5 Inspirational Places to Visit

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Do you ever have that moment when you travel; it’s a little pause,  like your subconscious saying that this is a good thing right here and it is going to file it away somewhere safe for you to reflect upon in the future.

I tend to find that right after those moments are when I am most inspired,  an idea will pop into my head and it seems so very obvious, I really can’t understand why I haven’t thought of it before.

Here are some of the most inspiring trips I’ve taken. In no particular order…

Thailand River Kwai1. Sailing down the River Kwai in Thailand

Thailand is a beautiful country, but the day that sticks in my mind most from my trip back in 2007, is our boat ride down the River Kwai. After touring a military cemetery in 40◦c heat, speeding down the River Kwai was a welcome relief, the beautiful scenery, the cooling breeze, knowing just what had happened on that river 60 years earlier, was an incredibly calming experience. In fact in that moment, I decided that no matter what else I did in my life, I wanted to travel, I wanted to see the world. Talk about an inspiring moment.

2. Strolling along canals in Venice

I pretty much defy anyone not to be inspired by Venice. The history, the architecture, it is a beautiful City. The most inspiring site however is early in the morning, when the mist rises over the Grand Canal, and you can watch the domes of the churches across the water poking above it. Before the tourists arrive, and after they leave, Venice is one of the most inspiring and picture perfect places I’ve ever been.

3. Train journey from Fez to Marrakech

As wonderful as both Fez and Marrakech were, it was the seven hour train journey between the two that I found the most inspiring during my trip. Sat in a first class carriage the huge windows gave great views of the amazing scenery of Morocco. After finishing the novel I was reading (reading for pleasure, how very decadent!), I pulled out my notepad and made plans, by the time I arrived in Marrakech, I had come up with a whole new business idea and written the business plan and plans of action for as soon as I got home.

Husky Ride Alaska

4. A Husky ride in Alaska

Fairbanks is breathtakingly beautiful, especially at Christmas when it is freezing cold and everything is covered in snow that sparkles like diamonds. Sitting tucked-up in a sledge, being pulled by 8 huskies was an amazing experience. You are racing along, but there is no engine, so all you can hear

is the padding of the dogs feet. It felt like something out of the Chronicles of Narnia and will stay with me for a very long time.

SONY DSC

5. Watching the sun set on the Charles Bridge, Prague

There is a reason why so many tourists head straight to the Charles Bridge when they arrive in Prague. It is a masterpiece. Time it right and you will be able to watch the sun set among the statues that line each side, which if you’re with a loved one is very romantic, but if you’re on your own, will bring a level of calmness that I’ve struggled to find anywhere else. This kind of relaxation and peacefulness is very hard to find and leaves a lasting impression.

The Week of a VHE: a LOT of food and a castle

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One of the reasons behind my blog has always been to keep track of my shenanigans and let my family and friends know that I’m not rocking back and forth in a foreign country with a teapot in one hand and a packet of dark chocolate Hobnobs in the other, pining for England.

And so I give you a round-up of my week… the good stuff anyway… I’m not going to tell you when I’m doing my ironing or putting the rubbish out!

18th – 24th July

Friday: This week got of to a very good start with ‘Frunch’ at BIP. If you’re wondering what on earth I’m talking about, let me explain.  BIP is an impressive building on the Place Royal.  It is the home of the Brussels Regional Government, there is an exhibition (which I haven’t seen yet) meeting rooms you can hire and all sorts of other bips and bobs (sorry) going on.

If you head to the courtyard on a Friday lunchtime you’ll also find a selection of food trucks, a bar and a DJ. This is running until 26th September and is really rather cool!   I headed over to check it out with the wonderful Alison of Cheeseweb.

Urban Cook at Frunch

We went for burgers from Urban Cook; €9.50 for a gourmet burger of your choice, fries and a dipping sauce.  I went for the truffle burger with mushroom and bacon (seriously good) with the roq sauce, which was deliciously cheesy and the frites were crunchy and tasty.

