Beijing is such a historical and cultural city, there is so much to do here and I’m so grateful to have enjoyed a good four weeks of sight seeing and exploring.
Along with the countless Temples and top sights including Tían’anmen Square, The Forbidden City and the Summer Palace I’ve really enjoyed getting stuck in and learning about some of the many traditions of old Beijing.
Xiaolongbao Cookery Class…
In many of my previous blogs I’ve gone on (and on 😜) about Xiaolongbao, the delicious soup dumplings that I am so obsessed with. Xiaolongbao is a type of steamed dumpling traditionally prepared in a xiaolong (a small bamboo steaming basket) and they are like a little burst of heaven in your mouth.
After trying soup dumplings for the first time in Hong Kong, I have tried various Xiaolongbao restaurants in both Shanghai and Beijing. A great one is Din Tai Fung, a little chain of restaurants throughout China. I’m really hoping they branch out to the UK… but just incase they don’t, I looked for a cookery class in Beijing on how to make Xiaolongbao… and I found one! Now I can truly take a taste of China home with me…
I found the class at The Hutong (link below) and a little group of us went along and we all had such a brilliant afternoon, I felt like a contestant on the Great British Bake off… minus the bunting!
Making the dough was all sorts of fun, obviously there were some Paul Hollywood impressions being thrown around the table… It crossed my mind that if this were a technical challenge, I don’t think I would have made star baker. (Unless of course you take into consideration the tasting part and who ate the most dumplings… in which case I was the solid winner.)
Sophia our teacher taught us the recipe for the dipping sauce, the pork filling, how to make the soup and of course the art of rolling and folding the dumpling. It was actually a lot more difficult and fiddly than I thought and I will definitely have to practice a lot before I achieve the perfect Xiaolongbao… I have a feeling the ShawClan won’t mind a bit! 😋
A Hutong is a type of narrow alley (a bit like the shambles in York, but bigger.) There are loads in Beijing and northern China. Hutongs are little neighbourhoods and some of them are very trendy and have what I would describe as an “East London” kind of vibe with quirky coffee shops, vintage stores and one off boutiques.
We found this amazing brunch restaurant, Toast, in a hotel called The Orchid. Not only do they serve brunch until 2.30pm (👍) but they have an amazing menu- including chocolate chip pancakes with cinnamon maple syrup butter… need I say more?
The owners of Toast were so friendly and recommended a great walk for us to take that led us to Wudaoying Hutong. On the way we stumbled across an incredible vintage store called Miss Eliza Vintage, you can have a bash at haggling in here and pick up some real gems.
Traditional Hotpot & Dancing noodles!
Hot pot is a variety of East Asian food, prepared with a simmering pot of stock at the dining table. While the hot pot is kept simmering, ingredients are placed into the pot and are cooked at the table.
Sharing food is a traditional part of dining in China. I’ve noticed, upon eating out over here, that one person is given a menu and orders for the whole table, then everyone shares.
Haidilao Hotpot is an authentic Sichuan hotpot restaurant famous not only for it’s delicious hotpots and great service (you can actually get a complimentary manicure while you wait in the queue for a table) but for their dancing noodles…
The Chefs come out and noodlefy (new technical term) your noodles before adding them to your hotpot.
If you are looking for a bit of a dining experience whilst in Beijing, then I highly recommend Haidilao Hotpot.
Open 24 hours
Address: 8/F, In 88 Shopping Mall, No.88 Wangfujing Main Street, Dongcheng District, Beijing
If you get the opportunity to visit Beijing, then I recommend getting yourself a Lonely Planet guide, a map, a metro card (they are 20 RMB – 25p) and get stuck into the culture, try new things… thats the true Beijing… and the best bit.
Huge thanks to all staff at the JW Marriott, Tianqiao Art Theatre and all the lovely audiences that came by to support us 😊
Each time I have written a blog over the past year it’s been one step further along the tour, one step closer to the finish line. Never has that been more apparent than right now. I’m sat in my hotel room in Guangzhou, our final destination on this International touring adventure. Twelve weeks in China seemed like such a long period of time, but my goodness how it’s flown! In just two weeks I’ll be going into my last weekend of performances before heading off on that long journey back home. But first… Guangzhou, let’s be having you!
The bad news is time flies, the good news is you’re the pilot.
We’ve been really spoilt here in Shanghai. Lovely little cafes, bars and restaurants. Beautiful parks and gardens. Plenty of shops, markets and bazaars. The food is phenomenal and to top it off they have a DisneyLand.
There are so many places I could recommend in Shanghai, but at risk of writing the worlds longest blog, I’ve narrowed it down to just a few of my favourite haunts that I’ve found over my last five weeks here…
If I’ve not mentioned this before, then along with most of the population of the world it seems, I am obsessed with avocado… in salads, in smoothies, in wraps and especially on toast. I also have real thing for feta cheese, I think because I don’t put much salt in (or on) my food it gives that little salty flavour that I would otherwise be lacking. I always cook my scrambled egg with a bit of feta cheese, I find it stops the eggs from becoming too dry but still allows you to cook your eggs fully (I cannot bear a snotty egg!) So, naturally I love it when avocado and feta are together on a menu and I will always choose that (even over pancakes!)
The avocado smash on toast at Kommune was my absolute favourite breakfast/brunch I’ve had here in Shanghai. Kommune is a really cute little cafe in the middle of Tianzifang. The coffee is really good and they have wifi… bonus! Tianzifang reminds me a little of Spitalfield Market or the North Lanes in Brighton, lots of cute little shops and boutiques to explore. Breakfast and shopping… what’s not to like?
I’m not going to beat around the Bund, I had one of the best meals I’ve ever had here in Shanghai. When I say meal, I really mean dining experience, and when I say dining experience, I really mean culinary art.
Mr and Mrs Bund by Chef Paul Pairet is a French restaurant located on the sixth floor of a beautiful building on the Bund. I found it in my lonely planet guide, tipped as one of the best restaurants in Shanghai, so naturally I had to give it a whirl.
The menu is extensive with many French classics including beef bourguignon, a personal favourite of mine (my Mum makes an incredible version!)
