Year: 2014


Here we are in that rather strange time period – between Christmas and New Year. ‘Twixtmas’ The period between Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve presents an opportunity to do something different. It gives the chance to take stock, do things we don’t normally get time to do. As this is a time to reflect on the year soon to be behind us all, I have lots of high spots and some lows to remember. The highs – I thought I’d pinch some images from the last 12 months, together with a few words of wisdom,  and ‘voila’!  

Birthday at Bettys

There can be no better place to celebrate a 30th birthday than having afternoon tea with friends and family at Bettys in the centre of York. From the outside, Bettys is simply gorgeous. It’s grand, traditional and looks absolutely magical – and there’s always a huge queue of people outside to prove it. Today we were situated in the Belmont Room, Bettys upstairs tea room, reserved exclusively for their finest afternoon tea. There’s even a side entrance, solely for this room, just to make you feel extra special – like celebs of Afternoon Tea. The Belmont Room transports you back to an age of tradition and sophistication with gorgeous wooden panelled walls, huge beautiful windows and perfect white tablecloths and napkins. Setting the scene even more was a delightful pianist! Everything is very light and airy with honey coloured finishes and woven furniture – lovely. Getting ourselves off to a good start, we began with a glass of champagne each (or Luscombe Elderflower Bubbly for some) which went down very nicely, followed by a huge …

Let’s do lunch…Smoke Barbecue

When looking for lunch in Sheffield city centre on the Monday before Christmas, the smell of BBQ curled through St Paul’s Place near the Winter Garden and enticed us to Smoke Barbecue. Smoke is Sheffield’s first Texas-style BBQ, where the meat is rubbed with spices, smoked slowly on the premises in shiny metal smokers then finished off in the pit, a hickory wood-fired barbecue which takes pride of place in the kitchen. The cavern look is industrial with concrete floors, brick walls, exposed metal ducting, tables from pallets and barrels, school chairs and planks dangling from the ceiling, each with a strip light attached. Smoke came about when co-founder Sean Gregory saw an item about Texan BBQs on telly and liked the idea so much he went to the Lone Star State to research bringing one over here. For a carnivore, the menu makes your lips smack, with burgers, brisket, pulled pork, barbecued chicken, pork and beef ribs, turkey legs, hot link sausages but, oddly, no steaks or chops. So today we did lunch – …

Christmas Gifts

We are on the home straight with regard to gifts. If you have some last minute shopping, and still stuck for ideas I have selected a few Christmas writings from my favourite blog writers. They have some brilliant suggestions for gifts to put under the tree. Rock my style Don’t panic there’s still time to order on line – a list of last ordering dates for Christmas delivery from a selection of shops that have you covered for food, gifts and clothes. Hip & Healthy The best healthy, indulgent and life-enhancing gifts for family and friends. Vicki Archer All things French and lingerie, the perfect holiday gift. Lovely feminine gift ideas And chic gifts for the men in our lives  

Split Second

I always liken finding the right hairdresser to finding the right boyfriend – it can take a lot of wrong ones to find the perfect match. So I was really pleased to find a perfect award winning hair and beauty salon tucked away on the main street in the village of Sherburn-in-Elmet, in North Yorkshire. Split Second is headed up by Julia Westlake and her team. I’d grown bored with my DIY blonde hair, grown out layers and generally needed to change it up a little. After a consultation with my stylist Kirsty to discuss what I wanted to achieve with my hair, a cup of tea was delivered. Kirsty suggested adding some blonde just through the top of my hair and around my face. So after foils were applied I settled down to make a start on this months book club read, The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas. Thirty minutes later Kirsty did a neat cut to frame my face, and some serious good fringe reshaping. Finally I got to see the completed look …

Yorkshire Cheese

When it comes to a long history of cheese-making, Yorkshire certainly has one: following the Norman invasion in 1066, many French Cistercian monks came over to set up the huge monastic estates which have dominated the Yorkshire dales for centuries (famous abbeys such as Jervaulx, Fountains and Bolton).  The monks also brought cheese making techniques, which they put to good use making firm, crumbly cheeses throughout the dales: Nidderdale, Wensleydale, Teesdale, Swaledale and Coverdale, each similar to the others.  These Yorkshire cheeses were often made from sheep’s milk, firm and loose textured with a moistness and rich blue marbling, tasting, apparently, “finer than Stilton”. After the dissolution of the monasteries, cheese making continued in Yorkshire, with production moving to the farms as recipes were passed on to farmers’ wives.  With time these cheeses began to change, farmers started to farm cows, and advances in cheese-making, coupled with a desire to make consistent, recognisable cheeses, meant the dales cheeses became firmer, drier and sharper – like the crumbly, white Wensleydale we know today. This move towards …

Friday Photo

My ‘Friday Photo’ is Runswick Bay. This is my best kept secret – I only discovered this gem on the North Yorkshire coast this year, and looking forward to going back soon. With its sweeping, sheltered bay and charming red roofed cottages, Runswick Bay is one of the Yorkshire coast’s prettiest destinations. The sandy beach, which once provided anchorage for brightly coloured fishing boats, is now a family favourite for rock pooling, fossil hunting and coastal walks, where you can admire the breathtaking sea views.

Natural Home Scents

The temperatures are going to drop this week, so it’s time to get cosy at home! Here’s a great way to make your whole house smell amazing. First combine ingredients, like citrus and basil (fresh and clean)… All you have to do is cover the ingredients with water and simmer on the stove—and voila! Your entire home will smell incredible. Great way to spend a cold day indoors. Or vanilla and cinnamon?? An idea for a festive Christmas atmosphere – I use an orange with cloves studded in it. Like this the whole house smells amazing and festive. I keep it on a plate by a window. It’s partly why I love to bake so much in the cooler months. Fresh baked bread is the best smell but I made a shortcrust pastry quiche today – smoked ham, ricotta cheese and spinach. That smells wonderful too, just in time for Sunday tea!

A British Shorthair Cat

Sunshine is my new best friend, with green eyes and blue golden shaded in colour, and a British Shorthair cat. Here are some interesting facts about this delightful breed. The British Shorthair cat is medium to large in size, well balanced and powerful, showing good depth of body, a full broad chest, strong short legs, rounded paws, tail thick at the base with a rounded tip. The head is round with good width between small ears, round cheeks, firm chin, large round, well opened eyes and a short broad nose. The coat is short and dense. British Shorthairs are placid, non-demanding, tolerant, docile and respectful. They are not vocal cats and in fact are very quiet and can cope with being alone without fretting. They are not inclined to wander, love children and get along with dogs extremely well. British Shorthairs are the ideal choice as a house cat. The average life span of these cats is 15-18 years, although many live past that age. They can be bred in over 30 different colours. Despite …