Tearooms, Picnics and Castles

Our week-end is almost finished - booooo! Aren't June weekends marvellous? Perfect picnic weather! But before we get to our lazy picnic above we had a regular Daddy free Saturday - which started in one of our favourite tea rooms. BTW - typo disclaimer - I am watching Poldark as I type this up!

I loved our one on one time but also figured it would give the little man a boost so he would be a better helper with the shopping haha! The weather wasn't super warm so we opted for some quite autumnal fare!

This boy knows his way around a menu. He loves his tea cakes with lashings of real butter and jam. I love it when the butter is literally dripping off down my face.

It was even hot chocolate weather for Cappy - he has dairy but doesn't drink cow's milk, so this was a delicious dairy free one (I am sure you can't taste the difference). Mine was a flat white with soya.

I love the look of concentration on his face as his butters his tea cake:

One of my favourite things in this tea room is the cake display case. I love it when you come in of a morning and it has steamed up with the just baked scones:

Following our elevenses we split so C can buy a book and then we do the rest of the grocery shopping together, both with rucksacks as the veg, cans, bottles etc can get so heavy - he is becoming quite the effective little Sherpa:

We didn't buy anything exciting today but I always take pleasure in having for lunch the freshly baked sourdough (levain natural - no yeast) that we pick up from the Tea Room:

After lunch I took Humphrey to the beach and he got really wet and sandy - I aimed to brush the sand out on the front step but Humph took the initiative to jump on the outside window sill, which made it a lot easier. No waggy tail though and a jealous Timothy on the other side of the glass.

A couple of friends (I only have a handful, ha!) and my Mum were busy today (my Mum is always busy with some sort of charity event), so I cleaned most of the afternoon. It was much needed. Can you believe that all of this sand and hair is from less than 24 hours, in ONE ROOM - yes this is my life - constantly cleaning up after the pets. When we decorated and moved the furniture sand tipped out from the base of the sofas. Yes, gross and not a nice photo but I figured you should be able to truly empathise with my plight now haha!

Caspar and I briefly stepped out to this event at the village hall:

I haven't rushed out to buy new homewares but rather like to 'clear the decks' of old items and move things around the house first to see if I can make use of what I already have, like some pink hydrangeas from the garden and this vintage coffee pot ( I love the colour of the pot):

I also moved some furniture around:

And tried out moving some of the old yellows and blues from the front room into the conservatory:

A random issue from this week-end has been problems with Humphrey.  He has been a bit of a bugger recently (excuse my French). If any of you reading have tips on how to overcome his behaviour please let me know. Since he was a very little puppy he has been very 'mouthy', which I am aware can be a feature of a gundog, and he ripped clothing, nearly my knee caps off and so on. As he's got older he doesn't hang off your clothing and body parts with little razor teeth, but growls, mouths and faintly bites all over you when he gets too excited. The problem is anything makes him excited - he wants to play or go out for a walk, or a visitor arrives. He is getting worse and more growly. He is the same when trying to get him off the sofa at night for bed but I can usually incentivise him with some ham. Unfortunately it means we can't play with a ball with him in the garden as he incessantly and loudly barks and then 'mouths' every time you go into the garden. Tips anyone? It is really trying out patience! He is only eighteen months and a puppy but we really need to nip this in the bud! Here he is, complete with evil eyes ha!

When we got the room painted this week it really didn't look right with all the 'dog throws' on the sofas so we took them off. This was a mistake - within hours they had black paw prints on them. This is the reality of having an 'outdoorsy' dog. We love him to bits of course, but I have to be real here - the pets sometimes drive me nuts. It is a never ending cycle of walking, feeding, cleaning, stopping the cats scratching, emptying trays, brushing them all, wiping the cats' eyes (otherwise their eye goo gets up the walls and everywhere), entertaining the dog when he's going mental, washing throws and vacuuming. It got to the point on Saturday afternoon where all I wanted was to sit in a peaceful and clean house, not be picking up pet hair or telling one of them off. It started to make me wonder if I was cut out for a second child, or had the time and headspace for it, when all I crave a lot of the time is thinking time and peace! That probably sounds really grumpy. Anyway, I cleaned until about 9pm and then felt better. I am definitely the type of person who can't fully relax and feel at peace when the house is a mess. While cleaning I watched bits of the football and messaged back and forth with Britt, who was supporting Germany. I've had great German (some best friends) and Swedish friends (Caspar's Godmother is half Swedish, half Danish), a Swedish boyfriend at one point and worked for Swedish Enterprise in Brussels - so really I was routing for Sweden. Of course I love Germany but you will never find an English person supporting Germany in the world cup haha! I also started packing up the main food hamper plus the little one just for the glassware:

I just can't drink out of plastic or polystyrene. Although I didn't go so far as to pack the crystal  - will leave that for a special occasion! This may sound silly but almost everything I own has a backstory - even this gingham embroidered tea towel - the abovementioned Swedish friend Margareta brought it here last time she visited.

We set off this morning to Muncaster Castle with our picnic and the sky was spectacularly blue:

Caspar played his part when we got there carrying not a picnic blanket but an actual rug, which worked rather well!

