Friday, 27 March 2015

FOOD: Celebrating Easter with the British Hamper Company

Easter Hamper

Even as an adult, you gotta love Easter for all the chocolate. While America too loves it's "candy" this time of year, there's nothing like some British tasting chocolate celebrations. Whether you live in my British homeland, you're an expat or have an interest in trying out some British chocolate wherever you are in the world, there is a great company to head to for satisfying that chocolate craving at Easter time! The British Hamper Company is here to answer all your British food needs.

Based out of Lincolnshire, The British Hamper Company prides themselves on offering quality service in producing imaginative luxury gift hampers. Whether you're looking for an Easter gift, craving some retro sweets, fancy giving something different for a wedding gift or need some early ideas for Christmas, they all offer a taste of Britain. Inside their hampers, you'll find a great selection reflecting the "exciting and passionate British food landscape" with food from award winning British artisans and independent food producers.

Sounds good right?!

Easter Hamper

Full of delicious goodies, the Easter gift hamper comes with a fine selection of nine delights of artisan chocolate from Britain's leading chocolatiers. An Easter egg made with butterscotch truffles (mmm) from London's Monty Bojanges to incredibly cute little Easter chicks and some tasty looking drinking chocolate from Chocca Mocca. It all comes in this adorably cute British themed bespoke packaging that is so getting reused in my craft room! Those raining clouds, are just too cute.


If you find yourself living on this side of the pond like me, the final final order date for guaranteed Easter delivery of the Easter Hamper to the USA and Canada is today (Friday 27th) so get your fingers filling in that order form asap! Fear not if you're in the UK, you have extra breathing room with final orders up to April 1st. 

International customers need not worry about delivery times nor poor packaging because the British Hamper Company make international delivery easy, secure and low fuss!  Typically USA bound delivery takes 4 days (perfect!). They also work on a preferred delivery date system, so if you're planning ahead for future celebrations, you can choose when you'd like your hamper to be delivered by. They also do an excellent job in securely wrapping not only the perishables, but also the hamper itself. Which is an added winner in my book! If you're an expat or thinking of treating yourself to some British chocolate from overseas, you can find out more about international delivery and service here.


Whether you fancy an Easter treat for yourself or you know someone who deserves one, you can't go wrong with this hamper! Personally I think I'll be hinting for that Retro Sweet hamper in the future for myself - there's so many childhood memories contained in that hamper! Right now, well I'm looking very much forward to getting very well acquainted with all this chocolate over the Easter weekend!

You can find out more about the British Hamper Company through their website, twitter or facebook page.

Disclosure: I received the Easter Hamper from the British Hamper Company for review purposes. all words, photographs and thoughts are all my own. 
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Wednesday, 25 March 2015

FOOD: Scotty Simpson's Fish & Chips

James (Scotty) Simpson, a Scottish native opened a small fish n chips shop on a corner in the Detroit neighbourhood of Brightmoor in 1950. It became so successful he expanded the chippie into his butchers shop in the building next door. Sixty five years later and the business is still standing strong. 

Walking through the front door I was greeted with a smell that I haven't smelt since leaving the UK in 2011 - the smell of a chip shop. The frying, the batter, the fish. Mmm. I've missed that smell. It's actually one of those true British smells this BBC Mind The Gap article suggests that you'll come to miss if you ever leave the UK, alongside ya know, rain, cut grass, curry and say petrol. Chip shops in the tradition sense that you see in every British town are rare in America and Scotty's is one of the few places that offers food to go alongside having seating. You can smell the original owners Scottish heritage in the air by the way they fry their house boned and cut cod. The batter itself, well that's a secret recipe just as old as the establishment.   


Scotty's is one of those places that often ends up on, or very close to the top of the best places in Detroit and it's surrounding area for fish n chips and you can see why. And it's very, very popular. With fresh fish, hand cut coleslaw and homemade tartar sauce, they certainly know what they are doing. Sadly the chips were more of the thinner American variety, but they were fried tasty enough that I could see past it. And don't get me started on their homemade pies - their lemon meringue pie, well that just topped everything off perfectly.

Sadly many would overlook eating in Scotty's because of it's location. On the corner of Fenkell and Dolphin, Scotty's is a long standing residence of the Detroit community of Brightmoor, one often referred to as "Blightmoor". Those Detroit horror stories are nearly always given in reference to this area, regardless of whether they are true or not. Still, it's a pretty darn popular place. 


Scotty's fish n chips offers authentic food, one that speaks proper British way of frying and serving them. But also speaks authentic Detroit - from the friendly service, the mom n pop feel, there's nothing fancy. They know what they do and they do it really well. While a lot of the other places in Michigan (and Pittsburgh) offer fish n chips, especially in British, Irish, Scottish themed places, their dishes lack that original taste that I grew up. 

And while it's a bit of a drive for us, I'll certainly be dragged Joe back there when i'm craving proper British style fish, it's worth it for the smell along. 

Fancy some great British style fish n chips in Detroit? 
Scotty Simpson's Fish n Chips;
22200 Fenkell Ave
Detroit, Michigan, 48223

Monday, 23 March 2015

LIFE: Photo an Hour March 2015

Another month, another attempt at me keeping up with the photo an hour link up with Louisa and Jane - so far, so good! Oddly enough this year they keep falling on Saturdays were our plans go out the window (we had a great stock fill up at an estate sale the weekend previous so there was so real need to hit any this weekend) but they kinda show how daily life for me really is. 


