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The capital is full of amazing places to eat. From Asian fusion to artisan Pizza, cuisines from around the world are usually just a Tube stop away. Our girl Jenna has always loved London, especially it’s unique gastronomical side. So when an invite came in to discover all there is to eat at One Tower Bridge, we stuck her on the first train to Kings Cross…

“To me, walking across Tower Bridge never gets old, especially at night. With the bustling crowds and lights of the city, you’d be forgiven for forgetting to look down. But if you just take a peek over the bridge and look for the iconic green umbrellas of The Ivy, you’ll stumble upon one of the best hidden gems in the London foodie scene. One Tower Bridge is London’s most exciting dining destination, where you can experience the ultimate in the riverside dining and culture beside some of the capital’s most famous landmarks.

By Night

One Tower Bridge currently offers 8 options of dining, with views of the picturesque Tower Bridge. Deciding to partake in a true taster experience of three of the most renowned venues, we kicked things off with cocktails and starters at The Coal Shed. Placed just a stones-throw from Tower Bridge and spanning over two floors, diners in the main restaurant are able to watch the chefs at work in the open kitchen in its relaxed, contemporary take on old-world glamour.

Sitting down at a low-lit table, we took a glance at their a la carte and pre-theatre menus and ordered a round of cocktails. The Bridge Theatre is one of the most contemporary theatres to be built in London and the largest commercial theatre to be built outside the West End for over 80 years, so The Coal Shed’s pre-theatre menu must be a huge hit. Opting for Devilled Devon Crab on Toast and Chargrilled Octopus, we sipped on a Clear Royale cocktail (an Elderflower take on the classic Kir Royale) and took in the atmosphere. Born in Devon myself, I have an absolute infatuation with seafood and these dishes definitely didn’t disappoint. Crab Rarebit is something I’d never had before, but it was totally indulgent.

Reluctantly leaving the warm welcome of The Coal Shed, we made our way to a real star of the show, Tom Simmons Tower Bridge. Award winning Welsh Chef and MasterChef finalist Tom Simmons showcases his relaxed and elegant cooking style in his first London venture; Tom Simmons. Tom is at the forefront of the kitchen providing superb dishes from thoughtfully sourced ingredients, so it would have been rude of us not to go for one of his daily specials.

Enjoying a glass of Champagne, I delved into one of the best Rabbit dishes i’d ever tasted. It’s full ingredients escape me, but it’s rich flavour is permanently etched onto my taste buds! This, paired with their signature crispy potatoes (which are basically deep fried Dauphinois – delish) was the perfect way to satisfy my appetite.

After a whole host of indulgent Seafood and delicious meat, it was time to get some brownie points from Mother Nature. Popular US vegan eatery, by CHLOE., has taken prime position at the foot of Tower Bridge for its second UK opening. by CHLOE. – a US export – has successfully created a brand that meets the need in London for delicious, wholesome and affordable plant-based food; serving up breakfast through to dinner and late night munchies. The way I would describe this place is like The Mighty Boosh meets a teenage girls bedroom – it’s WACKY. From the high end interiors of The Coal Shed to the Michelin-style dining at Tom Simmons, this was a little bit of a culture shock. But after a fair few cocktails, totally entertaining!

With swinging chairs, a puppy, CBD brownies and cookie sandwiches – it was a Hippy’s dream. But not really the indulgent dessert place I was looking for. It’s kinda like a Five Guys for Vegans – and we were definitely overdressed. Something I didn’t think possible in this postcode! However, it made for some excellent boomerangs, and the sugar propelled us wayyyy into the night.

The Morning After

After a crazy night at Cirque Le Soir and a beautiful stay at the Sunborn Yacht Hotel, we just had to check out The Ivy for their renowned Brunch. Standing strong adjacent from Tower Bridge, The Ivy Tower Bridge serves modern British classics from dawn until dusk, as well as offering a spectacular al-fresco experience for those wanting to soak in the river breeze and stunning back drop of Tower Bridge.

We fancied the classic up-market vibes of the main brasserie, so took our seats for probably the UK’s most indulgent hangover cure. Ordering fresh juices and probably the best Bloody Mary i’ve ever had – we gazed over their extensive menu. For me, protein is always required after a night London clubbing and copious amounts of Cristal, so the Truffled Orzo Pasta was top of my list. This, accompanied by the Crispy Duck salad was completely satisfying and lead us directly to our mains.

As a Northern girl, I do occasionally crave gravy at the weekends! This, with a need for protein, lead me to the Steak sandwich “French dip”. This sandwich is an indulgent take on the classic Steak Sandwich, with roast beef, caramelised onions, horseradish mayonnaise, Burgundy sauce dip (the gravy!) and thick cut chips. It was exactly what I needed, and I can almost taste it now as I type! My party partner went for the HLT open sandwich which was a medley of Grilled halloumi, avocado, black olives, red pepper, tomato, baby gem and herb mayonnaise.

One Tower Bridge officially took us from dusk til’ dawn and should be top of any hit-list for a London weekend away. Whether you’re looking for sophisticated dining, have a dire case of the munchies or want to boozy brunch until the afternoon…One Tower Bridge has your back. With five other options to choose from including London’s first ever bar dedicated to prosecco, Prosecco House, as well as Rosa’s Thai Café and Gunpowder which opened in August – we’ll definitley be back!”________________________________________________________________________________________________________

One Tower Bridge, Tower Bridge Road, Tower Bridge, London SE1 2AA

https://www.lifebyonetowerbridge.london

Exciting new restaurants launching throughout 2018 include Custard , Vapiano and Temakinko. Read more about Jenna’s weekend in the big smoke in December’s Volume 14: The Islands Issue.

Our pups are a main part of the family, and if you’re taking a camping trip outdoors, it begs the question as to whether you should take them with you. Join Flogas, a supplier of camping gas bottles, as they look into how popular dog-friendly campsites are across the UK and if you should indeed take your four-legged friend camping or look into alternative options instead…

The number of dog friendly campsites

There are plenty of campsites that will welcome your dog with open arms. In fact, Cool Camping lists 787 dog-friendly campsites on its website — Campsites.co.uk expands on this number further by listing 981 such locations.

Some popular locations to take your pooch include:

Campsite #1: Dunstan Hill Camping & Caravanning Club Site

There’s plenty of things that make this campsite worth a visit. After all, the area plays host to breathtaking views and is frequently visited by an abundance of friendly wildlife. There’s also a selection of hardstand and grass pitches available, so it’s up to you how you’d like to set up camp.

There’s so much to see around the surroundings of the campsite too. Take the time to seek out Dunstanburgh Castle — which has the glorious Embleton Bay as its backdrop — as well as the imposing Bamburgh Castle and Alnwick Castle, the latter of which Harry Potter film fans will surely recognise as it was used to represent Hogwarts School in the movie franchise.

Open: March 29th to November 5th for 2018.

Address: Dunstan Hill Camping & Caravanning Club Site, Alnwick, Northumberland, NE66 3TQ.

Contact: 01665 576310

Size: 150 pitches

Further information: https://www.campingandcaravanningclub.co.uk/campsites/uk/northumberland/alnwick/dunstanhill

Campsite #2: Secret Valley

Glamping is a relatively new concept for camping holidays — glamour meets the outdoors. Located within the Quantock Hills of Somerset, all the accommodation options at the campsite are home to their very own fire pits — barbecuing or stargazing long into the night will never have felt so pleasant!

