Elephant Baths and Jeep Safaris

After our little adventure getting very close to nature, we had no time to catch our breath. Next stop was the elephant breeding centre to play with some baby elephants. If you know me well, then you know that I’m a bit animal mad. Particularly when it comes to baby animals, especially large baby animals such as elephants. I’ve only seen them a couple of times in my life but every time is as good as the next. There’s something so adorable about a clumsy, leathery goofball who just looks like a naughty child. I may be a little obsessed but baby elephants just make my heart melt.

We arrived at the breeding centre at about 10am. The elephants get let out in the jungle from 10:30-4:30pm so we’d arrived just in time. Unfortunately the elephants were all chained up minus one of the babies, but our guide said it was for our protection mainly, as well as monitoring the elephants. Because there was only a waist high fence between up and the elephants, if they were running loose and got mad at too many people milling around, it could become a bit chaotic. It was sad to see them chained up but the Chitwan National Park is one of the only places in the world that has successfully rehabilitated these beautiful giants to a substantial population number, so I guess they are doing the right thing. The majority of funding for the breeding centre comes from tourism, so without visitors, this centre would cease to exist and the elephant population would probably decrease. So while some people see the captivity of elephants cruel, it’s actually beneficial for both Nepal and the elephants. Of the 20+ elephants here, none of them are used for work purposes. They are solely here just to breed and look after their little ones.

The one baby elephant who was loose was the biggest ratbag ever. He marched over to the four of us and tried to grab out water bottles out of our hands with his trunk and sniffed us all over. He was just five months old but had the attitude of a teenager, for an elephant he raced around quite quickly and was a bit rough when he played. It was beautiful to watch the interaction between the mother and babies and I could have happily stayed there all day!

They say you have to give up things for love. I happily gave up my water for this guy! 😀

We had to move on though, it was time for an ‘elephant shower’ and lunch. I quickly dropped my things off at the Safari Club and headed down to the river where some of the elephants were having a bath. This was a bit of a touristy gimmick, but one I was quite happy to oblige in. While people get quite worked up about riding elephants, I wasn’t so worried after seeing the treatment of these beautiful creatures. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve ridden horses my entire life and have lived on a farm but I don’t see the treatment of these animals that cruel. Yes, I realise in some countries, elephants are treated cruelly and that’s unacceptable but from what I saw here in Nepal, these elephants actually looked happy. Elephant training isn’t that different from breaking in a horse. Of course, the size and strength brings on some differences but it’s not always that pleasant to break a horse in. I mean, we’ve tied up horses for hours to get them to behave, which from an outsider who has never witnessed this before might consider this cruel. But our horses are given so much love that this discipline is usually overshadowed. In a way, it’s the same for elephant trainers. They will usually only have one elephant for life and its their main source of income so while there is strong discipline used by the trainer, there would be a huge amount of care put into the animal. The trainer needs the elephant as much as the elephant needs the trainer so it is all relevant. I guess what I’m trying to say is that, the people that get really worked up about elephant training are people who haven’t been exposed to other forms of animal treatment. Anyway that’s enough of an essay. I love animals and it’s my personal choice to interact with the elephants this way.  I’m still not entirely sold on elephant safaris, but this was a natural experience that I was going to be a part of. Elephants love the water, they spend quite a bit of time bathing themselves in the river and I was merely there to be a proverbial fly on the elephants back. 

I walked up the wooden platform to get onto the elephants back and we waded into the river. This was the very river we had canoed down this morning so I was very aware that there were crocodiles swimming around me. I just hoped I wasnt going to become a snack! The elephant was about belly-deep in the water and proceeded to start splashing me with river water using his trunk. It was quite funny and a great way to cool down. I think the elephant and the trainer got more enjoyment out of it than me! This went on for about five minutes and then the elephant kneeled down and started to roll over! I was thrown into the river, where I hastily exited because of the aforementioned crocodiles!

Is it just me or is this elephant grinning?
Apparently I needed a bath, not just a shower!

It was a quick experience but a lovely one. I got one more cuddle from the elephant (well actually it was mainly me cuddling him!) before I had to head back for lunch. A quick lunch break and then we were back out in the jungle for a jeep safari. It was here that we might get the chance of seeing the elusive tiger or leopard. I didn’t have high hopes but with the amount of rhinos we’d seen in the wild, it may just happen!

