This title feels very misleading, doesn’t it? Ha!
Happy new year! Wow, as if it’s 2021!? Time flies when you’re isolated inside your home! Ha, but all jokes aside, 2020 has been SUCH a year, hasn’t it?
Even though we have spent the majority of time at home, there were still some great snippets that made me smile during the year and I did manage to navigate to some new and old favourite places in Northamptonshire.
So I thought it would be nice to do a little round up of the year, share what new places I managed check out (for a little bit of inspiration when we hopefully come out of tier 4) and share some of the places I’ve been to time and time again but kept me sane during the year.
I’ll also be sharing some of the best eats of 2020 and let me tell you, I ate ALOT (which you can gather from my evident lockdown weight gain) but let’s face it, you weren’t in lockdown if you didn’t indulge in a few takeaways?
Let’s hope 2021 will be another great year of navigating Northamptonshire!
Here are my top Northamptonshire eats and navigation of 2020!
THE place in Northamptonshire to get a banging Sunday roast dinner!
I kicked off the year by going on a veganuary adventure around Northamptonshire with fellow foodie instagrammer, Lauren from Cooking It Vegan and one of our first stops was The Lamplighter in Northampton who not only do a great regular roast, but a stunning vegan roast too!
I went for my first ever nut roast, which was an interesting experience, but it meant I could say I tried it – but the Lamplighter will time and time again be one of the best places to go if you’re looking for a roast fix.
You can find The Lamplighter at 66 Overstone Road, Northampton, NN1 3JS
Read more: The Best Sunday Roast’s in Northamptonshire
2020 was the year where I was introduced to Juhttps://www.nicolenavigates.com/june-plum-wellingborough/ne Plum and fell in love!
At the start of the year, the lovely Jodi kindly invited me for a press meal where I got my first taste of what June Plum was all about. Expect full Jamaican vibes, with a colourful decor and extremely lovely staff!
From that first visit, we ended up becoming loyal fans of June Plum and despite the distance and lockdown, we tried our best to visit whenever we could.
My best memory from June Plum was probably my first experience, because I distinctly remember the feeling when I first tried their menu and how it rocked my taste buds. One of my favourites has to be the Jerk Pork Scotch Egg, Devilled White Bait and of course, their Curried Goat!
You won’t find a better Caribbean restaurant – we love it and can’t wait to visit again in 2021 when we can!
You can find June Plum on 31-32 Cambridge Street, Wellingborough, NN8 1DW
Pinch My Bun
Another 2020 discovery and new Northamptonshire eat!
Pinch My Bun is another place I didn’t get to visit enough but one takeaway I definitely want to treat myself to again this year. Our first visit was a quick one before I had an interview on BBC Radio Northampton, but a memorable one.
Think Surf and Turf street food, right in Northampton!
We obviously had to try their burgers and it’s definitely something you should try too, especially their Katsu Burger and Double Trouble Cheese Burger! Another top highlight was their Mac & Cheese too!
You can also order cocktails, craft beer and street food such as their LobStar Roll, which is something I indulged in! You’ve got such a variety here that there is something for everyone, hence why it makes my top eats in Northamptonshire of 2020.
As of now, Pinch My Bun is operating takeaway only as they are due to move to a new establishment once restrictions are lifted. I can’t wait to see where their new home will be!
Kings Head, Syresham
Syresham is a place I usually find myself heading to often during September – February time when I am performing in pantomime, so luckily, we got to perform our pantomime last year and whilst doing so, I got to visit the local pub!
It was one that was on my Northamptonshire Bucket List and was very pleased I got the opportunity to visit as it was worth the wait!
Expect cosy, village pub vibes inside, with a 5* menu that uses local produce, with wonderful staff and a warm atmosphere. We had one of our best meals here, hence why it’s on the list.
You can find The Kings Head Syresham on 2 Abbey Road, Syresham, Brackley, NN13 5HW.
We have various Indian restaurants based in Towcester, but the one that stood out this year and never let us down was The Ganges.
The Ganges is a family-run Indian Restaurant and takeaway which we had the pleasure of both visiting before the lockdown, as well as ordering from various times.
They have the flavours and choices of chef recommendations and traditional dishes absolutely spot on, with portion sizes to smile over.
One of my highlights has to be their Garlic Lamb Bhuna and from someone who isn’t a massive fan of Bombay Potatoes in general – I really like their version!
You may have seen a new restaurant in Towcester open called NN Twelve which is run by the same people who run The Ganges and if their food is anything to go by, I bet this new place will be just as good!
You can order takeaway from The Ganges on Sponne Road, Towcester, NN12 6ED
The Green Room, Brackley
In my opinion, one of the most versatile establishments that offers so much for everyone to enjoy, whether it be breakfast, brunch, lunch, tapas, cocktails and even takeaway hampers!
The Green Room, Brackley was definitely one of our best brunches of the year – their menu has a good variety of options and in previous visits, we have been able to customise what we want on our plates, which I find really good if you fancy a mix up.
I’ve had the best eggs benedict with extra halloumi on top, which is a game changer!
You can find The Green Room, Brackley on 6 Bridge Street, Brackley, NN13 7EP
The Plough, Shutlanger
One of the biggest takeaways we ordered during lockdown – it was a big feed but it’s worth checking out!
A stone’s throw away from Towcester, The Plough in Shutlanger like many businesses managed to adapt during the uncertain times and they have continued to create a stellar takeaway menu which they have changed up throughout the year.
We ordered a burger each, along with a portion of chips and some sides and I even have to admit, we over ordered as it was a BIG feed – so caution before you order. But I can’t deny it all tasted so fresh and so GOOD!
