Category Archives: Travel

A Trip to Bolton Abbey

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We live about 20 minutes from one of the most spectacular sights in Yorkshire; The stunning grounds of Bolton Abbey Estate. I remember heading here as a child with my brother and Nana and paddling in the river then daringly crossing the stepping stones and having a picnic in the sunshine.

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With some visitors to Yorkshire staying with us, a visit to Bolton Abbey was top of the list, especially since the sun was shining high in the sky and we had a bucket BBQ to test out.

Situation just north of Ilkley and Skipton in Wharfedale, North Yorkshire, the site has the ruins of a 12th-century Augustinian monastery. As well as the priory, there is a small village with cafes and shops, loads of walking trails and a fairly new Welly Walk for the little ones.

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We parked in the village car park, but ended up walking to the Riverside car park as that is the only place where you are allowed to have a BBQ. If you want to BBQ, then definitely park there in the first place as it is a bit of a walk for little legs.

The water was chilly but pretty clear and there were tons of families cooling down in the afternoon sun. We did the rather brilliant Welly Walk which looks like it is only on until October 2016. There are series of obstacles in the woods which challenge big and little kids. Chiplet loved the snake maze – where you had to turn back if there was a snake in your way.

I loved being able to take my son to a place that meant so much to me as a child and really wish my Mum and Nana were still around to see the joy on his face when he was skimming stones and paddling. I think perhaps carrying him across the stepping stones whilst 14 weeks pregnant wasn’t the wisest move… I got a bit wobbly in the middle – didn’t realise how far apart the stones were to be honest until I got halfway across.

We will definitely be heading back later in the summer with Grandparents in tow and another BBQ and picnic.

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The Perfect Family Holiday – Entering to be a #markwarnermum

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Anyone who knows my family will know just how important travel and holidays are to us. My husband and I even did our honeymoon BEFORE getting pregnant and getting married – reverse style! We travelled the world and blogged the whole way around– in fact that was what kick-started my blog Dinky Thinks. After blogging as a couple, I decided that I wanted something of my own.

But I digress from the subject in hand! … family holidays.

When I heard that the fantastic Mark Warner were looking for Ambassadors for their 2015 programme, it was time to get my thinking cap on as to what would be our perfect holiday.

When I think about my experiences of travelling with my husband, I see new food, old culture, walking for hours on end, haggling and smiling whilst communicating with the locals, then drinking cocktails and devouring books about the next place we are heading to.  I know that I want to share the excitement of travel and new experiences with Chiplet, but we might not be quite there with him seeing the mad sights of India (thats in the pipeline for 2020 though).

If I asked Chiplet what he would like to do at the moment – his answer would more than likely involve dinosaurs, racing cars or biscuits… all of which are available the world over! My husband I am sure would like some peace, sunshine and good cold beer! For me, the perfect family holiday is one where we 3 spend quality time together in new experiences and find the time to notice the little things that we miss during the everyday grind of life at home – oh and a chance to sit and watch the sun go down…. every single night. So I have picked 3 holidays we have had together in the past 2 years to really get down to the nitty gritty as to what matters on our family holidays.

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A Weekend in Jersey

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My Dad and I used to go away together all the time when I was young free and single. We travelled Europe together and then South America with my brother. He also joined me in Australia when I lived there for a year.

It’s been a while since I got any quality time with my Dad – he has been well and truly pushed down the pecking order over the years… it’s hard to find enough of a gap in the hectic family life to sit and actually talk. So we decided in the summer that before the year was out, we were going to head off somewhere together to basically eat, drink and catch up.

The next challenge was to find somewhere we agreed on and that neither of us had been to before. Quite the challenge with a travelling companion who has been to over 100 countries. So somehow, we settled on Jersey! The only things I knew about it was that it had good food and a rather unique zoo. The latter fact coming from my friend who would like to get married there when her boyfriend pops the question! We flew from a rather gloomy and foggy Leeds Bradford, with a short stop in Southampton and arrived too late in St Helier to sample any of the amazing food on offer. We ended up with a quick Indian takeaway which was ok to tide us over.

Our accommodation was the faded and quirky grandeur of the Revere Hotel, just a hop away from the beach and views of Elizabeth Castle. The hotel itself was comfortable and I got the bigger room so I was happy – especially as I had a bath in the bathroom. The Revere boasts an outdoor pool and although I had brought my costume, on discovering it wasn’t heated, I made a hasty restreat back indoors! If you follow me on Twitter you will know about my sleep deprivation issues of late, so a night in a double bed to myself in a (relatively) quiet hotel, was bliss! I woke eager to get out into the fresh air on Saturday.

