#Throwback: My Top Amsterdam Pictures

So Me and Brad went to the Netherlands in June 2019 to meet up with some of our closest friends Mel and Stan! Stan actually lives in the Netherlands too, so it was a pleasure to be hosted by him in his home country! We also met out friend Kaat from Belgium, she came across and stayed a few days with us.

We had an awesome few days and did some amazing things together. These photos below don’t actually do it any justice and it was so hard to find my favourites! We did a boat tour, went to the beach in Zandvoort, the A-dam look out and Swing, so many coffee shop and also a night out on the town! So these are only a quarter of my favourite shots I took in the Netherlands because If I had a choice I would have chosen all of them.

Enjoy and let me know which ones your favourite & if you’ve been to these places below!

SW Coastal Road Trip Day 6 – Hangloose Eden Project Zipe Wire & Bath

Leaving Newquay definitely made the two of us sad, we really didn’t want to leave so have decided we will absolutely go back again as soon as we can. Before we hit the road we headed for breakfast at Fore Café, a cute independent café in Newquay for some sausage and bacon sarnies and a cuppa tea (of course!).

Then it was off to our next stop! We were heading towards Bath for our last night but we couldn’t head that way just yet as we had one more activity planned for the day and that was the Hang Loose Eden Project zipwire! The Hang Loose zipwire is half a mile long and goes over the entirety of the Eden Project so you can have aerial views of the facilities! You are flying on the zipwire for a good 45 seconds at speeds of up to 60 mph so you’re definitely not messing about.

We arrived at the Eden Centre and got parked up before walking to Hang Loose centre! We didn’t unfortunately pay for access to the Eden Project but that means we will definitely go back which is a bonus. Once we arrived and put our bags into storage it was off to get our harnesses sorted. You book a time slot for your flight but definitely make sure you have nothing planned for afterwards or somewhere to be. The time we were waiting just to get our harnesses on and to get up to the zipwire start point was well over an hour from our allotted time. But once we were sorted and ready to go it was so exciting! I had my go pro so I could get some top notch footage so I told them I had it on me and they gave me an appropriate helmet with the correct clasp on for me as well! It was so exhilarating I was smiling the whole way down, Brad and I went side by side as we went and it really was such an awesome experience. I couldn’t recommend it more. See my footage here!

It was a really fun experience and only £35 per person, I definitely recommend this as something fun to do. There are also more activities much like the zipwire as well like huge pillow jumps and an aerial swing as well. I definitely want to go back to do more and also just to visit the Eden Project in general.

Once done here next stop was Bath!

Now as we left the Eden Project I decided I’d drive us to Bath and the regret was so real. The roads as we left the Eden project were just awful. I wouldn’t even really call them roads, maybe vehicle able one way footpaths. Honestly if you met another car coming the other way you genuinely had to wonder who was going to go where and just how far you’d have to reverse if you were the one going back. BUT after a stressful but very well handled drive we made it to Bath in time to freshen up and find some food but not before checking into the most BEAUTIFUL townhouse in the centre of Bath.

We stayed in a place called the Broad Street Townhouse. We couldn’t have been any more central if we tried and especially for such a great price, we only paid £89 for the night with breakfast included but that meant that everywhere we went for the day was in walking distance. We parked our car for 24 hours in the Charlotte Street car park which was really well priced and walked to the hotel.

Broad Street Townhouse is attached to a pub, The Pig and Fiddle, which was perfect for us, although typically in the evening we got back too late to have a drink before it closed. We did manage to have the most amazing breakfast there though as they served the breakfast in the pub and it was awesome. But before we get too carried away with breakfast… We arrived to this beautiful room with a wooden and dark green theme. It was so fancy and beautiful with a few green plants in the room and matching furniture and even matching mugs for your tea and coffee? They also had a coffee machine I the room and TV, the bedroom windows were basically floor to ceiling with lovely deep green curtains, the bathroom was out of this world, it looked brand new and sparkling clean and the décor was straight out of Pinterest. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever stayed anywhere so nice, and the bed was SO BIG and comfortable I wish we never had to leave. All in all a solid 11/10 for somewhere to stay in bath that’s worth the money 10000%.

