Local Heart, Global Soul

September 9, 2013

An Early Start and Two Foodie Firsts…

Filed under: Canterbury,ENGLAND,FOOD,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer Family Kiwidutch took our visiting Singaporean friend “Velvetine” (I’m using her internet nickname for privacy reasons) on holiday with us, and had a lot of fun together. At this stage of our journey we have stayed the night at a Travel Lodge motel just outside of  the city of Canterbury in Kent, England.

It’s an early start because we have an appointment later today and want to cram in as much as possible before that.

Last evening when Himself and Velvetine arrived back from the train station, the Little Chef restaurant close by was only minutes away from closing, but Velvetine picked up a menu and squealed with delight when she read a few things off the breakfast menu.

The Travel Lodge motel had very basic amenities and there was no breakfast room. Instead, on arrival it was possible to order a “breakfast pack” for the next morning, which if I’m honest sounded distinctly unappetising when Himself read out the details of them yesterday so I declined the offer. I take that back today because when the breakfast packs arrived in the morning they were actually rather good. There were packets of milk, juice and cereal and I think a muffin and some fruit… and the kids demolished it in the car as we drove into the city.

We wanted to get out and about early today so Velvetine and I were the first customers at the Little Chef when the doors opened. No cooked English breakfast or anything too time consuming today though… we are going back for the items the Velvetine spied last evening.

She had seen a “sausage sandwich” and a “bacon butty” on the menu and since both of these were new Foodie items for me I decided to give one of them a go for breakfast. I’ve sort-of had a sausage sandwich before:  it’s a Kiwi tradition to wrap a sausage from the barbeque in a piece of buttered bread for kids to hold and eat…  and whilst what Velvetine had today was much the same, it looked far more like a traditional sandwich.

I opted instead for the “bacon butty” which turns out to be a bacon sandwich and we both enjoyed or breakfasts very much. Himself is an early riser so breakfasted before anyone else was out of bed, so he opted to pack the suitcases in the van whilst the rest of us munched and this efficient use of time enabled us to be on the road bright and early. Today we are heading back into Canterbury…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 8, 2013

Restaurant Little Chef… A Big Hit on All Levels…

Filed under: Cafe and Restaurant Reviews,Canterbury,ENGLAND,FOOD,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

We’ve been to a Little Chef restaurant before, some years ago when we came over for the wedding  of one of Himself’s relatives who live close to Ely.

Kiwi Daughter was about four years old at the time and Little Mr. less than a year old.

I remembered that it had kid-friendly food and hoped that this one would have something similar.

I needn’t have worried, as a franchise the type of meals offered are fairly standard and it made for easy fuss-free dining.

Himself wanted to eat after collecting “Velvetine” from the train station so the children and I made ourselves comfortable here for a few hours whilst he was away.

It turned out that  Velvetine ended up on a slow train instead of an express one so the one she was on stopped at every single station on the way and added over an hour to her journey time. Luckily for us back at the Little Chef, the kids were supplied with paper and coloured pencils and between the eating and the colouring in, happily whiled away the time.I had my laptop with me and made use of the free wifi connection, writing up blog posts and checking emails.

When the kids couldn’t decide between several favourites what they wanted for dinner, they came to a canny solution: they ordered the chicken nuggets and fries and the toasted sandwich and then shared the two between them. Kiwi Daughter however was hungry enough to want some pancakes to herself on top of her share of the other plates.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

For the first ever time on a visit to the UK, I spied a meat pie on a menu and instantly knew what I wanted for dinner.  I was also delighted that the peas were served cooked whole and not as the “mushy pea” variety which  Himself and I tried once on a previous trip and both found disgusting to the point of  inedible.

Little Mr. was opted for ice cream for dessert and Kiwi Daughter for a brownie and ice-cream, but I spied a chocolate sponge pudding with custard on the menu and leapt at the chance to have some. Himself is so-so on cake-style puddings, especially warm ones and hates custard, so I never tend to make anything like this only for one serving. It was a warm day but who cares… a custard opportunity is an opportunity not to be missed.

A good few hours rolled by and with only 15 minutes before we were due to be kicked out because the Little Chef staff were closing up for the day,  Himself and Velvetine arrived and joined us. Once Velvetine had phoned and let him know that she had inadvertently taken a slow train, Himself had filled in his waiting time at the station with a portion of fish and chips and Velvetine got herself a pie and chips there too after realising that the restaurant would be closing up by the time they got back.

