Situated on the undulating valleys of Derbyshire (Dale district of Derbyshire), is a little known gem—Bakewell– quaint little market town, known for its tantalizing walks, cycle paths and mouth-watering puddings. Nestled on River Wye, Bakewell is a firm favourite with adrenaline-junkies, bikers and cyclists as well as poets, lovers, painters, bird-watchers, artists and of course, the true vagabonds.

River Wye

River Wye

As soon as you enter Bakewell, a  rapidly changing skyline welcomes you—undulating valleys, beautiful foliage, old houses turning into small delis, shops and pubs; eye-catching meadows and greenery in various hues teasing your senses. You are likely to feel like walking into a picturesque postcard.

The old bridge

The old bridge

A Vintage Wrangler

A Vintage Wrangler

Bakewell is steeped in history; legend has it that town was probably founded in Anglo-Saxon times. The Bakewell Parish Church, a popular attraction and Grade 1-listed building, is said to have been founded in 920, and has a cross which dates back to 9thcentury – reason enough for its heritage status. The popular Bakewell market was established in 1254, while its five-arched bridge over the River Wye, also Grade 1 listed, was constructed in the 13th century. With so much history around, it is hard not to fall in love with the town.

Bakewell is known as one of the best walking destinations in northern England and it’s an honour not wasted. Wander along the banks of the river Wye littered with snowy winter leaves and aquatic birds happily crackling away on its water, or through the town’s many delis and vintage shops. The melancholy parish church sitting atop the hillside is a breath-taking sight and is a treasure trove of many little wonders: wooden shields, pre-Raphaelite windows, the sanctuary and altar.

It’s only natural that your stomach starts to growl after giving your limbs so much exercise and this is the place for all food lovers – particularly the sweet connoisseurs amongst you. Bakewell is the birthplace of the famous Bakewell pudding. There are many little bakeries all claiming to be the origin of the pudding; ditch the need to find out the truth because all of them are equally good. Also don’t forget to sneak a peek inside the famous Rutland Arms Hotel, where Jane Austen penned her legendary work Pride and Prejudice. Maybe the writer inside you will come alive.

Bakewell has something for everyone. It is a paradise for those who wish to discover vintage charm, eat good food, or simply wander the many cobblestone paths and meditate amidst the valleys and parks.

(There is no direct transportation from London to Bakewell. So, it is advisable to start early. Take an early cross-country train from Kings Cross and head to Sheffield; from here there are plenty of buses heading to Bakewell)

Nostalgia has kicked in and before going on my break, I thought I will do two nostalgia posts. Here, I bring to you my top travels of this year. French writer, Gustav Flaubert, has once said, “Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” This year was all about that realisation and broadening my horizons intellectually and spiritually; something which traveling always teaches me.

Travel and Living

1. Kerala: It is God’s own country after all.

2. Amsterdam: The coolest and the most liberal city I visited this year.

3. Paris: Because Paris is always a good idea.

4. Longleat Safari Park: As I am a through and through nature’s girl.

5. Barcelona: A vibrant city which teaches you the art of doing nothing, enjoying everything and living.

6. Ibiza: Not just a clubbing heaven but pristine beaches, sparkling blue Mediterranean waters and scrumptious food.

7. London: My new work place and perhaps the most pulsating city in the world where you can never get bored.

8. Bombay: Truly a city that never sleeps and as Dorothy said, “there is no place like home.”

9. Oxford: A wonderful walking city and the seat of knowledge and learning.

Hope my next year is also as adventurous as this one and I am able to tick off few more places in my travel bucket list.

Have a great day and wish you all a Happy New Year.

As a style-lover and a compulsive people watcher, I love exploring a city’s markets.

 

The famous London Eye

 London Eye

For me, they are the ultimate representation of a city’s personality. Away from the comforts of fancy ad gimmick and stripped of any artificial airs, markets are where you see the city in its true colours while indulging in some shameless people watching. Exploring a market is not just about shopping it’s about experiencing a city’s raw character, coming in touch with its rugged personality and getting acquainted with its many shades. Markets unlike malls also have uniqueness to them that can never be matched up. Of course, the fashionista in me is always beaming after getting her hands on that one unique piece.

London, as we all know, is one of the best shopping places. Whilst names like Harrods and Selfridges have put London as a shopping paradise for the swish set; there’s definitely more to London’s shopping landscape than the glittery malls. I bring to you three of the best shopping and people watching haunts of London—the Brick Lane Market, the Camden Market and Spitalfields Market.

IMG_0001

 

IMG_0004

 

IMG_0051

Brick Lane Market: A study in culture and contradictions, this market is located on the northern end of Brick Lane along Cheshire Street in East London. In Brick Lane, posh boutiques stand in sharp contrast with rickety stalls selling a plethora of eclectic goods from old books, antique cameras, and vintage clothes to cutesy bric-a-brac. This place is popularized by bargain hunters, art students and curry houses, It’s unpolished, little wild, rough around the edges and definitely unafraid. And true to London’s multicultural fabric, Brick Lane is a place where people from all different cultures, backgrounds come together to clash and cherish. Brick Lane’s vibe can be summed up in two words—wild and eclectic.

