Fancy Advent Calendars are all the rage these days. I’ve seen gin calendars, beer calendars, LEGO calendars and skincare calendars; but alas there are no Yorkshire Tea calendars. I have searched high and low for a Yorkshire Tea calendar (other tea brands are available) but ended up deciding to make my own.
Tea drinkers are usually fiercely loyal to their brand. My best friend loves tea, specifically Yorkshire Tea and with lockdown once more gripping the country, I felt it was time to make them a special Advent gift.
The idea is a simple one. Find a new Yorkshire Tea tea towel and sew individually wrapped Yorkshire Tea teabags onto it. It’s not really much more complicated than that, but here’s how I did it.
How to make a Yorkshire Tea Advent Calendar
You will need:
A Yorkshire Tea tea towel, I bought mine from eBay
24 individually wrapped Yorkshire Tea teabags, I got mine from Amazon
A permanent marker
A needle and thread
Making your Advent Calendar
Lay your tea towel on a flat surface and decide how best to place your individually wrapped teabags. I took a photo so I could remember what worked best, because I can be a bit forgetful. You might want to iron your tea towel before you start, I didn’t because I’m quite lazy.
Using the marker pen, number each teabag. Feel free to write a joyful message on the back of some of the packets if you wish. Shuffle your teabags so they are now in a random order.
Remembering the pattern of how you’re going to sew them onto the tea towel; take your needle and thread and stitch a couple of tacking stitches through the top sealed edge of the teabag. Sew each one onto your tea towel and continue until you’ve sewn them all on.
Should you be a bit worried that your sewing might not be up to much, you could get 24 safety pins and pin the teabags onto the tea towel instead. If you’ve gone for the sewing option; then I’d advise the recipient that a quick snip each day with some small scissors will release the bag from the tea towel and bring them some brewing up joy.
At the end of September I went to North Yorkshire for a foodie weekend away. While we were there, I wanted to visit the Wensleydale Creamery and have a look around. After enjoying the Cheese Experience we had worked up a good appetite and fancied lunch in Calvert’s Restaurant. Naturally we ordered fairly greedily, with an epic cheese board taking centre stage. Being hungry types, we also shared a gorgeous portion of Yorkshire Creamery macaroni cheese.
The macaroni cheese was made with mature Yorkshire Cheddar and extra mature Yorkshire Red. They were the most delicious combination, so as we left, I picked up a wedge of each from the shop to make for myself once I got home. Here’s my recipe, and it’s not a bad recreation of the original.
This recipe feeds two heartily, and three or four as a side.
Yorkshire Creamery Macaroni Cheese
250g dried macaroni pasta
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
Approx one pint of milk, maybe more, maybe less
100g mature Yorkshire cheddar cheese, grated
100g extra mature Yorkshire red, grated
Salt and pepper
How to make this Yorkshire Creamery Macaroni Cheese:
To make this Yorkshire Creamery macaroni cheese; melt the butter in a saucepan, once melted, tip in the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Mix until it’s a paste and then cook the flour out for a minute. Add a splash of milk and stir until it turns into a paste again. Keep adding milk in splashes and mixing until it starts to turn into a silky sauce. The amount of milk will vary, but I’d say you need at least a pint of milk.
Leave your sauce to bubble gently on the hob while you put 250g of pasta to another saucepan of boiling water. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.
While your pasta cooks, grate your cheese and setting aside 70g of the Yorkshire red to top your bake with, add all of the rest of the cheese to your sauce. Stir, stir, stir your sauce and season with salt and pepper. I also like to add ground chilli flakes for a bit of a gentle kick, but you can leave that out if you prefer. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning; if it’s not cheesy enough for you, now is a good time to add more cheese. Now would also be a good time to pre-heat your oven to 220°.
Once your pasta is cooked, drain it really well and tip it into your cheese sauce; stir that through and pour into a baking dish. Level the top gently with the back of a spoon.
Sprinkle over the remaining Yorkshire Creamery red cheese and the fresh breadcrumbs; pop it into the oven for 25 minutes, or until it’s brown and bubbly on top. Take it out of the oven and put to one side for five minutes. Serve with a big salad and crusty bread.
Over half term we went glamping for a couple of days in North Yorkshire. It was a blissful few days and we were blown away by the natural beauty of the area. We were keen to take in as much of nature’s beauty as we could, so we hopped in the car and drove to Aysgarth Falls.
