Ancient grind

Once upon a time, all our bread came from underneath these heavy heavy stones. Today, we have the luxury to admire their beauty.

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Britain’s Best Foodie Street

What do you think is the best foodie street in Britain?

Over at Google, the vote is on!  Their panel of  judges have created the shortlist, including Britain’s Best Fashion Street and Most Picturesque Street in addition to the Best Foodie Street. Before voting, if you want you can see all the streets using satellite imagery on Google Maps. The really cool thing is that for many, you can explore some of them using Google Street View!

Go vote, and let me know what you think! 

If you’re not from Britain, I’d love you to tell me what you think is the best foodie street where you live, and why, too! If you have some photos, you can send them to me if you want, and I’ll post them here as they come.

Belfast 1: The Big Fish – aka Bigfish

He is. He’s huge! 10 m long!

He’s a printed ceramic mosaic sculpture of Belfast life and history, made in 1999 by the artist John Kindness. The pictures and text on the tiles are mostly from the Ulster Museum in Belfast, but there were also contributions from Belfast school children.

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The Bigfish tells us many Belfast stories. He tells us about the hills that surround Belfast. This particular one is famous. Look closely, and tell me what it reminds you of.  Gulliver’s maker, who lived in Belfast at one point, has reportedly been inspired by this hill which reminded him of a giant’s face. Nobody knows for a fact, but we all like the story. Can you see the face of a giant lying, sleeping in the picture?

Whiskey. You can’t miss it in Ireland.

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Bigfish tells the stories of the Belfast people, too.  The girl was a passenger on the Titanic, which was built in Belfast.

Can you see the dots on his back? They’re red drops under the ceramic glaze. Echoing the recent past, perhaps.

In Belfast

I went out on a Friday night, alone, and in an unknown city. Shrugging off the niggling feeling of panic, I descended the steps of a pub, and as I was entering its dark interior, my heart skipped. I was in. Defence against any lecherous advances ready should I need to use it: polite, but firm. I really am fine on my own. By far happier than in certain company, in any case. So I ordered my Guinness at the bar, and found my place in the pub, close to the small stage at the far end of the room. The music started, and I settled into my solitude, like slipping in a pair of old comfortable shoes before going for a long walk by the sea. Breathing in the fresh air already. Metaphorically in this case, of course.

I’m in Belfast for a couple of days, on my own. One of the things I’ve wanted to do here is go out, preferably to a pub, drink Guinness and listen to some live music. But I’m travelling alone, and I don’t always feel safest on my own. I sometimes think this is easier for blokes. I feel vulnerable, preyed upon at times. And I hate feeling that, and  being restricted in that way. I feel silly for feeling that way. Also, it’s a bit paranoid, I know. So this time I decided go for it anyway. I did, and it felt oh so good!

I loved comfortable darkness of the pub, the shady red lights reflecting on the red wall paper, making it look magic. A velvet curtain dripping a red warm glow in the same light, the light that gave its drab folds life it doesn’t possess in the daylight. I missed my camera which was left in my hotel room. And I relished the taste of just poured Guinness in my mouth.

The pub was called the Empire, and the music was fantastic! Just a guy with a guitar, playing away. One of the songs that seemed to particularly resonate both within the singer and the audience went like this: 

 

I’ll tip my hat to the new constitution

Take a bow for the new revolution

Smile and grin at the change all around

Pick up my guitar and play

Just like yesterday

Then I’ll get on my knees and pray

We don’t get fooled again

No, no!

 

I wonder whether by singing this powerful song by the Who (see also the lyrics for Won’t Get Fooled Again) the singer was thinking about the recent events in this region. 5 February 2010 was an important Friday for Northern Ireland, as the agreement was reached that the responsibility for policing and justice will be devolved from Westminster to the Northern Ireland Assembly, i.e. giving Northern Ireland the control of its police and justice system. In any case, I hope this seals the peace in this land.

I return home with the determination to travel alone again. Soon. And to learn how to make potato bread and wheathen bread, to which I’ve become addicted. If you know a good recipe, drop me a line, and especially if you have any tips for women travelling alone. Cheers!

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Delicious Cornwall

I’ve been meaning to tell you about our fantastic trip to Cornwall for ages. I knew I’d like it in Cornwall, but I didn’t quite expect how much I’d love it, how it would woo me. As they say, love comes in through the stomach. Here are a few things we loved in Cornwall.

 

1) Excellent restaurants

Some Cornwall’s restaurants we’ve eaten in deserve a special post. And my special thanks go to the chefs and staff of The Wave in St. Ives, and of the Gurnard’s Head, near Zennor, for their creative and mouthwatering food! In particular, the staff at the Gurnard’s Head deserve special mention because of their friendliness and informativeness.

We simply didn’t have enough days and nights to try everywhere we wanted to try, so we said good-bye to Cornwall with a list of restaurants to try when we come back next. I can’t wait! 

The Wave, St Ives

 

2) The best fish and chips in the world

I can safely say I’ve had the best fish and chips in the world now.

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The Jewell Chippie in Newlyn sells the most amazing, freshly caught, freshly cooked fish and chips, with daily specials that include lemon sole and scallops. We’ve had one (massive) portion of freshly cooked lemon sole that was just out of this world. Firstly, the fish was freshly caught (the chippie is just behind the harbour, and they buy fresh fish every day). Secondly, it was freshly cooked. Thirdly, and importantly, it was really very well cooked. Just right. Moist and tasty. Non-greasy. Also, it was served by very friendly staff, and incredibly cheap. I give it my vote for the best chippie in the world! This really was something special.

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Funnily, we ate our bounty sitting on a wall in a car park opposite the harbour, but boy what a view we had!

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3) The best cream tea I’ve ever had

The whole of Cornwall is famous for its cream tea, with gorgeous Rodda’s Clotted Cream. In The Kitchen, Polperro, I’ve had the best cream tea ever, with beautiful scones and delicious local strawberry jam.

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4) Fantastic ice-creams

What is a summer without ice-cream? I’m delighted to report that we found excellent ice-cream everywhere in Cornwall, but were particularly impressed by Moomaid ice-cream from Zennor. 

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5) Beers, pasties, etc.

Cornish are proud of their food, and rightly so. They have excellent seafood, and some really very good local produce (try the Cornish blueberries when in season!). We had some stunning local beers in Cornwall. The Cornish Blonde (note, this is not the same as the Celtic Blonde) is a blond beer, with summery notes of heather and hay – one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

You simply cannot go to Cornwall without trying the famous Cornish Pasty. The Philps pasties from Hayle are especially good.

Invite for the pasties

Yes, we will definitely return to Cornwall. I miss it already.

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