Saturday, 29 November 2014

East Coast Diner, Red Lion Yard Colchester

Well I must say it was a most pleasant day in Colchester today. Not only was the sun shining but I had a delicious breakfast at the towns newest eatery then trotted across the street and had a sniff around a Vintage Fair. Very pleasant.

First of all, and I was very happy about this particularly after a heavy night out in Southwark, the East Coast Diner opened for business in Red Lion Yard.

Red Lion Yard dates back to 1465 and runs off the Colchester High Street. It has recently undergone a £600K refurbishment and looks great. The Company behind the refurbishment used beautiful york stone for the pavement, all the shops signs have the same size/colour font, there is an attention to detail here which makes it a great little place. It is also getting some interesting boutique type shops going into it. Proctors Sausage Shop were already there, but there are also a couple of Hairdressing Salons, a nice home wares shop and a couple of independent clothes shops. White Dirt being one of them and while I am probably too old and fat for their clothes I think this is a great shop. Maybe I could buy a bag.

But the newest kid on the block/yard is East Coast Diner. They opened their first branch in Woodbridge and things are obviously going well as they have opened their 2nd branch today in Colchester. Giles Coren said in The Times that their hotdogs are "the best in Britain. No question". Blimey. They opened at 10am, again we don't like to look too keen, so we got there at 10:17am... We were greeted by friendly staff and a balloon for my son. If he is happy. We is happy. Especially if 'we' are feeling slightly fuzzy after a night on the tiles. They don't have a huge space but I quite liked that it was compact, it created a really friendly environment. The decor is well done (bright Tolix style stools, wooden plank and scaffolding tables, a couple of bits of graffiti, a lovely yellow booth) and they played decent music. It was a nice place to hang out basically. We also liked that they were so child friendly. Plenty of high chairs, pencils and a colouring competition, a good kids menu, and a relaxed atmosphere. But on top of all this the food was delicious and VERY reasonably priced. We had 2 x coffees, 1 x fruit smoothie, 1 x shake, 2 x Breakfast baskets and cost just over £24. Great value not to mention the convenience for us as its 1 minutes walk from our house! I have a feeling East Coast Diner are going to be seeing a lot of us from now on...

Their Breakfast basket consists of 2 x hash browns, the most delicious beans I have ever eaten and a huge breakfast muffin with sausage, bacon, cheese and egg. It was so huge in fact I couldn't finish it. This muffin defeated me. No meal has ever done this to me so that's quite an achievement. 
Bravo ECD. You beat me fair and square.

Fresh fruit smoothie

Food hatch


Told you.

Then after a most enjoyable breakfast I walked across the road to the Secret Vintage Fair which was being held at Liquid, a nightclub on the high street. I paid my £3 entry fee, walked across the sticky nightclub carpet and had the biggest shock I've had in a long while. Liquid nightclub, which I have obviously never been  into to, is beautiful inside! I knew that it was in a very old building being built in 1905 and having been the old Grand Theatre but had no idea what was behind the door. What a shame that its not still a theatre, it could certainly give Hackney Empire a run for its money. I don't know what kind of person would allow such a beautiful building to be turned into a sticky carpeted nightclub but sadly there are lots of historical buildings and areas in Colchester that have not been given the right kind of respect. Massive shame that.

Giant disco ball suspended from stunning ceiling

Beautiful balconies

The fair itself was really great. They had loads of stalls with vintage clothes and home wares but also music, dancing, a beauty parlour, vintage hair styling, a nail bar and a Pop Up Tearoom on the top floor. A great event, well organised and I even treated myself to a new sewing box. Thanks Colchester, today you were pretty great.


Desperately needed cantilever sewing box, £15. Bargain!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Trine Hahnemann's 'Shower Buns'

My love affir with Trine Hahnemann continues. I never thought I would say this, but after 39 years, Delia Smith has finally been knocked off the top spot of my top 5 favorite cooking people. I grew up with my Dad cooking Delia recipes. They were the only cookery books we had at home. The first recipe I used as a child was her recipe for 'Plain Scones', page 283 of 'Delia Smith's Cookery Course Part Two'. When my Dad passed away those books were the first things I wanted to retrieve from his place and I still use them. Good old, faithful Scones. Still going strong.

