Monday, 28 November 2016

Sometimes You Don't Need to Travel Far

Sometimes I get distracted!  

When I am not taking photographs I am sitting in front of the computer, post processing recent shoots or blogging, posting on FacebookTwitter, numerous other social networking sites and talking to myself!

Distractions are good sometimes!  

They somehow help to give you a different take on things.... and anyway if you talk to yourself too much you end up going round the supermarket doing exactly that!
And you get funny looks I can tell you!
And distraction can be good!

Today's distraction ....

was a short walk in Lymington, my home town.
 A walk along by the Haven and out along the sea wall and Keyhaven Nature Reserve.  You can nearly always be sure that this will blow the cobwebs away!

The skies changed so much making quite a dramatic picture......
 And then it cleared a I carried on

And then I fell over! 😉  

Not really - just decided to get a different angle on things and got down on the ground.  Love these long grasses.

Oops walk got cut short...

It started raining, so with grubby knees I made a mad dash
back to the car!

Totally out of breath!

You know sometimes you don't need to travel far.  Just go out for a walk and appreciate where you live.

I recommend it wholeheartedly and it stops you talking to yourself..
well, until the next time anyway! 😃

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Flat Cap and Loaf o' Bread


A hilltop town overlooking north Dorset and the chalk hills. 

Made famous by the Hovis advert which featured the steep, cobbled Gold Hill and has been featured on the cover of countless books about Dorset.

Gold Hill in Shaftesbury

Far from the Madding Crowd

Gold Hill is, of course, famous for the 1973 Boy on Bike television advertisement for Hovis bread.  It also featured in the film version of Far from the Madding Crowd.

My first visit and I wasn't sure

When we visited, it was the first time I had ever been there and I wasn’t sure whether I wanted to walk down Gold hill.  Apart from the fact it was raining, the hill looked so steep!

I wanted to get a photograph with some authenticity.  An image that showed how steep the hill really was and how things were in times gone by!

Flat Cap and loaf o' bread 

My efforts to get Malcolm to dress up in flat cap, and to walk up the hill with 'bike and loaf o' bread' fell on deaf ears! 😆

To be perfectly honest I was trying to get out of walking down the hill myself and thought I would offer to stay 'at top with camera'!

Once down that hill, I thought to myself, I'll never get back up again!

Help the Aged

Fortunately there was a hand rail to help the aged!! 

Not to mention the lovely pub at the top where I could sit and recover!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Closest Caribbean Island to the UK - We Travel to Antigua & Barbuda

Rewind to our travels to Antigua and Barbuda.

Hello again!  I love writing in the sand. 💖

We stayed with friends.

We were lucky enough to stay with friends who had a house in Jolly Harbour.  It was a great place to stay and feels very safe, with Jolly beach (more on that below) walking distance and lots of restaurants, bars and a local supermarket if you're self catering.

You could try Airbnb for self catering accommodation.

There are many beach hotels and resorts that look plush and fabulous, some right on the beach and indeed one at Jolly Beach.  

As I didn't stay in any of them I can't comment good or bad but you only have to use Trip Advisor to get some ideas.

Friendly, jolly and content

I found the people of Antigua friendly, incredibly jolly and seemed mostly content with their way of life.

Although if you read the book A Small Place by Jamaica Kincaid you would be lead to believe otherwise.

I have read it.  I can understand where the author is coming from but, honestly, I didn't enjoy the read at all.

I will say in the author's defence, I did feel slightly uncomfortable about our comfortable lifestyle. However, that was only me, certainly none of the locals made me feel this way.

365 Beaches

This island is beautiful, and so are its 365 beaches.  Life is laid back and obviously much slower than our way of life - it's hotter to start with.

English Harbour is a must visit 

The yachts moored in the harbour are the most amazing sight and it is quite mesmerising watching the ease in which they are moored alongside each other in the harbour.

English Harbour is, however, manicured and set up for tourists.  The shops pretty much as you would find them in a village at home.

But the locals do set up market stalls ready to haggle! It's great fun to watch.

A great place for lunch or morning coffee

Admirals Inn is truly beautiful with grounds leading down to the water. I had morning coffee there on several occasions and sneaked a lunch too whilst waiting for my man to come off the water!  He was sailing in the regattas and the Caribbean 600.

Watch out for the pelicans

And whilst you are relaxing with your coffee and book, beware the pelicans who can take you quite unaware as they sight their lunch!
Not you!  The fish!

Sheer Rocks Cocobay Resort

It was our friend's birthday whilst we were in Antigua and we were lucky enough to join in the celebrations at Sheer Rocks.

