The Travel Diaries| Brighton August 2017 With Brighton Getaways!

Over bank holiday weekend last month, Tom and I were invited down to Brighton by the guys at Brighton Getaways to test out one of their apartments. Having never been to Brighton, we jumped at the chance and hopped in the car for a mini break. We were completely lucky with the weather during the two days we were there as it was the mini bank holiday heatwave and it was glorious!

We set off bright and early on the Monday morning to make sure we got a full day in, so we arrived in Brighton at about 10 am and decided to have breakfast in a little cafe and do some wandering. At around midday, we were able to head to the apartment to check in and see where we’d be staying. We were actually given the Artists Studio*  which was walking distance to everything we wanted to see and was located in the North Laines. It was very quirky, with a huge graffiti style mural along one wall, yet it had a really cosy feel about it.IMG_0058 Being a studio, it was on the smaller side and was based around one main room, however we felt like we had plenty of space and were really comfortable throughout. The studio also had a kitchenette, free wifi and a really nice shower ‘pod’ type set up which I really liked!

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This was the shower ‘pod’ that was in our room!

If we stayed in Brighton again, which we have said we’d like to, we’d definitely look at the rentals available on Brighton Getaways as ours completely fit what we needed and was spotlessly clean and very well located. The two guys I spoke to with regards to booking and checking in were really friendly and helpful too which was lovely!

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Shopping in the North Laines

With only a short period of time in Brighton, we decided to check out the pier as that’s a must-see tourist attraction. It has very typical ‘British holiday’ vibes to it but to be honest, I really loved it. We watched all the fair ground rides and had a look at the amusement arcades and generally just soaked up the atmosphere. There was so much going on and as it was bank holiday Monday and beautiful weather, it was absolutely packed! It didn’t feel too crowded though and I really liked that.

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The view from the Pier

One thing I didn’t expect was how beautiful the beach would be. The sea was so clear and really made us feel we were on holiday abroad rather than in the UK. There was such a buzz along the front with performers and holiday goers and plenty of shops for a quick ice cream break. I wish we’d been able to take JJ with us this time as he would have loved it all! IMG_0050.jpg

One thing I said I wanted to see was the Choccywoccydoodah shop as I’ve spent many hours watching that show and the displays always blow my mind. Needless to say it was just as good as i’d imagined and I loved being able to actually see them in person rather than just on the TV. The Laines are such an unusual way to shop and we loved wandering around them and seeing the independent stores that they held. It had such a nice vibe to it and it felt very very inclusive as a town, no matter who you were.

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Possibly my favourite Graffiti EVER.

Right near our accommodation was the Pavilion Gardens and the Royal Pavilion inside was really beautiful. It almost felt like a temple rather than a pavilion and I hadn’t expected to find that just round the corner at all. It seemed like a really popular place to picnic or stop and have a chat and I wish we had something similar near us as it was such an unusual building!

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Royal Pavilion

In the evening, Tom being the foodie that he is, has sussed out a place to eat that promised to be pretty special. Its a restaurant called 64 degrees and is run by someone from Master Chef I believe. It’s won plenty of awards and is considered the best restaurant in Brighton. It serves small plates that promise big flavour and the general experience we had was unlike any other restaurant i’ve ever been to. We were actually seated on the pass so we got a great view of all the cooking and each component that went into every dish.

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This was how close we were actually sat, no zoom needed!

The menus change regularly dependant on what’s in season and what produce they could get hold of. My favourite thing I had was probably either the Lasagnette or the Rum Bear. The first, being a deconstructed veggie lasagna that was simply incredible and the latter was their equivalent of a Haribo bear but with lots of rum and their own sherbet. It was amazing!

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That Rum Bear!

It was a very whistle stop trip to Brighton, but we had such a lovely time and I know we’d both love to return. A huge thank you to the guys at Brighton Getaways for giving us the chance to see such a lovely town and putting us up in such perfect accommodation. I’m sure it won’t be long before we’re back!

Much Love

xoxo

*Accommodation provided for PR purposes. All other things mentioned in this post were paid for entirely by ourselves.

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The Travel Diaries |Norfolk June/July 2017 – An Entirely Dog-Friendly Guide!

Back towards the end of June, Tom, JJ and I headed off for a week long trip to Norfolk rather than jetting off to Europe like we usually do. Our main reasoning was that we hadn’t really done a UK holiday together before and also that we HATE leaving little J behind. Laden with bags, we packed up my car for the 3 hour journey and headed off to the East Coast! If this sounds a little familiar, I did write a post over on Steph’s blog as part of her guest blogger series, so if you fancy a more straight to the point version of events, then click here. This post aims to go into a lot more detail of where we went and has lots of extra pictures!

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The gorgeous guesthouse was actually owned by Holkham Estate!

In terms of accommodation, travelling with a dog can restrict you slightly as not everyone fancies a layer of dog hair being left when you leave. However, Norfolk is a county of dog lovers and we found an absolutely wonderful place in the seaside town of Wells-Next-The-Sea, somewhere I had actually visited many moons ago and loved. We stayed in the Manor Farm Guesthouse run by a wonderful couple called Jim & Annette who actually had two dogs of their own, Rolo & Summer.

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Summer & Rolo very quickly sussed we kept treats in our room!

