Quintessential British Afternoon Tea

You’ve not had tea until you’ve had an afternoon Cream Tea. Now, you could have High Tea but really a simple Cream Tea will do.

The difference? High Tea consists of both savoury finger sandwiches & sweet pastries with your tea, delivered on a tall tiered platter – you can even have Prosecco or Champagne! Cream Tea is either savoury or fruit scones with your pot of tea.

We enjoyed a wonderful tea at The Bridge Tea Rooms in Bradford on Avon. They’re double winners for UK’s Top Tea Rooms & we could see why. The staff dress in costume & the decor is so interesting with antiques & family photos.

When we ordered we received two scones, Devonshire Cream, strawberry jam & a pot of tea made using the freshest loose leaf tea. Everything here is made using only the best local, organic ingredients, and you can certainly taste it. Wonderful!

Bath Abbey

The Abbey Church of Saint Peter & Saint Paul, most commonly known as Bath Abbey, is a parish church of the Church of England. It’s also a former Benedictine monastery in Bath, England.

Bath Abbey

Hall & Woodhouse Restaurant & Bar

This was an excellent choice for a meal in the City of Bath. The surroundings are fantastic + there is a city view from the upper level.

This super cozy & relaxed spot allows dogs & had excellent friendly, fast service.

In a way you feel you’ve been invited into someone’s home with the conversational areas to have a quick drink with friends or the large family-style dining tables.

The food was delicious from the beef or chicken burgers to the duck confit, the grilled lamb kofte to the steak frites. There were comforting choices of desserts like brownies with ice cream & caramel sauce and even vegan chocolate torte with non dairy ice cream.

We were celebrating a birthday in our midst, so the server kindly brought over a glass of Prosecco.

Definitely would recommend!

Farleigh Hungerford Castle, Bath

This 14th Century fortified mansion, 9 miles from the City of Bath, stands in the incredible valley of the river Frome. There is an audio tour that tells of the 300 year occupation of the Hungerford family, sometimes intriguing but also gruesome…

See the chapel with rare medieval paintings, family tombs, displays in the Priest’s house, and a crypt with the best collection of human shaped lead coffins in Britain.

Beachin’ it Branksome Chine Style

About a 2 hour drive from where we’re staying in Trowbridge in Bradford on Avon, is this fantastic velvet sand beach, called Branksome Chine in County Dorset. We were lucky enough to hit a beautiful day with a temperature of 27 degrees & the perfect breeze. When you dipped a toe in, the water was cold for the first moments & then felt so refreshing!

We had hoped to do a little body surfing but the usual 3 foot waves were more like 1 foot, so just had some fun swimming & splashing. If you wander down the boardwalk a ways there is a little hut that had delicious traditional (& not so traditional) Cornish Pasties, fresh sausage rolls, ice cream + hot & cold drinks.

There was another restaurant where you could sit inside or on the patio overlooking the sea to have your fish & chips + across the parking lot, a walk up window with snacks & drinks We noticed on our trek that there were tons of chalets you could rent for the day, with a sink & small fridge, patio set + a few more luxuries to enjoy your day at the beach. Though most beachgoers, like us, decided to bring a small tent/shelter & mats to lay on the sand.

The velvety sand beach of Branksome Chine

Air Canada gets it mostly right

Going into this trip has been a little stressful, what with worrying about the luggage situation the world over, Covid, heatwaves, hardly any car rentals available (+ $$$?!)…

We originally booked awhile ago, prior to the luggage situation, so prepaid for two checked bags with our flights. Once we saw what was happening with the piles & stacks of luggage not getting through, not to mention lost luggage, we decided to try to pack three weeks worth of things into carry-ons instead. We called Air Canada to get a refund on the checked bags ($100) but they wouldn’t do it stating it isn’t their fault the luggage situation is what it is but it’s Heathrow Airport’s… that may be, we said, but we had paid you for a service that now you won’t have to be providing… nope, too bad, they said.

We packed, repacked & weighed our bags about 10 times because not only are we doing England but also 6 days in Portugal. The Air Canada carry-on doesn’t have a weight limit but must fit in the metal rack they have for sizing. Seems easy enough, yeah? Portugal, however, will only allow a 17.5 lb carry-on aboard. Now, our carry-on bags are the lightest we could find at 5 lbs… this means you can only put 12.5 lbs of items in… that’s not very much in the way of clothing & personal items. There’s an allowed personal item as well but that is only 4.5 lbs too so pack carefully…

We arrived at Vancouver International Airport about 1:30 pm for our 8:15 pm flight as we had heard & seen horror stories about lineups through Customs. It was surprising how few people were actually at the airport in general on this lovely Saturday in July.

We decided to try to go through security right away and couldn’t believe that we were really only about 20 minutes, start to finish. It would have been closer to 10 minutes but one of us carries a medication kit that needs to be kept cold & it seemed to draw attention. It was drug tested on the way through, with zero issue & the pleasant staff were efficient.

We wanted to have a bite to eat in case we weren’t happy with the inflight meal, so landed at Lift cafe where we had excellent service & fresh, delicious salads & a tea & coffee. There were only two wait staff but they did an excellent job.