We canoed across the river to where the jeeps were and got comfy. It was going to be about five hours of driving around the jungle so I was glad I had a good seat. The safari was quite good, we saw more rhinos – even another baby one! There were plenty of monkeys and deer, who actually coincide together and look out for each other. We also saw a few monitor lizards, crocodiles and different kinds of birds. Unfortunately no tigers or leopards but I’ seen that many wild rhinos, I wasnt disappointed! 


Look at that face!!!

After the safari we had a drink on the riverbank to watch the sunset before heading back to the Safari Club for dinner. I was heading back to Kathmandu tomorrow at 6am, so I went to bed early knackered from my massive day! 


The following morning it was raining when I woke up, must be time to go! The bus ride back to Kathmandu was bloody awful. It took 14 hours this time, with only two spots. I definitely have had enough of buses in Nepal! We got into Kathmandu around 10:30pm and I headed straight to my hostel to pass out! Tomorrow I fly to Chiang Mai to see the north of Thailand. Nepal has been a fabulous experience and I’m definitely keen to return to do more hiking, but no more buses!!

J. X

Peaceful Pokhara

This morning was an early start. C and I had to be at the bus station 6:15am for our bus to Pokhara and after a pretty cruisy couple of days, it was a bit hard to function at this hour of the morning. Thankfully the bus station was easy to find and by 6:30am we were on our way to Pokhara in an air conditioned coach with wifi! Not too bad for about AUD$8!

Five hours later, we were not quite as chirpy as the bus bounced and jerked along the road. To say that Nepal’s roads were awful would be the understatement of the century – THEY WERE THE WORST IN THE WORLD!! Let me just backtrack a little and really give you some perspective as to how terrible they are. Kathmandu to Pokhara is 204.5 kilometres, which in Australia would probably take under two hours to get there. However this is Nepal and nothing happens quickly here. It took us two hours just to get out of Kathmandu! It was a bouncy old show as well, the roads which were continually under construction were a pot-holed, often dirt lane that hundreds of vehicles and bikes fight to race to the front. C and I were slowly losing our minds as we bounced around the back of the bus, wishing we’d worn sports bra’s but the locals on the bus weren’t fazed. Despite it being six hours in and not even close to Pokhara they just sat happily, eating their chips and playing on their phones. I’ll give the Nepalese some credit, they’re patient as hell. By the time we reached the outskirts of Pokhara, C and I were ready to get off and walk. I may be sounding like a drama queen but I’ve done some hellish bus rides in my time and this takes the cake. As a forewarning for any future travellers to Nepal, the bus rides bloody suck!

We finnnnaaaallly got to Pokhara and found a place to stay easily. On the taxi ride there were drove past the lake and any disgruntled-ness I felt from the bus ride disappeared. Pokhara has a serene and calm place and the chilled vibe was very contagious. Our little guest house, the Harvest Moon, was costing us a huge AUD$6 a night and was just a couple of streets away from the lakeside. As the most touristic area, the Lakeside is filled with restaurants, cafes, spas and travel agents. We found a spot to grab a snack by the lake and relaxed in the afternoon sun and tried to plan out what we wanted to do here. After walking past the many spas and wellness centres, we decided we deserved to treat ourselves to a spa day. After all, we had just hiked Everest Base Camp and survived that God-awful bus ride. We booked in for a massage, facial, manicure and pedicure for the following afternoon and I was already feeling calmer.

Incoming rain

Finding dinner nearby to our guest house, we had an early dinner and headed to bed. It’s really quite tiring sitting on a bus all day! The following morning we woke early and set out to hike to the World Peace Pagoda. It was lovely and cool as we began our hike but as soon as we reached the forest where the main trail lay, the humidity set in and we were sweating in minutes. It took over an hour to get to the top. It was so much easier to hike in low altitude, if I wasnt dying from the heat I could have ran up there! (not really, lets be honest) but it felt good to actually do some proper exercise again! I’d done a couple of yoga classes in Kathmandu but nothing strenous like this uphill hike. We reached the top and cooled down by wandering around the large, white stupa. Here we met a couple of other travellers so after we’d done looking out at the beautiful view, we headed down the hill to a little boat station and got a boat back to the Lakeside.

