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17.1.17

Travel: SHREWSBURY - Where To Visit, Stay, Eat and Drink

visit-shrewsbury-river-walk

Recently I worked on a post with Original Shrewsbury. They organised for me to go on a weekend press trip to Shrewsbury and discover what it has to offer. 

Shrewsbury is a quirky town packed full of genuine one-offs, independent shops and cool cocktail bars – great for a short break in an eccentric and buzzing medieval town nestled in the heart of the Shropshire countryside. The town center itself is packed with timber-framed black and white buildings, steep narrow streets and alleyways. 

Shrewsbury is home to many crisscrossing medieval streets, the river Severn forms a loop around the town center offering gentle riverside walks,  a myriad of boutique shops to explore and even a cinema in an ancient elevated market hall. 

Where To Stay - Darwin's Townhouse


We made our trip towards the end of November, on the run up to Christmas so knew we were in for a treat because Shrewsbury town would have just put their Christmas lights up. 

For the duration of our stay, we were eloping to Darwin's Townhouse, one of Shrewsbury's newest boutique hotels in the heart of the town center. With 20 perfectly sized rooms, we were excited for our bed and breakfast experience within this charming Grade 2 listed, Georgia townhouse.

Did you know Charles Darwin was born in the town?

Our room was located in the main house, a beautifully appointed deluxe room with a king size bed overlooking the immaculate gardens. All rooms feature creature comforts and bold tributes to Charles Darwin himself, ours, in particular, featured a rustic wooden map and framed parrots above our bed.

Upon arrival we were in awe, this beautiful three-storey townhouse felt like a home from home. With a huge circling staircase and a homely living room full of plush sofas and a huge Christmas tree stocked with presents, I was wondering when I could move in!?

With a fireplace beautifully decorated with festive holly sprigs, warming lights and bold red stockings we immediately felt like it was Christmas time. We checked in our bags, oohed and ahhed at the room then quickly wrapped up in our warmest attire for a quick evening walk around the town to see the Christmas lights.

One of the main reasons we loved our trip to Shrewsbury so much was because it was the first moment we both actually acknowledged that if felt like it was soon to Christmas time and immediately felt excited for the Christmas period ahead!

I urge anyone visiting Shrewsbury to pick Darwin's Townhouse as your bed and breakfast of choice. Deluxe rooms ranging from £75-£110 per night.

More to come on our stay in this charming and quaint Georgian townhouse, but for now feast your eyes on their website: http://www.darwinstownhouse.com/


Darwin’s Townhouse: 37 St Julian's Friars, Shrewsbury, Shropshire SY1 1XL. Tel: 01743 343829

darwins-townhouse-visit-shrewsbury
darwins-townhouse-at-christmas
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Where To Eat - House of The Rising Sun

If your dining in Shrewsbury, it's cobbled streets are packed with quirky places to eat from cool cafes to one-off delis.

On an evening there's a host of bars and restaurants to choose from, for us, Original Shrewsbury organised us to dine at House of The Rising Sun, an enticing fusion restaurant doused in a mix of oceanic blue hues and timeless timber tones which provided a sumptuous and luxurious atmosphere to enjoy a fusion of global dining.

The menu itself offers a tapas-style menu; modern Australian cuisine combines Pacific Rim flavours, mixed with Indonesian and South East Asian influences. As you can imagine there is lots of choice on offer with "around the world dining" delivered straight to your plate.

A separate post is to come all about our tapas experience at House of the Rising Sun, complete with lots and lots of pictures to make you very jealous (and very hungry), but for now, why not drool over the tempting menu - http://www.hotrs.co.uk/

The tempura pork belly with smoked apple ketchup (£7.00) with a perfectly light and crispy batter was a favourite dish of mine!

House of the Rising Sun, 18 Butcher Row, SY1 1UW. Tel: 01743 588040


cocktails-at-house-of-the-rising-sun
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thai-tapas-food-HOTRS


Where To Eat Sunday Lunch - The Loopy Shrew

On Sunday we were booked in for a late lunch at The Loopy Shrew - a wine bar, coffee bar, restaurant, and boutique hotel. 