Delia's scones.

However, since I have discovered Trine Hahnemann there is new number 1 in town. I do feel very guilty about this particularly as Christmas is coming and Delia has been a faithful companion for many years at Christmas time, but Delia had a good run. I'm sure she would understand.

I am maniacally working my way through her 'Scandinavian Baking' book and can't seem to put it down. Some people take erotic fiction to bed or a kindle. I take books about Scandinavian food. It used to be books about Interior Design but baking is a much cheaper habit. The main reason I am enjoying her books so much is that her recipes use a manageable list of ingredients that are not impossible to source. I often find dishes I would like to cook but the list of ingredients is too long or the ingredients themselves are too obscure. I have virtually no spare time as it is at the moment running round after a toddler and dragging him round the shops looking for unwaxed Ewes milk is a bridge too far (sorry Ethicurian's).

Wow. Feats your eyes on that cake!

My favorite recipe at the moment is her recipe for 'Shower Buns', so called as by the time you take to have a shower in the morning, they are cooked. They are a revelation and consist of four ingredients. That's right, FOUR. They are going to change my life and push me in the direction of elasticated waistbands. These buns are cheap, quick, simple to make and most importantly, delicious. The idea is that you make a batch of dough which can be kept in the fridge for up to 5 days, and each morning you scoop a few dollops of the mixture onto a baking tray and voila! By the time you've had a spruce, breakfast is ready! How awesome is that! The first morning we tried these, we ate them with jam but on reflection I think that was a waste of a bun. So every morning since I have been starting my day with a streaky bacon and rocket shower bun. What luxury! (The highlight of my days this week actually). However, I wouldn't limit these buns to just the morning, they would be equally handy/delicious at lunchtime on their own or with soup. Yumsters.

Shower Buns

15g Fresh Yeast
700ml Cold
8g Salt
850-900g Strong White flour

(Firstly, since this was my first attempt, I only used half quantities of the ingredients. This made approx 10 buns, enough for us for a week. Also, I didn't have enough Plain White Flour so I ended up using two thirds plain white flour and one third rye flour. But as Trine says you can swap different types of flour around to what you prefer and also use seeds if you like. Finally, I didn't have fresh yeast so used 7g of Dried Yeast).

* Dissolve the yeast into the water, add the salt and flour and mix well.
* Knead with a mixer of by hand using a wooden spoon - thus mixture is very sticky you wont want to use your hands.
* Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge overnight.
*When you are ready for your buns, pre-heat the oven to as hot as it will go.
Cut off / spoon out required mixture and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. I used a big tablespoon sized dollop per bun.
*Slash the top of each bun with a very sharp knife.
* Cook for 5 minutes on the high heat the reduce the temperature to 210C/Gas Mark 6.5 and cook for a further 15-20 mins or until the buns are browning.
*When cooked, remove from the oven and rest for 5 mins before serving.

The dough the morning after.

Our first buns.


When the buns first came out of the oven the crust felt very hard but as they cooled slightly the crust magically softened and the buns had the texture inside of a ciabatta. I can't say enough good things about these buns. You have to make them. Thank you Trine, I think I love you.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Cross Stitch Crazy

Apparently the Devil makes work for idle hands. Having no idea what sort of horrors Satan would sling my way, and no desire to find out,  I have taken up my Cross Stitch hobby again. Frankly we have enough stress on our plate at the moment without having to stoke the firey pit of hell for a man in red tights and a bad temper. Also, I remember my Dad hollering at me one School Summer Holidays when I complained of being bored, "Only boring people get bored!" So I find it impossible to sit around doing nothing incase it confirms what I have long suspected.

I did a bit of Cross Stitch last year when my son still had his daytime naps and I found it strangely addictive. Sadly those naps have long gone (sob) but as I have no social life in the evenings anymore, I have plenty of time to sew. There is a great magazine called Crossstitcher which often has free little projects for you to make which are a bit nicer than the other Cross Stitch magazines which, in my limited opinion, tend to be a bit fuddy duddy. Other good reference for more modern Cross Stitch projects by absolute Professional stsitchers are:

Satsuma Street -Colourful, modern, abstract designs.

