10 ways (you may have not thought of) to spend Mother’s Day in North Hertfordshire
PUBLISHED: 19:46 25 March 2017 | UPDATED: 19:59 25 March 2017
With Mother’s Day tomorrow you may be needing some (very) last minute inspiration – or why not have a few ideas up your sleeve for next year? Here are 10 ways to spend it in North Hertfordshire.
1) Treat Yourself
• Tucked away on Old Knebworth Lane is an unassuming spa. On first appearance the Odyssey Spa could be mistaken for a corrugated warehouse, but when you enter the building you are transported into an oasis of relaxation and decadence. If you want to treat mum this year try booking in for a spa day. You can take advantage of the wet facilities, laze in the relaxation room in a comfy robe and slippers, sip on prosecco, have a delicious lunch and be pampered with two luxury Elemis treatments, all for £145.
The spa has a strict quiet policy so you are guaranteed a peaceful stay. The deep red materials draped throughout, candlelit nooks and perfect quiet all make for a truly memorable experience.
If you don’t want a treatment you can book in for a makeup masterclass, invite up to five people to join you and get creative with a professional makeup artist. Makeup novice? No problem, the basics are all covered and demonstrated for you to copy at home. Ask for any makeup look you desire, from a smoky eye with cat flicked liner to quick and easy ‘mum on the run’ tips.
• Whether it’s in St Paul’s Walden or Hitchin, the Haelan Therapy Centre has plenty to offer. Rebecca Kelly started the business after her mother was diagnosed with cancer for the third time. Experiencing this made Rebecca realise her dreams of being a therapist, but also want to heal the mind, body and soul of her clients. Using a wide range of alternative therapies Haelan specialises in bringing inner peace, serenity and awareness to those that deserve a little TLC. Their theory is that the mind and emotional state must be treated before the body can begin to heal.
One of the most interesting therapies they offer is ‘equine facilitated coaching’. It sounds strange, but apparently horses have incredibly refined intuitive powers. Not only will the horse engage with the client, they have also been said to create a relaxed environment for the client to talk openly about their mental state and emotions. Rebecca and her team also provide transformational coaching, similar to talking therapy, allowing clients to understand and unleash their full potential in everyday life. Physical treatments include Reiki, which is said to change the body’s energy balance for general wellbeing, and massage using the forearms to create more pressure and intensity in troubled areas of the body. The team offer full consultations before any treatment to ensure that your every need is met.
• Looking for a different type of treat all together? Check out Annie’s Chocolate Emporium in Letchworth. Browse around the stacks, boxes, pots and bags filled with mouth-watering chocolates. Pick up your own pick-’n’-mix of sweet treats, or help mum create her own filled with childhood favourites. Annie’s also offers personalised hamper making, cram it full and share with mum.
2) Get Out and About
• If mum has a need for speed, take a trip to Teamworks Karting in Letchworth. They cater for up to 40 people in a group and host the races on a huge, indoor circuit laden with tricky corners. The karts are highly responsive with high speed results for the competitive racers. With five races per driver and a podium presentation afterwards, you’ll leave feeling like Schumacher – or Hamilton, depending on your preference. At £50pp it’s a steal of a price for a day of high-speed fun.
• A great option for a family celebrating the day with children is another Letchworth favourite, Standalone Farm. Just in time for Mother’s Day, lambing season has begun and the newborns are being bottle fed everyday for visitors to watch. Newly hatched chicks are there for you to meet and there are miniature Shetland grooming sessions for you to take part in from 4pm everyday. Cow milking, tractor rides and a brand new café on site make this an occasion for the whole family. Entry is £7 for adults and £5.50 for children, while under 2s go free.
• If you want a slow paced day out for Mother’s Day try the Great Ashby walk on the outskirts of Stevenage, where you can explore five different woodlands. The Serpentine and Thirlmere woods are most notable for their elms that have been untouched by the destructive Dutch elm disease so far. Brooches Wood and Claypit Hill are both great spots for bird watching and exploring. The whole walk, meandering around the wooded sites, could take up to two hours and is a great way to exercise, get out and about and spend quality time with mum this Mother’s Day.
