Saturday, 18 January 2014

Yorkshire: Betty's Cafe and Tea Rooms

When I was little, we had a tradition of going to Betty's. We used to go fairly often - it was the default spot for birthday celebrations. I think it's where my love of afternoon tea comes from.

I have fond memories of their beautiful tearooms, trimmed with shelves of tea pots and with the gentle soundtrack of a pianist, who appeared in their Ilkley tearooms on a Sunday. There was the time that, after they started trimming the crusts off sandwiches, my mum sent them back because "there was half missing now". There was the afternoon tea when the pianist played "happy birthday" to me and the waitress sang. There were Yorkshire Curd tarts, toasted tea cakes and Rosti's. There were our favourites, the usuals, the Welsh Rarebits and Vanilla slices, and the fruit tarts with confectioners custards. 

For years, we went on Christmas Eve to the Ilkley tea room. It was somewhat of a ritual - a country drive over, a treat to eat, and a drive back home in the early evening, admiring the lights on trees and festive decorations. 

2013 was the first year in quite a few that I've spent Christmas in Yorkshire. Although my parents have both moved away from the area I grew up in, it was so lovely to be back. Staying near York meant that a trip to Betty's on Christmas was a necessity...
Betty's, Stonegate, York
Seasonal menu, with Christmas specials
It's the little things that make it special - the silver tea set, the automatic hot water, and the drip absorbers on the saucers!
China teacups
My favourite: Welsh rarebit, with bacon and chutneys. 
Mr F had a chicken, bacon and gruyere rosti
Lamps, complete with mice. Betty's cafes have these beautiful wooden carvings by the Yorkshire Mouseman
The beautiful shop
Gift packages of tea and coffee
Beautiful wooden drawers
Christmas gifts on display
Cakes to take home
Treats for later
Adorable seasonal specials
My supper - a vanilla sponge with buttercream and soft marzipan decoration
Mr F's cherry and chocolate treat

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Forward Planning for 2014

The view of the Hogmanay fireworks from my living room. 
It's not the end of the festive season yet. I have the luxury of not having to go to work until 8.15 tomorrow morning, which means that it is still the "holidays". Sort of. I've had a fortnight off, which has been utterly lovely, but incredibly busy. The first week was spent in Yorkshire, seeing family and friends, and "doing" Christmas. The second week has been mostly spent in Edinburgh, and it's gone way too quickly. In a good way - full of friends and cake - but I am feeling a bit overwhelmed about the list of tasks which I've not got around to doing. I always have grand plans for productivity for holidays, which always fall by the wayside.

I've spent the first few days of 2014 doing a bit of forward planning. I find list writing therapeutic, which is probably how I am now addicted to Pinterest. How did I not discover it before? I've decided against resolutions for 2014, and instead have decided to adopt a word, after seeing a few people discussing it on twitter. I like it. It's a lot more positive.
I will grow fruit and vegetables. Last year I took my first step onto the property ladder. Although I am on the top floor, my flat does have shared access to a garden. It's not received any love for a couple of years, so I have decided to take over part of it and attempt a vegetable plot. I am excited, but also have no idea how or where to start. 

I will grow fitter and stronger. I will continue walking home from work, and try harder to allow time to walk there too. I will swim more regularly, because it is relaxing as well as strengthening. I would like to get strong enough to move into the advanced Pilates class.

I will grow my recipe repertoire. I tend to cook the same things on a rotational basis for weekday dinners, so I will try some new ideas and think outside the box a little more.

I will grow my skills. I will practice my photography and learn how to use editing software. I will remind myself how to sew. I will crochet, because it is both relaxing and satisfying. I will write more, because I enjoy it, and because you don't get better at something unless you practice.