Ox Pasture Hall hotel

After a week’s camping, culminating in a hard night’s partying, we were ready for four walls and a roof, a bath and a proper bed.

It wasn’t time for home yet, but lucky for us we had been invited to stay at Ox Pasture Hall, a country hotel set in the North York Moors National Park, just a couple of miles from Scarborough.

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

After arriving we were shown to our room, a luxury suite located in a secluded corner with a spacious living area, bedroom and bathroom. The fresh flowers were a lovely touch, but my fatigued body was most drawn to the huge bed, bath and thick white dressing gown.

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

After settling in we made our way to the lounge for afternoon tea (£15 per person), a treat of prawn, cucumber and ham sandwiches, freshly made cakes and still-warm scones served with clotted cream and jam.

Ox Pasture Hall afternoon tea Ox Pasture Hall afternoon tea

Our sweet tooths satisfied, we headed back to the room where I had a long bath before wrapping myself in the cosy dressing gown and curling up in front of the TV. Ah, the basic luxuries and simple pleasures of life you appreciate after a week under canvas!

Looking out of the sash windows over fields and woodland, it was a blissful afternoon. Before we knew it, it was time for our evening meal and at the courtyard restaurant we were shown to a table overlooking the pretty front garden.

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

We began with chicken roulade and homemade cheese and chive bread. Our starters were pan fried mackerel with new potatoes and shaved fennel (£6.95) and confit duck salad and duck liver parfait with cherry sorbet (£8.95).

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

My main course was braised pork belly with savoy cabbage, celeriac and apple (£14.95) while my husband had a mini beef fillet and brisket of beef served alongside mash potato, mushroom duxelle and baby turnip and carrot (£23.50). We were both really impressed with the way the meat was cooked – to melt-in-your-mouth perfection, and the mister is quite fussy about his beef – and compiled in a dish with just the right amount of imagination and flair.

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

We barely had room for a fourth course but we’d enjoyed the meal so far so much we didn’t want to miss out on dessert. Pudding was preceded by strawberry consummate, then I had Eton mess with strawberry ice cream (£6.50) while he got to eat again his favourite cake from afternoon tea. It was part of a selection of spoon-sized chocolate and pistachio desserts and raspberry mille feuille (£7.95).

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

We were incredibly impressed with the meal. Taste and presentation were excellent and we both agreed it was a contender – if not winner – for the best we’d ever had.

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

As a whole, the hotel’s location and approach are sure to encourage relaxation and a laid-back pace of life. Set in 17 acres, it’s such a quiet, peaceful place. Our room was quite new and there seems to be ongoing work to improve the hotel, but not so much that it takes away from the building’s rustic charm or stops it feeling like a boutique home from home.

Two tiny (constructive) criticisms resulting from our stay. We weren’t offered help with getting our bags to the room, and although we usually decline at hotels anyway, it might be valued by other guests. We also struggled to connect to the wifi – when I rang reception they said our room might be out of range – but being out of touch is not altogether a bad thing in helping you switch off when you’re away from it all.

Weddings

Ox Pasture is really well set up for weddings and they host 100 a year. They can cater for up to 150 guests for a wedding breakfast but manager Lynsey told me she likes to sit down with couples to get to know them and tailor their day – big or small – to match their wishes. The hotel has several licensed areas and, for me, a big selling point is their ability to offer outdoor wedding ceremonies, either in the courtyard or under a thatched gazebo at the rear, overlooking the large pond.

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

Wedding breakfasts (from £39.50 per person) and evening receptions usually take place in the purpose-built and self-contained Dovecote Suite but they’re happy to do something outside the norm, like afternoon tea or a barbecue buffet. There are big discounts for autumn, winter and spring and mid-week, Friday and Sunday weddings.

Review: Ox Pasture Hall hotel and wedding venue, near Scarborough, North York Moors National Park, North Yorkshire

I have no hesitation in recommending a visit to Ox Pasture Hall. If you can’t stretch to a stay, do call in for a meal – ours was outstanding.

*Our overnight stay, afternoon tea and evening meal were complimentary for review purposes, but content is all my own and my opinions are always honest

Grassington Festival

After a couple of days in London, we jumped back in the car and headed back up north for our annual festival weekend.

