- Heather Jeary – Norfolk Women's Institute
- Carol Makins – Norfolk Women's Institute
- Claire Wade – The Clandestine Cake Club & Swallowtails WI
- Jo Christy – Miss Sue Flay (www.misssueflay.com) > that's me, that is!
- Huw Sayer – Writer and blogger, Business Writers Ltd
- Emily Norton – Norton's Dairy
- Sarah Hardy – Sarah Hardy Media
- Rosa McMahon – Eastern Daily Press
- Andy Taylor – Fun Outside Magazine
- Gay Webster – Just Regional
Wednesday, 23 September 2015
So you think you're a master baker? (Careful.... ; ) How about testing that title and entering the UK's only dedicated scone competition (we think!) at Wroxham Barns in Norfolk this coming Sunday 27th September 2015? This competition is in its ninth year and they are proud to be part of Norfolk Food & Drink to raise the profile of Norfolk's incredible food & drink offering - I've already been impressed with "Porkstock" back in the summer, Norfolk is very exciting for food and drink, I can promise you! I've been asked to join the judging panel, "Mary Berry" style, helping to decide which scones have got what it takes to make our beloved afternoon tea table - I'm genuinely excited! Here's the list of judges for this year (gulp!):
If you're anything like me, then we've all tried those little tips and tricks to help get a better sleep, be it a long hot aromatherapy bath or counting those imaginary sheep over that make believe picket fence. For me, I find it very tricky to sleep in my own bed, let alone finding the chance to get a great beauty sleep whilst staying away in a hotel or spa, no matter how hard I try. I'm a night owl through and through, so when I was asked to review the ultimate sleep experience at Hanbury Manor I realised I had nothing to lose and took up the challenge (you can read more about this stay here) to give it a good go. The only problem with this stay was that the Lumie Iris Bodyclock provided within this particular room wasn't set up correctly by the housekeeping team, so we didn't get to try it out properly to wake up to - a real shame, of which I Tweeted about. What I hadn't anticipated was that Lumie would send me a Bodyclock to my own home to try as an apology for missing out on this part of the experience - I couldn't believe my luck and can't thank them enough for this offer. So, what's this Lumie thingamybob I hear you cry? It's a natural alarm clock, along with a normal sounding alarm function, it can be set to wake you with a natural light function, simulating the morning sunrise in place of artificial light. This will work better in the winter I feel, but I love this setting as it does make me aware of the light whilst I'm still in my last moments of snoozing. Not only this, but there's two aromatherapy chambers, of which you can set to mist your room with a relaxing or invigorating scent to help you sleep and to wake up naturally. I adore this setting and love filling my room with a lavender oil. I had actually heard of the Lumie a while back through a friend who swears by it and it has since had a swish little upgrade, so it looks pretty sleek nestled on my bedside table amongst half read books and various lotions & potions. Admittedly, I'm well known for sleeping through thunderstorms, car journeys, my own sleep walking antics and even the odd music festival. So to say I'm a heavy sleeper is a slight understatement. I have set the alarm fairly regularly since using the Lumie and the natural daylight and aromatherapy mist function isn't enough to rely on waking me up. I've had to set the alarm with it, which actually isn't too shrill, as some alarms can be - I just don't trust the natural elements to wake me from my drool-induced slumber. That's no reflection on this product, I simply like my sleep a little too much when I can grab it! What I'm enjoying the most is using the aromatherapy chambers and combining the mist with the natural sunset light option at night before I go to sleep. The smell of lavender as I get into bed helps me to chill out instantly and the slow setting light helps me to read for a while before I switch off. Having the Lumie in my bedroom has actually helped me to switch off my iPad earlier and has encouraged me to read more, I needed this in my life and will continue to use it for help at night for sure. I'll keep trying with the natural wake up call, having filled it with a refreshing lemon scent for the morning, perhaps I need a stronger scent to help me stir - I'll keep playing with that as Autumn creeps in and see how I go. In the meantime. I asked Ruth, the PR manager for Lumie for her top tips on getting a good night's sleep, here's her advice:
- Try to follow a set routine as this helps our poor old body clocks to function better!
- Have a clear wind down from min 30 mins to ideally 1 hr before bedtime (cue relaxing to the sunrise feature with lavender on Iris!)
- Sorry, but definitely no technology from about 8pm ideally as the blue light emitted by electronic devices is alerting
- No caffeine after afternoon tea (and no strong coffee after about 2pm!)
- Best to have your bedroom dedicated to sleep and relaxation – clean and uncluttered and definitely no TV!
