Then in 1999 with my husband we moved to France and bought a 12th century chateau in The Lot region, Le Chateau de Cavagnac. After only one month, my husband was diagnosed with a brain tumour, and sadly passed away a year later. Not ready to return to the UK, I returned once again to Italy, this time to Florence where I had a small B&B with 100 olive trees, apricot, kiwi, cherry and plum trees on a Tuscan hill!
For 10 years I inspected for Alastair Sawday's guide book 'Special Places to Stay Italy'. (now www.sawdays.co.uk) where I was able to visit the most wonderful villas, B&B, hotels and palaces, finding truly ‘special’ places mainly in Tuscany and sometimes Rome, Puglia and Umbria and tasting wines and olives from their various olive groves and vineyards. Here I found the best places to eat true Italian food in the trattorias and ristorante hidden from tourists. These are the ones we love and which have inspired us.
In 2013 with my daughter Abbi and granddaughter Jessica, we returned to Yorkshire, bringing a little of what we love about Italy to share with like-minded people. We bought the Royal Oak in Nunnington, hoping to make it our life-time dream of running a pub. Unfortunately, without being able to acquire any supportive income for the pub, it sadly closed in 2017.
Abbi grew up on a dairy farm in Rosedale Abbey with her three brothers. She went to school in York and then to Nice in France and the British Institute in Florence, Italy. She had several interesting jobs during her 12 years in Italy, working in Florence at the Pandolfini Villa, interpreting for the wine tastings and cookery courses, as a tour operator with a fleet of vintage Fiat 500 cars, driving around Florence on guided tours, olive oil and wine tasting!
She also worked for Alastair Sawday inspecting for his guide book. She was manager of the Royal Oak, both behind the bar and in the kitchen. She has been involved in the hospitality industry for many years and has a passion for food and Italy!
The Royal Oak is now our home and as we love entertaining and cooking, we look forward to welcoming you to our Supper Club, and to Nonna’s Italian cooking classes. Bringing once again, ‘Where Yorkshire meets Tuscany’.