Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Forget Me Not Hospice - A Truly Inspirational Place!

Blown away, inspired and high spirited were just a few of the emotions that were running through me this morning when I left from my visit to the Forget Me Not hospice in Huddersfield.  It was a visit that I had been looking forward to for a while as senior fundraiser - Gaynor Bearder had been telling me about it for quite some time with great passion.  Through Gaynor's previous explanations of the place, I knew it was going to be amazing - but after leaving this morning, this is a word that doesn't even come close...


The Forget Me Not charity was set up around 12 years ago by a local mum whose child became extremely ill and needed the care of a hospice.  After looking into this kind of support in her local community when she really needed it, she realised that it was actually extremely limited and wasn't really there.  Due to this, through her own experience of feeling a lack of support, she set about changing things within the community and the result was the Forget Me Not charity. 

The Forget Me Not charity has been raising funds that help to support children with life limiting conditions and their families for many years now through fantastic events such as the upcoming 'Santa dash'.  Their events are well known for fun and vibrance and the money raised from them helps to make a massive difference to the children and families who really need this support at a time that is particularly hard.  

The constant passion and hard work from the team at Forget Me Not has now also seen the opening of their first hospice building - Russell House -  which I visited this morning and let me tell you, right from your arrival...it just knocks your socks off! 

Forget Me Not children's hospice - Huddersfield
The building has been so well thought out it's unbelievable and every little detail and more has been included in order to make the lives of the children and their families who stay there easier and full of vivacious quality - for whatever time they may have left due to their illnesses.  The idea of the hospice was not just to provide optimum care for the poorly children, but for the parents and siblings of the child too as it is a hard time for them all.

The building is bright and airy with gorgeous splashes of colour everywhere and each room has a different purpose.  There is a huge, comfy central area first of all when you walk in for eating and chilling out where the families can watch T.V., play games, get messily creative or just sit and chat.  This kind of felt like it was the main hub of the place too and had a really nice buzz of heart warming people coming and going who are all there for one purpose - to make the lives of the children and families staying there better - in fact, the staff that work there all have one motive that they feel very passionate about and this really shines through by their motto 'one team, one dream!'

The other thing that really stood out about the hospice was the state of the art equipment that filled every room - in rooms such as the sensory room, the four bedrooms, the swimming pool room and the teenage room, there was equipment that just blew me away!  This equipment had three purposes - the first to help the children get around and do things easier, the second to create an astonishing sensory experience that helps to instill calm and happiness whilst they are there and the third to create highly loved memories that will last forever.

As well as plenty to do for the children, also included at the hospice is a therapy room for parents too.  This is a lovely little place where they can go and have something like a massage maybe in order for them to just have that little bit of time out and rejuvenate their mind during such a difficult time.  So, as you can see, the team at Forget Me Not have thought of and care for the whole family!

The main building and the bedrooms are connected by one of the most beautiful corridors I have ever seen.  Down the corridor, there is a wall of colourful glass bricks that shimmer in the sunlight - this is named 'the celebration wall'.  Each of the blocks is available to buy by either fundraising or donating money to the chairty and once they are all bought it means that 1.6 million pounds will have been raised for the charity. 

Once you have purchased a block, you can then have it engraved with a memory or perhaps just something that creates a sense of happiness - for instance, one of the blocks said 'ripe tomatoes and sparkling bling' or another - which I really loved, said 'nothing happens unless we dream first' the latter, I thought said everything about the hospice - a dream of one woman whilst going through a difficult time has now become reality - very poignant I thought.  Seeing all of these thoughts together being highlighted by the sunlight actually moved me to tears - it was so beautiful!

The celebration wall - positive, inspiring messages that are filled with love

My trip to this totally energizing place inspired me greatly but made me realise that charities like this need all the help that they can get from the local community in order to keep going and there are approximately 700 families in the Kirklees, Calderdale and Wakefield area that could need the use of the Forget Me Not building at some point.  

The hospice costs around £7000 a day to run and only receives around 4% of the money needed per year from government funding due to it being a children's charity -  if it were an adult charity, it would receive up to 40% of the money needed - so as you can see, they need all the help that they can get.

If, after reading this post you now feel as inspired as me about the Forget Me Not hospice and you fancy helping out - whether its doing a bit of fundraising or maybe volunteering to help out, please get in touch with Gaynor Bearder who will gladly speak to you and tell you all about what's currently going on to raise money for Forget Me Not.  Please email her directly on:

gaynor.bearder@forgetmenotchild.co.uk. 

Gaynor is always happy to talk to anyone about it and has a real passion like the rest of the team to drive the hospice forward in order to create the happiest of long lasting memories for the children and their families who don't have much longer to live.  

Love and memories mean absolutely everything to the families of the children who die due to illness and the Forget Me Not hospice creates both of these things to the very highest degree!  In order to keep these amazing memories going though, the hospice needs people like you to help out so please....if you can help - get in touch, no matter how much you put in, every little bit helps and this will mean that those memories will carry on being created for a long time to come!

Nothing happens unless we dream first....


http://www.forgetmenotchild.co.uk/

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Pheasant Inn - A Little Corner Of Heaven In Cheshire!

The Pheasant Inn at Higher Burwardsley, Cheshire has been a favourite place of ours for a good long while now - in fact, I would probably say that this place was the first hotel we stayed in that received a 'Custard favorite places award'!  We first ever went around 3 years ago for my birthday and since that stay, whenever we want to go somewhere that brings back happy memories and includes everything you could possibly want for a sublime chill out break - we think about going there!

The Pheasant Inn - Higher Burwardsley

I really feel like I have to shout from the rooftops about how good this place is - its just awesome in every sense of the word and last week Mr C and I were lucky enough to escape there for 2 nights so let me tell you all about it.....

We arrived at the Pheasant Inn last Wednesday lunch time.  We were obviously a little early to check in but having sampled the delights of the food there before we decided to get there early and enjoy a spot of lunch before checking in!

On arrival at the bar, we were greeted by a really lovely young gentleman who told us he would keep us informed of the progress of our room whilst we were there eating lunch and enjoying the cosy surrounding.  We decided to have a drink first before ordering the food as the fires were on and the pub had a really lovely buzz about it with people dotted here and there chatting, eating and generally having a good old time!

