Category Archives: And beyond

Traveling While Hungry

One of the first things I do when planning a trip is to explore to culinary offerings where ever I am going. Food and travel are my two favourite ‘past times’ and I combine them whenever possible.

Lately, I have another way to combine them. These days, I am quite often found – on a Monday morning – down at the Puritans Radio studio talking with Peter Evan Jones about food on the ‘Jones on Food and Travel’ program.¬† On a recent Monday, my topic was food worth traveling for. CNN Travel made some bizarre choices – including ketchup (not a food, in my opinion, much less a food worth traveling for), buttered popcorn (another head scratcher) and potato chips (honestly?) which is what prompted this segment.

What food is so good that you would tackle traffic, airport lines and baggage restrictions to reach it? And yes, my better half – I mentioned the tapas from Bar Pinotxo in La Boqueria in Barcelona. ūüôā When do we leave?

If you’re a fan of food and/or travel, the show is on every Monday from 10-12 (UK time) and I will be posting links to past programs¬† for those who prefer to catch it later on. This week’s whole show can be heard at

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Summer Holiday @ Domaine Des Ormes

Greetings from the Greater Gotham summer desk. What makes it a summer desk as opposed to a normal desk? The extra big glass of iced coffee. And the fact that it is covered with notes about my summer holiday.

This year’s summer holiday was – like last year – a trip to one of the many Eurocamp locations and also like last year, in France. Last year we went to La Pointe St. Gilles in¬†B√©nodet (a mid-sized site with lovely coastal location just a short stroll into an equally lovely town).

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This year we ditched the coast and went a bit more inland to Domaine Des Ormes which was … well, it was big. Quite large, full of activities of all kinds and I must say extremely well laid out.

Our initial approach had both dungeekin and I a bit concerned – throngs of people, lots of noise and loud music but as it turns out, the main gate at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon (a naturally busy time of week and day) is not indicative of the rest of the week or the rest of the site. The “town centre” area where the shops, pools, eateries and many of the activities are located IS often thronged with people and any family campsite of that size will have noise. But because that is all located together and the “residential areas” are a short walk away, you don’t get the noise “in the burbs” as it were.

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So – the cabin (we got an Espirit 2 bed/1 bath) mobile home was tidy and well equipped. Oddly, we both agreed that the living areas was not as well laid out as the one from ourt previous year’s classic mobile home. As the Espirit is a bit of an upgrade, you’d have thought it would be a bit roomier (and technically, maybe it was) but because of the layout – it didn’t feel that way. It was perfectly adequate and the kitchen was MUCH better than the one last year. The space issue was just worth noting as we make our plans for next year.

The activities covered a lot and offered something for everyone:

  • swimming (with choice of pools)
  • zip lining (no I did not try it – I considered it quite seriously but then the weather went to hell and I didn’t feel like my first go should be in the rain).
  • kids clubs (which Sprog made excellent use of most days – and a feature I think Eurocamp really excels at)
  • adventure course (which we thought was particularly well designed and laid out – three courses in one really. One for kids, one for teens and one for adults.)

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  • mini-golf (I won, thank you very much)
  • archery (which the menfolk enjoyed and which – after an initially wobbly start, both seemed to have an eye for)
  • Also pony rides, cycle hire, golf, tennis, a corn maze, Segway rides, paintball

I’m sure I missed a few but suffice to say there is a lot on offer to keep everyone from toddlers to teen to mom and dad happy. Some of the other things worth noting:

  • the convenience shop is quite well stocked and the areas in front of it hosts quite a nice a weekly market (which sounds odd until you realize there is a good-sized village worth of people onsite.
  • The gift/souvenir shop came through when we needed a deck of cards but also has all the usual stuff such a shop should have.
  • The staff at reception were always helpful and cheerful.
  • We ate mostly at home but did have dinner at the pizzeria/cafe a couple of times (first day when we hadn’t gotten to the shops yet and one day while Sprog was going to be “away” for dinner. Perfectly nice food. Was it fine dining? No but there were two other restaurants for that and that isn’t out thing on these holidays. pizza and roast chicken suit us just fine.
  • We did frequent the ice cream cabana a few times – a) it’s summer holiday and ice cream cones are what that is all about and b) it is located right next to a lovely waterside seating area where you watch and feed the ducks or enjoy the yelps and laughter of people cable skiing (they get pulled along a zip line while water skiing or sitting in an inner tube). I think the yelping is part of the fun.

