Category Archives: Travelling

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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“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!

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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Corbridge Larder and Brie Baker

On our return home from our recent visit to the North East, we stopped for lunch in the quaint village of Corbridge (about 18 miles west of Newcastle along the A69). I’ve been following the Corbridge Larder on twitter for a little while and loved the sound of their mouth-watering menus. The shop itself is beautifully presented with a large variety of condiments, preserves, cheeses etc (the list of yummy delicious things is endless!) It literally feels like an Aladdin’s cave for anyone who enjoys good quality food and fine flavours.

The other reason that I wanted to visit was because they stock Brie Bakers. This is a small ceramic pot which is used to bake Camembert and Brie. We’ve often enjoyed this type of thing as a starter to share in restaurants but have found it difficult to replicate at home, finding it a little messy. The Brie Baker is a lovely bit of kit and we’ve used it a couple of times now with fantastic results. It’s a bit like an up to date fondue and very easy if you are entertaining guests as it takes a minimal effort. We’ll be purchasing more as Christmas gifts.

For lunch Mark and I both had a panini (I had ham, emmental and sun blushed tomatoes Mark had bacon brie and fig relish) The food was beautifully presented with a fresh salad and Tyrell’s roots. It tasted delicious, not like the run of the mill panini that you get at Starbucks or Costa coffee. Mark enjoyed his so much that I suggested he should get a room! The lovely thing is, you can buy the ingredients in the shop so we picked up some fig relish amongst our other little treats. Their cappuccino was really good, we were impressed. The only downside is that Corbridge Larder is quite a long way from us. However, they have an attractive website and online shop. We would highly recommend a visit if you’re passing and a look on their website if you’re not.

N.B the good photo’s are used with the kind permission of Corbridge Larder, the fuzzy ones are mine ;0)

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Breakwater, Bamburgh and Bubbly

Northumbria has always been a very special place for our family. Our first visit was the summer that my sister Becky and I awaited our A level results and we instantly fell in love with the area. I’ve been to much of the coastline of England, and I must say the North East is my favourite. I always feel at peace up there and I have so many wonderful memories as we used to holiday there with our younger sister Keara. It just seems untouched in comparison to the kitsch and over commercialised coastlines at Blackpool, Scarborough and Newquay.

I’ve recently been following prop365 on Twitter, he owns a cottage in Seahouses called Breakwater and we recently visited. It was beautiful. A fisherman’s cottage over 100 years old, the dwelling has recently been refurbished to a very high standard making a very comfortable accommodation which sleeps 6.

This long weekend was a bit of a last-minute break. We all felt that we needed a little bit of time as a family to reconnect in a place that was happy and familiar to us all. (We stayed with my sister Becky, her husband Matt and their son Josh and our wonderful Mum)

We went to Holy Island, a place that we’ve been to so many times before and again, we weren’t disappointed. Steeped in history of early Christianity of Britain, this quaint and quiet community is very welcoming. It was so self-indulgent to call into the Lindisfarne Winery where they stocked their famous Lindisfarne Mead in addition to many other wonderful local wines, beers and spirits. Our visit to Lindisfarne was brief due to tired hungry children but was still special.

The main attraction to our break was a trip to Bamburgh beach. This is approx 4 miles from Seahouses. Mark, Holly and I visited the Copper Kettle Tea rooms while Mum, Bex, Matt and Josh went to the beach. I would recommend the Tea room, it was very cosy and the freshly baked scones were perfection!

When we arrived at the beach, it was almost like going home. I love Bamburgh beach. It’s absolutely stunning with its immaculate castle which literally looks like a giant sand castle and views to the Farne Islands to the right and Holy Island to the left. It is such a magical place to me, where I have spent many a happy evening with my family sharing such special times.

We waited until the sun went down and went back to the beach. Mum spoke to the coastguard and got permission that we could light a pink chinese lantern as this month Keara would have been 12 years old and we wanted to celebrate this wonderful occasion in a place and in a style that she would have loved. We lit the lantern and drank Champagne on the beach, with lots of giggling and laughing as we struggled to light the lantern with the wind battering us from the sea, and we could barely even see what we were doing as we fumbled with torches and matches. It was a fabulous evening.

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A weekend in sunny Scarberia

At the end of July, we went away with a group of friends to Scarborough for the weekend. This was a little extra special for us as Holly hadn’t been to the coast before and we were really looking forward to taking her down to the beach. As you will see from the photographs, it was a little grey bit we did get some nice breaks in the clouds.

It was lovely to spend time with two other couples who also have babies the same age as Holly. I’ve sometimes found it difficult to socialize with my old friends who don’t have children so it was really great to relax and not worry about Hula.

I’ve never really been a fan of Scarborough and most often went to Whitby as a child but there are some really charming little bits.

North Bay beach chalets

On the day that we went to the beach, Mark, Holly and I walked down by the North Beach by ourselves. It was a lovely walk by the sea wall. I think the sea air did Holly the world of good.

Our view from our walk down from North Bay

Holly having a paddle

Cold wet sand on baby toes!

Holly not looking impressed at all! I'm quite scared of her on this photo

Hula with a donkey

The three of us very happy on a slightly grey day in Scarberia

How cute, we found a little yellow boat with Hula's name!

There are further photographs of the evening that followed this day. However, they involved a number of glasses of wine and a game of “sing star” on the PS3. I’m not so cruel to the lovely people that we shared the weekend with to show those. We had a lovely time with fantastic company.

N.B Scarberia is a term that was first introduced to me by one of the couples that we went to Scarborough with. Quite self explanatory I think!