Memories of Nepal

The beautiful land of Nepal has been in the press an incredible amount since Saturday due to the horrific earthquake that struck. This has been the worse quake in over 80 years and has caused awful damage throughout the country and an incredibly loss of life. The current death toll is over 5,500 people but this will only continue to go up as they clear the rubble and slowly get to the communities outside the capital. I know for friends and myself who have traveled there and have worked with the Nepalese for years it has been shocking to see the images flash across the tv and media. Luckily everyone we know out there is ok but with infrastructure damaged its going to be a long road to recovery for the country.

I visited Nepal for the first time in 2008 as part of a trip that went through North India and into Nepal. When I crossed that border it was an odd experience, leaving the chaos and mayhem of India behind and entering the tranquil world of peaceful Nepal. The first stop was Lumbini, the birth place of Buddha so of course there was an air of peace around the place. We then headed to Chitwan, onto Pokhara and explored the Annapurna region and then onto crazy Kathmandu. I have such great memories of the country, so great that I am supposed to be going back in October to trek up to Everest Base Camp. With the devastation going on at the moment I have found it hard not to think about my time there, the country I have worked with for so long and a place I desperately want to return to as its such a welcoming country with wonderful people.

With all this in mind I thought I would share some of my favourite images and memories to remind people of the country it was and how the people need help to get back on their feet and recover. It will be hard, it’s a poor country who cannot simply snap their fingers and quickly rebuild everything. The world community will have to help!!

Leaving the chaos if India behind for the peaceful boarders of Nepal

Leaving the chaos of India behind for the peaceful boarders of Nepal

Lumbini - the birth place of Buddha - this is one of the most tranquil spots I have ever been. Prayer flags coat the trees and on a sunny day it is all just rather lovely to sit under a tree and listen to them gentle rustle in the wind!

Lumbini – the birth place of Buddha – this is one of the most tranquil spots I have ever been. Prayer flags coat the trees and on a sunny day it is all just rather lovely to sit under a tree and listen to them gentle rustle in the wind!

What a way to commute to work!

What a way to commute to work!

The humble tuk tuk!

The humble tuk tuk!

A family who live within Chitwan National Park, we visited their village and their farm while we were on safari there. They were so welcoming.

A family who live within Chitwan National Park, we visited their village and their farm while we were on safari there. They were so welcoming. It is not only the people initially effected by the earthquake that will suffer. Those that escaped the damage will have the knock on effect of tourism stopping, supplies not getting where they should.  They may not have lost their home or a loved one but they may be loosing their lively hood as so many people in Nepal rely on tourism to put food on the table.

The beautiful Pokhara Lake

The beautiful Pokhara Lake

Pashupatinath Temple, dedicated to Shiva, it is where Hindu's come to say good by to their dead. On the banks of the river funeral pires are lit and the bodies washed away with the river.

Pashupatinath Temple, dedicated to Shiva, it is where Hindu’s come to say good-bye to their dead. On the banks of the river funeral pyres are lit and the bodies washed away with the river.

boudhanath stupa - the eyes on this stupa are synonymous with Kathmandu, they seem to watch you from wherever you are standing, it is a wonderful structure

Boudhanath stupa – the eyes on this stupa are synonymous with Kathmandu, they seem to watch you from wherever you are standing, it is a wonderful structure

I like this image as it shows old Kathmandu against new Kathmandu. The stunning architecture of Kathmandu's past against a modern building in the background. This is like much of the city, and is part of the problem they have now as so many buildings are old and they just were not able to withstand the earthquake.

I like this image as it shows old Kathmandu against new Kathmandu. The stunning architecture of Kathmandu’s past against a modern building in the background. This is like much of the city, and is part of the problem they have now as so many buildings are old and they just were not able to withstand the earthquake.

The narrow chaotic streets of Kathmandu, shops pouring out onto the streets, people selling things from everywhere. It can feel a little chlostraphobic but you get used to it - this is a way of life that has not changed, the warren of streets that spread through the city.

The narrow chaotic streets of Kathmandu, shops pouring out onto the streets, people selling things from everywhere. It can feel a little claustrophobic but you get used to it – this is a way of life that has not changed, the warren of streets that spread through the city.

