Views for days in the Cotswolds

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A few weeks ago we were supposed to be jetting off to Italy to spend a long weekend eating carbs, looking at architecture, eating carbs, sauntering around with ice creams, eating carbs, drinking Aperol and eating carbs. We didn’t make it to Italy. We didn’t make it anywhere near Italy – however we did have some carbs, so not all was lost.

The theme of ‘very stressful’ that early 2017 took on continued and we couldn’t leave the country as we were so close to completing on our flat. So instead of pizza feasting, we loaded up our car and drove to the Cotswolds. I’ve always wanted to go to this little part of England with it’s ancient cottages and beautiful little streets but it never surfaced to the top of the travel list until we needed a two hour-ish drive, countryside, nice views and fresh air on tap with very little notice. Praise the Gods of Airbnb.


Out of all of the UK staycations and long weekends I’ve been on, this was the most serene. I was worried it would be a bit busy (and a couple of the bigger tourist destinations were) but it was peaceful to the point of feeling like you were on another planet. The sun shone for three days, there were lambs everywhere, flowers growing in every space available and we walked for miles without seeing more than a couple of people. I cannot recommend it highly enough if you want a quick, easy escape in the south of the country. It’s also a photography dream. Note though, you need a car!

If you go you must visit:

Cerney House Gardens – One of the most peaceful places I have ever been and a hidden gem. Our Airbnb owners directed us here, and we arrived to no noise but birds, gardens brimming with every kind of flower imaginable, blossom everywhere, shady woods to walk through and a kitchen full of brownies and tea.

Upper and Lower Slaughter – These two villages are about a 25 minute walk apart through winding country lanes and are easily the prettiest places I’ve been to in England. The houses are like something from a classic fairytale, there’s a river running through surrounded by flowers and full of ducks, there are blossom trees, brightly painted doors, little bridges and the tiniest of cafes and cake shops dotted about.

Bibury -This is where you’ll see the classic Cotswolds postcard row of cottages. in the middle photo at the top. It’s impossibly cute here, and though it was full of tourists when we went (22 degrees heat in April will do that to a place) it’s a sort of must visit.

Calmsden – You likely won’t see Calmsden coming up on any lists of must-see places in the Cotswolds, but we stayed near here and it’s stunning. It was deserted, surrounded by fields of flowers, crops and farm animals and had the prettiest little houses imaginable. You can also stroll through here to The Bathhurst Arms, a pastel pink pub sat by a little river and eat chips, which is pretty much Sunday perfection.

Bourton-on-the-Water – Also known as Little Venice in this part of the world. For all your cafe, tea rooms, ice cream, river front, Instagram and Sunday roast needs. This is a little village surrounded by rivers and bridges, and famous for having a model village that has a model village (I know). As gorgeous as it was here, the hot weather brought out pretty much every person in the region so it was very busy, but still worth a little visit just to enjoy the views.

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14 things to do, eat, drink and see in Brighton


Brighton is my boyfriend’s home town so I’ve spent a lot of time there over the past five years and it’s one of my favourite places.  It makes the seaside seem effortlessly cool and there’s endless amounts to do, not just a pier and pubs- though take a good amount of time for the glorious pub scene, you won’t find much else to rival it. Here’s some stuff you should find time for:

1) Visit the famous Lanes and look at all the pretty jewels in shop windows. There’s also loads of little independent shops, sweet shops, craft shops and plenty of pubs. It’s also an Instagram dream if you’re that way inclined.

2) Also go the The Lanes for dinner- particularly if it’s warm enough to sit outside.  I recommend the Giggling Squid for killer Thai food.

3) Eat the best vegetarian food imaginable at Terre A Terre. I’m not veggie but this place is a foodie dream, as are the churros.

4) Take artsy photos of the West Pier ruin.

5) Go to many, many pubs. Brighton has more pubs per square mile than anywhere in the country, so no excuse. My faves are The Mash Tun, Fishbowl and I once spent a good six hours loving life in The Evening Star.

