Category Archives: Travel

UK Travel, Penzance | Tremenheere Sculpture Park

UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park

This post is part of a travel series on Miranda’s Notebook detailing my holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. Throughout the week, I’ll be sharing all about where we stayed and what we did, as well as restaurant recommendations and a general guide to the area, so do keep checking back for updates!

A wood carpeted with bluebells has to be on of the most beautiful sights on earth. Tremenheere Sculpture Park, with its intriguing mix of exotic plants and imposing sculptures by renowned artists such as David Nash, would be beautiful at any time of year, but in the spring it is truly extraordinary. I took in deep lungfuls of bluebell-scented air as I wandered along the quiet paths, listening to the gentle swish of leaves in the breeze.

We weren’t sure what to expect from the sculpture park, and, on our first proper day in Cornwall, had toyed with the idea of taking a taxi to Mousehole instead. As the weather was  bright and sunny though, I decided it would be a good opportunity to devote the day to exploring the outdoors: we’d spend the morning at Tremenheere and then get another cab to travel the short distance to St Michael’s Mount. I’m so happy we didn’t miss out on seeing the sculpture garden, as it turned out to be one of the (many!) highlights of our trip.

UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture ParkUK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Bluebells at Tremenheere Sculpture Park

Isn’t it beautiful? I could have wandered for hours, and we did in fact spend a good deal of the morning there, as by the time we’d finished our walk, it was time for lunch. Happily, Tremenheere has an excellent cafe with an appetising lunch menu. The cafe is next to the gift shop (full of beautiful ceramics, and they also sell some flowers), and we settled down to a lunch of freshly caught hake (excellent) and elderflower and prosecco cocktails.

UK Travel, Penzance | Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Tremenheere Sculpture Park UK Travel, Penzance | Tremenheere Sculpture Park

If you’re ever in the area, then I would recommend paying the park a visit and enjoying the calm, restorative atmosphere yourself. It’s worth tying in your visit with a trip to St Michael’s Mount (I’ll be sharing more about this amazing castle on a tiny island in an upcoming post), as they’re so close to each other (you get excellent views of the castle from the sculpture park, in fact).

+++ Adult tickets to Tremenheere Sculpture Park cost £8, and the opening hours are 10am-5pm daily. +++

P.S. A few people on instagram asked where my dress is from – it’s another favourite of mine from TOAST.

Note: our tickets to Tremenheere Sculpture Park were complimentary, but all opinions expressed are my own. 

UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B

UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B

This post is part of a travel series on Miranda’s Notebook detailing my holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. Throughout the week, I’ll be sharing all about where we stayed and what we did, as well as restaurant recommendations and a general guide to the area, so do keep checking back for updates!

We were lucky enough to stay in a couple fabulous hotels whilst in Penzance, both of which had a very different character.  Where you choose to stay can make or break a holiday; I’ll never forget a visit to Vienna when the hotel’s air conditioning broke, so the room was stifling and I barely slept. By the end of the trip I was so sleep deprived I was wandering around the city like a zombie. Comfort is key to enjoyment!

Chy-An-Mor B&B

UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B

Our first night was scheduled to be spent at Chy-An-Mor, a charming B&B overlooking the sea. After our brunch at The Front Room and some time spent exploring more of Penzance, we walked along the coastal path for about 10 minutes, admiring the view, before arriving at Chy-An-Mor.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&BThe view from the path.

As soon as we arrived at Chy-An-Mor, we were warmly greeted by the owners, Richard and Louise, and shown to our room, which was conveniently located on the ground floor and had a lovely window seat overlooking the front garden and the coast.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&BUK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B

Chy-An-Mor is a four storey Regency home with 9 rooms available to book. We couldn’t be more delighted with our room, which was spacious and immaculate, as well as having a soothing, calm atmosphere and beautiful decor. Richard told me that his wife, Louise, worked for many years for Laura Ashley and has a long-held passion for interior design. Her terrific eye for detail and love for Laura Ashley florals are reflected throughout the B&B.

A Tour

As you know, I always like to get a tour of a hotel whenever possible, and Richard was kind enough to show me around. Here’s a glimpse of some of the other rooms, as well as the communal lounge.

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For a B&B especially, all the rooms are remarkably spacious, although it’s useful to know that there is a range offered, from single bedrooms to twin rooms and large double bedrooms with bigger bathrooms as well. Aren’t they all charming? I loved the thoughtful details, like the bedside clocks that matched the colour of each room and the beautiful vintage teacups that were provided, alongside a good selection of tea, coffee, shortbread biscuits and Cornish Clotted Cream Fudge (delicious!).

You can see the pride and love Louise and Richard have for their home by how much they put of themselves into the decoration: Richard told me he wallpapered all the walls himself, and Louise made the beautiful curtains in our bedroom, as well as some of the pretty bunting I admired.

Afternoon Tea

After my tour, Louise asked us if we’d like to have tea and cake in the garden. Of course, we said yes please!

UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B

By this time, the skies had clouded over, but Louise had thoughtfully provided cosy blankets, and as tea was laid in a little walled courtyard, we were well protected from the sea breeze and could enjoy the fresh air without getting cold.

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed that tea! It was simple, but delicious and so tastefully presented. The beautiful silver tea set and china cups added more than a touch of elegance to our tea, and the coconut and cherry muffins were wonderful. Louise told me she loves to bake and whips up a freshly made batch of cakes for her guests every afternoon. It became clearer and clearer to me why the majority of Chy-An-Mor guests are return customers who have been staying at the B&B year after year!

UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B

Louise and Richard were so friendly and gave us lots of great tips on the local area. I told Louise how much I admired her teacup collection, and she recommended a shop in Penzance specialising in vintage china. I’ll be sharing the shop in my upcoming guide to Penzance, so stay tuned!

Freshly Cooked Breakfast

UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B

After a terrific night’s sleep (the bed was very, very comfy – in fact, I was inspired to get new pillows on my return to London, as my neck injury bothered me so much less at night whilst I was in Cornwall!), Mum and I trotted downstairs for breakfast in the dining room. We’d chosen our breakfast the day before, so it was ready for us very soon after we appeared.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B

I had avocado on toast with perfectly poached eggs, and Mum went for pancakes. Both were exceedingly good – Richard makes an excellent breakfast! Louise had baked even more delights: fruit Danishes and raspberry and white chocolate muffins. I tried one of the muffins, and it was just as delicious as I’d come to expect. A few of the guests asked if they could possibly take one for their journeys that day, and I didn’t blame them!

