Showing posts from November, 2017

Celebrity Chef Dinner at Harbourmaster Aberaeron

This is a special evening that is always popular as it introduces us to a celebrity chef based in Wales – this evening we sampled 10 dishes from chef Gareth Ward from Ynyshir, near the magnificent waterfalls at Furnace.
It certainly sounds a lot, but these are tiny taster portions not full courses, as you can see from the photographs. Gareth came out to tell us about his work, and even served us the first course, his Not French Onion Soup – intriguing! It was very tasty, and we were instructed to stir it to bring the flavors together which we dutifully did.

The other feature of this evening is the choice of wine to bring out the best in each course. Unusually, we had 2 glasses at a time so that we could compare them both with the food, so this made it much more of a discussion with friends than just drinking what they gave us. We started with two white wines, a German Riesling and an Austrian GrĂ¼ner Veltliner, and our group agreed the second one was better, quite perfumed and not as ac…

Visit Worcester, Cafe Rouge, and stay at The Crown Wetherspoon hotel

Worcester is a great city to visit, with lots of things to do and see. As part of the three shires – Worcester, Gloucester, Hereford – there is a rich history related to battles between Roundheads and Cavaliers, a splendid Cathedral perfect for your Degree ceremony, Worcester Porcelain museum next to the Town Hall in the High Street, and performances by world-renowned musicians and personalities at various theatres around the city.
Long stretches of the Birmingham Worcester canal weave through the centre of town, so easy to access and enjoy towpath walks, and flow into the longest river in the UK, the River Severn, with its source high in the mountains of Wales – note the Thames is the longest river in England not the whole of UK!
There is always something going on, particularly leading up to Christmas. Worcester’s Victorian Christmas Fayre (30th November to 3rd December this year) has been established for 25 years, attracting nearly 200 stall holders and 150,000 visitors each year. Se…

Theatre reviews 3. Cinema - Murder on the Orient Express

cinema screening at Theatr Mwldan in Cardigan, Ceredigion, Wales Murder on the Orient Express We were looking forward to this but were a bit concerned as some reviews were less than enthusiastic about the latest version. Armed with munchies and a drink (as you are now allowed to take these into most cinemas and theatres) we settled in to our comfy seats to see for ourselves.
Stunning scenes at the beginning with very impressive computer-generated city skyline and colourful market squares crowded with noisy throngs of people – sounds a bit poetic but that is the impression you immediately get. Once on the train, the luxurious classy Orient Express, you are transported to a wonderful journey across vast plains and powerful snow-covered mountains, though clearly not a real landscape.
It truly is a star-studded cast, many familiar faces and a bewitching Poirot whose moustache is mesmerizing – is it real? Is it stuck on? Does it matter? The film follows the original story closely, so there ar…

Theatre Reviews 2. Around the World in 80 Days

Around the World in 80 Days
We loved the original film of Jules Verne’s Around the World in 80 Days, a cracking old-style adventure, so were fascinated to see how this could be interpreted on the stage. How could you suggest the actors covering continents by different forms of transport? No need to worry – this was an imaginative take on quick change costumes, scenery, and fast-paced action. If anyone gets offended at the mere suggestion of stereotypes, remember this is based on the story of Phileas Fogg’s journey in 1872, so the production team were looking for a few cultural references for each country (see their website or the full show programme for more information). The rapid scene changes involved a door that opened every now and then with different fabrics and objects to suggest a country, plus 3 or 4 characters doing a speedy version of a dance from India, jerky Egyptian movement like the old Sand Dance from the 1930s, or whirling acrobatic leaps representing the Arab lands. Wi…

Theatre reviews 1. The Bear - a One-Act Comedy Opera

The Bear by Sir William Walton (1902-1983) – a one-act comedy opera based on Anton Chekhov’s play - at The Coliseum, Ceredigion Museum, Aberystwyth Wales
This was billed as a one-act comedy opera that should appeal to those who are new to opera as it is short, sung in English, and does not take itself too seriously. I love the quote from Anton Chekhov in 1888 “I’ve managed to write a stupid vaudeville which, owing to the fact that it is stupid, is enjoying surprising success”.
It was a new opera to me, but we were particularly keen to see it as it is performed by Mid Wales Opera Small Stages team and performed in the recently-renovated old Coliseum theatre now part of Ceredigion Museum. We were not disappointed with either the opera or the venue.

