SSI Open Water Diving Course at Manta Dive – Gili Trawangan, Indonesia

I will always have a soft spot for Indonesia. It was my home for 16 years and I absolutely adore it. The culture, the food, the weather, the beaches.

Last year I finally decided to get my Open Water Diving License so we went to Gili Trawangan to do this. I hadn’t been to the island in about 5 years and so much had changed since I was here last and it was not the quiet, untouched island that it used to be. It was a lot more built up with more hotels, more bars, more everything – but the beaches were still beautiful.

IMG_0749
Gili T

I was recommended Manta Dive by a friend of mine and so I called them up and booked to stay in their hotel as well as take the Open Water Diver Course.

Our room was a little bungalow right by the hotel swimming pool and it was lush.

IMG_0773
Our Room
IMG_0710
Our room
IMG_0741
Our room
IMG_0740
The bathroom in our room
IMG_0712
The view outside our room
IMG_0711
Our room from the outside

The open water diving course was great. The diving community is really close out there and they bring you into it throughout the course of the week. You feel straight away like you are a part of it.

Our instructor Eve has unfortunately now moved from Gili T. I say “unfortunately” because she was genuinely an amazing instructor and we really learned so much from her. She is so passionate about the ocean and it made us very interested in everything she was explaining to us.

IMG_0751
Studying for the SSI Open Water Diver Test
IMG_0881
Fresh breakfast at our hotel
IMG_0904
The Beach Outside our hotel with all the boats waiting for the divers
IMG_0853
Carrying on the diving equiptment
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0343.
We saw sea turtles, reef sharks (white and black tips), octopus, star fish, clown fish, nudi branch, and lots of other beautiful and colourful sea creatures and coral.
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0328.
The boat
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0325.
Boat rides
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0243.
So peaceful and calm
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0180.
More boat shots
DCIM100GOPROGOPR0245.
ME!
IMG_1152
Our group

Our group was great and we still keep in touch today!

If you are ever considering learning to dive and you happen to have a holiday in Indonesia, I definitely recommend learning at Manta Dive in Gili Trawangan. It might not be the ultimate best diving in the world but you do see a lot in the ocean, the instructors and divers are an awesome group of people, and the hotel lush! A great place to learn.

https://manta-dive.com/

 

 

Advertisements

Freak Scene – Farringdon, London, UK

I wasn’t sure what to expect when I booked a table at Freak Scene. There weren’t many photos online of the food at the time and not many people had been yet as it had just opened up so I couldn’t find much to read about it online.

We went in the beginning of August because, although we hadn’t heard much about the place, we had read up on Scott Hallsworth and his food sounded great!

It was BYOB so we got a bottle of wine from a wine shop around the corner and got our table.

IMG-8597
The menu for the evening

Everything on the menu looked amazing but luckily its more of a tapas-type fusion food restaurant, so we could order a few things to share – with some help and guidance from the Freak Scene Team.

IMG-8601
Seared beef salad
IMG-8602
Chilli crab and avocado wonton bombs
IMG-8604
Red curry duck leg
IMG-8623
Pork belly and mussel wrap
IMG-8613
Rice and duck leg curry
IMG-8625
Dessert of the day
IMG-8628
Dessert of the day

Everything was exceptionally good. I would have to say my favourite was the duck curry. Jack’s favourite was the crab and avocado wonton bomb. There is something on the menu for everyone to enjoy with something a bit different or special about it.

After dinner we met Scott and his team and stayed for a few more drinks. It was such a good night – I genuinely recommend going and I really hope they get a permanent spot there!

IMG-8632
The head chef Scott himself!

Thank you Scott and team ๐Ÿ™‚

http://freakscene.london/

 

Rudy’s – Ancoat, Manchester, UK

Rudy’s is a great Pizzeria in Manchester and the queues are always incredibly long. Luckily you can just put your name on a list with a rough estimated time wait and head across the street to Seven Brothers, a craft beer pub, to have some pre-dinner drinks while you wait to get a call from Rudy’s.

They have a huge pizza oven and its great watching them making their creations in there. Their pizza is Napoli- style with the gorgeous chewy but light dough, which I absolutely love!

IMG-9024
Campana Sharing platter
IMG-9039
Pizzas!

We shared some mixed olives and Campana to start – which we didn’t really “need” but we were just very hungry.

The boys all ordered the Calabrese which is smothered with Nduja and mozzarella and I had the Tarantina which is olives, anchovies, capers and mozzarella (usually called a Napolitan – one of my favourite pizzas).

The house red wine was lush, service was fab, great atmosphere and buzz, and it really does not break the bank.

