Nearly three years on, as I hear of the untimely passing of Stace Bancroft – one of the most inspiring and insightful individuals I have had the pleasure meeting – I have updated this blog post by way of reflection of the great man he was. Stace, we miss you. RIP 16.02.2018. Gone but never forgotten. xxx
*Edited 2018 to reflect on the devastating news that Stace Bancroft, resident of Christiania, past away February 18th 2018. You were and still are an inspiration. Stace, this story is for you. RIP. Gone, but never forgotten.*
After a 4am start in London, to catch an 8am flight from Luton airport, the last thing you want is to be stuck in an epic rainstorm without a brolly. Luckily, Copenhagen is full of delightful little districts and boutique food halls where you can shelter from the onslaught, and where I discovered Groed – just off Torvehallerne, Israels Plads – a small cafe specialising in porridge so good Goldie Locks would have been proud.
I stole Goldielocks’ porridge…and washed it down with an award-winning elderflower beer
When you’re asked by the Academy of Chocolate to attend and speak at the Finnebrougue Fine Food Fair in Killyleagh Castle, Northern Ireland, courtesy of Food NI 2016 – the obvious answer to this request is ‘yes’.
The trip was all planned out by Food NI, and after an exhilaratingly turbulent 55 minute flight from Gatwick, I touched down in Belfast City Airport, greeted at the airport by Sharon Machala of Food NI – my chauffeur for the next 28 hours (this was very much a flying visit).
Well, Taverna el Remer had certainly left its mark on me, in the form of one hell of a hangover! I mean, as I mentioned previously, the blues band was amazing and the drinks (extra strong and expertly crafted) went down all too quickly, to the point where I recall little of the night before – but my phone has managed to help me out; apparently on the way back we came across a variety of little glass sculptures which I’m sure you’ll agree are beautiful!
August Bank Holiday weekend saw the boy whisk me off to Venice for a belated birthday surprise! Arriving close to midnight, we stayed in the San Sebastiano Garden Hotel; a little out of the centre, but easy walking distance to the action.
Like most trips, I like to research the destination as much as I can, and create a little map with timings and things to do at each location. Very geeky, I know, but it means that if time and/or funds are not on your side, you can still let the place get under your skin, just about.
York! A medieval walled city in Northern England with a vibrant history dating as far back as Roman times and beyond. Defined by it’s medieval cathedral or ‘Minster’ – built in the 13th Century, and extensive Roman wall (since rebuilt in various places), it is also famous for playing its part in the chocolate and candy revolution of the British Isles.
Still feeling so relaxed we were falling off our proverbial chairs, we layered up to the max and made our way to 101 Laugavegur to catch our ride. It was our last day and we were heading out to see some of the most famous sights and sounds of south western Iceland, courtesy of Extreme Iceland on their Golden Circle Surprise Tour.
With temperatures barely above freezing the snow was starting up again as we made our way up to Þingvellir, or Thingvellir to us Anglicised folk. It was here, over 1000 years ago (in 930 to be precise) that the first ‘Athing’ was held – an open air assembly representing the whole of Iceland, who met once a year until 1798. Here, weather permitting, you can see yet another meeting point, between the two tectonic plates – American and Euroasian plates, who’s boundaries run right through Iceland and are clearly visible at this point – provided you’re not stuck in a blizzard. If you are stuck in a blizzard, then you probably won’t see more than an intricately frosted van window, like the one below.
After a high intensity audio visual experience of the night before, we decided to take Saturday at a slower pace. After breakfast we took a leisurely stroll up towards the Eye of Sauron, sorry, I mean Hallgrimskirkja or ‘Hallgrims Church. But it really does look like something out of Lord of the Rings, and with all these Elf Rocks and blizzards it does get a little confusing.
After a chocolate-fueled adventurous morning it was now time to explore what Reykjavik had to offer. But first a quick pit stop in Bajarni Fel sports bar to warm up wit ha glass of Viking beer while I waited for the rest of the crew.
Great taste in music, a quirky sense of humour, chocolate to die for and some of the world’s best scenery – Iceland really does tick all the boxes.
Even those of you more partial to a bikini-toting, pinacolada-sipping beachside holiday can still find some solace (and outstanding chocolate) in this magical land of elf rocks, blizzards and thermal spas.
After a whirlwind 36 hours in Denmark, including visiting a micro cacao plantation in a greenhouse in the Danish countryside and doing yoga in Christiania with one of its longest-standing residents, it was now time to hit Malmo – Sweden’s third largest city, and one that is fast making a name for itself in the sustainable living category!