Visiting the Yorkshire Coast

A couple of weeks ago we stayed overnight at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel near Scarborough.  We drove there from Newcastle and on the way we stopped to take in a few places along the Yorkshire coast. To get there we had to pass though the North Yorkshire Moors National Park, a place of bleak beauty. Miles of scrubby moors and hills with high gradients. You can imagine the hardship of life out here in the Winter when snow covers the hills. Desolate and uninhabited, you could walk for miles without seeing a soul. The coast is another matter, picturesque towns overlooking the North sea. Fishing boats anchored in the harbours and castles and abbeys sitting on the top of vast looming cliffs. It is not a friendly sea, the mood can change from mild to lashing waves, sweeping people from the shore.

Whitby

We stopped at Whitby and ate sandwiches, Whitby Abbey looming over us. The shore below was where the boat carrying Dracula was washed ashore in a wild storm, the crew all dead. A large black dog was seen to ascend the steps of Whitby abbey, one of the forms of a vampire. It is easy to see how the Gothic splendour of the abbey inspired the work of Bram Stoker, the ruined Benedictine abbey is stark against the sky.

Whitby AbbeyWhen I visited years ago with some friends from school we took pictures of ourselves rising from the stone dips that resembled graves inside the abbey. We did not visit this time, we just ate our lunch watched by ponies and looked at the view.

Pony at WhitbyWhitbyWe drove along the harbour, enjoying looking at the fishing boats and the old buildings set along the side of the road. The greyness of the day added to the atmosphere, you could sense the history in the stones.

WhitbyWhitbyRobin Hoods Bay

Robin Hoods Bay is a small fishing village located between Scarbough and Whitby. I had visited years ago but my husband had never been. I wanted to revisit and we stopped on our way back home. My son was mystified as to why it was called Robin Hoods Bay, he knew Robin Hood was from Nottingham. The place is well worth a visit, it is like stepping back in time. Brooding cliffs hover over a steep hill where fishing cottages spill down to the sea.

Robin-hoods-bay-2Leave your car at the top of the hill and walk down the twisting descent, past cobbled alleyways and picturesque dwellings. You can imagine smugglers at work here, easily hiding from the customs.

Robin-hoods-bay-3The ascent is steep, take it slowly and look at the range of shops as you pass. It is well worth lingering as you never know what is round the next corner.

Robin-hoods-bayScarborough

Scarborough is a busy seaside town with two bays overlooking the sea. We visited the north bay and drove along the seafront. Large cliffs loomed overhead and the castle was visible in the distance. Golden sands stretched out as far as the eye could see, glowing in the morning light. The last time we visited my son was four and rode on a donkey along the sand. There were no donkeys visible, it was too early in the season.

Scarbrough

We found an interesting statue contemplating the sea. It was flat and calm today, but sand covered the road speaking of storm battered shores. I can imagine the waves crashing onto the road when it is rough.

ScarbroughNearer to the town there are more buildings and signs of fishing. Fishing boats anchored in the harbour and stacks of lobster pots. The Grand Hotel stands proudly on the hill, watching over the shore. There are echoes of the past here, you can imagine the Victorians wandering along the shore taking in the sea air and taking the tram back up to the hotel.

Scarbrough-8

Scarbrough-6

Robin-hoods-bay-4We were surprised to see a mention of home as we drove along the shoreline. A packet is apparently a small boat that used to carry mail and this one has been immortalised as a pub.

Scarbrough-9

Out and About Linky

The out and about linky is for any places you have visited, restaurants you have eaten at or holidays you have been on. It is hosted here and also on Chez Maximka. The linky runs until the end of the month. February’s out and about round up had lots of diversity and places that I want to visit. This page has more information about the linky and links to all the previous round-ups.

Rules of the linky

1. You can add up to three posts per month to the linky below. Please make sure they are no older than three months old and feature somewhere you have visited.

2. Tweet your link using #outandabout, if you include @ali991 and @maximka25 we will retweet for you.

3. Do pop along and comment on a couple of other posts in the link up and share the love.

4. We would love it if you could add the #outandabout badge to your post so that other bloggers can find us.

Dragons and Fairy Dust


The Death of the Fields

Last week the sign appeared. It looked innocuous until you read it. It announced the death of the fields. Housing development was imminent. For me the fields were like a taste of country in the city, an ever changing landscape. A place where I could catch glimpses of beautiful sunrises.

