Sunday, 23 September 2018

Dinner at Cabana

Cabana - Trinity Leeds
cabana trinity leeds

If you’re from Leeds or have visited recently, you’ll definitely be familiar with Trinity, the shopping centre which sits slap bang in the middle and has all the good shops, but what you might not know, is that it’s home to an absolute gem of a restaurant called Cabana. It’s a little further away from the other restaurants, towards Trinity Kitchen and the Boots end, but it has a whole other vibe compared to the other places to eat within the centre.

I’ve been to Cabana a few times in both Leeds and Manchester (there’s one in the Corn Exchange in Manchester), and I’ve never been disappointed by the food. I was invited down to review their menu and it’s definitely a firm favourite of mine – and it’s good for a Deliveroo too. The restaurant in Leeds is divided between a bar area where you can pop in for drinks and small plates and the main restaurant. Cabana is Brazilian and has a street food feel but in a restaurant setting which I love as it’s very relaxed – definitely the type of place to head to for a casual evening.

I went with my friend Maz and we went all in with three courses. I started with nachos, definitely over-estimating how hungry I was when a massive bowl came out (there was easily enough for 2-3 people as a starter) and Maz chose the grilled halloumi, which again, was a sizeable portion. Both the starters were incredible, and I loved that the nachos were topped with the most delicious fresh guacamole and salsa.

cabana trinity leeds

When it came to mains, we both went for flame grilled chicken. You can choose what type of meat you’d like, the type of sauce (guave-cue is the absolute best) and then a side so I went for blackbeans and Maz had sweet potato fries. Again, we were really impressed and the chicken was both tender and (dare I say it) moist. I love that there are some alternative sides like black beans as it’s something a little different  that you wouldn’t normally get in a restaurant.

cabana trinity leeds

cabana trinity leeds

For dessert, even though we were both incredibly full by this point, we couldn’t resist. I had the Nutella stuffed donuts and Maz had caramel churros. I was definitely overwhelmed when such a massive portion came out, especially with an accompanying pot of hot Nutella to dip in! I think I only managed about three, but I would 100% be back just for dessert.

cabana trinity leeds

The drinks in Cabana are also really cool – they’ve got the quirky twist that makes them work on the ‘gram but they don’t compromise on the quality or taste. I went for a fruity cocktail complete with jelly snakes called Jungle Fever and Maz went for another fruity drink served in a coconut.

Overall? Cabana is still a firm favourite of mine and somewhere I’d definitely head back for the food, drinks, atmosphere and service.


Sunday, 2 September 2018

Autumn vibes and taking a step back

Autumn vibes and taking a step back
queens court Leeds

How the hell is it September? I assume there will be a point in my life that I stop treating this month like it’s the start of the year but I can’t tell if I’m still clutching onto my student days or simply have an addiction to new stationery.

This time of year is my absolute favourite. It seems like the summer heatwave has dropped off the face of the Earth (thank God as being both plus size and pale af, summer is not when I’m at my peak) and we’re back to jumper but not quite winter coat weather. And I am LOVING it. I mean, is there anything better than sitting in your flat on an evening with your balcony doors open, a candle burning, wearing a hoody and watching ‘to all the boys I’ve loved before’ on Netflix? No, no there is not.

A change in seasons is definitely what I need right now as the last few months have been very busy, pretty damn stressful and in all honesty, not that cheery for me, and it’s taken me until now to pick up my metaphorical spade and dig myself out of this rut. Behind all the bright and happy Instagram posts has been a gal feeling like a dementor with PMT so y’know, don’t believe everything you see on social media. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some absolute LOLs over the summer, but it’s not exactly seen me at my best either.

But as there’s a new season kicking in, I wanted to put down a few goals for between now and Christmas, just to give me a more accountable kick up the arse.

