Sunday, 28 October 2012

A few days in Ludlow, Shropshire

There is nothing quite like spending quality time with old friends. Chris and I headed to Ludlow in Shropshire this week to spend a few days catching up with our close friends, Lyd and Rob, and their happy little chappy Benjie, my godson. Lydia and Robbie recently moved back to this charming part of the UK where they grew up, and are now settled in their rural idyll in the countryside complete with rambling farm house, dog(s - imminently), and soon to be chickens and donkey! Robbie runs the family business, De Greys, a quintessentially English tea rooms, bakery and B&B in the centre of town; it is something of a Ludlow institution and well worth a visit if you're ever in this neck of the woods. Lydia spends her time looking after Benjie, painting whenever she can grab a spare minute, writing children's books, cooking lots of scrumptious things and generally adapting to country life, all of which is documented in her blog here.

Friday, 26 October 2012

An unexpected love affair with Cape Town

You will no doubt be unsurprised by my summation that Cape Town is an awesome city. After all it has a certain notoriety for its beauty and, post-World Cup fever, its vibrancy. Chris and I were blown away by the place. Thankfully so, for having cut time a little on the fine side we only had ten days to spend in the whole of South Africa before heading to Turkey to meet our friend Charlie. Instead of charging around like mad people we had decided to stay put in the Cape area for the whole time and do excursions from there. As a result we really got to explore the city and its surroundings and totally fell in love with what we saw! It's like New Zealand with more culture, San Fran without the Americanisms, or Vancouver with better weather!

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The Waterside Inn, Bray

View down the river from the inn.
I love a treat for no real reason at all...who doesn't! Chris and I have been back in Blighty for about six weeks now and last week he announced that I should keep Friday free for a surprise. Whoop! Chris wouldn't be Chris if he didn't let slip a few bits and bobs and I basically deduced pretty quickly that we were going out for lunch somewhere nice...mmm I love lunch! What I wasn't expecting was a three Michelin star extravaganza at The Waterside Inn in Bray. Luckily Chris got confirmation of his new consultancy job at GAM the day before so we actually had something to celebrate and didn't feel too over indulgent!

Bray is a small picturesque village that for some unfathomable reason has attracted a wealth of top notch restaurants all vying for the greatest number of Michelin stars they can muster. Chris and I joked as we made our way to The Waterside Inn that popping down to the local pub for a pint and a pie and chips held a whole new meaning for the residents here. The Waterside Inn was the first fancy restaurant to open in the village, forty years ago, and has retained it's three Michelin star accolade for a whopping twenty five of those years...the first restaurant to do so outside of France! Move over Heston and The Fat Duck! It was founded by the Roux brothers after the success of their London restaurant Le Gavroche and is currently run by Michel's son, Alain Roux. With an enviable position on the riverbank complete with their own private boat to shuttle guests too and fro and take them on jaunts, aperitifs in hand, it is the perfect place to while away an afternoon.

Thursday, 4 October 2012

The Land of the Orange Sand Dunes

Namibia, despite its tiny population and vast surface area, is a very accessible place to visit. The roads are pretty well maintained, the cars and buses actually work, the towns are modern and sparklingly clean and even budget tourism is surprisingly well established here. It is every inch the efficient German ex-colony! Windhoek, the capital, saw us staying in the busiest and most professionally run hostel we'd come across since touristy Antigua in Guatemala, enjoying a slap up dinner of kudu and crocodile in a Deutsche style brauhaus and browsing around plush department stores. Refreshingly, it didn't seem that these luxuries were reserved solely for the expat community and the tourists we made our way around the country there seemed to be distinctly more money to go around than we had seen in either East Africa or Zambia and reportedly a lot less crime.