The Coniston Hotel Country Estate & Spa

The Coniston Hotel Country Estate resides in 1400 acres of Yorkshire countryside just outside of Skipton.  Last November, the already impressive facilities saw the addition of a spa.

Potential game changer.

The setting is beautiful!  For those who enjoy pampering with great outdoor views, it’s about as good as it gets… at least for a few hundred miles!

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Spa aside, the hotel also offers falconry, shooting, 4×4, and fishing, targeted at those looking for a stag-do or team building-day; others may visit to attend a wedding or corporate event.   For us, it has been a place to have an extended family meal perhaps every other year tops; there was simply never anything else to draw us back… till perhaps now.

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The grounds are idyllic and views from the hotel stunning.  Bear in mind I visited pre-Spring/post-Winter, (probably the most barren the scenery gets round here!) yet still picturesque.

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Back to The Spa… positioned further round from the hotel with its own access (inside the grounds) the building design has a total ‘fit’ with the landscape.  Monthly membership is available  as well as day packages. IMG_2621IMG_2626IMG_2622IMG_2591

Inside is light and airy yet cosy and welcoming.

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The indoor pool is 15 meters with a full thermal suite, however the outside space is the pièce de resistance – an infinity pool over-looking Yorkshire hills.  On the cold day I visited it was divine – add twenty degrees of heat and a glass of bubbles and this will be the PERFECT place for a girls spa day.

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Though the ground was newly turned-over (presumably from the build) and the trees bare… fast-forward a few months/a year and it is only going to get better.

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Eight treatment rooms and a fully equipped gym mean there’s something to suit everyone looking for a day of invigoration and relaxation.  Spa packages are available from £39 per person.

 

The Coniston Spa is what this area of Yorkshire has been waiting for and it isn’t too hard to imagine people gathering their friends to make the visit!  You can visit their website here for more information.

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Carluccio’s

Though chain restaurants can get a bit of the down-thumbing among small independents, the bottom line has got to be, does the space serve a purpose for the community and those it wishes to attract?  Carluccio’s opened in Ilkley this week and having received nothing but excellent service every time we have visited others in the area, (mainly Trinity Leeds), we were pleased to see its arrival on our high street.

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Three factors are usually at play when eating and drinking out.
1. Do I like the space/the place/the atmosphere?
2. Do I like the goods?
3. Do I like the service?
Tick these three boxes and you stand a chance of getting the bonus ball – customer loyalty.
Not many places will consistently get all three right. Any place you do visit knowing they tick box number one, can then let you down on the other two for all manner of reasons.
Visiting Carluccio’s on its’ second day open, the sun streamed in through the glass roof creating a warm welcome.  It’s a light and easy space to be in, (plus we’ve enjoyed other Carluccio’s) = box number 1 ticked.

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Suffice to say as we only had a drinks and pastry, this isn’t a review of the food, but to show you the space.  The coffee wasn’t anything I remember as particularly special but we enjoyed our time there and the staff were friendly.  (Hands-down the best coffee in Ilkley and the place that ticks all three boxes every time is still Toast House.)

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Carluccio’s is a safe bet…a good call.  We can already see us visiting it more than we did The Grove (which was there before) and we’ve always had great food and service in the past – what’s not to like?!

Visit Carluccio’s website here.

My Girl
This face though…
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Salts Mill

Salts Mill quite frankly, has more credentials than most.  Set in World Heritage site Saltaire, West Yorkshire, this Grade II listed building possibly needs no introduction.    Whilst I could dive into the history that makes this place remarkable, it’s possibly of greater interest to answer the bottom line ‘why would I go?’.

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Until about six years ago (we have since moved further away), we would frequent Salts Mill fairly regularly; the reason for which ultimately can probably be reduced to one word,

S P A C E.

