And I Said, “What About Breakfast in Derby?”

I’ve lived in Derby my whole life and therefore have eaten a lot of the food it has to offer. This includes breakfast. They say it’s the most important meal of the day, but then all meals are pretty important to me. There is plenty to choose from in Derby, but it can be difficult to find places open early enough for us retail workers. So, in case anyone was wondering what was worth a try, I’ve compiled a list!

I’ll first bring your attention to Greggs. They’ve mainly made it onto the list for cheapness, as being a fan of food comes at a literal cost so it can be nice to have a budget option. At £2 for a bap and a brew, you can’t go wrong. However, I’m not a fan of their sausages. I just can’t get on with the taste, but still worth a try as that just may well be my fussy taste buds. Otherwise, I’ve always been happy with the bacon they have to offer. Sauce is also offered, which can make all the difference.

My next suggestion would be Costa. A not-so-budget-friendly option, but makes a nice treat, especially this time of year with their festive menu in full swing. I love a Blackforest Hot Chocolate to start the day. But most importantly, they have a delicious breakfast range. I love their toasties, as they always have that extra ingredient that gives them a distinguishable flavour. Their Sausage and Red Onion toastie WAS my absolute favourite, but having visited a couple of different Costas last week, I found they were no longer offering them. This may be to make room for more festive turkey and stuffing based delicacies, so I will try again for one in the new year!

Another place worth a try is Subway. Like Greggs they have cheaper options, like their breakfast sub and drink for £2.20. For those of you who want to really get your money’s worth, the salad and sauces are also available as they are for normal subs. So I’ve experimented a few times and have found a cheese and toasted sausage on flatbread with cucumber, lettuce and sweet onion  sauce a lovely way to start the day!

It’s unavoidable really, Mcdonald’s is on my list. Once it would have been considered a budget place to eat, but their breakfasts don’t really compare to the Greggs and Subway offers. You can get a Breakfast Wrap for £2.79 or meal for £3.69, which still isn’t breaking the bank really. However I tend to go for something a little more DIY and save some money. By going for a Sausage and Egg Snack Wrap and adding a hash brown to my order, I can make something similar to the Breakfast Wrap, but for about 80p cheaper. It’s worth noting you also get less food this way, but that also suits me as I prefer a smaller portion at breakfast. If you are more of a “stuff your face until you bust” kinda foodie, then by all means stick with the Breakfast Wrap!

This next one is top of my list and always will be. Birds Bakery. I have fond childhood memories of their freshly baked goods, and hope to continue making such memories for years to come. If you have not tried their sausage cob before then stop whatever you’re doing and go get one RIGHT NOW! They are seriously one of the best things I have ever eaten. The sausages are generous sizes, it comes in one of their fresh bread rolls and with optional stuffing and apple sauce. I always go for the optional stuffing and apple sauce, it’s the best combination. The only downside is they don’t have the sausages ready to go as early as the other places I’ve mentioned, but then none of them are as fresh as Birds. From my own experience trying different Birds Bakeries in the city centre (there are four that I know of) it tends to be around 8.30am onwards they have them ready. Still doable to grab a breakfast before work, as they take minutes to out together once the sausages are ready, but for me it’s a bit of a squeeze.

So there you have it, my 5 favourite places to start the day the edible way. There are of course plenty of other places in Derby that I’ve not even been to yet, and more new ones opening all the time, so feel free to let me know of any you think I should check out. I always love to try new food experiences!



Why You Should Eat At: Farro’s Grillhouse, Nottingham

My latest choice of eatery came courtesy of a suggested post on Facebook. After seeing the page for Farro’s Grillhouse pop up a few times, with tantalising pictures that set off my taste buds, I finally gave in. And I’m glad I did!

From the outside the sign for the grillhouse is modern inviting, and stands out as it’s located on a street with mostly run down or closed kebab shops.

We walked in to to be greeted by smiley, friendly staff who immediately seated us and explained how to order. It was much like Nando’s, as you order at the bar when you’re ready and quote a table number. They made sure to explain the menu and where to get sauces and cutlery from.

