Strolling Around Knaresborough

This past weekend, we experienced a bit of an Indian summer, so Richard and I wanted to make the most of the good weather and road tripped to Knaresborough in North Yorkshire for the afternoon. I had never been before and it had been years since Richard last visited the town, and since it is only about an hour drive from our house, we thought we’d head that way.

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What remains of Knaresborough Castle

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Knaresborough Castle from below

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The Viaduct (photo from my Instagram)

When we arrived we were both hungry and thirsty, so we zoomed around the grounds where the ruins of Knaresborough Castle are located and headed down the steep steps to the River Nidd. We came upon a few tea rooms and cafes along the way until we finally saw The World’s End pub and decided it was the perfect place for us that afternoon. I’m not sure if we were just really hungry or what, but we both really enjoyed our sandwiches and the side of chunky chips that we shared. Bellies full, we set off to explore the town a bit more.

Richard had told me about Mother Shipton’s Cave a few months ago (I have an odd fascination with caves, although this cave isn’t one that you really explore), so when we realized it was a walk across the bridge away, we decided to check it out. We paid our £6 per person (The estate is privately owned, so the admission helps with the maintenance of the park.) and set off on the walk along the River Nidd toward the Petrifying Well and the cave. We paid an extra quid for the guide to the area, so I read that aloud as we went along and we both learned some interesting facts about this supposedly magical place.

Mother Shipton’s Estate is actually the oldest tourist attraction in England and is part of both the Ancient Forest of Knaresborough as well as the Royal Forest. There are two things in particular though that have drawn visitors to the area since the 16th and 17th Centuries. The first being the Petrifying Well, also called the Dripping Well, known for its healing waters and the fact that it ‘petrifies’ items left in its stream of water for 3 months or more. The second being the cave that is the supposed birthplace of Mother Shipton, who was said to have been able to tell the future and apparently prophesied many events in British history. Along the path to the well and cave, there are some great views of the river and the sites along it.

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Weeping Willow along the Nidd

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Up close and personal with the Viaduct

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When we came upon the well, I was expecting it to be small and a slow trickle of water. However, it is rather large with the stream originating from an underground lake that keeps the water flowing over the mineralized wall at a steady rate. (The recording at the site did say the exact amount of water that flows over it per hour, but I cannot remember it. I blame baby brain.) People have been visiting the well since 1538 for it was said to have magical healing powers. No longer can you bathe and drink the waters in the well, but rather you will see items (somewhat eerily) hung in the well’s stream of water for petrification. In the tiny museum/gift shop, you can purchase one of their well known petrified teddy bears for around £35. Also, in the museum, you will find a number of items that celebrities have left to be petrified, including John Wayne’s personal hat that he gave to the family when he visited years back. Richard and I were quite mesmerized by the Petrifying Well and stood and stared at it for quite some time whilst listening to the audio recording about its history.

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The top of the well

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The items being petrified (Isn’t that doll slightly creepy?!)

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Looking at the Petrifying Well from the cave entrance (The Wishing Well is up the stairs to the right in the photo.)

Just a short walk from the well, you will find Mother Shipton’s Cave where she was said to have been born in 1488 and spent most of her life keeping to herself. As I mentioned above, it is a very small cave, almost like a den which would have provided shelter to her and her mother during their time living there. We sort of walked in and walked out as there isn’t much to see. Right across the way, you will find a Wishing Well, so I dug two 20p coins out of my purse and we followed the instructions on the sign for making a wish properly (keep your right hand in the water while making the wish, do not tell anyone what you wish for, and allow the water on your hand to dry naturally) before having a go.

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Excuse the red eye. I am still trying to master red eye reduction on iPhoto.

Wishes made and feeling like kids, we continued on the path to the museum and were impressed by the trees – some of which were originally planted in 1739 – towering above us along Beech Avenue. It is described as ‘the largest collection of oldest and tallest Beeches in the country.’ Not only are they old and tall, but they are extremely straight because their location in the gorge keeps them protected from damaging weather.

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I did mention the museum/gift shop is very tiny, but it is worth a nosey just to see some of the items that have been petrified in the well. It shares more about the legend of Mother Shipton and some information about Sir Edward Slingsby, the man who purchased the land. They also have a cross-section of one of the fallen beech trees from Beech Avenue marked with dates and what happened during those years to show how old the tree actually was, so it was neat to see what the tree had lived through.

