Durham

An Autumnal Afternoon in Durham

Durham City is the crowning jewel of county Durham, a historic town nestled by the River Wear since roughly 200 BC, if the archeological evidence is anything to go by. The present city can accurately traced back to 995AD, when a group of monks from Lindisfarne chose the strategic hill as a place to found a church in which to bury the body of Saint Cuthbert.

Because of its historic beginnings, Durham has that old English town feeling to it like Cambridge, Oxford or York. Although technically a city because of its cathedral, Durham is little bigger than a medium sized town. It is made up of winding streets and cobbled alleyways that retain a market town feeling despite the streets now being lined with high-street stores. It is not a place of cocktail bars and nightclubs. You’re more likely to be able to do a cafe crawl than a bar crawl there.

Because of this, Durham can quickly be covered within an afternoon. Wandering is the main entertainment of the day, and it certainly is a city worth exploring. I began my own sunny, autumn afternoon in Durham by walking from the train station to the main part of the city across Framwellgate Bridge, from which you can get a great view of the spectacular Norman cathedral, the city’s pride and joy.

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From Framwellgate Bridge, I wandered up Silver Street into Durham Market Place, hopping in and out of the different shops for a bit of early Christmas shopping. The heart of this commercial square is the Victorian Durham Market Hall, an inside market home to over fifty independent traders selling everything from food to outdoor pursuits, from carpet fittings to tattoos and piercings. I spent a good while wandering about the market, avoiding the cold November wind outside while shopping for stocking fillers.

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From the Market Place, I made my way up Sadler Street to the Palace Green, home to the one and only Durham Cathedral. The Cathedral has been a place of worship and pilgrimage for almost a millennium, being built in 1093 to house the Shrine of St Cuthbert. It is an antiquarian, retrophile or general historophile’s heaven. The Cathedral itself is renowned for its magnificent architecture, including the twelfth-century Galilee Chapel with its original medieval wall paintings and the stunning Rose Window in the Chapel of the Nine Altars. It is an eyeful, both from the outside and the inside, to say the least. I particularly love the great doors of the Cathedral, as the diagonal carvings on the stone arches of the entrance makes it feel like you’re being drawn in further and further into the Cathedral as you walk in.

 

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Walking into the Cathedral, you will be amazed by the sheer vastness of the nave, which is architecturally stunning. With the ribbed vaulted roof high above you, held up by the towering sandstone pillars, it is an amazing example of ancient craftsmanship. The main part of the Cathedral is my favourite part, as standing in the middle of the nave on the central aisle, below the towering roof, it’s hard not to catch your breath by the magnitude of the columns and walls around you. There I was, gazing up at a ceiling that has stood for nearly 1000 years, seeing through William the Conqueror’s rule, the Black death, the Reformation and the Harry Potter films. It is simply beautiful, and awe-inspiring. Unfortunately, you are not allowed to take photos inside the Cathedral, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. Or consult Google images.

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Aside from the main part of the Cathedral, for the history buffs amongst us it is worthwhile going along to Open Treasure, the world-class exhibition which begins in the  fourteenth-century Monks’ Dormitory, going onto the Collections Gallery and the monastic Great Kitchen. If you like your old relics, Open Treasure will also be right up your street as you will get to see the treasures of Durham Cathedral, including the relics of St Cuthbert. Talk about making the most of your money!

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Leaving the weight of nearly 1000 years of history behind me, I turned from the Palace Green onto the cobbles of The Bailey, one of Durham’s oldest and loveliest streets. I joined the clusters of students milling around the pretty, bite-size colleges along its length, feeling like I could be walking down this street decades ago and it wouldn’t have felt much different. You would still have been able to spot students juggling books, coffee and a swinging satchel. There is a timelessness to this collage part of Durham, it’s feels as if no matter what happens on the outside, The Bailey will always look the same. This is hardly surprising,  as some of the five Bailey university collages that span this area date from the early nineteenth century, and the university itself has as a part of its estate 63 listed buildings. The preservation of history is practically woven into the cobbles.

