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Foodie things Hull Bloggers Product Review Uncategorized

The Tea Shop X Trinity Market*

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love tea. Any type is fine with me: green, breakfast, black, white, green…I’ll give anything a go. So when I was asked if I’d like to sample some of the delights courtesy of The Tea Shop X Trinity Market, I jumped at the chance.

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Though I’m not actually a Hullian, I like to think of myself as an honorary Hullian since I lived there during my university years. Hull will always have a special place in my heart, and supporting small Hull businesses is something I will always be more than happy to do.

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I only discovered Hull’s Trinity Market in my final year of undergraduate study, and i was surprised how full it was of curiosities, antiques and interesting bric a brac. There’s also some fabulous food and drink kiosks, selling handmade, locally sourced produce made with love and passion. You can’t really beat that, can you?! I remember venturing into The Tea Shop briefly when my parents visited, but my student budget didn’t allow for much splurging and I had to make do with own-brand breakfast tea for a while. Well, fortunately enough for me, I’ve now had the chance to sample some delicious blends and they most certainly didn’t disappoint.

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The tea blends are: Elderflower and Green Tea, Honeybush Chocolate Cake and Blood Orange. Sound good, don’t they?!

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I got out my finest tea pot, and started brewing.

The Elderflower Green Tea is gorgeously floral and sweet, with a slight fruity aroma that couples well with the crisp, slightly bitter green tea. If you’re not the biggest fan of elderflower, I’d still give this a go. It’s a really great pairing.

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Honeybush Chocolate Cake is a wonderfully-unusual sounding tea, that includes chocolate chips, cream-caramel pieces and rosebuds. It smells exactly as you’d think: a deliciously chocolatey, sweet blend, with a floral note to finish. Another fabulous brew that is something a little bit special.

The final tea is a Blood Orange tisane, with lots of pieces of dried, sweet fruit. It contains apple, hibiscus, rosehip, orange, lemon and natural flavourings. I’m a really big fan of tisanes as a pre-bedtime beverage, and the fruity flavours – and gorgeous colour – is such a wonderful combination.

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As Hull is the City of Culture this year, The Tea Shop is also stocking some exclusively-designed, Hull-themed Moorland pottery mugs, alongside a selection of other Hull-themed goodies. Make sure you pop in when you’re on your travels. They have a Facebook page , website and an instagram account as @theteashophull . Why not check out Trinity Market’s insta, too? Find them at: @TrinityMarketHull .

I’m heading back to Hull for my MRes graduation (eek!) next week…I think I need to pay The Tea Shop a little visit!

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Thanks so much to The Tea Shop X Trinity Market for providing some truly delicious blends. I’ll be back!

Heather x

Categories
General health and well-being Informative posts Studying at University with Disabilities Things Cerebral Palsy and Scheuermann's Related

Realisations

I feel like I’ve been having a mid-life crisis.

No, really.

I thought I’d had my life and career all mapped out: I’m graduating with my MRes (with distinction!) in July; going on to do my English PGCE in September, then I’ll teach. Sorted, right?

Wrong.

I’m not ashamed to say that I’ve well-and-truly changed my mind, at least for now. I’m not really sure if this was a gradual process, or a sudden ‘light-bulb’ moment, but I just know teaching is not the right thing for me at this time. Doesn’t mean it’ll never be. It’s just, right now, not what I want to be doing.

I’d be lying if I said my disabilities didn’t have an impact on this decision, because they absolutely, almost certainly did. I’ve had the unique experience of actually being able to teach before embarking upon teacher training; I have my own classes, mark registers, prepare resources and do all of the other usual ‘teachery’ things that teachers do (except marking…thank goodness). And this unique insight has perhaps shown me that though I may think I’m invincible, and though I do not like to admit that my cerebral palsy can cause issues, it’s a struggle. And, being truly honest with myself, I just think I’m not cut out for the teacher training, with all the rigmarole of planning and marking and studying simultaneously.

There. I said it. I’m not cut out for it at the moment.

know I’m a good teacher. I’ve had several observations from line managers that have been great. And I love teaching. It’s hugely rewarding seeing that ‘light bulb’ flick on; it’s intensely gratifying watching a student mould, change and develop into themselves. It’s a pleasure to watch their confidence increase; to share their successes, and to pick them up when they need a boost. But it’s also hard. Teaching is – in my experience – either really good, or really, really bad. There’s nothing more frustrating that children refusing to listen, or making fun of your lesson that you’ve spent hours planning. There’s been no in between. And at this stage of my life – where I’m eager to establish myself, and settle down – I just need to focus on what it is I really want to do right now.

