Sunday, 22 September 2013

Cheshire Food Festival

 Yesterday Me and the Mr headed off to this years Cheshire Food Festival. Held in the beautiful grounds of Arley Hall the festival brought together the Cheshire food community with a range of local suppliers and food vendors (@cheshirefoodfest).

The first stop was obviously the bar where we selected two of the finest Real Ales from the local Tatton Brewery (

I choose a delicious honey ale called Lazy Haze

While Pete opted for a Blonde Ale

As expected both went down very nicely as we wondered around the festival in search of all the best goodies on offer.

If your a conniseur of anything sweet this is definately the place to be. Amongst huge Cupcake competition we opted for some beauties from Emerald City Cupcakes ( Oreo and Millionaire Shortbread flavours to be precise.

Another gem at the festival was a pop up tea shop called Polly the Vintage Caravan (

Operating out the back of a retro caravan the ladies serve up delicious afternoon tea and other goodies in pretty vinatge tea cups and plates. Delicious, elequent and perfect for event's such as weddings this was my favourite stop.

We also sampled some delicous chocolate from a selection at Koko Noirs store (

And smpled some lovely Courgette, Mushroom & Rosemary Artisan Pizza by Fire & Slice before heading off to watch Abode Manchester Chef Bryn Evans give a three course cookery demonstration. 

A perfect day out with great food and company I would recommend that you head down your local food festival and enjoy what it has to offer, I know I did. 


Friday, 20 September 2013

Amsterdam Weekend Break


I recently visited Amsterdam for a cheeky weekend city break! I’ve never visited but have heard many a drunken story from guys I know that have been on the obligatory Stag do so wasn’t sure what to expect. I can confirm that Amsterdam is a city with so much more to offer then just the seedy side of the Red Light district.
Sure there are the scantily clad women in the windows and the groups of rowdy men dressed in super hero costumes getting drunk outside some British pub, but there is also a plethora of art galleries, fabulous cuisine and cool little districts to visit.

My boyfriend and I stayed in The Westcord Fashion Hotel (, situated not far from the airport it is around a ten minute tram journey into Amsterdam. I highly recommend this hotel. The rooms are spacious and nicely decorated, they have a fab Sky bar and Wellness centre and the staff are beyond friendly and helpful. They even left us a bottle of Prosecco and some other goodies to help celebrate our anniversry.

Our first day centred around the art scene. I’m a sucker for modern art and Amsterdam has plenty to offer. I f your a gallery goer I would recommend buying a I am Amsterdam card ( from the tourist centre by Central Station. The card cost’s around 50 euro’s for 48 hours but gives you access to loads of galleries and museums, free tram and bus travel and discounts in lots of restaurants and shops. We started our day at The Eye Film Institute which had a fab exhibition on Federico Fellini. Be sure also to visit the basement to experience the interactive pods.

Amsterdam also has a strong street art community and NDSM Wharf  (take the free ferry from behind Central Station) had been recommended to us as a must visit area for checking out some of the best street art around. We were not let down as the area is packed with cool graffiti art adorning  disused buildings and nice little art galleries where you can check out some new artists work.
 Don’t miss the brilliant Noorderlicht cafe where you can grab a beer and some of the best Nacho’s I’ve ever tasted, while looking out over the bay back towards central Amsterdam.


Other highlights include Foam, a small photography gallery with some excellent exhibits including one on Duffy’s photo’s of Mr Bowie and The Stedelijk, a huge modern art gallery that had some amazing modern art pieces.

We also visited the famous Pancake Bakery, though at 27 euro’s for two pancakes and two coffee’s I would probably give this a miss and dine al fresco at one of the lovely cafe’s (not Coffeshop!) dotted all around Amsterdam.

 Day Two saw us discover some fantastic shop’s and restaurants. Firstly you must go and have a look in The Otherist, a quirky little interiors shop that sell’s everything you never realised you wanted.


Dome with a rabbit skull in for instance.


Purchasing some very cool illustrated postcards we let our noses lead us to the delectable Puccini, a chocolate shop to die for. Just the smell is enough to get your mouth watering! With an interesting range of flavours we opted for a cranberry and white chocolate vanilla duo, among a couple of others (please note only two made it into the photo before we snaffled them)!


Finally if your looking for a fab place to eat visit Max Amsterdam, a indonesian fusion restaurant in the back streets. If your in doubt just look at the reviews in Trip Advisor, this place really is a gem of a restaurant. We tried the sample menu which was very resonable for the price:


Pancetta and asparagus salad


and Scallops in a creamy vanilla and cinamon sauce


Followed by the most tender lamb in a spiced sauce


and Sea Bass in a lemograss sauce with coconut rice. The food was so good we didn’t want it to end!

All in all Amsterdam is a wonderful place to visit and I would recommend it to anyone. P.S. I wish I’d kidnapped this cat and snook him home on the plane with me!


An Arty Day in Manchester

I absolutely love to mooch around Art Galleries at the weekend, unfortunately in sunny North Wales we are sadly short of such places. So bored of the monotony I headed off to Manchester for the night to visit my fave gallery there – The Manchester Art Gallery (
The gallery houses over 25,000 pieces of artwork dating back as far as the 16th Century. I’m more of a Modern Art girl myself and while I can appreciate the skill involved in these paintings I tend to bypass the fine art in favour of the modern.


The Manchester Art Gallery never lets me down. There are always a couple of brilliant visiting exhibitions to peruse. One of these was ‘The Tallest of Tales’ by Alison Erika Forde, a collection of painting’s and installations inspired by fairy tales. My favourite was the fairytale house with a dainty doll lamp inside (picture below).

