Leaving London

 

Vehicles On The Road

Photo by Lina Kivaka from Pexels

Leaving London – crossing Thames

The capital departed – to find hidden gems.

Goodbye Westminster, Soho, and more

There’s far more places than “The City” to explore.

Visitors and tourists this error don’t make

To just stay by the Thames-side,

An entire island to forsake.

Fens and Broads; Moors and Downs,

Quaint little villages, and Market towns:

All await you – if London you just quit

And without London weighting,

You might save a bit.

 

Padre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Culinary “Pub Crawl”

It’s Travel Tuesday, and while I considered posting this for a Foodie Friday, it applies to both equally well.  The Market Town of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk (England) has a redeveloped cattle market and this in turn links in with the main shopping precincts.  There are a cluster of eateries on Auction Street, and their are several more across Parkway.   This led me to come up with a frivolous but fun exercise of a “food crawl.”

My journey began with a starter/appetizer at the Japanese themed Wagamama.  It is typical of the chain in its seating setup with bench type seating, but a few table and chair seatings along the windows.   The service was attentive, and the order was prepared quickly. I had the vegetable tempura which was lightly battered, and had a great balance of types of veg – sweet potato, broccoli, and red bell pepper.  So far a good start on my food journey.

Mains came from the Portuguese/Peri Peri themed Nando’s.   The ordering system is of the pay at the till, and they will deliver to the table type.  Fountain drinks are self-service.  There were several good vegetarian options, and on this occasion I opted for a medium spiced “Beanie” burger with a side of garlic bread and peri peri chips. The veggie paddy was well made, and prepared, and the sides were tasty. There was also a good assortment of sauces to add to the burger.  The server was polite, and helpful, and the decoration was minimalist, though Latin music in the background gave it some atmosphere.  Toilets are up stairs so that should be taken into consideration if you have limited mobility.  The food was good, however and it was time for dessert.

The “afters” came from Carluccio’s Italian eatery.  This is a great restaurant with a lot to offer. There are breakfast menus, and a large selection of Italian dishes, but I  there for the “pud.”   I had tiramisu and a scoop of cherry ice cream.  The ice cream is above average, which was disappointing from an “Italian.”  But the tiramisu was really outstanding. It is made more traditionally with “lady fingers” rather than soggy cake. It was creamy, and not overly sweet, as some store-bought tiramisus are. It was a great finisher after a spicy burger from Nando’s.  A note to those with disability.  Carluccio’s has a clearly marked disabled access toilet on the ground floor, and it is right next door to Nando’s

Then it was coffee time.  This was from Costa Coffee. The shop is huge as compared to many Costa outlets, and it is well laid out and clean as well. The quality of the drink was good and had the smooth Costa blend that I prefer over harsher coffees. It was unfortunately very busy there, so was some wait for it to be prepared. Since the shop is large, there was ample seating both in and outside, and I was able in the end to just sit and sip my drink, and reflect on my culinary journey.

Overall, it may have been slightly more expensive than eating in a single venue.  It did however allow me to stretch my legs, and to have each course settle before moving on.  If Peri Peri is not your thing, there is a Byron Burger outlet making “real burgers” directly opposite Nando’s.  In the end, it was a fun time.

Padre

Afternoon Tea for a Travel Tuesday

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I have to admit that I still occasionally cringe when I hear American (and some other) visitors describe England as “quaint.”  It seems that the image of Bertie Wooster, Bowler hats, and Downton Abbey still prevail.  But one area where this nostalgic England still does have a foothold is High Tea.

Okay, let’s get this straight the country does not stop at 3 pm and the entire populous settle down to crumpets and gooseberry jam.  In fact, in the modern UK it is more likely that a ready-made supermarket sandwich will be wolfed down on the run, washed down with a Starbuck’s coffee.  But sometimes, especially on special occasions it is nice to slow down and enjoy some luxury.

Afternoon tea, is a real treat, and in recent years we have marked my wife’s birthday with the indulgence.

The top photo is of a High Tea we enjoyed at the Cliff Hotel in Gorleston, Norfolk last year, to celebrate my wife’s birthday.   We booked the tea (and High Teas often need pre-bookings) there as we have stayed at this hotel before, and it is a favourite venue for us.   We ate on the terrace overlooking the sea, and it made a pleasant back drop with a clear sunny sky, and the beach and sea below us.

