Before this blog dissipates completely, I thought I’d better write a post. This week I am holidaying in Falmouth, Cornwall and have been very busy.
On Sunday, I visited the magnificent Pendennis Castle, one of Henry VIII’s coastal forts. Really enjoyed wandering around the castle and surrounding area. The castle itself transports you back to 16th century invasions and the tensions of World War 2 defences. The grounds are equally impressive with beautiful coastline views and various exhibitions of canons and artillery.
On Monday, I drove to the Eden Project which has certainly grown up since I last visited it with rather unimpressed children 👶. Nestled in a crater are Biomes housing a rainforest, Mediterranean gardens, art installations and other events such as an over loud story teller for the bored children. Entrance fees, which are extortionate, support environmental projects. You can also enjoy or endure a zip wire which is England’s longest and fastest zip wire experience if you wish too. I was quite keen, but put off when I saw some chap get stuck half way. He just stopped. The zip wire chaps left him dangling embarrassingly for several minutes before they arrived and dragged him back with rope and poles. No to that zip wire fun then!
On Tuesday, I drove to St Ives for a day of wandering around galleries, craft shops and stuffing myself with ice cream with clotted cream on top. Some contemporary art, which I love, is very inspirational and ingenious but some pieces are ridiculous and vastly overpriced. However, this is part of the experience to formulate an overinflated opinion and be judgemental whilst looking for that piece of art you just have to have. The beach views, as a backdrop to the aimless wandering, are quite glorious too.
Today, I went on a 6 mile walk around Falmouth through farmland and ending up walking along the coast. Beautiful Cornish views helped keep up my energy as did the humongous crab sandwich and just when I thought I was full, I stuffed myself stupid with another clotted cream ice cream 🍦in the wonderful beach cafe.
So that is how the week has gone so far. Of course I have frequented a few pubs too. Beerwolf Books is my idea of heaven. A pub with a book shop. Browse the books and have a pint. Pennycomequick is a great place too for both food and drink. The staff are ‘millennials’ and extremely helpful, cheerful, efficient and enthusiastic. Having encountered many experienced but curmudgeonly landlords during my time, can’t help thinking this is the approach to stop so many pubs closing. Be pleasant and sell a good variety of what people want in a clean and inviting ambience.
The pubs, cafes and restaurants in Falmouth are splendid and everyone seems friendly too which helps the beer go down.
Ok, I’ve walked a long way so just out for a quick drink. Thanks for reading.
Recently, I’ve returned from a trip to Scotland and Northumberland. What surprised me about the North of England and Scotland is just how much empty space there is. Fields upon fields of land and yet everybody seems obsessed with building copious schemes in the south of England. Ridiculous. Ok, I knew this just by looking on the map, but was still shocked how quiet and empty the area is in real life.
Having made this controversial statement, I must admit to being grateful that I live in the south without the interminable grey, cold weather. However, many people enjoy the wilderness of this area and it is great if you want to ingratiate yourself in a calm, quiet region, away from it all. Of course, there is a lot to see and do in Scotland too…
This post concentrates on the main places I visited but I enjoyed many walks, road trips and curious cafes too that are not all mentioned here. One of these was walking to see the Falls of Foyers which was quite exquisite. Burns and Wordsworth wrote fondly about the falls and beautiful scenery. I suspect the walk was more precarious in their time. People were friendly and welcoming during my tour of Scotland and it was an excellent trip. The start of a long list of places to visit, across the world!
ps://mishmashmediablog.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/dsc_0022.jpg”> Foyers Waterfall and walk
Firstly, I visited Edinburgh and enjoyed the bustle of the city with a great array of pubs, eateries and atmosphere. I stayed in a Bed and Breakfast near the city which wasn’t extortionately expensive, although the room was circa 1970s and the hardest bed I’ve ever attempted to sleep in. On the plus side, the breakfast was delicious and after a twenty minute stroll, I was in the centre of Edinburgh.
