The Rose & Crown, Wivenhoe | Riverside Pub Near Colchester With A Hearty Menu

Wivenhoe near Colchester is a lovely place to visit – quiet and quaint, it offers beautiful natural views of the river Colne and those lovely English streets that non-Brits always go on about. It’s the sort of place I go for a pint when I’m looking to get away from the seaside vibe of Walton and the busy atmosphere of Colchester, so getting to test out a new pub in the area was something I was really looking forward to.

The Rose And Crown pub, Wivenhoe, title image

The Vibe

Pint of ale at the Rose and Crown pub in Wivenhoe
A much-needed pint

The Rose And Crown is perfectly situated on the edge of the river Colne making it the ultimate Wivenhoe location for a relaxing drink – to the right you can see Rowhedge, and to the left the open space of the river with plenty of boats navigating the route. There’s actually more seating outside than in which I appreciated – although we ate inside due to the weather, it’s nice to know that getting a seat outdoors isn’t going to be a momentous task, which it can be in more crowded locations. Sitting out there I felt relaxed – the lapping on the river water against the nearby boats, the soft crunch of gravel under the feet of local dog walkers… It was a lovely experience.

Inside was also nice – some British pubs have an issue with being “too local” (if you’re not from the area you’ll get stared down as soon as you walk in the door) but it wasn’t like that here, and we felt welcome as soon as we walked in. I liked the cosy décor and appreciated the sign above the bar that read “Wivenhoe: A small drinking village with a fishing problem”.

The Food

Our visit was right before I was due to go live on Writer’s Block with Sarah Banham and Colne Radio so we went for the classic sandwich and a pint option, keen not to overrun. We were told at the time of order that we’d be waiting over an hour for food however this didn’t end up being the case, and we received our food within half an hour of ordering. The Rose and Crown have a special menu where you can get a sandwich, side, and a drink for £7.99 as a sort of meal deal, so we all went for that. The deal was quite flexible with the ability to add different things in and pay a little bit extra. I decided to go for the grilled halloumi with roasted vegetables and a side of chips with a pint of ale, with my partner Paul opting for the rump steak melt with chilli cheese fries (at an extra cost) and a cappuccino. Paul’s Mum went for the cod goujons sandwich with chips and a cider, and Paul’s Dad also went for the steak but with standard chips and a pint.

In general the food was very good quality – my halloumi sandwich was flavoursome and I couldn’t get over the chips which were that lovely, thick homecooked style. Paul’s chilli fries were thin cut instead, but the chilli gave them a real kick. Both the steak sandwich and cod goujon sandwich were very good quality as well, although Paul did say the steak sandwich ended up a bit messy due to the meat juices getting everywhere and the bread not quite holding it all in. Drinks were all great as well, with a good selection of lagers and ales on tap. It’s standard Greene King food, but it was cooked well and was as filling as a main meal.

Vegan apple pie and chocolate sundae at The Rose and Crown pub in Wivenhoe
Vegan apple pie served with ice cream, and chocolate sundae

After we’d eaten our sandwiches we realised we were doing well for time so decided to try out the dessert menu. Paul’s Mum went for the vegan apple pie and ice cream which she absolutely loved – apparently as good as the real thing! I shared a chocolate ice cream sundae with Paul which featured vanilla ice cream, brownie pieces, and chocolate sauce. It was sickly sweet but in a very good way and left me feeling full but not ill.

The service was generally positive throughout – there was a mix-up with our plates not being taken away but staff were apologetic about this and it didn’t affect our meal in anyway. Even though we’d gone in at a crazy busy time staff were still friendly (if a little flustered from all the business!) and I certainly don’t have any complaints. The place was very clean as you’d expect so no issues there.

The Extras

We didn’t get to experience anything extra that The Rose And Crown has to offer but I did notice that they host different themed nights each week, one of which being a vintage games night which sounded great! There was a whole shelf full of board games so I liked that they were there for those that want it. I forget what the other nights were but I remember there being a nice range of activities that suited the Wivenhoe vibe well.

We all agreed at the end of the evening that we’d had a good experience at The Rose And Crown in Wivenhoe and would consider going back if we were in the area and fancied a pint on the river. On a warm and sunny evening in the summer I bet it’s just wonderful.

If you enjoyed this review then please don’t forget to like, pin, and leave a comment! You can read my other recent British restaurant reviews here:

Hare & Hounds, East Bergholt | Wagamama, Colchester

Pinterest image for the Rose And Crown pub in Wivenhoe
Advertisements

Toblerone Cheesecake | No-Bake Delight For Toblerone Lovers

***Please note: This is a recipe review and not a recipe created by myself. Link to the original creator of the recipe is included below!***

No Bake Toblerone Cheesecake title image
Serves: 8-10
Prep Time: 1 hour (plus overnight chilling)
Suitable for: Vegetarian

I’ve got to admit something to you all… Before I made this, I’d never made a cheesecake in my life. Which, as a dedicated cheesecake consumer, is a little bit crazy! I was really nervous about making one in case it went horribly wrong, but I knew I had to get over my fear and go for it as this particular cheesecake would be a birthday and Fathers’ Day present for my Dad, who is absolutely Toblerone-obsessed.

