I have been spoiled. Estonia wasn't necessarily somewhere that I would have chosen to visit, but when my Mother in law Judith suggested a long weekend away there earlier this year I though why not! Little did I know that our "little weekend away" would be quite so magnificent! To start with it is a truly beautiful country and both Tallinn and Muhu, where we spent most of our time, are very impressive in completely different ways. Tallinn was this years European city of culture, so it was super sparkly, but I was still surprised at how cosmopolitan it was and how much it had to offer in terms of interesting things to do and see, so much so that in the three days we were there we barely scratched the surface! I can recommend the Kumu art museum in particular, it is spectacular. Our second destination, Muhu, is a tiny Island off the west coast of Estonia in the Baltic - we stayed at an amazing spa hotel which was simply breathtaking, but this really is a special occasion place, Judith (my MIL) had read about it a couple of years ago and had been keen to visit ever since, I am so glad that I got the chance to go with her! Luxurious doesn't really begin to describe Padaste Manor, it is a unique hotel where every little thing has been carefully considered with your utmost comfort in mind, rooms are equiped with ipads, ipods, Molton Brown products, linen robes and a mini bar which takes your breath away! Handmade cookies also appear at bedtime....
Nice to see that the pilots were on board...
Judith checking out the local fashions in Tallinn - they are into feltmaking it would seem!
Stripes were also a recurrent theme!
Museums about the joys of marzipan - yes really, shrek and Bob - all out of marzipan!
Jelly fish cruising in the harbour - there were hundreds of them.
Museum of architecture - all of our 3D students could learn a thing or two here on impressive model making.
These chimneys are everywhere - don't make the mistake of using them as landmarks like we did at first - it gets confusing!
The flower market - dahlias the size of dinner plates.
It gets cold in the winter so knowing how to knit is crucial! failing that, you can pick up some great knitwear in the street markets - I got some amazing hand knitted socks - well it gets cold in worldham!
The old city walls can be walked along and they have steep towers at the ends, some have surprises in them which are quite incongruous with their surroundings like these mad veggie stools!
And then other times they are just as you might expect!
Judith taking in the view.
An impromptu exhibition in a tower!
Tallinn roof tops.
Just liked them!
As it was the city of culture, many of the wonderful artist studios were open to explore, this one belonged to a great ceramicist.
There are lots of great cafes pitched in with the studios - I am so glad that I don't work anywhere near a groovy little place that serves up a hot chocolate like this!
Along with the hot chocolate you could get artisan chocolates and a drop of the local liqueur, not a bad way to pass away the day!
Another potter's studio.
These big fat concrete birds guard the city well!
Shots in glasses made of ice was our hotel bar's speciality - would have been rude not to!
Elk soup - I had promised Ivan (Mr Bicknell) not to let Judith (MIL) eat anything strange, well I fell at the first hurdle when she absolutely insisted on going to the town hall and trying the elk soup - oh yes, I did say elk....
All served by the traditional wench!
Kumu - brilliant building and brilliant art!
This room was incredible - filled with busts made from all sorts of media, from all sorts of eras on all sorts of scales, beautifully curated - set off by mumbling audio recordings - Kumu is worth it just for this!
Gateways exhibit - exploring various forms of digital media - I loved it!
At 6:00 p.m. on February 4, 2011, Maya Brush, a 'Homo Virtualis', a virtual model developed over the past three years by the German artist Kirsten Geisler. was born . Maya, a pure virtual sculpture entered at that moment the real world for the first time. Her virtual birth has been announced here. More importantly though, since her birth, Maya can be reached and communicated to via her facebook page: Her real artistic journey just began, exactly when she entered the real world. Maya has already bookings scheduled with fashion photographers Peter Lindbergh and Karl Lagerfeld.
This is impressive!
This is impressive!
This machine will scan your passport and among other things, find your bank account number and tell you how long you are going to live for! I felt sorry for the bloke in front of me who only had 6 more years left to go - needless to say that I passed on the experience!
This piece explored the reach our mobile phone networks had among other things.
I'm afraid that I didn't read about this one - but I liked it!
words formed momentarily in tiny droplets of water - took me ages to capture this pic!
Judith (MIL) leaving her mark!
The Butterfly Lounge - recommended by the lovely Sadie Amy Chesterman Bailey - we saw, we drank frozen margaritas and we loved it!
Their very own Tom Cruise is also a bit of an award winner!!
Padaste Manor - http://www.padaste.ee/
Oh I love to pop a Fushia bud - not many escaped me!
Padaste away with you, and once you taste the food - you really want to!
Out and about on the island - St Catherines church
There was a small ocal art exhibit in Kugova - the actual whole paintings weren't up to much, but there were some nice details.....
I have no idea who this is, but I did notice a cast of him in Kumu - those glasses need new lenses!
Back to the hotel and a sea water hot tub in the bay!
There was also an AMAZING spa - I had a mud wrap and a facial - clearly this is not me below - but it was a bit like this! The only downside was that there were no female therapists that day and I ended up with a rather serious Russian man who spent a substantial amount of time rubbing wet mud into my naked body - I just closed my eyes and thought of England! Dimitri also did my facial and proved himself to be Estonia's premier therapist - lucky me!!
Much of the menu at Padaste manor is home grown - oh, did I mention the food? No? Well, hold tight....
The reception at padaste handily doubles up as the bar!
Remoulade and homemade crackers made form leek ash and home grown hazelnuts.
Breads and oils
Tomato consume with tomato mousse and crisps
Eel terrine - I know - but surprisingly nice!
Judith marvelling at the palette cleansing sorbet "snow" made from the sap of spruce trees!
Seared scallops on a bed of cauliflower risotto
Duck with petit pans and squash puree
Blueberry posset with sorrel ice cream
Nests conatining blueberry cake eggs!
All served in the winter garden!
Kristel, our very charming and knowledgable waitress
Breakfast al fresco if you so desired
Who needs a full English?!