Saturday, 9 June 2018

Brunching with Pie Minister

Brunching with Pie Minister
Bottomless brunch pieminister


You know the only decent pie restaurant on the highstreet right now? They’ve only gone and launched a bottomless brunch haven’t that. Needless to say I was pretty chuffed to be invited to indulge in the dreamy combo of brunch pies and a tipple or two. Or three. Or y’know, leaving feeling pretty tipsy on a Saturday afternoon.

I headed to the Leeds restaurant with one of my best gals, Jenna, (she’s a friend from way back in primary school), for a catch up, carbs and some Saturday fizz. We were there to review, but at £20 a person for 90 minutes, I’d say that it’s probably the best value bottomless brunch deal in Leeds right now. For that, you get a brunch main and bottomless prosecco, Aperol Spritz, Mimosas or Bloody Marys. Oh hello you delightful combo.



Bottomless brunch pieminister


We both started off with an Aperol Spritz each as neither of us had tried it before but I decided to move onto prosecco and Jenna switched to mimosas. I must admit, I was impressed with the service as a lot of places offering bottomless brunch will only bring you another drink when you’ve finished your first but our glasses were never empty. Our waitress even came over just before our 90 minutes was due to be up to get us another drink.

The brunch menu isn’t absolutely massive but it does have two brunch pies (one meat, one veggie), skillets for those wanting something less carb heavy and of course, avo on toast. The menu covers off gluten free and vegan dietary requirements too which is great to see, plus there’s enough variation to please the pickiest of eaters. Jenna and I both went for a brunch pie, Jenna going for meat and me choosing the veggie option, and both were served with braised beans and fried bread. The ‘Morning Glory’ pie which Jenna had was free range sausage, cheddar and potato hash top pie with cheese b├ęchamel, a baked egg, tomato and crispy bacon. Mine (the Munch Brunch) was smoked cheese, veggie sausage, mushroom and potato hash top pie with a baked egg, tomato and halloumi. Let’s be honest, I was sold with the halloumi.



Bottomless brunch pieminister


Bottomless brunch pieminister


We both seriously enjoyed the food, the pies were tasty and the braised beans were the perfect accompaniment. It felt like proper ‘brunch’ food as it was breakfast food in a lunch-y setting. We did the 11am sitting which worked perfectly for us as we didn’t have to get up super early but we also then had the rest of the day afterwards too.

At the moment, Pie Minister is serving bottomless brunch every other weekend and they have sittings at either 11am or 3pm. For more info, check out their website here

Will you be indulging in a bottomless brunch soon? Let me know in the comments!

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Thursday, 7 June 2018

Escape Hunt: Going head to head

Escape Hunt UK - Leeds The Light
escape hunt leeds


Escape rooms are officially my new favourite thing. Escape Hunt recently launched in The Light in Leeds with a World War Two themed room called Our Finest Hour which I was invited down to review (you can read that here), and they just launched a second room called The Fourth Samurai which is a Japanese theme. Naturally when I saw that it was launching, I jumped at the chance of trying out the second room, but this time, going head to head.

The first time we went, we attempted the room in a group of six, which meant that at times, we were more than a little frantic but worked well together as a team to escape the room with a couple of minutes to spare. This time, we worked in teams of three – as there are two rooms which are identical, it’s a great opportunity to bring in a little competition. I’d say friendly competition but we were definitely very competitive! I teamed up with Hannah and Juan and we were against Hollie, Maz and Luke.

The three of us were led into our first rooms where we were briefed by our games master who explained that we had been captured, were in a cell and our mission was to return the stone which made a Samurai very powerful back to where it came from.

I think that as it was our second escape room, we had a bit more of an idea of how to play the game than when we did the World War Two themed room as that had been a first time for all of us and we were all a bit over whelmed. I can’t give away the secrets or the clues, but we all really enjoyed working our way through four rooms and escaping with just a few clues from our games master.

When we reconvened after the games, we debriefed as a full group and worked out where we all had strengths and weaknesses. Whilst there were definitely stronger skills on each side where we could have done well as a team of six, given the nature of the rooms, I think we would have peaked at around four team members. This is the World War Two room required quite a lot of teamwork, whereas this room was less reliant on multiple team members doing different things at the same time.

