The Olde Bell inn Hurley: Review

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So we just spent the most amazing weekend at Tazmyns favourite place ever, which is The Olde Bell in Hurley. This was actually a Christmas gift from me to Tazmyn, it’s what she really wanted so I was super happy I could surprise her with this. We have been lucky enough to stay at this hotel four times in total and each stay has never let us down. I thought I’d combine this blog post with a review of the hotel for you guys as there’s really so much to this luxurious 5 star hotel and we all know I love to give credit where it’s due, so here goes!

History of The Olde Bell Inn

Probably known for being the most well known building in Hurley, The Olde Bell first opened its doors in 1135 AD, as a guest house for visitors to the near by Benedictine Priory.

Some notable guests have included Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, Cary Grant & Errol Flynn.

The Olde Bell has had many owners during its long history, but despite its many changes of ownership, it still keeps to the traditions of St. Benedict, that true hospitality be provided to travellers and strangers.

My personal review & experience

Okay so we’re locals to this beautiful hotel, with it being just a 10-15 minute drive from where we live. My mum and dad actually had their engagement party here in 1987, and more recently Tazmyn and I attended the wedding fayre here just a couple of years ago when we first got engaged. The Olde Bell is the most fantastic wedding location, if you’re looking for a barn style wedding with the shabby chic feel. The wedding fayres take place regularly throughout the year too and are definitely worth paying a visit to, all information about that can be found on their website which I’ll link you to at the end of this post.

Our first stay here was in 2016, the weekend of our engagement. Tazmyn surprised me with a luxury night away & she just so happened to have chose here! Situated right in between the beautiful town of Marlow and the picturesque Henley-On-Thames, is this beautiful, historic inn that bodes so much character. Since our first stay back in 2016, we have been lucky enough to return a further 3 times and each stay has topped the last.

This stay however, was of course for Tazmyns Christmas present so we were both really excited. We arrived at around 1pm and although check in isn’t officially until 2pm, the member of staff at reception was super helpful and offered to take our luggage for us, whilst we waited in the bar area until our room was ready. During this time we decided to have lunch in the hotels restaurant which was really busy with lots of guests but we still were given a really lovely table very quickly.

We both thought the menu choice was really lovely, and to some, the price of some of the dishes may seem a little expensive, however The Olde Bell does accept tastecard, should you have one and want to use it, which of course would then bring down the price of your meal quite considerably by 50% so well worth using if you do have one.

So for lunch, I chose the roast beef dinner, of course I did.. what else would I order?! Tazmyn went for the fish and chips. Both meals were served really quickly which was a bonus as the restaurant was busy so we did anticipate having to wait a while, but fortunately we didn’t. I also asked for extra gravy with my roast dinner too which was no problem for the staff at all, & this was accommodated really quickly too.

I’m going to be honest, because aren’t I always? Whilst I think the presentation for Tazmyns fish and chips is lovely, I do feel like the roast dinner could have looked a little better. For £18 I would expect it to be presented nicer, perhaps on a different plate, I’m not sure how exactly but the meal itself looks like something I could cook at home and for the price, and coming away for the weekend to a luxurious hotel, I would want that theme to be spread across into the restaurant also but maybe that’s just me. Presentation aside, my roast beef was gorgeous and tasted perfect. The gravy was really rich in flavour and I couldn’t fault the meal at all what’s so ever.

For pudding, Tazmyn ordered the sticky toffee pudding which was served with custard and ice cream! And for me, the apple crumble tart, served with calvados cream (life changer I’m telling you!) best dessert I’ve had in a really long time!

After lunch, we went back to reception to check in to our room and we were really lucky to have been given a little upgrade! Our room was 11, which is located in the main building, so not far to walk at all. The staff couldn’t be more helpful, they offered to take our bags and literally couldn’t do enough for us.

