Sunday 28 October 2007
Now I was a bit sad when Johnson's closed earlier in the year. OK! So, I had never been in the place but, somehow it seemed to fit in with Ilkley life reasonably well. I had never even heard of the Piccolino chain, but they appear to have a dozen odd places across the North of England, so must be a biggish operation. Certainly, the money that has been spent ripping and fitting out 31/33 Brook Street suggests a lavish budget. This place is more upmarket than I had expected. It's not like Pizza Express; more an Italian Farsyde. The decor is great - modern without being crass. If you're downstairs, it's a bit of a goldfish bowl as the full length windows mean it's not the place to be carrying on an illicit affair. Better book upstairs - especially the table in the bay window, where you can watch the comings and goings of Ilkley life rather than be watched. If you want to be seen, any of the downstairs tables facing into the street should do the trick. There were lots of staff when we visited and things have yet to settle down. Despite booking and wishing to dine straightaway with young children, we were ushered to the bar area for pre-dinner drinks as our table wasn't ready. We were then asked for our "tab card" which we had never heard of. You need one of these when you arrive (apparantly). It all seemed a bit of a waste of time for, even before our drinks had arrived, we were ushered off to our table and our plastic credit-type tab card was collected back in, to be replaced by an identical looking "cloakroom card". I did ask if we needed another card to enable us to eat and was dryly told that a Mastercard would be needed for that! The manager looked quite stressed by all this, even though the place was three-quarters empty at 5.30pm. The service was not as good as it should have been, given the large numbers of staff. It's also that kind of place where even a Yorkshire waiter insists on calling you Senor. Cringe cringe! Having spent ages going through the menu trying to find something for our 7 and 9 year olds, it was annoying to find halfway through ordering that there is a separate children's menu, which was not offered at the outset. So, we then had to start again! The food for adults is excellent - interesting pasta dishes, very fresh tasting and good salads. Beware that portions are adequate, rather than generous. We didn't have time for desserts but they too looked good. Young children may well struggle, especially if they are used to Pizza Express or La Sila, both of which are much more children orientated. No, this place is going to be serious competition for a number of other places in town. It's ideal for small adult groups rather than couples, as the atmosphere is very open rather than intimate. All in all, recommended. Decor 10/10, Atmosphere 9/10, Food 9/10, Value 7/10.
Wednesday 3 October 2007
The Yorkshire Deli (it's new) - "accommodated our large group very well" said Joyce Anderson from Liverpool Smoooth - "does very good coffee and smoothies" The Wells and Farsyde - "Both excellent" says Marjorie McCellan from Oxfordshire Bistro Saigon - "Good option of veggi food, well cooked and good service" reports James Page from Dundee Ilkley Moor Vaults (The Taps) "Very good food" says Frank Carroll from Washington The Box Tree - "Expensive but very good" reports Edwina Fitzmaurice from Lytham St Annes The Fleece at Addingham - "Very good value, friendly and efficient" says Mary Lazarus from St Albans The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway - must go Farsyde "Good, but they overcomplicate the menu and mix too many flavours" suggests Tim Williams from Sevenoaks Hesketh Animal Farm - "Very hands on and well organised. Good value for money although food is expensive" Kirsten Groth from Hampshire. and perhaps not so good... The Dalesway Beer Garden "A dogs toilet with added smell of chip fat" said a guest from Liverpool. The Midland - "Dingy. Beer not good" reported a guest from Dundee.