Now that we’ve done two rooms, we all left saying that we felt like we had caught a bug for it. Beating the timer to get out is an addictive buzz and we’re keen to try different themes. Whilst there are a lot of rooms out there which are horror themed, I do think the rooms which are themed make you focus on the logic and puzzles rather than being side tracked by being terrified – but who knows, maybe a horror one would test how we work together under pressure. Or could just be the tipping point that pushes me to use the emergency button to get out – who knows!


Escape Hunt is definitely a great evening out, and with colleagues is a good team builder, especially when there’s a bit of rivalry going on. We all escaped but I was a little bit gutted that the other team made it out 30 seconds faster than us! Though they got more clues than us!

Would you do an escape room? Let me know in the comments!
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Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Dining with DFDS

DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen


When you think of an overnight ferry to Amsterdam, I’m sure for the most of us, the food isn’t really at the forefront of our minds, right? If you’re like me, you’d be heading onboard for a fun night of drinks and entertainment before a whistlestop trip to the ‘Dam the next day (a day in the city is long enough to get some decent shots for the ‘gram, right?) and then back on the ship for your voyage home.

I was invited to try out the Explorer’s Kitchen on DFDS’ King Seaways recently and let’s be honest, nobody is going to turn down an all you can eat buffet with a bunch of bloggers, right? After a slightly frantic drive up from Leeds which saw me going through the Tyne Tunnel THREE TIMES on my way there (cheers Google maps), I arrived and checked in at the port and got my boarding card for the ferry. Disclaimer, the port is actually really easy to get to, but my ability to follow directions is somewhat lacking.

What surprised me about the experience is the quality of the food. When I stepped onto the ship and saw the sheer size of it, I must admit I was a little dubious as surely producing really good food for that many people must be a task and a half for the kitchen staff. In reality? I was blown away. The options pretty much took us around the world with British, American, Nordic, Spanish, Italian and Asian food, so naturally I tried a bit of everything. Mac and cheese lasagne? That can come right at me. On the same plate as a Spanish tortilla? Absolutely.



DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen


DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen


DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen


DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen


DFDS King Seaways Explorers Kitchen


Since getting off the ship, I’ve actually recreated the Spanish tortilla at home because I loved it so much and wanted to share the recipe as it’s such an easy lunch option (plus if you’re on Slimming World, it’s both filling and free).

Ingredients:
4 small salad potatoes
6 eggs
Handful of chopped peppers (I go for three colours of peppers)
1 red onion, diced
4-6 mushrooms, diced

Method:
  • Boil the potatoes for 20mins
  • During this time, soften the veg over a medium heat
  • Drain and slice the potatoes, use them to line the bottom of a greased flan dish (I used Frylight)
  • Spoon the veg over the top of the potatoes evenly
  • Beat 6 eggs and pour over the veg and potatoes
  • Bake in the oven, preheated to 180 degrees, for 20mins
  • Serve with salad either hot or cold

Spanish tortilla recipe



After we dined on the ship, we had a tour which confirmed to me that should I book a trip ferry to Holland with DFDS, I will most certainly be getting a Commodore Cabin as they are very fancy! With those cabins, you can access the luxury Commodore Restaurant and as it’s a two night crossing, I would definitely do one night in there for a holiday ‘treat yo’self’ and the other at the Explorer’s Kitchen as 20 euros is an absolute steal for an onboard all you can eat.

So tell me, when was the last time you indulged in a really good all you can eat? Let me know in the comments.

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Monday, 28 May 2018

Ed Sheeran: The Divide World Tour

Ed Sheeran: The Divide World Tour
Ed Sheeran: The Divide World Tour


You know when you book tickets so far in advance that something just creeps up on you? That’s what it felt like when I booked Ed Sheeran tickets this time last year.

I’ve been to a lot of concerts in the past for a lot of big artists but this one was definitely a stand out to me (and probably the people who filled the Etihad Stadium in Manchester on four consecutive nights too – a pretty hefty achievement for a guy who seems just as surprised as we are that he made it this big). Normally with a gig that big, you’d expect a massive production, but in reality, he took to the stage with just a guitar and a loop pedal so that he could create all of the backing tracks live on the night. There was no band, no dancers, no pyrotechnics. Regardless of whether you’re a fan of his music, there’s a lot of skill involved in getting an entire arena absolutely bouncing when you’re up there on stage alone. I loved that because of this, each show is unique as the tracks get wiped every night and recreated the next time.

