Tub on the Run


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Settling in to 2018

Hello hello! Yes, I know – I’ve managed to blog twice within 10 days, which is already a vast improvement on my 2017 attempts!  Hurrah!  I’ve been thinking about what it is that I enjoy, and I remain firmly in the enjoying blogging and reading blogs camp, so clearly need to do more of it.

So looking at the last week, I think I’m building the foundations of a good year.  New Year’s Day was spent with my mum and sister, and involved a walk down the beach. It was nice – cold, but nice to blow out the cobwebs (and try and reduce the impact that my Mini Cheddar consumption may have had). After the beach, Matt and I headed home to start thinking about getting ready for work on Tuesday.  Matt wasn’t actually back at work until Thursday, but for my sins, I was back on Tuesday.

I did not sleep well on Monday night, and zombied my way through Tuesday. It wasn’t quite the start of the year I was hoping for, but I did have a good day for the most part. I even tried to sneak in my actual lunch break (I’m terrible at taking a proper lunch break). The rest of the week passed by uneventfully, and ended with me attending a yoga course on Friday.

While I’ve not made any New Year’s resolutions (I think impending job change and the required reining in of spending covers a couple of bases), I do need to look at reducing my weight. Still. I thought about doing another Whole 30, but I decided to take the pressure off the start of the year.  I have also given some thought about what I want from a weight-loss group.  I’ve been to this yoga studio a few times for their yoga nidra classes, which I love, and when I found out that there was a weight loss course being run by the same lady, I signed up. I’ll perhaps do a blog on this another day and go into a bit more detail, but safe to say, I really enjoyed it, and think the group is going to be wonderfully supportive.

Ahead of the weekend, Matt and I agreed that it would be good to have a quiet weekend, one where we could regroup and not put pressure on doing anything and everything. On Saturday, I needed to pop out to get some more yarn for my temperature blanket.  Matt came with me, and we made a walk of it, coming the scenic way home.

When we came home, I settled down and started working on my project, only to be joined by Timo. He isn’t the most helpful of “supervisors” when you’re trying to join a long line of squares.

Knowing that fresh air is good for my mental health, we went for a walk around Killerton today. A long lie in, some faffing and a couple of episodes of The West Wing later, and we made it out in time for a late lunch.  Bellies full of leek and potato soup, and a cake for good measure, and we headed out for a wander around the Acland Walk.

It was nice to get out with the camera and take some pictures as the sun set. What I hadn’t accounted for was how cold it was! I feel like my ears will fall off and my legs will never be warm again. Time for a cup of tea!

How was your first week back? What’s the weather like in your part of the world?

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2017: Not my year

I suppose I should start with my (normal-for-2017) opener of “long time, no see”… Well – hi! Yes, it’s been a while (again/still?) but I thought, where better to start a better blogging routine for 2018 than a review of 2017!  While they may be a little cliche, I actually really enjoy reading other peoples’ years in review.

I have tried to write this blog about 16 times, but each time I do, it feels like I’m having a massive pity party. That’s not what I want, but by the same token, I won’t lie – 2017 has been a stinker. Very briefly, home has been tough – Dad left my Mum at the end of last year, so we’re all trying to muddle our way through a new family dynamic, and we haven’t been the healthiest bunch to boot. Naturally that has been stressful, but by far, work has been the biggest source of stress, anxiety and frustration. A change is on the cards in this area of my life.

On the plus side, while I have no doubt that I have been a monumental pain in the bum to live/converse/put up with, I am so lucky to be part of the family I have. Matt has been the shiny star of 2017 and really tried his hardest to look after me and reassure me that I am not completely crazy/useless/hopeless/worthless. Unfortunately, we haven’t really spent as much time together as we would have liked this year, but have some fun things to look forward to in 2018.

Rather than waffling any more about how utterly shit this year has been, here are some of the things I’ve really enjoyed:

Our National Trust Membership

In 2016, we managed to get out and about a little more than we have this year, but I really loved getting over to our local property – Killerton House. It was so lovely to go for some walks and see the changes in the seasons. In the spring, Matt and I saw the crocuses and snowdrops bloom.

