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Posts Tagged ‘weekend’

As anyone who read my previous post – https://saturdaywalks.wordpress.com/2014/12/07/the-old-telephone-exchange/ – will know, this (long) weekend has been spent in North Yorkshire, celebrating my birthday.

Sharon had planned a fabulous weekend of good food and time to relax, so after our trip to Ripon, on my actual birthday, I relaxed. Sharon had tea to cook after all – from scratch and from goods she’d brought along with us. We had Butternut Squash Ravioli for starters, with a spicy tomato garnish and spinach. this was followed by a Griddled Rump Steak, battered onion rings (remember – all from scratch and there was no fryer), mushrooms in a cream sauce, Roasted Sweet Potato and some delicious potato skins. Yummy. This was followed by Tarte Tatin. There would have been cheese – but we were too full.

The following day, breakfast was scrambled eggs and smoked salmon (how lucky am I?) and then although Sharon had researched some walks around the area, and because it was cold, we decided that following our breakfast we would set out and take a look at Thirsk and Northallerton. There was a nowtish market on in Thirsk and I found it disappointingly depressing, whereas Northallerton on the other hand was a whole lot better. So, anyway, we ‘did’ the charity shops, bought a Christmas special Fat Rascal from Betty’s and came home to light a fire and relax before popping out for a splendid meal at a pub five miles away.

The Crown Inn at Roecliffe

is a 16th century coaching inn that retains the inn’s historic features, such as stone flag floors, crackling open log fires and oak beams

and has a fabulous reputation for food and for service. Both of which, following our meal last night, I’m happy to say were richly deserved. We were made to feel welcome throughout our evening, service was attentive without being ‘in your face’ and the food was delicious. I had a pressed belly pork starter and Sharon had ox-tail tortellini. Both were home made and fully flavoured. Mine came with spicy noodles, most of which i had to leave for fear of over-facing myself.

Next, our mains arrived: Sharon had a Venison dish that was just right; whilst I had the Yorkshire Lamb. Two cutlets, perfectly seasoned and a small side dish of shepherd’s pie. We managed to finished a bottle of Malbec too – so a good time was had by all.Β  Home now and eating left overs πŸ™‚

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My birthday weekend – part 4.

Also see [– 1 –], [– 2 –] and [– 3 –].

Afternoon tea

Tony and Gill left by taxi at midnight to return to their (at that point, secret) hotel. We tidied up and went to bed. On Sunday morning, while Sharon cooked up a delightful breakfast (the last of her self-imposed cookery chores for this weekend), I made many trips up and down the four flights of stairs to pack up our car. By the time we were ready to leave I felt like I’d climbed Ingleborough, just up the road.

I had ascertained, during Saturday’s dinner conversation, that we would be joining Tony and Gill at their hotel for Sunday evening. That much I knew. What I hadn’t known was that the hotel was only about four miles away and that I would be given another surprise as we arrived there, about 11.30am. Too early to book in, but not too early, apparently to be given an envelope containing our voucher for an hour of archery training and practice.

Sharon’s bow

How exciting.

Archery has never been something I’d said, or thought I wanted to do, but was thrilled to be given the opportunity anyway. We had to wait for our trainer, Andrew, in ‘the lodge’, which reminded me of Fred Flintstone’s Water Buffalo meeting room – all wood and testosterone. The lodge was where all those out for their weekly (daily?) ‘shoot’ would meet to practice on clay pigeons. It was awfully noisy. Anyway, Andrew came along and whisked us away to the Archery Butts and an hour of learning new skills began.

To be fair, we didn’t do bad. We were on short ranges and managed to hit the target butt with every arrow except one and by the end we were grouping the arrows fairly well. But there’s a lot to remember. Face this way; move this leg forward a little; turn your head towards the target; hold the bow this way – not that way; pull the string back this far; take a deep breath; don’t wobble etc.

