Betsy Loves, Culture, Fashion, Food, Travel

London, baby

Like the wonderful mummy she is, Momma P treated me to a jaunt to London. I capitalised (see what I did there?…) and popped down a few days early and managed to fit in seeing some of my very favourite people (shout out to Ashley and Jack; Katie, Hannah, Rach and Kimmelman; Jack and Wes; and finally Pidg), as well as cramming in some shopping (silk shirts from Uniqlo, anyone?), lots of walking (more than 20 miles in 3 days. No exaggeration!), and lots of yummy food.

Once Momma P arrived 48 hours later, we geeked out and ‘did’ the new Ancient Egypt, mummy exhibition at the British Museum – fascinating, really well curated and presented – a definite thumbs up from us; followed immediately by the Wedding Dress exhibition at the V&A – also brilliantly curated with the highlight for me being Kate Moss’ incredible Galliano gown.

Then, with two pairs of very very tired feet, we caught the train back to York. Here’s until next time!

 

The BEST pancakes with maple syrup and streaky bacon at Gail's Kitchen

The BEST pancakes with maple syrup and streaky bacon at Gail’s Kitchen

Blueberry and Elderflower Fizz

Blueberry and Elderflower Fizz

Tasted so much better than it looked - a sort of chocolate ganache on a biscuit base with hazelnuts on the side.

Tasted so much better than it looked – a sort of chocolate ganache on a biscuit base with hazelnuts on the side.

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Standard Kings X

This amazing old fashioned art supply shop just a stone's throw from the British Museum

This amazing old fashioned art supply shop just a stone’s throw from the British Museum

Aren't the pigments amazing?

Aren’t the pigments amazing?

I love a good window display

I love a good window display

The Wedding Dress exhibition, here we come!

The Wedding Dress exhibition, here we come!

But first, Disobedient Objects exhibition

But first, Disobedient Objects exhibition

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Ahahaha. A classic.

Ahahaha. A classic.

A good one for the collection

A good one for the collection

Amen

Amen

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But, of course

But, of course

Now for the dresses...

Now for the dresses…

Gwen Stefani's ombre pink dress, with a very spangly number in front

Gwen Stefani’s ombre pink dress, with a very spangly number in front

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Kate Moss' dress by Galliano

Kate Moss’ dress by Galliano

It was my favourite - can you tell.

It was my favourite – can you tell?

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I die. So much love for the sparkles.

I die. So much love for the sparkles.

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Betsy Loves, Food, Travel

Castles, cake and cream tea (and chorizo, and chocolate, and chips…)

Those of you who know your Waugh might be aware of Castle Howard. It’s been the setting for both film adaptations of Brideshead Revisited, but that aside, it’s a pretty impressive stately home. I’ve visited before with Momma P, but Danners and I decided to get some photography practice in, and with the weather playing ball, we thought we’d drive out to the country. I’m not sure how great the photos are, but the cream tea, ice cream, and sweets more than make up for them. The finale to our day was dinner at Bill’s – York’s newest restaurant. Anywhere that has chorizo, sweet potato chips and chocolate dipping sauce on its menu is going to be fine by me.

A civilised setting for lunch

A civilised setting for lunch

Decisions to be made while we wait for a table

Decisions to be made while we wait for a table

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Cream tea to share

Cream tea to share

Wedge-sized ham sandwiches

Wedge-sized ham sandwiches

We resisted the urge to hop on the tractor

We resisted the urge to hop on the tractor

One of many cenotaphs

One of many cenotaphs

Aaaaand there it is!

Aaaaand there it is!

Not bad for the back of the house

Not bad for the back of the house

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Smile!

Smile!

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The writing desk that would help me pen a bestseller...

The writing desk that would help me pen a bestseller…

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Eerie, yes?

Eerie, yes?