The bar area is separate, but offers a selection of soft drink, wine, beer and cocktails and reasonable prices.  The whole ‘Frunch; experience had a wonderful atmosphere and it is definitely a fun way to lunch.

Sunday: Maxine and HIM invited us to their lovely place for a BBQ.  We had such a good time, but with such wonderful company, food and entertainment it is hardly surprising.

Maxine BBQ

Monday: A National Holiday (I keep calling them Bank Holidays and the non-Brits get confused), so Philip and I headed into Luxembourg to check out Clervaux Castle.   There will be a full post coming about that soon!

Clervaux Castle

Tuesday: As it has been at least two weeks since my last visit to Bia Mara, Philip and I thought we should go see how they are doing! As usual we enjoyed delicious fish and chips with red slaw, truffle mayo and a beer – although this time, we managed to grab a table on their terrace, so that was nice.

Bia Mara Brussels

We then went to the movies, I remembered that the trailer for A Million Ways To Die in the West looked funny so I suggested we see that.  Philip did seem a little surprised, but went with it anyway.  As it started and Seth MacFarlane appeared on the screen, I realised my mistake.  I won’t lie there were a few moments in the movie that were genuinely laugh-out-loud funny, there were also a lot of truly dreadful scenes that made me want to hide under my chair.  And that is all I’m going to say about that.

Thursday: I made my monthly pilgrimage to Stonemanor to stock up on tea.  They didn’t have any of my favourite Earl Grey with lavender – pah – so I bought a MASSIVE pork pie to make up for it and some sausages.  Don’t judge. At least I didn’t buy faggots this time.

There you go, a bit of a strange mix this week.  What did you get up to?

I’m taking part in the Daily Diaries Link-up this week… find out more at TheLotusCreative.com 

Mustard Tarragon Chicken from The Newlyweds’ Cookbook

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After years of neglecting my little stack of cookbooks, I’m going to work my way through the pile, one book at a time, making a dish from each one and sharing it with you.

The second book in the pile is The Newlyweds’ Cookbook, Philip and I did indeed receive this as a wedding gift and it really is a great book.  I don’t understand what it has to do with being married, but as a cookbook it has a great mixture of EVERYTHING.  Like a list of the kitchen store-cupboard essentials, quick meals, special dinners, desserts and drinks; there really is something here for everyone.

The Newlyweds' Cookbook

The only thing that does niggle me about this book is that not all the recipes have pictures with them and I personally l like to have an idea of what the finished dish should look like.

I picked up a jar of Tomato Mustard while I was in Monschau, so I thought I would give the Mustard Tarrargon Chicken a go.

The dish itself is really light and healthy.  You can easily replace the bread with more veg if you want to, or you could have chips instead!

 

Tarragon Chicken

 

This is the first time I’ve poached chicken like this, I usually fry it and I was surprised at just how tasty it was, especially with the fresh tarragon.

 

Mustard Tarragon Chicken from The Newlyweds' Cookbook
Author: 
Recipe type: Quick Dinner
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Chicken is excellent poached in stock - the result is rich but healthy. Keep the leftover stock in the recipe to use another time.
Ingredients
  • 4 large sprigs of tarragon
  • 2 litres of chicken or vegetable stock
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 125g salad leaves (eg. rocket)
  • crusty bread, to serve
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Strip the tarragon leaves from the stalks, reserve the leaves and put the stalks in a large saucepan. Add the stock and cover the pan with a lid. Bring to the boil, then remove the lid and reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer, so the stock is barely moving.
  2. Put the chicken breasts between 2 pieces of clingfilm and using a rolling pin, flatten each piece to 1cm thickness. Remove and discard the clingfilm.
  3. Put the flattened chicken breasts in the stock and poach gently for about 15 minutes until firm to the touch and cooked through, with no trace of pink in the middle. Drain, reserving the stock for another recipe, and let the chicken cool a little. (The stock can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month.)
  4. Meanwhile, coarsely chop the tarragon leaves and put them in a mini-blender. Add all the dressing ingredients and 1 teaspoon water and blend until smooth.
  5. Slice the chicken diagonally into thin strips. Divide the salad leaves among 4 large plates and top with the slices of chicken. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately with crusty bread.

