Al Vecchio Fontanile

For our last night in Italy, I had found a B&B situated in the rural outskirts of Rome, only a half hour drive to the airport. We had a few issues with the GPS, it seemed some of the road names were different to the directions we had been given. After a few trips up and down the same stretch of road, we eventually arrived at Al Vecchio Fontanile. The stone farmhouse was only a few years old

1.the farmhouse

and was surrounded by fruit trees and olive trees.

2.the orchard

The younger family members were very welcoming and well behaved.

Our room was comfortable and beautifully finished, it felt like we were in a much older house.

5.our room

I love the detail in the curtains.

9.curtains

The quality and style continued in the bathroom.

10.bathroom

After relaxing with a restorative beverage or two, we drove to a nearby ristorante, Il Sogna and enjoyed delicious ravioli, gnocchi and panna cotta. We were bestowed with complimentary biscotti and homemade grappa before wending our way back, without the help of the GPS. The breakfast spread the next morning was sensational.

11.breakfast

Served in a lovely sunny room it was the perfect way to start the day.

15.breakfast

Yorkshire Dales

Our circuitous route of Britain led us from Edinburgh across the border, back to England via the Yorkshire Dales, famous for the drystone walls crossing the stunning landscape.

1.Yorkshire Dales3.Yorkshire Dales4.Yorkshire Dales

We drove across Wensleydale,

12.Yorkshire Dales5.Yorkshire Dales

a lush sweeping valley that runs from west to east.

6.Yorkshire Dales7.Yorkshire Dales8.Yorkshire Dales

Each dale has its own character, with rivers flowing along the valley bottom,

9.Yorkshire Dales

hardy sheep grazing in the pastures,

10.Yorkshire Dales

and stone farm buildings dotting the countryside.

2.Yorkshire Dales11.Yorkshire Dales

We stopped at the Wensleydale Heifer in West Witton and indulged in a half pint of their best.

13.Wensleydale Heifer14.Wensleydale Heifer

We would have been very tempted to stay, had we not been expected in Harrogate.

Hay Shed Hill

After a morning exploring the beautiful Margaret River region coastline, we had worked up an appetite. In the heart of the Wilyabrup Valley, Rústico at Hay Shed Hill vineyard was the perfect destination.

1.Hay Shed Hill

The setting was serene

2.Hay Shed Hill

surrounded by vines

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and the 6 course degustation menu was irresistible.

4.6 course degustation

If you’re not into food porn, look away now. We started with Esperance Scallops: West Australian scallops in the shell, chorizo, pear purée, candied jamón.

Fried Goats Cheese with orange blossom honey followed.

8.Fried Goats Cheese

Salmon Bresaola: dill aioli, pickled ginger & cucumber was a fabulous third course.

9.Salmon Bresaola

After the Free Range Linley Valley Pork Belly with apple purée & sticky Pedro Ximinez,

10.Pork Belly

I wandered around the garden, admiring the rustic artworks

while the boys discussed the fine art of cigar box guitar making.

21.Hay Shed Hill

I returned in time for the Margaret River Black Angus Petit Mignons: beef fillet wrapped in bacon, sweet potato, asparagus, green peppercorn jus.

22.Petit Mignons

We decided to forego the dessert tasting plate in favour of the European cheese board with muscatels, honeycomb & house breads.

23.Cheese Board

Obviously, there was wine involved in this fantastic experience, I just can’t remember which one. Thank you, Dave, for a wonderful afternoon.

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Bolsena

On a hot, sunny day we reluctantly said arrivederci to Il Castagno and set off toward Rome for our final night in Italy. I had looked at the map and chosen a place to stop for lunch on the way, Bolsena. The town was beautiful, the old buildings merged perfectly with the new.

1.Bolsena2.Bolsena3.Bolsena4.Bolsena

7.Bolsena

We parked the car and walked the plane tree-lined avenue toward the lake.

8.Bolsena

Some of the homes were absolutely stunning.

