Top Five Places For Afternoon Tea

We love afternoon tea here at Style Diary! And with Mother’s Day coming up at the end of March, it’s the perfect excuse to treat her and yourself.

We’ve chosen our favourite places around the UK for afternoon tea to inspire you…

Fortnum & Mason

Fortnum & Mason is renowned for its wonderful afternoon tea in The Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, which was opened by HM The Queen in 2012. They offer traditional afternoon tea with finger sandwiches, warm freshly baked scones served with Devonshire clotted cream and homemade preserves, as well as delicious éclairs, cupcakes and macaroons.

The Lowry Hotel, Manchester

The Lowry Hotel’s afternoon tea includes finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and strawberry preserve, pastries and dainty fondant fancies washed down with teas, infusions or champagne. A traditional experience with a twist.

Bettys, York

Bettys has a rich heritage dating back to the 1930s. Indulge in afternoon tea as you sit among huge, curved windows, elegant wood panelling and ornate mirrors. Enjoy sandwiches, scones and cakes, and a choice of 18 speciality teas.

W Hotel, London

W London’s afternoon tea includes unique treats influenced by the likes of Coco Chanel, Lady Gaga, Elizabeth I, Margaret Thatcher and Vivienne Westwood. Their latest tea offering ‘Anarch’Tea’ combines classic British flavours, with bold punk-inspired designs.

The W Hotel Anarch’Tea combines classic British flavours, with bold punk-inspired designs…

Combe House, Devon

Enjoy afternoon tea in a Grade a listed Elizabethan Manor set in one of Devon’s finest country estates. The delicious spread includes freshly baked fruit scones, home-made buttery shortbread, traditional Devon clotted cream and jam made from strawberries grown in Combe’s Kitchen Gardens.

Editor’s Pick: Precis Petite Enid Dress

 

 

The question on the top of everyone’s lips at the moment is what to wear to all the occasions we’ve pencilled in our diaries?! With wedding season fast approaching and talk of Ascot and other race-days becoming more predominant, all we’re left with is the nagging feeling of finding something to wear.

If you want our advice, we would suggest finding something versatile, statement and a style that can be easily dressed up or down…

 

 

This week our Editor has chosen the Precis Petite Enid dress for this very situation. Carefully crafted from a textured jacquard fabric, this dress is cut in a soft prom shape and features a beautiful floral print perfect for the season. There is also a skinny belt designed to cinch in the waist for extra shape, so not only will you look super feminine, you’ll be accentuating your figure too!

Modelled by the gorgeous Caroline from blog The Belle Abroad, this dress can be worn with a cropped cardigan and heels for a garden party or with a structured jacket and strappy sandals for a wedding, you can even wear this dress with ballet pumps for a more dressed down summer look.

 

 

Get yours here!  http://bit.ly/2jYXXLw

Healthy Winter Recipes For The New Year

Happy New Year and welcome to January 2017!

As many of us embark upon healthy eating plans, we thought we’d share some of our favourite winter recipes to keep motivation high. The cold, short days and the long, colder nights are not conducive to salads and daily jogs. But it doesn’t have to be this difficult to eat healthily. In fact, with just a bit of preparation it can be so tasty that you’ll not even stop for left over Christmas chocolate.

Here are some of our favourite healthy winter recipes to help inspire you to keep eating healthily.

Chicken noodle soup

Courtesy of Good Food magazine, this recipe will have you rushing home after work so you can warm up with a wholesome and easy meal.

Ingredients:

  • 900ml chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast, about 175g/6oz
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh root ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 50g rice or wheat noodles
  • 2 tbsp sweetcorn, canned or frozen
  • 2-3 mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions, shredded
  • 2 tsp soy sauce, plus extra for serving
  • mint or basil leaves and a little shredded chilli (optional), to serve

Method:

  • Pour the stock into a pan and add the chicken, ginger and garlic. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, partly cover and simmer for 20 mins, until the chicken is tender. Remove the chicken to a board and shred into bite-size pieces using two forks.
  • Return the chicken to the stock with the noodles, corn, mushrooms, half the spring onions and the soy sauce. Simmer for 3-4 mins until the noodles are tender. Ladle into two bowls and scatter over the remaining spring onions, herbs (and chilli shreds). Serve with a little extra soy sauce according to taste.