UK Travel, Penzance | Chy-An-Mor B&B

I really can’t recommend Chy-An-Mor enough. This is the perfect B&B to choose if you fancy a few days exploring Cornwall. The rooms are beautiful and comfy, Richard and Louise are so kind and helpful, and the location is excellent. There’s a spacious carpark if you’re driving, and the B&B is close to the sea as well as the lovely independent shops on Chapel Street. The rooms are also an excellent price, starting from £85 for a non-sea view and from £91 for a sea view.

I’ll be sharing more of my Cornish adventures very soon, so be sure to check back!

 Do you like the look of Chy-An-Mor? Which room do you think is especially pretty?

Note: our stay at Chy-An-Mor was complimentary, but all opinions expressed are my own.

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

This post is the first in a travel series on Miranda’s Notebook detailing my holiday in Penzance, Cornwall. Over the next week, I’ll be sharing all about where we stayed and what we did, as well as restaurant recommendations and a general guide to the area, so do keep checking back for updates!

First Class Tickets to Penzance

I never would have thought that a train journey could feel like a holiday, but then I’d never travelled First Class by Great Western Railways before. I was so excited to be headed to Cornwall with my Mum, who happily had some annual leave and so was able to accept my invitation to travel down with me. It had been a while since we’d had a proper trip out of London just the two of us, and as soon as we wheeled our luggage into Great Western Railway’s first class lounge at Paddington Station, I knew that this would be a holiday neither of us would forget.

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

After a 5am start (we were keen to arrive in Penzance in time for lunch), I wasn’t feeling at my brightest, but after helping myself to the complimentary pastries, fruit and tea on offer in the waiting lounge and sinking into a comfy leather armchair, I began to perk up. This, I reflected, was a rather splendid contrast to my typical dash for the train, preceded by a coffee-to-go from Starbucks.

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

The train journey felt just as luxurious, and proved the absolute ideal situation for me to work. If only I could write all blog posts in a comfy chair, with room to spread out my papers all around me, beautiful scenery flying past, and a trolley wheeled by every 45 minutes or so, dispensing free tea, coffee and delicious fruit cake (there were other nice snacks, but I was particularly fond of the fruit cake). I’m sure I’d never procrastinate again! I certainly flew through the work I had to get done, and by the time the train entered Cornwall, I was able to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

It felt like no time at all before we were pulling into Penzance, and (despite the fruit cake), I was looking forward to the first stop on our agenda: brunch at The Front Room.

The Front Room

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

The Front Room is a charming cafe a mere 3 minute walk from Penzance train station, so a great place to know about if you’re hungry on arrival! It gets very busy over the lunch hour, but fortunately there are lots of nooks and crannies, as well as a pretty little garden, offering plenty of seating.

Katie, one of the owners, gave us a warm welcome when we arrived and was a fabulous source of knowledge on places to explore in Penzance, filling me in on which bookshops, independent shops and pubs she thought I’d enjoy in the area. I scribbled down all her suggestions, and we managed to make it to all of them in the time we were there!

Eating at The Front Room feels like you’re having tea or lunch in someone’s home, as the service is so friendly and the decor so cosy. It’s a very inviting space for children too  – there’s even a playpen tucked under the stairs, full of toys for your toddlers to enjoy as you eat your lunch in peace! Let me take you on a tour:

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For brunch, Mum opted for the Full Cornish Veggie (toast, eggs, beans, avocado, veggie sausages, mushrooms, tomatoes and hashbrowns), and I went for the traditional Full Cornish (sausage, bacon, black pudding, eggs, beans, toast, hashbrowns, tomatoes and mushrooms). I do think the sausages in Cornwall taste particularly good! Mum had coffee, and I – predictably – ordered a pot of tea (I must be 80% tea).

UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room UK Travel, Penzance | Brunch at The Front Room

We both thoroughly enjoyed our brunch, which was all cooked to perfection and was just what we needed to set us up for an afternoon exploring Penzance. I rather regretfully decided I was too full to try one of the delicious looking cakes placed invitingly in the window and contented myself with pouring some more tea. Mum is the coffee expert (I rarely drink it), and she said her cup was wonderful. Katie told us all the coffee she uses is by Origin, which is renowned for its exceptional brews.

I’d discovered that EE phone network coverage doesn’t operate in Penzance (apparently you have to be on O2), but happily the Front Room had free wi-fi, so I was able to look up how to get to our B&B.

I’ll be sharing the details of our charming B&B overlooking the sea tomorrow, so stay tuned!

Have you ever travelled first class by train before? Did you enjoy it? Are you as partial to a Full English (or full Cornish!) as I am?!

Great Western Railway First Class journeys from Padding to Penzance start from as little as £56. See more details and book tickets here (make sure to book ahead to get the best deals!). 

The Front Room serves wholesome breakfast, brunch, light lunch dishes, cake and cream teas Monday-Saturday 8am-5pm and Sunday 10am-2pm.

Note: our train tickets and brunch at The Front Room were complimentary, but – as always – the opinions expressed on my blog are my own.

UK Travel | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 2)

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

I have been having so much fun travelling around the UK lately. I’ve just returned from a few days in Penzance, Cornwall, but before I get started on those travel posts, I wanted to share my final day in York with you. We had a brilliant time, and I discovered some fantastic places that I wanted to tell you about.

York Museum Gardens

We started the morning walking up from the station, admiring the gorgeous blossom and daffodils along the way, to the York Museum Gardens, which are set in the surroundings of the picturesque ruins of St. Mary’s Abbey. It was a superb park to visit in the spring, where blossom peeked through the ruined archways. It was so warm that I didn’t need a coat or scarf and could just enjoy my floaty blue dress (another wonderful gift from TOAST, which has already become one of my travel staples, as it’s so comfy and doesn’t crease!).

