Can there be no more decadent birthday celebration than Afternoon Tea? We were spoilt for choice in Manchester recently when exploring options in the city. Eight friends enjoyed a little shopping and cocktails followed by afternoon tea at King Street Town House on Booth Street.
King Street Town House is housed in an impressive Italian Renaissance building, originally the Manchester Salford Trustees Bank. Today it is a rather posh city centre hotel, famed for its seventh floor infinity pool and private wine cellar dining.
On arrival we were escorted to our own private dining room, one of the resident wine cellars I believe. The ambience was candle lit and cosy , it was certainly a nice touch to inhabit a dining area exclusive to ourselves. Although at times we did feel a little forgotten about by the otherwise attentive staff.
We all opted for the Traditional Afternoon Tea which consists of a sumptuous selection of finger sandwiches, dainty cakes and desserts, and of course the obligitary home baked scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream. I loved how the goodies were decorated with edible flowers and cute Cape gooseberries.
There was a choice of teas and coffees to drink with free refills and out came the mismatched vintage China. Although I don’t make teacup candles anymore, I still love the ritual of drinking tea from a proper teacup. 🙂
The King Street Townhouse Afternoon Tea is perfect for celebrations. A delectable tea time treat. 😁
Thanks to Ailyn, Louise and Sarah for their photo contributions. 🙂
Penrith is a bustling Cumbrian Market Town on the edge of the Lake District. Ullswater is about 20 minutes drive away. At the weekend we parked on the very outskirts and walked in. What immediately strikes a visitor are the many attractive red sandstone houses built from the local sandstone, these give Penrith it’s nick name of ‘Old Red Town’.
We looked for somewhere to have lunch, away from the general hustle and bustle. I can recommend the church Square which is just off the centre and has several little cafes looking out over St Andrews churchyard. St Andrews church itself is an impressive looking building ,it’s tower dating back to the 12th century. And in the churchyard resides a Giants Grave…..
The Giants Grave consists of six tombstones, two ancient crosses standing upright and four lower hogback stones. But who is buried there? One legend has it that it is an ancient Cumbrian King ‘ Owen’ , though it could also be the grave of a great boar hunter ‘ Sir Owen Caesarius’ with the hogback stones representing four large boars. I’m liking the second option! Also in the churchyard is another impressive monument, a Norse Wheel cross known as the Giants Thumb, which until the 19th century was used as a whipping post for punishing local criminals. Very Christian behaviour…..
We had lunch sat outside the Eden Gallery tea rooms, which inside are an eclectic mix of teapots, second hand books & a piano. There is an adorable resident Old English Sheep Dog called Scrumpy and they do a great tuna & cheese panini. 😄
After wandering round the town we headed to Penrith Castle, which can be found up from the centre near the train station. In fact if you arrive in Penrith by train , the red sandstone ruins of this medieval castle are your first view of the town. The once proud fortress helped to defend England from Scottish marauder’s and even became the residence of King Richard III. Today the site is looked after by English Heritage and is part of a public park.
On the way back to the car we stopped for cake at a cafe bar called Xavier’s. We sat outside , though the cafe like quite a few in Penrith is dog friendly. Good to know for future visits!
Have you ever visited Penrith? What are your impressions?
Hi folks , time for another Sunday Sevens, a collection of seven or more pics from my week. It’s been a strange old week that’s for sure. I am now officially unemployed/between jobs/made redundant. It’s all a bit surreal!
The bank holiday weekend included a night away in Manchester with Wil to see singer Newton Faulkner at The Albert Hall. Wow what a fantastic performer and what a wonderful venue too. Cathedral high ceilings and long stained glass windows. Another highlight was breakfast! I booked us into the Alpine style Albert Schloss right next door to the hall on Peter Street. Wil had a huge cooked breakfast ( look at that sausage! 😉 ) and I indulged in an Apple & Blueberry Cruffin. For the uninitiated a cruffin is a cross between a croissant and a muffin. It was delicious. 😁
It was also fab exploring a bit of the city I had genuinely never been to before. The olde worldy pubs, the contrasts in architecture and a statue of Emmeline Pankhurst standing on a chair in St Peters Square, all stood out for me.
I found a wildflower/plant I D ap called plantsnap recently, which is a good one to put on your smartphone if your a bit like me and constantly stumble upon flowers and wonder what the heck they are. It helped me identify the above Cranesbill I spied on the river bank as a Dusky Cranesbill.
Thursday was my last day at work with this merry lot. We have all ( plus two more peeps) now officially left our jobs on the counters at Tesco , having taken redundancy. Here we are downing some prosecco…in tiny shot glasses I may add. 😉
And my last three minutes as a deli assistant ~ my two bonkers friends Jo and Fi dressed up as those supermarket staples ‘ bottle of sauce ‘ & ‘ fried egg’ and escorted me off the premises!
Currently I’m spending a few days with family before a friend’s wedding, four nights in Ravenglass and then a camping trip at the end of the month. Those are my immediate plans.
