Cotswolds

Cotswolds
Cotswolds

Lake District

Lake District
Lake District

Ireland

Ireland
Ireland
Showing posts with label featured. Show all posts
Showing posts with label featured. 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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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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Mothers' Day || Afternoon Tea at Maryville House

Maryville House Tea Rooms, Belfast
Before this Sunday past I'd never been for afternoon tea before, despite always wanting to go. In my mind I suppose it was always a little bit too expensive to justify, with most places charging upwards of £20 a head. However, when my sister made a surprise booking for Mothers' Day at Maryville House for the two of us, our mum and our grandma, there were absolutely no objections. It sounded like the perfect Mothers' Day treat, and in the end it really was!
A floral centrepiece
Afternoon tea
Afternoon Tea
Perhaps one of the best discoveries of the year for me, Maryville House is a beautiful Victorian bed and breakfast and tea room with all the charm of a quiet countryside retreat despite being nestled just outside Belfast City Centre, on the busy Lisburn Road. When I'd played around with the idea of afternoon tea before I don't think I would have ever considered Maryville, with afternoon tea at places like the swanky Merchant Hotel in the Cathedral Quarter being so well-known locally. However, kudos to Anna for this gorgeous find; I now can't think of anywhere better to experience some traditional afternoon tea, or even just to spend a very special Sunday afternoon!
Once we had arrived and were seated we were each given the choice of a huge selection of loose leaf tea and coffee. However, being the adventurous family we are, we all chose Maryville's own blend which was essentially a simple English breakfast tea- but it was delicious! Breakfast teas usually all taste the same to me, but this was exceptional, and the fact it was served in the most enormous china teapot did certainly add to the experience. 

Since it was Mothers' Day we were also all offered a lovely complimentary glass of prosecco, i.e. my most favourite thing, which as the designated driver I couldn't actually take advantage of! Very upsetting, though I may have still had one very cheeky sip!
After we'd each settled down with our tea and prosecco we were brought over a lovely plate of sandwiches and hors d'oeuvres- which didn't last for very long!- before we were presented with this glorious assortment of scones and cakes. There was everything from little meringues, to cupcakes to macarons. It's honestly making me hungry again just looking at the photos. I don't half wish I had a plateful of these in front of me again!
Finally, absolutely stuffed full of tea and cake we finished off our afternoon with a walk in the nearby Sir Thomas and Lady Dixon Park before heading off home. I really couldn't recommend Maryville House enough. Aside from the amazing food and tea, the girls who were serving us were so lovely and pleasant and it really made for a memorable day.

What did you get up to this Mothers' Day?

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