Now, Betty’s is well known for it’s cakes, it’s pastries, the Afternoon tea. But what a lot of people don’t realise is that their heritage actually encompasses not only Yorkshire, but also one of my most favourite countries – Switzerland. The founder of Betty’s was indeed Swiss and their influence still shines through on the menu today. From luxurious chocolates to a hearty rösti to traditional Bircher muesli, there’s hidden Swiss delights throughout the menu.
And with it being a bitterly cold afteroon and our trip to Switzerland still a few months away (our visit was shamefully nearly a year ago!) it would have been rude not to indulge…
It was a tough decision, but in the end we were both happy with our plates of food.
I went for the Swiss Alpine Macaroni, with Penne pasta, dry-cured bacon, new potatoes and a rich cream
sauce, with copious amounts of melted Raclette cheese. Oh my. This was good. However first thought of putting potatoes into a cheesy pasta dish deserves a medal. The bacon was thick, so that it was both crisp and juicy. The pasta was perfectly cooked. The cheese sauce strong, but not too overpowering. I’d happily eat this again. And again. And again.
W ordered the Bacon & Raclette Rösti – A Swiss speciality of grated potato, Gruyère cheese and cream,
pan-fried with bacon and topped with melted Raclette cheese. This, with the addition of the cream, was richer than the ones we’ve tried in Switzerland, but delicious none-the-less. I’ve just checked their current ‘specials’ menu and there’s a glorious sounding Turkey & Cranberry Rösti (yes, I am writing this review on my Christmas break, Lord knows when I’ll actually get round to posting it).
We’d planned to order a small selection from the Cake Trolley for pudding, but these mains were rib-busting (in a good way!) and we were far too full. Another time that Engadine Torte will be mine!
Have you ever been to Betty’s? Did you stick to tea and cake, or try some of their Swiss dishes?
Oh Brighton. With the exception of Edinburgh (and London of course!) it’s probably my favourite UK city. I mean, gorgeous shops to browse, sea to paddle in AND fish’n’chips to nom on?! There’s not a lot more this gal can ask for!
Now, generally I just spend a few hours. With one of my best friends living close to Brighton, the other in Kent and me in London, our meetups are split over the three locations. It generally means we spend a lot of time catching up (and shopping!) and not a huge amount of time enjoying where we actually are. That said, my main holiday of 2016 was a few days in Brighton – and there’s definitely enough for a short-break…
1. Go up the British Airways i360
Now, I’m in two minds about this one. We went up a few weeks ago, and whilst the views are stunning – it’s over-priced. At £13.50 for an on-the-day student ticket it was an expensive half-an hour. With no shade in the ‘holding pen’ before you board and it being basically a fish-bowl it was also extremely hot. Perhaps as a date-night (taking advantage of the cocktail bar) or timing it for sunset would be better!
2. Wander Around The Lanes
Oh, the lanes. My favourite part of Brighton. I’ve enjoyed many hours spent wandering around the jewellery lanes, staring at all the sparkly-pretty things. However it’s the ones further away from the seafront that I love. Cute homeware stores, vintage clothing, mulled wine in winter – it’s my idea of heaven.
3. Relax on the Beach & Explore the Pier
Obviously I can’t do a post on Brighton and mention either the beach or the pier! I’ve spent many hours on Brighton beach – watching the sunset with W way back in 2012, sunbathing, catching up with my besties and eating far too many fish and chips! If you’re there for the day then I recommend pitching up early to get a good spot (it gets insanely busy in the summer – though walking towards Hove means it’s a lot quieter!). I’d also spend the pennies on some chairs, at only £2.50 for the day they are definitely worth it.
Then there’s the pier. I can never resist a round on the two-penny machines – and whilst the rides are over-priced they can be fun. There will be forever a soft-spot in my heart for my first loop-the-loop rollercoaster!
4. Play Mini-Golf
I do love a bit of mini-golf, and Brighton’s one was a goodie – and not just because I won! I’d recommend avoiding the one half way down the Volk’s Railway as we thought it was horrendously expensive for a game!