I love recipes which are a little bit different so this no-bake Toblerone cheesecake caught my eye straight away. You can view the original recipe from Baking Mad here.

Ingredients & Cost

Ingredients list from Baking Mad for No Bake Toblerone Cheesecake

Here are the ingredients as listed on the website. As you can see there’s nothing overly complicated or hard to find, which is the sort of recipe I like! I was able to obtain all of the ingredients very easily, and the only swap I made was replacing the light muscovado sugar with light brown sugar as I may have forgotten to buy it! This probably made the cheesecake slightly sweeter but it still tasted really good.

I bought all of the ingredients from Aldi apart from the Toblerone (which I got from Poundland) and the icing sugar which was already in the cupboard, and it came to £6.51 in total (worked out from exact measurements) – the cheesecake contained 8 large portions so that works out at around 81p per serving. Bear in mind that we tend to go for own brand options from Aldi so depending on where you shop it could end up slightly more expensive, but still – that’s not bad!

One thing to note is that this isn’t a particularly adaptable recipe should you have any intolerances or allergies – I would 100% not recommend this cheesecake for anyone who is lactose intolerant or allergic to nuts.

The Cooking Experience

Whipping double cream for No Bake Toblerone Cheesecake
No need to get an exercise routine in if you’ve got double cream to whip…

Despite my nerves I didn’t find the Toblerone cheesecake to difficult to make. Baking Mad rate it as a 1 out of 5 for skill – I’d say it’s probably more of a 2 out of 5 because of some of the whipping involved and potential for things to go wrong but it wasn’t too bad at all. The website contains useful tips to prevent it going awry, such as not over-whipping the cream cheese and what to do if you end up with an overly thick glaze.

Because the cheesecake is no-bake there is no worry of burning or overcooking it. The recipe calls for a food processor to crush up the biscuits and toblerone so I’d make sure you have one of these to hand. I found that the hardest part was whipping the double cream until it would stand on its own, which was a bit of a workout for my poor arm! This is something you can use a food processor for if needed but be careful not to process it too much or you may end up with butter instead. Everything else was fairly simple to achieve.

No Bake Toblerone Cheesecake before putting in the fridge
The cheesecake just before going into the fridge

There were a couple of issues that I came across whilst cooking – firstly, the cheesecake never quite set despite having it in the fridge for about 20 hours. It definitely hardened, but releasing it from the springform tin was a challenge for my poor Mum and one side had to be repaired slightly to get it back to that round cheesecake shape. I also found that I had to add a lot more milk to the glaze than suggested as it wouldn’t thin out – I got it to the right consistency at the end and the extra milk made it nice and glossy. The recipe suggests adding drips to the sides of the cheesecake but because I couldn’t remove it from the tin beforehand (partly due to it not setting, and partly due to it being a gift) I slathered a load on top instead and decorated with the remaining toblerone pieces, which worked just as well.

The End Result

I didn’t actually get to taste the Toblerone cheesecake myself (besides all of my “essential” taste testing whilst I was making it) however I got feedback from my parents and my sister who all enjoyed it over Fathers’ Day. The general feeling was that it was really tasty – quite rich and sweet but not overly so, with a really accurate Toblerone taste. It wasn’t heavy, and was nice to eat on its own rather than needing ice cream or something else with it.

The finished No Bake Toblerone Cheesecake
The finished cheesecake

Even though it didn’t set fully the texture was still enjoyable – it was mousse-like and smooth, although the base was a little bit difficult to cut through. All family members felt satisfied after one slice so it actually lasted for three desserts in total! Everyone also commented that they would happily eat it again, which I’d say is a roaring success.

If you’re looking to impress guests (or perhaps you just have a sweet tooth) then this no-bake Toblerone cheesecake is a great choice. The recipe may need refining slightly to ensure it is able to set fully, but even with this slight issue the rich and satisfying taste of Toblerone is still very present.

If you have a go at making this toblerone cheesecake then please let me know how it went in the comments! Don’t forget to also like and pin if you enjoyed this review.

No Bake Toblerone Cheesecake Pinterest image

Notes On A Nervous Planet – Matt Haig | Honest Exploration Of Society And Mental Health That’s Exactly What We Need

***This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!***

Title image of Notes On A Nervous Planet By Matt Haig
Author: Matt Haig
Genre: Self-help
Published: 29th January 2019

Synopsis

A follow-up to Matt Haig’s internationally bestselling memoir, Reasons to Stay Alive, a broader look at how modern life feeds our anxiety, and how to live a better life.
The societies we live in are increasingly making our minds ill, making it feel as though the way we live is engineered to make us unhappy. When Matt Haig developed panic disorder, anxiety, and depression as an adult, it took him a long time to work out the ways the external world could impact his mental health in both positive and negative ways. Notes on a Nervous Planet collects his observations, taking a look at how the various social, commercial and technological “advancements” that have created the world we now live in can actually hinder our happiness. Haig examines everything from broader phenomena like inequality, social media, and the news; to things closer to our daily lives, like how we sleep, how we exercise, and even the distinction we draw between our minds and our bodies.
(Taken from Goodreads)

My Review

Notes On A Nervous Planet is actually the first book I’ve read by Matt Haig and I still haven’t quite got round to reading the first one, Reasons To Stay Alive (though it’s very high up on my TBR). I was recommended it by my Mum who’d received it for her birthday, and I knew before I’d even picked it up that it would be my sort of book.

