Tag: trips

Lunch at Chimay, Belgium

The day after that much-needed R&R, since we knew the weather was going to be bad again, we decided to drive into Belgium just for the day, hoping that the skies over there were blue and not grey!

We drove to Chimay, a lovely town in Belgium not far from the French border.  As you can see, the weather was no different in France!  It was lunch time by the time we arrived and the plan was to look for a restaurant where we can have some mussels, frits and Belgian beer.  I love the Belgian Belgos restaurant in London, you see.  I wanted to have a taste of it in its home country.  But was in for a disappointment.  It was a sunday and the few restaurants that were open, didn’t serve them.

But all wasn’t lost.  Had a taste of Chimay beer and it was delish!

We went around the little town in the rain and took shelter inside this very old church.

And when the weather improved, headed out doors once again.

There really wasn’t much to see, because it was a Sunday and most shops, restaurants and tourist places were shut.  But in spite of that, still enjoyed our little drive into Belgium.

On our way back into France, I just had to take a photo of the old, boarded-up border control between Belgium and France.  I wonder, when was the last time this was used?

Linking this post-up with PODcast’s #WhatsTheStory.

Have a lovely week ahead folks!

L is for Landscape

Driving away from Calais, we were greeted by the French countryside.

Ah the French countryside … Beautiful, isn’t it?

These photos were taken from inside our car, except for the one below,

I took it when we had to stop when we did a wrong turn.

The French landscape is a bit different from the English one.

For one I think they have more space (obviously since France is so much bigger than England!). They also don’t have any hedges on the side of the road like the one we have here.  What they have lovely tree-lined-roads, which sadly, I wasn’t able to capture.

And as we drove on towards the Picardy region, we were greeted by a downpour like I’ve never experienced in England before.  It was that bad.  For awhile, my husband even struggled to see, as our windshield wipers were having a hard time keeping up with the rain.  Ah the rain, for the next few days, it hardly stopped.  It almost felt like it was going to rain all through-out our holiday.  Summers in England are a bit famous for that, but in France?  We were promised warm and bright days…

To be continued.

L is for Landscape.

Linking-up with #alphabetphotographyproject

We're going on a Road Trip!

Here’s one-year-old T, keeping herself busy with a Cbeebies magazine.  We also brought loads of her favourite picture books, toys which we would give to her every time she became impatient during the very-long-road trip. At that age, she also loved “In the Night Garden” and would listen to the soundtrack again and again, which drove us mad, but seemed to calm her down.

The last time we went on a road trip was after little T turned one.  We travelled all the way from Cornwall-Bristol-Birmingham-Chester-The Lake District and finally to a small cabin near the woods in Loch Awe, Scotland.  And on our way back to England, we dropped by Heptonstall in Yorkshire to visit my favourite American poet’s grave, Sylvia Plath.

And here’s our little cabin by the woods in a tiny little village called Dalavich.  This was our home for ten days.  Yes, it rained A LOT, but we also had sunshiny days, enough for us to be able to explore that area of Scotland.  We even managed a ferry trip from Oban!

Our next trip will be from Cornwall to Dover and take a ferry to Calais.  From there we drive to Picardy, where we’re booked to stay in a villa at Eurocamp for ten days.  Since little T is starting school this September, we also decided to take her to Disneyland in Paris.  It will be her first time (mine too!) so we’re really looking forward to that!

I love the countryside (anywhere in the world) so the plan is to explore as much French countryside as we can and also do a day-trip to Belgium and Germany.  But we’ll see what happens when we get there. One thing we learned from our last road-trip is to be prepared for plans to unravel (especially when travelling with a little one).  Like that time Scotland, when we were on our way to catch a train to see the Scottish Highlands and little T vomited all over her fleecy.  While we did bring change of clothing for her, we didn’t have an extra fleecy or cardigan she could wear under her coat.  This is Scotland folks, while it was early Autumn when we were there, it was still too cold to travel around with a just a coat on. So we changed our plans and decided to go to Oban and buy her a new fleecy.  But it turned out to be a nice day-out for us after all in spite the change of plans – that’s when we decided to hop on a ferry to see Balamory, but we didn’t have the time to get off.  It was really just a ferry-ride and see What’s-the-strory-in-Balamory-wouldn’t-you-like-to-know from afar.

My word of the week is therefore – excited! And what makes this road-trip even more special and exciting is that I have two family members whom I’m really close to, coming all the way from home, to join us in this road-trip –  double-triple-quadruple-yay!

So the first week of July will probably be spent showing my lovely family around Cornwall.  By then they would’ve had a few days in London and in Bath (they love Jane Austen).  Then we drive off to France for ten days!

Are you going somewhere nice over the holidays too?

Do you also enjoy road-trips like I do?

This post is linked up with #WOTW and #PoCoLo

Have a lovely weekend folks!

Top Three Things to do in London

preferably without a little person in tow.

Before little T was born, my husband and I used to visit the capital to watch musicals, plays, visit museums/galleries, restaurants or just mooch around the city of London without really any difficulty at all, remember those days?

