Esquires Coffee Coventry: New Christmas Menu

All the shops and restaurants have been shouting about their Christmas fare since 1st November, if not before. Halloween has been the only thing that has held it back that long. The coffee shops have their decorations garishly shouting new “limited edition” flavours of rich, sugary flavours. They also speak of the festive pastries and bakery items.

In contact walking into Esquires, which is part of the Transport Museum, is currently a sanctuary away from the garish decorations.

Now I’m no Scrooge. I am Christmas baby, I love the lights, and the parties and the food, and am very fond of the gingerbread lattes that a certain big chain coffee shop offers. But it is still November, and still 6 weeks until Xmas. I am still wearing my Halloween stuff, and enjoying the autumn leaves. It isn’t winter yet!!

So I am happy that I have been able to escape the lights of town and enjoy the chilled music and atmosphere of this cafe while the rain falls outside and commuters head home.

I was very lucky to be one of only six CoventryBloggers invited to sample the new festive menu at Esquires.

Emma, me, Gem and Isobel (part of Cov Bloggers)

Esquires describe themselves as a Global Coffee Chain with Community Spirit. “the UK’s fastest growing ethical coffee franchise.” With 52 locations across the UK and Ireland it isn’t the small independent business it makes out to be.

Staff at Esquires crafting our coffee

We were taken care of by Thom Atkins, Barista and Social media-ite. He talked us through the new drinks, and made up our choice to they. The new menu Christmas drinks are: Snowball Hot chocolate, Golden Flat white and Gingerbread latte.

I tried the Golden Flat white, as it’s a drink that I am a fan of (plus added sparkle always helps). It wasn’t a strong coffee, and it was more like a short latte. But the milk was well managed, and the milk art was sharp. It was good, but nothing special.

The Snowball hot chocolate, is a white chocolate base, enhanced with almond and s’mores syrups, coconut milk and tops with cream. I had a small taste of this, but it was so sweet, I’m sure my 5year old would love it!

Isobel Celine with her Snowball

The Gingerbread latte was the final drink that was on offer, and was much more subtle then other coffee house offerings. It was not as sweet or spicy, and without the cream, it was actually rather nice! More about flavour then sweetness, which was a nice change!

The only savoury offering is the Winter Slice. The pastry encapsulates turkey, bacon and sausage, and looked very tasty. Gemma of Just Gem Blog tried it, and thought it was nice, with a good amount of filling.

The sweet offering were: Mince pies (both normal and Gluten-free), Lanier biscuits, gingerbread men , gingerbread muffin and Chocolate orange.

I tried the Mocha Muffin and the Gluten-free Sticky Toffee Cheesecake.

The Cheese cake was delicious and creamy. The flavour was really good, and the texture was just right. The Muffin was light and fluffy, with the butter cream nestled through the centre, was much sweeter, and lacked the intensity of flavour I was hoping for, but was still tasty and satisfying.

Over all it was a vast amount of offerings, with something to please everybody. I think given the venue, within the Transport Museum this is really important. Father Christmas coming in 24th November – 23rd December, and Esquires will be packed with parent, grandparents and kids eager for sugar and caffeine. I think they will all be thrilled with what Esquires Coffee have to offer.

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Halloween at Kenilworth Castle

Fright Night

I went to Kenilworth castle during the heatwave at the beginning of the summer. I went with a friend and her little boy, and enjoyed roaming the ruins and eating delicious food in the cafe. English Heritage have done a wonderful job at bringing a quality experience to this Castle. When I heard they had Halloween events, I knew that I had to go!

During the day they are offering various activities for half term. This includes a daily costume competition, how to battle monsters and paranormal quests. LITTLE HORRORS HIDE AND SHRIEK runs from Sat 27 Oct – Sun 4 Nov between 11am-4pm perfect to keep the little ones occupied.

