Going Green

Like most of us, I’m concerned about the environment and the way humankind has devasted our planet with our wasteful and lazy ways.  On a more personal level too, we are not doing ourselves any favours with our easy, throwaway lifestyle choices.  I’m more than a bit worried about the negative impact plastic has on our bodies for instance.  We ingest tiny particles of the stuff everyday through the food chain as well as bits that may break loose from our containers and packaging. It has also been suggested that toxins in plastic containers could leech into the food in those containers. See five reasons to avoid plastic containers. Even most teabags are made with plastic and I recently read about a scientific study that was conducted and it showed that tea made with plastic teabags had particles of plastic in it. Yes, you are drinking plastic! 

I’ve long been very mindful of what I use in the way of cosmetics, toiletries and some household cleaning products.  I always buy cruelty free products and try to avoid those containing parabens and SLS.  Some shower gels and shampoos have these and other harmful chemicals in them, all of which we are rubbing over our skin and then washing into our water system. I’ve toyed with various ideas to reduce plastic use, reduce general waste and be a bit more eco-aware over the years and am on a bit of a kick with it again. 

Luxury Bathroom Spa Gift Set by Hooked On Patterns

My first idea came from seeing some beautiful crochet projects on Ravelry, specifically the Spa bathroom set  from Hooked on Patterns.  Until a couple of weeks ago, my shower cubicle contained; a nylon shower scrubby and shower gel, shampoo and conditioner all in plastic bottles and I used disposable cotton wool pads to clean off my make up. I made up my mind that I would ditch the plastic from that area at least.

So, I spent a fair few hours crocheting the shower puff in white cotton yarn, King Cole Cottonsoft if you are interested, only to find that it didn’t work with shower gel, I didn’t have a bar of soap to try and having thought about it, that might have been ok.  However, it weighed a bloody ton when wet so once it had dried out, I pulled it out to re-use the yarn. That felt like a disappointing fail to be honest.

Next up was the face scrubbies, I used a different pattern, Resuable make-up scrubbies from Stitched Up Craft for these and also experimented with my own patterns.  These are ok to use, I use micellar water for cleaning off my make up and you need to be careful that it doesn’t just run off the pad!  I think they would be better with a cream/lotion type cleanser really.  They are not quite as soft as normal disposable cotton wool pads but you pop them into a mesh bag and in the washing machine rather than in the bin heading for landfill so that’s got to be worth the minor inconveniences surely. 

My favourite things from the spa set are the facecloth, which is crocheted in a nice textural stitch and is deliciously soft on my face and the soap scrub, which is a little mesh bag for a bar of soap, I got some handmade soap from Hatton Handmade Soap via a lovely eco webshop called Peace with the Wild.  So, the soap scrub or soap sack as they are often called works a bit like the old soap on a rope for those old enough to remember that! The bag has a hanging loop on it and you leave the soap in the bag and lather up and either use your soapy hands to wash yourself or rub the soapy bag over your body.  If you love the ease of one of those  nylon shower scrubbies with a dollop of shower gel, then you won’t like the extra effort needed to use the soap sack but I think it is worth it both for my well-being and that of the environment.

Also from Peace With the Wild, I bought a solid shampoo bar and a conditioner one too, pictured here.  Now these I’m still not sure about.  I have read about the transition period where your hair feels waxy and greasy and is difficult to style.  This is because for years, your hair has been producing it’s own natural oils to combat the chemicals in the shampoos and conditioners we’ve been using.  It takes anything from a few washes to a few months apparently for your hair to get used to the new chemical-free shampoo bar and to stop producing so much oil.  The first couple of washes, my hair felt truly dreadful and if we hadn’t been in lockdown so no one sees me anyway, I don’t think I’d have stuck it out. However, three weeks in now and there is a noticeable improvement from how it felt at first.  I’ll continue until I’ve used up the whole bar but if I’m stuggling to dry and style my hair, this might just be an eco idea that gets shelved. I hope my hair adapts to it though because like with the soap sack instead of shower gel, I like the knowledge that I’m not washing tons of chemicals into the water system.  All of the soap, shampoo and conditioner bars are made from natural ingredients, cruelty free, vegan and come wrapped in paper which is of course recyclable.

