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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!

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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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, 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.

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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:

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

Europe, Travel, UK

Easter Weekend in London

April 13, 2016

Easter may seem like forever ago but I’ve been a bad blogger and haven’t got round to writing about my trip to London with my family. So now you can sit back and remember how nice having a 4 day weekend at Easter was and look forward to our next bank holiday in May! Not that I’m counting or anything…

Anyway back to London! Over the Easter weekend, I went to London with my Dad and Stepmum. Thinking about it now, it’s probably the first time that we’ve ever done something just the three of us as there are usually other family members in tow. I’m really glad we got to spend that time together. Travelling definitely made me realise how important it is to see your friends and family as much as possible.

We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn hotel which is right next to the Hatton Cross tube station. It’s about a 40 minute journey into Central London but you get a bigger and much nicer room than most inner city hotels which is a big plus for me! We stayed for two nights and I thought it was a lovely hotel. It’s full of lots of people going on holiday as it’s near Heathrow airport which made me extremely jealous! I also loved the breakfast buffet – purely because it had a toast conveyor belt and those little glasses of juice you get on holiday. It made the trip feel even more like a holiday for me (I know I’m weird…).

Now obviously there’s tons to do in London and this post isn’t going to tell you how to see all the typical tourist sights in one weekend. What I will do is share with you some of the highlights of our weekend. We seemed to do loads and I enjoyed myself so much. So in no particular order, here’s what we got up to!

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time

Both Sarah and I had read the book by Mark Haddon, which is fantastic, so we were really looking forward to seeing how it translated into a play. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone but you definitely won’t be disappointed. It’s a very clever set with talented actors who draw the audience in to the story. One of my pet peeves is when a play or film deviates too far from the original story so I was relieved when the play did stay true to Mark Haddon’s book.

The London Dungeons

Now I had no idea what to expect from the London Dungeons. Friends had told me that it was really scary and I’ve been around the Saw Maze at Thorpe Park before which has actors and that seriously freaked me out. However this was a lot more family orientated. All of the actors were good and stayed in character the whole time but I only jumped a couple of times and that was probably due to my Dad trying to scare me! It’s more of a fun thing to do and not scary but you do learn some of London’s history which can only be a good thing.

The Imperial War Museum


Now if you really want to learn some history then I suggest you visit the Imperial War Museum. This is a fantastic place to go if you like your military history. I had quite a few modules in my degree about the different wars in the 20th Century so I found it particulary interesting. I don’t think you have to be a history nerd like me to appreciate the IWM though as it covers such a broad timescale that there is bound to be something that interests you, whether that be Hitler or 9/11. One of the best exhibitions is the floor dedicated to the Holocaust. It’s a harrowing exhibition which might make some people feel uncomfortable but it’s a subject that everyone should learn about to ensure it doesn’t happen again. If you’re after something a little different to do in London, you should definitely visit here!

Camden Markets


Last on my list is Camden Markets. Incredibly, I’ve never actually been to Camden before. Seeing all the different stalls selling such an array of items and food reminded me of Glastonbury festival. I love wandering about markets and seeing all the different shops and smelling all the food – even if I rarely actually buy anything! We walked through the Stable Market with all the horse statues and then saw the Amy Winehouse statue on the way out. I’d like to visit the markets again soon and see what hidden treasures I can find.

So that was our weekend in London! It was good to be a tourist in my capital city and explore some different parts of London. Thanks to my Dad and Sarah for a such a good weekend!

 

Next time I’m in London will be in just over a weeks time for the London Marathon. Wish me luck and please sponsor me if you can – details here.

Europe, Travel, UK

IceBar London

November 3, 2015

I recently spoke about my trip to London and mentioned that we visited IceBar. I wanted to write a whole post about the bar because it was such a fun experience! I’ve never really been to a novelty bar before so it was all new to me and I had a great time.


My Mum pre-booked our tickets as we’d heard it can get quite busy – especially on a Saturday. I think our time was about 5pm so it was full of people getting ready to start their night out in London. We arrived about 10 minutes before our allotted time and got to see the previous group leaving – all looking very cold! It was soon our turn to enter the Ice Bar but first we had to put on our thermal coats and gloves. I loved our outfits with the fur cape,I felt like I  was in Lapland!


