It’s that time of the year again. Finally a new season of Mr Barnaby and Midsomer Murders! And this time around with Inspector Barnaby’s (Neil Dudgeon) new companion: Charlie Nelson (Gwilym Lee).
A traditional Swedish summer craving, just like the strawberries around Midsummer. For some people anyway…and I admit, I’m one of them.
Many people in Scandinavia are fans of the popular TV series, drawn to the characteristic traditional pubs, village greens, Sunday afternoon cricket and country houses. In combination with the improbable number of murders committed in dastardly yet creative ways, solved by the unflappable and pragmatic Detective Chief Inspector Barnaby. The latter of course being the ‘fictional’ Midsomer County.
Fancy walking in the footsteps of Inspector Barnaby; enjoying a beer in the local pub or posing for photographs beside some of the popular filming locations?
One of the Henley pubs (the Argyll) featured in an episode and has a brass plaque showing where Barnaby drank his pint of beer. The landlord allows people to stand behind the bar and get their photos taken beside it. He has also just launched Midsomer Ale, using a local Henley brewer. One of the Henley charter boat companies has a vessel called Midsomer Maiden and the on-board ‘hostess’ Daisy was an extra in several episodes and talks about her experiences.
In addition, there are some great trails that fans can follow. Either by car or as individual walking trails for three market towns – Henley on Thames, Wallingford and Thame. All have featured as Causton.
Calling all Swedes! Who will be watching the first episode of the latest season on SVT tonight?
I certainly will!
When it comes to truly memorable meals, location is always a key factor: far better a panoramic vista of perfect countryside than the bland basement room in a fast-food outlet. Happily, Great Britain has an abundance of top-notch restaurants and cafes, both urban and rural, which also boast perches to take a diner’s breath away.
Your Instagram account will never look back…
Chaophraya, Edinburgh, Scotland
All of Chaophraya’s high-quality Thai restaurants boast lavish locations, but its recent Edinburgh opening, located plum in the middle of Scotland’s capital city, quite literally sets a new high. 33 Castle Street is a rooftop establishment with spellbinding views – from the Glass Box, a transparent cube – of Edinburgh Castle, one of Britain’s most iconic landmarks. The playful menu, meanwhile, includes Scottish-Thai offerings such as seared scallops and black pudding with mango, chilli and palm sugar. Retire to the cocktail bar afterwards – the gorgeous skyline remains just as visible. (chaophraya.co.uk/venues/chaophraya-edinburgh)
The Pipe & Glass Inn, Yorkshire, England
In the best tradition of English country pubs, the Pipe & Glass can be a bit hard to find. It’s only an hour’s drive from York, in north-eastern England, but situated along narrow, little-signposted lanes that twist and turn like telephone cables. But once you do locate this quaint, cosy gem – awarded a Michelin star in 2010 for its inventive take on local dishes – ask for a room in the glass annexe. Because, from there, miles of vintage farmland extend all the way to the undulating Yorkshire Wolds. (www.pipeandglass.co.uk)
Cloud 23, Manchester, England
Sitting atop a Hilton hotel, Cloud 23 affords panoramas of one of Britain’s most energised cities. Set on England’s west coast, Manchester’s skyline has lately seen pioneering additions in the form of MediaCityUK, One Angel Square and urban regeneration project NOMA. Check how all are taking shape from this 23rd-floor bar while you eat afternoon tea (12-5pm), or sip a cocktail inspired by the Stone Roses, a legendary local band. The luxury bar’s zones are named after Greek gods, deities who knew a thing or two about sitting in the sky. (www.cloud23bar.com)
Fifteen Cornwall, England
Fifteen is restaurant brand run by British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver and staffed with apprentice chefs. This Cornish outpost is arguably its most famous, thanks to a stunning position above Newquay’s romantic Watergate Bay. England’s far south-westerly county, Cornwall is renowned for its picturesque seasides like this. Reserve a window table for a summer evening, and watch surfers catch sunset waves as you devour Italian-inspired dishes made from local ingredients – including pastas using Cornish durum wheat. (www.fifteencornwall.co.uk)
