Monday, December 31, 2007

Norway for Christmas 6

We had to be up and on our way very early to get D to work; but as we were eating breakfast we spotted a beautiful red squirrel on the tree outside our window. We had to leave and D drove fast but safely and we dropped him off in good time. We headed for the flat and showers all round and then some shopping as the next few days would be shopless. D phoned when he was free again, and we went over to collect him. The plan was to try and fit in a trip to the Candle Factory at Byrkjedalstunet. This has become a must on our trips to Stavanger. They have a massive array of candles of all colours, shapes and sizes as well as other Norwegian souvenirs. They have also built a huge exhibition/ performance space for Stavanger 2008 . We spent some time choosing candles to buy and then had coffee and cake overlooking the new area, which is built against the rock face. This evening we watched the last of the Pirates of the Caribbean DVDs. Its New Year’s Eve or Hogmanay or A’s birthday! We decided to take a beach walk at Randesburg and got carried away with some great photos of the ice on the beach and reflections of boats in the little harbour.

When we got back to the flat, A opened his presents and soon it was time for us to get ready to walk down to ‘N. B. Sorensen's Damp-skibsexpedition’ for our special Nyttarsmeny dinner. This was four courses with a wine matching menu. Even now, there were some fireworks, tempting the photographers to the balcony and programmed exposures. More of that later! We were welcomed with a glass of fizz, then took our seats for a real gourmet experience. There was Kamchatka crab, trout in a pumpkin soup, venison, and chocolate cake with panettone ice-cream and oranges. Mmmmmm! We had to leave by 11pm and as we walked back up the hill, the fireworks were starting. We sped upstairs and started to take pictures as the show began. By midnight there was a fabulous show of rockets all around us. The eleventh floor is great place to view from and there are some lovely results with the cameras. So now its 2008.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Norway for Christmas 5

Friday and we are off to a cabin for a couple of nights. We can't start too early because of the office, but set off after lunch to get to the cabin at Saganeset, Sirdal. We whizzed past the Candle Factory and only stopped for a break at the felt place. The weather suddenly changes from the cold but snow-free Stavanger area to snow and icicle covered mountains. When we arrive at the cabins, we find an ice rink - everyone can hardly stand on the icy surface - melting and freezing has evidently gone on, and D parks the car with care, to make it easier to leave again. The cabin is cosy and comfortable and we can get on making dinner with little fuss. Our big mistake is to have forgotten to bring towels!! Ah,well, as its only family we can forgo the showers this time! The turkey risotto is very tasty, and we get to play several hands of canasta before retiring.

When we get up on Saturday morning, its still very slippery, but we are determined to make our walk up Haugen. We park at the bottom of the hill in the farm parking and walk up the road very gingerly. Soon we get on to the lane by the cross country track, and here the walking is easier. Its lovely to be out and we make great progress, but the cross country skiers do give us some funny looks. They are all speeding along on their skis - young and old alike. We have brought some sandwiches for lunch and find a place to sit - under the eaves of the shooting range, which is luckily closed. This is great as it started to snow. Now the icy surfaces will be covered and walking, driving and everything else will be a lot better. We walk on up to a gate and a bridge, then decide that to get back in good time, perhaps we should turn round. Downhill is much quicker, and it seems that we will be in plenty of time. D has been constantly in touch with the office, and it becomes apparent that we will have to go back early in the morning. Its turkey curry and canasta for the evening, then early to bed, after all that exercise!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Norway for Christmas 4

Its Boxing Day and we needed to get out for a walk after all that turkey and Christmas Pud! So, after D had been to the office, we all went off on another scramble up a hill to get some fresh air and exercise. This time we followed the red markers up Kjolleknuten. Although a bit misty and cold, we managed to get some views, and encountered a friendly flock of sheep on the way down again! This evening is a favourite meal of cold turkey, which we have accompanied with sweet potatoes and veg. Scrumptious. We also watched the second of the Pirates DVDs. What fun!

On Thursday, we need to do some shopping as we are off to the cabin on Friday. D is again working, so we three manage that at the local Meny store. After we catch up with D who arranged for us all to meet up with S at the Ostehuset for a great lunch (this link is mostly for the Norwegian speakers!). S is staying in Stavanger for work while we go off, so we all said goodbye for a couple of days. Fishcakes with roasted tomatoes, green beans and lettuce made a tasty dinner. We had a few hands of canasta before crashing!

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Norway for Christmas 3

Its Christmas Eve and we have plenty of preparations to do for tomorrow. D had to be in the office first thing, then we wandered into Stavanger for a coffee. Sadly, most places were closed but we did manage to squeeze into a busy Cafe Francaise. Back at the flat, we decided to watch Polar Express, a great Christmas Eve movie! Then we ate pasta with a tomato, chillie and caper sauce. Before going to bed, we walked to Gamle Stavanger and strolled through the old town looking at the decorations and seeing families eating traditional Norwegian Christmas Eve Dinner together. Down on the harbour, there were some lovely reflections in the water and as we walked back the bells started ringing and lots of people were making their way to the cathedral for the late night service.

Christmas Day and we had a bit of a lie in. We planned to eat the turkey later on, so decided to walk up to Vaulen Tourette to work up an appetite. The view from there is panoramic. It was a swimming pool at one time and must have been amazing to swim with the views of the mountains and the city spread out around you! Now its a bit derelict, which is a pity, but they fly a huge Norwegian flag on high days and holidays and today was no exception.  We wandered back down, walking by the lake, which is partially frozen. The birds were having fun on the ice, skating along and making spectaular, skiddy landings. Lots of folk were out , so the display attracted quite a crowd.  We dragged ourselves away back to the flat and our Christmas meal.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Norway for Christmas 2

M did arrive around 2am and the lads got up early and queued to collect the turkey! They were number thirty something in the queue and the only ones collecting a turkey. Everyone else was there for the traditional Norwegian Christmas food. We went back to the supermarket for the rest of the shopping, which included a Christmas Tree. This we got from the filling station, then we had the problem of how to stand it up. We dropped it back at the flat, then headed off to Sandnes. We looked in all the shops, but no tree stands. There are some lovely shops in Sandnes and we even found a butternut squash for the risotto tonight. D and M bought glass shooting stars and reindeer for the tree. The shops all close around 4pm, so we were soon driving back again. When we got back, M needed a rest, so D, A and I went for a walk up to the lake. As it was dark and the houses were lit up, we enjoyed the cosy views of the interiors with their Christmas trees and decorations.

