Month: March 2016

Days out: Glastonbury

One of the things I dislike about winter is not being able to get out and about. Sure you can still do stuff, but it’s not much fun when it’s freezing cold with the threat of rain or snow and your extremities feel like they’re going to drop off.

The husband and I have been craving a change of scene and some fresh air, so with the promise of a dry and bright Saturday, we headed off to Glastonbury.

I’ve never been to Glastonbury before, and only know of it due to the music festival. I’d heard that it was hippy and mystical but knew nothing else about it. A quick Tripadvisor search told us that Glastonbury Tor and Glastobury Abbey were must sees.

Off we went down the motorway, getting super excited as the car temperature gauge crept ever higher, at one point reaching the heady heights of 10 degrees! It started to drop as we neared our destination, and was no more than 6 degrees and overcast as we parked up in Glastonbury and prepared to climb the Tor.

Glastonbury Tor is a bloody big hill, 525ft high, steeped in history and legend. At the top is what’s left of St Michael’s tower, dating back to the 15th century. Stuff like that blows my mind. It’s just so old!

national-trust-glastonbury-tor

There seemed to be multiple approaches to the Tor, and we settled on the one we were told was a gentle approach.

glastonbury-tor-the-gentle-approach

Ha! Either someone was having us on, or I’d hate to see the none gentle approach! Despite the helpful addition of a well trodden path and man made steps, the ascent was challenging at times (remember I’m a non healthy, non exercising, non flexible person). Calves burned. Cheeks burned. Skin flushed from pink to purple. There were multiple stops, huffs and puffs as we powered on through. But we made it!

The views from the top are 360 degrees – apparently you can see 3 counties. It was pretty cool, but still just a view of countryside (I appreciate this makes me a heathen). Maybe because it was cloudy and dull, maybe because we were so high that the wind was howling and I was afraid of falling off and tumbling down the hill, or maybe because I had such bad earache from the blowing gale that I couldn’t properly concentrate, but it wasn’t worth staying up there for very long.

view-from-glastonbury-tor

So I snapped some piccies, marvelled (and not in a good way) at the man who had carried a babe in arms which was howling through it’s pink blanket, wondered why on earth there were names and initials carved into the stone of the historical St Michael’s church (seriously, who does that?!) and headed back down.

Feeling exhilarated and proud of ourselves we walked towards the town to check out the Abbey.

Glastonbury Abbey in it’s current guise dates back to the 1530s, and again is steeped in history. It’s the final burial place of King Arthur (like, wow!) For just £7.60 each (including the optional gift aid donation) we wandered around at leisure looking at the ruins, the history, the grand floorplan, the grounds, the flowers and the museum. It was magnificent. So much history.

The size and scale of the ruins is amazing, and trying to picture it in it’s full glory is mindblowing in itself. The ruins that are still standing are majestic. To think they were built all those years ago, without machinery, scaffolding or architects is fantastic.

The level of detailed carving and sculpture, purely for decorative purposes, must have been such a long process.

Here’s an impression of what it would have looked like before it was ruined.

glastonbury-abbey-artist-impression

Glastonbury town is surprisingly small, but very quirky. Outside of the main street there isn’t really much to see or do, it just kind of drifts off into ordinary nothingness! There are lots of crystal shops, stores selling books about witchcraft and the occult, hippy clothes shops and jewellery shops, with bright frontages, candles, mirrors and fun names.

Through this archway was a little courtyard with some quaint bookstores and a café.

glastonbury-experience

Such a pretty approach and shop.

This wooden face carving was a bit eerie!

glastonbury-wooden-carving

The sculptures were lovely.

See the guy in the blue fleece on the bottom right photo? He was randomly doing some form of tai-chi on his own in the middle of the courtyard. The kind of thing you’d expect in a place like this. Then he stopped and got his mobile phone out! Checking your emails isn’t the height of zen!

After marvelling at all the colours and craziness, we headed home; contended and happy to have had such a great day.

Thanks, as always, for reading!

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A greetings card gripe

March is a busy month for me. Mom’s birthday, Dad’s birthday, sister’s birthday, Mother’s Day, cousin’s birthday and 2 friends’ birthdays.

I have this same thought every time I’m shopping for a greetings card, and with the proliferation needed in March it becomes ever more apparent.

Why are some cards so bloody schmaltzy?

Greetings cards

A lovely card with a pretty illustration and thoughtful verse can be spoilt by something as simple as “thank you for being the perfect/best mother/father/person”.

Why?

In truth it’s bull!

No-one’s a perfect person, or the best person. My Dad isn’t perfect. My Mom isn’t the best Mom in the world. They’re both amazing fantastic people who’ve done so much for me; loved me, encouraged me, made sacrifices for me. But they’re not perfect people. I don’t want them to be perfect people. I want them to be them.

Similarly, I don’t then want a card that tells them they’re the perfect person, or that I think they’re the perfect person, because that’s insincere. I don’t want to tell my sister she’s the best sister in the world. Where does that leave other sisters? Are they rubbish because mine is the best? Are all other Mom’s sub standard because my Mom is perfect? Is my Dad the example on which all other Dad’s should model themselves, and consider themselves a failure if they’re not the same?

Of course not!

I know it’s petty and I’m probably being overly pedantic, but this is my blog for my rants and I wanted to get this off my chest.

Don’t patronise us, card makers. Keep it real, and we can say the things that we mean on our own.

