Move over The Greatest Showman now it’s back to The Great Yorkshire Show.

This iconic show is celebrating it’s 160th year on the lead up to this epic show is the tour of a magnificent galvanised steel sculpture of the Craven Heifer .

Show organisers the Yorkshire Agricultural Society commissioned renowned Whitby-based sculptor Emma Stothard to recreate the Craven Heifer who became a national phenomenon in the 1800s. People would pay to see the heifer who was put on show on her way to Smithfield Market, London, and remains the largest heifer ever shown in England and lived in the same era as the first show.

Weighing more than half a tonne and standing at 6 ft tall, the GYSheifer sculpture left for its tour from the Craven Heifer’s birthplace at the Bolton Abbey Estate.

The GYSheifer has travelled nearly 50 miles aboard a specially designed truck to Fulford, York where she was met by police motorcyclists and escorted into Imphal Barracks, adjacent to where the very first Great Yorkshire Show was held in the Barrack Yard of the 5th Dragoons in 1838.

Charles Mills, Show Director, said

The Craven Heifer was an iconic animal born and bred in the same era as the first Great Yorkshire Show and was the wonder of farmers across England. We want to take the GYSheifer on tour, just as the Craven Heifer did, come and see her yourself at the Great Yorkshire Show where she will be put in prime position on the President’s Lawn.”

The sculpture project has been months in the planning and involved research with experts at Bolton Abbey Estate and the Great Yorkshire’s Chief Cattle Steward Margaret Chapman, whose family have been part of the show for more than 100 years, to ensure the sculpture’s authenticity.

Emma Stothard, sculptor, said: “This has been one of my most ambitious projects to date, requiring hours of research with the help of Margaret Chapman – an expert in cattle. We’ve poured over many paintings and different documents charting the Craven Heifer’s size. We wanted the GYSheifer to be as lifelike as possible and it’s been exciting to bring the Craven Heifer back to life for everyone to get an idea of how big she really was.”

The GYSheifer popped up at locations across Yorkshire to promote England’s biggest and best agricultural show before taking up position at the Great Yorkshire Showground ready for the event. The public are encouraged to post their selfies with #GYSheifer  but remember to #Yorkshire on Twitter too.

Enjoy your visit and I look forward to seeing your tweets.

St. Mary's Inn

When I heard in that St. Mary’s Inn was closing I was a little sad. Fast forward to 2018 and the lovely place has reopened; with their rooms available from Monday June 4 I thought I’d re share my review.

It was going to be a long and busy week and the thought of a Friday night away just the two of us was what was keeping Richard and myself going.

The rural getaway was at St. Mary’s Inn the little sister to the renowned Jesmond Dene House. St. Mary’s Inn is in the village of Stannington north of Newcastle and just a hop, skip and a jump from the town of Morpeth.

Dinner, bed breakfast and fingers crossed a lie in; here we come.

The journey

Stannington is really well signposted off the A1 and there are signs for St. Mary’s Inn and even more poignantly St. Mary’s Hospital which are easy to follow. I knew my way to the Inn from memory but the winding road may benefit from a couple more signs.

Arrival

We arrived at 5:00pm and were welcomed by Zoe who showed us to our room we decided we quite fancied a nap before dinner.

Our bedroom – Greenlee Lough

When we opened the door we were greeted with an expanse of space and beds so high they were reminiscent of ‘Princes and The Pea’ – yay and I know a certain daughter of mine would have loved to bounce on them.

I’m a stickler for white bed linen and I was not to be disappointed. I love a chunky pillow or two and we got four, plenty to go around. The duvet was heavy but not too heavy. Simple quality. Of course “Mr. I sleep on the thinnest pillow in the world” didn’t like the pillows but he could cope for one night.

There was not one, but two sitting areas, one right next to the TV and the other with a lovely table to sit and read or work at.

bedroom

Having worked with Marlish Water in the past I was happy their water was on the tea tray alongside another local brand, Ringtons. I’m sure fresh milk would have been available if I had requested it too.