Bristol does I suppose seem an odd choice of city break for three Lancashire lasses. But decamping to this historic South West maritime port on the banks of the River Avon definitely proved a hit with my friends Anne, Marian and I. Of course it certainly helped that Anne used to work in Bristol and knew of a few good spots to hang out. 😁
One such place was a restaurant with a view in elegant Clifton Village, a lovely suburb of the city , famous for a feat of Victorian engineering. Clifton Suspension Bridge was designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel and finally completed in 1864 , five years after his death. Anne had booked a table at Avon Gorge by Hotel Du Vin overlooking the iconic structure which straddles the Avon Gorge. We made the most of a few photo opportunities on the outdoor terrace before enjoying a really delicious three course meal , a delightful ambience created by Brunel’s bridge all lit up as darkness fell.
After the meal we had a couple of drinks in Clifton Village. Well it would be rude not to try out some local Somerset Cider. 😉
On Saturday morning we headed into the city centre. Anne had booked us tickets for the Bristol Street Art Tour. Arriving early we had a little time to potter round Bristol Cathedral before meeting up for the tour on College Green. The cathedral is an impressive example of a medieval ‘hall church’ with vaulted ceilings and elegant arches. As we admired the beautiful architecture we heard serene choir music wafting from the Bristol Choir School nextdoor.
The city’s Street Art is prolific and booking the walking tour is a great way of getting to know and view some of the colourful graffiti, murals and wall art that Bristol has embraced. Big names in the Street Art world ( most famously Banksy) have illegally made their mark here, whilst other art is commissioned. The scene is transient by nature, some stunning pieces can be here today but gone tomorrow.
The above piece is a Banksy called ‘Well Hung Lover’. It was stencilled on the wall of a sexual health clinic some years ago , apparently in the early hours of the morning. It has been targeted by paint bombs but remains one of Banksy’s iconic art works.
Above are a small selection of commissioned pieces from a 2011 art project called ‘See No Evil’ based around Nelson Street in the city centre. Their sizes alone are impressive.
I loved the geisha and the kingfisher , a beautiful and recent mural by Kin Dose. I hope it remains a while.
And I’m quite taken by ‘ Break Dancing Jesus’ by Cosmo Sarsen , situated in Stokes Croft….
Just opposite Jesus is Banksy’s famous ‘The Mild Mild West’ which due to its age and type of paint used is definitely under threat of simply waring away. Do you think measures should be taken to protect the work of our most famed graffiti artist?
I’m inclined towards loving the freedom of expression in Bristol. The colourful murals and evocative works just add to its vibrancy and charm. I took lots more photos on the two hour tour and would definitely recommend to anyone staying in the city. 🙂
After two hours tramping the streets we were ready for some tasty food! Cafe Cuba , a small family run Caribbean cafe in Stokes Croft really hit the spot. I think this is the first time I have ever tried plantain.
Lunch over we headed to King Street, a colourful area of old pubs and hostelries, for a couple more ciders. And then down to the harbor side. This is when the heavens decided to open , so we whiled a way an hour or so in the free museum of Bristol life M – Shed.
Although our Saturday night plans did involve going out for a meal etc near our Airbnb in the suburb of Shirehampton, we all admitted we were actually pretty knackered and all that we really wanted to do was order in pizza, watch Britain’s Got talent and talk about Game of Thrones. So that’s exactly what we did Saturday night ! Honesty is the best policy. 😉
The next morning we were up bright and early so Anne suggested going for a stroll round nearby Portishead Quays Marina before heading home. This clean ,modern and rather picturesque marina is popular with runners, family’s and dog walkers , and it’s definitely somewhere to go and admire the boats and wonder if buying a water side apartment or even a small vessel is in your pay bracket. Well nope! But it’s fun to dream. 😁
The loop round the Marina takes in several pieces of public art ( in fact there are twenty in total) , also a few restaurants and bars, a convenience store or two and the RNLI shop near the old pier. All in all a pleasant way to spend a couple of hours.
Sometimes I love to revisit places on my blog and Skipton is no exception. On Friday a friend and I took a bus over the Yorkshire border to this pretty market town, often known as The Gateway to the Dales. With its 900 year old Castle, cobbled shopping streets and beautiful woodland walks, Skipton makes for a grand day out. 🙂
As my friend had never visited Skipton Castle, we decided to head there first. The incredibly thick walls of this formidable fortress held off a three year siege in The Civil War. Visitors can explore the many rooms including The Great Hall , the Muniment Tower and the charming Conduit Court. In the grounds Spring brings a glorious display of dancing daffodils.
After aquainting ourselves with the Castle, we felt a bit peckish ! This tasty pie selection in Farmhouse-Fare was to much temptation. Pies bought, we ambled toward Skipton Castle Woods ……. in search of sculptures.
Skipton Castle Woods is a rare ancient woodland with over a thousand years of history. It’s diverse wildlife includes dippers, kingfishers, woodpeckers, deer, bats, badgers and bluebells. Paths follow Eller Beck , meandering through a green carpet of wild garlic leaves. We used the Mill Bridge Entrance to access the woods.
