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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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Travel | Photo Diary of Iceland

Iceland is a land of landscape. Does that even make sense? Landscape I've not really seen before, the only thing perhaps a little similar I'd say is New Zealand. In one panaroma you can see the sea, lava fields, mountains and volcanos it's just rather amazing. Likewise with the weather I feel you could easily see sun and blue clouds, grey clouds, rain and a rainbow all with one movement from left to right or viceaversa.

Let's start in Reykjavik, which I have finally learnt how to spell, typing it so many times whilst preparing these blog posts. The main sights to see I would say are the Harbour and Harpa Music Hall, Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral, the Sun Voyager sculpture. All of which are in easy walking distance from each other. Okay so the Cathedral is a little further a field, (just under 20 minutes walk) but you won't have to get a taxi to see it. (Unless you can't walk far). Also you will pass lots of lovely shops en route - perfect! Reykjavik is a very easy city to get around, there are a few hills, but it's great to wander around knowing that everything you want to see is within walking distance.

The Old Harbour, Reykjavik.
A corner of Harpa Musical Hall, the harbour and mountains in the background.
The Sun Voyager sculpture.
An iconic wooden Icelandic church.


Skógafoss Waterfall, one of the biggest in Iceland at 60m tall.
At the top of Cascades Skógafoss (It's Icelandic name).

On the road again.. just look at that landscape!
Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral, Reykjavik.
The view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja.
A view through the window at The Blue Lagoon.
What I recommend for Iceland.. 
  • The Blue Lagoon, it's a very relaxing experience and worth the money I think. It's quite close to Keflavík airport, so it may make sense to visit on your way from the airport.
  • I would also recommend hiring a car, it's a great way to explore as you wish. You get to see some really beautiful scenary. We loved our road trip to Skógafoss Waterfall and drove through the snow topped mountains back to Reykjavik.
  • Climbing to the top of Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral gives great views of the city. It's also very cold and windy, so dress well.
  • Whale watching - we went on a whale watching experience with Elding which was great. We saw Minke whale, porpoises and puffins. The success rate of the trips is an incredible 92%. Recently a friend of a friend saw Killer Whales on her trip, so it really depends on the day. I would still recommend taking a whale watching trip despite not seeing Killer Whales. Now that would be amazing!
  • If time is in abundance I would have liked to have stayed longer, explored more and of course there's always the Northern lights. (In the right season). I guess there's always next time : )
  • We stayed in a lovely apartment in Reykjavik via Airbnb which was the perfect base for exploring. I've a separate blog post all about that coming later this week.


Have you been to Iceland? What would your top tips and recommendations be?

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Monday, 30 May 2016

My week that was.

This past week has been rather busy actually. It's been full of music, food and fitness focussed. Here's what I've been up to...

Music
It started off at the Royal Albert Hall (very fancy). It was my first visit to the RAH - shocking I know having lived in London for nearly 6 years. We saw Magic of the Musicals which was amazing. I do love musicals. The show was a one off concert taking some of the best songs from the West End - played by a concert orchestra. I may have even shed a little tear.. Defying Gravity from Wicked was the culprit. It was amazing. It made me want to watch Wicked and many other shows! It seems like it might be an expensive few months as it made me determined to book more theatre tickets. I now have an even longer list of shows I'd like to see. 


The week finished at the o2, another first for me. I realised I haven't been to the O2 since it was the Millennium Dome! We were there to see Busted. I was lucky enough to get cheap VIP box tickets via a friend who knows a good contact. It's been 12 years since busted were together. It was great to see them live again, yes I went at least twice back in the day. Ahh.. that makes me feel a little old - I was 15!! 


Food 
I've also been busy cooking.. I made the 'lean in 15' Protein Pancakes for breakfast. They are really easy to make you just need rolled oats, one egg and one banana. Plus protein powder however I didn't use any protein powder as the boy only has chocolate protein powder, and I didn't really didn't fancy chocolate pancakes. 

Fitness 
Fuelled up on healthy pancakes & fruit I went to my first Abs class on Saturday. I learnt one thing - my co-ordination is terrible. It will take some practice. But I think it did the trick - I ached yesterday.

