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The Castle Wakefield Refurbishment

Meal and all associated drinks were GIFTED

A few months back I was invited to the Prince of Wales in Sheffield to have a first look at their refurbishment and new menu; I was hugely impressed by the whole new feel of the pub and the food was out of this world so when I was invited to a similar event at The Castle in Wakefield I knew I wouldn't be disappointed!

Their refurbishment is now complete so you can experience the luxury country pub feel for yourself but this is a sneak peak of what you can expect when you visit. Their menu changes to suit the season so naturally their Winter menu is now on offer as well as plenty of choice on a separate vegan menu.

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The dark purples, creams and greys with bold patterned wallpaper and sophisticated lighting throughout complement the furniture to create a modern and stylish feel while maintaining the traditional country feel with the open fires and hearty menu. It's the perfect venue to meet up with friends or family with plenty of comfy seating and something for everyone on the cocktail menu and food menu.

As well as the luxurious feel, The Castle in Wakefield are still offering fantastic value with their fixed price lunch menu offered Monday - Friday plus an extensive range of home cooked dishes in the evening.

I started off with a few cocktails from their extensive cocktail menu; the first of which was a Raspberry and Peach Gintonica; a Mediterranean twist on the traditional gin and tonic with herbs, spices and fruits to complement the gin botanicals:

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I then moved on to a Cosmo Twist which is the Castle's take on the traditional cosmopolitan with Seville orange gin, elderflower liqueur and cranberry juice. As designated driver, Kev decided to try a mocktail from the Saintly Sips page of the drinks menu; he went for a low-alcohol pineapple Caribbean Mule (alcohol vol 0.08%) made with ginger ale, pineapple juice, lime and a dash of bitters which he said was very enjoyable (something a bit different to the usual Diet Coke). Finally, on the cocktail front, I had a British Bramble which was an incredibly sweet cocktail made with gin, lemon juice, sweet syrup and blackcurrant cassis.

Now onto the food. I'm a bit of a cheese fiend and Kev tends to order squid no matter where we go so the sensible choices for us were the baked camembert served with rustic toast and sloe gin chutney and the salt and szechuan pepper squid served with aioli

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Kev has eaten a fair bit of squid in restaurants over the past couple of years so he feels qualified to say what defines good squid and what doesn't. In his opinion this is the best squid he has ever tasted; better than Miller and Carter and better than the Botanist. The portion was huge, it wasn't greasy at all and it was incredibly tender. If you don't have a big appetite, I think you could probably share a portion of the squid because it did look to be a lot.

The camembert was delicious but not quite as good as the one I had at the Prince of Wales; I think this one was slightly overcooked as the cheese had started to solidify but nevertheless I ate every last bit of it because I just love camembert!

For main course I ordered the Dirty Burger and Kev ordered the Fillet Steak; we also ordered a side of halloumi fries and some onion rings for good measure.

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The dirty burger was served with the most amazing beef dripping sauce which perfectly complemented the burger and the fries and I was also extremely pleased to see a whole pickle on there because I am one of those people who will ask for your discarded gherkins; I love them! The fries were perfectly cooked, as was the burger and it was every bit as messy as you'd expect a burger named as such but delicious nonetheless. The bacon was super crispy and the cheese was more of a nacho cheese sauce which gets a thumbs up from me. This did leave me extremely thirsty because the fries and the beef dripping sauce were both quite salty but that was just a good excuse to try another cocktail!

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My burger was nice but Kev's fillet steak really did steal the show and I did have slight food envy when I tried a little piece of his because it was the ultimate in melt-in-your-mouth steak. Absolutely to die for. Served with the same amazing beef dripping sauce as came with my burger this was the ultimate in pub grub with twice cooked chunky chips which were also out of this world!

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Onion rings are an absolute must for me with any burger or steak and the fact that they're home made makes them even better; these had just the right batter to onion ratio and the halloumi fries were just as good; the sweet chilli sauce is the perfect accompaniment. These are the kind of side orders that'd be perfect as nibbles while enjoying early evening drinks!

At this point, if the dessert menu hadn't been so tempting I might have been inclined to end the meal here because we were more than satisfied but when we saw the melting chocolate and hazelnut bomb and the house sharer, we knew we couldn't leave just yet.

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The house sharer (meant for 2 people) consists of home-baked chocolate brownie, white chocolate & blackcurrant cheesecake tower, Belgian chocolate & hazelnut mousse and a Bourbon vanilla ice cream cookie sandwich. After that list you can probably understand why we couldn't leave without trying it; the only bit of it that may look a little bit dodgy on first impressions is the mousse but I can assure you it tastes absolutely incredible. I just wish the ice cream cookie sandwich had been a little softer and less crunchy but overall I'd definitely recommend the sharer if you want a little taste of lots of things.

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The chocolate and hazelnut bomb is something else though, think a Fererro Rocher encased in a thick chocolate ganache drizzled with white chocolate. It's very chocolately but absolutely amazing; the vanilla ice cream does help to tone down the intense chocolate. Just look at the golden sprayed sphere.. it's the perfect Instagrammable pudding and it tastes sensational!

