A Bucket List Progress Report and Links & Likes ~ January.

Last year I started my  25 Before 45 Bucket List and although progress is quite slow, I have at least achieved a few things on it !   Whilst I have not yet learned to crochet, swum in a Lido or watched a Film Outdoors, I have managed to Trek With Llamas in the Lake District, Picnic on a Village Green with my old-fashioned Picnic Hamper ( Not very successfully, Hugo ate the cake ! ),  do a Rail Ale Trail Tour  on the East Lancs Railway  and  take part in  The Morecambe Bay Cross Bay Walk  led by the Queen’s Official Guide, Cedric Robinson. I have just under 2 years to complete the list, so hopefully in 2017 I will make a sizeable chunk in it. Wish me Luck!

 

And now for a bit of  Blog love. Here are some links to posts I have enjoyed reading in January. X

Lisa knows where to get warm in the winter. Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens of course!

Leah shares a wonderful Insiders Guide To Malta. 🙂

Snow Day and an Excited Pup on Loving Life In Wellies. So cute!

Em has a delicious recipe for an Amaretto & Apple Juice Cocktail. Looks and sounds heavenly. 🙂

Polly has only gone and had a baby. Congrats Polly. 🙂

Christine has been accidentally  bagging Wainwrights in the Lake District.

Fancy making Memory Jam ? Head on over to Cultivating Time.

Laura has wrote a lovely post about her  Favourite travel companion. 🙂

Gregson the dog has found out that Margate is a very pet-friendly town. ^^

Thanks for Visiting!


A Year In Afternoon Teas.

Last year was a bit of an immense year for Afternoon Teas in my household, so I thought I would document them all in one post. 🙂 Who doesn’t enjoy reading blogs about cake!

 

Scones!

 

The taking of Afternoon Tea was invented by Anna Maria , Duchess of Bedford , in the 1840s. The yawningly long intervals between luncheon and dinner often left her feeling peckish and bored, so one day she requested a light meal of Darjeeling tea and cake. She found this  refreshment to be sufficient in keeping away those annoying hunger pangs, and an ideal opportunity to invite friends over to join her. Thus Afternoon tea was born.

Today Afternoon teas are  still seen as a very British Institution, and have enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in recent times. Birthday treats and Girly Get togethers, Hen parties or Lunch with a loved one, there are plenty of reasons to book one. 🙂

Browns.

Afternoon Tea in the City. Only last month a spot of Christmas shopping in Manchester with friends Arwen and Gill , was interspersed with a lovely Afternoon tea at ‘Browns’ on York Street. Set in the converted Athenaeum pub, the building is a fine example of Edwardian baroque architecture. Choose from a selection of leaf teas served with finger sandwiches, fruit scones with strawberry jam & clotted cream and mini cakes and desserts. £12.50 per person. Brownsrestaurants.co.uk


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The Atrium.

A Picnic Afternoon Tea. Fancy Afternoon Tea in the grounds of a historic Lancashire Castle?  ‘ The Atrium’ at Clitheroe Castle provides a more rustic picnic version of the traditional  afternoon tea. Feast on goodies that include ham hock terrine, sausage rolls, pate & toasts, mocha frappe with shortbread and lemon & vanilla posset. Then take a stroll around the park or climb the steps up the castle keep. £12.50 per person. castleweddingevents.co.uk

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Alice Tearooms.

A Wonderland Inspired Afternoon Tea. Ooooh kids and grown-ups alike would no doubt queue to tumble down the rabbit hole, for a Mad Hatter’s Afternoon Tea. ♤♡ The Alice Tearooms in the Lancashire seaside resort of St Anne’s are a treat for all Lewis Carroll fans. Treat yourself to tea or coffee,mini sandwiches, fruit scones & clotted cream and a selection of cupcakes and rainbow meringues, all served on pretty vintage china in quirky and colourful surroundings. £17.95 for two people. alicetearooms.com

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Hey Little Cupcake !

Cute as a Cupcake Afternoon Tea.  Back in Manchester with the girls and here is an adorable Afternoon Tea at ‘Hey Little Cupcake’ in Spinningfields.  Welcome to a pretty in pink cupcakery and cafe where you will be spoilt with finger sandwiches, chocolate coated strawberries, scones with clotted cream & jam, speciality teas, mini cupcakes and mouth watering macarons. £14 per person. heylittlecupcake.co.uk

Coombe Abbey.

Afternoon Tea for the Guys.  Coombe Abbey in Warwickshire is a historic country house hotel that was originally founded as an abbey in the 12th century. We were  fortunate enough to stay there in March. Gentlemen ( and ladies) can opt for the ‘Knight’s Afternoon Tea’ that features old English favourites including mini pork pies,duck scotch eggs, finger sandwiches , a selection of sweet treats, all washed down with half a pint of Coombe Ale. Served in the attractive Garden Room Restaurant on a mini picnic bench. £22 per person. coombeabbey.com

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Cafe Autisan at Whalley Abbey.

