Cotswolds

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Cotswolds

Lake District

Lake District
Lake District

Ireland

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Ireland
Showing posts with label adventures. Show all posts
Showing posts with label adventures. Show all posts

Summer Blooms at Hill Top Farm

With everyone heading back to school this past week and the rain coming down relentlessly outside my window, it really does seem like summer has indeed come to an end for another year. However, since I'm still not officially back at uni until the beginning of October, I'm very happy to pretend otherwise for the moment. I'm also very pleased to report for the first time since I've been at university in the North West, this summer I feel like I've finally taken full advantage of the fact I live within such close proximity to the Lake District.

As I've said before, the Lake District isn't an easy place to manoeuvre around on public transport at all, which has really limited the number of places I've been able to visit in the past. However, now that I have my car I've been able to explore the area a lot more and I've finally been able to visit somewhere I've always wanted to see: Hill Top Farm, once the home of childrens' author Beatrix Potter. As a toddler I'd had the Tale of Peter Rabbit read to me so many times that I knew it off by heart, so it was a dream come true to experience the place that inspired so many of her stories.

I did take quite a few photos of the interior of the house, which is more or less exactly how Beatrix left it when she gifted the property to the National Trust in the 1940s. However, they didn't turn out quite how I wanted so I think I'm going to have to save the inside for another time. Nevertheless, Hill Top's beautiful garden had just as much to offer on the day of our visit, particularly as it was in full summer bloom. As you'd expect from any garden owned by the National Trust, it's magnificently landscaped and immaculately maintained.

As it happens, this past 29th July marked the 150th birthday of Beatrix Potter, so I really don't think I could have picked a better time for my first visit to Hill Top- though I do hope it will be the first of many!

What have you been up to this summer?
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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?

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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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Lake District || A Day at Tarn Hows

I may have been home in Northern Ireland for this year but it hasn't stopped me finding my way back to the North West of England as often as is physically possible, mostly thanks to Ryanair and that €1 flight to Liverpool I managed to nab in their flash sale!

Since my last Lancaster post I've managed to pay another two visits, with my last trip actually ending up coinciding with a visit from one of Carlo's friends from school. So, the two of us, plus said visiting-friend and a few of Carlo's friends from home decided to mark the occasion with an amble around Tarn Hows near Coniston in the Lake District. This is going back nearly a month ago now when it was still more or less winter and there was still plenty of snow on the mountains; for sure one of the best things about visiting the Lakes around this time of year.

Before this day I'd never been to Tarn Hows before, or even heard of it. It had been one of the boys, Carlo's friend, Neil who had suggested it and very kindly offered to drive the five of us there. Much of the trail is deep, rich forestland, not unlike that which covers much of the Mourne Moutains I love so much from home. It circles around a central tarn, or small lake which stems off into little streams and at one point even feeds into a rather magnificent waterfall. By the time we'd finished our walk I'd been utterly enchanted by the whole place. It's now easily one of my favourite Lake District spots.

Apparently the land was once owned by author, Beatrix Potter who used the royalties from her books to purchase a great deal of what is now the Lake District National Park in order to prevent it from falling into the hands of developers. She would then eventually pass on much of the land, including Tarn Hows, to the National Trust who have worked to preserve the area and its wildlife ever since. A fantastic legacy if you ask me!

Interestingly, on our travels we came across a few fallen trees that were stippled with pennies. None of us had ever seen anything like this before and at first we were baffled. However, after a bit of googling we discovered they were wishing trees, and the equivalent of tossing coins into a fountain. Apparently the practice began in old folklore, when it was believed that if you were ill, embedding a coin within a tree would take the illness away.


Have you ever seen a wishing tree?

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Is Anybody Home?

Before I begin, I just want to offer a little disclaimer: this is a bit of a cheeky post in the sense that this was clearly a very mischievous and potentially dangerous activity, of that I'm very much aware. Our curiosity got the better of us this time, and with trespassing laws in Northern Ireland less concrete as in other parts of the UK, we weren't technically breaking any laws, but even so, it's risky business and I wouldn't try this at home.

Chris, Phil and I were en route somewhere else when we spotted this house, sitting snugly yet quite visibly, alone just off a country road. I'd seen it first, my attention having been drawn in by the two fireplaces protruding out of its exterior, and pointed it out to Chris, who, always up for an adventure, was eager to get a closer look. 
After driving around in an feverish loop trying to find a good place to turn back, we parked by the side of the road, at the top of an overgrown path that descended in a slope down to what was now clear to us as a very long-abandoned building.

At most I had expected just for us to have a quick snoop around the house's outside, which was interesting enough for me. As it had looked from a distance, half the house appeared to be missing, probably demolished. We examined each outside wall. The windows were sash and clearly very old. As expected, some of their panes had been broken, but most were still intact. 
As we made our way around the side and the back we were surprised to find that the house's front door was lying wide open, albeit completely obstructed by briers and weeds. The desire to have a look inside was just all too much for Chris as he and Phil began forming a pathway through. From the condition of the outside, which was quite a lot better than expected, I was beginning to think that perhaps it hadn't been abandoned for as long as we'd first believed. Maybe it had only been a few short years?

Once the boys had finally broken through I summoned up a bit of courage and followed them through the treacherous undergrowth and in through the door. It sounds incredibly cliché, but walking into the house we may as well just have passed into another world. 
Upon entering it became quite clear to us that the house had been left quite untouched, judging by the décor, for some thirty- or even forty-odd years. Carpets and curtains had frayed away to nothing, the walls and floor were beginning to seriously decay, and the green from outside was growing in and taking over what was once presumably the living room, through a large now non-existent window. Despite this, traces of another time certainly still remained: see retro wallpaper.

I didn't manage to capture everything we saw in the house, mostly because I was completely creeped out the entire time and didn't want to venture too far without either Chris or Phil close by my side; but among our finds was a huge television, from the 50s or 60s, the kind with the massive dials on the front. There was also a beautiful free-standing bath, which you can see, and the phone pictured. Weirdly, its line had been cut. 

I'd definitely be lying if I said this wasn't a bit of a chilling experience. I felt very much as though I was in someone else's home, in their personal space, even if that home was now just fragments of what it once was. I almost expected to turn a corner and find someone sitting quietly among the debris, but there was no one. I think that was the strangest part. Despite the open door and broken window, there was no sign of anyone having been there in decades. No litter, no graffiti, no blankets or dens made by squatters, just an empty house. 

I've spent the last couple of days trawling through Google trying to find out any information at all about this house, and bizarrely, so far I have found absolutely nothing. It may as well not even exist. However, our visit there has ignited a very violent curiosity in me, so I'm definitely not giving up just yet.
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