I feel strangely liberated by this. I thought I’d be bricking it: I am a person who thrives on routine, after all. But it’s finally time for me to really think about what I want to do, and to go out there and do it. And, most importantly, I need to make sure I look after myself.

Sometimes it’s okay to not know what you’re doing right now. Sometimes it’s okay to have a realisation, and to act upon it. I am taking this time for me, and for my body, and for my mental health. I know there will be bumps along the way, but I am excited to see what happens.

 

Categories
disabilities General health and well-being Informative posts Things Cerebral Palsy and Scheuermann's Related

Physios, pain and patience

Well hello, you. I know, I know. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?! I’d say I have a perfectly reasonable excuse, but all I can really say is that old little thing called ‘life’ got in the way. 
I know. Lame excuse. 
Anyhow, just thought I’d let you know about my most recent visit to the hospital. This is following on from my   MSK clinic post, which addressed plans for pain management. I was pretty disappointed;  my beloved acupuncture isn’t on offer where I am now,  and so we decided on a physio/mental health plan.

The appointment finally came around. Though my physio was super lovely, I just felt…well…really underwhelmed. To address the pain the approach seems to encompass a plan for exercise and keeping a record of how this affects pain and/or fatigue, but I am already really mobile considering. I walk a hell of a lot (that’s what not driving does for you), go swimming and gymming when possible,  and at least once a week, and keep active even on my ‘rest days’ as my boyfriend would tell you. I literally do not stop. I am always on the go. And whilst I know some people with pain and musculoskeletal conditions can’t be as active as I am, it just seemed to be an assumption that I don’t do anything,  and so need to increase my activity levels. I was given a few exercises to try and have given things a go, but all in all I just don’t feel like it’s been very helpful. I still have pain even after trying these things,  I still could sleep for days, and I’m still fed up of being told thay exercise is the cure-all even though I do exercise, and lo and behold, I still have cerebral palsy and severe kyphosis.

Sigh.

I am really grateful I got an appointment, and know I am privileged to do so. But I just can’t help thinking this approach is missing the point entirely. Maybe I’m still bitter about not having the acupuncture,  but I just don’t feel this is pain management.  Right now I miss Hull more than ever. 
So, that’s my little ranty update for you. I have a follow up appointment and will mention my concerns. As always, I’ll keep you updated. It’s been quiet on here I know, but thanks for sticking with me whilst I find my feet. I should be back to posting weekly very, very soon
Right, better get back to doing the washing…

Heather x

Categories
Foodie things Product Review Recipes

Banishing the weekday blues with Primula*: fully-loaded potatoes

It has been seriously dull and rainy recently. I’m currently looking outside and everything just looks so grey. Raindrops are trickling down the windows,the trees are dancing about in the wind, and I’m still too cold to leave the heating off.

It was pretty much the same yesterday, so I decided to inject a bit of colour and deliciousness into my day with Primula Light. If you’ve read any of my other recipe posts, you’ll know I’m a sucker for Primula. I mean it’s just so easy to add a creamy, cheesy kick to meals and snacks without having to spend ages grating blocks of cheese. And believe me, my grating skills are almost non-existent (thanks, hemi!). So to kick start this drizzly year, I was asked if I fancied trying to incorporate Primula Light into my meals, and yesterday was the perfect day to showcase one of my favourite, easy lunches.

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Bright, colourful, and delicious enough to blow the cobwebs away: my Mexican-style bean salsa stuffed sweet potatoes. Yes, it’s a mouthful; but one you’ll be oh-so happy about.

You will need:

A tube of Primula Light cheese

Four large baking potatoes or sweet potatoes (I used a fancy purple one to make my meal even brighter)

A tin of your favourite beans (I used black beans, but kidney beans or cannellini beans would also be yummy)

A tin of sweetcorn

A punnet of small tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used baby plum here)

One red onion, chopped

One lime, squeezed

One mild chilli, chopped

Handful of shredded mint leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Paprika to sprinkle

Method:

1. Cook the potatoes. I cheated slightly here: I pricked each with a fork, and cooked them on high in a microwave for ten mins to give them a head start. I then popped them into a preheated over at 190 degrees until their skins were crisp and their insides fluffy. Be sure to lightly oil some foil before placing them on top: sweet potatoes in particular have a habit of caramelising and completely  sticking to baking trays!

