A walk along the cliffs


The forecast for Tuesday predicted that after a reasonable start it would be a wet and windy afternoon. I was up early (as usual!) and decided to get out for a bracing walk along the cliffs to the south of Whitby before the weather changed. I managed to persuade my son to acompany me, be he soon lost his enthusiasm and turned back half way through the walk.

We crossed over to the East Cliff and climbed up the 199 Steps circumnavigating the graveyard with views over the sea and towards the Abbey ruins.


We joined the coastal path, which is part of the Cleveland Way route, and which would take us along the cliffs

Passing the Abbey

There were other people walking along the path, probably making their way to Robin Hood’s Bay. That wasn’t my plan. I’d walked from Robin Hood’s Bay back to Whitby last time we stayed here. I could have carried on walking the route in reverse this time but I’d decided to turn around at the lighthouse, which is about a third of the way to Robin Hood’s Bay and retrace my steps and get back to Whitby before the rain came in. I actually think the best views are gained walking towards Whitby.

Here’s some photos I shot from the top of the cliffs – some taken going out and some coming back.

Looking back towards the Abbey and the harbour
The cliffs are very friable and are being rapidly eroded by the North Sea. I could see several diversions of the path inland since my last walk along here.
Approaching the lighthouse. It’s been converted into a couple of holiday cottages – a dramatic place to stay.
Just south of the lighthouse is a foghorn
I don’t know whether it’s still operational but I wouldn’t want to be staying in one of the lighthouse cottages if it was.

I turned around just after the lighthouse and headed back along the path towards Whitby. On the way I decided to divert down the cliffs to Saltwick bay. The tide was receding revealling a good stretch of fine sand.


The last time we holidayed in Whitby we’d been fossiling here and without making any real effort I picked up a couple of pieces of ammonite and could see fragments of fossils in some of the larger rocks.

Returning to the cliff top path, with the tide going out remains of a wrecked boat were revealed


It didn’t take me long to get back to Whitby. I called into the bookshop (I just couldn’t help myself) and made a purchase and stopped off at a couple of shops to purchase some supplies. The cloud had been coming in during my walk and it started to rain quite heavily, but fortunately I wasn’t far from the cottage.

I spent the afternoon taking it easy and catching up on some reading, drinking tea and eating cake! But in the evening we’d booked a table in the Magpie cafe on the harbour which is renowned for it’s fish and chips and other seafood. Last time we were here it was closed as there had been a fire, but it had been renovated since then. It’s very popular and although we’d booked a few days in advance could only get a table fairly late in the evening.

We had a very enjoyable meal.

I started with a plate of oysters
My main course – hake wrapped in parma ham served with muscles
I’m afraid I couldn’t resist the banana bread and butter pudding with custard – several shots of insulin required!

After eating the rain had eased off so we walked along the harbour, climbed up to the Whale bone arch and made our way back to our cottage

A day in Cartmel


Last Thursday, was a special birthday for J . After most of May had been cold and wet, we woke up to a warm sunny morning and a blue sky. Someone was smiling on her!

We’d planned to go out for the day with a special family dinner time (midday up here!) meal booked in Rogan’s bistro in Cartmel. So after J had opened her presents everyone got ready and we set off up the M6.

It was a beautiful day in Cartmel and as we had 30 minutes or so before our booking, we had a short stroll around the village. There were quite a few people around enjoying the sunshine and it seemed that some had arrived a couple of days early before the traditional Whit race meeting which started on Saturday. Spectators were allowed this year.

The village shop
Cartmel Priory church

Then on to the bistro

Rogan and Co. is branded as the “relaxed neighbourhood restaurant in the magical village of Cartmel“and is part of the culinary empire of Simon Rogan which includes L’Enclume, which is just round the corner, and which featured in second episode of series one of The Trip which starred Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon.  L’Enclume would have been pushing the budget a bit, but Rogan and Co., with it’s Michelin Star, was still a special birthday experience.

All the courses were nicely presented and were very tasty. These were my choices

Non-alcoholic G & T
Freshly baked bread
Roasted lamb, pickled jasmine, pea & mint – chunks of lamb shoulder immersed in a pea based sauce (veloute?)
Roasted skate wing, asparagus, turnip & mussel cream
Mascarpone sponge, gooseberry, yoghurt & woodruff
Fudge, accompanying the after dinner coffee
J’ pud – Dark chocolate fondant, celery milk & maldon sea salt

After I settled the bill, feeling full, but not over stuffed (the sign of a well balanced meal) we went for another wander around the viallge, across the racecourse and through the woods, making the most of the start of summer – especially as we’d been rather starved of sunshine during May this year.

