19 October, 2014

Review: Ox Pasture Hall - A Stunning Wedding Location - Part 3

While strolling around the beautiful grounds after breakfast, we came across the beginnings of a wedding. A videographer was on site and members of a wedding party were assisting in setting up some handmade extras as clearly instructed by the bride. Taking in the scenery it was clear to see why this wedding couple had chosen Ox Pasture Hall for their big day. With their own dedicated wedding venue to the side of the main building, its spacious enough to cater for a large wedding party, and the team are flexible enough to allow you to add your own details in order for your wedding to be a personal one.

Given the awesome-ness of the day with autumnal light shining beautifully, I was snap happy, flicking between automatic and manual mode with ease. Lets take a moment to appreciate the beautiful surroundings.

Another lovely aspect about staying at Ox Pasture Hall is that dogs and cats are welcome and every now and again you would spot one out for a stroll with their own. Along our mini walk, we met Benny, a member of the wedding party and who we learned had a vital role to play in the wedding too!. While you may think having pets on site could be a negative aspect to staying there, I found it added to the sense of home and as dog lover, I was happy to say hello to a few along the way.

Overall, we had a fantastic stay. Relaxing, refreshing and enjoyable, I was sorry to check out later that morning. Without a doubt, Ox Pasture Hall is set among some of the most beautiful scenery I've ever visited, but to top off a perfect stay with incredible food, it has to be said that all staff members there went out of their way to make our stay more than comfortable. Friendly, diligent and attentive, they were the real jewel in the crown.

The one night stay with meals was provided and paid for by Ox Pasture Hall. An invite to stay and dine does not always result in a positive review, however on this occasion I was more than happy with the stay and service received and I would be happy to return to Ox Pasture Hall for a paid stay.

16 October, 2014

Review: Ox Pasture Hall - Fine Dining & A Hearty Breakfast - Part 2

I knew from the get go, we were in for a treat. Having viewed the menu in advance, I was excited. Robert and I have been to our share of fancy restaurants over the years, some with the pretense and glamour of a Michelin star but the Ox Pasture Hall menu proved to be a culinary gem, set deep in the heart of the countryside. Their menu looked well thought out, serving foods in season and it read mouth watering-ly delicious. 

Their courtyard restaurant is simple, yet pretty and the waiting staff quickly attended to us both, ensuring we felt more than welcome. Within minutes of being seated we received an extensive wine menu. We opted for a Pinot Grigio, a firm favourite among the two of us. Browsing through the menu, there was more than one starter I wanted to try so Robert and I made a truce of opting to pick something each so that we could try each others.

Robert selected the Yorkshire Coast Fishcake with pea puree and a soft poached egg, while I chose a duck starter which included a Confit Duck Salad, Duck Liver Parfait and Cherry Sorbet. On receiving our starters, we were struck by the finesse with which it was assembled. Presented to perfection, it seemed almost a shame to get stuck in, but we did. There were not enough complimentary adjectives to describe how delicious my food tasted. The marriage of duck and cherry a perfect one and the entire dish so more-ish and perfectly executed, I could have eaten it twice over.

Roberts starter looking just as appetizing, tasted delicious The fishcake, not one bit overcooked tasted sweet and wholesome and was complimented by some beautiful green pea puree and the perfect poached egg which proved to be runny when dived into. Poached eggs in particular are a favourite among the two of us and a perfect poached egg is often hard to master.

For our mains, I opted to chose a lighter meal and selected Oven Roasted Cod with Chorizo Ratatouille, fondant potatoes and red pepper coulis. Robert chose the beef which was composed of a mini Beef Fillet, tender Brisket of Beef, creamed mashed potato, a mushroom duxelle, baby turnip and carrot. Again, the presentation of each meal was faultless. Just like Roberts fishcake, my fish mains was cooked to perfection, breaking away with each mouthful and poke of a fork. The chorizo and red pepper coulis added a bit of spice and kick, nothing overpowering, just complimentary.

Robert requested his beef to be cooked medium rare and it was cooked just as he likes it and just as requested. Upon tasting his, I was a little jealous I didn't choose it myself. It was delicious, absolutely delicious. The beef fillet and brisket were full of flavour and very tender. The creamed mashed potato was the stuff dreams are made of and the mini vegetables tasted amazing in their own right. Between the starters and mains, the flavours from each meal were simply stunning and a real treat for us to both enjoy with Robert commenting that the beef was probably one of the nicest he had ever tried.