The Grill Restaurant, Conwy, North Wales
UNESCO ranks Conwy Castle among Europe’s ‘finest examples of late 13th & early 14th century military architecture’ – making it not a bad building at which to stare during dinner! That’s one boon for eaters at The Grill, part of the Quay Hotel in Deganwy, an estuary village close to Llandudno on the North Wales coast. The other is award-winning meals based on fine, locally-sourced ingredients, from Menai mussels to the finest Welsh beef and lamb. Equally regional are the bar’s Great Orme Brewery ales. (www.quayhotel.co.uk/restaurant-and-bar)
The Airds, Argyll and Bute, West coast of Scotland
Set on the craggy, dramatic west coast of Scotland near Oban, The Airds Hotel overlooks Loch Linnhe. Its acclaimed restaurant gazes across this seaside lake towards the Morvern Hills, and a west-facing position means the additional bonus of fantastic sunsets. Better still, this side of Scotland is known for offering some of the world’s finest seafood, and the consistent award of three AA rosettes proves that head chef Jordan Annabi certainly knows what to do with it. (www.prideofbritainhotels.com/airds_hotel_and_restaurant)
The Quays, County Down, Northern Ireland
The combination of sensational seafood and sea views is also promised in Northern Ireland’s easternmost settlement. Located on the pretty harbourside of Portavogie in County Down, about 25 miles south of Belfast, The Quays Restaurant cooks fish fresh off the local boats, with the seasonal specialities including crab claws, lobster, Dover sole and turbot. Watch the last fishermen return to shore while you feast; the family-friendly establishment faces across the Irish Sea towards the Isle of Man, which can easily be seen on a clear day. (www.quaysrestaurant.co.uk)
Hafod Eryri, Snowdonia, Wales
What with it being Wales’ highest peak, one would hope Mount Snowdon’s summit offered a decent view. And indeed it does: the Isle of Anglesey and vast swathes of rugged Snowdonia are gloriously on show. Less predictable is the fact that they’re also visible from a cafe. Opened on the 3,560-foot summit in 2009, Hafod Eryri serves sandwiches and soft drinks inside a £8M glass-walled building which doubles as a visitor centre. Its customers aren’t confined to triumphant mountaineers, either – the Snowdon Railway terminates here. (www.eryri-npa.gov.uk/visiting/hafod-eryri)
The Old Forge, West coast of Scotland
Officially Britain’s remotest pub – even the Guinness Book of Records says so – The Old Forge is only reachable via a 18-mile hike across uncompromising hills, or a choppy 20-minute ferry around the Knoydart Peninsula. And all that solely from the port of Mallaig, five hours north of Glasgow by train. It’s well worth it, though: partly for the bygone village feel, partly for the hand-dived scallops and venison, and partly for the window-watching, with Loch Nevis on the doorstep. If you fancy putting off the return journey, cosy cottages are at hand nearby. (www.theoldforge.co.uk)
Gliffaes, Brecon Beacons, South Wales
Found in the middle of South Wales, the Brecon Beacons is a beautiful range of hills boasting moorland, Norman castles, market towns and the odd neolithic stone circle. The wisest visitors hole up at Gliffaes, a cosy country-house hotel whose conservatory restaurant (also open to non-guests) overlooks a particularly scenic Beacons stretch, and which serves high-quality Welsh meat at affordable prices. Go in autumn or winter for seasonal game dishes; go anytime for the extensive wine cellar.
What’s your favourite hot spot?
Wales is known as the ‘country’ of castles. There are lots of beautiful castles to visit and tonight I’m actually staying in one! Well, it’s not really a castle but very close I would say. I feel like a princess here!
The hotel is called Llangoed Hall and is just one and a half hour from Bristol or three hours by car from London. It’s located in the stuning Wye Valley in Brecon Beacons.
The former building used to be the home of British designer Laura Ashley, and have lots of nobel history.