After a day out, at a certain magical kingdom, a group of us decided to push the boat out and book a table at Mr and Mrs Bund. We knew it would be expensive but we decided to treat ourselves in celebration of our final week in Shanghai. Our waiter recommended a variation of the set menus so we could try and taste an array of dishes between us. Since all six of us are complete and utter foodies this idea worked perfectly for us. We chose Bistrot, PP Classics and Le’ Essentiel. (I have attached a menu below 😋)
Being from a family of hardcore food lovers I am always up for trying new things, there really isn’t anything that I don’t like, except for perhaps Spaghetti – which is thanks to one of my favourite childhood books “The Twits” where Mrs Twit serves up worms for Mr Twit and tells him it’s Spaghetti… I simply cannot get past the texture! Thankfully I was not at Mr and Mrs Twits house but rather Mr and Mrs Bunds although ironically, I did try another garden favourite… snails or Escargots (which made it sound a little more appetising) but actually they were blooming lovely… perhaps if Mrs Twit had soaked those worms in garlic, things may have been different for old Mr Twit.
Everything I tried I absolutely loved but my favourites were the Jumbo Shrimp in a Glass Jar with citrus, lemongrass & vanilla, the Wagyu Ribeye and for dessert (and arguably the winning dish of the evening) was the Lemon & Lemon Tart, which is a candied whole lemon, lemon Sorbet and lemon curd. Apparently it takes three days to make… it took me three seconds to eat.
If you are partial to a tipple or two, I would recommend trying the Mr Bund’s Kiss cocktail. Delicious!
Dinner : Sunday to Wednesday : 5:30pm to 10:30pm (last order) Thursday to Saturday : 5:30pm to 11:00pm (followed by Late Dinner service)
Late Night Dinner : Thursday to Saturday : 11:00pm to 02:00am (last order)
LOCATION: The Bund 18, 6/F, 18 Zhongshan Dong Yi Lu (near Nanjing Dong Lu) Shanghai 200002
外滩18号6楼,中山东一路18号 (靠近南京东路)上海 200002
Book ahead of time and grab a table by the window and enjoy the pretty views looking over at the Shanghai skyline. 💕
Shanghai Tower is the second tallest building in the world, the first being Burj Khalifa in Dubai. However with 128 floors above ground, the Shanghai Tower has the highest viewing platform, located on the 121st floor at 1841ft high.
Kim and I waited for a lovely sunny day so we could enjoy the clearest views. A few of my other colleagues visited the tower by night and said how pretty the city looked with all the lights. I would definitely recommend taking the Ferry over to Pudong from the Bund, it only costs about 2RBM (20p) and it drops you off pretty much right outside the tower.
OPENING HOURS: 8.30am-10.30pm
TICKET ENTRY: 180 RBM (£20)
Shanghai Observatory,501 Middle Yincheng Road, Pudong (… although impossible to miss!)
YùYúan Gardens 🌸
Yùyúan Gardens and Bazaar is a beautiful bustling tourist haven and I can totally see why. It’s so pretty, the gardens alone are simply stunning and if you are in Shanghai, then it’s definitely worth a visit. You can pick up all manner of souvenirs and gifts in and around the Bazaar. Yùyúan is such a lovely place to have a wander around but I would recommend steering clear of weekends or public holidays for the best experience.
OPENING HOURS: 8.30am-5.30pm Monday-Sunday (last entry at 5 pm)
TICKET ENTRY: For the gardens, 40RBM (£4.50)
If you have read my previous blogs you will know that I’m a bit of a Disney fan. I worked for Disney Cruise Line back in 2004 so visiting the Disney parks gives me such a sense of nostalgia, bringing back such lovely memories of that time of my life.
I was super excited for our visit to Disneyland in Shanghai! The park has only been open a year, they have some fantastic rides (Tron, Pirates of the Caribbean) and there was also talk of a certain Cheesecake Factory 😋 (but more on that in a minute!)
A really special moment was meeting Belle, (as we were very good friends back in 2004.) Whenever I have visited the parks previously I’ve only ever seen Belle in the parades, so I was delighted to meet her here, in Shanghai.
Speaking of special moments… Whilst in DisneyLand we took the opportunity to visit The Cheesecake Factory. Now I’m not one to forget a fantastic slice of Cheesecake and back in good old 2004 my Mum and I went to the Cheesecake Factory in Florida. Even 13 years later I remember that cheesecake… Raspberry and White Chocolate, rich yet light and utterly delicious. So you can imagine my excitement at reliving that taste sensation, would it live up to the memory….?
… Yes. Yes it did.
I have had a truly fantastic five weeks here in Shanghai. Huge thanks to everyone at the Theatre and the fantastic staff at the Howard Johnson HuaiHui Hotel who have been so attentive and kind. Also a special shout out to the Strictly Cookie company, of which I could take shares out in the amount of cookies I’ve bought… hands down the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. (Not to be confused with biscuits, Farmhouse Chocolate Oatflips still hold the title in the best biscuit department.)
On a side note, I’ve been Bloggering About for one year this weekend!… I can hardly believe how quickly the time has gone. I really enjoy writing about my adventures and sharing them with you. So a big heartfelt thanks from me for taking the time to read my blog. 💕
Shanghai has to be the city that I’ve acclimatized to the quickest. Normally the first two weeks of a new place I’m still finding my feet, but here in Shanghai it just feels like I slipped into a familiar pair of shoes… and they are very comfortable.
One of the things that I love most about Shanghai, is the abundance of individual coffee houses, bars and boutiques. Hardly any chains in sight. I really like that. It’s fantastic to see small business’ thriving here, and whilst I’m in this little touring bubble I intend to visit as many as I can.
Having been here in Shanghai for two weeks already, I can tell you that everywhere I’ve been has been absolutely top notch 👌. For example, the Bagel shop around the corner from our hotel (Spread the Bagel) has some of the best bagels I have ever tasted. The coffee in literally every cafe I’ve visited has been scrumptious, my favourite being Coffee Belt, they do the BEST Flat White.
In a lot of bars and cafes you need a Chinese phone number to access the Internet. Though there are positives and negatives to this. The hardest being that I cannot reach out to my family as easily or get myself on social media as frequently but on the flip side the positives are that I don’t have my head stuck in my phone 24/7 and I can actually have a conversation with my peers over lunch 😉 … so maybe it’s a refreshing thing… it’s all very 1999 and we managed then 🙂
If you are visiting China for a long period of time then I would suggest getting a Chinese SIM for your phone, there are many places you can purchase one from here, but you will need to unlock your phone or bring a spare non- smart phone with you.
