by Fiona Duncan-Steer

Recent Posts

La Piel

La Piel

La Piel – meaning ‘skin’ in Spanish is the newly launched brand by Anne Turner- Harrod of Nottingham, an experienced therapist specialising in natural, organic and holistic treatments using products containing only essential oils and paraben free ingredients. I recently visited Anne at her new […]

De Vere Orchard Hotel & Bramley’s Brasserie

De Vere Orchard Hotel & Bramley’s Brasserie

Bramley’s Brasserie pays homage to the history and origins of the famous Bramley apple, as the story goes that its location at the Nottingham University Park in Beeston, is where twelve cloned trees are situated, derived from the original Bramley apple tree based in Southwell, […]

The Cornerhouse Experience

The Cornerhouse Experience

Nottingham’s Cornerhouse could strongly be classed as the entertainment hub of the city and has long been a popular destination for all ages, offering various eateries, bar and leisure facilities and fun for all the family…

My most recent visit included lunch at Wagamama- a restaurant I have long been meaning to try but never quite got around to, cocktails at Chiquitos- a place I love for food, but have never thought of for cocktails and then a flutter in Funstation – we’ll come to that later…

Wagamama have recently to my delight launched a vegan /vegetarian menu, with a page of dishes for each dietary need, there really has never been so much choice for those who follow the ‘V’ sign and I had one of the first dibbs at sampling some of the dishes.

As a Wagamama novice I noticed pretty much everyone in the restaurant were using their chopsticks, so right there and then I committed to doing the same, only to swap to my fork half way through my Udon noodles (they were so yummy I didn’t have the patience with myself to eat one noodle and one pea at a time) and I don’t think stabbing a edamame bean with my chopstick counts as acceptable- more practise needed.

The service I have to say is cracking- we were greeted straight away upon entering the busy bustling venue, then shown a choice of seating – we chose the high stools at the back by the wall- cosy.  We were then given menus and acknowledged over the way by our waiter again, giving us the signal he knew we were ready to order drinks.

Drinks came -a glass of plum wine and a mango and coconut sparkling juice- very refreshing.

As ‘starters’ don’t exist at Wagamama, we went with it and ordered our main course with a side of salad and then opted to share a dessert which was more than enough.

After an explanation from the kind waiter on what exactly Udon noodles were in comparison to rice noodles (he even fetched two examples from the kitchen to show me) I opted to try the udon’s and I’m glad I did as they were really delicious with a chewy texture and came in the form of a vegan chowmein – Yasai Yaki Soba, which was a good sized portion of noodles with mushrooms, peppers, beansprouts, white and spring onions, garnished with fried shallots, pickled ginger and sesame seeds – a dish I will definitely have again.

My dining partner went for a vegetarian dish which looked and tasted equally delicious- Yasai Katsu Curry which was sweet potato, aubergine and butternut squash coated in crispy panko breadcrumbs, covered in an aromatic curry sauce, served with sticky white rice and a side salad. We also shared a Raw salad, which was a selection of mixed leaves, edamame beans, baby plum tomatoes, seaweed and pickled mooli, carrot and red onion, topped with fried shallots and finished with the Wagamama house dressing- again very impressive.

For dessert we shared the Fig & Coconut Cheesecake, which was a delightful sweet finish to a delightful experience and I look forward to returning again very soon.

Next stop was Chiquito’s for afternoon cocktails, as we arrived, we couldn’t have been given a friendlier welcome by the manager who showed us to a sunny table by the window and handed us the large menu and offered us Nachos to which we politely declined on this occasion following a hearty lunch.  A Pina Colada and Coconut Margherita were the ones for us- well why not, we were sat in the sun and felt the need to co-operate with the holiday vibe.  Absolutely delicious were both cocktails – very creamy and just the right amount of everything in there, served with of course the standard attractive tropical garnish – I will most definitely think about Chiquitos for cocktails now going forward when I visit again for food, as being an existing fan of the Mexican restaurant I would also recommend visiting for the tasty, well priced food.