Just outside of your campsite and by following a walking trail, you’ll come across spectacular views of an organic farm. You can even see Wales on clear days!

Open: From the week before Easter until the end of October

Address: Secret Valley, Cobbs Cross Farm, Goathurst, Bridgwater, Somerset, TA5 2DN

Contact: 01278 671 945

Size: Space for the following accommodation: 1 Big Yurt, 1 Tipi, 2 Shepherds Huts, 3 Lodges, 3 Lotus Belle Tents 3 Yurts, 8 Big Chief Wigwams, 11 Small Wee Brave Wigwams

Further information: https://www.secret-valley.co.uk/

Campsite #3: The Sunnyfield

There are multiple options when visiting Sunnyfield — from tents to caravans (with a gas cylinder) and even glamping options. Furthermore, each pitch is not only spacious but come complete with their own campfire pits. You’ll also find hot showers uniquely designed inside horse boxes around the campsite, as well as a horsebox coffee shop, a straw bale breakfast café and a wood-fired pizza oven.

If you want to escape from the campsite, the city of Canterbury is only a 15-minute drive and there are plenty of beaches to enjoy. If you want to venture further, remember Dymchurch and Sandgate is only an additional 15 minutes.

Open: For 2018, between May 26th and September 3rd but on weekends only.

Address: Maxted Street, Nr Stelling Minnis, Canterbury, Kent CT4 6DJ

Contact: 01233 750024

Size: 6 pitches available across 8 acres of grassy space.

Further information: https://www.thesunnyfield.co.uk/

Advice

You should have an idea of where you will take your family by now. The next thing you will want to consider is what to pack and, indeed, whether it will be wise to take your dog with you to a campsite or if it will be better arrange for them to be looked after at home by someone you know or checked into your nearby kennel.

Is your dog healthy?

If your dog is used to being indoors, a camping trip might be a shock to the system — they must be fit and healthy. Therefore, give them a trial run to ensure they are fit by taking them for a long walk around a local park or through a forest if you have one near where you live. Both experiences will also give your pooch an added opportunity to get used to the sights, sounds and smells of nature — aspects that they will need to get used to when camping.

Are there vaccinations up-to-date? Have they been wormed recently? If you have answered no to either question, you’ll want to get your dog booked into the vets prior to a camping holiday.

What you must take for your dog:

  • Their favourite toys — these will be perfect for keeping them entertained during car journeys, as well as reducing the risk of them picking up dangerous and hazardous items when walking around a campsite.
  • A collar that includes a tag with their name, address and a mobile phone number for their owner — you don’t want to think about your pet getting lost from you while camping, but it’s best to be prepared should they wander away.
  • Their bed — dog beds are often small enough to fit into a car, and they will also give your pooch so much comfort once they are at a campsite.
  • Towels — you want at least two sets of towels for your dog; one for if they need a wash and another to keep them clean after they have been walking outdoors.
  • Their lead — take note here that UK rights of access guidelines state that you must use a fixed lead measuring no more than two metres long between March 1st and July 31st (the period known as the ground-nesting bird season across the nation), as well as whenever they are near livestock.
  • Dog poop bags — something you won’t want to forget if you want to reduce the risk of getting slapped with a maximum fine of £1,000 if you don’t clean up after your dog.

Here at #TeamCoco, we are always on the hunt for the best art exhibitions in the UK’s capital. This spring, there are almost too many to choose from but we’ve rounded up the five that you can’t miss. Check them out!

Tate Britain presents a comprehensive retrospective of the legendary British photographer Don McCullin

This poignant exhibition showcases some of the most impactful photographs captured over the last 60 years. It includes many of his iconic war photographs – including images from Vietnam, Northern Ireland and more recently Syria. It also however focuses on the work he did at home in England, recording scenes of poverty and working class life in London’s East End and the industrial north, as well as meditative landscapes of his beloved Somerset, where he lives.​ Sir Don McCullin was born in 1935 and grew up in a deprived area of north London. He got his first break when a newspaper published his photograph of friends who were in a local gang. From the 1960s he forged a career as probably the UK’s foremost war photographer, primarily working for the Sunday Times Magazine. His unforgettable and sometimes harrowing images are accompanied in the show with his brutally honest commentaries.

With over 250 photographs, all printed by McCullin himself in his own darkroom, this exhibition will be a unique opportunity to appreciate the scope and achievements of his entire career.

5 February – 6 May 2019

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtgMqPjlYs_/

White Cube Bermondsey presents ‘A Fortnight of Tears’ by Tracey Emin.

Installed throughout the gallery’s spaces, this major exhibition includes sculpture, neon, painting, film, photography and drawing, all focusing on the artist’s own memories and emotions arising from loss, pathos, anger and love. On entering South Gallery I, the viewer is confronted by fifty double-hung self-portraits from an on-going series taken at different moments and states during the artist’s periods of insomnia. These unsettling and intimate close-ups, blown up in size and overwhelming in number, capture the habitual torment and desperation of these lonely wakeful hours.

6 February 2019 – 7 April 2019

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bt0bOn3gxAv/

Tate Modern presents The CC Land exhibition – Pierre Bonnard and the Colour of Memory

This is the first major exhibition of Pierre Bonnard’s work in the UK since the much-loved show at Tate 20 years ago. It will allow new generations to discover Bonnard’s unconventional use of colour, while surprising those who think they already know him.

Born 1867, Bonnard was, with Henri Matisse, one of the greatest colourists of the early 20th century. He preferred to work from memory, imaginatively capturing the spirit of a moment and expressing it through his unique handling of colour and innovative sense of composition.

The exhibition concentrates on Bonnard’s work from 1912, when colour became a dominant concern, until his death in 1947. It presents landscapes and intimate domestic scenes which capture moments in time – where someone has just left the room, a meal has just finished, a moment lost in the view from the window, or a stolen look at a partner.

Now until 6 May 2019

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtmN9FbFUsW/

The Serpentine presents Grace Wales Bonner: A Time for New Dreams

The exhibition features an assemblage of site-specific installations and shrines. Interested in the improvisations and uses of shrines throughout black histories, Wales Bonner views these spiritual structures as material portals into multiple frames of experience. Drawing upon the images and rhythms of rituals and ceremonies from all over the world, she moves across time and space by bringing these references into dialogue with one another.

This exhibition focuses on Wales Bonner’s rigorous research into multiple geographies and temporalities, culminating in the presentation of her forthcoming Autumn/Winter 2019 collection, Mumbo Jumbo. Conjuring and exploring various characters, their dress, and the worlds and spaces they inhabit, the collection features certain protagonists, such as the artist-shaman, a West African spiritual healer, and a gathering of Howard University intellectuals. At its close, the exhibition becomes an environment for the characters to inhabit.

A live programme includes composer, playwright and artist Klein, who performed a reading in the Gallery, Poet and DJ James Massiah who will present an evening of readings inside the exhibition, and performance artist Michael-John Harper, whose ritual of movements will activate the Gallery at intervals during the final days of the exhibition. New texts and invocations by Ben Okri are woven through the Gallery spaces.