Aysgarth Falls are in Leyburn, North Yorkshire and are a set of three magnificent waterfalls on the River Ure. The falls cascade over the series of broad limestone steps which are divided into three stages; Upper Force, Middle Force and Lower Force. We didn’t really know what to expect as we’d just seen them listed as a nice walk in the glamping site welcome booklet; so we laced up our walking boots, set the sat nav and drove there.
We were unsure where to park; so we drove through the village and up to a cafe and car park over the top of the falls. There is a car park which overlooks St Andrew’s Church, a Grade II listed parish church which is known for its unusually large churchyard. The church has a number of fittings that were rescued from Jervaulx Abbey at the time of the Dissolution of the Monasteries. When we arrived there was a public event on at the church, but we were keen to see the falls so we didn’t go in.
We walked down the road to the top of the falls; the pavement really narrows off here, so if you have small children it’s worth keeping them close. Crossing the bridge over the River Ure, you can find a footpath which is you turn left takes you to the Upper Force; turn right and you find the official car park, a visitors centre and tea room, and the path to the middle and lower falls.
We took the path to the Upper Force, a couple of minutes walk and the path opens up to a beautiful sight. When it’s been raining the falls thunder with cascading water; but it had been fairly dry recently, so it lacked the promised power. It was however still very lovely. These are the only falls you can paddle in; and families were walking across the shallows in wellies or bare feet.
The Upper Force are a fine spot for a picnic too. I’d popped to a bakery in Bedale on the way, so we had a selection of sandwiches and baked goods to tuck into. Disappointingly not everyone tidies up after themselves, so there was a bit of litter about, which was a shame considering the amount of natural beauty we were surrounded by.
After our picnic, we walked up river a little. It was very peaceful and away from the paddling families there were birds and insects and peace. Plus a chance to skim stones on the glassy river and so much beauty.
We decided that we would walk down and see the middle and lower falls. We weren’t sure how long it would take, but we were in no rush. Following the footpath, we passed the visitors centre, crossed a road and entered the woodland through a gate. The walk through the woods is well signposted, with a nice path which is suitable for buggies. Wheelchair users will find accessing some areas a bit tricky though as there are some steps.
We walked down to the lower falls first, figuring we would catch the middle falls on the way back. This turned out to be a great idea. We followed the footpath down towards the bottom; there was a viewing platform where you can get great views of the lower force. Further along you can get closer to the falls, but the stone is uneven and I didn’t want to risk a fall. The boys scampered around with confidence though. To return to the path, you can either go back the way you came or climb a flight of steps. It’s quicker to climb the steps if you are able.
Returning to the path, you head back the way you came; after a few minutes walk you will find the middle force, which again is down a set of steps to the viewing platform. If you don’t want to tackle the steps, you can still get a fine view from the footpath.
There are benches and places to rest along the footpath. Once you’ve done the walk, you have earned the right to tea and cake at the tea shop at the Visitors Centre. The Visitors Centre itself is well worth a visit. There are displays and information about the geology of the falls and surrounding area; as well as information about the wildlife of the area.
The walk is a fairly easy one. My 8 year old didn’t complain and enjoyed the woodland walk and seeing Aysgarth Falls. It was fine for me too, though I was cautious walking over the stone near the falls. We all loved visiting one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the UK.
AD/Press Trip. Last year we well and truly discovered the joy of glamping. We trotted off to the Lake District for a weekend in a Yurt and we fell hard for the homely charms which glamping offered. Keen to have another lovely few days under canvas, over half term we stayed at Camp Katur in North Yorkshire for a couple of days.
Camp Katur is located on the Camp Hill Estate in Bedale, North Yorkshire. It’s home to Camp Hill House, an 18th century mansion house with a large estate. Nestled in a field tucked away in woodland is Camp Katur Glamping Village. Within the village there are a number of different glamping options; you can stay in bell tents, hobbit pods, a geodome, teepees, safari tents, amongst other options. We stayed in one of the larger safari tents which had its own private bathroom, which was nice.
Arriving at Camp Katur early afternoon, we checked in and walked through the woods and across a lovely meadowy field to our home for the next two nights. We were staying in Afia, a tent which came with a comfy sofa, a woodburner, gas stove, running water and beds for up to 8 people. There was also a private bathroom in a shed, a roomy veranda, a brick BBQ and peace. So much peace.