Brunch is really big in Shanghai *does a happy dance* and as you know I’m a big fan of brunch, breakfast and anything pancake related.
Egg is a really good, reasonably priced all day breakfast/brunch/brinner spot that has become quite popular with our company. The food is great and it’s got a really nice friendly feel to it. Their menu also includes smashed avocado on toast, chilli candied bacon and carrot cake pancakes 😋😋😋
Food is a central activity of mankind and one of the single most significant trademarks of a culture. -Mark Kurlansky
It’s always a bitter sweet feeling leaving a venue. Leaving behind the experiences you had, the places you’ve visited, the people you’ve met. Packing up your suitcase furiously, trying to squeeze everything in.
I‘m currently sat in Manila Airport waiting to board my flight, dreading the 15 hours but looking forward to seeing my families beautiful little faces when I get back to a cold (and hopefully sunny) England.
Since all I can think about is Roast dinner with all the trimmings *, I felt I couldn’t leave Manila without sharing some of my favourite eateries with you…
*Tracy Shaw style.
Le Creperie 🥞
Sweet V Savoury…
I don’t think savoury pancakes/crepes were a thing back in the UK especially as i was growing up. It was generally pancakes with lemon and sugar (which incidentally is still my favourite to this day.) I remember the first time I tried a savoury crepe, it was in the south of France and it was a complete revelation. But being the creature of habit that I am, nearly every pancake day I still stick to my old faithful… the lemon and sugar.
…Except for this one…
What do you do when both sweet and savoury crepes on the menu look so delicious it’s impossible to choose which one to go for?
Answer: Have both of course!
… And that’s exactly what we did. Well, it was pancake day and if you can’t push the boat out on pancake day, when can you? And quite frankly, I didn’t give a crepe… I was going for it.
For my savoury pancake I chose the Super Complete, which was ham, egg, gruyere cheese, mixed mushrooms and tomato for 415.00 pesos (£6.50) My verdict? Super tasty and completely delicious…basically breakfast in a crepe… need I say more!
After my obsession in Singapore with Kueh dadar which, for those of you who aren’t familiar with this dessert, it is essentially a green pandan pancake with palm sugar and coconut flakes inside (and tasty as anything!) I decided to go against my norm and choose the Coco Crepe-aroon, 185pesos (£3.)
The filling was coconut flakes, dulche de leche sauce and lemon juice (… my poor teeth!) This was a little like Kueh dadar but sweeter, and if I may say, not quite as yummy.
Sarah, in our cast, simply couldn’t decide what toppings to have on her crepe… so she had them all…. she’s my kind of girl!
V Corporate Center, 125 L.P. Leviste St. (Facing Soliman St. side), Salcedo Village, Makati City
Mon-Sat 11am – 10:30pm
Wholesome Table 🥕🥒🥑
I’ve noticed a couple of things during my stay here in Manila. Firstly that the Mangos here are the best I’ve ever tasted and secondly that the people here absolutely LOVE sugar.
If you are searching for some good clean food in Manila then I would recommend paying a visit to Wholesome table. The menu is great and caters for vegetarian, gluten free and vegan diets too.
I had the Buddha bowl, which was a little bowl of delicious goodness which involved organic brown rice with mixed vegetables, thai red coconut curry sauce, pea sprouts and homemade peanut brittle.
It definitely hit the spot.
Salcedo Branch GF Infinity Tower, H.V. Dela Costa corner Leviste St, Salcedo Village, Makati
Spiral International Buffet, Sofitel
I think I’ve already made my feelings on buffets quite clear. There is a line in Friends Season 5 where Joey tells Chandler at the casino breakfast buffet, “This is where I make all my money back.” For me this buffet was ALL about the cheese… this is where I made all my cheese back.
I tried a variety of cheeses, my two favourites being the truffle Brie and beer infused cheddar… I know!
They don’t call it an International buffet for nothing. There is literally every cuisine here to try. Seafood, steak, carveries, Indian cuisine, Chinese cuisine, Sushi, Pasta, Pizza … the list goes on.
I have to say that the food here was magnificent and definitely the best I have tasted in Manila. Although pricey at £45 a head, totally worth the treat!
Sofitel Philippine Plaza Manila CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard Pasay City 1300 Metro Manila,
The Refinery 🍳
If you find yourself craving really good coffee, I’d recommend this spot. The food is pretty awesome too and was definitely my favourite breakfast in Manila. I had a vanilla latte (150 pesos / £2.40) which was SO good I wanted another. I went for the Pomodoro (270 pesos / £4.30) which isn’t something I would normally pick off a menu but I thought I’d go against the grain. It was very tasty (albeit VERY garlicky… which isn’t the best move when you sing in people faces… poor Boq!) and I loved the toasted croissant bread – something I may have to try and replicate in my own kitchen at home.
Missouri Street, G/F, Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Centre, Greenhills, Makati, Metro Manila
Mon-Wed: 6am- 1am
Thu-Sat: 7am – 1am
Sunday: 6am – 1am
I hope these recommendations are helpful should you find yourself in Manila, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!
I’d like to extend a huge thank you to everyone at the Diamond Hotel, Solaire and all the lovely folk who came to support our show here, you’ve been awesome. We’ve had a blast and I will never forget my time in Manila.
Next stop Shanghai… but first a little three week break at home ❤
Lots of love,
“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.”
I was about 8 years old at a family do. It was the 90’s and prawn vol-au-vents were still a thing. I always looked forward to our family parties… lots of fun, games and silliness with my favourite silly people. But also the main event. The Buffet.
It’s all my Grandma’s fault really, she made these Raspberry Creams that everyone went nuts for. Raspberries and double cream cushioned by a dome of lady fingers in a bowl of sugary scrumptiousness. The taste was out of this world and as many times as I have tried, I can never seem to make one as delicious as my Grandma’s.
When it came to buffet time I liked to hang out in the kitchen and help bring out the dishes to the table. (And by bring out, I mean taste test each and every dish.)
