Lake District

Lake District
Lake District


Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

A Day in Brighton

I feel like I’ve been starting every post I’ve written recently with “sorry I haven’t posted in a while” etc. etc. and once again, I do apologise. Life has been pretty hectic as of late and while I was (and still am) really keen to get things moving on my blog again, various other things have just been getting in the way. For instance, I’ve just moved out of my second year uni house. This turned out to be an immensely tedious task, particularly as I ended up having to repaint one of my bedroom walls- our landlord was threatening to deduct £5 from our deposit for every blu tac stain. I had 45 photos on that wall and 45 x 4 is 180 blu tac stains I did not want to risk being charged for! -Finding an absolute colour match to the wall also turned out to be a bit of a nightmare, but I got there in the end (it was ‘Orchid White’ by Dulux in case anyone is wondering). I’ve also been focusing quite a lot of energy on my Etsy recently and, of course, trying to squeeze in some valuable time with friends and family before my move to Spain in what’s now just under two weeks.

While I get myself organised again I thought I’d do a bit of a throwback post to a trip I took to Brighton with Izi during the few days I spent visiting her in London. I’d only ever been to Brighton once before and Izi had never been so we thought we may as well since it’s only an hour outside central London by train. We spent most of the morning just wandering the lanes and having a browse around the different shops. I honestly wish I lived in Brighton, or at least nearby, just so I could live within a reasonable distance of some of the gorgeous shops and boutiques there. We, of course, couldn’t miss paying a visit to Choccywoccydoodah, a café and chocolate shop selling the most spectacular chocolate and cakes. I’ve known about the shop for a while because it used to be the subject of a TV show that gave a ‘behind-the-scenes’ glimpse of the shop’s day-to-day running and how the cakes were made. It gave me a huge appreciation of the work that goes into making one of their amazing cakes, so, while a bespoke cake from the shop can cost up to £3,000, I can certainly understand why.
On our travels we also paid a visit to the Royal Pavilion, a curious, oriental-style building commissioned by George IV in 1815 that resembles something of a mini Taj Mahal. We didn’t go inside because admission costs more or less an arm and a leg but we did take some photos outside before heading off in search of some lunch and picking up some watermelon sorbet- a new experience for us both- on the way.

We spent the rest of the day at the pier where we got a little bit hooked on the amusements and ended up raking in something like 600 tickets which we traded in for a bubble wand, two Brighton tea towels and two scented candles, all of which combined where probably worth about a third of the money we’d spent trying to obtain them. It was fun, but now that I’ve got it out of my system I don’t think I’ll be spending a fortune on 10p and claw machines again anytime soon. At the time though, satisfied with our winnings, we made our way back to the station and then on to London. It was a really nice day out and while it would still take me a long time to tire of the busy London life, I being very much a small town girl (by circumstance more than by choice), I think Izi enjoyed the little break.

Have you been to Brighton? What is your favourite place there?

Breakfast at Sky Garden | 20 Fenchurch Street, London

It was a very rainy day last Sunday, though Izi and I still decided to embark on a breakfast date with a difference at the amazing Sky Garden, a cafe and bar/restaurant that sits high above the London streets atop 20 Fenchurch Street. As far as I know, the building is a fairly recent addition to the London skyline, as is the Sky Garden itself which only opened its doors for the first time in January.

Truthfully, at first I was more than a little concerned about how much this expedition to "London's most exclusive social space" might cost, especially as we were ushered through security on arrival! However, as it turns out, access to the Sky Garden is free! Though you do have to make sure and book tickets at least three days in advance and your visit is limited to an hour and a half. Also, believe it or not, but that is actually a very reasonably-priced croissant pictured above!

Once we had finished our breakfast we set off to explore the levels set above the cafe area. We also had a quick peek out onto the terrace but the rain was absolutely lashing it down so we didn't stay out there for long. Honestly, I expected slightly more from the "gardens", as they were the restaurant's namesake, though really they weren't particularly impressive. I'd say perhaps the greatest reason to visit the Sky Garden would be more for the stunning 360° panoramic views of London it provides.

Due to its central location there were some excellent views of the Thames, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, as well as St Paul's, the Gherkin, and the Shard. The building itself was also very striking, a huge dome-like structure made up almost entirely of glass. I'm definitely glad I had the experience of visiting the Sky Garden during my short time in London!

