The Yorkshire Cake…I mean Soap Company!

A little change of pace now from my last few posts, however rest assured the final instalment of the Goa Getaway will be with you by the end of the month. I just had to take a little detour and bring you back to the cold UK to take you, my readers, to the most wonderful shop I have ever stepped into. I was like Alice, at the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, amazed by what wonders were scattered so perfectly around me at the Yorkshire Soap Company.

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I stumbled upon it’s sugar pink walls and dark wood edges last weekend upon an impromptu visit to York. With the Frenchie (Gatsby) on lead we ventured out into the crisp, cold, northern weather with no plans in mind to shop, just to wander but I couldn’t help myself when I arrived here.

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Like a child at a sweet shop door or Imedla Marcos outside Christian Louboutin I danced inside to the enchanted little shop. There was soap everywhere, but not as we know it. Not those clinical white bars you find in hotels rooms or the fancier white bars you buy online. No. These were an amazing creation that I’d never seen before, a delectable selection of cake shaped soaps and treats.

After 5 minutes waiting outside for me in the cold, Gatsby & Scott were invited in, because at Yorkshire Soap Company they just love dogs and they would’t let Gatsby stay out in the cold one minute longer! So whilst the Frenchie snorted in delight with the copious amounts of attention, I was free to adventure further down the Rabbit hole.

Upon each polished wood table sat decedent, clear glass cake stands filled with Soap Cakes, each sliced into equal pieces with delicate flowers in each corner, some with fine glitter layers, others with whipped toppings and tiny rose buds, it was like art and almost too beautiful to use, too beautiful to touch. It was the best looking tea party you have ever been invited to!

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Next to the cakes were further treats, in the form of flower topped muffins and to the side of the grand table, little shelves of little truffles, each hand crafted to perfection and set in tiny truffle cases and the smells! It was what a soap shop should smell like. Unlike that over powering, stomach churning smell that seeps from every Lush store around the UK, you know the one that instantly reminds you of the time you ate too much chocolate as a child and spent the night groaning listening to your mother saying “I told you so…”. The smell at YSC were soft and clean, not over powering or powdery and each smell was better than the last.

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Chose your own bath truffles, such as Strawberry & Poppy Seed, Lavender Fields or Yorkshire Rose.

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As well as the beautiful bath truffles and layer cakes that met my eye, there were rough cut bars of soap, wrapped in paper ready to be taken home and used without worry of ruining the beauty of them.

The best part about all of this, is that it’s all made in the UK, in York, in fact just behind the shop itself. Doesn’t that just add to the product? If you want to experience the beauty of Yorkshire Soap Company, I strongly suggest a visit, but make sure you go on pay day, you won’t be able to resit…

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Goa Getaway – Panjim Excitement

It’s true to say that after just one day at the Alila Diwa Goa, we were in a very peaceful  and almost sedated state, floating from our room to the pool, to the Bistro to the Beach. I’ve never felt so relaxed, but before we could slip into an all day snooze in the sun we made ourselves have a day out and actually experience the cultural landscape of Goa.

So, we dared to take a taxi and travel 40 mins away from our comfortable resort and boy we were thrown right into the hustle and bustle of daily Goan life! The drive was picturesque to say the least, each road dotted with painted houses, like sweets poking out through heavy green vegetation and the smells that wound down every road were heady and new. It was another world and one I very much wanted to stay in.

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After some 45 minutes driving, pretty much in the middle of the road (it seems to be acceptable out there!) we arrived at Panjim around 11am and were thrown right into it. We were left to wander the beautiful and intriguing undercover markets that led you into the heart of the fruit & veg and flower stalls. Women & men lined each stall sitting crossed legged stitching  flowers together into rainbow bouquets and necklaces, all entranced in their craft.

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After passing by the many beautiful flower stalls, we regrouped outside where our transport awaited. The Tuk Tuk!

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At first my heart was in my mouth, beating with nerves at the thought of putting my life in the hands of this fast moving, wobbling vehicle! But I actually loved darting around in our little Tuk Tuk! It nipped down the streets on Panjim, weaving through traffic and revealing all the sites that stood around us. The harbor, the buildings, the Churches and the Temples. We were told by our driver that the Goan population is split between 3 religions, the main being Hinduism and Christianity making up 95% of the population. With this in mind we were taken to some of the main religious sanctuaries in Panjim to see how these religions differed.

First stop was Altinho Hill, upon which stood a beautiful white church that has been the focal point of many a Bollywood film and now quite the tourist attraction.

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The beautiful white stone setting was due to be flooded with people in a few days at the host of an annual feast held at the Church and for that reason, we couldn’t go inside, however the site of it from the outside was enough the excite our tourist needs.

Onto the next and we were back in our Tuk Tuk delving into the depths of the houses that surrounded Altinho. Another white stone church sat between houses, tucked away from the main road.

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Chili’s had been set aside in silver pans, left to dry in the sun. Dogs roamed around happily as the locals sat, just watching as we passed by.

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Tucked away in corners and off the road were elderly women, selling fruit and veg to passers by and without realising I managed to snap this picture.

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Here these women really are the supermarkets of Altinho and they sit out all day tending to their stock. It’s a totally different way of life out here, there is no imposing media, no glaring digital hand book and everyone is happy and very very relaxed. There seemed to be no note of stress in the air just people, getting on with life peacefully.

There was something truly peaceful about their places of worship and there home streets, something resting and calm which couldn’t have been more apparent when we reached the high point of our journey.

We had reached a beautiful Hindu temple at one of the highest points in Panjim with a spectacular view that stretched out for miles, over the trees and houses snuggly set between them and the sky line of Panjim. The Temple itself was painted a burnt orange col our inside and out with white edges. Sat on the top step was a very old lady, just monitoring everyone and smiling as the passers by and those who had come for solace.

Goa 25Everything was quite and warm. Each person that walked up the stone steps was silent in thought. We took off our shoes and joined them outside the Temple door where Hanuman, one of the India Gods was situated. Before entering the temple you had to pay your respects to the God by placing flowers on incense around him, before a short prayer.

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I stood at the temple entrance looking out at the view and the place around me. My bare feet felt warm upon the stone floor and I thought to myself there is no way we could ever be this calm and civilized in the UK!

So maybe we should all try and take some time out of our day to just relax. Sit down, close your eyes and just stop thinking about anything and everything. Or better yet, book an adventure to Goa and experience it first hand!

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Don’t miss out on the next installment…