Going Pumpkin Picking

Pumpkin Picking at Farmer Copleys, Pontefract // Amy Elizabeth

Pumpkin Picking at Farmer Copleys, Pontefract // Amy Elizabeth

In pursuit of the completion of my autumn bucket list, we took a trip today to Farmer Copleys in Pontefract for their pumpkin festival. It really was the perfect autumnal day, with a whole field of plump pumpkins just ripe for the picking. There’s something so appealing about the bright orange pumpkins all nestled in a field, isn’t there? It just makes me want to light candles and eat pie and generally celebrate everything that’s great about this season.

We initially rejected a wheelbarrow because I was convinced we’d only pick up one, but they were all so delightful that I couldn’t settle on one single pumpkin so I ended up hefting three back to the car. I should have known that my indecisiveness and magpie-like nature would run riot when faced with a plethora of delicious squashes to choose from! 

Pumpkin Picking at Farmer Copleys, Pontefract // Amy Elizabeth Pumpkin Picking at Farmer Copleys, Pontefract // Amy Elizabeth

It’s so lovely to have these days with Ben already, even if he does tend to sleep through them (and look rather put out in the photos!) but I do already look forward to the days when he’ll be going around the field with me, weighing up the merits of different pumpkins. There were so many kids running about with painted faces and toffee apples choosing their pumpkins, and it warms my heart to think about doing that with Ben in the future. I so want to have seasonal traditions like pumpkin picking to look forward to every year, so there’s no doubt that we’ll be back to Farmer Copleys next year to pick up another pumpkin (or three!). 

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Champagne Thursdays at Norse, Harrogate

Norse Harrogate Menu

A little bit of decadence never did anyone any harm, right? Especially when that decadence involves champagne tasting, Nordic cuisine and a bill of only £40 per person. You would be a fool to turn such an evening down, would you not? 

The Champagne Concept Harrogate

I am certainly no fool, so I happily took myself off to Harrogate last Thursday for a magical evening at The Champagne Concept and Norse – two next door neighbours who have combined forces to make your February that little bit more sparkly for just £36 per person. Now, if you’ve been around these parts a while, you might have heard of Norse. By day, a Scandinavian-inspired coffee shop called Baltzersen’s, which is very pleasant indeed. But by night? They transform into a bijou restaurant serving seasonal, experimental Nordic food that will blow your mind. Truly one of Yorkshire’s greatest foodie assets, and one you absolutely must try. The Champagne Concept are newbies on the block, a little tasting bar and shop serving up champagne made by small producers. It’s a match made in heaven, let me assure you. 

The Champagne Concept Harrogate

We stopped at The Champagne Concept first to try their signature flight of champagne (what else?). Since Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, they were all pink champagnes, which was a lovely little touch (and would make a sweet little Valentine’s outing if you’re Harrogate-based). They were expertly described to us, and then we were left to our own devices to try them out at our leisure. The first was a Chardonnay, light and clean as you’d expect, the second, a Pinot Noir with wonderful berry flavours, and the third a rich Pinot Meunier. The Pinot Noir was surprisingly my favourite – I usually prefer a dry wine, but the strawberry notes were just delicious. The champagne tasting on its own would be a wonderful treat, and with the signature flight only £12, I have no doubt that I’ll be back for more! 

Norse Harrogate

However, that wasn’t all we had in store for the evening. We quickly nipped next door and took our table at Norse, immediately drooling over the menu. It really is like nowhere else, and I can assure you that everything on the menu is wonderful. It was almost impossible to pick out of the options, so we ordered two between us for each course and swapped half way through each dish. It was a wrench to do so, as each plate was impossibly perfect, but it was worth it to experience as much as possible of the menu. We started with two delicious shots of schnapps – one was beetroot (surprisingly good for something so savoury) and an apple (which was like drinking an American apple pie!). 

Norse Harrogate

It feels a waste to describe each dish to you here; because the menu is seasonal, you may discover something if you are to visit. However, I have never had anything there that I didn’t love. Each one is a riot of flavours, textures and colours (in the best way) with inventive, surprising touches that make the whole thing incredibly special. My favourite dishes this time around where the pig’s head terrine with crayfish and crispy lentils, and the gin-poached rhubarb with toasted coconut sorbet and cardamom meringue, but every time I go, I look forward to something new. It’s mind-blowing food in a setting so simple and friendly, I have no doubt that you’ll fall in love. 

Norse Harrogate

And all for just £36 (not including the extra drinks we had at Norse). The offer is on Thursdays during February, but I really hope that it’s something that they extend because I’d absolutely love to go back and I really want you to have the chance to experience it, too. 

