Thursday, 11 October 2018

Autumn trip to Ashdown Forest

At the end of September we went to Ashdown Forest for an Autumn day trip. It was the 4th time that I’ve been to the real ‘Hundred Acre Wood’ this year and probably the last trip of 2018 as I wanted to see the changing of the leaves in the forest before the colder months started drawing in. We took my parents with us for this trip as my Mum is a big Winnie the Pooh fan too and we’d been talking on countless occasions about how she must come and join us for the Winnie the Pooh walks at Ashdown Forest. On a chilly but sunny Saturday morning we headed out to Sussex for an extra special Autumnal day in the forest.

Drinking tea at Piglet's Tearoom in Hartfield

Winnie the Pooh walks

Autumn leaves near the A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard Memorial, Ashdown Forest

We started out at Gill's Lap (Galleons Lap as it's known in the books) and completed the first Winnie the Pooh walk to the A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard Memorial. The plaque was surrounded by beautiful trees that were already showing signs of Autumn and as always, the view from the memorial spot was spectacular. If there's anywhere in the forest that you should go to see a fantastic view, it's the Memorial.

Kat Last and Mum beside the A.A. Milne and E.H. Shepard Memorial, Ashdown Forest

Once we'd completed the 1km loop, we drove on to Pooh Car Park for the walk to Pooh Bridge. When we visited the bridge for the first time in May, we parked in Hartfield and followed a long route through the fields down to the bridge and back. After speaking to some people at the bridge, I learnt that there is a separate car park nearer to the bridge, so that's where we stopped this time. The footpath from the car park takes you past little houses made out of sticks that look just like Eyeore's home in the books. After about 10 minutes of walking we reached the bridge and it was absolutely empty, what a treat! We were able to play poohsticks with no crowds and spend lots of time there enjoying the special Winnie the Pooh location. By late morning it was time to head off in the car to Hartfield for lunch at Piglet's Tearoom, Pooh Corner Ltd.

Kat Last and Mum standing on Pooh Bridge, Ashdown Forest

Close up of a tree in Ashdown Forest

Pooh Corner

Winnie the Pooh characters in the garden at Pooh Corner, Ashdown Forest

Winnie the Pooh cushion at Piglet's Tearoom in Ashdown Forest

With it being a crisp but sunny Autumn day, we were able to sit outside in the garden at Pooh Corner. The entire dining area was packed so we were lucky to find a table. I had tomato soup with Winnie the Pooh shaped bread and Stuart and my parents had sausage rolls and cheese twists. The food at Piglet's Tearoom is always delicious and very affordable too. We had a fantastic lunch in the sunshine among lots of other Winnie the Pooh fans. It was so nice getting to sit outside in late September.

Lunch at Piglet's Tearoom, Pooh Corner in Ashdown Forest

A stroll around Hartfield

Church in Hartfield, East Sussex

After lunch we went for a stroll around Hartfield village and imagined what it would've been like when AA. Milne and his family holidayed there. Hartfield was mentioned a lot in the new Christopher Robin movie and it was really exciting to be able to see it again after the big movie release. We followed a loop around the village and ended up back at the car in the early afternoon, ready to head into Tunbridge Wells for the latter part of the day.

Ashdown Forest was even more special in early Autumn. The leaves were already starting to turn and the blue skies were absolutely spectacular. If you like Disney and spending time outside, there is no better place to visit for a day out his Autumn.

Have you ever been to Ashdown Forest? Did you go on any of the Winnie the Pooh walks?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, 4 October 2018

Places to visit in Sussex

Until I met Stuart, I’d never really been to Sussex and the South coast. I grew up in Hertfordshire which is North of the Thames and my family are scattered around Essex, London and further afield up North, so there wasn’t ever a need for me to visit this part of the country. Stuart was born in East Sussex and his family still live in the area, so we now end up going to Sussex at weekends to see his family and go on days out. In the past year I’ve seen so much more of the two Sussex counties than ever before so I thought I’d talk about places in the area that are worth a visit in today’s post.