This is in an absolutely stunning location .........Cocobay Resort not just a Restaurant!

A bar, lounge, plunge pool and daybeds and overlooking Ffryes Bay. The food is delicious, the staff attentive and to watch the sunset from here is unbelievable.
 And after you have lounged in the infinity pool, grab a towel and maybe grab yourself a minuty! (my favourite rose wine by the way!)

Inside view of Antigua

St. John's is worth a visit for a real inside view of Antigua way of life. The hub bub of the Saturday market is brilliant and the atmosphere Electric with boomboxes playing and the people thoroughly enjoying life as they live it. Amazing.

I bought pretty shell bracelets for the granddaughters and hats for the grandsons in St Johns.

It's strange how much smaller your think your grandchildren are when they're not with you.  The hats didn't fit, they were much too small so I had to go online at home and buy more. Didn't want the girls to have something without the boys!😕

Jolly Beach

I walked to Jolly Beach from Jolly Harbour.  It's not far at all and after all, I was on holiday and had plenty of time.

I had been warned this beach was a real trap for tourists, where you'd be harassed by beach touts.

I didn't find this the case at all. These people were amazingly friendly and just trying to earn a crust the same as any other market trader anywhere in the world.  They are just a little more pushy but not intimidating in any way.

Beautiful handmade jewellery

I did buy a pretty bracelet from a lady on the beach, but not because I was forced to do so. I happened to like it because of its pretty summery colours.

I also found her really interesting to talk to as she told me about how she made all this beautiful jewellery from shells and coral.

I even walked back along Jolly beach one evening to capture the sunset. It was peaceful and calming.

Plants and wildlife

Of course, the plants are beautiful especially the hibiscus and bougainvillea.  In fact, one bougainvillea petal blew in our window on to our bed and I couldn't resist taking a picture.  It's like tissue paper.

The little lizards are just so cute and I spent many a time just watching them.

My friend used to put a banana out for the little birds, but often found a lizard eating it!

Taxis are fun

Apparently, rent a car at your peril as the roads are horrendous and taxis are readily available.

The taxis are great fun though.  Everyone knows everyone else and there's lots of beeping, waving and greeting from taxis to people on the streets.
There are buses which apparently you can flag down and then just shout 'bus stop' when you want to get off. Please don't quote me on this as we were lucky enough to have friends who lived there who took us around the island and when they couldn't we got a taxi.

And until next time, I leave you with this picture that Malcolm took from a yacht.  Beautiful.
Antigua is the closest Caribbean Island to the UK.  How can you not fall in love with this place?

Have you been?  What did you think?

Monday, 14 November 2016

Our Travels to Madeira Found us in the Sugar Cane Mill and Distillery

Anything to do with Distillery and you know who is interested!

The word 'distillery' and my husband's ears prick up immediately. And if you remember we visited the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery back in June.

Umm? I do wonder whether Malcolm had inside knowledge and this is the reason he chose for us to stay in Calheta on our Madeira visit?

In any case this is a must do when you visit Calheta!

Each Year April to May Non Stop - Sugar Cane Mill Calheta

Calheta´s Sugar Cane Mill works day and night from April to May
The sugar canes must be harvested within a few hours to stop them becoming dry.

Apparently labourers book to work here months in advance because the work in the mill pays well.
We visited in September but you can visit any time of the year and entrance is free..

There is a bus tour that takes you to the Sugar Cane Mill from the Hotel Saccharum, where we stayed. We did actually book ourselves on it.

However, the day before the tour was to take place we found the mill. Well we kind of stumbled upon it, on one of our Calheta walks. So we gave ourselves a tour round the Mill and 'unbooked' ourselves from the trip on our return to the hotel so that someone else could take our place on the bus.

The old steam engine has been in operation since 1894.

Being the first agricultural product in Madeira, I can understand the significance of the sugar cane mill.  This fabulous steam engine had been in operation for such a long time.  Malcolm, as you can see from the photographs, was in his element capturing all this machinery and its mechanisms.

Sugar cane in Honey Cake, Poncha, Aguardente

Sugar cane is responsible for many things, but the two things you will hear a lot about is the Honey Cake and Poncha and the sugar cane syrup which became a firm favourite of mine, as mentioned in my previous post!

The traditional honey cake known as 'Bolo de Mel's' produced in Calheta is, we're told, the best honey cake. :) As we were in Calheta, we were happy to agree with that.

The Poncha is prepared with sugar cane rum, honey and lemon juice. There is an old room in the Mill with shelves full of various aged bottles.