I can't quite believe it, I probably want to sing it from the roof tops, but I just ran 7.25km. I've been averaging 2.5-3km on my recent runs. So tonight I decided I'd just go for it. I've definitely come to realise it's all in your head. If you think you can do it and belive you can. You will. : )

Wandering London
This bank holiday we toyed with the idea of going away on a last minute trip. But we thought better of it and decided to stay in London. There's always things to do at home, whether it's potter about at our local coffee shop or take in the atmosphere in Chelsea with the flower show and Chelsea in Bloom on. I have to say I wasn't quite so blown away by the floral displays this year, and even less blown away by the few pictures I did take. I think I need one of those fancy new iPhones - the camera is just amazing. I also had my first Rekorderlig of the year. Here's to more sunny summer days.


Roasts & Riverside walks
I also went for a lovely roast at The Dove in Hammersmith. It's a pub I'd heard good things about and it certainly lived up to expectations. I had a lovely veggie roast and then we shared some puddings. However no pictures as I was too eager tucking in. We then walked off our roast by walking along the river and through some beautiful streets in Chiswick. It turns out we walked over 6.5km! No wonder my feet were aching. 


Cupcakes 
I also learnt that Bake-a-Boo has (as of this weekend) closed. :'( I was a little sad to hear this news. I feel my cupcake adventures started with the likes of Bake-a-Boo & Bea's on the Kings Road, back in 2012! I must have cupcakes again soon.

Coffee at Bean & Hop
Something would be up if we didn't pop to our favourite coffee shop of a weekend. It's such a lovely spot to sit, enjoy a flat white and watch the world go by. Or chat over our summer holiday.


I've also been busy writing blogposts for later this week. 
What have you been doing? Happy Bank Holiday!
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Sunday, 22 May 2016

Life Lately - May

Lately I've found weeks almost disappear in the blink of an eye, but I realise there's quite a bit to share with you. May has turned out to be quite a busy month for me. In fact I was a bit sad to miss the Travel Link Up - this months topic was Travel Blogger Problems. (I definitely have some of those). However the other link ups are worth a read. I don't know if you've noticed, but this month I've also had a little freshen up of the blog. What do you think?


Iceland
Back at the beginning of May I went to Iceland with my pocketnannies girls.  We had a wonderful time visiting the Blue Lagoon, exploring Reykjavik and chasing waterfalls. Between us we took so many photos. There's probably a whole post of chatter about Iceland coming soon..


Cafe Fleur 
Do you ever find wonderful places almost on your doorstep, and think why oh why haven't I been here before? Cafe Fleur is very close to me and whilst the eating clean trend continues I decided to pay them a visit. We visited one Sunday afternoon for a late lunch, and there was just one other couple in the whole place. But I can imagine it's usually rather packed. The menu sounded great and I was very torn what to have. I ended up going to the Halloumi Stack which comes with salad. I just can't say no to halloumi.
















Reading.. 
I put Gone Girl down for a few weeks - I wanted something lighter to read. And in just a few sittings I read the Unmumsy Mum. Remember when we had that 'summer' that lasted a few days? I sat in the park and read. Actually talking of books - I signed up for goodreads. I've set myself a '2016 Reading Challenge' to read 10 books. I'm really hoping to beat 10, as I'm currently 2 books ahead of schedule and I do seem to be enjoying the books I've chosen to read so far this year. We just need the sun to come back and I can get back to the park with my book. I've also been reading Runner's World. I never ever thought I'd be reading a running magazine.
















Running..
I'm still running. Yay. This month I celebrated 1 year since I started 'running' well using the Couch to 5K app. You can read about that here. I'm a huge fan of the C25K app and really would recommend it to anyone. I really didn't run at all before. So I'm proof it works. 
I'm so happy that I've continued with my running. I love seeing my achievements on Map my Run and I'm also grateful of the emails I sometimes get telling me I'm 'Sprint Queen' for a certain stretch of my local run. I've also downloaded a 10K training app..... (that's as far as it's got so far)!

Finding the best Ice Cream in London
I'll let you into a secret I think I've found the yummiest ice cream or should I say gelato in London. you can find it at Venchi in Covent Garden. just look for the queue (and be patient, it's totally worth it). There's also another UK location in Hampstead, other wise you'll probably have to book a plane to Italy. Hang on.. there's an idea.
















Flowers 
I'm obsessing over flowers at the moment. Trying to work out what will work best for our wedding, sniffing out the sweet peas amongst the bouquets and also that Wisteria.. need I say more? I realise how much I enjoy Instagram with all those beautiful blossom pictures and the #wisteriahysteria thats been happening lately.
















