Turkey Burger Special at All Star Lanes, Manchester

I’m not a fan of a work Christmas do. Being a manager of a team means I’d have to stay relatively sober and working outside of the City means they are never easy to get to. The main downside of this is the lack of turkey dinners I end up with over the festive period. Christmas dinner is my favourite meal of the year and I’d like to repeat it as much as possible. With that in mind I was extremely excited to go to All Star Lanes and try their turkey burger special.

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Looks quite humble really doesn’t it? Turkey and pork & sage stuffing has been shaped into a patty before being breaded and deep fried. Add to that Monterey jack cheese, porter cured bacon and cranberry sauce before stuffing into a bun with a the mandatory lettuce, onion and tomato. Phew! All Star Lanes have moved away from brioche in favour of American style bread buns instead and I think it really makes a difference here as the brioche would have made this overly sweet. The patty was juicy and not at all dry like turkey can be with a lovely kick of spice from the stuffing. The bacon was crisp whilst the cheese and cranberry together created a sweet yet creamy topping.

Despite the burger looking a fairly reasonable size here it was huge and I only managed a couple of my sweet potato fries before having to admit defeat. The added sauce also made it incredibly messy and I had cranberry sauce running down my arms at one point. It is a good job I wasn’t on a date, elegant is definitely something this burger is not!

You can get your mitts, which will be grubby when you finish, on one until 24th December. Make sure you go hungry!

Whilst I’m writing about All Star Lanes I thought I’d mention that we also signed up to the high roller club. It is free to join and entitles you to 20% off food and drink during your visit. You also get a free cocktail when you activate your membership. Considering I’m not a fan of bowling you will find me in the corner drinking my discounted cocktails whilst friends are getting strikes.

My turkey burger special was provided for free for the purpose of this review. All drinks consumed on the night were paid for.

Fashion: Easy Outfits For Work With Lorraine Loves

When it comes to work wear I am all about ease. I much prefer an extra ten minutes in bed to searching in my wardrobe trying to find tops and skirts that match. To combat this I tend to live in dresses that can be worn with thick black tights and a cardigan in the winter or on their own in the summer. Here are a few things that I have been wearing recently.

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Dress – Lorraine Loves for JD Williams
Tights – Marks and Spencer

I love that this dress comes in different lengths so if you prefer them slightly longer you have that option. This dress is available in red or black and is described as being a jersey dress. I wouldn’t say it is jersey material as it isn’t cotton or wool which are the two fabrics I would associate with something described as jersey. Because the dress is made predominantly of polyester it is fairly thin and clings to my tights quite a lot hence the fairly unflattering picture above. If nothing else this reminds me that I need to get back into the gym and on healthy eating again! That said it washes well and just needs a quick rub over with the iron to be ready to wear again. It costs £30 which I think is a fair price.

These tights are my absolute favourite despite the hefty £12 price tag. They are 100 denier with bodyshaper technology though so I think it is worth it! I own about 5 pairs and wear them nearly every day in the winter as they really keep my legs warm.

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Poncho – Lorraine Loves for JD Williams
Leggings – Mint Vintage
Pumps – Forever 21
Handbag – Mulberry

I’m quite lucky that my work dress code is smart casual. I love this aubergine coloured poncho as it is so easy to throw on over the top of a fitted t shirt or vest top. There is a PU trim detail around the arms and the neck has a side button fastening. I like the detail although this does gape slightly, I wonder if there needs to be another button or if the buttons need to be better aligned.

I first saw these leggings at the John Lewis personal shopper launch and loved them. They are thick with slight ruching around the ankle and at £15 are an absolute steal. I now own three pairs and have just noticed they have also done them in charcoal. That’ll be on the list next time I am at the Trafford Centre!

These pumps saved me from severe pain one day when I stupidly wore heels to the Trafford Centre for the evening. They are quilted so a bit different to standard black pumps and they are so comfy I wear them far too often. I had to buy a size bigger though but then I do have wide feet.

So there you have it! Two outfit ideas that are easy to wear to the office. I thought Lorraine Loves for JD Williams would be far too old fashioned for me but there are some good staple pieces that are ideal for the office. What sort of things do you wear for work? I’d love some new inspiration!

Lorraine Loves for JD Williams items provided for review purposes. All over items were paid for in full.

