Monday 31 October 2016

October Days

October has been a funny old month and, if I'm being completely honest, I'm glad to see the back of it. Having recovered from my post wedding blues I then suffered an Achilles injury which has meant no running, caught a nasty sick bug and had an embarrassing night out which made me realise that I'm not mature enough to be a married lady (the less said about that night the better!)

Here's what happened in October that didn't make the blog.

Picture Perfect Tyne

I have taken a lot of photographs of the Tyne over the years but this one is by far my favourite. I took an early morning walk along the Newcastle Quayside and it was stunning. There wasn't a cloud in the sky and the reflection of the Bridges and the Baltic in the Tyne took my breath away. I just love those moments in life when you see something so beautiful it makes you stop for a second and appreciate how great life is. I couldn't resist capturing the moment.

Weekend Bag

I have a whole cupboard full of suitcases and overnight bags, I certainly don't need any more. But when I spotted this beauty in Primark I just couldn't resist. I think it looks so much more expensive than its £15 price tag and even Simon was pretty smitten as a few days later we bought him the guy's version. It's a great size and you can stuff more than enough luggage in for a weekend away. I took it along on our luxury Minimoon and I don't think anyone would have ever guessed it came from Primark.

Trafford Centre Loving

This month Simon and I went to the Play Expo gaming convention in Manchester and I was so happy when I realised that the Trafford Centre was just across the road. We managed to pop in for a few hours during the afternoon. I'd never been before and if it's possible to fall in love with a shopping centre, I fell pretty damn hard!  Gorgeous pink columns with gold features and massive fountains - the place is a dream. I spent most of the trip running round Selfridges lusting after all of the handbags. I've made Simon promise to take me for a proper shopping trip there soon.

Forever Memories 

Whilst we're waiting for our official wedding photos to return, I just can't resist sharing a few sneaky things on my Instagram. When we were organising our wedding we were keen to have some really personal touches that we could have as keepsakes after the day. Instead of favours we opted to have a Caricaturist and I love this drawing he did of us, a forever memory of our wedding day we framed it immediately and it's now proudly on display in our lounge.

 We decided that we wanted something pretty special on the top of our wedding cake so got ourselves a bespoke mini Simon and Chloe topper from Cake Toppers . I was so worried that it'd get smashed on the day so we made sure everyone knew to take great care of it and now we have it to keep forever. If you're looking for a personalised cake topper for a celebration I really can't recommend these guys enough. The detail of my dress is spot on and I can't believe how cute mini Simon is!

For more adventures from New Girl in Toon make sure you follow me on Instagram - I post a new photo every day.


Friday 28 October 2016

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - ASK Italian

I always knew that come Autumn 2016 I'd be needing to invest in some stretchy pants. You see, along with the rest of Newcastle, I have spent the last year counting down to the arrival of Grey's Quarter, Intu Eldon Square's new dining area.

No one could argue that Eldon Square has been in desperate need of some restaurants for a rather long time. Although it may be a little disappointing that the space will be completely occupied by chain restaurants (I was dreaming of a Trinity Kitchen type space like those lucky folks in Leeds) I don't think anyone can deny that the new arrivals will do wonders for Newcastle's high street.

After months of being boarded up I was so eager to take a look at the new Grey's Quarter and was very excited when I first stepped through the door and the smell of new flooring and paint hit my nose. The place looks fantastic and has really brightened up the once dingy and dated part of Eldon Square.

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - ASK Italian

Being a little greedy I fully intend to work my way round the whole of Grey's Quarter so it's a good job that the restaurants are opening in stages. Having received an invite to their VIP night, the first restaurant on my list was ASK, one of the very first restaurants to open. I swung by with my friend Kelly for a night of Italian feasting.

It's been many many years since I last dined in ASK, so long ago in fact that I couldn't really remember much about it or what to expect so I was pretty eager to look over the menu when it arrived at the table.

Don't you just love brand new restaurants when the menus are super clean and pristine? Make sure you get yourselves down to ASK before people start spilling stuff over them because I have to say I was really admiring the beautiful gold and green menus.

ASK Italian Menu

Once we'd finished marvelling at the lovely new space (the marble tables, tiled flooring and beautiful bar gets a bit thumbs up from this Instagram addict) we tucked into an Antipasti washed down with a glass of Prosecco.

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - ASK Italian

The mixed antipasti plate (£12.75) was covered in Milano and Finocchiona salami, buffalo mozzarella, Pecroino Sardo, rocket salad, and rosemary & sea salt bread served with smoked chilli jelly and olive tapenade.

