Monday, 12 December 2016

Review: Tickton Grange Hotel, Beverley

A couple of months back I was lucky enough to win a competition hosted by Living North magazine. The prize, 2 nights dinner, bed and breakfast in the rather posh Dearing suite at luxury Yorkshire country house hotel, Tickton Grange, was the perfect way to spend a few days before the Mr's birthday, and a perfect pre-Christmas winter break too.

A couple of week's back we set off to Beverley, and arrived at the hotel in the early afternoon. Our first impressions were that the hotel looked beautiful from the outside, the grounds seemed vast and Tickton Grange itself was, rather than imposing, as some country house hotels can be, warm and welcoming.

From the moment we checked in, each and every member of staff was absolutely wonderful, it felt like staying at someone's home because everyone was so warm and welcoming, and in no time at all we were on our way through the cosy corridors to our amazing suite, the Dearing suite. As soon as we opened the door we were astounded with the beauty of our room.

Admittedly, the structure of the building with it's full length Georgian sash windows which allow the light to flood in, give this place a head-start in the style stakes, but add into the equation the most amazing four poster bed, beautiful decor and a grand bathroom with a monsoon shower and really, you can't get much better.

My particular favourite was the seating area of our room, with bone china cups and saucers and comfortable seating, I admit, I didn't want to leave, and it wasn't long before I was knitting away on the comfortable sofa.

In the evening, we dressed up for dinner, and as we approached the Hide restaurant we were shown by the friendly and helpful waitress to a seat by the roaring open fire in the traditionally decorated bar. From here we could order apperitifs, and choose such beautiful meals as roast duck in honey and plum sauce, followed by pumpkin panna cotta (yes, it is as good as it sounds). It was so refreshing to sit in comfort and enjoy our drinks and conversation rather than being sat at a table upon arrival and waiting there for dinner to be served. We weren't shown until our table until the food was almost ready to be served, which is far more enjoyable, I wish everywhere would do this.

I didn't really take too many photographs in the restaurant, and that speaks volumes in itself because I wanted to enjoy the experience of the exquisite surroundings, the beautiful food and the amazing service. When I say amazing service, I'm not exaggerating, from arrival until you take your coffee back by the open log fire, you have the same waiter or waitress throughout and they know everything there is to know about the food that they serve you. It's done with real ceremony, care and attention and no request is too much. Our experience in the Hide restaurant made the stay as much as the beautiful surroundings, and even if it's just a lovely place for a meal that you are looking for, then this is the place I would recommend.

Just one little picture of one of our beautifully presented starters

We were back in the restaurant during the mornings for the most beautiful freshly cooked breakfasts to order, no hot buffets here and, of course, it would have been rude for me not to sample the beautiful smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, which I'm pleased to report were cooked to fluffy perfection. Whilst we were happy to wander out to nearby Beverley or Driffield during the afternoon, it was a welcome change to spend the morning in the comfort of the bar area knitting. It was such a nice environment that I felt totally relaxed during my whole time there, and everyone, including the owner, was friendly enough to stop and chat with use at any given time.

The Hide restaurant set for breakfast

After 3 days (2 nights) at this beautiful place, we were somewhat sad to leave it behind. With its mix of wonderful service, traditional comfort and style, warmth and fantastic food it was the perfectly relaxing winter break that we needed. I was so lucky to win the competition, but I would happily pay to stay here because it was such a good experience, and if you are looking for a hotel in the Beverley area, then I cannot praise this one highly enough.

The morning view from our suite

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Craft reveal: knitted boys vintage tank top

So, I think I started this tank top in August. I hadn't knitted an actual garment before, hats, shawls etc but not an actual shaped thing that a person could wear.

I decided on a tank top because a skilled knitter friend of mine said it was a good thing to try as a first garment. I also decided that a childs size tank top would be a perfect practice run for the tank top pattern I have for the Mr.

