Tag Archives: competition

Bali | My bumper guide to getting a bit #EatPrayLove in Ubud

IMG_2178It’s taken a while to get to my final Bali post but here we are, and what better to write about than my time spent in the incredible jungle haven where Julia Roberts famously found love again in Eat Pray Love? Ubud is the spiritual centre of Bali and if you’ve visited the island without setting foot in this jungle paradise, you honestly haven’t seen Bali. It was so different to every other place I visited while there and it was easy to see why so many expats had now chosen to call it home. Easily my favourite place on the island, Ubud is the perfect place to relax and really look after yourself for a while, especially if you’ve just come from partying in Seminyak or Kuta. I won’t lie, I had been indulging a lot and partying pretty hard over there and on Gili T for a few weeks so I was more than ready for a rest and a chance to try out the alternative, yogi, health-food lifestyle for a while.IMG_2188

Planning your day trip

Earlier in my stay on Bali I had taken a day trip with a friend to Ubud where our taxi driver took us to visit the Monkey Forest, the Tegalalang Rice Paddies and Tegenungen Waterfall – as you’ll see from some of the pictures in this post, they are all worth a visit! Ubud is an area of outstanding natural beauty, and while it takes you away from the sandy beaches the island is famous for, it offers something even more beautiful instead. The best way by far to explore the island is by motorbike which you can hire for almost nothing, but we found as there was a few of us it worked out pretty cheap to do a taxi as we managed to strike a deal for around 250,000RP for the day – the average day taxi costs around 3-350,000RP. Our driver was great and told us a lot about the different places we visited, plus it meant we could have a nap in the back of the car instead of driving all day. We visit from Kuta, if you do this make sure you set off extra early to beat the traffic as it gets pretty hectic mid-morning onwards.IMG_2182These three attractions are the most popular and well known for Ubud, plus they are great to combine even if you are just visiting for the day as they are the perfect distance from each other so you don’t have to rush. I absolutely loved the rice paddies – you do have to pay to get in but it is worth it if you go early and pretty much have the place to yourself. We spent a few hours doing the sweatiest hike I have ever done across the fields which stretch as far as the eye can see. We joined a farmer for a cool refreshing coconut and played his musical instruments with him as we chatted with some Swedish guys we met. After, we headed to the Monkey Forest for a wander around an amazing temple that reminded me of King Louis’ in The Jungle Book, monkeys scamper around the forest climbing on tourists and stealing food. It was pretty cool, but oh my gosh I still haven’t got over my fear of monkeys so I was squealing a bit – especially when one stop a water bottle from my friend and started to stare him down!IMG_2183Finally a refreshing dip in Tegenungen Waterfall was a perfect end to the day – it was absolutely beautiful and a perfect place to be for sunset. Despite being quite busy, there was still plenty of space to swim/get photos/relax, and it is well worth paying a little bit to get up to the top! We drove back to Kuta in rush hour traffic which took ages but it was a great day, well planned and we had spent about six hours on the road and visiting the sights. We probably spent around 500,000RP altogether for the taxi, entry to the sights and meals for the day which is equivalent to around £30 – you could probably do it for a lot less if you went by motorbike.IMG_2179

Where to stay?

At the end of my trip, I couldn’t resist joining some friends for a few days in Ubud. It’s a bit cheesy but I really fancied a Julia Roberts experience – some yoga, some healing, some jungle life and some time to figure my next move out. Our friends had booked into the brand new Ons Hostel which they raved about, so I booked in to join them. On arrival with two other friends, myself and one of them were checked into a 14 bed dorm with no-one else in it! The place was so new they were just building up custom but it meant we had the whole place to ourselves. Imagine whitewashed walls, clean fresh dorms with the comfiest beds, luxury bathrooms with rain showers, a swimming pool with an area to sit and eat the freshly made pancakes and omelettes made to order for breakfast. It was like staying in a hotel – absolute luxury. I can’t recommend staying there enough. It is positioned the other side of the Monkey Forest which although separate from the centre of Ubud, it gives you a lovely walk into the centre and a chance to see a different side to the area. Check out this HotelsCombined blog on the 7 Best Value Hotels to Relax in Bali to complete your Bali experience.IMG_2280

Where to eat?

