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Travel

Travelling – Being The One Left Behind

March 20, 2017

Travelling is amazing but have you ever thought about how the people you left behind are feeling?

I’ve left home twice for long term travel and although I miss my family and friends back home, it’s hard to truly empathise with them when you’re living in your backpacker bubble. Last month, for the first time, I was the one left at home. I drove my Mum and Stepdad to Heathrow and watched them disappear in to the Departures Lounge. And it was hard. Much harder than I expected.

I wasn’t sure if I would cry but when I hugged my Mum goodbye, the tears were flowing so fast I could barely speak. Don’t get me wrong. I was excited for them to have this experience but I love having my family close to me. I know the world is a small place now but at that moment in the airport, I felt lost.

It’s a mixture of emotions. Jealousy, sadness, happiness. I would give anything to go on a long trip again. I almost think it’s harder when you know what they’re going to experience. I have so many happy memories of my trips and it’s incredible that my Mum and Stepdad are going to create these memories for themselves.

I’ve always suffered from fear of missing out. When I was away I felt sad that I was missing huge milestones in my friends’ lives. Now I’m home, I’m jealous of people who are still living that backpacker life. I want the best of both worlds. Is there such a thing?

Relationships change with distance. Life moves on.

Maybe I’m scared of how this relationship will change. I know things were different with my friends when I came home. Different isn’t necessarily a bad thing but it can be weird.

A month after that emotional goodbye in the airport and my life has continued as normal. I’m incredibly envious of the photos of their trip and being facetimed from New Zealand was amazing. I’ve had a couple of moments when I’ve forgotten that my Mum isn’t just a few miles away and then had that sinking feeling that I can’t just pop round and see her. Hopefully Stu and I will be able to see them at some point on their trip but we have nothing booked yet.

I know understand how my family felt when I was away and it’s hard to miss someone yet be filled with happiness that they’re seeing the world. Why can’t we all just travel constantly and meet up in exotic locations?

This has become a bit of a waffle but I hope I’ve managed to articulate my feelings. If you’d like to read about my Mum and Stepdad’s adventures then have a read of their travel blog here.

Europe, Travel, UK

Exploring Brighton

March 6, 2017

Last weekend, Stu and I booked a half day at work on the Friday and then drove down to Brighton for the weekend to spend some time with friends we met in Australia. Time as always has flown by and it’s been a year since they came and stayed with us in Bristol. I have no idea why it’s always so hard to meet up with people. Why is everyone (including me) so busy?!


Brighton is one of the places in the UK that I’ve always wanted to visit but never had an excuse to go before. Growing up, Brighton was very most associated with being the gay capital of the UK but I think people now appreciate what a cool city it is rather than only thinking about the people that live there. That’s definitely been helped by the huge blogger and youtuber presence in the city.

We booked in to an Airbnb for the weekend which we mainly picked because it had a parking space and we’d been warned that parking can be a nightmare in Brighton. It was a cute little bungalow which was perfect for us to use as a base whilst exploring the city. We were probably a 10 minute drive from the centre but on a bus route and Brighton now has Uber so it was really handy for us.


Brighton definitely has two sides to it. You’ve got the typical British seaside resort with the Pier and your fish and chip shops and then you’ve got all the quirky bars and restaurants and the vintage shops which line the Laines. I loved exploring the Laines. It’s got a similar sort of atmosphere to Camden and it’s packed full of people who look far too cool for me. I’d love to wear all vintage clothes but I get sucked in by the high street and end up wearing your standard fashions rather than anything unusual.



Brighton Pier is like any other Pier you’ve visited, it’s a complete contrast from the Laines but it’s good fun if you take it for what it is. Expect penny slot machines, candy floss and plenty of fish and chips. Storm Doris was still kicking around when we walked along the Pier so we look completely windswept in all the photos and didn’t stay for too long! I’m pretty sure another bar was beckoning us away from the wind.



We didn’t actually go ‘out out’ in Brighton but we did visit a few bars and took full advantage of any two for 1 cocktail deals we could find. If you stay away from the chain bars then most places have a very studenty feel which I always like. Bars like that usually have cheap drinks and good music which is a win win for me!