In 2014 it was awarded AA Hotel of the Year and has an award winning restaurant too. All food is produced on the grounds or in the local area.
The hotel has a lovely garden and you can borrow wellies and take a walk on the fields. And don’t get scared if the cows start chasing you! They are all very friendly, just want to say hello…
Baia do Sancho in Brazil, Flamenco Beach in Puerto Rico, Italy, Australia, Hawaii… and Wales (!!). Surprised to hear Wales’s Rhossili Beach beat off the likes of Mexico to make it into the top 10 beaches in the world, based on reviews on TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Award?
Rhossili isn’t the only gem on Britain’s shores. Here are 10 of our favourite jewels on the nation’s coastline!
Rhossili Bay, Swansea, Wales
Ranked number 9 out of 10 best beaches in the whole world in the Travellers’ Choice Award 2014, described as: ‘Truly the most beautiful beach. The sheer scale and wildness of the location add to the majesty’.
I’s not hard to see why the beach is so well loved. Walking along the clifftops is magnificent, swimming in the clean waters is refreshing, and the Welsh hospitality known for its warmth. You can even stay in National Trust holiday cottage the Old Rectory (its most popular cottage) and make a romantic weekend of it.
Bamburgh, Seahouses, Northumberland, England
The most open of beachscapes, dominated from a distance by the magnificent Bamburgh Castle. Golden sands, windswept landscape and acres of sky: even the most amateur photographer will come back with spectacular shots.
Barafundle Bay, Pembrokeshire, Wales
A small bay backed by dunes and pine trees, accessible only by a half mile walk from the nearest car park. Expect swathes of golden sand and crystal clear waters; Barafundle has been voted many times as one of the best beaches in Britain and as one of the world’s best.
St Andrews’ West Sands, Scotland
Stretching for almost two miles, and famous from the opening scene of ‘Chariots of Fire’, the beach is nestled between the refreshing sea swirl and the town’s world famous Old Course. The dunes which the beach backs onto provide a perfect sheltered spot for a picnic.
Dawlish Warren, Dawlish, Dorset, England
A fantastic 1 mile (2 kilometres) of sand jutting out across the wide mouth of a river estuary on the south coast; also a designated nature reserve, it attracts a great range of birds, including grebes, cormorants, herons and swans.
Lunan Bay, Montrose, Scotland
2 miles (3 kilometres) of lovely sand and beautiful dunes; equally good for surfing and bird-watching. Lunan was voted the best beach in Scotland in 2000,but has attracted visitors since the year 1010 when Vikings landed on the vast, sandy expanse of shore.
Mwnt, Ceredigion, Wales
Located down a lovely bumpy country lane in West Wales, Mwnt is a perfect cove of honey coloured sand, one of Britain loveliest hidden beaches. The whitewashed chapel above the beach has been here since the 6th Century and the hill above with its panoramic views is a great place to go dolphin watching.
Brighton Beach, Sussex, England
If you prefer your beaches populated, you can’t beat Brighton – a lively pier boasting old fashioned rides, traditional fish n chips at every corner, clean pebble beaches and a packed program of cultural events in town and some of the best nightlife in Britain combine for a great summer holiday at the seaside.
Tyrella Beach & conservation area, Northern Ireland
A small enclosed dune complex within Dundrum Bay, the wide, sandy 2km beach is the ideal spot for a long walk peppered by wild flowers and plenty of birdwatching opportunities.
Tresco Island, Isles of Scilly, off Cornwall, England
Not only is Tresco unlike anywhere in Britain, it’s like nowhere on earth. Seen from above, the turquoise and azure waters rival any in the Mediterranean, the sub-tropical climate lends itself to some weird and wonderful exotic plants that can be visited at the Tresco Abbey Gardens, and the beaches themselves are unspoilt and beautiful, perfect for snorkelling and seal-spotting.
See the Top 10 Beaches in the world on TripAdvisor at http://www.tripadvisor.com/TravelersChoice-Beaches-cTop-g1
The Swedish hit movie Let The Right One In (or ‘Låt Den Rätte Komma In’) have been adapted for stage and is opening in London West End on 26 March.
