Here in Skipton, we welcome a lot of tourists to our little market town and it is often cited as one of the best places to visit in Britain because of its independent shops and eateries. I’m lucky enough to review a restaurant, pub or cafe most months for Aspire, the Skipton-based lifestyle magazine that I copy-write for so it seems logical to share the reviews here on my blog so they might help a visitor to choose where to eat. It was in May that I had the pleasure of going to a newly relocated cafe in the centre of Skipton…

Helene’s Tearoom is on Coach Street, close to the
canal basin in Skipton. There are several tables on the ground floor and more
downstairs on the lower ground floor which opens out into a secluded outdoor area,
so there is more to this little tearoom than first meets the eye.  

Helene’s is very much a family affair. Helene
and her mother Janet do the baking and cooking and her husband Billy looks
after the order system and the business
affairs. The family wanted to create an experience that makes their customers
feel like they are taking tea in a friend’s, (or Granny’s), sitting room and
they have achieved just that. The carpeted floor, embroidered linen table
cloths and mix of floral crockery are charming and give a feeling of comfort
and nostalgia. Music from the 1960s adds to the atmosphere and it starts conversations
between customers when they cannot help but sing along.

My 15 year-old daughter Poppy and I were
invited for afternoon tea. Our table was beautifully set and we were offered
tea and coffee on our arrival which came in ceramic floral pots. 

Review of Helene's tearoom, Skipton. Afternoon tea.

Our tea was presented by Helene on a three-tier wooden teacup-shaped stand. I have never seen such pretty, gorgeously presented food. There was a selection of dainty sandwiches including smoked salmon and cucumber, ham and Wensleydale and local chutney. Each sandwich was light, very fresh and was made up of two different types of bread. There were slices of asparagus quiche which was delicious and bursting with seasonal flavor.

Afternoon tea at Helene's tearoom, Skipton

Afternoon tea at Helene's tearoom, Skipton

Review of Helene's tearoom, Skipton. Afternoon tea.

Afternoon tea at Helene's tearoom, Skipton

The cakes were a sight to behold, each like
a work of art.  Individual passion fruit
trifles in tiny glasses and giant fluffy scones filled with clouds of fresh
cream sat alongside slices of chocolate-orange marble cake. Light as air
individual Victoria Sponges and generous slices of carrot cake, Helene’s
speciality, were simply too good to resist. Each was as delightful as the next,
but perhaps the most original was Janet’s lavender and lemon sponge. The
combination of flavours and dried lavender within the sponge conjured up
thoughts of a lazy hazy afternoon in the Provençal sunshine. The tantalizing flavours, wonderful service
and the quaint presentation made for an absolutely perfect afternoon.

Afternoon tea at Helene's tearoom, Skipton

Afternoon tea for two costs £19.95 and must
be booked in advance. Light snacks and cakes are served throughout the day and
jacket potatoes and sandwiches are served over the lunchtime period.

Love Liz x

Helene’s Tearoom

21 Coach Street

Skipton

BD23 1LH

07729 397493

www.helenestearoom.co.uk

For details of what I’m wearing:

Please See: Winser London pink knitted jacket, broderie top, skinny jeans and pink brogues.

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School’s out for summer and I’m as excited as my children are, who after a very long and busy half term, finished on Friday. I’ve always been the same, I love having them around and have never ever ever wished the school holidays away. Time passes so quickly and in a blink of an eye they’ll be off to university- something about which I can’t bear to dwell on for too long and it’s my privilege as their mother to have them around.  Of course, the lengthy summer break brings with it childcare issues for many families and while my teenagers, (my daughter is 15 and my son is 13), are old enough to come and go as they please, working from home brings its own challenges too, particularly if they want their friends round, something which I have always encouraged and welcomed. 

So, how to work from home during the summer holidays with (teenage) children around? 

Well, as for anyone who is self-employed and/or working from home, discipline is the key. It’s tempting to stay in bed a little later, especially when the children in question are teenagers and will naturally sleep in later than they do on a school day. There is no sense of urgency unlike a school morning and this, I’ve found, can be contagious! I’m a naturally early riser and capitalise on this by looking at emails first thing and writing a list of that day’s tasks. I do the essential housekeeping such as emptying the dishwasher and putting a load of washing on. I work at the table in the kitchen-dining area and I can’t concentrate unless the kitchen is clean and tidy. At the end of the working day, I put all associated paperwork and paraphernalia away in a cupboard to signify that I have finished for the day and to ensure that it’s safe and doesn’t get lost, damaged, spilled upon etc.

