Saturday, January 29, 2022

Christmas Shopping in Manchester

At the end of November my mum and I went shopping in Manchester. We had planned to do that last year but of course everything then went into lockdown and we weren't able to. So we decided to go this year. I wanted to go to Afflecks Palace and to show my mum around the Northern Quarter a little bit. So we set off and got to Manchester just before 11am. I dropped my water bottle on the way out and smashed it completely to bits, which I was really annoyed about. We parked anyway and went into Afflecks. 

We spent about an hour going round all the little shops inside. I bought some presents but not many, but it was really nice to look. I'll have to go back with Lee at some point. We went in the photo booth and took some photos, which I love! Then we were both hungry at 12, so decided to go to Turtle Bay for something to eat. 

I like it there because I know they have decent vegetarian choices, and my mum has been before and liked it. She's not been too well so needed something not too spicy, so she went for Mo' Bay Chicken which was a bit spicy in a nice cream sauce. I had sweetcorn fritters, mac n cheese bites, and a chickpea curry on roti. They were all so nice! I liked it. I also had an elderflower and cucumber cooler. 

The service was a bit rubbish but we left eventually and walked round to an RSPCA shop. I wanted some vintage teacups for friends but they didn't have any which surprised me. Then the parking was running out so we got in the car. We were planning to drive to near Albert Square to go to the Christmas markets. However, there's loads of roadworks going on in Manchester and we had to keep going the wrong way. It took half an hour but we managed to park, then tried to see where to walk.

We asked someone, and it turned out the markets weren't where they usually were, because of building work on the town hall?? This was really annoying because I'd been on the website about four times and it didn't say that - it wasn't obvious at all. We had lost about twenty minutes faffing round here, by which time it was nearly 3pm and I'd bought like two presents and so had my mum. We needed SHOPS. 

We decided to go to Chorlton. I had been recently with my friend and knew there were charity shops and maybe a shopping centre, so we headed there. I found some Secret Santa stuff and the teacups in the charity shops, and some chocolates I needed elsewhere. We got hot drinks from The Cocoa Tree (which is lovely, and which I recommend) and then my mum googled and saw that Stretford Mall wasn't too far away. So we headed there.

I managed to knock off quite a few presents there thanks to Boots and Peacocks and a couple of other places. It was getting on towards 5pm and traffic had been awful all day so we decided to not set off home straight away. We went in a couple more shops and then into Costa for a drink. It was about 6pm when we set off home, and we got back to my mum's about 7.15. It was a long and exhausting day and I'm sad we didn't get to see the Christmas markets, but it wasn't anyone's fault and we did still have a nice day. 

When I got home we were unpacking the bedroom stuff. We had a broken leaky radiator which was replaced while I was out, so we had had to move loads of things out of the way for the fitter. The carpet was really damp too, and while the radiator wasn't working the whole room was damp and cold constantly, so we hadn't changed the bedding either. I bought some new bedding recently at Skopos Mill in Batley, which has cactusses on! I also bought a new fitted sheet and under pillowcases, all for £35! So we changed the bed and it is lovely. 

The next day I managed to get most of the rest of the shopping done online - not ideal but needs must!

This pop up exhibition was in Afflecks, it included lots of photos taken in lockdown 

I liked it, I was glad to be able to see it

Elderflower cooler

Sweetcorn fritters

Chickpea curry

Mac n cheese bites - I love these!

This was in Stretford Mall at nearly 5pm

Photobooth photos, we got a set each because the machine prints out 12 

Cactus bedding! 

Jasmine approves of it

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

What I Wore 19th November

On the 19th of November I went over to my friend Gillian's house. We had decided to stay in so that her baby could have her toys and go to sleep if she needed to. Gillian said she would bake something and we decided to get sandwiches from a place near hers. I went down for them, I got Hunter's chicken panini for her and cheese ploughman's for me. It was lovely - served with coleslaw and salad. 

Gillian made white chocolate, raspberry and almond blondies for pudding - they tasted a bit like Bakewell tart and were absolutely delicious! Erin went to sleep so we chatted for ages, and then with her husband Tom when he came home too. He went and picked up their older child, Lily, and when she came home she wanted me to play with her and to look at her bedroom. I was very honoured, and looked at all her toys and precious things, and I was even allowed to cuddle her Clanger! I loved the Clangers! 

