Friday, 23 September 2016

Ox Pasture Hall

Last weekend, Jonny and I were fortune enough to be invited for a complimentary night's stay at Ox Pasture Hall, a beautiful country house hotel located in a picturesque and romantic setting in the North Yorkshire Moors. Ox Pasture Hall is a former country house which has been transformed into a luxurious country house hotel, providing a range of luxury accommodation including deluxe bedrooms, classic doubles and the most amazing luxury suites. I'm sure you'll agree once you have seen the photos in this post that it's not surprising that this stunning hotel in the countryside is consistently rated as one of the top hotels in Yorkshire! The location of the hotel is simply breathtaking, waking up to such a wonderful view of the North York Moors makes you want to stay there forever, it's so peaceful. Ox Pasture Hall is also only 2 miles from Scarborough (about a 10 minute taxi ride) so we had a lot of fun exploring a town we hadn't visited before. Ox Pasture Hall is great for romantic and luxury short breaks, family gatherings, celebrations and is also a beautiful setting for weddings. The hotel is also dog friendly, so you can take your furry companion along with you and stay in one of the dog friendly bedrooms. Your pet will also receive luxury treatment with drinking bowls around the hotel, plenty of doggie treats and a variety of locations to take your dog for a walk. 

Travelling from the other side of Yorkshire, our train journey took around three hours. After a long week at work, a relaxing break was just what I needed. We arrived at Ox Pasture Hall with plenty of time to spare before check-in at 2 o'clock. Whilst we waited for our room to be prepared, we were taken to a lovely room with big comfy armchairs and cosy fireplace. We enjoyed a cup of coffee before being taken to our room which made us feel more awake and excited for the day ahead. We were given a tour of the hotel and told of it's history which was interesting to hear about. All members of staff were very friendly, attentive and made us feel very special. Now for the most exciting part... seeing the luxury suite we were going to be staying in for the night. My first thoughts when the door opened were WOW this is beautiful, stunning, BREATHTAKING, I can't believe we're staying here, it's so luxurious and omg this is bigger than our flat! I felt so grateful to be there. Ox Pasture Hall is without a doubt the best place I have stayed in.

As you can see, the suite we stayed in was very impressive and spacious. I loved the decor in the suite, it had a lovely, cosy country feel to it and felt very homely yet so luxurious at the same time. The lounge featured a coffee/tea station, TV, radio, comfy armchair and a large table and mirror which was the perfect place to put on my makeup the following morning. The first thing we did when we got to our room was put the kettle on for a cup of coffee. We drank our coffee overlooking the breathtaking view of the countryside whilst taking in how incredible the suite was and taking inspiration for future days out from the Living North magazine that was displayed on the table. Now on to the bedroom. My favourite thing had to be the bed, it was a ginormous king size bed and possibly the most comfiest bed I've ever slept in. As a result, I had the best night's sleep I've had ages. We definitely need to buy a king size bed when we get a house! There's plenty of space to store your belongings if you're staying more than just one night as the room has two bedside tables, a chest of drawers and a large wardrobe. 

You needn't worry about forgetting anything as Ox Pasture Hall thinks of every possible detail. In the wardrobe you will find an iron, ironing board, heater, fan, safe, slippers and robes... they have really thought of everything haven't they! The bathroom was another highlight; complete with a rainforest shower, huge bath and his and hers sinks, this was the bathroom of dreams. We wanted to stay in our rooms for the rest of the day, but we also wanted to explore around the area so we booked our taxi via the reception (we both had no phone signal - the only bad thing about being in the countryside!). We had a couple of hours to spare before our meal at the hotel, so we decided to go to Peasholm Park. I'm going to write a separate blog post on what I did, otherwise this one would be too long!

Ox Pasture Hall has two restaurants; the courtyard restaurant and the bistro. If you want elegant fine dining with imaginative cuisine and a fine selection of wines from around the world then this would make a perfect evening for you. If you prefer a more rustic setting and enjoy traditional British gastro pub food then the bistro would be ideal for you. At 6 o' clock we headed towards the restaurant and were presented with both restaurant menus. We were offered some drinks from the waiter as we decided which menu we preferred. Preferring pub food, Jonny and I opted for the bistro menu. We were taken to our table by the lovely waiter and ordered our meal right away. The restaurant was nice and quiet which was perfect for a romantic meal. Soft, twinkly lights filled the room which gave off a relaxed and fairy-tale feel. A short while later, our first course arrived. For starters, we both chose to have the soup of the day which was one that neither of us had tried before, carrot and coriander. It tasted amazing!