6) Eat all manner of bad-for-you food on the pier. It’s kind of compulsory to go to the pier even just for five minutes. The doughnuts make it worth while.

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7) Get brunch at Kensingtons Balcony Cafe then go shopping in the streets around it. These little streets are lined with vintage shops, second hand clothes sales, stalls selling weird and wonderful jewellery and plenty of seriously good cake and coffee.There’s also a place called Snooper’s Paradise that you should check out just for the experience.

8) Walk around the gardens of the Royal Pavillion. Also prime picnic location if you snag a nice day. You can get a tour of the inside too if it’s not so much of a nice day.

9) Visit Beyond Retro and buy something much cooler than you really are.

10) Go street art spotting.

11) Eat fish and chips in OHSO and watch the sun go down.

12) Go to Choccywoccydoodah and look at chocolate sculptures and probably gain weight through your eyes.


13) Get tea, cake or breakfast at Blackbird Tea Rooms. I like it here because it’s decorated like a Victorian child’s bedroom and because the cake slices are like triple portions.

14) Head into Hove if you get the time, mostly to just admire all the beautiful houses really.

 

6 hidden little corners of London you need to explore

Okay, so they’re not all exactly hidden, but I didn’t know about these places until the last year or so. The more I spend my weekends aimlessly wandering around London, the more I realise how much aimless wandering there is left to do. I’ve never lived outside of zone 4, but I still find new places all the time. My favourite way to find them is to just stumble upon them on walks, but if I want to head off with a plan, I always turn to Instagram. It’s my favourite travel tool for looking up hidden gems, even in my home city. If you find yourself with a day spare to spend out on the streets of London town, I highly recommend these little gems.

1) Shooters Hill

In all fairness, this place is quite out of the way, and until I went there recently I’d never even been to this part of London. It’s out past Woolwich, and if you’re into views, then it’s worth the trip. There’s also a little builders tea cafe looking out on acres of green a couple of minutes walk from the hill where you can get coffee, ice cream and toasties. We were visiting a friend’s new flat by Woolwich station, so we went here first (it’s a very short bus ride from the town centre), and then I decided I kind of wanted to live there because there were loads of lovely whitewashed houses with flowers everywhere, and this view just casually hanging out in the background. Hiya London.

2) St Dunstan In The East

This is one of my favourite little corners of the whole of London. Secretly nestled inside the city, not far from Monument Station, are the ruins of a bombed out church. It’s SO cool. There’s nothing to do here but look and take photos, but we went on a Saturday mid-morning and it was so peaceful. It’s been planted with vines and lots of greenery so it looks like something totally lost in time, and pretty amazing when sun shines on it. So worth taking ten minutes to pass by, especially on a really sunny day.

3) More London

Good for lunch, very central, and quiet enough on a weekend when the surrounding offices are empty to hang out without feeling trapped by thousands of tourists. It’s also a good cut through between London Bridge and  Tower Bridge and has a weird little urban stream running through it. Oh and there’s a Leon’s.

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4) Hay’s Galleria

My Friday night haunt last summer for post-work night drinks. This place is like a little square, under cover, with a giant fountain, bars, places to eat, cafes and market stalls in the day. It also looks out across the river directly on the city and has lots of twinkly lights at night. Balls Brothers is worth a visit, plus they do a really good cocktail happy hour AND you can play petanque- seriously, look it up.

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5) Bermondsey Street

If money were no object and I could just casually drop a mil on a nice little studio flat like a Kardashian or something, this is where I would do it. I love it so much. As far as streets go, it’s got everything. Quirky little cafes, bottomless brunches, independent book shops, restaurants, flower stalls and it’s not manic, despite being so connected to so many big tourist hot spots, like Tower Bridge. I need to get super rich and live here.

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6) Shad Thames

Another place I wouldn’t mind living if I happened to find a fortune on the floor one day. Around the Tower Bridge area, this is like a little series of alleys containing the coolest looking flats, connected by walkways in the air. I went here not long ago with my friend for tea and cake (important business) and then went back about four times just to walk around and look at all the little wine and produce shops and peek-a-boo views of Tower Bridge.

