My Holiday Keepsakes

…and the ‘Beach Hut’ full of travel treasures!

I regularly bring a reminder of my travels back home, be that an entry ticket to a fantastic experience, a handmade craft or beautiful pebble/shell from a favourite beach. Whatever the item, it’s always a happy reminder of a certain moment or place in time. I often buy items that can be displayed in my home and love the feeling you get..you know the one..when you’re transported straight back in time, with a fond smile spreading across your face! this could happen when you walk into a room and your eye is drawn to one of your fabulous finds, when you pick pick up an item to dust or put on a piece of handcrafted jewellery.

Apart from the reminders of happy holiday moments and travelling tales, I love the individuality that keepsake pieces bring to your home. They add personality on our spaces in a way that some chain store items can’t (that’s not to say they don’t sell lovely things) and there are some beautiful treasures to be found on your travels at home and abroad.

One of my all time favorite keepsakes is this cuddly toy from a visit to Loch Ness about 15 years ago, not long after I’d got married. It still makes me smile and now my Granddaughters love it too!

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As far as interiors go, the ‘Nessies’ live in my Granddaughters room. Throughout the rest of the house you will find homewares from a variety of countries including some favorites shown here from visits to Vietnam: Lacquerware (Vietnam is famed for its lacquerware or ‘son mai’), wooden animal puzzles and a silk lamp; and from Tortola in the Caribbean: a Cat ‘trinket box’ puzzle.

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Some decorative items I bring back are smaller and usually displayed in the ‘Beach Hut’. No, I don’t actually own a beach hut, but there is a special little room in my house which has affectionately been given that moniker. I’ll let you guess which room it is. It’s safe to say it puts a smile on all our visitors faces.

The items on display come from places including Hong Kong, Mexico, Greece, Barbados, Curacao, Grand Turk, St. Kitts, Vietnam, and more…even Northumberland!

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My keepsakes find their way into the garden too.

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Of course, many keepsakes don’t go on display. It’s those little items which hold great memories, like a key card to beautiful hotel room, ticket to an event, a guide book, restaurant business card or a well worn map. Some people love to make a scrap book, for me it’s my ‘holiday box’ which holds a whole host of treasures from which I won’t be parted. I love to rummage through this box from time to time in a way that you used to look through holiday photographs, you know, the printed ones! This particular photo is for presentation purposes only, everything has now been piled..I mean placed…back inside!

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Jewellery is another treasure I often bring back from my travels and I have pieces that I wear often and always with a smile. Most are inexpensive, brighten up my outfits plus jewellery is a perfect way to mark a special occasion on holiday such as a birthday or anniversary. Here are two of my favourites which were bought just because I loved them: Bracelet from the village of Plaka in Crete; Hematite necklace from Samana in the Dominican Republic.

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Sometimes I bring back treasures that I can eat or drink (they never last long enough to be called keepsakes!) such as preserves, good wine from a vineyard or sweet treats such as Greek Baklava and Kataifi. Pictured here are treasures from vineyard visits: the bottle from a delicious wine from Italy and a (full) bottle of Cotto, a grape syrup from Kefalonia .

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I’m also a big fan of all things Disney and have some special keepsakes including these two: A fabulous Cinderella’s Carriage musical snow globe, a wedding present bought at Disney World for my husband Ron and me; and one of our world hopper passes from our visit during Disney World’s 25 year celebrations.

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Other favourites include this handwritten scroll, a gift from an artist during an excursion in Vietnam; a wooden strawberry I bought for Ron on the Caribbean island of Dominica which, when opened had the message I Love You on a sticker in the lid (which has since been lost) and was a bargain at only  $1 USD; a playing card which was used during a magic trick I helped with in Spain.

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I’ve so many fabulous finds that are special to me and evoke memories of romance, fun, excitement, fear (tower of terror anyone!!), fabulous sights, smell, taste and more.

I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing in some of my memories and I know you’ll have lots of your own. I love your comments so it’d be great to hear about some of your favorite holiday keepsakes.

Thanks for reading and bye for now. June xx

 

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Northumberland National Park

It’s truly a National Treasure

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It was no surprise to hear that Northumberland National Park (NNP) was voted National Park of the Year at the COUNTRYFILE magazine awards 2015/16. The area is well known for the famous Hadrians Wall and Fort remains however, there is so much more to see and do in this beautiful part of North East England which covers an area of 1,049 km or 405 square miles. I regularly enjoy days out and short breaks here with my husband Ron.

I’ve always loved Northumberland. I was born and raised in one of its many mining towns only leaving to join Ron in Sunderland, which was actually a part of the old Kingdom of Northumbria many centuries ago.

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So, you can imagine my delight to be invited along, as a guest of NNP Authority, to experience  some highlights of what the park has to offer. I was part of a small group from Travel Massive (Newcastle) and our host for the day was Duncan Wise, Visitor Development and Marketing Manager for NNP. His friendly manner, enthusiasm and knowledge helped make our day a big hit.

After setting off from Newcastle with my fellow travellers, including Ron, we headed to the first stop on our itinerary, Rothbury, on a road I’m very familiar with. This time however, neither of us were driving so we could enjoy the fantastic scenery even more. One point to add is that the main road into Rothbury, the B6344 road at Crag End, has now been reopened after being closed for major repairs.

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Rothbury, on the edge of the NNP, is one of most popular and picturesque towns in Northumberland, It’s also close to many major attractions and the coast. On arrival we headed to Tomlinson’s Café and Bunkhouse, a fantastic base from which to enjoy the surrounding area with many public footpaths and cycle tracks starting only metres from the property. It is also perfectly placed for cyclists wishing to enjoy all or part of The Sandstone Way, England’s first long distance mountain bike trail. It’s approx. 120 miles/192 km long and runs along the Sandstone Ridge in North Northumberland. Starting and finishing at two of Northumberland’s most historic towns, Berwick-upon-Tweed and Hexham, the route will take you through a landscape full of beautiful scenery, breathtaking views, historical sights and charming villages.

