Friday, 30 June 2017


I have made a little promise to myself to see more of our beautiful island and head out to places I have not visited before.  Although it is always lovely to go back to somewhere that you have loved of old, as we did with Whitby, there is something really exciting about striking out to pastures new.  So off to North Wales I headed with my daughter in tow. 

Although only a few hours from our doorstep I had only been once before, having visited Llandudno for work, so there really was a lot for us to see


We started our adventure checking into our lovely little cottage Tyn Llech that I had booked via Homeaway who are one of my favourite house rental sites. It was a gorgeous two storey stone cottage with sea views, nestled amongst fields on the Wern Estate and had every amenity you could wish for.  We even treated ourselves to a meal cooked by Viv who looks after the property and it was the best meal we had while there.  
The view from our cottage 

Exterior of Tyn LLech cottage
We spent our first day exploring the pretty seaside town of Criccieth which was a few miles from the cottage.  The beach here is beautiful and goes on for miles and there are some lovely shops, cafes and pubs plus what remains of a pretty impressive castle built by the equally impressively named Llywelyn the Great. We enjoyed a tasty brunch in the Blue China Tea Rooms which overlooks the sea before walking along the sea wall/promenade. 

In the evening we ventured to Dylan's Restaurant which is housed in a retro 1950's art deco style building that fronts onto the sea.  The menu features hearty food and we both had steak.  My daughters was fine but mine was tough, but that is sometimes the luck of the draw when ordering steak.

The view of Criccieth Castle  from the beach 
Being on the Wern Estate meant we could walk out our front door and enjoy some beautiful countryside walks taking in views of the Snowdonia National Park.  We stumbled across some quaint little chapels down single track roads with graves dating back to the 1700's and one thing that particularly struck us was the longevity of folks in this part of the world, even centuries ago.  It must be the healthy air and lifestyle.  The first chapels we came across had a poster that declared they were 'Friends of Friendless Churches' - not something I had ever heard of before and rather a forlorn name but very apt.  On investigation it transpires this is a worthy charity who "rescue, repair and campaign for historic churches in England and Wales". They now own nearly 50 churches and preserve them as peaceful spaces for visitors and the local community which I think is wonderful and I will definitely support their endeavours. 

Views of Snowdonia National Park


The coastal town of Porthmadog was also within easy striking distance of our cottage, but I found it less charming than I expected and I favoured Criccieth.  The harbour area as seen here is very pretty and worth a visit and we did enjoy a snack at the Big Rock Cafe on the High Street but didn't particularly see any other restaurants that attracted us.  

Porthmadog Harbour


On our second day we visited the village of Abersoch on the breathtaking Llyn peninsula.  This captivating village combines a mix of old and new with stylish shops and a number of eateries and bars.  The never ending beach and surrounding scenery was stunning and this is somewhere I would definitely like to visit again to explore more. 

We enjoyed a light lunch in Zinc Cafe Bar and Grill which did not disappoint before heading off towards Bangor, one of the smallest cities in the UK.   


On our last full day in the area we headed to Harlech to see the magnificent castle which was originally built by Edward 1 in the 13th century as part of his 'iron ring' of fortresses.    It is an incredibly impressive edifice perched atop a rock overlooking the Irish Sea and much of the battlements remain which make it a really amazing place to walk and gaze out to sea while imagining the many pitch battles fought here. 

Patio at Cemlyn Tea Shop overlooking Harlech Castle 
We had a fabulous lunch at the Cemlyn Tea Shop which overlooks the castle and sea and wandered the steep streets of the town visiting antique and interior shops. 



We had visited Portmeirion on our first day in Gwynedd and it was particularly relevant as our cottage had been designed by descendents of Sir Clough Williams-Ellis who had designed and built Portmeirion.

Like a lot of people of my generation I knew it from the iconic TV programme The Prisoner and I was pleased to see a number of things that I remembered from that including the chess board and of course the stunning beach where Patrick McGoohan was chased by giant inflatables, which sounds really strange now.

The setting for the village is spectacular with incredible views of mountains, coast and country and the village itself bears testament to Clough Williams-Ellis and his vision to create a development that does not defile a site of natural beauty.

We both felt it was a little surreal with its Italianate architecture and was reminiscent of  Disneyland although it predates that by over 20 years.  None the less it was worth the visit and it must be lovely to stay there either in the Hotel or one of the rental cottages and enjoy the surroundings when all the tourists have gone home for the day.  

