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I’ve wandered past Jamie’s Italian in Liverpool One many times over the years, but never actually got around to visiting until I was invited recently to sample the restaurant’s brand new Monday to Thursday evening menu. Besides being an opportunity to dine somewhere new (we tend to stick with a few tried and tested favourites when eating out), this was an excuse to arrange for my parents to babysit and have one of those extremely rare date nights. We went on a Thursday evening and the restaurant was almost full; bursting with chatter. We were seated in a cosy spot near the corner, with the whole floor in view. The first thing I noticed was the decor featuring wood-panel walls and contemporary cluster pendant lighting; an eye-catching combination of modern and rustic. I liked the stylish design along with the warm atmosphere.

The new menu of Italian classics with a twist here and there offers a three-course meal for £18.95 (after 6pm Monday-Thursday). We shared a couple of starters, the Cured Meat Plank and the Primavera Bruschetta (lemon courgette, peas and beans with hazelnut and lovage pesto and Bella Lodi cheese), before moving onto our mains of prawn linguine, a signature dish at Jamie’s, for me and a 35-day dry-aged sirloin steak and chips for Andy. While the starters and mains were lovely (although we both found the bruschetta a tad bland), it was the dessert that was the biggest highlight. Andy had the Baked White Chocolate Cheesecake, while I opted for the Molten Chocolate Praline Pudding. This lava cake was honestly one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever tasted. It was so beautiful I was actually ‘mmmmm-ing’ out loud with every spoonful of warm chocolate sponge and melted chocolate, with vanilla ice cream and crunchy praline pieces.

Along with the great food, another plus was the friendly waiting staff. Jamie’s Italian is perfect if you’re after a value-for-money Italian restaurant in Liverpool with relaxed, stylish surroundings. There’s also a tempting cocktail menu and attractive outside area – ideal for enjoying alfresco dining on balmy summer evenings. If I didn’t have a baby to feed when I got home, the Sicilian Daiquiri featuring Bacardi Carta Blanca and Oakheart rum with lime juice, vanilla syrup and fresh mint would’ve had my name on it! Definitely an excuse to return ;-)

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Thank you very much to Jamie’s Italian Liverpool for hosting us. While I was compensated for the meal, all views are my own.

 

Jamie’s Italian

45 Paradise Street

Liverpool

L1 3EU

 

 

 

“He’s missed the runway”, a lady in front of us exclaimed as the engine of the descending plane suddenly went into turbo and began climbing again. As a rather nervous flyer, I began feeling a bit panicky. Worried thoughts ran through my head. What’s going on? Is that woman right? Has the pilot really missed the runway? Then the announcement came.

The weather had deteriorated in the Isle of Man. We were to wait it out for a while to see if the situation improved, otherwise we’d have to head back. A chorus of sighs followed. We waited and hoped as the plane began circling like a vulture. Small glimpses of the Irish Sea were visible through gaps in the clouds. I expected to see white horses or something signifying stormy weather. But the water looked on the calm side. Plus, there wasn’t any turbulence. I glanced down to my six-month old sleeping peacefully on my lap and hoped her first flight would manage to reach its destination. But it wasn’t to be. This was only supposed to be a quick 30-minute trip from Liverpool. Frustratingly, almost an hour and a half after taking off from John Lennon Airport, we were right back where we’d started.

We didn’t know at the time exactly what the ‘bad weather’ described in the announcement entailed. Was it heavy wind and rain? Or was it that eerie Isle of Man mist we’d encountered on previous trips? When we got home and chatted to the family we were supposed to be visiting over there, we discovered the latter was the culprit. After taking off from Liverpool, a thick mist had set in, completely covering the airport at Castletown so it wasn’t safe to land. “Manannan must’ve been in a bad mood”, I remember saying. According to Manx mythology the sea God Manannan would wrap his cloak of mist around the island to protect it from invaders.

“Those who live on the island will appreciate how unpredictable the weather here can be,” the pilot had said when making the announcement that the plane would be turning back. After visiting many times, I knew what he meant. As a tiny, sparsely sheltered island in the Irish Sea between northwest England and Ireland, the Isle of Man is no stranger to bizarre and changeable weather. A perfect sunny day can quickly transform into a gloomy rainy picture and vice versa. Along with its numerous ancient remnants and untamed natural beauty, the weather plays a part in its mysterious moody charm. Whether it’s bright and sunny with a glossy veneer or wet and gloomy muted by mist, the Isle of Man is always beautiful. Despite not making it there the first time round, we managed to get booked on the same flight the following day. Thankfully it was mist free so we were able to land and begin our little holiday.