I crossed my fingers before I entered the bathroom. I so wanted a bath, we moved house in Feb 2015 and we have a double shower instead of a bath (this seriously needs to be rectified) and hotel stays are the only time I get to take a dip and luxuriate in some bubbles.

The bathroom was great. I loved the velux window in the ceiling, the sumptuous towels and I was looking forward to trying the products supplied as I hadn’t tried them before.

Relaxing time before dinner

I love the fact that Richard had packed us a cheeky bottle of prosecco, a perfect accompaniment to a bath filled with lovely bubbles (which H2B ran without prompting). I truly relaxed. We lay on the bed and drank and chatted before dinner (the TV wasn’t working). It was lovely. Even though we live together it seemed like an age since we’d had a chat that wasn’t interjected by, ‘mummy or daddy’ or the sound of our baby boy.

Thank you St. Mary’s Inn for the peace and quiet.

Dinner

Although tempting to stay in our lovely room, we were hungry so headed over the outdoor courtyard and downstairs to the bar admiring the frequently changing artwork on the way.

Before dinner, Richard opted for a pint of Peroni whilst I chose  St. Mary’s Ale made by the wonderful Wylam Brewery as my tipple. I knew from first sip that I’d be drinking it for the rest of the night unless of course I got the taste for gin!

At 7:30pm we decided to head along to the restaurant and I loved all of the areas and the relaxed feeling throughout. It was akin to a warren, people all chatting away with quite a few dogs (both real and wire sculptures) looking happily at home.

We were greeted by Phil the Duty Manager and chatted about the menu. He was genuinely enthusiastic about both the menu and St. Mary’s Inn. I appreciated the fact that many of the items on the menu were sourced locally, so locally in some cases that the chef could reach out of the window and place the veg onto the ‘Entremetier’ station.

The short and simple menu featured many starters and main courses that we wanted to try. To start, Richard opted for Lamb Koftas and I chose Smoked Haddock and Clam Chowder with Whisky and Bacon. Both were really tasty, but I wouldn’t have chosen to have mussels as part of the chowder.

starters and mains

For main H2B had the Aberdeen Angus Beef Burger which came with cheese, mayonnaise, tomato ketchup, pickles, coleslaw and home made fries, he’d sworn he was off bread but couldn’t resist.

I chose the steak and went for the bone marrow and parsley fries. The steak was cooked to my liking medium rare and the fries were good but I had chip envy and loved the look of the chunky ones on a nearby table.

Richard swore he didn’t want desert but there were two that I fancied so gluttony prevailed and I ordered both.

DESSERT

To satisfy my sweet tooth I opted for the custard tart with honeycomb and vanilla ice cream and for my savoury love was the selection of British cheeses with rye crackers and preserves. This was my absolute favourite course and Richard did help me (I promise). The custard tart was amongst the best I have ever tasted and instead of the typically dense consistency this was delicate and the bitterness of the honeycomb cut through the sweetness.  The selection of cheeses was just enough to end the meal.

Phil tried to lure us into coffees but we were embracing the no child night and the calling for bed was so loud.

We made our way to our room but we were waylaid by the bar as I did fancy a gin and I was happy that they stocked Fentimans tonic. Richard’s eyes were heavy so I selected a book from the shelves in one of the snug areas and we headed to bed.

Sleepytime

Our tummies were completely fit to burst so up the dancers we went. We crawled into bed at 10:30 and he was asleep within 10 minutes. I lay and read for a while which was an absolute luxury.

Alas I woke up a few times in the night as it was so warm (thermostat set to 71 degrees Fahrenheit, I have no idea what that is in metric) I’m also used to being awoken several times in the night and thirdly I thought I’d lost my other half, turns out that the bed is sooo big we could easily fit our family of four in the bed with room to spare.

Breakfast

This can be an absolute deal maker or breaker for me.

Zoe showed us to our table, she assured us she had been home as she was still serving at the bar when we went to bed.

