Sunday, 17 June 2018

Thailand | How to support Lanta Animal Welfare

Visiting Ko Lanta, staying at Oasis Yoga Bungalows and supporting Lanta Animal Welfare was one of the best experiences of our time in Thailand. LAW is a non profit charity set up in 2005 by Junie Kovacs. They're dedicated to rescuing injured, abandoned and mistreated cats and dogs, with the ultimate goal of rehoming them, educating the locals about animal welfare and reducing the issue of strays in Thailand through sterilisation.

This post contains affiliate links, meaning that I will earn a small commission from any booking/sale made through the link, at no extra cost to you.

Deng Mia at Lanta Animal Welfare


In Thailand dogs aren't always respected like the family pets we know and love. As strays they can overpopulate and be misunderstood and mistreated, mostly due to a lack of education which Lanta Animal Welfare are trying to combat by going out to local schools. One local told us if you see a dog on the island these days, it probably belongs to someone - all down to the work that LAW does!

Dog Walking at Lanta Animal Welfare

We heard some incredibly sad stories at the centre; Deng Mia was hit by a car and had her leg amputated as a result. Mooky had boiling oil poured over his head! Libby was found with a serious skin infection and injuries which led to having one eye removed.  LAW have a vet clinic run by volunteers on Ko Lanta where they treat the sick and wounded animals, and often provide mobile clinics in other parts of southern Thailand too.

Kitty City, Lanta Animal Welfare

Recently LAW launched their brand new Kitty City, providing a safe space for rescued cats to roam, as well as an awesome place to welcome visitors and encourage cat cuddles! Vegan food is served in the Kitty Café - everything from wraps and brownies to iced teas - with the proceeds going towards the centre too.

Kitty City Lanta Animal Welfare

Volunteer

You can really get stuck in and volunteer at Lanta Animal Welfare. You don't have to be a qualified vet/vet nurse (although they do need them too!), you can be a host volunteer meeting and greeting visitors, giving tours and running the café or a general volunteer. This role involves cleaning, gardening, maintenance and generally caring for the animals too. It's a "working holiday" essentially - find more info on LAW's website here.

Meeting Deng Mia, three legged dog at Lanta Animal Welfare

Walk the dogs!

If you want to help out on a more casual basis while you're at Lanta, this is the option for you. Pop in to the shelter in the morning, before 11am or after 3pm (avoiding the hottest time of the day) and you'll get to meet a pack of pups and take them out for their daily walk.

Howard the dog, Lanta Animal Welfare

We popped in after breakfast on our first morning and, along with a German couple, met Libby, Deng Mia, Howard and little Ron. He was a pretty nervous dog but by the end of our walk in the woods he relaxed and became more playful. They were so cute and it's impossible not to fall in love - even when they try to pick up dead snakes from the side of the road!

Walking puppy Ron at Lanta Animal Welfare

I highly recommend this, especially if you're only on the island for a short space of time. As a dog lover it was the highlight of my day, and was a good chance to meet other like minded travellers too!

Ron and Libby at Lanta Animal Welfare

Eat at Time for Lime

Another highlight from Ko Lanta was dinner at Time for Lime. The restaurant on Khlong Dao beach shares it's owner (and profits!) with the shelter, making it the main contributor to Lanta Animal Welfare. By eating and drinking at Time for Lime, taking part in their Thai cooking school and cocktail classes, or staying in one of their nine bungalows, you are supporting LAW!

cocktails at Time for lime, ko lanta

Had we been more organised, I absolutely would have booked the cooking class. There was one going on when we were there and it looked super fun. We got chatting to a Scottish guy here - the only Scot we met during 2 weeks in Thailand - turns out he was from Banchory of all places! It really is a small world.

at Time for Lime, Ko Lanta

Watch the sunset from the beach bar with a cold Singha or a lemongrass margarita in hand, then tuck in to some tasty Thai tapas from Time for Lime's daily changing menu. Each night's selection starts off with mien kham - Thailand in one bite!

Thailand in one Bite, Time for Lime Koh Lanta

A platter of ingredients appeared in front of us at the bar; chilli, lime, ginger, peanuts, dried shrimp, red onion, coconut flakes and honey. The idea is to pop a bit of each onto the pepper leaves, wrap it up and literally enjoy the taste of Thailand in one bite. I have to admit we were sceptical but it's spot on! A real flavour sensation, capturing everything that makes my mouth water when I think about Thai food!