To my delight, there was a birds of prey show on in the gardens, where you could pay a few pounds to hold any of their birds. I felt a little intimidated by the goshawks (despite being rather fascinated by them ever since reading H is for Hawk), so I picked a snowy little owl that reminded me of Harry Potter’s Hedwig. She was a delight to hold, and I even got to stroke her incredibly soft feathers.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

York Minster

After enjoying our time in the park, we ambled our way towards York Minster and had a thorough rummage through the interesting shops (especially the secondhand bookshop!) and stalls that are clustered near the Minster. The main branch of Bettys  – my favourite Yorkshire tea shop and well worth a visit if you’ve never been – is also very close to York Minster, so we took the opportunity to pick up a few goodies for the train journey back to London.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's NotebookUK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

York’s Independent Shops and Cafes

By this point, it was definitely time for some lunch, so we wound our way to Fossgate / Walmgate, which are parts of a lovely stretch of road (divided by a pretty little bridge) full of interesting independent shops, bars and restaurants. Unfortunately, being Sunday (remember my point about opening hours outside London?!), most places were closed, but whenever I’m next in York, I’m definitely stopping by The Hairy Fig, a fantastic looking deli, and Paper Pod, which looked like it had beautiful stationery supplies.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

We did pop into Spring, which was happily open and is reported to have the best coffee in York. My Mum loves her coffee, and she pronounced her cup delicious!

A Fantastic Wine Bar

Feeling in the mood for something more substantial than a hot drink, though, we continued down the street until we stumbled on a charming little wine bar, Cave du Cochon, which had a very tempting sounding BBQ and glass of wine deal on for lunch. It doesn’t take much to persuade me into a wine bar, and the delicious aroma of a smoky barbecue wafting into the street, coupled with the promise of a cool, crisp glass of wine, had me bounding through the door.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

As it was such a nice day, we took advantage of the bar’s pretty outside terrace, which we had almost to ourselves. Cave du Cochon has a sister restaurant, Le Cochon Aveugle, which is said to serve delicious French food (another place on my list for when I return!), and this means that great attention to detail and pride in serving delicious food has spilt over to Cave du Cochon, which served up some of the best BBQ I’ve ever had. A perfectly toasted bun was covered in BBQ-ed beef, with toppings of pickled carrots and cucumber and a dollop of well-seasoned crème fraîche.

The wine was excellent too; we were guided by the hugely informative and helpful barman to choose a lovely French white, and he also gave us a little lesson on natural, organic and biodynamic wines, letting us taste a couple, which was fascinating. We enjoyed ourselves so much that we contemplated lingering in the sun over a second glass, but I wanted to explore a little more, so we headed out to take a walk along the city walls instead.

Fantastic Views and Terrific Brownies

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

The ancient walls are incredibly narrow, so progress is a little slow, as you repeatedly stand aside to let people pass, but that means there’s all the more time to admire the gorgeous view of the city spread out before you. I especially enjoyed getting a glimpse of York Minster towering above the rooftops.

After our walk, we realised we had about an hour to spare before catching our train, so we decided to have a cup of tea and one of the famous brownies from Brew and Brownie.

UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook UK Travel | York Travel Guide Part 2 via Miranda's Notebook

We both went for the triple chocolate brownie, which was just as good as it sounds, and set us up nicely for the journey home!

Have you been to any of the places in York that I enjoyed? Are you planning a trip to the city soon?

P.S. Read my other posts about our York holiday here and here.

T&T 25 | Lindsey Tramuta and The New Paris

Tea and Tattle Podcast Interview | Lindsey Tramuta and The New Paris

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle Podcast episode here or on iTunes.

This Tuesday, the lovely Lindsey Tramuta joins me on the podcast for a chat about her book, The New Paris, which was published just last week. Lindsey moved from Philadelphia to Paris a decade ago, and in today’s episode she shares with me the challenges she faced when first living in France, as well as how she came to set up her fabulous blog, Lost in Cheeseland, and start her career in journalism.

I’ve been a fan of Lindsey’s blog, where she shares beautiful photos of Paris and writes thoughtfully about the city’s culture, for a number of years. I was delighted when Lindsey announced she was writing a book, and now I’ve received my copy of The New Paris, I’m so enjoying reading every page of this beautiful celebration of one of my favourite cities.

In The New Paris, Lindsey writes about the changes she has observed in Paris over the past decade that are transforming the city’s creative, food and beverage industries. Lindsey reflects more about these changes on the podcast, as well as the rising ‘creative class’ of Parisians turning passion projects into careers.

We also chat about Lindsey’s research process, her book recommendations for people wanting to know more about the city, and the neighbourhoods Lindsey is particularly enjoying exploring at the moment. Lindsey also reads aloud an excerpt from her book, all about patisserie, which had me craving Pierre Hermé macarons instantly (thank goodness there’s a branch in London!).

Listen for a fascinating insight into the changes Paris has experienced in the creative and food industries over the past decade. 

What did you enjoy most about this episode? Are you a fan of Lindsey’s blog, and have you picked up a copy of The New Paris yet?

P.S. Sign up to receive weekly instalments of Tea & Tattle podcast.

Mark Hearld’s The Lumber Room, York Art Gallery

I mentioned in yesterday’s post how much I loved The Lumber Room exhibition at York Art Gallery. The exhibition is curated by one of my favourite artists, Mark Hearld, who lives in York with another favourite artist of mine, Emily Sutton. The Lumber Room was inspired by a short story Mark read by Saki when he was a teenager (you can read the story here, and I highly encourage you to do so; it’s a quick, but delightful, read).

“Since I heard Saki’s story I have always been intrigued by the idea of a locked room that contained treasures so wonderful they are beyond what your mind can imagine. In this exhibition I wanted to create the sense of excitement and wonder that you get when you discover the key to the room and see the “forbidden” objects for the first time.”  – Mark Hearld

Stepping into Mark Hearld’s exhibition is indeed like finding a wondrous room stuffed to the brim with intriguing and whimsical objects. The Lumber Room is filled with a wide range of artefacts: toys, ceramics, paintings, clothes and so much more, which perfectly capture the spirit of adventure and curiosity that permeate childhood. Everywhere you look something curious or beautiful catches your eye, encouraging you to stop and linger over every display. I took a childlike like pleasure in the vintage ice-cream stand, the old gloves and uniform jackets that made me want to play dress-up, and the wonderful lineup of rocking horses that were hard to resist stroking.

Mark apparently spent two years researching the objects and artwork included in the exhibition, and I thought his curation impeccable, offering a superb mix of the beautiful and the bizarre. This would be a fantastic exhibition for parents or teachers to take children, as it would be a brilliant stimulus for art and writing projects.

