Monday 26 November 2018


Sometimes all you need is a restorative weekend, a day trip or a quick drive out to make you feel like you’ve had a break from the stresses of work and everyday life. It’s enough to blow away the cobwebs and feel like you’ve made the most of your free time. I love days like this and earlier on in the year, on a glorious sunny day, we headed out to a little piece of Italian paradise right on our own doorstep; no plane journey required.

After getting lost in picturesque countryside, often having to slow down to take pictures and of course natures very own traffic lights (sheep and lots of them) you approach the little tourist town of Portmeirion in the Gwynedd area of North Wales, in an area of sublime natural beauty. The town created by Sir Clough Williams Ellis was designed in the style of the Italian village of Portofino and immediately on entering you are transported to a fairy tale paradise.

Elegant archways, pastel-shaded houses and various bright flora and fauna abound, palm trees sway and as you sit down and sip on a cold crisp Italian Moretti lager (well, when in Rome!) you almost completely forget you are in the Welsh countryside. It’s pretty and elegant facade you may recognise from programmes such as The Prisoner (a bit of a cult classic) and the music festival Number 6, presumably named after the agent above.

To keep the village running there is an entrance fee, more expensive on the day at around £12.50 or £10.00 after 3pm (however, if you book online tickets are much cheaper!) as we arrived after 3pm and the site isn’t particularly large (this is a village after all) we had more than enough time to wander around this sub-tropical utopia at a leisurely pace and indulge enough in a drink and a delicious sharing platter of food at Caffe Glas (I love how the menus are still properly represented in Welsh). We sat and watched the world go by and admired this pretty part of the world. Coming at this particular hour, you feel like you’ve almost got the place to yourself and don’t forget, if you don’t want to explore this little gem on foot, the miniature railway departs from outside this Italian style restaurant. We nibbled at our board of Italian style meats, olives and cheeses, and let our bread soak up delicious oil and balsamic glaze. You can also pre-order food to take away and have it delivered to one of the onsite cottages if you happen to stay on site. This is something I would definitely do, especially whilst enjoying a cold drink and admiring the sunset over the picturesque estuary.

Afterwards, we wandered down to the Portmeirion Hotel and stopped at one of the local shops to pick up some Welsh goodies, including some spicy, dark Pembrokeshire Rum. Delicious to drink but also gorgeous as a glaze for marinades or maybe added to cake mix. The Portmeirion Hotel is a fabulous spot if you decide to stay for a night or two and is very popular for weddings as its views are unparalleled; a perfect spot for a sundowner! It even has an outdoor pool virtually unheard of in Great Britain, never mind Snowdonia! Between now and March next year there are some great deals to be had for mini breaks to Portmeirion (check their website for details but two nights with breakfast and dinner can be had for around £205 for two people). If the dramatic sunsets are anything to be had at the moment those purple and pink dotted skies would look ever so pretty over the Dynward Estuary! They even do spa packages ... perfect to escape and ease away the stresses and tensions of everyday life.

So, if you want to take a trip to Italy but can’t quite afford the price tag, make your way to Portmeirion and live that Italian/Welsh dream. You can even have Gelato!

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Krakow in Pictures

 This time I’m ashamed to admit I can’t be arsed to bloody write, thank god some of you are thinking but, to be honest, I will let these pictures (iPhone ones I’m afraid) do the talking. Krakow was such a revelation, like most of Eastern Europe; these cities are little gems, so jaw-achingly pretty with milky shade buildings juxtaposed with a sort of noir sense of glamour in this gothic fairytale paradise. It’s cheap, extremely clean, if you want to eat some of the best burgers on earth and if you like your beer cold, crisp and by the gallon… should be on your stein (bucket) list. 

We flew to Krakow with Jet2 from Manchester and stayed in the heart of the hip Jewish Quarter at the New Charming Apartments which provided fantastic value for money, is as modern as modern can get, comfortably sleeps six and also has a balcony! Happy Days. 

Monday 5 November 2018

A quick foodie guide to Krakow

I’m going to be taking a bit of a different stance on my usual full holiday breakdowns. This time, I’m going to let you explore a short gastronomic tour of the truly magnificent Polish city of Krakow. Our time earlier this year in this truly spectacular gothic gem, tickled and tantalised our taste buds in a delightfully pleasant and unexpected way.

Down a side street in an underground cellar, we escaped the heat of the July sun and entered this luxurious and oasis-like calm interior. Almost out of an Arabian novel, I felt transported to a secret escape in Marrakesh ..... when I was actually in Poland eating in an Indian restaurant! This amazing eaterie not only had a sleek, modern interior but provided some of the most appetising butter chicken I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating; creamy and delicious but not too sweet, with just the right amount of tomato acidity. Mouth-watering! When you’re done, have a cocktail at the plush bar and/or relax in the upstairs lodge and sink into the mass of soft, plump cushions that adorn the seating.

Montana Burger’s and Hotdogs

On the way back from a long walk and at a very late hour, we followed our nostrils to the corner of Stradomska, where this little hole in the wall delivered some of the best and juiciest meat placed sliced bread imaginable. Krakownians like their meat and you will find fast food outlets all over the city but this places was so good, we just had to go back the very next day.

(haha it was too late to get another shot! I am ashamed, look at the smile on his face? haha) 

For proper, Neapolitan Pizza with the most wonderful dough base and tastiest, fresh toppings, head across the river and seek out this other hole in the wall establishment. I washed my Margherita pizza down with an ice cold white wine. Sit by the window and people watch and observe their envious faces as they see you tucking into the best authentic pizza in Krakow! I do apologise for my poor quality Instagram story shots but I simply had to show the rest of the world and let them drool enviously before enjoying!

Along the Vistula river, rollerbladers and lovers stroll down the banks of the water and of course, plenty of boat bars and restaurants abound. We picked 'Augusta', as it had the best roof deck for watching the world go by with a sophisticated cocktail in hand; yes it is slightly pretentious but with a view like this and some hard liquor who am I to complain?

Possibly one of the best bars on the planet and in the hippest district of Kazimierz, it hosts fantastic music nights and each room has its own distinct feel and d├ęcor. Like a walk into Narnia (literally, one of the doors is the front of a wardrobe) into a defunct cinema space and then onto Grandma’s communist kitchen. The cheap lace table covers and fake plastic flowers in a milk bottle only add to its quirky eccentricity and I could happily while away hours staring out the window with an ice cold beer (by the way, Alchemia offers some of the best beers on draft). If you like here (and by God, why wouldn’t you?) then I also recommend Bar Propaganda, located only a short walk away. It’s like having a drink in the least salubrious but best antique store in the world and if you are a collector/hoarder then this is paradise.

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