From 6pm onwards Fright Night begins. For the first hour and a half it is aimed around the kids. It’s still partly light, and the performers aim their stories at the little ones. There is fairy stories told in new and darker ways, as well as a few ghost stories thrown in for good measure. The lighting added to the Eerie atmosphere, and the actors were really good at pitching at the right level.

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After watching the five stories, the hour and a half flew by. The Bell rings, signifying the Fright night kicking up a gear. But before we went back to revisit the stories, we decided to warm up in the cafe.

I enjoyed a wonderful chocolate covered marshmallow, and a few samples of gin with the wonderful and knowledgeable chap at the pop-up gift shop. (I highly recommend the Chase Sloe and Malberry Gin).

As I have said oerviously, the cafe serves wonderful food, and was beautifully decorated, and the had even put in a Black sparkly “Halloween tree”!

The atmosphere in Kenilworth Castle definitely intensified with the descended darkness. There were loads of people in the grounds at this point, and groups of teens seemed to be in high spirits.

It was interesting to see that the stories didn’t change in the second part of the night. The high spirits of the crowd, a few extra fairy lights, jump-scares and the darkness really added all that was needed to change the mood from a family friendly event to a more intense and scary Fright Night.

I don’t want to spoil the stories or the scares by telling you much about them, but I will recommend giving yourself plenty of time to wander, do the stories and enjoy the atmosphere. It was a wonderful experience, and exactly the event I wanted to do this Halloween!

Halloween at Warwick Castle

The Haunted Castle

Yesterday I went to Warwick castle for the first time. I am a big fan of Halloween, and history, so thought it was a great place to combine the two!

Warwick Castle is a place with over 1100 years of history. it is a place of theatre, wonder and jaw dropping history. There are birds of prey, actors in costumes, a maze, turrets and towers, and suits of armer. All this should lead to a wonderful and spooky Halloween experience.

Halloween Special events;

On offer as part of the ticket price, was “The Haunted Hollows”, a trail through fabric, with plastic skeletons and Gargoyles. The Ghouls in costume were great, and The kids were thrilled with the displays. The use of lights and fog machines added to the atmosphere, but I felt that the bright sunshine did too much to distort the atmosphere. I was definitely not the target audience, and my five year old would have loved it!

I did love the hidden puns, and the graves at the end had some awesome names.

In the centre of the Castle, in the courtyard, is the “Dead Centre Stage“, which is where shows are put on several times a day. these include “Wizard in training.” The shows were fun, and interactive, and certainly a crowd pleaser!

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Food/Drinks

We had a wonder towards the nights village, and enjoyed the beautiful grounds of the castle. The autumn colours were stunning. And we tripped across the tea house and peacock garden. This was a wonderful oasis. There was a topiary garden, a stone fountain, peacocks wondering around and tables outside the tea house beckoned to up. We ordered inside, and then grabbed a table, and enjoyed our Cream Tea (£6 each) in the sunshine, over looking the garden. The babble Of happy people, the patter of the fountain, and the occasional peacock call was wonderful. I would highly recommend the setting, and felt it was a highlight of the day!

But the food stands and cafe looked more like the standard festival/ attraction food/ price categories.

Standard events that added to the experience

There was also a birds of prey flying show, and we enjoyed both that, and finding where they were kept, and watching two of the eagles have baths in the sunshine. The person who was looking after the birds was obviously very passionate about the birds, and they were very well cared for.

If you fancy a romantic Date…

The afternoon tea in the tea house, and the taurets trail are a fab combo for a romanitic date! Or maybe if money is no issue, you can even book one of the in castle suites to treat that special person!

If you are heading for a Family day...The historic tours that take place regularly look fantastic, and the witch’s tower show sounded fun (although I wasn’t allowed in without a child, so I didn’t get to see it) and generally the birds are all fantastic for the kids. The “haunted hollows” is fab for under 10s. The actors around will make it for the little ones!

Highlights

I actually might be getting old, as I really enjoyed wondering the grounds, seeing the birds, and eating scones!

