Central Bark Manchester: basically you need to go

If you follow me on social media, you will know that recently I’ve been spamming you all about the Nose of Tralee. This isn’t the competition where the girls get all dolled up in a nice frock, but instead the pet version – minus the dresses. Naturally I had to enter Glen, who won for County Armagh (YES YOU GO GLEN), and is now fighting to be crowned the best pet in Ireland, which let’s face it he doesn’t officially need a crown for. But! If you fancy giving him a vote you can do so here, it’s the last day to do so!
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Sadly, Glen is all the way across the water and right now in life keeping a pet is not the most practical thing in the world. This I am beyond heartbroken about.

Every day my other half has to tolerate being tagged in about 100 dog memes, and me nattering every other minute: “I just want a wee dog, when can we get one pleaseeee?” Nat being the great boyfriend he is, came up with a solution: HE FOUND A DOG CAFÉ.

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Central Bark (what a name) is based in Wynthenshawe just outside of Manchester, and if you’re dog obsessed like me this will be right up your street. You don’t need to have a pet to visit, and what’s great about here is they cater for all kinds of dogs. There are rescue dogs, dogs in for day care, and others who are just in for a bit of a holiday.

Nat and I went on a Sunday morning, so naturally brunch was a must. I went for pancakes and Nat had a full English. The food was fab, and as you can see resident dog Alfie was very interested in the food, but was very polite and just observed us eating!

So, there’s food and dogs. It can’t get any better can it? IT DOES. For a fiver you can have a twenty minute meet and greet session with the dogs, play a bit of fetch and generally have a great time. Bella took a shine to Nat and I was ready to take my new pal Lottie home.

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If you have a pet, or like me are a keen supporter of dogs then I definitely recommend a day out here. The staff are also lovely and I must admit that I am 100% jealous of their job. We drove here, as it was much easier than getting the train, but Central Bark is a short walk from the tram stop, so it is accessible by public transport.

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If you want to find out more all their details are on their Facebook page here.

Tori x

How the other half live

You know that scene in Friends where Monica cries to Rachel, ‘I’m going to have to live with a boy?’ That’s basically what I felt like last summer when I decided to live with my other half.

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Moving in with your significant other is undeniably a determining factor as to whether or not you can actually manage to put up with each other. Last July I moved in with Nat and it’s safe to say the past year has been an experience.

I had lived with guys in a house share before but I don’t feel that can really contribute to living alone with one. As you’ll hear later, it’s a whole new experience. I wouldn’t say I was concerned as such, but naturally I was a bit nervous and intrigued about the whole thing. Nat and I spent a lot of time together any way, and ironically now due to our work schedules we probably see each other less, but it was so exciting getting the house kitted out with all of our stuff.

I could ramble on about our whirlwind adventure over the past year but I thought it would be better hearing it straight from the horse’s mouth (as they say).

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Here’s what Nat had to say about the experience:

Obviously it’s been the best experience of your life as I am an absolute delight to live with, but were you scared?

N: Moving in with a crazy Irish lass is very scary, and I’m sure everyone here knows how opinionated Tori is, but that’s what makes it all real. We are literally like chalk and cheese, our music and film tastes couldn’t be less in sync but it’s really helped us learn about each other. We both know that our connection isn’t based on anything superficial, but based on each other’s personalities and what makes us tick. So I knew us living together would make or break us, like it does with any couple, but so far it’s made us.

I was petrified! Being scared I think is normal in that kind of situation, and as Nat said, we knew it would either make or break us. I think in terms of the personality thing, as much as I hate to admit this, Nat is definitely right. We are complete opposites when it comes to our personalities and interests, but we balance each other out pretty well.

What’s been your favourite bit? – Apart from the whole thing.

N: Well obviously having my eyes opened to RuPaul’s Drag Race has to be a huge high point. But to be fair, there hasn’t been one over arching highlight to my year living with Tori. It’s all the little things that make it worthwhile. The little voices she makes to us cooking random meals together, to us having duvet days binging on rubbish TV. It all adds up to a really stellar experience.

I love our trips to Aldi, I know that’s so random, and it’s probably because I love food so much but it always just seems to be a laugh. We also have a favourite shop assistant which adds to the experience. I think it’s because we’re best friends too, so without sounding mega cliché and cheesy we have loads of inside jokes and have a genuinely great time together. Ironically despite living together we don’t get to see each other very much so we try to make the most of the time together that we do have.

