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Heritage Open Days 2014

Have you heard of Heritage Open Days? I hadn’t until last year, wanting to find out, a little research told me it was four days of cultural events held in September. Many historic buildings and monuments around the UK, many which are normally closed, would open their doors to the public. Heritage Open Days have actually been going since 1994, to my surprise and occur throughout Europe, all with the aim to make the public more aware of their cultural heritage.

From a list as long as your arm, a few really caught my eye; Temple Works, Hyde Park Picture House and Kirkgate Market.  Unfortunately school kept me from touring the market, but I managed to reserve spots on the other two.

My first tour was to visit Temple Works – a Grade I listed building with a remarkable history, driving passed on a number of occasions I’d seen this unusual facade, but I’d no clue what the building was. Found on Marshall Street in Holbeck, about five minutes walk from the Cross Keys pub. Built as a flax mill by the industrialist John Marshall, a man well known for his exploits with mill buildings (he also built the neighbouring building Marshall Mills).

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This mill was unlike others, because on first glance it has an unusual exterior, which looks completely out of place compared to its surroundings. Its facade was designed by John Bonomi and resembles an Egyptian building.

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Another unusual facet to the mill – it’s just one floor, other mills had multiple floors, this would helpfully reduce the chance of deaths in event of a fire. But it was the design of the Main Space which was flawed from its inception, and the consequences of this were eventually too much for the integrity of the building. 

The Main Space; once the world’s largest single room was to have skylights right across the masonry ceiling providing natural light. The roof was even covered in grass to keep the flax mill humid, stop the environment becoming too dry and reduce the risk of fires. There’s even the strange, but true story of sheep on the roof to maintain the length of the grass!! How did they get onto the roof? Via a sheep lift…how else?!

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For the last few years the building has been managed by Temple Works Leeds, the building’s been used faithfully and has developed a culture of ‘living heritage’, where the space is used by a diverse range of creative minds; artists, actors, photographers, musicians, film production teams and much more! It’s become a very popular place for filming horror and sci-fi, not surprising as it has a weathered and worn, semi-derelict appearance.

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The structure of the Main Space was dependent on the dynamics between the roof and pillars which helped hold it up. Unfortunately, it was too great and its integrity couldn’t be maintained, even after tensioning rods were added. 

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To get the building structurally sound again will take a lot of planning and funding, their aim is to raise enough money in order to do this. I’ll look forward to seeing that happen in the future.

The second visit was at one of my favourite places in Leeds, I’m a massive cinema goer and have grown up loving films and the history of them. So being a bit of a film geek, I jumped at the chance to get on the list for the tour around Hyde Park Picture House.  

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I’m sure Leeds folk don’t need any introduction, but for those who don’t know this gem the Hyde Park Picture House was first opened in 1914, with self-titled name ‘the cosiest cinema in Leeds’, a title they still try to hold up to even now. It’s been a city landmark ever since, and even though I live nowhere near the Hyde Park area, I still come to watch films here. It’s a pretty special place! Apart from being able to wander the theatre freely and admire its beauty, one of the joys of the visit was having a sneaky peek in the projection room and get close up to their 35mm projectors. Only three exist in Leeds now, two here and one in the Cottage Road Cinema. Of course, they’ve had to keep up with the times and go digital too, but it’s still the old school stuff that does it for me. Ever since watching the classic Cinema Paradiso I’ve always been intrigued about what goes on in that room. The projectionist, who also works at Bradford’s National Media Museum had been in the job for the past fifty years, definitely a job for life!

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I really enjoyed listening to people who know these institutions inside and out. It’s a great way of getting to know more about the cultural heritage of your local area, it was so well worth doing! The added bonus is that all the tours are completely FREE!

http://www.heritageopendays.org.uk
http://www.templeworksleeds.com
http://www.hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk
http://www.nationalmediamuseum.org.uk

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Stuzzi Residency @ Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen

The month of August had seen a bit of a break at the Belgrave in terms of major food goings-on, without Street Feast and Laynes brunch as Beacons Festival took the deserved attention of the parties involved. Well this evening was the start of the food event to put that right with Stuzzi’s Kitchen Takeover!

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Who are Stuzzi? – a team of four named Harvey, Tom, Jimbob and James. If you’ve been to Salvo’s Salumeria you may have seen some of these guys before as this is where Tom, Jimbob and Harvey learned their trade, developing this passion for Italian food. 

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What’s the concept? – small plates of goodness based on Italian classics, produced using the best sustainable, seasonal ingredients from Italy treated simply.  