I think on average it cost us £78 per night for the three of us, including a delicious breakfast every morning. We were in the smallest room called The Snug, which was a little out building but that suited us perfectly as JJ had full access to the garden at all times. It was really cosy and JJ was made as welcome as we were, he was even allowed in for breakfast with us which was a lovely touch! The location was no more than 40 minutes drive from everything we wanted to see and I don’t think we could recommend it any more! If we head back to Norfolk, we will most definitely be staying at Manor Farm again!

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J’s first experience of sand!

So after arriving mid afternoon, we all had a bit of a doze before heading on a little walk to find some food and let J stretch his legs. We made it all the way down to the beach front (quite some walk I’ll have you know!) and let JJ get his first experience of the beach. It was absolutely adorable and it’s safe to say he LOVED it! On our way back to the B&B we stopped off at The Globe Inn which is a lovely, dog friendly pub. To be honest, the majority of the places we went to eat were dog-friendly gastropubs as it seems that Norfolk do those very very well! Tired after the long journey, we headed to bed so we could get up nice and fresh to enjoy our first full day.

DAY ONE

IMG_3193.jpgHaving decided we were going to make up what we were doing each day as we were going along, we decided to pay a visit to Holkham Hall as it had a lovely dog friendly walk! It was really beautiful and the café at the end was incredible! I totally recommend the Victoria Sponge!! Dogs can’t actually go into the hall but you can really get a nice feel for it from the outside regardless. There are deer roaming the park and there are some absolutely stunning photography spots all the way around.

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Did you say field of wheat Theresa?

There’s a lovely walled garden too but we didn’t head in as we had JJ (who likes to be as free range as he can and would probably wee up the flowers) but I think you could take dogs in regardless.

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The tiredness was beating him.

The gift shop was pretty incredible too and I could have spent a hell of a lot of money in there! We actually bought JJ a handmade leather dog collar and a hook to pop it up in our new house (when we have saved up enough deposit to buy one that is!). About lunch time, the heavens opened and unfortunately the weather set in for the rest of the day so we drove back to the B&B to have another little snooze. IMG_3189.jpgWith the weather being pretty damn rubbish that night, we didn’t want to stray far so headed to the nearby Crown Inn for some tea. This was our favourite place we ate at during our stay and it also had it’s own menu dedicated to gin. I was sold.

DAY TWO

The next day was sadly another total wash out with the weather being the typical UK summer offering. Tom got a right earful that day from me as he was the one that suggested the UK holiday. Sorry Tom. Movies were watched, chocolate was eaten and JJ slept off some of his exhaustion from the fun of the previous few days. In the evening we tried a pub by the harbour called The Golden Fleece which was nice but we definitely ate at better places during our stay. It was a much more lively pub, clearly popular with the locals and was pretty packed. I would say that the food was okay for the price, but as I say, we had better!

DAY THREE

Hallelujah, day three brought much better weather! Unsure as to whether it would last, we really made the most of it and crammed our day full of things to do! We started off  a little off the beaten path at the ruins of Baconsthorpe Castle!

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Smug J and his castle.

It was actually free to go and was very pretty to see. It would only take you a quick half an hour but if you’re in the area it’s very instagram-worthy! We even found a tiny baby bird whilst we were there and JJ loved playing king of the castle! From there we carried on to Holt Country Park so JJ could have a nice long walk! It’s probably only something to do if you want to walk a dog but we enjoyed it all the same, despite getting lost and wandering off the path into the literal middle of nowhere. IMG_3195.jpg

Back in the car again and we wanted to see some proper British seaside fun and Cromer seemed to tick all those boxes. The weather was a little grey, but warm and we got to wander around the town, eat chips and ice creams sat on a wall and even take JJ down the pier. Unfortunately, at high season, dogs aren’t allowed on the beach, but having spent lots of time on Wells beach, we weren’t too fussed.

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J gets his resting bitch face from his Daddy.

With JJ barely keeping his tiny little eyes open, we headed back in the car to drive through some villages we wanted to see before dropping him off at the B&B and heading back to our favourite, the Crown Inn, for some much deserved dinner and wine!

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Not cool Mum, you’re crushing me.

DAY FOUR

Having heard many good things about Old Hunstanton beach, Friday morning meant a trip there and oh my goodness, it’s beautiful. IMG_3198.jpgBeing a midlander, we don’t see long stretches of beach that often and we all loved it. JJ got to play and run and dabble in the sea and we just soaked up the fresh sea air. Regardless of whether you’re taking the dog for a walk or not, make sure you take a trip here as it’s gorgeous!IMG_3201.JPG I’m sure you can see from the pictures, how happy JJ was and that just made me melt a little inside! We also bumped into a couple with 3 Jugs (JJ is a Jug – Jack Russell x Pug FYI!) and that was great as you really don’t see too many of them surprisingly. IMG_3199.jpg

The evening brought a little bit of amusement to us when we’d booked a table at the proper local pub, The Bowling Green. Strolling in at our designated time of 7.45pm we were surprised to find it quite rowdy and everyone dressed in black. We were also the only ones seated at a table and definitely looked like outcasts. It was incredibly noisy in there and Tom and I were shouting to hear each other. A little while later, a waitress came up to take our order and apologised for the noise and gave us a free round of drinks AND a bottle of wine. To cut a long story short, the pub had been booked out for a 90 year olds funeral and they’d over stayed their welcome, meaning that we were the only other ones there! I dread to think what it must have been like if they got together for a happy occasion as I’ve never seen such a loud and rowdy funeral in my life! Needless to say the free drinks got us quite jolly and we went back to the B&B laughing and stumbling about the fact we’d crashed a funeral.

