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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

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

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?

 

Travel Advice, Travel Book Series

Why You Should Keep A Diary When Travelling

August 10, 2016

Life is full of wonderful experiences and when you’re surrounded by such fantastic sights and sounds, it seems impossible that you will ever forget this moment. But as we experience more and more equally wonderful moments, it can be hard to remember the little details which made it so special in the first place. This is why it’s important to keep a diary, especially when  travelling.

Ever since I was little I’ve been one to keep a diary. I now have lots of diaries to look back on from school days, holidays and everything in between. I cringe reading some of them again and I’m amazed at what I used to worry about. What scares me though is how many people and places I’ve forgotten about. They were important enough for me to mention in my diary and now I can barely recall them!

When you travel the world, you meet so many other travellers that it’s impossible to remember them all. You might only spend 1 day with them or it might extend to a few months. You add them on Facebook and then move on. But these people who you have crazy adventures with deserve to be remembered. So write about them! Put a face to the name when you discover pictures from your travels in years to come. It will prompt you to try and get back in touch with these people who were an important part of your life at one point.

Write everything you can about that trip you just went on. Describe the smells and the sounds as these are the first things you forget. Explain how something made you feel. It’s amazing how reading a diary can bring back so many memories. You’ll read your diary and find yourself laughing out loud one minute and crying the next as all the details come flooding back to you.

Lots of travellers I meet say that they started out with good intentions and kept a diary for the first couple of weeks but then forgot about it. I’m not saying you have to write in your diary everyday, you don’t want it to feel like a chore, but make the effort to write names, quotes and random memories down as much as possible. Add tickets, leaflets, photographs etc to your diary to help prompt the memories as well. If you’re anything like me then you will be keeping all of these things in your suitcase anyway!

Don’t let something as important as travel become a distant memory. Your diary will be worth more to you in years to come than that random vest you bought in Thailand.

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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.

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.

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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

Travel Advice

How To Stay Clean At Glastonbury – with Pits and Bits Wash Kit 

June 16, 2016

I love Glastonbury Festival and I can’t wait to go again next week. My least favourite part is trying to stay clean in a muddy field for 5 days. Gross. Apparently there are showers but I’ve never met anyone who’s showered at Glastonbury! This is where the Pits and Bits Wash Kit comes in handy.

At previous festivals, I’ve used hundreds of baby wipes and hand sanitiser to try and freshen up and last year I washed my hair in a bucket – not easy when you have hair that’s as long and thick as mine! These methods are okay but I still feel really grubby after a couple of days. My main problem is not being able to wash my hair properly as I usually wash my hair every other day and it really suffers if I leave it any longer than that. I’m really jealous of you people who can go for days without washing their hair!

The beauty of the Pits and Bits Wash Kit is that you can wash your body and your hair WITHOUT water. That’s right, shampoo and shower gel that doesn’t need water! It sounds like madness but I’m so excited to give it a try. The theory is that the lotions foam up enough on their own and then you just towel dry your hair/body! My mum used the shower gel when she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro last year (just casually dropping that in there…) and raved about it afterwards so I’m hoping the shampoo is just as good.

The other part of the wash kit is these expandable wipes. Did you ever have those flannels that expanded in water when you were a kid? Well they’re just like that! Ideal if you don’t have much space or don’t want to carry any extra weight. I’ve heard that they don’t actually expand to a very big size so I might take an actual towel for back up but I’ll let you all know how I get on.

Anyway, I’m looking forward to a clean Glastonbury festival and praying for sunshine. Look out for me on TV, I’ll be the one singing along to Adele with squeaky clean hair!