Kat Last holding Winnie the Pooh toast at Piglet's Tearoom in Ashdown Forest


Hastings, East Sussex

Famous for the battle in 1066, Hastings is the place to visit if you’re a history buff. From the ancient castle ruins to the beach and fabulous Old Town, you can easily spend a day in Hastings soaking up all of the sights. Stuart was actually born in Hastings so we end up spending the majority of our time in Sussex in Hastings and when we go into town for lunch, we always have chips on the beach. It’s a great seaside town to visit where there’s always lots going on.


Ypres Castle, Rye

Stuart took me to Rye for the first time over the late May Bank Holiday and it’s certainly a really cute tourist town. Mermaid Street is a cobbled hilly street that runs through the centre of the town and it’s a photographer’s dream road as no house is the same as the next.  At the top of Mermaid Street you’ll find Ypres Castle which overlooks the Romney Marshes. The view from the castle is fantastic, so again make sure you take your camera! Rye is small, quaint and old, which makes it the perfect place to visit for a few hours if you’ve got a free day at the weekend.

Ashdown Forest

A. A. Milne and E. H. Shepard Memorial, Ashdown Forest

Winnie the Pooh fans, there is no better place for you to visit in England than Ashdown Forest. I wrote a couple of individual articles about our time in Ashdown Forest so I’ll just summarise here, but in the forest you can follow ‘Winnie the Pooh trails’ to some of the iconic places mentioned in A. A. Milne’s books. From Eeyore’s Sad and Gloomy Place to Roo’s Sandy Pit, you’ll easily be able to spend a day in the forest reliving your childhood Winnie the Pooh memories.

However no visit to Ashdown Forest is complete without stopping at Pooh Corner Ltd for souvenirs and Piglet’s Tearoom for lunch. You can order Winnie the Pooh-shaped toast and hunny for under £2, which is really reasonable for a themed tearoom.


Brighton Beach, East Sussex

Brighton is much bigger than any of the places that I’ve mentioned so far and you really need to allocate a full day to see the city in its entirety. A day in Brighton should include a trip to the Palace Pier, ice cream on the beach, a walk around The Lanes district and a visit to Brighton Pavilion. If you like cute independent shops, make sure you add in extra time for browsing at The Lanes too as you’ll end up finding some really unique gifts there. Brighton is definitely the place to visit if you want to go on a day out to the seaside. It’s a really exciting coastal city!


Worthing Pier, West Sussex

Continue along the seafront away from Brighton and you’ll soon reach the much smaller town of Worthing. It’s far quieter than Brighton and it’s much more manageable, so if you’d like to visit the seaside for a couple of hours and not a full day, definitely head to Worthing. There’s a pier which is home to lots of local art, amusement rides and a cinema on the seafront that dates back to 1911. Worthing is the place that we visited most recently and I have to say, it’s definitely somewhere that I’d go back to again for a chilled shopping and cinema Saturday. The town centre isn’t huge but there are lots of great shops on the high street and the old cinema is extremely affordable for such a vintage location.

As you can probably tell from this post, Sussex has such a huge variety of places to visit. It’s coastal towns are what makes the area so popular, but inland there’s some real gems like Ashdown Forest too. I can’t wait to explore more of the sister counties when we next visit Stuart’s family.

Have you ever been to Sussex? What are your favourite places in the county?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, 27 September 2018

What I ate in Canada

Food was the lowest priority for our Canada trip last Summer, which is funny because I ended up having some of the best meals I’ve ever had whilst we we were in Alberta. Most of the time we stopped at convenient fast food places which ended up being way better quality than what we’re used to at home and on the occasions where we actually scheduled in time for sit down meals, we were able to eat a variety of different types of food. Calgary in particular had some fabulous restaurants, which kept us very happy after busy days of sightseeing. In today’s post I’m going to talk about some of the food we ate in Canada which ranged from pancakes with maple syrup for brunch to the love-hate local dish of poutine for dinner.

