Thursday, 18 February 2016

Life | Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel

Life | Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel
 
Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel is one of those really beautiful luxury Scarborough hotels, you know the type where people post fabulous pictures and it makes you really envious?  You can imagine how over the moon I was then I was asked to review a stay at the hotel; it was even better when I realised the timng coincided with my birthday last week.

Life | Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel

The hotel and suite
Gaz and I arrived at Ox Pasture Hall in the late afternoon; it was still really bright and sunny outside so we got to see the hotel in all it's glory, tucked away down a private drive.  All around the hotel there were cute courtyards, peaceful gardens and stunning views.  In the spring or summer I probably would have spent a while exploring but as it was there was one hell of a chill in the air so we made the move inside.

Life | Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel


We couldn't have been greeted more warmly when we made it to reception, we booked a table for a dinner and then were shown to our room.  There was a little hiccup with the heating in suite no.1 but it was no trouble for us to move into a new, and equally comfortable suite.  Gaz made himself busy testing out the relaxation potential of the sofa and king size bed while I made the most of the rather opulent bathroom to get ready for the evening.

Life | Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel

Having pre-dinner drinks beside the roaring fire in the bar was a brilliant way to get into the ambience of the hotel and gave us an opportunity to check out the menu.  I was surpsied to see there was an entirely separate vegan menu so it made choosing our courses really easy.

Life | Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel

I ate avocado and asparagus with tomato chutney to start, wild mushroom risotto for main and pineapple sticks with pina-colada granite for dessert.  Gaz had sautéed wild mushrooms on toast as a starter, followed by a main course spicy bean burger and a red wine poached pair for dessert.  We both enjoyed the food immensely and having palette cleansers in between courses was a great touch.

Life | Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel

After all that food we went to bed feeling full and rested and had an an amazing night’s sleep on the king size bed.  I was pretty sad to be packing up and leaving Ox Pasture Hall the next morning but the blow was softened slightly by having a nice quiet breakfast before heading out. 

Life | Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel

What to do in and around Scarborough
Of course I couldn’t be out and about in the North Yorkshire countryside without finding myself some things to do and in fact even before arriving at the hotel Gaz and I were making the most of the good weather and the opportunity to get outdoors.  With the North York Moors National Park practically on the doorstep of the hotel we were pretty spoilt for choice for a walk on the morning of our stay, but settled on a route through the Hole of Horcum and Levisham Moor, near Pickering.  We walked about 5 miles all in all, the terrain was pretty difficult in parts but it was absolutely worth it for the views alone.  It’s the type of scenery you can easily imagine hobbits, elves, dwarves and wizards running around in.  Who knows, they may have had a magic ring too!


Life | Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel

The morning after our stay at Ox Pasture Hall was pretty bright and beautiful too so we were determined to get outdoors again.  This time we got parked up in Scarborough town centre, about 10 minutes drive from the hotel and set out for more walking.  There are all of the usual high street names in Scarborough, but we bypassed these in favour of a walk towards the coast along the South Bay area.  Even in winter it’s a really pretty place to visit.  With kids there are plenty of amusements and attractions to keep you entertained and for the grown-ups there are lots of bars and restaurants to choose from.  We were still full from breakfast so didn’t take advantage but we did enjoy getting a bit of fresh sea air and of course I managed to find a fab little chocolate shop with dairy free treats.

Life | Ox Pasture Hall Country House Hotel

I hadn’t thought of Scarborough as a short break destination but I had a lot of fun spending two days in the area and would definitely do it again, especially if I could stay at Ox Pasture Hall.

Until next time…

SHARON

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Life | Why the hell am I vegan?


Holy shit, I just realised I switched to eating vegan on the 1st of November so right now I've been vegan for three whole months!  Before this I'd been vegetarian on and off a few times in my life but for at least the 6 months preceding November I'd been a full on carnivore, eating meat, eggs, fish and dairy with almost every meal.  So what the hell changed?  Well, there were two key motivators for me.

My health has been crap
My health was such a huge pain in the arse throughout 2015 and caused me to become the heaviest I've ever been in my life, so I knew I needed to do something about it.  I'd been watching videos from Deliciously Ella and The Happy Pear on YouTube for a few months and it became obvious that eating a plant-based diet didn't have to be extreme or restrictive and it could do incredible things for health.  It was a complete no brainer and once I made the switch I felt better than I have in over a year.

I don't want to eat animals anymore
I'm not going to get into a too much of a vegan stereotype thing here, but once you start doing some research there are certain things about industrial farming and the way people treat animals (and more specifically those meant for food) that are fucking disgusting.  Of course I knew some of this while I was still eating meat and dairy but somehow had blocked it out.  After listening to some speeches from Tim Shieff and Gary Yourofsky, amonst others, I couldn't do it anymore and switched to eating vegan the next day.

