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Celebrate Earth Day at One of These Scenic Spots

Sunday, April 10th, 2016
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On Friday April 22nd the world will celebrate Earth Day, an event which allows people to demonstrate their support for the environment. If you feel like joining in the celebrations this year, then why not venture to one of the UK’s many beauty spots where you can admire the fantastic scenery Britain has to offer? We’ve put together a list of scenic spots with fantastic views which will help you appreciate the environment this coming Earth Day.

Richmond Park

A group on deer in long grass with trees in the distance and a blue sky overhead.

Deer in Richmond Park. Image by SLR JesterCC 2.0

Located in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames, Richmond Park is the largest of the capital’s eight royal parks. The park was created by Charles I in the 17th century as a deer park and is still of great importance to international wildlife conservation today. The park’s open spaces and calming atmosphere is perfect for a quite stroll this Earth Day.

Glen Nevis

Highland scener with hills, mountains and rolling clouds

View from Glen Nevis. Image by KrondolCC 2.0

This iconic Highland glen offers some of the best views in Britain, from the towering Ben Nevis to the captivating waterfalls of the River Nevis. This area is a favourite among walkers and with its inspiring views and fascinating history, it’s not hard to see why. If you fancy a family walk through Glen Nevis this Earth Day we suggest the Achriabhach Forest Walk.

Hope Valley

Rural England. Green fields, soft hills and blue sky.

A wonderful view over Hope Valley. Image by Olga PavlovskyCC 2.0

The ancient landscape of Hope Valley in the Peak District is a perfect example of rural England. With enchanting views and plenty of historic ruins to discover, you could spend days exploring the Hope Valley and never get bored. For an alternative view of the Hope Valley we suggest hang-gliding, an activity the area is rather famous for and a great way to spend Earth Day.

Snowdonia

Clear lake with the snow capped mountains reflected in the waters

Sunrise in Snowdonia National Park. Image by Hefin OwenCC 2.0

Home to Wales’ highest mountain, Snowdonia National Park covers an area of 2,170 square kilometres and encompasses some of Wales’ best natural scenery. The park recently received the title of International Dark Sky Reserve, and because of this it is the ideal location for a little star gazing come nightfall on Earth Day.

Jurassic Coast

Golden sandy beach with unique rock formation, blue sky and turquoise sea.

The iconic Durdle Door beach. Image by Mark TowningCC 2.0

The Jurassic Coast is a world heritage site which covers 95 miles of coastline from Devon to Dorset. Along the Jurassic Coast, visitors may be surprised to discover 185 million years of history in the form of fossils, dramatic cliffs and hidden caves. The area also has a number of soft, sandy beaches which are great for families who want to get out and about this Earth Day.

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Dog Owner’s Guide to Anglesey

Thursday, March 31st, 2016
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Planning your next pet friendly getaway? How does a morning exploring ancient woodland sound, or how about an afternoon playing in the surf on a golden sandy beach? Perhaps we can interest you in locally sourced, award winning food served in a warm dog friendly environment? If this sounds like your idea of heaven then you and your four legged friend would love a trip to Anglesey!

Ynys Llanddwyn  Off Anglesey, North Wales

The beautiful Ynys Llanddwyn. Image by tekaybeCC 2.0

Located in North Wales, this picturesque Welsh island is ideal for a dog friendly holiday at any time of year. To help you get to know the island a little better, we’ve included everything a dog owner will need to know before holidaying on Anglesey. You can use this guide to plan your getaway or even inspire future holidays, either way we’re sure you’ll love the island as much as we do!

Getting around Anglesey

Anglesey isn’t a very big island, in fact those travelling by car are able to get from one side of the island to the other in less than one hour! For those of you that don’t drive, Anglesey offers a fantastic range of public transport options to suit you and your dog. Here are just a few ways in which you and your dog can get around the island;

Menai Bridge with couple walking under.

The Menai Bridge connects Anglesey to the mainland. Image by Denis EganCC 2.0

Train

Did you know that one of Anglesey’s most popular tourist spots is a train station? It’s the one located in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch. Visitors love to stop here and pose for a picture with the station sign. If you fancy taking the train to Anglesey then both Arriva Trains Wales and Virgin Trains offer services to the island. The train is a great way to get on and off Anglesey, but once you arrive we suggest using the local bus service to reach some of the smaller villages, hamlets and popular tourist attractions.

Bus

The bus service on Anglesey is very good and welcomes dogs of all shapes and sizes. You can get just about anywhere on Anglesey by bus so it’s more than worth taking this approach to travelling. The Isle of Anglesey County Council lists all the available services on their website along with bus times, simply click here for more information.