Next up, in light of my recent discover about the plastic in teabags we’re in the process of ditching teabags in favour of loose-leaf teas and herbal infusions.  I ordered lots of taster packs from The Tea People as well as a metal caddy with my favourite tea, liquorice root and some English breakfast tea for Patrick to try.   We use a ball shaped tea infuser for single cups rather than a teapot so it’s a little like a teabag I suppose.  Patrick enjoys the Sleep tea which is a blend of some of the common sleep inducing plants such as hops & valerian along with passion flowers and rose petals.  I really like the Relax tea which I’ve been drinking as my bedtime drink.  It’s made from a blend of tulsi, fennel, camomile, aniseed, linden and sunflower petals and is a lovely, sweet and soothing taste. I’ll definitely be ordering from them again, the tin caddy with my liquorice tea in is really pretty so I’ll probably get our favourite teas in caddies next time.

That’s about it from tree-huggers central for now.  Doing our best to make a difference!

  

Swan Lake

Hull New Theatre

I’ve always wanted to see a live ballet, and a couple of years ago I got to go to see Cinderella with my beautiful sister-in-law Coral. I have to admit to being a bit disappointed, it wasn’t what I expected. The humour in it didn’t work for me but I’m sure that’s just me. Since then, I’ve been hankering after seeing another ballet to restore my faith so when I saw that the Russian State Ballet were coming to town, Debbie and I snapped up a pair of tickets. With our Hull New Theatre Extras discount of £10 off a each ticket it was a bargain! For me, knowing nothing about ballet, Swan Lake is the iconic one. If you asked 1000 people to name the first ballet to come into their head, I’ll bet 900 of them would say Swan Lake. Needless to say, I was very much looking forward to seeing it.

Firstly we went for something to eat at a new Greek restaurant close to the theatre, Keramikos Greek Taverna. I’ve read good reviews so was looking forward to it and honestly, was really fancying a nice moussaka. The menu though was a bit limited and more meze type dishes with only a couple of mains, neither of which were moussaka! We ordered a selection of four meze and a chicken souvlaki which came with chips and salad and just shared it all between the two of us. The food was very nice but the place was too crowded and noisy for me and the whole meal felt a bit rushed. From sitting down, we’d ordered and eaten in just over half an hour. I get that it’s that kind of thing; meze, casual dining etc. and I didn’t expect a 5 star experience (nor did I want that) but it wasn’t a particularly comfortable experience and when we’d left we went into the Theatre bar and enjoyed a leisurely cuppa to wind down. I must be getting old!!

Onto the ballet. We’d decided to go for seats in the circle to have a good view of the whole stage and I’m pleased we did. The performance was magnificent. The story is simple enough but if I hadn’t read it first I wouldn’t have followed what was happening. Having said that, I don’t think it would have mattered to me. It really was all about the dancing. A couple of the scenes went on a bit but oh my goodness, when the swans came on I was mesmerised. I can’t believe the strength and skill of these dancers. At one time the swans were all en pointe, gliding across the stage as another group of swans came in from the other side. They passed through each other so smoothly and it was hypnotic to see. The principal dancers playing Odette/Odile and Siegfried were skilful and graceful but it was the swans as a group that I could have watched all night.

All good things come to an end and what a strange end this was. I’m assuming that Odette and Siegfried died and the end scene of them dancing was symbolic of being together for eternity but then it just ended quite abruptly and the stars of the show came forward to take the applause. The chorus of swans stayed at the back and none of the other dancers came onto the stage to be applauded. The curtain came down and that was it. I have never been to any performance anywhere where you don’t get to show your appreciation to the whole ensemble and it felt really odd.

All in all though, I loved it. It was everything I expected and wanted to see. A magical performance.

2019 – A Review.

Well as I haven’t been great at keeping this blog up to date (as usual), I’ve got a whistle-stop review of the year all in one post. Where I have blogged previously about events, I’ve linked to the post. As I’ve always said, this is for me, to remind me of what I’ve done and where I’ve been.  If you are interested enough to ready it then that’s great, I’m sorry it’s so long! 

