Monday, 23 September 2013

Top 5 Quirky Nottingham Pubs

Nottingham has apparently got the highest number of pubs in the UK per square foot... or something like that, I can never quite remember. Anyway what I do know is that it has some very interesting drinking holes, so I thought I'd list a few favourites for anyone thinking of visiting.

1. The one with the caves aka The Hand & Heart (above)
There are several 'cave pubs' in Nottingham, (it is after all known as the City of Caves) including Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (mentioned below), and the Malt Cross which is also soon to open its cave basement up for gigs. But the Hand & Heart is my favourite of the bunch. It's so cosy in winter, with fairy lights and candles and a lovely selection of ales on offer. And they do a good Sunday roast to boot.

2. The one that's really really old aka Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem
Located at the foot of Nottingham Castle, most visitors to the city stop off for a drink at Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, supposedly England's oldest inn. It dates back to 1189 AD and houses a few other quirks including the Haunted Galleon - a ship in a bottle that is supposed to bring about a curse to anyone who cleans it (it's very dusty indeed) and the rather scary Pregnancy Chair.

3. The one with the canal boat running through it aka The Canalhouse
The Canalhouse is located... yes right next to the canal, with a boat running through the middle. Although you can't have a drink on board the boat, the pub does lots of good Castle Rock beer and nice food to boot.

4. The one in the Boiler Shop aka The Boilermaker
A rather new pub to add to the list, and one I only just discovered. If you stroll down into Hockley you may not look twice at the half empty boiler shop, let alone think to wander in for a cocktail. But behind the boring-looking facade lies a secret pub which seems to be gaining popularity through word of mouth. There are lots of exciting sounding cocktails on offer, through the price is slightly steep at £7 a drink.

5. The one with the Scalextric track aka The Dragon
The Dragon is located just off Market Square, and is easy to miss (I have been known to walk past a few times without realising). What many may not know is that in the back garden lurks a shed containing one heck of a Scalextric track called The Racing Room, which can be hired out for birthdays and fun times!

Friday, 20 September 2013

Film Friday: Breakfast at Tiffany's

Lately things have been so busy I've been craving comfort films - so thought it was time for a Breakfast at Tiffany's rewatch. Although the book is far better than the film, Audrey strumming along to Moon River is always wonderful to watch. Just ignore the slightly offensive portrayal of Mr Yunioshi and you've got yourself a perfect rainy day film.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Memories of the Future

Memories of the Future is a series of creative events happening in Nottingham this autumn, including zine making workshops, pinhole photography classes, live music, films and lots more! I asked organiser Kirsty Fox to explain where the idea came from and what they have in store...


Autumn in Nottingham is going to be an exciting time, with our first big comic-con Nerdfest, The Great Notts Show, plus the usual joys of the beer festival & Game City. This year will also bring a multi-media pop-up event called Memories of the Future. Running on the theme of ‘analogue meets digital’, it will be based in The Corner, Hockley, from 8th-12th October.

It's the flagship project for our social enterprise, Bees Make Honey Creative Community. It started life as a temporary shop & exhibition space. We will also be running a series of workshops, talks and live performances both on site & at sister venues. It keeps developing new bits & pieces so I’m starting to think of it as a small arts festival.

We’re concentrating on the four specialisms of music, moving image, photography and the written word. They all have a rich tradition in both how they’re made & how they turn out – from beautiful old film & photography cameras, to offset printing, to vinyl production. Yet these creative industries are facing rapid changes as we move into the digital age. As part of the DIY creative community, we’re really interested in the relationship between the two. Rather than one trumping the other, we’d like to explore how we can use both.

My co-organisers are Dan Layton & Phil Formby. Dan has a background in Graphic Design, as well as being involved with Nottingham’s independent music scene (formerly in the band Souvaris & currently in LVIV, as well as doing solo projects under the name Apalusa), while Phil is a photographer & filmmaker. My background is in writing, DIY publishing & visual arts, so I feel the three of us have brought a good balance of ideas & influences to Memories of the Future, while also hopefully building a bit of a collective vision.

We want to capture the public imagination a bit when it comes to independently produced creative work. There are many small book publishers, music labels and film and photography collectives doing great things in Nottingham & the Midlands, yet many people are unaware of them. Aside from nooks & crannies of the internet there aren't enough opportunities for people to discover all this great stuff, so we wanted to create a bit of a showcase & get a buzz going about the local scene.

