My Hen Weekend – Brompton Lakes

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Anybody who knows me will know that I’m not really one for big nights out and drinking until the early hours.  When it comes to going out I’m more of a nice meal and a few tasty cocktails kind of girl.   So when it came to planning my hen do I wanted to go with something low key. Somewhere my friends and I could relax and unwind while having a good old catch up over a few chilled glasses of Prosecco.

After a recommendation from a friend I decided to book us a couple of lodges at Brompton Lakes in Richmond, North Yorkshire.  It wasn’t too far to travel, and the pictures on the website looked tranquil and stylish.  One of the lodges also had a hot tub, perfect for a relaxing, girly weekend!

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When we arrived at Brompton Lakes we made our way to the ‘Jules’ lodge which would be our base for the weekend.  This is one of two hot tub lodges on the site, and sleeps up to six people.  We were all so impressed by the way the lodge was presented, it was finished to a very high standard which beautiful interiors and all the amenities you could want.  Each lodge has its own individual style, so it’s difficult to choose which one to stay in as they are all so beautiful.

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As there were twelve of us, we also hired out the ‘Florence’ lodge just next door.  This is a lakeside lodge with a decking area overlooking the water.  Both lodges boasted beautiful open-plan living, dining and kitchen areas, perfect for socialising with a large group.

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Friday night was spent eating yummy food, drinking Prosecco cocktails in the hot tub and catching up with my girls.  I created a Prosecco and sweetie table which seemed to be a hit with the group.  This included my favourite macarons from Le Mini Macaron (check out their amazing range of flavours) and delicious cake pops from Cocoa Cabana.

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Before we knew it it was 1am (we had a lot to talk about, obviously), so we called it a night as we had an early start the next day.

Saturday morning came and we all had a lovely breakfast together to set us up for the day ahead before getting ready for shopping and afternoon tea.  At 10am the minibus arrived to pick us up and take us into Harrogate.  When we arrived we had a couple of hours to kill before we went for food, so naturally we opted for retail therapy.  I absolutely love the shops in Harrogate, and ended up treating myself to some Jo Malone perfumes and a beautiful yellow coat from Jules.

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I had originally planned to book afternoon tea at Betty’s, however it was fully booked that day and so we instead headed to Hotel Du Vin.  We were shown to a stunning private dining room all set up ready for us.  All we had to do was choose which tea we would like to accompany our food (not easy as there were so many great ones to choose from).  I was expecting your usual afternoon tea with a few finger sandwiches, scones and sweet treats on a cake stand but what we got was far better.  For only £20 a head we were presented with two large platters of savoury nibbles, including salmon and cream cheese bagels, cheese and ham croissants and savoury tarts.  This was followed by a fantastic dessert platter, complete with candy floss on sticks (a real show stopper) and freshly baked mini scones with jam and clotted cream! They even brought out gin and tonic flavoured sorbet as a palate cleanser, which was a huge hit with the gin fans in the group.   I have to admit this was by far the nicest and most interesting afternoon tea I have ever had, and for the price we couldn’t have asked for more!  There was so much food we even had to get them to box some of it up for us so we could take it back to the lodge with us!!  It was too nice to waste.

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After recovering from all the food, we all met up again at the lodge on Saturday evening for more cocktails and some hen party games, organised by my sister.  We started off with pin the bouquet on the bride, followed by a Mr & Mrs style quiz (luckily I got most of the questions right), a ‘who said that’ quiz and, of course, a loo roll wedding dress competition!  I was modelling one of the dresses and we had so much fun as the girls dressed me up in a toilet paper train and veil!  We had such a good night that again, we totally lost track of time and before we knew it we were into the early hours!!

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Unfortunately on Sunday morning we had to pack up, say goodbye to our lodges and hand the keys back to the lovely staff at reception.  We were all very sad to leave!

I couldn’t have asked for a better hen weekend, we had so many giggles that I won’t forget.  We couldn’t have picked a better location for it and we have all agreed we need to book Brompton Lakes again for our next girly getaway!

When The Alchemist Came To Fat Hippo

Sian Colman

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I’m not going to lie, when I heard that the Alchemist were doing a take over of Fat Hippo, I felt a jolt of excitement run through me. I’ve made it my mini(ish) mission to make my way around the many restaurants of Newcastle and I’m eagerly anticipating the arrival of the The Alchemist later this month so I couldn’t give this a miss!  I booked a table straight up for myself, my boyfriend James and my brother Connor.

