In 2017 I set about changing my life. It’s been a hell of a big year for travel, food, going to gigs, starting this blog, starting to work freelance, and lots more besides. Here’s just some of the highlights of my 2017 in food & travel in pictures.
‘Wot you looking at?’ Hard sheep, staring me out, in Harlech, North Wales
Puffer Fish restaurant in Osaka (and I tried it in Tokyo)
Downtown Osaka was soooo colourful!
Itsukushima Shrine in the city of Hatsukaichi in Hiroshima Prefecture, Japan – has got to be seen to be believed
3 Michelin Starred Restaurant Kanda in Tokyo, Japan, for my big milestone birthday!
I had a fab view across the city while hoovering up this matcha green tea ice cream cone at Nissei Ice Cream Parlour at Tokyo Tower. The soft matcha ice cream came in a choice of three different strengths!
I got a bit obsessed with the surreal world of Japanese kitkats!
It was a very very special moment to cuddle a fox in Miyagi Zao Fox Village in Shiroishi, Japan
The famous Buxton Opera House, where I saw my all time idol Marc Almond play in March (one of six gigs of his I saw this year)
In March, I also started volunteering at Farnham foodbank
Portuguese foodie nirvana – pasteis de nata in a bakery in Lisbon
I love the old ginja bars in central Lisbon
My favourite fado bar in Lisbon’s Barrio Alto district. I’ve been coming here nearly 20 years!
Elevador Gloria in central Lisbon, Portugal, leads up to one of my favourite areas of this city – the Barrio Alto
Trying different types of lovely port at the Port Wine Institute in the Barrio Alto District of Lisbon, Portugal
Beautiful & ethereal Easter procession on Good Friday in the medieval walled town of Obidos, one hour’s drive from Lisbon, Portugal
No pictures for May, I was far too busy launching this blog!!
In June, I visited the wonderful old Arabian city Muscat, the capital of Oman. Here are some date sellers in the Fruit & Vegetable Souq in downtown Muscat
Inner courtyard at the Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman
The second(!) biggest chandelier in the world at the Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman
The Royal Opera House, Muscat, Oman
I stayed in the wonderful, tranquil Chedi Hotel in Muscat
Promenade in the stunningly beautiful Grand Mosque in Muscat
July & August
I spent a lot of time in the fabulously flamboyant seaside town of Brighton, on the south coast of England, in July and August
In particular I went to the Brighton Pride festival
And I tried Brighton’s Choccywoccydoodah café’s signature chocolate cake!
But my favourite bit of Brighton, by far, is the seafront & the gorgeously evocative skeleton of the West Pier
At Abergavenny Food Festival in Wales in September, I met one of my foodie heros – Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
And another one – Tom Kerridge
And a third foodie hero – Jay Rayner – instructed us on his Ten Food Commandments
And here’s Cross Street in Abergavenny during the food festival
Anthony Gormley’s statue stares out at the cliffs at Folkestone Triennial Contemporary Art Festival, which I visited in October
In October I made my first fabulous trip to Vietnam. Is that a look of foodie glee, or a fixed smile of fear, as I try the snake wine in a shop in Saigon?
Downtown Saigon and lit in red, my gorgeous hotel, The Reverie
Women rowing sampans on my day trip from Saigon to the Mekong Delta, Vietnam
The stunning and ethereal rocky islands of Halong Bay were used as a location for the 2017 film Kong: Skull Island. I visited them on a day-trip from the Vietnamese capital, Hanoi
There are also many funkily lit caves to visit in Halong Bay
November was a really really busy month. I visited the city of Bath in England, including its fabulous cathedral and wonderful Christmas market
It was very cold, so I really enjoyed the mulled wine in Bath Christmas market!
And despite the cold, I managed to grab a bit of historical culture at the Roman baths in Bath
Pulteney Bridge by the weir in central Bath
In November I also did a small tour of the north east coast of England. This is the Palm Court Hotel where I stayed in Scarborough
And I had dinner in the gothic fishing town of Whitby when there was a gorgeous full moon
And also in November I managed to squeeze in a trip to Galway Bay in the south west of Ireland
The Guinness is good in Galway!
In December, I returned to Brighton. These are some of the funky Christmas lights in North Street
My December day-trip to Brighton was on 21st, to see the wild Burning the Clocks procession for the winter solstice
Sometimes of course, just being at home is best. My white Christmas came late this year, on 27th December
So, wow, what a year it’s been! And on New Year’s Eve I saw it out staying at Tom Kerridge’s fabulous Hand and Flowers in Marlow – the UK’s only 2 Michelin starred pub. I’ve never stayed in a hotel room with its own Christmas tree before, let alone a real tree! Nor one that leaves you a hamper on the bed with a nighttime flask of Tom’s recipe fresh malted milk. What a wonderful start to 2018! HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone!!