What struck me most about the book was the layout – short, digestible chapters, some not even a page long. Haig certainly knows his audience – concentration can often be the first thing to go when someone suffers from a mood or anxiety disorder and this book is perfect for anyone that has developed that symptom. My concentration has got a lot better since I got into regularly reading so I actually read the entire thing in one sitting (always a good sign!) but for those that struggle to retain their attention for longer than a few pages this book is written perfectly. The variety of chapter structures adds to the intrigue and you certainly won’t find yourself wishing it to end (quite the opposite, in fact).

Cover image of Notes On A Nervous Planet by Matt Haig
Cover image of Notes On A Nervous Planet

The concept of society’s impact on mental health is something I’m heavily interested in through both my work and my personal life, and Haig offers an in-depth and profound exploration of this through his own experiences and observations. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’ll most likely find yourself nodding in agreement throughout, and coming to the realisation that the issues you’re worried about are perhaps bigger than you thought.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as Haig offsets these observations with ways to potentially fix the issues – things we can do both for ourselves and the greater good. Even though it’s not completely structured as one I found Notes On A Nervous Planet to be an excellent read for self-care, due to the suggestions within and the emotions you’ll find yourself going through as you pass from chapter to chapter. Haig’s friendly and inclusive writing style feels like a treat on its own, and I guarantee that once you’ve finished the book your self-care routine will include new additions.

I don’t think there’s actually anything negative I can say about Notes On A Nervous Planet – I couldn’t put it down and it’s the type of book I’d read again if I feel I’ve lost touch and need to focus forward. I’m so excited to read more of his books and see the impact that he has amongst his readers. Whether you’re looking for the science, the solutions, or even just the self-help element, Matt Haig’s writing is something you need in your life.

Purchase Links

If you’d like to purchase Notes On A Nervous Planet then you can do so here:

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Author Bio

Matt Haig is a British author for children and adults. His memoir Reasons to Stay Alive was a number one bestseller, staying in the British top ten for 46 weeks. His children’s book A Boy Called Christmas was a runaway hit and is translated in over 25 languages. It is being made into a film by Studio Canal and The Guardian called it an ‘instant classic’. His novels for adults include the award-winning The Radleys and The Humans.
He won the TV Book Club ‘book of the series’, and has been shortlisted for a Specsavers National Book Award. The Humans was chosen as a World Book Night title. His children’s novels have won the Smarties Gold Medal, the Blue Peter Book of the Year, been shortlisted for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and nominated for the Carnegie Medal three times.
(Taken from Matt Haig’s website)

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook | Goodreads

Have you read any of Matt Haig’s books before? Let me know in the comments, and don’t forget to like and pin if you enjoyed this review! You can read some of my other non-fiction book reviews here:
Rise, In Pursuit Of Empowerment – Sabine Matharu
The Clouds Beyond Us – Rahf AlRashidi
Culture Smart! Colombia – Kate Cathey

Notes On A Nervous Planet Matt Haig Pinterest image

One? – Jennifer L. Cahill | London Chick Lit Novel Exploring Societal Themes

***This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!***

Thank you first of all to Jennifer L. Cahill for reaching out to me and gifting me a digital copy of her book in exchange for an honest review.

Title image for One? by Jennifer L. Cahill
Author: Jennifer L. Cahill
Genre: Chick lit
Published: 21st June 2018

Synopsis

One? is the first book in a contemporary fiction trilogy, looking at finding ‘the one’ in the modern world and how relationship models are shifting in the most innovative period in living history. The story starts in 2005, and spans ten years following the characters from the challenges of their twenties into their thirties. 
It’s London in the mid-noughties before Facebook, iPhones and ubiquitous wifi.
Zara has just moved to London for her first real job and struggles to find her feet in a big city with no instruction manual. Penelope works night and day in an investment bank with little or no time for love. At twenty-eight she is positively ancient as far as her mother is concerned and the pressure is on for her to settle down as the big 3-0 is looming. Charlie spends night and day with his band who are constantly teetering on the verge of greatness. Richard has relocated to London from his castle in Scotland in search of the one, and Alyx is barely in one place long enough to hold down a relationship let alone think about the future. One? follows the highs and lows of a group of twenty-somethings living in leafy SW4.
(Taken from Goodreads)

My Review

Chick lit is one of my favourite book genres so I was excited to read One? by Jennifer L. Cahill because of that, but also because it’s set in London – a place I live close to and have worked in on many occasions. The city vibe is strong throughout the book which is great, and anyone who has lived in or visited London will appreciate the focus on the fast-paced, hectic culture of the capital that is so different from elsewhere in England. Cahill is very good at getting that across, and those that haven’t visited London before will learn a lot by the end of the book!