It is such a beautiful and charming country, if you are able to help then please do through the many charities and organisations raising money!

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Art in unusal places

I was recently invited to the opening of an art residency at a hotel. The hotel was the Jumeirah Lowndes Hotel in London. The Art Movement, an art consultancy, has taken up residence in the hotel and will in their programme showcase some of the world’s finest contemporary artists within the hotel lobby and Lowndes Bar & Kitchen Restaurant. The first artist being Chuck Elliott. The aim being that guests can view the art and purchase. It’s intended to be a new way of displaying art as an alternative to a gallery. The Art Movement want to demystify the process of acquiring original art.

blast/first/fracturerefract by chuck elliott

Chuck Elliot Blast/FIRST/fractureRefract . Taken from artnet.com

I quite like this idea of creating new ‘art galleries’ accessible to people who maybe wouldn’t wander into an art gallery. I like it when art is accessible to all people, I think that is why I am so drawn and interested by graffiti and street art. It’s a way for people to express themselves on an open canvas to a wide audience and get them thinking. Street art is something that I always look for when I am abroad as it gives you another layer to the culture and the people of the country you are in.

Some of the many pieces of street art from San Jose

Some of the many pieces of street art from San Jose

Some of the many pieces of street art from San Jose

Some of the many pieces of street art from San Jose

Amazing use of space for art in Soweto

Amazing use of space for art in Soweto

One of my favourite cities for Street Art is Berlin. This is a city rich with art and it has a long history of expressing itself through art – just look at the East Side Gallery – the remnants of the Berlin Wall. It is showcase of politics, oppression, freedom and culture. Its one of my favourite galleries. But along with the wall, the streets and buildings of Berlin are littered with graffiti and art all showing different thoughts and feelings.

Its not only the East Side Gallery that show cases the artistic talents of the city but all surfaces, no matter their height. The sides of apartment buildings are painted to look like gardens, a wall full of sunflowers or words of expression.

Its not only the East Side Gallery that show cases the artistic talents of the city but all surfaces, no matter their height. The sides of apartment buildings are painted to look like gardens, a wall full of sunflowers or words of expression.

The East Side Gallery, the worlds longest open air art gallery.

The East Side Gallery, the worlds longest open air art gallery.

Of course here in London and the UK we are not short of street art. Just look at Banksy, he made a name from creating art, originally on the streets of Bristol, and then further a field. In the eyes of some he is just a graffiti artist or vandal while others are willing to pay millions for an original Banksy. Wandering around Bristol and spotting a Banksy is part of the fun of going to visit the lovely city.

Bristol Street Art

Bristol Street Art

Bristol Street Art

Bristol Street Art

Here in London of course we are spoilt… yes I am not going to deny it most of the graffiti out there is just tagging and pretty non descript but then you go to somewhere like Shoreditch which is starting to become like a living art gallery, around every corner is an artistic surprise, big and small. I follow quite a few people on Instagram but I particularly like following Anissa Helou as she is always putting up new pieces she finds wandering around Shoreditch – I can admire the art wherever I am thanks to her pictures! The art has become so popular that tours are popping up to show it all off.

Shoreditch art

Shoreditch Street Art

More recently I have been introduced to an art project in Cuba Fusterlandia,created by Jose Fuster, known as the Picasso of the Caribbean. As you enter the Havana suburb you are met by block after block of mosaic creations. It’s a suburb that has been turned into a living art project and encourages the inhabitants to express themselves through their houses, gates and gardens! This is definitely something that I am very excited to explore when I go to Cuba in January!

Stepping away from paint into the world of sculpture there are so many places that are now being used as galleries outside of the norm. I like the idea of sculpture parks, like the Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. Putting a piece of sculpture in the context of nature, where the elements can get to it. Of course this is not art you can buy but it can be appreciated, and your perception and feelings towards it are always going to be different depending on the weather. You are more likely to rush around when its cold and wet than if it was a warm sunny day where you can linger and explore all the aspects of it. Sculpture parks and walks allow you to go back time after time and experience the same things in different ways, something that isn’t really possible in a climate controlled museum or gallery.

