We are simply delighted to see our latest travel article featured on the home page of the prestigious travel website of The International Ecotourism Society: http://www.yourtravelchoice.org/2012/10/experiencing-mauritius-conservation-stories-through-ecotourism-adventures/
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Tags: Angie Aspinall, conservation in Mauritius, echo parakeet, ecotourism, Mauritius, pink pigeon, rare bird photos
Categories : Travel, Travelogue
If you’re looking for a warm welcome this autumn or winter, you’d have to go a long way to beat the reception you’ll get at The Moors Inn at Appleton-le- Moors in North Yorkshire. Whether you’re a couple looking for a romantic getaway, a small group of friends celebrating a special occasion – this friendly pub can certainly cater for your needs.
Located in a picturesque village, the inn offers peace and tranquillity in this rural idyll. Appleton-le-Moors isn’t what you’d recognise as a ‘destination’ village (like neighbouring destination towns of Helmsley or Pickering for example) but it’s all the better for that if you know the area well and are looking for somewhere different to try and there are great walks which start from the pub so you can leave your car in the car park and get walking. As well as the attraction of the footpaths, in the village, alongside the pub, there’s a spa, a ceramic artist, a pottery.
City folk will find charm in seeing sheep grazing on the common land – although, I’d hazard a guess that villagers may tire of the sheep’s relentless eating which makes it impossible to have prettily planted verges or low growing window boxes. For visitors, there’s also the excitement of seeing the local hare population at play, which is not something many town or city-dwellers get to do. For the adventurous foodies amongst you, occasionally, there’s the chance to sample hare on the menu – along with other game which comes into season in the autumn.
With the coal fire lit in the range and wholesome, warming dishes on offer, who could resist dropping into the Moors Inn? In addition to the extensive menu, which features ultra-local produce – from the inn’s own allotment and villagers’ gardens no less – there’s also a surprisingly good wine list (which is something which is sometimes overlooked by small country pubs which are more used to catering for real ale fans). The Malbec we were recommended to accompany the Lamb Shank, was exceptionally good.
The regular menu features such treasures as Pea and parmesan risotto and Mussels in home-made dill and cream sauce - served with a hunk of warm, farmhouse loaf – and, this type of treat is complimented by a regularly refreshed specials board. There are traditional meals such as gammon or steak and chips – but there is far more on offer here than ‘pub food’. This is a place for real home cooking and the pub owners pride themselves of the quality of the food they serve. Their full English breakfasts are also a testament to this. The portions are generous too so, make sure you pack your appetite along with your walking boots!
We enjoyed a mid-week break in September, taking in local attractions such as Helmsley, Thornton- le-Dale, Scarborough and the Ryedale Folk Museum at Hutton-le-Hole. We were particularly seeking dog-friendly activities as this was our first holiday with our rescue dog, Tilly. We found the Ryedale Folk Museum to be excellent in this regard and it made for a great wet weather destination too as you can pop in and out of each of the cottages and houses, taking you from the Iron Age, through a Victorian Cottage and some fabulous 1940s shops. As professional photographers, we especially enjoyed the exhibition celebrating the life and times of veteran Yorkshire photographer T Geoffrey Willey (who is now 101). There was even his home-made underwater camera housing which is a fascinating exhibit for any modern day underwater photographers to see.
The recently opened Harrison collection is a fabulous new addition to the museum: it’s an incredible collection of English antiques and rare curiosities put together by local brothers Edward and Richard Harrison. Spanning five centuries of history, the collection includes artefacts relating to food preparation, heating, lighting and family life.
At the museum, there’s also an exhibition garden and some farm animals to visit. Some of the craft shops in Hutton-le-Hole also welcomed dogs and there’s a local cafe with a garden, where dogs are welcome too.
Another great attraction for autumn/winter visitors is the North Yorkshire Moors Railway. (Dogs are welcome on all trains (except dining trains) provided they are kept off the seats, tables and not in first class. Dog tickets are £2.50 each and have the same validity as the owner’s ticket.) Whatever the weather, this is a great day out. Wherever you start your journey – Pickering, Whitby or somewhere in between, hopping off at Grosmont is highly recommended: not only can you visit the engine shed but you can also pay a visit to the studio of our favourite local artist Chris Geall, which is handily located in a superb artisan café!