After the museum stop, we headed back to the entrance and decided to call it a day. If you find yourself in the area, I do recommend a visit to Knareborough and even to Mother Shipton’s Cave. We both really enjoyed our day out in North Yorkshire (and an added bonus is that parking is cheap in the town car parks)! I definitely could see us going back on a slightly warmer day and having a go in the row boats you can rent to paddle up and down the river.

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I couldn’t resist snapping this photo as we passed a church walking back to the car. I just loved that the door was half open giving you a tiny glimpse into the dark corridor.

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{Road Trip} A Random Day in Edinburgh

Two Friday afternoons ago, a text came through from the Brit asking if I fancied a drive to Scotland on that Sunday. I’m always grateful for any time we can spend together, so of course I was up for it. He had to make the trip to Edinburgh for a project that was set for completion in a few days and I was happy for a change of scenery.

When we arrived in Edinburgh, he went off to the job site and sort of pointed me in the direction of the city centre. I’ve been to Edinburgh before, but did not recognize this area at all nor could I catch a glimpse of any of the landmarks I’m used to seeing tower over the city, such as the castle. So, I wandered aimlessly as I was in no rush to get anywhere.

One thing I try to do in a new city, especially when I’m on my own, is to attempt to appear like I know exactly what I am doing and where I am going, even if I have no idea. It’s easy really. You just keep your head up and shoulders back, you hope it’s sunny because your sunglasses can hide the fact that your eyes are darting around to find a familiar landmark or a street sign to clue you in to where you might actually be, and you walk with every ounce of self-assurance that you have. I practiced this on Sunday, and thankfully, it was sunny so the sunglasses could be put to good use. It was a beautiful day and very clear, which was a welcome break from the wintry mix we’ve been experiencing. (Yes, I love the snow, but I also love the sun.)

I finally stumbled upon Rose Street and followed that the entire way up until I realized I was near the Princes Street Gardens and the National Galleries of Scotland. Once there, I continued my wanderings until settling onto a park bench in the gardens to soak up the sun and enjoy the tranquility of the day.

Although we weren’t there very long, it was a nice afternoon out of the house and a fun reminder of how amazing it is that a random day in Scotland is never that far away.

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I’d love if you followed me on Instagram at yankinyorkshire.

{Flashback} My UK Hen Party

Let me just start by saying that I am incredibly lucky to have made friends with some amazing ladies after a mere 16 months in England. And, those lovely ladies took it upon themselves to make sure I left single-dom with a proper send-off! The funny thing is that in the short time I have known these ladies they have really gotten to know me so well. So well, in fact, that I don’t think I could have planned myself a better hen party! It was a fabulous weekend in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. (You might remember me writing about our other adventures in Newcastle when the Brit ran the Great North Run.) And, the fact that we were going to Newcastle was all I knew about the weekend until we arrived at the hotel! I have a love-hate relationship with surprises – I love them when I know nothing about them, but when I know something is happening in which I am being purposely kept out of the loop, then I am constantly dying to know what is going on. These ladies knew this about me, so I think they had fun torturing me. Also, I like to plan well in advance what I am wearing for big occasions, and I really stressed way too much about the packing portion until I was given extremely vague information a few days before our departure.

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The logo for the hen party!

So, I was picked up on a Saturday morning in October by my friends, Michelle and Jane, who were oh-so-secretive about putting the hotel address into the GPS while we laughed about how hilarious the whole thing was. We had a lovely drive up north chatting away, but once we got closer to Newcastle, I started to get a little more nervous about the unexpected. We walked into the Hotel Indigo, were greeted by the rest of the ladies (there were 8 of us in total), and off we went to explore/shop/lunch until a little later in the afternoon when our first activity was planned.

[If you are ever in Newcastle, I highly recommend the Hotel Indigo. Everything about it was spot on. It’s a fairly new hotel and very contemporary in the decor. It’s centrally located, which made it easy to walk to the shopping, a variety of restaurants, and the bars and clubs. The rooms were amazing. The beds were incredibly comfy. The staff at the hotel was so friendly and accommodating to our giggling group. The breakfast was delicious. I really cannot say enough good things about this hotel.]