After I had amused myself watching struggling students, I came to Prebends Bridge, one of the best spots in the city for a great view of the cathedral perched grandly above. I then followed the riverside path round once I had crossed the river, enjoying walking under the falling autumn leaves while admiring the views of the Cathedral and the old city huddled below.

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Getting a tad peckish by this point, I then looped back on myself by walking back into the main part of the city across Framwellgate Bridge again, but this time I headed down towards Elvet Bridge, turning down the side street next to Market Cross Jewellers to the cosy Flat White Cafe, a gorgeous little cafe tucked down the backstreet. I stayed here warming up on a generous bowl of cheesy cauliflower soup and a latte while reading a book and writing a few letters in the rosy glow from the lights.

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Once refreshed and warmed, I finished my autumnal afternoon in Durham by heading back  to the train station, stopping for a moment to admire the cathedral in its majesty in the enclosing dark. The only thing that would have added to the scene would have been snow. It’s not too early for a white Christmas is it?

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One Day Itinerary in Harrogate

The Victorian town of Harrogate in North Yorkshire has been a popular tourist spot for almost 200 years when it became the fashionable place for the high society of Edwardian and Victorian Britain to come and sample the therapeutic spa waters. Although the spa tradition continues to this day with the Turkish Baths, which is one of the only remaining spas of its kind to still be in operation, the town now annually attracts new visitors who come for relaxing weekends away, to attend some of the town’s significant events such as the Great Yorkshire Show or to use it as a base from which to explore the Yorkshire Dales.

If you’re planing on heading to this Victorian Spa Town for a day, it is worth having some idea of what you should do beforehand to make sure you make the most out of your trip. Keep reading find out what your One Day Itineray for Harrogate should look like.

Morning: 9am

Every visit to Harrogate must include a visit to Bettys. the traditional Victorian tea rooms that originated in this charming spa town in 1919. Having refused numerous times to branch outside of Yorkshire, Bettys has definitely become a tourist attraction, particularly in Harrogate where it all started. Going to Bettys is like stepping back in time to the town’s golden Victorian era, as the cafe and shop look like a set out of Downton Abbey, complete with the staff dressed in traditional Edwardian-esque clothing. Due to its popularity, it’s essential to get to Bettys early before the queues start forming, as by mid-morning there will be people lining up round the corner.

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Go for early breakfast as a great way to start your day in Harrogate. Of course you must have a pot of Yorkshire Tea with you breakfast! Bettys products are handmade and use the highest quality ingredients that are usually sourced locally, so you can be sure that whatever you have will be delicious as well as giving you the best that Harrogate and the surrounding area can offer. After breakfast, make sure you have a look in the Bettys shop the adjoins the tea rooms before you go, particularly at their seasonal display, which always looks beautifully designed, like walking back in time to a Victorian bakery.

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Mid-morning: 11am

Felling a bit more full and sophisticated from your morning breakfast at Bettys, have a wander down to one of Harrogate’s more stylish shopping districts by going down Montpellier Parade.

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Turning right down to Montpellier Mews, you’ll find there are numerous small boutiques and cafes to explore at your leisure. Make sure you pop into the Farrahs Sweet Shop on the way, home to Farrah’s Original Harrogate Fudge established in 1840 and now recognisable for their distinctive blue & silver tins. Sampling the fudge is nonnegotiable, and it would be worth buying some fudge or other sweets for later.

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After exploring some of the boutiques in the Montpellier district, make your way to the historic Royal Pump Rooms. Now the town’s museum, the Royal Pump Room originally operated as a spa water pump house, where locals and tourists would go to take the sulphur water which was pumped on site from a natural spring known as the Old Sulphur Well. The only remaining source of sulphur water can be found on the outside of the building from a tap, although if you are brave enough to try the water, make sure you do so at your own risk, and make sure you have some toffees on hand to get rid of the taste in your mouth afterwards!

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Home of the strongest sulphur water in Europe, sampling these curing waters is definitely not for those with weak tastes. In the museum, you’ll be able to see the treatment baths and machinery of Harrogate’s spa history. You can also take a trip down to the surfer well accompanied by the museum staff every day at 11am, 2pm and 3pm Monday-Saturday, and 3pm on Sundays. Rather oddly, the museum also houses an internationally renowned collection of Egyptology, including a unique Anubis mask and a mummy case. Click here to find out about ticket prices and opening times for the Royal Pump Rooms.

