29.05

CiderwithRosie-The-Prosecco-Diaries-4

I’ll be honest with you, it was pretty hard to whittle the amount of questions I had to ask Sarah, the blogger behind The Prosecco Diaries, down to just eight. She’s a fountain of knowledge- on everything from blogging and journalism, to the finest skincare and where’s best to get a great glass of fizz in London! I just wanted to pick her brains about everything, okay!? ;) I’ve followed Sarah online for a long while now, and can’t tell you what a treat it’s been to dedicate time this month to getting to know The Prosecco Diaries better. I just adore her authorial voice, and how each post on TPD seems so well researched and carefully put together. And I’m so excited to be introducing Sarah and her lovely blog here today! Enough from me- let’s get to this interview already!

1. Tell us a little about how you’ve come to be an events organiser and blogger in London! Has your background studying theatre influenced and enhanced your career? And what does an average day look like for you?

‘I always wanted to be a magazine journalist and did my school work experience at Mizz Magazine (remember that?), but I don’t know why I didn’t pursue it. I ended up studying theatre at uni, and training to be a drama teacher. There was a lot I loved about teaching, especially directing school plays, but there’s also a lot to be unhappy about when you’re not in your dream job. I started my blog because I just needed somewhere to write, and I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I started creating magazine-style content: interviews, reviews, recommendations, etc. As my blog started to take off I spent more and more time on it, and started working with brands to do blogger outreach and organise events. Teaching is not the kind of job you can switch off from in the evenings and weekends; there’s always some paperwork or marking to do. So, I had to make a decision – do less blogging or blog full time. It was a scary decision to make, but made easier by the fact I was working in a really horrible school at the time! The first thing I did when I left was write a column about quitting for Teaching Drama Magazine, and I rejoiced in finally being a published writer! I have since done lots of freelance work on the side of my blog: events, social media consultancy, writing, and blogger outreach. I also set up Bloggeration with a fellow blogger, and we run workshops and events for bloggers. This month I’m speaking at the Web We Want Festival at the Southbank Centre on monetising your blog, and I’m also chairing a panel of bloggers and YouTubers.’

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‘An average day for me starts with getting up between 7am and 8am and walking the ten steps from my bedroom to the lounge where I work from. When I went freelance I made the mistake of working very late hours and sleeping late, getting into student sleeping patterns! But this made being wide awake for morning meetings or events difficult, so now I make myself get up early, even if I’ve been out late at an event the night before. I start with checking emails and promoting my latest post on social media (they go live at 6am most mornings). I then go to the gym or do a workout DVD at home, do some housework or laundry, and then get ready to go out if I have meetings with brands or PRs, or if I’m meeting a fellow blogger for lunch. If I’m working from home all day I make sure I get an afternoon walk in, or take some time to have a break. I watch loads of YouTube vlogs and read blogs, and I might also watch a cheeky episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race…. I’m out several nights a week for blog events, or I might be reviewing a restaurant or going to a film premiere. Weekends are my quiet evenings to stay in and relax, or catch up with non-blogging friends, but I still work on weekends in the day time – when you’re freelance there’s always something that needs doing.’

2. What three words would you use to describe The Prosecco Diaries?

‘Informative, entertaining, prosecco-fuelled.’

3. Do you have a favourite subject to cover on TPD? I personally am hooked on your reviews of London restaurants and hotspots, they’re just so great!

‘When I started my blog it was mostly about things to do in London – hence my tagline “exploring London’s creative side”, and I interviewed several creative types. It’s evolved to include beauty reviews, and a health section to document my struggles with weight loss and acne scarring. I also have the “and another thing” section which is open for any kinds of opinions, tips, and rants. I enjoy all the sections, which probably goes back to my love of magazines – I like a bit of everything to read. It is pretty great to get invited to exciting places in London and be able to tell my readers about them.’

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4. What advice would you give to anyone juggling multiple projects- i.e.writing a blog alongside a full-time job? Any top tips for efficiency and productivity?

