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Days Out | Sissinghurst Garden

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Last weekend we visited the beautiful Sissinghurst Garden in Kent. The garden was created in the 1930s by the writer Vita Sackville-West and her politician husband Sir Harold Nicholson and now is managed by the National Trust. As members of the Bloomsbury set, Vita and Harold were an unconventional couple for their times. There is currently an exhibition about their marriage in one of there barns, well worth visiting to get in an incite into their lives.

Sissinghurst was built from the 15th century onwards but by the 1930s the estate was practically in ruins. About this time the couple looking for a new home, despite some misgivings about the scale of the project they bought the estate and set about revitalising the house and gardens.  What visitors see now is testament tho their hard work and vision for the estate.  The Sissinghurst garden is an outstanding example of early 20th century english garden design.  There are lots of formal elements that Harold designed and then romantic and informal planting schemes devised by Vita.  The whole garden is beautiful and our particular highlights included the world famous white garden, the cottage garden and the nut walk.  Make sure you go up the old tower to get a bird’s eye view of the designs, it puts it all in perspective.

The garden is very popular and can get busy so time your trip accordinally. The Sissinghurst Estate has wonderful views of the Kentish Weald and their are signposted walks if you want to explore further. Being a National Trust property there is a lovely cafe and interesting shop.  They also have a good supply of plants for sale if you are feeling inspired by what you have seen.

Find out more…

Sissinghurst Garden 10Sissinghurst Garden 9 Read more…

6th July 2016

12 of the Best Châteaux of the Loire Valley

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Châteaux Loire Valley

We recently spent a week’s holiday in the Loire Valley, it is a beautiful part of France and home to some of the best Châteaux.  They span centuries of French history in a multitude of different architectural styles.  We visited a dozen of the best and here are our thoughts. If you have any questions or suggestions please let us know in the comments.

Château de Villandry

Best for impressive gardens

Château de Villandry

A late renaissance chateau mostly famous for its stunning gardens. The gardens were created in 1906 using 16th century designs. They are by far the most impressive of any of the gardens in the Loire and a must visit of any garden enthusiasts. Discover more…

Château de Azay-le-Rideau

Best for a peaceful retreat

Château de Azay-le-Rideau

Whilst not the grandest or most historical, Château de Azay-le-Rideau wins out with its graceful architecture and peaceful setting on an island in the river Indre. Discover more…

Château d’Ussé

Best for fairytale escapism

Château d'Ussé

If you are looking for a fairy book Château d’Usse is the one for you. The chateau has countless turrets, romantic gardens and is said to have been the inspiration behind Charles Perrault’s version of Sleeping Beauty. The interiors are beautiful if a bit tired around the edges. Discover more…

Forteresse royale de Chinon

Best for military history

Forteresse royale de Chinon

An impressive fortress overlooking the town, now mostly in ruins but was once the home to medieval kings and has links to Joan of Arc. It has a good multimedia exhibition on the history of the kings that built the fortress. Discover more…

Château de Chambord

Best for majestic grandness

Château de Chambord

The largest and grandest of all the Loire chateaux with stunning renaissance architecture and a stately presence.  Built by François I as a royal hunting lodge, albeit one with over 400 rooms. In the centre is the chateau’s famous double helix staircase, reputably designed by Leonardo di Vinci. Discover more…

Château Royal de Blois

Best for gory history     

Château Royal de Blois

In the center of Blois the Château Royal has a bit of a split personality architectural speaking, with medieval, renaissance and classical wings.  It has been the site of some important events in French royal history, including a bloody murder sanctioned by King Henri III whilst he hid behind the tapestries. Discover more…

Château de Cheverny

Best for classical beauty

Château de Cheverny

A practically perfect proportioned chateau. Built in the 1630s in the French classical style, Cheverny is the epitome of elegance. Famously it was also the inspiration for Marlinspike Hall in the Tintin comics, it has an exhibition to this link in the grounds. Make sure you visit the kennels in the grounds, Cheverny hunt’s 70 fox hounds live here and are a joy to behold. Discover More…