I try to keep up with my gym routine. During term time, I go as soon as the children have left, (they are old enough and live close enough to school to walk themselves), so I start my working day proper post-shower upon my return, feeling both energised and virtuous. Weather permitting, I walk through the park to the gym, so ensuring I get at least some fresh air (something it can be easy to forget about when based at home). I do a shorter workout when the children are at home but it’s important for me to fit some exercise in.

Stopping for lunch is something I must try harder at, day to day. I always eat but don’t always stop working to do so. In the holidays, I set a time for lunch and make sure the children know. It’s a great way to “touch base” with them, to catch up on their morning. I try to eat outside whenever possible because I enjoy it, but it also saves clearing the decks if working from the dining table as mentioned above. I like to know they have eaten properly and it’s part of my job as a mum to ensure this. That being said, if they are out with their friends and want to get a sausage roll and a bottle of Lucozade from Greggs (a culinary favourite of both children and their fellow teens across the nation it seems), I’ll happily give them two or three squid to do so. It is the holidays after all. 

I aim to finish work at 5.30pm but if the children are out with friends, I work a little later. Being flexible is key here. But assuming they are home, I tidy my work away and prepare supper for us to eat together. Homework-free evenings means time to catch up on films so we have each written a list of what we’d like to watch. Charity shops are a great source of DVDs and also books of course, and we are going to have at least two movie nights per week.

We’re going on holiday abroad for a week but I’d also like some days out upon our return so I am actively trying to schedule them in. That way, we know to keep those dates free and have even more to look forward to. A mini break to London is top of our list at this time. 

Above all though I accept and embrace the fact that my routine will be a little bit different for the duration of the summer holidays. My magazine work and my optometry column are non-negotiable, are deadline driven and pay the mortgage, so they are the priority, but the other branches of my work, namely my blog and its associated social media and Lizzy O, my online jewellery business might have to take a back seat for a short while. Because no mother ever looked back and wished she’d posted more on Instagram.

So to summarise…

-Get up at the same time as you would during term time and do this on each and every working day.

-Write a to-do list.

-Ensure your workspace (especially if it’s in a communal area), is clean and tidy before starting. 

-Continue to workout and exercise as normal (in fact continue as normal with any hobbies).

-Take a twenty minute walk.  

-Stop for lunch and eat with the children. Or let them eat out in town with their friends. 

-Finish work at a set time and tidy everything away.

-Make the most of homework-free evenings. Make a list of  DVDs and watch them together. With popcorn. 

-Schedule some days off and decide in advance where to go and what to do on those days.

-Set aside a half-day to get new uniform, shoes etc as early as possible in the holidays. Ditto haircuts, dentist appointments and eye-tests.

-Bloggers and small businesses- use apps to schedule social media shares. I’ve recently started using the brilliant IFTTT for several aspects of this and have been using Buffer for Twitter a few months. Both are intuitive and have made a huge difference to me and my time management. (Read this popular post about time management and doing it all while staying sane). 

-Above all enjoy. Make the most of every moment with these wonderful young people and embrace the change in routine. Celebrate anything and everything.

So yesterday heralded the start of the summer holiday and the children and I had lunch with my brother and his family. We went to The Woolly Sheep Inn in Skipton and had a walk around the town. I wore my pompom midi dress, one of my favourites from last year and one I teamed with tattoo tights and nude heels in spring in what proved to be a very popular post. Skipton’s cobbles mean that flats are a sensible option, so tan sandals were the order of the day.

 & Other Stories cream pompom midi dress

& Other Stories cream pompom midi dress

& Other Stories cream pompom midi dress

& Other Stories cream pompom midi dress

wordsearch table

Burger on ciabatta at The Woolly Sheep, Skipton

& Other Stories cream pompom midi dress

I think it’s clear that I love the holidays.

& Other Stories cream pompom midi dress

Love Liz x

Outfit details:
Cream pompom midi dress, & Other Stories, past season
T-bar heart and freshwater pearl bracelet, £49, Danon at Lizzy O
Leopard print and diamante wrap bracelet, £12.50, Lizzy O
Hummingbird watch, Olivia Burton, past season
Tan leather sandals, Boden, past season

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Linking with:
I Will Wear What I LikeVisible Monday/Shoe and TellBrilliant Blog PostsFun Fashion FridayTop of the World StyleTurning Heads Tuesday

Hasn’t it been glorious these last few days? Finally, finally, we’ve had some hot weather here in the UK with wall to wall sunshine (plus the odd clap of thunder), and I absolutely love it. Around the house and in the garden, I’ve been wearing shorts with sleeveless, loose tops, but we’re not used to it and it can be hard to know what to wear for work, meetings and appointments in hot weather. 