3) Learn Something
• North Hertfordshire is a treasure chest for historical gems with plenty to see and do. The British Schools Museum in Hitchin is the perfect experience day for a keen historian with live Victorian lessons taking place in the restored classrooms. ‘Pupils’ are reprimanded for dirty nails, speaking out of turn and bad handwriting, having to wear the dunce hat or write lines as a punishment. Attend on the first Sunday of each month at 2.30pm or 3.30pm for your Victorian lesson, adult entry costs £5.50 and children (aged 5-17) £3. Now providing an eye opening insight into the Victorian education system, the British Schools Museum was originally opened as a school in 1837, a full 80 years before the government permitted every child to have free elementary education.
Until July 2 the exhibition ‘Life on Dead Street: Hitchin’s Victorian Families’ will be offering a realistic experience of Hitchin high street’s past as a relatively deprived area. The sights, sounds and smells make this an unforgettably realistic and thought-provoking presentation.
• If mum is an ancient history fanatic or just loves a mystery, why not take her to the Royston cave? A mystery beneath the streets, the exact history and purpose of the cave is little understood, but it is filled with glimpses into Hertfordshire history. Obscure historical images of religious figures and monarchy decorate the inside of the bell-shaped cave and the light relief sculptures are something truly uncanny to witness. Next weekend, April 1 and 2, there will be guided tours around the cave. Adults pay £5 for entry but your visit can’t be pre-booked so make sure you arrive early.
4) Take a Break
• North Herts is home to some of the most talked about cafés and coffee shops that would be a shame for you to miss this Mother’s Day. Whether you’re shopping around the town centres or just running errands, don’t forget to give mum a call and catch up over a coffee. Coffee and Bagel Bar – in the heart of Hitchin town centre – serves artisan bagels and freshly baked cakes for an afternoon pick-me-up. They use Caravan coffee in store, which is also available for purchase either as beans, or ground to your preference. Ask for a latte and you will receive a quality cup of fresh coffee with milk art. It’s unsurprising that this place has been listed in The Guardian’s top 50 coffee bars.
• Walkern’s Brewery Tea Rooms and Gift Shop is award-winning for their freshly brewed, responsibly sourced coffee, wide selection of teas, home made bakes and charitable donations. Not only do the team care about the food and drink they serve, they also care about giving back and continuously raise money from gratuities and events for Macmillan Cancer Support and Children in Need, to name a couple. A perfect place for a catch up and a coffee, Brewery Tea Rooms is furnished comfortably with a quirky, country kitchen feel. You can take mum for Sunday afternoon tea for £23.99 and sample a selection of their decadent desserts.
• In the picturesque village of Ashwell is Rhubarb and Mustard, a coffee shop and deli serving locally sourced homemade bakes and lunches. As a result, Rhubarb and Mustard have managed to help keep other local businesses afloat and share their pride in Ashwell with all of their happy customers. While you slurp their chocolate bar hot chocolate, why not pick up a few truffles to take home with you? Failing that, have a look at their jam and organic olive oil selection, or the eclectic mix of gifts and homeware.
• The Groundworks in Hitchin is a hub for coffee aficionados and ‘brunchers’, with its speciality coffees and fancy loose leaf teas. The trendy menu also serves smashed avocado on toast and overnight chia bowls, but for a real treat try a stack of pancakes. Gluten free options are available and everything in store is either Fairtrade or made using healthier alternatives. Brunch is served from 9:00-16:00 on Sunday.
• If you want a truly awe-inspiring adventure then take a trip to Knebworth House. The turreted, gargoyle-clad brick building dates back to the Tudor period but has been adjusted by Lytton heirs to meet the trends of the centuries that followed. An amalgamation of Tudor, Gothic and Victorian styles makes Knebworth House a piece of living history.
One of the most famous residents was Edward Bulmer-Lytton, the Victorian novelist and playwright, who famously said ‘The pen is mightier than the sword’. It is now possible to wander the halls that Edward occupied because the current resident Henry Lytton-Cobbold offers a historical tour, discussing his predecessors from 1490 onwards.