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The café is large and airy with a welcoming atmosphere and the modern rustic décor suits the building perfectly. We were welcomed with hot drinks in the comfortable lounge area where Duncan gave us an overview of the NNP. We were joined by owner Jackie who told us of the buildings origins, it was formerly a school house, and explained the wonderful facilities on offer. A tour of the Bunkhouse showed it is ideal for families, groups and solo travelers, offering comfortable rooms with en-suite facilities. 21 people can be accommodated over the three light and airy rooms of 6,7 or 8 beds. There’s also a Double en-suite room.  The communal lounge has amazing views toward the River Coquet along with a large TV, Sky and WIFI which is free for guests, plus a small kitchenette. The rates are purse friendly too at £20 per bed or £25 with mini breakfast, tea or coffee. It’s easy to see why it was awarded a Trip Advisor certificate of excellence in 2015.

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They also have a range of bikes for hire catering for all abilities and will soon be introducing electric bikes for hire. I took the opportunity to try one of these bikes and liked the idea of the little surge of power just when you need it. I enjoyed it so much I’m considering buying one.

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Leaving Rothbury, we headed to the Simonside Hills and Lordenshaws. I’ve not visited this area before and its beauty was evident immediately even in the inclement weather. Climbing one of the footpaths gave fantastic views toward the Cheviot Hills, Sandstone Ridge and the coast. The landscape is home to the remains of an Iron Age hill fort, Bronze Age burial grounds and prehistoric ‘cup and ring’ rock carvings made by our ancestors although it is still not truly known what the carvings mean. There are posts pointing to areas of interest, with QR codes to scan with your smartphone for more information.

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From Lordenshaws we headed toward Greenhaugh for lunch. We drove through the Grasslees Valley and Otterburn Ranges which are used for military training and are home to the second largest live firing range in the country. The ranges can be explored and have some of the most spectacular views in the NNP, although visitors should be aware that parts are closed when the red flags are flying.

We had a brief informative stop in Elsdon, the largest village within NNP with a population of around 240 people! NNP is the least populated of The Parks of England and Wales, having a population of about 2000, that’s just two people per square mile. Elsdon features lovely stone houses in a picturesque setting surrounding the village green and is home to a popular tea room which serves the legendary homemade Gibbet cake. Popular with cyclist and walkers alike, it’s a starting point for many countryside walks.

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We also stopped briefly to view the remains of a Tosson Tower, a Peel Tower built around 600 years ago as a home for the Ogle family and a defence against invasion by the Scots.

We arrived in Greenhaugh, which is one of those places that makes you want to move to the countryside. It’s only small but as one local told me, It the equivalent of their ‘city’ in a parish with a population of around 160 people. This area is home to some beautiful Hay Meadows which have an abundance of wild flowers and would be ideal to explore on foot. Our venue for lunch was The Holly Bush Inn which promised a lot with its Kerb appeal and it certainly delivered once inside. Passing a welcoming open fire in the bar, we were seated in one of the two dining areas. Both are decorated stylishly in differing themes. We were introduced to owner Mary and her son Frankie who run the Inn together. As well the bar and dining facilities the Inn offers 7 beautifully decorated en-suite rooms and a Stargazers Apartment.

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IMG_7324IMG_7310For lunch, Ron and I opted for the Lamb Stew using local produce. I love stew and this did not disappoint, it was accompanied by crusty white bread and was comfort food at its best, both delicious and warming. Ron and I then headed into the rear gardens as the sun had put in an appearance at last! The gardens feature a large fire pit and have fantastic views across the countryside and expansive sky, perfect to enjoy some Stargazing. At approx. 580sq miles, the skies over Greenhaugh are the darkest in England and were awarded Gold Tier Dark Sky Park status by the International Dark Skies Association. A quick chat with the chef who was enjoying a break, revealed how passionate he is about creating great home cooked food.

IMG_7332IMG_7334Returning inside Mary offered us desert and needing no persuading, we opted for Eton Mess (me) and Rhubarb Crumble (Ron), both were scrumptious and served at the large trestle table which is placed to encourage people to mix. It works, as we enjoyed a chat with a couple who were staying in the area.

In a nutshell, this Inn serves up great food, facilities and friendly service and I’m happy to say, at the time of writing I’ve already been back! (but that’s a story for another day).

Our itinerary took us next to Hesleyside to experience a new event known as Mestival

Hesleyside is the ancestral home of the Charlton family. Their beautiful country house is set in woodland and has grounds designed by Capability Brown. This made for a stunning, if not unusual setting, for a 10k fun run of mud, mud and more mud with various obstacles thrown in to add to the challenge.running-81715_1920.jpg

 

It really did look like Muddy Good Fun (as the promotors put it) and if I’d been younger and without neck issues, I’d have loved to give it a go. But as a spectator, it was great to see the huge smiles on the muddy faces of the participants, especially the kids, who were bombarded with water bombs by family members.

We didn’t have much time to enjoy the live bands and stalls but the atmosphere was great despite the weather. Sheltering from rain, we observed people taking part in games and even Ukulele lessons. We even bumped a friend who was there to take part.

Last stop on our tour was The Battlesteads Hotel and Observatory. I was looking forward to this for two reasons. Firstly, I’d already had the pleasure of enjoying a few drinks in their sunny garden so was looking forward to returning; secondly, I’ve always wanted to visit an Observatory.IMG_7359

There was no sunshine this time but at least the rain had stopped. The garden had been enhanced even more since my last visit and was very impressive! It still had the raised herb beds I remembered and these are just a small nod to the wider sustainable tourism ethos of the hotel. Beyond this, further gardens of homegrown produce blended into the countryside views and the Hotels own carbon neutral heating system, the first to be installed in the county, is discreetly tucked away.

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We were joined by Astronomer Roy Alexander who delivers the various Stargazing courses available. He explained that the Hotel and Observatory are located in the Dark Sky Discovery site of Wark Village. This combination offers the beauty of the dark skies with the comfort of modern day facilities. These include an inviting bar with restaurant, 22 individually decorated en-suite bedrooms and 5 newly constructed eco lodges.

Moving on to the observatory we were seated in the warm room, where you could help yourself to tea and coffee. From the very beginning, Roy held our attention with his enthusiasm for his subject as he spoke passionately about his background in science to the present day, before talking about the delights of the dark skies.