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  • As it is such a big site, there are plenty of opportunities for nature walks – and lots of nature to see. We saw quite a lot of birds – the barn swallows were particularly entertaining.

With a site so large and so well supplied with stuff to do, we didn’t really do as many sight seeing day trips as we did last year. We did go to Saint Malo to walk to ramparts, take in the views and have lunch. The weather was GLORIOUS – ironically since we’d decided to make the trip during the overcast morning, thinking the weather wouldn’t be pool-friendly. But it cleared up while we were there.

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We also went to the Grand Aquarium during another drizzly day. Amazingly well presented and curated. A particular delight was the “submarine ride” – which is basically a log ride but instead of a log, you are in your own submersible.

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We’ll definitely be heading off to another Eurocamp for Summer Holiday 2017 – maybe even returning to Les Ormes – since once again, they provided everything you need to have whatever kind of holiday you want.

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Looking Around Lichfield

A few weeks ago, we took a “staycation” and ended up doing more sightseeing and exploring than we have done on many trips to far more distant locales. It was fabulous. I’ll be writing it all up (been slack on that, I know) but in the meantime, a summation of our day trip to Lichfield, Staffordshire, UK. That’s without a “t” for those of you who might confuse it with Litchfield, CT.

It was as lovely as I had heard it would be. The people were delightful, the cathedral impressive and full of helpful guides, the streets and sidewalks almost bizarrely tidy and we experienced what may have been the world’s greatest chips at Pom’s Kitchen & Deli.

Until I get a chance to go into more detail, have some pics from one of the lovelier days (all pics courtesy of and belong to dungeekin, Modern Parlance’s fave photog)

Summer in Brittany

We wandered over to Britanny – lounged about, saw Benodet, Quimper, Oceanopolis Aquarium in Brest and Parc Branfere, did more lounging. Many pictures were taken (dungeekin was a camera fiend and all these pictures are courtesy of and belong to him) but these are some of my favourites.

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Chocolate Cherries, Quimper

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Beach Huts

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Holiday Ice Cream

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Shared Solitude

Take Note of Americans Abroad

I’ve often observed that people of different nations and cultures vacation VERY differently. The word vacation is one way – Europeans “holiday” and “go on holiday.” Americans go “on vacation” and almost always as a noun, less so as a verb. But never mind. We can overcome these minor cultural differences and learn from each others.

This was the idea behind my latest piece “We think… we could learn a thing or two from American tourists” – it’s part of the We think …¬† opinion series in The Club, a monthly digital magazine sent to British Airways’ Executive Club members.

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So take note of the Americans abroad. If you look beyond the cliches (and aren’t there cliches about all sorts of tourists?) and you might learn something about maximizing your vacation experience.

March in Marrakech

Marrakech Рone of many places I never considered as a holiday destination until I moved to the UK and found them within easier reach (logistically) than from the States. So, when we found a great all inclusive deal to Marrakech Рoff we went. Me with my ebooks and dungeekin with his camera.  All pictures courtesy of and belong to him.

Echoes of Gotham

Lots happening, lots happening and that is – in part – why there has been a delay since my last post. More details to come on all that but in the meantime, I went to Scotland on a road trip and look what I found!

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Hilarious! Not in Scotland (we hadn’t gotten there at that point in the trip) but on the way up via Scarborough. Also on the way up, I found a bookstore that had me homesick for The Strand (though I admit, this one had a lovely cafe as well and the space was spectacular. It’s called Barter Books in Alnwick¬† and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

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I’ll be posting some more details on the roadtrip soon but I just HAD to share these two finds.

The Delicious Delights of Daylesford

When I was living in New York City, I always made a point of popping in at the greenmarkets – usually the Union Square Farmer’s Market as it’s quite sizable and meant I was almost sure to find something I wanted but occasionally at the smaller ones. There was one in a school yard – on 70th or 69th between 1st and York, quite close to home that I perused now and again. There was some quite good bread there but the jams and veggies at Union Square always drew me back down there.

Of course, it’s a bit far for me to go these days but I have a new version of “going to the greenmarket” and that is “popping to the farm shop. I’d seen mention of Daylesford Farm Shop and wanted to check it out so – as we had a free day and it’s only a short drive (the area is AWASH in farm shops), off we went. It’s a whole complex – farm shop, cafe, cookery school, “wellness center” and it was all beautifully laid out and presented. The prices for some stuff – not everything – made us gasp but it was top notch stuff, no question and while I wouldn’t do my regular shop there, that’s not what it’s for. It’s special occasion, company is coming stuff.