The Loopy Shrew is a family-run business located in the heart of the town. It is actually the sister restaurant to Darwin's Townhouse. 

Bearing in mind we had a big breakfast at Darwin's House on Sunday morning so I knew I would still be struggling for room around 3 pm, however, was determined to sample some of the nibbles on offer at the loopy shrew. 

Alex was able to stomach a HUGE roast dinner (which looked absolutely delicious), whereas, I decided to stay small with Loopy's famous scotch egg served with piccalilli and herb salad (£6) and a side of sweet potato fries with aioli (£3.50).  The scotch egg was just what I needed with a perfectly oozy egg and piccalilli with a punch. 

Whether you want to slouch in a comfy armchair with a glass of wine or enjoy a three-course meal in the dining area, The Loopy Shrew caters for all occasions.

More to come on our cosy lunch here in a post soon, for now, check out the website: http://www.loopyshrew.com/ - they offer boutique rooms also!


The Loopy Shrew, 17 Bellstone, SY1 1HU


the-loopy-shrew-shrewsbury
the-loopy-shrew-sunday-lunch

Where To Visit - Shrewsbury 

The Quarry Park

Down towards the River Severn, you'll find Shrewsbury's Quarry Park which is packed full of petals and open parkland – there are 23 acres in total. The main attraction of the Quarry Park is the Dingle: a sunken garden designed by Percy Thrower. 

The best part is the relaxing riverside walk, which loops the tower center. On Sunday morning we went for a relaxing riverside stroll after we checked out of Darwin's Townhouse. The riverside was littered with dog-walkers - we always love meeting a local pooch and stopping for a friendly stroke. Once we had walked enough of the riverside we then made our way towards the town center. 


shrewsbury-quarry-park

Shopping

Shrewsbury’s secret ‘shuts and passages’ (the crooked medieval alleyways), cobbled streets and squares make shopping pretty unpredictable. Shopping here is really rather special because the independents outnumber the chains, so you can find everything from handmade goods to vintage pieces. If you head on up towards Wyle Cop you'll encounter a variety of retro shops alongside cutting edge couture – an uninterrupted row of more than 50 independent retailers!

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(*)  This post was in collaboration with Original Shrewsbury who organised a press trip for me to explore the town. All food, drink, and accommodation was provided on a complimentary basis in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All opinions expressed here are my own (*)
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4.1.17

Food & Drink: Autumn/Winter Menu at Strada, Horsham

christmas decorations in strada horsham
newly refurbished strada horsham
arancini with melting mozzarella strada
antipasti for one
autumn winter menu at strada
creamy chicken casarecce strada autumn winter menu
seafood linguine italian food
homemade pancotta with winter berries dessert
huge tiramusu at strada in horsham









Fancy a taste of authentic Italian cuisine? 

Recently I was asked to review my local Strada restaurant, in Horsham’s popular East Street which has recently undergone a refurbishment.

The recent renovation has included the introduction of modern hanging lighting, fresh furniture and new classy neutral colour scheme throughout. When I visited in November it felt very festive because they had also added holly and berry garland around the individual quirky lighting pieces.

The restaurant boasts a new contemporary look, however still boasts the warmth and vibrancy that embodies all things, Strada. To be honest the recent decor up-lift now makes the restaurant even more inviting. The main reason for a visit to my local Strada this time around was to review the recently introduced autumn/winter menu, which features an array of comforting options for all Italian food lovers.

For starters, we had Arancini (£5.95); if you are not familiar with these little balls of delight it is basically Crispy rice balls stuffed with melting mozzarella. The arancini at Strada is served with a spicy tomato passata and sprinkled on top is aged Parmesan.

As well as sneakily stealing an arancini ball or two from my plate, Alex had a small Antipasti (£6.45) which was served on a classic wooden board with Prosciutto, Spianata piccante, salami Napoli, mortadella, baby mozzarella, semi-dried tomatoes, avocado, bread, and olives.

For mains, I had the Creamy Chicken Casarecce (£11.95) with pan-roasted chicken in a mushroom and tarragon sauce with lemon, garlic, parsley and Parmesan. Again, really not my usual choice, but I wanted to step out of my comfort zone and choose something different. 

