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Stephanie MulhollandThe World of Beatrix Potter Attraction, Crag Brow, Bowness-on-Windermere, LA23 3BX
Revisiting your childhood is always fun. Who doesn’t love memories of long summer days, adventures aplenty and a bookcase stacked with delicately illustrated books?
I have to be honest, Beatrix Potter was a dear friend of mine as a child. As soon as I could read, I inherited her entire collection, entranced by the little animals within her stories and their quirks. Like most children, Peter Rabbit held a special place in my heart.
Entering the building, I must admit, I felt a tad peculiar when surrounded by a gaggle of toddlers, accompanied by worn out mothers with their buggies and rucksacks in tow.
Purchasing our tickets, we were led into a small theatre room and given a quick contextual review of Beatrix Potter, her character and treasured work. It was a nice little summary of the great author before entering the attraction.
So, what is there to see and do inside The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction?
Once inside, we were placed within her incredible stories, with delicate displays featuring her characters alongside a host of interactive and interesting exhibits – there were photo opportunities aplenty.
The highlight of the attraction was the garden, which was particularly lovely and surrounded with wonderful flowers. Its centrepiece an imposing statue shrouded in characters with two children letting go off a seemingly disgruntled Jemima Puddle-Duck in mid-flight.
In one corner, stood McGregor’s own garden, warning people out with a tongue-in-cheek sign. It’s own centrepiece the baby blue coat and boots of Peter Rabbit hung on sticks, while the cheeky statue of Peter Rabbit knawing his stolen vegetables stood boldly beside.
Going through each story was wonderful and in the penultamite room of the attraction you are presented with another theatre, detailing Beatrix Potter’s life and dedication to the conservation of the Lake District – an area she protected with her wealth, donating a vast amount of land to the National Trust.
As you leave, an imposing (and slightly terrifying in my opinion) aged waxwork statue of the author bids you farewell.
The adventure isn’t over yet though. Swinging by the packed gift shop you will soon be tempted in by the Beatrix Potter Tea Room downstairs. This themed cafe may not look like much initially but its quaint decor and high tea is simply incredible. If you haven’t guessed already, I am mildly obsessed with the quintessentially British tradition of afternoon and high tea.
This high tea was nothing short of spectacular, with sandwiches made-to-order alongside a seasonal salad, complimented by a selection of homemade cakes and two gargantuan scones with clotted cream and delicious jam.
It’s safe to say, my parter and I devoured it. However, I must admit that my mother also assisted – she simply could not resist once she saw what was on offer.
Overall, The World of Beatrix Potter Attraction is a truly magical experience, allowing you to revisit childhood happiness and dine on a spectacular feast of fresh sandwiches and homemade cake – lets be honest, can you really think of a better day out than that?
What was your favourite Beatrix Potter book? Have you been to the Lake District?
Oxford is the latest city to be blessed with a shiny new Franco Manca restaurant. If you’ve not heard of Franco Manca yet, then you’re in for a treat. If you’ve already been lucky enough to dine there, I know you’re head-over-heels anyway.
Franca Manca appeals for two reasons. Firstly, it’s affordable. Most importantly, it’s delicious. The menu offers a choice of seven sourdough pizzas. As well as a selection of starters, organic drinks and tempting desserts. Have no fear though, the seven pizzas are customisable with a selection of additional ingredients and a specials board for meat eaters and vegetarians.
These sourdough pizzas are made in store, in a smoking wood burning oven. This allows for a soft and fluffy crust (known as the cornicione) which can be accompanied with a selection of dips. We had the stilton. it was a wonderfully tangy experience.
My initial thoughts when entering Franco Manca Oxford was how welcoming, friendly and attentive the staff were. It’s truly refreshing and had a lovely atmosphere.
The restaurant interior is beautifully decorated, with a rustic yet stylish edge. Expect mirrored back walls, mosaic floors, lights in pendant holders, marble-esque topped tables and 1950-60’s classroom-inspired chairs to compliment. The wood burning oven is placed lovingly in the right-hand corner.
