Category Archives: Travel

Jekyll Island Club

Jakyll Island Club frontage

Last weekend we snuck off to the Georgia coast for a little getaway on Jekyll Island. The island used to be an entirely private hunting grounds and site of the members-only Jekyll Island Club, which was once described as “the richest, the most exclusive, the most inaccessible club in the world.”

Notable members included the likes of J.P. Morgan, William Rockefeller, Vincent Astor, and Joseph Pulitzer.

The club has a sinister history as the clandestine meeting place of a group of New York bankers, who met here in secret in 1907 to create the Federal Reserve. But in the bright light of modern day, it is now an inviting and gorgeous coastal retreat.

Jakyll Island Club front

Jakyll Island Club Room

We sprang from bed and headed for breakfast in the Grand Dining Room, enjoying the beautiful grounds bathed in glorious morning sunshine.

Jakyll Island Club

Jakyll Island Club outside

Jakyll Island Club outside walk

Jakyll Island Club Breakfast

Jakyll Island Club Breakfast face

Jakyll Island Club Hotel Fire

Jakyll Island Club walk

Walking back after breakfast we passed several cottages on the island, which would have been luxurious winter homes for members of the club.

Jakyll Island Club chairs

Jakyll Island Club Cottage

Jakyll Island Club Cottage Garden

Jakyll Island Club Cottage front

Jakyll Island Club wicker rockers

Jakyll Island Club wicker rockers gaze

As Savannah is close by, we decided to pop in for a look around and a bit of lunch.

Savannah Steamboat Georgia Queen Kirks

Savannah Zos Tara Kirks

Savannah Collins Quarter_

Savannah Collins Quarter Mirror

Collins Quarter is a great little Savannah eatery on the corner of Bull Street and Oglethorpe Avenue. The menu has a distinctly Australian influence, and is an excellent choice for brunch!

Savannah Collins Quarter E

Savannah Collins Quarter Chai latte

The chai latte was exceptional! And so begins my new addiction to chai….

Savannah Collins Quarter Chai

Savannah Collins Quarter  E Zos

Savannah Collins Quarter Salmon

Poached Egg, House Cured Salmon, Potato Rosti, Cherry Tomatoes, Micro Herbs and House made Hollandaise served with Green Salad

Savannah Collins Quarter Avo Toast

Smashed Avocado served on Beaufort Artisan Bakery Toast with Feta, Heirloom Tomatoes, Micro Herbs, and Shaved Radishes topped with a Poached Egg

Savannah Collins Quarter Aussie Breakfast

Leo’s Aussie Brekkie: Chorizo Sausage, Savannah River Farms Bacon, Eggs, Sautéed Mushroom, Baked Beans & Grilled Tomato served with Beaufort Artisan Bakery Toast

Savannah Collins Quarter S tara

Jakyll Island Club Hotel Side

Back on Jekyll Island, we headed down to the “Rah” Bar on the riverside just as the sun was setting.

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar View

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar Sign

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar View Flowers

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar Paradise

It was such a peaceful setting for a drink and to appreciate the beauty of the waterfront.

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar S

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar E Zos

Jakyll Island Club Rah Bar Sky

What a delightful and relaxing weekend away enjoying the stunning scenery of the south!

Savannah

There are so many great road trips in the South. It seems like all we need to do is cover our eyes and pick and spot on the map. Ever since we moved down here, I’ve had Georgia on my mind. So this weekend we put the top down and headed for the border – to Savannah!

Savannah Wright Square

Savannah Scottish Rite Temple

Savannah Sqaure Statue

The first thing you’ll notice about Savannah is its design. It’s one of the greenest cities I’ve ever seen, thanks to its vast network of squares. Every few blocks you’ll come across one – vibrantly landscaped and draped in Spanish moss. These squares were once used for communal purposes – fetching water, baking bread, hosting celebrations, even a place to gather livestock.

Everywhere you look, it’s green!

Savannah Jasmine Arch

Savannah Horse Drawn Carriage

Savannah Barber

Savannah has so much American charm, it’s silly! A real effort has been made here to preserve some of the old way of life – like this barber shop, where you can still get a haircut and shoe shine.

This place is really famous for its antique shops. There are over 35 of them within walking distance, and we set off to explore a few of the best.

