Photos from Gunby Hall

Taking advantage of the bank holiday, Ashwina and I took a trip to Gunby Hall which is a National Trust property in Skegness.

The Orchard Cottage located in the property grounds is the former gardeners cottage and is a quaint little house. This turned out to be a great way to enjoy a quiet weekend reading, eating and drinking.

We had access to the grounds after hours and so ventured out to take in the beauty.

Here are some select photos from our walk.

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Happy New Year 2016

Happy New Year to everyone reading this. I wish you the very best for 2016. It’s definitely going to be more awesome than 2015.

Source: Scott Johnson: My Extra Life
Source: Scott Johnson: My Extra Life

2015 – Year in Review

For a change at the start of 2015, I didn’t make any major resolutions, but instead decided to take the year as it came. What’s the point of resolutions when you don’t keep them, right?

On work…

2015 started out to be a year like any other year, busy and in fact ended as busy as it started. However, that being said a good portion of the year was definitely better with me stepping up my role and desperately fighting to maintain a work-life balance.

On life…

2015 was a great year on the life front.

We started off the year by moving into a new larger flat in the area. It was a long pending decision and we finally took the plunge trading our skyline views for the view of the water, boats, ducks and other birds.

Blackwall Basin

Continue reading “Happy New Year 2016”

The Tower of London – Take 2

Tower of London

A few weeks ago, Ashwina and I decided to get out and enjoy the bit of good weather that we have had of late. While it was still below 15 degrees and chilly, it was comfortable enough to not cover up with several layers of clothing. The destination was the Tower of London. We are members of Historic Royal Palaces and the membership gives us access to the Tower of London as well as four other tourist attractions in and around London.

Tower of London
Tower of London

The Tower of London is around 15 minutes by DLR from our house and although we had visited it nearly two years back, we hadn’t visited every part of this tourist attraction. This became very apparent today when we did the wall walk!

Since it was lunch time, we first made our way to the New Armouries which is the restaurant in the Tower of London. Known for its British food, you’ll find a good variety of food and drink to tempt your taste buds. I settled for some gammon and Ashwina had the chicken pottage. Once we were done with our lunch, we made our way to the small exhibition showcasing torture at the tower and followed this by the wall walk.

The torture at the tower shows you how crazy and scary life was for the prisoners there. And, sometimes torture was actually authorised for certain prisoners!

Torture at the Tower
Torture at the Tower

The wall walk takes you around a good portion of wall and passes through several of the towers. You start the wall walk near the portion of the wall overlooking the iconic Tower Bridge. You then pass through the Salt Tower and continue onwards to several towers. The Martin Tower, for one, has an amazing display of replicas and possibly some originals of many crowns that have been worn by the Kings and Queens over the ages. Jewellery isn’t my cup of tea, but it definitely shows the extravagance of the monarchy. You also can see replicas of the Cullinan diamond.

Martin Tower
Martin Tower

The most spectacular sight along the way is the miniature model of the Tower of London which attempts to give you an idea of what it was like to have been here several centuries back.

Miniature model of the Tower of London
Miniature model of the Tower of London

We finished our tour of the Tower with a cup of tea for Ashwina and a cup of coffee for me along with some scones and cakes. Not the best that I’ve had, but everything tastes good when you’re hungry and tired.

We ended the day by watching Noah. A movie definitely not worth watching. You can read my review here.

To India

BA Galleries Lounge Heathrow T5

My last long term visit to India was in February-March 2012 for my wedding. Since then, Ashwina and I have travelled to Scotland, Dunwich Heath, Cornwall and Paris. To make a trip to India I really need a perfect timing of decent air fares, long holidays and good weather. Post Christmas 2013 gave us this opportunity. So, we booked our tickets on British Airways, which is pretty much the main airline I use to travel and made our way to Heathrow Airport Terminal 5 on a stormy Friday after a Christmas characterised by strong winds and a small storm.