5. Get the Train to the Marina
The Volk’s Railway, just to the east of the pier, is Britain’s oldest electronic railway. Originally built in 1883 it runs from near the pier to the marina – so is a great way to see more of the seafront. Note that it’s currently closed for restoration!
Fun fact: me and W took a picnic up to this end of the beach last year. We were halfway through before we realised we’d stumbled into the nudist area…
6. Visit The Sealife Centre
Now again this is something that I question is worth the money – but only because I think the other centres are a little better – Brighton’s is a little small and cramped for my liking. That said we enjoyed a turtle feeding demonstration and, as we got in at 9am, it was a relatively quiet way to spend a few hours before the sun came out.
7. Walk Through the South Downs
I confess I’ve never actually done this – but this bit of countryside looks SO pretty from the train (and i360!) that I’ve always wanted to do it. There’s plenty of routes, plus the 100 miles of the South Downs Way to explore. There’s even foodie routes connecting pubs and afternoon-tea rooms! Perhaps that’s a goal to achieve in 2018…
8. Have a Night On the Town
Another one I confess I haven’t done, but Brighton is famous for it’s nights out. If you’re up for a quieter evening, try the alcoholic milkshakes at Burger & Cocktails, or All Bar One for strong cocktails and decent music.
9. Explore the Museums
Whilst I much prefer to enjoy my time in Brighton outside, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some proper English weather. Whilst not really marketed well, Brighton does have some pretty good museums. I’ve visited and enjoyed both the Booth Museum of Natural History and the Toy & Model Museum. The Booth Museum is not for the faint-hearted (it’s basically full of taxidermy) but it’s free and I personally found it super-interesting.
10. Eat – Lots!
The key to my heart, if you’ve not already guessed, is food. I’m definitely one of those people who live to eat! Luckily Brighton has a vast array of restaurants to keep all tummies (and budgets) happy. It’s home to some great chain-restaurants (Wahaca and Franco Manca I’m looking at you…) as well as some independents. We’ve loved Wai Kika Moo Kau for vegetarian and vegan food, and there’s enough cake shops in the Lanes to try a new one each visit. We’ve enjoyed afternoon tea, fish’n’chips, and of course there’s Choccywoccydoodah. I’m also desperate to eat at The Salt Room too…
Have you ever been to Brighton? Any hints and tips for my next visit?
I left planning York far too late. We booked trains, booked hotels and then pretty much forgot about the holiday until the week before we left. And that caused panic. We’re both massive foodies so arriving somewhere without any real idea of where we’re eating is a nightmare, not to mention I need several days to look at a menu and decide on what I’m ordering. Not to mention it seemed like a lot of places were closed on Sunday/Monday nights! I panic-asked around (a.k.a tweeted…) and got a few recommendations. Including Skosh.
A quick glance at the menu and we had to visit. The seasonal menu was just full of things we love to eat, all with innotivate little twists, and the price point was so much lower than anywhere similar in London. Problem? The website showed it was fully-booked. I rang anyway (nothing like the lure of delicious food) and secured their Chef’s Table for Sunday lunch. We were sat on high-stools overlooking the cooking and plating area – and actually it was perfect. The stools were comfortable and we could see all the action. I’m definitely doing to be cooking cabbage on a griddle pan in future! But the food. Oh the food…
Skosh is full of ‘snacks’ and ‘small plates’ – the idea is you order 2-3 each (ideally sharing between you!), they are brought out in the most complementary sequence and you can then order more if you fancy. As the menu is (quite rightly!) seasonal a few bits and bobs have changed since we left, and I can’t remember the exact ingredients of some dishes – but there were no duds at all. Absolutely everything was delicious, it was a dining experience I really didn’t want to end! The style of the food is difficult to describe – they’re taking classic British ingredients and giving them a slight Indian and Middle-Eastern twist. Whatever it is, it works!
We started with bread, served with a smooth and creamy butter and gunpowder spice. This was addictively good. Some swear you can tell the quality of the restaurant by it’s bread, and whilst I’m not completely convinced (I’ve had excellent bread and poor food) it did give high hopes. The star here was the gunpowder spice. I couldn’t tell you what was in it, but it was good. So good. Bread and butter hasn’t been the same since.
