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28 December 2014

Picnic, Walking and a Museum - a Fun Couple of Days Back in the UK

After our visit to Spain back in the summer we returned to the UK for a few days before jetting off again (more on where to that time very soon).  As is often the way we managed to squeeze in a bit of time in Richmond, the part of London we used to live near, deciding on one of our days there to go for a picnic (as the weather was still reasonable) in Richmond park.  So after a visit to the local supermarket for all the essentials we walked from the town centre to the park.  It's not too far and is a pleasant walk before you even arrive in the park, with the opportunity to take in some great views along the way.


The Thames looking towards Richmond bridge

View from the top of Richmond hill, one of the fabulous views on the way to Richmond park

Richmond park is the largest of London's Royal Parks.  In 1625 Charles I brought his court to Richmond Palace to escape the plague in London and turned the area into a deer park, although the Royal connections probably go back much further than this beginning with Edward I (1272 - 1307) when the area was known as the Manor of Sheen before changing its name to Richmond in the reign of Henry VII.  Today both red and fallow deer can still be found in abundance in the park.  It is a lovely spot to visit and despite being underneath the flight path to Heathrow this really doesn't spoil your enjoyment.  In fact for aviation fans like my husband it only adds to the thrill of a walk in Richmond park.  I've enjoyed walks there at all times of the year, one was even a feature of our last Christmas in the UK before moving to Singapore.  There are definitely worse ways to spend a Saturday afternoon in this part of London.

Some familiar sights from London's skyline viewed from Richmond park



Just a couple of Richmond park's numerous deer (and some horses in the background)

As well as our walk and picnic we also decided to visit one of London's many museums before leaving again.  We settled on one I'd not been too since I was in my early teens (possibly even younger) and one also not long reopened again after a refurbishment, the Imperial War museum.  The great thing about this one and many other museums across the UK is that they are free to enter, other than some specific travelling exhibitions which will charge an admission fee.  A great way to encourage people to visit time and again in my opinion.  The museum was first opened in 1920 in Crystal Palace after the Government decided in 1917 that a National War museum should be set up to collect and display material from the First World War (still at that point being fought).  It moved to its present location, which was formerly the central portion of Bethlem Royal hospital, in 1936.

The museum has exhibits from the First and Second World War right up to modern day conflicts.  In the year that saw the centenary of the outbreak of the First World War perhaps the most memorable exhibit for me and one I'd definitely urge you not miss were the First World War galleries.  Amazingly this is also free to get in to though at peak times they issue timed tickets to you as you enter to stagger the number of people viewing the exhibit.  There was a fascinating amount of information, both from the front line and back at home, and plenty of interactive parts suitable for all ages.  My memories of the museum from when I visited as a child are hazy but I remember always enjoying myself there and I certainly wasn't disappointed with my return visit.

Imperial War museum, London 

It's always great to get back to London on our visits back to the UK if we can, wherever we go or whatever we do there.  It's a fabulous city (though I know I'm biased) but it has many fond memories for me as I worked there for over nine years, lived there for a while and still have friends living there.  I'm never sorry to have the chance to get back to London town.

21 December 2014

Roundhouse - Christmas Menu

Maybe you are still looking for a venue for a last minute Christmas get together with friends or your loved ones.  If so, have you thought about trying Roundhouse: Pizza, Bar and Grill at Horse City?  Last Friday I went along to sample their Christmas menu which is currently available until the 28 December 2014.

We had a slightly eventful time getting to the restaurant firstly because we stupidly tried to get a taxi from Orchard the Friday before Christmas and at the time when everyone was either going home or going out!  You'd think I'd know by now!  Then when we got a cab we got dropped off at the Grandstand (Turf City) just up the road from Horse City where we actually needed to be so then had to walk the short walk back down some very dark roads.  However we got there in the end and were made very welcome.  Just bare in mind though if you are visiting the restaurant and getting a cab to make sure you get dropped off at Horse City.

As I mentioned we were there to sample their Christmas menu and we began the evening with the Sweet Red Chili Lobster Remoulade Roll served in a warm soft bun with French fries and salad ($34++).  As you may recall from other restaurant posts I'm not the biggest seafood fan but as is often the case I was pleasantly surprised and enjoyed the dish.  There were decent sized pieces of lobster meat in the roll and the side portion of fries were really good.   My companion felt that the chili was a little too sweet for her personally but this didn't stop us quickly finishing off the lobster dish.


