Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Ultimate Advent Calender

If ever there was an Advent Calender that I would love to open every day of December, it is this one from Liberty of London. Coming in at a staggering £149, it is highly unlikely this beauty will reach my posession. But one can but dream...

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Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Autumn Shades

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Summer may be well and truly over for this year, as the clocks changing this past weekend will confirm. But sunshine heading into the colder months is not. I often find myself reaching for my sunglasses even more post-summer with the low winter sun. As we're heading into my favourite autumn season, I decided to choose a pair of sunglasses most fitting to wear with my autumn clothing. Autumn for me exists mostly in a creamy brown colour spectrum, so I decided to opt for these cream pearl sunglasses by Dolce & Gabbana in a very cool square shape with a stylish bold frame. I loved this pair the minute I put them on, they are such a statement accessory. Despite already having so many pairs of sunglasses, I feel no guilt in acquiring yet another pair. These are from Sunglasses Shop which you will have seen featured here before. They have such an amazing range of designer frames, I love perusing the site to see the new styles they have stocked.

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Wearing: Dolce & Gabbana Sunglasses via The Sunglasses Shop* ~ Next Faux Fur Jacket* ~ Dior Rings
Beauty: Nars Audacious Lipstick in Juliette ~ Chanel Nail Polish in Orage

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Autumn List

I remember a wonderful post on one of my favourite blogs Hjartesmil last year. I bookmarked the post and vowed to do my own Autumn List this year. So here we go...

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Describe your autumn in 3 words
Cosy. Warm. Happy.

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What is the best and worst about autumn?
The best has to be the feeling that Christmas is around the corner, I have an excuse to stay at home more often in the warmth and the rich autumnal colours outside with crunchy leaves fallen from the trees. The chance to wear cosy knitwear and layer up, the best form of dressing in my opinion. The bad? I suppose the fact that it is colder and it feels better to be inside. But even that is not so bad to me really.

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How do you do autumn?
My autumn season begins as soon as Starbucks release their Pumpkin Spiced Lattes. I envied the US for years before we finally got to buy this drink in the UK. I like to buy some new knitwear and a new winter coat. Also buy some seasonal candles and stock up on plenty of tea. My longing to stay home as much as possible really intensifies at this time of year.

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Your best 3 autumn tips
1. Embrace the season; 2. Plan a seasonal trip to enjoy autumn outdoors, the National Trust properties in the UK are especially good at this time of year; 3. One or two purchases to make autumn extra special, whether that be for the home, beauty products or clothing pieces.

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How does your autumn outfit look?
Berry shades on the lips and nails. Large blanket scarf and pompom hat. Chunky sweater with warm tights and boots.

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What is on your to-do list?
I want to get baking this autumn – some spiced pumpkin cookies (from this recipe) and a nice crumble (which I plan to make from this recipe).

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Tips not to get the autumn blues
Buy some home-ware to make staying at home extra cosy. Lots of scented candles scattered around, the low lights make home a very cosy place to be, as well as a delicious scent to get you in the mood for the season. Spend time in the kitchen, preparing food from scratch. The smell from the oven will be delicious. Treat yourself to some new beauty products and a new perfume.

Best music for rain days?
It has to Nat King Cole playing on my record player.

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Which shows do you recommend?
I don't really watch much TV but a box set of Will & Grace to get through and repeat watch would be a good show to watch from start to finish through autumn.

What is the most autumnal dish?
I think I would have to say a good crumble. Which I fully intend to try my hand at this year,  see recipe above. Along with a good pot of chai tea.

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Where would you rather spend your weekends?
Home of course. Or alternatively a weekend away somewhere in a cosy hotel, preferably one that has everything under one roof so that leaving it is not a necessity. My recent trip to The Lord Crewe Arms (posts here and here) and Ox Pasture Hall (post here) were perfect.

Any travelling planned?
The Christmas Markets in Dusseldorf are booked for the end of November.

How do you prepare for Christmas?
I started a notebook last year where I write down lots of Christmassy things – recipes, gift list, card list, decoration & wrapping ideas etc. So I will look through that and add extra notes to it. I love looking on-line for inspiration too, Pinterest is the obvious choice – you can see my Christmas board here. I make plans with my friends and family for Christmas - Festive Afternoon Teas and Shopping Trips. I especially love London at this time of year, Winter Wonderland is a fantastic event to go to, and the Liberty Christmas Shop is a must.

