Tag: holidays

2018 travel plans

I like to always have at least one trip planned or booked in advance, which is why it’s very rare for me to enter a New Year without knowing what some of our travel plans will be for the coming 12 months. 2018 is no exception!

2018 travel plans

These are the trips we have booked so far:

March – North Wales
The official reason for the trip is that we’re going to the 2 day Hard Rock Hell festival in Pwllhelli (staying in a caravan, yay!) but it makes sense to have a little nosy round while we’re up there. Despite having been to the event a couple of times before we’ve never visited Criccieth castle which is just a few miles away, so that’s one for this year, and of course some bracing sea air in a walk along the beach.

Criccieth Castle

We’ll catch up with friends, watch bands and ask ourselves why it’s been such a long time since our last caravan break – we love them!

May – Palma, Majorca
Taking advantage of the early May Bank Holiday, we’re going to Palma for 3 nights and my Mother in Law is coming with us. We’ve been on short trips with her before and she’s a great travel companion – she wants to see everything but isn’t a control freak (that will be me, then) so she goes with the flow and doesn’t question my itinerary (I’m making it sound like a bootcamp!) I haven’t been to Majorca since I was a little girl, and that was a beach holiday with my Mom and Dad, so I’m looking forward to exploring the capital city, wandering through the gothic quarter, oohing at the cathedral and eating tapas.

Palma de Mallorca

We’ll also get out of the city for a day and take a train to Port de Soller and possible Valldemossa. Temperatures should be nice without being too hot, and I’ve booked us into a 16th century traditional hotel with a rooftop view over the Cathedral. Happy days!

September – Athens and Santorini, Greece
When the husband and I got together almost 13 years ago, we used to talk about Santorini and how beautiful it looked and how much we’d like to go there. Yet somehow, in all this time, we’ve never got round to it, even though it’s on my list of top 5 places I’d like to visit . So, for our 10th wedding anniversary this coming September, we’re spending a week on the island, with a few days in Athens first (Athens was on my 2nd list of places I’d like to visit!)

Athens

We’ll fly from Birmingham to Athens, enjoy visiting historical sights, wandering the streets of Plaka (the district where we’re staying) and of course fantastic Greek food, before a 45 minute flight to Santorini where we’re staying in Oia (many of the photographs you see of Santorini on websites and in travel brochures are taken in Oia; it’s a beautifully picturesque town built into the side of the volcanic crater with stunning white and blue domed buildings).

Santorini

There’s lots to see on the island so we’ll need to get the balance right between doing and chilling but, being in Oia, we’ll get the very best sunsets every night!. Definitely having some lazing by the pool days, but also keen to get down into the caldera, maybe take a boat trip to appreciate the scale of the volcanic crater, and visit some of the smaller traditional villages.

So excited!

The trouble with loving travel is prioritising where to go next, as there’s always somewhere else on your list (hence why it’s taken us so long to get to Santorini!) I’d like to squeeze in another overseas break but the husband doesn’t like to tie up all his annual leave, and he keeps talking about spending time at home now that we have a lovely private garden to enjoy.

In truth, with 2018’s main trips already wrapped up (unless I get my way!), I’m already thinking ahead to 2019…

What trips do you have planned so far? Or where would you like to go? I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks, as always, for reading. x

The Travel Tag

I was thinking just the other day how I haven’t done a Q&A tag post in ages, and then the lovely Tina from Tea is for Tina tagged me in this one. You can read Tina’s answers here.

If it’s that easy to influence the future then please could someone give me a million pounds? Ta!

Anyway, onto the questions, and my responses!

You are leaving tomorrow to start a life in a new country, where would you go?

I think it would have to be the US. There’s no language barrier and the country is so big and varied that you could holiday and travel there and see so much. Internal flights are pretty cheap and as convenient as catching a bus. I’d base myself in the Los Angeles area for the great climate, and plan visits to New York, Dallas, Nashville, Niagra Falls and Miami, and a return to San Francisco, as a matter of priority.

You can take someone for a weekend away to the place you had the best holidays ever, where would that be and who would you take to go with you?

It would probably be the West Hollywood neighbourhood of Los Angeles, with the husband. We’ve been there 4 times and had some amazing experiences. Even though we’ve done it all before, every single time has been fabulous, and would be a pleasure to recreate.

This would be my schedule:

Saturday – We’d stay at the Mondrian on Sunset, as usual, and have breakfast at Mel’s Drive-In (which is the coolest 50s American diner ever, check out the photos!), go to Griffiths Observatory for the planetarium show and the views, spend the afternoon by the hotel pool, have early evening sushi at Katana (the first place I ever tried sushi, and it was amazing!) and Happy Hour frozen margaritas at Cabo Cantina then shower and change before heading down to Sunset Strip for drinks at the Whisky a Go Go, maybe catch a band, then grab a booth at The Rainbow and eat one of their amazing pizzas.