Château d’Angers

Best for medieval history

Château d'Angers

A foreboding city center fortress was once home to the powerful Dukes of Anjou. Built overlooking the river Maine the chateaux was strategically very important in the early medieval period. It is also home to the awe inspiring Apocalypse Tapestries house in purpose built galleries added in the 1950s. Discover more…

Château de Chenonceau

Best for feminine elegance

Château de Chenonceau

Known as the Ladies’ Château due to the prominent women that built and looked after the place.  It is an extremely elegant Château that gracefully spans over the river Cher.  It has a fascinating history from medieval kings’ mistresses right up to WWII, the château spanned the border between occupied and free France. Surrounded by beautiful gardens make this one of the most enjoyable in all of the Loire valley to visit. Discover more…

Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Best for inspiring gardens

Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire

Seemingly a perfect medieval château, Chaumont-sur-Loire was built as a defensive fortress in the 14th Century, although it was quickly developed into the renaissance style and was significantly renovated in the 19th Century. It has gorgeous views over the Loire, and wonderful gardens that are well worth exploring.  Each summer the International Garden Festival is held in the grounds, worth a visit.  The château and grounds also houses some excellent contemporary art. Discover more…

Château Royal d’Amboise

Best for impressive views

Château Royal d'Amboise

Majestically located on a rocky outcrop overlooking the charming town of Amboise.  Not much is left of the once impressive château but in the remaining rooms you still get a sense of the royal splendour from the 15th and 16th centuries. Make sure to visit the chapel of Saint-Hubert where Leonardo da Vinci, who lived in the nearby Clos Lucé, is buried. Discover more…

Château de Saumur

Best for storybook silhouette 

Château de Saumur

Situated high above the genteel town is the fairytale Château de Saumur, mostly built in the 13th century on the site of an earlier fortification it has a graceful silhouette with plenty of towers, pinnacles and chimney stacks. Discover more…

We've been discovering the best Châteaux of the Loire Valley.
22nd June 2016

Days Out | Hardwick Hall

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A couple of weeks back, when driving north for the weekend we stopped of at the gorgeus Hardwick Hall in Derbyshire for a look around. We wanted to break our journey north somewhere and scouring the map we discovered Hardwick Hall, it was about halfway on our drive and only a few minutes away from the motorway junction. It made a very welcome break, it was a perfect bit of escapism!

Hardwick Hall 7

Hardwick Hall is an Elizabethan country house created by the indomitable ‘Bess of Hardwick’ one of the richest women in the country. Bess was born into a minor gentry family but with a succession of advantageous marriages ended up an incredibly wealthy Countess residing at Hardwick.

At Hardwick there are two building, the ruins of Hardwick Old Hall and the breathtaking Hardwick New Hall.  The old hall, started in 1587, was built on Bess Father’s estate. The new hall was started in 1590 before the old hall was even finished. They were intended to compliment each other, akin to being two wings of the same building.  Over time the old hall went to ruin, and was partially pulled down, it is now a romantic ruin.  Despite it being in ruins there is still plenty to see, including climbing to a timber viewing platform to view some of the surviving plasterwork and to enjoy some spectacular views.

A short walk away at Hardwick New Hall, Bess’ wealth was on display for all to marvel at.  The house has an abundance of glass windows, an expensive luxury at the time. The turrets are topped with the initials ES for, Elizabeth Shrewsbury, the Countess of Shrewsbury, Bess’ full name and title.  Such a grand house takes time to appreciate, there are many highlights including the long gallery and the High Great Chamber.