I loved the little cherubs who watched over the sugar cane mill!

A terrace with a pretty view

The terrace outside has plenty of tables and an undercover seating area out of the heat.  It is above the distillery so it has a pretty view, where you can relax a while with a refreshing poncha and maybe a piece of honey cake.

Now strangely enough I found the terrace whilst Malcolm enjoyed his time with the machinery!  No need to hide from the sun on this morning as it was a little overcast but still warm and the sun came through later as it mostly does in Madeira.

So where to next?

Thursday, 10 November 2016

A Great Place to Stop for Breakfast in The New Forest

I found this little gem on my way back from the gym!

A Warm Welcome awaits you ...

from the moment you pull up in the car, you get the most incredible positive vibes!  That may sound really strange to you.  But this place is just so beautiful and yet very simple.

Outside the tables are set out so prettily, and even though it is a cold morning you feel that you'd be able to sit there with a cuppa and not feel cold at all.

Pretty signs everywhere ...

signage that just makes you want to smile even more.
And just in case for one minute you may feel the cold, there's the blankets and hot water bottles. 
Isn't this just heaven? 
The minute you walk in the door you are greeted by welcoming smiles and welcome hellos.

These are young members of staff who really know all about customer service.
It is so pretty inside too....
with more signs to brighten your day.
Now, here was my first mistake!  
I had been to the gym and felt I probably could treat myself to a full English breakfast.  This is a rarity for me.  Even when we're on holiday I don't indulge in a full English.

This place was so warm and cosy it kind of made you feel that you should indulge in treats!

When it arrived I just opened my mouth and said 'oh my word'

Now don't get me wrong I am not complaining about the food.  It was delicious and a helping that I'm sure Malcolm wouldn't have had any trouble with at all.  But far, far too much for me.
Now I'm sure you will understand where I'm coming from.  
Next time, and there will be a next time, I shall ask for a smaller portion or maybe go for the scrambled egg?

Christmas menus here look amazing too, which is why I have included them in the post.

So where is this?  This is Rosie Lea's on the main road from Brockenhurst to Lymington.  
A definite must stop.

Oh and before I forget, if you stop for tea and cake, the staff will give you a tour of the cake menu to help you make up your mind. :)

And next door is 

an amazing garden centre with so much to see.  I could have wandered around for ages, yet it's not that big!  Just so many pretty things as well as plants.
I'd been looking for an Erigeron Karvinskianus - or
 'sea daisy' for ages and found one here so I was thrilled.
I also found other items that I longed to buy, but held back.  
After all Christmas is coming.

But these little mice were charming and I may well go back for them one day.
And this pretty garden centre is Setley Ridge

Remember on your next travel or trip to the New Forest, be sure to drop in and make sure you're hungry!

Monday, 7 November 2016

Get Packing for a Trip to Fowey in Cornwall

The winding streets of Fowey can't fail to enchant you.  Brimming with cafes, pubs and restaurants there's plenty of choices of where to eat.

We stayed at The Old Quay House Hotel

Absolutely delightful and attention to detail was second to none.
Our room overlooked the quaint narrow street.  
I adored the quotes on the walls as I'm into 'love' and 'motivational' quotes.  Gave me a warm and cosy feeling straight away!
And it's the little things that matter!  Ear defenders just in case the seagulls are too noisy!  We weren't bothered at all by them, but maybe that was because it was the end of November.  Raincoats hanging in the wardrobes on the off chance that it rains!

Because of the time of year we were prepared for rain, but we thought it was a lovely thought.

The breakfasts  were delicious.  We are early risers and always managed to get a table in the window with the best estuary views ever!
Oh and before I forget just 'upalong' the hill from Old Quay House you will find 'upalong' cottage.  So cute!

A walk whatever the weather 

is beautiful here.

Sam's And Bouillabaisse to die for!

Sam's Restaurant and Cocktail bar is always on our list of somewhere to eat and drink in Fowey.

Just to let you know you can't book a table at Sam's it's turn up and hopefully get a table or have a drink whilst you wait.  In the hub bub of this place it never seems long to wait and it's always worth it.  

As I said before, we highly recommend the boullabaisse, it's the best we've ever tasted.

This was an anniversary trip so on the evening of our anniversary it was raining hard so we decided to stay in and eat in the Hotel restaurant.  We weren't disappointed.  It was delicious.

Unknown 25 years ago and hidden in a tangle of weeds

The Lost Gardens of Heligan now restored and one of the finest gardens in Cornwall is a must visit.  

