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Deer Park restaurant, Leeds

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After several colleagues went, and raved, about Deer Park in Roundhay, Leeds, I decided this was the place to take Howard for his birthday dinner as a treat.

It was a lot bigger than I anticipated, but I was impressed by how cosy they had made it feel – not something many large restaurants are able to achieve.

I had received a voucher for free champagne for four or more people, but after speaking to a lovely waiter he told me not to worry and that although there was only two of us, a bottle would be on ice waiting for us when we arrived, and it was.

The menu was varied and it was quite tricky to choose what to go for. In the end I opted for tamarind lamb ribs with watermelon and duck salad for a main (as recommended by my lovely colleague).

Howard went for scallops of the day as a starter, followed by venison with beetroot and sweet potato.

Before the starters arrived we also treated ourselves to some very juicy green olives (can never resist olives on the menu!).

Both starters were amazing, with both of us thinking their own was the best which is always a good sign! There was a lot of meat on the ribs so three was more than enough and they were SO GOOD. I would 100% recommend them. Howard received three very juicy, large scallops on a bed of lightly dressed pasta – it did make a lovely combo, although not one I would of thought of as a starter.

Deer Park

The mains were also extremely yummy. The duck salad was very oriental tasting, the duck crispy and sweet, with spring onion and long strips of melon to accompany it, making it very fresh and easy to eat.

Howard’s venison was very rich in comparison but he still ate every mouthful and really enjoyed it.

Deer Park

By this point we had also ordered a bottle of Malbec which was smooth and a bit too easy to drink, especially as we had already had champagne and it was a school night!

Finally, we couldn’t decide which desert to go for so opted for the sharing board. This was a great choice and excellent value for money for £9.95 – you can see for yourself just how much you get! The cookie and ice-cream and the treacle tart were my joint favourites, but it was all delicious!

Sharing desert

We had a £10 off voucher and the whole meal came to £77 – which to be honest we thought was very reasonable because the quality (and quantity) of food had been so good. The staff were also really lovely too, our waitress was very attentive and made the experience even more enjoyable.

Thank you Deer Park, we will definitely be back!

DeerParkLeeds.co.uk 

*Since visiting, for my Sheffield friends, I have been told that the Prince of Wales on Ecclesall Road is owned by the same company, and has the same menu, although my trust worthy source says it’s not as good

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Derwent reservoir
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Teesdale, North Yorkshire

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Happy New Year!

I realise I am extremely late in writing this post, but I guess my New Year’s resolution to be more organised and blog more hasn’t gone completely to plan, but it’s never too late to start right?

Christmas was lovely, a much needed break. The first half of it was spent in a beautiful rented cottage in Totley, Sheffield where I grew up, with my family.

On the 29th, after all the hectic rush of Christmas, my boyfriend and I picked up my little dog Dee and headed up to Teesdale, North Yorkshire.

We booked through Sykes Cottages and stayed for 5 nights in Hawthorn Cottage which was located in the little village of Caldwell, between Richmond and Barnard Castle. It cost us £330 which for New Year we thought was very reasonable. Normally for off peak season the prices are less – from £241 for a week. 

The cottage itself was 3 star, we have stayed in more luxurious ones but actually this was perfect for what we needed it for. It was clean, there were lots of kitchen utensils, a cosy fire, a nice clean bathroom and comfy bed! It only had one  double bedroom so this is great for couples. Plus there is a caravan site too, so if you have your own caravan you can park up there and I’m sure the rates will be very reasonable. 

Hawthorn cottage

Hawthorn cottage, credit: Sykes Cottages 

sykes cottages

Hawthorn cottage, credit: Sykes Cottages 

 Although there were a few pubs within walking distance, as we had the dog with us we were slightly limited in our options. In the end we cooked in every night after regular trips to the Morrisons and Co-op in Barnard Castle. This was also nice as it meant we could drink lots of wine without worrying about tiring the (almost) 15-year old pooch out or one of us having to drive.

One day we went out to High Force and Low Force waterfalls. I would recommend parking near one of these and doing the round walk (about two hours), it’s a nice walk and the waterfall at High Force is particularly impressive. The walk is very kid and dog friendly too.

Teesdale

High Force, Teesdale

Teesdale

Bridge over Low Force waterfall, Teesdale

Another day was spent walking around Hamsterley Forest, this is great if it’s raining (like it normally does in England!) as the trees provide good shelter. It’s especially a must if you are a keen off-road cyclist as there are lots of cycling tracks. This was only about a 30 – 40 minute drive away and well worth it as we passed through some lovely countryside to get there. 

rope swings

Howard using the rope swing across the river

Dee

Dee’s favourite spot of the holiday

Another day was spent mooching around Barnard Castle and although we didn’t visit the castle itself I think it would be worth exploring, if you have the time! 