P1020881 P1020900There is so much creativity out there that its hard to contain it all within the four walls of an art gallery – of course do not tell that to all those boutique private galleries that fill the streets of London and other cities a like trying to sell the wares of artists. As long as it isn’t hurting anyone I do not see a problem with using new spaces to express yourself through art. I hope to keep seeing art popping up in unusual places. I encourage you to go out and find art in unusal places. Find something and keep going back and see how the elements effect your perceptions of it. Go and explore art – I dare you!

101 Posts! Where does time go?!

‘You have reached 100 posts’ ….. say what!! That was the message I got when I posted about my visit to Bounce…. how have I written 100 posts already – how time flies! Which makes this 101, that’s right I have enough posts to make a blog post coat!!

I jest of course, you cannot make a coat out of blog posts… unless I printed them out, laminated them and stapled them together…. hrm….  clearly the terrible weather has gotten to me today.

So what does one talk about on their hundred and first blog post? It should probably be something prolific, profound and meaningful…. but then again none of my other posts have been so why start something I will not continue. Things like this always make you reminisce and ponder what has been but also it is great at making you think about where you are going!

The future, such a scary thought! I am quickly spiralling towards a landmark birthday, although I will continue to lie about my age, but there is so much to look forward to coming up, holidays, gigs, new restaurants to try,  birthday PRESENTS, more holidays…….  and more holidays, that I don’t know why you wouldn’t want to think about the future. For me there is a lot of planning at the moment with regards to the old blog and writing as I am really trying to get my freelance stuff out there and always looking for new inspiration.

The future is also exciting as you do not know what is going to happen. One very exciting future, is that of my darling friends Ailsa and Rich who got married at the weekend – they are two people setting off on an awesome adventure – a future together… FOREVER! It was such a lovely day ( yes I am doing a wedding shout out!) and a wonderful chance to catch up with people who I haven’t seen in ages and again reminisce about the good old days of youth!

Anyway, that’s enough pontificating from me! The future, it’s an adventure, and in my blogging future there will be lots more food…. quite a bit of beer…. and travel stories. I hope you continue to join me on these adventures and share your thoughts with me for the next 100 posts!

Enjoy your pondering of the future!

 

A New Age for Airports – Heathrow Terminal 2

Airports can be an incredibly fun place or an incredibly boring place depending on where you are and how long you are there for. Having spent my time in many an airport around the world, from the lovely to the awful I have come to the conclusion that when flying you should try to spend as little time in the departure terminal as possible, especially when flying alone because otherwise it’s incredibly boring! However recently something changed my mind, the preview of Terminal 2 at Heathrow.

Now Terminal 2 was closed and demolished in 2009, and to be honest I had forgotten all about until I randomly got into a conversation with someone while sitting in Terminal 3 a few weeks ago. T2 opens on the 4th June offering the latest step in the transformation of Heathrow. It will be home to 26 airlines and will welcome 15.8 million passengers a year.  That’s a lot of people to keep entertained while they wait for their flights.

Concept art of Terminal 2

Concept art of Terminal 2

At the Experience Terminal 2 preview they show cased some of the highlights of the new terminal, the things that are going to make it stand out and make travelling through the terminal fun.

For so long we have been faced (now I am talking to my fellow economy class travellers) with the same old food options in airport departure lounges, coffee shops, sandwiches or sushi, there is no real choice which just made pre flight dining boring. You want something exciting before you get on a flight. T2 is changing that. Of course there will still be the normal offering of coffee shops like Nero or Costa, but now you have a wider choice with places like Leon or M&S Simply Food that mean you can have something healthier, something that isn’t just a sandwich. There are also going to be higher end food options with the Heston Blumenthal’s  ‘ The Perfectionist Cafe’ offering a menu which celebrates British dishes and of course it keeps Heston’s trade mark experimental food stamp, with things like liquid nitrogen ice cream on the menu.  There will also be ‘The Gorgeous Kitchen’ the creation of four women looking to create a wholesome and seasonal menu that offers relaxed fine dining.

