Chatsworth House

I had one of my days out this weekend where the coach company takes you to several places in one trip. We started with Dobbies garden centre. I have no idea why and mostly spent the time in the cafe. I don’t think I’ve ever been the target audience for these things however the little bit I did see I know I’ll end up back here as it’s the type of place my mother will love.

Our end stop was Bakewell. Hard to comment really as it was pitch dark and the end of the day. We did accidentally stumble upon the Bakewell Pudding parlour where the original Bakewell tart was made. The cake was lovely and we sat eating that while others went to see the Xmas lights switched on. I think we got the better deal as the lights advertised turned out to just be the tree in the centre of the market.

In between we had a stop at Chatwsorth House, known to me only as Mr Darcy’s home in Pride and Prejudice. Like many of these trips I would have happily lost the garden centre and Bakewell and just concentrated on this. We didn’t have time to look around the gardens. As we were here in the run up to Xmas they had the Xmas market stalls – nothing different than at any other fair. I was really disappointed by the food however. Absolutely nothing for the vegetarian and everything triple in price.

The house itself is gorgeous and I really wish I’d had more time to explore it. Every Christmas they have a themed display throughout the house and this year it was The Nutcracker. So many Xmas trees! I’m glad I wasn’t the one that had to put those up. All around the house were scenes from the ballet as well at the end a film display. I really enjoyed that part of the day. Note to self – go back when it’s not Xmas and not as part of a crammed in day trip

Cities in the dark #Blackpool

I have a new job that involves lots of travel. As glamorous as that sounds I spend lots of time on the train and have only really been seeing new cities at night on the way to the hotel and again on a morning on the way to an office.It gave me an idea though to pass the winter of capturing some sights in the dark on my trusty mobile starting with Blackpool.

Blackpool brings with it mixed memories. I haven’t been in six years; the last time was  agirls night out that ended after we rounded a street corner just in time to see a man get run over by a bus. A man so drunk he sat there laughing & joking with his friends while a bus reversed several times over his crushed legs which a ‘helpful’ person kept screaming at the driver to stop; start; go back; no wait wrong way.Not the fondest of memories! I’ve wondered since what happened to him.

On a happier note are the Illuminations. Despite the fact that the website says they are all switched on they weren’t on my visit.A little bit gutted as I wanted to see the Dr Who lights – they have a Tardis and some Daleks. For us and many other 70’s kids Blackpool Illuminations guaranteed a day out to the seaside. Every year dad would come home and off we’d go to drive the Golden Mile and if flush with cash have some fish supper and during times of financial hardship then mum would pack a night picnic. A much nicer memory than the other one 🙂

My friend often comments that she finds that the further North you go the more people will stop and talk. I found on this trip that Blackpool folk fit that category. I had a lovely chat about old self employment dreams of running my own guest house and what it takes to run a tea shop (my other dream) when your business is dictated by the seasons. Another conversation started after I realised a woman was wandering around glued to her phones map app just like me. So much for only teenagers being glued to their phones.

I left this time with fonder memories and a renewed desire to spend my retirement by the beach even if it was freezing cold and raining most of the time.

 

Stokesley and Helmsley, North Yorkshire

I sometimes wonder how coach companies make up their trips. The other month I did a trip to Richmond and Durham. The Richmond stop was 90 minutes to take in the market. As the market comprised of about 5 stalls and the town was tiny I chose instead to spend it wandering around an old castle. Much more fun. Stokesley was similar but sadly without the castle. This time we were given 2 hours to spend there on market day. The thingI’m beginning to realise is that unless it’s a special kind of market (xmas, craft fair etc) they are all pretty much the same. Stokesley is a beautiful town but there’s nothing there to see. The centre comprises two streets of shops mostly tea shops and charity shops. It passed the time but not sure I’d want to go back.

We had three hours in Helmsley on the other hand and yet I could easily have stayed there two days! Again the idea was market day and shopping but the town also has a castle, abbey ruins, a bird of prey sanctuary, Duncombe Park house and the walled gardens all for visiting. I’d never heard of the town until I saw it on the brochure yet its only an hours drive. I wish I could drive so I could go back. It doesn’t have a train station and very limited buses from York. I may have to work out for myself a long weekend there.