DAY FIVE

On Saturday, the weather was simply gorgeous and really really hot. We headed to the harbour to do the traditional tourist activity of crabbing, much to my delight. Well, when I say we, I mean I engaged and Tom sat as far as way as possible with his resting bitch face. Oh what a regular occurrence this is from the cheery other half. I successfully caught 40 crabs in one hour and gathered quite a crowd of onlookers. Fearing I was going to get sun burnt, I threw them all back into the water and we nipped back to the B&B before heading out in the car again.IMG_3203.jpg

One thing Tom was desperate to do was to go to the Queens Sandringham Estate. Although dogs aren’t allowed in the actual grounds, there’s a fantastic country park as part of the estate that goes on for miles and miles as we soon found out.  IMG_3204.jpgJJ had an absolute whale of a time and we must have done at least 5 or 6 miles before coming back to have an ice cream made in their own creamery and apple juice pressed from the Queens own apple trees! It was such a wonderful afternoon and the estate is beautiful!IMG_3205.jpg On our way home, we stopped in a nearby village of Thornham to try out a lovely looking pub called The Orange Tree. The food was amazing and definitely more like high end restaurant style cuisine than pub grub. Sadly we had to shovel it in pretty quickly as JJ was being a pain in the bum as he was so tired. I’d totally recommend it though if you’re in the area! IMG_3206.jpg

DAY SIX

Our final day and I think it was safe to say that we were all sad that the holiday was coming to an end. We’d had such a lovely time exploring the area and I really would have liked to have stayed even longer. We simply took JJ back to spend time at Wells beach and enjoyed the glorious weather, eating ice creams and sweets by the harbour and just generally enjoying ourselves. We had to pay a visit to our old fave The Crown Inn one last time, but we opted for Sunday Lunch this time and, after three courses, rolled our way back to the B&B for the last time.

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Norfolk or Spain?

We had the most amazing week in Norfolk and made so many lovely memories. I really hoped you liked this post and that it helps if you’re planning to take your own pampered pooch on a holiday in the area. We found everyone to be incredibly welcoming of all three of us and that nothing was too much trouble at all. I would 100% go back again in the future and despite having one bad weather day, we were generally pretty lucky! If you have any other suggestions as to where to go or what to see in Norfolk, then please leave them in the comments!

Much Love

xoxo

 

The Travel Diaries| London August 2017 – Harry Potter, Speed Boats & Gin!

Tom and I have been together for over five years now and to say we I love travelling so much, you’d have thought we’d have at least spent a day together in London during that time! Sadly that wasn’t the case so this time we were determined to cram as much in together as we could! Neither of us have been down to do tourist things in London for years, instead going for work or a specific event, so we wanted to see the sights and treat it as a real holiday.

The sole purpose of the trip was actually to see Harry Potter & The Cursed Child as we’d booked the tickets a year prior to the day of the first show. We took the train down on Thursday morning and our shows were Thursday & Friday Night. I think i’m going to go into more detail about the show in a separate post for those of you who are interested, but it’ll be mentioned a little later on don’t you worry!

If you’ve ever tried finding a hotel in London, you’ll know how flipping expensive they are! I booked ours a while ago through Booking.com (that link will give you £15 off your next trip if you’re interested!) and it was the Shaftesbury Premier London Paddington Hotel. This was located really close to Paddington station which has 4 tube lines running through it I believe so it’s perfect for getting around! I found the hotel to be perfect for what we needed but we did get an upgrade after complaining about our original room so I would err on the side of caution if booking it. The room we ended up with was a club room which was brilliant but the ‘deluxe’ double we should have had was actually in the basement with next to no light and a shower cubicle the size of a postage stamp that also smelt of stagnant water. Be warned.

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Nelsons Column didn’t quite make it into this picture!

On the Thursday we arrived at our hotel at around half 2 and after a quick freshen up, we headed out to Trafalgar Square to see Nelsons column and then on to Covent Garden. It’s safe to say Covent Garden was entirely my choice and was purely to head to Ladurée, Deciem & Charlotte Tilbury! Macaroons eaten, I went to find my shade in The Ordinary foundations as I hadn’t wanted to guess online! I ended up going back to buy some for Lora & Sophie too on the Sunday!

After a bit of shopping, we had to grab an early dinner as the theatre recommends being at the show an hour in advance of the start time (7.30pm). Tom had found a place called Polpo online and it turned out it was directly opposite the theatre! It was a really cute place that served tapas that was delicious! If I was to be picky I’d say that the staff were too attentive and almost bothersome and I got my prosecco served in a IKEA tumbler! Not quite what I was hoping for but we had a delicious meal all the same!IMG_1501.JPG

From here we crossed the road to the palace theatre and queued to see the Cursed Child part 1! Our tickets were in the dress circle which I would say is always my favourite place to sit in the theatre. They do come with a bit of a price tag though as I think they cost us £70 each per show! In my opinion they were totally worth it though and if you’re going to go and see the show, you may as well do it properly and not scrimp! The acting and the special effects of the show were absolutely out of this world and I was on the edge of my seat at times! I’d actually read the book so I knew the story line but I was actually glad about that as I didn’t have to spend ages focussing on the plot and I could just sit back and enjoy it all! Part 1 does end on a bit of a cliffhanger though so I could imagine that if you’re new to the story, waiting 24 hours felt like a lifetime!

