Month: March 2015

Lottie Shaw’s Easter Treats

Easter this week and I was delighted to have the opportunity to review a delicious Easter gift bag of authentic hand baked treats from Lottie Shaw’s, a family company based in this fantastic food county of Yorkshire. This small craft bakery is tucked away in the back of Elland, West Yorkshire. Lottie Shaw’s family have baked seriously good biscuits and cakes in Yorkshire for over 100 years and their recipes passed down through the generations. The range of yummy products are now packaged in sustainable artisan packaging with raffia and luggage ticket labels and mine arrived in this useful jute bag. So with a large pot of tea to hand, I started sampling! And a perfect start was the Parkin. You know if a product has won the Best Bakery Product 2013/2014 and Supreme Product in the Deliciously Yorkshire Award then you are in for a treat really don’t you. The taste of treacle was lovely and it had a nice stickiness to it, really soft, had that homemade taste, and was really easy to …

A Stitch A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Knit one. Purl one. Knit one. Purl one. Knit one. Purl one. The rhythmic and repetitive nature of knitting is calming, comforting and contemplative. Some have called knitting “the new yoga.” Deciding I needed some therapy, I have given knitting a try and made a super sweater as you will see below. I also discovered a few of the many benefits of knitting. Next time you’re feeling low, grab your needles for some instant happiness. Men as well!! While male knitters are still in a minority, retailers report the gender gap is closing. John Lewis has seen a “massive increase” in men shopping for wool in Sheffield, where men outnumbered women at a recent knitting event. It’s not really surprising that men are knitting, as sailors used to knit, and men and women knitted garments for soldiers during the Second World War. Knitting helps relieves stress When you are focused on knitting, and counting stitches your mind can’t squeeze in those everyday problems, and that brings a feeling of calm which can reduce blood pressure. …

The Black Swan, Oldstead

I had a very dear partner in crime accompanying me for Sunday lunch on the second stage of my Yorkshire Michelin Star journey, we both love our food and are generally on the same wavelength when it comes to maximising the experience. The Black Swan at Oldstead, twenty miles north of York, is neat and pretty, and in such a stunning Yorkshire setting nestled between The White Horse at Kilburn and Byland Abbey, in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park. The Banks family have lived and farmed at Oldstead for generations and have quietly worked away running their 16th-century inn for about seven years. Michelin says of chef/owner, Tommy Banks, who is believed to be Britain’s youngest Michelin Star Chef, ‘cooking is modern and highly skilled but satisfyingly unpretentious”. So, what did we discover on this journey?? There was a reminder on the front door to leave our muddy boots outside, (I hasten to add that we did not hike up here this time) and inside our welcome was immediately warm and inviting. The downstairs …

Mother’s Day at Raithwaite Hall

The recent Mother’s Day weekend was a brilliant excuse to have a family gathering at a gorgeous hotel. Raithwaite Hall near Whitby ticked all our boxes, plus many, many more. It’s not really what you expect of quaint little Sandsend, on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, a glamorous 45 bedroom hotel, a host of luxury self-catering cottages, a swimming pool and spa, but hidden up a wooded drive off the Whitby Road, Raithwaite Hall, a 19th century, former ship-owners mansion provided us this and more. Raithwaite Hall offers five star service right from the moment you arrive, from the friendly welcome at reception to the warm yet not imposing manner in which you’re shown to your room. Our room in the main hall overlooked the gardens, was large and spacious with huge comfortable beds and a modern classy bathroom complete with Aromatherapy Associates products. It was a very quiet and cosy environment to spend time in. Our package included dinner in the main restaurant. Pre-dinner cocktails were served in the cosy bar. …

March in the Garden

The days are getting ever so slightly longer and the birds are beginning to sing. The gardening New Year starts in March and with perfect growing conditions I can almost hear the garden zipping along! In My Garden My own little courtyard is beginning to have some colour and I have ventured outside to get the garden ship shape. Number one was to get some manure spread over the raised borders of clay soil which are still sodden with winter rain, and hopefully that will encourage the worms!! My pots are starting to come to life with the daffodils I planted several years ago. I’ll move the terracotta planters away from the window to make the view more interesting. Lots of bulbs are bursting through so I’m hoping for tulips before the month is out. I’m also going to nip to my local garden centre to buy a few more bulbs. Anemones are one of my favourite flowers and I read that some varieties can be planted in spring for a summer show. I have …

Curzon Sheffield – A Cinema That Was A Bank

I saw the film ‘The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ a few years ago at a very poignant period in my life and then it provided a couple of hours of uplifting fun. So, I was keen to see how the follow-up movie, ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ would make me feel. As I am always keen to look for new adventures, we decided to have a family night out at the new Curzon cinema in Sheffield. This brand new three-screen venue opened its doors to the public in early January. It is located in a Grade 11 listed building on George Street, the former site of the Sheffield Banking Company. The Curzon Sheffield is the entertainment group’s latest cinema. What a delight! The old bank has been refurbished in a sympathetic way to preserve its character and highlight some of the original features, including the high ceilings, ornamental entrance and lobby, sash windows with original openers, and is now complemented by colourful furniture, contemporary lighting plus a small cosy lounge area.   There is …