- Ideally, you'd have black out blinds/curtains in the room and be woken at the same time year round by your Lumie Bodyclock, again to help your body clock function optimally
Tuesday, 11 August 2015
This is an afternoon tea I've been wanting to try for some time now. Why haven't I? Part of me was scared that it might not be great and then I'd have the lovely Alison & Tim Hayward (not forgetting Liberty!) to answer to - as well as most of the Fitzbillies team of whom I always love bumping into across the city. I've known Tim from my very early afternoon tea and blogging days, we sat on the same table at a pop-up bloggers conference in London where he spoke with advice as a speaker one day around 5 years ago. That day was the day that Tim gave me some of the best writing advice I've ever been given. He told me to blog or write as I would speak to a friend over a pint in the pub, that there's no harm in writing in a chatty style if that's how I want it to be - to this day I still mutter to myself as I type - heck, I'm doing it right now in the middle of his Cambridge Bakery - I probably look like a nutter, but I
don't care do care a little bit! But, I've also not yet reviewed Fitzbillies because when I'm passing this iconic Cambridge bakery, I always struggle to find a table to perch on - the sign of a truly great place to eat of course. These guys also serve Kandula Tea (the very same tea I used to serve within my own afternoon tea events back in the day) so that's always a winning formula for me from the start. Well, what can I say?! Truthfully, I think I've found the best afternoon tea in Cambridge so far... The Finger Sandwiches: Anyone who dares to mess with the classic grated cheese finger sandwich, adding a tomato relish to it is a brave afternoon tea vendor indeed. But do you know, it is one of the standout elements for me on this tier, a real surprise to a tomato hater at any other time. The classic rectangular finger sandwiches are a good size, allowing 3-4 mighty mouthfuls with fillings such as a plain egg mayonnaise, ham & mustard and a salmon & cream cheese. The fresh bread has wholemeal grains running through and if these pinkie sandwiches had been pre-made, they hadn't dried out or curled, they were perfect. If I had been asked if I'd wanted that sandwich platter replenished I would have screamed yes in a heartbeat. An extra bonus today was that whilst pouring my English Breakfast Tea, I was introduced to Gill Abbs, the head baker at Fitzbillies as she passed my table. Gill has been with the ever-changing Fitzbillies family for almost 43 years (stupidly impressive and inspirational in equal measures) and she smiles widely as she recalls her first days working in the kitchens. She also once worked for Tyler's Bakery (now the infamous Nadia's across Cambridge) and The Copper Kettle on Kings Parade overlooking my favourite Cambridge college.
This was back in the days of when it was perfectly acceptable to smoke cigarettes in bakeries, she laughed.The Scones: The scones, unfortunately, didn't pass the "break test" and crumbled ever so slightly at my finger tips. But, they were light, fluffy, buttery and full of soft fruity flavour in the sultanas within it, so I can just about forgive. There was, however, plenty of strawberry jam and clotted cream and for a real change... I digested the entire scone, fairly quickly too - oops. This meant that I started to fill very quickly and so chose the "Doggy Bag Test" for the miniature cakes on the top tier. I had a gorgeous fruit & creme patisserie tart, a cream-filled chocolate eclair and a beautiful handmade macaron to nibble on the bus ride home. This was the perfect excuse to test this favourite mini test of mine and enjoy those cakes with a coffee later in the evening on a second wind - parp! The cakes were packed away in a cute white cake box with the trademark blue Fitzbillies stickers to seal them fresh for later, passing the test with flying colours - no cling film or tin foil here. The Little Niggles: Where were the mini Chelsea Buns?? I really thought (and secretly hoped) that these would be present, but they were nowhere to be seen in any form, a real shame as these would most certainly set this afternoon tea tier apart from the rest. I saw (and smelled, mmmmm) some delicious miniature savoury tarts being carried fresh from the oven to the bakery shop trays. Now, I am really starting to enjoy my savoury elements lately, so one of these could work perfectly for a savoury option. At this price for afternoon tea, I'd expect one miniature savoury option, but that's my personal opinion of course - oh dear, that smell was divine, those baking devils! I was seated towards the back, by the kitchen and members of staff would go outside to have a cigarette break. No issue with that, other than the smoke was coming back through the open door into my dining area, they may need to move away from here to avoid in future. The Little Extras: Getting the chance to chat with Gill from the bakery for 10 minutes was a true highlight, she's such a lovely lady and our conversation has made me even more appreciative of the history and passion behind Fitzbillies. Gill also mentioned that she had trained and worked with Tom from Toms Cakes in St Ives (A fave haunt of mine), so if you're looking for an independent afternoon tea venue with plenty of local love, Fitzbillies is for you. I also love that I wasn't rushed, no disturbances from staff asking me if everything was ok every five minutes and a refresh of tea was provided on request for hot water, great service. Final Thoughts: Afternoon Tea at Fitzbillies costs £18 per person or add £5 for some fizz to