Monday, 1 February 2016

Cagney On Tour: Oulton Hall, Leeds

Spa stays and mini breaks are what my dreams are made of, well that and wedding day panics so when an email landed in my inbox inviting the family and I to Oulton Hall*, a spa and golfing resort in Leeds I was immediately texting Craig for potential lets go dates, retail worker woes. Now if you've read Cagney on Tour posts before you'll know I like to include an abundance of photos but thanks to all the precipitation coupled with a teething baby I managed to get very few so you'll have to use a pinch of imagination or check out Oulton Hall if you don't believe me when I say this hotel is something else. Steeped in history and dating back to the 18th century Oulton Hall has been everything from a business retreat to a military hospital and even an asylum before becoming the hotel that stands today, if only the walls could talk...

Welcomed by all of the grandeur one expects of a Hall - think sweeping staircases, gilt framed portraits and a grand piano to boot we found our way to the spa cafe to enjoy a light lunch pre check in. Arriving at a spa zone with a seven month old baby can go one of two ways but thanks to the amazing Ashley I felt at ease - not only did she provide us with a spoon for Sadies lunch after I quickly realised I'd forgotten to pack one she also dashed over with a bowl for a smooth lunch time delivery. These may sound like incredibly simple tasks to those without children but I'm yet to encounter a more perceptive member of staff full stop. For those not eating Ellas Kitchen pouches we opted for bento boxes; Craig a British one and I the Asian choice. Mine was delicious, packed with chicken, noodles, ginger yoghurt and an asian inspired slaw while Craigs was a simple English picnic - think cheese sandwiches, ham terrine, chutney and the thing I was most envious of, a jam scone. My only critique of the spa cafe would be that I'd love to see it serve smoothies, as a slave to the NutriBullet I must say I missed my fresh fruit fix and with the gym facilities a stones throw away I bet members would lap these up.

After our lunch pit stop we took a guided tour of the hotel where I fell in love with the elegant decor of the drawing room where butler accompanied dining is an option, eat your heart out Downton Abbey. The sumptuous drawing room leads to the opulent chandelier filled champagne bar which was somewhere I could have happily whiled away an afternoon with my friends. Next we had a sneak peek of one of the private rooms available for weddings or events and we were instantly transported to Las Vegas complete with airport check in and sparkling Vegas signage (a business was hosting the coolest belated Christmas party ever). Before retreating to our bedroom to unwind and more importantly unpack we were shown the alpine lodge inspired Claret Jug, the clubhouse for the onsite golf course. Now golf has never been my bag but I could certainly start showing an interest to hang out here. Think roaring fires, antler light fittings and more slate and stone than you could shake a stick at. We got the impression seven month old babies weren't the norm at the Claret Jug so maybe one for a date night as non-golfers can enjoy brassiere style dining here too.

With a weary baby in hand (I can't tell you the number of times I said naughty teeth this weekend) we finally checked into our bedroom and instantly felt at home, with a blended spectrum of neutral tones, floral wallpaper, velvet chairs and the biggest bed you've ever seen room 117 did not disappoint. Spoiler alert, the bed was incredibly comfortable and the pillows? Let's just say other hotels need to take note. Oh and did I tell you about the dreamy taupe hexagonal bathroom floor tiles? No I did not but I can confirm they were pretty spectacular. The only thing missing? A heated towel rail but that's just me being picky.

Now for where Oulton Hall excels itself, the spa. This is definitely somewhere I didn't feel comfortable taking pictures but go and have a perv at the sedate interior here. Craig and I had a 25 minute treatment each and we both opted for the back massage, I was just about to nod off when my massage came to an end. It was that delightful. My therapist had a three year old herself so was fully aware of the backache you get carrying a young one so really concentrated on getting rid of those unruly knots in my neck and towards the top of my back, what a star. Sadie and I then waited for Craig to have his massage before we all went for our first family swim. The pool was fairly quiet by this time (about 6.20pm) so we only had to share it with two others. Watching Sadie laugh and giggle at her first swimming experience was the best and I even managed to get a few lengths in all whilst starting longingly at the hot tub. Props to Oulton Hall for the swish family changing rooms, a sentence I never imagined I'd utter but what a difference they make when you're attempting to get a baby in and out of a swimming costume.