No meal is complete without dessert and while I initially looked through the menu I spotted a creme brulee, but no ordinary brulee a raspberry one. I decided to give it a whirl. The raspberry creme brulee arrived bright and pink with a mini raspberry milkshake on the side and a lovely crumbling shortbread biscuit. Initially I found the dessert to be very sweet, but none the less I really enjoyed it. Robert found himself ducking into it on more than one occasion. For his dessert, he picked the Caribbean cocktail. A mini selection of desserts, he was gifted with a coconut panacotta, mango rice pudding, passion-fruit sorbet and a mini pina colada. It looked like a party on a plate, full  of sunshine with each element tasting as sweet and fruity as the next.

The service from all the waiting staff that evening (with another special mention for Alan!) was excellent. Tentative but not overbearing, all members of staff ensured that not just Robert and I, but that all guests that evening were very well looked after. With full and happy bellies, we made our way back to our room to dive into that king size bed for a night of deep sleep.

In the morning, we woke up slowly, as you do on a lazy Saturday. Making our way to breakfast, the morning presented us with the most beautiful light frost and sunshine. A perfect, crisp autumn day showing Ox Pasture Hall in the most amazing light. Breakfast was served in the same venue as the night before and we tucked into the usual spread of cereal, fruits, pastries and juices before both ordering a full Yorkshire English.

Our waitress for the morning brought us some hot tea and a selection of toast and I was more than a little excited to try the mini pots of jam and honey left on our table. I don't know what it is, but I have a soft spot for those little pots and combined with some butter and a croissant and its a little piece of weekend heaven. Our hot breakfasts arrived and choosing poached eggs to accompany our breakfast, it was hearty, hot and perfect to fuel us for the day ahead. The black pudding in particular was some of the nicest I personally had ever tasted and dipped into my gooey eggs, I was one happy lady.

One of the loveliest aspects of our breakfast was enjoying it in some bright autumnal sunshine, watching the last of the frost glistening on the grass, drinking deep into our cups of tea and consuming all the colours of the outdoors. The final part of our stay and review shares the gorgeousness of the scenery and the preparations in progress we viewed for a wedding taking place later that day! We also took the opportunity, given the perfectness of the morning, to take an extensive walk of their grounds. Trust me, I never felt so camera happy.

The meals supplied on the evening and morning were provided and paid for by Ox Pasture Hall. An invite to stay and dine does not always result in a positive review, however on this occasion I was more than happy with the meals and food supplied and service received and I would be happy to return to Ox Pasture Hall for a paid stay.

14 October, 2014

Coffee, Cake and Chats - Making Friends as an Adult - Part 2

Nearly a year ago, I wrote this post about how hard it can be to make friends as an adult. I don't just mean the 'you've turned 18 and can legally vote' type of adult, but the 'you have full time job and lots of responsibilities' type of adult. You have your core group of friends from childhood that have seen and supported you through thick and thin but what do you do when you don't live near them. What do you do when you're actually a long train trip or even a plane ride away?

Moving to Manchester a year ago I found myself in this situation. The only people I knew was my boyfriend and his best friend who had also moved here a few years earlier. I had no choice but to make it on my own. I had to through myself out there and find a few like minded souls interested in taking me under their friendship wing. 

The obvious idea was to search for groups and communities of people with similar interests and hey presto, membership into the Manchester blogger community began which one day lead to the following tweet last July. "I'm so happy to have found another Irish blogger in Manchester!" - I may have squealed a little. A fellow Irish blogger was reaching out to me the way I had been trying to reach out to others. That tweet lead to a reply, which lead to more tweets which lead to private tweets and then, ultimately a few texts and then a meet up over the August bank holiday. Meeting initially on Twitter, my boyfriend was a tad wary, I even had to show the other persons blogger as proof she wasn't a cray cray murderer!

The tweeter and non cray, cray murderer in question, the lovely Breige (could she sound more Irish?) from Co.Clare from the blog A Rare Opal. Funnily enough, our reasons for coming to Manchester were crazy similar. We had both decided to move here due to our boyfriends being offered places on graduate schemes and we both moved over around the same time of year back in 2013, and we both found a little solace on the Manchester Blogger Facebook page. 

Opting for the ever popular Sugar Junction, we met up and clicked straight away, chatting about the transition from Ireland to England, how it's impossible to get a decent bill paying phone (we have no UK credit history, so no one will give us a bill phone!), and the differences between Irish and British banter and humor in the workplace. FYI, even though Ireland is only a 40 minute flight away, the cultural differences can be very apparent (and funny!).