Sunrise

Sunrise

A place where I could watch the changing crops and seasons, one year the fields were yellow from the rape seed flowers, another year they were golden from ears of corn.

FieldsA place where wildlife could be seen, butterflies dancing among the nettles, a pheasant making a break for it and running giddily across the field into the distance. Once I disturbed a heron standing in the stream, contemplating the water, before it took off with its wide wings beating the air. A place of tranquillity, where a morning walk is filled with bird song. A place with hidden secrets, where we found hidden apple trees and blackberry bushes. We picked the bounty and went home to make apple and blackberry strudel. A place filled with memories.

We went for a walk by the fields before they disappeared. Taking in the view under brooding skies that were filled with foreboding. The dog was happy to run and play along familiar paths. Happy to be off the lead and exploring. My son ran with him, they raced each other, seeing who was faster.

FieldsThe skies grew darker as we walked, the sun doing it’s best to shine though. Beams of light being filtered thought the clouds.

Fields

We reached the dipping pools, nothing stirring in the water, no pond skaters or dragonflies until the weather gets warmed. The floor was muddy as it had been raining and the dog turned from white to brown. We stopped at a bench for a while, taking in the view.

Fields

As the skies grew darker we decided to head for home. We had left it late, hail rained down, stinging our faces and turning our hands numb. We ran, trying to find cover. Heading for the woods where we might find shelter under the trees.

FieldsIt stopped before we made it, leaving a frosting of hail over the ground. A frosting that soon disappeared, as if it had never been there. Pretending it had been sunny all along.

FieldsWe got home and made hot drinks, cold but happy from our walk. Enjoying the fields for the last time. Now the diggers and bulldozers have started to appear. Orange lines mark where the houses will be built and portacabins are being put into place. The work will begin soon and the fields will die.

Country Kids from Coombe Mill Family Farm Holidays Cornwall

A visit to Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse

I love living in Newcastle, there is so much to see and do and always something new to discover. From interesting museums like the Great North Musueum, fabulous art galleries like the Baltic and the Laing and quirky historic features like the Vampire Rabbit. Millennium hotels have created a guide of the best places to go in Newcastle. When they got in touch and asked me to recommend a favourite place I knew I wanted to visit Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse.

Newcastle has seen a spate of new restaurants opening recently, from the Coop Chicken House to the Botanist. Longhorns Barbecue Smokehouse can be found on Mosley Street. It promises meat, Texas style, rubbed with herbs and spices and smoked over hickory for 24 hours. Having seen the Longhorns in action at the Boiler Shop Steamer I was looking forward to finding out more.
longhorns barbecue smokehouseIt is not possible to reserve a table at Longhorns, you need to turn up and wait. The place is not large and you do need to stand while you wait. We had to wait twenty minutes for a table, which would be a problem if you were infirm. It would have been nice if there was a row of stools against the wall for us to perch on. This would not have taken up much space. You are able to place your order while you wait and get a drink from the bar. This means that when you do get sat down your food arrives quickly. The staff are efficient making sure you get sat down as fast as possible. The food is worth the wait.

longhorns menuThe interior of Longhorns is full of wood, a wooden bar, wooden tables and stools and the menu is written on wall on a large blackboard in chalk. Over the bar is a pair of Texas longhorns and there is a row of shotgun casings. The music is some sort of American folk which adds to the atmosphere. It all works together to give you the feeling of a cattle ranch. You almost expect some cowboys to come walking in having tied up their horses outside.

longhorns barbecue smokehouseThe menu contains meat, lots of it. For the daring there are Man vs Food type challenges. You can take on the Breaking Badass Challenge which consists of 7lb of meat and sides which has to be consumed within an hour. Alternatively there is the Tex-Ass Torture Challenge made up of 12 chicken wings soused in a very hot Tex-Ass torture sauce. Finishing these challenges earns you a t-shirt and a picture on the wall of fame. We decided to forgo the challenge and just eat from the main menu.

