Category: places we go

Travel Time

Just popping in to say we are in Tuscany enjoying cappuccino and gelato! Be back soon.

The Click Tick List – See the Terracotta Warriors Exhibition in Liverpool

I stumbled on the information for this exhibition quite by accident earlier in the summer. Somewhere in the depths of my memory I knew I’d heard of this archeological find but didn’t know much about it.

We headed off last weekend to see what it was all about.

This was the first time in over ten years that the Warriors (they have been called the Terracotta Army too) have come to the UK and the curators at the World Museum in Liverpool have put together a stunning exhibition.

Both breathtaking and terrifying we walked alongside the stories of how the sculptures were made and buried with the Emperor to protect him in the afterlife.

The detail was remarkable, each figure lifesize and unique. They estimate that there are 8,000 soldiers plus horses and chariots. They are still excavating this tomb that was discovered by chance in 1974.

I would love to see them in situ (just search instagram or the internet for an idea of the scale of this tomb) but I know I’ll never go so this will have to do.

Well worth the visit.

The Click Tick List – Photograph 100 Gardens – Kew Royal Botanic Gardens

Anyone who has been here a while knows that we love a trip to London so when my colleagues bought me afternoon tea at Kew Gardens as my leaving present we couldn’t have been more thrilled.

We wanted to visit in the summer to get the most from that world famous garden so went at the beginning of June. I’d been once before with my sister when my older niece turned sixteen…. she’s thirty two now! SO a revisit was almost like going for the first time.

We were not disappointed. In fact Gav was downright impressed. Here are a collection of photos from that afternoon.

The Palm House.

The rose garden was amazing. Here is Gav wandering onto one side of it. Above is Rosa ‘Lady Salisbury’.

Didn’t get the name of this one……. But is is so beautiful.

Rosa ‘Gentle Hermione’. Love how it fades with age.

Rosa ‘Wisley 2008’.

And Rosa ‘Jubilee Celebration’.

We meandered over to have our afternoon tea in The Botanical restaurant. It was delicious.

And then a general mooch about. There is so much to see you can’t do it all in a day so we headed to what interested us most.

They have a vegetable garden and also a very clever and interesting area set out in plant families. The photo above is the Euphorbiaceae bed. Some families have surprising members and it was an enlightening walk.

Some of the flowers had there muslin bags over them I’m guessing to protect the fertalised flowers. Ingenious yet pretty and it make you realise how much planning and looking after these kinds of gardens need.

The Rose Arbour.

Tomatoes.

The we went to climb up to the treetop walkway. Another clever idea.

And the view from the top was great. You can see the newly restored and recently re-opened Temperate House.

And before we left for the day we stopped inside that glasshouse.

Absolutely amazing place and we will be back again I’m sure. So worth a visit.

The Click Tick List – Watch a Shakespeare Play at the Globe

At the beginning of April I wrote about hoping to cross four items of my list this year. I made profiteroles, that was one and now we can cross another off because Gav and I headed to the Globe Theatre when we were in London last month and watched As You Like It.

So what was it like watching a play in an open air reproduction theatre then? Magical. That’s what. It was helped considerably by the play itself which is one of Shakespeare’s more light hearted works and apparently a favourite with audiences of which we can concur.

Luckily for all those folk standing, it didn’t rain.

All I knew about this theatre was that is was supposed to be a replica of the original Globe from Shakespeares time. I should have done my research before going but instead I have just done it and must say it makes interesting reading.

Here is the story of how it came to be built and here is the main web site for the theatre.  (Click on that second link for some great video shots of the building).

Although Gav and I are fans of the theatre and getting out there to see things we don’t go as often as we should. But now I’ve been once to this great place I can us popping along to see something on every trip to London. I may even give the standing up a try!

Adventuring – Malham Cove

I mentioned recently that we went to the Dales. I thought I’d share the photos we took of our walk up to Malham Cove.

We started from the nearby village of Malham where we were staying.

It wasn’t a very nice day but we got on with it.

In the photo above you can see the white face of the cove. Once a waterfall (it occasionally still is in very rainy seasons) the cliff is made of limestone that has eroded over millions of years. Apparently it is formed along the line of the Craven Fault System and the erosion has made a limestone ‘pavement’ at the top of the cove.