I had three helpings of Raspberry cream. Three.
Since then, things haven’t changed much…
Wildflour Cafe & Bakery
If there’s one word I enjoy as much as buffet, it’s breakfast.
Having heard so many good reports about the food at the Wildflour cafe in Makati, I felt the only polite thing to do would be to go and check it out for myself…
Located in the financial district of Makati, it took us a little while to get there from the hotel.
In theory Makati is only about a 15 minute drive from where we are staying. In Manila, I suggest you allow at least 45 minutes for traffic where ever you are going… especially if you are going to a bakery… I mean, you wouldn’t want to miss out on those baked goods would you? 😜
And baked goods a plenty at Wildflour… I was in a bakery wonderland…
The menu was extensive with such a variety to choose from. They also do lunch and dinner here- which I will, no doubt, go back and try at some point before I leave.
I chose the French toasted brioche with maple syrup (395pesos – £6.50)
It. Was. Delicious. It reminded me of my Mum’s bread and butter pudding 😋 It was also the size of a brick… the biggest French toast in the world (well… that I’ve seen!) It beat me… and it’s very rare for me to not finish a meal… very rare indeed!
Wildflour really is one of the best breakfast places that I have visited in a while, I am looking forward to returning once (or thrice) before I leave.
Wildflour Cafe & Bakery
Mon- Thurs: 7am- 10pm
Fri- Sat: 7am- 11pm
Sunday: 8am- 4pm
125 LP Leviste Street, Salcedo Village 1227 Makati City
Four weeks down and three to go, I have so much more to explore and write about. If you have any recommendations of must try cafes, bars or restaurants then I’d love to hear from you… I am always up for trying something new!
As always, lots of love
Grandma’s Raspberry Cream Recipe 🍰
You will need:
2 Tins of Raspberries
A few fresh Raspberries
170 ml double cream – whipped
24 Italian sponge fingers (lady fingers)
Drain the tinned raspberries over a shallow dish, set aside the drained raspberries in a separate dish.
Soak the sponge fingers in the juice from the raspberries and start to line a pudding bowl (a glass Pyrex bowl is good as you can see if there are any cracks you have missed).
Be careful not to let the first few sponge fingers soak up all the raspberry juice, so move the soaked fingers onto a plate until you need them.
Once you have lined the bowl with the sponge fingers, put a spoonful of raspberries into the bowl, then add the whipped cream to cover the raspberries and continue to layer until you have reached the top.
You should have enough sponge fingers left to cover the top sealing the pudding.
Place a plate on top of the bowl with a weight on the plate. Put in the refrigerator and leave for at least two hours.
When ready to serve, turn the pudding bowl upside down on a serving plate and lift the bowl from the sponge fingers. At this point you can add fresh raspberries about the base of the Raspberry Cream. Enjoy!
Please feel free to send me photos of your Raspberry Cream efforts and what you think… I hope you enjoy it as much as me ❤️
There’s a great big hunk of world down there with no fence around it ~ Lady & the Tramp.
It’s no secret that I love Disney. I grew up in the 90’s during a spell of amazing Disney films… The Little Mermaid, Beauty & the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King. Not to mention those incredible Pixar films…
You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.” – Gusteau, Ratatouille
I love a good quote, a good inspirational quote. Disney are great at teaching children (young and old!) life lessons through their stories…what it means to love someone, and not just in the romantic sense. And how it is ok to be different and it wouldn’t do for us all to be the same… what a boring world we would live in…
One things for sure, Disney are masters of story telling. Films about courage, love, friendship and kindness… which, in my book, is the most important trait a person can have.
Have courage and be kind ~ Cinderella
DisneyLand, Hong Kong 🇭🇰
I cannot believe I have now been in Hong Kong for six weeks… Time has literally run away with me…
One thing I had on my check list of places to go to whilst in Hong Kong, was Disneyland. Having only ever been to the one in Orlando Florida, I was really looking forward to experiencing Disney on the other side of the world.
A day ticket for Disneyland is $590HKD (£60) which is pretty standard for Disney. I had heard the park was quite small but I thought it was really well set up and contained. There are seven lands to explore… Adventureland, Grizzly Gulch, Mystic Point, Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland and Main Street, U.S.A.
My friend Victoria and I were really lucky with characters, as we saw (and got to meet) many. Including the usual suspects, Mickey and Minnie. ❤ My only disappointment is that I didn’t get to meet Stitch..
The parades were absolutely brilliant, we stayed for the night parade and it was just so colourful and well… Disney. Children’s faces (including mine and my friends) all lit up as bright as the lights. Personally, having worked for Disney when I was 19, I feel a real sense of nostalgia when I visit the park.
I’m sure most would agree, whatever your age, that you’d be hard pushed to leave Disneyland without a smile on your face.
After Victoria and I left Disneyland, we’d eaten so much sugar and naughty food but we hadn’t really had a substantial meal as such. (A good tip is to pack a little lunch to take with you- as you would expect it’s a bit “fast foodie” in the park.)
One of my favourite clean eating spots that I’ve found in Hong Kong is veggie/vegan restaurant, Home~Eat To Live in Central. The food is fresh, tasty and you know you are getting some good honest nutritious food down you. 🥕🥒🥑
One of my favourite dishes is the cauliflower and kale mash with sunflower seeds sprinkled on top (delish 😋)
If you have read any of my previous blogs, you will know that I am partial to a burger… (The Big Bear Burger springs to mind- you know what I’m talking about!) The veggie burgers here are absolutely delicious, my favourite is The Polar Bear Burger… Beetroot, Mushroom & Oat Patty, Roasted Bell Peppers, Smoked Eggplant Caviar, Classic Aioli … yum.
Last week I ventured over to Mong Kok, Kowloon to The Ladies Market to have a ganders (and possibly a cheeky purchase!) With over 100 stalls of bargain clothing, accessories and souvenirs, the Ladies’ Market on Tung Choi Street is a must!
My top tip would be to leave a little room in your suitcase, as it is the perfect place to get keepsakes and some presents to take home 😊
MON-SUN: 3pm (ish) – Midnight
NEAREST MTR: Mong Kok, Exit E2.