What Deliah Did - Predominantly nature inspired designs. She's has also just brought out a great Christmas Cross Stitch book.

Mr X Stitch - A man!

This was my first sewing last year, copied from a pattern in Crossstitcher. Quite an ambitious design which took bloody ages. It has been folded up in a drawer since. Not quite sure what to do with it . . . .

This was my 2nd attempt. An amalgamation of things I had seen online.
Considerably smaller. Again folded up and stuck in a drawer. Shame.

For my son. Designed by my own brain.

So since Christmas is on its way, I thought I would make my son a Christmas stocking. The red felt cost about £7 from the local haberdashers and I had accumulated all the other bits and bobs from my 'Wedding Bag' and various little projects from Crossstitcher. I'm not sure that the 'Big FC' (aka Santa) will be able to put the little man's desired gifts in (a 'blue bike' and 'big giant teddy'), but there's definitely room for a few satsumas and a Cadburys Selection Pack. Overall it probably took about 7 hours and is much more personal than anything I could have bought him in the shops - it even has a little picture of him on the front so Santa knows who it belongs to.


My son.

The Big Man.

Sons initial on 'luggage tag'.

I made the buttons too.

And finally, these 2 little fellas that were meant to be made into Christmas Cards, I have made into decorations to hang onto the tree.

Monday, 24 November 2014

St Botolphs Letterpress at The Waiting Room

The Waiting Room. It just keeps getting better and better. As well as the events I have already mentioned in some of my recent posts, this Saturday they held an awesome Printroom Open Day event. I've never used a Letterpress before, although I did buy a book about American Letterpress when I was planning my Wedding that didn't happen, but have always thought it would be great to try one out. We very nearly booked ourselves onto a Course in Walthamstow a few years back but sadly work scuppered that particular plan. Stupid old work. Now, however, there are the facilities to use a wonderful press at The Waiting Room. I'm not entirely sure how one can access it but I think if you had some ideas of prints you wanted to make, you could contact them and go and use it! What a great resource! I believe The Waiting Room were given an old press and a whole heap of bits and bobs that they have spent the last few months beavering away, cleaning and organising. But now it seems to be ready and up and running.

You can find out about their forthcoming events and other titbits via these links:

St Botolphs Letterpress

St Botolphs Printroom

The great thing about Saturday's event, not only that it was just up the road (and everyone was super friendly), was that I got to make my own print (when I say 'made' I didn't set the type but I did put the paint on and peel the paper off!), my son got to make his own little bag AND we got to meet the guys at Typoretum. They are a local Company who gave up their "real" jobs to follow their dreams of running a Letterpress business. It's going so well that they were involved in the title sequence for '12 Years a Slave'! How great is that?! Total inspirations. They not only do they sell beautiful cards and prints on their website they also run courses which you can find out all about if you click on their name above.

Nice work Waiting Room guys, another very interesting trip out.

Their small Adana Press. I didn't manage to get into their actual 
Print Room which was a shame but hopefully another time.

Bag making area

The bag my son made. 
I'm going to say its 'Moschino Cheap & Chic' if anyone asks.

The Typoretum Press

My print! Still being flattened. 
Think it will look super next to the Anthony Burrill's.

A limited edition print made by the St Botolphs folk using their wondrous acquisition.

Cinnamon Buns by Felicity Cloake / Bread + Butter Pudding

The Danish Cinnamon Bun. I have looked into a few recipes but this seems to be the most successful. Also the beauty of this recipe is that it's almost 2 cakes in one! It was massive! I defy anyone to eat it in one sitting unless you have lots of visitors. We ate it fresh from the oven on Friday afternoon, perfect for a rainy day, then on Saturday when we had friends over, I made a Bread and Butter pudding. Win.