I also absolutely adore the surrealist ‘The Living Tree’ by Marion Adams. She placed unrelated objects with the painting to create a perculiar realtionship and play with scale in a surrealist manner.

Even my five-year-old son Riley seemed to be enjoying the gallery and it’s exhibit’s but the best was yet to come with the ‘Do It’ exhibition. Situated on the third floor it is an evolving exhibition created from a series of instructions written by artists. An eclectic mix of things for you to do at the gallery and at home, the instructions range from the active to the absurd to the philosophical.


Initiated by curator Hans Ulrich Obrist with artists Christian Boltanski and Bertrand Lavier 20 years ago, do it has been enacted in 50 different places, making it the widest-reaching and longest running ‘exhibition in progress’ ever to occur.

To celebrate its 20th anniversary, and in homage to the original idea, this new exhibition premieres 70 brand new instructions. It brings together artists from the first do it experiments with a new generation of contemporary artists from Ai Weiwei and Adrian Piper to Tracey Emin and Richard Wentworth.


The exhibition is both inspiring and fun. Two of my favourites were Lygia Pape’s 2002 ‘Good Blood’ (above) and Yoko Ono’s ‘Wishing Tree’ (below). ‘Good Blood’ is an installation that instructs you to seat two people on the chairs provided and give each a blood red ice cube to hold. The first cube to melt will signify who is the good blood.


Yoko Ono’s ‘Wishing Tree’ is one of my favourites. I have seen it previously in the sculpture garden at the Guggenheim in Venice and love that it shares individuals secret wishes with the world, signifying happiness and hope.


I particularly liked the wish above which brought a huge smile to my face!

After around 2 hours in the gallery we unfortunately had to leave to seek out Dinosaur’s in The Manchester Museum (Riley’s request) but I could have spent longer here and cannot reccommend it highly enough for anyone who appreciates art. Families are more than catered for and kids will love the interative ‘Do It’ exhibition so catch it while you can (ending Sunday 22nd September). And remember to donate some pennies before you leave as the gallery is free and I’m sure we all want to keep it that way!

Thursday, 19 September 2013

The Floating City

I’ve always longed to visit Venice – the floating city and embodiment of romance!

Earlier this year I finally got the oppurtunity when my lovely boyfriend whisked me off there for a couple of nights as a special 30th Birthday present. We were lucky enough to stay in the glamorous Ca’Sagredo situated right on the grand canal ( ( Lying between Ca’D'oro and the Rialto Bridge, Ca’Sagredo is a beautiful 15th Century Palace originally built by Morosini Family and now lovingly transformed into a plush and luxury 5 star hotel.


Nominated for Conde Nast Traveler for this year’s ‘Gold List’ as soon as you enter the grand building you can see why! There are frescoes on the walls, marble staircases and ornate furniture and sculptures. It took my breath away and I couldn’t quite believe that I would be staying in this glamorous former palace.


The staff are extremely and conscientious and gave us a tour of the hotel before showing us to our luxurious suite. I must say the best parts of the stay by far were the snuggly bathrobes and the amazing view from the window.


It was late so after a delicious meal of Gnocchi in one of the best pesto’s I have ever tasted and succulent Calamari we hit the sack eager to be  fresh for the next days adventures. Waking up on the Grand Canal in Venice is truly a magical experience. After sampling some yummy breakfast and Prosecco (it’s never too early for Prosecco in Italy darling) we jumped onto a waterbus at the nearby Ca’D'oro stop and headed out to see what wonders Venice had to offer.


We decided it would be an absolute sin not to have a wonder around the infamous Rialto Market so hopped off over the way to see was being sold and generally soak up the atmosphere of the bustling market. Rialto Market is a brilliant place to wonder around for an hour. The seafood is spectacular as well as the abundance of fresh fruit, veg and herbs also on offer.

Deciding a cultural hit was required we headed off to The Guggenheim (


Located in Peggy Guggenheim’s former home, Palazzo Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand Canal in Venice, the museum housesa huge collection of European and American Modern Art from the first half of the 20th Century. The pieces on display including the Hannelore B. and Rudolph B. Schulhof Collection & the Gianni Mattioli Collection are amazing but my favourite section of the museum by far was the Nasher Sculpture Garden (seen above). Complete with sculptures and installations the garden is a lovely place to while away some time. My favourite installation was the 2003 Wish Tree created by none other than Yoko Ono. I loved seeing the wishes of people from all over the world hanging delicately on the branches, just waiting to be granted and couldn’t resist hanging one of my own!


After a delicious evening meal (ask for recommendations from locals, such as Water Taxi Drivers) we headed back to the hotel to enjoy a bottle of red and rest our weary legs.


The next day we headed for the obligatory St Peters Square, visiting the ridiculousy ornate (we’re talking gold ceilings people) Basilica and Doge’s Palace. The palazzo is breathtaking but don’t under any circumstances go for a coffee! We are talking big bucks. Instead grab a delicious from a cake from a local bakery and enjoy the scenery.


From there we headed off to the Island of Murano, world famous for it’s glass. We wandered the streets nipping into shops and galleries and watched some extremely complicated pieces being blown. Murano is a must see in my opinion, but remember to talk some Euro’s to bring back your own little piece of artwork. Impressive scultptures appear around every corner and lovely little tavern’s and restaurants are waiting to be discovered.


Heading back to mainland (so to speak) we explored all the little streets and bridges that make up Venice and enjoyed looking at the love locks left on numerous bridges symbolising lovers eternal committment to each other.

My verdict on Venice is that it is everything I had ever imagined, beautiful and romantic. I can’t wait to go back, maybe Carnival next time tho – there’s a hint to the Boyfriend! :-)