31 January 2016

Murder On The Posh Floor

I've been lucky enough to go to quite a few really great blogger events in my time, but very few that have been as inventive, well-planned, and just plain funny as January's Murder On The Posh Floor event. 

murder on the posh floor

We have solid wood floor experts Posh Flooring to thank for our afternoon out (how d'ya make 30 bloggers look at a floor? Put a dead body on it!), as well as the clever folk at Search Laboratories for organising (and providing most of the pictures you'll see here!), the Murder Mystery Company for proving the entertainment and the Leeds City Hilton for providing the crime scene! 

fake moustaches

I also owe a big thanks to Daisy and Sophie for letting me hijack them at the train station and tag along until the start of the event! When the lift doors opened on the right floor we were greeted with drinks and photo opportunities - someone knows how to make bloggers happy! 

posh floor event

After the opening reception, where we got to mingle and discuss potential murder suspects and flooring options, it was time to head into our main room, all set up for dinner! 

sit down dinner

murder mystery company menu

I was a little star struck to be on a table with some brilliant and highly and impressive bloggers (I was sandwiched between the amazing Georgina and the lovely Mary), but there was no time to be intimidated....

hilton leeds event

... as mere moments after taking out seats, the door burst open and in staggered Lord Burlington, clearly struggling for breath. As he stumbled round the room in sheer desperation we all, in a sad indictment of the times we live in, concerned ourselves more with taking photographs than with helping the poor dying man.

dead body

I'm sure there was nothing we could have done though, as in no time at all poor Lord Burlington had collapsed on the floor (conveniently, in almost exactly the spot marked out for a body), a victim of a most horrible MURDER!

Murder Mystery Company Leeds

Thankfully, Sherlock Holmes was soon on the scene - surely he, with the help of us all as witnesses, could solve this horrific crime and make sure the murderer was brought to justice? 

(After posing for pictures, of course!) 

detective pictures

As in any murder case, there was a great deal of evidence to work through - as well as suspect profiles (and there were a lot of people who could have had a good motive for ending the lord), we could test certain items for fingerprints, carry out pocket searches, and question the suspects.

murder mystery clues

interactive murder mystery event

And while two of the three tables correctly identified not only the murderer, but the motive, one table got the answer completely wrong. Sadly, that table was ours.... oops!

I still maintain our suspect was definitely guilty of something though!

murder mystery cop

My explanation for our terrible lack of success is that I was distracted by the food (oh ok, and the wine!) We were definitely well-fed during the afternoon! 

starters hilton leeds

main course hilton leeds

desserts hilton leeds

murder on the posh floor goodies

This was such a brilliantly fun event, I'm so glad I could go and so so grateful to everyone involved! Though I failed horrible as a detective, I loved the murder mystery event - and now need to do another one so I can attempt to restore my sleuthing reputation!

27 January 2016

A Day in Bruges

If you saw my last post about my overnight ferry trip, you'll know I spent a happy day in beautiful Bruges before Christmas. We only had about eight hours to explore the city in between coach drop-off and pick-up times, but there's plenty to be seen and done in this lovely place even in such a short time!

bruges blog review

If you visit Bruges on one of the P&O Ferries minicruises the drop off point for the coach is a little way out of the city centre, and the most picturesque walk in (if not necessarily the fastest) is through the pretty little park direcly opposite the bus stop.

bruges minicrusie coach stop

We've visited Bruges before in the spring, summer and autumn. This was our first winter trip and was by far and away the best weather of any of our visits. Though there was certainly a bit of a chill to the air, there was no sign of the rain that usually plagues us, the sun was shining and the sky was blue!

bruges park path

pretty belgium

Have you seen the film, In Bruges? (if not, you really should - it's brilliant!) I can't help but hearing Ralph Fienne's voice in my head when I stumble across scenes like this.... 'its a fucking fairytale town..' Not the most delicate description perhaps, but accurate. '..all those canals and bridges and cobbled streets and those churches, all that beautiful fucking fairytale stuff....'

canal in belgium

Obviously, one of the main draws of Belgium is it's association with the most wonderful chocolate - most of the shop window displays had a decidedly Christmassy feel to them on this trip so I had many opportunities to drool over chocolate santas, candy Christmas trees and the most beautiful little chocolate boxes!

chocolate shop window

bruge chocolate shop christmas window

With chocolate this good, it'd almost be rude not to buy plenty to bring home - especially when you consider that so many of the good chocolate shops are happy to hand out free samples, forcing you to fall in love with their delicious products and encouraging you to purchase!

best chocolate shops in bruges

pretty belgium

a day out in bruges

Soon enough, all the looking at chocolate had made me hungry so we decided it was time to stop off for some food! I'd heard great things about the hot chocolate at Lizzies Wafels - on ordering (plain, milk, or white) you are presented with a huge glass of hot milk, and a chocolate 'tulip', filled with chocolate shavings... just drop your tulip in the milk and watch it melt, leaving you with the most delicious drink! I had to top mine with marshmallows because apparently, when it comes to chocolate, I am a child.

best hot chocolate in bruges

The menus and signs around the café did say that the waffles were 'huge' but I wasn't prepared for the size of mine! 'I'm never going to eat all that', I thought to myself - but somehow I managed! Thought it looks intimidating, the waffle was so light that it really wasn't the struggle I expected! There's a variety of toppings you can order but I kept mine simple with caramel sauce - perfect!

biggest waffles ever

Another, slightly less obvious, motivation for our trip was to visit De Witte Pelikaan.... we stumbled across this incredible Christmas shop on our first trip to Bruges (which was in July - not the time of year I expected to enter a winter wonderland!) and have bought a little festive trinket for the house each time since.