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Menu –  The guys at Stuzzi had been tempting people for the last couple of months with photos of their delights on social media, so when they published their menu, I literally thought I’d died and gone to heaven! Arancini balls….filled with ragu! Fritto Misto – you know how much I love deep fried stuff! Meatballs – which carnivore doesn’t love a good meatball, I make a killer meatball dish at home, but this was special! It went on….

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The Stuzzichini Misto sharing box (£15) was ALWAYS going to be the way to go for my friend Alice and I, and after just a few minutes our food was brought over in a box, all laid out just wanting to be devoured! As usual after a barrage of photos, I have to apologise to Alice as I always go overboard, we dove in.

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I thought we should go for the seafood dishes first as I didn’t want to give any residual heat the chance to toughen up our food. A quick squeeze of Amalfi lemon over the Fritto Misto and we were off!! We started off onto a winner – prawns were juicy, the squid was perfectly cooked, and needed only the slightest amount of pressure before it gave way in the mouth, lightly crisp on its exterior. Whitebait were gone in a few seconds and capers scattered generously gave a decent whack of additional seasoning where needed. Aioli goes perfectly with the dish and was decent, smooth and had lots of flavour. My only slight gripe was the fried courgettes were a little soft, just because they were underneath. Probably not the easiest to eat, but I suppose that what hands are there for.

Fritto Misto
Fritto Misto

Next up was the Seppia Nero,  even though we didn’t eat this straight away the cuttlefish remained tender and hadn’t become chewy. Quite a rich dish, it was great for sharing and we loved the bread it came with!

Seppia Misto
Seppia Misto

Pasta was our third course – Orecchiete with N’Duja to be exact, the al dente pasta was covered with a well flavoured tomato sauce, sweetness came from red onion and there a warming heat from the N’Duja, which as expected melted into the tomato sauce. It certainly gave my cheeks a bit of a glow.

Orecchiette con N'Duja
Orecchiette con N’Duja

Meatballs followed – now these were a little different than the norm, as these gems were made with beef and Mortadella in a rich tomato sauce, once again a gentle heat accompanied them. More than adequate in terms of size, it was great to see that they were moist throughout, whilst still being packed with meat and flavour!

Manzo E Mortadella Polpette
Manzo E Mortadella Polpette

Oh no, this was our last course….but we ended on a good one! The Arancini, these bad boys are made with saffron risotto filled with a meat ragu. Not only do I love risotto, I love ragu and they are covered breadcrumbs and fried….come on!!!! These were absolutely delicious and during the first bite I was already being a little embarrassing and saying how good they were. The risotto was unctuous and paired brilliantly with the ragu, both had their parts to play and didn’t overshadow the other. I was gutted I had to share and could easily have popped a few more in my mouth before going home.

Arancini
Arancini

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We also got chance to have a little bit of snackage (don’t think it’s a real word, but who cares), on their puffed pig skin. Crackling to me is one of the best things ever and this was crisp, salty and yummy!

Puffed pig skin
Puffed pig skin

We didn’t order the Zeppole, but I tried a little taster and it was light and moreish, an Italian deep fried doughnut covered in cinnamon sugar. 

Zeppole
Zeppole

I thought it was great, the team are obviously very passionate about their food and know what they are doing!! Also at £15 – great value too! 

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Stuzzi are opening a permanent base in Harrogate soon and I can’t wait to go and get the full experience!!

Stuzzi residency is on till Friday, then if you haven’t gorged yourself on every bit you can get your mouth around, I’m sure that won’t be the case, they’ll be spoiling us Leeds folk at Belgrave’s Street Feast too. 

http://www.belgravemusichall.com
1A Cross Belgrave St
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS2 8JP
0113 234 6160
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Stuzzi/356068864465742?ref=ts&fref=ts
http://www.salumeria-stuzzi.com/home.html

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My travel highlights of Yorkshire

Yorkshire is the UK’s largest county and I think it’s a great place to live in! There’s no bias going on here, as I’ve got no reason to be; especially because I’m not from here. However, after moving to Leeds in 2000, my penchant for a good old day trip has allowed me get to know the place a bit better.

When I thought about the old-school stereotypes often associated with Yorkshire, the phrase ‘flat-cap and whippet’, Last of the Summer Wine, Yorkshire Pudding and Wensleydale cheese, amongst others, sprung to mind. These were things that as a person uneducated on the area had thought before actually living here. But there’s so much more to the county, and it has a great deal to offer with coastal regions, National ParksAreas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and loads of cultural and historic landmarks.

