Royal Parks Series: The Regent’s Park

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Fully taking advantage of this sporadic, spring-like weather we set out to Regent’s Park for the day.

Regent’s Park is one of London’s eight Royal Parks. Located in North West London, the park boasts 395 acres of beautifully manicured foliage and has over 100 species of wild bird and water fowl.

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There is plenty to do at this park. Aside from enjoying the outrageously captivating scenery; there is paddle boating for kids and adults, a bird walk, a great place for a brisk run and even sports facilities that offer classes such as Pilates, Yoga and a Learning Disabilities Get Active class.

NuNu had such a wonderful time watching the ducks but when it came time to feed them crumbs of bread she couldn’t understand why she had to give up perfectly good food to some tiny flying creatures. She spent more time nibbling than feeding but was impressed to say the least. There is a children’s play area with slides, swings and full adventure playground that she couldn’t get enough of. She was too small for most of it but that didn’t stop her from trying!

There are several cafes and seasonal refreshment points to grab a bite to eat or a quick drink.  Regent’s Park is a fantastic place for the entire family and certainly offers a nice break from the concrete jungle.

Regent’s Park is also home to The London Zoo, Primrose Hill and The Open Air Theatre. The park is also close to nearby shops and attractions such as the Sherlock Holmes Museum and  the world famous Madame Tussauds.

For more information on Regent’s Park click here.

My favourite British spots are any of the beautiful parks, especially on a sunny day such as this, after a long stretch of cold, cloudy and rainy days.” ~Richard Schiff, actor

Moira Jane’s Blue Bird Cafe, Masvingo Zimbabwe

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Good food, a welcoming atmosphere AND a multiuse cafe that also houses a second hand shop will always get my vote.

Moira Jane’s Blue Bird Cafe is a fabulous spot right in the center of the town of Masvingo. Cafe owner, Moira is a fellow North American (via Canada), that has lived in the area for numerous years and has created this community staple. The food was yummy (hence no photos) and the hospitatlity was superb. The menu had plenty of delicious options and vegetarian dishes can be prepared. We placed our orders the day before we visited the cafe and when we arrived our food was hot and ready. The prices where great leaving you with enough cash to spend in the second hand shop. I highly recommend Moira Jane’s, the lotus in the lowveld.

Accidental Hummus and the Dish It Was Intended to Be

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Today I set out to make chickpea patties but happened upon some really delicious hummus along the way. I thought I would share this yummy goodness!

**I never measure, it’s all cooked to taste**

Ingredients:

  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • mixed herbs
  • crushed garlic cloves
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cumin
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • finely diced spinach (optional)
  • lemon juice (if you like a little tang)

1. Drain the chickpeas and rinse

2. Combine ALL ingredients adding a little at a time to taste

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3. Add to food processor along with a bit of water  (just a little to moisten the mixture)

4. Add a bit of extra virgin olive oil

5. Blend to a smooth puree

6. Add more salt to taste if needed and blend more

7. Serve in a bowl with warm pita bread

Yummy!

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As for the meal that I intended to make…..Chickpea Patties

Add breadcrumbs to the above mixture

You can make your own by putting toasted/day old bread in a food processor with seasoning….or  you can buy them

I make my own, eats cheaper.

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Scoop out a palm size portion and form a patty, coating with more bread crumbs

Repeat for each patty

Place patties in an oiled skillet and darken on both sides

Remove from heat and put in an oven safe dish and bake on 350F or 15 minutes or until firm

Remove from oven, place on warm pita bread and Enjoy!

Chickpeas on Pita with a side of butternut and rice

Chickpeas on Pita with a side of Butternut Squash and Rice

Serve with salad and tzatziki sauce (click here for an excellent version from The Greedy Gourmet).

 

 

Basking in the City of Bath…Baby in Tow

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London is a lovely, culture filled, bustling city with many things to see and do, but sometimes it’s good to get away from the city and retreat. Day trips and weekend escapes are perfect for families or those with limited time but in need of a quick getaway. Over Mother’s Day weekend (UK) we wanted to get out of the city and recoup by going to a place with wonderful sites, restaurants and a place that not only we could enjoy but one that NuNu would as well. We chose Bath, just 2 hours West of London.

Bath is a beautiful city situated in the county of Somerset, surrounded by the most intriguing hills and water sources. As soon as you drive into the heart of town it becomes obvious why it is a designated World Heritage Site. First known as Aquae Sulis, Bath was established as a spa town, and prides itself on its history.  Bath is home to an abundance of theatres, museums and interactive sites that will peak the interests of anyone with an appreciation for visual and performance art. Bath is internationally renowned for its tourism and just walking down the street takes you into centuries past. The Roman remains and the Georgian architecture will draw you in, giving you an urge to explore.

With all of the delicate historical elements of Bath, I wondered if it would make the place seem like one big museum of things displaying signs reading “Do Not Touch!” which of course make them more appealing to NuNu, the extremely curious 14 month old. Would it be like letting a milk wasted toddler loose in a china shop? We took our chances and headed out.

Visit Bath

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Being someone that loves to travel, I enjoy reading up on places before getting there to see what the place has to offer as well as to help plan my trip. I’m not the type to stick with an itinerary but I like to have a rough idea of what I will be doing. The VisitBath website is a perfect source of information for a trip to Bath. We planned everything from our accommodations to where we could find some great vegetarian eats.  The best tool EVER is the free Official Bath App . Having the app is like having the key to the city! It details hundreds of attractions, things to do, restaurants, and any and everything in between. It came in handy to find out hours of operation for sites, admission prices, and info on the “Must See” attractions of Bath. When we arrived we headed straight over to the Visitors Information Centre where you can purchase tickets, get additional information and advice on trip planning and an easy to follow map. Our most difficult decision of the trip was figuring out which sites we wanted to take in.