This show was also my first stadium experience which definitely made it different for me. As I’m not a sports fan, I had never been in a stadium before in my life and I think the beautiful weather and being seated in a block fairly near the stage were deal breakers. If we’d been in the furthest block in pouring rain, I imagine it would have been a bit of a shit night! It definitely took a bit longer to get the crowds in the stands warmed up as when you’re seated, the crowds are like sheep – if one stands, they all do, if nobody does, you’re sat for the night. It was maybe two or three songs in before everyone was getting involved but after that, the atmosphere was incredible.

The only concern I’d had on the evening of the show was around the logistics of getting there and back as having never lived in a city with a tram system, there’s always that little unknown of will I make it back in time for my train afterwards. In my mind, it was going to be absolute chaos getting out of the stadium but in reality, it was organised how it would be if it was a match day – you were separated based on how you were getting home (whether you were walking, going to the carpark or getting a tram). As we ducked out just before the end, we managed to get on a tram within 15 minutes of leaving the stadium and it was only for 10 minutes or so to get back to the station. We ended up back around 40 minutes before our train home which worked well for us.

As a gig venue, it was great to see an artist I love perform on a bigger scale and when it was a warm night, for it to be open air as the sun went down, that really added to the atmosphere. But at the same time, I still prefer smaller venues and I think Leeds Arena is probably still my favourite – it’s small enough to feel like you’re not miles from the stage no matter where you’re sat but big enough for it not to be a nightmare getting tickets.

Overall, it was a fantastic evening and we felt like we’d got a great deal paying £50 per ticket to see Jamie Lawson and Anne-Marie too. Would I go back to a stadium? It probably wouldn’t be my first choice of venue but if it was in the summer for a massive artist? Absolutely.

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Wednesday, 23 May 2018

How to make an occasion special

Bakerdays Cake review
Bakerdays photo cake


Everyone has that one friend who always goes a little bit extra on a birthday or any occasion, but how do you become that person? It’s always that extra effort that you remember someone making that leaves you feeling a bit #blessed which is why I’ve partnered up with Bakerdays for this post which is full of tips – mainly borrowed tips from when my sister went a bit all out on my birthday.

Get them a cake
Well, obviously! Bakerdays do personalised cakes which can be as big as a party cake or as small as a treat that will go straight through your letterbox. Think posting a cake is risky? Let me tell you, when it turns up in a tin and perfectly intact, it’s not even worth worrying about. The one Bakerdays sent me was actually for my mum’s birthday so naturally I got a photo of her face on it and it was even gluten free as she’s a coeliac). It’s just a personal touch.

Decorating a table
When it was my birthday last month, my sister contacted the restaurant I was having lunch at with her and some friends ahead of time to make sure she could come and decorate the table before I arrived. This was a total surprise to me, but it meant I walked in to a table dressed with balloons and confetti which made it really special.

Make a favour for each of the group
Another thing my sister did was create the equivalent of a ‘party bag’ for me and all of my friends, which was a paper bag with some sweets in for everyone. It’s one of those things which isn’t expensive but the thought and time really does make difference.

Present your meal
When I have guests over, my go-to dinner is Mexican, mainly because it’s my favourite cuisine but also because it’s easy to make a simple meal look impressive. Making your salsa and guac from scratch and laying out the meal in bowls so that your guests can create their own shows that you’re thinking about them, even though you end up doing more washing up.

So, they’re my little tips to going above a little bit extra to be thoughtful on an occasion without going absolutely overboard (though if anyone wants to throw me a surprise party complete with flashmob, I would be overjoyed). Like the look of a Bakerdays cake? Get 15% off with the code GLASSESGIRL15 and surprise someone with their face on a cake via their postman.

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Monday, 21 May 2018

Spending or saving with GiffGaff Game Plan


Cuckoo Leeds


FYI, all the photos in this post are credited to the fantastic team at Search Labs who put on the event, they did a way better job at capturing it than me. It turns out my photography skills go out the window once I've played beer pong).

I’m the first to admit that money management isn’t my strong point. I’m definitely more of a yolo-er than a saver but you know when you do something that throws your attitude into a harsh reality? That’s where I’m at.

I was invited along to Cuckoo (one of my fave bars ever in Leeds) for a night with GiffGaff who were there to chat about GiffGaff Gameplan which is their financial service to help people save. I mean, they have their work cut out with me, but the night made me stop and think a little more seriously about where my finances are going. As LOL I spend a little too much time eating and drinking my bank balance rather than saving it.

