what to do in Ashby

On our travels we are always on the look out for things to do while we travel up and down England and Scotland. We recently wanted to know what to do in Ashby and we found it was famous for its Castle. We decided to visit The Ashby De La zouch Castle and we were not disappointed. Situated in the lovely little town of Ashby in Leicestershire. The Castle is dominating the skyline above you, you can’t fail to be impressed. It is an English heritage site and when we arrived we decided to get the free audio so that we could get the feeling of a bygone day whilst listening to the history of old. The audio is very amusing and sort of conjures up the time with its dramatic accounts of the different eras.

Ashby De la Zouch Castle

It was originally a house in the 12th century but gained Castle status in the 15th century. This was due in part to Lord Hastings a very good friend and confidant of Edward IV (his lord chamberlain). Lord Hastings had the chapel and the keep like Hastings tower added, which is 78 feet ( 24 meters high). You can climb the rather steep stairs of the tower ( no hand rail) to the top where you get some magnificent views of the countryside and of the sunken grassland in front of the Castle which were presumed to be a new garden feature of the times. Poor old Lord Hastings was executed by Richard the III following the demise of Edward IV. Hastings was accused of being a traitor.

Ashby De la zouch castle

Looking Down from Lord Hastings Tower onto the Chapel he had built.

As you walk around you can feel the history ooze out of the structure of the buildings. In later times the Castle was to see may Royal guests, these where to include Henry VII, Mary Queen of Scots, James I and Charles I. When you listen to the accounts of the kitchen you soon learn that it would have been a very expensive affair with only the finest of meats, fish and breads where served and the amount by todays standards would leave any dietitian today agog !!

Ashby De La Zouch Castle Hastings Chapel

Lord Hastings addition The Chapel

During the Civil war this was a Royal stronghold but it did fall to the parliament in 1646. When Charles I, heard of the defeat at the battle Naseby he high tailed it North on the run. There is an ingenious tunnel from Hastings tower to the kitchen presumably for a quick escape and also perhaps so that weaponry could be transported underground during the civil war. You can still visit it today even though it can be a little damp, there are lights to guide the way.

We would recommend anyone who is looking at what to do in Ashby to visit this lovely setting and amazing structure and off course walk around the lovely town.

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Dryburgh Abbey Hotel

We love to go to Scotland and we spend a lot of time in the Scottish borders area, this time we stayed at the Dryburgh Abbey hotel near St Boswells. The Dryburgh Abbey Hotel is directly next door to the Original Dryburgh Abbey and is on the river Tweed and is in a perfect Scottish setting nestled in the hills.Dryburgh Abbey Hotel

The hotel is set in some lovely grounds overlooking the river. This is our second stay at the hotel purely because we enjoyed it so much the first time so we decided to give it another go !! The first thing you notice apart from the beautiful Tweed river is they have a disability ramp up to the hotel. ( I thought this was fab) especially for the elderly or infirm or those that want to take their suitcases in this way rather than up the stairs. very thoughtful !!

Dryburgh Abbey hotel view of River Tweed

Dryburgh Abbey river tweed

The Hotel is very popular with people who like outdoor and rural type pursuits with salmon fishing on the tweed river etc. We did see some gentlemen fly fishing in the tweed river but the pictures didn’t come out very well so I couldn’t post one here drats !!

The rooms are large and the beds very comfortable. Each room has coffee-making facilities, an iron and ironing board, a hair dryer that didn’t work after a while ( my partner fixed this by brushing out the dust that had accumulated in the filter at the back of the dryer, he is a genius I would never of thought of it !!!) it had obviously gotten very hot and it just overheated and stopped. The rooms also have wifi so no need to go to a lounge or reception to google !! There is a trouser press which we never use but is great I expect for the business traveller.

Dryburgh Abbey Hotel Room

 

We had dinner and breakfast included with our break and on the first night we ate at the bistro. The waiting/serving staff where great, especially Caitlin who was bubbly and she was very entertaining. Ian Gammy was superb and has all the refinement of a gentleman and it reminded me of the programme upstairs down stairs with all the english gentry. We remembered him from our visit the last time and he was very attentive and extremely polite, and well read on Scottish whiskies. To top them all was Dom, the french food and beverage manager who was always running around organizing everything and he was very personable and friendly.

Dryburgh Abbey Hotel Bistro

On our first night I had the haggies, neeps and tatties to start scrummy and then wild mushroom crumble with salad equally yummy. My partner had the lamb fillet with potatoes and tomato concasse.