Camden Lock

 

Camden Market

 

 

Camden Market

 

Camden Market: One of the oldest markets of London, it has been the home ground for musical legends like Ian Drury and Amy Winehouse. Situated between Camden Town and Chalk farm, the Camden Markets give you a sneak peek to the city’s vibrant street culture. Saunter around its narrow pathways and you will soon realise that this is a place where alternative culture could have born. You will see an array of shops selling everything from Goth, Punk to vintage lifestyles.

 

Via: Wikimedia Commons

Via: Wikimedia Commons

Spitalfield Market: The Old Spitalfield Market (pictured above) located in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets, closest to Liverpool Street tube station, is home to an old-fashioned community of over 30 independent and large traders and a plethora of chic bohemian businesses. The market is a treasure trove of eclectic interiors and design, scrumptious street food and quirky art.Nothing represents the consumer’s diversity and individuality like this market and at the same time it is a cultural and entrepreneurial melting pot.  If you love antiques – especially  Victorian ones then this market should not be missed. But a word of caution: the real antiques market is open only on Thursdays and like every other market in the world, there are numerous vendors who will try to fool you with their “iconic” finds. So have a discerning eye. If you are tired of rummaging through retro finds, then give your taste buds some exercise by digging into some farmers’ cheese and other delicious delights.

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

Credits: Wikimedia Commons

When I first moved to Bombay (Mumbai) as a teenager, I genuinely  felt like Alice in Wonderland. Bombay for me is not just a city. It is  like a person. It makes me happy, it makes me sad, sometimes its sheer apathy has shocked my senses and sometimes it has wrapped me in its comfortable arms and given me hope. I have laughed with its crazy winds and cried when it has been shot and blooded. Often I have wondered if the city famous for its spirit is losing some of its soul too. Today, a friend, traveler and fellow blogger, Rushikesh Kulkarni who blogs here tells you the story of Bombay, a city with many, many shades. 

Marine Drive Credits: Nan Joshi

Marine Drive Credits: Nan Joshi

First there were the islands, then came the colonists who reclaimed land from the sea and the islands became one. The city of Bombay witnessed upheavals throughout her long history. The islands were ruled by powerful rulers belonging to illustrious dynasties. There were the Mauryas, the Chalukyas, the Silharas, and also the Sultanate from Gujarat until the European powers arrived. Portuguese came to Bombay first then arrived the British who received some of the islands in a marriage treaty with the Portuguese. All the remaining islands were soon captured and Bombay’s identity as a important trading centre was established. Incidentally, the city played an important role in the overthrow of the British – from the founding of the Indian National Congress to the Naval Mutiny – Bombay and her residents fought relentlessly for freedom.

A little over a decade later, fresh struggle broke out on the streets resulting into the division of the State of Bombay into Maharashtra and Gujarat. Shiv Sena was born soon after and opposed the influx of migrants from South India (a tactic used to gain sympathy of the locals, to be repeated by MNS an offshoot of the Sena against North Indians years later), the once thriving textile mills went silent and India’s blue collar workers were rendered unemployed, the chawls made way for towers and communal violence broke out. A series of bomb explosions rendered the city silent but terrorism against the city was to continue. Amidst all this, the city was renamed Mumbai and its financial importance grew exponentially.

Credits: Rushikesh Kulkarni

Credits: Rushikesh Kulkarni

Mumbai Skyline. Credits: Rushikesh Kulkarni

Mumbai Skyline. Credits: Rushikesh Kulkarni

For her residents, the mention of Bombay evokes many emotions. It signifies home and each one of them share a unique relationship with her. Most love her and can’t imagine living anywhere else. It doesn’t matter if they live on the pavement or in skyscrapers. Why? You may ask. The city is congested, chaotic, noisy, even hostile at times and everyone seems to be in a perpetual state of hurry. It is is most puzzling really. But still, the lights of the city seem to draw crowds like moths are drawn to a flame. The lit up neighbourhood are symbolic of the pulsating nature of the city nights. If you knew where to look, you’d find what you are looking for at anytime of the day. Cryptic as it may sound, Bombay provides for all your needs. Her capacity to momentarily satiate human greed is remarkable and if you are a hedonist, you couldn’t have wished for more. If you have a dream and the will, Bombay almost assures success. The rags to riches story can be heard in everyone of her bylanes. And as they say – work hard in the city and you will never go to sleep hungry.