And after all that excitement, you’ll be glad to wend your weary way back to the Moors Inn for a sit by the fire and a glass of something soothing.
Dining at The Moors Inn: http://www.moorsinn.co.uk/dining.php (Advance bookings recommended)
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Tags: Angie Aspinall, Appleton-le-Moors, Aspinall Ink, B&B Yorkshire, Commercial photography, Dog-friendly B&B, dog-friendly places to stay, dog-friendly pub, Food photography, great pub food, holidays in North Yorkshire, Hutton-le-hole, lovely place to stay, Moors inn, North Yorkshire accommodation, North Yorkshire Moors railway, Richard Aspinall, Ryedale folk museum, The Moors Inn, Travel writer, travel writing Yorkshire, Walks in Yorkshire
Categories : UK Accommodation
Guests at Heritage Le Telfair Golf & Spa Resort are simply spoilt for choice for great places to dine. You can rest assured that you can happily eat here every day of your holiday, discovering a whole world of new flavour combinations as you go for this is a food-lover’s paradise.
On our first night, we dined at the Gin’Ja restaurant where we were treated to some of the most colourful and mouth-watering flavour combinations I have ever enjoyed and entertainment too, for we had our own Teppanyaki chef for the evening. Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cooking using an iron griddle for super-fast stir frying.
Before the frying began, we enjoyed some sashimi and sushi with a cocktail at the bar and then we were escorted to the Teppanyaki area. Our chef gave us a range of mouth-watering dishes to choose from and we opted to share a king prawn and scallop main course.
Watching the Teppanyaki chef was like watching an artist at work: he was almost sculpting the food – crafting, chopping and styling as he fried. Dish after colourful dish was presented to us. It was mesmerising. There were flying eggs, four-second prawn-shelling and butterflying and even flashes of fire (with a touch of flambé). It was easy to forget we were in a lively restaurant filled with other people because it felt as though Gin’Ja was there that night, just for us. Our attention was only drawn away from our ‘floor show’ by the applause from a nearby party who were showing their appreciation for the two five foot trays of sushi which had been prepared for them in the specially chilled preparation room.
Our starter featured beef so delicate it almost melted in the mouth and the scallops, although imported, were as mouth-watering and succulent as any I have tasted. The chef was as meticulous in his cooking style as he was with his food presentation. Teppanyaki, it would appear, is an art form for the neat and tidy.
But, don’t think this is where a culinary experience ends at the Telfair, for nothing could be further from the truth! On our first morning, we breakfasted at the nearby Chateau de Bel Ombre. (There is a shuttle to take you the short distance to this nineteenth century chateau.) Here, we dined in opulent surroundings befitting any French colonial retreat, enjoying a basket of freshly made pastries with tasty preserves, followed by Eggs Benedict, whilst soaking up the view of rolling lawns and distant mountains.
Our next culinary delight followed, hot on the heels of the others as we were about to enjoy the ‘Chef on stage’ experience with the delightful Italian chef, Enrico Rodati at Anabella’s restaurant. What a night! If you know any foodies planning their wedding or honeymoon on Mauritius, then receiving this as a wedding present would be a wonderful way to help them to celebrate. Or perhaps you know a lovely couple of non-cooks tying the knot on the island? They would be able to pick up many handy tips and even get ‘hands on’ with the food preparation. Don’t worry, aprons are provided to keep spillages from spoiling elegant evening wear.
As well as being a top class chef, Enrico is also a charming host and a most likeable chap. Being such a foodie, I was in raptures enjoying this experience and I loved watching, tasting, and taking part. My husband, who enjoys good food and occasional cooking said the thing he most enjoyed about the night was watching me so obviously in seventh heaven. It was such an enjoyable way to spend an evening, swapping foodie stories with Enrico, whilst being served fresh pasta spaghetti and making my first ever tortelloni.
Food is a passion which really brings people together; it crosses the same cultural divides as great art and music and means you never run out of things to talk about. Bringing chefs and food-lovers together in this wonderful open plan kitchen is inspired. Not only do you get to see your own dishes being prepared right in front of you, you are also in the heart of the restaurant’s kitchen and can see how the team works together orchestrating the elegant dishes of food for customers.
