Friday, 28 November 2014


My great passion in life is travel - abroad and in the UK - finding new places and spreading the word.  Because of that passion I've also come to love a good hotel.  I used to be happy (and occasionally still am in the warm weather) with a sleeping bag and a tent but these days you'll more often find me looking for something a bit special - boutique hotels and beautiful places to stay with all mod cons and that little bit extra something.

We were recently lucky enough to spend a night at Ox Pasture Hallnear Scarborough  in beautiful North Yorkshire and I can honestly say, it was one of the loveliest places we've stayed in a long while! We turned up after a difficult weekend - initially cancelling and then rebooking, which didn't phase Lynsey on reception just one bit. She took it all in her stride and welcomed us with kind words and open arms, including our dogs in the very warm welcome and going the extra mile by serving our afternoon tea in our room so we could have a bit of quiet time.

The tea itself was superb - lovely fresh sandwiches (with their crusts cut off as is traditional!), a selection of gorgeous cakes including lots of yummy chocolate but also an AMAZING mini mango tart (fortunately there were two of everything or there could have been a fight!) and two enormous scones with a very generous pot of cream as well as jam and butter!  All this on top of being slightly overwhelmed by the size of our suite, which was, quite frankly, almost as big as the downstairs of our house!  The decor was really soothing - sand coloured with cream and sage linen and curtains and beautiful honey coloured wood.  We had an enormous lounge with a great sound system, TV, dining table and very comfy sofa, a bedroom with a huge bed (and second TV - luxury!), and a superb luxury marble bathroom with THE most amazing taps on the bath and sink as well as a wet-room type shower!  Nothing had been missed, with lots of extra touches - a fan for summer, heater for winter and lovely bath robes for after your soak!

We needed a pet friendly hotel as we were accompanied by our two Scottie dogs.  Lots of hotels say they accept dogs but this one genuinely loves them.  All the staff make a fuss of them and we were  seated in an area of the Bistro with extra space for dogs.  There's a lounge area next to the bistro with an open fire and, in fact the only place our pooches couldn't go was the restaurant.  Not only that, but, as the hotel is located in the North Yorkshire Moors National Park and only two miles from Scarborough, there are moorlands, woods and beaches galore to walk your four legged friends!  The beauty of our suite was that it backed onto a lake owned by the hotel as well as having a courtyard at the front where they could run out for a quick night-time walk.

It's hard to describe how peaceful Ox Pasture Hall is.  Surrounded by fields, we woke to the sound of bleating sheep just outside our window.  Lynsey and Shaun, the owners, are completely in tune with this and have set up benches and seating areas around the grounds - perfect for reading or just contemplating the landscape.  There are lots of  little touches throughout the hotel like this, which show just how much thought they have put into it.

We were looking forward to dinner but hadn't really taken on board what a reputation the hotel has for being one of the best restaurants in the Scarborough area. The head chef is renowned for cooking fabulous food and the modern creative menus are packed with local and regional produce showcasing the best of Yorkshire food and we were blown away by our meal.  We both loved our choices but my salmon with horseradish ice-cream starter was out of this world and I think my duck leg was probably the best I'd ever had.  I was determined to resist dessert but Jason, who was looking after us, brought two spoons for Cookie's Caribbean Cocktail, including creamy mango rice pudding, coconut pannacotta, passion fruit sorbet and pina colada - dreamy!  

Obviously, I was also looking at Ox Pasture in terms of a wedding venue and I think it's pretty perfect.  Set in 17 acres of secluded grounds with stunning panoramic views of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, the hotel can cater for almost any type of wedding from large, exclusive use; Asian and multicultural weddings; outdoor nuptials; evening receptions and small intimate affairs including civil partnerships and wedding vow renewals.  The venue also lends itself to seasonally themed weddings - think winter snow or spring flowers.  What I love is that the hotel has lots of character areas but also some barn-like rooms which are perfect for decorating in whatever style and colour you choose (I couldn't help but picture Mabel, our vintage bike, sat outside in the courtyard).  There are several courtyards with fountains - perfect for photographs and, in fact, you can take a look at their wedding gallery for inspiration but here's a peek at a few past weddings.

