Category

Holidays

A Birthday weekend in Bude with an extra surprise!

This year will see us celebrating several 30th Birthdays, up first was the lovely Ellen’s! Normally we all go away for the weekend around this time of the year to keep away the January blues, however this year we thought what better way to keep them at bay than to tie it in and celebrate Ellen turning the big 3 0!

After trawling many sites online Ash (Ellen’s other half) came across a beautiful Farmhouse called The Old Farmhouse, located just 6 miles from Bude. It was a struggle to find somewhere that would fit all ten of us and a dog in with enough space that we weren’t all on top of each other. This Farmhouse was absolutely perfect and suited all of our needs and more! I know I say it often but the beauty of where we live in Crediton, is that Bude actually isn’t that far away from us, in fact it’s exactly an hour away so in no time we had arrived. We eagerly unbuckled our seat belts and jumped out of the car, even Buck the dog was excited to have arrived, I think he must have sensed our excitement. We explored each room in awe of the place, it was even better than we could have hoped for. We climbed the oak staircase in search of our rooms and again were amazed by what we found, the rooms were decorated very stylishly but in keeping with the 400 year old building, wooden beams lined the ceilings, even the door handles were lovely!

We all chose our rooms and unpacked our bags. Next on the list was to go and do the ‘the big shop’. Me, Ellen and Laura got back in the car and headed for the nearest Supermarket which was not too far away. We grabbed a trolley and filled it to the top, grinning when all of it came to just £90! We had enough to eat like Kings and Queens for the whole weekend all for just £9 each! When we got back to the Farmhouse Dan, Eliot and Laura had arrived leaving us waiting for just one more person. We packed all the shopping away and all stood about chatting for a while and cooked  up our first meal of the weekend… I say a meal in the loosest term, we went for party food and it was bleddy lovely. However before all of this happened I am missing one very important part to this post! Tom arrived shortly before and we were all stood around in the kitchen chatting, Ash had managed to get us all in there without us really realising, he cleared his throat and said he’d like to say a few words… we all thought he was going to thank us all for coming but oh how wrong we were! Before we knew it he had gotten down on one knee and asked his girlfriend Ellen to marry him!!! We were absolutely stunned, gobsmacked and delighted, all at the same time! All three of us Laura’s burst into tears of happiness and although they’d be too manly to admit it I am sure there were a few tears from the men too. That was it then, the Prosecco was popped and we all had a very merry night, partying into the early hours! What a lovely way to start our weekend away and what an evening to remember.

The next day we all woke up with grins on our faces, despite suffering some what from our night before! Dave and Joe cooked up a big breakfast which helped ease our tummies and we planned a trip into Bude to try and clear our headaches.

We grabbed every item of clothing we could squeeze on under our coats to keep warm in the freezing weather, jumped into our cars and made the trip into Bude. We parked up and started our walk along Summerleaze Beach.

We clambered over the rocks and made our way over to Crooklets Beach, eventually making our way up into the town after a few picture stops.

We made our way into the town and stopped in a little shop called Coast and Country Interiors we were enticed in by the beautiful rugs we could see in the window. We ended up purchasing a lovely Welsh Wool rug, oops! I was very pleased with my purchase and the lady in the shop was so nice and helpful. Be sure to check her out if you ever find yourself in Bude.

We made our way back to the car park and returned to the Farmhouse, where we spent the rest of the day chilling out and had a huge curry feast for our dinner, in fact it would be very boring if I documented Sunday as well because we pretty much did the same thing. It was nice to just go away and not have to rush about here there and everywhere, so Sunday was spent chilling out, playing games, eating and hot tubbing. We also made a huge roast for late lunch and sadly said goodbye to Tom and Laura shortly after as they had to get back for work the next day.

Monday soon came around and it was time to pack up and leave behind our amazing weekend. It a weekend we will not forget in a hurry and will look back at with very fond memories. I am still amazed at Ash’s proposal and I think Ellen was still in a bit of shock when we got back. All in all it was a fab way to spend Ellen’s birthday weekend and I am glad we got to spend it with some of our nearest and dearest.

Thanks for an amazing time guys 🙂 and HUGE CONGRATULATIONS to Ash & Ellen x

 

 

Frolicking in the forest – Deer Park Liskeard

The girls and I have often talked about going away together on a trip that doesn’t include inflatable willies and tacky hen do paraphernalia (that’s all good fun of course but there’s a time and a place for it)!

After a lunch date with one of the girls we decided to have a little search, crunch some numbers and put it out there to the rest of them. We decided on a Forest Holidays location, opting for Deerpark. I had been to the Forest of Dean location earlier in the year with another group of friends so thought it best to mix it up a bit.
It had been the main chat of the group in the weeks leading up to the trip, for some it was their only holiday of the year so a chance to get away from it all.
The weekend soon came round, we agreed a meeting point and time and were soon loaded into the cars and on our way, excited for our long weekend ahead! The drive to Liskeard flew by with lots of excited chatter and we soon found ourselves trying to find a car park so we could stop to get some lunch. We quite quickly discovered that Liskeard didn’t have a huge amount to offer us but as a small town it had everything you needed. We had a little wander about and after popping our heads into a hair salon to ask where they recommend for lunch we settled for Olive & Co. It was a small cafe which was already quite busy but they managed to shuffle a few tables around to accommodate us all. Most of us ordered toasties of some kind which were all very nice and freshly prepared. We left shortly after finishing and went in search of a supermarket to do a big shop before checking in. We found a Morrisons and started the mass shopping mission! We were probably in there for far longer than was needed but we left with a bulging trolley and probably more food than we would ever need or eat, we didn’t care we were on holiday! We managed to ram it all into Bekie’s car and made our way to our final destination of the day!

Deerpark is set on the edge of an ancient millpond, deep within a wooded valley, you can almost feel your worries leaving you as you descend down the winding road into the valley. We quickly located the reception and I ran in to check us in. Our home for the weekend was Number 7, it was little more special than all the other wooden lodges because it was the only one to have a tree house adjoining it. We unloaded some of our bags from the car and tumbled through the door to suss out our new surroundings.

