A Tourist in Coventry

So I’ve been back in the ‘Kong two weeks and nothing too exciting to write about has happened yet because of jet lag, work etc.  So I thought, why not do a travel piece on the old stomping ground of Cov?  There’s lots to do there to keep you amused for  few days, and I think you might be pleasantly surprised…!  So here’s some places I swung by during my trip back home.

This post was originally also going to include places to eat and drink but the post was already really long….  Maybe that will be next week’s post, ha.

Things to see & do

Coventry Cathedral, Priory Street:  I have such fond memories of this place, we did an amazing school trip here learning about the history of the city, we watched a famous French tightrope walker walk across the ruins on Millennium New Year and my mum organised a Knitathon here for comic relief trying to break the World Record for the most amount of people knitting together in a room!

Cov Cathedral

The ‘new’ Cathedral (opened in 1962) sits next to the original which remains in ruins after being bombed during World War II.  Go in and take a look around, you really will be amazed by the art and architecture of this glorious building.   Designed by Sir Basil Spence, the building compliments one of the city’s iconic themes, that of peace and reconciliation. Take some time to drop by the old ruins and climb up one of the city’s famous Three Spires and take in the glorious view.  Admission is free for those wishing to pray, otherwise a standard adult tickets costs £6.

NOTE:  Go via The Rising Cafe for tea and cake afterwards – I cannot rate this place enough, reasonably priced warming food for them UK bad weather days (of which there are lots!).

Herbert Art Museum, Jordan Well:  To be honest, I didn’t really know this place all that well growing up.  It had always been around, I think, but I only really started dropping by in the last few years.  When I was back last, we took a look at the history of Coventry exhibit – highlights included spotting my old school uniform in the 90s area, and dressing up in chainmail!  We were also fortunate to see The Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition whilst we were there which was amazing.  The young photographer sections were particularly compelling – it’s on until the start of April so there’s still time to see it!  Admission is free!

Theatre Absolute AKA Shop Front Theatre:  I had no idea what my mum and sister were talking about they described this to me, what I had in my head was people performing in a shop window and people standing outside to watch.  But no, this small theatre company performs in an old shop in coventry Arcade which used to be a fish and chip shop restaurant!

I went to see TRAUM, a story about migration told through the medium of breakdance.  to be honest I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was completely enthralled and didn’t expect the performance to stir quite so much emotion in me.  We were also lucky enough to attend a Q&A at the end with the script writer and the two performers, both migrants themselves.  What’s more tickets were only £8.

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Three minute Heroes

Coventry Music Museum, Walsgrave Road:   

Mum took me here on a
surprise visit for our morning out together – I was expecting to go shopping but this was much better!  A very small indie museum, run entirely by volunteers, this is the place to go if you are a music fan.  The museum’s key theme is the multiculturalism within the local music scene – 2-tone, ska, bhangra, rock, electronica and pop it’s all here.  The main focus is the 2-tone and ska music, which isn’t surprising considering the more famous bands to have been born out of the city like The Specials and The Selecter.  Be sure to visit the 2-tone village after, there’s a cafe that does a mean goat curry (so I’m told), a vinyl and memorabilia shop.  Admission is £3.

Fargo Village, Far Gosford Street:  I’ve only dropped by here a couple of times, but when i have it has been marvellous (and a little dent in the wallet because of all the beautiful vintage things i end up buying!).  This is creative space with cafes, studios and pop up shops with food and drink events happening on the weekend.  When I last went, a lot of it was closed, being a rainy Monday and all, but my cooler and trendier little sister says this place has lots of fun events happening.  So visit their website before heading here.

Coombe Abbey:  Head here for the great outdoors – fabulous walks, local nature trails and the reason I was there, for a bit of afternoon tea in the fancy old hotel!

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Nan and Nicole enjoying their treats!

There’s lots of other places to visit I haven’t mentioned like the Coventry Transport Museum, The Belgrade and Criterion Theatres, the Police Museum which also deserve a notable mention.  Maybe these are the places i’ll head to next time I’m back in Blighty.

 

A Relaxing Christmas in Borneo

The best thing about moving to Honky for me is travel.  I’m so lucky to have had the opportunity to visit so many places since our arrival: Taiwan, Seoul, Mumbai and Kerala in India, Siem Reap in Cambodia, Chiang Mai in Thailand (again!), Beijing and finally Australia.  As you can see from the gaps in the blog –  I’ve got quite some way to go in documenting all these trips!