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As you can imagine with food, I’ve documented much of what I’ve seen with photographs, literally thousands. I often look back, open an album and happily day dream about trips and mini jaunts around the county. So I thought it’d be a nice idea to share some of the places I’ve enjoyed visiting, I hope you don’t mind. Being the largest in the country, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see and do everything on offer in Yorkshire, but here’s a selection of the places that are memorable to me.

There’s no order as such; I’ve just started with landmarks in Leeds and then worked my way outwards.

Kirkstall Abbey - I used to live just up the road in Leeds and see this gem every day. With the River Aire running alongside the grounds surrounding the abbey, it’s an amazing sight whether strolling through the park, driving past or nowadays when I run passed. The abbey and grounds are still used for local cultural events, such as monthly Kirkstall Deli Market and yearly held Classical Fantasia. One memory that’ll always stick in the mind was a friend’s birthday celebrated with a sports day in the grounds! Three-legged, sack, egg and spoon and wheel barrow races galore all went on, all whilst swans gracefully swam passed us!

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Kirkstall Abbey

Bolton Abbey is slap bang in the Yorkshire Dales on the banks of the River Wharfe. With the Priory ruins surrounded by beautiful countryside, and mile after mile of footpaths. There’s plenty of space to explore and relax in, whatever age you are, I always like to test my nerve and cross the river using the 57 stepping stones which span it. The Strid Wood down the river is another lovely part to see if you get the chance.

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Bingley Five Rise Locks - a well known landmark of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, it first opened in the 1700’s and is operated by long-standing lock keeper Barry Whitelock MBE.  Five Rise Locks are the tallest set of locks in the country.

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Bingley Five Rise Locks

Yorkshire is crazy lucky to have so much art and creativity in abundance, across the region. Highlights include The Yorkshire Sculpture Triangle; made up of the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, The Hepworth Museum, Leeds Art Gallery and the Henry Moore Institute. If that’s not enough, Salts Mill built by Sir Titus Salt in Saltaire is home to the art of David Hockney.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park is one of the best, if not the best, outdoor art space currently in the UK, just this year it was named Art Museum of the Year 2014, by the Art Fund. With indoor galleries, acres of beautiful parkland and the River Dearne in West Bretton, they showcase contemporary and modern art from some of the world’s leading artists. There’s always something new to see and experience and is one of my favourite places in the county.

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Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Hepworth Museum - I like to think of the Hepworth as a modern beauty on Yorkshire’s landscape, located on the edge of the River Calder in Wakefield. It exhibits contemporary art, the museums central focus is the work of Barbara Hepworth, and contemporaries such as Henry Moore and Ben Nicholson. 

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Hepworth Museum

Haworth, Keighley & Worth Valley Rail - the in-laws are very knowledgeable on Yorkshire as a whole, and were the first to introduce me this part of the world. I’d watched the film The Railway Children as a child, but had no idea it was filmed on location near here. A trip to Haworth on an original steam train is the start of a lovely day out for the family! It’s not just the railway that attracts visitors, but the areas connection to the Brontë sisters, quaint shops, such as Rose & Co’s Apothecary and the rugged outdoors of Haworth. The area is synonymous with beautiful countryside, and often called Brontë country due to its links to the books. 

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Worth Valley Railway and Haworth

Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal Water Garden found near Ripon, is Grade I listed and on the prestigious list of UNESCO World Heritage sights. A Cistercian monastery, one of the largest in the England which was disbanded by Henry VIII in the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The Abbey itself is stunning to wander through, but hours could be easily spent meandering around the water gardens surrounded by follies and other hidden treasures. One of the highlights for me is the view from Anne Boleyns’ seat which shows how the River Skell winds itself around the landscape.

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Fountains Abbey

Malham Cove, Gordale Scar and Janet’s Foss in Malhamdale are three of the areas main draws. Well known for its limestone pavement, I remember spectacular views and gasping when the other half dropped off the edge to take a photo for me. Luckily he was on a lip, even to this day looking at the photo makes my stomach turn.  The unusual landscape full of Clints (limestone blocks) and Grykes (gaps) created by acid erosion have resulted in a unique environment, so you’ll often see the likes of plants Wood Sorrel and Herb Robert. Gordale Scar is something that caught me unawares, as you don’t actually see it until you walk around and into the Scar. The waterfall was formed after the Ice Age and is often climbed by many a brave soul.  Then a short walk away is waterfall Janet’s Foss, which carries the water from Gordale Beck into a pool. 

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Malhamdale

Knaresborough - this North Yorkshire market town is found around the River Nidd, Knaresborough Castle and Mother Shipton’s Cave are well-known landmarks easily within reach on a day trip. The view of the aqueduct spanning the river is stunning, and definitely worth a moment of anyone’s time for a photo opportunity. Other local gems York, Harrogate and Ripon are close by.

