I have some sound advice about eating Oysters.
Oysters should be eaten with passion.Oysters should be eaten in scenic locations by the sea,and as close to where they were brought ashore as possible. Oysters should also be accompanied by very decent wine. The best thing to eat after a plate of oysters is another plate of oysters.
But, where on earth do you go to find such a combination? The answer is Brittany in northern France. Specifically, there is a tiny village called Cancale where the restaurants look out directly over the oyster beds, less than five miles east of the ferry port of St Malo .
As a result visitors can indulge in perfect fresh oysters served with excellent local wines in a perfect location. We were told about Cancale a few years ago and have now been back twice. Travelling to France from the UK by Ferry you can either drive down from Calais through the Normany countryside and past the amazing mont St Michel (a long old day of about 5 hours driving) or go direct from Porstmouth to St Malo in which case you could even leave the car at home and just cycle across to Cancale. There are some nice small family run hotels and it makes a perfect base for exploring the north Brittany coast.
If you don’t like oysters then maybe Cancale won’t be your idea of heaven, but if you do I am sure you will be as smitten by the place as we have been.
A report this week shows that a million fewer Brits are taking their summer holiday abroad this year than last. For many the belt tightening has extended to taking no break at all as the economic picture seems to worsen daily. Others are opting for shorter UK breaks as a way to have a holiday without spending too much.
Tent manufacturers and retailers are experiencing a mini boom as more families decide to slash costs further still by sleeping under canvas (well, rip-stop nylon to be precise) on UK campsites.
More people holidaying at home means that more money will be kept within the UK borders and that will in a small way help the current economic climate from sliding further downhill.
Windsor Castle is justly famous as a huge Norman Castle and the home of British monarchy for close to a thousand years now. If you are staying in London, then Windsor is just one hour by train. You have two routes to choose from depending on where in London you are staying.
If you are south of the River Thames, or around the strand/embankment area then go to Waterloo station and get a direct train to Windsor and Eton Riverside Station.
Alternatively, if you are in Soho or Camden, go to Paddington Mainline Station and take the train to Slough. You can change to the Windsor Branch Line which is on platform 1.
Either way, you will end up in the delightful little town of Windsor which has great restaurants, great shopping, a huge park, riverside walks, boat rides and of course, the Castle itself.
Belgium is small and is often the butt of jokes (name 3 famous Belgians?) by its neighbours. However, Bruges is a great city for a weekend visit. Less brash than Brussels, but more beautiful by far, Bruges (also called Brugge) is above all a cultural town. Museums sit cheek by jowl with each other, telling the story of the rise to prominence of this little town which became a major european trading town in the middle ages. The oldest hospital in europe is here for visitors to see how the sick were cared for in harsher days. The palace where England’s Charles II lived in exile following the beheading of his father is open to the public, and once you feel a little peckish, a five minute walk will take you to the world’s first museum dedicated to the humble potato chip (french fries).
Canal tours are great, as are horsedrawn carriage rides, but Bruges is above all a place to wander on foot or bicycle. It is beautiful. The entire old town within the medieval walls is cobbled and strict laws ensure no bad design ruins the look of the place. The result is a photographers dream location around every single corner. The food is stunningly good and the beer is world class. A particular treat was a bar offering 400 varieties of beer!
Come to Bruges any time of year and enjoy a relaxing, classy, cultural break from the ordinary.
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