I usually prefer the day flights vs. the red eye because I can sleep comfortably in my bed after I land. This time we decided to try the red-eye anyway, being well aware of a nearly 10 hour sitting flight in economy. Thanks to my recent trips, I’ve finally reached Silver on BA and that meant lounge access! So, we got past an extra vigilant security at T5 and quickly completed our duty free shopping to find our way to the South Lounges at Terminal 5. After spending an hour there we made our way to Terminal B to the gate from which our flight was to depart.

BA Galleries Lounge Heathrow T5
Source: Flickr

After reaching the gate and having spent some time there, we soon realised that there was a problem with the flight when they didn’t call us for boarding well past the “gate close” time of 9.15pm. Sure enough, they announced that there was a problem with the aircraft and were only able to get a smaller aircraft, i.e. the 747 instead of the 777. This meant some people needing to wait back for the next flight. The price for this was a hotel stay and €600. Little wonder, they found more volunteers than willing passengers! We chose to find our way to the lounges in Terminal B, as did many other travellers on our flight. The new departure time was 00.30. (Side note: Am impressed by the BA app. I knew the updated time well before it was announced to everyone). If it weren’t for the lounge access, I must admit that Ashwina and I would have had a very rotten time waiting for the flight!

As we patiently waited in the lounge which remained open just for passengers of BA199, I decided to check out the status of our new seats. Imagine my surprise and Ashwina’s excitement when we found out that we were upgraded to Club World. So, we decided that instead of complaining about the delayed flight, we would appreciate that this trip was actually shaping up to be a decent one.

So, a little before Cinderella time, we boarded our flight and made our way across the world to Mumbai International Airport…

Cornwall – Pentargon

After a disappointing visit to Bude, Ashwina and I decided that we would stick to Boscastle and explore Penally Hill. During our previous trips around the area, we had noticed the coastal pathway that takes you to Pentargon waterfall.

I checked out the details of the same on the South West Coast Path. This is a circular path that climbs to the very top of Penally Hill and then around the coast to Pentargon cliff where you can get a glimpse of the waterfall.

We woke up late and had a quick breakfast. Got ready and went down for a late lunch to Harbour Light. I was so impressed by the 100% Cornish Beef Burger, that I just had to try it again before I returned to London.

Armed with food in our bellies and warm jumpers and jackets, Ashwina and I set out to climb the hill.

There is a neat path that you can follow and we stuck to this route. But as you get higher up the hill, you can really fall once again in love with the beauty that surrounds you!

I tried capturing a 360 degree view of Boscastle and the coastline from the very top of Penally Hill.

We continued our journey along the path towards Pentargon waterfall. You can’t reach the edge of the falls, but you can get a glimpse of them from Pentargon cliff which lies opposite to the falls. Although it did rain the last few days it wasn’t enough to bring out the full glory of the falls and all we saw was a trickle down the mountainside.

Pentargon Falls

We had already walked a mile to see the falls and so continued along the rest of the trail which passed through a field and the panoramic path (we had partially walked a portion of this on Tuesday), before ending back to the village.

Here we rewarded ourselves with ice creams (any reason for some good ice cream). Ashwina also bought two paintings: one by Renate Forsyth which was on display at Harbour Light and another by Helen Setterington from The Old Forge which is a gallery run by Helen and her partner.

And that brought us to the end of our days adventure. We spent the rest of the evening at home cleaning up. We would make our way back to London on Monday morning. I’ll miss the quiet village of Boscastle that we grew to love, but I look forward to the hustle and bustle of city life that is a part of me!

Cornwall – Bude

We had planned to visit Bude, which is further North, along the coast. We took the 595 Western Greyhound from Boscastle to Bude, which is about 30 minutes away.

The journey is mainly through fields with the last portion along the Bude coastline which is as spectacular as most of the coast here in North Cornwall.

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The bus dropped us off at the Strand in Bude and at that point our misadventure began.

Bude has 3 beaches and the place is known for surfing. Other than that it also attracts hikers who travel the South West Coastal Path back to Boscastle. We didn’t have plans to do either. And, then there is nothing much to do.