There are a number of cafes, restaurants and shops in the village and we enjoyed a drink on the terrace of the Town Hall Cafe which is a lovely setting to admire the village and watch the world go by.

We didn't have time to wander round the woodland and wider gardens and that is definitely something worth taking in on another visit.  There is even a little 'train' that will take you round but really it looked easily walkable. 

We seemed to run out of time to see as much of North Wales as we would have liked and didn't even manage to take the train on Snowdon, long at least walk it.  So a return visit is definitely not the cards and we can add a day trip to Angelsey to our plans.  

Friday, 23 June 2017



The coastal resort of Whitby on the East Coast has long been a favourite destination of ours.  Every year we would spend a week there with our girls and family members, usually around the first week of the school holidays, so that the girls could spend time playing together and we could start winding down.

Famous for the setting of Bram Stoker's novel "Dracula" and the place from where explorer Captain Cook set sail on his adventures, there is plenty to do for a week, but when we recently returned for a nostalgic visit, it was just for the day.

The story of Count Dracula has enjoyed notoriety in the media of film and ballet, telling the story of how the vampire ran aground in Whitby aboard the Russian ship Demeter.  Fans of this ghoulish tale can hear all about the story and its legend at the Dracula Experience on Marine Parade - but do be aware this is definitely for the tourists.

The town itself is dissected by a single carriageway bridge which rises when larger vessels sail into the harbour.  Whitby is still a live fishing port, but there are many tourist boats which take visitors through the harbour and out to sea - including on board the former Lifeboat. Serious anglers can also take fishing trips out into the North Sea, though children tend to do their fishing from the promenade wall, where we saw a young man catching crabs with no more than a hook and line.

Because of its fishing heritage, there is an abundance of lovely old fisherman's cottages, many of which are now converted to holiday accommodation, and which line the harbour, though parking cars may be something of a problem as access is down tiny picturesque alleyways - built in the days before cars.

The Captain Cook Museum sits almost next to the bridge, in Grape Place, and details the explorer's amazing adventures.  As a museum there are also a number of visiting exhibitions, lectures and activities for children - so a great place to go if it's raining.

We have a couple of favourite restaurants in Whitby, so headed to the White Horse and Griffin for lunch on this occasion - a traditional old inn, and former meeting place of Captain Cook.  They also do accommodation, though we have never stayed there - but we can recommend the restaurant - the food is superb!

The famous 99 steps lead up to the ruined Gothic abbey (circa AD657) which features in the Dracula stories. There is also a wonderful abbey museum detailing Whitby's sea-faring history, with lots of summer activities, all housed in a beautiful old mansion, which is the former home of the Cholmley family, landowners and a prominent local family.

There are of course, lots of tourist shops, but look out for jewellers selling highly polished Whitby jet jewellery - made from fossilised wood, compressed over millions of years. Jet is mainly found in north east England, and particularly from an area between Robin Hood's Bay and Boulby.  It became fashionable in Victorian England after the death of Queen Victoria's beloved husband Albert, since she wore the jet black jewellery in his honour.


The new town leading to West Cliff is what you might expect from a British seaside resort. With amusement arcades, ice cream parlours, clairvoyants and fish and chips galore, the road leads directly down to the beach.

The wide expanse of sand is perfect for the children with their buckets and spades, and you can hire a wind break and a deck chair for less than £5 - perfect for a hot afternoon after a quick dip or a paddle.

The West Cliff is also home to some of the larger Victorian hotels, and B&B accommodation. Most of these are situated around the Royal Crescent (where Bram Stoker stayed in the late 1890s).  There are a couple of landmarks in the form of a striking statue memorial to Captain Cook, presented in 1978 to the town by the people of Canada to mark the 250th anniversary of his birth. The nearby 20 foot whalebone arch commemorates those seamen who sailed off Greenland in search of these magnificent creatures to hunt for whale oil - which would have guaranteed prosperity and riches to those who returned - but many did not as the inhospitable seas claimed many lives and ships.

Having lunched at the White Horse and Griffin, it is worth mentioning another of our favourite restaurants, which is Trenchers - a modern fish and chip restaurant serving locally caught fish, but with some modern variations - including gluten free batter on the fish! When we visited all those years ago, we pushed the boat out and ate our traditional fish and chips with a bottle of champagne, as we were usually celebrating a summer birthday.