Next up was our main course. The food presentation was excellent, it's clear to see our meals were made from award winning top chefs. Jonny opted for the Bavette steak, he really enjoyed the meal and said the steak was perfectly cooked and melted in the mouth. I had the Parmesan linguine which tasted deliciously creamy, cheesy and was the perfect size potion for me. Now on to my favourite course... dessert! Obviously I went for the chocolate option and how beautiful does it look?! I devoured every last bit of the chocolate tart with mascarpone ice cream, it was heavenly. Jonny had the cheese board which looked equally as good with the selection of cheeses, crackers, bread and chutney. We both really enjoyed each and every course and the staff were all absolutely great and very attentive.

After our meal, we were offered a glass of prosecco but politely declined. The lovely man refused to take no as an answer so said he was going to leave us a glass of bubbly in our room. When we got back, we saw not a glass of prosecco, but a whole bottle waiting for us! Little added touches of kindness like this is what makes Ox Pasture Hall stand out from any other hotel I've stayed in before. They go above and beyond for their guests. We felt well and truly spoilt and lucky to have been treated so well during the entire stay. We hope to come and stay again soon!

After a great night's sleep in the most comfy king size bed, we awoke feeling very excited for breakfast. Once we were ready, we made our way back to the restaurant, the smell of fresh bread and bacon invited us in. At the top of the room there was a wide selection of croissants, fruits and cereals to eat before your cooked breakfast. As we both weren't that hungry due to having had a three course meal the night before, we enjoyed our coffee and toast whilst waiting to be served. For our cooked breakfast, we both opted for the full English (minus the black pudding). This is definitely the poshest full English breakfast I have eaten! We both enjoyed it very much and it was the perfect way to end our stay. As we wanted to make the most of every minute of our stay, we decided to check out at the latest time of 11am to give us plenty of time to look around the hotel grounds. The hotel grounds are absolutely stunning with brightly coloured flowers, greenery, ponds, fountains and gazebos where you can enjoy a picnic or have afternoon tea outside overlooking the North Yorkshire Moors.

There are plenty of things to do if you stay at Ox Pasture Hall. First of all, you're surrounded by the picturesque Yorkshire countryside so there are many walks and trails you can go on. Scarborough is also only a couple of miles away and there are lots of things you can do there from eating chips by the sea, rowing a boat at Peasholm Park, visiting the sea-life sanctuary or taking in the history at Scarborough's 12th century castle. Ox Pasture Hall is a beautiful and luxurious place and I'd highly recommend staying if you're looking for a luxury hotel in Scarborough. A big thank you goes to all the amazing staff who made our stay excellent and very special. We can't wait to come back!

Disclaimer: we were given a complimentary nights stay, including dinner and breakfast in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Benefit minis

I've always loved the look of Benefit products, but never actually owned any until now. Their products always catch my eye when I go to Boots and I've heard so many great things about them. What could be a more perfect way to try a brand you haven't tried before than to test out a selection of their products in miniature form? There are definitely a few products here that I have fallen in love with and will totally be repurchasing in full-size once they have ran out.

THE POREFESSIONAL: Loads of bloggers rave about this product, but to be honest, I don't love it that much. I don't know whether it's because I've never needed to wear a primer, the fact that I prefer doing my makeup quickly so adding an extra step seems unnecessary, or because I haven't used many other primers therefore, I have nothing to compare it to. I like the packaging, it looks bright and fun which is always a plus. When applying this before my foundation, it glides on nice and smoothly. The primer smoothes out any pores and imperfections and feels so amazingly silky on the skin, however, I just don't see that big of a difference whether I wear the primer or not. Once I'd applied the porefessional primer, I buffed my foundation in as usual and the primer stayed put. With regards to wear, I didn't notice a major difference in the longevity of my makeup, but my foundation usually seems to last well on it's own. Perhaps if large pores were a big issue, I think it probably would help enough for me to want to use it everyday. I haven't been reaching for this daily so I don't think I'll be buying the full-sized tube anytime soon. 