One of the first things I did, was go on the open top bus, hop on and off facility. You have a great view of the city and go at the pace you want hopping off, as necessary. Many historical places are on the tour and as you listen to the tour guide, you obtain snippets of local information, that you may not hear otherwise. Palace of Holyroodhouse is an impressive building and founded as a monastery in the 12th century which is now used for state and official entertaining. The Royal Mile is famous because it goes up towards the Edinburgh Castle. This castle has seen many sieges and battles with royalty having died within the walls. The guide also points out famous pubs and restaurants which are worth visiting. I can recommend the Dome which is a magnificent, grand building with a beautiful glass domed ceiling, pillared arches and has a great selection of food, including afternoon teas and cocktails. A real treat.
One of the humorous tales, as told by a lively and loud tour guide, is often it took so long to travel from Edinburgh to London, with the poor people precariously perched on top of the horse and carriage, that the proprietors of the coaching company insisted you had to have a valid Will before travelling! This is where the “Where there’s a will, there’s a way…” famous quote comes from. I’d wrongly assumed the “will” meant tenacity or similar.
log.files.wordpress.com/2018/08/20180607_131701.jpg”> The Dome….
After Edinburgh, I drove north to Perth and then Inverness. This is known to be the cultural capital of the Scottish highlands and has an impressive castle overlooking the the River Ness. The red sandstone castle was built in 1836 by architect William Burn and on the site of an 11th-century defensive structure. This is a lively and interesting town and of course, a great base for sightseeing the local area and the infamous Loch Ness.
I drove around the Loch Ness and took the boat trip on the loch itself. The views are heavenly and this was my favourite landscape in Scotland. Exploring the area is fun and the scenery is spectacular.
Plenty of places to eat and drink, although I find the pubs up north rather male orientated but a special mention must go to the fabulous Black Isle Bar which sells a great selection of craft beers, ales and yummy pizzas. I’m not a fan of pizza, but even I enjoyed it.
After this I decided it would be a clever idea to reach John O’Groats because, well, I’d got this far. All the driving during this adventure was exhausting but it is great to reach to top of the UK. Something you look at on the map and never expect to reach there. It is great to say you’ve been!
However, contrary to popular belief, it is not the UK’s most northern point, Dunnet Head is, and this is much more inspiring. The rugged peninsula in Caithness has a wild landscape with spectacular vistas, coastal grasslands and a long list of birds including puffins, razorbills, guillemots and kittiwakes. Now, this is worth a visit.
8/08/dsc_0074.jpg”> Dunnet Head
Next back towards the Ben Nevis area, Fort William. Unfortunately, I didn’t really realise how far it was and managed to find a place to stay in Fort Augustus for the night. This was a last minute find. I drove up a drive expecting a room and over chatty landlady, and was shown a large caravan with instructions to drop the key in the letter box by 10am the next day. Brilliant. I was exhausted and could chill out in the caravan. What luck! I don’t mind being sociable but not after driving forever and a day haha.
Fort William is a pleasant town, but the heavens opened for the three days I was there and so the scenery did dissipate into a foggy mass. Never mind, onwards to Glasgow.
9303519.jpg”> Broad St. is used for American movies because of its likeness! Source: Google
This was a great city. Yes, I was surprised to
This was a great city. Yes, I was surprised too. My favourite experience on this trip around Scotland. Full of vibrancy and interest although still cold and miserable. I was able to enjoy the glorious architecture, and immerse myself in the culture too. The city has so much to offer.
The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum is a must do. I was lucky enough to be there when the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Exhibition was on and was incredibly fascinating. Before I left, the following morning I visited the Mackintosh House. A great way to finish my visit to Scotland.
During the above visit to Scotland I did a few detours to such sights as the Forth Bridge/s and the Falkirk Wheel.
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Which is best? Well, during our recent holiday in the South of France, we decided to try both options. Here are my thoughts…
Apartment in Antibes
AirBnB rents homes in 192 countries world wide. The business of renting rooms, apartments or whole houses has grown rapidly over recent years. We used AirBnB in Rome and enjoyed a week in a superb apartment near the railway station, shops and main tourist areas. This time we rented an apartment in Antibes, Cote d’Azur and although ok, not ideal.