Sweaty but finding peace at the World Peace Pagoda!

Lush views of Pokhara
Boat rides across the lake are a popular activity to do here in Pokhara

C and I hadn’t eaten brekkie yet and it was getting close to noon so we sussed out where this cafe that we spotted yesterday on the taxi ride in was and made a beeline for it. AM/PM Organic Cafe was a little slice of hipster heaven in central Nepal. They offered things like smoothie bowls, kombucha and cold brew coffee. A little more exxy than other restaurants in town but we reasoned that it was actually brekkie and lunch so thefore it actually worked out cheaper! I ordered an iced coffee and scrambled eggs and C got a smoothie bowl with her iced coffee. It was delicious and exactly what I’d been hoping for!

After our brunch we had about an hour to refresh before heading to Jiva Spa for our spa afternoon. I have to say, this is the first time I’ve done something like this. Usually if I’m spending money when travelling, its on good food or fun activities but something about this spa day was so exciting! However after my feet had spent two weeks in hiking boots, I felt bad for the lady who had to deal with them. The whole experience was about four hours long and by the time we got out I was feeling totally new. We topped off our afternoon with a peanut butter and banana smoothie and that shocking bus ride was a far, distant memory in my head. I was so zen right now!

That night we had dinner at the Pokhara OR2K restaurant, it had basically the same menu at Kathmandu, minus the espresso martinis! It was a great end to a good day though! We headed to bed early as our massages had put us in too much of a relaxed mood to do anything else!

Tonight’s dinner was served with a slice of gorgeous sunset

The following morning we had another early start as we had booked to go zip-lining. The weather was brilliant and I could even see a tip of one of the Annapurna mountains from our room! The drive to the top of the zip line was a little hairy. It was a one-lane road and i think  our driver thought he was in the Formula 1, not taking up bunch of tourists up a hill! We made it there safely though and had a beautiful clear view of the Annapurna range.

Sneaky snowy peak hiding behind the clouds!

As per usual, things were moving in Nepali time (aka – slowly) so it was a good half hour before the first person went down the zip line. C and I were last to go and had to wait another hour for our 90 seconds of adrenaline rush! by the time it was our go I was so hungry for breakfast that I wasnt even excited about the zip line anymore! It was fun, don’t get me wrong but it was over so quickly! Everyone was ready to go by the time we were unharnessed so we had two seconds to catch our breath before jumping back in the van to head back to the lakeside.

The beautiful Annapurna Ranges – I’ll be back to hike you!
Compulsory dorky GoPro selfie!

That meant breakfast though! C was still buzzing from the zip line and decided to spontaneously book a paragliding flight because of the beautiful clear skies. I wanted to save my money for later (plus I’ve already paraglided in Oludeniz, Turkey – the best in the world! 😛 )so we split up for a couple of hours. C ran off a cliff with a parachute and I grabbed a coffee and my iPad to do some writing before going to the weirdest yoga class I’ve ever been to! I was the only person in the class and this guy was kook-city. A sweetheart but not on a whole other planet! I met up with C afterwards and got reorganised to have dinner at Pokhara Thakali Restaurant, which apparently serves the best Thakali cuisine in Pokhara!

The Thakali are an ethnolinguistic group originated from the Thak Khola region of the Mustang District in the Dhaulagiri zone of Nepal. There’s only about 30,000 Thakali in Nepal however most of them are successful businessmen, dominating the hotel game. They have a certain cuisine which is a combination of different curries served with rice, pappadums and condiments such as pickles and chutneys. The best part is the usually have free refills! We were having dinner early so were the only ones in the restaurant. The staff didn’t speak the best English so we ordered what we thought was the traditional Thakali meal and hoped for the best! While it lacked in presentation, it made up for it in flavour! The tiny bowls of curry were delicious and the sweet chutney was good enough to bottle and take home! After dinner we headed a couple of doors down for a brownie and ice-cream at AM/PM Organic! 

Tasted SO much better than it looked, trust me!

