Tag: seaside

A weekend in Whitby – part 2

Whitby is easily “doable” on foot, which meant we could park up at our B&B on Saturday and not have to use the car again until we set off for home 2 days later. As I mentioned in my part 1 blog post, Whitby is situated on two sides of the river Esk, with attractions on both East Cliff and West Cliff, and our B&B was on West Cliff, a 5 minute walk from the harbour.

After a chilled Saturday afternoon of fish and chips, ice cream, amusement arcades and a live pub band in the evening, we set off with intent early on Sunday morning to see the sights. It was a beautiful morning with bright blue skies, the sea was sparkling and, with a spring in our step, we crossed the bridge over to the East Cliff side of town and headed for Whitby Abbey.

The cobbled streets were deserted as we followed the signs for the 199 steps which climb to the top of East Cliff, through St Mary’s churchyard, and towards the abbey ruins. I didn’t count the steps on the way up, I was too busy gasping for breath and willing my lungs not to collapse, but I did get a few pics looking over the town.

At the top of the steps the churchyard looms large, with it’s ancient gravestones all worn away and gnarly from years of exposure to the elements of sun, wind and rain. I can imagine it would be quite eerie on a grey day, but the blue sky was perfect for taking some photographs and enjoying the best of the morning.

The Abbey had only been open for about 15 minutes when we arrived, which meant that we pretty much had the place to ourselves. We declined the audio guide, preferring instead just to wander at our own pace and marvel at the sheer size, scale and detail of the architecture. It’s very impressive. I always find things like this pretty mind blowing when you consider how old they are and that modern machinery and construction didn’t exist when they were built. The weather conditions were just perfect for photographs, so I took a lot!

Whitby Abbey

Look, it’s me!

Me at Whitby Abbey

After a slow meander back down through the gravestones and the 199 steps (still not counting!) we crossed over to West Cliff, and headed towards the beach.

At low tide the beach is accessible from sea level, across and round the rocks, but we had to climb up the hill and back down again, much to the sorrow of our already aching lower limbs! The whalebone arch is another Whitby tourist attraction, and is an actual whalebone – the 15ft jaw of a Bowhead whale shared with Whitby from Canada.

Whalebone arch Whitby

Whitby has a history of whaling, whereby all parts of the caught whales were used in industry – skin for leather, blubber for oil, etc; and also has a strong maritime connection, being the home of the infamous Captain Cook who moved to the town as a fishing apprentice in his teens. All of the boats used in his great journeys of discovery were built in Whitby, and there’s a statue of him on the same site as the whalebone arch, looking out to sea.

We were thrilled by the colourful beach huts!

Beach huts Whitby

And stood soaking in the rhythmic to and fro of the sea. It’s just so calming, don’t you think?

There were some crazy people having a paddle; I know I said the weather was unseasonably good, but I can’t imagine the sea would be very pleasant in mid October!

We stopped off to play the 2 pence machines in the amusement arcades – a must on any visit to the seaside – before walking along the pier out towards the sea. Imagine my delight when I saw that the lighthouse was open to the public!

Whitby lighthouse

I’ve never been up a lighthouse, you don’t get many of them in landlocked Birmingham! I gladly handed over my £1.50 (such a bargain, it’s cheaper up North) and began the climb. Not gonna lie, it wasn’t that much fun, it made me very dizzy (it’s a small and narrow lighthouse with nothing but steps inside, so you just go round and round and round) and very out of breath, but it was worth it at the top for 360 degree views across Whitby and out to sea.

There was a hairy moment on the way back down when we had to cross paths with people who were climbing up (think about a very narrow spiral staircase with wedged steps and two humans going in opposite directions) but it was well worth it, and something I will always look back on with a smile.

Feeling like true seamen (snigger) we then decided to follow in Captain Cook’s footsteps and head out on the open water. There are lots of pleasure boat trips moored up on West Cliff offering a 25 minute trip out of the bay for the princely sum of just £3, and we settled on a traditional wooden looking boat with a pirate flag!

The trip was both bracing and informative, with details of Captain Cook’s background, voyages, and eventual demise at the hands of Hawaiian natives in 1779. The boat was a 40% size replica of the Endeavour, used by Cook in his first voyage of discovery to Australia and New Zealand from 1769 to 1771.

