Susan and Callum’s Summer Wedding at West Tower Manor House, Lancashire

June 29 2018

Venue – West Tower Manor House, Lancashire

Flowers – The Flower Studio, Manchester

Ice Cream – Ice Cream Dub

The weather in June in the UK can be anything really – cold, wet, sunny, warm – take your pick.  I guess I probably thought that the warm and sunny option was unlikely when I first met with Susan and Callum to discuss their plans but as the heat wave continues in the UK, it turned out to be a very warm and a very sunny day.  On this occasion my camera bag packing list included sun screen… It’s not often that makes the cut!  I’ve still not figured out if booking the ice cream van (Ice Cream Dub) was as a result of the bride and groom’s sixth sense for what the weather was going to be like or if they also understand (as I do) that there is in fact no bad time for ice cream and it would still be appropriate if it was cold and rainy.

West Tower is a lovely place for a wedding – no wonder it has won so many awards.  For six years in a row it has been voted the County Brides North West Wedding Awards Best Wedding Venue.  I love that Susan and Callum and their family and friends had the place to themselves and were able to wander around the grounds (in between the ceremony, dinner and dancing) finding ice cream, shade and thirst quenching beverages at the bars. Apparently air conditioning was one of Callum’s *mustcriteria when they were searching for a wedding venue and I have to admit, that was a welcome relief throughout the day from the sun and warmth.  Well done Callum.

Susan is probably one of the most organised people I know so the day ran like clockwork.  I enjoyed my time with the girls while they got ready in the beautiful bridal suite watching the guests arrive on the lawn downstairs.  The ceremony was simple and pretty with bright yellow flowers from The Flower Studio injecting a real summertime vibe.  Another highlight for me was Callum and his speech – that little waver in his voice when he turned his attention to Susan gave me goose bumps… even in the heat.  The sunset was also something pretty special.

Here are a few of the pictures that we took– Simon was very capably shooting with me throughout the day again.  I am always grateful for his perspective and  company.

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Hardened campers…?

We had our inaugural camping trip of the year this past weekend when we went to Gibraltar Farm in Silverdale, Lancashire. The Telegraph rated this website as one of the top 20 best coastal campsites so I thought it was worth a shot.

We were a little afraid when we saw the weather forecast for sub-zero temperatures and snow but didn’t think about changing our plans… We’ve camped when it’s been cold before and the van is warm and cosy. We travelled up the M6 on Friday morning via a shopping stop at Carnforth and a walk at Warton Crag.  Warton Crag is a limestone hill which is part of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.  It was the site of an Iron Age hill fort and there were lots of paths around to keep us entertained for a  few hours.

We were really pleased when we arrived at our campsite and found a pitch with an amazing view looking across the sheep fields out to the sea. We settled in and got the heater and electric blanket going.  We did note that the other occupied camping units on the site seemed to provide quite a few more home comforts compared to Frank so we patted ourselves on the back for being hardened campers.

We had a lovely walk the next day along the Silverdale coast.  On the way back we ended up walking through Eaves Wood and found the Pepperpot. The Pepperpot was built in 1887 to commemorate the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria and the views were quite something from its perch on the ridge. The weather was cold and windy but despite a few snow showers, it was quite dry and the cold ground meant it wasn’t very muddy.  However, the temperature was even lower on night two… Stella’s water bowl froze over as did condensation in the front of the van.  Our little heater was just completely overwhelmed by the sub-zero temperatures.  We got in our sleeping bags at 6pm just to stay warm  and it was at that point that I made the executive decision to book a hotel for the next and last night of our weekend!  So much for hardened campers, right…?!

So on Sunday we got ourselves packed up and went for another walk heading north this time to Arnside. Arnside is a lovely little village with some nice shops and seemed to be very popular with groups of walkers.  Despite the temperatures, I still had an ice cream along the prom although I think the few people we passed might have thought I was a little crazy.

Once we got back to the van we headed south to Morecambe and the Midland Hotel. What a treat this was for us – it would have been a treat anyways because it was such a lovely hotel but because we’d been so cold the previous two nights it was like a little piece of heaven.  With the exception of the fancy restaurant, the whole hotel is dog friendly.  It has a great art deco style and an amazing central staircase.  Our room had a huge bathroom and comfortable furniture and was lovely and warm!  I can’t go on enough about how nice this hotel was.  Our stay there also gave me a chance to do a little reconnaissance for a wedding I’m photographing there in July.  It’s going to be great and there are some great places for photos!  We had our evening meal in the bar and breakfast the following morning was great too.  After a little walk along the prom we headed back to the Birkenbub.

And most importantly – the reason for this adventure was to celebrate our anniversary. We always try and go away for our wedding anniversary and most of these trips away have been camping – with a few cottages thrown in for good measure/warmth.  (Next year might be a cottage!) Happy Anniversary to Paul – 8 years married and he still loves me (so I tell him) and still makes me laugh. J

Last camping trip of the year

We had a sneaky night away in Frank a couple of weeks ago to Rivington. Rivington is not too far away from us in Lancashire but it was our first visit to the area.  We arrived Saturday morning and took a (rather wet) walk through Rivington Country Park.  This park includes Rivington terraced gardens which were designed and built at the turn of the 1900s by Lord Leverhulme of Lever Brothers/Port Sunlight fame.  Originally the park contained a boating lake, a zoo and a castle folly.  It was a foggy day so when we were walking it was really neat to see what sort of structure would next emerge from the fog – a bit like a voyage of discovery.  There were some lovely terraces, towers and archways to explore.