I would really recommend dining at Laka Leke restaurant one evening – our hostel was just down the road so we gathered all 20 of our friends and booked in for the night’s entertainment. The food was incredible, I had a traditional Indonesian curry which was mouth-wateringly good, and as we ate we watched a live performance of the Kecak and fire dance. It was a very interesting performance and there are several others they perform on different nights if you fancy something different. I believe the restaurant will also do pick-ups from your hotel/hostel if you are staying further away. Other favourites of mine included the amazing selection of vegetarian restaurants – I can’t name them all here but there are so many that offer really high quality food. Also, the tiny Warungs – my favourites were the really small, local family run ones who would treat you like a daughter and cook you the best meal from scratch.IMG_2269IMG_2268

Where to yoga?

Everyone talks about Yoga Barn when it comes to Ubud, but after reading up, it sounded like there were a lot of people complaining about having to join huge classes of 60 people. As a bit of a beginner, I wasn’t sure that was for me. But I did spot that Ubud Yoga Centre was just down the road so I signed up for a Bikram Yoga Class at the centre instead. It was cheap and the centre was really lovely, all brand new and very high quality. The class was hard and the heat was a lot to take, but I gave it my best shot and really enjoyed the class, it was lovely to have a good stretch out. Afterwards I was exhausted and spent the day sunbathing.IMG_2277

What to do?

You may have already seen the main sights, but there’s lots more to do around Ubud. Your best bet is to hire a motorbike as we did and go off exploring local temples, rice paddies and villages for the day. We had a great day visiting local craftsmen, getting lost in the rice paddies barefoot in the pouring rain as we tried to find waterfalls and being blessed at the temples. We asked at our hostel who gave us a booklet of all the best places to visit and we worked out way through as many as we could cram into a day. Some to add to your list would include the Elephant Cave, Puri Saren Royal Palace and the Blanco Renaissance Museum. Also, if you get time, the Campuhan Ridge Walk is totally free and looks really beautiful – sadly I didn’t get time.IMG_2276If you fancy sticking closer to the centre of Ubud, don’t forget to check out Ubud Market for some of the best shopping I found in Bali. And head to one of the many salons for some cut price beauty treatments – my friend and I each had a massage, manicure/pedicure and facial for 200,000RP – just £12! And if you’re a bit of a bookworm like me, make sure you take advantage of the many beautiful, relaxing places to snuggle up with a book and a fresh juice – either at a bar or your hostel. If you’re planning a trip to Ubud and need help – let me know by leaving a comment below!IMG_2275

And if you’re heading off on your first backpacking trip – don’t forget to enter my competition to win a backpack to store all your precious possessions!

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#ImpossibleExperiences | Fly me to the moon and let me play among the stars

12299237_10153171177402617_247656151924131368_nEver since quitting life as I knew it and leaving home to take on the adventure of a lifetime, I have been the queen of seeking adventures from the everyday to the most outlandish. I’ve shared pretty much every exciting second of with you guys from the crazy raves to the heartbreak and amazing jungle experiences. Now Into The Blue have asked me to write about an #ImpossibleExperience that I would love to turn into an experience day if ANYTHING were possible. So here I am, sitting in my Melbourne apartment drinking cold coffee and reminiscing about the travel moments that have captured my imagination and have set my world alight. On this 2.5 year trip, I’ve realised that so much more than I ever dreamed is possible in this life and it just takes a bit of bravery and the right people to show you how to make it happen. Who would have honestly thought when I set out that I would be living on the other side of the world? I’m all about making the impossible possible.16976762_10154214437896587_775327925_nWhen I came travelling, I also broke off a nine-year relationship, which was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Since then, we’ve remained the best of friends and always encourage each other to get out there and enjoy single life. Travelling is the best way to life as a single girl – every new place has amazing new people to discover and exciting new dates to go on. Since travelling the globe I’ve had some of the most amazing and romantic dates I could experience – from picnics on the beach at sunset, to hiking mountains together, getting lost in a new city, wine tours and more. But one that really stood out and will always remain one of my favourites was the night spent stargazing in the back of a ute in central Australia. With someone who has turned into one of my best travelling friends, it was probably one of the most romantic and special nights of my life. We lost count of the number of shooting stars as we lay there for hours, and watched as the moon rose. We stayed until the dawn started to turn the sky pink and we realised the magic of the night was slipping away.16923573_10154214441036587_1009002517_nThat was a very possible experience and one that every traveller should experience at some point in their lives – but it ignited my imagination and made me dream of travelling experiences far beyond the possible. That night, anything was possible, we were brave beyond the life we knew and dared to dream of everything society tells us we can never have. While travelling the globe is entirely attainable for me, travelling beyond this universe and the next is not, but that night I dared to dream of experiencing other undiscovered worlds. The final frontier – space is the true unknown and I dream of exploring and discovering something new, untouched, like fresh snow. Imagine being able to hop on a rocket to the moon for lunch, of drinking champagne somewhere over the Milky Way before spending an afternoon chasing each other through wormholes. Anyone who could take me to another world, to disco dance on Saturn’s rings and kick up dust at a rave on Mars, they would change my world. Whether it was just for an afternoon or for 10 lightyears of fun – it would be a date that brought magic into my life. 16933747_10154214441021587_233963382_nGliding through the skies spotting constellations up close that I had once gazed at through a telescope in the back of a ute in central Australia. If you ask me, that would be a pretty special way to see the world and to really gain perspective on all that you knew. Looking down on that past self of yours laying in the back of the ute in central Australia naively dreaming of escaping to new worlds and dancing among the stars. Realising how much you have grown as a person since that moment, despite any struggles and pain you’ve felt, the successes and the achievements, you’ve made it through and have once again transcended all you knew was possible. This experience would be so much more than just a date among the stars, it would be the reaffirmation that you are taking control of your life and that you, alone, are the one making it spectacular. That one day someone will read your story and say, I want to live that life.