Alison see my travels

Sound looking out to the Calf of Man.

Before long our lungs were being refreshed with delicious woodland air as we wandered through Ballaglass Glen in the north of the island – soothed by the sounds of fast-flowing water from the Cornaa River leading to cascading waterfalls. The woods were carpeted with bluebells in their impressive spring finale. The colours, the smells, the sounds, that wonderful fresh air; I was in my happy place. We always take in the glens when visiting the island, but this was the first time seeing the verdant views blooming with bluebells.

This was also the first time travelling with our baby girl. Strapped to my chest in a baby carrier, with her facing forward so her curious eyes could fully take in the surroundings, my steps were much slower and careful than usual. I wanted her to enjoy this amazing place, but my motherly instincts were always focused on keeping her safe – especially navigating some of the narrower, muddy patches with steep drops to the side.

We passed by an isolated cottage in the middle of the woods and I immediately thought of the fairy tale Hansel and Gretel. This derelict stone building, a remnant of the glen’s mining heritage, really played into the enchanting scenery. As did the striking wooden sculpture of a bearded, Gandalf-like fellow known affectionately as The Wizard of Ballaglass located next to it.

Wizard of Ballaglass, Ballaglass Glen, Isle of Man glens, Isle of Man travel

The Wizard of Ballaglass.

bluebells, bluebells in woods, Ballaglass Glen

Beautiful Ballaglass bluebells.

Ballaglass Glen waterfall, cascading waterfall, woodland waterfalls

Cascading waterfall at Ballaglass Glen.

After visiting the Isle of Man several times over the past eight years, as Andy’s parents live here, we’d pretty much seen and done it all. However there are certain things we do time and and time again, which never get tired. This includes driving to the south of the island, taking in Port Erin with it’s lovely beach that’s atmospherically back-dropped by the stark cliffs of Bradda Head, topped by the historic Milner’s Tower.

Then there’s Sound, one of the island’s most picturesque points, and Castletown with it’s attractive castle and harbour. Also, no Isle of Man holiday is complete without a double scoop of the award-winning Davison’s ice cream, boasting an array of tempting flavours such as coconut, chocolate orange, banoffee pie and Turkish delight.

Castle Rushen, Isle of Man castles, Castletown

Castle Rushen, Castletown.

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Tiled mermaid art in Castletown.

Port Erin, Isle of Man, Bradda Head

Port Erin beach with Bradda Head in the background.

 

Until next time Isle of Man.

 

 

When faced with an unshakable urge to travel somewhere recently, we decided to hire a car and head to the Isle of Anglesey in North Wales for a relaxing weekend of food, culture and breathtaking scenery.

Our Welsh break in Anglesey was filled with castles, coastal views and plenty of colour! We stayed on a farm near Red Wharf Bay on the east coast and enjoyed pure peace and quiet along with a delicious breakfast each morning overlooking rolling fields and Snowdonia.

Red Wharf Bay Harbour.

Red Wharf Bay Harbour.

Dainty wild flowers at Red Wharf Bay.

Dainty wild flowers at Red Wharf Bay.

Colourful plant pots outside a cottage on Red Wharf Bay.

Colourful plant pots outside a cottage on Red Wharf Bay.

Anglesey is only around an hour-and-a-half’s drive away from Liverpool. I used to visit Wales regularly on family holidays as a child and have fond memories of wandering around fields with my parents and little sister, taking nostalgic steam trains up misty mountains, staying in farm cottages (some charming and others not so much!) and, at one lovely farm, feeding carrots to ‘Sammy’ the goat.

Despite it being at least two decades since I last visited Wales, I hadn’t forgotten its incredible natural beauty. Driving over the Menai Bridge to Anglesey reveals particularly stunning views. Practically the whole coastline has been designated an area of outstanding natural beauty and it’s easy to appreciate why.

Beaumaris Beach.

Beaumaris Beach.

Colourful houses in Beaumaris.

Colourful houses in Beaumaris.

The 13th century Beaumaris Castle - the last castle to be built under the reign of Edward I.

The 13th century Beaumaris Castle – the last castle to be built under the reign of Edward I.

Beaumaris Castle with fields filled with cows in the background.

Beaumaris Castle with fields filled with cows in the background.

The weather forecast indicated a weekend of rain, but it was actually bright and sunny on Saturday – our only full day. So we really made the most of it by driving around the island and taking in as much as possible in the short time we had.

We went on a cliff-side walk to the South Stack Lighthouse near Holyhead, visited Beaumaris Castle, stuffed our faces with hearty welsh fare at every opportunity and even found time to stop off at the historic walled city of Conwy, North Wales on the way home.