Accommodation

We stayed at the Hilton-Bath City. I have stayed in loads of Hilton hotels and I have always had a great experience. We booked a “Compact Double Room” which initially sounded like a great idea until we rolled in the pram. The closet that is available couldn’t fit our full sized pram so we were constantly having to squeeze by it. For families travelling with little ones I suggest opting for an average sized room because this room is really as advertised…COMPACT.  We didn’t spend very much time in the room other than to rest our heads so it wasn’t too much of a bother. It’s prime location, right in the centre of the city made up for it all together. The buffet breakfast was great with hot and cold options. The facilities were very clean and the service was tops. Added bonus, we were in walking distance of EVERYTHING that Bath has to offer. There is an abundance of accommodations in Bath. If you are looking to stay in a traditional Hotel, a cozy Bed and Breakfast or a place perfect for the on the go back packer, Bath has it. To see more accommodation options click here.

Bath Abbey

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Bath Abbey, originally instated in 1499, represents the last of medieval churches, still operating as a fully functioning parish centuries later. Beautiful stained glass windows and intricate, detailed carvings adorn the walls. An absolutely stunning feature. During our visit the  choir was rehearsing which made the visit that much more pleasant. Take a tour of Abbey tower by climbing all 212 steps to experience breathtaking city views.(www.bathabbey.org)

Roman Baths

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Truly a Bath “MUST SEE”. Key to affording Bath it’s World Heritage Site designation, it is a beautiful temple still flowing with natural hot water once enjoyed by the Romans. We were impressed by the Roman Baths from beginning to end. This is one site that is a parents dream. Even though pushchairs and prams are not allowed, they have pram parking AND they also provide child carriers for babies and toddlers. This made it super easy for us to navigate the stone pavement and steps throughout the entire exhibition. NuNu particular enjoyed the costumed characters that were spot on with their roles from their style of dress to mannerisms. You can enjoy the wall projections depicting Roman life and remnants of the Temple Pediment as it stood nearly 2000 years ago. Audio guides are available in 8 languages. (www.romanbaths.co.uk)

NuNu in the provided baby carrier

NuNu in the provided baby carrier

The Pump Room

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Fancy going to a traditional English tea room, this would be your place.  Used for entertaining and socializing  for over two centuries, The Pump Room has a feel of prestige yet remains inviting and unpretentious. The decor is impressive with it’s high ceilings, sparkling chandeliers and cozy fireplaces. Open for tea during the day and available for event hire in the evening, I would add The Pump Room as a “Must See and Do” of Bath. (click here for more information on The Pump Room)

Fashion Museum & Assembly Rooms

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The Fashion Museum is just as the name suggests, a magnificent display of the past and present of fashion. From contemporary to historical garments, you will be in total awe as you walk through this jaw dropping exhibition. For the budding fashionistas there is even an area to try on  and have a go at modelling a few replicas of period pieces. The Fashion Museum also houses the Assembly Rooms which consists of The Tea Room, Card Room, Octagon, and The Ball Room, all of which have been used for entertainment since the 18th century. Certainly a beautiful location for weddings and gatherings. (www.museumofcostume.co.uk)

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Postal Museum

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Bath has had a tremendous influence in the revolution of the British Postal Service. At the Postal Museum visitors can experience the many “postal firsts” that took place in Bath, one being the first mail coach run in 1784. Kids can dress up as post master and participate in activities such as colouring and games. (www.bathpostalmuseum.co.uk)

The Jane Austen Centre

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The centre is dedicated to honour the life of famed author Jane Austen.  Visitors learn about her familial relationships and how the great city of Bath influenced some of her most famous pieces of work such as Pride & Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility. As you are guided through the centre by “characters” in full regency garb taking you through exhibits that chronicle Jane’s life, you feel as if you have been transported to the 18th century. The centre offers visitors an interactive look into life during Regency times through a short film and a “dress up” area where you can see what it’s like to dress as novel characters, Mr. Darcy or Elinor Dashwood. I do recommend bringing an alternative to a pram for the Jane Austen Centre if possible as there are a number of stairs that are difficult to navigate. (www.janeausten.co.uk)

Pulteney Cruisers

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Just off of Pulteney Weir, you can hop on an open top boat and cruise down the River Avon. This hour long round trip excursion gives great views of  Pulteney Bridge as well as Bathhampton Down, an Iron Age hill fort along with many other places of interest. Plenty of wildlife can be spotted along the river such as wild ducks, geese, Kingfishers and otters. The operators provide knowledgeable commentary and the service was great. With fares of just £8 for adults, £4 for children, and under 5’s free, this experience isn’t just fun for the whole family but it is also very affordable. Prams can be stored on the lower deck and cold drinks can be purchased during your cruise. This tour hit the spot in terms of relaxation. (www.bathboating.com)

Shopping

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Bath is a shoppers dream. The streets are literally lined with shops filled with one of a kind pieces. Whether you enjoy big brands or quirky, independent shops, Bath has something for everyone. There are markets in the city centre where you can literally buy anything from scarves, fancy dress outfits to pet supplies.

How does Cocoaonthegogo rate Bath?

★★★★★ (5 stars)

Bath gets 5 stars for being family friendly, accessible to parents with small children, and having more than enough fabulous attractions. Bath is a place that you can visit continuously and do/see something different each and every time. We really can’t wait for our next visit!