After our trip to Switzerland proved that we could travel longer distances, and navigate when the Sat Nav isn’t always on top form, we decided it was time to widen the net and try making for some cities a little further afield.  Breaking out our trusty Europe guide, we looked through the pages and measured off the distances, crossing Vienna, Zurich and Warsaw off the list until there was only one winner; Prague.

We booked a hotel on the outskirts that was close to the underground and filled the car up on the Belgian border, ready to head into Germany and Bohemia before hitting Prague later in the day.  As we sat at the petrol station, programming the Sat Nav with the address of our hotel, the first problem arose – it didn’t cover the Czech Republic.  Instead, we decided to make for the border at the other side of Germany and hope that a signpost would guide us there.

The journey was amazing, Southern Germany covered in trees and dotted with tiny villages, most with a high-spired castle on a hill overlooking them.  Soon we’d made it to Bohemia and the Czech border.

Problem number two – when trying to buy a vignette (tax sticker) it turns out they didn’t take cards, and we had no Czech crowns.  Instead, we drove to the nearest shell station and bought one there.  A neat trick for anyone driving through the Czech Republic, don’t buy at the first place you see as you can get a sticker later and it’s cheaper.

We made it into Prague, and by incredible map reading from Michelle using a paper street map (old school), we made it to the hotel which didn’t look promising in a dull part of town.  That turned out to be wrong, as the hotel was new, modern, fashionable and 5 minutes from the tube.

We dropped our gear and headed into the centre.  Getting out of the tube station, we were immediately surrounded by hordes of drunken bar crawlers and our first thought (to quote our favourite Bluth) was ‘I’ve made a huge mistake’.

Prague Luckily as we walked to the central square they thinned out and we were left viewing an amazing market square, complete with medieval clock that rang on the hour and had characters pop out of the clock face.

PragueWe walked over to the Charles Bridge, saw the statues arranged on both sides in the sunset and grabbed a bite to eat before heading back.


The next day, we got up early (for us), ate an enormous and delicious breakfast (5 courses for me!) and then headed out, taking our time by crossing the river at a lower bridge before walking through the old town and up to the parks that fringe the steep hill that looks over the north bank (it has a half size copy of the Eiffel Tower on it bizarrely).


After a drink and some shade from the sweltering sun (where’s the summer weather now?!) we walked through the little Quarter and up to a square where the Church St Nicholas was built.  We wanted to have a look inside because it has an organ that Mozart played at, which we did, and then headed up to the Castle on top of the hill.

It was a struggle getting up the hill in the heat, but we made it and wandered through the castle, before dipping into St Vitus’s Cathedral to have a look at the stained glass.  It was amazing, and we made our way back, stopping for a bite at a pretentious bar where the food was excellent.

Next morning, we packed up and headed home, tracing our steps back across the forests through Germany.

Our impressions of Prague – a beautiful city, no longer cheap and needs to keep the pub crawls/ stag parties under control.  The rest of it was amazing,  with architecture to rival any of the major European cities.  We will definitely be going back to Bohemia!



Titanic Expo Brussels

So, the good news is that I’m not in a slump anymore, hooray. Not that you knew I was actually in a slump. I didn’t even know I was in a slump. The problem with a slump is that you usually have no idea that you’ve been in one until you start coming out of it.  And I had that realisation on Wednesday.  Luckily there was bloody good company AND burgers available to cushion the blow.

I don’t think a slump can ever be analysed fully, it arrives all on its’ own, drowning you in a feeling of bleurgh and then after a while, it floats off again, leaving the slumpee (not sure if that will take off) trying to put everything back together again.

And after that thrilling little tale, it’s time to move on to something much more interesting – The Titanic!

Prior to 1997 this is what I knew about the Titanic; great big ship, supposed to be unsinkable, hits an iceberg,  ends up on the bottom of the ocean on it’s maiden voyage and tragically loads of people died.

Then of course the movie came out and what I knew about the Titanic got a little blurry, partly because I cry my bloody eyes out everytime I watch the thing and also because although the movie is based on actual events, James Cameron et al used a serious amount of artistic license with the facts.

I realised just how ‘creative’ they were with the truth while I was checking out the new Titanic Exhibition.

