We booked a two night break at Down Hall Hotel near Bishop’s Stortford in Essex to have a short break in the country to celebrate my birthday. We booked through Hotels.com with the average nightly room rate working out around £120 per night.
I came across the Flitch of Bacon, in Little Dunmow, Essex when looking for a gastropub in the country where I could celebrate my birthday. The Flitch of Bacon is owned by Daniel Clifford, who is most well known for owning Midsummer House, the 2 Michelin Star Restaurant in Cambridge. While the Flitch of Bacon doesn’t have any major awards as yet, its clear from the outset that this is certainly where it is heading (although, you’ll see from this review there is still some work to do!).
We visited Lyle’s to celebrate our wedding anniversary. We had decided to visit for lunch on a Saturday, as during lunch service you can choose your dishes (at dinner you can only order from a set menu). Lyle’s has been receiving some big recommendations over the last few years, and this year rose from 65 to 54 in The Worlds 50 Best. This is often seen as a good yardstick as it’s voted for by chefs and people in the trade (compared to Michelin stars which are awarded by a separate organisation). Lyle’s also holds 1 Michelin star at the time of our booking.
The hotel Remm, Shin-Osaka was the second hotel on our Japan trip, after our stay in Hiroshima. We booked the hotel through Agoda before our trip and paid approximately £110 per night for 4 nights over a weekend.
On a recent visit to Japan we found ourselves visiting the Floating Tori tourist attraction on Miyajima Island, which is a 40 minute journey from Hiroshima station. When doing some research on the area we found that seafood was a particular speciality of the area and specifically local oysters or eel (anago) rice. When I looked for restaurants on the island I came across Fujitaya in the Michelin guide, which has been awarded one Michelin star. Given Fujitaya had been rated top on the island we decided to give it a try!
On a recent trip to Japan we stayed in two locations, Hiroshima and Osaka. Our first stay on the trip was at the Hotel Granvia in Hiroshima, where we spent 3 nights.
We booked the hotel directly with Cathay Pacific as part of a flights and hotel package, so it’s pretty difficult to say what we paid for the hotel (although it was probably around £100-150 per night). The booking was easy and at check in we were allocated a room on the Premium (19th) floor. We think this was an upgrade, but it’s difficult to tell exactly what we booked.
It was my wife’s birthday last week and every year I look around to see where I can take her. The first week in January is always a more difficult place to find somewhere to eat as many places are still closed after Christmas. This year I decided on somewhere that combines a traditional British hotel with high-end French cuisine, the two-Michelin starred Hélène Darroze at The Connaught.
The latest edition of the ThoughtWorks Radar came out this week. For those working in technology who’ve never come across this, read it now! I thought I’d take a few minutes to summarise the items that stood out for me in this edition. They stood out mainly as they solve problems that we’ve had or scratch itches that have bothered me for a while.
The tools are:
Two years ago, on holiday in the Lake District we visited my favourite restaurant so far, L’Enclume in Cartmel. Two Michelin stars and owned by one of the lesser known celebrity chef’s Simon Rogan. Since opening in 2003, the restaurant not only gained its stars, but a ‘perfect’, 10 out of 10 in the 2014 Good Food Guide and appeared on BBC comedy series ‘The Trip’ in 2010. One of the stand-out features of L’Enclume was a passion to deliver all food for the restaurant from Rogan’s local farm.
It took a while for Rogan to look outside Cartmel, and after a short pop-up ‘Roganic’ ran in London in 2011, he opened The French at the Midland Hotel in Manchester in 2013, followed closely by Fera at Claridge’s in 2014. Previously home to Gordon Ramsey at Claridge’s, which closed in 2013 after losing its Michelin star in 2010.
Myself and Clara have just spent the last week in a lovely converted barn near Chipping Norton in the Cotswolds called Hook Norton Barn. Owned by a couple who live at the opposite end of the field and own the local garage / petrol station 2 minutes away. Hook Norton Barn was recently converted and had its first guests in August 2016, which means we were one of the first few guests to enjoy this lovely space.
We found the barn through Sykes Cottages, but it also has its own website we found afterwards. The standard check-in is on a Friday evening after 3pm and we met with Sonya, one of the owners, at the barn around 4.30pm. Sonya gave us a quick tour, answered any questions and left us to it. With the owners living 2 minutes away we always felt we could get support if needed, but actually never needed to contact them during our stay.