10 reasons Wales should be your next mini-break


I’ve become a bit obsessed with seeing as much of the UK as I possibly can in the past year. I spend a disproportionate amount of time on Air B&B looking up cottages and googling ‘most scenic beaches’ because why the Hell not? It’s all here and it’s all a car journey away (unless you go to Skye which I class as a MEGA car journey).

Last week I hauled myself and 7 friends to the most insanely beautiful converted barn in Pembrokeshire, Wales. We went armed with a magnum of prosecco, trainers, Biscoff and erm, a drone.

I can’t exactly say the four days went entirely to plan (I’ve now experienced Welsh A&E and been supportive in a Welsh emergency dentist) but it was bloody lovely anyway. I’d only ever been to Cardiff before for a ‘how many jaeger bombs can we drink in 48 hours’ sort of affair, so it was well and truly time to see some countryside and go to some of the beaches my mum has been telling me about for years.


I mean, Wales really does know how to do a beach. Between walking across sand freezing our limbs off, shouting “AWWWW” at lambs, marvelling at the price of a pint and breathing in a lot of fresh air, I decided I need to live by the sea at some point in my life. For the time we were on beaches, it was the sort of cold where your start to wonder if you still have a nose and how you’ll ever be able to grip anything, but I sort of kind of like cold beach days. I don’t know who I am either.

So yeah basically, two big fat thumbs up to Wales and you should totally go and actually stay in the exact adorable barn complex we were in. It had UNDERFLOOR HEATING and the dining table of dreams. Eat your heart out Cribs. If you like really nice photos and being super nosey this photo blog of the whole trip is here.

Here’s a few more reasons to get booking a dreamy little country break:

1) Beaches that look like something straight out of your dreams with no litter, no crowding, no pollution and the cleanest, bluest looking sea. Barafundle beach should be advertised as somewhere to go and clean out your soul and mind and become a better a person. It’s better looking than any Kardashian and you have to trek down a sandy cliff path to get there after passing through a stone arch. Life.


2) Daffodills. Everywhere.

3) Spring will never ever be cuter. Wales has a lot sheep, you probably guessed. Lots of sheep mean lots of baby sheep and while I’m not one for trying to touch or hug farm animals, they’re pretty bloody adorable to watch from a safe distance with a latte.

4) You can go to Dobby’s final resting place. This was pretty much the most exciting part of the whole 4 days. I was looking up good places for sunsets and came across photos of Freshwater West beach. One of my pals googled it and it tuns out it’s where the HP crew filmed Dobby’s funeral. All of the feels. We went there at sunset and climbed all over the sand dunes and I’ve never been anywhere more peaceful. If you love HP and  you like sand, I can highly recommend.

5) There’s no end of amazing looking converted barns. I’ve never stayed in a barn before, but I will be putting it high on my agenda to do more often. I don’t know if saying I really, really like wooden beams is the lamest thing ever, but I care not. I really REALLY like them.

6) You’ll never find more pastel coloured houses anywhere. Why don’t more places paint their houses? It makes everything so much nicer. And much more instagram-worthy.


7) Tenby. Maybe the cutest seaside town I’ve ever laid my eyes on.

8) The amount of sand dunes. You can’t be unhappy on a sand dune.

9) Wales apparently has more castles per-square mile than anywhere else in the UK. I don’t feel like you can dislike castles.

10) The sunsets. I tried and tested and can confirm they’re solid, 10/10 sunsets.  

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Why you should book a winter staycation in the UK… Like right now 

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It’s cold outside. It’s late October. It’s dark before 6pm. Let’s call it winter.

What do you want to do? Go away? Have a holiday? Not be at work? CORRECT.

I’m as much into sun, beaches, pool side cocktails and all that other holiday jazz as the next person, but there’s more to travel than getting tanned and being miles away from home as I have discovered in the past couple of years.

Not so long ago I would have told you where to go if you suggested a staycation to me… I probably would have put you directly in the sea if you further suggested I do it in winter. HOWEVER, it turns out jetting off to tropical climates and beach resorts isn’t the be all and end all. There are actually other ways to holiday.