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The main lodge consisted of three bedrooms, two with two single beds and one with one double bed, there was then the tree house over the wooden walk way which was absolutely stunning.

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We all chose our rooms, unpacked our cases and put the kettle on for a well deserved brew! The rest of the afternoon/early evening went by in a flash. The lodge came with a hot tub out on the decking which was another draw to the location. With some time spent in there it was soon time to get out to prepare our first evening meal. On then menu for Friday was a chilli broth cooked by Zoe and Bekie, it was absolutely delicious and i’m looking forward to cooking it soon. Once we had finished eating and the dishes had been done we grabbed a drink and settled in for an evening of games, it all got a bit heated as it always does but lots of laughs were had too.

The next morning we all slowly rose from our slumbers (after being woken by the honking of geese) in search of breakfast, a couple of the girls went out for a little run before everyone else was up but once they returned we all sat around together. The plan for the day was to go out nearby, Anna and I decided we would prefer to stay where we were and explore the area, so that’s what we did. We waved off the other girls and got ready to go out on a little wander. Deerpark in early autumn/winter is a beautiful colour, the leaves were still dropping and it was also quite muddy but we came prepared with welly boots so we weren’t bothered. We left our lodge and walked up and down various pathways, across bridges and stepping stones and up leafy lanes until our tummies started rumbling telling us it was time for lunch! We acquired a bag of kindling wood on our way back for our little log burner later that evening, cosy toes here we come!
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We trudged back to the lodge yanked off our wellies and fired up the grill for a good old bacon sarnie. The rest of the afternoon was spent sat in front of the TV chatting and watching a film whilst I sewed together some Christmas decorations.

The girls came back a little later with tales of their afternoon adventure, we weren’t sure where they were going when they left but they had chosen to spend the afternoon in lovely Looe.
The rest of the afternoon was spent with everyone having a bit of a chill out, some in the hot tub, some on the sofa and some in the kitchen.
Jade had tagged me in a recipe on Facebook for something that looked deadly but also divine… slow cooker hot chocolate! Once we had finished our film I sploshed all the ingredients into the slow cooker, set a timer for two hours and awaited our chocolatey mess! Zoe, Anna and I started a game of scrabble and before we knew it the two hours were up! We all had a great big mug filled to the top with marshmallows and squirty cream, it was a chocolate lovers dream if not a little sickly!
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It was fast approaching dinner time for the second evening. Saturday nights chef’s were Jade and Leanne, cooking up a Raclette feast. For those of you who have never experienced Raclette it’s basically a melted cheese-fest! You have the grill plate on the top and then several paddles underneath to melt the cheese. You can put whatever you like on it really, we went for beef, chicken, peppers, onions and mushrooms. We also had new potatoes and a tomato sauce to add to the mix. You cook it all up on the grill and pour the cheese, once it’s melted, all over the top, yum!

The dishes were loaded into the dishwasher and we all sat down for a humorous game of Card Against Humanity. If you haven’t played this game before it’s not for the faint hearted or easily offended! Lots of belly laughs were had at some of the obscene cards played, after we laughed our selves silly we settled back into the sofas and watched a film for the rest of the evening.
Sunday was when everything changed, Leanne and Bekie left early in the morning to get back for various commitments, leaving the 5 of us remaining wondering what to do with our day.
After a slow start and a breakfast of Bacon, Eggs and Toast we decided to take a trip to Polperro. We all jumped in Jade’s car and took a 15 minute or so drive to our destination. On arriving and parking up Polperro seemed like a funny little place, almost like you would have to pay to get in. We walked along concrete pavements admiring the village as we went.
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We soon stumbled across our first shop, a cute little sweet shop selling lots of different fudges and confectionary. We couldn’t resist and ended up buying several different sweet treats.

Our next stop was a lovely quaint Christmas shop! It was bursting with lots of twinkly decorations for my Christmas obsessed lot, it was like their version of heaven 🙂
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We dragged them away and ended up in another Fudge Shop Roly’s, they have several around Devon and were sampling their Christmas Pudding Fudge which was delicious!
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Resisting the urge to buy any more sweet treats (or at least I did) we carried along through the little fishing village. We eventually ended up at the Harbour Side which was very picturesque with boats bobbing up and down, fishing nets in baskets and dogs bounding about the beach. We stopped to admire the view for a little while trying to decide how much further we should walk. We slowly turned around and made our way back up through the village. It was such a pretty little place and full of lots of quirky little features

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We wandered back to the car park, jumped in the car and headed back to our retreat. Jade parked up the car and we settled on the sofa with a cup of tea and a rematch of scrabble and films while the fire roared away in the corner. Tonights menu was a good ol’ Sunday Roast cooked by me, Anna and Harriet. We prepped it all well in advance so there wasn’t so much to do, the chicken had been cooking away in the slow cooker all day so that was easy too! It was soon time to sit and eat and we all enjoyed our last evening meal together whilst chatting about the weekends events and future events to come.

Sunday eve was spent playing even more games (it was a weekend made for them) and watching a bit of Strictly and I’m a Celebrity. The evening rolled on and soon we were heading up to bed for the last time that weekend.
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Monday we woke up to the task of packing up and clearing up! We were right in that we didn’t need as much food as we thought but divided up between us to take home. We had our last breakfast together to eat up the bacon and eggs. Once we’d fuelled ourselves for the day we packed up Jade’s trusty wagon, waved good bye to our lovely home for the weekend and begrudgingly handed our key back to reception.

I thoroughly enjoyed our trip away and it was just what we all needed. Forest Holidays are fab and have never let me down so I will always recommend them!
We were sad to say goodbye but already planning our next trip. Thanks for a fun weekend Girls xx
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Watergate Bay Cornwall – My new love!

September marked our 5th Wedding Anniversary… yes where did the time go!? We thought it was worthy of a bigger celebration this year so we decided to go away for the weekend. On our list of places to visit was Watergate Bay in beautiful Cornwall, it is a place I have been wanting to visit for a long time but not had an excuse to book it up, this one seemed perfect! We booked a standard room with Dinner, B&B, it can be quite pricey but we were celebrating so thought we would treat ourselves.