Our room was stunning. Equipped with a super king size bed, (always a winner) a walk in shower which is definitely big enough for two people (tried and tested!) plenty of wardrobe space, a vanity table with mirror, tea and coffee making facilities, both still and sparkling bottled water, a TV, and bedside tables. Inside the room is also a welcome pack from the hotel, with all the relevant information you should need regarding the hotel and the local area which I think is really lovely for those who are visiting and not familiar with what there is to do locally.

Breakfast is always a bit hit & miss with this hotel which is a little annoying. During the busier months of the year, the hotel offers a hot buffet of both continental and cooked breakfast, and during the quieter periods, breakfast can be cooked to order from the breakfast menu provided, in addition to the continental style buffet that is beautifully set up for you to help yourselves to at your own leisure.

For this particular stay, we were pleasantly surprised to find breakfast menu’s at our table in the restaurant as well as the continental buffet set up. We much prefer ordering from the menu, as we feel the hot food is a lot more fresh that way.

We both ordered a cooked breakfast which came relatively quick so we were happy about that, however the sausages were not edible due to the taste of them being incredibly cheap and we didn’t like the egg either, as it tasted like it had been microwaved. Such a shame because we have experienced first class breakfast at this hotel before so it’s just really unfortunate that we were able to find fault on this occasion. The staff did offer us alternatives but we chose to stick to the continental buffet and fill up on toast and cereals and fresh fruit instead which was lovely.

Tea & coffee is also provided as much as you like, to your table so you don’t need to get this yourself.

If you’d like to check out The Olde Bell, you can find their website here.

Give them a follow on Instagram too for all the latest updates of what’s going on.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post/review. & I hope my darling wife has enjoyed this stay as part of her Christmas present! 💗

Sending love,

Mrs Chalke x

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Weekend plans

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I’m so sorry I haven’t blogged in a couple of days, life’s got in the way and we have been so busy I’ve barely had time to pick up my phone. I guess this post is just a little update really, we are currently packing as we are going away for the weekend this weekend. It’s my Christmas present to Tazmyn so she’s really excited, as am I. Expect lots of photos. Foodie pics and hotel related posts too! I’ll probably do a full blog post on the actual hotel once we are back Monday lunchtime because the hotel we are going to is actually the oldest inn in the country. We have been lucky enough to have stayed there 3 times already and this will be our fourth. It’s Tazmyns most favourite place to stay & it’s what she wanted for Christmas so I’m super happy I could surprise her with this. We absolutely love our weekends away and after having the most busiest of weeks, this is just what we need.

I think this morning we’re going to have a mooch around Waitrose and pick up some snacks (something we always do before we go away anywhere!) and then maybe get some lunch somewhere too!

What are your weekend plans? Have you had snow? We haven’t but it’s definitely been freezing.

Sending love,

Sinéad Anna Chalke x

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10 year Challenge.

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Everyone’s been doing this 10 year challenge thing on Instagram lately so I thought I’d get involved. I actually really struggled to find any pictures of me at all when I was 18 years old. So instead I found one on my 19th birthday. I’m almost 29 now.

Who else thinks I look way younger now?! 🤣

Have you done the 10 year challenge? How different do you look between then and now?