Sweet Red Chili Lobster Remoulade Roll

Next was the Roasted Spring Chicken stuffed with sage bread, served with baked rosemary potatoes and crispy bacon ($36++).  This proved to be a hit with both of us, the chicken being juicy and full of flavour.  The dish was served with a chicken jus made from the juices from the chicken which really tasted delicious.  The chicken was also stuffed with sage bread under the skin of the breast rather than in the traditional way.  This meant that when you sliced into the breast meat you also got to enjoy a yummy piece of the sage bread.  I like sage stuffing and I liked this way of presenting the dish.  The chicken was served with rosemary potatoes which we both agreed were very good and again full of flavour.  For me personally the chicken beat the lobster dish purely because this is typical of what I would have ordered and it didn't disappoint.

Roasted Spring Chicken 

Finally came dessert always a personal favourite of mine!  We sampled the Winter Log Cake, a white chocolate yoghurt and raspberry semifreddo with red berries financier and raspberry coulis ($16++).  I am not a fan of any of the traditional Christmas desserts or cakes so for me choices such as this on Christmas menus would always be my preference.  I was a little concerned beforehand that this may be a little heavy after our main courses.  However it was in fact really light and although fairly sweet (not a big problem for me) was incredibly easy to eat and certainly did not leave us feeling uncomfortably full.  Once again this was quickly polished off by us and both myself and my companion thoroughly enjoyed it.

Winter Log Cake

Whilst we were there for the Christmas menu the regular menu looks pretty extensive with a range of dishes that would suit all members of the family.  There is an outside seating area and I noticed an area with pool tables as well as signs for a weekly quiz night and flat screen TVs for showing various sporting events.  It certainly looks like a very family friendly place to visit.

The Roundhouse Christmas a la carte menu is available now until the 28 December 2014.

Roundhouse
100 Turf Club Road
Singapore 287992

Opening Hours
Tuesday to Thursday: 6pm to 11pm
Friday: 5pm to 11pm
Weekends: 9am to 4pm, 6pm to 11pm
Closed on Mondays

Reservations
Phone: 6466 0966
email: enquiries@roundhouse.com.sg 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roundhousepbg
Twitter: @rroundhouse 


This blog resulted from an invitation and represents the thoughts and opinions of the writer. All information on this blog is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and the writer will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the display or use of this information. All text and photos on this blog are the original works of the writer unless stated otherwise.

Thank you to the Roundhouse for the kind invitation.

16 December 2014

Memories of Spain

With Christmas just around the corner the summer and our visit back to Europe seems like a long time ago now but part of our trip included a visit back to Spain.  

I wrote numerous posts (and my husband also penned one of them) following our last trip two years ago, which you can read via the attached links if you want to.

Puerto Banus
Ronda
Marbella
Camuri - Chill Out Bars Goes Spanish
Casares & Gaucin
Mijas
Selwo Aventura
Tarifa

So this time around here are a few photos which sparked memories for me of our visit this summer. 



Mijas

Wall art in Mijas

Sunday morning coffee in Casares

Casares



Puerto Banus

Has to be done on the Costa del Sol



09 December 2014

Christmas Wonderland @ Gardens by the Bay

I have been well and truly getting my Christmas fix so far this year, including in this a recent visit to the launch of the Christmas Wonderland at Gardens by the Bay.  The gardens look wonderfully festive and I admit that for the first time this Christmas season I got a tiny pang of longing to be back in the UK for my Christmas or alternatively for all my nearest and dearest back there to be able to come here.  It truly does look magical all lit up and certainly got me focused on all the things I still need to do before Christmas day!  Though I still seem to have lots left to do.


My evening began with a visit to the Flower Dome to see the Yuletide in the Flower Dome exhibit.  The dome is teeming with beautifully lit Christmas trees and other decorations surrounding a snow covered village scene with lovely cool temperatures to match.  A night time visit is a must to fully enjoy the Luminarie light sculptures, of which there are thirty around the gardens, and really soak up the atmosphere.  The light sculptures are all handmade by skilled Italian craftsmen and are made of white wood frames from the south of Italy illuminated with lights in a variety of colours.  The centrepiece in the Flower Dome of Santa in his sleigh flying off into the night sky delivering gifts is truly beautiful.  Everyone in the dome on the night I visited seemed truly mesmerised and caught up in the magic of it all.

