Monday 25 January 2016

Marsden, Yorkshire - Out and About

Other than attending Chris and Jenny's wedding and doing lots of chilling out, we did get out and about a couple of times whilst on our family Christmas break staying in The West Wing in Marsden.

We managed a wander around Marsden, depicted in this sculpture, where the river levels were very high, following the heavy rain we'd had.

We walked on up to the canal and took the towpath to Standedge Tunnel.  There's not much to see at this time of year, as the visitor centre is closed, but you can see the entrance to the tunnel, which was fascinating to us, having looked at the length of the tunnel on Google maps.We also managed a drive out across Saddleworth Moor, where we saw some cracking views before sitting for a while watching hand gliders struggling to take off and stay in the air.
We took lots of photos of the hang gliders ... most were rubbish, these are my favourites ...

And that was that really.  We had a lovely relaxing Christmas break, not doing very much at all, just what we needed before the start of the New Year.

Monday 18 January 2016

A Christmas Wedding

It seemed that no sooner had we settled in for our family Christmas break in The West Wing, we were heading back towards home, for a wedding that had been a couple of years in the planning.

Our close friends' eldest son, Chris and his fiancee, Jenny, were getting married on 23 December and we just couldn't miss sharing their day with them.
We made it back home with plenty of time to spare and soon got 'suited and booted', which was an interesting experience ... heels and tights for me and a collar and tie for Martin, we were both well outside of our comfort zones!

Though it felt a little brisk, the sun was shining, for what seemed like the first time for weeks and we kept our fingers crossed that the good weather would continue.  The wedding was held at a place called Mythe Barn, not too far from home and we arrived to be greeted by our friends, Jackie and Phil, both looking absolutely fabulous, as mother and father of the groom, and a lot more comfortable in their smart attire than we felt in ours.

We soon warmed up with a Winter Pimms, which went down very nicely, whilst catching up with Chris, who looked very nervous, his sister, Rachel, my God Daughter, who made an absolutely beautiful bridesmaid and her boyfriend Tom, who was performing Usher duties.
Before long we were called into the room where the ceremony was to take place and we all took our seats. Martin and I both exchanged a knowing look when the Canon in D Major started up for the arrival of the bride, as this was the music that I walked into my own wedding ceremony to.

The three beautiful bridesmaids entered the room first, followed by Jenny, who looked amazing. Rachel did a reading and the ceremony went off without a hitch and it was soon back into the reception area for more Winter Pimms and plenty of canapes, including mini fish and chips, which were very tasty.
Photographs were being taken and we soon realised that something unexpected must be happening outside. We braved the cold to have a look for ourselves to find some surprise guests, which was a real treat.
After this distraction, or should I say disruption, and the more traditional confetti shots, it was time to make our way to take our seats for the wedding breakfast.  
This was held in another room at the venue and it was decorated beautifully, with a huge Christmas tree in the corner and plenty of festive table decorations.

Kicking tradition into touch, the speeches were delivered before we ate and all did really well and were very entertaining.  Having known Chris all of his life, I was so proud of how confident he was and how well he did.  He's definitely all grown up now.
We dined like Kings on Arancini, followed by Beef Wellington, with vegetables and dauphinnoise potatoes, a real favourite, finished off by a very chocolaty dessert. The food was all amazing and there was most definitely plenty of it.
After watching the first dance, it was then time for Martin and I to find a quiet spot to chill, whilst the disco ensued ... Oh yeah, there was a quick change for Martin too, into something just a little more comfortable.
As we had an early start, back to Yorkshire the following day, we didn't stay too late and we spent the rest of the evening catching up with friends, taking selfies and managing to put away plenty of pizza later on ... Well, it would have been rude not to.
It was a lovely wedding and we were really pleased to have been invited to share Chris and Jenny's special day with them.  Everything went really well, the venue was brilliant, I would definitely recommend it.

Martin and I both wish Chris and Jenny every happiness for this next phase of their life together.

Monday 11 January 2016

The West Wing, Crow Hill Estate - Marsden, Yorkshire

When did we visit?
21-28 December 2015

How many does it sleep?

How much was it?