I loved the shops – here there was a variety. Lovely gift shops, art shops, antiques and so many tea shops (this is not actually  a bad thing). I ended up spending an hour and half wandering the castle ruins (quite a lot for something 1000 years old) and the shops and had a pleasant afternoon. Again though this was sold as a market trip. I wonder if it’s me that’s unusual and all people are interested in is markets and shopping? I’d personally rather have a mix of things. If you are able I’d highly recommend this town.

Travelling the UK the A-Z way

A couple of years ago I set myself a fun challenge to see if I could visit a city, town or village etc in the UK starting with each letter of the alphabet. I had a bit of a break in travel but have been making up for it lately. I’ve noticed when writing this list up I’ve pretty much stayed in England so maybe I need to re-name it and then try and do another using Scotland, Wales & Northern Ireland and Eire???

There are a few letters where I’m struggling to find somewhere so any recommendations would be most grateful 🙂

I’ve made a few other lists that would take a bit longer- a place from each County in the UK and again in each of the Western Countries of Europe. There’s no real reason behind it except a bit of fun and a way of seeing a bit more of my own country and Europe.

This is where I’m at so far:

A – Ambleside, Cumbria

B – Bourton on the Wold, Gloucestershire

C – Chester, Cheshire

D – Durham, County Durham

E –

F – Flamborough, East Riding of Yorkshire

G – Grasmere, Cumbria

H – Haworth, West Yorkshire

I- Ilkley, West Yorkshire

J –

K – Keighley, West Yorkshire

L – Leicester, Leicestershire

M – Moreton on Marsh, Gloucestershire

N – Nottingham, Nottinghamshire

O – Otley, West Yorkshire

P –

Q –

R – Ripon, North Yorkshire

S – Stratford, Warwickshire

T –

U –

V –

W – Windemere, Cumbria

X –

Y – York, North Yorkshire

Z –

 

An afternoon in Leicester

My friend recently moved back to Leicester after being away for many years. I decided to have a coach trip down for the afternoon. But what do we do when we need to fit in a good catch up, entertain a 3 year old and it’s the day before payday??? Hmm maybe we didn’t choose the best day.

A quick look around Tripadviser showed there were actually lots of things to do when you’re at the right side of payday but we settled on looking at the Jewry Wall and going to see the new King Richard III exhibit (and bones)

Jewry wall museum is a lovely (and free!) little place on the outskirts of the city centre. Inside there are some original mosaic Roman flooring that has been found as well as original Roman wall murals. And outside the wall itself is part of a discovered Roman baths – the outlines of which can be seen in the photos below. It’s tiny and doesn’t take a huge amount of time to wander around but it is very informative and there’s a good little spot for children to play, build their own mosaics and colour. A good way to pass an hour.

With promises to see if we could find more castles and princesses for our young friend we wandered towards the Richard III visitor centre. While dithering over whether our funds would stretch that far our own little explorer decided she was going to visit the Cathedral instead. Her instincts proved great for us as it turns out that’s where the actual remains of Richard are buried (on his own sheepskin blanket according to the guide). The visitors centre is divided into one floor documenting the War of the Roses and the other floor the history of the dig as well as the original grave site. But as we only really wanted to see the bones we decided to leave it for another day.

Things we didn’t get chance to see – lots of other museums, botanical gardens and the one I want to see when I have actual cash – the Space Centre

Stratford

Last week I spent the day in Stratford; birthplace of Shakespeare. One of my customers at work had recently moved away from the area saying he couldn’t cope with all the tourists and despite being a tourist myself I kind of saw what he meant. Everywhere I turned were groups of students (all foreign languages) and at one point when I wandered into a church from a break from them (I get anxious when it’s too crowded) I ended up avoiding 83 Americans each one with his own Dr Seuss Thing numbered shirt. Definitely off putting when you are on your own. I couldn’t get into a couple of places such as Shakespeare’s birth place as the crowds were just too long. Thankfully it was a lot quieter at Anne Hathaway’s House and I got to spend some time in the garden enjoying some peace and quiet. I wouldn’t say it put me off but if I went again I would definitely avoid the summer school holidays!

