Category Archives: Eating

food, resturants, recipes

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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Rivers Meet Craft Cafe Methley

After an incredibly busy bank holiday weekend, Mark, Holly and I visited Rivers Meet Craft Cafe (@RiversMeet1) in Methley for brunch. We’d originally heard about it through Twitter. I was eager to check it out being a bit of a craft fanatic and was very interested in some of the classes that they had advertised on their website.

The building had previously been a pub but, the owners have tastefully converted it into a cosy and comfortable cafe. There’s a quirkiness about it, which makes you feel that this is someone’s individual vision. We sat on a large comfortable leather sofa while we had our bacon and sausage scufflers which were delicious. The cafe source all of their produce locally. My Earl Grey tea was served in a beautiful vintage china cup and saucer. Vintage crockery was dotted around the cafe giving it a homely feel.

The ground floor is open plan but separated between eating and crafting. This worked beautifully as you could see people who had gone in for a cup of tea and a piece of cake and then booked a lesson after watching others craft.

The service was excellent. They were very friendly and also attentive to Holly, even asking what type of cup she would like to drink out of. The high chairs were spotless and readily available (it really does matter to parents). Children are warmly welcomed and the cafe offer kids craft sessions for children of all ages.

While we were there, I booked onto a beginners jewellery making class with a lady called Rachel Care who owns Tiggypig Beads, bead shop which is situated within the cafe. Once we got chatting I found out that Rachel was also a fellow quilter and blogger. She introduced me to the lady who teaches quilting in the cafe called Sarah Eliza who also teaches at the York quilting museum and has a rather lovely blog called Edward and the White Bear . Sarah is hoping to offer more quilting classes and was looking for people who are interested. It was wonderful to chat to other people who are also passionate about textiles. We swapped details and I’m looking forward to meeting up again in the future.

We loved the cafe and we’d highly recommend it to crafters and those who just fancy trying something a little bit different.

Hula Visits The Lake District

This Summer we had the pleasure of taking Holly to the Lake district in both June and August. It was fantastic to share with Holly a place that is so special to Mark and I, as we’ve both enjoyed the Lakes from  a young age. We stayed in Mark’s parent’s holiday let “The Mews” in Bowness.

The Mews

The weather in June was beautiful and we managed to have some wonderful days out at the Lakes Aquarium ,  The World of Beatrix Potter attraction and go on the Steamer around Lake Windermere. We also took her out for a meal to Amore (previously known as Trattoria Ticino) where Mark and I have shared many romantic evenings, including the night that we got engaged. Holly enjoyed exploring a new environment and seemed very relaxed.

Windswept

My babies

Holly protecting her "do"

Making friends with Mr Jeremy Fisher

Little frightened of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle

It’s been such a busy and emotional year with many different challenges. I think it made us  realise how important a little time away together as a family is, to refresh and recharge our batteries.

We found a park, yay!

Backpack as big as Hula

The weather during our stay in August wasn’t fantastic. However, we managed to take Holly out for her first hill walk. We walked up Brant Fell which in good weather gives spectacular views of Lake Windermere. Holly tolerated the back pack really well. Although, halfway through the walk she got a little fed up and I managed to recite the whole of “The Gruffalo” to her (this is now my new party trick) which she loved as it’s her favourite book at the moment.

Ready for a ramble

Getting rained on

Top of Brant Fell

We plan to have more adventures in the Lake District later on in the year.

Balkissock Lodge

This post is quite overdue, but I wanted to tell you about a fantastic place that Mark and I stayed at for our 4th wedding anniversary. It’s called Balkissock Lodge and it’s a 4 star bed and breakfast situated on the South West coast of Scotland. I’ve been following Cordelia for quite a while on Twitter and love Howard’s photographs of the local wildlife and breathtaking sunsets on Facebook.

We were given a very warm welcome.  Afternoon tea was served in the lounge with freshly baked cupcakes  (whilst watching Murray lose to Nadal at Wimbledon!). Howard gave us a tour of the beautiful gardens surrounded by woodland and we drank champagne on the lawn as we waited for our evening meal (Balkissock lodge does not have a licence for alcohol but they welcome you to take your own).

If you give Cordelia and Howard a minimum of 24 hrs notice you can have an evening meal at the lodge (it’s a fair trip to the supermarket – it is also preferable if you choose the same items from the menu as a couple). The food was absolutely fantastic! I especially loved Cordelia’s lemon meringue pie made with her homemade lemon curd.

Our room was incredibly comfortable and peaceful, all rooms have en-suite facilities. We felt very relaxed during our stay, the usual hum of suburban living was replaced by silence, occasionally interrupted by the moo of a cow.  For us, the relative isolation was blissful.

It was wonderful to see that Cordelia and Howard both have a cottage industry from their talents. Cordelia sells her beautiful hand knitted baby clothes called “Balkissock Baby” I think that she should have her own Folksy page. Howard sells prints of stunning photographs of sunsets along the South West coast of Scotland.

During our stay, Howard recommended visiting the Logan Botanic Garden. We were not disappointed. The garden was the best we’d ever seen, beautifully maintained with a huge variety of plants – in my opinion it is far superior to RHS Harlow Carr in the quality of presentation of both the plants and space in general. From there we went up the coast and watched the seals on the rocks. Our only regret about our stay was that we should’ve booked another night. There is so much to see and do, Cordelia and Howard’s home provide a wonderful and cosy base to explore the beautiful coastline. We would highly recommend them and hope to visit again.

One other thing, Cordelia has a wonderful blog called Scottish Country House that is well worth a read and is now on my “blogs I like to read” list.

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The Toddler who bakes

This is a short and sweet post (especially for our family and close friends) to show you what Holly has been up to recently.

Well, we had loads of Easter eggs left over. As we’re not the biggest fans of chocolate I thought we’d get it used up and stop it cluttering up our kitchen cupboard. Easiest childhood classic recipe I could think to make was Rice Krispie buns (we also added marshmallow bits).

Holly loved it, mainly because she started to eat the chocolate before we’d even really begun! It’s amazing how quickly Holly is growing up. She was able to take part so much. A bit messy (which childhood should be) and it reminds me that I do need to make Holly her own little apron. I have some beautiful Cath Kidston material that I’m going to use to make us both matching Mummy/Daughter aprons. Hope you enjoy the photos of our scrummy toddler ;0).

NB family, we saved the foil from the eggs to craft with. Don’t be surprised to see it on your Christmas cards this year!

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The Baby who bakes

I  just thought I’d share what fun Holly and I have been getting up to recently. The older she grows and as her mind expands, I’m having to constantly think of what activities I can do with her (I’m a first time mum and learning as I go along). She loves to spend time with me in the kitchen while I cook, so I decided that it was time she joined in. As she’s only 14 months old, I wanted to do something very simple that would hold her attention, but that was also fun. So we baked. I have very fond memories from my childhood of baking with my mum and sisters and I was really looking forward to this being a part of Holly’s childhood.

I did a little cheat, I bought a kit in which you literally add water to make cookie dough (these kits are priced from 60p – £1.20 in most supermarkets). From start to finish, it took about 20 minutes. Holly loved it, she was so good and concentrated on what we were doing. I don’t think she would have tolerated me weighing out and combining lots of ingredients at this age.

It was a lovely activity on a miserable afternoon, a brilliant way of spending quality time with my Holly Hula.

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