Sunday, 28 June 2015

40 things to do before you're 40: Number 1 - Eat fish n chips on a pier

So some people around here may have just turned 39 and since then several people have asked me what I doing for the big 4-0. My dream (if I can afford it) is to go back to my life in California for a visit and to catch up with all my fabulous friends over there.

Now 40 is a big ol' number and to take away some of the freaking out, I've decided I may as well go big. Having already run a marathon and never planning on doing anything so ridiculous again, I turned to Dr.Google for inspiration and came across '40 things to do before you're 40'! Obviously being well travelled and immensely cool *ahem* I've already done a few of the things suggested but tasked myself with the idea of coming up with my own list. 

As I don't have oodles of money it hasn't got loads of far flung places on it or crazy ideas or anything unachievable, just some books I haven't read and probably should have, some films I haven't seen and again probably should have and some cool stuff that I've always fancied doing. I've decided not to give you the full list straight away but to try and blog about them as I tick them off.

Soooo to get started and not in any particular order, the first item that I've managed to complete was eating fish 'n' chips on the pier. This may sound easy and if you follow me on Instagram or Twitter you will probably know that we head to the beach at every opportunity and also eat fish n chips quite regularly but the usual seaside places that are close to us don't have piers. In the essence of going big (and seeing my brand new nephew) then why not head to a beach almost as far South as possible and go to Brighton which is exactly what happened yesterday, the sun even shone for me :)

Number one: ticked off!

Thursday, 28 May 2015 Tintagel, Cornwall

Tintagel is a tiny town on the coast of Cornwall and is supposedly the seat of King Arthur's Castle. Unfortunately we arrived too late to make it to the Castle and back (for someone so tall, I walk surprisingly slowly!!) but it looks amazing!

We decided that we would stay and potter around the village as rumour had it that there was a lovely fudge shop and oh my was there ever! It's called Granny Wobbly's Fudge Pantry and they have all kinds of beautiful, sugary flavours. If you time it right, you can also see the fudge being made and they also have very yummy testers:

As a simple country girl I stuck to plain old vanilla and it is the most gorgeous creamy, treacly fudge I've ever eaten. Unfortunately for me they also deliver slices of gorgeousness by post!!!

One of the best presents I received last year, was a 12 month membership to the National Trust and I know that we used the cost of the membership within about a month of having it. One of my favourite things about it is being able to explore places that I either wouldn't normally think about or might think is too pricey. A good example of this is the Old Post Office in Tintagel. It's a 14th Century Yeoman's farmhouse with a very wibbly roof:

They have the cutest little cottage garden at the rear of the property where I spotted these real unusual flowers that look like they are made of linen:

If ever you are in the area, I would say that Tintagel is well worth a visit if only for the fudge alone!

Our favourite hidden eating spots in London

There are many restaurants serving traditional English cuisine in London. In fact, English cuisine is a mix of various national cuisines. That is why it is absolutely normal to try Turkish, Italian, Thai, Chinese, Indian, Greek cuisine in London. As for me, the most reasonable prices can be found in Arab cafes and bars.

In general, you can find interesting places to eat in any area of ​​London. Due to the fact that I’m still a student, we ate mainly in the areas near the student living London. So let’s start with the most inexpensive hidden eating spots in London.

There are many decent cafes scattered across London such as EAT, Pizza Hut and Pret-A-Manger. I can safely advise them in terms of price. If you don’t mind Asian cuisine and are not afraid of food experiments, go to Soho where you can find a range of inexpensive restaurants including Thai and Chinese. As for Chinese cuisine, I advise Young Cheng in Soho. It has a simple scheme to attract customers: the buffet is located at the entrance so that you can see from the street what you get for the quoted price. You can take rice with seafood, shrimps and various vegetables. So if you want to have a square meal, come here or visit one of the neighboring Chinese bars with a similar system.

Another branch is Indian cuisine. We often go to Chambeli restaurant (close to Holborn tube station). As a result, I would call this taste the “taste of homemade food”. The food is very spicy because of sauces and spices, but quite tasty. So all in all I can recommend this restaurant to visit.

Of course, London is full of Italian restaurants and cafes. We have been in many of them. The most common is the Strada. The quality of food is quite decent, the prices are quite affordable. We had a chance to dine at Strada right next to the City Hall. We can also advise Ciao Bella near Russell Square. It's very popular mostly among local residents.

Do you still think that you won’t be able to find some interesting places to eat in London? I hope that our personal overview of hidden eating spots has changed your opinion about London as the most expensive city in the world!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Adventures of an English Mum in........ Padstow, Cornwall

I like to think that I'm a well travelled kind of gal but then when I realise that I've never even been to Cornwall it makes me laugh at myself and think, maybe not! We're very lucky that the Man's family have a caravan in the lovely village of Coombe Martin in Devon, so on the last bank holiday when we were there, we decided to day trip to Cornwall so that I could see what I'd been missing out on.......oh my goodness, it was so lovely. How I've never been there is beyond me!

First stop on our list was the very lovely Padstow. Driving down from the top of the hill and passing all of the regular houses it just looks like another seaside town but when you come down towards the hair pin bend, you start to get a bit more of the flavour of the village. We parked in a rather scary car park right alongside the harbour where you could see right across the beach and down through the Estuary, toward the sea:

I love being beside the sea, I think it's a throwback to living next to the sea when I was growing up. There's just something so calming about it and it seems to put things into perspective for me, probably the vastness of it making me feel smaller and putting my worries into insignificance! 

Anyways I also love to sit and watch how the other half live, some lovely boats to sit and dream about going on for an adventure. It always makes me wonder at the stories of the boat owners. Where have these people travelled from and what is their story? One lovely boat was all the way from America, not sure I'm brave enough for that sailing adventure!

Obviously this is also one of the best places for people watching and munching on amazing fish & chips. I wonder why they always taste so much better by the sea? Yum!

We happened to be in Padstow on Mayday weekend and they had one of the coolest maypoles I think I've ever seen. It was just so colourful and vibrant and my photo really doesn't do it any justice:

I think one of my favourite things about Padstow was meandering around all of the little crooked streets and passages in the sunshine, looking at shops with very beautiful clothes, pottering in many lovely art galleries, glimpsing the sea every so often and oh my goodness the food. I very stupidly missed out on getting a traditional Cornish pasty but I made up for it at Stein's Patisserie. I was totally drawn in by the window display:

As well as these HUGE meringues (which we managed to split between four of us) they also sold the best tasting scones I've ever eaten outside of The Ritz! I may have also consumed a couple of very dainty macarons and cornish clotted ice cream! Yes, I did come back from the day about 5lb heavier as we also bought some fudge to take home with us!!

Padstow was such a lovely vibrant place but with a very family feel. The Adventures of an English Mum family will definitely be back for a return visit!