Sunday – bottomless mimosas and a breakfast burrito at The Saddle Ranch, then bus down to Santa Monica, wander round the pier and go on the big wheel, hire bikes and cycle to Venice Beach, look around all the stalls and talk to the crazy people, back to Santa Monica for a bit of shopping and some late lunch, then back to We-Ho to play rock music on the jukebox at the Rainbow, maybe get another photo with Ron Jeremy and then finish the night with burgers and milkshakes in Mel’s.

(all photos by me or the husband between 2010 and 2012)

God that’s made me miss LA!

You can get married wherever you want to, your budget is limitless, what is your choice?

We got married on a beach in Mauritius which was pretty damn special, and I wouldn’t change that in any way.

mauritius-beach-wedding

I’d quite like to do a renewal of vows in Las Vegas though, officiated by Elvis!

las-vegas-elvis-wedding

During your travels you can bring back home one animal as a pet, which one would you pick?

A panda. No doubt. They’re so cute and playful and cuddly. And naughty – watch this video to see my point!

I don’t know why I don’t have one as a pet already.

You can get back in time and relive one family trip, which one?

A week in Greece with my Dad. I blogged about it here. Things were pretty fraught between us after my parents’ divorce and the holiday not only fixed our Dad and daughter relationship but strengthened it no end. Plus the location and food and climate was just so idyllic and beautiful – I’ve actually been back 3 times since.

What is the first thing you would pack for a one year travel around the world?

My passport! Duh!

What would your fantasy 100th birthday destination be, and why?

I don’t want to live to 100. Sorry to be miserable, but it would be too sad going somewhere and not being able to do everything it had to offer.

During your travel you can learn one sport to become a pro, what would that be?

I’m not a sporty person at all and don’t really crave to be, but it would be nice to be able to surf. Or maybe snowboard.

I lack the coordination to ever be able to do either!

Plus surfing is so wet, and snowboarding is so cold.

Does drinking sangria until I fall over count as a sport?

me-drinking-sangria

Now it’s your turn! I tag anyone who wants to get involved! Specifically Danni Jane at A Beautiful Thing, Hailey at The Undateable Girl’s Diary, Ellen at What Ellen Wrote and Emmalene from A Brummie Home and Abroad because they all love travel.

But if you’re reading this and want to complete the questions yourself then please do so! Make sure you leave the link to your answers in the comments, so I can be nosy!

Here are the questions:

  • You are leaving tomorrow to start a life in a new country, where would you go?
  • You can take someone for a weekend away to the place you had the best holidays ever, where would that be and who would you take to go with you?
  • You can get married wherever you want to, your budget is limitless, what is your choice?
  • During your travels you can bring back home one animal as a pet, which one would you pick?
  • You can get back in time and relive one family trip, which one?
  • What is the first thing you would pack for a one year travel around the world?
  • What would your fantasy 100th birthday destination be, and why?
  • During your travel you can learn one sport to become a pro, what would that be?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

When Britain Bites… (Twit of the Day)

When I was in Greece (I know, I know, I’ll talk about something else soon, honest!) I only got bitten 3 times during the whole week, and even then they didn’t cause me any bother at all.

On Tuesday night I got bit in my own bed a total of 10 times! In one night! By one lone ranger insect!

I know it was a lone ranger because I both spotted it and heard it. It started in the lounge and must have followed me to bed (stalker). I could hear it bouncing off the walls and buzzing around but I naively thought you don’t get mosquitoes in England (I’ve since been advised that you do). So when the husband told me there was a mosquito buzzing around, I poo-pooed him as one may brush off a silly child and went to sleep.

Now who feels silly? I’m my own twit of the day!

A twit for not trying to catch the blighter. A twit for thinking I wouldn’t be bitten. And a twit for being so uncovered in bed. I even have a bite on my right bum cheek!

What’s worse is that they’re the itchy type and they’re swelling. I don’t need any help with my bum cheeks getting bigger, thank you very much!

Itch

We were on holiday a few years ago (in Greece again, actually) and it was incredibly hot so I slept butt naked on top of the sheets. I woke up one morning to find not one but three mozzie bites right in my bum crack!! One must have flown in there and bounced around trying to bite his way out. It was pretty uncomfortable, and it’s not really the done thing to be walking around scratching the depths of your arse in public. And antihistamine cream down there isn’t particularly nice either…

Have you got any funny bite stories?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

A week in Greece

I’ve finally just about emerged from the fuzzy fug surrounding my week in Finikounda and the inevitable readjustment to real life so I thought I’d tell you all about it.

If you read my last “first of the month” post, you’ll know that I love Greece.

If you didn’t read it, here’s a précis. I love Greece. The people, the pace of life, the food, the climate. All of it. It’s probably my holiday destination of choice for a summer break.

