Jamie Oliver Italian Victoria – Fast Food at its worst – Stay Away!


We made a trip to England in December, decided it would be a good thing to introduce my son-in-law to family he’d never met because not everyone made it out to Colorado for the wedding.

As expected England was cold, and sometimes very wet, but it was a lovely worthwhile trip. We at great food in pubs and restaurants. “M” on Victoria was fabulous. Great cocktails, fabulous food and incredible service. The pub grub and restaurants up north and in the midlands were amazing. I’ll tell you more about them in another blog. I want to dedicate this blog to Jamie Oliver’s Italian on Victoria.

Our reservation was made almost three months ago. We picked the food in advance from the celebration menu. I made a reservation for five people. It was supposed to be a perfect New Years Eve Meal before heading to the fireworks (which were Spectacular).

We were greeted by the hostess at the restaurant who didn’t say “Welcome to Jamie Oliver”, but said “We need the table by 8:30 so you need to finish your meal by then.”

“What” I’m almost sixty, and a traveling foodie who likes to dine in restaurants all over the US and Europe. I have never ever been greeted so rudely.

We were taken to a booth upstairs and when our waiter turned up to take our order I explained to him I’d ordered everything for our table back in September, including the wine. He looked confused! Eventually the food started to arrive. My smoked salmon was just OK (how hard is it to put salmon on a plate?) No one was impressed with their appetizers, which were a bad start to a terrible meal. The wine eventually came and WAS NOT what I ordered. I can’t drink Sauvignon Blanc, it’s too acidic for me, but that’s what they brought me. A carafe of cheap undrinkable wine.

Main course. Mine was pan-fried cod floating is a sludgy mass of something green! Not good, but perhaps the best of the five main courses we were served. Everything looked like warmed up congealed leftovers , with exception to the vegetables. They were burnt beyond recognition. The Tiramisu Pavlova, ordered for dessert by two people in our party was inedible. You get the drift. We paid over two hundred pounds for this disaster.

Yes I complained, no they didn’t care.

Mr. Oliver, I’ve watched you on television for several years, you are quite a star here in America, but I will no longer be a fan or waste my time on your shows. In my opinion you have put your name to this restaurant as a money-making machine and nothing else. I don’t eat fast foods, but in my opinion, your restaurant in Victoria is an overpriced fast food restaurant (very overpriced for the slop you serve). As a chef, you should be ashamed of yourself.

My advice to anyone wanting a nice meal. Go to “M” which is close by, has great ambiance, and serves good food. Or save your pennies and go to Gordon Ramsay’s Maze where you aren’t herded in like cattle and you’ll be served a meal you’ll remember for the rest of your life, for the right reasons.

Elegance at St. Ermins


A little pricey, but well worth the experience. Beautiful, elegant and in Westminster so convenient for everything. Lovely!

A Trip Down Memory Lane

The CrownWhen I was young I needed only my dreams and ambitions. As I aged I needed my husband and my daughter. I still had dreams and ambitions of course.

Now as I’m approaching old age. Yes, I said approaching, I’m not quite there yet, I need my old friends. Those folks I haven’t seen in 30 years or more. Is it because as I stroll towards my sunset years I need to say goodbye? I don’t think so. I just want to reconnect with the people I had so much fun with before responsibility took over.

I’m taking a trip down memory lane this year. Visiting my old haunts, rekindling my teen age years. Names have changed, people (like me) have moved far away, but hopefully one or two of my old friends remain.

Can’t wait to introduce my daughter and her new husband to faces and places. London, Birmingham, Northumberland and North Yorkshire.

It’s not to say goodbye, but to say “hello again.”

If anyone out there remembers me I’d love to see you. I’ll be in Richmond, North Yorkshire December 26, 27 and 28th.

Christmas 2016

Yes I always have to have something to plan for. A trip to Mexico is booked for March, but that’s a simple thing. More challenging is what I have planned for Christmas!!! A whirlwind tour visiting family in England. In two weeks we’ll visit London, Birmingham, Alnwick, North Yorkshire and then back to London to see in the New Year. No, I’m not wishing my life away, I’m just enjoying it to the full!

13 Dec 2004, London, England, UK --- London Eye and Christmas Lights --- Image by © Paul Hardy/Paul Hardy/Corbis

Image by © Paul Hardy/Paul Hardy/Corbis

Looking forward to the photo opportunities. Maybe this will be my view next New Years Eve!