 

Beauty Review: Eye Of Horus Goddess Pencil

When it comes to eyeliner I stick to what I know. I always wear black and use a fine pen liner by Kat Von D when I have been able to get it from America and Chanel le crayon khol for my lower lash line thanks to its soft texture. A few weeks ago I was asked to review an Eye of Horus scarab sapphire goddess pencil. The dark blue colour isn’t something that I would usually choose with having brown eyes but I was happy to give it a run for its money.

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The Eye of Horus eye make up range takes its inspiration from ancient Egyptian formulas and use essential oils in the products for their amazing benefits. The goddess pencils are paraben free and not tested on animals. They contain natural waxes which are kinder to the eye and also last longer on the skin.

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At first glance this pencil looks like it should have a twist up tip but it doesn’t. The plastic casing is easy to sharpen with a regular sharpener though.

The pencil is double ended with a standard smudging tip to blend the colour. The colour is a dark almost midnight blue with a very slight shimmer when applied to the skin.

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The colour is highly pigmented and the pencil really soft so there is no drag at all on the eyelid. I found I needed 2-3 sweeps with the pencil to get the vibrant colour I expected but once applied this was completely waterproof meaning it lasted all day with no smudging.

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I’ve had my fair share of troubles with blue eyeliner in the past and always find it looks cheap and tacky, like something from the seventies. This one is a sophisticated dark blue though and I thought it really made my brown eyes pop, something I certainly wasn’t expecting.

The botanical oils and natural waxes in this product make it perfect for blending all over the eyelid for a light colour wash too. The waterproof formula helps to prevent creasing and the oils help to nourish the eyelids meaning no sting or heavy feeling that other eyeshadows can give.

Overall I was really impressed with the Eye of Horus goddess pencil and, although the £17 price tag is a bit steep, you are paying for premium ingredients that are also kind to your eyes. As someone with sensitive eyes I’m not sure I can grumble especially when my Chanel liner is more expensive.

The Eye of Horus goddess pencils come in ten different shades. I will definitely be trying the smoky black version when my Chanel liner runs out. They are also now available to buy from Beauty Bay along with the other products in the Eye of Horus range.

Have you tried any of the Eye of Horus range? What did you think of it?

This item was sent for review purposes.

Guest Post: New Menu Review At Indian Ocean, Ashton Under Lyne

My lovely friend Nicola went along to try the new menu at Indian Ocean in Ashton Under Lyne last week. I was genuinely gutted I couldn’t make it. I’ve worked in Ashton Under Lyne for ages and have never found the time to visit! Here she is with her thoughts on the food:

When I got the opportunity to go and sample some new dishes at the Indian Ocean I was really excited. I frequently came here when I was younger and was intrigued to see what had changed.

I took my husband with me and we were greeted at the door by Abdul who showed us into the lounge area, where we waited to be seated whilst enjoying a nice cold Cobra Beer.

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I didn’t know what to expect and when we reached our table we were presented with a starter that looked very much like a dessert. It was in fact an Indian Salad called Aloo Padi Chaat. It was layered with chick peas, kidney beans, potato and delicately spiced. There was a sprinkling of deep fried roti on top with a swirl of yoghurt throughout. I must admit my first initial thought was that I would never normally order this and whilst examining it I watched my husband as he sampled his. When his face lit up and he exclaimed “oh my, that’s good”, I quickly grabbed my spoon to see what the fuss was about. Surely enough I was pleasantly surprised as this was like no salad I had ever had before. The kidney beans and chickpeas were soft and juicy, the topping added some texture along with finely chopped white onions. There was also a hint of tamarind giving it a sweet and sour flavour. After I finished I was left wanting more. It was so refreshing and light and is most definitely something that I would order in the future. This dish was described as a starter to cleanse the palate and my tastebuds had certainly been awakened and was ready for more action!

The next dish came in two different versions, non-vegetarian and vegetarian. They were presented on trays with five small bowls containing something different along with a helping of rice and a chapatti in the centre. Whilst it looked very appetising, I felt like the chef could have been more adventurous with the presentation as it seemed like there was something missing. I learned that these dishes were called Thalis and was a typical, traditional Southern Indian meal that would be usually served at lunchtime. These dishes are gradually disappearing off the menu due to the fact that they take a lot of time, care and attention to prepare.

