Saturday, 3 September 2016

Stay | Yotelair London Gatwick Airport.

We were flying out of Gatwick at 5.30am. Thanks easyJet! However we'd much rather fly at this time than arrive at our destination after dark, after all we'll gain almost another day of our holiday.

However as soon as we'd booked the flights we decided we'd also book a hotel at Gatwick the night before which would mean we wouldn't have to get up quite so early. I'd read about Yotel via Twitter and was keen to give it a try.

We chose a Premium cabin for 2, at the cost of £85. It's probably a little more than you might pay for other airport hotels at Gatwick, but I was keen to give the 'pod /cabin' idea a go. Pricing is done by the hour, with a 4 hour minimum stay. Yotel is also located within the airport terminal.

The pod or cabin sounds rather luxurious actually it's described as 'a clever space designed for 2 people with signature retractable bed that becomes a sofa'. Other highlights include En-suite bathroom with Monsoon rain shower..  a Monsoon rain shower, in a little cabin. Wow. I can assure you it was a very decent shower. 
The location of the Yotel is within the public landside area of the South Terminal, between Costa Coffee and MoneyCorp. Typically our flight with easyJet is from the North Terminal 
but nevermind.

The lift to Yotel.





















You can also take advantage of FREE coffee, tea or hot chocolate 24 hours a day. Well that's me sorted with a cup of hot chocolate tucked up for an early night. And what better way to get into the holiday mood than leave the night before. I packed my jammies and toothbrush in my handbag.. and we were all set. 


Mission control.












Inside our cabin.
The last time I flew from Gatwick I was on the last flight of the night, this time we were on the first flight out of Gatwick. 


Compact bathroom.





















So... what was it really like staying in a little cabin? 

We arrived at mission control ready to check in at 8pm. It was the perfect spot for a few hours sleep. We were quickly checked in and given our cabin number and key. With an overview of the facilities (free coffee etc). We headed to our cabin to have a look around and dump our bags before heading to M&S to get a little picnic tea. - we must have been the only people with no bags at that point. 

Luggage stowed beneath the bed.













Once back in our cabin we folded out the bed, and watched the highlights of the Olympics before opting for an early night. Setting our alarms for just 5 hours time. 

Overall I was very impressed with the Yotel experience - our cabin was clean, the staff were friendly and check out was also super speedy. We are both tall and we found the cabin comfy enough, in fact it's very comfortable it was just tricky trying to fall asleep at 9.30. The surrounding area was quiet - we didn't hear any other guests coming or going in the middle of the night. The great bonus is being in the terminal building ready to leave when you need to. Of course if you're not a fan of small spaces this isn't the place for you, but it definitely did the job for us.


So if you need a little place to stay before you fly out of Gatwick check out the website here. Other Yotel locations include Heathrow, Amsterdam schiphol airport, Paris Charles de Gaulle airport plus a central New York location.

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Friday, 26 August 2016

Anniversary | 6 years in London

When a man is tired of Londonhe is tired of life. "Why, Sir, you find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. No, Sir, when a man is tired of Londonhe is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford." — Samuel Johnson. 

I can't quite believe it.. we've now called London home for 6 years. We moved to London in 2010 when I took my first nanny job (since qualifying) and haven't looked back since.

London is a funny old place - some say it's isolating, nobody talks to each other, it's too busy and not very welcoming. But I love it. Of course it can be all of those things. But it's also so much more. There's always something going on in London, there are lots of opportunities to meet people if you want to.

It was just a few weeks ago when a woman asked me which underground line she should take that I realised I can do this. I've done this before. I'm not flustered and lost like she was, bless her. I was like that in the beginning - it was confusing and difficult to remember. However I am no expert I don't travel daily on the tube, so perhaps I'm not a real Londoner.


I'm happy to call London home. Over the past 6 years we've seen some lovely corners of London. Some of my favourite bits include Peggy Porschen, afternoon tea at the Connaught. Wandering around places like Borough Market and Greenwich.