Taxi

Many of the taxi firms on Anglesey would be happy to take you and your pooch around the island, however prices can be on the expensive side. We would advise only using a taxi if there are no bus services running.  A full list of the taxi firms on Anglesey can be found here.

Cycling

Anglesey is a haven for cyclists as you can get anywhere by bike! This is a fantastic way to travel around the island and we highly suggest this option as not only will you get to see some of Anglesey’s best scenery, but you’ll also be doing wonders for your carbon footprint. If you don’t have a bike but fancy cycling round the island then you can hire a bike from Cybi Bikes.

Days out with your dog

There are plenty of dog friendly things to do on Anglesey from exploring the sandy beach to discovering dense forests. To help inspire your day out selection, we’re put together a list of some of our favourite pastimes for dogs and their owners on the island.

Golden sandy beach with a blue sky and fisherman near the sea

Image of Trearddur Bay by Edward ReynoldsCC 2.0

Walking

Anglesey is great for dog owners looking to stretch their legs with plenty of open spaces for you and your energetic pet to explore. The Anglesey Coastal Path is a great route to get you started, however at 127.5 miles long, we suggest only taking up one or two routes and not the whole circular trail! The sandy marshes at Red Wharf Bay, tall pine forest at Newborough beach and stunning Beaumaris Castle are all great places to start!

Beaches

As an island, Anglesey is not short of beaches but if you’re worried about seasonal restrictions then don’t be, as Anglesey has many beaches that welcome dogs all year round. You’ll find a full list of Anglesey’s dog friendly beaches by visiting thebeachguide.co.uk.

Forests

Does your dog like to pay fetch? A visit to one of Anglesey’s forests could see you coming back with a few new sticks for your next game! Newborough Forest is probably the most well-known forest on the island and definitely worth the trip; with its tall pine trees and moss covered mounds the atmosphere here is truly magical.

Dog friendly pubs

Anglesey is known for its friendly hospitality towards both visitors and their dogs. If you’re looking for a somewhere to wet your whistle, enjoy a nice pub dinner and even a biscuit for the pooch, then here is our selection of the best pet friendly pubs on Anglesey.

Pub with white tones walls and blue trim around the doors and windows

The Black Lion, a dog friendly pub in Llanfaethlu. Image by David CottamCC 2.0

Ty Dderw

Located in a converted farm house with panoramic views towards the sea and over the countryside, Ty Dderw is fantastic for a pick me up when out exploring The Anglesey Coastal Path. The Ty Dderw offers a wonderful menu if you’re looking for a bite to eat and as dogs are welcome in the bar area there is no need to leave your four-legged friend behind come dinner time.

Contact: 01248 410777 / tydderw@gmail.com / www.tydderwinn.moonfruit.com

The White Eagle

The White Eagle in Rhoscolyn is well-known for its friendly hospitality. The pub famously welcomes both owners and their dogs and even has a special doggy dining room where you can enjoy a bite to eat and the dog can enjoy a biscuit or two.

Contact: 01407 860267 / www.white-eagle.co.uk

The Black Lion

If you’re looking for locally sourced produce then The Black Lion is the pub for you. This establishment prides itself on showcasing the best that Anglesey has to offer. Team their fantastic food and ale with a dog friendly bar and you have the makings of a fantastic night out.

Contact: 01407 730718 / info@blacklionanglesey.co.uk / blacklionanglesey.com

The Tavern on the Bay

Located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, The Tavern on the Bay can’t be beat when it comes to dining with a view. This very special gastro-pub not only offers wonderful scenery, but a fantastic menu and dog friendly atmosphere too!

Contact: 01248 582751 / info@thetavernonthebay.co.uk / thetavernonthebay.co.uk

The Anglesey Arms

With a beautiful garden and wonderful views of Menai Bridge, the Anglesey Arms is the perfect place for a relaxing pint with your dog. This venue’s atmosphere is second to none and they even have a fantastic events calendar featuring live music and quiz nights

Contact: 01248 712305 / www.anglesey-arms.co.uk

Owain Glyndwr

The Owain Glyndwr welcomes owners and their pets into the pub when they stop in on their way to or from the beach. The pub serves a superb variety of local cask ales and there is also a lovely selection of homemade meals and snacks on the menu – perfect!

Contact: 01928 810710 / contact@ogdllanddona.co.uk / www.ogdllanddona.co.uk

Dog supplies

It happens to us all; you arrive at your holiday accommodation only to find you left an essential item at home! If this happens to you when you visit Anglesey with your dog then don’t worry as there are plenty of pet stores on the island. We’ve listed some good to know pet stores and services below just in case of emergencies.