This taught me a lesson to research thoroughly. Although to be fair, this has been the first time I’ve been unsuccessful in gaining an ideal holiday space. The main problem, on this occasion, was location. Antibes is a beautiful town but we weren’t within walking distance of the bars and restaurants. I learnt about the public transport but unfortunately buses stopped running at 9.30 pm. Then I had the brainwave we could walk a mile to the nearby railway station and get a train. However, they were all cancelled due to a strike. Aaaagh. So, we made the best of it and a couple of evenings we just got a taxi home, one evening we stayed in and the rest we went home early. No big deal.
The flat was ok but probably more suitable for a millennial. Rather basic, full of storage boxes, which is fair enough, and without enough towels and sheets. We arrived to be told the sheets weren’t dry and only one bath towel each (no hand towels). During the week, Hubby unblocked the sink for the owner and I watered the plants. We found the hose by accident. Instructions were written, in French, on some note paper and the owner texted me (often) during the week, for one reason or another.
From this experience, I’ve learnt if you are going to rent a place abroad, one needs to research thoroughly. I enjoyed watering the plants in the evening and there was plenty of space. Most things wrong with the flat (cooker, bed, stuff) were fine just for a week but as I’ve said, I have learnt from the experience…
Location – If twenty minutes away from a town find out whether it is by car or not! If you want to be near bars/restaurants then make sure you are.
Check reviews – Work out whether they are valid or concocted by the owner’s mates. Are they written by the same age group, different nationalities and time periods?
Room type – Room, whole apartment or entire house? Check to see if it is the owner’s home. This makes a difference as you are likely to have their stuff all around you.
Amenities – Wifi, TV, Kitchen, towels, sheets and is the pool area actually open when you are at said residence? (Yes, you’ve guessed correctly.. it was closed.)
Host – Language and responsive? Ours host was very responsive…
Photos of residence – Check them carefully.
Hotel – Juan Les Pins
During our first visit to Juan Les Pins, I discovered that F. Scott Fitzgerald lived there during 1925 to 1927. This became the place to stay for the wealthy during the warm summers of the ‘20s and 30s.
The Belles Rives Hotel, Juan Les Pins, Cote d’Azur
When I first visited the area I couldn’t believe how much I adored the place. It had a ‘20s feel about it. So I looked online and discovered that Fitzgerald had enjoyed living in Juan Les Pins, as described above. Now I’m not easily impressed but when we investigated, the now Belles Rives Hotel, I was swept away by the beauty of the place. Not normally stupefied by luxury, etc. this was different. I fell in love with the place. It helps that I’ve read all of Fitzgerald’s work and actually adore his writing. It concentrates on an underlying social commentary, rich juxtaposed with poor, but focuses more on parodying society as he explores space, the historical changes of the female and their ensuing relationships and attitudes towards men. He creates a panorama of life by moving from scene to scene, and character to character with no event or character usually standing out from the rest.
Last year, we went to lunch at the Belles Rives Hotel, and as I was shown to my seat, by the water, I felt quite emotional. The scene before me, as I sat down, was beautiful and captivating. I will never forget that moment. The meal was delicious, the waitress lovely and the food, delicious.
This year, we decided to stay for three nights and once again the whole experience was superb. Expensive, but worth every penny. We enjoyed a comprehensive breakfast and on a couple of evenings enjoyed supreme dinners. One dinner in their sister hotel, The Juan, and on our final night, a Michelin Star meal in the Belles Rives dining room. The standard of everything is extremely high and it is fun to treat yourself once in a while. The hotel visitors seem to absorb the style and beauty of the splendid house and enjoyed having a special treat. Yes, it caters for celebrity and the wealthy but so what? It manages to keep the original furniture, style and elegance as when Fitzgerald resided there.
Which is best and why?
I enjoyed both experiences. The apartment suits me because I like shopping in foreign supermarkets, buying food and cooking. Recently, I’ve joked about preparing artisan sandwiches for our lunch too. You can come and go as you please or just chill out and relax if you return home early.
The hotel is fun too and although ridiculously lavish, great fun to be spoilt rotten. Probably, if you work long hours and want a relaxing break, this may be the best option. However, if you are out and about, then a pack lunch, hire car and your own space, is rather splendid too.
