The Phoenix is a great pub for a quiet drink, a hangover breakfast at weekends or a full-blown meal. The pub is so named because it rose from the ashes of the fire which gutted Denmark Hill railway station. I particularly like the gigantic Potters & Sons clock which dangles from the high beamed ceiling and the chunky leather sofas you can sink into and snooze. The pub quiz on Tuesday evenings is a good laugh, even better if you win the pot.
The Cambria is one of the best pubs in south London. Located on a quiet back street, it would be easy to miss on a bus ride from Brixton to Camberwell, but it's well worth making a short detour for the fabulous food, live music and magnificent chandeliers.
40 Kemerton Road, Camberwell, London SE5 9AR
+44(0)207 737 3676
Google map: bit.ly/e4L1s8
Getting there: overground rail to Loughborough Junction or Denmark Hill, buses 35, 45, 345
In my humble opinion, Franco Manca serves the best pizza in London. Situated in a modest venue, on two sides of a corridor through Brixton's covered market - and next to the fragrant fish stall - Franco's (as it used to be called when I first became a regular in the late 1980s) offers six pizzas, for extremely reasonable prices - even the most expensive costs less than £6. The newer name Franco's Missing, is a reference to the previous owner.
The sourdough base is prepared 20 hours ahead of baking and then fired in the 260°C oven for 40 seconds so everything is fresh, crisp and piping hot.
The only drawback is it's open when the market is, so not in the evening. A huge queue forms on Saturday lunchtime, snaking right out of the building and into the market, however the staff are pretty efficient so you shouldn't have to wait too long.
Nunhead Cemetery is one of the best places for a stroll in southeast London.
It's one of the least known, but most attractive, of the great Victorian cemeteries of London. Consecrated in 1840, it is one of the seven Victorian cemeteries established in a ring around the outskirts of London.
Some parts of the cemetery have been renovated in recent years, and the paths are well-maintained and the ruined yet elegant Anglican chapel sensitively preserved. However, there are also wild parts, with overgrown secret trails, romantic areas, spooky tombstones, beautiful trees, abundant wildlife and crumbling Gothic architecture to discover. It's a lovely place for a Sunday stroll and photo opportunities abound.
The Brockley Footpath, leading between the walled border of the cemetery and the covered reservoirs, is a strenuous workout, leading steeply uphill, but I wouldn't undertake it at night.
Nunhead Cemetery North Gate
Linden Grove, SE15 3LP
Google map: bit.ly/gfDp1e
Nearest overground railway station: Nunhead
Petitou is a little French cafe/bistro with a huge green terrace on Choumert Road.
Choumert Road seems almost totally French: at the corner with arty Bellenden Road there's a French bistro and towards Peckham's Rye Lane there's the great Montpelier pub, recently refurbished and serving scrumptious organic Sunday lunch roasts. Even the name suggests a Gallic cabbage, and the street market at the Peckham end is a good place to pick up fruit and veg. The menu at Petitou is wholesome: salads, quiches and fresh juices as well as cheesy Marmite crumpets. The terrace is shaded by trees and a lovely place to while away a morning. It's out of the way for public transport, but that's part of its charm.
63 Choumert Road,London SE15 4AR
+44(0)20 7639 2613
Google map: bit.ly/geAZA7
Open: Mon-Sat 9am-5.30pm, Sun 10am-5.30pm
Getting there: overground train to Peckham Rye
No.67 is a really great cafe, serving snacks, full meals, home made cakes, fresh lemonade, unusual beers, wines, you name it, in an arty setting. It's very, very hip but also very relaxed and friendly (these two are not exclusive, I suppose!) and a great place to chill out on the Peckham Road. The cafe takes up most of the ground floor of the uber cool South London Gallery and in warmer months, the terrace is a great place to sit and soak up the sun under the ancient 'tree of heaven'.
The lunch menu changes daily - today's offers included venison bresaola with rocket and parmesan, fish stew, celeriac soup or fennel marinated pork chop. I had a home made apple crumble tart (£3.75) - yum. The Spanglish breakfasts are legendary, but get there early at weekends as it's very popular.
South London Gallery, 67 Peckham Road
London SE5 8UH
+44(0)20 7252 7649
Google map: bit.ly/gC2LxH
Open Tue 10am-6.30pm, Wed 10am-9pm, Thurs-Sun 10am-6.30pm, closed on Mondays
Buses: 12, 36, 436, 345, 171 to Southampton Way
A project space that showcases the creative work of artists from Peckham and beyond.
Currently curated and managed by Sisters Burn, the gallery's programme includes exhibitions, live art, performance, events, lectures and workshops.
A recently opened gallery and cafe located almost opposite Camberwell Art College and a great place to chill out of a morning.
From the outside, along the vaguely grim Peckham Road, it looks a bit bleak and industrial inside but the welcome is really warm and there's free WiFi all day, cocktails, snacks and a licensed cafe and bar.
On Thursdays there are introductory food and drink offers, such as a buy one get one free 12" pizza, which can't be bad.
