Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The FAMOUS and WONDEFUL Magpie fish taster!

As an addition to the last blog, I thought you might like to see why I LOVE the food at the Magpie so much. THIS little beauty is the 'fish taster'. It has SO many different flavours, and is never the same twice, as they use what's in season and available.
I must say, the four times I have had it, it has been top drawer! I love ALL the food at the Magpie, but this one is my particular favourite.
After a good 15 minutes - the damage is evident! The poor fish never stood a CHANCE! Yes - I ate it all - yes, call me 'shellfish' if you like!


(Applause from the sidelines)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Whitby folk week

This weekend saw the Whitby folk week take place. As one of my hobbies is playing the bodhran (pronounced BOW-ron), I have been going to the festival for years. It's a great week, although I usually only stay for four days as by then I am played out and ready for a rest! If the weather is good, the streets as well as the pubs are alive with music. Not just 'finger in yer ear' type stuff, but all sorts of folk music and dance. Another of my hobbies is walking, so I also get to walk the cliffs by the sea. I LOVE the sea, and wish I lived nearer to it.
The view of the harbour, from the 99 steps up to the abbey, is a classic. Here it is, taken from about a third of the way up the steps. The weather forecast was for mostly rain and showers, but the whole weekend was like you see here, apart from one or two little squalls.
Once you get ensconced in a pub, the mood and music take over and it's all for one - one for all! These impromptu sessions are my favourite. There are LOTS of organised concerts, with luminaries from the folk music world, but this is where the bare bones of the tradition are to be found. Sometimes you can't get into the pubs, especially if word has got around that one of the greats is at that session, which often happens.
One of the things I also look forward to is eating fish and chips, REAL fish and chips - the sort you only find at a fishing port. The Mecca is, of course, the famous Magpie cafe, opposite the fish dock. Some of our greatest chefs have eaten here and declared it the best! I had to go and check for myself, and after doing that many years ago, and becoming a convert, I now visit at least once, but often more, each time I go, Judging by the constant queues at most times of the year, many, many others have the same view as me. This, naturally, leads to queuing outside - something I and many others are QUITE prepared to do. If it rains, staff come out with Magpie umbrellas so you won't get too wet! The food, staff and ambience just CAN'T be beat, and I have been served by my favourite waitress Maureen, for as long as I've been going.
A fly has appeared in the ointment though, as some of the neighbours (from hell) of the Magpie have complained to the council. I mean - we CAN'T have people being more successful than them - CAN we?? I am amazed and incensed that the council even BOTHERED to respond, but respond they HAVE and, instead of actually BACKING the success of the Magpie, decided to make their life difficult by insisting on trying to make people queue ACROSS the road! I have written to the council concerned at; about this ridiculous situation. They should be applauding the Magpie for all the business and visitors they bring into the town, NOT getting on their case!
Here is the daft situation - see the 'pedestrian waiting area' across the road (and SEE how a passing car could present danger to people crossing the road to eat???). ONLY the council would make you queue at the side of rubbish bins before going to eat - CHARMING!

Here is how it was and should be left - people happy to queue

The place I love to stay is called 'Holmleigh' This place is run by a brick ***house called Kev, and his lovely wife Carol. Kev is a gentle giant (as long as you don't cross him), and is PERFECT f'ront of house'. NOTHING is too much trouble for them, and if you act like an adult, there are no rules, just come, enjoy, make yourself at home. The house is kept lovely, and the breakfast is one of the best. Here are the happy couple - aren't they lovely?

So, that's it for another year, folk music wise, at Whitby, but my love of the place means it won't be long before I'm back - I need a 'fix' at regular intervals!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Norway pics, posting two

Here are the second lot of photo's of Norway. I have had some strange effects trying to upload these, and some wouldn't go, but I hope these are OK.

This first one is one from the deck at sun up. I got up most mornings at 05:00 to see the sunrise, and believe me, it was WELL worth it! If you go to somewhere like Norway, you have to get as much out of it as you can. It's not a stay up late and lie-in holiday - that's not what it's about. It's a see as much as you can holiday. I did have a 03:00am late night, but that was on a sea day!

Once the sun had risen, this was the sort of view and colours we got. As the holiday progressed, it just got better and better. I feel SO lucky to have had what I did in Norway. As I have said, it was a dream location, and the dream was as lovely as it could have been.

I decided to book a trip to the Briksdal glacier (pics of that later) and that was stunning. However, for me, the trip up the valley TO the glacier held the most beauty! This valley was singularly the best and most beautiful place I have ever been to, and I mean that! I took LOADS of pictures, and I hope they can convey a little of what it was like.

The lake was still, llike a big mirror. All around were high mountains and steep walls of rock.

This was the view from the car park of the Briksdal glacier. Again, a really stunning place with waterfall after waterfall - all glacier fed. The area hadn't had a lot of rain, in fact they have had a good summer like us, but there was NO shortage of water here, the glaciers saw to that.

This waterfall was the DADDY! The thundering sound could be heard from 1/2 a mile away! Here, we had just crossed a bridge where we got a soaking in lovely, cold spray. I must admit, we deliberately walked slowly and enjoyed the cold shower on what was a very hot day.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

PERFECT Norway cruise!

Well, I've just had a really TERRIFIC time in Norway, courtesy of P&O and the wonderful Arcadia! The sea was flat all the time, the sun shone every day, and the scenery - WOW!!!!!!! I have never had such a great holiday, only problem is, I put back 1/2 a stone in weight :-) If you could SEE the food, I ate in Gary Rhodes restaurant, and the Orchid Thai, and of course, the rest of the time I was WELL fed by the Meridian restaurant. This is the third time I've cruised, but this was by FAR the best!
No - it's not me walking on water - I am actually on the roof of a boat on the glacial lakes of Olden. The views just got better and better.
This cloudy-looking scene was at about 5:00am. I got up every morning at that time to watch the lovely sunrises, and also made sure i saw every sunset too.
You can see the glacier on the top of the fjord in this picture.
The sides are incredibly steep, and the depth of the fjord can be anything up to 3,000 METRES deep.

This photo can not do this scene justice. I can tell you, I and the dozen or so other people on the decks that morning were absolutely mesmerised by things. It was just so beautiful and serene, very moving.
Here, the sun is up, and the sky is once again blue. This was how all the days went, and it was great, but it DID tend to 'burn out' photo's, that's why the best ones were taken either later on at night, or early in the morning.
I left the Arcadia at Eidfjord and climbed part of the way up the side fjord wall until it was too difficult to go any further, and I was rewarded with this picture of 'our lady' at rest in the harbour.
A self-portrait of me on a rock at Eidfjord.
This was one of many, many fabulous waterfalls. With the fjords being so steep-sided, it was waterfall heaven! The best one was still to come at Olden, BUT this one will do for now.
That's all for now, but I took just under 1,000 pictures! I also went up in a sea plane at Bergen, so I'll post more pictures later - so please call in again in a few days (oh - and sign the guest book).