Date Night at The Printworks

With Valentines just around the corner, it’s that time of year again where couples go on the hunt for somewhere suitable to spend the evening and celebrate their relationships. We found that perfect place in The Printworks Manchester!

My fiance and I still go on regular date nights, usually just a meal out once a month, but this time we decided to try something a bit different. For our most recent date night, we decided to spend the evening at The Printworks in Manchester. The joy of The Printworks is that not only do you have (at last count) thirteen restaurants, but you can also follow up with a film, and a few drinks in the bar, without leaving the building!  Continue reading “Date Night at The Printworks”

Princess Leia – The Geek’s Princess

Following the tragic news of Carrie Fisher’s death, (god damn you 2016) I was compelled to write about her most iconic role, Princess Leia, and why she was so important to the world.

I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of voices suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced.

I fear something terrible has happened.

Princess Leia was an outstanding role model for young girls, myself included, and reminds me of my other hero Ellen Ripley. She didn’t have superpowers, she wasn’t even a Jedi like the other heroes in the Star Wars Saga, she was just a girl. It is in these most normal of women that we see true strength, and I thank Carrie Fisher for bringing this iconic character to life, in such an outstanding way, at just 19 years old. Continue reading “Princess Leia – The Geek’s Princess”

What to expect when owning a Siberian kitten

I’ve not been a cat owner for very long, and before that, I wasn’t even a cat person, so I wasn’t sure what to expect from owning one. After deciding to get a cat, our breed of choice was the Siberian. As I was allergic we had to opt for a hypoallergenic breed, and Siberians seemed to be the most cute and fluffy. So a Siberian kitten it was…

Continue reading “What to expect when owning a Siberian kitten”

Working at MadLab – one year on

I almost can’t believe that I’ve now been working at MadLab for over a year. So much has happened, and I have had so many opportunities to develop. I’d hate to think what I would be doing right now had I not taken the plunge.

I started with MadLab in June 2015 as their Bookings Manager, but now, I have become so much more. I was originally in charge of looking after venue hires, courses, desk hires, and general day to day management of the building, but this has now evolved into;

  • Venue hire management
  • Courses management
  • Desk-hire management for two venues
  • Day to day management of two venues
  • Workshop development
  • Workshop delivery
  • Event organising
  • Project management
  • Training
  • Community management
  • Staff management
  • Staff development
  • Bid writing (although I’m still crap at it)
  • Marketing (also not my strongest point)

Despite the comprehensive list, I’m still not convinced that entirely covers everything I do. The thing about working at MadLab is that no two days are the same, and I can be doing completely different things from week to week.

Continue reading “Working at MadLab – one year on”

Hacking with the Raspberry Pi

I’ve had a Raspberry Pi now for almost 2 years, and in all honesty, I haven’t really done much with it. I bought the Pi because it was advertised as helping people (ok, children, but who cares) learn how to code, but when I first started out, I just couldn’t work out how.

Problem 1

IMG_20141226_193755The Raspberry Pi itself is just a pocket sized computer. Once you’re up and running, your basically left with a linux computer, much the same as if you were running any linux operating system from your laptop. I just couldn’t work out how this was supposed to help people learn how to code, any more than coding from any other linux computer, and the novelty of the Pi became lost on me.

Problem 2

Being an adult who didn’t at the time work in the technology sector, your access to resources are more limited. Children have loads of places they can go to learn how to do amazing things with the Raspberry Pi, there are Code Clubs galore, and CoderDojos provide additional time for learning, but these aren’t available for adults. There are Raspberry Jams, but every local meetup seemed to clash with something else, and I was never able to go.

Solution 1

minecraft-2In December last year I discovered how to hack Minecraft Pi, and suddenly I found something amazing to do, that helped me improve my coding skills. I loved putting my Python knowledge into practice, and thought that Craig Richardson’s book was an amazing resource. This made me love my Pi again, and writing about it now makes me want to work through some more projects in the book.

Solution 2

raspberrypib+Recently, I have discovered HATs (Hardware Attached on Top), and I think I’ve found the real reason that the Raspberry Pi is credited with helping people learn how to code. There are so many add-on boards available for the Raspberry Pi, and the introduction of the model B+ has made working with these boards accessible to everyone, no matter how much technical know how you possess.

Over the next few months I hope to get back into hacking with the Raspberry Pi, and aim to work my way through some of the HATs I have acquired. So stay tuned for posts on how I did with the Unicorn, Displayatron, Piano, Propeller and Explorer HATs!

