Category Archives: England

Dickens Festival in Rochester, Kent

I enjoyed a lovely day at the Rochester Dickens Festival. Rochester is lovely on any given day, but even more so when the sun is shining and the streets are full of live music, plays, food stands and people dressed up in Dickensian costumes.  There was such a great atmosphere.

I was pleased to see lots of fair rides at the Rochester Castle grounds.


As well as lots of trade stores selling all sorts of arts, crafts and other things.

My friend and I went to Quills for lunch, which had been on my to-do list. I had a delicious all day breakfast (for lunch).

img_6150.jpg
And my friend’s burger looked absolutely delicious.

We spent some time along the high street and popped into some of the charity shops to look at books. Followed by some lovely hot donuts from a stall, because there’s always room for dessert!

It was a great day and I look forward to returning to the Dickens Festival in future.

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A trip to the Tate Modern #London


It’s always a pleasure to visit the Tate Modern, especially on a sunny London day with a viewing level!


I must admit that I didn’t really pay attention to the artists’ names, I just like to wander around and see what catches my eye, like this money tree:


There was a great range of different art works, plenty to keep me occupied for a few hours!

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The Hive in Kew Gardens #London

The Hive at Kew Gardens is a unique installation that is connected to a real bee hive.  The lights light up based on real interactions taking place in the bee hive.  It’s big enough to take a walk inside and really beautiful after sunset.  A friend and I went and enjoyed a cocktail and chat on the grass before going to investigate properly.  Great for a chillaxed evening. 

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A long weekend in Manchester

August 2015

I went to Manchester for the August bank holiday weekend, to visit a friend who moved there recently.  I have been to Manchester a couple of times before and always enjoyed it.

SATURDAY

I booked my tickets on https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/ for a total of £40 return.  The train went from London Euston to Manchester Piccadilly where my friend picked me up.  We had a little wander through town, I especially liked the Spinningfields area with its cool restaurants and bars.  We took an Uber taxi back to her place and chilled out.

In the evening, we went to a great restaurant called Red Chilli:

http://redchillirestaurant.co.uk/manchester-oxford-road/

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187069-d2038326-Reviews-Red_Chilli-Manchester_Greater_Manchester_England.html

I really liked the food here.  The salt and pepper squid was nice and tasty (not chewy like at a lot of places) the dumplings were tasty, and my main dish of poached mutton in spicy sauce really tested my chilli spectrum!  I would have been happy to go back there.

mutton mushroom

SUNDAY

We headed out to the Whitworth Art Gallery:

http://www.whitworth.manchester.ac.uk/

I hadn’t heard of this place before, but it is somewhere my friend had been meaning to check out and I was happy to give it a go.  It is free to enter, and I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of art they had on show, including clothes, photos, watercolour paintings and quite random displays.

art art 2

We also had lunch at the gallery’s cafe.  My friend and I both had the soup with market salads and bread, which was very tasty.  It’s a very nice little cafe, very bright and located amongst the trees of the outside park.  Worth a visit.

In the afternoon, I caught up with another friend for drinks at the Joshua Brooks bar:
http://joshuabrooks.co.uk/

This place has a nice vibe.  It was a Sunday afternoon so pretty quiet, but there were some other groups there and the background music added some atmosphere.  A good place to catch up for drinks.

For dinner, I went to Bem Brasil on King Street:
http://www.bembrasilrestaurants.com/

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g187069-d1434555-Reviews-Bem_Brasil_Deansgate-Manchester_Greater_Manchester_England.html

This is a buffet style Brazilian restaurant where you can help yourself to a buffet of salads, and people come around with freshly grilled/barbecued meats for you to have as much as you want.  Good for carnivores.  Everything was tasty – especially their sangria!

MONDAY

The rest of the trip involved chilling out.  On Monday we watched the ‘Adjustment Bureau’ on DVD and ordered some pizza.  I took the 3.35pm Virgin train back to London, which was sadly delayed by 45 minutes – I’m going to figure out how to claim a reimbursement!

All in all, a good little trip to Manchester.

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I’m leaving my job. And moving to Costa Rica.

After four years in my London 8-6 office job, I have decided to take drastic action and leave to do something amazing.

I am moving to Costa Rica to teach English.

Now don’t get me wrong, this was not an easy decision to make.  However, my need for change, adventure and my growing dissatisfaction with work meant the decision was made relatively quickly.

I had the idea in June.
I booked the course and flights in July.
I left work in August.  My last day was Friday the 14th of August (ten days ago).
I will fly out on the 13th of October, giving me some time to sort out any loose ends before I leave.

I chose Costa Rica for its abundant wildlife (I originally planned to take time off work to do a wildlife volunteer project with turtles there) and because I intend to be fluent in Spanish one day.

I did intend to teach English in the sun (Spain) one day – when I retire.  But while I was thinking about what kind of jobs I wanted to apply to now, I thought to myself ‘why wait?’.  Why wait to live a life in the sun, doing relatively flexible work and living somewhere I enjoy?