Norse Harrogate

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A Trip to Haworth

Haworth, Yorkshire // Amy Elizabeth

When it comes to books, I’m usually a modern girl. However, there are definitely some notable exceptions to that rule and there are some pieces of classic literature that I would happily wax lyrical over for hours on end. There’s something so romantic about the classics; they’ve stood the test of time and spoken to so many people. More proof that we’re all the same really, whether we’re Victorian girls traipsing over the moors or Millennials instagramming our coffees. Love is love, and tragedy is tragedy. There’s something particularly romantic about the work of the Brontes; precocious sisters who wrote some of the best novels of all time, all three with tragic destinies and brilliant brains. Their real life is as fascinating and inspiring as their work, which is why I was so excited to visit the Yorkshire village of Haworth this weekend, once home and now homage to this literary family.  

Haworth, Yorkshire // Amy Elizabeth

Haworth, Yorkshire // Amy Elizabeth

The thing about Yorkshire is that it will steal your hear and never, ever let it go. I am already head over heels for this wonderful place, but Haworth is Yorkshire showing off its best side. Rolling hills, stunning scenery, pretty cottages, cobbled streets and good, old-fashioned pubs. You can even take a steam train to get there. Basically, Haworth is a total babe. 

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Haworth, Yorkshire // Amy Elizabeth

As soon as we arrived, we were confronted by a Victorian-style apothecary, an old-fashioned sweet shop and a shop selling flat caps. It couldn’t be more Yorkshire if it tried, and was almost like stepping back in time. We started off by wandering up to the Bronte Parsonage Museum, once home to the Bronte family. The rest of the group weren’t nearly so fussed, so after a quick turn around the museum shop, where you can pick up the most beautiful copies of Bronte novels, as well as some Bron-Tea (!), we returned to the village for a wander around. Everything in Haworth is steeped in Bronte history, from the jam stall we passed selling ‘Jane Eyre’s Strongly-Principled Strawberry Jam’ to the school where the Brontes once taught. For a literature nerd like me, it was total heaven. 

Haworth, Yorkshire // Amy Elizabeth

Haworth, Yorkshire // Amy Elizabeth

Haworth, Yorkshire // Amy Elizabeth

Our original plan was to walk up to ‘Top Withens’, generally thought to be the inspiration for Heathcliff’s home in the moors. I was totally up for immersing myself in the bleak countryside and getting a real taste for the Brontes life. However, the weather had other ideas, and not wanting to get totally soaked, we instead wandered around the village, picking up some pastries and pear drops and popping into every book shop we could see. If you’re after a dreamy day trip, then Haworth really is the place for it – I’m still buzzing about it days later and I can’t wait to go back and get up on those moors! 

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Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, Scarborough

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review, Scarborough, Yorkshire

Yorkshire is pretty wonderful. There’s pretty much everything you could want here in God’s own county – from the mean streets of Leeds to the rolling pastures of the Dales, the bleakness of the moors and the quaint little towns with drystone walls. I’ve made my way around quite a bit of these green & pleasant lands over the past couple of years, but there’s still plenty to explore – including Yorkshire’s coast. So when I was invited to come down to Ox Pasture Hall near Scarborough, I jumped at the chance. 

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review, Scarborough, Yorkshire

Ox Pasture Hall is perfectly situated for those wanting to see more of Yorkshire – it’s a five minute drive from Scarborough for those who want to stroll along the beach, but tucked away in the countryside for those who want a quiet break and a ramble in the fields. It’s also not far from York or Whitby, so there’s plenty to do for a longer stay. Oh, and it’s dog friendly for those with pooches (and those who, like me, really want a pooch and will happily coo over other’s pets when out and about…). We were just there for one night, but we managed to walk along the seafront and snack on some proper fish & chips – whetting my appetite to come back to this part of the world! 

Chips at Scarborough Beach

The hotel itself looks like a rustic country house, set in stunning gardens. There’s a log-burning stove in the bar area and a few hints of the old life of this building scattered around the place. It’s very cosy, although we went on a Wednesday so it was a little quiet – which depending on your sensibilities will be a good or a bad thing! Our suite was absolutely beautiful, and incredibly spacious. It was light and airy, and incredibly comfortable – the bed was like sleeping in a cloud. I was very disappointed to go back to my regular bed which has very few cloud-like qualities. 

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review, Scarborough, Yorkshire

Let’s talk about the food though, shall we? That’s what you’re really here for, isn’t it? I’ll be honest and say that the afternoon tea was nothing much to write home about; having had some very good afternoon teas in my time, I was a little underwhelmed by the selection. However, that being said, dinner more than redeemed any lingering disappointment from the tea – it was incredible. It’s not cheap, but I was so full afterwards that I couldn’t really manage any breakfast the next day, so it’s easy to get your money’s worth!