As always, love

Mrs Chalke xx

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My favourite Girls names

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I get asked this question all the time on Instagram whenever I post a questions tab. What are my favourite girls and boys names. I’ve also seen this type of post circling around amongst other lifestyle bloggers so I thought I’d comprise a quick list of my favourite girls names.
These aren’t necessarily names for babies, they can be for pets, just names in general.
I hope you enjoy this post!
🌸 Lilly – Okay so this is my absolute favourite girls name in the entire world. I’d spell it with two L’s instead of one because I think it looks prettier. Not sure I want babies but if we ever did have babies, and had a girl, she’d be called Lilly. I’ve loved this name since I was about 16.
🌸 Sienna – my second fave. Very Italian (although the Italian spelling is Siena and I definitely prefer it with two N’s) I love this name.
🌸 Caitlyn – Kinda got put off this name since Caitlyn Jenner has rose to fame but I love the spelling, I love the sound and I think it’s super pretty.
🌸 Lyla – I would never actually use this name because it’s too similar to Lilly but I love it and it’s quite unusual too.
🌸 Scarlette – Again, just super pretty.
🌸 Brooke – Very American sounding so probably would never use it but I still love it.
🌸 Mabel – When Tazmyn and I get another kitten and if she’s female, we will definitely call her Mabel. It goes with Gracie really well and it’s super traditional and pretty.
🌸 Harlow – Would never use, but love.
🌸 Daisy – Always loved this. I feel like it needs to be higher up the list to be honest. Cute for a pet!
🌸 Grace/Gracie – Can’t actually not include my cats name. I called her Gracie because it suits her and it’s super girly and feminine. I also love Grace too but Gracie is cuter for a pet.
– so that’s currently it. Told you this post was short and sweet (just as well as I only had a couple of minutes spare to post it!)
What are your favourite girls names? I’ll post my favourite boys names later on today.
Lots of love,
Sinéad xxx

Hoisin beef stir fry.

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Tonight in the Chalke household/kitchen was hoisin beef stir fry, that I found in the latest edition of Bella magazine if you’re in the UK. This entire meal is 388 calories (without rice) and is packed full of flavour! If you didn’t want to do rice on the side like we did, you could go for noodles or toasted pita breads, both would probably work just as well.

This recipe was super easy to follow, and I’m all about that pak choi life right now. If you haven’t tried it, you need to, it’s delicious!

What you’ll need to make this:

🌸 1 tsp sesame oil

🌸 1 fresh red chilli finely chopped (we used 2)

🌸 2 cloves of garlic crushed

🌸 1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger

🌸 80ml Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry

🌸 80ml soy sauce

🌸 800g beef strips (we used frying steak)

🌸 100g Fresh shiitake mushrooms

🌸 500g pak choi halved

🌸 4 spring onions

🌸 60ml Water

🌸 60ml hoisin sauce

🌸 1 fresh long red chilli sliced thinly

Method:

1. Combine the sesame oil, chilli, garlic, ginger, half the cooking wine and half the soy sauce in a large mixing bowl. Add the beef and stir to coat in the marinade. Cover and chill for 3 hours (ideally overnight!)

2. Heat half the peanut oil in a wok over high heat. Stir fry the undrained beef mixture, in batches until the beef is browned all over & just cooked through. Remove from wok.

3. Heat the remaining peanut oil in the wok and stir fry the mushrooms, pak choi, onion and the water. Cover and cook for 5 mins or until the vegetables are tender.

4. Return the beef to the wok with the hoisin, pak choi and remaining soy sauce. Stir fry until the pak choi leaves are just wilted. Serve the stir fry with the thinly sliced chilli. (We added sesame seeds to ours too!)

This takes around 35-40 minutes in total to cook and serves 4 people, although Tazmyn and I easily finished it off.

Out of 5 stars: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

I hope you’ve enjoyed this recipe! Tomorrow is gnocchi so look out for that!

Lots of love,

Mrs Chalke xx

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Channelling my inner Julia Child’s (well, Tom Kerridge!)

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Have you ever watched the film Julie & Julia staring Meryl Streep? It’s basically about how a newly married New York woman embarks on a journey where by she vows to master all 524 recipes from Julia Child’s French cookbook over the space of a year. She sets up a blog and documents each and every recipe and how it turned out. I’ve always kinda liked that idea, and each time I’m drafting a blog post, I always have her in the back of my mind. I’ve struggled with consistency all of my life, so the fact my blog has been going for over 5 months now, even at the times I least want to write, is a huge achievement for me. So that brings me to the here & now, to add to my new found passion of documenting all things “foodie” online, I’ve decided to cook as many recipes from this book as possible. Why Tom Kerridge? Because he’s simply my favourite chef of the moment (Nigella is too naughty!) in this book, which is now just £6 in WH Smith’s, there’s a whole variety of different recipes, all low calorie but hearty too. I’m so excited to share all of this with you and hopefully shift that two stone before Turkey in June! Wish me luck!

