South West Coastal Road Trip Day 1 – Bournemouth

Hopped on the plane at LAX…

Im joking, we got in the car in Cambridgeshire and started off on our 7 day adventure! We popped our Bournemouth Airbnb destination in on Google Maps and were off! The first half of the journey apparently only taking us 2 and a half hours. Naturally the route to Bournemouth took us down the M25. If you’re from the UK you know this instantly as the M25 Car park. You’d be spot on, after one food stop on the way post M25 we arrived in Bournemouth 4 and a half hours after we left. Just a touch longer than it should have taken but we didn’t mind.

Once we drove under the bridge that said ‘Welcome to Bournemouth’ all of our travel grumbles had well and truly gone away.

Our Airbnb was in Winton which is just outside of Bournemouth. Only a 10 minute Uber from the beach and centre of Bournemouth too which was really helpful! The Uber only cost us £8 as well which was super cheap! We had a shared bathroom but it was beautifully clean and the room was also cosy and had everything we needed I.E a double bed, bedside table and a wardrobe that we didn’t use because we didn’t even unpack really! We paid £38 for one nigh and between the two of us this was such a brilliant price. It meant we could spend more money out and about.

I’ll be posting a link to where we stayed in a later post on which Airbnb’s we stayed in on our trip so you also have the opportunity to stay in these too!

We arrived at Bournemouth beach and as soon as we got out of the taxi we whipped our masks off (as you can’t get an Uber without a mask due to Covid) and breathed in the sea air! It was absolutely rammed on the beach, luckily we hadn’t planned to go in today. Bournemouth beach is huge and beautiful. Bournemouth was actually one of my university choices when I was doing journalism. Once I decided to change my course I was sad that Tourism and Hospitality etc wasn’t an option anymore, so it was good to be able to visit a place I could’ve spent 3 years of my life!

We paid the £1.30 each for Bournemouth pier admission and made our way down to the end. There was a restaurant and the end and also a beautiful butterfly mural on the way down to the left of the pier. Of course I had to get a picture! As we got to the end of the pier it was awesome to see a zip wire that went from the end of the pier to the beach! It was £25 but because we already had the Eden Project Hangloose Zip Wire booked for later on in the week we settled for some cocktails at Key West Bar and Grill and watched everyone fly over our heads instead!

After a few cocktails and the temperature drastically cooling down we decided to walk along the promenade of the beach for a while and then head to find some food. The beach huts were all really cute and there were plenty of amusement arcades right on the seafront. There was even a boujie bar on the sand with deck chairs and seafood. It was super fancy and we were not dressed for the occasion so decided to head into Bournemouth for dinner at a recommendation called 60 Million Postcards.

Originally as we hadn’t booked we got tired away, they told us to try again later so we headed to Backyard Bar which was in the car park of a bar/hotel called 1812. We definitely weren’t dressed for this place either but they let us in for some drinks because money is money! After making some friends and drinking more cocktails we tried to head back to 60 Million Postcards and we were in luck! We got a table for 2 sat outside and the food was INCREDIBLE.

I had a couple of gin cocktails and Brad enjoyed a couple of beers, but the food was absolutely something else. The two of us were taken by the Chicken Katsu Burger so we both decided to have this. We both also ordered Skin on Fries to have with this and they didn’t do Onion Rings (my personal favourite) but they did do some Spicy Battered Onions so I absolutely got a bowl of those as well. The whole meal was out of this world delicious and the vibe here was just so relaxed and mellow. If you went into the restaurant and bar you can see on the walls why its called 60 Million Postcards, there are postcards all over the walls! I believe the building used to be an only post office and when they found all these left over postcards what better thing to do with them then place them all over the walls. Thus 60 Million Postcards was born. It was also really well priced! For a couple of roads of drinks and food for the two of us we payed £30 each which was really really good and it was all so worth the money.

We then headed back to the Airbnb in our £8 Uber to get some good sleep ready for the next day of road tripping ahead!

Next Stop? Durdle Door, Dorset!

My London Bucket List: Did someone say FOOD (& too much drink) DAY?

This was the day of all days, we had been waiting for a day to try some amazing food places in and around London and this was perfect! Brad and I got the train into central London early and met with our friends Mason and Christina for some breakfast! Because how else do you start the day? With the most important meal!