Now until 17 March 2019

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bt1JcjAAzKb/

The Barbican presents Daria Martin – Tonight the World

Artist and Jarman Award 2018 winner Daria Martin revisits dreams and memories from her personal family history to create a complex portrait of migration, loss and resilience.

Drawing upon dream diaries kept by her grandmother over a 35 year period, London-based artist Daria Martin creates a new installation for The Curve. Through atmospheric film and gaming technology Martin stages a series of intimate encounters, enveloping viewers in an exploration of the curious and traumatic history of her grandmother, who fled the imminent Nazi occupation of her country, Czechoslovakia.

Now until 7 April 2019 (free entry)

https://www.instagram.com/p/BtdtiBFBYBA/

Cover picture © Pierre Bonard – Tate Modern

A sprawling Georgian mansion, thirty acres of land, delicious Welsh food…Nanteos Mansion is the absolute perfect treat for your Mum and her dog. So those are the two special people #Teamcoco writer, Rachael Lindsay, took with her on a special overnight stay.

We take a long, windy drive through the Nanteos estate to get to the stunning Nanteos manor house, located in Ceredigion near Aberystwyth, Wales. After a fair journey, we are keen to give our #Teamcocopup for the next few days, Ralph, a stretch of his legs. Luckily we are in the heart of woodland and parkland. This is dog-walking heaven and we make the most of it, discovering a labyrinth, a pet graveyard and even a collection of garden bee hives along the way.

After Ralph has checked out the estate, it is time for us to check in. We have a gorgeous dog-friendly suite overlooking the grounds. Each room is individually designed so you can take your pick – if you really want to treat yourself, go for the Nightingale honeymoon suite, complete with corner bath and hand-stencilled walls. A lovely touch is the doggy treats left for Ralph which he rudely devours without even a thank you.

Leaving Ralph to enjoy his treats, my Mum and I feel like we are guests at the Titanic, making our way down the huge central staircase to the bar area. We sup Prosecco before enjoying a three-course meal of Welsh delights. The focus here is locally-sourced and -inspired dishes, and I have a vegan menu of charred leeks, chickpea curry and vegan cherry chocolate brownie. Special touches like a salmon or tofu miso as an amuse-bouche and the homemade sourdough bread with marmite butter add to the wow factor.

Breakfast, served in the Buttery, is an old-fashioned affair with high ceilings, copper pans and iron stoves. The buffet brims with fruit juices, cereals and breads and a hot food menu includes a full Welsh with lava bread and bacon as well as the usual brunch favourites.

Ralph isn’t satisfied without a wander through the house itself (well-behaved dogs are allowed in all rooms except those where food is served). We casually stumble across the Music room, with chandeliers and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the Welsh hills, and ridiculously ornate ceilings and walls. The period features everywhere are pretty astonishing and perhaps unsurprising for such a historic building. The flooring dates back to the 11th century (!) and the Mansion has been owned by the aristocratic Powell family for most of its existence. Information on the second floor provides a fascinating potted history which also involves the Nanteos Cup, a candidate for the Holy Grail!

Mythology, grand architecture, great food and acres of land for pups to explore…Nanteos Mansion is the perfect Welsh break for me, Ralph and Mum. Highly recommended to anyone with an interest in history and nature, and at excellent value for the luxury on offer, from £139 B&B per room per night.

For more information, visit nanteos.com.

With sunny weather just around the corner, you’ve probably got most of your holiday plans worked out by now – but if you haven’t, don’t worry. Last-minute trips can be even more fun than those you’ve been planning for months but don’t get left behind due to passport issues. If you still need to apply for your first adult passport, then the best advice is to do it as soon as possible, as it could take longer than the standard three weeks. When applying for your first passport as an adult in the UK, you may be called for an interview so that the Passport Service can verify your identity before providing you with this document, which should arrive in the post sometime after. So, what should you expect from your first adult passport application, and what can you do to make sure it all runs smoothly?

#1. Apply Early:

If you’ve already got a holiday planned, then you need to get your application sent off as quickly as possible, as it’s likely to take longer than three weeks for your first time. In addition to the possibility of being asked to come in for an interview, you will also likely need to get somebody to counter-sign your passport photograph. This will need to be a person who is not related to you, has known you for a certain period of time, and works in a profession that is on an approved list. In some cases, finding such a person can be tricky, so make sure that you give yourself plenty of time to complete the full application.

#2. Get the Photos Right:

There’s nothing more frustrating than having your passport application delayed because the photographs that you have sent in aren’t suitable. If you’re using a photo booth to take your passport photographs then it’s a good idea to choose one which has instructions printed inside for taking correct passport photos – you will usually find one at your local Post Office. Another idea is to have a photographer skilled in taking passport photos take your picture; this will cost you more but provide you with further peace of mind when it comes to ensuring that your application is approved.

#3. Consider Using Check and Send:

Applying online for your passport is easier than ever, but if you want to make sure that you get everything right and your application runs smoothly, you might want to consider paying the additional £9.75 to take advantage of the Post Office’s Check and Send service. You can pick up an application form at your local Post Office branch and once it’s completed, bring it back in where the trained staff will look over everything from forms to photographs to ensure that it all meets HM Passport Office standards and is ready to go. This way, you can be made aware of any potential issues on your passport application that may slow it down so you can fix them straight away. Bear in mind that if you are applying for your first adult passport then you will not be eligible to use the digital Check and Send service and will need to fill out the paper form.

#4. Gather any Supporting Documents:

In order to get your first adult passport as quickly as possible, you will need to provide the Passport Office with supporting documents that help verify your identity. Usually, this will be your birth certificate, although you may be asked for other forms of identification such as your UK driving licence, if you have one. If you do not have access to your birth certificate, it’s a good idea to prioritise applying for a new one before you send off your passport application. You can obtain a copy of your birth certificate in England and Wales by contacting the registry office where the birth registration took place, either by post or in person. You may also be able to order a copy of your birth certificate on the Gov. UK website.

#5. Preparing for an Interview:

In some cases, applicants who are getting their first adult passport will be called in for an interview with the HM Passport Office. This is nothing to worry about; it’s standard procedure for verifying identity and will not last very long. During the interview, you will be asked questions about your personal life that only you yourself would be able to answer correctly. Some examples of questions that you will be asked include your full name and address, the names of anybody else who is on the electoral roll at your address, the dates of birth of certain family members, who you hold your bank account with and how long you have held it, who your countersignature is and where they work, how long you have lived at your current address and where you lived previously, and the date of your parent’s marriage. Don’t worry if you are unable to answer these questions as you genuinely do not know; for example, if you’re estranged from your parents and don’t know something about them, you can simply explain your situation to the interviewer and they will move on to the next question. As long as you get the majority of questions right and can prove your identity you will be fine.

