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Krakow Calling

Krakow

In 2013, we and a group of friends decided to take advantage of cheap flights to Krakow and visit it over an extended weekend.

It was a great decision. Krakow is simply a stunning city which still retains its ancient identity. The main town square of 10 square acres is the largest in any of Europe’s medieval cities. It’s great to just wander around and have a coffee in 1 of the many cafes or explore the market in the middle.

Krakow, Poland

Fire Breathing Dragon, on the river bank

Another favourite activity is free to walk around the city wall – it’s free, too! You can visit the castle overlooking the river and with a fire breathing dragon on the shore, why wouldn’t you? Yes, that’s right, it actually breathes fire for free.

Where we stayed
We stayed 4 nights at the Radisson Blu Hotel near the centre of town on the 4th floor facing into the courtyard.
Our taxi from the airport cost us 85 ZLTP for 4 people.
Our room was fine aside from some minor points. It has a comfortable bed, warm shower, but the pressure is a bit low for me. My wife would have preferred a bath, if you want that avoid room 422.
Weird lighting problem in the hallway – if you turned off the bedside light the hall light came on and vice versa. After 2 days of trying to get it fixed, the management gave up and just took out the bulb in the hallway!
Rooms do get warm but you can always turn off the heating or open the window.
We chose not to have breakfast at the hotel, it was expensive and within a few minutes walk you are spoilt for choice at a 3rd of the price.
Staff are excellent and service in the bar is great.
I enjoyed our stay and would stay at the hotel again.
What to do around the hotel…
There is so much to do in and around Krakow. The food and drink is excellent, plus it’s quite reasonably priced. I would, also, suggest seeing some live music – they are excellent musicians!
It’s around a 5-10 minute walk to either the castle or square. There is a park outside the front of the hotel which follows around the centre of the city and back again. It’s a lovely walk and takes about an hour but expect longer if you stop to look at the sights such as the fire breathing dragon outside the castle.

Visit the castle, walk around the old city wall, the nearby salt mines and the depressing Auschwitz.

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Burgh Island – Jewel of Devon

This is a special birthday year, so I decided I’d tick something off my bucket list of places to go – Burgh Island.

As you’ve seen from my previous 2 posts on Torquay (check them out here 1 & 2), I’m a big fan of Devon & Agatha Christie. I just keep coming back. We did stay in Torquay a few days on this trip, but the focus was on Burgh Island. I’ll be posting another blog about what we saw in the areas surrounding Torquay and our recent stay there at a later date.

Burgh Island

Devon

Beautiful place to stay on the Devon coast

It was absolutely pouring rain when we arrived and our few days weren’t promised much better weather – always a risk in late April, but….

Best gifts on birthdays are the ones given to you, but you can’t hold them, instead you enjoy the moment. Like when a butterfly lands on you – can’t hold them or they will die if you disturb the colours on their back, but it’s such an amazing thing when they do land on you.

My gift was the 1 full day we were on the island the weather was perfect – stunningly beautiful! It even started to clear on the day we arrived. Plus, the room I booked – the Cunard Room was stunning! We had the most grand bathroom and balcony with a gorgeous view of the sun rise in the morning.

Our 1st night we explored the beautiful Art Deco Hotel – a favourite style of mine. No TV or Wifi in the rooms(except in the lobby/lounge area), but a beautiful Bush retro radio in the 1930’s style. It all set me back in time because this hotel is all about ambience.

We napped and read our books while enjoying stunning views of the rain from our huge balcony. The bathroom, alone, is stellar. Apples and chocolates were waiting in our room.

There is a turn down service before bed and tea/coffee brought to your room before breakfast. A real pampering!

Dinner

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Pulling Out all the Stops!

Dinner is a black tie affair with cocktails in the bar before. I tried my 1st Tom Collins – delicious! Such a great night to kick off our stay.

Our 2nd night included black tie with a trio playing songs from the 30’s with the sun set streaming into the dinning room.

