Out & About

Places and things I love to visit.

Windermere Boutique Hotel | Review

I am a very lucky girl. I have a very lovely husband. The two things mixed together with my birthday saw us having a 2 night stay at the Windermere Boutique Hotel as a SURPRISE birthday present from M. I knew we were going away, but I didn’t know where and I was NOT disappointed.

The WBH is situated on a hill about half way between the small Lake District towns of Windermere and Bowness*, it’s a larger corner house converted into a hotel. We arrived on one of the hottest days of the year (so far) and we were even more pleased to receive an equally warm welcome. We we offered a glass of complimentary Prosecco (which, as non drinkers, we politely declined) but were then thrilled to be offered a selection of soft drinks and/or fruit juices, lovely. This is the kind of the thing I love about good hotels, you immediately feel “looked after” and you can almost just breathe that sigh of relaxation.

After a few minutes, we were taking up to our room and accompanied by a rather large fan, as without asking, they knew the room on a very hot day, would be very hot. Again, lovely. We stayed in Room 1 which is also known as the “Love Snug” and my first impression was definitely “Luxe”.

The room had a luxury feel as the bed was velvet, it has lots of tactile rugs and fabrics, along with a dressing table, separate eating area, SAUNA and of course a Spa Bath with TV. I mean – what more could we ask?

We couldn’t of course use the Sauna as it was just too hot, but we would love to go back in the Winter as this would be heaven. We did however, give the Spa bath a go (lush) and watching the TV in the bath was nothing short of frivolous. I LOVED it.

Throughout our 2 night stay, the staff were friendly, courteous, helpful and I really did feel like nothing was too much trouble. I even saw one of them take the  breakfast order of other guests :

  • “Orange Juice – LOADS”
  • “3 x poached eggs on a single slice of brown bread” (very specific that one)

And then my favourite “I don’t want a full breakfast, just..” then he named each individual cooked breakfast item they offered, except toast” but added “but with fried bread”. The lady taking the order politely and didn’t even flinch at the fact that Fried Bread wasn’t actually on the menu.

Overall, we loved our stay, our room, the staff and the food. What more could a boutique hotel offer – oh yes – 🆓🍫✅ DONE!

🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 Windermere Boutique Hotel – DEFINITELY coming back

G x

*about a 10 minute walk to Bowness downhill and about 15 minute walk to Windermere uphill

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I’ve been invited to a party at Buckingham Palace!

Nope this is not click bait. Yes, I HAVE been invited to a party at Buckingham Palace, in fact I have been invited to a Garden Party to celebrate HRH The Prince of Wales 70th Birthday. The party I am going to is on the 22nd May 2018 and is just 3 days after the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Yes, I KNOW.

I know what you are thinking, “How does one get invited to a Royal birthday party?”. Well as you might know by now, I work for The Prince’s Trust, which is a charity that was started by HRH in 1976. He is the president and often pops up at important functions and things. All the staff were told earlier this year that HRH was having a celebratory garden party as part of his birthday celebrations (his actual birthday is in November) and that the Trust had been allocated 200 invitations. Staff had nominate people, including any one of the 1,000 people that work for the trust, also including any of the hundreds of delivery partner staff and 1,000s of volunteers. Basically, I had no chance.

But, as it turns out, someone DID nominate me and a few of my colleagues and we all got an email about a month ago to invite us along. I. AM. THRILLED.

I have to be honest though, this isn’t my first Royal Garden Party, as I went to one in 2016 which celebrated The Prince’s Trust’s 40th Anniversary. It was an amazing day as I was surrounded by celebrities and my head was constantly on a swivel. Glorious.

What is going to be cool is that I am going down the day before and staying at the Hub at Covent Garden which is a Premier Inn and not very far from both London Euston Station and Buckingham Palace. It’s not exorbitantly expensive for London at £140 and it was a little pressie to myself after my PPI payout. 🙂

I am also really pleased as a little gang of us are going from the Team I was working with at the beginning of the year. They all work for The Trust and live and work all around the UK. They are the loveliest bunch of smashers you could ever meet and I am SO looking forward to seeing them all again. I feel so honoured to have been invited – twice in 2 years, what a lucky girl I am!

So I need an outfit (obviously) and a hat or fascinator. I think I can see a little shopping trip in my near future!!! Happy days.

G x

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An 80th Celebration & A Musical Surprise

So on Saturday we travelled to a little town just outside Wrexham in North Wales to celebrate the 80th birthday of on of our lovely family friends. She’s had a tough couple of years with one thing and another and so to turn up to find her enjoying a lovely party with an Afternoon Tea theme was a joy.

