Restaurant Review – Artisan Manchester Speedy Lunch Menu

This was the second time I have visited Artisan for the Express lunch menu – the first time was just before Christmas, due to the hectic schedule around the festive season I forgot to write up my review on that occasion! So here goes 2nd time lucky!

  • Name of Restaurant

Artisan Avenue North, 18-22 Bridge St, Manchester M3 3BZ

  • Reason for Visit

A late lunchtime catch up with 4 girlfriends – we’re all young at heart over 50’s. We had pre booked for 2pm

  • First Impression

You enter the restaurant from the Avenue by a small doorway – once inside you have to climb stairs and there is a choice of 2 directions – this can be a bit confusing as to which direction is for the restaurant one of our party ended up in the bar and not the restaurant, and for the record she isn’t someone who regularly gets lost! Once you reach the restaurant there is a welcome area with a desk where a lovely girl took our details and invited us to enter the bar and waiting area. Artisan is very rustic looking lots of reclaimed wood and furniture on display. I have to say we really liked the look instantly. The restaurant area continues with this theme and again it is a very pleasant setting – a long expanse of windows allow lots of light in, although the view from the windows are not the greatest.

  • Time to get served/attention

As stated earlier there is a member of staff already in place to meet and greet, once seated and having a pre lunch drink a waitress came promptly to take us to our table.

  • Food

We ate from the Express lunch menu I chose the red pepper houmous and wood fired flat bread, the flattened rump steak (well done) with chimichurri, rocket and courgette salad and a glass of white wine. There was a choice of 2 house whites which was a nice touch.

The starter came on a wooden platter – 2 vary large slices of flatbread and a portion of red pepper houmous and a selection of sliced vegetables. The flat bread was delicious – thin and crispy perfect for my tastes, although I could only eat one! The houmous was a bit bland in my opinion I couldn’t really taste the garlic, although there must have been an adequate amount as Mr Fitz commented on it when I greeted him with a kiss when I got home.

My steak was tasty and cooked how I like it – yes I know, well done meat is so old fashioned but hey I don’t follow every trend! It was served with the simple green salad which I felt was just enough. I chose a glass of Pinot to wash it down with, having already had a pre lunch Three Rivers Gin and tonic from the bar. Note I stayed loyal to my proud Mancunian roots by choosing a local gin from the extensive Gin menu.

  • Service

Our waiter was very warm and friendly – he did have to attempt to take our order twice due to us chatting and not choosing, but that was not a problem for him, he was patient with us. Food arrived promptly and the all important wine!

The only downsides to the service on this occasion was obtaining our bill, after 15 minutes we had not seen any staff to ask for the bill. I had to go out to reception to ask the girl there if she could find us someone. A waiter then appeared and promptly fulfilled our request.

  • Evaluation

This is a nice setting for lunch, I cannot comment on any other time of the day. I love the decor and surroundings. Apart from the hitch with the bill I do think the service is speedy when seated. If you wish to have a pre or post meal drink the upstairs bar area is very comfortable and inviting and the choice of drinks available are many and displayed well. The food is tasty and in adequate proportions for a lunch portion.

Myself and my friends would definitely return again. Great surroundings and value for money

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

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Valentines Day gift ideas for the mature man Debenhams.com

Even though we have been married for 33 years this year romance is certainly not dead in this house. Don’t get me wrong – we’re not sloppy or slushy – in fact the opposite – we have a jovial relationship and affectionately send up each others little quirks!

When choosing a Valentines gift for John this year – I am planning on buying gifts of a higher quality than usual because this year John is celebrating his 60th Birthday – I think that entitles him to a years worth of treats. We usually just buy a token gift such as a CD or a T shirt – he collects T Shirts like I collect shoes! Also we are going on our first Cruise this year around the Greek Islands so a couple of choices are with that in mind.

To help me choose I visited Debenhams.com website and created a Mood Board to provide me with inspiration. Here are my choices – for the more mature man in a milestone year who is a chocohoic, including gifts of a humerous nature i.e Silver Dinosaur Cufflinks for my technophobe Dinosaur!

Debenhams Valentines Gifts for Men by Elaine Fitzpatrick

You will be able to edit this mural.

Ben Sherman T Shirt Crossbody bag Laurent Perrier Champagne Sweet Hamper Tom Ford aftershave Black leather belt Silver Dinosaur cufflinks

Let em know what you are buying your old dinosaur comment below or email

18 Things I want to do in 2018

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This year will be my first complete year in retirement from my long nursing career that spanned 38 years. It is also a big Birthday year for my husband John, he will be 60 in October. I cannot believe he is this age already – we have been together 37 years and the time has flown. he may look an ageing balding guy to many but to me he is still the young lad I met.