I love sharing a plate of food with a close friend, it works best if they pretend not to notice when you take more than your fair share of the cheese! That's when you know they're a keeper.

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - ASK Italian Antipasti

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - ASK Italian Antipasti

 On to the main event and as usual I couldn't help overindulging and ordered the Calzone Formaggio Di Capra. You'd think I would have learnt by now how big calzone is and that it usually completely finishes me off and leaves me rolling around for the rest of the evening.

The Calzone Formaggio Di Capra (£11.85) is new to the ASK menu and I just couldn't resist the promise of soft goat's cheese, spinach, grilled aubergine, roasted peppers and mozzarella.

 Most of my favourite foods stuffed into a folded pizza.  How could I ever resist?

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - ASK Italian Calzone
Although ever so slightly overdone in parts on the outside I really enjoyed my Calzone which was packed with flavour and had so much mozzarella I had to wind it round and round my fork - SO good!

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - ASK Italian Calzone

You're perhaps thinking that after eating such a mammoth main course that I politely declined the opportunity to look at the dessert menu. Yeah right, this is me we're talking about!

The ASK dessert menu was full of tempting treats and has given me a nice little list of things I'd like to try. This time I opted for the Honeycomb Cheesecake (£5.95) served with a scoop of vanilla gelato. Far too indulgent for a Tuesday night, the cheesecake was a very generous serving and deliciously creamy.

Intu Eldon Square: Grey's Quarter - ASK Italian Honeycomb Cheesecake

I enjoyed my visit to ASK Italian and I'm sure I'll return next time I'm wandering round Eldon Square and my shopping bags get too heavy.

Any recommendations on where I should go next on my exploration of Grey's Quarter?

We were guests of ASK and attended their VIP Night with a complimentary meal. All opinions and words are my own. 

Wednesday 26 October 2016

Girl's Night at The King's Lodge Inn, Durham

Looking back at my wedding one of the things that frustrates me most is how little time I got to spend with my best friends.  Post-wedding I have found myself desperate to have a proper catch up with them to hear about their memories of my day and just have a gossip!

So it's pretty lucky that The King's Lodge Inn in Durham invited me, Sam and Katie to stay last weekend. We were so excited to have time for a proper catch up and where better than in Durham, one of my favourite places in the North East.

Durham is only 10 minutes away from Central Station in Newcastle so Sam and I decided to leave our cars at home and travel by train.  The King's Lodge Inn was a nice easy walk from the station and despite our limited map reading skills we found it really easily.

Girl's Night at The King's Lodge Inn, Durham

Hidden away at the end of a residential street, King's Lodge looked really beautiful in the Autumn sunshine surrounded by colourful flowers. I've made a little mental note to myself to return in the Summer to enjoy a few glasses of wine outside.

The first thing I noticed when we walked into the bar to check in was how cosy and warm the pub was. I loved how inviting the Kings Lodge Inn was.  Perfect for an Autumn evening, the warm lights and tartan furniture gives the pub such a lovely country pub glow. I can only imagine how amazing it must look at Christmas.

Girl's Night at The King's Lodge Inn, Durham

The King's Lodge has 23 newly refurbished rooms available from a very reasonable £95.00 per night. All of the rooms at the King's Lodge Inn have free wifi, Freeview TV and tea and coffee making facilities (complete with my favourite Ringtons biscuits!) and includes a "Taste of Durham" Breakfast. If that wasn't enough there's also free parking, making the Kings Lodge Inn the perfect base to explore Durham.

The King's Lodge Inn, Durham Twin Room

 As there were three of us Sam and I shared a family room featuring two single beds and a pull out sofa bed. Our room was huge and so comfortable and even had a desk, no work for us on this trip though, we settled ourselves at our little table and spent hours of the afternoon chatting over cups of Ringtons tea - bliss!

The King's Lodge Inn, Durham Twin Room

Katie was booked into a double room which was my favourite of the two. Its beautiful country style made me reach for my phone to take a photo for Instagram. If I were ever lucky enough to own a house in the country, this is exactly how I'd decorate the bedrooms.

The King's Lodge Inn, Durham Double Room

With the centre of Durham only a short walk away we had initially planned to head into Durham to experience some of the local night life but the warm and friendly atmosphere at the King's Lodge Inn was just too good to resist so we decided to spend our night there instead. Catching up with friends in a lovely country pub really is the best!

Of course we can't go anywhere without wanting to try all of the food on offer so we booked ourselves a table for a late three course dinner. The food at Kings Lodge Inn is traditional pub grub with plenty of options for each course - just what I like! Their recently launched Winter Menu is just what you need for a night snuggled up with your nearest and dearest.