Many famous faces have been spotted in Knebworth House, using the building as a backdrop to films such as The King’s Speech, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Charles Dickens was also said to have been a visitor of the Lytton’s, apparently being inspired by the works of Edward. The surrounding park continues to be actively part of the modern world, with music performances by The Rolling Stones and Queen taking their own place in history. For a beautiful country walk and illustrious architecture, take mum for a memorable stroll of the grounds or a tour inside.
6) Be Inspired
• Broadway in Letchworth has a performance of ‘Gandini Juggling’ showing on Saturday, April 1, at 8pm. For a production with a difference, this is the one to watch. Combining ballet with circus juggling you will feel like you’re watching a Cirque de Soleil, mesmerised by the complex movements and stamina of the performers. From £17pp it’s a bargain for such an artistic display.
• Shows not your thing? Pay a visit to David’s Books and Music – just a short walk away in Eastcheap – for all your book browsing needs. Stocking new, old, rare and out of print books in a wide variety of genres, you will leave wanting to read everything on the shelves. Regular guest appearances and events mean that there is always a chance of bumping into your favourite author or getting a signing. On April 11 at 7.30pm James Wong, author of the cookbook ‘How to Eat Better’, will be paying a visit to discuss his work and answer questions. If mum loves cooking this is an opportunity to hear about James’ ways of making meals healthier, tastier and more nutrient dense. Tickets are £6.
• If you and mum are music lovers you can watch performances from the Allegri String Quartet at Benslow Music in Hitchin. Taking place on Friday, March 31, at 8pm for £12, the music is sure to amaze you. Playing Mozart and other famous composers’ pieces, the group bring the traditional quartet style into the present. Similarly, adding a modern twist on classical music is the all female group the Camilli String Quartet, who are playing at the Arts and Heritage Centre in Baldock Town Hall on Mothering Sunday from 3pm to 4pm, tickets are £6 each or £20 for four. Take an hour out of your day to appreciate their talent and their classical renditions of contemporary music, including a song by Coldplay.
• There are so many opportunities in North Herts for you and mum to get creative and have fun. Workshops are one way of harnessing your artistic talents to make individual pieces, or just to learn a new craft. All in One Season: Dutch Floral Design is a flower arranging workshop in Letchworth’s Sollershot East with a difference. Created and taught by Alice, originally from Holland, with a love of nature, creating and building, the three-hour workshops are always different and wonderfully imaginative. All the material you need is provided for the class, as well as tea, coffee and homemade cakes. Get an insight into how to handle flowers, arrange them and present them in unusual and beautiful ways. Classes usually cost around £130 for two people.
• The Art Nest in Hitchin provides interesting workshops all year round, but these get booked up very fast! On April 5 there is a life drawing class taking place from 7pm to 9pm. And for mums that love to dance, The Spirella Ballroom in Letchworth holds Sunday Dance Club for participants at any skill level to try a lesson in Latin and ballroom dancing. Pay £7.50 to enter and be instructed by professionals. They also have a licensed bar for interludes, as well as plenty of free parking.
• At Jolly Brown in Hitchin their motto is ‘Relove, reuse, recycle’ and that speaks for everything they sell. The store specialises in vintage goods that can be re-homed to create a sustainable, eco-friendly cycle of buy, use, sell. But these products are far from the moth bitten, musty smelling hand-me-downs that some stores promote, staff at Jolly Brown wash and iron every item, as well as repairing if necessary. If you and mum are shopping for something other than clothes and accessories you can also get your hands on some eclectic homeware. Woven baskets, trinkets, soft furnishings and materials are all on offer at reasonable prices.
The most inspiring thing about Jolly Brown is that it has a dedication to sustainability and supporting independent artisans around the world. By purchasing a pair of Moroccan Babouche slippers, £36, you are helping to keep the Moroccan craftsmen in business. Products are also sourced from India and Turkey.
• Sister run store, Hermitage Rd. & Co. is also another to check out while in Hitchin. With plenty of trendy homeware and gifts to browse you may find yourself wiling away an afternoon in there. Quirky and comical gifts, copperware, rustic furniture and innovative accessories fill the shop. The trend aware pair stock geometric and minimalist products, perfect for modern mums.