9 am // because we'd finished off all the yummy cinnamon & raisin and the banana bread muffins (thank you Thomas the Baker) it was back to the odd Reeses Puffs for breakfast. I have to admit, a sure sign of me getting older much be this eating of breakfast malarkey. And ya know, awesome Yorkshire slang coasters. 

10 am // you can always tell when life gets busy by my lack of cross stitching which basically made up last week. I'm totally slacking on the SAL piece i'm working on so it was high time I tried to catch up.


11 am // both cats were having one of their rolling around like beached whales sessions. Smokey (pictured - you can see Ed doing the same here a couple of days previous) loves paper bags - sitting on or in them, but nothing beats rolling around on a paper bag showing off her tummy because she wants tummy rubs. 

12 pm // because it's just awesome to put Transformers into badass poses. 


1 pm // after wrestling with the self service machine in the Post Office I met Joe at the garage (well technically he met me at the cross roads because I HATE HATE HATE crossing roads in America, especially when they are five lines by myself) where the car was getting an oil change and something else done. I got highly amused watching it go up and down while reading months old magazines in the waiting room. 

2 pm // trip to Meijer to finally get me some potting compost for starting off some of my seeds inside, some little pots and some veg seeds for when it gets warmer to sow (radishes, fancy coloured carrots and onions). 


3 pm // back home via Toys R Us and I finally got around to trying some local tea. Joseph Wesley is a Detroit company and one of their teas (no 2.) was inside of a Mitten Create box I won before Christmas. I'm not a big loose tea drinker, but this was pretty tasty.

4 pm // binge watching Armitage III while trying to get back to doing some more sewing but Ed has other ideas. This is a typical scene if i'm on the sofa stitching on an afternoon because she can see straight out into the front garden and see the girls on the feeders. That and she wants attention.


5 pm // know me and you'll know Taco Bell is a massive weakness of mine. The new Sriarcha Quesrito being a new favorite of mine. Tasty tasty in my tummy.

6 pm // trying to catch up on blog read and, while having a break from the anime, we watched a couple of episodes of the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt after hearing great things about it. It certainly lives up to the hype. 


7 pm // it took a while for the sun to come out today, but i'm loving not only hearing the birds chirping away in the morning, but the lovely lighter evenings. 

8 pm // enjoying a slice of banana bread (baked from a 1944 recipe) and how the rest of my evening was spent - enjoying some whiskey, watching more anime and working on some blog posts. 

So that was basically my Saturday, nothing really to write home about but just the little things that pretty much make up my life daily, which if you're interested you can find me sharing over on IG. How was your weekend?

Thursday, 19 March 2015

LIFE: A Tale of a Grand Carriage, An Adopted Baby & a Cathedral


Look deep enough and you'll probably find a family history mystery within your own genealogy. As a geeky teenager I use to love drawing up family trees and talking to my gran about her history and life (she did make it into the Durham newspaper in the 1930's for falling into the river after all). But there was always one side of the family tree that we could never fill, that of my great granddad on my mam's mum's side. 

The story that we know starts in early 1900's Durham, a small city in the North East of England. A smart, elegant and extremely rich carriage or so they say arrived in the city and dropped off a baby to a house in the shadows of the cathedral. For the first couple of years at Christmas and birthdays, cards with money would arrive, we presume from the mother and then they stopped. We don't know if my great granddad questioned his heritage, he knew he was adopted but how much he asked, or investigated we will never know. He was however caught as a late teen going through some papers, papers which revealed his heritage, grabbed by his adoptive mother and thrown into the fire before he could ever cast his eye over them. She had been sworn to secrecy.

This secret was one which would never be told. He came to work in the castle at the time when university life was was for the upper class, when they were waited on hand and foot and being Durham, it was closely linked to the Cathedral. Family folklore comes to state many a person, especially in the religious order stated "we should be waiting on you" as my great grandfather served and helped them. People in the church knew the tale, knew of whom his family really was, but none would ever tell. 

Durham Green

Tales of legitimate child during this era are rift, it's what period dramas love after all and we're lead to believe this is just one such tale. As he died in the 1950's it was put upon his grandchildren to try and discover the truth. I forget how, but there were records of the hotel somewhere down south in which we believe he was born in, the records were lost in a fire, everything, any documents were always lost to fire. Perhaps his mother was a maid, a street girl, lover, a mistress of someone too well connected to be seen having legitimate children paid off and sent away. Well that's what the family historian was lead to believe, he even made assumption as to who the father was - due to the presence and location of the hotel and other pieces of family folklore which I now forget. The assumed father's name has been suggested as one very prominent in London at the time, but either way there's no real proof.

It's a mystery that has always intrigued me because it's one that will never be solved, it's one that somewhat illogically effects me occasionally about knowing where I come from. Not one of the people who knew my great grandfathers heritage shared the secret, not one and many knew. That's the part that bugs me, that's what makes me think there's something a lot deeper that the clergy knew and were ultimately involved. 

Do you have any family tales to share?