We played a Monopoly style board-game on the night where you collect your wages for passing go and on each square you landed on, you’d have to complete actions like paying money for date night or council tax, or receive money from a work bonus etc. There were also scarily real chance cards including ‘you just got paid and your money turned to beer tokens, pay £100 for a spontaneous work night out’. Umm how guilty am I of going for one drink after work and it escalating into rolling in at 2am with a Dominos? Yup. But moving swiftly on.


GiffGaff Game Plan


GiffGaff Game Plan


 The night made me think about where I really want to be spending my money. I want to find the balance between living my best life and financial security as whilst it’s good to enjoy your spare time, it shouldn’t be to the detriment of your future self. There’s only so much living in the moment that you can do whilst being a responsible adult, right?


GiffGaff Game Plan


For me, it’s working out whether what you’re spending money on is worth it. For example, I brought my car over to Leeds recently which is a costly investment when it comes to parking but it also brings me freedom – even if I only use said freedom to go to the supermarket! But spending money on going out? That’s taken a back seat in recent weeks as whilst I love my friends, I don’t want to be regularly paying for the privilege of having a hangover – and it means I can get up and drive the next day without worrying about being over the limit!


beer pong cuckoo leeds


beer pong cuckoo leeds


Money is such a personal thing, as is what we prioritise spending it on. I’ve only been out the county twice in the last 5 years because I’ve chosen to spend my money on gigs, day trips, nights out and things that I want, whereas some people might have a mini-heart attack at the thought of not going on holiday for so long. But it’s personal preference and I stand by that despite the judgement I seem to get!

I think what I really took away from my night with GiffGaff Game Plan (aside from the knowledge that I’m shit at beer pong) is that money is there to be enjoyed not wasted and the better you are with it, the more you can enjoy it, regardless of whether your priorities are the same as anyone else’s. What are your money saving tips? Let me know in the comments.

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Sunday, 20 May 2018

Was the Royal Wedding a right royal waste of tax payers money?

Royal Wedding
Royal Wedding Yui Mok / Press association
Photo Credit: Yui Mok / Press association


It’s easy to see why at first thought that spending an estimated £32m on a wedding is a little OTT when it’s the Royal family (AKA, the tax payer) footing the bill. Why should we pay for it? We don’t know them, they’re not our friends and the vast majority of us aren’t attending. Seems a little ridiculous, right?

But then you think about it. That £32m (of which it’s thought £30m was spent on security, which is a winner for everyone involved as that wedding had terror threat written all over it, let’s be honest), has been matched and more in the profits that have come out of it. Profits which are taxable. In fact, of that £32m, you have to consider where it was going. To businesses and services, which for the most part are UK based and therefore some of that will go into VAT, before you get into anything else.

And then there's the fact that the Ro
yal Family (which are a business in their own right) paid for 'the core aspects of the wedding, such as the church service, the associated music, flowers, decorations, and the reception afterwards.' So the tax payer wasn't quite as out of pocket as first thought.

People flew from around the world and travelled the length of the country to be in Windsor for the wedding. Those people paid money into our transport system, to hotels, to restaurants and shops, just to be there. In fact, I doubt there was an empty hotel room in Windsor that weekend, or a quiet pub or bar. Or a supermarket not having to order in extra bottles of water, convenience food, party snacks and prosecco. And that’s just in Windsor.

What about the rest of the country where city centre bars were packed with those making a day of it to watch the wedding as they just love the royals? Or spending their cash throwing parties and BBQs? Or even better, being a guest at the wedding itself as I doubt many of those filling St George’s Chapel weren’t wearing a whole new outfit which came in at a hefty pricetag, a hotel that was sold at a premium rate and everything else on top.

Suddenly, (not to take it away from Harry and Meghan as it’s their big day), but the wedding itself is a marketer’s dream.

It might have seen some heavy tax-payer investment but the profits to be had out of this outweigh it massively through increased sales from everyone wanting to be a part of it. Think about the companies who make cardboard masks of famous faces? They will have been rubbing their hands with glee – and let’s face it, they probably won’t make that much money again until Prince George ties the knot.

Marks and Spencer rebranded as ‘Marks and Sparkle’ for the weekend, ASDA was selling ‘When Harry met Meghan’ tshirts, and that’s before you get to online discounts by every highstreet retailer to encourage us to part with our cash. Behind a lot of this will be creative agencies, evens planner and your every day staff at anywhere doing anything wedding related all earning an additional pretty penny out of the day.