For these reasons I would like to achieve new experiences and goals plus share lovely moments throughout the year with John.

Here are 18 that I can think of today – not in any particular order of importance.

  1.  Start a Vlog – well in fact I have started it – what I really mean is build it by filming and publishing regular content. Not sure anyone will want to listen to the ramblings of  a 57 year old woman but hey!
  2. Continue this Blog
  3. John isn’t in to owning loads of material posesions or gadgets – he prefers building memories. Therefore for his Birthday we are planning our first ever Cruise Holiday – destination and cruise line yet to be decided.
  4. De clutter my home office and keep it tidy and organised. I look on wistfully at other bloggers and home workers desks and they give me Desk Envy. Mine is a disgrace – and I’m ashamed of it. I know that there is a saying along the lines of a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind and I think its so true!
  5. With that last point in mind I need to become more organised and productive.
  6. Enjoy my Winter holiday – we have spent a week in Fuerteventura in January for the last 10 years – this year is no different. Its very uplifting to experience some sun to fill the lull after Christmas and New Year
  7. Attend a Cup Final at Wembley with my beloved Team Manchester City – I hope it will be the Carabao Cup as we are at the semi final stage. The FA Cup Final is off my radar as its my Great nephew Alfies 1st Communion on FA Cup Final day and family must come first.
  8. See my beloved Manchester City lift the Champions League Trophy – wow that is a biggie! I love following my team and being in a football stadium. I love to experience atmospheres, smells and sounds – as well as watch on TV. However as this years final is in the Ukraine I don’t think any of my family who I attend matches want to travel. If we were to make the final I am planning a family evening – 3 generations watching together sharing a historic moment for the family and club. I am planning food and a gazebo with banners etc.
  9. Re visit Vilamoura in Portugal – I visited for the first time last year with my friends Janette and Joanne. It was early in the season and quiet but I’m sure John would enjoy it. I’m hoping to plan a weekend visit. If I could fund it by competition prizes that would be a bonus.
  10. Walk every day – even if it’s just to the Post Office. I love my house so much that I can stay in for days during the week therefore I’m becoming lazy.
  11. Dine out in a Michelin starred restaurant – we are both foodies and this is an ambition of ours. There are none in Manchester – so it will involve a nice overnight stay somewhere. Restaurant and destination to be decided.
  12. Visit Oxford – this has been on my wish list for over 10 years since I spent a morning there on an organised trip to The Hampton Court Flower show with friends. I loved it – especially as I loved the TV series Morse. I aspire to stay in The Randolph.
  13. Try a new recipe every week – doesn’t have to be a gourmet offering. I used to love to cook but again I’ve become lazy and stick to my old tried and tested repetoire of meals.
  14. Build a capsule wardrobe. I have far too many clothes – drawers and wardrobes full of stuff I continue to buy in the hope that I look better and they’ll make me look slimmer. I study loads of blogs, vlogs and Pinterest boards about this subject.  I made a start by visiting a Personal Shopper at Debenhams at the start of December who kick started it. Now to get rid of the rest!
  15. Attend at least 6 shows/plays at the theatre this year. I love theatre and with living in Manchester there are always plenty on offer. I do get to see a few a year and since I’ve been retired I like to go to an afternoon matinee, I’m often happy to go alone. I aim to make this a regular thing and to try and atttend a show at least every 8 weeks. If I could build a West End show into this that would be a bonus.
  16. Continue to improve and expand my online selling businesses – Ebay, Etsy and Amazon FBA – my new income streams in retirement. I registered as self employed with HMRC in February of last year and just submitted my 1st self assessment. Its been a learning curve but I’m so proud of what I’ve achieved so far. I hope to double my income/output this year but by working smarter NOT harder
  17. Visit Blackpool illuminations! Blackpool was our childhood holiday destination with my parents. Sadly it suffered a decline in appearance and fortunes. John and I always visited and stayed at Easter when we were courting (that word gives away my age doesn’t it!). In recent years we have started to revisit for days, particularly in Winter, and stroll along the prom in a bracing wind – makes you feel alive. We haven’t been to the illuminations since we were in our teens.  This year we intend to spend an evening there – park up and walk the length with of course the obligatory Fish and Chips in paper!
  18. Now I’ll end with the C Word! I have never been to London during the festive season – I would love to do all the traditional things – shop at Harrods, See the lights on Oxford Street etc. I think this will be a girlie activity – not Johns thing at all – he hates  bustling crowds.