Looked after by The National Trust there are a couple of well presented exhibitions about previous residents of Hardwick Hall.  This first is about Lady Arbella Stuart, Bess granddaughter with royal blood and a potential heir to Queen Elizabeth. The second is about Evelyn, Duchess of Devonshire the last lady to reside here. Evelyn saw the world change from stuffy Victorian society into the swinging sixties. She was an hands on countess and a lifelong friend of Queen Mary, acting as her mistress of the robes.  We loved finding out about the history of these two fascinating ladies and their time at Hardwick.

The gardens and grounds surrounding the hall offer plenty of excuses to get outside.  There are various marked walks around the estate, offering beautiful views off the Halls and of the Derbyshire countryside beyond.  We also stopped off at Standby Mill located on the estate, which shows how a 19th century flour mill would have worked.

We found a beautiful spot on the estate near the mill to have our picnic, but being a National Trust property there looked to be a very lovely cafe near the house. If you are in need of something stronger, Hardwick Inn, a traditional pub is located by the south gate to the grounds.

Hardwick is a fascinating and beautiful place, situated in a glorious location.  It has easy access from the motorway and plenty of things to see and enjoy. We loved it.

Find out more at The National Trust and English Heritage

Hardwick Hall 8
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Hardwick Hall 4
Hardwick Hall 3
Hardwick Hall 2
Hardwick Hall 5

Orchard Blog | Hardwick Hall
7th June 2016

Orchard Escapes | Exploring the Yorkshire Coast

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We have recently returned from a few days visiting Calum’s goddaughter and her family up in North Yorkshire. They live just outside Scarborough, and it makes a great base for exploring the Stunning Yorkshire Coast.  This is what we got up to.


Yorkshire Coast | Whitby

Whitby is a lovely old fishing town, famous for its black jet, it’s ruined abbey and it’s goth scene. The town is split in two by the river Esk, the older town being on the east bank and the new part on the west bank. Both sides are full of independents shops, cafes and pubs making the town a perfect place to while away a couple of hours.

From the old town you can climb the 199 steps to St. Mary’s Church (Calum counted them to be sure they got it right!) and the atmospheric ruins of Whitby Abbey. This offers amazing views over the town. The Abbey was inspiration for Bram Stoker’s gothic novel ‘Dracula’

Historically, the town is proud of being the birth place of Captain Cook.  You can visit the memorial, go to the Captain Cook Museum or go on a boat trip around the harbour and along the coast on the Bark Endeavour, a replica of the HMS Endeavour at 40% Size.

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway starts in Whitby.  The Steam trains take you on an 18-mile heritage route that goes into the Yorkshire Moors National Park ending at Pickering.

More recently, and given that Whitby is a harbour town, it is also famous for its fish and Chips. Our recommendation was for Magpies Cafe although we didn’t get to try it this trip, we will be shore the go next time, by all accounts it is a Whitby institution!

Before we left we bought some local food and drink from Whitby Deli.  We picked up some great Whitby Brewery beers, our favourite being the Abbey Blonde.

Robin Hood Bay

Yorkshire Coast | Robin Hood Bay

One of the most picturesque places on the Yorkshire Coast is Robin Hood Bay, an historic fishing (and smuggling) village located five miles south of Whitby. Robin Hood Bay’s main attraction it is large beach which is perfect for fossil hunting.  You need to park at the top of the town and wander down the steep lane to get there. On the way down you pass charming shops, cafes and pubs.  At the bottom you will find the Old Coastguard Station, a National Trust visitors centre to help you get a sense of the natural history of the area.

There are a couple of welcoming looking pubs near the beach but we decided to have fish and chips form Mariondale Fisheries and sat overlooking the bay to enjoy them.


Yorkshire Coast | Ravenscar

Ravenscar is a tiny village between Whitby and Scarborough has an interesting history dating back to Roman times. After popping into the National Trust visitor centre we headed on one of the self-guided walks. The views are stunning looking north back to Robin Hood Bay but you’ll need to have had your Weetabix as the route is pretty steep!

