Pages: 'How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford | Gifted

Wednesday, 20 November 2019

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How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford flatlay

You may or may not know that I have a little bit of a love for gin, I think it might be hereditary but it also comes down to a couple of years in marketing at True North Brew Co, makers of Sheffield Dry Gin. 

Before I worked there I enjoyed gin but in the surge of the gin boom not only did I learn a lot but I loved a lot! So when I was offered a copy of Sue Telford's 'How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' I couldn't resist. 

gin botanicals

With the gin boom came an onslaught of gin and gin themed books mostly filled with cocktails and the odd fact. 

What is brilliant about Sue's 'How To Drink Gin' is that her passion for the spirit really comes out. The book takes you through what gin really is and all the unique styles available before touching on its history.

How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford flatlay

Chapter 2 then takes you into the botanicals, a section I love! Sue Telford not only takes you through the key gin botanicals but also explains how they pair with each other and sit within our tastes. 

How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford flatlay

This helpful insight doesn't end here, Sue then goes on to debunk all those terms you hear that can make you feel a little out of touch from 'mouthfeel', 'thin legs' and 'the finish' so now you actually know what these words relate to.  With this simple chapter you can feel more confident when tasting gin and secure in your own taste palate. 

gin botanicals


On this ginthusiast's adventure in 'How To Drink Gin' Sue also covers bar tools and glass ware with stunning illustrations before heading into the who's who of mixers and how to garnish like a pro! I loved this section, the steps make them look so simple and I cannot wait to have a go at making some myself. 

How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford flatlay

Ending on a high 'How To Drink Gin' finishes with a collection of cocktails with beautiful photographs that will have you whipping out your bar cart and thinking about a lunch time negroni! 

How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' by Sue Telford flatlay

Pick up 'How To Drink Gin: Make It, Mix It, Master It' here and take your gin drinking to the next level! 

*gifted book from Red Door Books but all words, opinions and gin drinking are my own
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Sticky Chai Tea Workshop at Birdhouse Tea Bar & Kitchen | Gifted

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

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Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

There are cupboards in my flat dedicated to tea, if you fancy it - I probably have it or have just finished it! So when Birdhouse Tea Bar & Kitchen invited us down to try their Sticky Chai Tea workshop I couldn't wait to have a go at making my own blend and learning more about the brew I love so much.  

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop image of bowls of tea

We were welcomed into their ever beautiful tea bar on Sidney Street in Sheffield to bowls of chai tea and spices perfectly laid out and filling the air and our senses. 

After we were all seated the lovely Rebecca began the session by telling us all about the origins and history of tea and how the differences were reflected in the taste as we tried the pairing teas. I'm not going to dive any deeper with what she told us as i'd love you to find out for yourself but it was so interesting I came out with so many notes and a new found appreciation for my tea collection.

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

After dipping our toes in tea history Rebecca then went on to describe the origins of spiced chai tea and the differences between the dry and sticky blends before taking us through what we would be doing to create our own. 

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

Using the Birdhouse Chai blend of Assam tea, cinnamon and ginger as a base to build upon we added as much ginger, peppercorn, nutmeg, turmeric, star anise etc to our hearts content whilst trying our brews to make sure we'd got them right.

It was so interesting to see how every person in the workshop came out with different teas just from the colours of brews to the smells changing around the room. 

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

After we nailed our own blends we transferred these to sealable bags and remade our blend in our jars ready to make our chai tea sticky! 

The beauty of sticky chai is that it helps all the different sized tea and spices blend together better. Typically when tea settles it separates by size, the 'sticky' part helps them come together as they infuse and prevents the tea levelling out this way.  

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

I used agave syrup to make my brew sticky but honey was the go to of the group! A sticky chai makes for a richer flavour and an absolute treat! Just add a spoonful to simmering milk for the perfect winter pick me up! And the syrup! Oh my gosh, drizzle that bad boy on a cake!

You can keep your sticky chai in the fridge and just top it up with your dry mix as you use it up, so we came away from Birdhouse Tea Company with chai for months!

Birdhouse Tea Company Spices Sticky Chai Tea Workshop

My nickname is Bam so I had to name mine 'Bam's Brew' but there were some hilarious names within the group. We had such a laugh whilst learning about tea and creating something unique - I am desperate to do it again maybe for a Hen Party or Baby Shower with a cosy keepsake. 

If you'd like to try your own Sticky Chai Tea Workshop go get in touch with Birdhouse Tea Bar & Kitchen on 0114 327 3695 or drop them an email on hello@birdhouseteacompany.com or just pop in and see them on Sidney Street for food and drink, they're lovely!