So after we arrived at Kings Cross we headed just up the road and had Breakfast at Dishoom! An Indian restaurant just next to Coal Drops Yard, Kings Cross (other locations also available! Shoreditch and Covent Garden!) that offers an incredible breakfast! And what better way to start the day then a Bellini with breakfast and a Sausage & Bacon Naan! I had been to Dishoom before with a couple of girlfriends but that was for dinner, and even then we had to queue. So when we arrived for Breakfast we certainly had a queue, a dead giveaway the food was going to be lovely. And it was! My first time having a Naan bread for breakfast, and with some beautiful sauce and some freshly cooked sausage and bacon, it was like a dream come true. The other enjoyed a Kejriwal which consists of different spices, two eggs and a piece of chilli cheese toast! it was either this one or the Parsi Omelette which also consists of eggs and tomato, onion, coriander and green chilli with fire toast! Both sound a dream and their food also looked amazing!

We then headed across the road to have a nosey at Coal Drops Yard. I had been in the area so many times but had never visited this little space! The shops were nice and there didn’t appear to be many chain clothing stores. More independent stores! It was beautiful with all the Christmas decor and also the Samsung offices above it!

Next up was Borough Market for a cake snack! We headed to a stall which Mason recommended where they did the most delicious cakes and pastries. I am almost certain we all got our own pastries to chow down on. Borough market was as ever, rammed, especially as it was Christmas! I found a stall selling mould wine so that was an absolute must and it was delicious, especially to wash down the pastry I had eaten.

Next up we needed somewhere to have some BEERS. So we headed to a pub just around the corner from Borough Market called Bunch of Grapes! It was a small but busy pub with a huge double level smoking area out back. I’d be lying if is said I ventured further than my seat in the smoking area. The drinks were flowing and its always good to catch up and chat shit. The atmosphere was lovely as well, so we didn’t mind paying London prices for the pints! Definitely a cosy little spot for you and your friends.

For an afternoon snack (or lunch? I guess) we were headed to Mercato Metropolitano for cocktails, wine and more food! Mercato Metropolitano was something I didn’t even know existed. Thanks to Mason and Christina, Brad and I were enlightened. It was like another Borough Market but with more food vendors, easier signs, brighter colours and more decor! It looked like a great place to come and have drinks in the evening but also come and have some food! Honestly, they have everything food wise, Italian to Vietnamese, Hot dogs and seafood stalls, the list doesn’t end. And it is reasonably priced as well! We spent most of our time in Bottles and Battles drinking lovely wine and I ordered a plate of bread and oils whilst Christina and Mason headed out to get some dumplings. It was such a pretty place as well!

Up next was Carnaby Street for more bevvies! And our party was growing! The christmas light display was as impressive as ever and it was SUPER busy. Here we met some more friends James, Aneeka and Greg for drinks and dinner in and around this area. We had some drinks in Zebrano as there is a downstairs cocktail bar. Drinks are certainly not cheep but they were definitely strong and we needed some dinner to line out stomaches more!

So we headed from Carnaby across to Chinatown. I was incredibly excited because I had never been to Chinatown before and it has always been on my bucket list. So to be able to enjoy some Dimsum, which I have also never had before, in Chinatown was really great! We ate in a place called Plum Valley. The food was phenomenal and considering we had one other person, Lily, join us for dinner as well, it wasn’t that expensive as we got dishes to share and some wine as well. At this point I was well and truly sloshed but happy to be full, drunk and with everyone. We managed to get our own small room and the food was fantastic, Brad nearly learnt how to use some chop sticks that day.

But Brad and I had MORE PLANS after dinner. WINTER WONDERLAND TO MEET MEL AND STAN! Our good friends Mel and Stan were over at Hyde park and because Stan lives in the Netherlands he was over to visit Mel! He had absolutely no idea he was meeting us so it was a really lovely surprise to see them both. As we managed to arrive as Winter Wonderland was closing we had a quick boogie and a beer in the rain and then headed to Covent Garden on the tube to The Nags Head for a pint! Mel and Stan were staying in Covent Garden and it was on our way home so we headed for a catch up pint and it was so lovely.

All in all, we left London royally full of food and royally drunk. What better day eh? I couldn’t possibly have asked for one. All these places were amazing and in total I spent just over £100 including my travel across London. Definitely a day worth saving for and definitely a well worth experience.

Exploring Liverpool with the Galdem

Liverpool was an awesome experience I was so happy to experience with my favourite girls, Mel and Jess! Myself and Mel stayed at Jess’s house for a chilled night in before getting up and heading straight to Liverpool, as driven by Jess!

*Disclamer: This was a few months prior to all Covid-19 restrictions and knowledge.