Savannah Everett and Cobb Antiques and Interiors Sign

Savannah Everett and Cobb Antiques and Interiors

Savannah Everett and Cobb Antiques and Interiors Display

Our favourite was Alex Raskin Antiques on Bull Street. It’s located within the gilded Italianate Noble Hardee Mansion. Overlooking Forsyth Square, it’s four stories of completely unrestored architecture. This building has not been touched in years, it creaks and groans and it’s covered in a thin veneer of dust, but the antiques covering the 12,000 square feet inside it are incredible!

Savannah Raskin Antiques Outside Exterior

Savannah Raskin Antiques Interior

Savannah Raskin Antiques Old Gilt Frames

Savannah Raskin Antiques Interior Hallway

I’ve never seen so many American and European antiques in one place.

Savannah Raskin Antiques Bits

Savannah Raskin Antiques Chests

Everything is for sale, even if there’s no price tag. Alex roams around the store and is on hand if you need a quote on anything. He has lived in Savannah most of his life, travelling the world going to estate sales and auctions, and filling this mansion with historic treasures. It was such a cool experience wandering all the rooms in here, tightly packed with wonderful finds.

Savannah Raskin Antiques Waring Painting

Savannah Raskin Antiques Old Vintage Black and White Portraits Victorian

After we had explored every nook of the building, it was time to hit the road back to Charleston. On our way out of town, we passed the Carolina Cider Company roadside stand. It was a nice excuse to stop and stretch our legs, plus check out all the local goods for sale. It was like walking into a Southern granny’s pantry – wall-to-wall jars of canned goods, jams, pickles, relishes, and cider.

Roadside Stand Carolina Cider Company Historic Country Store

Roadside Stand

Roadside Stand Carolina Cider Company Historic Country Store Wall of Jars

Roadside Stand Carolina Cider Company Historic Country Store Jars Grits

Roadside Stand Carolina Cider Company Cotton Wreath

They sold boiled peanuts, so I scooped a pot of the Cajun-flavoured ones. And then we set off into the low country.

Roadside Stand Carolina Cider Company Historic Country Store Boiled Peanuts

Tomotely Plantation Drive Mossy Oaks

We stopped just a while later outside of Beaufort, to see the Old Sheldon Church ruins. It was an old church built in the 1700s and burnt by the (you guessed it!) British during the Revolutionary War. It was rebuilt, only to be burned again during the Civil War. The ruins are ghostly, eerie – but so serene. It’s hard to describe.

Old Sheldon Church Ruins

Old Sheldon Church Ruins Front

Old Sheldon Church Ruins Spanish Moss

Old Sheldon Church Ruins Arch

Old Sheldon Church Ruins Sunny Moss

Old Sheldon Church Ruins Wall

We stayed here a while, enjoying the golden evening light and eating our boiled peanuts. Then we quietly walked back to the car, and hopped back on the country road home.

BBQ and Antiquing in Winchester, Virginia

Historic Winchester, Virginia has a rich past; from its origins as an early European settlement, it has endured through the French and Indian War, the American Revolutionary War, and the American Civil War – a lot of conflict for one tiny little town!

We rolled through on a sunny spring day and pulled in to check it out.

Winchester Virginia Old Town

Winchester Red Fire Truck

Winchester Historic Main Street

Winchester Virginia Town Hall

Winchester Union Bank Bar

The colors of the Union Jack flag caught our eye, and we couldn’t resist stopping for the familiar taste of a British ale.

Winchester Virginia Union Jack Pub

Winchester Virginia Union Bank Beers

Someone fulfilled a boyhood dream of owning a pair of authentic American cowboy boots…

I have to say, the western flair is hardly detectable under trousers (or, you know, Wranglers) and I’m not complaining about the extra height it gives a guy either!

Men's Cowboy Boots Brown Leather Stitching

Bonnie Blue is the local bakery and market and they do a mean Texas-style barbeque menu. We spotted it on the corner long after the scent of pulled pork and smoked brisket caught our noses. It’s a real American menu, bacon cheddar biscuits on the counter, and bottles of soda pop in the fridge!

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Lunch

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue BBQ Entrance

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Pig Door

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Menu

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Cheddar Bacon Biscuit

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Interior American Flag BBQ

We sampled the beef brisket, the crab cake and the pulled pork barbeque sandwich – piled up with sides all around – then sat outside on picnic table in the sun enjoying our vittles.

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Beef Brisket BBQ

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Crab Cake Cole Slaw Greens

Winchester Virginia Bonnie Blue Pulled Pork BBQ Sandwich

Dan's Antiques

We stopped a little way out of town in Augusta, West Virginia at Dan’s Antiques for a little roadside bargain hunting.

