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Thursday, 28 March 2019

A weekend getaway in Sicily: a 3-day itinerary

*AD - SPONSORED POST* Offering fine cuisine, incredible history and culture, mild climate all year round as well as unbeatable archipelago sites, the beautiful southern island of Sicily is the perfect destination for a weekend trip away. As the largest and most densely populated island in the Mediterranean Sea, Sicily is not only a renowned beach destination as it is home to some of the world’s most beautiful sands and water but also home to beautiful traditional cities and locations worth visiting. While in a weekend it may be difficult to visit all of Sicily’s corners, renting a car is certainly a great idea to make the most of the weekend as well as residing in a beautiful Sicilian villa rental, which can be easily booked through online tools like WishSicily. For a 3 day itinerary in Sicily we recommend visiting Palermo, Cefalù and Mount Etna.

A weekend getaway in Sicily: a 3-day itinerary - Day One Palermo

A weekend getaway in Sicily: a 3-day itinerary - Day One Palermo

Many direct flights to Sicily land in Palermo, the ideal base for a short trip around the island. If you have a full day to explore Palermo get to know the town’s fascinating past, hidden passageways and coded paintings located all around the town and left behind by secret society the Beati Paoli. Palermo is also home to some of the most exquisite cathedrals, beach accesses and cuisine in Italy. For a cuisine experience, visit Palermo’s three main food markets, Vucciria, Ballaro’ and Capo all within the heart of the town. Make sure to try Sicilian delicatessen such as Cannoli, Cassata cake, pizza and ice cream! While in town also get to know the Palazzo dei Normanni, the Royal Palace of Palermo which was once the sear of the Kings of Sicily during the Norman domination and is today home to the regional parliament of Sicily. The Capuchin Catacombs of Palermo are also an interesting macabre attraction for any horror and history lovers. Here you will be able to find well-preserved bodies of Sicily’s inhabitants and visitors.

A weekend getaway in Sicily: a 3-day itinerary - Day Two Cefalu

A weekend getaway in Sicily: a 3-day itinerary - Day Two Cefalu

Not too far from Palermo is one of Sicily’s most popular and visited towns, Cefalù. The town offers sandy beaches, winding Mediaeval streets, local restaurants and the town’s unique Norman Cathedral. The town’s origins go back all the way to Greek ruling although the town was mostly built during the Norman command. Cefalù’s Norman Cathedral has in fact been granted a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in 1131 the cathedral is a beautiful example of “Sicilian Romanesque”. Just south of Cefalù there is a not-to-miss scenery in the Madonie National Park which features charming villages and towns, as well as impressive mountain sceneries.

A weekend getaway in Sicily: a 3-day itinerary - Day Three Mount Etna

A weekend getaway in Sicily: a 3-day itinerary - Day Three Mount Etna

The highest volcano in Europe and the most active in the world, Mount Etna has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2013. Mount Etna has attracted visitors worldwide for centuries as it features geographical peculiarities such as its constant eruptions and spectacular lava flows. Mount Etna is perfect for hikers who can visit its active craters while also enjoying beautiful views across the entire island and sea. During the winter it is even possible to ski down the snow covered slopes. Due to the slope’s different altitudes and exposures, Mount Etna also offers a high biodiversity featuring a rich Mediterranean scrubland and numerous wood species. It is truly an incredible natural site that cannot be missed while in Sicily! 

While these are just a few of Sicily’s incredible destinations to visit, the island truly offers something for everyone. Whether it may be its ancient streets or it’s sandy beaches and crystal clear waters the island is rich in history and beauty. Visitors flood to Sicily from all over the world throughout the year but a great time to visit and not bump into too many tourists is during Spring or Autumn!

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Spending a day exploring Manchester

*AD - GIFTED* Manchester is one of those cities near me that I nip in and out of but never really stop and look around. A Saturday boozy bar crawl with the girls. Check! Catching a gig at the Arena or O2 and straight home. Done! Shopping in the Trafford Centre. Got the t-shirt! But have I ever had a walk around the city really taking in the sights? No. There are some great hotels in Manchester , but if you live nearby like me, it's easy to spend just a day exploring Manchester.

Exploring Manchester - sight seeing

We started our day of exploring at Piccadilly Gardens, up near the Northern Quarter. It is a large square with shops, restaurants and bars surrounding it. Right in the centre of it are these fountains. In the warmer weather I can imagine it being a great place to sit and soak up the sunshine whilst watching the world go by.

Exploring Manchester - Piccadilly Gardens fountains

Manchester Town Hall in Albert Square is another definite must see when exploring Manchester. Albert Square is full of gorgeous gothic buildings and statues and again there are plenty of places to stop and eat or grab a drink. The Town Hall is currently undergoing reservations but it is well worth the walk to see the outside and spend some time in Albert Square.

Exploring Manchester - Manchester Town Hall

I really love the statues and water feature in the square. They look gorgeous against the backdrop of the city.

Exploring Manchester - Albert Square water feature

Exploring Manchester - Albert Square statue

Manchester Cathedral is my favourite sight in the city. A stunning cathedral and gardens, with blossom trees in bloom at the moment, and lots of quaint pubs surrounding it.

Exploring Manchester Cathedral

Exploring Manchester Cathedral gardens

Exploring Manchester - shopping

If you don't want to spend the day sight seeing you can spend a full day exploring Manchester shops. From the amazing vintage and charity shops, to big high street names (including the most enormous Primark) to the renowned Selfridges and it's glass tunnel. There really is something for everyone there. Perfect if, like us, the weather is forecast to be sunny and it turns out to be freezing when you get there, you can nip and buy a sweater.