The main menu is simple, choose from ribs n wings, sandwiches or bbq boards featuring meats in different ways.   Ribs N wings gives you the choice of a full or half rack of pork or beef ribs or six or twelve chicken wings. My son chose a full rack of Badass beef rib which came with a side (£10). I am sure the ribs are actually from a dinosaur.

Badass beef ribsI chose to have a BBQ board. This gives you a choice of either three meats and two sides (£12) or two meats and two sides (£10). The meat selection gives you a choice of pork ribs, wings, badass brisket, spicy sausage and memphis hog butt. The sides are fries, slaw, 3 bean chilli, hog rind and pit beans. I went for three meats choosing the brisket, sausage and hog with fries and slaws.

BBQ boardThe meals are served on a wooden board and wooden forks and knives are provided to eat them with. The table has a couple of bottles of sauce, one was labelled hot and the other was not labelled. It tasted like some sort of barbecue sauce with a sweet and smoky tang

The meal was delicious and really filling. You could taste a nice subtle smoky taste in the meat. The sausage was smoky and spicy with a taste of garlic in the background. The coleslaw was lovely and the fries were crispy. The meal was good value as well, for a main for the three of us and drinks it came to just under £40.

There are two desserts available, key lime pie and salted caramel brownie but we were too full to try them. We enjoyed our meal when we finally sat down and Longhorns is definitely worth a visit.

I received a meal in return for an honest review but my opinions are my own.

Staying at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel

On a wet day in February, during half term, we set off to spend the night at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel. Situated a few minutes drive from the seaside town of Scarborough in seventeen acres of grounds overlooking the North Yorkshire Moors, Ox Pasture Hall is a tranquil country retreat. Driving up the country road to it we were beginning to think we had taken a wrong turn when we suddenly came across the sign for  the hotel. Turning into the car park we found the luxurious country house.

Ox pasture hall hotelOx Pasture Hall Hotel was originally a farm which was farmed by the Asquith family from 1919 until it was sold in 1961. During the second world war the two Asquith daughters opened Dovecote cafe which served afternoon and high teas. The cafe became well known in Scarborough and visitors would walk out to enjoy their tea, either on the lawn overlooking well kept gardens. or inside the farmhouse. It is fitting that Ox Pasture Hall is now a hotel.

ox pasture hall hotelThe staff were very friendly and welcoming, making sure that the stay was a pleasant one. From the moment we arrived they were attentive to our needs, without being intrusive. Little touches, like having a spare toothbrush on hand for my son who forgot his, made our stay very pleasant. Check in was quick and easy and we were shown to our room. The rooms are named after Yorkshire towns and villages. We were staying in the Skipton suite, which was appropriate as my granddad was from there. The barns and outhouses of the original farm have been transformed into accommodation  and as a result there are lots of courtyards and passages to explore around the hotel. This gives it a definite charm and you feel there is a surprise around every corner.

The rooms

There are 32 bedrooms at Ox Pasture Hall hotel which come in a range of different sizes from  singles and doubles to luxury suites. We were staying in one of the suites which had a lounge, bedroom and bathroom. The sofa in the lounge turned into a bed to accommodate my son.  Entrance to the suite was via a courtyard with an ornate fountain in the centre of it.

ox pasture hall courtyardInside the suite the bedroom had a king size bed, which was gigantic. The window overlooked the courtyard but had both blinds and curtains. We did not feel that we were overlooked. The room had a large flat screen TV.

ox pasture hall hotel bedroomThe suite contained everything you could need from an iron and ironing board, a safe, extra bedding, a hair dryer, a selection of hot beverages and plenty of storage. There were also fluffy bathrobes hanging in the wardrobe. The design is open plan and a doorway leads though to the lounge.

ox pasture hall bedroomThe lounge had a lovely view out over the fields and my son was excited to see an RAF plane flying low over the moors at one point. The sofa bed was out but there was still plenty of space. There is also a TV and a  radio/cd player in the lounge.

ox pasture hall bedroomBeyond the lounge was the bathroom which was very large and luxurious. Tastefully decorated with stone tiles throughout it felt like the sort of bathroom a film star would have. The bath was large and roomy and the shower felt like walking under a waterfall. I will let the pictures speak for themselves.