1. Put myself first a bit more. This isn’t as selfish as it sounds, but sometimes it’s worth remembering that other people have their own agendas and priorities and you don’t have to align to them for the sake of people pleasing. #SorryNotSorry.
2. Remembering it’s OK to enjoy clothes even if you’re not keen on what’s underneath them. I know, mind blowing. It’s genuinely taken me until age 26 to realise that I don’t have to punish myself for not feeling super confident in my shape and size by wearing clothes which aren’t that nice. Here’s to A/W collections dropping which have sleeves instead of side boob.
3. Look after my body a little more. It’s been a summer fuelled by convenience food, meals out and a lot of booze, and my insides have taken a battering, so upping the veg and water, and reducing the tequila should do me some good.
4. Let things go. Sometimes, it’s just better to channel your inner Elsa and let it go. If someone doesn’t agree with you, does it make you a bad person? Probably not. I know this might come across defeatist but if it makes for an easier life to take the high road and not hold onto unnecessary negativity, I’m here for that.
5. Ask the universe more. Yep, I’m now one of those people. I’m a big believer in fate, karma, spirits, and being part of something bigger, and whilst I’m not expecting to look up at night and see a step by step guide to acing life written in the stars, telling the universe what you want really can help. Even if all it does is make you think about what you want on a deeper level, bring it into your conscious mind and make you more inclined to act on it, that’s only a positive, right?

Even just writing this post has felt a little like therapy but I’ll end it here as all I want to do is browse new in on ASOS and plan my little life overhaul. Over and out.


Sunday, 19 August 2018

Afternoon tea at Bertie’s, Elland

Afternoon tea at Bertie’s - Elland - Halifax
bertie's Elland afternoon tea

It’s no secret that I absolutely love afternoon tea and when I was invited to review Bertie’s in Elland, Halifax (about 25mins drive from Leeds), I timed it so that I could take my mum with me as my plus one as we drove back from a weekend away in Chester. We arrived in Halifax a little early so parked up near Eureka (the best kids museum ever) and went for a little explore of The Piece Hall which is full of independent shops before heading to Bertie’s for afternoon tea.

We arrived and were welcomed into the building which is an absolutely huge venue for formal occasions and though during the week, they offer afternoon tea and other food options, it did feel a little like a very luxurious sit down meal. Almost like we had a table for two at a wedding breakfast – and I absolutely loved it as it felt a bit more special.

The staff were very accommodating to our dietary requirements as neither of us eat fish and my mum is gluten free. However, those requirements didn’t mean a compromise on quality at all which I was really pleased about (it’s unusual to go somewhere and for the gluten free bread to be nice!).

All of the teas available are loose leaf and arrive in a glass teapot with a vintage china teacup and saucer. I opted for green tea and my mum went for breakfast tea and we enjoyed both – we drank at least a pot and a half of it each. The staff were more than happy for us to have more hot water or fresh pots of tea too.

bertie's Elland afternoon tea

Our afternoon teas arrived on separate stands with six finger sandwiches, a scone and four mini desserts each, which was a lot! We each had two ham and mustard, beef and red onion and egg mayonnaise finger sandwiches, all of which we both very much enjoyed. Our scones were fruit and came with butter, raspberry jam and clotted cream. I ran an Instagram poll whilst I was there to see where my followers stand on whether jam or cream goes on first and out of my voters, it was a 50/50 split so apparently there’s no right answer!

bertie's Elland afternoon tea

bertie's Elland afternoon tea

bertie's Elland afternoon tea

The desserts were delicious too. Mine were lemon posset served in a jar with a raspberry on top, a red velvet cake, bakewell tart and banoffee pie. I managed to eat the lemon posset and then after that could only manage half of the cakes! My favourite was definitely the bakewell tart which was absolutely delicious. Mum’s gluten free desserts were the lemon posset, a chocolate brownie, pecan pie and Victoria sponge. I must admit, I was a little bit jealous of her brownie!

We were very impressed by our afternoon teas at Bertie’s and it’s definitely worth the trip to Elland for it as it’s an absolute hidden gem. We couldn’t fault the service, the setting or the food and would very much recommend it. We got to have a peek at the ballroom upstairs too and it would be the most incredible event space with a stage and crystal chandeliers. We left feeling absolutely stuffed and like it had been a really lovely treat so we’re keen to go back for an occasion.

Have you ever been to Bertie’s in Elland? If not, you definitely should.


Sunday, 12 August 2018

My experience with a psychic

Leeds psychic and spiritual centre
living room

Well, this is certainly a tangent from my usual post subjects isn’t it?

I’m the first to admit that I’m not a spontaneous kinda gal, it’s just not my bag. I like sticking to plans, having a schedule and I’m only a few steps away from having a Gantt chart of my social life (LOL I wish this was an exaggeration but it’s not), but a few weeks ago I took myself off to a psychic evening with 15 minutes notice and I surprised myself. 