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Many people have a dream to see The Aurora Borealis or ‘Northern light’s’ and he explained they have been visible clearly on many occasions before providing information about apps which can help identify the best place and time to view them.

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As well as Pointing out easy ways to identify popular constellations using binoculars Roy then explained how to adjust them correctly before sending us outside to have a go. I also held a piece of meteorite and touched a piece of Mars. This thrilled me no end and Roy helped me photograph the Mars fragment using my smartphone and a microscope!

IMG_7355.JPGThe conclusion of our visit was an introduction to the centerpiece of the Observatory – the impressive Telescope, which can be set up for multiple visitors to use at the same time. Unfortunately, the rain meant the roof could not be opened so we were unable to take a look into the late afternoon sky.

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On asking Roy what he liked to observe the most, he replied The Moon without hesitation. He loves the way the sun, at various times of the day, casts shadows over the mood highlighting the landscape to great effect. I can honestly say I could have sat there for hours listening to his pearls of astronomical wisdom and myself and Ron would love to return.

The whole set up at Battlesteads lends itself to delivering a fantastic experience for both residents and non-residents alike. I cannot comment on the rooms and food, however the hotel is renowned for both and holds a Trip Advisor certificate of Excellence. Although we did not stay overnight, I can imagine it would be extra special.  We were so impressed that we’d love to return to stay in the Hotel to enjoy a real twist on Sleeping Under The Stars!

Plus, as Roy says, how many observatories can boast their own bar? who could resist?

 

Our tour was now at an end and we returned to Newcastle having had a fantastic day, learning new facts about the regions history along with forming new friendships. I feel that there’s so much of this area just waiting to be discovered an on writing this myself and Ron have already paid a return visit..

If you’d like to plan a visit there’s lots of on information on the user friendly NNP website including information on their Events.

Hope you enjoyed reading about NNP and if you have any favourite places in the park I’d love to hear about them.

Bye for now, June x

*Our tour of the NNP was organized by Kate, who leads our group of travel enthusiasts Travel Massive Newcastle, in conjunction with NNP Authority and Round Table Solutions. **Group photo courtesy of Kate.

 

 

 

Holiday ‘Night To Day’ Wear

Yes, you did hear right!

Now, I like to get the most out of my wardrobe on holiday for two main reasons: to minimise how much I pack (pesky weight restrictions) and how much I have to wash on my return and with that in mind I’m an big fan of Night to Day wear…yes that’s the right way around for me…it’s one of my travel saviours.

I’ve yet to master the effortless day to night trick that I read about in the glossies. I’d be more likely to be sporting the flat haired, sandy toed look! However I’m quite good at the reverse trick as I mainly wear things on a night which (unless I’ve boogied hard and got them all sweaty!) I can wear another day when out and about. Some of you may already apply this method, but for those who don’t its very practical.

That doesn’t mean to say you’ll find me on the beach in a ball gown following a cruise formal night!

Here’s some examples:

I’m a big fan of the shift dress as the shape is flattering and I find they are less likely to cling in the daytime heat. Also choose fabrics which are less likely to crease and you’re good to go. Opt for dresses which will work equally well with luxe accessories for the evening and more casual options for daytime. Of course this applies to all clothes.

Shown here, I had travelled in the red trousers which were perfectly clean and ideal for the following days sightseeing.

My husband takes the same approach as you can see.

What about sunscreen I here you say. I’ve personally had no problems with sunscreen on my daytime clothes (I don’t use any tan enhancing types) however, it does pay to be aware that all sunscreens are different. If you have a particular favourite or expensive item of clothing and you’re worried about wearing it with sunscreen, then you’d have to perhaps exercise caution depending on your chosen sunscreen.

So, the overall benefit is that when you inevitably have go come home, you won’t have as many clothes to wash and because you’ve packed lighter in the first place, there’s more room for your holiday souvenirs!

Now, what if you could reduce your washing even further? and give yourself more time to catch up with family and friends/relax before returning to work.

Many of the Cruise Lines offer a fixed price deal for a laundry bag full of clothes (prices vary but are normally quite reasonable). It’s not as usual to find hotels offering this type of deal although many will offer laundry services for a cost.

Now this is actually quite a fun challenge and has seen us roll T-shirts to the size of cigars!! its amazing how much you can fit in a bag when you get creative. Our laundry bags usually resemble a ‘punch bag’ when we’re finished, but hey, if its in then they’ll wash it (ironing is not always included). This is great if you are leaving the cruise for a ‘Stay’ afterwards or just to bring clean clothes home and save on your washing.

I hope you’ve found this post useful. If you have a favourite Night to Day outfit, I’d love to hear about it.

Oh! and if you ever see a woman in her ballgown on the beach…it could be me and means I ran out of clean clothes!

Thanks for reading. Bye for now.

June xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

Our Disney Cruise…No Kids Involved!

…And A Tale Of Two Rings!

IMG_6782 (2)This is a bit of a retrospective post, but the anticipated arrival of the cruise ship Disney Magic on the River Tyne (June 7th) has had me thinking back to mine and Ron’s Cruise and stay holiday on the sister ship Disney Wonder back in December 1999. Firstly, I have to say that we had such a wonderful time (no pun intended) and if the Disney Wonder was sailing into the Tyne I would have braved hell and high water to blag an invite to board the ship and for one reason only – to revisit the spot where Ron PROPOSED to me. Yes, you heard that right, proposed! as in marriage!

We are both HUGE fans of Disney and Cruising, so when Disney launched its first two cruise ships in 1998 we didn’t hesitate to hop on board. We decided on a cruise and stay made up of a 4 night Bahamas Cruise sandwiched between two Disney World stays (4/4/6 nts) at their Caribbean Beach Resort. We visited Disney’s beautiful private island Castaway Cay, which is all white sugar sand, hammocks and beach bar-b-ques and fabulous Nassau in the Bahamas (somewhere we’re planning to revisit later this year). Oh..and the ships are something else..beautiful!

