EatStreet at Festival Place, Basingstoke

This weekend, Basingstoke’s shopping centre, Festival Place, turned into a celebration of international flavours thanks to EatStreet, an event dedicated to showcasing cuisines from around the world, and offering free samples from the restaurants from the centre. Free samples, demos… yes please!


The star of the show was Levi Roots – restauranteur, inventor, inspirational speaker, and musician, who is a passionate spokesman for Caribbean cuisine. Bringing his charm and cool to the stage, he demonstrated a variety of recipes including home style jerk chicken wings, hot and fruity Caribbean fruit slaw and Martinique coconut chicken curry, all the while regaling the crowd with stories and insights into the rich culinary heritage of the islands.

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Autumn Pumpkin Festival at Royal Victoria Country Park

Recently, I popped along to my local pumpkin festival at Royal Victoria Country Park, and I thought I’d share some of the photos of the day!

Pumpkin montage 1Central chapel / prize-winning pumpkins / Mulberry logo scarf / matte nails with OPI top coat and Ciate’s Hopscotch / heavenly chilli / the remains of Royal Victoria Hospital

Royal Victoria Country Park is one of my favourite places to visit. Nestled on the shores of Southampton Water, the site used to be home to the Royal Victoria Hospital, which was much used during World War I and visited frequently by Queen Victoria herself, as well as Florence Nightingale. Little of the original hospital remains except for the chapel, as a fire devastated the rest of the building in 1963. However, you can still walk the grounds and even visit the patients’ graveyard on the site, which has some fascinating grave stones.

The annual pumpkin festival is an October highlight for me, but this year it was strangely devoid of pumpkins to actually buy! I usually pick up loads of munchkin pumpkins for decoration for Halloween and Thanksgiving, but they were thin on the ground. Luckily, we managed to swing by Pickwell Farm Shop on the way home to stock up!

Pumpkin montage 2

The light green pumpkin is one of my favourite eating varieties, called Crown Prince (my other favourite is Kabocha). Although good meaning types will tell you to save the pumpkin flesh from your carving varieties to make soup and avoid waste, I have to say, it’s a good way of making rubbish soup. Literally, soup from rubbish. If you actually want to enjoy eating pumpkin, you need to purchase culinary pumpkins, which are delicious. The carving types are generally watery, tasteless and very stringy.

So I piled up my little trolley with some delicious pumpkins in order to make some pumpkin hummus from the first Leon cookbook – along with some other tasty tapas dishes from the same book, including sesame chicken wings, flatbread, sweet potato falafels, Imam Bayildi and magic beans. I highly recommend the book if you like healthy, hearty food. I’ve never had the pleasure of eating at a Leon restaurant, but the recipes are amazing.

Pumpkin montage 3Pumpkin votive from Cox and Cox / tapas spread / inside of a Crown Prince / pumpkin spice latte at Starbucks / trying to decide between three shades of orange nail varnish / pumpkin votives, munchkins and Design Ideas black Sherwood tree from John Lewis

The rest of the month has been a pumpkin-flavoured blur – I’ve been getting loads of use out of my gorgeous pumpkin shaped candle holders from Cox and Cox (no relation – I wish!), and downing as many pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks as my stomach can handle (a lot, it turns out!). I also bought some more orange nail varnish, as my Ciate Hopscotch was actually a cheat – I nicked it out of the advent calendar ahead of time. Naughty! (I ended up with Orange Attack from Maybelline.) Finally, I picked this pretty black Sherwood tree from John Lewis, which looks awesome bare as a Halloween decoration, or can be accessorized with baubles, birds and blossoms you can buy individually!

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