Our first ‘plate’ was cured halibut, wild garlic, watermelon and black sesame. This salad was light, fresh, flavorsome and delicious. Despite the sweetness from the melon, it was also intensely savoury. Yum. I’ve only recently been able to stomach cured/raw fish and this is the best example I’ve tried. It was also a stunningly presented plate of food – everything we ate was beautiful, but watching this be plated up, flowers placed on using tweezers, really showcased the care and attention used by the chefs.
Second was another ‘snack’ – Skosh fried chicken with a brown butter hollandaise. The chicken was extremely crispy whilst remaining juicy, and the hollandaise so good I scooped the leftovers up with a spoon. It had been passed through a siphon gun so it was light and fluffy, almost mousse like. Perfectly seasoned and just delicious.
Next up was something else from the fryer – crispy saddleback pork and rhubarb ketchup. The ketchup is switched up throughout the seasons, but I thought the rhubarb we ate was spectacular. It cut through the pork with a really sutble sweet-sharp flavour. The pork also fell apart with the slight press of a fork, it’s outer crispy and it’s inner so soft and melt-in-the-mouth.
What followed was W’s dish of the day – Skosh’s take on kedgeree. Some more cured fish (smoked haddock this time), mixed with radish and samphire, served with a crisp, spiced rice cracker and a cured egg yolk. Light, tasty and just delicious. Unfortunately I don’t think this is on the menu anymore, but it was a definite highlight of the meal.
Next was my favourite – and one of the two ‘bigger plates’ we ordered (only really differentiated on the menu by their price point, being around £5 more than the smaller plates). Crisp lamb belly, sumac yoghurt, pickled onion and pomegranate were served with a griddled hispi cabbage. The burnt ends of the cabbage had a bitterness than was perfectly tempered by the sweetness of the pomegranate and richness of the lamb. A kind of summery roast dinner, I loved it!
Whilst not hungry by this point, we did decide to add in another big plate to our original order – mainly because it sounded so intriguing we didn’t want to miss out. A large piece of cod was served ‘tandoor style’ with grilled pineapple, fresh coconut and a perfect lentil dhal. I was a bit suspicious of the pineapple combo (it’s not a fruit I particularly like as it is!) but it worked so well with the heavy spices and the delicate fish. This is a plate that could have easily been inedible had the balance not been right, so it really shows the skill level of the chefs.
And then, of course, it was pudding (we were on holiday after all!). We ordered the Peanut Milkshake with Caramel Donut to kick-start out sweet fix. Both perfectly made, though perhaps the less exciting option…
Much more interesting was the white chocolate sphere with roasted banana and yuzu – a balance of textures, temperatures and flavours that got more delicious and more intriguing as you ate. By far and away one of the best puddings I’ve ever eaten.
We stumbled out, slightly over-full and wishing we could have eaten more. Now if only we had something this good, at this price point, in London…
This little break feels so long ago now. A few days away at the beginning of April, designed to make sure I was relaxed and well-rested ahead of my exam period. We wanted somewhere were we could eat lots and explore – and with cobbled lanes, plenty of museums, interesting little shops, cafes and cosy pubs York fitted the bill perfectly.
The train up from London takes around 2 hours, and booking far enough in advance meant it was cheap. Rooms in a Travelodge were also a bargain (top tip: saying you’re travelling for business generally gets you a room on a ‘quiet’ floor which is great for a good nights sleep). This meant we were free to splurge on good food and wine for our trip – after all we were on holiday!
We kicked off with a meal at York’s up and coming best restaurant, Skosh. They’ve received rave critic reviews despite only opening in 2016 and I can see why. Everything we ate was absolutely delicious, the service fantastic – and we ate at the chef’s table so we could see all the cooking going on. We only managed to get a lunchtime slot as it’s pretty difficult to get a table, but if you can squeeze in it’s well worth it.
The evening we whiled away in Pairings; I would love something like this near me in London. Each order a flight of drink (red wine for me, port for him) and customised our own meat and cheeseboard. Several hours of chatting and giggling later, we both concluded it was the perfect way to spend the first night of our break.
