Bounty of seasonal ingredients (Review)

Bounty of seasonal ingredients (Review)

HARVEST Festival season is a great time for foodies as it means a bounty of flavour and fresh ingredients on our dinner plates. What’s not to love?!

And the chefs at The Durham Ox in Shrewley are making it easy for us to indulge with their new Autumn/Winter Menu of comforting and warming seasonal fare.

A Warwick resident for more than 20 years, The Durham Ox in nearby Shrewley is not an unfamiliar haunt and I was delighted to be invited back to be among the first to sample the new menu.

A warm welcome, contemporary decor and an inviting window table set the scene for the culinary adventure to come – and it didn’t disappoint.

From a choice of six starters, ranging in price from £6 and £8.50, I opted for the Sticky Pork Belly Burnt Ends, which was definitely a first for me. My husband’s Chilli & Garlic King Prawns and my son’s Crispy Buffalo Wings were all polished off with relish (not literally!) and, all round, proved tasty openers to proceedings.

The Durham Ox kitchen is not afraid to be bold in its flavour combinations and this was even evident in the most traditional of British dishes – Bangers and Mash. My Ring Cumberland Sausage with French mustard mash, red onion chutney and rich jus, was tasty indeed. I’ve always been a fan of classical food done well and this is certainly an example of that.

Hubby’s Beef Medallion Steaks, served with cherry confit tomatoes, chips and choice of sauce, was cooked just to his liking and heartily devoured. Likewise my son’s Sirloin.

As well as steak, main course options include a good range of burger, chicken and fish dishes plus the rather tempting Braised Pork Belly with Bubble & Squeak (one for next time!) and, for vegans and veggies, Lentil Shepherd’s Pie, served with seasonal greens.

Trying hard to leave enough capacity to sample the desserts menu (not easy with their generous portions) I shared with my son a delicious slice of their Orange & Chocolate Tart (served with salted popcorn and Chantilly cream) while hubby made short work of the Baked New York-Style Cheesecake. Happily, they tasted as delicious as they looked!

It’s worth noting there is also a decent little selection of Sharers, particularly good for those just looking for some social snacking with friends while enjoying a drink – or two. Take your pick from a Charcuterie Platter, Sundried Tomato & Red Pepper Hummus, Baked House Bread & Olives or Rosemary & Garlic Baked Camembert.

After a difficult period for the hospitality industry – and while facing challenges that still remain – I’m delighted to report the Durham Ox is once more a gastro pub earning its place on the local foodie map.

Classic food using fresh local ingredients, cooked and served to a high standard and against an attractive and sophisticated backdrop – is what we expect for our money – and it’s absolutely what we got.

Durham Ox

Check out the Durham Ox’s new menu here

Visit The Durham Ox here

New Christmas Menu at Hatton Arms in Warwick

New Christmas Menu at Hatton Arms in Warwick

‘The most magical Christmas yet’ has been declared at The Hatton Arms in Warwick with the launch of a new seasonal menu that promises to satisfy the huge local appetite for this year’s festivities.

With sweeping views of the idyllic Hatton Locks, the award-winning country pub has established a reputation among locals for authentic dining and classic British cuisine made with the finest ingredients, often sourced direct from the privately-owned Hatton Estate.

The Hatton Arms, Christmas Menu, Warwick

Following a refurbishment last year, the gastro pub has adopted a fresh modern look inside and out including a new lighter and brighter and contemporary interior to greet visitors, while still staying true to the traditional pub vibe the locals have come to love.

The Hatton Arms’ festive menu, available Monday to Saturday, will also reflect the pub’s provenance with an emphasis on locally sourced fresh seasonal ingredients – among them meat from Rowleys Butchers in Leamington and Warwick; poultry from Adlingtons near Coventry; beef from Oxfordshire; vegetables from Alcester; eggs from Chadwick End and bread from Henley.

The Hatton Arms, Christmas Menu, Warwick
Spiced Carrot & Coriander Soup. Photos by David Fawbert Photography.

Carefully crafted Starters ranging from Smoked Salmon & Dill Pate and Mini Melting Camembert to Pheasant & Chestnut Terrine are set to become seasonal favourites, while delicious Mains include Breaded Turkey Escalope, Apricot-Stuffed Roast Pork Loin, Salmon Supreme with Roasted Root Vegetables and Chestnut, Parsnip & Cranberry Loaf. Vegetarians, vegans and gluten-free diners are also catered for.

Be sure to leave room for a choice from the tempting line-up of seasonal desserts, including traditional Christmas Pudding, Mulled Wine Winter Berries Pavlova and Chocolate Brownie.

It’s all painstakingly prepared under the expert eye of head chef Jakub Fijak, whose food has been enjoyed at the Hatton Arms for more than five years.

Jakub, from Poland, has 27 years’ experience in professional kitchens and now heads up a team of six at Hatton.

He said: “This is classic British cuisine with a bit of a modern twist, cooked with fresh seasonal ingredients to order. No nonsense, just great food.

