Manchester Restaurant Review – Piccolino Manchester #FreedomFriday

I have discussed before that I am retired and my husband now only works part – time. That means we have every Friday free – our weekend starts early! Yippee!

I refer to these days as #FreedomFriday

We try to spend quality time together. I like to share some of the activities we do and places we visit. Last Friday was a day into Manchester for drinks and food. We visited a couple of bars – which I will discuss in later posts about favourite bars in Manchester.

We chose to eat in Piccolino’s – Clarence Street just off AlbertSquare.

  • Name of venue visited

Piccolino’s

  • Reason for visit

Early dinner with husband

  • Time and day of visit

Friday 5pm -no prior booking

  • First impression
  • Greeted and seated immediately. Has been updated since our last visit. Lovely  vibe straight away, lively hum of chatter and activity. Love the cool blue leather, oak fittings and chandeliers. It looks much more than your average pizzeria.
    Sorry its a bit blurred!
  • Time to get servers attention/service

Met at the door by friendly staff – immediate attention.

  • Food quality

 

The food was delicious -We had garlic bread and olives for starters. For mains John chose the Linguine al gamberetti  – King Prawns, courgettes and chilli, he tends to chose a shellfish linguine. He thought this was one of the better ones he’s eaten.

I chose one of the seasonal specials – Pumpkin Risotto – I’d never eaten pumpkin before so wasn’t sure what to expect. It was lovely – the risotto was fabulous – creamy and perfect consistency. Again I eat a lot of risotto’s and this was one of the better ones.


We rarely eat desserts but we did on this occasions Afogata for John – a favourite for both of us – I ate a pear in chocolate sauce – Mmmmm- divine.

For drinks John had Moretti and a glass of Red Wine (house) for me.

  • Quality of Service

Service was prompt and business like. Not too many pleasantries exchanged. When the bill was presented it was £83 -on closer inspection there was 3 rounds of drinks on the bill that weren’t ours – a Negroni, a glass of Prosecco and an Aperol Spritz. I pointed this out and it was amended – did need two attempts though – the Aperol Spritz was still showing the second time. Again this was amended with no quibble. The new total was just a little over £54. Reasonable for the quality of food and surroundings.

  • Evaluation

Really pleasing visit. In fact I think this our new favourite Italian Restaurant.                   Would be suitable just to visit for a drink or cocktail

  • Would I visit again?

Yes, definitely.

Sample menu http://www.individualrestaurants.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Manchester-PICC-With-Fish-Platter-AW-2016-1.pdf

If you’ve visited one of the Piccolino Restaurants – was your experience as good?

What’s your favourite choice in an Italian Restaurant.

 

Please comment or contact me via earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com

Mummy in a Tutu

A short break in Whitby – is caravanning the way forward?

Over the past 16 years we have been fortunate enough to enjoy a foreign holiday a few times a year. We are also creatures of habit and tend to visit places that we enjoy and are familiar with. However, after our last 2 holidays this year – Fuerteventura and Croatia we both came to the same conclusion that we wanted to give them up for a while, apart from Fuerteventura again in January, as we visit a friend who lives there and our flights are already booked!

I think we both got tired of the whole suitcase, airport travel scenario,, plus having moved last December to our lovely new home we love it so much we don’t want to be parted from our home comforts for long! I don’t know if this is an age thing.

The current safety issues and currency challenges from Brexit did not influence or drive  our decision but in some small way they play a part.

So as we approached our 31st Wedding Anniversary, we booked a 4 night break in a caravan in Whitby – at Whitby Holiday Park.

We had walked through this park on a couple of occasions whilst walking part ot The Cleveland Way route from Whitby to Robin Hoods Bay. We always thought it looked lovely, on the clifftops – great views and peaceful.

We chose a Deluxe Caravan, we’re not completely ready to give up any luxury. Our caravan was lovely, had central heating if we required and 2 bathrooms – a main one with a surprisingly large shower and a smaller en-suite loo.