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Up at the crack of dawn for the sail into Nassau to hear the infamous ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ blast from the ships horn…so excuse the hair!
What may surprise some people is that we did this holiday ‘child free’. Our children were grown and we’re not strangers to visiting Disney Resorts with and without children, as do many people. However, we are often met with a surprised look when people hear we did a Disney Cruise without kids. But here’s the rub…I would have to say the majority of adults on our cruise were travelling without kids, and to be honest we hardly noticed any children on board. The children who were on board were mostly observed at breakfast and then seemed scarce afterwards. That could be down to great kid’s clubs, as some passengers told us that they hardly saw their kid all day, so good were the facilities!

The Big Kids like us were well catered for with an Adults Only pool area and restaurant Palo’s plus fantastic entertainment which appealed to all generations. We dined in a different restaurant each night as part of their Rotational Dining experience and were sat at mixed tables with American couples (again, no kids) They were great company and it was from them I gathered that one reason Disney cruises are popular with adults is the convenience of sailing on a short break from Port Canaveral. I could see the appeal, I mean, wouldn’t it be great to sail to somewhere like the Bahama’s from the Wear or Tyne? Kids or not!

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Now, back to the Rings! You see, I’d had an inkling for some time that Ron was thinking of proposing (something he sort of hinted whilst enjoying a meal out and wine!!) I just didn’t know when. We’d already had the ‘if we got married’ discussion and on a trip to the jewellers for something else, I’d pointed out a ring which was exactly what I’d like IF we ever got engaged!

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Goofy touching up the paintwork!
So, one evening we booked the adult only Palo’s for a meal and I went off to have my hair put up as a treat (I love a hair or spa treat on my holiday) before donning my glad rags. Anyway, following a lovely meal we headed on deck into a beautiful dark night of inky star filled skies. Ron lead me to the very back of the ship (just above flag in photo) where we were chatting under the stars and looking out onto the moonlit sea. It was at this point I could feel Ron’s conversation changing and I just knew he was about to propose…I felt so nervous but excited and to be honest I can’t even remember what he actually said (apparently that’s normal) but what I can remember is this – as Ron was looking at me mid proposal, I could see out the corner of my eye, his hand emerge from his pocket and as he raised the ring toward me I remember clearly thinking ‘that’s not like the one I saw in the shop’!…what did emerge though, to my surprise was this…

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And with the presentation of this beautiful ring, Ron explained that he didn’t want to bring an expensive ring with him on holiday in case he lost it, so he’d sneaked off and bought me a $12 Mickey Mouse ring with pale ‘Amethyst’ stones to use in his proposal. Well I absolutely loved it…and I absolutely said YES too!

I couldn’t have thought of a lovelier spot to be proposed to. I’m so glad that Ron went out of his way to make it so romantic but with a fun element too. Another bonus was that, on the day we were travelling home for Christmas, my Brother-in-law and his family were flying in to spend the Millennium Christmas and New Year at Disney World, so we were able to meet up and tell them our good news…ahh!

On Christmas morning after all the presents had been opened, Ron asked me to check there hadn’t been any small presents left behind the tree. Puzzled I checked and then found a tiny wrapped box, which I excitedly opened to find ‘the one I saw in the shop’ twinkling back at me! Don’t you just love a happy ending?

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I hope you enjoyed my little tale and if you have any proposal or Disney Cruise stories you’d like to share I’d love to hear them!

Thanks for reading, bye for now. June xx

A Great Cuppa is a Travel NecessiTea

…or Coffee!

We choose our travel destinations for a variety of reasons, heading to places we’re sure will deliver all the ingredients for a fantastic holiday. One thing we can’t be so sure about is the quality of beverages on offer at our chosen destination. It may seem trivial, but it really is disappointing to drink poor quality tea or coffee and have no choice except to NOT drink it! A simple pleasure like having a great cuppa can impact on your travel experience, especially if you love to start your day with a few cups as many do, me included.

You may be lucky to find a quality brand such as Ringtons on offer as I found to my delight on a recent break to Wynyard hall Country House Hotel, if not, and faced with days of tasteless tipples, it’s no surprise to discover that a survey* in 2015 showed that almost half of Brits take tea bags on holiday.

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It’s easier than trying to track down your favourite brands, especially abroad. Hands up who’d rather have an extra hour at the beach or out exploring rather than scouring shelves for a decent brand of beverage? Yes, me too! And that’s if there’s a shop nearby! Probably not if your bolt hole is a romantic spa hotel or B&B in the middle of nowhere!

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Before a holiday most of us picture ourselves already there, perhaps blissfully lounging with a cocktail or cool beer in hand, but once there we also yearn for familiarity, that little taste of home. This probably explains why many hotels and resorts in far flung destinations offer a full English breakfast. I daydream of that first morning, Ron and I stepping into the welcoming warmth of the sun for al fresco breakfast and toasting the days ahead with a glass of bucks fizz however, reality is that the sparkling celebration can wait, as the only thing we’d really want first thing is a nice cup of tea or coffee!

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On holiday or a day trip we are quite the explorers and easily spend hours discovering the delights of our destination. I’m always well prepared and have often been referred to as Mary Poppins for the array of essentials compactly stowed in my bag. That also means carrying a drink and snack picnic.There’s something quaintly satisfying about sitting down after a long walk to enjoy your favourite hot drink whilst taking in your surroundings. This could be sitting on the grass atop a Lake District Fell or perched on a rock overlooking the sea, its basic but brilliant.

Talking of essentials, I’m delighted that Ringtons asked me to try out their recently launched Essential Travel set. It’s Limited Edition and contains a stylish stainless steel vacuum flask, 50 Extra Fresh Tea Bags and a pack of All Butter Shortbread Rounds. It retails at a purse friendly £7.99.

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The light and compact 0.5l flask is a perfect size for a bag or back pack, 50 tea bags should satisfy two people’s cuppa cravings on any short break or holiday and the tasty biscuits? Well, we’d be lucky if they last a day! I took mine on a recent cruise and stay holiday where the flask was ideal for enjoying hot drinks at our sun loungers and beach side rather than popping to the room or buffet to make drinks and carry them back. Lets face it, there always comes a moment when amidst the cocktails and bottles of water, all you want is a great cuppa!