Firstly, a crafty review of the year.  After a really slow start, I really picked up the pace from about September onwards and finished up completing 14 separate projects (12 if you count the baby outfit made up of three items as one project).

January saw me complete my first big crochet project with the draught excluder.  This taught me a lot and has stood me in good stead to tackle other things this year. Next up was April with Herbarium, a really pretty shawl done using mosaic knitting which is a new technique to me.  Nothing then until September when the gift knitting and crocheting took over.  I squeezed in the hat (Wynn) right at the end of December to finish the year on 14 completes rather than 13, although I’m not superstitious really. Click on the thumbnails for the larger pictures.

So, onto the year in general. Overall it’s been a good one, lots of weekend breaks, holidays, theatre visits and general getting out and about-ness going on. 

January – Quiet start to the year with the only event of note being Saturday Night Fever at New Theatre with Mason and Rosie. I blogged it here

Colourful fountains

February – Starting to get busier now.  We had the wonderful Knife Angel and the Brick History lego exhibition, both of which I blogged here .   My sister Ann and Sisters-in law Chris and Lynne also recommenced our monthly evenings out for tea.  I really look forward to and enjoy this as without a central hub that we all visit (i.e. my mum!) it has become too easy to lose touch of what is going on in each other’s lives and families.  Speaking of families, we also had a lovely afternoon out with our brother-in-law William, a few beers, bite to eat and then back to the bus station via Victoria Square to see the fountains in full colour glory.

March – I had a couple of volunteer shifts this month. Firstly at the beginning of the month, I did a Sunday morning at the Ferens for the Open Exhibition,I enjoyed this as I just love being able to spend time looking around at the Ferens and if it isn’t a busy shift, there is plenty of time to do that.  Then at the end of the month, I volunteered at one of the public open days of the archaelogical dig of the South Blockhouse, King Henry VIII’s fortifications of Hull. I blogged this here

No Pasaran

In the middle of the month, there was the unveiling of a new memorial to the nine men and one woman from our area who in the 1930s, went off to fight with the International Brigade against Franco’s Facist army in Spain.  Four of these brave volunteers never returned and although there is already a plaque inside the Guildhall (which only has eight names on it for some reason), it isn’t exactly accessible to the public.  Funds for this sculpture were raised by the Hull International Brigade Memorial Group.  I missed the unveiling but went to see the memorial a few days later and I think it’s really eye-catching.  I hope it will make people look and question it’s purpose.  Goodness only knows that in these hate filled times, we need to celebrate those unselfish heroes who were willing to give their lives for the freedom of others.  You can read more about the sculpture here and the International Brigades Memorial Trusts here

April –  Theatre visit this month was to see The Full Monty starring Gary Lucy as Gaz, the whole cast were excellent and it was a fantastic show.  Debbie and I thoroughly enjoyed it and it was just the laugh a minute that we needed.  So, did they do the ‘full monty’ at the end?  Well if you haven’t seen the show, I won’t spoil it for you.

I’ve wanted to visit The Bunker at Holmpton for a while now and I persuaded Patrick that this was a good use of a the first Sunday of the month.  After a lovely Sunday lunch in The Station pub in Patrington, we continued down the road to Holmpton.  There stands an unassuming looking bungalow, the likes of which were built in various parts of the country and which hide beneath their ground floor a nuclear bunker filled with technology to monitor aircraft and other military activity during the Cold War period.  Built in the 1950s as an early radar warning station and used by the Royal Observatory Corps during the 1980s  ,it was decomissioned in 1991 but used for training for several years.  It was sold by the RAF in 2014 and the owners and volunteers have put so much work into creating a fantastic resource for the history of this period.  I found it fascinating and would highly recommend a visit.

April also saw us volunteering at our annual local CAMRA branch Beer Festival. Held in the wonderful Hull Minster, this is a great event. We love to work a few shifts, it’s great fun although hard work.  I have the greatest respect and admiration for the whole committee who take leave from their jobs to dedicate the full week to setting up, working throughout and clearing away.  I don’t think the public realise how much work goes into this, I certainly didn’t give it much thought until I became involved myself.

At the end of the month, Patrick and I visited Skipton for their CAMRA beer festival. We stayed in the most beautiful little cottage and I blogged about our stay here.