Is there any point in asking if there have been any lows?

N: ‘Spose I best not go tooooo much into the low points! As I mentioned before Tori and I are the definition of chalk and cheese, she likes trashy pop ballads, I like 14 minute conceptual prog metal pieces; and being the great boyfriend I am I never get to listen to whatever music I like! But to be honest that’s probably the only real tiff we ever have, both arguing about our rubbish music tastes!

Good answer! I would say in all honesty though our main tiffs are over our non-existent cleaning rota. If that’s the worst thing we can have a tiff over I’m sure we’ll survive – just about.

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Over the past year I’ve learnt how to score a goal (and beat Nat completely) on Fifa, and he can now name some of his favourite Queens from RuPaul’s Drag Race – it’s Adore Delano by the way. It’s all about compromise. As hard as it is to admit, I know I have my own flaws as everyone does, but how you can work through things together is what it’s all about. We’re about to hit our two year anniversary and how that’s flown round so quickly I have no idea! But from being friends in the choir to now, it’s been a wonderful two years.

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Ok the cheese is all over now.

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Tori x

University throwbacks

Timehop is getting way too smart at reminding me that every year I’m getting further away from being a teenager and a student. Over the past few weeks I’ve been hounded with old posts that show how it’s been three years since I finished university and at this point I was eagerly awaiting to find out if I had actually managed to pass or not.

I’ve spoken quite a bit on my blog about life post-uni, but what about during it?

In September 2011 I carted myself off to the University of Chester and began to study English with Theology and Religious Studies. I get asked all the time why I decided to do this, but at 17 with a UCAS form it’s quite hard to decide what you’re going to do for the rest of your life so I just went with what I was good at and most importantly, what I enjoyed.

Living standards

If you’ve ever moved away for uni it’s a bit daunting but I was landed with four lovely housemates and a uni house which was thankfully didn’t live up to the stereotypical mouldy, cupboards-hanging-off type of house. Happy days! I just now had to budget my student loan to make sure I could pay the rent.

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The course

At uni I found myself weighed down quite a lot with reading. I wonder how that happened considering I chose two arts subjects? I feel though that I really had to learn to balance my time effectively to make sure I wasn’t favouring one subject over the other. By the time final year came I was majoring English and along with that came the lovely dissertation. I absolutely loved my English degree as I feel I wouldn’t have developed my writing skills without it. In second year I focused on Romanticism, and in my third year I studied Crime Fiction and Language and Gender, where I discovered some of my now favourite texts.

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When people asked me what I studied in Theology and Religious Studies I still revel in the fact that I managed to write an essay about Jay-Z and Kanye West (which I briefly mentioned here). Spirituality and Popular Culture was undoubtedly my most favourite thing I ever studied, particularly the focus on religious themes within music and the media. I felt really sorry for people studying boring degrees.

At the University of Chester you also get the opportunity to gain some work experience in your second year through ‘Work Based Learning.’ My placement saw me join the Careers and Employability team, where I got to create an e-Newsletter. This role is undoubtedly where I discovered that a creative job was something I aspired to as I had such a great time creating it, and the team there were also amazing and so friendly! To this day I still proudly carry that newsletter to job interviews as part of my work portfolio.

I also can’t forget the wonderful people I met on my course, I feel like I owe my degree to some of them, as we supported each other during library sessions; shared those library books that were impossible to borrow because annoyingly someone else had it out for the majority of the year; they were there for you when it was all getting too much, and of course shared the same passion for your subjects as you. I’m still friends with people I met on my course and we can all draw the same opinions that if we all didn’t go to Chester uni we wouldn’t have met each other which would just have been heartbreaking.

 

I’m running out of money, it’s time to get a job

Yep, that student loan doesn’t last forever. In my first year of uni I wanted to get properly settled so I decided to leave a job until my second year, luckily during the holidays I worked at home in my local shop but by the time I went back to uni after Christmas it was time to get job hunting. I ventured out of Chester and joined the most wonderful restaurant team at Cheshire Oaks. I found out that I am actually alright at working in hospitality and thankfully made some money, but most importantly I met some of my absolute best pals. I definitely recommend getting a job at uni, not only does it mean you can earn a bit of pocket money, you can pick up new skills and also get the opportunity to meet some pretty amazing people.

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Extra-curricular activities

Chester uni offered an abundance of societies, but if you’ve ever seen me run (very rare occasion – sorry if you have) you’ll understand that sports aren’t really my thing.