The kitchen itself is a stunning space, with great mahogany presses, granite work surfaces and a refurbished cast iron range from Manchester. Guests are welcomed into the kitchen to view the night’s selection of meals – as display versions are available to viewed before orders are placed. I think this is a charming idea as it gives diners the opportunity to look at portion size and presentation before decided what to choose.
As well as being the preparation area for evening meals, the kitchen is also where guests can enjoy a fine breakfast selection with everything from fresh fruit salads, cold cuts, pastries and crepes to a full fried breakfast.
But, back to our evening: our dessert was prepared by Narvish, the Patisserie Chef, who showed us how to create the lightest, fluffiest soufflé and to serve it straight from the oven with a scoop of ice cream. Enrico asked him to make an extra dessert so he could join us! My husband now has high hopes of me recreating the dishes when we get home and, do you know what – I just might!
Lunch at the Heritage Golf Club was our next treat. The Club House menu complemented that at Le Palmier (the hotel’s ‘feet in the sand’ daytime eatery with stunning views of the Indian Ocean) with a different range of lunch time treats – and a different, but equally spectacular view. Now, I have never before had the inclination to learn to play golf but I have to say that this course looked the most splendid place to take up the sport.
To experience the finest Mauritian cuisine, an evening at The Chateau de Bel Ombre is a must and there’s a free shuttle service for guests of the Heritage hotels, Le Telfair and Awali. As our car pulls up, the staff are ready to greet us and escort us to our table. We weave through the elegantly laid tables in the restaurant and are shown to our table on the terrace.
There’s a surprise in store for the guests yet to arrive at the next table to ours: their table is decorated with the heads of deep pink bougainvillea flowers – and a card in a golden envelop awaits. It’s a wedding anniversary, I am sure they will remember forever.
Our charming young waiter talks us through our ‘Mauritian night’ menu. We’re having a little of everything as a tasting experience and an initiation into Mauritian cuisine. I’m thankful that we are because it all sounds so tempting, I would struggle to narrow down my preferences to just one choice of main course.
The beautifully presented sharing platter soon arrives with our starters. This is the epitome of fusion food: a European inspired Pheasant Terrine, some Mediterranean-style octopus, then a purely Mauritian dish of pineapple and cucumber and a vegetable which has no English translation.
Oh, so many flavours to savour, accompanied by a truly excellent white wine recommended by the Sommelier. We’re enjoying it so much that we ask for a pause before moving on to our main courses so we can soak up the atmosphere.
I’m not usually a fan of live entertainment whilst dining but here the local musicians who moved from table to table serenading diners did actually add to the ambience. We were invited to make a request but, having no idea of their repertoire, we asked them to choose something for us. We were treated to a sweet rendition of the Eric Clapton classic ‘Wonderful tonight’, which we enjoyed before they moved on to play ‘Congratulations’ to the people on the next table.
When we’re ready, the waiter brings us an array of tiny blue casserole dishes, each containing a taster portion of a different main course. He removed each lid in turn, describing each dish for us. I ask which his favourite is and he tells us it’s the venison, but then he hesitates before saying that the fish vindaloo is also a favourite of his. We tried a little of each of those and then some of the wild boar, which for me, surpassed both of the waiter’s recommendations as a great taste sensation. However, the venison curry is a dish we will try to recreate when we get home for it was truly inspired.
The main courses were accompanied by rice and ‘farata’ (a type of flat bread known to us in the UK as a ‘paratha’), which went well with the spicier dishes. The red bean dish was lovely and mild and it stood out as a fine solo artist in a glittering array of stars, although the finest star was perhaps the sumptuous red wine.
Our dessert was a medley of coconut dishes – a panna cotta, a miniature macaroon, a shot glass of chocolate and coconut and coconut ice cream with a pineapple tuile. Each was a sweet-lovers delight and all complemented one another perfectly.
After dinner, we enjoyed a stroll around the formal garden and admired the chateau, with its colonial architectural style, illuminated from within. This was an enchanted evening and one which will live on in our memories for years to come.
