Sunday, 28 July 2013

Life on the road

Evenin' all. We just got back from a fairly epic weekend break to North Yorkshire - that's a 600 mile round trip. It was well worth it though. It was my first visit to the region and it is stunning. Beautiful rolling hills, stunning towns and villages... I could have stayed a week... or three.

We were there to visit Andy's family, and they were so lovely and welcoming. Having grown up with family in Greece, I spent most of my holidays there (I know, tragic right) which means there's still a lot of the UK I've not explored. Our trip this weekend opened my eyes to what's out there and I want more!

Talking of something I always want more of, let's get to this week's eatin' and then we'll do a bit of sightseeing, too.

Andy hearted Wednesday's very simple supper - grilled chicken with Greek salad. What can I say, I'm Greek and I know my salads. Win.

Thursday morning's breakfast was overnight 'oats' with ground almonds, Greek yoghurt and berries, ready for my second trip away from the office this week to Swindon, hence an early start.

I had left plenty of time for my journey, and was glad I did, as part of the motorway I needed to take was shut off! Luckily I remembered a cross-country route I could take and, after consulting with a colleague who had some local knowledge, I took a detour. Not a great start to the day, but I still got there in time. It was worth the travel as I had a good meeting there and managed to grab lunch al fresco before I headed back to my office for some afternoon meetings. Leftover chicken with salad hit the spot.

Driving stress and tiredness meant these treats were hard to resist when I got in to work. Sigh. Sugar. Once I start I just don't quit.

After eating approximately 8 million sweets, Real Military Fitness was calling me in a big way. I was disappointed when I arrived to find it was a running class. I don't run anymore and really don't enjoy it. But, I did my best and pushed myself a little. Running on the beach was a killer! Still, I felt better for it, as always, despite finishing off with burpees and running up steep steps. They are trying to kill me, I swear.
After that cray day, dinner was ready in a flash. Flash fry that is. I fried our rose veal steaks and put them on top of fried mushrooms, peppers and onion with some baby plum tomatoes, beetroot and salad leaves. Very simple and tasty - I really enjoyed the veal, which we picked up at the food festival last week.

Friday morning saw the last of the Greek yoghurt and ground almonds being used up for overnight 'oats'. Same as Wednesday, but with a dollop of sunflower seed butter for fits and giggles.

As we were straight off to Yorkshire after work, I'd decided we'd grab lunches out rather than cart dirty tupperware around all weekend. Okay, so we could have washed them. Frankly, I fancied a break from lunch-making duty! I bought a hot smoked salmon salad from Marks and Spencer. It was tasty but very stingy on the salmon. C'mon, I'm used to a whole fillet! I went for a nice long walk at lunch and really made an effort with my steps all day as I knew we'd be stuck in the car for hours later.

So, off we headed just after 4pm and got stuck in loads of traffic. We made it to the Premier Inn Sheffield/Barnsley around 9pm and checked in before heading straight to their adjoining restaurant, the Taybarn. The Taybarn is an all you can eat buffet for £7.99. There's nothing more to say. Gourmet it ain't, but edible it very much was! I especially liked their vegetables in black bean sauce and even got a second helping! I also had roasted veggies, chicken and jacket potato and enjoyed a couple of glasses of white wine. I also had an apple and an Eat Natural bar back in our room a bit later, having rejected the dessert options, which did look pretty good, to be fair.

I was really impressed with the Premier Inn - clean, quiet, bright and spacious. They had a really good dressing table area with a lit mirror. I'd definitely stay again for £48 a night.
We skipped breakfast at £8, though, and headed to the McDonald's over the road. I know! But it was £6 for the two of us and I must say I enjoyed my porridge and pineapple stick!

I'd bought some Pink Lady apples on the way up the night before and munched on one of those a bit later.

Part of the reason we broke the journey at Sheffield was to visit and tend Andy's grandparents' grave in Bolsterstone, a very pretty village on the edge of the Peak District National Park.

Eventually, we arrived at our final destination of Middleham around lunchtime, to be greeted by a fabulous lunch spread at Andy's uncle's house, in the garden. Roast salmon, salad, carrot houmus, potato salad, Wensleydale cheese with ginger (very good)... It was all so fresh and delicious, and was topped off with fresh strawberries and cream. I didn't take any photos, but it really was picture perfect. A little while later we set off to Andy's grandmother's house in nearby Leyburn, where there happened to be a 1940's vintage day on. Marvellous! Despite a couple of sharp downpours, everyone was looking very dapper.

I'd love to have lingered longer, but we had a lot to pack in. After some tea and cake with Granny (I just had an iced coffee), we headed back to Middleham and popped in to the Black Swan pub for a cheeky shandy and a bit of early evening downtime, just the two of us. Perfect.

We then went to see Andy's uncle's beautiful horses before setting off for a late evening stroll back in to town for some supper. We checked out Richard the Third's castle. You know Richard - the one from the carpark? This was his pad. It's right in the centre of town!

We were particularly impressed at how that staircase has survived the ages...

All cultured out, we checked the eateries in the town square and plumped for the White Swan hotel. It was cosy and friendly and had a nice vibe. I was in the mood for potato chips, which never happens, but I went with it, along with salt and pepper fried squid with chilli sauce. It didn't knock my socks off but it was hearty and filled a hole.

Although not quite enough, apparently, as I still had room for dessert! Lemon tart with raspberry sorbet. Again, it was fine, but the base was a bit soggy and the sorbet not as tangy as it could have been. However, it was just really nice to sit in a country pub and while away an evening together.

True to form after yesterday's lunch, Andy's aunt put on a fabulous breakfast spread for us before we left this morning. I had porridge with fruit salad and sultanas, but could have chosen from a range of cereals, muesli, seeds plus eggs, toast and marmalade, all laid out beautifully. She really was so hospitable, and their house backed on to fields and fields. It was so relaxing. We'll definitely head back.
And then, the drive home. We stopped a couple of times. Lunch was an uninspiring affair at the Watford Gap Roadchef. This ham, cheese, egg and coleslaw salad cost £5, but did actually taste okay. I also had a soy iced capuccino from Costa and a Nature Valley ginger bar.

It's nice to be home and I'm looking forward to some cleaner eating in the week ahead, not to mention a walk later this evening. I've also decided I need a fitness goal to motivate me... Andy's aunt an uncle are real outdoor types and have inspired me. Any ideas?

How's your weekend been? Been anywhere new?

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