I’m a huge fan of Mark’s artwork, so I particularly enjoyed getting to see so many of his original paintings and ceramics as part of the exhibition, as well as many of the objects, colours, and styles that inspire his work. I’ve been to one of his and Emily’s studio tours in the past, which was also treasure trove of ceramics and paintings, and I remembered seeing some of his ceramic horses then too. Aren’t they exquisite?

After spending quite a bit of time in The Lumber Room, we made our way round the rest of York Art Gallery. I was so impressed by the large, comfy sofas and big desks throughout its rooms that visitors are allowed to use (the gallery does a great job at being interactive, which makes it an enjoyable place for children too).

As one entrance ticket allows you access to all exhibitions for the day, we also saw the current Albert Moore exhibition (on until October 2017). I thought it worth the cost of entrance fee just to see the glorious Midsummer painting. The incredible orange and green used in the picture can only be truly appreciated when seen in person, where the painting glows like a jewel amongst all the other works.

Midsummer, Albert Moore. Image via here.

It’s definitely worth taking time to explore York Art Gallery properly. There is a viewing balcony, from which you can look out over the gardens and surrounding buildings. We didn’t have time to pop into the cafe, but it’s run by the same people behind No.8 Bistro, where we enjoyed a fabulous brunch, so I’m sure it would be very good should you fancy a bite to eat or cup of tea.

The Lumber exhibition runs until 7th May, 2017; the Albert Moore exhibition is open until 1st October, 2017. At the time of writing, a standard adult entrance ticket to the Gallery is £6.81, and children under 16 go free with a paying adult. York Art Gallery is open everyday from 10am-5pm.

Are you a fan of Mark Hearld’s artwork too? Have you ever been to York Art Gallery?

P.S. – Look out for my York Travel Guide (Part 2), publishing in the next few days. You can read Part 1 here

UK Travel | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)Travel Style: I’m wearing  trousers (TOAST); jumper (TOAST c/o); striped t-shirt (Laura Ashley c/o – similar here); scarf (TOAST c/o); shoes (TOAST)

I’m increasingly interested in exploring more of the UK, and in particular identifying great destinations that are within easy distance from London. A few weekends ago, Mum and I travelled to York to celebrate my Mum’s best friend’s 60th birthday. Although the celebrations took place in a hotel in a peaceful little village a half hour drive from York, we still managed to spend some time wandering the city on both Saturday and Sunday. The last time I visited York was a few years ago, so it was a real pleasure to be back exploring the beautiful, ancient city.

Our journey from London to York was under 2 hours, so it’s perfectly possible to visit York as a day-trip (or weekend stay) from London. We’d booked an early train from King’s Cross, so we pulled into York station at about 8.30am, feeling a little peckish and on the hunt for a good breakfast spot.

Exploring The Shambles

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

I’d had a suggestion on Instagram that The Flax & Twine cafe would be a good choice for breakfast and a lovely view across The Shambles, an historic (and very picturesque) street in the centre of York that is home to various shops and cafes.

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

Alas, I realised my Londoner’s mindset had entirely overlooked the fact that not everywhere would be open before 9am on a Saturday. The Flax & Twine, and all the other little teashops nearby, were closed until 10am. Still, we took the opportunity to explore the surrounding streets before the masses of tourists arrived (it’s definitely worth arriving early if you’d like some relatively people-free shots of this popular part of the city). Every little alleyway seems to lead somewhere interesting in York, whether to a beautiful timbered building, or an inviting bakery, and there’s also a market at The Shambles (open from 7am everyday) which is fun to explore. I thought of a friend back in London and picked up some Yorkshire fudge for him to enjoy.

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

After our walk, my growling stomach was getting harder to ignore, and a little research on my phone told me that No. 8 Bistro was a short walk away and served a highly acclaimed brunch menu.

A Wonderful Breakfast

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

I’ll have to go back to Flax and Twine next time I’m in York, but I’m very glad that on this visit I discovered No. 8 Bistro, as it was the ideal spot to enjoy a tasty brunch on a sunny spring day. The Bistro has a very pretty garden, which is overlooked by the City of York Walls, and was a haven of sunshine, peace and good food. We had the garden almost entirely to ourselves (it seems the city doesn’t really wake up until about 11am on the weekend), and it was a lovely place to relax over a cup of tea before tucking into our Full English breakfasts.

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

We had the full works: eggs, sausage, bacon, fried tomato and mushroom, hash-browns and black pudding, with toast alongside and copious amounts of tea. It was absolutely delicious, and I’d be happy for a visit to York to always start out with breakfast at No.8 first.

York Art Gallery

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

I was very keen to get to York Art Gallery to see The Lumber Room exhibition (ends 7th May 2017) curated by one of my favourite York-based illustrators, Mark Hearld. I’d been on a tour of Mark and Emily’s home and studio when I was last in York, so I was very pleased that this time I was able to catch his exhibition. It was marvellous, so much so that I want to dedicate an entire post to my time at the York Art Gallery alone, so look out for that very soon!

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

After seeing the Gallery’s main exhibitions, we had a little wander around the pretty courtyard next to it, before heading back to the train station (only a 10 minute walk away) to catch a bus to Boroughbridge and celebrate with the birthday girl for the rest of the day.

Some Practical Tips

UK Destinations | Adventures in York Travel Guide (Part 1)

// Pack sensibly. It’s colder up North! I didn’t bring a coat with me, but I was very glad to have layered  a t-shirt, jumper and chunky scarf (I was lucky to be sent the latter items from TOAST, who noticed my love of their clothes from this post). Even though the sun was shining brightly, it was definitely chilly in the shadows.

// If you have extra bags with you, leave them at York Train Station so you don’t have to lug them around with you all day. It cost £7 per bag for the day (but prices may change or vary).

// Check opening times in advance! I’ve been caught out a few times now by having too much of a London mentality. The rest of the UK generally has much shorter opening hours and shops are often closed on Sundays, so be sure to plan ahead.

// If you don’t have a car, it can feel daunting to get out into the countryside. I was impressed by the bus system from York though, which is a tiny fraction of the cost of a taxi, and there are buses to pretty villages in the surrounding countryside, as well as to places of interest like the awe-inspiring Castle Howard. Be warned again though: for the most part, buses run on Saturdays, but often not Sundays! Check York bus times online, or pick up a timetable from the tourist information centre at York Train Station.

