Turtle Bay's New Summer Menu

Turtle Bay has always been one of my favourite restaurants and bars. It has an atmosphere like no other with soulful reggae music, friendly and approachable staff and decor that makes you feel like you're in the Caribbean whatever town you are in. The one thing that has always let the restaurant down for me personally has been the lack of vegetarian food, but thanks to the new summer menu, that has changed.

The new summer menu at Turtle Bay now consists of 15 new dishes and 7 new drinks and comprises of lighter, fresh, gluten free, veggie and vegan options as well as a few new Caribbean classics. The cocktails had had a summery rum makeover with new Rum Margarita and Rum Negroni as well as two old favourites which have returned due to popular demand, Goombay Smash and Roots Culture.

I was recently invited down to the Huddersfield branch of Turtle Bay to test out the new summer menu and I couldn't wait to sample all the new vegetarian dishes. Before delving into the food, I decided to test out two of the latest cocktails, the Rum Negroni (on the left)  and the Roots Culture (on the right). The Roots Culture is possibly one of my new favourite cocktails. Made with Uncle Wray overproof rum and served with strawberry and raspberry liqueur, lime and lemonade, it has a sweet taste that reminds me of a raspberry ripple minus the vanilla. The Rum Negroni was a mix of Old J Rum, Campari, red Vermouth and served over ice, it was lovely, but a little bit too strong for my liking. If you prefer smoother, richer classic cocktails then that one is for you.

When it came down to ordering the food, for the first time I was actually spoilt for choice. Long gone are the days where vegetarians are an afterthought at Turtle Bay, there's enough dishes to cater for all different tastes and food cravings. For starter, I decided to order the Okra Ladies' fingers which was spiced panko coated okra fingers with mango mole, fresh lime and coriander mayo. It was a flavour and texture sensation with felt light on the palette and left me wanting more. Everything from the mango to the okra and the lime and coriander mayo all worked in harmony and it was a wonderful new addition to the starters menu. Also new on the starter menu for veggies is the Vital Veggie Platter for those looking for a sharing dish. The veggie platter is a mix of all Turtle Bay's best vegetarian starter offerings - sweet corn fritters, crispy okra, jerk pit grilled mushroom and peppers with a coconut glaze, pepper roti, bara flat bread, spiced curried chickpeas and cucumber chutney, herb mayo and super green salad.

The new main course vegetarian options were spinach, aubergine and sweet potato curry, a mushroom and goats cheese burger, a chickpea wrap or three different types of salads  - the supervital green salad, avocado, butternut squash and mango salad or the spinach, rainbow beets and watermelon salad. I decided to order the vegan aubergine and sweet potato curry which consisted of green beans, kidney beans and sugar snap peas cooked in Jamaican spice and served with steamed rice and roti bread. The dish was warming and hearty, but I did expect a little bit more from it and I would have prefer the coconut rice and pea accompaniment which comes with my usual order, the rundown. However, I did manage to eat every last mouthful and walked away from the restaurant with my belly full and feeling satisfied.

Overall I'm really impressed with the new menu and glad that they have decided to expand the vegetarian section. It gets really tiring as a vegetarian to visit restaurants and find out there's one or two options on the menu, so it is refreshing to have so much choice and I'm sure vegans and people who are gluten free will also be satisfied with the new additions.  The new menu options have given me even more of a reason to go back to my local Turtle Bay and I'm looking forward to sampling a few more of the dishes next time.

Have you been to Turtle Bay before?

*This meal was complimentary in exchange for this review.
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Affordable May Bank Holiday Ideas

Another month is almost over and spring bank holiday is almost upon us. If you have been caught off guard by how fast this month has flown by and haven't got any plans for bank holiday yet, hopefully my affordable bank holiday tips will give you some ideas. Bank holiday can be an expensive affair if you haven't planned for it - it's three days where we tend to let all inhibitions go out of the window and tend to say 'it's bank holiday, why not?' This then leads to three days of expensive trips, days of shopping or general spontaneity. There's nothing wrong with being spontaneous, but if you plan ahead and create yourself an ideal bank holiday itinerary, you're less likely to do any impulsive spending.

