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
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
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
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)
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
Cortina in Northern Italy provides an excellent base for via ferrata - a challenging climb/walk along the "iron roads" of the Alpine hills created during the second world war. A harness for beginners is a must, but these can be easily hired along with helmets from locals shops in the town centre. There are levels for all difficulties, from a 1A to a 5C. One route can be easily reached by a combination of bus and cable car, and you will be in the clouds with fantastic views. Cortina also boasts the longest via ferrata bridge in the Dolomites of Italy!
Cortina has a selection of campsites, bars, restaurants and a supermarket for those touring or having a short break.
A bus from Venice airport takes around 3 hours. Though it only goes twice a day. Try Cortina tourist office (dolomiti.org/dengl/cortina/index.html) for information about the via ferrata.
This Turkish bistro served us the most amazing starter (mushrooms in a sort of shredded pastry) and a beautiful steak that would stand up to comparison with any good restaurant in England. The menu could be described as Turkish, Mediterranean, English fusion. Classy but reasonable at about £25 a head. The clientele seemed to be young professionals but as 40/50 year old women, we felt welcome and it was so nice to have a change from the meze that you get around Sultanhamet. We just kept saying 'mmm' all the time.
Near Taksim main shopping street on the left. See www.hayalkahvesibistro.com for better details
Found this lovely place on the tram line (homemadeistanbul.com) on a wander. The restaurant provides a lovely and reasonable lunch. There was a mixture of Turkish and Mediterranean food on the menu and everything was lovely. It had the best salads we found in Istanbul. We were surprised to find wine at a reasonable price as well as the great food. To get there take the tram to Sirkeci then walk back (if you came from the Sultanhamet). It's easy to find because of the non-Turkish sounding name and the woman in the window making fresh bread (which was, again, the best we had in Istanbul).
This is a superb gastropub hidden down in Leith which is an up and coming area of Edinburgh. It is just round the corner from The Kitchin ( Tom Kitchin's restaurant ), so now seen as a rather cool and modern new quay area with some relaxed bars.
If you are looking for wonderful gastropub food at a reasonable price, then I cannot recommend this place enough. I had a Pork dish and it melted in the mouth and the crackling was to die for, and it was only £7.50. A little bit off the usual beaten track of the Royal Mile however well worth the "extra" mile to get there.
Every summer we set off from my family home on Lake Como, for excursions on the pre-Alps surrounding the lake, particularly the branch of Lecco up to Bellagio. Our favourite is the walk to Monte S.Primo, a gentle walk through the woodlands and pastures; eager to race to the top and stop to look at the breathtaking view of the whole lake and Alps. The prize is a family Trattoria where we eat local salame and cheeses, brasato stew, deer and polenta, and drink wines from Valtellina. Beautiful!
Send your feedback or queries to email@example.com