I decided to start my meal with the Homemade Pate (£5.25) served with cranberry and caramelised onion chutney and toasted bread. Such a generous portion, it made me wonder how huge the main course was going to be.

The King's Lodge Inn, Durham Pate

Embracing my new love for burgers (which I completely blame my husband for), I couldn't resist ordering the King's Lodge Burger topped with red onion marmalade, streaky bacon and cheese (£10.95) for my main.

This burger wasn't for the amateur and even I was slightly shocked at how large my meal was when it arrived in front of me. I attacked it like a pro and managed to devour the whole lot. It took me forever to finish (that may have been partly to do with the amount I was chatting) and I really enjoyed every mouthful.

For dessert I opted for the Homemade Cheesecake of the Day (£5.95). This was my only disappointment of the evening.  The ratio of cream cheese to biscuit base was way off and I found myself having to dig through a mountain of cream to get to the base - it was far too rich even for a dessert addict like me.

The King's Lodge Inn, Durham Cheesecake

After our meal we decided to take our drinks into the bar as the cosy corners were just too good to resist. We ended our night with plenty of gossip and giggles, putting the world to rights over glasses of Prosecco.

The King's Lodge Inn, Durham Prosecco

 We all agreed we'd slept really well when we met the following morning and were looking forward to attacking the breakfast. The King's Lodge breakfast is served from 7:30 am to 10:30 am and as well as selecting food from the hot menu there's also a continental buffet to help yourself from.

I was a little disappointed there weren't any croissants on offer, I actually went on a hunt for them and was gutted that the bread basket I found only had bread in it. The Coco Pops almost made up for it though and Katie and I both had a bowl - they always remind me of being a kid.

Feeling a little full from the night before there was no room in my tummy for a full fry up so I decided to order the scrambled eggs on toast.  The restaurant was pretty busy as we'd come down at peak breakfast time so the food took a little while to reach us but we weren't too bothered as we happily chatted about our plans for the day.

The King's Lodge Inn, Durham Breakfast

Our stay at the King's Lodge was over but with the tempting idea of exploring Durham a bit more I can definitely see myself returning with Simon soon. If you're looking for a hotel in the centre of Durham that offers brilliant value for money in a cosy environment then I really would recommend the King's Lodge.

King's Lodge are part of the Inn Collection Group who have a gorgeous collection of inns throughout the North East including the picture perfect Bamburgh and the foot of Roseberry Topping. Simon and I are actually heading to the Hog's Head Inn in Alnwick in a few weeks time for a wedding and after my stay at the King's Lodge I can't wait!

We received a complimentary dinner, bed and breakfast at the King's Lodge Inn. All opinions and words are my own. 

Monday 24 October 2016

Autumn Favourites at Gusto, Newcastle

My favourite time of year for food is definitely the Autumn. I love when restaurants change their menus and suddenly you can order the most beautiful comfort food that warms up your insides like a giant hug.

Gusto on Newcastle's Quayside is one of my favourite places to visit at this time of year. It's so cosy in the evenings with its beautiful lights and warming atmosphere and when it comes to Autumnal dining these guys really know what they're doing!

Autumn Favourites at Gusto, Newcastle

I popped along recently with my lovely friends Sam and Katie for some nice warming food to fill our bellies - we all agreed we were in need of some good hearty dishes so were looking forward to seeing what new additions there are for Autumn on the Gusto menu.

Not being able to decide what we wanted for Starter we decided to order some deli boards whist we studied the menus.  The deli boards at Gusto are the perfect treat when you're dining with friends (they're even better with a glass of wine but unfortunately on this occasion we were all driving).

Autumn Favourites at Gusto, Newcastle Deli Board

Each board is served with rosemary focaccia, marinated olives and sun-dried tomatoes and we decided to order the Meat Board (£7.95) covered in prosciutto ham, salami soppressa and coppa and the Cheese Board (£7.95) covered in goats cheese, dolcelatte and smoked provola.

Autumn Favourites at Gusto, Newcastle Deli Board

Now usually when I head to Gusto you'll see me devouring a mammoth pizza or tucking into my favourite, the Gusto Burger, but on this occasion I decided that a meat dish would be an ideal way to welcome in Autumn.

I ordered the Pan Roast Duck Breast served with buttered winter vegetables, aged balsamic and honey (£15.50). There's something so lovely about colourful dishes in the Autumn and the Duck looked beautiful sitting amongst the greens and oranges of the vegetables.