9.Bolsena10.Bolsena

As we neared the lake,

11.Bolsena

we knew exactly where we were having lunch. Trattoria del Moro, perched right over the water, had spectacular views of Lake Bolsena.

12.Trattoria del Moro13.Trattoria del Moro

The largest volcanic lake in Europe has, fortunately, been dormant since 104BC.

14.Lake Bolsena

19.Lake Bolsena

We dined al fresco, the fish was excellent and with the vino and the sunshine, we could have lingered for hours.

24.fish and chips

Instead, we slowly made our way back to the car,

25.The Castle of Bolsena26.Bolsena27.Bolsena

31.Bolsena

trying not to think about the imminent end to our wonderful trip. I think Michael would fit in well in Italy.

32.Michael

We will be returning to Italy next year and will make sure a trip to Bolsena and lunch by the lake is on the agenda.

Edinburgh

After leaving Inverness, we drove over the Grampian Mountains, with the intention of visiting Balmoral Castle. The snow became heavier

and as the temperature plummeted to -5ºC, we decided to head straight for Edinburgh instead. We arrived as the sun was setting

4.Edinburgh

and found a hotel we liked the look of. Unfortunately, they only had a room for one night but recommended another place for us. We were told it was opposite a big building, we couldn’t miss it. After driving past three times, we finally found Ashgrove House, but couldn’t see anything across the road in the dark. After a marvelous curry and a good night’s sleep, I opened the curtains and, sure enough, the Donaldson’s School, a residential and day school for the deaf, was certainly a big building across the road.

5.Edinburgh

Our accommodation was lovely, in the attic room of this beautiful Victorian villa built in 1868.

6.Ashgrove House

A short walk away, Edinburgh Castle loomed magnificently over the town.

7.Edinburgh Castle

Built on volcanic rock, there has been a royal castle on this site since the 12th century,

8.Edinburgh Castle9.Edinburgh Castle

with royals in residence up until 1633.

10.Edinburgh Castle,Half Moon Battery and Palace Block

The view from the castle over Edinburgh and beyond was stunning.

11.Edinburgh12.Edinburgh

As we left the castle, we caught a glimpse of the Firth of Forth between the buildings,

13.Firth of Forth

before setting off down the Royal Mile.

14.Royal Mile

The Scotch Whisky Experience was tempting but, as Michael isn’t keen on whisky, we opted for the 3D Loch Ness Experience instead.

15.Royal Mile16.Royal Mile

After treating ourselves to a pair of gold celtic rings, our keepsake from Scotland, we celebrated with a pint and bacon sandwich at the Royal Mile Tavern. I have seen condom machines in women’s toilets before, but never scotch whisky flavoured, nor with the advice to refrain from driving while using the product!

The old tenements and alleyways were fascinating

19.Edinburgh

as we made our way to the far end of the mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The Queen’s Gallery is an art gallery that forms part of the palace and exhibits works from the Royal Collection.

20.Edinburgh

The palace as it stands today was built between 1671-1678 and is the official residence of the Queen when she is in Scotland.

21.Palace of Holyroodhouse

The fountain is a 19th century replica of the 16th century fountain at Linlithgow Palace, just 15 miles away.

22.Palace of Holyroodhouse fountain

We wandered back to the new town, absorbing the spectacular architecture of the Edinburgh skyline

23.Edinburgh24.Edinburgh25.Edinburgh26.Edinburgh27.Edinburgh28.Edinburgh

and the undying traditions of Scotland.

29.piper

The next morning, we detoured to Dalmeny to see the Forth Bridges before leaving Edinburgh. The magnificent railway bridge was opened in 1890 and is the second-longest single cantilever bridge span in the world.

30.Forth Railway Bridge31.Forth Railway Bridge

The 2.5km suspension road bridge was opened in 1964, six years after work began.

32.Forth Road Bridge33.Forth Road Bridge

We didn’t drive across it, instead heading in the opposite direction.