Well aren’t I a lucky devil, I have just returned from my second holiday so far this year. This time we went a little off-piste though and holidayed in the UK, with a trip to Snowdonia with our beautiful little pooch-faced babychops (Lexi).
Here she is in case you’ve forgotten how stunning she is:
Usually we go further afield but we really wanted to find somewhere dog friendly to explore, so we rented ourselves a little house in a coastal village called Harlech, packed up our impractical BMW coupé and off we went.
What a trip!
If like me you haven’t really holidayed in the UK since you were a small child, I highly recommend it. We saw some of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, my phones had no signal most of the time and we had loads to occupy us. I can’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed. That’s not to mention the fact that our little girly LOVED it and had a wonderful time getting the sand in her paws.
Here are some snaps / highlights in case you’re thinking about a trip (these are just phone snaps; imagine the colours in real life!):
Throw in some zip lines, lots of delicious food and a steam train ride and you have yourself a holiday. I can’t recommend visiting Wales, especially the traffic-free, stunningly beautiful Snowdonia enough.
Much love! x
Here we are, it’s 31st December 2015 and I have to say this year has been the best year of my life so far. It’s been simply amazing and if 2016 is even half the year that this one was, I’ll be one lucky girl.
I know everyone does it but I can’t resist bragging a bit because here are some of the things that have made this year fantastic:
Adding Lexi to our family* Moving in with the boy* Paris* Warsaw* Greece* France* New York* Dog walks on the beach* Turning 30* Buying a house* Winning an award at work* Hanging out with friends* Great food* Family*
I’m unbelievably grateful to all who have contributed to making my year what it’s been. I’m on cloud 9 and appreciating every moment of it.
Here’s to a super 2016, may it bring you everything you could possibly wish for! x
As you may have gathered from my previous post, I have recently been to New York so it seemed rude not to post a little something about my trip.
What can I say? The city is HUGE and completely unlike any city I’ve ever been to before! All of the buildings are so tall that I don’t think you really appreciate how big they are until you come home and look at the tiddlers we have in the UK again.
Loads of people offered me hints and tips of places to go and things to see while I was there but even a week is barely enough to scratch the surface. I always recommend following your gut; if you think you’ll like it, go and if not, well don’t go.
On advice from a friend, we stayed out in Brooklyn, away from the hustle and bustle of Manhattan and I’d thoroughly recommend that. Try and get central Brooklyn though as there are loads of great bars and restaurants there. It means you have somewhere to explore if you fancy having a more relaxed brunch or a quiet(er) drink.
We also made it out to the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey to watch an American football match. I really wanted to watch a sports match out there because I’d heard that they make a huge event of it and I wasn’t disappointed. American football is great if you’re not usually a sports fan because they play for a few seconds, then there’s a minute or so when you can chat and then the play resumes and so on. Ideal for short attention spans!
Overall though, my top tips are just these:
Right, now here are some photos!
There’s so much to see and do in the city, I really just suggest you pick a little part of it that you think will suit you and start there.
Happy travels! x
One thing I have been massively lax about this year is sharing my travel experiences so I’m going to start the catchup process now with a quick note about my most recent trip which was to Istanbul. Sadly my camera gave up the ghost part-way through the trip so I don’t have as many photos as I would have liked and a good chunk of them have been taken on my phone but hopefully you’ll find something useful here.
We stayed in the old part of the city, very near to the Blue Mosque in a hotel called the World Heritage Hotel. It’s a small, boutique type hotel which I cannot recommend highly enough. The hospitality was like nothing else, we were offered the receptionist’s iPhone charger to take home with us when we thought we’d lost one and we also bumped into one of the staff of an evening who stopped just to check that we knew where we were going. AMAZING!
Before I went to Istanbul, I imagined it might be a bit like Marrakech in that we’d be constantly harassed as 3 females travelling alone. It wasn’t like that at all. There’s a huge police presence in the most touristy areas and as soon as you say your first no to the traders, they back off. That was really refreshing. What was also nice was that almost all tourists respected the culture of the city and dressed conservatively, in longer sleeves and trousers.