We had a lovely opportunity to stay at the Hilton at John Lennon airport (all creds to Mel for getting that all organised) we were in a triple room and it was amazing and spacious, enough room for us girls to get ready at the same time for our big night out in Liverpool that evening!

When we arrived in Liverpool we arrived earlier than check in so we headed straight into Liverpool and got all parked up ready to explore. As we came out of the John Lennon car park we were greeted by the Radio City Tower! We had to have an excuse to go back, so as we didn’t go up inside the tower, what better excuse do we need for next time?

Once we had chowed down on our Tortilla naked burritos for lunch it was time to explore! We headed straight to Mathew Street where it is filled with endless Beatles memorabilia, museums and pubs! It was a cool and colourful street with plenty going on through-out the day as the pubs were busy, not forgetting the famous Cavern Club! The most famous bar in Liverpool.

For an entry fee of £2.50 you can head down the multiple sets of stairs to have a drink and a dance in the Cavern Club! With photographs of the Beatles and other famous artists on the walls, the walls are also COVERED in graffiti. Including our own, Mel pulled out a sharpie and before we knew it JMJ was inscribed of the wall of the Cavern Club for the rest of time (or until they covered the walls or someone else wrote over it). There was famous items of clothing and guitars in display units on the wall and a live musician for entertainment, and he was funny, we enjoyed a little groove whilst we drank our drinks!

As we headed out of the Cavern Club and made a lift turn you can’t ignore the Cilla Black memorial statue as well as the ‘Wall of Fame’ and statue of John Lennon leant against the wall. So many famous names written on the wall it was hard to keep track, and they stretched all the way upwards and along. A beautiful piece of memorabilia.

Once we were done with Mathew street we headed down to Albert Dock where we saw the statue of the Beatles! A photo opportunity to have a picture walking with the Beatles was not missed before we continued to walk along the quayside of Albert Dock to a little café called Rubens! This café was cosy and everything we needed for our little pit stop whilst exploring! This café is also right by the Liverpool Tate Museum, we walked past this museum and saw their huge colourful sculpture outside too.

Then we headed to Bold Street for some dinner! We ate at a very aesthetically pleasing restaurant called LEAF, the interior was beautiful, there was a lovely atmosphere and it was SO BUSY. We didn’t book but I would definitely recommend booking a table as we were very lucky we got seated. I had calamari and my GOD, it was the largest portion I have ever had in my entire life, I definitely did not finish the plate but the food was well worth the money as it was SO GOOD.

We then headed back to the hotel (after enjoying the street art) to get ready for JUNKYARD GOLF

Junkyard Golf was really cool, I’d heard all about it but never done it before. We booked the Pablo hole and got some cocktails before we headed off on our Mini golfing journey. In the end it was a great laugh, we played 9 holes and Mel well and truly won with myself coming second and Jess coming third! We then headed to the Alchemist for cocktails, it was such an awesome venue. The music was god, the aesthetic and the smoking cocktails and the barmen showing off, what wasn’t to love?

NEXT UP on our night out we then to the Beatles pub back down Mathew Street! It was SO busy and all the pubs were rammed, they had already been busy around 5pm so the fact that at 10pm they were STILL busy meant that I fell in love with Liverpool.

When then headed to Revolutions which was actually MADNESS. There was a woman in a bikini dancing on the bar with strobe lighting in her hands, we were smashing back shots whilst confetti cannons were going off. THIS WAS IN A REVS. LIVERPOOL MAN, ACTUALLY MAD. Once we were done here we made it to Neighbourhood.

Neighbourhood was the boujiest bar, I loved it. As you walked I there was a saxophone player and a drummer playing along to the music. It was a huge open space and everyone was well dressed, The Neighbourhood written in neon along the back of the bar. I definitely didn’t feel like I was dressed up enough for this, but I loved the cocktails. Security was tight and it was fairly busy, I would happily go back. We went out for a smoke and one of the bouncer told us he could take us to a cool club for free. We took the bait, minus the nice Pornstar martinis’ we wont discuss the empty club itself.

It was an amazing night, we got an Uber back to the hotel and slept like babies. The journey home was painful and I definitely threw up at maccies. I made it home to Cambridge fine though, so I guess that works out well!

All in all, a great trip with my girlies.

Sri Lanka – My First Exposure to Modern Day Slavery & The Devastating Reality

The Tea Plantation

We headed in our busloads to a small tea plantation based about 40 minutes outside of Kandy.