Go for a picnic

If the weather is bright and sunny, why not head to your local park or place of interest and have a picnic? Picnics are a great way of enjoying the great outdoors and enjoying some of your own tasty treats, as well as being a lot cheaper than heading to a pub or restaurant. If you're heading out with friends consider taking some chilled prosecco and strawberries for an upmarket affair. If you don't have anywhere local to have a picnic, why not look at setting one up in your garden? You can make it an intimate meal between you and your partner or invite some friends along to listen to some music.

Take a long walk

Bank holidays are a great time for going on long walks with the family, friends and your four legged furry friends if applicable. You have two days either side to recover if you fancy taking a long hike and with England having so many beautiful landscapes for you to explore, you are simply spoilt for choice. Struggling to find somewhere to walk? Head to your local tourist information or look at websites such as Walkiees which is dedicated to free dog walking hotspots around the UK,

Visit your local museums/ art galleries

If you would rather spend your days indoors and you prefer spending your day absorbing some culture or learning about history, check out your local museums or art galleries. Many art galleries across the UK are free to enter and local museums can be considerably cheaper than bigger tourist attractions and they will really appreciate the visitors.

Go to a car boot sale

Car boot sales may not be everyone's cup of tea, but if you like grabbing a bargain and looking for some hidden treasures, the best time to head to a car boot sale is over a bank holiday weekend. You'll get more for your money than hitting the high street and you can make it fun by challenging each other to find the best bargain.

What do you like doing over the bank holiday?

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How to stay vegetarian when travelling abroad

Finding a place to eat in a country that doesn't speak your language when you're vegetarian can be a bit of a minefield, especially when a lot of countries have their own definition of what a vegetarian is. For example a lot of Asian countries will serve dishes made up of stock from animal bones as they believe that if you're not eating the carcass, then it is vegetarian. Europe is generally more safer, but even then there are some countries that have adapted to vegetarianism more than others . To celebrate National Vegetarian Week and my love of travelling, today I've put together a few tips on how to stay vegetarian when travelling abroad. Travelling abroad when you are vegetarian is little bit tricky, but when you have the knowledge and research your trip properly, it isn't impossible.

Read reviews

When finding somewhere to travel, always read reviews on vegetarian forums and blogs or ask your local vegetarian/vegan Facebook group to see if they have travelled to the area. Research local restaurants and see how the country generally cope with vegetarian culture. When looking on TripAdvisor you can do a keyword search for the term 'vegetarian' to see whether any previous vegetarians had issues with their food.

Look for vegetarian only restaurants

It is surprising how many cities now have vegetarian or vegan cafes so it is always worth looking around to try find some. I managed to find some in Bruges, Amsterdam and Dublin on my travels and if the person or people you are travelling with don't mind you stopping there for a bite to eat, it is generally a safer option.

Stick with chain restaurants if you are unsure

If you are really struggling with the language barrier or feel too afraid to take the risk in some local restaurants, try looking at chain restaurants. The bigger the restaurant, generally, the more experience they will have had catering for different dietary requests.

Write an itinerary

Once you have done your research at home and found a few restaurants that you would like to visit, consider writing an itinerary. If you have a plan of action, you are less likely to be caught off guard trying to find a place to eat.

Don't be afraid to email

Don't be afraid to email restaurants before you go to see if they have a vegetarian option and whether it can be adapted. A lot of restaurants are usually happy to help as it means they will have their restaurant full.

Carry around a phrasebook

If you're heading to a country that speaks very little of your own language, consider carrying around a phrasebook or download a translating app on your phone. This will help you put your point across if you're not confident and help the person serving you. It is also helpful to try memorise the word for vegetarian in their language for emergencies.

Download the Happy Cow app

The Happy Cow app enables you to search for vegetarian and vegan restaurants nearby using your GPS. It works in 180 different countries and you can even save your search offline if you know you're going to be heading somewhere with little internet.

What are your tips for travelling with a dietary request?
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Travel Peer Pressure: It's okay to not be able to afford long haul

Travelling long haul has become much more accessible over the last few decades, with more people going further afield for their holidays, but with long haul flights still costing as much as the average person's monthly wage, not everyone can afford to spontaneously pack their bags and fly halfway across the world. A few days ago I had a conversation with a few friends about holidays which lead to everyone reeling off lists of exotic places they had visited. When I then told them that the furthest place I had visited is Europe besides a press trip to Thailand (which I'm very honest about and admit I probably couldn't afford it back then) I was met with a look of bewilderment and it made me feel really uneasy. I have never been to America, Australia, most of Asia or the Caribbean, but does this mean my travels are any less significant?  Everyone says that travel is an 'enlightening' experience and that you're a much more rounded person for travelling to places that are off the radar, but there's still plenty of culture for people to absorb by just visiting Europe alone.