I really loved having our own en suite shed. It had a cute tin bucket sink, a proper toilet and a shower. It was clean and it was ours. I don’t mind shared facilities, but having your own really feels like a bit of luxury in the woods.
There is no electricity; so the heating is from your woodburner and your lights are from torches, candles and little strings of battery powered fairy lights which are dotted around the place. There were plenty of candles supplied and once you’d lit all the lanterns it was really cosy.
The safari tent really was a little spot of luxury in the woods. There were three bedrooms, a kitchen area, dining table and chairs and a huge leather sofa. Lots of outdoor seating, and of course the en suite shed. It was everything you could want. Perfect for a big family or a group of friends. We loved it.
Although there are a number of tents and pods dotted around the place, there is plenty of room between them and honestly we didn’t hear a peep from anyone else the whole time we were there. There were other families there and most of the kids congregated in the long grass in the middle of the field, playing games and chasing each other, which was great for our boy who quickly made friends and disappeared for hours, only returning for juice and snacks.
The glamping village itself is well thought out. There’s a small shed shop with limited opening hours; though soon after we arrived one of the lovely wardens came over to check everything was ok and to ask if we needed anything from the shop – we did, we got a couple of disposable barbecues.
Camp Katur also has a BBQ Grill Cabin you can hire and an Eco Spa which I walked past lustfully several times. Next time we visit, I am totally booking that out for a few hours. In the Eco Spa there’s a sauna, a hot tub, a little zen garden and some chairs to recline on. Elsewhere there’s a huge adventure playground for kids, a swing park and you can book yourself on quad biking sessions, a high ropes course, segway rides and footgolf. There’s so much going on, but it’s so peaceful you’d never know unless your sought it out.
Our nights in the safari tent was really cosy. As the sun set we would move inside, light the woodburner, snuggle under blankets and read to each other by candlelight. The beds inside the tent were real beds, with proper memory-foam mattresses. We filled hot water bottles and snuggled down to sleep, and sleep we did. We occasionally heard the screech of an owl in the woods; but they were two of the best nights sleep I’d had in a long while.
Whilst there’s lots to do on site, we had plans to explore the area a bit. There are lots of local attractions and thing to do, but we fancied a walk and some scenery, so we visited Aysgarth Falls, about an hours drive away. It was well worth the drive, we took a picnic and had a good walk. We stopped in Bedale on the way home to buy some provisions for the night. Bedale is a really lovely market town which a great butchers, bakers, a couple of small supermarkets and a really good chip shop.
There’s plenty of civilisation nearby; but camped out on the edge of the woods, looking out over a meadowy field, you could well be in the middle of nowhere. Camp Katur is a magical site. There’s plenty to do, buckets of peace and quiet and the time and the space to rest and wind down for a few days. Wind down we did. We read books; walked, talked, breathed in the fresh air; we played cards, reconnected and fell back in love with our family again. Simplicity does that.
I don’t know about you but I seem to spend the months of November to January running around like a mad thing; struggling to keep up with myself and all the festive preparations and chaos. We try to make a point of booking at least a weekend away just to escape and relax for a few days. I quite often leave it till the last minute to properly book; but we’ll have a few winter break options on the table and then decide depending on the weather and what we really fancy doing.
We love the coast during the winter; watching the stormy waves lash against the rocks. To be honest, we’ve often been really lucky with the weather and picked up some winter sunshine. I quite like the idea of a coastal jaunt this year; a bit of rosy-cheeked fresh air would do us the world of good.
If we can get ourselves organised, a few of the girls and I like grab a bit of time away and indulge in a spot of Christmas shopping. In previous years we’ve gone to a Christmas market somewhere and had a great time. Sometimes we’ll grab a city break and hit their high street for a change.
Last year a small group of us had a spa weekend at the end of November. It was bliss. Two days of pampering and relaxation away from everything. A little wind down before the chaos of the festive period kicked in. I loved it and it meant that when December started, I was ready for almost anything. Planning a little getaway a couple of times a year is pretty much what keeps me sane.
I’ve got a few nice things lined up for next year. Nothing wildly expensive, but just nice things that will give me something to look forward to during the long winter months.