Bringing Your Holiday Home

I don’t know about you but when I return from a family holiday I have mixed emotions; I’m happy to see my family but also a little down that the holidays over and there won’t be another one for a while. For this reason, I want to make the memories last forever so here are a few ways to bring your holiday home.

From relaxing on the beach to exploring a new country I love to go away whenever I can, but with a little family, buying a house and saving for my wedding, holidays are few and far between. For this reason, I try to make the most of them when they come along, this includes taking plenty of photos and buying souvenirs.

The Right Souvenirs

I’m sure we’ve all been guilty of buying the odd trinket when on holiday and then putting on display for a while until it breaks or just looks tacky.  So, why not put a little more thought into the buying process, instead of going to any old souvenir shop find one that sells the type of things you like, or that suite your home.

Picture frames, interesting things you used whilst away and unusual contemporary ornaments are always a good choice. For example, a glass jar that was used whilst away or some pebbles can come in handy for creating terrariums, lanterns or fireplaces. Obviously, if you are holidaying abroad this may not be such a good idea!

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Then there are all of the unintentional souvenirs, that just appear in bags and suitcases.

Tickets, Passes, and Tokens

When unpacking my suitcase I always find wristbands, tokens, tickets etc. from all of the places we have visited and rather than throw them away we always end up keeping them. The intention is always the same, to create a lovely frame filled with the places we have been, but this never happens – nice idea though!

Alternatively, we could add this to a scrapbook, which brings me to the next section, ‘get crafty’.

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There are so many crafts that you can use to create the perfect keepsake, like papercrafts, needlework, painting and jewellery making.

Creating a scrapbook full of your favourite images can be fun for all the family and a great way to share your memories when you return home. Papercraft companies like Smashbook and Project Life have a selection of really good folios for those just starting out and can add lots of character to your photobook display.

Another option is to create a bag from material bought in the country, creating something that’s special and unique to you and your style. Crafts open the door for you to create anything you desire all you need is the imagination to do so.

If you haven’ got time to be too crafty or you’re not that creative try to use the lovely pictures you took.

The Pictures

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Finally, there’s the obvious choice – pictures. Taking photos whilst away is important for keeping memories, so make sure not every image is possed. Try and catch the family out doing silly things or just being themselves.

It’s become too easy to just keep images in a file on your computer or share them on social media but don’t forget to print some, pop them in frames or have your favourites printed and hung somewhere. There’s so much you can do with images you just need to be creative.

 

Where to celebrate Halloween and The Day of the Dead

Although I am easily scared I still love Halloween, the costumes, trick or treating and silly games. And of course watching Hocus Pocus! I thought it would be interesting to take a look into some places across the globe that ooze Halloween.

Transylvania, Romania

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Let’s start at the bloodthirsty land of Transylvania, home to vampires and werewolves this is perhaps the perfect Halloween spot. I have always been intrigued by vampires, since reading and watching Bram Stoker’s, Dracula as a child (not Twilight) so the iconic Bran Castle is at the top of my list.

The castle was home to Prince Vlad Tepes, who apparently placed his enemies on spikes. Many believe the character Dracula was based on Vlad, which explains the opening scene of the film. To many in Transylvania, he is a hero so this portrayal of Vlad is unwelcome from some.

Bran castle itself adds to the medieval landscape that takes you back to the 1800’s. Surrounding the castle is greenery, roads made from dirt and people in horse-drawn carts. There are tours of the castle and events throughout the year, including a Halloween party.

Getting around Transylvania is said to be difficult due to the old-timey infrastructure so if I ever get to venture that way I will be taking the bus. You can check timetables here.

Salem, America

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The witch trials of 1962 have put Salem on the Halloween map, I am yet to go an October without hearing about Salem. Throughout the month of October, which is known as ‘Haunted Happenings’ there are plenty of spooky activities to get involved with. From tours to reenactments of Salem’s history.

There are a few preserved sites from 1962 that can be visited either independently or as part of a group.; these are the Witch House and judges graves, there’s also the oldest Witch shop called Crow Haven Corner. Alternatively, head to Danvers which used to be a part of Salem, here you will find the homes of the accused and a house where initial hearings took place.

Salem is not just about witches though there is a very long history here and it isn’t hard to get to, you can even visit for a day trip from nearby Boston.

