These are a few of my favourite things…

blog, creative, festivals, lifestyle, nottingham, ramble, reviews, Uncategorized, wellbeing

I’m not going to say anything that will shatter the earth in this blog, because it’s all already been said. I think maybe my generation are starting to listen a little bit more too. I believe it’s so important to support independent business/creative ventures. I am lucky to have a bunch of friends that are INCREDIBLY talented.

My friend Karen is the owner of a papercut company – she makes the cutest art work, but there’s such an in depth process behind it. She uses card and a scalpel to cut out her designs – making greetings cards, prints and even the blog header at the top of this page. How she has any finger tips left, or any patience for that matter, I’ll never know. Her Gilmore Girls, Stars Hollow map was recently featured on a buzzfeed list of items every Gilly should own. Her stuff is intricate and so, so cool.

My friends Scott, Ben and Carl are in a band that satisfies every ounce of my endless desire to experience the beat era. Their band is called Lucille, named after BB King’s guitar, and if that isn’t the coolest thing in the world I don’t know what is. I first saw them play when my sister was bartending at an open mic night and she recommended them. Since then I haven’t left them alone, and have essentially forced them into being my buddies.  But it’s just that honestly, their music makes me SO happy. It takes me out of 2016, and into 1958, where I’m partying with Jack Kerouac, standing up against oppression and ‘fighting the good fight’. I struggle with the mundaneness of adult life sometimes. I try really hard to make it not mundane, but sometimes, in order to keep the bills paid and the wolf away from the door, it kind of is. Lucille’s live show isn’t a complete departure from the roots of reality, it’s more like an acknowledgement that it exists, and then says fuck it, let’s dance.

Since getting to know Lucille, Ben, their drummer has also joined a band called Cold Water Souls. CWS create music that is heavy but melodic, dark, moody and has these insanely powerful but beautiful vocals that will permeate your bones and sink in for days afterwards. Their live show is an atmospheric haze. Whilst Lucille allow you to dance your troubles away, CWS lift them out of you and burns them into a cloud of navy blue smoke that swirls into patterns above your head. Metaphorically, obviously. Please do not smoke indoors at CWS gigs, this has been a public service announcement.

Whilst I also love my iphone, starbucks and Beyonce, I just think if you want to really customise your life experience, you won’t find that richness at the bottom of a Christmas red cup which you specifically bought to pad out your instagram feed. For me at least, it’s found in those independent creators who haven’t been polished to the Nth degree, and don’t have a huge marketing team behind them.

Anyway, as I say, this isn’t really anything earth shattering. Partly I was just thinking about all the awesome things my friends are up to, but also I just think people expect creativity for free too often these days. If like me, you have attachments to independent creatives who enrich your life, show them some love. Support them. Don’t expect shit for free. They might do what they do for the love of it, but sacrificing time to create, when you’re a grown up, can be hard to manage, and they deserve mega praise for doing it.

And if you are purely a chain consumer, oh my god look around! Try an independent restaurant, watch an indie film, go to a local gig. Not saying this to preach, I just think it’ll make you happy 🙂

Anyway, go and check out what the guys I spoke about above are up to:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/OhCutItOut

http://www.facebook.com/thebandlucille

http://www.facebook.com/coldwatersouls

 

And in a directly opposing note, i got a new phone and a new lipstick today and i’m v pleased about this.

Peace.

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The Bull’s Head – Repton, Derby

blog, cookies, dinner, food, lifestyle, restaurant reviews, reviews

I recently took a week off work and decided with my usual brand of reckless abandon: nerd edition, to change my long, dark brown hair style into a short, platinum blonde hair style. After several years in my late teens during which I bleached the s*** out of my hair at home, and then dyed the frazzled leftovers orange in a failed attempt to resemble Hayley Williams; I knew that booking a salon appointment was essential. (Hopefully I have a slightly tighter grasp on reality now too). My hair dresser, Ben Brown, is nothing short of a miracle worker, so I booked myself into his self-named Derby salon. As I was in the area, I decided to grace my mum with my presence. Lucky lady. Things just got better and better for her, when I graciously allowed her to take me out for lunch. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

On the outskirts of Derby is a small village called Repton. You might be familiar with its boarding school. It’s the one where Roald Dahl went to school. And Jeremy Clarkson too, but the less said about that the better. In addition to having an exceptionally fancy school, Repton is also home to The Bull’s Head, a pub come restaurant that has a collection of local and regional foodie awards under its belt.