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It’s clear from the exterior that this is a huge building.  A mill in its past life, now predominantly known as the place showcasing Hockney (rather famous artist); whilst the Galleries are a pull for the tourists, it is more the lifestyle facilities which had us returning every few weeks owing to their setting inside so much space.

A bike shop, diner, HOME store, coffee shop, books and many other independent retailers offer something for everyone.

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Salts Mill is a place you can spend half a day indoors. For anyone with family or friends wanting to go somewhere for a ‘nice afternoon out’ (very English saying) and owing to not especially being able to rely on the weather – it’s a great place to explore and is exactly the reason we’d go many a Sunday afternoon.

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There’s an extensive book shop you can roam freely with your prams and Gram’s whilst not feeling short on space, (I think there’s very few places you can do that).  This book shop is the kind you’d pick up a book to buy even if you don’t read – there’s quite literally something for everyone.

 

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They clearly have a great buying team, we’ve purchased many over the years.  I have fond memories of our little Lady wandering amongst the shelves and sitting at these very tables and chairs pretending to read.

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Salts Mill 16The diner, again, has oodles of space – it was quiet when I visited early in the morning last week and didn’t stop for food, but have visited on days where almost every table is taken.  Regardless, there is always a pleasant vibe with great service and food.

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For those wanting to learn more about its history, there’s evidence and artefacts of its former life seen on many of the walls.

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Salts Mill houses one of the largest collections in the world of David Hockney art.  I’ll admit, whenever we’ve been in the past I’ve never been particularly ‘into’ his pictures that are everywhere, however, a new addition to my previous visits is the Gallery on the top floor.  It had me at the sign below.

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In a few words Hockney and, therefore, Salts Mill are talking our children’s language.  Forty-nine ink-jet prints adorn the walls all created within a six month period.  Though you are allowed to take photos, I was told no full images can be shown on the blog so for that purpose have edited them.  It is quiet remarkable the sheer volume this man has and is producing and more importantly, how he’s evolving with the current times as an individual.  My daughter visited with school last year and said they loved the top floor gallery.

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Finally, perhaps my favourite space is the lower floor 1853 gallery.  It is simply a beau-tiful room.  Brick ceiling, huge vases (Burmantofts pottery) and thoughtfully displayed books, journals, cards and art supplies are a most pleasant shopping experience.

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It is quite unthinkable that this building would have faced dereliction after its closure (1980’s) were it not for the insight of a local entrepreneur who saw opportunity in the premises!  This cultural landmark has not only been preserved to showcase the past, but to point towards the future.  It is not a museum, it does not require YOU to fit IT, rather it invites people of all ages to come just as they are.  In return, sends each away with their own unique experience thanks to that forward-thinking business man Jonathan Silver.

You can visit the Salts Mill website here. 

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Ilkley Cinema

November 2015, Ilkley Cinema opened its doors.  Yes, right in the heart of our little town you can now find Europe’s Smallest Ultra 4k Cinema; with 56 plush seats, it’s the swish-est boutique cinema you ever saw!
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(The 4k bit means 4000 pixel resolution which in layman terms means it’s a flipping-good screen).
We like our independent boutiques here at Lifestyle Yorkshire and though was aware of the new development, had decided against featuring here on the blog thinking it was perhaps too local?  That changed the day we went and experienced it for ourselves.
 We visited on a dark Sunday afternoon on a day of extreme rain (not the same day as the above photos) and unexpectedly managed to get a park right outside (bonus!).  Hurrying in through the door the weather was forgotten as we walked into an environment akin to a bustling little restaurant.
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Large glasses of wine were being poured, people were ordering food, the decor was so well done and everything we experienced said ‘welcome’.
The ‘holding area’ is a good size and so charming – it made me wonder if people were just there to socialise never mind go see a film.
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Tickets can be bought online and collected over the counter (the same one at which food and drinks are ordered).
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Once inside the auditorium it’s a class act.
The closest experience I can liken it to is an ‘Everyman’ cinema, (you sit on sofa’s and can have your food and drink brought to you as you watch the movie), but the experience at Ilkley Cinema is more intimate, and much more luxurious.
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We’d booked our tickets online, and though we’d never sit so close to the screen normally, the only seats available were on the second row, so we took them. Unlike the multiplexes – where you spend the duration moving your head from left to right to fit the screen in your line of vision, it was absolutely fine and neither of us suffered with neck ache!
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Tickets were £12 which, though at first may seem pricey to some, are absolutely fair.  There is no travel, no parking costs and it’s on the doorstep.  We didn’t eat or drink (dry January – oh the shame) but will definitely return where I’m looking forward to a nice white!
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Perhaps the most important thing in summation, is that Ilkley Cinema adds to the town.  It offers visitors something else to do, and it offers locals a new place to socialise.  By its nature it is NOT the same experience you would expect at a multiplex… it creates a sense of occasion and when we return, we will certainly spend more time there.
Screenings are 7 days a week – there are kids films (cheaper) on a Saturday morning, and even morning film times where parents of very young children can take their babies in without needing to be concerned if they make a noise.  I love the thought that’s gone into this place and trust that any of you who visit, will feel the same – well worth a visit!
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North Star Club

