Spring has sprung and it's time to get outdoors! The sunny weather has inspired Abbie and I to share a local's guide to our favourite places to hang out in the springtime, as part of our long-running Ab Fab Collab series! Although I live in Oxford for most of the year as a student, my home counties are Suffolk and Norfolk, and during my Easter break, I had a lovely day out in Norwich. I thought I'd share my photos and recommendations with you all so that you have an insider's guide to the best places to visit, should you ever find yourself in the city! Abbie is also giving us a guide to her local town of Chichester, you can click to her blog and read her post here. Now, let's get started on our tour of Norwich!
💒 Sightseeing 💒
To start off your sightseeing tour of Norwich, I would definitely recommend that you pay a visit to the Roman Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. The cathedral is absolutely beautiful and it's free to visit. Those of any (or no) faith are welcome. You can attend a guided tour of the cathedral if you visit at the weekend, and these involve a walk to the top of the tower, from which you can enjoy 360 degree views of the city! There is also an educational display about the history of the cathedral and of Catholicism in the East of England, if you're into your history. The garden outside is really gorgeous, especially in spring, and in the summertime, it's usually full of roses! If that wasn't enough, there's also the Narthex cafe where you can stop off for a cuppa!
For something more on the modern side, Norwich is also home to The Forum, a public hub which contains the library, various cafes, shops, and an exhibition space. The exhibitions rotate fairly regularly, meaning there's always something new to check out every time you're in the city. The building is big, light, and airy - the perfect place for a pit stop during a long day. Everyone is welcome to take a seat on the comfy sofas in the library, and I have taken advantage of this on more than one occasion. Outside on the courtyard there are also regular events, this can be anything from free food to music and dance!
👛 Shopping 👛
Norwich is easily the best place for shopping in East Anglia. With two large malls, Castle Mall and the intu Chapelfield shopping center, you'll be spoiled for choice! A walk through the quirky church graveyard in the city center will lead you to Chapelfield, where you can find everything from Superdry and Hollister to the Build-a-Bear workshop and the Disney Store! As well as shopping there are quite a few restaurants and fast food joints to choose from. Ed's Easy Diner on the top floor is a favourite of mine, their halloumi burgers are delish! All of the shops, including the shopping centers and those below, are within a 10 minute walk of each other, and just a short distance from the train station, which is super convenient.
If you're tempted by something less mainstream, Norwich also has a fine selection of independent shops and boutiques. The Market, with its characteristic bright and colourful stalls and stripey roofs, is definitely worth stopping off at, even just for a browse. You can buy everything from fresh fruit and veggies and flowers to sweets, clothes, and jewellery! You never really know what you're going to find! Another place that I love to go for a wander is the Royal Arcade. A mini piazza constructed with gorgeous Art Nouveau architecture, the Arcade contains some charming and quirky independent retailers, selling macarons and hand-made toys, to name but a few!
🍤 Food 🍤
I mentioned above my love for Ed's Easy Diner, but this is by no means the only delectable eatery in Norwich. If a halloumi burger like mine doesn't really float your boat, I highly recommend the Wild Thyme vegetarian and vegan cafe. The venue is hidden away in the loft of the Old Fire Station stables, which makes for a quirky dining experience! The place is immaculately decorated and has a huge selection on the menu, so that even if you're not veggie or vegan yourself, you're guaranteed to find something you like. The meals aren't too heavy and you feel very healthy afterwards, even if you indulge in a pudding! Their homemade lemonade is the perfect refresher if you've been wandering around the city on a sunny spring day.
I hope you've enjoyed this local's guide to the city of Norwich! I love my spring days out here, and I'm sure that anyone else would too! Don't forget to head over to Abbie's blog and read her tour of Chichester.
Have you ever been to Norwich? Are there any places local to you that you love to visit in the springtime? Please leave a comment down below and let me know!
Until next time,
Have you heard of George, the patron saint of England? Well, if you haven't, he was a pretty cool chap. Legend tells of how George rescued a princess from being eaten by a plague-ridden dragon and saved the entire town where she lived! George was applauded for his heroism and became England's patron saint, with April 23rd every year being dedicated to him! And what better way to celebrate George and his dragon slaying skills by tucking in to some delicious and traditional British grub? Last week I was invited along to the Chequers in central Oxford, to try their menu as part of Nicholson's Pub's Best of British campaign, so today I will share my experience with you all!
🇬🇧 Food & Drink 🇬🇧
Obviously, the highlight of my trip to the Chequers was the plentiful choice of British cuisine! The Chequers is a speciality fish house, with their menu boasting everything from traditional fish pie to a seafood thermidor. After much deliberation, I settled on the finest British dish of all, fish and chips! Charlie, our host for the evening at the Chequers, revealed that this was one of the most popular items on the pub's Best of British menu, and it wasn't hard to tell why! The fish was perfectly cooked and the batter extremely flavoursome, thanks to the Nicholson's pale ale used to make it. The mushy peas were deliciously minty and the perfect complement to the dish. The triple-cooked chips were soft and fluffy on the inside, with just the amount of bite on the outside.
My lovely blogger friend Hayley, who I took along for the evening, opted for the mac and cheese. Brits are obsessed with their Italian food, so this didn't stray too far from the Best of British theme! The cheese sauce looked scrumptiously thick and creamy, and Hayley only had positive things to say about the accompanying garlic bread! After the super filling main courses, we had to have a little break before ordering dessert. Finally, we decided to go for a Belgian chocolate brownie and a rhubarb, cherry, and plum crumble. The brownie was billed on the menu as rich and luxurious, and it definitely didn't disappoint! The texture was lovely and soft - perfect! Hayley struggled to finish off the crumble as the portions were so generous, but she seemed to enjoy it too!
