Category Archives: Restaurants

Helmsley Walled Garden

A walled garden must be every gardener’s dream – sheltered from the elements that often take their toll on our own patches – especially after a heavy downfall – whose delphiniums aren’t looking a little sorry for themselves after the recent soaking?

A couple of weeks ago a good friend of mine, who happens to be a professional gardener, suggested a trip to Helmsley Walled Garden. We often meet up and do a walk together but it was looking like quite a hot day so a lovely garden with some shade – and nice café beckoned.

This idyllic five-acre site sits beneath the ruins of Helmsley Castle and is just a stone’s throw away from the pretty market town of Helmsley.


The garden originally provided fruit and vegetables for the Feversham household at Duncombe Park until just after World War One when it got leased out as a market garden. Sadly, it fell derelict over the years and it wasn’t until 1994 that its restoration started thanks to the vision and sheer hard work of a local lady, Alison Ticehurst. Alison wanted the garden not only to be a beautiful site once again but also to be a place for horticultural therapy. Today supported volunteers learn horticultural skills here whilst at the same time benefiting from new skills and gaining confidence.


The garden now contains a spectacular long double herbaceous border planted with vibrant reds, yellow and oranges; a white garden; a clematis garden and orchards. Wherever you are the castle is always a looming presence – whether behind formal layouts….


…or as a backdrop to pretty wildflower meadows. Doesn’t this look quintessentially English with its daisies and bright red poppies peering out from the long grass?


Even the cow parsley looks gorgeous rather than unruly especially when it’s set off with a mowed path down the centre with an orchard either side.


The bright yellow laburnum arch and purple alliums dancing at either side look stunning at this time of year…it was an irresistible photograph to take.


Did you ever read The Secret Garden as a child? Well, this door really reminded me of this book. Wouldn’t you have loved to find a hidden garden like Mary Lennox did in the story? I wonder what is behind this lovely old door.


As well as the gardens, the glasshouses have all been restored and house a fantastic array of plants including succulents and this impressive display of gourds.



Alongside the floral attractions and not forgetting some rather cute looking resident hens, there is also a wonderful cafe here. The Vine House Café is in a restored Victorian vinery where you can eat beneath the vines or in the courtyard.


The café serves mouth-watering cakes and gorgeous lunches including delicious salads. Mine contained strawberries and blueberries which I wouldn’t have thought of adding. I did try this at home afterwards, serving up a mixed salad with grapes and blueberries – it took a bit of convincing my brood that the fruit hadn’t got in there by accident – I have now moved over to the ‘anything goes’ mindset when putting together a salad thanks to my fruity salad encounter.


If you get a chance to visit, the garden is looking stunning at the moment with a blaze of colour in the borders; lovely wildflower meadows sprawling out beneath orchards of apple and pear trees as well as a plant centre offering plenty of inspiration to take home with you.







Cocktails at Stanley & Ramona’s

Looking for a chilled out way to kick off the weekend? Then I might just have the answer…

If you haven’t come across Stanley & Ramona then you’re in for a treat. Not only does this gorgeous bijou café bar on York’s Bishy Road serve great coffee and cakes, it also turns into a lively little cocktail bar at the weekend – Friday and Saturday evenings from 6pm until 11pm.

Cocktails are coffee-themed – Espresso Martini madam? (You can opt for fruity cocktails, beer, cider, wine and prosecco if the coffee flavour isn’t to your taste).


Its stylish decor of eye-catching yellows and cool greys remind me of a 1960s coffee bar where you can pull up a stool and sip your cocktails. Take note, this place is teeny weeny so you’ll soon get to know your neighbours – it’s not somewhere for non-sociable types.


Alternatively, grab the window seat to watch the world of Bishy Road (best high street in the UK 2015, don’t forget) go by…


If it’s coffee you’re after, you’ll be spoilt for choice with everything from a latte to a piccolo on offer – and if you’re in any doubt as to which is which the quirky diagrams will help…


Whatever caffeine-fuelled beverage you choose it should most definitely be enjoyed with a slice of something nice…


S & R also serve delicious breakfasts and lunches. The food is all locally sourced with an excellent gluten-free selection.

However, if you’re hoping to find Stanley & Ramona, I am afraid you won’t. Stanley and Ramona don’t exist, at least not here. Instead you’ll be greeted by the charming Lucy and Lee, the duo behind this fantastic coffee shop. The name Stanley & Ramona comes from a conversation where the couple misheard each other’s ideas regarding what to call the café – Standing Room Only became Stanley & Ramona.

Enjoy your weekend…chink chink!

More about bikes or Bicis y Mas

The banner as you turn into Fossgate says it all: ‘York’s hidden gem. Welcome to Fossgate for a unique shopping and dining experience’.

And it’s true. Fossgate, which runs into Walmgate, after crossing the River Foss is one of York’s hidden streets, lined with small independent shops and cafés.

There are some great places to discover and it’s where I came across Bicis Y Mas, or ‘Bikes and more’, a vegetarian café and bike workshop halfway along Walmgate. This lovely coffee shop/restaurant completes my mini series of cycling cafés in honour of the Tour de Yorkshire 2016.

bicis y mas facade

Bicis Y Mas is a bustling little café, stylishly decorated using vibrant pops of colour that perfectly match the racks of bold cycling tops for sale.