I’ve had so much fun over the last few weeks, visiting as many places as I can fit in during my stay, including The 10,000 Buddhas, Lamma Island, Lion Rock (to name but a few.) Along with some, quite frankly incredible food places, so keep your eyes peeled for my next couple of blogs featuring those!
Lots of love Emily xxx
Everyone has a favourite Disney film… What’s yours?
A Christmas away from home and family was always going to be… challenging. And not that I want to be totally predictable and make it all about the food… but… missing out on my Mum’s amazing Christmas dinner is… well you can imagine how I feel about that 😩. Christmas time is truly my favourite time of the year, it’s magical. I associate it with happy childhood memories, it’s family time. A time for all my favourite people to get together and be silly and eat and drink far too much.
This Christmas was a great one. Hong Kong kind of nailed Christmas. And seriously, when will I get to spend another Christmas in this amazing City? I had to embrace it. I saw it as a total adventure, I felt like Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (If you have not seen this film, we cannot be friends.)
Hong Kong was full of so much Christmas cheer. Lights, trees, impromptu carol concerts (I saw three when I was out Christmas shopping.) In Time Square there were mini Santa’s dancing to “Last Christmas” and when I visited Victoria Peak (amazing view, more on that later!) there were a group of school children singing Christmas songs while we waited for the tram. Delightful.
Deck The Halls…
It’s easy to find a Christmas Tree in Hong Kong, from high end stores to cheap and cheerful markets. The best one I found (and good value for money) was at Japan Home on Sharp Street, Causeway Bay. Blink and you’ll miss it, it’s up a little staircase with a yellow sign. I spent roughly about £20, and £20 well spent as my hotel room looked bloomin’ lovely!🎄
Walking In The Air
On Christmas Eve we decided to take the tram ride up to Victoria Peak, the highest mountain on Hong Kong island with an elevation of 552 m.
There are several ways to get to the top of the peak, walking, car or taxi. I thought the tram would be the most authentic route and since we had a bit of time on our hands we didn’t at all mind queuing, (especially since the school children were kindly entertaining us with their best Christmas medley.)
A return tram ride ticket was approximately £8 each and we did queue for an hour. Like Tian Tan Buddha, queues will always be expected as The Peak is one of the top sight seeing spots in Hong Kong, so if you want to avoid queuing I would recommend an early start or perhaps a taxi up and the tram back down. Needless to say that the view was absolutely worth it…
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Oh and we did…’merry’ being the operative word.
Now then. I did slightly push the ‘slay’ out on Christmas Day and book Christmas Dinner at Tom Aitken’s two (fancy) Michelins star restaurant, The Pawn in Wan Chai. I have never dined at a Michelin Star restaurant before, a Michelin star food hawker in Singapore yes, but not a restaurant. I was literally beside myself with excitement.
First things first, we had a bottle of bubbly. Wine and sparkling efforts were pretty pricey but this was a treat and if you can’t treat at Christmas… (Well that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)
There was a special set 4 course menu for Christmas Day. The first being ricotta and pesto on sour dough bread, which was yum.
For the starter I selected the duck and shaved celeriac salad, which was very light yet flavoursome.
For my main course I chose the classic Christmas Roast Turkey dinner with all the trimmings (pictured, bottom left.) When you can’t have Tracy Shaw’s Christmas dinner then this was definitely the next best thing (which is high praise!) The turkey was cooked to perfection and not dry at all. The accompanying roast pots and veg were delicious too- and generous with the gravy.
Normally I would have gone for the chocolate pudding with honeycomb ice cream 😋 but since it was Christmas I just couldn’t turn down the Christmas Pud and custard… Divine. (Both dishes pictured above… enjoy!)
I thought this restaurant was fantastic, from the food to the service. I’m so glad I booked here for my Christmas Dinner, it is a little pricey but worth every penny. This place gets a thumbs up from me 👍 (and not just because of the bubbles! 🍾)
Lunch: Mon to Fri, 12pm- 2:30pm, Sat to Sun, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm
Dinner: Mon to Fri, 6pm – 10pm Sat to Sun, 6pm – 10pm
Nearest MRT: Wan Chai
On Boxing Day usually you’d find me curled up on the sofa sporting a Christmas jumper with a turkey roll (and a side of quality streets.)
The last time I spent a Christmas on a beach I was in Mexico, I remember it felt strange to feel the warmth on my skin in December. It certainly isn’t a Christmas I’ll forget. Like this one, it’s one to remember. So, as it was our day off, and such a gorgeous one, I decided to spend this years Boxing day (or beaching day, as I like to call it) on the beach in Stanley.
From Wanchai we took the 260 bus (from outside the Immigration centre) to Stanley and it took approximate thirty minutes.
Stanley is a great day out. I really enjoyed wandering around and exploring. Stanley Market is great, definitely worth a good look around. I think I enjoyed it as much as Temple Market. There is of course the beach but also a beautiful park leading to a Temple and the Kwun Yum Buddhist Monastery.
Frosty The Snowman
The amount of Ice Cream I demolished over Christmas certainly made up for the lack of frosty weather this year…
Emack & Bolio’s – An American company since 1975, have been widely recognised for their outrageous ice creams, funky cones and delicious smoothies and shakes. I had never experienced a place like it before (we don’t have this brand in the UK) I had never had an ice cream like this either! I went for the rice-crispie cone, cake mix ice cream (with bits of actual cake batter 😋) topped off with toasted marshmallow- which made it taste like a heavenly baked Alaska, an ice cream that dreams are made of. (Pictured.)
Emack & Bolios: 26 Cochrane Street,
Mon– Sun 11am – 11pm
Nearest MTR: Central, Exit D2
Auld Lang Syne
Safe to say I have had one of the most memorable Christmas’ here in Hong kong. I feel so grateful to have spent the holiday season in such a welcoming city, and the fireworks at New year… class. Hong kong, you totally rocked Christmas!
Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read my blogs over 2016, it’s been an adventure for me and I really do enjoy sharing my experiences with you all, as well as documenting them for myself. I hope some of you manage to pick up some useful info on some of the exciting places I have visited. As usual, any questions or suggestions then please feel free to comment below.
I want to wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year. Here’s to 2017… let it be a bright one!
Love Emily xxx
Keep the change ya filthy animal…. and a happy new year!