It’s a chilling tale of loneliness, love and legend. A great film if you ask me.
Oskar is a lonely boy from a broken home. He’s bullied at school and is longing for friendship. Eli is a troubled girl who’s just moved in next door. She never goes to school and is compelled to fill an eternal emptiness.
When a series of brutal killings plagues the neighbourhood, these two young misfits make a deep connection, sensing in each other a kindred spirit. But the shocking truth about Eli tests Oskar’s loyalty – and love – beyond all imaginable limits, in this chilling tale of loneliness, love and legend.
Tony and Olivier Award-winning director John Tiffany (Black Watch, Once) directs this major new production which was adapted for the stage by Jack Thorne following the international success of the original Swedish movie and the subsequent Hollywood remake. The creative team also includes Olivier Award-winning associate director Steven Hoggett (Black Watch, Beautiful Burnout, and American Idiot).
The play will run at Apollo Theatre from March 26th to September 27th 2014. Tickets are available here.
To watch a trailer, click here.
People often ask me about ideas on London on a budget. I recently did a trip to London staying at a low budget hotel and had a great 3 course dinner for less than £12!
The Pavilion Hotel offers rates from £69 including breakfast. I stayed in a single room and breakfast, served on a tray in your room. It’s located close to Edgware Road, on Sussex Gardens and all rooms are different decorated, very cool and quirky. I stayed in the ‘Monochrome Marilyn’, my friend got to stay in The War & Peace room, which was located towards the street so she had some hard time sleeping from all the noise from the traffic. But what can you expect for £69 per night, right?
And by the way, if you’re on a GI diet or sugar detox…skip the hotel breakfast…
There are a few coffee shops around the corner from the hotel, incl. Starbucks if you are looking for a healthier alternative.
Before going to bed we had a lovely meal at Brasserie Zédel located right by Piccadilly Circus. Great place, really good food at a bargain. You can have a set 3 course meal for less than £12! And I loved the atmospehere, very French, art-deco and very busy. Fully booked on a Wednesday night so make sure you book beforehand.
London doesn’t have to cost you much, you just have to be smart. Then of course, I always wish I had £1000 to shop for…shopping in London is very tempting….I will keep on dreaming….
London is absolutely heaven this time of the year.
I recently visited Destination Christmas at Selfridges on Oxford Street, absolutely amazing. Take the lift to the top floor and volià, you’re in Christmas heaven!!
I bought some presents for my kids, there’s a big toy area, and got them wrapped by Selfridges’ own little helpers: the Elfridges.
If you like me, have a daughter who’s into Monster High, I can really recommend a visit. The dolls are almost half price compared to Sweden.
Fortnum & Mason is a must visit too, especially for their seasonal tea and buscuits. I buy it just as much for the boxes as for the tea…
The area around Covent Garden and Seven Dials are also two of my favourites.
If you’re into shopping, you might want to know that Seven Dials and St Martin’s Courtyard are hosting a Christmas Shopping Night Out on Thursday 5 December 5-9pm with 20% discount at over 120 shops, bars and restaurants.
And if you get the chance, stop by the hotel Claridge’s in Mayfair and have a look at their special Christmas tree, designed by Dolce & Gabbana.
I recently enjoyed a delicious dinner at the Hunterian museum at Glasgow University, an amazing collection and Scotland’s oldest public museum dating from 1807. In these breath-taking surroundings I was reminded about how special a year 2014 is going to be in Scotland.
Homecoming is the name of an incredible range of events taking place throughout the year, it covers art, food & drink, music, outdoor activities – you name it. If you fancy a trip to Scotland, be sure to check the events listing so you can join in.
To commemorate the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn, a state of the art attraction will be opening a couple of miles from Stirling on the site of the battlefield. The use of cutting edge technology means you will be able to experience the sights and sounds of a battle in 1314. Visitors get the chance to lead their own division of medieval soldiers into a dramatic 3D battle against the enemy (a fellow visitor). I can’t wait to try this!