Food-wise I was underwhelmed. The main courses were “ok” from what I experienced; I mean they were great value for money but nothing I’d rush back for. The baklava and the Turkish delight were fabulous though! I don’t usually eat Turkish delight but it revealed its true colours here and the pistachio flavour with the bits of nut in is just the best!
What’s interesting is that you might think that the Asian side of the city would be the more conservative but actually it’s the more modern side. We took a boat trip across there one day and it was great. Approaching it from the boat, it looked run down, cheap and not at all like the sort of place you’d want to go. Walk a couple of streets down from the docking station though and you’ll enter a maze of shopping streets, bars and restaurants and find the most western part of the city.
You’ll also find some awesome street art so be sure to wander slightly off the beaten track. Check out the example below, there’s so much going on in one picture, it’s brilliant! For travellers in their 20s, I’d suggest staying on this side of the river and taking the boat across for the sight seeing rather than doing it the way we did. The boat’s only about 4 Euros per trip so it’s virtually free.
There are only two things we encountered which I would suggest avoiding. The first is the cafe / restaurant in the Topkapi Palace grounds and that’s purely because it’s insanely expensive. We had some delicious chocolate cake in there but it was at least 3x the price of everywhere else and seemed to be on a par with English tourist attraction prices. It was a bit of a nasty shock.
The second is the hammam. We went to Cemberlitas Hammam and while it was ok, I really didn’t enjoy the experience very much. The place was heaving like a cattle market, the women were rude and there weren’t even any signs to say where to go so we were wandering like lost lambs when we first arrived. If you fancy a Hammam experience, I’ve had much better in Marrakech so I suggest saving your pennies towards another holiday.
Overall, Istanbul is a hustling, bustling city and there’s certainly a strong presence of religion there but it also feels really safe and it’s not especially huge so you can easily walk around it. My favourite part of the whole trip was when we went to Gulhane Park. It’s big, it’s well laid out and it’s beautiful. On a warm day in the summer, I could easily imagine lazing around here for hours, not least because there are loads of friendly stray dogs around! The dogs are tagged and one gentle giant followed us around for about half of our walk 🙂
Definitely visit if you get the chance but for my money, Budapest is still the winner if I had to suggest one city for you to visit x
Stuff’s been bugging me lately and I mean a lot of STUFF. The more I think about it, the crazier I get and further away I appear to be from an answer. All I can do is assume that this is an early midlife crisis.
Let me set the scene:
I’m 28, I have a good job, I live in a lovely flat, I go on a reasonable number of holidays, have some lovely friends, an amazing bf, a brilliant family and I even have a car thrown into the mix too. For a 28 year old who just a year ago lived in a house that was lonely, had no real job, no bf and a mountain of debt, I’d say that things are changing pretty rapidly and they’re changing for the better. So why am I so discontent?
I can only put it down to a form of midlife crisis. What I actually think it is, is an “I’m approaching 30, FML, this is terrible” crisis but that’s not especially catchy. You might now expect me to panic about the fact that while my life is moving in an upward direction, I’m not yet married and I don’t have children and the clock’s ticking, etc, etc.
What I’m panicking about is that I’m getting close to a point where I might be expected to “settle down”; people are going to expect me to get married and have babies, just like everyone around me is doing and I don’t want to. Not only that, but this panic that’s setting in is giving me a major case of the old itchy feet. Suddenly I’m craving travel like never before, I’m struggling to see how I’ll get through the next year without taking at least 3 months solid out to go exploring. I’m looking at sports cars; what can I afford and which cars only come with 2 seats to be sure that there’s no space for buggies or babies???