Its Sunday already, and we planned a walk to Rennesoy Hjornet. We had to drive about an hour to the start, along with one of D's colleagues. Then we walked over the rather frozen heath, which let us down a couple of times, meaning that I for one, ended up to my knees in mud!! It was so lovely to be out in the perfect air with fabulous views across the islands to the mountains. We could even see some snow. We had a tasty dinner of pork with oranges and lemons, which is roasted in the oven and served pots and veg with it.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Norway for Christmas 1

We flew off to Stavanger Thursday morning, being met by D early afternoon. And we hit the supermarket to see how much we could find to make our British Christmas in Norway. D had managed to order a turkey from the very lovely butcher on the harbour, which we needed to collect on Saturday. We did bring mincemeat and Christmas pud with us and M is bringing the cake. I'd also sneaked in a couple of tins of Lyle's Golden Syrup for the chocolate crispies. This shop mainly concentrated on stuff to make mince pies, almond tarts and choccy cripsies; as well as meals for us all for the next few days. We can use the balcony, on the 11th floor, as an extra fridge! For dinner we are having Chicken with Lemon and Tarragon. I have started a recipe book on the Waitrose website to ensure I have a selection of things to cook as well as an instant shopping list. This is meant to save time.

Friday and M is arriving today. I cooked in the morning - the first batches of mince pies, almond tarts and crispies. Then we walked into town and met D for coffee in Food Story. Then it was another turn around the gorgeous Christmas shops. More coffee at Steam, and texts from M to say that she is delayed by fog in Amsterdam (Brum to Amst to Stav). We went home to wait for news and it even looked as if she wouldn't arrive until tomorrow - staying in Amsterdam overnight. We had Fish Carbonara for dinner and waited. Between texts and the Schipol and Sola websites, we eventual found that M would arrive around two in the morning! Good news and not so good news as we have to collect the turkey early Saturday morning - so no lie in!.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Dinner at Le Sommelier

We had a date at 8pm on Saturday evening – dinner at Le Sommelier, Copenhagen. After a day spent partly on a bus and also having eaten lunch, we needed to get some exercise before we embarked on a gourmet meal at this, one of Copenhagen’s leading restaurants. So we declined our host’s offer of a taxi and opted to walk to Bredgade, instead. We strolled along H C Andersens Boulevard, passing Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and a busy, noisy Tivoli Gardens. Here people were enjoying all this famous entertainment park has to offer. This year ‘Oliver’ is the extremely popular show on at Tivoli theatre, but there are also all the traditional entertainments – the fairground rides, restaurants and bars. The Star Flyer is this year’s new attraction, from where squeals of joy – or terror – were emanating! The lights at Tivoli are lovely – with buildings outlined like gingerbread houses, willow trees weeping lights into the lake, and coloured lights looking like bushes of flowers along the waterside.
We crossed the road towards the Radhuspladsen, where there is a lovely Christmas tree decorated with lights and traditional heart decorations. Apparently, the heart decorations we see all over Scandinavia are pagan symbols. They originated back when Christianity came to the North and the pagan tradition of human sacrifice was abandoned. Before then, hearts had been cut out of the sacrificial victims, chopped up and scattered across the fields to ensure the ‘gods’ would bring a bountiful year. Our route then took us down Stroget all the way to Kongs Nytorv, where we watched the intrepid skaters negotiate the ice-skating circuit set up around the centre of the square. Across the square there is the Christmas market down the Nyhavn, where all sorts of grockle-ish souvenirs are on sale. The cafes provide blankets and brolleys with heaters for their ‘al fresco’ guests and much Jul Glogg and sausage can be bought and consumed. We soon headed for Bredgade to meet up with the rest of the party.
Le Sommelier is one of Copenhagen’s finest restaurants and we ate in one of their smaller rooms, being a party of nine. Some of us opted for their four course Christmas menu, others ate a la carte. The Christmas menu began with a lobster consommé with scallop ravioli; roasted cod with salted foie gras on celeriac mash; a main course of venison medallion served with a roast parsnip, dried cranberries and a cep sauce; and finally a cherry clafoutis. The a la carte choice was a warm goat’s cheese salad followed by fish of the day, which was flounder; and finally they chose pancakes with orange sauce and vanilla ice cream. It was so delicious and beautifully presented with a full explanation of each dish as it was served. We drank some lovely wine; first a Pouilly Fume and then Gevrey Chambertin, which was perfect with the venison.
When the meal was over, we again decided to walk back to the Marriott and this time we were joined by a majority of the diners wishing to aid digestion and thus a good night’s sleep. It was so enjoyable wandering back through the seasonally lit streets thronged with people all enjoying the crisp cold evening in Copenhagen. We said our goodnights and goodbyes as we all would go our separate ways tomorrow, and vanished up into our rooms. As I closed the curtains, I heard a few distant bangs and realised that somewhere there were fireworks. Yes! Just down by the bridge to the right of the hotel someone was having a display, and so our day was rounded off by a short celebratory firework display. What a fitting end to a day of celebration.

The Naming of Newbuild 210

Today is a special day as it is the naming day for AP Moller-Maersk’s Newbuild no 210. This ship is the last of a series of eight ultra panamax container ships – the E-series, which began in September 2006 with the launch of the much heralded Emma Maersk. The other vessels all have ‘E’ names – Estelle Maersk (Nov 06); Eleonora Maersk (Jan 07); Evelyn Maersk (Mar 07); Ebba Maersk (May 07); Elly Maersk (Aug 07) and Edith Maersk (Nov 07); and have been built at the Odense Steel Shipyard’s Lindo Yard.
We made the journey to the Lindo Yard in a bus with many other guests, all staying at the Marriott courtesy of A P Moller-Maersk; and we started out at 7.15am. Thank goodness breakfast was served on the bus, so we had an extra few minutes in bed! As we left Copenhagen, our guide enlightened us with facts and figures about Copenhagen, the Danes and life in general. Dawn broke and the mist slowly lifted from the fields. We spotted a few deer as we sped through the countryside, eating our rolls and drinking coffee or tea. Soon we were leaving Zealand behind, crossing by bridge to Funen. This bridge is in two parts and crosses from Korsor to Sprogo by suspension bridge, then from Sprogo to Nyborg by a box girder bridge. The suspension bridge (eastern bridge) is called the Storebaeltsbron and is 1624m long, which makes it the second longest suspension bridge in the world. Sprogo is a small natural island in the waters known as the Great Belt. It is now uninhabited and a nature reserve, but during the building of the bridge, archaeologists found that it was first inhabited some 8000 years ago. Once on Funen, it was not long before we arrived at Lindo Shipyard. Here we were given a short tour of the area, then we were taken to the quayside where Newbuild 210 was waiting for us.
We gathered in a marquee with some windows in its roof through which we could see the prow of this huge vessel. True to tradition, the name of the ship was shrouded in mystery and a long Danish flag! We waited just a short time for the sponsor to arrive. Lady Bond stepped from the car and two little boys dressed in sailor suits presented her with a posy of flowers, which she carried into the marquee, accompanied by the rest of the sponsor party. Then the head of Odense Steel Shipyard Ltd invited Lady Bond to step forward and name the vessel. This she did in the traditional style and the flag fell away from the name, revealing this to be ‘Eugen Maersk’. We all then cheered the ship and wished her good luck. The name is pronounced in a similar way to the word ocean but with zh instead of sh in the middle.