After the speediest shower and change known to man we headed to the Calverley Grill for dinner. The restaurant has a masculine formal vibe and I instantly felt a smidge underdressed in my faux leather mini and stripy top from Olive. Nevertheless I thought I better up my fancy with a glass of prosecco, when in Rome... For eats I chose the goats cheese & beetroot tarte for starters while Craig opted for the salmon terrine. I immediately had food envy at Craigs pick and while I enjoy goats cheese at any occasion I found my starter a touch disappointing. Thankfully both our mains were spot on, Craig opted for melt in the mouth beef and I the pumpkin ravioli. We rounded off proceedings with the chocolate truffle and cheese board. I love chocolate like a fat kid loves cake but my choice seemed to lack a certain somethin' somethin' while Craigs cheese board won best in show. With full stomachs and a sleeping Sadie we retreated to our first floor abode for a good nights sleep.

Now this is the part where my review comes to an abrupt end as Sadie and I enjoyed a rather lovely lie in while Craig popped down for breakfast Sunday morning. Craig cemented his keeper status by bringing me back not only a full English breakfast but also an orange juice and a bowl full to the brim with yoghurt, fruit and granola. While breakfast was tasty, even more so for me as I enjoyed it from the comfort of our huge bed Craig did say there was only one hot plate in action so there was a rather large queue for all things hot. Personally I'm surprised a four star hotel doesn't offer an a la carte option for breakfast, think of all those poached eggs that could be Instagramed OH. 

That said I can honestly say my little family and I had a fantastic break at Oulton Hall and if you're planning on visiting Leeds soon but don't fancy being amongst the hustle and bustle of the city centre I can't recommend Oulton Hall enough especially if you're enjoying a romantic getaway or a girlie get together. 

Have you ever stayed at Oulton Hall before? Do you love a spa mini break as much as me?

*Craig, Sadie and I were guests of Oulton Hall, all thoughts and opinions my own.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Mixing Wardrobe Staples

Pale Pink Trench Coat: Topshop
Striped Jumper: Olive
Blue Scarf: & Other Stories
Faux Leather Skinny Jeans: River Island
Leopard Print Boots: Warehouse
Alexa Satchel: Mulberry
Sound the klaxon, it's time for my first fashion post of 2016 and you may have noticed it's been a long time coming, shamefully my last outfit post was two months ago. Sharing outfits has always been my absolute fave and it's the main reason I started Cagney and Lace but lately I've been uninspired by my seemingly samey samey wardrobe - with Spring and my honeymoon fast approaching I've started adding pieces to my collection and today it felt like a good time to capture my ensemble and get the Olympus out.

First let me introduce you to three new items that have entered my life, step forward the pale pink trench, striped knit and blue scarf. Topshop is often full to the rafters with trend led garms so I was shocked and delighted to discover this blush coloured beauty earlier this week. Trench coats are one of those timeless numbers that elevate the simplest of looks so I'm always happy to add another to my stash. Next up is the humble striped knit, that fail safe wardrobe essential that is perfect for those don't know what to wear days. Finally welcome the softest blue scarf which I gravitated towards in a recent visit to & Other Stories, believe it or not I used to wear all of the blue when I was a teen so after a few years off it's time to say hello to fifty shades of blue. Rounding off my look I added my favourite faux leather skinnys, well loved Alexa satchel and the comfiest leopard print boots around.

Today may have been the perfect Sunday - Sadie slept 10pm until 10am giving me time to get ready for our trip to John Lewis to compile our wedding gift list (eeeee it's really starting to happen). After a cake and latte break we headed back to my mum and dads for a Sunday roast before walking off those calories as a family. Bliss.

What have you been up to this weekend? Do you enjoy mixing wardrobe staples?

Friday, 15 January 2016

Exploring Space NK York

For a long time Space NK has been my happy place, that destination store that I have to find whenever I'm in a new city so you can imagine my glee when I discovered a store was finally coming to York. I can't tell you the number of times I've visited York ready to hit up my favourite beauty boutique only to remember there isn't one so walking through those newly painted doors I had a real 'about time' moment. Located on busy Davygate sandwiched between Hobbs and Accessorize you can't miss the beauty and lifestyle mecca complete with an elevated luxe interior - think the usual chic Space NK interior you know and love but with modern finishes and sleek new signage, LOVE. 