Concept art of Terminal 2 departure lounge

Concept art of Terminal 2 departure lounge

It’s not only restaurant choices that are getting a make over, but Terminal 2 is going to have ‘London’s Pride’ by Fullers, one of my favourite breweries. Finally you are no longer left with the choice of one dark odd smelling pub that attracts the morning drinkers, but somewhere that offers a gastro pub experience and decent beer! Fullers have also created a beer just for this pub called ‘Wingman’ and its lovely, a really nice light ale that is perfect as a pre flight beverage.

Now I am not one to usually favour shopping at airports as I am usually so laden down with things already buying clothes before I get to my destination seems like an odd choice. Of course that is me and I know lots of people like the idea of tax-free shopping or if you are returning home its the perfect time to get presents for people! T2 has of course created a small problem for me as they are introducing the very first John Lewis shop in an airport – this is going to cause me a problem when I fly as clearly I am going to end up buying lots of nice John Lewis things when I really don’t need them! Shame on you T2, shame on you!

some of the lovely Jo Malone products that will be on sale in the new T2

some of the lovely Jo Malone products that will be on sale in the new T2

There will of course be the usual selection of designer brands on sale within the terminal including Burberry, Mulberry, Kurt Geiger and a favourite of mine Cath Kidston. As well as clothes shops there will be the traditional World Duty Free shop which is always a way to pass the time at any airport and in Terminal 2 you will have even more ways to pass the time, with their bespoke whiskey tasting, along with a range of complimentary facials, massages and treatments. I got the chance to try out one of their hand massages and a manicure and it was brilliant, so relaxing and definitely something I would try to take advantage of when flying as it just gets you in the right state of mind. I have also fallen in love with the Yves Saint Laurent nail varnish I am now wearing courtesy of my free manicure so there is a sale right there!

Who could turn down a lovely complimentary manicure!

Who could turn down a lovely complimentary manicure!

Gorgeous Yves Saint Laurent products on sale in World Duty Free shop.

Gorgeous Yves Saint Laurent products on sale in World Duty Free shop.

 

Terminal 2 has a lot to live up to now but its offering all the right services to make flying fun again, to make travel luxurious even if you don’t have hundreds of pounds to spend or access to a lounge pre departure. You can now go to the airport knowing you will have the chance of eating lovely food before your flight, maybe a mini massage or treatment and enjoy a relaxing drink. Air travel has gone crazy over the last few years with the rise of low cost airlines, you arrive just in time for the flight as all you have is hand luggage, no time in the departure lounge, just straight onto the plane. The glamour of air travel is gone but Heathrow Terminal 2 is trying to bring a little bit of that back and I say bravo to them because you know what I wouldn’t mind a little bit of old school glamour before I get into my economy seat on a 14 hour flight. All I can say is I need to book a holiday that flies out of Terminal 2 so I can try it for real this time!

Weekend Antics

Weekends are a precious commodity! We spend Monday to Friday watching the clock, counting down the hours to home time on a Friday so we can celebrate the weekends, and then before you know it its Sunday evening and you are pondering the list of things sitting on your desk that need to be done on Monday morning. Weekends should be cherished, used wisely….. or on some occasional cases – not so wisely! With the bank holiday season in flow thanks to its start at Easter the extra time out of the office should be used for exciting adventures, catching up with friends and just plain old relaxing.

The May bank holiday next weekend is also the sign that summer is coming and that outdoor activities become a must to soak up all of that precious warm weather and sunshine! For me this weekend signaled the beginning of a fabulous summer of fun – it was my darling friend Ailsa’s hen party! We ladies journeyed to the beautiful city of Oxford for a weekend of high ropes and cocktails!

Ailsa enjoying her hen party at the high ropes!

Ailsa enjoying her hen party at the high ropes!

I have never done high ropes before so was very excited, but also a tiny bit scared. I am fine with heights but its the fear of falling that gets me, not sure why, especially as on these things you are harnessed in! Well it was a great day and we even got some sunshine which was brilliant – so after being stuck in a harness for 3 hours and a few rope burns we departed the high ropes and headed for the local pub, from here we went for a more glamorous look of little black dresses, heels and cocktails and what a fine evening it was. With the wedding only 4 weeks away the fun times have started!

