The last time I had afternoon team was for my Mum’s 60th birthday in London, so I thought it was high time we took high tea again. We visited The Vicarage just on the outskirts on Holmes Chapel. Owned by Flat Cap Hotels, a Cheshire based family run group, owners of independent hotels with restaurants & pubs specialising in delivering locally sourced British seasonal menus, eccentric cocktails, the finest beers & exceptional wines.
Walking into The Vicarage is like walking into a jolly friend’s country house, there are hats, boots, logs books carefully distributed in and around the bar. Making you feel quite at home straight away. Afternoon tea is served in the conservatory and I took the sparkling option with a glass prosecco £18.95 person with the traditional afternoon tea £14.95, you can also have a G & Tea for £18.95 which is a new twist all gin lovers must try.
Fruit scones, mini banoffi pies, raspberry and elderflower cheesecakes and mini treacle tart with creme fraiche and a sugar shard are the total delights presented to you. You can tell great care has been taken with each sweet delight, the shortcrust pastry was crumbly and buttery. The banana in the pie was creamy and fresh and my absolute favourite the treacle tart was just a mouthful of heaven.
You each get your own pot of tea so you can take it as you prefer it; me/builders and my Mum/watery-weak. The perfect finger sandwiches consisted of egg mayo, cheese and pickle, ham hock and every afternoon tea must have smoked salmon and cream cheese. With a mix of brown and white bread these sandwiches were just enough and the variety perfectly balanced. I can’t decide if egg mayo or the smoked salmon were my faves. The conservatory, which is situated through the bar, which leads onto another room where overnight guests take breakfast. The bar is full of lovely inviting leather sofas, so much so I could have nestled into one and ordered a bottle of red and settled in for the whole afternoon!
But children, football training and dinner prep awaited. Determined to enjoy every morsel we ate the lot, well nearly, but we took the very two last pastries home for my two sons to fight over.
This place is the sort of establishment that welcomes you with a huge hug, no matter what you are going there for, be it a Sunday roast, a drink with the girls or afternoon tea with you Mum. Having all these hand-crafted delights presented to us on a vintage cake stand with tea and fizz (two of my favourite things) was such a lovely indulgence, we both enjoyed every minute. I suggest you all sneak off at once and indulge in this chic and scrumptious treat.
So Northwich? Does it spring to mind when thinking of somewhere to take the family out to eat? Not generally, no. However, from now on it should! Sitting in Wildwood in Barons Quay, the new development down by the river should be in you destination list. Whilst sitting there I thought it felt like sitting in Spinningfields in Manchester!
We’d never been to a Wildwood, there are many around the UK but this is the first in Cheshire. With very stylish decor with copper, blue and silver and comfy booth style seating options in bright blue and gold. You’ll find it right opposite the Odeon, with lots of outdoor seating which will be lovely in the summer.
My eldest and husband opted for Philly steak and cheese sandwich, with marinated steak, Monterey Jack cheese, fried onions, mayonnaise on a brioche bun & French fries. Verdict? Well, they hardly spoke a word so the answer was they loved it! Makes a nice change from the normal burger options, which my youngest had and still ate every mouthful!
I opted for the Superfood Quinoa Salad with feta cheese, avocado, broccoli, green beans, cucumber, sunflower seeds, peas & herbs, and you get to choose either peri-peri chicken, smoked mackerel or grilled halloumi cheese. I opted for the chicken, which was lovely and spicy. All ingredients were fresh and crunchy, just what I was was craving after a night out with the girls the previous evening had left me feeling a little worse for wear. Only one little niggle, the broccoli chunks could do with being a little smaller and more refined as they were a little hard to cut up.
All the staff were very cheery and knowledgeable, with lots of ideas of what to try from the menu. We couldn’t decide on which dessert to end with and it was suggested we opted for Sticky Toffee Pudding and a Chocolate SundaeOreo biscuits, Maltesers, Baileys, fresh cream, chocolate sauce & chocolate ice-cream – my boys were in heaven being huge Oreo fans. The Sticky Toffee Pudding, oh the deliberations between ice cream and custard. We ended up with custard which made the whole dish tip top, rich toffee sauce with a light flavoursome sponge.