Then in the summer, despite Mum’s need for a new knee becoming more and more pronounced, my sister, Matt and I walked on foot while Mum hired a “tramper” (an off road mobility scooter) while we went in search of Lost Killerton. I think it’s really great of the National Trust to provide these scooters – it’s meant we could enjoy a nice day out with Mum which we wouldn’t have been able to otherwise.

Rugby

Rugby has been a large feature of 2017 for us. Our local team is the Exeter Chiefs, who are based about 10 minutes down the road from us. We have been lucky enough to make most of the home games this year. Matt and I also ticked a game off our rugby bucket list and watched the Army v Navy game at Twickenham.

2018 will continue to be rugby filled, with tickets already bought for the Aviva Premiership final (fingers crossed for a Chiefs game), and Wales vs France for 6 Nations, not to mention the home games at Sandy Park.

Our garden

We still have a lot of work to do in the garden, but made some real headway with it this year where we redefined (and re-gravelled) our little patio area. We then bought an outdoor furniture set and enjoyed our first BBQ at home. I also took the opportunity to have an al fresco lunch on the couple of times I have been able to work from home for the day.

Next year, we have some borders to rediscover and things to plant, plus many more BBQs to enjoy! We also took some time to do a good declutter in the house too. I plan on doing quite a bit more of that too in the coming months.

Other random things

Some of the other random things that have brought smiles to my face have been things like our girl’s break away (posted here), and time with Matt, watching him do what he loves at Brands Hatch (posted here). I’ve also tried a new yoga studio out, and while I don’t attend the regular classes (work has been prohibitive in that respect), I have really enjoyed the yoga nidra classes that I’ve been able to make. My crochet game continues to be strong – I’ve literally just finished a square a day blanket, which I might do a blog post on another day. This is on top of two other blankets that I’ve made. From a weight loss point of view, 2017 has been a non-starter. I joined the gym, used it religiously for about a month and then I got side tracked, made it back in April and then got side tracked again. I had intended to get back on a Whole 30 or even a Whole 100, but that also didn’t happen. On the plus side, I don’t think I have put any weight on, but I also haven’t lost anything. It sounds a little irresponsible, but I really haven’t cared about it this year.

So yeah. That was my 2017, mostly pants, with some fun bits added in. I can’t wait for 2018!

How was 2017 for you? What was your highlight?


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Four things that have made me smile in 2016

I cannot believe it was August since I last blogged (definitely not winning awards for regular blogging over here!). It’s been a pretty mad half to the end of the year, and there were things that I really wanted to blog about at the time, but then got swept up in something else. I’d like to say that it has been all really great stuff, but that hasn’t been the case, and I feel like I am literally burning out to the end of the year, but not in that “let’s go out with a bang” kind of way.

But, not to continue the rough bits through to the New Year, I thought I’d do a highlights post – not a year in review as such, but just four things that I’ve really enjoyed (I promise I enjoyed more than 4 things in 2016).

Crochet

As I mentioned above, this has been a bit of a difficult year for one reason and another, and I’ve found myself getting anxious and feeling low. As a way to try and distract myself, I decided to learn crochet. First up was a completely random blanket, which I’m still working on. Then I decided to give granny square a go. Over 100 granny squares later, I combined them all into a blanket and gave it to my gran for her birthday.  Meanwhile, as part of getting ready for Blogtacular, I added a load of new blogs of Blogtacular attendees to my blog list, and came across Crafts from the Cwtch, and got reading about the Scheepjes crochet-along. I found a UK stockist and got cracking on the Dance in the Rain blanket for myself. I hadn’t finished it before I decided to by the Dance in the Sea colourway and make that for Mum for Christmas. I finished Mum’s waaaaay ahead of mine (at least I have something to do in the New Year).

As if that wasn’t enough, and I can’t even remember how I got onto this, but I decided to make my sister some Pokemon, as she was Pokemon mad as a kid.

 

Color Run

Charlie from The Runner Beans had a giveaway of two tickets to a Color Run (yes, spelt the American way!). I put in for it, doing my usual “it’s going to be fine, I’ll have repeated Couch to 5k by then”, asked my sister if she’d like to make a weekend of it, and promptly forgot all about it. Needless to say I didn’t get my bum in gear and do any running before the run in September.

Thankfully – who cares! It was an absolutely brilliant weekend. I drove to my sister’s house in Hampshire, got changed and then she kindly drove to Brighton.  We navigated the park and ride system and made our way to the seafront. With the exception of one rather large ramp, it was a flat course, and one, I am proud to say, I ran a reasonable portion of and didn’t come in at my 5k worst time.