Being held at the Brussels Expo – which is a couple of minutes walk from the Atomium, the Titanic Exhibition has been so popular the dates have been extended by an additional two months.  This is partly because the exhibition itself has been built around the 27 Belgians who sailed on the ship, and what happened to them.

The layout in the Expo tells us how, when and why the Titanic was built, and of course by whom, with huge posters and photographs from the Belfast yard where it was put together.  A series of rooms took us through the first, second and third class, then into the engine room, until we found the pieces recovered from the seabed over the last 15 years.  A whole range of things from dinner plates to personal items such as reading glasses and hairbrushes were on display.


It was all rather upsetting, but the item that really shocked me was the base from the angel light at the foot of the grand staircase. Somehow the fact that a piece from the famous photo of the staircase was in front of me, made the whole thing very real, rather  than the made up story of a Hollywood film.  It’s easy to forget that the myth created around it is based on a real ship, that real people lost their lives in a huge disaster that could have been avoided.

The Titanic’s Grand Staircase with the Angel Light Fitting at the base


I was able to see, smell and touch, a wall of ice created to show just how cold the water was – I didn’t realise that salt water freezes below 0 degrees, so the water those poor people where swimming in was literally as cold as ice. No wonder most of the passengers froze to death in a matter of minutes.

Titanic Expo Brussels

It was also interesting to see the things the film just didn’t mention, or embellished.  The expo tells us all about the California, a ship just 20 miles away from the Titanic, which had issued warnings about icebergs earlier on that day and then turned off its’ radio for the night, that wasn’t mentioned at all in the film.

Then there was William McMaster Murdoch, who really was the First Officer on the Titanic; in the film, we see him shoot Tommy and then kill himself, but there is no evidence to suggest that, that’s what actually happened.

The real William Murdoch vs 1997 Movie Version of William Murdoch

The menus, memorabilia and personal stories brought out the real Titanic, not the fake story of Jack and Rose.  The difference between reality and make-believe was laid out in the stories of the people I read about, including one passenger I was given on a card at the start of the tour and encouraged to look for at the end.

Tragically, my chap, Percy Andrew Bailey, just 18 years old and travelling alone on the Titanic from Cornwall to Ohio, for a job as an apprentice butcher,  didn’t survive the sinking.

This is an incredible exhibition and if you’re anywhere near Brussels before 30th November, you should absolutely check it out.

//Find out more on their website

// It is best to book online before you go, to avoid queues

// Make sure you take the audio tour (including in the price), as it is full of extra information


Taking A Peek Into Dubai’s Box Park

Box Park Very Hungry Explorer

We’ve got a lot to learn about timings in Dubai.  Most shops and pretty much all restaurants are open until midnight.    This is very different to how things were in Belgium and it is going to take some getting used to.

We made an effort to head out late to the Box Park.  We got there at about 6pm and were pretty much the only people there.  It wasn’t until we had mooched, shopped and eaten (9.30pm) that it started to get busy.  I think I”ll have to start napping in the afternoon and then staying out late :-)

The only similarities between Box Park Dubai and Box Park London are the fact that the shops are all in shipping containers and of course the name, other than that they have nothing in common.    The shops are all set out in a long line, almost like the strip.  Don’t worry there is a little electronic car to take you up and down if you get fed up of walking.

Box Park Dubai

Burj Khalifa View

Our first stop was into Logma for super refreshing drinks and to watch the sunset – the food looked fantastic, so I definitely want to go back and eat there.

We made our way in and out of shops, Box Park hasn’t been open very long, so there are a lot of exciting retailers still to come.  Typo was my favourite – a fantastic selection of stationery and homewares.  I was in there for quite a while and came with a rather HUGE bag full of goodies.

Box Park Animals Dubai

Dubai BoxPark

Electric Car Dubai Box Park

Dubai Box Park Show Time

Box Park was pretty damn good looking during the day, but at night it was absolutely beautiful.  As I’ve come to expect from Dubai, every part of it lit up – the containers, trees, pavement, signs – the lot.

Shipping Containers Box Park Dubai Dubai Box Park Lights Colourful Shipping Containers Box Park Dubai Box Park Dubai Trees

Dubai Box Park Night Dubai Box Park Bright Lights

We popped into Markette for dinner. I love that the staff give you a chorus of “welcome home, welcome to Markette” as you walk in.