I've really enjoyed learning a little more about London on Yannick's 'Macaroons & Mews' tours (read more here) and his Piccadilly and Petit Fours tour (more here). I've also found some scrummy places to eat and drink coffee/tea thanks to my lovely London books. Tea & Cake London, London Villages and Café London. I really must pull them out more often and pack myself up onto more London adventures. I do love wandering London and I'm so glad I've had my blog to accompany me.


Did you know it's the Tea & Cake book that got me started with my blogging adventure? I went to the British Library in search of books for my dissertation (without knowing about the lengthy process you have to go through to access books there), anyway to cut a long story short I ended up in the bookshop buying Tea & Cake.



I'm grateful to be able to enjoy a wander along the Southbank and catch lovely evening skies like this one. St Paul's is one of my favourite landmarks in London one day I will climb it again. I really love exploring less known shopping centres (with amazing views) like One New Change. Or Canary Wharf Shopping Centre.


There's nothing I love more than cycling around London on the Santander hire bikes, with the sun on my back, showing family or friends the highlights of our city. Or standing on Waterloo Bridge with an iced coffee in hand, admiring the view. Subsequently I can't find that picture, and I really rather liked it.

There is still however so much more for me to see.. to name just a few things... I want to wander along Hackney Wick and visit the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, which I'm ashamed to say I still haven't visited. I still haven't visited the Sky Garden either. And I've got a voucher for Dinner at The Shard to use in the coming months - but I'll never get bored of that view. Never. There's so much more that I need to do. It's a good job my time in London isn't limited.

So back to that Anniversary of ours London, how shall we celebrate?
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Sunday, 21 August 2016

Visiting | Wells

Wells is the smallest city in England, (excluding the City of London). However it's not the smallest city in Britain as St David's in Wales takes that title. There's something very special about a city that you can walk across without needing public transport or a car. There's also something a little more special about Wells - I was born there. It's also the place we will get married. It's a special city to me and that's why we choose to go back there to get wed.

On my latest visit to Somerset I've found myself taking a lot more photos, wanting to share it with you. I realise when I was younger I took it all for granted. People travel miles to see my 'neck of the woods'. When did I get so old? When did I start realizing how pretty my home county is? 

Well I honestly believe my blog has quite a lot to do with it. If I wasn't sharing these photos of my city with you then they'd probably just sit on my phone until I deleted them, what a waste. I've also promised the lovely Kelly (80 pairs of shoes) that I will get round to publishing this post as she is exploring each County in England during 2016. I'm pretty sure you'll be able to find some lovely doors to take photos of Kelly. 

Let me tell you a little more about Wells.. 'The history of Wells goes right back to the Roman times when we know that there was a settlement, probably because of the springs that bubble up here. Wells gets its name from the springs which can today be found in the gardens of the Bishop's Palace'. Source, here. is famous for it's Cathedral and Bishop's Palace, both stunning if slightly gothic. The Cathedral is described as the "most poetic of the English Cathedrals". Highlights also include the Market Place, (home to weekly Farmer's Markets) plus it's quaint High Street and Vicar's Close. Peniless Porch and the Bishop's Eye are also beautiful features of Wells. 

Wells boasts some lovely independent shops as well as some high street names. It's recently gained a Waitrose and is growing rapidly with new builds. However it's the centre you need to focus on.. 
I'll let the pictures do the talking..

The Bishop's Palace & Moat

 

The Cathedral and Surrounding area


 
 

Vicar's Close 

Vicar's Close is claimed to be the oldest purely residential street with original buildings surviving intact in Europe. It's really rather photogenic.



There's an awful lot of history to be explored in Wells. Sometimes I realise how little I know about the place I was born. I read this article during the week and let's just say I didn't know all 5 facts. 

The Market Place


 

The above picture shows the running water from the wells in the Bishop's Palace. Did you know Wells was featured as the village of Sandford in Hot Fuzz.