We found a spot at our gate (Gate 55) to relax & charge our phones etc for awhile. We did a lot of stretching & walking about to get ready for the 8-9 hour flight. It’s always interesting to wander around & see any art installations in the airports around the world. YVR had a dress made of paper, a papier-mâché sculpture, wood carvings & some well done paintings. The decor of YVR is beautiful with its Indigenous flavour & natural decor including indoor streams, carvings & aquariums.

We boarded the plane (Boeing 777) with no trouble & were pleased to see we did get plenty of legroom as we’d upgraded slightly in Economy Class. It was the usual tricky situation with trying to fit everyone’s carry-ons in the overhead, eventually but we were off.

Very pleasant air crew, and luckily not one issue with passengers remaining masked for the entire flight. The meal was alright, chicken with gnocchi, celeriac salad, and a bun with a brownie for dessert. Everyone settled in quietly for our overnight flight. Breakfast was a small croissant & yogourt. The seats were pretty squishy as far as width, we noted just how much more room there was in the class ahead of us … wider, further reclining seats with more space between each seat, and a proper foot rest.

Our flight was on time, in fact we had been 6 minutes early, but we had to wait on the tarmac for about 15 or 20 minutes as another plane was in our spot. Once we deplaned, we were relieved at how easy it was to march off, and avoid waiting at the luggage carousels. There was a literal WALL of baggage in the baggage claim area so we were glad to have made the extra effort to avoid checking bags. (A relative of ours just returned from a Scotland/Iceland trip where they had taken strictly carry-ons but had been forced to check their bags due to storage issues… two of the four travellers have still never seen that checked baggage since… they were without it their entire trip & have come back home… it’s been over a month… terrible).

Overall, a satisfactory first leg of our holiday. We’ll chat about our car rental nightmare later…

Travel Problems in the Chaos of Covid & it’s Aftermath…

Follow along with us the next few weeks as we take our first international trip since December 2018.

We’re heading to England via Heathrow Airport then on to Portugal via Faro Airport.

We’ve decided not to take any checked baggage because of the shortage of staff to deal with it at Heathrow… it’s a hard shell carry-on suitcase all the way for us this vacation. Remember your carry-on luggage with say, Air Canada, doesn’t have a weight limit but it MUST fit in the overhead compartment. You may also take one personal item but it MUST fit under your seat. Here are some suitable hand luggage suggestions https://shop.samsonite.com/ Don’t be that person with more than your allowance as it’s not fair to other travellers who have done as asked.

We’ll be arriving for our evening departure at least 5 hours ahead of time to avoid any delays due to traffic or lineups while going through security. Expert Traveller Tips: Have your allowable liquids in ONE separate, clear plastic 1 litre bag ready to place in an examination tray. If you have any over 100 mls or more than the one 1 litre bag, you will be expected to get rid of them. Also, have your medications & their paperwork together in a separate bag so it’s easily checked.

We need to get to our first destination (London, Heathrow) to get our rental car on time (the only vehicle available!). It’s at least 2.5 hours to the City of Bath where we’re headed. There are strikes going on regarding the trains & possibly other transit so it’s imperative that we get this rental.

After our holiday with family in Bath & Bradford on Avon, we head back to London for one day to be ready for the next leg of our trip… Portugal.

We’ve been reading that there are forest fires, a heat wave, the worst Covid Ba.4 & Ba.5 numbers in the world, also pilot & air crew strikes happening right now in Portugal… we’re completely vaccinated & have all of the sanitizers & masks we could possibly need but we have no control over fires & strike action. As professional traveller, travel writer & television personality, Rick Steves wisely always says, be prepared for everything. https://www.ricksteves.com/

Watch for updates here regarding any flight delays, difficult travel issues, : http://www.myreturnticket.ca

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Mount Cheam

A beginning-of-Fall trek up Mount Cheam in beautiful British Columbia, Canada.

One of the most spectacular views in the Fraser Valley, Mount Cheam offers a 360-degree panoramic view from Chilliwack and the communities along the Fraser River, Jones Lake, the surrounding peaks, and Mount Baker to the south.

This is an intermediate hike. It takes between 4.5 and 8 hours to complete, depending on weather & the hiker’s fitness level.

The Forest Service Road is also a very rugged roadway requiring 4 wheel drive vehicles.

Hornby Island Eats

Here are a couple of really great places to eat while you’re on the Island:

Hornby Island Bakery & Pizzeria – super good pizza & baked goods. The owner Jon was super friendly, opening just for us, and chatted with us about his love for his craft. Fresh, thin crust and the toppings were A1.

Isla de Lerena Vineyard – amazing charcuterie, huge platter, and then delicious chicken florentine, trout meunière & slow braised boneless short ribs with a red and white wine. It was great to speak with the chef who clearly enjoys his work.