My Exotic Meat Adventure, supplied by Kezie Foods

I’ve always been happy to try any food once, but it’s not often you get chance to try more unusual meats. When I lived in Yorkshire, I often frequented Temujin in Sowerby Bridge, which supplies you with unlimited fresh cooked stir fry, and often includes a selection of exotic meats. It is because of Temujin, than I love Kangaroo!

Also, when we went to Iceland, we got the pleasure of sampling both Horse and Minke Whale steak, and the horse especially, was so nice, we have always wanted to try it again.

Enter, Kezie Foods. Recommended to us as Temujin’s supplier, we decided to branch out and try as many different meats as we could. So after our purchase of over £60 worth of meat, here’s what we came up with;

Kangaroo

Stir Fry – with Char Sui sauce, noodles and an Asda stir fry vegetable pack, we thoroughly enjoyed our home made Temujin! The kangaroo meat is brilliantly tender and succulent, and will remain one of my favourite exotic meats.

Kebabs – Having plenty of Kangaroo meat, we also made kebabs. With the meat soaked in red wine and coriander, cooked on skewers with onion, red & yellow peppers and mushrooms, and served with rice and raita.

Zebra

Next up was the Zebra steaks, which we served with asparagus, carrots, mushrooms, baby sweetcorn, jacket potato and pepper sauce. The zebra was a deep red colour, and had a rich taste. Although very nice, I couldn’t help compare it to horse, which in my opinion, is much nicer. We enjoyed the zebra, but I don’t know if we will get this one again.

Camel

For camel we decided to try the Camel Sausages, which we served with mash potato, Yorkshire pudding & gravy. This was one of Arran’s favourites, but for me, even though the sausages were really meaty, for me they had too much of a beefy taste, and it didn’t fit having them as sausages. I think we’re going to try this meat again in steak form.

Spingbok

We ordered the Sprinkbok Haunch Steak, which for some reason comes partially cooked. As an avid fan of rare/medium rare steaks, we think this may have ruined this one for us. Served with mash potato, carrots, asparagus, spring onion, sugar snap peas and onion gravy, the meat was ok, a solid game meat, but tasted quite dry. We don’t think we’ll order this one again, unless we can get it uncooked.

Wild Boar

For this one we went for the Wild Boar & Apple Burgers, and we served with lettuce, tomato, onion, mayo, fries, onion rings and coleslaw. These burgers were lovely, very juicy, sweet, and lots of flavour, and we will definitely be getting these again.

Buffalo

Although we ordered the steak, we decided to do something a bit different with the Buffalo, and sliced up the meat to make fajitas. The Buffalo Striploin Fillet Fajitas were served with peppers, mushroom & onion, sour cream & guacamole, and tortilla chips. This was another beautiful meat, tasting similar to a very high quality beef, which went very well in a fajita, and another one we would like to try again. In fact, I would rather have buffalo to a regular beef steak anytime!

Horse

The Horse Striploin Fillet was the one I was waiting for, and it didn’t disappoint! Served in a similar style to how we had it in Iceland, we went with a baked potato, stir fry peppers, mushroom, asparagus and onion, and pepper sauce. The horse was absolutely my favourite of all the meats we went through, tasting similar to a sweet beef with a subtle game flavour, and will certainly be ordered over and over again.

Rabbit

We used the Rabbit Meat to make a Stew in the slow cooker, with thyme, carrots, onions, potatoes, and dumplings. While the meat was ok, it wasn’t really anything special, too similar to chicken, and I don’t think we’re bothered about getting this one again.

Elk

The Elk Meatballs we decided to serve with bacon, coriander, spaghetti, tomato pasta sauce and garlic bread. The elk was a nice change to traditional meatballs, but wasn’t something I was desperate to try again. Perhaps the elk flavour was lost in the meal, and if we do try this again, we’re more likely to go for a steak to sample the full flavour.

Llama

For Llama we went with the mince, and decided to go for a Chili with onion, pittas, rice and sour cream dip. Very simple, and done with passata instead of chopped tomato to keep it smooth, the llama made a lovely twist on the standard beef chili. As there was plenty of chili to go around, we finished off the batch as a side for a jacket potato, another great accompaniment for this dish. Unfortunately we feel we may not have fully experienced the full flavour of the llama itself, similar to beef, this would likely make a good burger. We may try this again in a different format.