Mme Popova is mourning the death of her husband a year ago, vowing to be true to his memory and never to leave the house (although she does list his infidelities and is regularly swigging vodka from a hidden bottle). But a grumpy salesman comes …

Best 6 vineyards to visit in Bordeaux

Bordeaux Wine Experience – Medoc & St-Emilion: Part 2
This 3-night tour included two full days touring vineyards and Grand Cru winemakers in the Medoc and St-Emilion areas of Bordeaux. You would expect a visit to 6 vineyards to be boring by the end – after all, each vineyard looks pretty much like another. Although the basic process of growing vines and making wine is the same, we were fascinated by the touches that made each one unique.

A few basic facts about making wine in this region: -        -  Everything relies on the “terroir” – soil composition, natural environment, drainage
-          -The Medoc was swamp until 17th century when the Dutch helped to drain it and plant vines. Bordeaux was the biggest port after London during 17th and 18th centuries
-It is flat, mainly gravel so ideal for cabernet sauvignon grapes harvested around September. It takes two vines to produce one bottle of wine
-With AOC appellation they are obliged to give % of production to government, so give the…

Best way to experience Wines of Bordeaux

Bordeaux Wine Experience – Medoc & St-Emilion: Part 1
SmoothRed’s Bordeaux Wine Experience certainly lived up to expectations. At first glance, it seems expensive - £754 per person for 3 nights B&B in 3* hotel and two full day tours – but a wine tour locally is around €150 each, and ours included an exceptional lunch at what the guide described as the best restaurant in St-Emilion plus €20 entry ticket to Cite du Vin so overall it really was worth the price.
All arrangements beforehand were efficient and checking-in with EasyJet was the easiest ever. A late flight from Bristol airport on a Friday meant it was 9.30pm local time before we arrived, but the hotel was a good choice in centre of Bordeaux so easy to pop around the corner to find food.

As you would expect for Friday evening, lively crowds of people were out enjoying a beautiful autumn evening sat outside bars and restaurants – just what we needed! A tapas-slate of cured meats and cheese and an excellent bottle of rich, r…

Marco Polo cruise visits

The Marco Polo cruise – France, Spain & Portugal
As this was our first ever cruise, we wanted to make the most of our trip around west coast of France, Spain and Portugal, and the Marco Polo cruise offered a wide range of onshore excursions to pre-book. The Marco Polo cruise ship is ideal for this journey as it is small enough to dock at many ports the larger ships cannot access without having to transfer you via a smaller vessel. We chose to visit Isle de Re in France, Obidos near Lisbon and Oporto city tour with wine tasting in Portugal with just the transfer to the city centre of Bilbao. Lisbon and La Coruna were both within easy walking of the port, so you do not need to book if you want to explore on your own.
La Rochelle and Isle de Re, France
This was a half-day trip to the very pretty, picturesque harbour town at Isle de Re, a popular weekend spot for tourists, with fascinating history over the centuries. It is extremely popular with cyclists of all ages (and abilities from w…
Our first Cruise
Having been to a presentation by Cruise & Maritime Voyages, it became clear that maybe we should try one cruise after all, and their ship Marco Polo was an obvious choice – smaller, less impersonal than the huge ships designed for ocean travel, and best of all, new sailings from Cardiff and Newport in South Wales. With just a little pressure from me, husband Leslie agreed we should try our first cruise (as we must be the only people in our age group never to have tried one). So, we booked for the France, Spain and Portugal 10-day trip from Cardiff.
As we usually only take hand-luggage, we were a bit phased by the need for a suitcase each. Of course, it didn’t take long to fill them up, especially with all the outfits for lounging about/ visiting local towns on day trips/ informal (that is, jacket and tie for the men and a nice little dress for the ladies)/ grand formal wear for two evenings over the 10-day cruise.
The Marco Polo is a smaller cruise ship, with lots…