Dryburgh Abbey wild mushroom crumble

Wild Mushroom Crumble

On the second night I had haggies neeps and tatties to start followed by beef steak pie and banana crepes. We brought the wine downstairs to the lounge area and had cheese and biscuits, wow was I  full as a googy egg !!

Dryburgh Abbey haggis neeps and tatties

Haggis neeps and tatties

My partners Lamb fillet below, the picture does not do it justice !!!

Dryburgh Abbey hotel Lamb fillet

Lamb fillet with potatoes and tomato concasse

Cheese board and wine relaxing in the lounge area mmmmmmhhh !!!!

Dryburgh abbey hotel cheese and biscuits

The pool was a nice treat and we did have a swim, the best bit was we had the pool and spa to ourselves.

Dryburgh Abbey hotel poolThere is said to be a ghost in the hotel and the story goes that one of the Monks from the adjacent Abbey formed a friendship with a lady of the house, when the Abbot found out he ordered the killing of the Monk immediately. When the lady learned of this she threw herself into the river and drowned. She is now known as ‘ The Grey Lady’ there have been sightings of her in the out buildings of the house and also the chain bridge. The story goes that she is only active when she is displeased with something going on, such as builders working on the building in 1991.

We only had one misgiving and this was that the pillows were not the best, we did ask at reception and where told they only had feather pillows, a bit perplexed I went to have a look and I am still trying to find a duck or other bird with polyester feathers ha ha !!

All in all though this is a fab hotel, set in a great area with superb attentive and friendly staff. This is a Rave !!!!

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The Old Red lion

We where invited by some friends to check out a pub in Welham called The old Red Lion. Situated in the small village of Welham we weren’t expecting anything typically special, boy were we wrong !! When you enter the pub, you are first struck by the amount of cars parked, we couldn’t find a space and had to wait until someone moved on luckily this wasn’t too long, granted it was the weekend but for such a tucked away place it seemed a little odd. But soon to be understood !!The Old Red Lion welham

We found a table, but only just as it was packed out. We ordered some wine which was a very nice and crisp New Zealand wine called Akau, a Sauvignon Blanc. It was a lovely wine and reasonable at £12.

The Red Lion AKau wine from New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc

The Menu is extensive and for us can be a bit of a put off only due to the idea that with so much choice the food may be sub-standard.

We all ordered our food, our friends ordered the Chicken Mexican fajitas and I ordered the Nut Loaf made of cashew nuts and cheese and my partner ordered a sirloin steak.

When the food came the Fajitas were on a sizzling skillet with mixed red peppers and onions  and came with tortillas and five toppings of Guacamole, lettuce, cheese, sour cream and salsa. My nut loaf came with chips and gravy and the 12 oz sirloin steak came with chips and peas and was cooked medium rare to perfection All the meals where of a decent large size and everyone had a perfect meal. They where all mouth watering !!!

We ended the dining extravaganza with great coffee and an indulgent Chocolate lumpy bumpy and if you are anything like me, in heaven with such a great desert. (mmmh want some now) layers of chocolate sponge, rich flavoured mousse and luxurious lumpy bumpy cheesecake with chocolate flavoured ganache sprinkle with nuts, chocolate chunks and drizzled with chocolate fudge and served with cream. Ahh divine, my partner ate half and he doesn’t like chocolate ( go figger)

Their motto is remember its a ‘ pub not a restaurant’ . You could be mistaken thinking it was a restuarant as the food is suberb, love to find these little gems, or in this case to be led to one !!

The Red Lion is part of the Henry Taverns group and if you would like more info head over to their website. They have five other locations and these details can be found on the website.

Henry Taverns (also on the website you can see some great deals !!!) The address is The Old Red lion, Welham, Nr Market Harbour. Leicestershire. Le16 7UJ  Telephone 01858 565253

Would most defiantely go back to The Old Red Lion and may try some of their other locations. This is a Rave !!!

 

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2 Great camping/caravan sites in East Devon

We are always on the look out for great camping adventures, we recently found 2 great camping/caravan sites in East Devon. The Andrewshayes Holiday Park and the Ladram Bay Holiday park. So we thought we would do a review on them both.

The picture below is of a fisherman fixing his nets at the bay of Ladram holiday park. Thought he looked too cool for school so asked him for a photo 🙂

2 Great camping/caravan sites in East Devon

Ladram bay A fisherman

The Andrewshayes Holiday park is at Dalwood, Axminster EX13 7DY and The Ladram bay is at otterton, Budleigh salterton, Devon EX9 7BX. has a pebble beach, and boats for rent. The picture below is of the next bay and is accessible by boat or at very low tide.