We rounded off our day with the most delicious late lunch at the Abbey Wharf restaurant (read about that in my part 1 blog post), enjoying the last of the afternoon sunshine and congratulating ourselves on having the best time!

I would 100% recommend Whitby for a weekend away; there’s enough to do to keep you occupied without feeling overwhelmed or rushed, and the seafood alone is worth the journey.

Plus, it’s very pretty by night too! (photo credit to the husband)

Whitby at night

Whitby harbour at night

Thanks Whitby, we loved you.

Read part 1 of my trip review here.

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

Nature photo challenge – day 3

Here’s my third nature photo.

Seagull drinking a cocktail

I love love LOVE this photo of a cheeky seagull enjoying the remnants of someone’s cocktail! This was taken outside a bar in Paignton on a warm summer night about 10 years ago. Being a seaside town there’s a plethora of seagulls, many of whom are very tame as they’re used to being around people (much to my chagrin; I don’t like birds that fly close to humans). We were having drinks just one table away, when this dude swooped down and started poking his head in the glasses left by the previous table occupants.

Look closely and you’ll see the creamy drink on his beak!

The rules for the 7-day nature photo challenge are simple. Just post your favourite nature photo each day and nominate another blogger everyday, for the next 7 days.

I’ve been nominated by Tou89Lou – pop on over and check her out!

Today I nominate OxfordCottageGardener as she’s very outdoorsy and will no doubt have lots of great pics to share!

Thanks, as always, for reading! x

An afternoon in Polperro

Two weeks ago, on our way to Looe Music Festival, we visited Polperro. It’s a little fishing village just about 5 miles away from Looe, with restricted vehicle access. You have to park your car at the entrance to the village and walk down to the harbour. It’s a twisty turny maze of little streets, cute buildings and eating places, and very very pretty.

Here are some pics

Polperro fishing boat

View of Polperro

Pretty Polperro house

The Buccaneer Polperro

The Pottery Shop Polperro

Bunting and flowers Polperro

The stream runs down to the sea, between the street and houses, so people have to cross individual bridges to their homes!

Polperro stream

Polperro bridge

Polpero houses

Polperro is still a working harbour. Back in the 1300s it used to be rife with smugglers.

Polperro fishing boats

Polperro boat

I bet there was some loot in this cave!

Polperro cave

Cave in Polperro

Smugglers House sign

The village is dotted with rowing boats filled with flowers, and pretty colourful hanging baskets

Fishing boat planter

In between Polperro houses

Nelsons Restaurant Polperro

Polperro pub

We had lunch – look at that for a fish pie!

Fish pie Polperro

My sentiments exactly, ha ha!

Children sign Polperro

I’d definitely recommend a visit and a wander around Polperro if you’re ever in the area.

Banksy – Dismaland Bemusement Park

When I saw that Banksy was launching a Dismaland exhibition in Weston Super Mare, my first thought was “how has he managed to keep that secret?”

Closely followed by “I deffo want to go”.

As luck would have it, the dates fit in nicely with our weekend in Looe, meaning we’d practically be passing Weston on the way home.

What I was less prepared for (although should have anticipated) was that tickets would be hard to come by. Priced at just £3 plus £2 booking fee in advance, they were a veritable bargain. And also highly in demand. Unable to buy any online, I resorted to ebay listings and See Tickets message boards to source some.

I eventually managed to bag a couple for £15 each. Which isn’t too bad, but it’s still 3 times the face value. Which is annoying, but not worth missing out for the sake of an extra tenner each.

What did amuse me was that the some of the people who were selling at silly prices were emailing me the day before offering them for much cheaper. Meaning that, for once, touts haven’t made a mint. It also means I could have got some cheaper if I’d have waited, but it wasn’t worth the risk.

When we arrived I recalled immediately that I’d read the staff have attitude – it’s all part of the “experience”. The trigger was how rude the girl was on the door, followed by the ticket checker. One of the fake security guards in the foyer told me to take my hat off “you’re not Michael Jackson”. Without fail everyone who worked there was bad mannered, disinterested or disengaged. It was all part of the fun.

Without further ado, here are some pictures! As you’d expect there are a lot of political statements, a heavy dose of irony, and the inimitable Banksy don’t give a fuck attitude.

