Birthday Weekend 2015 – Corby/Harrogate/York

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Celebrations began with a lie-in until the ridiculously late hour of 7.45!
Winking smile 
Then, we headed out for a bit of retail therapy, descending on the rejuvenated Corby assisted by a greasy-spoon breakfast.

20150926_114714_Corporation St

After a short walk around the shops, we headed home. Tom and Julie had left a pressy for me, and not long after, Karen popped round to drop off theirs, as did Rosi. Thanks all, they’re all spot-on and it’s very thoughtful of you all!

On Saturday night, we took a trip out to our fave Chinese restaurant – Han in Market Harborough.

Han Chinese Restaurant
Even at 7pm, the place was heaving (and I can’t think it was because Strictly, was on TV tonight!). Unusually for us, we didn’t go for one of their famous Banquets – delicious as they are, there’s just too much of a good thing! So we settled for just a starter and a main – and that was plenty! It was all very tasty, and we felt comfortably full rather than our usual completely stuffed!

We headed home, faffed about a bit and then had a  relatively early night, as Ann had now done all the hard work and finished packing for our long weekend starting tomorrow.

After last year’s surprise trip to Monmouth and beyond, this year was a bit more predictable. We headed for Harrogate (and The Old Swan Hotel) with David and Valerie for an extended weekend (returning Tuesday). Hopefully, this year will less eventful, car-wise! Last year, we had road debris damage the front of the XKR followed by a squadron of seagulls mistaking the car roof for a toilet when it was parked in the hotel car-park – and I do mean a squadron! Yuk!!

Old Swan Hotel Harrogate
We left just after 9 and David did the driving – it was nice to be chauffeured around for a change! Our first stop-off was a return to the very picturesque Bolton Abbey. David and Valerie hadn’t been here for about five years, and we’d been here in 2012 (over the Jubilee Weekend) and again in 2010, when we were staying in Haworth.

A quick pit-stop was in order first though, dropping into the adjacent Tea Cottage, for a quick bite…

…before reminding ourselves of the stunning vistas that Bolton Abbey has to offer!


I was also reminded of the invigorating knackering walk around the perimeter of the River Wharfe that dominates the landscape. Actually, it was less than three miles, but with the ups-and-downs combined with the boggy nature of some of the pathways, it felt a lot longer!

An hour or so later, suitably ‘refreshed’ (and I use the word in its widest context), we headed back to the car and our home for the rest of our stay – The Old Swan Hotel, close to the town centre of Harrogate. A couple of laps around the outside of the hotel, led us eventually to the permit-only area for cars where we parked with ease. It was then just a short walk to the front door of the Hotel. The Hotel is probably most famous for where Agatha Christie disappeared to in the 20s, causing a national (wo)man-hunt. We’d upgraded our room and it was very spacious, and the free bottle of Prosecco and chocs made us feel even more welcome! I guess it was predictable that there would be a swan on the end of the bed!

We couldn’t be bothered to visit nearby Harrogate town centre for an eatery tonight, so we ate in (anyway, it’s free, as part of the hotel deal!)

We all met up in the Bar, where disappointingly, they’d run out of Guinness. Not a great start, but a pint of Theakston’s served as a suitable alternative for me.

Then it was off to the Restaurant for our free meal. The service was very friendly, but it wasn’t the most inspiring of menus (not really surprising!) – it was all edible though! Service got a lot slower as the evening progressed, especially as we got to Dessert. In fact, I think they forgot about us! Ann soon put things right though!
Winking smile

Starter – A Fish Thing

Mains – A Gammon Thing

Dessert – A Creamy Swan/Pastry Thing

So, all in all, it was just an ‘OK’ meal – but as it was free, we were all fine about it. I think the day caught up with me, and by now I was really tired. We headed back to our rooms to finish unpacking and to get ready for York tomorrow!


We slept well, and by 8.30 we were ready to try out the breakfast offering. In a word, ‘fab’.  The Breakfast Room was ‘old school’ – an ornate ceiling and wooden panels everywhere. Very nice… and very busy!

Most of us went for the Yorkshire Breakfast – in reality, a full-English. It was all piping hot and the service, unlike last night, was very efficient. By 9.30, we were ready to take on the world, but we settled for a quick walk around Harrogate instead – we noticed that surprisingly, there WASN’T a queue for Betty’s! (that’s a first!!).

After a few minor purchases in town, we decided to board the local train to York – it was quicker and cheaper than driving. Less than 40 minutes later, we were all walking out of the station.

York, as always was fantastic! We decided to ‘do our own thing’ with David and Valerie heading off in the direction of the Bus Tour, whilst we got our fix by visiting York Minster. We were last here in 2012 and before then, in 2010.

After an hour-or-so, we were both ‘minstered-out’, and so we looked for somewhere to eat. Lucky for us, we stumbled into Cote Brasserieand what a stumble! The food was great, and the service, brilliant!
Then it was another quick look round the city’s shops ending with us putting our feet up in the Park outside the Yorkshire Museum, before heading back to the station to catch the 15.11.

What a great day it’s been – and the weather was better than expected too! By no means a heatwave, but comfortable for sight-seeing. So, just time to chill-out for an hour-or-so before we’re off to a local restaurant for dinner – Quantro, just a 10 minute walk from the Hotel. Luckily David had found the restaurant when out looking for his morning paper, and combined with an online voucher, the four of us managed a full three-courser, with two rounds of drinks each, for less than £100. Result!

My Dessert – Chocolate and Coconut Cheesecake

Phew! We’re stuffed, so just time for the quick walk back to the Hotel and for Ann and me to watch Downton Abbey on catch-up!

The RHS’s Harlow Carr Gardens tomorrow, and then home.

Our final day ‘up north’, and we’re off to the RHS’s Harlow Carr Gardens. We came here back in 2010, but because it was March, it was all a bit lack-lustre, with nothing much to see. On arrival, it looked as bleak as ever! I guessed I should have loved it, especially as there were now more plants and flowers to see (compared to our previous visit), but it just lacked ‘warmth’, and the place just looked, well… desolate! zzzzzzzzzzzzzz!
Sad smile

…and in less than an hour, Ann and I were bored with it all and we sought refuge in Betty’s next door!Cripes! I think the whole of Yorkshire had descended on the place – and it was packed! We even had to queue… on a Tuesday, at 11am! Still, we blended in with the locals and had a coffee and shared an Eccles Cake (after arranging a bank loan!)

We finished with a look round the gift shop (which was actually quite impressive) before one last look for Valerie and David around Harrogate before heading south. And so, it’s goodbye to Yorkshire, and The Swan Hotel

It’s been a great break; the weather has been kind, the food has been (mostly) great and it’s always good fun spending time with David and Valerie. Memorable moments for me were (in no particular order)

  • Seeing York Minster again
  • The outstanding meal at Quantro
  • Trying to beat David’s record for how long to make a Werther’s Original last in your mouth (I failed! – personal best 32 minutes though!)

Previous Birthdays…


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