Our house renovation dream

The Wensleydale Heifer, also known as our new favourite place

In our lives before renovating the house, we used to spend all of our disposable income at the weekend. Typically heading up to the Dales, the Lakes or Scotland, our favourite weekend activities usually involved a long walk and a lovely hotel to wind down in. Then the house got in the way and our weekends involved tooling up and breaking something or something along those lines.

This year, we’re giving back to ourselves a little bit and for Paul’s birthday I arranged a weekend at The Wensleydale Heifer and bought their “winter warmer” package as a treat. The treat involved a night in any of their incredible themed rooms, a 3 course dinner and a Yorkshire breakfast to rival no other, (seriously, best breakfast I’ve eaten for some time!) as well as some lovely treats and special touches thrown in.

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This weekend treat was a little bit different, as although it was Paul’s birthday treat, Paul had sneakily asked me to marry him the night before we headed up to the Dales! We took the weekend as our special secret and felt like we were running away. We kept our engagement to ourselves for 2 precious days and I’m so glad we did. I’m the first to get on the blower to my sister as soon as something important happens but I resisted on this occasion only and my family got the surprise when we got back. If you’re getting engaged, I can’t recommend doing this enough, it’s a bubble of lovliness that will be difficult to replicate.

I can honestly say it is the best experience we’ve ever had at a hotel and I’m certain it wasn’t just because we’d just got engaged (although we were definitely the talk of the place!). The team at the Heifer are simply the nicest bunch of people who genuinely take an interest in you, make you feel so at home and know what you want before you even say you want it (seriously, it’s borderline psychic). We left the hotel longing to go back, armed with Happy Birthday and Happy Engagement balloons and a bag of homemade chilli fudge, all chucked in to demonstrate their genuine thoughtfulness.

I could go on for days about every aspect of the Heifer and how brilliant it is, so I’ll try stick to a brief summary!

The food

Seafood in the Dales. Shouldn’t work. Does, with bells on. Kippers for breakfast with roasted tomatoes made me never want to eat another thing again, until I powered through their Maple Lobster Salad. Sounds like a fancy salad (and how fancy can a salad possibly be?) – turns out to be the best fish combination I’ve eaten, and yes, there’s a little bit of salad in it.

 

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 The Rooms

Comfy (I checked the mattress to see if it was the same as ours at home as it seemed custom made). Each room is decorated in a specific theme – we had the Black Sheep room, complete with the locally brewed Ale waiting for you when you get there

 The Location

Middle of the Dales. We were lucky enough to have just enough snow to make it beautiful, not enough to make it panic-inducing in a how-will-I-ever-see-my-family-again way.

 

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 The Interior Design

Quite frankly, nuts. The decoration and general feel of the Heifer, despite it being a really very old building (16th Century) is wacky. They have a coffee table which is a fishtank, an enormous replica of a prize-winning fish sitting in the bar and toilets decorated with those iconic cheeky seaside postcards of days gone by.

The thing is, it works. The wonky walls of the old building are adorned with all sorts of odd paraphernalia and it all fits in perfectly. It made me think about how we can make some of the quirks and wonks in our own house work harder and shout louder about how random and weird they are (look out for a fish-inspired cloakroom coming your way soon!)

 

We’ve stayed in some lovely places but nothing tops the Heifer. We can’t wait to go back.

 

We got engaged!

We’ve been off the radar because we’ve been up to this!

 

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Paul proposed at home on 16th January and then we had the best secret weekend away at the Wensleydale Heifer (post about the amazingness of the Heifer to follow really soon!)

Rachel’s Cakes for Paul’s Birthday

Just a quick post to let you know that Paul is 35. He doesn’t look it, I know.

We had a brilliant day out celebrating his birthday in a little bit of snow in York. We both love York and have made it a bit of a birthday tradition to take the day off and do something in the city. A couple of years ago, I had my birthday there and Paul treated me to a thousand hands massage which blew my tiny mind.

Anyway, Paul’s birthday started with an outstanding breakfast at Bruks Cafe who have just moved premises and thrown us completely, but have done out their new digs with old pallet boards and clearly spent a ton of time on Pinterest and actually using it to make stuff that looks good. Bravo.

We had our own private tour around York’s Chocolate Story, not because we’re swanky VIPs but because  we showed up at 11am on a Wednesday with a Groupon voucher and no one else was there. If you like chocolate, (hello, everyone), get to it. It’s a brilliant day out (especially if you have Dougie the tour guide who I want to run tours of the house when we have people over)

Once we’d wandered around York, we headed home for a traditional birthday tea, with cake.

For context, last year I bailed on buying a cake for Paul. We were so busy at the house that I delegated the job to my Mum. Knowing that Paul is the world’s biggest Tiffin fan, she bought a huge slice of Tiffin instead of a cake for Paul, put some candles in it and presumed that would be satisfactory.  It turned out that Paul would give her grief for this particular misdemeanour pretty much every week for the following year.

So I decided to ask my lovely old friend, Rach, who makes incredible cakes to make Paul a Superhero cake.  All her own idea, I can’t take any credit apart from a brief which basically said “he loves all Superheroes”. It tasted incredible – double chocolate amazingness and it looked incredible too. Here’s what she came up with:

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…the happiest Paul has probably ever been! Thank you Rach!

Here are some of her other cakes from the past year, I love them all, especially the Potter cake.

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If you’re in or around Leeds, check out her Facebook page: Rachel’s Cakes