‘Don’t wobble’ – how many planes of wobbles are there? I suppose I should ask an airline pilot! Straight arm holding bow + straight other arm holding arrow, straight back 90ΒΊ to the floor in all directions + no lateral movement of the arm(s) or head. Phew – exhausting. But fun πŸ™‚

We then went and booked into the hotel, at which point I was given my final envelope – afternoon tea for two! See above πŸ˜‰ We were stuffed, but still managed to meet Tony and Gill for dinner in the bar/restaurant.

What a great, memorable weekend. Thank you Sharon xxx

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Readers of earlier posts [-1-] and [-2-], may remember that my birthday weekend had so far been a series of surprises – each one topping the other.Β  My previous post had seen me reeling from the arrival of invited (but unexpected by me) guests Tony and Gill. I’d left the post promising to detail the food that was served up by Sharon after a long, hard afternoon in the kitchen.

After celebrating with a glass of fizz, we sat down to:

Gnocci

Served with roast cherry tomatoes, blue cheese and rocket topped with a sweet pepper sauce.

Sharon had made the gnocci and the sweet pepper sauce during the afternoon, so I knew we were having roast peppers at some stage because the delicious smell peculated throughout the room I was in. This was followed by:

Seared Tuna Steak

Served with lemon and coriander couscous, samphire and garlic butter.

Fresh Tuna cooked in garlic butter is one of our favourite meals, so this was a delight. All the flavours were balanced nicely and the steak was not too big for its role in the meal.

Pan-fried Leek & Ginger stuffed Chicken SuprΓͺme

Served in a white wine sauce, with sweet potato, feta cheese and a crispy sesame seed savoy cabbage.

Sadly up to and including this point we had taken no photographs of the food. We were too busy enjoying the experience, the company and the wine, which Tony had very kindly brought along with him. We next had a choice of ‘cheese first’ or ‘pudding first’. Tony and I had cheese, the ladies had pudding – which was again, magnificent:

Garden Berry and white chocolate Cheesecake and cream

This was based on the mixed berries we had picked at home and made into jam.

Mixed Berry Cheesecake

Mixed Berry Cheesecake

And that, apart from a few petit four type nibbles she’d bought in, was Sharon done for the night. The meal, the company and the day had been a great success and something I will remember as a birthday treat for a long, long time.

In the next post I will wrap up Hellifield and move on to my final day of surprises – Sunday 8th December. b.t.w. I lied about the pics. …..

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Sharon and a faceReaders may remember that I left the food content of my previous post for another time. This is that time. Whether I get to the Sunday events will depend on how lyrical I wax about the food πŸ˜‰

Readers should also be aware that at home – I cook.

When I don’t feel like cooking or am too busy it’s usually a case of “Sharon, are we having pizza tonight?” because I know she likes cooking pizza and I know that she doesn’t find it too much of a chore. I usually step up to the plate and concoct a salad from whatever we have in the fridge. Meal sorted!

But I also know that SHE CAN COOK. She can cook very tasty food, and this weekend she did just that.

Before settling into the delightful apartment we unpacked the many bags and cool boxes Sharon had surreptitiously packed into the car and from that moment I was ‘sort of’ banned from the kitchen. Which was a good thing really because I was knackered after carrying all those bags AND our luggage (I’d been told to ‘bring smart clothes for two evening meals, casual clothes, your walking clothes AND anything else you think you might want‘ !!) up the many flights of stairs. So I relaxed into my iPad Kindle App and a bottle of beer.

Burger and chipsFriday’s evening meal was that American classic: Burger and chips. Sharon had made and seasoned her own burgers and cooked Cajun style potato wedges to go on a toasted slice of Handmade Bakery ‘sleepless white’ with rocket leaves and a soured cream quenelle. A quenelle FFS! She’s been watching too much Masterchef that girl πŸ™‚

Saturday breakfast (my birthday) was a magnificent triumph over adversity. I was served up Eggs Benedict. They were delicious, despite the fact that the hollandaise sauce had had to be made with a fork! Hollandaise, made with a fork was something I’d never seen before. Although Sharon had sneaked my knives (a canvas wallet of various tools I always take on non-flight holidays and weekend breaks) in with her – she hadn’t noticed the whisk πŸ˜‰ Nevertheless – breakfast was a delight and took both of us back to New Orleans where we’d first enjoyed this dish together.