The tea was well brewed, and came in a generous sized pot.  It was accompanied by finger sandwiches (salmon and cream cheese, ham and cheese, prawn with mayonnaise,  and cheese and pickle).  A portion of sharp cress was provided that could be used to enhance the sandwiches as well.  Two warm scones, with clotted cream and jam were next.  This was followed by an assortment of macaroons, mini cream cakes, and a chocolate and an apple tart. The portions were sufficient to leave us both satisfied.

The price is reasonable for the experience at £15 per person with tea or coffee (2019 updated price) and a £10 booking fee is required.  The service was very friendly and attentive, and it made for a lovely afternoon together.

Link:  Cliff Hotel High Tea

Another nice venue is Harriets Cafe Tea Rooms in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.  This venue offers a step back into time, with marble-topped tables, chandeliers, and big band music all to enjoy.  The service was on our professional and friendly (and the retro uniforms helped the ambiance as well). There was no sense of rush, and it was a time to just savour the drinks and take in the experience.

When we arrived we were offered chilled water with lemon wedges (another blast from the past, as most places don’t offer this these days). We had ample time to review the menu and to take in the atmosphere.  We ordered cream teas to our own tastes, a lovely chai blend for me, and Rooibos for my wife.  The tea was loose leaf, and individual strainers, and additional hot water were provided to make the most of the brews.  The scones were fairly large, and had a good balance of moistness without feeling underdone.  I far prefer this to those that crumple at the first attempt to cut them.  All in all is was a lovely spread with nice presentation.  At about £21 per it is a bit more dear, but the nostalgia and atmosphere are worth the price for the experience.

Link: Harriet’s

This year we made our High Tea visit to The Swan in Lavenham, Suffolk.  This Medieval Inn with its timber frame construction is wonderful to behold.  Inside there are still the beams, but also modern luxury.

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Gallery

The Gallery dining room is overlooked by a grand piano, and the gardens are just beyond period windows. We sat near a huge inglenook fireplace, and the atmosphere was a perfect as the meal.

We had our choices of teas, which were served – “on fine Royal Worcester Crockery specifically created for The Swan by Walpole of Stoke-on-Trent, whose prestigious special commissions are found in many of Britain’s Royal palaces – the perfect crockery then upon which to savour our delicious treats (Swans’ quote).”  I had the English breakfast tea and my wife, Redbush.   Both were loose leaf, and served with strainers, and it was fitting with surrounding luxury.

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Royal Worcester

Unlike some venues where the entire meal is served on a stacked “High Tea Tray”, the Swan served in courses, rather than all at once. The tray does make its appearance during the dessert course however.

 

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Finger Sandwiches

The sandwiches, were a nice mix with salmon, egg, ham, and cucumber. The scones were light and flavourful. The cakes were luxurious and the chocolate one was absolutely rich.

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Cakes and Scones

The service was attentive, and the server even offered to take pictures for us.

At £22.50 per person, it is the most dear, but the price is exceeded by the measure of luxury and service.
Happy travels, and I hope you find your perfect breaks.
Padre

 

 

Golden Mile

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“But it isn’t,” eleven-year-old David said, shoving the brochure back into the display case at the Sea Life Centre.

“Isn’t what?” his grandmother asked.

“A Golden Mile,” David said matter-of-factly.

“But Great Yarmouth is the Golden Mile,” she said.

“First of all,” David began, “Google says the beach here is over a mile long.  Secondly, it is hardly golden.  It’s just sand.”

“So at least a mile is gold coloured,” Grandmum suggested.

“Then they should say come to Great Yarmouth with its approximately one mile of yellowish sand,” he said defiantly.

Seeing she wasn’t going to win this, she said, “Why don’t we get an ice cream and go over to the beach at Gorleston?

 

Padre

115 Words

What Pegman Saw: Great Yarmouth, UK

The Red-Faced Field-Furrower

Atilla the tractor 1

CCC#30

 

Above is a rare photo of a Red-faced Field-Furrower in its natural Norfolk habitat. Norfolk is known for these beasts who are not only seen to leave tell-tale groves in the ground, but have been known to snarl traffic for miles at a time.