We picked a spot in the grounds called 'the terrace', created in the 1700s and planted with elm trees and box topiary, which creates a micro-climate for Mediterranean flowers. The view was glorious:

We picked the perfect shady tree to sit underneath:

First job was to pop this delicious, chilled Raspberry and Lemon French Soda from Marks and Spencer. I don't usually soft drinks other than juice and water but this was lovely:

There wasn't anything grand about this picnic - just some simple bits and bobs - rare beef and roast ham sandwiches, a pork pie and scotch eggs for the boys, crisps and a tart. I had to bring real cutlery and napkins of course!

Bottoms up!

The silver came, and a wedgewood cake slice - vital for this Bakewell Tart (sweet pastry, Morello cherry jam, almond frangipane and topped with flaked almonds, yummo!):

Sustenance needs met, the boys took the picnic baskets back to the car and we strolled around the castle grounds and inside (no photos allowed). The same family have lived here since just after the Norman invasion in the 1000s.

I just love a big door! The family certainly choose a great position for the castle - the view is spectacular. Apparently prior to this there was a Roman Fort on the same site, which makes sense when you see the outlook:

When I say the house is packed with incredible furniture, tapestries, books and art from the Elizabethan period onwards I am not exaggerating. There was the most incredible Elizabethan fireplace. I could have sat in the library all day.

The grounds were magnificent and immense. Although I admired it all, coming from a family with a period property (hotel) and my parent's home (although both Victorian), I see places like this and just see a money pit, staffing costs and antiques requiring constant polishing and maintenance. I looked at the silver cabinet and it reminded me of Sunday evenings at home with my parents with the 'Slivero'. Caspar looked and said 'this is like Grannie's stuff that I am selling on e-bay.' I love period properties and antiques but I am also very realistic and unsentimental about it all. Saying that it was wonderful to experience this place and be able to walk away thinking 'I am glad it's not my responsibility' ha!

 Copper kettles (we know and love them!)- this is as far as I got before being banned from my phone.

What a building!

Andy and I enjoyed a loved up moment:

Then we checked out some baby owls. I just wanted to tuck it under my wing:

We got ice-creams - my new favourite flavour was born - Café Mocha plus Rum and Raisin. Caspar did some obstacle-coursing:

And then passed out on the way home (so did I):

Which became this:

We came home and the dog was a terror (even though we'd walked him for an hour in the morning and he'd only been left 4 and half hours), so we did another huge walk on the sands and threw his ball for him. Found more free stuff:

Humph has lost a ton of tennis balls so it is always nice when we find one. And another golf ball. I literally cannot go to the beach without finding one, they are now all over the house but I can't not pick them up. This one was a lady's one:

We got home and George had found a new home. We are leaving the picnic hamper permanently out now so we use it as much as possible:

Finally, after a day of little treats I made this salad (quinoa, spring onion, avocado, tiny tiny bit of feta, houmous, beetroot, rocket, hemp oil, garlic, parsley and tuna). The plate weighed a ton but I ate it all. I really should start some portion control haha!

 Poldark is now finished (it was a filler but next week looks super dramatic) - it is 10pm but I can't get Caspar to bed (he is eating grapes incredibly slowly and watching the Bachelorette (Jo-Jo) after the rose - he wanted Robbie to win, so did I). It is that golden period though where the pets are all asleep and really I should go to bed - but when you've only been sat down briefly in the evening, isn't it tempting to stay up late to get some 'me time' (i.e. watch Desperate Housewives on my own). Andy has been snoring for 30 minutes ( I can hear it down here) - he has to set off from the house at 7 as attending an event for work near Newcastle tomorrow. He's having lunch at this amazing country house pub that used to be part of a monastery until the 1500s so I will post some photos on that later in the week!

If you are still here thanks for putting up with this very long blog post! Looking forward to catching up on what everyone did this week-end! Joanne xx

Linking with Biana and

Linking with Lindsay:


