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{Review} The Brewery Tap, Abingdon-on-Thames

A few weekends ago we headed to the Brewery Tap in Abingdon for Sunday lunch with friends. We went there because we know it does good food, but more importantly for me, it does a veggie roast.

We didn’t have any starters, which was a good idea, as the main portions are incredibly generous. So much so, we nearly didn’t have room for pudding! But we persevered! The other members of the party all opted for the roast beef, though there’s plenty of choice if that’s not for you. I had a a vegetable pie and the same veg that the others had. To say the food was delicious is an understatement. It was amazing. We all agreed that it was the best Sunday roast we’d eaten in a pub. For me, the veg pie was delicious. The pastry was perfect – no soggy bottom! Plus the veg it was filled with was different to the veg in the rest of the meal so I didn’t feel like an afterthought at all. The food was so good, I didn’t hesitate to dive in, hence the fact that there’s no photo. I didn’t even stop to think about it!

Brewery Tap pudding

The pudding options are equally amazing. There’s quite a range to choose from, and I chose the profiteroles. There were more than I was expecting! They were delicious and light and were the perfect end to a lovely meal. The service was excellent and I really couldn’t fault any part of the meal. For some reason, we’ve only eaten at the Brewery Tap once before, but it’s really close to where we live! We will definitely be going back more & more after this!

If you fancy a delicious roast at the Brewery Tap, you’d best book a table, as they do sell out. You won’t be disappointed, trust me!

#BEDN ~ Blog Chat

Lots of people still don’t understand blogging. Some see it as a sort of online diary, which it can be. Others see it as living your life online, which it can also be. Personally, I see blogging as a way of sharing what I’m doing, learning new skills & being part of a community. And that’s why I do it, because I enjoy those kind of things. If you’re thinking of starting a blog or just want to know more about it, here are a few tips.

blogging tips

  • Blog because you want to and write about what you like. When you’re in a bit of a blogging funk or you just aren’t feeling it, don’t push it. It’ll come across in your writing. If I’m finding it difficult to write a blog post and it’s just not flowing, then I don’t even bother saving it as a draft. If it’s difficult to write, it’s not going to be enjoyable for my readers.
  • Blogging is harder & more time consuming than it looks. When I first started, I read a few blogs regularly, but I’d never even thought about how much time it actually takes. Not only do you have to come up with something to write about, you have to put the words down, take pictures, edit them, think about SEO, add all the tags, description & keywords etc. Then you need to share it via social media without it being boring to the people who follow you there. There’s also proof reading & previewing it to make sure it looks okay. It can take an absolute age, though some posts take less time than others. Plus, I’m not a perfectionist. My OH, who blogs over on Coffeisseur, is a real wordsmith and will often point out any typos I might have on my posts. But that kind of thing doesn’t worry me. I know it probably should, but I’ve noticed typos on the BBC website so I know I’m in good company!
  • I use WordPress as my blogging platform and am self-hosted with 1&1, though I will be moving to Krystal because their support is amazing! WordPress is a great free blogging platform that can do a lot and you can change & improve your site as your blogging skills grow. There are also lots of great online communities that can help you out if you have a problem, need people to bounce ideas off or just to connect with. Blognix is a great blogging community. They’re on Twitter, Facebook & G+, where they hold regular hangouts. There are also quite a few G+ communities that are worth checking out, including Blogging UK and Craft Blog UK for craft bloggers. The number of Twitter chats for blogging seems to grow weekly. I don’t take part in these very often, as I find Twitter chats quite overwhelming and I try not to spend too much time online during the evening, as I spend all day online! (Am starting to wonder if my eye checks & glasses can be considered an expense!)

Okay, here are a couple of pet hates I have about some blogs & websites in general:

  • Pop up boxes. Whether it’s to sign up to a conference, a newsletter, the blog in general or worse, a bloomin’ advert, I HATE pop up boxes & it’s a surefire way for me to close that tab & never return. Why? Because if I’ve visited that site, it’s because I want to see what’s on it. If I have to click about 5 times before I can get to that content, I’m out. I’m busy! Life is short! Don’t make me click unnecessarily, just give me the good stuff!
  • Continue reading links. Lots of people use a reader to manage the blogs that they read. I use Bloglovin’ because it’s easy to use & I like it. However, if you’ve got the ‘Click to continue reading’ setting on, and I have to go to the actual site, I’m not going to read that post. Why? Because I read a lot of blogs & I want the post right there in front of me. If I have to click again to continue reading it, I’m not gonna! I understand why some people have it, so people have to go directly to that post to read it and it helps you see what posts are more popular than others, etc etc, but for me, it’s a big turn off.
  • A crowded blog. Whether it’s adverts that automatically play music, a site that’s cluttered and cramped or it’s got a really busy background, then I’m probably not going to be a regular reader. Why? It hurts my eyes/ears! I look at a computer screen all day. If I’m reading your blog, it’s because I like what you’re writing. Don’t spoil it with a website that looks like it was made in the 90’s!

Obviously, how your blog looks & feels is down to you. But while you might write for yourself, it’s always good to think about the reader perspective so it’s well worth considering that & looking at it from their perspective.