I went for the ‘Michel’ a delicious savoury galette full of  goats cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, eggs, rocket and balsamic vinegar.  The ingredients were so fresh and tasty, that I wasn’t even upset that I was too full for dessert.   There are a couple more veggie options on their menu, so I”ll definitely be back to eat there again.

Markette Box Park Dubai

Bread and Tapenade Markette

Michel Gallette Markette Dubai

The Box Park is a lovely way to spend a few hours, with some interesting shops and eating options – plus some great views of the Dubai skyline.

BoxPark, Al Wasl Road, Jumeirah 1 



Traditional Picada

You know those people who can shove their nose into a wine glass and actually smell stuff, other than, ‘wine’. The person who knows which wine to drink with a particular meal and knows about the different vintages.

I am not one of those people.

I’m the kind of person who checks that the label looks OK and checks that the price is OK and then puts the wine into my shopping trolley not even really thinking anymore about it.  Sometimes it tastes great, other times it gets better the more I drink, but I’ve always hidden behind the claim that as I don’t know anything it’s the best I can do.

Well no more!  Signing up to the Bookalokal wine tasting evening promised nibbles, a selection of wines and some good company.  Yes, at the end of the evening all of that was delivered, but I realised that like so many of these evenings I’d had a great time and also learnt something too.

Barbi Cheers Tastings


I was invited to attend the evening billed as an introduction to Argentinian wine, and although I like drinking new world wines, I know little beyond the colour that comes out the bottle, so this sounded perfect for the next time I was in Carrefour.  The event was hosted by Barbi, an Argentinian recently arrived from New Zealand.  An ex-sommelier, she now runs Cheers Tastings and had prepared a set of background sheets that not only set out the areas in Argentina that contain vineyards, but also the conditions that produce the various wines.


Cheers Tastings Bookalokal Wine Tasting Brussels


Linked to the different wines we were tasting, it helped me understand the flavours that were in the bottle and how they were created.  Barbi had also put together food to go with the tasting, a traditional picada, including pickles, cheeses, breads, meats and salad.  One of the best combinations was pairing smoky crisps with a heavy red Malbec, an amazing taste sensation.

Traditional Picada

Traditional Picada

We tasted each of the four wines on offer, and Barbi told us where we could get the same wine in the supermarket, a real benefit when we’d identified the favourites among the bottles.  The other guests were also enjoying the education and we all had our favourites.  Four hours later, I’d had some amazing taste experiences and felt excitement at the next supermarket trip to try out my new knowledge.



Bookalokal Wine Tasting Brussels


Courgette, Mushroom and Feta Bake

Feta Cheese and Courgette Bake from

Remember those Courgettes that I didn’t get to do anything with?

Turns out they were exactly what I needed for a summer bake dish that I was putting together.  Using the same egg and yoghurt topping that I perfected with my Moussaka tribute dish, this bake is bloody yummy eaten hot, but tastes even better served up cold the next day, when the flavours have had time to mingle together. I just love a dish that’s better on day two.

Depending on how quickly you chop veggies, you’ll have this done in about an hour.

To bring out the flavours, it’s best to sweat the courgette and onion, rather than fry them.    If you’ve not done it before, it’s really easy, put the olive oil into a large pan and once it is warm (rather than sizzling) add the chopped veg and garlic and leave it on a low/medium heat until the onions are translucent and the courgette is soft (around 5 minutes).  A good rule of thumb I use, is that if I can hear the pan sizzling over the noise of my extractor fan, then the temperature is set too high.

Courgette, Mushroom and Feta Bake from

Once the courgettes and onions are soft add the mushrooms, parsley and your preferred seasonings – I chose salt, pepper and paprika, but go with whatever you prefer.

Pop the veg into a greased baking dish and mix in the chopped feta cheese.  Bake it at 200c for 20 minutes.  While that’s baking mix up the yoghurt and eggs with some black pepper.

Mushroom, Courgette and Feta Cheese Bake from

After 20 minutes, pour the yoghurt topping over the dish and bake for 10 more minutes.  Once it is slightly golden on top, you’re good to go.

Parmesan is entirely optional, but does add an extra, very tasty dimension to the dish.  I”m not going to tell you how much to use, let’s face it, parmesan is a very personal business, but I grated it all over the top and I don’t regret a thing.