‘I’d say an editorial calendar is essential. Most bloggers like to be spontaneous with their posts, and write about what’s inspiring them that week. But if you plan a month ahead (or even three months) you can also have lots of general posts ready to go so you don’t have to scrabble about and get stressed when work or your social life are busy. There are loads of editorial calendar templates online, and one tip is to look for national days and holidays, such as national cat day, halloween, international women’s day, etc – put those in your editorial calendar and write something connected to them. This will give you some easy, shareable content ready to go on those dates. When I worked full time I would also try and cut corners by making one blogger event into two posts. For example, I’d blog about the actual event, and then do another post about the beauty products in the goody bag. Or if I went to review a museum, I’d take some street-style photos outside and write a second post.’

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5. What three things would you tell someone visiting London for the very first time to go and do? :)

‘If you’re brand new to London you’re going to need to see a view of this beautiful city! Forget the London Eye, it’s expensive and you’ll waste half a day queuing. Go to the Sky Garden on Fenchurch Street, it’s free but you need to book ahead online. There’s a 360 degree view of London, plus yummy pastries to eat! I also recommend the Ghost Bus Tour to people, it’s so silly but it’s also such a laugh! You travel round London at night on a black double decker bus, and hilarious actors perform whilst also showing you the sights. It’s the perfect way to combine theatre and a London tour – I’ve been on it twice! If you only have time for one West End show see War Horse, it will break your heart and amaze you with how powerful theatre can be.’

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6. You feature so many amazing beauty products on your blog! Best thing you’ve tried during the past month?

‘I’m loving the Sunday Riley range at the moment! It’s pricey, but the hype for these products is justified! It’s an American brand and all-natural, so everything smells a bit iffy. But stripped of perfumes and artificial nasties you get powerful oils and creams that nourish your skin and leave it glowing. The Artemis oil has given my skin a new lease of life!’

7. Okay, I can’t not ask- what’s your very favourite Prosecco? Any you’d recommend to a relative Prosecco-drinking newbie like myself?

‘I like my prosecco dry! I don’t know why some people think it’s a sweet drink. I’m no expert though, this was proved when I was recently asked to go on BBC radio and talk about the international prosecco shortage. Haaa! I had no idea what I was rambling about! I called my blog The Prosecco Diaries because it’s my favourite drink and it’s what everyone who knew me associated me with. One of the world’s biggest bloggers warned me against the name as she thought it sounded like a blog about wine, but I’ve mostly had people saying they love the name. I think it does confuse wine merchants a bit at first, but then they still offer me free prosecco anyway, which is a perk I never expected but have welcomed with open arms! The best one I’ve ever tried (so far) is by Italian chef, Enrica Rocca. It’s only available to buy online in cases of six at the moment, but it’s so amazing, I’d say push the boat out if you’re having a special occasion!’

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8. And finally, it’s our old favourite Desert Island Discs! If you were stranded on a desert island, what would you bring along for the ride? You can bring two albums/CDs, two books, two films, ingredients to make a meal, and one luxury item! 

‘This is tough as I’m a music and film fiend! Albums would have to be the greatest hits of Blondie and David Bowie. Though, if I could cheat I’d take two massive CDs of playlists I’d made heh heh. My music tastes are eclectic – I can never put my iPod on at parties because one minute it’s a cool song, next it’s a track from a musical or some embarrassing early nineties pop that kills the mood. I’d need to cheer myself up so I’d take Your Highness or This Is The End as a silly film to watch, and I’m also obsessed with Christmas films so I’d watch Home Alone to fit in with the vibe of being stranded and alone. A book I always recommend to people, and one I’d happily read again is Wedlock by Wendy Moore. It’s a biography of a young, rich heiress in the 1700s who is tricked into marrying a vicious brute of a man, who goes about trying to destroy her and keep her money. It’s a true story, and it will blow your mind at how she fought back at a time in history when women had practically zero rights. It’s so well written and researched, and Moore makes a lot of parallels with modern laws and rights for women. Again you’ll be shocked at how little things have changed: it was totally legal in the UK for a man to rape his wife up until 1990!! I love biographies, and another brilliantly written one is Peter Cook: A Biography by Harry Thompson. I’m such a fan of Peter Cook, and this book tells us about his fascinating life whilst also pretty much telling the story of television comedy in the UK.