 

Funstation was our last and final stop on the Cornerhouse tour and we had tons of fun in this place- well that is the point isn’t it?  As it was half term, there were lots of families there with their young children , but clearly the adults were enjoying the games just as much if not more than the little ones…The way it works is that you purchase a Fun Station card ( like a credit card) which is loaded with points at the till point- as much as you want to spend and then you swipe your card at each game/attraction which deducts the relevant amount of points in order for you to play (each game costs different amounts).  My firm favourite was the basketball shot- being an ex centre forward at school, I was pleased to see I hadn’t lost my touch and its actually really easy to become very competitive!  Also a favourite of ours was the motion master – with various themes to choose from including a rally race and the grand canyon rollercoaster, as well as the modern version of a coconut shy featuring laughing light up clowns, with the objective to pelt with a red plastic balls- a great stress reliever!

All in all The Cornerhouse gets my vote for an all round great place to visit if you want entertainment all under one roof- great food, great cocktails and great fun.

Fiona Duncan- Steer

 

 

 

The Botanist West Bridgford – New Vegan Menu

The Botanist West Bridgford – New Vegan Menu

I was delighted to discover that yet another Nottingham restaurant has launched their own separate vegan menu – something I never thought I’d see in my lifetime of struggling with very limited choice over the years when dining out… Of course I took the opportunity […]

Las Iguanas Nottingham

Las Iguanas Nottingham

Popular South American restaurant Las Iguana’s in Nottingham recently underwent a refurbishment and as such decided to host a VIP re-launch and menu taster to celebrate… Las Iguana’s has always been one of my favourites de to its ‘out of town’ feel, exotic interior and […]

Phantom Of Love @ Byron’s Brasserie, Colwick Hall

Phantom Of Love @ Byron’s Brasserie, Colwick Hall

Byron’s Brasserie is an absolute hidden gem within the beautiful historic Colwick Hall-  the ancestral home of Lord Byron himself-

A relatively intimate sized restaurant with a traditional style cosy bar area, Byron’s staff always offer a warm welcome and a tentative service throughout which I cannot fault.

My husband and I recently visited the brasserie to sample the Phantom Of Love Valentines menu and what a delight.  The chef’s once again did not disappoint with their creative and colourful three course menu, with a superb quality selection on offer from Lobster thermidor mousseline with ginger jelly to cote de beuf with a medley of turned, roasted vegetables, all presented like a piece of artwork.

What’s more the menu is split into Act’s – taking inspiration from of course the theatrical world and in particular the ever famous musical- Phantom Of The Opera- the epitome of romance to celebrate this time of year with a loved one.

Act 1 for us consisted of Rillettes of duck with confit cranberries, chutney, rocket salad and crostini’s and for myself the vegetarian option of Goats cheese croquettes, caramelised nut tuile, apple salad & beetroot puree– superb!

Both dishes were served on slates and were a little piece of art in themselves, vibrant colours, careful placement of each ingredient and every individual flavour really took its place and worked so well together as a whole, in particular the vegetarian starter, which combined sweet with savoury, incorporating the caramelised nut tuile with the salad and cheese, which was a first for me and something I’d most definitely go for again.

Act 2 had to be the 8oz sirloin steak served with fat ‘jenga’ style chips and the traditional flat cap mushroom and tomato to my husband’s delight the chips though extremely chunky were cooked right through to perfection and I was told the steak was a ten out of ten.  Peppercorn sauce and onion rings on the side were an added bonus for the dish.

As a vegetarian I opted for the Wild mushroom & spinach pithivier, served with new potatoes, asparagus & baby leeks. This was a good sized pastry dish with a nice selection of wild mushrooms hidden beneath the pie lid and the well seasoned vegetables accompanied this perfectly.

Act 3- Consisted of a fine selection of desserts – what a treat, we really did not know where to start, however the top of the list won and we went for the Fine apple tart, butterscotch sauce, vanilla ice cream & brandy snap tuile –to share.

Delicious in every way and one of my favourites as a dessert, but with the addition of a delightfully chewy brandy snap, which really did make this dish extra special and beautiful to look at.

This menu is concluded with coffee and petit fours should you have enough room and at just £35 per person, it is an absolute no brainer for this Valentine’s Day- bookings are being taken now, I highly suggest you don’t miss out.