Throughout my school life I was an avid choir member, maybe it’s my love of High School Musical but I just love a good harmony. At my first Fresher’s Fair I was determined to find a university choir and I definitely struck gold. Mondays were no longer a day to dread but instead one to look forward to as I went along to rehersals at the university chapel in the evening. If you’ve ever been in Chester cathedral you’ll know how beautiful it is, so getting to sing in here at Christmas was mesmerising. Again, I’m so lucky to say I met some of my best friends here and got to travel to some places I had never visited before. Singing in Birmingham Symphony Hall and Chichester Cathedral are definitely up there with some of my university highlights. I also can’t fail to mention that a particular tenor is now my housemate.

Chester city

If you’ve ever visited Chester you’ll know how it just draws you in by its beauty – which is probably why I never left it. A very famous Chester Twitter account recently wrote 30 reasons to be positive about Chester which summed it up perfectly – I’m also extremely chuffed to have had a mention in this! I have a number of favourite places here in the city, Hanky Panky Pancakes, Jaunty Goat, THE RIVER and my newfound family over at the Lache at Flipside Radio, to name a few.

Graduation

Everyone has those days in their life that they’ll always remember and for me graduation is up there with meeting George Craig from One Night Only. Graduating in Chester cathedral was the perfect way to finish three years of uni, particularly after singing in there a few times. It was also great difficulty giving the graduation cloak back as I got way too comfortable feeling like I was at Hogwarts all day.

I actually feel a bit teary writing this, especially as my first year Fresher’s song just came on my iPod, but sure it was a great time! Thanks UoC, it was fab x

‘Nobody likes you when you’re 23’

Last week my dad messaged me to ask if I was turning 26 this year, “Really?! 26?!” I’m just going to hope he’s joking and leave it there. No I am not turning 26, I am in fact turning 24 tomorrow. Have no fear, right now I am not going to recite my life story from the past 24 years on earth.

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Firstly, in terms of becoming 24, I’m just really sad that I’m not seventeen anymore. That was the best age, learning to drive, chilling in common room with the pals… ah life was just pure bliss. So yeah, I would rather be enjoying my teens than getting ready to hit my mid-twenties.

I do often wonder is there a certain benchmark you’re supposed to hit when you get to certain ages? Marriage and kiddies definitely isn’t on my agenda right now, but am I supposed to have found my dream job and bought a house by now? Even writing all that gives me anxiety. I’m not one for writing “Bucket Lists” or strict goals, don’t get me wrong, I have so many things I do want to achieve in life, but if there’s one thing I have learnt in my 24 years of being on this earth it’s that every time I set out a plan life intends to get in the way. I’m not joking. Every time I try to do something or have an idea the universe is quick to interrupt and exclaim: “No we’ll do this my way I think!” Whilst this can be a bit disruptive, it’s taught me to make the best of what may not always be a bad, but a different situation.

Have I learnt anything over the past 24 years? Maybe a bit.

I don’t think I’ll ever be able to figure people out, but I’d like to think that over the past few years I’ve learnt a thing or two. Without sounding like a cheesy Instagram post, don’t bother wasting time who don’t bother with you. When I discussed “What is life” I noted that: “by the time you’re in your mid-twenties you’re lucky if you’ve about six friends left.” Whether you’re out of school, uni or a job, you quickly learn who you stay in touch with.

This year the wonder that is RuPaul’s Drag Race was introduced to my life. I’m so grateful for this. From watching drag queens battle it out every week to become America’s Next Drag Superstar I have actually been inspired to be more true to myself and actually learn to appreciate myself that little bit more. This is something I’ve admittedly struggled to do, in my post ‘A reflection on 2016: Do we really need to go there?’, I touched on this, but as RuPaul proudly says, ‘If you can’t love yourself, how the hell are you going to love somebody else?’ I feel like I need to get this tattooed on my face. Whenever I feel a bit rubbish I simply stick on a bit of Sissy That Walk and I’m ready to take on the world again.

I definitely haven’t got the world figured out yet and I never will do, but here’s to another year of trying.

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Tori x

By the way, if anyone is stuck for a birthday gift here is a selection of ideas:

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IT’S MY BIRTHDAY! – Sort of.

This morning, I was very surprised when I found out from Timehop that it’s been a whole entire year since I started writing my little blog. So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY WHAT’S THE STORI! 