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GORGEOUS stuff and very well thought out. The prepared stuff looked delicious as well. The bakery almost had me at hello. As did the world’s most gorgeous brioche. Next time I’ll fill you in on some of the more “everyday” farm shops but this was too yummy a visit not to share.

Back Garden and Beyond

First – the back garden: The edges in back garden a bit clearer now. Is it perfect? No. But it is tidy & I can sit out & enjoy it without thinking, “oh, I should …” I am willfully ignoring the front (easy to do since I rarely if ever use the front door) until such time as we can acquire some shrubs to replace the weird, half dead bank of lavender put in by the previous owners. I weed it to keep the place from looking abandoned and the lawn is mowed regularly but actual landscaping? It’s gonna wait.

The Beyond? Well, isn’t it funny? The UK and Europe used to be the “beyond” but now, going back to Gotham (even London on occasion) has become “beyond – as in Beyond Banbury. That may (and probably should) trigger a re-branding of the blog. I shall think about it. But yes, I’m headed back to Gotham and all points tri-state for a visit next week. Here’s hoping the weather is good ’cause I have a Manhattan rooftop cookout to attend.

And now, two public service announcements of a ‘beyond’ nature

1) It is June 19th and that means it is MARTINI DAY! I have expounded on the strong views held on the subject beyond the confines of this blog but Martini Day is big enough for many blogs! Cheers!

2) In case any of you Stateside are planning a bit of London-type beyond yourself and were thinking about some kitschy, touristy fun – it entirely possible that you came across mention of The London Dungeon. Having just returned there for the first time MANY years, I have some thoughts to share on the subject. It has DEFINITELY evolved from those early, early days as a museum of the macabre. Sad to say the floating holographic heads of Henry VIII’s wives are no more. It’s now part water and fair ground ride, part comedy show, part haunted-house. It has moments of real interest (the hall of mirrors was AWESOME) but too many long walks along darkened corridors with nothing but dark to recommend them and waiting around. Oh and if you have ANY sensitivity to odor, smells or incense? DO NOT GO. I am not overly sensitive to these things and even I was about the claw my way through the walls to get to the fresh air.

Finally, I found this beyond funny. Transatlantic Towers is home to Miss Thing, a white feline of style, grace and boundless cute. The other day, it occurred to me that a) I had not seen her in a while and b) that despite it being June, it was a bit chilly and I wanted a jacket or hoodie as the evening set in. I found Miss Thing. And the jacket I wanted. That’s where the trouble started.

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Miss Thing: You cannot see me
Me: OK, that’s fine but I need my jacket
Miss Thing: You cannot see me
Me: Yes, yes – fine! But I see the jacket.

 

June “What’s On in NYC” Round Up

Big doings in Banbury this weekend – it’s the Banbury & District Show in Spiceball Park. Never been and don’t quite know what to expect but as a new(ish)resident, I feel I ought to go and check it out. Meanwhile, back in Gotham this weekend (June 11-12) is the 11th edition of the Big Apple BBQ Block Party. Now that I’ve been to (quite a few times) and I can highly recommend going if you are a BBQ fan (as I am).

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Also happening this weekend – the Egg Rolls & Egg Creams Festival (hosted by the Museum at Eldridge Street which is housed in the former Eldridge Street Synagogue). The Festival, a colorful block party, is “a cross-cultural celebration of the Jewish and Chinese communities of our Lower East Side/Chinatown neighborhood.”

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Later in the month – grab your inner Gatsby and get out to Governors Island for the next Jazz Age Lawn Party (June 15-16). I’m a fan of the music and era (not the recent movie, it must be said but then I am clearly not alone as almost any of the reviews reveal). And of course, I adore Governors Island. It’s one of the best things about summer in New York City – one my favorite quick “still in the city but get out of the city” day trips and one I made (and make) whenever the chance presents itself. Even the ferry terminal is gorgeous.

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Gov Island Ferry Terminal (Manhattan water side)

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Gov Island Ferry Terminal (interior water side)

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View of Manhattan from the Ferry heading to Gov Island

On June 18 (2016), head towards the water again but this time to Coney Island for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade.

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So, there’s no excuse for sitting around the house. Lots going on. I’ll report in from the Banbury Show next week but I want a FULL report on the BBQ and egg creams from folks on the other side. Deal?