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Well that’s all for this post…I’m off to put the kettle on!

Thanks for reading, bye for now. June x

To find out about the Essentials Travel Set and other products that travel well visit www.ringtons.co.uk

*source Daily Mail

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Soundtrack to Summer

I have two passions in life (apart from my husband and family) one you’ve probably guessed already is Travel, the other is Music. Although primarily a fan of Mod, guitar bands and 60’s music my record collection – yes record as in Vinyl – is very diverse and ranges from my favourite band The Jam, through Punk and Heavy Rock to Big Band sounds and Olivia Newton-John! So a high priority for me is taking music on holiday. My iPod’s are filled with music for every mood and setting – beach, pool, getting ready, chilling out and travelling…not just abroad…yes we all have our ‘car songs’ too!

Now this is not my ‘Desert Island Discs’ but it is a summer equivalent containing songs guaranteed to make me smile and, if I’m at home, mix some Mojito’s, grab a sun hat and hit the garden (this bit of course is optional depending on weather!!).

Some songs are on the list because they evoke happy memories of a particular time in my childhood or adult life, which I’ve mentioned a bit about, others just because I really love them for being what they are…summery. The list is in no particular order except for the first song and I’ve included a playlist so you can have a listen too!

Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince (aka Will Smith)

Now this song is the one that really transports me straight to a balmy summer day, with images of happy people dancing around or hanging out of open top cars cruising along the seafront!

Beautiful Day – Ziggy Marley

This is my go to happy song! it just makes me feel so uplifted, glad to be alive, thankful for what I have and grateful to live in such a beautiful world.

Let Your Love Flow – Bellamy Brothers

I have always loved this song from being a young girl, it’s such a ‘feel good’ song and to this day it remains one of my all time favourites.

Club Tropicana – Bossasonic

I came across this cover version of WHAM’s great holiday classic a few years ago and if there’s one song that will have you dreaming of sipping cocktails in a cool beach club then this is it!

Wouldn’t It Be Nice – Beach Boys

I love the story of boy and girlfriend who dream of the time they’ll live together

The Boys of Summer – Don Henley

This song was a big hit in my younger ‘going out’ days. I loved the song and the story of summertime and be honest ladies, didn’t we all want to be that lovely tanned beauty depicted in the lyrics?

Get Right – Jennifer Lopez

This great dance tune reminds me of a holiday Ron and I had in Turkey. We were friendly with the resort photographer nicknamed ‘paparazzi’. One evening he asked if we’d like to go into town with him and his friends as he thought we looked like ‘really fun people’. Well!…what a compliment bearing in mind he was in his 20’s and we in our 40’s…how could we resist! A young couple at the resort joined us too and what ensued was a great night including dancing on tables, which I can’t remember but Ron insists did happen, and I still love the memory of singing/dancing to this song, arm in air a la J-Lo in DJ mode from the video! (amazing video too).

Summer Night City – Abba

Listening to this just parachutes me back to a family trip to Scarborough when, aged 13, we were walking through Peaseholme Park enjoying the atmosphere of the warm early evening when in the midst of this happy moment this song was played over the loud speakers. I remember just feeling so happy at that moment. Abba were riding high in the charts with this song at the time and I loved it. Not having music on demand back then as we do now, it was always a thrill when your favourite song of the moment was played anywhere.

Summer (the first time) – Bobby Goldsburg

I love the cool, chilled out vibe of the dreamy music which sets the scene for the story of a chance and brief encounter on a hot sunny day.

Barbados – Typically Tropical

When I was young this song was the one that made you dream of jetting off to exotic places with its lyrics about palm trees, sunshine and the Caribbean sea. It just seemed so exciting! especially when your holidays were usually at a caravan park in Scarborough or the likes.

The Girl From Ipanema – Frank Sinatra Version.

I just love this song and for no particular reason. Whenever I’m in a piano bar and they ask for requests, this is normally the one I ask for. The musical arrangement on this version reminds me of the series ‘Mad Men’…which is a good thing too!

Things Can Only Get Better – D:ream

This reminds me of the first summer when I’d met Ron. We heard it regularly on our nights out and it became one of ‘our songs’. It was also played at our wedding do and I remember me, Ron and my best friend dashing from the lounge and pushing past guests in the function room to hit the dancefloor – happy memories.

Here’s my Soundtrack to Summer – Hope you’ll have a listen and that it makes you smile too 🙂

I know you’ll all have summer songs you love, let me know your favourite.

Bye for now, June xx

 

 

Giveaway! WIN entry for 2 to Scampston Hall’s Big Vintage Festival, nr York

Looking for a great day out? Following my recent visit to The Clayshed’s Big Vintage Festival I have entry for 2 people (worth £10 each) to Giveaway for Scampston Hall’s Big Vintage Festival, Nr York, on Sunday 12th June 2016*

It’s easy to enter: Just sign up to follow my Blog using your email address**and leave a comment such as ‘Enter Giveaway’.

**Follow Blog via email field can be found on any page just below my photo and intro text

Click here for more information on Scampston Hall’s Big Vintage Festival: http://www.britaindoesvintage.co.uk/event/scampston-halls-big-vintage-festival-2/

I attended Scampston Hall’s Big Vintage Festival last year and it was a fantastic day out. You can read about it here on the blog:

https://traveljems.co.uk/2016/03/21/britain-does-vintage/

Good Luck everyony, June xx

 

(*kindly provided by organisers Britain Does Vintage)

Giveaway T&C’s

This prize is for entry only to Scampston Hall’s Big Vintage Festival. UK entrant’s only aged 18 or over. 1 entry per person. Winner will be chosen at random following Closing Date of Friday 27th may at 17.00pm and notified by direct message  within 48 hours. Winner will need to respond within seven days otherwise a new winner will be chosen. Winners name will be mentioned on Travel Jems social media in relation to this Giveaway. Winner is to provide the names of the two people attending the event by email so their names can be added to the guest list for entry to the event.

Viva La Vintage

Even if you’re a Mod!