The decision to wait before ordering food was a good one for me though as after we sat down with our drinks, some food came out of the kitchen for another table and the huge portions on the plates took my breath away - they were enormous - although I have to say they looked mouth wateringly good and wouldn't have looked out of place on a Man V Food challenge!  Being only little, I decided to opt for a roast pork sandwich for lunch instead and save myself for a big meal later but on the menu you can actually have a smaller portion of some of the meals and after talking to the staff later on that evening too, they were more than willing to do a smaller portion of just about anything you wanted!

As our food was delivered to our table and we started to tuck in to the fine fair, I happened to turn around and glance outside to the Pheasant's terrace (which has to have THE best view from a pub that I have ever seen by the way) and noticed that two walkers had cheekily sat down on one of their benches to enjoy the view whilst eating their own pack up!  I then glanced back at my rustic, wooden board that was filled with a soft white teacake oozing with hot roast pork and apple sauce and compared it to their tiny, crushed, unappetizing sandwiches that were wrapped in foil.  At that point, I suddenly felt a real urge to go out and shout 'stop being so tight!  Look what you're missing!'  The shouting didn't materialise though as I didn't want my pork to go cold but hey - you just can't help some people sometimes either can you? Anyway - I think you get the message that our lunch was just lush!

Huge steak burger with the works!
A few drinks and a full belly later, the bar man came to tell us that our room was ready if we wanted to check in - what great customer service! After a little chat with him and another female staff member about the Pheasant Inn, the other hotels in the Nelson chain and how much they all enjoy working there (how nice!), we got our bags from the car and went to chill out in our room.

The rooms at the Pheasant are really nice - right from walking in, you feel like its home from home as the decor is just lovely. They are all equipped with decent sized flat screen TV's too which is great when laid in bed as you don't have to squint due to small screens like you still find in other hotels these days!  The beds are super comfy and because of the positioning of the hotel, its really quiet throughout the night so you feel really rested when you wake up!

One other thing to mention about the rooms is the drinks tray - Mr C and I have always measured a good hotel on whether or not they have hot chocolate on them as well as tea and coffee - for some reason it feels more indulgent when you're away and true to form - hot chocolate on the tray!  Hooray!  Although I have to say, I'm not surprised with this hotel chain - they just seem to know how to keep their guests happy!

On Thursday morning, we woke up after a really good sleep and decided to go for a walk after breakfast doing a spot of Geocaching as there are a fair few series in the area and its really beautiful around there so there's lots to see.  On our way over to the main building, we stopped to take in the hypnotic view from the terrace - as did all the other guests it seemed on their way to breakfast!  Just take a look below for yourself - its just stunning and you can't help it!

The best terrace in England - early morning!
The breakfast was amazing, there was a great choice on the menu and all of the staff were extremely polite.  The full English accompanied with Illy coffee was magnificent and most definitely set us up for the walk ahead!  If you didn't want anything as big as a full breakfast though, there were plenty of other lighter choices such as smoked salmon and scrambled eggs or cereals, fruit and toast.

A great start to the day!
One long walk later, we arrived back at the Pheasant around mid afternoon and to our delight, the sun was blazing down on the place!  What amazing weather and everything looked so nice - the blue sky, the autumn leaves - it just would have been wrong to go straight inside rather than sit out in the sunshine with a drink first!  Although we had to have our coats on, the sun on our faces was warm and heavenly - what a treat in mid November!

Sunshine in mid November - what a treat!
After a glorious day in the sunshine, we then went to get changed in order to enjoy a relaxing evening in the restaurant.  The Pheasant is filled with cosy corners, sumptuous leather sofas, real log fires and candles that create a really romantic surrounding - it looks seriously beautiful on an evening when the sun has gone down!

We decided to have one last meal before we left the morning after so for this, I chose from the specials board!  My choice in particular, I have to say was the best meal I have eaten in probably 10 years - I chose salmon steak with chilli new potatoes and vietnamese salad and oh my lord what a taste exposion that was!  It was something I wouldn't normally choose as I'm not a massive salad fan but the flavours that were magically put together in that dish were just divine and worked so well!  Compliments to the chef!

Salmon with chilli new potatoes and vietnamese salad
All in all, if you didn't get what I was trying to say whilst reading this post (I doubt that though!), the Pheasant Inn is without doubt a little corner of heaven in Cheshire and everyone should go and try it - it is definitely one of our favourite places!  Its priced very well for such a great standard of accommodation in such a beautiful place and the staff, the food and the ambience are second to none!  The Nelson hotel group really know how to deliver what a customer wants in a break away and I think personally, for that, they deserve a huge pat on the back!

Friday, 14 September 2012

Comedy Night Dave - UPDATE!

Hi Guys!  Just a little post today (although it could turn into a big one as I'm MEGA excited), to add onto my previous posts about the amazing upcoming event - COMEDY NIGHT DAVE!

Comedy Night Dave tickets are selling fast!

This live mic comedy championship is the first of its kind in Huddersfield and has a prize on the night of £200 for Huddersfield's funniest person!  Should you want to enter the championship please call Paul at The Keys restaurant (the event venue - which is situated underneath St Peter's Church in Huddersfield) on 01484 516677, alternatively, you can email him on pbwood@gmail.com.

The tickets for the night are selling fast so if you want some - BUY THEM QUICKLY!  They can be purchased from The Keys restaurant and are £10 each - this price also includes supper on the night too so as well as having a barrel of laughs, you will be fed too!  Today it has also been announced that the creator of the event, my good mate Dave Cowan, who himself is a legend in his own right in Huddersfield will be adding to the party atmosphere by spinning some tunes disco stylee, compering and being a general funny man himself - this means that the tickets are even better value for money now!

Want another reason to buy a ticket?  Well here it is....£1 of each ticket sold will go to the Leeds children's heart surgery fund - an extremely worthy cause that has A LOT of meaning to the people of Yorkshire.  This money will be used in the launch of a legal battle to try and overturn the decision to close this much needed unit.

So there it is....are you excited yet?  Its been ages since we have had something a little different to do in the Hudd - something that will create laughter and happiness too which is good for the soul.  So, if you're free on Saturday 29th September 2012 and fancy a good old belly laugh with a party to follow, get yourself down to The Keys for your tickets - they won't be around for much longer!  See you there folks!

Dave Cowan - Artist, DJ, Huddersfield legend!



Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Save Arrunden Kennels!

Imagine having a successful, established boarding kennels and cattery business for over 30 years and then a builder comes along, throws up a few houses next to it, rents them out and then the tenants who move in moan to the local council because of the noise at the kennels. Then, because of this complaint, the business gets threatened with a noise abatement order from the council - an order which if not complied with would result in huge fines through the courts, which in turn could potentially lead to the business having to close due to bankruptcy. It just doesn't seem right does it and correct me if I'm wrong but I don't ever remember a dog having a volume button? Unfortunately, this is EXACTLY whats going on up at Arrunden Kennels and Cattery in Holmfirth - I kid you not - and it needs to be stopped!
Please help to save Arrunden from potential closure!
Surely you would think, when first looking at a house to rent that the tenants would notice a substantial, well advertised boarding kennel right across the road and if they didn't like to hear the sound of a dogs bark maybe choose somewhere else to live?  I just don't understand why on earth these people would choose to live there if they didn't like noise but now because of the fuss they have made, one of Huddersfields most well-loved boarding kennel businesses is under threat because of noise (a noise that has been there for over 30 years might I add and never been cause for concern before) - the worst thing about it is though, the original tenants that kicked up such a fuss and caused the owners and staff at Arrunden major upset for over 6 months don't even live there any more - they have moved out!

Now you all know Mr C and I well by now and you also know and love our little pooch - Pedro.  We have been taking Pedro to Arrunden boarding kennels since he was a puppy and he is now nearly nine - we have always loved it there too - they are so caring, keep it spotlessly clean and learn the character of each pet quickly, for instance, when we picked Pedro up one time after a holiday we asked if he had been O.K. and we got the reply 'Oh! Pedro will do anything for a biscuit!'. That made us feel so good as they are obviously bothered about treating your pet in a friendly, dog loving manner, rather than just dumping them in the kennel and ignoring them until you come back for them!

From time to time, if Arrunden has been full, we have had to take him to other kennels in the area and I have to say, unfortunately, many times when we have picked him up he has stunk - like he has been sat in his own pee all weekend and this always upsets us.  This is why we always choose Arrunden if we can - in our opinion, it is by far the best boarding kennels in Huddersfield.

Jackie, the owner of Arrunden kennels and all of her staff are absolutely lovely and work very hard to run such a wonderful place where you can leave your beloved pets without worrying about them. Its just not fair that after a year of being terrorized by the tenants who have now moved out they are still being subjected to the stress of the noise abatement order which could potentially ruin their long standing business - they have been there for over 30 years without a complaint before so why should it be different now?  Perhaps the question should be asked - why was the planning permission for the houses passed in the first place when there was an already established boarding kennel a few metres over the road?
Please help raise awareness!
Anyhow, this is the awful situation that Arrunden are currently in and its heartbreaking to see the stress caused to such a nice group of people who offer a fantastic service to the local community, so, like my posts before regarding the closure of the Children's heart unit in Leeds - its time to get behind them too and support a long standing local business that does not deserve to be under threat of potential closure if they do not comply to the noise abatement order.  If you would like to help put a stop to this threat, please read on for ways in which you can show your support to Jackie and her team:

1.  Write a letter to Councillor Khan expressing your concerns over the potential threat of closure to Arrunden due to the noise abatement order.  You can write to him on the.leader@kirklees.gov.uk

2.  Sign the official petition http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/37588 after you've signed it - PLEASE SHARE IT!

3.  Share this post on Facebook and Twitter in order to raise more awareness about this situation and hopefully get more people to retweet/share and then sign the petition/write to Councillor Khan!

Your help would really mean a lot to them up at Arrunden kennels - this has been going on for a while now and needs to be stopped - it is awful that they have this terrible situation looming over them day in, day out - all they want to do is go back to running their business without worrying about a potential closure if they can't adhere to the noise level!

It would also mean a lot to Pedro - he loves it there and that is important to us too.  So please help - I mean, just look at his little eyes below - how can you possibly ignore such a cute face?!

'Please help to save Arrunden Kennels - its my favourite!'

Thursday, 9 August 2012

Comedy Night Dave - Now To Donate To Children's Heart Surgery Fund!

Kimmi Custard (that's me if you didn't already know!) is excited today - I have some fabulous, fabulous news which will give you even more reason to buy tickets for Huddersfield's first comedy championship - 'Comedy Night Dave' which will be held on Saturday 29th September 2012 at The Keys restaurant beneath the Parish church.  It is going to be truly fab and I personally can't wait!  They say that laughter is good for your health and with this awesome news - it will be - literally!

Laughter is great for health!

As you may have read in my last post, the organizer of this laugh a minute event - Dave Cowan, has drafted me in to help him sell the tickets for this exciting new idea.  Well, last Saturday I had a meeting with him and the owners of The Keys - Paul and Vicky, so that we could get things under way. At the meeting we were all very excited and managed to kick off many ideas for the night that are sure to make it a great success!

Whilst chatting, we got onto the subject of this very blog and Dave mentioned my previous posts about the Leeds heart surgery closure saying how great he thought it was that so many people were getting involved in the campaign to keep it open.  I told him about the new fund that has just been set up to raise money in order to launch a legal fight against the decision and that's when the news came......

Dave, Paul and Vicky have decided in order to support such a heart felt Yorkshire cause, that £1 of every ticket sold for the comedy championship will be donated to the children's heart surgery fund!!!  How amazing is that!  There is also now talk of a raffle on the evening to raise even more money for them too - so this means that now there is even more of a reason to buy your tickets as this truly magnificent fight by the people of Yorkshire will be supported too by this event!

I have to say - I am delighted at this news and I am really loving how everyone is now pulling together to help the campaigners overturn the decision to close the unit - its amazing to feel such unity!
'Comedy Night Dave' will be donating to the children's heart surgery fund!

So....just a recap from the last post as the tickets will sell like hot cakes because of this fantastic news now that is has been announced - tickets are on sale NOW from The Keys restaurant which is situated in the crypt beneath the Parish church on Byram Street in Huddersfield town centre.  The tickets cost £10 but include a free supper too (excellent value for such a great night out!).  The tickets are limited so if you want to go to this event its worth getting some as soon as possible!