If I went back I’d want to…

Queue up and see some one the special events. Some would cost more, some are timed tickets, some are simply waiting for the space. I am not sure I agree that they charge so much for entry tickets, then charge again for things inside the grounds, but without trying them I can’t really comment to the fact that the might or might not be worth the extra cash! (Note; most additional charges can be paid online when purchasing tickets, and will save you money in advance)

If you want to do something Halloween based, I’d recommend going in the evening, unless you have young kids! The Haunted castle is on until the 4th November!

Warwick Castle

The Haunted Castle

Warwick Castle launches their annual Haunted castle event this Halloween, and it is running from 20th October through to the 4th November.

Book here

There are multiple shows and events happening around the castle both for families and for the more mature Halloween lovers. (Some events incur an additional charge.)Included in the admission fee (please make sure you book in advance, as you can make a substantial saving on line (book here)

Dead Centre Stage

Join a host of bizarre characters throughout the day for fun, games and spooktacular shows at the Dead Centre Stage.

The Haunted Hollows

Haunted Hollows

Join a spooky Halloween trail and journey through the enchanted Hollows where you’re sure to encounter creepy characters at every turn.

 Horrible Histories MazeHorrible Histories Maze

GET LOST in the UK’s only Horrible Histories Maze.

The Mighty Trebuchet

Witness the largest working seige machine IN THE WORLD launch a projectile over 150m! Firing twice daily.

Flight of The Eagles

A spectacular birds of prey display showcases these beautiful and powerful creatures including Vultures and Eagles flying from the Castle ramparts.

Additional events have also been create within the castle and grounds for extra (please see website for pricing).

Escape RoomEscape Room

Battle the clock to set the Knight free!

You and your family will have to work together in this 30 minute interactive quest to uncover a series of clues and puzzles to find the key to freedom.

SéanceThe Haunted Castle

This Halloween, for an intense sonic performance that will test just how susceptible you are to a visit from the other side.

Castle Dungeon

Witness some of the darkest, bloodiest and most frightening times in the Castle’s history.

Are you brave enough to enter?

(Recommended for over 10s only.

I’m sure there will be plenty of surprises around the castle. I’m really excited as I’ve never been to Warwick castle before, and the idea of a spooky castle really floats my boat! Come back on Monday, and I will tell you all about my visit, and what is worth going to! A big thank you to Warwick Castle for giving me a couple of free tickets so I can check this out!
Disclaimer; This info and photos are from the Warwick Castle website, and is for reference only. I will be writing a proper review after I have visited on Sunday 21st October 2018.

Beedle the Bard; Illustrated

Previously Waterstones Children’s Laureate Chris Riddell has released a brand new version of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, by J K Rowling.

Now if you didn’t know, The Tales of Beedle the Bard is part of the Harry Potter universe, and referenced in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. It is the equivalent to the Grimm Fairytales for us.

Originally published in 2008, it has had a few incarnations, including the “moonstone editions” which were handwritten and illustrated by Rowling herself. JK Rowling is well know to be a sketcher, as she had done many original sketches, including one of hogwarts and the grounds so that it was easy for her to visualise while writing. This sketch is now on display at WB Studios, and is referenced in The History Of Magic.

I must admit, although I know a couple of the stories, I haven’t actually read this book. And as a massive Potterhead, I’m ashamed that it has taken till now to really discover this book. It is not just about the stories, the foot notes by Albus Dumbledore are hilarious! I am definitely going to read this book cover to cover with my daughter (and laugh at the illustration jokes that Chris Riddell has snook in. (Such as the Hag with her bouncing bulbs) which I’m sure my daughter would miss the humour in!