Heading to the high ropes

Heading to the high ropes

So what else is coming up over the summer? I know so many people who are getting ready for the summer season of festivals and gigs. There is nothing better than live music, feeling the beat and dancing your socks off! I have no festivals in the calendar but I certainly have gigs booked in, Kelis in just over a week – whoop! I am especially looking forward to the Somerset House Summer Series – its such an amazing venue space, live music as the sun sets behind the fabulous architecture, one word – lush! There is also Jazz at Fulham Palace on the cards and I am hoping I continue my lucky streak and get tickets to the itunes festival this year ( fingers crossed).

Memories of past fun times at the i-tunes festival!

Memories of past fun times at the i-tunes festival!

It’s not only music that makes me tick, but food, and the summer is the perfect time to try out new recipes and encourage out-door eating in the form of PICNICS! Anyone that knows me, knows I love a picnic! Something to do with being raised on day trips, the cool box in the back of the car and the dashes to the car when the heavens open. Now I am not fussy and being very British I enjoy a car picnic when the weather is against you just as much as one in the sun on a blanket on the grass. With picnic season almost upon us I will be working on some new fabulous recipes, think tarts, salads and summer bakes, yum! The spring/ summer season inspires me every year to cook bright colourful food, like Peruvian spiced chicken with roast vegetables. Simples, tasty food that looks beautiful.

Scrummy Peruvian spiced chicken and roasted vegetables - simple spring cooking!

Scrummy Peruvian spiced chicken and roasted vegetables – simple spring cooking!

To top it off, I am also off to see my comedy heroes, Monty Python! Ok, I didn’t get tickets for the live shows but the Ritzy in Brixton is showing one of the nights live on the big screen so I am very much looking forward to seeing the amazing Pythons do their thing….. I will of course be spending at least one weekend on the run up glued to the television watching the Life of Brian and The Holy Grail, because at the end of the day the weekends are for relaxing and taking time to recover from those busy working days and whats better for relaxing that wine and laughing until it hurts!

So with the summer beckoning us to join it get your diary filled up with fabulous things, take advantage of those green spaces, pitch up with a blanket and friends and take in the fresh air and sunshine. When it’s not so great then explore, get out there and see new things, or take advantage of the rain and park yourself on the sofa for a few hours with something baked and a great film! With a diary filling up, I am very much looking forward to the next few months….. I just better remember to do some baking in between!

XXX

Frugal February and a tasty chicken soup!

Its so easy to spend too much money in the supermarket, the odd quick trip in to buy milk and you come out with 4 or 5 things you didnt even know you needed, and there you have it another £10 spent. I love to try new things and keep meals varied which means I get easily distracted when in the supermarket and trying out new recipes sometimes means buying new ingredients. My trips to the supermarket always end up with me buying things that are not on my list!

So as a challenge to myself I am going to stick to a budget and plan my meals and use up all those random things that I have sitting in my cupboard and freezer. Starting on the first of February, conveniently a saturday I will become queen of the budget and with the money I save I will have spending money for my upcoming trips to Berlin and South Africa – hurrah! Ok something tells me I wont be saving that much money but its certainly a start and a start to me being a better shopper! 🙂

With the grand plan in mind I need to forward plan cheap meals that are flavoursome and freezewell. I am going to plan my weekly meals and stick to it, so no buying of random food half way through the week or going off piste. But it does mean I get to try out some new recipes, one pot wonders and lots of home baking!

So what is in the shopping basket this week – Gyoza dumplings, Chicken Soup and Wild Rabbit Ragu…. oh and some baked goods I am sure!

So to start my frugal month I am starting with a soup. Its a quick and easy chicken and vegetable soup, that is full of vegetables and flavour and will make 5-6 portions, so some for the fridge and some for the freezer!

Ingredients

2 chicken breasts

1 white onion, chopped into small pieces

3 carrots, chopped into small pieces

2 stalks of celery, chopped into small pieces

2 garlic cloves

1 courgette, chopped into small pieces

100g button mushrooms, sliced

100g rice

1.5l chicken stock

2 tsp of mixed herbs ( or basil, thyme, and a bit of rosemary)

2 bay leaves

half a savoy cabbage, finely sliced.

