The Island of Corregidor

An hour on a boat from Manila, bouncing up and down past the fishermen and their huge nets, waving good morning to men floating by in their little boats,  you’ll find the Island of Corregidor.

Fish-Trap-Manilla-Bay-PhilippinesBefore I arrived in the Philippines I had never heard of this beautiful place; steeped in so much history.  After spending a day exploring the ruins, tunnels and statues I feel like I know a little about this incredible island and the battles that took place there.



Corregidor was fortified in order to protect Manila (the most important sea port of the Philippines) and it has played a huge role in the Country’s history since the Spanish invaded in 1570. But it was during World War II when it came into it’s own.

Heavily bombed by the Japanese, the ruins have been left to serve as a military memorial to American, Filipino and Japanese soldiers who lived or indeed died on the island. Mile-Long-Barracks-Corregidor


Historical significance aside, the ruins are absolutely stunning.  The sheer size of the barracks that housed the officers need to be seen to be believed. In fact the Mile-Long Barracks are actually the longest barracks in the world and the fact that only the skeleton of these buildings remains, somehow makes them even more impressive.



But Corregidor has a lot more going for it than ruins – although they are reason enough for a visit.  There is the huge underground fort, whose long, dark tunnels you can explore – although only with a guide – it’s rather dangerous down there.malinta-tunnel-tour-corregidor


Intricate statues and works of art immortalise the fallen and allow us to pay our respects to the men and women who fought for freedom.

Although completely rebuilt in the 1950’s, the lighthouse provides a great view over the island and is now completely solar-powered.

corregidor-island-war-memorial corregidor-memorial-philippines


Once you’ve finished exploring (or when you have to leave to get your ferry) you can grab some lunch at the Island of Corregidor’s only hotel.   

I want to go back, I feel like there is more I need to see and I want Phil to see it too.  But next time I’ll arrange an overnight stay so I can properly explore what this stunning island has to offer.

Asia, Corregidor Island, Philippines, Ruins. WW2



It can be quite hard sometimes to find a place to go day tripping that is a little romantic… but Matlock Bath is certainly one of them.

The drive there is picturesque in itself, but once you get there, it really is rather beautiful (on a practical note I’d suggest parking at the edge of town and walking in)

Matlock Bath


Matlock Bath


Aside from the beautiful walks and river, Heights of Abraham was the main attraction for me, situated on a historic mining site – you start with the cable car ride up the Masson Hill.


Matlock Bath


If you’re thinking that cable car ride has some impressive views, you would be right…


Matlock Bath


The viewing tower is impressive – but please don’t try to come up the tiny narrow staircase when people are coming down… there is a great system of common sense in place, where we all wait our turn – and it’s actually quite dangerous if you don’t! A point I made to the family trying to pass rather than wait 30 seconds. (much to Phil’s embarrassment)


Matlock Bath


Matlock Bath


You must take the tour of the caves – it is beautiful and very interesting – but there are quite a few steps (my unfit self was able to manage it, so most people will be fine,  but it certainly wouldn’t be suitable if you have any issues with walking)


Matlock Bath


What is it about a big No Entry sign that makes me want to go through the door.  I’m such a little rebel!


Matlock Bath


Matlock Bath


We spent a bit of time, just wandering around and enjoying the view…


Matlock Bath

Matlock Bath

We had lunch in the restaurant, which was a modestly priced and very tasty panini and chips and of course an impressive view.

All in all a great day out that I would highly recommend. You can find out more about Heights of Abraham here. And more about Matlock Bath here.

Cave, Derbyshire, Matlock Bath, UK


Painting Dali and Drinking Wine

Since I was a kid,  I’ve told myself that I am not very creative and I’m ‘rubbish at arty stuff’.  But over the last year or so, I’ve been strangely attracted to arts and crafts type things.

When I saw that local company We Love Art were offering the chance to paint a masterpiece and drink wine at the same time, well I was practically jumping for joy.