Fiona Duncan

 

 

 

Physiotherapy with Arcadia

Physiotherapy with Arcadia

When I’m offered the chance of an hour long massage, I very rarely decline and so I took myself off to see the lovely Kathryn Priest of Arcadia Physiotherapy, who has very recently opened her new studio on Mansfield Road in Nottingham. Kathryn gives a […]

Mojito time at Revolution, Hockley

Mojito time at Revolution, Hockley

The Mojito box comes with everything you need to create Mojitos for yourself, delivered right to your table… In true Revolution style, this innovative idea really does work- gone are the days of waiting at the bar for your one cocktail to be made up […]

Fire & Ice Facial @ Angels Twelve

Fire & Ice Facial @ Angels Twelve

The Fire and Ice Facial is a popular treatment amongst A-list Hollywood celebrities right now including Halle Berry and Gwyneth Paltrow and is the bestselling treatment at the Four Seasons, Beverley Hills and I can see why…

A non-surgical, non-evasive treatment which focuses on resurfacing the skin, reducing fine lines and encouraging cellular renewal, I visited angels Twelve to try out the Fire and Ice Facial..

Great for those with normal/combination skin right through to those with problematic skin, this facial suits all skin types and is easily accessible at Nottingham salon Angels Twelve based on Porchester road in Mapperley.

Joanna the dermatologist is extremely knowledgeable, explaining everything along the way, putting you at ease as she applies each part of the treatment.  A quick consultation takes place prior and then it begins.

I lay on the couch and my skin was thoroughly cleansed to rid it of any makeup residue and general day to day grime skin tends to pick up.  Next the first part of the facial is applied- the ‘fire’, which smells just like gingerbread- very appropriate for this time of year!

The Fire and Ice facial is clinically formulated using the purest grade pharmaceutical ingredients and is divided into two treatment masques- ‘Fire’ and ‘Ice’.  The intensive resurfacing masque (The ‘fire’ part of the treatment) is formulated with Sugar Cane Extract, which is a potent natural source of Glycolic acid as well as Retinol (Vitamin A) and Niacinamide (Vitamin B3).

Joanna said I would soon start to feel a tingling sensation which took a while to kick in but then it came and gradually got stronger.  I was asked if I was ok throughout the application as it was left on my face for a few minutes and after two or three minutes it did start to feel hot but still bearable, I was asked to rate it out of ten and I was at around an eight with one more minute to go… The masque was then removed with water which did make it go hotter momentarily, however it was only temporary and Joanna then quickly applied the second part of the treatment- the ‘ice mask’ which immediately cooled down my face and felt fantastic.  This mask was easily applied and left on for around fifteen minutes to really sink and soak into my skin.

The Rejuvenating Masque (The ‘ice’ part of the facial), is formulated with potent antioxidants, sodium Hyaluronate (Hyaluronic Acid), Aloe Vera, Green Tea, Grape seed and Rosemary Extract which both soothes and hydrates nourishing the skin as it soaks in.

I then to my delight received a face massage before the masque was removed and replaced with a combination of cosmeceutical serums and crèmes which left my skin feeling revived and refreshed.  As I looked at the results in the mirror I noticed a natural glow to my skin and the bags under my eyes had tightened –always a bonus!

I was told I looked radiant by a few people in the days following the treatment and my makeup went on my skin much better than before.

I would recommend the Fire and Ice Facial to anyone looking for a refreshing uplift to the skin to restore luminosity, those with dehydrated skin or uneven complexions.  We all go through those times of feeling as though our face needs to be bought out from the dullness and into the light, in particular in the winter months and this treatment most certainly does the job.

Angels Twelve also have a hair salon and I recently visited Shannon for a blow dry as I had a special occasion to show up for later that day…

After washing my hair using Label M products which by the way smell divine, I was seated, offered a fruit tea and was blow dried within the hour.  Angel curls were then put into my hair to finish using a wide wand and finished with hairspray.  The tousled beach waves look lasted me into the evening for another event I went onto attend and even lasted the next day too, which was great.

