Tag Archives: unique

The Botanist – where steampunk meets botanical magic

Delicious treats
Delicious treats

Do you ever read those advertising magazines that are spread across the desk in your hotel room? I have to confess – Sometimes, maybe, but usually I just brush them aside to make room for all of the travel books, casual books, magazines, and electronics that I brought with me. It is not like I just push it all onto the floor – I neatly clean off the paraphernalia that is “littering” the top of the desk so I can organize what I brought with me and see where all the outlets (or lack thereof) are located. At some point during the trip I may eventually take a quick flip through one of their magazines. I know, probably not the best habit for a travel writer, but I am working on changing that.

On a recent excursion to Chester, England I actually took a moment to stop and flip through that colorful magazine before I swept it off to the side – scanning headlines, reading the occasional recipe, reviews of the seasonal spirits, or the most noteworthy up-and-coming restaurants.

One brief headline caught my eye, The Botanist – an eclectic dining experience steeped in charm and style. There are so many ‘wine bars’ and ‘brewers’ that this caught my eye. The name was just enough to give a little intrigue and interest without giving away what it was all about. It was so steampunkish!

The lobby at The Botanist
The lobby at The Botanist

I was not disappointed! The atmosphere was so amazing and unique! It gave the feeling that you had stepped back in time to a garden sanctuary. The exterior of the restaurant was decorated in wrought iron panels with vines growing over them. The interior was decorated with wood accents that had a weathered-gray finish to them.

steampunk decor
steampunk decor

The bar area was quite impressive with an expansive front bar that had ample room for the botanical mix-masters to work their magic with herbal infused liquor and spirits. The back bar consisted of a massive shelving system that contained a sizeable assortment of liqueurs infused with berries, herbs, and fruits in addition to a fabulous selection of craft beers and ales.

Our mix-masters
Our mix-masters
The bar at The Botanist
The bar at The Botanist

Their menu is a beautiful and tasty selection of dishes inspired from delis and rotisseries of the UK and the comfort food from grandma’s English kitchen. Note worthy menu items that had a unique table presentation were the Hanging Kebabs (a very savory dish available in chicken, lamb kofta, prawn or beef and slathered with sweet chili, ginger, and garlic butter), Chicken Liver and Rum Pate that is brought to your table in a mini terracotta flower pot on a wooden plank with Turkish flat bread and a plumb and apple chutney that is served in a mini wheelbarrow.

Chicken liver and rum pate
Chicken liver and rum pate
Hanging lamb kabab
Hanging lamb kabab
carrot cocktail - it was actually good
carrot cocktail – it was actually good

Other favorites include the homemade Scotch Egg (fried to perfection so that the breading is crispy on the outside but the egg still has a soft center) and the Salt and Pepper Onion Petals served with a herbed sour cream sauce.

Scotch egg
Scotch egg

 

Craft ale and cocktail flight
Craft ale and cocktail flight
watermelon cocktail - great for hot summer days!
watermelon cocktail – great for hot summer days!

The food was delicious, flavorful, and wholesome! What a great find tucked in a narrow little side street off Eastgate St. and Northgate St. The Botanist is a great place for lunch, dinner, or a place to meet friends in the evening for cocktails and to listen to live music.

 

For more information on locations, hours and menu items check out their website at http://thebotanist.uk.com/

A hidden gem in the Yorkshire Dales

Forbidden Corner
Enter if you dare!

Tucked away in the Yorkshire Dales National Park in Tupgill Park is a fabulously fun hidden gem for young and young at heart called The Forbidden Corner. On a recent tour of the UK we discovered this very entertaining park. The Forbidden Corner is a 4 acre maze with tunnels, chambers, labyrinth and many hidden surprises designed to thrill its visitors at each twist and turn.

But beware of the many doors that may lead you astray, for no-one can safely say that there’s a way to escape every alley way

Forbidden Corner
Forbidden Corner Entrance
Forbidden Corner
Walk through the mouth!

First, you enter The Forbidden Corner through a tower that is designed to look like a face with a gaping mouth and when you walk through to the other side there is a loud and exaggerated belch. Yep, that is the start of the surprises that you will encounter when you visit. It was so much fun exploring rustic tunnels built at angles that opened up into underground labyrinths designed like an elegant ancient parlor room which in turn wound deeper into the earth passing large animated rats learning about cats and then opened into a large room lined with doors, most of which went nowhere, some only open one direction, the challenge is to find the door that opens in the direction that you want to go.

As we wound our way through the hedge maze we encountered the massive wood cutter with his gargantuan ax, a molten glass pyramid that turned out to be the roof of one of the caves below! We were surprised by a motion activated waterfall over one of the trails and a Pan fountain that sprayed water at out feet. This might be a good time to mention that if you go, bring a towel, and a change of clothes might be a good idea as well!

Forbidden Corner
Underground tunnel
Forbidden Corner
Axe man
Forbidden Corner
Top view of glass pyramid
Forbidden Corner
underground view of glass pyramid
Forbidden Corner
Cute little Pan sculpture
Forbidden Corner
Not so cute when he catches you by surprise and drenches you!