Food and toys

For a fantastic selection of food and toys we suggest visiting Farm and Pet Place in Llangefni. This large store has everything you need in one place, from tasty treats to squeaky balls! So if you’ve forgotten your dog’s favourite toy or food, then we suggest visiting this one stop shop.

Vets

We don’t want to think about it, but you can never be too prepared for an accident. If your four legged friend gets themselves in to trouble whilst visiting Anglesey then help is at hand as there are a number of vets located on the island who can help you. You’ll find a full list of Anglesey vets here.

Dog sitting service

The whole point of a dog friendly holiday is to enjoy time with your pet, but if you fancy a night out or visiting an attraction that doesn’t welcome dogs then we suggest investing in a pet sitter. For a small fee, you’ll be able to leave your dog with a friendly professional who will keep them entertained whilst you explore the island. You can find a great selection of pet sitters on Anglesey by visiting Yelp.

Dog friendly accommodation

The West Wing 918878

The spectacular view from The West Wing (Ref, 918878), a dog friendly property in Rhosneigr, Anglesey.

When visiting Anglesey with your pooch you’re going to need somewhere to stay, luckily here at Sykes Cottages we have a selection of nearly 90 dog friendly cottages to choose from on the island. Our pet friendly cottages are more than happy to welcome your four legged friend to stay and with many of these cottages located next to great walking routes, we’re sure your dog will approve.

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Walk of the Month: Llanberis Lake

Saturday, March 26th, 2016
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Can you believe we’re on our third Walk of the Month of 2016 already? In just a few days’ time it will be April and then summer will be here before you know it! To help make the most of the crisp spring weather whilst it lasts, we’ve pulled together a fantastic walk around the iconic Llanberis Lake in North Wales.

Clear blue lake reflecting the green mountains and clear blue sky above.

A fantastic image of Llyn Padarn taken by Hefin OwenCC 2.0

Llanberis Lake, known as Llyn Padarn, is approximately two miles long and 94 feet at its deepest point. Surrounded by some of the best scenery in Snowdonia, this picturesque walk offers plenty of opportunity for pictures, wildlife spotting and even a dip in the lake if you’re feeling adventurous!

The Walk

This walk follows a circular route around Llyn Padarn and will take between two and three hours to complete, depending on your level of fitness. The majority of the walk is over level ground, however the path can be loose underfoot in areas and there are some tricky stone steps along the way. It can be a little windy down by the lake so we suggest a warm jacket and sensible shoes for this walk.

The Route

Park in the car park (there is a small charge) then make your way north along the A4086. You will soon come to a fork in the road, at this point head right toward the track bed of an abandoned railway. Follow this track as far as the railway tunnel and take the steps to the right of the tunnel entrance to the upper level. From here, follow the path through a set of wooded gates and continue along the lakeside trail.

Silhouette of a lonely tree infront of a reflective lake with mountains and blue sky

Image of Llyn Padarn at sunset by Hefin OwenCC 2.0

Continue along the lakeside trail until you reach the head of the lake; at this point cross over the River Rhythallt making sure to admire the spectacular backdrop. Follow the road as it climbs towards the village of Fachwen, make your way through Fachwen keeping your eye out for a blue telephone kiosk. Take the path opposite the phone kiosk and descend the steps to the road below. The trail continues along the lane passing through wonderful woodlands before descending to a low point at a river crossing.

Cross the stream and follow the path until you come to a fork, take the left fork that ascends some rough stone steps. The path will take you back up through the woodland before exiting the trees at its highest point and offering amazing views.

From here it’s all downhill paths; continue along your path through the woods and into the old hospital grounds and gardens. Leave the hospital grounds via the wooden steps down to another lakeside car park. Here you will see the Welsh National Slate Museum, take the road that leaves the south eastern point of the museum area and cross the bridge towards the fields. Continue through the fields until you reach the A4086 and then your car park.

To view the route map and original walk please click here.

Rent a Cottage in Llanberis with Sykes Cottages

Modern kitchen/living space with over hanging light

The living space at Beudy Hywel (Ref. 6145) in Llanrug near Llanberis

If this walk has inspired you to visit North Wales this year then why not book a stay in one of our Llanberis holiday cottages? With nearly 30 holiday lets located within five miles of Llanberis, we’re sure to have something to suit your requirements. From large stylish properties sleeping 16 to small intimate cottages for two, these holiday homes are ideal for exploring Llanberis and the rest of the Snowdonia National Park.

