A day out in Lincoln

A few weeks ago, my lovely friend Holly invited me to join her and a bunch of friends for a big day out / train picnic adventure to Lincoln. Only one hour from Nottingham by train, I’d heard little about Lincoln – only that it is home to an impressive Cathedral and hosts a hugely popular Christmas market each December – and had never been there before.

Unfortunately the reason for our outing was a sad one, as Holly is leaving Nottingham to move to London, but in her inimitable style, she made sure to have a special send-off.

First up was the train journey there. We enjoyed a train picnic – bringing prosecco, red wine, cheese, pork pies, nuts, hommus, tomatoes and other tasty delights on board to share amongst the group. It was a lovely way to pass the train journey, as we travelled through pretty Nottinghamshire/Lincolnshire countryside.

Welcome to Lincoln

Once arriving in Lincoln we enjoyed ‘free time’ and wandered around the town checking out the historic cobbled streets, and visiting some of the quirky stores and sights.

Saturday morning in Lincoln

Saturday morning in Lincoln is BUSY. It was a cold November day, but the sun was shining and it seemed everyone had come out to make the most of it. The area nearer the train station is mainly the usual high street suspects, but as we ventured further away, and started climbing up hill, we began to appreciate Lincoln’s pretty historic face.

Ladies who train picnic

The streets start to rise quite steeply and are lined with historic buildings, and on this autumn day the bunting was flying in the sunshine.

Lincoln’s Steep Hill

Steep Hill is a beautiful narrow street leading up to Lincoln Cathedral and Lincoln Castle, and is lined with all manner of temptations – second-hand bookshops, vintage shops, crafty gift stores, tea shops and clothing boutiques.

Autumn colours

It really is quite a steep climb, but there is plenty of cause to stop on the way up for a breather. We browsed in plenty of stores, but I managed to resist the temptations and save my pennies. We wandered and browsed and chatted, til we got to the top of the hill.

Cake show

I was particularly taken with this cake display in one of the tea shop windows. Tempting toffee fudge cake? If I wasn’t still full to the brim from the train picnic, I definitely would have been tempted to try a piece.

Lincoln Cathedral spires

As we got to the top of the hill, we spotted the cathedral’s famous spires in the distance, and a few of us wandered over to have a look at Lincoln’s most famous landmark.

A few interesting facts about Lincoln Cathedral:

  • For 249 years it held the title of the tallest building in the world (1300 – 1549)
  • The original Lincoln Cathedral was destroyed by an earthquake in 1185. An earthquake! In Lincoln!?
  • It costs more than 1 million pounds per year to maintain the Cathedral
  • The Cathedral played the role of Westminster Abbey in the film of The Da Vinci Code

Spires and sunshine

It really is a beautiful building, and absolutely enormous. It glowed in the sunshine, and we stepped inside to appreciate it fully.

Inside the Cathedral

The sun shining through those huge stained glass windows was really something. I couldn’t really capture it properly on my little camera, so you’ll have to take my word for it.

Lincoln Cathedral is open daily, and it is free to go inside and see the nave. For 6 pounds you can explore further and take part in one of the tours – I’d love to go back and have a proper look around.

Future home

The street outside the cathedral is lined with lovely historic homes. This one especially caught my eye – so pretty, and wouldn’t a Christmas tree glowing in the window just look picture perfect?

Lincoln’s famous Christmas market takes place 6 – 9 December this year, and although it is said to be hugely busy, it sounds like a brilliant festive day out.

Have you been to Lincoln or the Christmas market? What did you think?

Recipe: Bramley Apple & Cheddar Cheese Scones

Today’s recipe is for Bramley Apple and cheddar cheese scones. Apple in a scone? Yes, you heard right. Up until a few months ago, I hadn’t heard of or tried this combination before either, but it is now one of my favourite scone recipes.

The reason I came to make apple and cheese scones, is because I wanted to enter a few of the cooking categories at the WI baking competition which takes place at the Southwell Bramley Apple Festival.

The picturesque market town of Southwell in Nottinghamshire is the birthplace of the Bramley Apple, and ever year this festival in October celebrates apples through food, drink, performances and apple-inspired baking.

Apples at Southwell Minster

Being a member of the Nottingham City WI, I decided to enter two of the baking categories – the apple pie category, and the intriguing apple and cheese scone category.

The recipe I used is based on this one by Recharge, Refocus, Relax. I adapted it slightly – using Bramley Apple and adding more flour, baking powder, and reducing the amount of cheese.