Another great find along the way was the Rivington Village Green Tea Room (www.rivingtonvillagegreentearooms.co.uk). When I saw the sign I didn’t think about going in as dogs aren’t usually allowed in tea rooms.  Thankfully Paul had done his research and not only did this place allow dogs, it allowed muddy boots and muddy walkers too so we were allowed in too!  The place had a really nice, relaxed and inclusive atmosphere.  There were a couple of wood burners going, a few dogs lurking under the tables.  Banoffee Pie was my treat of choice whereas Paul had a Chip Barm… Carb overload.  We stayed for a while in the hope that the rain might go off but Stella decided it was time to go before that happened…

Our campsite was on a farm just outside the village of Rivington (www.wilcocksfarmcaravansite.co.uk).  Paul had knocked up a nice stew which we had for our evening meal accompanied by some cherry scones.  It was a windy night on the farm but we woke up in the morning we woke up to a beautiful clear sky.  We realised we had nice views across the fields behind the farm.  The campsite wasn’t very busy so Stella stretched her legs with a game of tennis balls before we packed up and headed home.

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There are lots of picturesque reservoirs around the area and a maze of footpaths. We didn’t make it to the top of Winter Hill which is on Rivington Moor either so we definitely will be scheduling in a trip back in that direction.

1st camping trip of the year

I was really delighted to enjoy our first camping trip of 2015 this past weekend. It was all good really.

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Our destination was Silverdale which is on the Lancashire/Cumbria border. I think our campsite was in Cumbria but the village of Silverdale is actually in Lancashire so we crossed back and forth a few times over the course of the weekend. We had been to the area before in November last year when we did a very long challenge walk. Although the distance of the walk on that occasion didn’t thrill me, I thought that we walked on some lovely paths and had some beautiful views in a relatively quiet and untouched part of the world. Hence the revisit.

We arrived on a very wet Friday night but the sun was with us for Saturday morning and our walk of just about 12 miles. Some of the paths were familiar from our last visit but the pace and distance were much more palletable to me. We even had time to stop for ice cream in the charming village of Arnside en route and I was also able to get my camera out for a few pictures along the way. After the walk, we enjoyed a lazy afternoon at the van chatting, eating and then sleeping. Sometimes life seems too busy for this down time. The campsite was very civilised indeed – although it was really set up for static caravans the facilities were very good for us tourers as well. There was a swimming pool, shop, restaurant, bar and games room which would be great if you were visiting with a family on a rainy day.

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On Sunday, it was a bit of a cloudier day but we continued on our discovery of some new paths as well as joining onto some more familiar ones.

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Stella enjoyed the walking, ball playing and watching the action on the campsite. Particularly the rabbits. She made friends with some of our campsite neighbours – although people friends are always better than dog friends. She also thought it necessary to sleep between us at one point on Saturday night – upside down, head on the pillows. This was quite cute except for the fact that the bed is quite narrow for two people – nevermind two people and a dog! Thankfully she got a bit tired of the cuddling and after a short while found her way to her own bed on the passenger seat where she usually sleeps.

Silverdale is a really good place to visit and it’s not far from home for a weekend visit. It might be a while before we head back there as I think there aren’t many walking paths remaining that we haven’t frequented in the past couple of visits, but I definitely don’t think it will be our last trip to this quiet corner of the world.

 

I would walk 500 miles…. Or maybe 21…

This weekend we participated in a 21 mile challenge walk called the Silverdale Circuit in Cumbria/Lancashire.  It was neat to explore a new area of the country and some of the views from the paths we were on were beautiful.  The weather was also very kind to us, however, as with the last challenge walk we did in January, I felt very rushed to finish before it got dark.  This feeling was exaggerated, particularly at the beginning, when there were lots of people around you also seemingly rushing along as well….

In the end I’m pleased we finished so quickly – 6.5 hours and well before the 5pm deadline – but I don’t think I could have walked any faster than that.  I was also happy with the place we stayed in while we were up there which was just a short walk to the start of the walk and I particularly enjoyed the Chinese takeaway we had on Saturday night after the walk.

But please remind me not to sign up for any more of these walks!  I spent a good few weeks worrying about my ability to complete the event in the required time.  I was similarly anxious last time.  Coming up to the event, I was dreading it and although it turned out not be as bad as I thought, I am glad it is over… Another negative was that I didn’t take any pictures which is one of the things I like most about walking – I decided against carrying the camera that distance and I also thought I’d probably be too rushed to stop to take pictures anyways (correct assumption).

On the positive side, I liked the area so much that I have suggested to the Palm Hill planning committee that we might go there again in the summer in the campervan and spend a bit more time exploring.

On the way home, we took the coast road through Blackpool and Lytham St. Anne’s.  That made a change from the motorway although the tide was in so there was no chance of Stella getting on the sand no matter how badly she wanted to…