Thai tapas at Time for Lime, Ko Lanta

Visiting on a Monday, the tapas platter consisted of shrimp in wild pepper leaves with a sweet chilli dip, an incredible vegan massaman curry and delicious caramelised king fish with a Thai herb salad, served with a side of traditional sticky rice. Everything is super fresh, and made with local ingredients. Honestly, Time for Lime get the flavours bang on. Made with sweet potato and tofu, it was our first ever taste of a massman dish and we have been hooked ever since! 

Time for Lime Ko Lanta tapas

Dessert was a vegan brownie with crunchy peanut brittle and a perfectly sweet, palette cleansing lemon sorbet - perfect for the two of us to share! Time for Lime was one of the stand out meals of our entire Thailand trip. 

time for lime dessert brownie

At 380THB (approx. £9) for the "Taste of Thailand" and tapas plate, and an extra 120THB (nearly £3) for dessert, it was excellent value for money. We spent roughly £20 on food, which could be considered expensive in Thailand, but you can leave feeling satisfied that some of that money will go towards the care of the cute dogs you walked that morning!

time for lime brownie

I'd love to return to Ko Lanta and volunteer at LAW for a month or two. If I had the time to dedicate to it, I would absolutely adopt one of their rescue dogs. Unfortunately it'll be a while before I'm able to do either of those things but if you happen to be visiting Lanta you can help by doing any of the above, or you can donate here!


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Saturday, 9 June 2018

Aberdeen | Where to celebrate World Gin Day!

Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world... Aberdeen has some of the best! We are spoiled for choice with locally made spirits in the North East of Scotland, and the city's ever evolving bar scene offers some incredible surroundings to enjoy them in. If you're looking for somewhere to celebrate World Gin Day, check out these six awesome Aberdeen bars.

World Gin Day | Aberdeen's 6 best gin bars

Rye & Soda

With Jindea single estate tea gin as the house serve, Rye & Soda is a good place to start! If the sun is shining you can even enjoy a G&T from the lengthy list of American, Scottish, dry, "interesting" or flavoured gins out on the terrace. Check out the 10 Dollar Shake tasting academy for an in depth lesson in the spirit, either at Rye & Soda or along the road at The Tippling House!

The Academy, Belmont Street, Aberdeen

Orchid Aberdeen - Porter's Gin - Cocktail

Orchid

Recently listed 12th in the top 50 cocktail bars in the UK, Orchid is also an excellent spot for gin tastings. Here at the home of Porter's - one of Aberdeen's best known gins -  award winning bartenders craft incredible cocktails with an eclectic range of house made infusions. 

Langstane Place, Aberdeen

The Craftsman Company Aberdeen - Gin
Photo by North Hop

The Craftsman Company

With it's wide selection of Scottish gins, The Craftsman Company is the perfect place for a perfect serve. A laidback rustic but modern interior with large communal tables, it's ideal for a lunch time pit stop or a catch up with friends. My gin of choice here is Shetland Reel, served with light Fever Tree tonic and a hefty wedge of grapefruit in a giant balloon glass!

Guild Street, Aberdeen

Grape & Grain Aberdeen - Gin

Grape & Grain

"Scotland's most stylish bar 2018" specialises in wine, but also features a generous gin offering. Their current gin of the month "eeNoo" is distilled nearby by Lost Loch Distillery, showcasing a plethora of flavours including Royal Deeside honey, and locally foraged raspberries and brambleberries. For £9 at Grape & Grain a standard serve of 50ml includes tonic and garnish.

Thistle Street, Aberdeen

The Gin Garden - Eat on the Green - Aberdeenshire

The Gin Garden

For a more unusual gin haunt, head out of the city to Eat on the Green. Their gorgeous new Gin Garden boasts a menu of 50 gins, as well as one of the prettiest bars in the North East. If you need any more convincing, read my 5 reasons to visit The Gin Garden!

Udny Green, Ellon, Aberdeenshire

Cognito Deli - Gin Flight - Aberdeen
Photo by Aimee Talks Gin

Cognito

At the perfectly intimate Cognito Deli, or luxurious Cognito on the Corner, you can choose from the "Junior Jet Club" or "Mile High Club" gin flights for the ultimate gin experience. For £12-14 you'll be served 3 top quality gins with a bottle of Fever Tree tonic - what better way to spend a Saturday afternoon?