The food is delicious. Dinner is a 3 course event and breakfast has choice of cooked or buffet. Dinner and breakfast are included in the price of your room. Drinks and lunch are extra.

The island isn’t huge, but offers stunning views of the Devon coast. It has it’s own sea feed pool, which you can swim in and there’s a great stroll around it to feel the sea breezes.

Sea Tractor

Burgh Island Hotel, Devon

Sea Tractor

The sea tractor is a great way to get across when the tide is too high to walk or drive across. The hotel has parking on the main land, so you don’t need it on the island.

Oh and for those of you with a helicopter, there is a pad for you to park that on the island. One of our guests was held over the 1st night we arrived, due to the poor visibility, but flew off the next morning – very nice indeed!

Make sure you look at tidal movements to see when the sea tractor might be going over and check with the hotel to ensure it’s up and running, as it can breakdown.

Pilchard Inn

Devon

Pilchard Inn

There is a pub by the hotel, Pilchard Inn, if you want a more relaxed drink or baguette at lunch.

On Fridays, they have curry night, but you need to book ahead, as it’s very popular with the locals.

We were lucky enough to have a chat with the ex-landlord who lives locally. He told us some great stories about his time managing the pub – there’s a pirate face in the fireplace (can you find it?), dog window seat, and there’s a ghost who throws toilet paper around the pub at night after it’s shut. It just wouldn’t be a pub with out it’s resident pirate ghost!

There’s, also, a place in the pub which is for guests only.

You can purchase on book on the hotels history in a nearby village – still have yet to read it, but might need a trip back?!

I just loved my stay here – there’s a spa, snooker table, table tennis, TV room/library, puzzles or you can just sit back and enjoy the views with a good book.

Magical Place

Gary McBar makes the best cocktails I’ve had in a long time.

I bought 1 of the gorgeous wooden puzzles which are not what you expect in a typical puzzle and loved my postcard which I duly sent off to a friend who is also a lover of Agatha.

So, what’s the Agatha Christie connection, well she wrote and set Evil Under the Sun there, as well as stories.

At the time of writing this article there was a change over to new ownership, I do hope they don’t destroy the wonderful atmosphere of what I experienced, it truly lived up to all my expectations and more!

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Yoga and Wellness Retreats in Brighton

Yoga and Wellness Retreats in Brighton

Not surprising, but it’s the lady of the website who is the specialist in this area.

So, I’m going to share some of the wonderful places I’ve discovered in and around Brighton and Hove, actually to help you stretch and relax!

In no particular order…

1. The Float Spa – doesn’t just offer you the unique experience to go into a dark, damp, pod, so float, but has excellent yoga classes. I’m a member, so I love it there and I’ve tried the floating and it was a very unique and tranquil experience. Just think of that womb feeling and you might get close.

the Salt Space in Hove

2. The Salt Space– this is just as it says, it helps people with all sorts of respiratory problems. I go there when I can for the yoga and breathing – it’s brilliant! (Oh and yes, that is me with my hand on my head in the photo)

3. Hot Yoga – I found this very hot place just outside of Hove, but it’s got small classes and very knowledgeable teachers. You can also do aerial yoga. Into a bit of flying with your yoga? Then this is the place for you!

4. Chris Dance Acupuncture – I’ve been seeing Chris for years and he keeps me well in balance and is a great advisor on all things healthy.

5. Tree of Life Centre – offers everything you could possibly image and with the most wonderful staff. I particularly recommend – Lucy for Cranial Osteo therapy and Martina for massage.

6. Spa Tara – brilliant experience if you really want to pamper and get a good massage.

7. Brighton Metropole Health Club – very nice club with an excellent pool, all of which is open to the public. You don’t have to be a guest to go there.

8. Brighton Bikes – this 1 I’m quite proud of as I was part of their launch both in Brighton Pride (featured photo shows me from the Guardian newspaper) and for their launch party on the seafront. Just love these new bikes and they are a great and easy way to get round the city.