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Irish Locations Visited By St Patrick

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016
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It’s fair to say that St Patrick is one of the world’s most popular saints, with millions of people celebrating his feast day every year on March 17th. In today’s blog we are paying homage to Ireland’s patron saint by taking a photo tour of some of the areas St Patrick is said to have visited during his lifetime.

Lough Derg, County Donegal

Landscape image of a blue lake amongst green hills and a cloudy blue sky

Image of Lough Derg by chrispod1975CC 2.0

Lough Derg is featured in two stories relating to St Patrick; the first sees him chasing the last of the snakes from Ireland here, before turning the lake red with its blood and the second story is about Christ revealing the entrance to hell inside a cave nearby.

Saul Church, County Down

Historic church set in a green field with cloudy blue sky.

Image of Saul Church by michael kooimanCC 2.0

St Patrick spent his time in Ireland converting pagans to Christianity, one of these converts then donated a barn to St Patrick so he could hold his services there. This small barn is now known as Saul Church and it is where St Patrick spent the last years leading up to his death in 461AD.

Croagh Patrick, County Mayo

Tall mountains with clouds rolling across the  peeks

Image of Croagh Patrick by Nicolas RaymondCC 2.0

St Patrick is said to have made a pilgrimage to the top of this sacred mountain 40 days before Easter in 441AD, once at the top St Patrick spent 40 days there fasting and praying. Now, on the last Sunday of July, also known as Reek Sunday, over 3,000 people make the pilgrimage to the top of Croagh Patrick barefoot!

The Rock of Cashel, County Tipperary

Historic castle set on a hill side with steep cliffs covered in grass under

Image of The Rock of Cashel by rosario fiore – CC 2.0

The Rock of Cashel is where St Patrick supposedly baptised the mighty king of Munster, Aenghus. It is also said that during the baptism, St Patrick accidentally stabbed Kind Aenghus in the foot with a crozier.

Hill of Slane, County Meath

Vivid blue sky with white clouds and a beautiful historic building in front

Image of the Hill of Slane by Anna & MichalCC 2.0

It is said that St Patrick lit a huge fire on the Hill of Slane in protest of a pagan feast. The high king was not impressed but St Patrick convinced him that the Christian God was far more powerful than his old gods by performing miracles and using the tree-leafed shamrock as an example of Christianity.

St Patrick’s Well, County Tipperary

Grassy bank with over hanging trees, stone bridge over a reflective pond

Image of St Patrick’s Well by Gerard AhernCC 2.0

During his travels across Ireland, St Patrick is said to have stopped here to bath and baptise the local people before continuing on his journey.

Slemish Mountain, County Antrim

Green fields full of sheep and a tall green mountain in the distance.

Image of Slemish Mountain by Albert BridgeCC 2.0

When St Patrick was just a boy, he was captured by pirates and brought from his home in Wales to Ireland, where he worked as a slave herding sheep on Slemish Mountain. Although St Patrick spent a tough six years on this mountain, it was also where he found consolation in God.

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.

Pie Week Recipes

Monday, March 7th, 2016
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Today marks the start of British Pie Week and what better way to celebrate than by baking a homemade pie for you and your loved ones to share? So from the traditional pork pie to the tasty apple pie, we’ve included three easy pie recipes below to give you some inspiration.

Raised Pork Pie

A favourite here in Britain, the humble pork pie can trace its routes right back to the early 18th century. The following BBC Good Food recipe may not be as old as the original, but it is just as good! This recipe will feed up to ten people and takes around 3 hours to prep as well as an overnight stint in the fridge, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to get it right.

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 800g pork shoulder, minced or finely chopped
  • 400g pork belly, half minced and half chopped
  • 250g smoked bacon, cubed
  • 2 large pinches ground nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped sage
  • 1 tsp fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground mace

For the pastry

  • 575g plain flour
  • 220ml water
  • 200g lard

To finish

  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 6 gelatine leaf
  • 1 egg, beaten

Method

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180c/160c for fan and 4 for gas.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, bring together all the ingredients for the filling.
  3. To make the pastry take a separate bowl and add the flour, then put the lard and water into a small pan and heat gently until the lard has melted, then bring it to the boil before stirring into the flour using a wooden spoon.
  4. When the mixture is cool enough to handle but still warm, you can knead it until smooth.
  5. Cut off ¼ of the dough and wrap it in cling film, placing it to one side to use later for the lid. Roll out the remaining dough before placing it into the base of a non-stick 20cm springform cake tin. Whilst the dough is still warm, work quickly to press it in evenly all over the base and up the sides of the tin.
  6. Make sure there are no holes in the pastry and fill with meat, making sure to pack down well. Roll out the dough for the lid and place on top of the pie, pinching around the edges to seal the pie. Finally, make a hole in the centre of the top of the pie to allow steam to escape; we suggest using the handle of a wooden spoon for this.
  7. Cook the pie in the oven for 30 minutes before reducing the heat to 160c/140c for fan and 3 for gas. Continue to cook for 90 minutes.
  8. Brush the top of the pie with a beaten egg and then return to the oven for a final 20 minutes. Once done remove the pie from the oven and leave to cool.
  9. Soak the gelatine in cold water for around five minutes, then remove and squeeze out the excess water. Heat the stock until almost boiling then remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine. Leave to cool at room temperature.
  10. Use a small funnel to pour the stock into the pie through the hole in the top. Pour in a little at a time allowing a few seconds between each addition. Leave to set in the fridge overnight before serving.