Now we were all invited on board to drink the health of the ship in champagne on the bridge. Its magnificent views were quite breathtaking – especially as we had just climbed up the equivalent of eighteen floors. We ventured outside and eventually managed to climb one more flight of stairs to the ‘sun deck’ over the bridge itself. But we had to see some of the facilities this giant ship had to offer its crew of 13, so we were lead down to the Captain’s quarters and those of the Chief Engineer; the saloon; and the laundry. We had gradually descended to deck level and all that remained were the three ladders over the side of the ship. Back down on terra firma, the ship towered over us and all we could do was marvel! This vessel is quite a bit bigger than the cruise ships we had seen towering over the city in Instanbul. Now we were treated to a superb lunch, prepared by one of Denmark’s top chef’s who just happens to have a restaurant close by. It was very good – a terrine of langoustine, Danish Marshland beef and a vanilla symphony for dessert. Wines matched the courses and speeches and conversation flowed.
You may think this would be the end, but there was more in store. Coffee was served in the training centre of the yard, and we walked across there, once more giving our coats to the attendants and taking seats around the circular tables. As we sat sipping coffee and nibbling homemade chocolates, the lights were gradually dimmed out and we could hear the sound of singing. We could see the flickering light of candles approaching down the staircase, and a procession of girls, all dressed in white and carrying candles appeared, led by one girl with a crown of lit candles on her head. She slowly brought the choir around the tables to the front and we were treated to a concert of Danish carols. This was the St. Lucia ceremony, which normally takes place on 13th December. As they processed away again, this was finally the end of the celebration of the naming of Eugen Maersk. The sun was dropping rapidly from the blue sky and we boarded our bus, heading for Copenhagen once more.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Gifts, Glitter and Glogg

After a long morning we really craved a cup of coffee, so racking our brains for the memory of a lovely café we had once visited, we remembered one in a small courtyard behind the Angleterre. We did find it, but still can’t remember its name! Here we ordered cappuccinos and Danish spice Christmas cake. This looked wonderful – a ring cake made with Christmas spices with a topping of figs, which is then covered with white icing. It was delicious, and we loved the cosy atmosphere with candles everywhere and lots of Danes enjoying it, too.
Feeling refreshed, we made our way out onto Stroget again, walking back to the Bodum shop, Ostergade – four floors of Bodum products as well as Ordning and Reda stationery. They were cooking tiny bread rolls and making hot chocolate in the Bodum Chocolatiere, which we were invited to taste. Scrumptious! But we had to move on, as the Georg Jensen shop was pulling us towards its glittering windows and warm interior. This is one of our favourite shops on Amagertorv where they sell the whole range of Georg Jensen Design. The Christmas department is lovely, with special Christmas designs for each year, and also in the basement there is a small exhibition if their old designs. If you are clever, you can wander through the door at the back of the shop into the Holmegaard/ Royal Copenhagen shop next door. Here again are floors of wonderful Danish design in glass and porcelain and at this time of the year, there are some stunning Christmas displays and annual plates and glasses to tempt you. In the passage between this and the next shop there is a café, which we by passed, and walked on into Illums Bolighus. More ideas for gifts – all those beautifully designed things you never knew you needed. It’s breathtaking! Luckily by now, we know that you can just feast your eyes on all this splendour without crippling your wallet, as you can really spend a lot of money on all those lovely things. So at last we dragged ourselves away to enjoy the atmosphere out in the pedestrian area: Christmas lights; music; food sellers; people dressed in all sorts of garb from t-shirts to fur coats; others practicing tricks such as ‘find the bean’ using three matchboxes; a man being a statue of a Viking; and lots more. It was dark now, and feeling a lot colder, so we decided that it was time for a glass of Jul Glogg. If, like me, you thought that this was just another version of mulled wine, you’d be wrong. We had a short seminar on it from the man who drove us in from the airport, who is a chef when he’s not driving. Apparently, where he 'chefs' they start by soaking raisins in brandy until they are plump with the liquor; red wine is mulled with Christmas spices; almonds are cut into slivers. The drink is then assembled with the raisins at the bottom of a heat proof glass with a handle. The mulled wine is poured over the top and then the whole is topped off with slivered almonds. It is generally served with small spice biscuits. But looking at recipes, it is more traditionally made with aquavit. I suspect every family has its own version. So, we went in search of a warming glass and were not disappointed. It looked perfect with plump raisins lurking at the bottom of our steaming glasses topped off with slivers of almonds; and there were the little spice biscuits on the side. They also persuaded us to have some more traditional Christmas sweetmeats. This time we were served three small yeasty dough balls that had been deep fried and drenched in icing sugar. Could these be a Danish variation of the Dutch Oliebollen? It certainly looked that way to us! Whatever, they were very tasty and would certainly fill the gap to dinner.
More window shopping and a stroll back to the Marriott and our room with a view, which took us all along the perimeter of Tivoli. The rides were now in full swing accompanied by screams as riders were twirled into the air and dropped to the ground. Rather them than me. The gardens did look lovely with the fairy lights in the trees and coloured lights reflected off the water in the lake. The Marriott is situated on the Kalvebod Brygge, overlooking the water separating the city from the island. In fact, if you know where to look you can see the bridge across Oresund to Sweden and the planes coming in to land at Kastrup. We dined in the hotel at the Terraneo Restaurant, where we had a delicious meal before retiring fairly early as we have another early start in the morning.