THEY'RE REAL VS. ROLLER LASH: I ❤ these! I think I may have found my new favourite mascara(s). These are by far so much better than the usual drug store mascara, even just after applying one layer. If you want your lashes to look really full, voluminous and dramatic then either of these mascaras would be suitable for you. I find that two coats of mascara makes my lashes look super long, curly and full of volume, which is what I want from a mascara. The wands in both mascaras are plastic; maybe this is something to bear in mind if you prefer using a softer wand. Benefit Roller Lash lifts, separates and curls lashes. It comes in either ink black or brown and is water-resistant, which is a bonus! Benefit They're Real creates slightly fuller eyelashes by curling, lengthening, volumizing, lifting and separating each individual lash with the specially designed brush. This mascara comes in jet black, beyond brown and beyond blue. Comparing the two, there isn't that much of a noticeable difference. Both the They're Real and Roller Lash give a false lash effect, so I'd say if you're undecided between the two, go for the one you like the look of most! 

GOOF PROOF BROW PENCIL: Again, this is another product I absolutely love! I have the shade 03 medium and it is the perfect shade to match my chocolate brown hair and brows. I have full brows to begin with, so I don't tend to use much product on them other than a bit of brown shadow. What's great about the goof proof pencil is that it really is goof proof, so if you're a beginner or have no clue what to do with your eyebrows then you will love this! The product applies soft and natural, allowing you to build the colour up to your desired intensity. I like to use this to give my brows a better and neater shape. This pencil is an easy way for making your brows more shapely and neat as the nib is really small and precise. Another thing I love about this product is the packaging, look how pretty it is!

What are your Benefit Cosmetics favourites? I'd love to hear your suggestions of what I should try next!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Ice-cream Cupcakes

Summer is now nearly over -- wait did it even happen?! To be honest it has been REALLY hot over the past couple of days hasn't it? I really want it to be autumn already though. I can't wait for all the autumn leaves, big cosy jumpers, scarves and cold nights drinking big mugs of hot chocolate. To make the most of what is left of summer, I thought I'd make the most summery thing I could think of to bake - ice-cream cupcakes. Not only do these look so cute, but they taste super delicious too! As well as being tasty, the cupcakes look really cute; they would be adorable for both picnics and summer parties. I chose to recreate a traditional ice-cream with the sweet vanilla flavours, multi-coloured sprinkles and chocolate flake, but you can base yours on whatever ice-cream you like. Your cake mix could be rum and raisin, chocolate, strawberry or your favourite flavour of ice-cream. Your icing could be refreshing mint, coffee or a swirling combination of different flavours. You could sprinkle the tops with unicorn glitter, pick 'n' mix, sprinkles or marshmallows (wishing I put glitter on mine now). The recipe is really easy to follow. It's a basic cupcake recipe I've always used and the only difference is that the cakes are baked in ice-cream cones, not cupcake cases! 

1. Pre-heat oven to 160°C and place 12 ice-cream cones onto a large baking tray ready to use for later.
2. Add 4 oz of margarine to a mixing bowl with 4 oz of sugar and mix until a smooth consistency is formed.
3. Next, crack in both eggs and pour in the flour. Gently bind the two together.
4. To make your cupcakes taste more like ice-cream, add 1 tbsp of vanilla extract and stir into the cake mixture. 
5. Evenly distribute the cake mix between the twelve cones (approx 2/3 full).
6. Bake at 160°C for 20-25 mins or when cooked through.
7. Leave to cool for 10 mins. Fill the inside of the cupcake with chocolate or strawberry sauce. I used the Dr Oetker surprise inside cupcake centre in chocolate which made this part super easy.
8. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled it's time to start making the icing. Stir together 5 oz butter and 10 oz of icing sugar until the colour is much lighter in colour and smooth in texture.
9. Pour all of your icing into a piping bag with the star nozzle attached. Following from that, ice the cupcakes in a clockwise direction to create the whipped ice-cream shape. 
10. Lastly, it's time to decorate! Cut each flake into 3 even pieces. Sprinkle a generous amount of hundreds and thousands onto the icing and top it all off with a chocolate flake. Yum!

Will you have a go at baking these ice-cream cupcakes?