Traditional Apple Pie

Packed full of cooking apples, sugar and cinnamon, I dare anyone not to love this classic desert! Apple pie is so popular that just about every country has their own take on the dish. This following recipe from about food follows the traditional British and Irish recipe which takes around an hour to make and will serve six people.

Ingredients

Pastry

  • 200g plain flour
  • 110g cubed butter
  • 2-3 tbsp cold water
  • Pinch of salt

Filling

  • 700g cooking apples, peeled, cored and quartered
  • 110g sugar
  • 25g butter
  • 4 – 6 tbsp cold water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 level tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
  • Milk to glaze

Method

  1. In a large clean bowl, rub together the flour, butter and salt until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. You will want to work as quickly as possible so that the dough doesn’t become warm.
  2. Add the water to the mixture. Using a cold knife, stir the mixture until the dough binds together. If your mixture is too dry, add more water, a teaspoon at a time. Wrap the finished dough in Clingfilm and chill in the fridge for between 15 and 30 minutes.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to 200C or gas 7 and whilst the dough is chilling in the fridge, simmer the apples with the lemon juice and water in a large pan until soft.
  4. Once soft, add the sugar and cinnamon to the cooked apples. Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter before leaving to cool.
  5. Split the chilled dough in half and roll out the first half using this to line a 13cm/7” pie dish. Put the cooled apple mixture into the pastry case. Roll out the second half of the dough to make a lid for the pastry. Damp the edges of the pastry in the dish with a little cold water, cover with the lid and press down on the edges firmly to seal the pie.
  6. Brush the top of the pie with milk and bake on the top self of the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.

Fish Pie

Fish pie is a real favourite here in the UK with pubs and restaurants across Britain featuring the scrumptious pie on their menus. This recipe from BBC Good Food will show you how to make fish pie from home in just four easy steps! The recipe takes around an hour and 15 minutes to make and will serve a family of four when done.

Ingredients

  • 600ml full-fat milk
  • 400g skinless white fish fillet
  • 400g skinless smoked haddock fillet
  • 100g butter
  • 50g plain flour
  • 50g cheddar, grated
  • 4 cloves
  • 4 egg
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 1kg floury potato, peeled and cut into even-sized chunks
  • small bunch parsley, leaves only, chopped
  • pinch freshly grated nutmeg

Method

  1. Poach the fish by placing the fish in a frying pan and pouring over 500ml of the milk. Stud each onion quarter with a clove and then add to the milk along with the bay leaves. Bring the milk just to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for eight minutes. Lift the fish onto a plate and strain the milk into a separate jug to cool before flaking the fish into large pieces and placing in the baking dish.
  2. Hard boil the eggs before peeling and slicing into quarters. Arranged the quartered eggs on top of the fish then scatter over the chopped parsley.
  3. Make the sauce by melting the butter in a pan before stirring in the flour and cooking for one minute over a medium heat. Take the mixture off the heat and pour in a little of the cold poaching milk, then stir until combined. Continue to add milk gradually until you have a smooth sauce. Return the sauce to the heat and boil for five minutes, stirring continually until the sauce coats the back of your spoon. Remove the sauce from the heat, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg before pouring over the fish in the baking dish.
  4. Pre-heat over to 200c/180c for fan and 6 for gas. Boil the potatoes for 20 minutes before draining and seasoning with salt and pepper. Mash the cooked potatoes using the remaining butter and milk, then use the mashed potato to top the pie, starting at the edge of the dish and working your way in. Fluff the top of the mashed potato with a fork and then sprinkle over the cheese before baking the whole pie in the oven for 30 minutes.

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nicole.westley

By Nicole Westley

As a food lover Nicole can often be found in the kitchen, covered in flour and experimenting with new tastes! When not making a mess she loves to explore her Celtic roots by roaming the Scottish countryside or exploring the bays along the Anglesey coast with her fiancé.