There is a set of steps to the left of the cove which of course Gav wanted us to climb……

Halfway up and I seriously believed by little heart might give up! I also thought this experience should be added to my click tick list……

Gav wandered very carefully to the edge. The rocks were really slippery so I stayed put.

It is a great sight and when you realise how these cracks and fishers have formed it makes you realise just how powerful nature is.

Back down at the bottom we walked to closer to the face of the cove and spotted large boulders that must have fallen from the top. That’s one just in front of Gav.

We also found some crazy folk….

Hard to spot but dangling from a rope about halfway up on the picture above are rock climbers!

I was asking Gav all about the stream that seems to begin at the cliff face and he was explaining that this stream (that comes from the water filtering through the hills and originally from Malham Tarn) becomes the River Aire.

The River Aire runs through Leeds and it all starts here in the Yorkshire Dales. You can tell I was pretty impressed by this walk we took.

Loved getting outside and seeing nature at its best. Really does the soul good.

The Post Box Quest – London 2017

It went a little bit like this when Gav, H and I were in London this summer…..

Me – ‘Oooo, there’s a post box over there.’ (Makes to cross road.)

Them – ‘Ugh.’ (Eye rolling and general ‘not another one’ faces!)

Followed by….

Me – ‘But look…..oh, that looks like one I haven’t seen before.’ (Crosses road abandoning them.)

Them – ‘Ugh.’ (Dragging feet and following on behind me.)

Poor things! My enthusiasm for looking at letter boxes hasn’t diminished and I did indeed find ones new to me. The one above is a double slot box with the cypher of VR for Queen Victoria on the side of the box not the front as it usually is.

This one has that directional sign fitted to the top.

And this one is a double Edward VII

The one below was covered in stickers as you can see. I have ‘edited’ the picture to remove some of them! But I had to take a photo because it had a strange ring on the top and it shows how some boxes had Royal Mail on them as well as the cypher.

And finally an anonymous box near the V and A Museum. These boxes had no Royal cypher and the aperture of this one was higher than most right up against the rim of the cap.

It is also smaller and apparently caused problems with letters getting stuck.

Whether my companions enjoyed my post box adventures or not I had fun spotting new post boxes to add to my collection. Oh yes I know I’m a geek!

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You can see my other blog posts about some of the post boxes I’ve found here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

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Eating at Disney World – Our Experience of the Dining Plan for Vegetarians

Before we dive into this topic I’d like to add a disclaimer…… I love food! There I said it….

We booked our Disney part of the holiday way back in June 2016 because there were some great deals to be had if you booked so far in advance. One of the deals was the inclusion of a dining plan package. We did a bit of research at the time but in the end just went for it.

There are several different dining plans but the one that was included in our price was the ‘quick serve’ plan. This includes two self-serve meals and two snacks. We decided to upgrade and paid about £200 to get a table service meal and a quick serve meal instead of the two quick serve ones.

The research I had done back in 2016 about eating at Disney basically said don’t bother with the dining plan if you were a vegetarian. However, as we were only paying £20 a day for both of us I felt it was well worth it.

When you look into the information that is out there on the web about these plans they focus on value for money. The reason those sites say don’t do the dining plan if you are a vegetarian is based on the fact that most veggie options in the parks and hotel restaurants are so much cheaper than meaty ones, therefore if you have paid for the dining plan you may end up out of pocket. I just did a check and for 2018 the quick serve plan is $52 a day and the regular dining plan is $75 a day. Based on those figures you would be out of pocket if you paid full price for the plan and ate vegetarian food.

But for us, because it came as part of the holiday package and we only paid for the upgrade it was absolutely worth it.

When you book the dining plan with table service meals you are able to book those meals 180 days in advance! Crazy. But even though it seemed crazy I decided that when the 180 day mark came around I was going to book most of the table serve meals and I’m so glad I did.

Here are a few points to remember.