Extreme tiredness and other physical effects felt by a person after a long flight across different time zones.
I’ve always fancied myself as a mind over matter type of gal… However, flying from Singapore to London followed by London to Hong Kong in less than two weeks gave the matter of my mind a bit of a challenge (to put it mildly) …Hence my first week in Hong Kong is a little blurred…to say the least!
I come from a small town in Northamptonshire, England, called Higham Ferrers. It’s a pretty little market town, everyone knows everyone and whenever we drive down the old A6 along the Market Square I feel that true sense of home. Higham is perhaps not quite a two hour drive from London and when Daniel (my brother) and I were little, Mum and Dad used to take us to the big smoke as a treat maybe once or twice a year.
London is still hands down my favourite city in the world. I love cities, I love the hussle and bussle, the lights, the interesting people you meet. So, imagine my delight when I (finally) woke up in Hong Kong, one of the most cosmopolitan, vibrant cities in the world….
The first week in a venue, be it Bradford, Singapore or Hong Kong, is always a little trickier because we are putting the show on in a new theatre. Since we gain new members of our team in each venue we go to including musicians, technicians and wardrobe departments, we are rehearsing the show with them for the first time. It’s great that we get to work with local people who live in Hong Kong and it’s the best way to learn about some of the sight seeing we can do while we are here… first hand recommendations from our local team ☺️
On our first day off in Hong Kong, a small group of us decided to take a trip to Lantau Island to see the Tian Tan Buddha statue (informally known as the Big Buddha) and the Po Lin Monastery.
There are a number of ways to get to the Island, (see below.) We decided to take the cable car which cost £18 return. You can go the whole hog for £25 and get a car with a glass bottom but that makes my feet itch just thinking about it!
Because this is such a popular attraction, one thing to be aware of is the queue. Trip advisor did warn us that it can take up to three hours…lucky for us we didn’t have to wait that long, but still we waited for over an hour. If you want to avoid queues altogether I suspect you might need to get there as early as possible, we arrived at the cable car station at around mid day and it was very busy!
I’m not great with heights but I loved the Cable Car experience, the views were breathtaking and on our return the sun was setting which made it pretty darn special.
You should allow the whole day for this excursion. There is a lot to see here on the Island, plenty of photo opportunities and I found the whole experience peaceful and tranquil.
🚡 BY CABLE CAR: Take the MTR (tube) to Tung Chung Station, Exit B for Ngong Ping Cable Car. (25 minutes plus queuing time!)
🚌 BY BUS: Take the MTR to Tung Chung Station, Exit B for New Lantao Bus 23 from Tung Chung Town Centre. (45 minutes.)
⛴ BY FERRY: Take the ferry from Central Pier 6 to Mui Wo, then take the New Lantao Bus 2 to Ngong Ping Village. (40 minutes.)
I love burgers… Beef burgers. There. I said it. Remember when I had the severe case of the food envies and I had to go back for the Big Bear Burger at I Am Cafe in Singapore? On my 30th birthday we went for burgers, at my Hen party we went for burgers…when I ran the London Marathon I swear meeting my friends and family at Byron Burger made me run a little quicker. I’m burger mad. I may as well rename this blog Burgering About.
I’m happy to report that I found a winner of a burger joint here in Hong Kong. Beef and Liberty. Their ethos is proudly serving hormone-free grass-fed beef.
I had the good old fashioned Hamburger (£9.80) with Mac & Cheese Bites (£5.20)😋 …I know right! Both were excellent and as per were inhaled by me, sorry not sorry.
Beef and Liberty are also veggie friendly and offer the Beetroot burger which consists of brown rice, beetroot, goats cheese, cumin and coriander (£9.80) After 2pm on Monday’s order a veggie burger and you’ll get a free veggie side 👍
BEEF & LIBERTY: Star St. Precinct, 23 Wing Fung St
Mon-Thurs: 11:30 – 22:30
Fri-Sun: 11:00 – 23:00
Nearest MTR: Wanchai
Hong Kong Night Markets
One of my favourite things to do when I have a day off in London (rare) and when the weather is good (even rarer) is mooch around Portobello Road, Spitalfields or Camden. When I lived in South London I used to love looking around Greenwich Market, there was a stall there called Banana Man and he sold fruit kebabs ladeled in chocolate and nuts on a banana leaf 😋 (I’m salivating.) …Anyway, I really enjoy whiling away the hours looking at trinkets and homemade bits and bobs.
Hong Kong has loads of markets too. To name a few…Ladies Market, Stanley Market, Wet Markets and Temple Market. I intend to have a good ol’ ganders around them all.
On our first evening off I spent a good hour or so wandering down Temple Street Market. I loved it. I might have even found a few little Christmas pressies ☺️
Kim and I tried some Dim Sum street food for £5! … Beef rice, steamed green veg and veggie dumplings. Delish! 😋
That’s our first two weeks down and Hong Kong is already flying by, there is so much I would like to see and do… Not to mention Christmas next week!
Being away from home, we are very fortunate to be spending Christmas in such a friendly, welcoming city. Our audiences have been so responsive and supportive and our theatre is just lovely!
I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and I look forward to sharing with you the next chapter of my adventure in a few weeks time…
Love Emily xxx
“Through the years we all will be together, if the fates allow, hang a shining star upon the highest bough…and have yourself a merry little Christmas now” 💕
One thing you need to know about The Shaw’s (of the Carleton Shaw variety) is that we LOVE food. We love cooking it, we love eating it and we love talking about it. So, I couldn’t very well leave Singapore without doing a blog solely based on my top ‘Nosh’ recommendations, could I? What kind of Shaw would that make me?
Over the past eight weeks I have found so many cafes, restaurants and hawkers that I have really enjoyed. Healthy, naughty, budget, brunch, there are simply too many to blog about (I promise you, you would be here all day!) So, these are my top three favourites for each …
Breakfast, Brunch, Brinner
Anyone who knows me well, knows that, like Ron Swanson, I can eat breakfast food for literally every meal. Eggs and Bacon, Avocado and feta, waffles and maple syrup…it’s all good. And seriously, why would you want to eat anything else? I cannot think of a counter argument right now….Here are my top three spots in Singapore for breakfast lovers…
A popular breakfast/brunch spot for the Wicked company, as it was a mere stones throw from our hotel in Novena. A great menu, reasonably priced, and the coffee is especially good. I had The Jolly Rancher, smashed avocados and poached eggs on wholemeal bread, salad and salsa. Delish! With a medium coffee this set me back $13 (roughly £8) …excellent value.
