A foodie guide to the Forest of Dean & Wye Valley


The Forest of Dean and Wye Valley is a gorgeous, verdant and unspoilt corner of the country, straddled across the winding border between England and Wales.

This is a truly beautiful area to visit. The countryside is just so pretty and untarnished by development, with a rare secluded quietness, and many commanding views.

As you would expect in such a gorgeous natural environment, there is some sensational produce and many interesting, innovative food producers in the area, and so I paid a visit recently to explore the area and bring the very best food and drink from the area to you.

Where to stay and where to eat

Our base for this trip was the Tudor Farmhouse, near Clearwell. It is a small family owned boutique hotel with restaurant, run by husband and wife team Colin and Hari who left city life behind around a decade ago to set up the Tudor Farmhouse in this quiet and remote corner of Gloucestershire. The result is fantastic; it is a stylish and cosy retreat and makes a fantastic base for a weekend break. Guests when we stayed were a mix of weekend guests and those staying to attend nearby weddings, from what we could detect.

Despite its setting in a tiny rural village, the Tudor Farmhouse makes a good base to explore the area, providing a comfortable and restful base for a weekend away. Rooms vary a fair bit in terms of size and facilities (and of course, price), but we stayed in the Roost, a larger and newly refurbished room. The Tudor Farmhouse is set across a number of centuries old farmhouses, and rooms reflect the quirkiness of the buildings, with exposed beams, paneled walls and twisting staircases to get there.

Our room was beautifully furnished, spacious and extremely comfortable. The bathroom was fantastic, with a roll top bath, giant shower and gorgeous Bramley products. Small touches, such as fresh milk in the fridge, demonstrate the thought that has gone into the rooms and the service at the Tudor Farmhouse.

We found ourselves eating at the Tudor Farmhouse both nights. The restaurant here is exactly the sort of place I wish I had locally. The food is good, the wine list is superb, and the atmosphere is smart, but relaxed. What I particularly liked was the focus on local produce, with much meat, fish and fresh produce sourced locally, with suppliers listed on the menu. There is also a hotel kitchen garden, which is used as much as possible.


We found the food to be generously portioned, with plenty of meat and well-flavoured. The style of cooking is perhaps a touch too busy for my liking, but we had two really enjoyable meals. Do save room for the excellent locally sourced cheeseboard, if you can. It is really memorable. There are two dining rooms at the Tudor Farmhouse and we far preferred the older room at the back of the hotel for a more cosy, intimate meal. We also preferred the experience on a Friday night, which was quieter than Saturday. Do take the time before eating to have a drink in the cosy bar. There is a super range of cocktails on offer featuring local fruit juices and spirits. A must.


What to do

If you’re interested in learning more about wild food, you must try a foraging class with Raoul van den Broucke, who is one of the UK’s leading foraging gurus, and is based locally. The Tudor Farmhouse will book a session with Raoul for you if you are interested. We went out on a Sunday morning with Raoul and had a most informative trip. Born in Belgium, Raoul has lived a varied and interesting life, having sold foraged treasures to many leading chefs around the world for years.


Our session with Raoul was hugely informative, as participants are asked what they are most interested in seeing, and the trip is structured accordingly. We were taken across fields, up tracks, down lanes and along a river to source wild fruits, plants and fungi, which was absolutely fascinating. It really was eye opening to see what is growing wild in places where you’d never think to look. There is more wild food on most people’s doorsteps than you’d realize. We finished our morning by taking our basket of bounty to a local pub to cook, and we enjoyed our treasures freshly cooked with an excellent glass of local cider. Raoul is a complete fountain of knowledge for anyone interested in foraging and wild food, and I recommend an excursion with him most highly. 


Anyone interested in wine will not traditionally associate South Wales with wine production, and as such, I was most interested to pay a visit to Ancre Hill Estate, situated just outside Monmouth during our stay in the area.

Ancre Hill is an absolutely fascinating place to visit for any wine lover, and I’d really recommend booking a place on their weekend wine tours and tastings. 

Set up in 2008 by Richard and Joy Morris, with their son, David, a trained winemaker, having worked in Rousillon and a Plumpton College alumnus, they have transformed the fields adjacent to their home by planting acres of vines and building a state of the art eco winery, which was opened by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall in July 2015.