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Knaresborough

Skipton Castle - I love Skipton Castle! I’m a big castle fan anyway, I don’t know why, I just love ‘em and have visited quite a few! This one is particularly special because at over 900 years old it’s been very well preserved and still has it’s roof intact! When you visit you get an excellent map which sends you on a trail around the castle to explore. The area of Skipton is lovely in itself and this year came top in The Sunday Times’s annual survey to find the 101 Best Places to Live in Britain, not bad eh?!

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Skipton Castle

Ribblehead Viaduct - the 24 arches of this viaduct is an attraction of the Settle-Carlisle Railway.  The train journey provides you with lots of beautiful landscapes, such as Bingley Five Rise Locks and the Three Peaks Ingleborough, Whernside and Pen-y-Ghent.

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Ribblehead Viaduct

Brimham Rocks in Nidderdale is where’ll you find unusual rock formations, some seem to balance as if by magic. The other half remembers visiting as a child and is often frequented by families as it’s a fab day out with tonnes of exploring potential. Views stretch out as far as 40 miles in some parts and throughout the year, the views change as plant types change with the seasons. A few miles away is the delightful Pateley Bridge too.

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Brimham Rocks

Rievaulx Abbey - one of county’s most beautiful abbey ruins, found in the North Yorks Moor National Park, close to Helmsley and has the River Rye running nearby. I just love how beautiful and peaceful the place is!

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Rievaulx Abbey

Yorkshire is fortunate to benefit from some beautiful coastal areas, such as Whitby and Scarborough, all have a unique character of their own and great fish and chips! Whitby with their ever present red-roofed houses, Whitby Abbey and the 199 steps which need to be ascended to reach it, for those lovers of fish and chips the famous The Magpie Cafe is a landmark.

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Walking from Filey to Scarborough

Scarborough with two beaches (North and South) separated by a rocky headland where Scarborough Castle is found. Nearby popular landmarks include Filey and Flamborough Head.

Scarborough
Scarborough

Now as you can imagine with Yorkshire being so vast, looking after it is by no means an easy task, so Yorkshire Water has put together a plan called Blueprint to ultimately ‘take better care of our little part of the world’ and try to do their bit. Such as improving the quality of water at our beaches to increase the number achieving blue flag status. Make sure the regions sewers and reservoirs are well maintained and working with the Environment Agency to improve the areas natural environment. Hopefully the work they’ve already done and plans they have for the future will bring even more tourism and draw in new businesses to the county.

So if you’ve got this far, I’ll just say ‘thanks for reading!’ I personally think any investment to improve the area is fantastic, and as part of writing this post and looking at the county, it’s given me a thirst to explore the region even further. I know I’ve only scratched the surface of the beauties in Yorkshire, where in the county do you love to visit and why? I’d like to read some of your ideas!

DISCLAIMER: I am writing this post to promote Yorkshire as I’ve always loved the area and what it has to offer, part of this was to mention Yorkshire Water’s Blueprint for Yorkshire as a sponsored post.

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Manjit’s Kitchen Yellow Horsebox Launch Party!

Manjit’s Kitchen had their official launch party today (31st August), to celebrate their successful crowdfunder campaign. The reasons for the campaign have been spoken about on many occasions, but if you are unaware of why click here to read what Manjit and Michael have been through.

Having seen their yellow horse box being used at a number of events the last month or so, it was truly a fantastic sight seeing it in all its glory, basking in glorious sunshine on the last day of August. From what was an horrendous act of vandalism to Manjit and Michael’s property, they’ve managed with the support of family and friends to convert a horse box into an Indian style chaat station.

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The venue for the celebration was Wharf Chambers, I’d arrived whilst the sun was blazing, the horse box looked great, and to keep Manjit’s Kitchen company were two well-known fellows The Grub and Grog Shop and That Old Chestnut. Therefore plenty to get your teeth into! 

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My friend Alice and I were gonna try and get a bit of everything from everyone if possible, so with a 3 for £10 combo from Manjit’s, it was a no brainer. We’d be fools not to indulge, going for the Watermelon chaat, Samosa Chaat and Avocado Pani Puri.

The thing with Manjit’s food for me is it combines great elements together, without making me crave meat, and that’s saying something considering I’m such a hungry carnivore. The mix of textures, heat, sharpness and fresh flavours in Manjit’s food always brings people, including me  back for more without fail!