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When I first started my blog back in 2016 I never expected to be the next Zoella or Megan Ellaby, it was simply a place for me to have a creative outlet, something that I had been craving for two years since leaving university.

Writing is something that I’ve always loved, even if it’s just scribbling a list down or using those 140 characters on Twitter, heck I even enjoyed writing my dissertation! My blog was a way that I could incorporate my passion for writing back into my life and in general a way of extending that limited Twitter character count.

I’ve mentioned Flipside Radio quite a lot in my blogs, rewind back to last year when they were advertising for a blogger and I thought to myself “What have I got to lose?” and sent them an email. From presenting I have met some really amazing people along the way, and I am so grateful to Dom from Soundsphere Magazine and Angela from We Are Chester for giving me the opportunity to do some writing for them!

I don’t know what the next year holds, but I reckon a re-branding is definitely due, although I really do love my feature picture of me attempting to look like a studious Theology student.

I haven’t hit a million followers (yet obviously…), but I am so so thankful for everyone who has taken the time to read my little ramblings over the past year, and tolerated my pollution on social media of sharing posts. You’re all fab.

Tori x

BEAUTY BLOG ATTEMPT #1: THE ESSENTIALS

When it comes to beauty products, I’m usually pretty clueless. I’m pretty sure you need an art degree to ‘contour’ and Mac is a computer, not something you apply to your face. The last time I attempted to buy new make-up I was like a lost sheep wandering around Boots, so I marched myself over the the No7 counter where the very helpful staff did a colour match for me.

Despite my poor make up attempts, there are a number of beauty products that I desperately find myself turning to. In my first ever ‘beauty blog’ attempt, here are some the products that I can’t live without:

1. BATISTE DRY SHAMPOO

Undoubtedly the most important product I’ve ever owned, Batiste Dry Shampoo is something that I overly rely on – a bit too much. Perfect for when my hair is at the very close ‘YOU SERIOUSLY NEED TO WASH ME NOW’ stage, dry shampoo will forever be my old faithful friend.

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2. BURBERRY LONDON

I’ve been wearing this perfume from the age of sixteen, and I am constantly praying that it never gets discontinued. It is so beautiful and it’s the one scent that when I wear people always ask me what fragrance it is. I usually purchase it in the airport, but I discovered a large bottle on allbeauty.com is only £28.95!

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3. HERBAL ESSENCES BEE STRONG INTENSIVE MASK/HELLO HYDRATION INTENSIVE MASK

Over the past few weeks the fear hit me that this had been discontinued, but thankfully I found it again thanks to the Boots website. It was recommended to me by my friend a few years ago, and it is definitely the best leave-in conditioner I’ve used. I usually leave it on for about 10 minutes and it leaves my hair looking and smelling amazing, without making it greasy. I tend to use it about once a week, and at less than a fiver it is a bargain! I also recently tried the Hello Hydration Intensive Mask and found it to be equally as good.

 

4. BOOTS EXTRACTS MANGO SUGAR SCRUB

I’ve tried a few body scrubs and this one is definitely my favourite. It exfoliates your skin and actually leaves it feeling beautifully soft. Not to mention the flavours are good enough to eat! The mango flavour is my own personal fave, but there are others such as coconut and vanilla available.

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5. VO5 GIVE ME TEXTURE ROUGH & SEXY SEA SALT SPRAY

Alongside dry shampoo this is definitely one hair product I cannot live without. My hair has naturally got a bit of a wave, and this spray is a perfect addition to make the waves set a bit more. I usually get the VO5 sea salt spray, another product from this range that I highly recommend is the VO5 Give Me Texture Dry Texturising Spray, which gives my hair that extra lift.

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6. MISS SPORTY PUMP UP LASH WATERPROOF LIQUID EYELINER

Undoubtedly one of life’s hardest tribulations: applying liquid eyeliner evenly. Despite the hardship of this task, I feel beyond naked without some cat eye on my lids. This liquid eyeliner was recommended to me by my friend a few years ago, and I’ve relied on it ever since. It has survived tears and long restaurant shifts, and at less than £3 a bottle I also can’t complain about the price!

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7. CHAPSTICK

Forever in my coat pocket, my strawberry ChapStick has kept my lips hydrated throughout all seasons of the year.