Cinnamon Buns by Felicity Cloake

For the dough:
300ml Whole milk
1tsp Ground Cardamon Seeds
50g Butter
425g Plain Flour
7g Fast Action Yeast
60g Caster Sugar
1/4 tsp table salt
1 Beaten Egg
A little oil

* Put milk in a pan with Cardomon seeds and heat until just below boiling point.
* Remove from the heat, stir in butter and set aside.
* Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl, make a well in the centre, add the beaten egg, strain the milk then add it to the mixture.
* Stir until dough comes together.
* Tip onto a slightly oiled surface and knead for 5 minutes.
* Cover and leave somewhere warm for 30 minutes.

For the Filling:
75g Butter
50g Dark Brown Sugar
2tsp Cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt

For the glaze:
1 Beaten egg
Demerara Sugar

* While the dough is rising, make the filling and preheat oven to 200C /Gas Mark 6
* Mix all the 'Filling' ingredients together until it resembles a smooth paste.
* Grease a 23cm springform cake tin cake tin.
* Roll dough out on lightly floured surface and roll to a 25cm x 35cm size
* Smear filling on top then roll up like a swiss roll.
(Felicity suggests cutting the long swiss roll into 7 pieces and arranging in the tin but I found my buns were huge. A sentence I never thought I would write. When I make it again I will make more smaller buns and cook in a bigger tin).
* Finally glaze the cake with beaten egg and sprinkle demerara sugar on top.
* Bake in the oven for 25 mins or until golden on top.

There are millions of recipes for Bread + Butter pudding but the below is one I made with what I had in the house.

Bread + Butter Pudding

Slices of Cinnamon Bun)
Handful of dried cranberries
2oz Caster Sugar
10fl oz Milk
2.5fl oz Double Cream
1/2 Lemon Zest
3 Beaten Eggs
Mixed Spice

* Slice the bun to fit your tin and butter them all on one side.
* Lay first layer of bun in the bottom of tin and sprinkle cranberries on top
* Place a 2nd layer of bun in the tin and sprinkle with remaining cranberries.
* Mix together the milk, cream, sugar and lemon zest.
* Finally mix in the 3 beaten eggs.
* Pour it all over the bun layers, sprinkle with Mixed Spice and put in the oven for approx 30 mins at about 180 Fan.

Lovely pudding, crappy camera.

Walnut Macaroon Layer Cake

Sometimes, it's the little things that can make such a difference to your day. We had some friends to stay and I wanted to make a cake. Something a bit different to a Victoria Sponge/Banana Loaf/Madelaine's. So, I made a cake from a recipe by the Delia Smith of Denmark. A legend basically. I tweeted her a picture and she retweeted it saying it "looked fabulous!" WOW. What a boost!

So, here is the recipe for 'Walnut Macaroon Layer Cake'

For the cakes:
Butter for the cake tins
300g Walnuts
200g Caster Sugar
6 Egg Whites

* Preheat oven to 160/ Gas Mark 3
* Line and lightly butter 3 x 24cm diameter springform cake tins.
* Blend the nuts in a food processor, until fine.
* Whisk the egg whites until stiff.
* Add the nuts slowly until mixed then divide between the cake tins.
* Put in oven for 35 minutes, remove, then leave to cool on wire racks overnight.

For the Coffee Cream:
300ml Double cream
3-4 tbsp Soft Brown Sugar
1 tbsp Instant Coffee

* When you are ready to assemble the cake, put all the Coffee Cream ingredients in a bowl and beat until stiff.
* Place your 1st cake layer on your serving plate and spread with half the cream mixture.
* Add 2nd cake layer and repeat with the rest of the cream
* Place final cake layer on top.