Once we were all freshened up we decided to go for our favourite food and walked to a Thai restaurant called Salathai. The service was quick, attentive, the atmosphere was really lovely and the windows being huge it was lovely and bright, and the food was just to die for. I always overeat whenever I go out for food but with food this good? how could I not? We had duck pancakes to start and the rest is history (aka I do not remember what we both ordered because it was gone in a matter of minutes). But we could walk too and from the restaurant back to where we stayed which made it even nicer as the weather was lovely.

This was our LAST meal of our road trip and we were super sad about this, I didn’t want it to end. Tomorrow (the next post) leads to some Bath exploring, Stonehenge and unfortunately, home.

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!

Exploring Paris, A walking tour of our own – Day 1

So my wonderful man brought me to Paris on the Eurostar for my birthday!

What a hero. This was just before everything got shut down due to Covid-19. So we were lucky we managed to get our trip in when we did. We stayed in London the night before at Kings Cross before getting out early Eurostar train at 7:55am on Friday morning! Once we arrived we were on track and en route arriving at Gard Du Nord in France, Paris!

So we headed to our Ibis in the commercial sector, La Defense and we walked, EVERYWHERE. We walked to the tube station from the Eurostar and got an all day ticket for €7 which was really handy as it got us everywhere all day and considering we were there for 3 days (Should’ve been 4 but we will get to that!) it was actually cheaper to buy these day tickets than it was to buy a travel pass. We managed half the journey with our bags and decided to get off and get an Uber the rest of the way so we could plan our journeys in the hotel! The hotel was nice and the room was perfect for the two of us with a view of the River Seine out of the window and we could just see the top of the Eiffel Tower! So we dumped out bags and off we went exploring with City Mapper, our trusty travel app, in tow.

La Defense was the commercial sector so there were HUGE sky scrapers and buildings everywhere. We were walking on pathway raised above the read and it was very modernised and windy. It was Impressive to say the least and every day we were graced with beautiful weather and before the tube station to get to the centre a huge pond/body of water which was lovely and out of place due to the location! A really nice touch. The tubes were easy to maintain, just like London, and so we didn’t have many issues!

Although we did run into one issue. We arrived at the tube station Concorde and suddenly the doors opened and security piled in shouting what I can only image was “end of the line, get off the train”. Confused we asked on the platform what was going on as we had 3 more stops and there had been an accident up ahead. Hopefully it wasn’t serious, but this abrupt stop did lead us to leave the tube station earlier than anticipated. And boy were we glad we did! We found ourselves at Place De La Concorde.

A huge roundabout, cobbled roads, beautiful statues and fountains in the middle and the Palace itself at the end! The pair of us would have had absolutely no idea about this stop had we not gotten off! And it also warranted walk through the Jardin Des Tuileries which lead to the Musee Du Louvre. The Jardin Des Tuileries is in the centre of Paris and free to enter with 2 fountains and endless sculptures and statues throughout the park. It was a beautiful day and a beautiful walk through the gardens! We sat down by one of the fountains and relaxed for a little before moving on to the Musee Du Louvre!

Musee Du Lourve was as beautiful as all the pictures I had seen before, we walked through the archway from the park and over towards the museum itself. Due to Covid-19 the Museum was only open to ticket holders and unfortunately we didn’t have €60 each to spare, but it was another thing off the list just to see the beautiful architecture that is the Louvre itself and the beautiful building surrounding it. Brad was incredibly impressed and naturally pictures of us trying to pinch the top of the Louvre were a given. As we walked through the building surrounding the Louvre we headed out of one of the exits and over a Bridge which I can only assume used to be the Love Lock bridge! Much to our dismay of course the locks had all be removed as the bridge was way to heavy, but it was lovely to experience none the less. A few locks still remained on lamps.

Once over the bridge and walking beside the Seine we found the Statue Equestre Du Marechal Foch standing proudly in the middle of a bridge over the Seine, a militant memorial of the 19th century. After heading through some more beautifully aesthetically pleasing areas, we made it to the Latin Quarter.

