Happy new year everyone! I hope that 2015 is treating you well so far. In this article I’ll be sharing with you my ten favourite blogs with a local flavour. Many of them have a Clarendon Park connection, and of all the writers are based in Leicestershire. There’s something for everyone here whether you’re a history enthusiast, foodie, beauty buff or budding gardener. Some of the blogs I’ve featured are already well established while others are little-known hidden gems.
There are some brilliant blogs out there and it’s been extremely difficult to pick my top ten but here goes – bring on the blogs!
This wonderful blog is at the top of my list for good reason. If you are at all interested in the history of Clarendon Park, Your Histories is an absolute must-read. Former museum curator and historian Elizabeth Amias has made a personal project out of recording the different businesses of Clarendon Park, from its beginnings in the late 1880s to the present day. In her blog, Elizabeth shares some of the more interesting snippets from her research as it unfolds, accompanied by old photos and documents from her collection. In doing so she creates a fascinating picture of Clarendon Park past.
What I like most about Elizabeth’s writing is the way she takes a small piece of information like a crumpled old photo or a historical census record and painstakingly pieces together the history behind it. Her investigative instincts uncover some wonderful stories, not just about Clarendon Park’s businesses, but about the lives of the Clarendon Parkers who ran them. If you only start reading one new blog this year make it Your Histories.
Make, Do and Spend is written by E and B and is a diverse mix of craft, cooking, travel and photography. The anonymous duo describe their blog as “A place to bring together all the things we love – making things, eating things, finding things and photographing things.” E lives in Clarendon Park and the area features in several posts, but there are plenty of forays into more exotic locations too, with recent trips to South Africa and Frankfurt making an appearance.
I was lucky enough to write a guest post for E and B last summer in which I used a basket full of locally-grown goodies from Queens Road allotments to make an apple, plum and courgette loaf cake and some seriously yummy blackberry lemonade. It was my first experience as a guest blogger which gives Make, Do and Spend a special place in my blogging heart! If you love great photography, crafty stuff and the odd recipe this gently eclectic blog will be right up your street.
Another blog I’ve contributed a guest post to is the brilliant Eat Midlands, written by Sarah, who was the lucky recipient of my recipe for honey and mustard glazed pork chops with butternut squash. The best thing about this recipe is that it’s best accompanied by lashings of cider courtesy of The Offie on Clarendon Park Road!
Eat Midlands is an online food magazine which showcases the very best food and drink the region has to offer. From updates on restaurant openings and new products, to event listings and profiles of local food heroes, this blog brings together all you need to know about food and drink in Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Derbyshire and Rutland. If you want to keep up-to-date with all the latest foodie news, this blog is a great bet – just be aware that you might end up spending a bigger-than-expected portion of your earnings in 2015 on dining out at some of the best restaurants in the East Midlands.
Being a major foodie, many of my favourite blogs are ones which are devoted to restaurant reviews, recipes and product critiques. In fact I could easily write an article telling you about my top twenty food blogs, but I’ve reined it in and squeezed just two in to avoid being too repetitive! When I look back over my own blog posts it’s the reviews and recipes which have been most popular so there’s clearly a huge appetite out there for food-related writing.
Gingey (not her real name) is a Loughborough-based blogger, who posts healthy, hearty, easy-to-follow recipes using locally-sourced ingredients. I find her blog a great source of inspiration for everyday meals as well as more time-consuming weekend stuff. There are plenty of restaurant reviews too, as well as cook book recommendations, coverage from events like The Good Food Show and news about new food and kitchen products. Gingey Bites is one to add to your reading list if you’re into great grub and trying new things in the kitchen.
This colourful and occasionally foul-mouthed blog is written by two no-nonsense Leicesterites who are on a mission to prove that Leicester is bloody marvellous. Their vibrant and varied posts are brimming with humour and genuine passion about our fine city and (almost) everything it has to offer (they also take the time to point out the genuinely rubbish bits so you can avoid them).
The blog reads like a sort of alternative travel guide and has categories for Days Out, Fast Food, Nightlife and Parks, among others. In-keeping with the travel guide style there is also a handy map which has each of the locations mentioned pinned on it, along with a link to the relevant post. This is a brilliant idea and one I’m determined to implement on my own blog as soon as I’ve figured out how to do it. Leicester: it’s not shit! is a great way of keeping up-to-date with what’s on in Leicester, with the info presented in a way that’s honest and often hilarious.
