Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A Late Lunch in McGrew's Bistro and the Olly Olcock Exhibition, The Old Fire Station, Carlisle.

My cousin Glen and I visited Carlisle's new arts venue The Old Fire Station for the first time this week. We met up in McGrew's Bistro which is part of the complex. It was a hodge podge of different tables and chairs, we went for very comfy armchairs. We both chose pate with ciabatta, salad and Cumberland sauce and shared a bowl of chips. The food came quickly and was lovely, a generous portion of delicious pate and the ciabatta lightly toasted, the Cumberland sauce went really well with it. The staff were very friendly and helpful. The cost for the two pates, one bowl of chips, two teas and one coffee was £17 which we felt was reasonable. My only complaint would be that they had the automatic doors permanently open and it wasn't a warm day, so the place was quite cold and I had to keep my jacket on.

We went upstairs to view the Olly Alcock  art exhibition, which took a while to find as it was a bit of a rabbit warren and no signs guiding you there until you found the right entrance. It was a small exhibition of acrylic paintings mainly of Cumbrian Lakeland scenes though there were a couple of paintings of a plane and steam train. The quality of the paintings varied, some were a little "flat,"but most were very good with a lot of detail. My favourite was a striking picture of Helvellyn's Striding Edge, which is the left hand painting above. The paintings exuded feelings of calmness and serenity and highlighted the stunning beauty of Cumbria's Lake District.

The exhibition is free and lasts until the 31st of July.

Address:  The Old Fire Station,
                Warwick Street
                Carlisle CA3 8QW


Monday, 20 July 2015

Restaurant Review, Lunch at No. 34, Carlisle

Bijou was always one of my favourite restaurants in Carlisle, it had a lovely atmosphere and excellent food. It has now been transformed into No.34 but still run by the same owners. My friend and I decided to try it out for the first time one lunchtime last week. We arrived at 1pm and it was quite busy but we found a table for two. Just after 1pm a server came and asked if we would like a drink and we ordered one. The tables and seating is similar if not the same as it was for Bijou, so it is comfortable and roomy, but the decor was very different, dark walls covered in pictures, it was ok but I must say I preferred the airy elegance of the old restaurant.

We waited to receive our drinks and place our order, and waited some more. Eventually at 1.20pm the server came, without any apology for the lengthy delay, with our drinks and to take our order. We both had The Fish One, a fish burger in a roll with spicy raisin coleslaw and salad. At 1.40pm we received our meal, good job we weren't in our lunch hour.

I'm sorry to say I was very disappointed in The Fish One as was my friend, it was almost tasteless and we both ended up leaving some which is a rare occurrence for me as people know! I did not like the spicy coleslaw but I do not like that kind of thing anyway. My friend said that it was needed to add some flavour to the burger. We finished with a coffee. Two meals, two alcoholic drinks and two coffees cost us £27.00

It's a shame that I have to write a bad review for this restaurant at lunchtime, but I have to be honest about how I felt. Maybe another dish would have tasted much better, maybe service would have been better if they had not been busy, I've never before had that complaint about Bijou which was always outstanding lunchtime and evening. I'll try out the place again as this may have been a one off.

Address:   No.34
                 34 Fisher Street

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Restaurant Review, Dempsey's, Carlisle

Last week a couple of friends and I went to Dempsey's for a meal. I hadn't been there for a long time and the decor was very different, modern with a bit of glitz provided by chandeliers. There was a mixture of booths and tables that were well spaced, giving privacy, and the seats were very comfortable.

My Chicken Caesar Salad
We had decided to have the Early Evening Menu which had a good selection for starters, I had a Chicken Caesar Salad and my friends had a small Cheese Tart with salad. We had quite a long wait for this, but the server did apologise for the delay. My salad was delicious, plenty of chicken and all the salad items were very fresh, my friends enjoyed their starter too.

For the main we all went for the Picanha Steak, with fries and salad (which was plus £1.00.) There was a chimichurri sauce (which I thought was Indian but it turns out to be Argentinian) made from garlic, olive oil, chilli and herbs that accompanied the steak but I did not have that as I do not like chilli. The steak was good and very tender, more medium to well done than the medium  I had ordered, but I can live with that. To accompany the meal we had a bottle of Prosecco which always goes down well, especially on a warm summer's evening.

From Dempsey's Website
We didn't have enough room for a dessert so just had coffee to finish. The service was attentive and pleasant and the atmosphere relaxed. The Early Evening Menu is either two courses for £15.00 or three for £18.00 which is good value (the a la carte menu had a great selection too and prices not too expensive.) The three of us had two courses, (plus the £3.00 extra in all for the steak option) three coffees and a bottle of Prosecco and the bill came to £73.00 which was good value.

Address:  Dempsey's Bar and Restaurant
                11 Warwick Road
                Cumbria CA1 1DH


Friday, 3 July 2015

The Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre, Lowther, Cumbria

The Cafe
My friend Jayne and I went to visit The Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre the other week and had a wonderful time. The centre is located on the Lowther Estate just south of Penrith in Cumbria, which
 we found it very easily. We first went into the cafe which must have once been a barn and it was eclectic to say the least, every table and almost every chair was different and there were historical items on all flat surfaces. I loved it, I like places that are different and quirky. We had tea and a cream scone and I must say the scone was definitely homemade as they claimed, it just melted in my mouth.

Just after two o'clock we went to the field nearby to watch the show. We walked into a walled garden where the birds were, I was surprised by how many there were, and then out to the field. There were benches there and about twelve people already watching the show.

The falconer was called Paul Bevan and he definitely had the gift of the gab! He was very knowledgeable about the birds and also a stand up comedian! Sometimes though, I wished he had talked more about the birds and told fewer jokes.

Paul had Bernard the peregrine falcon out when we arrived. Then he showed us two white Gyrfalcons, two brothers called Dusty and Lefty. They were gorgeous birds and one was so stunningly acrobatic in flight that it took my breath away. The next bird to meet was Bob the Harris hawk and I got up close to lovely Bob! I put on the thick leather glove and Paul gave me a little treat
to place on top of the glove and then Bob swooped in for the treat and sat on my hand. It was such a privilege to be so close to such a magnificent bird. At one point Bob decided to relocate from my hand to my head - which we had been warned he might do! What a character, loved him.
One of the Gyrfalcons

After this we walked back in to the walled garden to meet Otto the eagle owl - who is very popular and has his own fan page on Facebook here. He was huge, there's just something so cute about owls and I was able to stroke him gently on his very soft tummy. Apparently the reason owls are so quiet in flight is because of the softness of their feathers.

We then walked to look at Tinkerbelle the bald eagle who was massive yet the sound she made didn't go with her size! She wasn't taken out of her cage unfortunately, would have loved to have touched her too.

Then the show ended, it normally runs from 2-4pm but it didn't finish until 4.30. Paul was obviously dedicated to these gorgeous birds and talked a bit about the conservation and breeding programmes he is involved with.

Paul and Otto
There was a little antique shop that we looked around before going back into the cafe so I could buy a piece of chocolate cake to take home (it was as yummy as it looked!) There is also a small shop there that we looked around before heading home.

In conclusion, I would definitely recommend a visit to The Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre for an informative, funny and very special afternoon, how often can you get close to such magnificent birds?  It's well worth the entry fee.

The centre is open 11.30-5.00 April to November. The adult entry fee is £8.50, however we got entry and tea and scones for two for £14 via a Travelzoo offer, brilliant value!

Address: Lakeland Bird of Prey Centre
               Near Penrith
               Cumbria CA10 2HH


The Stunning Tinkerbelle