Day trip to Bath – a bustling city full of character

Looking for a weekend break away, we looked no further than Bath – a mere 1.5 hrs away by train from London. While the city has plenty of luxury and pampering-as-a-service on offer, we were lured by the countless fresh, homely cafes, tea houses.

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Bath looked visually stunning with its beautiful Georgian townhouses and we particularly loved the creamy orange bath stone – much of it from mines in the 1700’s. The city was easily walk-able from one end to the other and full of life. Here’s what we got up to in one day.

8:30 – Train from Paddington (armed with croissant and something a little more substantial for Sharon)

10:05 – Thermae Bath Spa

A visit to to the baths fueled by area’s natural geothermal springs was highly relaxing and surprisingly very warm! (Who knew that temperatures of 31 degrees were possible in UK!). We found the baths modern and in general very clean and organised. On the roof, there is a pool with excellent views of the city and its undulating hills. Be warned though – the Baths get very busy. A queue had started to form when we arrived and by the time we left, they had stretched long across the street.
Price: Two hours access to baths and steam room £38 pp (includes towels, slippers and use of showers)

1:30 – Wild cafe

A lovely cafe serving homely and freshly cooked food right in front of your eyes. We had a very tasty roasted garlic soup and falafel burger.
This was especially welcome as wading in warm baths for 2 hours is exceptionally tiring!.

2:30 – 6:00 – Exploring the city

There are many independent shops here each selling their own crafts.  The main farmer’s market in Green Park stn was closed, but the other stalls were open. There was an extensive selection of antique cutlery and crockery which tempted us hugely. Cast iron pans, while used, looked very sturdy, in great condition and were offered from £12. I think we would have bought one if we didn’t have to lug it back home.

Bath streets and shop fronts

6:00 – Dinner at Bistrot Pierre
A classic french bistrot selling decent value for money fare. The pre-theatre menu was two courses for £14.95 and was more food than we could eat – portions were big.

7:40 – Train home and a thoroughly enjoyable day. We will be back!

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Everyone needs to come here..right now!

Some of the fondest memories I’ve had have been out camping in the open. Far away from civilisation, we would venture out, get ridiculously wet and muddy and return to an air-chilled sleeping bag.. This, I thought was what made camping fun..until I realised that you could do the adventurous parts and still return to a warm shower, a fireplace and a sofa. From that point I had found a new way of loving the outdoors. Glamping is ..awesome!

Tucked away on ledge beside a hill lay a charming wooden yurt. Inside was beautifully decorated and looked far more cosy than my own home!

Looking out across the landscape gave us a magnificent view of the countryside. Not a single car engine, nor aeroplane. Just the rustling of leaves and chirps of birds. We were particularly lucky to arrive on this day, because the weather was clear and meant we had an incredible night sky full of stars (casseoipeia, ursa minor, corona borealis to name a few). I don’t think we had seen this many stars before. Truly magical.

     
On the following morning, we took the opportunity to take the short hike (but surprisingly difficult as I reluctantly concluded) across the fields to Sandford, where we rewarded ourselves with a very fulfilling Sunday roast. Afterwards we found ourselves slumped on the sofa, having fallen asleep in exhaustion and a full tummy.

In the evenings, we played scrabble to our hearts content (possibly using made-up words) and cooked up hearty meals, which were very satisfying. And of course..s’mores. Guess which plate is Sharon’s.

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At £150 a night, it is certainly not the cheap camping holiday option, but we found the experience  a great getaway and one to help unwind. Credits to the owners Alison for the amazing vision in building this retreat.

Easter weekend in Rye, Sussex

While it was pouring rain in London, we escaped to Rye, a small medieval town about an hour from London. It was a small town with a cobbled stone main street, known as the Mermaid Street. It’s beautiful, if you capture it at the right time, right season, right lighting and with professional photography. Of course, our photography skills were limited:

Rye Sussex Mermaid Street

and stumbling upon the Purdie Gallery, which showcased some impressive landscape photography to prove us that much!

No English village break is complete without some cycling. We rented a bike from Rye Hire and despite the maps given to us, we managed to detour onto a grass route along the canal. If you’ve never cycled on grass, know that every turn is a work out for your quad muscles. I had to get off and push my bike many times. Imagine my relief we when we finally reached paved road and cycled all the way around the Rye Harbour Nature Reserve. It was pretty easygoing then – smooth tarmac, blue skies, wind blowing in our faces.

Cycling Rye Harbour

We replenished our energy with a cream tea at The Cobbles Tea Room, based out of a cute cottage built in 1826. All cakes and tea served on beautiful crockery.

The Cobbles Tea Room Rye Sussex

The best thing about Rye was all the antique shops that lined the streets. It is definitely one of the places with the most antique shops per square mile. You will find everything from antique jewellery to silver cutlery to upcycled furniture. Being the indecisive shopper that I am, we spent ages examining and debating about whether to purchase this or that. I finally left town with some silver plated cutlery, a Scandi style rug, and no jewellery. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about antique jewellery, it is certainly one of a kind and you would be hard pressed to find the exact same piece which fits you.