May – Our annual trip to Thornwick Bay to the same caravan as our previous two visits.  Unfortunately we were not so lucky with the weather as we have been other years and it was damp and misty all day on the Saturday so I didn’t get to go up the lighthouse which I had planned to do. Sunday was better weather and we spent the day at Bempton.  Blog post about the weekend here.

Also this month we saw Turn and Face the Strange at Hull Truck.  My third time and Patrick’s second, we had also brought along William, his sister Emma and brother-in-law Chris who all really enjoyed the show.  It is a multi-media production documenting the life of Hull born Mick Ronson, one of David Bowie’s Spiders from Mars and a hugely talented musician and producer.  Sadly passed away at the young age of 47 in 1993, this show, written by Hull’s Rupert Creed and Garry Burnett, who act as narrators throughout,  pays tribute to Mick’s lovely, down to earth personality and massive talent.  If you ever get chance to see this if it comes around again, don’t miss it.

June – First outing of the month was with our friends Pete and Donna to Kardomah94 to see L’il Jimmy Reid.  After huge pizzas in the restaurant at the front, which none of us managed to finish, it was through to the theatre in the back for the show.  I blogged it here.   Sadly, Kardomah has since closed, due to ill-health of the owner.  A sad loss to Hull’s culture vultures as this place show-cased acts that wouldn’t draw a large enough audience for other venues.  We don’t have enough small, intimate theatre spaces and this one was rather special.   

The end of June saw us heading to Cornwall for our annual holiday.  I started to blog each day as it happened but lost track half-way through.  I will continue it at some point though and you can read the story so far starting here.  Of course my better half is much better at blogging than I am and you can read his version of events here.

Victoria & Albert Museum

July – Gosh we had a busy one this month.  First up was Hyde Park Summer.  Several weeks ago, Pete and Donna had asked if we fancied going to one of the Summer in Hyde Park concerts with Robbie Williams headlining and featuring Texas on the line-up along with Keane and Blackeyed Peas.  We agreed at the time but then when starting to add up the cost of travel and hotels were actually beginning to regret it. However, tickets had been bought through Groupon and were non-refundable so we set out to make the best of it. After an initial hiccup after booking a fraudulent AirBnB and having to be refunded for that, I managed to book us into the Travelodge at Covent Garden for a bargain price.  We had the most fantastic weekend and although Texas’s set was disappointingly short (I believe they had another gig to get to), Robbie was at his best and had the whole crowd eating out of his hand.  London was as fabulous as always and with great friends to share it with we didn’t want it to end.  Patrick’s blog post here.  During this weekend, we visited the Victoria and Albert Museum for the first time.  Free to enter and far too big to see all in one visit we will definitely be back at this amazing place, we didn’t even scratch the surface!

The main event for me in July was my son, Michael’s graduation with a PhD in Computer Science.  I think the new Dr. Michael Walker was quite pleased with himself.  His dad, brother and I certainly were proud.  We had a lovely day, although Michael got the time of the reception wrong so by the time we arrived in York, we’d missed it!  The ceremony itself for these things is a bit tedious as, let’s all be honest here, the only graduate any of us is interested in is our own son or daughter so sitting through everyone else’s kids isn’t the most exciting thing to do.  After the ceremony, we went into York and had a nice meal at a Thai restaurant called Phranakhon, described as Thai tapas, it was small plates of food so you could sample different dishes.  Wonderful food and a nice atmosphere.  I’d definitely go again.

Next up was my Christmas present from Patrick, a Pulman dining experience on the East Lancashire Railway.  We’d seen the dining cars last time we were in Bury for the Stumble gig in October 2018 and I’d remarked how wonderful I thought it would be to get dressed up and to dine in one of these carriages on a steam train. I can tell you it was amazing.  It is a black-tie event so the cruise outfits came out of storage for the occasion.  I felt a bit of a twit walking through Bury dressed up like we were going to the Ritz but once at the station, we were obviously part of the crowd.  It was so nice to see everyone in their finery and what made it really nice for me was that a young lady came over to me and told me that I looked stunning.  I returned the compliment, because she did too but it really made me feel good to have a stranger make a point of complimenting me like that.  Patrick looked gorgeous in his dinner suit too.  Once on the train, the food and service were spot on.  We made the mistake of ordering a beer thinking we may be waiting for our food but it arrived quite quickly, before the beer actually so with the wine waiting for us, we wished we hadn’t bothered with beer.  It was a really special experience and both of us said we’d love to do it again.  Patrick’s blog post here