We went down to the visitor centre which is just near the Bude Canal and bought a brochure for the Canal walk. It took us a few minutes to find the correct path and another 20 minutes to decide we didn’t want to do the walk.

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So we headed back to the town centre and hunted for a place to eat. The place turned out to be a disaster and the food a waste. To get the taste of the food out of our mouth we found an ice cream shop. To get the taste of the ice cream out of our mouth, we took the next bus back to Boscastle and found our way to Harbour Light where we treated ourselves to the fabulous Helsett Farm ice cream.

Overall, we felt we lost the day. We decided that we would make Sunday count since it would be the last day in Boscastle. It did. Check back tomorrow for the tale.

Cornwall – Wadebridge and the Camel Trail

Having spent a good portion of the week in Boscastle and the surrounding areas, Ashwina and I set out to visit the famous Camel Trail.

Straight from Wikipedia:

The Camel Trail is a disused and resurfaced railway line in Cornwall, England, United Kingdom, that provides a recreational route for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

We had initially planned to cycle down the trail from Padstow to Wadebridge. However, the 595 Western Greyhound from Boscastle terminates at Wadebridge. So, instead of travelling the extra distance, we decided to get off at Wadebridge.

The actual distance from Boscastle to Wadebridge can be covered in about 30 minutes by road. However the bus takes you on a “tour” of the region passing through Camelford and so the journey becomes well over an hour.

We got off at the last stop which is at Wadebridge’s town centre. Since it was lunch time, we walked around the area and found a nice restaurant called Glasshouse.

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The restaurant primarily serves Italian food and nothing says Italian food like pizza topped with pepperoni and jalapeños. Ashwina prefers pasta…

While we planned the next course of action over lunch, the skies opened up and the UK weather department once again proved that they can decently predict the weather.

Rains meant that the cycle option was out because neither of us planned to ride the chilly rain. The next option was to check out at least part of the trail on foot. We planned to take the 3.26pm bus back to Boscastle, which left us about 30 minutes to walk down the trail.

When we finally got to the trail, it turned out to be a let down. The photos below might tell you why. We turned back to the town centre and found the bus stop that would take us back to Boscastle.

Since we had a bit of time we found a nice small cafe called Carraways where we sipped on some hot chocolate and downed some Bailey’s cheesecake.

The return journey seemed to be much longer. We had walked a lot less than the previous few days. But we were so tired that we crashed and spent the rest of the evening at home. The rain continued, which does adds a unique charm.

Tomorrow would be Bude. The weather department predicts rains, but after today, we should be able to handle this.

Cornwall – Boscastle Harbour

Ashwina and I had originally planned to check out the Bodmin and Wenford steam railway. But we ended up waking up late and couldn’t get the 11.50am bus out of the harbour. Once you get out of London or other main cities, then public transport services are not that efficient. If you miss one bus,  the next one is an hour or two away. We decided to just explore the area.

Since it was almost lunch time, we went down to the local cafe,  where I had a simply amazing Cornish burger which easily beats some really good burgers that I have eaten in London at prices you will never find in London.

After lunch we decided to do a long walk that would take us around the harbour and up into the village. However we ended up setting out on the opposite side of the harbour that headed to Profile Rock and Penally Point.

Profile Rock Profile Rock

The walk is around a mile and starts off on an incline as you walk along the foot of Penally Hill.

Before that we took a short detour along the path that climbs over the village to give you a panoramic view of the same.

We decided we weren’t adventurous enough to climb the hill,  but we did want a clean view of the sea. So we continued once the path ended and began climbing over the rocky cliffs. We made several stops along the way to capture the scenic beauty of the hills, cliffs and the ocean.

And at the very top of Profile Rock my mobile phones finally caught some signal, much to my amazement and Ashwina’s ire. She captured my need to connect at the very top of the cliff.

Me trying to speak to Office at the top of Profile Rock!
Me trying to speak to Office at the top of Profile Rock!