After a quick brunch in Pig & Pastry, we spent our first morning in the Railway Museum. Far more exciting than it sounds, we could have probably spent longer than the morning in there. However seeing as the sun came out and treated us to a very warm afternoon, lazing about in the Park felt like an amazing use of our time. I also picked up a gorgeous bath-bomb from The Yorkshire Soap Company – I had to make advantage of having access to a bath, even in a Travelodge!
Our final day started in Brew & Brownie, before a walk around the City Walls and a mid-morning nap (the breakfasts were huge). The rest of the day was spent wandering the shops, exploring the Shambles and generally enjoying ourselves. Obviously we hadn’t quite eaten enough food, because we grabbed lunch at Betty’s. We avoided the cliche of afternoon tea but enjoyed their Swiss food. I loved my carb heavy Alpine Macaroni, filled with bacon, potatoes and pasta, whilst W’s Rösti was pretty much perfect.
There was a lot we didn’t manage to do in York. We just missed the reopening of the Viking Centre by a matter of days, and we didn’t manage to go and visit the Minster. We did manage (inadvertently I might add!) to have a little kiss under Heart of Yorkshire stained-glass window – legend says if you do you’ll stay together forever, though he’s stuck with me regardless. I’d have also liked to see a couple of museums, and we both want to explore the Yorkshire Moors – guess we’ll just have to head back up there soon!
It’s official, I have fallen completely and utterly in love with London. I was enjoying living down in the Big Smoke, but it took my trip up to the Midlands at Christmas to make me realise just how much I love our capital. And other than waxing lyrical about my love for the city, I’ve decided it’s the perfect timing to pen up some of the underrated areas I’ve found over the last few months.
During my placement year I spent hours in Victoria Station (as I’m sure many of those who rely on Southern rail have!). I only wish I’d ventured outside and down the road before now, I didn’t realise quite how Instagrammable the streets of Victoria and Pimlico are! Plus it doesn’t hurt that both Peggy Porschen and Dominique Ansel are so close!
Ride the “Olympic Slide*”
Way back in December I was invited to Stratford to ride the Arcelor Mittal Orbit. At nearly 180m it’s the world’s longest and tallest tunnel slide – and when they say it’s tall, it’s bloody tall! It takes around 40 seconds to descend the slide, circling around the ArcelorMittal Orbit 12 times through loops and curves, including a tight corkscrew section that definitely got a few screams out of me!
It’s pretty pricey (full disclosure here – I was invited to slide free of charge, but we picked up a ticket for W using his student discount) at £15 per adult, but the views are pretty good, and the slide both exciting and scary in pretty equal measure. Plus it was an excuse to have a quick wander around the Olympic Park, having only visited way back in 2011 on a Geography field trip when it was still a muddy building site! I only wish it hadn’t been quite so foggy on the day we went up, though I quite like the atmospheric pictures I managed to take.
Oh, and there’s now also the change to abseiling down the structure. I’m hugely tempted!
Indulge in Creme Egg Delights on the Southbank
I got super-excited when I first ventured out of the house on the 27th December – because sat by the tills in Waitrose were the Creme Eggs! I haven’t succumbed to the temptation quite yet, but I guarantee I’ll be getting my fix soon. There’s nothing like feeling sick on the sugar overload that is a Creme Egg!
And even more excitingly – the Cadbury Creme Egg Café is back (with a twist!) and this time it’s touring the UK. The Cadbury Creme Egg Hunting Lodge will include a takeaway with an offering of gooey Creme Egg S’mores to-go, with some extra treats if you’ve got enough time to stop awhile. The Lodge will be visiting London, Bristol, Leeds and Edinburgh – unfortunately tickets have sold out but there’s limited space for walk-ins. I know I’ll be queuing!
Walk Between Kensington & Knightsbridge
One of my favourite walks goes from Imperial College, through cobbled streets (lined with the prettiest multi-coloured cottages), coming out just down the road from Harrods. I can indulge several passions in one short trip. Taking Instagram shots of houses, window shopping (shoes are my latest obsession – I’m desperately hunting down the perfect wedding shoes) and browsing some of my favourite homeware boutiques.