We mentioned that the way it was laid out reminded us of a Tapas or Meze selection. The trays contained:

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Masoor dhall
Kala channa chaat
Bindi bhaji
Aloo and cabbage bhaji
Raita

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Chicken punjabi korma
Lamb desi korma
Tana keema
Gilaffe kebab
Desi chicken tikka shashlick

Both were accompanied with a zeera cumin rice and chapatti.

We started with the vegetarian and as we worked our way round the dishes we were soon discussing the different flavours and heats. We thought the kala channa chaat was quite fiery but not unbearably so. It consisted of black chick peas with a dollop of yoghurt and I was surprised that I enjoyed this as my normal strength of curry doesn’t go much past a masala!

The dhall looked like puréed lentils with green chilli. The sauce was thick and creamy in texture and the odd kick of the green chilli helped give it further dimension.

Okra has never been an ingredient that I have had in my fridge and I had no idea what it would taste like therefore the bindi bhaji was a bit of a wild card for me. The okra was tender with a welcoming heat.

The aloo cabbage bhaji was like a deconstructed bhaji with shredded cabbage and potato. I found this dish to be quite mild and maybe not as adventurous as its neighbours.
The raita was a lovely contrast with the heat of some of the dishes.

We started on the non-vegetarian next and was immediately struck by how the intensity of the favours had been toned down. This by no way detracted from the dishes but instead surprised us especially after the dhall. For me the lamb korma had the most kick. The lamb was succulent and the texture of the sauce familiar to what we are normally accustomed too. The chicken Punjabi korma was small cubes of chicken with a taste of coriander and the occasional cardamom pod.

I’m not a big fan of minced beef so I approached the tana keema with reservation. I needn’t have been worried as the mince was delicately flavoured and my childhood memory of mincemeat and onions were banished. I loved this dish in its simplicity and home spun style.
I found the kebab and the shashlick quite similar as they both had onions and peppers coated in a fruity sauce. Again these dishes felt familiar to me and because of this I dipped into them into raita to appease me.

The rice and chapatti helped to soak up some of the sauces. As mentioned before we considered that these dishes had a tapas feel to them and because of this I would have liked to have seen smaller sized sundries such as miniature roti, chapatti and poppadoms to accompany them instead. This would take away the need for a fork and gently push the diner into eating with their hands and experience a more authentic Indian dining experience.

After speaking to the staff I got the impression that these dishes were open to adaptation depending on the taster’s opinions. I can honestly say that my husband and I would now confidently pick out some very different dishes knowing that we would not be disappointed. I eagerly await these new additions to be officially added to the menu and look forward to coming back to re-live my experience of traditional Indian food.

Giveaway: FitMark the Pac from Monster Supplements

Today, thanks to Monster Supplements I have a FitMark the Pac to giveaway to one lucky reader!

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The FitMark range consists of a number of different meal management bags to make it easier to eat healthily on the go whilst still looking smart.

The FitMark the Pac is perfect for breakfast after the gym and lunch at the desk as it helps to keep food fresher for longer. It is lightweight and portable as well as being stylish.

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I love the labelling and there are also inspirational quotes scattered around the lining to keep you motivated during the day.

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This giveaway is to win 1 FitMark the Pac in a choice of either red, black or pink. The prize is worth £19.99 and will be honoured by Monster Supplements.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Review: Moose Coffee

I made the huge mistake of going to Primark, on a Sunday, in December. I should have known it would be unbearable but I needed to change some bedding so I thought it would be ok if I got there just as they opened the tills. There was already a queue 20 people deep with baskets full of stuff. After enduring that torture there was only one cure – brunch. And I’d heard such good things about Moose Coffee that I thought they may be able to numb my pain and make me feel ever so slightly human again.

Moose Coffee is on York Street just before it turns into New York Street. I could see people gathering outside so I knew it was going to be busy. I was told there was a 20 minute wait but I was given a menu and told someone would call me when they were ready for me. 45 minutes later I heard, “Keeley, table for 1?” being shouted outside. To say I was mortified is an understatement. Did they need to announce to the crowds of people that I was so sad that I had to dine alone?

