Sunday, 30 November 2014

63 countries visited

Jonathan Wallace’s Travel Map
Jonathan Wallace has been to: Argentina, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Bulgaria, Comoros, Croatia, Cuba, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jordan, Kenya, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Madagascar, Malaysia, Malta, Mayotte, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Senegal, Singapore, Slovakia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Vatican. Get your own travel map from Matador Network.

I found this website this morning and decided to try it out. I now know how many countries I have visited! 63

Monday, 24 November 2014

Lunch at Heworth Golf Club

I was the guest speaker at a lunch at the Heworth Gold Club in Gateshead on Saturday. The last time I had a meal at a golf club was in 2001 at the Nuwara Eliya club in Sri Lanka. Then it was a very colonial style afternoon tea with cucumber sandwiches with the crusts cut off and scones and cream. On Saturday it was a two course lunch. I spoke before the lunch and it seems I did not put anyone off their food!

In the UK there is always a danger that vegetables in restaurants are overcooked. At Heworth they were cooked as they should be, not turned into mush. I had roast beef, Yorkshire pudding and veg followed by lemon cheesecake. A good meal. One to be recommended (though I think to eat there you need to be the guest of a member.)

Monday, 17 November 2014

Catch up: Porto December 2012

I have been sorting through video files on my laptop recently and found a number I shot in Porto, Portugal's second city, in December 2012. So, as a bit of catch up, this is the video of the whole holiday. We were there for a week and, as we often do, we looked for last minute bargains. This one certainly fitted the bill. It cost about £450 for the two of us.

We found Porto to be very competitively priced, though at the time, the Portuguese economy was in a dire mess and had to get itself back into shape. Food generally was good though we experienced one cafe where it was so bad we walked out (after paying for the meal). As it was December, we were outside the tourist season. The weather was not brilliant and we saw quite a storm (as you can see from the video) when we were at the mouth of the River Douro on the Atlantic coast.

At some point I will post up individual location videos and photos, hopefully before I go to Barcelona next month.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Barcelona but no Andorra

We have booked a short (and cheap) holiday in Barcelona which we will take before the end of the year. £350 between the two of us, flying BA, 5 nights, is a bargain. Thank you eBookers. We will spend some time shortly checking out places to visit. I have visited over 50 countries but Andorra is not on that list. My aim is to visit as many countries as possible but sadly, it looks like on this holiday, we won't be able to get as far as Andorra. There are no direct train services from Barcelona and it takes 3.5 hours to get there by bus. We would only want to visit Andorra on a day trip from Barcelona but we would end up spending more time travelling than visiting the country. That doesn't seem worth it. So we will spend the whole of the holiday in Barcelona instead.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Deanos Trattoria in Whickham

After a late meeting on Thursday evening, we headed to Deanos Trattoria on Whickham Front Street. Whickham in Gateshead, North East England, is home turf for me and we have eaten before at Deanos. I think the prices are competitive but the quality does not lose out. For £6.95 I had a bowl of minestrone soup followed by spaghetti carbonara and a coffee (I could have had ice cream as an alternative to the coffee. Come to think of it, I did have ice cream as well as a colleague did not want hers.) The staff were really good as well.

One to recommend.

First class return

I used the return part of my free first class East Coast rail ticket to London on Monday. A rather uneventful journey but I wanted to show you two photos, one taken at the start of the journey and another at the end. The redeveloped Kings Cross Station is a great improvement and looks fantastic, as you can see in the photo above. The 2nd was taken as we crossed the King Edward VII railway bridge over the Tyne, approaching Newcastle. I always know when I am just about home from London when I see this stunning view of the River Tyne gorge and the bridges that span it.

Friday, 7 November 2014

The farm in Crystal Palace Park

In the corner of Crystal Palace Park in London is a small farm belonging to a local college. It is open to the public and we visited it on Sunday. As a goat keeper, I was pleased to see the farm has golden guernseys (I have one myself as a milking goat).

There are also pigs, poultry, rabbits, tropical animals and so on. It takes about half an hour to have a good look round.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

The Bridge House at Penge

We had Sunday lunch at the Bridge House in Penge on Sunday. We had eaten there previously and our experience was positive, hence our return. Whilst it is more pub than restaurant, the food was more restaurant than pub. Very good quality though not cheap. A typical main course was around £15. Nevertheless, we felt it was worth it.

My only word of warning is that the Bridge House is popular with young families. So for Sunday lunch at least, expect lots of kids to be running around and quite a bit of noise.

Crystal Palace Park

The Crystal Palace was built in Hyde Park for the Great Exhibition in 1851. Once it had closed its doors, the Crystal Palace was moved to its new and permanent home at the top of Anerley Hill. And to accompany it, a park was built. The Crystal Palace burnt down in 1936 but the park lives on. It is famous for its dinosaurs though few dino-scientists would argue that the concrete animals resemble any creature that lived millions of years ago. Despite the advances in our understanding of dinosaurs, it is still fun to see them, which we did on Sunday.

There is a big lake in the park which is home to a large amount of water fowl, most of which are used to being fed by visitors. In the past, we have bought bird food for them from the building opposite the cafe though I'm not sure whether such purchases are now available.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Made in Dagenham at the Adelphi

The reason for the trip into central London on Saturday was to go to the Adelphi on the Strand to see a performance of the musical version of Made in Dagenham. Not a bad performance and the writers certainly seemed unimpressed by the late Harold Wilson, Prime Minister of the UK from 1964-70. It was set in the late 1960s.

I have been to a number of performances in London but this was the first time I had been in the Adelphi. If you go there it is worth popping into the Wellington, just a few metres away, on the junction of Wellington Road and the Strand. We did for a quick drink. On previous visits, we had eaten upstairs. A modest menu, prices not too exorbitant for central London.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Studio 6 in Gabriel's Wharf

Gabriel's Wharf on the London South Bank is full of arty craft shops. But it also has a number of food outlets, one of which is Studio 6. We have eaten there a number of times before but chose to eat there again yesterday. Whilst the usual warning about London eating-out prices applies, the quality is good, indeed, very good! I particularly recommend the salmon fishcakes.

A walk along the South Bank

We had a day out in central London yesterday. The reason for the visit was the Adelphi Theatre. We had tickets for a performance. More about that on another post. The train took us to London Bridge. The first sight on leaving the station was the Shard. A magnificent building and one I intend visiting at some point in the future.

Across the road we walked through Borough Market. We had hoped to look around but it was very busy so we headed for the South Bank. This too was busy but gave us great views of London - and the views are free. Lots of famous bridges, St Pauls, the Globe Theatre, Tate Modern: all there to be seen and enjoyed.

And there is often free entertainment to be found:

Crystal Palace Food Market

The Crystal Palace Food Market in London is well worth a visit. It is held weekly, 10am to 3pm on Haynes Lane. The aim is to provide quality food produced as locally as possible. Judging from our visit yesterday, it seems to fit the bill.

Antenna Cafe in Crystal Palace

Hidden away at the end of Haynes Lane, Crystal Palace in London, is the Antenna Cafe. I didn't know it existed until I visited the Crystal Palace food market yesterday.

Pleasant and friendly, worth a visit for a coffee and snack. I had cappuccino.

First class on the East Coast

I am in London for a few days and because I travel regularly on the East Coast, I have built up quite a stash of points on their loyalty scheme. The points are a bit like a railway version of airmiles. 450 points got me a free first class return ticket from Newcastle to London. I came down on Friday and return home tomorrow.

I took the photo above as we were travelling through Durham City. It is one of the classic views from the East Coast.