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.

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Eat: Hong Kong

Soooo….this is a love hate post.  We embark on a walking food tour of Hong Kong.  The tour takes place on Kowloon side, we head to Temple Street Night market, which is the place to head to for street food in Hong Kong.

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There are many things that we experience on our couple of hours of food adventure.  I won’t tell you them all and will definitely keep some secret so you are as surprised as we were.

We did try the famous stinky tofu,  which I actually really enjoyed.  It has a very strong flavour and is deep fried, served with chilli sauce.  Also along the way we try some very unusual things…like snake soup….gluttonous…but not too unpleasant, though I was not super keen on the live snakes kept in the shop. 

Over the evening we tried over 15 different things.  Some good, some really not good (in my opinion), I would definitely still recommend the experience.

There are lots of options for food tours and lots of different ways to experience the Hong Kong street food, you can absolutely do this on  your own as well!

 

Make sure you try before you leave Hong Kong:

Stinky tofu
Bubble waffles
Dim sum
Pineapple bun (the one at the top with the slab of butter)
We enjoyed all the bakeries and baked yummy things, there are so many options.

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Enjoy!

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.

First Stop: Hervey Bay

First stop on our newest adventure is a return to familiar soil…it is Hervey Bay.

Hervey Bay is part of the Fraser Coast of Queensland, about three and half hours drive from Brisbane.  There are buses and the Tilt train, but the easiest option is to drive.

Hervey Bay is famous for Whale watching, I have done this in the past and would highly recommend, however, be aware that the season for this is August – October.  Other things to do are mainly the beach, relaxing, and eating!  Perfect. If you want great fish and chips head to Madagens.

Head over to Fraser Island to experience something unique.  You can catch the ferry of do a tour.  The Lakes are beautiful, the wildlife stunning and it is something you will not see any where else in the world… we skipped this, this time…too many school trips.

We recommend Bean Beat if you fancy a yummy coffee and also try Enzo’s on the Beach for a relaxed lunch.

nearly time

Hold on tight we are writing up a storm…lots of new travel and lifestyle articles are on the way! 

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!

Trim Castle

Its raining…its been raining…but it is Ireland so we get up and head off into the countryside.  We are heading to Trim Castle via some pretty places on the way.

We stop at Bective Abbey and watch birds dip in and out of its ruins.  It’s stark beauty is strange and desolate.

When we make it to Trim, we park up head for cover in the entrance of the castle.  It is 2 euros if you just want to wander in the grounds, or 5 euros if you want a guided tour of the keep as well.  Pay the 5 euros…it is so worth it.

The rain is really coming down, so I walk the perimeter of the grounds rather swiftly even so it is clear that the castle is very big and intact.  Our guide arrives and we head into the keep.  Our guide is wonderful, she invites us to use our imaginations to see how the castle would have been in the different periods of its existence.

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We work our way up spiral staircases and visit the chapel and walk among the history of the Castle.  Eventually we make our way to the very top and look our on the misty countryside and town of Trim.  I very very much recommend this stop on your tour of Ireland.

You might recognize the Castle from Braveheart! There are lots of photos at the entrance of the transformation for the movie.

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Also another fact…this is the largest Ango-Norman Castle in Ireland.

When we are done at the Castle we head into Drogheda.  Drogheda is one of the oldest towns in Ireland.  St. Peter’s Church is one of the famous sites of Drogheda,  the church is not very ornate inside, however it does have one unusual thing…a severed head.  Yes, a severed and preserved head.  St Oliver’s head to be exact.  The shrine is quite beautiful and the hand written confirmation of the authenticity of the head is very intriguing.

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If you are hungry in Drogheda I definitely recommend The Bare Food Company.  We had scones and coffee and they were so good!

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And that is about it for the Elf in Ireland.