It would've been rude to spend a whole evening enjoying pub grub without having a tipple too, right?! Hayley and I decided to split a bottle of the Il Pallone Pinot Grigio Rose wine between us, which proved to be a delectable choice! On top of this, we were given a few samples of the pub's ale selection to try. I'll admit to not being the biggest fan of ale, but amongst the selection I did find two that I liked - the Nicholson's own pale ale, and Adnams Ghost Ship! The Chequers also has an impressive selection of gins, rightly so as their founder (William Nicholson) ran his own gin distillery, so Hayley and I have vowed to return to the Chequers very soon to try these out.
🇬🇧 Surroundings 🇬🇧
If I'm heading out to a pub for the evening, it's important for me that the venue has a welcoming atmosphere and is lively without being too rowdy, allowing you to chat to your friends with ease. The ambiance of the Chequers was ideal for this - the restaurant is split over multiple levels, and there's also a balcony and a small garden outside, so while the place was busy on a Friday night, it never felt overcrowded.
The setting of the pub is very historic and the building has some really unexpected tales to tell! The main body of the pub where the large bar is located was constructed in the 13th century, and the fireplace which is still visible at the back of the room is an original feature. The room has had many uses over its long life, including as a private zoo for a rich Oxford inhabitant! The building was once home to an elephant, which was a real surprise for me and Hayley! It was fantastic to be dining inside a real example of Oxford heritage.
🇬🇧 Service 🇬🇧
Service with a smile makes all the difference, and Hayley and I couldn't have been better looked after at the Chequers. A special shoutout has to go to our host for the evening, Charlie, who was an absolute star. He was super knowledgeable about the pub, and about all of the Nicholson's menu offerings, and despite the pub being busy, he never seemed rushed and was always happy to chat to us. All of the other staff were super smiley and friendly as well, and they had the same personable demeanor for all of their customers, not just our table of reviewers!
🇬🇧 Value for Money 🇬🇧
Finally, the prices at the Chequers are pretty much comparable to what you'd expect to pay at any restaurant in Oxford. The quality of the food was excellent, as was the service, and although our bill was paid by Nicholson's in exchange for this review, I certainly wouldn't hesitate about going back and paying full price.
- A helping of fish and chips will set you back £12.45.
- The macaroni cheese cost £9.50.
- Our desserts were priced at £5.25 each.
- The Rose wine was £15.75 for the bottle.
If you'd like to be in with a chance of winning your own Nicholson's pub experience, to the tune of a £50 voucher to spend at the Chequers in Oxford, you can enter my giveaway on Twitter. The giveaway ends on 6th May and is open to UK entrants. No quote tweets will be counted. The winner will be notified via Twitter DM. Good luck!
Follow @abbeylouisarose, @Nicholsonspubs & RT to win £50 to spend at your local! Ends 06/05 🍻 Full details here: https://t.co/BewLY1tAQp 🇬🇧 pic.twitter.com/LIDuDqF767— Abbey Louisa Rose (@abbeylouisarose) 23 April 2017
A massive thanks to Nicholson's and to the Chequers for a fantastic evening of British fayre - I will certainly be back! Are you a fan of traditional British food? If so, what are your favourite dishes? Share in the comments below.
Until next time,
Those of you who have been reading my little ol' blog from the very beginning will know that from the start, I've loved sharing my days out with you all! One of my very first posts was about my day at the Norfolk County Agricultural Show, and since then I've also shared my trips to Blenheim Palace and Cheltenham Ladies Day! So, when I paid a visit to the Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology in Oxford a couple of weeks ago, I couldn't resist writing about my tour of their current art exhibition, named 'Degas to Picasso, Creating Modernism in France'! Now, I'm not an art historian by any means, I mainly study Classical Art (i.e. that created by the ancient Greeks and Romans), but I thought that visiting this exhibition was a great opportunity to expand my horizons and learn something new.
Unless you've been living under a rock without access to social media for the past few days, you'll be aware of the currently ongoing saga about Instagram bots and buying followers. Instagram bots are services which, in exchange for a fee, will artificially increase your follower count, as well as likes, by using fake spam profiles. Multi award winning blogger Em Sheldon recently shared on her Snapchat a tactic for spotting bloggers who had bought their followers. This showed people how to identify bloggers using fake stats to score ad deals with brands, causing those who have genuinely and organically grown their following to lose out. Em recommended checking whether users are liking dodgy pics (including pornographic images) and using Social Blade to spot those buying followers and using bots. This has caused an absolute UPROAR on Twitter, with bloggers looking up each other's stats and (sometimes viciously) calling out those who they believe to have cheated. The vast majority of my timeline on Easter Monday morning was taken up with these kinds of intense tweets. Everyone was talking about it, and everyone was mad.
Happy Easter, everyone! Easter is a fantastic time filled with Spring flowers, chocolate, and an extra day off on Easter Monday, but for some of us, it's even sweeter because Easter marks the end of Lent! Many people, even those who don't practice religion such as myself, challenge themselves to give up a certain food or group of foods for Lent, the period from Pancake Day to Easter Sunday. This year, I decided that I would give up meat (so no chicken, beef, pork, lamb etc.), as well as trying to limit the amount of other animal-based products (such as dairy) that I consumed. How did I get on? Scroll down to find out!