IMG_3633.JPGDay two started with a real bang for us as we’d actually arranged to go on one of the Thames Rocket Tours*. As someone that can get a bit sea sick I was a little nervous beforehand but I loved it! The trip runs from the London Eye Pier and lasts around an hour. On arrival we were given warm waterproof coats (very handy!) and life vests! Each boat takes about 12 visitors and has a tour guide and a skipper. Our tour guide was a lovely guy called Bill and our skipper was Andy! For the first 20 minutes of the ride we leisurely rode out towards Tower Bridge, taking in the sights at our leisure. Bill came round to take some pictures for us all and even took a sneaky selfie on Toms phone.

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Hey Bill, betcha didn’t think this picture would make it to the blog!

Once we’d hit Tower Bridge (not literally thankfully), the fun began and we sped off at around 30 knots. I’m not a speed demon but this was amazing and the hilariously dramatic soundtrack in the background was fantastic. Think James Bond, Don’t Stop Me Now and Rocket Man to name but a few! I was so so sad when this part of the journey ended as it was so much fun and unlike anything I’ve ever done before. It’s safe to say I looked very windswept when we got back on dry land and Tom’s hair had taken on a mind of it’s own!

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Don’t worry, he never smiles!

The final 20 minutes of the journey was at a leisurely pace again but this time, Bill pointed out major sights on route. His favourite things to point out were things that hadn’t perhaps gone to plan and gave Tom and I a tonne of facts to take away with us! My personal favourite is that Waterloo Bridge is also called Ladies Bridge as it’s the only one to be built by women. Its also the only one to come in under budget; get finished on time and it also cleans itself! Girl power at it’s best!

Once we had disembarked the boat, we decided to do a bit of wandering and looking at the sights. We crossed over Westminster bridge to take a look at the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben (which is actually the name of the bell, not the tower!) and made our way towards the Shard! We were going to go up the Shard but for around £55 for the pair of us just to go up in the lift we decided to give it a miss! We did have a spot of lunch on the ground floor though at Lang! It’s part of the Shangri-La hotel and offers amazing pastries! We had a toastie each and then it was on to the most fantastic cakes! I had a salted caramel tart and Tom had a raspberry and rose macaroon! They were delicious! One very random thing that was present at Lang was a heated toilet seat! If we had that at home, I honestly don’t think i’d ever see Tom ever again!IMG_3638.JPG

Feeling rather heavy, we decided to walk to Borough Market to take a look at what it had to offer. There is an amazing array of food stalls and all sorts of other goodies there and if I lived in London I would love to get my groceries from some of the stalls! It’s definitely an upmarket place though, selling truffles and caviar and other fantastic, yet very expensive, delicacies on every corner! We got the tube to Buckingham Palace from here as it’s just a must-see place for any London Tourist! We saw the beefeaters and took a good wander around the park and the lake, just enjoying being outside in the reasonably nice weather! We finally took a little gander at 10 Downing Street although since I was last there security has naturally been stepped up and you can barely see a thing. We also ended up walking by New Scotland Yard, where Tom took a little boomerang of the sign for his Insta Story!

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Oh Hey Your Majesty!

After heading back to the hotel for a quick freshen up, it was time to head back out to see part 2 of The Cursed Child. Having never seen a show in London, to see two on consecutive nights felt like a right treat! I found the second part to be very emotive, partly because I knew it was the final of something I’d be looking forward to for so long and also from how the story unfolded. I feel like the actors were incredibly emotive and the casting had been picked exceptionally well. My favourite character was definitely Scorpius but I would say 90% of the characters represented both their paper and film counter parts amazingly! It’s totally worth a visit if you can!

IMG_1599.JPG.jpegDay three was our final full day in London and being people that spend a lot of time on social media, we wanted to take a trip to Camden Market to try and find THOSE Halloumi fries from Oli Baba’s! I had no idea how big Camden was so it took us a while to find them. I may of perhaps tripped into a distillery shop and picked up yet another new bottle of gin, but this one, Half Hitch, is actually made at the market so I couldn’t not get some! We finally found the fries and oh my god they were amazing! Deep fried halloumi with mint yogurt, something that tasted a bit like balsamic glaze and fresh pomegranate seeds. Simply divine! IMG_3658

We wanted to do a spot of shopping from here so we of course went to Liberty’s, Carnaby Street and Harrods and Harvey Nic’s amongst others. I always love Liberty’s and Carnaby street has such a buzz about it. I actually hadn’t realised I’d never been to Harrods before so we whiled away plenty of time in there as it’s HUGE! They sell absolutely everything you could think of and I loved exploring it. It’s a crazy shop full of so many treats that I can’t even begin to list them! After a quick walk down Sloan Street to see if we could spot any super cars for Tom, we headed back home for a quick refresh before dinner.

