To celebrate W’s milestone birthday, only two michellin stars would do. We had to book two months in advance, but we managed to get a table at The Ledbury in Notting Hill for a Saturday lunch. We dressed up and felt fabulously decadent.
W’s choices for appetizer and main:
Roasted Root Vegetables with Duck Ham and Roasting Juices
Chinese Water Deer with Rhubarb and Bone Marrow
Chantilly and Tatare of Oysters with Frozen English wasabi, Cucumber and Dill
Roast Sea Bass with Brocooli Stem, Crab and Black Quinoa
And for dessert, we both had the Warm Date and Almond Frangipane with Marsala and Clotted Cream Ice Cream
The food was amazing — I swooned after the first spoonful of oystar tartare while W waxed lyrical over his water deer.
We’re going to have to start saving up now for my turn in May.
A good friend of ours recently moved to Berlin after winning a prestigious fellowship and we are super jealous! We spent a weekend there back in October and it is, in my mind, one of the coolest cities on the planet. Great architecture, plenty of great places to eat and shop, and very affordable compared to the likes of London, Paris, Brussels, and pretty much all of Switzerland.
First things first, let’s start with some currywurst, the so-called national dish of Germany, then we’ll embark on a whirlwind tour of Berlin.
Ready? Set. GO!
Berlin Victory Column (left) and Berliner Dom (right)
Topography of Terror and Berlin wall
Now for a few items of interest from ze East:
1. Say hello to ampelmann, the beloved traffic-light man. In East Berlin he wears a hat.
And he has his own chain of souvenir stores.
2. A maze of pipes above ground, painted pink in some areas and blue in others, only found on the eastern side. What’s running through them? Could it be beer?
According to a German friend of ours, back in the day of East and West Germany, the government in the east built these pipes to transport the hot water from power plants for reuse in heating homes.
And finally, how the Germans work off the beer belly:
So in Canada and, as far as I know, the rest of North America, Christmas lasts one day. On this side of the pond there are twelve days of Christmas just like in the song, The Twelve Days of Christmas. Christmas decorations should be taken down on the Twelfth Night or you risk bad luck in the new year.
This year we were able to catch the Twelfth Night celebrations at the South Bank. It was… well, kinda crazy! But in a good way!
It begins with The Holly Man arriving on the River Thames:
After stepping up onto the bank he leads the crowd in wassailing the boat.
Then they gather on the steps in front of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre…
…to wassail the Globe:
Then the Mummers put on a play involving St. George and Prudence battling… it was all incredibly odd! But the crowd loved it.
Close-ups of the Mummers’ costumes:
For more differences between Christmas celebrations in Britain compared to North America, check out: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2012/12/british-up-your-christmas-holiday/
Last night we braved the New Year’s Eve crowds to watch the fireworks over the Thames.
The best location we could find at 10:30 pm was by Westminster Abbey with views of Big Ben and part of the London Eye. This was after scouting out Trafalgar Square and St. James Park. (Riverside viewing areas were already closed off at this point.)
The crowds were thick but spirits were high and at the stroke of midnight…
It was a spectacular night.
Sometime back in the summer, we went on a trip to Wales to visit what a friend of ours jokingly refers to as W’s ancestral home. For the record, W only spent a few years of his childhood growing up in Swansea; his ancestors are Chinese, not Welsh.
In this post we are going to skip all the boring bits of the trip (this was where W went to school, this was where W lived when he was 7 years old, etc, etc) and jump straight to the good stuff. The good stuff being the Gower Peninsula. This was the first area in the UK to be declared an AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty) back in 1956.
Here you’ll find 3 mile (5km) long white sand beach,
overlooked by horses grazing on the cliff side,
sprinkled with the occasional flock of spray-painted sheep.
During low tide, you can walk all the way across to Worm’s Head, a small tidal island at the southern end of Rhossili Bay.
See those little pebbles you see covering the sea bed? Take a closer look:
Yup. Mussels. It’s one vast mussel bed. Big and small, young and old, this is where mussels are born, where they live, where they grow and where they die.
It’s not an easy trek, from the mainland to Worm’s head. I broke a pair of shoes over these rocks (the soles cracked).
Along with sturdy shoes, it’s best to bring a watch if you plan to visit. You don’t want to be stranded out here when the tides come in.
At the far end of Worm’s Head lies Devil’s Bridge:
Hiking back, we stopped here for a break:
To our surprise and delight, we looked down over the cliff to find…
Seals, mussels, sheep, horses… the Gower is a pretty cool place. Despite all the distractions, we made it back to the mainland before the tide came in.
Here’s W enjoying his ice cream on the beach:
After a lovely day out, we had dinner in a sweet little village called The Mumbles.
The outer courtyard.
The inner courtyard.
The formal garden behind the palace.
There is a water shuttle that ferries visitors between the city and the palace. We found this sign at one of the stops:
The English have timetables, the Danish have fartplans!
In Hillerod we were very amused by little fountain:
Do you know where the water’s coming from?