Why I LOVE the French! Train to Cannes

My first visit to France was in 1980 or 1981. I can’t remember the exact year, but it was magical. I had been married only four years and it was the first trip abroad with my husband. We got on a train in London, crossed the English Channel on a Ferry, and then boarded another train destined for the French Riviera. It was so exciting. The train itself was an adventure, with its bar and disco carriage. Have you ever tried dancing on a train?

We danced late into the night, and then slept in a ‘couchette’.  When we woke up the next morning we were served a very ‘French’ breakfast as we sat by the window viewing the French countryside for the very first time. When I first set eyes on the beautiful blue waters of the Mediterranean I was speechless. The scenery was breathtaking.

div_french_italian_04When we finally arrived in Cannes I was so excited I could barely move. Not having much money, we stayed in a moderate Bed and Breakfast. It was close to the beach with all of its style and beauty. If you look a map of the Cote d’Azur, you can see the attraction.








We took the train to beautiful old town of Grasse, famous for its perfumeries. We wandered the streets of Cannes by day and by night. We enjoyed the food, the wine, the atmosphere, but most of all the people.

Eating was an incredible experience. On our ‘special meal’ of the vacation, the chef actually came out of the kitchen when he didn’t think that our choice of appetizer complimented our entrée. This was the first time I had ever tasted ‘bouillabaisse’. It was delicious and still my favorite French food.



Most of our meals were not as fancy as this because we were a young married couple with a tight budget. We ate in small local restaurants, eating ‘a prix fixe’ menu, or simply buying seafood from vendors on the sea front. Fritti di Mare were delicious, tiny, deep-fried fishes and we ate them often, washed down with a cheap bottle of local wine and accompanied by French bread. Times were simple, we were young.

There was so much to take in, so much to see. I took hundreds of photographs, which I still treasure. Every night ended with a firework display, high over the harbour in Cannes. It was the perfect way to end each perfect day.












North Yorkshire – County Durham – London – Colorado

Here I am back in Colorado. I have been up since before five o clock because there are always so many things to do when you get back from a two-week vacation.

I wanted to share one or two more photographs with you before I call my vacation ‘officially over’. As I sit here and look at my digital photo display, I realize how green England is, and how beautiful. I am not saying I would like to move back there, we all know I love my home in Colorado, but it is nice to see all of the greenery.

Richmond Castle

This was at the beginning of our vacation, we walked around Richmond Castle. Richmond is a cobbled market town and was the closest town to Brompton-on-Swale, the village in which I was raised.

The castle ruins

The castle is mostly in ruins, although the ‘Keep’ is still there. We climbed to the top and took beautiful photos of the countryside.

Lovely views.

We took lots of photos from Richmond Castle. Joanna enjoyed it there immensely. This is where she bought a real sword for her boyfriend. It worried me how we would get it back on the plane with all the security there is now, but we checked it and told them what it was. We got a strange look, but no problems!

We visited Summerhouse, where I was raised.

My mum was a 'housekeeper' for this farm.

I have mentioned this farm-house several times in my story ‘Girl on the Beach’, it is where my mum was a housekeeper. The Hodgson’s were a nice family and treated both my mum and me very well.


The Raby Hunt Pub

The ‘Raby Hunt’ Restaurant used to be a small pub. We tried to get lunch there, but unfortunately they were getting ready for a special event and were closed.

My house

It brought memories flooding back to see the house I grew up in. I loved the garden and the surrounding fields. Not much has changed over the past forty plus years!

After a week in the North Country, we drove down to London, where we visited old friends and walked the city. It was a very exhausting vacation!

Some things never change

London Bridge has a nice new coat of paint, but other than that, it hasn’t changed much.

New buildings on the Thames

The buildings to the right took me by surprise, they certainly weren’t there when we left in 1995. They are modern, but beautiful buildings.


The waterfront is now a modern, bustling ‘upbeat’ area with waterfront bars and old buildings revamped and made into modern lofts.

In many ways London has improved, but I did notice that not many people who served me at restaurants and bars, spoke English. Not a bad thing, but a little different from when I left.


Still sharing photos from our fun in Chiswick. I do miss my friend Julie a lot!

Great day in Chiswick

Today Lester met an old work college Dave Brown, while Joanna and I walked across Hyde Park and into Knightsbridge. We wandered around Harrods looking at all the things we couldn’t afford to buy. We sat in Harrods Chocolate Bar and had a cup of tea and a chocolate fondue, into which we dipped fresh strawberries and marshmallows. Yum! We wandered around a little more and then got the tube to Covent Garden, where we met Lester and wandered around Covent Garden Market. I bought myself some trinkets.