So what next for me?
Well first I should say that I don't plan on making my blog a place where I'll preach about my veganism, I wouldn't enjoy it, and I don't think anyone else would either.  That's not to say that you won't see posts about vegan food though, I love cooking and eating so of course that has a place here.

Now I'm more comfortable with a vegan diet it seems a natural progression for me to start exploring more cruelty free beauty products too.  It will be a slow progression as I use a lot of different products, but from what I can see there are plenty of brilliant options out there for me.  Expect to see more posts about that too.

Anyway, the decision to try to live more ethically just seems right to me right now, but I hope that it hasn't put you completely off my blog.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on my latest post, no matter what they are.
 
SHARON

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Vegan Eats | Nakd Bars

Woo, it's good to be back!  It feels a bit difficult to keep up with the blogging game when much of your home town (York, in case you're wondering) gets flooded.  Thankfully the flood water didn't hit us, although it got scarily close.

Today's post is hopefully the first of many, about some of the fab snacks I've been trying since I decided to switch to a vegan diet.  The most recent snacks I've been sampling are the very tasty Nakd Bars, a range of healthy snack bars that were kindly sent to me by Natural Balance Foods.

Natural Balance Foods | Nakd Bars

I've always been a bit of a fan of Nakd Bars, the ingredients list is mercifully short and there is never anything in the bars that isn't immediately recognisable as food.  There are no refined sugars or processed rubbish in them either, just lovely wholefoods, dried fruits and nuts with a few spices and natural flavourings depending on the flavour.

Natural Balance Foods | Nakd Bars

My local shops don't stock anywhere near enough of the flavours so what's great about getting a case of these bars direct is that I can sample loads of flavours at once.  There haven't been any arguments about who gets what in our house either, Gaz goes for the chocolate flavours, like Cocoa Mint or Cocoa Orange, and I always like the fruit based ones, like Rhubarb & Custard or Berry Delight.  I don't think either of us have found a flavour we don't like yet.

Natural Balance Foods | Nakd Bars

I've gotten into the habit of always having Nakd Bars on hand, whether that's one in my handbag or rucksack or a few in my desk drawer at work.  I've only been vegan for just over two months now but on those odd occasions where I've been caught out with no easy access to food that I can eat, these bars have been a bit of a lifesaver.  I even like to have one after I've been to the gym, if I just need a quick hit of calories.

If you fancy trying some stuff from Natural Balance Foods, their website is great to have a look around.  In the meantime, leave me a comment below, I'd love to hear what your favourite healthy snacks are!

SHARON

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Beauty | Space NK Arrives in York

Well it's been been a pretty exciting day for my fair little city; today we finally have a Space NK Apothecary in York city centre!  If you're not familiar with this brand you probably have no idea why I'm so very pleased, but let me give you a quick run down...

Space NK opened its first boutique in Covent Garden over 20 years ago, it originally sold designer clothing, accessories and beauty products and even had a juice bar, over time however it became more focused on an offering of carefully curated, quality skincare, makeup and general wellness products.  To date Space NK has 63 stores throughout the UK and Ireland.

Space NK York | Space NK on Davygate in York

I got a tour of the brand new store on Davygate today, and got a chance to speak to the very friendly and knowledgeable PR team about the general ethos of Space NK and the many amazing brands they have on offer.  If you've been to a Space NK anywhere in the UK before you'll know that they all have a very familiar feel, very serene, bright and premium, but incredibly appealing and welcoming at the same time; this latest boutique is no different.

Perhaps one of the best things about having a Space NK open in York is the sheer number of makeup and skincare ranges on offer.  You can, of course find some of them in the city's department stores, but many of brands are completely exclusive.  For makeup, I was particularly pleased to find Chantecaille, Becca, By Terry, Nudestix and Kevyn Aucoin, to name just a few.  The abundance of skincare was fantastic too and I can't wait to get my hands on some lotions and potions from names such as Ren, Oskia, Nude, Radical Skincare, Sunday Riley and Sarah Chapman.  What's also great, is that each of the members of staff is fully trained on each brand and can help you choose the best products for your needs.

Space NK York | Chantecaille, By Terry, Becca and Kevyn Aucoin
Space NK York | Sunday Riley, Sarah Chapman, Radical Skincare and Nude

I must have spent a good hour in the store, getting to know everything, speaking with the PR team and staff and generally playing with lots of products.  It was kind of sad when I had to be on my way but I didn't leave empty handed, in fact I left with a fabulous bag of treats to try out from Oribe, Ren, Eve Lom, Aromatherapy Associates, Diptyque and Smith & Cult.  You can see exactly what I got pictured below, and you can bet you'll see reviews of these products appearing on my blog in the very near future.