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A healthy, quick and versatile snack or the centre of a meal – falafel is a great staple for the healthy diet. This recipe is courtesy of Good Food magazine.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 400g can chickpeas, washed and drained
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander (or use more cumin)
  • handful parsley, chopped, or 1 tsp dried mixed herbs
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method:

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large pan, then fry the onion and garlic over a low heat for 5 mins until softened. Tip into a large mixing bowl with the chickpeas and spices, then mash together with a fork or potato masher until the chickpeas are totally broken down. Stir in the parsley or dried herbs, with seasoning to taste. Add the egg, then squish the mixture together with your hands.
  • Mould the mix into 6 balls, then flatten into patties. Heat the remaining oil in the pan, then fry the falafels on a medium heat for 3 mins on each side, until golden brown and firm. Serve hot or cold with couscous, pitta bread or salad.

Vegan burgerkljhkj

Healthy, filling and perfect for lunch or dinner, these burgers can be enjoyed by meat-eaters and vegeans alike. Recipe courtesy of Jamie Oliver.

Ingredients:

  • 1 x 400 g tin of chickpeas
  • 1 x 340 g tin of sweetcorn
  • ½ a bunch of fresh coriander
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 heaped tablespoons plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • sea salt
  • rapeseed oil
  • 1 small round lettuce
  • 2 large ripe tomatoes
  • tomato ketchup
  • 4 wholemeal burger buns

Method:

  • Drain and place the chickpeas and sweetcorn into a food processor. Add half the coriander leaves to the processor along with the stalks. Add the spices, lemon zest, flour and a pinch of salt, then pulse until combined, but not smooth, to retain some texture.
  • On a flour-dusted surface, divide and shape the mixture into 4 patties (about 2cm thick). Pop onto a tray and place in the fridge for around 30 minutes.
  • Heat a splash of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the patties and cook for around 10 minutes, or until golden and cooked through, turning halfway.
  • Meanwhile, wash and spin-dry four lettuce leaves and finely slice the tomatoes horizontally.
  • Squeeze ketchup onto the base of each bun (toast them if you like), then top with the burgers. Layer over a couple of slices of tomato, a lettuce leaf, a few coriander leaves and finally the burger tops. Serve with a salad according to taste.

Homecooked beans on toast

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A grown-up take on an ageless classic: beans on toast are perfect for winter, and dare we say these ones are even better than the original.

Ingredients:

  •  300 g dried borlotti or cannellini beans, soaked in cold water for at least 12 hours
  • 3 cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • A few sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 stick celery, trimmed
  • 1 small potato, peeled and halved
  • 2 cherry tomatoes
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • A few sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4 slices sourdough bread

Method:

  • Drain and wash your soaked beans. Place them in a deep pot and cover with cold water. Throw in the garlic, herb sprigs, bay leaves, celery stick, potato and tomatoes and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on whether you’re using fresh or dried, until soft and cooked nicely. Top up with boiling water if needed.
  • When the beans are cooked, drain and reserve enough water to cover them halfway up when back in the pot. Remove the garlic, herbs, celery, potato and tomatoes from the beans. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their skins and pinch the skin off the tomatoes. Put the garlic, tomatoes and potato on to a plate, mash them with a fork and stir back into the beans. Season with salt and pepper, pour in three lugs of extra virgin olive oil and a few splashes of vinegar. Stir in the parsley and serve on toasted sourdough bread.

Best British Winter Walks

New Year's Day Walks

New Year’s Day Walks

Hope Valley, Peak District (3 miles, approximately 1.5 hours)

The Hope Valley area is famous for the Blue John Cavern, where precious jewels are mined, as well as the spectacular views. Mam Tor is one of the most dramatic viewpoints in the Peak District, so look out for the sweeping vistas along this gentle ramble.

Upper Wharfedale, Yorkshire Dales (3.75 miles, approximately 1-2 hours)

The beautiful and diverse landscape of Upper Wharfedale takes in farms and hay meadows along the River Wharfe, as well as the classic Yorkshire wild moorland and rolling hills. Watch out for nearby village of Kettlewell, the location for the hit film Calendar Girls.