Oh dinner,  how amazing it was! We went to the infamous Distillery on Portobello Road which specialises in gin, gin and more gin! We ate in one of the two restaurants they have there, Gin Tonica. This was yet another delicious tapas restaurant with a gin list a mile long. Weirdly, Tom dislikes gin so he chose a wine that was absolutely delicious! I thought ‘when in Rome’ and opted for the Portobello Road gin which was amazing! We shared numerous tapas dishes which were mouth watering and a pudding that still has me thinking about it! My only thing was that the gins were VERY pricey, the cheapest ones were around £10 a glass so I felt like I could only really have one for fear of racking up a huge bill! I would 100% go back though next time I was in London and I’d LOVE to stay in the hotel they have there! They also have a fantastic gin experience that I am totally putting on my birthday wishlist!

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The Distillery on Portobello Road

On our final day we had to head back just after lunch time so we decided to have a yummy breakfast instead to finish the holiday off in style! On recommendation from Lora and her husband Chris we joined the queue at The Breakfast Club in Soho and decided to wait in line no matter how long it took. As we were a two it was actually only around 35-40 minutes which I’m lead to believe is pretty good in there! Tom had a full english along with a tea and I had cold pressed orange juice with a veggie breakfast. The juice was some of the nicest i’ve ever tasted and the breakfasts were gigantic! I think next time I would opt for something a bit more specialist so I can try their take on things but the veggie breakfast was amazing! We were both so so full after we’d finished and didn’t need to eat anything again until dinner time!

Sadly that brought our trip to London to an end but we had an absolutely fantastic time full of action packed boat rides, amazing food and wonderful theatre! Let me know what your favourite thing to do in London is!

Much Love

xoxo

*Tickets provided for PR purposes. A huge thank you to the team at Thames Rockets for helping to make our trip so wonderful!

The Travel Diaries |Whistler April 2017

Whilst on my travels around Canada & The States, we headed up to a little village called Whistler so I could attempt to try learning to ski in one day. I’d never put skis on before so I had no idea what to do, but I’d always wanted to go to a ski resort to see what all the fuss was about. Whistler is a gorgeous place in British Columbia and is a favourite with skiers worldwide. Even the winter Olympics has been held there so I knew I couldn’t miss out on an opportunity to pay it a visit!

There’s actually a fantastic transfer service from Vancouver to Whistler, so we jumped on the bus at about 5am and trundled off through the mountains. I have to say that the scenery on the way there is simply breathtaking and had I been driving myself, it would have taken so much longer as i’d have been stopping for pictures all the way! Think mountains, waterfalls and roaming elk and you’re probably still not even close to how beautiful it was!

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Getting off the bus, optimistic about my skiing abilities. 

We got off the bus at the entrance to whistler village and headed off for a breakfast of nutella crepes and strawberries at a cafe called ‘Hot Buns’. Even though it wasn’t peak season, the village had a real buzz about it and I enjoyed just watching people lumber around in their huge ski boots! We decided to check into our hostel which was only a very short bus ride away after breakfast so we weren’t carting around loads of bags. As I mentioned in my hostel post, we had such a good hostel that was very synonymous to a log cabin and very very cosy! As ski passes were really expensive for me, we decided to go tubing on day one and skiing on day two. I have tubed before but I forgot how much fun it was! You’re only a small way up the mountain but by that, you are still above the cloud bank so it’s pretty high! We paid for an hours tubing and it was so much fun! You basically fling yourself down an icy hill in a rubber ring and its brilliant! Strangely, it’s really tiring trudging back up the hill with your rubber ring through shin deep snow!!

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Dragging my ring up to the top!

I’ve got to say we were absolutely soaked after tubing as you can’t wear any kind of boots to do it in! Clearly, trainers offer next to no protection from the snow and they were like little pools by the time we’d finished! Tired and hungry we headed to an Italian in the Village called Pasta Lupino for some much need carbs! This is such a lovely little Italian and was really reasonably priced! Its set at the back of the village and has a lovely family run feel to it!

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All the gear but no idea.

Day two saw me finally tackle the challenge of skiing and its safe to say I was pretty crap at it!! We started off on the nursery slopes to get me used to it but the snow was very slushy so Emily said I’d probably find it easier higher up. I’ll let you into a secret, I didn’t. The slopes were green runs obviously, but in my eyes they were so steep! I don’t think I could count the amount of times I fell over, cried, swore, had a strop or even told Emily to leave me there for the wolves to eat. By the times i’d done 5 hours skiing I was exhausted and in agony so I headed off with my tail between my legs to have a hot chocolate and told Emily to join me later. I would definitely like another go at skiing in the future as I do think I was pretty hard on myself as it was the only time i’d ever tried to ski before. I’m not easily defeated so I’m going to try at the local snowdome sometime soon!

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A common occurrence throughout the day.

After a bite to eat in Starbucks our short time in Whistler had come to an end and it was time to head back to Vancouver. I honestly loved the place and I would go again at some point in the future. For reference, a days ski pass and boots/ski hire was about $150 so it’s definitely not a cheap day, but worth it if you’re in the area!

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Emily has the patience of a saint.

Have you ever been to Whistler or any other ski resort?