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Just look at the colour of this! No filter needed…

2. Whilst my potatoes were cooking, I  mixed together the drained beans, drained sweetcorn, chopped tomato and onions and shredded mint. I then squeezed over the juice of one lime, added the chilli and stirred. Then just season to taste and set aside.

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A delicious mix of ingredients that are nutritious and tasty. This would be great stirred into couscous, or on a salad

3. Next, you’ll want to prepare your potatoes. When cool enough to touch, cut you potatoes in half and fluff up the insides with a fork in order to leave enough space for the salsa filling.

4. Stuff as much filling into each potato as possible (you’ll want to: it’s yummy!). When stuffed, place back into the oven until the filling is cooked through.

5. Finally, drizzle some Primula Light cheese over each stuffed potato, and sprinkle that with paprika. Serve as it is for a lunch, or with a lightly dressed salad for something more substantial.

Just perfect: gooey, oozing with flavour, and deliciously bright. What’s not to love?

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That’s it! It’s really that easy to create something delicious, satisfying and nutritious for a weekday lunch or dinner. I’m going to make several of these to take into work for lunch, as I know they’ll keep me fuelled for the day. What do you think? Do you fancy giving this easy recipe a go?

Hope your week is off to a flying start; look after yourself, whatever you’re doing.

Heather x

 

 

Categories
Anxiety Depression disabilities General health and well-being Mental Health Problems Mental Illness OCD

Happiness is…

…snuggling up in front of the fire, guinea pigs splashing around in a bubble bath, hot steamy showers, the wave of pain relief washing over me, making plans and chasing dreams, wrapping up in a toasty blanket, rain running down the window pane, sleepy smiles, cloudy winter mornings 

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Foodie things Hull Bloggers Product Review

A taste of the Gin Explorer Box*

I have no secrets when it comes to gin. 

It is my favourite.

I will drink it in a cocktail, with a cold, crisp tonic, or – if the occasion calls for it – neat, perhaps over ice.

The front of a greetings card with a guinea pig saying 'hic' as if drunk peering over the top of a glass. Next to that the text reads 'who's a ginny pig?'
Gin and guinea pigs? A match made in heaven

Gin has been for so long the butt of everyone’s joke, where retorts of ‘mother’s ruin’ echoed over the bar, and where it’s only drinkers in my world were ex-boyfriends’ mums. But, you’ll be glad to know that this is no longer the case.

Gin has become one of those fancy drinks you don’t mind ordering at the bar; it’s simple when served with tonic, but oh-so sophisticated, and craft gins made with care and attention are at the forefront of the gin-drinking world. This is where the Gin Explorer Box comes in; a monthly box crammed with gin samplers, accompanying tonic or other mixers, and a little snack to bring it all together.

Craft gin to your door? What more could you wish for!?

The opened box with shredded yellow paper, bright blue tissue paper, and a box with the front cut out displaying four tiny bottles of gin. A tub of corn kernels sits in front, with a bottle of cucumber-infused gin to the right of that.
A beautifully packaged box including gin-flavoured sweets

The four gins I received arrived in a gorgeously packaged box, complete with a booklet describing each gin and the flavour notes associated with it. These gins included Leeds Gin, Nelsons Rhubarb and Custard gin, Thompson’s Grape gin and Hernö gin, alongside two bottles of cucumber-infused sparkling water, and a spanish snack of salted giant corn kernels. I also received a sample of Bath gin to keep me sweet whilst I waited (im)patiently for the box itself.

A box with another box containing gin samples, the Bath gin bottle the main focus of the picture and a bottle of cucumber infused water to the right of it.
Including the little bottle of Bath gin I had five gins to test (no complaints, there!)

This was such a treat for me, and I particularly enjoyed the Nelsons Rhubarb and Custard flavour: light pink so not off-putting, with a rich fruity flavour and a hint of vanilla sweetness to bring the gin to life. I also very much enjoyed the other gins with the Qcumber water, over ice and with a slice of lemon. It made the perfect festive tipple, but I can only imagine just how wonderful this pairing would be during the height of summer or on a balmy evening. Divine!

I absolutely loved this box, and love that you can purchase a full-sized bottle with a slight discount to tide you over whilst waiting for the next box. It was such a perfect raffle prize for me, so thank you to Gin Explorer for being part of the Blogger’s Halloween Party! 

Why not treat the gin lover in your life? If they’re anything like me, they’ll love you forever!