Personally, I've never been a big fan of mushroom, mainly due to their harsh texture, however, I do quite like the taste of creamy mushroom sauce so thought the chicken casarecce dish would be a good choice. 

Alex had the Seafood Linguine (£12.95) - Passata and white wine sauce with tiger prawns, fresh mussels, capers, a little chili and fresh parsley.

Next time I’d love to try the Risotto Luganica (£12.25) with herby spiced Luganica meatballs, pancetta, chestnut mushrooms, fresh herby breadcrumbs, and Parmesan. Doesn't it sound delicious? I'll definitely be heading back soon to try this out.

For dessert, it had to be the Pannacotta (£5.45)Smooth and creamy and served with smashed honeycomb and fresh berry compote. Alex had the classic Tiramisu (£5.45) - your typical Italian dessert with layers of espresso soaked sponge and sweet mascarpone with a dusting of cocoa.

Dessert was my favourite course out of the three, usually, a dessert course would be my last choice, I’d always choose a savoury option to start over something sweet to finish. However, the vanilla pannacotta was absolutely delicious, very creamy and super indulgent. It is one of the only desserts which is handmade on site and you can really tell by the freshness.  

Horsham
West Sussex
RH12 1HH


To make a reservation, call to book: 01403 248887


(*) The food and drink at Strada Horsham were provided on a complimentary basis in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All opinions expressed here are my own (*)
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31.12.16

Travel: Exploring The #UnexpectedCanaries With Inntravel

exploring the #unexpectedcanaries with inntravel
gran canaria in the canary islands


Recently I was contacted by Inntravel - a travel company who specialises in "slow holidays", in particular, holidays which reveal the lesser-taken path and offer a truly individual holiday experience. Inntravel is currently promoting their holidays to the Canary Islands and in particular, the newly added La Palma Volcanic Trail walking holiday - a self guided hotel-to-hotel walking holiday exploring the dramatic landscapes and creative cuisines of La Palma. 
As an avid traveler and a frequent visitor to the canary islands, I have visited 3 of the 7 islands, Fuerteventura twice, Tenerife twice and Gran Canaria. I must admit, most of these breaks have been taken while partying the night away in my early twenties or in aid of a romantic break away with my other half, so admittedly these trips wouldn't have naturally involved taking the 'slower route'. Some elements of these trips did involve exploring the varied landscapes of the canary islands in more detail, for example, I visited the famous sand dunes while in Furteventura, however, I know there is much much more to these islands than the eye can see. 

For the #UnexpectedCanaries campaign, Inntravel wanted me to create a post about my previous experiences in the Canary islands and explore how I could have benefited from taking the slower route and really immersing myself in all of the beautiful surroundings these famous spanish islands (Gran Canaria, Fuerteventura, Lanzarote, La Palma, Tenerife, El Hierro and La Gomera) have to offer. 

blue water in the canary islands
holidays in the canary islands
The Canary Islands are known for boasting some of the most varied landscapes in the world, for example, did you know that Gran Canaria is covered in emerald pine forests and chestnut groves? Or that it is dotted with reservoirs and shrubs? Me neither!
canary islands map inntravel
The seven Canary Islands

Don't get me wrong, where we visited in Gran Canaria was beautiful, however, we mainly stuck to our resort in Melanores - our hotel boasted seven pools and four restaurants. We wanted to get away from reality to enjoy lazing by the pool and frankly enjoyed the idea of doing very little but did venture out to the southwest side of the island to explore the picturesque fishing village of Puerto Mogan. 

However, these areas are still known for being very touristy, so if I was to go back I would make sure to venture somewhere different, for example, the vineyard country, around Tafira, where the Caldera de Bandama sits, a blowout crater that the adventurous walker can descend on foot into, to search out the oldest and most difficult wine-presses on the island. Walking this area would definitely allow for a slower route and a more immerse holiday. 

Another island I've always been keen to visit is La Palma, known to be the steepest island on the planet and the most water-rich of all the Canary Islands. Fortunately, this heart-shaped island has managed to keep itself far below the radar of mass tourism, allowing retention of its strong culture and traditions. It is said that many breathtaking landscapes await for those who are willing to uncover and explore them! 