Anyway – they may not be the most exciting things to do but they are personal to me.

Have you got a list of things to do? If so I would love to hear from you – comment below or drop me an email 

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com

Happy New Year – its been a long time yet again- getting my MOJO back

Well Happy New Year all and welcome to 2018.

I’m ashamed to say that yet again its been along time since my last post.  3 months in fact!

I can make thousands of excuses but in reality I’ve been multi tasking far too much to the extent that my productivity has taken a nose dive in many areas, not just blogging but in keeping a clutter free desk, mind, wardrobes etc. My competition entries have continued at a steady level but have been less than in previous years. I thought when I retired I would have more time to comp and my prizes would increase too. I find that now I have more free time I fit more in! I’m not complaining – I’m loving life. I have stopped doing any nursing shifts since September and I think that the curtain has now finally closed on my nursing career. I will elaborate more on my thoughts and feelings about this in another post.

I don’t want this to sound like a negative post – in fact I have achieved many positive things this year. I have started to build a part time business as an Ebay reseller and this is building gradually rose to a level I wish to maintain it at comfortably.  I know, I know how can I be retired if I’m doing this? I don’t really see this as a job – more a lucrative hobby that keeps the grey cells active and introduces me to new experiences.

I have become addicted to YouTube and watch hours of vloggers. I love watching at any opportunity. There are a few that have become firm favourites – both here in the UK and in the US. So much so that I have taken tentative steps into the world of vlogging and posted a couple of videos of my own – I hope to increase my output throughout the year.

Another activity I have taken part in is enrolling with an Agency to become a TV Extra or Background Artist as they are known today. I have had 3 jobs this year – all in different settings. There is very little money in doing this but it I do it for new experiences in life, in fact many of the other artists I have worked alongside also do it in retirement for the same reasons.

As you can tell I love to try new experiences with my new found free time and freedom.

As I’ve had 3 months free from paid employment as a Nurse I’ve had time to reflect and think about the way forward for me this year.

Restarting this blog is one of my goals.

Have any of you started something new last year that you wish to continue in this years goals – I’d love to hear from you – if only to know that you’re out there and I have an audience

Please feel free to Comment and also contact me via email earlyretirmentrocks@gmail.com

Have fun in 2018

Well it’s been a long time hasn’t it?

As you can see I haven’t written a post all year – how bad is that? Call myself a blogger!

I can think of a million excuses but I think this year has been a bit of a turning point for me. At the grand old age of 57 I think I can honestly say that I don’t think you ever know who you really are – life and ideas are constantly evolving. You have to adapt to relationships, life stressors and your work commitments.

From my late 40’s my main driving force was my goal off retiring from the BHS at the age of 55. I loved my career but once I’d got to a senior position the good of it quickly wore off, working conditions in the BHS became much more challenging and I wasn’t getting any younger.

Once I’d retired I continued to working part time capacity whilst I eased into retirement. I had ideas about what I may do and these constantly evolved too. Blogging became one of the things that I thought may suit me and my lifestyle. I fabled for a while and decided it was very hard work! I could come up with plenty of ideas to write about but when it came down to writing my posts and publishing nothjngbhappened my brain went into mush. Like a lot of things in my life I was over thinking instead of being spontaneous.

Therefore I let it for quite a while. However I have now reinvented myself a little bit more. I have been establishing a new part time career as an ebay reseller, plus starting an etsy shop selling Vintage fashions and accessories. I can honestly say that I am loving it! Think I was made for this type of role. How this came about is an article and post in itself. Needles to say my small business is building slowly and steadily. I don’t want it to become massive as I still wish to have plenty of free time. I feel this role reflects many facets of the real me!

during the year I have had some fabulous experiences, a girlie holiday with 2 of my closest friends. Holidays and trips away with my lovely husband – we have just celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. Quality family time and lots of opportunities to be a lady that lunches with friends. Plus I have continued to enter competitions and have won some nice prizes and follow my beloved Manchester City.

I now hope to continue with my blog – it may be a series of shorter posts – I have to work it for me. I am also going to start a video blog – I love talking and can be much more spontaneous,. My first video has already been recorded – I just need to edit it – challenging to say the least and publish.