Lastly, at the end of the month, we visited Bolton for the RL Challenge Cup semi final featuring Hull FC.  Bolton is a bit of dump (well the part we saw was anyway), Hull lost (being a Rovers’ fan, I didn’t laugh much, honest) and although we had a giggle with Harry and Janette, it was mostly a forgettable weekend to be honest.

August – A quieter month, at the beginning we had a lovely meal out with our friends ‘The Crew’.  Andy and Jenny were up from Colchester so it was a full complement of eight of us.  We met in Pave, where we sat outside and I had a bee crawl up the inside of my trouser leg!  We managed to rescue it with no harm done to either me or the bee and then Patrick went inside to get some water and sugar to revive it as it was clearly not feeling very well(nothing to do with me I hasten to add).  After all that excitement, we moved on to one of our favourite restaurants, The Persian.  The owner is a lovely man of 70, always friendly and helpful.  A good time was had by all.

Also this month we finally got around to having gates and a fence on the driveway.  All in all the driveway has been costly but it looks lovely.

 

 

On 24th August, we went to Headingley for the fourth day of the Ashes match, due to me bidding for tickets in a charity auction and winning them.  I’ll leave it to Patrick to tell the story of ‘The Greatest Day Out’.  This game will go down in cricketing history and I’m so pleased to be able to say that WE WERE THERE.

Over the bank holiday weekend we made our first ever visit to North Cave Wetlands, a Yorkshire Wildlife Trust reserve.  What a lovely place to visit with excellent, warm and comfortable hides from which to watch the various birds and other wildlife.  It was a really hot day and the highland cattle were keeping themselves cool standing in ponds which made for good photo opportunities.  We’ll definitely go back again.

Finally, on the last weekend of August we had the Freedom Festival.  This annual event has always been my favourite of the year and I look forward to it with great anticipation.  It has grown year on year and got better and better, except for this year and last if I’m totally honest. The event used to be held mostly over the marina area and the local pubs had outside bars where you could get a decent ale to drink as you wandered around to see the various acts.  There was always a tent with spoken word artists on stage and at least two or three music stages with various bands and artists performing throughout the days and evenings.  Dance acts on the Stage @theDock as well as the circus type acts performing in the streets and on pop up stages here and there.  In 2018, the decision was made to move the main festival to Queen’s Gardens, the bars are just generic lager/cider bars, the spoken word tent is no longer and the acts are more foreign rent-a-circus with any music being limited to Zebedee’s Yard.  It has completely lost that vibe and atmosphere and I found it really disappointing.  The one stand-out act for me was the wonderful On  Edge by Justice in Motion which was a dance act highlighting modern slavery in the construction industry with a very moving story.

Justice in Motion perform On Edge at Freedom Festival

One more thing to mention for August, this is the month I started doing the Couch to 5K running program again.  I did this a few years back but then never continued with the running.  This time around, I am really enjoying it and actually looking forward to each day’s run.

View from The Market Cat

September – Patrick’s birthday month so we decided to book a trip to York on the train.  We had a great day and even found a new bar, The Market Cat, with a wonderful view from the top floor.  

The BBC spoken word festival, Contains Strong Language which started in Hull in 2017 is held each year in September and this year I had booked myself a ticket for the opening event, Richard Strange singing the songs of Lou Reed at Middleton Hall, which is part of Hull University so just around the corner for me.  I wasn’t sure what to expect but what a fantastic gig it was.  The musicians were world class, all had great pedigree and had played with the world’s top artists and Richard Strange (by name and nature I think) was just amazing, carrying off the songs like he owned them.  I do wish I had persuaded Patrick to go along because I’m sure he would also have enjoyed it.  It was one of those concerts that you just don’t want to end but sadly it did.  