There is a Club and bar on site and we did pay a brief visit 2 nights out of the 4.The club was really nice and the bar well stocked. Staff were friendly. The park was reasonably quiet, although there were may tourers staying. On our second visit we exeuted a smash and grab raid, by this we rolled up around 10pm by taxi – called in the club for a nightcap. It had been quiz night and the Entertainment manager announced that he had one last quiz if everyone was interested. There was a unanimous Yes! He politely asked if we wanted to join in – me being the competitive person I am , plus I love quizzes of any kind said Yes. 30 questions later we were the winners – proudly presented with a box of matchmakers! A final drinks and we left for our lovely caravan proudly clutching said chocolates! Not bad for 40 minutes work!

The caravan park as I said is on the cliff tops, as well as being reached by road from Whitby centre it can be reached on foot too! We walked to and from the town every day apart from the aforesaid taxi return one night, this was after we stayed out to watch my beloved Manchester City in one of the pubs in Whitby! The walk is quite strenuous and takes around 30 minutes. There is a lovely walk along the coastal path to the magnificent ruins of the Abbey and Church of St Mary which can both be seen standing proudly on the East Cliff over the town.

Walk through this lovely churchyard which was founded around 1110, this churchyard is featured in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Once through the churchyard  there is the feat of the 199 steps that lead down to the cobbled street of old Whitby. Thankfully there are strategically placed benches for the climb up, to aid anyone needing respite to catch their breath. I love that there are small discs in Roman Numerals set into the steps in intervals of 10 counting your progress. There are some magnificent views from the churchyard and steps.

As I am trying to improve my fitness and taken to wearing a pedometer to count my 10000 steps – this held no fear, although I did realise how fit my husband is at nearly 58, he constantly had to wait for me on the uphill climb!

Whitby itself is a popular fishing town that attracts many visitors, it was surprisingly busy even in late September. In my opinion the attraction is the bracing sea air and the fabulous architecture. There is a lot of history attached to the town, most famously the great sailor and explorer Captain James Cook who lived in Whitby as a trainee with a local shipping firm, and Bram Stoker’s Dracula was written after Stoker stayed in Whitby, the town features throughout the novel. Whitby is still a thriving fishing town, the fishing boats can be seen sailing in and out throughout the day and night, their nets lie all around the harbour sitting at the mouth of the River Esk. It was a centre of ship building and a major whaling port in former years.

Another famous attraction of Whitby is it’s fish and chip shops, the town’s fishing fleet catch cod and haddock. The most famous is probably the Magpie Cafe where people queue, even in the rain in peak season to eat it’s famous fish and chips. It has been described by Rick Stein as the best fish and chip shop in Britain. I will devote another post to my review of the  Fish and Chips I’ve tried in the town.

As Whitby is close to the North York Moors national Park and on the Heritage Coastline there is plenty to see and do within a short distance. We have stayed in the town several times and visited a few local places. This time we decided to take a bus ride to Scarborough. It took an hour each way through undulating hills, which challenged the gear boxes and skills of the drivers  of the buses, but afforded lovely views. Scarborough is another historic seaside town and we spent a pleasant few hours there, mainly walking along the sea edge and  around the harbour.

We had our usual ice cream, however a note of caution – the seagulls are very large and very fierce, they will swoop and steal any food or ice cream. I’m not ashamed to say I threw my ice cream in the sand and ran off screaming as one very large gull was hovering above me, squawking and ready to pounce! Other visitors were amused by my antics!

Another day we drove to nearby Goathland, which was the setting for the TV programme Heartbeat, and then we visited Malton. This description and review of our stay mustn’t fail to mention that the caravan park has access to a small enclosed beach, framed by the cliffs, Saltwick Bay. We spent an hour walking on this beach on our wedding anniversary, again another bracing walk u and down many steps to reach it, but once there it was almost deserted, just another couple of people exercising their dogs. It was windy but not cold and lovely. I should imagine it’s a sun trap in the height of summer.

Returning to the original subject of the caravan stay,  our overall opinion is that we are now fans of this type of trip. We could amuse ourselves with sightseeing during the day and return to our lovely home from home at night. We love TV so we could keep up with soaps and drama’s plus there was WiFi so I could browse the internet and social media at leisure plus indulge my other hobby of entering competitions.