The following morning we were up at 6am to catch the bus to Lumbini. Unfortunately the man who sold us the ticket was a bit dodgy and the bus he promised never showed. We were put on a bus that was going to India, that would drop us in Lumbini but after waiting an extra 45 minutes, we bailed and decided to head back to Kathmandu. C was due to fly out the next day and we weren’t sure how long it would take us to get back to Kathmandu this time!

J. X

Edinburgh!

Ahh Edinburgh, the big old grey city with a wealth of history and a rich Scottish culture. I know cities tend to just be the same, but there’s just something about Edinburgh that makes it unique. It might have something to do with the huge castle plonked on top of the hill overlooking the city, I don’t know :p We arrived into Edinburgh after a reasonably short drive from the Lake District. It was exciting crossing over into Scotland – a first for me! We even stopped on the side of the highway and snapped a selfie with the ‘Welcome to Scotland’ sign. It was about 5pm once we reached our accommodation for the night, which was an apartment just five minutes from the Old Town. They were called Holistic Apartments and they were lovely on the inside, but the outside wasn’t exactly what you would call ‘holistic’. But with a double bed and a washing machine, it was all we needed.

We made it to Scotland!
We made it to Scotland!

After settling in we drove into the Old Town and walked up the Royal Mile to check out the Edinburgh Castle. The sun was settling past the big old grey buildings, which created a golden light over the ancient castle. The cobblestone streets glowed golden and the distant sound of bagpipes made the Scottish capital morph from the harsh, cold city into a beautiful old style town.

Edinburgh at sunset..
Edinburgh at sunset..

The Royal Mile was buzzing with people and the search for a dinner spot was difficult as most restaurants were filled up with people. We eventually settled on the No. 1 High Street Bar, which served lovely fish and chips. Mum and I also dared to try the unappealing haggis, which I must admit was actually not that bad. But maybe that’s because it was served as a mince with mashed potato. If you just pretended it was regular mince, you could almost call it delicious. We headed back to our apartment to do some more washing and research of what to do the following day. We woke the next morning to fog as thick as pea soup. Despite not being able to see twenty metres ahead, we got organised and set out for the morning’s activity, hiking to Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat is the highest peak in Holyrood Park. It peaks at 250m above sea level, which gives you a fantastic panoramic view of Edinburgh. Or at least, that’s what I hear. Mum and I took on the mountain despite the heavy fog; in hopes of the sun deciding to appear once we reached the top. In typical blonde fashion, we decided to take the steep track up because it looked shorter. However with the fog making seeing any further than 20 metres ahead impossible and our total lack of knowledge on where to walk, Mum and I ended up taking the longest route possible. We reached what we thought was the Seat, however it was actually the highest point. Not satisfied, we continued walking and reached a crossroads with absolutely no idea which one to take. There are no signs on this hill, at all!

Even heavy fog creates beauty
Even heavy fog creates beauty

We asked a fellow walker and he pointed us in the direction of the steepest route, typical! We hauled ourselves up the many stairs, pausing to catch out breath and look out into the thick fog for a possibility of seeing the city below us but no luck. We continued on until we reached the actual Arthurs Seat. I’m sure the view would have been fantastic, but we could only see grey, thick fog.

Yeww! Made it to Arthur's Seat, eventually!
Yeww! Made it to Arthur’s Seat, eventually!
Impressed with the view.. Not!
Impressed with the view.. Not!

Breathless, sweaty and tired, we headed back down the hill to find that we had taken the longest route possible, and could have been at the top within half and hour. Ahh well, the cardio was good for us!

St Anthonys Church on the way back down.
Ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel on the way back down.

We got back to our apartment and quickly showered and packed up in time for check out. Our first point of call was our course, coffee, as well a dirty big cream cake for Mumma Bear as a reward for climbing the mountain 😛 After coffee, we walked up the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle where we handed over our 18£ to walk through the old castle.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
I had to.. I just had to.
I had to.. I just had to.

Edinburgh Castle has believed to be on Castle Rock since the reign of David I in the 12th century. It was used as a royal residence until the 15th century when it was used at military barracks. The castle has had a pretty rough life, but today it serves mainly as a tourist attraction and the home to the famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo. We spent over an hour walking through the castle, learning about the history and marvelling at how intact it was. We were treated to a hilarious history lesson in the Great Hall by a Scot in a kilt, who threatened to reveal the truth behind the ‘what do they wear under the kilt’ mystery!