This walk captures the beauty of the Cote d’Azur and is a superb way of ingratiating yourself into the natural environment of this area. Plus the simple fact that your can park for free at the Plage de la Garoupe beach and then feed your soul with the magnificent 5k walk. It only takes about a couple of hours and is well worth doing. The walk can be rocky in places so do wear trainers or sensible footwear.
Cote d’Azur is known for magnificent properties, manicured gardens and superfluous wealth but this walk is surprisingly simple and enjoys a wild natural landscape. Also, you have the Mercantour National Park and the Estérel mountains to savour as you scramble carefully over the rocks.
On one occasion, I nearly fell because I was so busy looking at the clear blue sea, mountains, flowers and resplendent landscape. Parts of the path are properly built pathways but then dissipate into rocks, beach, and steep steps so can be precarious.
The limestone cliffs are very pretty because they are covered in glorious vivid flora, olive trees, exotic cacti and the cumbersome agaves. The blend of crystal clear blue water, rocky coves and mother nature is spectacular.
The final part of the walk is along a road called Avenue de Beaumont and then along Avenue de la Tour Gandolphe. Make time to enjoy the gardens and general serene landscape of this gorgeous vicinity, and then when you locate the beach, you can then enjoy some refreshment at the beach café and languish some more. Great fun.
Feel compelled to write about my wonderful day out at Margate because it is such a fabulous place, these days. Visited yesterday, so decided to write this impromptu blog post about my adventures…
I started off with a visit to the Turner Contemporary and viewed an exhibition called Animals and Us. All about the examination of humans and animals and concentrating on modern and historical art works and installations. An unusual exhibition which displays our distance and closeness with animals using symbolism, cultural and experimental views.
Next stop was lunch at the Sands Hotels. I sat next to the large window with the most spectacular view of Margate beach. Had goats cheese mousse, beef and Etonian mess. Fantastic, not expensive and once again, I felt quite spoilt.
Then I wandered around the beach area, had a few soft drinks, enjoyed the views and realised, as I was relaxing, that I should frequent Margate more often. Going to the beach for a day is like having a mini holiday because it is so much fun and very relaxing.
Then I had a look around the Shell Grotto which was discovered during 1835. Nobody knows why it was built and who was responsible for this incredible tunnel full of shells. Ornate and quite a surreal structure. Apparently, the folks of Margate have argued about the grotto’s origins ever since it was discovered. Rather a perplexing matter. Maybe an ancient pagan temple or meeting place? Very odd.
Popped in a burger place then the, what must be, the world’s most quirkiest micro pub, Fez. Really fun place, full of quirky artefacts, vinyl music and a warm welcome. What a day!
Margate has a fantastic selection of micro pubs, cafes, galleries and of course, a wonderful beach. Can highly recommend. I left Margate walking along the promenade whilst viewing this amazing sunset!
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During our most recent visit to Nice, during April of this year, we explored the historical Old Town. The previous visit was August 2017 and rather hot. I’ve included some photos from the August 2017 visit, to show the superb Nice park and how much the French children enjoy it. Well, not just the children, but adults too. Note the two chaps doing handstands; they weren’t young!
Nice has a long, pebble beach with the bluest sea I’ve had the pleasure to see. In fact, the first time I visited Nice (about 5 years ago), I remember an overwhelming joyous feeling upon viewing the vivid azure water and felt like I’d come home. (Still feel like that, but really adore Juan Les Pins, as the place to stay.) The coastal area of Nice, is called Promenade des Anglais (Promenade of the English). This is because the wealthy English aristocracy spent time in Nice because of the fine weather and panorama along the curving coast. You will see palm trees, pergolas, walkers and lots of French people with small dogs. They seem to love their little dogs and quite right too.
During a bad English winter in 1820, the Rev. Lewis employed workmen to build a promenade and it became France’s first piece of tourism infrastructure. It derives much of an Italian influence because it was the Kingdom of Sardinia. Not until the Treaty of Turin in 1860, did Nice become integrated with France. It was also part of the Grand Tour, which wealthy people enjoyed during the 18th century. This was a long holiday and they enjoyed extensive travelling through France and Italy whilst taking in the cultural sights. When I studied literature, I remember reading about Wordsworth and Coleridge undertaking such a journey.