What was most unexpected was the surprise performance that her daughters had booked for her and I have to say I was blown away! They were called A Handbag of Harmonies:

They were led by the wonderful Matt Baker and after their heart exploding rendition of Shine by Take That (Swipe left on the above Insta to hear)… I was just blown away. They were incredible and if you are looking for something different for your next event, and you just want to smile for 20 minutes… then look no further. Loved every single minute!

G x

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Ok, last week, back to London

This week is going to be a big final week for me, as I go tripped the light fandango, back to London. Since October last year I have been working on a special project at work, a promotion actually with lots of responsibility and, if I am being honest, more money. However, the whole thing is coming to and end on Friday as my part in the project draws to a close.

So this week I am spending the day in Liverpool on Monday, then getting the train from Lime Street Station down to London, but I am actually, in the middle of everything, volunteering at another Prince’s Trust event called The Prince’s Trust Awards.


The awards have been running for a few years and was previously called Celebrate Success. It’s an awards ceremony that this year is being held at The London Palladium. It’s real fancy event, which is hosted by Ant & Dec, yes really, and it’s attended by The Prince’s Trust president, HRH The Prince of Wales. Like I said fancy.

This year though, I am doing something SOO exciting. as I am actually volunteering for The Prince’s Trust digital team and working the event. I have been a few times before as a guest, but I am really looking forward to being involved in the behind the scenes aspect. I have to say a huge sparkly thank you to lovely Jess A for the opportunity – what a cool thing to be offered.

I won’t be able to vlog on the day, but I am expecting it to be a fab day which really celebrates the amazing work the trust does and of course our amazing young people.

Speaking of which,  I am extra pleased as in my substantive role I looked after the Team Programme run in Chorley and I mentored the Team Leader to nominate a young man called Jack for our Breakthrough Award. He won the regional final in November in Liverpool and, would you believe it, he has only gone and own the national award. I am so pleased for him and I can’t wait to see him pick his award up and meet HRH!

So even after all that, I ‘ve a little more time in London then, by the end of the week, I will be done! How time flies. I’ve loved every minute of this secondment. Don’t get me wrong, it’s been hard being away from home  at times, but it’s been so interesting and I am now a fully fledged Travelodge/Premier Inn connoisseur.

I wonder what on earth will come next? I guess you will just have to watch this space. How exciting.

G x

 

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A trip to Rivington Pike | Days Out

I think we can all agree that January in the UK is basically horrible. So very often at this time of year, M and I take ourselves off to somewhere lovely for a day out. Last year it was Astley Park in Chorley and this year we decided to go Rivington Pike, which is here:

For us, this is about 30 miles/40 minutes from our house and as we had never been before, we weren’t sure where to park. So we pulled into a little cafe and found a space tucked in the corner of the car park. As it turns out, we were still about ¼ mile from the start of all the official walking paths, but we found a nice path to stroll along, which ran parallel to the Go-Ape trails, which are also located there. Good start.

At the end of the first path we reached the “bottom barn”, which also housed a very busy cafe, toilets and an information centre. We popped into the information centre and bought a map, but honestly the map buying was a gesture as a very lovely lady in the centre gave us excellent directions up to the pike. So we set off.

A little like Delamere Forest, there are a few trails that you can follow, which have way markers, denoted on striped posts.

Rivington Barn sign with red route marker

The red route we followed was supposed to be about 3 miles, we followed the markers and ended up walking a little over 4 miles. The route is also described as “challenging” and I would have to agree with that; some uphill, some flat, lots of steps and quite a lot of the paths were very rocky under foot.

There were SO many people on the paths too, even on a damp and cold Sunday in February, it was VERY busy! Also, sidenote, today it was also muddy underfoot as it was raining quite hard for most of yesterday, so it befuddled me why we saw so many people in pristine white trainers, pink boots and most worrying of all, UGG boots?!  All the aforementioned footwear slowly getting ruined with every step.

Anyway, it took us about 1 ½ hours to get to the top and it was worth the hike. Stunning views at the top overlooking Bolton, Wigan and the surrounding areas. Again though, not much solitude at the top as it was very very busy, but we enjoyed it nonetheless.

As a day out, I would give is 9/10 as it really was a lovely walk and we are sure that we barely scratched the surface on our first visit. The only reason it loses a point was the parking. As I mentioned, due to our lack of local knowledge, we parked about a 10 minute walk away from all the main car parks. But it was obvious that even though there is quite a lot of parking, it’s nowhere near enough as everywhere was jammed and we witnessed one particular traffic jam on the narrow roads, all caused by double parking.

My TOP TIP would be go early, to avoid the crazy parking situation, but honestly, well worth a visit!

We will be back.

