Visit: Belper Fair, Derbyshire

The last weekend in October can only mean one thing: Belper Fair!

Bake: Vegetarian Sweet Potato and Goats' Cheese Pie

Amy's got a fabulous recipe for you today!

A Love Affair With... Soap Operas


When you say you enjoy soaps to people, they sometimes turn their noses up at you. But, really, let’s focus on the good things that continuing dramas offer.


Unless you were living in a cave last week, or aren’t interested in soaps in the slightest (in which case, why are you reading this?!) you’ll have noticed that the ‘Northern soaps’ i.e. Emmerdale and Coronation Street, both had exciting action-packed weeks.

Seriously, if you’re yet to watch Emmerdale’s #NoReturn week, then go to ITV Hub and have a gander now! It’s nothing short of spectacular!

The stunts looked like something out of a Hollywood movie. The writing was brilliant, the acting was fantastic, and the directing from Duncan Foster was simply beautiful. Last week’s Emmerdale disaster was also branded the most-expensive soap stunt ever. So, kudos to them for showing the rest of the world how it’s done. A 19 car pile-up can’t have been easy to orchestrate, and I’ve heard it only took them 8 or 9 days to film. Last week wasn’t all about Emmerdale though. Here’s a little bit of goss…


The Explosion


Coronation Street had a special stunt week themselves, with David Platt going off the rails while seeking revenge for his wife’s stabbing.

I was lucky enough witness the explosion being filmed about six weeks ago. Purely randomly though. By chance, I was walking along Salford Quays, on my way to a work placement. I was renting an apartment there which overlooked the set. It was about half 9 in the morning, I was minding my own business and then ‘Bang!‘ Needless to say, it really made me jump, but all I could see was a cloud of black smoke emerging from the set and floating up into the sky.

The explosion that just went off at the Coronation Street set as I walked past didn’t half make me jump! 😂 pic.twitter.com/KHSnNu7Vzc

— Katie Brown (@katiee_brown) August 25, 2016

At the time, that’s all I knew. I didn’t even know which particular characters were involved until people got in touch on Twitter to let me know it was David Platt. Until last night’s transmission, I’d no idea that half the cast were present at the time and that the explosion I’d seen took place right outside the Rovers. Or even that Poor Anna Windass was on fire.

So, why do I think soaps are great? Here are a handful of reasons:


Tackling Important Issues


Soaps discuss and confront issues that often go unnoticed by drama series. Let’s look at Ashley’s dementia storyline in Emmerdale. It’s being incredibly well-written, and well-acted by the wonderful John Middleton. The episode that focussed on him on Thursday was nothing short of tragic to watch. It is incredibly sad to watch a much-loved character slowly fade away, and the character’s visible frustration with his condition only adds to the audience’s sadness. Dementia is something that unfortunately affects are large swathe of the population, so it’s only right that soaps highlight such issues. Soaps don’t generally tend to glamourise certain health conditions either, which is incredibly important for an accurate portrayal.


Humour Alongside Pathos


Life is never a walk in the park, and soaps depict that brilliantly. Sometimes, you have to find humour in situations that otherwise wouldn’t be funny. A good example of this is Emmerdale’s second episode this week, with Paddy and Marlon dressing up as a pair of rabbits and singing that rubbish song. (Explaining it simply doesn’t do it justice.) Coronation Street also has a fantastic reputation for having humourous storylines, even if they’re not really prevalent on the show right now.

Realism, with a Touch of Surrealism


So soaps aren’t always totally realistic. How many streets/squares/villages have regular disasters? Plane crash, tram crash, then a massive car pile-up? Not an everyday occurance in a small geographic area, thankfully. You’d have to pretty unlucky to be constantly caught up in such events, but they’ve got to keep their viewing figures up somehow, haven’t they?

So why do some people shun soaps? It is a class thing? Is it a gender-specific thing? Some people don’t see them as a valuable form of escapism or entertainment, and that’s fine. You can’t please all of the people all of the time; but I hope you know how much you missed out last week.

Do you love soaps too? Or can’t you stand them? Let us know in the comments, or on Twitter!

By Katie

Put the camera away and let's get lost....


Lou explains this weekend why getting away from it all, and leaving technology well alone, is sometimes the best medicine; here she talks about her recent trip to Somerset.



During the summer (yes, I know...what summer?), I visited and stayed in Somerset. This was part of my summer job which involved going to an outdoor pursuit centre. You read it right - an outdoor pursuit centre. Now, I'm a city girl, my version of 'outdoor pursuits' consists of: petrol fumes, crowds and decrepit 1960s buildings, not fresh air, nature and rock-climbing.