.

A BIT OF HISTORY

Originally built as a private folly park for the exclusive enjoyment of friends and family of Mr. C. R. Armstrong CMG, OBE in 1989 through a series of events and evolving ideas The Forbidden Corner began to take shape and evolve into what it is today. First the firs were planted to shield the Tupgill stables, then a tower was built to view the beautiful Coverdale Valley. As the construction of the tower was under way a suggestion was made to build a grotto. During the building of the grotto heavy rains filled the 25′ deep hole, so then a tunnel had to be dug to empty the hole and then to make matters worse an underground spring was discovered. Well, I bet you can guess what all that water did to the dirt walls of the tunnel and grotto, yup, that was one huge mud puddle!

The following year saw the stabilizing of the grotto and the tunnel walls. The building activity and creativity started to take off then with ideas flooding in from all around the world as to what to add to make it what it is today.

In July of 1994 The Forbidden Corner was officially opened to the public with about 100 showing on opening day. Since then, several features have been added to the park, such as the Green Man and the Faucet Tower.

The Forbidden Corner was so much fun I would highly recommend it as a must see if you are in the Yorkshire Dales! Treat your family to a days adventure of exploring mazes, tunnels and labyrinth and when your little toes are tired and you need to rest your feet take a break in their cafe and have a slice of their very delicious carrot cake with a cup of tea and then meander their gift shop for unique finds and trinkets to take home to remember your day!

2015 Opening Times: Everyday 28th March – 31st October then Sundays until Christmas. Monday – Saturday 12 noon – 6 pm (or dusk if earlier). Sundays and bank Holidays 10 am – 6 pm (or dusk if earlier). – See more at: ADMISSION AND HOURS

A fun anniversary gift!

I love old books. I have said that before, but they are just so cool! Sometimes it is difficult to read an old book in the romance, fiction or literature genres just because of all the “thees” and “thys” and other formal old English verbiage they used then. I have found myself having to look up some long forgotten words that have accumulated dust whilst being stowed on the proverbial bookcase of antiquities and oddities of long long ago.

For our anniversary my husband found a fun and unique book for me during our travels to the UK this summer titled “The practical Home Handywoman”, a book of basic principles for the self-reliant woman dealing with all the problems of home-making and housekeeping. This book is right up my alley and so qwerky it made me laugh to think that there was an instructional book on how to be a “handywoman” and not “handyman”! There is no copyright date, but from the pictures it looks like it was published in the 50’s.

how to care for a pram
how to care for a pram

I was actually impressed by the variety of subjects it covered, from “cookery”, decoration and re-decoration (remodeling) to dressmaking to household management, first-aid maintenance, simple carpentry.

How to arrange furniture
How to arrange furniture

There was even a section on domestic animals, how to choose, care, feed dogs, cats, birds,goldfish, even farm animals such as ducks, chickens, rabbits and goats! It gives instructions for “disposal” if you can no longer keep it.

If an owner of an animal can no longer keep him, he should take him to an animals’ home or a veterinary surgeon, or find a new home. He should not turn the dog or cat out or deliberately lose him—so much misery is caused by this procedure.

There is even a blurb on “castration” which we now call neutering. It says that “it (castration) should not be performed on a dog except, and only, in the case of illness because dogs are affected mentally if this operation is performed. With a cat it is different, as the mentality of the cat is not affected in the same way”. What?!?…..

Ok, well, maybe the animal section is not your thing and you are more into learning how to cook. Let’s just flip to the “cookery” section and learn some “cookery terms” such as farce (forcemeat), what is forcemeat you ask… well that is breadcrumbs, chopped herbs sometimes mixed with chopped meat or flaked fish, in other words, stuffing. So this year lets farce the turkey….. that just sounds wrong! Another term you may not be familiar with is aspic, a savory jelly. A savory jelly, I would be interested in some of those recipes.

how to cook
how to cook

Now that we are up on our terms, lets talk about the oven or “cooker” as the book describes it. The book talks about several different types of ovens, the coal-heated oven, gas (regulo and mainstat), electricity. What I thought was interesting was that it told you how to tell if your coal oven is hot, moderate or slow heat by laying a white sheet of paper in the oven for 5 minutes. If the paper becomes brown it is considered “hot”, pale golden then “moderate”, or pale buff or biscuit then “slow”. The book goes on to instruct how to cook vegetables, what to do with cold fish and even….. what to serve with soup. Really?

Like I said in the beginning, I love the qwerks you find in old books! Who would have thought that someone might not know what to serve with soup!

basic carpentry
basic carpentry

Quick stop for nibbles and tippies          

rose petal and botanical infused cocktails at The Botanical Pub
rose petal and botanical infused cocktails at The Botanist Pub

We have done so much and been so many places!! I have so many stories to tell from exploring alleys to sheep herding at a B&B to hanging out at pubs with our sons! Right now we stopped for a quick nibble and tippies at this awesome place in Chester, England called The Botanist. Love it!

 sausage and chips
sausage and chips