Aim2mom said…
About dog training, this is a bit controversial but my husband believes in training collars. We hAve had two of the best behaved labradors and get comments all the time on our Ernie. He is 5 now. Archie before him was the same. I know Hump is a different breed so I can’t speak about his breed. I can relate to all the dog hair. E is shedding winter coat now.
Your picnic was idyllic. I love real plates, etc and can’t stand restaurants that use paper. I love cloth napkins! I need to get a nice set. I can’t believe you didn’t break anything! The castle was amazing.
Thanks for all the photos for those of us across the pond!
Cassidy Adams said…
Looks like a perfect weekend:). I enjoyed all of the pictures (I always do) as I feel like I get to see what life is like somewhere very different then the good olé us of a;). I mean, that castle! WOW! I love all the pictures of your animals-they are adorable! I want a dog so bad, but I know with my two boys and our unfenced yard... it's better if I wait. I've been there with a mouthy dog. I wish I had tips but I was just like you... at a loss for what to do! Hope you have a great week:)
Britt Hensley said…
I look forward to reading about your weekends every Monday, and this weekend looked simply amazing. I had a blast chatting with you during that Germany match. Your picnic looks splendid, and that sweet Caspar looks like the sweetest shopping buddy. Enjoy your week, friend!
Europafox said…
Hi Amy! Thanks for your advice - I am not sure the collar would work on Humph and they are probably due to be made illegal here, they aren't really used at all - I am not against them per se but Humph is so highly strung he probably needs sedating more than fizzing up more haha! Thank you for your comments on our day out - it was truly lovely - back to the grind today - BOOO!
What a fabulous weekend. I love that vintage coffee pot and the flowers inside. That picnic spot is amazing. I love the picture of Casper with is rucksack. What a great shopping buddy and a good boy. Enjoy your week!
Europafox said…
Hey Cassidy - I only wish I could have taken photos inside the castle - it was very much like stepping back in time. Dogs are great but SUCH hard work - I think if I were buying again I wouldn't get a 'working' dog and I'd get a non-shedder! Hope you had a lovely week-end - will be checking out your blog later today xx
Europafox said…
Aww thank you Britt - that is so nice!! You kind of threw me in the messaging supporting Germany haha! It was good fun. We did well yesterday against Panama (6-1) but I am not getting ahead of myself (we usually always go out at quarters or semis). Yes the picnic was splendid and I hope to work on making some more home-made options next time to make it more special. Caspar is a great shopping buddy - he gave up tennis by saying 'but who would help you shopping?' - so sweet!
Europafox said…
Thanks :))) Sometimes I think it is best to try and use what you have first when re-decorating - it can bring items pushed into the corner getting dusty back to life again! So happy picnic season has started again - I hope to make good use of that basket this year. Caspar is a good boy with the shopping but I have been training him on it since he was 5 :)) He gets his own meat and fish most weeks - the shopkeepers are great with him.
Your weekend looks dreamy! I mean, seriously, can I come to visit? So glad it was time well spent with the family. :)
Europafox said…
It is always nice to 'escape' at the weekend! :) Of course you can come and visit any time! :) Hope your weekend and the cutest ever lemonade stand went well xx
Bri Runde said…
What a great weekend! That tea room looks like such a sweet place!
What a perfect weekend! I agree, June weekend are the best!
Europafox said…
Thanks Bri - I'd like to be able to still read your blog - could you possibly send me an invite?
Europafox said…
Stefanie - I think one of the reasons I love them is (not just the best weather here) but that it is the start of summer and everything is still a novelty - by Aug I am usually ready for Autumn! Hope you had a great week-end!
I totally agree with shopping around your own house first before you buy anything new! I think it's kinda fun to move things to a new spot.
Usually I have a ton of doggie advice, but I really haven't run into that sort of behavior before. I agree though, it's best to take care of it now before he is set in his ways. My vet always has good advice, I wonder if yours would have some suggestions?
Loved the pictures from the castle! You look beautiful against that blue sky!
Europafox said…
I kind of what to live with it all and let everything happen organically - so maybe write a list but not rush buying everything at once, I like my finds to have a 'story' if you know what I mean! :) I think his behaviour is a huge Springer trait - I am trying a. exhausting him with play rather than just walks, b. stimulating his mind more, c. when he barks banging a wooden spoon on a pan. SO far today he's better but I'm sure he'll still have his moments! Our vets are RUBBISH with behavioural stuff - and the behaviourists around here aren't great. Anyway, will keep persevering -hoping to 'train' him out of it :)) Glad you liked the castle! It opens for Hallo'ween and is haunted - we'll have to go back and do a creepy post too haha!
Shannon said…
I don't know where to begin!!! I simply love it all! Caspar is such a dashing young gentleman in these pictures. I love the idea of a picnic on a pleasant afternoon and also visiting a castle! How cool! I love the "redecorating" you've done! It's so tempting to go out and buy more things but it's great to make do with what we already have on hand!
Europafox said…
Glad you liked it :)) Our house is pretty smallish so before I find new things definitely what to make use of what I have - and to be honest I am quite liking the minimal look - currently working my way through a list of what to get rid of - sofa was yesterday, bookcase hopefully later this week etc. Hope you are having a great week so far - it is BAKING hot here!
That picnic looked incredible! Cheers to fabulous weekends! I love that y'all got some one on one time and those tea cakes look so yummy. I'm the same way with dog hair and its obnoxious in the summer when Emma Jo (our yellow lab) sheds constantly! Ugh!

again, LOVING the wallpaper accent wall, especially with the pink hydrangea photo!
Europafox said…
Got to love this 'getting out and about weather' - eating al fresco is just the best - especially in the boys lug the hampers! Gosh I can imagine a lab is a shedder! We replace the mud being trailed through in winter with sand and hair - it's fab isn't it? Definitely need more hydrangeas in my life xx
I love the picnic and castle. So beautiful. I love a good tea cake. Especially with butter and jam on it. What a great weekend!
Europafox said…
Yey love it that you know so much about our food and funny habits haha! You can't beat a good buttered and jammed tea cake - especially with a pot of English breakfast or Earl Grey.

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