For the glaze:
100g Dark Chocolate
20g Butter
Several Walnut Halves

* Break chocolate into small pieces and melt.
* Once melted, leave to cool slightly then spread on top layer of cake.
* Arrange walnut halves on top and keep in fridge until ready to serve.
* Serves 10


Friday, 21 November 2014

Dark Rye Loaf / Doves Farm

I had a dream. It involved my own business. And food from a particular region of the world that I love. Since moving out of London and being a mum I'm feeling a bit lost to be honest, without a purpose I suppose. But my little dream got me excited and was (still is) something I feel very passionately about. I had been making in roads earlier in the year, potential premises, local suppliers, branding, a friend offered to give me advice on their similar business, blah blah....Then the rug got pulled from beneath us. A sudden death in the family, Wig's A+E visit, trying to keep my hand in with my freelance work, rearing a toddler and dealing with yet more costs on our moneypit/house sucked all my motivation away.

However, the dream is still there somewhere, inside my shattered shell, I just need to pick myself up again and plod on. 2015 is a clean slate, if I can just crawl my way to the New Year...In the meantime though, toddler permitting, I have been testing out recipes at home. Luckily a steady stream of visitors to our house is giving me plenty of victims to test them out on.

The first recipe is from Doves Farm. It's for a very easy Rye bread. I'd only ever made bread once before and found it frustrating as I'm a very impatient individual. All the 'proving' and 'knocking back' put me off. However, this loaf is fairly quick to make and has, so far, worked out every time. I have been making a loaf on a Friday night (Soho, Soho, where for art thou Soho? ...) and it has lasted us all week. I was probably buying about 3 loaves a week prior to discovering this recipe, but as it is such a dense loaf we aren't tending to eat so much. But it's great toasted for breakfast with a boiled egg. The black treacle in it gives it a slightly 'Malt Loaf' taste and you could always add seeds to the mix if you wanted to change the flavour.

Dark Rye Loaf

400g Doves Farm Wholemeal Rye Flour
200g Doves Farm Strong Plain Flour
1tsp Sugar
1tsp Doves Farm Yeast
1tsp Salt
30g Black Treacle
400ml Warm Water
2tbsp Oil

200 Fan / 220 Oven / Gas Mark 7

*Mix together the dry ingredients
* Dissolve the treacle into the water
* Add the treacle/water to the dry ingredients, as the dough comes together add the oil
*Form the dough into a ball, cover and leave in a warm place to rise
*Knock back the dough and vigorously knead for a few minutes
* Place dough in an oiled loaf tin (2lb size) and leave for a further 45 minutes
* Bake in a pre-heated oven for 40-45 minutes
* To make a crustier crust place a dish/tin of hot water in the bottom of your oven.

I tried to stick Pumpkin seeds on this one but they just fell off when it came out of the oven.
Apart from that, I was very happy with it.
Thank you Doves Farm!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Hudson New York Bar + Grill, Head Street, Colchester, CO1 1NX

You only get one chance to make a first impression. Or in the case of Hudson New York Bar + Grill, I will give you as many as you like.

The newest kid on the block has finally opened, and I for one could not be happier. When I first heard that the Elysium Group were taking over a huge, unloved building just off Colchester's High Street to turn it into a restaurant, I was over the moon. I was so over the moon in fact that I emailed the MD of the Group last year when I first heard the news saying how excited I was. I also told him I thought the people of Colchester should be very grateful to him for giving the town a well needed kick up the arse and perhaps we could erect a statue of him somewhere in the locality. He was very gracious and sent a lovely reply, clearly overlooking that fact that I may be slightly peculiar. A couple of months later I sent him another email asking for a job. He didn't reply . . . Lucky for him I don't bear a grudge or this post wouldn't be so complimentary.


The reason for my joy and enthusiasm is that he owns several other venues in the area and seems to be on a one man crusade to turn shit holes to gold. The only place we were able to get a decent breakfast locally when we moved here in 2012 was one of his other venues, Mimosa. It is slightly out of town but was always well worth the 10 minute drive. Great food, really friendly staff, nice decor. What more do you want on a Sunday morning when a small child has kept you up all night and you are tired and fractious?

'Hudson' however, (not to be confused with 'Hudson + Hudson' from my previous post...) is another triumph in my eyes. I believe it was due to open earlier in the year so we have been watching their updates on Social Media with great interest, counting down the days until we could go in. I'm not surprised the opening was delayed due to the sheer scale of what they are trying to achieve. Not only do they have 'Hudson' on ground level but there is also a Steak Restaurant on the top floor ('Steak etc' I've yet to go up there) and a Members Club ('XV' unlikely I'll have the need to join), so it's been a huge undertaking. Particularly round here where nothing seems to happen that quickly naming no names Colchester Borough Council.

