Wednesday, 12 April 2017

North Carolina: Aviator Brewery - Craft Beer Brewing

On previous visits to North Carolina I have visited a vineyard and winery as well as a moonshine distillery so it just seems to fall into order that this time I take a tour around a craft beer brewery!  Aviator Brewery is located in Fuquay Varina, NC about three miles from my sister's house.

On the Main Street of old Fuquay Aviator Brewery also have a bar - The Tap Room,

a store - The Bottle Shop
and a restaurant called The Smokehouse, all within walking distance from each other.

First stop though was the brewery for a brewery tour.  What do you do when you fly private aircraft and have some down time - you start brewing beer of course!  When you have so many friends stopping by for a glass and the owners of the airplane hangars say that is too many people then what? You move premises and start craft brewing on a much larger scale and Aviator Brewery is born.
When you get to the premises and whilst you wait for the next tour to begin you can sample some of the many beers on offer and of course buy a pint to drink whilst you wait.  There is outdoor seating and a few games to keep you occupied!
The beers all have creative names and very creative ABV strengths rising up to around 13%!
The rise in craft beer brewing in North Carolina surged when the limit for ABV was raised to 15% in the state with Raleigh, the state's capital city having over 20 craft brewers alone and a total of just over 175 craft beer breweries spring up throughout the state.
After tasting some of the beers on offer we began our tour around the brewery.  The whole process is done in a compact and ultra modern environment.  It is a very slick operation with only 23,000 sq ft of space to brew and can now fill 300 cans per minute!

A quick pit stop for a pint before finishing our tour.  Cheers!!
Aviator believe that beer should be put into cans to better care for the amber liquid inside.  Cans make sure the beer is not affected by sunlight or air as is possible with bottles.  It is also easier to recycle cans.

Our guide said "Anyone can make a beer, the craft is hiding the alcohol taste and leaving the beer taste.". There were loads of pallets loaded with beer cans waiting to be filled,
shrink warpped and packed ready to be shipped out.
Mr R certainly enjoyed trying some of the beers on tap the day we visited!!
Following our tour we proceeded to The Tap House and sat outside on a warm Spring evening, drinking beer and listening to live, local music - pure Southern comfort!

We visited Aviator Brewery with a Groupon voucher thereby we received branded glass each and free beer to take home.  I was not required to write a positive review.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own. No photos may be reproduced in any form without my express permission.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Win a Chance to Get Carried Away with this Giveaway from Wham FlexiBags and Square Carry-alls

How many times have you looked for the perfect carry-all but never have what you need to hand.  Wham have a new range of Flexi Bags and Flexi Square Carry-alls out now in a lovely range of spring colours and hand sizes.
There are endless uses for these bags and carry-alls such as garden trugs, picnic wine ice-bucket, car boot organisers and perfect to pack your shopping in the trolley and carry to the car.

They are strong and durable with comfortable dual handles and easy to clean,  stack and store.
The Flexi-Bags come in four sizes; 6 ltr, 12.5 ltr, 24.5 ltr and 40 ltr and come in Duck Egg Blue, Coral, Pastel Yellow and Pastel Pink.
The Flexi-Square Carry-Alls come also come in four sizes; 8 ltr, 15 ltr, 25 ltr and 40 ltr and come in Soft Lime
and Duck Egg Blue.
If you would like to win a set similar to the ones I have then follow the Rafflecopter instructions below.

This giveaway is open to resident of the UK only.

I was sent a set of Flexi-Bags and Flexi-Square Carry-Alls  for review.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions and photos are my own.  No photos may be reproduced in any form without my written permission.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, 7 April 2017

Mexico City: Hotel Geneve - Cosmopolitan and Charming Hotel

On a recent trip to Mexico City a couple of months ago we stayed at the Hotel Geneve, one of the oldest hotels in Mexico City. As you slowly make your way through crowded and busy street you certainly don't expect to arrive at this cosmopolitan hotel where you are given a very warm welcome.
Hotel Geneve within easy reach of most of the city attractions very near to the Angel of Independence monument
but far enough away to be in a quiet(ish) street surrounded by real Mexican life!  The hotel offers the many international and local guests a dedicated concierge service, the Phone Bar on the ground floor has a stunning collection of antique telephones.

On the premises you will also find a fitness centre, spa and the Veranda Bistro Restaurant serving meals all day but excelling at a traditional Mexican breakfast to set you up for the day.
Breakfast Tamales
and a selection of fried tacos along with many other savoury and sweet traditional dishes.
The interior of the hotel is lavish, dressed impressively for the impending Christmas holiday.
The hotel has turned itself into a mini museum celebrating that it has welcomed well known and influential guests for over 100 years including Sir Winston Churchill and Charles Lindberg.
My room had a really comfortable bed with a headboard carved from red cedar wood as well as the usual selection of Wi-Fi, TV, Air-conditioning, safe deposit box, coffee making machine (restocked daily) and more.

