Next up in the “Posts I should have written ages ago, but life got in the way” category is a run-through of one of my favourite blogging events of 2017; a Winter Workshop tour of small businesses in Nottingham with “It’s In Nottingham”.
Once upon a time I wrote a guest post for Steph from Steph’s World, all about my favourite things to do in Nottingham. In this post, I mentioned how Nottingham has a great selection of independent and small businesses as well as the more generic, corporate places.
I know there are many of these businesses that I haven’t had the opportunity to visit yet, so I was very excited to be invited by It’s In Nottingham to attend their Winter Workshop tour of Nottingham to celebrate Small Business Saturday. 12 local bloggers from all niches were invited to come along and experience workshops with four fabulous independent businesses.
We all met up in the Broadmarsh centre and were then taken to our first destination, Made In Nottingham, a design store, supporting local makers and businesses. I’ve heard of the shop before but never actually been. It was full of so many beautifully hand crafted items, including jewellery, ornaments and candles.
I was very tempted by all of the prettiness, although I managed to restrain myself (well, almost – I did buy a cute Christmas pin made from a bottle top.) We all had the chance to make our own Small Business Saturday badge and then it was time to move on to our second destination.
We arrived at The Malt Cross a little early, so we were treated to a delicious glass of mulled wine while we waited for our afternoon tea to be served. I absolutely love mulled wine but can sometimes find it a little strong. This particular blend was perfect and I could have finished a whole barrel of the stuff!
Before long, the afternoon tea was brought out and there was plenty of it! There was a fantastic mix of sandwiches, including gluten free and vegetarian options. We were also given generous scones with a variety of jams (which is unusual) and the most amazing seleciton of cakes I’ve seen in a long time.
We were spoiled for choice with chocolate cake, lemon cake, carrot cake, mince pies and lots of other miniature treats. There was no way we could eat it all, but I certainly gave it a good go. As a bit of an afternoon tea expert, this is definitely one I’d like to try again and will hopefully get to take the family one day.
I’d never been to our third stop of the day before, the Studio Chocolate workshop so I knew absolutely nothing about it, but being a bit of a chocoholic I was sure I was going to love it. We were greeted by Ellie, the owner who told us we would be sampling some different chocolates and then having a go at making our own!
Some of the bloggers opted to have a glass of fizz on arrival, but I decided to try a hot chocolate instead and boy, am I glad I did! This was no ordinary chocolate. I was shown one of Studio Chocolate’s fabulous Hot Chocolate bombs, which start of as a huge ball of chocolate and end as a delicious chocolate drink, including marshmallows! I’ll definitely be picking up a few of those for Christmas! (Update – I popped in after Christmas and bought two Chocolate bombs – a Gingerbread and a Mint and I’m now saving them for a special occasion. Updated Update – I drank them last night. They were AMAZING!!)
The chocolate tasting confirmed what I already knew. I have a very sweet tooth and bitter, dark, pure chocolate is not for me. However I could have happily eaten a cartload of those milk chocolate buttons! After munching our way through the samples it was time to get stuck in and get very, very messy making our own truffles.
We were each given eight little chocolate shells which we could then fill with a variety of different fillings including cherry, salted caramel and even pumpkin spice! Once our chocolates were filled we dipped them in a big bowl of chocolate (and got covered in the stuff) before dusting them with a variety of coloured dusts. We popped them in a bag, tied it up with a pretty ribbon and Voila! Just call me Willy Wonka!
Seriously though, I’m not a natural chocolatier and will certainly not be giving up my day job. Still, we had a lot of fun and a lot of laughs and I would highly recommend checking out the Studio Chocolate website to read up on the various chocolate making sessions they offer.
Our final destination for the day was The Beauty Temple for a spot of pampering. Last year I was invited to the launch event of the Dapperly branch of The Beauty Temple but I’d never actually been to the Nottingham Centre branch before.
As with the Mapperley branch, I absolutely loved the classic and elegant decor in The Beauty Temple. It creates the perfect atmosphere to relax and indulge in some me-time, especially when you’re handed one of their signature “Glitterbomb” cocktails.
We each got to choose two of their treatments to enjoy. I chose the Glitterball hand massage and a mini makeover which were both fabulous. (although I forgot to take any photos as I was enjoying myself far too much)
Sadly all too soon our day was over. It really was one of the most brilliantly organised events I’ve ever been to and our guides, Kelly and Natalie made sure we had everything we needed. We were also each given a goody bag featuring a range of fabulous products from independent businesses around Nottingham. We were thoroughly spoiled and this will be the event that sets the bar for all future blogging events.
Thank you so much to all of the wonderful businesses who took the time to show us what they do and make sure we all had a brilliant time. This event has really given me a new appreciation of small businesses and I’ll definitely try to “support local” more in the future.
One unexpected, but much appreciated outcome of the day is that I met a group of truly amazing, welcoming bloggers. The bloggers in our group came from a diverse range of genres and had follower sizes on a scale from “OMG these people are famous” to “Sorry, who?” (That would be me, in case you’re wondering.)
When I first saw the names of the people invited I was a little intimidated and worried that some of the bigger bloggers might not want to associate with an unknown like me. I really had nothing to worry about. We all hit it off really well and actually all met up again over Christmas for a fuddle and a catch up. We’re hoping to make it a regular occurrence and our next meet up is planned for a few weeks time.