If you're looking for a venue in beautiful surroundings, with amazing food, friendly staff who go that extra mile and will help make your day really special, as well as incredibly comfortable accommodation and a fabulous 'morning after' breakfast I really think it's you couldn't ask for more.

We left the next morning feeling properly rested after a great night's sleep on a wonderfully comfortable (and enormous!) bed.  My only grumble was that we couldn't stay another night!

We made a 10 minute detour into Scarborough (where I spent many happy childhood summer holidays) for a walk on the beach before heading off back down the motorway and back into the 'real' world.  I've already recommended Ox Pasture Hall to a couple of friends who are looking for a break from the rat race and it's definitely on our 'return' list. 

I'd love to hear from anyone who gets married there - I think it would be pretty darn magical!

Thursday, 27 November 2014


Today I received my long-awaited book order through the post and it occurred to me that it would be a perfect Christmas present for anyone who loves Bristol Vintage so I thought I'd write a quick post to let you know about it in time for Christmas ordering!

To give you a bit of background, several years ago I read about someone who was putting on a 'market' in her flat in London.  I was intrigued, signed up and that's how I met Kerstin Rodgers, aka Ms Marmite Lover.  I loved her instantly - she is one of those people with a big personality - fun, feisty, bursting with ideas and not afraid to put those ideas into actions.  

At her first market I sold my vintage wares from her bed and shared her bedroom with several fascinating stallholders, including a cocktail bar on her ironing board!  Sadly, she's no longer able to hold the at-home markets, but her last 'night market' will be one of my enduring Bristol Vintage memories - I was based in her gorgeous garden shed-cum-guest room, surrounded by fantastic-smelling food stalls and a piano-accordionist playing Radiohead's 'Creep' with barely a free inch to breathe, the evening was so popular- a surreal, fun and inspiring night to remember!

Kerstin launched the supper club/pop up/underground movement in the UK in 2009 with The Underground Restaurant and her Find A Supper Club website is the major online resource for supper clubs to advertise their dates and locations.

Her first book 'Supper Club: Recipes and notes from the underground restaurant' is one of my favourite recipe books (and, according to my husband I have far too many!) and has proved a really popular gift amongst my friends.  It's also stunningly beautiful, fabulously innovative and the sort of book I like to just sit and read in the evening.

My copy of Ms Marmite Lover's Secret Tea Party arrived this morning and immediately fell open on one of my all time favourite sweet treats - Pasteis de Belem (Portuguese Custard Tarts). I'm ashamed to say that, what was supposed to be a productive afternoon working, has ended up with me salivating over glorious photographs of divine afternoon tea recipes, from the obligatory Marmite Sandwiches, through fabulously simple Olive Oil & Chocolate Crostini, naughty Magic Meringue Mushrooms to the wonderful Outrageous Multi-tiered Raspberry Pavlova as well as teatime cocktails!  Including tips on furnishing and setting the table, making your own cake stands and reading tea leaves, the result is another beautiful, imaginative, inspiring cook book that anyone who loves cooking, baking AND eating will adore!

Right - had better get back to work ... but think I'll just make a Ginger Hot Chocolate to keep me going!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014


I'm so excited!  Moomie Swan has done it again and come up with this fabulous artwork for next year's Bristol Vintage Wedding Fair at Clifton Pavilion, Bristol Zoo Gardens.

I love working with Moomie - I just give her a short brief and she runs with it and always 'gets it'.  This year I sent her a couple of photos of Audrey Hepburn in a beautiful wedding dress to give Moomie a feel for the period and style I had in mind ... and she did her research, worked her magic and came back with this amazing 'Roman Holiday' inspired artwork.

I hope you love it as much as I do.  In the New Year watch out for our postcards in shops & cafes throughout the area but, more importantly, keep checking into this blog to read all about our gorgeous exhibitors!