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.
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
Ice cream on the beach
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
Bit of wildlife
Raspberries and Champagne
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.
A week or two ago, Holly and I took a trip up to North Leeds. We had a dental appointment but thought we’d make the most of the day while we were in the area and show Holly where I’d spent my childhood.
We started our day by visiting Chapel Allerton. We called into the Sunshine Bakery and bought some of their exquisite cupcakes as a little treat.
Following the dentist, we went to Meanwood Valley Urban Farm it is such a wonderful attraction, particularly good if you have small children. The farm is an educational centre for young people who have learning disabilities or who have struggled to engage with the education system.
Holly and I loved our afternoon there. We had a hot meal together which was reasonably priced and delicious. The cafe and farm shop have a relaxed feel about them. However the service was incredibly friendly and efficient.
The farm is very interactive and Holly was able to feed the animals which she really enjoyed. There are gardens and a coppice wood also to explore. It only cost £1 for me to visit and Holly’s admission was free. I’m sure that the farm will be a lovely perk after visiting the dentist in future.
Hula and I get a little bored if we’re cooped up indoors, so we try to get some fresh air as much as possible. It was very blustery on Thursday, but as the sun was still shining we ventured out.
We took a trip to Sandal Castle in South Wakefield. The castle is steeped in history from the War of the Roses and the Civil War. It’s free to park and to walk around the castle. We found that the walk was the perfect distance for toddler legs. The panoramic views of Wakefield and surrounding area from the top of the castle are stunning.
There’s a visitor centre/shop next to the castle. We had a look around as the weather was beginning to turn. The staff were very friendly and geared up to work with children as they offered Holly a number of activities (Hula decided to colour in a rainbow which was particularly appropriate as Richard the Duke of York died nearby).
Well worth a visit and I’m sure it would be a spectacular venue for a picnic.
(Check out Wakefield District for events)
On a beautiful early Autumnal day, Holly and I went out for a little adventure. The weather has been so warm over the last week that we couldn’t waste the opportunity of getting some fresh air and exploring somewhere different.
After a quick browse online, I found Seckar Wood Nature Reserve . If you know the Wakefield area at all, it’s about one mile from Newmillerdam . Holly hasn’t been to a woods before. We packed a picnic, and invited some friends (Holly brought the Gruffalo, I brought Marty bear from Martin House).
There is a free car park that can accommodate 20 cars, we were the only ones parked. We passed Newmillerdam which was heaving. However, for the two hours that Holly and I were out and about, we saw one other person. It was sublimely relaxing to just listen to the birds, our steps reverberating off of the hollow floor and leaves crackling under our feet.
Holly was a little nervous at first and refused to open her eyes. However, after we had our lunch, she seemed to come out of her shell. It was great to watch her negotiate the tree roots as she walked, and look at things with anticipation and excitement. A simple but splendid day together. Please enjoy our photos of some of the lovely and interesting things that we saw.
For Vicky’s birthday I gave her a list of 30 things to do at 30 (within 30 months) – we also did one for Becky (Vicky’s twin) – I’m sure you’ve heard of this kind of thing before.
As we had done one for Becky too I made sure that some of them were the same (i.e. a night with your twin etc) and others were the same because I came up with them for Becky too!
It takes quite a bit of thought to produce this sort of thing; some of them are fun / silly (walk in the rain without a coat), others are to over-come fears / inhibitions (learn to ride your bike confidently), some are childhood reminders (swim in the river at Appletreewick) whilst others are to help us get a bit more out of life.
We’ve had what might be termed a ‘difficult’ last 12 months and with Holly coming along within the year before that too, I felt this was an opportunity to encourage Vicky (and by default myself too) to do some more enjoyable and social things. In all honesty, life has passed us by a bit over the last year, particularly socially, so here are a few of the things to get us out and about a bit more;
- Go to the theatre / ballet in London
- Have a spa treatment
- Have a date night with your husband at least every other week
- Eat out in each of the ‘Five Towns’
- Go to the dogs
- Go to Pontefract races
- Try Japanese food
- Go to a karaoke bar and sing at least one song
As you may well have read, one of Vicky’s presents was a bike – so one of the challenges was to learn to ride the bike confidently. Vicky had a bit of an “issue” about riding a bike so this was a way of encouraging her to learn.
Others are to encourage her to make the most of her crafting skills whilst also being a hobby; this should help her to unwind after work.
I will definitely benefit from some of these – even if it is just the humour of it – learn to juggle, walk in the rain without a coat, watching her do karaoke, doing something that scares her and host a ‘Mighty Boosh’ party!
The rest of Vicky’s list (that isn’t in 1 to 8 above is;
- Learn to ride your bike confidently
- Wear a skirt at least once a week
- Complete a new cross-stitch
- Run on Bamburgh beach in bare feet
- Do one piece of exercise per week (run or cycle)
- Learn to juggle
- Make Holly a dress
- Make a date with your twin once a month
- Swim in the river at Appletreewick
- Make a new friend
- Read a new book every other month
- Grow all the ingredients for a meal (starter and main)
- Watch the Lord of the Rings trilogy over consecutive nights
- Have a fish meal at least every other week
- Make a den with Holly
- Do something that scares you
- Host a “Might Boosh” party including dressing up as characters
- Make a patch work quilt for your bedroom
- Support a local cause
- Cook a new dish every month
- Teach Holly to count to ten
- Walk in the rain without a coat
We’d been wanting to go to The Deep for ages, so on my 30th birthday we took a little trip to Hull. The Deep is a very large aquarium, and is home to over 3,500 fish. As Hula is fanatical about “Finding Nemo” at the moment (or as she calls it “Memo”) we hoped that she’d get a lot from the visit.
Mark got a 10% discount for booking the tickets online. Full price adult tickets are £9.95 and under 3’s get in for free. We also found out that once you have purchased your tickets, you can return again for free for the next year if you sign a Day Plus Pass form (check terms and conditions).
The exhibit itself is mesmerizing. Holly really loved it. There was a very cute moment when we showed her the Clown fish and she said “Memo”. We easily spent a couple of hours in there and we didn’t see everything. There’s good wheelchair/push-chair access. However, Holly spends very little time in her pram these days. She really did enjoy exploring the aquarium on foot. This was made easy as most of the large tanks start from floor level.
I’d recommend that you take a packed lunch. The food in the cafe wasn’t fantastic but they do have an indoor picnic area. Apart from the dining facilities, we’d highly recommend a visit and we’ll definitely be returning within the year.
Some of the photos are a little fuzzy as no flash photography is allowed inside the exhibition.