Last Saturday Ron (The Hubby) and I attended the Clayshed’s Big Vintage Festival in Newcastle. We were lucky enough to be invited along by organisers Britain Does Vintage and after having a great time at one of their festivals last year we were really looking forward to it. Neither of us are part of the Vintage scene so to speak (unless you count Mod as 60’s Vintage) but as stated in previous blogs we really appreciate the music and fashion etc. that goes with those periods.

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What is it with festivals and the weather? Or is it just our bad luck? but after two warm, sunny days the weather couldn’t make it’s mind up providing  hail, wind, rain and sun usually at the same time. The Clayshed is a venue we’ve not visited before so I didn’t know what to expect especially as the festival at Scampston Hall was mainly outdoor and set in beautiful grounds. By contrast this place has an industrial warehouse feel which the organisers had divided up to create a comfortable tea room, stage and dance floor complete with deckchair seating plus the usual stalls. Outside there were a handful of classic vehicles plus food and drink outlets along with a fab singer, Lewis Hill, belting out 50’s & 60’s rock and roll numbers to greet the visitors. It wasn’t as impressive a setting as Scampston Hall, it was a city centre affair after all, but the bonus here was most attractions being indoors where it was dry! a tad cold mind, but dry.

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Lewis Hill 1

Male Singer
Lewis Hill

Stepping inside we were met by a blaze of colour in the form of stalls brimming with dresses and accessories and even more fantastic music filling the air courtesy of female quartet The JADeS. We strolled around the stalls admiring the new and Pre Loved offerings, wondering about the history of some of the fabulous items. It’s great to take time to speak to the stall holders, after all, Vintage is their passion.outfitsSuitcase

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One lady was the designer of beautiful Vintage dresses that retail at a purse friendly £24.99 amazing! Others were offering handmade accessories, Vintage makeovers in the form of a Hairdressing Parlour and the chance to have a Vintage photo taken.

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Wow! £24.99 dress from Gas Axe Inc

Hair Parlour

After our first sweep of the stalls we decided it was time to sit and enjoy the entertainment with cake and coffee, so off we went for our first perusal of the tasty treats. We opted for Ginger Loaf with Lemon Icing for round one and took our seats to watch the Burlesque workshop, ran by Trixie from House of Trixie Blue. Although I wasn’t sure what to expect and didn’t join in (I didn’t want my coffee to get cold!!) it looked like fantastic fun and the participants really got into the spirit of it, so who knows, maybe next time!

Tra room 4Tea Room

This was followed by a performance from Hildy Harland, a fantastic singer who specialises in Vintage Jazz, Swing and Blue numbers. It is evident that the organisers aim is to provide first class entertainment.

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Hildy Harland

Hildy harland 1

Having been thoroughly entertained and looking forward to more, we had another mooch around the stalls before sitting down for coffee number two and fruit scones with jam and cream…Yum! At this point you could hear the hailstones bouncing off the roof so we were glad of our good fortune to be sitting indoors. Next on stage were a great vocal harmony quartet The JADeS (named from their initials Jane, Andrea, Dawn and Sue) who surprised us with their twist on songs such as Creep by Radiohead and Teenage Kicks by The Undertones. They were joined on the dancefloor by the dance hosts who performed a three person jive in fantastic outfits.

The Jades
The JADeS
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The Back Step Boogie Club

Talking of outfits, many of the stall holders and entertainers were, as expected, decked out in fine attire however, it was wonderful to see people turning up dressed in their Vintage finery which added to the spirit of the occasion.

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Michelle

Outfit

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Lovely ladies from Luxulite
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Backstep Boogie Dancers

When the JADeS came to the end of their performance the floor was taken by Trina from The Back Step Boogie Club, microphone in hand, ready to lead a basic lesson in the Charleston. Requests were made for audience members to have a go but we kindly declined and were later referred to as the ‘scaredy cats’ at the side… all in good humour though! However, many people did participate including some of the singers and I was impressed with how clearly and concisely the instructor taught the basic steps bringing them all together for a ‘finale’ to music.

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Having watched the first performances by all the entertainers, we made our leave to find that the sun had just come out and quite a crowd had built up outside enjoying food and drink whilst listening to the live singer.

Outside

So we didn’t get to enjoy any sunshine, some of the later visitors got the benefit of that, but we’ve never let weather come between us and a good time and that’s exactly what we had. The weather may have played its part in keeping some visitors away, but these fairs and festivals are fantastic, fun days out and I’d recommend anyone to go along and enjoy the experience. Check here for venues and dates http://www.britaindoesvintage.co.uk/

Thanks again for having a read

Bye for now, June xx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Flight Essentials

Where Comfort Is Key

air-84603_1920 Aeroplane and Palm Trees

I’ve been lucky enough to take many a flight to reach exciting destinations, including the big one, Australia to UK, so I know what I need to be comfortable on a flight. My holiday starts the minute I leave the house so the flight itself if a huge part of that holiday experience for me and probably most of you too.

I rarely sleep for longer than an hour at a time on flights but just taking time to relax or sit with my eyes shut can work just as good for me as long as I’m comfortable. It pays dividends to be prepared and with the weight restrictions in place for hand luggage these days it’s worth paying more attention to the items you carry on board. Here are a few things that I never fly without.

Dressing in Layers

I cannot stress the benefits of dressing in layers to travel, especially if you are heading for some much anticipated sunshine. Most people believe that flights are really cold (I mean, there’s a reason why they give you those scratchy, felt like blankets right?) well yes, they are to keep you warm but the temperature can fluctuate quite a bit in either direction so it makes sense to be prepared. Yes, it was freezing when you left the house so you had to wear your favourite chunky sweater and jeans but your body won’t thank you for it when you get to the other end. Nor will it thank you if you decide to wear your strappy dress and flip flops. So think of wearing loose separates that are light enough to wear or stash in your hand luggage to have you looking stylish on departure and arrival plus shoes without buckles or straps so you can pop them on and off with ease (ballet flats are ideal in case your unfortunate to arrive to rain too). Dressing like this is perfect if you suffer from hot flushes too. Here’s an example showing how a simple vest top and sheer shirt can be worn open or closed with or without a pashmina/cardigan.

