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Reviews

Review: Phyta Lotion

Review: Phyta Lotion

This review is about Phyta Lotion and Phyta Oil; beauty products I can hear the question almost immediately. Why is a veteran traveller reviewing a beauty product on his blog? As any traveller will tell you the skin takes a lot of abuse. Take my last two trips for example. On trip one my skin was abused by the dehydrating atmosphere of the plane, sea spray and wind and a large dose of sunshine. On trip two the skin was abused by a lot of sun, being submerged in saltwater while snorkelling, three days of strong breezes and, just to finish off, was dunked in chlorinated swimming pool water at least once a day. My skin often looks old and the worst for wear after a long trip or several close together. Even more so if there is an adventure element…

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Review: Brittany Ferries économie

Review: Brittany Ferries économie

Last time I travelled on Brittany Ferries it was on one of their newest vessels and it was an Andy Murray match at Wimbledon on the onboard TV. This time I am travelling on Brittany Ferries vessel The Etretat and the French Open is on the TV with Djokovic as the featured player. The Amorique is one of the cruise ferries that Brittany Ferries operate to France in the Western Channel. It is a well appointed luxury ferry (read the review) with a full range of facilities and a choice of eateries. The Etretat by contrast is an no frills vessel operated by Brittany Ferries as an “economie” service. So how “no frills” is the Etretat? Is it like Ryanair or the slightly better Easyjet? Or is it in a class of its own? I took the Portsmouth to Le…

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Airline Review: TAP Portugal

Airline Review: TAP Portugal

TAP Portugal is a full service scheduled airline with the bulk of its intercontinental routes being to Africa and South America. It also serves many European destinations. It is a member of the Star Alliance. Route: London Heathrow – Lisbon. Aircraft: Airbus A320-200 Check-in TAP Portugal have a very easy to navigate and very responsive website making booking very easy. Check-in was done online 24 hours ahead of departure with the option to change your assigned seat. There are four options available for getting your boarding pass. I chose to have it sent to my iPhone and store it in the Passbook app. It was there almost instantly. At the airport The machines that issue the baggage tags were not working properly so I had to resort to a human being. I am sure that it is quicker with a…

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Review: Moorland Garden Hotel

Review: Moorland Garden Hotel

The Moorland Garden Hotel is very welcoming after the bleakness of Dartmoor. Its expansive lawn and meadow overlook the Tavy Valley. Afternoon tea served on the terrace is the perfect way to round off the afternoon. The hotel celebrates its 80th anniversary this year with several themed events. It was built in 1934 with 26 bedrooms – the same year Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express was published. Since then the likes President Truman, David Niven and Rex Harrison have all graced it’s rooms. In 2011 entrepreneurs Brian and Sonia Meaden, purchased it and began extensive refurbishments. All the rooms and suites at the Moorland Garden Hotel have been redesigned with their own individuality that celebrate some of the hotels original interior features. Rich fabrics and bold wall coverings bring a touch of modernity while the muted warm colours bring…

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Paul Young’s Afternoon Tea

Paul Young’s Afternoon Tea

I have always considered a classic afternoon a bit of a luxury; an indulgence. This was reinforced when I came across the the posts Top ten afternoon teas in London and Top ten afternoon teas in Britain written to celebrate the 250th anniversary of Charles Grey; the Earl Grey of tea fame. I was delighted therefore, to be invited to the launch of Paul Young’s Chocolate Inspired Afternoon Tea in the Park Room at Grosvenor House. Paul Young is Britain’s top award winning chocolatier and has teamed up with Grosvenor House to create what someone appropriately dubbed “a chocolate infused afternoon tea”. The truly elegant Park Room at Grosvenor House was buzzing with excitement as I entered. It’s the perfect place for that classic British institution, the afternoon tea. Paul came over, introduced himself and explained some of what we…

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Another four London coffee bars

Another four London coffee bars

There are so many London coffee bars that there is now an annual coffee festival in London – The London Coffee Festival. The festival runs from 3rd – 6th April 2014 at the Old Truman Brewery, Brick Lane, London. Below are just four I have had the pleasure in reviewing recently. Fernandez and Wells, South Kensington In a pedestrianised square on Exhibition Road this branch of Fernandez and Wells is ideally placed for the museums of South Kensington. As you walk in you are met with the trademark bar full of charcuterie, filled to bursting sandwiches and baguettes along with cakes and, of course, coffee paraphernalia. Along the wall is a narrow bar while through a doorway is a room with tables and window seat for those wanting to stay a little longer. Fernandez and Wells in my experience has…

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Review: Wildflower Restaurant

Review: Wildflower Restaurant

The Wildflower Restaurant All the suites at the Moorland Garden Hotel, near Yelverton in Devon have floral names so it seemed appropriate for the hotel’s restaurant to be called The Wildflower Restaurant. It’s floor to ceiling glass panelled doors leading out onto a terrace give great views across an expansive lawn to the Tavy Valley and Cornwall beyond. The restaurant has a modern decor with bold colours but still feels traditional and in keeping with the era the hotel was built. Tradition with a modern twist which is carried through to the menus; traditional dishes with unexpected twists The Wildflower Restaurant appointed the award winning South African Bruce Cole as head chef in April 2013. He previously held the executive chef role at Cape Town’s five-star Cape Grace Hotel and is passionate about using local produce. Menus are designed around what’s available…

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Airline Review: British Airways 2

Airline Review: British Airways 2

British Airways is a full service airline serving destinations on all continents except Antarctica. It is part of the One World Alliance Route: London Gatwick – Turin; Aircraft:Boeing 737-400 Booking I did not book the flight. I was unable to check-in online despite several attempts. At the Airport I used the automatic check-in machines at the British Airways zone but could not complete the process. At the human attended check-in desk I was finally check-in far quicker than the machine would have done. It seemed it could not recognise my passport. It had accepted my seat change though. The staff manning the desk were very helpful and apologetic. They also took the trouble to look up my frequent flier number so I could claim my air miles. Boarding The plane was full so small bags were tagged with yellow for…

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La Moulin de la Roche

La Moulin de la Roche

Outwardly Moulin de la Roche appears like any other newly converted historic building. Honey coloured stone newly pointed and roof tiles not yet covered in moss or lichen give the game away. As you approach down the side of the Sevre river valley you are met with a bucolic scene; a watermill beside a weir and a stone Roman bridge, reeds and meadows. A large water wheel lazily turns outside surrounded by a terrace. Inside is quite another matter. The wooden beams are there and so are the internal workings of the old mill. However, the full height of the three floors is a photograph of Times Square at night on curved walls. These enclose the kitchen on the ground floor and ensuite bathrooms and a small kitchen on the first and second floors. Between these two is a large…

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Fernandez and Wells

Fernandez and Wells

You could miss the unassuming and understated exterior of Fernandez and Wells in the courtyard of Somerset House so look carefully as it would be a shame to miss out on the superb coffee and delicious food. If the weather is fine then you will see people sitting outside the cafe; if the weather is inclement then head for the north-east corner of Somerset House courtyard. Having visited their Beak Street branch in Soho (reviewed here) I anticipated a real treat. The owners Jorge Fernandez and Rick Wells set up the original cafe bearing their surnames in Soho and now have four branches across London. The Somerset House branch is a large and elegant deli-cafe with half given over to a bakery and charcuterie from Jorge’s home country, Spain. The cafe occupies part of the L-shaped property. Inside is light…

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