Stay tuned for my upcoming York posts, covering the fantastic York Art Gallery and how we spent Sunday in the city.

Have you been to York? What did you enjoy about your visit? Like me, are you keen to explore more of the UK?

P.S. For further inspiration about easy day trips from London, see my posts about Rye (here and here), Hastings, Bath, East Sussex (here and here) and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens.

P.P.S. Read about my Yorkshire adventures from a previous trip here.

A Perfect Getaway: The Gallivant, Rye

The Gallivant Hotel, Rye

arriving in Rye – Mapp & Lucia – we explore the town – lunch in front of a roaring fire – arriving at The Gallivant – we’re greeted in style – a walk on the beach – I feel thoroughly pampered – hotel dining – a breakfast table of my dreams – touring the hotel – steak & chips

If you fancy a mini-break from London, then look no further than a couple days spent at The Gallivant in Rye, which offers a wonderful mix of beautiful rooms, delicious food, pampering treatments, coastal walks and an incredibly picturesque town to explore….

Tickets to Rye

Rye, East Sussex

Last week, I packed a small bag and met a friend at St Pancras Station to travel down to East Sussex together, ready for a short break from London and to enjoy the delights of Rye and our hotel, The Gallivant.

I’ve been to Rye before and instantly fell head over heels for this charming coastal town, with its twisting, cobbled streets lined with beautiful ancient buildings (many of which date from the 15th Century), tea-shops galore and stunningly beautiful beach.

Although he had spent several of his childhood summers in Sussex, my friend had never been to Rye before, so I was keen to introduce him to some of the town’s highlights, as well as some of its many literary connections. The train ride from London to Rye is an easy journey of roughly 1 hr and 20 minutes, so we felt we’d barely finished our cups of tea before we were pulling into the pretty station. Happily for us, the sun was shining, and as we’d aimed to arrive in Rye for about 11am, we had a little bit of time to explore and eat a light lunch before calling a taxi to take us to The Gallivant in Camber (a 10 minute drive from Rye).

Mapp & Lucia

Rye, East SussexRye, East Sussex Rye, East Sussex Rye, East Sussex

A 1-2 hour walk is plenty of time to see Rye’s main attractions, and even my appalling sense of direction can handle its small town centre, so I led my friend up the path from the station to St Mary’s Church, filling him in on details of E. F. Benson’s Mapp & Lucia books, which are famously set in Tilling, a fictionalised Rye, along the way.

If you’ve never read a Mapp & Lucia novel, then I suggest tracking down the first in the series right away! These are wonderfully humorous stories set in the 1930s and describe the power struggle between Lucia Lucas and Elizabeth Mapp as they each battle to be crowned the societal queen of Tilling. If you’re a fan of P.G. Wodehouse and Nancy Mitford, then you’re likely to enjoy E.F.Benson’s books. They’re the perfect novels to bring with you for some light reading whilst in Rye, as Benson describes the town so lovingly in his books, and it’s fun to track down many of the sites mentioned in the stories in real life.

Rye, East Sussex

Lamb House, visible from the path leading down from St Mary’s Church, is the setting for Lucia’s home in the books, and was E.F. Benson’s former residence, as well as being the home of other notable writers, such as Henry James and Rumer Godden. Unfortunately, the house isn’t open to the public in March (you can see my pictures of it and the garden from when I visited last year), but we still enjoyed walking past, before rounding the corner into Mermaid Street. This street is surely one of the prettiest in Britain, with its beautiful, ivy-clad houses flanking either side of the cobbles, and the sign of the historic Mermaid Inn swinging gently overhead.

Mermaid Street RyeMermaid Street Rye

Simon The Pieman

Simon the Pieman RyeSimon the Pieman Rye

After taking far too many photos, we carried on our stroll, stopping by Rye Pottery and the Rye Bookshop (where I bought my friend a copy of Mapp & Lucia!), before deciding on lunch at Simon the Pieman (it was hard to resist the name!). The interior of this charming little cafe was made especially welcome by a roaring fire and a delectable display of homemade cakes in the window. We made our way through cottage pie (him) and goat cheese and onion tart (me), with plenty of cups of tea alongside, before calling a cab to The Gallivant.

Welcome Drinks at The Gallivant

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

I’d spent far too long lingering over the details of The Gallivant’s website the night before our departure, so I knew we had plenty of treats in store for our stay, and the Gallivant staff did not disappoint! On arriving, we were welcomed warmly at Reception and offered to be taken to our room straight away, or asked if we’d like to enjoy a welcome drink in the lounge first. We opted for our welcome drinks of Sloe Gin Spritzers, sinking into the comfy armchairs and sofas in the hotel bar area.

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

The Gallivant is described as a ‘restaurant with rooms,’ so it’s not surprising that you’re never far from a good drink or tasty bite to eat at this fantastic hotel. The restaurant and bar area is spacious and inviting, with plenty of cosy features such as lit candles and sheepskin throws. It was the perfect spot to linger over our cocktails, feeling the stresses and tensions of everyday life in London melt away, and smiling at other guests’ dogs (the hotel is dog-friendly) napping in sunny corners of the room.

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

The hotel’s atmosphere reminded me of my teenage years growing up on Long Island; it has that mix of elegance and beachside-casual that is very ‘Hamptons.’ Apart from the fact that I didn’t have any Herve Leger bandage dresses to hand (or a scary female nemesis); I could easily start fantasising that I’d walked onto the latest set of Revenge.

Luxury Garden Room

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

After finishing our drinks, we were shown to our room – one of the hotel’s Luxury Garden Rooms, which are the most spacious offered. It was just as pretty as I’d envisaged, and the bottle of Chapel Down English fizz cooling on ice for us was an extremely lovely surprise! Before we opened it to toast to our break away, though, I had to have a thorough explore of our beautiful room. I thrilled at all the thoughtful details: good books on the shelves, soothing colours, a beach bag filled with blue and white striped towels (as well as a jar of chutney and chocolate truffles – yum!) and our own personal little larder and fridge, stuffed with treats.