Cover image for One? by Jennifer L. Cahill
Cover image for One? by Jennifer L. Cahill

The story focuses on several different characters, dipping in and out of their lives as they face various struggles of London life and love in the ’90s. Although seemingly simple on the surface, the book explores societal expectations of women and the pressures of dating life within a metropolitan lifestyle – issues that still affect people today. Zara and Penelope are the most focused on, however I would have liked to have explored more of Charlie’s life and also Gerry, who is introduced later on in the book, as both of these characters were really likeable. This is especially true for Charlie – he was one of my favourite characters yet towards the end his story disappeared, and I missed having him around. I think Penelope was my favourite character as I appreciated the exploration of her will vs. society’s, and I thought Cahill did a good job of portraying her relationships with the other characters (especially her best friend George, who is a real crux for her throughout the novel). I was really invested in Penelope’s story and it was quite a rollercoaster of a ride as she moved from one chapter to the next.

Although I enjoyed the story I didn’t get on with the writing style quite so much as it was very “tell not show” which I personally find hard to get into. Much of the story is narrated through the use of dialogue and internal thoughts – while these can be powerful literary devices, I would have liked a bit more narrative description for balance. It was still an easy read, without feeling heavy or a chore at any point, however it did feel a bit repetitive so I’d love to see Cahill expand her use of descriptive narrative for the next two books.

Despite this, One? still has a lot to offer – the story is involved and intriguing and you’ll find it hard not to find a character to relate to, from the ruminating London newbie Zara to the confident and successful Alyx that’s missing what he really wants in life. I loved the cover which I felt portrays the story within, and after an ending I was completely not expecting (unusual, for me) I’m interested to see how the story develops in the rest of the trilogy.

Purchase Links

If you’d like to purchase One? for either Kindle or as a paperback then you can do so here:

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Author Bio

I moved to London just after graduating from business school and life has never been quite the same for me since. I still think it is the most amazing city in the world. I write contemporary fiction and try to capture the essence of a place and time in my books. Above all my aim is to make you laugh and hopefully learn a little, as you recognise yourself, your friends and your exes in my books.
(Taken from Jennifer L. Cahill’s website)

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

If you liked this review please like, pin, and leave a comment! You can also check some of my other chick lit and women’s fiction book reviews here:

Christmas At Little Beach Street Bakery – Jenny Colgan
The Summer Of Chasing Dreams – Holly Martin
Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine – Gail Honeyman

Pinterest image for One? by Jennifer L. Cahill

The Naze Nature Reserve | Natural Space And Beach In Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex

Since moving to Walton-on-the-Naze I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve visited the Naze Nature Reserve – it’s such a wonderful space with lots to offer. We go there a lot in the summer, either for a walk along the beach or just to escape for a bit, but it’s also a nice place to visit in winter as well (providing it’s not raining, of course!).

The Naze Nature Reserve, Walton, Essex title image

The Reserve

The Naze Nature Reserve is different to some other local reserves in that it’s not only a large open space for wildlife to thrive, but it’s also surrounded by a beach which is considered part of it. The main space consists of grassy fields with clear footpaths leading several different ways. The starting point is very open and the highest point of the reserve, looking out towards the sea (you’ll be able to sea the Principality of Sealand on a good day) but as you follow the footpaths it becomes a lot more rural, featuring small groves of trees and some natural spaces enclosed by fences which are accessible to the public.

Following one of the right-hand paths will eventually lead you to Stone Point, a small and secluded beach area facing towards Felixstowe. When the tide is out you can see the remains of Old Walton, lost many years ago to coastal erosion and now succumbed to the seaweed. If you carry on left from here you’ll be able to walk along the backwaters which eventually takes you back to the more built-up area of the Naze – it’s a long walk but really lovely and worth doing on a sunny day if you have the time! It also makes a good running route, however the grass isn’t cut frequently so be sure to time it right to ensure the path is fully accessible.

Nature Opportunities

The natural footpaths of the Naze Nature Reserve in Walton, Essex
Many of the footpaths lead to secluded grassy areas where nature lives abundantly

The Naze Nature Reserve is an excellent choice for both animal and coastline lovers. Plenty of nature can be observed if you know where to go – on my multitude of walks I’ve witnessed a beautiful range of insects (especially moths), rabbits and other small rodents, and even a couple of muntjac deer. In the summer months bats are very common, and there are special walks set up after dark specifically to locate and view them. The area is great for bird watchers as many waders and other interesting species can be witnessed at the backwaters, including herons, curlews, redshanks, and reed warblers which all nest by the mud flats. The location is important for migrating birds so visit in the correct season and you’ll be quite amazing at the variety of birds you can witness. Back inland you may be lucky enough to spot a barn owl or other bird of prey.

The Naze is also brilliant for ocean life – my personal favourite are the seals that can be seen swimming in the water every so often, and can be experienced closer up by taking a boat trip out to the small islands in the backwaters where they reside. Down on the beach you’ll find countless examples of marine creatures from crabs to molluscs, and I’ve witnessed starfish, jellyfish, and sea gooseberries on certain occasions. If you’ve got a keen eye you may even spot some sharks’ teeth in the sand!