Love, as always

Sinéad xxx

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Goodbye 2018

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So I’m writing this post as we are packing to go away for the night tonight and see the new year in, in style! A little tradition of ours now I guess, we always book a hotel somewhere and a table at a restaurant and spend New Year’s Eve somewhere new & start as we mean to go on!

This year has been a crazy ride. So much has happened and as a couple, we have grown so much.

In June we went to Turkey on holiday with my mum! It was all of our first time to Turkey and we fell in love with it. Our hotel was amaaaaazing, it was without a doubt the hottest country we have ever been to, we have booked and paid to go back next June for two weeks this time, we loved it that much!

In July we got married without anybody knowing! Yep that’s right, just us two doing it exactly how we wanted to. I hired the best make up artist I could find to do my hair and make up, picked out a cheap dress online that was lacy and floaty, I even got my mum to do my bouquet without actually knowing they were for her daughter! We managed to get an AMAZING photographer who charged us very little and gave us so much of his time, and we asked two friends to be our witnesses! It was perfect. We wrote our own vows to each other, which will always be my most favourite part about our wedding day, not many couples can say they did that. In the evening we ate Italian food. Honestly our day couldn’t have been anymore perfect. We only announced it to everyone including our family & friends, 24 hours later when we were on the motorway on our way to Brighton for a few days for our “minimoon” of course, we got some mixed reactions from people, but on the whole, the majority of people we love and care about were all SO happy for us and nothing but supportive!

I launched this blog in August, a couple of weeks after we got married. It really started out as a diary, somewhere where I was hoping to document the first year of married life. Within 3 weeks I received my first paid collaboration, which then went on to different companies and brands emailing me regularly with different offers and sponsorships. In the 5 months this blog has been going, our lives have changed massively. I am now a brand ambassador for several different companies, I am paid by two major ones and I’m so passionate about everything I have been lucky enough to promote or review on here for my readers. I can’t wait to see where 2019 takes us.

Our honeymoon was in September, we went to Barcelona! Fell in love with the beaches and the history behind it, the weather was kind to us too!

We celebrated yet another Christmas together! This year was the first Christmas where our baby cousin Rory was in England to really celebrate it and enjoy it with us. First of many! It was all new and exciting to him and we made so many amazing memories as a family that we will cherish forever. Rory and Tazmyn are literally best mates. The way he looks at her 🥰

I am so grateful for everything 2018 has given me. Some doors have been closed, but new ones have opened, and for that, I am so blessed. We have said goodbye to people that no longer serve us any purpose, but we have also created memories with the people that mean most to us. Memories that will last a lifetime. We have visited new places, we have started new traditions, we have tried new things, learnt more about ourselves and truly grown as people. I am now a wife! How crazy is that? I wasn’t one of these girls who spent their lives dreaming of my wedding day, it was never something I had mentally planned in my head, but when I met Tazmyn I knew she was my forever, my home. I absolutely love being Mrs Chalke I don’t think I’m ever going to get bored of hearing that or seeing it on letters we get in the post! I am truly content. Everything feels like it was always supposed to.

So from my wife & I, we would like to take this opportunity to wish all of you a very happy and healthy 2019! We hope it is filled with love, laughter and even more memories than this year. Remember to love more, to laugh more, and to take all the pictures in the world because moments are just that, moments, but photographs last a lifetime! ✨

& to my readers, the ones who lurk, never comment, but read every single post without fail, the loyal ones who always show love, the bloggers who have truly inspired me to write this year (Bethany Rose you know you’re at the top of my list, always!) those of you who have now become friends, and helped me whenever I’ve had something I’m not sure of.. Thank You! This has been the most amazing, life changing year for me, & I am so lucky to have been able to share it with all of you. Stay around for the ride, because 2019, we’re going bigger and better! 💗

With love, always

Mrs & Mrs Chalke x

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