Finally on our last day we drove a bit further out to Derwent reservoir which is actually on the outskirts of Northumberland. This took just under an hour to get too and was approximately 7-8 miles to walk around. On first impression, the reservoir doesn’t look much, but as you start to walk around it there is some lovely countryside and stunning views.

If you’re looking for somewhere to go to relax and go walking, whether it is for 3, 5 or a full week – Teesdale is a great place to base yourself! 

Derwent reservoir

Derwent reservoir, credit: Ken Hircock, Flickr

Derwent reservoir

Derwent reservoir, credit: BirdTrail.blogspot.com

Manahatta Bar
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Manahatta Leeds Launch

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Last Thursday I attended another restaurant launch in Leeds – this time it was the Manahatta bar on Merrion Street.

Inspired by the ‘industrial glamour’ of New York, it was indeed pretty upmarket, although definitely not pretentious.

Manahatta bar is part of Arc Inspirations which includes the Pit, Arc, the Box and Trios. All of which can be found nearby in Leeds, Harrogate or York.

The bar is pretty big as it is both upstairs and downstairs, but is filled with intimate tables and cosy circular booths.

Manahatta Bar

Manahatta Bar Manahatta Bar

The Managing Director, Martin Wolstencroft, gave a talk in ‘The Library’ a cosy room filled with high tables and stools, accompanied with, you guessed it, a book-case filled with New York style collectables, including photos of Marilyn Monroe.

Martin said he wanted to create a space that was welcome to “all like-minded people, who want to have a good time and enjoy great food”. It seems he has created what he set out to achieve and having visited many of his other bars during my student years, I think this has to be the best yet. 

I was lucky enough to sample three cocktails including a classic Kir Royale, a Cucumber Cooler (my favourite – so refreshing) and a Geisha Girl – which although pretty in pink was a bit strong for my taste (I blame the Sake).

cucumber cooler

Geisha Girl

We were also invited to sample several dishes and the ones I tasted were all delicious. The Yakitori beef skewers were divine, so juicy and tasty and I also enjoyed the tempura beans – they looked like chips only surely healthier?! (Hopefully…probably not but we can pretend).

manahatta food 

It was lovely to be able to sample the new menu and taste the cocktails – as well as getting a sneak preview into the venue before the official launch. I’m definitely going to be going back there with Howard, as soon as we have a free Friday night!

Another great quirk to this place (and whoever’s idea it was – very well done) was to add a #ManahattaSelfie slogan across the mirrors in the girl’s toilets, because lets face it, we all love a good toilet selfie after we’ve had a few cocktails too many.

Danielle and I had to try it out, it would have been rude not to…

manahatta selfie

We then went onto another blogger event – Thursday night’s seem to be very popular for events (so I keep hearing) and I was very impressed with the final twist of the night – a free lift in a New York taxi! 

Thank you to the staff at Manahatta Leeds – I had a fab night! Check out their menu at arcinspirations.com/manahatta/menu/food  and follow them on Twitter @ManahattaLeeds 

xx

manahatta taxiaa

 

camels in petra
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Jordan in December

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As the hashtag #TBT (throw back Thursday) is very popular, I thought it would be nice to try and do an occasional TBT post on places that I have been fortunate enough to visit, but didn’t have a blog to write about it at the time.

In December 2012, after spending Christmas in Abu Dhabi (more on this another time) my family; Mum, Dad, James (little brother) and Howard (boyfriend) went to Jordan.

This was actually a great idea (well done Dad), as it was half way between Abu Dhabi and England, which broke up our journey home AND it was a brilliant trip.

Heading straight to the beautiful rose-coloured city of Petra, we stayed in one of the (few) hotels near the UNESCO site. There were a few local restaurants nearby, much to my delight Jordan delicacies are very similar to its neighbour’s, Lebanon (think humous, pitta, fresh salads, grilled meat) and it wasn’t too expensive either. At least I don’t think it was…The benefits of going on holiday with your parents…(thanks Mum and Dad).

We spent three nights there, it was at least a mile to get to the heart of the heritage site from the entrance and even by the end of the first day both mine and my mum’s calves were aching like mad. We climbed up dusty hills and stumbled across beautiful archaeological remains of temples, tombs and houses carved into the red rock.