Union Grove, or Mid Stocket Road, Aberdeen


Tell me, how are you celebrating World Gin Day?

Wednesday, 6 June 2018

Spain | 7 Great Places to Eat in Seville

Rocky mountains line the road from Malaga to Seville, masking abundant wineries, with the landscape soon flattening, transformed by row upon row of green olive tree as far as the eye can see. Little wander that Seville is known for its culinary delights; the Guadalquiver river and it's surrounding fertile soil certainly helps bring a plethora of local produce to the table. There's more to Seville than the bitter orange!

Spending just two nights in the city hardly makes us experts on the local cuisine but we made our best effort to sample as many regional delights as possible, discovering these great places to eat in Seville along the way.

7 great places to eat in Seville - Bar Patanchon

This article contains affiliate links. This means I will earn a small commission from any booking/sale made through these links, at no extra cost to you.

Eating out in Seville is unlike anywhere I've been before. Spain in general is known for it's tapas scene of course, but I've never experienced it like this before. Old school eateries with grand wooden bars, menus on blackboards and shelves stocked high with local wines and sherries. Busy service staff yell out orders to the kitchen in Spanish, whilst chalking up your bill on the bar in front of you. It's busy, it's vibrant, it's fun!

7 great places to eat in Seville - Bar Patanchon
7 great places to eat in Seville - Bar Patanchon

Bar Patanchon

Our first evening saw us head to the Barrio Santa Cruz, where we were ignored at the first few bars, before settling down at Bar Patanchon. Staff were busy but still found time to acknowledge us, so we quickly grabbed a table by the door, and placed our order for cerveza y vino tinto! (Beer and red wine, of course).

7 great places to eat in Seville - espinacas con garbonzas
7 great places to eat in Seville - Bar Patanchon

It was our first night and I was keen to try out one of the dishes I'd heard so much about - espinacas con garbanzos! A tasty Andalusian stew of spinach and chickpeas, flavoured with Spanish smoked paprika and garlic, and mopped up with soft white bread. 

7 great places to eat in Seville - calamari

This version could of done with more flavour, but accompanied with classic calamari, Iberian ham croquettes, albondigas en salsa (meatballs in a tomato sauce) and delicious garlicky patatas aioli, it was an excellent start to our culinary experience of Seville.

Bar Patanchon, Calle Mateos Gago, 13-41004 Sevilla

7 great places to eat in Seville - Bar Patanchon


Bodega Santa Cruz (Las Columnas)

I'd heard great things about the tapas and nightlife at Bodega Santa Cruz, but they were literally out the door every night. Instead we popped in for breakfast on our final day, snapping up a table in the corner next to a friendly American (who told us how he'd been to Scotland once but only the airports, you know those well known Scottish airports Heathrow and Gatwick... Ahem). 

7 great places to eat in Seville - bodega santa cruz tostadas

Tostada con tomate is a typical breakfast dish in Andalusia - toast with tomato. Gordon, ever the meat eater, topped his with another local delicacy known as pringa - which I can only describe as a mash up of meats (chorizo, black pudding and pork) usually used as a sandwich filling. It doesn't look or sound appetizing but I promise it is tasty! Service is quick here and the food is super cheap. A tostada with coffee (café con leche) cost only a couple of Euros!

Bodega Santa Cruz, Calle Rodrigo Caro 1, Barrio de Santa Cruz, Sevilla

7 great places to eat in Seville - Jester

Jester

If you don't have time for a sit down breakfast, check out Jester. Grab take-away coffees, fresh juices, healthy snacks like yoghurt with fruit or more indulgent pastries. I highly recommend the crème croissants!

Calle Puerta de la Carne 7, Sevilla


7 great places to eat in Seville - El Pinton
7 great places to eat in Seville - tinto de verano

El Pinton

Traditional tapas is everywhere in Seville but if you fancy something a bit different to eat, El Pinton is a must! Quirky, modern tapas dishes are served in a gorgeous Instagram-ready setting. Potted cacti line the entrance and a huge tree makes a striking centrepiece in the pretty pastel coloured décor. Smaller dining areas feature stunning traditional tiles in the same style as the Plaza de Espana.  