Trout meunière
Chicken Florentine
Braised short ribs
The girls at the vineyard
Wow. Charcuterie
Red and white wine
Aw hell ya, pizza
Baked goods – brownie, lemon blueberry lavender scone and Greek pizza scone
Fresh, thin crust, delicious
Owner Jon
Menu at Isla de Lerena
Isla de Lerena vineyard
Isla de Lerena vineyard

Throwback: San Francisco Airport Historical Typewriter Display

Now here’s a little throwback & some amazing historical pieces – from the typewriter used by Ernest Hemingway to write A Moveable Feast, to one used by the Beatles to knock out their famous tunes, to Tennessee Williams’ typewriter used to create Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Ray Bradbury’s where he wrote The Martian Chronicles… this display really captured our attention while on standby at the San Francisco Airport back in 2018.

I fell in love with these heavy little beasts back when I was a kid, my grandfather used one for work. I loved the smell, the typetty typetty & how great it was when you didn’t make a mistake & didn’t have to use the corrector tape. Hours of fun!

I loved lining up the carbon paper to make a second copy & coming up with all kinds of stories. I later got to try my Nana’s electric typewriter but somehow the gentler touch it took just wasn’t as satisfying as pounding it out on the older versions.

SFO Museum was established by the Airport Commission in 1980 for the purposes of humanizing the Airport environment, providing visibility for the unique cultural life of San Francisco, and providing educational services for the traveling public. The Museum was granted initial accreditation from the American Alliance of Museums in 1999, reaccredited in 2005, and has the distinction of being the only accredited museum in an airport. Today, SFO Museum features approximately twenty galleries throughout the Airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions, as well as the San Francisco Airport Commission Aviation Library and Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum, a permanent collection dedicated to the history of commercial aviation. To browse current and past exhibitions, research their collection, or for more information, please visit www.flysfo.com/museum.

I never became a famous author but I have been published, so there’s that.

#typewriters @sanfranciscoairport #museum #display #writing #StartThemYoung #TravelWriter myreturnticket.ca ❤️

Guest Interview: Kelsey Forsyth

My Return Ticket:

1. What is your name, where were you born & where do you live now?

Guest – Kelsey Forsyth:

My name is Kelsey Forsyth. I was born in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada and I currently live in London, United Kingdom.

My Return Ticket:

2. What sort of traveller are you? Full time / part time / business / backpacker etc?

Kelsey:

I would like to think of myself as some sort of backpacker. Impulsive, yet methodical. Someone who goes and explores places because of my curiosity from seeing it in text books in school or seeing pictures and thinking, I would love to see that in real life.

The last few trips I’ve taken, I have only taken a ruck sack because I don’t want to have to pay any airline additional fees, but my first trip overseas alone, I did take a full backpackers style backpack which I do love, I just don’t love the cost of paying for it. I try to travel as often as I can and as long as I can. When I lived in Canada I had a contract job which allowed me to have large chunks of time off during the Spring, so I usually made the most of that. I moved to the UK officially on April 14th, 2020, but there were no flights out of Canada during that time due to Covid, so I left the country on March 21st which ended up being the last flight to the UK because the flights before and after mine were all cancelled. Impulsive, to say the least.

My Return Ticket:

3. How do you fund your travelling?

Kelsey:

I have always worked. I’m pretty decent at saving money and I would work several jobs at a time, often far away from home allowing me to squirrel money away for adventures.

My Return Ticket:

4. How long have you been interested in travelling & give us a quick, bullet point list of some of the places you’ve been.

Kelsey:

I think I have always been interested in travelling. I just enjoy experiencing, exploring and seeing things instead of having things explained to me. I like the opportunity to walk around a place, eat the food and try out activities in different areas with different cultures. It’s amazing what this world is made of and it would be an absolute shame to not have the opportunity or to create the opportunity for myself to see it all first hand. I have driven across Canada twice with the exception of New Foundland and Labrador or any of the territories (although I was 20 minutes away from the Yukon Territory once). I have been to every corner of British Columbia, Seattle Washington, New York & Portland, Oregon. I have been to:

• Houston, Texas

• Jamaica

• Cuba

• Cayman Islands

• Mexico

• Ireland

•Iceland

• England

• Scotland

• Wales

• Germany

• The Netherlands

• France

• Spain

• Australia

• New Zealand

and most recently,

• Portugal

My Return Ticket:

5. Where is the best place you have ever been and why?

Kelsey:

The best place I have ever been is a very subjective question. I think the best beach I have ever been to has been in the Cayman Islands. The water was stunning and the people were so nice. But I could never live there.

I loved London from the moment I first arrived and knew it could be a place I could easily move to. I had left London for less than a week and booked a trip to return again to continue to explore the area I had read so much about from history books in High School.

My Return Ticket:

6. Where is the worst place you have been and why?

Kelsey:

The worst place I have probably been was New York. I was there on a class trip when I was in grade 11 and I enjoyed it to see the things that I got to see, but I really didn’t like the food. American food is just not good. It is so far from real and just made me sick the whole time.

Also, the people were horrible. I watched one of our special education teachers get knocked over and her glasses flew off and stepped on trying to cross the street because people give no care about anyone other than themselves.

It’s an overwhelming and tragic feeling in the United States of that kind of mentality and one that is truly unique to America.

My Return Ticket:

7. Do you have a Bucket List? Give us the top 5 on that list.

Kelsey:

I sort of do and I sort of don’t have a bucket list. The world is evolving and so am I in that time. Some places I used to have absolutely no interest in, I now would love to go see and explore them as I grow and learn more about my comfort zones and stepping outside them.

