Tag Archives: travel

T&T 28 | Travel Planning and Packing Tips

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

In today’s episode, Sophie joins me on the podcast to chat about travel. We share our top tips for planning a journey and packing efficiently. I loved Sophie’s advice about what she always has in her carry on and how she always tries to put fresh sheets on the bed before leaving for a holiday, so that her home is especially inviting on return. We both talk about our planning timeline leading up to a trip, detailing what we plan months, weeks, days and even hours in advance.

Sophie and I had a lot of fun sharing ideas in this episode, and we felt there was so much more we could have said, so we’re planning a Part 2 for our next joint Tea & Tattle episode, where we’ll be talking about making the most of a trip, including fun ideas for keeping a travel journal. If there’s a particular travel-related topic you’d like us to discuss as well, then do let us know!

Listen to hear our best tips for travel planning and packing.  

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael’s Mount

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

This post is part of 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!

In my penultimate post covering my Penzance visit, I’ve got another must-see attraction for you. St Michael’s Mount is a castle perched on top of a tiny rocky island, a short distance from Marazion beach. The castle was (and still is) a family home for centuries and has a rich and intriguing history. It is now part of the National Trust, which we were happy to discover as our membership cards let us in for free.

The Causeway

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

The island is accessible either by walking the causeway at low tide, or by boat at high. We managed to time our visit whilst the causeway was clear, so we could enjoy the short walk across. I’d been a bit worried that I didn’t have any wellington boots, but fortunately when the tide is low these are completely unnecessary (although do warned that when the tide comes in, it comes in fast – we witnessed some poor people having to wade, knee deep in seawater, for part of the way back – and I have a sneaking suspicion that this misjudgement provides near daily entertainment for the locals…).

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

The walk takes a mere 10 minutes and gives you the chance to enjoy spectacular views of the coast and the looming castle ahead, so I do recommend trying to do the walk if possible.

The Gardens

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

It seems an unlikely spot for a garden to flourish, as plants are prey to extreme winds, but the rocks act as a sort of radiator, absorbing heat by day and releasing it at night, creating a micro climate where sub-tropical plants flourish.

Steep, twisting paths wind up the sides of the rocks, where you can explore the different gardens and admire the views as you go (this, by the way, is not the place to visit if you suffer from vertigo, or have trouble navigating uneven surfaces.).

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You have the option to explore either the gardens or castle, or both. I wanted to see both, but access to castle is restricted from the garden side, so I walked back around the island to the entrance point for the castle.

The Castle

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

I was in for another steep climb up to the castle (by this time, I’d left my Mum, who’d had enough walking for one day, comfortably ensconced at the NT cafe). I very much enjoyed the walk, even if it took some courage to approach the battalion walls and get a shot looking down….

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

I felt the romantic, isolated nature of the place was simply crying out to be made the setting of a Daphne du Maurier-type novel.

Some of the rooms are available to view, and they are richly and elegantly furnished, befitting a castle that has received royalty.

UK Travel, Penzance | St Michael's Mount

A visit to St Michael’s Mount is definitely worth it if you’re in the area. Tickets are £14 per adult to see the castle and garden (or free if you are a National Trust member). You can check opening times here.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

This post is part of 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!

Our second night in Penzance was spent at the boutique townhouse B&B, Chapel House, appropriately situated opposite the church at the end of picturesque Chapel Street. Formerly the Penzance Arts Club, owner Susan Stuart took the opportunity to breathe fresh life into this beautiful Georgian building, turning it into a serene, light-filled dwelling space.

When researching our trip, I’d seen lots of images of Chapel House popping up on instagram, and thought it looked gorgeous, so was anxious to see if the reality lived up to my expectations. As you’ll see, it most certainly did!

Chapel House

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

Opening the heavy front door, the bell jangled as we stepped into the spacious hallway of the house, decorated with a big wooden side table and wall displays of art from the Newlyn School of Art (I liked this nod to the building’s artistic past).

After a friendly welcome, we were shown to our room and told that freshly baked brownies would be on their way up to us in a moment (it really is impossible not to enjoy your food when you’re in Cornwall!).

Our Room

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

Our room was situated at the very top of the house, with splendid views of the church tower and, from our communal landing, further out to sea.