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Torquay Take 2 – Murder, Mayhem and Christie on the English Riviera

I know I’ve said this before, but I love Agatha Christie! I’m currently reading through all the books she wrote.

This last September found me back in Torquay – summer home of Agatha and back at the much expanded festival for her.

This is Take 2…

as I went many years ago and you can read about Take 1 here.

This time was very different from the start!

The festival was jammed with events – my favourites were the talks on her and her work by experts.

Agatha Christie Festival

I went with a friend who is also an Agatha fan, plus, my new puppy – Blossom. Sadly, the festival isn’t dog friendly – something I think Agatha see as a poor reflection on Agatha – she loved dogs!

So, it did prove challenging to get to events and look after my dog. Venues are all over the town, so just getting to eat, let alone look after the dog was hard. Still I loved it and having her along, what great fun. I did managed to bring her to a few things and no one batted an eye – Blossom is a very well behaved small chihuahua. You’d have to really be looking for her to know she is there. She managed to keep up with us on a few walks.

Blossom’s 1st experience with salt water at Greenway!

Place to Stay

We, also, found an air bnb which was a great location for the venues and was dog friendly.

Need a Car

You definitely want to stay close to the city centre, as I mentioned the events are needing a car to get to them due to how tight the schedule is. We heard from those staying out a bit further, it was extremely difficult for them. Draw back of having to drive everywhere is you also have to pay for parking everywhere, so be prepared that if you want to make it to as many of the Agatha centred events, you need a car and lots of spare change for the parking meters.

Grand Tour

Free book and champagne breakfast as part of Grand Tour ticket at the Grand Hotel

We bought the ‘Grand Tour’ tickets which included some brilliant extras and meant we didn’t have to fuss around with making sure our passes let us in – this covered everything with a few nice extras! Plus, if you did need to sign up, you could do it before everyone else, so we didn’t miss out on anything we wanted to see or do.

Would I do it again?

At the end, I was pleasantly exhausted, enchanted and all the more knowledgeable about this lady of crime. Did you know she was the 1st female surfer?!

I loved it and plans are afoot to go again.

Even Poirot managed to make it along!

Next Plans

I didn’t see much of Torquay or the surrounding area or get to stay at Burgh Island – a secret dream of mine. Plans are in the making of making that dream come true and I’ll share all about it once it’s happened, in the mean time, you can find out more about the city from my 1st blog on Torquay by clicking here.

If you are a fan like I am, I would highly recommend going to the festival, getting the Grand Tour tickets and avoiding all the ‘extras’ events that having nothing to do with Agatha herself. They have expanded the festival to include events which are loosely themed around Agatha, but I didn’t find them at all of interest or helpful to expanding my knowledge of her, which is why I go.

Have you ever been to the English Riviera? Where would you recommend going? Share below!

P.S.: Just wanted to add, upon reading 1 of Agatha’s books, I came across an article from the 70’s about Burgh Island – I love it when life gives you these little moments – I think Agatha made a life time of writing by knowing how to monopolize such situations!

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Top 5 Dream Destinations of Every Traveler in India

We have our 1st Guest Author Yashika Bhatia – who lives in India and has written this blog for ‘Bridge the Travel Gap’ Edited by Debbie Bridge

India is not only a vast country but also a beautiful land to visit. The great traditional heritage monuments are the representatives of India’s rich culture which fascinates people to come down from across the globe to visit this incredible land.

The essence of unity in diversity can be felt in all the traveling destinations of India since it’s a combination of various castes, religions, languages and customs. Yet the beauty and charm of India is indescribable in words one should witness the mesmerizing places to be cherished forever. Travelers from different regions come to explore India’s Best Destinations and take away the enormously unforgettable memories of the beautiful land.

As India is a land that offers a plethora of things to explore, there are few destinations which offer better opportunities for the Dream Destination of every Traveler.