And then of course there’s the good that came out of it. The going against outdated traditions as a mixed race, American and divorced feminist married into the royal family and the defiant step forward in history that the day was. The look on the Queen’s face when Bishop Michael Curry absolutely stole the show in the same way that Pippa’s arse did when Kate and Wills got wed. (He is my hero). The fact that so many people spent time with family and friends to celebrate it. I don’t see any negatives here.

Overall, in my oh so humble opinion, I think the royal wedding was an investment in tax payers money. And to all those scrooges whinging that the money could have gone to the NHS? Be realistic, it wouldn’t have happened and you know it.

What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments.

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Friday, 4 May 2018

10 things about going to IKEA as an adult

10 things about going to IKEA as an adult
IKEA shelves in store

Photo credit: pixabay


Confession time, I recently went to IKEA for the first time as an adult. I must have been around 6 years old when I last went to IKEA and let me tell you, it’s a weird af experience to someone who’s never been before as a grown up. I recently went with my friend Maz who is an IKEA enthusiast to say the least and whilst I wasn’t quite as enthusiastic about the shop itself, I was definitely looking forward to seeing the scale of excitement she experienced – I wasn’t let down. Here are my thoughts on going to IKEA as an adult.

1. It’s just like Argos but instead of flicking through a catalogue, you walk through it.
2. All of the little rooms that are done up look like they’re straight out of an AirBnB.
3. Why don’t I have a blank canvas of a flat to just do out exactly like the done up rooms?
4. As I walked round, I quickly realised that the person I bought my fully furnished flat from clearly had the same idea as I spotted a fair few things that I own from said done up rooms.
5. How many pencils is it acceptable to take? (I opted for three).
6. How are there so many variations of a frying pan?
7. Likewise utensils, bins, toilet seats and rugs.
8. When you forget something and have to go back for it, it’s like the arrows they project on the floor flicker menacingly at you for breaking the one rule of IKEA.
9. The kids toy section is still as exciting at 26 as it was when I was six. Who doesn’t want a large cuddly toy shark to snuggle down with at night? (I ended up leaving the shark in the shop, sob).
10. After the whole horsemeat scandal of a million years ago, it’s a relief to see that IKEA in Leeds is on a retail park with a Nando’s. I don’t even have any objection to horsemeat, I just don’t want to feel tricked into eating it, y’know?

So, have you been to IKEA recently? Did you go to the one in Leeds and sack it off for Homesense which is next door? Did you risk the meatballs or did you indulge in some peri peri chicken?

Let me know in the comments.



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Tuesday, 1 May 2018

Home interiors on a budget

Home interiors on a budget
bedroom


You know when you see someone with the most Pinterest-perfect home and wonder how the hell they managed to afford it? That’s me, every damn time. When you’re not an interiors guru (which I definitely am not), it’s actually surprisingly hard to develop any kind of home styling or theme when you first move into your own place and have the opportunity to go wild. Living in a one-bed flat means I don’t have much space to play with but I’ve decided that 2018 is the year that I make it more ‘me’ (it’s taken me long enough, I’ve only lived here nearly four years). Here are my tips to home interiors on a budget.

Get rid of the stuff you haven’t chosen yourself
This was a big one for me as I was renting my flat when I bought it so it came fully furnished – right down to the canvases on the walls and the shitty pleather sofa that moults every time someone sits on it. Over the last few years, I’ve gradually binned and replaced as much stuff as I can so that things are actually to my tastes, not the tastes of the previous owner. For other people, this may mean binning things they’ve been gifted in the past (#sorrynotsorry) and replacing hand-me-down furniture with new things.

Go to budget stores
It’s easy to go into shops like Aldi, Primark and Home Bargains and see budget buys next to other budget items on the shelf and think they look cheap – but out of that context and in your home, actually, they look nothing of the sort. My bedside tables are *those* marble topped ones from Aldi (I got two sets of two tables, for £20 each) and my bedside lamps were £8 each in Primark. I also have another small table in my living room which is from Sainsburys that I absolutely adore.

Have fresh flowers
There is nothing better than fresh flowers to make your home feel ‘finished’ when you’ve done a big clean and tidy. And if you don’t want fresh? Pick up some fake flowers.

Put up prints
Having artwork on your walls doesn’t have to involve spending a fortune or banging nails into walls. My prints are from Fy and Desenio, frames are from IKEA and Amazon and have been put up with command strips. As I live by myself, I see the prints that I have as for the flat rather than the future so I’ve gone for everything which is exactly to my taste – I mean, this is the only time I’m living somewhere which is entirely my own and I don’t have to consider what anyone else thinks.  And this my friends is why I have a framed print of the lyrics to the Fresh Prince of Belair rap on my wall.