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Settled into a table I ordered a cappuccino to start things off. It hasn’t as warm as I would have liked but it wasn’t too milky with a real hit of caffeine so I was a happy girl and my embarrassment was starting to subside.

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Considering how busy they were my brunch came really quickly. A bit too quickly actually because even though I was on my own, I was enjoying my book! The menu has an American Canadian feel and I had ordered the New York Moose. 2 poached eggs sat atop grilled parma ham and a toasted bagel before being smothered with hollandaise sauce.

This my friends is where I started to forgive Moose Coffee. The bagel was light and slightly chewy with the eggs perfectly poached – not a ‘runny white’ to be seen and lovely dunkable yolks. The hollandaise sauce was the best I’ve eaten in a long time. Creamy and fairly light with a good amount of lemon to give it that needed zing. The parma ham was a lovely touch and my only comment would be that I would have liked more. That’s only because it was so good and the saltiness balanced the dish so perfectly.

I paid and left with a full tum and a warm glow having found somewhere new to get a decent brew and a reasonably priced meal. Now I need to return to try the quivering towers of pancakes I saw coming out of the kitchen… but this time I’ll find a date. Who’s with me?

Paid for in full.

 

Beauty: Pro Blo Curl Me Review

I have to say I am not a natural when I come to hair. I’ve got thin and dry hair that gets frizzy and very flat. It used to be really curly when I was little but being introduced to a set of GHD straighteners at the tender age of 22 meant I just about learned to blast it dry and let the GHD’s do the work in term of styling. I love having it done at the hairdressers and always go for a blow wave where they leave numerous round brushes curled around my hair. They are quite uncomfortable but so worth it for the end result. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get the same effect without that uncomfortable feeling and that also adds volume? Pro Blo Curl Me claims to do just that.

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Pro Blo Curl Me is a hair styling system which includes six ceramic brush barrels and a detachable brush. The idea is that you can leave the brush barrels in your hair to cool creating a smoother, bouncier curl.

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The kit comes with six brush barrels in three different sizes and six clips to hold the barrels in place whilst they set. Now I’ve tried stuff like this before, like I said before, I am rubbish at doing anything with my hair so Pro Blo had their work cut out convincing me this was a good idea.

I may not be a vlogger but I love a good YouTube tutorial and taught myself how to apply false lashes using YouTube – I kid you not. So this video was perfect and I’d recommend watching it before you get going:

“Effortless ease and speed” she says. I was totally ready to prove that theory wrong! I did what the video says – washed and then dried my hair to 50% dry. I then sectioned my hair and attached the barrel to the brush. Using the brush I blow dried from root to tip before curling around the barrel, blasting for a few seconds with the hairdryer and securing in place with the clip. I continued this with the rest of my hair until I was all rolled and clipped up.

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Please ignore my evening attire and makeup-less face. I’m full of a cold and wouldn’t normally share looking like this!

I found this fairly easy so far. I do have fine hair but quite a lot of it so the final section was the hardest to do as I kept knocking the other barrels that were on my head. It took all of 10 minutes though so no time at all which is perfect for my patience levels.

I then sat down and let them do their job. After 45 minutes I thought I’d have a look and see how they had got on. I unclipped each barrel in turn and unrolled them upwards as the video says.

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And here is my final result. To say I was shocked is an understatement! My hair was big, bouncy and felt light. The curl effect hasn’t worked 100% like the blow dry I have at the hair salon but for a first attempt I was very impressed with both the product and my skills with it.

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When I have a blow wave at the hairdressers it usually drops within an hour leaving me with beautifully big curls but less bounce. With that in mind I thought I’d see how my hair looked an hour after using Pro Blo.

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As you can see the curl has dropped slightly and it is a little frizzier than before but the height and bounce is still there. This is also without any finishing product and the hairdresser usually surrounds me in a cloud of hair spray before leaving.

I am seriously impressed with the results I have achieved and have seen some amazing results from other bloggers who have used this product. The links are at the bottom of this post if you are interested in having a look at results where the user knows what they are doing with their hair.