 

So, let me know how you get on with it!

A Day in Dinant

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Church and Citadel Dinant

Everyone who comes to visit us in Brussels gets taken to Dinant, it is without a doubt my favourite daytrip destination in Belgium.

There is more than enough there to keep you entertained for a whole day, regardless of the weather.

Start at the Citadel. There are two reasons, firstly the views over the River Meuse and Dinant are incredible. Secondly there is free parking – hooray!

Citadel View Dinant

View over River Meuse Dinant

 

Make your way down into Dinant – you can either walk down the 400+ steps (with the other crazy people) or you can get the cable car,which is great fun.

 

Cable Car and 400 Steps Citadel Dinant

 

Once you hit the ground (make sure you keep your ticket for the way back up) go right and head into the impressive Church of Our Lady.

Our Lady Church Dinant

Church of Our Lady DInant

Then it is time for a stroll and maybe a drink.  If you head right and passed the church there are lots of lovely little cafes and bars on the river – these can get very busy when the weather is nice, but it is worth the fight to find a table somewhere.

Or head left after the church – down to the river and there are lots of options there too.

Dinant Belgium

 

After a stroll along the Meuse, you should get yourself on a boat and check out Dinant from a different angle – there are lots of options, but I like the simplicity of the boat tour that leaves from Quay 5, it is a 45 minute trip that will show you the basics and only costs €7.50. You can find out more and see lots of pictures here.

 

 

Kayak River Meuse Dinant

River Meuse Dinant

Saxophone Bridge Dinant

 

When you’ve finished messing about on the river – stroll around the village, drink beer or have a nose in the shops.  Make sure you check out the Saxophone bridge.  Adolphe Sax, who invented the saxophone came from Dinant and you’ll see a lot of jazz references around the town.   See if your country has a saxophone on the bridge.

 

Adolphe Sax Bridge Dinant

Saxophone Dinant

Make sure you keep an eye on the time as the last cable car back up is at 4.30pm and they won’t wait for you!

When you’re back at the Citadel, it is worth checking out.  I don’t think enough is being made of it, but it’s still nice to explore and take more pictures of that view.   There are tours you can follow included in the entry price, but make sure you ask about languages, as there weren’t any English tours available when we went.

Citadel Dinant Belgium

 

Check out the views from the gift shop and you can buy a replica catapult and all sorts of other weapons from the little cafe.

So far everyone we have taken to Dinant has loved it – or they were being polite and just pretending!

Let me know if you go and what you think.

Travel Tuesday

The Week of a VHE: Food Trucks, King Kong and Baking

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One of the reasons behind my blog has always been to keep track of my shenanigans and let my family and friends know that I’m not rocking back and forth in a foreign country with a teapot in one hand and a packet of dark chocolate Hobnobs in the other, pining for England.

And so I give you a round-up of my week… the good stuff anyway… I’m not going to tell you when I’m doing my ironing or putting the rubbish out!

11th – 17th July

Friday: I headed to the Workshop Cafe for a quick coffee and catch-up with Yvonne, who is going to be organising a Travel Massive event for Brussels – very exciting!

On the laptop a little later I stumbled across a notice about Brussel Danst (Brussels Dance) which was being held to celebrate the ‘Day of the Flemish Community’  It all dates back to the ‘Battle of the Golden Spurs’ which happened on 11th July 1302.  In a nutshell the Flemish beat the French (against all odds) and now there is a day to celebrate and commemorate the dead.

Place de la Monnaie Brussel Danst

The dancing that we saw was amazing and the whole atmosphere around Place de la Monnaie was really nice.  But really I was there for the food trucks (hooray) and the bar.