#6. Fast-Track Passport Applications:

In some circumstances, you may be able to get your passport quicker than usual. However, bear in mind that this fast-track passport service is more commonly used for renewals and first-child passports rather than first adult passports, so you should not rely on it to get your passport on time. There are several fast-track and urgent passport options available that you can take advantage of if you need a passport quickly. You can use the one-week service to get your passport sent to your home within seven days excluding bank holidays or the one-day premium service to have your passport on the same day, as long as you have all the necessary application paperwork, photographs, countersignatures, and other supporting documentation available. There are several locations nationally that has passport offices available. You will need to book an appointment at a Passport Customer Service Centre. If you are up north an option is the Liverpool Passport Office or even the Durham office. You will pay an additional fee that is non-refundable if you cancel or do not attend your appointment. You can find more information on the passport office Liverpool and other Passport Customer Service Centres near you by visiting Passports-Office.co.uk, along with further information on what to do if your passport is lost, stolen or expired and you need one urgently.

#7. Once Your Passport Arrives:

Congratulations – you have successfully completed your application and are the proud owner of a UK passport. Once your passport arrives in the post, you should first sign it – bear in mind that your passport is not valid without your signature. Don’t forget to check your passport to make sure that everything is correct including your name and how it is spelled, your date and place of birth, your nationality, and the start and expiry dates of the passport itself. If any of this information is incorrect you will need to get in touch with the Passport Office as soon as possible to let them know.

Did you find this information helpful? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

If I say camping in the Australian wilderness you’d be forgiven for being a little skeptical. From unfriendly wildlife to just plain uncomfortable temperatures, the Australian outback is not for the faint of heart. That is unless you’re safely tucked away in a 5 star luxury camping experience that combines all of the most beautiful elements of Australia’s rugged outdoors with all of the creature comforts, but none of the uncomfortable creatures.

Australia as a whole is a fairly undeveloped country with plenty of wide open spaces, abundant in natural beauty and local culture. And whilst those of us who call this lucky country home tend to flock to the coastal regions, there’s a lot to be said for hitting the road and heading out into the red heart of Australia. Those that do venture out there are rewarded with an experience of Australia unlike any other they’ve had before.

No matter what corner of this wide land you’re keen to visit, there’s sure to be a luxury camping experience nearby for you to soak in all the natural beauty around you. Here I’ve used my local advantage and put in the leg work, to find the very best (in my opinion) we have to offer, so that all you have to do is make the booking.

Queensland

Queensland. The sun soaked east coast king of Australia. In my unbiased opinion of course. Whilst our fine capital city Brisbane doesn’t really provide a lot of competition for big city Sydney, or cool, artsy Melbourne, Queensland does boast possibly the finest, and most predictable, weather in the country and a ‘beautiful one day, perfect the next’ claim to fame that really can’t be denied.

Nightfall Camp; Lamington National Park

Located about 2 hours drive from Brisbane, Nightfall Camp is located within the World Heritage Listed rainforest region of Lamington National Park, in landscape shaped by lava flows from over 24 million years ago and dense forestation that hides an array of local flora and fauna unlike those found anywhere else in the world. The camp site is completely solar powered and sustainably run, blending the history, geology and indigenous culture of the area into a truly unforgettable experience.

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Daintree EcoLodge

Located in another World Heritage Listed jewel in Mother Nature’s crown is the Daintree EcoLodge, about an hour and a half drive from Cairns in tropical far north Queensland. Believed to be over 135 million years old, the Daintree Rainforest is the oldest tropical lowland rainforest in the world, and can be admired here from one of 15 unique canopy treehouses. High above one of the oldest landscapes in the world makes the Daintree EcoLodge one of the most beautiful places to disconnect, relax and recharge whilst soaking in the natural beauty of a land as close to before time as you can get.

The Northern Territory

The beating red heart of Australia; the Northern Territory is a frontier not even many native Aussies have crossed. Whilst the lack of white sandy beaches and the desert climate might seem a little off putting, its definitely worth braving the heat for a genuine outback Australian experience that not many can boast about having.

Longitude 131

In the shadow of the iconic and Australia’s most recognisable natural formation, Uluru rock, Longitude 131 sits in the desert heartland of Australia’s Red Centre, surrounded by the immense beauty of a landscape untouched since the dawn of time. The lodge rests upon the iconic red dunes of the Australian outback and is one of the best places to get in touch with the oldest continuous culture in the world. It’s believed that the sight of Uluru will have a profound impact on your spiritual wellbeing, but don’t take my word for it, get out there and experience it for yourself.

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Banubanu Beach Retreat

A little bit less accessible than the rest on this list (as all good destinations are) Banubanu Beach Retreat is located on Bremer Island off the coast of East Arnhem Land and can be accessed by a 15 minute flight leaving Gove Airport. The retreat is located on the traditional land of the Yolgnu people and is used with their permission; introducing travellers to truly sustainable, eco friendly living, in one of the most untouched corners of the world. With beautiful beaches, pristine sunsets and a secluded location, Banubanu is the perfect place to unwind and reconnect with nature.

Western Australia

The biggest state in Australia, WA has the most backyard to play around in, and what a backyard it is. And whilst the east coast of Australia is beautiful, the west coast is something truly unique. Think rust red soil, turquoise waters and kangaroo infested beaches; all primed and ready for your Instagram feed.

Sal Salis Ningaloo Reef

Located on Australia’s other great reef, Ningaloo, Sal Salis is a beach safari camp that seamlessly blends the rugged West Australian Outback with the pristine waters of the Indian Ocean. Nestled amongst the sand dunes of the Cape Range National Park, the retreat is completely sustainably managed, free from the distractions of the modern world, from televisions to wifi. It’s the perfect place to disconnect from the frenetic pace of our modern digital world, and still enjoy the view.

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Kooljaman at Cape Leveque

100% indigenous owned; the team at at Kooljaman have designed an off the grid retreat unlike any other in the world. Focusing exclusively on Aboriginal values of land and sea care; the retreat has been designed using the locals extensive knowledge of the land and as such, Kooljaman is one of the best luxury camping destinations for immersing yourself fully in the indigenous culture of Australia. Surrounded by beautiful landscapes and vibrant and unique wildlife, Kooljaman makes for a truly unforgettable experience.

South Australia

Known for world class vineyards, great festivals and sporting events, and a town where people live under the ground, South Australia is a powerhouse destination in Australia if you love beautiful scenery, friendly locals and snobby accents. (Just kidding SA).

Ikara Safari Camp

Located about 4 hours drive from the South Australian capital, Adelaide, in the Wilpena Pound Resort, the Ikara Safari Camp calls the Ikara Flinders Ranges National Park home. Made up of jagged red mountains and ancient gorges, the Flinders Ranges are a significant spiritual place for the local indigenous communities, due to its proliferation of ancient rock art and the natural giant amphitheatre; Wilpena Pound, where Ikara Safari Camp is located. Safely tucked away in one of the most luxurious tents around, there is nothing standing in the way of you fully connecting with your unique and beautiful surrounds.

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Victoria

With such a powerhouse and vibrant capital city like Melbourne, you’d be forgiven for eschewing the rest of small state of Victoria in favour of Melbourne’s bustling dining, arts and culture scenes. Forgiven yes, but wise no. Victoria is home to some of Australia’s premier wine regions, beautiful panoramic vistas and some of the best coffee in the country.

Cosy Tents

Located around an hour and half drive from Melbourne in the Macedon Ranges, Cosy Tents that seamlessly blends the relaxation and serenity of a night spent under the stars with the modern comforts of a hotel room. The location is the perfect place to explore the countless art galleries, vineyards and boutique stores that country Victoria has to offer, allowing you to step out of the hustle and bustle of Melbourne’s city centre and explore the great outdoors, in the most luxurious way you can.