 We then entered the bar (or the giant freezer) and was greeted by a wave of cold air, good music and lots of ice! Literally everything is made of ice. I’m talking the bar, your glasses, tables, sculptures, everything! It looked really impressive.

As you only get 40 minutes in the bar there is an initial rush for everyone to get their free drink and then take pictures with everything in sight. This did calm down once people realised that 40 minutes is more than enough time to enjoy the surroundings and have a few drinks.

Now if you’re like me and really feel the cold, you’re probably thinking that standing in a freezer for 40 minutes doesn’t sound fun in the slightest. The truth is, you don’t actually get that cold. The cape and gloves keep you warm and you’re constantly moving around anyway which helps. So don’t worry about the cold and give IceBar a try! It’s an ideal place to start a special night out or just to try something a little different when visiting London.

Have you ever been to an Icebar? What did you think?

Europe, Travel, UK

One Day in London

October 23, 2015

Last Saturday I spent the day in London with my mum for a bit of mother daughter time. We booked a return coach (so cheap with Megabus!) and had a loose plan of going round the shops and having a meal somewhere.

  
I was in London only a couple of weeks ago for work but I didn’t get a chance to see much more than the tube station and the office so it was nice to be a bit more of a tourist for once. First stop was Harrods as we knew they would have all the Christmas stuff out in the food hall. This made me seriously excited for the Christmas season to be upon us! Keeping in the tradition of shopping in expensive stores, we went to Harvey Nichols next. They also had their Christmas gear out so we really couldn’t get away it all.

Now lunch was something to get excited about. One of mine and Stu’s favourite restaurants in Australia was Vapiano. We went to one in Sydney, Mebourne and Surfers Paradise. In fact the only one we missed out was Brisbane! Anyway, Vapiano is now in the UK! They have 3 branches in London and one opening in Manchester next month (Vapiano if you’re reading this – please come to Bristol next!). Mum and I went to the Soho branch and I was filled with happiness as soon as we walked in. The restaurant was so similar to the ones in Australia and brought back so many memories. The menu was the same as Australia and Mum and I both had bruschetta followed by a pasta dish. If you haven’t been to a Vapiano before, your meal is cooked in front of you as you order and you can really taste how fresh it is. We loved it! I can’t really recommend it enough – just go!

   
    
 After lunch we headed to Regent St and Oxford St for a bit of retail therapy. It’s so busy shopping in London on Saturday and I can imagine its only going to get worst in the build up to Christmas.

  
Come 5pm, Mum had a treat booked for the two of us, a trip to Ice Bar London! This was so much fun and I’ll write a whole blog post about it soon.

  
Before long, it was time to head back home. It’s only a couple of hours to London from home and I sometimes forget just how easy it is to get there. I might see if I can squeeze another trip in soon…

Europe, Travel, UK

A Trip to Frome.

September 27, 2015
Frome

This weekend Stu and I stayed in Frome as one of my good friends from university was getting married. It was so lovely to see her again and amazing to see her married. I know her and her husband will have many happy years together.

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Anyway this was mine and Stu’s first time in Frome and it is such a pretty place! It’s got the beauty of Bath but much more quaint. The main high street has a real community feel as everyone seemed to know each other or they were just overly friendly!

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Frome is full of small independent shops selling gorgeous items and country pubs selling good food and drink. After a little wander around the cobbled streets, Stu and I decided to try out The Artisan. It was a really nice sunny day so we sat out on the garden terrace with a drink each, making the most of the last of summer sun. All the food on the menu sounded amazing but we decided on a sharing board from the specials menu. It came out on a wooden slate and looked incredible. To our joy, it tasted even better than it looked. I actually want to go back now and eat it all again.

The Artisan The Artisan

Frome is definitely worth a day trip if you’re ever in the area. It’s even a nice drive if you’re heading to Frome from Bristol way. Lots of villages that I would love to live in!

Frome

Have you been to Frome? What did you think?