It’s not all doom and gloom round here. While our lives may have been turned upside down, we’re working really hard at actually living it. So with that in mind, we booked a mini break. When I say mini, I mean minute – 30 hours in a town 15 miles from home. Does that count as a break? I think it does when you check into the grandest hotel you’ve ever stayed in (courtesy of www.myhotelbreak.com). The Magestic in Harrogate (yes, the one where Agatha Christie supposedly rocked up after disappearing) is undergoing refurbishment. There’s builders and decorators all over the place and scaffolding up one wing of the building. But it didn’t spoil our enjoyment one bit.
The room was comfortable, the bed even more so. The included-in-the-price cocktail was very nice indeed, and the evening meal was fabulous. There wasn’t much in the way of vegetarian options, but what there was made up for that. I had courgette and mint soup, followed by sage and butternut squash gnocchi, both of which were delicious. It’s rare I’m knocked out by restaurant vegetarian options, so that something of a compliment.
We could have gone out for the evening, but to be honest we were knackered, so we stayed in and caught up on a bit of telly. Nowt wrong with that.
Breakfast was impressive. I do like a breakfast buffet. We were a bit overwhelmed by the choice and ended up having 3 breakfasts each. Fruit, fruit and yoghurt, Danish pastries, French pastries, more fruit, toast, hash browns, more hash browns. I had the decency to add grilled tomatoes and mushrooms to the plate just so that people didn’t think I was some kind of hash brown addict. I am, by the way. The only thing I would fault them on is the tea and coffee. There we are in the home of Taylors and Yorkshire Tea and I get offered substandard tea and instant coffee. But since you can never rely on a decent decaf (I’m horribly allergic to caf) I had a stash of tea bags in my luggage. Look, while a decent cuppa these days seems like a basic to get right, it is a small quibble, given what we did get, and for the money. Anyway, we ate enough to still not be very hungry at 6pm!
A late checkout gave me the time to have a wander round the grounds. Very nice in the sunshine, it’s going to be lovely when all the reno (hark at me going all millennial with my abbreviations) is done.
So, into Harrogate. We are capable of spending many hours doing not very much, especially in a town with so many charity shops (note: we managed to spend 4 hours in Maryport once, so we know we can kill time). But neither of us are capable of much walking these days, so 6 charity shops in we stopped off for a cuppa in a greasy spoon, which seemed to double as a Chinese restaurant. This is more like what we are used to. From the sublime to the … normal I think.
By 5.30 we were in the pub. I’ve been meaning to come to the Blues Bar for years and years, and not quite making it. Which is silly. I mean if there’s one pub in the whole of Yorkshire where they’re guaranteed to be playing my kind of music, it’s the Blues Bar. We didn’t stay late enough to see the live set, but we did get to try their ‘Yorkshire Tapas’. Like I said, breakfast was still sitting on my stomach, but I managed a blue cheese fondue and some chips without too much bother. If you go, and if you like pubs, blues music and good food I recommend you do, bear in mind that Yorkshire tapas portions are not like Spanish tapas portions. They are huge, and filling, and pretty good value for money. We headed home early like the old crocks we are.
So that was our mini break. Probably not what you’d call a great adventure, but cocktails and a posh hotel are not to be sniffed at on a Tuesday night. We had a fabulous time.
The cocktail-dinner-bed-breakfast at The Magestic deal is still on at www.myhotelbreak.com as I write. The café, if you want something soothingly downmarket is on Cambridge Road, kind of opposite St Peters church. The Blues Bar is on Montpellier Parade. I think it gets busy on weekends but you can book a booth. We had no problem parking – with plenty of Blue Badge parking spots (it was mid week though) and on street parking by meter or app if you are without a blue badge. If you fit as a fiddle and don’t need a car or a blue badge, Harrogate is very easy to get round on foot and the train station is a hop skip and a jump away. We considered it, but hops, skips and jumps are not our forte.