Funeral in Copenhagen

On Friday morning we got up at about four as a car would collect us at quarter to five to take us to Heathrow. We flew to Copenhagen on the first flight out of T3. Why did we have to start so early? Well, sadly, we had to go to the funeral of a colleague who was diagnosed with asbestosis just over a year ago and who died at the beginning of December. He had worked only for a short time in a bad environment, but he paid a terrible price. The funeral was held in the beautiful Kastelskirken within the star fortifications of Copenhagen’s Kastellet. This church dates from the early years of the eighteenth century and is painted in the typical ochre colour of many old Danish buildings. It is a rectangle with six windows arranged symmetrical along the long wall, around a central door with four pillars supporting a portico. The roof sweeps up and is crowned by a central bell lantern. We, however, entered by the north door in the short wall. The tall clear glass windows allow light to flood the interior, which is painted a silver grey. The pews of dark wood march away from you on either side of the central aisle, to the altar with its altar piece – three paintings set in ornate gold frames. To the right is the pulpit which also has ornate plasterwork around its ledge and the canopy, picked out in gold. Simple iron chandeliers hang from the ceiling and along with one beautiful model of an old Danish boat. On Friday, the central aisle was covered in bouquets of flowers of every colour – a rainbow leading down to our friend’s white coffin crowned with many, many red roses. Most of the pews were occupied, and we slipped into one at the back. Soon the bell started tolling and the pastor appeared at the altar to lead the service, which involved some beautiful singing, prayers and a sermon. It was quite simple, and when it came to an end, the male family members carried the coffin out of the church, walking either side of the ribbon of flowers, followed by the rest of the family and eventually all the congregation. The coffin was loaded into the hearse and the family said their final farewells. The back was closed and the hearse slid slowly away as we stood by the church door in the cold bright air. Now the congregation began to disperse; some back to work; others to join the family for refreshments on the Langelinie. As we decided not to join the latter (we don’t speak Danish and it seemed a bit much to expect people to speak English at such a time), we walked slowly away towards the centre of Copenhagen down Bredgade.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Our last evening

And the day's story

Today we planned the Bosphorus cruise. So were up early for the usual breakfast and then walked down to the Spice Market. We had to cross the road using the underpass, which is just like the Russian ones- full of market style shops. As we came up the underpass, there was a row of shoe shiners with gleaming brass contraptions for their polishes and brushes. We walked round the front of the mosque to the entrance of the bazaar. It is brightly lit as it is inside a brick arched gallery. Each shop has an array of spices - the most spectacular having cone piles of ground spices in warm autumn colours. Hanging from the overhead are strings of dried veg chillies and sponges. One string we couldn't recognise, so asked one of the vendors. He told us that it was dried aubergine, which they re-hydrate and then stuff with mince and/or rice with raisins, pinenuts and such. We were tempted into buying some apple tea from him - so we can take a taste of Istanbul home.
Soon we had to head off to get our tickets for the boat trip. Several people were already there and we only had a short wait before going into the waiting area. The boat arrived about ten minutes before departure and the small crowd of passengers hurried on board to find their favourite spots for the voyage. We chose a seat on the left upstairs and watched the sights on the Europian side of the Bosphorus. A large cruise boat was at anchor on the 'New' Euro side of the Golden Horn - Star Princess. It is enormous! There are about 5 stops as one progresses towards the Black Sea. Some palaces and villas (yalis) have been built along the way, which we were fascinated to see. After a speedy 1 ½ hours we arrived at Anadolu Kavagi, and here the boat stops for a 3 hour lunch break. We disembarked and took a stroll up the hill to the 14th century Byzantine fortress known as the Genoese Castle on the top. It seems to be built from an eclectic collection of bricks, stones and ruined Roman temples. But there is also a spectacular view to the Black Sea. On the way down we passed the puppet maker with a shop full of Pinocchios. Back down at the little fishing village we looked for lunch but didn’t fancy a set fishy 3 courses. Then we discovered a man making waffles with flavoured spreads and 'homemade' ice-cream'. As he also offered cappuccino, we succumbed. We chose waffles with chocolate and pistachio ice cream and another with hazelnut and coconut ice cream. First we were served our cappuccinos. Instant Nestle style -but OK! They were lovely people and we were pretty much their only customers.
After walking up the road and back again, we wandered along the harbour and suddenly encountered the captain of a small fishing boat. We 'talked' football, then he invited us aboard to take photos - amazing. He said it was too rough to go to fish in the Black Sea today.
Then it was time to re-board for the return journey. Again we sat on the left and viewed the Asian side as we motored down to Istanbul in a replica of the outward journey. This time as we came round into the Golden Horn, we saw another cruise ship was in port - Galaxy, but not quite the size or elegance of the Star Princess.
When we docked, we disembarked, and then walked back through the Spice Market and on to Cigdem for tea, coffee and shortbread biscuits.
Our last walk down the tram rack to the GH and packing as we found out that the car will be here for us at 6.30 in the morning. We have come to dinner at Rumeli Restaurant, next to Mozaic. We started with mezze and cheesy pastries, with a glass of raki. This was followed by stuffed chicken and kofta accompanied with glass of 'Angora' red wine - good but not as good as last nights. No pud, but apple tea, then back to bed because of the early start.

Down the Bosphorus

Anadolu Kavagi

Sailing up the Bosphorus

Around the Spice Market, Istanbul

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Day two part two

Feeling very thirsty, we came back to the Guest House and took the water from the minibar, before making our way down to the harbour on the Bosporus to discover from where the ferry up the Bosporus leaves. That will be our trip tomorrow. On or way out we found a shop selling postcards of the Iznik tiles, so bought a few, then we also found some typical Istanbul views a bit further along. The 'promenade' was thronged with people coming in and going out on the continual to-ing and fro-ing ferries. The actual quayside was crowded with men and a few women, fishing with huge rods and weighted lines with several baited hooks. Some were quite successful at catching small fish - not sure what these would be. Fish of various kinds was being cooked on hot grills, slapped in finger buns and sold by the dozens! There were also the mussel sellers - splitting open what looked like raw mussels for their customers to eat there and then - no cooking, no garnish, straight down the hatch like oysters. It was a very vibrant scene. And of course, there were lots of chestnut barrows wafting their warm aroma around the crowds.
Now, we suddenly felt peckish, but not for fish! A cappuccino and something sounded good, so we retraced our steps looking for a likely place. At last we were back on our main street, and we came to Cigdem Pastanesi, where they serve fabulous baklava and coffee. Just what we needed. Then we strolled down to the Guest House in the gathering gloom, sussing out various restaurants for dinner later.
We have come to eat in Mosaic Restaurant, which is a small (seating 20) place just below street level. We are starting with a glass of Yeni Raki while we order. Some hummus and flat bread has arrived as a taster. We have ordered grilled aubergine with yoghurt and cream (Patlican Sogurme) followed by Black Plum Stew, (Kara Eric Yahnisi)lamb stewed with mushroom, apricot, onions and dried black plums; and Ottoman lamb dish with rice - with raisins, pinenuts and liver with cinnamon.(Kuzu Sultan) music was great - Bende Can Yurdaltokcan ‘inner soul’. We finished with Turkish tea before walking back up the hill to the Guest House. And on the way we saw one of the red barrows parked up for the night by a beautiful silk wall hanging!