We Love Art Dubai Wine and Paint Night from Very Hungry Explorer We Love Art Dubai Wine and Paint Night from Very Hungry Explorer

Seeing all the easels lined-up when I arrived, I started to panic that maybe I was far too much of a beginner to do this class. But I wasn’t the only person there who hadn’t picked up a paintbrush in more than 15 years, which made me feel much better!

Denise had already sketched the outline of Dali’s 1931 masterpiece ‘The Persistence of Memory’ onto the canvas, our job was to paint it.

We Love Art Dubai Wine and Paint Night from Very Hungry Explorer

I won’t lie, as an absolute beginner, it was tough going.  I had never so much as held a palette full of paint before, so mixing the colours, blending everything in  and even rinsing out the brushes, took me a while to get to grips with.

It was a strangely intense evening, but one that I thoroughly enjoyed.  I did feel a little rushed towards the end, but I’m happy that I finished my masterpiece in just over three hours.  I’m hoping to attend the next event in September and I’m sure that I’ll be that little bit quicker now that I’ve got the basics down.

We Love Art Dubai Wine and Paint Night from Very Hungry Explorer We Love Art Dubai Wine and Paint Night from Very Hungry Explorer

Denise really couldn’t have been more helpful.  Not only did she talk us through each section of the painting, she also walked around the room, seeing how we were getting on and giving extra help to those that needed it.

Most of the people there, copied (as much as we could) Dali’s work, but others added in their own interpretations as well, which I hope I’ll be able to do once I’m a little more experienced.  My tree does have an extra little branch, which wasn’t quite intentional but ultimately I’m absolutely chuffed with it.

We Love Art Dubai Wine and Paint Night from Very Hungry Explorer We Love Art Dubai Wine and Paint Night from Very Hungry Explorer

I would never have thought I could do something like that in just a few hours.  AND I didn’t even have to leave my seat to get wine!

I came away feeling really rather of proud of myself, relaxed and inspired.  Which is pretty good for an evenings activity.

Monthly Wine and Painting Nights 369AED

//We Love Art

Arts and Crafts Dubai UAE Wine



I wasn’t prepared for my visit to the Douaumont Ossuary, I didn’t know enough about the battle that took place there in WWI. I didn’t understand its’ significance or just how many men died.

It has been 99 years since the battle of Verdun, but as you drive along the winding roads you can still see the devastation. Entire villages were wiped out. The ground is still covered in craters.  Look between the trees and you can see that nature has tried to fix the damage, but it isn’t quite there yet.

Douaumont Ossuary

This isn’t your typical war memorial. The Battle of Verdun lasted for 300 days. Approximately 230,000 men died.  It was known as ‘The Hell of Verdun’ by both sides.

Cloister Douaumont Ossuary

The remains of 130,000 unknown French and German soldiers are kept buried at the Douaumont Ossuary.

Douaumont Tower Stairs

Start your visit by watching the video – it is in French, but you can ask for headphones that will provide the audio in your language.  Then make your way around the Cloister, which is not a happy place.  There is a chapel you can visit (if you’re into that kind of thing), otherwise start climbing the 204 steps to the top of the tower.  Check out the little museum and take in the views over the cemetery. You can then make your way back down and take a look at the graves.

Verdun Cemetery

View from Douaumont Tower

It’s OK to cry.  I cried.

Visit the Douaumont Ossuary website to find out more 

France Metz Military Cemetery Verdun War Memorial



For my first trip to Paris,  I put together a list of all the attractions I wanted to see, the list was so long, there was no way I could see everything on it in the four days that I was there, but I still refer to it each time I find myself back in Paris.

During my last trip, the Musee Rodin was top of the list (as long as there was sunshine), located just round the corner from the Les Invalides, the museum is in a lovely location. It has a new entrance hall and ticket booth that also houses the shop, and allows access to the Museum itself.

View from the Museum

View from the Museum

We paid up and entered the grounds of the town house, which is the same building that Rodin rented as his studio and town home for many years of his life.  The gardens of the house have been developed into a kind of sculpture park, using many of his own works and combining them with beautiful plants and trees to create a quiet oasis in the centre of a bustling city.  The whole garden is enclosed by a high wall which seals it off from the rest of the city and makes it feel almost like a world in itself.