Who knew?

We have a lot going on in this United Kingdom of ours, and we should learn to ignore it less. I have friends who have always sung the praises of choosing to travel around the UK rather than further afield and while I’ll never stop globe trotting, I can finally see their point. The UK is bloody glorious. It’s got everything you could want in stunning views, pub experiences, sporting activities, cottage stays, camping locations, amazing roads to drive, cities to tour and sunsets to Instagram the hell out of. Or just look at. That works too.

We’ve also got heritage sights on top of heritage sights, the National Trust, a shed load of history and every sort of landscape you imagine.

If you want some winter sun I have some good recommendations, but how about staying here, doing it for a good price and being all blown away and amazed and refreshed? Very good. You absolutely should.

Since the rise of air B&B, the staycation has become a lot more enticing. You can check into cosy cottages or big, magazine worthy homes in idyllic locations for amazing prices. The more of you that are in on the trip, the better the price will be.

These sorts of trips have provided me with the most amazing views, sunsets, pub lunches, relaxing weekends and actually, been really educational without being a total bore. It’s nice to see more and know more about the country you live in. We don’t do it enough here, and that’s probably a lot down to lack of suitable beach days, which is why you may as well do it in winter.

Prices are likely to be lower, you can drink endless cups of tea, light fires, lay around under blankets, go in search of snow, prance around in your thermals on mountains and you can get there in your mates car and split the cost of petrol.

I’m never going to put a dampener on anyone’s enthusiasm to jet off to sun. NEVER. In fact I would like you to take me with you, but if you are looking to get away this winter, try staying here. It can work out rather beautifully.


  

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28 things Londoners just don’t have time for

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1) People who just keep on tapping that oyster card despite the fact it clearly isn’t working. MOVE ALONG.

2) 5 minute waits between tubes. They should arrive every 3 minutes at the most to minimise head-to-armpit touching.

3) Suitcases in rush hour on public transport.

4) The queue that ends in Northern France in all express supermarkets around 12:30pm everyday. Lunchtime in London Bridge Sainsburys? No thanks.

5) Panic about smog. We know, we aren’t blind.

6) People giving out weird things that isn’t free food at tube stations. If it’s edible, gimme, if it’s not DON’T COME NEAR ME.

7) Cafes that don’t accept card payments.

8) The District line. I can’t even.

9) ‘Severe delays through Clapham Junction’

10) People who say ‘Can you move down please, I can see 4 millimeters of space over there.’

11) Pigeons with no fear.

12) Being thrown off a night bus because someone has vomited.

13) Leicester Square on Saturday nights.

14) Being reminded of the house prices and how little financial stability the future holds.

15) Boris Johnson.

16) That emirates Air line thing. What even?

17) People who stop to photograph The Shard in peak times, slap bang in the middle of the pavement. ON AN IPAD.

18) Another block of luxury apartments that normal Londoners can barely afford to walk past.

19) Missing the last tube.

20) The wait for the ‘last tube’ scenario to no longer be a thing.

21) Really sitting down and thinking about the price of travel. Why would you do that to your mental health?

22) The tropical heat of the Central Line.

23) Signal Failure.

24) Paper travel cards.

25) The Thames Clipper.

26) The wait for lifts at Covent Garden tube station.

27) The regret of taking the stairs at Covent Garden tube station.

28) People who dare slag off London despite all of the above. SHUT UP.

Unravelling travelling: Isle of Skye

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So, if someone had said to me a year ago that I would be going on holiday to Scotland, I would have laughed it off. I am very much a beach, palm tree, cocktails from coconuts and boat trips kinda person. I love travelling, and I do it as much as possible. If I ever go to somewhere not necessarily hot and beachy, it’s a city break. However, my boyfriend is really into this guy who rides a bike and does all these really cool tricks and stuff (not sure what the technical term is) and I watched one of the YouTube videos (you should too, it’s impressive).