Naturally, as you are in the Flower Dome you also get to see some beautiful seasonal flowers and plants including fir trees, poinsettias and other blooms in festive red, green and white.  My personal favourites in the dome were all the beautifully lit up fir trees and the wintry village scene.

Inside the Flower Dome

Yuletide in the Flower Dome

Yuletide in the Flower Dome

Yuletide in the Flower Dome

Yuletide in the Flower Dome

Yuletide in the Flower Dome


From the dome I made my way to view the Spalliera, the largest of the Luminarie light sculptures at the event standing 31 metres wide and 17 metres high (approximately five storeys).  This is also breathtaking and strikingly beautiful and a must see on your visit.  At the launch the Spalliera was lit by the Guest of Honour, Mr Khaw Boon Wan, Minister for National Development.  When we gathered at the Spalliera we were in total darkness but were instantly wowed by its beauty as the lights were illuminated.  As the Spalliera was illuminated we also got to experience 'Blizzard Time' when snow comes to Gardens by the Bay!  I confess to being a little bit cynical about fake snow up until this point but seeing this totally wowed me and having not really seen snow for almost five years I really got caught up in the moment.  Everyone there turned into children all over again as the snow fluttered down.

The amazingly beautiful Spalliera complete with fake snow!


There truly is so much to see at Gardens by the Bay at the moment I'm not sure where to begin!  You have to get down there to see for yourself.  However it includes numerous activities for children, a multitude of different choirs performing over the next few weeks and various festive performances and acts.  There is a Christmas Wonderland festive market set amidst the Supertree Grove with all the stalls in the traditional wooden huts similar to the many European Christmas markets I've been too.  There are a variety of food and drink vendors as well as stores selling gifts perfect for Christmas presents.  On top of this you can also enjoy a number of pop-up outlets including the Isetan Christmas village, with a variety of shops offering everything you could wish for this Christmas, Christmas delights by Culina, with an array of fine food and wine and Janice Wong, the acclaimed Singaporean pastry chef of 2am: dessertbar bringing to the Gardens an array of delicious sweet treats. 

Visitors can also enjoy an exclusive dining experience at the Spiegeltent, open until 21 December 2014, 5pm to 11pm daily.  The Spiegeltent is a travelling 'mirror' tent from the Netherlands which is making its first appearance in Asia.  Originally built in the late 19th and early 20th century only a handful now remain in existence.  It is made of 1000 pieces of wood, canvas, brocade, decorated mirrors and stained glass and here you can enjoy a unique dining experience in the tent dining on dishes created by Kitchen Language's Group Executive Chef, Martin Woo.  Visitors can enjoy a range of festive delights including wild mushroom and truffle tartlets, roast turkey with chestnut and cranberry stuffing, cranberry and chestnut falafel, smoked salmon and creme fraiche roulade as well as desserts including sticky toffee pudding and Christmas Wonderland strudel and with the menu changing every week you are sure to leave happy!  There are also specially concocted Christmas cocktails and beverages including hot vodka with honey, Wonderland champagne punch, watermelon slush smoothie and virgin yuletide pina colada.  Diners can choose from an a la carte dinner menu with items priced from $7.  Minimum purchase of a drink is required for entry into the Spiegeltent.


Christmas Wonderland @ Gardens by the Bay is on now!  Get yourself down there for a wonderfully festive treat.

The Festive Market will run until 21 December 2014 from 3pm to 11pm daily.  Food huts open from 5pm.

The Luminarie light sculptures will be lit up until 1 January 2015.

Yuletide in the Flower Dome will run until 6 January 2015.

Access to Christmas Wonderland @ Gardens by the Bay is free.  While admission charges apply to the Flower Dome you can currently enjoy 10% off admission rates into the cooled conservatories when you purchase your tickets in advance online! This promotion is applicable for tickets purchased through Gardens by the Bay’s Online Ticketing Portal one day or earlier before the intended date of visit. Tickets issued under the Advance Ticket Promotion will be valid until 6 January 2015. Tickets must be purchased online by 5 January 2015. Please visit www.gardensbythebay.com.sg for full details. Terms and conditions apply.

For more information on everything happening at Gardens by the Bay over the Christmas season, check out their website here.


This blog resulted from an invitation and represents the thoughts and opinions of the writer. All information on this blog is provided "as is", with no guarantee of completeness, accuracy or timeliness and the writer will not be liable for any losses, injuries or damages from the display or use of this information. All text and photos on this blog are the original works of the writer unless stated otherwise.

Thank you to Gardens by the Bay for the kind invitation.
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