My luxury item would be that Sunday Riley skincare range – though I should be sensible and take some SPF70 sun protection – I’m next-level pale. Food would be a dish I’ve made for most people in my life at one time or another, I got it from a 1980′s Jane Fonda healthy cook-book. You use a stock cube to make stock in a jug, add peanut butter and mix it into a creamy peanut sauce, then pour it over cooked pasta. Thanks, Jane – it’s delicious!’

 ** Thanks to the lovely Sarah for her incredible answers! You can find The Prosecco Diaries here, and don’t forget to follow along with all Sarah’s posts via Bloglovin‘! **

p.s. If you’d like to see your own blog featured here on Cider with Rosie, click through to the Sponsor page and book up an advert!

 

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28.05

Cider-with-Rosie-Yorkshire

After breakfast, came exploration and adventure.

And when I say adventure, I mean a gentle walk through the countryside, followed by an afternoon of eating and drinking. But we were in a new place, so that’s an adventure in itself, right? Right?

Although our tent was so snug and charming I could happily have settled in for the long haul there with my book (Girl on the Train- finally getting into it, two thirds of the way through!) and endless rounds of coffee, we were determined to see as much of Yorkshire as we could in the few short days we had there. So, after testing out the shower with, I’ll be honest, a little trepidation (we couldn’t bring ourselves to believe that a tent could *possibly* have an instant hot water supply, and were proved quite happily wrong!), Jason and I layered on enough clothes for every possible weather outcome, and headed out into the countryside.

On our agenda for the day was a visit to a village called Harome, where we’d been told we’d find a pub called ‘The Star Inn’ serving some of the best pub lunches to be had for miles around. But first, since we’d maybe eaten one too many slices of toast at breakfast, a walk to work up an appetite!

What I wore :: White T shirt  || Check shirt (past season, similar) || Jeans || Boots.

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We wandered through the village in search of a likely looking footpath to set out on, and stopped to admire a sweet gated farmyard that had the flounciest peacocks you’ve ever seen strutting around inside it. In fact, the one in this photo was doing his ‘look how snazzy my feathers are’ dance for the peahen just behind it! The owner of the farm came out and told us that he’s the oldest of all the birds she has, and that the hens mostly ignore his showing off. Clever ladies ;)

The walk we took didn’t last all that long (it felt SO strange to walk without a dog running along up ahead of us!), but we managed to catch the worst luck, and by the time we got back to the Star Inn we found out they’d stopped serving lunch only 15 minutes beforehand. ‘No matter!’ we said, and hopped back into the car and headed to the nearby village of Helmsley (singular, not plural ;) instead!

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^^ Sometimes, a little cheesy self-timer action is just totally necessary, right? ^^

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Helmsley was as chocolate-box a village as you could dream of finding, but I captured it all via video instead of photographs! You’ll have to stay tuned for the video if you want to see the giant fruit scones with jam and cream we ate for afternoon tea, and the adorable greengrocers on the corner of the village square where we purchased our dinner (so totally charming!), and all the sweet grey-stoned cottages we made heart-eyes at as we walked past…

I’ll tell you though, that scone is up there amongst the best I’ve ever eaten. Maybe it was that we’d been pottering around the countryside for a good few hours and so were ravenous by the time we sat down to eat, or maybe it was that scones are just better when served alongside a cup of good old fashioned Yorkshire tea- I don’t know. But it really was a special one.

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And so, to home. We’d picked up a handful of things to cook on the barbecue that evening, and set to work making up new potato and red pepper skewers dressed with oregano, cooking ribs, and also cracked open the bottle of champagne we’d brought with us as a Bank Holiday weekend treat!

It was pretty blissful, that evening. Sipping icey champagne from our favourite little tin mugs (brought with us from home, because we couldn’t pass up the oppurtunity to use them in their natural camping habitat ;), eating a dinner straight from the grill followed by several rounds of cheese and biscuits, and then toasting up marshmallows over the remainder of the heat from the barbecue.

