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Organic September with - Wyld Wood Cider

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited down to Westons Cider Mill in Gloucester, to see the harvest process within the beautiful organic orchards of Wyld Wood Organic Cider. Now if you follow me on Instagram (come say hey @littlemisswinney) then you'll know this cider is one of my faves, so seeing exactly how it's made and the ethos behind it was really interesting. I went along with a group of other bloggers and creatives to celebrate Organic September and to talk not only to the Wyld Wood team but also to the Soil Association on what 'organic' really means.
So in a nutshell, organic farming is not only better for the land and for nature in general, it also has huge health benefits for us too. There are so many reasons to choose organic but here are a few I feel really stand out -
1. Fewer pesticides
Almost 300 pesticides can routinely be used in non-organic farming. Many of these remain in the food we eat, despite washing and cooking.

2. No artificial colours & preservatives
Hydrogenerated fats and controversial artificial food colours & preservatives are all banned by organic standards.

3. Always free range
Organic means the very highest animal welfare standards.

4. No routine use of antibiotics
Organic means happier, healthier animals raised without the need for routine use of antibiotics

5. No GM ingredients
GM ingredients and crops are banned under Soil Association standards.

"Sustainability remains hugely important to us. We consider the impact on the environment in all that we do." - Wyld Wood Organic Cider
The cider itself is a traditional cider, produced from fruit sourced in Herefordshire's organic orchards. Fully matured in old oak vats for maximum taste. On our tour of the mill we visited each of the vats, each of which had a name. From June to Arsenal each vat was a true member of the cider mill family. 
Wyld Wood has a truly appley, fresh and full bodied taste with a ripe aroma. I think that's why it's such a favourite of mine. It's what I call 'proper cider' - the flavour is strong and it almost transports you to a beer garden outside in the Autumn sunshine as soon as you take your first sip. It's a true celebration of nature in a glass and that is all down to the beautiful orchards and cider mill itself.
I really did have such a great day discovering what goes into making the cider, even meeting some 3rd generation cider makers, family members of the mills founder still working at the mill today. The orchard is a haven for wild life and the mill a home of love and tradition. Each and every person is proud of the beautiful cider they create. So next time you fancy a true taste of British countryside, order yourself a bottle of Wyld Wood - trust me, it's top notch...cheers!

K x
*This post was kindly sponsored by Wyld Wood Organic Cider*

The British Takeaway Awards with Just Eat

Hi gang, so today's post is gonna be a drool fest, you've been warned! 
The majority of you will know by now that I love my food, however if truth be told I am not keen on the cooking side of things. That's why I love a good take away! Now obviously I don't have them every day but there's something about clicking my way onto Just Eat and ordering my favourite local take out that makes me smile. 
I remember when I was little and getting treated every so often to the local Chinese (shout out to Golden Bridge in Humberston - still the best sweet and sour chicken I've ever tasted!) I loved those family nights, all ordering our favourite dishes and sitting down together to eat. I guess it's that memory which still gets me excited whenever I order. Our local takeaways really are the beating hearts of our high streets and what better way to celebrate them than the annual British Takeaway Awards - the BTA's.
The BTA's are a celebration of the nation's best independent restaurants, chefs and delivery drivers. The voting happens across the UK and culminates in a celeb-studded event at The Savoy!
So how does it work? well it all starts with the nation (that's you guys) voting for their local hero's. From incredible Indian to perfect pizza, every town and every person has their favourite so it's your turn to share the love and nominate!
For the third year running Just Eat is proudly sponsoring the event and rewarding the dedication shown by local takeaway owners across multiple cuisines, recognising their contribution to the economy on a truly national scale.
So I guess it's my turn, my vote this year goes to the amazing... Eat First!
I first discovered Eat First when scrolling through Just Eat, I fancied a takeaway however I wanted something different to my usual pizza order. I wanted something slightly healthier so I could eat takeaway guilt free and that's when I stumbled upon Eat First is an online restaurant delivering chef-made fresh meals in London. Cooked by a team or talented chefs from top restaurants headed up by head chef Benn Hodges. I first ordered for Eat First months and months ago and since then have become quite the 'local.' I love it so much and it's the little details and personal touches that have made them my vote for this years BTA's.
I'd say I've tried the majority of their menu however they are always updating their dishes, adding seasonal specials which is great when I want to try something new but for this post I wanted to share my absolute favourites. So I've whittled it down to my top four...

1. Yuso Miso Salmon
OH EM GEEEEEE, this is such a gorgeous meal! I am a huge salmon lover and by combining the Yuzu with sweet miso, fresh ginger and sake it creates the perfect modern interpretation of a traditional Japanese dish. It comes with the most amazing edamame sushi rice, leeks and takuan... bonus!