It was great fun, and I was proud to have come away with the colour quantity I did – my sister did pretty well on the colour front too (and is much fitter than me, so would have totally kicked my ass on the running front if she hadn’t stayed with me). After that, we drove home, car protected with towels, looking a right sight as we stopped for a snack and loo break. We headed to town for dinner (Mexican) and cocktails and then dragged our (my) weary beings back to her house and to bed.  Definitely a highlight!

Whole 100

Given that this has been the subject of this blog for the majority of 2016, I’ll keep this bit short. I’m super chuffed with the results I had, and I need to do some significant work in 2017 to restart the pace on this and keep momentum going – 2017 is going to be a great year and I want to be able to embrace it with less of me!

Bee Photo

You know you’re getting older when you really enjoy Countryfile. Not only do I enjoy the programme, I always love the photography section, and I’d kind of been attempting to take hovering bee shots.  In a week off at the beginning of September, Matt and I got some more use from our National Trust membership and visited Monatcute House in Somerset. It was the set of various scenes in Wolf Hall, and is absolutely stunning – if you get the chance to go, do! Not only is the house an architectural marvel, the gardens are gorgeous. I’d wandered the gardens trying to get good shots, and I think it was that “trying too hard” problem. So, off we went for lunch, and while I was in the queue, a bee just appeared, and I opportunistically snapped. I’m really pleased with the result.

(I appreciate that this is a bit of a daft thing to be pleased with, but indulge me!).

Those were a few things that have made me smile over the last year – there are plenty more, but I thought I’d keep it short. I’m definitely looking forward to welcoming 2017 in, and ringing some of the changes.

Did you have a nice Christmas?

 


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Ultimate Coffee Date: August 2016

I completely missed July’s Ultimate Coffee Date for some reason, so I have a couple of months to get caught up on. You’ve been warned – it’s a longish one!

Over coffee, I’d tell you about the week off I had in July. My last week off was back in March, so I was definitely ready for some time off. We didn’t have anything planned as such, so we stayed at home and went out on day trips. First stop, we had a day out to Lynmouth and came back via the Doone Valley.

Lynmouth - Beyond the Sofa

It was the best day, weather wise, of the whole holiday. The sunshine was absolutely gorgeous and it really felt like summer was just coming. We walked around Lynmouth, then up the hill (which is so ridiculously steep) to look at the Cliff Railway and I was reminded that I don’t think I could have done that walk about 6 months ago because of my weight. Don’t get me wrong, I was hardly sprinting up it, but I lumbered slightly more gracefully than I would have done previously.The climb was definitely worth it for the view though!

Lynmouth Cliff - Beyond the Sofa

One of the highlights was seeing wild Exmoor ponies. I’m quite used to seeing Dartmoor ponies roaming around Dartmoor. As a family, we have spent loads of time on Dartmoor, but not much time of Exmoor.  They’re so lovely. A little further up the road, there was a mare and her foal – so adorable!

Exmoor Ponies - Beyond the Sofa

On the way home, we stopped off at the little chapel in Doone Valley. Apparently Lorna Doone was the Devonian Romeo and Juliet. I don’t remember the story at all, so Matt’s Nan dug out her copy and sent it down to me (which I still haven’t read…).

The rest of the week, we weren’t blessed with good weather, though that didn’t stop us making the most of our National Trust membership. We visited Cotehele and took Matt’s nan to Tyntesfield. That was probably one of the more rewarding days. Nan doesn’t get to go out on day trips all that often, as she isn’t so mobile these days, but we offered to take her out for the day. I never realised how hard pushing a wheelchair around all day is. I definitely got a good sweat on, going up the hills. It was totally worth it though – she enjoyed herself and we were pleased to be able to do something with her too.

Cotehele House - Beyond the Sofa

If we were having coffee, you might notice I’m a bit stiff. I’ve finished my 6 week introduction to Mysore style yoga course, and have since signed up to do one class a week. I’ve got part way through to the seated poses and it’s really challenging me. I’m enjoying it though, but I also need to make sure that I get into a better routine for some home practice.