G x

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Premier Suites Newcastle | Review

As part of my current job, I have been staying in a variety of budget hotels around the UK. But one of the drawbacks of staying in a hotel, is going out for dinner alone, which is not something I always feel like doing. Inevitably, I end up having a “bed picnic”, which sometimes means I can go a whole trip without a hot meal. Not ideal. So when a last minute trip to Newcastle landed at my door last week, I decided to stay at Premier Suites instead. As I booked the 1 bedroom apartment via our work travel agent, it cost around £55 per night and I booked for 2 nights.

I arrived at about 5:30pm and the suites are about a 7 minute walk from Newcastle Central Station here:

The first thing I noticed is that the street it’s on isn’t particularly well lit and with just a single door entrance, it was a little hard to spot in the dark. But once inside, the receptionist gave me a really warm welcome and with a simple check in, she  gave me the key to my home for the next few days.

The apartment I booked was only a 1 bedroom, but they actually gave me the keys  to a 2 bedroom one. However, there was a note on the bed of the 2nd bedroom to say that if I used it, they would charge me an extra £35 a night. Message received, door shut. Room ignored.

I’d have to say that the apartment had it’s good points and bad points.

Good Points
  • Good size lounge with large couch in living room.
  • A small tray of essentials, i.e. tea & coffee.
  • A large fridge.
  • Very comfortable bed.
  • Free Wifi.
  • Central location.
  • 5 minute walk from The Prince’s Trust In Newcastle (where I was working)
Bad Points
  • Whilst the couch was large, there were…… stains…. which I tried to ignore.
  • Both the kitchen and bathroom looked good from afar but close up they both showed signs of age with the bathroom in particular showing wear and tear.

When I put my key in the door, the apartment was cold and dark as bizarrely for January, all the radiators were turned off and the windows were all open! I was already cold due to a frozzy train journey and damp walk from the station, so a cold apartment was not a good start. I turned all the radiators on and closed all the windows and things did warm up, however, I didn’t realise until the following day, that I missed one of the open kitchen windows, which fully explained my slight chill before bedtime!

But it was great to stay in an apartment as I was able to cook for myself both nights and eat breakfast in my PJs in before I left for work. This is a great upside to hotel stays as I am not sure PJs in a communal breakfast situation is really acceptable!

Overall though, the apartment was very reasonably priced at around £55 a night and was clean and tidy. I would give it 3/5 stars 🌟🌟🌟 as it was value for money, but it lacked a bit of something special.

However, if you are looking for an alternative to a hotel in Newcastle, then why not give Premier Suites a look! I reckon this would be nice, flexible way to see the city on a budget.

G x

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Best and Worst of 2017

So Christmas is over, hope you had a good one, mine was pretty good as it goes 😄 It’s funny though, as the end of the year approaches, it’s my tendency to get quite reflective and as such, I thought I would put together a Top 3 list of all the things I have loved, but also the big misses of 2017 to me. I mean, who doesn’t love a good list?! Here we go:

Top 3 – Highlights of 2017

  1. Getting to the top of Dodd Wood/Fell in September. I have been on something of a fitness journey this year and when I tried to do a much less strenuous walk in May, I nearly cried as I couldn’t do it. This time around, despite it being really hard, I did manage the walk! Thrilled.
  2. Starting my secondment at work and spending 5 weeks working in London. I am very much a home bird and so to be away so much was an adjustment, especially being in such a busy city, which is definitely not my cup of tea.
  3. I started my weightloss and fitness journey in May this year and to date I have lost 2 ½ stones (35 lbs/15.9 kg). I have struggled to keep a healthy weight most of my adult life, but I love the fact my weight has started to come down.

Top 3 – Telly Finds of 2017

  1. Fleabag – I stumbled upon this BBC series whilst working from home one day and ended up binge watching it in an afternoon. It’s a tragi-comedy featuring Phoebe Waller-Bridge and it was just fab. Strong female comedy, so good that I watched it all for a 2nd time whilst we were away in Harrogate. Highly recommend.
  2. That Day we Sang – It’s no surprise to hear I am a Northern girl and so was in love that anything Victoria Wood created. I was so sad when she passed away in 2016 and so I was beyond chuffed when I discovered this comedy/drama about a Manchester choir, written and directed by the glorious VW.
  3. Little Boy Blue – This ITV drama about the real life shooting of Rhys Jones. It was utterly compelling and brilliantly acted. M and I were hooked from the first 5 minutes. It was made all the more poignant as we both remember this happening and it was only about 15 miles away from where we live.