Should you want to actually enter the comedy championship, there is a prize on the night of £200 for the winner who will be chosen by a panel of judges.  To enter please call The Keys restaurant on 01484 516677 for details.  An amazingly funny night which is coupled with support for a very worthy cause is sure to be a winner so:


 BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW!!!!

The Keys Restaurant - Amazing venue and home to 'Comedy Night Dave'

Friday, 3 August 2012

New Comedy Championship - Calling All People With Nerves Of Steel!

Laughing is good for your soul....a good belly laugh can have some great effects on your body.  Not only does it make you feel good but the health benefits on your body are massive - it relaxes the whole body, boosts your immune system, triggers and releases endorphins and helps to protect you from heart disease! As the saying goes 'laughter is the best medicine' so, here at Custard HQ we have something exciting to tell you about that will help the people of Yorkshire laugh even more!

 
Laughter is the best medicine!
My good mate Dave Cowan (one of Huddersfield's funniest men himself) is organizing a series of 'Comedy Championship' events in one of the most amazing eateries in Huddersfield - The Keys - which is situated in the crypt beneath St Peter's, the Parish Church on Byram Street. The events offer budding stand up comedians a chance to win £200 on each night - the winner of which will be picked by a panel of judges.  This is sure to be one of the funniest nights out of your life as the comicness of the Huddersfield community is about to be unleashed to the world!

Budding comedians needed!
Dave has drafted me in to help him sell the tickets and raise awareness for the first championship which is on Saturday 29th September from 7.30pm - 11.45pm. Mr C and I are very excited about it and will definitely be going - its about time we had something a little different in the Hudd - lets get some belly laughing going!

You can either enter the competition or just come to the event and laugh your socks off - the choice is entirely yours but either way you need to buy a ticket.  The tickets cost £10 each for entry and a free supper (what great value for a night out!) and are available now to buy from The Keys restaurant.  I will stress though, the tickets are very limited so if you fancy the event - go and buy some quickly!

Should you have nerves of steel and fancy a shot at the £200 prize money, please call 01484 516677 for more details of how to enter.  The closing date for entries into the comedy championship is two weeks before the event - Saturday 15th September.  Should you want to follow the event - a Facebook page has been set up by Dave - www.facebook.com/groups/comedynightdave/

This is going to be an amazingly funny night that is held in a beautiful restaurant and due to the wonderful architecture of the building the laughter is sure to be rip roaring in no time at all!

TICKETS ON SALE NOW!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Children's Heart Surgery Closure Latest - Please Donate!

You may have all read my previous posts about the fight to keep the Leeds Children's heart surgery unit open after the horrendous decision to close it - if you did, and maybe even shared them - I want to start this post by saying a huge 'THANK YOU'! Through the magnificent numbers of people that have read these posts, it wholeheartedly shows that this is an issue that has struck a major cord with the people of Yorkshire and surrounding areas.
The save our surgery fight goes on with mega strength!
People like you who are following the campaign and sharing posts like this to raise awareness of the fight are soooooo important because it is constantly keeping the situation in the public eye and because of this, more and more people are joining the fight and like I've said before - many drops make an ocean.  Many of the people involved in the campaign have direct links to the surgery such as children who need the unit due to illness - but now, the amazing thing is that many people who don't have a direct link to the unit are also getting involved!  To stand behind the people in the thick of the fight will only make them stronger so lets keep doing our bit and help to hold them up!

Over the last couple of days, a fund has been set up in order to help the campaigners fight even further by hopefully launching a legal challenge against the decision.  This development so far has been welcomed with open arms and the people and businesses of Yorkshire have already started to donate money to the cause due to it being such an important unit to keep open!

Children's heart surgery fund logo


Should you want to join in and help to overturn this decision, please, please, please donate anything you possibly can to this very important fund - it will help to show the bigwigs that the people of Yorkshire have a massive voice and will fight to the final hurdle - even by using their own money!  Should you want to donate there are three ways in which you can do it:

1.  By 'Just text giving' - type in code SOSL18 followed by the amount you want to donate - £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 0r £10 then send the text to 70070

2.  You can donate online through the 'Charity choice' website - please follow this link and fill in your details - In the comments please state 'restricted for the Fighting Fund'. This ensures your donation is allocated to this project specifically. :

https://www.charitychoice.co.uk/childrens-heart-surgery-fund-1739/donate

3. You can send a cheque made out to 'Children's heart surgery fund'  Please post to:  Room 001, Ground Floor, Old nurses home, Leeds general infirmary, Leeds, LS1 3EX.  Charity number 700753

For any more information, please visit the official Children's heart surgery web page:

http://www.chsf.org.uk/fighting-fund-1

Absolutely anything would be fantastic guys, and if you can, I know I ask you to do it pretty often but after you've donated please share this post in the hope that other people will donate and share too!  Thanks very much from the bottom of my heart.....you are all so wonderful and if we all stand together with all our Yorkshire might hopefully the unit will stay open!

You're all so awesome guys!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Worsley's Expert Pasta Kitchen

Now lets set the scene....start the Dean Martin song Amore playing in your head, you know the one that starts 'when the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, thats amore......when the world seems to shine like you've had too much wine, thats amore....NO!  Actually its when you have been lucky enough like us to go to Worsley's expert pasta kitchen!  What a treat!

Worsley's expert pasta kitchen

Our good friends the Goms invited us round for an evening of pasta making a few weeks ago and I thought it was only right that I went to a little effort to make them an official sign for the job (above) seeing as though they had gone to such a massive effort to teach us to make pasta!  They had a big shiny pasta machine and every type of pasta filling that you could imagine in order for us to have a most tasteful evening!  There was also a LOT of red wine involved - but its only right if you're doing the cooking I think and we were ALL doing the cooking after all!  Every single one of us got right into the spirit of the Italian kitchen.....it was a great night!

Kimmi Custard joins the experts!

Oh what fun we had!  In no time at all we had flour flying all over the place when making the pasta dough (mostly down to me actually...oops!) and then when we moved over to the pasta machine the giggling started.  Little Ethan was an absolute whiz with turning the handle - he actually looked like Clark Kent turning into Superman at one point he was turning it that fast!  It took around three of us to hold the pasta out as it got really long and then when it was time to cut it all up, you could totally see where Ethan got his Superman impression from as Matt made the ravioli in super fast time - he seriously looked like a Pro - in fact I bet he would give Gino D'Campo a good run for his money at breaking the record for ravioli making!