Tuesday 2 October 2007
I'll be frank and say that when I heard that a smoothie bar was to open on Wells Road, I had big doubts. When the opening got delayed by several months, failed to get a hot food licence, announced that they didn't want to appeal just to school children and then struggled to find staff (they even approached me, so they must have been desperate!), my expectations were low. It was therefore a pleasant surprise when I tried it out last week, having had favourable comments from my children who had already been several times in the opening few days. The place is bigger than I expected, going right back into a lounge room at the rear. The decor is clean and fresh and not nearly as cheap and cheerful as I feared. The menu is very extensive when you consider it revolves around a few drinks, sandwiches and salads. For example, there are a dozen different smoothies to try with exotic ingredients such as acai and passion fruit. And here lies the problem. At peak periods they just can't cope with the menu. I called in on a Saturday afternoon and, whilst not over full, you could immediately sense from the absence of drinks and food on the tables that service was struggling. I had to wait nearly forty minutes for a basic panini (the only hot food). Others had clearly got fed-up and left. A waitress was wandering around with a tray of items and I had to point out that the people had gone at least fifteen minutes before it arrived. The preparation area is on full display and staff were trying to identify - without success - whether table 14 had ordered a Tropical Storm or a Brazilian Boost. The quality of the food and drinks is general very good. The smoothies are not cheap but interesting and tasty. The cakes - especially the organic carrot cake - were good, the panini (goats cheese and roasted vegetables) ok but served with a very tired salad garnish. Some things are over the top. You can't just have a pot of tea, you have to have a wooden board boasting a "tea temple with a fine glass teapot". All very well but glass is not good for keeping the tea hot and it was half cold by the time it arrived. There was more commotion when it was time to pay. A long wait whilst staff were trying to work out more orders and then no change in the til, meaning that the tip box had to be raided for coins. I hope Smoooth succeeds. A lot of preparation has gone into the place and - with the multi-nationals like Pizza Express creeping in, Ilkley needs small, individual places to open up like this. They must get the service sorted out and need to consider opening on Sundays. They also promote their website, but that doesn't exist yet either. Do go when it's quiet; avoid on a Saturday, or if you've got a train to catch. 14-16 Wells Road (01943) 600064. Take-away also available. Quality 9/10, Atmosphere 9/10, Service 2/10, Value 7/10, Wow factor 8/10. STOP PRESS - December 2010 - we hear that Smoooth has now closed. Very sad.
Monday 24 September 2007
Despite what it may say on their website, please note that we are completely full for the weekend of this big event being held locally between October 12th-15th. If you're looking for accommodation for the EFT Masterclass Conference go to: www.eftmasters.co.uk/masterclass/accommodation.htm
This has become a bit of an annual habit for a whole group of us in Wharfedale. The image of a triathlon always conjured up for me a picture of sinewy, anorexic-looking men and women sweating their way up and down mountains for hours on end, without an ounce of enjoyment to show for their endeavours. Well, I never thought I would join them! The Ilkley Triathlon is organised by Leeds and Bradford Triathlon Club and is a "sprint" (ie shorter) event. It's still 20 lengths of the pool, immediately followed by a 15km hilly cycle ride (with fresh air and great views!) and finishing off with a 5km hilly run. Hard work unless you're pretty fit, but a more helpful and encouraging group of people organising it, you couldn't hope to meet! Because everyone sets off at different times, and the course is in laps, nobody has any idea - or cares - how well you're doing. Indeed, there are quiet stretches where you could stop running or even push your bike uphill without anyone spotting you, if things are tough - even though 300 odd people do the event. Above all, there's this marvellous buzz as you cross the finishing line with that feeling of achievement! If you're thinking of getting a bit fitter this winter and want to have something to aim for then this could be it. Highly recommended!
Friday 21 September 2007
If you're coming to the Ilkley Literature Festival, we've still got some availability for key dates. If the big hotels are too impersonal and if a bed and breakfast (B&B) won't hit the spot, how about a FIVE STAR apartment or cottage? We've got availability for the weekend of 28th September as well as 4 nights for the price of 3 midweek, arriving 1st or 8th October. There are still some great tickets to be had for events at the Festival so book soon!
Wednesday 12 September 2007
After what has really been a miserable summer, it's great to look out on day after day of beautiful weather at the moment. Why is it that it's only when the schools have gone back that the sun comes out? Anyway, the sheep are outside at the gate, the sky is totally blue and Pudding needs taking for a walk. Must dash!
Saturday 1 September 2007
Friday 31 August 2007
Tickets have gone on general sale for the Ilkley Literature Festival being held at the beginning of October. Some big names have sold out already! If you're thinking of going along - get your tickets soon!
Wednesday 8 August 2007
Recently re-opened following turbulent times as "Tubby Wadlow's", this latest incarnation is the work of local millionaire Chris Stainton; (a frequent guest at Westwood Lodge in the past!). Having quashed rumours of opening as an oyster and champagne bar, Martha and Vincent is very similar in concept to half-a dozen other places in town - the best known (and longest established) of which is Farsyde. Looking out to the forlorn, closed "the grove" across the road shows how restaurants come and go quickly in Ilkley and just what a tough job MandV's will have to break in. Decor is typically modern and minimalist, but nowhere near as bleak or "faux leathered" as "the grove" was. One is left wondering though what was the matter with what they inherited? The lunchtime menu was simple, yet varied and interesting. The scallops on blinis was a superb starter and the artichoke salad passed muster. Sea bream main was OK, but being totally drenched in butter, the delicate fish was, I felt, overpowered. The salmon held up better with the bed of crushed peas voted a hit. Desserts were appealing with the creme brulee infused with lavender, the most curious - but it worked! The wine list was good with a selection available by the glass. Background music was just right for a lunchtime and service was efficient and courteous. The toilets could have done with a clean; the dust on the venetian blinds was obvious to all in the glistening sunshine. Typical 3-course lunch for two, with coffee and a glass of wine each - around £65 or £45 for 2-course . Quality 9/10, Service 9/10, Value 7/10, Wow factor 8/10.