 

Best Value Afternoon Tea.  I’ve visited ‘Cafe Autisan’ at Whalley Abbey in Lancashire a couple of times for Afternoon Tea. Earlier last year I got together with my sister and cousins for a family get-together in this vibrantly colourful tea room, which is run by the National Autistic Society.  We tucked into finger sandwiches, pork pies & chutney, scones with jam & clotted cream and diminutive desserts with tea or coffee. A cake stand piled high with goodies for £7.50 per person. No website but look for Cafe Autisan on facebook.

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Fernhill Hotel.

Afternoon Tea with a View.  Whilst on holiday in Dumfries & Galloway in November, Wil treated me to Afternoon Tea for my birthday at the’ Fernhill Hotel’ in Portpatrick. The stunning views over the harbor and Irish Sea made this lovely celebration all the more special. I loved that the tea & coffee, delicious open sandwiches, scones and cakes were all presented on mismatched vintage china. We could even bring the dog, though Mr Hugo did drool quite a bit when he saw us tucking in! £15 per person. mcmillanhotels.co.uk

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Mitton Hall.

Afternoon Tea in a Country House Hotel.  Mitton Hall near Whalley in Lancashire hosted two of my Afternoon Teas last year. The elegant country house puts the emphasis on naughty but nice cakes and includes open sandwiches and prawn cocktails in kilner jars. Unlimited teas and coffees too. The Afternoon Tea above came served on a three tier cake stand but when I dined there again in November it was presented on separate plates. £15.95 per person. mittonhallhotel.co.uk

 

Are you a fan of Afternoon Tea and have you any booked for 2017?

Lunch at the Freemasons in Wiswell.

Tucked away down a quiet ginnel in the picturesque village of Wiswell in Lancashire, the Freemasons is almost hidden from the eye, a secret place , that if sought out, delivers the most delicious food in a cosy country pub setting.

It seems a while ago now but a group of us congregated here for  New Years Eve Lunch. I was almost tempted to sit outside, all wrapped up in one of those lovely plaid blankets that are draped over the benches. The promise of pre-luncheon drinks lured me indoors , where fox and stags heads adorn the walls and a roaring fire welcomes guests.

Once inside we were promptly shown to our table. As there were 11 of us eating, we had the advantage of a small intimate room to ourselves with a long wooden dining table. Chef Patron ‘Steven Smith’ has turned the bustling  Inn into an aclaimed Gastro-pub with accolades including the highest ranking pub in 2017’s Good Food Guide .There are apparently also plans for several boutique bedrooms! But back to the food……

 The delicious selection of breads that were brought out before the starters were divine and soon devoured. I didn’t have a starter but options included Wester Ross Salmon and Crispy Hen’s Egg with gammon & pineapple. Definitely a ‘ Fish n Chips’ girl , I ordered the Panko crumbed Haddock for my main course. Served with chips and mushy peas and the most lip smacking tartar sauce, I confidently declare this to be my favourite ‘ Fish n Chips’ dish in a long time. 🙂

For dessert several of us chose the Quince. It came with a stem ginger icecream and brownies….and many questions about Runcible spoons. 😉 Wil decided upon the Artisan Cheeses, which he really enjoyed.

Some of my glamorous dining companions.:)

With some starters costing more than your average main , the Freemasons is somewhere I would return for a special occasion or celebratory treat. Hmmm maybe I should hint to Wil about a certain date in February!

www.freemasonsatwiswell.com 

Wildlife Moments of 2016.

Hi there and Happy New Year everyone!  I’ve decided to have a couple of weeks off blogging whilst a bit of decorating gets done ( hopefully!) but first here are some of my favourite wildlife pics from 2016. Looking through my photos, I hadn’t realised there would be so many great wildlife moments captured on camera.

I loved seeing the  Red Squirrels at Formby Point and Haweswater and later in Scotland. Being so used to their larger grey cousins, it was a real treat to hang out with the little tuftys.: )  Hillwalking near Haweswater in Cumbria also gave me my first sighting of a wheatear ,it was perched on a craggy stone wall singing. And spotting Grey Seals on the rocks below Corsewall Lighthouse in Dumfries & Galloway was a joy. 🙂

Of course there were also the moments closer to home when I didn’t have my camera with me. I know darn it, I should always carry a camera! Earlier in 2016 whilst out walking Hugo, we were accompanied by a silent white shadow gliding slightly ahead of us. I can’t describe how magical it was to witness a Barn Owl hunting in the field.:) And another time I was out with Hugo down by the River Ribble, when we were treated to three Hares boxing on the other side of the river. An amazing sight!