I’d also highly recommend a trip to the (free!) Design Museum if you’re in the area. Be warned though, it’s quite tight for space around the exhibits and I’ve heard it’s packed at weekends!
A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on
Get Spendy in Spitalfields
Another one of my favourite places to spend a Sunday afternoon – particularly if it’s raining as other than the short walk from Liverpool Street you’re pretty much undercover the entire time. It’s full of quirky buys (I’m class it as the ‘grown-up’ Camden – though I love Camden just as much), vintage stalls, leather wares, upcoming fashion designers, beauty boutiques, more homeware stores and glorious smelling food popups.
I took a trip with one of my best friends during January and we had the best time browsing, lusting over bits and bobs for our future houses and hunting down a new coat for me. It does’t help that Kontidor and Cook have their store nearby, they make the best brownies…
These are just a handful of some of my favourite bits and bobs to do in London – there’s so much more I have to see (Portobello Market and Kew Gardens are high on my list!).
I’ve been doing my daily commute for just under three months now. It’s not a part of the day I particularly enjoy; I pretty much despise the tube, despite having a relatively ‘easy’ journey. But one thing that has made it bearable is the opportunity to people-watch – I’m such a nosy lady! Over the last month or so I’ve been jotting down humorous notes from my commute, purely because I couldn’t bear not to share them on here!
So, ladies and gents, mind the closing doors and welcome to the life of my commute…
To the Lady with the Earphones
Please be so kind as to NOT run for the train again. For one, you clearly weren’t going to make that train. And two, if your earphone hadn’t gotten caught inside the train, with you on the platform, you wouldn’t have to continue running along the platform attached to the train. If that does happen, please be so kind as to detach your earphones from your phone. You know, the easier option. Rather than wait for someone to hit the emergency stop buttom.
You found your misfortune hilarious that morning. What you don’t seem to understand is that for all those people on that packed train, and the people waiting for the City-bound train behind it, you delayed us all for half an hour. So please, don’t run for the train again.
To the Man Reading an Erotic Novel
Just no. And if it makes 50 Shades look like a fairytale, no, no, no, no, no!
I admit I should probably stop glancing over people’s shoulder to see what they are doing (discreetly, I must add, and only on this particular occasion because I’d left my Kindle on the sofa at home). But what I don’t need to see are a few, ahem, naughty words. What I really don’t need hear after seeing this is your heavy breathing. Please leave it until you’re home.
To The Tube Network (TFL I guess!)
I honestly don’t mind if there are severe delays, as long as I know about them. Being on the platform for 30 minutes with no tube and no explanation isn’t fun. Being stuck halfway to work, unable to go towards work, unable to go backwards to an alternative route, is even worse. If I know that the District Line isn’t going to get me to work on time, I have plenty of options – including one that gives me this view. Far nicer than a sweat armpit (joys of being short!), I’m sure you’d agree…
To The Tourists at The Barriers/Escalators/Doors
Please refrain from getting your map out and checking it whilst blocking the way for people who do know where they are going. Please don’t stand and have a conversation just outside the ticket barrier. I apologise if I bump into you, but if you stand directly in the way there often isn’t enough room to get around you at rush hour.
To The Teenagers on Halloween Weekend
It was 11.30am. It was cold. You were already drunk, very scantily clad (what’s wrong with a ghost costume?!). I appreciate I sound like a moaning minnie here, and actually I don’t mean to be. I’m just very impressed at their dedication to Halloween.
To All Those Who Saw Me Struggle & Looked Away
One thing that has really surprised me has been the amount of guys, usually in their twenties/thirties, who will offer a seat to any females before sitting down themselves. Yes, feminists may be outraged, but I kind of like this old-fashioned chivalry.
Now, let me get one thing clear before I start this rant; I don’t expect to be given a seat. I don’t have a disability, I’m certainly not pregnant, there are many people who normally need a seat before I do. I will always offer my seat up if I feel someone needs it more.