For £35 I think this is a must have product for any fan of the blow wave. I’ve asked for a new GHD hair dryer for Christmas this year and I’m really excited now to see what results I can achieve with a smoothing hair dryer as well as this system. Thank you Pro Blo for introducing me to your secret and giving me the tools to create the perfect bouncy wave. This will have paid for itself in two uses!

http://ginfuelledbluestocking.co.uk/pro-blo-curl/

http://anoushkaloves.com/beauty/pro-blo-curl-me-styler/

This product was given to me for review purposes.

New Restaurant Opening: Baltic Cellar, Manchester

Manchester has so many restaurants with new names popping up all the time. I reckon you could eat out every night for a good few years without visiting the same restaurant twice in this city. The new names have been regular but fairly samey with plenty of burger bars, Italians and pop ups for you to try. Now it’s time for something different – let me introduce you to Baltic Cellar.

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Baltic Cellar is a combination of Baltic, Polish and Russian cuisine located on Lloyd Street. Located downstairs you will find a wide open space which is surprisingly well lit considering its basement location. Being Eastern European themed there is also a vodka theme with a huge variety of brands to try from.

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Housed in this pretty wooden box was the best (of many…) vodkas that we tried on the opening night. Smooth and so easy to drink, this was the perfect sipping vodka.

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As if this pretty vodka and standard vodka wasn’t enough, we were also served vodka from a Kalashnikov shaped bottle. The girls you can see in the Russian hats were ‘in charge’ of serving vodka to the table. You can imagine how that went down.

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We tried the salted herring and Russian salad to start. Both excellent and I particularly liked the herring which had a lovely soft texture. The Russian salad was also good with crunchy vegetables bound in a light dressing. I’d have liked it to be slightly creamier.

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Mains included lots of pork and chicken in mushroom based sauces. I am not a fan so steered clear although the rest of the table gobbled these down. The shashlik was delicious with that lovely chargrilled taste to the outside with the meat being lovely and juicy. I particularly liked the salmon served with creamy mashed potatoes. Also chargrilled the salmon was meaty and not at all dry whilst the mash was creamy and smooth.

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The sharing platter of desserts allowed us to try a bite of different ones on offer from the menu. The chocolate cake was a bit too sweet for me and I’ve had liked more of a ‘chocolatey’ taste to the sponge which was a little bland. The napoleon cake 100% made up for it though. Layers of thin pastry with cream similar to a mille-feuille was just gorgeous and something I will definitely order when I return!

On the whole the menu is fairly healthy with lots of soups, salads and grilled meats to choose from. This makes it much easier for someone trying to follow a clean diet to come here so perfect for me, vodka is clean right?!

I was invited to the launch of this event as a guest and wasn’t asked to pay for the food or drink. Thanks to Baltic Cellar for some of the images used above.

Aldi Festive Feast With Jean Christophe Novelli and Great John Street Hotel

There I was. Sat minding my own business on a lunch break at work and I noticed an email flashing on my phone. Idly I had a look and then had to explain to my colleagues why I had squealed with excitement. Aldi had just invited me to their festive feast at the Great John Street Hotel with the multi Michelin starred chef Jean-Christophe Novelli cooking. Would I like to go? Hell yeah!

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Super excited we took our seats in the beautiful Great John Street hotel bar that had been turned into a restaurant for the evening. With poinsettia table decorations and fairy lights surrounding us I was finally getting into the festive mood.

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The first course arrived looking beautiful. Meli melo tomatoes, minute sun dried vine tomatoes served with king prawn and specially selected caviar points. I’m not a huge fan of tomato but these were so fresh and juicy. The sun dried tomato added a different texture to the dish and brought it all together. A fabulous start.

At this point we were also served a choice of Aldi exquisite collection cotes du rhone villages plan de dieu or Aldi exquisite collection clare valley reisling 2014. The latter being one of my favourite whites I opted for that. I was delighted to hear it costs just £6.99 in store and, trust me, I’ll be stocking up for my Christmas lunch. It is drier than my usual choice yet has a lovely sharp apple taste on the palate finishing with some fresh citrus notes. Just beautiful.