Midday: 12pm

After sampling the curing waters of this old spa town, take a stroll into Harrogate’s principal gardens, the Valley Gardens. These historic gardens are a great place to sit on a sunny day with an ice cream and a bite to eat. Along with woodlands known as The Pinewoods, Valley Gardens covers 17 acres of land to explore, with a wide variety of outdoor games available in the summer months including tennis, golf, crazy golf, and a children’s play area and paddling pool.

Early afternoon: 1pm

On your way back into the town centre, swoop via the Mercer Art Gallery where Harrogate’s fine art collection is now housed in what was the Promenade Room, which was built in 1805 as a site for the fashionable society of the town and its visiting population to socialise after taking the waters. You can also walk past the Royal Baths before walking back up into the town centre, which was designed to provide a luxurious setting for specialist hydrotherapy treatments to compete with other European spas, now a mixture of restaurants, bars, nightclubs and the Turkish Baths.

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Afternoon: 2pm

For an afternoon coffee and bite to eat, from here you can head to one of Harrogate’s various cafes. If you’re looking for a coffee house, look no further than Bean & Bud or Hoxton North.

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For a more foodie cafe, head to Baltzersens for a Scandi inspired menu or Farm Shop Bistro for tasty, more traditional Yorkshire food.

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Late Afternoon: 3-4pm

Once fed and rested, you can spend the afternoon in whatever way pleases you, as there is a variety of options. You can explore more of Harrogate’s boutiques and shops by heading down West Park. Or head to Harrogate Theatre to watch some of the shows on offer, produced by a number of amateur societies that regularly perform musicals and plays throughout the year.

For a complete history trip of Harrogate, you could also treat yourself to a visit to the Turkish Baths. Turkish Baths used to be common in Victorian times, but only seven remain which date back to the 19th century, three of which are in England, including the one in Harrogate. The present Turkish Baths were only one of many facilities during the Royal Baths’ golden days, other services like a medicinal waters’ dispensary, hydrotherapy departments, mud baths and steam rooms were also available. As the only remaining arm of the original Royal Baths, the Turkish Baths is definitely part of any history trip to Harrogate. For under £20, you can experience the traditional ritual of heating, cooling and cleansing by moving from the Hot Room Chambers to the Plunge Pool to the Stream Room or Frigidarium to relax, then repeat, just as royalty such as the Princess Alix of Hesse and her sister, Princess Victoria of Battenburg regularly did in times gone by. If you’re feeling very luxurious, you can even treat yourself to an additional treatment at the spa like a full body massage or to one of their spa packages. Whatever you chose, you’ll certainly come out of the Turkish Baths feeling like a new person!

Evening: 6-7pm onwards

Home to a variety of restaurants and bars, for an evening’s entertainment you have a lot to choose from in Harrogate. As well as the standard chain restaurants, you can also find independent, high quality food havens located close to or in the town centre. For authentic, but exceptional Chinese dishes look no further than the Royal Baths Chinese Restaurant, housed in what was the Royal Baths Hall. For a taste of Spain, head to La Feria, one of Harrogate’s most recent additions on the cuisine stage, offering the taste of Spanish delicacies as well as accommodating, friendly service. Indian cuisine in the town centre is best found at Cardamom Black, while for Argentinian food head to Bodega Steakhouse, another recent addition to the Harrogate food scene. Graverleys of Harrogate is the place to go for traditional but good quality seafood, while the Brassiere down the road is the best place for a relaxed evening listening to some live Jazz music.

With so much to choose from, you can easily have an evening well spent in Harrogate to finish off you day.

If you have another additions you want to make to this One Day Itinerary in Harrogate then please share them in the comments below!