Whilst you're wandering around Wells you'll probably need somewhere to stop off for lunch and a coffee and for that I would really recommend Strangers with Coffee in Wells. I think it's one of the nicest coffee shops going, in fact it's been voted #1 of 8 for Coffee & Tea in Wells. You can read about my visit last year here

Wandering around Wells is a lovely - a perfect spot to explore, especially if you find yourself in Somerset. Wells is nestled in the corner of the Mendip Hills a 45 minute drive from Bath, and Bristol. It's definitely worth the detour, or a scheduled trip in it's own right. You could also combine a trip to Wells with a visit to Bath, which is a UNESCO World Heritage City, and another city close to my heart, as I lived there for 2 years whilst studying. 

Until next time. X
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Saturday, 6 August 2016

Travel Link Up | The Greatest Lesson Travel Taught Me


This month's travel link up is 'the greatest lesson travel ever taught me' hosted by Angie, JessiEmma and this month co-hosted by Nano.

I believe the greatest lesson travel has taught me is... to travel more. Travelling has made me a stronger person, who is excited to see the world and new things.

My adventures started quite later on in life really, I holidayed in the UK as a child and hadn't stepped foot onto a plane 2005. I first left the UK in 2004 when I travelled to Switzerland, via coach. Back in March I wrote about my greatest adventures in another wonderful link up, here.

Since then I have visited...16 countries. A figure I think I need to work on. But I guess it's pretty good anyway. (I haven't counted layovers in that although I think it would only add a few). Later this month we will travel to Greece, it will be the first time I've been to Greece so I'm excited to try Greek food and learn more about the Greek culture.

We've become quite good at travelling to the same place twice, I'm not sure if that's a good thing or not. But we've been to Turkey, Morocco (Marrakech) and Dubai twice. But this year we've decided to go somewhere new and exciting. My lesson to myself here is to visit new places more.

I was only talking today  last weekend (I'm a bit slow at this blogging lark sometimes), with a lovely American couple about how I need to do more weekend trips.  I'm ashamed to say that they've seen a whole lot more of Europe than I have and I've been here for 27 years! Okay perhaps not all of those years were free travelling years. But you get my drift. I hope. So once again the lesson is I need to travel more.

Source
Travelling has taught me to try new things whether it be eating new food, riding a camel in the deserts of Dubai, luging in Rotorua, snorkelling or riding on the back of a moped in Thailand. Something of course I would never do at home! 

What has travelling taught you? 
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Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Life Lately.

I find myself taking so many photos of everyday life that it's nice to have somewhere to put them. Does anybody else feel that way about their blog? It's kind of like an online diary, the sort we wrote when we were teenagers. Although this time I'll be able to keep track of how many times I've ordered a flat white lately, or eaten avocado on toast. It's a staple right?

It's been rather a while since I've posted which is something that plays on my mind. But I've been rather busy. For me blogging is a hobby and if I can't blog I do try not to stress about it.


Here's what I've been doing over the past month or so...

Reading... Cafe London
My new bible. I bought Tea & Cake London what feels like many moons ago (when I was starting my blog)! Since then I've found lots of lovely new places for tea and cake via the book and also via Twitter and Instagram. However when I spotted Zena Alkayat's new book - Cafe London. I had to get my hands on it. I didn't quite realise I'd actually pre-ordered it because it wasn't even out yet. It's a guide to Brunch, Lunch, Coffee and Afternoon Tea - all of my favourite things I'd say.


Since then, or should I say so far I've visited 2 of the featured cafes -
London Review Book Shop and Fink's Salt and Sweet. I'll definitely be working my way through lots of the other suggested places to visit.

Blogging... Pocketnannies
If you haven't seen my other online project please take a look at Pocketnannies here - it's a site that I work on with 2 friends. Maybe you'll just pop over to find out more :) Anyway last week was a great week for Pocketnannies - we found out we'd been featured in BabyLondon magazine - in the 'Best of the Blogs' section. We are really super excited about this, so please - sharing is caring. We'd love you to share the pocketnannies word.