The building itself was breathtaking, with three main seating areas connected together. There was the area as you just walk in, then up some steps there are more tables, and then a doorway lead to even more at the back. It was not unlike the Doctor’s T.A.R.D.I.S! We were sat in the central area, which had a glass ceiling. This was lovely, as it let in plenty of light and made the whole place feel more open. The tables were spaciously spread apart as well, giving us sufficient privacy from the other diners.

As I mentioned before, the place reminded me of Nando’s in some ways, the menu being another. It shared the same simple layout, which I found clear and easy to navigate. There were starters, of which we had the Nachos to Share between three of us and there were plenty. Not only that, but I would say they were the best nachos I have EVER had! Rather than just opening a bag of Doritos and microwaving some cheese over the top as a lot of places clearly do, these were clearly homemade as the menu claims. They were crisp and full of flavour, and I will definitely be going back for more.

For our mains we had a choice of burgers, steaks, Peri Peri chicken, seafood, salads, pizza, calzones and sizzlers (strips of meat cooked on a hot griddle plate, served still sizzling!) I was initially overwhelmed by all this choice, and I will admit, having seen all these options advertised on the front of the building before we came in, I was apprehensive. I was worried that a restaurant that was taking on so many different dishes might struggle to keep up the quality. But overall my personal experience was that they can cope absolutely fine!

Myself and my companions ended up ordering the same meal, as we couldn’t resist the Sizzler Burger, a combination of griddled strips of lamb in a bun with salad and cheese. This also came topped with an egg, but they were kind enough to swap it for a hash brown for me. I thoroughly enjoyed this combination, and now feel converted to having strips of meat instead of a patty in my burger. The trend for patties these days seems to be “the bigger the better”, but I often find it too much for one meal. I found having strips of meat not only more manageable, but more flavoursome and tender as well. A brilliant idea for a burger filling!

We also went for the Peri Peri chips. I am a lover of good chips, and have a specific expectation on how the perfect chip should be. These were as near perfect as you could hope to get. Crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside, freshly fried but not at all greasy. Spot on.

There was a good selection of drinks on the menu, including mocktails, which always makes me happy. I went for my usual choice, a mojito, and it was perfectly refreshing.

We didn’t have time for dessert, but saw some mountainous milkshakes and waffles go past, which looked amazing, yet another reason to come back soon. We did notice they have a takeaway menu, which is always handy to know, and it mentioned 10% student discount.

So did this place that Facebook tempted me into trying meet expectations? I would say a firm yes. The appearance of the food matched the delicious looking pictures they share on their page, and the portion sizes are just as generous. Throw in that they have free private parking, and what reason could you have to not give Farro’s Grillhouse a try next time your in Nottingham?

Why You Should Read: The Moon Riders by Theresa Tomlinson

The Moon Riders is one of my favourite versions of the Siege of Troy. We get an outsiders point of view of the beginning, middle and end to this tragic tale, which explores the effects such a war might have had on the people living in the area, as well as the highborn and royalty.

We follow Myrina on her journey to become a Moon Rider, referred to by others as Amazons. She has her own path to follow, but it snakes us in and out of the tale of Troy, bringing in characters I was excited to recognise. Amongst many, we meet Iphigenia, the sacrificial daughter of King Agamemnon, and Cassandra, the prophetess daughter of King Priam, her visions thought to be nothing but madness.

Tomlinson weaves the two myths of Amazon warriors and the Siege of Troy together, into a story that gives explanation to the fantastical details commonly associated with the stories. My favourite is the discussion amongst Myrina and her people of how other civilisations think the women to be barbarians, who cut off one of their breasts in order to use their bow and arrows more proficiently. In fact, they merely bind one down in order to keep it out of the way when drawing back their bowstrings.

I always find myself torn over who’s side I’m on when it comes to Troy. Do I pity Menelaus, the poor king played for a fool by his wife and her lover, or do I feel for the two star-crossed lovers, intent on being together until their final breath (and that of most the kingdom of Troy…)?

In Tomlinson’s version I find there to be a balance of personalities. We see the selfish and arrogant side of the Queen of Sparta and the Prince of Troy, putting their love before the safety of their people and even their family. But we also see glimpses of humanity and kindness, which I find are missing from a lot of versions of this story. Most I have read make the couple out to be spoilt and spiteful towards anyone but themselves, in an obvious way to make us feel for every other character trapped within the city’s walls. But in The Moon Riders, we are reminded that each character is a human being, capable of empathy, despite their flaws.

