Things to See and Do When Visiting Blenheim Palace

Things to See and Do When Visiting Blenheim Palace 1

The Bloke and I decided to spontaneously go out on a day trip the other day – we’ve both been feeling a little low and have cabin fever from being in the house for an extended period of time, so we both took the day off and went to Blenheim Palace. As you do. It is something that has been on my UK bucket list for a while, the weather was fairly reasonable and surprisingly, it’s only a 90 minute drive away from Birmingham. 

Most famously known as being the birthplace of Winston Churchill, Blenheim Palace is the principal residence of the Duke of Marlborough and the only non-royal country house in England that holds the title of ‘palace.’ Built between 1705 and 1722, it was a gift to John Churchill – the 1st Duke of Marlborough – by Queen Anne in thanks for his victory at the Battle of Blenheim in 1704, and was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.  Continue reading

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It’s a Small World: Making Friends from the Internet

A few weeks ago I was forwarded a message by my Canadian blog friend – a short Facebook post that had been shared in a group that I am not a member of, but she is. The post was from a blogger who lived in my local area (although I didn’t know her), putting out a request for a blogging companion to accompany her to an event that she was attending at the end of the month. I contacted her and we messaged back and forth over a few days. We found that have a few people and things in common, including the fact that her husband works at the same place as one of my friends. A few days later, we met up at the event and immediately got on really well – she was warm and friendly, easy to talk to, I instantly liked her and had a really enjoyable evening. So much so, in fact, that I thoroughly intend on meeting up with her again in the future for lunch or coffee.  Continue reading

#RentLive: My RENT Obsession

No Day But Today

Those who follow the blog regularly will know that I love a good musical. I’ve been lucky enough to see a number of musicals performed in theatres both locally in Birmingham, in Manchester, on the West End in London and even on Broadway over the last decade. However, there’s one musical in particular that is my favourite above all the others, that I know inside out and will watch over and over while feeling like I’ve been reunited with a group of friends every time I do…

RENT.

As with most things, I was very late to the RENT party, only discovering its brilliance in 2016 – 20 years after its first Off Broadway performance, 11 years after the release of the movie and 8 years after its final Broadway performance. Continue reading

20 Travel and Money-Saving Tips When Visiting Barcelona

20 travel and money saving tips when visiting Barcelona 4

*First published in 2015 – updated for 2019

This post contains affiliate links, which means I receive a small amount of money if you make a purchase from any of the Amazon links included

I love Barcelona. The Bloke and I were lucky enough to visit a few years ago and it was an amazing experience. However, like any popular tourist destination it can be expensive and difficult to navigate, so here are 20 travel and money-saving tips when traveling to Barcelona for the first time!

Choose your hotel wisely. When going on a city break, it’s more than likely that you will spend most of your time outside, but, for me at least, it’s important that the room is clean and you feel safe to leave possessions behind while you are out exploring. We did very little research on this, but were extremely lucky with what we booked. The Hotel Sant Augusti was exactly that – clean, safe and in a fabulous location, being right next to one of the main metro lines, La Bouquiera Market, the beach, The Gothic Quarter and La Rambla. It also served a buffet breakfast every morning from 7.30am – 11.00am and had free wi-fi, which was useful when keeping in contact with loved ones.

Work out in advance what it is that you really want to see, and where possible, book tickets online before you go as there are enormous queues and long waits for the main attractions. For example, we arrived at La Sagrada Familia early, but had to queue for about half an hour to buy a ticket and then waited a further three hours before we were allowed in as there were timed entrance spots. It may be also useful to take a guidebook and print off maps of the areas you wish to travel to in advance – we had to buy a map when we were there and soon discovered that it was poorly labelled and many of the sights and attractions were in the wrong place. Continue reading

Teacher Mode, Even When There’s Blood

This. With more snot.