Musee Rodin The ThinkerMusee Rodin The ThinkerWe bought tickets for both the house and garden (you can do either or both) and strolled around the extensive grounds first.  It was spectacular, famous pieces such as the Thinker and the Gates of Hell presented in their own areas, while the orchard at the back houses many of his more personal pieces.

Musee Rodin CollectionIt was thought-provoking, especially the setting for the Gates of Hell, which had been set into one of the boundary walls.  Imagining the gates swinging open and all sorts of horrors pouring out wasn’t difficult!

Musee Rodin Gates of HellMusee Rodin Gates of HellWe spent some time at the formal pond at the rear of the gardens, and then wandered around the house itself which housed some of Rodan’s more delicate work.  To finish off our fabulous trip we had lunch in the café, which serviced amazing quality fresh salads at surprisingly good value prices.

Musee Rodin

Tips for the Rodin Museum:

  • If you are on a budget or have less time, just buy a ticket for the gardens, they are the most spectacular.
  • Have a bite to eat in the café, it’s good value and delicious
  • Spend some time looking at the Gates of Hell sculpture, it’s imposing, highly detailed and a great contrast to the beauty around it
  • Make sure you get a picture of the Eiffel Tower poking over the roof-line at the back of the gardens.  Definitely one of the more unusual ways of taking a picture of the Tower!

Musee Rodin Mills and Boon


Afternoon Tea Bus Tour of London

Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

A tour of Central London, on a traditional red bus WHILST you have afternoon tea.  I discovered that my dream could be a reality whilst reading this post from Jess-On-Thames and new that I had to try it out for myself.

After a stroll through London and a visit to the Tate Modern, I headed to Trafalgar Square with Mum and Niece Ella to climb onboard.

BB Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

Afternoon Tea Sightseeing Tour London

The traditional Routemaster buses were used in London from 1956 to 2005, so it’s lovely that BB Bakery have chosen one for their afternoon tea.  The tables were set and ready for us to get tucked in. The food was fantastic, a great selection of sandwiches, rolls and mini savoury pastries to get us started.  Both the meat-eaters and my veggie self were very happy.

Afternoon Tea London Bus

Afternoon Tea Bus Tour Orange Juice

Afternoon Tea Bus Tour Cups

Soon after we got moving the lovely staff started bringing round tea and coffee in delightful thermal mugs (you can buy one to take home if you wish – which I did, £10)  It was such fun stuffing our faces and watching the highlights of London go passed our windows.

All conversation stopped for a moment when we started eating those cakes.  Talk about bloody lovely, especially the mini key lime pies.

BB Afternoon Tea London

Very Hungry Explorer

Soon after we had finished eating, the scones were brought out with fresh clotted cream and juicy strawberry jam.  They went perfectly with our second cuppa. Don’t be put off if you’re not a fan of hot drinks, there is fresh orange juice available as well.

As far as being a tour goes, there was no live commentary, there was a book on our table to give us information on each major attraction that we went past.  But to be fair I don’t think the Afternoon Tea Bus is really about that.  We were having so much fun chatting and eating, we weren’t really paying that much attention to what was going on outside the window.

Sure we were having a quick glance at London passing by and it was great fun when we pulled up alongside another tour bus – they all seemed very interested in our tea and cakes!  But this was all about the food and the experience of eating a proper afternoon tea on a traditional London bus.

Afternoon Tea Traditional London Bus
BB Bakery Afternoon Tea Bus Tour

This was a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours in London and I would highly recommend it, but not as an alternative to a normal sightseeing bus tour.

You can find out more on the BB Bakery website, seats book up very quickly, so if it’s something that you fancy doing, don’t wait until the last minute.

Tour London UK



Just like the proverbial bus, I’ve gone from having no experience with Airbnb to having two in the same week.    I thought today I’d talk about how it was for me and you can decide whether it’s something you want to try.