It was a flying visit to Brighton so I definitely want to visit again. Hopefully next time there will be less chance of being blown over by Doris and I can have an ice cream in the sunshine!

Travel

Where I Want To Visit In 2017

January 9, 2017

Last year I put a post together about where I wanted to visit in 2016 (Have a read here) so it’s only right that I do the same for 2017!

First of all, I need to point out that these lists are a bit ambitious when you’re working full time and have limited annual leave and money but I love looking at places for some wanderlust inspiration. Dublin was the only place that got ticked off last year’s list so here’s the revised ‘ Where I want to Visit’ list for 2017.

 A Greek Island… or two.

I am in desperate need of a beach holiday. I want a sun lounger, a good book and an even better cocktail so I can relax in the sunshine for 1 or 2 weeks. The Greek Islands are still very appealing and Thomas Cook do a good island hopping holiday that I’ve got my eye on. If you want to escape to a different  world on your lunch break then have a look at the properties in Santorini available on AirBnB – you can live like a celeb for such little money! Those infinity pools are calling my name…

Iceland

Iceland is still firmly on this list. Stu and I have spoken about maybe booking this for his birthday in December. We’d like to go when there’s a lot of snow and hopefully catch a glimpse on the Northern lights as well. Iceland has become really popular in the last couple of years but that doesn’t really bother me. They can fight me for the best spot at the Blue Lagoon!

Eastern Europe

I love a good city break so hopefully I can squeeze one in at some point this year. I love exploring a city for the first time and it always feels like such a treat because you’re only away for a few days. I’m thinking maybe somewhere in Eastern Europe as that’s somewhere I haven’t been before. Do you have any recommendations? Prague, Tallinn and Krakow all appeal to me.

A Long Haul Adventure? 

And to top off the list I need to mention that my Mum and Step Dad are heading off on a round the world trip in February. They’re going to be away for at least a year visiting amazing places such as Singapore, New Zealand, Australia, South East Asia, South America, Central America and pretty much all the other exotic places you can think of! I’d love to visit them somewhere so need to start saving the pennies as pretty much every country is a long haul flight away. Hmm, 2018 trip?

Are you going anywhere exciting this year?

Europe, Ireland, Travel

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in Dublin

November 7, 2016

I don’t know about you but one of my favourite things about going away is all the food you eat. I get really excited about eating out and trying the local cuisine. You can really immerse yourself in a country’s culture by eating and drinking where the locals go.

So obviously, Dublin was no different.

Breakfast


Eating out for breakfast has become big business now. My Instagram feed is flooded by poached egg and smashed avocado on a weekend, it can make going downstairs for a bowl of porridge a bit underwhelming to be honest!

I love going out for breakfast. It feels like such a luxury because we don’t do it very often.

So where would I recommend having breakfast in Dublin? Well we stumbled across Two Pups Coffee on our way to the Guinness Storehouse on a late Saturday morning. Situated near St Patrick’s Cathedral, this gorgeous little cafe and vintage clothing store offers delicious coffee and breakfast for hungry locals and tourists.  I had a cheese toastie which came with the most amazing chutney. The staff were really friendly and gave Stu’s Dad a cute cupcake with a candle on as it was his birthday!

Lunch


If you know anything about the Dublin nightlife then you know that the tourists flock to the Temple Bar area and attempt to drown themselves with Guinness every night.What you might not know, is that within the Temple Bar area, there’s a traditional Irish pub called The Temple Bar. Keeping up?


This pub is busy no matter what time you go (it’s never too early for a pint of Guinness) and usually has a band in playing some Irish music. A busy pub playing loud music might not sound like the ideal place for lunch in Dublin but The Temple Bar has the most extensive sandwich menu I have ever seen. There must have been close to a hundred different combinations on the menu. I’m a nightmare when presented with so much choice on a menu but I eventually made a decision and went for a baguette with turkey, ham, brie and cranberry – YUM! The sandwiches also come with some grapes and a couple of little cakes so you can finish with a sweet treat. Wash this down with a Guinness and you can’t go wrong.

