24/12/12 - The Eating House at the Derbyshire Craft Centre

I am a terrible blogger.  Please forgive me for my lack of commitment (blame long work days, desperately trying to catch up with everyone I haven't seen for months and pretending to do uni work whilst actually devouring the first two series of Downton Abbey), and accept this little cafe review as a token of my apology.

My grandparents live in Chesterfield, Derbyshire and over my twenty years of travelling backwards and forwards to visit them, I have become very accustomed to the route.  To this day, I couldn't name half of the places we go through on the journey, but there are certain places that I recognise every time we pass by them.  The Derbyshire Craft Centre is one of them.  It's a really lovely little shop selling all sorts of knick-knacks - from greetings cards and books, to local preserves and toiletries - and located at Calver Bridge, near Baslow and ten miles north of Matlock Bath, in the heart of the Peak District (all location information taken from tourist information websites...as I said, I don't really know where it is!)  If you ever find yourself in the area, I recommend going and having a look; I always find something cute that I want to buy, and this time I was greatly tempted by some adorable Christmas decorations.  Maybe next year!  Unfortunately I didn't get any pictures of the actual shop, but I did get some of the main focus of this post: The Eating House.

While the cafe in the craft centre isn't huge, it is definitely worth trying to squeeze a table.  The food is much more interesting than your typical coffee shop fare of toasties and various paninis, and the selection of cakes is extensive and delicious.  We used to eat here regularly when visiting my grandparents, but in more recent years we've waited until we got there to have lunch.  So this was the first time we've stopped en route in around five years.  And it was just as good as I remembered!  I apologise for the dodgy iPod photos - I hadn't been expecting to blog on this trip, so I didn't bring my camera.

Before we could tuck into all those amazing cakes, we had to start with something savoury.  I was really impressed by the range of vegetarian options, and my pescetarian family were happy tucking into a seafood sharing platter which I have to admit, looked very tasty!  I went for baked Camembert which came with some lovely warm crusty bread, red onion marmalade and a side salad.  My only qualm with this meal was the sheer amount of celery they included - a fact very easily overlooked when confronted with a beautiful gooey mass of cheese!  It was absolutely delicious; the bread was lovely and you got just the right amount for a perfect cheese:onion:bread ratio (something which is very easy to get wrong, in my opinion).  Needless to say, this went down very well, considering the fact that I basically scraped the inside of the cheese box clean with my fork!

And then it was dessert time!  After much deliberation, we each chose a different cake to sample and then the customary passing of forkfuls of food commenced.  They were all really impressive.  I had the almond cake and I have to say, it was wonderful - really light and creamy, with just the right amount of nutty flavour.  The fruit on the side was a nice touch, and the red currants added an extra tangy bite which was perfect for the rest of the sweet dish.

Clockwise from top left: white chocolate and red currant brownie, 
cranberry and mincemeat tart, raspberry and coconut tart, 
and Austrian almond cake.

I definitely recommend a look into the Derbyshire Craft Centre, even if you don't have chance to stop for lunch.  It's the perfect place for a little browse, followed by coffee and a cake.  They don't have an official website but if you give it a cheeky Google, you'll be able to find directions and more.  If you have any food recommendations, whack them down in the comments - I'm always eager to try new places!

And I hope all my beautiful readers have an absolutely wonderful festive reason, whatever it is you're doing!  I'm really looking forward to having a few relaxing, family-centric days - probably away from the Internet (shock horror).  I intend to eat my weight in roast potatoes and seasonal chocolate, watch endless amounts of festive TV, and just enjoy a little breather before wedding madness begins.  As of today, we're looking at five days and counting...so I'd better not eat too much, or I won't squeeze into my bridesmaid dress!

I'll be blogging more consistently in the New Year, so it's goodbye for now.  See you in 2013!

11/12/12 - So here it is...Merry Christmas!

It's that time of year again but in the life of a third year university student, Christmas isn't quite as magical as it used to be when I was little.  This year, it means deadlines, spending a lot of money I can't afford, and working as much as I can to compensate for spending so much.  The freezing weather and little bit of snow we've had is less fun when you're paying for your own bills and can't afford to put the heating on.  Also, as my cousin is getting married a few days after Christmas, this festive season is going to be pretty hectic.  But this week, I've been making the most of having handed in my essays and having a little bit of time before my Christmas full of research essays and long shifts begins.  