Dismaland and Ariel

Banksy Dismaland castle

Banksy Dismaland police van

References to the horsemeat scandal. The carousel was particularly clever – it looked at odds with the rest of the park at first – being all shiny and colourful – but one of the horses was hanging and cut open and an operative with a cleaver was sitting on boxes marked lasagne

Dismaland horsemeat

Dismaland hotdog

There were lots of battered old kids rides around the park

Dismaland old ride

The burnt out ice cream van bore a sign that said customer service, closed 24 hours

Dismaland ice cream van customer service

This was my favourite piece of artwork; half of the letters that spell Disneyland have fallen off, leaving Dead

Dismaland Disneyland Dead artwork

Mickey Mouse with a serpent tail

Dismaland mickey mouse snake

Mini “Gulf”, set on a course made of oil cans, old pipes and petrol pumps

Dismaland Mini Gulf

Dismaland mini golf

This was rather close to home – I guess that was the point. Based on the remote control boats you play at theme parks, these were filled with tightly packed in migrants. Some were floating face down in the water

Dismaland remote control migrants

 And, of course, some political and anti-capitalist statements

Dismaland anticapitalist

Dismaland church sexuality

There was an outdoor cinema which showed some rather weird films – we caught the end of one with a teddy bear being cut open to show real human organs

Dismaland cinema

And a rather jovial big sandcastle!

Dismaland giant sand castle

Was it worth it? Absolutely. Even with paying so much over the odds for tickets. Because it’s only a temporary exhibition there’s that feeling of being part of something special – it’s conceptually brilliant and very well delivered; so sardonic and scathing.

Loved it!

Are you a fan of Banksy’s work?

 

A weekend in Cornwall – Looe Music Festival

The husband came across Looe Music Festival a couple of years ago and we went for the first time last year.

We loved it so much that we said we would 100% definitely go again. And so we did.

As is usual with me I was watching the weather forecast on an hourly basis; hoping for sunshine but not counting on it. But we woke up to clear blue skies, packed the car, and off we went!

Driving to Cornwall

Looe is such a pretty place. I hadn’t been to Cornwall prior to our first visit last year, and was immediately struck by it’s beauty. A pretty harbour town, it’s split into East and West Looe by the River Looe – the two sides connected by a town bridge. It’s a myriad of small streets and fishing boats, leading down to a wide clean beach.

Out and about in Looe

Houses in the hills Looe

Looe harbour and houses

Looe harbour

It has a lot of history – check out the plaque on the Smugglers Cott pub! Built in 1430!

Smugglers Cott

During the music festival the whole place comes alive, with multiple stages around the town and bands playing in pubs, restaurants and out on the street.

It’s an absolute bargain at around £80 for a 3 day ticket, and there really is something for everyone. This year’s headliners were The Proclaimers, Jules Holland and his Rhythm and Blues Orchestra, and Johnny Marr.

We stayed in a Parkdean caravan about a mile away from the centre which was comfy, cosy and in a great location.

The organisation is second to none. Well laid out with plenty of well priced bars, lots of clean toilet facilities and friendly helpful stewards, as well as lots of different streetfood stalls. Shuttle buses run every 10 minutes or so at peak times, stopping off at all the main holiday parks and campsites and dropping people off in the middle of Looe for just a pound each way.

The main stage is on the beach.

Looe Music Festival stage  Looe Music Festival beach

Looe Music Festival main stage

The whole area is so pretty…

Looking inland from Looe bridge

…and sparkles with lights as dusk approaches.

Looe

Looe evening

We ate noodles, paella, and Cornish pasties from various street food vendors.

Lamb, mint and potato pie with mash and gravy from Grumpies of Cornwall deserves a special mention. I could have eaten everything on their menu!

Grumpies of Cornwall lamb pie

Grumpies of Cornwall

Ate cake and drank wine at the harbourside after dark.

Cake and wine

And ordered handmade cocktails from the Beetle Juice van!

Beetle Juice cocktail van

The stage and beach light up for the headliners.

Looe Music Festival at night

Jools Holland at Looe Music Festival

Personal highlights included The Dodge Brothers – an Americana skiffle band. Mark Kermode – of film critic fame – plays the double bass; my favourite instrument in the world.