A big red barn of curiosities, we scoured the rows of dusty shelves, turning over old trinkets and browsing interesting antiques.

Dan's Antiques Finds Flag

I found a neat brass box with a nautical motif and a very cool old oyster can that I plan to put on the kitchen counter and store utensils in.

Dan's Antiques Brass Box Oyster Can

Dan's Antiques Oyster Can

Dan's Antiques Sitting Outside Porch

And so, the American road trip continues…

Eddie's Tires Berkeley Springs

Eddoe

And we’re loving every detail along the way!

Fallingwater

About a three-hour drive from Washington, DC in the rural foothills of Pennsylvania is American architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece, Fallingwater. It was recently voted the single most important building in the United States by the American Institute of Architects (AIA). It makes for a great field trip if you’re in the area; so with snacks for the road, we drove up to Bear Run for a tour.

Pennsylvania Barn Mail Pouch Tobacco

Fallingwater Snacks Cheetos

Fallingwater was designed in 1935 as a summer home for the Kaufmann family of Pittsburgh. The family had a successful department store in the city, and this was to be their wooded weekend retreat.

Fallingwater Drive

Fallingwater Side

The design of the house is a series of reinforced concrete terraces cantilevered out over the Bear Run river.

Fallingwater Pose Outside

From every room inside the house, you can hear the crashing waterfalls and feel as if you are part of the natural world around you. It’s the house that defined the philosophy of ‘organic architecture’ – a sense of harmony between nature and the built environment. The central living space inside Fallingwater is open and light, with the use of natural materials, including waxed river stones for the floor.

Fallingwater inside

Fallingwater Fireplace River Stones Boulder

Every room was filled with incredibly thoughtful architectural details. But sadly the organisation that runs the property, the Western Pennsylvania Conservancy, is letting the site fall into a state of appalling disrepair. I saw cracks in the plaster, mold growing on the terraces, and paper kitchen towel stuffed in cracks in the rock walls to plug water leaks. The conservancy is under-funded, inexperienced, and most probably mismanaged. It’s such a shame, because I imagine this property in the hands of the National Parks or Smithsonian where it could really be taken care of properly and wow its visitors even more! I hope this national treasure is around to inspire future generations and the next chapter of architecture students for years to come.

Fallingwater View

Fallingwater me

After leaving Fallingwater, we stopped for lunch at the historic Casselman Inn in Grantsville, Maryland. Operated by Pennsylvania Dutch and Amish owners, the restaurant is known for its selection of homemade breads, cakes, and pies. It’s also where I fell off the gluten-free wagon!

Casselman Sign

Casselman Inn Front Exterior

Casselton Dining Hours

Casselman Restaurant Table

Casselman Bread Basket

I resisted the yeasty sweetness of the warm, freshly baked bread. And I refused to give in to even a bite of Eddie’s honey-dipped fried chicken.

Casselman Fried Chicken Chips Fries

My fall from grace came at the hands of this monster iced maple cinnamon roll.

Casselman Maple Sticky Bun

I have never tasted such sweet, soft, maple-y perfection. And, for my figure’s sake, I hope I don’t for a long time to come! (It was so worth it though).

Casselman Maple Bun

Just around the corner from the inn is Castleman’s River Bridge, a historic national landmark. Its 80-foot span was the largest stone arch in America at the time it was built in 1813.

Castleman Bridge

Castlemans Bridge

I love driving though America and discovering little out-of-the-way spots with their own tiny history. Surely, there will be many more to come!

Walk This Way: Shaftesbury, Dorset

Following the end of the festive season, I needed nothing more than a quick escape from the city to unwind before starting the New Year afresh.

Loaded with refreshments and entertainment for the train journey, we departed Waterloo station and hurtled down to the lush pastoral lands of Dorset.

Train Journey Reading Drinks

We arrived in the picture-perfect hilltop town of Shaftesbury and checked in at The Grosvenor Hotel, formerly a busy Georgian coaching inn.

Shaftesbury Grovesnor Hotel Sofa

Grovesnor Hotel Lounge

Shaftesbury Grovesnor Hotel Dining Room

We had a perfect lunch of pizza, cooked while we watched in the brick wood-fired oven.

