A Rum Masterclass at Turtle Bay, Huddersfield

If you're looking for somewhere to eat in Huddersfield that serves wholesome food, has an electric atmosphere and some of the best 2-4-1 cocktails in town, then look no further than Turtle Bay. Turtle Bay Huddersfield opened back in October 2015 and ever since the restaurant and bar has been a hit with the locals and those visiting the area. The interior is bright and lively with a Caribbean vibe, the staff are down to earth and knowledgeable about their cocktails and the food is comforting and full of flavour. It's the perfect place to relax with a few friends and soak up the Jamaican spirit.

Recently I was invited down to Turtle Bay to sample one of their latest offerings, a rum masterclass. During the rum masterclass we were able to sample several different types of neat rums and then take turns in a friendly competition to make some of the cocktails from the Turtle Bay menu. As Turtle Bay is a Caribbean restaurant and bar, rum is at the heart of the most of the drinks on the cocktail list. The restaurant has more than 40 Caribbean rums stocked behind the bar covering the full breadth of the Caribbean - from Mount Gay's Bajan to Appleton Estate's Jamaican rum to everything in between. 

Before starting the masterclass, we lined our stomachs with a platter of Turtle Bay's best starters. This included my favourite sweetcorn fritters - which are made up of spring onion, coriander, scotch bonnet and sweet corn mixed together with West Indian hot sauce, hot hot pepper roti, garlic 'n' herb flatbread and jerk chicken wings for those who eat meat.

The masterclass lasted around 2 hours and during this time we were given talks of a number of the rums that Turtle Bay have to offer - detailing their history and what they are typically paired with. We were then given a shot of 5-6 different white and dark rums to help us differentiate the tastes. Rum isn't usually my spirit of choice unless it is in a cocktail, but it was great learning about them and I was surprised by how many I actually liked in the end - I left the event feeling like rum connoisseur for the evening.

Once we had tested all the straight rum, our attention was turned to cocktail making. Each of us (there was five in each team) took turns against an opponent team to make a cocktail from the Turtle Bay menu to learn more about the cocktail process and the rum which goes into each drink. The cocktails included the vanilla and passionfruit mojito - which is my favourite and the one I got to make, a mai tai and a beachcomber's zombie.  It was a lot of fun and something that made us admire the Turtle Bay staff even more as they make hundreds of these cocktails a week.

I really enjoyed the Turtle Bay masterclass - it was really fun and the staff put a lot of effort into it. It was great testing out a variety of rum and spending time with my friends. It was possible one of the best masterclasses I have attended.

Have you been on a rum masterclass before?

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Twiggy for Marks and Spencer Review

Marks and Spencer has been a clothes store that I have admired for a very long time and when they recently contacted me to write a blog post about their latest Twiggy collection, I was really excited. I really admire M&S because they started out in Leeds and throughout the years they have never really lost touch of their northern roots - they are proud to be from Yorkshire and are one of the many things that helped put Leeds on the fashion map. Secondly, their St Michaels clothing is my favourite vintage brand to collect - throughout the decades M&S have always been at the forefront of British fashion and have been seen as pioneers throughout different trends and thirdly, growing up Twiggy was one of my icons, even though I was born several decades later than her heyday. My parents always listened to 60s music when I was small, which inevitably led me to research more about the era and the fashion. Twiggy was a global phenomenon in the 60s with her waife like figure, long lashes and short cut bob and even now, she's still in the limelight, but much more behind the scenes than walking the catwalk.

The M&S spring Twiggy collection is the fashion icons 15th collection with the brand and 30% of the proceeds from the collection will go to the charity Fashion Targets Breast Cancer. Although Twiggy's collection is aimed at the more mature market, a few bloggers like myself were given the opportunity to try out a few clothes and address its appeal to the younger demographic. To see what all the fuss is about in the latest Twiggy collection we were also invited to a catwalk show in Leeds showcasing the clothes and even got to meet Twiggy herself - who was the most down to earth, humble celebrity I have ever had the pleasure of meeting.

