgrades to the festival-going experience that has me excited (fancy pre-set up tents and food that you actually want to eat rather than have to for survival? Yes please!)

Mainly though it's learning about the huge variety of type of festival available. I used to think festivals were all for drunk teenagers, and that suited me because I was a drunk teenager. Now that I'm an adult with a family it's great to discover so many festivals are designed for adults with families! I took Travelodge's Family Festival Personality Quiz for inspiration, and it suggested that as a 'gang of nature lovers', Latitude Festival or Yorkshire's Deer Shed Festival would suit us perfectly!

We've left it a bit late this year but now I know festival-going is not something I have to leave behind me, we definitely want to include it in our plans for next summer (if only so the kids are having their first festival experience where I can keep an eye on them!)

22 May 2017

A Blooming Great Tea Party

You may not know this about me, but I'm a big fan of tea and cake (OK, so you MAY know that about me!) 

Coming up next month is the Marie Curie Blooming Great Tea Party, which is exactly the kind of fundraising event I can totally get behind! 

Hosting your own tea party can be a great way of raising some cash for charity, and getting together with your nearest and dearest to appreciate the finer things in life (like cake). The Blooming Great Tea Party takes place over the 23rd-25th June, and if you are interested in hosting your own party - at home, work, or anywhere else - you can get a free fundraising pack from Marie Curie here!


There's loads of advice and recipes on the website too but the good thing about a tea party is it can be relatively simple to put together some thing spectacular. The individual elements are all quite straight forward - you need tea (lots of it!), daintly little sandwiches with a variety of fillings, a good selection of cakes,... and possbily the most important (and potentially controversial) aspect - the noble scone. 

The scone is the source of many arguements - plain or fruit? served warm or cold? And each of these could take up posts and posts worth of discussion but today I thought I'd tackle one of the biggest scone-related debates - do you top little baked nuggests of goodness with JAM first or CREAM first? (based on the incontestable truth that for a scone to really count, it has to be served with both)


Now, I know my opinion (which may be illustrated by my various sconed photos) but in the spirit of fairness I thought I'd throw it open to debate and see what others thought. Here are my findings.....

JAM FIRST 

I was gong to keep you in suspense to the end, but I might as well let you know the inevitable truth now - the Jam First crew had a resounding victory, with 50% more people thinking this was the right way round to do it. And just like that, my faith in humanity was restored! Here are some of the reasons I was given

Faye Jones from Glossytots knows it's the right thing to do because 'the jam slides off the cream otherwise!' Similarly, Emma (emmareed.net) thinks 'its a mess trying to put jam on top of cream' and Lyra (thisiswhereiblog.com) knows that 'it just looks prettier that way!'


Applying the cream before jam is traditionally the favoured approach in Devon but this is no excuse for getting it wrong, as both Devon Mum Emma and and Devon Mama Hayley put their jam on first too. I particurlarly likes Hayley's passionate response - "Jam first. I just don't understand how you could do it the other way round?! Do you spread the cream like butter and then jam over it?! It makes no sense! Everyone knows the joy is a nice thick layer of jam and then a HUMONGOUS dollop of cream on top!' Girl knows her stuff! 

Donna at Bobsys Mum makes another excellent point - 'that way means you get more cream!' - always a bonus! Emma, Louise and Kirsty are also firmly in the Jam first camp. 

CREAM FIRST 

The Cream First side does have it's supporters though! Suzanne from And Another Ten Things suggests you should 'Use the cream like a second butter and then spoon the jam on obvs', and Aarti at Honestly Wonderful likes to 'put loads and loads of cream with a little teeny weeny dollop of jam on top'. 


Natalie, who blogs at Diary of an Unexpectant Mother, has hers like this - 'A thick spread of cream then a spoonful of jam on top. And try not to get it on your nose. And it has to be proepr clotted cream' I do agree with her there at least!

Tracey seems to think that it's 'Definitely cream first - the jam slides off if you do it the other way!, and for Emma it's 'ALWAYS cream first!'

OTHER 

And then there are the others. The ones that don't like to play by society's rules. The rebels like Kristine's husband who eats them dry. The mavericks like Becky who will only have cream because 'Jam spoils it', the nonconformists like Claire, Lucy and Helena who avoid the cream.And then there are the Jade's and the Nadine's of the world that will jam one side, cream the other and then stick both halves together.


CONCLUSION

I think, if anything has been proved here, it's that the preparation of a scone is a very personal thing. My advice? If you put together your own tea party -I'd just provide jam and cream by the bucketload and let your guests apply to their own liking (yes, even if they're doing it wrong!) 

That way any scone based argueemnts can focus on the number one issue - - how do you pronounce it?!