First, we had our little house Christmas - Secret Santa presents and Dominoes takeaway, finished off with mulled wine and watching The Holiday.  Absolutely perfect.  I love my housemates to bits.

It can be hard to feel festive in a student house, so I 'invested' in some Christmas bedding!  Not only does it look fun, it's really warm and cosy as well.  Primark have done themselves proud.

It's also a time for catching up with people.  Even though we see each other every week (and more recently, with our showcase rehearsals, practically every day), the Performing Arts exec committee went for one last coffee of 2012.  It was also quite a big deal as Anna, our treasurer and musical director, is leaving us next semester to do a placement in Leeds...she will be greatly missed!

Chocolate orange hot chocolate and a warm brownie - heaven!

This coffee happened the day after our society Christmas meal; it was really nice to get everyone together and eat some delicious food before hitting Piper, a local club, in full festive gear!

Oh, and I dyed my hair darker!

And then tomorrow, I'm heading home.  It's really strange to think that I've had my last Christmas at university - this time next year, who knows where I'll be and what I'll be doing?  But I'm not going to dwell on that!  I'm going to head home to get spoiled by my lovely family (unless the novelty wears off and they get fed up of me), catch up with all my friends that I haven't seen for months, and eat my weight in mince pies.

What are your plans this Christmas?  I hope you all have a wonderful festive season, no matter what you're doing.

05/12/12 - TAG: My Beauty Firsts

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Now, I know I'm not specifically a beauty blogger, but I was tagged by the wonderful Lauren (definitely check out her blog, it's brilliant) and couldn't resist.  This tag originally existed on YouTube (created by Lily Pebbles and Anna of 'Vivianna Does Makeup'), but was converted to blog format by Laura.  I'm suuuuuper busy with university at the moment but this was a nice easy post to write, so I feel like I'm still in the swing of this blogging thing.  A lovely procrastination tool.  Here we go...

1. What is your earliest beauty memory?
Mine is probably wearing the stunning combination of obscene amounts of orange foundation, blue eyeshadow and red lipstick for dancing shows and amateur musical theatre performances.  This started from a young age and it wasn't until I was about fifteen or sixteen that I learned how to tone it down and still look human under the stage lights.

I tried to find a photo of this monstrosity of a make-up look and was 'unfortunately' unable.  Shame.

2. What was your first beauty purchase?
The earliest I can remember is a Collection 2000 Dazzle Dust in what I believe is (after a cheeky Google) the shade Sugarplum.  I don't know why I thought pink glittery eyeshadow was a good look, but apparently I did.

3. When did you first wear make-up?
Other than for stage shows, I remember getting my mum to help me apply an eyeshadow that I believe came off the front of 'Girl Talk' magazine for a Year 5 disco.  I can only imagine how wonderful I looked.

4. What was your first beauty disaster?
Emo eyeliner.  For sure.  I look back at photos from my MySpace (that's how long ago it was) and wonder why I was ever allowed to leave the house with so much black kohl pencil on my waterline.

5. Who was your first beauty crush?
I can't honestly say that I have an answer to this question.  I have no recollection of who this could possibly be.

6. What was your first brand crush?
Probably Barry M, Miss Sporty or Collection 2000 - cheap and cheerful, that was my young teenage make-up bag.  Since then, I have moved onto bigger and better things, although I do have a few old favourites that I love, particularly for the small price tag.
7. What's your longest standing beauty love?
I would say either Rimmel London Exaggerate eye liner (I really like the applicator) or Collection 2000 pressed powder - I use the lightest shade in winter and it looks a bit like super pale Hallowe'en make-up, but it's very cheap so I don't even mind when it smashes in my bag...which often happens.

And that's all folks!  I would like to tag; Emma, Charlie and Jemma - they all have amazing blogs, so check them out while you're there.  And anyone else reading this, feel free to complete it yourself and link me up!