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Balgownie Estate Winery Retreat and Vineyard

Located around 2 hours drive from Melbourne, the Balgownie Estate Winery Retreat is one of Australia’s premier wine regions. Here you’ll be set up with a luxe tent replete with split system air-conditioning and a view over sprawling hills and gorgeous vineyards before whiling away your evening sampling the beautiful wines and delicious food characteristic of this region of Australia.

New South Wales

When you’re talking Australia, its Sydney that comes to mind first. With its iconic Opera House and its Harbour Bridge, Sydney is kind of the real poster boy for Australia. But beyond the bustling big city, New South Wales offers a nature lovers paradise, from the World Heritage listed Blue Mountain region to white sand beaches reserved almost exclusively for postcards. It’s also Australia’s first official state, and as such as some of the most iconic historic architecture, quaint colonial towns and a rich and colourful history.

Paperbark Camp

Around 3 hours drive south of Sydney you’ll find Jervis Bay; in the shadow of the Booderee National Park, complete with secluded white sand beaches and calm and inviting bays. It is here you will find Paperbark Camp, a luxury camping experience that makes a ‘home among the gumtrees’ a particularly inviting idea. Inspired by African sundowners in the 90s, the team at Paperbark have worked hard to create a place that slows the pace of life; a place that captures the nostalgic feel of a time before iPhones and wifi, without sacrificing comfort or the modern essentials.

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Tasmania

The little dot on the exclamation point that is Australia, Tasmania is possibly one of the least visited parts of Australia. Despite lush forests and mountain scenes that would rival some parts of Europe, a severely underrated dining scene, and being home to the Australian Cadbury factory, Tasmania is not the first place that visitors to Australia tend to go. But I think it’s high time they start.

Bay of Fires Bush Retreat

Four hours north of capital Hobart; on the edge of the iconic Bay of Fires you’ll find the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat. Encouraging sandy feet, salty hair and warm log fires, the team at the Bay of Fires Bush Retreat have crafted a beautifully unique Tasmanian camping experience in an area known for its iconic beaches, hiking trails and verdant wildlife. Relax at the end of the day with a glass of the local award winning wine and a perfectly prepared Tasmanian dinner and feel all your worries melt away.

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Wingtons Glamping

Complete with wood fires, Persian rugs and Egyptian linen, a night at Wingtons won’t feel like camping in the slightest. Located in the Tamar Valley around 3 hours north of Hobart, Wingtons Glamping offers an experience reminiscent of a vintage safari; become nostalgic with the thoughtfulness of the furnishings, and carefree in the inclusion of modern amenities. Like stepping back to a simpler time, but still being able to catch it all for Instagram. The perfect balance.

Curries. Tandoori. Biryanis. I could eat the lot, I don’t know about you… In fact, whether I’m dining in or getting an Indian takeaway, the cuisine is lost upon me if you restrict me eating just one dish – instead of feasting upon the entire menu.

You’ve probably heard about Dishoom. I mean, it’s pretty faultless. Great food, fair pricing – the bottomless chai really is a winner here. Go for the lamb chops, Bombay potatoes and the dal – stay for everything else. But what about the notorious queues?

Now, as a serious foodie, I’m not adverse to waiting my turn for a good bite to eat – but in London, where there is a plethora of restaurants spanning every cuisine, I feel as though queuing should be done sparingly.

So, as fabulous as Dishoom is, I thought I’d highlight a few other delicious Indian eateries in the city that are definitely worth a shout out. Whether you’re looking for a cosy ambience or to dine in luxury, there’s most certainly no shortage of exquisite Indian food in London.

So, without further ado, here are a selection of Indian restaurants in London to visit when you next dine out.

Benares

benares best indian food restaurants london

For those who enjoy the finer things in life – but still want a good curry, Benares is the Michelin-starred Mayfair restaurant to be on your list. Having visited a couple of times myself, neither food and service have ever faltered. Starting off with lychee and mango cocktails, this is the best way (in my opinion) to peruse the menu. The baked malabar scallops with coconut curry are a strong favourite, while the cured sea-bream and oyster ceviche chaat is an innovative offering on the menu. Mains-wise, it is truly hard to choose – with everything from

Basmati Rice and Scottish Lobster Cooked in Aromatic Stock, Dill and Pink Peppercorn Raita Onion Salad tandoori lamb cutlets to duck curry making my mouth water as I scanned the delicious-sounding words. In the end, I opted for the lobster cooked in stock with rice (a biriyani-style dish) served with pink peppercorn raita onion salad. Divine, if a little pricey as you are fishing about for the succulent pieces of lobster a little bit. wild halibut with clam moilee in a rogan josh type of sauce was really interesting.

Fish curry rarely disappoints when it’s done right. With various kulchas, rotis, naans and rices on the side, if you have room for dessert, it has to be the pistachio praline dark chocolate tart is for those who have a fair bit of room left and wish to indulge, while the Kesar mango with coconut water granita and almond biscuit is a light palate-cleanser.

Farzi London

farzi cafe best indian food restaurants london

While many central London spots run the risk of appearing gimicky and appealing to tourists alone, Farzi is not one of them. A huge success back in New Delhi, the people of London have been graced by the popular and authentic Indian restaurant for a good few years now – and I’m here to tell you that things have not slipped in the slightest over the years.

What to order? While the whole menu offers something for everyone, my personal favourite is (and will always be) the butter chicken baos. What a creation. So simple but so delicious. Butter chicken. In a bao. There’s not much more to it except that if I haven’t convinced you to order them on your next visit, please do get in touch as I’ll take you the next time I go. As thanks to these beauties, there’ll always be a next time.

Now I’m actually here to talk about the brunch offering at Farzi, too (I know, my ode to the butter chicken bao was a slight red herring). A truly reasonable offering, the dishes come in at about a tenner less than the price of a mains dish from the à la carte menu. There’s a range to choose from, too: eggs royale or florentine with masala hollandaise and a take on avocado chaat for my savoury people and banana ragi pancakes for those who prefer something a little more sweet.

My favourite had to be the dosa taco – you can opt for a veggie version with jackfruit or go for the full works, with chicken and a fried egg. Both are delicious but I actually might have preferred the meat-free version. Don’t mind me – just out here doing God’s work for you all. Wash it all down with a series of Farzi’s signature cocktails and that’s a solid Saturday, in my book.

Copper Chimney

copper chimney best indian food restaurants london

Located in the heart of Westfield London, this is the perfect destination for any tired shopper, in need to a tasty break from their retail endeavours. What I immediately loved about the menu at Copper Chimney was the division into curries, tandoori dishes and biriyanis – as well as the waiter’s insistance that I must try one of each. My type of waiter (any others reading this, please take note).

It should also be a rite of passage in Indian restaurants that guests should create their own mixed platter of starters. This is what I opted for and my eyes lit up when a variety of dishes holding delicious things such as yoghurt and cheese tikkis, green pea and potato samosas, carom-flavoured shrimp and poppadoms (with all the chutneys) arrived at my table. The waiter pulled up another table; I liked her even more.

The only dish from the starters section I didn’t fall in love with was the Delhi-fried chicken. Maybe it was overhyped to me, maybe it just wasn’t unique-tasting enough. It’s not bad by any standards but my tummy and my tastebuds much preferred the other appetisers.