*gifted press event from Birdhouse Tea Bar but all words, opinions and chai tea are my own

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Pages: 'Bleaker House' by Nell Stevens

Monday, 28 October 2019

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Nell Stevens Bleaker House

It’s interesting to think what you could do if all you had to do is focus on your biggest passion, Nell Stevens’ ‘Bleaker House’ is a physical representation of that. An investigation into the creative process, location inspiration and everything you thought writing a novel could be. ‘Bleaker House’ is a book about writing a book, with interjections of story…

Nell Stevens Bleaker House


Nell Stevens was granted a fellowship that funded a three month writing residency anywhere in the world and she opted for the solitary and inhospitable Falkland Islands, in winter. As she says herself “I want to know how good at life I can be in a place where there are no distractions,” so plans her trip so she could spend a month in Stanley, the capital searching for material for her novel in the towns archives before flying out to the uninhabited (due to the time of year) Bleaker Island to write it.

Inspired by the island and Charles Dickens Nell Stevens came to title ‘Bleaker House’ and although she did leave with a book it is not the ‘Bleaker House' novel that she envisioned but kept the title anyway all in the name of the difficulty of novel writing.

Nell Stevens Bleaker House

Before leaving she talks of her desperation for time alone, as if it is romantic to find something where there is nothing but she is consistently reminded that she does not do well alone. Stevens return to this is the drilling in that she wants to write and it may take this dramatic trip to achieve it. Almost committing more to the idea of the book than the book itself. But in this desolate choice you become irritated, in her lack of planning and resource for the trip.Yes she packed enough powdered soup and instant porridge to sustain her but I know if I was alone with ninety thousand words ahead of me I’d need much more wine.

Nell Stevens Bleaker House


Interestingly, Stevens did not bring the story together whilst there, and when reading ‘Bleaker House’ it feels like a mishmash of her other fictional and non fiction writing coming together at least year after she return from the trip. Aspiring to be a book but intertwined between a collection of stories and the attempted art of writing a novel. But an art which we know now is much more of a struggle than it is ever imagined, the idea that we all have a novel in us but life just keeps getting in the way.

Reflecting on this and ‘Bleaker House’ I still can’t quite put my finger on the intermittent stories and how they come together. As if an interlinking thread is missing, almost a naivety in that a trip could make Stevens into a novelist and combining a collection of previous work with her telling of the trip could make it a novel. But although it is not the novel she intended, it is something the was created out of strong passion and intention. A stepping stone in her career as a novelist, fighting between boundaries of fiction whilst pushing her own limitations as a writer.

Nell Stevens Bleaker House

Want to read 'Bleaker House' for yourself? Buy it here. 
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October Charity Shop Book Haul

Sunday, 20 October 2019

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October book haul featuring a stack of books

You all know I love a good rummage around a charity shop and that I am too emotionally attached to books and often want to save them (now you get why i'm single). So the past month with an onslaught of rubbish that has hit my life I have found myself picking up plenty of books in my rare free time up and down the M1. Although they have gone on the never ending 'to be read' pile I am determined to enjoy them all! 

October book haul featuring a stack of books

My first pick ups were from Cancer Research UK where I was lucky enough to pick up Deborah Levy's 'Hot Milk' that explores the strange nature of woman hood and Kurt Vonnegut's collection of short stories 'Armageddon in Retrospect'.

October book haul featuring a stack of books

Then I got more bargains in Age UK with Richard Powers' 'The Overstory' for just £2.50! Ever since hearing Powers speak at 'Off The Shelf Festival' in Sheffield about this novel I have been keeping my eye out for it! It's a hefty book but I have heard amazing things about the intertwining of human life and that of trees. Have you read it? Let me know what you think. 

I also got Sarah Waters' 'The Paying Guest'! I've yet to read a Waters novel that I didn't love so I know this will get read eventually! I'm just missing 'Affinity' now. 

October book haul featuring a stack of books

Next up were some absolute bargains from LOROS which is a hospice charity in Leicestershire and I cannot wait to check their charity shop out again. My Grandma is an avid reader too and I came out with enough books to keep us both busy for a while. 

Alongside some bestsellers I picked up Ann Rule's 'The Stranger Beside me' about Ted Bundy which I cannot wait to read even with its teeny tiny font! 

October book haul featuring a stack of books

My final additions to my October haul were from St Luke's Hospice Charity Shop in Sheffield with some more wintery additions from Laini Taylor and John Green. As well as my continued hunt for Phillip Pullman and this lovely Norton Anthology. 

I think a charity shop or car boot book rummage is one of my favourite things to do! Anyone else agree? 