When we sat down to eat the pasta it was amazing and the kitchen quickly became filled with 'oohs' and 'arrs' due to the absolutely mouthwatering taste explosions that we were all experiencing at that moment!  There is also something so satisfying about sitting to eat food like that which you have made completely from scratch - its just a great feeling!  We then finished the meal with THE most amazing lemon tart I have ever had made also by Matt's fair hands.  Below is an Instagram collage of our pasta making evening, just in case you want to drool....

From eggs and flour to full on Italian cooking!

This really was a great experience that we thoroughly enjoyed and would like to do again.  It has left me thinking however that maybe Matt and Carrie should open one of the latest trends - a pop up restaurant?  I mean lets face it, they have the branding and the foodie shots for the advertising already thanks to moi - all they would have to do is get the customers in but frankly I think they would come in droves after reading about the Custard's evening with them!  I am even going to go so far as to say that Mr C and I are going to award The Worsley's expert pasta kitchen the 'Custard Favourite Places Award!'

Friday, 27 July 2012

Don't Mess With Mr Custard!

A few nights ago, me and Mr C went on a work team building evening to the Paul Lane rifle club on the outskirts of Huddersfield where we got a chance to shoot three different rimfire rifles down a firing range with the targets at 20 yards away.  This is something that we wouldn't normally have chosen to do but you have to try out different things right?

Kimmi Croft - I wish lol!


Now those of you that know me will know that this is not really my kind of thing, however, I was actually looking forward to having a go to be honest - just so I could say I've done it and O.K. I'll admit it - maybe I fancied myself as a fatter version of Lara Croft!  I also think its good to push yourself out of your comfort zone sometimes.  Mr C was really looking forward to it too as he absolutely loves anything that includes 'boy stuff'!

When we entered the gun club it was just like I had imagined - there were animal busts and pictures of legally hunted animals everywhere - it was actually really interesting to have a look around at everything and listen to tales from the owner about the trophies and the actual bear skin that was hung on the wall etc.

We were all really intrigued as to how the bear was allowed to be killed and brought back to the UK from Canada. He went on to tell us that the Indians in Canada are the only people allowed to have a licence to kill bears but what they do is sell the licence to other hunters who want to shoot one.  The hunter gives the Indians the bear meat on top of the money for the licence and then the hunter takes home the bear skin with the correct paperwork as a trophy.  It seems that in this situation, everyone's a winner - except for the bear that is!

The Bear!  Surprisingly its fur was very similar to Pedro's!

Anyway, we were quickly split into teams and one by one were taken into the firing range.  The security and safety of the staff at the place was absolutely rock solid which was good because at this point I was a tad nervous (bricking it actually!).  The first rifle we shot had relatively small bullets and to start with I was going nowhere near the target - I quickly got used to it though after calming my nerves and when my tutor announced I had hit the paper target for the first time I could have danced with joy!  I didn't though as I probably would have ended up shooting someone knowing me!

I came out of the range very proud of myself and quickly tweeted a picture of my target saying 'Don't mess with me!' - I even got a shot in the black bit near the middle (see below - for those of you who can't see it, its just to the right of the top number 7!) - elated is the word for how I felt at that point!  It was my first go ever and I hit it loads!  Woohoo!

Kimmi Custards target

Then, it was Mr C's time to go in.  Half an hour later he came out looking very proud of himself and he showed us his target.  Now you have to believe me that this was his very first time at shooting a rifle too, however, after seeing his target I'm a little worried now as to whether he is secretly a sniper and he just forgot to tell me!  Check out his target compared to mine....

Berticustards target + a souvenir he purchased!
This was a fantastic experience for both of us and we are very proud of our souvenir targets however, the moral of this little tale is quite simple - DON'T MESS WITH MR C!  He was obviously a fully fledged sniper in a previous life!

The 'real' Mr Custard!


Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Save Our Surgery! People Of Yorkshire Unite!

Yesterday, 2500 people took to the streets of Leeds for the SOS save our surgery demo.  This peaceful demo was immaculately planned and executed to a very high standard and helped the people of Yorkshire continue to get their opinions heard.  As well as attendance from parents, families and children who are directly connected to the unit, the demo was also attended by people who have no current connection to the unit but realize the importance of it staying here.
Save our surgery!
 
The sun shone gloriously all day for the protestors as they marched through Leeds with a true passion to their destination - Millennium square.  After watching a video of the march on the Yorkshire Post website last night it made me feel absolutely uplifted how all of the people of Yorkshire have come together to fight this categorically wrong decision.  The speakers for the cause at the demo said their words with real conviction and are a wonderful example to us all - the atmosphere looked absolutely electric as they stood tall and meant every single word they said!  If you want to watch the video that made me feel uplifted, here it is courtesy of the Yorkshire Post:



 
The next step in the fight to save the unit is happening today.  Councillors from across the region are to meet in Leeds to review the closure which is expected to be referred to the health secretary - Andrew Lansley.  An indication has also been made that the decision will be referred to an independent reconfiguration panel - which is welcome news.

A team of representatives for the Leeds children's heart unit which includes my good friend Gaynor Bearder and other major campaigners will be present at the meeting to put the message about the wrongful decision across once more - and if their passionate words in the video above are anything to go by, we will have cause once more to feel utterly proud that we are from part of a community that includes people like these who will tirelessly put themselves forward for the good of us all and our generations to come. They have completely managed to uplift a whole region in order to stand together - now this is how life should be!

Even though many of us couldn't get the day off work yesterday (boo!) to attend the demo, we would just like to let the campaigners and people who are heavily involved in the fight know how much we appreciate every single thing that you are doing for the people of Yorkshire and their generations to come and even though we couldn't be there with you in body yesterday, we are now standing with you in spirit - true Yorkshire spirit - and THAT is a force to be reckoned with!

We would like to wholeheartedly thank you all for what you are doing for our community and wish you every bit of luck in the continued fight - we are behind you 100%!

The Leeds save our surgery demo - S.O.S!  What amazing people!