Airbnb started back in 2008, when there were no hotel rooms available during a conference in San Francisco and the founders ended up renting out some blow-up mattresses on their apartment floor.  It has now provided accommodation for over 10 million people – obviously it isn’t still just those guys and their blow-up mattresses, it’s like a full-on massive website 😉

You can rent a bed/room/entire apartment or house in 190 cities around the world, it is often cheaper than a hotel (especially if you’re renting a room and sharing a bathroom), plus you can normally use the kitchen of wherever you are staying, which can cut down on the cost of food, maybe do your laundry etc. etc.

All of that is very useful, and can really save you money if you’re going somewhere for longer than a week.  But how did it work for us…


First up, a single night stopover in Dublin, we thought we would try something a little different and stay at an Airbnb place in Malahide; it was right by the sea with breakfast included.  We spent a few minutes researching Malahide, liked what we saw, were impressed that the hosts offered an airport pick-up for just a little extra, so decided to book.

Excitedly we clicked on that submit button and waited for a confirmation.  And waited.  And waited.  Talk about pissing on your strawberries. Turns out that a host has 24 hours to respond to your booking request. I kept checking my email and my airbnb account, but nothing came back from the host. 24 hours later our ‘booking’ was cancelled and we were back to square one. We ended up at the Metro Hotel, (using which was fine, but ultimately was a very disappointing Airbnb experience.

Secondly, a friend of ours booked the accommodation for our New York trip (so he had to deal with the submitting and waiting ;-)).  We went for a loft in Brooklyn which looked great on the photos. But that is where the problems began.  It wasn’t bad in real life, but nowhere near as cool as the photos made it look.  But that wasn’t the main problem.  That started when we turned up at the agreed time to find that the owner was still washing bed linen, towels etc, and hadn’t finished clearing up the place.


After 10 hours of travelling, we were tired and wanted to unpack, jump in the shower and wake ourselves up before we went back out for some exploring and dinner.  Instead; we had to dump our luggage and leave for 3 hours while he finished off. Not an ideal start, and when we returned we found that most of the lighting had blown.  The owner replaced one of the lights, but the others remained dead for the week we were there, despite our texts asking him to sort it.

All in all, not a great experience, and although we saved some money, we were left feeling that for a little more we could have the service, hotel security and cleanliness we wanted.  It didn’t help that the owner warned us not to talk to anyone in a suit as the building management was new and didn’t like anyone subletting their lets.

My final irritation and then I’ll stop, I promise, was that when the owner did return to pick up some stuff, he just let himself in.  This isn’t a big deal, ultimately it’s his apartment and he can come home when he wants, but I do think it is only polite to knock first – he had no idea what we were doing in there (we were eating pizza and playing Cards Against Humanity – so no damage done, but he didn’t know that!)

So, what is our final verdict on Airbnb?

On the Mac

Philip and I book a lot of trips and we have our way of doing it, we like to sit (usually  in the evening) with a glass bottle of wine and we research where we are going, mark out the sites we are most likely to visit while we we are there and then book accommodation based on our budget and what is most convenient. We book it and we get a confirmation straight away, that’s the way we like it.  I know it sounds silly but we don’t want to wait a day and then potentially have to start again.

The website itself is fantastic, but it relies on having good hosts, that respond to messages straight away, list their apartments honestly and look after their guests while they are there, which to me will always make Airbnb a bit of a gamble.

Have you used Airbnb?  Would did you think?  And if you haven’t do you think it’s something that you’d want to try?

Accommodation Dublin USA



Spending the afternoon at a spring festival in the grounds of a 17th century palace – oh go on then.

Unfortunately, what with the winter that wouldn’t end,  the flowers weren’t at all ready to make an appearance, but with such beautiful grounds and water features, it didn’t really matter.

Philip and I spent a good three hours wandering around, wishing that we had taken a picnic.

Chateaux d'Annevoie

Jardin D'Annevoie

Hog Statue Jardin d'Annevoie

The Big Spitter Jardin d'Annevoie

The French Cascade Jardin d'Annevoie



Les Jardins d’Annevoie are near Dinant.  The website is excellent and includes a full map of the gardens as well as directions, prices etc.

If you have a few hours free and the sun is shining then I would recommend you check it out.