Cereal Killer Cafe | 139 Brick Lane, Shoreditch

At this moment I'm currently sitting in my best friend, Isabel's flat in Shoreditch, London, having travelled down from Lancaster for a few days now that my exams are finally over. I haven't seen Izi since Christmas, so a visit to London, by now, really felt long overdue.

You may have already heard of Cereal Killer Cafe, a recently-opened café in Shoreditch that has made a name for itself for being the first ever café in the UK to specialise in cereal. And not just any cereal either, but some of the most weird and wonderful cereal you could ever imagine. Its opening actually caused a lot of buzz back home in Northern Ireland too, due to the fact that the café was founded by two twins from my home city of Belfast, and, since it was only around the corner, Izi and I decided to satisfy our curiosity and pay this colourful little Brick Lane oddity a visit.

As you can probably see from the photos, when we arrived the café was incredibly busy. This may have been to do with the fact it was a Saturday morning, though truthfully I can imagine it being like this all the time (kudos to the Keery twins). Each wall was piled high with the boxes of rare and imported cereals from all around the world as well as various "cereal memorabilia", even including some artwork made from... you guessed it, cereal!

I was actually both surprised and impressed by the cafe's sizeable menu which included not only a range of cereal "cocktails"- or speciality cereal mixes- but also 13 different types of milk, poptarts, toast, and a number of toppings. I ended up opting for one of their fifteen aptly named cocktails: 'Marshmallow Submarine', which was a mighty mixture of Golden Nuggets and Marshmallow Mateys with a Twinkie submerged in the middle (presumably the 'submarine') and which I got for £4.60. I have to say, I was initially apprehensive about this combination, but actually, it was pretty great. Isabel ended up choosing a 'Shooty Shooty Bang Bang', made up of Krave Roulette, Twix Mix and even some popping candy! I did try this and can confirm it's as wonderful as it sounds!

We did wonder, as we first came in, how the queue was moving yet no one seemed to be leaving, especially since the seating area inside appeared to be fairly limited. However, we soon discovered there was actually also a downstairs area which was probably the trippiest part of the lot. The walls were lined with various cereal-inspired knickknacks as well as a few retro-style TV sets playing cartoons from the '80s. From reading up on the cafe I believe the idea behind this was to create somewhere nostalgic and reminiscent of a time when cereal was 'fun', you know when you still got the toys inside the boxes?

While I definitely won't be making a habit of paying £4.60 for a bowl of cereal anytime soon, I did feel as though the experience was worth the somewhat substantial price-tag, if only for a bit of cheeky self-indulgence. If you're ever in the London area and find yourself wanting for a quirkier breakfast experience I'd personally look no further than Cereal Killer Cafe.

24 Hours in Edinburgh

Hmm... Long time, no speak! I'm really sorry for my long absence. It's actually been the longest break I've taken so far; the reason being the fact I'm currently halfway through my second year exams so, naturally, my blog had to be put on the back burner for a little while- though I know all you lovely folks don't mind! However, by this time on Friday I will be officially freeee and I'm so ready to put all my energy back into blogging again, I've missed it so much.

If I'm honest, I'm very glad to report that my life recently hasn't really been all toil. Since I'm heading off to Spain scarily soon, I've been trying to take advantage of my final few weeks in the UK and visit a few of my friends in various parts of the country since it might be the last chance I get for a while. In fact, this past week I had quite a long break between exams so I decided to visit my lovely blogger friend, Hayley of Water Painted Dreams

I've been a big fan of Hayley's blog for a really long time. She was (and still is) my go-to girl any time I needed a sweet book recommendation and I've learnt so much about blogging and gained so much from reading her blog that the fact I can now call her my friend brings a small tear to my eye! She's also the first of my blogging pals I've had the chance to meet properly in real life, and the result was magical. Apart from chats with my friend, Britt, I've never really had the chance to talk "blog" in such immense detail with someone who really gets it, but it really is a thoroughly enjoyable experience, especially because blogging is such a huge part of both of our lives. Not only that, but this was actually my first time in Edinburgh, so really it was a double win, maybe even a triple win.

I was up bright and early on Tuesday morning to catch the Megabus from campus at 9am- as per usual, I travel in style- which got me into Edinburgh for around 2pm. I actually really enjoy travelling and the time it allows you to just sit and do absolutely nothing (one of my favourite things to do), so the four and a half hour journey really didn't bother me, especially because the the scenery enroute was bloody amazing! Sometimes I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful part of the world. 
By the time I got to Edinburgh Hayley was just about to sit her last exam so I checked into my hotel and went for a quick snooze before heading out to meet her.