Kat Last standing on the Canada 150 sign at Prince's Island Park, Calgary

Sit down meals

Poutine for dinner at The Eddie in Banff town, Alberta

On our first night in Banff National Park, we had dinner at The Eddie in Banff town. The Eddie specialises in burgers, but we actually had the local dish poutine here. The base ingredients for poutine are chips, gravy, cheese curd and some sort of meat. It was quite a stodgy dish, but I’m really pleased that we made the effort to try Poutine whilst we were in Canada.

Pizza for dinner at Pizza of Waterton in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

The town at the heart of Watertown National Park is tiny, but we still managed to find a table service pizza restaurant for dinner. It rained heavily during the afternoon that we were in Waterton and I was relieved that there was somewhere for us to go for a sit down meal, that would also shelter from the bad weather. The restaurant was packed and the food was delicious, which is why I’d thoroughly recommend Pizza of Waterton for dinner.

Vegetarian quesadillas for dinner at 4th Spot Kitchen and Bar, Calgary

I have a lot to thank 4th Spot Kitchen and Bar for as we now have quesadillas frequently for dinner because of how much I enjoyed them in Calgary. I had sweet potato quesadillas in town after we got back from Watertown National Park and it was so nice to find veggie Mexican food on the menu. We were sat at a lovely outdoor table overlooking one of Calgary’s neighbourhoods and it was the perfect place to sit on a warm Summer evening.

Thai lettuce wraps for lunch at the Joey Barlow restaurant in Calgary, Alberta

We ate at Joey Barlow’s on our final day in Canada and it was this meal that was the best of the trip. I had Thai lettuce wraps that were filled with noodles, vegetables and spicy sauce, and after lots of less healthy meals, I was so pleased to find a tasty vegetarian meal. The outdoor seating area at Joey Barlowe’s was surrounded in flowers and my inner Instagram addict was absolutely delighted. Good food in a pretty setting? What more could we want for our last meal in Calgary.

Fast food

When we were visiting the national parks, we opted for quick service meals most of the time because we wanted to have the optimum amount of time to explore the parks. In Jasper we had burgers on the first night at A&W and on the second night before we left the area, we stopped at a local takeaway pizza place.

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company pizza in Banff town, Alberta

In Banff we had the yummiest pizza at the Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company: a food court outlet in Banff town. The Rocky Mountain pizzas had healthy ingredients, which certainly provided us with a unique pizza experience.


Pancakes for breakfast in Calgary, Alberta

Most of the time in Canada we had cereal and fruit for breakfast where we were staying, but on two occasions we had special brunches. I mentioned this in my authentic experiences we had in Alberta post last year, but Kirsten’s parents cooked us pancakes with maple syrup and bacon on one of the days that we were heading into Banff. It was a real treat for us getting to enjoy an authentic Canadian breakfast and it was so kind of Kirsten’s family to host us for the morning.

Waffles for breakfast at Waffleton in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

The second special brunch we had was in Waterton National Park, where we got to have waffles. Waffleton was so busy in the morning, mainly because lots of people from the campsite had decided to go there for breakfast (us included) and after a long night camping, what’s more tasty than chocolate coated waffles. We certainly got to experience breakfast with a view here, as we were able to admire the mountains from the outdoor seating area at Waffleton.


A cup of tea at Tim Horton’s in Banff National Park, Alberta

Tim Horton’s deserves a special mention here as we were in one of their branches on almost everyday of the trip. Their doughnuts are what makes them popular with Canadians but as someone who doesn’t actually like the taste of doughnuts, I had the opportunity to try some of their other goodies instead. From muffins to cookies, I was able to find a snack to go with a cup of tea. My lifestyle is quite hectic and I rely on tea a lot to keep me awake, so I was very happy to find that I could get tea easily at Tim Horton’s throughout the trip.

For an action packed trip, we got to enjoy lots of delicious meals in Canada. Next time we head back to the area, I’d love to try more of the sit down restaurants in Banff. Most of them were a bit pricey for our budget this time around, but they’re certainly places that we can strive to afford in the future.