This brunch spot in Orchard, is a little pricier- but for a nice treat it’s really worth it. The menu is extensive, sweet, savoury, naughty, healthy…something for everyone. The only problem with that is everything looked so good I wanted to try a little bit of it all (a “little” bit – who am I kidding!)…Eventually, after some careful thought, I went for the Boulevard St. Michael ($25.)
French toast (😋) with double baked cheese & spinach soufflé, parmesan crumbed poached egg, slowroasted tomatoes, grilled back bacon & spicy tomato chutney… Delicious !
I was drawn to this cafe because I adore Lavender and Rose flavoured biscuits, scones, jam (the list goes on.) I also like good coffee and at The Bravery they have Lavender Lattes ($5.50) on the menu… So naturally I needed to come here and check those out. This artsy little cafe (with free wifi 👍) is located on Horne Road just a few minutes walk from the Lavender MRT. There are quite a few coffee shops and bakeries on this strip 😋
A few of us gathered for brunch and all of us had great breakfast food. I had the pancake stack ($15) which was just heavenly. I have to say, I really liked the lavender latte- it’s not something I would have everyday but I really rather enjoyed it 👍
THE BRAVERY: 66 Horne Road, 209073
Mon: 09:00 – 18:00
Wed – Fri: 09:00 – 18:00
Sat & Sun: 08:30 – 19:00
Nearest MRT: Lavender
I mentioned in my previous blog, Singapore Part One, that it really is incredibly easy to find healthy options here in Singapore. There are lots of build your own salad shops (Salad Stop, Raw, Salad Chef.) I have found a fair few healthy eateries in Raffles Place so it’s definitely worth a trip there if you are looking for some clean eating. Which brings me to my first recommendation…
Smor Deli in One Raffles Place is a Scandinavian company, that offers freshly prepared, healthy gourmet meals at affordable prices. I have visited here quite a few times and always had excellent quality and filling meals. I have tried the Coconut Salmon, Norwegian Cod and the Ginger Chicken, all of which have been excellent.
Good news…Smor delivers and has delivered to our theatre in between shows on a matinee day and the staff are ever so friendly and accommodating. Prices range between $11.90-$15.90 depending on what you add to your meal.
If you love roast dinners (as I do) then The Caveman is a great, healthy version of this dish. Roasted chicken cooked in a variety of different spices to choose from Rosemary & Thyme, Mexican, Morrocan, Indian and an array of healthy sides carrots & broccoli, sweet potato, pumpkin, baked egg and apple salad. Prices are reasonable at $12.90 for half a chicken plus two sides.
If you are staying at the Oasia hotel, Novena then you can just press B3 in the elevator and it will take you straight down to the food area of Square 2.
I found this Mediterranean, vegetarian restaurant on my second day in Singapore whilst we were in technical rehearsals. Firstly, if you are working at the theatre or in Marina Bay and are looking for something veggie then this place is ideal. Freshly prepared, colourful, tasty food that won’t break the bank and there is a little seating area outside (for no extra cost) over looking the bay and skyline.
The falafel was a popular favourite amongst our cast and crew but I really enjoyed the Green Shakshuka, (spinach and spices with feta or halloumi cheese.) This came with warm pita on the side. They also offer a vegan version of this dish. I found everything I tried here really yummy and filling. The chick pea hummus is also really good (great for sharing!) A standard meal here with a drink is around $15-20.
PITA PAN: #01-87 Marina Bay Sands, 10 Bayfront Avenue
Mon – Thu: 09:00 – 00:00
Fri – Sat: 09:00 – 02:00
Sun: 09:00 – 00:00
Nearest MRT: Bayfront
Naughty… (But oh so nice)
“Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels” …. FALSE! (Seriously 🙄 ) Whoever said that clearly hasn’t tried some of the scrumptious goodies I have over the last 8 weeks….These are my top three deliciously naughty cafes to tickle your tastebuds…
I stumbled (happily) across this cafe in Lavender. The cafe really reminds me of somewhere you might find in Crouch End, London (my old stomping ground.) So I ventured inside.
To my absolute delight they had Rose Lattes on the menu! They also had an afternoon special, with any cake you got any non-alcoholic beverage half price. So my Rose Latte (usually $5) I got for $2.50 accompanied by a slice of baked cheesecake ($8) that was rich yet light and it made for a perfect afternoon ☺️
I know I’ve mentioned this bakery before in a previous blog but I have to put it up there as one of the best cafes/bakeries I’ve been to in Singapore. Situated in Tiong Bahru, I found Plain Vanilla Bakery really warm and non pretentious. Just great food. I like the fact that you can see the bakers at work, a lady was making biscuits when we visited. A great place to just relax and watch the world go by.
If you are craving a good old cup of English breakfast tea in a bone china mug -that doesn’t cost the earth, then Hyde & Co is a great little cafe in Bugis to seek out. For me, nothing beats Yorkshire tea however the Butterscotch popcorn waffle ($15) definitely won me over..
HYDE & CO: 785 North Bridge Road
Monday 12pm till 6pm
Wed-Friday 12pm till 10pm
Saturday 11am till 10pm
Sunday 11am till 6pm
Closed on Tuesdays
Nearest MRT: Bugis
There’s no getting away from it, Singapore is an expensive city. However, there are ways to enjoy local delights on a budget. Food hawkers (street food centres) are, in my opinion, some of the tastiest foods I have tried here …and they also keep your wallet happy ☺️
•China Town Food Complex
Found in China Town, no less, on Smith Street. I mentioned this hawker in Singapore part two. This is the hawker centre that has ‘Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice’-the hawker stand with the Michelin star ⭐️ But also you can find many stalls in this complex with fantastic food for a great price. Jodie and I found some incredible vegetable dumplings for $5.50 so good, we went back for seconds…
•Newton Food Hawker
I came here late after the show one night and had quite possibly one of my favourite meals I have had in Singapore. The hawker centre is located just outside Newton MRT station and is open until 3am. I had Char Siew Rice- which is essentially pork and rice.