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Onto the main course and we were served turkey wellington with garlic, parsnip and sweet turnip mashed potato and stuffed cabbage. The turkey was juicy – not at all like the stereotypical dry Christmas turkey people have come to dread. I don’t like mushroom so I picked around the pastry so as to avoid that! The mashed potato was creamy and smooth – it seems the perfect way to get children to eat their vegetables on Christmas day with the garlic kick giving it a unique flavour which shouldn’t really have worked with the turkey but did. The stuffed cabbage was a delight containing potato and other chunky vegetables. My Mum always cooks us Christmas dinner and had been moaning at the price of her usual turkey from Marks & Spencer. I’ve sent her to Aldi… seriously. I just hope she can make me stuffed cabbage like JC did.

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Onto dessert and it wouldn’t be a Christmas meal without pudding. This one was Aldi specially selected 12 month matured Christmas pudding with specialy selected Cornish clotted cream. The pudding was so packed with fruit and glace cherries it broke apart at the lightest touch of the fork. Steeped in brandy with a lovely citrus kick I thoroughly enjoyed it and that’s saying something from someone who isn’t usually a fan of Christmas pudding. The clotted cream is a lovely alternative to custard or double cream and whilst my Mum had already bought one of these puddings for Christmas day, I’ve demanded she go out and buy clotted cream to go with it. Well if JC isn’t going to be at my house on Christmas day I can at least pretend he is.

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Onto the specially selected cheeseboard with a particularly good brie and a fabulously sharp cheddar. To be honest we only managed the tiniest amount as we were stuffed from the three courses we had already eaten. The chutney was the only disappoint of the whole meal for me. I like a chunkier sauce and this was a little on the runny side for my liking.

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We were bid farewell with a mince pie which I’ve always said, is the best you can buy at the supermarket. Last year they beat Fortnum & Mason’s in a taste test and I can see why. light and buttery crumbly pastry encases a general helping of alcohol spiked dried fruits. Yes I was full by this point but there is always room for a mince pie, right?

As a bit of fun all the diners were then asked to guess how much per head we felt the meal would cost. Granted you won’t have Jean Christophe Novelli cooking for you but I know how much my Mum normally spends for our Christmas lunch and it is a fair amount. This? Including wine the meal would cost £20.35 a head. Now if that isn’t a bargain I don’t know what is.

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I also got to meet the main man himself! The perfect end to a perfect night.

Thanks to Aldi for inviting me to their #AldiFestiveFeast. You can apply to attend the next event in your area by visiting Aldi on Twitter and telling them why you deserve a place. I dined as a guest of Aldi and was not asked to pay for my food or drink. 

 

Travel: Husky Mushing With Transun and Joe’s Bloggers

When Joe’s Bloggers asked me if I fancied going Husky sledding courtesy of Transun my first thought was, “oh my God they are going to take me to Lapland to meet Santa!!” Unfortunately this wasn’t the case and I wasn’t going to get to tell Santa just how good I have been this year but we were going to the Lake District which, as a huge fan (I wrote about it once…), was just as fun.

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An hour and a bit up the M6 and we arrived at the beautiful Wray Castle in Ambleside to meet Horse and Husky for our husky sledding session. Luckily for us the weather was on our side and it stayed dry all day. Next was to meet the dogs…

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The dogs used are all rescue dogs and desperate to get you out mushing! Mushing is the term used for being pulled along by husky on a 3 wheeled bike like contraption called a rig. They’re so friendly and eager to get going. So eager that this chap actually reared onto his back legs when it came to get going! As a complete wuss I panicked and was allocated a more sedate dog.

We were taught the basic commands to control the dog and given a quick go on the rigs without a dog. So far so good! Next was to go out with the dogs – pot holes, hills and uneven surfaces included.

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We were encouraged to use the brakes on the rig as well as using the voice commands to keep the dogs on track and to try to keep them on the path rather than chasing after sheep…! Nervous? Me?!

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My husky was so well behaved. She listened to every command I gave and slowed down when I put on the brakes. I built up my courage to go faster down the hills and through the puddles too! Such fun and quite exhilarating in the quiet countryside of the Lakes. I can imagine doing this in the snow is incredibly festive but using the brakes must be quite difficult in colder weather.

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A really fun but exhausting day, huge thanks to Emma for sharing some of her pictures (I obviously couldn’t take pictures of myself mushing) and Joe’s Bloggers for inviting me to such an usual day. Next time I’m doing it in Lapland and I WILL meet Santa.

You can read Joe’s Bloggers blog post for Transun about the event here. I was not asked to pay for this experience.

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