We’ve missed a trip this year; unfortunately a death in the close family meant we had to cancel a much anticipated June trip to Matera and Puglia in Italy, meaning it’s now 4 months since La Palma, and still another 5 weeks till Malaysia. So the foodie substitute for travelling and discovering new foods was World Cup dinners – we brought the world to our home instead of the other way round, researching and creating meals from one of the countries competing in the World Cup most nights of the tournament. It meant we created dishes we would never otherwise have considered, from Brazil, Argentina, Colombia, Uruguay, Serbia, Iran, Egypt, with a bit of Spain and Portugal thrown in. And the odd bottle of Bordeaux to honour the eventual winners. Was great fun and seriously enhanced our repertoire. Any excuse for new food experiences!
This is a rarity amongst English summers; many weeks now of reliably hot, dry weather, and a long time since we in the south saw any significant rain. So we rounded off our New Forest weekend with a few more strolls on the dry heathland, and a wander through pine forests, saw three species of deer, squirrels, and untold numbers of the famous New Forest ponies. Bird wise, without even trying too hard we listed tree creeper, spotted flycatcher, snipe, linnet and mistle thrush amongst sightings, the weekend regularly punctuated with those lazy moments, laying with the hot sun on our faces, the air around us full of the buzz and hum of summer insects as we took on another layer of tan.
The Queen’s Head at Burley and The Railway Hotel at Ringwood rounded off the pub count, together with return visits to The Fish Inn and White Hart, the latter was where we stayed. The Fish is a great place for a riverside pint, The Railway has great beers and a sun trap garden, and you can’t help but be impressed by the business acumen of The Inn On The Furlong.
Travelling the World is wonderful, but decent English weekends with good beers are great to fit in between World trips.
The hot summer continues, fabulous for our weekend in Ringwood. A 6-mile walk around the outskirts and along the banks of the River Avon on Saturday, then all day Sunday wandering around the open heathland expanses of the forest, based around the picturesque village of Burley. Pub wise Saturday we ticked off The Inn On The Furlong, The Original White Hart, The Fish Inn and The Star, where we ate from the Thai menu. The chef, we’re told, regularly gets summoned back to Thailand to cook for the Thai royal family; never mind whether it’s true or not, it’s a good story. Better than the food actually, which is ok but nothing special. The beer is good, Ringwood charming, the weather fantastic.
Because we love it. Food is a huge part of travel – is there anything better than finding where the locals eat, finding the bars the locals go to, losing yourself in the atmosphere? No, there isn’t. Apart from maybe just being there, where the locals speak no English, we don’t speak their lingo, the menu has no translation. Fantastic. The beer and wine sending you to sleep as the waves crash ashore, waking to the call of the muezzin, fetching breakfast from the bakers. Watching that guy strum his guitar, feeling the tingle as their music washes over you and fills your soul, wishing you had the talent to join in. Finding another bar, even better than the first one. Wondering when the phrase “comfort zone” had a meaning.
We’re not kids. But we’re backpackers. We don’t have to do it, but we do. Arrive with no bed, find those bars, find those places, love this life. You don’t have to be brave, you just have to want to learn. You don’t have to seek comfort, you just have to know what you want. And travel like you’ve been there before.
Hungry? Yeah. For food, people, beer, wine, experience, something new. You can’t be too old, you can only be too afraid.
Off to the New Forest this weekend; English weekends can be great too! Earlier this year we visited Thame in Oxfordshire, brilliant little quintessentially English town with a terrific selection of great pubs, all of them rammed on a weekend night, down its High Street. Great weekend just a little spoiled by the January rain. There’s also been two Peak District walking weekends; Derbyshire is Phil’s homeland. The Biggin Hall Hotel is highly recommended by the way. And of course a weekend in Padstow, including an awesome meal at Rick Stein’s seafood restaurant, Padstow and it’s surrounding areas is a place we love and know extremely well.
So this weekend is Ringwood in the New Forest; there’s a London weekend before we head off to Malaysia in August. We have a Geneva weekend booked in November, and then our 3-week December sortie to Mexico to round off the year. Budapest is then 2019’s first destination.
Compensated for cancelling Puglia by booking Mexico. So the next trip is Malaysia and Singapore late August, then Mexico for a 3-week trip in December. Excited already.
Regrettably the Puglia trip was cancelled last minute due to family bereavement so we’ll have to arrange new trips later. So the next trip is Malaysia and Singapore starting late August; after that we’re looking at a long Mexico sojourn in December.
The first trip of 2018 is over, La Palma is a fantastic and highly recommended destination. Next up for this blog is Puglia in early June, when the blog will reopen, followed by Malaysia and Singapore in August/September.
Phil & Michaela