Going back to work this week really did make me realise I will be soon facing reality again and back to routines. So I decided to make use of the bank holiday weekend to do one last trip to Brighton before the end of summer, hoping for some nice sunshine! ☀️ The last time I visited Brighton was all the way back in October last year with my mum during the half term break (come to think of it that was before the last national lockdown- time really does fly!)
On arrival it was all bright and sunny and I headed down to the hippy area of The Lanes, stumbling this vegetarian café for food. I ordered their mushroom and courgette lasagne and it tasted really good (I do enjoy having plant-based stuff 🌿🌿 every now and then, it just feels less heavy at times lol!)
While the sun was indeed out, the beach was generally still quite windy so it felt actually colder than it looked! 🥶 However, after checking into the hotel and having rested a little, I decided to head out to the beach for a mini picnic.
Afterwards, I journeyed along the beach (passing the naturist’s beach at one point haha! 😆) and reached the Brighton Marina Square.
I also got to enjoy the beautiful sunset and the vibrant night lights of the Brighton seafront 🌅🌃 (making the most of staying in a hotel by the beach this time! 😂)
The next day, I also paid a visit to the Royal Pavilion (which was doing renovations when I was here last time.) Also pleasantly surprised to find out that the normal ticket is all year around, so I can visit again and again for free! 😁
After the visit to the Royal Pavilion, I still had time to revisit the other side of the seafront and sit down for a seafood lunch at a restaurant by the i360 tower! 🤤🤤
Summer is finally over, but I know plenty of adventures are still out there! 🙂
I just love love strawberry! Especially when it is in season in the summer and nothing can get better than a classic British strawberry and cream dessert! 😋
When I visited the Silver Darling in Aberdeen earlier in the week, I was very inspired by its strawberry tasting platter, so I decided to do my take on it last night. This strawberry dessert platter was composed of a strawberry & mint sorbet, eggless meringue (made from aquafaba), strawberry shortbread (coloured and filled with dried strawberries), strawberry jelly cubes, fresh strawberry coulis, whipped cream, and last but not least, a strawberry-mint vodka cocktail shot! 🍸😉
We might have gotten a little carried away on the alcohol! 😂
I wonder when I become old and frail, would I have still have the energy and passion to see the world and cease the moments we have? 🤔
Continuing to the third day of our visit in Aberdeen, we visited the Aberdeen beachfront as well as the Codonas Amusement Park which apparently has a history of over 50 years! 😱 (First opening at 1970, which makes only it a handful of years younger than my mum lol!)
I certainly don’t know much about the history of the place in the past, but it was quite a bit emptier than we anticipated…😬 (a bit unusual for a seaside resort but I guess I will blame it on the cold weather haha!) Wondering into the game centre, my mum and I decided to have a game of ‘Connect four’ basketball 😂 🏀 (basically connect four but played with basketball lol…)
We earned quite a few tickets, but the machine was broken so all the tickets were stuck inside. Once we found a staff to fix it, all the tickets were unblocked and we managed to take all those left behind by previous players (sneaky I know lol! 😎) The previous family playing the game came back and was surprised to see the machine fixed. I offered them to have all the ones that weren’t ours, but the guy was so kind to give us theirs (since they were leaving) as well as a few additional tickets they have. Honestly, I felt a bit greedy…. 😬
With 400 tickets now, I thought we could exchange some nice prizes. My mum and I had tried to weigh up what to get but decided most things are pretty useless… 😂 except the mugs which were 500 tickets (I did suggest going back to play more games.) Seeing us struggling, the girl at the counter asked us what we wanted and she ended up adding up all the leftover tickets around the counter to bring it up to 500 for us!! (Including a ticket which was found in an elderly staff’s pocket!) Oh my God, I was floored by the kindness of these people! Thank you! Thank you! 🙌🙌🙌
After taking a brief break in the hotel, we then took a bus to Duthie Park by River Dee before finishing the day (still have some of our Indian takeaways left over in our hotel room from the previous day 😂.)
The next day, we returned to the Aberdeen beachfront reaching further to Footdee where we also visited the Silver Darling to treat ourselves to a luxurious seafood lunch.
What a feast that was and I felt like I was eating like the king the whole time! 😝 My favourites of the seafood platter was the grilled langoustines and mussels (that cream sauce was yummy!), but I also really enjoyed the crispy white baits. (Mum also really liked the crevettes, but I think I just generally preferred the hot stuff more than the cold stuff.) We also enjoyed the dessert, especially that heavenly sorbet (plus the cocktail was getting into our heads a bit haha! 😂🥴)
After lunch, we then explored the old fishing village of Footdee before returning to the sea view once again. Loved all the artistic touches around the village! It really gave it a touch of sunshine (even without it was lacking that day 😂) and fun in the area!