This place reminds me of what Spinningfields was first like when built, in both look and feel. The development has faced some criticism from locals about being empty, but was Rome built in a day? This place is at a tipping point and will start to come more alive. Once the blockage (something to do with an unsafe building) between the main street and the new development opens, the artery will become unblocked and people will flow through. The council, developers, building owner and whoever just need to get their skates on and get it sorted. When you can walk right along by the canal it will be so lovely! And the same with the blockage between Sainsbury’s; what’s up with that?!
A cross between Jamie’s Italian, Nando’s and Pizza Express with a sharp, chic edge and we totally love this new kid on the block. More than just pizza and burgers, with risotto, seafood and light bites. Not to mention a fantastic kids menu with pizza and ravioli to choose from. It’s busy, lively and a definite place to take the family. You can also just pop in for a coffee in the semi-bar area, which makes a great stop off point whilst out shopping on Northwich.
6 Barons Quay Shopping Centre, Northwich, CW9 5FT
Opening Hours Monday-Saturday 12-11pm
Facilities – Disabled access Baby changing facilities
Free Moams at the end was a very cute touch. Free parking too, so get on down to Barons Quay. Find more details here
We’ve just had the hottest day on record in the UK for 42 years, 33.4 degrees! It was so darn hot and what to wear for work and the home was a tough one, let alone exercise. Swimming is my thing, always has been. I swim to relax, I swim to destress and cool down. I like the fact it’s just me and no one else, no one can even talk to me. This is the way I like it. But what I have never found is the perfect towel or thing to wear once I some out of the pool. I like to have a little sit down afterwards, to read or just rest my eyes.
Life is busy with children, and working parents and these times are essential to keep equilibrium. A regular towel is too bulky and makes you too hot after a swim, plus of course, it doesn’t stay on! There are a few towelling are the-like on the market, but again too hot and bulky to wear or use, not to mentioned too big to fit into your bag.
At last, I think I have found my answer in a LOLL towel, you wear it like a poncho and unzip it like a towel. Made in Oz, ‘Down Under’ is where you’d expect some of the best beach/hot weather solutions to come from. It’s shorter in the front and longer in the back which gives it a stylish edge. With a comfy, big hood to pop up if the sun/the wind get too much. I’m taking mine to Portugal on our family holiday in August, it will be perfect and will take up hardly any room in the suitcase.
As us Brits know only too well Summer starts when schools close mid to end of July, and as in the past few years has lasted long into September, the loved and long for Indian summer. Your Loll Pocho will see you through all this, I can’t wait to wear mine on the beaches of the Algarve, I’ll post some pics!
It comes in lots of different styles and colours to choose from, with a handy internal front pocket for bits and bobs. You can where it, unzip it, lie on it and is made from 100% cotton with plastic zips, so they won’t rust. Other colours include Choppy Ocean, Ocean Waves and Black.
Although based in Oz they will ship to you anywhere in the world for one flat rate. £42 per poncho. Contact them for more details right here
Nestled between Knutsford and Alderley, on the outskirts of Wilmslow sits The Oakwood. Over the years this place has been a myriad of different pubs and restaurants, some have lasted and some haven’t. I used to come here in the late 80’s when it was a pub during my A levels! After visiting for a Father’s Day dinner something tells me this place is here to stay. I didn’t tell my family where we were heading for dinner, my husband has been on an FA training course all weekend so was hot, worn out and ready for good food. It’s cosy and welcoming inside, with lots of lovely sofas and quiet corners to sit and just have a drink or a light bite. Lots of dark cosy navy paint colours, with touches of jewelled bright pop of velvets, patterned cushions and lots of chic table, wall and ceiling lights offering soft but good lighting.
We decided to share two starters; Ocean-reared trout gravadlax, dill, Dijon mustard, cucumber julienne, lemon crème fraîche and Potted Cromer crab, avocado, prawn butter, toasted sourdough, both so fresh and full of flavour. The gravadlax was sliced into cute little decent sized sections, not the wafer thin style we are more used to, which worked really well. The sourdough toast was divine, I love sourdough and I think it is so easy to get wrong, but here it was light and chewy and full of flavour.
