Where will Spring take you?

This weekend presents the perfect opportunity to take a holiday, but where is best to go in the springtime? Here, I’m taking a look at some beautiful spots that are less than 5 hours away on a plane.

We all travel for different reasons from the weather to escaping day-to-day life and a long weekend like Easter is a great time to do this, without using your work holidays (that’s if you don’t work over Easter of course).

Personally, I like to use Easter to do some domestic travelling and leave the short-haul flights for when I have a little extra time. But, there are plenty of places to explore if you prefer to venture further afield.

Iceland

Visiting Iceland seems to be a trend at the moment, everyone I speak to is either going, has been, or is planning to go. This is no surprise it has a lot to offer:

Blue Lagoon

Featured on a lot of programmes and definitely on my bucket list. Located on a lave field in Grindavik this spa is rich in minerals and has a reputation for helping those suffering from skin conditions. Although the sound of bathing in a pool lagoon of with strangers may not appeal to some, it is actually one of the most visited attractions in Iceland.

Geysir

Sitting on the same peninsula as the Blue Lagoon and a 2-hour journey by car the Geysir is a geyser.  A geyser is a natural spring that erupts water high into the air.  As one of the worlds most fascinating wonders, it is a must-see during your trip to Iceland.

Lofthellir Cave

In the northeastern part of Iceland, there is a 3,500-year-old lava cave described as a magical world of ice and darkness. This is a perfect stop for those taking a driving tour of Iceland, although there’s also a little walking involved across the lava field before you reach the cave.

Poland

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A great stop for Spring with a lot to see and do, including drink vodka. Drinking vodka here is more of an experience as it is available in a variety of colours and flavours. To accompany the vodka try some Polish cuisine, with unusual side dishes and seasonings (well to my palate anyway). There are also plenty of historic places to visit:

Gdansk

A colourful port city on the Baltic has stories to tell and is the perfect shopping destination. You can view the 17th century Neptune Fountain which is topped the sea god in bronze or visit the European Solidarity Centre where you can learn about the shipyard revolt, through a unique display.

Auschwitz-Birkenau

A trip to Poland is not complete without visiting Auschwitz-Birkenau and remembering the tragedy of WWII. On this site, millions of people were murdered and the preservation of the area brings this horror to life, allowing all who visit to learn, as well as be a reminder that this should never happen again.

Florence

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A beautiful place to visit during the springtime, home to amazing scenery and florally decorated landscapes. This is a lovely place for those who appreciate nature.

Rose Garden

This free to visit garden offers stunning views, especially if you walk all the way to the top, where you will find Piazzale Michelangelo. The air surrounding the garden is filled with the scent of flowers, soothing the soul and making the walk relaxing and peaceful.

Galleria degli Uffizi

One for the art lovers, this marvellous museum holds some of the most renowned pieces of artwork. But, if you want to get in you may have to wait a while, as only small groups are allowed in at one time, or you can simply book online – which seems like the sensible option.

Jersey

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Last summer we visited Jersey and had a lovely time, home to glorious beaches and the war tunnels we enjoyed exploring the island.

When in Jersey you can also take a day trip to France, we visited St Malo in Brittany which did not take too long to get to on ferry.

War Tunnels

An interesting and slightly eery experience as you explore the underground tunnels from WWII. The layout of the attraction is well done, with the opportunity to follow the stories of real people from that time. This is a good spot to learn about the war and what life was really like for German soldiers and the people of Jersey.

Plemont

My favourite beach of the trip with large caves to discover and golden sands this beach was the perfect spot on a sunny day. There is also a shop that sells hot food and refreshments.

Cornwall

Home to many attractions especially during spring time when the Truro Festival takes place. There are marquees with local businesses and plenty of places to dine. I have visited Cornwall a few times and these have been my favourite spots.

The Eden Project

Be at one with nature and learn about plants, insects, and bugs. Or take to the adventure activities as you defy gravity and hit the skywire.

Caerhays Castle

It is springtime so head to the castle gardens 140 acres of tranquil and scenic walks and woodland. But it doesn’t stop there as part of the estate you can explore the beaches and the castle itself.

