When I tell people in twenty eighteen that I met some of my closest friends on the internet, I still get weird looks. I just don’t think people quite understand the extent of how it can bring people close together. From day to day casual tweeting, interacting with each other over Instagram and having WhatsApp groups discussing everything under the sun, it’s possible to bring five unique individuals together. I guess we all have something in common, our love to travel and eat then blog about it too, but that doesn’t always mean you necessarily become the best of friends. Luckily in our case, the latter doesn’t apply.
For the past couple of years, our beloved Polly has been coming back to England from Doha to visit her family, but she never leaves without stopping by London to see her favourite people. I think this is our third or fourth get together after meeting at The Ivy in Kensington since August 2016.
When Polly visited most recently in Christmas, I was away on my three and a half week travels to India and the Middle East. I was super worried that I wasn’t going to get a chance to see Polly before she flew back to Doha. Alas, we managed to squeeze in a day that all 5 us could do which happened to be a couple of days before she flew.
Breaking up our usual traditions, Binny, Angie, Emma and I hopped on a train from London Paddington to Stroud to meet our ray of sunshine, along with her baby ray Sophia. The last time we all were at Paddington was for my birthday surprise organised by the girls to Bovey Castle.
Polly’s father doesn’t live to far from Stroud and suggested we have lunch at The Gumstool Inn at the stunning countryside hotel, Calcot Manor. Polly and her father greeted us on the flip side, with many excited and long embracing hugs before we were kindly cruised to Calcot Manor.
Settling at our table, we ordered a round of white wine and toasted to our reunion. It felt so good to be back together again!
My favourite things about these country style restaurants is they all have all your hearty favourites, including baked camembert. I’m a huge fan of camembert and since i’m unable to successfully bake it at home, I have to wait for moments like this to indulge. Polly and I shared one, as did Binny and Emma. Angie went for the butternut squash soup with onion bhajis, which I forgot to snap because I was too bust eyeing up the cheesey goodness.
For our mains, Binny and I both ordered the truffled chicken kiev with mushrooms, parsley mash and green beans. I couldn’t quite believe how big the portion was, so very generous!
Emma and Polly ordered the delicious looking duck ragu, cep and truffle lasagne served in a lovely black ceramic pan.
Angie ordered the Cornish hake with aubergine caponata, cavolo nero, anchovy and fennel butter. Yuuuuum!
Even the kids menu was super extensive, complete with little Sophia’s own plastic cutlery. It was so nice to see a hotel restaurant tailoring to children so well, hands off to you Calcot Manor. Polly ordered the fish and chips for Sophia, which she seemed to enjoy a lot.
You would think we wouldn’t have space for dessert would you? I think we’re at that point where you can’t underestimate the eating power of food bloggers.
I think we were all a bit in denial about Christmas and New Years being over that it felt right just to have some last indulgent day before reality hit and we had to go back to the usual grind of light eats and lots of exercise. There was only two ways about doing dessert here, either you’re a sticky toffee pudding person or a crème brûlée person. I’m definitely the latter, a die hard crème brûlée fan.
It seemed even Sophia enjoyed the sticky toffee pudding!
After a three course lunch and a few glasses of wine, it only felt right to soak up some of the fresh country air around the grounds of Calcot Manor and giving Sophia one last chance to play in the muddy puddles before she fell asleep in the buggy.
We took the opportunity to get a quick coffee in and a intense catch up whilst the little one was asleep. Before we said our goodbyes with lots of hugs with ‘uncle Abab’ and group photos. Time with these ladies always flies by and it never feels like we have enough time together. Nonetheless, it was short and sweet.
Here’s to popping over to Polly’s side of the world next time? Do I hear a #BloggersOnTour trip to Doha? 😉
Until next time…