I’ve said before that I love how the number and range of festivals has grown in the last few years.
When I was a student in the late 90s, it seemed like it was all – Glastonbury, parting with £200 for a weekend in a cramped tent, braving a mud bath and revolting portaloos – or nothing. That probably explains why I’ve never quite got round to going to a ‘big festival’. Never quite the right time.
Now, there’s a festival to suit pretty much everyone, and they’re a lot more accessible. More than likely there will be one in or near your home town, and it might even be free.
I like my festivals a bit more varied than just music – good food too, perhaps some outdoor theatre or comedy – and I prefer a laid-back, all-ages-and-types crowd. I like to camp, but with proper facilities and a little off-site, where rowdiness often ensues – but only when we want it to.
I’m just about to go to Grassington Festival in the Yorkshire Dales, where we spend a few days each year, we’re probably going to Edinburgh Festival Fringe (does that count?) in August and I’m thinking Festival No 6 in Portmeirion looks cool and is conveniently dated in the middle of our next two week holiday. You might remember I spent a day last year at Galtres and I’m tempted to return now I know Morcheeba are headlining.
When I saw this video made by Joules it reminded me of the kind of festivals I like. Read More →
This could be the world’s comfiest jumpsuit.
Perfect for summer days, it has a boho black and white print and is cool and light making it good to travel in while fitting for hanging out at camp, in the pub or at a garden party or gig.
I wore it for our family’s recent gathering at Cloughton Station and it saw me through several hours of eating, drinking, sitting outside chatting and playing silly games.
I’ve been wanting some Wayfarers for ages, so this gorgeous tortoiseshell pair have been stuck to my face since I got my hands on them.
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One of the (many) great things about staying at Cloughton Station, is that – unsurprisingly for a former train station – it’s right on the former Scarborough to Whitby railway line.
The train line opened in 1885 and closed 80 years later. It’s now a peaceful track leading walkers, cyclists and horse-riders on a 21-mile trail never far from the coast through North Yorkshire’s North York Moors National Park.
From Cloughton, it’s just two miles to the Hayburn Wyke pub, a great place to stop for a pint or even a meal, with a big beer garden and a good-sized patch of grass for little legs to run around on.
From the pub, you can take a short walk through a nature reserve and down to ‘smugglers cove’ where a waterfall cascades into the sea. It’s as idyllic as it sounds.
If you can drag yourself away the cycle track goes all the way to Whitby, but we only had time to go as far as Ravenscar (about five miles away). Unfortunately sea mist obscured the usually spectacular view from the Raven Hall Hotel to Robin Hood’s Bay.
It’s a very steady climb all the way to Ravenscar but that does mean you can freewheel nearly all the way back, which we did, laughing and chatting and fooling around like we were kids, a sense of freedom rushing through our bodies like the wind in our hair.
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A couple of weeks ago my uncle took us all away to North Yorkshire to celebrate his 70th birthday.
It’s typical of his generosity and love of his family and a good gathering that he’d do that. It’s just a shame the man himself was quite unwell over the weekend, because his charades demonstrations are legendary. Gestures done with such passion, energy and determination, he’s quite unaware why just one swoop of his arm has us in hysterics.
We stayed at this pretty special place near Scarborough. The former Cloughton Station house is a B&B and tea rooms, and alongside it is a converted train carriage (named Oscar) and goods shed, both offering self-catering accommodation.
By all accounts Oscar is a little creaky and cramped, but so much fun if you have train enthusiasts in your family. The Goods Shed is a big, modern space with three bedrooms.
The Mr and I were still feeling a little emotionally delicate but, in the bosom of my family, sharing stories and smiles under the evening sun, with cold drinks and food fresh from the barbecue, we healed a bit more.
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At the beginning of our recent few days in Northumberland we stopped off in the small town of Corbridge.
“We’re here,” I said, as we parked up in front of a rather uninspiring rural petrol station. My husband shot me one of his familiar “where have you brought us now?” looks.
But wonderful things are yet more rewarding when they’re hidden, unexpected, so good they don’t need to shout about themselves to every passer-by.
I’d come across this store a couple of times online and in magazines and have been waiting for a chance to visit.
Head down the alleyway to the left of the petrol pumps and you’ll find a converted workshop that is home to RE, a home accessories shop created by fashion design colleagues turned business partners Simon Young and Jenny Vaughan.
In the long hours the pair spent travelling for work, they would pass the time asking: if you had a shop, what would you sell? After several months, and increasingly serious answers, they found two large metal letters that became their shop’s moniker at a Paris flea market. RE was born in 2003.