Anyway thanks for reading.

Can anyone relate to this? I would love to read your comments- please feel free to give me any advice or just say hi to let me know you’re still there!

My email is earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com or comment below.

See you soon Elaine

Bloggers #Christmasbeautybrawl16 Day 9

My penultimate post of this 10 day beauty brawl. Today’s topic is hand cream. As a nurse this has been a beauty staple throughout my career. Constant hand washing and use of alcohol hand rubs has seriously taken its toll at times – see my post about nails
Through use of all these harsh skin cleansing products I have also developed some severe skin sensitivities which took me nearly two years to correct with the use of topical steroids and dermatology input. Thankfully now that period in my life is over but my hands still dry out and become sore quickly. My favourite products have been from the Body Shop – Hemp hand cream and the now no longer available Hawthorn hand cream. Also Elizabeth Arden’s 8 hour creams are fabulous.

For my review I’m trialling Endless Glove from Soap and Glory – I acquired this through a competition promotion run by Soap and Glory.  It is described as a 2-1 Moisture mask and hand cream. It can be used as a hand cream alone or massaged into your hands before bed and worn with or without cotton gloves for a deep treatment.

The product description is:
Soap And Glory ENDLESS GLOVE is a new 2-IN-1 MOISTURE MASK and LUXURY HAND CREAM that is so marvelous, it’s miraculous. Formulated with EIGHT-OIL AQUA WRAP, VITAFADE-BC, MACADAMIA & GRAPESEED OILS, POMEGRANATE & SHEA BUTTERS, it creates a deeply protective moisture barrier on the skin and works for 12 hours after you apply it. It’s a dry skin moisturiser for even the flakiest feelers leaving them smooth, luscious & velvety soft.

I have used it solely as a cream applying during the day when required or after having washed up!  My scores are:

Packaging: 80/100 It’s in the instantly recognisable pink packaging of Soap and Glory. It’s a nice size – I have the 50ml size which fits nicely in a handbag.

Price:  I’m unable to score it on price as mine was free and whilst researching this product it appears to be unavailable at the moment.

Product: 90/100  I liked this product – it applies well and soaks in quickly without being too greasy. My hands felt soft and smooth for a long time after application. It has a very pleasant, not overpowering, fragrance.

Thank you for dropping in to read this review. Please feel free to comment or contact me by email earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com I love to know you’re out there. And remember to hop over to Victoria’s blog before you go.

 

 

 

Bloggers – #christmasbeautybrawl16 Day 10

This is the final post in this collaboration – a big Thank You to Beth Mahoney  La Blog Beaute for providing me with the chance to take part.
To end this 10 day collaboration I’m finishing with a concealer.

I have chosen a budget brand Make Up Revolution Focus and Fix Liquid Concealer in 02 Fair I am rapidly becoming a fan of all of the Make Up Revolution products. I have usually used mid to high end priced concealers. Having worked lots of night shifts I can be prone to dark shadows due to lack of sleep rather than bags. Therefore I love a concealer.

This was a snip at £2 and did the job sufficiently. It hasn’t got the quality of the Mac concealer I was using prior to this but for the price it did a decent job.
Packaging:  75/100 Basic packaging, clear tube with gold detailing and black lid. But for the price its what yo.u’d expect.

Price:  95/100 At £2 it’s a steal!

Product: 90/100  At the price it was an adequate product that did a good job of hiding my dark shadows.It lacked the quality of high end products but at the end of the day I would use this again if my budget demanded. Hey! I might even use it anyway as I look to be more frugal in retirement.

Well as Bugs Bunny used to say at the end of Warner Brothers cartoons ‘That’s all Folks!” The final product in this 10 day series of reviews.

Thank you so much for visiting and reading my posts. Please comment below on today’s product or on the series as a whole. Alternatively email me earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com

I would also appreciate if you would follow me to see what I have to say about my new life in early retirement.

Before you go look at what Victoria has got to say in her final post

 

Bloggers #Christmasbeautybrawl16 Day 8

Thanks for coming back again today to see my next review. can’t believe we’re on Day 8 already – time flies when you’re having fun.
The product today is foundation. One of my must have beauty products. As I’ve matured obviously my skin texture and appearance has altered. No more breakouts but lots more ‘laughter lines’, sun damage and fine red veins. What I loo for now is medium coverage – if it’s too heavy it’s not a good look at my age. I also want a dewy finish to make my skin look fresh and radiant – but not too dewy so that it makes me look like I’m having a hot flush!

