A Review of Pamela’s Restaurant and Cocktail Bar, Great Yarmouth

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If you earn in a city like Paris, New York or London, if you live the 13-hour-day-at the-office routine, whereby eating out is almost the easier option and if you have even a whiff of interest in global cuisine, I suspect your journey into the world of food snobbery will be a speedy, effortless and seamless one. It is easy for those of us who live not just in geographical capitals but also food capitals of the world to forget that the genius of food craft is not confined to our cities. London’s leading and award-winning chefs did not fall out of their mothers’ wombs in the glitzy kitchens of Michelin starred restaurants.

They, like us, had a variety of backgrounds and upbringings, grafted to try and perfect their chosen art form and found themselves in institutions they are passionate about as a result.

Pamela's Restaurant Great Yarmouth

Pamela’s Restaurant Great Yarmouth

Throughout the United Kingdom, in other cities, towns, villages and households, budding and established masterchefs are lurking behind unassuming doors, proudly dishing up their signature plates with aesthetic artistry and polished, professional service, bringing the joy of the fine dining experience to communities all over the country.

Pamela's Cocktail Bar Restaurant Review

Pamela’s Restaurant – Fine Dining in Great Yarmouth

Pamela’s Cocktail Bar and Restaurant in Great Yarmouth is one such place and we discovered it earlier this month when we ventured over to the Suffolk seaside to celebrate my father in law’s birthday.

silver service luxury dining East Anglia

My in-laws have lived in this area for well over three decades and Pumpkin’s earliest memories all stem from this region, yet it was Trip Advisor that led us to this elegant restaurant near the seaside. Love or hate Trip Advisor, there is no denying that there are some restaurant gems just waiting to be uncovered on it, if you can face sifting through the reams of subjective and often polar reviews.

restaurant scallop starter

Succulent Starter Scallops at Pamela’s

I rarely write specific restaurant reviews – travel writing alone keeps me busy a-plenty and there are more than enough food bloggers out there who do a far better job of the food chat than I ever could. But I simply couldn’t resist showing you what we found at Pamela’s and I hope that if you think of, hear of or visit Great Yarmouth one day, aside from the images of beach huts and fish and chips on the pier, you will also remember to look up Pamela’s.

Rum Baba Dessert Rose Pistachio

Rum baba with Rose Petals, Pistachio & Rose Ice Cream at Pamela’s

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Travel Tips for Japan

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A practical tips post…now there’s a domain I never would have imagined myself entering when I first started blogging. I’m forever grateful to those of you who follow along regularly, especially since I know my own particular flavour of writing is a bit of an acquired taste – long, essay-like sheets of prose, an ad hoc posting schedule that sees my articles emerging at best once a week and at worst, once a month. The truth is that those who know this blog best will know that brief, punchy articles, which get straight to the point, just ain’t my cup of tea. I’m no good at them and even when I try (case in point right here), I fail.

Once a rambler, always a rambler.

Bullet Train Travel Japan

Why then am I taking a change of direction this week to give you a post stuffed full of the kind of practicalities and logistics that have no place in the heart of a fairytale-loving dreamer?

It’s because, in reality, to make these travel pipe dreams come true, you do need some planning, all the more so when travelling somewhere as alien to your own culture, language and way of life as Japan was to Pumpkin and I.

travelling Japan Lonely Planet

My man did more than 98% of the planning for our trip so I’ll get the marital disclaimers out the way nice and early in this post by thanking him for that so I can get on with sharing some of the handiest tips we he found  :D

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10 Reasons to Love Greenwich and Blackheath, London

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Anyone who knows me well will know that the city of London is firmly entrenched in my heart. It’s not just home, it’s my past, my present and (hopefully) my future and I got lucky in finding a man en route, who moved here for work a decade ago but ended up more taken with the city than I am.

I cringe at sounding all Carrie Bradshaw New York City about it but I speak the truth when I tell you that life in London is a dream realised .

Greenwich London highlights blog

I grew up in the suburbs outside London in a peaceful and leafy part of the country that fringes the city, so near yet felt so far from the city I yearned to experience. When university applications came, I had to select four choices – I gave all my allocations to London universities and after I graduated, I worked my backside off to bag myself a London job.

London blogs

Yes yes, I know you get nada for your money living hre and that the air will always be just a little lot more polluted and yes, I am not oblivious to the ugly, unforgiving sides of London but this month’s link up topic is about home – and this is mine.

Greenwich London Highlights

Greenwich Views

So how do you immortalise half a lifetime’s worth of memories and moments of a city into one blog post? Simple answer is you don’t so I won’t even attempt it. Instead, this post about the home within homeBlackheath and Greenwich a little pocket of South East London that even many Londoners are yet to visit. Until I met Pumpkin who was living in this ‘hood, I myself had never explored the area so if you aren’t yet familiar with this part of London Town, here are 10 reasons why I love Greenwich and Blackheath so much.