In between the rush of planning our wedding (we’re ticking off the final tasks now, which is crazy exciting!), each of us getting ready to take the best part of a month out of our normal working routines, and all of the other occurrences and tasks and jobs that make life eventful and exciting and busy, I feel as though we hadn’t had chance to really connect in a while. To devote time to just talking, and to catching up with each other and where we’re both at right now, and not getting distracted by things like phones and Netflix and Twitter. It’s amazing how easy it is to become wrapped up in the bubble of ‘self’, and to forget about the importance of quality time spent with the people who matter most.

We talked about it a little whilst we were away, and decided to try and spend less time ‘rushing’, and more time concentrating. On whatever task is at hand, on work, on relaxation- on each other.

And on that note, we clinked tin mugs, and toasted to another happy evening spent in front of a roaring fire in a little tent on the edge of a forest.

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Posted in COUNTRY WALKS, COUNTRYSIDE LIFE, JASON, LOVE, TRAVEL, WEEKEND BREAK

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27.05

CiderwithRosie-advertising

 

How on earth are we at the end of May already, can someone tell me that? It’s crept up on me, and I’m not ready! It felt so lovely to sit down and take stock of all the beautiful blogs and bloggers that’ve been hanging out in my sidebar throughout this crazy speedster of a month- there are such truly lovely ones there! Do click through and have a browse of them each in turn- and don’t forget to leave a little comment too, since everyone knows comments are the loveliest!

The Prosecco Diaries
I’ve followed Sarah via Twitter for goodness knows how long know, and have so enjoyed taking time to get to know her lovely blog better over the past few weeks! For starters, you should know that The Prosecco Diaries has what is possibly the best ‘About’ page I’ve ever seen on a blog. It’s hand-drawn, and features a visual round up of all things ‘Sarah’- it’s the bomb! Sarah’s posts cover a whole range of topics- from features on what’s hot in London, beauty product reviews, top tips about where to get great vegetarian food, and oh so much more besides. I love love love Sarah’s writing (there’s something about her ‘voice’ I just find so engaging!), and with such a wonderfully broad range of posts, there’s something for just about everyone on The Prosecco Diaries!
Favourite post of the past month? Sky Garden.

Quintessentially Me
Quintessentially Me is quickly becoming one of my most frequent reads. Ashleigh’s posts are just always so beautifully put together, so snippy and fun to read, I find myself getting lost in the archives every time I click through to her blog! This month, Ashleigh’s shared a round up of her top five places to get coffee in London (a girl after my own heart!), written all about her recurring dreams (so fascinating!), and shared her plans for an island-hopping trip to Greece. I love that Ashleigh writes about a wide range of topics, and has mastered the art of making her blog feel both personal and inviting. You’ll love it, I know!
Favourite post of the past month? My top 5 coffee places in London. 

The What Now Blog
I’ve been an avid reader of Louise’s blog for such a long time now, and this month has been no exception! The What Now Blog centres around all things work and lifestyle, and is full of such feel-good posts you’ll be hard pressed not to leave it with a smile on your face! This month, Louise has been sharing more ‘lifestyle’-kinda posts, and I’ve just loved reading them. She’s eaten a sublime looking fish dinner at Selfridges new rooftop restaurant, attended a chocolate making workshop day, and shared a recipe for a kale, walnut and apple salad! I never fail to feel inspired by Louise’s lovely posts, and can’t recommend you add The What Now Blog to your reading list highly enough.
Favourite post of the past month? Chocolate Making at Home with Mitsie’s Kitchen.

SilverSpoon London
Oh, I have a total life-crush on Angie! Her blog documents the most fabulous experiences- holidays, meals out, adventures- I always finish reading it feeling impatient for a little ‘fab’ in my own life! This month, Angie’s finished up sharing posts from her travels in South Africa with a review of the ‘best hotel she’s ever stayed in’ (and oh my does it look amazing!), shared her thoughts on the Ivy’s new garden restaurant in Chelsea, and put together a round up of the best luxury spots in London. For anyone looking for tips on where to head next for a treat day out in London, or to research beautiful hotels and travel experiences worldwide, Silverspoon London is without doubt the place to go!
Favourite post of the past month? My Top Ten Luxury London Loves.