Safe to say, we left feeling incredibly full of food but we enjoyed every single mouthful and the Castle have managed to create a lovely luxury country pub atmosphere while providing excellent friendly service and unreal food!

The Botanist New Autumn Menu

Gifted Meal

Can eating out be considered a hobby? Because I firmly believe that it's my number one favourite thing to do! And I am one of those really annoying people who takes pictures of their food (so much so that Kev now knows to wait before he dare touch his food, ha!) so I was able to fully enjoy both my food and the Instagrammable setting when we went to The Botanist in Sheffield. 

I've enjoyed both food and drinks in a few different branches before so I half knew what to expect in terms of the decor and food but we'd been invited to try their new Autumn menu so I was excited to see what they had added!






As you can see, the theming is very much what you'd expect from somewhere called 'The Botanist' and even the table decor/menus are in keeping with the leafy, gardening kind of feel. The Sheffield branch's restaurant is actually upstairs which is nice as it properly separates the bar area, where you're free to enjoy a cocktail without food, from the restaurant area. It was slightly confusing as we walked in because although there was a sign, because we'd never been before we didn't realise that the restaurant was upstairs but if you walk in the front door you just need to take the door directly to your right and follow the stairs. And don't worry if stairs are difficult for you, it's also fully accessible with a lift available.

As we sat down we had our waitress, Abby come over and introduce herself; she really was fab and did everything she could to make us feel welcome (I also knew we'd get along as soon as I realised she was a fellow Disney fan). Our attention was swiftly drawn to the new cocktail menus and seasonal drinks...


Obviously, being a HP fan, I went for the Butter Beer which contains Goslings Black Seal Rum, teamed with butterscotch and whipped cream. Kev went for a non-alcoholic Black Forest Mojito.


I can highly recommend both; the Butter Beer would be amazing as an after dinner cocktail I think (even though I had mine before any food) or even as a bit of a winter warmer if you're taking a break from your Christmas shopping. The Black Forest Mojito is very fruity and refreshing but still a great autumnal take on the classic Mojito.


Later on I also had a Chocolate Orange Aperol Spritz which looked exactly like a larger version of a chocolate orange (and you also get a segment in your drink which is a winner for me!). This one packs more of a punch with the alcohol but again, it's a nice seasonal take on the traditional 'summery' Aperol Spritz.

As we were enjoying our drinks we had a bit of time to digest the menu; as I say I have been to The Botanist a few times before but there have been quite a few new additions to the menu so I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything that I'd regret not ordering later!


The main new additions that caught my eye were the new Hoi Sin Duck, Surf and Turf and vegan Hanging Kebabs - they've done the hanging kebabs for a while but I was pleased to see a bit more variation in what you can have on them. They also have a larger selection of pies which I noticed were a popular choice among people around us; plus the Deli Boards which I do believe used to just be a lunch option but now they're available on the evening menu too.

I also noticed that they've upped their game with their vegan and gluten free choices in general and they have a QR code on the bottom of the menu which takes you to a full breakdown of the ingredients of each of the dishes which is very helpful if you do have specific dietary requirements.

After seeing Alice In Sheffield's Instagram stories, I decided to go for the Cheesy Garlic Bread and Kev went for the Calamari.




I think the picture of the garlic bread pretty much speaks for itself but just in case you need it confirming - it is amazing. That's a portion for one person but it could easily be shared because you do get a mini loaf to yourself. They are definitely not stingy with the cheese or the garlic butter and it comes in the most perfect little wicker basket.

Kev said that his calamari was better than Miller and Carter which is the ultimate compliment from him because before visiting the Botanist, in his eyes you couldn't beat Miller and Carter's calamari. He said the pieces were chunky enough to taste the squid but not rubbery at all; it was perfectly tender and perfectly seasoned with a gorgeous creme fraiche and chilli dip on the side.


For main course we both went for a hanging kebab; Kev's was the Salt and Pepper Pork and I went for the Surf and Turf which is pieces of fillet steak with shrimp; separated with red chillis. Kev was a little bit apprehensive about his choice because pork can easily be badly done; too fatty or tough but The Botanist got it absolutely spot on; and the sweet chilli drizzled over it was the perfect accompaniment.

My Surf and Turf was absolutely out of this world; don't be put off by the chillis if you're not a fan of spice because obviously you don't have to eat them (I certainly didn't) but they do add just a slight hint of spice to the meat on the skewer. The steak was perfectly cooked, as was the shrimp and I absolutely loved that the garlic butter had drizzled down the kebab and onto to my fries at the bottom.

As well as the pies, the hanging kebabs also seemed like a popular choice with other diners and we would wholeheartedly recommend them to anyone!

By this point, I was getting very, very full but I was determined to fit a pudding in because I'd already spotted the Brownie Hanging Kebab which I don't remember ever seeing before so that was my immediate choice, and Kev went for the Sticky Toffee Pudding.



The sticky toffee pudding was very much a traditional kind of dish, served with vanilla ice cream and a toffee sauce but the Brownie Hanging Kebab was a bit more of a novelty. The kebab had little pieces of brownie, chocolate covered waffle and marshmallow served with vanilla ice cream, candy floss and toffee drizzle to put over it or dip into... however you prefer to enjoy it!