Greenwich and Blackheath Highlights

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A Day Trip from Tokyo to Mount Fuji Shibazakura Festival

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It rained on our June wedding day, neither torrentially nor offensively. Just a purring trickle, the kind that drips repetitively, pitter patter pitter patter pitter patter from the orifice of a neglected tap, sufficiently audible to the ears of the undistracted, failing short of a genuine irritant.

It was hardly a Shakespearean tragedy – all seasoned UK dwellers carry brollies year round. I was predictably told that it wouldn’t matter, that the day would be perfect regardless but those well-meaning yet anticipated words did little to appease my pre-wedding angst.

Pink Moss Flowerss Japan

Then, the day came.

It rained – from start to finish in one form or another.

And it was perfect.

seasonal spring Japan Tours April May

Pretty in Pink

The nervous bride back then would hardly have believed that it would eventually become a topic of light humour.

day trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo

An Idyllic Rainy Day by Mount Fuji

These days, when submerged under grey canopies and droplets on the patio, we rarely whinge; rather we find ourselves laughing wryly about how ”this weather is just like our wedding day,” the pregnant clouds bringing laughter to us in the most unexpected of ways.

The Shibazakura Festival Japan

The Fuji Shiba Sakura Festival

Following our big day though, the weather lords showed repentance. We flew to the Maldives in wet season; it rained the entirety of the week before our arrival but we were granted five days of flawless blue skies and shallow lagoons where fish would wade alongside us. We travelled to Borneo in wet season for 10 days. We had one evening of rain only, which started ferociously within minutes of us returning to our lodge after an entire day spent outdoors on a river safari, where we were completely at the mercy of the elements.

Japan blossom season

A Day Trip to Mount Fuji from Tokyo

One particular day in Japan this April however, it seemed we had played the last of our climate trump cards. After a few days of delightful springtime sunshine in Tokyo, we drew the curtains in our hotel room one morning to find a city bathed in fog. Ironically, it was the one day, above all others, that we were seeking clear skies because we were off to see (or not see) Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji one day tour

First Sight of Mount Fuji

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A Theatrical Stay at Hotel Teatro Porto

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When I decided to treat Pumpkin (and of course myself!) to a long weekend in Porto as a wedding anniversary celebration and I started putting some feelers out as to which hotel the travel community would recommend, the one name that kept recurring time and again was the Hotel Teatro. Repetitive soundbites included “quirky” and “funky” and it seems the elusive Mr and Mrs Smith also agreed.

Hotel Teatro Porto rooms

The city breaks that Pumpkin and I go on are typically jam-packed affairs, racking up some impressive mileage (I’m talking on foot not mid-air) and rarely leaving time to lounge around in hotels so truth be told, for most of my short-haul city breaks, I tend not to get too preoccupied with hotels. But on this occasion with so many comments coming my way about Hotel Teatro, curiosity took over and I couldn’t help but investigate.

Portugal best hotels

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A Dreamy Luxury Honeymoon at Breezes Beach Club & Spa, Zanzibar

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I hate to be a cliché and to fall into an unoriginal, predictable mould but whenever I am asked which of my world ventures I have found the most spine-tingling and which journey cast the greatest “was I really there” shadow, I have never needed more than a moment’s reflection.

luxury romantic hotel Zanzibar

I once thought there could be no answer other than the first time I stepped off the train in Manhattan, armed with my first pay packet, sandwiched between skyscrapers, knowing I had finally arrived in New York City, a destination I had always dreamed of.

The Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia, in all its lucent splendour will always remain a serious contender for the title. And more recently, the confetti-like layers of fragrant cherry blossoms, as they retired for the season, harmoniously layered on the soils of Tokyo’s tranquil gardens left a genuine and un-exaggerated longing to return to a country within just moments of arriving home.

Honeymoon Zanzibar Breezes

It was our honeymoon though, our off the beaten track luxury safari in Tanzania followed by a week of proud and unashamed laziness on the beaches of Zanzibar, that harbours the most treasured and intangible memories of all. The details are crisp in my mind and yet a tiny corner of me still struggles to truly believe we were there.

luxury Africa safari beach honeymoon

Did we really have to crouch to get into a miniscule plane that landed in a dirt track somewhere in the vast expanses of Selous Game Reserve? Did we genuinely come face to face with a giant hippo on land that had seemingly just been in a fight? Was the sand genuinely so white? Did I really stack my breakfast plate with passion fruit halves that were larger the size of my fist and play Scrabble on a sun lounger with my new husband whilst listening to the soothing sound of the waves?

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Spanish Afternoon Tea at Ametsa with Arzak Instruction, Halkin Hotel

Do you remember when you were a child and you had one favourite treat that never lost its allure no matter how many times over you experienced it?

For me, living through the scorching dry heat of the Middle Eastern summers, nothing was more sought after than a flawless cold sphere of Baskin Robbins’ pistachio almond ice cream, which we found at a mall a short drive away from the apartment we lived in.