7 great places to eat in Seville - El Pinton
7 great places to eat in Seville - El pinton battered egg

El Pinton's menu is diverse, with plenty veggie options, but priced higher than most places to eat in Seville. It's worth the extra couple of euros though; you won't find dishes like these anywhere else. Take the advice of the staff - we never would have selected the battered egg with quinoa and truffle parmentier, but I loved the unusual flavours!

7 great places to eat in Seville - El Pinton
7 great places to eat in Seville - fried cod
7 great places to eat in Seville - El Pinton

Gordon's dish of choice - the ox mini slider - was served medium-rare with a side of fries, but it was the other two dishes that stole the show. Mushroom risotto proved to be unexpectedly more-ish and the crispy fried salt cod was unreal! It's the one dish I would absolutely order again, and again - we practically fought over the last piece!

7 great places to eat in Seville - mushroom risotto
7 great places to eat in Seville - ox slider

Order tinto de varano for a sangria style drink more popular with the locals. El Pinton is just a short stroll from la Giralda & the cathedral, and just up the street you'll find Seville's branch of my favourite Spanish shop 'Ale-Hop'. You'll spend a bit more dining at El Pinton, but you get impeccable service and outstanding food. Worth every penny!

El Pinton, Francos 42, 41004 Sevilla

7 great places to eat in Seville - Mercado Lonja del Barranco
7 great places to eat in Seville - vino naranja

Mercado Lonja del Barranco

Wherever we are in the world, we seem to find ourselves lost in food markets. Seville has plenty, and I hear good things about Mercado de Triana, but if you only have time for one make it Lonja del Barranco!

7 great places to eat in Seville - Mercado Lonja del Barranco
7 great places to eat in Seville - gyoza, mercado
7 great places to eat in Seville - vino naranja

With sleek white counters and sunlight beaming in through the glass walls, here you can enjoy everything from tasty gyoza to deliciously indulgent chocolate cake. Not to mention some of the freshest produce around -you'll find whole legs of jamon iberica hanging behind the charcuterie counters and fishmongers showcase an impressive array of oysters and octopus.

7 great places to eat in Seville - Mercado Lonja del Barranco
7 great places to eat in Seville - Mascarpone chocolate cake

I recommend grabbing a glass of vino de naranja (where else can you drink orange wine?) & pulling up a pew on the terrace outside! You can also sample Cruzcampo - Seville's local beer!

Arjona st. next to Triana Bridge, 41001, Sevilla


7 great places to eat in Seville - El Rinconcillo
7 great places to eat in Seville - El Rinconcillo tapas

El Rinconcillo

For a more authentic experience, El Rinconcillo is a must! Seville's oldest tapas bar has been on the go since 1670 in the city's Old Town, and is still one of the  most popular spots today. We started a tapas crawl here on our final night, easily nabbing a spot at the bar.

7 great places to eat in Seville - El Rinconcillo tapas
7 great places to eat in Seville - El Rinconcillo

Dishes are available in small "tapa" portions or larger "racions". We shared small plates of melt in the mouth Spanish pork cheeks with soft sliced potato, and the best homemade croquettes of our trip! These two dishes, plus two small beers and a glass of red wine cost us just 10 euros.

Calle Gerona 40, 41003, Sevilla 

7 great places to eat in Seville - Iberian ham, jamon iberico
7 great places to eat in Seville - Bar Alfalfa

Bar Alfalfa

Another highlight of our mini tapas tour, this small bar was jam packed. We made our way through the crowd, squeezing in at the bar and browsing the tapas menu. Cheerful young waiters shouted "Chicas, chicas!" passing plates over our heads to the excitable young ladies sharing sangria over a barrel table in the midst of it all.

7 great places to eat in Seville - Bar Alfalfa

We couldn't resist the hummus with flatbread and finally had a taste of the provincial speciality - Jamon Iberico. A type of cured ham made from acorn fed black Iberian pigs. Most eateries will also serve baskets of bread and olives alongside any tapas that you order, so make the most of these too!

Calle Candilejo 1, 41004, Sevilla

7 great places to eat in Seville - Bar Alfalfa

Top tips for eating out in Seville:

Food is cheap - don't pay more than 1-3 euros at the most for traditional tapas.
Sevillanos eat late - head out for tapas from 9pm onwards.
Try Iberian ham, olives and orange wine to tick off the most famous regional flavours!

If you visit Seville I'd love to hear about your favourite places to eat - tweet me or leave your tips in the comments below.
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