Autumn Favourites at Gusto, Newcastle Roast Duck Breast
 My knife slid so effortlessly through the pink meat and I'm happy to report it tasted just as good as it looks. Gusto never fail me when it comes to their meat dishes.

Now I hope you're sitting down because I'm about to say something truly shocking. We didn't order dessert! We somehow managed to resist, which just gives me the perfect excuse to return.

I'd best loosen my belt, something tells me I'm in for a very foodie Autumn!

Gusto invited us to try out the new Autumn menu and our meals were complimentary. All opinions and words are my own. 

Friday 21 October 2016

Vujon Indian Restaurant in Newcastle

Meeting Simon has completely changed my attitude to food and I'm so happy that he has opened my mind and allowed me to experience so much more.  As a self confessed foodie it's probably strange to think that I used to turn my nose up at trying anything new, couldn't handle anything even remotely spicy and would only ever visit chain restaurants.

As every week, month and year goes by I'm amazed at what I'm discovering that I love. Most recently I've developed a love for Indian food. If you'd told me last year that I'd be writing a blog about an Indian restaurant I really wouldn't have believed you.

Being very new to Indian food I'm yet to fully explore the Indian dining scene in Newcastle, so last week I thought it was about time, starting with one of Newcastle's most popular Indian restaurants, Vujon.

Vujon Indian Restaurant in Newcastle

Vujon, located just off the Newcastle Quayside, serves up high quality Indian cuisine in beautiful surroundings. The tables are decked out in perfect white tablecloths the windows are decorated with stunning drapes. I knew as soon as we stepped inside to be greeted by the gorgeous interior and delicious smells that we were in for a very special evening.

Along with other bloggers and press we had been invited to a Media Evening to offer our opinion on some new dishes that will soon be added to the menu. Taken downstairs to a private room we were happy to be spending our evening with some of Newcastle's biggest foodies.

Apologies for the less than perfect foodie photos below, cosy atmospheric lighting doesn't always make for the best food blog photos!

Our meal began with plates offering a selection of Starters.

Vujon Indian Restaurant in Newcastle

Angari Tikka - boneless chicken breast cooked in clay oven marinated in yoghurts, chilli and garlic seasoned with herbs and home made spices

Kathi Kebab - diced tender roast lamb, tossed with onions and tomatoes well spiced and served in butter chapatti

Veg Pakora - Onion, potatoes, mushroom, bhindi and paneer spiced and deep fried in a spicy batter.

I attacked my plate with great enthusiasm and particularly loved the chicken which was perfectly prepared and full of flavour. As a bit of a newbie to Indian cuisine I loved that our selection of dishes weren't overly spicy.

In fact we were very happy to learn during our visit that Vujon are trying to change people's views on Indian dining and are hoping to teach people who aren't keen on spice that there is far more to Indian food than hot curries. Indian cuisine is more about the flavour and delicate balance of spices, rather than trying to blow your head off with too much heat.

Vujon Indian Restaurant in Newcastle

Vujon have highly skilled chefs who showcase dishes from across India using seasonal, fresh and locally sourced produce. Food is freshly prepared to order meaning that if you are concerned about the level of spice you are able to ask for the dish to be prepared just how you like it.

For our main course we helped ourselves from the most beautiful pots of steaming hot food.

Vujon Indian Restaurant in Newcastle

Murgh Makhani Delhi Style - diced chicken breast cooked in dried fenugreek flavoured tomato and onion sauce

Murgh Tawa Fry - breast of chicken cooked with onion, capsicum to a medium strength

Railway Mutton Curry - mutton cooked with potatoes flavoured with Garam masala and black pepper

The dishes were served with massive spoonfuls of Pelaw Rice and greedy amounts of Naan Bread.

Vujon Indian Restaurant in Newcastle

Being a nut allergy sufferer dining out can be a bit of a nightmare at times but Vujon were fantastic with my allergy, preparing me a separate plate of Naan Bread and being very informative about which dishes I should avoid. Being in a restaurant that understands allergies always makes me so happy as I can truly relax.

Simon and I both loved our first experience at Vujon and looking down at our plates when we'd finished we noticed how we'd both wiped them completely clean. There wasn't a scrap of food left and that is a sign of a very good meal!

Vujon is somewhere that we'll definitely be returning on our next date night, I can't wait to work my way through the menus.

Vujon invited us to dine for free in exchange for honest opinions on their new dishes.

Thursday 20 October 2016

WIN A MEAL FOR 2 at Zaap Thai Street Food, Newcastle

You may well have noticed that a lot of new restaurants have opened in Newcastle over the last few months, and with many more to come before Christmas, the list of places to try is only going to get longer.