So let me start with the most recent whilst it’s fresh in my mind – Borneo. Christmas is normally spent in throws of icy UK winters, gorging on food left, right and centre; and in the company of my favourite people – the Malatesta clan!  This year we thought we’d change gears and head somewhere hot just the two of us.  And so because in typical Stars and Joe fashion we’d left it too late to book our preferred destination – Bali – we settled for Borneo.  Flights were about one sixth of the price if you wanted to go direct, and so we thought we’d save a bit of cash and take on part of Malaysia.

Borneo is no doubt, beautiful – lush green jungle, sandy beaches and crystal waters.  I have to say though that we probably didn’t make the most of everything that is on offer.  We had very good intentions of traveling to Sipidan, Sepilok and climbing the famous Mt Kinabalu over our two week stay…  Instead we made an executive decision (after a lot of typical uming and ahhing from me) to just stay, in one spot and totally relax (note we also came back to HK a week early).

The umming and ahhing stems from my inability to actually sit back relax and do nothing.  I’m basically incapable of relaxing and sort of feel under pressure to do as much exploring as possible in a new country.  Pressure from who I have no idea.  But I actually managed to do it (it has to be noted there were a few wobbles and I had to be brought around by Joe’s maximum chill ethos) and really enjoyed it!

We stayed Shangri-La Rasa Ria resort about 45 minutes outside the main town of Kota Kinabalu. This was the first time I’d ever stayed in a big beach resort like this and can certainly see the attraction – everything you could want is there!  Restaurants, pools, spas, golf, beach, activities galore and more.

That isn’t to say we were sitting ducks, although the sand flies and mozzies seemed to think so.  We managed to get out on a couple of day trips – a river cruise to spot some of the local wildlife which included monkeys, giant lizards and fireflies and a boat trip to a little island called Sapa to do a bit of snorkeling.

The island trip on arrival seemed to be the biggest error, when we arrived the beach was swarming with tourists, so we made a decision to go on a little adventure and climbed over some rocks at the far side of the beach and found a beautiful nearly deserted beach.  Score!  The sea even had some pretty corals and crazy coloured fish to gawp at through my snorkel.  That’s the first time I have snorkeled and actually seen anything worth while.  I think before I’d always use my snorkel and flippers on Greek beaches and the most you would see are the tiny little grey sand fish that scoot around the seabed.

The most memorable part of this trip has to be eating out Christmas dinner at a restaurant called Little Italy in the centre of KK!  A dinner to remember, it was lovely, but felt so strange to not be eating a roast in the cold surrounded by my family.  And I did miss them.  But I was consoled in the fact that we are returning to the UK at the end of January – and after all Chrsitmas is only a day right?  I can feel the rage from some of you for saying that – sorry!

I would definitely recommend heading out to KK for a relaxing long weekend to anyone this side of the globe.  But perhaps I would suggest being a bit more organised if you actually want to see the island than myself!

Here’s to more adventures around the globe in 2016!  Happy New Year!

 

I made it through the wilderness

I don’t know why I have decided to start rewriting my blog now this very minute on my first day of holidays, but I think it is to do with how anxious I have been feeling over the past few days about flying here and other things happening in my life.  Now, the anxiousness has almost passed (I think I’m on some sort of post anxiety come down because I’m excited to be here but also still flapping about our unbooked days!), I’m feeling so much happier.

So how did I get through my terrible flight fear?  There are five key components at play here.

  1. I rushed from work to the airport.  This meant my mind was so busy thinking about all the things I had yet to finish at work there wasn’t enough time to worry about the flight.
  2. I’m sorry, this probably isn’t very zen or mindful of me, but I drank alcohol.  Yes, a couple of Kirins always help suppress the nerves.
  3. My dear friend Tammy provided me with some rescue remedy – taken before and during the bumpy scary bits on the flight.  i’m not sure how much this actually helps to calm me and how much psychological but hey it helped so i ain’t knocking it.
  4. Colouring in.  On a last minute whim before boarding I bought The Enchanted Forest colouring in book.  Yes I know this is something that people are talking a lot about these days and it is very ‘trendy’ but man, this helped calm me so much.  The concentration of staying in the lines whilst the plane is shaking, and your eye sight is failing you (that’s turning 30 for you I guess?!) really took my mind of the fear.  I would really recommend anyone who is scared of flying do this on board!
  5. Finally, knowing it was going to be worth it upon arrival – and boy it is!  This has to be one of the nicest resorts I have ever stayed in, and perfect for our second anniversary on Christmas Eve.

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Not to say that there weren’t parts of the flight that were unpleasant.  We were flying AirAsia, so lack of space, screaming children, general noise and the usual ‘friendly’ turbulence all made appearances.  But I was definitely not at my plane panic worst (cue tears and uncontrollable heart rate).

Now to enjoy the holibobs!  I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas wherever you are!

xxxxx