Last weekend, we spent a quick break with family on Skye. It takes us over five hours from door to door, so we can’t just drop everything and go to see them. A couple of days’ notice – not a problem.
The drive north was quiet. We had expected the roads to be really busy but we drove for many miles without catching a glimpse of headlights in our rear mirror. That’s the kind of driving we like – so going off-season means we’re not being jostled by speedsters who want to do London to Portree in an afternoon.
Although we have visited Skye before, we were on our way to the Outer Hebrides so this time we had the opportunity to see much more of the island. We called in to Uig to have lunch after visiting the Kilmuir Graveyard where Flora Macdonald is buried. Much to our surprise, this is also the cemetery where Alexander McQueen has been laid to rest.
We didn’t know (or had forgotten) about Alexander McQueen’s Skye connections, so were quite touched to see this unusual memorial to such a talented man.
I love brooches – but they’ve been out of favour now for quite some time. However, all of a sudden, creative ladies are finding new ways to wear their brooches, bringing a contemporary twist to those statement pieces.
Stylecaster has put together a few suggestions on wearing a brooch (one features a brooch pinned onto the sleeve of a sweater, gathering folds of the garment together at the elbow – not too sure about this one because I know that I would get caught up on someone else’s garment. It’s also at eye level for young children. I do like the option of embellishing the top edge of a pocket with a bar brooch, though.
Another author has put together some very creative ways of wearing brooches – from securing a scarf with a brooch to placing one on a hemline. It would seem that Nicole Kidman wears one on the nape of her neck sometimes when wearing an evening gown.
The Elegant Duchess suggests pinning a brooch to a handbag to update it’s look. That would certainly be a great idea on a fabric evening bag! How about on the waistline of an evening gown or the crown of your hat – even pinned into your hair to embellish your evening look.
I think I must be traditional – I like a brooch pinned on the lapel of my jacket – but maybe now I’ll look at my brooches in a different light and will probably find a spot on the collar of my roll-neck sweater.
We had some English visitors for the weekend – and it was great fun meeting them for the first time (although we’ve known each other for years on Facebook!) Being online friends sometimes isn’t enough and we invited Debra and her daughter Annette to come visit us – turns out to be a brilliant decision as we had a great time.
The ladies booked a sleeper journey from Euston on the Caledonian Sleeper and then came to us via the local Glasgow train service. As Sandy and I waited at the station to pick them up, the squally rain showers were zipping along the Clyde – and we started to worry that we would be house-bound for the weekend.
Ok, the weather was dry when we got out of the car at the top of Carman Hill – hoping to see a great view over the Clyde estuary – the low clouds had other ideas for us, though. As we drove along the banks of Loch Lomond, there was no sign of Ben Lomond at all and the weather seemed to be closing in completely.
So, ever brave, even though there wasn’t much sign of good weather, we decided to go on to Inveraray. We commented that the roads were quite busy – and then realised that the Scottish schools were on mid-term break (Tattie Holidays!) and, when we reached Inveraray, it was really quite busy. Bracing – but definitely busy.
Yes – you’ve spotted that Debra and Annette found some sunshine – and, although it was bracing, the scenery was stunning. The Clyde Puffer, the Vital Spark, was tied up at the pier.
We’ve just been on a short trip to Yorkshire – we stayed in the Days Inn at Wetherby for most of that. It was convenient for visiting the Harrogate Home and Gift Show and for visiting various towns in the surrounding area.
Wetherby is a lovely town – full of colour, plenty of good places to eat – and some lovely little shops. OK, there’s a Morrison’s supermarket too but we only found this towards the end of our stay … basically, we didn’t need to do any supermarket shopping, so why would we look for one!
We also explored Helmsley (would love to go back) and were enchanted by it. We arrived on the same day as a vintage car rally so attention was divided between cars and walking through the quaint town centre.
I admit it – I’m a plain-eating sort of girl 😉 these days. We had breakfast in the hotel and then headed out for the day. It’s easy finding coffee shops to have a quick snack at lunchtime – and we found several which were excellent. Then, because there was such a choice of places to have dinner, it became much more difficult.
Our first meal in Wetherby was at Sir Dukes Bar and Grill in Bank Street. The restaurant was busy – but thankfully we managed to find a table. Looking through the menu, and watching meals being served to other diners round about, it was clear that we would probably only manage a main course. The portions looked huge. It took as a few moments to figure out our choices. Sandy chose the “This is Clucking Fantastic” – Roasted breast, stuffed thigh, crispy drumstick, Bearnaise and chicken juices, skin on fries and wild rocket salad. I went for an 8 oz (seemed bigger!) sirloin steak with fries and added a couple of garlic prawns. The food was delicious.
We visited the Harrogate Home and Gift Show – a trade show for retailers – and had a challenging time walking through the various show halls and marquees. We placed orders, made contact with existing suppliers and, excitingly, found some potential new ones as well! More of that later.
