This weekend, I travelled up to Leeds to meet up with two of my original Disney friends, Laura and Erica, for #eatLeeds2016 (we love a hashtag) – a weekend discovering the best food and drink the city has to offer. After a bit of a false start – I got on the wrong train – I was ambushed at Leeds station with bear hugs and squeezes, and we caught up over lunch at one of Laura’s favourite tapas restaurants, La Rambla (more of this later).
As you might know, it was my birthday over the Easter weekend. One of the things I was determined to do was head out for a family meal with NO EXCUSES (we make so many plans only for the boys to suddenly remember that they have to be somewhere else or they’re double booked) with my Dad. We love Pizza Express for relaxed family dinners, so we booked there for Easter Saturday to celebrate and try out their new spring menu.
On a chilly day, is there anything better than a proper English pub with a roaring log fire? Well, yes, actually, there’s The Hinds Head, Bray. Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to the tiny village of Bray, about 5 mins from Maidenhead, to try out Heston’s glorious ‘gastropub’ (I always think that’s such a weird term – let’s just call it a pub please?). The beautiful 15th Century building is the most welcoming, cosy pub and restaurant with leather chairs, dark wood panelling and low ‘duck or grouse’ beams: just Heston enough to have a Michelin star, but pub enough that the clientele is a mix of excited visitors (me) and the locals just popping in for a pint and a chat.
Years and years ago, Allan Pickett taught me to fillet a fish. My knife skills are appalling (think Nigella but with considerably less dexterity) and he was very sweet and patient. It was at a special event at Billingsgate for Seafish, and by the end of it, I remember feeling quite clever as we sat down to eat fish we’d prepared ourselves. I still buy the odd whole fish now and give it a go, just to keep my hand in. At the time, Allan was head chef at Plateau in Canada Place, but we’ve kept in touch and I’ve known for a while that he’s been planning to open his own restaurant.
There was a really good article somewhere recently (of course I have no idea where I read it now I need it) in praise of the affordable restaurant. Of course, heading out to a lovely, expensive restaurant is something that I love to do for a special occasion, but there are so many times – family birthdays, Sundays, get-togethers with friends – when you want great food at a good local restaurant.
This week, Mr E and I took a little road trip down to Kent. We were off to Dover for a date with the gorgeous, re-imagined Disney Magic, and looking for a place to stay in Kent the night before. A friend recommended the Heath Estate winery and its pub, The Goudhurst Inn, and frankly we didn’t take much convincing.
Naples was the last stop on our Alternative Florida tour of the beautiful south western coast of Florida with Virgin Holidays. After pretty Sarasota, and the heavenly beaches of Fort Myers, it was time to head even further south to Naples. Here, we stayed in my favourite hotel, La Playa, an idyllic retreat right on the beach, and explored the coastline by boat.
This weekend we were really lucky to be invited to Disneyland Paris for the opening of the brand new Frozen themed Summer celebration, Frozen Summer Fun and to see one of the very first performances of the new Frozen sing-along show in Frontierland. From today until 13th September, guests at Disneyland can experience lots of new Frozen-themed fun, with characters from Frozen appearing all over the place!
This week, Mr E and I got to tick off one of our bucket list items when we were lucky enough to visit Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire. I make no apologies for the amount of photos you’re about to see – this is possibly the most beautiful hotel I’ve ever visited.
Oh, the Disney Dream. The delightful, delicious, delovely, delectable Disney Dream. Regular readers will know that I adore all the Disney Cruise Line ships, but there’s something about Disney Dream in particular that makes my heart sing. I think it’s because my first ever Disney Cruise was on board the Disney Dream. I just love everything about it – the restaurants, the fabulous AquaDuck water coaster, the gorgeous restaurants, the gorgeous cocktail bars, the sumptuous spa… So, if you’ve ever wondered what a cruise holiday on board a Disney Cruise Line ship is like, wonder no more. Sam (my oldest son) and I kept a diary during our cruise trip last week, and here’s part one.
As regular readers will know, I’m a huge fan of Disney Cruise Line. DCL’s fleet comprises four beautiful ships: the first, the recently reimagined Disney Magic, originally set sail in 1998, closely followed by Disney Wonder in 1999, both with the capacity to welcome 2700 guests on board. Then DCL launched two larger ships, Disney Dream in 2011 (my first, and favourite – with the incredible ‘AquaDuck’ – the world’s first ‘watercoaster’ at sea), and the Disney Fantasy in 2012, both longer than the Eiffel Tower is tall, and with a maximum occupancy of 4000 passengers.
So my lovely friend KJL did this awesome end of year roundup thing on Facebook, and it was so interesting to read, I thought I’d ask if I could do something similar. And because she is a very lovely friend, of course she said yes. So here, just for you, are the winners of 2014…
So last time I told you all about the exciting #UKdoesMacys project, and about our first visit to the store at the Mall at Millenia in Orlando.
Here are my top five things to do and places to stay in Orlando. And, well, I think you can guess the first one…
So next on our wonderful trip to Florida, we hopped back into our amazing Mustang and headed down to Sarasota, to the brand new Mall at University Town Centre (UTC for short). The brand new Macy’s there is utterly fantastic, and very state of the art. We joined store manager Kerry Yelle for a tour of the store. She’s understandably pretty proud of the place and pointed out several really cool features that are unique to this ‘smart store’. The lighting, for example, has been designed to be sustainable and the lamps don’t need replacing, plus the changing rooms have lights that only come on when you enter, to save energy.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to Raymond Blanc’s beautiful Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Great Milton, Oxfordshire. I’ve wanted to visit for ages, so I was beside myself with excitement. As I drove up, I dithered outside the front gate in my car, not really knowing what to do, and instantly, a friendly gentleman in an immaculate suit rushed out to help, escorting me to the reception and driving my car off to park it for me. First impressions? Pretty darned good.
Our lovely visit to Walt Disney World in Orlando seems such a long time ago now. I’m already pining for the sunshine, for Anna and Elsa, and, more importantly, all that amazing food.
Once upon a time (see what I did there?) I think most people thought that all you could probably eat while you were at Walt Disney World parks and resorts was junk food, or maybe Mickey-shaped ice creams. Now, people are starting to realise that Walt Disney World features some of the best dining in the world, whether you’re after a snack, quick-service, grab and go option, or proper fine dining with table service.
So what can you expect?
- Why St Petersburg, Florida is one of my favourite holiday destinations June 27, 2017
- 2017 packing and holiday clothes shopping tips June 26, 2017
- Planning the perfect picnic June 24, 2017
- Weekend wishlist: the M&S Summer Beauty Box June 22, 2017
- In which I finally get to visit Celebration, Florida June 20, 2017