Grovesnor Hotel Pizza Counter

Grovesnor Hotel Pizza Room

Grovesnor Hotel Pizza Oven

Grovesnor Hotel Pizza in Oven

Grovesnor Hotel Pizza

After polishing off our pies, we took a walk around town, past the old 14th century church, down the scenic Park Walk, and to the summit of Gold Hill.

Gold Hill is famous for its striking views across Blackmore Vale and Cranbourne Chase. If you’re English, you might recognize it from Ridley Scott’s memorable commercial for Hovis bread.

Shatesbury Gold Hill Cover

Shaftesbury Gold Hill Morning

Shaftesbury Gold Hill Back View

Shaftesbury Gold Hill View Down

Shaftesbury Gold Hill Cottages

Park Walk is a wonderful, spacious promenade with serene southerly views across the Dorset countryside. From the viewpoint near the sundial you can see for twenty miles on a clear day. I strained my vision to see Dunclie Hill and Gillingham in the distance.

Shaftesbury Lovers Walk Countryside View

Shaftesbury Sundial

Shaftesbury Lover's Walk Downhill Path

Shaftesbury Town Wreath Door

We passed by the old Pump yard – a quaint reminder of Shaftesbury’s need to pump water from the wells in St James up the hill into town until a pipe network was laid in the mid-19th century.

Shaftesbury Pump Yard Gate

Shaftesbury Pump Yard

Our Shaftesbury walk looped us back to Gold Hill, and this time we heaved ourselves up the steep cobbled path.

Shaftesbury Gold Hill Walking Up

Shaftesbury Gold Hill Walking Up Swing

Shaftesbury Gold Hill Hanging Basket

Gold Hill Eddie

Huffing and puffing, we reached the summit and staggered back to the hotel just before dinnertime. We had an outstanding supper at the Grosvenor, arguably some of the best gnocchi ever…

Gnocchi, cavolo nero, chanterelles, parmesan cream

Gnocchi, cavolo nero, chanterelles, parmesan cream

Filet of hake, baby spinach, trumpets, capers and brown shrimp

Filet of hake, baby spinach, trumpets, capers and brown shrimp

Shaftesbury Grovesnor Olives

If you visit Shaftesbury, definitely pick up a complimentary copy of the Grosvenor Arms Walk booklet. It gives some excellent routes to help you explore this lovely historic town and surrounding countryside.

 

Roman Baths and Stonehenge

My parents are in town! Which is great because not only did I miss them, but now we get to explore around England together!

We set off for a day seeing Bath and Stonehenge, stopping along our route in the charming market town of Tetbury. Every Saturday, the 17th-century market hall comes alive, and I loved browsing the racks of vintage furs and rummaging through trays of antique jewellery.

Tebury Town Flag

Tetbury Flea Market England

Tetbury Market Fur

Above the market hall is a vendor selling a hearty selection of sheepskin and leather goods. We picked up two pairs of shearling gloves for £15! A terrific bargain for locally made products.

Tetbury Sheep Market Steps

Tetbury Sheep Market Skin Pelts

Tetbury Market Shearling Gloves

Tetbury Genuine Sheepskin Shearling Gloves

We piled back into the car and rambled through some beautiful countryside to the World Heritage city of Bath. Bath has special significance to me and my family because it is the sister city to my mother’s hometown of Berkeley Springs, West Virginia – also a historic resort town known for its natural springs.

Bath Abbey

Bath Abbey

Bath Cathedral

Our time in Bath was severely limited, so we made our primary stop the ancient Roman Baths. The ruins here date back to 60 AD when the city was a spa town called Aquae Sulis.

Bath Roman Baths Entrance

Bath Roman Baths View Down on Water

Bath Roman Baths Railing

Bath Roman View Cathedral

Bath Balcony Rail Roman Baths

Bath Roman Bust

The first Romans to come here were soldiers. Their architects and craftsmen built the Baths and Temple. Below is what remains of the temple front.

Bath Roman Baths Freize Temple Front Stone

Bath Roman Baths Sun Head God Freize Temple

People from local tribes, officials and priests, and traders from across the Empire began to settle here. Pilgrims travelled here. And monuments were built here.

This stone head probably decorated the tomb of a wealthy lady. Her hair-do was fashionable in Rome in the later 1st century AD.

This stone head probably decorated the tomb of a wealthy lady. Her hair-do was fashionable in Rome in the later 1st century AD.