Monday 6 August 2007
OK - the facts... There has been a confirmed outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) at a farm in Surrey. The Government has imposed an immediate protection and surveillance zone and a ban has been placed on the movement of pigs, sheep and cattle. Advice from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) is that FMD is not a direct public health threat and the Food Standards Agency considers that FMD has no implications for the human food chain. During the Foot and Mouth outbreak of 2001, the tourism industry suffered dramatically alongside farming. However, much of the suffering caused to tourism businesses was unnecessary and caused by a media frenzy which created public confusion and concern. Sensationalist headlines and negative images of livestock being burned by the roadsides caused visitors to stay away in droves and resulted in the perception that the countryside was closed. Efforts must be taken to ensure that we do not see a mass closedown of the countryside, which was witnessed in 2001, and we must stress that visitors can and should continue to enjoy the countryside. The authorities must learn from the outbreak in 2001 and to prevent FMD devastating the tourism economy in Yorkshire once again. The Yorkshire Tourist Board is working closely with the media to ensure that reporting is accurate and editors take a responsible approach to covering the emerging situation as it may develop. All efforts must be taken to ensure that we do not see a mass closedown of the countryside, which was witnessed in 2001. Remember - as of today - there are no cases of foot and mouth disease in Yorkshire. We ask for your support in ensuring that the Yorkshire tourism industry does not suffer unnecessarily due to the national alert regarding foot and mouth disease. We urge you to work with us and ensure that we counter any negative perceptions together by engaging the industry and providing up to date accurate information. There is nothing to prevent people travelling into and enjoying the countryside. You will find nothing changed and you are free to enjoy its natural beauty. Farming and tourism in rural areas are interdependent. Both industries need to work together to tackle the issues arising. Lessons have been learned following the 2001 outbreak of Foot and Mouth. The Haskin report made recommendations to the Government for handling any future outbreaks in light of how it affected tourism. Let's hope they will be put into practice!
Monday 23 July 2007
We hear that the CLA Game Fair due to open at Harewood House on Friday 27th July has been CANCELLED. "Adverse, and worse than predicted weather which has hit Harewood Estate has now defeated all the efforts the organisers have made in order to open the show. Despite weeks of rain the site was drying out well before the deluge of rain on Friday afternoon followed by lighter but continuous rain throughout the weekend. The site is now saturated with water lying in all areas of the showground regardless of the ditches which have been dug to drain as much excess as possible. Vehicle movement is at a stand still other than movement along the 4000 metres of trackway and acres of bark that have been put along all the show rows. The concern is that once the exhibitors, catering units and other show contractors arrive many vehicles would have to drive off the protected areas in order to set up and the ground cannot take it. This would create a safety issue apart from the other issues of vehicles getting stuck or not being able to reach their stands". PLEASE NOTE THAT WESTWOOD LODGE IS VERY MUCH OPEN FOR BUSINESS AS USUAL as are the vast majority of attractions in this part of Yorkshire and (as far as we know) all restaurants, pubs, tea rooms etc. We look forward to welcoming all guests who were planning to attend the CLA Game Fair in the knowledge that there is still lots and lots to do during your stay with us.
Saturday 21 July 2007
Headline names for the 2007 Festival have just been announced and include: Alastair Campbell; Alan Bennett, Germaine Greer, Linton Kwesi Johnson, James Naughtie, Michael Ondaatje, Caryl Phillips, Libby Purves, Fay Weldon, Gyles Brandreth, Robin Knox-Johnston, Brian Patten, Roger McGough, John Julius Norwich, Joanne Harris, Roy Hattersley, Iain Banks, Johnnie Walker, Jonathan Coe, Clarissa Dixon-Wright, Maggie O'Farrell, Kevin Crossley-Holland, Esther Freud, Dom Joly and Rosie Boycott There are events marking the Abolition of the Slave Trade, an exploration of graphic novels, Bollywood Cabaret, Stanley Wells and Rene Weis on Shakespeare, writers from Denmark and Bulgaria, Hari Kunzru and Biyi Bandele and a chance to remember W.H. Auden.....plus more than 100 other events from discussions to workshops, cabaret, literary walks, Children's and Young People's weekend and the Festival Fringe. The 2007 Festival runs from Friday September 28th - Sunday October 14th.