[With my apologies to David Attenborough]

Padre

Anglesey Abbey

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Down the Garden Path

Anglesey Abbey is a  former priory about five miles outside of Cambridge. With the closure of the monasteries, the house was robbed of stone and roofing, but was later bought and restored.  and it became the estate of the Fairhaven Family.  The house and its grounds are now owned by the National Trust.

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Approaching House

We have made a few trips to the gardens over the years and usually they provide a variety of beautiful blooms.   Some trails in the right season are covered with bluebells and early spring has daffodils.   Our most resent visit was a little disappointing as it was post daffodil (mostly wilting heads) and pre-bluebell.

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Bluebells from previous visit

The gardens also have a large number of statues which make for some interesting explorations in their own right.  So, despite the seasonal variations on the blooms, the statuary is a constant to enjoy.

The shop and snack bar are in a modern annex near the entrance hall, and most all of the usual National Trust fare and gifts can be found there.

Padre

Dissolutioned in Thetford

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Thetford Priory

Thetford, Norfolk has the remains of two monastic complexes and a nunnery.  These include the Cluniac Priory, a Benedictine Nunnery, and the Holy Sepulchre Church if the Canons of the Holy Sepulchre.

I recently had the opportunity to visit the Priory which is cared for by English Heritage.  The Priory was founded in 1103 and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.  It was one of the last monastic housed closed by Henry VIII in 1540.

The site is open to the public during daylight hours, and it seems favoured by dog walkers.  For those with an interest in ecclesiastical history, or architecture the site has a number of signs to describe the various buildings and a little of their purpose.

It was a little drizzly on the day I visited, but I found it an interesting experience all the same, and is often the case in such places, I found it spiritually moving.

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Padre

The Vyne

 

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The Vyne

This week’s Travel Tuesday takes us to The Vyne in Hampshire.  This estate was originally built by Henry VIII’s Lord Chamberlain, William Sandys.  The First Lord Sandys of the Vyne house was a Tudor mansion, and the Tudor chapel and glass still remains.  Most of the rest of the house has undergone change in the subsequent centuries.  The main building is in the School of Inigo Jones, and there is also an Eighteenth Century Palladian staircase.

When we visited The Vyne we found it to be a really well run and maintained National Trust property (It having been bequeathed to the trust in the 1950s). The grounds were lovely and well kept, and spring flowers highlighting the features on the house and outbuildings.

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Grounds

There was a very long walk from the reception (ticket) office and the main house, and the shuttle facility for disabled people was out of service. The staff arranged for us to park nearer the house, and staff members were in place to open the requisite gates for us. This level of conscientious service was shown throughout the estate, with staff and volunteers showing a real concern for our welfare, and making our visit enjoyable.

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Tea Room

The tearoom is comfortable and the decor fitting for the property. The scones were a little dry, but otherwise the expected good quality associated with the National Trust.

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Overall, another wonderful National Trust visit.

 

Padre

 

 

The Scoop on Scoops

Ice cream is a great “holiday” food.  It has on our past travels been associated with seaside trips, and other getaways.  As far as beach fare, my childhood had been limited to Feast bars,  Cornettos, and if really lucky a Mr. Whippy soft cone.  It was my wife that introduced me to the wonders of seaside Italian style treats.

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The first introduction, however, was not at the sea front but in the Welsh valleys.  Mr Creemy, Tonypandy, Wales is one of the best ice cream experiences I have had.  While ihe atmosphere of this little venue may not amount to much,  it being a small ice cream parlour in a small Welsh valley town/village. The ice cream, however, is wonderful. So much so, that we make a point of visiting whenever we are in (or even near) the Valleys.

On the latest visit I had a peanut butter ice cream in an excellent quality waffle cone with a rich cherry sauce and really good whipped cream. The portions are good-sized, the scoops tasty, and the overall feel is of luxury.  Its a place to really spoil yourself!

Image ©Padre’s Ramblings

Don Gelato’s, Aberyswtyh, Wales is on the town;’s sea front.  We stopped for a few scoops while visiting the beach for the day. The ice cream parlour is part of the Royal Pier complex and is adjoined to the Inn on the Pier.

