Archive | August, 2016

Baking along with the Bake Off: the good old Jaffa Cake

29 Aug

It would seem as though everyone is making Jaffa Cakes this week. I am no exception.

If you’re anything like me, you LOVE the Great British Bake Off. For me, it’s the only thing that makes the summer transition into autumn bearable.

The first episode didn’t disappoint. With a record number of cake do-overs, and enough innuendos to keep all the non-bakers like my boyfriend happy, there was plenty to entertain us all.

My initial favourite is Selasi and I have to admit I’ve got a soft spot for Val.

For the last few years I’ve attempted to bake along with the Bake Off and failed miserably. This year I’m going to try harder.

So, like everyone else in the country, I decided to give Jaffa cakes a try.

I’m not going to lie, I found it hard – even with Mary Berry’s recipe! I definitely won’t be applying for the Bake Off anytime soon. 



I’ve always loved Jaffa Cakes but I appreciate them all the more after today. Never again will I turn my nose up at a not-quite-centre jelly circle in a Jaffa Cake!

I enjoyed it though – and they taste pretty nice, even if I do say so myself.

In case you haven’t had a go yet and would like to try them out, you can find Mary’s recipe here

 Next week is biscuit week. Argh!


Review: Hop & Cleaver

20 Aug

Arguably, Newcastle’s Quayside is one of the most attractive part of the city (for a tourist like me at least).

As well as a setting that never fails to impress me, it boasts some of the best cafes and restaurants that Newcastle  has to offer.

One of those is the Hop & Cleaver.

Despite being in plain site, you could be forgiven for missing the Hop & Cleaver, its unassuming facade not giving much away.

Yet inside lies a real gem. Much like its neighbour, The Red House, its nooks and crannies make it cosy and its exposed brickwork gives some of its history away. Unlike its neighbour though, it’s more open and modern, complete with craft ales and flashing sign.

The boyfriend and I have been dying to try this restaurant since we moved up here so it seemed the perfect choice for a pre-birthday meal (his not mine).

Neither of us were disappointed.

I was a bit boring and chose the burger, although it was a mighty fine choice. The boyfriend, meanwhile, opted for a smoked sausage and chicken wings crate. We were both VERY impressed!

The only thing that let the meal down was the side of onion rings. They were ENORMOUS which I was pleased with but were a bit too oily for my liking. The special vanilla dip with it was really interesting, although the boyfriend wasn’t massively keen.

My sweet tooth couldn’t resist the chocolate brownie for dessert (the pull of bourbon vanilla was too much for my weak-willed Weight Watcher brain). It was worth all the millions of points it cost me though – it tasted just as delicious as it looks!

Both for taste and value for money (less than £40 for 2 courses and drinks) I would rate the Hop and Cleaver five out of five. The service, at times, was a little slow but all staff were very friendly. 

We went on a rainy day but the restaurant also has a lovely looking outdoor area which I expect is popular in the sunshine.

If you get chance you should definitely go.

Reading Challenge: Book 16 complete

17 Aug

If you’re anything like me, you were one of the first in line to see Me Before You at the cinema, having been obsessed with the book.

Finding out there was a sequel was even more exciting; what would happen to Louisa? What type of adventures would we follow her on?

I was also a little worried about being disappointed – I had loved the first one so much, what if the second one was awful?

That me the biggest fear for an author too.

 I needn’t have worried though, and I’d Jojo Moyes was at all worried she needn’t be either.

After You wasn’t what I expected but it far exceeded those expectations.

It also thoroughly deserves to be my ‘book guaranteed to bring you joy’ tickbox on the Popsugar list.I

I use the word joy loosely – she broke my heart (visibly on a plane) before sticky taping it back together again. But the overall feeling on closing the book was definitely a happy one.

After you, much like its predecessor, will remain proudly on my bookshelf with the rest of my favourites, forever more.

Reading Challenge: Book 15 complete

15 Aug

Having whizzed through my last few books on holiday, I was surprised by how long it took me to get through book 15, Go Set A Watchman.


I loved To Kill A Mockingbird and had assumed I would love this. I was right, but it took me a long time to realise it (52 days according to the date on my last blog post).

Go Set A Watchman was slow to get into and then made incredibly difficult reading. It was meant to make you uncomfortable, but it didn’t make it easy to read. Only in the last couple of sections did I really begin to realise what a great piece of writing this book was, and how Harper Lee had definitely not let any of her fans down.

It may have been hard to read but it was 100% worth it. And sadly the lessons it teaches are as applicable now, post Brexit, as they were when the book is set. You would hope we’d moved on from the 1950s, sadly we have but only to a different race.

This one doesn’t really fit into any of the Popsugar categories. Luckily it was the first book I saw in the airport bookshop though so I’m ticking that box 🙂