Sunday, 8 July 2012

Leeds Heart Surgery Closure - Time To Get Personal

This week has seen a major blow for the people of Yorkshire by the decision in London to close the Leeds heart surgery unit after a solid 18 months of endless campaigning by some amazingly strong people to get this decision stopped.  Quite obviously, the opinions and feelings of the people who need this unit the most (to be honest this includes anyone living in Yorkshire) have not been listened to.  After reading many reports of this news it actually seems to me that these opinions have actually been completely ignored - almost like the decision had already been made without them.  Because of this I think it's time to take things personal, so here is my story of how important I think it is to keep the unit open....
 
One of the major campaigners against this decision is my good friend Gaynor Bearder...I have known Gaynor and her husband Tony for around 17 years now and over the last few years since having their second precious child Joel, I have seen them at times go through hell because Joel was born with a major heart condition that has needed specialist care at the Leeds unit.  They have even said goodbye to their beautiful little boy before as they weren't sure that he would wake up due to his illness - now I don't know about you but being a parent myself, even the thought of having to do this with my daughter makes me feel overwhelmingly upset so goodness knows how my fabulous friends have coped.

Being a photographer by trade, Gaynor and Tony rang me one day when Joel was very tiny and asked me to do a portrait of Joel.  What should have been a joyous occasion (everyone loves baby photos right?) turned into one of the most heart wrenching jobs I have ever done when Gaynor explained to me that they wanted some photos doing as soon as possible as they weren't sure that Joel was going to survive.  Naturally, for my friends I said yes straight away and sorted something out quickly, but I have to say, when I put the phone down that day I could have cried.  I just couldn't comprehend what they must have been going through and from that point onwards just hoped and prayed that everything would turn around - its the most awful thing in the world knowing that your friends are in so much pain.

A day or so later, Gaynor, Tony, Joel and their eldest son Lucas came into the studio and we got cracking on the photos.  From the point at which they arrived, I could see the torment and grief in Gaynor's eyes and I just couldn't stand it - but I didn't want them to feel any more upset than they already were so I kept myself upbeat and positive and tried to make the session into a happy, normal kind of family portrait shoot which I think we managed as I had Lucas leaping around in the air having some fun and then took some beautiful pictures of Joel and Lucas together.

After we finished the photos, I hugged Gaynor and said goodbye to them all - not knowing what was going to happen next.  There was only one thing that was certain to me and that was that I was going to put my heart and soul into these photos so that they absolutely loved them and had a record of Joel and his brother together no matter what happened in the coming days, weeks or months.  This particular photo shoot is perhaps one of the most poignant and special in my career and always will be because of what it meant to my friends  - in fact, two of the photos are still some of my favourites today:

Beautiful little Joel!

Beautiful Brothers!
Thankfully, 5 years on, due to the most immense love and care you could ever see from a set of parents and the amazing expert care that he has received from the specialist heart unit in Leeds, Joel is doing phenomenally well.  However, after seeing what my friends have been through - the countless trips to hospital they have made, the sleepless nights and the absolute torment of the possibility of losing their precious little boy, it has hit home to me just how important this unit is.

To have to travel to Newcastle or Liverpool in future for this treatment and care will add an incredible amount of extra pressure on the family of a patient at an already stressful time and should not be allowed to happen.  In this day and age where we put so much into our countries health care system....it should be our right to have easy access to these facilities at the most difficult of times and lets face it - any one of us living in or around Yorkshire could need it one day - you just never know.

After talking to Gaynor a few nights ago though, when she got home from London, she showed me her true fighting spirit once again and even though I knew she would be upset about the decision - she simply stated 'We are down but not out - our fight will go on'. After reading that, I felt so proud of her - to me, Gaynor and the other campaigners are truly inspirational.  The work that they have put in over the last 18 months raising tens of thousands of pounds for the unit as well as fighting this major injustice is just phenomenal.

So, what I'm thinking is that maybe its time for more of us to pitch in and join the fight with them. Any little thing we can do now adds another drop to the ocean of fight and if this gets bigger and bigger, hopefully the powers that be will listen. Until now, the campaigners have had a direct link to the unit, but now it's time for the onlookers to get involved too...after all, many of us have children and many of us may need this unit one day...it's time to join forces with the people already emotionally involved.

So this is why I have shared my personal story as an onlooker of friends in pain - which in turn hurt me. The idea I have had now to help this cause is to collect some personal stories like my own that show the reality of what this unit means to the people who need it - so, if you have a story that will tell of the heartache that this kind of illness has caused and why you think that it would be terrible to make people travel so far when they really need treatment and support nearby, please feel free to either leave a comment on this blogpost below or email me at kimmi.orwin@gmail.com.  I will then pass all of these personal stories on to Gaynor and the other campaigners and hopefully they may be able to use them in the fight to overturn this severely wrong decision.  It's time now that the bigwigs listened to the people who need the unit that they are trying to close so let's make it personal and tell them exactly what effects the closure will have on the real people of Yorkshire!
Time for the bigwigs to listen!

Friday, 22 June 2012

The Adventures Of Big Gom And Berticusdan Continued...

This week, as you may have already read, there are two people in particular in my life that have been making me giggle due to their adventurous Geocaching nature - Big Gom and Berticusdan (aka Matt from the Gom Squad and Mr Custard).  Seriously, the pair of them are quickly gaining famous sidekick status and their adventures are way better than any that Batman and Robin or Dangermouse and Penfold could ever wish for! 
Big Gom and Berticusdan...sorry, I mean Batman and Robin
Earlier in the week, as you may have read, they had an adventure whilst out on a caching series that resulted in Mr Custards shorts being torn and then patched back together by the two of them (if you haven't read it see the 'Dear Bear Grylls' post). 

The saga now continues as they went out again last night to finish the series and got into what can only be described as a hilariously funny comedy sketch which was explained by Matt from the Gom Squad in his cache log.  The adventure is written in some of the funniest comic writing I have ever seen, in fact I am still chuckling now!  It would only be right that I shared the amazing writing skills of Matt with you - so here is the log as written by him!  Please note before reading:  I will not be held responsible for any falls from chairs or sides splitting from laughing....

Matts Log:

'Right here we go again, the three muggle men were in front of us again. Time for a bit of setting the scene. One man was old, the other was pretty young and the third was ancient (I am talking Mummy old). Once again we had to walk past them. They didn't seem to think it strange that we had just walked past them a minute or so before. Perhaps they didn't notice or maybe they thought we were doing very fast circuits around the area.