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Everyone I know who has been to Fat Hippo is a huge fan, whether it be my personal favourite, Underground – just off Grey Street , Jesmond or Durham, its reputation is well deserved. You can’t go wrong with a juicy 8oz patty, brioche bun and tonnes of cheese. There are some fabulous burger places in Newcastle but not many stand alongside Fat Hippo. The Alchemist on the other hand, at least up here in our neck of the woods, is largely unheard of. That was until they announced that they are to open a bar within the Greys Quarter of Eldon Square. With a tantalising selection of cocktails and snacks on offer, news of The Alchemist’s arrival is a big talking points with local restaurant goers. For one night only, they took over Fat Hippo Underground on Shakespeare Street. I was so excited! I tried to eat as little I could beforehand so I could go all out!

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Unfortunately we couldn’t get a table till 8.45pm – a little later than I normally like to eat if I’m honest. I was also a little dubious as it was a school night, however, that changed pretty quickly after a drink at The Lady Grey, our meeting point for the evening. Connor was naturally late but that didn’t dull my mood, it’s not like I’d talked about my evening all day at work or anything. The place was totally packed out. As we reached the bottom of the stairs – the cocktail preparation was all go. I was curious, I’d already seen the menu for this special event, and I knew there would be cocktails but I didn’t know what to expect, but it looked fun. We were taken to a table in the heart of the atmosphere and shown our menu for this evening.

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First up – Drinks –I’d been anticipating what could be on tonight’s menu. There was a choice of 3 cocktails: two alcoholic and one non- alcoholic. Looking around the room, I seemed to make the same choice as lot of people. I started off with a ‘Bubble Bath’ – Tanquery gin, Aperol, Chambord, lemon, apple and fairly liquid (which may be code for dry ice). Our server brought over a glass with dry ice in the bottom and a conical flask of liquid. She asked if she should pour it or if we’d like to do it ourselves. I couldn’t resist. It was magical! As soon as the liquid hit the ice, bubbles erupted from the glass, smoke started pouring out and the fun began. This was amazing, a drink filled with so much fun, and gin, lets not forget that. I was in my element! I think my glass had a bigger piece of dry ice in it, it bubbled on and on for ages! I’d already pre-picked my choice for food this evening. Id talked about it from the time we booked the table, and I have mentioned it once or twice during my day at work. I, like most, had my eye on this evening’s special – ‘Deer Old Fashioned’ – Double 4oz patty, smoked cheddar, braised venison, maple candied bacon, truffle mayo and old fashioned onion strings soaked in whiskey and milk, served with hand cut chips. I ordered mine without onions – yes I’m one of those, it’s pretty hard not liking onions. James and Connor followed suit – with onions. There was only one choice for all of us this evening. As much as I love the normal menu, I couldn’t pass up giving this a try. The burgers arrive and they looked sensational. Venison was oozing out the sides. My approach to taking on such a feat was to cut it straight down the middle, I can only handle so much as a time.

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It was delicious, the patty was pink, their signature. The truffle mayo definitely had truffle in it, it was pretty strong and there was plenty of it, I wasn’t complaining! The bacon had sweetness to it from the maple. I love cheese; the smokiness of this one though added a different element to it. It all went together so well. I went in with high hopes and they were satisfied completely. I could quite happily have eaten that all night – unfortunately I just couldn’t manage it all! James and Connor did extremely well and helped me finish mine. Part of me is sad that next time I visit it won’t be on the menu – but I hope The alchemist brings something similar to their own establishment! Before we wrapped it all up, sitting in the delight of our food coma’s I couldn’t help myself and ordered myself the other alcoholic cocktail on choice, the ‘Smokey Old Fashioned’ – Woodford Reserve Whiskey, Maple syrup, Dilution, Jerry Thomas Bitters, Smoke. Our waitress brought over a whisky glass filled with a round ice cube, which was very cool in itself. It was accompanied by another conical flask, filled with liquid and then wonderfully filled with smoke using a smoking gun. The smell was incredible, not too overpowering, earthy but had sweet notes. I poured the liquid onto the ice and the smoke followed. What a show it was, it tasted delicious, smooth and delicate but rich in flavour. I’m not the biggest whisky fan but I could have drank that all night. From what I’ve seen tonight, I’m sure this is just the tip of the iceberg of what’s to come from The Alchemist. It was exciting and innovative. Fresh with new ideas and exciting flavours. I, like a lot of others, am excited with what’s to come following its opening on 21st March.