This time we chose a new (to us) destination; a small Greek village on the Messinian Peninsula called Finikounda. We chose it knowing it was tiny, with one supermarket, one cash machine and a handful of restaurants. We chose it knowing that there were no loud bars or crazy watersports. We chose it knowing that the village is little more than one main street with a few shops and the demographic is largely Greek families holidaying and older people relaxing. And we loved it for all of those reasons.

We stayed at a relatively new aparthotel called Tsokas Hotel which was about 5 minutes walk from the beach. Unusually for Greek accommodation it was very modern; with large open plan bedrooms fully stocked with a small kitchenette, air conditioning, a power shower and a large balcony. With only 15 apartments overall the feeling was intimate and relaxed, with no fighting for sunbeds or noisy guests. The hotel has a lovely kidney shaped pool which was a godsend in the incredibly hot weather (it was 35 degrees wen we arrived on Sunday lunchtime) and by late afternoon it was like dipping into cool bath water. Bliss.

So, what did we do? Pretty much nothing! We I had hoped to go and visit a nearby town with venetian castle ruins, but in truth it was so ruddy hot that that the thought of doing full on sightseeing was too much to bear! So we settled into a delightful routine of breakfast in the apartment, lounge by the pool, walk to the village for lunch, an afternoon nap for me, a spot more sunbathing and then dinner in a different restaurant in the village. It was the perfect antithesis to the real world and, because every day was something of a mirror image, the time lapsed slowly in a delightful blur of nothingness – a feeling of complete escapism where the only thing that mattered was what to eat for dinner and whether to have a quarter or half litre of wine at lunch. We weren’t back at the hotel later than 11pm any night, and were fast asleep by midnight at the latest!

If you follow me on instagram you’ll have already seen a lot of these pictures, but in case you don’t (you should, by the way!) and also to indulge myself and relive the delightful memories, here are some snaps from our week.

Would I go back? In a heartbeat! There’s something quite comforting in knowing you have a destination in your travel bag that you can 100% rely on when you need a certain kind of holiday. Plus there are still all the things and places that we didn’t manage to visit last week to bring a different dimension to the trip when we go again.

Do you have a favourite country to holiday?

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

The Happiness Tag

Now that my head has stopped rebelling against happiness (so dramatic!) I thought it was time for something lighthearted to lift the mood. That’s not to ignore the terrible stuff that has happened since (RIP Jo Cox) but sometimes humour is needed in the depths of despair.

On that note, I  was tagged by the lovely Dannii Jane at A Beautiful Thing to talk about things that make me happy. So here we go!

Happiness!

The rules for this tag are simple. List 5 things that make you happy, 5 songs that make you happy and then nominate 5 bloggers to complete this tag.

5 things that make me happy

  • Sunshine. Instantly lifts my mood and makes me a nicer, happier person (and easier to live with too!)
  • A really good meal. That sense of yummy enjoyment when food is speaking to your very soul.
  • Holidays. Planning them, but more so going on them! Seeing stuff, visiting places, taking photos, lying on a beach – I love everything about getaways.
  • My balcony in summer. I love planning colour schemes and potting new plants, watching them grow.
  • Singing along to powerful songs – the likes of Mariah and Whitney – trying for (and missing!) the high notes and doing the whole fist grab warbly diva thing!

5 songs that make me happy

  • Chris Isaak – Wicked Game

This song reminds me of my husband, we used to listen to it loads when we first got together and it reminds me of that time.

  • Motley Crue – Smokin in the Boys Room

This was always the first song I put on the jukebox in the many nights we spent in the Rainbow Bar & Grill in West Hollywood, LA. It’s so fun!

    • Temper Trap – Sweet Disposition

I loved this song from the first time I heard it. When we were at the Rolling Stones Hyde Park gig a few years ago I was running round trying to find some friends who’d travelled separately (Hi Cookie and Sadie!) We kept missing each others calls and texts and struggled to get in touch due to poor signal and then I found them when this song was playing. I will always always remember it for that.

  • Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Summertime

The ultimate summer song and one that never fails to make me stop what I’m doing, smile, dance and singalong. I truly believe it’s the best summer song ever! You know I’m right!

  • Finally, a very unseasonal one! Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas is You

I can’t listen to this without singing. I sing it so badly and I don’t even care, that’s part of the fun! It’s the ultimate Christmas song that I also do a weird hybrid pirouette dance when I hear it at home to make the husband laugh. For that reason he plays it on purpose when I’m doing other stuff, because he knows I’ll drop everything and come and dance in the lounge!

I’m actually not going to nominate anyone specific because I don’t want to put anyone on the spot, but if you’re reading this and it sounds fun then please get involved! And don’t forget to leave me a note in the comments with a link to your post so I can check out your answers.