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The drive to Cornwall took us just over an hour and a half, I always forget how close to Cornwall we are, we got stuck in a little bit of traffic but weren’t in any real hurry so didn’t mind.
Watergate Bay is located on the North Coast of Cornwall just a few miles from Newquay and is the perfect location for surfers and walkers or sunbathers (however we do live in England!). To quote their website “It’s a place that’s about the balance in life – being active, getting among the elements, eating and drinking well, chilling out and getting cosy. Most of all, it’s about having a good time” and oh how very true this is! It perfectly sums up the hotel and it’s relaxed atmosphere, as soon as you walk in the door the deep purple carpets are scattered in sandy foot print marks from all the guests visiting the beach down below.
Upon arriving at the hotel we backed into a space in the small car park at the front of the hotel, as usual we were too early for check in so went to explore the area and grab some lunch, despite being early you are still able to use all of the facilities the hotel has to offer. We chose to eat in The Living Space for lunch, it’s a beautiful room with windows most of the way round, opening out to a stunning view of the beach below. It was busy because we’d arrived at peak lunch time but we managed to find a seat and admire the view. We both ordered BBQ Brisket Ciabatta’s with a side of fries (the fries were amazing!), Dave had a local cider and I went for a White Peach Bellini (well we were celebrating)! The food was delicious and we were soon feeling very stuffed!
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Once we paid our bill we headed back outside to go and explore the area. Next to the Hotel is Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen restaurant and The Beach Hut, we didn’t have time to pop into these restaurants but that’s an excuse to go back! We made our way past these and up a small foot path that takes you on a cliff top walk, I think if we had walked far enough we could have ended up in Newquay but it was so windy we deiced against it, we did however walk a little way along and manage to get some lovely pictures.
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We soon got fed up of being battered by the wind and made our way back to the hotel to check in – hoorah! We arrived at reception and were greeted by very friendly staff, the lady that helped us gave us our key cards and told us how to find our room, she assured us it was a lovely room and we hoped she wasn’t wrong! We swiped the key card and pushed open the door… we were not disappointed, the room was beautifully decorated AND we had a sea view, yay! The hotel is partnered with Joules so all of the staff uniform is Joules and features in the room too, my favourite was the navy striped mugs 😀 Our room was beautifully decorated in white washed furniture and blues and greys.
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The wind that day was really strong and despite being inside with all the doors shut we could hear the ferociousness of the sea, we pulled back the net curtain and opened the door to sit out on the balcony and watch the waves crashing on the shore and admire our view – navy stripy mugs in hand full of tea, heaven!
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You could never get bored of the view but after a little while we decided not to waste our afternoon so grabbed our swimming things and went down to make use of the 25m infinity pool. This again had the most amazing view of the sea and really is a must while you are there. After a few lengths we dried off and went in search of a drink, there are a few places to choose from but we decided to stay close to where we were and went into the Ocean Room, it was somewhere one of the staff told us to go when we checked in, again we were not disappointed, I know I keep going on about the view but it really is stunning. We ordered a beer and a cocktail and let the day drift on while watching the wind whip up the sea and the last of the surfers pack up for the day.
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The afternoon soon drifted on and it was time for dinner. We had booked into Zacry’s one of the other restaurants on site, three course of deliciousness. They serve food that combines Cornish attitude with a classic brasserie, I believe they have also won several awards and I am not surprised the food was delicious.
The menu is very seasonal and changes daily so every day is different. We were seated by the window and wished a Happy Anniversary shortly followed by a complimentary glass of Prosecco each which was a lovely little touch.
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We studied the menu for a little while, it was so hard to choose! In the end I went for a Crab Salad and Dave went for Parfait (I forget which kind) for starters and for mains we both pushed the boat out and had Lobster, something we have never tried before.
The starters were lovely and light and just the right amount, leaving room for our mains, our lobster arrived with green beans and triple cooked chips, I won’t lie I was a little afraid I wouldn’t like it but I was being brave and trying new things. It all came out looking lovely and we both tucked in neither of us saying much just enjoying our food.
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It was soon time to move on to pudding, my favourite. I went for the Ice Cream and Sorbet and Dave went for the ‘alternative’ Cheesecake, both were amazing, my favourite being Strawberry Prosecco Sorbet!!! Absolute heaven.
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We were both absolutely stuffed once we had finished. The food was amazing and I can’t wait to go back again to try something different. The staff were brilliant too.
We left the restaurant and went across to The Living Space, we had a note pushed under our door after we had been swimming to say that a wedding was at the hotel that day and they had arranged to have a fireworks display that we could all watch from the hotel. This was amazing, however the weather was horrendous with driving, sideways rain! Despite this the fireworks were still to go ahead. They were brilliant and a lovely extra touch, especially as we were celebrating our wedding too.
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The next morning we woke to the sound of loud wind outside and crashing waves, the curtains were thick blackout curtains so I expected to pull them back to reveal awful weather, but to our surprise the sun was shining and it had turned out to be a lovely morning!
We went down to enjoy our breakfast, which again was amazing, waffles with all the trimmings, a real treat, before going out to walk the beach and heading home (chores were calling us – boo).
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We walked up the beach, admiring the crazy Kite Surfers and discovering lots of hidden caves in the cliffs, it’s a lovely beach and seems to get very busy, they even have beach polo once a year which I bet would be good fun to watch.
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After we’d walked the beach and woken ourselves up we went back up to our room to grab our bags and check out, albeit with a heavy heart. I absolutely loved our stay here and really cannot recommend it enough if you are stuck for a mini break idea, the staff really cannot do enough for you and I CANNOT wait to come back.
See you soon Watergate Bay x