I think the fact I'd never been to Edinburgh before gave us both an excuse to play the tourist. Our first stop, for instance, was Arthur's Seat which Hayley had never been up before either. I'm not big into hiking or hill-walking for the combined reasons of being extremely unfit as well as the fact I'm terrified of slopes. Before you be judgin', it's actually a legitimate phobia called bathmophobia and is also completely irrational. In any case, it prevented me from making it up to the very very top since the thought of even attempting to get down again was giving me palpitations. Hayley, however, being the badass that she is, climbed the whole way up and took the two glorious photos at the very beginning of this post ^^. I don't think either of us actually anticipated how steep of a trek it was when we started, though it was definitely worth it in the end for the incredible views from the top. I think the most demoralising thing about the whole affair, though, was that while the pair of us huffed and puffed our whole way up on the verge of an asthma attack, so many people just sauntered by us as if they were just taking a leisurely stroll. There are two types of people in the world...

Once we made it back down Arthur's seat, we headed back to Hayley's flat where she surprised me with my very own crocheted elephant from her Etsy shop! I've honestly wanted one for so long. I feel like there's something so special about receiving a handmade gift.
After we'd freshened up we set off for dinner at a little Italian near where Hayley lives and then then on to a mini bar crawl around some of bars nearby, starting with The Brass Monkey, which I'd actually heard of before. According to Hayley it's one of the more popular student haunts in the city and I can understand why, it's got a really cool interior and drinks are also relatively cheap. Once we'd finished up there we moved on to Frankenstein's and then to Revs where we polished off a cocktail pitcher between us before making a slightly wobbly journey home.

The next morning we set off once again, this time to visit the National Museum of Scotland where we spent a couple of hours wandering around and musing over minerals and the fact that there were once giant sloths, which is a pretty terrifying thought. I was really impressed by how comprehensive the museum actually was; It was massive and made up of tonnes of different sections across a number of different floors, covering periods of history in all parts of the world. Most of the museums I've been to before tended to focus solely on the history of a particular area so it was nice to visit somewhere with such a huge variety of exhibits. 

After we'd finished off at the museum we headed into the Grassmarket area of the city for some lunch. The original plan had been to go to The Elephant House, famed as being the Edinburgh cafe where J.K. Rowling penned the first Harry Potter books. However, when we got there it was kind of busy and the two of us basically decided that I'd technically seen it now so we should probably just go somewhere else. Which we did. We actually ended up stopping at this little cafe called Peppers for paninis before setting off for our last stop in Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle.

We didn't end up going into the castle because it was quite expensive and Hayley, as an Edinburgh university student, didn't want to risk the bad luck associated with students going inside before graduation- a superstition attached to the castle- but we did take some photos outside it before heading back to Hayley's flat to chill before I had to get my bus.

Hayley had warned me in advance to wear sensible footwear since Edinburgh is really hilly, which I thought I had done, but apparently I wasn't used to walking around in these shoes as much as I thought I was because by the end of the day my feet were killing me. I actually thought I'd crippled myself. Moral of the story: if you're ever planning on visiting Edinburgh, especially if you have to see the majority of tourist sites in the space of a day, wear the most comfortable shoes you own. 
Despite the sore feet though, I had a really lovely time with Hayley and a great first experience of Edinburgh!

Winter Wanderlust | Tenerife *

As some of you may know, particularly if you've ever read my first ever blog post which was on my experiences working as an au pair in Spain, I am a freaking Spanish nerd. I love the language, I love the culture, and I especially love all of Spain's weird and wonderful customs and traditions.
 With the weather getting colder by the day now and my thoughts drifting to dreams of warmer climes, I thought I'd talk a little bit about the things I love about Spanish culture, particularly in one of my favourite Spanish islands, Tenerife.

1: You can siesta all day, and fiesta all night
If one thing is true of the Spanish, they love to party. In fact, Spain is home to more bars and pubs than anywhere else in the world. The Spanish penchant for parties was something I took a little while to get used to on my first visit to Spain, what with me and all my granny-ish tendencies (early nights are kind of my "thing"). On my arrival I suddenly found that lunchtime had become dinnertime, and bedtime? Well, there's really no such thing. In Spain, partying literally until the sun comes up is standard practice, and fortunately, so are very lazy mornings (and by "mornings" I mean "mornings, but also well into the afternoon").