Have you ever been to Canada? What food did you eat whilst you were there?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Sunday, 23 September 2018

Trying local cuisine at the 2018 Canterbury Food Festival

The entrance to the Canterbury Food Festival from above

September is a busy month for Canterbury as a new intake of students arrive in the city for the start of the University calendar and the annual Food Festival descends upon the city at the end of the month. Now that I'm over a year out of University the academic year doesn't affect me but I do look forward to the Food Festival which falls on a Friday, Saturday and Sunday at the end of Fresher's Week. I've been going to the Food Festival since 2015 (I wrote a blog post about my experience in 2016), so it's a tradition that started at University, and when I read online that the festival was back from another year, I knew that I wanted to keep the weekend free so that we could head down there for lunch on the Saturday or Sunday. We actually went to the festival yesterday and had a fabulous time despite the rain, so today's post is going to be dedicated to our experience and the food we ended up getting to try.

The foutain in Dane John Gardens during the Canterbury Food Festival

The bandstand at the 2018 Canterbury Food Festival

We arrived at Dane John Gardens at half 11 and even at this time, crowds of people were piling into the festival. The layout was pretty much the same as other years, with 4 different areas of stalls and some seating areas between them. There was a bandstand and music area too where local artists were entertaining hungry festival visitors. Kent has a lot of food producers with it being the 'garden of England' and Canterbury itself has lots of independent restaurants and cafes who choose to exhibit at the Food Festival, so there were a vast number of stalls to visit. With my camera in tow we did a loop of the festival to see what food and drink was on offer this year. I highly recommend you doing this before purchasing anything as you might miss a stall that takes your fancy, if you purchase some food as soon as you walk through the gates.

Looking down on the Canterbury Food Festival from the Mound in Dane John Gardens, Canterbury

After we'd had a glance at the whole area, we decided to walk up to the top of the mound in the gardens to see the festival from above. This was Stuart's idea and a very good one too as we got to really appreciate the sheer size of the festival from the top of the mound. It also wasn't raining at this point so it was the perfect opportunity to get some photos.

Rosemary fries for lunch at the Canterbury Food Festival

When we were back down inside the festival it was time to choose some lunch options. Stuart had bao buns from The Korean Cowgirl: a restaurant on the King's Mile in the city centre and I opted for rosemary fries from the Moroccan and Lebanese stand. Normally I would go for Mexican or Greek cuisine as both of these are my favourite, but we weren't having our main meal at the festival so I didn't want something too heavy going. The rosemary fries were delicious though and at only £2, a real bargain at the Food Festival! Most food items cost between £6 - £8, which is more expensive than other years, but the Food Festival is a special event to have in the city and if a small price hike ensures that the event comes back year on year, I'd rather that any day.

Rainbow fudge at the Canterbury Food Festival

I'm a tea and cake fan so when I saw the bakeries and cake stalls at the festival, I knew that I wanted to take a sweet treat home for later in the weekend. One particular cake company called Gateau Mini sold mermaid and unicorn themed cakes. Their 'rainbow fudge' was so pretty and colourful that I just had to purchase some. After taking it home and trying some, I can now say that it is extremely sweet but very good fudge. It's novelty foods like these that the Food Festival is so great at showcasing; you wouldn't be able to find rainbow fudge at your everyday high street bakery.

Chocolate Strawberries at the Canterbury Food Festival

After we'd eaten the rain started getting heavier and seeing as we'd spent over an hour there, we decided to head back into town and shelter from the rain. We left the gardens feeling full and content, as once again we'd had a really good time at the festival.

Taste of Kent Awards sign at the Canterbury Food Festival

If the festival happens again in September 2019 and you don't live too far from Kent, why not organise a day trip to Canterbury when the festival is on? The food is always delicious and the event atmosphere is fantastic.

Have you ever been to Canterbury? It's a brilliant city for foodies.

Thanks for reading my blog today.