“Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
― L.M. Montgomery, Anne of Green Gables-unknown
After the glorious Scotland we headed into England to catch up with some much loved family and friends. First stop was London to stay in Greenwich with my darling sister-in-law Nina and her partner David. We arrived at the train station and Nina very kindly picked us up with all our bags and drove us to their lovely terrace-house. That night after a delicious home cooked dinner Nina surprised me with a delightful red current and raspberry parfait birthday cake.
This was the start of a scrumptious few days of eating our way around around London!
Next stop was on my actual Birthday. Liam and I headed out to Portobella Road in search of the well known Hummingbird Bakery. Portobella Road Market is a wonderful market in Notting Hill full of antique dealers, vintage fashion stalls and retro memorabilia so a perfect place to visit for a Birthday Cupcake. After searching through all the shops and vendors we made our way to the bakery and carefully selected our cupcake flavours, Red Velvet, Salted Caramel and Vanilla (Liam picked the last one of course).
AMAZING! They are the best cupcakes I have ever eaten; hands down.
To top off my culinary experiences in London, my dear friend Jen organised a birthday dinner at a french restaurant called L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Jen has been in London for the past few years with her husband Andrew (who are totally foodies) so I knew she would know where to go for a fabulous night out. Chef Joël Robuchon has won 28 Michelin stars, nine of them in a single year, and has restaurants all over the world, so I was beyond excited. Nina and David also joined us and we had such a fun night. The food was amazing and so was the company! It truly was a very special birthday, that will go down as one of my favourites. I sadly forgot to take a picture of us all together as we were having such a good time, but managed to snap a few of the incredible desserts!
After London we jumped on a bus and headed down to Croyde Bay (Devon County) to visit our good friend Val and her daughter Fiona. Val has only recently moved over to the UK from Brisbane, so it lovely to catch up and check out the area where she would be living. Fiona, who is like a little sister, was over from the States where she has almost completed her PHD (so thats Doctor Fiona to you). The first day it was pouring rain so we used that time to cozy up on the couch with cups of sweet tea and catch up. Then it was off to Bishops Tawton to have lunch at what would be Val’s new local pub, the Chichester Arms. It was a delightful traditional country pub with low ceilings, dark corners and full of antique memorabilia from the local area. The food was what you would expect from such a pub, delicious and hearty.
The next day the sun came out and it was a beautiful day! We put on our sneakers and headed out to Baggy Point to hike along the coast line. I had never seen this part of England before and the coast line on a clear day is glorious. We walked most of the day, only stopping to watch rock climbers and have a picnic lunch overlooking the Celtic Sea.
After Devon we jumped on another bus then a train and headed to a familiar place (for me at least) called Bracklesham. It is here that the beautiful Grabowski family welcomed us with open arms again (though two have had name changes since I was here last time!). Back in 2007 when I had my first European holiday I somehow managed to have my passport cut up by customs on my arrival into Heathrow (I know, only me right!). I actually thought I would be stranded forever in the UK. It was my first time travelling solo and I was in quite a state of shock but this family, who barely knew me (but are old friends of Mum & Dad) took me in, quite literally. Jo and Marek let me stay with them at their lovely beach house and Jo made me a full english breakfast every morning. Their daughter Zoffie took me to London twice, to the Australian embassy, to organise a new passport. Their other daughter Marysia (who I am actually named after) let me stay with her in Chichester while her and Zoffie made sure that they entertained me my entire stay. Even their son Stanislaw let me stay in his flat in London while I explored the city for the first time. I loved my stay with them back in 2007 when they rescued me, so I was dying to see them again and introduce them to Liam. We had a lovely two days with them and even got to meet all the new additions to the family including the beautiful Sarah and her cutie-pie daughter Olivia, Zoffie’s lovely husband Daniel and Marysia’s newest addition Leah.
Now on to a big list of thank you’s!!! Firstly to Nina and David for letting us stay in their ‘Garden Room’. It was so nice to spend some quality time with you both. You made us feel so welcome and I am very thankful to have family like you. The second thank you is to the beautiful Jen for organising such an amazing evening for my Birthday. It was incredibly thoughtful and we all had such a fun time. Also a special mention to Andrew who turned up on crutches! What a trooper for coming along to catch up, even though I’m sure you would have much preferred to have been resting in bed. Thirdly is to Val and Fiona who hosted us in Devon and let us intrude on their family time. We miss you both, so it was very special to be able to catch up. We feel pretty privileged to be the first of your Australian friends to check out your new digs Val! The last thank you is to the Grabowski/Bacon/Howe families for their gracious hospitality once again. We truly felt like family in your home. Thank you to Jo for all the lovely meals, to Marysia, Zoffie, Sarah, Katie, Olivia and Leah for making the time to hang out with me so I could have some much needed girl time, to Tom for letting me meet his tortoise, to Daniel for taking Liam to play Golf and to Marek for drinking Liam under the table.
Liam & Rishy