Right now there are 169 Michelin starred restaurants in the UK, 66 of those are in London. If my insatiable hunger had its way we would visit one every week and approximately four years later, give or take some new additions, we would eventually tick them all off the list and most likely be bankrupt. Let’s be frank, we’re not made of money so even one a month is a bit lavish so what were we thinking tackling three in three days?!
I was thinking ‘heck yes, this is going to be a delicious trip’, and a certain someone was thinking he really didn’t expect to be accommodated at all three of our shortlisted restaurants at such short (less than a week but would you expect anything less from us?) notice. Turns out that despite their Michelin star status these Yorkshire restaurants required a lot less advance booking than their London counterparts; I suspect this has everything to do with the fact they are in rather idyllic but remote locations, as the quality of the food and service was outstanding.
This week when my alarm clock went off there was no sunlight streaming through the crack in the curtains, putting on the 50 deniers was a no brainer, and there was an unmistakeable autumn chill in the air as I walked out the door. This, I told my sun-loving-self was the final nail in the coffin for summer and winter, my least favourite season of them all, is on its way. Sigh. Followed by a little shiver, and then another sigh. Goodbye summer.
This is also about the time everyone chips in their two cents worth about what an average summer it’s been, but as we’ve spent the whole season confined to this island, I can say with some authority that this great British summer hasn’t been all that bad. While our friends were road tripping in Albania, checking out the pyramids in the smouldering desert heat or even downing drinks on Moscow’s rooftop bars, we enjoyed picnics in Clapham Common, sunny afternoon beersies in our backyard, and a much needed escape to the countryside.
Is there anything worse than being sick on holiday? Quality exploring time is wasted and you’re more miserable than usual without any of your usual creature comforts on hand. It’s frustrating for all involved; I know my travel companion has a particularly tough time because yours truly is a particularly terrible patient. I’m one of those stubborn people who avoid the drugs and have faith that their body will defeat it all on its own, eventually. That was quite the revelation wasn’t it because I’m normally so mellow and obliging…
Anyway, this little travel nightmare happened to me on a recent trip to Malta. There were a group of us, we hired a lovely apartment, though it wasn’t outrageously hot, the sun was shining and it was still many degrees warmer than London so we were very happy. Which in turn leads me to be a little lax with applying sunscreen and opting to stay hydrated with wine instead of water. My normally water-guzzling body did not like this one bit and by the evening it was starting to enact its revenge.
I used to dread people asking me when my birthday is because I knew that once I told them I would be faced with those pitying looks and sympathetic remarks assuring me it’s not that bad. You see, I have what most people deem to be an unfortunate birthday. All you late December babies out there will feel my pain, but only those of you who also have birthdays within days of Christmas will truly understand the suffering. We generally get upstaged by Jesus.
Throw in the fact that my birthday is smack bang in between Christmas and New Year and you get the idea why I don’t usually celebrate it. There’s no point organising a shindig because people are either away on holiday or too skint to come toast to me getting another year older but none the wiser. So sometimes I like to celebrate my half birthday instead because June seems like a much more civilised time of year to have a birthday and in case you’re wondering, it was yesterday. Yep, happy half-birthday to me… all belated birthday wishes and gift are welcome, particularly if they involve food or drink.
Many would claim that London is best city in the world, and I would struggle to disagree as it has almost everything I want in a city. Loads of sights to see, feasts to be had, culture to be immersed in and shops filled with anything my materialistic heart could desire. While I’ve resigned to the fact that London will rob me of my hard earned pounds for the pleasure of her company, I’m not quite ready for her to completely rob me of my peace and quiet. Every now and then every London dweller needs to escape, just for a short while, and head for the hills, or in our case, the sea.
A logical destination for this escape is Brighton, only an hour or so away, it will give you a much needed dose of relaxation and that fresh sea air. While it is traditional to head to the seafront and chow down on some fish chips, I’ve never been much of a fan and unlike the song we used to sing in primary school, fish and chips do not make me want to lick my lips and I most definitely do not want to have them for breakfast, lunch and tea. So if you’re on my side of the divide, let me tell you what I would rather have instead.
One of my worst character traits is that I am a ‘first impressions’ person. They may not matter to you but for reasons unknown they seem to matter to me, and within the first thirty seconds of meeting someone, arriving somewhere, or trying something new I have decided whether or not I’m a fan. And if I’m not I’ll stick with that view until proven otherwise so it was probably a good thing I decided not to go into legal practice- I’ve got that whole innocent until proven guilty thing all wrong haven’t I?
It’s an awful trait I’m very aware of and now I’m older and wiser, I’m a little less mean girls and a little more forgiving. But once in a while old habits die hard and there comes a time when you’re truly tested, most recently on our visit to Alimentum. Power walking down traffic laden Hills Rd, I checked Google maps several times to make sure we were on the right track, I hoped that once over the rise the landscape would transform to the leafy Cambridge I was expecting, it didn’t. From the outside, Alimentum reminded me of the overpriced but not overly good cafe at the bottom of your apartment block, where you go when you’re too hungover to venture further than your front door; but at this point I’m reminding myself not to judge a book by its cover.
How do you pick your travel destinations? Some people have bucket lists they’ve been compiling since their first part-time job pay cheque. Others have maps adorned with colour coded flags for places they’ve been and ones they’re yet to step foot in. There are even some bargain hunters out there who happily search ‘everywhere’ on Skyscanner and see where they can land for as little as possible. We’re a bit of all of the above.
But with so many amazing places to see and my indecisiveness, it can still be hard to choose so we put 300 European cities of a certain size into a spreadsheet, put on a random generator and told Excel to throw out some options. A couple of months ago, it threw out Nuremberg. We knew two things about Nuremberg; it was the site of the Nuremberg trials, and they have an amazing Christmas market. With Christmas already a distant memory, we wavered because we weren’t sure what else it had going for it, but some might say we’re gamblers so we took a chance on this city and found quite the hidden gem!