After spending some more time at Profile Rock, we made our way back down to our cottage. We had realised how the tide had slowly changed and the water had reached well inland, so the boats could now be taken out into the sea.

And to award our exciting climb, we treated ourselves to some amazing homemade ice cream made at the Helsett Farm in Boscastle itself.

Helsett Farm Organic Ice Cream Helsett Farm Organic Ice Cream in a Cone

Our whole walk cum climb lasted over three hours. We dropped in to the National Trust Visitor Centre and picked up some really good Rattler Cornish Pear Cyder which served to wash down our (by our,  I mean Ashwina’s) home cooked dinner.

We also picked up some chicken and vegetables which were also locally sourced. And, found out that our green grocer also doubles up as the Post Office and cash machine!

We walked more in the last two days than in several months. So, we decided to rest the rest of the evening and a good portion of the next day.

On Thursday, we decided to check out the other path that leads up to Forrabury Common. We did a partial walk that took us high up above the Harbour and much higher than Profile Rock! The result was a more splendid view of the sea!

If the above pictures have whetted your appetite, check out my Flickr album with photos of Boscastle Harbour.

Cornwall – Boscastle and Tintagel

Our last holiday was in February when Ashwina and I visited Dunwich Heath to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Since we haven’t taken a vacation since then, we planned a week in Cornwall in the first week of September. This was much needed for us to recharge our batteries. And as usual Ashwina made the necessary arrangements for our trip.

We booked a cab to Paddington station in London where we caught the Great Western train to Bodmin Parkway, which is the closest station to where we were staying in Boscastle.

The journey is nearly 4 hours with views of the countryside that would be be familiar to anyone who leaves the hustle and bustle of the city. The route passes through Plymouth and a few miles before reaching Plymouth you get a glimpse of the sea which is simply breathtaking. And,  this wouldn’t be the first time on this trip that I got the same feeling!

We alighted at Bodmin Parkway. Bodmin Parkway shares its name with Bodmin which is famous for the Bodmin and Wenford steam railway. However, Bodmin Parkway is a relatively smaller railway station and does serve as one of the stopping points for the Bodmin and Wenford railway.

We had booked a self catering cottage called The Lugger which was located in Boscastle Harbour. This was a scene of a terrible flash flood back in 2004 which pretty much washed the village away. The place has since been restored and there is little evidence of the destruction that was caused back then.

We hailed a local cab to take us to Boscastle, which is a good 45 minutes drive from Bodmin Parkway. And just before we descended into the village,  I had my breath taken away for the second time because the view was simply spectacular!

The Lugger turned out to be a cozy cottage with a separate entrance which was located in the first floor of the National Trust Visitor Centre. This would be our home for the week. We unpacked, had some tea and then took a walk around the village, which has a few pubs, a post office, a car park and a tiny Spar.

Dinner would be a quiet one in our cottage before we set out to explore the area the next day.

Continue reading “Cornwall – Boscastle and Tintagel”

Kew Gardens and Kew Palace

Kew Palace

The bank holiday weekends in May are always welcome since it means an extra Monday of holidays and a relatively shorter week, even for an investment banker! Ashwina and I decided to visit Kew Gardens and Kew Palace early May. This was one of the many places we had in mind given our Historic Royal Palaces membership. We were joined by Vincent and Indrita.

Kew Gardens is located about a short walk from Kew Gardens Underground station which is the second last station on the District Line and good hours journey from where I stay in London. There are four gates where you can enter from and the Victoria Gate is the closest to the station. However, given the size of the line, we decided to enter via the Lion Gate which is around 5 minutes away.

Kew Palace is located within the gardens. However, since the gardens and the palace are managed by different entities, our membership does not cover entry into the palace. However, it doesn’t cover the entry to Kew Gardens, which means that you still need to pay to enter. There are several attractions in Kew Gardens and we decided we would try to cover as many as possible.

Kew Gardens map
Kew Gardens map

Continue reading “Kew Gardens and Kew Palace”