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8. SOAP & GLORY SKINCARE

I am a massive fan of all the Soap & Glory products, but I was so surprised at how good their face washes are. When I went back home to Ireland my mum had the Peaches and Clean Deep Cleansing Milk, and as soon as I was back in England I had to get some of my own. It leaves my skin feeling clean and fresh, and it smells incredible too.

9. WITCHSTICK NATURALLY CLEAR BLEMISH STICK

Whoever says you stop getting spots in your 20s is a downright liar. I am still victim to the occasional breakout, and the Witch Naturally Clear Blemish Stick is my lil’ rescue remedy. Simply dab on any temperamental areas on your face and it clears up spots without drying your skin out like other products can do.

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10. SUPERDRUG NATURALLY RADIANT BRIGHTENING EYE CREAM

My mum has proudly taught me the importance of cleansing and moisturising your skin from a young age. This advice includes using an eye cream, which I didn’t believe until I started to use the Superdrug Naturally Radiant Brightening Eye Cream, which is perfect for brightening my tired eyes in the morning. I can’t rave enough about the Superdrug own brands which offer other great skin products. My mum’s skin is flawless so I’m definitely taking her advice and religiously applying eye cream daily.

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These are just a few essential products which I swear by, I would love to hear some of your favourites and recommendations!

Tori x

ED SHEERAN: THE DIVIDE TOUR – THE NON-REVIEW

For the past three years my best friend Ste and I made a pact that we had to see Ed Sheeran live. I was beyond surprised when a few months ago I received a text that he had managed to purchase tickets, despite the amount of disappointed fans who had attempted to get their hands on them.

Looking back over the past number of months, it’s only May and 2017 has undoubtedly been the year of The Sheeran. His album tracks have dominated the top 40, and Divide has become the fastest-selling album by a male artist (shout out to Wikipedia for the fact).

Having heard positive reviews of Ed Sheeran live, and a decent album setlist I had high hopes for this concert and it certainly didn’t disappoint.

When the first supporting act arrived on stage I was pleasantly surprised to hear a familiar Northern Irish accent! Ryan McMullan, a singer-songwriter from County Down, undoubtedly lit up the stage with his beautiful acoustic style. I definitely recommend checking out his stuff on Spotify, I’ve currently got O’Susannah on repeat.

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Anyone who is familiar with Anne-Marie will recognise the catchy Ciao Adios, and of course Rockabye with Clean Bandit and Sean Paul. Hearing her was one of those moments when you hear someone sing live and you immediately go ‘Omg they’re actually amazing!’ Anne-Marie has got a bit of a reggae-pop vibe, but when she performed ‘Perfect,‘ a ballad track, you can see her versatile talent and range. I’m so excited to hear her full album now.

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Ed Sheeran does not need to be ‘reviewed.’ He’s so freakin’ talented I’m still trying to comprehend it. I didn’t really know what to expect from the concert in terms of a band or production, but it was far from him simply standing on stage strumming a guitar. He single-handedly managed to put on an incredible show, armed with his guitar and with his voice projecting throughout the arena. He managed to create an awesome atmosphere, and nothing gives me the feels more than hearing the fans singing their favourite songs back to the artist.

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Like any decent gig, you can’t forget about the encore. Ed reappeared on stage to the song that’s been engraved in my brain for the past few months, the catchy Shape of You. My highlight has to be the final song, You Need Me, I Don’t Need You, he had managed to keep up the momentum and energy on stage right until the very end where his rapping skills were showcased.

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It’s easy to see why 2017 has been the year of The Sheeran. The tracks on Divide are beautifully written, and if you’re lucky enough to see Ed live you’ll see just how talented he actually is.

It’s always a joy to spend some time with this crazy bunch, and what better way than a good gig?!

Tori x

Yo! Sushi Chester: New menu launch

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost been six years since I met my friend Liam at the start of university. Alongside our passion for English Literature, the strong foundation of our friendship is firmly grounded in our love of Yo! Sushi (especially Pumpkin Katsu).

Naturally when the opportunity arose for us to go try the new menu at the Yo! Sushi restaurant in Chester we were beyond excited.

Rule #1 of any successful event: Greet your guests with sparkling wine. Check.

We were warmly greeted at the door with a glass of prosecco and took our place in one of the booths. As we ate we were serenaded with some live music which was the perfect setting to try some delicious food.

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Something I love about Yo! Sushi is the ability to try new flavours and foods that you wouldn’t usually have the opportunity to. Is there anything better than having fabulous food paraded round in front of you to grab to eat?