Bath Roman Baths Source Waterfall

Bath Roman Baths Looking Up Inside Springs

Bath Roman Baths Surface of the Water Springs

Bath Roman View

Roman Baths Springs Private Area

Bath Roman Baths Sitting Springs

There was a fountain at the exit where we were able to taste the purified spring waters. It has a stinky sulphuric taste, but contains hundreds of times more minerals than your standard mineral water. I savoured a few sips, letting my body absorb the curative powers of the water. However, I won’t be giving up my Perrier anytime soon!

Our final stop for the day was the obligatory Stonehenge tour. It is, by far, one of the most moving sites on earth. I swear I can feel the energy in the air.

Stonehenge Visitor Centre

When I came two years ago, you could park your car right across the street from the stones, then cross through an underground tunnel to walk right up to the site. Now there’s a new visitor centre, and a shuttle bus ride one mile down the road.

But same as before, the experience once we reached the site was equally breathtaking.

Stonehenge Green Grass

As much as the little wheels in my brain churned away at the thought of it, these stones and how they got here, and the reason why, is frightfully unexplainable.

Stonehenge Up Clsoer

Stonehenge Up Close

Stonehenge Portrait Gloves

Stonehenge Portrait

Stonehenge Portrait Audio Guide

Stonehenge Sunset

We walked the circuit around Stonehenge, utterly mesmerizing from every angle, the landscape changing like a kaleidoscope around it. A true wonder of the world!

Weekend in Cornwall

This weekend we rashly packed a bag and made a break for the Cornish coast!

We arrived in the charming seaside village of Rock and checked in at the St Moritz Hotel. Surrounded by wispy tufts of beach grass, the blanched white Art Deco resort serenely overlooks the headland and Atlantic Ocean in the distance.

St Moritz Cornwall Hotel

St Moritz Cornwall

St Moritz Staircase Winding

St Moritz Staircase

St Moritz Bar

After enjoying a welcome drink in the bar, we whipped on our coats and set off down the hill toward the beach.

St Moritz Beach Cabanas

St Moritz Coastal Path Beach Sign

St Moritz Coastal Path

We followed the coastal path north towards the bay of Polzeath, looking down from the grassy bluffs on those enjoying the beaches at low tide below.

St Moritz Coastal Path Beach

Polzeath View

Polzeath View Grassy

St Moritz Coastal Path Windy Hair

St Moritz Coastal Path Lighthouse

Despite the constant winds battering the coast, this area of England remains resolutely green and brimming with the most delicate little flowers.

Polzeath Flowers

Polzeath Pink Flowers

Polzeath Path

When Polzeath came into sight up ahead, we could see the surf was dotted with hoards of people in their wetsuits hoping to catch a wave. From long boarders to boogie boarders, young and old, it was quite a surprise to see so many surfers braving the cold swells.

Polzeath Bay

Polzeath Bay Surfer

Polzeath Surfboards

Polzeath Surfside Beach View

Even though it’s October and you have to wrap up a bit, it still feels good to walk in the sand and find a cute little beachside cafe to pause for a bit.

Polzeath Surfside Peace Signs

Polzeath Surfside Portrait

Surfside is the coolest beach shack ever with a simple (but classic) menu of tasty surfer grub – every dish equally tempting. I mean, how am I supposed to choose between a lobster roll and lobster mac n’ cheese? It’s impossible! And that’s not even taking into consideration the crab sandwich with chili mayo!

Polzeath Surfside Open Sign

Polzeath Surfside Menu

So we ordered all three – passing the enamel dishes back and forth across the table for “just one more bite.”

Polzeath Surfside Lobster Roll

Polzeath Mac n Cheese

Polzeath Surfside Crab Sandwich

Polzeath Surfside Bite

Polzeath Surfside Table

Polzeath Surfside Orioles Hat

After lunch, we sat for a while watching sand-flecked children and shaggy coated doggies whir by in fits of giggles and tail-wagging. There’s something about the excitement of the beach, no matter the season, that makes you feel a bit like a kid again. So we rounded up our friends for a round of crazy golf.

Polzeath Crazy Golf Stroke

My swing was a little bit rusty but I felt like I’d just won the green jacket when I expertly sunk a hole in one!

Polzeath Crazy Golf Hole In One

Then a few holes on, my opponent battled back with one of his own!

Polzeath Crazy Golf Loopty Loop

Polzeath Crazy Golf Another Hole in One

We love a bit of friendly competition, but this time we actually didn’t keep score.

I think this once it was simply enough to have a cheerful playmate to walk the sandy path back home with after a fun-filled day at the beach.