2. Salmon Teriyaki
I know, I know, another salmon dish but honestly they do salmon so well, I just can't help myself! Fresh Scottish salmon, marinated in a house teriyaki sauce, add a little Jasmine rice and quinoa along with bok choy, baby corn and shiitake mushrooms and you've got what is probably my favourite takeaway dish of all time!

3. Korean Wings with Tabasco Sauce 
I was bloody well thrilled when these babies appeared on the menu. A collaboration between Eat First and Tabasco sauce to spice up the usual BBQ wings and honestly the are just heavenly. Marinated to perfection and glazed with Korean honey and chilli dressing.

4. Flourless Chocolate Cake
Obviously I can never go without dessert and this chocolate cake is so tasty. 70% dark chocolate cake which served hot and topped with berries is dreamy and gives me that all important chocolate fix... GET IN!
Now obviously the food being delicious is great but it's the ethos behind Eat First that's the reason behind my vote. From the delivery man (Hey Joe) who always greats me with a smile and asks how my blog is going to the personalised notes that comes with each meal. They just go all out in making sure I have the perfect takeaway experience. Each time I order I get to see not only exactly what is in the food but also which chef prepared it, Chef Roman Cmar and Chef Benn Hodges are my go-to guys because every meal they have ever made for me has been perfect.
Although whenever I log onto Just Eat to place an order I always look through the huge variety of takeaways on offer, somehow I seem to end up ordering from Eat First the majority of the time!
So if you know a great takeaway that you're proud to call your local then thank them by voting! 
Make sure to cast your vote before October 1st and you could win yourself a pair of tickets to The X Factor Live Final, one of 100 £25 Just Eat vouchers or a £1000 cash prize! Just visit the BTA's website.
So there we have it, my vote for this years BTA's. Voting has now opened and will close at midnight on October 1st 2017. If you want to get involved and see your favourite takeaway up there with the best then all you’ll need to do is nominate your favourite!
From the nation’s nominations, they’ll then  go through expert-judges and public votes to discover the best takeaways in each region. So go forth and share a little love for the unsung heroes, the hardworking people behind the great little takeaway places that we love! Winners from the final shortlist will be announced at the awards evening at The Savoy on 27 November 2017. Good luck to all!

K x
*This post was kindly sponsored by Just Eat*

Things you need to stop saying to single people. Immediately.

My name is Kate Winney and I am.... Single *gasp*
Yes at the grand old age of 27 I am partnerless - Time's ticking, what about kids? I'm running out of time, there must be something wrong with me?!
My goodness, by the way people talk about it it's as though I've got the plague. Chill out guys, I'm fine just as I am. I'd rather wait until the right person comes along than jump into a relationship with someone just so I can go on double dates and feel less awkward at weddings when people give me the 'don't worry I'm sure you'll meet someone soon' face.
Don't get me wrong I love being in love, it really is the best feeling in the world but I'm not about to force it just so I can change my relationship status of Facebook!
So with all that said here's a little list, a guide if you will of things you really need to stop saying to single people immediately because honestly...
you don't even realise how annoying it is!  

1. You're just too picky
- Ermmmmm, nah. As my wise friend Yasmin once said "I don't have high standards, I have my standards" and you better believe that I am not settling for anything less. 

2. Let me set you up
- There is no need to intervene. Unless you are my best friend and know exactly what I'm looking for then I'm good. Karen from finance, thanks for the offer but the I legitimately don't think we've ever uttered anything other than the word 'hello' to each other, I don't feel like that's enough for you to start playing match maker. 

3. Tick Tock
- At the age of 24 I was advised to "Get a move on" (for real) as if I wanted children, my body can only last so long....erm I was 24, TWENTY FOUR?!
Yes I do want kids but I am in no rush whatsoever and I think I've got a wee while until I need to worry about my biological clock running out.

4.Why are you single?
- This is a favourite of mine. There is not exact reason guys... I just am right now and I'm ok with that. If at any point I do however find the remedy to *gulp* singleness, I'll let you know (or write a book - I'd make millions!)
Dress c/o - Boden, Bag - Chloé, Shoes c/o - Boden, Belt - Vintage
Glasses c/o - Glasses Direct, Watch - Larsson & Jennings
Photography by - Zoe Griffin
So yes, to all - I am happy, I am good. I cannot wait to meet Mr Right but until then no need to fear, I am a perfectly capable independent woman *oh snap!*

K x

Thailand's Northern highlights with Contiki

Why hello there everybody, I hope you're all having a lovely week so far.
Today I have one almighty blog post to share with you all. If you've been keeping up with my Instagram feed you'll know I recently went on a trip to Thailand, travelling solo on the Northern Thai Highlights tour with Contiki. Now *warning* this is gonna be a hefty post so please grab yourself a cuppa (and snacks - ALWAYS grab the snacks) and get comfy, while I give you the full 411 on what a Contiki trip is really like, the in's, the out's and what I really thought about it all.
I thought the best way to structure the first part of the post was to literally strip it down and do a play by play of what exactly we got up to at each destination starting with...