Every home should have a corridor of busts

Every home should have a corridor of busts

As entrance halls go, it's a corker

As entrance halls go, it’s a corker

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I thought the light looked pretty

I thought the light looked pretty

I'm sure I must be in here somewhere

I’m sure I must be in here somewhere

A sort of 'sorry you lost' scroll from the people of West Yorkshire to an unsuccessful Howard MP

A sort of ‘sorry you lost’ scroll from the people of West Yorkshire to an unsuccessful Howard MP

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That's you, Mr T

That’s you, Mr T

Sweeeeeets

Sweeeeeets

Giant strawbs. The best kind of sweet

Giant strawbs. The best kind of sweet

Cinder toffee. Om nom

Cinder toffee. Om nom

Danners realises she made an AWFUL choice with rum and raisin

Danners realises she made an AWFUL choice with rum and raisin

I should have saved some of my ice cream for this part

I should have saved some of my ice cream for this part

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What shall I photograph next?

What shall I photograph next?

The rather majestic front view

The rather majestic front view

A bit of a 'water feature'

A bit of a ‘water feature’

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Hide and seek

Hide and seek

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Entering the Rose Garden

Entering the Rose Garden

Small child not mine

Small child not mine

I promise the skies were blue!

I promise the skies were blue!

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Castle Howard's own jam. Very fancy

Castle Howard’s own jam. Very fancy

Back to York for supper at its newest restaurant - Bill's

Back to York for supper at its newest restaurant – Bill’s

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Crispy squid

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Chicken and chorizo burger. Yummy

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Sweet potato fries. My favourite!

Cinnamon doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce, and pecan pie

Cinnamon doughnuts with chocolate dipping sauce, and pecan pie

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Betsy Loves, Food, Travel

Afternoon Tea at The Devonshire Arms

Yesterday was another good day at the office; or more correctly, not at the office. At The Devonshire Arms at Bolton Abbey. For Afternoon Tea. Oooooooooh, I hear you cry. How swish! And you’d be right.

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Another local(ish) place I’ve never made it to before, the drive from York was glorious – incredible Dales scenery, tummy-dropping dips, two separate rain storms and plenty of time to sing along to Taylor Swift.

I arrived a bit earlier than my colleague so there was plenty of time to potter around and take some snaps. I’ll grant you that from the outside, the hotel doesn’t look super duper impressive, and it was quite grey at that point, but inside, I was enchanted. It plays to the whole rustic theme beautifully but then throws in expertly chosen contemporary elements, such as the gorgeous black flocked wallpaper in a cosy little sitting area – who doesn’t love velvet dachshunds?

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We were booked into the conservatory area for our Devonshire Fizz Afternoon Tea, and by then the sun had come out and was streaming through the windows. Mr P (that’s Poppa P, except no one would call him that…) would have approved of the pristine white tablecloths with matching napkins, while the polished silverware would have made his little heart sing.

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Within moments, two flutes of Laurent Perrier NV were popped in front of us. What a delight. Our lovely waiter offered us a selection of tea and coffee. I went for peppermint as I felt it might somehow counteract the insane amount of sugar that I was about to consume. (Update: it didn’t, but it was still tasty.)

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Then our cake stand arrived. Now, I’ve had Afternoon Tea before. Don’t sound all surprised, guys. I know I’m usually a lettuce-munching exercise fiend (cough), but wowwwwwwweeeeeeee. Not your traditional fancy silver cake stand, instead, we were presented with a modern right-angled jobbie with three tiers of goodness.

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First up – individual pots of strawberry and custard, blueberry and lemon shortbread, chocolate brownies, and raspberry and white chocolate macaroons.

I could happily have pounced on them, but the grown up in me forced me to look one tier down to the sandwiches – dainty fingers of brown and white bread with egg mayonnaise, smoked salmon, cucumber, cheese, chicken, and ham. They probably have really fancy names like Yorkshire’s finest Ham from Hand Reared, Bottle Fed, Christened in a Church, and Read Bedtime Stories, Local, Organic Pigs; ditto with the other fillings, although how you hand rear cheese is beyond me… in fact, scratch that, I don’t want to know. Shudder. Whatever their official titles, the sandwiches were tasty, alright? But once they were finished, that meant I could move on to the good stuff.

