If you told me a few years back I would go on a weekend away with friends I'd never actually met in person before then I would have said you were mad. Crazy. Don't be so ridiculous!

Yet there I was packing my whole family off for a weekend doing just that, and all thanks to a little app called, Instagram.

So how does a person make friends on Instagram you may wonder? This was me a few years back. What I originally thought was just an app to edit and slap a few filters on your photos has turned out to be so much more, enter a few relevant hashtags onto your pics, and it's like a whole new world opens up.

A world that at first I admired from afar not daring to comment on other peoples pictures. I mean wouldn't they think I was weird for commenting?? We were strangers to each other. Stranger danger and all that ;). I was however spurred on to make my account public by a picture-a-day project. Soon I was chatting back and forth with other people taking part in the project. From there it was like a knock-on effect, through commenting and chatting on other accounts you would connect and find even more accounts to follow.

Now everyone will use Instagram differently but for me it's a creative outlet and a place where I can pour my heart out, so not surprisingly they're the accounts that have best resonated with me. Therefore the friendships I've made there have become special as without even meeting we know so much about each other and our daily lives. We've championed each other in the good times, and offered our support through the bad. In the beginning it was mostly people overseas I was chatting with but soon I started to find people closer to home.

Which brings me to these three gorgeous girls, Sally, Lauren and Jules, who I was about to spend a whole weekend with, without so much as a little coffee date beforehand. A weekend away may seem a little extreme when it comes to meeting people in real life for the first time but after years of friendship and sharing our love for our families, photography, Instagram and blogging, it seemed like the most normal thing in the world to do.

Now it became the task of finding somewhere big enough to house us all. Eight adults and six children, the place would need to be big, and of course it would help if the settings and surroundings were Instagramable of course. Pretty sure that word will make it into the Urban Dictionary soon ;) Ha! just googled, and guess what? It is!

Sally found the perfect place and more in Holmthwaite, a beautiful three-storied Victorian townhouse boasting six bedrooms, four bathrooms, roll top bath, woodburner and plenty of living room space, nestled in the lovely village of Coniston. I'd never been to Coniston before but I adore the Lake District so I knew we'd be in for a treat, and I wasn't wrong.

So was I nervous about meeting people in, 'real life' for the first time after chatting for years? Strangely no. I just felt excitement at finally getting to give these girls a big squeeze in person, with the mental note to not be overly familiar with their children to the point of scaring the little guys! Did they not realise though that I've known them since birth??! Hi, it's Aunty Claire, ya know, from Instagram ;)

Now I could wax lyrical about these girls all day long, but I'll save you that. What I will say is that they are even more gorgeous and lovely in real life. Spending time with them was like spending time with some of my oldest and dearest friends. The chat flowed endlessly, all the children played happily, and our men found their very own Instagram husband support group ;)

To see how truly gorgeous the settings were I did a little two minute vlog about our stay below.

A Weekend with Friends at Holmthwaite, Coniston from Claire Stewart on Vimeo.

As you'll have seen in the vlog the lovely people over at HelloFresh supplied us with the most delicious meals for the weekend. If you've not heard of HelloFresh yet, they're a meal subscription company that take the hassle out of deciding what's for dinner and instead deliver fresh recipes to your door with the exact ingredients and quantities you will need.

I've heard amazing reports about how good their food is and I was not disappointed, each dish is restaurant standard and packed with so much flavour. Perfect for a foodie, a busy lifestyle or for someone who hates the whole shopping and cooking process, as their recipes are super easy and straight forward to follow.

Now it's not an Instagrammer/blogger weekend without a few cheesy shots! Thankfully, Lauren's partner, Colin was overseeing the cooking whilst we found ourselves hilarious in front of the camera ;). Thanks, Col! 

With our bellies full of food we had the perfect settings to walk it off, Coniston was looking it's finest on this cold and sunny winter's day.

After our long walk there was nothing better than going back to warm up in front of the woodburner with a glass of wine, and plenty of space for the kids to run about.

I'm still kicking myself for not taking advantage of the roll top bath we had next to our room, another visit me thinks!

An amazing weekend, with wonderful friends, beautiful settings, and delicious food. More of this, this year please. It is good for soul, that's for sure.

If you're interested in booking Holmthwaite for a family gathering or a weekend with friends everything you need can be found on their website here.  We found the owners so helpful and went above and beyond, especially when poor Jules and her husband had to abandon their car due to a flat tyre, on a sunday of all days, it was really lovely to have a local point of contact throughout our stay.

*A big thank you to Holmthwaite for hosting us all, and HelloFresh for providing all the food. All thoughts and opinions, as always, are my own.


  1. Ahhhh Claire, Such a gorgeous post! You've captured everything so well and I had THE best time with you girls. Your video is stunning too, amazing skills right there xxx Lots of love xxx

    1. Ahh right back at you, lady!! Let's get our next weekend organised! Missing you, ladies xx

  2. Soooo many amazing memories Claire! Love this so much! So beautifully written and you've captured so many gorgeous details in your vlog too! Love the pic of Mikey on the swing! Much love lady xxxx

    1. Aww, big love back to you all, darling! What a truly wonderful weekend, looking forward to the next one xx

  3. Mikey on the rope swing is such a superb photo! Think I want it as a keyring! Lovely write-up Claire, such a great weekend x

  4. I actually have made some very close friends via instagram!