 

How to See the Edinburgh Fringe in One Day

It’s August, which means that Edinburgh has now been officially and wholly taken over by the madness of the Edinburgh Fringe. The Fringe is a month long, city-wide festival that overtakes the whole of the city every single year. It is part of one gigantic arts and culture celebration that is made up of multiple festivals which run in sync with each other. The Fringe is the most well known among them, the others being the Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh International Film FestivalEdinburgh International Book Festival, Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The beauty of these coinciding festivals is the organised chaos that they collectively produce. The whole city explodes with creativity, quirkiness and the carnivalesque, displaying the best from each of the arts, from the amateur and emerging to the well-known, star-studded names in the business. These festivals draw huge crowds to the Scottish capital each year, with visitors coming from all over the world to enjoy the craziness. As a result, around this time each year, prices skyrocket. It can cost hundreds of pounds simply to stay over for a weekend, with travel in and out of the city from around the UK also peaking. It’s not surprising then, that many now opt to go to the Fringe for only one day, not even staying overnight.

With the variety that the Fringe and the other coinciding festivals offer, there is literally something for everyone. There are two forms of attack when going to the Fringe for just one day. Either you choose a specific day you’re going to go on and plan it ahead of time so that you can fit in as many events as possible, or you take a more spontaneous, relaxed approach.

I favour the spontaneous approach, especially if it’s your first time at the Fringe. Turning your trip to the Edinburgh Fringe into a military operation draws away from the very spirit of the festival. Read on to find out how to have a great time at the Fringe without micro-planning every second of your day.

Firstly, get into Edinburgh as early as possible, ideally before or at 9am. This allows you to get your bearings and go for breakfast to store up some energy for the day. Head towards Stockbridge where you’ll find plenty of quaint little cafes where you can sit and enjoy a hearty breakfast. I’d recommend The Pantry, near the photographic Circus Lane, where they serve a delicious and filling breakfast.

After refreshing yourself, head back to Princes Street to the Half Price Hut located at the Mound Precinct for 10am. The Half Price Hut offers discounted tickets to performances on that day and for the following morning, as well as a serving as a collection point for purchased tickets. If you’re going for a spontaneous approach to your day at the Fringe, it’s a great place to pick up a bargain for last minute shows. Try to have an idea of what type of events you’d like to see before hand as there is normally a lot on offer and the staff cannot help you decide as they have to remain impartial (click here for the list of Fringe events). Try pick two or three events for the day, all that are different. Normally shows are around an hour long so space them out as you need to factor in time to eat as well as navigate around the city. Maybe pick one for the morning, one for early afternoon and one for late afternoon or early evening before your train home. Go for a mixture, choosing at least one show that is a random or spontaneous choice – half the fun is seeing and trying new things, be brave!

Once you’ve bought your tickets or collected them, get exploring! In between shows you should definitely head up the Royal Mile to get a feel for the festival atmosphere. This street will be rammed packed with visitors, street performers and people giving out flyers left right and centre. A lot of the street performers and flyers will be about shows being performed that day, many of them free, so make sure you take the time to watch a few and see if there is anything else you’d like to see in between your shows. Don’t forget to explore the offshoot streets off the Royal Mile, walk into the Scottish tourist shops where there will be plenty of fudge samples to try and of course see Edinburgh Castle!

For lunch, make your way down to Grassmarket via Victoria Street, where you can buy food on the go from the local market or head to some of the local cafes like the famous Elephant House Cafe (where J K Rowling wrote Harry Potter over cups of coffee) or the popular Lovecrumbs. Before or in-between your afternoon shows, make sure you explore the main hubs of the different festivals. If you love music, head to George Square which houses the heart of the Underbelly At Edinburgh Fringe  where a lot of the music events perform. There are also loads of pop-up bars and food stalls with live music that are great to sit and soak up the festival atmosphere.

Love books? Head to Charlotte Square Gardens where the Edinburgh International Book Festival is housed, complete with two well-stocked independent bookshops and three cafes – perfect for a sit down with a cuppa to enjoy a newly purchased book. Maybe even get a book signed by an author or join in with a discussion!

Art Fanatic? Check out some of the best art on display as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival, from their takeovers of the capital’s leading art venues to  pop up exhibitions of new artists throughout the city. You could even attend on an Art Late session, which are special events in venues throughout the city that happen every Thursday evening during August, that includes live music, performances, artist talks and tours.