 So first thing's first - I arrived after flying from Heathrow with BA, my first solo long haul flight. I will admit I was slightly apprehensive, not nervous just eager to get there and meet people. I think the often the biggest fear when travelling alone is that silly thought of 'Oh god what if I don't meet anyone and spend this entire trip alone?!' Fear not, this never happens and one of the reasons this trip was so amazing is because I did it solo. Anyway, I digress... I arrived in Bangkok and headed straight to the first hotel. After a quick nap (jet-lag got me good) I headed down to the lobby to meet Jasmine, our trip manager (and utter legend) for the duration of the tour along with the 30 other people - strangers at this point, I would be spending the next 8 days with. After our meeting, discussing the what, when and where's and introducing ourselves we set off for a group dinner.
Enter the infamous Khoa San road. Manic, magical and one big party! Khoa San road is the place to go for a flavour of Bangkok's nightlife. With drinks (that come by the bucket) costing next to nothing and DJs pumping music into the streets, you can't help but get swept up by Thailand's vibrant capital.
Next morning and with some of the group nursing their hangovers, we were up bright and early and en route to Wat Arun temple. A stunning temple with such beautiful detail. We wondered around, taking pictures and taking in the beauty of such an iconic temple within Bangkok before catching a boat along the Chao Praya River where we fed the nearby cat fish with left-over bread rolls from breakfast.
Next stop was Kanchaburi. After hopping on our coach, which quickly turned into our favourite place to nap, we met Suthep - our tour guide, honestly one of the nicest most considerate people I have ever met! Arriving at our stop in Kanchanaburi, a provincial town steeped in history. We visited the World War II cemetery along with the Death Railway Museum to learn more about the history of the Burma Railway and the Prisoners of war who built it - a truly sobering experience but one I would highly recommend to anyone visiting the area. I always think it's so important to educate myself on the culture and history of a place I am visiting. We walked alone the bridge over River Kwai itself and saw the many plaques and stones of memorial.
Jumping aboard jungle river rafts we then headed to our next hotel - the River Kwai Jungle Rafts Resort. This was billed as our 'special stay' whilst on the Northern Thai Highlights tour and my goodness it really was. I was truly in my element and just loved it! An eco friendly (no power) hotel perfect for a digital detox and chill. For me, someone who is constantly on their phone or computer, writing articles or updating social media. To have no choice but to leave my phone in my room was simply blissful! Zero signal meant it was pointless and I have to admit I felt so free, not having to or being able to do a single bit of work...it was great! Jumping from one end of the hotel and floating along the river to the the other end became a favourite activity among the group, with some even taking a beer along for the ride. When the sun finally set it was oil lamps that lit our way to dinner where we were treated to a feast of traditional Thai food. We spent the night playing games and getting to know the group more before heading to bed.
Next morning we headed along to the nearby Mon village, a remote village made up of only 25 families. Finishing our time in Kanchanaburi we trekked to the waterfalls in the beautiful Erawan National Park. Natural springs and pools, we spent our day taking Instagram worthy pictures and sliding down water slides that had formed amongst the rocks whilst the fish swam around our feet. The water was crystal clear and the surroundings just so beautiful and I'm not gonna lie, I felt like a real life mermaid sitting on the rocks... childhood dream come true!