The Walk takes in the ruins of the Alum works.  Alum was an important chemical in the production in of textiles, used for fixing dyes.  Between the 16th and the 19th centuries the Yorkshire Coast was key to the Alum industry. The ruined works at Ravenscar are well preserved and allows you to get a good idea how the process operated. Should you fancy you can actually rent a holiday cottage here, perfect if you are looking for a remote get away with spectacular coastal views.

In the late 19th Century plans were drawn up to turn Ravenscar into a rival holiday resort to Scarborough. Roads and sewers were put in place in preparation of the growth of the town, but the developers went bust before the scheme could get off the ground.

Ravenscar is also the the highest point on The Cinder Track, a cycle path between Scarborough and Whitby which sits on the route of a disuse railway.


Yorkshire Coast | Scarborough

If you are looking for the quintessential seaside town Scarborough is the place to visit. Claiming to be the country’s first seaside resort, Scarborough boasts everything you’d expect; arcades, donkey rides, fish & chips, plenty of places to eat and drink, and an relaxed seaside vibe.

There are two main beaches in town: South Bay Beach is a sandy beach near the town centre and shelter by the headland. North Bay is quieter but it is also a blue flag beach, meaning it is one of the cleanest in Europe.  We were lucky enough to have the use of one of the North Bay’s beach huts so we spent most of our time up here.

At the end of the North Bay is the Sea Life Centre & Marine Sanctuary in addition to their selection of marine life on show they have the only Seal Hospital on the Yorkshire Coast. You can get to the Sea Life Centre along the minature North Bay Railway. They also have a pirate themed adventure golf course (We are MASSIVE adventure golf fans!)

On the headland between the beaches is Scarborough Castle. This medieval keep is in a commanding location, it would have been a spectacle to behold and easy to defend. The castle is mostly ruined now, but it is great to walk around and learn about the 3000 year history of the site.

Yorkshire Coast | Scarborough Castle

We hope you have found our little guide helpful, if you have any extra tips please let us know in the comments section. For more information of visiting the Yorkshire coast take a look at the office tourist guide website

Exploring the North Yorkshire Coast. Such a beautiful part of the world.
1st June 2016

London’s Best Scandinavian Cafes

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If you speak to us for longer than five minutes you will soon realise we are complete Nordophiles, our love of anything nordic is strong! Luckily for us London has a sizeable Scandinavian diaspora and with that comes a good selection of Scandi food and drink establishments. In the name of research we set out to discover London’s Best Scandinavian Cafes. Coffee and a cinnamon bun anybody?

Scandinavian Kitchen

Scandinavian Kitchen

Centrally located, Scandi Kitchen is our go to place for meatballs, fika and seasonal goodies. They have very friendly staff, and is often full of expats making this a happy and lively place to visit. The cafe also has a grocery section at the rear. Make sure you sign up to their excellent weekly newsletter to keep you up to do date, and with plenty of insight into all things nordic! (hint: they love Eurovision)



A Swedish bakery located in Covent Garden, Bageriet is tiny but utterly charming. An excellent selection of baked goodies and some wonderful staff make this great little stop off if you are in town. We are just waiting for an excuse to buy one of their mouth watering Princess Cakes!

Nordic Bakery

Nordic Bakery

If you are looking for some Scandinavian cool, head no further than the Nordic Bakery. They have three beautifully designed locations in the West End. Open all day, they serve up both sweet and savoury dishes. As is to be expected their bakery selection is excellent, we are particularly fond to their butter buns.



If you find yourself in Bermondsey be sure to head to Hej.  They serve outstandingly good coffee, best enjoyed with one of their delicious cinnamon buns. And their coffee should be good they are self confessed coffee addicts and run a coffee school on the site! Hej has a nice community feel with welcoming staff, a flower stall outside and pets welcome.



Located on Brick Lane, Fika is a cafe, bar and restaurant. Great for weekend brunches, and Scandi inspired dinner throughout the week. It has a great little roof terrace if you want to dine al fresco. They have lovely staff, it really makes a difference when it gets busy!