If you click on the photos each should hopefully have a description.I hope I have identified everything correctly! Looking forward to lots more sightings in 2017. 🙂

Have you any of your own favorite Wildlife sightings from 2016?

My 2016 ~In Photos.

As is now tradition, I am posting a quick photo round-up of my year. All in all it’s been a pretty good one! I have been slightly more organized than normal and included some post links. Yay!

January.  Woh this seems such a long time ago now. January gave us the only snow of the year. Hugo loved it of course but it only lasted one snow day. 😦 It was still frosty and cold however on our visit to Formby Point where we saw Red squirrels 🙂  And yep thats me with a naked man at Another Place , the Anthony Gormley Art Installation on Crosby Beach.

February.  It was a pretty quiet month in February. We did manage a day out in Manchester however and I had a fun time photographing the Street Art in the Northern Quarter. I also attended my God daughter Mady’s sons christening. I’m not one for holding babies but baby Jason was very chilled. 🙂

March.  Wil and I had a weekend away in Coventry and stopped at the lovely Coombe Abbey Hotel & Country Park. We also visited Coventry itself which had lots of surprises. And later in the month I was in Manchester again , this time for a friends birthday. You can read my post about it here.

April.  Spring arrived at last ( hurrah! ) and I  couldn’t wait to get out and about with my camera and my Ladybird Book Guide To spring. 🙂  A day out at Bolton Abbey in the Easter Holidays was great fun and I treated Wil to a trip on a steam train ( with lots of Real Ale involved 😉  ) on the East Lancs Railway.

May.  The weather was great in May and included a day out in Kirkby Lonsdale with my sister and her family. We even managed a paddle in the river. 🙂 A walk along the banks of Derwent Water in the Lake District was made all the more interesting , when Wil, Hugo and I came across a giant hand sculpture!  Our Holiday Season started in May.:) A camping trip in the Yorkshire Dales , not too far from Fountain Abbey. And a stay in a hotel looking over Haweswater. 🙂

June.  I loved our day out in Malham where we walked up to the Cove and paddled in Janet’s Foss. Think that was Hugo’s favourite part.:) We also went camping in Silverdale and Hugo enjoyed his second ever boat trip, on Lake Windermere.

July.  Clitheroe has had lots of great new eating and drinking venues open in 2016 and the biggest surprise is probably Bowland Beer Hall at Holmes Mill. It’s an amazing space in an old textile mill, host to a listed steam engine and what appears to be England’s longest continuous bar. I attended the opening evening with Wil and some friends in July. I also crossed Llama Trekking off my  Bucket List when myself and some of my family enjoyed a half day with these adorable animals here. Oh and Hugo found himself inside the July edition of The Simple Things Magazine. 🙂

August.  In August there was a holiday at Spring Park  in Cornwall. We stayed in ‘The Duke’ , a beautifully restored Showman’s wagon. On the way down to Cornwall we stopped one night in the spa town of Bath.I would love to return to both places. 🙂 Hugo has been busy bagging lakes all year. Here he is in Grasmere, over the bank holiday.

September. The poor pooch wasn’t quite sure what to think of The The Morecambe Bay Cross Bay Walk. as it involved a lot of doggy paddling. I got pretty soaked too!  The new Bridget Jones film turned into a bit of an event for us ladies.:) And if you like cake ( doesn’t everyone) you will like my post about my friend Nicolas Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning.. She certainly didn’t scrimp on her baking. 🙂

October. We had an unseasonably dry October so this month’s posts are full of Autumn colours. 🙂 I joined in with #30dayswild, and enjoyed fun days out at Lowther Castle & Gardens   and The Forbidden Corner with family.

November. November is my Birthday month so it was great to get away with Wil and Hugo to a holiday cottage in Scotland . The Afternoon Tea in Portpatrick was a Birthday treat courtesy of Wil and it was also nice to get together with friends. 🙂

December.  This month has been all about meeting up with family. 🙂  I’ve included a piccie of my cat Slinky as she does tend to get overshadowed by a certain Black Labrador. And I took part in Janet’s ‘Thrifty Christmas Gift Swap’ which I will post about separately I’m sure. 

Despite the radical changes in this country and abroad in 2016, I guess the best thing to do is just carry on and LIVE. Life is just to short to get depressed about it. So all the best for 2017 guys ….. and see you soon. X

 

 

 

Hygge and enjoying the Winter months. 

The tree is down and the decorations have been put away. Yet the happy times don’t have to end. Winter is so often dark and cold but maybe we should embrace our longest season. Maybe we should do as the Danish do and bring on the Hygge!!  Hygge ( pronounced hoogah) is a Danish word that describes a feeling of cosiness and joy. It embodies the pleasures we take in simple things such as enjoying a mug of hot tea whilst the rain beats at the window, reading a favourite book by candlelight, getting together with friends in a cosy pub or snuggling on the sofa with a pile of blankets and cushions and a good film. It seems that people in Denmark cannot wait for Winter to arrive and their contentment with this time of year surely contributes to their nation being ‘the happiest’ in Europe. 🙂

 

Snuggly Socks. Image via Pinterest.

