Food, Travel

Castles, cake and cream tea (and chorizo, and chocolate, and chips…)

Those of you who know your Waugh might be aware of Castle Howard. It’s been the setting for both film adaptations of Brideshead Revisited, but that aside, it’s a pretty impressive stately home. I’ve visited before with Momma P, but Danners and I decided to get some photography practice in, and with the weather playing ball, we thought we’d drive out to the country. I’m not sure how great the photos are, but the cream tea, ice cream, and sweets more than make up for them. The finale to our day was dinner at Bill’s – York’s newest restaurant. Anywhere that has chorizo, sweet potato chips and chocolate dipping sauce on its menu is going to be fine by me.

A civilised setting for lunch

A civilised setting for lunch

Decisions to be made while we wait for a table

Decisions to be made while we wait for a table

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Cream tea to share

Cream tea to share

Wedge-sized ham sandwiches

Wedge-sized ham sandwiches

We resisted the urge to hop on the tractor

We resisted the urge to hop on the tractor

One of many cenotaphs

One of many cenotaphs

Aaaaand there it is!

Aaaaand there it is!

Not bad for the back of the house

Not bad for the back of the house

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Smile!

Smile!

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The writing desk that would help me pen a bestseller...

The writing desk that would help me pen a bestseller…

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Eerie, yes?

Eerie, yes?

Every home should have a corridor of busts

Every home should have a corridor of busts

As entrance halls go, it's a corker

As entrance halls go, it’s a corker

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I thought the light looked pretty

I thought the light looked pretty

I'm sure I must be in here somewhere

I’m sure I must be in here somewhere

A sort of 'sorry you lost' scroll from the people of West Yorkshire to an unsuccessful Howard MP

A sort of ‘sorry you lost’ scroll from the people of West Yorkshire to an unsuccessful Howard MP

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That's you, Mr T

That’s you, Mr T

Sweeeeeets

Sweeeeeets

Giant strawbs. The best kind of sweet

Giant strawbs. The best kind of sweet

Cinder toffee. Om nom

Cinder toffee. Om nom

Danners realises she made an AWFUL choice with rum and raisin

Danners realises she made an AWFUL choice with rum and raisin

I should have saved some of my ice cream for this part

I should have saved some of my ice cream for this part

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What shall I photograph next?

What shall I photograph next?

The rather majestic front view

The rather majestic front view

A bit of a 'water feature'

A bit of a ‘water feature’

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Hide and seek

Hide and seek

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Entering the Rose Garden

Entering the Rose Garden

Small child not mine

Small child not mine

I promise the skies were blue!

I promise the skies were blue!

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Castle Howard's own jam. Very fancy

Castle Howard’s own jam. Very fancy

Back to York for supper at its newest restaurant - Bill's

Back to York for supper at its newest restaurant – Bill’s

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Crispy squid

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Chicken and chorizo burger. Yummy

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Sweet potato fries. My favourite!

Cinnamon doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce, and pecan pie

Cinnamon doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce, and pecan pie

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Beauty, Betsy Loves

Hunky dory

I’ve raved about Topshop’s Sheer Lips in the past, and I’ve just got my hands on the shade Hunky Dory. It’s the best nude out there. Don’t get me wrong, I still love Alibi, but this is altogether sexier, with a slightly darker nude shade and a subtle shimmer. Plus it seems to stay around a look longer. If you’re after a nude lip for this winter, you can’t go wrong with this.

 

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Betsy Loves, Fashion

I’ve been shopping…

I’m not going to lie, I’m more of a winter breed, and there are few things I like more than rediscovering and replenishing my winter clothes. I’ve spent the last few weeks feasting my hungry little eyes on new stock drip-drip-dripping in, and now it’s all arrived in a flood.

Last week, Mr T and I hit the shops in Leeds, and did some damage. Here are the current new beauties of my wardrobe, although I still have a list as long as my arm… Sigh.

As you can see, my colour palette tends to the grey, black and white. Mr T says none of those count as colours, but he’s wrong. I’ll let him off though, as he bought me my lovely Adidas Gazelles, which I’ve been gazing (no pun intended…) at for a while. He actually bought them to say congrats for swimming the Channel; all together now – awwwww, bless.

Mango Camel Wool Gilet

Mango Camel Wool Gilet

This gilet is bleeding gorgeous. I had to beg the sales assistant in Mango to rummage in the store room for it as they hadn’t put it on the shelves yet. I’m convinced this is going to be really useful, as I can even layer a jacket underneath it when it gets colder.

Topshop Raff Black Sandals

Topshop Raff Black Sandals

I don’t usually ‘do’ heels, but these are lust worthy, in my humble opinion. The straps mean that I can actually walk in them, they also hide my less-than-stunning feet, and the block heel means they don’t hurt. It’s a miracle! And I love the shiny toe plate too.

Topshop Double Layer Sheer Solid Top

Topshop Double Layer Sheer Solid Top

It’s sheer, but not so sheer you need to wear a vest top underneath, it’s charcoal grey, and it’s soft. What is not to love about this? Plus, the long hemline means I can wear my new leather-look leggings underneath and not feel like I’m flashing too much!

Topshop Asymmetric V-Neck Sweater

Topshop Asymmetric V-Neck Sweater

Yes, I know this is basically the same as the jumper above, but it’s not really. It’s a different grey. A lighter grey. It’s versatile. And I love it.