Disclaimer: apologies for the irrelevant photo on this post, I didn't want to take a photo for the 'gram whilst I was in the session.

I’ve always been curious about spirits, the future (though obviously not straying into Ouija board territory as I’m not getting into that shit) and the universe and I’ve wanted to do something like this for a while. In fact, ever since I went to a group reading when I was at university, I’ve wanted to see a psychic or medium again so when I saw that my local spiritual centre ran psychic evenings every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I thought, why not.

I didn’t have a clue what to expect as I couldn’t find much information online but I got there, paid my £12 and was told to go into a room and choose nine tarot cards, each from a different deck. In the room, there were around 15 other people and over the course of the evening, one woman was in the room doing a group reading (Chrissy) and one by one, each person went out to another room for a short five minute reading with a second woman, Diane.

Whilst in the main room, Chrissy, took the chosen cards from each person and without going into a lot of detail, discussed the spirits which were there for that person, told them about things which were going on in their lives, numbers and dates which would be relevant to them and so on. As I’m a bit sceptical, I looked for things which were down to interpretation from leading questions but there’s no denying that some things were a little to specific to be a lucky guess. For example, one guy who was in there had lost his dad 6 months previously and she referred to him by name.

I should say now that at no point was anyone asked their name. Everyone who was there for the first time went in as strangers and several times, Chrissy asked a person who someone was as it was the person they had come with. Needless to say, my curiosity was peaked.

I had my private reading first with Diane and the moment I sat down she asked me who John was – which is my Dad’s name. Without going into details, she told me about how I need to speak to the universe more about what I want but before I do so, I need to write it down and work it out myself. She also made some very correct assumptions about how I was feeling about myself, about work and about my family. I’ll admit, I was very, very emotional, as I always am when I talk about my dad, but I found the reading comforting if nothing else.

Back in the main room, I had my group reading and by this point, it was only in front of a few people (most people left after they had had both their group and private reading). Here, Chrissy said very similar things to Diane about how I need to speak to the universe more. Given I had walked in just before it started and knew they couldn’t have had any cross-conversations, it did make me believe more.

I’m really glad I went to the session as for £12, it was very interesting and regardless of whether or not you believe in spirits, it’s comforting and sometimes you need a stranger to tell you that you need to sort your shit out and work out what you want (though not in as many words!). It’s a bit of a weird situation as you’re not there to be counselled but nor are these people your friends, but they’re still offering advice, though objectively. If you’re curious about spirits, I’d really recommend going to one of the psychic evenings at Leeds Psychic Centre as it’s very cheap and you’re not committing to anything.


Thursday, 9 August 2018

A half year round up

A half year round up

Yes, I know, we’re into August but it’s not too late to have a check in on my resolutions for 2018 is it? I hope not. Every year I use my blog as a place to put my goals for the year out there as it makes me a bit more accountable when it comes to actually achieving them and I like to use the midpoint of the year to ensure I’m on track (even if I am a bit late this time).

Here’s what I planned to do and where I’m at with it.

Do more fun stuff
This is my reoccurring resolution as I like to put it out there that I want to do fun, planned stuff that I’ll really look forward to. So far this year, I’ve seen more of my blogger gals, been to a lot of events, went to London for a Nandos, been ‘out’ out a lot, gone to two gigs and attended my first festival. With all the fun stuff that’s gone in between that, especially when it’s meant catching up with friends and family, I’d say that I’m very much on track with this one.

Improve my living space
As I got some new prints for my flat for Christmas, there’s definitely an improvement going on in my flat as I’ve started to put a bit more time into making my little home more ‘me’. That said, there’s still a bit of a way to go before it looks exactly how I want it to. I’m really enjoying this process though, even the little things like buying myself a bunch of flowers does make a difference.

Own my style
I’m definitely at my most insecure when it comes to my body but I’m starting to come round to the idea that I can still like the clothes I wear even when I’m not feeling it. I’ve definitely stopped trying to defend my style as I know I’m not the classiest or the most feminine of people in the way that I dress but I’m accepting that a bit more. I’ve actually started shopping for clothes that are a bit out my comfort zone (2018 has seen me wearing yellow!) and I’ve started picking things up because I like them the best not because they make me look slimmer than I am. I know, what a ground breaking concept, not dressing to look smaller.

