Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Places to visit near London Bridge.



London Bridge area has many interesting things to see and do. There are many restaurants, iconic sightseeing places, pubs, cafes, restaurants and hotels near London Bridge to discover. 



A stone’s throw from London bridge station is Borough Market. It is one of London’s most popular markets where you will find International and British produce. 


Here you will find ingredients and foods from all over the world. The atmosphere, the ambience and the smells are mesmerising and it’s a food lover’s haven. In this famous wholesale and retail food market you can find all types of artisan food, cheeses, produce, spices. It has many eateries and cafes and food stalls selling delicious food.


On the opposite side of London Bridge, there is the beautiful Shard. Here you can enjoy drinks  at the Gong Bar and then dinner at Hutong at The Shard. You can also purchase a ticket to visit the Shard viewing gallery on the 72nd floor for iconic views of London. This is the most enjoyable experience and a definite must.  

For those that enjoy history, the Southwark Cathedral is situated less than five minutes walking distance from London Bridge station. You can enjoy the herb garden there together with art exhibitions in the refectory and a souvenir shop. The Cathedral is a calm and serene place to visit and perfect to stop for a refreshment break. 


We have all seen the famous Tower Bridge and a visit to it is a must if you are near London Bridge. It is only a 10 minute stroll from London Bridge station. You can book an excursion to discover the history of Tower Bridge. 


The excursion includes a walk over the Bridge’s 42 Metre High Walkways and see the views below of the spectacular glass floor. You can also visit the Victoria engine rooms and learn about the history of Tower Bridge. For the art lovers there is also an art exhibition ‘Tides of Change’ by Southwark Arts Forum.


Along by Tower Bridge is the Queens Walk, it follows the south bank of the River Thames from Lambeth Bridge to Tower Bridge. The walkway is several miles long and passes some of London's most popular tourist and visitor attractions. 


You can also visit the HMS Belfast here which is permanently moored on the River Thames. It is a museum ship that is spread on 9 decks. You can explore the nine decks and see and learn all about life at sea.This is  a really fun visit especially you have children.

Hay’s Galleria in Tooley Street is a nice place to stroll through; it was originally a shipping dock that was redeveloped in 1980 to create an indoor market with plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a cup of coffee and cake.


London Bridge is not all about hustle and bustle, it also has nearby the Potters Field. This place offers visitors the perfect green open space along the riverside. Here you can relax from the cities noises and enjoy some peace and tranquillity.

We enjoyed our visit and were able to get some fantastic views of the river and London.There is so much to see and do in and around London Bridge. I will definitely visit again to do the river cruise , and visit the Globe Theatre.

* This post is in collaborative post, the spending money was gifted by Hotels.com, but all views are my own 







Friday, 28 June 2019

Tyre maintenance before you plan any trip.


Pic courtesy of  Kevin Phillips


With the school summer holiday soon to start, it’s time to plan ahead some day trips and staycations for the family. Often day trips or overnight stays are enough to get a break and at the same time you can see and visit lots of different places.
It’s really important to make a list of places you plan to visit, what activities they offer, what the entrance costs will be and of course what sort of restaurants and food places are nearby. This year we are planning road trip to Scotland. Some of the places we plan to visit are Edinburg, Loch Ness, Inverness, Pitcochry, Ben Nevis and Glasglow.

 Pic courtesy of  Scozzy


Before the trip it is important that you have serviced your car and checked that it is in good working order. Check that lights, brakes and fluids are topped up and most important check that the tyres are all in good working order which is of paramount importance for the driver and the passenger’s safety.
 You should always make sure the tyre pressure is adequate and check them for any types of bulges, punctures or damage. Always make sure that the spare type is serviced too so that in case you need to change it is in full working order. There are many garages which will offer a tyre checking service, and even if you happen to require this service whilst travelling you can get the best local prices on tyres in Edinburgh at Point S


Whilst driving through Scotland’s scenic routes, the roads can often be difficult to drive on. Having good quality tyres will ensure road grip is provided and you can be safe from accidents or the vehicle getting out of control in the narrow winding roads. Other benefits of having the tyres checked is that is that it will help you to manage your fuel usage effectively and give you a smoother driving experience.


                                                         Pic courtesy of  Frank Winkler

With the car fully checked the next thing is to pack some spare blankets, food, drinks, first aid kit and lots of activities for the kids to do in the car. Always try and take frequent stops so everyone can stretch their legs and recharge. Driving in long stretches can be tiring and often dangerous, plan your trips so that the journey is manageable. Taking in turns to drive is also a good idea on long journeys.
Last of all enjoy the trip and be prepared if emergencies happen it is all part of the excitement of road trips.
I hope to write more about out trip in the forthcoming posts.

* in collaboration with Point S

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Masquerade Mask ~Bostik Challenge June 2019



I have been part of the Bostik Bloggers for almost 4 years now, although 2019 there has been some changes and instead of doing a monthly post I am doing one post quarterly with the brand. The theme for June was open so Little M my crafting partner and I made this lovely Masquerade Mask for her to wear at her birthday party.

