Friday, 15 January 2021

Visiting Herstmonceux Castle and Gardens, East Sussex

Herstmonceux Castle in East Sussex is a great example of moated castle & makes a fun day out for all the family

The castle gardens and grounds will re-open 13th February 2021.

We've lived about a ten-minute drive from Herstmonceux castle for over seven years and had never yet visited it. We've been talking about going for quite some time and finally, in early October 2020 my husband and I headed over there and I am so glad we did, as it is lovely. Just as nice as many National Trust sites I've visited before and a good price too.

We paid £7 per adult to visit the gardens and grounds, and it would have been £17.50 for a family of 2 adults and 2 children. Normally you can have a tour of the castle, which is used as a study centre for the Queen's University in Canada, but not at the moment during the pandemic. It didn't matter though as there are 300 acres to explore and in nice weather, you could spend a number of hours here.

An Amazing Slice of History

Herstmonceux castle really is a beautiful example of a moated castle. It started to be built in 1441 to replace the original manor house that stood here. On completion, it was the largest private home in the country. It was lived in as a private dwelling for the next 300 odd years and started to fall into disrepair. It was remodelled in 1776 and then parts of the castle became a ruin, until 1911 when a new owner started a restoration project, which was finally completed in 1932.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Crispy Salt and Pepper Tofu Recipe

Photo by Cassiano Barletta on Unsplash

{This is a collaborative post, this recipe has been provided to me for publishing}

Crispy salt and pepper tofu is an ever-popular Chinese dish that we absolutely love. The contrast between the crispy exterior and super silky interior of perfectly cooked tofu is hard to beat and the subtle, classic flavours of simple salt and pepper is always a winner in our books!

This delicious and easy crispy salt and pepper tofu recipe is an absolute breeze to cook and is on the plate, ready to eat in just 35 minutes (including preparation and cooking time!). 

The crispy outer coating is achieved with a 100% vegan-friendly cornstarch batter that gives an incredible flavour and texture to our favourite ingredient in health-conscious cooking: tofu. We think cornstarch is much nicer than frying tofu with flour and egg (not to mention that without the egg, this recipe is vegan friendly) as it provides a much lighter batter for a firm, crunchy crust that doesn’t overpower the tofu.

We also use white pepper in this recipe, commonly used in Chinese cuisine due to its milder flavour that’s perfect for a delicious yet light crispy salt and pepper tofu dish.

You can garnish your crispy salt and pepper tofu with a sprinkling of freshly ground black pepper, some red pepper flakes, and/or a sweet chilli dipping sauce, or eat them fresh out of the frying pan as you prefer.

Sunday, 3 January 2021

Review: Ticket to Ride - Europe Board Game - Great for Teens

Review of Ticket to Ride:Europe board game. Great fun for all the family and especially good for getting your teenagers involved.

I first played the original Ticket to Ride board game about five years ago with some friends and I've been hooked ever since. I'm not quite sure why it took me until the first lockdown last year to actually buy it, but I am so glad I did as myself and the children have played it so many times. I am a bit dismayed that they can all beat me quite so easily but it is still a lovely way to spend time together.

There isn't that much that can bring all the family together for an hour or so, but this is one of them. Ticket to Ride Europe really is a hit with the teens, I suppose it is a game that is a great blend of strategy, fun and luck that only takes an hour or so.

Useful information

Recommended age: 8+ years

Number of payers:  2 - 5

Length of play: 30 - 80 minutes

Time to learn the rules: 10 - 15 minutes and the booklet is super easy to navigate

Time to set up the board: 5 minutes

Cost: You can normally pick the game up for around £30, although I notice it is sold out in many places as I publish this. The RRP is £39.99.

Aim of the Game: 

To score the highest points by collecting and paying the coloured train cards, so you can place your train pieces on the board and complete the routes on your route cards. 

I think having four players is my favourite for this game, as it offers a better level of challenge on which routes we all try to claim and makes the gameplay about an hour long. Basically, the gameplay on the Europe edition is the same as the original North America version but there are also a few added features like completing a tunnel, where you have to be lucky or you'll end up playing more cards than the train pieces you'll lay; taking a ferry, which requires you to have a certain amount of locomotive cards as well as the necessary coloured train cards; or using a station to give you access to a route that is already blocked by another players trains.