Ancre Hill mainly grow chardonnay, albarino and pinot noir grapes, and are making some really interesting and delicious wines, including an excellent Blanc de Noirs, a Chardonnay/Pinot noir sparkling rose, a Pinot Noir/Seyval sparkling and a Triomphe made from 100% Triomphe grapes. They have won a number of prestigious awards, including top awards from Decanter and IWSC. The Tudor Farmhouse are able to organise an excursion foraging or wine tasting for guests.

We found our visit to the Forest of Dean most interesting, and were thrilled to discover such a charming, peaceful spot for a quite weekend away from the hustle and bustle. We will certainly be returning very soon.

Thank you very much to the Tudor Farmhouse for inviting me to stay.

A foodie guide to Copenhagen – 2015


The popularity of Copenhagen as a foodie destination seems to be ever increasing. This is a city whose food scene is vibrant, exciting, and innovative, and is a delight to experience.

Copenhagen is also closer to the UK than many people think, with a flight time of around 90 minutes from London airports, making it an easily accessible destination for a weekend break.

This summer, I returned to Copenhagen to see what’s hot on the food scene, and to bring together my favourite recommendations for you.


Where to eat and drink

For a traditional Danish lunch, I recommend Sankt Annæ restaurant. It’s a totally charming traditional restaurant serving excellent food just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of touristy Nyhavn. The speciality at Sankt Annæ is smørrebrød, or open sandwiches, which are still a staple of the Danish kitchen. This is an unfussy, discreet restaurant that produces superb quality food using the best Danish produce. It’s only open from 10am-4pm and gets very busy, so do book in advance.

For coffee and a delicious Danish sweet bun or pastry, I have not found anywhere better than Claus Meyer on Gammel Kongevej. Although it is very popular, there are a fair few tables both inside and out. The kanelsnurre is my favourite bun of all, but the kanelsnegl also has many fans. If you’re staying for lunch, then I’d recommend the fiskefrikadeller or the pork sandwich; both are excellent.


Coffee purists will like Coffee Collective. Having expanded to a number of coffee shops based around Copenhagen. There’s nothing else on the menu here, and don’t ask for soya milk or decaf. But the coffee is superb, made by real connoisseurs with skill, care and precision.

For dinner, if you are planning to push the boat out, I’d recommend Geranium. This is an utterly exquisite restaurant, and many would say this is Copenhagen’s best restaurant. A meal here is a complete experience. You’ll need to book well in advance.

For something clean, simple and a little less formal, I suggest Radio. This is uncomplicated but delicious seasonal food, with a focus on great ingredients. At 400 krone for 5 courses, it’s very good value, too.

If a cheap, cheerful and fun evening is what you’re after, then Papirøen is where you need to head. I visited last year and liked it, but I think a year of continual improvement shows, and it is now bigger and better than ever. Situated at the far end of Christianshavn, near to Noma, it is an indoor food market selling good quality street food from quality, quirky independent traders. There is a wide selection of food available, from noodles, to pizza, to Danish hot dogs, to cassoulet and craft beer, you’ll find it all here. Generally, the quality is good, and the informal atmosphere is fun and convivial. There is often a DJ playing at night, too.


Where to stay

My hotel for this visit was the Absalon hotel. It’s been newly decorated using Designers Guild accessories, and is a modern, bright and fresh base in the city. Rooms are quite small, as is the case with many city centre hotels, but they are clean and comfortable. It is a colourful, lively and busy hotel, which is clearly a popular place to stay as it was packed out the weekend we visited. It has a very nice seating area in the lobby, and a cocktail bar for guests in the main entrance. Breakfast is taken downstairs, and was also packed out each day. There is a buffet on offer to guests – it’s all very informal – you just choose a table and help yourself. The breakfast choices are fairly limited to breads, eggs, Danish cheese, and pastries, with a small choice of tinned fruit and yoghurt. It is simple, no frills food, but fills you up for the day exploring Copenhagen.

One of the main attractions of the Absalon is its location. It is in the Vesterbro neighbourhood, which is very close to the railway station, making it very easy to navigate the city by foot. You are just 5 minutes walk from the central shopping area, and also the Meatpacking district where there are plenty of interesting places for foodies to discover. Take a walk down Viktoriagade to try some craft beers and some interesting restaurants.

Getting there 

Book your flights as far in advance as you can, as they do get expensive. I have used SAS from Heathrow and Norwegian Air from Gatwick, and both have been very good.

As an alternative to a taxi, take the train into Copenhagen Central Station (København H), which is roughly a 10-15 minute journey and super, cheap, too.