The standard was just incredible, if I had been served that at a top restaurant for five times the price I would have been happy … $5 and worth every penny! (And then some) 👍
•Satay By The Bay
Located in the Gardens by the Bay, this alfresco food hawker is a little pricier than Newton, ChinaTown & Lau Pa Sat but still very reasonable. Cast member Dean (who recommended it to me) and I went in between shows for a Mediterranean feast (pictured) My meal set me back $15 including my drink. The stalls vary in cuisine and price and the smells were fantastic.
Located in Little India, which is one of my favourite areas in Singapore, I love the vibrancy of this community. Popular with local Singaporeans, the restaurant has an excellent selection of Indian favorites. Meals are served in a traditional setting, on a banana leaf instead of a plate. (Biodegradable and environmentally friendly 🌏) Have a go at eating with your hands, at first I was apprehensive, but once I got stuck in I really enjoyed myself.
The food is so tasty and flavoursome. I would recommend the Butter Chicken ($13), Briyani Rice ($4) and veggie yellow Dhall ($7.) 😋
THE BANANA LEAF: Little India Arcade, 48 Serangoon Road,
Mon- Sun 10.30am-10.30pm
Nearest MRT: Little India
Safe to say, for all you foodies out there, you will LOVE Singapore. As well as the culture and a million and one things to do here one things for sure…you won’t go hungry.
I hope you found this helpful, and as usual any questions then please pop them in the comments box. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and I hope you didn’t read this on an empty stomach!
Love Emily xxx
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience” – James Beard
Remember when you were at school and couldn’t wait for the summer holidays to start, you felt like you had ages…and then all of a sudden you are packing up your school bag, getting your new exercise books, pencil case and owl. Time seems to come and go in a flash… It’s hard to believe it’s been 8 weeks since I emptied my suitcase of clothes and made a little home of my hotel room. Now I’m sat here bags packed, passport at the ready about to get on that long old flight back to sunny England…
That’s the nice thing about being away, it’s coming home. Singapore has been 8 weeks of exploring, excitement and eating… and I’ve loved every minute of it. But now it’s time to go home and see my people and have fake Christmas and that roast dinner I’ve been so longing for.
Sometimes the last few weeks of a venue, when working away from home, no matter where you are, can be a little… shall we say ‘up hill’. As much as I love my job, I do miss my family so very much and the closer I am to getting to see there lovely little faces the harder it feels to be away from them. With that in mind I kept a couple of things up my sleeve to look forward to for my final two weeks of Singapore … and they did not disappoint!!
Singapore Sling 🍹
You can’t come to Singapore and not try a Singapore Sling can you? Surely it would be rude not too, when in Rome and all that! Most of the team and I went along to celebrate the lovely Wendy’s birthday in style at the famous Raffles Long Bar. It was a fantastic evening and I really loved Raffles. The building is stunning, the two story long bar is charming with little wooden fans along the ceiling and bags of monkey peanuts -you can toss peanut shells onto the floor (the only place in Singapore where “littering” is permitted.) I felt like I was transported back in time to the 20’s … The setting alone was worth the $32 for my Singapore Sling which to me tasted like delicious rum punch. I also tried the Gin Sling ($28) I think I preferred this cocktail even more (I do like my gin!) Although pricey, I would highly recommend this experience.
Miss Kim Ismay and myself visited the Gardens by the Bay on our very first day off. The flower dome was closed so I decided to wait until it reopened to go back and do both of the domes (cloud and flower) and the light display. I thought it was fitting to go here on my final day off in Singapore.
To enter both of the domes it costs $28. The cloud dome was my favourite, but both of them are very impressive- the maintenance alone, incredible. The temperature of the cloud dome reminded me of back home (so maybe pack a cardigan in your bag!) The waterfall is beautiful and it was so interesting to look and learn about all the various plants and flowers. There is also a little section talking about climate change and what we can do to help our planet 🌍
The flower dome was a little bundle of Christmas wrapped up in a winter wonderland- which in early November made me feel a little prematurely Christmassy…but since I happen to love Christmas and I am having fake Christmas with my family a month early on 27th November… I embraced it, I even danced around the Christmas trees (no judging!)
Later on in the evening a few of us watched the light show amongst the super trees in the gardens by the bay followed by the light display on the water outside Marina Bay Sands. Both light shows are free and definitely worth going to.
One of the brilliant things about Singapore is that many attractions here are free…I found this great guide in Lonely Planet “19 free things to do in Singapore” to read it, click Here. My top tip is to have a good walk around the city. I found a lovely walk around Bugis and Lavender. As well as lots of nice cafes, shops and markets there is a lot of street art to see. 🎨
High Tea at Raffles 🍰
After our very successful trip to Betty’s Tea Rooms of Harrogate (😋) the lovely Kim Ismay and I decided we would book Raffles for afternoon tea as a little treat to ourselves…
Raffles is such a beautiful building, as I mentioned earlier, and the Tiffin Room is no exception. The service was tip top, from the moment we stepped into the room. The food was fantastic, all the usual suspects, sandwiches, scones (with raspberry and rose jam ☺️) and an array of cakes, (which kept getting replenished by the way!) There was also a buffet table, with dim sum, warm pastries (sweet and savoury 😋) more cakes, fruit and … bread and butter pudding. This was their signature dish and an absolute winner. If you go to Raffles for High Tea then make sure you save enough room for it! Delish!
Kim and I were there for nearly two hours and we never once felt rushed, the waiters were so attentive and the whole experience was first class. For the High Tea you are looking at $73 a head (including service charge and GST) which is around £45-£50 but worth every penny. I am so glad we chose to go in our final week here in Singapore, it really was a lovely treat ☺️
I’ve had such a fantastic time here in Singapore, I’ve met some wonderful people and had some magical experiences. I’m so excited to go home and share them all with my family.
Thank you Singapore, and thank you to everyone who came to see our show, thank you to the staff at the Oasia Hotel and huge thanks to the amazing crew and team at the MasterCard Theatre, you made our experience here so warm (literally! 😅☀️) and memorable.
The first part of our International tour is complete… next stop Hong Kong!