Saturday, 13 May 2017

Am I defeatist?

Am I defeatist
Blossom tree

This is a weird post to be sat writing, especially as I’m on about draft three million. In fact, when I started trying to write this last week, I ended up brain dumping everything onto the page and making so little sense that I was questioning whether I could even write any more. It turns out that was (hopefully) a blip.

Personal posts are always difficult to write but I’m hoping at least someone will read it and think ‘yeah, actually, I get that’. If not... well, let’s just hope for the best.

Recently, I experienced something that made me feel defeatist, and that’s something I never believed I was. It’s weird how a situation can throw up a whole new personality trait you never knew you had, isn’t it?

On a Saturday morning recently, I was due to drive home from my flat in Leeds to my home town of York and that morning as I approached my car (also known as Polly – yes, I named my car, no I am not ashamed) I was greeted with a pile of broken glass. My car had been broken into and my sat nav had been stolen. Excellent. After a call to register the incident with the police, I scraped as much glass out of the car as I could and set about a chilly drive back down the A64 to the garage.

It was then that I made the decision that this was something I just had to let go.

With no CCTV or any evidence, there wasn’t anything anyone could do to trace who did it and I simply had to accept that I would be footing the bill for the repairs. But I told myself that it’s a piece of glass and a sat nav. It’s not a person. Cars can be fixed, but people can’t always be put back together so easily. The important thing is that nobody got hurt. Right?

It was the outrage of my friends and family that really shed light for me on how unjust this situation is. How it’s not fair - yet I was sat there accepting it. I was sucking it up and paying the price for someone else’s crime. I was left feeling that my space, my possessions, had been violated and that my home suddenly wasn’t as safe any more, but I wasn’t doing anything about it.  

Being defeatist just isn’t in my nature. I’ve always been the person who will argue the toss for what is right, I hate seeing people get away with wrong-doings and I’m proud to be the kind of person Piers Morgan would refer to as a ‘rabid feminist’. So this was an alien feeling to me. It felt wrong that I wasn’t filled with anger at the little shit who smashed my car window and stole a sat nav which is held together by blu tac.*

But the thing is, sometimes, shit happens. And it’s shit that we can’t change. Nobody gains from me being angry and hanging onto something I can’t do anything about. It might be defeatist and that’s not an attitude I would advocate when there’s a chance that things can go differently, but in this case? Actually, it’s OK to let it go and rise above it. It took a while for me to realise that accepting that I can’t change something doesn’t mean I’m being defeated by a situation and this is something I’m hoping I can apply to myself in the future.

So, if, like me, you come up against something where nothing you can do will change it, don’t beat yourself up for just drawing a line under it and moving on. If there’s even a tiny flickering light at the end of the tunnel that could be a way out, fight for it, but if not, it may just be time to accept it and leave it there. Please let me know in the comments if you’ve been in this situation and if you think I did the right thing, I’d be really interested to hear.

*More fool them, that sat nav hasn’t been updated in years and it’s more than likely that it will take them down roads that don’t exist. Preferably on a route that takes them off a cliff. 

Thursday, 11 May 2017

My first Yo! Sushi experience

My first Yo! Sushi experience
Yo! Sushi Trinity Leeds new menu

When it comes to trying new foods, I’m starting to become a lot more open minded, though it’s definitely taken a few years for me to get to this stage. To put this into context, when I was at university, my flatmates called me the ‘pasta master’ as it was all I ever ate. There were a lot of cuisines I was iffy about until recent years when opportunities have come up for me to try new dishes, whether that’s with friends or for blogging purposes and it’s definitely altered my tastebuds.

Enter Yo! Sushi.

I was definitely curious when I was invited down to try some of the new additions to the Yo! Sushi menu as I’ve never really been into fish (though times are changing, I don’t flat out refuse when it’s put in front of me now!), but I needn’t have worried as Yo! Sushi offers so much more than your traditional sushi rolls with fish in them.

The premise of Yo! Sushi is to sit at the conveyor belt and pick whichever plates of food take your fancy, and the colour of the plate determines the price. This means that if you come in absolutely starving hungry, you can get through as much food as you like, but if you’re in a group, you can treat it a little like tapas. Seven plates later, it’s safe to say that the portions are more than satisfying as what may look like a little can be incredibly filling.

