Wednesday, October 31, 2012

England 2 - West Bay, Bridport, West Dorset – Gateway to the Jurassic coast

Here is what I did

It was a surprise find as I went out on a drive with my family. However, this is one of those places which do not have a stark presence on a tourist map and is solely for the viewing pleasure of those residing in the nearby towns which makes the place special. I spent a couple of hours and took some great pictures of an evening well spent.

Clad in green, the Sandstone cliff on the West Bay beach

West Bay is a sea side resort close to the ‘market town’ of Bridport located in West Dorset. It is situated at the Western end of the Chesil beach. I visited what is known as the ‘East Beach’ south of the Bridport harbour. The beach itself is a very fine shingle ridged beach.
The West bay beach is formed of fine shingle and sand. The beach is best locations to find fossils on the Jurassic coastline

It seemed like a quiet place even in the month of July although it is said to be popular amongst tourists. There was a RV park close for those interested in camping holidays. There are a plenty of fast food places around the harbour and no dearth of hearty fish and chips.

West Bay and surrounding  area offers great coastal walks

The beach itself lies on what is called the Jurassic Coast which stretches between the Dorset and East Devon coast. And it is part of the area recognized as ‘area of outstanding natural beauty’.

Here is what you could do

Fossil hunting – “(West Bay) is considered to be possibly the most successful place to find fossils along Lyme Bay's Jurassic Coastline.
Fishing – You could fish from the beaches
CampingEype beach close by offers great options for camping and caravan stays
Bridport – A close neighbour to West bay, Bridport has street markets, arts center, a 13th century church and a museum  
Or simply walk along the coastal paths exploring the quiet towns or sea side
Fisherman on the beach - Fishing for pleasure
Experience rating
My experience of travelling to the place was 3 out of 5. Although, I enjoyed my stay at the beach, I will not visit it again given its connectivity to London is poor. You need a car to explore the West Dorset area. Beach by itself is not worth a 4 hour trip it takes to get here.

There are camping options available in vicinity

Useful links

England 1 - English paradise for Walkers in Seaford

View of Seaford Head in the distance as you walk along the coast

Here is what I did

It is beautiful, well-connected, yet remote. It is shy, reserved yet friendly town of Seaford. Get on the train from London Victoria to Eastbourne. Change at Lewes for Seaford and you will be rolling down past the white cliffs, green pastures dotted with horses and sheep, passing through Newhaven harbour, caravan park of Bishopstones to arrive into Seaford.

Looking back at Newhaven town hazy in twilight

I was looking for a beach close to London for a quiet afternoon and the image of a serene white beauty wearing lustrous green scarf facing the frothy sea – Seaford head - glared at me. I could not resist the mysterious charm of the white cliff and I set out with my husband to find this gem.

A lone seagull atop a street lamp in Seaford
I got off at Bishopstone which is described as a hamlet with a population of 200 people. As we got out of the station we landed straight on the doorstep of the mighty, cold calming sea, peaking out of the sheets or rather heaps of little stones around it. Seaford head visible at a distance was about 2 miles and behind me was the gorgeous town of Newhaven.

Row of plush houses by the coast (from Bishopstone to Seaford)
With cold autumn winds and a mild sun shining, the beach was almost abandoned except for a few locals striding down for their walk. As I neared Seaford, there were more people some walking the dog, playing with their kids or just having a good time. But to most of these people Seaford and its towering beauty, views of ocean, the setting sun and villages and towns visible in the distance were clearly nothing new. It was like a routine visit to a local park and looked more like “backyard beach”.

Lone couple walking their dogs on Seaford beach

Walking past a couple of cafes, we reached the Martello Tower which is 74th of the 103 built around the coast to Eastbourne as part of defences from Napoleon threats to cross the English channel in 1803. The tower is now a museum housing the history of the town and its historical importance.

Martello Towers, 74th of the 103 towers built in 1803

Further ahead is the picturesque Seven Sisters country park set beside the town. The Seven Sisters are actually of chalk cliffs which are gradually being eroded by the sea. They form part of the South Downs in East Sussex, between the towns of Seaford and Eastbourne in southern England.

Lonely beach side cafe on an autumn evening in Seaford

Our walk ended here after which we made our way to the station to head back to Croydon. But it will soon be time to return. Chasing the image of the white beauty, I have landed upon an area full of lovely nature walks, remote yet accessible by public transport, isolated yet connected.

Here is what you could do:
A place for walking! Unhindered, undisturbed, with moderate level of effort, this is easy to do high reward hiking/walking area.
The Seaford head is the starting point for walks to Eastbourne (22.8 kms/13.8 miles)
It is also a part of some long distance trails. You could do smaller stretches of these walks.
Vanguard Way – “66 miles from suburbs to sea” a walk that starts from Croydon to Newhaven
South Downs Way – it is a 160 kilometers running from Winchester to Eastbourne passing through seven sister country park

Experience rating:
I would give the location 4 out of 5! However, my personal planning was a small 2!

