Holiday Heaven, Holidays

Holiday Heaven: White Cross Bay, Ambleside, The Lake District

Like many people from all over the world I ADORE the Lake District, it is one of those places where you can simply be and that’s ok. In our busy modern everyday lives, you very rarely get the opportunity to just be, to not rush about, have a million things to do and commitments to keep. The Lakes take that all away the moment you arrive.

Driving up from Nottinghamshire takes a good few hours, but as the journey progresses you can feel the tension easing from your shoulders, your tongue remove itself from being pressed against the roof of your mouth and your jaw relax. The scenery surrounds you and almost hugs you welcoming you into this new place of being, it’s quite simply heaven on earth.

Now yes during the summer it is very touristy but that doesn’t detract from the shear beauty of this amazing place. Even when you’re in the hustle and bustle of Windermere you still feel the sense of tranquillity and calm that this place bestows upon you.

My favourite place to stay is White Cross Bay, a caravan/chalet park just outside Ambleside. It really is special, the chalets and caravans are lovely, impeccably clean and the setting is right on the shore of Lake Windermere. If you’re lucky enough to have your own boat, you can moore and launch it here too. There are privately owned chalets and caravans, but everything here feels inclusive, it’s a real family friendly place. Having stayed in both the Chalets and Caravans I can tell you both are equally lovely!  My preference is actually the caravans purely because you’re generally a little bit nearer the centre of the site.

The facilities here are great there’s a lovey swimming pool, not huge but perfectly sized for the demand of the place, a small shop selling essentials and souvenirs, the LOVELY Boathouse restaurant for a very special evening meal, a fast food outlet serving pizzas etc, a Bar with live entertainment in the evenings and even a small arcade. Not only that but the outdoor facilities are great too! A fantastic children’s play area and as I said the marina is beautiful. Another great thing about White Cross Bay is they will allow you to bring dogs* (*selected accommodation only and limited numbers) and there are some stunning walks especially in the springtime when the Bluebells in the woods on site are spectacular!

From White Cross Bay you are perfectly situated to explore everything the Lakes have to offer! We’ve been all around and found some breath-taking views and places to stop and have a coffee and cake! The traditional hotspots such as Windermere and Coniston never loose their appeal though and going on a Windermere lake cruise is like a tradition for us now! The Chocolate dipped ice creams from the parlour near the boat drop off are also amazing and a MUST whilst you’re there!

If you’re self catering or just want to pick up a bite to eat the supermarket Booths in Windermere is lovely.  It’s clean and a really nice place to shop,  there’s lots of special treats and what’s great is they’re not too over priced.  We always go here for our holiday food shopping.

One of my favourite, more secluded and out the way places to visit is Tilberthwaite Ghyll. It is down a very narrow single track road running along the side of a VERY steep mountain with a sheer drop off. The Herdwick sheep roam freely around here, and you can get some lovely pics from the car! When you finally arrive at the end of the lane you’re greeted by an amazing force (Waterfall). It’s such a lovely place to stop and have a picnic, walk the dogs and paddle in the force, you can explore up the slate mine and the views from the top are truly amazing.

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We’ve visited so many places; Windermere, Coniston, Kendal, Bowness, Grasmere, Ullswater, Wastwater and Hawkshead to name but a few! We’ve also hired boats on Windermere, travelled aboard the Steam Gondola on Coniston Water, visited The Lakes Aquarium, I’ve even been on an experienced rider Horse Riding Trek up the mountains overlooking Lake Windermere (which by the way was absolutely AMAZING!).

Hawkshead was a revelation when we discovered the Hawkshead Relish Company! Wow they do some seriously scrumptious stuff! Their Hawkshead Relish and savoury jellies are absolutely divine! I love them so much I even order their products direct online!

There quite literally is so much to do and each time we come to the lakes we’re discovering more and more things and amazing places to visit!

Come rain or shine the Lake District has something to offer everyone, the atmosphere of the place changes with the weather but never in a bad way.  The rain brings glistening new beauty, the mist and fog more intrigue and in a thunder storm there’s nothing more spectacular that watching the lightening over the lakes!  The sun sharpens the views casting deep shade over the sides of the mountains and highlighting the peaks but no matter what the weather this place is certain to grab your soul and never let go!