If we saw a restaurant or pub that seemed interesting, we would just stroll into it without even thinking – Are kids allowed in there?   The last time we were in London, we took refuge in a pub when the little darling was getting a little bit whingy, not knowing that it was a no-kids-allowed-zone.  We only found out when my husband went to the bar to order a couple of pints and a glass of squash.  Thankfully the bartender didn’t show us the door and no one gave us an uncomfortable stare, though we did finish our drinks as fast as we could.

My husband and I were talking about city breaks the other day, and I thought perhaps it would be better to go in the summer, so I’ve thought about a few things I’d like to do but then realised that the list I made wasn’t exactly child-friendly, though of course you could still do it and just risk annoying other people, especially if you’re an expert on wearing a deadpan face, which I’m not.

Photo credit here.

1.  Regent’s Park Open Theatre.

Have you ever watched a Shakespeare play at the Regent’s Park Open Theatre?  I haven’t and I would love to do this someday.  Perhaps, when little T is old enough to appreciate Shakespeare, or when she’s ready to be left with a babysitter.

 This is one of those, why didn’t we think of doing that before she was born?  The again, it’s not that easy for us to do when you live down in Cornwall, unless we’re visiting the in-laws up in Beds.

Photo credit here.

2.  Somerset House

How about – have you ever watched a movie in the outdoor cinema in the Somerset House, perfect for those long-summer evenings? This may actually be doable, especially if it’s a family oriented film. Ooh!  I wonder if there’s anything good scheduled for the summer?

Photo credit here.

3.  English Opera House

Last on the this very short list is to watch opera at the English Opera House in London.  Perhaps, even dress like a “grown-up”? How do you do that?

I hear Mozart’s Cosi Fan Tutte ENO production is on sometime in May.  The plot sounds intriguing: Two young men tests the virtues of their fiancées by trying to seduce each others betrothed.  I wonder if Little T will find that interesting?  She would be if the two-young men would be dressed in very pink fairy costumes!

I’m not really a big fan of the opera, but I’ve always wanted to experience watching at least one. Imagine watching though with a little kid in tow – Mummy, why is she singing like that?  And as the orchestra reaches its crescendo, you’ll see a little person covering her ears, squinting her eyes and screaming  – It’s too loud mummy! or I can’t see them Mummy!  We are too far away!  I promise you though, she’ll look really cute doing it!

At that point, I can either –

a)  Pretend she isn’t mine.

b)  Totally ignore her along with the stares.

c) Glare at anyone who gives-us-the-what-on-earth-were-you-thinking-bringing-a-three-year-old-to-watch-opera look.

Have you ever been caught in a situation like this?

If yes, how did you manage?

Do share.

This is a sponsored post, however opinions are by Yours Truly.

Also linked with #PoCoLo.

T and the Gothic Cathedral of Salisbury

Here are some important facts one should know about Salisbury Cathedral:

1.  It is was once known as the Cathedral Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

2.  This lovely cathedral is considered one of the best examples of early English architecture.

3.  Unlike other ancient cathedrals in the UK which were built over hundreds of years, Salisbury Cathedral’s main building on the other hand, was made only within 38 years (1220-1258).

4.  It has the tallest spire in England.

5.  Inside the cathedral you’ll find one of the world’s oldest working clock ( AD 1386)

6.  Lastly, the Cathedral of Salisbury has the best surviving of the four original copies of the Magna Carte.

Inside the magnificent Cathedral.

Old regiment flags on display inside the Cathedral.

In every old cathedral or church I visit, I always take time to look at the people buried on the church’s floor.  It doesn’t matter whether they are famous or not, like this grave of a doctor buried in 1696.

And of course this being a well-known cathedral, you’ll also find effigies of famous people like Lord John Cheney who was the brother of the Dean of Salisbury and was also the bodyguard and chief henchman of King Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII.  He was knighted by all three.

Can you see the medieval vandals on the effigy?  I wonder though what they meant?  You can make out some letters but not really any words.

T trying to peer at the model of the Cathedral with other kids.  She was actually tip-toeing.  Poor kid.

I love the arches of this gothic cathedral.

T actually wanted to play on the grass, we had to explain that it was off limits to visitors.

Fine she says, planting her little bum on one of the nearby benches.

Salisbury Cathedral is definitely worth a visit.  When we were there, since it was a sunday, a mass was about to begin, but I was too hungry to wait and when I’m hungry, I get really grumpy.  So for everyone’s sake I thought it was best to leave and hunt down a place to eat.

This is the part two of A Visit to Salisbury post and even though technically, Salisbury is a city, it is also known as the city in the countryside,  hence the reason for linking this up with Coombe Mill’s Country kids.

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

A Visit to Salisbury

Salisbury City is known as the city in the countryside.  Perhaps because it is surrounded by the beautiful English countryside, I bet if you live here, it won’t feel like you’re living in an urban area at all.  This medieval cathedral city with its old timbered buildings, world-famous Gothic cathedral and home to the magna carte is an absolute-must-visit when in  the UK.  So it isn’t surprising that after our trip to Stonehenge, a visit to Salisbury was on our next agenda.