The Devonshire Fell at Burnsall(says Veronica from Darlington) The Fleece at Addingham (says Joske from The Netherlands) Betty's Tea Rooms (says Peter from The Netherlands) Martha & Vincent ("food is good and reasonably priced" says Bridget from Banbury) The New Inn Appletreeewick ("good for lunch" says Mark from Aberdeen) Monkfish (says Margaret from Leighton Buzzard) Ilkley Moor Vaults ("Sunday lunch 'yum'" says Richard from Bristol and "good menu and value" says Shelagh from Sheffield) Pizza Pilazzo ("good takeaway pizza" says Yvonne from Meifod, North Wales) Rombalds Hotel and Restaurant ("delicious" says Jason from Norwich) Escape! ("very child friendly and food was quite nice" says Rachel from Teddington) and the worst... The Station ("too smokey and no seats because of football" says Jan from Macclesfield) BUT ("not bad for football and friendly" says Philip and Theresa from Billericay and on their FIFTH stay at Westwood in three years!) The Rose and Crown ("avoided it til now and will avoid in future" says Philip from Billericay)
The Ilkley Moor Vaults (says Denise from Tamworth) Martha & Vincent ("fabulous lunch, good wine and dessert" says Pat from the USA) The Wells Bistro ("excellent food and service, reasonably priced" says Nan from Winchester) Willy Mossops ("very friendly staff, delicious well thought out food" says Ann from Harrogate) and the worst.. The Black Horse at Askwith - ("Awful food" says Maureen from Exeter)
Friday 20 July 2007
We really liked... "The views and the goodies you left" (The Moorview) "The location" (Coach House Cottage) "The whole concept - very well thought out and ready to live in - very comfy" (The Old Gallery) "The decor, spaciousness, heating, the setting by the moor, newspaper delivery" (The Old Gallery) "Feeling at home because we have been before and your good organisation makes arrival smooth and pleasant" (The Moorview) "Welcome hamper, good supply of towels and household items" (The Glenmoor) "Sunny courtyard, property on the edge of the Moors, fantastic range of crockery and cookware, secure parking" (Orchard Cottage) "The location of the house and the homely feel of the cottage" (Coach House Cottage") "The garden and children's facilities" (Applebarn Cottage) "Matthew just wants to stay and play" (Orchard Cottage) "Sauna, gym and spa" (Applebarn Cottage) We didn't like... "The hobs - not sure which ring was which" (We've now dealt with this) "Beds a bit soft for my bad back" "Bed too hard" (You just can't win! Our beds tend to be firm rather than squishy, although we know some people like very soft beds) "Mediocre FM radio reception and no DAB" (Sorry - we don't go digital until 2011, but that's life in the country) "Noise from cars going over the catle guard" (A difficult one to solve) "The weather" (An even more difficult one!)
Thursday 19 July 2007
Westwood Lodge has always had an Environmental Policy, but now we've gone a step further and joined The Green Tourism Business Scheme. We intend to reduce our environmental impact more by - for example - encouraging guests to come here by train, or at least not use their car whilst here. We're looking at environmentally friendly cleaning products and how we can get our local Council to work with us on recycling. There's much more to come! But, - how important is Green Tourism to you? Enter our poll now! We would love to know what you think!
Well what has it come to? I've never written a blog entry before, but even Westwood has given in! We're not going to fill this with what my father would call "twoddle", but we will drop in some of the latest news about Westwood Lodge, Ilkley Moor and Wharfedale. For example, restaurants change hands faster than we can update our reviews, so we'll be giving the lastest feedback from guests and any meal I get to take Paula out to! We're also happy to post guest feedback about their stay with us, sights and scenes, places to go - or not go - and generally any gossip that doesn't infringe libel law! If you've got a contribution do let us have it. Watch this space!
Setting up this blog will hopefully help our previous visitors to catch up on the latest news here at Westwood. Please use this space to add in comments and photos of your stay here with us. Don't forget - you can catch up on our latest news at on our web site Thank you Tim