Enchanting Edinburgh

A week off continued…
The next part of our trip saw us heading up to Scotland. I have never been that far North before so was very much looking forward to it.
We checked out of our hotel, loaded ourselves up like pack mules we went out to load up the car, belts buckled and sat nav set we headed off waving good bye to the lovely Daffodil Hotel (we will be back one day I’m sure).
The drive out of the Lake District is something to be marveled at with it’s picturesque scenery, rolling hills and stone walls, not to mention the grey scale tones the sheep came in!
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It took us just under three hours to get to Edinburgh, we weren’t in any great hurry, taking in all the scenery as we went. Arriving in Edinburgh the fun soon began, we were staying in the Ibis Styles in St Andrews Square, the problem I had when finding a hotel to stay in when planning our trip was finding one that came with parking, so our first job was to find a car park that was near to where we were staying! It turned out to be fairly easy and I don’t remember getting lost at this point, however trying to navigate your way out of the car park on foot was a nightmare, we had to go through a John Lewis…could we find the exit??!! I wanted to throw down my bags and shout get me out of here! Eventually we saw the sun shining through a door way and managed to get out before we became a piece of the furniture in the store. Once we got out side to day light – phew- we made our way to our hotel to drop off our luggage, good old Google Maps was our friend for the next few days. We managed to find our hotel fairly easily but the long way round, anyway we climbed the steps with me trailing behind in a grump. The lady at reception was nice and friendly and answered all of my questions with ease and informed us that we had been upgraded to a superior room, hoorah! Despite being early for check in (again) we were given our keys and made our way up to the top floor of the hotel. The superior-ness of our hotel room meant that it came with a balcony which was great, the first day it was clear weather and we had a fantastic view of the City, Dave asked me to remind him to take a photo before we left, however this was not to be as the weather soon turned and we were left with this wonderful view! Bad times 🙁
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We dropped off our bags and went out to explore a city that was new to me. We picked a good location to stay, it was fairly easy walking distance to get to everything we wanted to see.
Right at the bottom of the road was a very gothic looking piece of architecture called the Scott Monument, it was almost eerie looking standing tall at the bottom of the road, we later learnt that it is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott and stands at 60 meters tall, so as you can imagine it’s quite imposing… so now you know too 😉
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We found ourselves making our way up to the famous Edinburgh Castle, we had thought that we might not go in but soon changed our minds once stood outside. There wasn’t a queue to get in so we made our way through the entrance, there were lots of work men setting up for the Edinburgh Tattoo it looked like a huge task but a great event to see I bet. We walked in through the brick entrance and went in search of the ticket office, after being served by a very friendly lady we made our way through the ticket barrier and started our tour of the castle. We spent a good few hours looking in all the different rooms they had and learnt a lot along our way. It was bustling with tourists as you would expect but worth a visit, Dave even found his own Tower!

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Once we had finished at the Castle we wandered back to our hotel to get changed and search out somewhere nice for dinner. Where we were staying in St Andrews Square was very handy for places to eat as it backed on to Rose Street and George Street, both good streets for restaurants and bars. We left the hotel and went into All Bar One for a drink, after here we came across an American Restaurant called The Filling Station at this point we were starving, the menu looked like it had plenty we would both like so we made our way in and settled into a booth in the window.
We both had two courses and left feeling stuffed! The highlight for me was warm dough pretzels with sea salt and garlic butter, scrum! After a couple more drinks we made our way back to our hotel with full bellies and heavy eyes from our eventful day.
The next morning we woke up and went down for breakfast, it was a little different to what we were expecting, being that it wasn’t a cooked breakfast – cue a grumbling Dave, it was continental style but still a huge amount to choose from. Once refueled we made our way out of the hotel to further explore Edinburgh. We didn’t really have any plans so just walked and walked… and walked everywhere! The weather had turned a bit miserable so we made plenty of coffee and beer stops. I think Edinburgh is a place best discovered by foot, there are so many little streets steeped in history and hidden away.

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 We walked along the Royal Mile and found a Bakery that was highly recommend by a good friend, called Mimi’s Bakehouse, it would have been rude not to try it so we popped in and came out with boxes of lovely treats, including a delicious Snickers Chocolate Brownie! It was the best thing I had eaten in a long time, thanks for the recommendation Helena!
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After our brief pit stop we carried on along the Royal Mile and soon found ourselves outside some strange looking buildings, after a quick search for a sign we discovered they were the Parliament Buildings, they were certainly very different!
Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures of them so you will have to go and visit for yourself. Opposite this was Holyrood Palace which is the official residence of the Queen in Scotland, it’s a really beautiful building in which the Queen spends one week at in the summer, where she carries out official engagements and ceremonies. If you keep walking along here you come to the bottom of a very steep hill in which you can climb up to Arthurs Seat, this was what we were going to do the following day so we turned around and went back in search of somewhere to rest of feet for a little while.
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In the evening we had arranged to meet with a good friend who lives in Glasgow, he caught the train in so we met him from the station and went in search of somewhere to eat for dinner. He took us to an area called The Grass Market, we went to a pub and had a little catch up then walked on to find somewhere nice to eat, we ended up in a little Mexican called Mariachi which was lovely and a good choice by Stu, I would highly recommend! We stuffed our faces with Nachos and Burritos and left in search of another bar for a drink before Stu had to catch the train home. We walked back in the direction of our hotel and found a little bar called The Boozy Cow unfortunately for the boys it was mostly a cocktail bar, I was in my element and the boys embraced it, going for manly Irn Bru Cocktails… why would you not drink Irn Bru when in Scotland!
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Soon it was time for Stu to catch his train so we walked back to the station with him, with the promise of catching up soon. We wandered back to our hotel and packed up our bags in preparation for check out the next morning.
In the morning we went down for our last breakfast and checked out soon after. We were heading back down South and stopping off in Stoke on Trent to break up the trip home… I will tell you why we were staying here in my next post! However before this we made a trip up to Arthur’s Seat, normally this (I imagine) would be a beautiful walk but because of the weather we could barely see 10ft in front of us because of thick fog, we sweated our way up the steep hill to see yet more fog, then made our way back down feeling quite disappointed.
We really enjoyed Edinburgh and will definitely add it on our places to go back and visit, perhaps we will fly next time though!
I would highly recommend it for any one that likes exploring historic cities and walking, it is also very good for food and drink lovers! Thanks for having us Scotland you were a pleasure, despite the weather!
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Glorious Grasmere – Lake District

It’s getting to that time of year where the nights start drawing in and there is a little more chill in the air, having not taken a single week off from work so far this year we decided it was good time for a little R&R before winter properly rolls in.
We have been fortunate enough to visit several different countries around the world on our annual holidays but this year we thought we would try something a little different and give a ‘staycation’ a go, visiting some of the places we have been meaning to go to in our own country. This blog post will therefore be written over several posts rather than one mammoth post, I am one for rambling on so don’t want to bore you!!