Afternoon Tea at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review, Scarborough, Yorkshire

There are two menus – the A La Carte and Bistro. Since we were feeling fancy, we went for the A La Carte. A surprise ‘amuse bouche’ arrived first – a little cup of more-ish tomato & red pepper soup served with fresh bread and a dollop of garlic sauce. This was followed by Whitby crab for me – a very fresh dish – and ham hock for Paul. I want to sing the praises of the main course, however – a delicious beef dish made up of a slow-cooked joint and steak, which was melt-in-the-mouth and incredibly decadent. The menu changes regularly with the seasons, but if you get the chance then order this dish! There was no room for dessert after all that, which is not my usual modus operandi but needs must! 

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review, Scarborough, Yorkshire

Whitby Crab at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review, Scarborough, Yorkshire

Beef at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Review, Scarborough, Yorkshire

All in all, we had a wonderful time. It is one of my enduring memories of Bridget Jones that she was a little obsessed with going on a mini-break, which always confused me as a teenager. However, I think if all mini-breaks were like this one then I think I could definitely get on board with her way of thinking. 

Disclaimer: We were offered a complimentary stay and meal at Ox Pasture Hall in return for this review but, as always, I would never lie to you about the cloud-like nature of a bed. That’s serious stuff. 

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Exploring Knaresborough

knaresborough 9

There are a lot of things I like about living in England. The NHS. Pimms. Blackberry picking. But one of my favourite things is that everywhere you go is steeped in history. People have been living on these green and pleasant lands for centuries, which means that everywhere has its little stories to tell and secrets to reveal. Not all of our history is good, although it is often grand, but there are so many little tales to be told on top of all of that – weird, quirky, and downright odd tales. I’m also very lucky, living in Leeds, that it’s so quick and easy to get out into the surrounding towns and villages where these tales are just waiting to be discovered. Leeds has its own history, but sometimes its nice to step out of your every day and go exploring. 

knaresborough 1

Which is exactly what we did when we took a little day trip to Knaresborough a few weeks ago with Joe and Cheryl. It’s a lovely, quaint place with old buildings, cosy pubs and plenty of history. It’s also currently decked out in all the Tour de France finery from the festivities in July – there was bunting galore which put such a smile on my face. There is something about that community spirit that you lose a little bit in the big bad city. 

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knaresborough 4

We spent the day wandering around, discovering the not-so-secrets of Knaresborough. The ancient, crumbling castle overlooking one of the most stunning views I’ve ever seen. The House in the Rock, now hidden from public view (most of the time). Antiques shops stuffed with ancient books. Mother Shipton’s Caves where you can make a wish and find out more about the life of this soothsayer (it’s a little creepy, I’ll tell you…). Perhaps most fantastically, you can take a look at the Petrifying Well – a waterfall-like structure where the water gives objects hung there a stony exterior. 

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knaresborough 10

All in all, a wonderful day out – and a lesson in how much has happened before us. And how freaky nature can be…

knaresborough 7 knaresborough 8

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Yorkshire Day with Le Creuset

Row of Le Creuset Mugs // Amy Elizabeth

I am new to the world of Le Creuset – I have known about it, of course, for years but it is only recently that I have experienced the true joy of cast iron cooking. It was Lil who persuaded me that it was worth the investment, and since picking up a set of five red Le Creuset saucepans I have been completely converted. I know that this is the start of a life-long love affair and I already have my eye on the next pieces I want to add to my collection.

Lil from Whip Until Fluffy // Amy Elizabeth

Which is why I was completely over the moon to be invited to the Le Creuset shop in the Victoria Quarter on Yorkshire Day of all days, to find out a little bit more about the brand, perv over some delicious cookware and be treated to a cookery demonstration by my enabler herself, Lil from Whip Until Fluffy. Her blog will convince you that this girl know what she’s doing, but I was totally blown away by the Yorkshire-inspired menu that she cooked up – so much so that I tried to recreate it for myself the very next day! The shop was also impressive – a haven of rainbow-coloured cookware in a light and bright setting.

Bowl of Yorkshire Chorizo // Amy Elizabeth

We’re very lucky to have some wonderful Yorkshire produce to play with, especially at this time of year. I was surprised to find that Yorkshire-produced wine is as good as any I’ve had – and I’ll definitely be taking myself to Latitude Wines to get myself another bottle at some point. Lil cooked up a courgette risotte with said white wine, Ribblesdale goat cheese and a lovely drizzle of Lemon Yorkshire Rapeseed Oil. It was incredibly moreish and cooked to perfection – I’ll let her share the recipe with you, but suffice to say this is one I’ll be adding into my weekly rotation.

