The month that was: October

What happened:
October started with a cold, which I had on and off for the first two weeks of the month. Thanks for that body! Hopefully it will be the last cold I have for the rest of the year but, since I also headed back to Notting Hill to do some consultancy work, I have a feeling that the Tube germs may catch up with me. Boooooooo!

I'm enjoying some autumnal walks in Kensington Gardens/Hyde Park on my lunch breaks though, and it's nice to be earning some pennies. In an ideal world Found would be out this year, but I will get it out as soon as I can next year, and I'm going to be so much better at using my non-working time next year to get more books out. (Though writing, of course, is still hard work!) I did commission the cover though, and I'll be sharing that next month.

My family visited from Yorkshire, which meant tourist time. This included doing the Tower Bridge Exhibition - there's a glass floor so you can walk over the Thames, as well as finding out how the bridge was built and works/used to work - and mooching around Battersea Children's Zoo.

We also went to King's Cross train station so they could pretend to go through the wall of Platform Nine and Three Quarters - I'm quite sad that I didn't get the chance to pretend myself, though I did buy an awesome Gryffindor mug from the shop. I also booked tickets for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child... in April 2017. Someone remind me to go!

What I ate:
We ate out at Wahaca, Jackson + Rye (bottom left) and Sticky Fingers, and grabbed a quick lunch at the Real Food Market by the Southbank Centre and Chilango. We also gave Fish, Wings and Tings (bottom right) a go at Brixton Village as we've never actually eaten Jamaican food in Brixton - a travesty! Jamaican food will never be my favourite cuisine, but it was nice food.

We also headed out two Saturday afternoons for drinks in Upper Street and Soho, respectively, which is something we don't do often enough. I absolutely love Upper Street, and really should go there more often!

What I watched:
We watched season 5 and season 6 of Nurse Jackie, then dipped our toes into a few new shows - we haven't found one to continue watching yet. At the cinema we went to see The Martian: I absolutely loved the book when I read it earlier this year, and I now love the movie. We also went to see Spectre. I didn't like it as much as I hoped I would, though I do now want to go to Mexico City for Day of the Dead!

Other films watched: Horrible Bosses, Horrible Bosses II, Trading Places, The Drop, The Interview, The Gambler, Mad Max: Fury Road, Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall, Cocktail, The Judge, The Fifth Element, Bad Boys, Back to the Future II, The Love Guru, The Hundred-Foot Journey, Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life, Ghostbusters and Birdman.

What I read: 
In October I read 19 books. I loved Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas the most, and I also enjoyed rereading the first three books in The Estate Series by Mel Sherratt, ahead of reading Mel's latest book in that series.

I have to mention the two books that I bought in hardback in October: the beautiful illustrated version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, as well as Bill Bryson's The Road to Little Dribbling. I've been a massive Bill Bryson fan since I was a teenager and I, obviously, loved his latest book.

How was your month? x

Santorini: The best of the rest

There are lots of restaurants to choose from in Fira and Firostefani, though the choices are limited to almost exclusively Greek food. Understandable, but after ten days we were craving other cuisines. Italian is probably the second most popular restaurant type, and we did have a nice Italian dinner at Da Vinci and a cheap and cheerful lunch at Il Cantuccio (both in Firostefani).

I am now a massive fan of gyros (top left), souvlaki (top right),and fava, though I didn't understand the appeal of the Santorini tomato balls when I tried them - the ones I had were far too doughy/stodgy. Gyros though I can totally get behind! It's basically meat, red onion, tomatoes, chips and sauce served in a pita, though this varies slightly from place to place. Why Not! Souvlaki in Firostefani was our favourite place for a quick and tasty gyros lunch, and I can also recommend Meat Corner in Fira.

Mama Thira is the place to go for souvlaki - I had it there twice and it was beautifully tasty both times - and I had the best fava at Rastoni (Fira). It came with smoked almonds and roast Apaki pork, though I'd give Rastoni a miss and have tasty fava from Pirouni (Firostefani) instead. Pirouni offers massive portions - you could quite easily share a main, even if you're super greedy - a great view of the sunset, plus the staff were lovely. Aktaion is another nice little Firostefani restaurant. As for Fira, try Naoussa - their pork in Santorini sauce was so yummy. We also ate at Vanilia (Firostefani) and Fanari (Fira), which were nice enough.

Two courses each, a bottle of wine and water at most restaurants cost between €65-100, and you usually get given a free dessert or shot - we found that the restaurants in Fira are slightly more expensive than Firostefani, and slightly less tasty. If you want to have cocktails in Fira, we liked V Lounge.

Speaking of drinks, we took a trip one evening to the Artemis Karamolegos Winery, where you'll also find the #1 rated restaurant in all of Santorini (as voted on TripAdvisor in September 2015): Aroma Avlis. Although we didn't have a tour, we did do a wine tasting session and tried six different glasses of their wine for €8 each. Our favourite was the Nykteri, though I really liked the dessert wine: Vinsanto.

Another popular drink on the island is Yellow Donkey (the Santorini Brewing Company also do Red Donkey and Crazy Donkey), which Olly loved. As for Aroma Avlis, the food was delicious and ridiculously cheap - definitely get the Santorini sausage starter - and I'd highly recommend that you visit both the winery and the restaurant.

As for what else you can do in Santorini if you're not feeling lazy like we were - lots! One option is to rent a scooter, quad bike or hire car to take yourself off around the island, as taking taxis all the time will get quite expensive. For reference, a taxi from the airport to Firostefani will cost €20-25, and that's only a distance of 3 miles. Another option is using the local buses, which we used to get to Oia and back.

Visit the beaches and take in the difference colours - you'll find black, red and white beaches in Santorini. Other sights include:
  • The Prophet Elias Monastery - the highest point on Santorini
  • Akrotiri - the Minoan settlement preserved by the volcanic eruption 3,500 years ago
  • Mesa Gonia - a village that was deserted after the earthquake in 1956
You can also take a full-day boat trip that covers the volcano and hot springs, like we went to, but then goes to Thirasia, the other inhabited island in Santorini, and finishes in Oia.

That's it for my Santorini adventures, other than to say you can fly direct from London to the island in under four hours, and I'm sure we'll be doing that again at some point in the future! What do you think to what you've seen of Santorini? Have you been? x


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