After teaching for nearly ten years and working with thousands of students it is inevitable that I run into them from time to time as I am going about my daily business. Generally, it’s a relatively painless experience- they either say hello and stop for a chat, look past me as if I’m not there and carry on walking, and the odd few will ignore me yet feel the need to shout my name out at me from a distance. The name-shouting is something that has always baffled me – I must give the impression that I regularly need reminding of what my name is – but I generally ignore it until I’m ready to leave, shoot them my nastiest teacher expression and walk away. I don’t teach anymore, therefore I don’t need to pretend to like any of the little cherubs who wish to cause trouble when they see me like I had to before. Continue reading

14 Ways to Avoid Procrastination

14 ways to stop procrastination  - stop procrastinating and learn how to be more organised

I’ve often referred to myself as the Queen of Procrastination. It has been a problem that began in early adulthood – finding anything and everything I possibly could do instead of something that was important, effectively becoming extremely proficient at doing nothing. Don’t believe me? Here’s how I regularly wasted my time when a deadline was looming.

My procrastination was always at its worst when:

  • I knew that a task wouldn’t be an easy or short process.
  • I found something difficult.
  • I was rebelling against something or someone because I don’t like being told what to do, even if the person telling me to do something was myself.
  • I had to go through the process of learning something new before I even began.
  • I found it boring and/or monotonous, making it become a chore.
  • I wasn’t under pressure with an impending deadline and/or wasn’t accountable to anyone else. 
  • I was frightened of failing. 

Continue reading

New Year, No New Goals

It’s a little belated, but Happy New Year! The Bloke and I celebrated by indulging in a slightly more healthy set of snacky treats than the cheese and Toblerone apocalypse that was Christmas, watching Stardust for the bajillionth time followed by broadcast of the fireworks from the bank of the Thames and the London Eye, after which we went to bed. 

Party animals, we are not. Even now, at the rather spring-chicken-esque age of 37, I think it’s safe to say that my days of throwing on a dress the size of a tea towel and strutting my stuff around a heaving nightclub in a pair of heels that would make my feet hurt for a week are long gone – even the mere thought it sends me running upstairs to find my comfy jammies and slippers.  Continue reading

2018: A Year in Review

My #Best9 of 2018 on Instagram

2018 has been a mixed year. There’s been a few personal and professional changes, some of which were not as positive as I would have liked and I’ve allowed myself to wallow in a funk on more than a few occasions, at one point even contemplating giving up blogging altogether. However, when I looked through my Bullet Journal and the photographs on my phone in preparation for this post, I was reminded that this year has actually been full of more incredible experiences than almost of any other. 

Here’s just some of the highlights…

The Bloke won a camera for a squirrel picture. That squirrel picture was more popular than our wedding photos.  Continue reading

Lego Destruction, An Exploding Camembert and a Christmas Dinner Record

I’m serving some ‘food barrel realness’ after consuming more than my entire bodyweight in Toblerone, cheese, crisps, dip, honey roasted peanuts and potatoes over the last few days. I always find it incredulous how quickly the Christmas Eve / Christmas Day period actually goes, especially with the hype and the level of preparation that goes into the weeks (and sometimes, months) leading up to it, and yet it is already over for another year, seemingly in the blink of an eye.

Our Christmas was spent at home with the cat. I had planned our eating and viewing schedule and got most of the food ready in advance, and for the most part, it all went very well.  Continue reading

Happy Christmas Eve!

Christmas Day is nearly upon us and I’ve just about reached the point where I think that everything is now done. It’s completely different to this time a year ago – I was so excited about our first Christmas together as husband and wife that I had planned and organised the whole thing weeks in advance – whereas this year we managed to get the cards sent out and the food bought just a few days ago. Perhaps it’s my mindset – I hadn’t been feeling the Christmassy vibe over December so most things were left until the last minute. Thankfully, when the cupboards had been stocked, the cards and presents sent and I had turned on the fairy lights, lit the candles and curled up on the couch with The Bloke it (thankfully) started to feel a little more festive.  Continue reading