The morning of day 2

Not quite so early into breakfast as we did our own thing today. Our first stop was to take some pics of the restored houses that make up the hotel. Then we made our way into the first courtyard of Topkapi Palace and out at the side, for the Archaeological Museum. We first stepped into the Ancient Oriental building where we saw many ancient sculptures as well as the animal tile reliefs from Babylon. After this we went along to the historical pavilion housing the tile museum. It is partially covered with tiles in a geometric pattern with secular verses in Arabic over the entrance. Inside is an interesting exhibition of the history of ceramics in Turkey as well as several rooms which are decorated with beautiful blue tiles; some were even gilded and have been restored in part to show the sumptuousness of the pavilion in its time. Outside again, we looked for the peacock feather column from the Temple of Theodosius. It is similar to the Column of Tears in the Basilica Cistern. We decided to go and to look for PCs, but the Topkapi Museum shop was a dead loss, so after looking outside, we decided to walk up to the Madresesi which we overlook from our room. It is a craft centre, government funded, and anyone can come and take a class there in ceramics, calligraphy, lute and flute playing, silver work, painting and marbling. We were greeted by a young man who explained all about the place and showed us the various rooms for the classes. We saw the lute class, the silversmiths, the calligraphists and the painters. We also found one man on his own practising the flute - needing more practise! Finally we watched some women making pictures on marble paper. This was fascinating, and we watched from start to finish. They first built up the paint for the marble background on the surface of the water/gum mixture in the trough. When they were happy with that design, they started to make the flower design over the top of this. Blobs of green were manipulated into stems and leaves and blobs of colour were spread out and twirled around to form the flowers. When everything was finished, the artist took a piece of paper and laid it over the surface. It was then slid over the edge of the trough and the clever design all came off onto the paper, leaving the 'water' in the trough clean for the next turn. The paper was then laid flat on a mesh rack to dry.
All this was thirsty work, so we sat in the courtyard and drank apple tea with cinnamon biscuits - delicious. We couldn’t decide what to buy, so left, saying hello to 2 tiny kittens on the way out. We were still searching for PCs, so walked down to the Sultanahmet Sq. between the two mosques - but no pics of the tiles. We were now very close to the Arasta Bazaar/ craft area and the Mosaic Museum, so we walked down to the left of the Blue Mosque and into the Bazaar. At the far side we found the Mosaic Museum with its stunning many meters long pavement of mosaic, which has been preserved and covered with the museum building. This was position of the Great Palace of the Byzantine Emperors. Restoration has been painstaking and the results are spectacular. It’s a shame so much has been lost, though.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Istanbul - our first full day

Breakfast was in the Garden Room and there were figs much to Alan’s delight! We met our guide, Ria, at 9.15 and left on foot for the Basilica Cistern. This dates from 532, and was built as a water reservoir for the Great Palace of Justinian. It has 336 columns each 8m high, which were brought from all over the Roman Empire, so there are many different ones. These include two finer, shorter columns, which are 'propped up' on massive Medusa heads. Also the Column of Tears, where we stuck our thumbs in a hole and twisted it a full circle while making a wish. The columns are eerily lit from below and about a metre depth of water is still contained in the structure where fishes swim, and some people throw in coins for good luck. They hold concerts of chamber music here in the summer.
Our next visit was the Ayasofya Museum. This church/mosque was the biggest church in Byzantium. Its dome was 32m in diameter, but subsequent earthquakes have knocked it out of shape. The last one in 1999 has done considerable damage and a huge scaffolding now occupies considerable space inside. It is interesting to see how the Ottomans converted the church to a mosque by covering over the Christian symbols with Islamic words. We could still see quite a lot of the original mosaics. The best one was as we left, mirrored in front of us to make us turn round to see it.
Now we walked across to the Blue Mosque as it would close for prayers at 11.30. Lots of people were visiting, and we had to walk through the courtyard with its extra two minarets and central fountain, and around the corner to the non-Muslim entrance. Shoes off and carried with us in poly bags, we entered into the mosque, which is covered in blue Iznik tiles of various designs. It is a huge space, completely carpeted and having low slung chandeliers of black metal with lots of plain glass cups for lights. There is also a lot of stained glass windows in Islamic style, aping the glass from the Byzantine era.
We replaced our shoes and made our way to the Topkapi Palace Museum. This was the palace of the Ottoman Emperors, and was added to by each successive ruler. There are some beautiful areas, some are set as rooms of the time, and others are exhibition areas. We saw the Spoonmakers diamond (86 carat) and the Topkapi Dagger with its three huge emeralds, as well as many, many cabochon emeralds of enormous size. Golden thrones and ceremonial swords are also on display; but no photographs are allowed for obvious reasons! We stopped for coffee and pastries with a view of the Golden Horn and the Bosporus, before moving on to look at the fabulously decorated pavilions in the fourth courtyard – the Circumcision Pavilion and others.
At last it was time to visit the delightful harem, or private apartments of the Emperor and his family. There were eunuch quarters, concubine quarters as well as the family quarters. We also saw the Sultan's and the Queen Mother's hamam. (QM seems to be the most powerful woman in the Harem). It is a very luxurious place.
Ria arranged for us to visit a carpet makers, where we had a demonstration of the double-knot carpet weaving; also a display of some beautiful carpets with detailed explanation of each with a few prices thrown in! We also had refreshments of Turkish coffee (medium with a little sugar) and apple tea.
Now at last we headed for the Grand Bazaar, and having noted our entrance gate's name, Ria gave us instructions on how to walk back to our hotel. So she left us to wander about the labyrinth of passageways lined with shops selling everything you never knew you wanted to buy!
We must have been tired as after not too long a time we decided that was enough, so sought our exit and wandered back to follow the tram track leading us to Ayasofya and the guest house.
The hotel made a reservation at the Istanbul Balik (fish) Restaurant, where we had a huge grilled prawn each for starters, then a steamed, whole snapper; caught in the Bosporus and covered in tasty liquor. Finishing with a glass of Turkish tea; we were whisked back to the GH by the mad driver of the restaurant Hyundai MPV at breakneck speed.