Okay, I’ve been blogging for a few years now and I have some questions that I need some help with! I’d love to know your thoughts:

  1. How often do you tweet about a blog post? I only tweet about a blog post once (I also post it on my Facebook page & add it to my Google+ page when I remember). I’ve seen other bloggers tweet about it 3 – 4 times on the day that it’s published, but I’ve also seen other bloggers tweet about one post 12 – 13 times over the course of a few days. Can you tweet about your blog too much?
  2. Is there such a thing as blogging too much? Depending on time & inspiration, I’ll blog about 5 times a week, but is that too much? There are lots of blogs out there, so will people have the time to read all those posts?
  3. How much attention should I be paying to my stats & analytics? I’ve got Google Analytics, but to be honest, I don’t really look at it. I look more closely at my Jetpack stats on my blog, but they don’t affect what I write about. Should I?

I’d love to know your thoughts on blogging. If you’ve written about yours today or would like to share your views, just post in the comment section below!

A Crafty Chai at the Cake & Bake Show

On Saturday, thanks to my OH’s sister, Ali, who won me a ticket to the Cake & Bake Show, I headed to Earl’s Court to get my cake on. I’d never been before, so wasn’t sure what to expect, except cake. Lots and lots of cake!

cakeHeading up the escalators, the air was thick with sugar. Having never been to Earl’s Court before I wasn’t quite sure how everything was going to be situated. Boy, it was overwhelming! There were so many stalls and so many people! I wasn’t sure which way to go first. So, naturally, I headed straight to the lady giving out free Cadbury Chocolate Eclairs! Nice!

champers

After having a good look round to try and get my bearings, I spotted a stall that was selling cocktails. Perfect! I opted for a Rose Water Champagne cocktail, which was nice apart from the rose water. (Never really understood the whole flower flavouring thing) While I was enjoying my champers, I managed to do a little bit of celeb spotting. Apologies for the blurry photos below – Taken at a distance, while they were all doing things.

gbbo_winner gbbo apprenticeTop: Last years GBBO winner, John Waite
Middle: James & Cathryn from GBBO 2012 with Wendi James
Bottom: Apprentice runnerup, Luisa Zissman

And cake. There was so much cake. To be honest, it was quite overwhelming. I wanted to buy some cake, but wasn’t sure what to get & because it was really busy, it was quite difficult to take time to look around. Plus, there was a distinct lack of savoury products and not enough free samples in my book so I was starving! If there were samples, they were gone or hidden behind queues of people. I’m not a massive fan of queueing (unless it’s for champagne!) so I gave up on looking for freebies. What I did see was some really amazing cake creations.cake garden cupcakes burlesqueAfter walking around the show for ages, I finally decided what I wanted to buy & take home. I picked some macarons from L’orchidee Boutique Patisserie, cupcakes from Primrose Bakery and cookies from Ms Cupcake. There was an overwhelming choice of excellent cakes, all reasonably priced. And they were delicious, even after surviving a trip across London on the tube!

all the cake cookies primroseThe Red Velvet cupcake I bought from Primrose Bakery was the first one I’ve ever had and I loved it! The chocolate cupcake was really delicious, not too sickly sweet either, despite the very generous amount of icing. (My OH & I went halfsies on the cupcakes!) I was really impressed with the vegan cookies too. I had the double chocolate one and it was awesome, as were the macarons. Exquisite!

If you’re interested in baking, cakes & celeb spotting then make sure you get some tickets for next years show, as it was quite an experience. And who knows which contestants from this years GBBO you’ll see!

Recent Retro Buys

I’m not quite sure when it happened, but I’ve become obsessed with all things butterfly. I’ve been on the look for prints to hang in my study as well so if I can combine the two, then so much the better. I’ve also been looking out for different storage jars & containers that will be useful. Here’s what I’ve found so far.

Butterfly

I found this print at Lassco & knew I had to have it. It’s not very often I’m that decisive when it comes to artwork but I knew that this would look great in my room. The colours are so bright and look great against the plain frame.

ButterfliesI couldn’t believe it when I saw this in a vintage shop in Towcester. Not only were the butterflies in great condition but it was only £32, which is incredible! I know the frame isn’t up to much, but the colours of the butterflies are so bright and it was a real bargain.

Yellow

Blue Stripe Blue dotI’m so pleased that the colours on the wings are still so bright. Beautiful! Both of these will form part of display that I’m planning in my study, along with some other prints and some old family photographs – I just need to get some frames together, decide on an arrangement & get them up!

My latest buy is this gorgeous retro storage jar from Winter’s Moon. I saw a picture of it on Facebook & knew it would be great for storing my teabags in, as my old one has seen better days. As soon as it was listed in the shop, I ordered it! It’s perfect! The colours are really bright & it suits the vintage feel of our kitchen. I really like getting individual bits & bobs for our house and am on a bit of a mission with this at the moment.

Pink Jar

I’m always on the look out for different things to add to our home. Even though we’ve been here for three years, it’s a long way off being ‘done’. Whether we’re out at a vintage shop or I’m shopping online, I’m always keen to find somewhere new to look for things. If you know of any great places to shop, let me know!