I'm not going to write about how many bruises I got (unfortunately, I wasn't the winner of Sexy Legs of 2016) or about how bl**dy terrified I was of caving - but ended up loving it - or even how I was spoilt with delicious, home-cooked meals (the diet starts next year....) What I am going to write about what I saw.

Now, have you ever been to a place where the view is so spectacular that you just feel absolute peace? Have you ever been to a place where you want to take the view home to show everyone the beauty of it all? I wish I could have taken a photograph of the view but I fear even the latest camera technology could not capture that feeling of absolute awe.

"Sometimes, these views can only be captured by our own eyes."


I mentioned that I'm not going to write about what I did there but I do feel that I need to explain how I got to this view in the first place. I was on the way back from an expedition - I do love a bit of walking, it's good for the soul - it was lunch time which was quite a relief as my feet were beginning to ache. After making our way through the forest, we reached a grassy area, just as the sun began to rise through the rain and drizzle.

Luckily enough, this grass was on a steep hill, as I sat and rested - there was this view. The view of Bristol, Clifton Suspension Bridge and Wales...to me that was a view. You could see the view of life - people in cars driving along to their jobs, to their families, you could see houses and factories, where people are working, loving, being; you could see life...the world was turning.

Unless you are lucky to live in a 'beauty spot', views like this only exist on travel programmes, or Escape to the Country or even on Poldark.

I don't know exactly where I was when I saw this view. All I know I was in Somerset, that's all. Sometimes, these views can only be captured by our own eyes. They can only be special when we don't know where we are.

By Lou

Where's your favourite view?




Let us know by Tweeting us, or tagging us in a pic of it on Instagram!

Make: Vegetarian Lentil Bolognese

Amy’s first post on the blog features this healthy, hearty lentil bolognese recipe; perfect for Vegetarians and meat eaters alike!

(It’s really easy to make too!)


This bolognese is just as satisfying as its meaty counterpart, and quick and easy to prepare too! I enjoy tasty one pan dishes like this in the autumn, there’s nothing better than coming home and making a simple hearty dish to warm myself up. Chopping up the vegetables can be very therapeutic after a long hard day’s work as well. If you want to you could try adding green, yellow and/or orange peppers into the mix to add some colour to an otherwise very red bolognese.

This recipe is possible on a student budget if you buy your vegetables loose, a single tin of lentils would be more than enough and can be brought quite cheaply.

Servings: 2

INGREDIENTS:

  • 400g lentils (If you’re planning making this dish for one, you just need to halve the amount of lentils.)
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 8 cherry tomatoes
  • 5 mushrooms (chestnut or common)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 100ml water
  • 1 stock cube (I used vegetable stock)
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • Seasoning


METHOD:

  • Rinse the lentils and put to one side.
  • Chop the vegetables and garlic.
  • Boil 100ml of water.
  • Saute the onion, garlic and pepper for 5 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and mushrooms and saute for a further 10 minutes.
  • Add the water, puree, oregano and stock cube.
  • Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the lentils and stir thoroughly, seasoning to taste.
  • Simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Serve the bolognese with pasta of your choice. (I chose Spaghetti.)
  • Enjoy!
by Amy

I hope you enjoy this recipe. Let us know if you make it by tweeting us or tagging us in a pic on Instagram.

When I grow up I want to be like Ariel...

Last weekend it was speed dating, this weekend it's swimming! Join Lou on her adventures of learning how to swim and prizing her fingers from those floats.



I let go off the balls and hands recently. You may be thinking “What on earth is she on about? And do I want to know?” Too right I say….but it is all innocent, don’t you worry. For the past…ahem…two years I have been learning on how to swim. Every Tuesday, I attend an adult class where two very (and I mean, very) patient and wonderful instructors teach/coach adults to swim – either better or from the beginning.

It was only as an adult, I wanted to learn to swim. School swimming lessons was an opportunity to not to do any “proper” work and besides, the class was too big. So, I decided as my 2015 new year’s resolution to take the plunge, literally, and sign up for swimming classes. Off I went up and down the pool swimming with floats, learning to breathe, kicking my feet…I thought I would be independent (without floats) within the matter of weeks. Have you ever seen that advert in the cinema where ‘apparently’ it takes an average person (who is this average person?) around 20 lessons to learn to swim? Pffttt...



Well, as I said, roll on nearly two years and I’ve only just learnt to be independent around two months ago. Believe me, my instructors and myself tried everything to prize my fingers from those floats…noodles…a metal pole at some point….and various other equipment. But, it turned out that my fingers were tightly or rather glued on to these things, like a magnet to a fridge...