Finally, at the final day of our trip, we visited Thaikhun at Union Square (which was the shoppping mall attached to the bus station) before boarding our bus back to Edinburgh.
Really liked the street food platter (ranking wise I will say it’s chicken satay > prawn toasts > steamed dumplings > crispy beef, though my mum argued that the steamed dumplings should be before the prawn toasts haha! 😂 ) I dare say this was probably one of the best I have had in a while lol. The Tom Kha Gai was also really good with a strong taste of lemongrass and lime, and the grilled pork I will say was overall decent. (We didn’t finished the grilled pork which we ended up taking back home and I ended up mopping it up for dinner haha.) But what impressed me the most was the presentations of the food, it really made me felt like I was eating at the street of Thailand haha!
Throughout this trip, I was so pleased of the time I get to spend with my mum after some time apart due to the pandemic. The scenery, the people and the kindness we came across on this trip were unforgettable. Life is short, and sometimes wonder how much longer we get to be doing this… But I tell myself we have the memories to treasure forever and the next time could be ever so near. 🥰
Welcome to Aberdeen – the famous ‘Granite City’ or the so-called ‘Grey City’! After some delay in our bus from Aviemore (about 15 minutes then we were further delayed by like half an hour in the second bus when it stopped in Dundee 🚌 🚌 ), we finally began our 4-night stay in the city!
On our first night, we settled for a rather relaxed evening with a steak dinner in The Brig O’Don. The restaurant was bit away from our hotel and we were already late for our booking due to the delayed bus (though the restaurant was very kind in keeping our seats for us.) We decided to walk over as the weather was actually quite nice at first, but it started to rain heavily as we were about 10 minutes away from it! ☔️☔️ (Classic turbulent Scottish weather urgh 😓) And just as typical as it could get, that was the only time we left our umbrellas in the hotel, so we arrived at the place all drenched and soaked! 😂 💦 💦
The prices were fairly cheap and the food were of good to decent qualities. I really liked the sweet potato fries and the breaded mushrooms, and the seasonings were on point overall – just a bit of a shame that my steak was over cooked (I asked for medium-rare but I think I got medium-well 😅) and the fried squids were a bit soft.
After a night’s rest, we started to explore the city the next day. Looking at all marvellous architecture, it is very apparent how Aberdeen got its nickname of the ‘Grey City’! 😂
We then paid a visit to the Aberdeen Art Gallery. Not going to lie I was not a huge fan of a lot of the arts in the gallery. 😅 Whilst there are some good art pieces I think a lot of the stuff on display are rather too ‘out there’ for me… 😓 (There was a room showing a video showing a pool of eels which was quite gross… 🤢🤢)
After our visit to the gallery, we wandered down the busy Union Street in the Aberdeen city centre looking for a place for lunch. We stumbled upon a rather grand-looking Thai restaurant called Chaophraya, which was doing a rather sweet deal of a 3-course lunch menu costing £16 (or 2-course for £13.) And I am so glad we found this place! 😋👍
Both of the desserts were absolutely amazing (especially that tangy clementine tart! 🤤🤤) I was also very impressed by the green papaya salad with the dried shrimps and the spicy sauce. (Actually tasted perfect when eaten with my mum’s Pad Thai haha! Yeah we like mixing things together… 😂) Loved the Tamarind pork skewers, but was also pleasantly surprised by the red curry chicken tacos. The taco resembled more to a very soft pancake, and worked perfectly with the toppings! ❤️
We then retreated back to the hotel after exploring the city centre a bit more and ordered an Indian takeaway to enjoy in the room to wrap up the day. 😌
Since I have been a little kid, I have always loved trains (like honestly who doesn’t lol? 😂) Building model trains and watching the trains moved across the landscape as I fantasied about travelling on them were all such wonderful times back then. 🚂 🚂 So it should come as no surprise that a long dream of mine is to ride a steam train across the British countryside (and watching great railway journeys during lockdown definitely made me feel more enthusiastic about it haha!) At last, this dream finally came true!
