Thursday, 20 April 2017

The Warren Restaurant in Tunbridge Wells - a review by Bex

Nik and I took a couple of weeks off around Easter to have some time at home as a family as work and life has been crazy lately!  It worked out well with all the bank holidays so we booked a visit to Glasgow and planned to sort out the house a bit in the meantime as well as spending some time with the twins together.  On Wednesday, rather than paying our childminder when the kids aren't there, we kept them in and had a day to ourselves.  We spent the morning doing a bit of sorting and life admin and then headed out for a nice leisurely lunch just the two of us.  No need to rush, no whinging or crying, no stress, just us and some lovely food and surroundings were what we needed and luckily, exactly what we got!


I'd booked The Warren in Tunbridge Wells as I'd discovered their Instagram account a few months ago and have been salivating over the delicious looking food.  The entrance on the High Street is lovely with catkins and twigs hung around the doorway.  It was quiet upstairs with just one other table occupied which meant I wasn't shy about snapping away taking photos of the place and we were seated in the orangery so there was plenty of natural light from the beautiful large windows.  There is a very eclectic mix of both furniture and accessories around the place which I reckon would look even more impressive at night.  They have quite a few animals on display which I believe are all from their estate.  The Warren's produce mainly comes from their estate in Crowborough so it's all local, from farm to fork.  I love their use of local produce and the fact they care about the origins of the food.  You can tell they care about how it's presented too with a bit of flare added in plating up, desserts especially.  And of course, the food tastes scrumptious too!



We were given the option of their express menu for £9.95 plus £5 for any additional courses or the a la carte.  It was a tough decision as I liked the sound of everything but in the end we opted for the express as it was such good value.  It didn't disappoint either with decent portions and just as much effort put in as I'd seen on their social media.  We paid an extra £1 for homemade bread which was served in a canvas bag on a bed of hot cherry stones to keep it warm and a knob of homemade stinging nettle butter.  The butter was an intense green but had a mild flavour and was delicious on the soft fresh bread.


For starters we opted for wild garlic soup for me and venison scotch egg for Nik.  Both were delicious.  My soup was rich, very garlicky but in that mild, wild garlic way without being overpowering and had a nice depth of flavour with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.  I could have easily eaten more and I want to go foraging for my own wild garlic now to have a damn good try at making my own soup although I'm sure it won't match up.


Nik's scotch egg was also nice with a lovely celeriac remoulade on the side and yet more luscious green (I'm not sure what his puree was).


Our main courses were equally delicious.  I wasn't sure how they'd make my choice of cottage pie fancy but it looked lovely served in a little copper pan with piped horseradish mash on top.  The meaty gravy was lovely and rich with good chunks of root vegetables just under the mash.  I was surprised just how filling that small pan was!


Nik had the South coast plaice with Monk's Beard and capers in a butter sauce.  We'd never heard of Monk's Beard, it looks a little like Samphire but is not salty, it comes from Italy so is obviously not local.


Mine came with peas and Nik's with crushed potatoes and we ordered an extra side of Hispi cabbage with bacon lardons.  It wasn't quite what we were expecting (we'd never had the Hispi variety before) but all the sides were lovely and well seasoned.


And of course, for just and extra £5 we had to have pudding!  I'd had my eye on the passionfruit cheesecake from the start and Nik swithered between the cheese plate and lemon meringue pie but in the end fancied something sweet.


I loved my deconstructed style cheesecake, the cheesy part was encased in a coating of white chocolate and had more passionfruit hidden in the centre.  The splash of passionfruit sauce on the plate was very sharp which contrasted nicely with the sweet blackberries, nutty granola and light, creamy cheesecake ball.

Nik's lemon meringue was also lovely (of course I tried some!) with a really nice biscuity pastry and very smooth raspberry sorbet.


We were tempted to stay for more and have some cheese as well but we fancied a wander round so we decided we'd just have to come back again another day, preferably in the evening next time.

Service was excellent with our attentive waitress, Magdalena, being friendly and courteous as well as helpful in making choices with both food and wine.  I was unsure which to choose out of two wines so she allowed me to taste both before choosing the Cote du Rhone Villages.  It was also delicious but I plan to check out the cocktail menu next time.