There are multiple cone types, but ice cream/gelato flavours are the real choices to make. We had Turkish delight, strawberry, and chocolate. They were flavourful, and had a really great texture. The scoops were relatively large compared to some seafront cones we have had, and while not cheap, they are good value for money considering the quality.

There was some queuing to be served, but the quality of the ice cream was worth it, and the staff were doing their best to accommodate everyone. This really has to be the place to get your seaside cone on a summer’s day.

Cadwaladers ice cream flavours

image: Cadwaladers’ own site

Cadwaladers in Criccieth, Wales is another quality seaside venue.  We stopped in to try a few scoops and were glad we did. After all what is the beach without ice cream? But this is no ordinary ice cream. We had a scoop of custard which was the flavour of true custard, not just a hint. The Turkish Delight was bursting with yumminess as well. The pistachio was also goo, but lacked the explosive good flavour of the other two, but was still one of the better ones I have had.

Image ©Padre’s Ramblings

Candy ‘N’ Cream, Hunstanton, Norfolk is a ice cream and general sweets venue.  We have stopped there while visiting Hunstanton on several occasions.  It is convenient to the car park by the Information Centre, and is next door to Fisher’s fish shop. We have also had good experiences with the Pavilion Ice Cream Parlour in the town, but found parking closer to Candy ‘N’ Cream.

The shop is a traditional sweets shop with loads of variety, but they also serve some really good quality take-away ice cream. The shop lacks the fancy options of its neighbour down the hill, but the ice cream itself is in my opinion better. We had a nice strawberry which was very fruity, a banoffee scoop which was really well balanced and not sickly sweet, and a rich caramel/toffee scoop.

This bright pink building looks like a sweetie itself, and the entire “kid in a candy shop” experience is there. It is not a sit down for a sundae venue (like the nearby Pavilion) so it all down to what you are after.  I for one like it, however.

Image ©Padre’s Ramblings

Gorleston, Norfolk’s Dimascio is a great year round venue.  Even in the off-season the selection and quality are superb. Right before going into my wife’s Keto diet regime, we made a visit.   I had a very nice waffle cone with hazelnut, maple/walnut and strawberry cheese cake and my wife has coconut (very nice), chocolate and cherry with a flake. The quality was excellent, the flavours rich, and the texture creamy. It is a favourite when in the Great Yarmouth area.

This was just a sampling of ice cream venues, but all well worth checking out if nearby.

Padre

 

 

A Day Trip to the Lincolnshire Coast

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Skegness Clock Tower

Lincolnshire is a relatively sparsely populated county, and exploring it requires a bit of driving.  The coast offers some good beaches, and we spent a day checking this area out. 
Skegness is a typical English seaside town.  It has beach, arcades, and fair number of eateries and cafes.  We gave the windswept beach a visit and found its rugged views wonderful.
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Beach

The town’s clock tower is a really wonderful landmark, and along with several maritime public art make for some great atmosphere.
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Anchor Fountain

While there are many options for a quick drink and bite we gave the Jive Bunny Cafe, 116 Lumley Road, Skegness a try.   This is a quirky cafe with the jive theme (records on walls) and seaside arcade themes intermixed. The service was good and the place a good one for getting in some chill time.  The coffee was good, and the ambient music selection pleasurable.   The decorations of guerrillas, donkeys and such gave it a bit “Skegness” touch.
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Jive Bunny

I had read about Gerardo’s on TripAdvisor and as it was then our practice to get seaside ice creams (pre-Keto) we ame our way to 1A Victoria Road in Mablethorpe.  While it is 17 miles from Skegness, it was a pleasant enough drive, and it was well worth it for the quality of the ice cream.

 

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Gerardo’s

The restaurant/café was very busy, but its popularity didn’t compromise the service. We were served quickly, and attentively. The set up of the dining space is café /snack bar type, but is pleasant all the same. The quality of the ice cream (we had chocolate, cappuccino, and strawberry) was excellent. The coffee likewise was rich with out being bitter. It was a worthwhile stop, if in the area.

Sadly we couldn’t explore more of the coast on this occasion, but I do hope to check out Lincolnshire for a longer stay in the future.  All in all it was a good outing, and one which allowed us to “colour in” a little more of our UK coastal map.

 

Padre

 

Gerardo’s