Cooper & Wolf

Cooper & Wolf

If you find yourself way out east head to Cooper & Wolf.  Located in Clapton, just across from Millfield park, Cooper & Wolf is a bit of a hipster joint with a strong community feel.  The menu has a selection of Swedish favourites including the classic cinnamon buns and some excellent meatballs.

Orchard Blog | London's Best Scandinavian Cafes
24th May 2016

Orchard Escapes | Mini Break in Bath

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This year for Rich’s Birthday we headed down the M4 for a couple of days in Bath. Calum had been previously but this was Rich’s first visit.  It is safe to say we loved the city, and seeing as it is only a couple of hours away I am sure we will be heading back soon. There is lots to do in the city, here are some of our highlights:

Things to do

Audio Walking Tour

Bath|Pulteney Bridge

The City of bath is a UNESCO world Heritage site. To get a sense of the city we downloaded the free audio guide and went on a walk around the sites. We really recommend this, it very interesting and helped us understand more about the history of what we were looking at. The tour takes about an hour, and you can stop off at many of the sites on the way round, or use it as a tool to get a sense of the city and then head back to your favourites later.  They also have a Jane Austin themed audio guide if that is your thing? Download here.

Roman Baths

Bath | Roman Baths

A trip to Bath wouldn’t be complete without a trip to the baths! We headed here later in the day, after the crowds have dispersed, and it was very enjoyable.  The main attraction is the great baths in the centre of the complex but the accompanying museum and audio guide really help you get a sense of the place Find out more.

Bath Abbey

Bath | Bath Abbey

Built as an abbey church rather than a cathedral, but no less impressive. Most of what you see was constructed in the 16th Century in the perpendicular style, making it one of the last flourishes of the medieval gothic style.  The Abbey bridges the gap between the Roman and the Georgian history of the city. Find out more.

The Circus & The Royal Crescent

Bath | Royal Crescent

The jewels in the crown of the Georgian city, and for good reason!  These two complexes were built for wealthy visitors to the city that came to take the waters at the baths. Well worth wandering up to. For a peek inside go to No1 Royal Crescent where they have decorated in a style from the late 18th century. Find out more.

Prior Park

Bath | Prior Park

A short walk to the south of the City is Prior Park Landscape Gardens. You may wish to take the bus out there as it is uphill and there is no parking at the site.  The gardens were developed for wealthy local businessman Ralph Allen in the 18th Century in the fashionable landscape style of the time.  The gardens are situated in a sweeping valley, with views of the city beyond. One of the highlights is the Palladian Bridge, which is one of only four remaining in the world. Find out more.

Food & Drink…

As we just had a couple of days in Bath we didn’t really get to explore as much of the bars and restaurants as we would have wanted.  There is a huge range to choose from, here are our thoughts.

Burger & Barrels

A short walk from the centre, over the river is Burger & Barrels. A tiny place that serves the best burgers in the city (officially they won the Bath Food Award!) and has a good range of beers. Suited us down to the ground!

Boston Tea Party

So it turns out that the Boston Tea Party is an independent chain of cafes originally from Bristol and now with branches all over the west country.  We went to their newly refurbished Alfred Street location for breakfast. Good atmosphere, good food, good start to the day!

The Griffin Inn

A small pub on Monmouth Street, The Griffin Inn has an excellent selection of craft beers, and very enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff. Well worth stopping off for a pint.

Bath Brew House

A large craft beer pub with an excellent selection of beer including some they brew themselves. The Bath Brew House also has a brewery tour if that takes your fancy. It also has a large garden if the weather is nice.

Pierre Bistro

Another chain that I had never heard of before (mainly because they don’t have any locations in the South East),  Pierre Bistro is a light and airy French style bistro on George Street. Open from Breakfast to dinner, we headed here for lunch.  The food was fantastic, as was the service; it was very good value for what you get!