We tried the following dishes:

  • Chicken Katsu Sando
  • Beef Katsu
  • Osaka Style Squid
  • Seared Beef Roll
  • Pork Teriyaki
  • Cod Nanbanzuke
  • Tokyo Banana Cake

Yo! Sushi Trinity Leeds new menu

Yo! Sushi Trinity Leeds new menu

Yo! Sushi Trinity Leeds new menu

Yo! Sushi Trinity Leeds new menu

Yo! Sushi Trinity Leeds new menu

My favourite dishes were the Chicken Katsu Sando which was essentially chicken katsu goujons in white bread and tasted a bit like a delicious sandwich of dreams. I wasn’t expecting a meat wrapped in white bread to be on a menu anywhere in the world as a delicacy but apparently it’s very popular in Japan and I can definitely see why. It has hangover food written all over it. I also really enjoyed the Cod Nanbanzuke which were fried balls of cod in a tangy sauce – definitely an unexpected winner for me.

When it came down to the sushi rolls, I actually found them quite heavy so I’d opt for them if I wanted something really filling, but otherwise, I’ll definitely be going for more of the streetfood style options when I go back. I didn’t even know that Yo! Sushi did desserts and now that I’ve tried the banana cake, which was incredibly light and refreshing, I’m desperate to try the raspberry flavour.

Now I’ve lost my Yo! Sushi virginity, I’m really keen to return and eat my way through the rest of the menu. Are you a Yo! Sushi fan? Do you fancy a sushi date with me? Let me know in the comments.

Monday, 8 May 2017

Making Burritos with Barburrito

Making Burritos with Barburrito
Barburrito The Light Leeds

Burritos are right now, my all time favourite food. I don’t even know how I got into them but now there’s no looking back for me. They’re my convenience food of choice. It’s the food I grab on the go when I’m in town and it’s what I make at home on a fairly regular basis, both in naked and wrapped formats.

I just love Mexican food, OK? In fact, Mexican is my speciality dish when it comes to cooking for dates as it’s the meal you can make where it looks like you’ve made a massive effort when actually you’ve just put everything into dishes. Sneaky.

Anyway, I was invited down to Barburrito to go make my own burrito and let’s face it, this is my dream. We had the opportunity to try everything that could possibly go into a burrito as they make everything fresh and being able to try everything makes me realise that I should probably diversify my order every once in a while instead of sticking with the flavour sensation that I already know and love.

Barburrito The Light Leeds

We started off with some burrito folding practice, and I didn’t think my efforts were too shabby. The trick is making sure that when you fold it over, you have a bit of an overlap so nothing spills out. For me, whilst it may sound like such a little thing, it’s really handy as I cook Mexican food for myself all the time at home since it’s very much Slimming World friendly. What I really like about Barburrito is that their menu is very diverse so will cover off all the dietary requirements you could possibly think of without anyone being left feeling hard done by.

When it came to fillings, I went for the pulled beef after trying it in the tasting session and realising it’s my new favourite filling. I was tempted by the steak as that’s also cooked fresh and is delicious, but I’m still feeling slow cooked, falling apart meat. I also went for spicy Mexican rice, mild salsa, an extra spoonful of guacamole (insert heart eye emoji here), cheese, sour cream, peppers and lettuce. It was mighty. But that’s the thing about this restaurant, it’s so cheap to get a really substantial meal on the go – unlike a lot of fast food places which cost the same for processed crap. Having seen behind the scenes of  the restaurant, it reassures me that everything in Barburrito is very fresh.

Barburrito The Light Leeds

Barburrito The Light Leeds

Barburrito The Light Leeds

After we’d made our burritos, we were sent on our way with a load of chips and dips as well and I wa pretty damn content. My favourite food and enough chips and dip to have the following day too – what more does a gal need? I’m already a loyal customer of Barburrito and will recommend them to anyone, but if you haven’t been before, definitely give it a try.

Are you a burrito fan? Let me know in the comments! 

Friday, 5 May 2017

Gusto, Leeds

Gusto Leeds Candlestick

Gusto is a strong addition to the Leeds restaurant scene and I was lucky enough to be invited to a menu tasting with a group of lovely bloggers recently. Situated on Greek Street, which is, let’s be honest one of the best areas of Leeds for food and drink right now, Gusto has been in Leeds for nearly a year, but this was my first visit to the restaurant. I was excited to go try their new menu, explore somewhere new, and of course, catch up with some lovely blogger faces for the evening.

Gusto Leeds sharing plate

We started with a cocktail and went for something a little different to usual and opted for a sweet and fruity drink, the Strawberry and Kiwi Sling, which is Bacardi Carta Blanca, kiwis and strawberries, with strawberry liqueur, lemon juice and splash of soda. This is sweeter than what I’d usually go for, but it was refreshing and fruity.