Although on the same weekend as the world’s most famous festival at Worthy Farm, we were going to Grassington, not Glastonbury.

Still, there were fields and live music, and with my wristband on I could nearly pretend I was there.

By now – well we were back in Yorkshire – the temperature had dropped slightly so I wore jeans and a vest topped off with this pretty boho paisley-print kimono. I could get away with my nude chunky strap sandals because the ground was baked and dry but I wouldn’t advise anything but wellies at any of the big festivals which have a much higher footfall.

Grassington Festival fashion: New Look paisley print kimono Grassington Festival fashion: New Look paisley print kimono Grassington Festival fashion: New Look paisley print kimono Grassington Festival fashion: nude chunky strap sandals

// kimono, £19.99, c/o New Look / sandals, £19.99, c/o New Look / jeans, Next / vest, Miss Selfridge / belt, Primark / bangles, H&M //

I love it when summer – and especially the run of festivals – rolls round. I just find the season’s laid-back style so much simpler to get on board with. I am probably the girl least likely to be seen in a body con dress.

I don’t even get bored of the ubiquitous festival fashion articles, whether it’s the latest celeb outfits, seeing what people in the field are wearing – aren’t some festival-goers wonderfully bold and creative? – or advice on what you should, and definitely should not, wear.

Of course, even the best-planned looks can be foiled by the weather and the practicalities of dressing for standing in an open field for hours on end. Without stating the obvious, the key to successful festival fashion is to dress for the event you’re at. If you blindly channel Kate Bosworth at Coachella or just lift an outfit off a magazine page and plonk it and yourself in a field in Leeds on August bank holiday weekend it’s probably not going to end well.

You need to be comfortable, warm and dry. You do not need to have flowers in your hair. Have a read of this post from last summer for more tips on festival dressing.

New Look have put together a festival fashion timeline, and it’s interesting to see how trends come, go and reappear decades later. The timeline takes you through the years from 1969 to 2014 and summarises the items, designers and celebrities that made each influential look famous. I’m definitely most drawn to the boho and indie styles famously favoured at festivals by the likes of Kate Moss and Alexa Chung.

If you have any great fashion advice I’d love you to share your wisdom! Or just tell me about your festival experiences – good or bad :)

We didn’t see all that much at Grassington this year, I confess. We were in wound-down holiday mode, so it was more about long evenings at camp round the fire catching up with the people around us and dodging midges. We saw ukelele group The Grand Old Uke of York – also sharing our camp – in the Square during the day and went to the closing party in the festival marquee, which was headlined by Heather Small and supported by Miss 600. But just spending time in this pretty Dales town is always a joy, especially just before Le Tour came and it was all trimmed up for the party.

Grassington Festival 2014 Grassington Festival 2014 Grassington Festival 2014 Grassington Festival 2014 Grassington Festival 2014 Grassington Festival 2014 Grassington Festival 2014 Miss 600 Grassington Festival 2014 Heather Small

Ask Her Friends blogger panel

For the third and final time, I’m sharing the month’s Ask Her Friends blogger panel picks.

Remember, this is where Ask Her Friends calls on its panel of bloggers to pick out their best things on site. I’ve loved being a part of it and was always spoilt for choice when trying to select just four or five favourites.

The best thing about it is, you can win a £50 voucher simply by taking a look and voting for your favourite set. Apparently the last two months have been close calls so go on, hop on over and vote for me and let’s see if we can both be winners!

Here’s what I picked this month. The work being done on my kitchen has been at the forefront of my mind – or rather, how it will look when it’s all finished and I’ve added all the decorative touches I want – and I kind of fell instantly in love with the giraffe dipping bowl! Isn’t it sweet?

Ask Her Friends blogger panel July

1. Five Star Boutique Holiday in Turkey by Secret Escapes; 2. Ride My Bike Print by Old English Company; 3. Mulberry Domerivet Glossy Goat Leather Wallet by The Collection; 4. Silly Slogan Tea Towel by The Joy of Ex Foundation; 5. Giraffe Oink Dipping Dish by Yas-Ming Ceramics

Summer wish list

So summer is being pretty kind to us Brits this year, no?