  1. Research. Gav and I are seasoned researchers. I always tell the story of us living on croissants and water during a trip in France twenty years ago as the seed that started off our planning in relation to food. To be honest France is not geared up to Vegetarian foods, it’s not in their culture and I have to say that many, many parts the America are the same. So the answer is to plan and research. The way I did my Disney planning was to look at each restaurant’s menu to determine that they were part of the plan scheme and to check there were vegetarian options. I made a note of all the ones I liked the look of ready for when I could book them.
  2. Ask the waiter/waitress if they have other vegetarian options available when arrive at the restaurant. We ate at eight different table service restaurants during our ten day stay. All but one gave us an extra choice of vegetarian main course when we asked. Also check out the childrens menu as there may be a simple pasta option on it that can be made up into an adult meal.
  3. As I mentioned above I booked the table serve meals 180 days (more or less) in advance of our trip. Having those meals plans sorted means that yes, you have to be at a certain location at a certain time but also that you don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to eat in a busy and, usually, very hot theme park. It also gives you a framework to plan other aspects of your trip around which I found helpful. There is so much to do it can be overwhelming therefore having a basic plan set down is good.
  4. Expect to be very full up! I didn’t believe this would happen but oh my it did. Really even now I don’t want to think of another Brownie Fudge Sundae……
  5. Use your snacks wisely. One of the reasons we got rather full was because we picked a larger sized snack (so our own fault that we gained weight!) For example you could have a piece of fruit which counts as a snack or a great big Brownie Fudge Sundae… I also recommend finding the Dole Whip locations. If you’ve not had one and like pineapple they are worth seeking out.
  6. We were able to swap a quick serve meal for three snacks. This came in very handy when we discovered that Starbucks, located in all the parks allows the redemption of you dining plan credits. Good job we didn’t find that out until our final three days.
  7. Take away pizza is available for two table serve credits at some hotels. As you know we love pizza so having that option was a bouns for us and I would stay at a hotel with the delivery service again. We stayed at Caribbean Beach.
  8. Don’t limit yourself to eating only at your hotel. We of course had the car but even on the Disney transport it’s worth seeking out other restaurants. We ate at the Contemporary hotel twice. Both for breakfast buffets and they were very good value. Chef Mickeys has character dining too so perfect for a photo op with Mickey et al. Other favourites at the parks include Tony’s Town Square Restaurant at Magic Kingdom, Mama Melrose Italian Diner at Hollywood Studios, Chip and Dales Harvest Lunch at the Garden at Grill Epcot and the quick serve Deluxe Burger at Disney Springs.

I feel like this post is never ending…. There are lots of things to consider and I’ve only scratched the surface, but I was glad I planned it out.

Just for fun here are two actual days worth of food for me….. (don’t judge we were on our holidays!)

Day 1

  • Breakfast – Cereal with milk, cinnamon roll, banana (swapped quick serve meal for three snacks) Available from the hotel ‘markets’
  • Late lunch – Tony’s Town Square restaurant (table serve meal)

Day 2

  • Breakfast – Chef Mickeys – buffet style (table service meal)
  • Snack – Hot Fudge Brownie Sundae (snack)
  • Early Dinner – Veggie Burger at Deluxe Burger (Quick serve meal), Fries (snack)

You can get the picture that I loved planning and then eating my way through all our dining plan credits I would consider doing this again even as a vegetarian.

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A Day of Tulips

My sister and her family bought me the coolest birthday gift, a day spent with many, many gorgeous tulips. Sarah Raven Cookery and Garden School ran a day course visiting Great Dixter and then Perch Hill with lunch and a flower arranging demonstration. You can imagine I was in heaven!

The time at Great Dixter was mainly spent with one of their gardeners taking a group tour of the garden. Our guide hailed from California and it was his third year at Dixter. He was very knowledgeable and it was a wonderful hour filled with lots of detail and information I brought back home.

Here are some photos from the tour.

He spoke at length about the ethos of their borders and how they plant for succession using Tulips as well as early flowering plants and herbaceous perennials.

The combination below of Tulips and foxgloves is something I really want to try out here at home. So pretty.

Tulips and poppies and you can just see alliums popping up too.

A border made with pots. They are very clever folk here.

After the tour we had time to wander on our own and then make our way to Perch Hill which is home to Sarah Raven.

Lunch was wonderful all made right there and using lots of fresh ingredients from the garden.