Our stay was completed by a great dinner at The Ambrette, a restaurant which serves British Indian fusion cuisine. Think dishes like quinoa and mushroom biriyani and desserts like profiteroles with cardamom scented chocolate sauce. After a very filling dinner, a good night’s sleep was much needed. We stayed at Kings Head Inn, a cottage where you can park your car right outside your room’s door. It reminded me of the motels dotted along an American highway, except this time the decor was much more British with its champagne coloured pillows and brass painted wardrobes.

Glamping in Oxfordshire

Travelling can sometimes leave us more tired than rejuvenated because our itineraries are too packed. If you’re looking for a weekend to simply relax and destress in beautiful scenery, try glamping. It was our first time glamping and we loved it.

Glamping Wagtail Hut collage

Two hours’ drive from London, our hut was located in a large farm. It was small but beautiful and cosy. It had everything we needed – cutlery, crockery, gas stove, fire pit, running water, flushing toilet, radio, and even wine glasses (never mind that we failed to unscrew the cork on our bottle of wine). It was camping without being dirty.

From the bed, we had a gorgeous and peaceful view of the meadows and the sky. Although there were other huts in the campsite, our hut was in a secluded area. We did not see much of the other campers throughout the weekend.

Glamping Wagtail Hut outside views

On our way there, we stopped off at the Rectory Farm. Owned by a group of university colleges, the land had been farmed for some 500 years and provided food for Oxford town to this day. We  spent two hours picking our own fruits and vegetables; strawberries, blackberries (it stung!), broad beans and carrots were in abundance and served as a great (and tasty) source of ingredients.

Rectory Farm collage

The payment method was pay by the weight. On site, there was also an amazing shop where everything was unpackaged so you could buy exactly how much you need. There was also a great selection of fresh bread, homemade jams and local cheese. It was our new favorite shop.

We then used some of these ingredients to make a filling pasta dinner at night with no more than the the glow of a lantern. Once the sun had completely gone down and the sky was pitch black, it was actually a little scary.

Despite our scouting experience, our attempts at making a campfire was dire. We managed to start a fire and maintained it long enough to burn two marshmallows and make two English style s’mores (who knew graham crackers were so difficult to source in London?)

Glamping dinner and smores

The best kind of days start with a great breakfast, ie scrambled eggs with smoked salmon. The secret, as I’ve discovered, is to add a splash of milk and take the eggs off the stove when they look almost done.

Glamping breakfast

During the day, we visited small towns within the Cotswold, ie Witney, Stow-on-the-Wold, Burford, Woodstock, Upper & Lower Slaughter, Oxford. We loved Stow-on-the-Wold for its many tea shops.

Witney_Stow-on-the-Wold_Burford CollageCotswold towns collageNearly all the towns had its fair share of antique shops. We spent ages dreaming how this and that vintage furniture would look wonderful in our to-be-owned cottage one day. But until then, we would definitely be keen to do more glamping!

Any glampers out there? Any amazing spots you would recommend?

Great places to eat in Cornwall

Great places to eat in Cornwall

1. Daisy’s Cafe

Daisy’s cafe is a small family run cafe in Looe , and, being off track from the main streets of Looe it can be easily missed. Filled with mementos from their childhood and their grandparents, the cafe is full of all things polka dotted and playful. Probably the most quirky cafe I’ve ever been to! Great for home-made scones, coffee, the largest plates of scrambled eggs imaginable and owners who are happy to converse on the intricacies of bungee jumping and the fear of heights!

2.  The Fish House – Fistral beach

For the unwary, it could be easy to overlook The Fish House, a small restaurant by Fistral bay, for the much bolder sea view and Rick Stein brand nearby. The spot offers a cosy, relaxed and friendly service, which all adds to an enjoyable experience by the beach. Imagine a room packed with diners, the clanging of glasses and toasts and the gentle tumble of  waves. Chef owner, Paul Harwood, can be seen scurrying around the kitchen producing some really fantastically tasting dishes. Ironically, the best tasting food also turned out to be the cheapest, and so we thought The Fish House provided exceptional value – with local produce at the heart of the menu as well. Try the curried mackerel or the simple john dory with a medley of vegetables. Reservation necessary.

3.  Camel Trail Tea Garden

The Camel Trail Tea Garden is conveniently situated at the Bodmin end of the trail. Here, you can find walkers and cyclists alike, stopping over for a cream tea energy boost and fresh sandwiches. For the extreme camel trailers, there is an ample selection of quality wines straight from the adjacent vineyard for those who want to increase the challenge. Safe to say, we found the trail itself strenous enough!

4. Porthmeor cafe

The Porthmeor cafe is a small beachside cafe in St. Ives. Serving fresh crab sandwiches and steaming hot mussells, it provides unobstructed views of the beach inside, or in your own little cabin. Highly recommended.

5. The Cove

The Cove is a little further out in a less popular village of Maenporth. As you might have guessed, it is situated in a secluded cove, looking unobstructedly out into the celtic sea. The menu is filled with delicious items such as fresh scallops, creamy lobster bisque and fish dishes with all sorts of accompanying flavours. During our visit, we had the luxury of watching the colours of the sun fade against the horizon complemented by extremely fresh food and the flicker of a candle. Definitely more of a romantic (and more expensive) atmosphere, but serves as an excellent treat to what I hope will be as memorable trip to Cornwall for you as it was for us.