2 Great camping/caravan sites in East Devon

we look for dog and child friendly sites as we occasionally borrow both ha ha !!  nah only kidding 😉

On entering the Ladram Bay holiday park you are first struck by how well organized they are, you are greeted by a gentleman that beckons you to a parking spot and then you head for reception to check in. After that a guy comes in his tractor and guides you to your pitch.

Once there we set up and then headed out to see what the site was all about. We had been given a show guide and a large brochure explaining the park in detail. The park has entertainment every evening to include, bingo, karaoke, and cabaret and the bar has a pool table and also a darts board. The beach at Ladram bay with direct access to the campiste/caravan site is not a sandy beach it is pebbled but the outlook into the bay is stunning, with a little cafe and a boat ramp. There is also a fish and chip shop in the main part of the ladram bay holiday park, which is great for a change from cooking.

2 Great camping/caravan sites in East Devon

Outside the bar there is a children’s climbing frame that has been designed in the shape of a pirate boat and looked like great fun. The swimming pool was absolutely stunning, really clean, life guard on duty and even had jacuzzi style lounge chairs sunken into one part of the main pool. The bubbles come on intermittently. The newly installed water and fun pool area for kids was a big hit, we even went down the water slide ourselves even if we were queuing with 5 years old ( oh well anything for a bit of a laugh). It was very well designed and was a big hit with all the kids and with us as well !!

Ladram Bay Kids Swimming area

Ladram Bay kids swimming area

We went to the bar each night to watch the live entertainment, its was good fun but it did emulate the feeling of the days of the hi de hi television program ( if you can remember that far back) in saying that we did enjoy it and we especially liked the show night that starred Arnold Gutbucket, he was fabulous and has us in stitches.

2 Great camping/caravan sites in East Devon

Arnold Gusbucket

The Andrewshayes site has an indoor swimming pool, a play park and also a games room for children, for the adults it has a bar with pool table and a restaurant located at the ploughman’s bar, great for when you have had enough of cooking in your caravan. There is a small shop selling ice cream and post cards etc and it is only a 5 minute drive to the shops. The showers are clean and have plenty of hot water, also a laundry and free freezer for you to use. The site itself is not too  large.

We would recommend both of these holiday parks, they are more inclined to families and pets so if your looking for something a bit quirky this is probably not it !! we do, do quirky but only when we go alone by ourselves ( no Dogs, no Kids) I hope you liked these 2 Great camping/caravan sites in East Devon why not check them out.

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Aspley House London

Aspley House London, was the residential  home to the Duke of Wellington known as Arthur Wellesley ( Which I didn’t Know) I also didn’t know he was Irish, yes born in Dublin. He is famous for saying ” if a man is born in a stable does this make him a horse ?” this was because he thought of himself as English.Aspley House London

The Aspley House London oozes grandeur and as you enter there is a magnificent portrait painting of The Duke hanging on the wall in the foyer. The other very striking art is the statue of Napoleon the 1st of France, as mars the peacemaker, which is a marble statue that stands dominant in an almost pride of place setting towering above you in the stairwell in the Duke of Wellingtons residence. It is said that although The Duke never met napoleon, he held him in high regard as an adversary and great leader.Aspley House London statue of Napoleon 1st of France

Aspley house also contains a variety of different items of very fine china and lots of art work which the Duke loved to collect. The fine china where many gifts given to him by the Kings of Prussia, Austria and Saxony.

As you meander around the house you are struck by the ingenious architecture. In the formal dinning room there are false walls that come down to cover the window areas and inlaid in these are large mirror, this was to reflect the chandeliers and also the silver and glassware so that it gives a very opulent feeling as the light bounces of the mirrors a sort of today’s bling !!!

Aspley House London Dining room

The other striking feature is in one of the other dinning rooms there are false doors shaped in a bay so that they can retract when servants enter and exit and can be less seen. The old adage seen but not heard comes to mind !!. Above is the picture of the dining room and you can see the arched bay shapes in the corner. Not a great picture but you can see the overall general premise. If you look to the right at the end of the room the door covering bay is closed, but to the left it is open and you can see through to the hallway.

It was the Bicentenary of the Duke of Wellington from june 18-21st 2015 to mark the wining of the Battle of Waterloo against Napoleon. The Duke of Wellington marked as a great soldier and leader is said to have hatted bloodshed and the aftermath of war. This is a great place to visit, would highly recommend it. Aspley House London is situated at Hyde park corner and you can see the Wellington Arch from the window of Aspley house.

