Thursday, 6 October 2011

A Summer Sojourn in the United Kingdom

This year, the Gorilla's cousin was getting married and being from the UK, we made a trip down and spent two glorious weeks in the United Kingdom. Quite honestly, it was the best time to visit as the last rays of summer were making themselves fully present and that cold breeze that hits you is just simply refreshing. We spent most of our time in Coventry and managed trips to London, Birmingham, Edinburgh and of course, The Lake District, which has always been my favourite part of the UK. Its right up there with Bath and Stratford Upon Avon.

Here are some quick and fun highlights:

The streets of the town, Leamington, are dotted with these gorgeous flowers. Its a lovely town and about 30 minutes drive from Coeventry, where I stayed with Gorilla's grandparents, who live in the most beautiful cottage.



This is the garden that the Grandparents have. The property ends where the black fence is. And on most days, cows will be grazing at the back and its simply fun to go up to them and MOO at them.

Another view of the gorgeous cottage. Sadly, this house has been sold as the Grandparents are getting on with age and cannot maintain it. 

So, I spent a day in London and here are some fun sights:

PORTOBELLO MARKET

Here is a shop with old school sewing machines lining its walls!

Then, of course, I had to try the famous Humming Bird Bakery!


My friend, T and I had a cupcake each. 
 

Red velvet on your left, Cherry Cola on your right.
Quite frankly, very over rated and not worth the THREE POUNDS PLUS we paid per cupcake. sigh.
The textures were a little dry, stale tasting and not exactly worth its reputation. Sorry, I really am quite picky and its hard to wow me with food.

Now, I didn't take any pictures but the MUST shop place is CAMDEN!

I didn't take any photos there as I was too busy shopping and looking at everything! T and I had such a blast running in and out of shops, getting lost there and on the tube but it was exhilirating! Bring lots of change and cash as you really would want to shop there! From quirky dresses to one of a kind art pieces, you'll never be bored and things are very affordable.
Oh, as we were leaving London for Birmingham, I managed to get a shot of this:


Too good to not grab a shot of...

BIRMINGHAM
The Gorilla did his uni there and we obviously had to make a trip down to see his uni mates. Now, there isn't much to do except visit Cadbury World but I managed to eat at two wonderful places.

The Plough at Harbone Village

This was recommended by the Gorilla's good friend who is also a chef. The food is pub food(like most of English cuisine-if you can even call it that) but my oh my, no greasy fry ups here! Its stunning, fresh and simply palatable. And I managed to grab a shot of the quirky and pretty toilets!!


The boys has some crazy, manly burger and I had a mushroom soup. That soup was fresh, creamy and nowhere near canned goods. To find out more about this delectable place, click here.

The Fallen Angel Bakery.
This, my friends, is a MECCA for cupcakes and cakes. YOU MUST, YOU MUST try this and get why people are crazy about Red Velvet, why cakes can be so addictive and why good baking is so rare but oh so life changing.


Here is their display:


And behold, a terribly English flavour made into a cupcake:


And I had to buy lots, 6 in a box for Gorilla's friend's family who was putting us up for the night, and one for me.


I had their Red Velvet and it was insane. Light, moist, fluffy, almost furry like velvet and the flavours was a complex and delicate mix of cocoa, buttermilk and then finished off with that indescribable tang of cream cheese and sweet that is creamy and yet surprising light. It really is Love at first bite. Heck, even I can't bake this well!
We headed back to Coventry for the wedding and it was such a pretty affair!
Here are some pictures:
 
The Wedding Car


The Bus that took us to the reception.

It was a very pretty affair and a gorgeous summer's day!

Next, we went off to SCOTLAND!!

SCOTLAND
Scotland is lovely, blustery and very, very beautiful. We were in Edinburgh with Gorilla's parents as Gorilla and his dad needed to make kilts for a wedding next year. That means I get to go UK again next year!

Some wonderful highlights:
A great place to stay is the Fountain Court Apartments. Its a service apartment, very clean, cosy and a stone throw's away from great sights to gastronomical outlets.
I didn't take a picture but here is a stock image and the link:





Here is their link: http://www.fountaincourtapartments.com/

The best part is, guests get discounts at selected restaurants.
We tried out Gusto's:
http://www.gustorestaurants.uk.com/
Again, I didn't take any photos as it was rude in their culture to do so.. AH well. But the food was fresh, light and you can taste the ingredients instead of just flavourings. I loved their tomato based sauces, you cna taste they made it from scratch with no added fake canned puree.

If you are ever in Scotland, you must do the following:
1) Visit Edinburgh Castle- Its stunning!
2) Eat Haggis and Black pudding - Its heart-stoppingly delicious and very stodgy.
3) Eat at the Witchery - a Five star dinning restaurant located near the castle, very exclusive and oh my, so darn good.http://www.thewitchery.com/ We went there for dinner one night and MAN, worth the rave!
4) Eat TABLET -Scotland's equivalent to Lake District's Fudge. Its much more sugary and less refined but very delicious!

Next, we went to my favourite part of uk, 
LAKE DISTRICT





This was the view from my hotel window! We stayed at the Old Mcdonald House ( http://www.macdonaldhotels.co.uk/our-hotels/macdonald-old-england-hotel-spa/) which had a wonderful gym and lovely view. Lake District is really known for its scenery and best for hiking, rowing and cream teas!

Its a shame that I never got a chance to do cream tea this time on my trip up to UK but in case you are wondering what Cream Tea is, its basically a meal that consists of a pot of tea, finger sandwiches and scones served with jam and clotted cream. The last time I was at Lake District, Gorilla and I found a wonderful place called The Giggling Goose. They make their clotted cream from scratch and serve the best cream better, better than those in Cornwall. You can view them here: http://www.findsomewhere.co.uk/HiddenPlacesLakeDistrictandCumbria/Cumbria/LDC42358.htm

And here is a parting shot of my favourite place:


Swans on the grass patch next to pavements. Do not be fooled by their sanguine demeanour. They are vicious and will peck you for whatever scrap you have in your hand.

So that was my UK Soujourn! Till next year!

XOXO
S.T

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