I’ve heard colleagues rave about Mac and thought I’d try some of their products. I chose Mac Mineralize Moisture SPF15 foundation in shade NW20.

I liked the product, it provided nice natural coverage with a soft dewy finish. I felt it was flattering for my skin and colouring and lasted nicely throughout the day. I will use this again. Foundation is a product that I don’t mind paying out for a high end brand.
Packaging: 65/100 There is nothing special about this packaging at all.The shiny black outer packaging is the best part of it but the bottle itself is just average. The pump dispenser works well and delivers the correct amount.

Price:  80/100 At £29 it’s OK for a high end foundation.

Product: 90/100 it applies nicely and provides a medium coverage finish that looks dewy and fresh. I think it’s good for the more mature skin. It’s a lovely gift for ypur mum or auntie – treat them for Christmas!

Thanks for popping in and reading once again. Tomorrow I’ll be reviewing a hand cream.

Before you go – hop over to Victoria’s blog to see her choice of foundation and read her review.

Please don’t hesitate to comment below I love to hear from you. Or contact me by email earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com

 

 

Blogger – #Christmasbeautybrawl16 – day 7

This is going so fast -and I’m enjoying it.
Today’s remit is a lipstick.

I’m going to put it out there –I have thin lips that lipstick does not stick to!

I have read all the literature, use primer, add a base, lip liner, apply, blot and apply again.  I’ve been there, seen it, done it and got the T Shirt! If you’ve got thin lips like mine nothing, and I mean nothing makes your lipstick stay on.

I chose the product I have after asking a beauty blogger what product was good for mature thin lips.

I was recommended this Georgio Armani Lip Maestro
Rich intense colour, amplified by light. Giorgio Armani introduces Lip Maestro: the next generation of lip colour. The first lip stain with an ultra comfortable velvet texture and a radiant finish. Intense, seductive, illuminating colour. Lips appear instantly plumped and radiant. The sensual, non-sticky texture offers high colour density for hours wear. Intensify your colour experience, available in a spectrum of twelve shades.

I tried this in shade 200 – Art Deco and I picked mine up in America my favourite store Sephora. The shade was probably a tad too dark for me but the colour did stay on probably longer than most products. I would use it again.

Packaging: 70/100 For such a high end product the packaging is pretty bland. There is a subtle Georgio Armani logo

Price:  80/100 This is a high end product and sells at around £27  I  think it’s expensive but it did last on me which is a bloomin miracle!

Product:  85/100 I liked this. I have tried hundreds of lip products hoping for a miracle. This does have a good applicator and applies well. Miracle of miracles it does last longer than other products. I would use this again in a slightly paler shade. I used a clear gloss over the top on occasions

Thank you for reading, why not hop over to Victoria’s blog to see what she reviewed.

Please feel free to comment or contact me via email earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com

Bloggers – #Christmasbeautybrawl16

I hope you are enjoying this beauty collaboration led by Beth of La Blog Beaute  If you wish to know more about it please read my introduction for full details of what it is and who’s involved.
Day 6 and the review is for a brow product.

Brows are ‘the thing’ lately but I’m from an era where we plucked them to death and consequently I have thin brows that can’t be resurrected. However I don’t ignore them completely and appreciate that well tamed brows can frame your face and take years off. I have been using a brow product that I like but decided to try an alternative.

My product is Bourjois Paris Brow Duo

The description of this product is : Bourjois’ Brow Duo pencil is a 2-in-1 eye brow pencil and highlighter.
Reshape and define brows with the powder pencil, then brighten eyes and lift brows with the creamy highlighter.
Ensure you have perfect brows everyday with this versatile brow duo pencil.
Bourjois combines quality and expertise with an element of joie de vivre to ensure every product is of the highest quality and result.

I thought I would try this because of the added highlighter.

I wasn’t keen on this at all when I tried it. The brow pencil was average, it did not match up to the product I was using previously. The highlighter was OK but not as dazzling as I expected. I felt it all looked a bit ‘obvious’ – like the brows of my mothers era.

My scores are:

Packaging: 60/100 Quite a dull looking product -nothing to make it stand out

Price: 70/100 At £6.99 I think it is quite a lot for what it is.
Product: 60/100 As I said I was hoping for a better look from the duo but they looked a bit obvious – like the old pencilled in eyebrows of my mothers era.
Thanks for reading and please come back tomorrow for my next review. Also please visit Victoria’s blog to see her product.