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

I delighted in throwing open the french windows opening out onto our little patio and garden and breathing in the fresh sea air; in warmer weather we would definitely have enjoyed our fizz sitting outside, but as there was still a nip to the air we instead popped the cork and enjoyed a glass in the room. I love Chapel Down wines, and we both agreed that their sparkling wine is excellent.

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

Feeling thoroughly in a holiday mood, we decided to enjoy the rest of the wine later and head out for a walk along the beach, before returning to the hotel in time for the slices of cake and cups of tea served to hotel guests each afternoon (I truly surpassed myself in the amount of food and drink I managed to squeeze into this stay!).

The Sea!

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

The Gallivant is situated across the road from the dunes, so after a two minute clamber over the path leading to the sea we topped the dunes and saw the beautiful view of the glimmering sea awaiting us.

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

A huge advantage to travelling off-season is how much quieter everywhere is: we had the beach virtually to ourselves. I scampered about collecting seashells, stuffing a few of the prettiest into the pockets of my coat and trying to remember the last time I’d been for a proper walk along the beach (far too long ago, I decided!).

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

Tea Time then Spa Time

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

After our refreshing walk, we happily turned our minds to tea and cake and made our way back to the hotel, where a huge, steaming kettle greeted us, as well as a tray piled with slices of (extremely good) lemon drizzle cake.

‘This is the life,’ I sighed, leaning back into my chair and smiling at my friend. Usually, the time we spend together in London is much more hurried: snatching moments in-between gym and work, or a drink after what has already been a long day. It felt truly luxurious, in contrast, to have nowhere else to be; to have nothing else to do but to enjoy ourselves and relax, letting our conversation meander and loop back, discussing everything and nothing, knowing there was no imminent curtail to our chat; no rushing off to our other lives or return to reality just yet.

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

After a lazy hour or so spent talking over our tea, I left my friend to read a book back in our room and headed for my full-body massage appointment at the hotel’s spa. All of the Gallivant’s beauty treatments are held in their cosy beach hut in the coastal garden. Strung with low-lit lights, it’s a peaceful oasis to enjoy a restorative treatment.

My full-body massage was given by Billie, who was brilliant, and it felt the ultimate relaxing treatment. I loved the WiDEYE products she used too, which she told me are blended in the UK using natural ingredients. I liked that this detail showed how The Gallivant’s focus on sourcing British (mainly local) ingredients extends throughout all experiences in the hotel.

Dinner Time

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

After my massage, I just had time to reapply my makeup and freshen up a bit in our room, before we headed into the restaurant for our 7.30pm dinner reservation. Amazingly, we were both hungry again – it must have been the sea air!

The Gallivant truly prides itself on its award-winning restaurant, which must be greatly appreciated by Rye locals as well as visitors, as in general I feel Rye is a little lacking in good restaurants. The Gallivant’s philosophy to food is simple, with an emphasis on fresh, seasonal ingredients that are sourced as locally as possible. The restaurant boasts that most of their meat and fish come from farmers and fishermen they know by name and are within 10 miles of the restaurant. More information about the provenance of the food and wine we were enjoying was given on a little scroll of paper waiting on our table, which I thought was a fun touch.

I was especially keen to try the local fish, so after polishing off an amuse bouche of delicious cheesy biscuits and spread, I tucked into pickled herring followed by the catch of the day, which was cod.

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

My friend was clearly in a more meaty mood, as he went for pork terrine followed by the pork chop!

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

The food was beautifully presented and delicious. My pickled herring was a real highlight, as it was so delicate and fresh, but the cod was wonderful too, and my friend pronounced his choices as excellent as well. The portions are relatively small, so if you’re very hungry, then I’d recommend ordering some sides, but it’s not necessary to do so and we didn’t need any supplements to our main dish.

We washed everything down with a bottle of the house white wine, which was extremely palatable. If you’re more of a wine connoisseur than we are, though, then be assured the restaurant offers a truly excellent list, with opportunities to try some of the best English wines, as well as ones from further afield.

For dessert, I went for panna cotta with rhubarb sorbet (yum), and my friend indulged his liking for ice-cream and went for the rum & raisin (with a real shot of rum to pour on top!).

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

My panna cotta was wonderfully smooth and creamy, and the sorbet was perfection – not too sharp, but providing a pleasing tartness in contrast to the panna cotta. I almost missed the detail that my prettily pink sorbet was shaped to resemble a fish, which my friend pointed out to me, and I tried to capture the lovely presentation in a photograph.

Feeling thoroughly satisfied, we both agreed the meal was a wonderful end to a fabulous day.

We Eat Again

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

We were up early the following morning, as my friend had to catch one of the first trains back to London, although I decided to stay on and enjoy the extended check-out time the hotel had offered. I joined my friend for breakfast, though, after we’d had an early cup of tea in the room (which was stocked with an espresso machine, kettle, fresh milk and tea and coffee supplies).

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

We were both very impressed by the breakfast table laid out in the restaurant: it was laden with freshly baked banana bread, cinnamon rolls, madeleines and granola bars, as well as jars of yogurt and berries, stewed fruit, yogurt panna cottas, cereal, and more. There was also hot food to order, and my friend (who informed me breakfast was always his favourite meal of the day) looked very excited at the prospect of a Full English and the chance to try some of the hotel’s homemade bacon.

I ordered my favourite breakfast of smoked salmon with scrambled eggs and toast and only wished that I had two more stomachs (or that we were in Hobbit land, where second breakfast is a thing), so I could do full justice to the feast before us. As it was, I contented myself with a bit of fruit and yoghurt before the hot dishes arrived.

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

Our food was absolutely delicious, which we’d come to expect, and we had time for one more cup of tea before my friend jumped into his taxi to the station.

I went back to the bedroom, made myself some more tea (I really am addicted) poured a long, hot bath (with plenty of bubbles) in the room’s enormous bathtub and pressed play on my classical music playlist. The wind was whipping the trees outside, and a steady rain was falling, so I decided to put aside my plan of having another walk on the beach and instead luxuriated in a leisurely soak before wrapping up in one of the hotel’s fluffy bathrobes and writing a blog post. Then I got dressed again and headed to Reception for my tour of the hotel.

A Hotel Tour

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

I’m always curious about the other rooms in a hotel, and The Gallivant was kind enough to offer me a tour of some of their other rooms. I thought you might be interested to see them too, as it gives a good idea of the style of rooms offered under each rate.