1. Poach two chicken breasts in some stock. (To poach, place the chicken in a heavy bottom pan and pour in enough stock just to cover the chickn, add a couple of bay leaves and a couple of teaspoons of mixed herbs. Bring the stock to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 10mins, turn off the heat and leave in the stock for a further 15mins. Once cooked, pour some of the cooking stock into a jug and save for later. Take the chicken out and shred. Put the chicken aside for later.

Poach the chicken so its tender and shreds easily

Poach the chicken so its tender and shreds easily

2. Sweat the onions down in the heavy bottom pan for 4-5mins until they go clear, then add the carrots, celery and garlic.

SO many yummy vegetables

SO many yummy vegetables

chop chop chop!

chop chop chop!

Sweat those veggies down

Sweat those veggies down

Continue to sweat for a further 4-5mins. Add the courgette and mushrooms, along with the rice and chicken.

more chopping!

more chopping!

Add the stock, and simmer until cooked

Add the stock, and simmer until cooked

Stir, so the rice covers the vegetables. Pour in the stock (use some of the left over poaching water) and season with the herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, and then turn down to simmer and cover. After 5minutes of cooking, give it a good stir and then stir in the cabbage. Cook for a further 10-15mins until all the vegetables are cooked through. Check for seasoning and then serve!

Yummy veggie packed soup, so full of goodness and flavour!

Yummy veggie packed soup, so full of goodness and flavour!

Wish me luck on my frugal planning and Enjoy!!

How is the year almost over?!

I am starting to panic… how is 2013 almost over? How is it almost 2014?! It’s crazy how time flies! With Christmas pretty much over ( I am back to work tomorrow), I am getting reminiscent. So much has happened and changed, yet some things have stayed exactly the same… in a good way! I hope that everyone had a great holiday break, lots of food and drink and time with the family! It was great going home this year, as always, the chance to be spoilt with my parents home cooking, gorgeous Christmas dinners, roasts, and pies, scrummy cheesecakes ( I really need a masterclass off that mother of mine!) and lots of bubbles to drink. I will be paying for this by having to live in the gym during January but it was worth it… it always is.

I love the smell of fresh Christmas trees!

I love the smell of fresh Christmas trees!

A touch of Christmas baking with gingerbread snowflakes

A touch of Christmas baking with gingerbread snowflakes

For me 2013 has been a pretty good year, I have changed jobs, this wee little blog has started to kick off, I am finally getting paid to write about the things I love and we actually had a summer whoop! At the beginning of 2013 I was desperate to leave travel and did, ended up working in publishing for a 6 months and in that time realised, travel was where I should be and lucky for me I managed to get back into the crazy world of travel.Travel is me, I am constantly planning trips, always looking at new destinations and love talking about it to the point where my family regularly threaten to gag me, so why on earth did I think I didn’t want to work in that industry! Well everything ended up as it was supposed and I am now back and working for a great little company, lets hope 2014 has lots of new travel to offer me!!

This last 12 months has also been great for my blog, I have reached so many new readers which is great – thank you for continuing to read what I write and comment. I love reading the comments and learning about your adventures as it just inspires me. I hope you will all stick around for another year, and let me know what you think as we go along. I have lots of cooking and travel stuff planned for 2014, and with a few new cook books under the Christmas tree this year there is going to be lots of time spent in the kitchen. I am determined to become a top-notch Lebanese food master, and will continue to work my way through Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book, and hopefully towards the end of next year I can start planning my trip to Lebanon and Israel. There is also baking ahead, I will master the macaroon, it may end up with me and my housemate not being able to look at another macaroon again, but they will be darn good. Hopefully you will enjoy reading about these adventures and it will inspire you to keep going in your own travels and kitchen adventures.

With a Macaroon set under the tree for me, 2014 is the year to master the art!

With a Macaroon set under the tree for me, 2014 is the year to master the art!

A giant Lebanese cook book -  bring on all that yummy food!

A giant Lebanese cook book – bring on all that yummy food!

I am always discovering new blogs to follow and new inspiration for both food and travel so bring on 2014 and an inspirational year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!!! May 2014 be full of exciting and fun new things!

xx

Spice up your life with Steenbergs!