A couple enjoying a hot cup of coffee in col Seaford

Useful links
There are some great links with photo essays reports from the walks and a few suggestions from smaller walks in the area. Check these out for more information:
Seaford to Eastbourne
For pictures, check out:  
For description, check out:
For description of shorter walks along South downs way:
For more suggested walks around the country:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Travel File #4 Camden Town

Its crowded, its touristy, its unabashed – its Camden town for Azmayish today. For Travel file number 4 we are taking the Northern line and heading where the crowds are going this weekend - to the unique, alive and buzzing market of London - a hots pot both for tourists and locals - the Camden.

Alternative culture,  fashion, arts and crafts, music, canal, food, vintage clothing are some of the words that will be thrown into any description of Camden. its eclectic, its eccentric, its touristic, its authentic - its all of this and more but any word used for Camden must be intensified, amplified, multiplied many times over to accurately describe the charms and exhilaration of this place.

In 1973 Camden Town’s markets opened for business. But now 10 million people visit Camden every year and it is a thriving center of business with a kicking music scene.As you get out of the tube you will be joined by hundreds that will ingle in the thousands that walk on the pavements,  or through the big halls and into the little alleyways navigating their way through innumerable food and merchandise stalls exploring the six markets of Camden.

Its bustling with people, lined with unending row of stalls offering foods from around the world and stuff that ranges from trashy to trendy clothes, junk jewellery, tattoo booths, music CDs, quirky art stuff

Although trashed as touristic by some fashion snobs, Camden is essentially, positively London and a must take stop on your first London trip. I would put it higher over picture perfect Central London for its true London feel.

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TF 3# Old books on South Bank

Here is a peek into the second hand book market on South bank by the river Thames under the arches of Waterloo bridge. This doesn't make it to the must see list of London and is therefore a great secret place for wonderful view, literature and a great afternoon.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nuts about doughnuts? watch this!

Fresh donuts are better than the stale ones sitting on super market shelves or the coffee shop refrigerators. I love my doughnuts fresh and hot like the ones sold by a wonderful doughnut magician on Surrey Street. If you are ever visiting the area, do stop by and take a pound worth of joy with you and to see for yourself, how it is really done. Enjoy the video!

Friday, October 12, 2012

5 ways to use yoghurt for better health and taste

Travelling to Greece has been a revelation for my taste buds. I am still counting the awesome things I learnt cooking and eating in the phenomenal country! but most exciting learning has been on account of something so omnipresent and basic that  it is invisible! No, I am not talking about God - I am talking about Yoghurt!

I have been brought up with yoghurt, curd or dahi as it is called, in India. It is eaten in different forms – as raita with meals, with sugar for good luck and as an accompaniment with aalloo parantha which may be described as stuffed bread. 

But in Greece, I found yoghurt is used on whole different level. Although, being force fed yoghurt by my parents, it was only after my visit to Greece that I realised that yoghurt can taste good and be enjoyable. I saw how it can be put together with different flavours - sugary, salty, with herbs, olives, vegetables - to add richness, nutrition to your diet. 

Here are a few things you can do with yoghurt yourself:

  1. Alternative to Mayo and Sour Cream: I love Mayo and I love sour cream but strained yoghurt with a little salt is a perfect alternative for to these high calorie options. It add volumes of tastes to whatever it is you are eating - over the chips to replace sour cream, in a tortilla wrap as a filling. Just replace yoghurt with your high calorie sauces!
  2. v  Dips - Yoghurt with herbs like coriander, parsley, mint, little salt and garlic powder is a perfect dip to be had with flat breads, chips, cream crackers. You can create different ones by adding nuts, olives, chopped onions, tomatoes etc. Get innovative and create your own dips to be had with a piece of bread or as a spread on toasts! The list is really endless, but you get the point
  3. Salads - I am not a salad person. Trust me - I would rather fast than eat a bowl of vegetables or salad leaves but yoghurt can add the moisture, richness, texture and taste to make every salad bowl memorable. Try boiled potato salad with yoghurt mixed in garlic powder or the Beetroot salad 
  4. As a desert with honey - What a palette cleanser and treat for senses is the simple desert - yoghurt and honey can be. A spoonful of yoghurt and a teaspoon of honey is all you need to finish a great meal! Trust me it keeps it healthy and tasty. This when coupled with joy without lack of guilt of having gulped in unhealthy calories is priceless.
So strain that yoghurt or buy simply some Greek style and keep innovating to enjoy different tastes of yoghurt!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Healthy, Pink, The most gorgeous looking salad - beetroot and yoghurt

Boil beetroot, peel and dice

Take about 100 gms yoghurt add two spoons of olive oil, two spoons mayonnaise, salt, pepper, parsley

Mix it well with diced beetroot

 Plate it

 Enjoy it

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

One morning in Heraklion

God's random sketches on the sky 
 View from my hotel balcony as I woke up to a clear sky and bright sun light. The charge for night stay Euro 47 at Iraklion Hotel.

Local Delicatessen in the neighbourhood

 The cathedral, the square and the lovely pigeons

Abandoned Alleyway

No breakfast at 9 in the morning. So, refreshing to be back in the place where people love their sleep.

Greek breakfast: Spinach pie - Euro 2/- with a cup of Cappuccino Euro 1.5/-

Over exposed: Hard to handle the bright sun light

The old harbour
 looking onto the sea - Heraklion is blessed with some of the best beaches. Unfortunately we could not visit any because we had our heart set on Santorini

A quick shot of the ducks sun bathing as we make our way to the ferry