Basically, I got completely obsessed by the scenery in the video and how amazing the place looked, and decided I needed to go. One group Facebook chat convo, an Air B&B search and meeting at the pub later, a trip to the Isle of Skye had been booked. Now, if you’re looking for a short break, somewhere you can get to fairly cheaply and just seriously chill out, eat food, look at scenery or go on walks, go here.

It is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful. I wish I was as good looking as Skye. Everything from the drive up through the highlands to the view from the house we stayed in was amazing. I can’t actually get over how many incredible views we took in. It’s the most Instagram-worthy trip I’ve been on, so if you’re into photography or just love spamming social media with ‘LOOK WHERE I AM’ photos, you will love Skye.

There are a few things to take into consideration, one being, if you are in the south, it is FAR. You can fly to Inverness, but it’ still 200 miles to Skye from the airport. You can also get a train, but ultimately you need a car. The drive from London is 11 hours. A lot of things can happen in 11 hours in a car, believe me. One of them being mass consumption of calories and a second is a serious leak of jalapenos making the car and all passengers smell like nachos. However, sitting still for so long and singing to patchy Radio 1 is worth it when you can pull over in Glencoe to views like this:

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The other thing to remember is that in winter, nothing is really open. Most pubs only serve food after five apart from a Saturday, and a lot of tours and shops are closed. If you don’t mind the outdoors though, it just does’t matter. There is so much you can do. We went with a few ideas in our minds from looking on Trip Advisor, and ended up doing lots of walking and generally roaming around being intrepid and feeling like we were in Lord of the Rings. Oh and drinking whiskey and vodka and playing Cards Against Humanity, obviously.

The Fairy Pools- This involved a long walk, including jumping over rivers, climbing and getting stuck in bogs. All in the name of fun right? I did get a bit stuck getting across a river and had to have two friends help me, so I won’t quit my job and become a hobit just yet. The pools are seriously pretty. The waterfalls and pools are SO clear it’s like something from a fairy tale.

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Old Man of Storr- I saw a lot of photos of this place from the summer looking generally magical and like Middle Earth, however we were treated to a snowy, misty, eerie view, which was actually pretty cool. It’s quite a full on incline walk but if you consider the good it’s doing to your bum, it’s not so bad. You get amazing views of lochs and hills the higher you get, and going in winter meant we were the only people around (apart from a hardy old couple who lectured me about life), making it seem really other-worldly.

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Elgor- This was one of my favourite parts of the trip. After going on a long walk we ended up falling in a pub called The Old Inn, which sells bloody incredible burgers, and being instructed by the lovely owner to go check out sunset at Elgol. This involved actual, literal sunset chasing. We had forty minutes to race there before sundown, and it was totally worth it. The most gorgeous sunset followed by purple and pink skies with a backdrop of snowy mountains. Dreamy

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Niest Point- This is as far north as Alaska, and the temperature confirms that. Freezing. Like, slap in the face, can’t breathe freezing. It was all made better by the fact it looked like Jurassic Park and there were just sheep EVERYWHERE. It was a sheep safari. Again, being low season, we didn’t lay eyes on anyone but a lone farmer herding about 100 sheep down a hillside.IMG_1689

I would actually recommend going to Skye in low season, basically November- Easter. There’s something really mystical about the whole place, and the lack of people make it seem even more remote. We heard that in summer the tourist spots get really busy, which would take away from the whole Middle Earth feel. There’s also the Talisker Whiskey Distillery to visit, which is open all year apart from the silent period, when they do maintenance for two weeks. It’s good for wildlife too, we saw an actual seal being all lethargic on a rock and an eagle, Dr Dolittle eat your heart out. As long as you don’t mind spending time outdoors and aren’t a wimp when it comes to weather, you’ll have a grand old time. For total relaxation, scenery porn, walking, fresh air and a break from the norm, you couldn’t pick a better location. Just stock up on good food, bring some walking boots, a waterproof coat and a sat-nav.

Oh and the house had a telescope so you could look out at the sea at the bottom of the garden, just FYI.

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