The marshmallows were charred which made them extra tasty especially with a little bit of brownie and toffee sauce and the portion size was just right even though it looks like a lot on the actual kebab. The only drawback to this was the waffle; I didn't really enjoy it because I found it a bit dry - I much prefer warm waffles and this one just didn't do it for me unfortunately but I'd get it again just for the other parts of it!

We were both well and truly stuffed by the end of the meal but we were in full agreement that it was an amazing meal and we'll definitely be visiting again! If you'd like to book a table at The Botanist you can save 1/3 by booking through that link! (excluding Saturday bookings). You can also check out the autumn menu before you visit.

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3 Things That Are Worth Investing in for Your First House

THIS POST CONTAINS GIFTED PRODUCTS

There's no escaping the fact that buying your first house is an expensive time in life, not only have you got the price of the actual house plus solicitors fees to think about but you've then got to fill it with furniture, electricals and other bits and bobs... believe me it all adds up! But I think it's well worth knowing what's worth investing in to last you a while:

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Pans and Cookware - Trust me, decent pans are well worth investing in. You need to looking for non-stick ones with a non-metallic handle (because the handle gets unbearably hot if it's metal!!). Prestige sent me one of their new Thermo Smart frying pans* and I'm so impressed with it. Their Thermo Smart pans are diamond infused to give them the perfect non-stick surface and they come with a 5 year guarantee.

I can confirm that it's perfectly non stick, sturdy and is just big enough for everything I need. The first time I used it was when I was cooking a Gousto recipe and looking at the ingredients my main fear was that it was going to be such a pain to clean up but actually it was amazingly easy to clean; nothing stuck on it whatsoever and the green indicator on the handle was a great tool for knowing when the pan was ready to cook on. I made the mistake of buying my other pans without giving it much thought and they've got metal handles and have started to lose their non-stick coating I think so I really need to invest in some new ones - Prestige is definitely somewhere I would look and would recommend to anyone!

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Sofas - realistically, you're probably going to be spending a lot of your spare time on your sofas so you obviously want them to be a) comfortable, b) attractive and c) fairly hard wearing. Which believe me is a difficult trio to find. Mine is the Next Stamford Sofa and in all honesty, as much as I love the look of it and it is comfortable; it's not hard wearing at all even though I've rotated cushions, plumped cushions etc. so I'm afraid this one isn't necessarily one I would recommend purely for the fact that it hasn't worn well but this is kind of a word of 'warning' if you will - that sofas really are something you need to shop around for and do your market research.

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A good TV - again, the functional stuff is important but let's face it your TV is something you'll probably spend a fair bit of time in front of. I went for an LG 4K smart TV because I think their TVs are good quality and I like how user-friendly they are. Now I'm not saying that you need to invest in the latest 3D TV, but a 4K TV with smart capabilities is a good place to start - it means you don't have to mess around with any additional boxes to or plug ins to watch things like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

What would be your priorities in your first house?

How to get Your Home Ready for an Easy Sale

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There are many things that can impact upon how easy the sale of your house is, but the actual aesthetics really do play a massive part. Even if your home is on the market without furnishings, the way that you present the space will give potential buyers an inspiring vision of what they could achieve in each room. Getting the place ready for hopeful investors to come sweeping through doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think, as there are some simple and handy hacks that can make the process a breeze. Are you looking to sell your house and want to know more about what you can do to bag a quick sale? Then read on to uncover the best top tips that you can implement today!

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Create A More Minimalistic Canvas

Though you may be an eccentric and individual character, the patterns and colours that you adore so much may be another person's absolute worst nightmare. To suit every kind of buyer, the best thing that you can do is create a more minimalistic canvas that provides no glaring designs or standout crazy features, with soft vanilla or ivory white toned walls and a complete lack of clutter. You can retain aspects like sofas, beds, and other accessories even if they are potentially a little different, but allow the viewer to imagine themselves within the space with their own belongings. You can make your mark in your new home, just as they can make their own mark in your old property if they choose to make a purchase. 

Don’t Forget About Kerb Appeal

The way your home looks from the outside has a huge impact upon the likelihood of a sale, as it is essentially the first impression that buyers get of the property and this can immediately influence whether they want to invest. Allowing your home to become overrun with tall grass and wild weeds will make it look run down and unkempt, instantly putting even the most positive of buyers off entering. Give walls a fresh lick of paint (or power wash over bricks) to make it look fresh and inviting rather than old and drab, and add a few homely accessories or decorations such as a ‘welcome’ mat and pot of beautiful flowers at the door. 

Take The Advice Of Your Estate Agent

If you have done your research and found a trustworthy business like Movv estate agency to handle your sale, then take their advice no matter what. Estate agents operate with the main goal of selling your property as quickly as possible for as much money as possible, and with their masses of previous experience they truly know what steps to take to make it all happen smoothly. Ask them to visit your property and listen to all of the comments they have to say, as these will help you to grab a super quick and hassle free sale. 

Getting your home aesthetically ready needn’t be a chore!