Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel, Yorkshire

I was approached a while back by Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel in Yorkshire who invited us to stay at their hotel and write a review. Sadly we couldn’t accept as it’s a long old drive for us, but my brother-in-law and his girlfriend, Matt and Sara, were more than happy to take our place. So last weekend off they went to Scarborough and here’s what they had to say about their stay…

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Our Sicilian Adventure: Back Home

It’s weird how being away, even if you’re having an amazing time, can make you appreciate the place you call home so much more.

I love to travel (well actually, I don’t travel well at all, but I love visiting new places and exploring so I’ll say I love to travel) but always before I leave for a trip, no matter how excited I am to be going wherever it is we’re going, I feel a tinge of sadness for leaving our lovely home.

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Our Sicilian Adventure: Sicily, We Love You!

The locals here are so friendly. I’m not a particularly ‘well travelled’ person, but I’ve been around and can honestly say I’ve never been anywhere with such friendly and welcoming locals.

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We walked through the bustling daily market in Ortigia again the other day. Stalls upon stalls overflowing with fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, sundried tomatoes, cheese and pistachios. Oh and lots and lots of prickly pears. I’ve never seen so many! In fact on one stall that’s all they actually sell. Looking back it almost seems a crime not to have bought any.

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Our Sicilian Adventure: How To Order A Coffee

If you’ve ever seen the scene in eat pray love where Julia Roberts enters a busy cafe and tries desperately to get the baristas attention to order a coffee, that’s pretty much what we experienced this morning but slightly less dramatic.

A charming and busy cafe on the Fontana di Artemide quickly persuaded us in. We scoped the place out for a second and on hearing a plethora of Sicilian accents and seeing the array of golden pastries, we knew this was the place to be. Because if it’s good enough for the locals, it’s good enough for us, right?

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Our Sicilian Adventure: Arrival & Our First Night

We’re spending this week in lovely sunny Sicily and we already love it.

We flew from London to Catania and then hired a car to drive to where we were staying on Ortigia island. Having never driven abroad before, I decided to give it a go, it was a bit nerve-wracking at first but I think the 45 minute drive was more of a stressful experience for Jamie rather than me as I was still trying to get used to being on the other side of the car, let alone the other side of the road! Sicilian drivers are very…overconfident lets say. They’ll overtake you very closely, beep if you don’t go within a second of them arriving behind you, and pay no attention to giving way at roundabouts – much to our confusion! The motorways weren’t too bad but once we entered busy Syracuse and then the narrow streets of the old town Ortigia it became an obstacle course of pedestrians and mopeds, who like to overtake you on both sides at the same time, which was fun!

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Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie

I decided to experiment the other night. I was short on ingredients and wanted something healthy and vegan for dinner, so after trawling through our kitchen cupboards I came up with the below recipe for a vegan shepherds pie.

Vegan Shepherds Pie Lentil & Sweet Potato Shepherds Pie

1 Cup Puy Lentils
1 Carrot, Chopped Finely
3 – 4 medium sized Sweet Potatoes, Chopped Roughly
1 tsp of Marigold Vegetable Bouillon and a little hot water
A little butter for the mash
Salt and pepper to taste
Marigold Engevita Nutritional Yeast Flakes to top

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The Countdown Begins

The countdown to our holiday has begun, it’s only a few weeks to go now and whilst having a little walk last night, the husband and I were discussing sunshine, beaches and exploring and getting very excited about our upcoming trip to Sicily. Neither of us have been before so it will be a new adventure for both of us. We’ll be hiring a car so will have more freedom to explore on this holiday than on our recent trip to Croatia.

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Raw Snack Bars

I love finding out about new products that can help make my new healthy eating lifestyle easier so was really pleased to find and try Nākd snack bars. They come in a range of flavours including Rhubarb & Custard and Pecan Pie, and are totally raw and natural!

My favourite flavours were the Cocoa Orange, Cashew Cookie and Pecan Pie but they were all really tasty. I was actually really surprised how much I enjoyed them as I’m never usually a fan of cereal bars or healthy snack bar type things. No matter how healthy they claim to be, they all still seem to taste super sweet and I can’t stand that artificial sugary taste, even more so since I’ve cut those types of foods right down.

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Roasted Carrot, Lentil & Cumin Soup with Kale Crisps

The other day I was really craving something comforting for lunch, and I had a bunch of carrots that were getting a bit old so decided to try making a carrot and lentil soup. It was a bit ‘make it up as you go along’ but I loved the end result, a nice hearty (and healthy!) soup for a drizzly English Summer day. I served mine with some kale crisps and a slice of brown sourdough, but you can add whatever you fancy.

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Time For Exercise

I don’t have a very good relationship with exercising. The most I can remember ever enjoying exercise was when I was in junior school, I was quite a tomboy back then and loved to play football, was always on the climbing frames and running around with my friends.

I quickly grew out of that, I guess probably when I started secondary school, any interest I had in exercise of any kind quickly evaporated. I did the least I could get away with in sports class and what I did do was always half hearted.

Unfortunately that’s a philosophy I brought with me into adulthood, and it really hasn’t done me any favours. I went through a very bad period of ill health a few years ago, I look back at that time as my year of hell, and it really was a horrible time for both me and Jamie, but one that definitely made us stronger. Luckily, things did start to improve and we could see the light at the end of the tunnel, and not long after Jamie proposed.

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