Last weekend I was up in the beautiful Yorkshire Dales. We headed North from Kings Cross train station up to Leeds and then on to Ilkely, a pretty market town.

We were visiting a very good friend, but to give everyone some space we booked a very cosy and comfortable Ilkley Airbnb apartment, smack bang in the middle of town. Great for a couple or two friends planning a holiday in Ilkley.

We spent a lot of time catching up and on the Friday night we went out for a delicious curry at the Aagrah curry in Ilkley . Great service and delicious food, but we ordered far too much. It was very popular with families and groups of friends out for a night out.  I particularly liked the elephant out the front of the restaurant.

We woke up bright and early on Saturday and headed down to the park, followed by some cheeky bacon butties. Ilkley is a very pretty town. We took a stroll down the Grove, taking a look beautiful Bettys cafe window. A lovely place where you can stock up on baked goods, I liked the look of their famous Yorkshire Rascals.

I had a peak inside and saw the magnificent macaroon towers and beautiful loose chocolate counter. It is a beautiful shop and very hard to walk out without buying something.

Check out this spectacular Easter egg, not sure what I would do about that if someone gave that to me.

img_9390

We popped into the many charity shops, where I picked up some great paperbacks. I spotted that lots of the shops have some really beautiful tiling in the doorways. The below is a particularly beautiful example.

Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

We also popped into the Grove Bookshop with another beautiful window display. I wanted to buy most of the books. The ground floor of the shop is a general bookshop which caters for all tastes. We also carry a wide range of Yorkshire books, from life in Bradford’s textile mills to the stunning photographic landscapes of the Dales. Their travel section was pretty impressive as well.

Apparently Alan Bennett frequently pops in to sign copies of his popular books.

 

img_9387

On Sunday we climbed up the Cow and Calf Rocks on Ilkley Moor, they are a large rock formation consisting of an outcrop and boulder,  one is large, with the smaller one sitting close to it, like a cow and calf.The rocks are a great place to climb and the moor offers spectacular views of Ilkley and beyond.

It was a cold and windy day but look at that beautiful view.

dsc01160

I did some shameless posing up on top of the Cow and Calf, with the Yorkshire Dales spread out behind me. It was very cold.dsc01183

There is a cafe up the top and we grabbed a coffee under the heaters and headed back into Ilkley. Where we went to Outside the Box cafe. A great community cafe with lots of toys for my friend’s children to play with. A nice spot and doing some great work.

dsc01191

We had a quick wander before we had to make the long journey back down South.

 

 

dsc01197

Valentines Day certainly divides opinion in my office, half my colleagues deliberately don’t observe it. The other half are far keener. I spotted some Valentines Day research today that showed over half of UK adults (52%) don’t plan to buy a gift for their loved one this Valentine’s Day. Almost half (48%) are not even planning to buy a card.

To me that seems a bit sad.

I am a romantic (I blame the books I read as a child). Looking back my most memorable Valentines Day when I was at school, I got four cards, one from my Mum, one from the old lady over the road and two from actual boys. I think my Mum and the old lady across the road were worried I wouldn’t get one! Plus my best friend’s little brother sent me a rose from the boy’s school. One of the boys who sent me a rose is still a good friend. I am having dinner with him and his lovely wife later on this week. The other ended up being my first serious boyfriend. That Valentines day has never been surpassed, although I have had some nice days.

Tomorrow I plan to bake some Valentines Day biscuits, which is on trend according to the research as people are most likely to select small personal gifts such as handmade items (21%). I gave my boyfriend some rather nice Paul Smith orange socks. I may get dinner out at the new pizza place down the road or dinner cooked for me at home. [He is currently in the kitchen making something complicated with aubergines.]

I have been reading a lot about Valentines day today and the wisest thing I read is that rather making a grand Valentine’s Day gesture if you must. But a real grown-up romance is built from 1,000 daily acts of kindness. So I am hoping for a card tomorrow and a cup of coffee in bed.

I love Spring and I am eagerly awaiting its arrival. I also love flowering bulbs and planted lots this Autumn. The hard work planting all your Spring Bulbs in the Autumn is always worthwhile when you start to see the fruits of your labour.

We are finally emerging from the grim winter weather. On Saturday we even had some sun. In my little spot in South London it has been raining relentlessly and I have not ventured outside for quite a while. One morning last week I grabbed my camera and headed outside.

This week I popped out to have a quick look around and it was great to see all the bulbs peeking up through the ground or from the Spring bulbs I had planted in containers.

I was delighted to see the Primulas has survived the winter and offer a bit of yellow cheer. Although they look a bit soggy.

dsc01095

Not only the garden is full of spring flowering bulbs. Inside the house I am filling them with signs of Spring. I love hyacinth flowering bulbs and tulips at this time of year. Plus I try to buy Daffodils whenever I get the chance.

dsc01088

 

dsc01092

dsc01104

But the garden looks like it needs a little bit of tidying up. A project for when the weather is a little better.dsc01103

A quick blog post to get back in the swing of blogging after a long hiatus. My Mum died just before Christmas and so I hit pause whilst I dealt with the funeral and everything else that was involved.

My friends and family have been lovely and are taking great care of me. Today my lovely friend Ali took me to Cafe Murano in Covent Garden for lunch. We had a great time.

We sat at the bar and I kicked off the meal with a Negroni. Daytime drinking is a bold move for January but I am not stinting myself at the moment.

img_8840

img_8837

The menu is amazing and we started off by sharing the Mozzarella with Prosciutto di San Daniele  (which was delicious) and grilled squid. We then moved on to Swiss Chard ravioli, a great choice, we chose the smaller portions so we had some space for pudding. We finally finished off the meal with vanilla panacotta and  Yorkshire rhubarb.

fullsizerender

After eating far too much we went for a stroll around London to work off some of the food. Even though the weather is freezing we saw some lovely places. I always love the flowers outside beautiful Liberty London.

We popped into the the temple of temptation, John Lewis on Oxford street, and did some window shopping. It was window shopping as I am avoiding clothes shopping until pay day. We are also trying to declutter the house and so I can’t bring anything else home until we get rid of all the clutter. A post to follow on that soon.

I love clothes and this Garden Posy Casual shirt caught my eye, love the pattern.

img_8851

This long sleeved dress from Selected Femme Gaila Printed Dress in dark sapphire would be a great addition to the wardrobe.

img_8852

So thank you lovely Ali for a great day. When times are a little tricky having good friends is a real blessing.

 

This year has been an interesting one, some great moments and some terrible ones.

Dwelling on the positives I went on some fantastic trips.

I went to Copenhagen with my lovely friend Ali. Ventured to Antwerp and Sicily with Joss. Plus we both explored beautiful Northern Ireland with my cousins. copenhagen

img_2909

A rather wild hen do in Sicily.

img_3607

So what will 2017 bring? It will definitely involve travelling. It may involve a move but I am sure it will mean some more gardening.

I also plan to have to perfect my watercolours since I received such a beautiful set from my brother.

We will see what 2017 brings. I look forward to sharing my adventures with you all.

laura-new-year