Petra   Petra      scenery in petrapetraMan in Jordan

When walking gets too much there is plenty of other transport on offer. Whether it’s on the back of a (poor) little donkey (not something I felt comfortable with trying), a camel or a horse, if you’re worried your tired achy legs can’t handle any more walking – there are several other options. 

horse in Petrahorse back petracamels

As you can see from the photos above, (most of which were taken by my talented dad Nick Nunnington) although it was December, it was still warm enough to get away with just wearing a long sleeved top and jeans. It was very warm in the sunshine and all the brisk walking and clambering up rocks definitely kept us for getting cold. 

However in the evening when the sun went down it did get quite cold so if you are planning on visiting this Christmas – take lots of layers to wrap up warm later on!

One of my favourite evenings was when we went on a lantern lit walk through the site. It was very romantic and the atmosphere was fabulous. So many stars to be seen in the clear sky too, it was definitely something I wouldn’t miss. 

Lanterns in Petra

family in petra

In terms of night time entertainment, in the area next to the rose city itself, there isn’t that many  lively places. However we did discover the Cave bar – which unsurprisingly was in a cave! It was quite loud with some interesting choices of music, but well worth a visit, especially if you’re looking for a late night tipple. 

After your Petra trip, there is nothing else for it, a stop off by the Dead Sea is a must. Soothe your achy limbs in the salty waters that are so buoyant, it is apparently quite easy to drown if you swim on your front(!). It was certainly an interesting experience, it’s hard to describe really, but swimming is pretty impossible as your feet just keep floating to the top and out the water! It’s perfect for those wanting to lie back and sunbathe, but at the end of December, it just wasn’t quite warm enough. 

Don’t be fooled like us either, the sticky black mud you find in the sea apparently isn’t the stuff they use in spas – you need to go further out / dig deeper to get it. I of course only found this out after I had covered my whole face in the stuff.

dead sea mud

floating in the dead seaOur trip came to a conclusion in Jordan’s capital, Amman. Howard and I had just one night there and it was definitely a good place to discover even more of the country’s culture. There are lots of different sides to the city, from the modern to the old, but you can spend an enjoyable day or two wondering around, sampling tasty lentil soup and munching on falafel wraps and stopping to smoke shesha and play cards in a late night cafe. 

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The Black Swan Launch

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Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the media launch of The Black Swan – a new pub in Leeds on Call Lane that used to be Bar Room Bar.

Now Bar Room Bar is somewhere I did used to go occasionally during my years as a student, however stepping into the Black Swan on Thursday I realised it had been completely transformed and I much prefer it now.

The overall atmosphere is cosy, it’s definitely somewhere I could go with my boyfriend, friends and even my mum! For some food, or just a quick drink, it caters for both audiences.

On arrival we were treated to a special ‘Bloody Mary’ cocktail, that was pretty strong. After chatting to some other bloggers and journalists we were then ushered into the main eating area downstairs, where the open kitchen and humongous pizza oven is based.

Bloody mary

Black swan leeds

Whilst one of the head chefs taught us about sour dough, two of the bloggers who attended had the opportunity to don an apron and have a go at making their own pizza. Not only did we get to sample their creations after, we were also treated to some homemade sour dough focaccia bread, to dip in balsmic vinegar and olive oil. The bread was impressive, very soft with a slight saltiness that was completely moreish and made me instantly want to come back, just to eat the bread again. (I am also quite sensitive to gluten, but this bread didn’t seem to affect me, probably because it was so fresh and homemade).

sour dough

making pizza

Next up was a cocktail making class from the expert bar staff. We were first taught how to make an Espresso Martini – which is one of my favourite cocktails and their version certainly didn’t disappoint. The cocktail was sweet but not sickly and I could have happily had several more.

Black Swan Cocktail Making

Espresso Martini

Also during the night I sampled the Mojito and a Pink Swan. The Mojito was great but I have to say I wasn’t a huge fan of the Pink Swan as it was a little sickly for me. It looked very pretty though and even came with an edible flower!

Pink Swan cocktail

After the cocktail making class we sat down to a pub quiz that was all about Leeds! My quiz team partner, Nathan, and I, were hopeless at the picture round but we did manage to get some right in the main quiz, so we were quite chuffed with ourselves.

Overall the night was fun, informal and informative. Well done to the fabulous Shackleton PR guys who organised it – I know how hard they worked.

A lovely end to the night was when we each received a Black Swan goodie bag, complete with our own jar of sour dough and some Black Swan slippers, which highlights their ethos that the pub should be a ‘home from home’.