Space NK York | Oribe, Ren, Eve Lom, Aromatherapy Associates, Diptyque and Smith & Cult

The only minor negative about a having a Space NK apothecary in York?  Why, the effect on my bank balance of course.  I wonder if I should just set up a standing order to them now in exchange for regular product deliveries and be done with it?

Join me, find your nearest Space NK and spend all of your money too!  Until next time...

SHARON

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Work It Out Wednesday #5 | Being a lazy b*stard

Work It Out Wednesday #5 | Being a lazy b*stard
 
The last post I wrote in this series feels like it was forever ago, I was all motivated to get on with my 90 Day SSS Plan and was feeling like things could be starting to look up.

Fast forward a few months though and I'm now deep in the realisation that the thyroid issues I have are a bit more serious than I first thought and that it's going to take more time to get myself back to where I was even a year ago.  We're not talking dire in terms of the seriousness, but I'm still in a situation where no matter what exercise I do and what changes I make to my diet, my weight stays the same.  Another lovely side effect is that I'm bloody knackered all the time.

It's been an incredibly frustrating situation to be in; for the last year I've really prided myself on my active lifestyle, but getting nowhere has made me act like a right lazy b*stard for these last couple of months.

So what's changed, and why am I writing this series again?  Well for the simple reason that I don't want to start the festive season in a negative frame of mind and when the doctors and I do get my thyroid meds right and this god-awful tiredness lifts, I want to be doing everything I can to keep my metabolism up and to keep me in good health.

I think I remember reading somewhere that it takes 21 days to make a habit, so I figure if I can eat well and keep doing some light exercise every day for at least that period to begin with, I'll be in a good position again in a short while.  And who knows when I've got more energy I might be ready to start the 90 Day SSS Plan again (with a few tweaks since I'm now vegan).

Wish me luck!  Until next time...

SHARON

Monday, 7 December 2015

Christmas Gift Ideas | Men's Gifts from The Body Shop

Well this is a first, I've got stuff for boy's on my blog... weird eh?!  It's all for a good cause though, finding some great gifts for the men in my life.  The opposite sex, can be tricky to buy for but The Body Shop have some great gift options this year and they're not too expensive either.

To tell you a little bit about some potential gifts The Body Shop have on offer I've enlisted the help of my husband Gaz...

The Body Shop | Modern Gent's Shaving Kit

Modern Gent's Shaving Kit*


Containing a shaving brush, Maca Root Shave Cream and Maca Root Razor Relief, all presented in a cool little tin, this kit seems to have covered all of the extra products a man might need to have a good shave (with the exception of a razor of course).  It's a great little gift as far as I'm concerned.

The Body Shop | Modern Gent's Shaving Kit

Gaz's thoughts: "I don't shave very often, but when I want to, this is a handy kit to have, it reminds me of one my grandad used when I was little.  The brush and the Maca Root Shave Cream work together with a bit of water to lift up and soften the hair on my face making it easier to get a close shave.

My skin can get a bit irritated by the whole shaving thing so the Maca Root Razor Relief was good to soothe my face and neck afterwards.  The smell of the cream and moisturiser is clean and fresh and overall my skin feels softer from using these things during my shave.

Aside from the products, I can tell you I'll definitely be using the tin when I've used everything up.  I just haven't decided what I'll put in it yet."

The Body Shop | White Musk Sport Eau de Toilette Pour Homme


White Must Sport Eau de Toilette*


I always think it's nice buying a man a fragrance, they never usually think to buy scents themselves so Christmas is a great time to stock up for them.  I personally liked this eau de toilette because it's not a heavy, cloying, overtly masculine scent, instead it's a little bit crisp and zesty.

The Body Shop | White Musk Sport Eau de Toilette Pour Homme

Gaz's thoughts: "Sharon is right that I wouldn't normally buy aftershave for myself, but I'd probably buy this one again since I've tried it.  I really like the smell, at first it's fresh and you can definitely get citrus in it, when it dies down it gets really mellow which I like.  I've been using the eau de toilette every day since Sharon asked me to try it, so it's been used at work and when I've been on the odd night out, I've had a few compliments on how I smell too which is always good."

I'm really pleased that Gaz has liked these little gifts, it's given me a few ideas for presents that I could buy for the other gents in my life and I hope it might inspire you too.

I'd love to hear about the presents you have planned for your boyfriend, husband, dad, brother, etc. - leave me a comment below.

Until next time...

*Products provided for review purposes.  All thoughts and general ramblings are honest opinions from myself and my husband Gaz.

SHARON & GAZ
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