8 May 2017

The Source of Good Skin

I've been a long time fan of Crabtree and Evelyn, and funnily enough it was their La Source range that was my first introduction to the brand. We found mini versions of their products in a hotel we were staying in on holiday, and that was the start of the love story. 


The La Source collection was inspired by the 'restorative power of the sea' and features marine based ingredients included to boost skin benefits. The collection has recently been reformulated, featuring four new marine blends and a whole host of products featuring the La Source super ingredient, green seaweed extract. 


I was thrilled to have the opportunity to try out a couple of these hero products recently. The La Source range covers products for your hair, body, face and hands but I was particularly interested in the foot products. I have karate training around three times a week, which can be not only quite tough on my feet physically, but it means people probably spend longer looking at my bare feet than is common. This gives me double the reason to take care of them! 


So now, my favourite post-training treat is a relaxing soak with the La Source Efferversent Sea Foam Soak, followed by the La Source Warming Foot Soother.

The soak features Crabtree and Evelyn's Refreshing Marine Blend - anti-oxident rich green seaweed and purifying brown algae extract - and contains citric acid (for exfoliation) and mineral rich Dead Sea Salts (which conditions the skin). A few minutes soak in hot water containing this is perfect for soothing any aches and strains.

The results are even better when coupled with the warming foot smoother. This is a great little scrub featuring volcanic sand, fine pumice and salt crystals to exfoliate hard areas, but it's also intensely moisturising, containing shea butter and rice bran oil to soften and condition the skin. The product is self warming, and while I'd have liked to be warmer (read: HOT), it feels really indulgent and comforting - just what I need! 

It's hard to describe the difference in how I feel after using these two products - its incredible! I've gone in feeling like I never wanted to so much as walk again, and finished up feeling completely renewed, like I was walking on a cloud! These two products will be part of my life for a long time to come for sure!


And while at the minute I'm all about the feet, I feel it would be remiss to write about Crabtree and Evelyn and not mention their Hand Therapy creams. I love these creams and have gone through numerous scents and varieties over the years (and since La Source is my current bae, of course the matching hand cream is my current go-to!) The Overnight Hand Therapy is the 'beauty sleep' version of this - pop it on before bed and wake up to smoother softer hands! 

My only problem now is that my hands and feet are so well taken care of that I feel like I'm neglecting the rest of my body!

Do you have a favourite Crabtree and Evelyn range? Or any other tips of how to look after my poor achey feet? 

31 March 2017

Holiday Packing - The Great Swimwear Question

March is a terrible time to work in accounts. It's our company year-end, which means we have a *lot* of work to try and squeeze in before the end of the month - and obviously its even worse when my computer decided to throw a wobbly, making it necessary to re-do half of the last month work.

I can honestly say I've earned my cookie Fridays at work this month!

But thankfully, the end is in sight. March is nearly done with and after a few days in April tidying up my messes of paperwork and receipts that I have thrown around my office, I am taking a well earned break. I actually didn't realise when I boked my holiday how much I'd feel like I needed it by the time it came around - but I really do!

In less than two weeks I'll be sat on the beach, cocktail in hand and hoping the kids don't drown while I just finish the next chapter of my book.... but because I've been so busy on the run up I've barely given any consideration to things I need to go away with! So, as a treat for getting my VAT return in on time, I've allowed myself a quick holiday-browse!

One thing I really need, is some new swimwear. I have about half a dozen swimming costumes at home that are all 'broken'... missing straps, or lost underwire, or something else making them, well, not ideal. (Yes, I know I should get rid of them,... I'm not so good at throwing things away!)

But swimwear is a tricky thing to buy. I'm not a bikini-wearer. It's not because I'm too old and fat, I never wanted to wear one when I was young and skinny. They're just not for me. I also don't like anything that's too plain or too fancy, anything with cut out bits or plasticy embellishments,... anything red or pink or,... essentially I'm a massive fusspot!

This year for the first time I am discovering the magic of the swimdress!



What a revelation! Now, don't get me wrong - I'm sure this isn't a new idea,... but I'm slow to catch on, ok? But I love it, all the swim-ability of a swimming costume, but with the 'I'm dressed enough to be out in public'ness' of a dress! These two from Bonmarche were the first two to open my eyes to this war of dressing for the pool, and I think I'm edging towards the turquoisey one, it's a cracking colour with such a cute shape to it... like a shorter, swimmier version of something I would definitely wear on holiday anyway.

Of course, I probably need more than one (and I like over-shopping) so I've also got my eye on this gorgeous strawberry number from Joe Browns, and the cute-as-a-button polka-dot swimdress on the Swimwear365 website...

So that should be my swimwear covered,... now I just need shoes, hats, dresses, bags, books, a plug adaptor, books,... what else?!

* I was fiscally encouraged to write this post,.. but I really do need to think about holiday shopping!