All of tier number one disappeared into my mouth. And I loved every single mouthful. Every. Single. Mouthful. Although would it have killed them to have two brownies EACH?…

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Finally, the cream tea part. The scones with clotted cream and jam. Now, if you’re Cornish, you pop the jam on first, and then the cream, but we were at The Devonshire Arms, so it was cream first, and frankly, that’s the way I like it anyway. We each had two individual scones to scoff – one plain and one with raisins (or dead flies as they’re universally known). I collared a waiter to ask for more cream. Obviously.

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You’d think I’d be STUFFED by now, and I admit I was filling up, but I hadn’t had lunch, and I was also kidding myself that this would be tea. Anyhoo, with the tiers in front of me depressingly empty, and the pot of clotted cream scraped out with a finger (I may or may not be joking about this. Who knows?… You know, right? You know…) I was forced to realise that there would be no more sugar coming my way.

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Wiping a tear away, I luxuriated in the warm embrace of the conservatory watching the clouds skitter across the blue sky and the bushes of lavender sway in the light breeze, and then I went home to Mr T.

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And here’s some more pics that didn’t fit neatly into my genius narrative…

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Betsy Loves, Food, Travel

Ripley Castle

Sometimes I love my job. Yesterday was one of those days because I had to go and do a food review at Ripley Castle. I wasn’t really sure what to expect as Ripley doesn’t have a restaurant per se, instead, they offer catering for events from as small as an intimate birthday dinner, to a 200 guest wedding. We’d been told we were going to try a 3-course bespoke menu so I, for one, was excited.

Even though I’m from the area (and went to school with one of the kids who lives in the Castle) I’ve never visited before so I was bowled away by the beautiful village of Ripley. It is gorgeously quaint, and if you take away the cars, you could be in the 1800s. Then we reached the Castle, and it’s a proper castle, even if it’s not as big as Windsor. It’s got whacking great crenellations and a prison block, and there are even musket holes in the walls from where they lined prisoners up during the Civil War and shot them… It’s also got a priest hole, as the Ingilbys (the owners) have always been committed Catholics. The same family has been there for more than 700 years, which is pretty impressive too. It really is a wonderful place, and I got my history geek on. I’m definitely coming back for the official guided tour and I’m bringing Danners or Mr T.

Anyway, to the food. O. M. G. The chef, Ollie, is clearly a culinary genius. To start, we tucked into salmon and langoustine ravioli with crushed peas and han-shineji mushrooms. It looked beautiful, and it tasted even better. Apparently it was served at a private celebration dinner a few weeks ago. Lucky things!

For the main, we were treated to fillet of beef with braised ox cheek, sweet potato puree, shallots and girolles. Apparently, one of the Ingilby sons is getting married in a few months, and this is his main course…for 200 people! It was my idea of heaven, and so far removed from the dry chicken breast you often get served at weddings.

Finally, we had a honey and garden borage pannacotta with blood orange sorbet and a fennel crumb. As pretty as picture, it tasted pretty darn good too, and this is coming from the girl with a serious chocolate problem.

All in all, I had a wonderful few hours at Ripley Castle. I thoroughly recommend you pop over for a visit of the house and the gardens if you get a chance. Although you might not be treated to a meal as excellent as ours, the village of Ripley has a pub, The Boar’s Head, also owned by the Ingilbys, is meant to be brilliant.

 

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Travel, Writing

City Guides – Do you want to share your city?

Yesterday I posted my guide to my home city, York, and I had a lovely response from people.

I’m really hoping to feature some more city guides from people in the know. Would you like to contribute? Do you know someone who would? Please let me know and hopefully I can get the ball rolling!