My 15-year-old son is in Y10 and had two weeks worth of exams starting the following day, so needed a great plate of hearty sustenance to set him up. He chose Steak Frites, a 9 oz rump steak, chips, ‘Café de Paris’ herb & mustard butter. His words after his first mouthful were ‘oh man, this is the boss’ (teenage speak for ‘great’) and we didn’t hear another word until he’d finished. I had Grilled stone bass & cardamom-braised fennel, apple purée, watercress & fennel salad. Stone bass is a fish with which I am unfamiliar, but I loved the sweet, moist flakes of white fish, and with the apple puree and crisp fennel it was just delicious.
My poor sunburnt husband enjoyed a dish of Pork Rack which had been cooked confit, with a touch of sage and dauphinoise potatoes, which was his idea of the perfect plate of food. Our youngest son aged 10, went for the good reliable burger and chips, in this case, Free range Cornish beef burger, brioche bun, chips, with the added bonus of a slice of Comte cheese.
Being in the middle of a UK side heatwave, all the doors and windows were open to ensure a cooling breeze throughout. We also had a couple of glasses or Beaulieu Rose to cool us both down, they were both so cold and hit the spot.
To end with, we shared two desserts a sticky toffee pudding and a lemon posset with cats tongue biscuits; I’d never heard of this type of biscuit and our lovely waiter told us it was a classic French recipe. This lemon pudding has us all fighting for the last mouthful, so much so, we nearly forgot about the sticky toffee pudding so we polished that off between us too!
Between Knutsford, Alderley Edge and Wilmslow, you are spoilt for choice on places to eat, but this is the place you should definitely head for. I am with my Mum for lunch next week and I can’t wait to go back. This is the sort of place that becomes a no-brainer place to choose to eat, you get a great varied menu with fresh seasonal produce and what else do you need when you want to eat out? The staff were lovely, knowledgeable
The White Brasserie Company is a family of British pubs with a French brasserie twist. With 15 different places to try, mainly in the south, The Oakwood being there first in Cheshire, in fact, we have been to The Cricketer in Cobham Surrey several times as it is round the corner from my sister in law.
From chef Raymond Blanc, who sits on the board of the White Brasserie, said that while these new pubs will be high-end gastropubs, they will eschew the white table cloth dining concept. “I’m not talking about three-star Michelin,” he said. “I’m talking about fresh, good, cooked food and that’s what Great Britain needs.” And I couldn’t agree more.
£139.21 for four including drinks and wine.
Tom Cruise said it, ‘I feel the need for speed!’ and this could be our family motto, so walking is not something favoured by my family. We are sporty with swimming, rugby, cricket, cycling and football done regularly, but walking is seen as, to quote, ‘boring’. I do occasionally drag them on a walk, Shuttlingsloe in Macclesfield Forest was the most recent and they did enjoy that. So when I mentioned Delamere Forest over the half-term there were cries of ‘not a walk!’ but I was plesed to inform them it was Segway – “woo hoo, wicked was their response.
I know some cool companies, such as Facebook and Google, use Segway to go about thier business and after trying them out at Go Ape we all should have them. Josh was our guide and carefully talked us through all the safety and users details, you have to sign a detailed waiver for you and your children, so do read this carefully before you sign. Thankfully you get to have a practice on a little figure of 8 track on a slope. My boys went first and of course got it straight away, me and my husband were a little more cautious as we tentatively made out way round the practice track.
Once you get the hang of it, which takes no more than 10 minutes, you are away and it feels amazing, weird, but amazing. You are moving, but you legs or feet are not moving, so it takes a while for your brain to compute. We all found that our feet hurt by the end of it, in different ways, my insteps were killing me! But so worth it. Apperently dogs are a little freaked-out by humans whizzing through the forest and you are taught to slow down near dogs, and of course other people.
There is a training mode to get you started, so you can’t zoom off into the woods at a wreckless top speed! Once you’ve mastered the training section, and gone a little further into the woods you are taken off trainig mode and you can put your feet down. 15 mph is the max and we averged about 10 and that felt fast enougt quite frankly! If you were to come off at that speed and hit and tree you could do some damage and you do wear a securely fitted helmet.
You follow the instructor, Josh, in single file throughtout your session, stopping now and then for him to give further instruction about going up and down hill and around corners. I was totally convinced I was going to facepalm, by leaning too far forwards but it’s impossible we were all told.