River Island High Waisted Coated Leggings

River Island High Waisted Coated Leggings

The aforementioned leather-look leggings. These are a first for me; I’ve always admired the ladies who can carry off leather leggings or trousers and look sexy without looking too OTT, but I’ve never had the guts myself. Why? Because leather and pleather have a tendency to cling where you don’t want them to. I also can’t get Ross from Friends out of my head, and I loathe pleather when it looks seriously plastic-y. I tried on several pairs in River Island. One pair zipped up, but I honestly couldn’t tell which was the front and which was the back; either way I tried they looked awful, and when I finally pulled them off, my legs were pretty sweaty. Gross. These ones, however, pull on (quite easily as it turns out); the high waist means there’s no dreaded muffin top, and I figure as long as I wear tops that cover my bum, I think I can just about get away with them. I’ll keep you updated…

Adidas Gazelles

Adidas Gazelles

My lovely Gazelles. Thanks Mr T x

Topshop Leigh Jeans

Topshop Leigh Jeans

You can NEVER have too many pairs of skinny black jeans. NEVER!!! And the Leigh jeans are soft and thin, with enough stretch to give you a fitted look but not so much that they’re bagging at the knees a few hours later.

Topshop Annette Western Boots

Topshop Annette Western Boots

Finally, some new black boots. I love an ankle boot. Like, really, honest to God, would marry them if I could, LOVE an ankle boot. They are so useful. And a pair with a walkable wearable chunky cuban-esque heel? Well, you’ve just about made my day. Mr T doubts the usefulness of black suede, but I like a slightly battered look to my shoes. So there. These will not be the last pair of ankle boots I thrust before your eyes. Just a gentle warning.

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Betsy Loves, Film

September’s film picks

With winter basically here, I’m about ready to settle down, snuggle up with a rug and a mug of hot chocolate and hibernate. And when I’m not doing that, I’m happy to drive to the cinema to be entertained. Here’s my pick of what to look out for this month.

September

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The Guest, starring Dan Stevens

The teaser: If you’re really bothered about the plot it revolves around David (Dan Stevens) who turns up on the doorstep of the Peterson family claiming to be a good friend of their son’s who died in action. Then people in the town start dying too. Is David to blame?

Why I want to see it: Is it bad that I’m mostly picking this because it’s got Dan Stevens in it from Downton Abbey and he looks ridiculously hot? (See featured image…) His American accent isn’t too bad either.

Why you should see it: See the point above.

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Wish I Was Here, starring Zach Braff and Kate Hudson

The teaser: A struggling actor, father and husband tries to find his identity and purpose in his life when he home schools his kids.

Why I want to see it: Because I loved Zach Braff’s Garden State (what moody emotional teen doesn’t?).

Why you should see it: So you can claim to have watched at least one indie-ish film this year.

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The Riot Club, starring every young hot actor out there, i.e. Sam Claflin, Douglas Booth and Max Irons

The teaser: Two first year Oxford students join the infamous Riot Club, where reputations can be made or destroyed in an evening.

Why I want to see it: Because I didn’t get enough of Max Irons in The White Queen, and Booth’s cheekbones are hypnotic.

Why you should see it: Because it looks like great fun, and will hopefully be making a few politicians and city boys a little uncomfortable.

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Avoid

A Walk Among the Tombstones, a.k.a another Liam Neeson vengeance-filled uber violent pile of drivel

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Challenge Betsy, Fitness

Shin splints…

Gah! The dreaded shin splints have returned. Damn you, Jillian Michaels and your high impact cardio. It’s my own fault really. So, I suppose I shall have to forfeit the 30 Day Shred Challenge, and return to the old swimming, which I was loving anyway. I think I’ve decided to swim the length of Loch Ness this time, which, surprisingly, is further than the Channel! Who knew?!…

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Food

Oh my, Pecan Pie!

The Hummingbird Bakery strikes again. This time, Brother James was having a BBQ and I offered to make the desserts. Suddenly, I had the mammoth task of making a Mississippi Mud Pie, a Pecan Pie and a Lemon Meringue.

The Mississippi Mud Pie was a triumph, as usual, and that had nothing to do with my baking skills, and everything to do with the oodles of chocolate, syrup, sugar and cream involved.

The Lemon Meringue is one of Mr T’s favourites and his mum makes a cracking version so I was a bit worried about this. I needn’t have. Phew. I’ll share the recipe later in the week.

And the Pecan Pie? Turns out it’s T3’s fave pie so I was already on to a winner there. The original recipe uses Hummingbird’s revolting pastry which I abandoned long ago, in favour of pre made frozen shortcrust. As I always say, if it’s good enough for Mary Berry… The recipe also specifies dark corn syrup, which, if you don’t live in the States, is bloody hard to find. You can order it off Amazon, but really, I’m not that fussed, so I improvised with golden syrup and maple syrup.

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Here goes…

Ingredients:

  • Readymade shortcrust pastry (I used JusRol, pre-rolled and one sheet is enough)
  • 200 caster sugar
  • 250 ml golden syrup and maple syrup (I substituted like weights)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g pecan nuts, chopped
  • Whole pecans to decorate

First up, preheat the oven to 170C. Roll out your pastry, and pop into your pie tin.

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Put the sugar, corn syrup and salt in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil, remove from heat and leave to cool for at least 10 minutes.

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In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs and slowly pour the warmed syrup (warm NOT hot!!! Otherwise you’ll have sweet scrambled eggs. Barf) into the eggs. Add the butter and vanilla and stir until blended thoroughly.

Put the chopped nuts into the pastry case and pour the syrup mixture over the top. My mixture was very very runny, so I popped the whole pecan nuts around the edge to decorate as best as I could, but there was definitely some sinkage…

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Bake for 50-6o minutes or until the pie has reached a deep caramel colour.

I baked this the day before, but, in my humble opinion, this is best served hot, with fresh custard or a generous scoop of ice cream. Because I’m an idiot, I didn’t take a photo of the finished thing, but it sort of, kind of, maybe looked a little bit like the one from Hummingbird Bakery at the top…

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