I – and we – even tried to diagnose my “problem” to this attachment problem. Am I afraid of water? Nope…I love water. Seriously, I do. I was that child, in those school swimming lessons, that was leaping into water even though I couldn’t swim. Am I afraid of drowning? Well, yes…but isn’t everybody?? Am I afraid of what may happen if I let go? Probably. Isn’t everybody?



As adults, we lose that wanderlust that we seem to have as a child where we are not afraid of the consequences; not afraid of the…ifs, buts and maybes. I don’t know how or when we lose that innocence, at some point, we learn to control ourselves and think of the consequences.

We know that if we let go, something bad may happen, which may harm ourselves or others. But, what we forget is…if we do let go, something good may happen. If I let go of the objects…then, I may float…and start to actually swim. This change of attitude came around after getting frustrated with myself – I started to compare my progress with those who were new to swimming but by the end of the lesson, started to swim like Ariel…

One should not compare with others; the rate of learning differs from person to person…but that comparison can be a good motivator to improve. I was sick of my lack of progress. I wanted to be like Ariel, so I began to focus, I stared at the wall, leapt up and let go. A huge step and gosh, it felt good!!! I survived. It was only a couple of metres but that to me was real progress. I’ve been building on that experience ever since; just little steps such as swimming more of a distance, and trying to get the arms working. It will come in time, I know, but I'm just so glad that I have finally made that leap...




What age did you learn to swim?

By Lou

Twitter | Bloglovin' | Instagram

A Love Affair With... Autumn

Ahh Autumn. You're here already. Which means the nights are drawing in, it's getting colder, and winter's hurtling towards us faster than we'd perhaps like; but let's focus on the positives of autumn instead, shall we?

For the first time ever, I've felt pretty down about the fact that we're heading into Autumn. I normally embrace it entirely, but this year's left me feeling a little miserable about it. Perhaps it's something to do with the fact that we've not really had much of a proper summer in Britain, or that I'm just not ready to let summer go.


Let's look on the bright side though, there are so many things to love about this season. From the colours on the trees, to the crisp, bright mornings, and even to the cosy evenings in. In fact, here's a short list of all the things I'm embracing about this season.


Things to look forward to in Autumn:


  • Crisp Autumnal days.
  • The colours of the leaves!
  • Comfort food.
  • The gentle pitter patter of rain hitting the windows at night.
  • Warm coats.
  • Cracking the extensive scarf and snood collection out.
  • The fact it's nearly... Christmas. (Yeah, I said it.)
  • Cosy evenings in.

What do you love about Autumn? Let us know in the comments or Tweet us!

by Katie

Speed Date with me at Table Number 5


Join Lou on her arduous journey to find her Prince Charming by embarking on several speed dating sessions.


Hands up on those who have been Speed Dating? Okay…about average….Hands up on those who have been Speed Dating a couple of times? Okay, a few down….Hands up on those who have been Speed Dating at least Five times? Nope…just me then?

For those singletons out there [which still includes me], the world of Dating and managing to capture a partner is like driving to the most beautiful place on Earth (anywhere you like, I’m flexible) and then, only to break down at the near-top of a hill in a clutch-less Ford KA. Whilst cars drive past to that place, you are waiting for an AA man to rescue you and take you to the nearest garage home. You never get to see or even visit that most beautiful place as no matter how many times you try, you cannot seem to go over that hill.

So, what can one do after years of trying? Hitch a lift? Or try to find alternative ways of transportation? After being single for a huge amount of time (to the extent, I couldn’t remember the last time a guy has taken an interest in me) I took the plunge and decided to book a place on a Speed Dating event – this was two years back....

Now, it depends on what area or city you live in, I imagine that London has exciting and unusual speed dating events there. I read about “Shhh Dating” where you date in Silence, I even read about an event where you get taught how to date at the National gallery…but in the East Midlands those events don't exist (or do they?). It seems that this is the area where tumbleweeds does not visit. Maybe, everyone in this city/region is attached; maybe we don’t want to be attached to each other...

I never thought I would find myself in this single predicament in my mid-twenties; I thought I would be at least with somebody or even, engaged. How I laugh at that thought now! I thought that Speed Dating was for sad, desperate people and that there was a reason why they were single. I had no plans to join that party…until I realised that I was on the golden invitation list. Yay!