I loved the pops of colour in our room, and the thoughtful details like fluffy dressing gowns and slippers provided, an iPad with information about Chapel House and room service options, a box filled with toiletries from the local skincare company Pure Nuff Stuff, and freshly stocked tea, coffee and milk supplies (alongside the home-baked brownies – delicious!). The decor showcased a mix of contemporary and classic design, with vintage radios and modern artworks common features in each room.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B ReviewUK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B ReviewUK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

The bathroom in our room was fabulous, with a gigantic tub and a skylight that opens overhead, so, if you wish, you could draw a hot bath and open the skylight to look at the stars at night. Isn’t that romantic? I myself enjoyed a good soak and a good book (Rosamunde Pilcher’s The Shell Seekers, partly set in Cornwall) before going down to dinner later that evening.

A Tour of the House

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

After settling into our room, I was invited to take a tour of the house, so I set off on a wander, camera in hand. There are 6 double bedrooms available to book, and each one is beautiful and spacious, with its own unique character and charm. Taking inspiration from the seaside setting, Chapel House is decorated throughout in muted greys, greens and blues, which lend the rooms a dream-like, airy quality that is pleasantly relaxing.

The abundance of natural light strikes a note of pure joy into the heart of any photographer, and I fervently wished I could use Chapel House as the backdrop to my interior shots forever and ever.

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Staying at this B&B feels more like being a guest in someone’s home, with its air of elegant informality and welcoming atmosphere. Shelves of books, a plethora of magazines and comfy chairs are strategically placed throughout the public areas of the house, and it’s hard to resist the urge to simply stand and stare in front of the beautiful views offered by the wide windows.

The drawing rooms are exceptionally lovely, and are the perfect place to enjoy an evening drink, or a cup of tea with a good book. In the winter, there’s the promise of a fire and extra cosy blankets, too.

Supper in the Kitchen

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

Good eating, as well as beautiful interior design, lies at the core of the Chapel House experience. As well as cooked breakfast and homemade cake each afternoon, supper is offered for your first night, or over the weekend. Made by Susan – a consummate chef –  in the spacious kitchen downstairs, it’s not to be missed.

We started the evening with prosecco and olives in the living room, chatting over our day’s adventures, before moving downstairs, where we were greeted by the delicious aromas of our meal being prepared.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

Our table was drawn up by the fire, which is lit on colder nights, and where we could sit and chat to Susan as she busied herself with the supper preparations at the other end of the stunning kitchen. It was inspiring to hear her story of her move from London and adventures in restoring Chapel House to its former grandeur.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

We’d given our choices from the menu offered previous to our arrival. I’d stuck with seafood throughout (when in Cornwall, after all…) and had selected scallops and wild chives for my first course, with crab cannelloni for the second.

Mum had chosen scallops to start as well, followed by roast chicken wrapped in prosciutto. We’d chosen a bottle of white wine suggested by Susan to pair with our meal, which was excellent.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

The scallops, plump and melting in the mouth, were superb, and the main courses did not disappoint either. I loved my hearty serving of cannelloni, which happily had a fresh green salad served alongside to lighten the dish. Mum’s roast chicken was succulent and tasty.

All the meals at Chapel House are cooked using local, seasonal ingredients, and there’s a real charm to sitting in a homely kitchen and watching your meal prepared in front of you. For dessert, I (predictably, as ever!) went for chocolate torte, with Cornish clotted cream and fresh raspberries, and Mum decided to try the cheese platter, with its selection of locally made cheese.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B ReviewUK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

They were both a delightful end to the meal. My chocolate torte was heavenly, especially with the cream (surely Cornish clotted cream is the very best), and Mum’s cheese plate was delicious too. Despite being extremely full, I had a tiny sliver of the Gouda, which Susan told us was made by a Scandinavian cheesemaker settled in Cornwall. It was exceptional!

Breakfast

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

Rather unbelievably, given our fantastic meal the night before, we were both ready for our breakfast the following morning. Making our way down to the kitchen again, we were met with an impressive array of freshly made juices, fruit salad, bread, croissants, granola, muesli and yoghurt.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

I helped myself to a small bowl of yoghurt and fruit, with a sprinkling of granola and sat down at one of the large, square dining tables. We were handed a menu with mouth-watering offerings of cooked breakfasts, and the ability to mix and match however you liked. I decided on cooked sausage, white pudding, fried mushrooms, scrambled eggs and toast.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

It was wonderful – the sausages were some of the best I’ve ever tasted, and I can now attest I’m a fan of white pudding as well as black. Mum asked for avocado and poached egg on toast with bacon, which she said was very good too.