Our first activity of the weekend was a cocktail-making class with one of the lead bartenders at the hotel. But, before that could get under way, I was presented with a Statue of Liberty crown with a veil attached as well as a sash that read ‘Miss America’s Hen Party’! It was so cute, and I’m not big on getting dressed up for these sorts of things. Each of us were given a goodie bag that included a mini cocktail-making kit, a booklet with cocktail menus, a booklet of Geordie English (Geordies are the people of Newcastle), plus the MOST amazing coasters made by my friend’s sister. (I should also note we commissioned her to do our wedding favors, which I can’t wait to share!) Each of our heads were super-imposed onto a pin-up girl with a cocktail name beside it. For example, I was Miss Mojito and you can seen mine in the center if the picture below. The ladies on the hen do each got the one of themselves, but I got a full set and I still can’t believe how cute they are!

There are 9 because they were nice enough to do one of my mom who couldn't be there!

There are 9 because they were nice enough to do one of my mom who couldn’t be there!

The plan was for the bartender/mixologist to teach us to make three different cocktails, he’d then make one of those cocktails for each person, and we would be brought fancy canapes between each round of drinks. The first drink we were taught was the French martini (delicious!) and that was followed by the mojito, which is one of my favorites, so the mixologist had me up at the front with him and instructed me through the process. The third cocktail was some sort of cream-based drink and none of us were keen on the combination, so the mixologist was extremely accommodating and allowed us to each pick any drink we wanted off the cocktail list and he made us each our own. It was really a great afternoon (and I’m not just saying that because I drank 3 full cocktails in a short amount of time!)!

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While we were enjoying the cocktails, we played a game that had us all laughing in between cringes, and I was presented with an incredibly touching book with messages from my family and friends from the States who couldn’t be there. (Cue ugly tears.) Since then, the seven women on the hen party have added their own messages as well and I read them all the day after our wedding. It was a lovely gesture.

I also should mention that I had not yet been to my room, so when we finished our cocktails and headed upstairs to get ready for the evening, I had a little audience outside as I walked in and I couldn’t quite understand why until I opened the door to see the most incredible (and huge!) arrangements of flowers from the Brit! I guess they all knew they were there, so wanted to see my reaction! He’s a good one, I tell ya!

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Once we were all ready to take on the night, we headed to Tokyo bar for a pre-dinner drink and some more games. (I’m not overly keen on games where I am the center of attention, but these games were all perfect and did not include me making a fool of myself. The only thing that happened was I had to tell my most embarrassing moment and the Brit’s mum was present when the story came out the first time in which she thought it was a joke, so now she knows that it was true! Awesome.) Then, it was time for dinner at Babucho, which is described as ‘New York style Italian brasserie and bar’… I can’t remember the exact pasta dish I had, but I know it was good and filling. It was so sweet of them to arrange for us to eat at a restaurant that would help me feel like I was back in the States!

We were all full from dinner, but ready for some dancing so off we went to the clubs. One of my friends is the most efficient party planner and organizer in the land, so she had called ahead and gotten us on the list for three clubs. This had us all laughing and saying everyone needs an Amber in their lives because she just gets stuff done! Because we were still stuffed from our meals, we each maybe had one cocktail the rest of the night and instead took turns buying rounds of water and Diet Coke — it was hilarious! Most sober hen party ever! But wow, did we have fun! We danced the night away hopping from Florita’s, Madame Koo’s, and one other (that I can’t remember the name of!). We had a great time and finally landed back in the hotel around 3:30 AM. (We were all terrible about taking photos, but just know we all looked glam in our frocks, and I was happy to prance around in my sequin dress from French Connection!)

The next morning, we all gathered for breakfast and some of the ladies set off while four of us stuck around. I, again, had no idea what the plan was, but I soon found out we were off for a morning at the Savannah Spa. I had an amazing massage, which included being able to choose the scent of oil the masseuse used on me. It was absolutely heavenly. Plus, I was able to indulge myself in the Aveda peppermint tea that I loved so much when I used to go to an Aveda salon in Washington for my hair cuts…yum. We chilled in the relaxation room until we all finished our treatments. At which point, we headed back home sufficiently relaxed.

It truly was an incredible weekend with such amazing ladies! I’m so thankful to have stumbled into these friendships!

{Road Trip} Nottinghamshire: Sherwood Forest CenterParcs

The two of us had been wanting to get away for awhile, but it’s just been a little hectic this summer. Plus, the Brit has to save up his holiday time not only for our wedding, but for my cousin’s wedding and for his stag do in November. So yea, it just wasn’t happening until he surprised me with a quick weekend away to CenterParcs!

