Liverpool is a great city with loads of character and we spent a couple of days here with my lovely aunt and uncle who put us up at a moment's notice and really looked after us. We saw the amazing new Liverpool One shopping centre, the vibrant Albert Dock and my little boy had his hair cut by my cousin Benjamin Huthwaite at his ultra-cool men's salon. The best thing was spending time with family and catching up with lots of my cousins and their abundance of beautiful children.
It was ages since I'd been in London, one of the cities that always excites me most and a place I used to visit several times a year until I became a settled old mum and less of a party animal! The first night we were there we made a beeline for our all-time favourite pizzeria, Pappagone in Finsbury Park.
Much of our second day in London was spent lazily picnicking and playing in Hyde Park. It was such a lovely warm and sunny day that I was actually a bit pink from sun exposure by the end of the day. We strolled for hours, enjoyed a beer at the Lido Cafe, people watched, and it was just bliss.
Coming up North from London we visited a Tudor stately home, Hardwick Hall. This is the stunning residence built by Bess of Hardwick, a name rarely uttered without the preceding adjective 'formidable', and she certainly was an intriguing, strong female historical figure. It was great to learn about her and her connections to both Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots. What a remarkable woman and also what a marker and reminder of her status in her vast and beautiful home here in Derbyshire.
York is a city I visited in my childhood and enjoyed then primarily because of my enthusiasm for the Vikings (I know, geek alert). I had remembered York being beautiful but wow; it is idyllic. Romantic, gorgeous and saturated in historical interest, I don't think anyone could fail to fall in love with York.
The National Railway Museum in York is a wonderful visitor attraction and it was a must see for us because my son appears to be turning into a little trainspotter, and indeed he loved the museum. Choo choo! I love the romance of train travel and for me the interiors of old steam trains, including the opulent royal carriages of Queen Victoria and King Edward VII, were utterly captivating. The Flying Scotsman is amazing too. I highly recommend a trip to this museum which is a great family day out and is free. Brilliant!
A great National Trust property just outside or on the outskirts of York is Beningbrough Hall. This must be the most child-friendly Trust property we've visited thanks to its playroom, dressing up, interactive galleries and extensive gardens with tons of play equipment. Not only is it a beautiful stately home, but we were made to feel so welcome there as a family.
The little prince.
Beninbrough is an 18th century house where RAF troops were stationed during WW2, and parts of the house are dressed to give a real sense of how the house would have felt when it was requisitioned for this use in the 1940s. Stories in the exhibits encourage you to imagine young men freezing at night in their army cots, and racing around the grand halls on bicycles and even motorbikes by day. A very evocative old house in a beautiful setting.
We have really had a very nice holiday packed with so many fun activities. Do you like holidaying close to home too? I'm always looking for new places to visit so suggestions are welcome!