Carpets, Bazaar and fish

Harem, Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Topkapi Palace, Istanbul

Blue Mosque, Istanbul

Ayasofya, Istanbul

Basilica Cistern, Istanbul

Konuk Evi, the Guest House

Friday, November 23, 2007

Long weekend in Istanbul - Arrival

We flew BA to Ataturk Airport, Istanbul and were met by pleasant young man and mpv with driver. The sun set as we drove along the coast road by the Sea of Marmara into Istanbul. We are staying in the Guest House, Konuk Evi, of the Konaklari Ayasofya - the renovated street of wooden merchant houses behind Ayasofya. Our 2nd floor room has brass bedsteads, ruffled curtains, crystal chandelier and looks out over the roof tops of the old Caferaga Madresesi (1560) and beyond. Konaklari Ayasofya are between Ayasofya and Topkapi Palace. We have taken quite a walk about for a couple of hours, including coffee at a Turkish style Costa (cinnamon pastry and almond and choc cake). The cappuccino was served with chocolate spoons, which gradually melted into the capps. The mosques are floodlit and we had the lengthy muezzin at 6pm from several simultaneously. There are some interesting shops - as well as tourist rubbish - and also many shops offering tours all over Turkey such as Cappadocia, Ephesus, Nemrut Dagi and the calcium platforms of Pamukkale. Dinner is in the Sarnic(h), an ancient 1500 year old cistern with 7m high columns. We chose mezze and dolmas as starters and chef's special Sarnic kebabs with yoghurt and our red wine is Kavaklidere Okuzgozu Elazig 2002 13%. Having eaten all that we are so full we can't manage the delicious sounding desserts - like figs in honey or banana crepes with chocolate sauce; but just choose mint tea. The virtuous piano player plays on and the candles slowly burn down.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Archaeology in Smannell

This morning we all managed to gather for a not too late breakfast – bacon, eggs, sausages, toast, croissants and pains au chocolat. After all that, what better thing to do but take a stroll in the countryside? Our friends had a suggestion that we visit an archaeological dig not far from their house and this is what we did. There is a plan to build a huge estate of houses several fields from the edge of Smannell village, but before the builders can start some archaeological remains are being investigated. These have been known about for years as there were barrows on the hillside, but generations of farmers have just ploughed over them. Now the area is being completely disturbed to build the houses, the site is being investigated and recorded. On one side of the road the hill rises up and here ‘beaker’ people remains have been found. Apparently one burial was found and some fragments. On the opposite side of the road, two Bronze Age circles have been excavated with no clear meaning to the sites. This area is rich in archaeology as there are Roman, Norman and Anglo-Saxon sites within sight of these recent discoveries. For more about the ‘Beaker’ people click here.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Fireworks at Smannell

This year we have visited the village of Smannell to ‘celebrate’ Guy Fawkes Night. Smannell is an ancient settlement and the name is thought to be derived from the old English name 'Smethenhyll' – “(at the) smooth hill', a reference to the gentle rise near Finkley farm. Apparently by 1652 the name was condensed to Smanhill and in 1810 the OS map is inscribed with the name Swanhill – is this a spelling mistake? But today the village is known as Smannell.

Our friends invited us for a cup of tea before we made our way up the road to the stubble field where Farmer Will had allowed the Little London playing field committee to build an enormous bonfire. Fairy lights lit the path to the cordoned off area where spectators would get the best view of the entertainment; and plenty of mulled wine, hotdogs and burgers were ready for consumption. We sipped at our polycups of wine, not allowed to eat as dinner awaited us at our friends’ house. The crowds gathered and the anticipation of the younger members was palpable. Soon the bonfire was lit and the rosy glow reflected off the cheery faces of the onlookers. I found a post on which to rest my camera and before long the chaps in charge of the fireworks signalled the start of the display with a swishing skyborn rocket. Then the fun began as rockets flew skywards, with or without sound effects – we used to call those noisy ones ‘bees’. Chrysanthemums of light filled the sky and oohs and aahs reverberated around the spectators. And suddenly it was all over, only leaving the bonfire glowing in the darkness and the opportunity of more mulled wine and sustenance to be partaken of! So it was back to the house for a delicious dinner with friends.

Monday, September 03, 2007

This used to be The Middlesex Hospital and my place of work when I first came to London. Now it is looking a lot sadder; but hopefully will rise up once more in its reincarnation as rather splendid apartments. Very convenient for all that goes on in London - and who needs a car with all that on your doorstep! I certainly couldn't afford one when I worked here, and there was definitely no parking except for those exalted consultants! Walking back to West Kensington to save the bus fare was quite the norm - through Hyde Park in the summer, such a treat; dark winter evenings had us rushing for the tube or bus! But life moves on, and at least they haven't demolished the building - yet!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Summer trip to Norway

Our last day on the road as tonight we are back in Stavanger. We needed to be away fairly promptly as we had found a few places we would like to visit on our way as well as needing to catch a couple of ferries. We drove some way to Kvam/ Norheimsund to find the old ship building museum. In the town, we couldn’t find anything, but we had a good walk round and even stopped for coffee. We found a lovely craft shop close by and spent some time looking at their stock. It turned out that the boat building museum was further down the road, and so we drove on and in no time we were turning into the car park. We were invited to take a tour with the guide at midday, which was fine with us. She was very informative and we saw some wonderful examples of the work they carry out at the yard. Their pride and jot is the Mathilde, a sailing ship that was completely renovated at the yard. But we were not able to see her as she was away sailing that day. We did see the rope making loft and tried our hand at making a length of rope. This you can see in the slide show.

The yard also had a great cafe and they made us delicious sandwiches for lunch. The people here recommended a pottery just down the road, so off we went to find it. It was a bit off the beaten track, and we quite like the pottery, but the highlight was the flock of white turkeys in an adjoining field. These were not all happy and we did witness some fisticuffs between a couple of them. Now we had a long drive to get to the ferries as we headed for Stavanger after a great tour of some of the best scenery in Norway.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Summer trip to Norway

We woke to see the mist swirling in again. One minute we could see the view, the next, the mist was up against the windows. Quite amazing and eerie. After breakfast, we drove down to Undredal to see the stave church there. It is the smallest church in Norway and is quite different from other stave churches we have seen. It is painted white with red windows and doors. The mist was still swirling around, and there were moisture droplets on the spiderwebs on the plants nearby. Our plan was to walk up the valley to see the Naeroyfjord, up which we sailed yesterday. We found the start of the trail, left D in the car and began our ascent. It wasn’t too bad to start with, but gradually got steeper. The sun came out and soon we were all getting pretty hot. Perhaps we were all tired, but it was obvious that we weren’t going to make it all the way to the view as we didn’t seem to be making huge progress on the track. We did get to a lovely waterfall and decided to stop for our lunch here, and then walk back. We could see the track going on and on, with no sign of a view over the top. We found some wild berries and lots of flowers again – and also a chubby beetle.