If only it were acceptable to sip a g&t right now…

Heather x

Categories
awareness disabilities Mental Health Problems Mental Illness My Life The Spoon Theory Things Cerebral Palsy and Scheuermann's Related Uncategorized

Disappointments, Direction and Decisions: Visiting the Musculoskeletal Clinic

Yesterday felt like a big, anxiety-inducing, sad-making day.

I woke up early knowing I had to attend my MSK Clinic appointment with butterflies in my tummy and a raspy dry throat. Perhaps it seems a little over dramatic to feel this way, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t anxious.

Truth is, I had been waiting for this appointment for months, having had to be re-referred to a different service in a different part of the country since moving back after my university studies. This appointment would determine what kind of support I’d be entitled to back in my hometown, and having got used to the routine and effectiveness of treatment back in my university town, I was extremely anxious at the prospect of having no support at all, which seems like an exaggeration, I know.

You see, it is very much a postcode lottery when accessing healthcare.

As much as I love the NHS, I must say there really is a huge difference with regards to provisions and accessibility depending on where you are in the country. It’s all a bit touch and go with certain services, as each have different approaches. Back in East Yorkshire I’d been lucky enough to receive frequent acupuncture treatment, excellent mental health treatment through several talking therapies, and access to a neuro consultant, occupational therapy and physio. Though I’d seen a physio and neurologist a long time ago back home, I hadn’t ever seen an occupational therapist despite having cerebral palsy. I also hadn’t had frequent acupuncture, or had monitoring of my curvature since the age of sixteen. It made me anxious to think all the fantastic progress I had made in Hull could possibly be stripped away just because the services and provisions aren’t available here.

All of this explained the butterflies and raspy throat, I guess.

As I suspected, things have changed. Much to my disappointment, they don’t offer acupuncture here. This was a little hard to swallow (and accounts for my exclamation of ‘oh no!’ in the consulting room) and though I was offered facet joint injections back in East Yorkshire, I was told I probably won’t be able to have them over here for a few years owing to my age. I might also have to consider a spinal fusion in the future (eek!) so they’d want to reduce steroid exposure to a minimum.

Again, fairly disappointing.

It’s not all bad, though. I will be discussed at their monthly review -‘they’ being made up of doctors, spinal consultants, neurologists, nurses and pain management specialists – and it is likely I’ll be able to access support to help with the mental struggles of the cerebral palsy and scheuermann’s, which is really quite exciting considering this aspect has never been discussed. I’ll also have specialist physio, with therapists who know the condition, and will be able to advise me accordingly, a change from the ‘I’ve never actually seen scheuermann’s in a person before!’ physio I’ve had previously. So, I’m feeling a bit mixed-up about this one. I am seriously gutted I can’t have acupuncture, and will be looking into private treatment options.

However, I am feeling a glimmer of hope, and really feel that the mental health focus will help. It is also lovely to know I am not alone, so a big thank you to Ben for coming with me to my appointment. This is a start, and I have at least some direction, and I’ll just have to hang tight and see what’s in store.

I’ll get there, I’m sure.

Sending warm bear hugs on this chilly day…

Heather x

Categories
Anxiety awareness Depression General health and well-being Mental Health Problems Mental Illness OCD recovery

Happiness is…

…the squeak of a guinea pig, the sparkle of an icy road, warm hugs on chilly nights, the crunch of an apple, cold rosy cheeks, the putting on of a woolen hat over red ears, drying tears, a sigh of relief when the worst is over.  

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Foodie things Hull Bloggers

Napoleons Casino: Dine In Style*

Over summer, which seems like a ridiculously long time ago (owing to my MRes ridiculousness and a year of madness seen in my previous post I’m back…), I was lucky enough to be invited to Napoleons Casino and Restaurant in Hull’s bustling city centre to try out their Dine In Style menu.

Food and a little bit of roulette…is there a better way for a postgraduate research student to unwind?!

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Walking up to the bright lights on a cool summer evening, I wondered what the night would have in store. I don’t often frequent casinos, and I’d never usually consider a casino a place to go to for dinner. But I was in for a rather pleasant surprise.

Shortly after arriving, I was greeted by the helpful staff and signed in,  and then we ascended a rather glamorous-looking staircase leading up to a candle-lit restaurant with an extensive bar and a relaxed atmosphere. Shown to our seats, and given a lovely bottle of red to share, we pondered over the delights of the menu and peered over into the casino area, bustling with people eager to wind down after a busy week.