As well as following Myrina as she grows and develops into a strong and skilled warrior, there’s also a little bit of romance thrown in, and the book has it’s fair share of tragedy too. Exactly the formula for a gripping read, one you’ll struggle to put down until it’s finished.

There is also a sequel, which delves into the aftermath of Troy’s decimation, continuing Myrina’s journey. I found it equally as enthralling as this one, also well worth a read!

Why You Should Eat At: Rub Smokehouse, Nottingham

I recently ventured over to Nottingham, and found myself eating at Rub Smokehouse. Having been once before, I was more than eager to sample their impressive menu again. I follow them on Facebook, and barely a day goes by that I am not made hungry by their photos of giant plates of delicious food.

In particular, their latest creation of “The Mexican Wall Pizza” had caught my eye. A giant pizza loaded with slider burgers, chicken wings, and shaved rib-eye steak, divided by a wall of nachos topped with cheese, guacamole, sour cream and salsa. I shared this with two others, and we added on some sides of fries, rice and deep fried macaroni cheese.

These dishes are a fraction of the wonderful delights on offer at this restaurant, a truly marvellous place for making all your food related dreams come true!

We found this more than enough between the three of us, and had to rest before having dessert! Unfortunately, when we did order our desserts they took quite a while to arrive, and as we had plans after the meal we were forced to rush eating them. Even more unfortunate was that not one of us got what we ordered. I intended to have an Oreo Black Forest Croizzone (a cross between a croissant and calzone). One of my friends ordered the Reese’s Peanut Butter Croizzone, and the other ordered a Brownie Heaven Sausage Roll.

The first problem was that after waiting a while we were informed that they had ran out of the brownie sausage rolls. As we were pushed for time, we cancelled that dessert and shared the two between us. The second problem was that the other two desserts got mixed up and we ended up with the wrong fillings in our Croizzones. I’m sure if we had said something, the lovely people at Rub would have sorted it out, but by that time we were eager to pay the bill and head off. Despite the mix-up, the food was delicious from beginning to end.

The decor of the place is colourful and inviting, setting the scene of an American Diner. There’s plenty to look at, and seating-wise there was a choice of a booth or a table with plastic chairs, much like the ones I remember from my primary school dinner hall.

Having recently seen the Nugzilla Challenge (an attempt to eat a massive chicken nugget in under 10 minutes) added to their menu, I am more than tempted to pay them another visit soon…

Why You Should Read: His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

This review is on the brief side, as some of the things I wanted to say I enjoyed about these books are best left for you to find out for yourself. I’d hate to ruin the journey for you!

I first read this fantasy series as a teenager, and loved it. Having now reread it, I love it even more and have picked up on a lot of little things that went over my head the first time. The series spans over three books, focusing on Lyra, a young girl destined to play a big part in the fate of humanity. From the second book onwards, we also follow Will, of a similar age to Lyra and of likewise importance.

The overall story that develops is one that explores the idea of parallel universes and what might happen if doors between these worlds are opened and left open…

The main themes of His Dark Materials are the classic Good vs Evil, the innocence of childhood, and the difficulties of puberty and reaching adulthood. Heaven and Hell feature quite heavily in the second and third books, which make it apparent that Pullman was a John Milton fan. In a way, I’d say this trilogy is Pullman’s representation of a plausible modern sequel for Paradise Lost.

From beginning to end, these books gripped me with their unique ideas, such as a world where our souls live outside of our bodies and take the form of animals. They also contained a mix of familiar ideas, executed in a satisfyingly accurate way, such as the heartbreaking emotions induced by lost loved ones. Each character is unique, no matter how small a role they had, and each was real enough to find relatable in some way.

There’s a BBC TV show adaptation of the series in production, and another trilogy involving some of the same characters such Lyra, is due out soon (the first one should be out in October). If you’ve not already given them a read, then now is the time, and if you have already, then perhaps now is the time, like it was for myself, to revisit this magical series. The perfect way to relax and escape to another reality this summer!

Why You Should Eat At: Emily’s Steakhouse, Derby

It took me 10 years, but I finally got around to eating at Emily’s Steakhouse. I am a classic victim of ‘life passing me by’, and when it dawned on me that I still had not been, I decided this had to change. I’m so glad this decision was made, as I really enjoyed my visit.