Currently, the next few places I would love to visit and explore would be

🧳 Italy

🧳 Croatia

🧳 Greece

🧳 Egypt

🧳 Morocco

Again, that is a short list and there are many beautiful countries missing from that list that I would love to visit.

My Return Ticket:

8. What 3 things (apart from the essentials – food/water etc) do you always travel with?

Kelsey:

Recently, I have only been traveling with essentials because it saves a lot on cost, but I do sneak in some items that are for vanity. I always take my mascara, a book and my own bar of soap.

My Return Ticket:

9. What was NOT a good travel experience & why?

Kelsey:

I really enjoy traveling by myself. I didn’t realize that until I had done it on my own and then met up with a best friend after. I had already become accustomed to enjoying walking and checking out different places and seeing things one way, while my friend enjoyed the glamorous side of traveling, which I also did, don’t get me wrong, but I enjoyed other aspects as well and it, at times, was met with resistance or hesitation so it made me feel like we both weren’t able to enjoy our experiences because we were both looking out for that the other would enjoy more than we were enjoying the experiences for ourselves.

It’s important to find the right person to do this with, and we had lived together and worked together so I didn’t expect our wires to cross the way they did, so it was a bit of a shock and made for a bit of an awkward travel experience.

My Return Ticket:

10. Where was your most recent trip? Tell us a little about it. Also please share some photos!

Kelsey:

My most recent travel experience was to Portugal. I happened to have a four day weekend allowing me to jump on a plane and travel 2.5 hours south to Lisbon. It was such a great experience and I am so glad I had the opportunity to go.

Everything was hard for a lot of people because of Covid and the continuous lockdown that the UK had seen since Christmas 2020. It was a long winter and opening back up again in the summer was slow and delayed.

Countries were being added to an amber list which meant you could travel with particular cautions and luckily being double vaccinated allowed me the luxury to start living life as close to normal as we can get, post pandemic.

We arrived in Portugal and went through security. We needed to prove our vaccine status and prove a recent Covid Test which was negative. It didn’t take too long to get through and we went to check into our Airbnb.

It was a great location, about a 20 minute walk into the old town, which was stunning and beautiful. We took a ride on the tram to go up one of the massive hills and then walked it the rest of the time.

We found an amazing restaurant with fresh seafood and pitchers of Sangria for 10 Euros! We visited it twice in our 4 day stay and did walking tours and climbed mountains to see castles in Sintra.

We relaxed on the beach after that in Cascais. It was such a nice experience to travel the world again and continue to be able to appreciate the things we could lose when things like Global Warming and Pandemics take over. The world is much smaller than we all think.

My Return Ticket:

Thanks so much, Kelsey, for giving us a glimpse into your adventures & we’ve noted a few of the same Bucket List destinations on your mind are also on our own – maybe we’ll see you somewhere around the world! Safe travels!

#travel #portugal #destinations #beaches #BucketList http://myreturnticket.ca

Kelsey Forsyth
Portugal 2021
Portugal 2021
Portugal 2021
Portugal 2021

The Greenheart of Beautiful British Columbia, Canada – Chilliwack – a photo gallery.

Once again, pictures are worth a thousand words… through the viewfinder: Jessica Peters.

Teapot Hill, Cultus Lake, British Columbia, Canada

Even in rainy weather, this is quite a beautiful hike. It is quite steep & takes a lot of energy so be sure to take water & a snack. It’s called Teapot Hill for a reason… how many spouted vessels will you find?

Juniper Beach Provincial Park

JuniperBeachProvincialPark, PoisonIvy, explore, travel, CrazyCreekCampground, Revelstoke, rustic, camping, trailer, vacation, holiday, river, nature, BCParks photos by Deb VanLaerhoven

Wandering… Skihist Provincial Park – Lytton, British Columbia, Canada

If you’re looking to go camping or even just daytripping – British Columbia has many beautiful spots to go. Really, there isn’t much to say when pictures say it all…

Here is a great link for this campground & more:

http://bcparks.ca/explore/parkpgs/skihist/

photos by Deb VanLaerhoven

#daytrip #camping #BritishColumbia #Canada #Lytton #Skihist #campground #explore #travel #roadtrip #sunset #trailer #nature #mountains #photography #holiday #vacation #SkihistProvincialPark

Sunday Drive

Sometimes you just need to go for a drive… get out, let the wind blow through your hair.

Sunday, Mother’s Day as it happens, we just got in the vehicle, grabbed a Starbucks & went. We didn’t have to go far from where we live to find some beautiful scenery & nature, even some wildlife… eagles.

And sometimes, pictures speak louder than words… in this case… it’s true… see for yourself!

#Abbotsford #BritishColumbia #Canada #FraserRiver #Hatzic #nature #river #drive #eagle #SundayDrive #tugboat #wildlife

Since we’re grounded…

It’s a very uncertain time right now… we’re all supposed to be in self isolation due to this horrific COVID19 virus. Usually, I work at my day job 6 days a week. I have my co workers counting on me for a place to work as well. Unfortunately, most of our communities’ small & non essential businesses have been been shut down to try to control this thing. It’s the same all over the world.

