Making new memories at Masons

I celebrated my birthday a couple of  weeks ago and as a special treat, my Hubby arranged for us to have a weekend away at Masons campsite in Appletreewick (Wharfedale). This was particularly special to me as I have so many special memories of camping at Masons as a child. Slight cheat, we decided not to “camp”. To be honest we don’t have any of the kit needed so for convince and luxury we “glamped”. We initially experienced glamping at Camp Katur (see Onesies and Wellibobs), this time we decided to take the Hula Doll. Hula and Mark haven’t been camping before so I thought this would be a great opportunity for them to have a taste of it. Mark booked a “Rent-a-tent” experience, our Camp Katur glamp had been in a wooden pod which was cosy and romantic but not really camping. We thought this might be a bit closer to the real thing still with a good measure of home comforts.

The last time I visited Masons was in 2001 when I was a University student (first time around). Back then, the on-site facilities were basic but practical. Ever popular and full of charm, Masons family run business nestled in a valley along the river Wharfe, perfectly situated for local pubs and neighbouring villages Burnsall and Grassington. The business now has new owners who have brought Mason’s a bit more up-to-date. It still has charm, but the facilities and whole experience is far more luxurious. The shower block is spacious and modern and is minus the large swathes of spider webs that I remember (the ladies even has GHD straighteners if you forget your own!).

Our tent was a large canvas structure raised on a wooden platform. Immediately prior to our visit, there had been torrential rain for two hours; the wooden platform kept our tent dry and comfortable and avoided the boggy ground. I can’t imagine it would’ve been much fun trying to put up a tent in the mud. A wood burning stove provided warmth if needed, which we did eventually need as Holly had a stumble while we played in the river and got a bit soggy. With an electric hookup, our accommodation was warm, cosy with a good dash of luxury and creature comforts.  Everything was provided for us, the only thing that we needed to take was our clothing, bedding and food. Our only criticism was that the outdoor awning that provided shelter over our cooking / eating area appeared to be significantly smaller than some of the other glamping pitches, which was a limitation in bad weather. Masons is visited on a weekend by a local business called the appletreevan which sells the most wonderful home-baked goodies and delicious coffee. It rained again on the day we went home, their hot chocolate certainly did warm our cockles.

On my birthday, Mark treated me to a full English (breakfast) cooked outside, Holly happily opened my gifts for me and we planned our day ahead. As Wharfedale is one of my all time favourite places in the world, there were a couple of places that I wanted to re-visit. First off, we visited Kilnsey Park. I loved it as a little one and remember trying to catch fish in the trout pond. Holly enjoyed exploring the nature trail and trying to spot the red squirrels. They have a fantastic restaurant on site and customers are able to buy fresh trout that is farmed on site. Following this, we took a trip to Grassington. We stopped for lunch in a lovely little tea room called the Whimsical Cottage. With reasonably priced delicious home cooked food, it made for a relaxing afternoon. After a meander around the shops, we headed back to the site to get ready for dinner. We decided to go to the Craven Arms and Cruckbarn, this was recommended by the owner of Kilnsey Park who said it was the best pub in the dale. We weren’t disappointed. The food and service were fantastic. There was a good variety of traditional dishes with a modern twist and plenty for children (without the bog standard chicken nuggets and junk). Mark enjoyed trying out local real ales on draught.

Overall, we had a fantastic weekend. It was a beautiful taster for Mark and Holly to experience my beloved Yorkshire dales and more specifically Wharfedale. There’s no getting around it, glamping is expensive. However, it is so nice that we haven’t needed to invest any money in the initial outlay of camping. We literally turned up and enjoyed the weekend. As it started to rain as we were packing up, it was particularly wonderful that we didn’t need to pack away a wet tent. Holly had her first experience of camping and she absolutely loved it. We would definitely visit again and look forward to planning our next trip.

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Whitby, water fights and Wharfedale Grange

This weekend, we well and truly kicked off our Summer wish list. It started with a trip to Whitby, the coastal town on the East coast of North Yorkshire. As a child, I often visited Whitby with my family and I have the most wonderful memories of counting the 199 steps and looking in the shops which sold Whitby Jet. Every time we visited, my mum would delight in telling me about the fossilised Monkey Puzzle tree that makes the stone. To this day, Jet is one of my favourite gem stones, although i’m not completely sure that it is a gem.  My husband hadn’t been to Whitby in over 20 years so it was wonderful to experience it with him. We had a lovely walk around the town and enjoyed fish and chips in the famous Magpie Cafe. After dinner we hit the beach and after some beach combing and paddling in the water, we indulged in delicious Yorkshire dales ice-cream. Holly had a wonderful day and after all of the excitement she fell asleep in the car on the way home. We were a little ill prepared so her Daddy’s spare T-shirt was used as makeshift nightie.

