Monday, 27 May 2019

Restaurant review: Hang Fire Southern Kitchen

We visited Hang Fire Southern Kitchen for the first time on Friday evening. I'd booked it back in March as a birthday present for Neil, so we'd had more than enough time to get excited about it.

I was absolutely STARVING by the time we got to Barry. I had a tiny lunch to make sure I left enough room for copious amounts of meat in the evening, and my appetite was definitely at its peak. 

When we arrived at 6pm, we were shown to our table by the restaurant owner herself. She told us a bit about the history of the restaurant and explained that her partner was downstairs cooking all the food. The interior was completely different to what I expected, in a good way. It felt airy, authentic and relaxing. It was fairly quiet in the restaurant at that point but it soon filled up as the evening went on. 

I'd already looked at the menu about fifty times in the week leading up to our reservation, but I was still debating between a few different things. I eventually decided to go for the 'choose two BBQ meats' option and chose the spare ribs and the Texas sausage. I don't order ribs very often as I don't like eating meat off the bone, but loads of people had raved about the ribs at Hang Fire so I thought I'd regret it if I didn't try them. I also ordered a side of pastrami hash because I wanted to try as many things as possible (and I was starving). 

Yum yum yum! My eyes nearly popped out of their sockets when all this was put down in front of me. The seasoning on the ribs was absolutely delicious and the meat fell effortlessly off the bone. The sausage had the most beautiful smoky flavour, and I loved the accompanying homemade barbecue and mustard sauces. The pastrami hash with the crispy onion bits piled on top was also amazing and I could have eaten it all night. I didn't take many photos because I was so hungry and eager to devour everything straight away, but photos could never do the food justice in any case!  

Neil ordered the brisket and burnt ends with the mac'n'cheese on the side, and he was also really impressed. I left a quarter of a rib and some of my pastrami hash behind because I was so full at the end, and I felt genuinely gutted that I couldn't quite manage it all. I was also disappointed that I didn't have room to sample one of their desserts! 

Our main meals, sides and pints of diet Coke came to £55 in total. I thought this was very reasonable considering the great quality and the massive portion sizes. Everyone who served us was friendly and efficient, and they all clearly loved working in such a unique restaurant. 

Have you ever been to Hang Fire Southern Kitchen? We'll definitely be back! 

Monday, 20 May 2019

Our Walt Disney World traditions

There's still a little while to go until our holiday to Walt Disney World in September, and it's sadly been exactly a year since our 2018 trip.

I like to keep the magic alive between trips so I thought I'd blog about our Walt Disney World traditions. I tried to include lots of traditions that aren't centered around food to provide some variety, but it was obviously impossible to compile a whole list without some edible essentials sneaking in.

Staying in a Disney resort

We've been to Walt Disney World six times and we've always stayed in a Disney resort. So far I've stayed in Coronado Springs, Old Key West, Port Orleans French Quarter and Saratoga Springs (three times). I'm super excited that we're adding the Yacht Club Resort to this list in September!

Going to Disney Springs on our first evening

As soon as we've arrived at our resort and freshened up, we always head to Disney Springs for a wander around the shops, dinner at Earl of Sandwich and a cocktail at Dockside Margaritas. Park tickets are valid for 14 days from first use which means we need to choose whether we want to use them on our first evening or on our last morning before leaving for the airport. We prefer to use them on our last morning, so Disney Springs is the perfect relaxing alternative for our first evening.

Making use of our refillable mugs

We've had a free refillable mug on our last few trips to Walt Disney World as we've been on the Disney Dining Plan, but we still buy them when we're not on the plan. They're really good value for money as you can top them up with soft drinks or hot drinks at your resort as many times as you want. And, as an added bonus, they're beautifully designed like everything else in the Disney bubble.

Mickey waffles for my first (and last) breakfast

We always have a sit-down breakfast in the resort's food court on our first and last morning, and I absolutely have to order the Mickey waffles. Once I've got my three Mickey waffles in front of me, I feel as if my Disney holiday has truly begun!

Space Mountain is always our first ride of the holiday 

We always head to Magic Kingdom on our first day and, without fail, Space Mountain is the first ride we queue for. There are lots of rides I love at the Magic Kingdom, but Space Mountain is my absolute favourite because it's in the dark and IT'S SO MUCH FUN.