Food Trucks Brussel Danst

We started at the interestingly named ‘Truck You’ which is actually more about the trucks than the food – it seems they can turn a truck into anything you want they were also serving… Chicken over Rice New York Style.  As Philip and I are starting to plan our trip to NY in September, we wanted to give this a try.  It was very tasty, could have perhaps done with a little more sauce, but otherwise it was well seasoned with crispy toppings and was perfect to share.

Truck You Chicken Over Rice

Then we moved onto one of the smallest ‘trucks’ there, with the most interesting sounding menu… we were going to share a Lamb Souvlaki with tzatziki in pita from Greece on Wheels, but they were so good, we ended up with one each!  The meat was juicy and tasty, the tzatziki perfectly sharp, the cucumber and tomato fresh and crisp.  Oh it was sooooo good, seriously, I want another one right now!

Greece On Wheels

Thursday: Time for a good old chin wag with my pals Maxine and Alison. We started off with wine at Oeno TK and then made our way to King Kong; a Peruvian restaurant that has recently opened in the Saint-Gilles area of Brussels.  It really wasn’t what I expected; you order at the counter on your way in, then take your drink to the back of the restaurant and choose a table and they’ll bring your food over to you. The decor was lovely, but most of the attention seemed to have been paid to the outdoor area, which didn’t have any tables in.

The food was delicious though, I went for a ‘hot sandwich’ with roast ham, which came with lots of lovely extras like sweet potato, red onion, lettuce and a creamy dressing.  I went for potatoes on the side, which came with a tasty dipping sauce.  King Kong also have their own beer, which was very refreshing.

King Kong Brussels

I would go back, but for a casual lunch, rather than dinner.

I spent the rest of the week, either on my laptop working or in the kitchen cooking, I have some recipes to share with you over the next few weeks, but here are a couple to keep you going!

Chocolate and Raspberry Loaf Cake

I was looking for a recipe that would let me use the Mortimer Dark Chocolate Powder I received from FBC14,  and as soon as I  saw this recipe from Flourishing Foodie, I knew I had to try it.  I followed her recipe exactly and it was DELICIOUS, the dark chocolate and the sweetness of the raspberries making a perfect combination.  I would suggest that you click through to the site and make it for yourself. 

Chocolate and Raspberry Loaf

Portuguese Black Eyed Bean and Tuna Salad

As I spent most of the week scoffing chocolate cake, I wanted to try and get a little balance, so I had a go at this tasty little number from Maxine at Why I Am Not Skinny.  I had the leftovers for lunch the next day, with feta cheese in a wrap.  Bloody Lovely. I did exactly as Maxine told me, so go check it out.

Black Eyed Pea Salad

So there you go, LOTS of food this week!

 

I’m taking part in the Daily Diaries Link-up this week… find out more at TheLotusCreative.com 

Travel Plans Over The Summer (and beyond)

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I just spent five minutes trying to come up with a summer related blog title… something to do with boys of summer or summer lovin’ or something like that then I thought; ‘no Michelle, you are better than that, just use a normal title for once’

Anyway,

As the weather in Brussels has been warm now for three days in a row, I do indeed declare it bloody summer.

And what are my plans for summer?  Not a hell of  lot at the moment.  I don’t like hot weather and I definitely don’t like people, so my instincts tell me to stay from most popular tourist spots!  You’re far more likely to find me in a nice air-conditioned museum, frowning at noisy children, or indeed in a pub.

Bamburgh

Bamburgh

 

So far, I have a little trip to Northumberland planned with my in-laws for the end of July/beginning of August.  I’ve been before and it is an incredibly beautiful part of the world, so I’m actually really looking forward to heading back. If you’re not familiar with the area, Northumberland is just below Scotland, so thankfully there are no guarantees that the weather will be nice – hooray for grey skies!!

Then at the end of the August/beginning of September, I’ll be exploring Nantes at the Travel Bloggers Unite conference. I haven’t spent a lot of time in Western France, so I’m really looking forward to this.