All that shopping will make you hungry, so Hermitage Bar and Restaurant – upstairs from Hermitage Rd. & Co. – is a lively hang out for a top meal, cocktails and live music. On weekends it is bustling with activity and filled with hungry, returning customers. This Mother’s Day they are offering a special menu with three courses costing £30, but if it’s fully booked then make a note for next year! There are Sunday acoustic sessions from 7pm to 9pm with £5 cocktails, plus there is live music on Friday nights. On Mothering Sunday Alex Francis will be playing a bluesy, soulful set, creating a great atmosphere to finish off your day.
• Bushel and Strike in Ashwell was originally built as a brewery in 1854 and has since been transformed into the country pub it is today. A finalist in Hertfordshire Life’s Food and Drink Awards 2016, Bushel is offering a tempting three course Mother’s Day menu for £27.50, including their delicious toffee panna cotta with praline ice cream. Their chef, Martin Nisbet, has worked at Michelin star restaurants in London and France, and prides himself on his traditional cooking with a modern twist. Preparing hearty dishes based on the best seasonal produce, Martin sources vegetables and meat from Ashwell suppliers to guarantee his customers a high quality feast. Cocktails are served in jam jars and there is seating in the spacious garden area with terrific views of the neighbouring church. It is definitely a view to appreciate with mum, whether it’s this year or next.
• Don’t want to leave? Be our guest…The Fox at Willian, just outside Letchworth, was originally established in 1750 as a pub called The Orange Tree. Centuries later and it is still a much-loved pub. Spruced up and renamed by the Anglian Country Inns team, not only will this place offer you a Michelin meal, fine wine and ales, it is also a hotel with eight beautifully decorated bedrooms. Each room has its own individual style, thoughtfully designed by the team to be the ultimate in relaxation and calm. Their superior suites come with a standalone, roll top bath complimented by views of the perfectly pruned gardens for mums that deserve a special treat.
Technologically savvy? The Fox has thought of it all; HD televisions in every room, free Wi-Fi and charging docks are just some of the handy add-ons that give a contemporary feel to this classic, country retreat. All the while tea and coffee facilities, walk in showers, ambient lighting and decorative fireplaces create a perfectly cosy, second-home feel.
The on-site restaurant is a two AA rosette winner serving modern British cuisine from head chef Sherwin Jacobs. If you want to try posh nosh in comfortable, laid back surroundings this is the one to try. With words like ‘panache’, ‘infused’, ‘charred’ and ‘velouté’ on the menu you are sure to feel like you’re dining with royalty, but don’t be sold on the idea of meagre portions and pomp, a Sunday roast here is hearty and there’s no scrimping on the portions. Like lashings of gravy on your roast? Consider it taken care of. You can be sure of a fresh, lovingly prepared meal as the team have compiled a menu based around what can be locally sourced and the chef prepares food with seasonal, quality ingredients.
The Fox also has an extensive wine list for the sophisticated sippers in your party, as well as well-kept beers and ales for the aficionados. Enjoy your meal in the spacious restaurant or at the light and bright bar.
• If you’re looking for somewhere different to spend a night then try ‘glamping’ in Guilden Gate Smallholding – although you will need to nip across into South Cambridgeshire as it’s based in Bassingbourn, not far from Royston. Here glamorous camping takes on a much deeper meaning about sustainability and ecology that Simon and Jacqueline Saggers, the founders and creators of Guilden Gate, take pride in. ‘Glamping’ at their ‘Secret Garden’ or ‘Coppice Woodland’ sites is the cleaner, drier version of camping with the same outdoorsy experiences and closeness to nature.
If the whole family want to celebrate an occasion at Guilden Gate you can share a campsite that comes complete with all the tools and facilities you will need. Sleep in a 1970s VW camper van, cook on the open fire, have a solar heated shower or soak in the wood-fired hot tub. There are also shelters to picnic under if it rains and a large domed hobbit hole to get a night’s rest in.
No electricity means no technology for the weekend so sit around the fire and rid yourself of everyday stresses. This is the perfect way to spend the night with your nearest and dearest whilst respecting the planet. The Saggers’ are all about natural, biodegradable and reusable products so why not ask them more about their domestic wind turbine, rainwater harvesting and reed bed water recycling? Prices are from £200 per night.
And if you sample just a handful of the above, a good night’s sleep will be guaranteed.