Learn more professionally
So far, so good! The last few months has seen me going to London to Facebook’s first UK agency day and also their Blueprint Live training. I’ve done my first client pitches which was a kick out of my comfort zone and even spoke at a Leeds Loves Digital event. I’m really enjoying the learning curve at the moment as whilst it’s still steep, it’s all great experience under my belt and it’s making me more passionate about social media than ever before.

Going by my resolutions, 2018 isn’t shaping up to be a bad year and whilst there have definitely been some rocky patches, I’m looking forward to the challenges and experiences that the rest of the year brings. How are your resolutions going so far? Let me know in the comments.


Monday, 6 August 2018

A weird beauty experience

northern bloc sorbet

As I had a day off this week, I thought you know what, I’m going to book in a massage and a facial as yo to the freaking low it’s just been payday. I wanted to avoid going into Leeds city centre as it’s the school hellidays holidays so I decided to go for somewhere new in north Leeds. As the address said Alwoodley, I thought it must be pretty nice so I popped my payment details into Treatwell (if you’re not familiar, this is an online booking service for beauty treatments), the address into Google maps and off I went. 20 minutes later, I’m in a residential area and realised pretty quickly that my treatment will be taking place in someone’s house. Nice one Lizi.

Still, I did think that though it’s a bit weird, that working from home isn’t uncommon and I was sure it would be OK. Well, it was an experience. The treatment room wasn’t exactly a calming environment as it was quite frankly, full of junk (even by my standards) but given I would have my eyes firmly shut for the treatment, I decided not to think too much of it. I’d booked a massage and facial which was half an hour of each and started with the back massage.

The massage itself was good – it was firm and worked knots out of my back that I didn’t even know where there. It did get a little odd when the therapist pushed down on pressure points from my feet, up my legs and right up my back as this included my ass. Not quite what I was expecting but I was going with it. I turned over and then it was time for the facial. I was asked to put on a plastic shower cap (the type you get in a hotel bathroom) so that the products didn’t get in my hair, so for a lot of the time, I could just hear rustling. As it happened, my treatment included a scalp massage so I left with products in my hair regardless.

I’m really not sure what products she used or what they did but there were three occasions where she left the room entirely without saying anything, the first two times were for a few minutes, but the last time was for at least 10 minutes. Is that weird? It got to the point where I was starting to wonder how long I needed to leave it before going to investigate whether or not she’d died. Luckily, she returned.

Another thing which I thought was a bit weird for a relaxing experience was when she put a ring light over my face (though I had cotton pads over my eyes, I thought if I opened them I might get blinded) and she went on to squeeze a spot that’s just next to my eyebrow. I don’t think that’s quite what I signed up for but I went with it, mainly as it was too late by this point to object. Whilst I’m all in favour of squeezing spots as I’m the kind of gross person who thinks it’s satisfying, I’m pretty sure the professional line is to leave them be, right?

Just when I started to think the experience couldn’t get any weirder, whilst I had one of the multiple facemasks on, she did a shoulder, neck and chest massage. Now, I don’t want to sound incredibly prudish but I’ve had a few treatments like this in the past and this was the first time that a therapist has massaged between my boobs, going as far down as just below the sternum. Without warning. I’m not a mega touchy feely or body confident kinda gal and I must admit, this was a fair bit out of my comfort zone, especially as it was a fairly firm massage. The rest of the massage bit was fine but it did make me tense up a little every time her hands were below my collarbones as I wasn’t sure if my towel was going to slip any lower!

By the time the end of the treatment came around, I was pretty keen to get out of there and whilst I can’t fault the massage or how my skin feels, I feel like I left with a weird story to tell rather than feeling all zen.

Have you had an experience like this before? Do you think I’m overreacting when I say that spot squeezing is a little too far? Let me know in the comments.


Saturday, 4 August 2018

My first festival

Carfest North 2018
carfest north 2018

Anyone who knows me in person could tell you that I’m not an outdoorsy person, but this summer, I had my first festival experience. And let me tell you, whilst it was fun, my limit is definitely the decidedly middle class Carfest North (aka the charity festival that Chris Evans puts on for Children in Need) and Leeds fest is 100% out of my remit. My mum got day tickets for me, her and my sister for Christmas and having never been to a festival before, I had zero clue what to expect.

After the extreme summer 2018 heatwave, I headed on over to Chester with jeans, tshirts and trainers and it was the night before which saw me raiding the nearest H&M for an emergency sweatshirt and trying on my sister’s spare anorak. This anorak in particular was from when she volunteered at the Manchester Marathon and had ‘marshall’ written across the back. Excellent, well done me.

