[AD] The Fox & Hounds – Review

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[AD] This post is a gifted opportunity which included a complimentary three-course meal in return for Social Media Coverage and a Blog post.

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The Fox & Hounds of Harlestone has just had a complete make-over, from the decor and interior design to the menu and food itself, and this Saturday 13th July they open the doors again for you all to come in an enjoy their new look. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek before the grand opening and I have to say the whole experience was phenomenal, amazing, Amazingly Phenomenal. Both my GF and I walked away in awe of the entire night and to the team there, we are truly thankful.

I had always heard good things about The Fox & Hounds but never found myself in that neck of the woods to try it out – so I never knew what it was like, but I can safely say now even though it’s a little out of the way from us (20 mins from East Hunsbury so not that far), it is most definitely worth a visit and we will most certainly be going back.

Enterance


 

Imagine this, a lovely warm summers evening. We are greeted by Heather the smiling hostess who shows us through to the bar and gives us a brief rundown on the refurbishment and the new decor before leaving us to explore for ourselves. First stop was the Gin bar. With strawberry and slice of grapefruit in one of those massive gin glasses, we were off and exploring.

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The decor is a fantastic rustic animal themed experience. Mixing old classic woods with modern quirky twists. From portraits of animals in suits. To a wood burner in the middle of the dining room. The Fox and Hounds have its own unique vibe that both my GF and I instantly fell in love with. With a dark Emerald Green colour tastefully covering the dining room, the whole place felt cosy and warm. Then tucked away at the back is the Gin Garden Room – what I can only describe as a botanical garden styled dining room, with flower pots all down the side and overhanging vines and plants across the rafters and windows that overlooked the garden.

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After some time checking out the place, tasting the canapés that were flowing around the bar and enjoying the general fun ambience. We finished our tour and took our seats ready for dinner


This is where the fun begins.

Menu

The passion in Daisy our waitresses voice as she spoke about the menu was superb. She was as happy to be serving us the food as we were to actually eat it. The menu felt like it went on forever, in a good way, the options were widespread which catered for everyone. With Vegan options having their own separate menu. From locally grown produce to 21 day matured prime cuts of meat – it was a tough pick from the amazing selection but we managed it. The choices were made. The order was placed.


Starter

We started with a Sharing Starter. Truffled Honey Baked Camembert. Which as any cheese lover and friend of my GF knows, is a top choice. It was served with honey drizzled walnuts and figs on top and a selection of sourdough and rye bread bites. This went down a treat, perfectly cooked and so Moorish. The only tidbit we had was it could have done with a couple more slices of the bread. The cheese to bread ratio was very Pro Cheese. But we didn’t grumble too much. It just meant more cheese smothered on the bread. Yum Yum


We moved onto the main which, like everything, looked amazing. The detail and commitment to presentation rang through the whole evening and honestly we couldn’t fault it. If anything it just made us fall more in love with the place.

Main Course

So I ordered the Rib Eye steak and the GF ordered the Pork Belly with broccoli and some Halloumi Fries for the table. The steak is always a bold choice at any restaurant. The fear of not having it cooked how you like it. Well, The Fox and Hounds team of chefs launched those worries out the window and I was presented with a juicy, tasty, succulent Rare Steak. It was divine. I also had a ‘Signature caramelised onion, stilton and panko crumb tart’ on my plate which when ordering I was unsure what it was. But after a couple of bites, it turned out I really enjoyed it. While opposite me the GF was tucking into her mountain of Pork Belly and mash potatoes. We traded bites like any lovey romcom film would and I have to say. The potatoes were amazing and the pork just melted in your mouth. She thoroughly enjoyed her meal but at one point it looked like the drinks, canapés, starter and main had won. There were talks of no dessert as were both very full. Scary right.

 

Then Daisy came over and asked the dreaded dessert question and we looked at each other. The GF said – none for me. (Noooo). So I took the leap and asked for a menu, I had just enough space for something sweet. We gave it a minute, asked for some time to decide and just took a moment to bask in the ambience of the pub. The second wind kicked in and we both ordered a desert! The GF went for a mini pud and coffee, opting for the Chocolate Brownie and I went for the Eton Mess featuring Cassis . . . . which I was not sure what that was but with Daisy on hand to find out we were about to learn something new. Moments later she came back to explain its a red berry liqueur. Well, I was sold. And when it came out it was the freshest fruitiest dish which was perfect after a big meal. It didn’t feel heavy or filling it was just right. The GF and I sat chatting and sharing desserts as the night came to a close, which during this, Becky the General Manager popped over to check in, see how we were and how we were finding our experience. Which we couldn’t fault at all. Smiles beamed across our faces as we discussed the pub, the menu and the decor with her.

