How Florence Found: The Elan Valley

Its been a long time coming this post, but with the bank holiday looming and people planning last minute getaways or day trips out, I thought it was a good time to share what Pete and I got up to when we went away to Wales.

I’ve already written about The Drawing Room, the absolutely fabulous boutique restaurant with rooms that we LOVED and I would highly recommend, so do head on back there and have a look if you’re looking for somewhere to stay locally. In the mean time, here’s a few tips on what to do in the area.

The Elan Valley
The weather wasn’t brilliant while we were there, windy and a bit rainy, (hey, what’s changed in 4 months?) but after a ridiculously filling breakfast, we needed to walk off the excess and headed off to The Elan Valley to see the reservoirs and spectacular dams.

You can walk around all of them, but here is a map of the southern most reservoir, Caban Coch, which we intended to circumnavigate. On the day the wind was so gusty it blew our hats away and almost blew us over, so we opted for the lazy option, walked up the side of the dam and then drove to the next one to take photos! That was more than enough!

Gigrin Farm – Red Kite sanctuary.
Half way through our trip around the dams we wanted to get out of the wind and decided to check out the local Kite Sanctuary at Gigrin farm. I had my camera and fancied trying to take a few clever pictures (hopeless) and wherever Pete and I go we seem to do animal activities. It was fascinating as a big tractor brought a scooper full of meat and it was shovelled all over the field. The Kites circled, waiting, then swooped in to steal the meat. They were enormous and there were so many of them! Feeding is at 3pm March – October and it costs £4.50 to visit, or £2.00 for a child.

After Gigrin we headed back to the reservoirs to finish at the most northern dam then, grateful for the warm car we went back to The Drawing Room to get ready for dinner and warm up.

Hay-on-Wye
The next day was Sunday and we were leaving and planning on visiting Baileys Home and Garden (click the link to read all about it.) Although we were heading north, it was actually quicker for us to drive south then take the motorway back up north than return the way we came down the A roads.

On route to Baileys, we stopped in Hay-on-Wye, a town famous for its literary festival (held at the end of May if you’re in the area) and bookshops. It was well worth a wander and we stopped in several shops perusing the first editions and curiosities. There were also a number of map shops with very old maps and lithographs and junk or thrift stores. We picked up a map of Southport in the 1940’s for my step-Dad’s birthday for £8.

After that it was Baileys and home, after a very relaxing weekend. The area is so beautiful, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.

Do you know anywhere local that you can recommend or have you been to any of the places I have mentioned? Do share any trip tips you have for the rest of the readers…

Love,
Rebecca
xo

My Month…

It’s nearing the end of January (and it hasn’t been that bad after all with Florence to help you through now has it?) So it’s time I shared a bit of ‘behind the scenes’ info in the shape of my Instagram snaps for January.

  • Wardrobe rehab – watch out for more on this coming soon, Florence’s tips on how to clean up, clear out and get ready for the new fashion .
  • Healthy Eating with English Apples
  • My Friday Frock with animal print Topshop tights.
  • Red and orange nails – (my sister wearing Leighton Denny and Me wearing Nails inc.)
  • Shopping for boots, J.Crew and leather at The Outnet.
  • Bertie shoes for work and play, in the sales.
  • Walking in the Elan valley, Wales.
  • Michelle (the mastermind behind these party ideas) and her friend Jayne at Pete’s party.
  • Healthy (fat free) frozen yogurt with blind eye brownie bits 😉 for a desperate chocolate treat.
  • Tabby… posing for you all with her spotty tummy.
  • And lastly a sneak peek of Pete’s party, more to come soon!

So, what were the highlights of your January? Have we made it more bearable?

Love,
Rebecca
xo

PS Pop back this afternoon for a Real Room makeover!

Recommended: The Drawing Room, Wales

New Years resolution #1 in the Norris household was to get away more. Not necessarily somewhere fancy or exotic, but to spend more quality time together. This week Pete is 30 and we have several different things planned to celebrate, but I wanted us to go away together too. In our lives there is no greater gift than time together, but because of the plethora of other things organised, it couldn’t be a luxury trip. After what has become a customary first stop on the Mr and Mrs Smith website, I found The Drawing Room, a restaurant with rooms which looked perfect for some serious relaxation.

After a frantic exit from work on Friday we headed off from Manchester at 5pm burning up the tarmac towards Builth Wells and the Brecon Beacons in mid Wales. After a very slight misnavigation due to the new road that has been built relieving what was previously the main road outside The Drawing Room, we pulled into the car park desperate for a drink and some Friday night R&R. As soon as we got out of the car, the comforting smell of a wood fire drew us towards the stylishly inviting front door.

Our hosts could not have been more welcoming, and they appeared wearing chefs’ whites to instal us in our room where we were left to get ready for dinner.

I had opted for the largest room, and the most expensive, Oliver, which is £120 a night. Completely decked out in Laura Ashley with dark wood furniture an iron bed and a cranberry coloured feature wall, the decor felt warm and welcoming but very smart. The highlight was the bathroom, my reason for choosing this room, decked out in fired earth ceramics with a roll top bath. Although small in stature, it was again very cosy with its heated floor and flooded with light.

All in all the perfect place to unwind.

Guests are asked to come down to dinner half an hour before their booking time, when you are served canapés and olives with your pre dinner drinks. We shared a gorgeous Viognier that evening and really enjoyed sinking into the sofa in front of the fire before being called to our table.

The Drawing Room has only 4 rooms and 4 tables in the restaurant but it is set up in such a way that you don’t feel overly aware of the other tables present and certainly don’t feel self conscious. The kitchen is open adding another dimension to dinner as you can see the owners beavering away, the picture of calm efficiency. The menu is £35 for 3 courses (3 choices for each course, including fish) and preceded by the chef’s velouté. We eventually made our way to bed stuffed, a little tipsy and slept like the dead until 9 the next morning.

I always judge a hotel by its breakfasts and The Drawing Room rose to the challenge admirably. Alongside the usual egg dishes, there was poached haddock and homemade muesli or porridge with honey. A big fan of both, I enjoyed the porridge the first day after asking for fresh fruits with it instead of honey, but was blown away by the muesli the next day. Pete of course did the manly thing and had the full English (or should I say Welsh?) breakfast with very impressive French toast.

After exploring the local area (more to come on this in another post) we spent another couple of hours warming up in front of the fire with a tea tray and leafing through the extensive selection of magazines and coffee table books before making full use of the double ended bathtub and splashing out on some bubbles to start the birthday celebrations. Dinner was fabulous again and we managed to drag ourselves upstairs, no doubt several pounds heavier, to watch a film.

Overall, it was the perfect cosy choice for a low key weekend that involved a lot of doing nothing, no schedule and some serious down time accompanied by fantastic food on site. I’d wholeheartedly recommend The Drawing Room if you’re looking to escape for an occasion, fancy exploring mid Wales or enjoy a foodie break. Every aspect of the rooms, service and food was excellent.

Have you been to or heard of The Drawing Room or does it sound like the kind of place you’d like to visit?

Love,
Rebecca
Xo

Rebecca booked The Drawing Room via Mr and Mrs Smith
The-Drawing-Room.co.uk
Tel: 01982 552493

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