I seem to knit far more vintage things than modern... although it's not like I have a million previous knitwear projects behind me. I'm still very much in the starter category, but I really do like recreating some of those vintage looks with my knitting (I also like to stand in charity shops and laugh at the awful photographs on the front of some of them, but that's a whole other story).

I usually like to knit in pure wool or luxury yarns, but those aren't so practical for a toddler to wear so my friend, his mummy, chose this perfect 50% merino mix in a lovely airforce blue. The result was a lovely soft knit.

I like to try one or two new techniques in each of my knitting projects and this one allowed me to do shaping, knitting on double pointed needles and ribbed cast off, something else I will be taking into my next project. I'm getting to the stage now where I can look at knitting patterns and actually think, I can possibly knit this, instead of, however will I ever even get through this knit?

I'm really pleased with it and more importantly so is my friend and her little boy. The next project will be another vintage knit, this time for me. I can't believe the progress I've made in little more than a year.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

Books: The Elephant in the Mirror - Annette Earl

During this final month of the year I always like to start thinking about what goals I would like to set myself for the year ahead. I’m a bit hit and miss with goal setting, sometimes I’m great, set really clear goals and smash them, other times I’m a bit flaky. I’m not going to beat myself up over it, I’m only human.
I’ve been a bit unclear recently as to what goals I might want to set for 2017, what I really need to focus my attention on over the next year, so when I was given the opportunity to review ‘The Elephant in the Mirror’ by Annette Earl, I jumped at the chance. Annette Earl is a qualified life coach (we all could do with one of those from time to time), and this book promises to help you to “…take charge of your life…” and to facilitate you in “Designing your future and then making it happen”
Photo taken from

I’m the first to admit that I do love a self-help book. My reading pile is currently a patchwork of mindfulness and enlightenment books, and I’ve already shared my little podcast addiction in previous posts. The difference I found with this book is that it seemed more interactive, that is, there are a lot of exercises to do in the book as well as an excellent website (where you can download the exercises if you don’t want to deface the book) to support you through the process.
The book focuses initially on your relationships with others, your environment, your self perception, career and money and trying to unearth exactly what is the elephant in your mirror (or the areas which need addressing that you may ordinarily ignore). Earl talks about confidence and, importantly, authenticity and asks some very direct questions which aren’t always the easiest to answer, after all, as she points out throughout her writing, life is lived just outside your comfort zone. Working through the exercises you begin to reveal the hidden, and maybe not so hidden elements of your life that aren’t serving you well, but importantly there’s a strong theme of self acceptance running throughout the book too, it’s not about becoming perfect (what is perfect anyway?) but about not being afraid to ask yourself the right questions about life, love, money, career, home, work and everything in between.
Earl is very keen to arm you with the tools you need in order to focus your attentions, and as she points out:
“…in some way, you are already the person you want to be. It’s just that you are constantly distracted by all the things you tell yourself you’re not.”
Wise words, I think, I’m often distracted by all the things that Instagram and Pinterest tell me I’m not too!
Having worked on discovering your ‘Elephant’ Earl then goes on to talk you through an ‘Authentic Elephant Action Plan’ and it’s this bit in particular which will inform the goals that I make for the year ahead. For my part, I did some of the exercises, but I didn’t throw myself wholeheartedly into them. As I progressed, however, I realised the importance of completing a good deal of the exercises, and actually, I fully intend to revisit this book AND the exercises during the coming month so that my 2017 goals are clear, well thought out and bring me a step closer to my life aims and values. I’m always happier if I’m working towards some goal and this book is definitely going to help me to concentrate my efforts.

If you too are about to embark on your annual (or more frequent) goal setting mission, ir even if you just want to take stock of where you are right now, then I would seriously recommend this book as something to aid you in that activity. It's a really useful tool, and definitely makes you ask those questions that you would otherwise ignore.
The Elephant in the Mirror is available here on Amazon and between 1st - 3rd December you can download it to your kindle for free. What are you waiting for?

Disclaimer - this book was provided to me free of charge for the purposes of this review

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