Anyway we left them behind and headed off to the left, following the arrow. It soon became apparent where we need to be and as we were planning our entry we heard the now familiar guttural speech of our three new friends. The only thing to do was hide! So we headed in and stood very, very still. Now a couple of things were not ideal in our pursuit of perfect camouflage. Firstly Rob had a very red top on, a shade of red that couldn't possibly be found in nature. Secondly I was holding a very thorny and very sharp bramble, under tension, away from my caching buddy.

I have to admit is was quite exciting as the first old man made his way past us. He was so close I could have reached out and ruffled his hair. Then along came the Tollund Man. He was moving slowly. At this point I left go of the bramble, which flew at amazing speed and embedded itself into Rob. Not a murmur from Rob, but a bit of a laugh may have slipped out from me. The vulture like stare of the muggle swept across the bush, but somehow he didn't see the two idiots hiding inside.

Right two down, where is the younger muggle? What we saw next is an image I can never wipe from my mind. He had a wee. We didn't actually see him doing the deed but we did see him and his little friend as he tucked everything away. Oh my eyes.

Well after all that any normal cache was bound to be a anti-climax. Luckily this is no ordinary cache. Brilliant. SL, TFTC.'

I know for a fact that you will all be falling about laughing now at this genius piece of writing by Matt and the very thought of those two little comics getting up to mischief!  Now you know I like to make you laugh on a Friday (by Fun time Friday posts), however, I do believe on this particular Friday, Matt and Mr C deserve all of the credit completely for this little giggle session!  Bless em!  I think I'm going to enter them in the next comedy awards....Peter Kay ain't got nothing on these two!

...and the winners are....Big Gom and Berticusdan!

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Dear Bear Grylls....

Yesterday Mr Custard went out on a mad Geocaching stomp with our good buddy Matt from the Gom Squad.  Now you all know that he loves his Geocaching very much and on such a sunny day like yesterday when they're 'in the zone' he can add quite a few numbers to his stats - something he is always proud of! Yesterdays jaunt was a little different however, as Mr C and Matt seem to be taking this Bear Grylls adventure mentality to new extremes....

Bear Grylls...adventurous inspiration to many
I became aware of the adventure when I received a tweet from Matt around lunch time that included a photo of the outcome of the antics - the tweet went something like this:

'Wow, Berticusdan has had a tough day #geocaching - that tape is actually holding his leg on!'

At first I panicked and thought that Mr C had had another accident - then I opened the attached photo and started to giggle - here is what I saw:

Thank god for the Gom Squad kit bag!
Now that's what I call a tear!  Luckily for Mr C, Matt is super organized and ready for any eventuality and carries a roll of gaffer tape around in his kit bag - I can just imagine them now getting into the 'Bear Grylls survival' spirit and patching the shorts up!  Bless their little hearts!  However, this huge tear now means we need to buy 'another' pair of Bear Grylls pants so I thought I would send a little letter to Bear Grylls that goes something like this:

'Dear Bear Grylls

Please can you supply my husband with yet another pair of your trousers. As you can see from the picture, he and his friend manage to take your 'adventure' mentality to an extreme when out in the field.  They love your clothing and won't buy anything else - they think its the bees knees.

However, due to your marvelous marketing techniques such as regular emails to them with 'money off' of your products our bank account just can't take any more so I would be delighted if you could shout him a complimentary pair rather than us going into bankruptcy because you are so good at marketing and inspiring adventure which in my husbands case normally results in huge tears in his clothes!

Yours sincerely

Kimmi Custard'

I'm only kidding really (although a free pair would be good!) - Bear's clothes are worth every single penny and really do have a technical but cool purpose to them - like I said above, Mr C and his friends won't buy anything else - they love them!

Looks like its time to find one of those 'money off' online codes.....we can't have Mr C walking round like that can we?  People might think he's a vagrant!

Please note: the aforementioned trousers ripped through no fault of Bear Grylls' choice in quality fabric - it was completely the fault of Mr C and Matt's over adventurous nature!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Reprieve From A Wet Tent - The White Bear Hotel, Masham

Hi-de-hi campers!.....Or maybe not!  Last weekend Mr Custard and I had planned to go camping in Masham at the Old Station campsite.  We had had it planned for a good while because there was to be a Geocaching event held there over this particular weekend.  However, in the lead up to the event, the Met Office weather report got worse and worse and began to show heavy rain for the whole weekend...boo!  Camping in the rain?  I don't think so - where is the fun in that?
After seeing the dreaded double raindrops on the weather reports for a good few days solid, we decided to take action and started to look for a hotel room in Masham instead.  That would then mean rather than climbing into a soggy, wet, cold and muddy tent at the end of a fun day with friends, we could go to sleep in a nice comfy bed in a room that was dry and warm - there's no contest if you ask me!  So, after a bit of a search, Mr C came across The White Bear Hotel - right in the heart of Masham! When I saw the first picture on their website I was sold.......how would you not be with an image like this?

Picture from The White Bear Hotel

As it was so close to the event, we weren't sure that we would get in at this late stage so we crossed our fingers and sent an email to the hotel regarding availability........an hour later there were songs of joy because the hotel staff emailed back and they had a room available!  Woohoo!  My smile that day was one of the biggest ever because I didn't have to get wet on a weekend away!  Hallelujah! Mr C booked the room quick sharp before it went - and that was that!

Right from pulling up to the hotel, we had a good feeling about it - it was very close to the main square in Masham and right next door to the Black Sheep Brewery visitors centre.  We arrived at lunch time and right from our first contact with the staff, we felt very at ease because they were so friendly!  We told them how pleased we were to be staying there rather in a tent because of the forecast - and as we were having this conversation the heavens opened - check out Mr C's picture:

Camping in that?  Don't make me laugh!
We had definitely made the right decision!  So, rather than get wet, we sat down, ordered lunch and breathed a sigh of relief and then discussed our adoration for cozy pubs with rooms!  The lunch was beautiful - very simply, we had a sandwich and a portion of chips but the roast meat was gorgeous (with plenty in it) and the chips were fried properly like my Grandma used to make - they were what we would call 'proper' chips.  Delicious!  Even better washed down with a pint of real ale for Mr C and a glass of red for me.