Little M loves these crafting challenges and we always try and do  at least one crafting session a month, however of late Little M is enjoying baking so we have been doing more baking than crafting.

To  make the Masquerade Mask



Equipment you will need:

Pink glitter funky foam
24 cm piece elastic
Feathers assorted colours
4 Funky foam stars assorted sizes  and colours 
Scissors
Pencil
Stapler
Bostik PVA glue.

How to make the Mask:

1. Using a masquerade mask template place it on the pink foam and draw around it. Cut the mark out carefully.


2.Mark a hole in the temporal corners to fit the elastic.



3.Thread the elastic through and with the the help of an adult staple the ends secure. ( We tried gluing but when we stretched the elastic it came unstuck)





4. Arrange three assorted feathers on each temporal corner and glue them down with the Bostik PVA glue.


5.Using the Bostik PVA glue position and stick the foam stars in place.



6. Let the glue dry for 30 mins .The mask is ready to wear.


Image for pin


You may like other  Bostik craft posts:

This craft is suitable for young children although, adult supervision may be required for using scissors and stapler. If you like this project check the link below for more art and craft projects, that you can do with your children.

Kids Arts and Craft Videos
Kids Arts and Crafts Projects 


Being part of the Bostik 2019 bloggers with Tots100 and Bostik, I was sent some craft items in a box to create this project.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

Atreya Spice Farm ~Goa

Spices are my life, I grew up in a household where the spice box was my mums best friend. She used them for cooking, medicinal and even for ayurveda and beauty treatments. Spices have so many wonderful benefits, they are aromatic, flavour some and if used correctly have tremendous health benefits.

I recently wrote about the health benefits of ginger and turmeric on my food blog. Spices come in dried form and of course fresh too. There are many varieties and species of plants that produce these spices and on my recent trip to Goa I was very lucky to visit the Atreya Spice Farm. The spice farm is based in Molem, Goa and you can do a day trip to the farm where they offer guided tours followed by a traditional Goan Lunch.




On arrival we were welcomed in a traditional way of a tikka and garland and offered refreshments before the tour.




Atreya farm is a 36 acre estate that is made up of forest land, wooded groves, tropical gardens, an orchard, an astrological plant park, and a medicinal plantation. It also has coconut and areca nut plantation, wildlife and birds and butterflies.
  




When we visited Atreya spice farm in October, it was recovering from a cyclone that had damaged a lot of the plants.The farm suffered a lot of damage and it is slowly being rebuilt. 



The tour around the spice gardens was very interesting. Sonali our tour guide  was very knowledgeable and she was very passionate about the plants, the spices and their benefits. She shared a lot of interesting tips with us of home remedies.



There were nutmeg trees, cardamom plants, cinnamon trees and many more. There were many more interesting varieties of herbs and plants. 



We also learnt about Feni a local liquor drink made from cashew nuts which Goa is famous for. Our guide showed us how it was fermented in the traditional way. We were offered a taste of it and believe me it was really strong, an acquired taste for sure!!!




The tour was extremely interesting and we learnt so much about how each spice can be used to benefit your health and reduce certain symptoms and ailments.

After the tour we enjoyed a lovely traditional vegetarian Goan lunch served in the rustic restaurant. The lunch is prepared on site using all the herbs and spices from the farm. It is cooked and served in earthen pots to give the food the authentic taste.




We enjoyed rice with dhal, chickpea curry called chole, stirfried dry cabbage, pakore (vegetable fritters) Goan bread and pappodams.


The spice farms also have a  souvenir shop selling farm grown spices, herbal oils, coconut carvings  and organic handmade soaps.



The Coconuts were carved in many designs such as monkeys, elephants and Lord Ganesh  a Hindu monkey god and looked beautiful.



We had a lovely visit and would like to thank Atreya Spice Farm for the lovely gift they gave us, a hand carved Lord Ganesh from a coconut shell. It is a lovely gesture from Mr Amrut the farm manager.



You can visit the farm as a trip on its own  and pay at the entrance or book through a package where you can do a combined day trip to Dudhsagar Falls, Atreya Spice plantation and the Old Goa Churches.We booked the combined trip through Trip Raja

We will definitely visit Atreya Spice Farm again on our next trip and would highly recommend anyone going to Goa to visit it. It's very educational and informative day out.

Since out visit, the farm has also introduced elephants there.

You may like to read about my other Goa posts:

Dudhsagar Waterfalls
Goan Old Churches

Thursday, 13 June 2019

Dudhsagar Falls ~Goa




On a recent trip to Goa we wanted so include some day trips. Amongst the many that were on offer I particularly wanted to visit the Atreya spice plantation and Dudhsagar Falls and the Old Goa Churches. 

