Welcome to my world!

The reflections and comments of a resident in Southsea, Portsmouth, England.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Fried skate wings

A fried skate or ray wing (I don't know which) can be really delicious. It's also a fish dish that doesn't have any bones to deal with. Great for someone who hates dealing with the bones.

Pat dry the wings on kitchen paper. Then dust with plain flour mixed with Paprika powder, salt and pepper. Then shallow fry for 5 minutes on each side or until the edges are dry and crispy.

Serve with mash, jacket potatoes or simply with steamed vegetables for a very quick dinner.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Top 5 National Trust events this summer

My latest National Trust magazine has just arrived, full of information on the various properties and activities they are offering this summer.

Here are my favourites for the ones near us

The Great British Dog Walk (really?) at New Forest Commons
Sunday 21 May, 11 am to 4.30 pm
Fun for the family promised with adult tickets costing £10, available from 01844 348101

Family trail at Hinton Ampner
Saturday 27 May - Sunday 4 June, 10 am to 5 pm
Explore the grounds during the half-term holiday
Suggested donation of £1

Rose season at Mottisfont
Throughout June
The roses will be in full bloom and there will be free talks with the gardeners at 2 pm daily

Feast Festival at Waddesdon Manor
17-18 June, 10 am to 5 pm
Experience music, dance and interactive theatrical performances while enjoying fabulous food and drink.
Entry £5 for adults and £2.50 for children

30-hour record Millathon at Winchester Mill
17-18 June, 10 am to 4 pm
Watch the millers attempt a new record of 30 hours non-stop milling. Cheer them on by moonlight or join in for coffee and biscuits 6-10am on Sunday.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Five things to do in Venice

I had the chance to travel to Venice recently and was totally in love with the city. It has been on my bucket list for a long time and I kept talking about it, so my husband said...how about it?

I'm a well-read traveller and like to check out what the place has to offer before I go. Our public library in Portsmouth is great at stocking up travel books. In fact, borrow one with a map and you don't need to buy any when you get to your destination.

It's good to check out places you may want to see, or any that you may skip. Travel books also have useful information on opening hours and advice about buying entry tickets to museums and attractions. However, information changes all the time and so do try to find the latest information online too.

Websites like Tripadvisor will have feedback from recent visitors and so more up-to-date. But don't be swayed too much by online reviews. People's tastes are different and what is bad for others, might be good for you.

1. We were advised to arrive by boat so as to experience the location and indeed it was a very good advice. It was very atmospheric even though our boat only had tiny windows. Arriving by boat allowed us also to adjust to the pace of life in the next few days.

2. Be prepared for the unexpected. After booking my ticket online and carefully noting the orange line water taxi, I found when we arrived we were ushered into the next boat which headed to Rialto Bridge. I had wanted to go on to San Marco, but apparently, on that day Rialto will be the last stop on the orange line contrary to what the website stated. Oh, well, just go along.

3. Enjoy the crowd. Landing at Rialto Bridge was really amazing, like being dropped in Trafalgar Square. People and gondolas everywhere and hundreds crowding the historic bridge taking selfies and group photos.

As we were visiting very early in April, we were expecting Venice to be quiet. Quieter, perhaps, for Venice never goes quiet it seems. When we were there the lanes were already thronging with people, mainly school children and having been stuck behind some of the school groups, I felt I understand the Venetian grudge against tourists.

4. Be prepared to get lost. Upon reaching our destination we promptly got lost. I soon learnt that when the map said 'calle' I was expecting a lane about the width of at least a car. It turned out some 'roads' in Venice were very narrow and this one was barely the width of a man.

My husband praised my knack of finding the best hotels as the one I picked turned out to be so central and accessible. Just minutes from the Rialto Bridge and the famous market, but on the quieter side.

We walked and walked on our first few hours and just marvelled at the place. It was fun to go up and down bridges and finding ourselves lost only to emerge next to a heaving bar.

5. Do try the local food and custom for 'ombre'. After orienting ourselves with the place, if that was indeed what we were doing, I found my first cichetti place and had a pile of freshly fried prawns and calamari in a paper cone. I was smitten!

We went back to the eatery that I had read about and we decided to stop by there for our first meal. It was a very good choice. In the Do Spade the service was friendly and the food amazing. We tried more fried seafood and the clam spaghetti.

Over the next few days we had an adventure of trying various cichetti places and it was so much fun!

Moeche is soft shell crab friend in batter and the local speciality.

At the Do Spade, all the cichetti come with some white polenta.

There are so many different variety of cichetti to choose from.

 I will tell you more about the sights in Venice another day!

A spring evening

Today turned out to be so hot, I was completely overdressed in my spring coat. The air was still and dry. It feels like it's finally time to dust off the barbeque.

I had left work early to go to Robert Dyas to buy some hanging baskets and was looking forward to spending the evening gardening.

Alas, when I put down my chopsticks at the end of the dinner, I noticed the pitter-patter of rain on the conservatory roof.

No gardening tonight.

Such is the unpredictability of spring weather!