After your final show of the day, catch some dinner in one of the many restaurants in Edinburgh’s New Town, particularly down the lovely Rose Street. Before making your leave of this beautiful city, why not watch one of the Best of the Fest films run by the Edinburgh International Film Festival for £8. Or listen to some live music while sipping on a cold drink at one of Edinburgh’s many live music bars and pubs, such as the Pear Tree. If you are able to stay in Edinburgh late enough, take a walk up to Calton Hill. It’s iconic view of Edinburgh offers the perfect spot to watch night fall upon the city. If you are there late enough, you’ll get a great view of the fireworks from the Military Tattoo that is performed every night Monday-Saturday at the castle.

After a day crammed with the sights and sounds of the Fringe and the rest of Edinburgh’s festivals, head back to Waverley Station with a smile on your face and your feet in need of a sit down, excited to do it all over again next year!

Meanderings in Corbridge

If you head west from the city of Newcastle you will stumble upon the gorgeous little town of Corbridge. This historic town was built near the roman settlement Corstopitum, a thriving supply base and community right up to the fall of Roman Britain in the early 5th century. Walking through the streets today, you can still get a feel for its historic past. Roman stones were used to build a lot of the village buildings,  and the streets have remained much the same since medieval times, giving you the sense that you have gone back to a bygone era.

On my meander to this gem nestled in the Tyne Valley, the weather was particularly lovely, being one of the sunniest days we have had this year – blue sky, sunshine – perfect exploring weather!

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Having parked just outside the main town, we arrived into the charming town over the medieval bridge, giving us a chance to see Corbridge show itself slowly. One by one the layers of stone built houses emerged  and we were within the winding streets of the town.

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Without further ado, once into the town it was straight to the Market Place for a bite to eat and drink at Cafe No 6. This lovely quaint cafe was a perfect spot for a coffee and a slice of cake. The staff were more than happy to help, providing a friendly service with a smile, which made the cakes even sweeter. Pleasant, bright and right in the Market Place, the cafe is all you could ask for of a small town cafe and is ideal for people-watching or reading a good book with a hot drink and something sweet to nibble on.

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While enjoying coffees and cake, I happily watched people mulling about the Market Place, taking in the slower pace of life that Corbridge exudes as well as the sunshine. It was lovely to enjoy the peace this little town has to offer.

Fed and rested, it was off to explore the plethora of streets that branch off the main square, all lined with quaint and quirky shops, pubs, restaurants and coffee houses. Corbridge also has plenty of little boutiques for the avid shopper, making it the perfect place to visit for a day of musing, shopping and eating!It was refreshing to see a community that still could boast of having a butcher, a baker and all the traditional little shops that too many places have lost to be replaced by bigger chains.

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Once we had explored the streets and backless, if was back to the Market Place to grab some lunch at Grants Bakery, an artisan bakery on the corner of the square which sells Parisian style deserts as well as traditional comfort foods with slight twists. I quickly devoured a slice of their delicious salsa quiche, followed by a slice of their frangipane cherry tart. I have a slight weakness for anything frangipane or cherry related so for me this was a perfect treat on such a beautiful day. Delicious!

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Once comfortably stuffed with tasty food, I wandered over to Forum Books situated in the Market Place, a charming independent bookshop that I had resisted venturing in until the end of our trip.  Stocked with all the current books you would find in any Waterstones, as well as bookish merchandise, stylish notebooks and more local literature, it was a little bookworm heaven that I could have happily stayed in for hours! (They also have a Kids shop on Watling Street that is equally as charming and well worth a visit).

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After my bookish fix, we made our way back to the car park leisurely, soaking up the rest of the sun and the beautiful buildings before heading on the road again. On our way down to the car park we quickly went into Craft Works Gallery, a craft and gift shop in the old blacksmiths filled with everything sparkly, funny and creative. The building itself is worth looking at, with the old wooded roof beams and the old fireplace echoing an older time. They also have plenty of cute little trinkets and colourful paintings of local landmarks to interest the eye as well.