It doesn’t matter how big or how small; town or city; in England or further afield; or perhaps even just a pocket of a city, like Clapham in London; I think it’s great to have an insight, so please get in touch!

 

 

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Betsy Loves, Travel

My city – York

I’ve been thinking about starting a series of City Guides as I think it’s great to arrive in a new place armed with a handful of personal recommendations. It can make all the difference to a trip.

I’ve spent most of my life in York; I absolutely adore it, so here’s my guide to the city.

Favourite cafe – You’re spoilt for choice in York for gorgeous eateries, you really are, and there are often new ones popping up. At the moment, I’m loving Brew and Brownie which does an amazing BLT, as well as (you guessed it) killer brownies, as well as pancake stakes and other lovely stuff. Mannion & Co (which I’ve mentioned before) does tasty scrambled eggs and they serve their tea in gorgeous Japanese pots. Of course, there’s Bettys too, which you really shouldn’t miss. Their hot chocolate is to die for, and their Welsh Rarebit also hits the spot.

Favourite bar – Banyan does a great selection of cocktails; my fave is the Moroccoy Mai Tai. There’s also The Biltmore Bar and Grill which has loads to choose from, but I love the Pornstar Martini (don’t judge!) or the Pink Lemonade.

Favourite restaurant – If you love French food, then you HAVE to check out Rustique. They have two locations in town – one on Castlegate (the original) and one off Lendal Bridge. Both are great, but the original takes the edge slightly, I think. Most of the restaurants you walk into in York will serve you up a cracking meal. Honourable mentions – Ate O’Clock, Evil Eye, The Whippet Inn, Mumbai Lounge, Khao San Rd, Il Paradiso del Cibo, El Piano, and Rice Style.

Favourite pub – A new(ish) opening in King’s Square called The Duke of York. It’s got a great atmosphere and it’s quite traditional in an updated ‘hip’ sort of way. There’s also Guy Fawkes which is awesome in winter – all dark and lit with candles and does a yummy mulled cider. Oh, and The Whippet Inn is great too (and its food’s not bad either!).

Favourite walk – I love to walk the City Walls, which is free and offers great views. There’s also a little tour of the snickelways and passages which you can follow yourself when you buy the guidebook. And if you’re here in winter, book on a Ghost Walk. Yes, it may be a bit naff, but York is full of gruesome stories. If you like running, I can’t recommend trotting alongside the river enough. You might have to weave your way through some tourists but it’s great, especially when you get up to Rowntree Park. In the summer, there’s even an ice cream boat just waiting on the banks!

Unmissable – This could never be anything other than The Minster for me. I was a chorister here when I was little so it holds a really special place in my heart. You have to pay a few quid to get in, but I really think it’s worth it. It’s so peaceful (and cool) inside. The architecture is stunning, there are little side chapels you can bob into and light a candle of remembrance, you can join a tour, climb the Tower or venture into the Undercroft. I also love The Holy Trinity Church, on Goodramgate.

Places to avoid – If you love trains, then the National Railway Museum is a must-see; if, like me, you’re not bothered, then I wouldn’t waste valuable time there. That being said, it is free. I’d DEFINITELY avoid York’s newest attraction The Chocolate Story. It’s overpriced and every time I’ve been at least one of the interactive displays are broken.

Best time to visit – I’d say springtime. In Christmas and high summer, the crowds can be a little overwhelming.

Best place to stay – I’ve not stayed overnight in a hotel here, because, you know, I live here, but I’d always recommend opting for something other than your bog standard Holiday Inn, however, hopefully, you’ll be out and about anyway so you won’t be spending much time there.

Best way to get around – On foot, for sure. York’s not very big so you can easily walk around it. Cyclists take their lives into their hands, in my opinion! Also, for visitors, there’s a Hop On Hop Off bus that’s useful.