After lunch we checked into our 'dry' abode and were chuffed to bits when we went through the door to our room - it was beautiful - with a super king size bed to boot!  Every little touch was there like hot chocolate (a measure of a good hotel for Mr C and I), lovely toiletries and even 2 wine glasses and a bottle opener - something which I haven't seen before as standard in a room - you normally have to ask for those! Arrrrrrr!  This was going to be a fab weekend! 

Picture from The White Bear Hotel


After a chill out in our lovely room while we waited for our friends to arrive in Masham, we began a little pub crawl in the village (starting at The White Bear of course) before we ate our dinner and then watched the England versus Sweden game with the locals. 

After a great night out with our friends (England won too so that was a bonus!), I have to say it was the best feeling ever to walk around the corner to get to bed, rather than have to walk back to a wet campsite.  The huge bed was amazingly comfy and for the first time ever, Mr C and I were last down for breakfast (we didn't want to get up!).  The breakfast was superb, just like the rest of the place and the young staff were extremely chirpy - at breakfast I think this is important to a customer as it starts your day off with a smile!

Yum Yum!
After breakfast we reluctantly went to get our bags to check out - we were very sad that we couldn't stay a second night but they had no rooms left.....what a shame, however, we will just have to go back someday and stay again!  Again, upon checking out, the young lad that served us was absolutely lovely and even went so far as to ask us what we had planned for the rest of the day - a nice little touch I thought!  We will definitely go back to this place I think!

The White Bear Hotel at Masham is another deserving establishment of the 'Custard favourite places award' and we hope that after reading this you will take a trip to this lovely place and grab some rest and relaxation here!

Friday, 25 May 2012

Custard Favourite Places...The Bears Paw

Its been a while since I told you about one of our favourite places and you know we love it when Mr C and I find somewhere special! So today its the turn of The Bears Paw in Cheshire - a new find, but a very special one at that and I can't wait to tell you all about it so that you can all rush to the phone and book to go there - seriously, you will be blown away!


So heres the story of how we found this place....Mr C and I have now been married for 7 years and for our anniversary we were looking to go somewhere special to celebrate our lovely little love story once more! I have to admit though, we will find anything and everything to celebrate these days - we have been known previously to celebrate the fact that it was Monday with a bottle of bubbly (I know what you're thinking....Monday? But thats the worst day of the week - however, that particular week it just felt right to celebrate!).

Our good friends The Gom Squad had also said that they fancied a break away after a bit of a stressful time at work recently so we invited them along to celebrate and chill out with us!  We had originally decided to go to The Pheasant Inn in Cheshire - so far my favourite place we have ever been to (review to follow later in the blog) but alas we could not get in as it was fully booked!  The great staff at the Pheasant then suggested we try their sister pub - The Bears Paw and so we did.....and right from the point of booking the excitement just oozed out of us all - we were tweeting and emailing each other left right and centre!  We were like little children waiting for Christmas!

Even the build up of excitement was great as their website features an amazing trip around the pub and rooms where you just click on the door you want to walk through and go wherever you like - you can even go into the kitchen!  The Goms even tweeted at one point that they knew the way to their room already and we had not even set foot in Cheshire yet!  If you want to see why we got so excited about this place, check out the image we first saw below of one of the superior rooms when checking the place out!

Superior room - image from The Bears Paw
After having a look around the rooms on the website we decided to go for the standard room which was decorated equally as nice as the room above and let me tell you, absolutely every little detail has been thought of when designing them, right down to little things like soft closing doors and toilet seats and stoppers behind the bathroom doors so that they don't bang on the walls etc. These might sound like trivial little details but it makes so much difference to your stay when you're not being woken up every hour by someone in the next room banging and clattering about!  The quality of the decor and bedding were second to none and the colour schemes chosen make the rooms feel plush but cosy!

After checking in (and finding a bottle of Prosecco on ice from the Goms in our room - bless em!) we rushed down to the huge bar/restaurant to settle in for the afternoon after our early morning walk!  The layout of the The Bears Paw is really great as it flows right around the bar and has multiple areas to sit, whether its sitting at a nice rustic table to eat or relaxing in comfort with a drink on one of their sumptuous leather sofas that are surrounded by big fire places, old books, wooden bears and glowing candles (always a nice touch I think!).


The staff were super friendly right from our arrival and made us feel really welcome and special - another touch that is always good.  Theres nothing worse than going somewhere spending your hard earned money and the staff are unfriendly and can't be bothered to make an effort with you. The feeling at the Bears Paw was quite the opposite though - every single staff member we came into contact with was absolutely lovely and they couldn't do enough for us!

Its now time to talk food....our favourite subject!  Well, what else can I say but absolutely outstanding!  Just take a look at the deli boards below and make up your own mind...........

Cheese and charcuterie boards for lunch....
Dribbling yet?  Thought so! At lunchtime our table was filled with a mass of food displayed on rustic wooden boards that included door step, super fresh bread, superior meats and cheeses and all the gorgeous accompaniments you could imagine such as spiced apple and pear chutney, pickles and grapes etc.  It felt like we were having the feast of Kings - without a doubt it was heaven on a plate! 

After eating lunch and then relaxing on the sofas with a glass of red, it was time to have a little chill out in the rooms and get the bubbles drunk for the anniversary celebration!  A leisurely few hours later, we all got glammed up and went back downstairs to eat dinner which was just as amazing as our lunch!  Our choices did not disappoint and in particular my smoked mackeral risotto with parmesan shavings was absolutely divine!

The atmosphere in the restaurant in the evening was really buzzing - everyone seemed really happy and even though it was busy, the place is so big that it didn't feel at all cramped and there was always somewhere to sit.

To follow through with the 'outstanding food' theme above, breakfast was no exception with a vast array of choices to eat and drink that included everything from a top quality full english breakfast to smoked salmon and poached eggs alongside cereals, toast with jam, juices, yoghurts, tea and coffee - again with a lovely friendly buzz created by the staff.

We would highly recommend The Bears Paw should you fancy a night or two away - we loved it that much that there was even talk about moving in for good at one point!  All in all, this place is incredible and you just have to go - its a beautiful building finished to a very high standard set in a heavenly little village with staff and food that are superb - what more could you want?  We have also just seen that they have a new place opening this Autumn called The Fishpool....I wonder when they will open their bookings as I will definately be going to that one!  Watch this space for the review!

Image from The Bears Paw