Visiting on opening day (the 10th December) I was treated to a mini make over by Space NK artist Grace - check out the results on Insta. One of the best things about Space NK is the breadth of brands available, don't get me wrong a make up counter refresh is always awesome but it's so much better when the artist isn't forced to push just one brand, the end result is more considered and reflective of your own make-up bag. With so much beauty knowledge at my finger tips I asked Grace which brand she'd use if she could only pick one and was surprised to discover the answer was BECCA, a brand that's now at the top of my to try list. When it came to skincare Grace and PR maven Jini agreed Sunday Rileys Luna was the best thing since sliced bread, I managed to get my Cult & Smith painted mitts (SO worth the hype) on a sample so watch this space for my thoughts.

I've been a huge fan of Space NK Leeds (my local store) for a long time but I think it's safe to say my heart has been won by another - York has all of the brands from Margaret Dabbs to the aforementioned Sunday Riley and Cult & Smith plus amazing and knowledgable beauty lovin' team.

So when are you planning a visit to York?

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Oh Hello New Year: 2016

With life going at unimaginable speed right now I thought it was about time I stole a moment, fired up the MacBook and penned a chatty new year post. We may already be racing towards the middle of January but I'm yet to make note of my New Years resolutions and it's becoming a bit of a time honoured tradition here on Cagney and Lace (read last years here). 

Since the arrival of Sadie life has been equal parts amazing and bewildering and while I wouldn't change a thing some days I'd love for a bit of Hannah time so one of my goals for 2016 is to grab moments for myself with both hands. It's too easy as a new mum to negate make-up and reach for the joggers but I'm determined not to lose the essence of Hannah or forget to look after myself. 

Speaking of image one thing at the top of my agenda is a capsule wardrobe. If you're a regular around these parts you'll have heard me mention my wardrobe a hundred times so now I've got a mould free one I'm determined to fill it with clothes that I adore, can easily be mix and matched and most importantly scream me. First up, my honeymoon wardrobe. Watch this space... 

Another thing I'm determined to become this year is tidy and organised. I feel like I'd have more time on my hands if everything had a proper place and I didn't have to hunt high and low every time I needed to find a pair of Sadies socks or my striped jumper (it was in my Mulberry suitcase in case you were wondering). While that Marie Kondo book might have a coffee cup ring on it I understand the premise and need to start practising what she preaches. 

Finally I want to document 2016 the best I can - whether that be with developed photographs, blog posts or with iPhone snaps. This year I'm marrying my best friend, going on honeymoon and celebrating my baby's first birthday. These are huge milestones that I want to remember forever and look back on, whenever I fancy with fondness.

2016 I think you're going to be a goodie.

Have you made any new year resolutions or set any goals for 2016?

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Underneath The Christmas Tree

First of all let me wish you a very happy new year! I I trust you're following my lead by scoffing the last of the festive foods? I'm talking chocolates, cheese and all of the pickled goods. Which begs the question why do picked onions only come out at Christmas? I think we need to start a petition to make them an all year round snack. 

I've been itching to get my annual what I got for Christmas post up as a final hurrah to 2015 but festive fun, baby Sadie and wedding planning has truly taken precedence so here you have it, just a few days later than planned. As always I'm beyond grateful for all the gifts I received and the selection I'm sharing came from a mixture of loved ones, family and friends. 

Jo Malone screams Christmas to me so I was thrilled to get a beautiful cracker especially after I've coveted one for a few years.

Luxe beauty buys are always well received and so are personalised gifts. I found the coaster in my stocking from Craig and it made me smile from ear to ear as it's something silly I say to Sadie.

I love Alice in Wonderland and even had an Alice themed 21st birthday party so this china cup is so me. I'm sure a cup of salted caramel hot chocolate will taste even sweeter from this cup.

I may have let out a little scream when I opened the Olympus Pen. 2016 is the year I will improve my photography so I hope you'll agree that todays snaps look pretty swish.

Have you ever seen a sweeter filled copper basket? Nigella, White Company cashmere socks and Origins ginger goodies - my kinda heaven.

