Orlando – More Than Just Theme Parks!

Posted on: May 27th, 2014 Posted by

orlando

 

Mention a holiday in Orlando, and for the majority of us, what comes to mind are the city’s numerous, world-famous theme parks. However, Orlando has much more to it than Disneyland, Universal et al. In this blog, we check out a selection of fascinating things to see and do that are ideal for when you get theme park “overload” and need a break, or if you simply want to skip those types of attractions altogether.

 

MennelloMuseum

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Mennelo Museum of American Art

As one of the best cultural attractions in Orlando, Mennelo Museum of American Art offers a comprehensive introduction to works from a diverse array of genres, eras and artists. With a pretty location on the banks of Lake Formosa, just outside of Downtown Orlando, the museum building was once the private home of Howard Philips and exhibits both a permanent collection and temporary shows, as well as displaying sculptures in the surrounding gardens.

 

wekiwa springs

 

Wekiwa Springs

A beautiful and popular state park, Wekiwa Springs is a brilliant choice for a family day out with a difference. Pack a picnic and your swimming togs, and head down to the park early to enjoy getting close to nature in wonderful unspoilt surroundings. Fauna including squirrels, turkeys and bears are frequently spotted in the park, there are dozens of walking and cycling trails, kayak hire is available and the springs that the park is named for offer a memorable wild swimming opportunity.

 

orlandosciencecenter

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Orlando Science Center

Educational and fun, the Orlando Science Center will be enjoyed by adults and kids alike. Spread over six floors of exhibition halls, themes include dinosaurs, the human body and the weather, and is sure to capture your families imagination. The museum also has an ongoing schedule of events and workshops throughout the year, a high-powered telescope, plus a choice of superb 3D theatres showing nature related films.

 

More Inspiration

Orlando has plenty more to offer visitors who don’t want to be tied to the hustle and bustle of amusement parks. Anyone who fancies an action packed holiday will be pleasantly surprised by the variety of activities on offer – indoor sky-diving, paddle-boarding, trapeze lessons, hot air balloon rides and sport fishing are only a few of the options available. Those who prefer a slower pace are also spoilt for choice – vineyard visits and tastings, designer shopping outlets, luxurious spas and foodie gourmet tours offer something for every interest and personality.

 

Have you been on vacation in Orlando and done something “different” – why not tell us about your experience? 

 

 

Refreshing Soups for Chilled Out Summer Dining

Posted on: May 19th, 2014 Posted by

 

family eating

 

Are you looking for a tasty and easy to prepare dinner party starter? Or perhaps you are looking for healthy and refreshing dishes to serve your family during the summer holidays? If so, we have a treat in store for you. In this weeks blog, we look at a selection of cold soups from around the world. Light and fresh in flavour, these summery soups bring seasonal ingredients to centre-stage and are a delight on the palate.

 

gazpacho

Gazpacho

Originating from the province of Andalusia, gazpacho is the perfect antidote to the extreme temperatures and dry, dusty climate of Spain in summer. Concocted from a base of tomato, onion, garlic, cucumber and bell pepper, gazpacho is blended with olive oil, water, vinegar and salt, for a intense flavour and sometimes thickened with stale bread for a more substantial texture. Often served with ice-cubes and a garnish of diced vegetables, this traditional Spanish dish also has the added bonus of being rich in vitamins and minerals, so it is as healthy as is is delicious.

 

ajo blanco

Ajo Blanco

Spain is also the home of our second cold soup, ajo blanco, or white garlic, soup. Like gazpacho, ajo blanco was created in Andalusia – some say in Seville and others in Malaga. As its name suggests, garlic is a key ingredient, but don’t let this put you off. The garlic is combined with almonds, bread, olive oil and salt to create a creamy textured soup which is surprisingly subtle. The soup is usually garnished with grapes or melon, which adds an exciting contrast of flavour and texture.

 

vichyssoise

Vichyssoise

Our third cold soup is vichyssoise – considered by many to be a traditional French dish, although some food historians suggest that it may actually have been invented in America! Vichyssoise is a chicken stock based soup, which also features leeks, potatoes and cream for an exquisite flavour and velvety mouth-feel. Unlike other cold soups, vichyssoise can also be served warm – but we think that it is at its best when chilled and served with a garnish of chives.

 

borscht

Borscht

Our final cold soup recommendation comes from Central and Eastern Europe, where is is very popular during the summer months. Borscht is made from beetroot, including the leaves where possible, which is chopped and boiled, before being mixed with sour cream or yogurt. This results in a beautiful, pink coloured soup that has a delightful and unusual flavour. Borscht is often garnished with hard-boiled eggs and radishes.

 

 

Have you tried any of these cold soups? Or have you discovered another cold soup that you think we should know about? Comment and let us know.

