Category Archives: Travel

Cervinia

3rd September 2013

I spent two and a half weeks of August in Cervinia, which is in the Italian Alps.  O is doing his first ski instructor levels out there, so I hopped on a plane (and then a train.  And then in a car) to go and visit him.

I took a LOT of photos, so after plenty of sorting, I have managed to choose my favourites.  I think I’ll let the pictures do most of the describing in this post…

If you’re interested in mountains, waterfalls, and of course, Alpine food – then read on!  (Not surprisingly – there’s quite a bit of cheese involved)

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The view from the glacier above Cervinia where you can ski all year round.  This is looking back down towards the town.  During the summer, you take three lifts up to get to the slopes…

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Matching in mint green (so hot right now)

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Predictably, being Italy and all, the pizzas are amazing.  This one had Fontina cheese, Speck ham and mozzarella.

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A morning on skis

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And the afternoon at a glacial pool

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Heading down through the clouds for Raclette, potatoes and pudding…

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(Before)

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One night we took a trip to the next town down the mountain, where we stayed at Locanda Quattro which is a little chalet hotel with only four rooms.  Each room has a special feature – a Turkish bath, a steam room… and ours had… a jacuzzi of course (what else).

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We’d done the Raclette, so it was time for la Pierre-chaud…

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Back up at Cervinia, one of the walks we took was to a massive dam above the town.  In the winter, it’s in the middle of the pistes.

The water is unbelievably blue.

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When we reached the dam, we went for a closer look…

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Playing train on an old railway track

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All that walking builds up an appetite I can tell you!

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And the best thing about being in the mountains?  Drinking as much hot chocolate as you can.

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O’s parents came to Cervinia for a couple of days while I was there and we had some lovely meals with them.  I tragically forgot to photograph the best cheese fondue I’ve ever had – was too busy drowning myself in Mont D’Or.  

But at the beautiful Saint Hubertus I had honey duck breast with roasted potato chips and courgettes – see below.  The chips were roast potatoes in disguise – get it?  One on my ‘to make’ list.

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Rabbit and burrata ravioli with vegetable cubetti (wow)

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Lemon sorbet

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When not hiking, skiing or sleeping, we mainly spent our time dog watching (Cervinia has the most beautiful assortment of dogs of all shapes and sizes I have ever seen) and playing cards.  Hey, it’s not a party town!

Check out this guy

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The biggest walk we did was up to a refuge on the snow line.  On the way we passed some incredible waterfalls.  The valley Cervinia sits in has several, and they make the setting completely stunning – especially with the Matterhorn in the background.

We had some fortifying milkshakes, and set off.

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It was getting pretty hot so Mowgli decided to take a dip…

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Suitably refreshed, we carried on up the mountain.  Up, up, up – legs were burning by this point!

You could see the dam all the way on the other side of the valley.

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Finally, we reached the refuge.  It was incredibly satisfying sitting down to some meat, cheese and bread.

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Although before too long, we had to make our way back down – we hadn’t brought sleeping bags to stay overnight.  

There’s a great restaurant in Cervinia called La Copa Pan where we ate a couple of times.  It has a basement bar and is beautifully furnished – a combination of modern colours, brass fittings and traditional mountain décor. 

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Olive oil, balsamic vinegar & rosemary

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Fondue bourguignonne

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There was also a delectable amuse-bouche of goats cheese, béchamel, fig chutney and rosemary.

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Which pretty much brings us to the end of my trip!  Maybe this post was a little too long, but I couldn’t resist – sorry.  I left Italy feeling refreshed and rested, with lungs full of mountain air.

Hopefully I’ll be able to return to Cervinia in the winter one day as I’d love to do the ski all the way into town from the top of Plateau Rosa.  

O will be home soon, and I can’t wait to see him.

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Sailing Away

19th July 2013

You might have heard already, but the weather’s been quite nice in England.  Last weekend, I jumped at the chance to get out of London and head towards the coast, in search of any kind of breeze.

My parents, along with some friends, had planned a little sailing trip – meet in Southampton, sail down to Lymington on Saturday and return on Sunday.

Sunshine, sea, sails…

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On Friday night we went to the Jolly Sailor in Bursledon, which is just outside Southampton.  It’s a pub that’s right on the water, with beautiful views.  To get there, you have to walk down a very long set of wooden steps, but it’s worth it.  Inside is cosy and welcoming, and they serve proper food.

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Sardines, butternut squash and onion croquettes, mezze board.

