Category: Travel (Page 1 of 4)

Belgian Stew… in this weather, are you kidding?!

So in my quest to bring you meals from around the globe the next Country on my list was Belgium where I discovered the Belgian stew. Somewhere I have only paid a fleeting day visit, just once as a teenager. We went to Bruges on a school trip. In all honesty, aside from the canals I don’t think my 13 year old self took much else in whilst I was here, well at least I can’t remember much, apart from the naughty stuff everyone got up to!! Whilst I was at school I think this went down in history as one of the most rebellious trips that the school had. Put it this way, the students who went got a little carried away on the ferry and there were a lot of kids smoking and getting drunk! Do kids even know what smoking is these days? Oh how times have changed! 

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Australian food

Down Under for some Australian food

The first country that I’m going to virtually transport you to is Australia and not just because it begins with the letter ‘A’ and that’s an easy place to start (although that does have a little to do with the choice because I can be pretty darn methodical when I want to and yes I have a list, which is of course alphabetical AND YES there ‘might’ have been some highlighter use!) but mostly I’ve chosen it because it’s a place that has very sentimental memories for me. If you haven’t read about my time here then feel free to check out this much older post for a bit of background, as I don’t want to repeat myself for the sake of my hardcore blog followers. If such a person or people actually exist! So onto Australian food…

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around the world

Around the World with Kaori’s Kitchen…

Finally the King household is well again and I’m back on it as far as launching the foodie arm of Kaori’s Kitchen is concerned! There’s been a lot of paperwork, buying of packaging, testing of labels, creating the perfect workspace, testing out more recipes and all that kind of jazz happening in the background to ensure I’m ready to officially launch and start selling to the actual public. Why that scares me so much I don’t know!

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Negombo for shopping before flying home!

Before we were due to fly home we had booked two nights at a hotel in Negombo, which is a town situated only about twenty minutes away from the airport and being as we’d already covered a lot of Colombo when we first arrived it seemed like a good choice to finish up our trip.

What wasn’t such  good choice was the hotel here… basically we had pretty much stretched ourselves over and above the budget we had set for all of the other accommodation during the trip. This is the problem with having so much choice and the internet at your fingertips! You know the thing… ‘well it’s only £20 more a night and it looks so much nicer…’ and before you know it you’ve persuaded yourself to take a similar upgrade for 15 nights of the trip! Whoops! Anyway, we didn’t need anything flash for these last two nights and where we did stay was ok just a bit rough around the edges and could probably have done with a bit of a deep clean! We were slightly disturbed by the Thompson signs up on the wall incase people actually come on an all inclusive holiday to this place and don’t leave it to see the rest of the Country! It was possible that this is what a couple of the guests were doing as they appeared to be in that crazy mentality of putting towels on sun beds at silly o’clock and not just any sun bed, the same one as the day before and no doubt the day before that! You know the ones and if you are one, whoops sorry, I’ll shut up now! Or maybe, just maybe, you’ll stretch yourselves on our next trip… I can’t imagine for exampled that any persona staying in this hotel in Negombo for a week or two will have gone home raving about Sri Lanka, because this is simply not a good example of what the country has to offer! Anyway, I’d better get off of my high horse before I offend people too much, as I don’t want you to stop reading, just maybe to be a little inspired…

There was just a couple of things on our agenda for this last day and a half and it was mainly shopping, relaxing, swimming and eating! We had spotted some amazing chairs a few times in Sri Lanka and we were trying to figure out a way to get them home if we found some to buy so when we realised they were selling them in several shops right across from our hotel we made this our first stop, as soon as we’d slung our backpacks in the room. We ended up getting a great deal on two chairs and convinced ourselves that if the guy wrapped them in hessian sacks we would be able to check them in as our third bit of luggage, after all we were allowed 3 x 30kg and probably came with less than 40kg in total so we were confident that Emirates would be accommodating… We loved these chairs so much that we have also made some connections out there so that we can source them to sell via our new interior furniture website, once it is up and running that is (this is in it’s very early stages of planning and involves a lot of James’ own handy work, including bespoke pieces too). Keep your eyes peeled and I’ll let you know once we’ve progressed a bit more with it…

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One of the chairs we brought back with us…

There was a lot of swimming in the pool to make the most of the little one being so confident in the water now and on the first night we decided to duck away from the hotel for food, looking for a more authentic restaurant to get a really good local meal, well for me anyway! I ordered the curry, whilst the other two went with some Western offerings and I think it was probably after about an hour and a half of ordering the other two got theirs and then half an hour after that (with the girly sound asleep on my lap) I got mine, which was absolutely not worth the wait. In actual fact it was the worst meal I had had since being here. The dhal (atleast I think that’s what it was) looked like it had been microwaved and then been sitting on the side for an hour before brining it out to me, the curry was really spicy but not all that tasty and the rice was a mountain but pretty flavourless. Such a shame as this would be my last taste of curry out here as on the last evening we all decided to air on the side of caution and have something a lot less spicy in preparation for the flight. We were actually flying at 3:15am so got a lift to the airport at midnight, having tried to squeeze in a few hours shut eye before this. Luckily we did really as neither James or I slept at all on the flights on the way home and the littlie only slept on the second leg for a couple of hours! We were prepared for major breakdowns from her in the coming days, but amazingly she took the jet lag and lack of sleep totally in her stride and was fine! Made for travelling obviously!