Learning Scottish history in the Great Hall
Learning Scottish history in the Great Hall
The Lang Stairs at Edinburgh Castle
The Lang Stairs at Edinburgh Castle

As usual, time was escaping us and we had places to be. We headed back to the car and navigated our way out of the city centre, not before launching ourselves onto a tram line and bus and taxi only zone! Getting out of Edinburgh didn’t take long and before we knew it, we were back to zooming past green paddocks and cute little towns.

Scenes on the Royal Mile
Scenes on the Royal Mile
Edinburgh
Edinburgh

Our next stop for the night is Anstruther, a small fishing village before climbing up to the top of Scotland towards Aberdeen! J. x

The Lake District

After the fun from riding the heavy horses we buzzed rather quickly through the Lake District towards Keswick. Stopping every so often because the view was so damn pretty that we had to take some photos, we made it to Keswick just as the sun was starting to sink below the horizon. Tonight’s accommodation was in a little B&B called Blue Stone Cottage, just off the town centre of Keswick.

The beautiful countryside we were driving through
The beautiful countryside we were driving through

Keswick is the main tourist hub for the Lake District and despite it being the end of peak season, the little town was absolutely poppin’! Hiking and camping is a popular activity in the Lake District so it wasn’t unusual to see people walking around with big hiking sticks and heavy backpacks. We had dinner at the Bank Tavern where all three of us ordered pies. We got a lamb and mint pie, chicken and mushroom pie and a steak and ale pie. All three were delicious though I think the lamb and mint one was the winner. Afterwards we had a cuppa at a small Italian restaurant and played cards until tiredness settled over us and we retreated back to Blue Stones for a much needed sleep.

A bit more English countryside :p
A bit more English countryside :p

The following morning we packed up early, had a quick brekkie and headed down to Derwentwater for a boat ride and a stroll. The lake is absolutely stunning, surrounded by huge mountains and a layer of early morning mist still settled above the water. It was a crisp morning but warm in the sun. Overall, a really, really pleasant day in England! The boat ride took about 15 minutes and we sliced through the glassy water, passing a group of school children and their brave teachers paddling out on canoes.

Canoeing on the lake is a popular activity..
Canoeing on the lake is a popular activity..

We reached our starting point, Lodore headed over to the waterfalls for a squiz. I know I keep going on and on about how green this country is, but I still cant fathom how there can be that much damn chlorophyll in one part of the world! Anyway, the waterfalls were exceptionally green and pretty. I kind of expected some forest fairies to come flying out and sprinkle fairy dust everywhere. We continued around the lake, which was absolutely picturesque.

Waiting for the boat to take us around
Waiting for the boat to take us around

The water was still and the mountains reflected in the glass-like water. It was a photographers dream. The walk took about an hour and we arrived at the pick-up point just in time for the wooden boat to pick us up.

The picturesque Derwentwater
The picturesque Derwentwater

I can definitely see why the Lake District is such a popular destination is so popular with nature buffs and outdoorsy types. The air is so fresh and clean, you feel alive and energised. The last time I’ve really felt like this was in Switzerland, in Lauterbrunnen. It’s that mountain air, beats a hazy city anyday.

DCIM105GOPRO

After our stroll we had coffee and cake at Laura in the Lakes and jumped back in the car headed for Scotland! First stop, Edinburgh!

 

J. x

Cumbrian Heavy Horses

Today’s events are why I love travelling 🙂

Mum, Dad and I had left Starbotton in the direction of the beautiful Lake District. All we had was accommodation for the night booked in Keswick, about a two-hour drive away. The rest of the day was up to us to fill. We had stopped in the town of Kendal for a look around and a much needed coffee. Kendal didn’t look like much of a town as we drove in, but once we got out of the car and had a wander around, it turned out to be a great little town.

