Sensation Butterflies at Natural History Museum, London
Another day, another outing in the UK’s happy and glorious capital.
This time, we headed enthusiastically to the smart and sophisticated central London district of Kensington and to the world famous Natural History Museum. We didn’t head inside the museum itself though. Instead, we skipped over puddles down a path towards a marquee pitched alongside the grand Victorian main building. Inside, a special temporary exhibit called ‘Sensational Butterflies’.
While the main museum exhibits animals that are long past their living years, ‘Sensational Butterflies’ very much concentrates on living creatures, in particular over 50 species of butterflies and moths who are free to explore the warm, tropical, foliage-filled environment that has been created for them. Like in any museum, education is at the forefront of the experience. So while visitors gawp in wonder as colourful butterflies swoop and flutter around them, they can also learn about the fascinating life cycle that these beautiful creatures go through. Information boards explain the basics, while keen staff members are on hand to answer further questions from the extra curious.
If you do decide to see the exhibition for yourself, make sure you check out the hatchery, where lines of pupae are on show. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a butterfly or moth emerge from one. A magical experience!
The exhibit is open until 14 September 2014. You can find out more and buy tickets on the Natural History Museum website.
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Now you can keep track of all the latest posts, videos and photos from me and my fun-seeking, travel-loving associates on Twitter and Facebook. Not only will you get the latest updates, you’ll also get awesome travel content from elsewhere on the net. And all for free. What a deal!
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Malaysia Kitchen Spring Market, London
Better late than never I suppose, though it’s still pretty embarrassing that it’s taken me over six weeks to post about this superb event in London.
Malaysia Kitchen has a history of laying on events that bring hungry foodies out in their droves and the Spring Fair they held last month was no exception. The concept was actually pretty simple - have London’s best Malaysian restaurants set up stalls along the south bank of the River Thames and fill the bellies of Malaysian food fans with delicious bowls of happiness. I can’t say for certain that this was the exact wording used in the planning meeting, but it’s certainly what happened.
I was having an off day hunger-wise. Normally, I scoff my fill at events such as these, but on the day of the Spring Fair, I simply didn’t have an appetite. All I managed was a portion of sumptuously unctuous Satay chicken skewers. I almost gave myself a hernia trying to yank the chicken off the skewers with my teeth, but once I had, it was a real treat. The glaze on the chicken had caught slightly on the grill giving it a sweet, charcoal taste. The sauce that was lavished upon the skewers was full of flavour, full of peanuts and full of spice. Absolutely delicious! You can’t really go wrong with Satay Chicken!
Keep a close eye on the Malaysia Kitchen website for more upcoming events. If you’ve not tried Malaysian food before, these events are a great way to introduce yourself to one of the world’s best cuisines.
More London Free Festival
There’s always something to do and see in London. The sign of a Summer well spent is when the credit card company starts writing to you personally. This is especially true now that London has recently been declared one of the world’s most expensive cities (hardly surprising). So when something free comes along, the attention of culture-hungry, cash-strapped Londoners is especially piqued.
More London is a modern-looking business complex sitting on the South Bank of the River Thames, opposite the Tower of London. Each summer, for four straight months, they hold the More London Free Festival, a programme of live music, dance, theatre, films and sport.
Upon our visit, the theme was ‘Street Party’, a celebration of Latin and Caribbean food and music. We really enjoyed the food (as posted about recently) and the music was fun and catchy. Fellow visitors were compelled to take to their feet and dance in the sun while others watched and sipped Pimms. It was a lovely atmosphere.
During the upcoming Wimbledon fortnight, visitors will be able to sit outside and watch the action streamed live onto a big screen. There’s also plenty of live music and theatre planned too, including a performance from the London Bulgarian Choir and a play called ‘A Tale of Gods and Monsters. There’s surely something that you will enjoy if you happen to find yourself in London this Summer.
For a full programme of events, check out the More London website for details.
Staying Refreshed in the Summer Sun
What better way to spend some time in the sun than with some ice cold drinks, particularly if those drinks are a bit boozy!?
Whilst enjoying some free live music at the More London Free Festival at the weekend, we went for a great British staple, and also something a little bit different.
In the top right of the picture, a glass of ‘Pimms’, a wonderfully refreshing cocktail of Pimms liqueur, fizzy lemonade and a variety of fresh, chopped fruit and veg. Thanks to a clever and much favoured advertising campaign, many people in Britain now think it’s ‘Pimms O’Clock’ as soon as the temperature rises above 20 Celsius.
In the foreground, something I’ve never heard of before, let alone tasted. It’s Harry Brompton’s alcoholic Ice Tea. I’m already a huge fan of ice tea, it being massively refreshing and it being mostly tea (what can I say, I’m a Brit) so when Mr Brompton added silly juice to the mix, I was instantly sold. It tasted like any other ice tea, so it drank really easily like one too. The sprigs of mint and the fresh cucumber only added to the enjoyment. I’ll definitely be having another glass of this before the summer is out (which by UK standards will probably be next Wednesday).