Who did we book with?
Crow Hill Cottages

What were our initial impressions?
The house, I can't really call this a cottage, was in a lovely spot.  Just outside Marsden village, in its own grounds, surrounded by lovely countryside.

There was plenty of parking, but not right next to the front door, so unloading was a bit of a pain, involving a short flight of steps, which could make things a bit tricky in bad weather.

There was a lovely traditional Christmas wreath on the front door which looked very grand, but welcoming.
The house felt lovely and warm and was well furnished, though things seemed a bit tired in places, with some kitchen doors a bit rickety and the stair carpet a bit grubby.

There was a nice grand staircase in the entrance hall and plenty of space for coats and shoes.

The lounge was lovely with plenty of comfortable seating, there were six of us staying, a nice big TV, with Sky, and a Christmas tree in the corner.
The dining room and kitchen were nice and spacious, though we did have to negotiate on freezer availability, as what was available on arrival wasn't really sufficient for what we needed ... this issue was, however, soon resolved.
There was a welcome bottle of wine and box of biscuits, with some milk in the fridge.

There was also a utility room, which was lovely and cold, where we thought we would store all our Christmas drink and other provisions.

Also downstairs was one double bedroom and a shower room.

Upstairs there was a huge master bedroom, next to a nice master bathroom, and two lovely and cosy adjoining rooms, one twin and one double, with a small en suite.
There was additional access from the adjoining double room to the kitchen, via the old servants' staircase.

Overall it had a nice feel, it was a bit quirky, the views from all of the windows were of open countryside, there was plenty of room for all of us and we thought we'd settle in well.

Our likes over the course of our stay ...

Overall this cottage worked really well for the six of us staying there over the Christmas period ...

  • The weather was really bad during the course of our stay but we were lovely, warm and cosy.  It was also very easy to regulate the temperature, if it got just a little bit too warm
  • The adjoining twin and double bedrooms were lovely and cosy and very comfortable
  • There was a lovely range cooker in the kitchen, with double ovens, which made cooking, even Christmas dinner, easy for the six of us
  • The layout of the kitchen was great, making it easy for 'observers' to hang around without getting in the way of the 'chef'
  • The dining room worked really well too, with plenty of space for us to all eat together
  • We loved the lounge, there was plenty of room for all to spread out and be comfy when chilling out in the evening
  • It was a nice walk into the village, where there were plenty of shops, pubs and cafes and a nice walk to Standedge Tunnel
  • Compared to the cost of other places we had looked at to stay over the Christmas period, we felt that the cost of this one was really good value

Anything that could have made it better ...

There are just a few bits that could have made our stay even more comfortable ...

  • The master bedroom could have felt cosier.  It was huge, so space wasn't a problem, though it only had a normal double bed, and it had a wooden floor, so felt a bit empty. It would have been more cosy with carpeting and a big comfy sofa.
  • We did have a few issues with hot water from time to time, especially with the master bathroom shower.  I think we just needed to leave to run for quite a while for the hot water to come through
  • For those staying in the downstairs bedroom, the downstairs shower room involved a walk through the lounge, involving two separate steps, which was not ideal
  • For us, the kitchen was not that well equipped.  There were plenty of roasting pans, but not much in the way of serving dishes, no measuring jug, minimal utensils and not that many glasses, considering how many the house could sleep

Would we recommend this cottage to our friends and family?

Would we stay in this cottage again?
Definitely - it was really comfortable, good value and in a great location.

Monday 4 January 2016

Ameretto, Cranberry & Lime Cocktail

Whilst I do have lots to tell you about our Christmas break, which was completely different to usual this year, I thought I'd kick the New Year off with a cocktail recipe.

This has got to be my favourite cocktail of all time. It's dead simple to make and always delivers.

It is so simple that I've padded out the post with plenty of pictures!

  • 1 measure of Ameretto (or cheap imitation from Aldi if you are being economical - it tastes just as good, I promise)
  • 2 measures of cranberry juice
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • Ice
  • Lemonade

Add the Ameretto, cranberry, lime juice and ice to your cocktail shaker and ...... shake.  Note - Tastes better if someone else does the shaking!!
Pour into a glass and top up with lemonade or, if you are feeling really naughty, then use Cava or Asti.
Brilliant for any time or occasion.