I didn't set off home until around 4pm, and when I got home Lee was ready to go out with me. We went to Art at the Altar, which is a craft fair held every December (except last year of course) in Penistone church. I've been a couple of times before and like to spend the money with local makers. It didn't take too long so afterwards we headed to Tesco. The one in Penistone is pretty big but not TOO big, and it has good vegetarian sections. I like to go in every now and then although Lee does the bulk of the food shopping, bless him. I chose some bits and bought myself a bottle of peach gin and a bottle of Baileys. I sat in the car while Lee finished off.

We got home and had stir fry for tea - fake chicken, broccoli, and a bag of stir fry vegetables, plus a sauce, and thin noodles, and vegetable spring rolls. It was so nice! 

I had been wearing my new Carolina Dress Room dress, which is a Mary Poppins pattern! I love it! I saw it and had to buy it immediately! Mary Poppins is one of my favourite films so I'm happy to have the dress.

Delicious blondies! 

Really good stir fry 

Mary Poppins dress!

And a close up of the pattern

Monday, January 24, 2022

Trip to Helmsley - Days 3 and 4

On the Sunday morning of our weekend away I had a shower in the fancy rainfall shower before getting ready and going downstairs. We didn't have breakfast because we'd booked for lunch out. We had asked Lee's mam and stepdad to come and meet us for lunch and I had looked at all the pubs and decided The Feathers had the best vegetarian choices, so I booked a table for all six of us. 

Bev and Gary arrived at our cottage at about 11.30 and we had a chat and a hot drink before heading over to the pub for 12.30. It happened to be the same chain as the one Lee and I ate in in Thirsk on Friday, which was nice. I had mozarella and tomato salad to start with and then roasted cauliflower and all the trimmings, which was lovely! We all had Sunday dinner except my stepdad and Lee, who both had fish and chips. Lee and I shared a mint chocolate sundae for pudding. 

After lunch Bev and Gary went straight back home as Gary was working later on, but it was really nice to see them. Bev had never been to Helmsley before and she really liked it and said they might go back with her sister and brother in law. It is a really lovely place, it's all close by and there's a ton of nice places to eat.

We went back to the cottage and did more relaxing. It was obviously getting dark early so it was nice to stay in and just chill out. I did some cross stitching and we played some games. 

On the Monday morning I suggested we go to La Trattoria for breakfast. It's an Italian cafe/restaurant, and they had excellent breakfast choices. Everyone agreed with me and it was a lovely end to the weekend. We left the cars outside the cottage and set off back about 11. We went straight to pick up the cats who were glad to be home! 

I was wearing a new pink skirt on the Sunday. It used to be a dress, but the lining didn't sit right on me and it exposed my bra, so I finally got round to asking my mum to make it into a skirt. She bought the gold glittery elastic while we were away camping in August, and I think it looks really nice, and looks good with a plain white t-shirt. 

I love tomato and mozarella salad, I often order it

I also really appreciate a decent vegetarian Sunday dinner. There were seasonal vegetables alongside too

Chocolate and mint sundae

This huge clock was on the wall in the cottage living room

Pink lace skirt and white top

We were hot when we went to bed so opened the windows, which was lovely because we could hear the stream rushing by!

And my breakfast of scrambled eggs and avocado on sourdough toast - delicious!

Saturday, January 22, 2022

Trip to Helmsley - Day 2

On the Saturday of our trip to Helmsley we had made plans to walk around the village, go in all the shops, maybe have a drink in a pub, and then have a takeaway for tea. This was one of the main reasons why we wanted to stay so close to the village centre - so we could walk in and not have to move the cars from in front of the cottage. We were staying on the High Street and it was indeed within walking distance to the market square. 

Lee and I made a cooked breakfast for everyone to start with. Bacon for my mum and stepdad, fake bacon for Lee and me, fried eggs, scrambled eggs, hash browns, beans, mushrooms and toast. It was so nice! Lee did most of it but I did scramble the eggs which were really nice. We finished that around 11.30 and got ready to go out. It wasn't too cold which was good, and it didn't rain on us either. 

There were a few shops just down the road from our cottage, opposite the church, so we went in those, and down as far as the bridge before crossing the bridge. There was a little fair on in the town hall, but not the bigger one that there's been on previous visits to Helmsley. Not to worry! We decided to go and have a drink so we went into Cafe Crema which is one of my favourite cafes in the town. 