Arriving in Ayutthaya we headed out for our bike ride tour around the historical ruins of the old city. Well I say we....those of you who have followed be for a while will know - I can't ride a bike! So I was in the van, something that I must admit in the humid heat of Thailand, I was actually quite thankful for! But as the others sweated whilst riding their way through the local villages, rice paddies and temples, we finally arrived at Ayutthaya historical park. We walked within the ruins, again taking pictures and taking in the beauty of the setting.
Making our way back to the hotel to collect our bags, It seemed like the perfect time for a Thai massage. So me and a few of the girls headed to the local spa. After being clicked, stretched and prodded into various positions I felt ready for our next destination - I must just point out that what would cost you approx £60 in the UK cost 200 Baht, the equivalent to £4.50!!
All aboard! Taking the over night train from Ayutthaya to Chiang Mai proved to be an unexpected highlight. I bloody loved it! claiming the top bunk, memories of school trips and summer camp were relived. The boys played card games as I shared my snacks and passed down magazines. Finally when tired out, we pulled our curtains across our bunks and fell a sleep for the 12 hour train ride.
I survived 726 turns to Pai! Oh yes, it really is the long and winding road but the destination is totally worth it. I would have LOVED to spend more time here, the vibe is so chilled! The hippie centric town boasts of markets selling hand made goods and laid back bars pumping out sounds of reggae music. It's also home the the best vegan falafel wrap I have ever eaten! Like seriously, this wrap was insane! The crepes were pretty good too...and the fruit shakes - yes I ate a lot on this holiday!
Whilst there, we chilled by the pool at our guest house, a gorgeous resort with each of us having our own little bungalow, it was like living in a mini village and was really cute.
Whilst in Pai we also headed to a Muay Thai lesson - Thailand's national sport. After stretching and going through all the basic moves of this combat/boxing sport we got into the ring three at a time to put our punches to practise. I really (somewhat surprisingly) loved this, even though it's a tough workout it's strangely addictive and a great way to let out any pent up aggression! After two rounds each and completely exhausted we finished off by watching the professionals in a real Muay Thai fight.
Chiang Mai
Ending our trip in Thailand's Northern capital made legendary by it's famed night markets. This was probably my favourite destination of the ones we visited. We packed so many activities into our two nights here. First up, Flight Of The Gibbons - a zip lining adventure through the jungle and one of my personal highlights. Flying hands free among the trees and vines, screaming our names as we went. It was one of those things I'd always wanted to do and I'm very proud of myself as I even plucked up the courage to do the jump and free fall at one of the platforms - and it felt amazing!
Next up in Chiang Mai we had a cooking class, learning how to master some of Thailand's most signature dishes. Now those that know we will know, cooking isn't exactly a skill of mine... I hate it! But after going to the local food market to pick up the ingredients and popping on our aprons, I must admit I actually had a great time AND my dishes ended up tasting pretty damn good! We all lined up and quite literally set the stoves on fire as we rustled up 4 dishes each before watching a tropical storm erupt over the surrounding fields as we sat down to eat our *ahem* culinary masterpieces.
Onto the night markets, something I'd been looking forward to since the start of the trip. The famous umbrella ceilings and stall upon stall, selling everything from leather goods to traditional clothing. I got my elephant pants, something I think anyone who's ever travelled to Thailand owns. Myself along with the majority of the group spent hours haggling, buying gifts and treating ourselves to sweet treats TOP TIP - the ice cream stalls in the night market are amazing!
Our first night in Chaing Mai ended with the famous Chiang Mai Cabaret Show, a 'lady boy' show bursting with energy and humour.
We ended our time in Chiang Mai with my personal trip highlight, the Elephant Nature Park. I've always wanted to get up close to an elephant and here I was spoilt for choice with so many of them walking freely. A charity and sanctuary for elephants rescued from the riding, logging and entertainment industries. The elephants are left to roam wild whilst we walked along side them, fed them and washed them.
Ok, so it's time to get a little senty, a little emosh... my Contiki family.
Going anywhere solo can be scary, I had wanted to go to Thailand for the longest time but finding someone to go with always proved difficult. So it came to a point were I was like no, if I want to do this, I'm doing it solo and although I love going away with my friends and family, this trip was what it was because I did it alone. I met so many amazing people. Some travelling in groups and others solo travellers like myself. Each and every one of you were integral to making this trip one I will never forget! On my first night, sat in the lobby on my own a Canadian couple came up to me with the most random opening line to a conversation ever..."Do you watch Love Island" my answer (obvs) was yes and from that moment on Shay, Peter and I became best friends, literally not leaving each others sides for the rest of the trip. The last thing I thought was going to happen was for me to suddenly be third wheeling on a couple romantic getaway... but we literally spent every second together laughing.
I cannot even begin to explain how much I miss them both. Shay and Petey, come to London!!
Another shout out goes to my boys Graham and Givarn, a couple of complete nutters from South Africa. Boys I adore you and your cuteness and can't wait to meet up for Karaoke, get those dance moves ready! Although I adored everyone in the group these four were my ride or dies and I thank my lucky stars that I got to meet them and experience some pretty cool stuff together along the way.
So yeah, being a solo traveller can feel scary at first but rest assured, you will always meet people and they'll make your trip what it is.
The Northern Thai Highlights tour was everything I wished for and more. I got the adventure i wanted and experienced so many things that make the Thai culture so special. Even though I headed out there solo, I came back with a Contiki family, one of which I plan to visit as I continue to travel around the world.Thank you to the Contiki team and thank you to every single one of my fellow travellers for being the best team EVER!
For more info on what we got up to, check out my article over on Contiki's six-two plattform and my travel vlog over on my Youtube channel!
I travelled on Contiki’s Northern Thai Highlights as part of The Travel Project. If you believe that travel has helped you become a better person, or you have discovered something revelatory about yourself whilst on the road, Contiki want to hear from you!
 Head to contiki.com/thetravelproject to see how you can get involved, and maybe even travel on your own Travel Project mission with Contiki.

K x