 

All of the staff were amazing, everyone we spoke to was friendly, polite and passionate about us having a great dining experience which in this day an age of chains and takeaways is so refreshing.

It was truly an amazing evening that we both genuine loved.

Overall my review of The Fox and Hounds of Harlestone is this: Set to the backdrop of the countryside, the Fox and Hounds new refurb is a stunning breathtaking place that has everything you could ask for in a pub; from friendly happy to help staff, to luxurious decor and cosy settings, to a menu that just keeps giving. Whatever the occasion, and I suggest you find one just to go here. Birthday, Date Night, Random Wednesday out. Whatever the reason you will not be disappointed with what you find.

The grand reopening is this Saturday 13th July, use their website now to book a table.

WEBSITE

The Fox and Hounds.

TELEPHONE

01604 821251

ADDRESS

The Fox & Hounds,

Harlestone Road,

Northampton,

NN7 4EW


 

1561376214907

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Hmmm Wait a Moment

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About a year ago I said I’d do a guest post for SarahDanne over on Unexplored Boundaries – but I struggled to think of a topic, life got in the way and I never did it. Sarah came knocking like a year later to see what happened and as I didn’t want to let her down (again) I sat down to pen a post. It dropped at the start of May and here is the link

Being as it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and i’ve been overwhelmed with support and appreciation I felt it was a good time to share this myself.


This post is somewhat long overdue but I am here to share some wisdom.

This is dedicated to something I’ve learnt recently. Something that made me stop and go “Hmmm wait a moment”, something that has changed my outlook on life and on the way the world works.

This is regarding Mental Health.

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For the longest time, I have always thought to myself – Mentally I am strong, very strong. While I hear and see people complain and suffer from bouts of Mental Illnesses, I’d never given it much thought. For the regards of the person, the situation and the condition. Don’t get me wrong, I have always been a supportive person who would do anything for anyone – If I can help I will always strive to do so. But my grasp on the concept of Mental Illness was always lacking in knowledge and I would put an unsympathetic mindset down to that lack of knowledge.

This was until this year. 2019 set in and I stumbled across several things that in turn would help me better my understand, increase my compassion and also motivate me to help.

Image result for ant middleton quoteAs I’ve mentioned before in other posts I really got hit with the S.A.S: Who Dares Wins bug. The show grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, shook me about and threw me in the corner of the room to witness and watch life from a different perspective. This started my obsession with Ant Middleton, his motivational speaking and way of thinking which I took onboard as a lesson in growth and way to growth mental strength. Along with this new found respect and understanding, I also took a step back and truly looked at my Twitter, the people I follow, the people I support and the people who follow me.

It’s really struck a chord with me, the idea of Mental Health – especially for men and how it is poorly represented in society, in the media and in life. There is a stigma regarding it and even once upon a time, I would have used the term “Man Up” without truly thinking of the meaning or situation that the person I am saying it to is in. With the inspiration from Ant Middleton, Jason Fox, the S.A.S team and the amazing people on twitter that I follow I’ve come to realise that more should be done – it needs to be done. So I’ve decided to try and lay the foundations for something bigger, a movement or safe space as it were. For a way to give back, to help people, to give an outlet, support and the guidance that is needed – while striving to remove the stigma completely.

This is my next mission, my next chapter, my chance to do something rewarding, meaningful and helpful.

 

This is me.

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Getting Camera Ready [AD]

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[AD] This post is part of a paid opportunity.

With the summer rolling in, the BBQ’s being fired up and the late summer nights going on forever, what’s a better time to get yourself a new camera. A perfect way to capture those moments of fun; from road trips to music festivals to beach days and just moments you want to remember forever.

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Whatever the event, occasion or reason, Latest Deals have some amazing deals on a range of digital camera; from Action HD Cameras, to DSLR’s, to Pocket Digi Cam’s and even Security Cameras. Check out the following link to find the latest deal – Latest Deals Camera’s

Some of these offers and discounts are unbelievable, but they are constantly changing so if you miss one great offer rest assured another is right around the corner. As I write this there is a £100 saving on a Nikon DSLR which is a significant discount which could be the selling point for your purchase – and why wouldn’t it be.