Durham, County Durham

The second part of my trip with Blue Sky coach travel was an afternoon in Durham. We had longer here and finally the sun had come out. Initially I didn’t like it. I went on a Saturday, people were out in force and I couldn’t find anywhere to eat. I suffer from severe anxiety and all the above are triggers for me to have panic attacks. It took me about half an hour to finally find somewhere quiet enough to feel relaxed – The Cafe on the Green next door to the cathedral. One of those places that have no concept of simple food & charge £6.50 for a sandwich but it suited my needs. Refreshed and less stressed I went to see the main reason for my visit – Durham Cathedral or The Cathedral Church of Christ, Blessed Mary the Virgin and St Cuthbert of Durham to give it it’s full name. The place is huge and is now a World Heritage site and originally founded in AD635. I find it fascinating how many of our ancient structure are still standing, even more awe-inspiring to see some of these still in use. I wasn’t allowed to take photo’s of the inside sadly.

Also disappointing was the closure of Durham castle, another place on my must see list. Apparently they were hosting a Bavarian cultural exchange and beer-fest hence the closure. I saw one or two scantily clad bar ‘wenches’ going inside. I wonder if all Bavarian barmaids really do wear such tiny clothes??? Seemed very stereotypical so not sure how much of the cultural exchange was true and how much was there for the students to just have a party??? So it looks like I’ll have to go back and visit this place again too to see the castle. There are also lots of signs to HMP Durham but as it’s a prison still in use I wasn’t so keen to go have a look at that!

 

Richmond, North Yorkshire

This week I had my first trip with Blue Sky coaches, a lovely small family run tour operator. They were an absolute dream to travel with and will definitely be using them again. The trip was a day out to visit Richmond markets and Durham. I took so many photo’s though that I’ve split my day into two blogs.

We only had an hour an half in Richmond so it’s really difficult to say if i liked it or not. Plus the weather was overcast. The outdoor market didn’t look that great to me so I opted to use the most of my time visiting the 11th century castle instead. The views from the castle ruins are staggering and I don;t think I really do them justice with my photos. The castle was originally built to subdue the unruly North of England it is one of the greatest Norman fortresses in Britain. After a few weeks visiting North Yorkshire (being a West Yorkshire girl) I’m sorely tempted to add it to my potential future places to live when I finally ever sell my house. I’m lucky that my work sports & social club gets me into any English Heritage site for free but if you don’t have access to anything like that I would heartily recommend getting an annual pass to them or to National Trust. We have so many beautiful places here to see 🙂

I don’t think I had enough time to truly decide what I thought of the town & be able to see what else it has to offer so I think it’s a place to add to my list of places to re-visit one day for a longer look

Whitby 2016

This weekend I took myself off for a day out in Whitby. I’ve lost track of how long its been since I last went so it was almost like seeing it new again. I chose to go up by coach and the first leg Leeds to York was quite ordinary however once you get past York and out into the North Yorkshire moors the views are really quite breathtaking. The villages are beautiful. I’d actually quite like to get a day hopper ticket and stop off at these villages for some more exploring.

I spent most of my time exploring the abbey ruins, inspiration and setting for Bram Stokers Dracula. It’s now an English Heritage site and they’ve looked after it really well. I was surprised by the amount of land protected as well as the actual abbey. There were some priests on the day discussing ancient labyrinths and how they were used as thinking tools with the monks often walking around them as they pondered life’s mysteries. Of course I had to have a go 🙂  You had the option of being given something to think about as you walked but as I like to practise mindfulness and the Now I preferred to just enjoy my surroundings.

I had a little wander around Old Town peering in the shops (not enough cash for what I really wanted so an excuse to go back!) and had the most wonderful cake at Marie Antoinette’s cake shop before exploring the marina and the rest of the town. It’s a beautiful place and getting there involves yet more amazing scenery so somewhere I want to go back again sooner rather than later.

Middleton Park #Leeds 2016

I love to go walking in our local park. To me it’s South Leeds hidden treasure. There are a lot of deprived spots in our part of town and then in the middle of it all a beautiful park. Originally the park was home to the mines but these have since been filled in. However you can still see in some areas where these mines were especially if you follow one of four trails in the park. There’s also a lake, tennis courts and the most beautiful bluebells and woodlands. The volunteers at the park are always finding events to put on and I’m looking forward to the annual free Shakespeare show by Oddsocks in July.

Here are some photos for you to enjoy:

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