Another famous Whitby fish restaurant, The Magpie, is currently closed as two fires in early May destroyed the roof.  The original building dates back to 1750 and was a merchant's house, before being used as a shipping office and by whaling crews.  It wasn't used as a restaurant until 1939, and has since won many international awards. 


We didn't usually stay in Whitby, but in a village just outside Robin Hood's Bay called Fylingthorpe.  This is a small village with a butchers, a post office and a pub, from which it was a short stroll through woods into Robin Hood Bay.  However, if you drive to the Bay, be aware that you cannot take a car down to the sea, which must be left in the car park, and the hill is very very steep (since my accident last year I'm not sure I could walk up it now!).

In fact Robin Hood's Bay was initially a much more important town than Whitby itself, appearing on ancient charts dating back to the 16th Century.  It had a thriving fishing industry, largely because it was relatively safe from piracy, and the topography meant sailors could walk into the village straight from their boats. It later became much more famous as a smugglers cove, due in part to its isolation, and the marshy land which surrounded it on three sides.

Robin Hood's Bay is also noted for its fossils - many of which can still be found today at low tide - something the children loved to hunt out when they were younger.  Beware the tides though - it is easy to find yourself cut off as the sea comes in very quickly.

It is also worth mentioning Sandsend - just a few miles along the coast, with a beautiful beach on which our girls spent hours playing in the sea, which had a small inlet and was great for paddling and sailing in a blow up boat!  The lovely Estbek Hotel served yummy toasted sandwiches and scones, though having just looked at their website, it is now boasts a posh restaurant!

And our girls always loved to hire a rowing boat at Ruswarp, just outside Whitby, which was also next to a small Crazy Golf with a cafe.  We enjoyed such simple pleasures before they both grew up, and yet they both look back on these holidays with such happy memories!

A final note from Anne C - Whitby is such a great base for a traditional English seaside family holiday.  I once asked my own daughter, who was aged about nine at the time which type of holiday she preferred - our annual trip to Greece, or our week in Whitby.  She chose Whitby!

Friday, 16 June 2017


This is our final blog about hats, and this time we are concentrating on wedding guest hats. Anne H is attending a friend's son's wedding this year, so it seemed a good idea to style some outfits around lovely summer weddings. All the hats are from Simply Devine Hats in Tadcaster.

Although she originally planned to wear a black lace dress, she has since had second thoughts, so we may see a change when she finally attends the wedding!

The first hatinator she is wearing is in a bright pink with wonderful feathers, which make it seem larger than it actually is, since the base is quite small but the feathers add presence.

Her dress is from a previous season bought in Hobbs, with a matching black shrug.

Anne C is in a very vibrant cobalt blue sparkly hatinator delicately trimmed with feathers and diamante. Her dress is Zoe, and is currently available in the sales, from Phase Eight. She has accessorised with a crystal watch from Swarovski, bought at McArthur Glen outlet near York.

Back to Anne H with another wedding guest style, in a bright lipstick pink, trimmed with a silk flower and sparkling crin fabric. Her pearl necklace and bracelet are also from Simply Devine.

Anne C is showcasing a bright pepper red hatinator, which she is wearing with a Monsoon dress from previous season.  The pearls and earrings are also from Simply Devine.

Here's Anne H again, wearing the purple Hobbs dress with a cute little purple pillbox hatinator - just right for a wedding guest, and a perfect match to her dress.

Not sure Anne H would ever wear these two colours together  (a bit Leeds United-ish!), but the yellow hatinator certainly adds a pop of colour to the cobalt dress.

Our final pillbox is an explosion of shimmering pleated crin on a black and white pillbox hat - very much in keeping with Anne's favourite mono palette. She is wearing a black Mint Velvet lace dress, black and white shoes bought from L K Bennett at the McArthur Glen outlet, with clutch bag from Coast.

That is the last of this year's hat photoshoot, but we love the shop so much that we may go back again next year.  Look out for some of Simply Devine's wonderful creations at Royal Ascot this coming week!


Friday, 9 June 2017


Anne C here and I am much more of an impulse shopper than Anne H – I always come home from my travels with something new – whether it be clothes, jewellery, shoes or handbags – the latter is my absolute weakness.

Fabulous clothes!

