Last month I was lucky enough to spend a few days in Barcelona, most of which was spent enjoying food…lots of food. Here are some dishes I had which I still can’t stop thinking about!
Bunyols de Vent
Bunyols de Vent is Catalan’s answer to the doughnut…and it was one answer I couldn’t get enough of! All the more special was the fact I’m not a fan of deep-fried desserts – be that doughnuts, Dutch olliebollen or Spanish churros – but these deep-fried delicacies filled with custard and fennel seeds did the impossible and converted me…well just a bit.
Calçotada and sangria at Vinitus
The evening we walked into Vinitus I had my doubts about the place as in the middle of a busy street and looked too hip for tapas. But everything was so delicious, from the veggie croquetas and various potato dishes to the fried mini peppers and everything else I could cram into my mouth. But most of all two things stood out for me: the roasted spring onion/leeks that gave my taste buds pure joy and their Sangria with its secret ingredient that I’m still trying to track down for my own tipples back home.
Cheese and baguettes from La Boqueta Market
This market was fill to the brim with things I wanted to chow down on and take home in the bucketloads, but my pick had to be the three cheese mix and baguette that made my sunny picnic complete.
Croquettes at Sagrades Tannines
As croquettes are traditionally made with pork they’re usually off limits to me, so I was super happy to see chicken and cheese versions at Sagradas Tannines that I finally could order. The place also did a raclette type of potato dish that had my mouth watering.
Patatas Bravas at Enkel
Now Enkel isn’t a traditional place and offers everything your hipster brunch place back home has, so feeling obligated to order something local I opted for their patatas bravas with green chili sauce and garlic mayo … and boy I was happy I did! They were without a doubt the best ones I had in Barcelona and possibly even the world!
What holiday meals and treats do you still dream about?
Stay at Locke Hotel in Edinburgh
Oh check me in already ! My visit to Edinburgh was way too short and I need to go back to check out Edinburgh Castle, visit a museum and walk up Arthur’s Seat. And I would honestly consider this place.
If I ever head towards Cornwall it would be for the Eden Project, but North Cornwall looks very cute and I wouldn’t mind visiting some of their coastal towns.
I do want to! There are castles, seaside towns and Jurassic Coast and they all look amazing, but I don’t have a car or even a licence so it looks like that’s one for maybe someday.
Another one of those ‘shires I did not know anything about. Though after Googling I do remember a few bloggers writing about their world famous pottery factory. It’s not on the top of my list, but if I ever head in that direction I’d love to check out the Lichfield Cathedral, Weston Park or Kinver Edge.
Aberdeenshire has a castle (and it’s pink!!). I think we have a theme here as it’s the third place with a castle/palace that’s trying to get me there. Also Huntly Castle is giving me urbex vibes and I would love to go there. I wouldn’t mind staying at the Fife Arms while heading out there.
Stay the Boardwalk Apartments
All great, but if I ever book another overnight stay in Brighton it would be at the Artist Residence again. If only for the fluffiest pancakes in the world for breakfast.
Wilderness Hotel Suffolk
A stay in a manor house? That has Tea written all over it. But I don’t think it can top staying in Hever Castle, so I might want to give this one a miss.
Go To Cromer
Surprisingly for me, I actually did know where Cromer was … well I had to guess it was in Norfolk as I regonised the pier on the photo from Alan Partridge: Alha Papa. And honestly? I would visit if it didn’t take 3 hours 45 minutes on the train each way.
I’d love to visit one of the UK’s islands. I always thought Isle of Wight was the go to place (there is the Garlic Farm, Antique Dolls Museum and Osborne House) but Jersey looks ok too. I mean if only to eat all the Jersey potatoes I could get my hands on.
Travel inspiration can come from all sorts of places, whether it’s a book, film/TV or your latest sponsored social media post. But one place you not think is from computer games. While I don’t tend to play them, I occasionally see watch them from afar and they surprisingly are quite the travel adverts. So in the spirit of my post on Travel Movies I Wish I Was Part Of, here’s my top picks which will get you booking holidays ASAP.
These Indiana Jones-inspired platform shooters feature some of the most desirable travel locations you can think of – the Himalayas, Borneo, Madagascar, the Amazon, Yemen and even London. The way the games tie actual historical facts and figures to the locations is one most impressive feats – and ties directly to the fascination of some travellers who love to explore the history of the place through its historic stories.
With countless games traversing the world, these history-based adventures take you from the Caribbean to Egypt and Ancient Rome, and many many more. The most recent games have also had ‘tourist’ style modes, allowing you explore without having to dodge arrows and swords, so at a much more leisurely pace, getting you read for your real-life adventure.
While this fantasy role playing game is set in an entirely fictional world, the inspirations the creators have taken in their level design more than give nods to real life locations that begged to be visited. The icy fjords and islands of Skellige could easily be Scandinavia, while Novigrad takes inspiration from Amsterdam and Gdansk, and Oxenfurt pays homage to the university city of Oxford.
Again, it may be an adventure series with dragons, magic and all kinds of fantasy malarkey, but the places you visit owe a hefty debt to bits of planet you can actually go and see. Skyrim is a bit of a mixed-bag, with inspirations taken from Norway, Wales, Northern Ireland and Switzerland to name but a few, while Oblivion has obvious nods to Western Europe and New Zealand (in a Peter Jackson, LOTR sense).
Grand Theft Auto
The GTA series is a rather vivid take on the USA, but despite the extreme cartoony violence and general ‘over-the-top’ themes, the remarkably realistic depictions of cities like New York (Liberty City), Los Angeles (San Andreas) and Miami (Vice City) are more than worth coming back to. The fact you can even explore the cities and beyond by air will get your travel imagination going ever more.