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The beach at the front of our hotel here…

All in all we absolutely loved Sri Lanka and would highly recommend it to everyone, in particular families who want an easy first taster of travelling in Asia with children. If anyone has any particular questions about the country please comment below and I’d be more than happy to answer anything or help you plan your trip…

 

Unawatuna – from sickness and monsoons to sun, sea, shopping and good times!

I guess the title of this blog sums up our week’s stay in Unawatuna! In fact maybe I should leave this blog at that, some might… oh hang on, you know me too well! I like to talk, write, tell my stories, babble on for as long as I can get away with, so the chance of me leaving it at a summary title is probably pretty slim!

If you’ve read my previous blog about our Daughter’s amazing Fourth Birthday you’ll know that we feasted on seafood that night and I managed to get away with eating almost two whole lobsters (small ones I’ll have you know!) to myself! They weren’t the best lobster I’d ever eaten but they tasted ‘fine’ to me, however it sees that maybe they didn’t quite agree with me because from the following morning for three days solid I was seriously ill with a terrible tummy and the most awful stomach cramps I’ve ever had (bar labour contractions of course!). I wondered to start with if it was lack of sleep or anxiety as I hadn’t had a wink of sleep that night through fear of a Tsunami! IMG_1509
Stupid I know, but the Monsoon was so loud and because our room was literally metres from the crashing waves of the sea I couldn’t help playing out the worse case scenario’s in my head! I didn’t like that our Daughter was in another bed incase we were hit as I would want hold of her. All totally silly thinking and in the end the only way I coaxed my way out of worrying so much was the thought that actually we were so close to the sea that actually if it did happen we wouldn’t know anything about it anyway! Again, not thoughts for a good night sleep really – silly billy! Before being a Mum this never would have bothered me!!

However, the ill feelings continued and I realised it was something a bit more serious. I have literally never been so ill in my life and was stuck in our hotel room, as near to the toilet as possible until it subsided. We even asked about getting a doctor out at one point, but apparently they wouldn’t come out so we would have had to travel to the nearest one which was the next town, twenty minutes away. At that point being that far from ‘the facilities’ was not a very appealing option, so I opted to stay put for another day and luckily enough by that time I was definitely starting to feel better. I tried to eat some toast and that went down ok and then in true ‘Kaori loves her food’ style by the next day I was back onto the fish and curries. I did avoid shellfishIMG_1505 for the rest of the trip though!

If I was to put a positive spin on this poorly spell (because I don’t like to dwell on the rubbish stuff) it would be that I was so glad it was me that ate the lobster and that neither my Daughter or Husband got ill, also we were booked into one place to stay for seven nights so I didn’t have to travel by car, train etc in this rough
condition and the monsoon that hit the evening of my Daughters birthday stuck around for the three days I was ill, so actually I didn’t miss all that much and the other two snuck out between the heaviest rainfall to explore and escape the confines of our room! The strange thing was, as soon as I was better the monsoon lifted, the sun came out and for the first time in days it was hot, hot, hot again! It’s almost like my body and the weather were in tune, weird!

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For the remaining three days that we had left here we strolled the local area, the beaches, the shops, the restaurants and best of all the Roti shops! Eating was very much back on the agenda and I had some catching up to do as I’m not particularly keen on seeing my ribs! The beaches weren’t that great here, a lot of rubbish everywhere and the sea was pretty rough so we didn’t go for a swim being as the little person is only just learning and James isn’t a particularly strong swimmer. It’s a great place to watch some surfing though, as it’s really popular here for that, as is most of Sri Lanka actually. The beach in Unawatuna is lined with restaurants and hotels, so there is plenty to choose from food and drink wise and then once onto the main street you can find a few interesting shops, one in particular we found was an artists shop where he was selling his Brothers amazing paintings. We bought about 6 in the end! A tradition of ours on our travels is that we always bring something back for our house, so that what you find covering our walls will one day tell a story of all the places we have visited.

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Another place about 20 minutes away from Unawatuna that we visited, via Tuk-Tuk, a couple of times was Galle. IMG_8179Galle is a Fort area crowded with very pretty Dutch-colonial buildings consisting of guesthouses, hotels, restaurants and shops. The first day we went we strolled around the inside of the fort walls, scoured the shops, got ice creams and ate in a quirky restaurant set up for surfers and backpackers by the look of the decor. The Fort itself is surrounded on three sides by the sea, which made for some amazing views when the sun was setting. We were lucky too that it was a weekend evening that we were here so the whole area by about 5pm was absolutely rammed full of locals. The Fort walls themselves and the beaches outside of them were crowded with families playing together, eating picnics, playing ball games and generally having fun. IMG_8262This was a very similar scene to that we saw in Columbo when we first arrived… these Sri Lankan folks have it so right when it comes to being together with their loved ones. We could really learn a thing or two from them! I for one would absolutely love a weekly tradition where we went to a certain place (or different place each time) and met up with all of our family, friends and their families and just had fun. For some reason we struggle to do this once a year or ever in the UK, well that’s my experience anyway. Maybe I’ll have to start up a ‘meet up’ tradition at home. Who’s up for it?

The sights we saw, the smells of the delicious food as we IMG_1534turned every corner, the people we chatted to, everything about the time in Galle was special. True to form, the locals loved our Daughter and we were frequently stopped for photo requests, which gave us good opportunities to get a few snaps too so that we can forever remember this amazing place!

 

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