Yorkshire Dales in winter
Yorkshire Dales in winter

Boscastle, Cornwall (4 miles, approximately 1-2 hours)

This coastline route starts in the seaside village of Boscastle, following along the Valency River as it meanders in a vague easterly direction. Don’t miss the Valency Valley, a beautifully picturesque expanse of meadows.

Bath, Somerset (6 miles, approximately 3-3.5 hours)

Savour the spectacular views over the Georgian city and across the Mendips. This leisurely walk offers stunning views over Bath and the chance to see a variety of plants and wildlife.

Bath in winter
Bath in winter

Ben Lomond, Stirling (7 miles, approximately 3 ½ hours)

If you fancy a New Year’s Day challenge then try tackling this gentle Munro walk. The views from the summit stretch from Ben Nevis in the north to the Isle of Arran in the south, with Loch Lomond laid out below.

After all that walking, you will need to rest and recuperate at a cosy country pub. Here are our favourite winter pubs.

Bonfire Night Firework Displays

We can’t deny that Guy Fawkes Night doesn’t still excite us! “Remember, remember the 5th of November” is etched in our brains forever, huddling round a bonfire in a cosy coat, with a warm drink, and sprinklers held at arm’s length. 5th November is a great excuse for spending time with loved ones and indulging in a fun British tradition. Here are some of this year’s top Bonfire Night fireworks displays around the UK.

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C/o peaceful-jp-scenery via Flickr

Alexandra Palace Fireworks Festival, North London

Once a year, the stunning Alexandra Palace illuminates the skies of North London. As well as the legendary fireworks display, tickets include entrance to a “family zone” funfair (with facepainting and family entertainment), an adult funfair (with some white-knuckle rides) and a street food and craft beer village offering a selection of fine beers, many from local brewers. You can also purchase discounted tickets to the ice rink. We can’t think of a better combination!

Date: 4th & 5th November at 7.30pm

Midsummer Common fireworks show, Cambridge

The Midsummer Common fireworks show attracts around 25,000 people a year, and this year promises to be just as big and spectacular as ever. With a fireworks display, followed by a bonfire, guests will also be treated to a firework’s show by Phoenix Performance. A full night of bonfire treats!

Date: 5th Novemberat 7.30pm

firework3

Fireworks at the Segedunum Fort, Wallsend

One of the North East of England’s biggest firework displays, Segedunum is a Roman fort at the end of Hadrian’s Wall. And even better: the remains of the fort, the reconstructed bath house and the museum are free to all visitors before the fireworks so you can really make an afternoon and evening of it.

Date: Saturday 5th November at 6.30pm

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C/o Jonny via Flickr

Richmond Family Fireworks, London

This display – apparently the biggest in the borough – is a good one for the whole family. And even better: the whole fireworks display will be choreographed to Michael Jackson’s greatest hits. There will also be a bonfire, sparklers, live entertainment and a funfair, with mulled wine and hot food.  Perfect!

Date: Saturday 5th November at 6.30pm

Style Diary Meets Holly Bell

To celebrate this year’s fantastic series of Great British Bake Off, Style Diary caught up with Holly Bell, finalist from the 2011 series. As a wonderful baker, blogger and mother of three boys, we’re thrilled to welcome Holly onto our Style Inspiration blog! We picked her brains about her love of baking and the nation’s favourite baking programme….

Holly Bell
Holly Bell

How did you get into baking?

I started baking with my Mum, sitting on the work top and ‘helping’ cream cake mixture together. I also have memories of baking jam tarts with my Nanna and being chastised for being a bit too generous with the jam! I carried on baking through my teens and twenties but I guess things really took off when I got married at the age of 28. Suddenly I had a husband to feed, a baby on the way and a lot more time on my hands.

You were a finalist on the second series of Great British Bake Off in 2011. How did you get onto the show?

I blame it all on a good birth experience! My second son, Max, had been born in the October and it had been a very good birth. I felt a bit like superwoman afterwards. So when I saw a plea on a blog for people to apply for The Great British Bake Off I decided that I’d apply, despite having a 2 year old and a 3 month old! Seemed like a very sensible idea at the time. I had to fill in a paper application (seven sheets of A4!), had a phone interview, two live auditions and then I got the call that, frankly, changed my life.

What was your favourite challenge on the show, and what which was your favourite bake?