I’d heard about CenterParcs from a few people, so had been wanting to check it out. I think the most unique aspect of CenterParcs is that you are not permitted to drive within the resort outside of check-in and check-out times on Mondays and Fridays. This was especially appealing to us because the Brit drives crazy distances and hours for work, so to park the car up and walk everywhere sounded fab.

Then, the Brit informed me that we would be renting bicycles as well. I truthfully cannot remember the last time I rode a bike, so I was nervous. I was glad there would be no cars around to crash into me, but I was a little unsure about how I would do. (Yes, I realize this sounds lame.)

I could not believe how many bikes they had for rent. This photo only shows half of them. I asked the guy who helped us if they ever rent them all out and he said during summer and school holidays they do rent the majority of them!

Anyway, we got to CenterParcs around 4:30 on Friday afternoon and immediately unloaded our stuff into our villa, so we could park the car and pick up our bikes. The villa we stayed in was Birch 463, which is a shared building with villas 464 and 465. Our villa was either recently built or recently renovated because Birch 463 is very modern and contemporary inside with a separate kitchen/living space, bedroom, and bathroom. (If you’d like to see what it looked like, then you can click here.) I think the other two villas were for 4 people while ours was for 2 and just the perfect size. Each has their own kitchen which is a nice perk if you are coming in larger groups and don’t want to eat at one of the restaurants every night.

Our section of the villa is the front part with the bikes in front of it. I realize it looks like there are no windows in our villa, but the whole back is floor-to-ceiling windows, so we had lots of natural light.

I have to show this picture I took of one of the treehouses, which appear to be absolutely incredible! They have 4 bedrooms with a separate games room, an outdoor hot tub, and a sauna. Anyone want to rent one of these with us for a weekend sometime – we could take turns cooking evening meals?! And, it just seems like such a fun thing to do with a group of friends!  

CenterParcs has a number of restaurants and places to grab a snack or even takeaway (Chinese, Indian, and pizza). They even have a market where you can pick up pretty much anything you might need to make a meal. On the first night, we walked into Strada, which is an Italian restaurant, without a reservation and were seated right away. I imagine if you visit during peak times, especially school holidays, that this wouldn’t happen because the restaurant was still packed during this low time.

There also are a lot of activities available to participate in and for all age ranges because CenterParcs does really cater to families. There is even a spa, which we didn’t use but I would definitely check out if we ever return. A few weeks prior to our arrival, we each picked an activity and signed up for those. I wanted to do stand-up paddleboarding, but wasn’t too keen on being colder than I normally am or to do this in the rain. Instead, I chose hydrospinning. Yes, spinning in the pool! I take a spin class here, so I thought this could be good fun. We both ended up loving it and got a killer workout. If you have an opportunity to try this, I would highly recommend it! The Brit chose badminton. So, on Sunday morning, he crushed me in game after game of badminton for nearly an hour. This proved to be another amazing workout for us and we had so much fun laughing at ourselves!

Other highlights for me include the water slides in the Subtropical Swimming Paradise (felt like a kid again!), our meal on Saturday night at Forester’s Inn which included a delicious lamb shank on mashed potatoes and a slice of apple pie for dessert, a Sunday mid-afternoon snack of a waffle with berries and ice cream at the The Pancake House on the lake, and not crashing my bike (seriously!). We took some long walks, watched the Ryder Cup in the pub in the Jardin des Sports, and slept. It was a relaxing weekend and I don’t think either of us were ready for it to end!

Back to Wales for Celebration #3

The weekend that we went to the races for my second birthday celebration also happened to be a bank holiday weekend meaning Monday was a holiday here. With the extra-long weekend, we decided to head to back to Abersoch for Sunday and Monday.

We were hoping for a true summer day to spend at the beach and on the sea. And luckily, we had fabulous weather on Sunday! Unfortunately, I took zero photos because I was too busy absorbing every ray of sun that came my way, so you’ll have to check out my last three posts on Abersoch to check out the views! I really wish I would have taken some though because the beach was absolutely packed with people trying to enjoy what little summer we have had this year.

The Brit’s mum had packed some treats for us plus some fizz, so we enjoyed a nice little picnic on the beach along with sandwiches and burgers from the little cafe on Abersoch Beach. The sun stayed strong into the early afternoon then it got a little cooler when the wind blew, but it was so enjoyable to be outside.