Bruges all-year Christmas shop

winter wonderland shop

This was probably the first time in the shop that was actually anywhere near Christmas - which might explain why we left with two massive bags snowy woodland creatures and smiling santas! One day our whole house will look like this throughout December....

amazing christmas cellar

All that shopping done, it was time to enjoy another one of Belgium's well loved creations - beer!

beer hall in historium bruges

On our last trip to Bruges we visited the Historium, a history based visitor attraction in the main Market Square. It's a sort of interactive museum, with it's own beer café, the Duvelorium!  Remembering that we'd missed this bit out on our last trip, we'd have a reversal this time and visited the pub but not the museum!

great places to drink in Markt Bruges

As well as the glorious interiors and wonderful beer selection, the Duvelorium boasts some pretty grand views of the Markt!

View of MArkt

As you can see, the Markt was all geared up for the Christmas market - with stalls selling all things festive, from hot chocolate to Christmas decorations - and the temporary ice rink that I was tempted by but had done too much shopping for!

view from Duvelorium

It's 366 steps to the top of Bruges belfry - and some very narrow twisty-turny steps at that, so I couldn't help it was with equal parts amusement and pity that I saw a lady look very relieved to get back to the bottom after her climb - only to see her face drop as she realised she left a bag at the very top and had to go back up to get it!

That wasn't this visit, but I can't look at this impressive tower now without thinking of the poor lass and the sorry state her legs must have been in by the end of the day!

In Bruges tower

Either led by this story, or simply because it's one of the best things to do in Bruges, we soon decided it was about time for another sit down and beer! Everyone advises you to 'stay away from the tourist areas' where you are likely to pay above the odds for your drink, and it many cases it's good advice, but sometimes the premium you pay on your beer for a nice spot like this one is totally worth it!

Drinks in markt square bruges

Once the shade settled over our previously sunny spot, the uncharacteristic warmth we'd been enjoying for the day quickly disappeared, plus it was getting to about time for us to set off back for the coach. With this in mind, we finished off the drinks and grabbed a warming sausage from one of the market stalls to help us on our way...

sausage stall

We didn't bother with a full sit down meal in any of Bruges' fine looking restaurants, as we wanted to spread our limited time in the city out as much as possible, but we made sure we ate well on the move nonetheless!

At some point I do aim to spend a little longer in Bruges - an overnight, at least - so we can afford to fit in some of the more time-consuming activities (despite multiple visits, I still have a list of things to do there!) but for the meantime I'm happy to spend my hours there just pottering around, with regular chocolate stops!

23 January 2016

Minicruise on the Pride of York

As a massive chocolate lover, Belgium is something of a spiritual home - and as such I try to make a short pilgrimage there each year. I'd somehow managed to get nearly all the way through 2015 without making it over, so booked a last minute minicruise to Bruges for some pre-Christmas shopping! 

pride of york

Like every previous trip to the beautiful city, we took the overnight ferry to Zeebrugge from Hull. Not only is it a lovely relaxed way of travelling, but if you book at the right times it can be really cheap too! We took advantage of the 'off season' 2-for-1 offer (though these cheaper months may correspond with some pretty choppy seas during your crossings!) for our short trip. 

long path of cabins

After getting into Hull with pretty much no time to spare (oops!) we parked up for a couple of nights, completed the quick check in at the ferry port and headed aboard! The ferry leaved Hull early evening, and gets into Zeebrugge the next morning, so overnight is spent on the ferry - which has a number of ways of keeping passengers entertained while they travel.

Firstly though, to find our cabin for the evening! 

bunk beds in ferry cabin

Now, I like a lot about the ferry. But I'd by lying if I said this was luxurious accommodation. There's little room in our cabin for anything but the slender bunk beds and a rather teeny bathroom, but I do hear rumours of fancy room upgrades if comfort is more important to you than cost (unfortunately we were on a tight budget for this trip but our dinky little cabin did us just fine!) 

ferry at night

 Due to our aforementioned late arrival in Hull, we'd not had time to eat before getting on the ferry - so decided to take advantage of the on board buffet restaurant (which doubled up nicely as a way to get us fed and to kill some travel time!) 

p and o ferries minicruise buffet

You can save money by booking your meals before you travel but as our late arrival was unplanned, we took advantage of the option to pay on board (buying a ticket for the next days breakfast buffet while we were at it as there was a deal on if you doubled up!)

hot buffet choices

We got to the restaurant not long after it opened, so had no trouble getting a table and our pick of food (though everything was topped up regularly!). There was plenty of food choice too - soups and salads, meat and veggies, and even a pretty extensive curry section! 

hull ferry buffet

Of course, its the desserts I really get my moneys worth at a buffet and I of course made sure I saved room for at least one big slice of cake (oh ok, and a wee tub of ice cream too!) 

pride of york food

And cheese... no more really needs to be said I'm sure!

ferry buffet choices

There's a little cinema on board - it doesn't show the latest releases but gets them sometime between the cinematic release and the DVD - so we bought tickets for The Intern. Sadly the film wasn't great but you can't win them all!

This took us to just about bed time, but not before a quick drink at one of the bars. There's a couple of places to get a drink on the ferry but we eschewed the the noisier Sunset Show Bar for the peaceful Piano Bar on this occasion. There's also casino and a coffee shop on board, as well as the opportunity for a little shopping. 

It was soon time to retire to our cabin for the night where we were ... uh, gently rocked to sleep by the rolling waves!

ferry cabin window

Morning meant to return to the buffet for breakfast before jumping on the coach to the gorgeous city of Bruges!

It was only a day trip on this occasion (which you'll be able to read all about very soon!), but next time I hope to take advantage of the chance to put off the return travel by a day and spend the night in Bruges instead!