I’m cheating a little bit here because this fabulous website isn’t strictly speaking a blog, but it hosts a fascinating collection of articles, photos and videos all about the wonderful allotments just off Queens Road. I wrote an article about the allotments last year in which I explored the history behind this fascinating patch of green land in the heart of Clarendon Park and stumbled on this website in this process.
The allotments received Heritage Lottery funding in 2012, money which was used to undertake the ‘Not Lost the Plot’ heritage project. This project was an opportunity for the allotmenteers to explore the history of the plots, tell their stories and preserve the uniqueness of the allotments for future generations. This website collates much of the material generated during the project including an excellent video by Bill Newsinger, which gives a lovely overview of life on the allotments. It you’ve ever wondered what goes on over the hedge at the allotments, this blog reveals a whole new world of more than just plots and plants.
Continuing with the green-fingered theme, The Cynical Gardener is a beautiful blog written by a senior botanical gardener and self-confessed “nut and seed addict”. Combining expert gardening advice with a diary of the activity taking place in her own garden, this is blogging with a cosy feel to it, best read with a mug of tea in your hand and a cat curled up on your lap.
The real joy of The Cynical Gardner is the photography. There is at least one new NatGeo-quality photo every week and it’s wonderful to see the changing seasons captured in the regular ‘Wordless Wednesday’ post. If you love the outdoor world but find yourself stuck in an office for much of the week this blog brings the beauty of the botanical garden right to your screen. Full of colour and texture, the images really capture the photographer’s passion for all things botanical and their presence on my news feed never fails to make me smile.
Bewitchery is a fashion and beauty blog written by Naomi, who is based in Leicester. Unlike a lot of bloggers in this very popular genre, Naomi focuses on the more affordable end of the market. She regularly showcases clothing from shops like Primark, H&M and New Look, alongside the type of everyday make-up brands you can pick up for a few quid in Superdrug or your local supermarket. As something of a bargain-hunter myself I find this approach really refreshing and Naomi’s photos prove that you don’t have to spend a lot of money to look super-stylish.
Aside from the fashion and beauty stuff, Naomi frequently posts photos of her adorable pet rats as well as offering up a variety of non-beauty product reviews. All-in-all Bewitchery is a fun and varied blog and well worth a follow if you want to keep up with the latest fashion and beauty trends without being bombarded with glamourised depictions of outlandish and criminally expensive products.
Clarendon Parker Matt Henshaw is a singer-songwriter whose music career has been on a meteoric rise since he gave up his desk job just under two years ago. Matt’s story is a truly inspirational one – bored of working in an office he jacked it in and after building up an impressive catalogue of self-penned songs and receiving huge critical acclaim he is about to embark on his first European tour. Matt’s music is a blend of soul, gospel and blues which is as complex as it is unique and has seen him earmarked by those in the know for huge success.
Matt’s blog is a charming hotchpotch of music news, random personal musings, recommendations, recipes and gardening advice. It’s something of a one-stop-shop for his fans because he posts up information about forthcoming gigs and links for downloading his latest tracks. I love this blog for it’s down-to-earth chatty style and I’m really looking forward to following Matt on his continuing adventures in wonderland.
Scientist, university lecturer and craft supremo Sarah, who lives just over the border in Stoneygate, has created a intriguing blog combining her two passions. From crocheted brain cells to a cake depicting a geological borehole dig, this is crafting as you’ve never seen it before! As well as sharing photos of her own creations Sarah collects news, patterns and random ephemera from across the web relating to the crafty science theme.
Knitters are particularly well catered for on Science “Makes” and will appreciate the technical skill displayed in some of the more intricate creations (hallucigenia pencil holder anyone?) If you have even a passing interest in either crafting or science I recommend you pay this imaginative blog a visit. Eccentric, playful and unashamedly geeky it’s a fabulous cocktail of two very different disciplines. You’ll never look at a superior colliculus in the same way again.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little round-up of my top ten recommended blogs and that I’ve inspired you to add at least one new website to your 2015 reading list. I’m always looking for new local blogs to follow so if you read (or write) a brilliant blog that isn’t on my list please let me know by commenting below. Thanks for reading!