So as you can tell, overall we loved The Warren.  The food was delicious, the staff lovely and surroundings a good mix of quirky and fancy.  Check out those lion thrones above!  And Zeus the Rhea who was giving me a run for my money with his sparkly necklace!

Our bill came to £68.80 for 3 courses with bread, sparking water and a large glass of wine each.


Olive Dragonfly Rating - The Warren
Food & Drink - 9/10
Atmosphere - 7/10 (I think this would definitely be higher in the evening)
Service - 9/10
Value - 9/10
Overall - 9/10

Monday, 17 April 2017

Uckfield WI Press Release

One of the many things keeping me busy lately is the work I've been doing with my fellow committee members at Uckfield WI.  I joined this new group as it formed last spring, around the same time my baking club was getting off the ground (and has since become incorporated with the WI group).  It has kept me very busy (I am actually still behind on the WI blog which I've still to update with our latest meetings) and then we decided to throw a ball for our birthday!  We're raising funds for our local children's hospice and thought this would be a good way to kick off our second year with a big fund raiser.  It was A LOT of work but so worth it as you can see in the following press release I wrote after the event:

Uckfield WI, affectionately known as the Belles, celebrated their first birthday in style this March with a fundraising ball which raised almost £4,000 for Demelza Children's Hospice.  The Belles are a 150 strong group enjoying a variety of fun and informative activities throughout the year such as gin tasting, Christmas wreath making and line-dancing.  They also have a number of sub-groups for members to enjoy such as Baking Club, a Choir, Craft Club and Supper Club to name just a few.

As part of their commitment to aid the local community, last summer the Belles voted overwhelmingly for Demelza Children’s Hospice in East Sussex as their main charity to support.  Their fundraising efforts so far have included a stall selling cakes and treats at Uckfield's Late Night Shopping event, a 100 club and the Belles Ball, during which they held auctions and drew a raffle as well as a few fun games, all supported by their members and many local businesses.
The Uckfield WI hosted their first big fundraising event, the Belles' Ball, on the evening of Saturday 18th March 2017 at the East Sussex National resort in Uckfield.  Demelza provides a ‘hospice at home’ service to families throughout East Sussex. Their specialist nursing team looks after children with life limiting and life threatening illnesses and supports their family. They provide nursing care, practical and emotional support and respite care, all of which takes place in the family home. This flexible care provision enables families to live their lives in their own environment and takes away some of the strain of caring for a life-limited child.

The Uckfield Belles hoped to raise a substantial sum of money for the Hospice as the perfect way to honour their 1st anniversary as a WI.  Only a small percentage of Demelza’s costs are covered by government funding so the money raised will enable them to provide vital support to local families. 


Photo credit: WebPhotoUK

The event was a fantastic success, a great night out was had by all who attended and the determined fundraising efforts of the Uckfield WI committee were met with great generosity.  The guests, both members and non-members, were treated to a 3 course meal, wine and Prosecco as well as a photo booth and live band to dance the night away.  Two of Demelza's nurses gave an emotional speech, hearing first hand the incredible and valuable work they do supporting children and families really brought home how vital fundraising is.  The Belles also welcomed a table of Demelza staff at the event.

The Belles were delighted to be able to present a cheque to Demelza ambassador, Jean, at the Belles' birthday meeting on 21st March where they also enjoyed various cakes made by members of their baking club.  Jean also attended the ball and had such a lovely time, she has since joined Uckfield WI as a member.  


Julie Brett, Community Fundraiser at Demelza, said, "I’m absolutely thrilled with the amazing cheque for £3,930 from the Belles! They’ve worked tirelessly over the last few months so I’m thrilled that the Ball was such a big success on the night. It costs, on average, £1,600 per day to run our services in East Sussex so the ladies have raised enough money to pay for two days of care for the whole county! This is a fantastic achievement and we’ll be able to help so many children and families with this wonderful donation."