We’re all afraid of what this will mean to us & our families. We’re being promised monetary aid so we’re really counting on that. Obviously, we won’t be living the same life or travelling for a long time so I was feeling overwhelmed by it all when I happened upon something so beautiful…

I was scrolling along on Facebook, trying to be sure we were keeping as many of our clients informed of the situation at our work as possible, when I discovered this incredible artist. His name is Dermot Brennan. I thought, hey, here’s a way to not only enjoy another country without travelling but maybe it will help him too. I’ll let you just enjoy each piece for what they are. Peaceful. Delicate. Poetic. Here is a little bit about him as an artist:


I’m a professional watercolour artist living & working in Dublin. I’ve painted from childhood & have painted all over the world; my work is exhibited weekly in Dublin’s Merrion Square open air art gallery .

I have had several successful one-man shows & continue to work & exhibit throughout the country .

My work is appearing in the Dublin Art Book in May – a book of paintings depicting Dublin in all its beauty.

I sell all my work online through my FB page – anyone interested just needs to message me about individual pieces for price. (See link below)

I’m now also working in oils. My work is also in the Kildare Gallery Carton House & is also on display in the painters’ gallery which is the gallery run by the magazine of the same name .

https://www.facebook.com/Contejour

Merrion Square, Dublin
Rainy days, Dublin
Stephens Green , Dublin
Father & son, Wicklow
Donegal view

#dublin #ireland #art #covid19 #selfisolation #quarantined #watercolours #artist

Why hello… Winter…

I live in beautiful British Columbia. That’s literally our tagline… no, for real, it’s on our licence plates.

I choose to live here because we have four definite seasons: a lovely, brisk, sunny – (sometimes rainy) Spring, a warm, green, (sometimes rainy) Summer, a brisk, casual, (sometimes rainy) Fall, and a bracing, chilly, (sometimes rainy) Winter.

I do not choose to live where there are below zero temperatures, howling winds for days, blizzards that end in the snow compacting on to thick, slippery ice covered roadways & therefore, having to forgo work. But this is what we have so far, in the first month of 2020.

I shouldn’t complain. It’s not like Alberta or other places where you have to plug in your vehicle so it doesn’t seize up. It’s not like I couldn’t decide to just go to the town where I grew up & where my work is & stay there for the rest of the week’s weather warning. So I do.

Across the street from my work is a Coast Hotel www.coasthotels.com/hotels/bc/chilliwack/coast-chilliwack-hotel/ So in-between the snow flurries, my husband & his 4×4, take me across the frozen tundra that was Highway 1 just two days ago… I’ve booked in for a few days because I have a business to run. I’ve call forwarded the phone to my mobile but there’s so many other things to do. I can easily go back & forth from here. In my snow boots. And mitts.

As I enter the lobby, the warmth rushes out at me through the automatic sliding doors, and I already feel better. It’s a very pretty, spacious lobby.

I check in, the girl at the desk is friendly & efficient. I found a discounted rate online when I booked because I have an Aeroplan card, so that’s impressive. Apparently there is a rewards club where you can also earn a discounted room rate.

I head up to my room, loaded down with my laptop for work, eReader & clothes for a few days. The door opens on the first try, thank you, my hands are very full. Nice room, two beds, and a view of the pretty, semi-frozen duck pond & local library www.fvrl.bc.ca/locations/chilliwack.php There is also a Save on Foods grocery store directly across the street, along with STARBUCKS!! www.starbucks.com Chopped Leaf www.choppedleaf.ca Subway www.subway.com, some other food stores, a clothing store called The Top Shop, a dollar store, liquor store, dentist etc. There are city buses running around this neck of the… uh woods… so it’s not hard to get around. Anyway, back to the hotel.

Loving the nice touch of the paper cranes on the neatly made beds with their crisp linens. I check… yes, extremely clean beds & in the closet ~ extra blanket & pillows. Check.

There’s a good desk & chair where I’ll likely do more writing & work over the next few days.

Decent sized television. Nice spot to sit & read with good lighting.

Very nice, clean bathroom with a BIDET. Wow now this is living.

There are plenty of towels. I’m really liking their implementation of large size shampoo, conditioner, body wash & body lotion instead of all the tiny, less earth friendly ones. There’s never enough shampoo or conditioner in those anyway. I’ve chosen their ‘Go Green’ option, which means they don’t clean your room every day. I have enough towels & I’m not an untidy person so really don’t need to have daily maid service. There’s a good size mini fridge for my lactose free milk. And what do I see here?? The complimentary coffee. Starbucks. Yesssssss. There are plenty of drawers & adequate clothes hanging space plus an iron & board.

I decide to unpack (I use packing cubes so everything goes into the drawers in those), stow my suitcase, charge my mobile, computer, iWatch & eReader (plenty of outlets, yessss) & order the steak bite appetizer I know they serve downstairs in Prestons restaurant. prestonsrestaurant.ca/chilliwack Then I see they also have clam chowder… I’m in. Prestons looks out over the duck pond & I can see the indoor pool from there too. Next door is Prestons lounge, which is also good & a little more casual. Sometimes they have live entertainment, which has been great each time I’ve stumbled upon them after a meeting or function here.