Dinner


How do you follow a cute cafe and a tourist hot spot in the centre of Dublin? Well if you head to the Portobello area of Dublin, you’ll find the Locks restaurant next to the canal. Locks was recommended to us by our Air BnB host and we were all really impressed. The menu is only small but everything was of the highest quality. We were overwhelmed with just how good our food was and just how much there was. When you go to a posh restaurant, you expect Masterchef sized portions but all the portions at Locks were very generous. Good food, good wine and good company, what more could you want to finish off your day of eating out in Dublin?

If you have any more eating out suggestions for Dublin then please let me know. This definitely won’t be my last visit to this great city!

 

Europe, Ireland, Travel

A Surprise Trip to Dublin

November 2, 2016

Last month it was Stu’s Dads’s 60th birthday and what better way to celebrate than having your family surprise you with a trip to Dublin?! After months of planning we finally surprised Greg in the departure lounge of Bristol airport. It was such a relief to be able to talk about Dublin after months of stopping sentences half way through when you realised you were about to mention something you shouldn’t!


This was my first time to Dublin and my first time to Ireland. I’d heard good things about the city so was looking forward to the 5 days ahead. We had a lot planned for our visit so this post will summarise what we got up to and hopefully give you some ideas for your next trip to the Emerald Isle!


I have to start with the beautiful house we rented for our stay. I’d seen the pictures on Trip Advisor but I was still in shock at how immaculate the house was. I picked up lots of interior design ideas for our house that’s for sure! The house is situated in the Portobello area which is a 15 minute walk from the city centre.


So, what did we get up to? The majority of us hadn’t been to Dublin before so we wanted to do some of the more touristy things and get to know the city better. So obviously, the only way to learn about a city is to dress up as a viking and travel around on a bus which transforms in to a boat, right? The Viking Splash Tour was SO much fun! I loved roaring at unsuspecting members of the public and our bus driver was absolutely hilarious. I can’t recommend this tour enough!


No trip to Dublin would be complete without a trip to the world famous Guinness Storehouse. Dublin is the home of the black stuff and I had high expectations of the brewery tour after our trip to the Heineken Experience a few weeks before. As expected, Guinness didn’t disappoint. The storehouse is huge and you learn all about the brewing process, the history of the Guinness family and get to pose with the famous zoo animals used in traditional Guinness advertising. At the end of the tour, you get to enjoy a free pint at the Gravity bar which offers stunning views across Dublin. I seem to be becoming a bit of a beer drinker these days and once again happily got through my pint!


A bus tour and a trip to the Guinness Storehouse probably sound like a very traditional trip to Dublin so we decided to plan something a little bit different for our next attraction. And what’s more different than walking the roof of Croke Park Stadium? We were all absolutely freezing but it’s incredible to be walking above the pitch and to see all of the Dublin landmarks from a different perspective.


Our little break in Dublin was perfect, I’m incredibly lucky to have such a lovely family to create happy memories with.

Europe, The Netherlands, Travel

The Heineken Experience, Amsterdam

October 31, 2016

Did someone say free beer?


One of my mine and Stu’s favourite memories from our trip to Amsterdam a few weeks ago was our visit to the old Heineken factory. I’ve had a tour of a brewery before in Bundaberg so I thought I knew what to expect but I was seriously wrong.


The Heineken Experience is so much more than your average brewery tour. It was interactive, informative and most of all FUN! I think a lot of people just go for a free beer at the end but then get caught up in all the history and games inside.


Rather than having a bored tour guide walk you around a disused brewery, the clever marketing people at Heineken have made it a self guided tour with activities in each section to keep everyone interested. I never knew learning about beer could be so good! There’s also free tasters at various points so you’re never too far away from trying the ingredients or the actual finished article. *SPOILER ALERT* – Beer only tastes good at the end, all the ingredients are rank on their own.


I’ll actually let you in on a little secret. I don’t like beer. Believe me, I’ve tried so hard to like it. When we were backpacking throughout Asia, I would have loved to have chilled out with a local beer instead of getting stuck into the spirits straight away or paying a fortune for a cider, but it’s just not for me. The only beer I’ve ever liked was served ice cold in a frozen glass but that means you can’t actually taste the beer which kind of defies the point.. Anyway, you’re probably wondering why I went to the Heineken Experience if I don’t like beer. Simple answer, Stu likes beer. I think it says a lot about the tour if you can enjoy it without liking beer. We saw some families with young children so it’s designed for all ages.