A Little Lusciousness
Oh, Rosie’s blog is a delight! It’s become a favourite read of mine over the past few months, though I’ll warn you now that visiting A Little Lusciousness will have you running to the kitchen in search of something tasty! Rosie blogs about food- sharing everything from restaurant and cookbook reviews, to original recipes and news of her upcoming supper club events! This month, Rosie’s shared her thoughts on the whiskey cocktails at Bull in a China Shop, posted a recipe for salted caramel cheesecake (divine!), and made SmokeHouse in Chiswick jump straight to the top of my ‘to visit’ list! I can’t think of a finer blog to recommend to fellow foodies!
Favourite post of the past month? Salted caramel vanilla cheesecake recipe.

Brooke Meagan Jones
Brooke Meagan Jones is the most gorgeous, and totally unique blog I’ve come across in a long time. Brooke lives in Canada with her boyfriend, and shares their adventures via her blog. It’s Brooke’s writing that I find so captivating- each post is personal and inviting, friendly and warm, and funny to the very last word. This month, Brooke’s shared posts about the habits all couples find themselves in at the start of a relationship (it made me laugh so much!), about her many and varied allergies, and shared a list of all the things she’s never grown out of. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy reading each and every one of her posts- you’ll just have to click through and see for yourself!
Favourite post of the past month? 5 Couple Habits We Stopped Doing.

Jasmin Charlotte
Jasmin is, as she describes it, an ‘English Kiwi’ hybrid, and now lives in London with her boyfriend Paul. Her blog, Jasmin Charlotte, is lifestyle-focused, documenting both Jasmin’s day to day goings on, and her travels and adventures. It’s exactly the kind of sweet and unassuming blog I find myself being drawn back to time and time again- it just appeals to my nosy nature, I guess! Jasmin’s posts range from life updates and restaurant reviews (her review of Sketch had me hankering for an afternoon tea!), to advice posts and happy lists. There’s a little something to suit everyone, and I love honest and charming Jasmin’s ‘voice’ is. One to start reading right away!
Favourite post of the past month? Sketch London Afternoon Tea.

Two Little Pigs
Lydia and Rosie have popped up via my social media accounts a few times over the past few months, so I already felt like I knew them by the time I got to reading their lovely blog! They’re just about the sweetest girls you could imagine- full of warmth and happiness, they’re the type of people you want to chat with online, I can tell you! Rosie and Lydia upped sticks and moved from the UK to Australia two years ago, and share their adventures via their blog. I absolutely adore their chit-chatty way of writing- each posts reads like the sort of conversations my best friend and I have over the phone every couple of weeks or so! I can’t recommend Two Little Pigs enough- you’ll love it!
Favourite post of the past month? The Journey to Australia and Beyond. 

Anna in Wonderland
Anna is originally from the US but now lives just north of London with her boyfriend Luke and dog, Eugene! She’s an author (a real life printed author!), and her blog is a diary of all the things that make her tick- from health posts and book reviews (and since Anna’s an author herself, I always sit up and pay attention to her book recommendations!), to posts about beauty products and fitness. It’s Anna’s travel posts I love the most- she runs a series in which she interviews someone who’s moved abroad or travelled extensively, and it really is the most fascinating read! If you’re fond of travel-centred lifestyle blogs, you’ll just love it!
Favourite post of the past month? Travel Tuesdays- The Five Types of (Obnoxious) Expats You’ll Meet

Lisette Loves
Lisette Loves has been up there on my daily reading list for the longest time now. In fact, I can’t even remember when I began reading it, it’s so long ago! Lisette Loves is the most beautiful blog- everything that Lisette does, whether it’s styling, photography, or writing, is just plain gorgeous! This month she’s shared details of where to find the perfect oversized shirts (you’ll never guess the secret!), continued on with a new series about skincare (the photos are just beautiful!), and made a giant cinnamon roll so perfect you’ll thank me for linking it below. It’s an all out babe of a blog- and one I’m so very happy to recommend :)
Favourite post of the past month? Giant skillet cinnamon roll. 