I did fall off, but only when we were staitionery and I hadn’t followed the instructions, but I was totally fine. Josh was there to help me thank goodness! It was a lovely afternoon whizzing through the lush dense forest, weaving gently in an out of the paths avoiding holes and puddles. We took turns in our positions following Josh and to see your children having such a great time, mastering a new skill, is so heartwarming. To me, life is all about experiences, big and small, and we all really enjoyed it and would definately do it again. I could do with one now just to pop out to the shops, maybe it’s the future for helping with future public transport. Huge thanks to Josh who was a great guide, and made us all feel secure and comfortale.
Go Ape at Delamere Forest has so much for families to try, not to mentioned you can go just for a walk. Segway is a great way to cover more gound and see bits of the forest you have not seen before. You can find out more about the details here take a look at the short film all about it. Book you Segway adventure soon.
With thoughts of a (hoped for) long hot Summer on our mind, ice and snow is the last thing we were thinking about. So when the Chill Factore called and asked us if we’d like to try out their Snow Park we did hesitate; did we want to be cold? Of course, I asked my children (two boys aged 10 and 15) and their answer was yes. I’ve been to the Chill Factore a few times over the years, for ski lessons and to use the snow park, but it had been at least five years since I’d stepped foot inside the place. We managed to round up a few of my ten-year-old son’s friends and Mums to come and play in the snow. Poppy was our host who met us at the check-in desk and managed the rabble of excited boys and girls, with snow boots and kit.
The changing room which was just for us was a little hot, but it’s great to have a place for them all to change and leave all belongings securely. You have to put a coloured bib on over you ski stuff, which is a bit of pain, to be honest, and does restrict your movement a bit. This is so they can see who belongs to which group, but I think there must be a better way of doing this.
As parents, we don’t often get the chance to act like kids and we jumped at it! My husband’s favourite was the sledging, it reminded him of his childhood sledging up in the hills of Macclesfield. I especially enjoyed the luge, you just lie back and off you go, twisting and turning not knowing where you are going to end up!
It’s a great taster for young children to give them confidence in the snow and ice; you don’t fall over all the time and even when you fall off, you will be fine!
You can try the donuts, luge (two for children and one for adults) and sledging. I love the donut and by the end was given a full-power spin by the staff at the top of the hill, much to my sons laughter! You do think you are going to ping off the end but I promise you won’t. It’s so much fun watching the others slide down the snow, listening to the cries o delight!
After just under an hours fun on the snow park we were hot and puffed out. We opted to have pizza at Pizza Della Piste; the family meal deal £30 for two large pizzas, one garlic bread and four drinks, oh and some chips. Huge portions, steaming hot and very tasty. There are lots of other places to drink, opt for coffee at Costa or a full dinner at Nando’s.
It’s great to have this wonderful place on our doorstep, and you can see it from miles around peeking out from right near the Trafford Centre. If you have not been for a while it’s worth the trip, there are lots of things going on for all ages including ladies only sessions, lessons for all, snow camps, parties and taster days. And by the time we’d finished, we were not cold, in fact, we were roasting.
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You can’t go to Edinburgh without a visit to the castle, she sits there looming over the city and you just can’t ignore her even if you try. We arrived in Edinburgh at night, the castle was lit up and looked amazing and daunting; what did the enemies of old make of it as they approached this insurmountable building?
Walking up to the castle gates makes you feel part of history as you cross their threshold and enter through the castle gates. They are of course small to only let those through who were welcome. What were our highlights?
The Military Prison was a real eye opener, French and Spanish prisoners being locked up in such hard conditions so far from home, during the 1700 and 1800’s. Hammocks are hung everywhere, with tiny windows, gives real insight into what life was like. Letters from home were allowed at certain times of the year, which must have made their stay just a little, more bearable.
The dog cemetery carves out a quiet little corner, dogs of former soldiers, who must have been great companions during a harsh Scottish winter and a gentle reminder of the lighter side of castle life.
The courtyard offers safety from the wind, with the Great Hall on one side in which Mary Queen of Scots stepped, with sheer drop down the cliff face on one side. Did anyone every get flung out of the windows I wonder?
The Scottish National War Memorial just stops your breath as you wander around and read all the dedications and memorials; the story of Scotland at war until the present day. Within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, the National War Museum tells the story of battles lost and won, through military artefacts and personal treasures. The bronze and metal work alone is worth a visit, the details are incredible.