The premises themselves are small, but the best has been made of the space and the distance between tables maintains that feeling of privacy. When I mentioned to family where we were going, someone made the remark, ‘is that the one that looks like someone’s front room?’ I now understand what they mean, as it has a very homely feel to it, and we were sat right next to a front door that seemed to be no longer in use. Still, it was a welcoming environment to relax and dine in.

We were met by Emily herself when we arrived, and had a chuckle that the table was booked under my name, also Emily. We were seated straight away, and drinks orders were taken. I’ve never been one to be fussed by the vessels of my food and drink, but I really liked their glasses! There was something cute and unique about them. It gave a classy feel to the restaurant.


The staff were friendly and attentive, without the dreaded hovering. A rarity these days, as many places seem to force their staff to barge in with questions about your enjoyment of a meal, just as you’ve taken a ginormous bite… No, Emily’s was a much more relaxed experience.

We couldn’t resist trying the starters, as there were a few tantalising options. I went for the Crab Pot with Toast, and I was in heaven. It was fresh tasting and full of flavour, with just the right ratio of crab to toast. It perfectly whetted my appetite, getting me geared up for the next round.


The main menu had a selection of steaks and burgers, with a few non-beef. I couldn’t go to a steakhouse and not order the steak, so I went for the rump with a side of chips. I asked for mine to be medium cooked, which came as ordered, and my friends were also happy with theirs. A thing I love about this place is that they openly advertise they don’t want you to suffer in silence. If you’re steak is not cooked to your satisfaction, they would rather you said something and have the issue resolved. ‘Subject to 80% not eaten… We make strenuous efforts to strive for the best cuts to ensure quality but ultimately cannot eat into your steak to quality control.’ I love a menu with a sense of humour, it adds character to the restaurant and creates a friendly vibe.


Chips are a big deal to me. Serve me bad chips and I will likely never return. Emily’s Steakhouse do amazing chips, I was delighted to find. Golden brown, crisp and fluffy potato, with a combination of almost crisp like pieces of sweet potato. I love the idea of serving a mixture of both, as it can be hard to choose between the two.

There’s a desert menu too, consisting of the usual suspects of ice-cream, sponge puddings and crumbles. Unfortunately, we were too stuffed to give them a sample. There’s even the option of Cuban Habanos Cigars, if you that’s your thing. I was intrigued, but decided to pass this time.

We left extremely satisfied with our venture out, and I can’t wait to go back again. I’ve seen that they do a £7 Basket Menu on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 6pm, what better excuse to return?

Why You Should Eat At: The Joiner’s Arms, Quarndon

I have lived in the area all my life, and seen this pub transform from a meeting place for the locals to have a quiet pint, to a quirky and busy gastropub. As much as I enjoyed the evenings of sitting in my pyjamas and having a drink whilst playing board games with my friends, I am rather happy and proud that the Joiner’s has become so successful. I have not attempted going to the Joiner’s Arms in my pyjamas since its takeover, but I suspect I would be asked to leave.

The pub used to have the typical local boozer decor of gaudily patterned carpets and long benches that lined the walls, but all of this was torn out and stripped back to reveal the original brickwork and wooden floorboards. It’s cute, and helps open up the rooms, balancing out the low, wide-beamed ceiling.

There is a specific area for dining in, although you can sit anywhere inside or outside to eat. We were seated in the extension, which from the outside looks like a large wedding tent, but gives no impression of this from within. Walking through to this area, we found ourselves transported to the Amazon Rainforest, or at least Derbyshire’s equivalent. There were trees and plants lining the room and down the centre. I quite enjoyed the privacy and separation between tables this created.  It was not until we sat down, that I noticed the ceiling had been decorated with lights to look like a starry sky. We did not stay until sunset, but I can imagine it creates a soothing and relaxing atmosphere to relax with a glass of wine after a meal.