I simply can not bring myself to critisise the place since I am so happy the Elysium Group are investing so much into the Town. They can see potential here and it makes me feel better about our move from Hackney. As well as Hudson/Steak etc/XV they are also taking over the eyesore that is River Lodge on North Hill which will be a huge boost to the area. If the local rag is to be believed (not usually) they are spending £5million on it. This particular redevelopment will go a huge way towards making Colchester the great Town it once was and more importantly making it a destination as opposed to somewhere you might drive past. Imagine coming to Colchester and staying in a beautiful boutique hotel, a stones throw from all the new restaurants and bars open/opening up (Church Street Tavern, Three Wise Monkeys, East Coast Diner, Bills), or perhaps visiting the new Curzon, or seeing some Comedy at the Arts Centre or a Play at the Mercury Theatre or going shopping at Fenwicks etc etc etc. Well you don't need to imagine it people, its happening!! Right now!!

So, in the last 2 weeks I have been to 'Hudson' 4 times. As I've said, I find it impossible to complain about any of my experiences but in the spirit of honesty I feel compelled to tell you the truth and the whole truth.

Visit 1.
The first Sunday they were open. The website said they were open at 7:30am, the day before Facebook said they would open at 10am, then Facebook said they would actually open 11am. Not to appear too keen, we arrived at 11:08am... A side door was open so we lugged the buggy up the step (no ramp) and was told by a man on a mobile phone that they were not open and might open at midday. Had this been in London, where we would have had more choice, we probably would never had come back as the chap on the phone was pretty curt. However, I thought, 'Ok, he's obviously not having the best day, we'll come back another time'. Motherhood has clearly melted my icy, judgemental heart.

Visit 2.
The first Thursday they were open. I took my Aunt for a late lunch, about 2:30pm so wasn't surprised that it was quite empty. Second first impressions were that there was more staff than customers but no one to tell us what to do. Do we sit down or wait to be seated? After wrangling a waitress she told us to order at the bar and sit where we wanted. There were also a lot of workmen wandering around, so still not quite finished with the work but on the plus side they do have highchairs. It's the little things. In due course I ordered at the bar as required but was told I couldn't open a tab so if we wanted more drinks during our meal one of us would have to get up again and go back to the bar. A bit inconvenient but not the end of the world.

When the food arrived, it was great. Auntie M had Chilli Prawns and the Little Boss and I shared a Fish Finger Sarnie. The Caraway seed bread was DELICIOUS.

Hopefully Santa will bring me a new Camera. You will have to trust me when I say 
this was very nice.

Visit 3.
For my third first impression, the Wig and I went for lunch on their 2nd Friday since opening. Quite busy! - I was very pleased for them. It was also interesting to see a whole new bunch of people in town. Having plodded Colchester's mean streets ALOT in the last (almost) 2 years, you do get to see some of the same old boat races. But this lot were a whole bunch of new ones. I knew these guys were hiding round here somewhere! I knew there were people in Colchester that wanted to eat something other than a Panini or a Jacket Potato! And now they have somewhere to go. Hallelujah. Thank you Elysium.

Wig and I had burgers and dough balls and almost cried with joy at the tastiness of the food. I never thought I would ever like a dough ball more than the ones at Pizza Express but, "Hello Hudson Dough Balls!'. Awesome. Also, the creamed corn, which I had never eaten before was amazing. The only comment I would make on the food was the burger bun. It had pretty much disintegrated by the time I got to the end of the burger but maybe the buns are going to change in the future. The staff were still very nice despite me having to send an item of crockery back for being chipped (one of my bug bears).

Look like mini doughnuts, taste like magic.

Yummy-ius Maximus.

