Food & Adventures

Monday 16 July 2018

Stevie's Simple Soda Bread Recipe

Is there anything as nice a freshly baked bread? I don't bake bread as often as I would like as making a conventional loaf is a bit of a faff on (who has time to wait a few hours for the dough to rise?). However this is a really simple and quick bread that still has that great fresh bread smell and only takes about 40 minutes from start to finish.


250g Plain White Flour
250g Plain Wholewheat Flour
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tsp Salt
400ml Buttermilk


Put the Flour, Salt and Bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and mix together. make a well and add the buttermilk. You might not need all the buttermilk so start by adding half and mixing it in and keep adding more until all the ingredients have combined into a dough.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and form into a ball, transfer the ball onto a pre-heated baking tray (covered with baking parchment). Cut a deep cross across the middle of the dough and then dust with flour.

Bake for 30 minutes at 200ÂșC, you can check the bread is cooked through by tapping the bottom and it should sound hollow. Let the cooked bread cool on a wire rack, I like to have it when it still warm with some butter or toasted with my favourite breakfast ingredients.

Well, that's all for now.


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Thursday 12 July 2018

Sea & Soil | Amble | Brunch Review Menu

Last weekend Mrs. Cool was asked to try out a bus route from Newcastle to Berwick (It was more fun than it sounds) and one of the stops was Amble, one of our favourite coastal towns in Northumberland. I've written before about a restaurant in Amble (see here) and this was a chance to try somewhere new.

Sea & Soil is a restaurant on Queen Street, literally 2 minutes walk from the harbour. The decor is just the type I like, contemporary but with a rustic twist, they have the specials on slate tiles hanging on the wall and wooden tables for insanely instagrammable foodie pics. We managed to bag a table by the front window, gotta have natural light for that perfect shot.

We ordered our drinks first, Americano for me and Mrs. Cool, Blackcurrant Juice for Jack, Milk for Heidi and Coke for Harry. The coffee is really good, nice and strong and the biscuit was great too (you can buy the coffee beans for home from Amble harbour pods). The Brunch menu has a great selection and so many of the dishes tempted me. Next time we go I'll have to try the Eggs Bennie as this is one of my favourite Breakfasts. Mrs. Cool chose the Breakfast Roll and went with Sausage and brown sauce (the correct type of sauce for a sausage sarnie). Harry and Jack also went for this and they all loved it. The sausage was really good you tell they were good quality and it was a good sized portion.

Heidi has been going through a bit of a vegetarian phase at the minute (although she will still have chicken nuggets) so she went for the Pancakes and Syrup. Again the portion size was perfect and Heidi really loved the pancakes.

I was in the mood for Black Pudding so I went for the Sea & Soil Special which is described as "The Chef's Favourite Breakfast Ingredients" so I knew there would be Black Pudding (All Chefs love a bit of Black Pudding). I was really impressed with this, it was presented perfectly with all the items you would expect on a breakfast. Sausage, Bacon, Black Pudding, Hash Brown, Wilted Spinach, Tomato, Mushroom and Poached Egg all topped with Hollandaise Sauce. The Sausage was amazing, the Bacon really crispy and the egg was cooked to perfection. The Hollandaise was something I haven't had before on a full english but it worked great with all the meaty flavours and the Black Pudding was just what I was looking for crispy and black on the outside but still slightly red in the middle.

I'm sure we'll be back in Amble soon and the main menu at Sea & Soil looks really good too so I think we will be back to try something else.

Mrs. Cool has made a video of our day out in Northumberland, You can watch it here:

Well, that's all for now.


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Monday 9 July 2018

Horton Grange | Alfresco Lunch

Summer's here, the sun is shining so that means outdoor dining is on the cards. This week was particularly glorious so me and Mrs. Cool headed out for lunch in the sun. We originally wanted to go to The Boathouse in Blyth and sit by the harbour but when we got to Blyth it was totally misty so we headed in land to find warmer climes.

Next we headed to The Parlour in Blagdon for lunch in the garden but when we got there we were told there were no tables available outside and when we asked if we could book one for later the said they did take reservations for the garden however when we questioned why there was a reserved sign on one of the tables outside we were given some BS response so decided against giving them our custom.

Finally we arrived at Horton Grange, a Country House Hotel and Restaurant in Ponteland. The garden is really pretty and it is a great sun trap on sunny days. Even though it was a weekday afternoon, the heatstroke must have got to us and we ordered a glass of wine each and had a read of the menu.

Mrs. Cool was after a light meal so she went for the Halloumi and Roasted Pear Salad. When the salad came Mrs. Cool was disappointed that the pear wasn't roasted and it was just thin slices of raw pear. The rest of the salad was really nice and the dressing was a sweet raspberry vinaigrette and made this a very fresh lunch.

Since Mrs. Cool was having a salad I decided to have a salad too. I went for the Caesar Salad and added the Roast Chicken Breast for an extra £2.00. I too was a little disappointed when my salad came as the menu said it had anchovies (which I love) but when it came my Caesar Salad was sans Anchovies. However the chicken more than made up for it, the breast was cooked perfectly and was so juicy and the skin was incredible with a little caramelisation. The Caesar dressing was really nice too and not too overpowering and there was a good helping out croutons.

