Exploring The United Kingdom

1. London
We spend a total of 10 days in London and loved every moment. London is a buzzing city which is a result of the many theatres and cultural delights. Due to the many immigrants flocking to the UK for job opportunities, the city is an eclectic haven of foreign foods and experiences. We stayed with family friends just north of London who were ol’ pals of my grandparents in the 1950’s-1960’s. Fred and Wendy were excellent hosts, making sure we were adequately fed and looked after. England is for me is a home away from home. I have English blood so I guess that’s why I’m drawn to the quirky and eccentric place that we all love so dearly. Some highlights in London included catching up with Owen’s Oatley mates Lauren and Andrew, exploring the gastronomical delights of Brixton markets pop-up restaurants with Elise, Owen’s rather extravagant birthday including an overnight trip to watch a Champion’s League football match in Manchester, iceskating and exploring the Christmas markets in the Winter Wonderland at Hyde park and hiring bikes and riding around Hyde park at dusk.
Hyde Park, London
Big Bob, Bruce, Ken?!?
Owen ice-skating for his Birthday in Hyde Park
Staying with good friends Fred and Wendy
Eating out in London
Lunch: Kerbisher and Malt, Hammersmith
We had of the best cooked fish and chips we’ve ever tasted at Kerbisher and Malt – Fish and Chips at Hammersmith. We order battered Haddock with chips and mushy peas and it was simply delicious! One portion was big enough for two!
Dinner: Barrafina, Soho
Hands down one of our favourite meals during the trip was at the wonderful Spanish Tapas Bar called Barrafina in Soho. We went there for Owen’s birthday dinner and were blown away by the friendly service and high quality of food. We had to wait an hour to get a seat, but it was worth it. We were able to order drinks and nibblies while we waited, and we watched transfixed at the show behind the bar, the chefs in clear view working their magic. Each tapas dish we ordered was cooked to perfection and was a work of art. We highly recommend this restaurant to anyone who enjoys good quality food in a unique atmosphere at a reasonable price.
Coffee: Rapha CC, Piccadilly Circus
This little bike shop slash trendy coffee joint is the only place as far as I’m concerned that can successfully mix lycra and good taste. But seriously, this is a charming little place with great coffee and a warm atmosphere is conveniently located in the heart of Piccadilly Circus.
2. Somerset 
We ventured south on a train to stay with the family that I lived with as an au pair in France in 2009. I was eager to see the children and to witness their growth after 4 years. We met Louise and Robbie in Sherborne for a rather special occasion. Louise is a wonderful opera singer and we were invited to her sublime concert of songs by the sea. We drove with them to Crewkerne where we spent the next two weeks living with the family, helping them around the house and in the garden. We were also there for three family birthdays and I had the honour of baking all three birthday cakes. It was so special for me to be able to spend time with the children and to see that they had adapted so well into English life, after living and schooling in France for 5 years. Highlights included a trip to the seaside, antique shopping, village markets, two carols concerts, Owen testing out Sam’s birthday rifle and his spontaneous tour of a racing car factory with Robbie with cars worth over 250 000 pounds!
Heidi and Lily’s Birthday Celebrations
Nigella Lawson recipe: Chocolate and Raspberry Cream Cake
The beautiful Innes Family (Note: This photo was taken very early in the morning).
Seatown, near Crewkerne
Robbie painting on the beach
Beautiful Bath
Day trip to Bath with Willie, Heidi and Iona
3. Exeter
We had a quick day trip to Exeter to see my third cousin Cherry who is a kindred spirit and jolly good fun. Exeter is a beautiful little town in south England near the east coast. We had a lovely lunch at the quay with Cherry and her lovely daughter Jess. We spent the afternoon meandering through boutique shops and Christmas markets. Owen made a rather remarkable purchase of duck-egg-blue knitting needles, declaring he would knit himself a scarf.
The Quay, Exeter
Cherry and I walking along the Quay
Sparkling sunset, Exeter
Christmas Market, Exeter
Cherry, Owen and I
Owen playing around with the camera…
4. Edinburgh and the Scottish Highlands
We stayed with my au pair’s extended family, Wille, Heidi and little Iona in the outskirts of Edinburgh. They are a wonderfully generous pair and took us all around to see the sights and sounds of Edinburgh city and surrounding countryside. We were fortunate enough to be able to attend a Christmas concert organised by Heidi. It was a truly wonderful performance held in a chateau in Edinburgh with a string quartet and four opera singers (one of whom was our dear friend Heidi). We also spent some time exploring the gothic city and climbed Arthur’s seat for a spectacular view over city and sea. We found a free tour by the name of ‘Hairy Coo’ (said in the thick and rather cheeky Scottish brogue)…translation… ‘Hairy Cow’ tours. We had a simply smashing day being driven all over the Scottish highlands by a very mad Scotsman who made the trip terribly interesting with his far fetched stories and cheery disposition. We encountered various elements on this day trip including sunshine, snow and rain. A spot of Christmas shopping and time spent in yet another Christmas market made the festive cheer ring true.
Gothic Edinburgh
Christmas fair, Edinburgh
Climbing up Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh
Jumping on the springy grass!
View over Edinburgh
Owen, king of the mountain!
Staying with Wille, Heidi and Iona
Owen and Iona playing ‘peek-a-boo’!
Hairy Coo Tour, A Loch somewhere in the Scottish Highlands
A Hairy Coo
Wild wintery landscape… so beautiful!
Doune Castle from Monty Python and the Holy Grail
 Home sweet home…
We are now home safe and sound after 131 days of travelling. What a blessing my husband is and what a marvellous travel companion he has turned out to be! We had both high and low points during the time abroad, but we have learnt that together, with God, we can do anything!
I am looking at writing a book about our adventure with the blog entries, photos, travel trips and the myriad of recipes I have collected during the time through Asia, Europe and the UK. If you would like a copy, let me know so I can order one especially for you! I will continue to upload recipes and photos of the wondrous dishes I stumble across, so stay tuned! Until then…

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