This was the room we could see from our bedroom. It was light and bright and there was just us (well for a few minutes until many faces that we saw during dinner the night before).

continental and full English

Our toast and drinks order was taken and then we got to peruse the continental breakfast and gluttony raised its head again. Smoked salmon and meats donned our plates and the quality was fantastic.

We both ordered full English breakfast no beans for me, we both ate the lot, oink, oink. We drank copious amounts of coffee we have definitely missed our breakfast dates.

Full English

Before checkout I had little nosey in all of the nooks and crannies and decided that I really did like this place and would love a local like this.

Overall opinion

Although it’s known as Jesmond Dene House little sister I think St. Mart’s Inn has  everything it needs to have a stand alone reputation. It isn’t trying to be something that it is not. It is by definition a house providing accommodation, food, and drink, especially for travellers and this was done to perfection. I even forgot that it is unmanned overnight so the guests are left to their own devices, well sort of, we couldn’t have our very own lock in.

Having the right staff is so important and I think the brilliance of the staff shone through with their friendly and knowledgeable demeanour and nothing was too much trouble even bringing up an iron and ironing board before dinner.

We had a fabulous time and with a few tweaks it would be perfect. Before I left I was already recommending the Inn to a friend who was coincidentally staying at Jesmond Dene House as a surprise anniversary treat from her husband: major brownie points.

Incase you fancy a visit St. Mary’s Inn is open 8am to 11pm each day with dining until 9:30pm. Remember to book your table don’t just turn up and expect to be served.

Our stay would have been £140 for dinner, bed and breakfast and personally I think that it was most definitely worth that.

Now for the unexpected personal bit which I chose not to place at the beginning of the review.
There was a distinct reason that I wanted to stay and it wasn’t until we were offered a meal at the Inn that I looked into the history and I felt like an idiot when I put two and two together. I actually got a knot in my stomach and a tear in my eye.

As you may have already read St. Mary’s Inn is situated in what was the administration building of St. Mary’s Hospital, the old Gateshead Borough mental institution. We were originally supposed to just head there for dinner but when I read the history of the site I asked if we could stay. A member of my family had spent quite a lot of time at St. Mary’s hospital and visited him often and unfortunately he didn’t have a pleasant stay there. I hoped a visit would air some demons. I haven’t taken the turn off for Stannington since 1995 and I was on auto pilot driving and the hospital signs were still in situ and threw me. What the heck was I doing when potentially I was unearthing a bad memory of a location.

I am glad I came as even though the admin building is clearly recognisable there were very few other points of reference and thinking of my uncle made me smile.

You can keep up to date with St. Mary’s in via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Thank you Phil and Nicky for having us and we hope to visit again when we are in the area.

First published: 15 Feb 2016

The trend for unicorn love doesn’t appear to be diminishing at all. Every shop appears to at least a nod to this mythical creature.

Unicorns first made an appearance in our household back in 2015 where Emily’s big sister pressie was the biggest unicorn you can imagine which lays proudly in Emily’s bed and is named Una (you can see Una on a Little Live Pets review)

Now it’s time for something a little more manageable and this comes in the form of  My Fairy ‘Unicorn’ Garden.

The Unicorn Garden is what it says on the box. A garden fit for a fairy, her unicorn and a magical wishing well.

Included: bunting, wishing well, arbor (garden arch), flowers, mouse, unicorn, fairy princess, multi-coloured stones, grass seed and bowl.

Excluded: One of the items not supplied is compost, we had a massive bag that we’d bought from Aldi for a plant potting exercise.

Assembly: Only the arbor and bunting need assembling. The arbor was simple, the bunting was a little fiddly but manageable.

Now to begin. Get the bowl (I tried to get Emily to use one of our pretty bowls but she was having none of it and opted for the one supplied) and fill with soil to just over half.

Emily decided she wanted it EXACTLY the way it was on the box and she placed the arbor and wishing well at opposite ends and started to lay the path which was made from brightly coloured stones.

Next for the sprinkling of the seeds. This doesn’t need to be accurate or even just make sure there is a good coverage and the seeds are watered. Within two days the seeds seemed to shoot away and this continued. I wish the grass in my garden grew as well.