Best shop – Again, we’re spoiled, but I love the newly revamped Waterstones which has a great local fiction section, but the real favourite has to be The Imaginarium on Blake Street. It’s absolutely glorious – full of beautiful objects that you don’t need but want desperately. There are engraved science flasks, ceramic jewellery, scented candles, hand printed cards, woollen throws in gorgeous colours, elegant tea cups, bell jars; it really is special. Also, next door, the same couple run The Yorkshire Soap Co, which is pretty magical too.

What should you pack? Definitely a brolly or raincoat, comfortable shoes, maybe a guidebook if you want to explore properly.

If you venture further afield, where should you go? Hmmm. Castle Howard is spectacular and so is Fountains Abbey. If you’ve got kids, Newby Hall is always a good shout.

So there you have it, my guide to York. I know I’ll have missed loads off places and I could have written for hours and hours and hours, but I had to stop somewhere! I hope this is helpful to you guys if you ever come this way. Drop me a line and I’ll come and scoff a brownie with you!

Would you like to submit a City Guide for your city? Let me know, as I’d love to feature some guest writers.

 

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Culture, Travel

Glastonbury? No, thanks.

Glastonbury kicks off today. If you managed to nab a ticket, you won’t be reading this because you’re trying to pitch a tent in Somerset. Good for you. I’m sitting on my sofa with Wimbledon on in the background. Good for me. For the next four days, I’ll get up, take a shower, wash my hair, put on clean clothes, my mask of make up, dry my hair, potter to my kitchen for some cereal and then carry out whichever plans I have for the day. If it rains, I’ll duck under a brolly, or inside. If I need the toilet, I’ll use my own, which will have plenty of loo roll. If I fancy listening to some music I’ll whip out my iPhone. Life will be peachy.

Before you think that I’m bitterly bashing Glasto because I didn’t get a ticket, hold your horses. Some day, I’d love to go; I really would, but just not in a tent. I’ve been to festivals before, more than I can count on two hands, and I’ve camped. And I’m over it now. It wasn’t the revolting portaloos at Leeds Festival that turned me off for good; or sharing a tent with a guy who it turned out I had nothing in common with and neither of us really liked the other; or even having various things stolen over the years. As it turns out, Leeds Fest is harmless.

One summer, I stupidly allowed myself to be talked into going to Benicassim in Spain after graduation. It was meant to be a treat – a glorious sunny summer festival on the coast with my closest friends and an awesome line-up. I’m not joking or exaggerating, it ended up being one of the worst experiences of my entire life.

There’s not much in the way of grass in Spain, not in 40C heat, so we pitched our tent as best we could on the rubble, actual rubble that looked like it had been salvaged from a quarry. There were two campsites to choose from, each hosting several thousand revellers, and each boasting five toilet blocks. That’s it. Five. So ten in total. For about 10,000 people. They weren’t so bad the first day, but by the second, the bottom of each shower was filled with inches of filthy water which you had to stand in, and contribute to, for however long you could bear. Toilet roll was gone by then too. Obviously. I hadn’t realised that Benicassim is renown for being a very ‘druggy’ festival, so by Day Three, and – I. Am. Not. Lying. – there was crap, literal human crap, smeared all over the walls. It was absolutely vile.

Throw into that mix trying to sleep in high 30C heat (impossible), a freak hurricane and forest fire that meant one night was cancelled (I don’t blame youKings of Leon) which led to an impromptu riot which saw coaches being rocked almost over, glass bottles being thrown, and sadly a few people dying, and it was hell.

Clearly there were some insane and uncontrollable circumstances going on, but I vowed never to go to a festival ever again. And I haven’t since then – five years ago.

The horror has faded a bit, and it’s become a mildly amusing story to tell, so I’m slowly beginning to consider festivals again, but I will never camp. Give me a camper van, complete with a shower, a toilet, a bed, a fridge, fresh clothes, space and a lock on the door and I think I might just about manage it.

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