To raise awareness of its daily cost, Demelza South East dedicates a day to a person or organisation that raises £1,600.  With over £4,000 raised so far, Uckfield WI have been given the opportunity to chose two, the first they chose is the 8th of March, the day they opened their membership and filled all 150 spaces in 9 minutes 53 seconds!  The 8th is also International Women's Day so apt for the WI.  The second is the 22nd of March, the date of their first meeting as a WI.

Uckfield WI president, Leasa Buhlman, said "We are ecstatic that all our hard work has already resulted in over £4,000 for the charity to date.  We've decided to raise funds for Demelza as our long-term project, we have plenty more ideas and we hope to continue our success.  We're so pleased with the positive response we've received from our local community, both in the lead up to and on the night of the ball, Desmond Gunner and East Sussex National in particular went above and beyond."

The next event the Belles plan to participate in is the Bubble Rush Brighton, organised by Demelza and they are also starting work on a recipe book to sell at the next Late Night Shopping event in Uckfield in December.  You can find out more about these and other projects as well as details about Uckfield WI meetings on their blog at UckfieldWI.com and their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/UckfieldWI.



Sunday, 16 April 2017

Necklace 365 project

I wrote this over a month ago but just realised I never published it, it's time for another update of favourites soon!  I have so many unfinished posts, I really want to sort out the blog and get back to writing again but I say this often and struggle to find the time.  I hope you have a happy Easter weekend, we are seeing family in London and I will be fitting in some much needed blog time where I can (like now while everyone else is still sleeping)!

It's no secret that I have a bit of an obsession/addiction with accessories in general but especially necklaces.  I do love a good statement number but I also have a large selection of dainty chains and all sorts of other styles.

After living here for 2 years, I finally got my necklace cabinet made.  I recently unpacked my necklaces so I now have my full collection again.  I've done a little #necklaceoftheday series on Instagram from time to time but I decided this year I would try to wear more different ones so I decided to do a 365 project.  I'm wearing a different one every day so they all get an airing and I don't just stick to my usual favourites.

So far the colourful and statement pieces seem to be the most popular on Instagram with a few dragonflies of course!


This one from Olbla was also very popular and is a new favourite I bought in November:


Another favourite of mine is this new Wolf & Moon necklace I bought in Brighton:


And I love this simple Nova pendant from Stella & Dot.


Please do tell me what you think of my #necklace365 project.  I wonder sometimes if people find it annoying having a necklace pop up every day on my feed.  I love doing it though so won't be stopping, I was just considering making a separate account instead but it seems quite a few people like seeing them.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Uckfield Artisan Craft Market - review by Bex

I popped into this little craft fair this morning (update: this was two weeks ago now as I never managed to finish it on the day!) after the twins' first hair cuts!  There was an interesting selection of local artists and makers, some of which I loved so I took a few photos to share here.  It was only on today until 3 but there's another one in March if you missed it (and May, September and November).  The major bonus for shoppers is there's no fee to get in!  I'm not a fan of paying to go shopping despite having loved some of the bigger Christmas fairs that do charge.

I really loved these little geometric cement plant holders with miniature cacti in, so much so, I bought one for Nik for Valentine's Day (don't worry, I've already given it to him so it doesn't die whilst being hidden!).  Maverick Roots are from Crowborough so a true local business with some lovely products.


I bought the one on the bottom right with the little Aloe and she gave me a flag which said: "Aloe, I love you."  So cute and it looks fab in our living room although we might put it in our bedroom.  Maverick Roots have some gorgeous tiny little cacti in tiny little pots and she makes these gorgeous Mandala coasters too.  She hand draws the designs and transfers the pattern onto wood found in the woods.  (Update: it's now in our bedroom next to our little gold elephant from Malaysia.)


Another stall I was immediately drawn to was the colourful Abi Weatherseed Art with her beautiful bright paintings and lampshades.  She was sharing a table with Woods Barn Pottery who had some gorgeous ceramics, I was so tempted to buy the little green mug!



There were plenty of cosy knits on sale too, including LL Knittings from Hastings with her colourful hats.


And various Jewellery stalls, I couldn't find the name for this one but I loved the green rings arranged by colour with the blues.


