Picture Solihull and you think of new housing, not canals, or indeed Africa! But walk along the peaceful Stratford-Upon Avon Canal from the Drawbridge Inn to Bridge 10, enjoying the wildlife. Then saunter along Tythe Barn Lane in Shirley to Akamba (akamba.co.uk), a very unusual garden centre, to enjoy a glass of wine or a coffee as you listen to African music in a secluded seating area surrounded by towering palms and banana plants - and even a lifesize gorilla and a (smaller) giraffe. Its Solihull but not as we know it!
Tythe Barn Lane, Shirley B90 1PH
Nearest station is Whitlocks End
One day we found ourselves near the Adriatic coast of Le Marche. We were tired and hungry and went in search of a restaurant but it was getting late and we could find nowhere open. We ended up in Pedaso. It’s not, frankly, the most attractive town on the coast but we really were starving and the only place we could find was Tilt 2. It didn’t look promising: we went inside and, at first, thought it was just a bar but we were shown into a smallish back room that was full of people and were brought some of the most unpretentious (seafood pasta brought to the table in an aluminium pan) yet delicious food we have had. There’s a warm welcome (try getting out without sharing a digestivo with the patrone), super food and great prices. Sometimes there’s also a lady who speaks English but if she isn’t there don’t worry – just let them bring the food and you won’t be disappointed. Tilt 2 is definitely our hidden gem of the Adriatic Coast. We were staying at Villa il Melo (villa-ilmelo.com) a light and airy country house with pool in the Tenna Valley.
Tilt 2, Via Dante Alighieri 13
63016 - Pedaso (+39 0734 931916
No website but there's a map here: comunedipedaso.it/ristorante.php
This is a family-run hotel and restaurant serving simple but really tasty food (they have their own butcher's shop so the meat is especially good) and great breakfasts. There are family rooms with bunk beds and we have found it ideally located to break the long journey from England to Italy. It's also handily situated for the brilliant Europa Park theme park.
Hotel Restaurant Krone
Breisacher Straße 1
D-79395 Neuenburg am Rhein
+49 763170390, krone-neuenburg.de/
This is a beautiful agriturismo serving what locals consider to be some of the best and most authentic Marche cuisine. The setting is stunning, with views of mountains, hills and valleys. You can sit outside under a shady pergola or in the vaulted brick interior. There are often exhibitions of modern art on the walls and patrone Silvio is a perfect host. We have eaten but not stayed there but all indications are that it would be a great place for a few nights and a fine basis for walking in the Sibillini.
+39 0736 856361, cittadelladeisibillini.it
Jalan Alor, located in the heart of KL, just off the main thoroughfare of Bukit Bintang, is for me, the best place in the capital for fast, street food. It's basically a stretch of restaurants and food stalls that create a 'hawker stall' atmosphere. The selection of food is substantial, from super crispy pork to exotic (obviously) fish such as garoupa in mango. A view of this street from the top end is one of the highlights of this city - all bustle, bright neon lights and noise. As well as the outdoor seating most of the eateries have some indoor space too - worth bearing in mind if the weather looks like its about to take a turn for the worse! Food style is mostly Chinese here. I personally recommend the buttered prawns from the first stall at the top of the street.
Jalan Alor, Bukit Bintang, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Stopping first to fuel up with the fantastic Boatman's Breakfast at the Lock Cafe (01225 868068, thelockinn.co.uk) in Bradford-on-Avon, take a walk through some of Britain's most beautiful countryside on the Kennett & Avon Canal towpath. On the eight-mile trip west to Bathampton, you pass the dramatic Dundas acqueduct (where we watched a nesting kingfisher flash up and down the river) and a bevy of beautiful canal boats. You can hire canoes or bikes half-way along (Bath and Dundas Canal Company, bathcanal.com, 01225 722292) at Brass Knocker Basin, Monkton Combe, but be sure to finish up with a drink in Bathampton at the floating coffee shop, the Raft Cafe Boat, or a hearty lunch on solid ground at The George Inn (01225 425079) nearby.
Bradford on Avon
Restaurant selling huge quantities of mussels. Might look like a tourist trap but continues to attract locals in large numbers.
Moules frites cooked four or five different ways at sensible prices. Service brisk and pretty friendly towards visitors.
Located on a main shopping street opposite Galeries Lafeyette.