So, that’s my tips for interiors on a budget – let me know yours in the comments.

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Monday, 30 April 2018

Summer loving at The Potting Shed, Guiseley

The Potting Shed, Guiseley
The Potting Shed, Guiseley


You know when you get that first hint of sunshine of the year and suddenly everyone gets all British and dashes outside to soak up the vitamin D? Hi, hello, guilty. I recently headed down to try the new menu at The Potting Shed in Guiseley which opened just before Christmas and I’d been on their terrace approximately three seconds before I was declaring that it was beer garden weather and why oh why did I decide to drive.



The Potting Shed, Guiseley



I’ve been to The Potting Shed in Bingley before and absolutely loved it, but The Potting Shed in Guiseley has food which is just as incredible but also ticks all of my Instagram boxes. Yep, I’m that basic. But who doesn’t love a restaurant which has so many plants that it feels like a none-sweaty version of Tropical World? Their upstairs restaurant is absolutely stunning with high ceilings, beautiful furnishings and so much green.

The food at The Potting Shed is like next level pub food. It’s fancier than what you’d expect in a pub that’s in a small town on the outskirts of Leeds, but it’s still hearty and the menu is clearly a mix of everyone’s favourite things. The team told us all about how all of the staff have an input into the menu which is so lovely as it means they’re genuine advocates of the food. You can expect burgers, pizzas, pub classics and loads of different side plates too – so it’s perfect whether you want something to nibble on as you have drinks or if you’re there for a meal.

We started off with a selection of starters which they put out for us all as a buffet so we could try a bit of everything. There was everything from calamari to pate, to chicken goujons and garlic doughballs. I must admit, my personal fave was the honey and mustard chipolata sausages as they were so tasty and delicious. They will definitely be on the table when I go back!



The Potting Shed, Guiseley



The Potting Shed, Guiseley


For mains, we all went for something different but I definitely over-estimated how hungry I was when I went for the ‘Gnome’s Revenge’ burger which was a double burger (and each burger was huge!) with cheese, pizza sauce, pepperoni, salad, all in a bun and served with sweet potato fries. I did my very best but the portions are definitely not small! You know when you’re eating something and thinking ‘yep, this could see off any level of hangover’? That’s where I was at with that burger!



The Potting Shed, Guiseley


When it comes to cocktails, their menu is pretty extensive too. I was on the mocktails as I was driving but even then, it felt like a lot of effort had gone into creating some pretty non-alcoholic drinks. I had a couple of fruity mocktails which were really refreshing, though having been out on their terrace, the next time I’m there, I’ll be getting the train so I can have a gin in hand!

Overall, I was really impressed by The Potting Shed and I think it’s definitely worth getting a train out of Leeds city centre to go there (especially as it’s just next to the station). Will you be trying The Potting Shed? Let me know in the comments!

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Sunday, 29 April 2018

How to survive your first Escape Room

Escape Hunt The Light Leeds
escape hunt leeds


Escape rooms seem to be popping up all over the country and Escape Hunt is the latest addition to The Light in Leeds. If you haven’t been to an Escape Room before, the concept is that you and your team get locked in a themed room which is filled with puzzles and codes which you have to solve in order to escape within a time limit.

At the moment, it contains two World War Two themed rooms and I was invited down with some of my friends to try it out during their press launch. Having never been to an escape room before, I was slightly concerned that my friends from work were going to see the controlling psychopath side to my personality that I usually don’t bring out (LOL) but thankfully we managed to stay calm and escape.

We absolutely loved the experience we had with our games master, Noel. He talked us through how we’d get into the room and have to work the clues out from there and how he’d be watching us the whole time and listening to our conversations so he could give us a nudge in the right direction if necessary – which turned out to be fairly frequently!



escape hunt leeds


Though I can’t give away the clues as it would ruin the game, the idea is to break through a series of codes and puzzles in order to find and destroy a bomb which was planted by a spy. When we first walked in, I did just think to myself ‘but what the hell do we do first’ as we weren’t given any prior instructions but after searching the room, it became clearer and we moved from clue to clue and eventually got out with two minutes to spare.



escape hunt leeds


At Escape Hunt in Leeds, as there are two rooms, there is an opportunity to go against each other in teams, which we had originally planned to do, but we were advised to go in as a six. After doing the Escape Room, it became quickly apparent that we definitely needed everyone’s different skill sets and we’d have struggled in a team of three.



escape hunt leeds


escape hunt leeds


As it was my first Escape Room experience, I wanted to share some of my tips to getting out in under an hour.