With this in mind I have consulted ‘The Little Book of Hygge’ by Meik Wiking of The Happiness Institute in Copenhagen ( yes there is such a place! ) and written a list of ideas to help us get through the rest of January and February. No two months need the concept of Hygge more, I feel.:)
Indoors. 

Light candles. The home always feels so much cosier by candlelight.

Feel toasty. Snuggly socks, slipper boots, cozy cushions & throws all add to that super cozy feeling.

Hot drinks. Your favourite coffee, tea or hot chocolate in a lovely new mug. Why not try an unusual  tea , add a flavoured syrup to your coffee or some ginger to hot chocolate.

Bring Nature Indoors. Treat yourself to a few plants or flowers. Or when your out and about look for fir cones, greenery, berries etc and arange them inside.

Take up a creative hobby. I’m always saying I will learn to crochet! Or how about rag rugging, knitting or cross stitch.

Bring out the boardgames. Invite friends or family round for boardgame fun. Remember Scrabble, Monopoly, Connect 4, Kerplunk?

A good book. Hunt out your library card and take out some stories by  your fave authors to read over Winter.

Old Movies. Oldies are the best I think. Some of my faves include Rebecca, The Ghost & Mrs Muir, To Catch A Thief and Roman Holiday. Snuggle down with some of your fave films.

Slow Cook. Make Winter warming stews and fill the home with amazing aromas. Oh and invite  friends round for a hearty supper. They can always bring pudding. 😉
Discover a New Boxset. There are so many! Currently enjoying Orphan Black and just caught up with Black sails. Any recommendations?

Dig out old photos. Or print out some of your favourites  and put in a photo album to enjoy flipping through on a cold Janury evening.

 

Snuggle down in your own Hyggekrog. Image via Pinterest.

Create a Hyggekrog. This is cozy nook in the home where you can snuggle  in a blanket with a good book and a brew.

Build a Hygge Emergency kit. For those times you just want to curl up with all favourite things. Add candles, a book you love, notebook & pen, chocolate, your fave film, some snuggly socks, pjs, a face mask, a pretty teacup and your tea of choice. Or whatever makes you  happy. 🙂

Daylights at a premium in January and February so  I will try and make the most of it. 🙂 Here are  a few ideas.

Out & About.

Blustery Beach Walk.  The UK is full of almost deserted beaches in the Winter , so why not wrap up warm and blow those cobwebs away with an invigorating walk along the coast. Look out for wintering water birds and big skies.

Hire a Beach Hut for the day. Why not rent a base for your day out at the seaside. Be sure to take essentials such as warm blankets, hot water bottles, flasks of hot chocolate and your fave board games. Heres a Beach Hut day rental site in St Annes.


Hunt out Street Art. Fill a flask with your favourite hot beverage and explore your neighbourhood on foot.

Find a Cozy Cafe. There’s nothing more comforting than finding a cozy cafe to relax in when the weather is miserable outside. You can even get that Hygge feeling in one of the many Scandinavian cafes that are popping up around Britain such as Baltzersens in Harrogate and Nordic Bakery in London.
 

 

Snowdrops. Image via Pinterest.

Snowdrop Walks.  January & February bring out carpets of snowdrops. A sure sign that Spring is tentatively on its way. The National Trust has information on Snowdrop walks near you. 🙂


Book A Weekend Away. The great thing about booking a few days away out of season is the price! Look for somewhere with a wood burning stove or open fire for that extra Hygge feeling. I used Sally’s Cottages to find a cozy cottage for a weekend in January.

Borrow a Dog.  If you don’t have a four legged friend, borrow a pooch from a friend or family member and take them out for a long country walk. Fresh air is honestly one of the best cures for the Winter Blues and your new companion will be very appreciative.There’s even a website Borrowmydoggy.com that you can sign up to.

Spa days. Look out for pamper package offers at local spas and treat yourself.

Iceskating. Find your inner child and get out onto the Ice. Some outdoor rinks are open throughout January.www.cntraveller.com.

January & February Celebrations. Take note of winter celebrations such as Burn’s Night at the end of January, Chinese New Year, Shrove Tuesday or ‘Pancake Day’ , Candlemas/Imbolc and Valentine’s Day. Or make that Galentine’s Day to celebrate the girl pals in your life!


 

The Little Book of Hygge.

Hope this post gives you a few ideas of how to combat those Winter Blues. Oh and if it does actually snow, make sure you dig out that sledge!! 🙂

 

 

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