This will serve four with a tasty side salad – tomatoes work perfectly and some bread.

Feta, Mushroom and Courgette Bake from

The soft, sweet veg with the saltiness of the feta – this one is a real winner.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Courgette, Mushroom and Feta Bake
Author: Michelle – Very Hungry Explorer
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Quick and easy, perfect vegetarian bake for summer. Serve with a tomato salad and crunchy bread.
  • 2 Courgettes, diced
  • 250g Mushrooms (Chestnut works well), diced
  • 1 Large Red Onion, diced
  • 200g Feta Cheese, diced
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 Cup Natural Yoghurt
  • 2 Eggs
  • Handful Fresh Parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Seasoning – Salt, Pepper and Paprika
  • Parmesan Cheese (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 200c
  2. Sweat garlic, courgette and onion in a large pan with the olive oil (5 minutes ish)
  3. Add mushrooms, parsley and seasonings (salt, pepper and paprika) and cook for 5 more minutes
  4. Add the vegetable mix to a greased baking dish
  5. Mix in the feta cheese
  6. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes
  7. Mix together the yoghurt and eggs with black pepper
  8. Remove the baking dish from the oven and pour the yoghurt mixture over the top
  9. Pop back in the oven and bake for 10 more minutes – until slightly golden
  10. Grate parmesan over the top and serve (optional)




The Palace Theatre was celebrating its 100th birthday this year and as part of the celebrations, we were taken back in time to the 1930′s when the Palace was a cinema.  Complete with usherettes’ and a cocktail bar as well as a selection of original films shown at the Palace Cinema during its first week of opening

We were encouraged to dress in 1930′s costume (unfortunately I didn’t have anything suitable with me) the only nod to the 30′s in my outfit was a pearl necklace and bright red lipstick.

Palace Theatre Westcliff 1930 Staff Costumes

I was rather fond of the cocktail bar and 30′s menu… starting off with the Gin Fizz and finishing with a Martini (I needed to get some food when we came out as they were the strongest drinks I have ever tasted)

1930 Cocktail Menu

Unlike the current cinema practice, in the past you would have a series of shorts before the film started; a news segment, some cartoons – we had Popeye and Betty Boop as well as a short episode of Laurel and Hardy and part of an ongoing serial.  The intro lasted for about an hour, then there was a short interval (perfect for grabbing another drink) before the feature presentation started.

We had The Mysterious Dr. Fu Manchu. Oh, it is a terrible, terrible film; but it wasn’t really about that – it was about the atmosphere and the feeling that we had travelled back in time for the evening.  Hopefully they’ll have more nights like this and if they do I would thoroughly recommend that you go.



About a gazillion years ago now, Phil and I took Becky and Wil, who are two of our most favourite people in the whole world to visit the EuroMast in Rotterdam.

For some reason we thought that the 180 metre high viewing platform was indoors, so didn’t give any thought to the gale force winds that were blowing when we left Brussels. Let me give you a clue, we were wrong. Apart from the restaurant, all the good stuff is very much exposed to the elements.


Euromast Rotterdam


The Euromast was built in 1960 by architect Hugh Maaskant for the first world flower exhibition. Originally it was 100 meters tall, but a new tower was placed on top in 1970 raising it up to 185 meters and once again making it the highest observatory tower in the Netherlands.

The top 180m viewing platform was closed (because of that damn wind), but we had a great time checking out the views from 112 metres instead.

It did, at times, feel like we were going to get blown away, especially while trying to get up and down the stairs between floors. But it was absolutely worth it.


Euromast Rotterdam

Euromast Rotterdam


Euromast Rotterdam

Euromast Rotterdam

Euromast Rotterdam

Here are the fabulous and completely bonkers Becky and Wil…

Euromast Rotterdam

The bit of the tower we weren’t allowed to go up to…

Euromast Rotterdam


Once we were frozen to our core and looking rather dishevelled, we headed down to the Brasserie at 96m, where we had delicious beef croquettes with frites and a glass of vino.   Coming out I noticed that they have two hotel rooms next to the restaurant – how amazing would it be to stay there!


Croquettes at Brasserie Euromast

Croquettes at Brasserie Euromast


This was a fantastic way to spend an afternoon and I would absolutely go back.  The price for adults is €9.75, although we were given a little discount as we couldn’t go all the way to the top.