Walking out of the office with a little spring in our step on Friday afternoon we went home to pack up our bags for a week of exploring. We loaded up the car at an ungodly hour on Sunday morning in order to hit the road before the usual build up of motorway traffic. For the first part of our trip we were headed for the Lake District. I had high hopes for this part of our trip, having done my research and followed lots of Lake District accounts on Instagram I was hopeful of a few rays of sunshine, however for anyone who has been to The Lakes before you will know this is very much wishful thinking!
We arrived in good time and didn’t meet a single traffic jam (well worth the 4am wake up call!), we turned off the Motorway and made our way through the Lake District National Park. As we navigated our way through we ended up passing by Lake Windermere so made our first stop of the day. We found a car park towards the end of the town, put our coins in the park car meter and off we went. Windermere was a nice little town full of lots of little gift shops selling Kendal Mint Cake and quaint little coffee shops, we wandered up the streets to see what it had to offer. After making our way through the tourists we went back down to the lake, there were many people queued up for the different types of boat tours around the lake, we decided against it but I am sure they would have offered some fantastic views

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As we made our way back to the car we passed many tourists fascinated by the local swans and geese, they were trying to feed them and got way too close for my liking. We got back to the car and decided to make our way to our hotel to see if they would let us check in early.

The short drive to our hotel was a very picturesque one (that word maybe used a lot in this post, the lake district really is very pretty) we passed another lake which I have forgotten the name of but it was full of families giving water sports a go in the little bit of sunshine that had made an appearance. Eventually we made it to our Hotel; The Daffodil Hotel in Grasmere, situated right next to the lake Grasmere.

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We made our way into the beautiful old building which was first built in 1855, it has obviously since had a vast amount changed but it is still very impressive inside. We paid a little extra to have a room with a valley view (well we weren’t going to drive all that way to look at a road!) we were quite impressed with it and glad we paid the extra.

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We couldn’t check in early so we made our way back out and decided to go for a wander about Grasmere. It was a short walk down the main road to reach the little village which was bustling with more tourists and a few locals.  After stopping off and looking in a few shop windows we came across a nice little cafe called The Grasmere Tea Rooms where we stopped for lunch. We managed to find a table outside and watched as the hustle and bustle of the lively village went on.

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After lunch we carried on through the village in search of the famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop, we soon found it as it was the only shop to have a huge queue out of the door. It was only a tiny little shop but is world famous for it’s gingerbread which was first made in the Victorian era of 1854. It was not quite what I was expecting but was devoured by myself and friends when we got back home. Time soon went by and we made our way back to check into our hotel. We were met by the friendly staff at reception and told we still had to wait a few more minutes but that was fine by us as we made good use of the bar, make mine a Strawberry Daiquiri!29146950704_6ee2c9f4d8_z

With alcohol warming our bellies it was finally time to check in. We collected our key cards and made our way up to the second floor, our room was lovely with a bed so big you could probably fit four in! We unpacked a few things and quickly made our way down to the spa. The spa had only just been renovated in the last week so it was lovely to be able to use the brand new facilities it had to offer. It came with the usual a pool, steam and sauna rooms and then three different type water features to massage your back, or so that was the theory, me being on the shorter side just felt like I got battered by water, however we both left feeling a lot better for it.

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We returned to our room with our skin feeling softer and our shoulders a little more relaxed, time to get ready for dinner. There were two rooms you could eat in, the Lounge or the Dining room, we chose to eat in the Dining room the first night. It was a relaxed atmosphere with plenty to choose from on the menu, I went for the Steak and Dave went for Pork Belly, which we both really enjoyed, we had no room for pudding after cocktails and beer. We retired to our room with full bellies and feeling sleepy after our long drive.

The next morning we got up and headed down for yet more food, Breakfast! There was so much to choose from with the traditional fry up and also continental. Once we had eaten a bit of everything and Dave going back for seconds we made our way out for the day, deciding to just get in the car and explore the area. We visited Keswick first which was a little town not far up the road, after Keswick we weren’t sure what to do so got back in the car and just drove for a little while, we had no clue where we were going but that was part of the fun! We visited several little places and found a few lakes and plenty of sheep, the views were amazing despite the weather, Dave said he preferred it with the the low clouds, it made it more mystical I suppose!

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We found our way up some steep slopes and narrow roads but eventually made it back to our hotel, just in time for our afternoon tea. We’d booked it as a bit of a treat and wow what a treat it was! It was so much that we couldn’t eat it all and ended up taking it away with us in boxes!

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It came with everything you could wish of an afternoon tea and more! We left with sugar whizzing around our blood stream and went to walk it off around Lake Grasmere. The lake was very pretty and almost beach like in some spots, we felt like odd ones out having not packed any walking boots (Dave doesn’t even own a pair) but we managed, just about, in our trainers, we got rained on a little bit but it didn’t dampen our spirits, we were too busy appreciating the view.

Our hotel from across the lake –

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We strolled back to our hotel and spent the rest of the evening, relaxing and visiting the spa again. When we got back to our room we decided against going back out for dinner and did something I’ve never done before… ordered room service! What a treat!

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We ate pizza, drank wine and watched TV, you might call us boring farts but we loved it 🙂

After another good snooze we woke and went down for breakfast, packed up our bags and made our way on to Scotland. We had a lovely time at the Daffodil Hotel they really couldn’t do enough for you. I would highly recommend staying there if you ever visit the area and don’t forget to book a room with a view and treat yourself to afternoon tea… you won’t regret it I promise!

 

Center Parcs – Woburn Forest

One thing I have learnt over the last few months is never to keep a secret from my Mum, it turns out she HATES them, that and surprises!!

A couple of weeks ago it was a big birthday for her so we decided that we should surprise her with a trip away. Having never been before we settled on Center Parcs – Woburn Forest, just outside of Milton Keynes. We thought it would be a good place to go together as a family and would have plenty to do once we got there.

