Monday, 29 October 2012

The great British Sunday roast

There can be no better way to enjoy a leisurely Sunday, than down the pub for lunch, a quick stroll to explore the village, and back in front of the fire curled up with The Sunday Times....Yes, the great British sunday roast is the best meal of the week (especially when someone else is doing the cooking and washing-up!)
Today we are in Shrivenham a large village with a rich history in the Vale of the White Horse in Oxfordshire.
The village has a choice of historic pubs; The Barrington Arms, The Prince of Wales, The Fat Dog and where we have our booking The Crown....




The Prince of Wales, Shrivenham




The Barrington Arms Hotel, Shrivenham




The Crown, 11 High street, Shrivenham
The pub or Public House has been at the cornerstone of British social culture for over two centuries, three quarters of the adult population will go to pubs, a third of them regularly... Each pub will offer a variety of beers or ales - our beers came from the local White Horse brewery, we liked the Village Idiot!








It is thought the Sunday roast originated in Yorkshire during the Industrial revolution when families would put a joint of meat in the oven to cook whilst at Church. After weeks of being vegetarian in India, I can't resist Roast Beef with Yorkshire pudding, roast potatoes, steamed veggies and horseradish sauce.
It seems the traditional Sunday roast remains as popular as ever and the Crown is packed but everyone is very friendly and the food arrives promptly and is delicious. The two course Sunday roast is £13.95.




No great Sunday lunch would be complete without pudding. There was a choice of two: apple crumble or sponge pudding both with custard. I can tell you both were great!!




After a massive lunch we needed a stroll around the village to work it off! Shrivenham has some interesting buildings, from it's numerous quaint thatched cottages...




to elegant in the High Street...




....an ancient pump which reminds me how lucky we are to have fresh, clean water from every tap in the house compared with the villagers in Kabini, India




The massively impressive Memorial Hall built in 1920.....




....the young girl trotting past on her pony took me back many years to when I used to do the same each Sunday on my Pony.....




Now, pass the paper please ........Zzzzzzzzzz
Little Wandering Wren

Location:Shrivenham, Oxfordshire, UK

Saturday, 27 October 2012

It's all happening in Bristol...

DAY 25-27 Melbourne to Bristol 12,429 miles as the crow flies

There is always something usual and edgy happening in Bristol. It's unique combination of history and pure right out there makes it a fun place to hang out for a couple of days....




Wow! Gorillas in Clifton village
The old and the ultra modern sit well side by side in Bristol. On one hand we have outside our docklands door Brunels SS Great Britain the worlds first great ocean liner - now nestled in a dry dock under the watchful eye of the brightly colored terrace houses of Hotwells.
A signpost shows Melbourne is 12,429 nautical miles away; a voyage taking the 630 passengers and animals 83 days in 1852.
So the Tim's forthcoming return at Christmas - 30 hours on China Southern should be a breeze!




See No Evil.
On the other hand, at the urban cutting edge of modernism is the Nelson Street Art in Bristol city centre. This street was a nondescript corridor of bleak, grey buildings now it hosts the most ambitious permanent street art project ever to take place in the UK....




12 buildings including a Police Station, office block and car park have been transformed from drab to fab...




This is the largest street art mural in the UK








Bristol is believed to be home to the legendary street artist Banksy You can get a map and follow a walking tour of his work. Ironically the ongoing debate as to whether Bankys work is street art or vandalism finds Love Rat below, now with splashes of red paint.... Hummm, I think there is a clue as to whodunit above!




Banksy Love Rats on Park Street Image Courtesy of Wikimedia and Richard Cocks
Elegant and Edgy Clifton village...




The wonderful Georgian architecture of Victoria Square, Clifton
A stroll through the lovely buildings, gift shops and trendy cafes of Clifton village - the most beautiful shopping quarter in Bristol - brings us to a viewing point on the Bristol Downs of the Clifton Suspension Bridge. This world famous Bridge was also designed by the great Victorian engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, although he never lived to see his creation finished in 1864.
It was a grey October day, temperature at 1 degree and spitting with rain when we were there, so we didn't linger for a stroll across the bridge and went home for a cuppa and cake instead!




The Clifton Suspension Bridge’s spectacular setting on the cliffs of the Avon Gorge has made it the defining symbol of Bristol
There is lots to see and do in Bristol, hope to be back to explore more soon.
Little Wandering Wren

Location:Bristol, Avon UK

Friday, 26 October 2012

A family trip down Memory Lane....

DAY 24 - HAPPY 90th Birthday
One of the lovely things about being back home is the opportunity to join in with family events that you wouldn't normally be there for. Today we are off to celebrate my Great Aunts 90th birthday at The Swan Hotel in Bedford.




Bedford is a town that is believed to date back to Saxon times and relatives of our family have lived there for over 80 years. From the quick peak we had walking along the river, the town still abounds with history....




and is a thriving market town....




My Great Grandmother returned from Calcutta, India in the 1930's to live in Bedford, thought to have been attracted by the town's good reputation for schooling. My Grandmother attended Bedford High School and fell in love with the dashing young officer from across the Street in Kingsley Road, my Grandfather...




My grandfathers sister has remained connected to Bedford and family members and visiting overseas friends were invited for lunch with other local guests joining for a traditional British Cream Tea.