So if you’re planning a UK holiday I most definitely recommend White Cross Bay
and The Lake District!


Christmas Gift ideas: A Countrymans take

It’s that time of year when our thoughts turn towards the festivities to come!

As a family we all LOVE Christmas and we absolutely make a huge occasion of it. We love everything about it, dressing the trees (Yes we have more than one), decorating the outside of the house, buying the presents and the food, the nights snuggled up in front of the fire, watching Harry Potter Movies we’ve seen a million times before, eating as much chocolate as you can, and in my case sampling the odd schooner of Otima Port!

It usually falls to me to buy the gifts as I really do enjoy the process, yes I find it stressful but I love it when you find that perfect something for a special someone. Now I don’t spend mega bucks (mainly because I don’t have them to spend!) but I do take a great deal of time thinking what people would like and enjoy receiving. Yes I may get it completely wrong sometimes but again, with the amount of thought that goes into my gifts it is definitely that that counts!

I’ve found some lovely little shops, crafters and bespoke items this year and alongside some more familiar ones I wanted to share a few of these with you all and maybe give you a little inspiration:

Amazing handmade jewellery and gift ideas! We had George’s christening cuff made here; I’ve also bought some beautiful silver jewellery items and several other Christmassy things like Santa’s Special Key and George’s 1st Christmas Bauble. Highly recommended!

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I’ve purchased a lovely sea glass necklace from here; I love the concept of recycling the sea glass found locally! I’ve always been a huge beachcomber and have a small collection of sea glass I’ve collected over the years.  I can’t think of a better way to use the glass than make stunning jewellery with it! I’ve got my eye on a sea glass ring next! (HINT HINT SANTA!)

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This company supply a gorgeous selection wooden items for everyone! Lovely colours and the stacking rainbows are beautiful.  We’re having a ‘Believe’ Sign made for George’s room!

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These chocolates are quite simply stunning! When I first saw them I couldn’t believe my eyes!  They are on my Christmas wish list and I am certainly going to order some as gifts!

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Love these plant pot feet, I first found them at RHS Chatsworth and totally fell in love with them. They do loads of different designs but the Hunting scene ones are my favourite. A lovely gift idea.

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For that special little someone why not treat them to some beautiful new outfits from these amazing people! The ethical and organic cotton is super soft and washes and wears incredibly well. We fell in love with their Camper Van print but their new Vikings design is our Favourite from the Autumn/Winter collection.  I just wish we had a girl to treat to some of their lovely girly things too!

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Another idea for that little someone is some Blade & Rose Leggings! We have the Bus and Tractor ones for George and love them! Super comfy and soft and what’s even better is they come in a huge variety of designs! There are even special Christmassy ones!

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Know someone who wants to help the Bees? These are the perfect little stocking filler all wrapped up in a lovely little hessian sack. Another thing on our Santa List!

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Another lovely little stocking filler, socks that stay up! Great for little ones and bigger ones too! Lovely company with excellent customer service!

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So many LOVELY things to choose from here! Gorgeous outfits for the big day and some lovely toys too! We never fail to shop here without picking up something for George! Another great thing is they do vouchers so if you’re stuck what to get someone with a little one just get a Voucher and let them decide!

I adore David Austin Roses, there are so many great gift ideas here or you could even arrange a day out as a Gift! This will be featuring in a future blog post all about grown up days out!

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This company was shared by a blogger friend of mine and coming from a horsey background the moment I saw them I loved them! They just screamed quality! Such a stunning idea and the craftsmanship is outstanding! Perfect for horsey relatives or friends!

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I love my burner from this company, so much so I bought one for my little boys Godmother as a thank you gift! They really are a special gift and the scents you can get are amazing. My personal favourites are Forest Mist and Cotton Caress.

These gorgeous wooden coasters and wall art are absolutely lovely and come in a few different designs! Our eyes were caught by the lovely Fox coasters.