Belgium Castle Chateau Gardens Palace



Couscous is so ridiculously versatile, it kind of  puts all other food to shame.  That being said, I tend to think of it as a pretty healthy ingredient, it isn’t something that springs to mind when I think about comfort food – that is usually a cheesy pasta dish.

Well, all that changes now.

Turns out with a bit of cream cheese, you can make the kind of dish that will put a smile on your face at the end of the worst kind of day AND it has a tonne of vegetables in it, so it’s MUCH healthier than macaroni cheese.

This will be on the table or on your lap (I’m not going to judge) in less than an hour.

You’ll want a nice big oven dish, pop the halved tomatoes in the bottom, cut side up and sprinkle on the sliced garlic and fresh basil.  Then scatter around the onion and peppers and dribble olive oil over the top. Take a second to appreciate all those wonderful colours – perfect on a grey February day.

Bake all that for 20 minutes, then carefully remove the tomatoes and pop them to one side (the plastic tongs from IKEA are perfect for this), now sprinkle the couscous over the vegetables and then pour in the vegetable stock. Pop your tomatoes back on top, again with the cut side facing upwards. Bake it all for 10 more minutes

Take your dish back out of the oven (I know, but it’s worth it, trust me) and dot the cream cheese over the top.  If you need to spread it out a bit with the back of your spoon, go for it. Then put it back in the oven for 10 more minutes, by which time the couscous will have absorbed all the stock, and the cheese will be even softer and all warm. And the flavours will have mingled together and the vegetables will be juicy and firm, but not crunchy and life will be good again.

Baked Tomato Couscous Recipe

Serve, sprinkled with lots of fresh black pepper and a green salad on the side. Or bread and butter if that’s the direction you want to go in. Or don’t serve it with anything and just have a double portion of the tomato couscous deliciousness.

Baked Tomato Couscous

Let me know how you get on with it… here is the recipe card thingy:

Baked Tomato Couscous
Author: Michelle – Very Hungry Explorer
Cuisine: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
A delicious way of serving couscous, packed with tasty vegetables. Serve with green salad.
  • 300ml hot vegetable stock
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 125g dried couscous
  • 4 beefsteak tomatoes (or 6 large tomatoes), halved
  • 2 red or green peppers, cut into large pieces
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat the oven to 180c
  2. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, in a deep oven dish
  3. Scatter the basil and garlic over the top of the tomatoes
  4. Add the pepper and onion to the dish, drizzle olive oil over the top of the vegetables
  5. Bake at 180c for 20 minutes
  6. Remove the tomatoes from the oven dish and set aside
  7. Add the couscous to the vegetables and pour in the vegetable stock
  8. Put the tomatoes back in the dish, on top of the couscous (cut side up)
  9. Bake for 10 minutes
  10. Dot the cream cheese over the top of the dish
  11. Bake for a further 10 minutes
  12. Serve immediately
  13. Season to taste with salt and black pepper






You can see the spires of St. Vitus’s Cathedral from all around the centre of Prague. As you walk into the main area of Prague Castle it is smack bang in front of you and is incredibly impressive.

Although work started on the Cathedral in 1344, the baroque looking entrance and spires weren’t finished until 1929.  If you look closely at the windows on the front façade, you will see men in suits!

There are a number of Royal tombs inside including the tomb of “Good King” Wenceslas, which if you are anything like me, will have you singing the bloody Christmas Carol all day long.

St. Vitus’s is huge and beautiful and is without a doubt the highlight of Prague Castle.  You can enter the main area for free, but if you want to access all of the Cathedral you’ll need a ticket.

I did feel that St. Vitus’s was a little crammed in by the rest of the buildings in the Castle, I think if it has been alone it would have been even more impressive.

Anyway, enough of all these words – let’s get to the pictures!

St Vitus Cathedral Prague

St Vitus Cathedral Prague

St Vitus Cathedral Prague

St Vitus Cathedral Prague

St Vitus Cathedral Prague

St Vitus Cathedral Prague

St Vitus Cathedral Prague



St Vitus Cathedral Prague

St Vitus Cathedral Prague


St Vitus Cathedral Prague


Have you been to St. Vitus’s before?  Was it the highlight of Prague Castle for you?  

Czech Republic