Way back in 1956,  a movie named C.I.D was released, a very popular song from that film spoke of the way of life in Bombay. Strangely, all these years later Yeh Hain Bombay, Meri Jaan  (This is Bombay, my love) continues to be the most accurate song to describe the city and her denizens. Fast paced, nimble footed, moving swiftly one station at a time – the people of Bombay won’t surprise you, they will shock you. From casual indifference to overt concern they may seem helpful and hostile at the same time. Time is paramount to them and distances are calculated in minutes rather than kilometers. They are accommodating and will adjust-a-little to squeeze in more people in small spaces including railways compartments, auto rickshaws, elevators, and even bus stops on a rainy day. They have a distinct dialect which encompasses words from Hindi, Marathi, English and to a certain extent Gujurati to form a unique tongue; indecipherable to outsiders.

Streets of Mumbai by Rushikesh Kulkarni

Streets of Mumbai by Rushikesh Kulkarni

But as it is with any other city, the migrants add a new dimension to the overall population. A large number of migrants belonging to every strata of the society have altered the nature of the city. Most old residents reminisce fondly of the times when the city was much more liberal, open minded and friendly to people of all backgrounds. Ghetto-isation is much more pronounced with people belonging to minorities opting to live among their brethren as many housing societies follow absurd rules banning non-vegetarians or minorities from taking up residence. There are increased number of instances of sexual harassment towards women and this has led many to question the very safety once provided by the city to its female residents. The institutions that held the city together and provided her with the distinct identity through their yeoman service also show signs of tiredness and inefficiency. Whether it is the impersonal attitude towards the city of the new migrants or the weakening of the emotional bond of the citizens that they shared with her historically, it is difficult to tell. In pursuit of making ends meet and satisfying growing needs, one may have lost sight of what is more important.

Mumbai Local by Rushikesh Kulkarni

Mumbai Local by Rushikesh Kulkarni

Marine Drive by Me

Marine Drive by Me

As this untamed tsunami of change sweeps over the city, the cool breeze, an unrestricted sea view and the solitude at Marine Drive remain untouched. The monsoon continues to be dramatic and washes the city clean. The Gothic architecture mingles with the new age steel and glass comfortably, retaining its old world appeal that charms passersby. The sev-puri ( street food delicacy) remains symbolic of the varied emotions one feels towards the city while the Bombay Duck (deep fried and served crisp) makes this world a better place. Sitting on the steps of Asiatic Library, many watch the world rush past them while film stars add glamour to the island city; as each day future Shah Rukh Khans arrive at Victoria Terminal railway station, with a dream of making it big in Bollywood. Each afternoon a man enjoys home cooked lunch delivered by a Dabbawallah (complete with the Gandhi topi; Prince Charles was so impressed by them when he visited the city in 2004 he invited them for his wedding with Camilla Parker) as the Coppersmith Barbet keeps calling out to no one in particular. A couple steals a moment of privacy in an autorickshaw while a hijra winks flirtatiously at a young labourer from Jharkhand (in Eastern India). And as I stand on the footboard of a Churchgate bound fast local, the wind smothering my face, listening to the rhythmic noise of its wheels in motion, watching the city zip past me, inside the crowded compartment a man asks the passengers to adjust-a-little to conjure up the fourth seat for him.

That my love, is Bombay for you. Yeh hai Bombay Meri Jaan.

 

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral

 

With an imposing Cathedral on one side and an idyllic town on the other, Winchester Christmas Market looks like a film set all set for a Christmas magic. It is not a film set but it certainly sets the scene for a winter wonderland. Founded in 2006, the Christmas market boasts of being one of the best Christmas markets in the UK. It’s neither the oldest nor the biggest but it definitely sets the pace with its merry, yuletide atmosphere.

Take a walk down narrow cobbled roads and past the velvety gardens of the Cathedral and you will a see a scene straight out of a post card. There are around 100 little shops set in pretty wooden chalets whilst the lofty Gothic structure gives a stunning backdrop. Situated in the heart of Cathedral’s historic Inner Close and surrounded by an open-air real ice rink, the Winchester Christmas Market is reminiscent of ancient European markets.

wintry wonderland

 

The concept of Christmas markets goes back to the Late Middle Ages in the German speaking part of Europe. The first Christmas Market was held in 1434 and was known as the Dresden Christmas Market. Since then, Christmas Markets became a significant tradition, it is essentially a street market associated with the celebration of Christmas during the four weeks of Advent.

traditional food stall

traditional food stall

Lovely Stocking fillers

Lovely Stocking fillers

The Winchester Christmas Market is one of loveliest Markets which offers a plethora of Christmas art, crafts and food. While you are here, don’t forget to warm yourself with a soothing cup of mulled wine or dig into some scrumptious mince pies. There’s plenty to take home too, this year the market features some of the finest British craftsmen and women offering unique jewels, paintings, textile art, glass painting and stuffed toys. Filing up the stocking never seemed this easy!

Scenes from nativity, a dazzling tree, sparkly rides and a chance to meet Father Christmas will definitely keep the little ones happy. What’s more? The whole thing builds up to a festive climax with the wonderful Christmas Eve carol concert in Winchester Cathedral.