1. Go with colleagues. I found that because I went with friends from work, we already know how to work together and to listen, plus you can’t lose your shit entirely in front of your boss. I think for a first time escape room experience where you don’t know what your doing, this makes it a whole lot easier as it could definitely break up a friendship.

2. Listen to what people are saying. Even if you think it’s wrong, let everyone’s voice be heard, simply because it stops people getting pissed off and wound up.

3. Work together but also play to your strengths. When solving the first few clues, we worked together and tried to be methodical but after that, we ended up splitting up a bit – making it very hard for Noel who was trying to keep track of how we were doing from the outside!

4. Wear a watch. I didn’t do this but as we couldn’t take our phones in with us, it meant we had no concept of time whilst we were in there and towards the end, that meant that we started to panic that we were running out of time.

5. Check everything and then check it again. It’s really easy to miss clues because you haven’t searched enough – but at the same time, if it’s bolted down, take that as meaning you shouldn’t be trying to move it!


I absolutely loved my Escape Hunt experience and would 100% recommend doing it as a team building activity. It is £25 per person and before we went, we thought it was quite pricey, but for the amount of fun we had, I’d say it’s worth it for an occasion or event.

Thank you to Escape Hunt for inviting us down, to our games master Noel who made it a fantastic experience and to Maz, Hannah, Hollie, Luke and Juan for coming with me.

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Friday, 27 April 2018

How to not spend all your money on food*

How to not spend all your money on food
york minster through blossom


Oh let’s be honest, if we’re not eating our money, we’re drinking or wearing it, right? Please tell me it’s not just me! The more I preach about experiences over material things, the more I seem to spend on food and drink - when what I want to do with my cash is put it towards doing fun stuff (like going back to my beaut home town of York, pictured above).  

I’ve got to the point where my lifestyle quite frankly isn’t sustainable if I want to save any of my hard earned dollar so I’ve teamed up with Satsuma Loans to make me re-think my attitude towards my budget with a week-long challenge.

My worst habit is food on the go and I can hold my hands up and say that in recent weeks, my standards have been slipping. In fact I’m probably solely responsible for a new hole in the ozone layer with the amount of packaging that’s come wrapped around the convenience food I’ve consumed. Oops. But y’know, the staff at my local Co-op near work are probably seeing an all time high in profits so swings and roundabouts. I desperately need to be more budget and environment friendly (disclaimer, I do recycle at least!) and here are the changes I’ll be making.

1. Eating breakfast at home. I’ve slipped into the habits of grabbing fruit and a yoghurt on my way into work (£3.50 a time, kerching) rather than eating at home. Whilst on the surface that sounds healthy, it’s actually a bit of a sugar spike until 10am and then I’m hungry again by half 11. By eating a healthy breakfast at home I end up being far fuller for longer and it’s higher protein too.

2. Bringing lunch to work. Umm yep that’s another £5 a day on lunch on the go! By bringing in food I’ve prepped myself, firstly I know what’s in it and secondly I can bulk-buy ingredients at the start of the week. Whilst I do end up spending a fair bit on lunch foods anyway even when I make it myself (salads might sound cheap but I like to be a little fancy so I don’t get bored), at least this is a healthy option that doesn’t involve a whole load of packaging.

3. Actually eating at home. LOL shocker. I go out to eat or pick up food on the way home from work far too frequently and I’m getting to the point where I’ve forgotten what it’s like to go home and cook tea.


My meal plan

Planning my meals means that I know that at least three times a day I’m eating something nutritionally balanced which means I can feel a little less guilty if I have a treat. Disclaimer, this might look healthy af but I can assure you that some chocolate will be sneaking it’s way in!

Breakfast
Scrambled eggs, baked beans, mushrooms and broccoli. Yep, broccoli for breakfast. This is purely a health thing for me as it’s a great way to get more greens in when on a weekday, breakfast is fuel and something I do on autopilot rather than food I eat to enjoy! Broccoli on weekends... it’s a no from me. Eggs and beans are high protein so keep me going and mushrooms just taste nice.