It may be a new year but Kez still likes to photobomb. The huge polar bear was a Christmas gift of Sadies but it's snazzy neckwear is all mine. Faux fur perfection non? 

I had no clue I was going to receive this rose gold Charlotte Tilbury make-up bag but I've welcomed it with open arms. It's the perfect size for my upcoming honeymoon, eeeeep!

The boy did outstandingly well as always - introducing my new aviator style jacket from Olive Clothing with a rather creased Hush t-shirt peeking out underneath. The perfect additions to my 2016 capsule wardrobe which I'm determined to build.

Did you have the most amazing Christmas break? Which present were you thrilled to receive? 

Sunday, 13 December 2015

My Stylish Mum

My Mum: Mottled Cream Roll Neck Jumper: Daxon* / Black Coated Skirt: Daxon* / Leopard Print Moccasins: Daxon*
Me: Contrast Raglan Roll Neck Jumper: Topshop / Faux Leather Skinny Trousers: River Island / Navy Gazelles: Adidas via JD Sports

Since becoming a mum on the 28th of June I've developed a new understanding and appreciation for my own mum, not that I haven't always thought my mum is the bees knees but when you become a parent yourself it's a whole different ball game. You realise just how much your mum goes through - late night feeds, broken sleep, challenging teething times and I'm only (almost) six months in. Mums are expected to be awesome from the get go and often with little recognition, Mothers Day is only once a year so whenever I can treat my mum it happens. So say hello to a Cagney and Lace momma takeover thanks to the lovely guys at Daxon* who sent across some threads for my mum to sport along with a Bobbi Brown makeover in Browns, York - not that she needed it. 

I'm sure you'll all agree my mum is a serious natural beauty and can you believe she was nervous about me taking her picture? Crazy! I'm head over heels for the mottled cream roll neck jumper, so much so that I'm tempted to 'borrow it', it looks beyond snuggly and I love the balance of such an oversized knit with a fitted faux leather skirt. For me this is such a day to night look as you could easily pop a lace top underneath the jumper and switch the cute leopard moccasins for a pair of heels and voila you're all set for drinks with the girls. I took these pictures in the beautiful Royal York Hotel after a Christmas shopping meets hello-new-Space-NK-store stay but more on that another time. It's the first time I've been away with Sadie sans Craig and it was also our first train journey, thankfully the whole trip went without a hitch and both my mum and I had the best time.

Yesterday my friends and I took a trip to Alcatraz as part of Sheffields Great Escape game cue serious giggles, oodles of logic and orange boiler suits. Thankfully we managed to escape (with four seconds remaining) and all lived to tell the tale. I'd love to say today will be as eventful but sadly not, today Craig and I are preparing for the arrival of our builders tomorrow to sort our mouldy wardrobes once and for all, hallelujah.

Do you remember to say thanks mum? What do you make of my Cagney and Lace takeover?

*PR Samples  

Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Cagney On Tour: Ox Pasture Hall Hotel & Scarborough

One of my favourite things to do is travel, to me there's nothing finer then discovering a new place, eating locally sourced produce and generally just escaping everyday life, indulging in a spot of dreaming so when the team at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel Scarborough invited the family and I for an overnight stay we packed our cases faster than you can say mouldy wardrobes.

Scarborough is a place neither Craig or I have visited since we were children so we were eager to explore and happy to take a nostalgic trip down memory lane (more on that soon). After a later than planned set off #babylife we arrived in the centre around 2.30pm, thanks to the fading sunlight I didn't get any camera snaps but check out my Instagram where I captured our bloomin' delicious lunch at EatMe Cafe, somewhere I'd been told to visit on Twitter. My veggie burger was beyond tasty, the chips were possibly the best I've ever eaten and the hot chocolate, well that was something else. The staff were incredibly friendly too, a must visit if you pop to Scarborough. Before we departed for Ox Pasture Hall we took a stroll down to South Bay sea front, only to be severely sandblasted as we walked past arcades and ice cream parlours. Definitely one for better weather.