 

 

A Guide to Camp-fire Cookery

Posted on: May 12th, 2014 Posted by

camp fire

 

Planning a camping holiday for your summer vacation? If so, then this week’s blog is for you. We’ve put together a camp-fire cookery guide which covers everything you need to know to cook delicious meals that go way beyond your typical barbecued sausages and burgers. Follow our tips and tricks and your fellow campers will be salivating at the enticing aromas emanating from your camp!

 

chopping board

 

The Basics

Whether cooking indoors or outdoors, food safety and hygiene is always an important consideration.

  • Make use of insulated storage boxes and ice-packs to keep fresh ingredients chilled.
  • Wash your hands regularly, or use an antibacterial hand sanitizer if water is not available.
  • Avoid using the same chopping boards, plates etc. for raw and cooked foods, especially meats.
  • Use a meat thermometer to check that foods are cooked through before serving.

 

As you’ll be cooking on an open fire or barbecue, you’ll also want to bear the following points in mind.

  • For the best flavour always use charcoal or quality fire wood as cooking fuel.
  • Use utensils and equipment which are designed for cooking on an open flame.
  • Always fully extinguish the fire when you are finished cooking and never leave it unattended.

 

kebabs

 

What To Cook

Cooking on a camp-fire is very different from cooking in your home kitchen, and sometimes involves some creativity to get tasty results. One pot dishes such as stew, chilli con carne, curry, Boston beans and soup are all great options. Hearty enough to satisfy the hunger brought on by all that fresh air and fun, and convenient when you have lots of mouths to feed, one pot cookery also means there is minimal clean-up afterwards. Another idea that we love is making individual “all in one” meals of meat or fish, potatoes and vegetables wrapped in parcels of aluminium foil and cooked on a rack over hot coals. You can even make desserts using the same idea – try mixed summer fruits such as strawberries, plums and peaches, or for each person, split a banana along its length and place a few pieces of chocolate and marshmallow inside before wrapping and cooking until soft. Another option is to use barbecue skewers (metal is best, but if you have wooden skewers, soak in warm water for a couple of hours before use to prevent them from scorching). Let each person concoct their preferred combination of meat, vegetables, seafood and fish, and marinade or season to taste before cooking over hot coals. You can even try making the traditional camp-fire bread “twist”, which is a simple dough made from flour, water and salt or sugar, twisted around a skewer or stick and cooked until golden!

 

Do you have a camp-fire cookery tip or recipe that you’d like to share with other readers? Comment and tell us about it!

 

3 Reasons to Try Glamping

Posted on: May 6th, 2014 Posted by

 

tipi's glamping

 

Over the past couple of years a large number of sites providing “glamping” accommodation have begun to spring up throughout the UK and beyond. From stays in shepherd’s huts to authentic Mongolian yurts, glamping is becoming a major self-catering trend and a fascinating alternative to normal holiday accommodation. In this week’s blog, we suggest three reasons why you might like to consider glamping for your next family vacation, couples getaway or group break.

 

glamping

 

Enjoy Outdoor Living in Comfort

The word glamping itself means glamorous camping – which might start to give you an idea of what this type of holiday is designed to offer. One of the main ideas behind glamping is to give everyone the chance to enjoy the good parts of camping, while getting rid of the less pleasant elements. When you glamp, there is no need to worry about the struggle of setting your tent up, and you can forget about sleepless nights on rocky ground. Glamping accommodation generally is all set up and fitted out with all the kit needed for a camping break, so that all you need to do is turn up on site and let your holiday begin. From double beds and bed linen, to camping stoves and kettles, glamping gives you all your home comforts in a beautiful natural setting.

 

wind power

 

Go Green

Many, although not all, glamping sites are set up to allow guests to enjoy a fun holiday while taking steps to protect and maintain the environment. Some eco-friendly glamping sites use alternative energy sources such as solar and wind power, and many are off the grid (meaning that the accommodation is not connected to mains electricity), helping to reduce the carbon footprint even further. Another popular feature of green glamping sites is compost toilets – a highly efficient and clean system which dramatically reduces the amount of water used to process waste.

 

camping fire

 

Spend Quality Time With Family

Another great thing about glamping is that it creates an experience that encourages everyone to participate and have some real quality time together. With no TV or internet, you’ll find yourself taking time to enjoy the good things in life – interacting with the ones you love and making memories together. Cooking together, sharing stories around the camp-fire, checking out local attractions and trying new activities are all ways that a glamping break can help you disconnect from the stresses of everyday existence and reconnect with the special people in your life.

 

Has this our blog inspired you to book a camping holiday? Have you already tried glamping? Comment and let us know your thoughts and experiences.