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Eat for England! – Part 3

To end the series (really, this is the last post about England), how can you not go past the English pub? We visited some wonderful pubs on our English adventure, some modern, some comfy, some unbelievably old and quaint. Hubby’s favourite drinking spot was the old Jerusalem Tavern in Clerkenwell – an 18th Century pub with blackened old beams, that could barely sit a dozen guests, but which served the best beers in town.

Clerkenwell Sights

Hubby, a beer geek, was really happy to be trying out new beers everyday. I was more happy to try out the food. Pub grub was generally of good quality in generous-sized portions. By the sea at Lyme, we ate the biggest piece of fish ever. It’s a locally caught plaice, with chips and peas.

Plaice and chips at Cobb Arms Pub

And the best food can be found in the most out-of-the-way places. The North Inn in the tiny village of Pendeen, Cornwall is a great example of that. It was the best pub out of a two-pub village, and during our stay we ate there some half-a-dozen times in all, so we really got to know and love their food. These fish cakes were the best I tasted, so tasty that I was half way through my first cake before I realised that I hadn’t taken a photo.

Fish cakes at the North Inn

But the best meal we had there were their curries. Even though we had a few curries in London, the two curries here were so much better, and fresher, than any curry we had in our entire trip. I chose the black-eyed pea dahl which was full of flavour.

Black bean dal at the North Inn

Hubby chose a beef vindaloo which was out of this world.

Beef curry at the North Inn

It’s wonderful to find these little places to eat in England. It certainly made the frigid March weather a little more bearable. That said, we were quite happy to leave it and discover Greece…

Eat for England! – Part 2

Out of London, the choices were not so varied, but the quality of good old fashioned British cooking and local ingredients were hard to beat. In Chatsworth, I had a Ploughman’s lunch that was of the highest order, complete with a pork pie, homemade bread, assorted cheeses and pickles and salad that was mostly sourced from the estate itself.

Ploughmans lunch at Chatsworth House

The bed and breakfast places that we stayed at were a constant source of good food. In Cornwall, our B&B also served afternoon tea. I had a Cornish tea with scones, jam and the (in)famous clotted cream.

Cornish Cream Tea

In Derbyshire, the owner of our B&B had hand-caught the trout that we ate for dinner in the Derwent River, conveniently located across the road. Needless to say, the trout was succulent and awesome.

Baked Rainbow trout at the Cables B and B

Eat for England! – Part 1

Before I move on to Greece, I need to post once more about England, and it’s about quite an important aspect of travel – food!

I was actually pleasantly surprised with the food all throughout the country. It’s certainly an improvement from when I was last in the country, some 13 years ago. It looks like the English have finally embraced Asian food of all kinds, not just from the sub-continent. There were Japansese, Vietnamese and even Korean restaurants in central London. My favourite dishes were from restaurants in the East End.

Kid goat at Moro Restaurant

Kid goat with roasted beetroot, rainbow chard and lentils from Moro in Islington. The combination of spices and top ingredients was heavenly.

Braised Ox Cheeks at St John

Braised ox cheeks at St John in Clerkenwell. This must be one of the first restaurants to embrace nose to tail cooking. The tenderness of the ox cheeks has to be eaten to be believed.

This was just two of many great dishes we ate in London. Next, food in the countryside.

Canterbury – Part 5

Outside the cathedral were the old cloisters.

Canterbury Cathedral

Much of it was disused after the Dissolution of Monasteries by Henry VIII, but one can still imagine robed monks, priests and bishops shuffling down these paths and catacombs.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury Cathedral

Well, that ends our trip around England. But it’s definitely not the end of our journey. Oh no, if you can believe it, we’ve only just started. Next up, a country I touched on briefly during my visit to the British Museum – Greece.

Canterbury – Part 4

The cathedral has its darker side. In the basement lies this altar – the place where St Thomas Becket died.

Canterbury Cathedral

Thomas Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury in the 12th Century, in the time of King Henry II. He and Henry were friends (Becket was Henry’s chancellor at one stage), but fell out over the rights and privileges of the church versus that of the monarchy. Henry wanted the church to live by the rules of the land, but Becket maintained that the church and its clerics should be judged by their own rules (strangely topical given the revelations this week about how the contemporary Catholic church handled its crimes and criminals).

The controversy lasted for a good part of a decade, and by the time Becket had excommunicated many of his advisers Henry had had enough and said so to his court. This inspired four of Henry’s supporters to come to their king’s aid and assassinate the archibishop while he said his prayers.

