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

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

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

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

A Night at the Birmingham Awards

Last week The Bloke and I put on our glad rags and went to Edgbaston Stadium for the Birmingham Awards event. I had been shortlisted for Blogger of the Year, which came as a complete surprise, and I found myself surrounded by businesses, organisations and individuals who work hard to contribute to and promote the city.   It had been an interesting afternoon getting ready – by the time we left the house I had managed to put my toe through my tights and was wearing stomach-holding undergarments that were so tight that I wondered if I could get through the evening without breathing too much.  Continue reading

The Viking Picture Perfect Event: A Photography Masterclass with Elouisa Georgiou

Last week I was invited to a Digital Photography Masterclass with Viking, given by professional photographer Elouisa Georgiou.

I love taking photos – amassing thousands of images over the years in various folders on my computer and blog – but usually find it easier to use my phone for the ease of taking a quick picture without having to go through the hassle of carrying a heavy camera around and the option of immediately editing and sharing across my social media. However, this masterclass was a great opportunity to develop some of my skills using a DSLR – something that I rarely use – and I asked The Bloke to give me a crash course on the basics beforehand.

The event took place at Dirty Martini in Birmingham, and I was joined by other bloggers in a Christmas-themed setting as Elouisa introduced us to her work and some of the techniques she uses to create different effects on her images.

Continue reading

Peggy Porschen Cakes, London

Visiting Peggy Porschen Cakes, London

Whenever I go to London I always research interesting ideas on Pinterest  for places to visit and experience as I find that tips from locals are always much more useful than some of the bigger travel guides. During every search there is always one thing that appears repeatedly: Peggy Porschen Cakes ‘Parlour’, an Instagram haven with a pastel pink frontage, adorned with gorgeous floral displays that change throughout the year. 

Opened in 2010 by award winning cake designer, author and Creative Director Peggy Porschen and her husband, the bakery is situated in Belgravia, and I discovered that it was in the vicinity of the station I was travelling from on Monday, so I decided to take a little detour and treat myself to a cupcake (for breakfast – why not!). Continue reading

An Incredible Street Art Tour of Shoreditch, London

A Street Art Tour of Shoreditch

At the weekend I experienced a street art tour of Shoreditch with Tiffany, the creator of A Girl and Her Passport in London.

She was back in the UK for a little while, and it was the perfect opportunity to catch up as it’s been over a year since she was last here. I  still find it amazing that I get these sorts of opportunities – we connected via the blogging community a few years ago – and she is someone I would never have met otherwise as at the time she lived in Qatar and is from Texas.

She booked the tour through an Airbnb experience and it was something I had been really looking forward to – I’ve seen some of the street art in the Shoreditch area before when The Bloke and I had an inexpensive trip down to London – but I was really interested to find out a little more about the artists and see some of the things I had missed.  Continue reading

Visiting the Harry Potter Studios Tour

The Harry Potter Studios Tour, London

Yesterday we went to the Harry Potter Tour at the Warner Bros. Studio in London (technically, it is known as the Warner Bros Studio Tour, but everyone seems to just refer to it as the Harry Potter Tour instead). It was part of The Bloke’s ongoing 50th birthday celebration, and while I’ve never been a fan of the films (although an avid reader of the books), it was something that I knew he had been looking forward to for quite a while. In all honesty, I was prepared for it to be something that I just ‘did’ that I could add to my list, purely for the sake of saying that I had visited and experienced it.

I take it all backit was fabulous. The sets, the costumes, the atmosphere – it was amazing just to see everything on show, to the point where half-way through I was resisting the urge to steal a cloak and wand from one of the children wandering around (seriously, shouldn’t they have been in school?) and run around yelling EXPELLIARMUS at everyone in my way.  Continue reading

Giraffes, Lego and the Big Five-0 for The Bloke

The West Midland Safari Park Giraffe Experience

Last year The Bloke didn’t really have much of a birthday celebration – we were getting married a few days afterwards and still dealing with flowers and centrepieces and general wedding nonsense, so this year I made a promise to myself that I would make a huge effort. 

Today he turned 50. The big Five-0. He’s not a fan of birthdays and let’s just say that he is far from pleased about reaching this particular milestone, so I did what I usually do… I completely ignored his bah humbug birthday attitude and have spent several weeks planning an epic ‘The-Bloke-is-50-and-not-happy-about-it’ celebration with the help of my sister-in-law.  Continue reading