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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!

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!

Europe, UK

Afternoon Tea at Thornbury Castle

August 9, 2016

For Valentines Day, Stu bought me a voucher for Afternoon Tea at Thornbury Castle and we finally got round to going last month. Tea and cake is always worth the wait, especially when you’re sat in a castle!

Our afternoon tea was booked in on a sunny Sunday afternoon so Thornbury Castle looked stunning. If you’re travelling by car, you arrive by driving past the vine yard and then under an archway into the Tudor castle grounds to park.


Our host sat us down on the comfiest armchairs in one of the castle’s drawing rooms where our table was already prepared for us. There were a few more guests that had already been served their afternoon tea but the whole atmosphere was very quiet and relaxed. You could tell everyone was savouring the experience rather than rushing through a meal.

Shortly after sitting down we were asked to select a type of tea from a selection on a menu.  I went for a green tea (my standard choice) and Stu chose Earl Grey. Our choices were then brought over to us in little tea pots which were kept topped up throughout the experience. All the teas are served loose so you need to remember to use the tea strainer. Stu forgot once so had a couple of stray leaves lurking at the bottom of his cup!


Next up was the main event, the sandwiches, scones and cakes! When the selection was put in front of us we were sure that we could manage to eat it all but it’s surprising how quickly you fill up on cake! All of the food was lovely and was obviously freshly prepared, the scones were still warm!


I expect the menu changes season to season but ours was delicious. The sandwich fillings included, crayfish, ham, cucumber and egg (not all in one haha!). We then moved on to the scones. You’re served two enormous scones each, one plain and one fruit but both equally yummy. The cakes consisted of a berry tart, carrot cake, coffee cake and a mint and dark chocolate macaroon. Definitely too much for us to eat in one sitting and it’s not often that Stu and I can’t finish a meal!


We had a lovely afternoon at Thornbury Castle so thank you to the staff who couldn’t do enough to make us feel welcome and thank you to Stu for the present. Happy Valentines Day!

 

Europe, Travel, UK

An Evening with Brooks Hotels Ltd

July 11, 2016

I was recently invited to Brooks Guesthouse Bristol to celebrate the launch of their newest hotel – Brooks Country House in Hereford. This will be the fourth for the Brooks Hotels Ltd brand, with the other two in Bath and Edinburgh.


Carla Brooks, who runs this fantastic chain with her husband, invited some local Bristol bloggers along for an evening of local wines and cheeses and to give us a chance to have a nosy around the Bristol Guesthouse. It’s always nice to meet other bloggers and we all fell in love with this hidden gem of a guesthouse. It definitely helped that we were all crazy about the free cheese on offer too!

The kitchen and dining area was furnished to a traditional country style and I liked the fact that the kitchen was all open so you’re able to see your food being prepared as you wait. It gives the whole place a very homely feel.


The dining area opens out to a lovely garden area with plenty of plants and places to sit. In keeping with Bristol style, Carla had some street art commissioned which gives the outside a very quirky feel.


The street art isn’t the only surprising aspect of this guesthouse though. Situated on the rooftop are these incredible retro rocket caravans! These must be the coolest place to sleep in Bristol! We had a sneak peak inside one and they’re fitted with colourful LED lights which make them even cooler in my opinion. They’re so big that they had to be lifted up from the street to the rooftop on a crane. Can you imagine how crazy that must have looked?!


The new Brooks Country House is going to have quite a different vibe but it still looks like somewhere amazing to stay. It’s a stunning Georgian Manor House and from the pictures, it looks like its been beautifully decorated. I asked Carla and the wallpaper is all from Cole and Son so no expense has been spared!


On the evening, Katharine from bristoletc won a free stay at the Country House so I’m looking forward to reading her blog post after her visit.

Thank you so much to everyone involved in making this evening happen. I had a lovely time and hope to stay in one of the Brooks Hotels soon!