If we were having coffee, I hope you’d see that I am quite a bit thinner than when I started the year. This is my February to July progress:

Beyond the Sofa - Feb 2016 to July 2016

My Whole 100 is going really well still. I am actually on Day 90 today, and will do a weigh in post tomorrow, but at Day 60, I was 40lbs down. I still have a long way to go, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s going. I really thought I was going to have some food boredom but now, but I’m not feeling it at all.

If we were having coffee, we’d probably be having coffee from a paper cup at Gatcombe Horse Trials right now. As part of my birthday present, Matt bought us tickets to Gatcombe. We went a couple of years ago but I felt we didn’t make the most of it. We’d gone, not really knowing what to expect, having never been to a big horse event before. We got absolutely soaked and didn’t really get round to seeing what we wanted to.

Gatcombe 2014 - Beyond the Sofa

This year, knowing what to expect, we’re going to try and squeeze a bit more in. I’m also hoping to get to play with my camera a little bit more this time. I definitely feel like I am able to tackle the hills with relative ease now so I’m hoping to get out onto more of the cross country course.

So, that’s where I’ve been. How is life with you?


Thank you as always to Lynda, Coco and Deborah for hosting Ultimate Coffee Date.  Thanks as always to Deborah, Lynda and Coco for hosting Ultimate Coffee Date each month! I think it’s a lovely way to catch up with and discover new blogs.


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Killerton Classic Car Show 2016

The alternative title for this post was “A risk of getting a tan this year”. When we lived in the flat, I used to get so miserable that going outdoors was just not going to happen. Between not feeling comfortable in my own body, the humidity of living in the middle of a seaside town to the ridiculous amount of tourists lazily dawdling through the town, I didn’t enjoy summers there. This year though, with the bonus of a garden, I’m really enjoying getting out and about more (and surprise, surprise, my mood is better for it!).

Saturday

I got home really late (for me) from my friend’s leaving do, flopping in to bed at around 1:30am. I’d had a great night out though, despite not drinking at all. After sleeping in a bit, I put a couple of loads of washing on, cleaned the kitchen thoroughly and had a coffee. I’d bought a couple of jars of Little’s instant coffee a couple of months ago, and also got a packet of ground chocolate caramel infused coffee. I don’t own a cafetière, but I wanted a proper coffee so improvised and used my tea pot and strainer. It worked!

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Happy days! As I was sorting myself out, Matt popped down to Cullompton Farmer’s Market and bought some sausages from Moonbeams Farm for breakfast. I then popped out to get some bacon (also Moonbeams), picked up some wild garlic bread for Matt from Bread of Devon and some venison for a casserole from Garlandhayes Farm. I haven’t cooked with venison before, so I am going to the oracle that is Pinterest later to work out what I can make.

For the rest of the day, we popped up to Matt’s family as we had some stuff to drop off for him mum. While we were there, we picked up some gardening tools which had been offered to us. A nice evening in followed, and we watched The Hateful Eight (very bizarre – a typical Tarantino film).

Sunday

Hasn’t it been glorious today! Matt had spotted that Killerton House was hosting a classic car show this weekend, so we thought we’d pop on over (make the most of our National Trust membership!). After I’d hung the washing out, made another coffee and pottered, we jumped in the car and headed to Killerton.

Killerton House - Classic - London Transport Bus

I wasn’t sure what to expect to be honest. Often, we find these types of events quite underwhelming, but actually this was really good!

Killerton Classic Car Show 2016

We wandered around the fields with hundred of classics, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at various cars. For us, classics have always been old cars, things from the 1940s until the 1970s. Classic car owners are also “classics” themselves if you catch my drift. As we were walking along, we came across a Maestro.

Killerton Classic Car Show Rally Maestro

I’d be lying if there wasn’t a bit of a horrifying realisation that Matt and I grew up with some cars that are now considered classics. How on earth has that happened?! I remember the red Maestro that we had as a family when I was little (though it wasn’t in as good nick as this one). Then we came across a Rover Metro. Dad had a Metro in the mid-90s which was his driving school car. I’ve turned into one of those people who says “I remember when MG Fs were cool”.

Killerton Classic MG Bear

There were some really great cars on display, and it was interesting to read about various exhibit’s restoration processes and owner history. What really struck me was how loved these cars all were – the amount of time, money and love that goes into them is so evident.