Zaap, Newcastle's Thai Street Food restaurant, opened a few months ago serving up street style food in a Bangkok market atmosphere. One of only three restaurants in the UK, you'll find Zaap on Newgate Street next to the Gate and from what I've heard it's not one to be missed!

Dine in a tuk-tuk, sample some of Bangkok's greatest street food and enjoy "Zappy Hour" that runs between 11:00 am and 6:00 pm. Dining at Zaap is vibrant and delicious - a real feast for the eyes and ears as well as your tummy!

 To celebrate their arrival, Zaap are offering readers of New Girl in Toon the chance to win a three course meal and a welcome drink for two people at the restaurant in Newcastle.

 To enter just see the Rafflecopter below, the winner will be announced on Thursday 27 October - best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday 19 October 2016

How I'm going to beat the Winter Blues

Every year, just after Christmas, I get a full dose of the Winter Blues. I hate the long months of miserable mornings, dark nights and no money and every year I struggle to see the bright side of life until Spring arrives.

This year I have made the decision to come up with a plan to beat the Winter Blues before it even arrives, starting right now!

Make plans for January

January probably seems like a way off at the moment but it'll be here before we know it and I know that I'll probably find myself in a post Christmas slump feeling pretty tired and sorry for myself. I've decided to save a little bit of money each pay day between now and then so that my diary doesn't look too empty in the new year.  A restaurant we've always wanted to try, a day trip to somewhere we haven't been for ages or hitting the sales - I'm making plans!

Maintain an exercise routine

It is so easy to lose all motivation to exercise during the Winter months but come January you'll be feeling much better about life if you've kept up a good exercise routine. If, like me, the thought of slogging it out in a gym fills you with dread find yourself something you love to do. Join your local beginners running group, convince a friend to try a new exercise class with you or start your own walking club with your other half.  I promise it'll make you feel better.

Make your holiday dreams a reality

Planning or booking a holiday is one of the very best ways to get over the Winter blues.  Looking at beautiful pictures of sunny destinations, planning your holiday wardrobe and researching the best places to go is sure to put a smile on your face. Take a look at your holiday bucket list and start ticking things off your dream destination list. Holiday planning starts right here and the Winter blues don't have a chance!

Build an adult den

Yes I'm a big kid but I'm sure if you build an adult den to hide in for the afternoon you'll never feel so happy.  I loved grabbing all the sheets off the bed and building huge tents using the chairs in the living room.  Take a bottle of wine in with you and get ready for an afternoon of watching Netflix in your cosy cocoon.

Have a good clear out

I find having a good clear out and tidy so therapeutic. A few years ago Simon and I sorted out our entire house on New Years Day and the feeling of happiness I had after was amazing. I swear we've never felt so ready for a new start.  Our house is beginning to look like a tip and I can't wait to get going with a good Winter tidy.

Wrap up warm and head to the coast

Blowing away the cobwebs at the coast is one of my favourite things to do in the Winter. Yes it'll be freezing but put on your snuggliest coast, dig out your hat and scarf and go for a brisk walk along the seafront. Beaches tend to be pretty deserted in the Winter months and are a great place to get some peace and quiet, enjoy beautiful views and add the colour back to your cheeks.

Home movie night

Recreate the cinema and host a movie night at your house. Check out this amazing movie night, a perfect evening in with the girls complete with a "Pimp your Prosecco" bar and snuggly cushions to curl up in. The perfect cure for the Winter Blues.

Cosy reading corner

I don't know about you but I really don't read as many books as I should and every year when January rolls round and I start making resolutions it's a pretty safe bet that "read more books" will feature on my list. I want to get a head start this time by creating a cosy reading corner in our living room.  Cover your favourite chair in cushions and blankets, light up some candles and start making your way through your "must read" pile.

Early nights and early mornings

Sorry to be a bit Grandma about this, but early nights and early mornings really do wonders for my mood. Not wanting to get out of bed because I haven't had enough sleep makes me feel so tired and grumpy and it's inevitable that the Winter blues aren't far behind. When the days get darker nothing beats an early night in fresh sheets -I guarantee you'll wake up feeling so much better about life.

What are your favourite ways to beat the Winter blues?

Tuesday 18 October 2016

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse was probably the part of our Minimoon that I was most looking forward to. After months of wedding planning and rushing about the promise of a whole afternoon of relaxing sounded like bliss and something that we both really needed.