But the other day I clearly could have done with a seat, or a hand, or just some extra space. My study materials had been delivered and I was carrying a very heavy (with weight printed on the side of the box), very awkwardly sized box. It was very difficult to hold, being bigger in circumference than my arms could reach. I managed to get a seat straight off and was unbelievably grateful. Then a heavily pregnant women got on. No-one offered her their seat, so I did. She saw the box on my lap and tried to say no. Still no-one offered her a seat. In the end, she took my seat. I have no problem about that, I don’t really have a problem that the other passengers saw me struggle to stand with said box and continued to ignore it. What I took objected to was the man, who saw me give up that seat, dart in and claim it when the pregnant lady left. Thanks mate.
To Cross-Word Man
There’s a guy I see almost every morning who sits and does the crossword in whatever newspaper he picks up each day. By the time he gets off the tube he invariably has finished it – utmost respect to this man from someone who has never finished a crossword yet.
To The Bum-Squeezers
I’d read a couple of Rachel’s posts about sexual assault on the Tube before, but still had quite a naive attitude towards it. Since September, I’ve had my bum squeezed on no-less than three occasions. I’ve not managed to catch anyone at it yet (they’ll get an earful), but apparently this is acceptable behaviour.
This is one of the reasons why I prefer to get a seat. At least then no-one can grab my ass.
And that is just the result of a few short months commuting from Putney to City. I’m sure they will be a lot more over the coming years, as a shorter commute is unlikely to ever be viable (because I like living on the outskirts – I get a seat!). I have to admit it’s nicer that my previous commute from last summer. And hey, at least these amusing moments lighten up the identical journey, day after day…
PS – all of the pictures within this post were shot on my weekday commute – with the exception of the Putney Bridge one. Because trust me, the platform is NEVER that empty on a weekday! And in the week between scheduling this and getting it live – there’s been a guy with a portable DVD player (I’d forgotten they existed!) alongside a stack of 10 DVDs, and the hilarious platform guy usually found in Victoria was working at Monument. He definitely brightened up my journey home!
Do you have a long commute? Any funny stories to tell?
Playing tourist in what is now our home town felt a little strange at first; dashing around London sight-seeing. The day was born out of us not having a clue what to do – one of the weirdest things about finishing our LDR and moving in together is not making weekend plans in advance.
I decided that I’ve never seen Big Ben close-up (and also thought I’d get a good Instagram shot, #lifeofablogger). Will wanted to go further down the Thames to take some snaps of the architecture for uni. Taking a riverboat tour was the perfect answer – and despite it being the first chilly day of Autumn, it was a good shout. I’m not going to lie, I couldn’t feel my hands by the time we got off the boat, and a steaming cup of tea was pretty much all I could think about. Moaning aside, I loved the tour we went on. It was the cheapest option we found from Westminster Pier (I’m still a student at heart!) and didn’t include a specific tour guide. What it did include, however, was boat staff who knew the interesting little titbits such as where scenes in Oliver Twist were filmed, and that the Spinx around Cleopatra’s Needle are actually the wrong way round from what was intended.
One thing I loved about taking a boat along the Thames was the different perspective I got of the city. It was so obvious how London is a mix of old and new, yet that’s something that’s totally overlooked when I’m wandering around on a daily basis. I couldn’t believe how traditional the buildings in the City were at the waterfront, compared to the modern Walkie Talkie and Cheesegrater. I could also see my own office – I wasn’t aware how tall the building was until I saw it from this perspective!
We got the boat all the way to Greenwich, where we stopped for a quick picnic underneath our umbrella. I feel in love with the bit of Greenwich I saw, and have popped it high on the list for returning to on my next spare weekend (the food market looked insane!). I can imagine it’s pretty magical in the run-up to Christmas too…
Our tourist-ing continued the following weekend, with us heading to Camden for a spot of shopping and street-food eating. We decided to make the most of the unexpectedly warm and sunny day (seriously, it was NOT forecast, but greatly appreciated!) and walk along the canal from Kings Cross. This is undoubtedly one of my favourite walks in London, especially as it involves walking through the spot where W popped the question.