Whether you dream of dancing among the stars or something much more achievable, dare to dream. There was a time when I would sit behind a desk and imagine travelling the world and exploring new countries but I got off my arse and made it happen. It’s not that hard, you just need to believe in yourself and actually do something about it – the first step is the hardest, then it simply becomes your life. Dreaming big is never stupid, it’s the only way to achieve great things whether you want to travel, find a new career or change your life.

How have you achieved your dreams?

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*This was my entry to the #ImpossibleExperiences competition to win a £200 experience day – you can enter by following these instructions.

*Images by myself and my very talented friend Scott McDonald

WIN a 70 litre rucksack for your travels!

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I’m all about seizing life by the balls and making your dreams a reality, but I know so often things like money or worries about travelling solo can hold people back. It’s can be so easy to make excuses and put things off but the long you leave it the harder it gets. I’m so happy that through this blog and living my life to the max I have inspired so many to pick up and travel the world, so achieve their dreams and do things they never imagined they could do. I’ve now been on the road for around two and a half years, and I have no plans to stop – I’ve already started planning the next few years of my travelling life and I couldn’t be more excited about the path I’ve chosen. I’ve found it endlessly inspiring to meet so many of you along the way and to hear all about your own adventures.

So in the spirit of keeping your adventures and passion for travel alive, I’ve teamed up with Trespass to give you all the opportunity to win an Amin 70 Litre Rucksack to hold all your possessions as you head off gallivanting around the world making your dreams come true. It’s the same size as the rucksack I used when I first set off travelling, and as the one I am currently using. And with adjustable, added shoulder and back straps – it’s perfect for long term travels around Asia, Australia or further afield, with plenty of pockets to store everything you need. To anyone who is freaking out that they won’t fit their things into a bag this size – stop worrying and start shedding – trust me, you don’t need any more than will fit in this bag no matter where you are travelling.

So, how can you win?

Check out the box below and make sure you follow me on Twitter, like my Facebook page and then leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me what adventures you want to take the rucksack on – easy peasy! This competition is only open to those from and currently living in the UK – sorry to all my readers scattered across the world. The winner will be announced around March 10.

Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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My favourite Christmas experiences

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The Ruthnum’s do Christmas

I love Christmas. It’s amazing to read those words from me because as my friends and family know, working at Clinton Cards for several years when I was younger pretty much decimated my Christmas spirit. When you’re counting through orders of Christmas cards and gifts in August, just after getting home from holidaying on the beach, it gets pretty old pretty quick and by the time December rolls around you can’t stand the sight of gift wrap. But no more! Now I consider myself more the reincarnation of Mrs Christmas, planning presents well in advance and taking the time to make them special and personal to the individual, decorating the tree and the house, laying the table and helping with the dinner, choosing the Christmas TV schedule and deciding where we will spend Christmas day is all down to me. My mum and I really love Christmas and always make sure we have a sparkly new Christmas jumper to put on, while my dad and I team up to tackle the Christmas trees and hang the chocolates – not all of them make it to the tree.