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Seraphine Hotel London

Staying in London can be a bit of a hit and miss affair when it comes to Hotels, its a bit like Tom Hanks in forest Gump where he says ” life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what your gonna get !! this rings very true when looking at London hotels . We found that Staying at the Seraphine Hotel London (kensington high street) was fabulous. It doesn’t have a great street presence, so you need to be careful that you don’t miss it but once inside it does not dissapoint.  When we arrived the gentleman on reception was cheery ,friendly and helpful which isn’t always the way in main capital Cities. 

Seraphine Hotel London

The room was a very decent size and was fitted out with modern and stylish decor and fixtures and fittings. We booked through bookings.com and we received a good rate of £110 per night, which is not bad for a kensington based london hotel. 

Seraphine Hotel London

The room was en-suite with a rain forest shower, it had an i phone charger and a direct computer link access ( great if your on business and want to hook up) they also give you free access to wifi and tea and coffee making facilities with and added bonus of biscuits and bottles of water. The TV was also well located opposite the bed so could be seen easily without having to crick ones neck !! There was also a safe which is a must have in major Cities.Serpahine Hotel London Bathroom

Breakfast was continental or you could pay extra and get a cooked breakfast. The continental was great with a large selection of pastries, cereal, cheese and cold meats, boiled egg, fruit, tea, coffee and toast with preserves. Yum Yum !!

We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at the Seraphine Hotel London, we had a great night sleep on the queen size bed which was comfortable and quiet. The pillows where comfy too, gotta have a good pillow  ; )

The address is Seraphine Hotel London 225 Kensington High street. 

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Barony Hotel peebles

Barony Hotel Peebles a Mecure Hotel

As you wind up the driveway to The Barony Castle hotel in Peebles passing the Alpacas in the fields on the way up, you come across the castle around a bend in the road, with its white towers bursting into the sky, you may feel like you had arrived at fairy land or some lost Alice in wonderland backdrop. The turrets standing on the white towers show a brilliance of architecture as does the medieval looking wrought iron work on the windows and surrounding gates . As you park outside the Barony castle hotel, the next thing that strikes you almost with a foreboding message is the wording above the door. ” Prepare to Meet Thy God”

Barony Hotel peebles

I guess we should have known then, that our stay was not going to be the best, or that we where going to be enlightened by something or someone ha ha.

The receptionist was very friendly and helpful so we put our trust in that, we were going to have a good stay. We checked in and then took the lift to the 3rd floor which seemed to think it was doing a high-rise jaunt as it took, what one would consider an awful long time to make its way up. We got to our room which wasn’t bad and the bed seemed very comfortable and we did have 2 very good nights sleep due to how comfortable both the bed and pillows were.

As the Barony hotel Peebles is quite far from any town or other restaurant we decided to eat at the hotel. We were told that we could only reserve a table up to 7.30 pm which we thought was very early but we really didn’t have any other choice. We changed and went to dinner at the respective time of 7.30 pm and were put into the corner of The Blu Dug restaurant, as it appeared there was a coach group in and they took most of the other part of the restaurant. We ordered our food and to be honest it was very disappointing, my starter was very dry and I had ordered pasta which was swimming in oil and not pesto sauce as had been described on the menu. We got the feeling that the Barony hotel Peebles was more suited or should I say catered more, for groups and weddings than for individuals wanting a special dinning and hotel stay experience. On our second night we dined again but in the bar area, again I ordered pasta and this was superb, I guess there must have been one chef for fine dining and one for the bar area, I know which one we would choose !!

The receptionist explained to us that there was a famous landmark know as the polish map of Scotland in the Barony hotel grounds, so we decided to investigate and took a walk to its location, we went over the bridge, which was over the river and was lovely and then came across the Map (under restoration) I think in its time of development it would have been spectacular, however it is more something that could be appreciated by air due to its size and from the ground it didn’t seem that impressive. It was obviously made with great feeling and heart due to the Polish having been based there during the war. So just for that fact you would have to be awed by it.

We did use the swimming pool at the Barony hotel Peebles but it was a little cold and the spa was part of the pool so the water was the same temperature. I am not sure we would stay at the Barony castle hotel again but it was great for a good night sleep, if you are only looking for a bed for the night. So I guess this is a hotel rant and not a Rave, which is sad because the look of the hotel screams Alice in wonderland but was more ” prepare to Meet thy God”  If you would like some more information on the Scotish borders area please click the link 

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