That evening, we had a reservation at the Venetia for a nice meal. This is the same place where we had a meal and we stayed for the Brit’s sister’s birthday in summer 2011, so we were excited to go back with the Brit’s parents. Whilst we were sat in the bar checking out the menu and enjoying a drink, the lovely owner asked if I was the one who wrote the blog post about them the summer before! I think I blushed a little, but it was so neat that she said something — so thank you if you are reading this! 🙂

This is the lone photo we have from the weekend showing us happy and sun-kissed:

Our meal and entire dining experience was fabulous once more (and I’m not just saying this knowing the owners might be reading this post!). I wish I could remember what I had, and I should have written it down knowing I wouldn’t be writing a post about the meal until after I finished my dissertation, but I did not. It was all delicious — from starter to dessert, we enjoyed it all! It was so nice to celebrate my 30th for the 3rd time in such a great place!

We had a fairly early night and awoke to blowing wind and pounding rain, so we set off for home in the morning as soon as we realized we wouldn’t have another beach day. It truly was a great bank holiday weekend!

{Road Trip} The ‘Great’ North

Two weekends ago, we road tripped further north to Durham on Saturday then to Newcastle-upon-Tyne on the Sunday. This weekend away was prompted by the Brit’s participation in the Great North Run. (Does the post title make more sense now? :))

It just so happened that the Brit’s friend was also running the race, so he and his wife took the train up from London and we all made the trip north together. I love road trips with friends because the time just flies by as we’re chatting away and catching up on each other’s lives. The two and a half hours was gone in a flash.

We (really the Brit) were in charge of the hotel for Saturday night and they were in charge of the hotel for Sunday night. So, for ‘our’ hotel, we stayed at the Durham Marriott Royal County right in the city center. Upon entering, the staff offered us a glass of wine plus canapés. We all indulged in a glass of wine…we were on a short holiday, after all! After enjoying some more chit-chat in the lounge, we made our way to our rooms, which were nice, clean, and spacious plus with a jacuzzi tub for two in the bathroom. Not that I was surprised, but the Brit had made a great choice!

We strolled around Durham for a bit and towards the Durham Cathedral. To me, it’s a city that personifies what I always pictured of Britain before I visited for the first time in March 2010…cobbled stone streets with not many cars, little shops lining the streets, a castle and a massive cathedral overlooking the city. It was this perfect combination of quaintness and beauty that made Durham so charming.

Streets of Durham

Durham Cathedral is completely awe-inspiring. We toured the interior with mouths agape for most of it. (Sadly, we could not take photos inside, but check out the photos on the web site.) The stained glass, the spires, the tombs, the organ, and the overall attention to intricate detail…it was just phenomenal.

The center spire of the Cathedral.

The view from our hotel room window as sun shines upon Durham Cathedral on Sunday morning.

Durham Castle overlooking the River Wear.

That night, we enjoyed a delicious and fun meal of tapas at La Tasca. The guys probably drank a bit too much wine the night before a big race, but the four of us had a wonderful time laughing and eating!

The next day, we enjoyed the hotel breakfast, which was included in our room price. Of course, the typical English breakfast was being offered with bacon, eggs, beans, tomatoes, potatoes…you get the picture. But, the runners chose wisely and avoided those foods (as did I). Hilariously, after the Brit finished his porridge, he went to get some toast and as soon as he sat down to the table, I was overwhelmed with the smell of garlic. He had actually toasted garlic bread and put jam on it! He didn’t realize until I mentioned it smelled of garlic. Awesome morning selection! 😉

Soon, we were off on the 30-minute drive to Newcastle-upon-Tyne, where the Great North Run would start. Luckily, we were able to find the hotel, so we could leave the car and our bags there until we were able to check in. You could tell the guys were getting a bit nervous as we started the long walk to the start line. It was a nice way to enjoy a little tour of the city, though I think I was the only one actually looking around! (I’m not afraid to admit I can sometimes be a bit of a tourist!)

Situated at our place for the start... This run is apparently the world's largest half marathon. I don't doubt it. There were masses of people everywhere.

We said our goodbyes to the guys and wished them lots of luck. We met up with another friend whose girlfriend was running the race and had just come into town for the day. Once we found him, the three of us situated ourselves close to the start to try to spot our runners at the beginning of the race. Immediately before the start the Red Arrows, which are the Royal Air Force’s acrobatic team, did a fly-over and then the elite male runners were off followed closely (but only for a short while!) by the rest of the pack.

The Red Arrows at the start...quite cool!