go alongside. You can buy preserves, biscuits, even their own tailored children's book to take home with you, great souvenirs for the tourist in you all. Take your time here, you aren't rushed and you can opt to watch the world go by or study the open plan bakery kitchen towards the back (which I did today) for some fun people watching. This is not a great venue for large groups, so if you're more than a standard table of people (I'd say more than 6) then do call ahead to book or discuss with the team. Whilst visiting Cambridge, Fitzbillies is a venue worth popping in for come rain or shine (great place for air con in the shine!) to sample a slice of the Duke of Cambridge cake or a famously sticky Chelsea Bun, if not a full on afternoon tea. Whilst in Cambridge today, I also enjoyed making a little video of my self-date, a good stroll around Cambridge is good for the soul - give it a go yourself! A huge hello to Sally and her kids from the bus (we sat at the from together on the way in haha) and a huge thanks to Max from Scudamores punting for showing off his "board spinning" skills for me for my little video session - Cambridge is such a friendly place, I love it!. Here's the vid, enjoy: [youtube height="HEIGHT" width="WIDTH"]https://youtu.be/vTvHWIY_9AI[/youtube] Have you enjoyed afternoon tea or cakey treats at Fitzbillies? What's your favourite way to spend a day in Cambridge in your own company? I'd love to hear from you in a comment or through the social media links below. Read my new "About Me" page here! You can also read about Miss Sue Flay's "Around The World In 80 Stays Challenge"and other Secret Stays & Reviews here. See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note - I paid my way during this visit and I am in no means obliged to blog or write about their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I enjoy the experience. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:firstname.lastname@example.org All images © 2015 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.
Monday, 10 August 2015
If you're a Cambridge food lover, you'll know by now that we are one extremely lucky City, with so much on offer, there's most certainly something for everyone when it comes to eating out in Cambridge. Gone are the days where our options for dining out are the chains within the leisure park or along Regent Street, (yes they are still an option of course), but the independent options throughout the Cambridge streets are rapidly on the rise. And it's a very, very exciting time for us all. Well, now there's also new book in town to support the local talent and not only are there over 40 recipes from local individuals, chefs, companies and venues featured and they're also sharing some of their treasured recipes within this new publication by Meze Publishers. I was invited along to the launch party for this book, hosted by Gerla from Cambridge Food Tours at the Gog Magog Farm Shop on the outskirts of Cambridge. This was the perfect evening, I got to catch up with some local friends, meet some new and talented faces and enjoy some of the delicious food that features in this new book. One of the new faces I was introduced to was Jin Yee Chung, winner of the Cambridge Bake Off competition this year. His signature Pandan layer cake recipe is featured in the Cambridgeshire Cook Book and it's one of the most unique cakes I've ever had the pleasure of tasting, just wow. If I feel brave enough I'll be making this one myself sometime soon, it's a crowd pleaser for sure, almost a dessert over a cake, it's smooth and creamy, but not overly sweet. Other treats making up the feast for this cook book launch party came from the likes of Chocolat Chocolat, Norfolk Street Bakery, OOO Virgin olive oil, Inders Kitchen and Shelford Deli. Cambridge was once named as a "clone city" with more chains than independent shops or venues, but it has changed so much since this label was slapped on it. With projects such as Cambridge Food Park helping to promote our local street food and local business owners sharing their passion for food and drink with us, it's far from a clone town today. Every week there seems to be a new opening, offering or event and there's a list as long as my arm with places I want to try next... and it doesn't seem to be going down any time soon! The premise for the book is starting to take the "Independent UK" by storm, with local cookbooks now published in Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and even Sheffield. There are more in the pipeline, so expect to see big things from Meze in collaboration within your local food scene. This is a great looking coffee table book, if you love collecting nice cook books, this one is for you. How to get hold of a copy? The Cambridgeshire Cook Book (@CambsCookBook) will be released in July and will be available from Waterstones Cambridge and the local businesses included in the book as well as Amazon. www.mezepublishing.co.uk/cambridgeshire-cook-book Read my new "About Me" page here! You can also read about Miss Sue Flay's "Around The World In 80 Stays Challenge"and other Secret Stays & Reviews here. See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note - This visit was complimentary following an invitation from the team. I am in no means obliged to blog or write about their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I enjoy the experience. The service team that work on the day or duration of my visit are not aware of my reasons for visiting, to enable a fair review. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:email@example.com All images © 2015 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.
