It’s been four weeks since my last post as my “Season of Stress” took over and this blog was lower down on my list of priorities. But I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel and I’ve taken advantage of a few days off from my day job to catch up here and in a few other areas of my life that have been neglected.
October has been a very busy month with both work and social events; one of the most fun has been a staycation this past weekend with my parents. My parents’ birthdays are very close together in August and my initial plan was to take them away for the weekend somewhere in the UK that they would like to visit. My mum wasn’t fully on board with the idea, partly because of the cost, so I suggested that they come and stay at our house which is about an hour from them and I’d organise a staycation. They loved this idea and arrived mid-afternoon on Saturday ready to spend some quality time together.
We started with a walk into the centre of our village, visited the market where we bought some handmade chocolate truffles and stopped off at an independent coffee shop for a hot drink and a cake. We had a look round a couple of boutiques (didn’t buy anything for a frugal win!) and then headed home to freshen up for dinner.
I’d booked a table at the award winning Nutter’s Restaurant in Rochdale, just 20 minutes from us. It’s pricey with most main courses at or above £20 but was well worth it for a special occasion – the food, service and ambience is all exceptional. We even had a chat with Mrs Nutter, mother of celebrity chef Andrew Nutter and a brilliant hostess, about a gorgeous chandelier in the main dining room.
Next morning, after a light breakfast at home, we made our way to Manchester which is about 40 minutes in the car. Although I live so close there’s plenty I haven’t seen in this lovely city and the same could be said for my boyfriend and my parents. We started at the Manchester Museum, part of the University of Manchester and free to visit with a wide range of exhibitions. I particularly enjoyed the Fossils with the huge cast of a real Tyrannosaurus Rex named Stan and the Vivarium (a container, often with a glass front, in which small animals, especially small reptiles, are kept as pets or so that they can be studied).
Next up was the Whitworth Art Gallery, also part of the University of Manchester and again free to visit set within the green and serene Whitworth Park. We enjoyed lunch in the cafe in the amazing glass based building overlooking the park and Art Garden. Following this refuelling, we wandered the gallery which is currently exhibiting a range of artists, my favourite being Alice Kettle: Thread Bearing Witness, a series of large textiles focusing on refugee displacement and with contributions from refugees.
After a day of culture, we walked over to Spinningfields and enjoyed a drink at The Oast House which was hosting a brilliant solo artist on the guitar and piano, singing an eclectic range of popular songs from the 70s up to the present day. Following that, we made our way to the gorgeously stylish restaurant Tattu and somehow managed to get a table under their beautiful cherry blossom tree. My new favourite restaurant for food, service and decor – particular highlights were the lobster and prawn toasts, wagyu dumpling and chilli salt baby squid. I’m only sorry we were so full we couldn’t fit in dessert!
Monday was our last day and we spent the morning in Bury, wandering around their famous market (make sure to visit on a Wednesday, Friday or Saturday for the full experience!). My boyfriend had stayed at home as he was feeling a bit under the weather so I bought him a cheese and onion pie, some chilli olives and an egg custard to cheer him up. We then made our way to Slattery’s in Whitefield, a 3 storey bakery and chocolatiers with on onsite cafe and school. We were wowed by the ornately decorated wedding cakes on display, watched live baking through the glass windows to the kitchens and then enjoyed an indulgent afternoon tea.
My parents then set off for their short journey home having thoroughly enjoyed their “weekend away” and with promises to do the same again for their Christmas present.
This was by no means a cheap weekend but bearing in mind I was originally planning to spend £300-£400 just on accommodation for the weekend we didn’t do too bad.
Chocolate truffles £8
Coffee and cakes £20
Meal at Nutter’s Restaurant £187
Parking in Manchester £12
Lunch at the Whitworth Art Gallery £38
Drinks at The Oast House £10
Meal at Tattu £147
Food from Bury Market £5
Afternoon tea at Slatterys £50
Total £477 or £119 per head
I think this is great value for money for three days of fun and indulgence and quality time with my boyfriend and parents, the people I love the most! We did save money on a few things – none of us are big drinkers so our bar bills are always low and we can save on taxis, using our home as the accommodation meant that we could have breakfast using food we already had in or would buy as part of our weekly shop anyway, and we were able to pick some free activities.
Having a successful staycation takes some planning and you need to consider what your family would enjoy. Free cultural activities balanced with more pricy meals was a good choice for my family but you may find something different works for you. All in all, we will definitely be doing it again and I’m already collating ideas for activities we might enjoy next time (I will also try to remember to take more photos next time, apologies but all those used above are from Pixabay!).
What about you? Have you had a staycation before? Or would you consider doing one in the future? What would be the priorities for your family?