Apocalyptic game series might not be the ideal tourist advert, I mean who wants to be gouged to death by radiated zombies, mutants and horrifically large sized insects while sightseeing? But aside from that, these games give a picture-postcard take on most of the main landmarks you’d be hitting up on your travels. Fallout 3 is a reasonably decent take on Washington DC and its surrounds, while Fallout 4’s version of Boston and its surrounds is remarkably well done.
Red Dead Redemption
While you can’t take to your horse, kidnap bounties and engage in mass shootouts like you could back then, the cowboy GTA games do produce some of the loveliest North American landscapes and love letters to the everywhere from New Orleans to the Appalachians and Mexico. Definitely one to get your travel taste buds tingling.
While the photos I take on this blog aren’t always the best, I pride myself on at least trying a bit when I take them on my travels, especially when I bring my overpriced DSLR with me. But I wanted to get a real award-winning photographer’s opinion the best tips to get those “must-see shots” and give us an all a cheat sheet to maximize those likes…
Patience. Like A Lot of Patience
The key word for all photography is patience. If you have a preference for shots unblemished by bus loads of tourists, be ready to wait a long, long, long time for that tiny window of opportunity when everyone is suddenly gone and you can snap for 30 seconds if you’re lucky.
Timing Is Everything
One way to ensure a peaceful shoot is to set that alarm clock super early and get yourself there before everyone else. This can prove difficult when you can’t get your lazy ass out of bed or with places that only open at 09.00 or 10.00 am, but even then it’s better than waiting for the mid morning/afternoon rush.
Sun sun sun
If you’re shooting outside and want the best light I’d suggest the golden hour (after sunrise or before sunset) if you’re after those gorgeous filter-worthy hues or if not possible, then any day light hours avoiding midday when the sun will be at its highest and therefore harshest. If you are about in the midday rays then head for shaded places, the sun will still be there, but hopefully won’t blind you or make any people you’re shooting look too unflattering with heavy shadow overkill.
Take a lot of photos
Back in the olden days of analogue film you couldn’t afford to try lots of different approaches without having a hefty and expensive bag of film to hand. But today memory is cheap so take way more than you think you’ll need, it will ensure you can try different angles, zoom levels and most importantly, avoid any closed eyes from your subjects! Lots of shots does mean lots of processing so if you want to cut down on that, then scroll through and cut down the number of shots when you’re on the bus, train or plane.
While taking lots of shots will help with portraits too, it’s also important to have a good rapport with your subject and make them feel at ease if they’re a bit unsure in front of the camera – try a joke or just chat to them while shooting they’ll feel a lot more relaxed and appear more natural in the shots. If you’ve got extra time, try practising with a friend in advance so you’re aware of which angles and zooms work best for you. And if you are shooting portraits of people always make sure to ask for permission.
As someone who travels a bit there’s sometimes that nagging feeling in the back of your mind – “Did I lock the door properly when I left?!” Well, this got me thinking about the other ways you can secure your place when you’re away (beyond actually using a key!) which might help alleviate some stress. So here’s my top five…
Social Media – Don’t sell the fact that you are out and about
If you’re heading off for the envy-inducing 3-week trip to somewhere exotic, fight the urge to show off and don’t advertise it on social media, or at least ensure your posts are private and there’s no way anyone can find out your address online. If they can, there might be a disappointing surprise awaiting your return from the sunshine…
Leave Some Lights On – Use timers, or keep certain lights on.
I know it might be bad for the environment, but using a bit of lighting can help with illusion that you’re still home having the time of your life on your sofa, it’s just like your own Home Alone! Timers are also an intelligent option, but for a no-nonsense approach, just leaving the odd light on will probably be a decent alternative.
Garden – Make sure not to leave out any climbing equipment, or outdoor furniture that can be used to climb walls (bins, chairs, steps) in the garden
If you’re lucky enough to have a garden, be careful what you leave out. You might want to have a pre-vacay garden party to make all your friends jealous, but remember to tidy away the garden furniture, as that lovely chair, table or step-ladder could be fiendishly hijacked to invade your dwelling while you’re sunning yourself in lands far away.
Leave the House Safely – Check that windows are locked and that appliances are switched off
If you’re like me and have a tendency to leave the oven on, do a quick check before you leave to avoid any fiery consequences, and while you’re checking those things, confirm all your windows/doors are locked properly, and most importantly, actually closed. This is a bit of a thing for me, as my OCD kicks in and I tend to take snaps on my phone to prove I actually locked and turned off everything as sometimes my brain likes so pretend I haven’t!
Valuables – Leave them in a secured place and well away from windows
Pretty common sense one, but if you’ve got fancy laptops, cameras or game consoles, or have a habit of draping your finest jewellery about the place like royalty, keep it well hidden, or even better, secured in a discreet place, or even in a safe for that extra protection and peace of mind.
Secure Your House –Alarm systems and cameras
Last but definitely not least is the full-on sense of safety you get from the threat of loud alarm bells ringing and cameras to capture any naughtiness in your absence. In the good old days you used to be able to count on your kind neighbours to scare away any potential nastiness, but with hardly any of us even talking to the next door, especially in the big cities, it’s time for technology to come to the rescue. There’s even high-tech apps that can link your camera and security system to your phone, so you can sip on those cocktails while being your own security watchman.
What’s your number one thing that puts you at ease with your house security when you’re away?
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