Pub Lunch

We were ravenous after our busy morning spent in the ancient stones of Stonehenge.  So as soon as we drove into Salisbury, we were on a hunt for a place to eat.  Lucky for us, the Cloisters, a mid-14th century pub was close to where we parked.  Not knowing anything about this pub, we didn’t know what to expect at all.

What can I say about The Cloisters?  Four words:  good food and great service.  In fact, we would rate this restaurant with a five star rating.  It was way past lunch-time on a Sunday when we visited.  It was busy, but we still managed to find a nice cosy corner to plant our weary selves in.

You’ll see a lot of the lovely exposed beams and other 14th century features inside this lovely pub.  Since it was a sunday, the husband and J were able to sample their sunday roast which they absolutely loved. As for me, I had a mouthwatering chicken dish and T had fish fingers which were obviously made and not store-bought, so was really pleased and impressed by that.

But what really struck us was not the delicious food, there are loads of pubs and restaurants out there that serve really good food too.  What really impressed us was the outstanding service!  The lovely man who served us whom I think was the manager (though the husband had this feeling that he was also the owner of the pub) made us absolutely feel like important people.  After the meal, while on our way to the loo he asked T if she enjoyed the meal.  T said: Yes I did.  But I need a wee now.

It’s just a lovely feeling to go to a restaurant or a pub and there you are made to feel really, really welcome, as if they themselves personally invited you in.  That is priceless!  Wouldn’t it be great if all pubs and restaurants were like that?

So if you’re anywhere in Salisbury and want a lovely meal with superb service, do drop by The Cloisters for a visit.  You won’t regret it.  If you’re lucky enough, this nice man might be there to serve you. If you have an FB account, please like their page here and you’ll also find directions on how to find them on their page.  If not their address is: 83 Catherine Street, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2DH or phone them at 01722 338102.  If you do get to visit, please tell the lovely man that T sends her regards.  It won’t be difficult to find him, he has white hair and will greet you with a lovely warm smile.  Yes, that’s him.

Around Salisbury

There are loads of things to do and see around this ancient city.  If you’re a National Trust member like us, you can drop by and see the elegant 18th century Mompesson House which was used in the movie Sense and Sensibility.

Mompesson House seen from afar.

And for those Military history enthusiasts, you will enjoy the Rifles Museum which highlights the actions of the regiments over the last 270 years.

If you’re not much into history like I am, walking around this city in the countryside will be enough to give you pleasure.  You will find an interesting building almost in every corner, like this one:

Don’t you just love old buildings with their quirky walls and designs?

And here’s a very old drain pipe.  I wonder what year it was installed?

Ancient door and walls … If they could speak, what would it tell us?

Novelist and Nobel Prize Winner William Golding used to be a schoolmaster in this former school-building.

And I took a photo of this one because I liked what it said “Life is but a walking shadow” and also liked that it was set against a grey sky.

Salisbury Cathedral

And of course, a visit to Salisbury wouldn’t be complete without stepping inside it’s ancient Norman Cathedral.

There it is!  

To be continued…

Chepstow Castle, Wales

Those who have been following my blog will know that we had an American friend visit us last month and because of this, we had the lovely opportunity to turn into tourists, as we showed him parts of England (especially in Cornwall where we live), and some places we’ve never been before as mentioned on a couple of posts (here and here).  Then we drove up to Bristol to stay with another good friend which gave us a chance to show him the city which is very dear to our little family.  And most importantly, meet up with more good friends, it was like a mini-reunion for all of us who have met, volunteered and lived together in Ghana many years ago.

Our Bristol friend then took us to the land of the red dragon – Wales.

This is Chepstow Castle.

A short(ish) drive from Bristol is Chepstow Castle, the oldest surviving post-Roman stone fortification in the UK.  It is perched up above the banks of the river Wye. The castle was made in 1067 under instructions from the Norman Lord William FitzOsbern, a year after William The Conqueror was crowned King of England.  FitzOsbern was later made Earl of Hereford, apparently his was one of the first peerage titles in English Aristocracy.

The castle was further expanded in 1189-1300.

FitzOsbern’s Great Tower seen above.

Inside the great tower.

Amazing medieval carvings can still be seen on the corner walls, which makes one think If only these carvings could talk, imagine what they would say?  The history it would tell, stories of ancient battles, Lords and Mistresses who have resided in this castle over the centuries …

 Part of the arch built to separate the first floor room in the great tower in the 13th century.  The intricate details are still very much visible as seen on the photo above.

Little T had great fun exploring the medieval castle with her own red dragon bought by our Bristol friend and her little Grommit hanging by her belt.

The breathtaking views of the Welsh countryside as seen through an ancient window.

A medieval door was currently being restored when we visited.

A definite must-visit when in Wales!

Click here for more of Chepstow’s history and directions on how to visit this lovely Norman castle.

This post is linked with Coombe Mill’s country kids.