On our way down we met some goats – fine, but then they started following us. This was also OK, but then they started pushing us off the track, leaping ahead and waiting for us to do it all again. This wasn’t any fun as they brushed against us leaving their strong smell behind, too. We were very pleased to get back down to the car, from where D had been watching us and the pesky animals. We decided to take a drive to Flam for refreshments. This is a busy town, with its ferry and the Flam railway, it is full of tourists. We found a not too busy café and enjoyed a cup of tea looking out over the pedestrianised quayside. There were lots of shops selling Norwegian sweaters and trolls – yes, very touristic!
So we headed back to Stalheim, through the tunnel and up the old track, which twisted steeply round the hillside. We stopped for pics of the waterfall, and even managed to spot the hotel up above us.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Summer trip to Norway

Today we left early, leaving most of Lom having a Sunday lie-in! Our first stop would be at Urnes Stave Church, a UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS), but first we crossed the Sognefjellet with spectacular views of the Jotenheim and the glaciers. Here the snow is stained pink by the lichen growing on it. Road 55 is quite famous as it snakes across the mountains, eventually dropping down to the fjord. We were lucky to be able to park up by the church as there was a small market being set up outside it. Dougal’s crutches worked wonders! We bought our tickets to enter Urnes Stave Church and waited in the church yard for our tour of the beautiful little church. It was declared a WHS in 1979 and is the oldest preserved church, dating from the 12th century. It is now owned by the Society for the Preservation of Norwegian Ancient Monuments. Although there are 28 of these ancient churches left – from an original 1000, Urnes is the oldest and the most decorated. You can see how lovely it is from the surviving carvings on the outside and the interior lives up to expectations, although no photographs are allowed inside. If you want to know more, visit the Society’s website .

We needed to get our ferry, so drove just over the road to the terminal and took the short ferry across the fjord; then off again, as we had our second ferry to catch that would take us up Naeroyfjord, another WHS. This is a very dramatic fjord, which is narrow with steep sides. On a sunny summer’s day the beauty of its landscape must be breathtaking. On our trip, it was rainy, misty and mysterious. The cliffs soared up into the clouds; waterfalls appeared out of the mist; and the water was grey and still. But it was quite an experience.
Our destination was Gudvangen, from where we drove up to the historic hotel, Stalheim. The road itself is an experience with hairpin bends to test the driver and several spectacular waterfalls. Our rooms overlook the terrace with views right down the Naeroy valley, which is alternately filled with mist and cloud, then clear enough to see the winding road down the valley following the river.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Summer trip to Norway

We began today by looking round the interesting Stave Church at Lom. This is very popular and many people had the same idea. Nevertheless, we were able to look round before the church closed as there was going to be a wedding in the afternoon. We enjoyed a coffee and cake inside Bakaret as the rain came on. It was hopping in there, but Dougal found us a table where we could sit sipping our coffee and nibbling our cakes.

We thought we would try and take a drive up into the mountains, but wherever we went, the weather was fairly bad – no views. We did get to cabin where we stopped for tea, looking out across the lake to the peaks. Eventually we came back to the main road and called in to see the Saga Column, which was erected in its present position in 1992. It had been intended to sit outside parliament when it was designed in 1926. and it represents Norwegian history from 872 -1814. There was, apparently some controversy about it and it wasn’t until 1992 when Mr. Elveseter gave it a home here in Bovredal. It is 34m high with Viking lord on the top.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Summer trip to Norway

Our walk began from the Spiterstulen Cabin, where we left D to his own devices. We took lunch and aimed to walk up to a tongue of the Heilstugu Glacier. It was a lovely day and we enjoyed the trek - very few other walkers, and those that we did come across were soon lost in the huge scenery. The views around us were stupendous, and we turned left up the hillside just before a bridge. Up and up we walked, and came across a gushing waterfall - no doubt melt water from the glacier. As the path bore round to the right, the glacier was visible looking up this valley. It must have retreated in recent times as there is a large gravelly area in front of it. We lunched and looked around us, and spotted a herd of reindeer across the valley high on the far hillside. We counted about twenty five altogether. We also saw many flowers in this alpine area.

Returning to the cabin we found D sunbathing with his Tshirt off - it was good weather! But no sitting around, we headed off for Galdhoppingen for some spectacular scenery. This drive is up a twisting toll road, climbing to 1900m from where you are surrounded by snowy peaks. The Cabin is home to a summer skiing area. On the way down again, we saw even more reindeer - maybe about 40.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Summer trip to Norway

We left 'Musk Ox Country' and drove towards Vaga. We took a few side tracks to look at the mountains and the views. In Vaga we visited their lovely stave church. They are having the roof repaired and there were stacks of new wooden tiles ready to go on. Years of preservative has stained the wood, so it almost olooks burnt and the 'door furniture' must date from the eighteenth century, along with the church.

We can't go too long without a coffee or some other refreshment, and found several places to choose from in the village. We eventually had coffee and delicious cakes at Verstaahjornet Kafe from where we bought mandelstang for later! What a beautiful morning, sitting in the sun.

Back to the car and a little more driving brought us to Glitterheim with its wonderful vistas, cosy hytte and tasty waffles. Coming away from the hytta we found some reindeer, including one quite unusual white one. Then we drove down on to Lom, where we are staying for the next few days, at Fossheim Hotel. We had plenty of time to walk through the town to the National Fjellmuseum, where we discovered all about the fauna, flora and geology around us.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Summer trip to Norway

We drove down one of the side roads recommended by the guide; and we found a herd of musk oxen, so D got to see them at last! He also pointed out some of the huge peaks around us, including Snohetta, the highest peak in Norway outside the Jotunheimen.
But waffles were calling, and we made our way across to Galdhopingen along roads with spectacular views and wildlife. The people at the Galdhopingen hytte made us some delicious waffles in their cosy place.