All I can say is: Go.

http://rudyspizza.co.uk/menu.phtml

El Rincon de Rafa – Deansgate, Manchester

I am not sure if you would know of El Rincon if you were not told about it by someone. It is really hidden away in the back streets in the center of Manchester, but surprisingly late in the evening on a Saturday, it was absolutely heaving with people. In fact we were really lucky to get a table there.

The restaurant was opened 22 years ago and has been in the same location ever since. The family-run restaurant was opened by ex-footballer Rafael Cabrera-Vargas, who can still be found running the show every day and family members can often be found behind the bar, in the kitchen, serving the tables.

These are the kinds of restaurants that I absolutely LOVE! Family-run, rustic, has a lot of history, passionate about their food, and they have a great vibe, not the commercial, frilly, over priced places and especially not chains.

We walked in and there was such a buzz in the restaurant. It was packed and the tables were all full so we got a seat on the bar until a table freed up for us.

The food was fab and we ordered quite a few bits on the menu.

IMG_3782
Jamon Serrano
IMG_3784
Queso Manchego
IMG_3785
Gambas Dos Salsas
IMG_3786
Chuletitas De Cordero
IMG_3787
Creme Caramel
IMG_3788
Almond Cake

Finished off with the desserts of the day which were light and gorgeous!

Definitely a great spot for a truly authentic, family run, rustic Spanish meal.

https://www.facebook.com/elrinconderafamanchester

The Hops & Glory – Canonbury, London

If you are looking for a Sunday Roast in Islington – The Hops and Glory serves a great one! You would never really notice this pub or know it exists as it is quite hidden away from the busy streets. It has a cosy, rustic vibe and they have their own craft beer brewery as well as their Gastropub.

We went on a late Sunday afternoon last December for a tummy warming Roast Dinner.

We shared a couple plates of sourdough bread soaked in beef dripping and gravy while we decided on what we wanted for our mains. It was actually full of flavour and a great start to the meal.

IMG_2058
Toasted sourdough, dripping & gravy (ยฃ3.50)
IMG_2059
Hampshire pork belly w/apple sauce (ยฃ16.50)

For my main I went for the pork (I will usually go for the lamb or pork when I am out for a roast) which came with some gorgeous roasted veg and some apple sauce. I did add some more gravy as well! I have had some bland roasts before and this was NOT one of them –ย It was all full of great natural flavours.

IMG_2068
Spiced Cider (A December Special – yes this is a bit of a late post)
IMG_2070
Rice pudding with pistachios and dates (a winter special – ยฃ5)
IMG_2071
Cheese Board with Berkswell, Tunworth & Brighton blue. Oatcakes & malt chutney (ยฃ7.50)

For dessert we all shared the rice pudding and a cheese board as we were very full but wanted a little something to end the meal.

Great English food, lovely pub, and fab service. I am coming back this winter for more roast dinners!

http://www.hopsandglory.co.uk/

Natural Kitchen – Chancery Lane, London

Since opening in 2009 in Marylebone, they have grown to be able to open up eight restaurants in total. All their ingredients are from sustainable & ethical sources (which I LOVE). They a say on their website that they always select the freshest, best quality ingredients to go into their menus and they onlyย use suppliers who share their philosophy about quality, provenance, traceability and the impact on ourย environment.

It is a treat for a work lunch out because it isn’t the cheapest meal for a weekday lunch time (I am not about spending much on a work lunch), but they do make some great juices, coffees and salads here and you really are paying for the quality of the produce.

It is also a great vibe so it is a fab place to have a good old catch up with a colleague or friends as a midday break away from the office, computer screen and desk chairs.

I absolutely adore their salads and I usually get either the tuna or hallumi salads but they do have a bigger menu with hot foods as well.

IMG_6043
Tuna Salad
IMG_6045
Hallumi Salad

If you work in the area and want something wholesome and healthy – this is a great place to treat yourself.

https://www.thenaturalkitchen.com/

Newdlez – Tachbrook Street Market, Pimlico, London

Honestly one of the best Pad Thai that I have had in London is from Newdlez. They are a family owned street food stall that I stumbled upon when I went searching for lunch one weekday at the Tachbrook Street Market.

Every dish is freshly made in a wok right in front of you. You are asked what filling you want (prawns, tofu, chicken or veg), whether you want it spicy or not, and whether you would like the egg mixed into the noodles or omelette-style.

Light, fresh and bursting full of flavour – this is a great lunch option if you are ever in the area.

IMG_0116.JPG

http://www.newdlez.com/

https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g186338-d8428449-Reviews-Tachbrook_Market-London_England.html