 These are just a small selection of my favourite recommendations for a visit to Copenhagen. You’ll find many recommendations for places to visit online, but I have tried to bring you some suggestions that you might not have read about elsewhere, and were introduced to me by some of Denmark’s top foodies. For more recommendations for places to visit, do take a look at the excellent Visit Copenhagen and Visit Denmark websites.

Adventure and Luxury in The Lakes


The English Lakes remain one of the most popular UK destinations, and simply a wonderful place to visit all year around, never failing to delight and inspire.

There is always something new to discover in the Lakes, and so we headed up to Cumbria recently to get away from it all, explore and enjoy the awe-inspiring scenery and some truly delicious food.

Where to stay

Askham Hall is a Grade I-listed home dating back to the 14th century situated on the far northeastern edge of the Lakes, near Penrith. Used as a private residence by the Lowther family since the 1830s, it has recently been converted into a characterful small boutique hotel with a restaurant. This is a grand castle on the outside, with a very homely feel on the inside. It makes an exceptionally memorable place to visit, situated in large, private gardens.


Askham Hall’s sister establishment is the George and Dragon in Clifton, just a few miles away, which was our base for this trip. Also recently converted, it’s an upmarket country estate inn, situated at the edge of a small village, with a major road, the A6 running through, with a popular restaurant and tasteful, comfortable rooms upstairs, offering quality B&B accommodation.


We stayed at the George and Dragon, as Askham Hall was full when we visited. The George and Dragon was a comfortable base for our stay. Rooms are tastefully decorated and we had a small bedroom with a very large bathroom with an excellent shower and lovely Bramley toiletries, which are made in the UK. The bedroom was small, but very comfortable and warm and nicely furnished. It is situated on an A road, but there wasn’t much traffic noise at night, even with the window open. Its location makes it a popular and convenient stop off for anyone heading from Scotland to England or vice versa, as well as visitors to the Lakes. Breakfast at the George and Dragon is very nice. The cooked options are excellent, with lovely local sausages, delicious eggs and giant flat mushrooms on offer. There is lovely thick yoghurt and good orange juice on the menu, too. Service is very nice, and it is a very civilized start to the day. This is a great place to stay and an excellent, comfortable yet unfussy base from which to explore the Lakes. Next time, I will try Askham Hall, and hope they can fit me in!

Where to eat

The Lake District’s natural larder is rich and plentiful, and so I like to try as much local produce as I can when I am in the area. With Askham Hall and the George and Dragon being renowned for their good food, it seemed the obvious choice to eat in both restaurants. Our first meal was at Askham Hall. We arrived for the last sitting on a Saturday night. It was a glorious evening and a beautiful drive down narrow, winding lanes to find the hotel. It is such a small establishment; you really do feel as though you are entering someone’s home, which is part of the charm of a visit. We were greeted extremely warmly by Nico Chièze, the House Manager, and shown to a sitting room, where we had a chance to look through the menus with a perfectly chilled glass of champagne and some scrumptious nibbles. Nico returned to take us through to our table when it was time to eat, which was in a separate area of the building. It’s a small dining room adjacent to the semi-open kitchen, seating around 20 people, which is elegantly decorated and sat on the edge of the garden. It is such a gorgeous room in which to spend an evening, and you practically feel as though you are outside, with huge glass windows running from ceiling to floor.


There is the choice between a three course and a five course meal, with coffee taken in the drawing room afterwards included. We opted for the five course menu, as there were so many dishes on the menu that appealed, it was hard to choose.

Much of the fresh produce on the menu is grown in the gardens on-site, and what can’t be produced there, is sourced locally.

I can honestly say it was one of the best meals I have had in a very long time. Chef Richard Swale is Cumbria born and bred and having worked in London and Paris under Anthony Demetre and Marc Veyrat to name a few, he has honed his skills and returned to Cumbria to work with the sensational local produce and create something really special.

Richard’s food is exquisite, both in flavour, skill and appearance, but what I loved most was the clean, pure flavours, the superb provenance and freshness of ingredients, and the lack of pretention. This is amazing food cooked with supreme skill and expertise, but without any of the old-fashioned, excessively rich approach that one so often finds at a fine dining restaurant. This is truly exciting, sensational, utterly delicious food that is truly memorable. The service is a joy, too. Knowledgeable, friendly, unpretentious and charming, and I urge you to visit.

The George and Dragon’s restaurant was our destination for the second evening. After a long and tiring, but fun day outdoors, it was really lovely to be able to walk downstairs for dinner, and not have to worry about driving.