The Bull’s Head is bloody lovely. Their mantra is ‘Seriously Good Food in an Unserious Way’ and it definitely practises what it preaches. It’s the type of place where you can order from a selection of gins, rather than being immediately given the house choice; but also order a speciality cocktail which comes served in a mini bath tub. Whilst the Bull’s Head feels like a slightly more upmarket place, you could comfortably visit in your jeans and vans of a lunch time and not worry about looking under dressed. Yes, it has to be said that given its close proximity to a boarding school; you do occasionally come across a gaggle of customers with upturned noses; who generate a slight whiff of Lacoste Por Homme and faux arrogance; but don’t let that put you off. The staff always go out of their way to make everybody feel welcome. They are the same type of friendly that is usually reserved for Starbucks baristas: warm, accommodating, accepting of all.

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My Nan would be proud!

The Bull’s Head has two kitchens – the main kitchen, and the pizza kitchen. I’ve ordered the pizza before, and can confirm that it is indeed awesome, but for me it’s the main kitchen that really sets it apart from the gastro pub crowd. On this visit, we started with some honey and soy glazed chorizo. I still think about that chorizo a lot when I’m feeling down. Instant joy! Juicy, tangy, savoury, sweet, meaty goodness. God, I can’t even put into words how good they were. Which is a pretty poor show for a food blogger, but let’s sweep that one under the rug and move on.

When it came to ordering mains, I went for a crushed chickpea, cheesy tofu and avocado sandwich; which was served with a generous hand full of proper, homemade chips like Nan used to make. Now, I know tofu might seem like a weird choice for a sandwich filling, and I know it has close connotations to tree hugging vegan types; but seriously, it was SO good. Plus, I think it’s probably time we all took a leaf out of the vegan handbook anyway, but that’s a tale for another time. (I know how ridiculous that sounds coming from somebody who regularly uses the thought of chorizo as a tool for happiness). Anyway! There was a happy contrast between the fresh, creaminess of the avocado and the melty, gooey, naughtiness of the cheese. The crushed chickpeas were just warmed up with a hint of spice.  It was a taste sensation, let me tell ya!

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A particularly friendly member of staff called Abbie (Hi Abbie!), recommended the chocolate skillet cookie for a sharing dessert, and oh sweet mama. I am not a particularly religious person, but after tasting this dish I think I’m a believer. The dish was comprised of rich, gooey, just cooked cookie dough served warm in the skillet; topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and fudgey chocolate sauce. I’m fairly certain I gained 5 pounds that day, but I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t worth it.

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Whilst you’re probably safe to head to The Bull’s Head for lunch on a week day without a reservation, you’ll need to book ahead of time for dinner bookings or weekend lunches. One of the downfalls of undeniable popularity I guess. In terms of how much you can expect to pay at The Bull’s Head, you’ll pay significantly more for a meal from the main kitchen than you will if you order a pizza; but that’s just the cost of ingredients and skill required from the chefs I suppose (happy to be corrected!). So if I’m going for dinner it will be for a special occasion; but as I’ve said in other reviews, you pay extra for the higher quality food and service. It’s as simple as that. Scores on the doors as follows:

Ambience: 9/10

Food: 9/10

Bang for Buck: 7/10

Would I Go Again: Without a doubt!

 

Race for Life 10k

excercise, fitness, Health, healthy, Life, running, Uncategorized, weight loss, weightloss, wellbeing

Have you ever had one of those weeks at work where the best plan of action appears to be to quit, sell your belongings, buy a camper van and piss off to the arse end of nowhere? Well, that’s been my week. I am bloody knackered! However, work life aside I had a pretty awesome Sunday running the Race for Life 10k.

So if I start by explaining that I was a bit concerned about doing this race. For one thing, it was my first ever 10k race. For another, right before my Nike+ ‘peak weeks’ of my training plan, I had to rest my leg because I could feel it on the brink of injury. That took two weeks of rest to get back to full strength, which left me with one week before the race. Aaaaand in that week I somehow (seriously, God knows how) managed to hurt my collar bone doing the oh so strenuous task of…. getting in the car. Yup. You read that correctly. I don’t even have the excuse of having to climb into the back seat of a 3 door car, because I was driving. So I pretty much assumed the powers that be were not looking down fondly at the prospect of me owning this race. But, being a stubborn little shit, on Sunday morning I laced up my running shoes, donned the Lycra and headed off to Darley Park in Derby. 