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A hamper is always a lovely gift to give and receive. I love making up my own hampers and usually end up back at Maxey’s buying all sorts of things to fill them to the brim with loveliness! Preserves, Chutneys, Pastas, Biscuits, Spirits even Lip Balms and Hand creams. You can make a hamper up using whatever you like! I’ve done them in Buckets, Baskets, Garden Planters and all sorts. You also don’t have to stick to the traditional savoury type ones, you could do a sweet one, pampering, gardening, doggy, kitty, horsey whatever you like!

blur focus jam jars

These are a fantastic gift for someone like me who’s trying to be more Eco conscious! You use them instead of Clingfilm and they’re re-useable saving on plastics and great for the environment! They come in some lovely designs and different sizes to suit your needs! They even have a Turtle Charity Design donating 10% of the profits to Surfers Against Sewage.

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For something a bit different, have a look at these lovely quote leaves we found at My Visible Object! I discovered them at RHS Chatsworth and stupidly didn’t buy any whilst I was there, I ended up ordering two when I got home! I bought the Gertrude Jekyll and Audrey Hepburn ones best but could quite happily have more!

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We love our Farmer Christmas book and he has a new one out this year! Perfect for adding to a Christmas Eve box! George is sure to like it!

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Lovely little shop in Newark, Nottinghamshire stocking all manner of Country Attire! Stockists of Joules, Dubarry, Fairfax & Favour, Cath Kidston to name but a few! There really is something for everyone here and again Gift Vouchers are an option!

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These are wonderful gifts, certainly something a little bit different, and with so many designs to choose from there’s sure to be one you fall for! We did!

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These North Pole style personalised baubles are just adorable! We has these made up a few years ago.  I shall be ordering a new one to commemorate George’s 1st Christmas!

Customised North Pole Baubles
Our families customised North Pole Baubles

Want to really treat someone special then you can’t go far wrong by getting them a day at Eden Hall.  I love the Thermal spa suite, the Caldarium and the Rose infused steam room.  You can buy a gift card or Treatments and it’s the perfect way to say I love you! My personal favourite treatments are Clarins but they do a wide selection of others and you could even add on a luxury afternoon tea! The brownie points are well and truly in the bag with this one!

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How about commissioning a special stick? These are exquisite; the craftsmanship is second to none! Have one made of a loyal companion and give it as a gift, I couldn’t think of anything better!

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So that’s just a few gift ideas, I’ve got plenty more and if you’ve got a great idea you’d like to share why not go to our Facebook page and leave us a comment!

Beside the Seaside

Beside the seaside: Mablethorpe, Lincolnshire UK

Located on the East Coast of Lincolnshire, Mablethorpe is a great place to visit, there really is something for everyone.

The beach is superbly clean and goes on for miles! The waves tend to be a little kinder and the little ones can play in the (usually warmer) shallow streams that form when the tide goes out. The very gently sloping beach is also great as the kids can play quite far out in the sea but generally still touch the floor! (Parental supervision required mind!)

We always start off at the North End where it’s a little quieter, away from the main promenade, so you get a nice bit of beach pretty much to yourself!
The car park at the North end couldn’t be any better, you simply park up, walk over the dune and you’re on the beach! There’s even a little shop selling teas, coffees and beach paraphernalia.

The thing I like most about Mablethorpe is that you can have the best of both worlds. If you like the hubbub of the main promenade area it’s great, with all the arcades, funfair and shops but if like me you like a slightly more sedate seaside experience 5 mins down the road you can have the peace and quiet too.  We normally do half and half!

There is also something very special that you just don’t get in many places and that’s the Sand Train! A train that drives up and down the beach, in the breaking surf, which for the kiddies (and big kiddies!) is so much fun!

We’ve had no end of great family times at Mablethorpe, flying kites, building sandcastles and playing in the arcades. When it comes to lunch, Monty’s Fish & Chips is our top tip! Located on Fitzwilliam Street near the main promenade area the food there is absolutely delicious.  We normally sit in which is great option when you have little ones in tow plus they can have a pit stop there too!

Another lovely place we like to go and have a nice ice cream is Mr. G’s on the seafront. A fantastic café which does food, drinks and of course Ice cream including a mean Knickerbocker Glory!

We highly recommend Mablethorpe for a great family day out! Its a regular for us!