New Orleans, America

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One of the most haunted places in the world (apparently) this is a must visit for Halloween. But, it’s not just the ghosts and ghouls, New Orleans is known for its parties and the one of Frenchmen Street is where I’d head to.

If you’re traveling with family don’t worry there are many events to keep everyone interested including ‘Boo at the Zoo’  which is packed with family fun.

If all of this isn’t enough then what better way to celebrate Halloween than also knowing that you are helping someone. Proceeds made from Halloween in New Orleans go to Project Lazarus – a wellness home for those with AIDS.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Día de los Muertos

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In Mexico, there are many places that celebrate Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is a celebration where the dead are welcomed back at midnight on November 1st. I think this is a lovely way to celebrate those loved ones we have lost and is a much nicer concept than Halloween.

San Miguel de Allende is one place that I would love to visit during this time when a week-long public party is held, where there’s a lot to be enjoyed. One such festival is the Festival La Calaca which lasts for a week and features DJ’s, art, talks about the dead, dances and much more.

Parades are aplenty in San Miguel de Allende during this time and they are very colourful. Catrina Parade looks particularly interesting with skull make-up which represents Lady Death, some will even hire make-up artists to get the look just right.

This is a tradition that dates back centuries and hopefully will never be overshadowed by Halloween.

I’m sure there are many more spooky retreats but these places are at the top of my list.

Wedding Invites – Don’t Pay An Arm & A Leg

The price for wedding invitations can be high, to get the perfect design, material, and print. If you are thrifty, you can save a lot of money and still have unique invitations. Of course, if you are looking to cut costs then spend away!

Making them Unique

When choosing my invites all I knew was that they had to represent the day ahead. For me, this meant making them classic with a slight quirk.

We knew we had an engagement shoot coming up so decided to make the most out of it. Before the shoot, I prepared three chalkboards each containing details for the wedding – the date, place and time.

The images turned out well…

 

Printing the Invitations

Initially, we thought about designing and printing them ourselves which would have saved us a lot of money. Until I found a good deal on Vistaprint so went there to get them printed. For £70 I managed to get 90 prints in two slightly different designs, one for day guests and one for the evening.

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We waited for about a week for these to be delivered, and very quickly and efficiently, we received them.

Completing the Design

To finish them off I went to Hobbycraft and bought some doilies and brown string. I am yet to get round to completing them but will update when I have…

Overall, we are very happy with our invitations and they were less than £100, now all that’s left to do is post them.

 

Top 5 Places On My Bucket List

In my last post, I was thinking about where I’d like to spend the festive season, but that got me thinking about creating a bucket list. Where would I go? Who would I take? And what would I like to see?

There are so many people who like to travel and they want to go wherever the wind takes them, but I am a little more specific, I know what I like and where I’d like to go. Many people find things wrong with this but hey, that’s me.

New York / Tour of America

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New York, probably a very popular choice for a bucket list, although most people I know who have been there haven’t enjoyed the experience as much as they thought they would. Growing up in the UK, I found myself always watching American programmes, even now I mainly watch E4, ITVBe and the odd documentary, so the US has always been wondrous to me.  As a marketer, I realise that much of this will be media but I’d like to experience it for myself someday, but every time I go to book a trip here something else comes up and I don’t end up going.

Starting at New York City I would visit some popular film locations before traveling to Washington and visit Seattle. San Francisco would be my next stop before LA, finishing in Florida for a proper tourist holiday, visiting all of the theme parks and the Kennedy Space Centre.

Costa Rica

A tranquil place filled with greenery, waterfalls, and beaches – that’s what I imagine when thinking of this paradise. I know that there is much more to Costa Rica but this is the area I’d like to see most.

The 60 volcanoes of Costa Rica interest me the most but here are the two I most want to visit…

Arenal Volcano

This may be the most popular volcano in Costa Rica but there is a good reason for this. The volcano towers over Arenal National Park where you can find wildlife and old lava. There’s even a natural spring here and you can take a dip.

Poas Volcano

Whilst Arenal has been in a resting state for a while, Paos found in the Central Valley is still active, erupting in April 2017 and tourists were evacuated. Surrounding the volcano is a hot lagoon called Laguna Calliente, and the cloud forest.

Geiranger Norway

Geirangerfjord looks like an amazing natural attraction, created by ice ages. This is a fabulous piece of history and geography that I must see, the whole area is wondrous beneath snow-capped mountains.  For those who are more adventurous, there are kayaking and hiking opportunities.

This truly is somewhere that I must see come snow or sunshine!