Being so set on family Christmases makes it hard for me to understand when I come across families who just aren’t as bothered, who don’t really make the effort despite everyone being off work for what is often the first time in months. But I understand that everyone is different and everyone celebrates in their own way. The Ruthnum’s have had some pretty spectacular Christmases over the years, and it was hard to pick out just the one amazing memory for my entry to the Transun competition to win a family trip to Lapland – in the end I had to narrow it down to a few precious memories that will always stay with me for many Christmases to come:

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With my dad at Christmas

The time I saw Santa Claus

Not a time any youngster will forget in a hurry! I’m not just talking about when you visit him at the local garden centre and he gives you some rubbish present that falls apart on the car ride home. I’m talking about late on Christmas Eve, when I was only young, my parents and I were laying the obligatory carrots and mince pie (with a shot of whiskey) by the fireplace before I headed to bed. Suddenly, hearing a jingle of sleigh bells, I ran to the window and who did I see, but old Saint Nick himself walking down the street! My mum said I better run up to bed quick before he caught me up, otherwise I might not get any presents, and as I lay in bed – I was sure I could hear the sound of hooves on the roof. A child’s imagination is a magical thing, and I will always remember the true magic of Christmas coming to life for me in that moment. It may have just been a drunk guy in a Santa costume, but to me, it was and always will be the real deal.

The last Christmas with both of my grandparents

It was a shock when my nan was diagnosed with cancer, a shock for all of us. It was too late to save her, but without a second’s thought she had every treatment going to prolong her life just enough for one last family Christmas. It wasn’t the easiest Christmas, it was understandably an emotional time for all of us and tensions ran high. It was horrible to see her have to have her roast dinner blended and mashed up so she could manage it, but the fact that she was there, sitting alongside my grandad – no matter how emaciated she looked – meant everything. It is a memory I will always treasure and remember.

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Christmas Day spent on the beach in Mauritius

One of my most amazing and tropical Christmas experiences was spent eating home-made curry with my father’s side of the family on the beach, tanning, on Christmas Day. Later that day we went out on rubber rings attached to a speedboat with my cousin and aunt, and we just had so much fun! It was an odd experience to spend Christmas Day in a bikini rather than a festive jumper, but a welcome change and break from the chilly winter in Britain. It was also a great chance to catch up with family we unfortunately see very rarely because of the distance between us all. A great alternative Christmas and everyone at home was rather jealous.

Christmas Day spent in New York City

New York is one of my absolute favourite cities in the world, it is so welcoming and versatile, so majestic, and I never run out of things to do and see. I was so lucky to fly out with my family to New York on Christmas Day itself a few years ago, we had breakfast in the deserted airport and lunch in Times Square! The whole city was just magical with the most elaborate and extravagant decorations lining the streets and the buildings. Walking down 5th Avenue was just astounding as all the buildings were covered in fairy lights, with the windows packed with festive spirit. My favourite part was visiting Rockefeller Centre where a giant Christmas tree overshadowed the stunning ice rink, which was packed with eager skaters. A truly magical place to spend Christmas that I seriously recommend – particularly as everything is still open!

Last Christmas…

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Christmas family photo

I was having a bit of a rough time of it at work and in life, unsure of what my next move would be, and I luckily ended up with a full two weeks off over Christmas which I hadn’t had since university. I made the most of it and spent loads of time with family and friends, catching up with everyone I had kept missing before. I had an amazing Christmas with my family, greeting the Royal family at Sandringham on Christmas Day, eating mountains of food, going to see two musicals and generally being very merry. With friends, there were nights in, visits to the pub, parties and presents – all making me very grateful for the amazing group of mates I have. Overall – it was a very special Christmas, probably the best I have had in a long time, nothing went wrong and it actually helped me make my next big life decision to go travelling thanks to some special people.

Prince Harry looking hungover and cheeky

Prince Harry looking hungover and cheeky


These five Christmases are just some of the great reasons I have to love the festive season once again and I’m so glad that I have so many people around me who love Christmas as much as I do, and making it special. Fingers crossed I win the competition so that I can make Christmas as special for a few select people as they have made it for me!

What is your favourite Christmas memory?

Ab Lucy sign off

 

The Big Blog Exchange – vote for me!

bbe_banner_pinkLast week, I took a chance. I’m always entering competitions in the hope of winning, but never seem to be very lucky. All I remember winning in my time was a Harry Potter mug and cereal bowl years ago, but I kept it and it is still gathering dust in the cupboard! These days, I enter competitions to win big, we’re talking beauty prizes, meals out, spa days, holidays, travel vouchers, cash prizes and more… Yes I daydream about them, don’t we all? But I’m also realistic and know how many people enter things like this. I never actually expect to win, so if it happened I would be crazy happy to be chosen! One of my friends was incredibly lucky and won the chance to meet Beyonce and hang out with her before one of her huge London gigs – she couldn’t believe it! I still can’t believe it, but it certainly renews your faith that people actually win these things. I also know of a few bloggers who have won amazing things including a travel blogger who won an incredible opportunity to travel across America and blog about it – perfect fodder for blogging and what a fantastic experience!