One of the best things about ordering from The Plough, is that they have stock of lots of local producers, so it was great to order a bottle or two of Saxby’s Cider to enjoy with our meal!
I’m really hoping once restrictions have been lifted, we can enjoy an experience eating inside the restaurant.
You can find The Plough, Shutlanger on 5 Main Road, Shutlanger, Towcester, NN12 7RU.
The Red Lion, Yardley Hastings
Just before Christmas and after the November lockdown, I was kindly invited to the opening night of the newly refurbished Red Lion in Yardley Hastings, which had also been taken over by new management.
I had never visited before, so I didn’t have many expectations, but I was pretty mesmerised at the wonderful decor and ambience it had inside.
We enjoyed our tasters and visit so much, we had full intentions of booking and coming for our 3 year anniversary, but sadly, tier restrictions came in once again meaning our plans had been cancelled.
They have recently adapted to a takeaway menu, which sadly, is a bit far for us to grab and go, but I suspect we will be heading back for a proper experience once and when we can!
You can find The Red Lion, Yardley Hastings on 89 High Street, Yardley Hastings, Northampton, NN7 1ER.
Bread & Circus Daventry
Another fantastic 2020 discovery which was on my Northamptonshire bucket list and somewhere to visit if you love freshly made, sourdough pizzas!
Bread & Circus is based in Daventry and by day, it’s a french-inspired bakery selling homemade sourdough bread, pastries, cakes and other delicious sweet treats!
Then by night, it turns into a full pizzeria restaurant that offers a variety of vegetarian and vegan topped pizzas made on fresh sourdough.
We visited back in February and it blew our minds, firstly, how everything was vegetarian and vegan, including the pepperoni pizza which they cleverly named Peppernomi, but also how incredibly fresh everything tasted – my four cheese pizza has to be one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had!
It was recently taken over by new management just before the end of the year, so I hope to go and visit again (when restrictions are lifted) and see how it’s changed since!
You can find Bread & Circus Daventry on 28 Sheaf Street, Daventry, NN11 4AB
We had a fantastic brunch spread which we picked up back in July, as I really fancied a brunch spread in bed on my birthday weekend.
It was well worth it and one of the highlights of the year!
Amy does so well in accommodating exactly what you fancy in your spread and takes into consideration any allergies as well as items you might not enjoy as much, but she nails it every time for us!
The brunch box was exceptional because, for something that tasted so good, a lot of the items we had were quite healthy as it contained lots of fruit which I thoroughly enjoyed. But I also indulged in the mini pancake bites which came with gooey chocolate, caramel and biscoff sauce.
It’s a perfect alternative for when we can’t go and eat out at the moment and I’m sure it won’t be the last time I order from Spread!
Royal & Derngate
Oh how I miss theatre!
The start of 2020 was such a good time for watching theatre! I’m very fortunate I get given press tickets in exchange for reviews, so I started the year reviewing quite a few shows when Royal & Derngate was at it’s best.
I’m praying and hoping 2021 will have a glimpse of local theatre back!
You can find Royal & Derngate on Guildhall Road, Northampton, NN1 1DP
One of our regular walks during lockdown and an absolutely serene place to visit during the Spring and Summer.
Stoke Bruene is so picturesque and full of hidden walks!
One of our regular walks is parking up behind the Boat Inn and taking a walk past the Canal Museum and the Canal Museum, past the canal itself where you can spot all the river boats passing by or docked up. Josh and I constantly have a conversation of whether we will ever live and travel in a canal boat one day!
If you keep going further up, you can walk towards as far as Blisworth and make it into a whole trek! It’s especially a good one to do when we’re in tier 4!
Read more: The Best Outdoor Spaces in Northamptonshire
I know, I know – I’m late to the party! 2020 was the year that I finally visited Vintage Retreat and it’s become one of my local favourites!
For all things beautiful, for all the treasure and bits and bobs to look at, Vintage Retreat offers loads of independent traders who have something for gifting and for your home. You can easily get lost!
I’ve found lovely items from clothing, items for our home and much more. It’s been one of the best discoveries made in 2020.
You can find Vintage Retreat at Business Centre, Lower Harding Street, Northampton, NN1 2JL.
York Cottage Spa
The ultimate relaxing day off!
This was when restrictions were lifted for the small amount of time we had, but it was well worth booking a day off to go and relax. It’s a family-run business that runs private spa which you can book for your bubble and enjoy without any interruptions from other people.
Included in our visit was a lovely massage, full use of the spa and refreshments. I wrote a blog all about it below.
I won a lockdown giveaway of a free spa day at York Cottage Spa and I am SO glad I did as it was well worth the visit!
Read more: A Relaxing Day Off at York Cottage Spa
Northampton’s best street food event kept us going throughout 2020, in all capacities!
BiteStreet NN did an incredible job of adapting with the year’s twists, turns and restrictions – from hosting events at their usual home at Duston Mill when the world was normal, to socially distanced outdoor events there, then finally moving to their Winter home at Northamptonshire County Cricket Ground for indoor table service and drive through takeaways.
When lockdown and everything else was rife, BiteStreet NN was the one event we would always look forward to as it meant experiencing some great street food and getting out of the house!
I’m excited to see that BiteStreet NN will be continuing with their drive through takeaways, with their next event happening this weekend!
You can find BiteStreet NN at The County Ground, Abington Avenue, Northampton, NN1 4PR
Even though 2020 was hard for some people, including myself, as you can see, there was still plenty of lovely things to fill the time with, even when we were in and out of lockdown and restrictions.
I can’t guarantee we’ll be out of this pandemic straight away in 2021, but I think there is hope that there will be more Northamptonshire eats and navigations to be had – whilst keeping safe!