The former Priory gate house
The old village lock up

A tasting plate of Oysters


Monday evening during my short stay in Galway, I went out for a meal with a friend who lives in the town to Morans Oyster Cottage, a seafood restaurant in Kilcolgan, a short drive from the city.

For the first course, we both treated ourselves to a “taster plate” of Native and Pacific oysters. They’d come fresh from the Clarenbridge oyster bed, a short distance away. Delicious!

There were photographs on the wall of famous visitors who’d visited the restaurant, including a certain Seamus Heaney, who’d left his calling card


a hand written note of his poem, Oysters.

A pity about the reflections in the photo which makes one of the  words (starlight) illegible – but if you want, you can read the poem here

A treat in more than one way!

Back to Borough Market

A few days after our short break in the Peak District I was down in Dartford with work. I’d travelled down by train via London so we decided to combine work with pleasure and the other half travelled down on the Friday morning and met me in London for a short stay. We were staying in a Premier Inn at Southwark near Borough Market. It’s a really “buzzing” area during the evening with plenty of places to eat and lots of pubs and bars, all of which were busy on an autumn evening. The terrorist attack by zealots who don’t like people having fun only a few weeks ago doesn’t seem to have stopped people getting out and enjoying themselves – and that’s the way it should be.

We had a rather nice contemporary style Leabanese meal at a busy Arabica , a restaurant under the railway arches on Rochester Walk near the market

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followed by a stroll along the South Bank before turning in

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The next day, after breakfast we went for a wander around the market.







Our shells clacked on the plates.

My tongue was a filling estuary,

My palate hung with starlight:

As I tasted the salty Pleiades

Orion dipped his foot into the water.

(From “Oysters” by Seamus Heaney)


A plate of oysters. My starter during a meal at Donnelly's of Barna with my friend V, who first introduced me to Ireland and Ireland to me. Delicious!


El Piano, York

El Piano

photo credit: visityork.org

As a tourist honeypot, there’s plenty of places to eat in York. but during our recent visit we had some difficulty finding somewhere to eat for a quick midday meal. We wanted something more than a sandwich or ubiquitous Panini but didn’t want to sit down for a full blown 2 or 3 course meal in a restaurant. There were quite a few “teashops” and cafes serving not very exciting English style food, and all the usual chains like Cafe Rouge, Strada etc. They can be O.K. but we fancied something a bit different. Trudging round the streets of York for half an hour or so, it was getting a little late and I started to feel a hypo coming on so needed to find something quickly. Turning down a side street we came across El Piano in Grape Lane. I wasn’t sure whether it was a cafe or a shop at first, but there were some inviting odours wafting out of the front door, so we decided to go in and have a look.

It turned out to be a cafe-restaurant and found a table in the corner next to the window so we could watch the world go by. The menu looked interesting, with largely Mediterranean style dishes, so we decided to order. We decided to have a selection of Tapas style dishes – one Spanish influenced and another Greek style. It was meat free, but that wasn’t a problem. We ordered some tea but when we were asked whether we wanted soya or coconut milk we discovered that it was not only vegetarian, but vegan, and so dairy free. We decided to have milk free green tea!

The food was very good. A good selection of tasty dips and small plates with plenty of corn chips on the side. And it wasn’t expensive. The staff were very friendly and helpful too.

Apparently the restaurant is part of a chain – with the other two branches in Spain.

Flying Fish

Eating out healthily in Memphis wasn’t easy. There were plenty of places serving good food, but in the main it was either fried or served up in a sweet sauce – not so great for a diabetic watching their diet!

One place I particularly liked was the Flying Fish on Second Street, just opposite the Peabody Hotel. It was quite informal – a large chippie really, but much better than most you’ll find in Britain.

The Flying Fish

The Flying Fish

It seemed to be very popular – it was always busy.

Inside the Flying Fish

Inside the Flying Fish

They had an enormous menu and every time I went in there were people standing in the queue who were having trouble deciding what to eat.

Menu at the Flying Fish

Menu at the Flying Fish

Most of the food on offer was fried, but there were some more healthy options. Chips (or “fries”) came as the standard accompaniment, but there was the option to substitute other vegetables, and I chose to have red beans and rice. There were both alcoholic and soft drinks available. I drank ice tea which was on tap and you could refill as many times as you wanted. The food came with dips – tomatoe salsa and mayonnaise – and there were bowls of crackers and various relishes on all the tables.

I ate there three times. First time I had a “combo basket” of shrimp and catfish


During my second visit (Sunday lunchtime) I had an oyster “po’ boy”


I had my last meal there on my final evening in Memphis – this time I had two course, half a dozen oysters followed by a big plate of “boiled shrimp”

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Overall the food was excellent and extremely good value.