Recently, I was lucky to be given the chance to stay in a gorgeous North Yorkshire holiday cottage with Sykes Cottages. It was a marvellous 5 days filled with fresh air, peace and quiet and beautiful views.
You can read the first part of this post about my great Yorkshire mini-break here.
After a relaxing few days, Sunday was the ‘business’ day. And by ‘business’ I mean ‘beer blogging’. Not for me, but for Plus One Magazine – but I was happy to go along for the ride!
Although chasing down some great beer is really appealing on a Sunday, it’s not the first thing we wanted to do. With the cottage being reasonably close to my family’s home, we decided it would be nice to meet up for an early morning coffee and amble. We chose Masham as our meeting point. Another pretty North Yorkshire town, with a lovely big central square. We sat out on the benches in the sunshine and sipped our espresso, admiring the beautiful buildings all around.
As Pete is writing about beer over on Plus One Magazine, we thought it only appropriate to visit The Black Sheep Brewery in Masham. It was across the road, after all.
This wasn’t my first visit to The Black Sheep. It’s well and truly geared up for tourists, but not in a bad way. Sure, there’s some terrible puns on the blackboards and you can buy endless touristy gifts in their shop, but it doesn’t stop it being a great place to go and drink some fine beer – especially if you sit outside.
The garden at the brewery is the perfect place to sit on a summer’s day. It was full of pretty flora and fauna, and the view is good. It’s wonderful to be able to sit with family and friends out there, sampling flights of ale (that’s a tray with 3 ‘thirds’) and take time over a lovely Sunday lunch. We all agreed that the Hoptacular seasonal brew was definitely very drinkable!
Next on the ‘ale trail’ was a trip back into Stokesley, where we visited the White Swan. This has a great reputation as the home of the Captain Cook microbrewery. For me though, it was a let down. The pub was okay, but the staff had no knowledge about the beer they were serving (which was made on the premises). Maybe we’ve been spoiled with all the knowledgable ale bars in Leeds and expected too much.
Fun was had later that night back at Cooper Cottage, while we packed a picnic for our trip to the coast on the following day. I say fun, but really it was more a case of laughing at me, as I attempted to make vegetarian sushi. I’m not gonna lie, it was awful. It tasted terrible (just don’t use the Slimming World recipe for it!), and looked like a child had made it. Thus confirming my skills in the kitchen are primarily cake-based.
You know when you’re a kid and you get told you’re going somewhere exciting? Let’s say, the seaside. Well, make that kid 34 and that’s what I was like on Monday morning.
Did I mention that this was my birthday? So really, I had an extra (and almost legitimate) reason to be hyped up about the day.
It started wonderfully. With coffee, breakfast, cards and presents in bed. At this point I would like to bow graciously in thanks to my mum, who bought me a new bottle of Diptyque’s L’ombre Dans L’eau. This is quite possibly the most beautiful scent ever made.
On we ventured to the coast. Driving across to Saltburn-on-Sea, up through Staithes and finally settling on our destination. I adore Whitby. Having grown up with the spoils of the beautiful Cornwall coast as a child, I always thought that the East Coast was a bit lacking in comparison. Until I got to Whitby.
Its steep, winding streets; rich with all kinds of people (shout out to the goths who wear full length leather coats in the summer. You truly have stamina unknown to the regular human) and history, make me feel comfortable and inspired at the same time. The imposing shadow of Whitby Abbey, gives chills and romance in equal portions. Looking out to the sea, spotting the tourist fishing boats and the ‘pirate’ ship bobbing on the gentle waves never fails to raise a smile. It’s a glorious place, filled with treasures.
My favourite stop in Whitby is absolutely La Rosa Hotel. Situated up the top (just along from the Whalebone Arch) it has views for miles and is a cornucopia of vintage finds. All lovingly curated and displayed for us lucky visitors. I’ve stayed here before, and can hand on heart say it’s the most wonderful seaside hotel I’ve ever been to. But even visiting the Mad Hatter Tea Room on the ground floor, is truly an experience. It’s hard not to lose yourself in all the stuff. In the best possible way, that is. Everywhere you turn there’s a kitsch ornament or joyful print. A taxidermy fox, replete with jacket, pipe and monocle. Even a slightly unsettling, but nevertheless fantastic, mermaid doll. I love it. The staff are absolutely brilliant too. Make sure you pay them a visit soon, or to their campsite in Goathland where you can play dress up in their big top; sit around the big communal fire or giggle at the delightfully daft themes to their vintage caravans (think Barbara Cartland theme, or Elvis themed!).
After our coffee, it was time to get these toes in the sand. Which, is easier said than done when you can’t walk without crutches, and even then only a few metres at a time! How to get to the beach?! Luckily, Whitby has an accessible Cliff Lift (just round the corner from La Rosa, handily). Problem solved. Down near the beach, rows of brightly painted beach huts glinted at us. I always think they’re a bit of a wasted commodity. They’re crying out to be made into something great aren’t they? But I love looking at them all the same.
It was lovely to be by the sand and sea, even for a short time. Amongst all the hubbub of play and activity on the seafront, there’s something very grounding about staring out across the seemingly endless water.
Later that evening, a celebratory birthday meal was on the cards. The Blackwell Ox is an unassuming pub on the way to Lordstones that does a good moonlighting act as a Thai restaurant. Lovely, relaxing dining was what was needed and it was provided, with portions in abundance and beer flowing freely. The night ending on the decking to Cooper Cottage, glancing at the stars.
Tuesday, and we knew a slightly grumpy cat awaited us at the cattery. Quick packing was done with enough time for a final coffee outside, taking in that beautiful view. Then back to the traffic and noise of the city. It’s never sad to come home, but it was sad to leave.
Have you had a mini-break lately? Or are you planning one? Let me know in the comments.