For the start of our road trip up north, my mum and I dropped by Aviemore, a town situated within the Cairngorms National Park in the Scottish Highlands. The town itself is a popular tourists’ destination (evident in the lack of vacancies for accommodation when I booked two weeks ago! 😅) and the Strathspey Steam Train is a particular attraction there. The train journey itself is about 1 and an half hours long and travelled across the scenic countryside, passing Boat of Garten and Broomhill stations on the way before returning along the same route back to Aviemore. The afternoon tea ticket cost a very reasonable price of £35.25 each (comparing to the more luxurious train journeys in London such as the British Pullman which are more than 10 times the price. Probably will never be able to get on those in my lifetime! 😭 😭)
The afternoon tea set is all inclusive in the price including teas/coffees plus a free, small bottle of Prosecco per person! 🍾🥂 You will be asked to pick the options for the sandwiches (we chose the egg mayo and tuna mayo) which will come along with the scones and cakes. Honestly I didn’t have high hopes for the food, but they all turned out to be of good qualities. Tuna sandwiches and the fruit cake tasted great! And I have never been a fan of scones and Victoria sponges, but they were both surprisingly good and moist. (I used up that whole jar of delicious strawberry jam 🍓🍓 to spread on the scones hehe. Perfection with the clotted cream! 😋)
FYI the first part of the journey was very bumpy, so we were swinging side to side as we drank our tea/coffees. (Almost spat it out! It was hilarious!! 🤣🤣🤣 🫖 ☕️ 💦💦)
Beside the food and wine, we certainly made sure we didn’t missed any of the beautiful scenery along the route! So many cows and sheep 🐄 🐑 across the vast land and the nature just looked amazing!
Finishing the train ride, we settled for an early evening in our B&B and were greeted by the two very friendly owners! They were both so attentive and welcoming that they have made it such a nice stay! (We got some Chinese takeaways for dinner and they were so nice setting up tables for us to eat the food in their dining room. 🥰)
The next morning we explored Aviemore a bit more before departing on the bus to Perth, changing to Aberdeen.
Happy Friday! 🎉 🎉 For me, this past week felt oddly anticlimactic (perhaps with the Tokyo Olympics finished last week, I felt a little like I don’t know what to do with my life anymore! 😂😅) Between alternating spouts of sunshines and miserable weather this week, I mainly stayed homebound and lazed around on my bed catching up on sleep 😴 (except for a couple of lunches outside with my mum.)
Following Tokyo 2020, this week I took a bit of inspirations from some of my family’s favourite Japanese ingredients. 😋 Chestnuts and sweet potatoes were some of the hot ticket items among my family growing up in Hong Kong!
After a week of slight limbo, it felt like it will be a nice change of scene as I am heading to the Scottish Highlands tomorrow. Fingers crossed 🤞 for nice weather and plenty of pleasant surprises ahead! 😆
Staying at home during the holidays means I have more time experimenting with bakes and trying something new for a change! Which of these do you like the look of? 😉 Happy to share any recipes or ideas!
It’s always so much nicer to deep fry in a bigger kitchen! (And thank goodness it’s not too hot here in Edinburgh!) I was oddly craving for some fried food this weekend, so I decided to make some simple veggie samosas today! 😋👌
The dough is very simple (so much so it doesn’t even really needed a recipe haha!) – it is basically flour with a teaspoon of olive oil and a couple of spoonfuls of water until the dough comes together after some kneading. (I used wholemeal plain flour.) Most of the fillings came from scraps I could find in my family’s fridge/freezer – butternut squash, broccoli, fried tofu, garlic, coriander and spring onions seasoned with some spices including turmeric and chilli powder.
I went for a very simple triangular ‘pyramid’ fold, which is basically folding the three corners over the filling and sealing it with a ‘glue’ made from flour and water.
I then served these with a dipping sauce made from cucumber, coriander, garlic, vinegar, sesame oil and fish sauce (plus salt and sugar.) It was a delicious Saturday snack! 😋 😋
It’s been a few days since I have been back in Edinburgh – felt like I haven’t been in my family home for so long… but it’s so good to just sit down and be able to relax completely, thinking and worrying about nothing else in life right now! 😂
One of my favourite things to do whilst here (especially in the summer if you have been following my past posts 🤪) is to utilise the big freezer in my mum’s house to make some homemade ice cream. 🍨🍨 (The freezer at my London apartment is tiny and not really cold enough to freeze things.) And I decided to go full on restaurant-like this time 😛, also making a mango millefeuille with wholemeal filo pastry to accompany my mango ice cream! 🥭🥭🥭 (Who doesn’t love mangoes lol?)