The Latin Quarter is beside Notre-dame Cathedral and this was definitely an interesting sight as of course it was on fire not all that long ago. Works are well and truly underway and you cannot enter the area, only look by from the main road which is exactly what we did! I hope to go back once the Cathedral is repaired so I can get a proper good look at one of the most beautiful Cathedrals known.

Over the bridge at in the Latin Quarter we found a live band raising money for charity by the Fontaine Saint-Michel, A monumental fountain in Paris showing St Michel slaying a dragon! It was beautiful and very impressive. And in the perfect spot to have a beer! So we stopped in this area and sat down at Le Depart for a beer and some pretzels (a nice touch!). Although it cost a bomb, and we later realised that we had eaten into a tourist trap. Literally down the road to our left were pubs of the same caliber but selling beers for cheaper. But we didn’t mind, we knew for next time and enjoyed our beverage stop.

At the very top of the Latin Quarter was the beautiful building this is the Pantheon. It was a big old hill to climb to get to this beautiful building but totally worth it, the sun was setting and there was even a daffodil area going on in the square area outside the building so people could buy fresh daffodils and daffodil bulbs! It was getting late and on our way up to the Pantheon (which we wish we could’ve gone inside but Covid-19 had closed its doors which is wise!) we passed 2 pubs and tried to get in but they were SO Busy as they were buy a college, so we headed back down the hill for dinner!

Dinner was at Jardin Notre-Dame and the food was absolutely glorious. Our server was absolutely mental but she made the experience. I had Duck Confit whilst Brad has Shnitzel and we shared some wine whilst we looked out the window at Notre-dame all lit up! It was a cute little dinner spot and once we were done we headed literally over the road to Polly Maggoo for drinks, a rough and ready place for pints. We sat outside under the heaters and taked for hours.

I am so grateful for my man and this trip, we headed back to the hotel happily sloshed, I was baffled about how some of the trains were double deckers, and we were ready for day 2!

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.

#Throwback Sri Lanka 2019 – Our top 20 pictures!

Myself and another one of my best gals Mel went to Sri Lanka in February 2019 with our University and it was an amazing trip that you can read all about here!

So I decided what better way to reminisce, especially during lockdown and everything going on in the world, than our top 10 pictures each from our trip! I pinged Mel a text and she was all down for emailing me those beautiful pictures!

So without further ado, here are my top 10 pictures and below mine are Mels top 10!

My Top 10 Pictures

Mels Top 10 Pictures!

Sri Lanka – Saree Fittings & Mahaweli Reach

This day was a free day and we very much enjoyed relaxing and it was also SAREE DAY!

I had been so excited for this day the moment I got my Saree at the start of the trip. My Saree was light and dark blue and made of the most beautiful silk. I had a nice blue crop top to put underneath my top half and a mesh skirt to wear underneath by skirt!

The ladies arrived and it was fitting time!

We were brought into one of the rooms in the hotel and with our saree’s in hand it was hair pin and safety pin time! They used so many safety and hair pins to keep my saree secured and in place and I felt so elegant and beautiful once I was all dressed!

Once everyone was in their saree’s it was time for our final dinner of the trip!

We headed down to Mahaweli Reach for dinner!

This hotel is a beautiful 4 star hotel who hosted us all. A buffet dinner with Sri Lankan cuisine as well as english cuisine on offer for the buffet. There was also a singer for some live music, we are served wine and juice and it was all laughs and bliss.

There was many photo opportunities between us girls and It really made me excited and realise that I had been the whole trip surrounded by some of the most beautiful people I have been so lucky to learn and grow with since starting university. I couldn’t be more grateful for a beautiful bunch of girls.

Enjoy some saree pictures from our last night!

Once the dinner was finished it was TO THE BAR.

Licence to Grill where we had visited beforehand had said the would host us for a party with alcohol even though it wasn’t allowed to stay open past a certain time nor serve alcohol! Every time the police came past the lights were turned off and the music was turned down it was great fun.

As we trekked to the top floor bar and restaurant we were ready to go and enjoyed some drinks and music on the rooftop on our last night. The right way to spend the last night.

Train Journeys Back to Colombo and unfortunate final goodbyes in the next blog post!

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!