I don’t want to tell you everything you get up to during the tour as I’m sure it’s better when it’s a surprise but expect everything from talking portraits to singing dutch songs to becoming a bottle of beer. It’s amazing!


At the end, you’ll enjoy your two free Heineken’s with a big cheesy grin on your face. Surprisingly I drank both my beers and liked them but maybe I was just a bit drunk from the tasters…

 

PROST!

UK

The Natural History Museum, London.

October 21, 2016

A couple of weekends ago, Stu and I went to London for the day. It wasn’t for a special occasion or anything, I just had a voucher for Vapiano which we wanted to use! As much as we love the food there, we knew we couldn’t spend the whole day eating Italian food and it was due to rain most of the day. We wanted to plan a few things to do because there’s nothing worse than being stuck outside in the rain, without any idea where to go. Our grand planning session resulted in me suggesting the Natural History Museum. Neither of us had been there for years, it’s easy to get to and no ticket necessary!

natural-history-museum-entrance

We probably got to the Natural History museum about an hour after it opened. There was a bit of a queue to get in but it wasn’t raining and there were a couple of PokeStops nearby so we didn’t mind waiting. After about 15 minutes or so, we were in the doors and completely overwhelmed as to which way to go and what to see first. We decided to wing it and ignore the maps and just have a wander around.

london-museum-dippy

The museum is HUGE. There are so many different sections to it and you could easily spend hours there. Some parts get a bit crowded so avoid going on a Saturday if get a bit claustrophobic. My advice would be to take a break. It gets tiring walking around, you’ll definitely need some snacks!

natural-history-musuem-globe

Like all museums, there are bound to be parts that you enjoy more than others. I loved the dinosaur exhibition but get a bit creeped out by all the taxidermy. I seem to be in the minority with this opinion as the main crowds are around the big stuffed animals.

london-dinosaur

Being a big tourist attraction for families, there’s lots of interactive exhibitions and these are by far the best bits. There’s one game where you have to try and keep a human alive for as long as possible. Let’s just say that Stu and I won’t offer to babysit anyone for a little while…

Have you been to the Natural History Museum recently? What did you think?

 

Europe, The Netherlands, Travel

Amsterdam – A Photo Diary

October 17, 2016

Hello everyone! So this is my first post since I’ve transitioned from a ‘Travel Blog’ to a more ‘Lifestyle Blog’ and ironically it’s actually a post about my recent trip to Amsterdam. Haha bad timing from me!

This trip to Amsterdam was a birthday present from Stu (the boy did real good!) and he announced the trip in a fantastic way. On the morning of my birthday Stu put a load of balloons in our living room and some of them had a letter on and I was told that the letters spelt out my present. At first I couldn’t believe Stu was making me do an anagram on my birthday but then I got really into it. Stu was worried that the letters would spell out something else and funnily enough the first letters I found were, M…A…R… and then …M…E. The next letter I found was a ‘D’ to which I said to Stu, “There isn’t a ‘D’ in ‘Marry me’ is there?!” Soon after I had Amsterdam spelt out in front of me and Stu started playing Blind Man in Amsterdam by George Ezra. I burst into happy tears straight away! I was so overcome with emotion that Stu had arranged such an incredible present. I’m very lucky!

I thought I would share with you some of the pictures we took in Amsterdam. It’s a really pretty city and we loved that we didn’t know much about it before we went. When we went to Paris last year, we knew what landmarks we should see but Amsterdam was totally different so our break felt much more relaxed. I hope you enjoy the photos and I’ll write a post soon about what we got up to!

Australia, Travel

Visiting Sydney Olympic Park

August 23, 2016

I loved the Olympics! I found myself watching the most random sports and start talking about them as if I’m an expert (That triple spin in pike was cleeeeearly only a 12.25, how could the judges even justify giving a 15?!). Anyway, when Stu and I were in Sydney we decided to go check out the Olympic Park.

Getting to the stadium is actually quite cool. You can catch a ferry along the Parramatta River or get a train from the CBD. We got the ferry there and the train back to experience the best of both worlds! I’d recommend taking the ferry at least one way so you can take some great pictures of Sydney harbour and let’s face it, you can never have too many pictures of that!