View of the cliffs and the sea at the Naze Nature Reserve, Walton, Essex
This photo shows the eroded cliffs but also the pillboxes at sea

If you’re more into the geological side of nature then the Naze is the perfect location for that – there’s a reason it’s subject to so many school geography trips! If you visit when the tide is out and walk up to Stone Point via the beach you’ll be able to admire Walton’s famous cliffs, which are eroding at a fast rate due to the sea. The base of the cliffs are made of London clay, overlaid with Red Crag, and are around 54 million years old. Their erosion has lead to some of the paths up top becoming inaccessible and you can no longer walk up them like I could as a child, but they offer some beautiful scenery plus you’ll also be able to witness several pillboxes from the 1940s which are now in the sea.

Food & Drink Options

Walton itself is home to lots of different food establishments and the Naze Nature Reserve offers three different places to eat. Our favourite is the Naze Tower where we go for coffee on a regular basis – they offer sandwiches, hot food such as jacket potatoes and toasties, and homemade cakes and biscuits. They’re very good value and you can either eat outside (windbreakers provided as it gets very gusty!) or inside the tower. If you pay a small fee you also go further up the tower, enabling you to see the local art on display plus the fantastic view from right at the top.

When the Naze Tower is closed (it’s only open during the summer months) we go to the Naze Centre instead, an Essex Wildlife Trust building that holds loads of events and natural artifacts as well as a café. They serve similar food and drinks and you can eat inside or out. I absolutely love their shop, where you can buy garden ornaments, home decor, and fossils/crystals among other things, and they provide really good entertainment for kids during the school holidays.

The third and final option is Naze Links Café, which is much closer to the car park. Again you can buy a wide variety of food and drink here and they sell some beachy items as well. All places offer ice cream which is a must when visiting the Naze in the summer! There’s also always the option of a picnic which we love to do, with loads of open grassy spaces to set down your blanket and hamper.

WHat You Need To Know

Parking is available at the Naze Nature Reserve for the following prices:
1 Hour – £1.20
Up to 2 Hours – £2.20
4 Hours – £4.00
All Day – £5.00
Overnight – £1.00 (after 6pm)

View of the sea from one of the footpaths at the Naze Nature Reserve, Walton, Essex
What more could you want?

Although it’s very rural, toilets are accessible by the Naze Links Café, and you can find more toilets down on the beaches that head back into town. There’s lots of seating available, particularly up on the cliffs, so it’s also accessible for those who perhaps can’t stand or walk as much. Dogs are very welcome, as are children and large groups! One thing to note is that the area by the cafés contains lots of hidden rabbit holes so be careful where you walk and where sensible shoes to avoid any injury (this is coming from someone who has twisted their ankle multiple times up there – perhaps I should heed my own advice).

I know I live right by it so I could be seen as biased but I really do love the Naze Nature Reserve – I’ve had so many wonderful trips out there (many before I moved to Walton) and it’s one of those places that people of all ages can find joy in. It’s a budget-friendly, peaceful trip for those who perhaps need a break and whatever side of nature you find interesting, you’re sure to find something you like.

If you liked this post then don’t forget to like, pin, and comment! You can check out my other reviews for nature lovers here:

Seven Sisters | Hollow Trees Farm | Three Cliffs Bay

Pinterest image for the Naze Nature Reserve, Walton, Essex

Afternoon Tea At Patisserie Valerie, Colchester | Lovingly Crafted Continental Delights

Patisserie Valerie, known for its afternoon tea, is a chain café across the UK which offers a lovely selection of sandwiches, cakes, coffees, and more. Although unfortunately a few of the cafés have shut down recently there’s still plenty of them around, and you’ll most likely have one close to you if you live in or near a large town or city.

Patisserie Valerie, Colchester - afternoon tea title image

I’ve visited Patisserie Valerie numerous times before with my partner for a lunchtime bite to eat, but this time I decided to take my Mum there for afternoon tea – a birthday gift I got her last year! As always it took us ages to actually settle on a date and get around to it but both of us were really glad that we did.

The Vibe

The premises of Patisserie Valerie will be slightly different depending on which one you visit, but the one in Colchester is of a reasonable size with plenty of space. It’s very popular so for this trip we made sure to get there at around 12pm so there would definitely be seats – I’ve been turned away more than once in the past because it’s been so busy! The place consists of lots of tables, mostly for 2-4 people, with the counter and kitchen at the back.

There’s always been a nice vibe when we’ve visited and this trip was no different, with positive chatter in the background that wasn’t too loud. I like the decor of the place which has a great theme of French posters and images, and it’s the right sort of setting where you can easily hold a conversation while you eat and also chill out a bit.

The Food

The whole spread of food from the afternoon tea in Patisserie Valerie in Colchester including sandwiches, quiches, scones, and cakes
The afternoon tea spread, including three ‘courses’ plus drinks

As this trip was for afternoon tea the menu was set, including sandwiches, cakes, scones, and tea or coffee for £25 between two. I felt this was very reasonable considering what we got – such a lovely range of food and so filling! I didn’t need to eat for hours afterwards so I’d recommend being quite hungry before you try it.