Being... A tourist in my own City.

I love an excuse to cycle around London and enjoy the sights, so when we have visitors it's always a great way to show off London. We had great fun cycling around Hyde Park and then onto Buckingham Palace on the Santander bikes.


Buying... Shoes 
In the past few weeks I've bought 3 pairs of shoes which is completely and utterly ridiculous for me. I never buy shoes. I like looking at shoes, but I'm not a real shoe girl, unfortunately. I needed to replace my flipflops. However most importantly I've ordered my Wedding shoes which I need for my dress fitting in late August / September when my dress is due in. I just hope they fit.. I have ordered 2 pairs just in case. Oh and the black flats I bought on Saturday. That. Makes. Four. Doesn't it? Gulp.

Picnicking...
With this lovely weather we've been having it's been great to finally get out into the park and have a picnic. I've had catch ups with friends over a picnic. As well as this week picnic dinners at the park with the Boy. I do love a good picnic.



Accessorising... 
Although it would be nice to buy a new dress for every wedding we attend it's not always possible, especially when you're saving for a wedding of your own. So with two weddings this Summer I bought a lovely pink Katie Loxton clutch bag. Here.

 

Attending... Weddings, Christenings and Baby Showers
I've been having a lovely time lately, at a family wedding and the Christening of one friend's little girl, and another friend's baby shower which I organised. What better excuse to eat lovely food and spend time with family & friends.



Watching... Coldplay 
Back in June (yes it really has been that long since I blogged, but had to leave it in there)! I went to watch Coldplay at Wembley with the Boy. We haven't been to a concert together for ages, and Coldplay was just perfect. We both really like Coldplay, but you know when you see them you actually really really LOVE them. Coldplay put on a real show. I was on a Coldplay high for a few days. And I'm now the proud owner of a Coldplay 'Head Full of Dreams' tour t-shirt.

Planning... our Wedding & Honeymoon 
Time does seem to be hurtling on, so we've really upped our game with the Wedding planning, and now very excitingly our honeymoon!! I'm starting to make a lot more enquires and appointments about flowers, hair and make-up. It's all coming together a little step at a time. Hooray.

Upping.. my fitness 
As my wedding dress fitting appointment looms (and our Summer holiday) I thought I'd step things up a bit on the fitness side of things. I've joined a 'bootcamp' which has given me the extra push - it's a lovely social group run by One Element. I'm very new at the moment - I've only been to 3 sessions, make that 7 sessions. (Wahey) I'm thrilled to say I'm really enjoying it. Plus I'm hoping it's going to give me the extra push I need with my running, because the sprinting we do will hopefully class as interval training and help to strengthen my running as a whole.

With August nearly here we're counting down the days until our Summer Holiday in Greece. On that note.. I'm off to do some wanderlusting.

Until next time. X
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Saturday, 23 July 2016

Stay | The Bear & Swan

What better excuse for a night away than a family wedding? 

The location for the Wedding reception was the Old School Rooms in Chew Magna. A stunning beamed building in the village. Chew Magna is located just south of Bristol. It's a village I know if but haven't spent time in. I can tell you its rather adorable. 

We chose to stay at The Bear & Swan which is just a minute walk from where the wedding reception was held. It was the perfect location. 

This lovely cottage is just opposite The Bear & Swan. Perfect for an instagram shot as I do love a good doorway.


The rooms are above the pub, which I believe serves lovely pub food. I also heard they do a fantastic roast. We didn't get chance to try the food, until the next morning as of course we had a lovely wedding breakfast to enjoy.


We had breakfast the following morning which was very good. You could choose from fresh juices, coffee/tea cereal etc followed by a choice of cooked items. The menu had a very good selection to choice from including bacon sandwiches, poached eggs, smoked salmon & scrambled egg, the Bear & Swan cooked breakfast and a vegetarian breakfast. The food was presented very nicely and brought out with toast.

