Author: Katya

Katiliya Mountain Resort and Spa: a retreat near Chiang Rai

Katiliya Mountain Resort and Spa: a retreat near Chiang Rai

A lot of people, when they go to the North of Thailand stop at Chiang Mai and  visit Chiang Rai area on a day tour. It is quite exhausting to do this trip in one day, as it is a 3 hour drive one way, […]

Canal Tour in Bangkok with Pandan Tour

Canal Tour in Bangkok with Pandan Tour

While diverse and full of things to see, Bangkok is also huge and full of traffic. To avoid the congestion, consider exploring Bangkok using canal system, which never gets blocked and offers a pleasant refuge from the city heat. When I was in Bangkok 10 […]

Mini Gardener Afternoon Tea at St Ermin’s Hotel in London

Mini Gardener Afternoon Tea at St Ermin’s Hotel in London

If you ask me to recommend a must do activity in London, I would say it is an afternoon tea at one of the grand hotels.  I have been to a few afternoon teas, and some of the places are not very suitable for kids. You either can’t relax, because you worry the whole time, that they will break precious china, or you get stern looks from other patrons, indicating that you should have left your kids at home.

I was delighted to discover that St Ermin’s Hotel offers a child friendly version of the afternoon tea and it is called Mini Gardener Afternoon Tea. 

The tea can either be served  in the Tea Lounge, which has got fantastic ambiance and beautiful interior, or on the terrace if fussy British weather allows. Just look at those chairs!

As the sun was shining, we opted for the terrace option. 

Mini Gardener tea is served in a tray lined with grass and it is a pure delight.  Each and every item is made with love and looks so realistic, that you would not think it is actually possible to eat the banana or a plant pot.

The team at Tea Lounge has thought about everything: while mum and dad are enjoying a glass of bubbly, kids can entertain themselves with DIY shortbread, which they can decorate with icing, packaged into paint tubes. Letitia was busy with it for a good 20 minutes!

Tea starts with a selection of sandwiches, done in a traditional way, without crusts, and follows with all matter of sweets that one can imagine.

If your children do not like tea, it is not an issue, as Mini Gardener menu includes either orange or apple juice. The afternoon tea setting provided a great opportunity to show my daughter how tea should be served using nice china and a tea pot.

Adult version of the afternoon tea is equally tasty and delight for the eyes. I have to be honest, I did not want to eat some of the cakes, as they were just too pretty to eat!

I loved little fruits, which were actually  peach and apricot and blueberry mousses with fillings, encased in chocolate. The plant pot was also present in the adult afternoon tea and again I struggled to eat it, as I was just marveling at the craftsmanship and presentation.  The plant pot revealed white chocolate ganache, hazelnut caramel, raspberry compote and vanilla sponge.

Another  important part of the afternoon tea is the scones, and here they were amazing. They are served warm, with plenty of cream and jam. Letitia loves scones, so I only had one (sob!).

I thought that the price of the tea was great for central London at £30.00 for adults and £18.00 for the kids version, and you can add a glass of champagne only for £5.00 to your afternoon tea. What’s not to like? 

If you would like to introduce your kids to the wonderful British tradition of the afternoon tea, all the details can be found at St Ermin’s Hotel website. 

The location of St Ermin’s Hotel is fantastic, as it is only 5 mins walk from the St James Park tube, and after the tea we tool a walk in St James Park and saw the birds on the lake. 

St Ermin’s hotel hosted our afternoon tea, but all opinions are my own. 

Sock Shop: Bamboo Socks Review

Sock Shop: Bamboo Socks Review

Autumn is not far, which means that we will be getting our long-sleeved tops out of the cupboard and start wearing socks again. I love choosing socks, whether it is a colourful range or a novelty design. Last week I had an opportunity to order […]

Glamping Near London: Home Farm Glamping review

Glamping Near London: Home Farm Glamping review

What are summers good for in Britain? I say camping! Let’s take it up a notch:  a proper bed in a tent, dinner cooked by a chef and served at a table and good old camping becomes a glamorous camping, aka glamping. One night in […]

Kent with Kids: the Historic Dockyard Chatham

Kent with Kids: the Historic Dockyard Chatham

Seaside and  fantastic countryside in one trip in the UK? You need to go to Kent! Only 1.5 hours from London, the county is full to the brim with seaside towns and beaches, quirky villages, beautiful landscapes and child-friendly activities. We have already been to Kent once and, having liked it so much, we went again one weekend in July.

Our first stop was the Historic Dockyard Chatham, which used to be a working dockyard in the past. Due to the river bed becoming smaller, it is now no longer possible to build and repair  ships of a considerable size. As a result of this, the dockyard was closed as a working facility, however a museum is now open for all of us to learn about ships and submarines and see how the dockyard looked back in the day. 

The amount of things on display is incredible and if you want to see everything properly, one visit would not be enough. Luckily, once you buy your admission ticket, it is valid for a year, so you can come back as many times as you like. I have to say, I am not a big fan of ships, but the way information is presented and the fact, that you can go onboard and touch things – that made me interested and I had a ball! If I required some convincing, Claudio and Luca were impressed from the start!

Let me tell you about my favourite parts of the Historic Dockyard Chatham.

As soon as you arrive, try and get the timed tickets for the Ropery and the submarine. The Ropery is where they still make the ropes and as part of the tour, you will visit the longest building in Europe. We were guided by charming ropery workers, dressed in a period costume and speaking as if we were still in 18th century. We saw how a rope becomes the Chatham rope and then walked half way through the longest building.