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The North Star Club is THE name in ‘Boutique Woodland Breaks’.  If you’re not familiar  with the term,  don’t worry – neither was I till North Star popped up in my Instagram feed (yet another triumph for social media as if we needed proof it works!) and I was instantly curious.

The accommodation is luxury woodland cabins in an area of forest just outside York and is quite unlike anything else.  As fate would have it, North Star Club and I contacted each other on the same day and it wasn’t long before we were booking a pre-Christmas stay.

North Star Club 2North Star Club 48North Star has created a new genre of accommodation for those wanting a cosy get-away.  It invites you to be amongst the outdoors, whilst being several echelons up the glamping ladder (which they also invented – a la ‘Jolly Days Glamping‘).  We invited the whole family (as you do), who don’t live to far away and thus began Christmas week early.

The careful thought to detail, the decorative flourishes and the feeling of ‘fit’ are what makes this place.  Beautiful wreaths adorn the doors, there are furs everywhere and more fairy lights than leaves!  I’d done my homework before we left and knew the designers Mr & Mrs Van Outersterp were award multi-award winning designers ~ it shows.

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Our cabin had a large covered porch with table and chairs and a large gas BBQ.  The first day there was so mild (for December) we were able to sit out and appreciate this space.  The second day was much colder which forced us all indoors hence, Spring thru Autumn months you’d really be able to enjoy this ‘room’ outdoors.

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Breakfast; ham and brie croissants with red-currant and ruby port sauce.  Easiest to make and so tasty!  The BBQ had a lid so they cooked in minutes and I’d taken disposable trays too so zero cleaning!

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In through the front door was a small room with table, two chairs and a good-sized little fridge ↓, we hadn’t expected any crockery (as the website clearly states not self-catering) so had taken our own but on arrival found out there was no need.  They provide it all.  This room also had a sofa bed that slept two people.

The accommodation slept 6 in total.  The sofa bed, a twin room, and the heart of the cabin – the Master Bedroom.  This was GORGEOUS, had a wood-burning stove we kept lit all day and really was the room we all hung out in.  The cabin managed to swallow varying combinations of 11 of us (some family came to hang out during the days).  My point… quarters are not cramped!

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Off the master bedroom was a bathroom almost as big.  One of the facilities North Star offers is pre-bookable Spa treatments within the comfort of your bathroom… bliss!

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Away from the cabins are some great communal spaces.  The fire pit was lovely to take the kids to and simply sitting watching the flames whilst toasting marshmallows was magic.  The Woodshed is a stones-throw and has seating and tables outside around a pizza stove.  Our first night we ate pizzas here it was so mild and the additional space was perfect for the younger children.
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Inside the Woodshed … well the pictures can do the talking!