A Taste of Venezuela in the London Sunshine
The weather forecast had told me that we were in for a day of heavy, thundery downpours. I had taken heed of the warnings and I’d gone into London suitably equipped with a gigantic golf umbrella. “Jumbrella” as I affectionately call it is an unwieldy pain to carry around at the best of times, but when the pre-warned soaking failed to materialise, it made the nuisance of brandishing it all the more irritating.
Thankfully, we had such an awesome day and the weather was so warm and sunny that I was kept almost entirely distracted from my irritation. We had a number of calls during our day in the UK’s capital, the first of which was at More London, a business development sitting plum alongside Tower Bridge. As well as offices, the relatively new complex of shiny, modern buildings hosts shops and restaurants and an arts space called The Scoop. This was where our attention was focused as the development once again ran its free fringe festival. I’ll post some more about this soon. For now, let’s focus on the food we ate. This is Here To Geneva after all!
As well as live music, there were a number of world food stalls, one of which particularly stood out for its uniqueness. It’s not often Venezuelan food gets mentioned in Britain (or Venezuela itself for that matter), so we jumped at the chance to sample some in the form of a filled Arepa from a much-talked-about company called Guasacaca.
Arepa is a flat bread made from cornflour. It has a very soft, dense texture and is slightly crispy on the outside thanks to the way it’s grilled. There were a variety of different fillings on offer. We went for the ‘Venezuelan’ variety which included spicy beef, black beans, grated cheese, and slices of plantain with a healthy spoonful of guacamole on top for good measure. Like most food from South America, the result was a comforting, flavourful, texture-laden lunch that we really enjoyed.
Guasacaca appear to be making their way around London, dropping in on various events and fairs, so if you fancy trying something new this summer, keep an eye on their Twitter feed so that you can track them down.
A Day Trip to Tallinn
I can’t say I was especially bowled over arriving into Tallinn’s passenger ferry terminal. That isn’t Tallinn’s fault of course. Whenever you arrive in a new country, the first thing you tend to see is a car park and and a fleet of waiting taxis and buses. Tallinn was no exception. Undeterred though, I set out expectantly underneath a grey sky that was producing even more snow than in Helsinki just 2 and a half hours earlier. The research I had done told me things were going to get much better.
Not immediately however. The route to the Old Town so many people come to Tallinn to see was lined with shopping centres, some of which I thought had an air of the Soviet Union about them. Rather than rows of shelves, the shop I popped into was lined with a series of glass-topped counters manned by stern-looking older ladies. The counters were filled with a variety of items from meats, cheeses, confectionery and alcohol to smoking paraphernalia, menacing-looking knives and hunting gear. One stall specialised in mugs with Vladimir Putin’s face on them. I must to admit, I was quite tempted by these. Some ladies tried to engage with me in Estonian, while others stared vacantly at their phones or looked silently and directly at me with unwarranted venom. I left the store mug-less and bemused and headed for the steeples of the Old Town.
Tallinn is one of those exceptions where first impressions don’t count. The Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a treasure trove of cobbled streets and narrow alleyways lined with curiosity shops and welcoming cafes and pubs. The city has a long and varied history with many of Estonia’s neighbours having staked a claim on the nation over the course of time. This is reflected in the Old Town’s architectural variety. Even streets that lead to nowhere in particular were picturesque and rich in character. I had come to Tallinn with high expectations and despite the weather and the initial dose of asphalt, engine fumes and retail weirdness, those expectations were very much met.
Decent Bowl of Elk Soup
As much I love snow, even I have a tolerance limit. I had four hours of exploration time in Estonia’s capital, Tallinn before the boat headed back to Helsinki and I wanted to spend every minute wisely. But there’s only so much horizontal snow hitting me in the face I can put up with. Cold, soaked and with a face that was red-raw, by the third hour I sought warmth and shelter. Regretfully, I didn’t head into this inviting establishment. Had I have noticed the English writing on the sign, I definitely would have. I’m not the sort of person that passes on an opportunity to have a bowl of Elk Soup, let alone a ‘decent’ one.
It was my first night in Helsinki and it was time for dinner. I wanted something tasty and authentically Finnish. So what did I choose?
What do you reckon the components of this delicious meal are?
Answer: It’s Sautéed Reindeer surrounded by mashed potato, accompanied by pickled gherkins and a pot of loganberries. Delicious and comforting.
This is St Mary’s Cathedral in Tallinn, Estonia, known locally as Toomkirik. On an ordinary day, it’s a very pretty building in what is a very pretty city. A dusting of snow though adds a little a little bit of extra magic.