“We’re not moving away from traditional Christmas dinner. We’re still serving turkey but with a slightly different take. The menu is packed with warming and comforting food but with the usual A La Carte Menu still running alongside it, so if there are any courses people would like to swap, they can do that as well.”

The pub also stocks a variety of local ales, draught beers and organic ciders alongside a wide selection of wines, spirits plus mulled wine and festive cocktails.

Manager Steph Ward said: “Here at The Hatton Arms we are more determined than ever to make this the most magical Christmas yet. A lot of meticulous planning has gone in to this delicious new menu which, we’re confident will go down well with diners. We know how much people missed out on the joy of socialising with family and friends last year – so we are determined to help them kick off this year’s festivities in style with fabulous food and festive and friendly atmosphere!”

The Hatton Arms is open 12pm-11pm Monday-Saturday and 12pm-10.30pm Sundays. Visit:

Hatton Arms, Warwick, Christmas Menu

Local entries invited for new-look post-pandemic awards

Local entries invited for new-look post-pandemic awards

WARWICKSHIRE businesses are being invited to enter a new-look awards dedicated to recognising growth and resilience throughout the pandemic.

The fourth Ladies First Professional Development Awards will celebrate success stories while also raising funds and awareness for two Midlands charities, St Basils and Suited For Success.

Nominations are open in 26 categories, including a host of new categories including Man of the Year, Excellence In Education and Best Family Business.

Ladies First Professional Development Awards 2022, Tracey McAtamney, St Basils, Suited For Success
Tracey McAtamney.

Established in 2016, award-winning charity Suited For Success helps unemployed men and women in Warwickshire and the West Midlands prepare for a job interview by providing free coaching, employment preparation skills and interview clothing.

Chief Executive Patricia White said: “After more than a year of not being able to fundraise due to the face-to-face nature of the work, we’re especially grateful to Ladies First for throwing us this lifeline.

“The pandemic has left a huge negative impact on people’s self-esteem and mental health and we have seen a big increase in people needing our support, from interview coaching and dressing for job interviews to helping people feel confident again, once they’ve got a job, to go back into the workplace.

“This year and next year we’ll still be seeing the after-effects so the continuous work we are doing as a charity to get people back into employment is going to be more important than ever.

“Because it’s been 18 months or more since they’ve been working, a lot of people are now classed as long term unemployed and the longer you’re out of work, the less confident you are about re-entering the workforce. There’s a feeling of hopelessness for many people at the moment who have crossed that barrier from being unemployed to feeling they’re unemployable. And the economy is still very unstable.”

Further information about Suited For Success can be found here

St Basils works with young people aged 16-25 who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, to enable them to find and keep a home, grow their confidence, develop their skills and increase opportunities.

Established in Birmingham, the charity now has 42 accommodation projects across the West Midlands, including Leamington, Coventry, Solihull, Sandwell, Walsall, Bromsgrove, Redditch and Kidderminster.

Barrie Hodge, spokesperson for St Basils said: “We are so delighted to be working with Ladies First. Homelessness is an issue that is seen by many as something that mainly impacts men, but 53% of the young people we support are women and there is an increasing amount of women in temporary accommodation with their children.

Ladies First Professional Development, Tracey McAtamney, St Basils, Suited For Success
St Basils also offer employability coaches which run a five-week programme called ‘I Can.’

“More than 120,000 young people presented as homeless in the UK last year. This support is vital to us so that we can continue to provide them with the care they need during a critical time in their lives.”

Further information about St Basils can be found here

Awards organiser and Ladies First Network Leader, Tracey McAtamney from Balsall Common, said they were fitting charities to support in light of the recent challenges.

“There are a lot of awards around and for me it’s about supporting charitable causes that are relevant. This year these charities seem a good fit because they align very well with our professional development and encouraging people back to work and there have been so many younger people negatively impacted by Covid.”

She added: “While we’re celebrating our own success we can be mindful that there are a lot of people out there who do need our help and we can do that by not just raising funds but by raising their profiles.”

Ladies First Professional Development, Tracey McAtamney, St Basils, Suited For Success
The organisers are welcoming a return to face to face awards ceremonies.

The new categories introduced this year are: Excellence in Health & Wellbeing, Digital Star, Man of the Year, Employer of the Year, Excellence in Education, Achieves in Marketing, Family Business and Service Provider of the Year.

Young people will also be in sharper focus at this year’s awards which champion Young Person in STEM, Young Entrepreneur, Rising Star in Education and Inspirational Young Achiever.

Tracey, who also runs the Surviving Bereavement charity, said: “It’s not just about women in business, it’s about recognising all inspirational people in our communities.

“Over the past 18 months, some businesses have survived but others have actually thrived and developed. Obviously there were a lot of businesses which were lost but many of those have reinvented themselves into something else which is also inspiring.

“It’s so important to be together again after hosting it online last year. This year’s awards will be real night to remember and I promise everyone will come away at the end of the night feeling like they’re a winner.”

Finalists will be selected by an independent panel at a judging event on February 7th, ahead of an awards ceremony at Coombe Abbey in Coventry on March 24th. Closing date for entries is Monday, January 3rd.