Skiing in Zermatt

pexels-photo-267104Touring over Zermatt is the Matterhorn which makes for a stunning view. In my dreams, I would stay in this fabulous chalet and be a fantastic skier but I highly doubt that either of these things will happen! Either way, I will have a fantastic experience.

It’s not just the views and skiing but also the opportunities for adventure, exploring the glacier. There are plenty of tours to choose from and you will even take a ride on Europe’s highest cable car station.

Maldives

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This seems like a magical place with crystal clear waters and amazing accommodation. However, the Maldives is made up of several islands each one very different from the other. For example, if you want a holiday strictly for tourists, you could try the 100 islands that are purposely developed for this purpose. Alternatively, there are another 1,100 islands to choose from, many of which are uninhabited but if you’re adventurous or desire peace and quiet a trip here may be just for you. There are private transfers to some of the uninhabited islands available, as I haven’t been there I can’t say much about it other than things I have read, but apparently, the boat transfers take you to the edge of the sand where you hop into the sea and walk onto the white sands.

For me I would like to visit as many of the islands as possible, I’m just interested to look at the landscape on each and truly appreciate nature at its rarest. It would be interesting to see exactly what the differences between a place touched by humans and one that is completely untouched are (apart from the obvious things).

As well as exploring the many islands, it would be nice to take some time to rest and enjoy the surroundings. This area really does seem like a peaceful place and I hope I can get there before all of the islands become inhabited!

I’m sure these places are at the top of many people’s list and they may not seem too adventurous but all of them bring something slightly different and it’s the colder places I’m drawn to the most. From snow to places that look stunning whatever the weather that’s what attracts me to a place, I don’t want to travel to see the people but the landscapes.

If I was to travel to see people and experience cultures, I would want to help them and this is a completely different list, which would include the UK because people need help and support here too.

Three Places I’d Love to Spend This Winter

Autumn and Winter are my favourite seasons, the world seems at peace in my merry little world and all of the warm colours begin to appear. From the orange leaves to the crisp frosty air this is the best time of year.  

The only downside is the lack of snow we have in the UK, in one way it’s a good thing as we don’t handle extreme weather too well but on the other hand, a white Christmas would be lovely. In this blog post, I’m going to take a look at how the three places I think I’d like to spend these months celebrate Halloween, Christmas and New Year.

California at Halloween

Don’t ask me why California, I seem to have an obsession but I’d also like to visit Salem! I have heard many people talk about parties and haunted mansions in California but I’d stick to the more child-friendly activities. The American festivities seem much more fun than that of the UK although in recent years we have started to branch out.

Universal Studios Hollywood’s Horror Nights seem amazing but not family friendly so we’d probably end up at Disneyland for Mickey’s Halloween Party!

Halloween in California would be incredible but lately, I’ve become fascinated by the Day of the Dead in Mexico, which is a much nicer way to look at the after life other than Halloween.

Austria at Christmas

Austria is at the top of my list of places to visit and going there at Christmas time would be perfect. Visiting the village of St Anton, where it is not as busy as Innsbruck but still has plenty of ski slopes and shopping opportunities. Even if there is no guarantee of snow the surroundings look breathtaking and after visiting the Swiss and French Alps during the summertime I can’t imagine I’d be disappointed either way.

The accommodation in this area also looks out of this world. A lot of the accommodation will only accept 7 nights plus and some 4 weeks which makes the price higher, especially for a premium property. This is why I will probably have to hold out for that luxury stay.

On Christmas day I’d like to just lounge around a warm living room with log fire and hot chocolate, with the whole family, of course, playing board games and waiting for the dinner to be cooked (by the husband).

France at New Year

I have been to various places in France during various seasons and I’ say that everywhere I’ve visited has not been disappointing. I have spent New Year in Disneyland Paris and News Years Day in Paris itself but I’d love to rent a lovely house for my whole family in Provence and welcome in the New Year.

Staying somewhere like Fayence would be ideal for my plans, just a short journey to the golden coast of Cannes and the luxurious Monaco it would be a great place to spend a couple of days exploring and the rest of the time relaxing.

Provence seems like the perfect place to me, not too far from the South of France but still far enough to be peaceful and not too busy. Obviously, a home with a glorious scenery would create the perfect setting but as I am not a millionaire I wouldn’t be too picky!

All of these dream holidays are on my bucket list which hopefully one day will become reality!