Conveniently close to the super cool South London Gallery and also supportive of The Sassoon Gallery (www.thesassoongallery.co.uk) NewGallery London is THE place to be seen on the Peckham Road.
Bock Bistro is a great restaurant serving traditional Hungarian cuisine with the perfect local fine wine to accompany the food. József Bock, one of the founders, is a legendary wine maker so you can be sure of the quality of the reds on offer here.
Csalogány 26 is an upscale restaurant named after its address, but also csalogány means 'nightingale'. Delicious meals prepared in a kitchen with a video link to the front of house so diners can check on the preparation. A bit gimmicky but fun. Upscale dining in a classy setting.
Balettcipő means 'ballet shoe' and this place will set your toes a-tingling. Enjoy great salads and cakes on a sunny terrace on the recently pedestrianised part of Hajós utca.
Hajós utca 14, 1065 Budapest
+36(0)6 1 2693114
M1 Little (yellow) underground - Kisfoldalatti to Opera
Karma is one of the many restaurants situated on Liszt Ferenc ter, a square packed with eating and drinking venues and beautiful people chilling out on the wide terraces. Karma has delicious dishes and some good vibes.
A buzzing Italian restaurant (especially at lunchtime when it's crammed to the gills with office workers and bankers from the local area). Fresh seafood, open grill, home made pasta and oven baked pizza all created with Italian ingredients (not always guaranteed in this city). Great wine cellar. A fun venue for a meal - a deux, with colleagues, friends or family.
An old style Hungarian restaurant located at the start of Raday utca, a semi-pedestrian street in Pest, crammed wall to wall with restaurants.
Named after Gyula Krúdy's book The Red Post Coach the whole restaurant oozes the turn-of-the-twentieth century atmosphere of the book.
The eclectic building was built in 1876 and housed a coffee house at one time. Since 1970 it has housed the Vörös Postakocsi where a mixture of authentic and modern Hungarian cuisine is served.
Traditionally heavy dishes are rendered light, courtesy of organic meat, dairy products and vegetables.
The menu offers several game and vegetarian options. The restaurant's wide selection of modern Hungarian wines is a treat for all. There is also an extensive range of pálinka.
Gouba started up again for spring Sunday 13 March.
This modern bazaar is located in the unique architectural gem, the Gozsdu udvar (courtyard passageway between Kiraly utca and Dob utca in the heart of Pest's Jewish quarter).
Unique antiques, gifts, gastronomy, performances. Try Hungarian palinka (fruit brandy) or fine local wines.
KIraly utca 13 and Dob utca 16, Budapest
Every Sunday 10am to 6pm (although you can walk through Gozsdu udvar at any time during the day, the gates are closed at night)
A fabulous bar in the heart of Budapest. The owners have taken over an entire building and filled it with wacky art (flying rabbits) and rooms with different themes. There's a dance area, a chill-out area and many more secret, hidden corners to discover. Great style and originality.
On a week's holiday in Reykjavik last November, I went swimming every morning outside(!) in the thermal pool at Vesturbaejarlaug.
The pool is in a suburb of Reykjavik and filled with all the local grannies gossiping in the (very) hot tubs and school children doing lengths. There is a sauna and steam room and it's a fabulous way to mix with the locals and get a real taste of Reykjavik life. So refreshing. It's great to walk around outside in just your swimming costume, you don't feel cold, but if you do, the hot tub will cook you up like a lobster.
Hofsvallagata, 107 Reykjavik
+354 411 5150
Google map: bit.ly/hj16Fw
Open Mon-Fri 06.30—22.00
Entry 360ISK adult, 110ISK for 6-18 years, free for seniors and under 6
Sauna 450ISK extra
Entry, towel, swimming costume 850ISK
Entry, towel, swimming costume, sauna 950ISK
Kolaportið is Iceland's only flea market. It takes place at weekends in a large warehouse building by the harbour.
In Kolaportið you can buy everything from old records to jewellery to voluminous knitted patterned jumpers to liquorice to second hand clothing to vacuum-packed salmon to fermented shark. Kolaportið is open only during weekends.
A cavernous and dark café, where homesick football fans can watch all the matches live on Sky, from Premier League to Barca and Inter Milan games. It's relaxed and friendly with the generous Bulgarian barman, Georgi always on hand to help. Pizzas cost 1300—1750ISK and there are 120,000 songs available on the karaoke machine.
+354 770 3151
Google map: bit.ly/h9hAaq
In November 2010 I went on a fantastic boat trip in the Faxafloi Bay to see whales.
The three-hour boat trip was an unforgettable experience and a great way to spend an afternoon in Iceland.
The various types of whales commonly sighted include minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, harbour porpoises and the popular humpback whales. We were also accompanied by sea birds such as gannets, puffins, guillemots, cormorants, gulls, kittiwakes, arctic terns, and many more. Our trips took us past several islands inhabited by colonies of puffin – a great photo opportunity!
Elding Whale Watching
+354 555 3565
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