Snuggling up in our Gilpin dressing gowns, our afternoon began with a private consultation to mix up our personalised oils that would be used later in our massages. There was a huge case of fragrances to smell and we both picked three scents each to blend together to create our own bespoke scent. We're both huge fans of ginger so both picked that as our base notes, meaning that we both had lovely warming scents perfect for the change in season.

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere

Once we were both happy with our creations we were taken to the swimming pool, tucked away in the basement of the Lakehouse for a private dip in the pool.  The pool was reserved just for us and we had an hour to swim, splash about or simply relax with a stack of magazines and a cooling glass of water. I'm definitely getting old as I found myself completely engrossed in Country Walking and wanting to plan walking adventures.

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere
Not being a swimmer (one day I might learn!) I chose to sit on the edge with my feet dipped in watching Simon do a few laps.

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere

Our break at the pool finished with a visit to the Salt Snug followed by a glass of delicious fruit cocktail.

We were well on our way to complete relaxation when we were collected to make our way to the Jetty Spa, the Gilpin's own spa nestled amongst the trees a short walk from the Lakehouse.  Exclusively reserved for us we made our way into the treatment room for our couples massage - a head, back and shoulder massage each.

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere

I love indulging in a massage every now and again but this was Simon's first time so I was nervously waiting for his verdict. I love the idea of us going on more spa breaks together so was really hoping that he'd enjoy his treatment. 

The treatment room at the Jetty Spa is absolutely stunning with gorgeous views overlooking the lake, easily the prettiest spa I've ever been to - it was the kind of place I usually only get to admire on Instagram.  An absolute dream and somewhere I think I'll remember for a long time to come.

I was so happy to look over to my husband after our treatment and notice a big grin on his face, he loved the treatment and I'm so happy that we now have something new that we can enjoy together.

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere

Feeling suitably sleepy after our massages we trudged back through the woods in our dressing gowns to the Boat House, a charming little cabin on the edge of the lake that welcomed us in with its comfy sofas and snuggly cushions.

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere

Curling up together in the warmth we tucked into a delicious afternoon tea with all of the trimmings. Tea poured from a luxurious silver teapot and a stand full of miniature treats made us feel like we'd stumbled into heaven.

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere

 As with all of the food we experienced at the Gilpin the treats were delicious and as we polished off the tea we both agreed it was up there with one of the very best afternoon teas we had ever had.

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse - Afternoon Tea

Our Jetty Spa Trail ended with a private cedarwood hot tub for two with gorgeous views of the Gilpin Lake. Sipping on glasses of champagne we were both feeling very spoilt and pampered and couldn't quite believe how perfect our afternoon was.

The Jetty Spa Trail at the Gilpin Lakehouse, Windermere

A relaxing soak in the hot tub with my new husband was just what I needed to truly relax and we were left alone with only the odd passing bird for company - absolute bliss!

The Jetty Spa Trail had made our luxurious Minimoon feel truly special - one day we really hope to be able to return and do it again.

Monday 17 October 2016

Our Luxury Lake District Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse, Windermere

Get ready to join us on our luxury Lake District Minimoon in Paradise! Our Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse near Windermere was like something out of a dream.

We knew that we didn't want to go away on Honeymoon straight after our wedding. Planning a wedding is exhausting and the thought of jumping on a plane a few days later was enough to make us want to lie down in a dark room.

Minimoons are becoming more and more popular with couples wanting a peaceful and relaxing short break after their wedding and it sounded like heaven to us. We quickly came up with a list of requirements and decided we wanted to find somewhere luxurious yet cosy that wasn't too far from home and could offer us beautiful views, delicious food and time to relax.

The Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse on Bowness-in-Windermere ticked every box and their beautiful Minimoon Packages offered us our dream. The price made our eyes water and being a couple who are very careful with our pennies we did worry about spending so much on a few days away but we decided that for once we'd let ourselves go just that little bit crazy.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse, Windermere

There are a few Minmoon packages to choose from at the Gilpin but we decided to really treat ourselves and went for the Platinum Package which gave us a room at the beautiful Lakehouse, a mile down the road from the Gilpin Hotel.

Offering 100 acres of private grounds, access to the Jetty Spa and one of the beautiful Lakehouse rooms. There are only six rooms at the Gilpin Lakehouse giving us the exclusive and private Minimoon that we desperately wanted.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse, Windermere

 We turned up to the Gilpin Lakehouse on a day that was pretty miserable. As our car pulled up at the door we felt pretty fed up at the thought of heading outside into the rain that was hitting our car at all angles. So we were over the moon when a lovely man appeared with an umbrella, escorted us to the door and told us that he'd arrange to have our luggage delivered to our room and get our car parked for us. Wow!