It was a wet day when we visited but we still enjoyed it.  There's lots to see and makes a very interesting walk with lots of faces to make you smile.

Sadly the rope ladder was closed.  (Shame that - as we all know how adventurous I am and was so looking forward to it - not!)
Sadly our trip to Fowey is over once more.  We had a lovely time and one of our favourite places to visit.  We will be back.

Where to next?

Friday, 4 November 2016

Star Attraction - Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery

This trip all started as a surprise for Malcolm's birthday.

Malcolm is quite easy to please actually, anything to do with cars, yachts or alcohol and I know it's going to be a success.

So I knew definitely the Bombay Gin Distillery surprise trip would be a winner!

Although we don't live that far away from Laverstoke, I decided to make it more of a treat and stay a couple of nights in the vicinity.

I booked the Norton Park Hotel, in Sutton Scotney, which is a large Hotel with conference facilities, but we were lucky to stay in the Manor House which is in the grounds beside a pretty lake.  It was really peaceful and away from the madding crowd.
En route to the Hotel we stopped off at Alresford, a place we visited when we first met so thought it would be nice to have a quick walk along the river.  It was just as pretty as we remembered.  We were greeted by several tame robins and a duck who took a fancy to Malcolm's shoes!
The following morning I had arranged for a taxi to take us to the Distillery, but to my annoyance and bitter disappointment, he failed to turn up.  Consequently, with no time to wait for another taxi, Malcolm ended up driving us to the Distillery in order for us to get there in time for our guided tour!  

Some things just don't go according to plan but we got over it and our day got better.

Just a little info for you.  The Bombay distillery is in the repurposed mill at Laverstoke.  After being empty for 10 years this 300 year old mill has been revitalised by Thomas Heatherwick.  The river has been widened and the courtyard opens up on to some amazing greenhouses.
You can book a guided tour, as we did, or you can do a self guided tour.  Both tours include a visit to the botanical room where the aromas will test your senses which will result in a cocktail being created to suit your tastes.  
The botanical room was my favourite bit of the tour.  Great fun!
We highly recommend the guided tour as the tour guides are informative and our guide had a great sense of humour.

After the tour you then get to visit the cocktail bar to collect your chosen cocktail.

When visiting the distillery take some time to pop along to Freefolks to see the longest run of thatched cottages in the country - there are 18 cottages.  Built in 1939 by Portals Paper Mill for the mill workers.

The Watership Down Inn is just up the road from the distillery in Freefolks too, where we had a delicious lunch.  

The Inn also does rooms at reasonable prices, but I only found that out after booking the hotel.  Watership Down Inn is closer.
The sun came out in the afternoon and before our return to the hotel we thought it would be nice to go for a stroll along the river test.  It is a really pretty walk, so if you have time it is well worth a walk.
So all in all, the birthday trip I can safely say was a success and the star attraction was definitely the Bombay Sapphire Gin Distillery. 

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

How to Spend a Few Hours in the New Forest on a Misty Autumn Day

milford view of needles
And you might think to yourself 'New Forest'?  Looks like a sea view to me.

And you would be right, of course, it is indeed a sea view.  A view across the Solent from Milford on Sea beach.
Beautiful isn't it.

Actually, Milford on Sea is in the New Forest.  So aren't we lucky here to have the best of both worlds.  Forest and sea.

But on a very still and misty day there's nothing more relaxing than walking along the Keyhaven Nature Reserve, a hidden sanctuary for bird watchers.
On this misty day I was lucky to see this black swan.
 And he actually glided towards me so that I could get a closer look.  Isn't he beautiful.
Now I'm not saying that he will be there when you visit, but there is certainly plenty of wildlife to see.
Sometimes it's as if they are putting on a show just for you!
I have no bird knowledge, other than knowing a swan or a duck, the simple ones, but do you really need to know to appreciate how beautiful these creatures are?
 And, of course, if you have children with you they love to feed the birds.  As long as it's not the seagulls on the beach or wherever people are sitting, it's harmless, and as long as they stay a safe distance from the swans.  They can get quite aggressive, the swans that is not the kids! :)
Ah and what's that I spy across the water?
Could it be a chance for some light refreshment?

It is definitely a place to get a snack or even a meal.

This is a happening place. Friendly service and great food.
I stopped for some yummy sweet potato chips.  Delicious!
If you fancy something a little more substantial call in there before your walk to book a table.

Raft Rocks is very popular and for lunch or evening meals it may be necessary to book ahead.

So there you have it - how to spend a few hours in the New Forest on a misty Autumn Day.

Total relaxation.