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I’ll be really honest, it’s only within the past year or so that I’ve truly developed an appreciation for fish, especially salmon. Salmon and cream cheese bagel is one of my new firm favourite snacks, so I was delighted to find that Smoked Salmon & Cream Cheese had made its way onto the menu.

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Any of my friends will be able to tell you that fried chicken is undoubtedly one of the keys to my heart, and the new Chicken Karaage can definitely unlock it! The creamy mayo on the side was a perfect addition to the chicken.

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Chicken Katsu has always been one of my favourite Yo! Sushi dishes, so I was so excited to get the opportunity to try the new Beef Katsu. I could add the tonkatsu sauce to everything I eat, I absolutely adore it. Another beef dish that is new to the menu is the Seared Beef, with radish, cucumber and quick-pickled onion, wrapped in seared beef with some schichmi powder. I love the variety that comes with eating in Yo! Sushi, and these different styles of beef dishes are the perfect example.

Furikake Fries: Let’s face it, fries are the perfect side to accompany most meals, so it’s wonderful that Yo! Sushi have adapted the traditional side whilst putting their own Yo! spin on it. Coated in sriracha mayo and then sprinkled with yuzu furikake, sesame, aonori and smoky bonito flakes, these had just the right amount of spice on them! The hottest thing I can hack is a jalapeño pepper, so these were spicy enough for me to enjoy the flavour of too.

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Cod Nanbanzuke: Honestly, I was a bit dubious of this dish as I wasn’t too sure if I would like the taste of it. I’m extremely glad I went against my first instinct and tried it, as it was incredible. The sweet and sour flavours complimented each other perfectly, without being sickingly sweet the way usual sweet and sour chicken can be.

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Osaka Style Squid: My past experience with squid has just been calamari which I love, so I couldn’t wait to taste this new dish. The spicy pepper squid had a slight kick, again like the Furikake Fries, it was slightly spicy without being too overpowering.

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Other wonderful new menu items:

Not actually from the new menu, but I just HAD to give it a mention, is the Malt Chocolate Pot. The following day in work I was still fantasising about it.

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Thanks so much to the lovely staff at Yo! Sushi, who were so welcoming and helpful when recommending their favourite of the new dishes. As you can see from the aftermath, we really enjoyed it!

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Also a big thank you for this goodie bag, I will be adding the sauces to EVERYTHING!

 

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What are some of your favourite Yo! Sushi dishes?

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Tori x

 

 

You can try the new menu at Yo! Sushi Chester from 25 April.

The Rankin Selection: A Taste From Home

In 2011 I moved away from Northern Ireland to study at the University of Chester. Over the past few years whilst living in England, I am constantly craving food from back home. You can imagine my excitement when on St. Patrick’s Day (how fitting!) I received some goodies from the lovely folk at Rankin Selection.

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Any student can agree that a fry is a necessary essential after a night out. Despite not being a student anymore, an Ulster Fry was definitely on the cards after St. Paddy’s weekend! When I came home from work on the Saturday, my other half had already helped himself to the ingredients in the food package, so he was definitely doing the cooking on Sunday morning!

Rankin Selection had kindly included the following simple recipe which had some great tips and advice for creating the perfect Ulster Fry:

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Coming from a farming background, my dad has religiously taught me to support local produce, so it was such a treat to receive sausages from back home! I chose to cook the sausages on the grill with some bacon, and they were absolutely amazing, and had the most incredible flavour.

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of fried eggs, so I always opt for scrambled when having a fry. The breads from the Rankin Selection were a perfect combination with all the ingredients. It’s been too long since I had Irish potato slims and soda bread, it was the best breakfast I’ve had in a long time!

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I was also spoilt with a variety of breads from the Rankin Selection. Bread and cakes are undoubtedly the key to my heart, so it was such a fabulous treat to receive these! It was so good to have a different variety of breads to try from, rather than the boring brown bread which I occasionally have for my sandwiches at lunch!

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I haven’t eaten brown soda bread in years, and after trying these I will definitely be incorporating it back into my diet. I just simply toasted the bread and added a bit of butter, but you could add some toppings such as tomato (something my dad does!) if you wish. I usually find brown bread quite dry, but this was far from your usual cardboard-like wheaten bread, I nearly scoffed the whole loaf in one go it was that good!