Happy Friday and thanks, as always, for reading! x

5 things I go through after I’ve been on holiday

A week ago I was in Lanzarote. I already had a drink in my hand and was sitting by the pool.

Now I’m at work and cold. Pah.

Welcome to reality

(image from The Beijinger)

Here are 5 things I always go through after I’ve been away from home.

Denial
It’s not over yet. It’s not over til I get home. It’s not over until it’s bed time. I’m not going to bed, because then it will be over. I DON’T WANT IT TO BE OVER!!!

Alcohol withdrawal
What do you mean I can’t have a glass of wine with lunch?

Hunger
Why do I have to wait until lunchtime to eat? Why am I only having one course for dinner? WHERE’S MY DESSERT???

Tiredness
Why is my alarm going off? When can I have an afternoon nap? Why aren’t siestas compulsory?

Memory loss
End of first day/half day/hour back at work – have I ever even been away?

Already counting down to the next one!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Holiday vs travel

I love travel. Not travelling. There’s a distinct difference between the two, not least the length and breadth of the trip! I say this, as I know there are travel purists who think that you’re only a traveller if you take a backpack, a dog-eared map and sleep in hostels. Staying in a hotel doesn’t count.

To me, travel is seeing things, experiencing new cultures, eating local food, soaking up atmosphere and language and local customs, visiting must see sights, taking photos and creating memories. It’s ok to bring shampoo and many pairs of shoes. There isn’t a pre-requisite that you should only spend £3 a day on meals and travel cross country on the floor of a train, as far as I’m concerned. There’s a lot of snobbery around “travelling”.

Travel is amazing in a mind blowing, eye opening, life affirming, head expanding, wow kind of way. Even if you do have 2 showers a day and eat at nice restaurants while you’re doing it.

But sometimes it’s ok to just have a holiday. To do little more than eat, sleep, drink, lounge, read, laugh, snooze, wander and repeat.

Passports

I’ve just had a lovely holiday in Lanzarote. Didn’t see any of the island, but that’s ok. We spent quality family time, got some sunshine, my Mom had a great birthday, and I feel relaxed.

At least I did until a 3 hour flight delay on the way home (thanks, French air traffic control, you swines). And some unexpected health news from my mother in law. And my sister’s boyfriend being attacked by 3 men in the street, while she was with him.

Real life sucks.

But that’s the thing about real life. You have to return to it sooner or later, whether you’ve been away for an extended holiday, a week, a few days, or even just a weekend.

Welcome home to me!

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

The life/enjoyment balance

I never say no to doing stuff on the grounds of no money. I never have (that’s how I ended up with almost £5k credit card debt and a part time second job in a pub when I was in my mid 20s – a great life lesson in getting into, and out of, debt). I’m very afraid of missing out and feeling regret. I’m very of the mindset that life is for living, you can’t take it (it being money) with you, and other clichés which justify my commitment to spending (or occasionally overspending) all of my wages each month.

It’s not all about money. Of course most things have a cost associated with them, but there’s also the time factor. I worked out that between now and the end of November we only have 4 free weekends. Not all our weekends are full from beginning to end. But there are only 4 where we have absolutely nothing to do. And that scares me a little! The commitment of having to be somewhere or do something can be overwhelming at times, especially during a busy week when all you want to do when the weekend arrives is sit in front of the TV in pyjamas.

Life balance

This weekend of chilling at home has made me remember that time doing nothing is as precious as time doing stuff.

It just so happens that lots of things fall together. There are special birthday parties and weddings. There are bands that we want to see who don’t play very often (or, in the case of Motley Crue, ever again) who we feel we can’t miss. There are places to visit and things to see and the need for a holiday to relax that we also need to squeeze into the equation. And all of these things, and the fear of missing out, have led to an overstretch of money and time this year.

It doesn’t help that we have both changed jobs – husband through choice and me through the necessity of redundancy. We have both taken salary drops, not massive, but enough to make a difference. In real terms – happiness, and commute, and job security – we are richer for it. In disposable income terms, we’re not!

I’m very much a want-it-all type of person. I think many people are these days. And I can see no better use of money and time than travelling the world. Making memories. Having experiences that you will enjoy not only at the time, but in years to come. I have never craved a big house, I prefer to invest my money in enjoyment rather than bricks and mortar (oh, and in my wardrobe too!). I’m already thinking ahead to next year, and what to do and where to go on holiday. Always wanting more.

Maybe it’s an only child thing (any excuse to not take responsibility for my own actions!)

At some point, something will have to give. Our home has taken a back seat to our travels in the last couple of years but, having lived there for 10 years, it’s in need of some TLC – which is going to need the time and money that are currently in such short supply! So if bands could stop touring, and friends could stop getting married, and people could postpone their birthdays – just for a few months next year – I’d be most grateful.