You can read more about my previous travels to Gran Canaria here: 


(*) This blog was a sponsored post in collaboration with Inntravel (*)

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21.12.16

Food & Drink: Festive Christmas Cocktails at Dirty Martini, Clapham

 mince chai cocktail dirty martini
christmas cocktails at dirty martini
sticky toffee fizz christmas cocktail dirty martini
rightupmystreet food blogger
vegetarian sharing platter at dirty martini
christmas menu at dirty martini in clapham
sampling christmas cocktails at clapham's dirty martini
Recently I was invited back to one of my favourite cocktail bar chains in London, Dirty Martini to try out their range of festive cocktails on offer to celebrate the Christmas period. 

This time I chose to visit the Dirty Martini branch situated amongst the buzz of Clapham high street as this is the branch that is a little closer to home for me. 

This Christmas 2016, Dirty Martini have put together a unique Christmas cocktail menu consisting of 5 festive cocktail choices; Sticky toffee fizz, mince chai, Christmas cheer, ambrosia martini and a Quince & Walnut Old Fashioned. 

We started the night by trying a Sticky Toffee Fizz which is made with Captain Morgan Spiced Rum which is shaken with PatrĂ³n XO Cafe Tequila, caramel syrup & Bitter Truth Pimento Dram liqueur and then topped with Prosecco. My favourite part about this cocktail was the sticky toffee rim which added a sweet kick to every sip! 

Next, we moved onto the Mince Chai - formed by mixing Bold London Spirit, Bitter Truth Pimento Dram & gingerbread syrup are both shaken with homemade chai tea syrup, pressed apple juice, citric acid, egg white & a dash of Fee Brothers Cherry Bitters. We both really enjoyed this cocktail - the gingerbread and chai tea syrup mix were a great flavour combination. 

A festive suggestion - why not serve a mince pie on the side?

Christmas Cheer - Bols Genever, Tanqueray Gin & Cherry Heering liqueur are shaken with raspberry syrup, Luxardo Maraschino cherry liqueur, pomegranate juice & a dash of orange bitters. Personally, we felt this cocktail offered a flavour more suited to a mature palette and arrived in a glass which could be described as a "sherry fit for Santa Claus".

We both agreed that the Sticky Toffee Fizz cocktail was our favourite from this refined Christmas cocktail menu. 

For nibbles to compliment the sweet cocktail selection usually I would opt for the Distinctively Dirty sharing platter (£15.95) mainly for the delicious signature beef and cheese sliders, however I was with my friend who is a vegetarian so we chose the vegetarian sharing platter (£14.95) which consists of; Mac & cheese bites, crispy vegetable dumplings with sesame dipping sauce, grilled halloumi, vegetable & pesto kebabs, Korean vegetable samosas, grilled flatbreads with mint yoghurt, spinach & Italian cheese dips. 

The mac and cheese bites were my favourite nibble on the veggie platter! 

I'm a big fan of the Dirty Martini cocktail chain as I'm sure you'll have noticed from my many previous visits to the Islington branch, the Bishopsgate launch party, and the Hanover Square branch

Last minute Christmas shopping in London? 

Why not make a quick pit-stop at one of Dirty Martini's 8 central London locations. Most branches have an extensive happy hour from 4-9pm most days of the week - you really must treat yourself to one of their tempting, unique cocktail creations and why not have a nibble and a natter over a sharing platter while you are at it.. one word of advice; the chocolate martini is to die for!

Dirty Martini Clapham
67 Clapham High Street
London,
SW4 7TG

Nearest tube station: Clapham Common or Clapham North 


(*) The food and drink at Dirty Martini Clapham were provided on a complimentary basis in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All opinions expressed here are my own (*)
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1.12.16

Travel: Burley Manor, Nestled Within The New Forest

boutique manor crown room at burley manor hotel
view across the deer park from our bedroom
retro DAB radio burley manor
luxury four poster bed
free standing in room bath tub
countryside retreat
complimentary temple spa goodies
luxury breaks in the new forest
luxury plush bedding burley manor
please put your hand in the cookie jar
a break in the new forest
breakfast conservatory at burley manor
new forest breakfast at burley manor
burley manor new forest hotel
luxury hotels in the new forest

Grounds

Burley Manor is located just outside the picturesque village of Burley on the outskirts of the New Forest, directly accessible from the M27.