Decor aside, let’s discuss food! I have a passion for excellent food, with it being one of the things that excites me the most in life. I very rarely find eateries that leave me eager to go back, but I cannot get this place out of my head. They have a wide selection of starters, and the choices made by myself and my companions varied from mussels in a creamy onion and white wine sauce, to a spicy Thai beef salad. I went for the crab yakitori stick, expecting it to be a deep fried formation of crab meat, but was amused to be presented with a whole crab in tempura batter. It was a small crab, the sort of size you would expect as a starter. It tasted fresh, with a crisp coating and flavoursome meat within. I was not disappointed. I also got a sneaky dip of bread in the mussels’ sauce, talk about food envy! There was so much flavour, despite not being a mussels fan I may have to give that one a try on my next visit.

Joiners- Crab

For my main I went for a pizza. These are the only pizzas that leave me craving more. Often I get bored halfway through, and prefer to have a side of chips to make things more interesting, but again I found the food to be bursting with flavour. They have a wide choice of pizzas, all with a geographical themed name. I couldn’t resist the Havana: sliced beef fillet with rocket and a drizzle of balsamic. This combination was delicious, I can’t believe how perfectly they go. The beef was so tender and moreish, that even though I felt stuffed halfway through, my taste buds willed me to continue. Luckily, the Joiner’s Arms do cute little takeaway boxes (or large ones if you wish to order a pizza to go). That was me sorted for lunch the next day!

Joiners- Pizza

Unfortunately, I had no room for dessert, but as we had mentioned when booking that we were celebrating a birthday, a surprise scoop of gelato was brought out on a wooden board, complete with ‘Happy Birthday’ written in a red fruit coulis!

All in all, we left full and satisfied. The food arrived promptly enough, with almost immediate arrival of our mains after our starters. The staff were friendly and attentive, checking up on us without that hovery feeling some over keen places provide at no extra charge… Their drinks menu has something for everyone, and it is more than likely you will leave having tried something new. They have their own recipe for homemade lemonade, a clear favourite amongst many.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time at the Joiner’s Arms from beginning to end, and it is high on my list of recommendations for that special somewhere for a memorable night out. It is a popular venue, and therefore often busy, so I advise booking in advance. With the summer months fast approaching, you should definitely make use of the outdoor seating area, with complimentary blankets and hot water bottles!

Joiners- Pizza Box

Starters ranged from £2-7, and mains from £8.50-26 (I’m looking at you, 8oz Premium Fillet!)

Why You Should Read: Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban

Riddley Walker may just be the most entertainingly slow book I will ever read. Not in plot or pace, but in the way I read it. This was not my choice, but the style of Hoban’s writing working its magic on me. I had to read it slowly.

As the first person narrator of this tale, Riddley puts his thoughts and memories into words in such a way that I was forced into his mind. I was compelled to hear what I assumed his voice sounds like, all because of how my brain interpreted the pronunciation of his unique spellings. He writes phonetically, precisely as the words sound spoken with the accent he and his people have. My favourite of all Riddley-words is “hisper”, used to describe the sound of falling rain, or someone whispering. The poetic onomatopoeia of it sends a shiver through me. I love it.

If I read a page too fast, or tried to skim read, I found myself having to go back and try again, as I hadn’t allowed my brain enough time to absorb his words. To begin with, they required interpretation, and by considering each carefully chosen word in a sentence, the context made their meaning clear. But in no way did this hinder the experience of reading. It wasn’t difficult to do, it simply meant paying attention. I love that I had to work for the story to show itself, as I could have easily glossed over most of the quirky details that make this book so exciting.

The story itself is one of many possible futures that may await us. In this one (2000 years after a nuclear war), the ability to read and write has been lost to most. Interestingly, because of this Riddley is seen as almost an academic type by the more physical labourers amongst his people. For me, the story was a chain reaction of unfortunate events. I would have felt sorry for Riddley, but he never let any of it get to him, he didn’t need my pity.

It all begins with the successful hunt of a boar, and ends with an unsuccessful puppet show. Intrigued? You should be. To summarise the plot as succinctly as I can, I would say it was Riddley’s telling of the journey he went on to prevent the rediscovery of an ancient weapon.

I will not spoil for you the greatest secret that revealed itself to me when reading this book. I will not tell you where it is set. To those familiar with the area, you will probably figure it out not long into the book. However, I am not great with geography and it perhaps took me a little longer than most. I had my suspicions for a while, and then it all fell into place. I was ecstatic.

This book is weird, and great, and I loved every page of it. Reading will never be the same for me again.

Russell Hoban was a genius, and now another inspiration for me as a writer.