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.


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.


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!



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.


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.



Elf about the Christmas Markets!

We’ve been spending our time at Christmas markets working out which ones we think are the best.

Our three favourites in no particular order are:

Southbank Christmas Market

Little wooden German market huts stack up down the Southbank, there are all the usual stalls, jewellery, candles, sweets, bratwurst and mulled wine.  Its glory is in the wonderful setting.  The lights glint of the river and the whole area smells like cinnamon and sausage, which is a surprisingly wonderful mix of smells.  It is busy but it feels more spread out than a lot of the Christmas markets.  Lovely and quaint and also close to the Southbank food market round the back of the Royal Festival Hall, in case you fancy something other than bratwurst.

Winter Wonderland

The Christmas market that has popped straight out of an over excited child’s imagination.  This place is crazy, its busy, full, there are rides that you can buy tickets in advance for.  The beer hall is a must, but do expect to stand.  The food here is good, and has a much wider variety than you can expect at most Christmas markets…. but don’t expect to sit down…and do expect tantrums and ques.  Is it worth it…yes! Don’t be a Grinch give it a go.

Camden Christmas Market

We all love Camden Markets for the unusual and fun atmosphere, the Christmas markets here are just as quirky.  The mulled cider here is wonderful, this market has some of the normal Christmas stalls interspersed with the more unusual things, its only on a Thursday evening, so make sure you plan for this.  There is usually live music and its more of adult option for the Christmas market scene.

Birmingham Markets

Birmingham Christmas markets are the UK’s largest festive markets.  They fill up Victoria square and the surrounding streets.  The usual stalls a present and a huge variety of food stands and bars.

It’s easy to get to from Birmingham New Street station on foot.  Trains run regularly from London, they are quick and easy.  I would recommend booking in advance otherwise it can be a bit pricy.

We enjoyed the markets and sampled different types of mulled wine.  We had lots of options for food that are not always available at the traditional Christmas markets.  Between us we tried bratwurst, pies, fried potatoes, apple strudel and spiced cider as well as the mulled wine.  I took home some amazing donuts called Berliner which were delicious and come in so many amazing flavours.

The markets are child friendly but they are huge so I would anticipate some very tired legs!

We had a great time, I would recommend it as an adventure.  However, a lot of the stalls are similar to the ones you will find in your local Christmas market.

More information here

Christmas is coming!

We’ve come over all Christmassy!

So, we are at the Christmas Grand Sale at the Royal Horticultural society.  Close to St James’s Park it’s easy to get to, there are tickets available on the door or you can book in advance.  With over 60 stands with a huge variety amongst them.imag2217

There is everything from wreathes to Christmas lights.  Silk scarves to flashing woollen
hats for walking the dog in!

It’s a bit squished inside the hall but we make our way around and try olives and chutneys and pick up a few early Christmas gifts.  It’s a good place to pick up some designer shirts or jewellery at discounted prices.  We don’t actually spend all that much but just enjoy imag2220milling though the stands and only spend an hour or so.

A lovely morning to start the Christmas season we don’t feel like finishing there so we jump on the number 11 bus and ride down to Covent Garden.  The 11 bus is great if you want a nice trip past Westminster Abby, Houses of Parliament, Horse Guard’s Parade and Downing Street before passing Trafalgar Square and jump off at Southampton Street to make the short walk up to Covent Garden.  I very much recommend this route if you want to show of London to visitors or want a cheap way to see the highlights of London.

Covent Garden is very busy this time of year and the whole area is full of performers, but we wonder the stalls and enjoy the decorations before ducking down a side street for coffee and cake.

Elf in Luang Prabang

Luang Prabang or Lung Phabang is a city in the north central Laos it is actually made up of lots of surrounding towns and is a UNESCO city due to its beautiful and well preserved architecture as well as its religious and cultural heritage.

When you fly into this beautiful place the world seems to open up as you appear fly between the hills, mountains and soar over the Mekong.  Breath taking from the start.

We stay slightly outside of the main part of the town in a beautiful series of cabins around a series of ponds.  It is lovely. Most of the hotels and hostels have bikes for rental or that you can use for free, ours is no different and I would recommend this as the best and easiest way to get around Luang Phabang.  The main centre of town is set around four main roads and there are lots of little roads that lead off these. But it is very easy to find your way around even I manage with my terrible sense of direction.

The centre of Luang Phabang is dominated by mount Phou Si follow the stairs all the way up to the Wat Chom Si which is a lovely shrine.  Its small and delicate. The view is beautiful, the air is full of butterflies and there are green trees stretching out in front of us.

Theimag1278 markets are a great place to eat and you wind yourself into the lanes to a buffet style eating experience.  Most of this food is vegetarian and served cold.  The colours and smells of these food markets is …wow!  Defiantly and experience, not the best food of the trip I have to say, but the experience is much more than just the food.  It is wonderful we sit and chat with locals and tourists of all walks of life and it reminds me so acutely why I love to travel.

Luang Phabang is full of life and just brimming with wonder.  As I write this I realise there are so many things we need to share.

Another wonderful day was spent cycling around the Wats (temples) which I really recommend.  Luang Phabang has over 30 Wats so don’t try to see them all.  We set out with a map and a planned route but in the end, we ditched this and had a meandering cycle around the streets of Luang Phabang and stopped in and Wats that we saw when we felt like it.  The highlights were Wat Xieng Thong, which is the Golden wat and probably the most famous of the Wats, Wat Visoun Narath with its lovely and unusual roof and Wat That Luang which is home to a very large bronze Buddha.  Remember there is a strict etiquette policy, make sure you are dressed appropriately, shoulders and knees covered, take your shoes off before entering.

The people of Laos are lovely, Luang Phabang is a magical place with much to offer and to do.

Look out for our next post on our top things to do in Luang Phabang.


Elf at the Farmers’ Market

Brixton Farmers’ Market, has recently become its own organisation and is technically the Brixton Market Traders Federation.  The market runs on Sundays by the railway bridge.  It’s a small but perfectly formed market, the stalls vary slightly each week, but the general staples are butchers, cheese stalls, bakery goods, fresh vegetables and fruit, wonderful coffee and cakes.

We head down on a beautiful sun filled weekend and wonder amongst the stalls, picking up some wonderful looking quiches, pastries and sausages.  The stalls are an eclectic mix but all the stall holders know what they are talking about and everyone was happy to chat and enthusiastic about their produce.  This made me so happy.  Everything tastes better when you know where it has come from.

imag2144-1We sit outside at the craft beer bar.  The sun is shining, everyone is happy and chatting away in a wonderfully neighbourly way.  Everything is bright and shiny and somehow new.  The market small though it is, is wonderful.  This week there is a burrito stand that smells amazing a couple buy a massive, amazing looking burrito and stroll along munching together.

The craft beer is delish, we choose summery pale ales and enjoy watching the wold go by.

There was some talk recently that the market was going to close, I have to say I am so happy that the Federation was created and they have managed to bring it back.

If you want to get your hands on the magical lamb shanks sold at the Borstal stand you will positively have to be there at opening time.  But otherwise it was a lovely morning that stretched into the afternoon.

Head along and sample the deliciousness.