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Orange is the new…yellow?

Dear Dorothy Perkins,

Back to design school with you!

This is not orange.

Dorothy Perkins ruffle front yellow top

Neither is this!

Dorothy Perkins yellow waffle top

Or this!

Dorothy Perkins yellow v-neck blouse

Even allowing for differences in colour representations on computer monitors, there’s no way this can be described as orange! I should know, I’ve seen it in real life.

Dorothy Perkins shirred 70s blouse

Most definitely mustard. Or ochre. And most definitely on my list of spring buys.

Are you building a spring wishlist?

Thanks, as always, for reading!

 

 

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5 top tips for booking a bargain overseas city break

I’ve worn down persuaded the husband that we need to book a city break in early May to take advantage of the bank holiday and “free” time off work. Last year we went to Nice, which you can read about here, here and here. I love an intense short trip to soak up the feel of a city, have a wander round, look at good architecture and of course eat!

Aeroplane

Here are my 5 top tips for planning and booking an overseas break as cost effectively as possible.

1) Have a look where you can get to cheaply. I usually start with the low cost airlines, type in my departure airport and date, and see where they go to and how much it costs. Then have a look on travel sites and find out what there is to do there, and if it interests you. I’ve been to some great places like this that I might not have considered before.

2) Consider travelling a day either side to save money. This is especially true on bank holidays where prices can be expensive to take advantage of the fact that people want to travel Saturday to Monday and not use any extra annual leave.

3) Use Trivago to find the best hotel for your budget. Search the city you’re going to then do a combination of sorting by price and distance from city centre to find out what works for you.

Trivago logo

Are you willing to pay a little more to be closer to the attractions, or are you happy to walk/use public transport in order to get cheaper accommodation? What I would say for this type of break is that there really isn’t any point in booking a fancy hotel. On a short break you need to cram in as much sightseeing as possible and so you won’t spend much time in your room.

4) Use cashback sites to earn money back on your bookings. I use Quidco and have earned quite a lot back over the years – not just on travel but also on general online shopping. You can set notification so that when a retailer increases their cashback rate you’ll get an email. Sometimes a hotel that is slightly more expensive on one site can work out cheaper when you apply the cashback. Hotels.com is a favourite of mine, as they often have 12% cashback offers and, on many of their hotels, you earn a free night for every 10 you stay (you can build them up as you go and the value of the free night will be the average of the 10 booked and paid nights).

5) Remember to add in additional costs – luggage (if you need to check bags in), transfer from the airport, and public transport for getting around your destination all add up. We got to Marseilles once on a really cheap flight, and then found out at the airport taxi rank that a cab to our hotel was going to be about 70 euros, oops! No point getting a bargain flight and then paying double that for your transfer.

Are you a fan of city breaks? Any other top money saving tips I should know about?

Thanks, as always, for reading!

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My first…

I thought I’d start something a little different, with it being the first of the month, and share my first “something” and then perhaps you can share something back and we can all have a good old laugh, or cry, or reminisce or whatever and it will all be grand.

Failing that, I will share my first “something” and you can read it or not read it!

So, for the first in the series…

My first…holiday abroad!

Bucket and spade

I’m firmly in holiday mode now, having planned and booked two trips. I love holidays. I’m always thinking where to go next, looking for good deals, searching city breaks and checking out hotels. There’s nothing I’d rather spend my money on than travelling (although obviously shoes, clothes and food feature heavily in my life too!)

I first went abroad when I was 6 years old. In fact, I first went abroad before my parents! My Nan and Grandad on my Dad’s side always went overseas on holiday, and they asked my Mom & Dad if they could take me. My parents were pretty young when they had me, and money was quite tight for them so they wouldn’t have been able to afford to go themselves. Which makes me feel pretty sad and special and very humbled that they paid for me when they didn’t have much money themselves. That’s love.

My auntie (my Dad’s sister) is just over 2 years older than me, so we grew up together and spent a lot of time together. Going on that holiday to Ibiza, with my Nan and Grandad and young auntie, was such fun. There was (and still is) something different about being on holiday abroad. An attitude, a feeling, a laid back nature that I’ve never known in the UK. Maybe it’s because you know the sun will be shining every day. Or because hotels on the continent are so much more laid back with things like meal times and dress codes, compared to the prim and proper UK B&Bs where breakfast was served between 8.30 and 9 and you were expected to wear long trousers for dinner. I remember the freedom of running around on the beach, playing in the white Balearic sand and paddling in the warm as bath water Mediterranean sea. Staying up until it was way past my bedtime and speaking to strangers who my Nan and Grandad had made friends with. Looking at all the ceramic pots in the market and picking a vase to bring home for my Mom. Being mistaken for twins with my auntie because we were dressed the same and looked so similar. The blue and white bathing suit with the multi colour palm tree that said “Tropicana” on the front. Peeling sunburnt skin off my auntie’s back and her doing the same to me. Eating continental breakfast and trying apricot jam for the first time. The smell of the heat and the warm balmy nights. Fishing with bread like the local fishermen. Seeing a man catch a squid and watching the ink run along the promenade. Being out on a pedalo.

I’m forever thankful to my parents for sacrificing their own enjoyment so that I could have such an experience at such a young age, and for instilling a love of holidays and travel in me that grows stronger with every year that passes.

Share your first holiday memories with me!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

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