Thursday, 27 August 2015

Travel Throwback Thursday - Esperance, WA.

It's that time of the month - Travel Throwback Thursday! This month I'm going to tell you all about one of the most memorable roadtrips my family ever took when we lived in Australia. Last month I told you all  about our trip to Uluru, and this month I'm going to tell you about our roadtrip to Esperance, which is home to one of the most famous beaches in the world; Lucky Bay. 

Lucky Bay Esperance Australia

Now you'll have to forgive the photos, this was before I got my SLR (I actually got it a few weeks after we got back from this trip), so they were just shot on a little point and shoot. We went to Esperance in January 2008, it was the school holidays and we wanted to make the most of the long summer holidays. We went to Esperance via Hyden, which is where the famous Wave Rock is. On the way we passed through the wheatbelt and teeny tiny little farming towns...

Brookton train station western australia

Western Australian wheatbelt

However, we stayed in Hyden two nights too long (we were there for two nights...). I told you very briefly about the hotel we stayed at in Hyden in the March Travel Linkup - Disastrous Hotel Stays, basically Hyden is a great place to visit for a couple of hours just to see Wave Rock, but that's the only thing there. The rest of it looks sort of like this...

Hyden Western Australia

Kidding. That's just the area where we were staying.

We made the time pass by pretending to canoe in the middle of an empty salt lake...

Hyden Salt Lake Western Australia

Prancing around the lake....

Hyden Salt Lake Western Australia

Visiting the Hippo's Mouth....

Hippos Mouth Hyden Western Australia

Taking a look at some local art....

Hyden Railway Western Australia

And obviously seeing Wave Rock...

Wave Rock in Hyden Western Australia

In the evenings we drove around randomly looking for wildlife, and found a coupla kangas...

Hyden in Western Australia

Mother and baby Kangaroos in Hyden Western Australia

We also saw this incredible sunset.

Sunset in Hyden Western Australia

Incredible fiery sunset in Hyden Western Australia

And my brother and I watched films on his PSP (old school or what...this was 2008 guys).

Our shitty chalet that was full of  huge spiders and creepy crawlies!

When we finally left Hyden we continued our drive through the wheatbelt, passing through small towns in the middle of the outback until we finally reached the small town of Esperance. We stayed in a townhouse which was really nice and modern! There was far more to do here, and we had a really great time! 

Esperance National Park Western Australia

Dad and I made this sea lion really angry by walking up to it taking photos, then all of a sudden it started chasing us and we both ran up the beach screaming. The sea lion was surprisingly fast, and we had to leap up onto the boardwalk to get away from it! 

We also climbed up this massive sand dune...and I lost my flip flop. Thankfully I found it again after lots of searching in the sand!

Naturally we couldn't go to Esperance without visiting the national park and beaches within it, especially as it was the height of summer and the temperature was in the high 30's/low 40's. Lucky Bay was just breathtaking. The sand was so pure and clean it squeaked beneath your feet, and the water was crystal clear. There are absolutely no filters on these photos, and I haven't edited them at all... 

Lucky Bay Esperance Australia

Lucky Bay Esperance Australia

We also checked out some of the other beaches, and were preeeeetty impressed with what we saw!

Esperance Western Australia

We also saw some pretty impressive sunsets in Esperance as well!

Sunset at Esperance Western Australia

Next stop on our roadtrip was Bremer Bay. On the way we stopped off to see the Rabbit Proof Fence, which is a state fence built to keep rabbits and vermin out of the state of Western Australia. It was also the subject of the incredible film Rabbit-Proof Fence (see the 2002 trailer here), which is about the Stolen Generation and well worth a watch if you don't know much about this dark part of Australia's history.

The Rabbit Proof Fence South Western Australia
You can tell how old this sign is from the fact it says £100 and not $100!

The water here was as clear as Esperance, and Bremer Bay was full of 4WD enthusiasts making the most of the off-road tracks.

Bremer Bay Western Australia

Bremer Bay Western Australia

Dad thought he'd have a go on a 4WD track. Yeh...real adventurous huh... :|

Bremer Bay 4WD Western Australia

After a day or two in Bremer Bay we drove back up to Perth via Busselton, you can see below the full loop we did! We covered nearly 2,000km in just over a week.

Best south western australia roadtrip route

But what an epic family roadtrip! We still laugh about it today, and I'd love to go back to Esperance some day, it was just spectacular!

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Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Orrery, Marylebone.