Looe Music Festival The Dodge Brothers

Wille and the Bandits played the BBC Introducing stage. We’ve found out they’re playing at a venue near us in a couple of weeks, which is great news!

Wille and the Bandits

And an afternoon in the Bullers Arms pub watching Steve Flanders play a great set which had the whole pub singing along.

Steve Flanders

The weather was fantastic all weekend – I had my legs out enjoying the last of the summer sun! (obligatory festival hats were worn too)

Looe Music Festival

Me at Looe Music Festival

I don’t like to be a creature of habit, because I want to see and do as many things in life as possible, but I already know there’s a very good chance we’ll be back for the third time in a row next year. That’s how special it is.

**Some photo credits to the husband on this post, including the ones with me in them, obvs!

 

50 things that make me happy

I saw this on Confetti and Curves and the lovely Karen invited everyone to get involved, so here’s my list of 50 things that make me happy!

(it’s easy to forget sometimes, especially on Monday mornings)

Waterfalls

Swallow Falls

Rainbows

Cheesecake

Driving with the windows down on a sunny day

Painted toenails

 Painted toenails

My Mom’s beef stew and dumplings, with boiled potatoes, lashings of Worcestershire sauce and fresh white bread for dipping

Getting a new tattoo (not the process, ouch, but the final result)

Having a nap on my reclining sofa when the sun’s coming through the window

Sitting on my balcony

Balcony view

Looking at the night sky

My husband. Just being with him (apart from when he’s a pest!)

Singing power ballads really loudly (even though I’m a terrible singer, that almost makes it even better!)

Easter egg chocolate straight out of the fridge (Easter egg chocolate is the best chocolate ever, fact).

Cheese and crackers

Sparklers

Sparkler

Glowsticks

Watching Californication

Californication

Freshly washed, dried and straightened hair

Immersing myself in a chick lit novel, and even when you pretty much know how it’s going to end after the first chapter you don’t care because it’s so much fun getting there

Picking scabs, even if they’re not mine (gross, I know)

Blowing dandelion seeds

Dandelion seeds

Aeroplane food (I’m probably in the minority here!)

Blowing bubbles

Blowing bubbles

Chopping things in a food processor

The Volvo adverts on the radio with the Scandinavian guy who says “you Brits love a pairing”

Tropical fish tanks

Paddling in the sea

The singing moose at the German Christmas market

Chris Moose Birmingham Christmas Market

The sizzle when you add stir fry vegetables into a hot wok

Wearing bright lipstick

Staying in a caravan

Being by the sea

Keema naan dipped in madras sauce

Exploring castle ruins

Caernarfon castle

Candles

Eating outside

Writing

My zebra print slanket (blanket with sleeves)

Slicing a kiwi fruit open and seeing how pretty it is inside

My bed

Being in North Wales (specifically Betws-y-Coed)

Picking wisely from a menu when we go out to eat

Watching Benidorm

Benidorm

Watching Pretty Woman

Putting Haribo rings on my fingers

Fairy lights

Fairy lights

Open fires

My favourite place in mainland Greece

Stoupa beach

Squirty cream

The glug sound that you get when you first pour a glass of wine (which also means I’m getting wine, two favourite things for the price of one!)

What are your 50 favourite things? I’d love to read them (because I’m nosy!) Be sure to tag me in your posts so I can see them.

A trip to the seaside – Weston super Mare

My husband is a big fan of the band The Wildhearts. Front man Ginger Wildheart has been doing a Song and Words tour, where he talks about his life, his experiences, and plays songs from his albums across the years. More of that tomorrow, as it deserves a post of its own.

Anyway.

For one reason or another, husband didn’t make it to the Birmingham show, and was suitably gutted as he’s a massive fan (of both the band and Ginger). Being the good wife that I am (!!!) I kindly offered to accompany him to the last date of the tour in Weston super Mare, which just so happened to fall on a Saturday night, meaning we could have a mini weekend coastal break.

Selfless, eh?

Weston is the closest beach location to Birmingham, and is often known locally as Birmingham on Sea. We tend to drive down once a year, when the weather starts getting better, for some sea air and to eat fish and chips on the beach. It’s become a bit of a standing joke and a yearly pilgrimage.