Tenerife in particular is one Spanish island known for it's buzzing nightlife, especially in the infamous Playa de las Americas, a popular party destination for Brits for its bustling stretch of bars and clubs. However, if like me you prefer a taste of the more traditional Spanish nightlife, there's the unassuming Puerto de la Cruz where when the sun goes down, its quiet streets and plazas become a hub of night-time activity.   

2: I genuinely believe Spanish dance music is a wholly superior listening experience
This may be just me, but it would seem that with the ability of the Spanish to host a most excellent "fiesta" also comes, in my opinion, it's ability to produce some of the worlds most epic dance tunes. Spanish music makes me want to dance like my life depended on it (I mean, everyone loves a bit of Enrique in their life though, don't they?) Also, excuse what may well be my poor taste to a more attuned ear but while I was working in Spain the two little girls I was looking after introduced me to Abraham Mateo (who as far as I can understand is basically Spain's answer to Justin Bieber) and now his song "Señorita" will forever bring me back to times spent dancing along to it in the apartment's living room with the girls.

3: Churros (for breakfast)
Just in case you're unfamiliar with what churros are, they're basically long, thin donut-type pastries, (often coated in sugar and eaten with hot chocolate) and in Spain, not only is it normal to eat them for breakfast, it's encouraged. 
Now if that doesn't sell you on the joys of Mediterranean living, I don't know what will!

4: Spain has the most outrageous festivals
Spain is the mother ship of celebrations and there are an absolute multitude of festivals and holidays held all year around (some being stranger than others). My personal favourite is 'La Tomatina', a giant tomato fight held each year on the last Wednesday of August in Buñol, Valencia, and then there's the 'Running of the Bulls', where crazy folk volunteer to be chased by angry bulls through the streets of Pamplona. Though really you can't have a proper festival without building a castell (i.e. a giant human tower), which is common practice at various festivals throughout the year in the region of Catalonia.

Like most other Spanish regions, Tenerife also has its fair share of annual celebrations. In fact, it boasts one of the world's largest carnivals, Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife (The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife), held each February in Santa Cruz, the island's capital. The festival is a dazzling display of music and colour which lasts five days, ending on the final day in an enormous and spectacular parade.

5: The lush landscapes
Spain is rich in beautiful and diverse natural landscapes, from golden beaches in the south to striking mountain ranges in the north, not to mention the picturesque towns and cities featuring an abundance of awe-inspiring architecture in between. Tenerife is no exception to this rule, as a volcanic island it boasts a contrast of rocky volcanic mountains, forests and natural beaches. Teide National Park is popular with those hoping to experience the most rugged of the island's landscape. The national park is also home to El Teide, the 3rd largest volcano in the world.

6: El Corte Inglés
The ultimate shopping experience. That is all.

For more information on holidaying in Spain or Tenerife visit the First Choice website.

Disclaimer: this post has been contributed by First Choice though all opinions expressed have been my own and do not represent the views of  the company. 

Saturday @ the Lakes

"I wandered lonely as a cloud..."

I'm currently sitting on my bed in my uni room, mug of tea in hand and listening to some cheerful morning tunes. Despite the rather dismal weather outside my window this morning I'm perfectly content as my mind drifts back to the sunny Saturday I spent in the Lake District in Cumbria with my friend Chris a couple of weekends ago.

We got up early in the morning that day and caught the bus to Grasmere where we had a little wander around the village and stopped for a spot of brunch in one of the little cafes on the main street overlooking the River Rothay and St Oswald's church where there was a wedding on. Not going to lie I was having a good creep at all the bridesmaids and wedding guests and what they were wearing- I just love weddings! However, we had to leave before the bride arrived though, much to my disappointment! The weather was just perfect, sunny with a just lovely cool breeze. From Grasmere we began walking back towards Rydal through the woods where we stopped to rest and skim stones on the river which ran through it. Once we got to Rydal we took a walk up to the gardens surrounding a manor house called Rydal Hall and then up towards Rydal Mount, the family home of the English poet, William Wordsworth who's also actually buried in Grasmere.

We then kept walking, stopping every now and then to admire the beautiful views and ended up in Ambleside (It's quite far so that actually took us a while) where we went for a quick coffee before catching the bus home.

As always, I'm really supposed to be revising right now... But I still like to keep a good balance of work and leisure time which is why I don't feel too guilty spending an hour or two editing and writing up this blog post, though I do definitely need to get my head down now!
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