In the throngs of people, I caught a glimpse of the Brit, but we didn’t see the other two. So, after waiting for quite some time to see them, we decided it was likely we missed them and took off to South Shields via the Metro train to hopefully see the three of them as they finished.

The Brit is in the blue shirt and black shorts almost exactly in the middle of the photo right before coming upon the blue column thingy.

It was wishful thinking to believe we could make it from where we were to the finish in enough time to see them cross the finish line. We were still on the Metro when I got a text from the Brit’s mum saying she just saw him finish on tv. (This race is such a big deal that it was broadcast on BBC!) Mr. Speed Demon totally surpassed his goal time! Once off the train, we still had about a 20-minute walk to the finish. So, a solid 25 minutes after he finished we found him and gave him his jacket and change of clothes. We tracked the other two runners (they also did awesome!) down shortly after and walked to the pub for a celebratory pint…or three.

Happy guys, after the race!

So proud of this guy!

Soon, we said goodbye to the two friends who had just come up for the day and we headed back to the hotel. The Hotel du Vin, which our friends chose, is quite posh. Our rooms had two levels with the bathrooms complete with claw-footed tub and enormous walk-in shower, which were situated upstairs. The toilet and a very small sink were downstairs. (There was a large sink in the upstairs bathroom area.) I wish that I could remember the name of the room (it started with a ‘Y’, I think) we stayed in, but each is named after a brand of wine. Our room was situated in the new section of the hotel, which you can see in the photos below.

The downstairs in our room.

The bathroom area upstairs.

This is the courtyard of the hotel -- the main entrance is to the left, the Bistro is directly in front, and the building we stayed in is to the right.

Since the hotel is a little outside the city center, we chose to eat at the hotel bistro that night. According to our friends, the Hotel du Vin chain is known for its attention to food and wine. The food was good, but the service could be improved. We received the best service from the sommelier, who not only knew the wine list impeccably, but also the entire menu. Of course, he was not serving us, but did help us quite a bit. It was a night to celebrate though, so we brushed off the service and enjoyed each other’s company!

Overall, a great weekend with friends! Big congrats to the Brit for his incredible finish in the Great North Run!

{Road Trip} Abersoch, Wales: Part 2

For Part I, go here!

The view of the sea from the back deck of the hotel across the street from the Venetia.

I truthfully was not sure what to expect of the village of Abersoch. I assumed it would be fairly small and perhaps similar to some of the lesser-known beach communities in parts of the northwestern U.S. I was sort of right.

The main street through the village.

Aside from the beach, most people spend time on one main street, which was home to restaurants, pubs, and shops. The Venetia is located on one end of this street making it an easy walk (no more than 5 to 7 minutes) to any of those places.

Because of the weather, the beach was empty on our second day in Abersoch, but we really enjoyed being out there with no one around.

Although the weather was quite gray on our second day, it was still nice to walk around the village browsing the shops and stopping for a pint on the patio of a pub. Even a walk along the sea and the beach were high points of our stroll on this overcast day. I’m always in awe how seas and oceans carry a sense of beauty with them, regardless of weather.

See what I mean? Still beautiful on a cloudy day!

As I mentioned in Part I, we had dinner at the Venetia on our second night. Because it was half birthday dinner for the Brit’s sister and half engagement party for her and her fiancé, we had a quite a group — fifteen of us in total! This is definitely a large party for such a small restaurant, so they split us into two tables next to each other.

One thing I’ve grown to appreciate (and really love) about dining in nicer restaurants in the UK is how the ordering of the meal happens. Most times, you will take a seat in the bar/lounge area of the restaurant where you will order a drink and be handed the menu. While enjoying your drink and your company, you peruse the menu and place your order for your starter and main course before being seated at the table where you will dine. I usually order a fun drink, like a glass of champagne or a mixed drink, and then we order a bottle of wine to go with dinner. The restaurant at the Venetia was the same. So, it was fun to chat and mingle with our group of 15 before we were seated separately.

Sunburned and happy in the bar at the Venetia!

The restaurant focuses on using local foods, especially produce and seafood that is in season. Because this was in early June, I don’t completely remember what I had for dinner. (Oops.) I can tell you though that not one person had a bad meal. Everything from the presentation to the taste was spot on. For dessert, I ordered the crème brûlée, which is one of my favorite desserts. Wow. They gave me two of them and it was great with the crispy sugar top and custardy center! I ate one and the Brit ate the other (along with his dessert). 🙂

Honestly, the food was incredibly delicious and the service was impeccable, especially handling such a large group! I would definitely recommend trying their restaurant if in Abersoch and would suggest making a reservation, particularly during the summer months.