There were high winds on a couple of nights and lying in bed listening to the gusts of wing, we did wonder how the caravan stayed so stable. but it did! Also we were pleased to see in the morning that the tourers with their awnings were still all intact.

Weloved it so much that we have booked another caravan holiday for next year, this time to Northumberland, a part of England we have never visited.

Our aim to discover parts of our beautiful Isles is growing along with our wishlist of places to see.

I hope you enjoyed this review, and comments are welcome, maybe there a hidden gem in the British Isles that you recommend? Please feel free to comment or contact me earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com

Diary of An Imperfect Mum

 

 

 

 

 

September Beauty favourites – my recommendations for the over 50’s lady

This is my first post about beauty products. I know you’re saying – ‘Not another blogger talking about beauty products’ However most bloggers are still in the young and beautiful category. There aren’t too many who blog about age appropriate products for the more mature woman. Let’s face it (I think there’s a pun in there somewhere!), the vogue at the moment is sculpting, well you only have to look at Liz McDonald on Coronation Street to see that its not a good look for the over 50’s – Sorry Liz but that’s my honest opinion.

So I hope I can post about products that are helpful for the over 50’s of this world who still want to look their best without the use of surgical or aesthetic enhancements.

I will make my stand here about my thoughts on aesthetic procedures and enhancements before I proceed any further. I am not a fan and would not choose to go down that road, purely a personal choice. I have colleagues who work in the field and in fact I ma being encouraged to work in the field as I possess an Independent Nurse Prescribing  qualification.  Also many of my friends have undergone cosmetic procedures in one form or another. My opinion is that I don’t think many people are actually improved by procedures. I find it hard to think of a single celebrity who actually looks better or more youthful -they just look the same age but with cosmetic enhancements!

I am fortunate to be comfortable in my own skin and have the attitude that if you don’t like my wrinkles then tough! They are very much a part of me and who I am – I prefer to call them laughter lines. Plus I have been blessed (or not) with big boobs and I think they are a hindrance – they ruin the shape of many an outfit and dictate the type of clothes I can wear. I don’t think they are an asset at all.

Right, lest get to the subject in hand. Products I have bought in September that I like and recommend.

The Righteous Butter Diamond Edition Body Cream by Soap and Glory

Entering competitions is one of my hobbies and purchase of this product was necessary as entry to a competition. It was quite expensive but the prize was a diamond so I thought I’d give it a try. I never have a shower or bath without moisturising afterwards.

This is a lovely product -thick and luxurious with a pleasant fragrance. My skin felt silky after use. As the name implies there is a shimmer in the product – a subtle sheen that stays on the skin and lasts most of the day.

I would recommend this – as a mature lady my skin is now drier than before and needs a thicker product – this does the job and I will continue to use it. It isn’t the cheapest around though between £8 -£11. I won’t use it every day just when I’m going out and want to smell nice.

Lee Stafford Coco Loco CoConut MOusse

I have always had fine hair but it is even finer now with the joys of the menopause. I like to use a mousse that can add body as well as hold. I was attracted to this by its pink packaging, shallow I know!, plus I love anything with the scent of coconut.

The packaging claims to give “big bouncy hair that feels naturally cushioned, NOT crunchy and leaves hair smelling Deliciously Cocunuty. Day and Night”

I’ve used it quite a lot, I can’t claim that it adds volume or bounce, there are other products that I prefer, however I love the smell -it’s delicious and for that reason I continue to use it, unless I need an extra boost for special occasions. Again this isn’t the cheapest around £6 for 200 ml.

L’Oreal Paris Nude Magique BB Cream


I was recommended this product to try. As well as mature skin I also have some sun damage with areas of darkened pigmentation plus some red veins. Nothing major or horrific but I like to wear a base to even out my skin tone.

I have tried other BB creams and liked them but you do have to colour match. The beauty of this one is that it comes out of the tube was a white cream but once it goes on to the skin it blends and compliments your own skin tone. Don’t ask me how it does it. I apply with my finger tips and a little goes a long way. With just a fine application it quickly evens out my skin colour. On very natural days I don’t have to use a foundation.

It’s a big hit with me and is inexpensive around £7. I would highly recommend this if you need this type of product.

Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid for Lips


I  have always had thin lips – lipsticks never stay on no matter what I try – liner, primer, concealer, foundation, plumping agents. You name it I’ve tried it. I have drawers full of lipsticks and  glosses, in fact I’m quite obsessed. I think that by buying more I can find a miraculous cure or something to change my anatomy. As I’ve already discussed – fillers and aesthetic enhancements are not my thing so I have to make the best of what I’ve got.

With that said I bought this product. It used to be said that Matte lipsticks are not good for mature ladies- very drying for the lips and can enhance the appearance of very fine lines. I tried it anyway and have to say I’ve been very impressed by it.

The features I love are that it looks good on, lasts without frequent application, does not feel drying at all for a matte lipstick. I can apply this and it lasts for a couple of hours, it does fade a little but I can still see evidence of colour – which is a miracle for me. I chose shade 05 Nude Flush. Don’t be fooled by its name its actually quite pigmented. It costs around  £6.99, but often stores have offers.

I hope you like my suggestions. If any of you over 50’s out there have recommendations I’m all ears – please don’t hesitate to contact me, or if you ahve similar suggestions let me know. Comment on my post or email me at: earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com

 

Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

 

 

  Life’s simple pleasures – A day at the seaside – Llandudno

Llandudno Pier

I haven’t really posted yet about my travels – John and I have enjoyed several holidays and short breaks a year over the past 16 years. However, after our recent holiday in Croatia we feel that we may wish to take a break from frequent overseas travel at the moment – we are all suitcased out! Winter sun holiday excepted.

There are still many places in the UK that we still haven’t visited. The beauty of my free time in retirement is the opportunity to take short breaks. John has reduced his hours too and works 4 days a week, Monday to Thursday now creating a better work life balance. This has afforded us the opportunity to plan activities on our newly created Freedom Fridays!

Freedom Fridays

Last Friday we booked a night in Llandudno, Wales being top of our wishlist following the fabulous performance of their National Team in Euro 2016. I have to admit that I often find myself booking hotels online after a couple of glasses of wine and I have embarrassingly been known to book the wrong dates before now. Not sure I should admit this publicly but hey – it’s out there now! Anyway I’m glad to say that this booking was a total success. I booked into the Llandudno Bay Hotel for the one night. I know this is a very short break but one of these a month is good for the soul. I hadn’t researched hotels like I usually do without wine on board – this booking was originally made for the night of the Euro 2016 final in case Wales made it! We then transferred it to this new date. The hotel was described as a boutique hotel. We discovered during our stay that it had been open about a year located directly on the sea front with a terrace outside. The interior decor was fabulous, lush curtains and upholstery. I loved it especially the public areas. We ate dinner in the restaurant, it wasn’t cheap but the food was delicious and the service was excellent, there was the added extras of an amuse bouche and a palate cleanser.

Dinner at The Llandudno Bay Hotel

As for Llandudno itself, I really enjoyed my day there. It’s an Edwardian seaside resort retaining many of its original features. There’s even a Punch and Judy show. We strolled  along the sea front and down the Pier, with an obligatory ice cream of course. It brought back happy memories of my childhood holidays with friends and family.  We made our way to the cable car with a view to riding up to the top of the Great Orme, however it was 3.30 when we reached it and the last car from the top was at 4pm. You can walk down but I hadn’t done my homework and was unsure of the time it would take to walk down. Therefore we didn’t go up the Orme but will make sure we visit again to do so.

Llandudno seafront

My tag line is seeing life from a new perspective and I truly do see things differently now I have more time. I really see the things around me and take pleasure in little things. I have visited Las Vegas 4 times and love the bright lights, glitz and glamour but I get the same thrill from a day like this. Recalling the aforesaid childhood memories of the seaside, feeling the sun and breeze on my face, eating an ice cream, looking at the cheesy rides and stalls on the Pier. I hope to have more days like this – simple pleasures.
Do you have  a favourite place to visit in the UK? Or a favourite hotel? any suggestions or inspiration gratefully received to help us plan further days out for Freedom Fridays

comment below or email me at: earlyretirementrocks@gmail.com

Thanks for reading

Elaine

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