Overview

Time to put together: 60 minutes (we didn’t rush and spent the time talking about the growing process)

Played with as a garden: only a couple of times

Played with in general: Emily plays with the unicorn, mouse and fairy often within other imaginary play games rather then the garden.

Maintenance: It requires watering and cutting, if this isn’t done it  will die off.

Would I buy it?: Yes but it does fall into the ‘considered purchase’ category as on average it is over £20, however I have seen it for as low as £14.99

Top tip: Once established move this outside and create a perfect outdoor toy that can’t really be ruined unless there is torrential rain.

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer: This item was provided for review purposes only. All opinions are mine or my family's own.

Hello everyone,

recently I’ve spent more time sleeping on the sofa then it being my go to place to write, chat and be.

Like everyone from time to time I needed to consolidate and learn to love my content again and in the background I have been writing some excellent stuff. A lot of it is quite personal and writing it down has been cathartic and I’m almost ready to share.

On May 1 I will be starting to publish and here’s a few things what you can look out for;

Learning to love, in my case my tummy and many more things.

Learning to let go and forgive myself.

A 40 plus view of New York including a blast from the past Sex and The City Tour

House renovation (when plans need to be fluid but ideas set in stone)

The A-Z of my life

and so much more.

 

Happy reading…

There was a little kitten who needed a home and a little girl and boy who were ready to show their love. The brother and sister waited patiently for days and days. The little girl, Emily hoped she didn’t have to wait as long as she did for her little brother, Luke aka Mr. Fox or Mr. Moo Moo to arrive. The kitten’s sleeping basket was prepared, nothing was too good for this new addition.

After school one night Emily asked her mummy,

Has my, I mean our, kitten arrived yet?

And the mummy replied,

It has and we’ve been waiting all day to share her with you.

The glee on the little girls face melted her mummy’s heart. Instant love appeared as Emily nuzzled her cheek to little kitten and the little kitten purred in a much louder voice then expected.

Mummy can we call her Snowy?

Of course Emily that’s a lovely name.

Welcome Snowy, our newly adopted Little Live Pets Kitten.

Snowy was aptly named as she’s white and soft and it’s the lead up to Christmas was sent for us to review. A lovely little bundle of fun without the need to feed or clean up after. Snowy has been tried and tested by my seven year old and also secretly tried out by my two year old (I know this is below the recommended age but I was with him when he was loving the kitten).

Snowy loves to be handled and is robust enough to be thrown around by a toddler (and carried around by her neck). Snowy cuddles into the cheek and responds quickly to changes in position and depth of touch. She likes her tummy tickled and I’m so envious as to how quickly she can fall asleep too.

Overall, Snowy has six different play modes and 20 kitten sounds, plenty to keep the little ones entertained but, for how long?

I’m so glad you can’t overfeed this kitten as both children are a little eager to provide food and water (Luke can often be found sharing his snacks). It comes with a little bowl but don’t worry if it goes a miss as it’s the positioning of the kitten that makes the lapping sound rather than any connectivity between bowl and cat.

I’ve found both Emily and Luke sitting cuddling Snowy without her being turned on and it’s so nice to see. Also Mr. Fox is calmed down during the night by stroking Snowy previously he’d often want our dwarf hamsters out and with a sleep deprived mummy and a lively but sleepy toddler this wasn’t a great combo.

Would I buy this toy? Prior to the review the price would have put me off but because of the opportunity and living with the kitten I would buy it, sorry adopt a Little Live Pets Cuddles My Dream Kitten for my niece and nephew to share.

Pros of the toy:
Easy to fall in love with, children can play with it independently.

Great for allergy sufferers.

Lots of variety.

Cons of the toy:

The price may be restrictive to some.

This cat moults lots.

The mechanism is very loud indeed which the two year old didn’t mind but annoyed the seven year old a little.

Little Live Pets My Dream Kitten Cuddles is available from many toy shops including Smyths Toys. RRP £54.99