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My brother and I had booked my Dad in for a treatment at the spa at the Royal Yacht Club for his birthday, so while he had that, I wandered around St Helier and grabbed myself an excellent coffee at Jersey Pottery on the main shopping mall. Despite it being Black Friday, the pace was quite sedate and I was definitely impressed with how clean the town was.

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A Brilliant Week in Brighton

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I went to Brighton once for an insurance software conference… I got very drunk at a club under the seafront and had to staff an exhibition the next day and talk to people thinking that I smelt very badly of vodka. I do remember seeing the pavilion on the way back to the motorway.

So there wasn’t much to beat from that experience when we headed down to celebrate the wonderful wedding of Hannah (of Make Do and Push) and Nick.

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We were really lucky to be given the use of a flat in Kemptown which was just perfectly placed for everything. We could see the pier from our windows and buses zoomed past in most directions – which was useful as we didn’t come in our car.

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Lunch at The Courtyard Restaurant in Scarborough

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I was given the opportunity recently to enjoy a lunch at The Courtyard Restaurant in North Yorkshire, which I grabbed with both hands. The Boy and I cannot remember the last time we had a three course meal together and we suitably starving and enthusiastic by the time we arrived at the stunning venue just a few miles outside Scarborough.

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Make no mistake, this was a trek and a half for us from our corner of West Yorkshire, but we made it into a date day by dropping Chiplet off at his paternal grandparents. We had the whole day to ourselves.

The restaurant is located in Ox Pasture Hall, which has a really interesting history, which you can read about in a frame in one of the comfy sitting rooms. It was predominantly a farm, but during the second world war it opened as a tea rooms. You can see why – what a gorgeous view over the gardens.

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The bar area is lovely and cosy – I can imagine enjoying the fire on a cold night whilst nursing a big glass of red. As I was driving, I opted for lime and soda and The Boy went for a lager – sadly there were no local beers or ales on offer – something which I think might be almost unforgivable in Yorkshire – surely we are all about the real ale! He was quite content with his lager though. We messed around taking selfies in the bar and deciding on what to order – we were quite giddy to be on a date.

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We were shown through to the dining room in the most lovely table overlooking the English country garden at the front of the property. It was a slightly windy and grey day, but this didn’t ruin the lovely view over the garden and into the forest beyond.

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To start with, we were offered a taster of tomato and fennel soup (served cold) with some freshly baked cheese and fruit and nut bread (didn’t get a photo of that – too quickly eaten!). I really loved the flavour of the soup, creamy and aniseedy, it sent my tastebuds into first gear ready for our starters.

I had opted for the Ham Terrine with picalli and pea puree which arrived in a large chunk – I rather foolishly didn’t save any bread to go with it, but to be honest it stood alone as a deilcious starter. I could taste the mustard seeds and fresh herbs in it. The Boy went for the local fishcake – which was a stack of TWO fat fishcakes with a perfectly poached egg on top of them. He almost demolished them before I got chance to taste them, which I am glad I did – the addition of lemon juice made them just delicious.

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For main course I chose the confit duck the The Boy couldn’t resist his favourite of belly pork. These were very generous portions and I was feeling slightly defeated – honestly I haven’t had this much food in one sitting for a LONG time. My confit duck was hands down the best I have ever had. I think it is very easy to overcook the duck and for it to be hard and spiky. This fell off the bone and tasted succulent and had crispy flesh. The bubble and squeak cake was a good addition – peppery and tasty, but the red cabbage lacked the tangyness that I was looking for.  Nevertheless, I ate every last bite and really enjoyed it. Meanwhile across the table, the belly pork barely touched the sides of The Boy. He said it was melt in the mouth. We both agreed the carrots didn’t taste of very much but neither of us are big carrot fans anyway.

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We did manage to find room for pudding and I went for what I thought might be a lighter option in the eton mess. I loved the icecream and tangy freeze-dried strawberry that were on the side, but the eton mess  seemed to only have strawberries in it and not much meringue, so it was more like strawberries and cream with a coulis – delicious but not much like an eton mess. The sticky toffee pudding left The Boy in a bit of a desert heaven, the sauce came in a pourable jug and it had delicious ice cream with it as well sitting on some burnt sugar…. so beautifully presented.

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After that delicious meal, we were offered coffee and I opted for a cappuccino.  I think it had come from an instant machine – I didn’t drink it…. it was not nice at all.

To end on a positive note though, the experience was delicious and the service lovely. I would definitely come back to try out other items on the menu – the fish pie that the next table ordered most definitely had my name on it! The setting is stunning as well.

You can find out more about the restaurant and hotel here

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*I was given a complimentary meal for two in the Courtyard Restaurant. All opinions are of course my own (and The Boy’s in this case)