Bath | Shopping

We didn’t really have enough time for shopping, but on wandering around the city it is clear that Bath has lots to offer.  The High Street chains are clustered around Southgate, there are a good selection of high end interior shops on Milsom Street, and dozens of independent shops scattered around the place catering for every taste.  Might have to head back here for our Christmas shopping!

Have you been to Bath? What were your thoughts, do you have any tips? We’d love to hear them.

Bath | The Circus Bath | Roman Baths Orchard Escapes | Bath

Orchard Blog | Bath Minibreak
17th May 2016

Days Out | Petworth House

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The weather was so lovely on Sunday we decided to head out for the day.  Making the most of our National Trust membership we fired up their rather useful app and started browsing where to go.  We settled on Petworth House, it had been on out ‘to visit’ list and was only about 45 minutes away. So off we set!

Petworth House is a rather grand seventeenth century mansion set in the beautiful South Downs. The house was built in 1688 by Charles Seymour, 6th Duke of Somerset. It contains some amazing works of art, including works by JMW Turner who was a frequent visitor to the house. There are many highlights to a tour around the house, but our favourites were The Marble Hall, The North Gallery and The Chapel, which is a remnant of the previous house on the site.

The parkland was created by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown in his typical English Landscape style. As it is the 300th anniversary of Brown’s birth Petworth has a series of events and exhibitions to celebrate. There are mapped walks around the park, and plenty of picturesque places to stop and have a picnic. We did just that, sat in the Pleasure Gardens near the Doric Temple, amongst a carpet of bluebells.

After the house and gardens we had a look around the servants quarters, housed in a separate block. It is fascinating to see the scale of the ‘downstairs’ that was required to keep a house such as Petworth functioning. In the servants quarters is the ‘back door’ of the house into Petworth Town. Well worth a little wander around.  There are plenty of cafes and antiques shops to keep us happy!

Find out more on the National Trust website

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Day out | Petworth House
10th May 2016

Orchard Escapes | Weekend in Stockholm

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In 2015 for Richard’s Birthday we headed to Stockholm for a long weekend. We are both massive Nordiphiles and this trip just cemented our love for the north. Stockholm manages to be charming and historic, but also exceptionally cool and fashionable. A winning combination that makes it a perfect destination to spend a long weekend.

We stayed in the Östermalm district, close to some of the most upmarket shops and restaurants and only a short walk from Gamla Stan (the Old Town) and Djurgården. We had an amazing time, here are some of our highlights.

Things to do…


Stockholm | Skansen

Probably one of our Highlights or the trip! Situated on Djurgården, Skansen is part zoo, part outdoor museum. It has about 150 preserved houses and building moved from all over Sweden, many of the museum staff are in period attire and help give a great insight of how Swedes used to live. It is huge and you could easily spend all day here. We learnt about Swedish wildlife, folk traditions and sampled local food. Find out more.


Stockholm | Vassmuseet

On Djurgården is a museum dedicated to a massive fail! The Vassmuseet is the home of the 17th century warship the Vasa. The Vasa was the flagship of the Swedish navy, but within minutes of setting off on its maiden voyage in 1682 the top heavy ship sank. Preseverd by the cold Baltic waters the ship was salvaged in the 1950s and moved to the custom designed Vassmuseet in the 1980s and is brilliantly exhibited. Well worth a visit. Find out more.

Nordiska Museet

Stockholm | Nordiska Museet

Also on Djurgården, not far from the Vassmuseet, is the Nordiska Museet a large cultural history museum.  It is housed in an impressive building, a pastiche of a Scandinavian castle, and has huge collection of things Swedish.  We love a museum anyway, but this really helps you understand the country’s culture.  We loved finding out all about Swedish traditions, and the exhibition about Sami life in Sweden.  Find out more.