I've been to a fair few Marylebone restaurants lately. I work in the area and it's so full of amazing restaurants, I'm slowly trying to work my way through them all! There are quite a few that I've been to but haven't written about on here yet, but you can see a roundup over on my guest post for Culture Trip

Also, you know how you have friends who you don't see for ages due to clashing schedules, then all of a sudden you see them four times in one week? Yeh, so that happened with Bella and I this week. First I saw her at Lotte's birthday, then we went for dinner at Orrery, then a few days later I saw her when a few of us had a girls night at Archer Street, and then I saw her again the following day for afternoon tea at Quaglino's (review coming soon!). She's probably sick of me by now!

We'd had our dinner at Orrery booked in for a few weeks, Bella's quite happy to come and review places with me, she's very good with letting me photograph her dishes. It's funny, but there are only certain people I'm comfortable doing it with, as I'm sure you've noticed from my blog and the few select people who come with me to review places.

There are so many other friends I see but don't blog our meals or outings (and even with the friends who I am comfortable doing it with, there are lots of meals and nights out where I don't photograph or write about a single thing), I think it's nice to have a good balance between public and private.

Photo from Orrery's website

Anyway, we decided to go for the 3-course set menu with a glass of bubbly for £30. A bit of a bargain considering you actually get three extra amuse bouches on top of your three courses. We had a cocktail on the roof terrace before we went down to the restaurant for dinner. I was far too relaxed and completely forgot to take any photos of the roof terrace or cocktails! Bad blogger. Here's one of the champagne instead to make up for it...

Part of the D&D group (the same people behind Quaglino's and Avenue), it's a fine dining French restaurant, which once had a Michelin star. Situated right at the top of Marylebone High Street, it's just a 10 minute walk from my office.

We started with an amuse bouche of a cold soup. It was surprisingly delicious, and was very creamy with just the perfect amount of dill.

For our starters we both opted for the Buffalo mozarella with fig and truffled honey. Bella and I both agreed that the truffle with the honey was quite overpowering, and thought the dish might have worked better without it. I'm not a huge fan of honey though, so for others it might be ok. The mozarella and fig were perfect though, simple, but so satisfying. 

For mains we again made the faux pas of choosing the same. Beef fillet with wild mushrooms, celeriac puree and madeira jus. The beef was fantastic, perfectly cooked and so tender.

Before dessert arrived we had another amuse bouche or palate cleanser. It was delicious - very fruity and zesty, and really quite refreshing.

For dessert Bella chose the strawberries, meringue, and strawberry sorbet. Despite being full she polished off the lot, so I'm guessing it was good! She did say that the sorbet was the best she's ever had.

I chose the Chocolate panna cotta with raspberry sorbet and chocolate crumble. Oh my. The chocolate was rich and decadent and so fluffy and light. It melted in my mouth.

It was so good I scraped my plate clean. Oops.

To finish we had strawberries and cherries. An odd mix, especially as cherries aren't very good on the tummy after a heavy meal.

We had a really lovely meal at Orrery, Bella raved about it which is always a good sign as she used to live in Paris and is a bit of a French food snob. We waddled out clutching our Gregory's (our name for a food baby...), and groaning at how full we were. It was definitely a good full though. Every mouthful was worth it. I just had a salad for lunch the next day to make up for it.

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Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Lotte's Birthday at Geisha.

Lotte always has an epic birthday bash. There was the James Bond themed party, the Alice in Wonderland x Neverland themed party, and then last year she hired out Camden Beach. I didn't blog last years as I didn't really take many photos - sorry! This year she decided to do something smaller with just her close friends. We went to Jak's on the Kings Road for dinner and dancing, and then when Jak's closed at midnight we went to Geisha until it closed at 3am.

Jak's is a Mediterranean restaurant that turns into a late night bar and club. It's where PUBLIC used to be, so is in an awesome huge space. The pizza's weren't great quality, but the other food was incredible! So just avoid the pizzas. The cocktails were also brilliant. 

We had so much fun dancing at Jak's, we had a table with a big plush sofa and some chairs, and the music was great!

When Jak's closed we moved on to Geisha on Old Brompton Road. I'm a little biased as my friend Diego is one of the owners. I have a membership card so I organised a table and some drinks for Lotte's birthday. We had a huge round table on the end, which felt more private than the other tables and gave us more room.

 I borrowed Lotte's birthday crown...

We danced the night away and had SO much fun! We finished with a round of birthday shots, and then while the others stumbled into our old favourite, Raffles, I decided to be sensible and head home for some sleep before a big family lunch the next day. If you can, definitely head to Geisha - the music is awesome, the people are great fun, and we kept bumping into other friends there! 

Happy birthday Lotte!

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