Next to adorn our previously plain table were chargrilled chicken tikkas and lamb seekh kebabs – sizzling away in their impressive nature, accompanied by fresh and zesty dips. Representing the biriyanis was a spiced prawn and saffron special – and did it represent the rice dish well. Torn between my old friend butter chicken and the more interesting sounding dish of pickled chicken masala, our lovely waiter persuaded us to try the latter – and while I think butter chicken will never not be good in my books, the tartness of the chicken masala was a flavour I found exceedingly moreish (as I mopped up the pot with garlic and cheese naans).

If you have any room for dessert, the Gajar Pistachio Crumble (slow-cooked carrot cake with cardamom) is the perfect sweet finish – and don’t be shy about ordering from the cocktail menu as the sour whisky and mango went down a treat.

Pure Indian Cooking

pure indian cooking best food restaurants london

Step away from Central London and guess what – you’ll find the same array of delicious restaurants. Some may even be better. Pure Indian Cooking is such an example where you don’t need to fight the busy crowds and booked table reservations to eat well and be treated to delightful service. Husband and wife duo Faheem Vanoo and Shilpa Dandekar dominate both the front of house and chef sectors of this restaurant to ensure the perfect dining experience.

I’ve never once been disappointed by a sharing board of starters so that was the immediate choice for appetisers. Devouring treats such as tandoori paneer, chilli fried squid, malai tikka and seekh kebab was the perfect way to begin our meal – accompanied by the ‘Taste of Mumbai’, featuring a classic trio of bhel, pani poori and papdi chaat.

It was hard to bypass the lamb chops (a must-order for me at any Indian restaurant) but I spied the Telangana prawn masala and was instantly hooked. Cooked in ginger, curry leaves, chilli and tomatoes – sometimes it’s the simple dishes that make a solid impact. Craving another classic with a twist, I went rogue and opted for the pistachio chicken curry (I never normally order chicken when dining out, unless out for Persian food). Obviously the usual suspects chimed in in the form of side dishes – the dal makhani was fantastic; the pea and jeera pulao could have appeared and tasted a little more interesting but was tasty nonetheless and I will never say no to a butter naan.

I find myself choosing palate cleansers for dessert and the pistachio kulfi and mango sorbet just did that – along with a healthy glass of a mango margarita.

Colonel Saab

colonel saab best indian food restaurants london

Walking under a ceiling of sparkling chandeliers, I thought to myself “this restaurant has got the decor right”. Impressive to all (and dare I say, perfect for the average Instagrammer!), it’s an instantly pleasing aesthetic to walk into at Colonel Saab.

I’m told I have to try the Andhra-style baby aubergine; served with curry leaf & tamarind sauce, it was the perfect mix of something sweet and light but with a tang. Paired with a more classic dish: paneer; the rich and creamy sauce was balanced by the former dish’s punchy bite. Memsaab’s chicken curry (so-named after the Colonel’s beloved wife) had to be ordered, almost as a rite of passage to the restaurant. I was glad to try the signature dish and could only fault it for being slightly bland for my personal taste – but I much preferred the Colonel’s butter chicken. Having hankered a craving for it, this dish hit the spot.

I can’t say I lean too much toward a tomato-based curry or a cream-based one so I think, for me, it all depends on whichever I’m feeling most up for eating in the moment.

No Indian meal is complete without a flamboyant selection of chutneys, dals, naans, rotis, rice and the rest of the classic side crew – though Colonel Saab’s cumin potatoes made a strong, long-lasting impression on me, in particular. Though cheesecake is my favourite dessert period, it was the rasmalai milk cake that stole the show in a completely more-ish way. That cardamom cream – I’m still thinking about it.

Chourangi

chourangi best indian food restaurants london

Nestled just behind Marble Arch, Chourangi is a hidden gem within Central London. Now, there are undoubtedly classic dishes which no Indian restaurant’s menu can be without. However, when you cast your eyes on something like crackling spinach with almond slivers, it’s a nice change from bhel to snack on as you peruse the rest of the menu.

From tandoor, to large curry plates to biryanis – Chourangi is another Indian restaurant which appears to do it all. I pretty much selected my own tasting menu feast to appease my appetite and remove any ‘fomo’ of order regret. The tandoori tiger prawns were so tasty, flavoured with black peppercorns, ginger and yoghurt and served with a celery-mint-dill-coriander creation. Next up: the chilli paneer which had an enjoyable kick to it, while the steamed crab prawn parcels were an interesting choice and not something typically seen on a menu.

I was told I absolute had to try the Kosha Mangsho – slow-roasted Welsh lamb with yoghurt, green cardamom, cloves, cinnamon and mustard oil. The waiter had me at slow-roasted. An alternative but truly tasty choice, it complemented the chicken biryani we opted for nicely – with the rice being the perfect soaking-up substance for all that rich curry sauce. Of course naans were also used to mop up the vibrant amber-orange liquid, with the bread basket options alone were well deserving of applause.

Unable to stomach dessert at this restaurant but perfectly content with a full tummy and Tupperware to take home, I’d still call this dinner a success.

Masala Zone

masala zone best indian food restaurants london

There’s a fair few Masala Zone spots around, so you’d be forgiven for potentially thinking this Indian restaurant is like countless other chains in the business. However, aside from gorgeous decor and friendly, accommodating staff, the menu boasts some little gems that are not to be missed from your order. The Jaipur gol guppa pops are a fun starter, with the crispy-fried puffed balls filled with potato, chickpeas, onions and spices – only needing tamarind water added for a fun, tasty treat. The Goan crispy fried prawns are a must-order, accompanied by a vindaloo mayo dip, while the onion flower bajia is perfectly crispy and a moreish snack, indeed.

Butter chicken is a classic and Masala Zone served up one satisfying dish, while the paneer tikka and lamb seekh kebab were both packed full of flavour. The black dal and homemade raita complemented all the dishes well and there were sufficient naans and chapattis on-hand, for mopping up extra sauces and dips. If you have a sweet tooth, the kulfi or halwa are the desserts for you – but the coconut ice cream hit the spot for us with which to finish the meal.

It’s interesting, isn’t it? We can traverse continents, explore diverse cultures, and yet there’s often that one city we’ve never set foot in. Like, how did we get to this age, and travel all over the world but have never been to that one city? For some, it might be Liverpool with INNSiDE, a vibrant hub of culture and history waiting to be discovered.

For me, that city was Liverpool. A lifelong lover of The Beatles, Liverpool should never have escaped my grasp for so long, and yet here we are.

I’ve stayed at a Melia hotel before, in Magaluf, representing House of Coco in the Magaluf half marathon. The hotel was modern and luxurious, with experimental art adorning the walls, so I had an idea of the quality to expect at Liverpool’s brand-new four-star INNSiDE by Melia.

The new INNSiDE Liverpool lives up to its reputation. Situated just a couple of minutes’ walk from Albert Docks, the city centre is easy to navigate to, and you have the wonderful Gino D’Acampo restaurant on the first floor and its 360 Sky Bar up top.

Walking into the building you first encounter a pop-up shop selling flowers, it’s a cute greeting and there’s a spot for an influencer selfie surrounded by blooms underneath a neon sign.