Gusto Leeds strawberry and kiwi cocktail

I decided to go for the plum tomato and basil tartlet for my starter and I was really impressed at how flavoursome it was – the tomatoes were delicious and perfectly complimented the filo pastry base. It wasn’t what I expected as it was layered over the base, rather than in a pastry case but it is something I would definitely order again. As vegetarian options go, I was impressed by the variation they had on the menu, and despite not being a veggie myself, it’s something I’d choose.

Gusto Leeds tomato and basil tart

For mains, I went for the beef fillet carpaccio salad, which was served with garlic and rosemary roast potatoes. I’ve started eating beef a lot more recently (usually I always go for chicken), and this was thiny sliced and cooked perfectly medium rare. Again, a dish which was full of flavour and a slightly lighter option when having three courses. The potatoes it was served with were also absolutely delicious and very garlicky which I loved (disclaimer, no vampires approached me on the way home and I can see why).

Gusto Leeds beef salad

When it came to dessert, I was torn between the vanilla pana cotta and the cheese board but opted for the sweet option. It was creamy and very strongly vanilla flavoured which I enjoyed and a lovely light way to end the meal. It was accompanied by strawberries which were dressed in aged balsamic – not a flavour combination I’ve ever come across, but one that I’m definitely a fan of.

Gusto Leeds vanilla pana cotta

I was really impressed by Gusto’s Spring menu offerings, it’s definitely somewhere I’d head back to as I’m keen to try their pizza and pasta dishes too. Have you ever been to Gusto? Let me know in the comments.


Monday, 1 May 2017

The Solo Project #10: A comedy show

Russell Howard Tour, Leeds
Russell Howard Tour Ticket

As someone who was described on more than a few school reports as ‘fiercely independent’, I’m one of those people who just doesn’t like missing out on things. Whilst I do have some great friends in Leeds, my nearest and dearest aren’t on my doorstep and I think that combined with being a single gal makes me just want to go ahead and do stuff, regardless of whether someone comes with me. When it comes to social stuff, I’m not a suggester as such and whilst I love seeing my friends, arranging the logistics can sometimes be tricky when there’s distance involved, so when I saw that a Russell Howard was doing a show in Leeds on a Sunday evening, I just booked it then and there.

I’ve always been a massive fan of his shows and saw him live for the first time back in 2013, so I knew I was definitely in for a good night. I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive about going by myself as the show took place in the First Direct Arena in Leeds, so it does feel fairly big and exposed when you’re by yourself – though looking back, I was sat on a full row of people and must have just blended in.

Having had a little wobble earlier in the evening about going it alone (where are these solo nerves coming from, I was like this with Amsterdam?!), I arrived at the arena and headed to the bar as yo to the freakin’ lo on a Sunday eve. Plastic pint glass in hand, I headed into the arena to find my seat a few minutes before the support act started. I found that my end of row seat was next to a teenage boy and his dad who didn’t even acknowledge that I was there. So far, so inconspicuous as I sat sipping my Strongbow Dark Fruits.

The support act was ace and I happily chuckled my way through it. The one thing that always made me nervous was having an absolute LOL to myself in such a crowded space, and though I contained my giggles a bit more than I would have usually, it didn’t stop me enjoying the warm up. In fact, the funniest bit was how awkward the father-son duo next to me looked as the comedian shared some rather explicit anecdotes about squirting.

After a half hour break (trust me, the queues for the ladies was long enough to fill that) it was time for Russell Howard to come on and I was truly immersed by the show. From TV and his previous tours, I already knew it would be hilarious but what got me was how inspirational and touching some parts of it was. Since seeing him last in 2013, his stand up style has really grown up and he touched upon very serious subjects as well as the more light hearted content. I found myself leaving feeling uplifted rather than just in high spirits and it did make me think that I wished I’d gone with someone who could have experienced such a good show with me.

Overall, I’m really glad I pushed myself to book a ticket and go to the show. Would I do it again? Most definitely. Though I love going to shows with my friends (role on Chris Ramsey in May), I enjoyed my solo comedy experience and I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for new shows at the arena.

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

The importance of capturing the moment

Samsung S8 Camera Review
polaroids with glasses and rings

I’m that person who needs to take a photo of everything. My friends, my food, my feet when I happen to be stood on a beautifully tiled floor, you name it, I take a photo of it. Oh and I’m partial to a good selfie (always beauty mode, always from my left side and always with my right hand playing with my hair, obvs). I know that I’m the person who gets laughed at for it and is constantly told ‘oh the BLOGGER is out with us’, but you know what? Capturing that moment is a big deal to me.