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In my selection there were also a number of fruit breads, which when toasted made my kitchen smell glorious! I definitely recommend toasting these breads, as they are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee in the morning.

Barmbrack always reminds me of Halloween, remember being small and trying to find a ring in the loaf? This sweet bread took me back to my childhood.

The Irish Fruit Loaf was slightly lighter than the barmbrack, but equally as good! Again slightly toasted with some butter was perfection.

My favourite from the collection was the Irish Cinnamon and Raisin Teacake. I add cinnamon to nearly everything as it is one of my favourite flavours, and after being toasted my kitchen smelt heavenly. I treated myself to this with a coffee for breakfast and it set me up for the morning. I’ve got such a bad habit of snacking between breakfast and lunch, but these teacakes kept me going until lunchtime.

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When I visited my local Morrisons this week I was very happy to discover that some of the breads from the Rankin Selection were available to purchase here too, so in England I can get my fix of food from home!

For a girl in dire need of some traditional home food, the Rankin Selection definitely ticked all the boxes. Thanks so much to the team for all these delicious treats! If you’re in dire need of a decent fry, or just something to go along with your cuppa, these are undeniably your go-to!

Tori x

Find out more about the Rankin Selection here: www.rankinselection.com

You can also follow them on Twitter: @RankinSelection

Over seas from coast to coast, to find the place I love the most

As I sit and write this I can’t help but think how much I wish it was this time last year. I had just been to see The 1975 and myself and my two best friends were living it up in Dublin.

In honour of St Patrick’s Day, I’m dedicating this post to my favourite place in the world, Dublin. Here are some of my favourite things to do and see in the city:

Temple Bar

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With plenty of live music and bars, what isn’t to love? The perfect place for a pub crawl, there’s always a great vibe in this part of the city, and is certainly never quiet.


Tourist Spots

The first thing that automatically springs to my mind is the Guinness Storehouse. Last year we went on St Patrick’s Eve and got to experience some Irish dancing, which as you can see from our faces we seriously enjoyed.

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Here you can learn to pull the perfect pint of Guinness like a pro as well as learning the history that goes along with the famous drink. I definitely recommend getting on the hop on and hop off tour buses to get here, as not only are they cheaper than a taxi, you’ll get a guided tour of the city too.

 

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Last year was my first visit ever to the National Leprechaun Museum, here you learn about various Irish folklore tales, as well as getting to sit on some massive furniture. It is mega fun.

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If you’re feeling especially cultured, The National Gallery of Ireland has free admission, and has some wonderful pieces to look at.

History
Like any major city there is no abundance of history in Dublin. If you decide to take one of the open top tour buses you will learn loads about different buildings and historic figures in the city. You can also visit the jail, Kilmainham Gaol, where you can have a tour of the building whilst learning about its origins and inhabitants.

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There’s also Trinity College Dublin, home to some beautiful grounds and buildings, and of course there’s the famous Book of Kells which you can visit.

FOOD

Undoubtedly the most important part of the trip, food and drink. One of my most favourite things to do when in the city is grab a Butler’s hot chocolate (which is undeniably the nicest thing I’ve ever tasted) and go for a walk around St Stephen’s Green which is located opposite the coffee and chocolate shop.

For something a bit continental, there is the French café Le Petit Parisien on Wicklow Street. They sell incredible cakes and breakfasts, I especially adore the macaroons!

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If you’re after a decent burger and chips then Captain America’s on Grafton Street is definitely the place to go. I also enjoy eyeing up all the different items celebrities have signed on the wall.

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How to get here
RyanAir tend to have really good and extremely cheap deals on for flights, if you’re only going for a weekend if you just take hand luggage there will be no need to pay for a large suitcase. When you get to Dublin Airport there’s Aircoach, which has several drop off points in the city centre. It’s cheaper than a taxi too!

Where to stay
If you go to sites such as lastminute.com and booking.com you can get some brilliant offers. Just beware that you don’t get too enticed by the cheap price and end up miles out of the city, as you’ll make up for the price in taxis. Grafton Capital and O’Callaghan Davenport Hotel are in great locations and are walkable distances to Grafton Street and O’Connell Street.

As soon as I become a millionaire I am 100% moving to Dublin. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting for St Paddy’s you’ll be able to see the massive parades and enjoying the fabulous celebrations in the city, but pre-warning it is MEGA BUSY!

I hope you have a wonderful St Paddy’s wherever you’re celebrating in the world.

 

Tori x

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