All in all the kids and I had a very relaxed and delicious meal…  basic simple food, but delicious and the service was brilliant. It was the end of the day, except for one busy hour it was quiet and they didn’t even mind us killing time and waiting there until the others got back. Far better evening here than cooped up in the small motel room for three hours. The staff were very friendly so we did our extra best to clean up all of the considerable mess we the kids made before we left.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Velvetine) Used with permission

(photograph © Velvetine) Used with permission

September 7, 2013

A Budget Room But Perfectly Adequate…

Filed under: Accomodation,Canterbury,ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Following Yesterday’s post, the Travel Lodge we have arrived at is a budget nondescript affair, but all we want to a bed  for the night as we have an early start tomorrow.

We go inside and take a look around… our family room consists of a double bed for Himself and I and a double sofa bed for the kids to share.  It’s basic but adequate.

Typical kids, Kiwi Daughter and Little Mr. try it on by immediately making themselves comfortable on the double bed  and wondering aloud where Himself and I are going to sleep?  … Nice try kids, but dream on. Now get your little behinds off my bed please.

Now that we have offloaded the suitcases the next most pressing problem for the kids is hunger.

We had a few snacks on our way down from Great Dunmow, intending to have a proper lunch when we arrived in Canterbury but between the long wait for Himself to find the tourist office and accommodation, the search for lavatories and then the hotel,  the afternoon completely slipped away on us and  lunch never happened so we are ravenous. Luckily there is the Little Chef restaurant close by across the car park and the kids are jumping up and down in their impatience to get there.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

September 6, 2013

When “You Have Reached Your Destination” is the Second Big Relief of the Day…

Filed under: Canterbury,Canterbury Cathedral,ENGLAND,PHOTOGRAPHY — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , ,
(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Another page of my last summer’s diary,  Family Kiwidutch have arrived in the city of Canterbury in Kent, England.

“Velvetine” our Singaporean friend is still away visiting friends in London this afternoon so we drive into the centre of town to have a look around and ask about possible accommodation.

Immediately we are impressed by the large walls around the inner part of the city, not just the obvious height and age, but also the sheer scale of it. There are kilometers of it… and not just pain wall sections either, there are multiple large towers as far the eye can see. Some other buildings are built into and around wall sections, other pieces are in a ruined state but this is some serious medieval fortification and very impressive indeed.

We find a parking space by the wall and Himself departs in search of the tourist Information bureau. He’s been gone some ten minutes when Little Mr. announces he’s desperate for a toilet.  Not thinking it would be a problem I start to get out of the van with the kids with the intention of finding a public lavatory  but a quick search reveals that Himself has taken the keys with him so we have no way to lock the van.

Now things become a tad trickier. There’s a stone staircase leading to a door through the wall close to where we are parked so I ask Kiwi Daughter if she can find out if there is anyone up there who can help.  She and Little Mr.  head up the stairs and a few minutes later she runs back to the top of the stairs and  tells me that a very kind lady is going to help them.

The first obstacle was that usually no admittance is permitted without a ticket, but Kiwi Daughter explained that I’m walking with crutches, Himself has left me with the van without key to lock it up and Little Mr’s desperation was probably getting fairly obvious by now so she took pity on them and let them in, with detailed instructions of how to reach the toilets which are around a few corners a short distance away.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In general I’m a very cautious mother and don’t allow the kids to go far away from us on their own, but in some cases needs must and both children knew that they should remain together as much as possible.  After a few initial wrong turns they found the public toilets and Kiwi Daughter waited outside the Gents whilst Little Mr. was inside and together they returned, having repeated a very grateful Thank You to the kind lady at the top of the stairs.

We had to wait rather a while more for Himself to return, apparently we were rather a long way from the tourist information office so he had a long walk to find it.

Once he returned he had both good and bad news. There was a lot on in town this weekend and many places were completely booked, a few were available but seriously  pricey,  but there was a Travelodge a little way out of town that was also conviently situated for Himself to go and pick up Velvetine from the train station we arranged to meet her at later. We got directions to the motel on the Boughton Bypass Road to London and were told it was located behind a Little Chef restaurant, and next to an Esso petrol station. The details were loaded into Our Lady of the Tom Tom and with now tired kids in the car, we set out to find our accommodation.

This was easier said than done because Our Lady of the Sat Nav decided that the “quickest route” to our destination was via several small roads rather than the motorway. Which would have been fine if said motorway had not been built at a later date intersecting them and made the road the Sat Nav wanted us to follow into a dead end.

There’s no bigger first world problem than sitting in your vehicle on a road that is abruptly cut off by a motorway and having no paper map or people around to direct you around the problem. Forty minutes of circling around our objective  and back tracking down little roads later we managed to be on the correct side of the motorway and had finally “reached our destination”.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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