Also back on for the festival, an event that we’d missed out on during Freedom Festival.  Fair Winds and Following Seas was a collaboration between Hull poet Vicky Foster and Hull band, Broken Orchestra.  It was a walking tour of the River Hull with ethereal music interrupted by Vicky’s poetry at strategic points along the way, all done by GPS (modern technology, what a marvel eh!).  So, I’d booked tickets for the Sunday and the weather was seriously bloody awful, windy, cold and heavy rain.  We had arranged to meet William too and we all arrived at Scale Lane bridge,wrapped up in waterproof clothing with our headphones and the app for the walk all ready to go.  We had a briefing inside the bridge before setting off, weather was dry at this point luckily.  It was really clever the way the poetry started up as you reached certain points on the walk.  The highlight for me was getting access to the inside of Drypool bridge in order to cross Alfred Gelder Street safely.  We went up inside, saw the inner workings of the bridge and looked out of the window and then back down the other side and out again.  I was made up I can tell you.  I’ve always wanted to go inside the bridges since I was a little kid.  Further along the river and back along High Street and the rain started again, by the time we got to the end point at the pier, we were soaked and freezing and the Minerva pub was a welcome sight.

October – A big moment for me this month, after completing C25K I joined with the East Hull Fitmums 2 mile group.  It was a bit of a struggle keeping up but thankfully there was another newbie with me who struggled a bit too.  We managed the whole run though and everyone was really supportive. I was in the walking group previously but always intended moving up to the runners.  Sadly the next run I did was the last one of the year as my knee started to really hurt and despite having physio, is still painful now. It’s nothing serious,  just ‘runners knee’, quite common apparently. I managed a short 2km run last week but nothing since as it is too painful.  I may need more physio or just strengthening exercises.

Also in October, we went with our local CAMRA branch to the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway beer festival.  Patrick has blogged here.  A good day out but I think a bit too expensive and we probably won’t do it again.

Theatre outing this month was to see Blood Brothers.  I’ve seen this four times now and it was Patrick’s second time and Debbie’s first.  It was great but I think I have probably seen it enough times now.  It doesn’t have the same impact after this many viewings but the comedy and music is still brilliant.  We had tea at Operetta before the show and although the service is incredibly slow (to be fair, the waiter looks to be about 80), the food is always very good and prices reasonable.

November – Yarnfest, blogged here. Theatre outing was Kinky Boots.  We had seen this in London with Coral and William and loved it.  It is one of Debbie’s favourite films so she was looking forward to it and we met Lizzie and her fella Charles at the Kingston Theatre Hotel for a bite to eat before the show.  The food was a bit disappointing I thought.  Most of us going for chicken chasseur from the specials board, the chicken was overcooked and the portion wasn’t overly generous for the price.  The food here used to be really excellent but I’m not sure I’d rush back again.  The show was spectacular and we all loved it.

Later in November, we had a lovely evening at our house with the crew.  We had decided on a tapas theme and cooked a variety of dishes including an experimental chicken and chorizo stew which was delicious.  There was heaps of food so lots of lovely left-overs! 

December – On 11th, I met up with Shona and Colette in Walkington for lunch.  We haven’t met since this time last year and it was lovely to see them both again.  Colette is looking great and still fighting hard against pancreatic cancer.  We all said we really must make more of an effort to meet up more often in the coming year.

Christmas happened.  It was lovely with the boys here for the day and we all enjoyed an Indian banquet rather than a traditional Christmas dinner.  I got some lovely presents, including a beautiful watch from Patrick.  The blanket I had crocheted for Michael appeared to be appreciated and they all got hand knitted socks and a neckwarmer for Patrick.  After Christmas, Patrick developed a nasty chest infection and it was touch and go whether he would be able to travel down to London when we were to take Michael home and then spend a night in London.  He rallied round like a trooper though and off we set on the Friday.  It took a while to get down there but we arrived safe and sound.  We decided to get ready meals from the Tesco in the town as Patrick wasn’t up to going out.  Michael’s new flat is much nicer than the previous one.  It’s a maisonette in the small town of Rickmansworth just North of London and it looks to be a nice town from what we saw of it on the Saturday morning.  We got the train into London which took about 40 minutes and as we couldn’t check into the hotel early, we decided to find the nearest Craft Beer Co pub which was about a 15 minute walk away.  After a couple of beers we made our way back to the hotel to get freshened up for the evening out.  I wanted to see the Christmas lights of central London so we made our way to Oxford Street to start with.  There seemed to be some sort of dickhead-drivers rally going on with a convoy of extremely expensive sporty (and very noisy) cars revving their engines whilst stuck in the heavy traffic of central London.  The lights were spectacular and we spent a good couple of hours wandering around enjoying the atmosphere.  Patrick’s blog and photo slideshow does the whole thing more justice here.

