The Bogtrotter

British Experiences

A walk in the Park – Richmond Park

by on Mar.04, 2009, under Britain, British Experiences

Richmond Park would be just like any other big London green space if it wasn’t for one thing – the Red Deer that wander freely around.

Red Deer in Richmond Park

Red Deer in Richmond Park

Whatever the time of year, you don’t need much of an excuse to go down the the park. Whether it’s for a brisk walk on a Winter’s day, or a relaxing evening stroll in Summer, the deer will be waiting. The deer usually stick together in a couple of fairly large herds, so they shouldn’t be too hard to spot. Our first sight of them was their antlers sticking up like tree branches out of the firns and grasses. However, Richmond Park is the largest of the London Royal Parks (over 2500 acres) so it might take you a while to track them down.

Once you’ve found them, you will be surprised how close you can get. The deer are very used to people in the park so they don’t run off at the sight of you. But don’t mistake them for pets – they are wild animals and you should not approach them too closely or try to touch them. For photographers they are a delight – you can spend hours with a camera getting up close and personal for that perfect shot.

You can find out more about the park, including directions, from the Richmond Park web site.

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Relax in an open top Bath

by on Feb.25, 2009, under Britain, British Experiences

Sometimes you just want to relax and watch the world pass by. At the Thermae Spa in Bath you can do exactly that – looking out over the rooftops of the city from the rooftop pool.

Bath has been renowned as a Spa town since Roman times, and the old Roman Baths have been a visitor attraction for years. But after the old Spa closed in 1978 there was no way for you to enjoy the hot spring waters. That was until the Thermae Spa opened in 2006, with the centrepiece being the futuristic New Royal Bath building.

Bath Thermae Spa rooftop pool

Bath Thermae Spa rooftop pool

One of the great things about the Spa is it is open to all, and you can visit for just a couple of hours. The highlight for me was definitely the open-air rooftop pool. Even though it was an overcast day it felt great to wallow in the warm waters and look over the historic buildings that surround the Spa.

The Minerva Bath inside is equally impressive, with the grand columns towering up from the waters to support the structure above. You really do feel a sense of indulgence as you move between the whirlpools and neck-massage jets. There are also steam rooms “gently infused with essential oils, such as camomile, jasmine and eucalyptus”, although I have to admit their benefits were lost on me.

For those looking for an extra touch you can treat yourself (or your loved one) to a spa treatment such as a relaxing massage or body wrap. Or you could combine two pampering treats in one pampering package – a session for two at the Thermae Bath Spa and an indulgent afternoon tea for two at Homewood Park Country House Hotel. And with just a little bit of imagination you could drift back 2000 years and be bathing with the Romans.

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Joining the Pudding Club

by on Feb.01, 2009, under Britain, British Experiences

Do you ever wonder what happened to traditional British puddings? You know – like the ones you used to have when you were younger. When everyone else started moving to fancy new deserts in the 1980s it was necessary for someone to step in to protect the good old British deserts.  Up stepped the Three Ways House Hotel in Mickleton with the now legendary Pudding Club, where members come along every week for an evening of unadulterated eating pleasure.

The evening starts with an introduction from the host – who explains the background to the club and the house rules. Then, just to get your juices flowing, he talks everyone through the seven puddings that are going to be consumed.

Display of Puddings ready to be eaten

Display of Puddings ready to be eaten

After a (very) small main course it’s on to the serious business of the night. The puddings are paraded into the room to rapturous applause. Amongst the familiar favourites such as Syrup Sponge, Spotted Dick and Eton Mess were unusual surprises such as Lord Randall’s pudding.  The object of the evening (aside from enjoying eating some fantastic puddings) is to try all seven dishes, and then there is a vote for the favourite pudding of the night.

This means you have to pace yourself.  When you start off, the idea of eating seven deserts seems easy.  But after three or four you realise that it’s not as easy as it sounds.  They were all fantastic, and made me realise how rarely I get to eat proper puddings these days.

House rules dictate you must empty you bowl before you can move on to your next pudding, so portion size control is key.  I managed to try all seven, and after much deliberation Eton Mess got my vote.  However the room was fairly evenly split, and the eventual pudding of the night was the good old Syrup Sponge.

For those who want to take the experience further, you can also stay in one of the hotels themed desert rooms.  Personally, having eaten seven deserts the last thing I wanted was to try to go to sleep in a room that reminds me of more puddings.

I joined the pudding club as part of the Activity Superstore package that included the Pudding Club meeting and overnight accommodation for two people – a perfect romantic treat for pudding lovers everywhere.

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