The rest of summer will be spent in and around Belgium and I’d really like your suggestions of where I should go and what I should see.  Do you have a favourite day trip, castle, museum, art gallery that I need to check out?  I’m going to pop to Liechtenstein for a weekend, but otherwise, I’m all ears!

Don’t worry, I’ve got a lot of trips organised for when the horrid summer is over (yes I know, I’m a miserable cow); I’ll be exploring New York in September, Athens in October, Dubai in November and hopefully Istanbul in December.

What are your plans this summer?  Are you happy to see the sun, or are you looking up destinations that are cold this time of year?

 

 

Pasta at Smoods and Two Years an Expat

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When I arrived at Smoods for a debrief session with the rest of the #BxlFF team, I instantly remembered the first time I ate there, two years ago, on my first night in Brussels.

Wednesday 27th June 2012… We were meeting the removal firm at our new apartment at 8am the next day and we decided to spend our first night as expats, at the gorgeous Hotel Bloom.

We were nervous, we were excited, we were already exhausted and knowing that the next day would involve hours of unpacking boxes, we ventured out no further for dinner than the  hotel restaurant…  we ate pasta, with mushrooms, chorizo, olives, onion, garlic and parmesan on top, it was €9.99.

This brings us back to the present. I remembered that I’d forgotten our second expat anniversary, because I’d been too busy planning our trip to Denmark or more likely because I’m feeling pretty comfortable here now.  I love the challenges, the language, the differences in culture, the fact that there is so much to do and we have the whole of Europe on our doorstop.

In the entire two years we’ve been here, I’ve had one bout of homesickness.  It came completely out of the blue, hit me like an anvil, leaving me a snivelling wreck and then just as quickly it passed and I drank a peach beer and life was good again.

So, back to the food. During the Summer, Smoods only has a pasta and salad menu.  So, once again I was putting together my own dish. Although things have changed somewhat.  Firstly the service wasn’t as great, being quite abruptly informed that we would have to pay for everything up front – including drinks, which is fine if you’re in a pub, but we thought we were in a restaurant.

Smoods Summer Menu Brussels

 

The pasta has gone up ever so slightly in price (which is to be expected), but also the choices were much more limited.  Choosing between meat and fish, fair enough – but I really don’t think that cheese should be included in that…  A little sprinkling of grated parmesan is often what makes pasta spectacular.

Also, I understand what they are doing by having you choose your own seasoning, but I think it should be additional option, rather than included with the vegetables.  I mean how much garlic are they going to put in the dish to justify it being one of my four ingredient choices?!

Pasta at Smoods Brussels

The food arrived quickly and although Maxine had the cheese missing out of hers (which was quickly remedied) the food was very nice.  Nothing amazing, but perfectly pleasant and at €10.50 a bowl, it certainly makes Smoods one of the more affordable dining options in the City.

The rest of Hotel Bloom, is quite frankly, excellent and with a few minor tweaks, Smoods could be too.

Have you tried the pasta menu? What did you think?

Not at all Sleepless in Seattle!

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I found some draft posts hidden away in a folder on my server – I don’t know how they got there and why I never published them, but never mind… I’m on the case now!

This is from a trip I took a few years ago, before I started to get serious about photography, which is why the pictures aren’t up to their normal standard.  Anyway…  I thought I’d go with it…

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Our flight from Anchorage to Seattle arrived at 6.30am, we were a little worried that our hotel wouldn’t let us check in that early and that we’d be stuck wandering round Seattle with yesterday’s knickers on.

Luckily the Edgewater on Pier 67 is fabulous and not only did they have a room ready for us straight away but the lovely receptionist gave us a free upgrade.  This hotel is completely stunning – we had a bathroom made entirely of slate, a fireplace, a four-poster bed made from wood and a private balcony over-looking the bay.
Edgewater Hotel Seattle

Unfortunately all the travel and the flight took its toll on us and meant that we spent the majority of our first day chilling out in the room (but when your hotel is that gorgeous surely that is allowed?), managing to get it together in the afternoon for a wander around Pike Place Market.