So, what did I think?
We took our seat knowing full well what we would be having. A number three for myself (courgettes, basil, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, franco and cantarelli grana – without tomato) and a number seven for my partner (spicy lamb sausage, mozzarella, buffalo ricotta, yellow piennolo tomato and fresh basil – he added the tomato sauce as an extra).
The pizzas are simply delicious, with super fresh ingredients, a smoked and blistered base, and the fluffiest of crusts – it’s so fluffy, I’m gonna die. Franco Manca is sublime, the pizzas are ginormous (I am yet to finish one yet) and the delivery is super speedy.
It is the perfect place for a lunchtime treat, a more affordable date night or to head to with friends. Even my sceptic Italian friend was delighted – and she is a difficult little lady to please when it comes to ‘Italian’ dining.
If you’re looking for an authentic Italian pizza experience in the UK, Franco Manca’s the place to be. Expect quality and affordability at this wonderful chain restaurant.
Unfortunately, we were far too full to comment on the desserts. They look delicious but you will have to sample these yourself and revert back to me!
Take a peek at the Franco Manca menu. In addition, they offer a takeaway service for those on the go – you can even order online!
Have you been to Franco Manca? Which pizza takes your fancy?
I have to admit, I was rather excited for my visit to the Wellcome Kitchen. Not only because it looked exquisite, but also because I was very eager to take a peek around the Wellcome Collection. Known as being the ‘free destination for the incurably curious.’
The Wellcome Collection is a truly spectacular and unique museum. Located near Euston Station, it’s brimming with intriguing exhibits and collections on science, health and life. It blurs the line between technology and art.
As curious as I was, I soon dashed to take our summer-inspired afternoon tea in the Wellcome Kitchen.
Located on the second floor, this boutique venue is divine. It’s bright and elegant and includes a focal display of the celebrated Pill Dress by artist, Susie Freeman.
What is included in the Welcome Kitchen Afternoon Tea?
So, what did we get in our Wellcome Kitchen afternoon tea for two at the Wellcome Collection? Check out the menu below:
A selection of finger sandwiches including cucumber and cream cheese, smoked salmon and coronation chicken
A selection of mini cakes including 2 raspberry and cream tarts, 2 nutty brownies, 2 lemon mouse macarons and 2 red berry cakes
Two fruit scones, Cornish clotted cream and Tiptree strawberry jam
A pot of loose leaf tea (a variety of flavours) or a hot drink each
So, what did I think of the Wellcome Kitchen Afternoon Tea?
In all honesty, I loved this afternoon tea experience. The venue is beautiful and the food divine.
The afternoon tea included a fabulous mix of sandwiches and cakes.
Everything was well presented, with lovely floral china and welcoming staff who graced you with big smiles.
All the food is freshly prepared on site and they even made our sandwiches to order (I cannot have butter, it makes me feel very unwell – odd I know, but, alas) which was a wonderfully helpful touch.
The food is locally-sourced and tends to be seasonal produce, you can even indulge in a glass of sparkling pink Moscato if you feel inclined!
It is the perfect venue to unwind and get lost in great company or even solo. The Wellcome Kitchen is so quiet and calm, away from the vibrancy and bustle of the intrigued visitors of the Wellcome Collection downstairs.
Once you have finished your delicious afternoon tea, you will discover the spectacular Reading Room adjacent, which allows you to unwind with a copy or two and take a peek at an eccentric collection of sculptures, paintings and artefacts.
Overall, a perfect mini-day out wrapped up with lots of technology, culture and food – what’s not to love?
Have you tried the Wellcome Kitchen Afternoon Tea?
The story of King Lear is a classic tale of familial love, betrayal and madness – a true tragedy in all its elements that will have you questioning humanity.
Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre is currently running the show as a highlight of their Summer of Love 2017 season – and it is a play that should not be missed.