Much Love

xoxo

The Travel Diaries |Seattle April 2017

Hello! Long time no see! My exams are FINALLY done and I have officially finished my degree so back to blogging it is! I’ve got so many posts in drafts and I can’t wait to get back to it! I put a poll up on twitter to see what you wanted to see first and the majority said it was time for my Seattle Travel Diaries! I honestly cannot believe how long i’ve been back now and how much has happened since! I love writing these posts though as I kind of get to relive the whole holiday again! IMG_9007.jpg

My last post finished with us leaving San Francisco to get the plane to Seattle, a brief journey of just over an hour! When we arrived we found our hostel and dumped our bags in order to find some much needed food! We found this amazing restaurant just around the corner from our hostel called Local 360, if you ever go to Seattle definitely check it out as everything from the drinks to the food is all from nearby and as much as possible is actually from Seattle! The food was delicious and set us up for an afternoon of wandering round the waterfront.DSCF0275.JPG We got to see the famous Seattle wheel, an icon in the  scene from Grey’s Anatomy that is played nearly every episode! At the waterfront, yet again we were greeted with some gorgeous Sea Lions and beautiful views over the water. We also had a look around Pike Place Market, one of the key tourist attractions in Seattle where you can buy just about anything you can think of! DSCF0280.JPG

The market was full of beautiful blooms, homemade produce and fresh fish, caught by the local fishermen. I could have spent hours wandering around the market just taking in the gorgeous array of things. IMG_9039.jpgI can imagine that if you were local then it would be the ideal place to go shopping each week! I feel like Seattle involved a lot of eating and remarkably we had become hungry in that short space of time so we visited a local cheese shop called Beechers who made the most delicious cheese I think i’ve ever tasted! They are inundated with customers wanting to try out their Mac N Cheese which is made from their own cheese! I have got to say it was hands down the best Mac I have ever tasted! Do not miss out on this is you go to Seattle, they also do an incredible tomato soup too! DSCF0274.JPG

The next day we decided to try and take in more sights and we of course headed straight to the Space Needle! This is a iconic monument in the Seattle skyline and it was amazing to see it in person! We headed to the top (in something silly like 40 seconds) and walked out onto the observation deck to see 360 degree views of Seattle! It was beautiful! They even have a brilliant way of taking a picture for you at the top with the scenery in the background! DSCF0295.JPGWe’d bought a twin ticket which enabled us to get into Chihuly Gardens & Glass too. I had no idea what to expect with this but it was a beautiful combination of intricate, coloured glass sculptures set amongst gardens. DSCF0299.JPGThe work was absolutely incredible and we even managed to watch a glass blowing demonstration too which was fascinating! The whole city seems to love handblown glass so there are always shops with demos going on too but i’d definitely recommend a visit to Chihuly! IMG_8990.jpg

In the evening, we got to do something that I found really special. Before I was born, my mum was actually an air hostess for British Airways. She travelled all over the world but always spoke about a restaurant in Seattle that she always visited called Cutters Crabhouse. She said that if it was still there, down by the waterfront, then we should definitely go. Luckily for us it was and it was a lovely experience being able to eat a gorgeous dinner, overlooking the water with my best friend, in a restaurant that my mum has such fond memories of. It was an evening that I will always remember for great food, company and the fact I got to make my own fond memories there too!

The next day we decided to do some shopping and have a more chilled day. However, to head down to the shops we hopped on the monorail to take us there! They are such weird little trains that drive above the road. It was a really quick but enjoyable ride and I’m glad we got to try it out! We got off the monorail and hit the shops, Sephora definitely took a bit of a battering that day! I’m totally not sorry!

For our final day, we decided to have brunch to start the day off right. We headed to a popular cafe called Tilikum to enjoy some incredibly thick, but delicious pancakes! I can safely say it started the day off perfectly! IMG_9025.jpg We’d read online about the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle and decided to go and check it out for ourselves. It focuses on conservation and has some native creatures from the Pacific North West that i’d never seen before! I actually got to see a huge brown bear that day and they were as stunning as i’d imagined! The park was fantastically well maintained and the beautiful array of creatures was amazing! There was even a porcupine and mountain goats!IMG_2950.JPG We spent a good few hours wandering around with the bird enclosures being some of my favourites as you could get right up close and feed them! We headed off to see the troll statue under the bridge after this as it was only a short walk away. It’s so strange to be in a little residential area and then suddenly see a huge statue of a troll holding a car! Very random but quite a funny little sight to see!IMG_9029.jpg We decided to eat at Cutters again that evening for our final goodbye meal in Seattle and to celebrate visiting another fantastic city! Washington was such a stunning state and i’d love to go and do a few more outdoor activities there in the future as I bet it’s brilliant! DSCF0285.JPG

The following day we got the Greyhound up to Vancouver to start the next leg of our journey. I had such a lovely few days in Seattle and I’m so glad I got a chance to visit! Have you been to Seattle? If so what was your favourite bit about it?

imagesMuch Love

xoxo

The Travel Diaries |San Francisco April 2017

It’s been nearly five weeks now since I got back from one of the most fantastic trips of my life. I went travelling along the west coast of America and Canada and had the absolute time of my life. I spent 16 days with my best friend and we had so much fun. I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to do such a great trip and I wanted to share plenty of pictures and highlights with you today! My first stop was San Francisco, a place I’d always dreamed of visiting and experiencing the Californian lifestyle.