The three-tiered plate that came out was a lovely way to present the food, and we started at the bottom and worked our way up. The first plate had a selection of finger sandwiches – egg mayo, cucumber, ham, salmon with cream cheese, and chicken pesto with sunblazed tomatoes, alongside a mini quiche each. I remember thinking at first that that wasn’t enough between two but I was very wrong!

The second plate was the scones – we got two each (one fruit and one plain), with strawberry jam, raspberry jam, clotted cream, and butter to top them with. Scones are one of my favourite things about Britain so I absolutely loved this part. The third and final plate was my favourite though – a selection of beautifully crafted cake slices consisting of a Victoria sponge, two chocolate eclairs, carrot and walnut cake, double chocolate mousse slice, and mixed berry mousse slice. I liked all of them but both Mum and I agreed that the berry mousse slice was the best – so pretty to look at and a wonderfully vibrant flavour. I was so full by this point but determined to try every part! We had to cut some pieces in half so we were able to both try everything, but this was relatively easy to do without it going everywhere (as I’d invisaged).

The tea and coffee was also lovely – Mum went for a simple Americano which she enjoyed (and there was a lot of it), and I went for an Earl Grey, managing to get four small cups out of the teapot! It felt like a lot more tea than you’d usually get in a café so well worth the price, and helped to keep me awake after gorging on so much food!

The Extras

As well as afternoon tea and eating inside the café, Patisserie Valerie also sell a variety of their cakes and tarts to take home – these can be bought individually or they offer several giant slices at £11 for four, which can be chosen in store or ordered beforehand. You can also order whole cakes from them which you can design online using their Create A Cake option (which is actually quite fun). Their cakes are stunning and I’d definitely buy from them if I was looking to order a selection.

It’s safe to say that we were both really impressed with Patisserie Valerie, and would 100% go back there again either for afternoon tea or just a standard lunch. We loved how extravagant and refined we felt eating their food, and the overall experience was friendly and positive. If you have one near you then you’d be crazy not to try it out!

If you enjoyed this review then please don’t forget to like, pin, and leave a comment! You can read my other recent British café reviews here:

Odell’s Coffee Shop, Rochford | Biddy’s Tea Room, Norwich

Pinterest image for afternoon tea at Patisserie Valerie, Colchester

The Cleansing – Anton Eine | Profoundness And Fun Combine In This Quirky Short Story

***This post contains affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase the product using the link then I get paid at no extra cost to you. I only provide links to products I really enjoy, so you can be assured that it’s a positive recommendation from me!***

Thank you first of all to Anton Eine for reaching out to me and gifting me a copy of his book in exchange for an honest review.

Title image of The Cleansing by Anton Eine
Author: Anton Eine
Genre: Sci-fi/short story
Published: 3rd February 2019

Synopsis

Advanced aliens have arrived to destroy any life on Earth and all the traces of our existence. Their mission is to wipe out any life in our Universe.
While unsuspecting humankind is not aware of deadly menace, alien invaders analyze intelligence information and get ready to initiate the cleansing protocol. Suddenly some of the data gathered disturbs those powerful unimpassioned aliens.
Will beauty save the world? Not this time… 
This sci-fi short story gives us a view of our world from perspective of alien invaders that just arrived to destroy any life on Earth. Can we do anything to save our fragile peace, to protect our home and the very existence of the humankind?
(Taken from Anton Eine’s website and Goodreads)

My Review

I don’t often read short stories, though reflecting on that I’m not entirely sure why that is. I usually really enjoy them – there’s something about a short story that’s so contrasting to a novel, and it needs different devices and features to work. What really drew me in to The Cleansing by Anton Eine is that it’s very transparent with this, completely breaking the rules to deliver something really quite unique.

Book cover of The Cleansing by Anton Eine
The Cleansing book cover

The Cleansing is written entirely in dialogue, without even a simple dialogue tag in sight. The dialogue comes from several characters, an intelligent alien race humans haven’t yet come into contact with, and we know only their ranks on board their ship as they observe us from our multitude of ‘records’ we have stored. Because of this unusual style there is little character development but it isn’t actually needed – the characters are interesting to follow through their conversations even if we know nothing about them.

Eine’s storytelling is strong, somehow managing to get across so much with no narrative description. Seeing our race from an outside perspective is really quite interesting and the story, though short, explores themes such as philosophy and our way of living. It’s existential and futuristic, giving the reader something to ponder over their cup of tea and biscuits. It’s got a great sense of underlying humour, too – once you’ve twigged what the aliens are observing then it suddenly feels quite clever.

At 99p The Cleansing is well-worth the money and, given that it’s only 18 pages long, is a nice little ebook to enjoy during your downtime, perhaps in between heavier writing. Eine’s original writing style certainly lends to the concept of “less is more”, and I’m looking forward to reading more of his short stories in future.

