Sunday, 24 May 2015

When Dad's Army came to Bridlington

Hands up if you remember the TV series, Dad's Army? If you were a fan, you may be aware that a film version is going to be released in 2016, with a whole host of stars including Toby Jones (Captain Mainwaring), Bill Nighy (Sergeant Wilson), Catherine Zeta Jones (a reporter) and Tom Courtenay (Corporal Jones). They have also cast The Inbetweeners actor, Blake Harrison, to play the part of Pike which I think is a perfect match.

But did you know that filming took place late last year, not on the Kent coast, but in the Old Town in Bridlington and other locations on the Yorkshire coast?

I can see why they chose Bridlington to be the fictional Walmington-on-Sea. Away from the bright and brash sea front with its amusement arcades and fish and chip shops, lies an altogether more peaceful historic quarter. The quaint 17th century High Street, with its period architecture, has changed little over the years and is reputed to be the most complete Georgian street in the UK. It's little wonder it was the ideal choice to represent a 1940s street in this new film.

Jones the Butcher...?
What surprised us on our visit over Easter was that some of the businesses in the street still retained parts of their Dad's Army makeover. No longer offering sausages and meat pies, the owners of the business behind this windwo are obviously loathe to lose their link with the film so have kept the lettering.

A few steps further on, The Georgian Rooms, where we had a tasty simple lunch, served on mismatched vintage crockery, before we climbed the stairs up to the antique centre above to rummage through jewellery and pottery. We also wandered into the gardens beyond where a number of outbuildings housed even more treasures.

Conscious that I often forget to buy a souvenir from our trips, I spotted a very sweet, tiny teddy bear, sitting in a glass case and obviously needing a new home. He has no connection to Yorkshire, other than the fact that the evening before we had all been watching a programme about a man who collected Steiff bears (do other people watch random TV programmes when they are on holiday or is that just us?) I bought the little bear and christened him Bridlington Bertie.

As if that wasn't enough miniatures for one day, it was the choice of Rory's girlfriend, Juliana, to spend some time in Bondville Model Village, a magical little kingdom on the top of Sewerby cliffs where we had dined on sublime fish and chips the previous day. Set in an acre of pretty gardens, Bondville's houses, shops and castle are all hand-crafted and very, very small. With an hour to go before it closed, we had a lovely time choosing our favourite house or shop, watching the tiny figures on the green playing cricket and the train tootling round the village. Other families were trying to spot things for the free quiz trail. We decided to just sit on the benches by the teeny harbour, and reflect on another very happy day on the East Yorkshire Coast.

Gulliver in Lilliput or Burgess in Bondville 

The detail inside a bakery in Bondville. 


Sunday, 10 May 2015

Mum's gone to Bridlington: Sewerby Hall

Rory and Juliana on the cliff tops at Sewerby, near Bridlington.

"I think these fish and chips might be the best I've ever tasted"

"Better than the ones we had in Seahouses?"

"Hmm, it's a close call but this fish just melts in the mouth."

The setting probably helped. We were sitting on a bench overlooking the sea, just east of Bridlington (you can just see the benches in the above photo) and everyone was happy and relaxed. Piping hot fish and chips from recommended chip shop, Sewerby Fisheries, were devoured from the paper wrapping, the sea air adding extra saltiness to the meal. It was the perfect end to the day

It had begun early as we picked up Rory's girlfriend, Juliana, from the station at Seamer so she could join us for our little holiday. Once she had settled herself into our gorgeous accommodation, High Barn Cottages, we set off for Sewerby Hall which was only minutes away from our cottage: the ideal choice for a lazy afternoon in the sunshine. A Grade I listed building, constructed in 1714 by the Greame family, Sewerby Hall has had numerous extensions over the years: a stable block, portico and The Orangery. It's an impressive house, but an intimate, charming one. Bridlington Council purchased it in 1934 and it was opened to the public in 1936 by famous local aviator, Amy Johnson. There is a fascinating collection of memorabilia pertaining to Amy, donated by her father in 1958: it was wonderful to see what a dare-devil she was - truly an inspiring young woman. 

Whilst the house has so much to offer, having been restored using furniture from the Victoria and Albert Museum, we were keen to make the most of the warm weather so made a beeline for the zoo. It's a tiddly zoo but we did see lemurs, alpacas, capuchin monkeys and some very adorable Humbolt penguins. 

Although we only had big children with us, the Sewerby Estate is a very family-friendly place with nature detective activities and an outdoor games area. I don't think our 19 year olds would have been allowed onto the adventure playground but we did pick up some golf clubs and, paying a donation rather than a fee (maybe it was the end of the day and the chap had gone home) we played 18 holes on the putting green where I executed a superb hole-in-one fairly early on. My celebratory dance was enjoyed by a few onlookers who, I'm sure, were most impressed by my obvious talent. 

Visitors can also play on a nine-hole pitch and putt course plus, at certain times, they have foot golf which, I gather, is a fairly new hybrid sport, a combination of football and golf. I wonder if that's the sport I've been waiting for: the one I've been hard-wired to excel in? I'll never know.

The Clock Tower Cafe would have been a perfect place for a bite to eat if we weren't already late for a pressing engagement with a battered cod. We said goodbye to this tree (pictured below) , who seemed to be whispering something to us - probably 'What a remarkable swing you have there, have you thought of taking up the game?' - and made our way to the cliff top...

Sewerby Hall and Gardens, Church Lane, Sewerby, Bridlington, East Riding of Yorkshire, YO15 1EA. Tel: 01262 673769


Tuesday, 5 May 2015

Magnets and music, birds and books

It's been a busy few weeks since we had our little trip to Yorkshire just after the Easter weekend. I still have lots to write about our stay in Bridlington  - blog post imminent.