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I went for the black vest top but the pink works well if you like your shirts buttoned up (clothes from Next)
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shawl scarf from Laura Ashley
Pashmina

These are fantastic to take on board as they are light to carry, still look good if they’re a bit crumpled and will help keep you warm when the cabin temperature drops. Lets face it, draping a pashmina around your shoulders beats the blanket hands down in the style and comfort stakes. You can ditch the cardigan on arrival in sunnier climates and step of the plane looking good with the added benefit of having something to protect your shoulders and neck from any harsh sun.

There are lots of designs and materials to choose from and these two  from Marks and Spencer are my current favourites as the subtle sparkle can be worn on any occasion during your holiday.

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Water

This is most important on a flight as it will keep you hydrated especially if you enjoy a wee drink or two as I do. It works wonders for the way your skin, eyes and even nails feel whilst on board and helps you feel and look fresher when you reach your destination. I drink at least 500ml but try for 1ltr or more depending on length of flight, just sipping it throughout (in 500ml bottles or less) As you cannot take liquids of more than 100ml through passport control you’ll need to buy your water air side. It can be a bit pricey in places however I find that Boots are usually quite reasonable. Some of you may not like the idea of drinking lots of water, thinking it may entail more trips to the toilet. That’s not been my experience and I see it as an ideal opportunity to have a spritz of my favourite facial mist as mentioned in my next must have item.

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Facial Mist

After many years using Elizabeth Arden 8 hour cream when flying, I have been converted to Facial Mists. A mist has many benefits for your skin as most of them can be used on bare skin and over make up to either ‘set’ it of refresh it. I have normal skin, which felt dry and tight in flight so applying cream regularly used to work (along with the water) however, this meant removing the makeup I’d arrived in then swiftly trying to reapply it before landing. Some creams that are up the job on flights can also leave your skin feeling and looking greasy as mine used to.

My personal favourite is Liz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic Spritzer which is formulated to ‘revitalise, soothe and tone for instant radiance’. There are many on the market so there will be something to suit everyone’s skin and budget. You don’t need a lot so decant it into a 100ml bottle which will fit nicely in your handbag ready to use. My top tip is to take your spray when you nip to the toilet and spritz it whilst in there, more as a courtesy to any passengers sitting around you.

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Vaseline

This is a great all round product and I have a tin of Vaseline Lip Therapy in my bag at all times at home and on holiday because of its many uses, too many to mention here. On a flight apply it to lips and rub into nails to prevent them drying out, it will give lips a subtle sheen too (to keep your hands super moisturised pop a miniature tube of moisturising cream into your bag too, the type you get as free samples are ideal). Many people apply a little bit of Vaseline to the inner edge of their nostrils believing this will ‘trap’ cold giving germs which may be circulating in the confined cabin however it’s not known if this actually works.

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a moisturiser of your choice in a handy 15ml size is great to pop in your bag
Tinted Moisturiser

Tinted moisturiser is an everyday staple for me (although I occasionally flirt with foundation on an evening!) and is perfect to wear in flight. If you like to travel in makeup, as I do, the main advantage is that you can easily reapply at intervals without suffering the cakey look you get applying foundation on top of foundation. Using tinted moisturiser combined with a regular spritz of facial mist delivers triple benefits as you should arrive with your skin, makeup and you looking and feeling fresh. Once again, decant a small amount into a small container for your hand luggage.

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Clear Mascara

This is great as it stops you waking up looking like Alice Coopers sister! (or with Panda eyes if your not familiar with rocker Alice) It also tames eyebrows too. I love this double duty mascara from No7 but there are others out there from other popular brands. As I have my eyelashes tinted for holidays I use this most of the time.

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Neck pillow

I love a neck pillow on a long haul flight, it’s the grown up equivalent of taking your cuddly toy on holiday. Some planes have the little ‘wings’ on your headrest that you can adjust to support your head, others don’t but either way having your neck cocooned in comfort is bliss. Even when it’s not around my neck I sometimes rest my arms on it to read or nestle my ‘cuddly toy’ under my arm when relaxing.

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 Kindle/e-reader (or book)

I love reading fiction on holiday and will usually start a new book on the flight out. I prefer a kindle these days but whatever your preference and avid reader or not, the fastest way to pass the time is by reading a good book (or your favourite magazines if a book is not your thing). This added benefit of this pastime is the relaxation factor and it’s often after a good read that I actually nod off.

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Music (phone/ipod)

There is an increasing variety of on board entertainment available these days but you can’t beat listening to your own favourite music. If, like me, you struggle to sleep during a flight, reclining with your eyes shut listening to relaxing music is the next best thing. Make sure you have comfortable earphones too. I take two iPods away with me, my small one can be clipped to my clothes so if I do fall asleep there’s no danger of it slipping onto the cabin floor (how awkward is it trying to retrieve dropped items from the floor below your seat??!!!)

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 Boiled Sweets

Not being a fan of boiled sweets there’s only one reason why they are a staple on a flight and that’s because I suffer from ear pain. The change in cabin air pressure as the plane takes off and lands can cause pain as your ears adjust. Sucking a boiled sweet, chewing gum, yawning and swallowing can help. The last two don’t work for me so I choose sweets as once they’re gone they’re gone, unlike gum which you then have to dispose of. My usual choice is mints but at the time of writing I haven’t bought any for my holiday so I’ve borrowed these from the grandkids sweet tub – might just take them, you know, just in case I forget the mints!

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Hand Sanitizer

This is another item I have in my bag at all times but is an essential for a flight. The two main reasons are this: On many flights you’re in a confined space of around 200+ people and some may not have the same hygiene standards as you around washing of hands after visiting the WC or sneezing into their hands not a handkerchief for example; On some occasions I’ve found that the tray tables haven’t been wiped down particularly well, if at all depending on aircraft turnaround time, so a quick wipe down with a paper hankie and sanitizer is a good idea.