When we arrived, it was drizzling and though we got there at around 11am, we managed to park pretty close to the entrance – it was very organised in terms of getting people in so there was very little queuing. As festivals go, it isn’t massive but there’s plenty going on throughout the day. Our first stop was the world record attempt at the main stage for the most people stood in the formation of the Scouting logo – the link here is that Chris Evans is an ambassador for Scouts. I’ll happily admit that I only got involved as ‘world record holder’ looks great on my Tinder bio and the purple ponchos we had to wear for the occasion came in handy throughout the day.

As we missed the heatwave, at least it meant that when there were showers during the daytime, we could run for cover – the festival put up extra tents originally so that people could find shade, whereas actually we ended up under there to avoid the rain. As it was cooler, being able to sit outdoors in a breeze but not be a sweaty mess was really nice. We actually found that the vintage cafe, which was in a marquee, was the best place to just relax as it was very reasonably priced (£15 for a pot of tea for two, an Americano and two massive slices of cake, one of which was gluten free). It was outside the vintage cafe that we spotted Chris Evans and my mum was absolutely over the moon to get a photo with him. We ended up back there a second time later in the day too, plus it was a lovely area to wander around the vintage stalls.

carfest north 2018

During the day, there are loads of activities and things to watch including a swing dance class where my mum and I learned the Charleston, a massive parade through the show ground and even a motorcross stunt show. A personal highlight for me was during the parade when the ‘unicorn’ (AKA a white horse with a sparkly cone stuck to it’s forehead) had a shit halfway round. Absolutely magical. The motorcross stunt show was incredible, with the riders doing loads of tricks whilst flying through the air. There’s plenty of other stuff going on too, including a carnival with loads of rides, flower crown making, cactus decorating, sheep racing and some driving experiences.

carfest north 2018

When it comes to food, there was street food in every single area though my sister struggled to find anything remotely healthy as she’s both gluten free and on Slimming World. I however had a gyros from Eat Like a Greek who I’ve seen before in Trinity Kitchen and that was delicious. Other than a gyros and cake, I didn’t end up eating much else but there was pretty much every cuisine going.

The portaloo situation was also pretty good considering it was day three - the story of poo girl from Leeds Fest 2010 had filled me with horror and dread. Even at the end of the day, they were about as clean as they could be, with stewards there ready and waiting with loo roll refills.

As the daytime activities drew to a close, we headed over to the main stage for the music which started around 5pm (though there was a swing band and smaller artists on other stages throughout the day). We managed to get sat towards the back which was fine by us as any closer and we’d have had to have stood which we didn’t really fancy with five hours of music ahead of us. And it was closer to both the bar and the toilets. Pint of cider in hand, we watch Billy Ocean, The Feeling and about half a set from Texas before the heavens truly opened. It was at this point where we relented and left before the Carfest Supergroup and Madness – it was a shame to miss those acts but it was absolutely pouring with rain and we were soaking wet through so made a run for the car.

carfest north 2018

carfest north 2018

carfest north 2018

Overall, it was a fun day and definitely something different. The things we planned in to see and do like the parade and swing dance class were really fun and if I was to go back, I’d aim to see more of the motorcross stunt shows and the general driving on the track. If you’re a massive petrolhead, into vintage or have a family, it’s definitely a great day out and even for someone who isn’t, it was still a fun experience. Would I go again? I think it would depend on the acts who were playing, but I wouldn’t say no – for around £80 a ticket, it’s not a cheap day out but if you’re a fan of at least two of the main acts, I’d say it’s worth it.   

Have you ever been to Carfest North? Would you go? Let me know in the comments.


Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Blogger gals and the best weekend

Cuckoo Leeds Review
Cuckoo Leeds

I love having things in the diary for absolutely ages as when I have something to look forward to, it really gives me a focus. It’s almost like having mini milestone rewards for surviving life. A few weeks ago, I had some of my blogger gal pals up in Leeds for the weekend and it was definitely one of those plans that I looked forward to for ages and it didn’t disappoint at all.

liquor labs trinity kitchen leeds

As it was the World Cup quarter final weekend that Haydy and Hayley were up north, naturally we had to find a great spot to watch the match so we headed straight to Trinity Kitchen – mainly as they were giving out a bottle of beer to everyone every time England scored so we had a couple on them as well as a whole load of cocktails. The atmosphere was really fun and laid back, but after the match we headed down Call Lane to my favourite bar, Cuckoo.

