Lake District

Lake District
Lake District


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

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?


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?


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.

A Wintry Walk || Mount Stewart, Co. Down

Um, so I have a bit of exciting news...(!!!) After years of desperately longing for one, this Sunday past I finally took the leap and got myself a digital SLR! I'm so beyond thrilled it's ridiculous, and despite my little Nikon Coolpix camera having served me so well this last year and a half on Alphabeth, I can't say I'm the least bit sad to see it go! *sassy wave*

For anyone who's interested, I got the Canon 700D after hearing some good reports and I'm genuinely so chuffed with it! Today was the first time I'd had the chance to use it- albeit with just my little kit lens- and it's just such a massive improvement from my Nikon, I could cry. 

Since I was off work today, on what happened to be the first clear day in weeks, my grandparents and I decided to and pay a visit to a National Trust property, Mount Stewart. We had a lovely afternoon strolling around the grounds, followed by a cup of tea and some sandwiches in the car. It was a really nice, relaxing mid-week break, even though I did keep forgetting my lens cap wasn't attached to my camera strap and kept hurling it onto the ground every time I took it off- that's a habit I'm going to have to get out of!

Hope you've all had a fantastic start to December! x
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