I mean this is why Harry Potter has as many adult fans as Children. It has so many facets, lays and subtext. The differential was I’ve read the books, the different meanings, and poignant money’s I find. JK Rowling was a struggling single mum, struggling with mental health and financial ruin. The way the stories have catapulted her to success shows me that I am not alone. She writes about a Harry, who is in an awful family situation, who is catapulted into the wizarding world, into fame and fortune. She talks about Ron, who is hidden in a family of brothers, and always feels he needs to prove himself. She talks about a Herminone, a not so attractive girl who doesn’t fit in as she is so intelligent that she intimidated and irritates peers. She sets up the golden trio as underdogs, so we can all relate, and see bits of ourselves within their situations. If they had come in like James Potter and Lily Evans (Harry’s parents who we see in flashbacks at various points in the stories) as attractive, successful and popular members of the school, it would not have had as much universal appriciation that it has received.

My Potter obsession began in 2000 when my mum insisted I read the first three books when I was ill. The Forth has just landed, and she thought I might enjoy the story. I have always loved stories, and my favourite parts of life art arts, theatre and literature (with a smattering of history). The Harry Potter universe really downs capture all area, and has even created a sport that I could get behind (I even have a tattoo of a snitch on my foot to honour the fact!)

As a dyslexic, I have always found my intelligence out strips my reading ability, but with the Harry Potter books, I never failed to be transported into fantasy world that JK creates. Now 18years on, I am sharing my love of the books with my 5 Year old, who is just as obsessed as I am!

Anyway, this book remains me of the illustrations on the DiscWorld books by Terry Pritchett, which JK Rowling took some of her inspiration from. The covers were illustrated by Josh Kirby. Also, the cover art of Harry Potter and Deathly Hallows by Jason Cockcroft.

All profits of this book goes to Rowling’s own charity, Lumos. The vision of Lumos a world in which all children have the opportunity to grow up and thrive in a safe and caring family or, where there is no alternative, in specialist placements that meet all their needs, respect their rights and ensure they can fulfill their potential. A worthy charity.

Halloween jewellery stash!

As you may have guessed this is my favourite time of the year. Both autumn and Halloween is fun, full of colour, and I love to celebrate.

Erstwilder Lucky dip – when you don’t know what you are getting, but the most amazing Lucky black cat landed!
Curiology

I haven’t written about my love of jewellery on here before, but in the last year, the joys of accessories has become a big part of my life. I love acrylic and resin jewellery such as brooches, earrings and pendants. I also love enamel pin badges. With jewellery I find my theory is the more the better! I love to cover my denim jacket with badges, wear mismatch earrings, a brooch and a necklace all at once! I think it’s fun, and strangely seems to be in-style at the moment!

Irregular choice earrings and Primark pins

Cat and Fox from Pin&Tonic, Luna Lovegood from Katie Abey, and flying key from Primark

Skeleton Medmaid from Curiology’s Summer sale

Curiology Magpie necklace in Matte Black, and BatCat Brooch from last years Erstwilder Halloween Collection.

This shows a few of my bits I’ve got recently, but I have a few things on my wish list!

Local company Frilly Industies
Cherry Loco
Erstwilder
Brooch the Subject – Harry Potter Egg

But for now I have to stop spending money and enjoy the wonderful things I already have!

Albany Theatre

The Albany theatre is a revamped proscenium arch theatre just outside the centre of Coventry.

The building that is the Albany Theatre, built as a lecture theatre, called the Great Hall, sat at the heart of Coventry Technical College, which opened in 1935.

Coventry was a world centre for engineering in the late 19th century. As technology became more complex, the construction of machine tools became more specialised and the need for a better-trained workforce grew.

In 1997, the space was being threatened as the college planned to turn the space into a computer lab, the theatre manager, Keith Wood fought hard to retain the theatre status for the space. The arts council granted a lottery grant for “Refurbishment of Community Theatre”. Because of this, the council awarded a clause in the contract of sale of the site, that the space had to remain a theatre. Despite the sale in 2008, it took till 2012 for anything happen to the space.

Finally a new paid Theatre manager was employed in 2015, but was later replaced by a team operating under an executive directors. Now the theatre is secure within the building for the next 25years! For more about the the history of the space and building, please visit the Theatre’s website.

Offering a wide selection of types of arts, theatre and music, it is a great space to visit. Check out the schedule of events on their website.