The team at angels Twelve are very friendly and welcoming and I wouldn’t hesitate to return in the near future.

Fiona Duncan

 

Do Yoga with Debs

Do Yoga with Debs

This year I decided to reconnect with a favourite of mine that I have been doing for years but somehow lost along the way – yoga. Debs O’Brien runs a fantastically different kind of class based in Nottingham- specifically at the recently renovated Scene Studios […]


My Diary

Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle

Belvoir Castle has been on my list to visit for years and so when I was recently invited for a tour of the castle and gardens this June, I was delighted to accept…

My fiancé and I checked the weather leading up to our Sunday visit and were pleased to see a scorcher of a day was forecast, so we planned a picnic with our new wicker basket, complete with china crockery and napkins – well if you’re going to do it, do it properly!

After checking into the ticket office, we walked through a tree lined pathway, which led to the crossroads to which you could choose which garden/trail you visited – we opted to do ‘The Duchesses Garden’ and a good choice it was to, as this turned out to be our most favourite of them all and the destination choice of our picnic a little later in the day.

The four acre garden (rediscovered in 1970 by Frances, the Dowager Duchess of Rutland) is within a valley with stone steps leading down to a small pond with an elegant statue at the foot and beautiful flowers, plants and trees along the way.  The top of the hill featured an unusual structure- ‘The Moss House’, built in 1818 and restored again in 2014.

We then found ourselves in ‘The Hermits Garden’, a seven acre plot adjoining ‘The Duchesses Garden’, which we were pleased to learn had just undergone a huge clearing, regeneration programme, which is clearly an ongoing project and something we look forward to revisiting in years to come, when it has matured.

After doing a U-turn, we then found ourselves in ‘The Japanese Woodland’, aptly names due to the amount of Japanese and Chinese plants in the area.   As the area is again within a  valley dip, it provides a natural shelter for many exotic plants that thrive there.

A steep walk led us to ‘The Rose Garden’, where for the first time the astounding first sight of Belvoir Castle is awaiting- what an impressive view!

Various statues live in the grounds of Belvoir, including the striking statue of ‘Winter’ by Caius Gabriel Cibber and a further six statues in ‘The Rose Garden’, which amazingly are some of the oldest statues in England and the current roses you see there were all planted by the current Duchess of Rutland- Emma.

The pathway from the rose garden then led us around the castle, offering beautiful views over Leicestershire, eventually leading to the castle entrance…

Pre-booked tours of the castle do take place regularly (timings are all on their website), however we opted to take a leisurely walk around ourselves and there were several friendly tour guides along the way to offer assistance or answer any questions, advising the best route to take to ensure you didn’t miss anything.

Interestingly the family of Belvoir have resided in the castle unbroken for almost a thousand years and is the ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland.  The land was a gift from William The Conqueror and many works of art and portraits don the walls of past kings and queens, giving you a real feel of history as you wander around the ornate rooms.  My most favourite room was the ‘Elizabeth Saloon’, intended for ladies to reside to after dinner.  With gold gilt, plush cherry red and coral fabrics and extravagantly designed furniture, including of course a chaise longue or two.

It was also nice to see modern photographs of the current family in each room, giving you a real feel for the families who have resided there through the ages. Interestingly the castle was given its French name ‘Belvoir’ meaning ‘beautiful view’ (now pronounced ‘beaver’).

At the end of our tour, we visited the castle gift shop and naturally bought some Belvoir shortbread to take home, however there were also a lovely selection of homemade jams- made by the Duchess herself as well as several country style items on sale.

A tea room can also be found at the end of the tour offering afternoon /cream tea and a selection of refreshments and lunch items.

As mentioned we opted for a picnic in the beautiful surroundings of the Duchesses garden and the weather did not disappoint, we managed to sunbathe as did a few others in the area and thoroughly enjoyed our first visit to Belvoir, which most certainly won’t be our last.

Entrance into the castle and gardens on a combined ticket costs just £15 for Adults and £8 for children aged 4-16 (children under 3 are free).  It is also possible to just have garden tickets at a cost of £8 for adults & children are free.

Fiona Duncan, RSViP

 

 

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