16 June 2016

Ingleborough Nature Trail and Cave

It's definitely not that I'm running out of ideas for new places to go with the young 'uns - but it is sometimes nice to revisit old favourites, and it was to that end that we took a long-overdue trip to Ingleborough Cave.

To get to the cave we parked up at the at main car park in Clapham and pottered through the pretty village to the start of the nature trail.

There is a small charge to access the cave via the nature trail, something like 60p per person, so it might be worth remembering to take some change with you!

The way to the Ingleborough Cave is a pleasant 2km saunter through some very pretty woodland, and alongside Clapham Beck. The path is easy to follow for even those with very little legs, and it's been known t take us anywhere between 20 minutes and three hours to make the full distance.

Three hours for 2km? Yup. It's nice when the kids are distracted by something other than the tv, so when they seem to be having great fun playing with sticks I'm more than happy to let them do so for as long as possible (weather dependent, of course!)

One of the favourite 'distraction spots' on the nature trail is the money tree...

You'll have seen something similar elsewhere I'm sure - an old tree with hundreds of coins battered into it. My kids are weirdly obsessed with this tree.... I'm not sure if its because they think they'll be able to get any of the money off it, or just because its easy to climb, but this is a highlight of the walk for both of them.

I think you can usually pick up a leaflet at the start of the trail that refers to a few other points of interest along the way too.

Before too long, we found ourselves at the cave entrance. Entrance is on guided tours only, and these leave every hour. Tickets can be bought at the little shop just by the entrance, which also sells snacks and drinks - this is also where you pick up your hard hats, safety first!

Our family ticket came in at £25. I will say that the value you get from the ticket entirely depends on the tour. On our most recent visit we were part of a big group, making it a little harder to hear all the information given - previously we were the only ones on our tour, meaning it was a lot more personal and informative.

Still, despite the large group the tour guide did an admirable job of pointing out all the best formations, explaining the history of the cave and answering any questions anyone had.

Though obviously the cave is a natural formation, the pathways are flat and wide enabling wheelchair and pushchair access . . . there are some low ceilings though!

The tours last a little short of an hour, and after we emerged back into the world it was time to totter on back the way we came (stopping for another clamber on the money tree, of course!)

Unfortunately, due to an incident with a clumsy child and a muddy field, we weren't all clean enough to head into the café next to the car park for treats to sustain us on the drive home, but thankfully they had outdoor benches which I didn't feel quite so bad at using (despite it not really being warm enough for sitting outdoors by this point!). This Yorkshire afternoon tea platter (complete with Wensleydale on the fruitcake!) was just the thing after a days adventuring!

Despite my insistence that I'm not running out of days out ideas, I'm always happy to discover more so would love your suggestions on places to explore!

13 June 2016

Afternoon Tea at the Radisson Blu, Leeds

It has, admittedly, been a little while since my afternoon tea at the Firelake Restaurant in the Radisson Blu hotel, Leeds. But fear not, it's rare I forget any detail about cake!

We had no trouble booking for a Saturday afternoon with relative short notice despite using a Groupon voucher like the cheapskate I am, and had our pick of tables in the quiet but cosy restaurant.

Our deal came with a pot of tea and a glass of Prosecco, and we decided to start with the tea ('twas cold out, brrr!) and save the prosecco as a post-cake treat!)

The food was brought over on this handsome bookshelf-type cake stand, with separate compartments for all the different items - with the jam and cream for the scones carefully balanced on top!

Somewhat unusually, in my experience at least, this afternoon tea did not contain equal items for each participant, but thankfully we didn't fall out too seriously over who was going to have what! Though, a lot of this might be to do with the fact my long-suffering-but-eager-to-please other half doesn't actually like afternoon tea so was generally happy to let me have my pick!

I said it's rare I forget any detail about cake, and that's true, but it doesn't always extend to sandwiches I'm afraid, so all I can tell you reall is that one was mainly cheesy, one was mainly beefy and one was mainly hammy (plus I think there was egg mayonnaise, which we both completely ignored!) I really like the variety of breads and sandwich-styles, makes this savoury bit all that much more interesting!

Thankfully one thing that came with enough for everyone was the fat juicy scones, mmm! I think these things are the reason the Mr will still come with me for afternoon tea despite his lack of affection for cake that isn't fruit cake and sandwiches that aren't cheese sandwiches, he does love a good scone (even though he eats them wrong, with the tiniest smear of cream which he puts of first. tut tut.)

There was a slice each of the fruit cake to enjoy, and we shared the decadently rich chocolate mousse and the light and zesty lemon one. I got to eat all the cheesecake to myself though, woo! The cheesecake was probably my favourite too, creamy and delicious!

Then the whole thing was finished off nicely with a strawberry-garnished glass of prosecco. I rarely upgrade to prosecco with my afternoon tea and I really should do so more often - a great way to make an indulgent treat even more indulgent!

With the voucher, it was £21.95 for the two of us - a great price for everything we got, especially in such a nice setting. The service was really friendly too, and the city centre location makes it very convenient. As long as the shared cakes don't both you this is a good 'un!