Bicis y mas cups

Check out the table legs here – a great way to recycle old bicycle wheels….

bicys y mas table 2

I loved the vintage Tour de France photos that have been used to decorate the walls too.

BIcis y mas wallpaper

The food is very good. You can enjoy anything from a cup of tea or coffee or choose something more substantial from their vegetarian and vegan menu including breakfasts, lunches, hotpots and soups.

bicys y mas more cakes

Lunch is served up to 3.30pm. I enjoyed a delicious meat-free burger on a bagel (the bagel idea really worked adding just enough sweetness) with salad. And as for pudding, there is no shortage of tempting treats to tuck into.

So, it’s a great place to pop in for coffee and cake which you can have until 5pm – with the chance to catch up on the latest cycling news on the TV here – and no doubt some cycling banter.

bicys y mas cakes

Then by night, the place changes again with a different menu, featuring tapas-style sharing dishes and nibbles to enjoy with a glass or wine or continental beer which I think sounds fun.

Bicis y mas table

I hope you’ve enjoyed this snapshot of York’s quirky cycling cafés – maybe after all that café hopping, you might just feel like getting on your bike after all…..

A trip to Cycle Heaven

Isn’t it great when the journey is as much fun as getting where you want to be? With helpful signs pointing us in the right direction, we didn’t have much trouble finding our destination – the new café at Cycle Heaven.


Cycle Heaven is one of York’s best-known bike shops which started out in Bishopthorpe Road (blog post here in case you don’t know this gem of a street) where it still has a shop for repairs and accessories, as well as one at York Station for repairs and cycle hire.

It recently expanded by opening a third shop with a café in bigger premises in Hospital Fields Road.

You can get there from York centre via Rowntree Park in Terry Avenue.


Park up in the car park here and walk, cycle or scoot which is what the boys did.



It’s great cycling and scooting territory, especially for kids – the paths are actually part of the York Orbital Cycle Route which circles the city and begins and ends at the Millennium Bridge.


Rowntree Park itself is a lovely green space with a play area, skatepark and its own café, The Rowntree Park Reading Room & Café which is well worth a visit.


You cross The Millennium Bridge.


Check out the padlocks adorning the metal grids. If you’ve been to Paris you’ll know that the Pont de L’Archeveche is, or rather was covered in these love locks.

Last year the love tokens were removed from the bridge by Parisian officials because they they were causing damage to the bridge. This doesn’t seem to be an issue at the moment in York unless more people decide to declare their love here.


I wonder if Dave and Vicky are still an item? Tradition is that you throw away the key so I hope it all worked out.


The new Cycle Heaven building is on the site of an old military hospital. The café is run by the people at Café 68 (they already have a café in Gillygate and run the café at the Castle Museum). It’s a great space – with room for families, buggies, prams, dogs, bikes, scooters, you name it – you’ll all squeeze in.


The menu has a good range of salads, soups, sandwiches and cakes. The staff were very accommodating with the boys whose cosmopolitan taste in food is still under construction so it was sausage sandwiches all round for them.


The café is at one end of the bike showroom so I found myself eyeing up some lovely bicycles over my lunch…..


with some eye-catching floral accessories….


Just not sure they would get me to the finish line of the Tour de Yorkshire 2016 – what do you reckon?

On your bike…..

…..Yep, the Tour de Yorkshire is fast approaching and cycling fever is with us once more.

Ever since those lycra-clad lads sped through Yorkshire for the Tour de France two years ago it seems that cyclists just can’t keep away from the place.


Tour de France in York 2014


Tour de France 2014 – A couple of Gendarmes keep the crowds in order

The panoramic camera footage of Yorkshire’s breathtaking countryside, beautiful towns and pretty villages were the best tourist advert the region could ask for.


Team Sky at the 2014 Tour de France

York itself is one of the most bike-friendly cities in the UK. So it’s not surprising that there are an impressive number of ‘cycling’ cafés in the city. At each of them you can get your bike serviced, buy a bike, or just turn up for a latte or lunch and take in their quirky bike-themed decor.

So, in the first of a mini series featuring York’s bike cafés, here’s a look at Your Bike Shed.

You’ll find Your Bike Shed at the top of Micklegate in York. Relax, Repair, Refuel is its catchphrase. Whatever your bike needs, the chaps here can sort it while all you need to worry about is which coffee to choose (there’s a connoisseur’s choice here from Espresso Macchiato to Moccha or a Chai Latte if tea is your thing)


It’s a lovely airy café with lots of space – the type of place you can just pop in for a coffee or something more substantial. The menu offers up hearty Yorkshire breakfasts, soups, salads, sandwiches and cakes.


There’s a friendly, laid back vibe here and its seems that anyone is welcome whether you’re on two wheels or not.

The decor is offbeat, don’t be perturbed by the bikes dangling above your head. Did you or your siblings have a chopper bike? It seems that they are making a bit of a comeback amongst fans of their retro styling……


And if you do happen to be on two wheels, such is Your Bike Shed’s love of bikes, they’ll even let you bring your bike in with you however muddy it is.

Coming up next we are off to Cycle Heaven near Rowntrees Park in York……See you there!