The lovely people at Carphone Warehouse lent me a Samsung S8 for a few days so I could take some shots, chat about the camera and do my general blogger thing, but when I started to think about it, I realised that having a camera in my pocket at all time is actually so important to me. I want to capture the little things and remember the days where whilst nothing extraordinary may have happened, they still made me smile. That’s one reason why I have a ‘one line a day’ journal, just to document a little bit of every day, so I don’t forget the little things. In 10 years time, I don’t just want to remember the milestones, I want to remember the things that made me laugh so hard that diet coke came out my nose (not the dream, and yet still hilarious).

polaroids with glasses and rings

A couple of things have really changed my perspective recently on how I view the world and what I can only refer to as ‘moments’. They’re the feelings, emotions and general vibes we experience every day in both a positive and a negative capacity. Whilst those moments, both good and bad, will never last forever, you can choose the ones you want to capture.

When I’m sad or scared or worried, I visualise those moments as physical things that I can watch pass by me. I can acknowledge that they’re there but that they’re not permanent. This way of seeing the world was introduced to me by a close family member who when feeling anxious, described it was ‘waiting for it to pass’.  On the other end of the spectrum, there are those happy, joyous and incredible moments which we try to cling to and make them last for as long as we can. When I saw the comedian Russell Howard recently, he described during his show how life should be about collecting those incredible moments, the ones that fill you with happiness that you want to last forever.

polaroids with glasses and rings

And it’s those positive moments that I try to photograph. The little bits of beauty, of happiness, of laughter and of everything else that symbolise the good time I’m having. Whilst I don’t want to entirely live my life through a lens (ie, I’ll never be the person who goes to a gig and spends the entire time filming it) I want to keep hold of those memories.

Having a high quality camera to hand, it turns out, is more important to me than I realised. Aside from the fact that the S8 camera could pretty comfortably replace my blogging camera (Sony A5000) when it comes to quality, it would give me the opportunity to take the beautiful photos of my every day, not just occasions. And that’s important to me. It’s important that in years to come that I remember the prosecco fuelled Friday nights after a long week in the office as much as I remember the weddings and the celebrations. So the next time you’re with me and making jokes about how I’m taking photos of everything? It’s because you’re part of a moment I want to remember.

Monday, 24 April 2017

A rum masterclass with Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay Huddersfield
Turtle Bay Huddersfield cocktails

I’ll confess, I’ve cheated. I’ve cheated on gin and even my beloved vodka. I’ve become a rum drinker.

My relationship with rum didn’t get off to a great start back in my teenage years when one fateful night I threw up a lethal mix of Malibu and pineapple (I would not recommend) but I’ve now learned about proper rum. Real rum. The rum which makes you ask ‘why is the rum always gone’ the second you run out and accompany it with the swagger of Captain Jack Sparrow from Pirates of the Carribean.

Turtle Bay is definitely the go-to destination for any budding pirates (pet parrot and eye patch are optional) as they have it all. Even a high quality coconut rum which is a better version of Malibu – though even the scent of that one brought back a few bad memories. For those who are an absolute badass and/or a total maniac, they have rum which is over 70% proof. And for the rest of us inbetween, they have a whole load of other rums, which can be bought by the shot or served in a cocktail.

Turtle Bay Huddersfield mojito

Turtle Bay Huddersfield cocktail masterclass

As you may have guessed, it’s the type of place where realistically, you need to drink your way through the menu on a really chilled Saturday afternoon. When it comes to cocktails, I tend to go for drinks which are quite fruity, so the Passionfruit and Vanilla Mojito (gold rum, vanilla, fresh passionfruit, lime, mint) and the Bay Bramble, (white rum, blackberry liqueur, lime and soda) are personal faves. I love trying new cocktails and I’m really grateful to have had an opportunity to do a masterclass like this and see what I like as it makes me more adventurous when it comes to trying new things.

I’ve been to Turtle Bay for food a few times now and it’s definitely made me a lot less scared of spicy food – it’s only in the last year where I’ve ventured beyond extra mild anything. Jerk chicken is always incredibly flavoursome at Turtle Bay so whilst it’s got a kick, the taste sensation distracts from that. It was in Turtle Bay where I also tried goat for the first time and that’s definitely a meat I’d go back to as in their curry it’s incredibly tender and I enjoy that it’s a strong tasting meat. Their run down is a great veggie option and of course, no Carribean food would be complete without rice and peas.

Turtle Bay Huddersfield sharing board

Turtle Bay Huddersfield curry and rice

Turtle Bay is definitely a strong addition to the bar scene in Huddersfield, which in general has really improved since I left university (typical). The atmosphere isn’t like anywhere else in the town centre in that it’s really chilled out, yet the staff are very passionate about what they do.

Are you a fan of rum? Have you ever been to Turtle Bay? Let me know in the comments!
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