I hadn't seen my Great Aunt since she visited our family in Singapore in 1965/6! She was at the time living and working with Chinese Immigrants in Taiwan and speaks fluent mandarin.
The room was filled with family and friends from all over the world who played tribute to a remarkable lady who had been a strong influence on many lives.
We were also treated to a sing-a-long with the Bedford Memory Lane singers




With old favorites such as 'Daisy, Daisy give me your answer do' and 'June is busting out all over' and quite a few that I didn't know the words to!
Little Wandering Wren

Location:Bedford, Bedforshire UK

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Delhi delights

DAY 21- Saket B & B & Delhi delights
A stay at Saket B & B is like sleeping at a mates place. The rooms are simple but have everything needed, and a nice bathroom with hot water and strong water pressure in the shower, often a bonus in India - all spotlessly clean. We loved the free WiFi.




We thought the location in Saket was great if you like to be in a quiet non-touristy area away from the pandemonium of downtown Delhi. It is a short stroll to the metro and a 25 minute ride to Connaught Place costing 18 Rs one way. The Metro was easy to navigate and we even found a women's only carriage.





Everyone at Saket B & B was really friendly and helpful; whether it was arranging transport for us, suggesting a good takeaway menu for dinner, or the staff getting up for our crack of dawn departures to hand us a packed breakfast and to ensure that we were safely on our way...




Saket's breakfast room
Today we hired a guide to show us the sights of Delhi. It was interesting that this comprised soley on showing us monuments and buildings and often the best bits of travelling in India are about meeting the people and the sights getting to/from the sights....




like the 'it's a wonder the lights ever work and no-one is electrocuted' wiring.....




Rickshaw power




Choosing your goat....
That said you can't disagree that the rich history and splendid buildings are amazing.... here are some of our best bits of the day...




The people at the Sikh temple were so nice.... we left our shoes in a special visitors room and were given an orange head scarf. Then with bare feet we walked through the wet cement of a construction site, arriving completely grubby at a washing station to wash our feet and hands as is the custom to cleanse before entering the temple....




A smartly dressed man in a bright red turban, overhearing our guides introduction to the Sikh Temple, jumped in to explain the workers were all volunteers and we watched mesmerized as basket after basket of wet cement was passed between people to lay a new floor at the Temple entrance...




We were also shown the Sikh langar or common kitchen, where vegetarian food is prepared daily to feed hundreds of people. Whatever your religion you can eat as an equal, again prepared by volunteers...



The largest Sikh temples in Delhi provide for 50,000 - 70,000 meals a day
Humayans tomb 1565-72 AD is a world Heritage site beautiful building and ground. a 100 graves and is where the Obama's were taken on their recent visit to Delhi,




A beautiful example of early Mughal architecture built in the 16th century
Qubt Minar complex we arrived at the beautiful religious buildings at sunset and it is easy to see why they form one of Delhi's most spectacular sights.




Qutb Minar 1193 AD - mighty victory tower dates from the onset of Islamic rule in India




Queasy -ul-Islam Masjid - India's first Mosque known as the might of Islam Mosque

Outside the main gates we were drawn to the lights and singing of prayer..




It was a fitting magical end to our last day in Delhi.... off to the airport now!
Little Wandering WrenI

Location:Delhi

Monday, 22 October 2012

Delhi By Cycle

DAY 21 - Delhi By Cycle
We are grateful for the early start to our Shah Jahan Bike tour, which we foolishly thought would be well over by the time Delhi awoke.....Wrong....
The bright orange sit up and beg-for-your-life bikes are well maintained and comfy looking. There is a big saddle and no gears to worry about. Each comes fully equipped with all the latest safely features; an essential noisy bell and working brakes!




Ok deep breath, and they're off....through the small windy streets of the bazaar; a seeming catastrophe of auto-rickshaws, motorscooters, pedestrians, dangling wires, potholes and rubbish. The journey goes like this bell, brake, swerve, bell, brake, phew!! But it doesn't take long to get the hang of it and ringing our bells like old pro's we come across all sorts....




As the sun creeps higher in the sky we arrive in the wholesale Spice Market. The spices penetrate deep in our lungs, making us cough and sneeze. We are grateful to escape into the dark interior of the Gadodia warehouse and emerge sputtering onto the rooftop, pleased to have survived 'death by cardamom' and to be in the relative 'fresh air'....




From here we can look down on the early morning tradings of the spice market... And our guide, Daniel a history graduate fills us in on what life has been like in the area for hundreds of years.




It is calm and peaceful on the roof top..... down below is whole different story....




Back on our bikes I feel like I'm in a low budget Bollywood movie...with the rich Indian street life whizzing pass me on the big screen. I should be in a long flowing pink and gold sari....
I try to take in the sights, avoid collision, keep up with my group..... it's exhilarating and a complete sensory overload.
We leave Old Delhi for the respite of the calm, leafy wide streets of the Civil Lines district 'Anyone for Chai?' The old colonial past of whitewashed houses and manicured lawns are in complete contrast to a few km's away...




Refreshed and up for the next adventure we cycle up Chandi Chowk, a main thoroughfare of Delhi towards the Red Fort. Then onwards through the market streets thick with goats and towards the looming Masjid Mosque...This area is crazy busy and at times we are forced to stop and resort to pushing our bikes through the crowd...




Moving on, we pass a elephant lumbering into town in his sunday best for the weekend festival and celebrations, and peddle like crazy through a maze of increasingly crowded market alleyways to arrive at Karim's famous restaurant for our breakfast. We're hungry and the house speciality is the delicious slow cooked goat with naan and a coke. The menu gives an option for a whole goat - 24 hours notice required...




As we sit and exchange stories from the morning's ride, we all agree that we couldn't have wished for a better introduction to life in this great city than Delhi By Cycle..




What a brilliant tour...
Little Wandering Wren

Location:Delhi