Top 3 – Rubbish things in 2017

  1. Donald Trump became President of the United States. After almost a year in office, I have yet to see him do a single useful thing. He is crass and uses Twitter like a teenager,  complaining about what people are saying about him on the TV. The least presidential President the USA has ever seen.  What a tool.
  2. Sorry I can’t think of a 2nd and 3rd, No 1 is bad enough.

Top 3 – Gorgeous Restaurants I’ve visited in 2017 

  1. Vigour Kitchen is a place we discovered in 2017 in our local town of St Helens. St Helens itself is quite neglected and so to have a fab new place to eat is brilliant. It’s serves nutritious and gorgeous food with a focus on healthy eating. We can’t get enough.
  2. Armathwaite Hall is where M and I went on Honeymoon and we were lucky enough to visit and stay again this year. They do simply the BEST afternoon teas and my mouth is watering just thinking about it.
  3. Ok so this last one is a cheat, as is wasn’t a restaurant, but someone that does outside catering. We visited the Lake District in May to celebrate a family birthday and as part of the celebrations, we organised for an outside caterer to come and do us a meal. The caterer was Laura in the Lakes who also have a cafe in Keswick. The meal Laura made for us was delicious and she also coped brilliantly with my Lactose Intolerance by making me a scrummy lemon and blueberry cake! Yummy

Top 3 – Instagrammers for 2017 

  1. The incomparable Susie Verrill. She makes me smile or laugh or just gasp with delight on daily basis. So funny, so irreverent and all the whilst coping with being a new mum and the also delightful Greg Rutherford.
  2. The unbelievably funny Anna Whitehouse, aka Mother Pukka. She has been through some tough times this year, but is honestly one the funniest person to ever Insta Story.
  3. You might be able to spot a theme in this category, but number 3 is another funny woman in Celeste Barber. She is the pioneer for #challengeaccepted in which she copies the narcissistic posts that top social media and Hollywood people post in an hilarious fashion.

I am sure there are a million categories that I could add to this list and maybe I will as I think of them. I’ve had quite a good year overall and I feel quite happy going into 2018.  Someone asked me what my hopes were for the New Year and this is what I came up with:

  • Continue with my weight loss journey and get even more healthy in 2018
  • Kick start my YouTube Channel and start getting creative again
  • Visit Barcelona in September (already booked!!!)
  • Do a Couch to 5k programme
  • Make some landscape changes in the garden
  • Get a dog!!

The most important one of my hopes is the last one. My whole blogging story started in 2009 when I started a blog documenting our beloved Peggy Dog. We lost her in 2013 and 2018 is the year we adopt another furry friend into our home. I can’t wait, although I really will have to, until my secondment at work is over and I am home a little more.

Anyway, this year has been the right side of FAB and may it continue in 2018.

Thanks for all your support in 2017 and see you very soon.

G x

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It’s so good to be home…

Oh yes, it’s so good to be home! I have been away for 21 days out of the last 42, with my last week away this year being in Leicester. This time I stayed at the IBIS in Leicester, but I wasn’t that impressed and I won’t be back. It was one of those hotels, where nothing MAJOR went wrong, but lots of little things did which meant I didn’t particularly love it. Namely….

  • The batteries went on my TV remote control and I had to get out of bed, get dressed and go down to reception as I couldn’t turn the TV off.
  • I am pretty sure the housekeeping team broke my vanity mirror.
  • During breakfast I couldnt make the drinks machine work because the drip tray was full, which took far too long to figure out.
  • During another breakfast there were no plates and I had to chase staff down to replace them.
  • The sheets were scratchy.
  • The loo in my bathroom didn’t flush properly and when reported, the hotel didn’t do anything about it.
  • The pillows were hard.
  • The toilet door didn’t close properly, or at all.

One morning, whilst eating my toast in the hotel bar/cafe, I saw a prostitute come out of the lift. “How do you know it was a prostitute?” you ask. Well it might not have been, but I don’t know how many women sport thigh high boots and pigtails at 7am.

Also, I went out for dinner on my own on my first night there, and on arrival at Nandos, I found it had inexplicably closed 3 hours early! So I had to walk a little further into Leicester to find something to eat. On that walk I became a little uneasy and as someone that isn’t easily spooked walking on my own, I wasn’t happy. The town had a very odd vibe and to be honest, even though it was 6:45pm, it felt more like 2:00am. Needless to say, after that I didn’t bother and just ate at the hotel.

I did like the decor of the hotel, it was sort of Ikea meets Japanese pod. Also randomly, there was an android phone in my room to use.  I didn’t use it. The ONLY good thing about the hotel was the super-fast internet, which meant I could FaceTime M and it worked perfectly.

Ibis 3/10 🌟🌟🌟 – I won’t be back.

G x

 

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