A photo posted by Chloe Ellen (@ninegrandstudent) on
We lunched on Korean Burritos (him) and Fried Chicken & Chips (me) – a decision I did come to regret an hour of so later as my stomach apparently doesn’t love SFC as much as I do. I’m gutted as it meant I couldn’t quite appreciate my Ice-Cream Sandwich as much as I wanted. Guess there’s an excuse to head back…!
I’ve loved playing tourist in London, sure the hoards of actual tourists are annoying (I got jammed against a wall at one point whilst a group were trying to get by, not a highlight of the weekend!), sure there are other European cities that are far prettier. But if definitely made me a bit more appreciative of London, and I’ve now got plenty of other spots on my bucket list to tick off. Kew Gardens is next (thanks Katy for that bit of London based wander-lust!)…
A photo-heavy post, this! I originally wasn’t going to blog about my team-building trip to the Lake District. I didn’t take my camera, I was covered in mud the vast majority of the time, hell I didn’t even take any makeup other than mascara! I took a few snaps on my phone, did the obligatory Instagram shots – and then couldn’t not share. Turns out my phone camera can take some pretty good photos when it feels like it!
With no information bar “take clothes you don’t mind getting wet and muddy” I did spend a good chunk of summer stressing about it, and the best part of £50 stocking up on Primark jogging bottoms and t-shirts. In the end it wasn’t *too* terrifying. Sure, I freaked out whilst climbing a bloody tall tree, y arms ached from canoeing (across Lake Windermere, no less) for days after. I was sleep-deprived, full of cold, and stuffed far-too-full of delicious food (full fry-ups, hot lunches and three course dinners, plus cheese and biscuits – I’m glad I wasn’t trying to squeeze my ass into a skinny jeans!). But it was a damn good break.
Of course, it helped we were in beautiful, stunning surroundings. We were around 100 yards from the shoreline of the Lake, which was serenly misty in the early mornings. I developed the habit of taking my first cup of tea on a short wander, pre-breakfast, which was when most of the photos were taken. If I’m honest, I’m gutted I didn’t take my phone canoeing (because clumsy). The weather we had that afternoon was perfect, hot, sunny, blue skies. The other side of the Lake was just as picturesque. It’s only a shame my phone didn’t manage so well in low no light situations – we went on a 10pm hike up a ‘mountain’ one evening. The stars were breathtaking – you just don’t get a sight like that in London!
FYI, based on previous attempts, I knew I couldn’t rock climb. I’ve never managed to get much further than a couple of moves up a wall, my upper body strength was nil. So when I saw the very tall tree, complete with rock-climbing bits hammered in, and the bell at the top we had to ring, I said “no way.” For me, knowing I would fail, knowing that a whole group of people would see me fail, I couldn’t do it. A lot of encouragement later, I gave it a go. To my surprise, after a bit of coaching from the instructor, I shot up the first half. I began to realise I COULD rock climb. So I looked down. And realised I had a fear of heights. But I managed to pull myself together, I managed to carry on, I managed to ring that bell – and let me tell you, it was the sweetest sound I’d heard in a while.
I’ve never quite made up my mind about whether I’m a city girl or a country-bumpkin, and this trip definitely didn’t help to make that decision. I love London, love the hustle and bustle, I’m ‘dazzled by the bright lights of the city.’ But I love the fresh air, the scenery, the quietness of the countryside.
Are you a country-lover or city-person? Have you ever been to the Lake District?
One of my favourite childhood memories involves loading up picnics and dogs into the car and setting off early for a day of walking, picnicing and fresh air. Invariably we’d forget something (the dog leads, on one memorable occasion). Almost always one of the dogs would hare off after some kind of animal. Quite often the same dog would come strolling back, hopelessly pleased with herself, carrying some kind of smelly dead animal. Quite often those day trips involved a trip to Dovedale, on the southern edge of the Peak District.
Dog drama aside, it was always one of my favourite places to go. I was slightly gutted upon moving, at the age of 10, to be told that it was now over 2 hours away and infeasible for a day trip. I’ve visited so many places since, but Dovedale stayed with me. And when looking for a place to break up our journey up North, it turned out to be the perfect place.
