Anyone who knows me will know that my main passions in life are travelling, food and fine wine. I do have another guilty pleasure though, and that is Gin, so when I was asked by friends if I would like to go to a Gin cocktail masterclass at the Bombay Sapphire distillery in Laverstoke I jumped at the chance.
A while ago I read about a great Sunday night deal offered by Hotel du Vin, so I thought I'd give it a try. The deal allows you to book a room for the night for as little as £30, with the condition that you spend a minimum of £75 on Sunday evening in their bistro. For this trip I decided to book a stay at the Hotel du Vin Cambridge as this was the ideal location for a place that I wanted to visit in the vicinity.
I recently went on a short break to Holywell Bay, near Newquay in Cornwall with some friends for the bank holiday weekend. When I'm at home, Sunday is a day for having family or friends over to visit and to enjoy a traditional Sunday roast. If I'm away for the weekend, it's the one thing I really miss. However, when I'm away for a weekend within the UK, I don't have to go far to find a cosy local pub to enjoy my Sunday lunch.
Spread across 219 square miles of beautiful Hampshire countryside is The New Forest National Park. The New Forest is about an hours drive from my home in Sussex, and even though I pass through here quite frequently it had been years since I had actually stopped to enjoy some of this stunning area of the country.
One thing I had planned to do in December 2014 was pay a visit to the Christmas Markets in Bath, UK. Being used to visiting the markets on the continent, I had assumed that the Bath Christmas Markets would be open right up until Christmas Eve, and so I planned to visit on December 23rd. This was a big mistake on my part as the Christmas Market in Bath only ran until December 14th. This did, however, teach me a valuable lesson of the importance of thorough research before planning a trip. So this time around I did just that.
The 2005 Radio Times poll named the Jurassic Coast the fifth-greatest natural wonder of Britain. It is definitely at the top of my list, alongside Glen Coe in Scotland. The Jurassic Coast is located on the South coast of England, running 96 miles from Orcombe Point in Devon, to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in Dorset. In 2001 the Jurassic Coast was designated a World Heritage Site, the second site in the United Kingdom.
The Tinwood Estate is located just three miles from my home, on the edge of the South Downs national park. Tinwood first set up their vineyard in 2007, and since have been producing three fantastic varieties of sparkling wine. From their Blanc de Blancs, and their Estate Brut to their cool refreshing Rosé.
This year celebrated the 20th year of the West Dean Chilli Fiesta. To my shame West Dean is less than ten miles from my home, and this was to be my first visit to the Fiesta. The Chilli Fiesta is a three day event, from Friday to Sunday, and its aim is to celebrate everything about the humble chilli.
We have had a quite a warm spring, and the temperatures in southern England, and the whole of the UK are set to stay hot for most, if not all of summer 2015. I can hear your thinking "are we not told this every year?" Well, being as optimistic as I possibly can, I have made the decision to spend most of summer 2015 in the UK to explore and seek out some hidden treasures in the south of England.
For those of us in the UK, the clocks have now been turned back and the early nights are drawing in. I have had a great summer and visited some fantastic destinations, but I'm now looking forward to the cooler months, and all the wonderful winter escapes that I have planned. Here are some of the amazing destinations I'll be visiting this winter. Where are you off to?
This year I visited Scotland for the first time in almost 10 years. Although it was just a short 24 hour trip it made me realise just how long it had been since my last visit. This prompted me to plan a longer trip up to the Scottish Borders for a weekend break with my family, over one of the May bank holiday weekends.
With the leaves on the trees beginning to turn a crisp golden brown, and the cool morning chill which has been creeping up on us now day by day, I think it's safe to say that this wonderfully warm British summer is now coming to an end. Over the past few months I have been on many trips, and enjoyed some wonderful experiences, all of which have made this the perfect summer.
The Isle of Wight, with its stunning coastline and beautiful beaches, has long had a reputation for being a holiday destination aimed at families who want a budget summer holiday close to home. The result is that the island has also gained the reputation as offering nothing more than beaches and amusement arcades.
Spitbank Fort is one of four forts built in the Solent as part of the 1859 Royal Commission to protect Portsmouth's dockyard from a possible French invasion. They formed the most expensive defensive system undertaken by Britain during peacetime. By the time the forts were completed all perceived threat to Portsmouth had passed, and because of this the forts became known as the Palmerston Follies, named after the Prime Minister at the time, Lord Palmerston, who had defended the enormous build cost.
One of my local wine stores, Hennings Wine Merchants of Chichester often holds wine tastings on Friday evenings. Each evening is usually themed on a specific wine region or wine. A couple of weeks ago they held a Croatian wine evening, and after having been to Croatia a few times and enjoyed the local wines, I decided to book to go with some friends and experience more of what Croatia has to offer the wine world.
We arrived at Carr Taylor Wines on a warm Sunday afternoon. It was a beautiful day, with hardly a cloud in the sky. After checking in for our vineyard tour and wine tasting at their cellar door we were shown to a sun-kissed terrace, where a handful of other people were sat around wooden picnic tables (the kind you would find in a traditional pub garden) happily chatting while waiting for the rest of the guests so the tour could commence. The terrace area was absolutely beautiful, an old rustic farm house to the side, the cellar door in front of us, and just fields of vines as far as the eye could see.