A Night Out Drinking and Eating in York

My partner and I have really felt the pressure recently. I work full-time as a writer and he works funny shifts in the retail industry. We have seven children between us ranging from four to 21 and this is both stressful and time-consuming. Our house is a one-hundred-year-old four bedroomed house on the coast that has more holes in it than windows and we seem to spend our life repairing things. Also, both my cousin and my dad died suddenly shortly after Christmas. It was definitely time to let our hair down and have a break from the stresses and strains of life. 

At Christmas, I gave him an envelope containing a booking confirmation sheet for a night at Marmaduke’s Townhouse Hotel in York. He has often said to me he wanted to take me to York as it is a city he loves. My mum gave us money to have a nice meal while we were away.

Neither of us could wait as it is not often that we spend time on our own together, except when we are asleep. A night away together seemed like a real luxury and something that we were both looking forward to immensely.

The drive to York was lovely. Anyone who has ever had the pleasure of driving through Lancashire and Yorkshire will know what lovely views you can enjoy, even from the motorway. As soon as we arrived, we were keen to check out our room and then to explore York. Neither of us had eaten all day so we were starving and finding a restaurant was our number one priority. 

me1We enjoyed perusing through the streets and reading the menus outside the restaurant while we found somewhere we fancied eating. Some of the shops were still open, including two shops selling Harry Potter memorabilia. I took great delight in trying out some of the wands. 

We finally stopped for something to eat at Cafe Rouge, of which I have written a review on this blog. I had a camembert starter while my partner had an unusual egg in red wine sauce dish. We both opted for steak as the main. Usually, I do not have a dessert. I love them, but I only have a small appetite. However, I had nothing to eat earlier in the day and was starving, so chocolate torte for two it was!

Both me and my partner like a drink (or three!) but we rarely go out drinking. We decided to make the most of a night without any children and head off on a pub crawl. The first pub we visited was huge but had just an elderly couple sitting in the corner. Although we are middle-aged, I am 38 and he is 44, there is still life in us yet and we had hoped for something a little more lively. 

me and mike york

Instead, we took the advice of the bar staff and headed off to a grungy student bar called ‘Rolling Stones’. The fact that we were the oldest people in there didn’t put us off and we were soon drinking and playing pool against the students- and we won! This pic is us sat in the grungy student bar. 

When we decided to make a move to the next bar, the students decided they wanted to tag along. Even though it was a Sunday night in January and the streets were very quiet, my other half and I still managed to make a mini party for ourselves!

The next venue was a trendy cocktail bar called ‘The Drawing Board’. Again, this had a young vibe, but we soon had everyone in the bar talking to us- my partner likes being the centre of attention. 

me and mike york

Despite the hangovers the next day, we had a fantastic time at the ‘York Castle Museum’ and I loved dressing up in all the outfits and getting involved with the interactive activities- as you can see from the pics!

Despite going on a Sunday in the middle of January, I would definitely recommend an evening out in York eating and drinking. There is a great selection of restaurants and a diverse range of drinking venues to try. 

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Why is Breakfast So Difficult?

breakfast

NOTE: This photograph is quite clearly not my kitchen as I cannot face the shame of putting up a picture of the scene of devastation left by my kids in the morning! This is a free pic from Google Images chosen simply to represent breakfast. 

With 20 years of parenting experience and plenty of practice making homemade meals every day, you would think I had the breakfast routine pretty much sorted. However, that is definitely not the case and it seems the most difficult meal of the day to organize.

In the evenings, we always sit down together as a family to a homemade meal I have prepared. This usually involves me cooking using a variety of ingredients for approximately an hour before sitting down at the table. To make the meal, I will often have both the hob and the oven on while using an array of pans, dishes, and utensils.

At the same time as cooking, I usually have the dog running around my ankles, my younger children racing through the house, my older son asking about going out with his mates and my daughter ringing me to ask all sorts of ridiculous questions (she has just moved into her own place and realized she needs to function like a normal person). 

Despite these complications and distractions, I am perfectly capable of serving a decent meal to the family, so why can I not function to serve breakfast?

Breakfast at my house is typically either cereal, porridge, toast or a yogurt for the children and a strong cup of coffee for me. To achieve these two ‘meals’, I simply need to chuck a couple of slices of bread into a toaster and pour some cereal and milk into a bowl. Simple enough?

It seems to verge on the impossible to do this some days. Nobody seems to make it to the dining table at breakfast and eats their breakfast wherever they are sitting, I serve the wrong food to the wrong child on a regular basis, I burn the toast and spill cereal all over the kitchen. The minute the food hits the bowls, the children change their mind about what they want and they refuse to eat what you serve. 

Yes, a food blogger and former catering professional is admitting she cannot cook toast and serving cereal is an impossibility. I guess I am just not a morning person! I am just thankful that my husband feeds himself in the morning. 

How to Eat Healthily On a Budget

fruit and veg

One excuse that people often make for being overweight or unhealthy is that they cannot afford to eat well. They believe that eating convenience foods is cheaper than eating fresh foods. This doesn’t have to be the case. As a mum of four, I know how the groceries bill can soon add up but I still like to give my children a varied and balanced diet. Here are some ideas on how to eat healthily even when you are on a budget. 

Stock Up Your Cupboards

Buying lots of items that can be kept in the store cupboard is a good idea as these items will keep well. This will avoid the costs created when food is bought and then not used before its sell-by date. Items like pasta and rice are really cheap and are an excellent source of carbohydrates which are an essential part of a healthy, balanced diet. They also provide a lot of different options with regards to meal choice as you can serve them as part of many meals. Similarly, pulses are a really cheap option and are high in protein.  This includes tins of baked beans, although look at the salt content on the labels as this can sometimes be quite high. Tinned fruit and vegetables are also good to keep in your cupboards as they are inexpensive, store for longer and are usually prepared so you will save time as well as money.

Shop Frequently, Buy Less

One of the main reasons why people believe that buying fresh and healthy food is more expensive is because they have a big shop and then throw lots of food away as it has gone off or is past its use by date.  However, if you made the simple change of shopping more frequently and only buying items of food that you are going to use over using for the next few days, then this can be easily avoided.

Grow Your Own Vegetables

This is the ultimate way to save money and eat fresh, healthy foods. To grow a few simple items will not require you to have a large garden or to be particularly green-fingered. If you have a windowsill or a balcony, then you can grow a few vegetables- not enough to feed your family for the next year, but it’s a start.  Packets of seeds cost pence to buy.  Some of the simplest fruit and vegetables to grow yourself are tomatoes and courgettes.  Of course, if you are green-fingered and you have a large garden then you can plant fruit trees, potatoes and any vegetables that your family enjoy. 

Cheaper Cuts of Meat

People often dismiss the cheaper cuts of meat, but these are often the tastiest cuts. They are usually particularly well-suited to longer cooking methods, such as stewing or braising. Therefore, they are ideal for throwing into a slow-cooker with some water and vegetables before you leave for work and you will have a delicious and healthy casserole to come home to at the end of the day. Remember, to remove the fat before cooking!

Offers and Vouchers

Look out for any foods that are on offer or that you have collected vouchers for.  Many supermarkets have offers on healthier items such as fruit and vegetables as they are trying to promote healthier living.