I should have shares in Groupon. So far I've purchased 24 deals. We have had days out, restaurant meals, I've bought gifts, been to a foodie festival, enjoyed baking classes and we've had 4 mini-breaks this year. I've saved a fortune, done things and gone places I wouldn't have thought of, if they hadn't popped into my email inbox everyday.
The mini-breaks have definitely been the highlight for me.
We have been to Aviemore, which is in the Cairngorms National Park, in the Highlands of Scotland, Killin, which sits at the western head of Loch Tay, to the East Coast of Scotland and a fairly new hotel, right on the beach a few miles from Girvan and finally, last week we headed down to Yorkshire.
Yes, it was flooded!
We had already made our plans and it was only heavy rain when we set off. No actually, I tell a lie, it was gloriously sunny when we left Dundee, but lashing down by the time we entered England. Typical!
The five of us (my parents, Graham, myself and Cooper) were there to have a good time, come hell or high water. Shame about the high water!
We stayed at The Hopper Lane Hotel, in Blubberhouses near Otley and I am pleased to say, on a hill!
The Hopper Lane Hotel was in an ideal location. Using it as a base we could easily travel to York, Harrogate and Leeds. Well I say easily, but we had to drive through deep water a few times and some roads where shut completely because of the floods.
The hotel was a cosy retreat from the rain. An old-fashioned style hostelry with rooms attached. The bedrooms were a bit bijou, but they were clean and well decorated. The staff looked after us and made us feel very welcome.
We ate in the Hotel the first night, but just had our breakfasts there after that. The menu wasn't ideal for 2 vegetarians and a vegan. They did offer to make meals especially for us, but really, we preferred to explore and eat out.
|I loved the presentation of cakes at the National Railway Museum cafe.|
In York we stumbled upon an artisan chocolate shop in the shambles called Monkbar. Inside, we dripped and steamed while we watched chocolate being tempered. We happily stood and breathed in the wonderful aromas, while Cooper was plied with chocolate. "You won't want the dark chocolate, try the white chocolate", said the unsuspecting young lady, not knowing we have a foodie baby. "No, me wants that one please" says Cooper pointing at the darkest of chocolates. Munch, munch and another couple of pieces of dark chocolate later she has realised her mistake.
The famous Bettys Café Tea Rooms were first on my list for Harrogate. Thanks for the tip Helen.
Betty's was opened in 1919 by a Swizz gentleman who wanted to bring the combination of mouth-watering Swiss confectionery and Yorkshire warmth and hospitality to the Spa Town of Harrogate.
Old fashioned afternoon tea is served on crisp white linen tablecloths by waitress dressed in white aprons, in art deco surroundings.
My parents plumped for a Yorkshire Cream Tea. They each had two freshly baked sultana scones served on silver cake stands, with strawberry preserve, Yorkshire clotted cream and a teapot of Yorkshire Blend Tea.
Cooper had a Yorkshire Fat Rascal, a fresh sultana scone served warm with butter and a glass of milk.
Graham didn't have much in the way of choice, so he had to settle for a glass of fresh orange juice and me, well I had a creamy hot chocolate and requested cake. A trolley full of cakes was duly wheeled around to the table. I really wish I had taken a photo. I eventually picked a French Fancy. Soft, sweet pink icing covering a light sponge filled with cream. A silly little cake, but utterly delicious.
We had to queue outside while we waited for a table and Graham winced when he saw the bill, but I really enjoyed the experience and could just imagine the genteel ladies of bygone days sitting there sipping their tea and nibbling cakes while they watched the high society of Harrogate parade past the windows.
We also had a fabulous meal in Brio, an Italian restaurant on the Kings Road in Harrogate. We were there on a Wednesday night and it really got busy as the night went on, so it is obviously the place to be.
I had Bruschetta Mozzarella drizzled with the most heavenly syrupy balsamic vinegar, followed by Ravioli Funghi. Mushroom filled ravioli, tossed in a wild mushroom sauce with cream and a drizzle of truffle oil and finished the meal with Crème Brûlée, my favourite dessert.
Really good Italian food, at a reasonable price, with good service.
|Walking with dinosaurs|
We had lunch in the museum café and I couldn't resist having a child's packed lunch with Cooper. You picked a lunch box and filled it with a choice of 5 items. I had a cheese roll, a peach melba yoghurt, a penguin biscuit, which I had to hide from Cooper as he had raisins instead, a packet of quavers and an apple juice. Class! I was ready to use my two year old as an excuse if they challenged me.
The torrential rain prevented us from wandering around Leeds, so instead we sheltered in a huge shopping mall. The highlight was a filled bagel from Bagel Nash. I had an onion bagel with hummus, falafel, lettuce, tomato, onion and jalapenos. Bagels are going to be the new staple in my lunch box.
In the evening we headed to The Black Bull, another old fashioned pub, just minutes away from our hotel. The food was well cooked, hale and hearty. I had Stilton and Vegetable Crumble with mash, carrots and peas.
The most surprising meal of all came from a google search for vegetarian restaurants.
We were surprised to find a veggie restaurant in Otley. Now nothing against Otley, but it is a small town, more like a large village actually and not somewhere we were expecting to find a veggie restaurant. We dropped my parents off at a pub in the centre of Otley (my father isn't a big fan of veggie food or anything spicy) and we kept driving into the middle of nowhere.
Graham was sure I had made a mistake with the directions but we eventually found it. A cottage high up above the road boasting the most marvellous Vegetarian restaurant.
The three of us shared a Mezze Platter as a starter. Falafel; hummus; parsnip crisps; grilled haloumi and tomato in basil oil, olives, salad and home made bread. Graham fell in love with the homemade parsnip crisps, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and finished with a scattering of salt, slurp!
For main course Graham had the Chimichanga minus the dairy. A baked tortilla filled with chillied vegetables and spinach topped with tomato salsa, served with a fresh salad.
Cooper had Sweetcorn Cakes with rice and a dip and I had a Kerala Curry. Sweet potatoes, aubergine and courgettes in spicy coconut and tomato sauce on a bed of spicy minted couscous. Served with apple and pear chutney. The chutney was particularly good. Large pieces of fruit in a sticky syrup. I must ask them for the recipe.
It was getting late and we had to get Cooper to bed, so we skipped dessert. We stopped for a chat on the way out and had a drool over the cakes. Graham nearly cried when he found out the fresh fruit crumble was suitable for vegans and he had missed out.
The Cheerful Chilli gets a big thumbs up. The food was wonderful and the restaurant was charming. I do hope you visit it, if you find yourself in Yorkshire.
A happy, but soggy week of finding things to do indoors. Hopefully next time we are in Yorkshire, the sun will shine and we will be able to explore it properly. I am happy to say the sun is shining here in Dundee today, even if it is bitterly cold and we are just about dried out and free of colds after our jaunt to Yorkshire.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post. I was given a groupon voucher, which I used to partly pay for our accomodation.