Saturday, 18 October 2014

Three useful things I never travel without.

We are about to head off on another adventure for the Fall Break, 
the girls and I..and the dog are tagging along on my husband's work trip to the UK.
A chance to catch up with some UK friends and family, finally make it to Bath and
I am looking forward to seeing the Poppies of Remembrance at the Tower of London.

I used to pack for holidays weeks in advance, write lists and tick things off. 
Now I am not quite as obsessed and don't stress too much. 
As long as I have my kids, a camera and passports it doesn't really matter if something is forgotten.

There are three things that always get packed, no matter if it is a weekend or a month away,
a car trip or a long haul flight.

Travel Essentials

1. A Sarong.

A sarong is the most versatile item you can travel with and it takes up next to no room. It can be transformed into many things. Over the years I have used mine as a picnic rug, sheet, changing room, room divider, sun shade, pillow, a carry bag, towel, curtain, a sling, blanket, tablecloth and as padding for delicate souvenirs. Perfect for covering up to be culturally correct when visiting temples and shrines. Surprise, surprise, you can even wear it...a beach cover, skirt, scarf or shawl! When I was backpacking around Europe, many moons ago, my travel companions dubbed my sarong 'Grandma' as 'she' did so much for all of us it was like travelling with Grandma!

2. Selection of Medicines.

There isn't much worse than being on holiday and not having access to your medicine cabinet at home when you really need it. No matter if you are 100 kilometres away, needing a pain killer at 3am or in a country where you don't speak the language, have a three hour bus trip leaving in an hour and can't seem to be more than 1 metre away from a bathroom. You don't need to take the cabinet with you, just a few essentials. I take painkillers, anti diarrhoea relief, antihistamine for insect bites and allergies, tiger balm or equivalent is great for insect bites, headaches and aching muscles. Don't forget the band aids for blisters. Tea tree oil for cuts, abrasions and to clear the nose if you get a sniffle! Tissues...always take tissues!

3. Zip Lock Bags.

One of the best inventions ever, I always pack a couple in various sizes and they invariably come in handy. Protecting phones, cameras and passports from wet weather or activities on water. Storing SIM cards, charger cables and spare batteries. Keeping snacks in, separating different currencies. Perfect for keeping your travel medicines in. Pop your sarong in one if it gets damp! Storing receipts and brochures, keeping small souvenirs or jewellery together and safe. Keep toothpaste, shampoo and conditioner sealed in as extra 'insurance' against leakage in the toiletry bag. Putting smelly shoes in or wet swimwear. Keeping underwear together, then it can double as a laundry bag. Need an icepack, fill with ice and seal or put some drinks in to chill them! I am sure the list is endless!

...and always take your sense of humour... Happy travelling

Friday, 17 October 2014

Friday, 10 October 2014

Forty Winks Friday, Pull up a park bench!

Nothing like taking a break from the fast pace of life in the city of Shanghai.
Pull up a park bench and nap in the warm dappled sunlight.

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Friday, 26 September 2014

Forty Winks Friday, Cat Nap!

I have snapped many nappers on the streets of Shanghai and beyond, 
 but none come close to being as cute as this little napper!

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Palmengarten Frankfurt, Love a garden in a city centre!

Yesterday I finally had to opportunity to catch up with friends that I hadn't seen since the 
Summer holidays began, which feels oh so long ago!
We met in down town Frankfurt and as it was such a beautiful day, 
we decided to head over to the Palmengarten, a botanical garden, with 50 acres of 
nature in the city, to enjoy the weather while it lasts.

The Palmengarten was created in 1869 by horticulturist Heinrich Siesmayer for the citizens of Frankfurt and has many areas to unwind in.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

The rose garden still had a few beautiful blooms before the chill of Autumn sets in.

Rose, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

The dancing fountains in front of the stunning glasshouses. There are many different spaces to relax,
take a picnic and enjoy a bottle of wine. Places to sit and soak up the serenity or to wander and discover more than 13 000 different plant species.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

So many paths to wander, an oasis in the middle of the city.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

A large lake with row boats or peddle boats to rent, is lovely, the home of many ducks and swans.

Boats on the lake, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

There are hidden joys to discover, like walking behind the waterfall.

Behind the waterfall, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

The beauty of the garden as it unfolds before you.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

A tranquil hideaway away from to hustle and bustle of the city outside.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Beautiful fragrances fill the air.

Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

The Dahlia's at the end of the season still put on quite a show.

Dahlia garden, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Dahlia, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Dahlia, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Dahlia, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

There are tropical plants, a rock garden, palm gardens and playgrounds for children.

Passion fruit Flower, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Something for everyone, concerts are held at the Music Pavilion, there is also a theatre.
I will be buying an annual pass as a few hours spent strolling these beautiful 
and well kept gardens was not enough time to discover all the garden had to offer
...and I quite like the idea of sitting on my picnic rug, listening 
to music, while sipping a local wine in such a delightful environment.
I can't wait to go back in a few weeks when the colours of autumn 
will be out in all their glory!

Music Pavillion, Palmengarten Garden, Frankfurt Germany

Palmengarten Frankfurt can be found here.
Entrance Fees €7 for adults, €2 for children aged 6-13 
Annual passes are available, €70 for 2 Adults and 2 children 6-13, see full list here.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Forty Winks Friday. Table for three.

Three waiters on a nap break.....
plus one customer letting his beer go flat in favour of a nap!

Robyn's Shanghai Nappers

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan.

Foods often conjure up a period of time in our lives, taking us back in time. 
There are foods that comfort us, make us feel better when we don't feel well or
when we crave familiarity. Some foods remind us of special people in our lives.
Some foods do all three and for me, one of those foods is the Chinese Tea Egg.

They take me back to the corner store in Shanghai, bubbling away on the counter. 
To Tea House visits with friends, elegantly served in a bowl to accompany our tea. 
Savoured as we enjoyed the ceremony of drinking Chinese tea, planned adventures, 
discussed family, life in Shanghai, travel and issues of the world.
Now, when we have days when we really miss our Shanghai life, which is often, 
I put on my pot and make up a batch of our Chinese treats. The aroma
fills the house and we are taken back, satisfied that we still have a link, 
memories of a wonderful part of our lives flood back.

A tasty snack or part of a regular Chinese feast, we love them!

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan

12 Quail eggs (You can also use 6 chicken eggs instead)
4 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons black tea or two tea bags
3 star anise
1 cinnamon quill
1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
1 tablespoon sugar
3 cups water

Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water, bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes until hard boiled.

Rinse in cool water and drain.

Roll the eggs on the kitchen bench or tap with the back of a spoon to crack the shells. Don't remove the shells.

Place all the other ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add the cooked, crackled eggs and simmer a further 10 minutes. Let cool in liquid.

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan

Take the shell off and pop in your mouth...enjoy!

Chinese tea eggs, cha ye dan

You can leave the eggs in the liquid overnight and the taste will be slightly stronger. 
 You can also add some orange zest to the mix for some added tang. 
My girls like taking them to school for a snack and they are 
perfect to take on a picnic....if they last that long!