A one bedroom B&B at Brownieside near Alnick, Northumberland.
A large comfortable bed,a whirlpool bath, great breakfasts and and hosts who go that extra mile-who else would allow you to borrow their SatNav to help you find the isolated inn you have chosen for supper?
Fabulous B&B near Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire. £80 for two for a huge, immaculately decorated room with 12 foot ceiling, sofa, king size bed, extra large bathroom overlooking the garden; walk in shower and large free standing bath. Plethora of towels and quality toiletries. Breakfast in the grand dining room with eggs from the hens in the garden. Superb restaurant (The White Pheasant) a short walk away.
These days Morecambe is a bit run down though with the renovation of the art deco Midland Hotel it may be on the up. But what will never change is the Bay and the wonderful views across to the Lake District. And that's where the Yacht Bay View Hotel scores. A traditional B&B in a four-storey stone built house right on the sea front. Good rooms with big bay windows have uninterrupted views right across the Bay. All the rooms have been renovated. Good comfortable beds, easy chairs to sit, have a cup of tea, borrow the binoculars and watch the view. Even towel dressing gowns to relax in. All for £66 per night per room with a great a la carte, cooked to order breakfast included.
Shieldhall, Capability Brown's family home (he is buried in the nearby pretty church) is Celia and Stephen Robinson-Gay's blisful B&B in the green rolling Northumberland countryside. Very comfortable bedrooms named after the wood used in them (we usually stay in the Oak Room) have ample bathrooms with soft towels. Celia's excellent breakfasts and (optional) dinners, incorporating local and often organic ingredients, are eaten at antique tables or one made by Stephen (an outstanding furniture maker/restorer) among elegant glass and silver antiques. With a sitting room/well stocked library and local walks, Shieldall is within easy reach of Alnwick and Bamburgh castles, Lindisfarne, Cragside, hadriaan's Wall and the Cheviots.
Nestled in the heart of Dartmoor in perfect walking countryside, this converted barn is an idyllic place to stay. From the decorative bantam hens scratching outside to Jenny's delicious breakfasts, the whole place is charming. The two-storey guest sitting room with wood stove in a monolithic chimney breast is particularly lovely. Gorge yourself in the evening at the Ring of Bells in nearby North Bovey and stagger the two miles home along a dramatic deserted bridleway.
Bristol's City Museum and Art Gallery offers a great collection of two and three dimensional art and design from across the world, as well as a wide-ranging archaeological collection of, particularly, objects from Ancient Egypt.
The paintings from the late Nineteenth century and the glassware, ceramics and prints from Asia benefited enormously by a bequest in the late 1940's, from Max Schiller, whose brother, Ferdinand, in addition, collected Chinese ceramics. As a result of this gift the museum has examples of work, for example, by Vuillard, Alma-Tadema and Sisley, as well as glassware from the Tang and Sung dynasties, of great quality. There is much other work of equally high quality including a beautiful Japanese woodblock print of a waterfall by Hokusai.
At certain times of the day and at weekends the museum is full of young children, which is of course an admirable feature but the racket they create can become wearisome. Perhaps like cinemas, museums should arrange noisy days for kids and quiet days for those who want to get close to the art work without being run over or deafened.
There's a good museum shop and cafeteria. The latter is particularly good.
Queen's Road, Bristol BS8 1RL
+44(0)117 922 3599
Google map: bit.ly/f5unHQ
The seaside is the only proper place for a stay in a B&B. The excellent Redcliffe Hotel on Scarborough's South Cliff has it all. Set back from the Esplanade, on leafy Prince of Wales Terrace, it's a short walk to the beach and the town centre. The rooms (some with sea view) are spotless and stylish, with all the extras - such as hairdryer, iron, tea, coffee and Kit Kats. There is a cosy bar and a fabulous first floor lounge with big comfy sofas, books and games.
Ann, the wonderful owner, was born to run a hotel. All her guests return over and over again, and she has entertaining stories to tell that are worth the room rate alone!
Her husband, Brian, makes the best breakfast bar none. The full English is on offer in every combination you could wish for, served with a mountain of toast. Or there's smoked haddock, eggs done every which way and a table groaning with fresh fruit, cereals and yoghurt. All served rather elegantly on thick white linen tablecloths in the charming dining room.
Before she bought Airlie house, owner Jacquie spent years travelling on business and finding out what works and what doesn’t, so the mirrors are at the right height for women to use and there are wine glasses to borrow in the sitting room. What really makes Airlie unusual is that one room is fully wheelchair accessible while still being as stylish as all the others, and you can even bring your dog. The house is immaculate, the breakfast large and the beautiful scenery of the Trossachs is right on the doorstep.