I don’t usually watch much sports, but for the past week I have been watching the Tokyo Olympics obsessively, staying up at night tuning into all the fixtures! (I am a big Olympics fan! 😝) So glad to see it back on our screen again after the delay from last year. The last Olympics game in Rio was when I moved in to my first flat in London 5 years ago, and it’s crazy to think how much has happened since then. I wonder where I will be when Paris 2024 happens? 🤔
Also all these actions in Japan has made me really wanted to revisit the country again and craving Japanese food lol! 🤤 So, last night I made one of my childhood favourites – Chawanmushi, which is a savoury steamed Japanese egg custard. It was a little messy, but I jam-packed it with a lot of fillings and flavours (because I am greedy with fillings haha! 😬) Even my mum likes it and she is normally VERY critical! 😂
Who else has also been enjoying the games like me? 😁
Nature in Iceland is definitely one to behold! It’s a shame my schedule didn’t allowed me to see more of it (which is why I intended to come back again in the future! 😂) But for my final days in the country, I was blessed to witness many beauties of nature within this short amount of time! 🥰🥰
My first stop after a brief morning soak in the park was Perlan Museum on the hill just by Reykjavik Airport. It was a tightly packed day as I needed to make sure I wouldn’t be late for my bus to the iconic Blue Lagoon at half one, so everything was a bit snapdash in the morning! 😂
The best part of the museum for me was definitely the ice cave! The temperature inside stood at -10 degrees Celsius 🥶, but it was a lot fun running around and exploring as if you are in a real frozen fantasy world! ❄️❄️
After the museum visit, I had just over an hour to use before meeting my scheduled pickup at the bus station by Hallgrímskirkja (where I was staying just on the other side of the road.) So I headed to Kol Restaurant next door to my hotel as well as conveniently dropping off some stuff in my hotel room. 😛 The restaurant appeared to be a fusion Japanese place. They were doing a brunch sample menu but I felt like eating something lighter, so I ordered just the tuna tacos as well as the duck & waffle. The tuna tacos were delicious as the tuna tartare in the centre was perfectly seasoned and sandwiched between the crispy wonton skins. 😋 (Honestly I could have eaten another two!) On the other hand, I will say the duck & waffle was more average – seasoned well but I would have personally liked my waffle to be crispier.
And now, for the main event of my trip- and this is the iconic Blue Lagoon! The place is extremely popular among tourists (honestly the place was packed!) For someone who loves bath like me, this place will be number one on any visiting list! 😁
I pre-booked my visit online before travelling to Iceland, including the tour bus to and from the spa. (Met a lovely American lady on the bus and chatted for some time!) If you don’t drive, there aren’t really much other alternatives from buses besides taking very expensive taxis. (The place is located around 45 minutes drive away from Reykjavik, though a fairly short 20 minutes drive from Keflavík airport.) I went for the cheapest Comfort ticket, costing 8990 ISK (about £56). The prices depend on the day. (I came on Saturday which I think it’s more expensive than weekdays.) The Comfort ticket covered a free drink and a silicon mask, and doesn’t include any bathrobe or sandals and you only get a towel in the end (that caused a lot of confusions with some people including me because we were all like how do we dry ourselves after the initial shower then!? 😂)
The rule is that you must shower (without swimwear) and clean before entering the lagoon. Past the changing rooms, there are cafes and other services which you can paid with the band they provide on entry then finishing any payment when you exit. And to put it quite simply, this place is just heaven to visit with the comfort and the amazing views it provide! 🥰🥰 (I stayed there for a good 4 hours! 😂 Just make sure you stay hydrated/not overheated and don’t miss your return bus!)
Returning to Reykjavik, I finished the day with a dinner of local Icelandic delicacies in Fjallkonan. I have always been bold enough to try different things (being raised in a Chinese household, we pretty much eat everything haha! 😚) hence I went for their signature Icelandic platter. That whale meat was definitely my favourite of the three – it’s like a really soft steak topped with a delicious sauce and purée! 😂
On the rainy morning before my return flight, I decided to head to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja tower, gazing down to the colourful city from above. (It was just before Sunday service as well, so there were a lot of people coming inside the church and the place was super busy.)
And after checking out the hotel, it was my last Icelandic meal (for the time being) in Apótek restaurant. Talk about saving the best ’til last though! Both dishes were outstanding- I dare to say that beef carpaccio is a 10/10! 🤤 💯 The lamb rump steak was also super tender and perfect with the delicious sauces! 🧡🧡 (Definitely worth a revisit in the future!)
And now it’s finally time to fly home (popping to Edinburgh to see my mum there for the summer!) ✈️ And I bid a rather tentative farewell to Iceland (for the time being!) ☺️
SIDE STORY: That journey in Keflavík Airport to the Edinburgh flight ended up as an absolute mad dash! 🏃🏻🏃🏻 After arriving a bit later than I intended in the airport (missed my first transit bus… 😓), all was good with checking in (after all the COVID-related checks and I was sure I will be on time) but the security check proved to be my undoing. It was so packed full of people, I had to ask to be moved to the priority queue when I realised there were 10 minutes left until gate closing. (Even then it was still moving way too slow… 😖) Hearing the announcement that the gate was closing after I just passed security, I sprinted and leapt through the airport and passport control (it was one of the furthest gate away too! 🙀🙀) and made it just in time! (Didn’t even have time to put my iPad and laptops back into my bag and was carrying them all in my hands! 🤣) One good thing that came out of it is maybe I have burnt a couple of calories from all the food I ate! 😝
But I also just want to say how nice and helpful all the people in Iceland were ☺️, especially the drivers who alway let me cross the road! (I never get that in London lol! 😂) Can’t wait for when I come back to visit again! 👋