At this point we knew our Minimoon would be worth every penny and we really had arrived in Paradise.

Walking into the Gilpin Lakehouse we immediately noticed how warm, cosy and quiet it was, we were told that the hotel was fully booked yet the place felt so exclusive and private (in fact over the course of our stay we barely saw any other guests!). We were given a personal tour of the house before being shown to our bedroom and given a complimentary pot of tea to enjoy in our room (served on a beautiful silver tray).

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse, Windermere - Harriet

Being a lover of all things beautiful I eagerly studied the rooms at the Lakehouse before we booked and decided that Harriet was the one for us. We put in a request at booking and were thrilled to find it was still available, giving us the very best room in the house.

Harriet was even more beautiful than the photos we had seen on the website and it took a lot of self control for us not to jump up and down on the bed like two over excited children. Our bed was huge and covered in piles of comfortable cushions - we watched a few films during our stay and cosying up amongst the cushions was heaven.

Harriet Room - Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere

Luxury, comfort and privacy are high on the agenda at the Gilpin and we loved that each room had its own toy cat instead of a "do not disturb" sign.  If we wanted to be left completely alone in our room we only had to put the cat out.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere

Our ensuite bathroom was directly out of an Instagram dream with a his and hers sink, a large bath (complete with romantic candle) and a vanity table.  The shower was hot and powerful and I honestly could have spent my entire stay just chilling out in the bathroom.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere

 We both agreed that our favourite part of staying in Harriet was the very special view that we had. Our huge windows looked out over the Gilpin's lake and we lost several hours sitting in comfy chairs by those windows reading and looking out at the scenery.  The rainy days were the best, nothing beats sitting in a thick dressing gown listening to the rain lashing down on the lake outside.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere

Our Minimoon package set out clearly what was included in the cost of our stay and having been through the details on the phone when we booked (times we wanted dinner, dietary requirements etc) we were able to relax knowing that everything was taken care of.

It's not often that you can truly relax without a care in the world but the Gilpin let us do just that.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere

After spending a blissful first few hours in our room reading we retired to the lounge whilst our bed was turned down for the evening and a table was set up in our room for our private dinner. Not wanting to inconvenience us the hotel arranged complimentary drinks for us as we waited. When we arrived back in our room we couldn't believe how romantic our table looked. Lit by candlelight, it had been positioned by the window overlooking the beautiful lake view.

 We decided to enjoy our arrival Champagne with our food and had a blissful romantic meal for two in the privacy of our own room.  I wish we could dine like this all the time it felt so special and is definitely something that we will both remember for many years to come.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere

We went to sleep with very full and happy tummies.

Breakfast at the Gilpin Lakehouse is ordered the night before from a menu that is packed with so many tempting treats.  Whether you want a simple continental, fruit or a full four course feast everyone is catered for and for big foodies like us it was so hard picking what to eat.

We had the choice of having breakfast each morning with other guests in the conservatory, at a table in our room or served on a tray in bed. The first morning we opted to have it on our table as it was already there from dinner the night before.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere - Breakfast

It was hard not to be greedy with the Gilpin breakfast and we ordered Welsh Rarebit for me, Smoked Salmon and eggs for him with toast, pastries and a pot of fresh coffee to share. Perhaps a little greedy but when you see what else we could have had we were being pretty reserved really!

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere - Breakast

Breakfast in the privacy of our own room was a dream for us and meant that we could clamber about taking as many foodie photos as we fancied without other guests thinking us slightly weird.

Next time Simon moans that he's an Instagram husband and has to put up with me photographing his food all the time let's just remind him of this moment.

Believe me, the breakfast the Gilpin is too beautiful not to photograph.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere - Breakfast

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere - Breakfast

After breakfast we were ready to explore the grounds. The Gilpin boasts a beautiful little walk round its lake. Putting on our wellies and waterproofs we trudged about in the mud with huge smiles on our faces.  It felt great to get out in the fresh air after such a breakfast feast and the short walk offered us some great views of our temporary home. It didn't matter that the weather wasn't perfect, it was idyllic.

There are two beautiful little rowing boats on the Gilpin Lake that are available for guests to take out for a romantic trip across the water. I should imagine it's beautiful in drier weather.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere - Lake

Our afternoon was spent on the Gilpin's Jetty Spa Trail (more on that tomorrow) with a couples massage, fizz in the hot tub and afternoon tea. It really was the perfect way to recover from the madness of the wedding.