So, that was 2019, sorry for the overload in one massive blog.  I think I need to make sure and blog more regularly in 2020! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Skipton Beer Festival Break

Me, a few months ago “Shall we go to Skipton at the end of April for their beer festival?” And so the planning began…I found our accommodation, 1855 Wash House on the HomeAway site. Described as rustic and tastefully decorated with all the amenities you need, it didn’t disappoint. It is beautifully styled, comfortable and cosy. The tiny kitchen would be a problem for us if we were staying longer than a few days because we do like to cook whilst on holiday but it was adequate for our needs on this break.

Having arrived a bit earlier than the check in time, we’d popped into the cafe next door for a spot of lunch so that we could get straight out to the beer festival after unpacking. The Dales Cottage Cafe was like a step back in time. However although the decor could do with updating, the home-cooked meals were lovely. During the walk round to the beer festival, Patrick spotted this chap skulking in the canal so I couldn’t miss a photo opportunity.

The festival was small but good. We found a couple of seats after a while and drinking thirds, managed to sample a fair few beers between us. I think I probably had more than I normally drink and was a bit wobbly when we got back! We got chatting to a nice couple from Birmingham, Mark and Wendy and swapped phone numbers in case they decide to visit our festival in Hull next year.

Friday morning dawned bright and sunny and as it was forecast to rain later, we decided to go for a walk around Skipton castle woods.

Water cascade in Skipton Castle Woods
Willow hunter woman sculpture
Willow horse sculpture
Mossy dry-stone wall
Patrick next to the stream.

As we exited the woodland and started walking around the outside of the castle walls back into the town this pretty embankment caught my eye. So colourful with a mixture of tulips, daffodils and bluebells.

It had now started to rain so we had a bit of a mooch around the shops where I found the most fabulous shoe shop called eshoes stocking Ruby Shoos. How this brand has escaped my notice I have no idea but I can see it becoming a favourite. Very vintage and floral in design, all of the shoes have a cute matching handbag. I fell in love with several pairs but wearing walking boots and thick socks, opted to leave any tryings on until the next day!

The next stop was The Albion which we’d seen advertised in the festival guide. As it was just behind our holiday home, we thought we’d pop in. My Leeds Pale wasn’t very nice, I’m not sure if the recipe or my taste buds have changed or if it was on the turn but I didn’t finish it. Patrick’s Buscombe Bitter was very nice though. Halfway through our drinks a large party of men came in, a tad on the merry side and extremely loud. What is it with some people who think everyone wants to listen to them? Thankfully they supped up fairly quickly and left and we and everyone else in the pub heaved a sigh of relief. The pub was nicely decorated and pleasant enough and the food looked nice but I can’t say there was anything exceptional to tempt me back in, neither was there anything to keep me out to be fair. Pay them a visit and make up your own mind.

I’d like to say that Saturday dawned fine and sunny but that would be a lie. Storm Hannah had hit the UK and Skipton was wet and wild! We popped along to the Dales Cottage Cafe two doors down for some breakfast. We got in there just in time as shortly after sitting down, a whole bunch of elderly ladies trooped in. I’m guessing a coach had just landed, there seemed to be hundreds of them but they filled the place with happy chatter.

We dodged the raindrops in and out of shops and pubs most of the day. I went back to eshoes but sadly none of the Ruby Shoos I wanted were available in my size, I bought a handbag though and will order the shoes I want online. We bumped into Mark and Wendy who we had met on Thursday evening in a little bar on the canal basin called The Boathouse Bar. A nice little place with a good selection of cask and keg, both beers we had were on top form and we could happily have stayed there longer. We then popped into a micro pub called Early Doors which is new since our last visit to Skipton. It was nice, friendly and with a choice of six beers on hand pull. We felt the beer styles could have been a bit more varied but I would still recommend a visit as the beers we had were in good condition and the atmosphere in the place was pleasant….oh, except for the woman watching a noisy video on her phone. Completely inappropriate in a tiny room with just a buzz of companionable conversation the only other sound!