We had a wonderful time in Abersoch, and I was so glad to finally see the place I’d been hearing about for so long. The village is so low-key and just a great place to relax. Abersoch didn’t let me down and I truthfully can’t wait to go back!

{Road Trip} Abersoch, Wales: Part I

Not long after the Brit and I started dating, he sent me a cell phone picture of the coast of the little seaside village of Abersoch. He always spoke fondly of Abersoch as it’s a place he grew up visiting with his family and we talked about visiting during my 5-week stay this summer. So, when it was decided Abersoch was where we would be celebrating his sister’s 30th birthday, I was really excited!

Welcome to Wales...

The roughly 2 1/2 hour drive (or 2 hour drive when the Brit is driving!) was quite beautiful as much of it follows the coast. Soon, we had arrived at the boat yard in Pwllheli (pronounced puth-HEL-ee) and we were off on the boat to meet the rest of the group. We really  enjoyed the boat ride to Pwllheli, even though it only takes about 15 minutes. The weather was surprisingly good (much nicer than expected) and the views are stunning.

My mom asked me if there was snow on that hill. I should probably start speaking better about the weather in the UK (or learn to take better photos)!

Abersoch is just past that cliff....along with 10 million jellyfish.

We dropped anchor off the beach in Abersoch and all I saw were jellyfish. A lot of jellyfish. Keep in mind, we still had to wade in waist-deep water to get to shore. I’m not usually one to shy away from jumping into water (okay, that might be a small white lie…I am terrified of sharks and other random creatures lurking below), but no way was I getting off that boat and risking a jellyfish sting!

So, the Brit waded to shore narrowly avoiding the sting of no less than 1,000 jellyfish. Meanwhile, I’m on the back of the boat waving to everyone. Ha. Finally, I got the courage to jump into the water and another jellyfish floated by right where I had planned to jump. This happened roughly 5 more times before the Brit took pity on me. He waded back to the boat and proceeded to carry me piggy-back style to shore while I yelled about the jellyfish coming right at us from every direction. Real smooth, Yank, real smooth.(I realize I’m not doing a good job of selling Abersoch. I swear the jellyfish are not always there…only once in awhile. In fact, most of them were gone by later in the afternoon!)

Half of the beach in Abersoch is for swimming and the other half is for boats and jet skis to anchor offshore. The boat-friendly half of the beach is also car-friendly, so people actually launch their boats and jet skis from there. It’s quite a neat system they had set up. The weather was absolutely beautiful that day, so we enjoyed time on the boat and sitting on the beach. It was actually quite hot, but the sea breeze kept you at a perfect temperature.

The Brit showing off his mad wake boarding skills!

After our afternoon on the beach, we were all ready for a shower and a rest. We had arrived too early that morning to check into our hotel, so it was perfect timing for us to take the boat back to Pwllheli and head straight to The Venetia. We received a warm welcome from one of the staff members, who was actually an American woman married to a Welsh man! She took us to our room and showed us where everything was and how our keys worked. Of course, once in the room, my eyes went straight to the tray of freshly-cut strawberry slices and homemade chocolate truffles. (The Brit and I finished those off in 0.2 seconds…so yummy!)

Such a cute place...we stayed in Room Due which are the windows on the top left.

The Venetia is a boutique hotel with five charming and amazingly modern rooms. The rooms are impeccably clean as are the bathrooms. After long days out and about, it was so nice to return to such a comfortable space and fall into such a fabulously comfortable bed, too.

The Venetia boasts a fabulous in-house restaurant. Breakfast is included in the room cost and is delicious. (We also had dinner at the restaurant one night, which I’ll talk about in the next installment!) I’m completely blanking on what I ordered on the first morning, but I know for certain I had the lemon and sugar crepes the following morning. Wow. They were perfectly balanced in flavor with sweet and sour. The crepes were perfectly thin, light, yet surprisingly fluffy in texture. For those craving the traditional English-style breakfast, that was an option as well.

We all had a good chuckle when I ordered water for my drink and the waiter thought I had asked for a latte! I said water a few more times before the Brit just said it and then all was cleared up. The waiter even laughed at that point! (I wish I could say this was the first time that has happened as I attempted to order water! Oh well, it goes with the territory! :))

This is getting quite long, so I’ll continue in another post tomorrow!