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
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