The region has a splendid mix of beach life, shops, restaurants, hotels, history, architecture and a useful tram going through the centre of Nice. The Place Massena and surrounding area, is a spectacular city square full of bustling life and so impressive because of the Italian red ochre architecture. The lack of traffic, is an inspiring ideal and endorses a thriving Mediterranean square which is quite stunning.
The historical area is lovely with the colourful houses, winding streets, old traditional shops and markets. We ended up, eventually, at the harbour and decided to have a spot of lunch. We sat down at a busy café. They were all busy, but this one supplied a good menu so we ordered, and waited. And waited. And waited some more. Obviously, the French don’t mind the interminable wait for their food. Listening uselessly to the incessant, loud chatter, I became obsessed with watching food leaving the kitchen. Well, I was just beginning to die of boredom, when the long awaited food arrived and it was, I must declare, delicious. After which, when trying to pay, the card machine wouldn’t work, and the owner started to laugh hysterically whilst pulling and pushing at the wires of the credit card machine. By this time, I strolled towards the bobbing boats thinking I may throw myself in (not really) and my husband came out joyfully saying he has now, finally, paid for our meal. Incidentally, I do prefer to pay for my drink, as in the British pub, and sit down then… well… just leave the building. Find it annoying to drink your beverage and sit there and wait and wait and then have to beg a server for the bill.
Anyway, I can certainly recommend Nice for a long weekend away or holiday. It has an abundance of history, culture, coastal and culinary delights. It is the fifth largest city in France and is exciting and interesting. The people are friendly and welcoming. There are plenty of inexpensive hotels and of course, Easy Jet flies to Nice, which is a short flight from Gatwick, London.
Once again, I was lucky enough to enjoy a ten day holiday on the Côte d’Azur. We stayed in Antibes for a week and then went to my favourite place, Juan Les Pins for the last three days. During this exquisite holiday we did visit the Provence area and one of the places we explored is the beautiful Saint Paul de Vence.
We parked on the hill near the actual village. It is bizarre how the village looks miles away, but is, in fact, a short stroll from the car park. We passed the chaps playing boules and I wondered (out loud) why all the players are male? We assume this is how some of the retired French chaps spend their retirement.
The rocky outcrop of this omnipresent village, St Paul de Vence, is certainly one of the most fascinating villages to visit. As you drive towards the village, it appears to be both floating and protruding amongst the surrounding landscape of the Provence. No wonder it attracted artists such as Marc Chagall, Henri Matisse, James Baldwin, Jean-Paul Satre, Picasso and the Rolling Stones bassist, Bill Wyman is said to have a home in this area.
The walls of this historic village are from the mid-15th century and astonishingly have not changed since they were built. St Paul de Vence itself is serene and compelling, especially if you like contemporary art and beautiful views. The winding paths are enveloped by beautiful scenery and copious art galleries. To be honest, this is my idea of bliss; an array of paintings, sculptures, drawing you into the artistic spaces.
Love this window display…
It is also fun to lose yourself in the maze of ancient paths, curious street sculptors, ceramics, fountains, flowers and spectacular landscape. If you wander away from the crowds, as we did, you enjoy the quiet back streets and views of the superlative Côte d’Azur. Such a haven for dripping plants, arty discoveries and inspiring views, particularly if you are creative.
Whilst visiting a quiet area, we heard a car coming and rapidly stepped to one side. A large gleaming Bentley, shimmering in the sun, stopped abruptly at large gates. The driver waved to thank us for jumping out of the way. The man in the back had a rugged look about him and wore a floppy hat. Wondered who that was? Beautiful, old car. Oh, that’s the other thing about this region of the world, you see some glorious, classic cars.
This magnificent village is a great place to wander and enjoy some ice cream, cuisine, art, sculpture, historical architecture and scenery. Great to see how well this village has been preserved among the citrus trees, flowers and vineyards. We visited at the end of April and it was fairly busy, so it is probably packed during July and August. This ubiquitous place is truly wonderful, insightful and uplifting, so I’m not really surprised.
It is 7km from Cagnes sur Mer and between Nice and Antibes. Do visit and more travel posts coming up.
Source and loads of info here: saint-pauldevence.com