A couple of complaints I have read on Social Media about 'Hudson' is that the 'tables are wobbly' (we stuck a napkin under our table leg) and that the 'leather and steel chairs are uncomfortable' (also true) but you can't take away from the fact that the food is very good. If you want to sit on a comfy chair, go to DFS. There is still no disabled/buggy ramp which is a shame but apparently this is to be rectified soon.

Visit 4.
This morning, my fourth first impression. The one day of the week that my son goes to nursery and I clean the house. Or 'Wonderful Wednesday' as it is known. But not today, no siree. I was going to have a Hudson breakfast if it was the last thing I did. So, I popped in at about 9:30am, the website still says it's open at 7:30am but I believe it actually opens a 8am this week. I was the only person there apart from the staff, some workmen and, I think, the MD himself. I really would have liked to take some better pictures to post up but felt far too self conscious being the only customer. However, it was a very nice relaxing experience. I read the courtesy newspaper, had a delicious Eggs Benedict and a Mocha in a boiling hot glass that I couldn't pick up (they changed it to a mug though, no problem). Really great. I almost felt like I was on holiday until I remembered I felt guilty that I hadn't cleaned the toilets.

The March Hare does not condone vulgar language but in summary, Hudson New York Bar + Grill is a fucking breath of fresh air. A thousand thank you's Mr Ash Afzalnia, you are doing a wonderful job. All the little things that I have experienced in my 4 visits I put down to teething problems. Perhaps they shouldn't have opened until they were 100% finished or perhaps they could have opted for a 'Soft Launch' but they chose not to and at the end of the day the small issues that require attention shouldn't take away from all the positives:

* Incorrect opening times on the website can be updated.
* A ramp for disabled/buggy access can be easily put in place.
* The workmen hopefully wont be there forever.
* They may decide tabs can be opened in future.
* If the coffee glass is too hot, ask for a mug!
* Wobbly tables and chairs should not deter you from some great food.
* Burger buns, a minor tweak.
* I think they should say on the menu/website where they source their produce from particularly since we are surrounded by such great local ingredients here but this is just a personal thing. I'm interested where my food comes from and think it can be a selling point to your business.

The main thing is, its a great place to hang out, the food is great, the staff are very nice and its reasonably priced. You have to wish the Elysium Guys well with this. Even if its not somewhere you would usually go or you are really pedantic and don't want to sit on the leather chairs, you have to give credit where credit is due. This company clearly have a lot of faith in the area to be investing so much into it, which is great for everyone that lives and works here. What's the alternative? Empty, derelict ugly buildings? No thanks.

Bravo guys, good luck and thank you.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Homemade Halloween Pt 2

This is not the post I thought it was going to be. I was hoping to regale you with tales of small children screaming in horror at my terrifying Halloween party games. My particular favorite was "What's in the bowl?". You make up bowls of cold spaghetti ('worms'), peeled grapes ('eyeballs'), jelly ('guts') etc then cover them up with a piece of fabric. Cut hand sized slits into it and ask the kiddiwinkles to stick their hand through and guess what's in the bowl. Classic. We also had 'Pin the Warty Nose on the Witch', a really scary ghost we were going to hang on a tree in the garden, and rats and spiders hidden everywhere, but alas, the party did not happen. Due to unforeseen circumstances, more specifically, a horrifying dash to A+E followed by a 2 night stay in the local Hospital, we thought it wise to cancel. Boo. However, my small son is now of an age where things like a 'party' are a pretty big deal. We had been putting the decorations up for about 3 weeks making it rather tricky to pull plug completely. So instead of the party I had been planning for, his 2 little cousins popped over and stuffed themselves silly with way too much sugar. Oh well, there's always next year.

Enter . . .

Pumpkin, Sage and Swiss Cheese Muffins

Homemade Toffee apples which didn't get eaten so became reincarnated as a Toffee Apple Crumble.

Witches Fingers breadsticks

Bats Blood

Body parts jelly. My 6 year old niece found this particularly revolting looking. Perfect.

Ginger'dead' Biscuits...That was my idea...

(P)almond Biscuits...geddit...?

Spooky Skittles. I'd been saving those bog rolls for weeks.

Oh well, there's always next year.