Since I have been holidaying on the Greek island of Santorini every year for the past 15 years, many of my summer purchases have come from there – including last year which featured on our blog here.  I have discovered a cute Greek brand of casual clothes by LS which feature lightweight summer clothing in wonderfully bright colours – exactly what I go for – and the best thing is that you won’t bump into anyone else wearing the same outfit.  Since I usually travel there towards the end of the summer season, I have managed to get quite a few of their garments at half price, which is always a bonus.

Santorini also has a great selection of linen dresses and tops – of which there is a huge choice – though linen isn’t particularly cheap, even in Greece. Linen is always so cool, comfortable and easy to wear, and for holiday visits to steamier climates, it is a must …. though one of the drawbacks is that linen creases so badly, so probably not too good for travelling in long haul.

If you’re lucky enough to visit the Far East, which we did three years ago, there are some fabulous shops and markets offering great bargains. I have a lovely cool white cotton Chinese-style blouse bought in Chatuchak market in Bangkok for less than a fiver, while a made-to-measure suit in silk and cashmere cost around the same price as an off the peg polyester one back home – and was ready within a day. Look out for great deals in Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore – you can get made to measure clothes at a fraction of what they cost at home – and they don’t even need a pattern.  My “dressmaker” copied the design from a photograph and it was completed within 24 hours!

Top tip: If you’re travelling to tourist destinations, always look for bargains at the end of the season, and if you’re visiting hot climates, seek out clothes in lovely cottons and linen fabrics to keep you cool.

Anne H meanwhile loves city breaks, so her clothing purchases have been bought in independent fashion boutiques which also tend to be slightly more formal.  She bought this stunning black coat from Carin Wester with peek-a-boo back opening  in Amsterdam last year, which looks fabulous with either tailored trousers or jeans, while her cream Max Mara jumpsuit, also bought last year, but in Rome – is completely on-trend this season.

Top tip: For city break travellers, seek out independent boutiques if you want unusual finds, and steer away from global high street brands – though to be aware that different countries do offer different styles from home.

Thira, which is the main town in Santorini, has a stunning choice of jewellery shops with the most fabulous diamonds, sapphires, emeralds, rubies and designer watches at ridiculously high prices – aimed at the hundreds of cruise ships which dock there.  Unless you are extremely wealthy, I would avoid these shops unless you are specifically looking for something unusual and have found either something completely different or much cheaper than home.

However, if you want fabulous costume jewellery, Bizermani has the most unusual and limited pieces. From beautiful pearls to a peacock style gold-tone and thread necklace to a rhodium plated and coral long necklace, these are definitely one of a kind.  The tourist resorts too will often have ranges of inexpensive jewellery in leathers, unusual beads or turquoise stones, and which are great for gifts and you can always save until Christmas!

As Anne H has family in Tropea, Italy, she travels there at least once a year, and she always manages to find interesting pieces.  She is pictured here with a handcrafted cuff with coral inserts, which complements her dark green Zara top.  Her Versace glasses too are a Tropea find from a couple of years ago, which she has now updated with a new pair of MiuMiu glasses, bought in New York. If you find a spectacle design you like while on your travels – don’t be afraid to buy them and then take them to a good optician back home to get them glazed with your personal prescription.

We have visited both Dubai and Bangkok together over the years and have come home with some fabulous jewellery.  Dubai in particular is a wonderful place to buy gold at reasonable prices – try the gold souk in Deira – but do your research before you go and be prepared to haggle and walk away if the price isn’t right.

Top tip when buying jewellery abroad: do your research!  You can actually find some real bargains in certain parts of the world if you’re prepared to haggle, but you can also end up paying a fortune when you don’t need to if you’re taken in by the glitz of glamorous foreign high streets!

Shoes and handbags

I have a weakness for handbags and shoes and my go-to leather shop is Transit in Perissa, which also has another shop in Megachlahori.  My lovely Greek friend offers comfy leather thong sandals and a good selection of soft leather handbags and traditional old-style suitcases. I always need a larger shoe size in hot countries –apparently British and Scandinavian women tend to have problems with swollen legs and feet in the sun – so when I go abroad I always take shoes or sandals that are too big at home.  And don’t go away on holiday with brand new shoes – I made that mistake with a pair of flats which I thought would be comfortable for walking in Singapore.  They weren’t and I had blisters for three days!

Top tip: Don’t fill up your suitcase before you get there – you can find fabulous shoes and sandals  to buy once you get there, usually at great value for money.

**Extracts taken from a post written for Sixtyandme first printed in May.**

© Sensational Baby Boomers

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