In the evening it was time to put our fancy gear on ready for a Five Course Tasting Menu with matching wines at the Gilpin Hotel.  Our personal chauffeur arrived at 7:00 pm to pick us up and drive us the mile up the road to the Gilpin where we were shown to the bar for pre-dinner drinks and canap├ęs.

The cocktail menu at the Gilpin had all of my favourites and Simon was particularly happy that he could order an Old Fashioned. We took seats at the bar and had a lovely time chatting to the barmen and watching them creating beautiful cocktails.  The Gilpin may be fancy but it has a wonderful friendly and relaxing atmosphere.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere

 We were shown through to the main restaurant which is split across several small rooms giving it a lovely intimate feeling.  Our waitress for the evening was fantastic, talking us through all of the dishes and giving us plenty of opportunity to slow down if we needed time to digest.

Neither Simon or I had ever had a tasting menu before and it was something that I'd been curious about for a while. I'm really happy to say that we absolutely loved it, the food was outstanding (we were overjoyed when just a week later the Gilpin were awarded a Michelin Star), the service was incredible (being a nut allergy sufferer I've never felt so safe and well looked after) and we even discovered some new wines that we loved.

When we were ready to leave our chauffeur was there to pick us up and take us back to the Lakehouse - we felt like royalty!

The next day, despite full tummies from the tasting menu, we were very excited about the prospect of having another delicious breakfast.  We decided to go slightly smaller this time and I managed to convince Simon to let us have the tray service in bed rather than a table set up in our room.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere - Breakfast

This was partly because I loved the idea of lounging about in bed eating breakfast, but mostly because I couldn't resist the photo opportunity. It's not every day you get to experience such a beautiful breakfast served on such a plush bed.

Our menu choices this time were porridge topped with caramelised bananas which was so creamy and easily the most indulgent porridge I've ever had, followed by a tray of pastries. 

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere - Breakfast
 We may have been full but we managed to demolish the lot, including endless cups of fresh coffee.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere - Breakfast

The Minimoon itinerary had us ready for a day exploring and boating with a gourmet picnic in Windermere so, facing another wet and miserable day, we zipped ourselves up in our waterproofs and headed out in the rain to join the crowds in the Lake's tourist capital.

Talk about a bump back down to reality!

The Gilpin gave us a voucher to exchange for a ticket on a Windermere Lake Cruises boat where we joined lots of other soggy looking tourists on a trip of Lake Windermere, a little bit of a shock to the system when we'd barely seen a soul for days.

Windermere Lake Cruise

I think on a nicer day the cruise would have been stunning but we really did have the wrong day and with all the views hidden by a thick sheet of mist and rain we spent most of our trip on the boat counting down the minutes until we could get back to the Gilpin.

We really wish that we'd instead spent the afternoon snuggled up in our room enjoying a few films with a picnic lunch and I'd say that if you do find yourself Minimooning at the Gilpin on a very wet and overcast week that it's probably best to skip the Windermere Cruise.

Windermere Lake Cruise

We'd decided to leave our picnic at the hotel, not really fancying taking it out in the rain with us so by the time we got back to the hotel it was a little too late to properly enjoy it.  The food was delicious but we had to pick at it to save ourselves some room for dinner a few hours later.

Dinner on the second night was a relaxed Four course and again we were picked up by the Chauffeur and taken to the Gilpin to dine in their gorgeous restaurant.  Knowing the menu pretty well from our tasters the night before Simon and I made confident menu choices and couldn't resist ordering our favourite wine from the previous night.  I think it's safe to say that  next time we're visiting the Lakes we'll definitely be booking ourselves in for another meal at the Gilpin.

We awoke on the third day with a horrible sinking feeling.  We were about to leave our luxurious pretend lives behind and head back home for the reality of dirty dishes, office jobs and piles of laundry.

Luckily there was one last breakfast blowout before we checked out and we went to town and enjoyed a feast at the table in our bedroom.

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere - Breakfast

Minimoon at the Gilpin Hotel and Lakehouse Windermere - Breakfast

I've never been so sad to leave a place in all my life and I would recommend the Gilpin to anyone looking for that perfect romantic getaway.  It is not the cheapest break but in our eyes it was worth every penny - the hotel was beautiful, the service was outstanding, the food was phenomenal and we were made to feel truly special by everyone.

I really hope that one day we'll be able to return to the Gilpin, but for now we have some beautiful photographs and some very happy memories of our perfect Minimoon.
© New Girl in Toon | All rights reserved.
Blog Layout Created by pipdig