Check out this ‘foodie paradise’ in Mauritius: www.heritageletelfair.mu
Direct flights from Heathrow Airport are available from Air Mauritius: http://www.airmauritius.com/
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Tags: Bel Ombre, Chateau Bel Ombre, Enrico Rodati, Great food Mauritius, Le telfair, Mauritius
Categories : Food blog, Journalism, Travel, Travelogue
On a recent trip to Mauritius, I had the opportunity to indulge in a few days of spa experiences whilst my husband was scuba diving. I thought I would make the most of being a ‘dive widow’ and enjoy some yoga lessons and massages rather than just lounge in the sun reading my Kindle. It’s always good to learn something new on a trip and I was looking forward to learning yoga on this one.
Le Méridien Ile Maurice, in the North West of Mauritius, is an ideal place for couples to stay if one loves to dive and the other loves to ‘spa’. (Whilst the main hotel is family-friendly, we enjoyed the exclusive ‘adults only’ Nirvana wing.) Whilst my husband (who is a professional underwater photographer) was off discovering wrecks and photographing rare Mauritian Clown fish with Jonathan from Easy Dive, I was getting to grips with my ‘Sun Salutation’ and some breathing exercises on the peaceful veranda of the Explore Spa with Dr Shaji.
I had booked some individual yoga lessons but, when it came to the day of my first lesson, I was a little nervous and started to wonder if I might have been better hiding at the back of a class after all. However, I needn’t have worried – I loved it!
The whole point of yoga (apparently) is focusing on the moment: your posture, breathing, feeling to warmth of the sun on your skin so, there is no time to worry if you’re not doing it as well as someone else or if you look a bit hot and bothered as you go through your moves. The individual attention also means you immediately get any corrections you need to the posture to ensure that you are doing it correctly. I found the one-to-one lessons an excellent way to learn techniques to do at home. I swear my posture improved greatly and I felt fantastic just after one session.
As well as learning how to warm up properly and how to do the Sun Salutation, I also learned some breathing techniques. The rapid breathing was really challenging: I never knew you could feel out of breath from breathing but by the end of it, I felt like I’d been on a run. It was an excellent work out and one I have also been able to practise regularly since coming home.
After all that exertion, what better way to reward myself than with a massage at the spa? During our stay at the hotel, I had four different types of massage – three of which I had not seen offered at UK spas so, I was looking forward to some new experiences inside the spa as well as the yoga lessons outside in the sunshine.
A great feature of the spa is the offer of double treatment rooms for couples. We booked one for our first spa experience and both had an Ayurvedic massage, which uses Indian herb oil to enhance circulation. I felt secure in the knowledge that I had completed a full health assessment form prior to my arrival and I noticed that my therapist, Nasseem had taken notice of my individual needs/preferences.
The Ayurvedic massage is all about long, fluid strokes – no knuckles or digging with the thumbs. I really enjoyed the gentle rhythm: it was so relaxing that my husband said he almost fell asleep during his treatment. And, the accompanying head massage was so good, I immediately booked an Indian head massage (also known as Champissage) for another day.
Unlike the Indian head massages I’ve had elsewhere, the one at Explore Spa started with a back massage. Bonus! My neck and shoulders were also thoroughly worked on before Nasseem started working on my head. As well as using pressure points, she also used a traditional technique of ‘flicking/scratching’ with her fingertips (which I assure you, is far more pleasant than it sounds). The rapid on/off action was incredibly powerful in making me feel re-energised after the massage.
My third massage was the most unusual but it was incredible. It was called Kizhi Kizhi, which also known as Pinda Swedam. It uses boluses (cloth bags with a single handle forming a ‘lollipop’ shape) filled with Indian herbs and dipped into warm medicated oil to massage all over the body. Dr Shaji and a female therapist delivered this deep massage which aims to help with long standing injuries (like the whiplash injuries that left me with ongoing back problems). The boluses allow the therapist to add heat and pressure throughout the massage.
After some minor manipulations of the spine, the female therapist massaged the back of my left leg with oil and, as she progressed to the right leg, Dr Saji started to use the boluses on the left leg. The heat and gentle pressure was particularly soothing on the back of my troubled knee and, after all the trekking we’d done earlier in the holiday, it was sorely needed.