There are plenty of places to explore over the Easter holiday or during Spring and it would be great to know your plans.

Let’s relax…

I don’t know about you, but at times I dream of escaping day-to-day life and taking a day for myself. Perhaps staying in a hotel, reading on a sunny beach or wandering around a city.

We all need to let go sometimes and find peace within ourselves and for me, this means having an evening or day to just be. Fortunately, I live in a wonderful place that is close to a city, beaches, towns, and countryside.

There are several ways to relax and here are my top five.

Take a Walk

Walking is a great way to relax, and it can be done virtually anywhere. Simply taking in the scenery and stopping for a little while to observe what’s around you. Obviously, walking in a busy city can have the opposite effect with many people rushing around, in turn, this can make you feel stressed and eager to get somewhere fast.

Heading to a park or local beach where you can hear the natural sounds of the waves and birds is the perfect way to enjoy time to yourself.

Watch a Film

For me, the best way to relax is watching a film or programme, one that is funny or light-hearted otherwise I just overthink it. Making time to enjoy a film or read a book can take you out of your present situation for a little while.

Head to the Beach

Living in the UK, I don’t get to do this as much as I would like to but taking some food and a magazine and sitting in the sun is one of life’s luxuries.

Exercise

Working out is a great way to relieve stress and find relaxation, especially if your last few minutes are spent warming down. The key is finding the type of exercise that is right for you, I don’t like jogging but I love aerobics and dance. I find jogging bores me, leaving too much time to think and ponder, whereas dance and aerobics are usually too high paced music to keep my attention.

Cafe

Taking myself to a local cafe with a magazine, or one with a lovely view gives time to reflect on things and enjoy my own company. Leaving my phone in the car, not in my bag as this is too tempting, I find that this 15 minutes lowers my stress levels and allows me to maintain a relaxed tone, before going home.

There are many ways to relax, and to be honest I’m not sure I’m that good at it but it would be great to know how you destress.

Hen Party: which location?

Hen parties are a time of fun and laughter and forgetting your inhibitions and the majority of the time the hen has no idea what’s going to happen. This is true for me, but that doesn’t mean I can’t guide the process.

These days more and more people are heading overseas for their hen party and why not when prices are so good. However, not everyone can afford this or wants to do this. I’m in between I’d love to experience an overseas getaway but at the same time I know that not everyone can afford it, not all of my friends have a passport, and the majority have children and not many babysitter options. For all of these reasons, this post will focus on UK hen parties that appeal to me, here are my top five places.

Why Liverpool?

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Image via Pixabay

Liverpool is a vibrant city with plenty of lovely people. If you are looking to stay for a whole weekend, there are plenty of hotels and apartments all offering reasonable rates. A hen party in Liverpool can be both wild and sophisticated with plenty of places to visit and actives to enjoy; from a quiet relaxing spa day to a night drinking, dancing and watching Dreamboys.

Why Cardiff?

Cardiff is an eventful city with lots going on, unfortunately, I have never been but I have heard all about it.

When searching for hen party experiences in Cardiff many things appeared including pamper days, go-karting, quad biking and a trip to the casino. It would be the casino for me.

Why Bristol?

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Image via Pixabay

Now I have had the honour of experiencing a hen party in Bristol and it was brilliant, yet sophisticated. It started with a spa day and a trip to an escape room – what a great start, an escape room gets people who don’t really know each other talking and provides the perfect start to an event.

We had a meal in The Alchemist, which was lovely as always and then headed to PRYZM where we had a private booth, champagne, and cocktail.

The next morning when the drink had worn off we did a bit of retail therapy before heading home. This was a brilliant place to celebrate a hen party and I would be happy to visit again.

Go Rural

This is more my thing, an apartment or house with a chef, mixologist or just plenty of food and drink. Obviously, I’d fill the place with my closest friends and we’d have a good old-fashioned sleepover. There would be activities during the day like quad biking or a dance class and we would party all weekend.