So Henry got rid of the ‘rogue’ Becket and was able to reassert his position. Becket meanwhile became a martyr of the church and was made saint within two years of his death. His shrine in the cathedral became the main attraction for pilgrims over the centuries. So in my humble opinion, in the end it was even-stevens between the two.

Canterbury – Part 3

It was Easter Saturday when we visited, so there were reminders of the Paschal season all around the cathedral.

Canterbury Cathedral

We walked inside and was greeted by such a sight. The nave was bigger and higher than any church in London – the church did really seem to go forever. And it was was heated too. One wonders about their heating bills. I think most of the entrance fee would go towards this.

Canterbury Cathedral

The main altar and seats were rather modern, yet organic, which I quite liked. None of your jewelled thrones here.

Canterbury Cathedral

But the bell tower was something else. It’s gothic style at its best.

Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury – Part 2

But our prime destination for the day was the great Canterbury Cathedral, which is right in the middle of the old town. The entrance is via this stunning gate.

Canterbury Cathedral

The central figure looks rather scary. Even though it looks like he’s been there forever, it’s only a recent add-in and a mere twenty years old.

Canterbury Cathedral

Once through the gate, we were struck by the size and majesty of this gothic church. It’s certainly worthy as the central place of worship in the Anglican Church.

Canterbury Cathedral

We’ll have a better look around in my next post.

Canterbury – Part 1

Not Canterbury in New South Wales, or even Victoria. It’s the original Canterbury in Kent, east of London. To get there nowadays takes a mere hour due to the Channel Tunnel line. Add to that being the Easter long weekend, it’s no wonder that the town was filled to the brim.


The town is the seat of the Archibishop of Canterbury, the leading cleric of the Church of England, and has been the prime pilgrimage spot in England since the 7th Century. It’s no wonder that so much of the city is well-preserved, like the main gate, which has existed since Roman times, although the current version is medieval.


Being a pilgrimage, and now a tourist town, there were plenty of restaurants, accommodation and souvenir shops around.


But I liked how the old town is still full of half-timbered buildings that houses all the shops, even somewhere as pedestrian as Starbucks.



Westminster is one of the most iconic areas of London, and one of the most visited.


I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed being jostled for the best view of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament, nor did I go inside Westminster Cathedral (it was a Sunday, and closed for services), but I visit somewhere worth it.


Around the corner from the mayhem of Big Ben is the Churchill War Rooms – the basement complex from which was Winston Churchill’s command centre during World War II. It’s now a museum and wonderfully intact. The meeting rooms, communication rooms, bedrooms, and most impressively, the map rooms, where every action in WWII, all across the world, were meticulously tracked.


The museum also includes the Churchill Museum, which follows the life of Winston Churchill, from his not-so-humble childhood, his pre-politics career as a Boer War journalist, as well as his political and family life. The exhibits are interactive, but there were also plenty of Churchill’s letters and personal effects to illustrate his colourful life. I do like that the museum placed great emphasis on his writing, especially his war time speeches – how he composed them on his typewriter as he went from one meeting to another, and how they were in stanzas, like a poem. He really was a man of his word.

The Natural History Museum – Part 2

The Natural History Museum is huge, with galleries full of old-school stuffed animals, dinosaur galleries (bones and all), reconstruction of blue whales, as well as enormous displays of minerals, precious gems, and interactive earth sciences exhibits. There were so many galleries in fact that it made my head spin. But given our recent trip to Lyme Regis, and my acquaintance with the story of Mary Anning, it was the marine reptile gallery that I found the most memorable.

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

It’s quite a simple gallery really – a light and airy space, it has mounted on its walls complete fossils of marine dinosaurs. In fact, it houses the actual fossils that Mary Anning found in the cliffs of Lyme Regis, 200 years ago.

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

Here was the head of the first full ichthyosaur fossil that she found with her brother when she was just twelve years old.

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

And above it was another ichthyosaur that she found in Lyme Regis. The details are fascinating – the teeth, the ammonites embedded on to the ichthyosaur, showing that the two very different creatues did co-exist 200 million years ago.

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

Marine Dinosaur Gallery

I actually got a bit emotional seeing ‘her’ creatures in the most hallowed natural history museum in Britain, knowing how she struggled to make her mark. It goes to show that Mary Anning’s contribution, although not fully acknowledged in her lifetime, is now celebrated.