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Roast cod and chorizo salad, falafel and haloumi burger, fish and chips (with battered peas!)

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After dinner, I tucked into my cabin on the boat and went straight to sleep.  I always sleep really well on board – I love the sound and movement of the water!

The next morning we went for a spin in our friends’ power boat…

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and then returned to the yacht and prepared to set sail!

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Out into the Solent, and then away…

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Obviously I was hard at work…

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It’s the best spot!

We moored at Lymington Yacht Haven.

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Champagne on deck – before dinner at Haven Restaurant in the marina. 

The yummy mummies had their white skinnies on…

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I’m always scared the boats will fall off those big wooden stilts.

Luckily, we had the food to distract us, which was amazing.

Pan fried scallops with sweetcorn purée and curried pea fritter…

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Wood pigeon breast with rye bread and watercress salad with red wine dressing…

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Pan fried turbot fillet and Solent crab cakes

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I couldn’t stop raving about my main course: monkfish tail, with olive oil, mashed potatoes and clam sauce.  The clam sauce was a total dream, and went perfectly with the mash.

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All this, and a gorgeous view across the Isle of Wight – the clearest we’d ever seen it from here.

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Sunday dawned sunny (again!) and we made a relaxed passage back towards Southampton.  We anchored up for a long lunch – sunbathing and reading the papers.

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The skipper decided that swimming was on the agenda.  The sea… has not warmed up like everything else.  Let’s just say it was fairly refreshing.

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The sail home was calm, and I got the train back to London with salt in my hair, happy and tired.

What have you been up to in the sun?

A Weekend In Provence

19th June 2013

I had a perfect long weekend away in the south of France.  Food, weather, location – it was all idyllic.

E’s parents live in the beautiful Provençal countryside and so when H and I were invited to visit, we jumped at the chance.

Our arrival was met with a chilled bottle of rosé wine… and not just any rosé.  This was the much discussed Miraval – the vineyard born baby of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie.  The wine is made on their estate in Provence, Chateau Miraval.

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As it should be, the Jolie-Pitt bottle is rather sexy – and the wine is delicious.  It’s that very pale pink which is somehow bright at the same time.

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We sipped our wine, admired the garden, and settled in to that holiday feeling.

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And before we knew it, it was time for lunch (I promise it was just about midday when we started on the rosé…)

E’s Maman spoilt us all weekend with delicious fresh food, as you’ll see.

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Simple and healthy – ideal when you’re going to be slipping into a bikini later on.

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Grabbing a couple of apricots and bottle of water, we headed for the pool…

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Later on in the evening, we wandered around the garden – which is stunning.

Lavender

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Roses

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Poppies

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Isn’t this the loveliest place to sit?

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Before cocktail hour by the pool – freshly made margaritas.

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We slept very soundly after a dinner of salmon and sweet potato (which I forgot to photograph because I’m naughty – although this post will be pretty long as it is!).

It’s amazing how quiet it feels in the country when you’re used to being in London.  And it’s the best feeling in the world when you wake up and can sense the heat outside – stepping outside in pyjamas and eating croissant before the sun gets too hot.

After catching some sun the previous afternoon, we set off for a drive through the local villages.  The scenery is gorgeous, and the villages are shady and full of little cafés and dappled light.

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We picked a square with a fountain, and E selected a restaurant because it had grey chairs (the secret indicator of a good restaurant).  It turned out to be an excellent choice.

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That platter of amazingness that you can see is made up of four exquisite little dishes…

Le gaspacho de melon au basilic – I have never had melon gazpacho before but it was so refreshing.  I am definitely going to have a go at making it myself.

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Les petites tomates provençales farcies

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Le maquereau en escabèche et ses copeaux de légumes – mackerel is so good for you and the dressing was really crisp.

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La salade fraîcheur au magret de canard des Landes et ses framboises – I think this was my favourite.  I adore duck!

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E had foie gras and we finished our lunch with lychee sorbet and macarons. 

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The restaurant we were at is called La Place, and it is the ‘little sister’ restaurant of Oustau de Baumaniere in Les Baux.  We stumbled upon it completely by accident (thanks grey chairs)!  You can find it in Maussane-les-Alpilles – read about it on their website.

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The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing, reading, swimming, and of course, eating.

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Muggy, cloudy London can’t really complete right now can it?

At least I’ve got Glastonbury to look forward to!  Fingers crossed for the weather…

A massive thank you to E’s parents for looking after us so well.

Bisous