The submarine Ocelot was another highlight for me, as I have never been inside the submarine before. Have you? We were able to see how submariners lived the Ocelot and how cramped the conditions were, we looked outside using the periscope and quizzed  our guide what the modern submarines looked like nowadays compared to Ocelot. 

There are also two ships , that you can visit: HMS Gannet is from 1878 and HMS Cavalier is from 1944. I loved the Cavalier! By walking the whole length of the ship, you can see how life was organised on board: they had a shop, a library, space for relaxation with hammocks, captains quarters – I can go on. You can see the menus of what they were eating, the working hours of the library, the shopping list with prices and a fantastic note on the rum rationing !

Two of the dry docks are now being used as an exhibition area, where you can learn about the history of lifeboats. I also suggest to go up and see the exquisite roof design in Dock 3. 

Immediately after the entrance, there is No1 Smithery, which partly is used to showcase the ship models and what importance they had in the shipbuilding. The other part of the building is given to changing exhibitions and this time it was a all about pirates. Luca loved going on the pirate ship and looking at pirate paraphernalia. 

We visited in July and to celebrate summer Historic Dockyard have put on  a sandy beach with deck chairs, seagulls and a beach shop. This is where you will find me with my cup of coffee, relaxing! 

I was also very impressed with facilities : the smarter restaurant Mess Deck at the reception area and a more casual cafe Wagon Stop with a soft play thrown in and stationary trains for your train enthusiasts. There was also a fantastic playground outside with a  scattering of picnic tables, if you want to bring your own supplies.

I also have to commend the staff as at every place we went, we were greeted by a friendly member of staff, who was genuinely happy to see us. We happily chatted about why dockyard has now closed with Malcolm at the Cavalier and were impressed by Debbie acting skills at the Ropery. 

If you are a fan of “Call the Midwife” series, then you are in luck, as this where the series were filmed and they do guided tours to show the locations. I could not resist taking a picture!

There is a lot to see at the Historic Dockyard Chatham, but even if you looked at everything, throughout the year they also do themed events like  Railway Weekends or Britain’s Vintage Festival “Salute to the 40s”! You just have to keep discovering.

Our visit was hosted by Historic Dockyard Chatham, but all opinions are my own.

Sofia with kids: Sofia Zoo

Sofia with kids: Sofia Zoo

I do not know who loves going to a zoo more: my kids or I. When I was preparing for our Bulgaria trip, I discovered that there was a zoo in Sofia,  so we decided to pay it a visit.  Getting there was quite easy, […]

Walking tour in Plovdiv with Audio Guide

Walking tour in Plovdiv with Audio Guide

Plovdiv has been selected European Capital of Culture in 2019 and once you visit it, it is easy to see why. I absolutely loved the place: there were not many tourists around and it is full of historical sites and ancient monuments, which are within […]

Amiens: Hortillonnages and Art Festival

Amiens: Hortillonnages and Art Festival

During our recent weekend in France, we used the opportunity to explore fishing villages of the Opal Coast and  culture in Amiens.

Have you ever been to Amiens? It is a delightful city right in the middle of Somme region in France, and it is an accessible 2 hours drive from the popular ports of Calais and Dunkirk.

When I started researching sights in Amiens, I discovered Hortillonnages, floating gardens, still used by small number of farmers to grow vegetables. While hortillonnages were more used in the past for their primary purpose, now they have been transformed as a peaceful location for boat rides, garden parties and Annual Festival “Art, Villes & Paysage”. This year it is running from 7 June to 20 October 2019.

We took a boat ride in May, while majority of the installations were still being constructed and our lovely guide Marine told us about the history of the Festival and its organisation. 

Now in its 9th year, the competition is open every year for artists to submit their ideas for a garden design and then a panel of judges will select winning designs. The artists then will be given a fantastic opportunity to have their garden built, so the future visitors can enjoy the space they created. 

There will be a totally White Garden with white furniture and white flowers, I imagine this would look very dreamy at the height of summer.

The next garden was the favourite of our guide Marine as it showed the different stages of farming and garden reflection on food. One part of the garden is showing impoverished soil, exhaused by the intensive farming. This stands in contrast to the wild blooms and lots of vegetation, allowing you appreciate both sides of the garden story.

Another very interesting find was  logs laid out in neat lines, where the artist was trying to bring order to the ladscape.

As all contemporary art, many gardens that we saw leave a lot to a viewer’s imagination, as art installations are weaved into the landscape and you can try and find your own meanings in different settings. 

 

You can also see a traditional garden where vegetables would be grown for sale, and we saw healthy crops of strawberries, rhubarb and cabbage. 

There are two ways to explore the festival: you can either walk to couple of islands, but if you want to see more you will need to hire a boat at Port à fumier, rue Roger Allou (opposite n°50) in Camon . Majority of islands are accessible and you can get off and on as many times as you like. 

What I liked most about this place is that although it is quite close to the city centre , once you are on the boat it feels like a whole world away from the buzz of the city. It is peaceful, you can hear the birds and appreciate nature and culture in a slow way. Sometimes in our busy city lives we forget to get the speed down and breathe in fresh air. 

Our visit was hosted by Art and Jardins, Hauts-de-France, but all opinions are my own. 

Sofia with Kids: Muzeiko

Sofia with Kids: Muzeiko

For Easter holiday break we choose Bulgaria and it did not dissapoint. I have done an itinerary which included a bit of nature, city life and relaxation. Sofia is a great starting point as it is very well connected and availability of public transport is […]