As soon as I walked into our room I knew I wanted to do a blog post. It was beautifully clean and well decorated. I just wish we had a room this big at home. 


 

I was also really impressed by the bathroom which was large, and very well thought out. The handle of the shower, for example is on the wall at the far right, meaning you can run your shower to the perfect shower before getting in it! There were also robes and slippers to lounge around in - we just didn't get the chance to lounge around too much. But it could be the perfect place to do so if you had a little more time.



Chew Magna is the perfect place for exploring the Mendips and the area of Chew Valley Lakes. I grew up quite nearby but I totally think that I took the beautiful surroundings for granted when I was younger. 

For more information you can visit the Bear & Swan's website here
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Sunday, 5 June 2016

Travel | Airbnb in Iceland

April & May spoil us with Bank Holidays, sometimes I wonder why they are spread out a little more across June and July, but hey hoe. (I don't want to sound ungrateful). I've learnt to make the most of them in terms of travel, as personally I find an average weekend just isn't quite long enough for travelling too far. The early May bank holiday was our choice of weekend to travel to Iceland. I went with two girlfriends and after looking at various hotel options, briefly, we decided Airbnb was the way forward for our trip.

It was our first experience of Airbnb (why on earth haven't I used it before)? It's great a really accessible accommodation option. You get to stay in a local home, in a lovely neighbourhood of a city. I quite like that, it's probably due to my slightly nosy streak. I like to see how real people live. It's all very well staying in a hotel, but the self catering Airbnb option is perfect for a short city break.

If you haven't used Airbnb before you can sign up and get £20 of Airbnb credit here - just by following my link and then booking your first Airbnb stay. A great offer if you ask me - I'm always after a bargain.

My experiences of Airbnb

We stayed in a lovely lovely penthouse flat in Reykjavik (Miðstræti). It was the perfect base for us for us for our 2 night trip. We really packed a lot into our weekend - travelling early on Saturday from Stansted and arriving at the apartment at 11am. Our host Ingi, kindly met us at the apartment early so we could head off explore. We flew back at approx 4pm on the bank holiday Monday. It was the perfect time to explore Reykjavik and a little bit of Iceland. But there's more on that coming soon.

Correspondence with our Host beforehand was perfect - he advised us on parking and local bakeries etc. I would highly recommend using one of Ingi's properties. (I have since found out he has another beautiful flat in Reykjavik).

Our lovely view.



















The Property

The apartment itself is light and airy. It's really quite spacious and accommodates up to 5 people. There are 2 double beds and 1 single. There's also a good social space, (with dining table, sofa & tv) a large galley type kitchen, bathroom and laundry area. It's definitely bigger than our flat in London, I'd happily live here if I somehow every had the opportunity to live in Iceland! There is on street parking which you have to pay for Monday-Saturday, but not on Sundays.

The kitchen in the apartment is stocked with a large amount of everything you may need to make a meal - pots pans, utensils, crockery, cutlery etc. There's even a dishwasher. However we didn't really use the kitchen much as we were too busy exploring Reykjavik and the surrounding areas. It's great to have the option to eat in if you'd like to though. (It's been quite a while since I've done a self-catering style holiday).

Exterior of the property.

Bed area.



The bedroom itself.



































Location

Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral is 8 minutes walk away and the Harpa Musical hall is 9 mins walk away. It really is in a great location. The main shopping area is also really close by and we found a lovely bakery Sandholt (as recommended by Ingi our host) and a lovely little coffee shop called Reykjavik Roasters which are also within very easy walking distance.

The apartment costs £108 a night. So between 3 was 36 each,  for 5 people it would be 21.60 per night, which is just amazing value. To find this property on Airbnb click here. I'll definitely be using Airbnb again, both in the UK and abroad. 
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