Then we went into more shops, including the deli which I really like where we bought some Christmas presents. We went in the book shop and all the rest down that street. We had all noticed a new micro brewery at the bottom of the town, near the bridge we came in on, so we decided to go in for a drink. It's only got a few tables inside so we sat outside. There was a heater near the table and as I say, it wasn't cold, so we were all fine outside. I had a lovely strawberry gin and lemonade, my mum had one of those little bottles of prosecco, and my stepdad had a Helmsley bitter I think. It is a lovely little place and I'm glad we supported it!

We then went into the remaining shops up the right hand side of the square before calling it a day. It was about 4pm and my mum told Lee and I to go into the bakers and buy some cake to have with coffee. However, because it was late on, there wasn't much choice, so we also went into 42nd East Bakehouse on the way back to our cottage. It sells those massive ridiculous cookie cakes that are SO delicious, so we bought a chocolate chip cookie and a cookies and cream massive slice, and went back to the cottage.

I cut all the cakes into four so everyone could have exactly what they wanted. It was so nice! We played a game and did some quizzes, and then about 6.30 we ordered Indian food from a takeaway in the next vilalge along. There is an Indian in Helmsley but it didn't have very good vegetarian choices and the one in Beadlam did. We set off for it about 7.15 but they were so busy that it took nearly half an hour for it to be ready - I'm glad we ordered it early! I had paneer pakora and vegetable korma, both of which were really good and I'm glad I got them. Everyone else enjoyed their food too I think.

After tea we played more games. It was so nice to just chill and not have to go out anywhere. My mum and I shared a bottle of champagne that she bought me for my birthday in January 2021, I thought it would be nice to share it and it was indeed delicious! 

The view of the stream from our bedroom window

And the front of the cottage just as we were leaving, it was so cute

Walking along our street towards town, past the stream

Helmsley Castle - I've never actually been any closer than this to it

The stream goes all the way through the village

I love this little bridge - that's the town hall to the right of it

And I love how the backs of the buildings touch the water. I'm standing on the bridge here

Looking the other way

Strawberry milkshake in Cafe Crema

And a strawberry gin in Helmsley Brewery! I thoroughly recommend it

Lee and I sitting outside

Gin glass bigger than my face. I'm wearing my tie dyed hoodie from Yours Clothing

Walking back up into the village - I'd love one of these houses!

The market square

Ridiculous cakes from 42nd East, they were both delicious

And here I am with my champagne - cheers!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Trip to Helmsley - Day 1

Lee and I were lucky enough to get away again for a weekend in the middle of November. I know it's a privilege to be able to go away in the current climate, and I know we're lucky we've been able to avoid catching Covid. We went away in November 2019 to Grassington and had an absolutely brilliant time, so we had decided to go to Helmsley as it's also one of my favourite places in North Yorkshire. 

We booked the cottage, which slept 5 and had three bedrooms, absolutely ages ago, and we had asked my mum and stepdad to come with us. We said they could come for one, two, or all three nights. They decided to come for all three, which was great. Lee booked off Friday and Monday. On Friday morning he and I got ready, took the kittens to the cattery, and then set off about midday. We had decided to stop in Thirsk on the way, which is also a really nice market town and which we last visited in May on our way to Saltburn. 

It was lunchtime when we arrived and I really wanted chips, so we headed into The Golden Fleece which is right on the square. It is an old coaching inn and has rooms and a really big restaurant at the back, so we headed into there. I got a rarebit ciabatta and chips, and Lee got a tuna sandwich and chips I think. 

After lunch we walked round the square and went into a few shops, including all the charity shops. We bought a couple of things, but not much. Lee left me in a bus stop while he went into a record shop, by which time it was 3pm and I was cold, so I said we should have a drink before heading to Helmsley. We each had a hot chocolate in Yorks of Thirsk (confusing!) which was a nice cafe, I'll have to go back some time. 

We set off for Helmsley, going down Sutton Bank to do so. My mum was texting me so I thought they hadn't set off yet, but when we got to the cottage they were already there! They had stopped for a coffee hence her texting me (she usually drives). We got all our stuff sorted, unpacked all the food and got the wine chilling. The cottage was lovely - cosy living room, well equipped kitchen with table, downstairs loo (good for my disabled stepdad). Upstairs were three cosy bedrooms and a shower room. Outside it had two lovely seating spaces too, but it being November we didn't sit outside!