Then we drove through Grimsdalen - where the bench provided a great place to see the view from. And we came out of the toll road which was marked with the different post decorations! So we came back for our last evening at Kongsvold, which did not disappoint and even provided this lovely sunset as a farewell present.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Summer trip to Norway

Our first full day at Kongsvold, and we had arranged to meet the guide at 9.30 to start our trek to find the musk oxen. Sadly Dougal couldn't come with us, so had a day to himself. We three set off and were soon climbing up to the plateau where the musk oxen live. We passed through the forest area where they shelter in the winter, and kept on upwards to come out on the plateau, which is rather boggy heathland. To start with we couldn't see any animals; then spotted one lone male up to our left on the hillside. Our guide decided we should stop for lunch before approaching the beast, so we found a suitable area. One of the group was constantly scanning the hillside with powerful binos and suddenly spotted a herd of oxen quite some way off. Our guide unpacked his telescope and set it up so we could all get a prime view. That was quite a sighting!

Now it was time to creep up the near hillside and get as close as possible to the large male we had seen earlier. It was quite a steep climb, but soon we were all grouped just below the ridge. Our guide explained that we had to keep most of our bodies below the ridge as we advanced. If not the musk ox would up and walk off. We managed to get plenty of photos, before the musk ox got fed up of heads popping up to look at him, and away he walked! It was a wonderful experience. So we headed back to find D and tell him all about it.
 Back at Kongsvold, Dougal asked our guide if there was anywhere not too far off a drivable track from where we could see the musk ox - so we could take Dougal to see them tomorrow. We got some good tips and hope that tomorrow that's just what we will do.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Summer trip to Norway

Something of a driving day; but that didn't mean boring. The views along the way are spectacular. We drove from Geilo towards the Jotunheimen, skirting the edge of the giants to a stop for waffles at Gjendesheim Cabin.

Back on the road, Ridderspranget or Knights Leap was our next destination, where the waterfall has cut down into the rock. Apparently, a knight escaped the wrathful father of his beloved by leaping across the chasm, saving both of them from certain death. We refrained from heroics, and appreciated the beauty of the place.

Late in the afternoon we arrived at Kongsvold, which is another Historic Hotel of Norway. It is a really pretty place, and we have some gorgeous rooms decorated in the traditional Norwegian style. The cuisine here is superb - Michelin Star levels. How lucky we are!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Summer trip to Norway

We took the train to Finse - as there are no roads into here, it is the only way unless you walk, ski or bike. We planned to walk to the edge of the glacier to see the blue ice. Dougal came quite a long way with us and we stopped for lunch before he headed back and we pressed on to the glacier. When we arrived, there was a party of folk on a trek across the glacier, advancing very slowly, roped together for safety. We took some photos and then headed back to FInse and hot chocolate and biscuits. Alan found Dougal in the hytte, snoozing by a log fire! Very cozy. We caught the express train back to Geilo, which sped on to Oslo as its final destination.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Summer trip to Norway


The first day of the trek took us up Hardangerfjord where we stopped at the Cherry Festival in Ullandsvang. Luckily the rain cleared by the time we got here. Then we drove on to the park centre in Eidsfjord and further on to the Hardangervidda to view the lovely ribbon waterfall. Even Dougal managed to get up here on crutches, if a little slowly. We spent our first night in Dr. Holms Hotel, one of the historic hotels of Norway.

Dinner at Dr Holms Hotel

Saturday, July 07, 2007


This auspicious date took us on an expedition to Brighton. Our intention was to re-visit the glories of the Royal Pavilion with a friend who had not been there before. It was a lovely day, and after our drive and a rather fraught hunt for somewhere to leave the car, our first stop was for a Costa coffee. Suitably refreshed we walked through the Lanes, soon arriving at the entrance to the Royal Pavilion. We walked in under the portico and bought our tickets and received our audio guides. Then began the adventure. As we had not really looked at the exterior of the building, our guest was to be suitably impressed with the opulent interior in the first instance.
The Royal Pavilion was built for the Prince Regent, fulfilling a dream he had had ever since renting a so-called 'modest' farmhouse in the late 1700s. His first villa, on the farmhouse site, designed by Henry Holland(1787), was built over by John Nash, using wrought iron frameworks. Nash took his inspiration from the domed Indian style stables George commissioned from William Porden (1803). Nash's building took seven years to complete and George loved it straight away. Every detail, inside and out, was finished to the highest standards; giving it an opulence hardly to be believed.
We walked down the Long Gallery, where guests of the Prince Regent would gather before dinner. Many guests came only for dinner, arriving in carriages and alighting at the doorway to enter through the Octagon Hall with its tented ceiling. The Long Gallery is filled with many Chinese treasures, which would have fascinated the guests as the waited for the moment when they were invited to enter the Banqueting Room. You can only gasp and look slowly around in order to take in the stunning decor of this unbelievable room. The huge chandelier which hangs in the 45 foot dome in the clutches of a silver dragon, is 30 feet high and one ton in weight. Everywhere you look are exotic decoratons incorporating lotus flowers and dragons. Guests must have been almost overwhelmed with the opulence; you would certainly know that this was a Royal residence
(Photo from the Pavilion official website)

What the guests didn't see, we were able to observe - the quarters where the suitably exotic dinners were prepared and served from. The Great Kitchen is set out as it would be for one of the many coursed dinners, George was know to host. It must have been an amazing place to work in, whether you were the head chef or the lowliest of the kitchen staff. We then moved back through the other side of the stunning Banqueting Hall and on into a succession of drawing rooms, to where the guests retired after their dinner.
Beyond these is the dazzling Music Room. It was designed by Frederick Crace and many people think that this is the most beautiful room in the Royal Pavilion. It is looking wonderful these days, but has been devastingly damaged over the years. A fire in 1975 severely damaged the room, and in 1987 the infamous hurricane dislodged a stone ball which crashed through the ceiling, embedding itself in the newly restored carpet. Now it has been returned to its former glory - and what glory that is!
There are also the King's Apartments and upstairs, other bedrooms as well as various exhibition rooms. All are suitably decorated including some of the original furniture of the Pavilion made from real or imitation bamboo. All this and they have also managed to fit in the Queen Adelaide Tearoom, on the first floor.
Now it was time to venture outside into the Pavilion Gardens. From here there is a wonderful view of the building. Its towers, domes and minarettes are fabulous as befits a Royal residence - and just begged to be photgraphed. The changing light reflects its many colours off the Bath stone and stucco. You can imagine yourself in some far off exotic destination, but for the very British flowers surrounding you. The Gardens are being restored to as close to Nash's original plans as possible.