34 rue de Bethune Lille
+33 3 20 57 12 46
Google map: tinyurl.com/3xoszxn
If you never had "Migas", this is the original place to be! Migas, an original Spanish dish are breadcrumbs fried with chorizo and olive oil etc. and is served with various toppings, including grapes. Another dish to try here is "Callos" but I will let you find out what it is. Accompanied by Vina Urbezo 2009 red wine which Luis the friendly proprietor – a former tax officer – will surely suggest, you are bound for a delicious traditional dinner in this family-run restaurant.
Calle de los Estébanes 4
Google map: tinyurl.com/2vcua56
Just spent a week in this wonderful five-star thatched cottage. Booked it thinking the website probably wouldn't live up to the pictures, but it was way above what we expected. It is newly built but in traditional stone, so it looked really old. When we got inside it had a real "wow factor", pure luxury. The views were to die for and we spent most evenings outside watching the sunset. It also had a webcam trained on the croft hill, and we saw buzzards and eagles from the comfort of our chair, amazing stuff!
Did lots of walking and looked forward to returning to the luxurious bathroom in the cottage. The water came from a private underground spring and my skin felt amazing after a week, due to no chemicals in the water. Ate out at the Three Chimneys and Old School House Restaurant, both fantastic and nearby. Talisker Distillery was also a must-visit, especially the tasting sessions!
I hate to tell anyone of the cottage in case we don't get in next year but thank you to the owners for an amazing week. And thanks, Ally, the owner for getting us a fresh lobster, straight from the sea!
Can't wait to go back!
Isle of Skye
Dos Hermanos is a dependable and friendly bar and restaurant in Old Havana. Fish and shrimp are especially good and the mojitos are great. This is a bar that Hemingway and other famous writers hung out in. Its location - right by the ferry terminal and the Museum of Rum - is an easy walk.
On Sol and the waterfront, near the Ferry Terminal.
A typical Piedmontese restaurant, situated in a small country village, Priocca D'Alba, near the small city of Alba, surrounded by hills and vineyards.
This is a well-kept secret. It isn't well lit outside and you have to ring for admittance. There is no menu and no ordering. The menu changes and meals are prepared with only the finest seasonal local ingredients. For a great experience try it during the truffle season. Reserve well in advance. (We understand Bono didn't and was refused admission!)
Via Umberto 1, 5
Priocca d'Alba (CN)
This fish restaurant opened a couple of years ago and immediately became one of the most popular places to eat. Reservations are a good idea if you don't want to wait for a table. The garden overlooks the tomb right in the middle of town and is full of flowers. The menu offers a wide range of meze and main courses which you would usually only find in a quality restaurant in one of the big cities.
Süleyman Sandıkçı Sok. No:18
+90 (0) 242 8362779
Super italian restaurant in the very heart of Lille. Hidden away behind the main shopping street and doesn't look much from outside. Inside though is an atmospheric wood-panelled, friendly (even to English speakers) restaurant. Straight-forward, reasonably priced Italian menu.
Clearly a favourite of locals at both lunch and dinner. Makes a nice change from the tourist-orientated places.
Fantastic seafood and fish restaurant on the quayside at Blankeberge. Sells lobsters, mussels and oysters in huge quantities. Not cheap but fantastic quality and you can even convince yourself that the plateau de fruits de mer with a bottle of Moët at €100 for two is a justifiable holiday treat.
No frills setting with plenty of outdoor tables for when the sun does shine.
Halfway up the cliffs and behind the beach huts, overlooking Scarborough's south bay, the Clock Cafe serves basic foods (tea, coffee (mug or cup?), sandwiches, home made cake) at very affordable prices and .. the view is spectacular. Busy in good weather, closed over winter (opens around mother's day).
Past The Spa, Scarborough YO11 2HD
01723 500 390
Look for the clock.
The Midland's 'informal' restaurant and bar is casual, yet classy. History oozes from black and white photos of sporting activities and teams on the green-painted wood panelled walls. Its limited menu of simple dishes is well executed, decent value and delicious. Get a window seat overlooking the Central Library, a Mancunian architectural gem.
We stayed here for three nights. Riad Lorsya is beautifully renovated and very well located, just a few minutes walk from the main square.
There are two suites and two rooms, well-decorated. The dinner offered on the first evening was the best one we had in Marrakech.
Nice riad, welcoming hosts, good location five minutes' walk from the main square, good value for money.
I will recommend it to all my friends
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