Don’t get me wrong, it took me ages to find a job I like and the bf is truly 1 in 6 billion or however many people there are in the world; there’s no way I’m going to just dump and run. That doesn’t stop the feeling of panic though, it just makes me want to pack him in my suitcase and work from China or Australia or New York…anywhere far flung!
The biggest problem I have right now is how to resolve this. I don’t want to put up and shut up and wake up in 5 years tied down to a marriage, mortgage and motherhood but I’m not bold enough to risk it all in case I lose everything I’ve worked for so far. Where’s the middle ground? Should I just buy the sports car and be done with it? Deny my age? Paint my bedroom to look like a jungle? (My bedroom is sorta like a jungle anyway in that you do have to watch where you put your feet but it’s far less leafy.)
HELP ME! I’m getting old(er) and I’m scared. I’ve got a liney face and cellulite in the bum/thigh region and things are changing and my life isn’t like the books I read and films I watch. I’m living in reality and I don’t know what to do with it!!! x
I feel like I’ve been rather slack the last couple of weeks when it comes to posting on here but it’s been for a combination of reasons, including not feeling too well and also going on a trip to Berlin with my daddy!
My wonderful father turned 50 back in August and for his birthday, I booked us a trip to Berlin which was last weekend. We had a great time and it’s a fabulous city. Both of us agreed that we’d happily go back there just for a shopping trip, they had all of the shops you could possibly want and lots of them. It’s a busy city with loads going on but it’s not all grimy and rammed to bursting like London is.
We stayed at the Pullman Berlin Schweizerhof hotel which I thought was fab. It’s in a great location, has an lovely pool and sauna area for rejuvenating the feet after a day of sightseeing, the rooms were very clean and the staff were very friendly. Obviously we did all of the touristy things while we were there and of those, I’d highly recommend a trip to the Holocaust Memorial. The actual memorial is just right there in front of you as you walk down the street and at first glance looks just a bit strange. Walk through it, really get right into the middle of it and you’ll feel so much more the significance of why it is so.
Other than that, the Tiergarten is beautiful, especially in autumn when the leaves are all different colours and of course there are many museums and architecturally stunning things to look at. I’d also really recommend just grabbing a coffee and sitting in the middle of a plaza somewhere, people watching. On a Sunday the shops are shut but there are still heaps of people just milling around doing their thing and it’s really quite nice to sit back and take it all in.
Here are a few of my photos from the trip:
I hope you’ve all been having fun, let me know if you have any questions about my trip 🙂 x
I know I posted on Friday but prior to that, there were a couple of weeks when I was as quiet as a mouse so I figured I should share with you the reason why. The main reason was that I went on a family holiday to Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic…
Yes, that’s right, I was quiet because I was too busy lazing on the beach and enjoying the sunshine! There may also have been rather a lot of food thrown in 🙂
Whilst we were out there we went on a couple of trips, the best of which involved a short flight to Samana which is an even more beautiful area of the island. I felt like I’d won the jackpot with this trip because I even got to sit next to the pilot on our short flight out and back, watching him fiddle with all the dials and watching us nose-dive back down to the runway…amazing! That made me want to learn how to fly a plane!
You don’t want to hear me banging on about our hotel, etc. and the fact that we flew upgraded and stayed in an upgraded room, because that’s just bragging (!) so I’ll just share some of my favourite photos with you and you can start planning your own trip over!
That was just a little snippet of our holiday, hopefully the pictures have inspired you to book yourself a little holiday if you haven’t already! x
For anyone who missed my insane excitement, I went to Paris with my friends at the beginning of the month and it was just the best thing ever! In my previous post ab0ut Paris, I mentioned a book shop that I loved so much it deserved a post all of its own. Well here is that post!
About a week or so before I went to Paris, I was at home watching the film Midnight in Paris for the first time, purely by coincidence and I noticed Owen Wilson’s character hanging around by a rather cool book shop. Thinking it was way off the beaten track and I’d never have time to go there, I put it to the back of my mind. However, when we were in Paris one of my friends spotted it and pointed it out as one of the must-see tourist stops. I got ridiculously excited about this so when Sunday afternoon came round and we only had time to do one more thing, we hopped along to Shakespeare and Company.