Lunch
Salad, followed by fruit. My salads include spinach, tomatoes, cucumber, peppers in three colours, avocado, sweetcorn, kiwi fruit, grapes, cheese, chicken or ham and if I’m feeling fancy, potato salad or coleslaw. Again, it’s a whole load of veg but the meat keeps me full for the afternoon and it’s hard to get bored when it’s perfect summery food.

Snack
Veg sticks with hummus. I freaking LOVE hummus, in particular peri peri or red pepper. I’ll have this with carrot/pepper/cucumber sticks and it means that a pot can last a few days and I have something to snack on mid-afternoon at work – this is mainly to stop me ending the day absolutely starving and picking up convenience food for tea.

Tea
There are a few budget evening meals that I love, but pesto pasta with veg (and/or garlic bread), chilli, fajitas and Cajun chicken are my absolute faves for quick and easy dinners. I hate cooking with an absolute passion so everything I make takes under 15 minutes, and these are all easy options which I can cook from scratch in that time. Pesto pasta or pasta with a stir in sauce are my go-to options when I come in after one too many drinks at the pub too and voila I’ve just saved £15 from not having a Dominos (answers on a postcard as to why my drunk self thinks she ballin’ and can throw money at pizza).

So that’s my plan to save some cash and get a little healthier in the process – what are your tips? Let me know in the comments!


*This post is sponsored by Satsuma Loans but all thoughts, opinions and love of hummus are my own.

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Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Turning 26 and birthday celebrations

Turning 26 and birthday celebrations
caterpillar cake


Twenty-six years old. When did that happen? Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware that I’m still a spring chicken in the grand scheme of things but let’s just say that I haven’t followed my 16 year old self’s life plan. Or even my 21 year old self’s life plan. You know what this is teaching me? Don’t make life plans as when you’re too busy living your life you’ll probably forget to stick to it.

I spent my 26th birthday in the sunshine on a rooftop bar in Leeds with some friends, drinking pints out of plastic cups (which I oh so gracefully dropped in my lap and ended up spending a good hour looking like I’d pissed myself whilst it dried out, and my friends spent that hour cry laughing), and followed this up with lunch with my nearest and dearest the following day. As low-key birthday celebrations go, it was a good one, especially as I turned up to the restaurant for lunch to find that my sister had decorated the table, done party bags for all my friends and had got me a caterpillar cake. Absolute winner.

The last year has been pretty good. It’s been full of new friendships, adventures, change, challenges and very little fuckboy induced emotional turmoil so overall I’d say it’s been a winner.

The biggest change to my day to day life in the last 12 months has probably been changing jobs last summer. It’s crazy that I’ve been in my new role for nearly ten months now as it has been an absolute whirlwind. Having stepped up into a more senior role, it has been a steep learning curve but I’ve loved the challenge and the experience has been priceless. I’ve also made some incredible friends which I never expected to happen.

I’ve also been very lucky in the last year to have another close group of gals in my life. When I was put into a blogger WhatsApp group at the start of last year, I didn’t expect that a year on I’d speak daily to a group of women who now know me inside out. Honestly, anyone who knocks having ‘internet friends’ needs to try it as anyone will tell you that making new friends in your 20s is hard. Having a gal squad who are your absolute rocks that haven’t come out of school, university or work is priceless. This is a cross-country friendship and yet it says a lot that we can all still make the effort to meet up when we can. As well as being close to these gals, I’m still just as close to my gals from home (only been friends with them about 20 years now!) and my uni friends too.

The last year has definitely kicked me further out of my comfort zone too. I’ve done more solo exploring in different UK cities, including Liverpool, London and Edinburgh, been to a whole load of blogger events and even tried my luck at a First Dates casting. I also went to my first solo comedy show which I really enjoyed. I’ve definitely got the ‘just do it’ attitude nailed as I’ve become more of a ‘yes’ person over the last year and have rarely turned down an invitation or opportunity.

Overall, 25 was fun, but I want 26 to be better.

My only resolution in the next twelve months is to stop receiving unsolicited advice. That might sound like a weird resolution but stay with me on this.

I’m a fairly open book when it comes to my life but that means that it invites people to have an opinion and some of the time, opinions which are subjective get delivered as though they are gospel. And that’s frustrating. At 26, I don’t want to be instructed by my peers as opposed to advised. I think learning early on to recognise those who are prone to this and simply not giving them the opportunity is a positive step forward for the next 12 months and further.

This might seem like a small change but I’m hoping it will make a big difference! What do you think? Let me know in the comments.

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