Tavistock Hotel, London

Tavistock Hotel is an easy walk from London Kings Cross station. The outside could do with some love (at night, the letters are missing) but inside, it looks nicer. The room rates are on the cheaper side for London, and there is the option of the breakfast buffet included. When booking, we also received a voucher for a 3 course meal on the first night in the hotel restaurant, which could be a good idea if you are looking to save and dine out.

The room is fairly small and contains all of the main amenities that you expect a room should have. The beds are oddly low to the ground and have plastic sheeting underneath, which can be very noisy if you tend to move around in your sleep. The bathroom is small but the shower works well. The TV didn’t really work – although you don’t expect to watch much TV if you are on holiday, it would be a nice feature to have. The rooms are generally clean.

The breakfast buffet is good value and there is plenty on offer – just avoid the tea and coffee!

I didn’t really love the room, but for somewhere cheap and in a good location, this is a good option. It is a basic room, you do get what you pay for, but it can be hard to find cheap accommodation in London, and it leaves more money for your holiday!

Amenities included – TV, shower gel, soap, body lotion and shampoo, towels, tea, coffee, kettle, hairdryer.


Yukisan, Plymouth

Recently, we visited Plymouth for the day. We started off with lunch at Yukisan, Devon’s first and oldest Japanese restaurant. Inside the surroundings are quite nice, with Chinese art on display. For a Monday lunchtime, it was quiet. They have a vast menu, but we opted for the lunch set menu – 3 courses for £13.95. The lunch set menu doesn’t have a large range, and not much details on what is included. I opted for the miso salmon, meat bento box and green tea ice cream. My partner chose the prawn tempura and the seafood bento box.

Our starters arrived. The prawn tempura was a mix of prawn and sweet potato. The batter was quite light and it came with dipping sauces. The salmon was delicious. The sauce was full of different flavours – simply delicious.

What followed was our bento boxes. The meat one came with chicken katsu, chicken stir-fried with ginger and spring onions, edamame and cucumber sushi rolls. I would have liked more variety in terms of meat – beef or pork? Sauce was given for the chicken, but just a small amount, so the chicken felt a little dry.

The seafood came with the same salmon as the starter and the prawn tempura, which we also had for the starters! The menu doesn’t give details of what is included in these bento boxes, but when we ordered, the waitress could have mentioned that the prawn tempura would also be featured in the bento box, so we could have ordered something different.

I had green tea ice cream to finish off. It was ok, but not the best quality ice cream.

People have given Yukisan rave reviews about the food and service. I felt a little disappointed – perhaps it was the dishes that we chose? If we were to return, I would select from the main menu instead. The service was good, if a little slow to start off with.

London Part 9: The Last Morning!


Before we left London, I wanted to visit Chinatown to buy some gifts. We checked out of the hotel at around 9am in order to make the most of our last few hours but I didn’t realise that almost everything in Chinatown opens after 10.30am! There are many people unloading their lorries and vans. The restaurants are open however, and they are very busy! I went to a restaurant called Far East in order to buy some egg tarts from the bakery and the restaurant was full! Had we had more time, I would have like to eaten at one of the restaurants – there are so many in Chinatown and a lot of them offer good deals. The food is more authentic compared to those in my area, which cook Chinese food to suit English tastes.


After a while, we headed back to the train station. I met Paddington Bear haha.


And so ends my trip! I really enjoyed it here (bar Giraffe) and I felt like time was too short! London is a place that demands to be revisited over and over again to see favourites and new things in the area. London is famous for its theatre and I would like to see a West End play next time I come here. There really is something for everyone, you just need enough time to fit everything in!

London Part 8: National Portrait Gallery and Covent Garden


We headed to the National Portrait Gallery next (just outside is the Mermans fountain). My sister is a great lover of art and this is the place to be. Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to look at everything in details, which just goes to prove how much there is to see.


Lots of famous painters are here from all periods of history and you can see the change of subject matter and styles as the displays get more modern. It is hard to navigate, so I would suggest paying £1 for a map. If you have a great interest in art, I would also suggest getting an audio guide for a small charge. Unfortunately, there were no more guides in English at the time. The museum is free to enter so it makes a great and inexpensive spot to visit.

Nearby is Nelson’s Column.


During out short trip, I wanted to go to Covent Garden – it is very good for shopping. In particular, I wanted to go to Artbox, a shop that sells lots of cute items from Japan and Korea. Artbox now features a Tofu Cute concession stand…my favourite online shop for snacks and cute stuff!


Everything is really cute that it took me a long time to decide what to buy! Items in this shop are a little more on the dear side because they are imported from Japan and Korea, but they are really unique.


Then we headed off to Shoryu Ramen to eat. Look, each table has garlic on the side!


When we first entered, we were taken aback when all the staff loudly greeted us in Japanese and someone sounded the gong. It is certainly something I have never experienced in the UK before!


Heh heh.


My sister was feeling brave and ordered the flight of sakes (£6.50 for 3). The waiter talked about the taste of each one and recommended the order they should be drank in.