Killerton Classic 2016

I really enjoyed wandering around. There was a craft section too, but I wasn’t too interested as it was mostly jewellery or things for children.

When we got home, we nipped into the garden to discuss the next steps that we need to make to reclaim the borders, get things tidy and start planting things and making it our own. We agreed the grass desperately needs mowing (mower to be bought next week) and the borders rotivating and neatening. Then we can work out what can go where.

I suspect I have some sunburn now, despite slapping on the sunscreen. It’s been a really nice, relaxed weekend though.

Have you had a nice weekend? What did you get up to?


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Easter weekend

Hurrah for long bank holiday weekends (and the two four day weeks!). Despite having a week off earlier in March, this long weekend has landed at the right time.

We didn’t have much in the way of plans for this weekend, though I had a list that I wanted to work through (half completed, so that’s something!). It has just been nice to have a little bit of downtime, though unfortunately work impeded on it a little bit – never mind!

Friday

Matt and I needed to head in to Exeter do run some errands and pick up a couple of things. It was an absolutely gorgeous day – the first real spring-like weather that I think we’ve had this year. Normally, when the weather is nice, rather than eat in a restaurant, we like to get something to eat outside and sit on Cathedral’s green. Lots of people had the same idea, and it was tough to find somewhere to park for a bit!

Exeter Cathedral

After we’d finished, it seemed a shame to head straight home and retreat indoors. Instead, we headed to Killerton for a wander around. We’ve been meaning to stop by and have a wander around since we renewed our National Trust membership in February, but hadn’t quite got to it.

Rather than head into the house, we walked around the gardens with our cameras. The flowers in the walled garden aren’t quite out yet, but there are a lot of other pretty things to look at. I was trying to get a picture of some pretty blue flowers (I’m not at all green fingered, and literally know about 5 different types of plants – the rest are referred to by colour), and then fell into a mole hole and rolled my ankle. Well done me. Not to be deterred, we took it a little slower but kept going and eventually came across the chapel, which isn’t too far from the parkrun start line.

Killerton Gardens

We used to visit Killerton a lot as a family when my sister and I were little, but I don’t remember ever going in to the chapel. It was wonderfully quiet (outside was reasonably noisy, owing to the egg hunt), and the sunlight shone through the stained glass window, making a beautiful pattern on the wall near the altar. It really was stunning.

Killerton Chapel

After admiring the light show for a bit, we wandered back to the car and headed home. I don’t know what it is about the fresh air, but when we got home, we crashed on the sofa. We’ve resolved to go back soon to go for a proper walk in one of the forests, around the old parkrun route, or one of the many other walks (and probably should do the house too!).

Saturday

True to the forecast, the weather turned really grim and grey (and wet!), so we’d tried to make sure that Saturday was a more of an indoor day. It started with a trip to our local butchers and greengrocers. The butcher very kindly de-boned and skinned the chicken thighs for me (I am complete pants at doing this myself) while Matt got the veggies sorted. This is probably a silly thing to say, but I am constantly surprised by how nice people are where we live now. We returned home and I set to work in the kitchen.

Easter batch cook

Many hours later, we have 14 dinners of:

I’ve not tried the pork meatloaf (looks strange, but smells amazing), Spanish chicken or the mustard lamb before (and obviously a Jamie Oliver “15 minutes” is a normal human’s “30 minutes”). I am pleased though – it was a long time on my feet, but totally worth it. Plus, we were treated to a pretty gorgeous sunset as I came to the end of my cooking.

Sunset

Sunday

My sister has come home for the Easter break, so I headed down to Mum and Dad’s for the day. My sister cooked an amazing curry (a Slimming World one I think), and we had a really relaxed afternoon, just catching up and putting the world to rights and making a fuss to this little loon.

Little Loon

Dad went out as he plays in a band and they were playing down a pub, and Matt stayed home to do some tidying up.

It was definitely a case of donning the flippers to get home. The amount of standing water on the roads was absolutely crazy, but I made it home safe and sound.