Stepping away from friends, family, a steady job and steady income to step into the unknown is a BIG STEP.  I have never been to Costa Rica so this is a big leap of faith.  And I am reminding myself that if I don’t like it, I can always come back or go somewhere else.

I do know that I will be doing a one month TEFL course (Teach English as a Foreign Language) in Manuel Antonio, near the beach, and staying with a host family for six weeks.  I don’t know what Costa Rica will hold for me in the long run, this is something I will have to find out…

This is a challenge, that I *think* I am ready for!

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Three dinners and a bar: Tayyabs, Paolina, Whistling Shop and Meat Liquor

A delightful week of eating well and drinking!

On Monday, I booked a table for seven of us to have dinner at Tayyabs.  This is a delicious BYOB restaurant near Brick Lane but with much better food – and admittedly worse service!

http://www.tayyabs.co.uk/

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d779012-Reviews-Tayyabs-London_England.html

I remember first going to Tayyabs probably about ten years ago, when my sister took me there with some of her friends.  It was much, much smaller then.  Since then, it has at least quadrupled in size and to be honest, it’s probably a little overrated.  The food is always good (especially the lamb chop starters) but I’m pretty sure the service is some of the worst in town.

This time we had been waiting for over 30 minutes before the waiter even came to take our order.  He forgot to take the order from one person before he left and it was near impossible to get anyone’s attention.  It took a further 40 minutes before our food arrived.  On the plus side, the food was good!  Despite knowing the service here is generally awful, I’m still happy to go back – not too often.  The food is reliably good.

On Thursday I went to a little Thai restaurant near Kings Cross called Paolina.  It is a family run small cafe with what I imagine is authentic food (I haven’t been to Thailand yet).  It’s very reasonably priced and BYOB.  The fish cake starters were really good and my thai green curry was tasty.  I’d be happy to go back some time, but it wasn’t especially outstanding.  It’s definitely good if you like cosy cafe style restaurants.

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d1316416-Reviews-Paolina_s_Thai_Cafe-London_England.html

paolina

And to finish the work week – drinks near the office.  A friend suggested the Whistling Shop.  I hadn’t heard of it before and as a fan of cocktails I was looking forward to checking it out.  It’s a speak easy style bar with lots of original drinks.  It has a relaxed atmosphere and I was surprised I didn’t about this place given it is next door to the Blueberry bar where I have been for drinks a number of times.  A big thumbs up.

http://www.whistlingshop.com/

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d2169720-Reviews-Worship_Street_Whistling_Shop-London_England.html

This was followed by dinner at Meat Liquor near Bond Street.  I really like this chain – great trendy atmosphere, service and food.

http://meatliquor.com/london/

http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Restaurant_Review-g186338-d3648617-Reviews-Meatliquor-London_England.html

We started with a delightful drink called ‘pickleback’ that consists of a shot of bourbon and a shot of pickle juice.  What’s not to like!?  For my meal, I had the bingo wings, chilli fries and the red chilli burger.  All delish.  Followed by a hard ‘white russian shake’  with Kahlua and vodka.  SOOOOOOO good.

ml1

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Rugby 7s at Twickenham, Mien Tay Vietnamese and Sugar Cane Bar in Clapham

I’ve never watched Rugby before, so when a friend suggested going to see the Rugby 7s live… I said ‘sure’!  Tickets came to about £30 each, and I later learned that there is a fancy dress theme each year.  This year the theme was ‘galactic’.

I went yesterday with two friends and was surprised that the game was really interesting to watch!  It did help that there were lots of fit men running around in shorts.  The best thing was the positive and fun vibe.  You know when you are surrounded by people dressed as Bananaman, Superman, Jedis, Sailor Moon, Bender or covered in star stickers that when they are drunk, they will probably not be angry drunks.  And we walked around a bit too and found an outdoor area with music and a booze bus.

Overall, it was a great sunny day of Rugby and cider and beer with good natured drinkers.

http://www.worldrugby.org/sevens-series/

Rugby1 Rugby2 Rugby3

Following the rugby, which finished at 6 pm, we made our way to Clapham Junction for dinner and drinks.  Dinner was at Mien Tay, a BYOB cash only Vietnamese restaurant that is about 5 minutes walk from the station.

http://mientay.co.uk/battersea/

The summer rolls were good but I found my # 61 beef pho to be very bland, so I was a little disappointed with my main.

After dinner, we went across the road to the Sugar Cane Bar – a place I had walked past a number of times and intended to check out one day.  And I’m glad I did!  It’s a great bar with fun decor and great cocktails.  I enjoyed the ‘Hairy Coconut’ and ‘Strawberry Collins’.  Apparently there is a dance floor downstairs – I didn’t make it that far, but perhaps another night…

http://www.thesugarcane.co.uk/

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