Loved by Laura
It’s been another lovely month following along with Laura’s blog! She writes such lovely posts, about beauty products, and the tastiest food London has to offer, and blogger events, and happy things! As is the way with lifestyle blogs, Laura’s posts are wonderfully varied and eclectic, which is exactly what makes them so fun to read! This month, Laura headed to a chocolate-making workshop (a day of playing with truffles, what could be better!), put together a set of top practical tips for bloggers, and shared photos from a day at Urban Food Fest that made my stomach quite literally rumble! Laura is just the sweetest and her blog is so lovely to read that I can’t think why you’d not add it to your reading list on the double!
Favourite post of the past month? The Urban Food Fest and Dirty Martini. 

A few more blogs to read + fall in love with ::
Get the Skinny || Favourite post? Scandinavian Rye. 
As Told By || Favourite post? Smorgasburg | Things To Do. 
Super Naturally Healthy || Favourite post? Salted almond fudge. 
Lily Magazine || Favourite post? Heirloom recipes. 
Michael 84 || Favourite post? Summer Essentials with Lyst.
Living for the Now || Favourite post? A Day Trip to Monaco.
Courtney Says What || Favourite post? 7 Must Have Travel Accessories

If you’d like to see your blog featured here on Cider with Rosie, head over to the Sponsor page and take up an advert! It’d be a pleasure to get to know you and your blog better :)

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26.05

Cider-with-Rosie-adventures-in-yorkshire-breakfasting-outside

 

The drive north, from Surrey to Yorkshire, took well over six hours. Two and a half hours longer than we’d expected, thanks to the mass Bank Holiday exodus we’d forgotten entirely would be happening this weekend when we planned our trip away. In those six plus hours, we between us worked our way through far too many jelly sweets, a couple of coffees (thank you service stations), popcorn by the messy handful, and a few rounds of ‘would you rather’. The landscape got greener and greener as we drove, the skies got wider, and eventually we turned down a tiny country lane marked with a tinier sign that said, simply, ‘JollyDays’. We even had to stop to let some hares pass as we drove down the lane, and realised there and then that the trip was set to be a magical one.

Our first night under canvas was lovelier even than we’d anticipated. The wood burning stove kept the tent toasty throughout the evening, and the charm of whistling stovetop kettles and reading by candlelight and being totally screen-free was a novelty to us both. We woke early the following morning, to soft bright light pouring in through the white canvas tent walls. Jason stoked the fire and set about lighting the barbecue outside, and I got to work on the coffee.

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We’d arrived the previous day to a kitchen (a kitchen, in a tent! Complete with gas hob, a teeny tiny Welsh dresser, and hot running water!) stocked full of breakfast ingredients, all wrapped up in the sweetest (and most Instagrammable!) brown paper bags. The menu included a couple of eggs, sausages, a couple of rashers of bacon, tomatoes and a handful of mushrooms, not to mention the loaf of perfectly crusty bread and little pat of butter. In true man-make-fire style Jason took charge of all the cooking this weekend, and lived up to his reputation within our family as Barbecue King. It left me free to tinker about taking photos of milk swirling through black coffee and listening to the bird song and watching the deer bound through the fields out back from our tent, which, it turns out, is my very favourite way to spend a morning in the forest.

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We settled down to eat at the little picnic table right outside our tent (just next to the barbecue, and under the cover of an awning), slicing and toasting bread right on the grill until our supply of butter ran out, and making endless pots of fresh coffee. I’m not sure if it was the smoke from the charcoal, the flavour imparted by a well-seasoned grill, or just the novelty of cooking and eating our breakfast in a little clearing of birch trees outside our tent, but it was easily the tastiest breakfast I’ve had in a long time.

And since I haven’t stopped daydreaming about the experience since, I think I’ve caught the camping (or rather, ‘glamping’) bug…

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More from our adventures in Yorkshire to come…

* Thanks to JollyDays for having us to stay in one of their beautiful tents. A total dream weekend!

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Posted in BREAKFAST, COUNTRYSIDE LIFE, DAY TRIPS, TRAVEL, WEEKEND BREAK

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