How have you been spending these sunny days? As you know, I’ve been away camping and we’ve been busy making progress with the house renovation.

I’ve been going out more than usual after work, the snatched hours of evening sun making up for all the time lost inside earning a living.

I’m hoping to soon get to try a few new Leeds food joints I’ve heard good things about – (all the Bs!) Bundobust (check out Amy’s write-up of the preview night I’m sad I couldn’t make), Byron (the building looks stunning, as Emma agreed when she ate there) and Bird and Beast. I was a bit gutted I couldn’t get to last weekend’s Belgrave Music Hall monthly street feast and arts market – hopefully next time.

I’ve discovered Aldi’s version of Pimms is just as good as the real thing, and I’ve finally found a bit more time for reading. If you’re looking for a new novel, see if you fancy The Best Thing That Never Happened to Me, co-authored by my friend Jimmy. His dating blog used to crack me up and the first few pages of his début book haven’t disappointed.

It goes without saying Le Tour de Yorkshire a few days ago was incredible – one of our region’s proudest ever moments? – and I’m sure I’ll get into the Commonwealth Games when they start in Glasgow next week (although I am a bit upset with Scotland that they might leave us). That said, we’re thinking of squeezing in a sneaky trip to Edinburgh Fringe in August, when I also have a weekend in London booked and a couple of days set aside for spending with the girls drinking cocktails.

Husband and I have got some time off work booked in early September, so I’m hoping the fine weather lasts for some weeks yet.

I’ve started buying a few bits and pieces that I’ll share with you soon for my kitchen and living room – heavily inspired by Jen’s insight into how she decorates her rented house – for that moment that seems forever away when the rooms will be finished. In the meantime, want to see what I’m fancying adding to my wardrobe?

Summer 2014 wish list - Topshop, Marc Jacobs, Whistles, Zara, Asos, Stuart Weitzman, Alphabet Bags

 // 1 leaf print midi skirt, £38, Topshop / 2 Marc by Marc Jacobs ‘Baker’ leather strap watch, £108.34, Nordstrom / 3 striped logo sweat, £75, Whistles / 4 jewel earrings, £9.99, Zara / 5 zig zag rope necklace, £14.50, Topshop / 6 Orelia arrow stud earring, £12, Asos / 7 cyclist eyelet trainer, £175, Stuart Weitzman at Harrods / 8 Alphabet Bags ‘Take the scenic route’ travel pouch, £20 //

PS just taking a short refresher break from telling you about my recent travels, back on that soon…

*written in collaboration with Harrods but content all my own and honest

What I wore: floral trousers

After just a handful of days in Norfolk, several weeks of solid toil at work and at home were forgotten and we were completely relaxed. Unfortunately, our zen-like state was about to change.

Our next stop was London and driving into the capital would send our stress levels soaring – albeit for a very good reason. My brother and his wife have just had a baby and we were about to meet her for the first time. He’s my only sibling and his daughter Elsie is the first of our nuclear family’s next generation. Just five days old when I first held her, I was spellbound. She’s utterly beautiful as you can see in this photo I tweeted.

Anyway, back to the fashion. If you’re in south London I’d really recommend a trip to Eltham Palace, where I snapped these outfit shots in the immaculate grounds. It’s actually a former family home built by the wealthy Courthalds next to the remains of Eltham Palace – where Henry VIII spent some of his childhood – and it’s a wonderful example of 1930s art deco architecture and décor. I was fascinated by tales of their pet lemur and decadent interwar parties.

Floral trousers at Eltham Palace London Read More →

Colourful Norfolk

We’ve just taken two weeks off work, when we planned to have a few days away camping and make some progress on the kitchen renovation.

Unusually, wall-to-wall sunshine was predicted from day 1. We toyed with the idea of going away a few days earlier and for longer than planned. Pros of doing this = we could enjoy the sun. Cons = we won’t have a working kitchen for weeks yet.

With little deliberating, we went early. First stop was Norfolk, our first ever visit. And isn’t she pretty?

