Friday, 23 April 2010

Taking Tea in Helmsley

If you want to have a proper afternoon tea, then you need to travel to Helmsley, north of York, to the Black Swan.

The Black Swan has just been awarded the Tea Guilds "Top Tea Place" award. And my husband and I can confirm - we had a beautiful cup of tea with all the extras - finger sandwiches, cakes, scones.... !! And it has to be said, it's worth the 45 minute drive as the scenery is beautiful. Helmsley is a special market town (Prince Charles apparently comes up hunting pheasant) and you have Riveaulx Abbey about a 10 minute drive away -which is one of my favourites!
However, if you can't get there, Betty's is always an option and certainly won't disappoint! (photo is of Betty's in York)

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Daffodil Principle

Yikes - it has been 6 months.... Well, there was Christmas and my parents came to stay for the month of December. and then there was the recovery period and then, well. Here I am again.

I always get inspired in spring. I'm sure there's scientific reasoning for all this spring cleaning stuff! At any rate, the daffodils are coming in to bloom - Clifford's Tower is always the first to make a fine showing. It always makes me think of the following little story that I'll share with you....

A thought from Renee Watkins:
Several times my daughter had telephoned to say, "Mother, you must come see the daffodils before they are over"
I wanted to go, but it was a two-hour drive from Laguna to Lake Arrowhead. "I will come next Tuesday, "I promised, a little reluctantly, on her third call.

Next Tuesday dawned, cold and rainy. Still, I had promised, and so I drove there. When I finally walked into Carolyn's house and hugged and greeted my grandchildren, I said, "Forget the daffodils, Carolyn! The road is invisible in the clouds and fog, and there is nothing in the world except you and these children that I want to see bad enough to drive another inch!"
My daughter smiled calmly and said, "We drive in this all the time, Mother." "Well, you won't get me back on the road until it clears, and then I'm heading for home!" I assured her. "I was hoping you'd take me over to the garage to pick up my car."
"How far will we have to drive?"

"Just a few blocks," Carolyn said. "I'll drive. I'm used to this."
After several minutes, I had to ask, "Where are we going? This isn't the way to the garage!"
"We're going to my garage the long way," Carolyn smiled, "by way of the daffodils."

"Carolyn," I said sternly, "please turn around."
"It's all right, Mother, I promise. You will never forgive yourself if you miss this experience."
After about twenty minutes, we turned onto a small gravel road and I saw a small church. On the far side of the church, I saw a hand-lettered sign that read, "Daffodil Garden."
We got out of the car and each took a child's hand, and I followed Carolyn down the path. Then, we turned a corner of the path, and I looked up and gasped. Before me lay the most glorious sight. It looked as though someone had taken a great vat of gold and poured it down over the mountain peak and slopes. The flowers were planted in majestic, swirling patterns-great ribbons and swaths of deep orange, white, lemon yellow, salmon pink, saffron, and butter yellow. Each different-colored variety was planted as a group so that it swirled and flowed like its own river with its own unique hue.

There were five acres of flowers.
"But who has done this?" I asked Carolyn.
"It's just one woman," Carolyn answered. "She lives on the property. That's her home." Carolyn pointed to a well kept A-frame house that looked small and modest in the midst of all that glory. We walked up to the house.

On the patio, we saw a poster with a headline of: "Answers to the Questions I Know You Are Asking" .
The first answer was a simple one, it read "50,000 bulbs"
The second answer was, "One at a time, by one woman. Two hands, two feet, and very little brain."
The third answer was, "Began in 1958."
There it was, The Daffodil Principle. For me, that moment was a life-changing experience. I thought of this woman whom I had never met, who, more than forty years before, had begun-one bulb at a time-to bring her vision of beauty and joy to an obscure mountain top. Still, just planting one bulb at a time, year after year, had changed the world. This unknown woman had forever changed the world in which she lived. She had created something of ineffable (indescribable) magnificence, beauty, and inspiration.

The principle her daffodil garden taught is one of the greatest principles of celebration. That is, learning to move toward our goals and desires one step at a time-often just one baby-step at a time-and learning to love the doing, learning to use the accumulation of time.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

A Good Deal

If you are coming to York for 3 or more days, I can highly recommend you purchase a York Pass. It is really great value for money.

For instance, a one day pass is £28 per person. If you visit 3 venues in the day, you have broken even as the average entrance fee is about £9 (I think!). You get better savings if you opt for more days. A two day pass is £38pp and a three day pass is £44pp. And it doesn't just include city centre attractions, but also those around York - such as Castle Howard!

Classic Cars for Hire

Have you ever dreamed of driving one of those cars you've seen in an old movie - but a) you can't afford to buy one or b) they don't make them anymore? (WHY don't they make them like that anymore?!?)

Well, we've met a couple in York who have a few of these Gems and are actually willing to let "Joe Public" hire them for a day or two and actually drive themselves! Classic Car Hire Yorkshire. It's an ideal way to tour the North Yorkshire countryside. I can highly recommend it!

York Illuminated

Well, it has been too long since my last posting and I HOPE I can be a bit more regular with my Blog! I have loads of "stuff" to add, but I'm always finding more urgent things to do... no excuses.

I just wanted to bring to everyone's attention that the City of York is again this year illuminating a few famous buildings in the city for our enjoyment. It was truly spectacular last year to be walking around the city in the evening and discovering these light installations. Very creative, very unique.

I hope this year is just as special - with the King's Manor and the Multangular Tower being the main featured structures.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

It's Official!

It's official - the Frenchman, David, who has been staying with us this past week has declared that "York is a very romantic city". When a Frenchman says it's romantic - who would NOT believe him?!

I have to agree, I think York is a very romantic city too.

What makes York romantic? It could be that it is an intimate city with cobblestoned streets and snickelways (little alleyways that take you from one street to the next) where you can meander from shop to shop. Could it be the beautiful architecture from the medieval "Shambles" and Georgian houses to the impressive Victorian buildings or the majestic York Minster? Even the Aviva building constructed in the 1980s is a beautiful piece of modern architecture - I think Prince Charles would even approve! Or maybe it's the wine bars and restaurants. Or possibly a combination of it all that creates a lovely atmosphere of charm.
What I will say is York is NOT a pretentious city - it is a city for everyone from country folk to urban dwellers, people from all walks of life cannot help but fall in love with it. Maybe that is what makes it romantic.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Food for thought

Just got back from a quick bite to eat with the kids in town. And I have to say, I really enjoyed our little independent restaurant - Tuscany, located right next to the Mansion House (the home of the Lord Mayor of York).

I can't say the food was outstanding - it was fine - good Italian food. I would recommend the pizza, the dough was tasty. And I really like the contemporary rustic decor. Does that work together?! - yes.

But what I liked best was when I went to the loo, it was IMMACULATE!

Now, in my youth, I worked with a very special lady who was an editor at Harper's Bazaar. And whenever we went out on a business lunch, she would send me to the powder room shortly after sitting down and ask me to report back. I always assumed it was because she wanted a quiet word with whomever we were dining with. This was possible, but she was equally interested in what the powder rooms looked like. Between the two of us, we discovered there was a direct correlation between clean and well looked after loos and good food!!

Just a thought!