How amazing is Pike Place Market – I mean, seriously… the smells, the colours, the sounds… if it wasn’t for the fact that Philip kept tutting at me and giving me lots of subtle reminders that our suitcases were full and that it’s very difficult to get fresh food through customs, I would have spent an absolute fortune!
Pike Place Market Seattle

I had a huge coffee from the first ever Starbucks and we bought the most amazing cheesecakes from a little shop just off the market.  I had mint chocolate and quadruple chocolate (this thing was just delicious, I have never tasted anything so chocolately in my entire life and it wasn’t too rich) and Philip had peanut butter and chocolate and triple berry (can I just point out that he doesn’t ever eat Peanut butter at home, but as soon as we got to the States he couldn’t seem to stop eating it!)

The weather was really quite misty and spitting with rain for our whole trip, which was a shame, but didn’t stop us from doing most of the things that we wanted to.  We started with the Sculpture Garden before walking up the biggest hill ever, stopping only for absolutely amazing Sushi on the way up and then visiting the Space Needle – we spent ages taking pics from the top and had coffee – the gift shop at the bottom is fabulous and I spent far too much time and money in there.

Space Needle Seattle

Looking at my trusty map I could see that by taking the mono rail we would end up near Macy’s so we did that and after a bit more shopping we wandered back through Pike Place and onto the Ferry.  The views of Seattle from the ferry are just breath-taking.  It reminded us a bit of the water bus in Venice and it’s weird how sometimes taking public transport allows you to see the best sights!

Seattle Skyline

Dinner at a gorgeous fish restaurant finished off our trip to Seattle and although it was only a brief stop to explore Downtown I hope we’ll be able to go back and check out other parts of the City.

Meatless Monday: Stuffed Peppers with Rice & Pine Nuts from 101 Seasonal Treats

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I can’t remember the last time I used an actual recipe book, rather than Pinterest or food blogs.   But all that changed recently when I found a box of my Mum’s old cookery books tucked away in her shed. (I’ll go into that more next week).

Having been nice and inspired, I dug out my own stash of cookery books and I’m going to work my way through the pile, one book at a time, making a dish from each one and sharing it with you.

On the top of the pile (for no other reason that it was the smallest) is 101 Seasonal Treats, which was edited by Lulu Grimes who is also the editor of Olive Magazine.

Split into the four seasons, each section features a number of recipes that use the food which is ‘in season’ and should be easy to get hold of, during those months.

Stuffed Peppers with rice pinenuts and dill from 101 Seasonal Treats

I went straight to Summer (obviously) and decided to go with the ‘Stuffed Peppers with rice, pine nuts and dill’.

This was the first time I have ever actually cooked with pine nuts which seems incredible as I’ve been eating them for years.

In the book, they say to add 1tsp of cinnamon, but I’m not a huge fan, plus I didn’t have any, so I left it out and it still tasted delicious.

Stuffed Peppers with Rice, Pine Nuts and Dill
Author: 
Recipe type: Vegetarian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
Delicious and filling vegetarian dish. Serve with a chopped, green salad.
Ingredients
  • Olive Oil
  • Onion, finely chopped
  • 4 Tbsp Pine Nuts
  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 125g Basmati Rice, cooked
  • 4 Tbsp Dill, chopped
  • 75-100g Feta Cheese, cubed
  • 2 Peppers (orange, red or yellow; halved and seeds removed)
Instructions
  1. Heat the oven to 180c/fan 160c/gas 4
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and cook the onion over a low heat until golden
  3. Add the pine nuts and brown lightly
  4. Stir in the spices and cook for a minute
  5. Add the rice and dill and stir together
  6. Season well
  7. Fold in the feta
  8. Put the peppers, cut-side up in a shallow baking dish or roasting tin
  9. Divide the mixture among them and drizzle liberally with olive oil
  10. Cover with foil and roast for 40 minutes until the peppers are tender, then remove the foil and cook for a further 5 minutes

 

Not only was this dish delicious, it was also incredibly filling.   Let me know if you make it!