Wagyu Beef

We picked the Wagyu Beef Sweet Chilli Burgers, as this is a very expensive meat to have in steak form! Served with lettuce, tomato, onion, sweet chilli sauce, fries and onion rings, this was another amazingly succulent and mouth watering meat. Wonderful for burgers, we may one day have to take the plunge and give the steak a try.

Reindeer

We were really looking forward to the Reindeer Haunch Steak, and it was definitely a great steak to leave until last. Seasoned with black pepper & thyme, and served with parsnip, broccoli, cauliflower, carrot, asparagus and roast potatoes, this, after horse, was probably my favourite steak of the lot. The steak was very tender and succulent, and we’re considering having this for Christmas this year!

Alpaca

To round off the exotic meals, we had the Alpaca Meatballs, and turned them into spicy kofta, seasoned with coriander, black pepper & lemon zest, and served on skewers with lime and coriander rice & raita, this was another lovely meat we would be happy to try again.

Overall, we were very impressed with the quality of meat from Kezie Foods, and we’ll be putting in another order very soon!

Weird things that happen when you leave Yorkshire

I don’t think I knew just how Yorkshire I was until I ventured out of the motherland more frequently. I went to Uni in Lincoln for one year, but in the midst of students from all over the country, my Yorkshireness didn’t really stand out as being that unusual.

Last year I moved to Manchester, and my Yorkshireness has become not just something that appears to very noticeable, but something that I’m also very proud of.

Here are some weird things I have noticed since leaving Yorkshire

1. Eye Spy – You’ll never guess what they can see when they have weird names for everything. I spent 30 minutes trying to guess what my Prestonion boyfriend could see beginning with M, despite the fact I could blatantly see the clothes horse in the corner, how the hell was I supposed to know that people from Lancashire call it a maiden…..

2. The Bread Debate – No matter how long I spend here, I just can’t order a bacon barm, it’s a bloody butty, and I don’t care if I get funny looks when I say it. Also, I will continue to order a toasted currant teacake, because if I don’t specify currant, I wouldn’t expect there to be currants in it! It’s weird over here, barm = teacake, teacake = currant teacake, and I don’t like it.

bread

3. Fish & Chips – Fish and chips over here is just traumatising, don’t even bother, if you really want some, go back to Yorkshire. Firstly, they don’t even have proper chippies here, instead, they’re weird Chinese/Fish & Chip hybrid shops, so your curry sauce is Chinese curry, and they don’t know know what bits or scraps are. Also, they’ve never heard of a fish butty, they look at you funny, so you have to order a ‘barm’ and fish separate, and make your own at home. Lastly, you’re not allowed to put your own salt and vinegar on, they take great offence at this, but I do it anyway, because I’m Yorkshire, and I don’t care. Also, they don’t do fish cakes, or chats. And the fish is not from Whitby.

4. Getting a flat car battery – Getting a flat battery isn’t that big of a deal in Yorkshire, you can usually just push start the car as a quick fix and get the battery checked out when you can make it to a garage. In Manchester it’s not that easy. Last year my battery died in my car, so I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just push start it down a hill’, but then I thought, where’s the nearest hill, and I didn’t think I could push the car from Salford to Oldham. I now have jump leads in the boot, just in case.

5. Snow – There isn’t any, yet you’ll still hear people talking about that one day 5 years ago when they had really bad snow and couldn’t get in to work. That one day was the equivalent of a light spread in Yorkshire, over here they panic before it even starts to stick. These people would never survive Queensbury in winter.

6. The price of beer – If you’re going to leave Yorkshire, juts give up on the nights out now. There’s no more Acca with 50p drinks over here, instead it’s Northern Quarter with it’s £4 a pint minimum or you have to brave it with the students and feel old. At least in the Acca the grannies made you feel young!

7. Your Accent – Leaving Yorkshire you suddenly realise that you do have an accent. Prepare to have random people repeat everything you say back to you in an over the top Yorkshire accent, with the addition of extra t’s.

8. People are less friendly – Don’t bother saying ‘How do?’ to people, they either don’t understand you, or don’t want to know.

9. Tea – It’s just a drink outside of Yorkshire, everyone else’s evening meal seems to be dinner, even though this is wrong, because why would you have dinner ladies if dinner wasn’t 12pm, they think this is just lunch.

10. Yorkshire Puddings – Outside of Yorkshire these only appear on Sundays and accompany beef, (if you’re lucky) the art of having the Yorkshire Pud with any roast seems to be lost outside the motherland.