I arrived in San Francisco on the 6th June after an eleven hour solo flight, a huge huge challenge for me! I was absolutely shattered so headed to bed at about 9 in order to make the most out of the next day. We decided we’d head to the infamous Pier 39 first to check out the sea lions and see what was going on in the Fishermans Wharf area. This is such a lively and bustling part of the city and a definite must-see if you head to the city. DSCF0188.JPGPier 39 has been inhabited by a large group of sea lions who like to show off to the crowds that flock to see them. They are such beautiful creatures and it was hilarious to watch the dominant males fight each other off the ladies! We were really lucky when one sea lion just happened to swim right up to where we were standing! DSCF0194.JPGWe spent the rest of the day doing what my Grandad would call ‘a recce’, sussing out the surroundings and deciding what we wanted to do on each day. I tell you one thing I didn’t know about the city, how bloody hilly it is! Literally the roads are almost vertical! We staggered up a particularly steep one to get to the top of Lombard Street which is the most insanely curly road! I would LOVE to drive down it at some point!DSCF0220.JPG

Day two saw some of the most glorious weather so we headed to see the beautiful Golden Gate Bridge in the sun. It is such a work of art and look even more amazing in person than I can ever describe.DSCF0239.JPG The colour is such a vivid red and is so striking against the backdrop. It’s about a 1.5km walk across the bridge each way so we decided to walk all the way over and just sit for half an hour on the other side before heading back. We both managed to catch the sun that day and the walk across was lovely, there are plenty of points to stop and take pictures! Once we’d walked back we decided to check out China Town which was incredibly beautiful! Lanterns were strung down the middle of the street and shops sold authentic Chinese food and goods. I honestly thought we’d been transported to China! After a lovely day we headed out for some dinner at a restaurant called Puccini Pinetti for some good old Italian food and then went for cocktails afterwards at a bar called Benjamin Cooper. I’m telling you now, they were some of the strongest cocktails I have ever experienced in my life! It’s safe to say I definitely felt worse for wear the next day!!

The following day Emily had to drag me up as I felt like i’d taken a sledgehammer to the head! We plodded on in the heat to find the Cherry Blossom Festival which is a celebration of Japanese culture. It was full of stalls to wander around but I was a bit disappointed there was no actual Cherry Blossom! We carried on walking until we found the house that was in the Mrs Doubtfire movie!IMG_8886 I found it so weird that it is in fact just a house and we saw a regular family who now lived in it! I kind of hoped they would have kept it as a shrine for the movie but it really was a beautiful property! Back up the hills we went to see the painted ladies – apparently the first brightly painted row of houses in the city. They reminded me a little bit of the children’s programme Balamory but in entirely pastel hues! For the afternoon we wandered around the quirky Haight Ashbury and I did a little bit of shopping to cure my hangover whilst Emily headed to Golden Gate park. We of course needed some more sustenance in the evening so went to a beautiful restaurant called Tratto for a pick me up (sans alcohol this time!).IMG_8825

For our final day in San Fran we decided to start the day off American Style by heading to Pine Crest Diner for brunch. How I walked around for the rest of the day I don’t know as that was one huge pile of waffles and pancakes! We wanted to have a quick look around the Yerba Buena Gardens where the Martin Luther King memorial is. It’s a lovely water feature with a path around the back and quote etched into the marble walls, a really special tribute! We spent the rest of the day by the water front and basking in the sun. In the evening we decided to head to Buena Vista Cafe where apparently the first ever Irish Coffee was served in the city. The tables were actually shared so we had a lovely family sat with us who actually lived in San Francisco. IMG_8931To top off an incredible few days we headed back to the hostel in style… on a cable car of course! I think we got luck as our driver was hilarious and really added to the experience, joking with us all, singing songs and pretending that we were going at about 70 miles per hour! It was something I’d longed to do and definitely something I won’t be forgetting in a hurry.IMG_8946.jpg

Sadly that marked the end of our time in California and we went to bed to get up bright and early for our flight to Seattle, Washington. I’ll be continue the travel diaries as soon as I can with my Seattle adventure but in the mean time I really hope you enjoyed this post! Have you ever been to San Francisco? What was your favourite part if you have?love-from-san-francisco-art-by-linda-woods-linda-woods

Much Love

xoxo

Travel Tips |How to Hack Hosteling & a Few Recommendations!

I’m a snob and i’m totally not ashamed to admit it. Sharing a room with complete strangers; sharing a toilet down the corridor and sleeping on a lumpy bunkbed.. hell right? Well despite being a snob, I am also on a pretty low budget whilst i’m finishing my degree so to be able to travel, a girl needs to lower her expectations regarding sleeping arrangements! Emily, my resident travel partner and all round bestie, convinced me to give it a good shot and I thought i’d tell you all about my experiences as, if I can hack it, you most definitely can!

I’ve stayed in a hostel twice before my US/Canadian road trip, however both times I stayed in rooms filled entirely with people I knew so it was slightly different. My first ever experience was in Barcelona (cue Ed Sheeran) where I only stayed for one night as a place to crash before heading off to Benicassim festival! As this was back in the summer of 2013 I had to do some investigating regarding where we stayed, but I’m pretty sure it was in the Barcelona BCN Go! Hostel and we had a four bed room with ensuite.