The standard Garden Room is one of their lowest rate rooms, and – although not large – is very pleasant:

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

The Snug Cabin is one of a kind, and I think it would be especially charming for a romantic escape in the colder months, when the wooden panelling and darker tones would provide a cosy setting for staying warm and snug.

The Gallivant Hotel Rye The Gallivant Hotel Rye

None of the Deck Rooms were available to see, but it’s worth remembering these rooms allow dogs. Next up, I peered into a Baby Hampton room, the next biggest down from the Luxury Garden. I thought the window seat looked particularly inviting!

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

As you can see, all of the rooms are comfortable and attractive, but I must admit, I’ve definitely got a particular fondness for the Luxury Garden rooms, which really are something special!

Steak & Chips

After checking out, I decided to kill some time before catching my train and had lunch in the hotel (truth be told, I think I wasn’t quite ready to leave such a cosy haven!). Deciding I’d try some of the local meat this time, I ordered steak and chips with a side of red cabbage and a glass of the house red wine. The steak was melt-in-your-mouth good, and I don’t think I’ve ever had such delicious chips! Honestly, if you love a good steak then definitely order it if you’re ever at The Gallivant.

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

After polishing off (nearly) every bite, I looked up to see my taxi pulling into the hotel driveway. I bid a regretful farewell (resolving to go back again soon!) and made my way back to hustle and bustle of London.

Top-Tips for Your Rye Holiday

The Gallivant Hotel Rye

Organise: the Gallivant staff are wonderfully helpful, and it’s worth emailing them prior to your stay to request taxi numbers, check if any extended check in or out times are available, book any treatments and make a restaurant reservation. Also, if you are forced to leave quite early (or arrive late), then make sure you organise your taxi to or from Rye Station well in advance, as we realised the cab companies outside of London operate much more 9-5 hours! The team at The Gallivant really came to our rescue for my friend’s early departure, with one of the managers offering to drive him to the station herself if necessary. Fortunately, we were able to secure a cab, but it was a lesson to be more aware of ‘country hours’ in the future!

Off-Season: it’s such a joy to travel in the off-season, as not only are areas much less touristy, but there are also some great deals to be had! Check out The Gallivant website to view their latest offers and rates.

Pack: think coastal chic for your trip and pack Breton tops, cotton trousers, Keds or espadrilles (you might want a pair of wellies for your beach walk in the colder, wetter months), a trench coat and a light cashmere scarf for added warmth and style. Don’t forget to bring a good book too, to sit and read outside, or to enjoy as you munch that afternoon tea and cake….

If you’re in the mood for a weekend (or mid-week!) getaway, then I honestly can’t recommend a trip to The Gallivant enough. Our stay was utter bliss, and I already want to go back!

Have you ever been to Rye before? Do you fancy a stay at The Gallivant?

*Note: I was invited, with a guest, to stay at The Gallivant for the purpose of this review, but all opinions expressed are my own and those of my friend’s, and I would not be recommending this hotel to you if we had not had a truly spectacular time!

Weekend Journals | Cornwall

This interview is in celebration of ‘romance,’ February’s blog theme of the month, as well as the Miranda’s Notebook Book Club choice, Jamaica Inn, which is set in Cornwall. 

Cornwall is definitely a county steeped in romance, conjuring as it does haunting and dramatic love stories, such as Rebecca, Frenchman’s Creek and the Poldark series. The vivid, beautiful scenery lends itself well to tales of love and adventure, and has long been an inspiration for artists as well, including some of my favourites: Barbara Hepworth and Winifred Nicholson.

Known for its beautiful scenery, cultural richness and innovative food scene, Cornwall still manages to keep its secrets well, with many of its most inviting spots remaining largely undiscovered. Luckily for us, however, the fabulous team behind Weekend Journals dedicated the first in their series of gorgeous guidebooks to disclosing many of Cornwall’s hidden gems.

Weekend Journals was founded by the lovely Camille (Milly) Kenny-Ryder, alongside her husband, Simon, and brother Gabriel (who’s responsible for the beautiful photography). Milly is an instagram / blogger friend of mine whom I met on my trip to Paris last summer, and her blog and instagram account clearly showcase her exquisite taste in all things food and travel related. I love her beautiful Cornwall guide, and I was delighted when she agreed to sit down with me and share about her process in creating Weekend Journals, as well as some of her top Cornwall recommendations. Be warned, though: as soon as you read this, you’ll want to book a holiday to Penzance immediately (I know I do!).

Weekend Journals CornwallCamille Kenny-Ryder, co-founder of Weekend Journals

MN: How did your interest and love for Cornwall begin?

CKR: I come from a very big family (I’m the eldest of 4 kids) so we never had very much money to go far away on holidays. My parents are both artists, so they loved going to Cornwall because of the art scene and beautiful pottery there. We’d all get bundled up in the car and drive for hours and hours to the deepest, darkest depths of Cornwall, right at the bottom near Penzance. I used to go a lot as a child on B&B holidays there, and then when I got married to Simon, his family are from Cornwall so we would go together a lot. I found out that it was quite likely Simon and I played on the same beach as children, which is hilarious!

Writing the book came about because I was getting asked to write about a lot of new things in Cornwall on my blog, and I felt like there were all these things happening there, like new hotels and restaurants, and there wasn’t anything very modern or design-led in the guidebooks section for Cornwall. I thought that was a shame, as it’s such a popular place for people to travel to for the weekend. I saw there was a gap in the market, and I thought I’d shed some light on it!

MN: What was the self-publishing process like?

CKR: Really hard! If I knew now how much work it would be and how many new things I’d have to learn, I maybe wouldn’t have embarked on it. I have to say it is very rewarding, though, and – not having a publisher – we got to have all the creative control. We didn’t have anyone to answer to and could make all the decisions. That also means you can make all the mistakes, but you come out of the process knowing, not only how to write a book, but also how to design a book. Even knowing how to buy a barcode – things like that, that you never would have thought about before. It was a massive hurdle – there were so many things to overcome – but it was really rewarding when we did it.

Weekend Journals Cornwall

MN: What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome?

CKR: I feel Simon dealt with a lot of the biggest challenges! I think having to multitask so much was a huge challenge. The actual writing of the book seemed only about 2% of the work involved, like finding out about distribution, designing the book and so on. Simon taught himself how to use InDesign and created the whole layout of the book, as well as designing our website.