Royal Palace

Stockholm |Royal Palace

You’d be hard pressed to miss the Royal Palace (Kungliga Slottet) on Gamla Stan, it is one of the largest royal palaces in world. Although it is no longer the King’s actual residence it is still the official home of the Swedish monarchy, and hosts most of the official functions and court department. A wander around is very interesting. Also make sure you check out the royal regalia in The Treasury and Armoury.  Find out more.

Drottningholm Palace

Stockholm | Drottningholm Palace

We loved Drottningholm! This is 17th Centaury palace on the outskirts of Stockholm is the royal family’s residence. It is UNESCO protected and well worth the boat trip out to have a look around. The boat takes about an hour and leaves from near the City hall. It is a gorgeous trip in itself but when the palace comes into view it is something else.  As well as looking around the beautiful rooms in the palace we has a tour around the Court Theatre, built in 1766 it has remained almost untouched since 1792, making it the Oldest theatre in the world still in its original state.  The palace grounds are particularly lovely to walk around, and the Chinese Pavilion, an 18th Century ‘summer palace’ in the ground is gorgeous highlight with its rococo interiors with chinoiserie. Find out more.

Boat Trips

Stockholm is built on 14 island, so water is everywhere! This makes a boat trip one of the best ways to see the city.  There are plenty of tours to choose from, we did the Royal Canal tour.  Find out more. 

Food & Drink…

It is clear that the Swedes love their food, and there is a brilliant selection of places to choose from. Here is a few of the places we discovered:

Meatballs for the People

When in Sweden eh? Situated on the southern island of Södermalm (cool area, worth a visit) Meatballs for the People was a great find! A casual place for meatballs and a beer, we were very happy travellers!


A large bar on a terrace overlooking Gamla Stan and Djurgården. Mossebacke is a bit run down, but the views more than make up it! Head here for a beer at sunset.

Taverna Brillo

Near out hotel we found Taverna Brillo, it bills itself as ‘an Italian brasserie in a Swedish form’. In Östermalm there are lots of lovely restaurants to choose from, but we chose here as it was the Dining Room right combination of formal and casual for Richard’s Birthday meal. It also has a food market and a separate bar.

Flippin’ Burgers

Burgers are probably the hipster’s food of choice, so in a city as cool as Stockholm it seemed a good idea to join the locals and head to a burger joint. Flippin’ Burgers has some of the best in the city, and it is well worth the queue to get in.

There were lots of other cool things about Stockholm. The fashionable shops, the great food, the cafes, the Princess Cake (delicious!), the cool locals – this list could go on and on. We loved our 4 days in Stockholm and will definitely be heading back!

Have you been to Stockholm, what were your highlights we’d love to know?

Stockholm | Gamla Stan Stockholm | Gamla Stan

Orchard Blog | Stockholm Weekend
4th May 2016

Days Out | Ightham Mote

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Last October we signed up the The National Trust; Perhaps a sign of our impending middle age, but more likely dues to our love of old houses and the countryside. Since we signed up we have been exploring a raft of properties, we are going to share some out our photos and thoughts here.

Day out - Ightham Mote

On Sunday 1st May we made the most of the Sunny weather and headed to Ightham Mote (pronounced Item Moat) in Kent.  The House is a fourteenth century moated manor house, and eludes all the period charm you would expect of a 700 year old house.   The historian David Starkey describes the house as ‘one of the most beautiful and interesting of English country houses’ and who are we to disagree?

The House is sounded by a moat consists of about 70 rooms around a very beautiful central courtyard. Highlights include the great hall, the old and new chapels, a tudor painted ceiling and the only listed dog house in the country. There are introductory talks to help you get a sense of the place, and you can do a tour of the tower to learn even more.

The gardens are very pleasant to walk around, and there are 3 guided walks around the estate. As it is bluebell time of year we opted for the Scathes Wood route.  This being a National Trust property there is a lovely little shop and a cafe for lunch or tea.

Find out more at the National Trust website
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A great day out at a 14th Century Manor House./div>


3rd May 2016