After a talk from Sarah about her favourite Tulips, how she uses them in arrangements and then a flower arranging demo we headed out to look at the Tulips around the garden.

The Oast garden. Truly stunning.

There we so many interesting and unusual ways they planted up these bulbs. Just looking back at the photos make me eager for next seasons catalogues to arrive.

So many takeaways from this magical day I can’t recommend a visit to these gardens enough and of course big thanks to my sis and her gang for the gift.

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The Click Tick List – Update on Gardens We Have Visited

When I was writing the post about our visit to Chenies recently I realised it had been quite a while since I updated the list of all the gardens we have visited in my quest to photograph 100 gardens from the book.

So here is an update.

USA
Quarryhill Botanical – California
Filoli – California (Read about our visit here.)
Cornerstone Festival of Gardens – California
San Francisco Botanical Gardens – California
The J. Paul Getty Museum – California
The Getty Villa – California
Fairchild Botanical Gardens – Florida (Read about our visit here.)
Vizcaya Museum and Garden – Florida (Read about our visit here.)
Ca  d’Zan Mansion – Florida (Read about our visit here.)
Marie Selby Botanical Gardens – Florida (Read about our visit here.)
Edison and Ford Winter Estates – Florida (Read about our visit here.)
The Frick Gallery Garden – New York
Central Park – New York
The Huntington, California (Read about our visit here.)
Hearst Castle, California
Sunset Magazine Garden, California (no longer open to the public)
Oakland Museum of California, California

France
Giverny
Vilandry

Scotland
Cambo
Kellie Castle

Wales
Chirk Castle

England
Belsay Hall
Scampston Hall
Studley Royal Water Garden
RHS Harlow Carr
Harewood
York Gate Garden
Brodsworth hall
Chatsworth
Clumber Park
Biddulph Grange Garden
Upton House
Coton Manor Garden
Ickworth House (Read about our visit here.)
Snowshill Manor
Hidcote Manor Garden
Audley End House
Sissinghurst Castle Garden (Read about one of our visits here.)
Walmer Castle and Garden
RHS Garden Wisley
Royal Botanic Gardens Kew
Nymans Garden
Great Dixter
Wakehurst Place
Wrest Park
The Manor, Hemmingford Grey (Read about my visit here.)
Painswick Rococo Gardens (Read about our visit here.)
Borde Hill (Read about it here.)
Chenies Manor (Read about our visit here.)

That makes a total of fifty. Halfway there!

There are a couple of gardens I am sure we have been to but every time I look at the photos we have and try to tie them up with images of the gardens on the web I get really confused….. They are Waddeson Manor and Wimpole Hall.  Guess keeping records would have its benefits!

And still worthy of a visit but not in the 1001 book –

  • Mosely Old Hall
  • Coughton Court
  • The Courts
  • Nunnington
  • Calke Abbey
  • Benningborough
  • Little Moreton Hall

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The Click Tick List – Photograph 100 Gardens – Chenies Manor

On our recent trip south we made time to go and visit another garden from the book. And what an unexpected treat it was.

Chenies Manor is a Tudor Grade I listed building complete with an amazing garden. We were delighted to learn that Buddy could come into the garden with us and that the annual Tulip Festival would be in full swing.

We started in the vegetable garden a place close to our hearts and found one of two mazes.

The weather worn cold frames gave us ideas for our own so watch for more building before next spring.

The must have self timer shot.

We entered the garden through a couple of courtyards under a brick archway and then we were here with this lawn where the surrounding borders had been planted with white Tulips and blue Myosotis (forget-me -nots.) It was a simple design but packed a beautiful punch.

The on to the white garden.

Vistas appeared everywhere.

And I admired the architecture of the building. Love me a chimney pot!

The Tulips kept coming in all shapes and sizes.

There were also dramatic sculptures too. And stunning topiary everywhere.

Onto the sunken garden.

Must remember this planting combination.

We were intrigued by these parts of the house that stuck out???

Clever groupings of plants with a collection of vintage watering cans.

A really beautiful place to spend an afternoon.

And of course another one to tick of the list. That makes fifty! Woot. Only fifty to go then……

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