The idea for the whole thing came from wanting to an event which brought different specialisms together with a common ground. The analogue meets digital theme just feels very timely – it’s a bit of a zeitgeist for me.

Thanks Kirsty! More details of all the events can be found on the website.


Friday, 13 September 2013

Film Friday: Inside the Harry Potter Studio

Another part of Mick's birthday weekend was a trip to the Warner Brothers Studios to visit the world of Harry Potter. Disclaimer: I've never actually watched a full HP film, or read any of the books. Ahem. But, despite this the tour was still really eye opening and fun!

The studio contains all the real sets, costumes and props used in the films, and the level of detail put into them was quite amazing. It was great to have a behind the scenes glimpse at how everything was created.. I really need to watch the films now. My only word of warning if you visit: don't try the butterbeer!


Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Our own 'Great British Bake Off'

This week Tom's sister turns 30 (happy birthday Mick!) and to celebrate Tom's mum organised a fun packed weekend for us all! Claire, the Food Technology teacher at the school she works for in Cambridgeshire also teaches group cookery classes, so we were treated to a 6 course menu how-to. I'll share a couple of the super simple recipes below, including an ice cream with only three ingredients that we'll definitely be making again.

First up - bread! Tom and I have really struggled to make the perfect loaf before. I'm not sure if we over-kneaded or didn't allow it to rise enough but we always ended up with a rock solid loaf. At the cookery demo, Claire made it look so quick and easy! For this she used real yeast (we've always used dried) and didn't seem to knead for all that long. The result was delicious light, fluffy rolls. Yum!

Tom making bread rolls & me stirring the risotto... and stirring..

The full list of food we made: ice cream (recipe below), bread rolls, smoked salmon pate (recipe below), mushroom risotto, red thai curry, sweet potato roulade, Delia's melted choc puddings (these were really delicious), lemon possets. After learning the recipes we got to taste them all - needless to say we were all very full by the end of the afternoon! 

Left: sweet potato roulade

The finished mushroom risotto

Here are a couple of really quick recipes that we made on the day. Both use a food processor, which made me realise I really need to buy one as they make things so much quicker.

200g double cream
5g vanilla extract (optional)
500g frozen berries of your choice (note you must use frozen not fresh)
100g icing sugar

1. Whiz fruit and icing sugar in a food processor for 30 seconds
2. Add cream & vanilla, whiz again for 30 seconds
3. DONE!  Eat and enjoy or stick in the freezer for later.

As well as this we also learnt how to make a really quick pate (that i forgot to photograph too, oops!) This  makes a lovely starter with fresh bread to dip into it.

200g packet of smoked salmon (alternatively you can use peppered mackerel)
200g soft cheese
1 tbsp horseradish
1 lemon juiced & zested 
Black pepper

1. Flake the salmon into pieces and place in a food processor with the soft cheese, horseradish sauce & lemon juice. Blend into a smooth paste. Season with plenty of black pepper.
2. DONE! Serve with toasted or fresh bread.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Checking in at Red Hot World Buffet

Reading Bee's food reviews (which never fail to make me hungry!) inspired me to write one of my own, about the new Red Hot World Buffet restaurant that recently opened here in Nottingham. Red Hot Buffet used to be situated in Hockley, but has reopened in a bigger premises in the Cornerhouse, so we decided to try it out recently with a couple of friends who were visiting from London.

I have to admit the decor was part of the attraction. At the entrance, the reception is decked out like an airport, you check in and head downstairs to an IMMENSE space with a 'round the world' buffet, which includes food from Thailand, India, Mexico, China and Italy. The dining rooms are all named after different countries and as you can see from the pics, the surroundings are suitably over the top!

But what about the food? Well, the old Red Hot was nothing much to shout about, but seems to have improved lots with the move. With fresh sushi available, as well as the chance to pick out a fresh pasta dish for the chefs to sizzle up before your eyes, the choice is at first quite overwhelming! The dessert choice was also pretty vast, though we felt dessert didn't quite live up to the mains. I'd definitely recommend a trip to the world buffet, it was quite an experience and the food was a lot better than we expected! They also do some good cocktails to boot (which ended up costing us almost as much as the food, oops!)  Apparently there are other Red Hots across the country in places such as Leeds, Manchester & Cardiff, I wonder if they look the same?!

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