Steenbergs is a fair-trade spice company located in Yorkshire, they offer a huge range of herbs and spices that are organic and ethically sourced! I love using them in my cooking. The brain child of Sophie and Axel Steenbergs, this is a family run company, keeping it local and with an ethical heart!
Check out my latest contribution with Flavour First about Steenbergs –  http://www.flavourfirst.org/steenbergs/

 

25 years in travel with Michael Palin!

I recently got the chance to see one of my heroes speak live to a small audience – the great Michael Palin! It was a great opportunity and one found purely by chance while looking for tickets for something else! Hurrah for fate!

Now for some, you may only know him from his Monty Python days and films but here in the UK he is a TV legend taking viewers around the world on his many travel shows. He started back in the 80’s with Around the World, a trip tracing the route that Joules Verne’s hero Philleas Fogg took in Around the World in 80 days. Of course for any modern traveller not being able to take normal modes of transport equates to hilarious consequences. From then on Michael Palin has gone on to host several other journeys around the globe, including Pole to Pole, Himalaya and Sahara.

This particular talk was a fund raising event for a local library called the Keats Community Library, that is run by volunteers and completely dependent on donations. Michael is a Patron of the library so of course offered his services. Taking place in a slightly odd venue, the lecture theatre of the London Royal Free Hospital, the 350 strong audience waited patiently for Michael Palin to come on stage. For the next hour and half we listen to and laughed with our host who took us through the 25 years of travels that he had been on courtesy of the BBC.

It was amazing to watch him speak, he is so confident and fluid and spoke for such a long period of time without notes or aids. This is a man completely comfortable speaking to an audience and one with a brilliant memory. He recounted tales, names and places as if he had been there a couple of days previously – if only we all had such amazing memory recall!

Michael Palin

Not the worlds greatest photo, but look how close I was!!

As someone who works in travel and is continuously planning her own explorations of the world it was brilliant to see someone speak so passionately about the things he had seen and done. I remember the first time I saw one of his travel shows on TV it was so different to anything else that had been on previously. Here the presenter was taking on this journey into the unknown, he was at ease with people and was making mistakes. He genuinely seems to enjoy what he is doing and meeting people along the way. It was this enthusiasm and passion that really drove me to go into travel and explore the world as much as possible, seeing the wonders of the world and meeting so many fabulous people.

If you ever get the opportunity to see Michael speak then go, he is wonderful to watch and listen to!! Otherwise go and watch one of his travel shows (maybe with a side order of Python) and get inspired to go somewhere amazing!

Creighton’s Chocolate!

We are Creighton’s!, that’s how they declare themselves on Twitter, and their unique chocolate flavourings certainly make them stand out! Run by a mother and daughter and named after Grandma they want to put the fun back into chocolate making!

I first came across Creighton’s when researching for a story about bacon flavoured food, and the magical world of the internet introduced me to Creighton’s. Having had a good old look through their website its clear to see  they are offering something a little bit different to the normal every day chocolate. Based in Leighton Buzzard they have a great website which you can order from but they also have stockists all over the country.

I have been lucky enough to try a few of their chocolate flavours and have enjoyed all of them. The chocolate itself if good stuff and then paired with a unique flavour mix it adds something else to the experiences. The flavours I have tried are

–          Makin Bacon Chocolate – milk chocolate with maple bacon flavoured pieces

–          Fizzy Cola – cola flavoured chocolate with popping candy

–          Sanguinello  – a smooth and creamy dark chocolate flavoured with orange

–          Peanut Nutter  – milk chocolate full of salty peanuts

All four flavours are delicious.

Chocolate

My favourites would have to be the Cola flavoured chocolate and the orange. The cola chocolate is crazy, your brain doesn’t quite understand what is happening, this is milk chocolate but it tastes just like a glass of coke… oh and wait, yes there goes the popping candy! I tried so hard to make this bar last but it was gone so very quickly!

The Orange chocolate was an unexpected delight. I am a bit picky when it comes to dark chocolate, it has to be just right, not too bitter and creamy. This little number hits all the right marks. It’s a creamy chocolate and not bitter at all and the orange flavouring is just right.

As me and my housemate flick through their Christmas catalogue and circle all the things we want to buy and scoff our way through its clear Creighton’s has become a firm favourite!

Check them out!