A production of Nancy Meckler, this tumultuous performance is a true work of magic, amid tragedy you are presented also with a night of incredible and sometimes crude comedy, quick retorts and clever wit. The crowd bellowed with hearty laughter and the sound and light encouraged wonderful chaos.
It makes for an eclectic atmosphere on a darkening summer evening and is presented by a stellar cast of skilled and fascinating actors. Kevin McNally, who plays King Lear makes for fantastic viewing, emulating the deteriorating King in such a way it makes you feel as if he was an older relative slowly descending into madness.
The King is propped up by his loyal Fool (played by the incredible Loren O’Dair) throughout, who appears far wiser with jibes, clever tricks and incredible humour and sorrow as you make your way through the story.
The acting brings to the forefront an array of emotions, as you relate with the erratic King, pitying him, willing for it not to end in tragedy. Alas, this is Shakespeare and we all know the end to this tale.
Summer of Love season 2017, London
The performance is a well-rounded affair of joy and sorrow, tragedy remains at its core and this comes to a head, as expected, during the second half. The entire cast is passionate, some doting and others truly villainous, presenting themselves in roles as perfect examples of their at times questionable traits.
I must say, my only vice was the costuming, which was presented in a half-hearted combination of period costumes and modern sportswear shoes. Quite peculiar to say the least but the show must go on.
King Lear is the perfect date night treat, suited for a more adult audience. I would thoroughly recommend the evening performance to experience the full spectacle of the accompanying light and sound effects. I would also recommend standing for a truly authentic experience.
The Hokusai Beyond the Great Wave exhibition at the British Museum is a spectacular affair of oriental art, colour and history. The exhibition illustrates the work of one of Japan’s most famed artists, Kasushika Hokusai.
Hokusai (1760-1849), lived and worked in Japan throughout his lifetime, producing some of his most famed artwork in his later life, a firm believer that with age would come artistic excellence.
During his 90 years, he produced a spectacular creative spectrum of beautiful art, including famed print collections, illustrated books and a variety of intricate paintings.
The Hokusai Beyond the Great Wave exhibition illustrates the last 30 years of the extraordinary artist’s life and showcases many of his masterpieces, including the celebrated Great Wave (an iconic highlight for many).
Hokusai: Beyond the Great Wave exhibition
In his later life, Hokusai became influenced by European techniques and art forms, integrating this knowledge into developed art styles, perfectly illustrated throughout the exhibition.
Discover works depicting enchanting landscapes, wonderful portraits, vibrant communal scenes, mystical creatures and delicate illustrations of nature.
The exhibition is open until 13 August 2017 and offers a rare opportunity to see these great works collectively, as well as the opportunity to explore the context of influence for one of Japan’s most exceptional artists. I can highly recommend it to any fan of Japanese culture or art.
A long weekend in Prague – surrounded by pastel-coloured views and terracotta roofs
Prague has always fascinated me – pretty buildings, cultural attractions, and an affordable price tag, what more could a girl want from a city break?
With all that in mind, a weekend in this scenic city was definitely on the cards, and Prague was the next destination myself and my boyfriend had planned to visit in Europe. Here is our guide to a long weekend in Prague.
Our mini adventure would begin after a night’s sleep in our okay-ish hotel. The Hotel Colosseum was well located to attractions and to be honest, pretty cheap. I’m not snobby when it comes to hotels, I literally sleep there.
Seeing the quirky Dancing House
The Hotel Colosseum was less than five minutes from the celebrated Dancing House or ‘Fred and Ginger’ and this was our first stop.
This deconstructivist style building features quirky architectural design and fascinates many in its place amongst a myriad of Baroque, Rococo and Renaissance buildings, to name a few architectural styles found within Prague.
Step back in time in the Old Town
We gave the Dancing House a quick glance and raced towards the UNESCO-listed Old Town – naturally.
Stepping into the Old Town in Prague is very charming, lined with ornate buildings, street food vendors, the grand Church of Our Lady before Týn and of course, the wonderful Astronomical Clock.