ox pasture hall bathroom
ox pasture hall bathroom
ox pasture hall bathroom

ox pasture hall bathroomThe Food

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel offers two dining experiences. The courtyard restaurant, named as it overlooks the courtyard, has been awarded 2 rosettes for culinary excellence and recommended in the Michelin guide. The menu uses locally sourced ingredients to create a modern British menu. If you prefer something more relaxed then the Bistro offers traditional British gastro pub food. We ate in the courtyard restaurant which is tastefully decorated with quirky touches. I particularly like the pictures of the Italian chef on the walls.

ox pasture hall restaurantThe food is gorgeous and beautifully presented and the portions are more than adequate. There is plenty of selection on the menu and it is difficult to choose as everything sounds lovely. These are some of the thing we ate.

A taster of the soup of the day to start served with a choice of bread. The soup was tomato with fennel and aniseed. I really do not like aniseed or fennel but the soup only had a very slight hint of this which worked really well to complement the soup.

ox pasture hall tomato soupStarter – Traditional Prawn Cocktail £7.95

ox pasture hall prawn cocktailBoth my son and I ate this and we loved the presentation, it looked really special and tasted gorgeous.

Main Course

My husband had the lamb – 2 Bone Rack of Lamb with Lamb and Kidney Faggot, Dauphinoise Potato, Butternut Squash Puree – £21.50

 ox pasture hall lambI had Pan Fried Sea Bass with Chorizo Ratatouille, Fondant Potatoes and Red Pepper Coulis – £18.50

ox pasture hall pan fried sea bassMy son chose Crispy Smoked Haddock Tartlet with pea purée and potato gnocchi – £15.95

ox-pasture-hall-food-8For dessert I had Lemon which was Lemon Cheese Cake, Yoghurt, and Lemon Tart Ice Cream – £7.95.

lemonThe food was absolutely gorgeous and the staff were attentive but did not rush you in any way.
Breakfast the next morning was also lovely. There was a continental breakfast with toast, cereal, yoghurt and fruit and we also opted for the full Yorkshire breakfast. This set us up for the rest of the day.

ox-pasture-hall-food-7

 

The surroundings

Ox Pasture Hall Hotel is surrounded by gardens which are filled with surprises around every corner. It is lovely just to walk around and explore enjoying the tranquillity and bird song. The hotel is dog friendly, you are allowed to bring your dog and there is plenty of space to let them run around. This is very welcome as it can be hard to find someone to look after your dog when you go away. Children would love investigating the gardens as well, and there are plenty of places just to stop and sit.

ox pasture hall

The courtyard

ox pasture hall hotelox pasture hall hotelox-pasture-hall-19 ox-pasture-hall-14 ox-pasture-hall-12 ox-pasture-hall-16 ox-pasture-hall-22ox-pasture-hall-15Inside is equally welcoming with a bar area next to the Bistro and two lounges, one with a roaring fire and both having overhead beams. It is the perfect place to sit and relax after an afternoon exploring.

ox-pasture-hall-29 ox-pasture-hall-30 ox-pasture-hall-31If you are looking for a relaxing break away from everything Ox Pasture Hall excels. It is lovely and quiet with gorgeous scenery and you really do feel that you are deep in the heart of the country. If you are looking for bright lights Scarborough is not far away and Whitby and Robin Hoods Bay are within driving distance.

We were provided with an overnight stay and our food in return for an honest review but the opinions are my own. I would like to say a big thank you to the staff at Ox Pasture Hall for a lovely relaxing break.

Fine Dining Aboard DFDS Seaways

If you live in the North East you will be familiar with DFDS Seaways. Based at the Port of Tyne they depart daily for Amsterdam and can often been seen on the horizon when you are at the coast. Travelling by ferry to Europe allows you to bring your car, giving you freedom to travel when you disembark. If you prefer you can take advantage of of a 2 night mini cruise which allows you to spend a day exploring Amsterdam. The trip is overnight and there is plenty to keep you happy, from fine dining, to bars, a casino, a cinema, shops and a play area for children. When you have had your fill of this you can retire to your cabin for a nights sleep.