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The North Star Club is a definite recommend! We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and would love to return.

Visit the North Star Club website here, they have some fantastic images and more information about the various lodges guests can stay in.

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POST NOTES:

What about the Food?  When you click on the ‘FOOD’ tab of the North Star Club website, you are directed towards local restaurants.  North Star state they are ‘not self-catering’ yet you are provided you with all the means to do so.  No pun intended but there is everything apart from the kitchen sink (you wash your pots in the bathroom).  As mentioned earlier, there was crockery and cutlery for six people, there was a washing up bowl with liquid, the BBQ was gas so cooking was good-to-go and trays and pans were available in the Woodshed… the ‘small fridge’ was a very decent size and we ate completely self-catered.

To us it was a ‘plus’ but couldn’t help thinking if it was better explained on the website, people might be encouraged to stay who otherwise wouldn’t if they felt they were going to have to eat out every meal.

UPDATE: 7th Jan 2.45pm Since posting this morning, I have heard from North Star who are firstly thrilled with the post and second, have said “the camp staff are meant to take away dirty pots as they have a washing area so that guests aren’t washing in their bathrooms – of which we are going to make this clearer going forward.”.  This is good news and now makes complete sense, self-cater and prosper folks!

A Beautiful Yorkshire Autumn

Happy to share what ultimately makes our little corner of Yorkshire so beautiful with you this week ~ the incredible landscape!  The Autumn has matured and though this past few days have been nothing but grey – that past two weeks has seen some amazing skies and magical sunsets.

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Ilkley from White Wells Cafe

As you may know, I like to go out gadding up on the moors in Ilkley, so although there are many places in Yorkshire I could share if I had the time to go photograph them – we’ll just have to make do with the majority of these been taken from home… Enjoy.

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Quiet morning on Ilkley Moor

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The last seconds of the sun

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Harlow Carr looking vibrant as ever

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A climber begins his descent on Cow and Calf Rocks

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Early morning in Scarborough

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Ilkley Tarn

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Sleep Sunday North Bay, Scarborough

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Recently, I have returned home from a few big cities aware there was an absence of the changing season.  Clearly, Autumn is what it is here in rural Yorkshire because of the incredible trees which offer so much by way of richness of ever-changing colour… I wouldn’t swap it for the world!

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My training ground

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Light Night Leeds

A couple of weeks ago went to the Light Night in Leeds, an annual ​multi-arts and light festival.  Prior to going we checked it out online, there was going to be so much going on in so many different locations across the city, (’60 free arts events in 10 zones’), we were bound to miss out on something no matter what we did!  We decided to head to the Trinity Centre and take it as it came.

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The view from our table – the sky kicking the evening off with an impromptu display of its’ own.

Arriving in to Leeds for just after 5pm, we ate , shopped and took in the atmosphere for a good three hours and left just after 8pm though events went on till 11pm.
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Reflections: The Trinity glass roof before the lights began

The Trinity light show you could be forgiven for mistaking as part of the building set up.  Lights at every intersection across the roof produced sequential lighting effects which were fabulous though a cluster of bean bags on the floor weren’t anything to write home about… perhaps more happened after we’d left; either way I hope the light stay!

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Out onto Briggate there was a choir, street market, brass band, and a huge owl that began a procession that walked through the streets followed by people of all ages with what looked like home-made lanterns.  Every time we came out of a shop there seemed to be something different about to start.  Walking back to the train station we passed a crowd at centenary square watching an impressive, building-wide projection into the front of The Queens Hotel.
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Looking at social media following the event, there was clearly a lot more taking place than we’d seen, but a little person tired from a week at school, needed their bed – maybe next year we’ll stay up longer!
As this is an annual event, I’d ear mark it almost in preference to the Christmas Light Switch-on which will be happening in a few weeks and will no doubt be rammed and a much more crowded affair.  It was a perfect pre-Christmas little evening out and well worth a consideration for the future.
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