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Thursday, 23 October 2014

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel

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Last weekend, I was invited along* to Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, nestled in the heart of Yorkshire, to spend the weekend. It ended up being a couple of hours pleasant drive from where I live in Newcastle upon Tyne. Amazing to think that within the space of a couple of hours I can leave a busy city and arrive into the most tranquil and peaceful country surroundings. The Hall is set in seventeen acres of beautiful grounds and is a lovely luxury country house within distance of plenty of things to do. Perfect to get away from everyday life and relax at a slower pace.

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We were led to our room, or should I say suite, by very attentive staff who were most welcoming the minute we set foot in the hotel. The room itself had a huge bedroom, living space and the best bit - a large bathroom with huge shower and bath and most importantly, twin sinks. The bathroom was modern but fit well with the overall style of the hotel.

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We had the most amazing view out of our living room window, this area seemed to be very popular for a slow stroll. Many of the rooms have amazing views over the Yorkshire Moors, definitely worth asking about if you decide to visit yourself.

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After unpacking our bags and sorting our room, we went for a little wander around the grounds, taking in the beautiful gardens which had so many wonderful nooks and crannied. Despite being an autumn weekend, I could only imagine what this place must be like in the summer. There are so many cosy benches and seating areas, and the patio terrace in front of the restaurant must be the best place to have breakfast on a warm sunshine-filled morning.

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We decided to relax in the lounge with a glass of wine each, luxuriating in the cosy warmth and having a quick perusal of the menu as we had both built up quite an appetite. After freshening up in our room, we headed back downstairs to the Courtyard Restaurant. As I have mentioned on here many times before, I am quite the fussy eater, so was quite excited with this menu which had so much choice for me. We had already been warned that the restaurant employs some of the country's top chefs and enjoys two rosettes for culinary excellence as a result, so we definitely had high expectations for our evening meal.

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We started off with some drinks and a choice of bread.

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And then were surprised with the first extra course - a Strawberry Consommé.

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Next was our chosen first courses - Yorkshire Coast Fish Cake, Pea Pureé and Soft Packed Egg for me and a Traditional Smoked Salmon served with Horseradish Ice-cream for my friend.

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The next surprise course was a mini serving of Soup and Croutons. So delicious.

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For my main course I chose a Crispy Tartlet with Wild Mushrooms, Butternut Squash, Pea Pureé and Truffle Gnochi. And my friend opted for the Slow Cooked Belly Port, Tender Loin stuffed with Apricot & Sage, Savoy Cabbage, Sauteed Potato, Home-made Black Pudding and Red Onion Marmalade. Is your mouth watering yet? I know mine is when I'm looking at these pictures and remembering the wonderful meal we had.

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Finally, just before coffees we chose our desserts. Mine was an Apple and Pear Crumble served with Sauce Anglais and my friend finally decided on the Caribbean Cocktail of Coconut Panacotta, Mango Rice Pudding, PassionFruit Sorbet and Pina Colada. The oohs and ahhs throughout this meal became quite humorous in the end, we enjoyed our food so much!

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After a very restful sleep (I don't always sleep well in hotels I must admit) but it was so cosy listening to the howling wind outside I drifted off into quite the deep sleep. We then headed back down to the restaurant for breakfast. My friend ordered a Full Yorkshire Breakfast and I chose the lighter Goats Cheese and Tomato Omelette.

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We had another wander around the grounds again and spotted arrangements for a wedding due to take place later that day. There had already been a wedding on the day we arrived, but we couldn't help to have a quick sneak into the wedding room to see how the room had been set up. Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is also very well known for its' wedding facilities, I can understand why this venue would be so popular as the photo opportunities are immense. There are so many good places to take photographs - little fountains, in front of the lake,the beautiful gardens.

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We decided to go out for a drive to nearby Whitby, a favourite of mine since childhood. It took about thirty minutes by car and was a lovely way to fill a few hours before returning back to the hotel or Afternoon Tea. Back in the lounge with sandwiches, scones and cakes a-plenty, there was lots of tea, chatter and relaxation to finish off the day and weekend very well. 

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I really enjoyed myself at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel. I think if you're in the North of England, it is a very accessible place to get to. And for anywhere else in the UK, a lovely trip to make for a thoroughly relaxing holiday. The highlights for me were most definitely the food and the beautiful grounds, I just loved the peaceful surroundings of the hotel.

Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel
North York Moors National Park
North Yorkshire
YO12 5TD
T: 01723 365 295
@: OxPastureHotel

(Bottom picture of the wedding room supplied by Ox Pasture Hall Hotel)