Some moving and sobering quotes inside make you stop and really think about what as gone before us.
The Scottish Crown Jewels, known as the Honours of Scotland are a must-see – although a tourist decided to take his shoes and socks off whilst having a rest for us all to see, which was a little distracting!
It’s hard to get your head around the layout of the castle, but I am sure that was part of the design to foil attackers. But this is also the beauty of the place, add in the views and it’s just WOW. We even saw Arthur’s Seat which had climbed the day before.
We are blessed in the UK to have a plethora of castles to visit, but this one is unique. The location alone is just stunning, slap-bang in the middle of the city, which means you can see her peeping out wherever you are in the city. You feel the power and influence this place had been part of over the years.
There is the lovely Redcoat Cafe for a warm up of great cakes and tea, with the most amazing views over Edinburgh, in a stylish setting.
With so many details to look at (as shown in the picture above) the whole design and planning of the castle makes your head spin, the way the bricks meld into the rocks as if they grew straight out from the earth rocky crust.
The one o’clock gun fires every day, except Sunday, and this was when the castle seemed most busy. It’s worth the wait, it’s loud, very loud! I can imagine the office workers of Edinburgh listen out for it as a marker of when to head off for lunch.
I first visited the castle in the mid 90’s and I loved visiting again. You must visit when in Edinburgh as she won’t let you forget about her whilst you are in the city. Visit here to view the website. Audio and tour guides available.
OK so my two children, boys aged 10 and 14, were not that into the idea of going to look around a boat that once belonged to the Queen. It was decommissioned in 1997 long before they were born, so fair enough. I on the other had always had a little bit of love for it, I’d seen in action a couple of times in the 90’s and always thought it was very glamorous. Situated next to the Ocean Terminal shopping centre I got a sneak-peak as I popped to the loo in Debenhams from which you can see her from; boats, as you know are always referred to the female.
You start right on the top deck in the wheelhouse which seems by today’s standards so quaint. Lots of knobs and dials, practically nothing at all high-tech. Did it really go around the 1,000,000 miles around the world? To visit each section you come and off the yacht via stairs as you go down and finally end up in the launch (you can go back up via a list). Every level has something joyous to look at, everything takes you right back in time and you it feels like you on the set of a 50’s Grace Kelly movie. Each room from the formal dining room, to the bar to the bedrooms, feels so homely and cosy you have to remind yourself you are on the sea. You get such and insight on to what life would have been like, as much has been left as it was, including glasses, bottles of champagne and all decorations.
No wonder the Queen nearly shed a tear when she was decommissioned. It must have been a place of real privacy and relaxation, a great place to spend time with the family and get away from it all, away from prying eyes.
You get given a hand-held audio guide (child version also available) and you can click at your leisure when you see the relevant number. You get told some fascinating facts, such as who has been on board, the events held, the gifts given from various travels.
All the staff were so lovely and helpful, with even one posted by the ship’s bell to take a photo for you, and they look so cool in their tartan trousers!
What did my boys think? From the moment they stepped on board, they were hooked. Of course, they liked things like the engine room, wheelhouse and spears in the dining room. But they loved hearing all about the history, who worked on board, where the crew slept etc They especially loved the fact a Phantom Rolls Royce used to travel on board as well! I haven’t put too many pictures as I think this would spoil your visit as there is so much to absorb, also keep an eye out for the beautiful details such as the wood and brass work.
If you fancy, you can take afternoon tea on the royal deck, which looked simply divine actually prepared on board. The gift shop has some impressive things to buy and we settled on a fridge magnet and tea towel. Whatever you think about the royal family, you can help but be impressed by the piece of British history and what she did for Britain around the globe. The ship, which acted as the Queen’s private yacht between 1954 and 1997, In her latter years Britannia is estimated to have brought in £3bn of commercial trade deals. Now as Scotland’s second most popular visitor attraction after Edinburgh Castle, she is now bringing a new economy to the area, with jobs and tourism and that is another lease of life I hope continues long into the future. We then popped to Wagamama for lunch in the Ocean Terminal, after all we had been given a taste for international travels whislt on board!
Open all year round, adults £15.50, children aged 5-17 £13.75, under 5’s free. Other ticket prices available. Please check the website before making your booking or trip.