Cromer, Norfolk Read More →

Cabins and Covet, Ilkley

So, over the last few weeks I’ve had quite a lot of days and breaks away during various trips around Britain.

I’m very behind with telling you about these places, so I’m afraid over the next few days you might feel like you’re being taken on a whirlwind tour of the country.

Today we’re going back in time to about a month ago (*slapping of blogger wrists*) when I spent a blissed-out weekend in a log cabin with some of my best girls. We stayed at Faweather Grange, a smattering of cabins set in farmland not far from Ilkley. I mentioned this trip a few weeks ago and you came up with some excellent suggestions for ways we could spend our time in this well-heeled West Yorkshire town.

Unfortunately we were greeted with non-stop torrential rain on the day we’d planned to spend in Ilkley, so called short our time there. I made sure to visit Covet, which a few of you suggested, and it turns out you knew exactly what I would like. What a truly lovely shop!

Covet, Ilkley Read More →

A boy, a girl and a bike

Bike fever has well and truly taken over in Yorkshire, with the Tour de France being here this week.

So I thought it fitting to share this lovely 1940s-style fashion shoot, visualised by West Yorkshire designers and photographed by Shelly of Toast of Leeds around Hebden Bridge, where the Tour will pass through on Sunday.

The shoot was inspired by the 1949 film ‘A boy, a girl and a bike’, starring Honor Blackman and Diana Dors, which was shot in Huddersfield.

A boy, a girl and a bike 1940s photo shoot in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire A boy, a girl and a bike 1940s photo shoot in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire A boy, a girl and a bike 1940s photo shoot in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire Read More →

Tour de France in Yorkshire

It’s 18 months since I stood in the snow outside Leeds town hall, watching a spectacular firework display celebrating the news that Yorkshire would host the Grand Départ of the Tour de France.

Now it’s upon us, and bikes are everywhere. On Saturday, the peloton will ride from Leeds to Harrogate taking in the Yorkshire Dales, before York to Sheffield on Sunday.

I love taking to two wheels, but have little interest in competitive cycling. I confess I’ve toyed with the idea of getting away from Yorkshire for the weekend, but the wish to be here and part of this huge event has gradually grown. Now I’m excited for the success I am sure we will make of it, to see our spectacular region showcased to the world, to watch everyone enjoying the celebrations around it and for the feel-good factor and boost for Yorkshire that – I hope – is sure to follow.

Buttertubs Pass, Yorkshire, Tour de France route 2014

// the winding roads and stunning views of Buttertubs Pass, Upper Wharfedale / image Welcome to Yorkshire //

We’ll be in Skipton, where my sister-in-law lives. It’s a spectator hub and the tour will be passing through on Saturday. My dad is a volunteer ‘tour maker’, bless him (they’ll be the ones in head-to-toe garish green) – he always regretted not completing his application to be a ‘Games maker’ at the 2012 Olympics.

If the buzz has been a slow burn for you too, there are still ways to get involved. Read More →

Ask Her Friends blogger panel

It’s that time again – this month’s gift ideas from the Ask Her Friends blogger panel is live!

If you remember from last time I’ve recently joined a host of my favourite bloggers on this panel, and each month we choose a selection of gifts. And the best bit is if you hop on over to the June blogger page and vote for your favourite blogger choices you could £50 to spend at Ask Her Friends.

This month the theme was summer, so I chose things for trips to the beach, picnics and garden parties.

Few things could be more summery than this delicate bee necklace. I can imagine a trip to the beach with this colourful bag and pretty notebook, jotting down some thoughts on the world. And the mojito maker? A vital part of your garden party kit.

Ask Her Friends June blogger panel gift choices

1. Four Piece Mojito Set by Whisk Hampers, 2. Wax Print Tote Bag by Mefie, 3. Pink Flamingo Notebook by Nikki Strange, 4. Honey Bee Necklace by Cinderela B, 5. Pomegranate Rose and Peony Bouquet by Appleyard.

Don’t forget to go and vote for your favourite set of picks to be in with a chance of winning £50 to spend at Ask Her Friends.

What do you think to my choices? What things represent summer to you?

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