The last Kipper smoking house

The last Kipper smoking house

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey

Ice cream on the beach

Ice cream on the beach

Pirate ship

Pirate ship

Sleeping Holly Dolly

Sleeping Holly Dolly

After such a busy and exciting day, we were looking forward to something a little more relaxing on Saturday. Holly had suggested fruit picking as one of her wishes and as the soft fruit season was coming to a close, it was now or never. We had been given some suggestions as to where to go. However, as Yorkshire and the rest of the UK has seen pretty severe Summer floods since 2007, it became apparent that many farms had closed down. We finally found ourselves at Wharfedale Grange PYO farm near to Harewood House. Funnily enough, this is where my mum used to bring us when we were little. It was pretty hard going with most of the best fruit gone. Having said that, Holly absolutely loved it! She was so excited and ever so proud to show her dad and I when she had found a beautifully ripe raspberry. Hot and bothered, we headed home for a BBQ, and a cosy night on the deck watching a film in front of the chiminea with hot chocolate with extra marshmallows (not before a watertight with Daddy!).

Getting in the spirit

Getting in the spirit

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Hidden treasure

Hidden treasure

Yummy!

Yummy!

Bit of wildlife

Bit of wildlife

Raspberries and Champagne

Raspberries and Champagne

Cosy evening

Cosy evening

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Lego movie “everything is awesome”

After a late evening, we had a very relaxing and lazy Sunday. However, it didn’t stop us from completing more wishes on Holly’s list. We have some very special and close people in our lives who are going through a difficult time at the moment so Holly took the opportunity to paint some rainbows to help raise their spirits. She concentrated beautifully and was so proud of her herself. Her hard work was rewarded with a picnic in the garden. As a working mummy, I can easily feel torn splitting myself between my profession and my home life. This weekend really did help remind me that it’s the quality of time rather than the quantity of time spent with children that really matters. We all had the most amazing time over the last three days and it will lift me and push me onwards whenever I doubt myself. Raising children is so challenging, I hope that i’m sending a strong message to my daughter that women can have a career, with professional aspirations but also be there first and foremost as a mummy. I’m so looking forward to our next weekend together and sharing some very special memories.

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Head rush!

Head rush!

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So then Holly, what would you like to do this Summer?

This is our final Summer with Holly Hula doll before she goes to full-time school in September. The time has absolutely flown since she was born, and she seems to be growing up so fast. As with most working parents, we’re unable to spend the whole six weeks at home with her. Therefore, it was vitally important for us to get  as much out of the Summer as we could, and make some long-lasting memories.

My sister had a lovely idea, with the help of her little boy, they drew up a wish list of all the things they wanted to do together over the Summer months. Their wish list, was vibrant, colourful and absolutely full of wonderful activities. To be honest, we copied their idea. As the saying goes “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

When we started the list, Holly found it a little difficult to come up with suggestions of activities. But with a few prompts, she became more confident and gave us with some lovely ideas. The overriding theme of the list was that the majority of the “wishes” that Holly chose were very simple, inexpensive and involved her family and friends. It was really encouraging for us as parents to see that even at 4 years old, Holly’s choices were considerate and family orientated. There wasn’t anything materialistic, it was all about having fun and sharing her experiences with the people closest to her.

We hope to share some of our adventures over the next few months and hopefully document an amazing Summer.

Holly's Summer wish list

Holly’s Summer wish list

 

“Onesies and Wellibobs” Camp Katur

Life had become incredibly busy. After what felt like an age of disruption to our lives due to work and studying, we decided that we needed a well deserved break as a couple (child free). With our wedding anniversary approaching, we thought that it would be a golden opportunity to get away. We tend to have a bit of fun choosing somewhere different each year and it’s now become a bit of a challenge. This year it was my turn to arrange the trip.

As a child I had the most fun on our family camping trips in Yorkshire and thought that this might be a good idea for a getaway.  However, Mark and I didn’t have the essential camping equipment, and as we had grown used to the creature comforts (such as a comfy king size bed) we decided to compromise and after a little online research decided that “Glamping” sounded like the perfect option for us. “Glamping” is defined as…….