Twiggy's latest collection is based around of one of her favourite eras, the 70s. It features heavily around the use of bold colours, bohemian prints and floating fabrics, all of which have been given a trendy, modern day overhaul. One of my favourite pieces from the collection is the floral print jacket that I'm wearing in the main image of this blog post. It is a really versatile jacket that can be dressed up or down and worn to various occasions, easily adding a splash of colour to your wardrobe without being too bold. The jacket is a medium texture and weight making it perfect for the typically British weather that is always changing. Although primarily made for spring, it can be easily worn all year round.

A few of my other favourite pieces from the new collection includes this beautiful pure cotton cutwork dress which is really sophisticated and perfect for the summer, the lightweight cotton shirt that would look great with a pair any pair of jeans and the boyfriend shirt with lace on the side which is trendy and casual, but could also be dressed up with a black pair of jeans and heels for cocktails or a meal with friends. With summer fast approaching and many of us looking to book holidays, I have also included these two pairs of trendy sandals, both of which are in the collection.

Do you shop at M&S for clothes?

*Collaborative post with M&S
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Sunday Lunch at The Roundhay Fox, Leeds

There's nothing I love more than spontaneous days out in the sunshine and last week when the UK had one of its hottest days so far this year, my husband and I made an impromptu visit to Roundhay park in Leeds for a sunny afternoon walk. Roundhay park is one of Europe's largest city parks covering more than 700 acres - twice the size of Hyde Park in London. The parkland has two beautiful lakes, several cafes and restaurants and plenty of fun activities for all ages, it is one of the best places to be in Leeds when the weather is nice. During our visit to Roundhay, we nipped into The Roundhay Fox which is a Vintage Inn pub on the outskirts of the park. I have driven by the pub on numerous occasions and really wanted to see if it was as good as some of the other Vintage Inns that I had visited. 

The Roundhay Fox is a quintessential British pub with tweed furnishings, an array of ciders and ales on tap and a dog welcome, family friend atmosphere. Initial TripAdvisor made me a little bit apprehensive about my visit, but it was incredibly welcoming and I loved the decor. I'm not usually one for Sunday lunches, but I decided that since I had done 20,000 steps walking around the city that I deserved a hearty lunch and ordered the 'roasted butternut squash and Portobello mushroom tart' for £9.95. When the dish arrived, I couldn't believe the portion size and it tasted amazing. Everything was cooked to perfection, albeit the quantity being a bit too much for me.  My Yorkshire pudding was light and airy, the vegetables were roasted in rosemary and the tart was really flavoursome. 

My husband and I had such a wonderful Sunday lunch for less than £25 for two people and left the Roundhay Fox with our stomachs full to the brim. I decided to write this post because I was really impressed with everything from start to finish - the pub was really busy with lots of people enjoying the sunshine, but the meal arrived really quickly after we ordered. When I next go to Roundhay park, I will definitely be visiting the Roundhay Fox again.

Have you been to Roundhay park before?
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How to keep your hair healthy this Spring

Spring is a difficult time for your hair as the weather is constantly changing from hot to cold, windy to wet and then suddenly beaming with sunshine. Warm weather can strip the hair of its moisture and leave it dry and frizzy, while cold, windy weather can cause tangles - especially in long hair that break the hair cuticles leading to increased hair loss and split ends. Looking after your hair all year round is imperative to keeping your hair in tip top condition and in months where the weather can be the most volatile, it is really important to up your game. To help you keep your hair in the best condition possible this spring I have put together a few of my top tips.

Get regular haircuts

Going to the hairdressers regularly can be an expensive affair and it is something that many of us avoid, but visiting the hairdresser can help you keep your split ends at bay, promote hair growth and get your hair into a good enough condition so you can manage it effectively at home.

Invest in quality haircare

One thing I learnt while studying hairdressing is the importance of investing in quality haircare. Cheap haircare can strip colour, cause dryness by stripping your hairs natural oil levels and increase your hairs tendency to frizz. While hairdressing standard haircare can be on the pricier side, you are actually paying for a more concentrated product that will last longer and improve your hairs appearance. You can tell the difference between a good and poor quality shampoo by how quickly it lathers up. Shampoo that lathers up quickly is a diluted product - it is mixed which water to make you go through it faster and give the illusion of squeaky clean hair, whereas concentrated shampoo will give you a deeper wash and will only lather up on the second rinse.