After my legs, back and arms had been thoroughly massaged, Dr Saji retired from the room leaving me to have a gentle head massage. This massage followed a particularly strenuous yoga session and, afterwards, I was almost an inch taller and measurably happier.
My final massage was with Nasseem and I followed her recommendation and had a Balinese massage. This featured some of the long strokes of the Ayuvedic massage but it also involved some thumb and palm work and skin rolling. Like the other full body massages at the Explore Spa, this one also finished with an amazing head massage. My worry now is that I may have been spoilt for all other spa experiences!
I did ask Nasseem if I could take her home with me as I’m sure that one of these massages once a week would ensure my health and well-being – but she had a better idea: “Perhaps you could move to Mauritius.” Now, there’s an idea!
Thank you to Dr Saji, Naseem and the rest of the team at the Explore Spa by Méridien, where not only can you learn yoga and have world class massages, but you can also enjoy a hydrotherapy centre and a fully equipped gym. Thanks also to Jonathan at Easy Dive for distracting my husband while I enjoyed the spa.
For more information about the hotel Le Méridien Ile Maurice, please visit: http://www.lemeridien-mauritius.com/
Information about the Explore Spa: http://www.lemeridien-mauritius.com/en/spa
Information on diving at Le Méridien Ile Maurice: http://www.lemeridien-mauritius.com/en/diving
We flew to Mauritius direct from Heathrow with Air Mauritius: http://www.airmauritius.com/
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Tags: Le Meridien Ile Maurice, Mauritius, spa Mauritius, Starwood hotel, Starwood preferred list
Categories : Journalism, Travel, Travelogue
Please note that the official #Yorkshirehour Twitter account – managed by co-founder, Helen Massey, is @Yorkshire_Hour (and not @Yorkshirehour, which is an account which has nothing to do with us – or Yorkshirehour).
In it’s new location, we are able to host guest blogs about the #Yorkshirehour experience. You can find out more here.
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Tags: @Yorkshire_hour, YorkshireHour, Yorkshirehour official account, Yorshirehour imposter
Categories : #YorkshireHour
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Tags: Angie Aspinall, what is Yorkshirehour, Yorkshire, YorkshireHour, Yorkshirehour trending
Categories : #YorkshireHour
So, what is #Yorkshirehour that you’ve seen splashed all over Twitter tonight? Well, my friend Helen and I started it 17 weeks ago with the aim of providing Yorkshire businesses one hour a week to promote themselves and to do business to business networking. It has been a phenomenal success which has exceeded our expectations!
#Yorkshirehour is open for business – Wednesdays 8-9pm
A virtual place – but a real time – to promote your Yorkshire business
A few months ago, my Twitter friend, Helen Massey and I were both active on Twitter during ‘#scotlandhour‘ and she tweeted, “If there’s a #scotlandhour can we have a #yorkshirehour too?” From my Aspinall_Ink account, I said, “Of course.” And so, Helen and I chatted about it – and then named a day and an hour – and so #yorkshirehour was born.
How does it work?
When it gets to 8pm on Wednesday, start tweeting about your Yorkshire business and add our hashtag, #Yorkshirehour.
You need to hop onto the search box on Twitter and search #Yorkshirehour to see what other Yorkshire folk are promoting. Then, ‘follow’ and say ‘hi’ to any you think might be relevant to your business (or look like interesting tweeters).
Don’t forget to then check your account for new followers and say thanks – and see if you want to follow them back. This isn’t about everyone following everyone else so, no ”Follow me – I follow back” tweets please. We’re talking ‘quality’ not ‘quantity’: will the new followers help your business in someway?
You’ll be amazed how many new followers you’ll get and business contacts you can make in an hour – and all from the comfort of your own home. So, please start retweeting links to this blog post like crazy and join us on Wednesdays if you can.
We hope you’ll join us. If you’ve found #Yorkshirehour has helped your business in any way, please post a comment on here, our new blog - or on our Linked in Group’s page.
Please visit the new home of #Yorkshirehour (which we’ve integrated into our new website)
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Tags: Number one twitter trend, what is Yorkshirehour, YorkshireHour, Yorkshirehour trending on Twitter
Categories : #YorkshireHour