I think we both thought we would chat for about an hour or two but our conversation went on for a staggering six! Lots of coffee and cake was consumed and it felt more than great to properly connect with someone, to make a new friend and just have a chat and a laugh. Making friends as an adult in a new town or new country doesn't happen over night and it's certainly not always easy, but thankfully, a year on, thanks to my first UK job and blogging, I can add a few new lovely friends to my list. 

13 October, 2014

Review: Ox Pasture Hall, Scarborough, North Yorkshire - Part 1

Over the weekend, Robert and I had the absolute pleasure of staying a night in the very lovely Ox Pasture Hall. A two and a half hour easy drive from Manchester city, we decided to make the most of our stay by hiring a car and whizzing out of the city early on Friday evening in order to avoid any weekend rush traffic. In hindsight, it was a decision well made.

Cruising along the motorway and taking in some beautiful scenery, we made it to Scarborough in no time. Often when staying somewhere a little off the beaten track you worry yourself about finding your lodgings,but Ox Pasture Hall didn't cause us an ounce of worry or stress and I've since found out that if you travel by train, a taxi fare from the station will only cost you about £7. Worth it, if you ask me.

Upon arriving, we easily found a parking space and were immediately taken in by the array of flora and fauna surrounding the hotel. Ox Pasture Hall has well kept gardens which appear to be tended by someone who understands how to make a garden look rustic, organic and a touch overgrown - but in designer, naturalistic way. Almost something you'd spot at the Chelsea Flower Show and award a gold medal to. With the autumn colours starting to peep through, it proved to be a warm and welcoming sight.

We unloaded our luggage and made our way to reception. Greeted promptly by Alan, he welcomed us to the hotel and took the time to show us to our room. A short walk through some courtyards, passing more beautiful landscaping and some flowing water features, Alan presented us with our home for the night. The staff at Ox Pasture Hall had generously opted for us to stay in one of their luxury suites. Impeccably clean and well presented, the suite felt like a self contained apartment. A home away from home. 

Part of the suite contains a dedicated living space complete with a flat screen TV, a soft two seater sofa and ample storage for all your clothing etc. Gasping for a cuppa I set about making some tea and dived straight into the supply of biscuits on offer. More than enough was supplied in the form of tea bags, milk, sugar and even hot chocolate which tasted sweet and not too powdery which can often be the case with those sachets. We were also supplied with two large bottles of water and as Robert, guzzles water like a camel, he certainly made use of it. 

The bathroom was stocked with fluffy towels and more than enough mini beauty essentials. It's normally standard to find a complimentary shower gel and shampoo in a hotel, however Ox Pasture Hall added a few extra touches which in my book go along way. Further supplies included cotton wool and buds, a sweet smelling body lotion, a soft soap and tissues. These little extras show thought and consideration to the guest and as someone who forgot to bring moisturizer and cotton wool with her, they proved to be more than handy. I'd go so far as to say that Ox Pasture Hall rescued me in my hour of beauty need.

The bathroom facilities felt clean, modern and like a real treat. The luxury suites come equipped with a spacious bath with room for two and a rain shower, powerful enough to wake you in the morning after your deep slumber. I had such a cosy and good nights sleep in their king size bed that I felt a little sad that I couldn't opt for a duvet day and just set up camp and watch TV for the day. That's the other thing, as well as providing a TV in the living area, another is provided in the bedroom. I felt spoilt.

As we prepared for dinner, Robert made use of their bath robes, two of which were supplied and it was refreshing to see that both an iron and ironing board were stored in the wardrobe. Rocking back up to reception to request an iron or ironing board or even both is often a little bug bearer of mine. Our suite supplied us with everything we needed in order to relax, prepare for dinner,sleep well and ultimately feel rested after a busy week of work.

Adding to the suites sense of calm was the view. Overlooking green pastures and grazing cattle, staying in this room you felt like you were in the middle of nowhere, lost in the countryside, truly getting away from it all. As the sun began to set and sky changed, we began to prepare for dinner. Our bellies rumbling, I had eyed up the menu in advance of our trip, so I knew we were in for something special. More on our delicious meal in part 2 of our visit.

The suite supplied on the evening was provided and paid for by Ox Pasture Hall. An invite to stay does not always result in a positive review, however on this occasion I was more than happy with the room supplied and service received and I would be happy to return to Ox Pasture Hall for a paid stay.