The open plan reception is handled by casual and super friendly staff, they give off the air that nothing is any trouble. They gave us tips on what to do whilst we were there and made sure we felt right at home.

Rooms

Our suite was incredible. We had views from full-length windows on two sides, one facing Ireland and the other looking over the docks at the hills of North Wales.

The room felt huge but was really well designed in order to make the most of the space. The bedroom area with massive TV was filled with a huge comfortable bed, the dressing area and sofa faced out over the docks, there was a separate coffee/ breakfast table corner, and the open-plan shower and sink area.

It was gorgeous, modern, clean lines, and great views. Plus you get cosy slippers and the most comfortable dressing gown hoodies ever! I’d suggest booking two nights so you can spend the second night with a hangover, in those hoodies, full of Gino D’Acampo pasta, watching a movie in bed.

The Restaurant and Bar

Before dinner, we booked a table at the 360 Sky Bar. Surrounded by walls of glass, the view over this heartful city envelops you. As the night draws in, the city comes alive and from the sky bar you feel the buzz.

As with the rest of the hotel, the staff treat everyone like a VIP. I was getting 80s power suit vibes from up there for some reason, it’s inexplicable, but it’s there.

Back down to the first floor and we couldn’t have been more excited for dinner. Gino continues to dominate city after city with his restaurants and it’s not just his name that makes it happen.

The food is exceptional, with a playful menu full of enough choice, but not overwhelming amounts. Dishes are listed with a little bit of personality from Gino himself explaining a bit more about the recipe such as where it came from, who loves it most in his family, and that sort of thing.

We enjoyed every moment of dinner. From being seated with a direct view of the open kitchen, advice from the experienced staff with our order, and portions that will make you glad you booked. There’s nothing better than delicious food at a special restaurant that serves enough so that you’re not left needing more.

And finally

We spent the night dancing our little hearts out in the famous Cavern Club. As mentioned up top, I absolutely love The Beatles and this is where they started. We paid just a fiver each to get in, with no queue, and there was a resident band playing all of the hits. The place was packed with everyone from students to the over 60s reliving their youth.

Liverpool is a stunning city full of impressive architecture and naturally warm people. So if you’ve never been, just do it.

For good vibes, plenty of space, and no worries at all, the INNSiDE by Melia Liverpool is the one. We will definitely be back… if nothing else, to do the same again but with an added extra night in one of those dressing gown hoodies!

Book a room from £64 per night at INNSiDE Liverpool.

Old Hall Street
Liverpool
L3 9LQ

Tel: 0151 832 0960 innside.liverpool@melia.com

With change comes opportunity, and House of Coco writer, Tilly-Jayne Kidman has just embarked on a new project featuring a 1990’s campervan. Adventure now starts at home, read how a (slightly) rusty van has transformed her vision of travel for now and beyond.

When the pandemic hit and travel grounded to a halt, I felt lost. My life had been all go for many months, juggling a steady stream of freelance work with jetting off to a new destination on an almost monthly basis. Known for being the busy one, I was caught up in the buzz of my own life but all of a sudden, I felt as redundant as the planes on the Heathrow tarmac. I was no longer chucking a bikini into my suitcase and catching planes like buses, no, I was now watching back-to-back episodes of Schitts Creek and ordering a new pair of sweatpants. What I didn’t realise at this point (I think I’d just reached season three) was that I would soon be changing more than just my travel habits.

Like most, I thought this would be a temporary glitch in my busy life, that before long I’d be dashing off to the airport and having an almighty meltdown when my passport was not in the safe place where I definitely left it. As time passed, it became apparent that this would not be the case, life was changing and it was slowing down. Travel began to feel like a distant dream, an old life. I reminisced on old photos, scrolling for hours pining over memories of a former life. People watching in Cape Cod, pretending to understand baseball in Boston, road-tripping around the East coast of Canada. If only past me knew how good she had it! Never one to dwell, I began to explore the idea of an alternative form of travel. Slow travel, local travel.

I’ll put my hands up and (rather ashamedly) admit that travel to me meant exploring destinations outside of the UK. Sure, I’d ticked off a few of the popular UK hotspots, the Lake District has always been a favourite and I’d been to the coast a few times, but I’d never really sunk my teeth into the country I’d grown up in. Favouring bargain Ryanair flights to Europe over a weekend in Norfolk but when a flight to Copenhagen was less than the cost of dinner, it’s easy to see how we get swept up in the rush of bagging great deals and packing our bags. Not so great for the planet. With international travel off the cards for the foreseeable, I began to toy with the idea of van life. A lifestyle I’d been growing gradually more obsessed with over the past year or so. I followed van lifers on Instagram and on YouTube, admiring their travels and life on the road. They all seemed so happy and carefree, and I wanted a slice of that freedom.

One thing I’ve discovered since the pandemic, is that yes, holidays and trips are great, but actually it’s freedom that I value the most. Whether that’s here in the UK or on a sandy beach in Ibiza. This relentless craving for freedom led me down the van life road, and that’s when everything changed. I spent hours researching vans, would I buy a campervan or attempt a self-build conversion? Well, I’m not too handy with plumbing or electrics so maybe that won’t work. Ok maybe I should finance a new van so it’s reliable. THAT’S how much they cost? Ok maybe not. I went back and forth, until one fateful day, on my government-approved daily walk I bumped into a rather retro-looking Totoya Hiace with a ‘for sale’ sign in the window. I hadn’t felt such a rush of excitement in months, it was surely meant to be. I’d researched Japanese vans and the general consensus was that they’re pretty reliable, so with that in mind I scribbled down the number on the back of a receipt and as soon as I returned home I was on the phone and arranging a viewing. I will say that by this point, I had already decided this was my van. I’m not sure there was anything that could have put me off, once I get something in my head, it’s happening.

Welcome Elvis

And that’s how Elvis came about. My new pride and joy. I viewed him for approximately 45 seconds before thrusting the cash into the man’s hand. He’s a 1994 Toyota Hiace import with just 69,000 miles on the clock. He’s been well-cared for with lots of life and adventures left in his old soul even if he is a bit rusty around the edges. In all honesty, I used to think caravans were predominantly for old people, but here we are. I’m even a member of the Camping and Caravan Club! Who is she?

My plans for Elvis are modest thanks to the already built-in bed and kitchen set-up, I’m quite lucky in the fact the hard work has already been completed, but I am giving him a much-needed refresh. The van is very much stuck in the 1990’s, so I’ve been working to bring him into the 21st century. A great little project that’s within the realms of my DIY skillset (just about), the floor has been replaced, curtains and new cushion covers are underway and I’m planning to give the dull wooden furniture a fresh coat of white paint. It’s the perfect base for all of my UK adventures, and we’ve got Cornwall, Wales, the New Forest and the Peak District lined up for the summer. Does he go above 50mph? No. Does he travel well uphill? Don’t even talk to me about it. What he does do though is get me there, it just takes a little patience.