Presenting the Top 5 Dream Destinations of Every Traveler in India: 

AGRA

Taj Mahal Photo supplied by Yashika Bhatia Taken by Sandee Pachetan Travel

In Agra people can feel the essence of Love. The TAJ MAHAL is one of the major reasons for tourism in Agra. It’s the symbol of love made by the great Emperor Shahjahan. While the Taj Mahal is also regarded as one of the Seven Wonders of the World its beauty and marvelous creation makes it one of the major attractions of the country.

Houseboat Photo supplied by Yashika Bhatia Taken by Yugantarora

KERALA

Kerala is the southern region of India known for its great culture and natural beauty. The flow of rivers and the mind blowing landscapes fascinate the heart and rejuvenate the soul. One of the major reasons for people to visit Kerala is natural richness of the coconut trees, backwaters and the marvelous waterfalls.

RAJASTHAN

Amber Fort photo supplied by Yashika Bhatia Taken by Ricardo Fernandez

Rajasthan is known for its royal heritage, rich culture, forts and the hospitality. It connects the travelers with the history of India. The heritage attracts the hearts of not only domestic but also international travelers. The cities like Udaipur, Jaipur, Jaisalmer and Jodhpur are the most desirable places to visit.

River in Shimla Photo supplied by Yashika Bhatia Taken by Rajiv Sharma

HIMACHAL PRADESH

Who doesn’t want to travel India’s most beautiful and adventurous place where hills attract the hearts and valleys steal them, where rock climbing, mountain biking, ice skating wouldn’t let you forget the place. Shimla, Dharamshala, Manali, Kasuali are some of the most beautiful and mesmerizing places to visit in Himachal Pradesh.

LEH LADAKH

Spituk Monastery Photo supplied by Yashika Bhatia Taken by Amit Rawat

Ladakh is one of the coldest and beautiful northern regions in the state of Jammu and Kashmir which fascinates the eyes of every travel lover. The mesmerizing high mountains and curvy roads covered with ice make the place captivating. The farms in Ladakh enhance its beauty and natural charm.

So now you know what the destinations of that the Indian people dream are about. But I should definitely not recommend you to dream about it but rather explore it yourself in your Tour to India with the perfect Dream Destinations of every Travelers. See Ya!

If you would like to guest write for Bridge the Travel Gap about your part of the world, please contact us here!

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Lost in Beijing

Beijing

Roof of Temple, Beijing

OK, I admit it – I wasn’t prepared enough for Beijing, China. I’ve been to lots of places where I don’t speak or read the language – great travel adventures. One such event was where I drove or tried to read in Czeck where all the signs use diacritic lettering. I remember it was really hard at the time. Even then, I managed to start to see the patterns and find my way.

My 1st Day here – not going well!

 

China – nope – no hope and no one speaks anything remotely Latin/European in origin. I’ve no idea what they are saying – all I’ve got is body language.

Plus, there’s so much here that doesn’t look or feel 3rd worldish. Firstly the prices – a lot costs as it would in the UK or more! What’s the point for us, so called, 1st worlders who want to find a bargain? Why come here to buy anything? So I’m not sure I’ll bring a single souvenir home. I can buy a lot of them back in the UK – cheaper.

Pollution – never a big fan of it. I was really looking forward to seeing all the bikes, but where there were bikes there now seems to be cars. One note: both bikes and cars are pretty modern – better than what I see people driving in, so called, 1st world places.

I wish the Chinese were better than us Westerners in this, but it runs akin to the argument we are all the same, but in this case – not in a good way.

My husband tells me in 10 years time or less the city will be cleaned up – I hope so. It deserves it, just for it’s historical significance and for the millions of lives who will live a shorter life due to the poor air quality.

I read in a magazine that Beijing sits at 58 as the worst polluted city in the world – what are we doing to ourselves? Or better question – how do we stop doing this and still enjoy life?

1st Day on my Own

My 1st day on my own was great. Hubby had suggested something close and easy to find, but as the day went on. I soon became quite grumpy. There was little to no clarity how to find places without a tour, a guide or fluent mandarin. I wasn’t keen on any of these, as I like to be able to walk in a city or, at least parts, and just get around.