I know now that I’m not fit to do trade shows in the heat of the summer – and I was a total grump because of the layout of the show. At some points, trying to walk from one category of exhibitors to another became a nightmare because the halls only seemed to connect to one another at one point – so if you wanted to skip products which were of no interest, it wasn’t always obvious how to get to the next area quickly. I now appreciate the Glasgow Exhibition Centre so much more – it’s well laid out, the routes to toilets and eating areas are well marked out and it’s all one one level.
Having said that, the quality of most of the goods on display at Harrogate is very high. I believe we wished we had visited many years ago.
We ate at several other restaurants (we were in the area for six days) – included
Sant Angelo in Wetherby – also good. Sandy enjoyed his POLLO ALLA CREMA – Chicken fillet marinated with fresh herbs, shallots, mushrooms,
white wine and cream.
The Golden Fleece in Thirsk – I had the most delicious Lamb Rump – it’s a long time since I had such a tender piece of lamb (salivating just thinking about it!)
The Wetherby Whaler – and this place was really busy too – with a traditional fish and chip shop downstairs, this restaurant served a “Fish Tea” bread and butter, tea, fish and chips. All freshly cooked, the haddock was fantastic. The chips were great as well.
The only thing that I really missed when out and about in Yorkshire was a salad with traditional iceberg or little gem lettuce – “mixed leaves” are everywhere and, while I appreciate that many people really like them, I’m a rebel – I just need plain old lettuce 😉 The same comment applies to meals out in Scotland.
That made me smile – every now and again, we get the chance to see the pre-release images of the latest Steiff designs – and, yes, we’ve ordered three different designs which will be available in July – August 2017. They’re adorable and we’re expecting that they’ll sell out quickly. You can find our current Steiff products on our website at
As the wedding season gets into full swing, there is obviously a great rush to find the perfect gift for the happy couple. I recently came across a cake plate which was part of a set of china given to me a long time ago now –
So, what kind of gift is suitable these days for young couples as they approach their special day?
We have just added into our inventory, two different sets of mugs by Dunoon China – and maybe one of these sets would be perfect as your selection for the bride and groom.
This set of mugs is entitled “Samarkand”. Samarkand is a city in Uzbekistan known for it mosques and mausoleums, of which display some of the most intricate and mesmerising tile work found on the Silk Road. This art is found in beautiful detail throughout this collection of mugs from designer Marlee Fletcher and printed on the highest quality fine bone China from Dunoon. Geometric, three pronged shaped tiles, intertwined within one another across the mugs body effortlessly.
Fine bone china again – but this time, Dunoon’s artist has captured the look and feel of a day at the beach. These charming mugs designed by Rebecca Hogg for Dunoon feature a beautiful blue and white colour scheme. Decorated with seaside scenes, these simple but charming pieces will look lovely on a kitchen counter or breakfast tray.
We did it! Well, I guess it was fairly inevitable that we would go and visit my sister who was staying at the Asklepios Klinik in Sylt for some rehab. Going off-peak, I think we managed a low-budget weekend break, booking ourselves on budget airlines, using the Trainline to buy train tickets from Hamburg to Sylt, staying in our AirBnB apartment and travelling on the local buses.
So, what would be our tips?
Well, flying from Edinburgh to Hamburg, the Easyjet service was great. When we arrived, we walked through to the main terminal from the arrivals hall and followed the signs to the S-bahn which took us directly to Hamburg-Altona railway station. The very helpful gentleman at the DB information office directed us to our train to Westerland. We had to change at Elmshorn – and that was seamless. We had a 10-minute wait, staying on the same platform.
The journey continued on to Westerland. We crossed the Kiel canal, passed by pretty towns, were amazed by the number of windmills generating electricity and saw fields, some with arable crops, a few with livestock and some with solar panels. The train crosses a causeway to Sylt itself and arrives at Westerland Bahnhof (ZOB). We got a lift to our apartment in Wenningstedt and then had dinner in a lovely (busy) Italian restaurant.
The local bus service on the island is very good. In the winter months, the buses run every half hour and that increases to 10-15 minutes in the summer months. It’s possible to buy individual day-tickets or family tickets as well as 2-day and 3-day passes. These are valid on all buses on the island. If you buy ordinary tickets, the bus companies charge by the number of zones you enter. We bought day-tickets because some days we just wanted to walk.
Because my sister was living in the Klinik, we were allowed to buy meals in the restaurant there so we didn’t do much eating out. We did, however, walk into Westerland – and found the amazing Cafe Wien – where we couldn’t resist the waffles, Sandy’s topped with Rumtopf and Cream while mine came with cherries and cream. The best waffles ever!
On our last afternoon we took the bus to List, at the north of the island and loved looking round the shops there. We watched the Ferry coming in to the harbour and had a coffee in the ice-cream shop. It was damp and miserable weather, so we were pleased to get in out of the wind.
Travelling back to Hamburg went like clockwork. We caught the No 1 line bus into Westerland and walked onto the platform for our train – direct this time. We had a smooth journey to Hamburg-Altona and then caught the S-bahn back to the airport. I loved the consideration given to tourists on the S-bahn platform – the trains to the airport split before you reach the airport and it is essential to be in the first three carriages to make sure you reach your destination. The thoughtful folk in the station had this well sign-posted in a banner as well as on the edge of the platform!