It’s quiet here, which is hard to believe when we’re smack in the middle of Downtown Chilliwack, but it’s a relief. There are plenty of other restaurants in walking distance, plus a hair salon www.michaelsonmainstreet.com with a boutique spa studio70skincare.ca There’s an escape room www.4descape.com and an antique store m.facebook.com/circavintagefinds.darbytrudeau and so many other great stores to get lost in for a few hours.

Let’s recap:

✔️clean rooms & linens

✔️well appointed

✔️quiet

✔️decent price per night

✔️excellent location

✔️indoor pool

✔️restaurant on site

✔️good food

✔️meeting & events rooms

✔️bar & lounge

Note to self: being stuck overnight in your old hometown in the not-so-great weather… not so bad.

More things to do: tourismchilliwack.com

For Info about Chilliwack: www.chilliwack.com

History of Chilliwack: www.chilliwackmuseum.ca

If you’d like to do business in Chilliwack:

www.chilliwackchamber.com

downtownchilliwack.com

I’ve Bean Ambleside

Sometimes when you’re early for an appointment in #Vancouver you have to check out a #local #cafe #SRSLY the best #moist #light #airy #NotTooSweet #CinnamonBun I’ve eaten in a long time … #ApplePieCinnamonBun #vegan #GlutenFree The #traditional #macchiato was #smooth #rich #satisfying & just the thing on a rainy day. I had some work to catch up on with my laptop so settled in.

And sometimes you learn the best things along the way… As I was enjoying my smooth, rich #espresso I was looking around, surreptitiously taking #photos (people are more relaxed & natural if you just quietly catch them doing what they love) I could see this was not just a cute place that looked clean & inviting… it’s a #restaurant #business with a great #message & #philosophy ~

They’re committed to their #coffeefarmers & their families in #FincaElCarrizal #Guatemala. Many coffee #plantations are located in rural areas where #travel to school becomes a barrier to education. So in 2008, they did something about that. They are now able to provide #school for children from kindergarten to grade 7 right on the #farm where their parents work!

After I’d gotten home & had time to check them out more I realized there are tons of locations of these kind-hearted coffee shops – 27 to be exact & I’d had no idea. They also have lots of loyal coffee subscribers who get their beans by #delivery. I suggest looking them up at http://www.batwcoffee.com for more of their story. A portion of every purchase goes toward the #education of a child in #Guatemala #ethical @beanambleside

LAX – Los Angeles Airport

Wow. I mean just W.O.W… so we had been in San Diego & Los Angeles for about 6 days & were heading home. We were to leave from LAX. A pretty big, busy place, right? First of all, the bus driver nearly drove past our terminal. She caught herself just in time & off we leapt with our luggage. We got inside departures, the check in went well & the polite staff member said to us “Just head back to your left to Gate G. Have a safe flight” He even pointed in that direction. We about face-d, walked back toward where he gestured to & came upon… a wall. We looked around. Nowhere to go but outdoors. Literally everything else was blocked off. I discovered a small sign that kinnnnnnnd of points in the direction of where we had just been dropped off… do we actually go outside? Sure enough, as we ventured out, we saw a sidewalk & more construction barricades so we cautiously walked that way… behind us were other travellers doing the same thing. There really was only two choices: we go back to where we checked in and say “Ummm where do we go again?” or we continue on. We continued on. Sure enough, a ways down the sidewalk, we spotted some more somewhat useful signage that pointed to the gates.

That’s when we could not believe our eyes. Now, don’t get us wrong, we understand that as more people travel & airports etc are being used way more often by tons more people – improvements must be made, renovations have to be done & there will be a little confusion. We’ve been in airports during renos before. (London, Heathrow… the long, painful night of the ongoing clanging security alarms & jack hammers…) There really is no good time to do construction in such a busy place. The thing is: signage would clear up the majority of issues. As would strategically placed staff. We found ourselves being herded like confused cattle into what can only be described as a holding pen. There were about 80 chairs & eleventy-billion people. Ok so not quite that many, but you get the point. We decided to eat something, since we had arrived three hours ahead of our flight (as you’re supposed to do) & you’re never sure if there’s food served on board or not. We hauled ourselves into the Starbucks lineup. That was about 45 minutes. Now they were hustling & getting orders in but with only two machines – you can only make what you can make… Having ranted about that I will also say that I was thrilled to see more healthy food options & also some for dairy free, gluten free, vegan diners. There was a Shake Shack nearby as well, but not as healthy and just as packed full. We managed to score two seats as someone left to line up to board their flight. I needed to wash my hands & go to the loo so spent an hour in that lineup too. We thought we’d wander about & see some shops. There were kiosks. With bug spray, ear plugs, Tylenol & water. That’s. It. No windows or stores to peruse. Not even one. I swear I saw a fist fight brewing over an outlet with a USB port since quite a few that were in the seats weren’t working.