I’ve been to Cuckoo quite a few times as it’s becoming one of those places we go to after work a lot, but because they have really eclectic interiors, lush cocktails and a pizza oven, I couldn’t not take the girls there. We met up with Kellie and Rachel and then the five of us went to drink all the cocktails.

cuckoo leeds

cuckoo leeds

cuckoo leeds

The team at Cuckoo very kindly gave us a bottle of prosecco and some free drinks which was perfect as we could really celebrate Haydy’s new job. We all ordered pizzas too as 5-9pm every day, you can get a free 6 inch pizza with a drink, so I went for the Nacho Lucky Day which is a tomato base, cheese, crumbled nachos and topped with guacamole. FYI guac on pizza is the most underrated thing in the world. And I actually ended up having two of the nacho pizzas as I stayed in there pretty late to watch the second world cup match.

As a bar, it has a very chilled, laid back vibe but something we noticed was the music was absolutely on point. There was a lot of noughties indie rock playing which we were absolutely on board with before it changed to RnB later on in the evening. I can easily spend hours in there as the music and atmosphere are both right up my street. And y’know, I love pizza.

Being the classic bloggers that we are, we all piled into the photo booth at Cuckoo (£3 for four photos in one print and you can pay by card which is very handy) to get some gals photos before we left. I love having physical print outs to keep and having four of my favourite gals in the same city is pretty rare at times.

As the night got a bit later, I ended up staying out with some work friends who I’d bumped into and from then on it got pretty messy, as all the best nights do!

The next day, we headed to Malmaison for Sunday lunch (God knows I needed that) and then to the cat cafe for a couple of hours. I must admit, I’m not a mega cat fan but by the end of it, I was absolutely won over by the four legged cuties they have in there.

cat cafe leeds

As weekends go, it was absolutely bangin’ and I can’t wait for a repeat of it sometime soon. Thank you to Cuckoo too for giving us a booth, free drinks and free pizza for the night too, we had the best time.

What do you plan when you see your long distance pals? Are you all in on a night out or do you prefer to just catch up somewhere more chilled? Let me know in the comments.


Monday, 16 July 2018

Summer road-tripping and keeping your car happy

Photo credit: Pixabay

Well, this heatwave is getting a little excessive isn’t it?! I’ve honestly never known such consistently hot weather and I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t emotionally prepared for this weather. In between complaining that I’m too hot and trying to sleep through the noise of the cheap desk fan I panic bought from Argos, I’ve actually tried to embrace the weather a little by making some summer plans.

A few months ago, I brought my precious Polly (aka my Hyundai i10) over to Leeds and I must admit, having my car over here gives me a new found freedom. I mean, for the first time in nearly 4 years, I’ve been able to go to a supermarket for a weekly shop – I know how to live life on the edge. I’m quite lucky in that I have a space in the carpark underneath my building as whilst I pay over the odds for it, I don’t run the risk of her getting her windows smashed (which happened the last time I parked her out on the street here, still fuming).

Car maintenance is just as important in summer as it is through the winter as nobody wants to end up cutting a roadtrip short by ending up stuck on the hard shoulder with a car that has overheated so here are my tips to keeping your car in tip top condition.

Check your fluid levels
It’s not just important to keep you hydrated but your car needs it too. Check your oil, transmission fluid, break fluid and power steering fluid periodically to make sure they’re all topped up to where they need to be so that your car doesn’t overheat.

Keep your car hot-weather friendly
If your car has air con, use it! Take cold drinks with you for long trips and switch your coffee for an iced latte so that you’ve got some caffeine in you to keep you perked up for long journeys. Hot weather can easily make you sleepy which is really dangerous, especially if you’re driving a long distance.

Make sure your tyres are summer ready
Once the temperature is regularly over 10 degrees, you can switch back to summer tyres which will perform better on both wet and dry roads. In hot weather tyres will lose twice as much pressure than when it’s cold and deflated tyres work harder, get hotter and therefore are more likely to experience a blow out. By checking your tyre pressure, you can reduce the risk of a costly repair.

As this heatwave is showing no signs of relenting, pick up your summer car tyres at Jet Wheel Tyres and they'll be able to sort you out.