After a bit of wrestling and some Tetras skills we managed to fit most things in the car, mum had packed for every eventuality unaware of where she was going and we started our 4 hour journey to our destination. I don’t know how we managed it but she still didn’t know where we were going right up until Center Parcs was eventually signed posted on the roads, then our plot was foiled. She seemed pleased with where we had taken her and we were all relieved to have no more secrets, especially Dad!

At this particular Center Parcs check in was at 3pm, we made it there with 4 mins to spare, so we joined the queue awaiting the barriers to rise to let us in for our weekend of adventures. As we approached the queue the barriers had already been lifted and we were on our way to our lodge. We drove past several multi story lodges which looked just like wooden every day houses, they were huge, a few minutes later we located our lodge and pulled in to start the mammoth task of unloading our rammed car. My brother was arriving with his girlfriend a little later so we sorted out all our bits and then headed out to return the car to the car park (all Center Parcs have a policy in which you must return your car to the car park for the duration of your stay, which is a good idea as the park is full of small children). Once we found a space and checked we hadn’t left anything in the car we went to hire our bikes for the weekend (a must at any Center Parcs). Bike hire is £30 per bike for the weekend, which I didn’t think was too bad, it took the hassle out of taking our own, although we would have quite liked to have done that. Within an hour of Dave being on his bike he had managed to fall off in quite a spectacular fashion, nearly straight over his handle bars, in his own words – “nothing handles like a rental”!

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We rode around for a little while exploring the park. We stopped off to book into one of the many on-site restaurants for dinner, we chose Hucks an American restaurant and booked in for 7.45pm, in the hope that my brother and his other half would have arrived by then. There were several other places to choose from, including Cafe Rouge and Strada, but we thought we would try something we didn’t already have at home. After this we made our way back up to the lodge for a well deserved cider. Shortly after my brother and his girlfriend arrived, we had never met before, so introductions were made as we helped them unload the car. Dave and I unlocked our bikes and they followed us back to the car park and we showed them where to hire there bikes… here is where the fun began, boys being boys, it was then a competition to see who could do the biggest skids, this was then the theme for the rest of the weekend! We rode back to the lodge, picked up Mum and Dad and made our way out for dinner.

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Upon arriving at the restaurant we locked up our bikes and made our way in. We had to wait a few minutes in the bar before being seated but by the time we ordered our drinks our table was ready. The restaurant was a typical american themed restaurant with metal signs hanging from the walls and all wooden interior. We were given our menus which listed a wide selection of things to choose from. One thing I will say is that none of it came very cheap, a salad being at least £14.50. We all ordered our food which came out in good time, Dave had the biggest burger he could find and Dad had chicken wings, the rest of us went for a salad. It wasn’t the best meal we have had, it especially wasn’t worth it’s expensive price tag. Anyway being the British folk that we are none of us grumbled about the uninspiring food and we made our way back to our lodge.
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The weather forecast for Saturday looked pretty dire so we decided to go tenpin bowling on Saturday afternoon, you will notice the running theme of this blog post… the expense of everything! We did come prepared but you definitely need to save a few pennies for your Center Parcs trip because not a lot is included for free! Bowling wasn’t too badly priced and we played for an hour with children screaming either side of our lane, although I can’t complain because it is a place for families after all!
After bowling we went for lunch at the pancake restaurant (again crazy prices!!) we all ordered something slightly different and all enjoyed them, they weren’t like your normal pancakes, they were a bit thicker and very fluffy. We then went a burned off our lunch with a round of crazy golf (yes you had to pay for it and no it wasn’t cheap) we all enjoyed whacking the dimpled balls with our battered metal clubs, even if we were holding up everyone else who were taking it slightly more seriously! I’m ashamed to say I came joint last with my brother, but we had a good laugh around the way so we didn’t mind! We even found some hobbits in their hobbit house 😉
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After our game of golf we wandered back to our lodge on our bikes, with the boys in front skidding all the way back. They wanted to get back to watch the football and we thought it would be cheaper to watch it in our lodge with the keg of beer we had bought, rather than sit in the sports bar where beers were £5.10 a pint! Me, Mum and Arusha sat on the sofa and played cards while the boys were being lads and watching the football supping pints. We decided that evening to retrieve the car from the car park and pop out for Dominoes Pizza. At this point it had started to rain, Mum and I made the short journey into the town to collect the pizzas and then walked as fast as we could back from the car park, we’d considered taking our bikes but thought we would be devastated if our pizzas ended up on the floor, so thought it best to walk. We devoured every slice and washed it down with a few elderflower and gin cocktails (recipes to follow)! After the football has finished out came the cards, we decided our next game would be Cards Against Humanity, what an awful idea that is with your parents! However none of us were particularly offended and we certainly learnt a lot about our parents! Oh the horror. There were a lot of tears of laughter that evening, but that’s good for you right?!
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Sunday was soon upon us and we had decided to check out the ‘Subtropical Pool’ – which just so happened to be free – Hoorah! Dave sat this one out as he’s not really in to swimming, he made use of his time in the Starbucks next door. But oh the fun he missed out on! My mum isn’t a huge fan of water park type pools after an accident on holiday when we were kids, so we went carefully with her 🙂 However Me, Dad, Adam and Arusha took full advantage of all the rides on offer. First up was the outdoor rapids which were hilarious! You enter through a bit of a jacuzzi type pool which is where we left mum, you then go through some pretty awful clear plastic flaps (a bit like the ones you see in a butchers shop!) to get through to the outside where the rapids begin. You start at the top of the white concrete trail push yourself off and away you go! Some parts are deeper than others meaning you bash your knees and legs a bit, it twists and turns and just takes you along. It’s great fun and very funny to watch your family members bashing into each other. We ended up with a few bruises from that one, one go wasn’t enough so we went a few more times!
The next thing we tried was one of the water slides, you could do this in a two seater ring or a single person ring. Dad decided to go on his own, while Adam and his girlfriend went in a double ring, leaving me and Mum, I am sure she didn’t really want to ride but I made her come with me and assured her she would be fine. We got to the top of the steps and entered the pool at the entrance to the slide, she still wasn’t sure about going but I hopped in the front making her get in the back with her bum in the air, the light went green and away we went with Mum screaming the whole way down, all went fine until we got to the end and our ring tipped up and she grazed her leg in the shallow landing pool. I did feel bad about it but I hope she was glad she did it. To make up for it we let her choose what we did next, so on to the lazy river we went! We did this a few times and then decided we should catch up with Dave and grab some lunch. We had great fun in the pool and wished we had done it earlier on in the weekend, especially as it was one of the only things that was free.
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We went back for lunch and decided to carry on making the most of our bikes for the rest of the afternoon. We decided to give the Treasure Hunt a go, however it was again something you had to pay for, I asked one of the park rangers about it and he said there was a meeting point and we had missed it, so we just did it on our own. Dave took the roll of Treasure Hunt leader and off we went. You had to find 9 different wooden signs around the park which each had a clue on them as to how to find the next one, they also had a letter on each of them which you had to collect to spell a word. We spent most of the afternoon searching the park for clues, Dave got really into it while the rest of us got disctracted – we even tried hiding from him at one point! How mean!
We found most of them quite quickly but the last couple puzzled us, so we stopped for an ice cream. Eventually we found the last one and tried to work out the word, now I don’t want to spoil it for anyone that might visit in the future so I won’t give the word away 😉
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Once we had finished treasure hunting we popped to the on site supermarket, which I have to say was very reasonable. We picked up two disposable BBQ’s and some BBQ’s packs and luged it back on our bikes, I was the only one to bring a back pack so I was the donkey that afternoon. As we got back it started to rain which wasn’t ideal for BBQing, however there was another football match on so the boys watched that and by half time the rain had passed. Mum and I lit the BBQ and got cooking. We all filled our bellies with chicken, burgers, sausages and some very BBQ’d ribs. We all obviously washed it down with lots of beer and yet more cocktails.
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Sunday night we had a fairly early night because we knew we had to drive miles the next day. We woke up early Monday morning and packed up all our bits and collected our cars from the car park, a little sad to be going home so soon.
I think that Mum enjoyed her long weekend away with us all and it’s made me think that we should do it more often. Centre Parcs was great for what we wanted, it is very family friendly but maybe more so for younger families, although there were all sorts of people there, couples with tiny babies, older couples and even the odd hen do or two. It’s quite an expensive place to visit so I would recommend saving a few pennies before you do go, but I think you can make it as cheap or expensive as you like really, there is a fully equipped kitchen if you wanted to cook a few nights too. It’s also set in a beautiful location with lots of wildlife around, we saw squirrels most mornings, foraging on the patio.
Overall we had a fab time, despite my whinging about the price of things 😉
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Fun in the Forest – Forest of Dean