Couldn't resist!

We walked back through Leicester Square, Piccadilly Circus, up Regent Street, along Carnaby Street (which Joanna had never heard of) and back along Oxford Street. All in all, today we probably walked ten miles, or so my feet tell me.  We worked up an appetite for a fabulous Chinese meal at a highly recommended Chinese Restaurant close to the hotel. The food was delicious! In fact it is the best Chinese food I have eaten since I left England sixteen years ago. We stuffed ourselves. Funny thing is though, I went to use the bathroom in the restaurant and for the second time in two days, found a man undressing himself in public. This time he was Chinese….what is it with people stripping in public in London? At least this guy was clean!


After dinner Joanna and I walked back down Oxford Street so she could spend her remaining fifty pounds in the H&M Store. I was pretty exhausted by this time, having been out and about since ten o clock this morning. Money spent, we returned to the hotel, and to the lounge for a night-cap. Now, exhausted and with cases mostly packed, I am posting my last but one blog. Tomorrow night we are staying at a hotel at Heathrow Airport, where some friends from Hanworth will be joining us for drinks…..yes party until the last-minute. Then I need to come back to the US for a rest. Roll on next May and Mexico, when I can have a real vacation!

Bought some new gates for my house




Marble Arch

I went for an early morning walk in London today. Lovely warm day. Of course I had my camera with me a took a few photos before it got too busy. Our hotel is right next to Marble Arch.

Westminster Bridge

We all met up and shopped our way along Oxford Street before wandering down Regent Street to Piccadilly Circus. Down Piccadilly to Big Ben.

Big Ben and Westminster Abbey


So much going on



Buckingham Palace Guard


So many photos to take. We must have walked for at least five miles, probably longer. Now I have thirty minutes to get read for dinner at ‘Maze’. A glass of champagne at the bar first me thinks.

We walked almost non-stop from eleven this morning until four-thirty this afternoon. I think I should have an appetite.

London at Last

I lived here from 1961 until 1967

I loved my visit with my family and my trip down memory lane, but I am really looking forward to the next four days in London. It will be nice to visit our ‘old haunts’ here.

I can now post some photos taken last week, as the wi-fi here is much better.

Joanna in Richmond Castle

The house I lived until I was ten is on the left. I hasn’t changed one bit.

On the right is another photo of Joanna in Richmond Castle. She had a lot of fun climbing the keep.

Last night we had a fantastic Indian meal with Will, Sophia and Margaret. My brother had dental work during the day and couldn’t make it, but we went back for a cuppa afterwards and tormented him. Another late night and an early start this morning has made us all tired, but not too tired to get a shower, freshen up and head for the bar. Time is running out and there is a lot to see in London. Myles (Lester’s nephew) and Terri (Lester’s sister) are joining us tonight.

I gave my sister-in-law a copy of  ‘Girl on the Beach’ last night for my brother to read, as I talk about him in the book. I think he may be flattered by my mention, at least I hope he is.

Hopefully Lester in on the underground now, after dropping the car off at Heathrow. It wasn’t a bad car, but I am happy we have no more long journey’s, it was exhausting. Now time to have fun in London. Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant tomorrow…..I hope he pops in!

Friends since 1975!

London, Birmingham, Darlington and Berwick upon Tweed

It’s a strange feeling to be going to England for a vacation. England is where I was born, and where I lived until 1995, before moving to Colorado. I lived in Germany briefly too, but England is where I was raised.

Now the plans are made and in a couple of days my family and I will be on our merry little way to visit all of the friends I left behind. First stop, High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire to stay with our old friends ‘The Dollies’. Then a brief trip to Chatham, followed by a couple of days in Birmingham. Next up north to Darlington for a week.

Whilst in Darlingon, I will of course visit the grave of my parents in Brompton on Swale. My first book ‘Guy at the Bar’ is set in Brompton on Swale. I wonder if my daughter will remember this place.

Whilst in staying with my brother in Darlington, we will get together with family I haven’t seen in over 20 years, as wells as old and dear friends. We will be making a trip to ‘Berwick upon Tweed’ to visit a very old and dear friend who breeds Shetland Ponies.

Berwick upon Tweed

Not sure if my brother has wi-fi, so you may be hit with a flurry of blogs when I get back to London. Here is a taster of some of the places I am visiting.

RIchmond North Yorkshire

I will post lots of photos and keep you all updated with my ‘Travel Tales and Mishaps’

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