Courgette Risotto // Amy Elizabeth

As well as this, she made a Spanish-inspired chicken casserole with Yorkshire Chorizo (made at The Reliance, and possessing a delicious meaty flavour and chunky texture that supermarket chorizo just cannot replicate) and green beans. Whilst the dish itself was delicious, I was definitely most taken with the gorgeous yellow shallow casserole dish she made it in – so much so that I almost bought it right there and then. It was perfect for frying off the ingredients and then for placing straight into the oven, as well as for serving straight to the table. With a lifetime guarantee as well, it’s a bargain right? Right? I walked away without it, but I’m regretting that decision massively right now…

Le Creuset Yellow Shallow Casserole Dish // Amy Elizabeth

Le Creuset Yellow Shallow Casserole Dish // Amy Elizabeth

To finish off the evening, Lil made us a Yorkshire Tea ice cream with a piquant rhubarb pickle – an unusual pudding and perhaps a little strange sounding, but it was delightful; soft, creamy ice cream with a hint of tea flavour and sharp rhubarb to cut through. Keep an eye out on her blog for the recipe for that one.

Cooking Risotto // Amy Elizabeth

All in all, it was a wonderful way to spend an evening and just proved how wonderful our local food is – I’m definitely going to try and source even more of our food from around these parts (first stop: that chorizo) and try to highlight these delicacies on my blog. It also proved how a little money spent on cookware can really make a difference; yellow dish, you will be mine!

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Yorkshire Tea Bread

Yorkshire Tea Bread

In my experience, being from the Home Counties doesn’t inspire a lot of loyalty. You’ll often find people from even the most idyllic parts of our fair country decrying their hometown as, well, a bit shit. I think it’s because there’s not a lot to do when you’re growing up in the commuter belt. London sucks everything inwards, and whilst most people I know will proudly declare they love for the big city, their own home doesn’t get a lot of love.

The opposite appears to be true for Yorkshire-folk. The love and devotion that locals feel for their county is both very touching and a little baffling. It’s also something I very much want to be a part of – even if I have started saying my vowels funny from living here so long. It’s easy to see why Yorkshire inspires such loyalty – it’s an absolutely glorious place to live. If we drive fifteen minutes one way, we end up in the city centre with all the fabulous metropolitan benefits that affords. If we drive fifteen minutes the other way, we’re confronted with stunning views of rolling fields. There’s nothing quite like Yorkshire countryside – it has a ruggedness about it that we just can’t achieve in the South. It’s also true what they say – people are friendlier up North. And they know how to throw one hell of a party. If you read this blog with any frequency, you’ll also know that the food is pretty fantastic.

All of this to say that today is Yorkshire Day. Another example of that Yorkshire pride I’ve been talking about – I’m not sure there is a Kent Day. I feel more at home in Yorkshire than I ever have anywhere else, and I am excited to share in a little part of that pride – as far as I’m allowed as a born-and-bred Southerner. So I made a Yorkshire Tea Bread, adapted from Ruby Tandoh’s version but with, what else, Yorkshire Tea. Serve with a cuppa and a big slab of butter smeared on top. Cheers, Yorkshire!

Yorkshire Tea Bread // Amy Elizabeth
You’ll need:

  • 275g mixed dried fruit
  • 300ml strong Yorkshire Tea (I used three teabags)
  • 60g soft dark brown sugar
  • zest of a lemon
  • 2 large eggs
  • 275g plain flour
  • 2 and 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • pinch of salt
  • sprinkle of demerara sugar

Yorkshire Tea Bread // Amy Elizabeth

1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C and grease a loaf tin.

2. Pop the fruit into a large saucepan and pour over the tea. Bring to the boil and then turn down the heat, leaving to simmer for a couple of minutes.

3. Stir in the dark brown sugar and take off the heat.

4. Leave for 15-20 minutes before adding the lemon zest and eggs. Stir until combined.

5. In that time, sift together the dry ingredients (except the demerara sugar). Add to the saucepan once it’s ready.

6. Stir gently until fully combined. Pour into the prepared loaf tin.

7. Sprinkle the sugar on top (it gives a lovely crispy top) and pop into the oven for 45-50 minutes.

8. Leave to cool and then cut into slices to enjoy with your cup of Yorkshire Tea!

Yorkshire Tea Bread // Amy Elizabeth

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