I went for the summer set menu at £22. This includes a Japanese inspired cocktail (Yuzu Mojito)…


Chicken Hirata bun…


and Shoryu Ganso Tonkotsu. The broth was so lovely!

The food was delicious and the service was friendly and warm. I was left feeling so full I sadly had no room for dessert, which looked really good! As we left, everybody said bye to us in Japanese!


London Part 6: The Tower of London

Day 2 of our time in London, we woke up early and went to the Tower of London at 9am in order to make the most of our time. Already there are lots of people queueing. We bought our tickets online to save time, my ticket cost £16 for one concession.




I also saw one of these outside the Tower of London. As part of the release of the new film, The BFG, a few of the displays are scattered around the city for promotion. This one depicts Simon Cowell’s dream, about animals.




There is a lot to see here, many different parts of the building house different displays and features. The first spot we headed to was to see the Crown Jewels (no cameras allowed inside!). The jewellery and the ornate detail of the coronation equipment is a wonder to behold, and I couldn’t help but stand in awe of the items!

Another part I found really interesting was the Royal Beasts exhibition. During the Victorian times, it became very popular to house “exotic” animals in the tower. The animals were seen as wondrous and amazing, but were often mistreated knowingly and unknowingly. Some animals were made to fight for the spectators’ amusement, or taught to smoke cigarettes because it looked “funny” to the public. The people in charge didn’t have much knowledge of the animals they cared for – one seal was fed jam sandwiches!



A lot about the military is on show here. There is information on the history of the different wars that have taken place, the structure of the army, and the equipment and strategies that they used when in battle.


Some equipment was designed as a gift for high ranking officials. This display shows guns decorated with Swarovski crystals and designed by top designers.

Overall, we spent a good few hours here and managed to take a look at the majority of things. This was a very hot day, so midway we bought an ice cream, which instantly melted. Mmm…ice cream puddle.

Just outside, you can see the Tower Bridge. And then we headed off to Soho for our Hello Kitty Afternoon tea!…


London Part 3: The London Eye

The London Eye is another highlight for tourists. An adult ticket costs £22.50 and for 20 to 30 mins, you are able to see the most amazing views of the city.

London is quite an expensive place to visit and the queues are often very long. However, there are many offers you may find useful when travelling London. One is to buy a London Pass (https://www.londonpass.com), which enables you to get discounts on tickets and faster entry (although I think you cannot use this for the London Eye at the moment). The other option, which we used, was the National Rail 2 for 1 offer. If you are travelling by train, you can get 2 for 1 entry on many popular attractions and activities in London (https://www.daysoutguide.co.uk/2for1-london). This site also offers discounts in other cities (I have used this site when visiting Bath) so it is one to remember. We bought our tickets online to get faster entry at a 7pm slot, although we still had to wait five to ten minutes in the hot sunshine.

The first thing you notice when you queue is how magnificent the structure is; it is incredibly large! When it was our turn, we were told to step into the slowly moving pod as we begin our journey. Each pod carries about 10 people. Also, the pods are air conditioned which felt lovely at this very hot time!

There are lots of people taking photographs and admiring the views, overlooking the River Thames, the Big Ben, London Bridge and much more!




We learnt afterwards that when we queued, we were in the wrong area. This meant we missed out on our “4D experience” included with our tickets! I am quite interested to see what that would have been like – what kind of smells would be included in the 4D experience.

I think the London Eye is a good place to go to if this is your first visit to London, especially as it gives you a broad view of the cityscape and is very good for photo taking. It isn’t necessarily somewhere which demands a repeat visit. If you do go, and you are travelling to London by train, I definitely think you should purchase your tickets using the National Rail 2 for 1 offer – it is a great saving.


Edinburgh – Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo is a short bus ride from Princes Street. We arrived nice and early in order to maximise our animal-seeing time. Admittance is £16.50 for adults. There are plenty of animals to see, although sadly we didn’t get to see all of them! The orangutan enclosure was closed for medical reasons and the Sumatran tiger was hiding from us!




Koala Bear

Edinburgh Zoo is the only zoo in the UK which plays host to koala bears and giant pandas. There are currently four koalas.

Hello Tian Tian

Hello Tian Tian


Tian TIan with her bamboo

It was recently revealed in the news that Tian Tian is pregnant, so the zoo had warned that visitors might not be able to see her. However, Yang Guang will be encouraged to come out for regular feedings. For the pandas, you have to book a viewing slot. During our viewing slot (about 11am), Tian Tian was sat with her back to the visitors eating bamboo. She reached to the side table for more bamboo, nearly losing her balance in the process. Eventually, she walked over to the side table and laid down, greeting the visitors with a happy face…and eating more bamboo, of course.

Yang Guang, on the other hand, was sleeping in the mini shed. He was very well hidden and didn’t come out.


Asiatic Lions


Penguins enjoying the sun!

Other highlights include the Asiatic Lions and Penguin Rock.

I would advise buying your tickets online as the queues were quite long when we arrived. Another tip is to go later on in the day – when we walked around in the early morning, many of the animals were not visible yet (because they are sleeping?). You can see more animals from the early afternoon, and there are a lot to see here!