Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Oakwell Hall

We have lived in Yorkshire most of our lives and we felt it was fitting to create a series of posts dedicated to 'things to do in Yorkshire', and this is the first! Oakwell Hall is an Elizabethan manor house in Birstall, Leeds and we've been coming here on various days out and school trips for years. 

We usually take a picnic as there are many cute places to sit and eat, as well as lots of nature trails and walks!

The surrounding park is lovely to wander around and despite visiting for years we still managed to stumble upon new areas

Oakwell Hall also has a variety of wildlife and especially pondlife to see. We both have memories from being children of seeing tadpoles and spotting leeches and insects skating across the ponds!

One of our favourite things about Oakwell Hall is the tale of their resident ghost. Rumour has it, in 1684 the owner of the house, William Blatt, took a trip to London on a cold December morning. That evening, his family hear the door burst open and see William running past them and up the stairs. Confused as he was supposed to be away for several days, his family followed him to his chamber. However when they reached the room, William was nowhere to be found, the only trace he had been there was a single, bloody footprint left on the floor. The family discovered the next day that William had been killed in a duel the day before when they had seen him run up the stairs! The tale goes that no matter how hard the maids scrubbed the floor, they couldn't remove the footprint, so Blatt's wife locked away the floorboard with the footprint out of sight in the house and is still rumoured to be hidden in the house...

The gardens are lovely to take a stroll around, they're full of wild flowers and honey bees! You can really appreciate the grandeur of the house from this side!

For some reason there's a stone ram at the front of the house, we have obligatory majestic photos every time.

If you're not a fan of a packed lunch there is a cafe and an ice-cream van to enjoy and take a break at!

A trip to Oakwell is always a fun day out, you can also take a tour of the house if you want to see pretty much the same environment described in Charlotte Bronte's Shirley plus there's a really good play area for kids that we looked on with serious envy!

We visit pretty much annually in the summer and enjoy our day every time!

Friday, 25 July 2014

Recipe: Honey Jack Blackberry Lemonade

This cocktail is an amazing use of Tennessee Honey Jack Daniels. Whilst this is delicious in most things, we just love it in this very special lemonade! It's sweet, it's alcoholic and it's damn refreshing, perfect for this beautiful weather we've been having! 

You will need: 
Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey
3 lemons
40g sugar
a large handful of blackberries
ginger ale
Half a cup of water

    To start with, you need to make a sugar syrup for the lemonade, this is super simple to make! Measure out your sugar and pour into a small pan along with the water.

Heat this mixture on a medium until the sugar dissolves and you're left with clear looking water, that's the sugar syrup done!

Now for the lemonade, turn the heat down low and add the blackberries

Stir the blackberries until they become soft, then squash the black berries with a wooden spoon. Don't worry about the seeds coming out, you'll be sieving the mixture later.

Keep stirring and squashing the mixture until it looks like the image above, then turn off the heat.

Next to turn the blackberry mixture into lemonade! Grab your lemons and roll them on a surface with the palm of your hand like the image above, this just releases some of the juices inside and makes it easier to squeeze!

Chop the lemons in half and then squeeze all three lemons into the blackberry mixture, don't worry if the pips and the pulp go in! Once all lemons are thoroughly squeezed, give it all a stir. 

Pour the mixture through a sieve to get rid of the pulp and seeds

Squash the pulp into the sieve to get any remaining juices!

Add a shot or double shot of your Jack Daniels into a glass of ice (we put our glass in the freezer before we started to make it extra cold!)

Pour 3-4 table spoons of the concentrated lemonade mixture into the glass with the whiskey

Top up with ginger ale and you're done! 

For the designated drivers or those who don't fancy alcohol, try adding a tablespoon of honey instead of the JD for an amazing berry mocktail, as seen below! 

As you'll quickly notice, there will be a fair amount of the blackberry lemonade concentrate left over, meaning plenty for seconds or thirds or fourths.. (drink responsibly of course!)
The concentrate is also great with ginger ale on it's own and fizzy lemonade!

We hope you enjoy this recipe, let us know if you try it!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014


Despite attending different universities, our first days of term fell on the same date. So almost three years later, after battling through hours and hours of exams and essays, our degrees were over and it was rather fitting that our graduation ceremonies fell on the same day too. 

S: I personally found graduation to be a little overhyped. Apart from the rare moments during the ceremony when someone would take a selfie with the chancellor, the whole thing was rather dull. I much preferred the post-ceremony celebrations - free Pimms woo! It was lovely spending the day with my friends and family, and there was such a sense of occasion it was impossible not to feel slightly excited! However, as the day wound down there was a sense of "what now?" which has remained with me since. Panic has set it - the job hunt is on.

L: Graduating for me felt a little surreal, as soon as I had the hat forcibly pressed onto my head I was just overwhelmed with one big 'whaaaaaat'. Like Sophie's day, mine was also a little dull until it got to my time to walk across the stage, i've never been so nervous about walking 20 metres before! Luckily I didn't have a little fall or flash or slip or do anything to embarrass myself, I even got some 'woos' from the audience which pleased me immensely! Had a chance to take a few pictures with the boyfriend and his family met my family for the first time (really strange!) The day was over really quickly, like my time at university itself, now to decide what I'm doing with my life!