Beijing is a safe city. I never felt threatened or that I might get mugged at any minute. So, that is great! That made me want to find some way around even more! There are cities out that this isn’t the case – Miami, Florida being 1, but that’s another story!

I thought I was sunk, so I shared my woes with hubby, who just called me a chicken. Needless to say that wasn’t what I was hoping for or needing.

It did get me thinking, plus he said the main sites weren’t as difficult to find as where I had been this day. There are big brown signs that do point you in the general direction. I determined that I would try and push past my fear of dis-orientation and fear of not reaching my destination. I’m willing to try and accept I may fail the 1st time, but try again.

Where I went on Day 1

What have I seen so far? The Drum and Bell Towers – go early – 9:30am to watch the drums being played and buy the combo ticket as you get good views from the bell tower.

Debbie in front of the Drum Tower

This is in the Hutongs – great place to eat, find cafes and observe Chinese city life, esp. around the Lakes. In the evening lovely to stroll around the lakes.

I’ve been to the Beihau Park – very nice walk and mainly Chinese go their to just enjoy life locally.

You can hire boats to go on the lakes. The hotel where we stayed is in a great area to be based from, as it’s so nice to just walk around and there are lots of shops to pop into and enjoy.

My experiences of Beijing just got better from here, but I wanted to write this anyway to encourage others who may be like me and newbies to Beijing. There is a way through, it just isn’t like many other places I’ve been. If you are in Beijing for a few days then use the metro it is brilliant and easy to use and navigate. Plus, my hubby has been to Beijing several times and still hadn’t got 1 of their cards to travel on, they are very easy to get, so ha! Hubby, I’m not such a chicken after all!

Given the traffic jams it also is a great way to save time and get around relatively quickly. Just avoid rush hour!

Share your stories and secrets of Beijing below! We’d love to hear them!

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Tian-Jin Temple – An Oasis in Burnaby

As per usual whenever I go someplace I try to find something off the beaten track. Especially when I know the place I’m in well.  As I come from Vancouver, I did some searching while I was staying in Burnaby (1 of the suburbs of the city). I found a nice little treasure in the Tian-Jin Temple.

It was a cool and slightly drizzly afternoon, but definitely worth the chance to learn something new about the area.

In 2012, it became a Taoist Temple that took over a church space and turned it into a beautiful place open to all and very tranquil. There is even a lovely garden which they have built around the structure. It is the only Kuan Kung temple in Canada.

Mural on Main Alter

The main altar mural is set in the old alcove of the church. It was painted in 2 weeks and it shows the sun, moon and stars with the Polaris star right in the heart of it. There is a lot of symbolism in the temple, it doesn’t seem like there is a space which doesn’t represent something or someone or sometime in their calendar year. Best to pick up 1 of their brochures which explains everything or ask anyone who is there.

I managed to go on a special talk which was organised through the local Burnaby library, but you can visit anytime and even sit in on their services. Their doors are open to all. A key part of what the temple does is to support the local community with various charity, events and out reach to help those in need in and around them.

It really is a special place and they are so friendly and welcoming, it’s worth a visit to understand this form of Toaism and to see how wonderfully multi-cultural Vancouver is.

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A Visit to the Brighton Royal Pavilion

A Visit to the Brighton Royal Pavilion

If it is your first visit to Brighton then a visit to the Royal Pavilion is well worth the effort. It is in the centre of Brighton and one of Brighton’s iconic landmarks. The Palace is also the only one owned outside the Royal Family. Built in the 1800s as a vacation retreat for the then Prince Regent and later George IV. Once it was built it put Brighton on the map as before that it was just another seaside fishing village.

The History of the Royal Pavilion

Prior to the Royal Pavilion the Prince Regent had a small residence in Brighton. He decided to build something a little bit grander and so John Nash, was commissioned by George IV, to build the Royal Brighton Pavilion. It was completed in 1823 with its domes, minarets and towers.  The Pavilion is unique with its combination of Chinese, Turkish and Eastern influences.

