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Restaurant Review: The Hispanist

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One of the last places I ate out before the pandemic began was the Hispanist in Hull city centre's Paragon Arcade, a small but perfectly formed restaurant with a nice view over the renovated arcade. In early 2020 me and my dining companions tucked into a casual post-work dinner of tacos and croquettes, having a couple of cocktails too, little did we know what was around the corner. Now the restaurant is back fully open, I couldn't wait to go back and try some more food, taking my boyfriend for lunch last weekend. The menu has a lot of new and improved dishes since my last visit, too. Me excited about tapas! Taking refuge from an unseasonably cold and rainy May day, we slipped upstairs into a cosy table for two. The decor of the restaurant is quite hip and modern but welcoming too - making the most of the original features of the building, with Spanish and South American inspired artwork.  We were given a drinks menu to look at first, and slightly worse for wear from the night b

You have to break an egg to make a cake

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Anyone would think it would be the seagulls stomping across the roof that would wake Zoe every day, but it’s hard to hear their drumming footsteps when there’s a baby bawling for blue murder. Zoe stared at the digital display and willed it say something different, but no matter how many times she blinked it was still 3.14am. Less than two hours before she had to get up for work. “Hey, hey,” Zoe whispered to her daughter Sophia, just ten months old and crabby, while trying also not to wake her gran in the next room. “Ssssshhhhh” she cooed, cradling her in her arms while Sophia’s hot tears soaked into her chest. By 6am, on just a few hours’ sleep and with a familiar guilty feeling sinking deep down into the pit of her stomach, Zoe was on her way to work. Cycling down from her gran’s estate at the top of the East Cliff, Zoe took in some spectacular views of Whitby as she made her way work.  This morning was particularly picturesque.  A low autumn fog hung over the harbour, enveloping the

A fairytale in real time

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Alex Gaston had swiped through tinder for 25 minutes before deciding to just watch some porn instead. He couldn’t be bothered to start up another conversation - one which would undoubtedly lead nowhere - and decided a quick hit of dopamine was much easier to find elsewhere. Feeling grubby but sleepy, Alex set his alarm for 7.30am and tried not to think about work. 7.30am - alarm. 7.40am - shower. 7.50am - get dressed. 8am - walk to the tube station. 8.07am - get on the train. 8.35am - breakfast from Pret. 8.50am - sit down at the desk. This routine had been firmly established by Alex after moving to London six years previous. He’d got a fairly decent but boring job in IT security at a bank, but he was surrounded by quiet, nerdy blokes and despite having a laugh most days, he hadn’t made any good friends.  At home, his life was almost all online and in general Alex avidly avoided anything that involved human contact, ordering takeaways online and always using the supermarket self-servic

I went baking with a legend... here's how it went

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Everyone who knows me knows I love the Great British Bake Off. I started watching at series three on the BBC, back when it wasn't all that popular. It's definitely huge these days! I'd love to go on the show, but I don't think I really bake enough to get good enough at it. I mean I used to bake for fun to take to work and for family and friends, but the pandemic has even stopped that! I seem to like the eating better than the making these days! However, I'd seen the Bake with a Legend classes advertised on instagram and I really wanted to give one a go, and luckily my boyfriend bought me a voucher for a class for my Valentine's Day gift. The premise is, you sign up for a class (£35 for one baker, £50 a household) and one of the previous Great British Bake Off contestants teaches you how to bake goodies over Zoom. I signed up for what sounded to me like quite a challenging class, choosing salted caramel and chocolate eclairs with Jane Beedle from series 7, who

My favourite Hull bakeries and sweet treat purveyors

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I'm going to preface this blog by saying - stay home, protect the NHS, save lives! But if you have any of these bakeries locally and it's in the rules to be able to do so, mask up, socially distance, sanitise your hands, and go for it! It'll be as safe as a supermarket is. (Also - delivery is available for many of them). During the first lockdown, my social media seemed permeated by baked goods - mainly of the home-baked variety. It seemed like there was some kind of national zeitgeist that people wanted to put their boredom and frustration into edible goodies - namely sourdough and banana bread. More recently, there seems to be a proliferation of people turning their hand to monetising their hobby - at the moment my instagram seems to be full of hobby bakers delivering brownies or cheesecakes from their homes. And I guess if it makes some extra money and brings people joy, who's to complain? We're a nation living through the worst of times - of late at least - with

Hull Love Stories

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Anya and Louise (2009) Anya had no idea quite how the date had gone, while Louise thought it had gone surprisingly well despite the language barrier.  Overall, spending a Friday night in the pub had been fun for Anya. Though in Poland, people didn’t tend to go for chips at the end of the night, but Louise was insistent.  “We already had a meal!” Slurred Anya, beginning to feel those doubles as she walked down Whitefriargate, before being blinded by the white lights of the chip shop counter. Louise struggled to get her order out, and the pair ended up giggling like madwomen in the corner. “Shut up!” Insisted Louise, poking Anya in the ribs as she imitated her - “Two cones of plips, cheese!” Outside, the pair found a vacant bench and Louise excitedly waited for Anya to try her delicacy. A cone of chips with chip spice sprinkled on, topped with scraps. “Go on!” Coaxed Louise, eyes excitedly and drunkenly wide, as Anya lifted a piping-hot chip to her mouth, nibbling it at first before sh

On Small Miracles (and finding love in a pandemic)

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It’s hard to decide to write an essay on love. To put down strong emotion to paper. Because you don’t want to look like an idiot if you’ve got it all wrong and end up with egg on your face. But if no one had decided to write about their current love, how many sonnets and songs and stories would we be without today? *** Sometimes you find yourself in a strange place. You’re suddenly alone, you didn’t mean for your life to end up where it is, you have to build a process of letting go of those former hopes and decide to build a future for yourself. But when you’re in the middle of this transformative process, and a pandemic suddenly halts all your plans for travel, growth, new companions and unplanned experiences, and you are suddenly planted where you are, it can feel as if you’re suddenly stuck. And yet, life has a way of still sending us in new and divergent paths. Mine came in the most unexpected of places… a rather unromantic place called twitter.com. I’m still not really sure why I

Self care when you're by yourself - lockdown personal safety edition

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In November I wrote about learning how to balance my new independent lifestyle, where I made the most of living alone, with my need for some more consistency and healthy habits. Back in November I had a complete different set of problems to now though! I remember going out, having too many drinks and spending too much time hungover and not always being safe with getting home etc and realising I needed to slow things down and care for myself. Now, even with all the bars and pubs shut and a whole new quiet lifestyle, it's even more important to care for yourself. If living away from your friends and family made if difficult for people to know how you're really doing before, having a quarantine and travel ban and strict rules about where you can go and who you can see makes it so much harder. In November I wrote : "I think people tend to think that if you're not telling them you're struggling with something then you are fine, so maybe don't always wa

St Ninians Walk - a short story

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Those of you who have been stuck in lockdown and traipsing round every corner of the Avenues like me, will no doubt have come across St Ninians Walk. Running between Ella Street and Victoria Avenue, down the side of the railway line, next to the old Jewish cemetery, they are a group of individually designed houses that stick out like a sore thumb in comparison to the Victorian and Edwardian redbricks in the surrounding area. I let my bored lockdown imagination run away with me about the potential occupants of these ultra-modern houses, and wondered whether Hull might have its own community of vampires. Enjoy! St Ninians Walk  It had been a bit of a task trying to get the council to approve the planning permission. They kept asking all kinds of questions, like, ‘Why do you want your houses built next to a cemetery?’ And ‘Why do the metal fences need to be so high and the windows blacked out?’ But this was the perfect location. We didn’t want to live anywhere accessible