Thursday 4 September 2014


Sunday 6 April 2014

Sparkle's Weekend Recipe: Slow Cooked BBQ Pulled Pork (Slimming World Friendly!)

This is one of my favourite recipes for an easy but delicious tea, without the guilt factor as it is entirely slimming world friendly - in fact the BBQ Pulled Pork is FREE of syns on the Extra Easy plan.

You Will Need:

*A slow cooker (Or you could cook it in a conventional oven on a low heat for 4 or 5 hours covered with foil)
*1.5-2 kg Pork Shoulder - All visible fat removed
*5 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
*1 heaped tsp of mustard powder
*3 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
*500g Passata
*2 cloves of garlic, crushed
*3 tbsp sweetener
*Salt and pepper

How To Prepare:

*Remove all fat from the pork and place in the slow cooker

*Combine all other ingrediants in a jug or bowl, and mix well

*Pour the sauce over the pork, and cook covered on a low heat for approximately 6 hours

*It should come out looking something like this....

*using a knife and fork, shred the pork roughly 

*And that's your lot!

*Serve with sweet potato fries and healthy coleslaw, Salad, crusty bread or whatever you see fit....and enjoy!!!


Wednesday 2 April 2014

Afternoon Tea at Bovey Castle

Virgin Experience Days have almost an almost endless choice of experience days available.

We went along for the Champagne Afternoon Tea for Two at Bovey Castle, right here in Devon.

I'd never been to Bovey Castle before, and I was impressed from the moment we pulled up - the castle was simply stunning, set amongst fields of rolling hills for miles around - there was even valet who parked our car for us!

The decor inside was beautiful - I sometimes worry in places such as these that we will seem perhaps a little out of place, particularly with a young baby in tow - but the staff here made us feel instantly at ease. In particular the waiter Samuel who made a real fuss of Tyne, and was just about the friendliest and most accommodating person we've met for a long time - more establishments need to employ staff like Samuel!

I was particularly impressed as they had no idea we were there to review, and so the service we received was 100% genuine.

Our experience day included a glass each of champagne, and a choice of teas (Jon opted for the English breakfast tea, and I tried their Rose blend which was delicious and very refreshing!)

Then arrived a selection of finger sandwhiches, traditional cream tea with jam & clotted cream, and a selection of mini pastries.


Saturday 8 March 2014

Highbullen Hotel: Review

Having lived in Devon for around 6 years on and off, I am somewhat ashamed to admit that I have never ventured further afield than Exeter.

I had heard many great things about North Devon but yet for some reason, whenever it came time to think of weekend's away or seaside holidays - Cornwall always seemed the go-to destination.

However, we were recently invited along to the HighBullen Hotel which is located in the heart of North Devon's spectacular countryside - nestled between Dartmoor & Exmoor national parks, and just a short drive from the city of Exeter.

I had browsed the website before our arrival, and thought it looked like a pleasant, quaint countryside hotel - I expected to have a nice time of course.

I realise that reviews such as this can often be over-enthusiastic - but I am speaking the truth when I say that no amount of poetic description or unbridled praise could possibly do this hotel justice.

We drove through the beautiful North Devon country roads on our approach to HighBullen on a beautiful sunny day, admiring the we pulled up to the hotel itself we saw what we expected to, a pretty manor house-style hotel.

It was when we stepped inside that we realised this place was something truly special....

The decor is elegant and tasteful, yet still very luxurious - the feature staircase in the main hall is very eye catching and you can't help but feel elegant descending on your way down to dinner.

There are 2 or 3 very pretty morning rooms, each with stunning views across the sprawling North Devon countryside - the perfect place to take afternoon tea or relax with the morning paper.


Saturday 1 March 2014

Pizza Express: Review

I was recently invited to visit my local Pizza Express to try out their new Seasonal Specials menu.

I have only been to Pizza Express once before and that was for takeout food, so I was looking forward to trying it out properly as I hear a lot of positive talk about it from friends.

Our nearest Pizza Express is in Torquay, so that's where we headed....we decided to go just after lunch time, which meant the restaurant was very quiet - there were only 2 or 3 other tables filled, and by the time our meal was over we were the only people in there - very relaxing!

The staff were extremely friendly on arrival, I wish I had got the waiters name (he had a west midlands accent if that helps!) as he was very friendly and accommodating.

I was immediately struck with the decor of the restaurant - I particularly loved the rather unusual & funky chairs dotted along the walls going up the stairs!

The menu was pretty extensive and I had a hard time deciding what to the end I asked the staff for advice as I simply couldn't decide between pasta or pizza, but they suggested the pizza and - given that this IS Pizza Express after all - I decided that's what I would go with!

Our starters arrived very quickly....the kitchen is very open plan and you can see the chef working away, so I knew our main courses wouldn't be far behind as I could see him preparing them as we tucked in to our starters!


Thursday 27 February 2014

Tiger Bills Restaurant: Review

Last week, we were invited along to try out Tiger Bills restaurant in Torquay.

For those who are not familiar with Tiger Bills, they are a family-friendly restaurant chain who bring together the East & West - with two deliciously mouth-watering menu's to tempt you - giving you the choice of the best of Thai street food and the best of the Western grill offering the traditional favourites such as baby back ribs, juicy steaks and delicious burgers!

I love the concept of combining these two dining styles, as so often families are torn when deciding on a place to eat out - but when a restaurant brings two styles together in this way it makes life so much easier - spicy noodles and Thai green curry for Mum & Dad, and burgers & chips for the kids - perfect!

Jon & I had actually previously been to Tiger Bills in Exeter - in actual fact, it was where we had our very first proper date!!! (Aaaaah!!!) - so it was somewhat surreal to be going back there again.

But this time we were going to the Torquay branch, which we hadn't even realised existed until a few weeks ago when we were visiting a nearby restaurant and noticed it across the street.

From the outside, I would say that Tiger Bills perhaps looks a little deceiving - it would strike me as perhaps a bar or somewhere dedicated to the young & trendy, not somewhere I would imagine to be open for lunch or to be family-friendly.

Once you get inside - the whole perspective changes!


Friday 3 January 2014

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