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Although the weather obviously painted Corbridge in a rose-tinted light, I have to say I loved visiting this charming little place. It is perfect for anyone who likes a bit of history, nice food, beautiful buildings and plenty of shops to explore. I would happily go there again to soak up all the little pleasures life offers – sun, food, and time to sit back and watch life go by.

Meanderings in York

York is one of my favourite places in England – it is a perfect blend of the past and present blended into one in its charming hidden streets, quirky little shops and grand historic sites.

My trip began, as all trips should, with a much needed breakfast. The day started a very wet one, so quickly after arriving I needed something hot and comforting at such an early and cold hour of the morning. Breakfast was served by a very smily and friendly lady at the Little Shambles: Tearoom and Coffee House, in which I quickly engulfed a homely helping of poached eggs on brown toast and coffee, simple but perfect for an early pick-me-up that hits the spot. Enjoying the last sips of my coffee, I happily watched the shops and stalls of Shambles Market come to life, as people quickly bustled about with fresh bread, cakes, chocolates and meats, indulging in a part of York life not often seen by tourists.

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(photo taken from Traveller Photos on Trip Advisor, taken by Kim. M Oct 2015

Pleasantly full from a hot breakfast, I then guarded myself with my Mac coat and went an-exloring around the Shambles, one of my favourite parts of York. The Shambles is a historic maze of winding, cobbled streets with overhanging timber-framed houses, some dating as far back as the 14th century. With its twisting alleys and assortment of weird and wonderful shops, it is a part of York that still feels like there is magic lurking in the corners, reminding me of very much of Diagon Alley. It is as if you have stubbled into another time or place, beyond the modern world of high-street chains and huge corporations only a few streets away. On such a rainy day, you could almost feel the magic crackling in the damp air. I felt like I needed to go and buy a wand.

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Unfortunately, there were no wand shops about, so I comforted myself with a few almond truffles from Monk Bar Chocolatiers, artisan chocolatiers in the Shambles. Through the grey curtain of rain, the beautiful rows of luxury chocolates and truffles looked too inviting to resist. It certainly warmed me up a little to eat something so lovely!

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Also worth a visit is Roly’s Fudge Pantry – York is absolutely filled with fudge makers, but this one I would highly recommend going into and watching the batches of fudge being made and cut up right in front of your hungry eyes.

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After exploring the meandering Shambles’ streets, I wandered back to where I had eaten breakfast to buy a small pastry from the bakery opposite. I had watched the Bluebird Bakery set up and open while enjoying my poached eggs, and made a mental note to return later when I got peckish. The bakery specialises in home-made baked treats, from fresh bread to baked goods a little bit smaller to nibble on. Having the look of old, local bakeries that once stood on every shopping street, it is a nice pit-stop that compliments a morning of delving into the past.

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My feet then took me to York Minister, the largest gothic cathedral in northern Europe, and a key historic sight to see when visiting York. It is an enormous, hugely impressive building that takes your breath away looking at its sheer size and architectural detail. On such a rainy day, the Minister looks particularly striking and darkly gothic, set against the grey sky. There are also different events and activities inside the Minister, as well as opportunities to go to the top of the building to get a city-wide view. It is definitely a sight worth-seeing!

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Within eye-sight of the Minister is the wonderful Minster Gate Book Shop. This was my next destination on my wanderings, and I happily spent an hour or so browsing the 7 rooms of book bursting shelves. The shop is a tiny sliver of a building squished on Minister Gate that can easily be missed. But for any bookworm fond of rooms filled to the brim with books of all genres and ages, this is the place to go. Unfortunately, it does not stock the latest books that you can easily find in chain bookshops, so I had to leave this bookish treasure trove for the Waterstones on Coney Street.