With sand absolutely everywhere (how does that happen?) we jumped into the car and after a speedy ride we found ourselves pulling into Ox Pasture Hall Hotel*. The first thing that amazed me was the sheer contrast that Scarborough presents, moments ago we'd been dazzled by neon signs and arcade sounds and now we were surrounded by farmland and countryside. We were warmly welcomed at reception and check in passed with the blink of an eye, before we knew it we were back outside being shown to room 23. To call our accommodation a room is an understatement, we opened the door to a palatial open plan suite with a cosy living area before discovering two televisions, a huge bedroom with travel cot for Sadie and the piece de resistance, a spa-like bathroom with the biggest tub you've ever seen complete with his and hers basins. We immediately felt at home and got cosy, some of us more than others.

Up there with travel is dining out so when you can combine the two you're winning. Warm welcomes clearly come as standard at Ox Pasture Hall as Craig, Sadie and I were shown to our table at the Courtyard Restaurant with a greeting of prosecco, my kinda hospitality. The menu was a diners delight and so it should be as Scarboroughs only restaurant to be awarded two rosettes for culinary excellence. After much deliberation we decided on rabbit terrine, beef cheek and crumble for him and scallops with chicken wings, lemon sole and the most dreamy chocolate fondant for me. As if three beautifully plated courses weren't indulgent enough Craig and I were also treated to an amuse bouche of trout on filo pastry pre starter (just delightful) and before pudding we were served a refreshing palette cleanser of pina colada sorbet. Both Craig and I relished every single plate and couldn't recommend the restaurant at Ox Pasture enough, the chocolate fondant was the stand out dish for me while Craig couldn't get enough of the melt-in-the-mouth beef cheek. With stomachs full to the brim we retired to our suite for a good nights sleep.

Even with Storm Desmond raging outside family FW slept well and it was a real relief to see the angry wind had finally ceased Sunday morning. Before packing up our bags we headed back to the Courtyard for a hearty breakfast of poached eggs, sausages, bacon and tomatoes for me and additional black pudding for Craig (one item of food that I just can't stomach thanks to a tale told by my brother many moons ago). Watered and fed we decided to take in the beautiful views and woodland charms of Ox Pastures seventeen acres. Set in the North York Moors National Park there's plenty for the eye to behold but with a trip down memory lane ready to start we bid adieu to Ox Pasture Hall and headed off to Scarboroughs North Bay.

Scarborough is a town of two halves, South Bay is the perfect place to while away a rainy day with old school arcades, hot sugared donuts and kiss me quick hats while North Bay is the charming, mature counterpart with pretty coloured beach huts, a historic castle and a famous tombstone to boot. On arrival Craig and I took a sleepy Sadie up to the castle meeting a mini Cagney and generally horsing around enroute, anyone for press ups? Our uphill jaunt quickly had us reminiscing about childhood holidays, me remembering scrap booking each Summer (early blogging right?) and Craig visiting Scarboroughs open air theatre for sing-a-longs of the birdie song with his granddad. Arriving at St Marys Church where Anne Bronte is buried I was struck by how peaceful and serene the morning had been, I could definitely make seaside town walks a Sunday ritual. 

Once we'd devoured our slice of culture for the day we were ready for some real sustenance so went in search of hot chocolates and the classic seaside must have, fish and chips. With after eight hot chocolates in hand thanks to Peaches n Cream, a quaint seafront tearoom we pushed a sleeping Sadie onto the beach to admire the adorable beach huts. Walking on the beach reminded Craig and I of the magical time our feet last touched English sand when Craig asked me to marry him in Norfolk and now it's just over four months until our wedding, doesn't time just sail by? Just before the sky started to turn all the shades of grey we completed our tour of North Bay with a stroll through Peasholm Park admiring the Japanese dragon boats and finally making a cheeky detour to the open air theatre to reminisce about past family holidays via the cute as a button miniature railway which I've no doubt Sadie would love when she's a little older.

With Christmas approaching faster than the miniature railway our overnight getaway to Scarborough was the perfect anecdote to what can become a stressful time of year, December mini breaks are definitely the way to go and not just for festive shopping. I was also pleasantly surprised by all that Scarborough has to offer, not just for young families but for couples too. England you never fail to amaze me.

Have you ever holidayed in Scarborough? What do you make of Ox Pasture Hall Hotel? 

*We were guests at Ox Pasture Hall Hotel, all country hotel thoughts my own.
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