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It’s Never Dull in Hull | AD

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

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This post is in collaboration with The University of Hull but all thoughts, opinions and awkwardness are my own. Oh and phone cameras were still a bit pants back then, so enjoy the photos too! 

Lets kick this off with a whole heap of honesty, I had never heard of or had any idea where Hull was when I decided to go the University of Hull. But the choice to change University via clearing all those years ago is one of the best decisions I ever made. 

I loved my course, met some life long friends, developed a bit of a Northern twang and learned what chip spice is! 


Typewriter Teeth University of Hull Clearing Graduation Image

When I originally applied for University through UCAS I was set to study Marketing & Economics at a different University. I had picked the course because I thought it was the right thing to do rather than a subject I loved and looking back I don’t think I’d have stuck it out.

I studied Business Studies, English Language & Literature and History at A-Level and also took an AS level in Economics. When results day rolled around and I didn’t get the grades need
ed in Business Studies to get into my first University choice it was like a blessing in disguise. 

I just remember floods of tears and feeling like i'd let my parents down when really it wasn’t the end of the world but a chance for me to follow my gut instinct. My best friend and I then began to work our way through UCAS clearing for something I loved, English & Creative Writing. Clearing is the opportunity to change you mind, the way in and a new direction if you do better or worse in your exams than expected.


At this point I had no idea where Hull even was but after reading through what felt like millions of courses the way the University of Hull split their English courses and their syllabus just felt like instantly right, with core subjects I couldn't wait to study and unique subjects and seminars.


Once I’d made the decision of the course I wanted the next step was Clearing and as terrified as I was it felt like such a quick process compared to the first University application. 

It was so simple! I felt instantly welcomed to the University of Hull. I remember crying and snuffling down the phone to a woman called Bethan, desperate to prove myself and for them to take me and she just made everything so simple and set me at ease. It felt like she took my application as me and my passions rather than just grades on a screen. 


From then on I loved every moment living and studying at University of Hull (even the deadlines) and I think way too often that I should do a MA now. I constantly run into people who also studied in Hull and I've yet to meet a person who does not sing its praises. 

Before I moved there I heard a lot of negative comments and I am so glad I took them on the chin! Hull played a huge part in my life and I think it definitely made an impact on me moving back to Yorkshire a few years after University. I just love it up North! 

I could carry on writing about Hull for pages but I am going to attempt to sum it up into three reasons why I felt it was such an amazing place to study and hope you love it as much as I did... 

1. Brynmor Jones Library 

Typewriter Teeth University of Hull Clearing Brynmore Jones Library with snacks

The place I can whole heartily spent most of my time at the University of Hull was its beautiful Brynmor Jones Library. Now this may sound sad to you but we loved that place! 

If you picked the right floor and the right table you had stunning views over Hull to get you through that exam revision or the last 1000 words of that essay. Hull is a beautiful green city and it's possibly the best place to see it from! Yes it was filled with my favourite things ever but it also gave us a place to focus, quiet and meant that we went home to relax and only sometimes stress some more over deadlines.  


Some of my fondest Uni memories are from that library, in the hysterics inbetween essays and presentations we kept each other going with whispers, giggles and British passive aggressiveness at other tables making too much noise. 

2. [W]elly 



I was and still am a Welly and Spiders girl. Not only are they some of the best venues in the UK but they hold a dear place in my heart because by the end of the month I will be going to my second Welly Wedding! Welly vodka is the devil but clearly it knows love when it sees it. 

That club has something for everyone. Thank you for giving people a place for ridiculous dance moves and warming up with indie bangers before running upstairs and requesting 'Wasting Time' by Four Year Strong over and over again. Oh and an ace night out a tenner, Hull definitely has that cheap but sweet vibe and I love it!  



3.  People


There will never be words to describe the love for the people I met in Hull, we learned so much together and I wouldn't have done it any other way. 

I've always been the kind of person to speak to anyone but Northern hospitality is just taking it to the next level. I will always be proud to say that I am an adopted Northerner, say 'Good Morning' to strangers I pass on the street, do anything I can for those in need and say 'Cheers Drive' to confused bus drivers. 


The city is thriving and the University of Hull has introduced me to some of the most intelligent, caring, creative and unique people I have the pleasure of calling friends and I cannot thank clearing enough! 


I love seeing people go from strength to strength and the internet helps us see the beautiful lives that people are carving out. 

It's hard to keep in touch with everyone but walking down the street and catching eyes with someone saying 'Didn't you go the University of Hull?' is one of my favourite conversation starters! 



Did you go through clearing or to the University of Hull? Or are you thinking of going there? Talk to me! I bloody love a Hull chat! 

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