The Sydney Olympics were probably the first Olympics that I remember watching. I watched Denise Lewis win Gold and then became obsessed with that game on the BBC website where you competed in the heptathlon.  All this meant that I was really excited to see an Olympic stadium. I haven’t been to the London Olympic Stadium and now West Ham play there so I doubt it would have the same effect to be honest!

The day Stu and I went, there was a big Easter family fun day going on so it was REALLY busy. However, because most of the families were local, they’d clearly seen all the tourist stuff before so Stu and I could get a good look at the Olympic torch and Olympic Cauldron.

Obviously the stadium would have been more impressive if there was a sporting event taking place as it was definitely missing the atmosphere which that would have provided but I was still pleased that we went. You only need to spend a couple of hours there maximum unless there is an event going on so take that in to consideration when planning your Sydney trip.

Have you been to any Olympic stadiums? What did you think?

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Travel Advice

Should You Do A Bungee Jump Or A Skydive?

August 20, 2016

Doing a bungee jump or a skydive are often right at the top of a backpacker’s bucket list. But more often than not, you can be a bit strapped for cash as a backpacker and you need to make difficult decisions on what to spend your money on. Personally I’d recommend doing a bungee and a skydive and living off noodles to make it happen but if you really have to choose then I’ve created some pros and cons to each to help you come to a decision.

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Price

In most locations, a skydive is going to be more expensive than a bungee. In Australia for example, a bungee will cost approximately $$$ but a skydive will set you back $$$. If you just want to experience one and only care about price then the bungee jump is the one for you!

bungy jump cairns

Time

By time I mean the amount of time you’re actually doing the bungee jump or skydive for. With a skydive, you’ll usually be in freefall for about a minute and then have a few minutes of floating down to the ground with the parachute open. On the other hand, the bungee will all be over in a matter of seconds. You jump, you fall, you bounce up and down a couple of times and then you’re either lowered to the ground or hoisted back up to the platform. So if you’re looking to get more value out of your hard earned money then you should definitely go for a skydive.

cairns bungy

Souvenirs

Souvenirs aren’t for everyone but I personally love them! The bungee that I did in Australia had a t-shirt included in the price but you had to pay for any extras such as photos or videos. Now the photo of you jumping off the edge is pretty cool but I couldn’t see much value in buying a 60 second video. In all honesty, how often are you going to watch that?

Now the skydives I’ve done in Australia had no freebies and you had to pay for everything. Again, you have the option to buy both photos and a video. Do NOT buy the photos if you’re planning on getting the video because you can take screenshots of the video when you play it on a laptop. Ta Da! Free photos! Having a video of your entire skydive is pretty cool but again, consider how often you’re going to watch it! If you’re low on money then souvenirs are probably not going to be an option but if you really want one then go for the skydive video.

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Fear Factor

The big difference in fear comes down to the fact that when you do a skydive, you’re attached to a trained instructor but when you do a bungee, you have to do the actual jumping bit on your own. Don’t get me wrong, both experiences give you a huge adrenalin rush but when you jump off that platform to do a bungee jump, you’re going against everything your body wants to do. Mt advice is to look straight ahead and jump as soon as the countdown reaches 0. Don’t be that person that takes about 4 countdowns before they can actually jump.

With a skydive, your instructor is the one who jumps out of the plane leaving you to enjoy the whole experience. Freefalling through the air doesn’t even feel like falling, you feel like you’re flying. It’s incredible.

Overall Experience

This is obviously down to personal opinion and you might feel completely different to me but I enjoyed the skydive so much more than the bungee jump. When I landed after my skydive I was on such a high that I wanted to get back in the plane and do it all over again. The views from a skydive are phenomenal and my instructor let me take control of the parachute for a bit which was cool.

I enjoyed the bungee but I wasn’t as fussed about doing one again in a hurry. I think that’s because it’s over so quickly. A skydive might cost more but it’s definitely worth the extra money. And if you buy the video, you get that exhilarating feeling all over again when you watch it back!

Have you done a bungee jump or a skydive? Do you agree with me?