Despite the issues with the salads we still enjoyed them and the wine was really good, out bill came to £25 which isn't bad for lunch. The garden is really great and there is loads of space and it would be great to take kids, there is a giant chess set too if you fancy teaching your kids the rules. There are some great nooks with flowers dotted around and a swing chair and all very Instagrammable.

Well, that's all for now.


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Thursday 5 July 2018

5 Reasons Why I love Northumberland

Living in Northumberland is just the best. I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. But why do I love it so much? Well, there are many reasons but I've managed to condense it down so here are my five reasons (in no particular order) Why I love Northumberland.

The Coastline.

South Beach, Blyth
Lindisfarne Castle, Holy Island

From Seaton Sluice in the south over 60 miles north to the Scottish border the Northumberland Coast is EPIC. A stunning 40 mile stretch of the coast from Berwick to the River Coquet has been designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Some of my favourite places are along the coast such as Craster, The Farne Islands, Seahouses and Holy Island. So many places to visit and some great days out. One of my favourite walks is the 2 mile walk along the coast from Craster to Dunstanburgh Castle really worth the trip.

The Food.

North Sea Oysters, Blyth Boathouse
Northumberland Venison Haunch, St Mary's Inn

There is so much good food in Northumberland. Northumberland has some of it's own great foods like Craster Kippers, Ham and Pease Pudding Stotties and some of the best fish n chips you will ever have. There are also loads of farmers raising incredible produce, cheesemakers making award winning cheese, Artisan Bakeries making amazing bread, pies and cakes. But it's the abundance of great restaurants that make the food extra special, serving dishes from all over the world at such a high standard you are never far away from a good meal.

The Castles.
Warkworth Castle
Dunstanburgh Castle
Northumberland has over 70 Castles! It's like living in Game of freaking Thrones. Some of the castles are world famous being used in TV and Films with Alnwick Castle used the Harry Potter films and Bamburgh Castle used in the last Transformers movie. Visiting a castle is one of my favourite things to do as it totally transports you back in time. My favourite castle is Warkworth Castle (above) it's keep is mostly intact and you really get a sense of how imposing it would have been to see in it's hay-day.

The Countryside.
Ingram Valley
Kielder Forest
Northumberland is one of the largest counties in England but is one of the least densely populated with just 63 people per km². This is due to acres and acres of countryside, whether it's trekking through hills and valleys or having a ramble around ancient meadows there is seemingly no end to the Northumberland Countryside. Kielder Forest is the largest man made forest in Europe and along with Kielder Reservoir it is such a fascinating place. The Northumberland National Park is also well worth visit with miles of picturesque views taking in Hadrian's Wall and the Cheviot Hills as well as having Dark Skies status. If you've never experienced a night somewhere with Dark Skies status you need to try it, on a clear night the amount of stars you can see is insane.

The People.

Of all the things I love about Northumberland it's the people I love the most. Not just my own family (who are pretty amazing if I say so myself) but the people in general from Northumberland are so friendly and welcoming. People often say that the people from the North East are the friendliest in England and they ain't lying. Whether you're after advice at the local market or just looking for a friendly hello from a passing stranger the people of Northumberland are always happy to oblige. They will literally give you the clothes off their back, on one trip to the Farne Islands the kids were a bit chilly so the ship's captain let them use his gloves to keep their fingers warm.

Have you ever been to Northumberland, what was your experience like? Is there anything would would add to this list?

Well, that's all for now.


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5 Reasons Why I love Northumberland


Monday 2 July 2018

Big Cool Five

Summer is here, the sun has been shining and the World Cup has started. There's is a feeling of optimism in England for the first time in a long time. We have have had lots of fun this month and had lots of days out. Here are my Big Cool Five from June.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

The latest film in Disney's Star Wars Anthology is all about Han Solo. I really enjoyed this film (a lot more that The Last Jedi) but it seems I'm in the minority. Poor box office returns and luke warm reviews have forced Disney to put their planned films in the anthology on hold. You can read my review here.

Fish Shack, Amble

Just up the Northumbrian coast from where I live is Amble and on the harbour is a great little seafood restaurant The Fish Shack. The setting is great, the food is even better. Next time we're in Amble we'll be heading back here. Here is my review of Lunch Menu.

Catch, Ponteland

Another Day, another Seafood restaurant. This time in Ponteland, Catch is something special. The Swordfish with Crayfish Linguine (above) is the best thing I've eaten this month. They do packages where you can stay over and eat at the restaurant and this might be a plan for me and Mrs. Cool in the next few months. You can read my full review here.

Cirque Berserk

I'm not usually a big fan of the circus but Cirque Berserk is a little different. Acrobats, Contortionist, Fire Jugglers were all here but it was the Motorcyclists in the Globe of Death that stole the show for me. You can read Mrs Cool's full review here.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

DINOSAURS! The Jurassic Park franchise rolls on with the latest entry Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Not very imaginative but still lots of fun, if you're a fan of Jurassic Park you'll probably enjoy this. You can read my full review here.

Next month is my Birthmonth and the World Cup Final and we're off on our holidays so lots to look forward to. Check back soon for my July Big Cool Five.

Well, that's all for now.


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