It would have been good to have some signs or staff to let you know, once you’re through security – There. Is. NOTHING. Nothing to see. Nothing to do. Nowhere to sit. Travellers can then make the choice to spend maybe just one more hour wandering & looking around prior to checking in. Upon reflection, there seemed to be a shortage of staff in general… garbage containers were overflowing everywhere, there was no one to ask for directions or advice. There was one very determined woman who worked in the loo, making sure everything was clean & kept in order, so kudos to her.

We’ve learned that you have to expect just about anything when travelling. You have to roll with it. (Speaking of roll with it: For the love of God, get a good suitcase with decent spinner wheels… just spend the money, get the warranty & for a few years – travel much easier.) Always, always have something to read with you. Also, enjoying who you are travelling with is a major plus 😉

Barely Here an Afternoon and…

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We only arrived at @Maya.losangeles #hotel about 2 pm or so & we’ve been treated so well already!  Our #room is spacious, clean & bright with an amazing #view of the #harbour – we even have a little #patio with chairs & a table. We were taken on a mini #tour by a staff member who happened to see us wandering along, he set us up with #margaritas at the #bar & then we spent a few happy hours at the #pool. There was LIVE #Caribbean – type #music & the perfect weather – #sunshine! We #swam for a bit then #CaughtSomeRays Once the sun started to go down we went back to our room to change for #dinner & heard a #KnockAtTheDoor … it was #champagne #compliments of the #hotel for our #anniversary! What a way to #TreatGuests – #5StarTreatment Now we can’t wait to see #WhatsForDinner in the #WaterfrontRestaurant

 

Sally in the Woods, near Bath, England

The drive to #Bath, #Somerset in #England is normally quite pleasant, with the gorgeous rolling fields, somewhat crumbling old stone fences & the narrow, winding roads. I love to watch for sheep & to see how green the fields are. But there’s one spot I’ve been made aware of that I’d rather not travel under cover of darkness… #SallyintheWood – that cuts through Brown’s Folly. This is where most locals agree that the woodland is #haunted by the #ghost of a young #murdered girl.

Many have blamed multiple fatal, otherwise unexplained, car crashes on the spooky sightings of a young girl running into the road & childlike screams from the darkness have been heard. Some say the birds don’t sing along this spooky stretch of roadway…

There are a couple of different versions of the tale (another involving a woman who lived in a hut in the woods that local children insisted was a witch) but the most discussed in neighbourhood pubs amongst the locals has been that Sally was a young gypsy girl held prisoner in a tower without food & water and left to die.

Travelling down that particular stretch of countryside (in full daylight I might add, thankyouverymuch) I noted a huge, steep drop off on one side of the road… this holiday we noted many permanent cement barricades (or bollards) being put in, which I applaud, since the combination of a narrow, winding road and a sharp plunge has certainly meant disaster in the past.

Apparently, a number of ghost hunting websites have tried to discover more but most are too afraid to venture down into the area since it’s the blackest black at night… so it seems though young Sally may be long dead, her chilling tale remains… watch this video below…

https://www.facebook.com/223915807945847/posts/806142939723128/

The Globe Inn, Bath England

Sometimes the best ideas come from the mouths of babes… our young grandson, Jack, is often quite wise beyond his years… an old soul in a 6 year old’s body. An innocent #dinner-out- together suggestion has become, in MY opinion anyway, a new favourite #dining #destination… The Globe Inn in Bath.

There were five adults & 2 children in all and each of us was quite satisfied with our evening and our meals.

Belly up to the bar, mate!

There was definitely lots to choose from – a full choice #menu or a #prixfixe menu that looked quite good too. We started with lager or cider, both deemed #delicious, then ordered things like #fishandchips #gammonsteak #lobsterfishcakes #burgerandfries and even #sausages Each one tasty & filling… so much so that #pudding was only ordered by the children There was #orangejelly & #fudgebrownie with #vanillaicecream

The #children’smenu was quite good for choices & provided some puzzles & jokes while we waited.

The meal didn’t take long to arrive & we had a lovely time in the cozy, #familyfriendly #pub style atmosphere.

The staff were polite, also efficient & the #restaurant was very clean, warm & comfortable since it was a freezing -2 outside.

A definite place to return to in the warmer weather as there is also an #outdoorpatio that looked nice.

Thanks for a great evening!

https://www.vintageinn.co.uk/restaurants/south-west/theglobenewtonsaintloe/restaurantsfood#

Berlin, Germany 🇩🇪

When my husband, my travel partner, said this year when we go to see our family in England for New Year’s we will also be making a 3 day stop in Berlin… I thought, Berlin? Where on earth did that come from? We hadn’t talked about going there before but we do try to add on a little side trip somewhere along the way as it’s often much cheaper to do so once we’re already in England (rather than flying direct from Canada). He’s much more adventurous than I & sometimes I wonder if he feels he’s dragging me along in his fast paced wake… but he’s always well prepared & really, a joy to be with so hey… let’s do this!

We flew in to London, Heathrow & raced to find what gate we needed to be at after leaving our large luggage at the airport.