As you can see, from the outside this looks like the quaint, old English bookstore that you have to search high and low to find in the UK these days. Inside, photos are not allowed though if you Google it, you’ll find quite a few. However, if you peek through the window of my photo, you begin to get a flavour of how exquisitely perfect this shop is.
If like me you think the Kindle has been sent to Earth by Lucifer himself, you will love this shop. As soon as you step through the door the stale mustiness of old books hits you. You have to watch every step you take because there is no sense to the layout of the shop and there are hoards of people squeezed into the tiniest of spaces. Downstairs there is more uniformity to the books and the shelves because this is where the new books, ready for sale are waiting. Walk upstairs however and you will feel how I imagine Alice to feel when she ventures down that rabbit hole.
There are nooks and crannies everywhere, notes from admiring visitors planned to walls, an old typewriter tucked away and all sorts of different chairs dotted around. Why the chairs? You can’t buy the books upstairs, they are to be read and enjoyed in situ. and what a selection of books there is. Many of the books are extremely old and the way they line the uneven shelves produces and effect I could only dream of recreating when I eventually own a house big enough to house a library.
If you’ve already fallen in love with the place, read on and you’ll be booking the next Eurostar over there. Just as my friend and I were debating how long we should stay, a tray laden with mugs of all shapes and sizes (some minus their handles) was brought out from a back room. Then a kettle, tea bags, sugar and milk appeared. One inquisitive visitor asked whether the tea was for general consumption, only to be informed that he’d have to stay for the tea party if he wanted any. Tea party???
A few minutes later a bright, vivacious older lady burst into the room and started ordering us to take seats and passed us cushions which we were to scatter on the floor when the seats ran out. Pan Melis is her name and being an eccentric, old Welsh poet is her game! We were at a real life Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. Every Sunday between 4 and 6pm, Pan entertains anyone brave enough to enter her lair. She will fill you in on the history of the shop, her crazy life, read some of her own poetry and bully you into reciting or reading yours…or singing…or sharing a memory. There’s no escaping Pan, she will drag you into her world no matter how much you resist and so she should too after she’s given up her tea, and in our case her M&S Christmas cake 🙂
I’ve never experienced anything like it and obviously the majority of the people who attend are there just for that one session and often by accident but some are regulars and their contributions are clearly very well valued by Pan. It fulfilled my romantic dream of Paris and I’d seriously consider moving to Paris just to be able to go there every Sunday. It really was a gem in the middle of the city; perhaps the French see it differently but I was astounded to find something and someone so quintessentially British in the heart of Paris. If you visit Paris, make time for this, I promise it will be worth it; at the very least it will be an experience you’d be hard pressed to find anywhere else x
Related article: Shakespeare and Company – A Surreal Afternoon by the Seine
Trip Advisor: Shakespeare and Company
Last weekend I was lucky enough to get 2013 off to a cracking start with a weekend in Paris 🙂 My birthday was back at the end of November and this was my present from my fabulous friends. So we got up at some ungodly hour on Saturday, hit the Eurostar and spent 2 amazing days in a truly beautiful city.
We stayed in a hostel – yes I said hostel! This was my first hostel stay but one of my friends had been before and it was just like staying in a cheap hotel; as there were 6 of us we had a room and bathroom to ourselves so I now feel like a proper traveller but without the whole bathroom sharing thing! The hostel is called Oops and has great bus and Metro links; you can check out their website here.
As we were in Paris for just 2 days and 1 night, we literally flew around the city taking in as much as we could but without spending too long in any one spot. The things we spent longest doing were eating (obvs) and in an amazing book shop which deserves a post all of it’s own so watch out for that. I’ve decided I won’t bore you with any more details, I’m just going to post some of my favourite pics of this stunning city and let you decide what you think of Paris 🙂