You could stay go to North Wales or head down South, either way, the choice would be yours.

The thing is I am not sure there are any companies that specialise in this and doing each part separately would be difficult for the person in charge.

Why London?

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The capital, probably the most expensive place to choose and the busiest, so this isn’t really for me unless heading to the West End.

The good thing about London is that you won’t be stuck for a place to stay or thing to do because there will be plenty of options. There are unusual hen activities to enjoy here such as Fried Chicken Afternoon Tea, a cat-themed hen party, and crafternoons.

In the past, I have found that the best way to organise a hen party is using a hen party planning website, where you each have an account and money is paid by the attendee rather than through one person trying to manage everyone.

 

Five Dishes You Must Try When Visiting Sicily

As we are planning a trip to Sicily for our honeymoon this year, we want to make sure that we taste the place as well as see the landmarks.

There are several wine tours offered, but if you want to know what makes Sicilian people happy, you need to search for the most popular traditional dishes of the island. Below you will find a list of dishes you must try when walking the streets of Palermo or going out for a meal.

Cannoli

While most people believe this is a traditional Italian dish, it is actually from Sicily. You can get it freshly made in most restaurants, made with ricotta. Inside the fried pastry, you will find seasonal vegetables and a sweet ricotta filling. Make sure that you get it fresh, and the crust will stay crunchy and firm.

Arancine

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Image via Flickr

These rice balls are great for snacking on. They are coated with bread crumbs, and come with different fillings. The most popular Arancine is mozzarella and ham, but you will also find some with tomato sauce and meat inside. It is basically similar to a pasta dish, but the pasta is on the outside and is replaced by rice, and the snack is fried in breadcrumbs.

Caponata

Caponata

Image via PxHere

The beauty of this dish is that it comes in different flavors and variations. It is like an eggplant stew, but sweet and sour at the same time. No matter which version you try when visiting Sicily, the base of the dish will be Aubergine, and different vegetables are added to it for flavor. Your chef might create their own Caponata recipe based on the availability of fresh ingredients.

Sfincione

Also called the Sicilian version of pizza, this dish is a popular street food in the region. The base is rectangular, instead of round, and deep, instead of thin. Depending on which place you visit, you might find that the tomato sauce is placed on the top of the other ingredients, so they stay soft, while other places will add onions, sardines, herbs, or mozzarella on the top. Check out emilia delizia for creating your own pizza recipe.

Pane Con La Milza

While this sandwich might not be something you might think of when packing your lunchbox for work, it is extremely popular in Sicily. Boiled pork spleens are slow cooked and placed in a fresh brioche. You can find this dish at most bakery stalls on the street, or at traditional takeaway restaurants. Sometimes lemon and caciocavallo cheese is added to the recipe of the Pane Con La Milza for flavor. Try it with caution, but Sicilians love this sweet bread sandwich.

To get to know a culture and a place better, you should mix with the locals and try their food, some people say. With so many traditional dishes available on the streets and in the restaurants of Sicily, you will love strolling around and tasting new flavors every day. From rice balls to pasta and fried snacks, there are a variety of meals Sicilians are proud of and will want you to try.

 

Spa Day – DoubleTree by Hilton

A day of relaxation for the women in our family for our Mother’s 50th birthday. We would have loved to go to New York but finances wouldn’t allow it. 

Before choosing the spa day we had plenty of ideas for 50th birthday celebrations but the one thing missing from all of our lives is the time to relax. We started researching spas with good packages and that’s when we decided on the DoubleTree by Hilton.

The package was £90 and all of the below was included:

  • Spa day pass
  • Robe and slippers
  • Towel,
  • Afternoon tea
  • One treatment – I went for the ‘Restore Ritual’ which consisted of a back and shoulder massage and scrub down.

We arrived at the spa for 12am where we received a warm welcome, in fact, all staff were very friendly and welcoming. At the reception, we were handed our robes, slippers, and towels, at this point a was slightly disappointed as when my friend at https://livingwithaboy.co.uk/ had been previously she had received a cookie but ours must have got lost!