I heart Southwell (and apples)

I tried the recipe a few times before the big day, and baked the scones fresh first thing on the morning of the festival. I was thrilled to receive first prize in the apple and cheese scone category, and wore my red rosette with pride. It was a really fun experience, and I plan on entering more baking competitions in future, as a chance to try and improve my skills and try new things.

Win!

Now, for the winning recipe. I hope you enjoy these easy and tasty scones as much as I do.

Bramley Apple and Cheddar Cheese Scones

Ingredients:

  • 230g SR flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40gm salted butter
  • 100gm very strong cheddar cheese
  • 1 Bramley apple (or half a very large Bramley apple)
  • 150ml full cream milk

Method:

  • Pre-heat your oven to 220C.
  • Roughly chop the cold butter and add it to the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Rub with your fingers until there are no large lumps left.
  • Peel and core the apple. Finely dice into small cubes.
  • Grate the cheese and stir it into the flour and butter mixture. Then stir in the apple.
  • Pour in the mil and mix to form a soft dough, being careful not to over work it. The dough will be quite wet, but this ok. Resist the urge to add extra flour.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and gently pat out until around 2 cm thick.
  • Use a class or cutting ring to cut circular scones from the dough.
  • Place the scones on a greased baking tray, with their edges just touching.
  • Brush the scones with milk, to give a golden crust.
  • Place in the hot oven. Check after 15 minutes – they may need a little longer. The scones are ready when golden brown and risen.

The beauty of these scones is they aren’t dry like cheese scones can sometimes be. In fact, you don’t even need butter with them, they are great just on their own.

Happy baking x

A day out in Belper

One of my favourite things about living in England, is how easy it is to get to most places by public transport. I can walk ten minutes from my house, hop on a train and end up just about anywhere – even London is less than two hours from our front door by train. And to an Australian, two hours to get somewhere really isn’t very far at all.

So it was I found myself on a gloriously cold and crisp sunshiney winters day, hopping on a train to a new destination, off to discover the delights of the pretty market town of Belper. The reason for my visit was to catch-up with my lovely friend Catherine who lives in Belper, which is nestled in the Amber Valley on the banks of the River Derwent, in Derbyshire.

Autumn colours at the weir in Belper

The journey to Belper from Beeston, where we live, took me just over half an hour, and when I got there I felt like I was on holiday for the afternoon. Sometimes just being somewhere new can have that effect I find, and it probably helped that the sun was shining.

Posing in Belper

The weir on the River Derwent is one of my friend’s favourite spots, and I can see why. The running water and arched bridge make for a pretty picture, and I loved the trees growing right in the middle!

On the banks of the river

We wandered around the River Gardens, which are very picturesque, and met some of the friendly local ducks and geese. The bandstand in the park is used for concerts and performances in the summer – what a gorgeous spot for it.

The River Gardens

Belper was once at the heart of the industrial revolution, thanks to its cotton mills, which were powered by water from the River Derwent. The remaining mill building now houses a small museum, but much of it is also sitting empty. It is an amazing building, hopefully they bring it back to its former glory one day soon.

The old Mill building

The East Mill

Belper’s charm is that it is small enough to be quaint and pretty, surrounded by rolling green fields, but still has enough going on to make for a delightful day out.

Historic church in Belper

We wandered along narrow cobbled streets, past tiny cottages which would have once housed the mill workers, and by a beautiful old church yard full of autumn colours.

The Ritz Cinema

In town, Catherine pointed out The Ritz, their local cinema. Belper’s high street has some great independent shops and places to eat. We wandered into a specialist liquor store, homewares store and a few lovely clothes shops, in an attempt to get our Christmas shopping started.

After plenty of walking and chatting, our thirst got the better of us. Cat took me to a lovely cafe, I Should Cocoa, which is a chocolate shop slash cafe, and full to the brim with delicious goodies. We found a sunny spot inside and ordered hot chocolates. I went for the dark hot chocolate with orange, and I have to say it might have been THE best hot chocolate I’ve ever had. So smooth and chocolately, rich but not sickeningly sweet, it came with cream on top and a demure little bowl of marshmallows. Hot chocolate heaven.

Catherine and our hot chocolates!

I spied a couple of other nice places nearby, and will definitely be returning to try them! Fresh Basil is a deli selling local and artisan produce, and has been named one of the top 50 UK delicatessens by The independent. And next door to I Should Cocoa is Strutt Street Bakery, which had plenty of tempting treats in its front window.

Belper is just 45 minutes by train from Nottingham and 15 minutes by train from Derby. Have you ever been to Belper? Let me know what you thought!

Happy travels,

Erin x