We didn’t walk as far as I’d hoped, but we got a good three miles in before hunger pangs set in and the clouds got dark. In retrospect, we’re glad we turned back when we did as the rain on our return was rather heavy, and the path was getting a lot busier – it paid to get there early!
It was as beautiful as I remembered. Rolling hills, calm river, those iconic stepping stones – though they’ve definitely been evened out at some point over the last 12 years! Something about being by water, whether it’s a lake, river or the sea, just makes me feel so much more peaceful. And this was just wonderful. There was hardly anyone around on our outward walk, leaving us to amble in companionable silence or chat quietly. Perfection!
I’d forgotten quite how beautiful the Peak District is. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy a decent walk. I’m now working on a walking holiday next year – how wonderful would a short break be, plenty of exercise, nice B&B’s (no camping here!) and good food? Sounds like a perfect holiday to me…
Have you ever been to Dovedale or the Peak District? Where’s your favourite spot in the UK?
What seems like rather a long time ago now, way back in August, we took a last little road trip in W’s car (Steve the Seat has now found a new home, sob). We headed up to where his dad’s family is originally from, Bolton, whilst stopping off at one of the favourite place of my childhood (more about that next week), spending some time in Manchester and generally just exploring the North.
It’s strange, whilst away at uni I actually classed myself as a Northern girl. I said ‘bath’ rather than ‘b-arth’ (I hate people adding the “r” in once you get south of Leicester, my sister had trouble learning how to spell in primary school due to it!). I liked proper Yorkshire tea. I enjoy chip butties. And all my friends where very definitely from the South. Yet actually, I’ve seen very little of the North at all. I mean, I adore Edinburgh, I’ve visited and loved Northumberland, and the Lake Disrict always made for a good (if slightly wet) family holiday with the dogs. But other than that, my experience remains very firmly in the Midlands. This visit definitely persuaded me to try and change that though!
The countryside around Bolton was stunning; if I’m honest not at all what I expected. Rolling hills, gorgeous views, open countryside, plenty of green. Give me a good hill over a flat landscape any day! Bolton was also a pleasant surprise – a decent museum to escape the rain in, a rather enviable new shopping centre in the old market place. And pasties. The Carrs Pasty is something I’ve only ad when W’s dad visited and brought them back for the freezer. And they’re delicious. We made a point to visit for lunch on our first day, then return before starting our journey home to stock up. Crisp buttery pastry, and a mash’n’mince filling that’s intensely savoury. So very different from my beloved Cornish pasty, but so very good.
Manchester, however, is a city I fell suddenly and unexpectedly in love with. I loved the hustle and bustle (that lacked the franticness of London). The Arndale had every shop I could want. There were so many restaurants I wanted to try. But most of all I adored the stark contrasts between the old and the new. Sparkly new offices being built next to the stunning cathedral. I wish I could have stayed longer, explored the city more. I only had a few hours; it definitely wasn’t enough.
In need to (again) escape the rain we found what is perhaps the most Instarammable teashop I’ve ever been in. Enviable tiles, distressed wood, hanging light-bulbs. But most importantly, the tea was damn good. Everything was loose-lead, provided with an ‘egg timer’ to allow it to brew correctly. My standard English Breakfast was delicious. W’s Hibiscus was sweet and fruity, vivid in colour and so refreshing. The cakes looked gorgeous, but with an evening of Italian food ahead we didn’t indulge. Guess I’ll have to go back soon!
We spent our last morning being all cultural. We visited Salford Quays, had a wander around Media City (including a really rather yummy mac’n’cheese lunch at Pret), and viewed the Lowry Gallery. One of my favourite artists, I really enjoyed the chance to see much more of his work. Plus I couldn’t resist a quick browse in the outlet stores. Finally picking up a pair of heeled brogues I’d been coverting for years for an absolute bargain ended our little trip perfectly!
A gorgeous (though a little chilly) few days. I even got my chip butty!
Have you explored much of North UK? Anywhere you’d recommend?