Friday, February 5, 2016

A Little Bit of Chocolate Heaven

So you walk around a few little side streets in Central London, and you come across a little, rather unassuming corner store. But when you step inside, you see this:

And one more thing... it's all chocolate.

Welcome to Choccywoccydoodah!

A magnificence of chocolate!
I had never heard of this place until a year or two ago when my sister ordered a birthday cake for my niece. She sent me the link to something so decadently chocolatey and elaborate, I nearly drooled over my keyboard.

It seems the business is based in Brighton, but they also have a small shop/cafe in London. I could tell you about them but honestly, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. This isn't a simple piece of molded chocolate; this is pure art.

We stopped off at the London store while we were in town to see Les Mis. And since we had an hour or two before the show, what better place for lunch. We made our way upstairs to the cafe area, fortunately beating the crowd. Within half an hour there was a line up the stairs and a rope was in place to prevent more gathering.

Now let's make one thing clear, when I say lunch. This place is a mecca of chocolate. Do not, as one unsuspecting gent did, make the mistake of asking if there are salads or sandwiches served. Are they made of chocolate? Of course not.

The menu consists of various types of hot chocolate, all made with pure creamy ... you guessed it. There are also shakes, sundaes, dipping pots, and cake. Make no mistake - we were there for the cake!

Each of us enjoyed a mug of chocolatey goodness, piled high with cream and marshmallows. But then we had to choose our cake. So many triple-layered choices all laid out on the table. I went for an amaretto sponge with praline truffle filling; my sister chose the lemon champagne; my niece the triple chocolate, and my mum... by this point I was in a sweet-induced coma of happiness and so I don't remember what she ordered. Rum and raisin! She had rum and raisin chocolate cake!

All I can say is: the cake was beyond delicious. And it was a good thing we had a bit of a walk to the theatre, to burn off a few of those calories and to make sure we didn't fall into a delicious doze. I will say nothing more but leave you with pictures.

Just a few of the choices - can I have one of everything?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Reculver and Wantsum

Reculver against a winter sky

If you happen to find yourself visiting Kent and driving down the Thanet Way, you may find yourself glancing across to the sea and wondering about that old tower you see. The one that looks like the remains of something once much larger.

What you are seeing is the Reculver Towers, and they have been part of the Kent landscape since Roman times. Now maintained by English Heritage, Reculver Towers have a long history, dating back to the days when the Isle of Thanet was indeed an island.

Centuries ago, the land that is now occupied by Ramsgate, Margate, and Broadstairs, was separated from the English mainland by the Wantsum Channel.

The Romans built two forts to guard against Saxon raids: one at Reculver and one at the other end of the seaway in Richborough. Many years later, in the 7th century, the site became a monastery, part of St. Augustine's mission to bring Christianity to the British Isles.

The land seen here to the right beyond the ruins was once an ancient seaway.
Map showing the old Wantsum Channel

By the 12th century, the Wantsum Channel was starting to silt. Boat traffic lessened because of the difficulty in navigating what was becoming marshland. Also at this time, the towers were repurposed again, becoming a church for the people of Reculver.

Fast forward another 400 years, and what was left of the Wantsum was drained and turned into farmland. Ramsgate and Margate were now part of the mainland. All that remains of the waterway now is a narrow river. But the towers at Reculver still stand tall on the landscape, accompanied by headstones and graves from the 1700s, when it was still a parish church.

Reculver is open to visitors free of charge and is a popular Sunday afternoon walk destination.