 

 

 

 

‘Probably The Best Fisheries Museum in the World’

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Should you use a pun as a blog title… probably not, but it’s too late now!

Even with all the relaxing and eating we did in Esjberg, we still made time to visit a museum, of course!

There are a couple to choose from, including a great art gallery.  We went for the Fisheries and Maritime Museum, which I’ll admit doesn’t sound like the most exciting way to spend an afternoon; but it was ranked highly in TripAdvisor and as Esjberg is a major port, I thought it might have a history worth finding out about.

Whale Skeleton Esjberg

Sitting right outside the front door is the skeleton of a whale, which is a pretty good way to start anything off really.

The museum is an amazing mix of historical fishing boats, social history and animal exhibits, basically anything that has lived, sailed and swum in the seas around the west coast of Denmark.  The social history exhibition spaces were fascinating; original and restored boats explaining how the fishing industry was developed, alongside models charting the rise of the port from small fishing base to today’s mega container place.  And there was a bull hanging from the ceiling.

 

Bull hanging from the ceiling

Esjberg Fisheries Museum

I absolutely promise you that no boats were climped into during our visit to the museum… 

In A Boat Esjberg

The best things about the museum were the mock-ups of a traditional Danish shipyard, and the seal sanctuary that was tacked onto the main building.  This was great, a multi level huge tank that meant you could watch the seals swimming above and below the water while they were fed fish. Unfortunately the commentary was only in Danish… but it was fun to watch anyway.

Seal at Esjberg

Feeding Seals Esjberg

As if that isn’t enough excitement for one day, there is also an aquarium, I thought it would just be a token gesture, but no, the aquarium was actually a really good size and it had an amazing collection of fish and other sea creatures (just so you know, my knowledge of sea-life mainly comes from Disney movies… there were Sebastians, Flounders, Nemos, Peaches and Mr Rays – we also used the phrase ‘swim down’ probably a lot more than two people in their 30′s should)

Aquarium Esbjerg

Our last stop was the cafe, where we enjoyed tea, cake and the fabulous views.

Cafe Esjberg Fisheries Museum

This was a lovely way to spend an afternoon and if you’re in Esjberg, I would definitely suggest you check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Week of a VHE: Sundown Adventureland & Ankles As Big As My Head

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The main reason behind my blog has always been to keep track of my shenanigans and let my family and friends know that I’m not rocking back and forth in a foreign country with a teapot in one hand and a packet of dark chocolate Hobnobs in the other, pining for England.

And so, each Saturday,  I will bring you a rundown of my week… the good stuff anyway… I’m not going to tell you when I’m doing my ironing or putting the rubbish out!

4th – 10th July

Oh this week!  It started off so well and then I spent four and a half days sat at home feeling sorry for myself.  But first let’s get to the good stuff…

Friday: Still in sunny old England, we met up with our friends and their lovely children and spent the day at Sundown Adventureland… this is such a great place; designed for under 10′s, I must say that us ‘grown-up’s had just as much fun.   We then headed back under the channel to Brussels.

Sundown

Saturday: We met up with Maxine and HIM for pizza at one of Maxine’s favourite pizza places Pizza Pronto, which I had often walked passed on my way to Bia Mara, but hadn’t actually been inside.  I am so glad that we did. My prawn and blue cheese pizza was fantastic.  I know that Philip and I will be back there, so I’ll do a full post in the (more than likely very near) future.

After our pizza we headed to the movies and saw Transcendence. Which was a great film – although strangely paced, I really enjoyed it and was a little freaked out at the end.  It had me thinking about all sorts of thing, like ‘do we have a soul? and other simple questions like that!

Pizza and Icecream

We decided the perfect way to discuss the film was by eating ice-cream at Le Grand Cafe - it was Movenpick, so obviously delicious, but I think what I found most entertaining (apart from the company) was the fact that the plates they served the ice-cream on were freezing cold.  I think I shall allocate a draw of my freezer just for dessert bowls!