My mum had brought tea for us - of 'bits', which we all like and which included cheese, sausage rolls (meat and veggie), potato salad, hummus, and some bits cooked in the oven. It was really nice! We put music on on the TV (apparently the local TV mast had a fire and isn't mended, but there were streaming services and Spotify available!) and chilled out in the evening, drinking wine and chatting. It was a nice day!

Lee in the pub at lunchtime - the clock was wrong which really annoyed me!

Me in the pub

Lovely rarebit and chips with truffle oil and vegan mozarella 

While I was sitting in the bus stop - the pub is the white building there on the left

Overflowing hot chocolate!

Lee on the sofa

Lee took this of all of us

The garden by night


Sunday, January 16, 2022

My First Body Shop Stall

I got offered a last minute chance to do a Body Shop stall at Garforth in Leeds at the beginning of November. Someone else had booked it but couldn't make it, so I said I would. Lee was recording with his band so he couldn't come with me, but he helped me pack stuff up the night before. I took way too much stuff, but I didn't know how big the table would be or whether I would need to replace stuff if it sold. I was pleased with how my stall looked. The fayre was well attended and I spoke to a bunch of people. I sold some bits, which I was pleased about, but I definitely learnt a lot of stuff about doing a stall!

My mum and stepcousin came along for the last hour which was nice. They sat on my stall while I had a walk around. I bought some Christmas presents and some wax melts, which I'm sure you'll know that I love. I had a go on the tombola but didn't win anything. My mum and Nirosha didn't buy much but my mum won a couple of things on the tombola. They helped me pack up at 1pm and then we went to the service station on the motorway for some lunch. 

Because Lee was out all day I had asked my mum if I could go there all day and have tea with them and then stay over. She said yes of course, so after lunch we headed back to hers. We didn't do much in the afternoon, but it was nice to relax. Then my mum and Nirosha wanted to look at all my Body Shop stuff so I brought it in from the car and we went through it. They each bought some stuff. 

We had a roast for tea - well I had veggie sausages but all the trimmings - and then watched Strictly Come Dancing, which I don't usually watch at all but I didn't mind it. The snooker was on too, which my mum loves. We played a game too. It was nice to hang out with my stepcousin as I haven't seen her since 2019! 

I slept in late because I was really tired, so when I woke up everyone was gone, to church. I went out for lunch with Sam but I was unwell and ended up in bed for the rest of the day so I won't share that!

My stall looking bright and cheery I think! 

Going through everything with my mum and Niri later on!

Friday, January 14, 2022

Lunch in Manchester

At the beginning of November I went across to Manchester to see my friend Ingrid. I haven't seem them in forever, it must be over two years and longer than that since we had a proper conversation. So it was nice to have a drive over the tops and go to Chorlton. I managed to park on the road near the cafe where we were meeting, and went in. It was the Chapati Cafe, which Ingrid had suggested. It isn't huge but everything is homemade and very delicious.

I got three curries - a cabbage and carrot one, a dhal, and chilli paneer - on a bed of rice with tamarind and mint yoghurt across the top. I also ordered bhajiyas and vaada - potato balls - knowing I wouldn't eat them all and could bring some home. All the food was so good, I would highly recommend the place and it's pretty cheap too. I didn't eat all the snacks so did indeed get a box for them to bring home.

After lunch we went into Oxfam and another charity shop and they were both really good, I got some jigsaws for Lee for Christmas and some stuff for Secret Santas, all for about £17! 

I needed to leave around 2pm, but before I did, I went into The Cocoa Tree to get a hot chocolate to drive home with. My friend Amy said it was really nice and indeed it was - the hot chocolate was made with real chocolate and was really nice. The staff were lovely, too. I would go back and eat something there!

I got home around 3.30pm and sat for a little bit before I had to go out again - this time for my Covid booster jab. We had to go to the other side of Barnsley but once inside it was very well organised and moved quite quickly. I got all Pfizered up (I had AstraZeneca before) and had to wait for fifteen minutes afterwards but I felt fine. My arm very quickly got sore once I was home though, but I hope that that's all the side effects I have! I had my flu jab a couple of weeks before today, and that hurt for ages - it was so sore I couldn't sleep on it for about a week. So let's hope! 

Three curries on a bed of rice - so nice!

Hot chocolate with plenty of cream and marshmallows

All boosted up!