Eating out is one of my very favourite things to do. As a family, food forms the basis of most of our outings.

‘What do you fancy doing today?’ one of us will ask another.

‘How about we go over to Wells?’ the other will suggest.

‘Shall we meet at midday? Just in time for lunch?’

And then we’ll meet and have lunch and look in a token shop or glance at Wells Cathedral so it feels like we actually HAVE had an outing, and then we go home again.

I think you get the idea.

I’m always pleased then when I get asked to try out a new restaurant, and I was SUPER pleased to get to visit Symonds at Redwood as the menu looked LUSH.

Symonds is set within Audley Redwood village, a luxury retirement village just outside Clifton in Bristol. The minute we got there I wanted to retire – the setting is beautiful and the apartments look lovely. There’s a fitness centre with loads of classes, a swimming pool, hair salon, and even a library. A library!

There’s also a bar and Symonds restaurant. It’s basically everything I need. I could picture myself at the bar mid-afternoon with a gin and tonic, hair done, library book in hand. Bliss.

Unfortunately you have to be at least 55 years old to actually live in one of the apartments, which is not that far away really, so it was basically a retirement research trip.

You do NOT have to be 55 though to visit Symonds. The bar and restaurant opened to residents at the end of last year and then to the general public in January. It’s beautifully decorated and opens out onto the gardens where you can sit in warmer weather. As well as evening meals Symonds do lunches and afternoon teas, which I’m sure would be lovely in the summer on the terrace.

Symonds restaurant Bristol review

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homemade party rings

Nothing says party like a party ring does it?

When I said out loud in my office today that I thought I might go home and make some party rings, the response was overwhelming. Much discussion ensued about the key foods that make up a good party – egg sandwiches, pink wafers etc – but the consensus was that if you turn up to a party with a packet of party rings then you win. You get the girl.

Can you EVEN IMAGINE then how popular you would be if you turned up to a party with HOMEMADE party rings?

Having already experimented with homemade Jaffa Cakes, homemade Jammie Dodgers, and a rather dubious batch of homemade Chocolate Hobnobs, which didn’t make the blog as I didn’t want to be sued for the cost of your resulting dental work, I thought I would have a go at making my own homemade party rings.

Follow my simple party rings recipe and you too can wow your party guests as you present them with a beautiful plate of Instagram ready treats. View Post

While I was stuck inside last week hiding from the snow I developed a new hobby – making biscuits that look a bit like biscuits you might see in the shops.

It’s fun.

Basically you think up a biscuit you like, and then you try to make your own. I started with the Jaffa cakes, which were super fun and very tasty, especially on the second day when the jelly had soaked into the sponge a little bit and made it lovely and moist.

Next up I had a go at homemade Jammie Dodgers.

homemade jammie dodgers

Check out those bad boys!

Now although I do like a Jammie Dodger in real life, I do find they can sometimes be a bit MUCH. Do you know what I mean? They’re pretty thick and full on. (Like some boyfriends I’ve had.) For my homemade Jammie Dodgers then I wanted to make something a little bit more delicate, so I used a simple shortbread style recipe for the biscuits and made them thinner than regular Jammie Dodgers. View Post

In association with McDonald’s

Ever since I went to McDonald’s in Exeter recently to make a Big Mac live on Twitter, (as you do), I’ve been trying to remember the first time I ever ate a McDonald’s.

I know that we didn’t have a McDonald’s in our town when I was young, but I couldn’t remember when it did open. I asked my sister Annabel, who is four years younger than me but has a much better memory. She reckons it was the early 1990s, which would have meant I was probably at least 14 or 15.

‘I remember being very excited it was opening!’ she told me. ‘I also remember the smell of the chips being so irresistible that Grandad (Eric) had taken me to the drive-thru after school once for some reason and actually asked if he could have a chip WITHOUT CUTLERY AND WHILST DRIVING.’

Our family WhatsApp group did NOT know what to do with this information. My Grandad (Eric) was not the sort of man to do anything whilst driving, let alone eat a chip.

‘MY LIFE IS A LIE,’ wrote Bee, unable to process the information.

Needless to say that I can’t remember a time when a cheeky Big Mac has not been a part of my life.

Big Mac close up

McDonald’s has changed a lot however since I used to take Bee in as a toddler. View Post

Post in association with Princes

I know! They go together like bread and butter right? John Lewis and canned mackerel.

But think about it like this – you go to John Lewis, you wander around for ages, gazing at all the things you’d have in your house if you won the lottery and didn’t have children/a partner who spoilt everything by leaving dirty cups on your carefully Instagram styled vintage sideboard, and then you come home, exhausted, and whip yourself up my mackerel salad nicoise and eat it on your fancy new John Lewis plates!

Job’s a good ‘un, as we say in our family, fondly mocking my mum’s partner Mitch.

Canned mackerel salad

As you almost 100% definitely read my mackerel recipe post earlier this week, I expect we’re already on the same page. View Post

homemade Jaffa cake recipe

I know what you’re thinking – ‘Homemade Jaffa cakes? WTF? Why on earth would you go to the effort to make your own Jaffa cakes when you could just crack open a packet of McVities?’

Well yes, I can see your point, but making your own Jaffa cakes is more something you do for the activity than for the end product.

It’s like any kind of cooking really, or gosh, anything in life at all when you start to think about it. It’s satisfying making things for yourself from scratch, and fun in the process. (Sometimes. Unless it’s a complicated pastry or something.)

It’s the journey not the destination and all that.

PLUS, when you make your own Jaffa cakes you get to do things along the way like eat a casual square or two of Bournville and lick the cake bowl. View Post