Pick & Cheese!

Lauren

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren

Pick & Cheese Experience

We made it to the new “Pick & Cheese” conveyer belt Cheese Bar (the world’s first!) in London. We had seen a video about it floating around on Facebook for a bit, and we were thrilled to be able to try it firsthand! We only had to wait a few minutes for 2 seats in the early afternoon, and it’s all bar seating except for 2 booths (within Seven Dials Market, a beautifully renovated West End banana warehouse circa 1902).

The concept is simple and amazing: just like conveyer belt sushi joints, there are domed plates of cheese on color-coded plates (based on price) and you snag whatever looks good to you! You can follow along on the numbered menu which describes the cheese, origin, and accompanying condiment. What amazed us both was the pairings. Some were delightful (the Shropshire blue on a chocolate cookie), some were deliciously clever (the honeyed garlic paste with a soft-ripened cow milk), and one was downright transformative (the earl grey tea jelly transmuted the extraordinary pungency of the washed rind “Renegade Monk” cheese). I paired it with 2 glasses of ice cold Cava and we topped it all off with a well-decorated soft serve blue cheese ice cream.

I’ve combined our own photos with the menu descriptions in this album. You can see the official Cheese Bar website at www.thecheesebar.com/seven-dials for the full menu. Once you see it in practice, it’s kinda obvious what a genius idea it is and you’re kicking yourself for not having it first! But we’re so happy The Cheese Bar brought it into the world & we highly recommend it for London-bound cheese lovers.

Treat, Spay, Love: Volunteering with Street Dogs in Ladakh 2019

Treat, Spay, Love: Volunteering with Street Dogs in Ladakh 2019

Lauren

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren

Treat, Spay, Love: Volunteering with Street Dogs in Ladakh 2019

For years we’ve wanted to combine our passion for empowering people to travel with our love of helping street dogs. That dream became a reality with our inaugural “Treat, Spay, Love” journey to Ladakh, on the Tibetan Plateau in India. Six volunteers, including three veterinarians, joined us at our home base of Thiksey Monastery the last week of May 2019 in order to enjoy the sights and also offer their time, care, and expertise.

We focused on the street dog population around Thiksey Monastery, as the Thiksey Rinpoche asked for our help in controlling the dog population. In conjunction with Live to Rescue and the municipality of Leh, our volunteer vets (and an amazing Ladakhi team!) captured and sterilized 13 dogs in one afternoon [Update: two more adult females were spayed in July 2019, and one dog underwent four weekly IV chemotherapy treatments for a tumor!]  Nine puppies stayed at at Live to Rescue’s shelter facility near the village of Nang, and four sterilized adult females were returned to their usual spots around Thiksey. It’s important to return healthy, vaccinated, sterilized dogs to their home territory to prevent a ‘vacuum,’ allowing unknown dogs to take over the area. We hit the jackpot with the six amazing individuals who signed up or this journey!

Every person contributed in a *big* way. Wendi’s magical surgical hands (and her ability to withstand our constant praise without letting it get to her head 😉 Alicia’s savviness with the Big Picture was invaluable, and her compassionate services as a vet and a friend were priceless. Sarah’s pragmatism, adaptability, and rich veterinary experience served as a steadying force during our journey. Trish’s dedication to feeding the dogs was a true joy to witness, as I have finally found my partner in crime in stealing leftovers (or literally taking food off of people’s plates!) Helen’s love for the dogs overflowed and manifested into different roles, from post-op recovery room nurse to special delivery of peanut butter toast to her special pups. And Monica’s talent as the Puppy Whisperer was undeniable and inspiring; in fact, Monica brought a “+1” back home with her—a lucky puppy (named Norbu) from the Nang rescue facility now lives in Canada! [Update #2: Colin, a relentlessly cute street dog that appeared at Thiksey in June, was adopted by our Ladakhi friend and pillar of the community, Dr. Sonam Wangchok. Lucky boy!!]

Even more encouraging, neighbors in Thiksey Village approached us, asking how to get their own pet dogs sterilized. Our good friend Sagar helped arrange a pick-up (while we were gone on tour a few hours away!) and now 6 more neighborhood dogs have been sterilized! We hope to get in at least one more pick up and sterilization for some remaining puppies & mamas before we depart Ladakh in mid-July.

Ladakhi dogs are tough, resilient, and can be endlessly sweet. They deserve a shot at living their best life, especially through the unbelievably harsh winters here at 11,000 feet in the Himalayas. I know many of our guests who hadn’t interacted much with street dogs before were fascinated by the intricate society that the dogs create independently–they choose who to spend time with, where to roam & sleep, and their personalities are *quite* distinct. We wish nothing but health and happiness to our Ladakhi dogs, the Ladakhi community, and our awe-inspiring team of volunteers!

Stay tuned for more information about Live to Rescue and any future Treat, Spay, Love journeys. To learn more about Live to Rescue, please see our TreatSpayLove.com website; there is also a PayPal donate button there, while Live to Rescue is setting up their own PayPal (and the amazing Trish is making their website!)

Photos from our 2019 Mongolian itinerary research

Photos from our 2019 Mongolian itinerary research

Lauren

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren

2019 Mongolia Research Trip

Enjoy some scenes from our Summer 2019 trip to Mongolia. There’s SO much to see and do here, it’s going to be difficult to whittle down the amazingness into a few brilliant itineraries!

Egypt 2019 Photo Album

Egypt 2019 Photo Album

Lauren

Co-pilot at RetreaTours
"I'd rather be feeding street dogs."
I'm looking forward to our 2020 Around the World journey, especially returning to Petra!
Lauren

Egypt 2019 Photo Album

Please enjoy a selection of our photos from our two Egyptian tours of Spring 2019! You can hover over the photos for the caption.