In between walking to the places we wanted to see there was plenty of time to look in all of the shops we wanted to visit too.

Exploring Manchester - Selfridges glass tunnel

Exploring Manchester - food & drinks

Manchester is definitely a foodies heaven. There are bars, restaurants and cafes wherever you look. Whether you're looking for small independent places, big chain names or a little coffee shop it can be found.
While exploring Manchester this weekend we had a delicious brunch, an amazing dinner, a couple of bar stops for a drink break and a good old Starbs for the walk back to the metro station.
I'm going to be sharing our brunch and dinner soon so keep checking back to find out where we ate.

Exploring Manchester - Starbucks coffee

Both me and Ellie had a great day out exploring Manchester. It is definitely a city I would like to see more of so we'll definitely be visiting again soon.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

I Love Gin February box

*AD - GIFTED* It's my favourite time of the month again, unboxing the I Love Gin box. Ok... so that's not entirely true. One thing I love more than unboxing the gins is drinking them! Keep reading and find out what's inside the I Love Gin February box.

Unboxing the I Love Gin February box

The I Love Gin February box theme is The Sweet Ginger Box and, after a slight change in January, the contents have gone back to the previous months. Inside the box there are two different gins and two tonics.
  • A 50ml bottle of Jawbox Classic Dry Gin
  • A 50ml bottle of Brecon Jawbox pineapple & ginger gin
  • A 250ml bottle of Merchant's Heart pink pepper tonic
  • A 250ml bottle of Merchant's Heart ginger ale
I Love Gin February box contents

My review of the I Love Gin February box

I Love Gin February box contents

You couldn't pick a more perfect theme for me than ginger so as soon as I saw the card I knew I would love this months box. I always have a bottle of ginger ale in for my gins and regularly choose ginger flavour gins when I am out.
Jawbox gin is a brand that is new to me so I'm really happy about that. After all trying new gin brands and flavours is my main appeal to I Love Gin. The Jawbox Classic dry gin is a perfect dry gin, juniper and citrus are the main flavours with hints of other botanicals in there. The Jawbox pineapple and ginger gin liqueur is heavenly! A delicious combination of botanical gin, sweet pineapple and ginger heat. Definitely a very moreish gin, so not one for a week night.
I have had Merchant's Heart tonic before but never the flavours in this months box. Pink pepper tonic is unusual and a surprisingly good tonic for classic gins. The ginger ale is a spicy ginger that is great with the pineapple and ginger gin. It also adds a great boost of flavour to a dry gin too.
My star picks from this months I Love Gin box are the Jawbox pineapple and ginger gin liqueur and the Merchant's Heart pink peppercorn tonic. Both are bottles I will be buying again and keeping in my (ever growing) gin corner.

Get your own I Love Gin box

You can sign up to an I Love Gin subscription here. It is £14 a months and you will get two gins and two tonics every month. You can also pause or cancel your subscription at any time. I Love Gin will soon be releasing a subscription box with three gins and no tonics, perfect if you always have plenty of tonic in or if you are just all about the gin life.

Which would be your favourite gin and tonic combination?

Thursday, 7 March 2019

Celebrating National Pie Week with Pieminister

*AD - COMPLIMENTARY* Did you know this week is National Pie Week? I don't think a week could be more me to be honest! Whether it's savoury or sweet I can never resit a pie. Pieminister recently got in touch to ask me if I wanted to celebrate with them so, on Monday night me and my friend were there to try the pies.

About National Pie Week

National Pie Week runs from the 4th - 10th March. Pieminister have different things on each night to celebrate. Here is the itinerary for the week.

Celebrating National Pie Week with Pieminister - the menu

Our Pieminister meal

I have the Lady Baa Baa pie with mash and garden peas. Lady Baa Baa is the Pieminister March special. It is a lamb, red wine, root vegetables and rosemary pie. And yes, the hilarious pun name did sway my decision to order it!

Pieminister Lady Baa Baa pie with mash, garden peas and gravy

It is a really deep fill pie with huge chunks of tender lamb and veggies. The gravy inside the pie is amazing, a perfect combination of red wine and rosemary that doesn't over power the lamb. The pastry is crisp and tastes delicious. I really like the gravy too, thick and meaty and enough of it for my meal.

Linda has the Moo pie with mash and mushy peas. Moo is a beef steak and ale pie.

Pieminister Moo pie with mash, mushy peas and gravy

This is another deep fill pie full of chunks of beef and carrots. The gravy inside is thick and you can really taste the ale, without it being too much. It comes with a large helping of minty mushy peas that Linda thinks goes perfectly with her pie.

Pieminister Leeds review

Pieminister Leeds is a great venue. It has a mixture of open tables and chairs and intimate booths. I really love the rustic feel to the booths and the restaurant in general.

Pieminister Leeds booth national pie week

The staff are friendly and attentive without being overbearing and they are happy to explain the menu and give you time to decide what you want.

I think the menu is a perfect size. There is just the right amount of choices of pies and sides without having too many choices that you can't decide. It has a great range for vegan and vegetarians too.

Both me and Linda loved our meal at Pieminister. The pies are delicious and the sides all go with them perfectly. Whilst the servings don't look huge they are incredibly filling. There was no room left to try any of the desserts!

I do have my eye on the Sunday Best which comes with a yorkshire pudding, roasties, pigs in blankets and crackling. If that doesn't sound like the most amazing Sunday dinner I don't know what does!

How are you celebrating National Pie Week? Have you eaten at Pieminister before? If not find your nearest branch and get yourself down there.

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