Purchase Links

If you’d like to purchase The Cleansing for just 99p then you can do so here:

Amazon UK | Amazon US

Author Bio

Anton Eine is sci-fi and technofantasy author from Kyiv, Ukraine.
After building his successful career in marketing, he decided to let his creativity writing fantastic fiction books to actualize numerous ideas he had in his mind for years.
Anton is passionate about food (and some drinks of course!), photography, animals (especially wild cats) and rock music. He likes embedding his hobbies into the fantastic canvas of his writings and to share that passion with readers.
Anton Eine officially can’t stand any limits and boundaries, so his books usually step out of the box of traditional genres, crossing the edges of conventional storytelling and blurring the borders of common thinking.
Author of superhero series “Maze City” and technomancy series “Programagic”, also known for short sci-fi stories “The Cleansing”, “Sincerely Yours, Lucifer”, “Plus Ten”, “Post-molecular Comfort Food” and others.
(Taken from Anton Eine’s website)

Twitter | Facebook | Website | Goodreads

If you liked this review please like, pin, and leave a comment! You can also check my other recent book reviews here:
Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries Of Ann Marie Ruby – Ann Marie Ruby
Culture Smart! Colombia – Kate Cathey/Kuperard
Moxie – Alex Poppe

The Cleansing by Anton Eine Pinterest Graphic

Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas | The Biggest Burgers In Fuerteventura

Corralejo in Fuerteventura is filled to the brim with restaurants – sometimes so much choice it can be hard to know where to eat! There’s loads of typical Spanish cuisine yet after a while it’s nice to try something with a different grab to it. Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas is one of those places – a refreshing novelty that brings you great burgers in enormous portions.

Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas, Corralejo, Fuerteventura - title image

I first visited Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas on our second trip to Corralejo in Fuerteventura back in 2016, when it was relatively new to the area and located on the main strip. It’s now moved to the Music Square which I think works better – more space for hungry people and better entertainment. Plus the burgers are still great!

The Vibe

Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas, Corralejo, Fuerteventura - beer at the Music Square
The new location is great, and the perfect place to relax in the evening

Now that Hamburguesa is located in a bigger venue it feels a lot more spacious – it was nice on the main strip, but there wasn’t really much room, especially if you wanted to be seated in the sun. There’s plenty of room now for people who want to sit outside, and this means the view of the entertainment in the Music Square in the evenings is great. The entire restaurant faces the stage so even those that sit inside can enjoy the music and various acts throughout the night.

To enjoy the entertainment the chairs on the outside are all facing towards the stage with two on each table – this means you won’t strain your neck but it does feel a little like you’re on an interview panel!

The Food

Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas is famous for its giant burgers and it’s easy to see why! Although possibly a bit smaller than when they first opened, the burgers are still huge and impossible to eat as one item, requiring you to cut them at least in half. I’ve learnt to just use a knife and fork for the whole thing, as picking them up with your hands gets messy very quickly!

I’m always impressed with how the food is served – each burger will come out presented on a granite slab with the name of the burger written in sauce next to it. I absolutely love this touch, and it’s something I haven’t really seen in many other places.

Generally the quality of the food is really good and you’re able to ask for how well-done you want your burger. We usually go for medium rare which I find offers optimum flavour and texture. There’s a real variety of burgers on offer all with beef burgers unless stated otherwise – for example the Italian featuring pesto mayo, the Majorero featuring goats cheese and garlic mayo, and the Cowboy which has BBQ sauce, corn, and loads of cheese. There’s even a Bolognese burger based around the classic Spaghetti Bolognese dish which sounds amazing! If you’re not into beef burgers you can also order the Chicken Burger, Fish Burger, or Veggie Burger, and meat in all burgers can be changed to goat for a small extra cost.

Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas, Corralejo, Fuerteventura - fries with garlic mayo
Homemade fries and garlic mayo is a winning combination in my eyes

To go alongside the burgers you can order from a choice of sides (though you may not need them given how much burger is actually on your plate). We always order the fries, which are seriously good and I love how they come out in a little wire basket. There’s a whole host of different sauces for dipping uch as ketchup, mayo, BBQ sauce, and more, and I strongly recommend the garlic mayo to go with them. They also offer a good variety of drinks, though I find generally a cold lager works best with this type of meal.

The Extras

Besides the giant burgers, the main other pull to Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas is the front row seats to the Music Square entertainment, which plays every night in the evenings. Usually the entertainment will feature a local band (of which we’ve never heard a bad one) – most play covers but sometimes you’ll hear some original songs as well. Half-time acts sometimes come on too, and our favourite so far has been the African fire dancers – not what we were expecting but great entertainment alongside your food!

Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas, Corralejo, Fuerteventura - Music Square entertainment
One of the local bands we watched while we were there, who performed some seriously good covers

It’s also worth noting that Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas offer a takeaway service as well, so if you’re not feeling up to going out you can order straight to your apartment or villa. This isn’t a service we have tried yet but I imagine we will do at some point!

While I think it’s important to try out local specialities when you visit a new country, Hamburguesa Que Te Cagas is a restaurant I just have to recommend as it’s so novelty and a great dining experience with customer service that has never failed us. If you like a bit of challenge with your food then this is one place you must visit!

If you enjoyed this review then please don’t forget to like, pin, and leave a comment! You can read my other Fuerteventura-based travel reviews here:

Fuerteventura Grand Tour | Oasis Dunas | Isla de Lobos

May Wrap Up & June In Focus

May has been a lovely month – it was shaky at first as I came off the pills and dealt with the final symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder, but once those had evened out I started to really feel myself again. I’ve been focused on self-care but also orientated around my goals, and I feel ready to up my game over the next month!