7 June 2016

Degustabox May 2016

It's Degustabox time again! This subscription food boxes always causes such a stir when it arrives in the office, and keeps us happy and sustained through the month.

The healthy snacks that is - any and all chocolate comes home with me of course!

Here are all the goodies contained within the scrumptious May box!

Jack Daniel's Tenessee Honey Barbecue Glaze (RRP £1.99) - This was the item that caused most excitement when I opened the box in front of my meat-loving colleagues. Perfect now that barbecue weather seems to be upon us! (For now at least!)

Garafalo Fusilli Bucati Pasta (RRP £1.99) - We are big pasta eaters in my house so it's always nice to have more of the good stuff come our way - I love how twisty this is!

Cranes (RRP £1.90) - These refreshing, sparkling cranberry based drinks are lovely just out of the fridge on a hot day!

Kallo Milk Chocolate Corn Cakes (RRP £1.29) and Yoghurt Topped Rice Cakes (RRP £1.69) - We've had similar products from Kallo in recent boxes and I love them! Anything with chocolate on is on course my favourite and I think the corn cakes might be even nicer then the rice cakes (they taste like chocolate-covered popcorn!)

Brioche Pasquier Croissants (RRP £1.80) - These pre-packaged croissants are obviously a far cry from freshly baked ones, but they're still pretty grand in their own right - soft and sweet and the kids LOVE them!

Get Fruity Bar (RRP £1.00) - I always feel like it's almost a waste sending me products like this - not because I enjoy them, but the Get Fruity bars are vegan, gluten free, produced on a nut-free site ... and I always feel like by eating them I'm denying them who needs their snacks to be one of, or all of those things. But, they're also dead tasty so I'll keep at it!

Beloved Date Nectar (RRP £3.50) - this is a vegan-friendly substitute for honey made entirely from dates. The young 'uns have been enjoying it their porridge but should be equally great for sweetening tea or using in baking.

The Wonderful Company Pistachios and Almonds (RRP £0.90 each) - that's a heck of a confident name for a company! The nuts are sun-ripened at their California orchards, and are great for snacking - especially the pistachios, yum!

Pech-Keks Misfortune Cookies (RRP 2 for £1.00) - I was definitely intrigued by these unusual looking items! They're like if fortune cookies had been re-imagined by Tim Burton in a bad mood - thought to be fair I liked my 'mis-fortune', Id love to be able to go back to bed! They certainly don't look appealing to eat but were surprisingly sweet and tasty!

The Wonderful Company Pomegreat (RRP £1.49) - I loved pomegranates when I was a kid - I remember spending hours eating them, plucking out individual seeds with a needle (that IS the only way to eat them, right?) This is a much simpler way to get that juicy sweet pomegranate taste!

Mrs Crimbles Madeleines (RRP £2.50) - These, being the most cake-like product in the box, were the first I opened. In fact, Mr Carl Baker from A Blokes Eye View was more than happy to help taste test these, and we both agreed that they go down a treat with a nice cuppa. The chocolate ones have a gooey chocolate filling, they sound super!

So how do you get your hands on one of these awesome food boxes of your very own, I hear you cry! Simple - register online here and don't forget to enter the code BLDEG15 for a huge £6 discount off your first box!

5 June 2016

Summer Refreshments from Bettys

My favourite things in life are tea, cake and Yorkshire. To experience the finest of these three marvellous things in one happy place, you need nothing more than a trip to your closest Bettys.

Bettys is my happy place, my comfort, my joy. It's a Yorkshire institution, spreading goodness throughout the region with their fine baked goods, spreading happiness throughout the world due to the availability of their exquisite cakes on their online store.

I like to think that by now, I'm pretty familiar with a lot of their products (I've uttered the phrase 'I'm just going to pop in for a quick look' and left £20 lighter and a bag of goodies heavier on more than one occasion!), so its always exciting when new products are released.

Just in time for the summer, Bettys have launched a new range of tasty tisanes to refresh thirsty tea-lovers on hot days.

I've been enjoying the Strawberry, Cherry and Rose Tisane and it is PERFECT for these warm sunny days! It has a great fruity flavour but its the floral notes, courtesy of the inclusion of rose, that really sets this apart from other similar fruit based beverages. I do love a rosy tea! Though it has no effect on the lovely taste of the tisane, I am keen on the cheery bright pink colour too!

The great quality mesh teabags allow you full access to see the ingredients of the infusion, and I love the classy-but-still-cute packaging. Plus this tisane, and the other new flavours, are all naturally caffeine-free, so you can enjoy them long into the summer evenings without worrying about being kept up at night! The other tempting offerings from the new range are an Apple & Juniper Tisane, Peppermint Tisane, Pai Mu Dan White Tea, and Special Rare Green Tea. I think the peppermint is on the top of my list for next time I call in, but they all sound great!

I'm sure I can't be alone in the belief that tea is best enjoyed with some sort of sweet, baked accompaniment, and I can definitely recommend Bettys delicious Yorkshire Shortbread as the perfect tea time treat. These things are so buttery I'm surprised they didn't melt in the hot car, but they sure do melt in the mouth!