**PRO TIP HERE: Since we’re often bringing gifts for family & clothing for approximately a 10 day trip overall, we have learned it’s much easier to pay to have our large luggage stored at the airport & take only a carry on with the personal items we need for the 2 – 3 day trip… it’s not a lot of money to do this but it makes such a difference to be able to just hop on your connecting flight with a little carry on and take off. We only really need a few changes of clothes, our laptops, phones & ID so why drag everything else?

We boarded our flight & arrived in Berlin where it was fairly cold & as it was evening, we couldn’t see a lot but managed to find our way to the taxi stand so we could get to our hotel. We know that we’re pretty much at the mercy of any cabbie in the country we’ve chosen to visit but you always hope that they’re not going to take advantage of you… well he did and we ended up taking a fairly convoluted route to get to our hotel & charging way too much to do so. (We discovered this the next day when we rented a car & found the airport within minutes of our hotel… sigh) Regardless, we arrived at the Titanic Chaussee Berlin & immediately we’re impressed with how it looked.

https://www.titanic.com.tr/titanicchausseeberlin/default-en.html

It’s very classy & modern but has touches of history in the art that is everywhere, including Brandenburg Gate shown on the desk top in our room. The Charlotte Lounge is the first thing you see as you enter from the street, it’s across from the front desk & is pretty cool.

We dropped our bags in the room & then went down for a drink & a little something to eat at the Lounge. It was a nice place to sit & chat, the food was good once I finally got it. It did take awhile as somehow between writing down the meatballs with mashed potatoe I ordered (I even pointed it out to the waiter on the menu in case he couldn’t understand me), he’d forgotten it.

We decided to make it a fairly early evening, there’s at least an 8 hour time difference between home & Germany. The lobby was still decorated for the holidays, but even without that you can see it’s very lovely. There is a restaurant on the main floor & apparently another on the first floor for breakfast only.

Of course we did nose around to see the pool and spa area but were extremely disappointed in the fact that despite being hotel guests (& this is not a cheap hotel) that it would be a further 20 Euros per person per day to use the pool! That was not made clear on the hotel website or we may have decided not to stay here. We do enjoy a good swim, especially after a long flight spent sitting. Needless to say, we did not swim.

Our room was really nice, clean & a good size. The bathroom did not have a bathtub but did have a large shower. The beds were comfortable & when we asked for extra pillows they were brought right away. There is a safe & mini fridge but you’d need to ask for an iron & ironing board.

In the morning we headed out quite early as we had pre-booked a Cold War Walking Tour. We were to meet in town at a McDonald’s, so in true Franklin Fashion, we arrived about an hour and a half early 😉 We can’t stand being late or rushed & since we had to navigate the underground in a completely different language, we thought we’d just get ourselves there & then have a wander about until the tour meetup. We actually found our way fairly quickly, really only stopping to ask a couple of questions… of course we did discover that many locals over the age of 55 refused to speak English to us, despite our efforts to speak German, so we found it best to ask younger people. They often spoke excellent English & smilingly corrected our attempts at their language. We saw an outdoor Christmas Market that was still running (but not open until late afternoon) & found an amazing old church, Gedenkhalle, but could see it had been damaged in the war. Massive beautiful round windows, that probably had held stained glass at one time, stood empty with dark, scorch marks all around them. It was still very beautiful, a work of art.

Of course we had to have a #Starbucks because well, we just did. It was cold & damp & hit the spot. You always know what you’re getting with Starbucks.

We met up with our guide & fellow tourists for our walking tour & set out after getting underground day passes (don’t forget to validate them!). It was pretty cold & damp but really only added to the feel of the whole history of the tour.

https://www.insidertour.com/tours.php/cat/27/id/42/title/Cold-War-Berlin

Sometimes, I suppose, as much as I like to think we’re open minded… I guess we can be quick to judge. We quietly said to each other how it was very drab & dull in Berlin… the weather certainly didn’t help much but it was just so… dismal. After having been on the Cold War tour with our excellent guide Rachel, we realized just exactly why it appears so sullen here… Berlin had just been through an awful war, its people poor & their homes & communities ravaged… only to have the Berlin Wall erected in less than four hours one evening, while most people slept. They woke to discover they had been divided in half, East & West, leaving many families torn apart, some could no longer get to their jobs & some, who had been at work that evening, would not be able to get back home. Berliners, who had already suffered so much, now had lost family members, jobs & their pensions etc overnight… due to the Wall. Our initial impression of a bleak Berlin was suddenly shown to be hasty & short sighted. As we shivered in the cold, we could sense the hopelessness, as Rachel described the years of struggle & sadness and we could only imagine the despair these people must have lived with. So many attempts to escape were made & thwarted. So many lives ruined. I felt guilty to know I could easily walk in to a cafe or restaurant to escape the cold & I could afford to buy something warm to fill my tummy when they must have wondered where their next meal would even come from… a very sobering day, for certain.

Berlin takes you back in time

rs6.JPGThe Reichstag witnessed a turbulent history of Berlin and is one of the city’s most significant historical buildings. You can feel the it as you walk to the front of this magnificent structure. The Reichstag is an internationally recognized symbol of democracy and the current home of the German parliament. The dome: it’s not often that you can enjoy such an amazing panorama while, just beneath your feet, the political decisions of tomorrow are being made inside of this architectural wonder.

 

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