Ladies First Professional Development, Tracey McAtamney, St Basils, Suited For Success
Patricia White – Photo by hank&margotuk2

For further information about how to nominate, visit here

To enquire about sponsorship opportunities contact Tracey McAtamney at:

Celebrate the festive season at Compton Verney

Celebrate the festive season at Compton Verney

CHRISTMAS is declared at Compton Verney in the shape of its new Winter Festival.

Running throughout December, the line up of events at the 120 acres of stunning parkland and lake and award-winning art gallery, includes Santa’s woodland grotto, carol concerts, enchanting late evenings, complete with a fabulous gift market, music, entertainment, and delicious seasonal food to further put you in the festive mood!

Compton Verney, Christmas

Selected dates throughout December

Bring the kids to meet Father Christmas* in his magical woodland grotto by following a wondrous trail lit with firefly fairy lights. There are surprises around every corner and plenty to delight the senses, from the sound of a crackling fire to the wonderful smell of freshly baked gingerbread. When you meet Santa, make sure to tell him what you’d REALLY like for Christmas but don’t forget to post a letter in our special post box, just to remind him! Before he whizzes off to prepare for his epic journey, delivering presents around the world, we’ve asked him to bring some early gifts for our little visitors to take home, ready to open on the Big Day.

10, 11 and 17, 18 December, at 12pm, 1.30pm and 3pm

Relax in the glorious surroundings of the Adam Hall in the main house and enjoy suitably festive-themed menu of finger sandwiches, warm scones with preserves and clotted cream, festive savouries and pastries and delicious seasonal treats.

9, 10, 11 and 16, 17, 18 December, 6pm – 9pm

Swap the crush of the High Street for the delightful sights, smells and sounds of Christmas emanating from hand-selected stalls, including awar-d winning small batch rum and gin, handmade Belgian chocolates and bakery presents, succulents with cacti planted in unique and quirky planters and children’s personalised plates in solid oak. The gallery’s  Gift Shop will also be open, offering a wide range of home and fashion gifts, plus lots of lovely stocking fillers. When you’re completely shopped out, take a break and indulge yourself with a glass of mulled wine, or a piping hot cup of hot chocolate, while nibbling on warm mince pies and other tasty treats. Warm-up at one of the fire pits and enjoy an amazing, relaxed atmosphere complete with music and entertainment.

20 November, 11am – 1.30pm

Create a truly unique present by designing a ring, pendant or necklace in wax, which will then be sent to London’s famous Hatton Garden, for casting in silver. Your piece will be hand finished according to your specifications and sent back to you just two weeks later in a beautifully packaged gift box, with plenty of time to give that very special person in your life the most amazing gift.

Compton Verney, Christmas, Winter Festival

30 November and 5 December, 10am – 12.30pm

These fun and inspiring workshops are totally hands-on! You’ll learn the traditional method of making a Christmas wreath with seasonal spruce, natural materials and foliage. Finished off with a range of dried fruit, cones and berries your creation is sure to be admired by all your guests and neighbours over the festive period.

10 December, 2pm – 4pm

Christmas carols are one of the festive season’s true essentials and hearing the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Chamber Choir, directed by Paul Spicer, perform in the splendours of Compton Verney’s ‘Capability’ Brown chapel promises to be heavenly.

12 and 19 December, 11am, 1pm and 3pm

Snuggle down with Mother Christmas to enjoy an hour of specially chosen, interactive Christmas stories.


11 & 18 December

A series of mini-concerts performed by the multi-award-winning all-female string quintet, Toscana Strings. They will be accompanied by ballerina Laura Tye, who has danced with The Royal Ballet and Birmingham Royal Ballet, to create an original, beautiful and not to be missed combination of live classical music, performance and storytelling, based on two classic family favourites, Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker and Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman.

For more about the Winter Festival, including ticket prices and availability, plus other events, exhibitions, and activities, visit

Fundraising is a piece of cake for professional baker!

Fundraising is a piece of cake for professional baker!

L-R: Debra Goodwin with Katie Steele of White Hyacinth Cake Design.

A professional cake maker raised more than £400 for charity last week after hosting a coffee morning that was certainly a cut above.

The owner of White Hyacinth Cake Design in Whatcote, collected a sweet £439 for Macmillan when locals flocked to sample some of her professionally made tasty treats on offer.

Debra Goodwin and her assistant Katie Steele also held a tombola, and raffle at the event, with prizes donated by local businesses including Winchcombe Farm Holidays in Upper Tysoe and Monsoon Estates Coffee in Stratford.

Debra said: “We are delighted that so many people came along to the coffee morning to support such a worthy cause and are thrilled that everyone donated so generously, helping us raise a magnificent sum.

“Every 90 seconds someone in the UK is diagnosed with cancer. Macmillan is doing everything it can to provide vital emotional, financial or clinical support for people living with cancer who are going through a challenging time.”

For further information about White Hyacinth Cake Design, visit here

For further information about Macmillan Cancer Support visit here