My favourite challenge on the show was probably the Battenberg cake on week 1. I have long eaten the humble Battenberg but had never made one so it was a bit of a challenge. I approached it as an exercise in construction and managed to come first in that technical challenge. It seems my many hours of playing Lego had paid off. My favourite bake? That would have to be my three-cheese, onion and potato pie. I am a savoury girl at heart so it’s very much my kind of bake. Plus, Mr Hollywood liked it which is a rare thing!

Battenberg cake
Courtesy of poppet with a camera via Flickr

What are Mary and Paul really like?

I think Mary has a reputation for being a soft touch but she really isn’t. She often delivered quite critical feedback but did it in such a way that you came away thanking her for her advice. I warmed to Mary a lot and had a good chat with her about being a working mother. Paul was often harsh with his criticism – he’s the Simon Cowell of baking! However, he has been nothing but supportive since the show finished filming so I think under his lion exterior he may well be a pussy cat.

What have you been up to since the show, and how has GBBO helped?

I have done so many things since the show it’s hard to keep count! I’ve presented a radio show, been the digital face of the Live Well for Less campaign for Sainsburys, presented on QVC shopping channel, made recipe films for Lakeland and lots of other companies, plus written articles for various newspapers and magazines. Last but by no means least, I have published my first recipe book recently which went straight into the bestsellers list! It’s been a rollercoaster and it all started with GBBO. I do pinch myself sometimes that so much has happened.

How would you describe your fashion style?

I oscillate between very practical, classic and slightly preppy. I love Breton tops, well-cut jeans or trousers, loafers and a navy jacket, as much as I love being ultra dressed up and glam. I do love 1950s style dresses as they really suit my curvy figure. I have a wardrobe full of beautiful eveningwear that used to get regular outings when I worked in advertising. Now I work from home so they’re rarely used – I can’t bear to part with them though!

 

Thanks so much to Holly for chatting to us. Check our her wonderful recipe blog, Recipes from a Normal Mum.

Life’s A Beach: Top 5 UK Beach Getaways

Life’s A Beach: Top 5 UK Beach Getaways

Not a fan of air travel but want a well-needed break away? Why not stay right here in the UK! Not only do we have some of the loveliest beaches, but some could be closer than you think. Here is a round-up of our top five favourite beach destinations right here in the UK, perfect for a staycation…

 

Windsmoorbeach

Salcombe, South Devon

Located in one of the most southerly parts of Devon, Salcombe is a holiday goers dream destination. Not only is there no airports, flying and foreign exchange involved, you get to benefit from the stunning beaches, scenery and picturesque village. Boasting areas of unspoilt quaintness and coastal surroundings, there is always a lot to do in Salcombe. We would recommend partaking in a range of water and land activities this town has to offer.

Overlooking the beach at Mill Bay on the Salcombe Estuary, Devon England UK
Overlooking the beach at Mill Bay on the Salcombe Estuary, Devon England UK

Holkham, North Norfolk

With one of the most beautiful stretches of sand in the country, Holkham was voted the UK’s best beach, has one of the biggest nature reserves in the country and is featured in the closing credits of Shakespeare In Love with Gwyneth Paltrow! We would recommend visiting the stately home of Holkham House, which boasts a wonderful taste of history and is still inhabited by the Earl of Leicester and his family.

Holkham

Watergate Bay, Newquay

The perfect destination for surf addicts, Watergate Bay in Newquay is just paradise. With stunning cliffs and caves backed with miles of golden sands, this place is ideal for a variety of water sports, walking and general outdoor amenities. We would recommend dining at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant which is located right on the sand!

St Andrew’s West Sands, Scotland

A mecca for golf lovers, St Andrew’s West Sands boasts two miles of uninterrupted sands, with plenty of alternatives if the weather turns sour and an array of lovely restaurants. Filled with history, there is even a golf museum near the cathedral and castle if beaches are not really your thing!

west sandsSt Ives Beach, Cornwall

An ageing hipsters paradise, St Ives Beach in Cornwall is a well-known destination for beautiful scenery, cobbled streets and pubs that still serve the kind of ale your grandparents talk about, some people also claim St Ives has one of the best bays in the UK…

If you been to any of the above places or can recommend another beach you think is the best, tweet us @JacquesVert