Obviously, my top suggestion is that you get yourself to one of Bettys six tea rooms across Yorkshire to have a full browse of their products (and if you aren't in Yorkshire, I'd recommend going to Yorkshire, because its the best place in the world), but if that's not possible, you can buy all these new tisanes online from the Bettys store! And you might as well add a packed of biscuits to your order too,.... and a fat rascal or two,... and the fondant fancies are great.....and.....

* In my absolute favourite sort of blog collaboration ever, tea and biscuits were sent to me free of charge for review purposes

30 May 2016

Blogger Night Out at the Bradford Leisure Exchange

Much as I love this fair city of mine, I have to admit that big blogger events are pretty thin on the ground within the BD postcode area. I usually have to follow any invitations that come my way over to Leeds, where I will spend the evening passively-aggressively complaining about how much I hate Leeds, and subsequently never get invited back anywhere. Oops.

But hurray, a blogger evening in Bradford? With food and bowling and a cinema trip? I was all too happy to avoid my neighbouring city and spend a happy evening at Bradford's Leisure Exchange!

It's been aaaages since I've step foot inside Pizza Hut, despite it being very popular with the young 'uns - we do occasionally get them to deliver when I'm feeling very lazy, way too lazy to actually go out, so I never really think of the restaurant as a 'going out to eat' option. I just figured it'd be the same as at home but with less comfy seats, but there's a shiny new menu with loads of unexpected offerings - definitely worth popping out for!

The staff on the evening seemed very proud of their new milkshakes, so we thought we'd best give them a go. My Salted Caramel milkshake was delicious! I got to try my partners Lime Sherbert Milkshake too - this was interesting, very sweet, bit I'd have struggled to get through it all for sure! Mine, I had no problem with, despite their generous size! The only problem with the milkshakes as part of a meal is they are pretty filling so might not be the best choice if you want to stuff yourself with pizza, but they'd make a great drinkable dessert option!

I generally have pretty simple pizza tastes (honestly, boring as it is, it takes a lot to beat a good plain cheese pizza!) but this was not the time to fall back on familiar staples. There were loads of interesting topping combinations I've never seen pop up on the takeaway menu, and after toying with a couple I settled on the Beef Fajita Pizza - shaved steak, beef, caramalised onions and mixed peppers on a salsa tomato sauce and, in this instance, a cheese stuffed crust base.

Now, my plus1 for the evening doesn't eat pizza (no, I don't get it either), so was a little worried about what we'd find for him to eat at Pizza Hut. I knew they did a couple of pasta dishes,... but he doesn't eat pasta either. So it was a relief for us both when we spotted the Rack of Ribs on the menu. This is the last thing I'd eat is somewhere that specialises in pizza, but glad it served the purpose for my fussy fella - he said they were grand too.

Another dish I liked the look of was the Hot Crisps with BBQ Pulled Pork, that were ordered to share for the table. Such a dead simple but potentially tasty idea - unfortunately I was way too stuffed at this stage to appreciate them!

When no one could eat any more, we forced ourselves up and across the way to Hollywood Bowl. We often end up here on our works Christmas night out, and I rarely think of it through the rest of the year but we really should come more often. I'm an incredibly inconsistent bowler - I got a few strikes, and a few times I missed the pins altogether - I like the idea of secretly getting really good at it so I can beat my colleagues next Christmas!

After our various successes and failures on the lanes, it was time for dessert so we headed off to Frankie and Benny's to check out their new offerings. My kids love Frankie and Benny's so I'm pretty familiar with the place but 'new desserts' seems like a great excuse to visit again! Unfortunately I was still too full of pizza to really make the most of the opportunity, but I did try a few nibbles 'for journalistic purposes'... My favourite thing on the menu is 'The Can't-Decider', mini-slices of four of their top desserts served with ice cream! I'm terribly indecisive when it comes to desserts, mainly because I want to try everything, and this way I can get pretty close!

I've been meaning to go to Grosvenor Casino for ages - I wanted to go before I went to Las Vegas to get myself prepared, I've been meaning to go since I got back to compare experiences. I've mainly wanted to go because I heard the food is surprisingly good and they do some grand deals. But this was the first time I've actually made it! Despite my previous not-so-good blogger gambling experiences, I was doing ok at blackjack (with pretend money, I'd never be so brazen with my own!) when it was time to make our last stop of the evening!

We finished up at Cineworld, where we had tickets waiting for Captain America: Civil War. It was actually the second time in as many weeks I'd seen the film there, our most-visited cinema! Though the film has been the source of much falling-out over recent weeks (I'm squarely on #TeamCap, t'other half disagrees... strongly), I love it! (Incidentally, if you are a fan of Marvel and have lots of money to spend on really wordy academic type books, I can highly recommend this wonderful book!)

After a couple of hours of super-hero angst, it was time to go home, and how nice that home on this occasion was just a couple of minutes up the road, no sketchy train stations or dark motorways! I've always insisted you can have a great night out in Bradford, but it turns out you don't even have to leave this small area to have a full experience!

* Our night of food and fun in Bradford was provided free of charge.