MAY Wrap Up

I’ll admit that I got a little stressed out about my blog this month as I did the classic mistake of getting fixated on the numbers once I noticed they weren’t going up. I rectified this with a giveaway which brought loads of traffic to my blog, but now I need to keep it up! I was perhaps too ambitious with my social media goals given that I was on holiday for a lot of the month so I’ve tried to be more realistic this time around.

Books

During May I read just two books – both non-fiction, but wildly different! The first one was the Culture Smart! Colombia travel guide published by Kuperard, which I really enjoyed and became inspired after reading to write my own series of travel guides focused around British and Canarian locations. Very early days but looking forward to working on this soon! The second book I read was a much more spiritual book by Ann Marie Ruby entitled Spiritual Lighthouse: The Dream Diaries of Ann Marie Ruby. Not a book I’d normally pick up but I loved it. Both of these I reviewed this month as well as Moxie by Alex Poppe.

Eateries

Because we went on holiday this month we were quite excessive with eateries, visiting eight in total! Three of those were in England including LEON at Stansted Airport (which I also reviewed this month), The Rose & Crown in Wivenhoe, and Patisserie Valerie in Colchester, and five were in Corralejo – Hamburguesa, La Casita, Retro, Cordon Blue, and El Pescador. La Casita will always be my favourite in Corralejo for their beautifully authentic Spanish seafood, and Patisserie Valerie stood out to me back home for their rather delightful afternoon tea which I shared with my Mum.

Experiences

Time for British experiences was sparse this month so I visited just one, which was the annual exhibition from the Colchester Photographic Society featured at The Minories in Colchester. It was fantastic, showcasing a real range of talent from the area.

I reviewed two experiences I’ve visited previously – Norwich Cathedral which I visited last year and Seven Sisters Country Park which I experienced as part of a fundraising trek.

Travel

This month was a Fuerteventura month, which might be why I feel so great! We trialled having a more budget, relaxing holiday this time round which I enjoyed, though I think I’m more suited to jam-packed adventure holidays… I get a bit bored of sunbathing after a while! It was lovely to get away though and I got loads of good review content, from a complex review of Maxorata to an excursion review of Jandia, situated on the south of the island.

I also reviewed two travel experiences this month – the Fuerteventura Grand Tour, one of my favourite excursions on the island, and Nomad Beach Bar & Restaurant which is on Diani Beach in Kenya.

Miscellaneous

It wasn’t quite as busy as April for miscellaneous posts but there were still a couple! I didn’t write any product reviews but I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award, which was possibly the lengthiest award post I’ve written in my life! I was really grateful for that as it now means I’ve been nominated for four separate awards since I started in February.

Several of my guest posts and contributions were also featured this month – What I Love About Britain for BritVoyage and Let’s Talk About Pets for Little Tinkablee. I also contributed to Favourite Travel Destinations by World Of Lina.

June In Focus

June is hopefully going to be a busy month! I’m planning on going self-hosted towards the end so my site may be down for maintenance at one point, however it’s going to be bigger and better once done! I’ve also got lots of planning to do, such as an email list that I’d like to develop and ways that I can be working with other bloggers and featuring them on my site.

I’m Reading…

I’m starting off my reading today with The Cleansing by Anton Eine, a sci-fi short story written purely in dialogue which I’m interested to read. I’m participating in a blog tour for One? by Jennifer Cahill in the middle of the month, and I’ll also be reviewing Matt Haig’s Notes On A Nervous Planet which I read in April.

I’m Eating…

I think it’s fair to say that I visited a whole myriad of restaurants in May, so for June I’m scaling that back a little bit. I’ll be posting reviews of The Rose And Crown and Patisserie Valerie, and hopefully will visit Caffe Sala in Colchester towards the end of the month.

I’m Experiencing…

My first visit this month will be to the Naze in Walton, which is very local to me! This is a place that is very special to my heart and perfect for both sun worshippers and nature lovers. I’ll be reviewing it mid-month as my main British experience for June.

I’m Travelling…

Sadly I’m not travelling anywhere this month as I can’t really justify it, but I’ve got loads of content to share! You’ll be able to read reviews of Hamburguesa, a brilliant place in Corralejo for burger fiends, plus a more close-up look of Timanfaya which was mentioned briefly in my Lanzarote Grand Tour review. I’ll be going into more detail of what to expect from the first Timanfaya visit we ever did.

i’m also focusing on…

I’ve got one guest post scheduled for this month which is part of the Meet The Blogger series with Fraser’s Fun House, plus a contribution to Inching Forwards. I’ll also be writing two guest posts up – one for Brighter Craft on galleries in London and another for Emily Eva on Colchester. I’m hoping to do one product review but it’s not confirmed yet so we shall see!

I feel like I’ve really got into the swing of things now with blogging and I’m excited to finally go self-hosting at the end of this month. May has been crazy for ideas generation, so let’s see how much of that I can start working on in June!

What are you most looking forward to reading about in June?