We had coffee at The Famous 1657 Chocolate House that made the most wicked chocolate cake I’ve tasted. It was an adorable two-story building on a serious slant and with a very low roof. I felt a bit like Alice in Wonderland after she drinks the potion and grew to a giant! We were perusing through local magazines as we sipped our coffee and came across an ad for Cumbrian Heavy Horses – the only company in the world that offers rides on heavy horses, such as Clydesdales and Shire Horses. The three of us, having horse withdrawals called them immediately and booked in for an afternoon ride. We chugged down the rest of our coffee and practically ran to the car, we had plans for the day!

Cumbrian Heavy Horses
Cumbrian Heavy Horses

It was about an hours drive to the farm and took us through more incredible countryside. The grass is that green that it hurts your eyes. As we neared the farm we could just see the Irish Sea in the distance past the paddocks. The Cumbrian Heavy Horse Farm was your typical English farm, a huge stone house, big green paddocks and blackberries spilling over the fences. They had about twenty horses, all beautiful big draught horses which I instantly fell in love with.

Lifes tough at Cumbrian
Lifes tough at Cumbrian
You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours?
You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours?

We had a briefing with Johnny our riding leader and assigned our horses. I am probably a bit biased here but I think I scored with the best horse, Zac. He was a giant 18.2hh black Shire horse with fluffy white, feathered legs and a big white blaze. His head was pretty much the length of my upper body and his hooves were the size of dinner plates. But he was very gentle and loved getting his ears rubbed. Mum was on a bay Clydie called Miri and Dad had a roan Shire horse called Otto.

Zac and me!
Zac and me!

We mounted (with the help of a very big mounting block!) and had a walk around to get used to the horses large, long strolling walk. As we were riding in little dressage saddles, I felt a bit wary compared to how I feel riding in my bigger stock saddles. Though as we rode on, I went back to my Pony Club Days and got used to the smaller saddles.

DCIM105GOPRO

We rode out through the paddocks, trotting and cantering in places but mostly enjoying this unique way to see the countryside. Zac had this lovely loping canter that felt like a rocking chair and even though my butt ached from not riding for over a year, I didn’t want to get off him!

Dad, Mum and I. Not quite the Australian Stock Horses we have at home, but just as fun!
Dad, Mum and I. Not quite the Australian Stock Horses we have at home, but just as fun!

The ride went far too quickly, even though we went for over two hours. Once we reached the stables again, we gave our new giant friends one last cuddle and pat, thanked the owners and headed off towards the Lake District.

The Cumbrian Heavy Horse stables
The Cumbrian Heavy Horse stables

The whole day was such a fun and different experience. It’s always the spontaneous decisions that turn out the best fun. I’m so glad we picked us the magazine in Kendal that led us to Cumbrian Heavy Horses. It’s an experience that I won’t ever forgot! Even if I have a sore butt for the next few days!

Didn't want to leave this guy behind :( He was such a honey!
Didn’t want to leave this guy behind 😦 He was such a honey!

 

J. x

Birthdays, countryside and one really big pie.

This morning was a bit of a special one – my birthday! I turned the big 23, however I like to think of it as 21 + 2 years :p I actually wasn’t too fussed about my birthday, it just felt like another day. I guess that means I’m getting old! After a quick brekkie and Skype with my sister back home we checked out of the Farmyard Inn and drove onto Bakewell for a quick poke around the local markets. The small township was jam-packed full of people checking out the goods for sale. Because we needed a birthday cake (and caffeine), we dropped into the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop for a slice of their famous Bakewell tart and a coffee. If you ever happen to be in Bakewell, definitely get your mouth around one of these bad boys. The caramelly, cakey goodness is absolutely lekker! Definitely was a good choice for a birthday cake!

Happy birthday to me! Dad and I devouring the delicious Bakewell Tart
Happy birthday to me! Dad and I devouring the delicious Bakewell Tart

We continued onto towards our next perch for the night, Starbotton. Mum is a genius at finding cute little B&B’s in cute little towns and this one didn’t disappoint. The drive there was another bendy one with miles and miles of lush green paddocks and rock fences. The English countryside sure is growing on me!

This.
This.

 

..and this.

 

..and this.

Starbotton is a small blink-and-you’ll-miss-it type of town in the Yorkshire Dales but the stony houses, manicured gardens and random red telephone boxes made it memorable. We were staying at a place called the Sweet Briar B&B for the night, which was run by an youngish English man. We were literally staying in his house, but had a totally private section of the house.