The Brighton Pavillion or a mad kings dream

The Brighton Pavilion or a mad kings dream

George IV was a man who liked the good things in life: food, entertaining, horse riding and collecting art/furniture from France, China and India, so throughout the Pavilion, in different rooms, are a treasure trove of different collections. Photography is banned inside the Pavilion.

How much does it cost to visit?

The Brighton and Hove Council own the Royal Pavilion and set the entry prices. An adult ticket cost £12.30 and if you book online with the link above you can save 10%. Other prices are listed below:

Admission charges Royal Pavilion

Adult £12.30
Child (5-15) £6.90

Family tickets
2 adults with up to 2 children £31.50
1 adult with up to 2 children £19.20

Concessions (ID required)
Seniors (60 or over) £10.50
Students £10.50
Unemployed £10.50
Disabled £10.50 (accompanying carer Free)
Brighton & Hove Residents £6.15

You can also hire for £2 an audio guide or download it for free on your mobile.

What to see at the Pavilion?

One sad thing about visiting the Pavilion is your not allowed to take photos inside. In order for the shop to sell exorbitantly priced postcards, prints and the ubitiquous teatowels. I would allow an hour or so to visit the Pavilion depending on your interest in history.

Top Tip

If you can go early in the morning as it can get busy especially around the holidays.

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Vancouver – 1 Week, 4 Cities, Cribbage and Costco

I’ve landed back in my home town of Greater Vancouver.  It’s been a good 3 years since I’ve spent much time here, but I’m here for 6 months.

Why?

So, why I’m in Vancouver – because I hope to work towards working internationally. I’m taking advantage of having an agent in Vancouver and coming back to build that up better by being in situ.

As a result, I wanted to write about my 1st week, as it’s been just brilliant for all the small encounters.

Westjet – OK this part isn’t so brilliant…

Firstly, I arrive in Kelowna, well, Calgary, but then went straight onto Kelowna.  I wanted to try out the new connection between Westjet London and Vancouver, sadly, that part wasn’t so great.

I didn’t like having to pay for every little thing.  For me, I find I’m more tolerable about this on short halls than long halls. On long hauls, well, I am going to get hungry and thirsty.  I just don’t like the constant sorting of money or having a tab.  Pay up front. Which is what I chose to do, but even this could not be done until 48 hours before the flight.

In the last 48 hrs

I was not able to book my luggage until 24hrs before flight. Also, my seat and then at some point in this 24 hour period finding out I needed to have my own device to watch films on. Then, I had to set up an app to be able to use it on the flight. All this did not please me.

To be frank, the last thing I want to be doing is a bunch of last-minute flight details. I would rather sort this out when I book my ticket, not at the last-minute.

Delayed Flight

Then, I had a problem with my flight being delayed and catching my next flight to Kelowna.

We got there in the end, but my luggage was bumped to a later flight. The seat I had pre booked was reassigned, so I ended up on the last available seat on the flight I had booked. No one told me, they automatically had moved me to a later flight.  It was in the middle at the back of the plane – yuck! Plus, I had people waiting to pick me up at the other end and no way to contact them, as my phone is UK and the Wifi in Calgary, just didn’t work.

There was no communication about this change or that they would make this change at any point – not impressed!  As I did a marathon sprint around Calgary airport. To make that flight, which I can tell you, where we landed and where my next flight to Kelowna went from, were nowhere near each other. Just to add, I had to go through customs in between for just a bit more fun.

At least, I didn’t need to pick up my luggage at Calgary, as I would never have made my flight.  This is a new system they are just starting at the airport. This gets a full tick from me!

Quite a few bugs to work out in their new flights to London – don’t plan to book that way again. Too much fiddling and for what I feel was not much less money in the end.

OK, rant over about my flight, things are going well after that.

Kelowna

I had a great few days with my parents and niece.

Zamboni

Zamboni

I made it to a Saturday night Junior hockey game of the local champs!  Couldn’t get better Canadian entertainment than this – we won, too!  It was fun to see the old Zamboni going round again.