Last year we decided that a trip away with friends was just what the doctor ordered. We had such a good time that we decided to make it an annual thing.
This year we chose to return to the same place as last year, which was run by a company called Forest Holidays in the Forest of Dean.
Being a group of ten it’s quite hard to find somewhere that we can all go and be in one place together. The Forest Holidays site is perfect to fit us all and even our friends fury companion Buck.
In the main lodge there are 4 rooms, 2 doubles and 2 twins, with three bathrooms, one en suite. There is a large lounge area with big comfy sofas and a log burner, be sure to bring our owns logs and you will be very cosy all weekend. Off the lounge is a well equipped kitchen with everything you could need for a weekend away and a huge wooden table to seat all of the guests. From here there is a door out on to the decking and the best bit…the hot tub! There is also a stepped walk way to the bedroom we had, which was the tree house with an Alice in Wonderland theme, which sleeps two more people. It is a lovely little extra with a big walk in shower, lovely comfy double bed and an electric wood burner style fire, making it lovely and warm, which is just what is needed after running back from the hot tub. It also has built in wardrobes and a kettle to make your tea in the morning.

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We didn’t really have many plans for our weekend as we’d all had busy months leading up to the weekend, meaning everyone was very up for some well needed R&R.
We left Exeter at 12.45 after packing up each of our cars (who knew you needed so much for a few days away) and drove up at a leisurely pace, we couldn’t check in until 4pm and it would only take us a couple of hours to get there. We made it up there in no time and decided to visit the nearest pub to the check in point. The pub was a lovely little village pub in Coleford, called the New Inn, which strangely enough we also have a pub called the New Inn in Coleford just down the road from us at home! The boys were happy as it was cheap for a pint and the ladies were happy because the pub had a nice open fire. 4pm soon came around, we all drained the rest of our drinks and made our way to check in.

The accommodation we were given was the exact same one as the year before, which was quite nice as we knew where everything was. We all bundled through the big wooden door, dragging our bags with us. It was exactly as we remembered and everyone naturally went off to the rooms they had the year before.

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Once all of our belongings were inside and with a huge list in tow, we went to do a big food shop. Monmouth is a short drive away and has everything you need from a little town. We went into the nearest budget supermarket and did a huge food shop for the weekend and left chuffed that we under spent on our budget. After loading up the boot of Ellen’s car we headed back to the lodge to cook up a feast for our first evening meal. The evening consisted of full bellies, hot tubbing and lots of alcohol… too much for some but we won’t name names!!

The next morning with a couple of sore heads we cooked a huge fried breakfast and decided what to do with our day. Some of us went off to the local pub, some went for a walk around the forest with Buck the dog and the rest stayed and chilled out. This was very much the theme of the weekend, that and hot tubbing!

Sunday soon came round, which meant the departure of some of our friends, but not before we all ate a huge roast dinner. Cooking was a bit of a challenge in an oven we weren’t used to but we managed in the end without burning anything… other than the top of my finger!! Sunday evening was a quiet one as the ten of us decreased to six. We had one last dip in the hot tub and then lounged about watching films for the rest of the evening and packed up bits to prepare to leave the next day.

We are always sad when it’s time to pack up and leave as we always have such a good time, however we will no doubt we back next year or even sooner.

I would highly recommend Forest Holidays for families and friends, especially if you have pets and can get a pet friendly lodge. It’s a very chilled out place with lots of walks and each has a hot tub so you can soak all your troubles away.

Enjoy!

 

A birthday by the sea – St. Ives

So we (or more I) have always wanted to stay in a castle, so when Mr Tapp suggested we do this for my birthday I jumped at the chance. We had left it quite late to book so there wasn’t a huge amount to choose from, that weren’t hundreds of miles away! After a little search on the net we settled on Tregenna Castle in St. Ives.