DFDS Seaways at port of tyneI have travelled been on a day trip on DFDS Seaways before when we went on the Sunderland International Air Show sailing. We had a very enjoyable day with lovely food and a great view of the planes. When I was invited aboard the King of Seaways to spend the day behind the scenes with the head chef and bar manager I was delighted. I have always wondered how difficult it is to prepare food for large amounts of people and what goes on in the kitchen to make sure everything runs smoothly. We had an enjoyable day and learnt a lot.

On-board Restaurants

There are a number of different restaurants aboard the King of Seaways giving you a range of dining options for your night on-board. If you pre-book before boarding you will save money as well as being able to choose to eat at a time that suits you. If you are looking for a light meal or just a coffee then the Lighthouse Café or the Latitude Restaurant are ideal. The 7 Seas Restaurant serves an international buffet, which is all you can eat, so you can try a bit of everything. With over 80 dishes from around the world you will be spoiled for choice. In the morning a delicious breakfast buffet is available here as well with hot and cold options.

Finer dining is available as well, steak lovers should try Explorers Steakhouse. The steakhouse serves steaks from the USA which have been aged to perfection. There are plenty of other options including burgers and salads. If you prefer pasta and pizza then Little Italy is the place for you. For elegant and contemporary cuisine the  Blue Riband restaurant is the place to be.

Blue Riband RestuarantWith dishes like pan fried sea bass in butter  or braised pulled lamb shank served with garlic mash you will not be disappointed. The menus change every three months and include local and seasonal dishes. The prices are actually quite reasonable, the Seven Seas restaurant is £27.99 with half a bottle of wine and three courses at the Blue Riband a la carte restaurant is just over £30. Under threes eat free and children are half price.

In the Kitchen

The head chef, Brian Jacobsen, is responsible for keeping the kitchens running smoothly. Brain has worked for DFDS Seaways for over 15 years and is obviously passionate about the job. As head chef he is responsible for the menus, making sure his team of 18 are getting everything ready on time and that all the diners are happy. The food for all the restaurants is cooked in one kitchen and I imagine that it can get very busy.

Head chef aboard DFDS seawaysIt is hard enough timing a meal for a family and getting everything ready. Brian needs to ensure that all the different dishes that have been ordered are ready at the right time. He does this with a grace and attention to detail that shows his experience. I did wonder how they managed when the seas got rough, but apparently they just batten down and have safety measures like bars around the stove to stop the pots falling off.

Katy making breadWe were soon being put though our paces in the kitchen, helping to prepare our lunch which showcased food from each of the restaurants. The ship has its own baker with bread being baked freshly every day. Katy from Lady From A Tramp was soon put to work cutting out loaves. I was in charge of making mini pizzas. I was most impressed with the pizza dough machine that flattened out the dough into a nice round circle. I was soon put to work making the mini pizza bases and topping them with home made tomato sauce and mozzarella.

PizzaEveryone had their own job to do and the lunch was soon being plated up. It was obvious a lot of thought had been put into making the food look good as well as taste nice.

lunch being plated upFood being plated upOn the lunch menu was:

  • Trout Mousse with Cucumber Salad
  • Smoked Scampi with aioli
  • Homemade duck spring roll
  • Mini Pizza Margarita
  • Veal with gorgonzola and chorizo crumble
  • Gateau Marcel
  • Homemade bread

DFDS seaways lunchIt certainly gave a good taste of what to expect dining aboard.

Bars

There are seven bars aboard the King of Seaways, all offering a different vibe. You can sit outside in the Sky Bar and watch the sea go by, enjoy live music in the Navigators Bar or just enjoy a drink with friends in the lounge at the Compass Bar. If you prefer a wine, beer or whisky tasting session on your trip these can also be arranged.

CocktailsA full range of cocktails is also available and we got a demonstration of great cocktail making skills, enjoying a refreshing drink as well.

DFDS-seaways-15DFDS Seaways seem to be aware of the needs of all their customers, making it possible for families to have a good time alongside hen and stag parties. They keep a close eye on the mood in order to make the trip as enjoyable as possible for everyone. I had a really enjoyable day and am considering booking a mini cruise to Amsterdam. I am sure that my son would love it.

Thanks to DFDS Seaways for a lovely day aboard.