Europe, Travel, UK

Glastonbury Festival 2016

July 5, 2016

Anyone else still suffering from the Glastonbury blues? The long journey to get there, the horrendous mud and the toilets are now a distant memory and all we can remember is the great music, the fantastic array of food and the incredible atmosphere that surrounds Glastonbury festival.

glastonbury 2016 2glastonbury 2016 3

This year was my third Glastonbury and it honestly just gets better. Whether you’re there for the headliners or the smaller acts, there’s something for everyone. You could go to Glastonbury and not see a single performance and still have a good time. Each area is filled with the most random activities and stalls. Boredom is simply not possible at this amazing festival in Somerset.

These were my highlights for 2016:

glastonbury 2016 1

The food! I could dedicate a whole blog post to the food at Glasto. Every cuisine imaginable is available and it’s all amazing. I actually get sad that there isn’t enough time to try more.

glastonbury food

The tributes to Bowie, Prince and Lemmy. These were everywhere – from stage installations to toilet graffiti. A touching nod of respect to these great artists.

david bowie eavis tribute

Bowie tribute pyramid stagelemmy tribute other stage glastonbury 2016

Coldplay’s tribute to Viola Beach. A moving tribute to a band who never reached their full potential. This was the closest to tears I got all week.

coldplay glastonbury 2016

Adele’s accent. The contrast between her singing and speaking voice is crazy. I loved Adele’s anecdotes and jokes between songs. She was phenomenal.

glastonbury 2016 4

I always go through a stage after Glastonbury when I say that I won’t be going again. Then I forget how disgusting I felt and watch some of the performances again on Youtube and before long I can’t imagine spending the last weekend in June anywhere else… See you next year Glastonbury!

Glastonbury 2016

Europe, Travel, UK

A Weekend in Center Parcs- Longleat Forest

May 10, 2016

Last Christmas, we booked a weekend away with Stu’s sister and her boyfriend to the Longleat Forest Center Parcs and last weekend, after months of waiting, the trip was finally here! Stu and I are lucky enough to have seen a lot of the world but we’ve both said that we need to make an effort to see more of our own country. Center Parcs was a great opportunity for us to do this.


Stu hadn’t been to Center Parcs before and I was still in nappies last time I went so we were both really excited to see what all the fuss was about. Lorna, Stu’s sister, is a Center Parcs veteran so we were in good hands to make the most of our visit.

A weekend at Center Parcs is Friday to Monday. We arrived at 3pm on Friday and were really lucky that we didn’t have to queue to check in. When we left on Monday, the queue of cars waiting to check in for the week was ridiculously long. You can use the facilities before check in so come early and hit those rapids before the crowds!


We stayed in a cabin near some open water which was great because we felt really secluded and had lots of wildlife for neighbours. A deer came really close to our cabin on the first day so we were basically David Attenborough for the weekend!


Center Parcs is all about being active and appreciating the great outdoors. Longleat Forest is a no vehicle zone so everyone gets about by walking or cycling. Most of the activities are centered around being active as well so the exercise combined with the fresh air means you’ll be shattered at the end of each day – good job the beds are comfy!

There’s absolutely loads to do so you can either have a busy weekend crammed full of activities or you can chill out and relax all weekend. I’d like to think that we struck a happy medium. Over the 4 days, we played badminton, went swimming, won the geocaching, played snooker and stuffed our bellies full of food. We were really lucky with the weather so made the most of the sun with ice creams and a BBQ.


The food at Center Parcs is AMAZING. The cabins are self catering but there are a few different restaurants to choose from if you do want to eat out. We went to The Pancake House and to Rajinda Pradesh, the Indian restaurant. Both were really good, but we were all particularly impressed with the Indian. I didn’t expect one of the best curries I’ve ever eaten to be at Center Parcs but it was seriously good.


We were all sad to leave on Monday but I definitely won’t be leaving it so long until I visit CP again! Have you been to any of the Center Parcs? What did you think?