Since my last wander in Skipton Castle Woods two beautiful willow sculptures have appeared, both looking incredibly natural in their forest surroundings. Other new installations include an Eller Beck Information Board and a gorgeous kingfisher carved bench.
After our walk and nosy round the shops we finished our day off with cake. 🙂
My favourite place to go for tea and cake in Skipton is the colourful and Quirky Cakeole in the Craven Court Arcade.
When Wil and I visited Edinburgh recently ,we decided to leave be the usual touristy venues such as the Castle, the Camera Obscura, Mary Kings Close and the Scottish National Gallery. All these wonderful attractions are definitely worth visiting ( and we will again, I am sure), but we wanted to explore some other parts of this beautiful city.
The Scottish Capital has extensive parks, extinct volcanos, hidden bars, Harry Potter inspired locations and the most listed buildings in the world. Here are a few images from our trip.
Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden is just one mile from the city centre, and well worth the walk, if your feeling active. I must admit I was dying to visit the ornate glass houses, of which there are ten. The Victorian Temperate Palm house below is one of the tallest traditional Palm houses ever built. Because it was quite nippy, it was nice to keep warm inside for a while, so I recommend a Winter trip. Look out for the Gardens cat, a handsome black Tom, called Milo. I didn’t manage to get a picture, but he’ll be the one being fussed over by the tourists. 🙂
From the Botanic Gardens it is a pleasant walk alongside the Water of Leith into Stockbridge, an area of Edinburgh with lots of green spaces and a friendly village atmosphere. It’s plethora of independent shops and cafes makes Stockbridge a great place to linger.
Edinburgh is a walkers city! We followed the Dean Path along the waterside to the Dean Village, a beautiful Edinburgh suburb. An Instagrammer’s delight , the Dean Village is incredibly picturesque, but bring a picnic if your planning to eat here. There are no shops or cafes, though plenty in nearby Stockbridge.
One place we reserved a table for dinner was ‘ The Witchery By The Castle‘ near the castle gates. Fine dining in a gothic setting, this restaurant may set you back a few quid, but it is in a very atmospheric setting and the food is mouth watering.
We also discovered some almost hidden bars on our explorations round Edinburgh. Venture down any ginnel off the Royal Mile, and you will find a traditional real ale pub such as The Jolly Judge ( look out for the nearby Writers Museum) and The Jinglin’ Geordie. If your preference is cocktails, The Devil’s Advocate in the Old Town and Brambles in the New Town are both quite hidden from the hustle and bustle, but can get busy even so.
On the Sunday before catching our train home, we took a stroll up Calton Hill which is home to several skyline monuments. From here there are far reaching views over the city and some quite interesting structures, including a building that was once called ‘Scotland’s Disgrace’. It is in fact a half finished replica of the Athens Parthenon , a tribute to the fallen of the Napoleonic Wars. The money ran out and building of the National Monument was never completed. I quite like it though! Other iconic buildings include The Nelson Monument, The Royal Observatory and Rock House, which you can actually rent as a holiday let.
Sunday Sevens is a collection of seven or more photos from the last seven days.
Last Sunday Wil and I were still in Edinburgh, where we had spent the weekend for Wil’s birthday. Sunday morning was spent exploring the monuments on Calton Hill. Well worth a visit! I will have to get round to writing a proper post.
Our favourite meal in Edinburgh and a tick off my bucket list, was this lamb Wellington at The Witchery by the Castle. Talk about melt in the mouth dining , in a sumptuous setting.
Back home to a foggy England. I have actually had the week off work, due to having some holidays to get in before the end of March. Wil took Monday off and we went for a misty wander round the Pendle Sculpture Trail.
Clitheroe had one gorgeous bright cold frosty day which Hugo and I made the most of , with a long walk by the Ribble. I was amused when these two swans emerged from the river and promptly plonked themselves on the path in front of us.
Even though I have been in Scotland this week, I didn’t try Haggis or the traditional Scottish dessert Cranachan. Made from double cream, honey, oats, whisky & raspberries, cranachan is a simple pudding to make….even for me. 🙂 Delicious not only on Burns Night.
Noticed a few clumps of snowdrops whilst out and about this week. And discovered some hiding in my flower beds, once I tidied them up a bit. If your interested, here are a few links to snowdrop walks & weekends. Not sure I will get to go to one myself this year, as were on with decorating the bedroom.
Dog friendly hikes and exploring, mostly around New England. Our Adventures includes: waterfalls, the beach, conservation land, lighthouses, state parks, the woods, the mountains, statues, and castles.
This is my diary of the wildlife where I live in Oxfordshire, and sometimes the places I visit. I am a 16 year old young naturalist with a passion for British wildlife, especially Badgers and Hares. I have been blogging since May 2013 and you can read my old blog posts at www.appletonwildlifediary.blogspot.co.uk