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This Waterstones is ranked second on my list of favourite Watersones (the first being the Watersontes on Princes Street in Edinburgh) because it has the feel of an independent bookshop instead of a more corporate feel that some Waterstones give off. It is also deceivingly small from the outside, a bit like a Tardis, providing a large selection of fiction and non-fiction alike. The staff I have always found to be extremely friendly, always ready to give advice about book suggestions and help solve my indecisiveness. The best best is the light and spacious cafe on the first floor, with plenty of window seats to people-watch the street below. You are also allowed to bring your books into the cafe so you can mull over your critical reading decisions with a hot drink and some cake. This was my dilemma – while munching on a scrumious Fat Rascal I was trying to decide which books out of my selection of two non-fiction books and four fiction books I should buy. I finally decided upon the two non-fiction books: Spor by Mary Beard and The Silk Roads by Peter Frankopan, then bought three more fiction books from Waterstones Marketplace, avoiding the tough decision completely.

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Books in hand, so concluded my trip to York. Despite the heavy rain, I really enjoyed wandering around this historic and magical city, as I always do every time I visit, and I hope to return to it again soon.

Trip to Corbridge

If you head west from the city of Newcastle you will stumble upon the gorgeous little town of Corbridge. This historic town was built near the roman settlement Corstopitum, a thriving supply base and community right up to the fall of Roman Britain in the early 5th century. Walking through the streets today, you can still get a feel for its historic past. Roman stones were used to build a lot of the village buildings,  and the streets have remained much the same since medieval times, giving you the sense that you have gone back to a bygone era.

On my meander to this gem nestled in the Tyne Valley, the weather was particularly lovely, being one of the sunniest days we have had this year – blue sky, sunshine – perfect exploring weather!

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Having parked just outside the main town, we arrived into the charming town over the medieval bridge, giving us a chance to see Corbridge show itself slowly. One by one the layers of stone built houses emerged  and we were within the winding streets of the town.

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Without further ado, once into the town it was straight to the Market Place for a bite to eat and drink at Cafe No 6. This lovely quaint cafe was a perfect spot for a coffee and a slice of cake. The staff were more than happy to help, providing a friendly service with a smile, which made the cakes even sweeter. Pleasant, bright and right in the Market Place, the cafe is all you could ask for of a small town cafe and is ideal for people-watching or reading a good book with a hot drink and something sweet to nibble on.

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While enjoying coffees and cake, I happily watched people mulling about the Market Place, taking in the slower pace of life that Corbridge exudes as well as the sunshine. It was lovely to enjoy the peace this little town has to offer.

Fed and rested, it was off to explore the plethora of streets that branch off the main square, all lined with quaint and quirky shops, pubs, restaurants and coffee houses. Corbridge also has plenty of little boutiques for the avid shopper, making it the perfect place to visit for a day of musing, shopping and eating!It was refreshing to see a community that still could boast of having a butcher, a baker and all the traditional little shops that too many places have lost to be replaced by bigger chains.

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Once we had explored the streets and backless, if was back to the Market Place to grab some lunch at Grants Bakery, an artisan bakery on the corner of the square which sells Parisian style deserts as well as traditional comfort foods with slight twists. I quickly devoured a slice of their delicious salsa quiche, followed by a slice of their frangipane cherry tart. I have a slight weakness for anything frangipane or cherry related so for me this was a perfect treat on such a beautiful day. Delicious!

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Once comfortably stuffed with tasty food, I wandered over to Forum Books situated in the Market Place, a charming independent bookshop that I had resisted venturing in until the end of our trip.  Stocked with all the current books you would find in any Waterstones, as well as bookish merchandise, stylish notebooks and more local literature, it was a little bookworm heaven that I could have happily stayed in for hours! (They also have a Kids shop on Watling Street that is equally as charming and well worth a visit).

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After my bookish fix, we made our way back to the car park leisurely, soaking up the rest of the sun and the beautiful buildings before heading on the road again. On our way down to the car park we quickly went into Craft Works Gallery, a craft and gift shop in the old blacksmiths filled with everything sparkly, funny and creative. The building itself is worth looking at, with the old wooded roof beams and the old fireplace echoing an older time. They also have plenty of cute little trinkets and colourful paintings of local landmarks to interest the eye as well.

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Although the weather obviously painted Corbridge in a rose-tinted light, I have to say I loved visiting this charming little place. It is perfect for anyone who likes a bit of history, nice food, beautiful buildings and plenty of shops to explore. I would happily go there again to soak up all the little pleasures life offers – sun, food, and time to sit back and watch life go by.