This doesn’t happen in the UK. I got to go to the gym with my niece for free!  I was pleasantly surprised when I was able to go along for free!  Aces, Canada!

As I was 1st in Kelowna, I was in the fruit valley and guess what I got to do?

It’s apple season!

My brother’s home, where I was staying has an apple tree which is not picked much.

I went out and picked, plus made some delicious home-made apple sauce – yummy!

My favourite apple here is the MacIntosh, which, sadly, I can’t get in the UK.

I was so pleased when I went out to my parents place and managed to pick some off a neighbours tree.  Sadly, I forget them in my parents motor home – dang!  Still, I’ve been happily munching away on them since buying some at the local supermarket – scrum!

My parents place is For Sale!

My parents place is For Sale!

1 little side, as I’m often saying to my friends in the UK, ‘Oh, my parents have bears walk through their garden.’  Well, when I was picking apples from my brother’s tree, seems I wasn’t the only 1.

Bear Skat or Poo

Bear Skat or Poo

Some fresh bear scat was there – pleased that my brother’s dog was with as my bear alarm!

Joys of living where the bears are.

Property For Sale
Mom and Dad's view

Mom and Dad’s view

Both my brother and parents live in places which would be seen as quite remote in the UK.

I love them for their naturalness.

My parents place (which is For Sale, if anyone is interested!) have a spectacular view of Okanagan Lake and you can see the lights of both Kelowna and Vernon.

My brother has to truck water in, as they aren’t on city water, only well. They need to bring it in to meet their demands.

Plus, he has a log fire stove which heats the house, so every year he has to chop logs to make sure they have enough for the winter.  I love log fires and campfires.

It’s not uncommon to find dirt roads, log cabins and eagles flying over head.

I just love it, but then, I don’t live it everyday.

I’m used to my creature comforts of tap water and heaters.

Vancouver

Now, of course, the cities aren’t like this.

Vancouver is back to my creature comforts, but there is a marked difference to my life in the UK.

Room with a view

Room with a view

For starters, I was walking in a park in New Westminster and people will smile back and say ‘Hello!’  This is not such a frequent occurence in big cities in the UK.

Also, its commen practise to yell, ‘Thanks’ to the bus driver every time you leave the back of the bus.  They, also, say ‘Hello’ and sometimes ask how you are!  I’d forgotten all these nice gestures.

Skytrain

In fact, at the Skytrain – like the Tube in London or the Metro in Paris, I had a staff member come up to me on a late Sunday afternoon. My confusion quite apparent.

Compass Card

Compass Card

She showed me how the new Compass card system works and went into great detail of how it worked – what my best options would be and how to sign up online to make sure I didn’t lose any money off my card should it get lost or stolen – Wow!  Love that customer service.

Inspiring Story

My 1st place I stayed was at an Air BnB in New Westminster – I got a beautiful room with a view over the Fraser River.

I had lovely chats with the Croatian immigrant, Suzanna, who I have to say is a real inspiration. She arrived in Canada with no money and is now managing to leave her job, in the care system, to run her various properties.  She is a real turn around sort of person and I love that about Vancouver and BC.

Mixing of Cultures

I love the mix of cultures which is always permeating the city. This is not always so welcome with others who have been born and raised in the city.

I love the diversity.

It’s 1 of the things I’ve always loved about Vancouver is it’s openness to allowing the freedom of cultures.

My Mother comes from Austria, so I’m quite proud of the fact of a mixed heritage background.

Plus, growing up in such a great place where bears can walk through your garden.

Army & Navy
All this from the Army & Navy for under £100!

All this from the Army & Navy for under £100!

Another find in New Westminster was the old Army & Navy store.

It brought back days when I would go shopping with my Mom for school outfits.  Recently, I was reminded that it’s the best place to go to buy jeans. As you are pretty much guaranteed to find jeans that fit and for a reasonable price.

I bought a great pair for $25 – Yes!  It was like walking down memory lane.