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I think the camera is one of the best things you can spend money on. A way to capture moments and memories that will last a lifetime – yes I am aware of how cliched that sounds, but it’s so right, isn’t it? Birthdays, Weddings, Parties, Memories. All stored with the click of a button. And Latest Deals is a great place to supply you with the equipment, with handy guides and information about the different styles and types of camera’s, they give you all the know-how and insight you might need to make an informed decision about buying a new camera. What’s not to love. Even the cool flow diagram (above) is a key part of their marketing design to assess what style of a camera might be best suited to you. Are you thinking of pocket size, viewfinder, interchangeable lenses? Whatever style or piece of kit you are looking for and for what you are looking to do with it – Latest Deals will guide you to the right choice at a crazy discounted price. Can’t say fairer than that on service right.

So what is stopping you, break open that piggy bank, check out the guide and order a new camera today, all in time for the long hot summer of fun and memories that will last a lifetime.

I love my DSLR and wish I got it out more, there is some real beauty in the world and it would be a shame to not capture it forever.

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Edmond de Bergerac – A Review.

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[Gifted] This post is in association with The Royal & Derngate Theatre Northampton.

Here I am again, back with another cultural insight into the world of theatre by reviewing the play “Edmond de Bergerac”. Now let me begin by saying when this opportunity came knocking I had to pause and google what I was signing up for because I knew the name, the phrase but couldn’t put my finger on what it was.

The press release reads as such: Edmond de Bergerac is the hilarious story behind Cyrano de Bergerac. Set in Paris in 1897, playwright Edmond Rostand (Freddie Fox) is approaching his thirtieth birthday with no new plays but a whole lot of worries. He has not written anything in two years and in desperation has promised a new play to the acting superstar, Constant Coquelin (Henry Goodman).


Right from an opening couple of scenes, it was obvious this play was going to be a hyper form of realism, a dynamic mix of sets, acting changes and pure thespian magic. In a strange blend of intercontextuality the play tells the story of a writer, using his own words, life experience and love letters to create a play of which tells a more exaggerated version of his own private life – but with a few extra additions, like a duel!

Henry Goodman & Freddie FoxThe cast is fabulous and committed to every role with so much passion and dedication that even when they play several characters you can easily follow which character is which just by their talent of giving each character their own personality. With big names like Freddie Fox, Henry Goodman, Josie Lawrence and Chizzy Akudolu the play carries great presence and though they were all great it was the supporting cast that stole the show in my opinion – in particular, Simon Gregor; who plays some very wild, over the top and somewhat comical characters such as The Wardrobe Master and the Hotel Receptionist. And Robin Morrissey as Leo, Edmonds friend and ultimately the victim of a stolen identity whose comedic timing and compatibility with the other actors makes every scene and almost every line he delivers a laugh out loud moment.


henry-goodman-coquelin-robin-morrissey-leo-gina-bramhill-jeanne-in-edmond-de-bergerac-credit-graeme-braidwood.jpgAnother aspect of this production that I really enjoyed was the very clever use of the set and stage actions to convey something else happening. Most worthy of a mention is the scene where Leo has climbed a ladder and the ladder ends up falling to the street and also the imitation of the train using costumes to mimic the engine and the use of props and acting to give the illusion the characters are riding in a shaky carriage. Yes, we are aware of how they are done, but in the setting, it’s just pure theatre magic and that is something I love.


Edmond’s play, Cyrano de Bergerac takes many tumbles and suffers several setbacks before it gets off the ground and even when it finally does make it to opening night the lead actress suffers a tragic injury. But the actors playing actors in a play within a play muster on and the production of Cyrano is greeted with multiple encores and raving reviews as the play is a huge success. Cementing Edmond Rostand as the famous playwright we know today and the tale of Cyrano has lived on with him, inspiring many adaptations across all forms of the arts including Theatre, Film, Radio and TV.


I think the underlying message that both Cyrano and Edmond deal with that makes this piece stand out and so relatable is what I guess is modernly called “Catfishing”. The idea of falling for someone’s words and charm without seeing them or knowing who they really are. It just gives you a sense of perspective and a sense of realism that helps the audience relate to the play on a deeper level.