Hellifield Peel Castle Staircase.

After our trip out to Settle, I was told to relax with the paper, the Kindle and/or whatever I liked until dinner was ready – but ‘keep out of the kitchen‘. So I had a long luxurious bath (in this aprtment’s HUGE tub) and lounged around the main room in my (provided) bathrobe. I thought it would be nice to eat dinner in my bathrobe too, as it appeared (because of all the banging and whirring and delightful smells from the kitchen) that we were not going out.

Good music, good relaxing atmosphere and absolutely nothing for me to do. Bliss.

Then I was asked if I was dressing for dinner.Β  Well I’d thought not, I was perfectly happy as I was. But I had apparently thought wrong: ‘If I’m going to all this trouble etc. etc.‘ – so off I sheepishly went to change. I’d half a mind to just go back and sit naked at the table but then (luckily) I thought better of that.

I returned, less than ten minutes later to find our friends Tony and Gill sat at the table waiting for dinner too.

I was bowled over – THAT was another surprise!! They’d been part of the weekend’s subterfuge which Sharon was orchestrating exceptionally well. So far I’d had a secret trip to Ilkley; was enjoying a secret weekend in a luxury apartment at Hellifield Castle; had food created for Friday dinner and Saturday breakfast by a secretly competent chef and a trip to Settle at lunchtime. NOW I had this other (not yet final) surprise of dinner guests – and a dinner yet to be served. What a cracking birthday I was having.

I will detail dinner next time πŸ™‚

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I am a lucky man.

This year’s birthday was not a significant number, I’m not (as far as I know) dying and I’ve not (as far as I know) been a naughty boy – but my lovely wife Sharon has just treated me to the most wonderful surprise weekend.Picture of Hellifield Peel Castle from the Telly Tubby hill opposite

Hellifield Peel Castle

I had known that I had to keep the weekend free and that we wouldn’t be back home until Monday, but other than that, I was in the dark.Β  As we left home on Friday I was given an A4 sheet of images, which was designed to be my teaser for the weekend to come. I have to say that it meant very little to me – I sort of guessed a couple of things but in entirely the wrong context, hence the entire weekend was an unfolding mystery to me. I mean – Robin Hood, Fat Rascals and Mad Hatters???

RoofWe were late setting off because of a catastrophe we’d had the day before. During Thursday morning, enough of Betony’s roof slates had blown off (in the fierce >80 mph winds) to leave massive holes in their roof. Because we were uncertain of how safe the ceiling would be, she and Josh, and Mischa their French Bulldog pup, needed to stay the night with us. Sharon had therefore to delay our planned departure to allow time to drop them back home in time for her to meet and direct the builder booked to fix the roof (he did, it’s fine).

Ilkley was the first point of call. We had a late lunch in a pub on the crossroads, browsed the charity shops and bought fat rascals at Betty’s before setting off again to our final destination of the day. I had had no idea where I was going but I am glad we went there.

Hellifield Peel Castle was one of Channel 4’s Grand Designs. [See] and is situated north of Skipton in the Yorkshire Dales and about seven miles short of Settle. The house is magnificent, very well presented and the owners are a delight to meet, they can’t do too much to help guests settle in. Sharon had booked the Attic Apartment, which is the only one available for self-catering (and furthermore, the only one available when she booked last March!) The balcony allows uninterrupted views of Pendle Hill in the distance, but having had that pointed out on arrival, we never saw it again because of cloud and rain 😦 hey ho.

I was then treated to a series of delicious home-cooked meals, right through to our departure after breakfast on Sunday. I’ll write about the food and the Sunday surprises in another post because if I do so now, this post will be never ending.

Bench on Hellifield Station

Click to see bigger image

On Saturday (my birthday) after breakfast we drove to Hellifield Station and caught the train into Settle, where we had a fairly desultory mooch around the charity shops (bought pans for Betony and toast racks for us!).

We finished that journey in The Lion, where I had a cracking pint of Old Hooky. Once back at base, I continued to do nothing much and to be waited on hand and foot πŸ˜‰

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