06 October, 2014

Preloved Vintage Event - Night and Day, Manchester


A lovely email popped into the The Lucky Rainbow inbox a few weeks back inviting me down to the Preloved Vintage Event taking place in the bar Night and Day located in my favourite part of Manchester, the Northern Quarter. As luck would have it, lots of other fabulous Manchester bloggers were attending also so it was the perfect opportunity to catch up with some familiar faces and exchange chatter over a lovely glass of free prosecco.

Starting back in 1998 Preloved's mission is to help you buy and sell second hand and previously loved items. It's different to the likes of Ebay or even Etsy, in that there are no auctions, listing or selling fees and obviously promoting buying second hand means its awesome for our lovely planet too.  Having had a browse on their website, I've spotted a few bargains already. I'm only dying to dress up our little apartment with a few trinkets and art pieces and Preloved is a cheaper alternative to hitting the likes of Ikea.

Us bloggers were given a little heads up advantage over members of the public and were allowed to arrive 30 minutes earlier so that we could snap up anything we desired in advance. The lovely Breige from the Rare Opal blog (go check out her nail polish addiction!)  and I arranged to meet up and travel over together and it was a real treat to get a glass of bubbly and a goody bag on arrival. 

Breige and I made a beeline for all the cute stalls at the back of the bar and it wasn't long before we were knee deep in all kinds of treasure and we ducked and dived around all the vintage goodies while listening to some lovely music. We spotted and got chatting to Susan from Susan Styles You and heard all about what she has been up to lately, She was rocking an amazing skirt and looking back I should have taken a photo of her, as she was looking impeccable as always! I finally got to meet in person, Emma from Miss Pond, and was introduced to Cat from Cat Girl Blogs. I also got to say a quick hello to the always lovely Georgie from She dreams. Sometimes the best part about attending these events is catching up with the lovely blogging community and inevitably you end up being introduced to more people and thus discovering more blogs.

There were also some stalls selling some lovely foods and it wasn't long before I came across some delicious homemade chutney. I am a slave to that stuff and combined with the perfect cheese....oh my! We were lucky enough to receive a mini free sample in our goody bags and I'm on the hunt for the perfect complimentary cheese. I particularly loved the gorgeous flower fabric adorning the jars, a change from the usual gingham.  Great tastes and flavours from the team behind 'Love Spreads'

While I didn't pick up any items myself, it was so lovely to have a rummage around all the beauts on display from Oxfam and I later heard that over £300 was raised on the night. I'm a little nervous buying vintage clothing sometimes often preferring to buy little trinkets for my flat much to the amusement of my other half.

Thanks to Preloved for inviting me along and for a lovely chilled and relaxed evening.

05 October, 2014

Why September + Students = No Blogging

Well hello there!

It's been quite a while, I know. I mean it's been weeks since I've put a proper and robust blogging schedule together and part of me hates that I'm writing this post to apologise or explain my absence from the blogging world, but it's simply because at this time of year (mid August to late September) my 'bread and butter' job goes into mayhem mode. 

By day, I work with students in halls of residence and given that thousands of them have just descended onto Manchester once more, you can't even begin to imagine the workload it creates for my team and I. It can be tough mentally and physically but you feed off the energy from the excited first years and their anxious parents and go from there. 

Before you know it, it's late September, the workload decreases and you realise you've neglected your little corner of the interweb, you've a trillion - million blog posts to read and you've missed interacting with all your blogger buddies from near and far! So apologies folks if you've been wondering why it's been nothing but tumbleweed  and cobwebs here. Someone, somewhere needs to help me source additional hours in the month of September!

So, whats coming up now that Autumn is here? Lots and lots! I've been to a few, awesome Manchester blogging events recently, so pics and posts to follow. I've had the opportunity to meet some lovely new bloggers that I've admired from afar and get to know better and I'm still enjoying the perks of eating clean. 

In the coming months, I will be increasing the blog post output. I recently made it to the finalist list for best blogger in the category of 'Disapora Bloggers' in the Irish Blog Awards and it's really inspired me to write more and write better. While I didn't win the overall award, it was an honor to be nominated, shortlisted and placed on the finalist list. It's more than nice to know there are readers and fellow bloggers out there enjoying your output and going to the trouble of completing a nomination form just so you can receive a little recognition. I'm feeling all warm and fuzzy inside.

So, increasing some lovely blog posts, sharing some more fabulous blogging events and more than a few more ideas up my sleeve, The Lucky Rainbow is back in action once more. Queue happy dance, I've missed you all.

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