UK Travel, Penzance | Chapel House B&B Review

We were quite sorry to have to leave after our breakfast, and I very much hope to be back one day soon! Our experience at Chapel House was truly marvellous, and I’d recommend it as a fabulous choice for a special holiday, romantic getaway, or to book for a wedding (when it’s possible to take over the whole house).

Rooms at Chapel House start from £150 a night, and more information on booking can be found here.

Note: our stay Chapel House was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore RestaurantThis 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 certainly did a lot of good eating whilst in Penzance, but there is one meal in particular that stands out as a highlight of our trip. I admit that The Shore will likely fail to please if you’re not a fan of fish, but for those of us who enjoy nothing better than a taste of the sea, The Shore is a must-visit on your Penzance list.

Bruce Rennie runs the restaurant, which is essentially a one-man operation; a labour of love that pays homage to the bountiful offerings of the Cornish coast. Having previously worked in the prestigious, two-star Michelin restaurant Martin Wishart in Edinburgh, Rennie has been long-settled in Cornwall and delights in producing a regularly changing small menu that showcases freshly caught, local fish and produce (a lot of which is foraged by Rennie himself).

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

We had a booking for supper on our first night in Cornwall, and ambled along the twisting streets from our B&B to the restaurant, enjoying the golden glow of the evening light.

On arriving at the restaurant, we were greeted warmly and shown to our table, where some thickly cut slices of homemade bread and a generous helping of Cornish butter appeared at our table, alongside the bottle of prosecco we ordered. The Shore has a fuss-free, pleasant interior, with painted white walls and a blue ceiling, light wooden furniture and silver light fixtures and wall displays reminiscent of coral. It reminded me of the beachside restaurants I grew up with on Long Island, and I instantly felt at home.

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

Sipping my fizz, I turned my mind to the menu and began the hugely enjoyable task of choosing what I’d like. I adore fish, so it was a real treat to sample the local catch, and I had a hard time deciding which dishes to choose. Did I fancy pollack or brill? Red mullet or hake? Or possibly a spider crab broth?

In the end, I settled on Cured Pollack with Apple, Dill and Wasabi, and Mum chose Brill with Cafe de Paris Hollandaise and Asparagus.

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

Both dishes were incredible: everything on my plate was fresh and vibrant, the delicacy of the fish balanced perfectly against the sweet crispness of the apple and slight heat of wasabi. My mum pronounced her hollandaise sauce utterly blissful alongside expertly cooked brill.

For our mains, I’d chosen Sole (a favourite of mine) with Artichoke and Asparagus Nage, Orzo Pasta and Tarragon. Mum went for Cod with Potato Terrine, Cockles, Celeriac and Sprouting Broccoli.

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

My choice tasted like spring on a plate: the tarragon in the broth brought a wonderful zest to the dish, and the vegetables were cooked just right. I loved the mix of radish, asparagus, carrot and artichoke, and of course the fish was beautifully done, standing up well to the heady mix of flavours. I tried a little of my Mum’s plate too, and agreed it was superb.

By this point, it was getting dark, and the candles flickered in their shell-like vessels as we took a little break before choosing dessert. It probably won’t come as a surprise to you that I can rarely resist a chocolate-based pudding, so eventually I put in my request for Valrhona Manjari Chocolate Delice with Passion Fruit Sorbet and Honeycomb. Mum was less predictable with her order of Banana Parfait with Hazelnuts, Lime and and Coffee.

UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant UK Travel, Penzance | The Shore Restaurant

My dessert was a rich, deep, velvet chocolate that was extremely satisfying, and I loved my Mum’s playful concoction too, which was just as delicious as it was pretty.

As we were finishing our meal, the Chef himself came out to greet us and chat about his menu choices and love for Cornwall. It’s clear that Bruce Rennie is extremely passionate about what he does, and puts a great deal of thought and care into every detail of his restaurant, including the exact shade of blue paint, which he told us took him months to decide. His strong vision and desire for the very best shines through his cooking, and I can’t wait for whenever we can return to Penzance and to The Shore. As my Mum said, the food alone is worth the train journey from London!

+++ The Shore restaurant is open for lunch Friday-Saturday, 12.30-13.30 and for supper Tuesday-Saturday, 18.30 – 21.00. It’s strongly advised that you make a booking and give notice of any dietary requirements or allergies in advance of your meal. +++

Note: our meal at The Shore was complimentary for the purpose of review. All opinions expressed are my own.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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