  1. a form of camping involving accommodation and facilities more luxurious than those associated with traditional camping.
    “glamping is likely to satisfy any city slicker seeking a little refuge in nature—without foregoing any of life’s luxuries”
…… this seemed like the perfect solution. Many businesses offer this type of service as an alternative to traditional camping, and there is much to choose from. However, due to the facilities available and the location, we chose to book with Camp Katur.
Located on the Camp Hill Estate, which is the home to a number of different businesses which provide outdoor activities, Camp Katur offers very comfortable accommodation within close distance to the popular village of Bedale.
We booked into the Romeo and Juliet Hobbit Pod. This cosy nest  provides a romantic and secluded hideaway in the woods. It was perfect. Whilst there was no electricity, the fairy lights and candle light provided enough heat and a lovely ambience to set the scene for a dreamy wedding anniversary weekend. Privacy was high on the agenda at Camp Katur with strict rules and guidelines to ensure that everyone felt safe and secure during their stay. However, this wasn’t a couple’s only weekend. There were plenty of families with children who were enjoying the Tour de France. At bedtime, the camp was provided a calm environment to settle the younger guests in their onesies and wellibobs. Having families on the site didn’t ruin the experience, it served to promote ideas of future potential “Glamping” trips with out beautiful little girl Holly who we were sure would have loved the environment.
During our trip, Mark and I booked into the Eco Spa which was composed of an outdoor log burning hot tub and sauna. All appointments are booked in advance and are exclusive to the booking party. This was one of the highlights of the stay, especially as the weather was glorious and we had stunning views over the camp.
We needed very little preparation for the trip and the quaintness of communal cooking and BBQ areas were novel. However, Mark and I also enjoyed the option of the privacy of our own camp fire and BBQ if we so wished. A fantastic getaway which we would highly recommend and would most definitely book again. We were very satisfied by the wardens on camp who were extremely helpful throughout our trip.
We didn’t visit Michelin star restaurants or stay in a 5 star hotels in a capital city. However, we had a 5 star experience. The privacy and seclusion gave us a welcome break from our busy lives and gave us the opportunity to reflect on the past year and our marriage vows which was absolutely priceless.
…I’m really looking forward to finding out where  Mark chooses next year!

Tuesday (the new friday)

I must admit, this MSc has been far more challenging than I could have ever imagined (hence the lack of blog posts!). Working, studying, running a home, being a mummy and a wife really does pull on every resource I have. I constantly feel that I’m doing half a job in many areas of my life and maternal guilt mounts on a daily basis.

I usually find Tuesdays quite stressful. After a day at work and a week of studying facing me, I often feel deflated. We often eat out on a Tuesday, however this week I had a different idea. Holly and I love to cook together and I think it’s how we managed to get her to enjoy a varied diet. I asked Holly if she would like to have a restaurant at our house; she loved the idea!

I must admit that on Tuesday evening, feeling pretty exhausted, I felt a little daunted. Having said this, when I collected Holly from nursery and she said “Mummy, we’re cooking for Daddy tonight” she helped me to feel very motivated for the night ahead. We had so much fun! We made chicken breasts stuffed with mozzarella and wrapped in smokey bacon, a winter salad and bulgar wheat bruschetta. Holly listened so intently to my instructions (every so often she gave me a cuddle and said “I love this Mummy”) and she was so proud to present her Daddy with the food she had made him. Wearing her chef hat and apron, with a tea towel over her arm she said “Excuse me sir, are you ready for your starter?”

I felt relaxed and so happy that I’d spent some quality time with my princess. I think it goes to show, it’s not the quantity of time but the quality of time that you spend with your children that really matters. I truly respect all of the students on my course that are juggling jobs, children, homes, family but most of all, those who are doing it alone. You are all absolutely amazing xxx

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Academic ambition

This week something really special happened; I finally attained one of my ambitions. I reached a mark of 80% in one of my MSc assessments. This might not seem a huge deal to many of you. However, if you glance over my posts The Kindle and Finally an answer: dyslexia you’ll see why it’s so important to me. This is another fantastic reason to put another champagne cork in the fish bowl!

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Dreams, wishes and happy thoughts . . .

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A quick post but desperately needed after months of uni work. I wanted to show you something. Over the recent years it’s become a very important reminder of happy times even in the darkest of days. In essence, it’s a goldfish bowl! My amazing twin painted it for me with the instruction of filling it with Champagne corks. As you can see, the bowl is overflowing. There are corks in there celebrating all of the most important events in our family over the last 10 years including engagement, wedding, graduation, the birth of our daughter to name just a few, but all of which we shared with the most amazing and dear people in our lives.

When I clean the bowl, I empty all the corks out and can identify the most special ones and remember where they came from. But now, we need to make a decision, do we need Becky to paint us an even bigger bowl? Absolutely, more good times are always on the horizon ;0)