Monday

I headed back to my parents’ house today, while Matt sat in the queue on the M5, attempting to get to his parents’ house (the traffic was pretty awful from what I gather). Mum, Dad, my sister, gran and I had lunch at the local garden centre, before Mum and I toddled off so I could try and show her the type of flower that I would like in our garden (it’s a small, blue flower, and lives in a rockery type environment). We couldn’t find it. Pudding was courtesy of Orange Elephant. I am sure I said this on my old blog, but if you are ever in the area, head over to Orange Elephant at Lower Brenton near Kenn for the best ice cream you will ever have. The lambs have not long arrived too – what’s not to love – lambs and good ice cream!

Lambs

Anyway, the delayed Sunday blues have kicked in quite hard, and I’m aiming for an early(ish) night as I have a very long day ahead of me tomorrow.

What did you get up to this weekend?


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Killerton Secret Supper Club

A few weeks ago, Matt was having his usual scan through Twitter and saw that Killerton House hold a Secret Supper Club each month from March until December. I’m always up for a meal out, especially if it’s a little unique. Turns out that this Secret Supper Club is a proper hidden gem.

He made the call and booked us in for 2nd March. After a couple of long days at work, it was the perfect excuse to get away on time, dash home, feed the cats, reapply some make up, brush my hair and head out again.

I haven’t been to Killerton House itself for years, possibly even decades. As a family, when my sister and I were much younger, Killerton was a regular Sunday outing for us but as we got older, the membership lapsed and we stopped going.  It wasn’t until parkrun many years later, that I went back, and even then it was only through the stable block.

Killerton Stable Block

We drove down to the stable block car park and got out, hoping to see signs pointing us in the right direction. Nope. There were none. We wondered if we got the dates wrong, as there wasn’t anyone else around either. Not prepared to admit defeat, we hopped back in the car and drove to the main gate where Matt has dropped me for parkrun before. This looked a little more promising!

We parked and walked down to the house. The smell coming from the kitchen was amazing, though we still weren’t entirely sure where we were going, but knew to follow our noses. Always trust your nose! We walked around the back of the building and found the restaurant, and were warmly welcomed.

Killerton Supper Club March 2016 Menu

How cute is the menu! It’s in a copy of Ben Schott’s Food and Drink Miscellany, which was also quite interesting. We decided on two courses rather than the full three (good move!), and as I have a sweet tooth, I opted for mains and dessert, while Matt went for a starter and main. We ordered drinks and our food, and were given some hors d’oeuvres – creamed goats cheese on puff pastry topped with a baby tomato.

Killerton Supper Club March hors d'oeuvres

I am a real sucker for goats cheese. I think I had my first taste of goats cheese at the Devon County Show years ago, and it’s a taste that has stuck. Anyway, it was a nice mini starter for me, and a warm up for Matt, who had ordered the venison terrine.

Killerton Supper Club March Venison Terrine

I had a bite, and knew I had made the right decision with pudding. The terrine was nice, but I personally find venison a bit too strong to have in the generous quantity that it came in. Matt enjoyed it though.

We didn’t have to wait long for our mains. I had the duck breast with confit leg croquette, broccoli and a cherry jus.  Matt had the pork tenderloin

Duck breast

I think I died and went to heaven. This was without doubt the best duck I have ever had. It was really succulent, not at all fatty. The whole thing was delicious. I’m always a bit cautious about fruit on a main course, but the addition of cherry was really lovely. Matt agreed, which is almost unheard of, as he is not a duck fan at all. Likewise, his pork tenderloin was beautifully cooked.

Before pudding came out, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be able to match the duck. Normally, I will pick the fruit dessert over the chocolate offering, but for a real change I went for the stem ginger and treacle tart. I think it was the clotted cream and ginger combination that appealed.

Killerton Supper Club March 2016 Treacle and Stem Ginger Tart

Yes, it matched the duck in terms of taste. You definitely could not have a lot of it, as it was really rich, but it was the perfect end to the meal. Except it wasn’t the end! We then had petit fours which were chocolatey and amazing (and snaffled before I took a picture).

The service was great too – we had a really attentive waitress who chatted away and was super-friendly without being that awful “is your food okay?” kinda person. It’s a pet peeve of mine when you’re usually mid-mouthful and the waiter comes over and asks with all the enthusiasm of a wet sponge whether your meal is okay. I know they have to, but it really bugs me. None of that here though, which was like the cherry on top of a lovely experience.

We’ve already booked back in for next month! At least we’ll know where we’re going this time.

Are you a starter or a dessert kind of person?