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We thought we would push the boat out and went for a Sea View room in the West Wing. Three of the four rooms had four poster beds… ours didn’t but it didn’t matter because it was still lovely and had everything we needed.

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The view from our room was beautiful and it was worth paying the little bit extra for the sea view. We were very lucky with the weather, the whole way down to Cornwall it rained and looked very miserable, but by the time we arrived we were greeted with blue skies.

Once we had checked in and had a nosey round our room we found ourselves wondering what to do with our afternoon. We decided to explore St. Ives the following day and spend our Saturday afternoon relaxing. With our swim wear rolled up in our towels, we went to investigate the hotels facilities. The hotel has two pools one indoor and one outdoor, we weren’t brave enough to venture outdoors in the chilly October weather so went to the indoor pool. It was housed in a glass building and was big enough to do a few lengths, you could also use the hot tub, sauna and steam room. We found it to be a little busy so didn’t stay too long. After our swim we went and booked in to one of the hotel restaurants. Because there was a wedding at the castle that day we chose to dine in the hotel brasserie to avoid the wedding party. We went back to our room and pondered what we’d like to eat in the evening. After spending the rest of the afternoon watching the rugby we went down for dinner. We were met by friendly staff and seated at a nice table, it took us a little while to choose what we wanted to eat because there was so much to choose from, in the end I went for the cajun chicken burger and Dave went for a pizza. Our meals were lovely, as were the staff and we left the restaurant rather stuffed!

In the morning we went down for breakfast, double checking and triple checking our watches as the clocks went back, it always confuses us! Breakfast was a buffet style set up which we both took full advantage of! Once we were completely stuffed we decided to walk off our full bellies and trekked into St. Ives. The hotel has a path down to the town, albeit a steep one, it takes you through their gardens and out to a gate at the bottom where you are met with a VERY steep hill down to Porthminster Beach.

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We were lucky that the tide hadn’t quite made it in land yet and we could walk along the beach into the town. St. Ives is a favourite town of ours, we love all the narrow little streets, quirky little shops, cafes and bakeries

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After a wonder up and down the cobbled streets we sat on the edge of the sea front wall and watched the world sail by…

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As we started to walk back to the hotel we stopped in Hub St Ives for a delicious and warming hot chocolate and admired the view from upstairs. We didn’t realise until quite late on that we were actually in a Hub, which is part of the same chain as we have in Exeter – Hubbox. It had really quirky interior and was a lot bigger than our little Hubbox.

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After we had warmed up and finished our marshmallows we wondered back to our hotel and begrudgingly made our way home.

We had a lovely relaxed time in St Ive’s and will definitely be back again. We really enjoyed our stay at Tregenna Castle and would recommend it to anyone looking for a romantic weekend away or just a place to chill out. They even left a box of chocolates in our hotel room for my Birthday, love little touches like this.

We did get stuck in a bit of traffic on the way down because they are widening the A30 so keep this in mind when you set off.

Enjoy x

Calm in the Cotswolds – Hare & Hounds, Tetbury

I always thought booking a last minute getaway would be easy and reasonably cheap, however I think this is an urban myth! After scouring the internet to find somewhere nice to stay for the weekend we eventually decided upon the Cotswolds. We packed up an overnight bag and woke early Saturday morning to start our journey.

We decided to break up our trip and spent the day in Bath before continuing on to our Hotel, just outside of Tetbury. Bath is a city we have visited several times and each time we forget how much we enjoy it. After navigating our way to what seemed to be the most expensive car park in Bath, we got out stretched our legs and set off for a day of exploring! First things first, lunch! We were spoilt for choice with where to go but settled on Revolution Bath, by day a trendy venue for breakfast and brunch and by night a busy vodka bar after filling our bellies and a cheeky cocktail we left to see what Bath had to offer.

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We wandered down the bath stoned streets and discovered many lovely independent shops. My favorites being French Grey, they sell lots of beautiful trinkets and pretty things for the home and have lots of ideas for presents, Anemone which was a florist, selling every colour of flower you could wish for and Anthropologie we probably spent close to an hour in this shop it had so much to offer, it is one for those with deep pockets but nonetheless we enjoyed looking around the two floors and all it had to offer.

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We didn’t venture into the Roman Baths this time but still took time to marvel at the beauty of The Abbey next to the Baths. It was hard not to get distracted by it and stop and stare with all the other hundreds of tourists. After a quick pit stop in Waitrose we wandered back to the car, on the way back we noticed a little antique market so had a quick wander round there and then made our way to our hotel.

The hotel we stayed in was called the Hare & Hounds in Tetbury, which is about 20 miles from Bath. It is part of the Cotswold Inn Hotels who have a chain of 7 beautiful hotels dotted around the Cotswold area. We were greeted by a friendly receptionist when we were arrived and shown to our room by an equally friendly colleague. The Hotel is made up of lots of little buildings which all have different sized rooms. Due to our late booking didn’t get to choose which type of room we stayed in but were very pleased with ours, it was a Silkwood Double which was located a short walk from the main hotel. We stayed in the Mulberry Room.

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The room was lovely and as you would expect with a hotel in the Cotswolds it had a very country feel to it. The bathroom was stocked with everything Molton Brown (my fave), huge fluffy towels and all the tea, coffee and hot chocolate you could drink. We decided to dine in the Jack Hares that evening which was the hotel bar, as it was less formal that the main Beaufort Restaurant but suited us perfectly, we both had steak which were cooked just as we liked it with lots of salad and veg.

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We then and had a couple of nightcaps while enjoying a game of scrabble in the Drawing Room

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We retired to our room and had a good night sleep despite the early warning that there may be some noise from a wedding that was happening, we barely heard a thing and had a lovely night sleep. In the morning we went down to the Beaufort Restaurant and enjoyed a full English breakfast after which we went back to our room to pack up our bags in time to check out. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Hare and Hounds and were sad to be going home.

We booked our stay directly with the hotel to get the cheapest rate and would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a romantic night away, you can even bring your dog with you too!

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