Now.

Let me tell you a thing or two about Darley Park. It fucking sucks. There is zilch parking spaces so you have to walk a mile to the race site before you’ve even started, and then when you get there, there is scarecly a flat surface to be seen. I didn’t notice this at first. I’ll tell you when it did become acutely obvious though – when I was 2km into the race and had yet to stop gathering altitude. I suppose I perhaps should have thought about this when I signed up. After all, I have previously been sledging at this park….

As a lovely little ‘treat’, in addition to the mountainous terrain, Britain decided to have one of its nine hot days a year on Sunday. The sun beamed down and I could legitimately feel my usually translucent white skin sizzling like the skin of a rotisserie chicken as I ran. 

But you know what, in spite of those slight obstacles, I actually really enjoyed myself. Ok, so I didn’t manage to reach my target of 10k in under 60 minutes, but honestly I think given the break in training at a crucial time, the unfamiliar track and the heat, I did pretty darn well.

My favourite thing about these types of events is always the last 100m. The atmosphere is euphoric as music in earphones is drowned out by the sound of people cheering you on. I saw my lovely boyfriend waving his arms around like a loon to spur me on from about 300m away. I mean to be fair, he’s 6’6, it’d be difficult to miss him. But it made me smile so much. My mum managed to get out of work early to come and see me too, and I actually saw a girl I used to work with in a job at we both passionately hated, running the track as well, so that was awesome. 

The race has reactivated the bug in me. A lady at work who I really admire and look up to for about 100 different reasons has asked if I want to do something called Equinox with her and her sister. It’s basically a 24 hour relay, where a team of four take it in turns to run 10k, and see how many they can fit in over the course of 24 hours. It sounds pretty incredible, and I’m nervous as shit, but I think I’m gonna do it. It will keep me motivated and on course with my training.

Next mission: Go. 

Sushi Wars

food, japan, restaurant reviews, sushi

There’s an ongoing battle between my boyfriend and I, that is likely to never be conquered. Ahhh, the great war of who’s home city has the best sushi. Given that our home cities are Derby and Sheffield – not exactly Sushi central, it’s actually quite a feat that we both have such high quality sushi to argue over. My vote is for Moon Sha in Derby, his for Yama Sushi in Sheffield. In the interest of full disclosure and fairness, I will say that both places make fresh, delicious food that I would never ever complain about eating. I think the thing is, the two restaurants just have very different vibes.

Whilst Moon Sha is a big building which has lovely black glitter effect granite tables, expensive looking table wear, a huge teppyanyaki station in the centre of the restaurant and karaoke booths upstairs; Yama is so small and casual it feels more like a cafe than a restaurant. Clearly the physical appearance of the restaurant means nothing if the food isn’t up to scratch, but as both places provide sushi and other Japanese fare so mouth watering it could bring you to tears, I do factor in the details.

Pictured are a couple of the dishes we ordered at Yama. (Apologies for the poor quality photograph!) Although I don’t remember the name of them, our usual sushi ordering habits suggest that they were crab/salmon/avocado based. Overall, I’d say Yama pushes the boat further out in terms of menu creativity, with the addition of a sushi specials board with more experimental flavours. Moon Sha tend to stick to the recognisable classics –  but they do have significantly more options to choose from, including bento boxes, ramen and katsu. The beauty of Yama is that due to its casual vibe, you can rock up in the jogging bottoms and band tshirt you crashed out in last night if you really want to. As somebody who has grown up with countless insecurities about not fitting in or being good enough, I really appreciate that. Lucy no like pretentiousness. Moon Sha is more up market, but warm and welcoming all the same. You can expect to have a full, eating out ‘experience’ as opposed to just a dinner there, with waiters who go out of their way to provide you with second to none service.

I still maintain that Moon Sha make marginally better food overall – the rice they use for their sushi rolls is a freshly flavoured, sticky but not gelatinous thing of beauty. I don’t know whether it’s down to geographical loyalties or genuine preference, but the other half is having absolutely none of it and is sticking to his Sheffield rooted guns. But honestly, if you have the opportunity to go to either establishment, you absolutely should, I can promise you won’t regret it.