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Though it was difficult to pick three courses from a delicious selection, I opted for three dishes that I hoped would warm up the chilly evening. To start, I had the delicious garlic mushrooms on toast; mixed mushrooms sauteed and slathered in garlic butter, sat atop crispy ciabatta and were garnished with microherbs and aioli. A delicious starter to whet the appetite.

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For the main course, I went for a bowl of comforting haricot bean cassoulet paired with garlic and parsley ciabatta. The cassoulet was richly flavoured, with intense tomato sauce flavoured with garlic and herbs. Just the thing for a cool summer night. The cassoulet was topped with a crumb, complementing the warming cassoulet perfectly.

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As if two courses weren’t enough, we were also treated to a third! I chose the pear and ginger creme brulee: a soft, creamy custard with stewed pears, top with a glazed sugar crust and served with a tiny gingerbread man and ginger syrup. And yes, it did taste as good as it looked!

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After our delicious meal, we played on the American roulette with our £5 chips. Though I’d never played before, I came away with some winnings, and it was the perfect ending to a lovely night.

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My experience at Napoleons Casino has completely altered my perceptions. I had a great night, with some delicious food, and as their Dine in Style package is such great value for money, I’m sure many of you will also be surprised at what Napoleons has to offer. The  Dine in Style package starts at £22.95, with a £5 value gaming chip, increasing to £27.95 on Friday and Saturday nights. A fantastic night and something a little bit unusual!

 

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Why not visit any of the venues in Hull, Sheffield, Bradford, Leeds or London to find out for yourself? You may not come home a winner, but I can guarantee you’ll come away feeling well and truly stylish.

Hope you’re feeling good. I’m wrapped up attempting to get through a pile of lesson planning…wish me luck!

Heather x

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My Life Uncategorized

I’m back…

…did you miss me?! Wait. Don’t answer that (you probably didn’t). As you can probably tell from my lack of posts it has been ridiculously busy over here. The year was bad enough generally (hello MRes, I’m blaming you) but the last few months have been so hectic all I’ve wanted to do is curl up into a ball and wait for the Whole Thing to blow over.

However, I’m here, and I’m going to tell you all about it…well, the short version, at least.

If you’re a regular reader (hello, you! Thanks for sticking around) you’ll know I went straight onto doing my research degree after my undergrad in English lit. I knew this would be hard, but I didn’t quite prepare for the level of stress, panic and general upset that would ensue. It has been a really tough year. I never realised how all-consuming a research project could be. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved doing my MRes. I thoroughly enjoyed the reading, and establishing (what I hope to be) a coherent argument based upon my own research, but wow, my thesis genuinely took over my life. It was all I could think about. If I wasn’t writing up, I was reading. If I wasn’t talking about it, I was thinking about it. And by the end, after several weeks of almost sleepless nights, I sent my lovingly crafted/edited/formatted thesis to the bindery. What I picked up – a whole 121 A4 pages-worth of blood, sweat and tears – made the process seem worthwhile. Holding that tangible object gave me the confirmation that yes, I did work hard, and yes,  it was something I could genuinely be proud of. As someone who is almost entirely self-critical and self-deprecating with regards to my academic achievements, this was a pretty special feeling to have. I’m hoping to find out my marks soon, so keep everything crossed for me!

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Amongst all of this, I was applying for jobs, attending interviews and continuing with several voluntary roles. Thankfully I landed an amazing job that I absolutely love, which will hopefully set me on a positive career path. I have just about settled in. The place is wonderful, and my colleagues are truly some of the loveliest people I have ever met. I’m working part time currently, but I am finally getting confirmation that I’m on the right track (whatever that may be).

This year has been a Big Year as far as years go. There have been the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows. I have made the greatest friendships, published an article in a journal, and been fortunate enough to still attend some fantastic events with the Hull Bloggers crew (posts to follow!). The lows have been low: I have drifted apart from people, relationships ended, some close friends have turned into strangers, and I often found myself in a constant state of change where I didn’t know what was happening and who I was going to be sharing my time with. But I have made it. And I can honestly, hand-on-heart say, that i’m feeling the happiest I have ever felt in months. I’m finally feeling like things are on an upward trajectory. And, with any luck, I’m hoping to stay up here – on what currently feels like cloud nine – for as long as I can.

If you’re still reading, and you stuck around for me, i just want to say a big thank you. I’m really grateful for your support, and just know that I really do appreciate every little like and comment. They brighten my day.

So yes. No Superhero is back. And she is here to stay. Keep your eyes peeled for posts…there are many in the pipeline!

Look after yourself,

Heather x