We decided to get fish and chips to take back to the cottage to have before getting ready for a night on the town. Bit of a mistake that decision as the fish and chips weren’t the best we’ve ever had and lay really heavy on both our tummies. After a little snooze, it was shower and change and off we went for a pub crawl of Skipton. First stop was The Woolly Sheep on Sheep Street, a Timothy Taylor pub which we have visited before and eaten in once. A pint and a half of Ram Tam at £4 a pint, which seemed a bit steep, in a busy, hot, noisy pub is just not my idea of fun these days. I’m afraid I’ve reached the stage of wanting a seat and to be able to take off my coat! We finished our drinks and made our way to The Beer Engine. On arrival, there was a guy tuning up a guitar and we feared the worst as it is a very small pub and we thought, not really the place for live music. How wrong can you be? J-Bear as he introduced himself sang and played soul, blues and pop with aplomb and was really entertaining, so much so that we ended up staying in there for the rest of the evening.

We had to vacate the cottage by 10am on Sunday so were up and at ’em fairly early. The weather was fine so we decided to take the steam train from Embsay to Bolton Abbey and go for a walk. I’m sorry to say that the train journey and experience was a real disappointment. Firstly there was a quite lengthy delay in setting off, the train carriages could do with a bit of TLC and the journey itself was just boring. I know it takes money to keep these things going and to refurbish carriages etc. but even so, there was nothing at all about it that would make me want to recommend this to friends as a day out. The aforementioned delay caused a bit of confusion which almost resulted in us being corralled with a National Holiday group. The coach driver was coming along the corridor of the train advising people in the carriages, including us, not to get off at Bolton Abbey, that the train would be bringing them back here and they would be going to Knaresborough as an extra to compensate for the delay. It was only when he mentioned driving and I spotted the logo on his jumper that we realised. That could have been a bit of a disaster!

So, as planned, we did get off at Bolton Abbey and set off for the 1.5 mile walk to the priory, through fields of sheep (and lots of sheep poo which I can still smell now). There were lots of cute lambs about (just ready for eating as Patrick described them) and three of them were posing for the perfect picture. Unfortunately by the time I got my camera ready they’d moved so I had to make do with these.

We enjoyed seeing the ruins and the short walk we went on but by the time we had walked back to the station, we were feeling a bit tired. Patrick then had the long drive home ahead but he assured me that he felt fine.

We had decided to look for somewhere to stop for a Sunday roast and found The Victoria at Cattall, next to the station. What a great find that was. The food was excellent and I would highly recommend it to anyone. It was a lovely, friendly atmosphere with seemingly a lot of locals coming and going and having a word or a joke with one another. I hope we get back there again sometime.

All in all we had a really lovely weekend. Now to look forward to the next one, Flamborough in three weeks time!

Friends…

Lovely Day out with our friends Pete and Donna.  We had first been for a drink in Pave, then the intention was to go for a bite to eat at Thai House Restaurant but as it appears to be no longer open on Saturday afternoons, we went across the road to The Persian.  What a lovely surprise that was.  A very small, family run restaurant offering traditional meze and kebab type fare.  There was a lunchtime special menu for £12.95 which we all chose from.  The boys opting for mixed kebabs with bread, rice and dips and Donna and I going for the ‘meat stews’, chicken for me and lamb for Donna.  Again with bread, rice and dips.  Everything was beautifully cooked and very tasty.  You can buy wine from the menu but the owner positively encourages you to bring your own because it makes it cheaper for you!  A lovely 70 year old man, who chatted to us and couldn’t do enough to help.  We will definitely be back for an evening out sometime.
After our meal, we went for another few drinks in the fabulous 80 Days Bierhaus where the above photos were taken.  This is one of THE places to be in Hull for a great variety of beers from around the world and is one of our favourite bars.