Here I was paying my £20 to speed date with my age group and I must admit it wasn’t that bad an ordeal. I was nervous and very much alone as I attended my first, let’s call it, SD. It is true that some people attend with their friends – I can even imagine the conversation that they had over this whilst stating how “fun” it shall be. When you attending on your own, it can be quite daunting, you feel like you are billy-no-mates as you stand there at the bar drinking orange juice as you are driving. You look at your phone trying to procure the look of “I’m popular, you know” and so it begins.

You get given a sticky label with a number on it, if you are a lady, you sit at that table number and if you are a man, then you are a number that moves around. The host, in my case, the hosts explains the evening and gives out the spiel of “let’s have fun…you never know…” You get giving a mark sheet of “Date, Friend or just no” and are reminded to make sure you write your “date” names down. Now, this instruction can be complicated to fulfil as you try to make that important decision as you got to match up your decisions with their decisions in hope of getting a “match”. As I said, I have been to FIVE of them and I’m going to share a summary of what happened to me on those SD with some advice accompanying them:



SD#1 – (No Matches)

• A man explains that he cares for his Father (which is a tough job) but he is in a custody battle over his kids. Hmmm…right….Not to mention that he has a huge amount of B’O which cued four minutes of holding my breath.
• Another just TALKING to the table (yep) for FOUR minutes rather to me.
• One just writing and saying “No” in front of me….Nice…

Advice:


• Conversations exist between two or more people. I’m interested in people’s lives but if I wanted a soliloquy I would have read Shakespeare.
• Smell nice…no smell lovely…please. A good aftershave or perfume is a turn-on.
• Weren't you taught that manners cost nothing? and to have respect!

SD#2 (No matches)

This was a disaster for me; I had to speed date whilst having a mild case of food poisoning from a dodgy tuna sandwich…hmmm....let’s skip this one.

SD#3 (Two matches with two fine young men which equalled to two dates– obviously, separate)

So, by this stage, I was becoming a bit of a regular to the extent that the hosts was asking me “What was wrong with me?” or "Am I being too fussy?" Of course, being friendly, I just laughed it off but inside, I was saying “Why does something has to be wrong with me?” and "I want a decent man that smells lovely and that IS interested in me?" – I bet, no Man ever gets this insult.

In summary:

• An early twenty-something who thought he was God’s gift to women whilst telling inappropriate sexist jokes about “fucking” and “Kid Rock”…thank god, for loud background music.

Advice:

• Don’t be a dickhead….

SD#4 (One Match which lead into several rather nice dates with him)

• God’s Gift returned more gentlemanly this time but with an expression of that he is better than you…

Advice:

• See Advice for SD #3

SD#5

CANCELLED due to host being sick….thank god….



So, Five SD’s later and with some "nice" (notice, the word nice) dates along the way, I am still single. Yes, I did manage to get a quick peak over that hill and it was worth every eye full but what I want now is to get that full ogle and visit that damn beautiful place. But....what I don't want is to go on another let’s-go-and-sit-in-a-bar-ring-the-bell-talk-for-four-minutes speed dating event…unless…it’s something different (open to all “sensible” offers…) Though I did enjoy them and got to speak to some rather handsome, intelligent men it was the “aftermath” I did not enjoy…

The next day, you receive your match via text/email….you are riding “high” from the night before thinking that you had a good night but in fact…you find out you have no matches. Now, this only happened two out of the four SD’s events but for me...I decided that I’ve been on one too many and also, hoped too much. I was sick of selling myself 15 times over in one event to get a man to “like” me. However, what I have learnt is that I tried the world of SD, then found out that maybe four minutes can be one minute too long and one minute too short for all that important "chemistry".



Have you tried speed dating? How did it work out for you?


By Lou

Make: Really Simple and Delicious Flapjack Recipe!

Want to know how to make flapjacks quickly and easily? We’ve got you covered. Here’s our super simple flapjack recipe.

(Trust us, if we can make these, so can you!)


Ingredients:


  • 110g butter,
  • 40g sugar,
  • 175g oats,
  • A pinch of salt.




Method:


  1. Melt the butter, salt, and sugar together in a pan.
  2. When it’s completely melted, add the oats.
  3. Mix until all of the oats are completely covered in the mixture.
  4. Pour into a (well-greased) tin.
  5. Heat the oven to 180C, and bake them for around 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown on top.
  6. Let them cool.
  7. Cut into rectangles.
  8. Enjoy!


Sometimes, there are days when only sweet will do, aren’t there? After sampling these gorgeous treats, we’ll definitely be trying them again very soon! The only way they can be described? Sheer buttery, oaty goodness. If you try making them, we hope you enjoy them!

This post originally appeared on Katie Writes.

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