For a much needed break from work and the cold British winter, we took a 10 day break to Cuba. We hadn’t really done any research, so having booked the flights, hotels and transfers as a package, we arrived in Havana not quite sure of what to do with ourselves. So tired from the journey, we had dinner on the roof of our hotel enjoying the view of the Parque Centrale, the opera house and El Capitolio.
The next morning we awoke to grey skies, so headed to the Museo de la Revolucion to learn some of Cuba’s more recent history. We also managed a short walk around the old town, trying to avoid the rain. Thankfully the next day was warm and sunny, so we spent a much more pleasant day wandering around the old town marvelling at the contrast of modern art and run down buildings amongst stunning architecture.
We then headed to Varadero for 6 nights to soak up the sun and relax. Varadero is a spit of land around 20km long and only 1.5km wide at its widest, our hotel was almost at the furthermost point. Nicola averaged a book a day as well as a day of diving, and we took a bus into the town though mainly just enjoyed the time to relax in the sun enjoying a Ron Collins from the all inclusive bar.
Some photos here
Up, up and up… At 10m/s we swiftly scale the side of Aiguille du Midi. The needle is sharp and man-made walkways of a variety of materials take you between and around the Mount. Not really Robbie’s cup of tea but I think even he appreciated it.
The views are outstanding, 3 countries, not yet a white out for the winter with only Mont Blanc looking like a white marshmallow. Given the steep climb down, a task for the brave, unsurprisingly the view was only sparsely populated with skiers. But I could understand the attraction of doing so, to reach the powdery snow, in the peace with no one around, surrounded by stunning scenery, – not quite, but almost literally, on top of the world.
In the museum, the videos of climbers and extreme skiers looked stunning but while the thrill is obvious, for me I couldn’t quite see the attraction of something that would consume so much time to train and perfect before risking your life. There’s simply too many other things to consume our time.
We didn’t manage skiing this time, so instead enjoyed the views, copious amounts of cheese and time away remembering the joy of something new.
Some photos here
In September, we spent a week Carol, Dave, Steph and the kids, plus Tara and a friend in Anaheim, Los Angeles. The week flew by with early starts to get a head start on the queues in the parks. We managed a good proportion of the rides and average 25km a day, even on the days when the temperature hit 41 degrees centigrade.
In addition to two days at the Disney parks, despite LA traffic, we ventured downturn one day for an open bus hop on hop off tour with stops at Hollywood walk of fame and rodeo drive. We also spent a day at Universal Studios – trying butterbeer in its Hogsmeade replica, and to round it off Nicola took the girls to Knott’s Scary Farm one evening to brave the Halloween mazes and a few more rollercoasters.
After a week with family, we had a couple of days to ourselves. We hired a convertible and drove to Monterey, then back to LA along the pacific highway with its stunning view and a wealth of wildlife, (Nicola even spotted whales).
We spent almost 3 weeks in NZ in July to spend time with John and Carol. We were working part time, which meant more of a routine than our typical trip back, and maybe thats why the trip brought back memories of what seems a different life.
Most of our time was spent at John and Carol’s; enjoying the views, working in the morning, playing cards and eating – whether it was Robbie’s childhood favourite of weiner schnitzel from the Karori butcher, roti chennai from Paratha 2 Go (a favourite from our time living in Glenmore Street) or the occasional cookie time or various NZ lollies.
We did venture out for a night away in Martinborough with lunch at Coney Wines, where food was fabulous as always and we managed to sit outside in the sunshine (though Nicola did have a blanket over her legs) and a winter christmas family dinner at Waikane.
It wasn’t all reminising though. As the kids are getting older, (and possibly noisier), its nice to spend time making new memories with them. Laser quest was a highlight with Harry just walking behind Nicola shooting at her.
We broke the trip back to London with a night in Hong Kong. It was 34 degrees in the day and a cool 28 at night, so we didn’t do much except walk off the plane trip, then sit in the shade by the pool – with its ovehang looking 28 floors down to the road. We also managed to stumble into the michelin starred Qi, House of Szechuan for dinner to have an impressive Mala Crispy Beef.
Here’s a link to some photos: http://www.rajank.com/?page_id=1164
There are certain things in life that you always mean to acomplish but as they are a little rubbish, or a little too far out of the way, you never actually do them. Well today, we managed to do not one, but two of those those things.
Since my mid 20s I have wanted to eat at a Little Chef restaurant (a Heston tv show that described little chef as the worst food in the world and a similar Ben Elton routine marvelling in its crapness convinced me that this was a place I just had to go to) and it has become a bit of a running joke when we drive past services that have a Little Chef that we must stop there and sample the culinary excellence. Well today Nicola and I, in a state of tiredness (me) and illness (Nicola), actually went into a Little Chef to sample their Quick Bite menu. Like anything where you have built up high (or in this case low) expectations the event itself always fails to live up to your imaginings and unsurprisingly that was the case today as lunch ended up being a perfectly adequate mass produced meal that was quite boringly perfectly edible. Even though it was an anticlimax its a good feeling to have finally eaten there.
The second thing that I have always wanted to do is to go to the Roman Palace at Fishbourne, the best preserved Roman site in the UK. Every time I go to a Roman site I am always a little disappointed as i have high hopes of seeing an actual villa or a semi reconstruction but when we get there all that is left are foundations. Well today was no different but once I got over my initial disappointment I rather enjoyed the free tour, the mosaics and the Roman garden and I was glad we made the effort.
At this stage you are probably wondering why the post is entitled Emsworth. The reason is the we ended the day at a B&B in the rather pretty town (or at least from what we could tell as we strolled around looking for dinner) of Emsworth and I was determined to, just once, actually remember the name of an anonymous small town that we have stayed in…