To me, a dress is the obvious choice- loose fitting but with some structure. For such occasions, I’m more comfortable when my shoulders and chest are covered. These also happen to be my most sun-sensitive areas and despite being incredibly vigilant with high SPF suncream, they often still go a little pink. I actually find this happens more when there are straps and necklines involved as they tend to rub it off, rather than when sitting on a beach in a bikini where I can spray over and over without fear of ruining clothes and without missing bits. Covering these areas gives me one less thing to worry about when out and about.

Choosing a natural fibre helps too of course. This dress is composed of Tencel, a fibre about which I wrote in my post about eco-fashion last month, (which was very well received and is currently the most read post of the month). It’s by eco-brand Braintree but is from an independent shop here in Skipton. The botanical print did more than catch my eye, it positively hit me in the face. The colours, the flowers, the works. Tencel is lightweight with beautiful draping properties and remains almost crumple free and because of this I think I’m going to wear it to fly to our holiday destination next week. 

The nature of my work means I can wear sandals, but if it did need to be a little more formal, a pair of nude or tan mid heeled court shoes would be ideal. 

Ethical fashion Braintree botanical floral print dress with tan sandals and Mulberry bag. Over 40

Ethical fashion Braintree botanical floral print dress with tan sandals and Mulberry bag. Over 4

Ethical fashion Braintree botanical floral print dress with tan sandals and Mulberry bag. Over 4

Ethical fashion Braintree botanical floral print dress with tan sandals and Mulberry bag. Over 4

My bee bracelet is the perfect fauna for this flora. It’s by Israeli brand Danon which I sell on my accessories website Lizzy O. If you sign up to my monthly blog newsletter, you’ll get an exclusive discount code which is valid for all items on there for two weeks after receipt. I send them out on 1st of each month, so just pop your details in the box in the right hand side bar beneath the collage of the jewellery. The silver angel wings drop earrings below are also by Danon at Lizzy O.

Danon jewellery Swarovski set bee charm bracelet

Danon jewellery angel wings earrings

These bracelets are from Bella Jane Jewellery. Run by fellow mum and business woman Annabel Davies, this was one of the very first brands I collaborated with and I still wear the bracelets frequently, especially in hot weather because they’re lightweight and feel “barely there.”

Ethical fashion Braintree botanical floral print dress with tan sandals and Mulberry bag. Over 4

And my bag. Well this bag is a bag for life, (read Michelle, RetroChicMama’s post about her shoes for life), saved up for and purchased during what now seems like a completely different life. This beautiful Mulberry bag sometimes feels like it’s an imposter because its fellow designer accessories went the same way as my large country home, my Land Rover and my wedding ring two and a half years ago. I’ve been tempted to sell it on several occasions because my new life is so different and I need nor want any mementos of the former. It’s simpler now, more real and infinitely happier. However, over the years this bag has worked hard for me and has earned its keep and I suspect it will end up being a bag for my daughter’s life too (as she hastily reminds me whenever I mention selling it!)

Ethical fashion Braintree botanical floral print dress with tan sandals and Mulberry small Bayswater cookie cutter bag. Over 4

Ethical fashion Braintree botanical floral print dress with tan sandals and Mulberry bag. Over 4

Love Liz x

Outfit details:
Amelie botanical floral Tencel dress by Braitree at From The Source, currently reduced to £59.90
T-bar Swarovski crystal set bee bracelet, £29.95 by Danon at Lizzy O
Silver angel wings earrings, £19, by Danon at Lizzy O
Silver bracelets, from a selection at Bella Jane Jewellery
Pink watch with diamante face, Next, past season
Flat tan sandals, Boden, past season
Small Bayswater Cookie Cutter Satchel in oak, Mulberry, past season

Remember to follow along on Instagram and Facebook too.

Linking with:
I Will Wear What I LikeVisible Monday/Shoe and TellBrilliant Blog PostsFun Fashion FridayTop of the World StyleTurning Heads Tuesday