It's National Afternoon Tea Week 2015 and so I've decided to celebrate... Every day I will be plotting a mini afternoon tea adventure, so keep an eye on my blog, as well as my social media channels listed below to see a combination of varied adventures across all channels - note, not everything will feature everywhere, all of the time, so it's a GREAT excuse to have you following "Miss Sue Flay" everywhere on the world wide web this week onwards! Today, Monday 10th August 2015, saw me taking my younger sister to the home of afternoon tea, Woburn Abbey, for a fantastic tour of the Abbey and a chat with Victoria Poulton, one of the curators there. We chatted about the Duchess of Bedford and the possibilities around her being the fashionista behind the popularity of afternoon tea - it's an interesting story and one I feel deserves a lone blog feature another day... There are restrictions on taking photos within the house, which is a real shame, as we saw so many beautiful heirlooms, paintings and the famous "Blue Drawing Room" amongst other historic wonders - they are even home to "The Last Supper" painting here which is just beautiful to see up so close and personal - we had a superb day. I'd like to extend a huge thank you to the team at Woburn Abbey and for the stunning afternoon tea to sample at The Woburn Hotel within the village itself, such a picturesque location, well worth a visit for a civilised day out. Go and try their afternoon tea, you've just got to see this to see for yourself.... Here's my video of our visit, enjoy: [youtube height="HEIGHT" width="WIDTH"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yc72vBBt8vo[/youtube] Until the next outing, happy National Afternoon Tea Week - you can read more about this week long event here. What are you plotting for National Afternoon Tea Week yourself? Have you visited Woburn Abbey for afternoon tea geekery yourself? I'd love to hear from you in a comment below! Read my new "About Me" page here! You can also read about Miss Sue Flay's "Around The World In 80 Stays Challenge"and other Secret Stays & Reviews here. See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note - This visit was complimentary following an invitation from the team. I am in no means obliged to blog or write about their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I enjoy the experience. The service team that work on the day or duration of my visit are not aware of my reasons for visiting, to enable a fair review. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:firstname.lastname@example.org All images © 2015 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.
Sunday, 9 August 2015
I'm inspired to blog about my most recent findings when it comes to eating out in Norwich. It's most certainly no secret that I'm very much enjoying dating again, with my dark haired and stunning bearded man friend, we've been enjoying many fun days and nights out in Norwich City. You can even travel to Norwich from Cambridge on the Megabus from just £1 - read this review for more info - I do this myself sometimes even now, it's very handy indeed! Many people are now asking me where's good to eat and drink in the beautiful City of Norwich and so here's my personal guide to our most favourite and recent Norfolk haunts. If you find yourself in Norwich with nowhere to eat, here's hoping that this guide helps you to find somewhere a little more independent or unique than the usual places you might end up settling for. I'm even sharing some of my favourite music discovered in Norwich, as well as events and shops too, I'll share as much as I find and enjoy in the hope that it will be helpful for some of my readers. In fact, here's a little video I've created for you too, enjoy: [youtube height="HEIGHT" width="WIDTH"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzNKHGyrITw[/youtube] Cakes, Coffee & Sweet Treats: Pye Baker of Norwich - perfect for fresh bread & luxurious cakes (REVIEW) Macarons & More - not just for macarons, their bars & cakes are stunning Biddy's - great selection of tea & a homemade, vintage afternoon tea The Assembly House - luxurious afternoon tea & dining venue The Mill Cafe - a once-monthly community village cafe (REVIEW) Cafe Britannia - a cafe open to the public, within the local prison! The Little Red Roaster - for fantastic coffee & local treats including Doughnut Lab doughnuts Every Days a picnic - a countryside lunch or cream tea venue (REVIEW) The Pennoyer Centre - superb value, quirky, full english breakfast & fab cakes Whitlingham Visitor Centre - gorgeous walk on outskirts of city, great views The Forum - perfect for people watching over a cuppa Club De Cacao - Lynn hosts a local chocolate tasting and social club, she's a super passionate lady Frank's Bar - sell Doughnut Lab goodies, something you shouldn't miss out on! The Bicycle Shop - stunning gluten free brownies here, well worth it for a quirky venue BBQ & Meaty Feasts: Bite The Bullitt - a fantastic pop-up BBQ vendor, a real MUST Lust & Liquor - Mexican inspired venue, superb burgers & sides + great beers Yellows - 2 burgers for £12 on Wednesdays, at the Norwich Football ground - owned by Delia Smith St Andrews Brewhouse - new brew house serving food and a big selection of ales Middletons Steakhouse - amazing steak, chilled/romantic venue, great Sunday roast Prime at Edith Cavell - cook your own steak at the table, lots of fun Sophisticated Dining: Elveden Inn - close to Thetford, a great place out of the city for fine pub food The Library - gorgeous venue, oh, those coffee smoked ribs... (REVIEW) [caption id="attachment_5304" align="aligncenter" width="640"] Photo by Tim Stephenson Photography at Porkstock 2015[/caption] Dunston Hall - part of the Q Hotels group, good for roasts or a lazy brunch Stoke Mill - an old watermill not far from city, some of the finest dining in Norwich Delias - Delia Smith is famous for being. Apart of the football scene, this is her gaff Boozy Jaunts: Redwell Brewery - the tours are so much fun, the beer on tap all over city = superb (VIDEO HERE) The Playhouse Bar - great outdoor seating by river, whilst in the bar, look up & admire... Mash Tun & Gin Palace - the Mash Tun is my fave pub, with the gin palace upstairs above Fat Cat and Canary - pub with huge selection of real ales & host to Bite The Bullitt Pop-up The Waterfront - perfect venue for live music, I spend a lot of time here, Redwell on tap now The Ten Bells - where we first found Bite The Bullitt pop-up food, a chilled bar Rumsey Wells - a great pub, stocking Norfolks' "Brays Cottage" pork pies at the bar The Birdcage - a quirky bar, lots of nooks & crannies or sit outside in square during summer The Belgian Monk - perfect for a night on Belgian Beers... If you dare! The Tap House - a great place to sample lots of halves, we had our first Norwich date here.. Adam & Eve - ...oh, and here... Norwich's smallest pub, very cute curled up here in winter The Jubilee - this is where may local football fans hang out on match days, byo takeaway food The Maddermarket Theatre - creative event space with its very own "Redwell Bar" Events For The Diary: Porkstock - a pork & beer festival held at the Redwell Brewery Art Car Boot - an annual car boot sale with an artsy & craftsy difference... City Of Ale - this Norwich beer festival is an annual event attracting a huge audience GoGo (Dragons) - a charity event held bi-annually, go on the dragon trail in 2015 to see the city by foot Lord Mayor's Procession - an annual parade worth seeing, the city streets go crazy Live Music I've Discovered/Enjoyed: Vagaband Chasing Tigers Augustines Temples Placebo - an old teenage favourite I enjoyed for my birthday this year - swoon! Little Comets Admiral Fallow Stornoway Frankie & The Heartstrings Kimberley Anne Klaxons First Aid Kit Independent Shops: Berrys & Grey Wilkinsons Of Norwich Jarrolds - visit Yhe Granary behind it on Bedford street for contemp homeward and gifts Irregular Choice At Imelda's Shoes - I've spotted Ruby Wax shopping here recently, great place Royal Arcade The Rock Collection - great goth shop to take me back to teenage years! Norfolk Lingo/Slang: Rum = unusual - "He's a rum'un" (weirdo) / Rum sexy (unusually sexy) "Bear" = most likely actually saying "beer" Check out this hilarious video on how to communicate with that tricky Norfolk accent hehe: [youtube height="HEIGHT" width="WIDTH"]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJl5Vd_FK-M[/youtube] Places I Want To Visit Next: B'Nou Benedicts Flaming Galah's Aussie Pie Stop Relish The Dining Rooms & Cinema City Feast On The Street Gonzo's Tea Room The Wildebeest The Britons Arms 7 Heaven Burgers & Waffles I'll be updating this guide when I find a new great place, so be sure to keep this in mind when you next fancy a snoop to find out where's great to visit whilst in Norwich. This is one of my new favourite Cities and it's well worth a visit for the weekend, there's plenty to keep you busy! Have you visited Norwich? Do you live there? Where do you like to eat, drink or play? Where would you share as your fave events, haunts or shops in Norwich? Read my new "About Me" page here! You can also read about Miss Sue Flay's "Around The World In 80 Stays Challenge"and other Secret Stays & Reviews here. See more of my travel videos here and more of my food review videos here. Or get in touch via social media through Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for a natter about life in general! Please note - I have not been paid to create this guide, I am in no means obliged to blog or write about any of these venues or their offerings, but I simply choose to share with my readers, should I enjoy the experience. Any questions or to discuss a "Secret Stay" or review, please do email:email@example.com All images © 2015 Miss Sue Flay, these may not be used or reproduced without written permission from the owner, many thanks in advance.