I was a guest of Hotel Geneve and the Mexico City Department of Tourism. I was not required to write a positive review.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own.  None of my photographs may be reproduced in any way without my written permission.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

A Birthday Party at Pizza Express

My granddaughter (Little Miss) recently turned nine years old.  Where did the time go? I remember being handed a little 5lb12oz pink bundle and suddenly she is fast growing into a gorgeous young lady!!
Little Miss's mother is a Manager at Pizza Express in Milton Keynes at the Hub. Pizza Express do birthday parties for children where they get to make their own pizza, have it cooked then sit down to eat it.
Little Miss invited several of her friends as well has her two cousins, Big and Small and her step sister and two step brothers.
Sitting next to her best friend from school is a very happy young lady.!
All the ingredients are ready and the dough has risen ready for pizza making.
A quick lesson from Mum how to treat your dough to get it ready to toss in the air.
"Look kids, this is how you toss a pizza". They all thought that was great fun!
Small is certainly having fun.
"Ta-Dah" as Big presents his dough ready for the tomato sauce.
Little Miss gets shown how to spread the sauce by her mum.
"Look Nanny I made a pizza" chirped Small.
Pizzas all cooked and time to settle down and eat their creations.
Time for the birthday girl to blow out her candles.
And a final dish of ice cream before all making our way home, the children clutching the pizza that they couldn't eat there.
If you have 'Little People' and are looking for an alternative birthday party give Pizza Express a thought.
I did not receive anything from Pizza Express and was not required to write a post about the party.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own.  No photos can be reproduced without my written permission.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

St Albans: Sopwell House - An Oasis of Luxury in Hertfordshire

I was invited to lunch at Sopwell House in St Albans with fellow blogger Fiona (London Unattached) which was very convenient for me as I live just 10 minutes away in St Albans.  I picked Fiona up at St Albans train station and off we sped.

Sopwell House is tucked away surrounded by green fields, cows and golf fairways however as you come into view you are presented with a large Georgian Grade II mansion set in 12 acres of well maintained grounds.
Once Sopwell House was the home of Lord Mountbatten, uncle of HRH Prince Philip whose mother Alice married into the Greek royal family. It is now frequented by major football players due I would think to the proximity of several of their training grounds situated around Hertfordshire.

The entrance into the main building is warm and welcoming and as you step into luxury, activity, comfort and relaxation staff are on hand to see to your needs.
Facilities include a lunchtime, more informal dining room,
which can also be used by the guests of the spa located on the premises.
A cocktail lounge,
afternoon tea conservatory, wedding venue and day spa which encompasses health, leisure and beauty in the TechnoGym, pool, steam room, sauna and jacuzzi.

There are 128 rooms which includes the newly refurbished Mews Suites,
each self contained offering fantastic privacy some including four poster beds, fireplaces, high end kitchenettes and private terraces
The bedrooms are equipped with large, comfortable beds, nespresso coffee machines and along with contemporary decor offer a relaxing stay and good night sleep.
There is a communal jacuzzi in case your suite doesn't have it's own.
We were there for lunch in the dining room which is also serving breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner.
The lunch menu changes seasonally.  It offers a two course lunch for £19.50 and three courses for £23.50. Each course has at least four choices.  My starter was a Salad of roast Butternut Squash, Shaved Parmesan, Gem Heart and Caesar Dressing.
For my main course I chose Breast of Norfolk Black Chicken, Morels, Confit Garlic, Button Onions and Dauphinoise Potato.
We were really full by this point asking for a bit of breathing space before enjoying a delicious dessert of Dark Chocolate Mille-Feuille, Chocolate Glass and Mango Sorbet.
My friend Fiona picked three very different choices to mine.  For starter she had the Confit Sea Trout, Wasabi mayonnaise, Dill Puree, Lemon Gel and a Tapioca Wafer.
Main course for Fiona was Steamed Lemon Sole, Bok Choi, Spring Onion and Coriander Asian Dressing.
Followed by a Rhubarb Crumble, compressed Rhubard with Ginger and Vanilla Ice Cream.  The dessert was served without the little piece of gold leaf.  Our waiter Tony felt she too deserved a bit of gold leaf as I had it on my dessert so be brought out a little bit for her!  We both agreed it added that final panache to the plate!
Coffee and petit fours followed before we went for a walk in the gardens.
As we walked around the grounds we noticed several places for a quiet ponder or cup of tea,
The Spa at Sopwell House offers relaxation in many forms including a 14.5m pool, steam room, sauna and jacuzzi as well as a range of therapies using Clarins and ESPA products.  I am thinking I might need to check this out very soon!

I was a guest of Sopwell House for lunch.  I was not paid to write a review.  As usual all opinions and photos are my own.  Photos may not be reproduced in any form without my written permission.