Mowgli’s Wye Valley Adventure – Day 2

It is day two, after an amazing breakfast at our lovely BnB we are ready to head off.  We jump in the car and head off to Monmouth to have a little explore of the village, we walk to the river Wye, and visit the famous bridge, we do part of the tourist walk and see the Judges’ Lodging and old Market Street.

The weather starts to clear so we head to Usk Castle in Usk.  Usk Castle is privately owned and free to enter during the day, with donations requested.  It is dog friendly, so we wander around the remains,  it is quite beautiful with well tended gardens and lovely views.

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Usk Castle

Next we head to Tintern Abbey.  The ruins of the cistercian abbey are impressive and vast.  It is of course, dog friendly as long as your friend is on a lead and you make sure you pick up after them.  Its £6.90 for adults and free for dogs.  The ruins are well preserved with lots of information boards around the site.  The Abbey is one of the oldest tourist sites, and reported to be one of the first package holiday destinations.  More Information here.

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Tintern Abbey

We follow the Wye river path to the old mill and wander the art and craft shops before heading out of Tintern.

On recommendation we make our way to The Miners Arms in Lydney for dinner.  This plain looking local pub turns out to be one of the best meals we have had in a long time.  The coconut and pumpkin soup is amazing,  the pork belly is tender and all the food is locally produced.  This really is a great find!

 

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Mowgli’s Wye Valley Adventure – Day 1

It’s time for a weekend away, so we’re off to a BnB in the Wye Valley.  We decide to stay at a small BnB near the little village of St Briavels.  More information on the BnB here it is dog friendly so Mowgli is coming with us.

We drive from London and enjoy the winding drive to through the countryside.  On the way we stop at the Salutation Inn and enjoy their lunch time deal.  The Inn is a lovely snug spot with great food and a local selection of beers for those not driving and is dog friendly.

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The Salutation Inn

We arrive and check in at The Green Gables, then we head off on a walk to the village of St Briavels.  The Castle is in this little village is actually a Youth Hostel that you can stay in.  You can walk around the inside and there is a little guide at the desk which talks you through the history of the Castle and the grounds.  We wander around and enjoy the view.  The George pub (also a dog friendly pub) serves great food, the stroganoff was particularly yum.

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St Briavels

We walk back, Mowgli meets some sheep for the first time.

 

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Sheep

 

Lantau Island

We’re off is most famouon our final Hong Kong adventure to Lantau Island.  There are lots of ways to get to Lantau.  The cheapest is on the underground and bus. But, the most iconic transport is the cable car.  You can pay extra for a private cabin, or a cabin with a glass bottom.

Flying across the mountains, watching the forest go by is serenity tempered with by fear.  It really is an experience.

Lantau’s biggest attraction is the Big Buddha.  As you fly over the hills the Buddha appears between the lush trees.  Serenely sat atop the mountain, the Buddha  is 26m tall and bronze.  When you arrive at the terminal you will be in the created village, pass though this and follow the path to the steps to the Buddha.  There are 268 steps to the top.  You ascend these looking up a Buddha.  When you reach the top there are magnificent views of the surrounding areas.

Lantau Island is also home to Po Lin Monastery.  You are able to wander though the different areas of the temple and view the golden Buddhas within the temple.  The area is full of birds and the sound of water.

A lovely, calm day out.

Elf in St Albans

If you, like us, want to escape the city summer heat for the day, head to St Albans.  St Albans is only a short drive or train ride away from London and has a beautiful village feel to it.

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With a lovely Cathedral to admire and Roman ruins to discover there is actually quite a bit to see.  St Albans also has a lovely shopping area and great food on offer, one of the most famous eateries is the Waffle House.  Be prepared to que at the Waffle House on the weekend, but once you are in there are savoury and sweet options to choose from.  I go for the salted caramel with peacan nuts….ooooo it is yumo!

We walk off our waffles wandering though the Verulamium Park, named for the Roman city outside who’s walls St Albans is built.

Hong Kong

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The first decision when heading to Hong Kong is whether you are staying on the island or main land.  We opt for main land, because the hotel rooms are generally slightly bigger and slightly cheaper.  We decided on Butterfly on Pratt due to its easy location, it is on the main land.

First thing to know when  you arrive, is transport.  At the airport head to the information booth and get an Octopus card.  There are ordinary ones which you top up as normal and there are tourist Octopus cards, which include one or two airport line trips and two or three days of travel.  The card its self can be exchanged for 100 dollar deposit on leaving.  We opt for the three day tourist card and it is well worth the money.  The transport system is great, easy to use and very well organised.

We arrive late on our first day and head into Kowloon on the airport train, then make the terrible mistake of thinking that we would be able to walk the short distance from the station rather than try to navigate further trains. Don’t do this.  It is not a good idea!  Eventually we admit defeat and follow the signs to the transfer bus.  This is a free service that runs frequently all days of the week to the big hotels…much better idea.

imag3856-1.jpgWe spend our first morning an a free walking tour (our fav!) of Hong Kong Island.  This is a great tour with lots of interesting information about politics and the current situation in Hong Kong.  I definitely recommend this as a great starting point for your trip.

This same group offer a “jump the cue tour” for the Victoria Peak Tram.  We take advantage of this, and again I would recommend this, simply because it cut about an hour standing in the sun in a line.  The Tram is great, really is something to experience.  We then spend almost two hours walking around Victoria Peak enjoying the views, the countryside and the wildlife.  There are amazing birds of prey and wild pigs rootling around.  This is not what you would expect from Hong Kong…its cool and calm and blissful.

So ends our first foray into Hong Kong.  Bring on the rest of the trip!

More information on the Free Walking Tours

Third Stop: Townsville

Our third and final stop in Australia for this trip is Townsville.  It is actually the only Australian stop that we haven’t been to before.

Townsville is in north east Queensland and is humid and tropical.  We have the privilege of arriving after the rain so it is looking lovely and green and postcard worthy.  The old second of town and strand area is particularly pretty and worth a drive or walk around.

We visit the Palmetum is one of the three botanical gardens in Townsville and is lovely, we spend over an hour wandering around.

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Castle Hill is another great spot, head to the top for a great view.  If you are fit, try running or walking the trail path.

However, our most favourite spot (aside from the hammock) is Little Crystal Creek Waterfalls.  It is a located along Mount Spec Road between Mutarnee and Paluma and it is stunning.  Crystal clear water and wonderful landscape.  There are BBQ facilities and picnic tables, bathrooms and so on and next time we are definitely taking a picnic.  It is a great spot and our highlight.

 

Elf’s Tip: If you like curry stop at Aalishan’s Indian Restaurant, the food is really fresh and yummy.

Goals

We are looking at the blank slate that is 2018 and making some plans and brainstorming some ideas for the year to come.

We’ve booked in a trip to Australia and to Hong Kong and are raring for that one.  We are making plans for a trip to Wales and possibly back to Edinburgh.

Also on the cards is a British Sign language course or many a French Class.  We are definitely signing up for a cooking course and have an adventure in Covent Garden planned.

But….we are on the look out for inspiration, what should we do?  Where should we go?  What are your favorites?

Making plans is full of excitement!