Tag 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!

Fleurie, Charlottesville

Spending one night in Charlottesville, Virginia didn’t leave us much time to explore – so we headed straight downtown to check out the bustling pedestrian mall and see the sights before dinner.

Charlottesville downtown pedestrian mall

Charlottesville downtown founding fathers

Charlottesville chalk

Charlottesville City Hall had installed a huge chalk wall for the public to celebrate the First Amendment of the US Constitution. We took a moment to exercise our freedom of speech – or freedom to doodle!

Charlottesville chalk writing

Then we hit the shops! I was so happy to come across Caspari’s American outpost (the other is in Paris). I used to shop their products at Partridge’s in London – and this was my first visit to their bricks and mortar store.

Where interior design inspiration abounds!

Charlottesville Caspari store

Charlottesville Caspari dining

Charlottesville Caspari showroom

My little head was on a swivel – so many ways to beautify a home!

Charlottesville Caspari dining table setting

Charlottesville Caspari shelving

I had to stop and coo over these preppy dog accessories – and ponder the question ,“Exactly when will we ever get a puppy?”

Charlottesville Caspari dog accessories collars

As the shops shuttered up for the evening, we traipsed down to dinner at a little French bistro called Fleurie.

Charlottesville Fleurie entrance

Fleurie Charlottesville patio terrace outdoor al fresco dining

The perfect quiet little spot to dine al fresco in downtown Charlottesville!

Charlottesville Fleurie cheers drinks

Fleurie Sip Drink Cocktail Final

Chilled Tomato Soup with salmon rillette

Chilled Tomato Soup with salmon rillette

Lobster Bisque with tarragon

Lobster Bisque with tarragon

Gnocchi, Bleu d'Auvergne Fondue, sweet pecans, cherry tomatoes

Gnocchi, Bleu d’Auvergne Fondue, sweet pecans, cherry tomatoes

Herb Crusted Halibut, summer squashes, white wine sauce

Herb Crusted Halibut, summer squashes, white wine sauce

Wolf Creek Grass-fed Beef Sirloin, Gnocchi Parisienne, Leeks, Bordelaise

Wolf Creek Grass-fed Beef Sirloin, Gnocchi Parisienne, leeks, Bordelaise

I’ve been mostly steering clear of sugar and gluten this summer, but when I’m out at a nice restaurant all rules fly out the window.

Not one to be put off by an imminent sugar crash, it was time for dessert…

Vanilla Bean Créme Brulée

Vanilla Bean Créme Brulée

Peach Pithier, Raspherries, Vanilla Ice Cream

Peach Pithier, raspberries, vanilla ice cream

Petit Fours: Chocolate hazelnut truffles, Lemon meringue tarts, Cherry financiers

Petit Fours: Chocolate hazelnut truffles, Lemon meringue tarts, Cherry financiers

lemon_tart

Summer nights like these are the sweetest!

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!

Rock to Padstow

While visiting Cornwall, I heard of a nearby fish and chips shop (or “chippie” as the Brits like to say) that was not to be missed.

It’s in Padstow across the Camel River from Rock, linked by a ferry that shuttles back and forth all day. The St Moritz Hotel kindly provides car transfer to the ferry in their trusty (and logo-emblazoned) Land Rover, so we heaved ourselves up into the back and set off!

Rover

Rock Ferry Side

When we arrived in Rock, the ferry was just about to depart. We climbed aboard, paid the £4 return fare and enjoyed the views on the 10 minute journey across to Padstow Harbour.

Padstow Ferry

Padtow Ferry Boarding

Padstow Ferry Girls

Padstow Ferry Boys

Padstow Ferry Photo

Padstow Journey View

Padstow Ferry Sea Fury

Padstow Harbour

Padstow Doggies

Padstow is quaint little fishing village, full of charming shops and pubs.

In the harbour, we met some youth selling Remembrance Poppies for the Royal British Legion. The Poppy Appeal is annual fundraising drive in support of serving armed forces, veterans and their families. We all donned our poppies and wandered into town.

Padstow Poppy Appeal Transaction

Padstow Poppy Appeal

Padstow Phonebooth

Padstow Phonebooth Girls

Padstow Phonebooth B&W

Padstow Pasties

Padstow Pub

Padstow Alms House

Eventually, we wound our way around the other side of the harbour and found our destination – Rick Stein’s Fish & Chips. It turns out this guy, Rick, is a pretty big deal in Padstow. On practically every street in town there’s one of his cafes or bakeries or gift shops.

And we weren’t the only ones with an appetite for fish and chips. When we arrived 3 minutes after opening, the restaurant was already full with a 40-minute queue forming outside. So we opted for the takeaway counter instead.

Padstow Rick Steins Fish and Chips

We lined up and pondered our choices: battered cod, haddock, hake, plaice or lemon sole.

Decisions, decisions…

Padstow Rick Steins Fish and Chips To Go

Padstow Rick Steins Queing

We started with some battered oysters, served piping hot, with lemon and a spring of parsley.

Padstow Rick Stein Oysters

Crispy golden fritters with plump, milky-sweet oyster flesh inside – they were so shucking good!

Appetizer done, I was ready for my first ever taste of English fish and chips. This is was a big moment.

I have to say, I’m so glad I saved the experience for a place like this. Golly, it was worth the wait especially with a dash of salt and vinegar on the chips, and some homemade tartare sauce to dunk big chunks of the crispy battered cod in. The scenery was perfect – a beautiful Cornish day by the water, with guileful seagulls swooping above us.

Padstow Rick Stein Fish and Chips Bite

Padstow Rick Steins Fish and Chips Box

I can now see why Ricky boy is so popular in this town!

Padstow Rick Steins Box

I I seldom eat fried food, but this was more for the novelty factor than anything else. We nibbled for a bit, but it was impossible to eat the whole portion. Reluctantly we dumped what we couldn’t finish in the bins and moved towards the beach to find the ferry back.

Padstow Ferry Reurn Beach

Padstow Beachside

Another check off my UK bucketlist – and a wonderful day in Padstow!