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Miniature Perfume

Lighter on your luggage (and your purse) is the handy miniature perfume tester readily given out as a freebie. Pop one in your bag and now that you’ve arrived feeling and looking great the final flourish is a dab of a beautiful scent before you pop on your favourite sunglasses and descend the steps ready to HOLIDAY!!

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There’s a BIG difference so pack your larger bottle in your hold luggage

I’ll leave you with a less glamourous, but useful ‘optional’ essential. I wear flight ‘compression’ socks (like pop socks) that help the improve blood flow and circulation in your lower leg helping to prevent swollen ankles, leg fatigue and DVT (deep vein thrombosis). If you for any reason find your feet/ankles puff up on a flight, these socks should help to combat that. (I have an old injury on my right foot and consequently this foot would puff up and feel tight, which not only feels odd but also looks odd when your left foot is fine!) So I don my flight socks, not the greatest look but hey the aisles are so narrow no one’s going to notice my feet anyway, and off I go….Sorry, no photo of me in these!

I hope you found this useful. All of these items are great to use during your holiday too not just on the flight. These products are my own and what I enjoy using however, I’m sure you’ll have your own favourites too. If you’ve any flight essentials you’d like to share, please comment below.

Thanks for having a read. Bye for now, June xx

 

 

Britain Does Vintage…

…and they do it really well.

So much so that I can’t wait to visit another of their events and will be heading to The Clayshed’s Big Vintage Festival, Newcastle in April.

I attended my first ever Vintage Festival last year and it came about purely by chance. Driving back from a weekend break visiting Chatsworth House, my husband Ron and I decided to stop off somewhere on our way home and make the most of the day. A quick internet search for events in the Yorkshire area showed something that piqued our interest ‘Scampston Hall Big Vintage Festival’ in Malton. A fair organised by Britain Does Vintage promising vintage cars, music, stalls, food and more, delivered in the grounds of a beautiful hall we’d not visited before, what’s not to love about that, so off we set.

The conversation on the journey there was peppered with comments of the grey skies and hoping the rain would stay put within the clouds above. Although the rain did not behave itself and kept putting in sporadic appearances throughout the next few hours, that could not put a dampener on this event for us. ToddandMoore HI RES08The first thing we noticed was the great atmosphere in the air, a real feel good vibe. There was plenty on offer for everyone and the setting was gorgeous, just perfect for a picnic. Bunting hung in air amongst the trees and marquees and seating was provided in the form of colourful deckchairs and hay bales. Some old fashioned lawn games were on offer too. For anyone who prefers to travel light without a picnic, several catering options were on offer along with ice cream and of course a Vintage Tea Tent.

IMG_2740 (2)Strolling around the vintage vehicle rally was a pleasure as we mused about the history of the beautifully maintained motors. Most owners will enthusiastically engage in conversation with you and answer any questions about their pride and joy.

IMG_2769 (2)IMG_2768 (2)IMG_2772 (2)IMG_2767 (2)A jaunt over to the dance marquee led to a very interesting chat with the instructors who were there to deliver fun lessons in a dance called the Lindy Hop (this dance was very popular during the swing era). It was interesting to hear that they had themselves only started dancing in later life and had become hooked, this then led to attending events like this one to encourage more people to enjoy dancing. On this occasion we declined to have a go, in part because we hadn’t expected the opportunity plus we were wrapped up against the cold however, I’d love to try something on another visit.

In need of a little refreshment we decided on a warming cuppa in the Vintage Tea Tent. Afternoon tea was to be the highlight for most people today with plenty tucking in when we took our seats however, after a hearty breakfast in our hotel, as you do when someone else is making it for you, we resisted temptation and stuck with the tea.

 

IMG_2739 (2)I love the setting of Vintage Tea Tents and rooms, and sitting here was the ideal for a spot of people watching. This though was the crème de la crème of people watching as we admired the wonderful effort people had made in dressing up for the occasion in fantastic vintage outfits.  I’ve not seen so many Victory Rolls and red lips in one place before. For those unfamiliar with vintage, the Victory Roll is a hairstyle popularised in the 1940s and is said to be named after a WW2 fighter plane aerobatic manoeuvre, though other stories abound. This style was worn by many attendees of the event as well as some of the entertainers like the fabulous Diamond Darlings pictured below. There was even a pop up beauty salon in one of the marquees where you could have your hair styled into Victory Rolls or try out other vintage looks.

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IMG_2816 (2)This leads perfectly into mentioning the fantastic entertainers we enjoyed during our visit which included the aforementioned Diamond Darlings a fabulous female duo singing not just  vintage songs but new numbers with a twist, award winning vintage vocalist Lianna Haynes singing hit songs from the 50’s & 60’s and The Last Resort a band who play music from the blues, swing and big band eras. (unfortunately I did not get a photo of Lianna).

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IMG_2738 (2)Next up was a visit to the marquees and their array of stalls featuring some of the most divine vintage products. Now, being a bit of a Mod, the vintage style is not for me but that’s not to say I don’t appreciate the beauty of the look, fashion and other items synonymous with vintage.  I love casting my eye over beautiful products and memorabilia from days gone by and imagining them being used in everyday life, this could be anything from a dress or pair of spectacles to a trinket or typewriter!

There was nothing to disappoint about this event apart from wishing we’d arrived earlier to enjoy it even more. But not to worry, 2016 brings another programme of Vintage Fairs at venues throughout Britain. Find out more on the organisers website at: http://www.britaindoesvintage.co.uk/

After Scampston Does Vintage, Ron and I agreed we’d love to visit another Vintage Fair so it’s fair to say (boom boom!) I was delighted to be invited by the organisers to attend the Clayshed’s Big Vintage Festival at Hoult’s yard in Newcastle. It’s on Saturday 23rd April 2016 and is closer to home , which means I’ll be up bright and early, maybe make a nod toward Vintage with a bit of red lippy and only have a bit of toast for breakfast so I can partake in a spot of Afternoon Tea, ice cream and more!

So you may not see me sporting Victory Rolls or arm length satin gloves but you might spot me and the Hubby trying the lindy hop as we’ll be the ones stamping on each other’s toes!

Thanks for visiting the blog, bye for now, June xx

*Images on this page include my own and some provided for use by Britain Does Vintage