Spanish afternoon tea

Like most good parents though, mine taught me that treats were for special occasions, as rewards or as gifts and not just part of a daily routine. Indeed, treat yourself to the treat too often and it no longer feels like a treat – which is exactly what (I thought) had happened to me with afternoon tea.

luxury novelty afternoon tea

After years of indulging in this decadent dining experience during my London escapades, I was feeling a little clotted creamed out and had a recent (almost) year long hiatus from my afternoon tea habit.

Until now.

London Travel Blogger

It was inevitable, I suppose, but last week, I finally fell off the wagon with an afternoon tea invitation that promised Michelin Star dining, Chelsea Flower Show inspired floral cocktails (and mocktails) and a crater sized berth from the norm. My inner afternoon-tea addict never stood a chance.

Chelsea flower show cocktails Halkin Hotel

Afternoon Tea at Ametsa with Arzak  Instruction at the Halkin Hotel

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4 Days in Oslo, Norway

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You know that moment when your mother in law invites you round for the bank holiday weekend and you decide to take everyone to Oslo instead?

Oslo Opera House Reflections

I speak candidly when I tell you that this particular weekend break was every bit as whimsical, random and impulsive as my introduction leads you to believe, planned (in the loosest sense of the world) with a grand total of a fortnight’s notice.

weekend in Oslo

Easter Weekend in the UK is a cosy pocket of time for those of us who work hard and travel hard; there aren’t many other times in the year when can you can enjoy a 3 night break away without sacrificing even a day of annual leave but despite this, Pumpkin and I had never previously taken advantage of Easter weekend for travel purposes.

When I realised both he and I as well as my in-laws were free for the entirety of the weekend, I pounced opportunistically to try and coordinate a long-awaited family holiday. Pumpkin’s expression, when I proposed the idea, was predictable and familiar – the increasingly defeated face of an Instagram husband, wondering when the dust will finally be allowed to gather on his suitcase.

“But we’re going to Japan in just 3 weeks” he wailed in exasperation – the relevance of his point completely lost on me.😀

Oslo travel tips recommendations

Oslo’s Modern and Innovative Opera House

Oslo, Norway, as a destination choice, came about completely by circumstance. Everyone wanted to visit a country they hadn’t previously travelled to (which ruled out most of Europe) yet we chose to stick to Europe given our limited time. A few internet searches later and I found myself booking a “bargain” weekend in Oslo but next time I dare to use the “b” word, I will be sure to do my research so I learn in good time that it is one of the most expensive cities in the world!

what to do with 4 days in Oslo

Unlike neighbouring capitals Copenhagen and Stockholm, Oslo, in many ways, seems to have fallen underneath the cluttered tourist radar, which makes it something of an ideal city break location; the streets are sparse, the tourist traps few and far between and the photogenic corners peppered across the city catch you completely off guard.

sights in Oslo

And to prove just how much of Norway’s mystical capital city you can see with just four days at your disposal (leisurely lie ins and afternoon coffee breaks included), here is my ultimate Top 20 Oslo guide. I rarely do chock-a-block compilation posts but I was taken aback by just how diverse an array of activities I found in this city and I left with the distinct feeling that Oslo deserves far more acclaim than it receives.

20 ways to spend 4 days in Oslo

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A Coffee and Dessert Tour in Budapest

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“We will be visiting some of Budapest’s most grand and historical cafes and also some of the best independent new wave coffee shops” our tour guide told us. What type of coffee do you both usually drink? Long or short?”

Budapest cafe tour

Pumpkin and I exchanged a subtle but awkward glance. I wasn’t entirely sure what the correct answer was but an instinctive hunch was telling me that it wasn’t “Frappucino with sugar-free hazelnut syrup and no whipped cream.”

Taste Hungary Dessert Tour

I may not have been a coffee aficionado prior to starting this tour but three hours later, I felt readier than ever to branch out from my longstanding love of tea. That’s the thing about a great food tour – it reaffirms your love for some things (cake, cake, always cake) and flirtatiously teases you into experimenting with others (coffees, sweet wines and chocolates with tarragon?!)

food walking tour Budapest

The Taste Hungary Dessert and Coffee Tour of Budapest

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An Unexpected Night’s Sleep at Narita Airport, Tokyo

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Unlike many around me, my teenage diary was never filled with rebellious confessions to land me in hot water with the parental justice system. No chemicals were consumed, no cigarettes lit and Mum and Dad were never called upon for any truancy-related conversations. I had my pubertal meltdowns from time to time, as most do, but my reasonably uncomplicated adolescent track record will not be inspiring Hollywood movies anytime soon.

And that trend continued even after I left home. Let’s talk travel for a moment (as that is what we do best on here.) I was never a student who hitchhiked rides to get from A – B. I wouldn’t have had the courage to fly anywhere without travel insurance and I always had accommodation booked in advance (regardless of how grotty it might have been.)

travelling Japan Lonely Planet

It was for these reasons why I never imagined, all these years on and now with a bit more wisdom, income and travel experience to my armoury, that I would find myself sleeping on an airport floor – immediately adjacent to a smoking room – in the middle of the night.

Allow me to rewind and elaborate.

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