Yeyy roadtrip!

Yeyy roadtrip!

The South Stack Lighthouse near Holyhead.

The South Stack Lighthouse near Holyhead.

Conwy Castle - another 13th century marvel.

Conwy Castle – another 13th century marvel.

Conwy Harbour.

Conwy Harbour.

The view from Conwy city walls.

The view from Conwy city walls.

Where we stayed

 

Seeking a restful stay, we went with Parc Yr Odyn in Pentraeth, Anglesey. This is a working farm featuring five-star rated bed and breakfast and self catering options.

We stayed in one of only two rooms in the farmhouse and enjoyed a comfortable, elegantly decorated space with gorgeous countryside views of fields and mountains.

The tasteful room at the Parc Yr Odyn farmhouse B&B.

The tasteful room at the Parc Yr Odyn farmhouse B&B.

 

The farm was a short drive away from Red Wharf Bay and Beaumaris. Breakfast featured continental and cooked options with delicious locally-sourced produce including fresh eggs off the farm. I was impressed with the selection of cereal, seeds, fruits and fresh berries laid out on the table each morning.

There were even cakes placed in our room every afternoon. The host made us feel very welcome with a friendly and approachable manner.

Where we ate

 

On our first evening in Anglesey we enjoyed a pub meal at the Ship Inn, Red Wharf Bay. This place serves quality pub grub including fish and chips, sausage and mash and chicken curry. A cosy traditional pub atmosphere right on the waterfront.

Cheese on toast

Cheese on toast at the White Eagle Pub.

We forgot to book somewhere on Saturday night so ended up going for a pretty tasty curry at Meghna Tandoori in Beaumaris. By chance (i.e. we got lost), we also stopped off for lunch at the White Eagle Pub in Rhoscolyn. Their cheese on toast with caramalised onion was fabulous!

Overall, it was a lovely little weekend break! 

 

Have you visited Anglesey in North Wales or do you plan to? 

 

Tulips in Lincoln

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel visiting Lincoln again. It had been more than two years since I’d last stepped foot in this historic English city in the East Midlands.

To be honest, living there for five years during my 20s was a really difficult yet necessary period of my life. While I met the love of my life Andy and qualified as a senior journalist, I got to the point where I couldn’t wait to get away (that’s when I took the leap of faith to travel solo around Canada for several months). 

I guess I’m too much of a city girl at heart and Lincoln always had more of a small town feel to it that I found restricting. I felt like a bit of an alien most of the time. We’re both much happier living in Liverpool. 

So why did we return to Lincoln? Andy’s sister lives there so we were on a family visit. We took the opportunity to become reacquainted with some of the positive aspects about Lincoln such as the medieval architecture, historic Bailgate area and the amazing local restaurants!

lincoln cathedral

The impressive gothic exterior of Lincoln Cathedral

stained glass window

Stained glass window in Lincoln Cathedral

romanesque statue

The cathedral dates back to the 12th century and has ancient features such as this Romanesque statue.

Lincoln Cathedral is a sight I never tire of. This gothic masterpiece is to Lincoln what the Royal Liver Building is to Liverpool. It’s iconic, impressive and downright beautiful to look at. Dating back to the 12th century, there are many ancient features to admire, including intricate stone work, Romanesque statues and sensational stained glass windows. 

The Bailgate area where the cathedral is located is also home to a castle that was built by William the Conqueror and displays a priceless addition of the Magna Carta – one of only four in the world. Besides these big sights, this part of Lincoln is just a pleasure to wander around, with charming cobbled streets, picturesque houses, independent shops, traditional pubs and some of the best restaurants in the city. Roman remnants can also be spotted here such as the Newport Arch.

Colourful houses

Colourful houses in Bailgate near the cathedral

Lincoln Stone Bow

The Stone Bow on Lincoln High Street – a medieval archway that was once the gateway to the city

Steep Hill Lincoln

Steep Hill that was once voted the best street in Britain

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medieval lincoln

This timber-framed building is the back of the Stokes High Bridge Cafe on Lincoln High Street.

Besides Thailand No. 1, see green curry below!, other Bailgate restaurants I’d highly recommend are Browns Pie Shop and the Wig & Mitre (which also has a great pub next door!). If you’re especially hungry, indulge in afternoon tea at Stokes High Bridge Cafe on the High Street.

Green curry, thai food

Delicious green curry at Thailand No. 1 in Bailgate.

coconut pancake

Followed by a coconut pancake. Yum!

 

Have you been to Lincoln? Any more sights or restaurants to recommend?