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday:   As soon as I woke up on Sunday morning, I knew something was wrong.  A mosquito bite, on my ankle.  To most people a simple irritant, but my body goes into meltdown, producing a motherload of histamines to attack the ‘poison’ leaving me; exhausted, short of breath, very swollen and in a huge amount of pain.  Fun Times!

Thursday: With my ankle finally fitting into a shoe, I headed down to the wonderful La Piola to catch-up with friends, eat my weight in delicious pasta and brainstorm business ideas.  I went for the tagliatelle with mushroom, courgette and buratta – which was bloody lovely and really made up for the rest of the week!

La Piola

So, what did you get up to?  Oh and if you have any good mosquito bite stories, I’d love to hear them!

Sunsets and 30 Foot Men in Esjberg, Denmark

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There must be something about this time of year, that makes me crave peace and quiet, without even realising it.  Last year Philip and I headed to Ameland for a little break and this year we found solace in Denmark.

We wanted somewhere not too busy, by the sea with a few things to do while we were there.  We decided on Esjberg, which neither of us had heard of before, but agreed looked perfect.    Aaaaand because we like nothing more than being trapped in a car together for 9 hours, we drove there, from Brussels.

We arrived not long before the sun set, so headed straight to the beach, did some romantic strolling, took deep cleansing breaths of fresh sea air and admired the 9 metre/30 feet tall monument of Men at Sea.

Sunset Esjberg Beach

Esjberg Men at Sea

 

I was immediately taken with this huge sculpture by Svend Wig Hansen, I love how each man looks different, but is actually the same.  Imagine being on a ship coming into Esjberg’s port and seeing that staring back at you.  Philip kept asking me to do serious poses staring out to sea so could get some ‘arty’ shots on the blog, but I decided this was the most realistic shot of me…

 

Men at Sea Esjberg Denmark

VHE Sunset Beach

 

We stayed at the 272 B&B, which was just slightly to the left of the middle of nowhere. It was actually more like a luxury hostel than a B&B, but it was still lovely.

 

272 Bed and Breakfast Esjberg

Made from a converted barn, there is one large building that has a big kitchen and lots of cosy areas to hang-out in as well as some rooms.  Then out to the side, there were some stand alone bedrooms and ours was one of them.   It had pretty much everything you could possibly need but most importantly, it was completely secluded.  There was a little area we could sit outside and even though you could hear a busy road, you couldn’t see anything around you apart from fields and trees and after a while, the sound of birdsong hid every other noise.

View from 272 Bed and Breakfast Esjberg

On the first night, we were the only people staying there, so I did have all sorts of nightmares about being attacked by an axe-murderer in my sleep.  But as you can tell, everything was fine!

The next evening we drove to the Hjerting Badehotel, a lovely place, right next to the beach, which has a great bar on-site (Ship-Inn) with stunning views and lovely food.   I opted for the Bakskuld to start, a traditional dish to the South Jutland region of Denmark.  It is a salted, dried and smoked flatfish, which tastes absolutely delicious, but has a very strong flavour.  If you’re not a big lover of fish, stay away from this dish!

 

Bakskuld Ship-Inn Denmark

 

I had steak for my main dish – I’d actually ordered plaice, but with such a fishy starter as well, it was just too much fish in one meal (so luckily Philip was happy to swap with me).  It was beautifully cooked, with just a tinge of blood remaining.  The béarnaise sauce it came with was fantastic.  But I was most impressed with the salad.  Presented in a darling little jar; it was simply rocket, black olives, feta cheese and watermelon.

Food at Ship-Inn Hjerting

 

Now I have never been a huge fan of fruit in my salad, but the watermelon was just perfect.  I shall definitely be re-creating this.

We had a little stroll along the Hjerting Strand after our dinner and enjoyed another beautiful sunset.

 

Hjerting Strand Denmark

All in all, it was a wonderful break, lovely and relaxing and dare I say just a little romantic – which is rather fitting as it was our wedding anniversary.