3 July 2016

A 21st Birthday Treat at Castle Leslie, Co. Monaghan

Hello there, remember me? I know it's been a little while once again. There's been quite a lot going on these last few months so apologies for the radio silence. Though, as I alluded to in my last post, while I've been away I did in fact hit somewhat of a personal milestone by turning 21! My birthday is actually in April so admittedly a fair bit of time has passed since then. I've not been very on the ball lately, but I did have such a lovely day. 

Planning for birthdays, especially big ones, can sometimes feel a little overwhelming to me so I decided to keep this one quite low key with a trip to of my favourite places, Castle Leslie in County Monaghan with my cousin, Jenny. Castle Leslie is a country house estate turned hotel and spa and is only about an hour away from me at home so my family and I quite often go for a drive there at the weekends for a cup of tea and an amble around the grounds. I actually spent my birthday there last year and enjoyed it so much I couldn't imagine a better way to spend the day again this time around!

Despite all our visits, I'd never actually stayed at Castle Leslie before. So, considering that this year was a relatively big birthday, I thought it would be a nice little treat to do just that, and maybe get a treatment or two as well. So, on arrival, after a quick spot of lunch we dropped off our bags and headed to the castle's beautiful Victorian treatment rooms for a bit of relaxation.

When we got there we were given the choice of a facial, a back massage or an Indian head massage and I ended up opting for a back massage since I'd never had one before. I don't know whether this is something I regret as it was both amazing and terrifying in equal measure. Though, after a couple of hours spent lounging in the relaxation rooms, we still emerged feeling thoroughly zen and decided to go off for a little exploring.

The grounds at Castle Leslie are very extensive and include a church, a lake, a variety of outbuildings and an adjoining equestrian centre, which admittedly is probably my favourite part. First port of call though, was the castle itself, which I've never really had a proper look inside. As you'd imagine, it's quite a big place! And provided there isn't any sort of event on, visitors are allowed to roam around relatively freely which was very exciting. My mum always tells me I must have been a Lady in a former life because I could spend all day wandering around big old manor houses like that. It's one reason why I'm such a National Trust fangirl, for sure.

Once we were satisfied that we'd exhausted every nook and cranny the castle had to offer, we set off for a walk in the garden and grounds, finishing with a long-awaited visit to the stables where we met the fine fellow pictured below! Finally, we ended our day at the estate's bar restaurant with a late dinner before heading back to our room and getting tucked up in bed with a movie. A very relaxing end to a very relaxing day! That being said, we did watch 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'. It was pretty dark and definitely set a slightly different tone for the evening, but I still really enjoyed it.

I think one of the best things about our whole stay was our room. It was really amazing! We were staying in the Lodge, which is a separate building from the castle that contains the restaurants and spa. It also backs onto the equestrian centre so the hallways around the accommodation are equestrian-themed with artwork and pieces of antique tack hanging along the walls. Incidentally, this also meant that we had a balcony overlooking the stables! I was in my element.

It was certainly a birthday to remember, as well as a lovely end to my time in Northern Ireland before heading back to Lancaster!

What have you been up to recently?


15 May 2016

Edinburgh Antics

Hi folks, long time no speak! Apologies that I haven't been very active for the last month, it was actually my birthday a couple of weeks ago- I'm 21!- and since then I've also relocated back to Lancaster, so it's been a busy past few weeks for me and unfortunately my blog has suffered once again! However, as a consequence of a bit of time off I now have lots and lots to share :))

Firstly, as part of my 21st birthday celebrations, Carlo and I and our two friends, Max and Hannah took a little trip up to Edinburgh for a long weekend. I'd somehow never been to Edinburgh before I went up to visit Hayley last May, but it definitely made a lasting impression. Since then I've been twice more and it's quickly become one of my most favourite cities. I absolutely love the architecture and its oldy-worldy feel. Every time I visit I just never want to go home!

I noticed when I went to edit that we really didn't take many photos on this trip, but really I think this is a testament to the fact that a good time was had! Admittedly though, we also didn't venture too far either night of our stay due to us managing to nab the most beautiful Airbnb, a lovely townhouse apartment in the Haymarket area that was very difficult to part with. Consequently, we chose to spend our evenings nested on the sofa with lots of wine and snacks playing increasingly tipsier rounds of Cards Against Humanity!

That being said, we still squeezed in a fair few of the sights during the day, the Castle being one of them, as you can see. We also visited Greyfriar's Kirkyard, had a nosy up and down the Royal Mile and actually quite ironically bumped into Dylan Moran from Black Books in Blackwells on South Brige. However, I think all would agree that the vast majority of our time was spent more or less eating our way right through the city.

I feel like this is where The City Cafe on Blair Street deserves a mention. I have no photos of our food, quite literally because it didn't last very long, but take my word for it, it was amazing. We'd woken up on the second day of our trip really craving a proper fry up, and after a bit of Googling and ogling at pictures, we decided The City Cafe was the place to be, and it did not disappoint.

With it's American diner-style decor and facade, the place seemed quite unassuming as we walked in through the door, however we took the queue of people waiting to be seated at 11am to be a good sign, and actually, it was hand-on-heart best breakfast I've ever eaten. I was super impressed by their substantial all-day breakfast menu, which despite the American theme offers a proper Scottish breakfast- haggis and all!- as well as veggie options. We all ended up having a fry up as well as polishing off a stack of vanilla-infused pancakes between us which were also out of this world!! 

Of course, when I was in Edinburgh I also had to make sure and squeeze in an evening with my favourite Scottish gal, Hayley! So, on our last night the two of us (and Carlo as well, actually) headed out to a little bar called the Dog House for a round or two of drinks and some deep conversion, which was had aplenty! Overall we had an amazing weekend, and as per, I can't wait to get back to Edinburgh soon!

Where is your favourite place to visit?

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