Developing a bit of an obsession with these telephone boxes!
Developing a bit of an obsession with these telephone boxes!

There were all these painted yellow bikes hanging off buildings and on top of roofs. We couldn’t work out why there were so many, sure the roads in the Yorkshire Dales were reasonably bike friendly, but these people must be more bike obsessed than the Dutch. It wasn’t until we commented on the amount of bikes that we discovered Le Tour De France had been held in this very place just two months earlier! Apparently the race holds a stage or two in a different country and this year it was England! Well, the yellow bikes suddenly made sense!

Some of the locals recommended heading to the next town for dinner so we drove the 2 minutes down the road to Kettlewell to the adorable Blue Bell Inn. Dad was starting a trend of ordering a pie in every town so he went for the steak and ale pie. Mum and I went for steaks, though when Dad’s pie came out, we abandoned our steaks and helped him devour his. This was no problem because the pie was the size of the entire dinner plate and the best pie I’ve ever tasted! We rolled back down to Starbotton and passed out in another food coma. English pub food is ridiculous; I don’t know how much longer I can indulge in such goodness!

Yellow bike and giant pies. Welcome to Blue Bell Inn!
Yellow bike and giant pies. Welcome to Blue Bell Inn!
Just a steak and ale pie they said, you don't need to share they said..
Just a steak and ale pie they said, you don’t need to share they said..

Our next stop on our very rough itinerary is the Lake District. I’ve heard lots about the area and am keen to see what all the fuss is about!

J. x

Youlegreave and the Suffolk Horse Spectacular!

Driving through the English countryside is just a party for the eyes. Especially being a country girl, the huge green paddocks, the flocks of sheep and the quiet roads tend to bring on a sense of home. It was a particular windy drive through Derbyshire and the Peak District, I felt a bit ill as Dad buzzed around the tight corners pretending he was a Formula 1 driver. On the plus side, Britain is quite a small country, so we didn’t drive anymore than 3 hours at a time.

Beautiful English countryside.
Beautiful English countryside.

Before reaching our destination for the day, we had to stop by the Suffolk Horse Spectacular and County Fair in Kentford, Newmarket. We had spotted an ad for it in the local paper and being total horsey nutheads, we couldn’t miss it. We reached Kentford and found the fair grounds rather easily. A county fair is similar to what we would call a show back in Australia, with horse events, demonstrations and delicious food stalls! Due to our limited time frame we stopped in for lunch and watched the beautiful Suffolk Horses parade around with their shiny chesnut coats and beautifully braided manes.

The Suffolk Horse Spectacular!
The Suffolk Horse Spectacular!

It certainly was different to what we were used to, but it was great to watch. The care and detail these people poured into these heavy horses was incredible, it made me miss my ponies at home! Unfortunately we had to keep moving to reach our next stop for the night.

Just like the olden days..
Just like the olden days..

We pulled into Youlegreave at around 5:30pm, just in time to enjoy a drink in the outdoor area of the pub we were staying at before the sun went below the horizon. Youlegreave is a cute little town (another cute little town!) in the middle of the Peak District. We were staying at the Farmyard Inn, in a room called the Stables. Though I think we would have been better to stay in the Pig Sty because of the mess we made once we unpacked our gear. We were starving by the time we got ourselves organised so dinner was first priority. The Farmyard Inn was the epitome of English pub fare with specials of the day including steak and ale pie, fish and chips and my jeans worse nightmare, chips drowned in gravy. Of course, using the excuse that this technically was our first proper English pub meal – because you can’t really count London – we went all out. A short awhile later, we decided that probably wasn’t the wisest decision because we were so full we couldn’t move. It was absolutely delicious though, deliciously bad. Deciding a walk might do us good, we had a jaunt around the town before it got really dark before heading back to our room to conk out in a food coma.

Dad thoroughly enjoying his pub dinner!
Dad thoroughly enjoying his pub dinner!

Tomorrow is my birthday!! We’re off to the Yorkshire Dales to see more lovely countryside and visit some markets.

Stay tuned!

J. x