With a focus on local produce, the restaurant offers very good gastro-pub food. There is a large menu offering lots of meat and fish options. We really enjoyed our meal here; it is a exactly the sort of food you want for a nice meal after a day outdoors. The food is very good, the atmosphere is comfortable yet relaxed and the service is absolutely lovely, but informal. Standout dishes include the scallop starter with pea purée, pancetta and local black pudding, and for the main, the steak, which is reared on the estate and hung for at least 28 days, if not longer. The wine list is most interesting, with a number of bottles coming from the family cellar, offering a fantastic opportunity to try some excellent wine at a highly competitive price.

What to do 

The Lake District is a dream for anyone looking to enjoy the great outdoors. There are countless breathtaking walks, cycle rides and climbs to tackle, but this time, we decided to see the Lakes from a different perspective: by car. Kankku is the Lake District’s off-road specialist, offering driving experiences throughout the National Park. There are a number of options available at Kankku for short and long trips, to drive yourself, or be driven, to take your own 4×4 or theirs, to tackle adventurous terrain in a specially adapted 4×4 or to take a more gentle adventure in a WW2 Land Rover.


There are options for families and groups, too, but we decided to take a 4×4 on the toughest drive available, and with just the two of us, we would share the driving. This was the Expedition trip, which was a 5 hour guided drive, taking us up to the highest point in the Lakes which is accessible by car.

The day started early, and the weather was poor first thing, with us driving through the clouds to get to the Kankku offices in Windermere, where all trips start from. That’s the brilliant thing about Kankku – you can have a fantastic adventure outdoors, even when the weather isn’t great. Fortunately, it picked up as we drove out towards Grizedale to start our adventure, taking the car ferry across Lake Windermere. The trip starts promptly, with cars heading out on convoy to the ferry. We started off in a Land Rover Defender, which was driven by instructor Jess, with us on board, followed by another party in a Mitsubishi Pajero. An instructor always goes out on the more challenging terrain, to guide you along, and you can have up to 5 cars in convoy.

We started a challenging climb up through Grizedale along a green lane track, which took us up over huge, jagged slabs of bedrock, made more challenging by the wet weather. This was an exhilarating start to the drive and seriously challenging. We carried on climbing over the next couple of hours, interspersed with short flat sections, either on tracks or road to get to the next section of the route. Jess, our guide used a radio to communicate between the cars, to ensure we all followed the correct lines and techniques to negotiate the terrain.

When we reached the top, we got out and enjoyed the views, which were just sensational. Jess phoned ahead to a local pub to order us lunch, and we headed off there, for a quick pit stop. After lunch, we took a drive through Langdale, which was lovely, negotiating some seriously challenging rocks, narrow tracks and tiny bridges, before heading back through the forest to Windermere.


It was a totally brilliant day. Intense, challenging, and totally exhilarating. But what we loved most of all, was that we were taught how to drive a 4×4 properly. A Kankku experience does not involve tearing carelessly though the countryside at high speed. One learns how to control the car and to use the 4×4 settings properly, which you wouldn’t know how to do unless you are taught, and then how best to tackle the lanes and off road tracks without damaging your vehicle, stranding yourself, or damaging the environment. It was a brilliant day out, one I can’t recommend highly enough, and even better, thanks to the excellent guidance and tuition received, you learn a new skill, too.

Ullswater is a short drive from Askham Hall and The George and Dragon. This is such a picturesque and tranquil lake, it really is worth visiting. The surroundings are epically beautiful and it is a particularly unspoilt and underdeveloped part of the Lakes, making it feel particularly special. Take the Ullswater Steamer boat on a ride across the lake to see it from a completely different perspective.

Whilst you’re there, a trip to Aira Force is essential. Owned by the National Trust, it is a truly magical 65ft waterfall nestled in a particularly secluded haven. There is a steep but safe climb up to the top of the waterfall, where one can cross a Victorian bridge and watch the waterfall from above, which is an enchanting experience. There are plenty of gorgeous spots for a picnic on site too, making it a lovely trip for all the family to enjoy.

Yet again, the Lake District proved itself to be the perfect destination for a long weekend. The surroundings always delight, there are new adventures to be had, and there is always somewhere gorgeous to stay and delicious food to enjoy. I can’t recommend a trip highly enough.

Thank you to Go Lakes for organising my wonderful itinerary and to Askham Hall, the George & Dragon and Kankku for looking after us so well.