The best way to do the trip was to book it through an agent as all the transport, entrance tickets etc are all sorted out for you and you can have a stress free day to enjoy the trip.We booked our trip through Trip Raja directly from the UK. The communication from the company from start to finish was excellent, both via email whilst we were in the UK and by phone whilst we were in India. A couple of days before the trip Kedar from Trip Raja messaged us all the final pick up details. 

Our driver picked us up promptly at 6.30 am on the day of the tour for 2 hour journey to Mollem National Park as it was advised to visit the Dudsagar Falls earlier in the day as it is less crowded. It was such an early start but believe me the day is long and this was the best time to get going.



The best time to visit Dudhsagar is just after the monsoon season ends in October when the waterfall is at its peak. We were lucky to have visited at this time. 

The waterfall originates in Karnataka and it is the highest waterfall found in Goa. It is located in the Bhagwan Mahaweer Wildlife Sanctuary and Mollem National Park, in Sanguem Taluka. The name Dudh means milk in Hindi and Sagar means lake, hence the name given Dudhsagar. The waterfall does look like a flow of creamy white milk as it cascades down.


Our driver dove us to the Mollem National Park, where we had a stop for breakfast, our advice to anyone going is to take your own food as we found that there were many street vendors etc but most of the food sold was fried and not to our taste. If you are a European tourist you may find the hygiene standards were also questionable at some of these vendors. I did manage to get a piping hot cup of masala tea though to kick start the day.

Make sure you purchase water and snacks at the kiosks here too, as once you enter the national park in your jeeps there is nowhere to purchase anything. Private cars are not allowed past the entrance of the National Park, all the travel from this point is via Jeeps.

Whilst we had a breakfast and toilet stop and stretched our legs from the long journey, our taxi driver went to organise our life jackets and tickets for the Jeep ride through the National Park to Dudhsagar Falls. All the visitors have to wear life jackets that are provided for safety reasons.




The Jeeps are shared with other tourists and each jeep can carry maximum of seven  passengers. The forest Jeep safari will begin at Mollem, where you will be driven through the forest areas with streams along the way.      


The ride is extremely picturesque and somewhat bumpy through forests and mud tracks but it really is worth the experience. 



It takes approximately forty-five minutes to an hour to reach the water falls.Once you reach the Dudsagar Falls you are able to swim, take photos and enjoy the beautiful views.  




The stopping time at the falls is restricted to one hour and your jeep and driver will wait for you, any lateness of return will incur a fine as there are strict guidelines that the jeeps have to follow as not to overstay that time limit to prevent overcrowding at the site.


There are lots of monkeys around, who are very accustomed to the visitors, however do take caution and don't pet them in case they bite.


The trek to the waterfalls is beautiful, although those persons with disability may find it difficult as in some places the climb is challenging. It is not suitable for people with very young children or people with severe disabilities. There is also no facility for wheelchairs and strollers.



Some of the walking route is through winding narrow paths following the river. It is fairly rocky and in places slippery so great caution needs to be taken. It took about 15 minutes walk to reach the waterfalls. The views at this point are absolutely breathtaking.



There are toilets and changing rooms provided on site but they are very basic. There is no where to store any bags so it is highly recommended that you travel light , carrying basic essentials only.

One hour is enough if you just want to walk and enjoy the views, however if you want to swim it is a little rushed as there is not adequate time to enjoy the swim at leisure, and have time to dry and change too.

It is safe to swim in the waters within the marked areas, however it's advisable to take caution and not venture under the water falls it self. Non swimmers should avoid swimming as the flow of water current can be strong from the cascading waterfalls.





The return journey is via the same jeep which will take you back to the Mollem National Park entrance for your taxi pickup.

Some advice that I would give to anyone doing this trip is:

  • Wear sensible shoes as the climb to the waterfalls is slippery and rocky.(definitely no flip flops)
  • Carry your belongings in a rucksack that you can lock as it leaves you both hands free to steady yourself and you can place your valuables in it too.
  • Wear loose quick drying clothing.
  • Hold onto sunglasses, hats and cameras as there are lots on monkeys who are very fast and you won’t get a chance to retrieve your belonging if they snatch them.(Do not feed the moneys, they will group around you and snatch your belonging)
  • Carry plenty of water and sun cream with you.
  • If you are planning to swim, wear your swim wear under your clothing for easy change as the changing rooms are not really nearby.
  • Whilst swimming secure your belongings and try not to carry too many valuables.
  • Carry towels and a change of clothing. 
  • Last but not the least do not throw your rubbish like water bottles and food wrappers in the national park. Take them home with you.

Once the jeep arrives back at the National park drop off, you return your lifejackets and meet your taxi driver who will be waiting to take you to your next destination; the Atreya Spice Plantation and the Goa Churches.  

The cost of the entire trip is 1799 , this does not include breakfast or camera charges. You can book this trip through TripRaja.

The trip to Dudhsagar Falls is amazing and I would highly recommend it. In my next two posts I will feature the next part of the trip to Atreya Spice Plantation and Goa old churches.

Coming up soon
Atreya Spice Farms
Old Goa Churches