Black Swan gift bag

The next day I actually was lucky enough to be invited back to sample their lunch menu. Choosing the venison with dumplings was definitely a good choice – it was really comforting and tasty. I had a cheeseboard for pudding but I have to say my fellow diner’s apple and blackberry crumble looked even better.

Thank you Black Swan Leeds for a great evening and lunch! I shall be back…

For more information visit blackswanleeds.co.uk and follow their Instagram: @black_swan_leeds

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5 Days in Kos

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My boyfriend and I are always guilty of booking a holiday and then cramming so much in that we both come back more exhausted then we were before we went.

I say my boyfriend and I…It’s probably myself and my too organised planning that’s to blame!

Apart from when we visited my parents in Portugal two summers ago, we hadn’t really ever had a ‘beach holiday’ and with 4 days of holiday left to use, we decided we would go somewhere to just chill.

Choosing where took longer than anticipated, due to us wanting to fly on a Tuesday and return home on a Sunday, but with the help of Sky Scanner, we found an Easy Jet flight to Kos from Gatwick and a return flight with Ryan Air which landed in Liverpool.

We ummed and ahhed over which hotel to pick. I had heard that whatever star rating a hotel in Greece has, it’s usually at least one less than that compared to hotels in England.

I found a gorgeous 5* hotel that would have cost over £650 for 5 nights (no food or drink included) with a stunning infinity pool. However the reviews were a bit hit and miss and it wasn’t very close to anything else.

After a lot of deliberating we actually went for the 3* Diamond Hotel Apartments for just £170 which turned out to be really great value, and we were so pleased we picked it!

The furniture around the pool could have done with a re-paint as it looked quite tired but apart from that it was peaceful, the beer was pretty cheap and our room was clean and most importantly mosquito free!

We went from the 9th September and checked out on the 14th, there was usually only five other families / couples around the pool which meant it was a perfect place to relax. Plus it was very, very hot!

Diamond Apartments in Kos

Diamond Apartments

On our third night we went for a special meal as it was our third year anniversary. We had spotted Barbouni during a walk along the beach on our first night and it was a great choice. With mainly seafood and Italian food on offer, the portions were generous but presented beautifully. The staff were excellent, very friendly and attentive. We enjoyed it so much (£60 for 3 courses each wasn’t exactly expensive either) we decided to go back on our final night.

Barbouni Kos

Pudding at Barbouni

We also ate at a local restaurant called Pantheon which was very cheap but very tasty. We went there on our first night and went back there on our fourth as we had enjoyed it so much. Our only mistake was eating at a very busy, touristy restaurant bang in the centre of Kos town on our second night. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it but it took forever to get served and when we did the quality was very disappointing. 

As it is in most places, it’s definitely worth heading off the beaten track a bit, or paying a bit more for seafood on the beach. 

After three and a half days lounging by the pool, reading books and listening to music we decided we were allowed one day of adventure! Howard has a motorbike licence but we decided a scooter was more than big enough to take us on a tour around the tiny island.

Scooter in Kos

Motorbike in kos

Hiring one for just 20 euros was very straight forward, we travelled for about 30 – 40 minutes before stumbling across a very deserted looking beach. Paying 5 euros we were given two sunbeds, free wifi and later an amazing view of the sunset.

sea in Kos

Sunset in Kos

Although the plane journey was twice as long (4 hours) than if we had visited Spain or France, even just for five days we both felt it was still worth making the trip. Although it was September the weather was still perfect, with no clouds in sight the entire time we were there.

For those wanting to relax, rewind and eat some yummy food (lots of tzatziki and gyros was consumed) Kos in Greece is an ideal choice. 

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Mallorca with the girls

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Since going to Mallorca at the beginning of August with my best friends from university I have failed to do two things:

1) blog

2) go to the gym

After splashing out on personal trainer sessions and hitting the gym regularly this summer, it seemed the second I went on holiday all  motivation went flying out the window.

The good news is, after almost three months off and three fabulous holidays, I am BACK ON IT.

So to recap, this summer I spent a week in a gorgeous villa with my favourite people from the University of Leeds; Colette, Amy, Lisa and Sophie (we were just sadly missing Sarah Emmerson who will definitely be attending next time!).

If anyone read my previous blog, which was mainly full of our trials and tribulations of mischief, disasters and general FMLs at Uni, you may recognise their names.