It was certainly an experience I don’t think a lot of us were ready for. As we arrived we were lead down a set of stairs over to a populated area where we were then brought up another set of stairs where houses started to emerge between the trees. Once we had arrived we walked through rows of small houses with washing hung up outside, baby goats roaming around everywhere, the surfaces were all uneven and it was muddy. There was one water tap we came across as we arrived in the area that we saw, and the toilets were a hole in the ground and a bucket of water to wash it down.

This was first hand modern day slavery and living quarters for those who worked at the tea plantation we were visiting.

To be allowed access to these small housing buildings that sleep up to 8 people, have minimal kitchen facilities and lounge area, and a single toilet between 60-80 people living on the plantation, you must have a minimal amount of 2 family members working on the tea plantation to access these luxuries.

Minimum wage for working their 12 hour days picking tea leaves is £2.50 per person, for the day. This is only just enough to feed the families that live on the plantation. Just about enough for those with children to buy rice and the bare minimal.

The housing is also owned by the managers at the plantation. This means that those living in these houses can be removed at any moment with no explanation by the managers at the plantation. It was a really difficult situation to be in and see how they lived under such poor conditions. We brought them sweets and chocolate and a few of us, including myself, got very upset about the situation.

It’s definitely some food for thought when you’re drinking your next cup of tea, I am not saying don’t drink your tea because it potentially funds their lives. But it’s still a little passing thought for you.

They were the most humble people, a few had TV’s in their homes or a laptop so they still had access to things, but majority slept on the floor, there is one bed in each home and to sleep 8 is quite a push. They couldn’t understand why a few of us were upset and crying, they wished us well upon us leaving. Although, I found a few of us removed ourselves from the area before we were due to leave as it left us very heavy hearted. I also refused to take my go-pro out whilst there, I filmed the entirety of my trip, but not this part.

Just prior I bought 2 large containers full of loose tea leaves to bring back to the UK with me. They’re delicious. But I will always think about those families whenever I pull it out of my beautifully white painted cupboard in my perfectly good home, where they have none of this, and cherish how lucky we really are.

 Licence To Grill Bar & Restauarant

Once our visit to the plantation was over we visited Licence to Grill, a burger and grill restaurant on the 5th floor of a building! The journey up the stairs was colourful as there was beautiful wall art all the way up the walls and the ceilings.

The FOOD was amazing, grilled chicken to burgers and much more all on an open rooftop terrace. They also agreed to host our leaving party even though they can’t serve alcohol past a certain time, but that was no bother for them.

Yet even whilst we were eating, the thought of the plantation workers was still quite prominent in a lot of our minds.

We also came back here for lunch one day whilst it was raining, we sat under the terrace and had some food watching the rain come and go, it was really peaceful and lovely especially as we were tired this day. After lunch Myself, Mel and El headed off to get some Henna!

More beautiful artwork, but on ourselves this time!

My Paris Bucket List

So today is the day I have been waiting for for about a month now, Its my birthday!

THIS MEANS WE LEAVE FOR PARIS TOMORROW MORNING!

My man has booked for us to go away for a few days as a birthday treat so this only means one thing, a Paris bucket list! I have so much that I want to see and do whilst we are there but here are just the few, I will be in Paris whilst this post is live and if there are any recommendations that aren’t on the list, they will be greatly appreciated! Especially food places! You can also tweet me at @_itsjustjessie_!

The Paris Bucket List

  • The Eiffel Tower
  • Climb the Eiffel Tower
  • Notre-Dame
  • Centre Pompidou
  • Cocktails on top of the Pompidou
  • Musee Rodin
  • Tour Montparnasse
  • Sacre-coeur
  • East Mamma for food
  • Avenue Des Champs-Elysee
  • French Statue of Liberty
  • The Catacombs of Paris (Ever seen the film As Above, So Below? If you’re not into horror films, don’t).
  • The gardens at the grand mosque
  • Maracron at Laduree
  • Arc De Triomphe
  • Musee Picasso
  • Seine River Cruise
  • The Louvre (If it has been re-opened as I know the Coronavirus caused it to close).
  • Moulin Rouge
  • La Maison Plisson for food
  • Bluebird for drinks and food
  • Trocadero Gardens
  • Jardin Du Luxemborg
  • Pantheon
  • Eat some frogs legs!
  • Lunch in the latin Quarter
  • Walk through Palace de Bastille
  • Brunch on Sunday like the Parisians Do!
  • Brunch at 46 & 3rd
  • Galeria La Fayette
  • La Marine
  • Le Comptoir General
  • Foundation Louis Vuitton
  • Palais De Tokyo
  • Palace of Versailles