Lunch in the Magic Kingdom on our first day

We always book a table service lunch at the Magic Kingdom on our first full day, and we usually choose the Plaza. We did go to Tony's Town Square Restaurant instead a few years ago which was pretty good, but I think the Plaza will always be my favourite restaurant in the Magic Kingdom.

Ice cream at Beaches & Cream, Plaza Ice Cream Parlor and Ghirardelli 

You can buy ice cream in about a hundred different places in Walt Disney World. However, we always gravitate towards three places when we need an ice cream fix - Beaches & Cream at the Beach Club Resort, Plaza Ice Cream Parlor at the Magic Kingdom, and Ghirardelli in Disney Springs.


Meeting Pluto

Character meets aren't a huge priority for me when we go to Walt Disney World, but I always make sure I meet Pluto. We usually meet him on our second full day when we're in Epcot, and I love seeing his happy little face.

Fitting in as many boat rides as we can 

We always make sure we have a few boat rides during our trip. We try to get the boat from the Magic Kingdom to the Grand Floridian a few times, and we also catch the Friendship boat to Hollywood Studios from Epcot (and/or the other way around). They help us to rest our feet, they provide nicer views than the buses, and they obviously get us to where we want to go.

Beauty and the Beast and Festival of the Lion King shows

As you'd imagine, there are lots of different shows to see when you go to Walt Disney World. We tend to alternate between most of them on our different trips, but I absolutely have to see the Beauty and the Beast show in Hollywood Studios and the Festival of the Lion King show in Animal Kingdom every time we go.

What are your Walt Disney World traditions?

Monday, 13 May 2019

Writer's block

I've really struggled to come up with new content for my blog over the last few weeks. So, ironically, I'm going to write about having nothing to write about.

I don't think anyone (apart from my mother) notices or cares if my blog is a bit quiet for a few weeks, but I do. I've set myself a schedule of publishing a new post every Monday at 5pm, and it irritates me if I have to deviate from that. As I mentioned in a previous post, I plan every aspect of my life with military precision and I'm also a perfectionist, so I hate it when my plans don't come together.

So, in the interest of having some new content to publish at the allocated time, why have I got writer's block at the moment?

No photos

I've got lots of ideas for new posts on my blogging Trello board, but so many of them need new photos to supplement them. New photos require time and good lighting, and I haven't had an abundance of either over the last few weeks. I haven't got a professional camera or fancy lights, and all my photos are taken on my phone. One way around this is to use stock photos, so I've made use of Unsplash a few times when I don't need highly specific photos. It's not something I want to do too regularly so a lack of decent photos can be a big barrier.

Photo by Jessica Lewis on Unsplash

No time

I'm always really busy during the week. By the time I've been to work, been to the gym, walked Jessie and eaten dinner, there's not much of the evening left. This makes it difficult to find time to blog, particularly if I want to write a more reflective piece of content that needs a lot of thought. Consequently I try to use my weekends to blog, but that also becomes impossible if I've got lots of plans or want a screen-free weekend.

No room in my head for new ideas

I've had a lot going on lately which means I've struggled to think of new ideas for my blog. My brain is chock-full of a jumble of various stresses and this isn't ideal for the creative process. I always make sure I use whatever brainpower I've got left to do my job well, so there hasn't been much left by the time I get home.

Photo by Hans-Peter Gauster on Unsplash

No energy

Following on from the last point, I've been feeling completely exhausted and wiped out for weeks. The last thing I've wanted to do is get my laptop out and write after getting home in the evening. I've barely been able to keep my eyes open long enough to watch Neighbours, let alone anything else.

No recent holidays!

Holidays usually provide me with lots of blogging content, but I haven't been away since our trip to Venice in March. We also haven't eaten out anywhere new recently which means I haven't had any opportunities to write new restaurant reviews. We've got some exciting plans for the next couple of months, including a trip back to the Gower with Jessie, so hopefully those plans will provide me with some new content.

Have you got any tips about how to overcome writer's block? Or do you just go with it and start writing again when you feel up to it? Let me know!