If this really is your cup of tea, I would recommend that you time your visit around 28th 29th & 30th June, where you can experience Bannockburn Live with 45,000 visitors from around the world, there will be a brutal re-enactment of the battle alongside themed villages, showcasing; sights, sounds and atmosphere of medieval and modern Scotland. There will be a programme packed with music, Scottish food & drink, crafts, literature and outdoor activities. Tickets available here.
If medieval battles and world class sports are simply ‘not you’; have a wee peek at this film it’s not hard to find something in Scotland to your taste.
Slàinte – Gary
Today, 4th of October is the Swedish premiere for the film Diana, bearing Naomi Watts posing as the famous, and much loved, Princess of Wales.
The film tells the story of the last two years of Diana’s life, and her romance with eminent heart surgeon Dr Hasnat Khan.
I was fortunate to attend the gala premiere in late September and if you love to see London on the screen, you will not be disappointed!
The film locations include Kensington Palace, the Princess’s home following her marriage to the Prince of Wales. (It is now the home of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and baby Prince George). Naturally you can’t go to the private side of Kensington Palace where the Royals reside, however you can explore the public part of the Palace and admire elegant dresses at Fashion Rules, an exhibition of glamorous dresses worn by The Queen, Princess Margaret, and Diana herself.
In the film, you will also see Naomi Watts take a jog in Kensington Gardens, as her character Diana.
This is also where you’ll find the Diana Memorial Playground, which opened in 2000 in memory of the Princess and her love of the innocence of childhood.
As the most famous woman in the world, Diana sometimes went out in disguise to avoid being recognised. Naomi Watts donned a brunette wig for filming with Naveen Andrew (who plays Diana’s love interest Dr Hasnat Khan in the film) at Soho jazz club Ronnie Scott’s – the ideal place for a first date in the capital. The famous club has been going since 1959, with live jazz from internationally celebrated musicians seven nights a week. On Fridays and Saturdays the club operates two ‘houses’, the first from 6pm-10pm and the second 10.30pm-3am, for fun late-night romancing.
Outside of the capital, Diana and Hasnat go on a romantic visit to Beachy Head in East Sussex in the film. The chalk cliffs of Beachy Head are the UK’s highest, a fantastic place to visit. Romantic couples can stroll along the cliffs, visit the lighthouse and finish off with a pint at the Beachy Head pub.
The Princess often wore clothes by British designer Jacques Azagury, and loved luxury shopping paradise Knightsbridge, where his shop is located. It’s also where you’ll find department stores Harvey Nichols and Harrods, the boutiques of famous designers like Chanel, Fendi, Valentino and Yves Saint Laurent, as well as some of Diana’s favourite restaurants, like classic Italian San Lorenzo.
Azagury have also made most of the oufits that are worn by Naomi Watts in the film.
P.S If you live in Sweden and happen be a subscriber of the publication M Magasin, you can enter a competition with the chance win a trip for two to London and travel in the footsteps of the film.
Manchester United Museum and Tour just recently unveiled a special temporary exhibition to honour one of football’s most famous names: David Beckham.
David Beckham first signed as a schoolboy with the Club at the tender age of 14 and the exhibition records his career at Manchester United. From the training kit he wore as a teenager, to his first team shirts from big matches such as the 99 Champion’s League Final.
He made his first-team debut for Manchester United in 1992 aged 17, going on to win the Premier League title six times, the FA Cup twice, and the UEFA Champions League in 1999. Some of David’s winner’s medals and commemorative shirts feature as part of one of the displays.
In addition to this there are also interactive aspects to the exhibit which sounds really fun! Beckham is famed for the precision of his free kicks, so as a fan you can try to predict exactly where within the goal posts he will place the ball during one of his many famous strikes.
Just as famous off the pitch as he is on it, ‘Becks’ is also well known for his changing hairstyle and as a visitor you can relive some of these via an interchangeable portrait of his famous face.
The temporary David Beckham exhibition at the Old Trafford will be on display during the next 12 months.