Rory has now returned to Exeter after a wonderful few weeks at home. He is now starting his end of year exams and then we're not entirely sure when he will return for the summer - begs the question what on earth the third term at university is for? I can't remember whether that was the same when I was studying - but then, that was in the Dark Ages...

Probably the best way to tell you what else I've been up to is to share my newspaper column pieces with you - here are the latest ones you might like to take a look at.

Small reminders of happy times

Find out about the five-legged glass bull and Granny smuggling alcohol though customs...

Limbering up for a musical night

Latest news from rehearsals for our next SADOS show and how I am at the age when choreography and words don't seem to stick!

Photo from Julian at Welland Photo Services.

Spotting birds and bikes in Yorkshire

A little taster of what we got up to in Bridlington: birds on Bempton Cliffs and bikes in preparation for the Tour de Yorkshire cycle race.

Joining in World Book Night

Enjoying a glass of wine and a free book on World Book Night - at our local independent bookshop, Bookmark in Spalding.


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Luxury and comfort at High Barn Cottages, Yorkshire

Can you spot our owl?

There can't be many self-catering cottages in the UK where, from the comfort of the living room or bedroom, you can watch an owl webcam via the television. In High Barn Cottages you can do precisely this. All five cottages are linked up to the webcam to watch the resident barn owl slumber in its nest during the day and occasionally fly off for food at night or meticulously preen its feathers.

How did I find this special property?
I had been searching on the internet for the perfect coastal cottage, somewhere on the east coast, for a short Easter break. I was hoping the holy grail of self-catered accommodation would reveal itself. By chance, whilst browsing online, my subscription copy of Coast magazine landed on the doorstep.

I first came across this magazine when we were staying in Northumberland last summer. Remember our gorgeous little flat in Seahouses? Coast magazine was provided for guests in the apartment and I spent so many hours drooling over driftwood and sand, I thought I'd get a monthly fix.

In April's issue they had a feature on a weekend in Bridlington, suggesting places to visit in and around this pretty seaside town on the Yorkshire coast. The author had stayed in High Barn Cottages and although there was only a very small image of the property, I took it as a sign. A quick look on Google and it was just what I had been looking for: a two-bedroom, two-bathroom stylish and comfortable barn conversion.

Their website was wonderful - 360 degree views of each of the five cottages, floor plans, oodles of useful information about the area and it was easy to see which dates were available. Why can't all holiday accommodation sites be like this?

After much deliberation I chose The Granary, a property on two floors and I booked it online. The owners, John and Angela Foster, were delightful to deal with: they came to the rescue when we had to delay our break for a couple of days because of family illness, changing our booking with no fuss.

The cottages are located just outside Bridlington. Surrounded by fields and trees, they are secluded and peaceful, but only minutes from the bustling seaside in one direction and the scenic Bempton Cliffs in the other.  Accessed from the road using a keycard at the gate, the cottages are secure, with ample parking. Each cottage has its own patio area with garden furniture at the rear, and a bench and low table at the front.

High Barn Cottages:
The Owl House, The Granary, The Spinney, The Hayloft and The Cake House
The owners, as the fourth generation to farm the land here, are committed to their role as guardians of the land and buildings for the future. The cottages are extremely eco-friendly: there is a wind turbine in the fields which is the source for the heating and collected rainwater is used for the washing machines and loos.

Our cottage, The Granary, has a large comfortable living/dining room with two squashy cream sofas, a wood-burning stove and a good-size dining table. The kitchen has a gloriously vibrant colour palette with vivid red worktops. The two bedrooms are spacious with high ceilings, both using features from the original barns to create unique living spaces. There are two chic en-suite bathrooms - one with a bath, one with a shower. Both bed and bath linen are top quality.

The Granary interior

The owners have given much thought to make the property luxurious and yet a real home from home. Underfloor heating and chic rugs downstairs keep the stone floors deliciously warm; a hamper is provided including home-made apple juice, chocolate and muesli; there's a bookcase full of reading material and free dependable WiFi. I loved the fresh daffodils on the table, the paintings on the wall (particularly the Ian Mitchell prints of Yorkshire) and the cheerful ornaments which give the cottage that personal touch.

Some of the little touches in The Granary to create a homely feel.

Is it suitable for children?
I would say children are welcome but the pond in the grounds makes it less than ideal for very little ones. Two of the cottages are single-storey and these are a good choice for those with mobility difficulties. Our family dynamics - two adults with two chilled-out teens, was a perfect match for High Barn Cottages. It's certainly a place in which you can kick back and relax. Just look at the feature window in the main bedroom.

How about this for a window and a view from the bed? 

I'll tell you more about our stay in Yorkshire in due course but our Saturday night's entertainment consisted of a fabulous meal at Suppattra Thai in Bridlington, recommended by other guests as well as our hosts. We returned home, opened a bottle of wine, and took our usual positions on the sofas. A quick peek at the owl cam was necessary, a ritual we had settled into during our four-night stay..

It soon became apparent that our little owl was a female and she was having a much more action-packed Saturday night than we were. Seconds after we switched on, a visitor flew into the nest to join his mate. It's a wonder the poor male wasn't put off his stride by the cheers and whoops from four very enthusiastic voyeurs sitting in a room just a short distance away.

The Verdict?
There was an overwhelming chorus of approval from the whole family. But don't just take our word for it. The accommodation is a finalist in the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence 2015 in the self-catering category, having already won several awards over the last few years within Yorkshire itself. I'm not at all surprised.