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The Grub and Grog Shop had two corkers on the menu with Beetroot in stout, and Courgette & chilli fritters. Bloody gorgeous the pair of them.  The beetroot lovely and sticky from the stout, whilst its sweetness was still apparent, the carrot brought the acidity and I loved the malt oil, a new one on me. When I think of malt I think Horlicks, like my dad used to drink every evening. The fritters were lovely with a good kick of chilli and more malt sprinkled on top, and the herb sauce brightened up each mouthful. So good!

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That Old Chestnut were on hand for pudding, with their selection of scrumptious cakes and my favourite of theirs – Tiffin bars! I couldn’t leave without taking the last of their Chocolate and Peanut tiffin bars. 

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What a great afternoon spent seeing one of the original trailblazers in Leeds’ street food scene still showing the way!!

http://www.manjitskitchen.com

http://www.grubandgrog.co.uk

http://thatoldchestnutishere.com

Becoming a part-timer!

Hi, something a little off track today, but hopefully still relevant to the blog. Since I started writing the blog in February 2013, I’ve juggled teaching high school science with extra curricular activities; exploring new places, revisiting old ones and dining out as much as possible along the way. This had always been a part of my life since finishing university and was always something I’d enjoyed, but without the whole sharing my thoughts and opinions on the stuff, until the blog was born.

On the 1st September, quite a big thing will happen in my life, maybe not for you, but for me it is; after 14 years of teaching high school science full-time, I go part-time. The decision hasn’t been taken lightly or quickly, it’s something that has been brewing for many years and finally after much thought and discussion with the other half it was about time I did something I REALLY wanted to do.  Not just do something I was supposedly good at, but something I actually had a love for. The people who know me best have heard me harking on about this for years, so it’s about time something was done about it.

Having had a long think about the blog, part of the reason why I have a passion for food and especially eating out on my travels is because I love visiting different places, whether at home or abroad. I didn’t have a gap year before, or after University, so the opportunity to do the whole travelling abroad thing never arose. Becoming a high school teacher straight after five years at university means I’ve been in the education system for 34 years and counting! So from September, 5 days of hard graft change to 2 days, but I will have to manage my time to not allow school life to leak into my newly acquired free time, like it usually does. Otherwise, what’s the point!

So, what am I going to do with my free time?

Ah, now that’s THE question I have been trying to answer forever it seems. I don’t think I’ve ever known what I really wanted to do, or maybe it’s just fear. Who knows?!

Parental thoughts of me becoming a classical musician were born from playing piano to the highest levels as a child, this wasn’t to be. My first love was and probably is art, and everything to do with the subject. It was my favourite subject at school and I was surrounded by teachers, who looking back were inspirational. This word is used a lot in education, but they were for many reasons, in particular Karl Newlands, who was my A’level Art teacher. Within that there’s always been a passion for photography, which I probably never realised in my youth. My Dad’s 35mm SLR was off limits to me, so at high school I’d often borrow an unused camera from home to take photos of my friends and I, firstly using 110mm film, then 35mm point and shoot. Throughout university and to this very day, it’s rare I don’t have a camera with me, nowadays the SLR to visually document anything and everything on my travels.

So in terms of the blog, having a reduced salary means I’ll need to be more thoughtful about where I eat and the frequency at which the reviews are done. No more, just going out because I want to at a moments notice….maybe. I’ll need to be more strict with myself! 

Being so absorbed in A Tale of Two Sittings the last 18 months or so I’d wondered if just talking about food, which is a massive thing in my life, was all that I was about, even with the other interests and hobbies I have. I think for me it’s all about fear, being scared about what I want to do in life, will I be any good at it etc, etc….

I haven’t completely got my head around it, but content wise, I’d like to start talking more about places I visit/explore, it’s something I’ve always done in my spare time, but never anything I’ve really spoken or written about, I’ve just taken thousands of photos. I hope you’ll support me in this.

I’m not sure whether to link it into A Tale of Two Sittings, or have two separate blogs. Any thoughts??

Having not done a Fine Arts degree, there’s always been something missing and the regret still exists, so with this in mind I’d really like to do something more within photography, learn as much as I can and hone my skills, do some courses and learn. What this will lead to I’m not sure…I’ve always enjoyed photographing friends weddings, travelling adventures and food so I don’t know yet. People in the past have very kindly complemented me on my photos, which has always been appreciated, so I must be doing something right.

For those of you who are already doing, or know exactly what they want to do, and have a clear idea of how to get there I really admire you. I hope to get there in the future. You’ve just got to bear with me….

A Leeds based blog written by a girl from Wales who enjoys good food and wine.

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