Embellished with cobbled streets, Gothic churches and an array of architectural styles, the whole city is very romantic. Our favourite start to each day was coffee together in the Old Town square each morning.
Czech out the local delicacies and try traditional trdelník
While in Prague, be sure to sample some Czech delicacies by indulging in some delicious street food.
Local delicacies include trdelník (a spiralised pastry with delicious fillings), as well as famed sausages and hams.
Watch the Astronomical Clock procession
What did we love most about the quaint Old Town and its buzzing square? It would have to be the famed Astronomical Clock.
Be sure to await the hourly procession for a truly lovely show, with rhythmic chimes and animated figures. We managed to miss it about eight times during our stay before finally seeing it!
Another cultural delight that mesmerised me was the exquisite Gothic Church of our Lady on Tyn. It is a grand building that dominates the Old Town skyline.
Its interior is almost as astounding as its exterior and it dates back to the 14th century.
Get lost for a moment in Letenské Sady Park
However, there is another church that dominates the Prague cityscape, and that is St. Vitus Cathedral, a beautiful church within the mighty walls of the Prague Castle compound.
Uphill, we made our way through the lush Letenské Sady Park to the castle. There is so much green space in Prague, it is truly fabulous.
Once you have made your way to the top of Letenské Sady, ensure to stop a moment and appreciate the wonderful view of the city beneath you. It is so picturesque, a sea of pastel houses, terracotta roofs, and trams.
Prague is separated by the delicate and winding Vltava river and within the park, you get to see a magical birdseye view of it.
For me, St. Vitus Cathedral is the focal point of the area. Its dark exterior boldly contrasts against the smooth and light pastel walls surrounding it.
Similar to the other churches in Prague, the interior is sublime, truly beautiful for any fan of churches.
Take a stroll down the colourful Golden Lane
After a rather disappointing venture into the castle’s interior, we had a bite to eat and wandered down towards Golden Lane, a collection of former and rather cosmopolitan-looking homes of seamstresses, moviemakers, and herbalists that used to live within the castle grounds.
Walk with saints at Charles Bridge
Afterward, we went to Charles Bridge. Strolling along the winding Vltava River it is almost impossible to miss the entrance to the grand Charles Bridge. It becomes an even more impressive affair as you cross it, adorned with religious statues along its ancient stone walls.
Step into a fairytale in Malá Strana
Charles Bridge connects the Old Town with the pastel-coloured streets of the historic district of Malá Strana. It is like crossing into a fairytale, with many a ‘wow’ moment.
Take a snap at the John Lennon Wall
The backstreets of Malá Strana are amazing to wander. You will discover an array of food vendors, cosy riverside views and sweet lock bridges in abundance.
An interesting stop in the area, is the John Lennon Wall. A graffiti shine to the late Beatles singer and songwriter which is adorned with some peculiar quotes and imagery.
Discover the castle ruins at Petřín Hill
We took the steep climb from Malá Strana, past the exquisite Baroque St. Nicholas Church, up to Petřín Hill to explore some more. Here we discovered more incredible views alongside the old castle ruins.
It really is nice to just step away from the city for a moment to stop and see it all. We decided against Petřín Tower, already having gained some incredible views from walking through the parks alone.
Sip unique cocktails at AnonymouS Bar
After all the walking and with a recommendation from a friend, we decided to celebrate one evening with a few quirky cocktails at AnonymouS Bar.
Tucked away near Old Town Square, this quirky bar sells some strong cocktails and does so in an animated and exciting fashion. Trust me on this one, try it out and try to get a glimpse of the secret menu.
How did we find our long weekend in Prague?
Prague is a truly romantic city brimming with things to see and do. If you’re looking for a European city break with some flair, opt for a long weekend in Prague!
After our whirlwind weekend, we managed to walk about 30 miles (public transport really isn’t too necessary), see all of the attractions we desired, and had a truly amazing time.
I would recommend Prague to anyone and would be more than happy to give some advice if needed!
Have you been to Prague? Where is the next European destination on your travel list?
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