Beside the Seaside

Beside the seaside: Cromer, Norfolk UK

Situated on the East Norfolk coastline Cromer is a really lovely seaside town.

Our 1st visit here was all too brief and we plan to return again very soon. There was a lot to see and do in Cromer, when we first arrived we headed to the main shopping area and quickly discovered an array of lovely shops all selling the obligatory souvenirs.

We headed on toward the seafront where we were greeted with the breath taking view of Cromer Pier. Knowing that Cromer is famous for its crabbing, my partner and eldest were very excited to have a go and catch themselves some crabs. Sadly when we walked down to the pier we discovered that the day we chose to go was some sort of competition day and that everyone in the universe was crabbing off the pier. There were crab lines all tangled up all over the place and for a first attempt it wasn’t ideal. I later found out it was the World Crabbing Competition part of the Crab and Lobster Festival!

At the end of the Pier is Cromer Lifeboat Station, it’s really good in that you can go in and look around, see the lifeboat close up and get a real sense of the life of a lifeboat person. My partner and eldest went in first as unfortunately due to the nature of the place children in pushchairs or babies in baby carriers are not allowed. I then went in after with my eldest, I couldn’t get over how big the lifeboat was! I had no idea they were so big, very impressive. We had a look around the RNLI shop and made a few purchases including a Cromer Lifeboat RNLI teddy bear for George.

After another stroll around the pier we decided to go a little further and find the Henry Blogg Lifeboat Museum only a short walk away.  On our way we discovered a surf school and lovely local market!
The museum is really nice; it is totally accessible and has interactive elements which are great. It’s not huge; we were in and out within about half an hour but we thoroughly enjoyed our time here and I would certainly recommend a visit.

When we left the museum we stopped to watch the sea and the big ships passing in the distance. All of a sudden looking towards the pier where we had been only half an hour earlier the lifeboat launched! It was amazing to witness, however the shout was sadly a real emergency, as far as I know a fishing vessel had got into difficulty. As we watched the Lifeboat disappear it gave me a real sense of respect and gratitude to those people who volunteer their time to the lifeboats and risk their lives to save others. Amazing.IMG_6271

We stopped to have lunch in the extremely popular Rocket House Café which was really lovely. It is situated just next door to the Henry Blogg museum and was absolutely heaving! I had a Cromer Crab sandwich, my eldest a Cromer Crab wrap and my partner a sausage sandwich. All our meals were delicious but if you plan to visit make sure you get there early for a table!

After lunch the weather turned and we were forced to abandon our promenade walk for shelter in the arcades. This was George’s first experience of an arcade and he loved it! All the pretty lights, things moving and people bustling about, there was just so much for him to look at!

Like I say our visit here was far too short and we will most definitely be back!

If you would like to donate to the RNLI please visit my Just Giving page

Beside the Seaside

Beside the Seaside: Mundesley, Norfolk UK

Located on the North Norfolk Coast, Mundesley beach is an absolute gem!

On arrival in Mundesley I didn’t quite know what to expect from what appeared to be a very tiny sleepy Norfolk village, however I was NOT disappointed!

The beach here is quite simply fantastic! It’s such a picturesque postcard view with the stunning multicoloured beach huts lining the walkway down to the beach.

Mundesley Beach Huts

We went in the summer and there was a lifeguard on duty the whole time we were there. The children could swim safely, and the waves were great for body boarding. The sand is lovely and clean and for the beachcomber there’s plenty of scavenging for Witches stones to be done (A Witches Stone being a stone with a hole worn all the way through by the sea).

We had an absolutely fabulous day at Mundesley, it was during George’s first ever holiday and this was his first ever time at the beach. We pitched our beach shelter tent, built sandcastles and watched the children bodyboarding, it was idyllic.

Mundesley Beach - Our Pitch

Walking from the carpark to the beach there were other activities for the family like Crazy Golf and a large play park. The local shops were well equipped with everything you could possibly need for a good day at the beach. I ended up buying a new bodyboard and Frisbee for the eldest and of course the obligatory tea towel and fridge magnet souvenirs. George also selected a Lobster cuddly toy to bring home as his memento of the day.


We will most definitely be going back, and I would highly recommend Mundesley if you’re ever in Norfolk!