The Harley Street Hair Clinic which is renowned for its pioneering techniques in hair transplantation recently sent me a hamper of luxury hair products to trial. The hamper included luxury haircare brands such Balmain, Leonor Greyl and Iles Formula. The Iles Formula is a high performance paraben free shampoo for all high types with handpicked ingredients including Vegetal root juices from the Amazon forest and B5 Pantothenic Acid to restore split ends. This product left my hair feeling deeply cleansed, bouncy and full of life. It also kept my hair cleaner for a lot longer than my usual products. At £30 for 200ml it isn't the cheapest of products, but you are paying for a product that will ensure your hair stays healthy and good hair health is worth the expense. Second in my hamper was the Leonor Greyl Volumising Shampoo, but I wasn't overly keen on this product as it had a really strong medicinal scent. The final product was the Balmain conditioner which was a lovely treat for my coloured damaged hair. Balmain's conditioner left my hair feeling silky, soft and reduced the level of frizz that I usually get from my other products. The conditioner itself was also really light and not too heavily perfumed. At £25 it is still on the pricey side for some people, but I would definitely buy this again.

Limit heat styling

My third tip is to limit heat styling where possible to allow your hair to recuperate from the damage. I used to use my hair straighteners every single day a few years ago and although I used good quality hair tools, my hair felt fried and it lost its shine. I now blow-dry my hair straight where possible and try to resist temptation to pick up my hair straighteners on a daily basis. Since dramatically cutting down my usage, my hair is really strong and healthy and looks in great condition too.

Conditioning treatments

Finally, always remember to give your hair regular conditioning treatments to restore hair health and add shine. Conditioning treatments can be anything from applying a little bit more of your usual conditioner and leaving it on an extra ten minutes in the bath or buying a separate conditioner and leaving it on for 20 minutes - just do what is best for you in the time you have. Regular conditioning treatments help smooth the cuticles, add much needed moisture to your hair and it helps promote elasticity.

What are you haircare tips?

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Brunch at the Ox Club, Leeds

I was a bit of a late starter when it came to jumping on the brunch craze. It was only a year ago that I sampled my first egg florentine, avocado was rarely on my shopping list and the thought of having a 'late breakfast' never really appealed to me - probably because I've always been early to rise on a morning and can't stand waiting to have something to eat. A year on and now brunch is one of my favourite meals of the day, I long for the weekends and really look forward meeting up and having brunch with friends.

The Ox Club situated inside an old textile mill in Headrow House Leeds is the renowned locally for its brunches. The Ox club defines itself as a 'contemporary solid fuel grill restaurant showcasing the best of Yorkshire produce' and serves everything from brunch time classics such as 'avo' and egg to offbeat culinary treats such as the Cauliflower Shawarma which is a grilled flatbread with buttered ral al hanout eggs, pomegranate, pinenuts and yogurt and Korean Fried Chicken with kimchi, rice, pickled cucumber and crispy hen egg. If you're one for 'Instagrammable decors', this contemporary dining space features white washed brick walls and  lush green plants in cute little hanging baskets.

smoked sausage, cabbage, fried duck egg, chicken grav

Last week I was invited to the Ox Club to sample their brunch menu with a few other local bloggers. We were treated to various dishes on the menu and it was an absolute treat. I loved the variety of dishes on the menu such as scrambled egg on toast for those looking for a more breakfast style brunch to 'bubble and squeak' for those looking for some more hearty for lunch. For vegetarians like myself there's plenty to choose from and it's not just eggs and toast. The cauliflower shawarma had so much texture and it's such a decent sized portion and the avocado and eggs that I had featured a full sized avocado, it was very filling. Other vegetarian options include coconut french toast and ricotta pancakes, neither of which I was able to try that morning, so I will definitely have to go back and sample them another day.

I can definitely see why the Ox Club is one of the Leeds hotspots for brunch. Not only does the beautiful decor, but it has a pretty amazing menu too and most importantly it is decently priced with filling portion sizes. Would I go again? Yes, in a heart beat.

Have you been to the Ox Club before?
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