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Barcelona dorm rooms!

This was a pretty tame introduction to hosteling as it was so modern and I had bathroom facilities in the room, like a hotel, and my room was filled with my friends. Easy. If you are unsure then this is definitely the way to start as you are with people you know and have an ensuite so no bathroom sharing is required!

The second experience was back in 2014 in Stockholm where I stayed with two of my besties in a three bed dorm. This was a bit more of a jump into the hostel world as a) we had to share a bathroom down the corridor, b) the room was microscopic and c) THERE WERE NO BLOODY WINDOWS! Having said that, it was miles cheaper than any hotel options we could find and the whole bathroom sharing was actually okay! It was kind of like a swimming pool changing rooms with toilets and showers. All totally fine! When I went to try and find this hostel I drew a complete blank – Sorry!

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San Francisco Dorms!

So now, a few toe dips into the hosteling thing, I embarked on the proper hostelling! Now you have choices when booking your room, mixed or single sex dorms; the size of your dorms and whether you want an ensuite or not. All of these vary in price of course but I would say that the price difference between a mixed and a single sex dorm is usually only a couple of pounds so definitely go with what would make you more comfortable. We went for female only dorms and i’m glad we did! We also went for four person dorms which are slightly more than say 6, 8 or even 24 (I know ridiculous right) bed dorms but I felt a lot safer leaving my belongings in the room. We didn’t have an ensuite as the price difference was quite significant, but it was honestly no trouble at all in any of the hostels we stayed in. They seem to ply you with toilets and showers (all in single rooms with lockable doors!!) so I don’t think I ever had to wait!

The first hostel we stayed in was in San Francisco and was the HI (Hosteling International) Hostel Downtown and was great! We stayed for five nights and found the location to be perfect, the beds were comfy and they even provided a free breakfast! Admittedly it was a rather sparse array of food – bagels or bagels anyone?5023 Saying that it was nice to have the option and did help to line your stomachs for a day out sightseeing! Each dorm was equip with a sink and lockers for you to store your valuables but you do need your own lock, something I had completely overlooked! You did get towels and free wifi though so you can’t really complain for £30 a night!

One thing I would say is that your roommates really are luck of the draw. You could have completely rowdy people or lovely sociable solo travellers. It’s hard to predict but I would say look at how the hostel describes itself and that usually a good idea of the kind of people you may be put with. ‘Lively’ is usually a sign for lots of partygoers so if that’s not your thing, look for a more ‘friendly’ or ‘sociable’ option! We were very lucky in all our hostels and never had any issues with any of our roommates and actually had a good chat with a few of them! In San Francisco we had a lovely solo traveller from Melbourne and a quite quite Chinese girl who kept herself to herself.

Next stop on our hosteling adventure was Seattle and again another good hostel! It was the City Hostel Seattle and was definitely more ‘indie’ than San Francisco and seemed to have a lot of quirky characters in it. Each of the rooms has artwork on the walls, painted by local artists. Emily had previously stayed here and said that her room was incredibly creepy last time but we were very lucky this time with stained glass windows painted on to the walls

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Rather elaborate artwork in Seattle!

We had a variety of people staying with us, including two au pairs, a 60 year old woman and an asian girl who came in at 3am and slept in her full going out outfit. It was a real mixed bag but all of them were lovely! Again ‘breakfast’ was provided but we did get the choice of pineapple and bran flakes this time! This hostel had the most amazing bathrooms but the showers were ridiculously powerful, seriously if you’d turned around, you’d have probably lost at least one of your nipples.

The final hostel was by far the most unique one of the bunch and I LOVED it! This one was in Whistler and was called Whistler Lodge. It was all wooden, surrounded by trees and snow and even had a hot tub and sauna! whistler-lodge-hostelAgain for £30 a night you could not really ask for more! The hostel is very quiet at night which I liked and each ‘bed’ was a pod with a mattress, curtain and light – incredibly cosy and I slept so so well! It also had a cute ‘no shoes inside’ policy so everyone was padding around in socks which made it feel very homely!

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Whistler Lodge ‘Dorms’

So what would I recommend for you to do if you’re planning on staying in a hostel?

  • Do your research – Think location, atmosphere, dorm size, gender and price
  • Take a lock and a towel – unless you don’t mind renting them both for a small fee
  • Go in with an open mind – hostels are improving so much and many are just hotels with less stars as they have less facilities.

Finally, what are the pro’s and cons?

PROS

  • Incredibly cheap
  • You can meet new people from all over the world
  • They often have events you can get involved in

CONS

  • You don’t know who you’re going to be sharing a room with (some people do not share the same hygiene standards as you – don’t you brush your hair over the sink?!)
  • They’re quite basic
  •  You have to act like a child and sleep in a bunk bed!

Overall I would say I had a fantastic time staying in hostels, something which I NEVER thought I would say! I got to see some fantastic cities for a lot cheaper and I genuinely slept well and would stay in them again in a heartbeat. I felt safe, welcome and comfortable and enjoyed the whole experience! If you’re on the fence about it like I was then definitely give it a go! Have you stayed in hostels before?

Much Love

xoxo

P.s all photography in this post is not my own (found through Google) as I didn’t feel comfortable taking pictures when I was sharing with people I didn’t know.