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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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

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

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