Nothing has really changed since then apart from we’re now all in full time employment, ranging from mental health nursing to TV production, oh and Lisa and Colette are both ENGAGED and will be married next year (SO EXCITED)! But more on that in another blog post…

Sophie and Lisa live in London so were flying out together, whilst us northerners were flying out of Liverpool, as that’s where Amy and Col are based (now without me sob sob).

Due to the bad weather, a (now) moderate anxiety of flying and just my standard paranoia of missing the plane, I was there 30 minutes early before our designated meeting time. Seating myself behind a pillar, out of sight, I browsed the internet whilst I waited for my favourite pair of loons to turn up.

Suddenly a very loud ‘BETHENY NUNNINGTON, BETHENY NUNNINGTON, WHERE ARE YOUUUUUUUU?’ filled my ears, ‘oh god they’ve arrived and are trying to embarrass me already’ I thought grabbing my new, Ryan Air specially sized suitcase I had bought for a bargain from Amazon.

I ran out to the middle of the airport hoping to find them quickly so they would stop shouting my name at the top of their voices. Luckily they were easy to spot and after big hugs and exclaims of ‘OMG you’re so skinny’, ‘no, YOU’RE so skinny’ we made our way towards security.

En route we passed the Ryan Air baggage baskets which allow you to test whether or not your bag fits in. My brand new one slid in perfectly, yet neither Amy’s or Colette’s did much to my amusement.

“It’ll be ok, they might not check…” I said, not feeling very confident.

Keeping it cheap, the three of us had decided to take hand baggage only and I was feeling very organised with my mini bottles I had bought for a £1 from Primark, and special (sealed) clear plastic bag.

Picking up a tray to put our stuff in Colette started to pull out not one, not two, but three clear plastic bags full of liquids.

“Er pretty sure you’re only allowed one of those Col” I said frowning at her as several bottles spilled out of the bursting bags.

“Don’t be daft, Joel and I have just been to Italy and I took loads on.”

I then turned to see Amy also pulling more than one plastic bag of liquids out of her bag. “Colette said I could take more than one on” she said looking at my concerned face.

“Ok” I said, thinking, this is going to be interesting…

Sure enough the security guy turned to us and said ‘sorry it’s only one bag per person, you’ll have to throw the rest away…”

OH FECK.

By this point I was beside myself with giggles, finding the whole thing hilarious. I managed to squeeze Colette’s foundation into my bag and the girls just had to be ruthless with the rest of their belongings.

Colette refused to part with her Pearl Drops though.

Amy: “Since when did you buy Pearl Drops, you’re SUCH A COPY CAT.”

Col: “SHUT UP I’ve always liked using it, I’m not parting with this – DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IT COSTS?”

I just laughed, and laughed and laughed. Especially when Col ran back to put on an extra bit of deodrant she had left on the side, ‘got to get my money’s worth’ she told the poor security guy who was looking at her incredulously. 

After accidentally attempting to board an Easy Jet plane to Mallorca “Er Colette this is looking very orange, pretty sure our Ryan Air flight is not leaving from here…” sitting at a bar that was in actual fact closed, we made it to the plane.

Once we made it to Mallorca it became apparent that despite saying she would, Amy wasn’t actually sure she had booked a taxi for us. In fact she was pretty sure she hadn’t.

“Amy, you had ONE job…”

£96 in a taxi later and we were here! At our beautiful villa that was a bargain at £189 each for the week: http://www.7mallorca.com/en/gallery/ferienhaus-cala-millor-privat/

Sophie and Lisa had already arrived and had gone out for a drink, so we had to wait for them outside the gate.

‘It’s ok, I’ll just climb over and let you in’ and before I could stop her, my favourite scouser had clambered over the fence and we were in (much to Soph and Lisa’s surprise when they turned up 5 minutes later).

What followed was seven lovely days of gossip, laughter, wine, cheese (a LOT of cheese) and several card games. Having not lived with each other for three years, it was a great place to finally spend quality time together and catch up properly.

Mallorca

restaurant

girls holiday

girls on tour

If you’re looking for somewhere to go to chill in the sun, be near to the beach and drink lots of cheap wine then Cala Millor in Mallorca is perfect! This villa slept six although the third room didn’t have a proper door (or curtains) so be prepared.  The third room came with two twin beds, with the master en-suite and second room having big double beds. It was perfect for us, Colette kindly volunteered for what we nicknamed ‘the pit’ but it wasn’t that bad, and we did give her 10 euros each for her sacrifice… 

It is worth mentioning though that this definitely wasn’t Magaluf, so if you want somewhere where you can go and ‘smash life’ as Col would say, it’s probably not here.