About Sasha H
Lives in Healey, United Kingdom
Since Jan 2015
I’ve swum with wild dolphins in the Maldives, fed baby kangaroos in Australia, spent hours in the shopping malls of Dubai and crash-landed a hot-air balloon in Poland – having spent the last decade travelling and freelancing, I am a joyful, nosy traveller, always meeting new experiences head on. I enjoy digging into the culture, listening to what’s happening around me and taking thousands of photos on the way. Thanks to two decades of travelling extensively through Europe, the Middle and Far East and the Caribbean, I know the cities and countries I write about inside out. And even though I live in the Yorkshire Dales – surely the most beautiful place on earth – I never lose my enthusiasm for skiing in Zermatt, visiting my favourite cities in Italy and Poland or discovering new places to shop in Dubai.
Performances, Points of Interest & Landmarks
Bars & Clubs
Step back in time to enjoy that most English of institutions – the afternoon tea – in the most English of surroundings: Blackpool Tower Ballroom. This spectacular red velvet and ornately gilt dance hall is famous the world over for its legendary Wurlitzer organ. Pass a sweetly sentimental afternoon, accompanied by neat cucumber sandwiches, cream-filled scones, and delicious pastries - as well as endless cups of tea - while watching couples swirling around the dance floor to show-time dance tunes from yesteryear. And if you want to show off your sharp footwork, just get up and join in!
Part of the ongoing Blackpool foodie revolution, Toast is a cool, newly designed café, with bare brick and stripped pine décor, knowledgeable - and smiley - service, and a thrumming cocktail bar. With a fast turnover of stuffed baguettes, burgers, and pizza during the day, the restaurant turns serious in the evening with internationally influenced dishes, featuring anything from tapas to fresh mussels or risotto, all freshly cooked to order from local ingredients.
Decked out in bright reds and cozy greens, and voted among the top three Chinese restaurants in the UK for 2014 by tripadvisor users, Michael Wan’s Mandarin is fast approaching its 55th year. Along with all the usual suspects - chow mein and crispy duck - are some unusual dishes such as spicy nasi goreng pork noodles from Indonesia, Cantonese fish and tofu stew, and shared multi-course banquets which are excellent value and all cooked without MSG. Unusually for a Chinese restaurant, Mandarin also has a decent list of European and New World wines.
It is almost compulsory that a visit to an English seaside resort include ice cream - and Blackpool’s oldest vendor has been going strong for nearly 90 years. Notarianni is a retro-style gelateria owned by the Italian Vettese family since 1928. The USP is a simply delicious vanilla - the recipe is so secret that the family are reputed to have turned down £1 million for it - which is made daily, and comes in either cones or calorific family favorites such as towering Knickerbocker Glories and banana splits. On hot days, lines outside Notarianni wind their way down the street; eat out on the beach or sit in the simple little café.
The cream of the many, many pubs scattered around Blackpool’s seafront, the Mitre is a little gem, rightly popular for its welcoming embrace and spotless bar. Smartly kitted out with a sprightly red and blue Victorian façade, it’s just off the Prom and is the haunt of many a local drinker as well as visitors, making for raucous, laughter-filled late-night karaoke and sing-alongs to 1950s crooners on the jukebox. A well-tended and well-poured pint of ale adds to the fun, as well as a long list of spirits and wines. Simple dishes are served including roasts, burgers, and sarnies (sandwiches), but 'the crack' is really the major attraction here.
Leading Blackpool’s burgeoning fine-dinning scene for the last decade or so, Kwizeen is overseen by Catalan chef Marco Calle-Calatayud, who takes Lancashire ingredients such as crumbly cheese or shellfish from Morecambe Bay, and makes them sing. Don’t be put off by the unassuming frontage; once inside all is as it should be, with stripped wooden floors and warm colours. The cooking is consistent and innovative without being too clever-clogs, with menus changing every few weeks, incorporating the best of local produce, from black pudding to crayfish, according to the season. Kwizeen also has a well-priced wine list featuring several unusual Spanish wines, and even champagne by the glass.
No list of Blackpool eateries would stand up for scrutiny without including a good old chippy, and they don’t come any better than The Cottage. Both a takeaway and restaurant, it is housed in a historic, whitewashed house built in the 1850s, and has been a family-owned business since 1920. All of the battered fish served is from sustainable sources, and with the exception of the haddock (which arrives fresh from Aberdeen daily), all are sourced from Fleetwood Fish Market nearby. Apart from the statutory mound of chips, accompaniments are minimal, but still include the traditional side dishes of mushy peas or curry sauce.
Standing by a river in the countryside, just inland from Blackpool, the Cartford was built in the 17th century as a coaching inn, and is an increasingly rare find: a proper English pub with open fires and an equally toasty welcome. Thanks to its watery setting and gastronomic reputation, the Cartford is increasingly popular, so book ahead to be sure of a table for the evening. Along with a delicate seasonal menu of Fleetwood fish, meats sourced from local farmers, and dainty desserts, the pub also serves local boutique beers and fine wines.