Tony and Olga really make guests feel at home at Strumhor, just outside Oban. As well as the huge breakfasts, guests can also arrange to have dinner in the house. You can sit in the conservatory just watching the Falls of Lora below, or if you’re feeling energetic Tony can take you out canoeing. When we asked one night if it was their open fire we were sitting in front of after our day out exploring he said, “Yes, but on Monday you’ll be at work and I’ll still be here.” Lucky him.
The first thing you see as you enter Edinburgh’s Dean Gallery is Eduardo Paolozzi’s huge Vulcan, a seven metre high Roman fire god made of multi-faceted metal striding among the café tables. The gallery also has a recreation of Paolozzi’s studio: you can stand for hours spotting all the little toys and bits of junk he used for inspiration. There’s an excellent programme of temporary exhibitions too, and Scotland’s best brownie in the café.
Love Picasso? Cezanne? Hepworth? Piper? European and British 20th Century modern art? Chichester's Pallant House Gallery has it all, in a fab modern gallery attached to a gracious 1712 town house. Ancient and modern in one. A dreamy view of the cathedral, friendly staff and volunteer guides, a restaurant overlooking a leafy courtyard garden, a good book shop, art library, talks, workshops and community involvement. Shame you've just missed artists' Christmas cards in the print room, but now you can enjoy Garrick Palmer's wood engravings instead. There's such variety, something for everybody, but without cultural indigestion. Spend an hour or a day here. Stand and stare, be inspired, perhaps even take part in making art.
The most spectacular views from any gallery in Great Britain. Northwards from the glazed rotunda over the shimmering sands of Porthmeor beach where über-cool surfers seem to dance on the crashing waves and east across mediterranean blue St Ives Bay to Virginia Woolf’s brilliant white lighthouse at Godrevy. The St Ives school of painters flourished in the mid 20th Century and their life affirming take on modernism reflected the ancient landscape and wild Cornish sea. Afterwards exploring the narrow lanes of the ‘downalong' fishing community of St Ives or walking the coastal path to magical Zennor you will quickly understand why so many creative people have been drawn to this very special place.
Duckett and Jeffreys is the sort of contemporary modern art gallery you'd expect to see in Cork Street, London, except this is in Malton a small rural market town in the heart of Ryedale, North Yorkshire. It shows solo exhibitions of work by international artists. It truly is a breath of fresh air, and just what the region needs. This gallery proves you don't have to go to major cities to see superb modern art. In fact I'd go on to say it's the best independently run modern art gallery in the north of England.
I recommend the 'Tate Boat' to add an extra dimension to your day of art viewing. You can incorporate the Tate Modern and Tate Britain with a scenic boat trip in the middle. The boats go in both directions every 40 minutes and cost either £3.35 one way with a Travelcard or £5.00 without. If you prefer to make several trips in the day then you can get a Roamer ticket with Thames Clippers for £8 with a Travelcard or £12 without.
www.murallocator.org is a world-wide web of a gallery, to search out murals across the globe. Fascinating murals are on display from the Higgs Boson (ATLAS) detector, in Meyrin, Switzerland to Tupac Amaru Mural of Peru. Five are highlighted in London area, including the stunning Hackney Peace Carnival Mural located outside Dalston East Curve Garden. Dalston Lane is full of hustle, bustle where old and new buildings meet together and the perfect place for this Mural, unveiled by the late Tony Banks in 1985, depicting the Peace Carnival of 1983 and the many issues of the time.
A Londoner from Ireland running a B&B in the heart of Welsh speaking Snowdonia. Warm welcome from former fire fighter Dennis Sullivan with his array of fireman’s axes in reception. ‘They don’t make them like this any more, you know’. Traditional Welsh breakfast served upstairs, from the Aga downstairs, with views over the Vale of Ffestiniog. Across the field the grand house that some say Hitler had earmarked for his Welsh retreat. Instead of giving directions Dennis, with Albert the black Labrador, took me along the lanes and across the fields to the local pub in Maentwrog. Next day we kayaked past Portmeirion. What a host - thanks Dennis.
I found this astonishing shop in Crouch End: Little Paris, which sells only french products. Vintage furniture and decoration accessories, parisian designer's jewels and fashion accessories.
Every item in this shop is so lovely!
You should go and have a look in this piece of France based in the animated area of Crouch End. You will go back home with something, for sure!
A small but lovely modern art collection exists on the upper floor of the newly refurbished Ashmolean Museum. It contains pieces by lesser known artists in addition to lesser known works by famous artists. I was amazed to see Tea Party in America, one of the first paintings by Howard Hodgkin, created when he was just 16! In addition, until 20 February there’s a special exhibition of sculpture by contemporary British artist Thomas Houseago, the Ashmolean’s first collaboration with Modern Art Oxford.
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