Another colourful artist I liked was Bear Clause Designs from Brighton.


I particularly like the geometric tree print which was based on a photograph of trees.

There was a range of other items available too, from garlic grater dishes to crocheted gloves, children's books and various jewellery items.


Saturday, 25 February 2017

Latest Netflix/box set addictions

I think many of us are partial to a bit of a TV binge now and then, I go through phases of that or binging on books so I feel it balances out ;)  The bonus about watching TV shows is that I can edit photos and/or blog while I watch, not possible when reading.  I'm watching iZombie as I write this!

Anyway, we've had Netflix for a while and I always meant to write about some of my favourites.  We also got a temporary upgrade to get Sky Box Sets with our package until March so we started watching Elementary as we enjoyed Sherlock so much (after being rather late to the game last year).


Elementary is fab!  We weren't sure if we'd like it as Benedict would be hard to beat as a Sherlock Holmes interpretation but we really like Jonny Lee Miller and Lucy Liu in Elementary.  I'm sure you don't need me to tell you anything about Sherlock Holmes but both Sherlock and Elementary are great at portraying his personality while solving the exciting mysteries.  We're still on series one of Elementary so I hope we manage to watch them all in time before our box sets subscription runs out!


As for Netflix, I long ago discovered the power of binge watching, I watched all 8 seasons of Dexter during our IVF - it was the perfect distraction, I loved it!  If you don't know, Dexter is a blood spatter analyst who just happens to also be a serial killer.  He has his reasons and only kills people he knows to be bad.  It's very tense and has brilliant characters like his sister who swears like a trooper and Angel, a lovely detective he works with among others.  It changes quite dramatically as it goes on, with some proper cliffhangers!


iZombie was recommended to me by a friend and I'm only on episode 2 but I love it already!  The premise is a trainee surgeon who gets turned into a zombie changes career track to work in the morgue so she can eat the brains of dead people.  She soon discovers that she gets visions from the people whom she's eaten and turns investigator to solve their murders!  It's brilliant and right up my street as it has a bit of police drama, emotional drama as she struggles to keep her zombification a secret from family and a bit of gore for good measure!  It's also got a bit of comedy in the M.E. who becomes her friend, he's quite funny.


Person of Interest is about a slightly odd tech wizard billionaire (the creepy guy from Lost) who has invented a machine which monitors everything and every camera and sends information to the government about "relevant" people who are about to commit terrorist acts.  It also records "irrelevant" people who are about to be a victim or perpetrator of other crimes but these are deleted as there are only so many resources.  He therefore takes it upon himself to try to save these people and hires "The Man in the Suit", the rather hot Mr Reese who has skillz!  He and Mr Reese make a great TV couple and we also like Detective Carter and a few other characters who are introduced more as it goes on (I don't want to give any spoilers but I do love Shaw)!  We're halfway through series two as we can only watch it together so it's taking a while to get through!


I adore Once Upon a Time!  The town of Storybrooke in Maine is under a curse and all of the residents have forgotten that they were once fairytale characters, Snow White and Prince Charming for example, and actually from The Enchanted Forest.  Regina's evil queen is fantastic and I have more than a little crush on Hook!  Robert Carlyle is especially amazing as Rumpelstiltskin, amazing acting.  As the seasons move on, more and more fairytale (and Disney) characters are introduced, some I like more than others but it's still good adventure fun!


I've also recently managed to watch the whole series of Santa Clarita Diet which came out recently on Netflix.  A dark comedy which also has a zombie angle, Drew Barrymore's character suddenly becomes undead (we don't know how) and her and her family have to deal with her new desire for eating human flesh.  It is funny and extremely gruesome but I can't say I find it hilarious, it's a good one to have on in the background while blogging, etc. though.


I also started watching Orange is the New Black and loved series one and two, but I struggled to get into series 3 a while ago.


Another great easy watch is Gossip Girl which Roz recommended when the twins were born, it was what I watched during those long lonely night feeds and loved watching all the beautiful people with their dramatic social lives.  Perfect middle of the night viewing!


What are your favourites?  Are there any I should have on my list??
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