How is May going for you? What have you got planned?
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Sunday, 24 April 2016

Running | Yas Marina Circuit

It seems rather fitting that I should publish this post today. As the Marathon happened today in London, it marks nearly a year since my running journey began. I can't quite believe it. It all started when I watched some of the Marathon last May. You can read more about my running journey here and here. I'm quite pleased with how I've done personally. But what an incredible sense of achievement those who ran the London Marathon today must be feeling. Well Done!

I've been a little quiet over the past few weeks. That's because we've been on holiday. We spent 8 days in Abu Dhabi - in search of some sun and relaxation time. I sat by the pool and read some good books, but we also got out and explored Abu Dhabi, which we found to be quite different to our beloved Dubai.

Here I will tell you about one of the highlights of our trip - A visit to Yas Marina Circuit. You've probably heard of Yas Marina Circuit. It's one of the most exciting circuits in the Formula 1 calendar. Or so I'm told. 

TrainYas happens on Tuesday evenings, when the track is open to the public. You can train on the circuit for free, whether you want to run, walk or cycle. It's a great opportunity to experience the track and train in a unique environment.

We arrived really early, it's an ongoing trait of ours. The track is heaving with people by the evening. TrainYas kicks off at 6pm. You will need to get to Gate 20 to gain entrance into the complex. There is a shuttle bus to Yas Central, if you're not driving.


Bikes are free to hire, you just need to leave your ID. We arrived early so didn't have to queue for long at all. You can find out more about the scheduling here.

The full Grand Prix track is 5.55km. We cycled around the track twice. I knew those Spin sessions would come in useful someday!

Then I ran. Some of it. I'm used to running 5km these days. But it the heat of the Abu Dhabi evening, it was still around 30°C! (And having just cycled over 10km), It's rather different. I was quite pleased with my efforts of running 3.52km out of the 5.55 track.

 

I did very nearly 2km and then stopped at the Viceroy Hotel for a photos, and a much needed water break. Thats another read thing about TrainYas - there are water stations along the way, so you can help yourself to free water. I haven't come across this sort of thing at home. I'm pretty sure you'd have to pay at least an entrance/participation fee.


TrainYas is brilliantly organised, great fun and if I lived in Abu Dhabi I'd definitely get into a habit of running there. Have you been to Abu Dhabi? Will TrainYas be on your list now?


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Saturday, 16 April 2016

Flotsam & Jetsam

Flotsam & Jetsam often means 'odds & ends' in Maritime Law. Well they say you learn something new everyday. But this cafe is a bit better than just odds & ends, although I love the name, it's very well thought out and decorated with I guess a collection of odds & ends, but it works. There's a slight maritime theme throughout the cafe. It feels cosy and inviting. You can find Flotsam & Jetsam at 4 Bellevue Rd, London SW17 7EQ.



This lovely little spot is relatively new on my radar - The Boy actually mentioned it to me a couple of months ago, and I suddenly remembered it last weekend. We're always looking for a new coffee/ brunch spot to try. Flotsam & Jetsam is actually over a year old. Opps, I'm a little late to the party.



 

Coffee 
We both ordered flat whites. Generally our coffee of choice and seemingly easy to come across these days. The coffee was good - it definitely passed my taste test. I'm finding these days with DECENT coffee I don't have to add sugar. It was strong enough without being bitter. 

Food 

The Boy went for pancakes and I chose smashed avo & feta for myself. I've not actually had the avo and feta combination before, but I can tell you it works perfectly and has given me some good summer salad ideas. It was served with a perfectly poached egg, and just the right amount of chilli. 

The pancakes were good, served with fruit, mascarpone and bacon. The boy tells me that sweet/savoury thing just works! As a vegetarian I can't quite imagine how bacon goes with fruit, but with the other flavour combinations so spot on, I'll go with it. Those pancakes looked good.



As we stood and waited for our table I eyed up the cake - as you do. The Lemon Meringue cake sounded delicious but we were too late for that one - it had all gone! There was also a lovely looking carrot cake. I had a run planned shortly after so I wasn't temped. I'll be back for the cake alone! 

Prices

Everything was very reasonably priced £23.10 in total. The pancakes £7.50 as well as my smashed avocado and £2.70 for a large flat white. 

The service was also lovely, the waitresses were attentive but not intrusive. 





















Check out Flotsam & Jetsam on Instagram and Twitter. Until next time.. x


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