The historic grade II listed building dates back to 1852 and is surrounded by beautiful New Forest countryside and a red deer sanctuary sits directly to the front of the hotel.

When you visit the New Forest there is a group of around 3000 locals that you really can't ignore, and no, I'm not talking about the people! If you ever visited before you'll know that as soon as your car is greeted by the metal grids on the road, your in for a treat!

Let's just say the New Forest is like experiencing a safari, right here in the UK, however with only one predominant species - horses, who roam free, everywhere and I mean everywhere, make sure you drive slowly around the villages because there might just be one standing outside the local newsagents.

The hotel compromises 40 rooms and suites which are spread across the original Grade II-listed main manor house and the modern garden wing which houses the rooms and suites with outdoor verandas. If you are a dog owner, you'll be pleased to know this is where you can stay with your furry four-legged friend!

Within the hotel gardens, for guests, there is also the luxury of an outdoor heated swimming pool which is open from June to September. One minor downside about visiting the hotel out of season!

Room

Our Manor Crown Suite was situated within the main manor building itself, individually designed for indulgence and relaxation. It was a striking room with nature-inspired colours throughout - dark, carved wood across the wardrobe, dressing table and bed posts.

Bold fabrics feature throughout, I particularly loved the bold floral curtains which spanned the length of the bay window. Other unique features included the four-poster bed and free-standing roll-top bath tub.

The room was extremely spacious with a couple of armchairs, a dressing table, large wardrobe, rustic countryside trunk and generous extra touches included a glass jar of homemade cookies and complimentary temple spa goodies.

If this wasn't enough, the room also features a power shower (as well as the lavish free standing roll top bath directly in our bedroom), a top quality Hypnos bed with sumptuous bedding, a generous supply of tea, coffee and biscuits, complimentary Wi-Fi, DAB radio and fluffy bathrobes and slippers.

A stand-out feature of the bedrooms within the main house is their clear eye for detail, while carefully ensuring retention of the manors historic charm, now combined with a mix of antique furniture and modern comforts.

As we visited in the autumn season, around the 5th November (Bonfire night), we were also lucky to be able to have a first-hand view direct from our bedroom window of the bonfire which the hotel had set up outside the front of the building. The bonfire oozed a warm and comforting sight from our bedroom window before dinner.

Treatment Rooms

Although small in its offering, the Burley Manor is also able to offer a range of luxurious and indulgent treatments with Temple Spa products, again inspired by the Meditteranean. It is apparent from the spa menu that treatments have been carefully selected to compliment the hotel theme throughout and most importantly leave you feeling refreshed long after you leave the comfort of the treatment rooms.

During my stay I was offering a complimentary treatment from this menu, which was lovely as it allowed me to extend a little bit of pampering time across the week, as well as a moment to sit, relax, simply sit back, do nothing and re-energise.

I chose the Spa Manicure - designed to leave your hands and fingertips looking elegant and feeling oh so good, which is exactly what I needed. A lovely little extra of the manicure was that after choosing the nail treatment colour I was then able to keep and take the remaining bottle of Nail Polish home with me!

Explore all of the spa treatments on offer here.

Dining

Again addressing the theme throughout, the restaurant at Burley Manor takes its inspiration from the Mediterranean, with bold flavours expressed across vibrant and rustic dishes.

Their Med-inspired dishes follow the seasons while allowing nature to take a leading role in the menu. Ingredients are still sourced locally, however, prepared simply with the help of their wood-fire oven to ensure each flavour is carefully drawn out.

I wanted to talk about our dinner in the restaurant in a separate post, watch this space! 

For more information see below: 

Burley Manor Hotel
Ringwood Road 
Burley
New Forest
Hampshire
BH24 4BS
https://www.burleymanor.com/

To make a reservation call Burley Manor on 01425 403522. Doubles from £139, B&B. Dogs welcome.

(*) My overnight stay, dinner and spa treatment at Burley Manor Hotel were provided on a complimentary basis in exchange for an honest review on my blog. All opinions expressed here are my own (*)
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