*This post was sponsored by Jet Wheel Tyres but all thoughts, opinions and road trip plans are my own.


Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Brunching with Gusto

Brunching with gusto
Gusto York brunch

The brunch market is pretty extensive right now as let’s be honest, going for brunch is way better than going out for dinner, but Gusto has just levelled up the pre-lunch dining offering in York. Most people don’t know that Gusto have a brunch menu and it’s an absolute hidden gem, in particular in such a beautiful city in a restaurant just a stone’s throw from the Minster. I was invited down to review their menu and I took my mum along with me.

Gusto York brunch

The menu covers off all of your brunch basics but I decided to go for pancakes as wanted to go for something different – usually I’m a savoury gal at breakfast time. The dish included three pancakes with Greek yoghurt and fresh berries and was absolutely delicious. I’m absolutely rubbish at making pancakes myself (mainly as my last attempt included trying to cook them in a wok...) so having them when I’m out feels like a treat – clearly I’m fairly easy to please!

Gusto York brunch

Mum went for a full English and I must admit, the food envy kicked in a little as it looked so good! My mum has to have a gluten free diet (though she isn’t celiac) and the staff were really good about ensuring that her requirements were catered for. They have a tablet which shows the breakdown of all dietary requirements across the whole menu and this information is available online which is ideal if you’re dining out with a big group or with someone with a specific allergy.

Gusto York brunch

Gusto York brunch

When it comes to drinks, there’s an extensive menu of teas, coffees, smoothies and juices but what I love is that they have Taylors tea on the menu. They’re Harrogate based so fairly local to me and I absolutely love all of their flavoured teas so they’re a perfect accompaniment to breakfast.

Gusto York brunch

Overall? I was definitely impressed by brunch at Gusto and I’d be keen to go back as the prices are very reasonable for a city centre and the setting is absolutely gorgeous. Also, unrelated but the reed diffusers in the toilets of the York branch smell absolutely incredible and that really did add to the experience. (No joke, they're that good).

Are you a brunch fan? Do you fancy a brunch date? Let me know in the comments.


Sunday, 1 July 2018

Wagamama - White Rose

Wagamama White Rose Leeds
I’m already a big fan of Wagamama so I’m sure you can imagine how happy I was to be invited to visit their restaurant at the White Rose Centre in Leeds to review it. I must admit, it’s one of my favourite Wagamama restaurants as the branch sits a little separately from the centre, meaning you don’t feel like you’re eating in the middle of a load of shoppers but at the same time, you can easily hit the shops after work then head for a bite to eat afterwards.

I headed there with Maz for a girly night with plenty of food and naturally we spent about a week planning what we were going to have to eat. Wagamama has a few new additions to their summer menu including a couple of glass noodle salads and even a vegan katsu curry which I’m sure is a gift from the heavens for every vegan out there!

We both decided to stick with what we knew and went for our favourites on the menu. Maz had fried duck gyozas and I went for pulled pork gyozas to start, both of which were incredible. I do quite like that the food in Wagamama just comes out when it’s ready as it makes it feel a bit more relaxed and informal. It meant that we didn’t feel restricted or that we had to leave once dinner was over too - you know when you just need a night of just catching up and properly unwinding? It was one of those nights.

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

For mains, I went for grilled duck domburi which is tender, shredded duck in a spicy teriyaki sauce, mixed with carrots, mangetout, sweet potato and red onion on a bed of sticky white rice and topped with a crispy fried egg, cucumber and spring onions. It’s my absolute favourite on the menu and though it is very filling with the sticky rice, it’s so full of flavour. Maz chose the teriyaki soba with steak which is soba noodles cooked in curry oil with mangetout, bok choi, red and spring onions, chilli and beansprouts in a teriyaki sauce.

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

We were both impressed, as always, with the mains but of course made room for dessert as why the hell not? Maz got the white chocolate and ginger cheesecake whereas I went for the chocolate layer cake and a pot of flowering jasmine tea. The desserts were delicious but I’m really glad I finished the night with a tea as I can never resist flowering tea when I see it on a menu.

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

Wagamama White Rose Leeds

Overall, we were really impressed by Wagamama at the White Rose, the food was delicious and it was just one of those really lovely evenings that we all need more of.

Have you been to Wagamama recently? Will you be going soon? Let me know in the comments.


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 béchamel, 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!


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!

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).

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

  • 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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