The van life trend might be an Instagram phenomenon, but it has opened my eyes up to slower, more sustainable travel. The word sustainability gets thrown around an awful lot, to the point I think its lost meaning and impact to a certain degree. I’ve always felt a sense of guilt when I step on a plane, persuading myself that off-setting my carbon footprint alleviates any wrongdoing but knowing deep down that this is just a drop in the ocean. Will I ever get on a plane ever again? Yes of course, because I do believe travel is important and that we can be responsible, but the van has allowed me to explore slow travel, and even better, local travel. Exploring in a manner that’s better for the earth feels good, lowering my impact where I can, from reducing my air miles right down to my reusable flask, single-use plastic free van and plant-based diet.

I’ve experienced more of the United Kingdom in the past six months than I have in my entire lifetime. Elvis is taking me down roads I’d never have travelled before, introducing me to new communities of van lifers, and the greatest gift of all? Freedom. My Netflix account is wondering where the hell I am, because instead my days off are now jam packed with adventure. From ticking off the best beaches in Norfolk, to gazing at the staggering natural beauty of Durdle Door. Elvis has given me more than I could have ever imagined, and proven that even in the darkest of situations, there’s always opportunity if you seek it.

My future of travel looks different to what I could have possibly imagined pre-pandemic. Yes, I miss those balmy summer evenings on holiday, getting lost in bustling street markets and discovering delicious local cuisine. Those days will be back, I’m sure. For now, though, I’m happy to be living life with my little van. International travel is somewhat of a luxury and I will savour every last drop as trips become fewer and more meaningful. Perhaps one day soon I can hit the road in Europe and discover the South of France, but for now, I’m more than happy to settle for the Norfolk coast!

Welcome to the month where things begin to change both weather-wise and on the food front. Some of us still cling to long lazy summer days and others are ready to embrace the fast-approaching autumnal season. We start to see less salads and more hearty dishes on restaurant menus. With a new season on the horizon it brings lots of exciting food and drink launches.

Food News

HECK – Pork Italia Sausages, Posh Chicken Nuggets, and Flexitarian Burgers & Sausages

HECK has done it again, they’ve launched even more sausages and burgers to their already bustling array of meaty and veggie goodness. This time, they have added chicken nuggets into the HECK family alongside some new flexi additions. New products include chicken, minted pea & spinach burgers, chicken, red pepper & feta burgers, posh piri piri chicken nuggets, posh chicken Italia nuggets, pork Italia sausages, and a few different chipolatas. Prices vary between £2 – £3, available from the end of September from Tesco, and HECK

Nush Foods – Dairy Free Mango and Passionfruit Yog and Dairy Free Chocolate Fudge Pots

Nush has launched their Dairy Free Mango & Passionfruit Yogs along with their Dairy Free Almond Milk Chocolate Fudge Chocolate Pots. The choc pots are made with delicious almond milk, sweetened with fruit rather than nasty sugars, mixed with quality Belgian chocolate powder and lots of live cultures. The mango and passionfruit dairy free yogs are made with almond milk, are free from refined sugar, and are packed with live cultures. Priced at £2.99 (350g mango & passionfruit yog), and £3.00 (2 x 75g choc pots), from Ocado, visit Nush Foods

Crabtree & Evelyn – Small Batch Olive Oil from the Greece Collection

Crabtree & Evelyn has just launched the brand’s Exploration series – Greece, which includes this amazing small batch olive oil. Cold extracted by a family-run olive mill in Kefalonia, using certified organic farming techniques. It offers a rich, distinctive flavour perfect for dipping bread into or drizzling over a Greek salad. Priced at £22.50 (500ml), from Crabtree & Evelyn

H. Forman & Son, Smoked Salmon and Smoked Salmon Pâté

The news from H. Forman & Son is that you can now buy their delicious London Cure Smoked Salmon and Oak Smoked Salmon Pâté at Waitrose. So, next time you are doing your weekly shop or you nip into Waitrose you can pick up some outstanding quality smoked salmon whilst in store. Priced at £6 (100g Salmon) and £4 (225g pâté), from Waitrose. Visit H. Forman & Son to find out more.

Moving Mountains – Fish Fillet

The Moving Mountains® Plant-Based Fish Fillet is 100% free of microplastics and mercury and has 10g of protein and 4.5g of fibre per 100g. It has a succulent, flaky texture and is coated in golden, crunchy panko breadcrumbs and it can be enjoyed as a direct swap for the traditional variety. Priced at £4 from Ocado

Feast Your Eyes on Food – Book Launch

This brand new book has been written by Laura Gladwin and Zoe Barker. A unique food encyclopedia stacked with over 1,000 delicious things to eat from across the world. This is a great book for the whole family to read to find out about the history of certain foods. Discover how cheese is made and find out what it is about onions that make you cry as well as a host of other surprising facts you didn’t know about food, from pasta and cakes to fruits and vegetables. Priced at £20, from Magic Cat Publishing, available at Waterstones and all good bookshops.

Drink Update

Rapscallion Soda

Specialist soft drink company and Scottish trailblazers Rapscallion Soda are on a mission to get people across the UK drinking better. The Glasgow-based brewers who use fresh, natural ingredients to create delicious low-calorie soft drinks have launched their first subscription service. Now the whole household can replace aspartame-filled diet drinks with sodas made from raw, vitamin rich ingredients every day. Available in a number of flavours including C_01 Ginga Ninja, C_02 Burnt Lemon, C_03 Dry Lime, S_01 Rhubarb, S_02 Strawberry, and S_03 Cranachan. Prices vary between subscription services, available from Rapscallion Soda

Tanqueray – Holistay Kit and Cocktail Porter

You can discover Tanqueray’s different flavours in this collection from around the world. The Holistay Kit contains three Tanquerary minis including Blackcurrant Royale, Flor de Sevilla, and Rangpur Lime. The box surprises you with all the required bontanicals and dried fruits ready to make a selection of cocktails at home. Also, there are two Tanqueray balloon glasses within the Cocktail Porter box, two bottles of Double Dutch Premium Tonic, and a Tanqueray Gin Passport, which offers cocktail recipes and a QR code to access specific DJ curated playlists. Priced at £32.95, from Cocktail Porter

Bacardi Spiced – Apple & Ginger Cocktail

Bacardi Spiced is a delicious vanilla, woody and honey flavoured rum with a lasting spicy finish of cinnamon and nutmeg. This cocktail is an autumnal dream, which also gives a black pepper and fudgy feel to it, perfect for late September into October.

To make this cocktail you will need 50ml BACARDI Spiced Rum, 50ml apple juice, 50ml ginger ale, 2 dashes Angostura Bitters (optional) and 1 lime wedge. Firstly chill a highball glass with ice, secondly build all your ingredients into the cold glass. Finally squeeze your lime wedge and add the Angostura Bitters (if using), stir, and garnish with the lime wedge. Enjoy! Priced at £19.50 (100cl), from Asda and all high street supermarkets.

Aber Falls – Welsh Whisky

Aber Falls Single Malt Welsh Whisky was released just a few weeks ago, you don’t want to miss out! This is a rich and full-bodied whisky, crafted with passion in North Wales. Aber Falls is an amber gold distilled spirit with an aroma of vanilla and toffee, candied citrus fruits, fig, sultana, and a hit of cloves. It gives the drinker sweet sherry notes with forest fruit flavours, dark chocolate, nuts, creamy malt, and espresso coffee. Simply divine! Priced at £26 (70cl), available from Aber Falls Distillery, order your bottle now.