MN: What made you want to create a physical book, rather than an online product?

CKR: I’m a very tactile person; I’ve always loved physical objects, and I love books. As a child I was always making books and diaries out of pieces of paper. I like having an object, rather than something just on my phone, and I felt that I wanted to put my words and my pictures in something that wasn’t just on the internet.

I’ve had the idea to do a guidebook for years, but I wanted to do it about somewhere that is still a little undiscovered. Although everyone knows about Cornwall, I soon realised speaking to the locals there, that, for the most part, places that tourists were going were completely different from the places that locals went. There’s a place called Potager Garden that the owner of a coffee shop we went to told me about, for instance. At first he was quite cagey, and didn’t want to tell us about it, as he said he didn’t want everyone going there, but when he found out Simon’s family are from Cornwall, he warmed up!

So that was the idea: I wanted to put all of these special places I’d found in a physical book, that someone going down to Cornwall for a wedding or something could take with them, and could spend the next day exploring a few places that were still undiscovered.

Weekend Journals Cornwall

MN: Do you have a particular area of Cornwall that you love?

CKR: There are a few areas that I really love for different reasons. I like Penzance because I feel it’s having a moment right now. It’s near to St Ives, which everyone adores! St Ives is like the pretty older sister, but Penzance has also got so much history and so much to offer. Over the past 5 years, chefs have started to see it as a real foodie destination as well, and there are a lot of interesting restaurants in Penzance. The Jubilee Pool has just reopened too, which is this amazing outdoor lido that’s totally stunning and has been around since the 1930s. There are lots of nice little art galleries too.

MN: If you could pick one – and there are so many lovely ones in the book! – which would be your favourite Cornish restaurant?

CKR: It’s so hard to pick, especially as I love eating so much! Everyone knows about Rick Stein and all the big Cornwall chefs, but one place I loved discovering for the book was a place called The Shore, which is actually in Penzance. The whole restaurant is run by only one guy, who’s worked in Michelin star restaurants for the last 10 years, and he uses all the fresh, local produce, and the food is amazing; definitely edging towards a Michelin star. The food is really affordable, though, and does a fantastic job showcasing Cornish ingredients.

I also really love Outlaw’s Fish Kitchen, which is the 1 star restaurant run by Nathan Outlaw [there’s a fantastic interview with Nathan Outlaw at the back of Milly’s guide  – M]. It’s absolutely adorable, tucked away in this old, historic house, and it’s quite small so there are very few seats. Eating there is great chance to taste Outlaw’s expertise in cooking fish, but at much more affordable prices and it’s much more low-key and casual than his 2 star restaurant, which is nearby. I always recommend people go there.

Weekend Journals Cornwall

MN: What are the cultural aspects of Cornwall that you appreciate the most?

CKR: I think there is a lot of amazing art in Cornwall, but what I’ve discovered more recently are some of the incredible gardens. We went to the Isles of Scilly, a collection of islands just off Cornwall, which are just magical. There’s an amazing garden there that has tropical plants from all over the world, and it feels so exotic – you could be anywhere in the world! There’s also a sculpture garden quite near to Penzance that is beautiful as well.

I also enjoy spotting literary references – like going to see the lighthouse from Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse and seeing why Cornwall has inspired so many brilliantly talented and creative people. Cornwall really has an incredible atmosphere, that is so different from London life, and it’s so refreshing to just sit by the sea and enjoy it.

Weekend Journals Cornwall

MN: What’s next for Weekend Journals?

CKR: We’ve been really delighted by how enthusiastic people are about Britain. My family are from the South of France, so I’m desperate to do one on the South of France, but then I’m also aware that it’s good to appreciate and explore more of Britain, especially as travel abroad is getting more expensive. And I feel there is a need for quality guidebooks about places that Londoners and people like me can visit for the weekend in Britain. Very vaguely, then, we’re thinking of Somerset next!

You can connect with Milly through her instagram account and blog, and the Cornwall guidebook can be ordered here. For more Cornish tips and inspiration, follow @weekendjournals.

(all photographs in this blog post courtesy of Weekend Journals)

Have you ever been to Cornwall before? Are you tempted to plan a holiday now?

P.S. We’re discussing Jamaica Inn a week from today! I’ve been loving the pictures people have put up on Instagram of the book. Have you finished it yet?! 

A Writing Week in Geneva

back in Geneva ~ the gentle pleasures of a writing week ~ seeing friends ~ exploring the Old Town

Whenever the plane touches down in Geneva, I feel as though I’ve come home. Having spent my first 5 years of existence, and, later, my last 3 years of high-school, surrounded by the beautiful mountains and lake of this corner of Switzerland, Geneva always has a strong hold on my memories and my affection.

This time, Mum and I flew to Geneva for a week, to have a little visit with my Dad and also to enjoy a week of relaxation after a month of us both battling the horrendous winter bugs that have been going around.

Well, I say relaxation, but for me the week was really a chance to work hard and catch up on writing, podcasting and blogging tasks. It felt refreshing to get away from the distractions of London and concentrate on knocking items off my to-do list. During the day, I wrote, researched, emailed and audio-edited, and in the evenings I’d curl up with a book. Rather than a room of my own, I got to enjoy a whole flat, nestled up high over-looking the rooftops of Geneva, from which to write. I think Virginia Woolf would have approved!

Of course, I managed to get out and about and have some fun too. I met up with old friends from high-school over wine and cheese one night and lobster rolls from a food truck near the United Nations the next. We revisited favourite cafes and streets, marvelling anew at how Geneva manages to remain magically very much the same, even 11 years on.

The Old Town is always my favourite, with its twisting cobbled streets and beautiful doors with impressive engravings and elaborate, imposing knockers. There’s a calming quality to the city’s colour palette of grey stone and brown wood, especially in the winter when the streets are quieter.

It was very cold while we were there, with clumps of snow unmelted along some of the streets, and I was thankful for the thick jumpers and cosy hat and gloves I’d brought from London. The cold, crisp air smelt wonderful though, and we had the added pleasure when we were inside of contrasting our snug warmth, sipping mugs of hot chocolate, with the bitterness of the weather outside.

Have you ever been to Geneva? Would you like to spend a ‘writing week’ somewhere?

P.S. My 30th birthday in a beautifully autumnal Geneva.