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After a quick explanation was where everything was we headed to the changing rooms called ‘the Female’. I quite liked the names of all of the rooms which all began with ‘the’. The changing rooms were very clean and there was plenty of room for privacy if you did not want to change in front of others.

Once in our swimming costumes, we entered the spa, which had plenty of sun lounges for relaxing, a swimming pool, jacuzzi, outdoor jacuzzi, sauna, hammam, aroma room and steam room. To be honest, I am not the best at relaxing, especially with people I don’t know, so I really enjoyed just taking some time to do a few lengths! Although the aroma room was nice too.

At 2:00pm we went for Afternoon Tea in the Garden Room, which was lovely but it felt strange walking past reception in a robe and slippers. Once seated you could see that most people in that area were all enjoying a spa day, so I felt much more relaxed. We sat and had tea, cakes, sandwiches, and scones which were all lovely and just what you would expect from Afternoon Tea.

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Once full we went back to the spa for an hour before we headed to ‘the before’, the room where you have herbal tea or water before your treatment. We were then called one by one by the therapist to have our massage. This was lovely and relaxing, although I am extremely ticklish.

After the massage we were taken to ‘the after’, a room with beanbag type seats, a few sunbeds, and a drink machine. The lights were dimmed and the music was playing and everyone seemed to be asleep. Although, this was a lovely space we decided to make the most of the spa and headed back to the aroma room.

We ended the day with a meal at Marco Pierre White, the restaurant in the hotel. I had steak which was cooked to my taste and washed down with a strawberry Bellini. All in all, I was happy with the cleanliness of the spa and the staff who were all lovely. We had a wonderful day and would love to do it again.

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Visiting Chester Zoo

Last weekend we went to Chester Zoo for the first time in many years, although I went often as a child. The weather was freezing but we still had a fab time.

As the zoo opens at 10am we got up and gathered the troops, in total nine of us went so plenty of food and beverages were required. As you can imagine there were several bags to carry so taking a little one was a good idea, this way the pram could be used to carry the bags! Until he got tired and needed it back for a nap.

The trip was with the family as part of my son’s birthday weekend. Since our last visit five years ago some of the enclosures have moved and been renovated and in quite a clever way. For example, the Tigers have plenty of space for privacy but their main (I suppose you could call it) chilling area is near the viewing point so you can get really nice pictures.

In the past, we have taken the general route around the zoo, which seems to be visiting the Elephants first and then making our way to the Giraffes. But, this time we started at the monkey house and then the bat cave, before taking the bridge to the Cheaters. This was a much better route because it was much quieter, although the zoo wasn’t exactly packed due to the weather conditions. Which wasn’t much of an issue as many of the animals have indoor areas, although the boats and monorail were closed.

The main issue for the children was that the park areas had been shut, you would think they wouldn’t be too fussed about this when they have a whole zoo to explore.

Zoo park

Near the large park is a food hall, we stopped at this point to tuck into our sandwiches and grab a hot drink. I am happy we took food with us as for two plates of fries it was £5 and to be honest when there are nine to feed that’s a little expensive.

From here we headed to the Lion’s, who were not happy, the male was roaring extremely loud. My son, who doesn’t like loud noises, was not impressed although the other children were enjoying it. I forget how loud their roar is and how scary it would be to hear in the wild with no protection.

Zoo Lion

From here we made our way to the Tigers, who are located in the new(er) part ‘The Islands’. When it’s not icy you have the option of taking a boat ride around the enclosures, which sounds like a lovely way to view them. The Islands are much bigger than I expected so before seeing the Tigers we walked around a tropical area which is home to many species of bird, fish, an alligator and turtles. The area reminded me of the Eden Project and is a nice addition.

Before leaving we had another hot drink (as there are plenty of places to purchase refreshments) and let the children run around, just like wild animals! We then headed to the Elephants, who were all indoors due to the cold weather, and finally took to the gift shop to buy some souvenirs.

Everyone seemed to have a wonderful time and the animals were very comical, we look forward to purchasing our annual passes so we can go throughout the summer when the weather is warm (hopefully).