As an amateuer travel blogger I feel quite a lot of pressure to go on exotic holidays and take Instagram shots of myself donning a floppy hat straddling across an infinity pool. I feel less of a travel blogger because my flights are two hours not 12 and I'm not constantly in the air.

There's so much pressure to live up to what everyone else believes you should be doing in your twenties and having a materialistic life. It's the same when it comes to what clothes we wear and what handbag we own. Instagram plays a huge part in this as many people use their timelines as a way to showcase their extravagant lives, but what we don't always see is the credit card debt, the amount of 'gifted holidays' especially with bigger influences and whether they are honest about whether they could afford their stays in the first place. Of course, for every five influencers that want to brag about their holidays, there's a dozen who have saved hard for years to afford their travels. We can never really know what goes on behind the scenes and because of that, we should try hard not to beat ourselves up about trying to live someone elses idea of a perfect lifestyle.

Long story short, it is okay not to be able to afford or even want to fly further afield. People have different circumstances and it shouldn't make you feel any less of a person. We shouldn't be made to feel like our only chance of enlightenment is fly halfway around the world. Travel is about what you make of it and if you travel somewhere, even if it is an hour away and make precious memories that you will love and remember for the rest of your life, that shouldn't be deemed insignificant. You have your whole life to travel, don't allow anyone make you feel bad for waiting a bit longer than others.

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Afternoon Tea at Kings Street Townhouse with MyBag.com

A few weeks ago I was invited down to the King Street Townhouse in Manchester to have afternoon tea with the MyBag.com and the Cambridge Satchel Company. The day consisted of browsing through the latest Cambridge Satchel collections, feasting on cake and the unveiling of the brand new Cambridge Satchel company and MyBag.com collaboration.

MyBag.com are an online designer bag retailer that launched in 2010. They cherry-pick the best designer accessories from handbags to jewellery for men and women from all over the internet and house them under one roof, offering next day delivery. Vivienne Westwood, Karl Lagerfeld, Aspinal of London and of course the Cambridge Satchel Company are just few of the many designer brands that they stock.

The afternoon started with the chance to preview some of the newest Cambridge Satchel Company bags to hit their website, before the big unveiling of their own collaboration. The latest Cambridge Satchel spring summer range is perfect for those looking to add a splash of colour to their outfits this season, with hues of neon blues, bright tropical pinks and yellows. If colour isn't quite your thing, fear not there's an ample selection of nude tone satchels, oxblood red and burgundy and clay. I love the Cambridge Satchel Company because their bags are classic, yet contemporary and suit almost any occasion. They have bags to suit just about everyones style, they are handmade in Britain and for the quality, the price is really affordable.

As part of the new handbag launch, we were treated to afternoon tea at the Kings Street Townhouse, a hotel that has been receiving great reviews all over Manchester. It is somewhere I wanted to visit for quite some time and although I wasn't able to stay the evening, it was lovely to feast on some of their culinary delights. The vegetarian afternoon tea came with an assortment of roasted vegetable and cheese and cucumber sandwiches, bakewell tarts, scones and mini profiteroles. A few of the girls on my table had several dietary requests from vegan to dairy free and gluten free, all of which were catered for with minimal fuss from the hotel, which was really great to hear about. 

The star attraction of the afternoon was the big reveal of the MyBag Cambridge Satchel Company exclusive, the 'Mini Poppy' bag. The 'Mini Poppy' bag features crafted grained leather in a crossbody style, with a silver tone, push lock clasp. It comes in the most beautiful spring time Terracotta colour and engraving is available. I was lucky enough to be given one at the event with my initials on it and I'm really impressed - it has just enough space to hold my Olympus camera and my mobile phone and it is a really versatile handbag, it goes with almost every outfit I own. The limited edition handbag retails at £145.

What do you think of the new Mini Poppy bag?
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