Overall I went into this show apprehensive and unsure of what I was about to watch and instantly within minutes I felt right at home and walked out at the end thoroughly enjoying the whole experience. It’s touring soon and if you get a chance to catch this adaptation I highly urge you to go and check it out.


Running until the 13th of April at the Royal & Derngate Theatre Northampton.

Caroline’s Kitchen: The Review [AD]

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[AD, Gifted] – I was asked by the Royal & Derngate Theatre Northampton to review Caroline’s Kitchen in return for free tickets to the play – this is my review.

Last night I had the pleasure of watching “Caroline’s Kitchen” a dark domestic comedy from the mind of Torben Betts, produced by Tom Hackney of The Original Theatre Company and directed by Alastair Whatley at the Royal & Derngate in Northampton.

The play follows Caroline Mortimer (played by the fabulous Caroline Langrishe), a beloved celebrity chef who has it all; an amazing career, loving family and a top end kitchen that we could only dream of. Life is good – or so it seems, but once she is away from the lights and the camera’s, a dark cloud begins to appear over her private life. A storm is brewing and it’s about to wreak havoc.


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Set across the course of one day, the whole play is set in the Kitchen – the heart of the home, as we watch Caroline’s life spiral out of control, the set and the kitchen mirrors this. Starting off as a prim and proper, clean set by the end of the play it’s just like Caroline, the Kitchen is a mess – it’s broken and disjointed. Which is a subtle but very clever way of personifying an object or space to represent a characters transition or mental state. Caroline’s perfect life revolves around her work and more importantly her Kitchen, which is a mirror of herself.

For me it started off at a slow pace – I was a bit lost on what was going on and where it was going but halfway through the first act it really got into its stride and by the interval, I was hooked and on the edge of my seat. Eager for the second half to kick off and continue this mini roller coaster.

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The turning point for me was the introduction of Mike (Caroline’s Golf-loving Husband, played by Aden Gillett) a retired banker who is dealing with a form of depression, looking at life in a bleak miserable way – wishing he had gotten more from life instead of working and then being left as an old broken man. Playing the role of a stereotypical upper-middle-class white man, with his casual racist and politically incorrect outlook on life, he resembled a lead from an old Ealing Studios film. Which I found hilarious and couldn’t get enough of. I guess this probably suggests something about my level of humour and old man mentality.

This is also in no disrespect to the rest of the cast, I really enjoyed both Jasmyn Banks and Elizabeth Boag’s performances. As Amanda, Caroline’s Sassy Drugged up PA and Sally a disgruntled visitor with more on her mind than a house viewing. Both of these women in my eyes dominated the play when they were on stage. Drawing focus from the likes of Caroline, Leo or Graham the remaining cast members. There is a clear divide where the cast range from amazing and captivating, to lacklustre and boring. The latter in my eyes was Graham – the carpenter. I couldn’t gauge his accent as it changed from North London to pure Northern at times. His timing wasn’t on par with the other cast mates and when he was on stage I just felt awkward wondering what he was going to say or do next. I’m not sure if it was meant to be intentional and that his character was a bit slow but sadly that is how it came across.

This was my only gripe so let’s move swiftly on and not dwell on the negatives too much.

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Overall I really enjoyed this production, the best way I can describe it is by comparing it to that final episode of season one of Dr Foster. Where the truth is coming out and the repercussions are flying around that family meal. It rolled around nicely and with every comment or quip, I was left on tenterhooks waiting to see how the next character would react. It might leave you thinking what just happened for a moment but then once it has settled in you can really appreciate the tone, themes and dynamic of the play. Questioning Morality, Monogamy, Depression and Mental Health – while spreading a dark twisted sense of humour on top.

I would say this play could engage a younger generation who aren’t as ‘Into’ theatre as other generations and something like this would be a great way to spark that passion. The script is snappy and sassy which I would say would be appealing to a younger audience, but still with enough humour and references to engage a more mature audience. As I saw last night, there was young and old sitting together laughing at the same things, bringing people together.

It is showing at the Derngate Northampton for the rest of this week before moving onto Liverpool, Cheltenham and a few other places until the end of it’s run in April. I would highly recommend watching it if you get a chance. You will be pleasantly surprised.

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I also want to thank the Derngate again for giving me the Opportunity to review this production.