There’s nothing cosmopolitan about Weston. It’ a typical English seaside town – faded in places, past its best, with donkeys on the beach and shops selling buckets and spades, rock and fishing nets all along the front.

But we really like it!

Husband has childhood memories of trips to see family and all the sentiments that surrounds it. And I love it because he loves it. His happiness makes me happy (sorry, vom-tastic moment). And also, well, ‘cos it’s seasdide innit?!

So, we headed down yesterday afternoon and checked into our B&B; the delightful Florence Guesthouse.

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Situated slightly back from the seafront, my eyes were immediately opened to a side of Weston I hadn’t seen before. I’ve only ever walked along the promenade. Away from the beachfront there’s a plethora of fabulous buildings set back into the hills. Our guesthouse was a stunningly pretty terraced villa building with original features in the breakfast room and a well tended basement garden. I found it on hotels.com and booked the last available room – a superior double. It was a great size, with a comfy sofa as well as the bed, an immaculate en suite bathroom and strong wi-fi connection (such a sign of the times when that’s a selling point!) We were welcomed by a very friendly lady who is the perfect guesthouse host, I certainly couldn’t do it. Imagine going to bed at night knowing strangers would be sharing your roof??!!

From there we headed down to the front. It was a beautiful day according to my camera – clear blue skies. In reality it was mega windy and pretty cold. But it didn’t matter, ‘cos it’s seaside innit?!

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Work on Weston Pier started in November 1903 and it opened in June 1904. That’s pretty good going when you consider how long things take these days.

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I remember reading in the news that the pier had set on fire in 2008. Everyone suspected arson, but it was recorded as most likely to be an electrical fire.

In a good move for the British tourist industry, the pier was rebuilt. Weston also has a permanent Big Wheel “Eye”. More than Birmingham has, but that’s another post…

So, what next? Fish and chips, obvs! We always get takeaway and sit on the beach wall, but it was actually too blinkin’ cold, so we went to Tony’s – a fish and chip café set just back from the promenade and on a downward slope to protect from the wind. Bloody hell, what a decision! Cod for me, plaice for husband, curry sauce to share and the sunshine warming our bones without the harsh wind in the more exposed food establishments. It was as close to the ultimate fish and chips as I’ve ever had. Gorge.

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Today we explored more of Weston, away from the seaside.

Nature is so persistent. The prettiest flowers growing out through stones.

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Where do these steps lead?

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Up to these lovely houses. They have a fab view of the beach.

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Finishing the day with obligatory seaside drinks photos.

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On Sunday we went for a post breakfast stroll (big mention again to Florence Guesthouse for the breakfast..I sensibly availed myself of EVERYTHING! Including cereal, yoghurt, toast, full English and tea).

There was a vintage car show in Weston Gardens..

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And so endeth Weston.

Nice is more than just nice…it’s bloomin’ beautiful

A 4 o’clock alarm is a wicked wicked thing. Although it is slightly easier to get out of bed when you know you have a flight to catch!

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It’s been an age since we flew from Birmingham airport. Considering Birmingham is the UK’s second city (supposedly) we seem to get less choice, higher costs, and general short changed-ness when it comes to air travel.

Unusually, Nice was an exception. A 7.45am Saturday morning departure and an 8pm Monday night return meant making the most of pretty much every moment of the long awaited bank holiday weekend.

The day started (of course) with a holiday breakfast (yes, a 2 night break counts as a holiday)…a sausage, egg and bacon bagel and a glass of rose. Tea drinkers were definitely in the minority, even at 6.30am.

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Uneventful check in, boarding, flight, arrival and transfer meant that we arrived in Nice Ville (town) feeling stress free and ready to go by 11am. 5 hours door to door (accounting for the 1 hour time difference) is pretty good going, especially when you consider the contrast between home and away.

Too early to check into our hotel room, we stored our bags in the lobby and set off on foot to explore. Our driver from the airport had told us that Nice was an easy city to get your bearings in and get around, and he was right. It’s large enough to feel cosmopolitan and spread out, but not so much that you fear never finding your hotel again. There’s a good vibe about it.

Nice is the fifth most populous city in France after Paris, Marseilles, Lyon and Toulouse.