It was a good place to buy a cheap back pack as well. Looking elsewhere for a school style back pack, they were starting at $35. I have to say, in the UK, you can get the same thing a lot easier and cheaper. I managed to find 1 for $15 at the Army & Navy – bingo!

Back Packs as far as the eye can see...

Back Packs as far as the eye can see…

Big thanks to Mom for all those times she dragged me around there when I was a kid.

New Westminster Key

After all this walking and shopping, I needed food. So I went off to the new Key at New Westminster and had a lovely meal in a bowl. The waitress warned me, I would need a doggy bag – she was right. I love doggie bags – 2 meals for the price of 1!

More than 1 meal!

More than 1 meal!

The other thing that happened at this lovely restaurant on the Fraser River was, I decided when I sat down it was still warm enough to sit outside. It got cooler and they offered myself and the other couple outside blankets – lovely!  Plus the friendly couple shared a blanket moment with me – love that when that happens and I’m travelling alone.

Tea Tantrums

Also, it’s just standard to get a glass of water.

This is a biggy for me, they don’t charge for extra hot water for my tea!

I’ve had this happen several times in the UK, which really gets my goat.  It’s not like coffee, which, I have to say, many places here offer bottomless filtered coffee – so UK, you really could learn to be better at this.

I do have 1 complaint about the teas I’ve bought or tried here, that is, the tea bag can only really be used once.  It just doesn’t have the staying power of British tea bags, where you can get more than 1 cup from a tea bag.  So it’s all about what ya get and where.

Maybe we could find a tea utopia where we can get leaf tea with bottomless hot water – paradise!

Rounding off

Just to end my time at New Westminster, I observed on a Sunday afternoon at the key they have a circus school for kids. How cool is that?!

To round it all off, this 1st week took me through 4 cities (Brighton, London, Kelowna and Vancouver) and 2 countries (UK, Canada). I got to play cribbage with my family and go to Costco for my 1st shop.

Ahhh, I feel I am slowly getting settled.

I’m just a little duckie waiting in the park for my next adventure… what’s yours?

Little duckie

Little duckie

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Tea in Brighton – Bluebird Tea

Tea Heaven

I love tea!  Love it, love it, love it!

When I found there was a tea tasting in Brighton, I went.  It’s listed in the Brighton Fringe Festival which runs in May. You can tea taste all year round at Bluebird Tea.

They remind me of tea made in Canada called David’s Tea. I’ve a sneaky suspicion is the inspiration for this tea shop. I asked and no one said they knew, but then the tea tasting was done by others. It’s true the owners were in Canada and inspired by the new tea trend which is sweeping across North America.

If you really want to beat the trend,here’s your chance, as this is new here and worth a looky-loo!

Tasting – Mixology
The Mixology tastings are hosted by 1 person who talks about the teas and the other who makes them!

The Mixology tastings are hosted by 1 person who talks about the teas and the other who makes them!

The tea tasting experience is a lot like tasting wines. The colour, tannins smells and flavours are all a part of the process.

I think the biggest surprise to me was Matcha tea. Thinking I knew most tea variations, this Japanese based green tea had not reached me yet. I now know about it and it’s now a new favourite for its taste, health benefits and make it with a bamboo brush!

Also, if you have a sweet tooth, but don’t want the waist line to match it. Bluebird Tea offer a huge range of tasty teas which can satisfy that craving, but without the calories or caffeine!  Flavours like: Snowball, Jelly and ice cream, Red Velvet Tea, Maple Bacon Pancakes, Rhubarb and Custard, etc.  The teas are changing with the seasons, so if you find something you like, get it while you can.

You can join their tea university, do their Mixology workshops – blend your tea with alcohol – delicious – and join the tea club.

They give you easy ways to make cold teas without having to heat the water. They sell all sorts of fun tea accessories, too!

For me, it is just tea heaven and I’m so glad it’s here in Brighton.

I made my own tea blend on the tea mixology event – yummy – combining all my favourites!
🙂

Yes, it did taste like it, without the calories!

Yes, it did taste like it, without the calories!

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