If it must be called something, RE is a lifestyle store, but it doesn’t sit easily in a category or pigeon hole. As they say on their website, you can’t describe what you’ll find at RE, you can’t easily summarise its concept or shoehorn its philosophy into a paragraph. Read More →
We finished our spare bedroom at the beginning of the year and, as I’ve said before, I’m struggling a bit with its purpose. Not that it needs one, particularly, but if you know what you want it sure makes kitting it out a lot easier.
It’s in good use at the moment as our makeshift living room because we’ve recently started renovating all of the downstairs. We’ve quickly become quite attached to it, actually: it’s at the back of the house so it’s private and peaceful with lots of sun and a rural view. Spending time here has made us not want to let it become a room we shut the door on and ignore, only to be used when guests come from time to time.
We need room for a couple of people to stay, but perhaps the room could have a dual purpose – an office area… or crafting desk perhaps?! Of course, demanding more of a room means better planning and more efficient use of space.
We recently threw out the spare bed which was well past its best, and instead of a straightforward replacement we’re thinking of a sofa bed. They have obvious space-saving advantages, meaning room could be made for a desk and a cupboard or two for files and my crafting supplies.
I’m not thinking of anything flash, just a simple, practical and comfortable design and not so big that it swamps the room. That’s why I like the look of the range from Willow and Hall, a new-ish company which prides itself on furniture handmade in Britain.
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Now this sounds like a pretty perfect summer weekend to me: vintage stalls, live music, classic cars, picnics, cocktails and afternoon tea.
What if I said all this is happening in one place, at one of the finest regency stately homes in Yorkshire, and then that you can go for free. Would you love me?
Scampston Does Vintage organised by Britain Does Vintage is at Scampston Hall on 7 and 8 June. Sadly I’ve already got good plans, but I’ve got two weekend family tickets (admitting up to two adults and two children) to give away. They’re worth £58 each! (You could camp as well, for just a tenner).
These photos from last year’s event should whet your appetite.
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It’s about a month since I showed you the
disaster area work in progress downstairs in my house.
So what’s happened since then? Well the major change is that the supporting wall has come down between the kitchen and dining area (without the rest of the house collapsing, *air punch*), a huge metal beam has gone in its place, the old door to the kitchen has been blocked up and the wall that will separate off the living room has been built. It’s involved a lot of structural work and preparation.
To the untrained eye it may look like little progress, but my husband has been working himself to the bone and each day I’ve returned from my haven at work he’s looked like he’s spent 10 hours at the coalface – literally. Read More →
Wednesday was good news. Not great, but good, unexpectedly!
Thursday we were headed to Northumberland. Thursday was disbelief, relief, excitement, knowing a secret, feeling special, making plans.
But by Saturday, everything was black. It came sooner than we thought.
This is the cruel flip side of hope: the agony of hope dashed.
We were away camping for the weekend, in a rainy Kielder. We were there with my husband’s family to look at the sky, watch a meteor shower, but the clouds never broke cover.
Now it seemed right it was gloomy.
We hid from the world, until it was a bit more bearable.
He told me I’m beautiful, that he’s never loved me more, nor been more proud.
Sunday we get back home to find my mum and dad had pushed a small gift through our door: chocolate and a sign that reads “everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
And this is how we keep going.
A couple of weeks ago, I was asked to join the bloggers panel at Ask Her Friends. (Even better that my name was put forward by one of my favourite bloggers Lisa).
The idea is that, each month, AHF asks their bloggers to choose gift ideas on a particular theme. So May is my first month taking part, and I was asked to choose gifts that represent spring and summer to me.
The best bit about all of this is that, if you hop on over to AHF and vote for your favourite blogger selection (I’d like you to vote for mine, obvs!) you can win £50 to spend.
For me, spring and summer is about being outdoors cycling, camping, picnicking and getting closer to nature. So this is what I chose:
1. Pure Wool Picnic Rug by Riverside Lifestyle, 2. Big Sky Retreat at Hookhill Plantation in Devon from Canopy and Stars, 3. Leah Flores Cushion by Ohh Deer, 4. Silk Bracelet by Ella Georgia, 5. Ride My Bike Print by Old English Company.
As well as four gifts we had to choose one place we’d like to stay from Canopy and Stars, which collects unusual ‘glamping’ accommodation across the UK and Europe. As soon as I clicked through I was blown away and had an impossible choice choosing just one dream night away. Tree houses, yurts, converted buses, cabins in the middle of nowhere – they’re all here. Seriously, take a look.
Ask Her Friends is a gift site for women set up by Ben after he bought his girlfriend a worm farm, which may or may not have been the beginning of the end of their relationship. The site has an ‘idea map’ where you can answer a few questions and get ideas on what to buy. They also have advisers and bloggers (like me!) picking out their recommendations and suggestions.
Don’t forget to look at the rest of the panel’s picks and enter your vote to be in with a chance of winning £50 to spend.