Heree come the photographs…

Stunning architecture, fountains and wide open squares

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Churches

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A bright, clean and spacious promenade

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Boutique shops, along with some UK high street flashbacks

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Wonder why the region is called the Cote D’Azur? Wonder no more! These are the views from the Promenade de Anglais. The sea is bluer than a camera can capture. It’s definitely one for the most developed lens in the world – the human eye.

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As planned we decided to get our bearings by taking an open top bus tour. At 22 euros each and lasting 90 minutes, the tour started on the seafront and meandered along the coast, out to the port and then back up into the hills. Fabulous buildings were everywhere – from neoclassical styles and colours through to the modern art museum and the very quirky blockhead; La Tête Carrée (the first habitable sculpture in the world).

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Considering we had such an early start, at an ungodly hour, we more than did justice to the city on our first day. We were left tired, but looking forward to more…

 

Malaga – way more than just an airport

My travel retrospective yesterday got me thinking about past travels and city breaks.

I love getting away for a weekend. Short breaks concentrate your efforts in terms of seeing everything and doing stuff. Whilst not the most relaxing of times, I always feel fulfilled and satisfied by just how much I’ve managed to do. No time for having a lie in or an afternoon nap. It’s all about cramming it all in.

Quite often a city break for us can stem from seeing a cheap flight and investigating whether the destination is worth visiting. Which is how we ended up in Malaga 5 years ago.

For most Malaga is a gateway to the Costas. Brits who have holiday homes in Spain flock to the airport, or through the airport, from the beginning of the sunny season through til the end. Families on their two week escape looking for sea, sun and sand will land at the airport and be whisked away by tour operator coaches to their coastal destination of choice. But there is so much more to Malaga.

I don’t recall what made me look into it as a destination in itself, but I was so glad I did. Husband wasn’t convinced but I implored him to trust me. In mid April, flying out on a Thursday, flights were still reasonable and we got a basic but modern, adequate and well situated IBIS hotel at a steal. The actual trip cost us around £100 each for two nights.

First things first…Malaga is very Spanish. Which seems a case of stating the bleeding obvious, but it’s true. Because it’s not a tourist destination there is no “need” for everyone to speak English. As a result (and refreshingly so) Spanish is the first language. There is a need to communicate via pigeon English and pointing at menus when ordering food. Shops don’t have English signs. There’s a real feel of being in Spain, despite the influx of Brits through the vicinity on a daily basis.

Malaga, for me, has it all. The climate (it was 25 degrees in the day and around 15 degrees at night, and that was end of April), the food (bars and cafes serving authentic tapas, and tiny backstreet alley restaurants delivering the best paella ever for about 10 euros), the architecture (white washed buildings, cathedrals and a castle in the hills) and the sea (it’s on the coast. Who knew?!)

Oh, and when we arrived, they’d had a film festival in the city, so there was a red carpet running through the pedestrian area. And not to welcome us, as I thought might be the case.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking,

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Malaga is all about timing. Due to it’s popularity for reaching coastal destinations flights can actually be prohibitively expensive in summer. But time it right early or late in the season, with a mid week flight, and it’s well worth a visit.

The French Coast – a look back and a peek forward

2 weeks today I’ll be on a plane to France, hurrah! Invariably it will be wet and dull in the UK, in true bank holiday style, so I’m making the most of it by jetting off for 3 days in Nice, on the French Riviera.

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Living in land locked Birmingham, it’s always good to get to the coast, especially when it’s as stunning as this. The Cote d’Azur has a micro climate and 200-250 days of sunshine each year, so I’m hopeful that early May will be warm and pleasant, and I might even get to dip my toes in that stunning blue sea.

As well as a stunning coastline, Nice has beautiful architecture, lots of greenery and a colourful Old Town that I’m looking forward to wandering around.

Nice port

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Nice cathedral

Nice old town

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It’s 5 and a half years since I was last on the French Coast. We went to Marseille for a our first wedding anniversary, and totally fell in love with it. Just 6 hours door to door, from home via Birmingham airport, it’s a gem of a place and we immediately declared it our weekend bolthole when we fancied getting away. Unfortunately Ryanair had other ideas and cancelled the route soon afterwards so we haven’t been back since, but I would definitely return.

Here are some snaps.

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