So anyway, I digress, I’m not usually one for going in for things where people have to know I’ve entered the competition, it just makes me a bit nervous when I have to ask for votes or anything like that. I know that I am lucky enough to have lots of amazing friends who would all vote for me, but it’s more that I don’t usually like to ask or to put anyone out. Despite being a blogger and constantly self-promoting on Facebook and Twitter, I definitely don’t think of myself as a fully established blogger and am still taking this very much one step at a time. So it feels a bit strange to then ask people to vote for you as a blogger to win something! But hey, I’m breaking the habit of a lifetime and doing exactly that. I did it. I entered a competition and I really want to win it. blog picI’ve entered the Big Blog Exchange 2014 which is basically a chance to swap lives with another blogger by visiting their home country, experiencing their world and blogging about it. By September 3, I have to try and secure enough votes to make it through to the next stage – or be interesting enough to be chosen as a wildcard by the judges – eek pressure! Over 340 bloggers have already signed up and I have no doubt that many if not all are better known than I am with bigger readerships – I’m sure that they have hundreds who will vote for them. But I am determined to give it my best shot – if you have been reading, you will know about my travel plans for next year and I believe this will be a fantastic warm-up for that, giving me a chance to have a break and experience something new, while trying my hand at a bit of travel blogging and getting to meet some new bloggers. If you want to know more about the project, click here.

For those who have read this and thought wow that sounds like a great opportunity and I’d love to vote for Lucy – click here to cast your vote and please do share my page on Facebook and Twitter.

I would really appreciate any votes and the opportunity to do this, so I hope you’ll take two minutes out of your day to help me out.

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Supporting great talent and local live music

photo_1 (7)Friday night saw me sticking on my favourite Converse, grabbing my dancing buddy and heading to Lynn’s Corn Exchange to watch the finest in local talent hit the stage for the final of West Norfolk’s Battle of the Bands competition. The competition has been running in the area for years and sees bands coming from across Norfolk, Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire to take part and fight it out for a chance to headline Festival Too in front of a crowd of up to 12,000. What an amazing prize, along with loads of marketing and recording support and various other gig/festival performing slots. The competition is packed with amazing groups, all from different genres and performing a mix of covers and original material. I think this year was actually the most bands we have had in the final who were performing original content – which is great and just shows what kind of musicians we have on show.

I’m a big supporter of local music talent, partly because I love writing about all these great bands for the newspaper’s entertainment section, partly because we have such talented acts around here who are actually making it big (e.g Deaf Havana, The Brink etc), partly because yes they are damn talented and also because I know so many of them personally and know how hard they work. I’m always amazed by the quality of the acts when I finally get to see them live, so often I end up writing about them and their achievements, watching YouTube videos and chatting on the phone, so when I get to see them live, it is a real treat. I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to see the top six bands, as voted by the people of West Norfolk, performing live on stage in the final round of the competition.photo_3 (6)The first picture shows The Indie 500’s who are a fantastic covers band and really impressed me from the start. They had the hardest slot and an even more difficult job with an ill frontman, which meant the group’s drummer had the hardest job of all as he took on the extra role of lead singer while drumming his heart out. I was astounded to hear the lead singer was actually missing because he did such an amazing job opening with Arctic Monkeys’ Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor and throughout the rest of the set. They played all those amazing songs by acts like The Wombats and The Libertines, all of which had the crowd singing along and loving every second. Starting out with such a high standard, the evening was sure to only get better, and so it did!

Performing throughout the night were Common Youth, From The Sticks and Vex, but my next favourite act who performed later in the evening, pictured below, Phoenix Calling. The Cambridgeshire band were amazing, had us singing and dancing along with great crowd interaction. They seemed so finished and perfected that you could imagine seeing them on-stage at a festival that very night. They performed original material but still had the crowd singing along as we picked up the lyrics. The band had such energy and the lead singer in particular did an amazing job of singing and dancing around the stage. My favourite part was when they played their mash-up of Jason Mraz’s I’m Yours, Bob Marley’s One Love and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’s rap. It was fantastic, so unique and such a great idea. It really caught the attention of the audience and the judges and certainly had us all cheering by the end.photo_2 (7)And finally, Addison’s Uncle were an amazing folk band who wouldn’t be out of place at an Irish festival or in an Irish pub – full of character, storytelling and melody. Everyone was dancing and tapping their feet to the catchy rhythms and joining in their beautiful vocal harmonies. To me, these appeared the most talented bunch of musicians boasting a fiddle-player, one on a ukelele as well as guitars, percussion and bass. I loved the way each song had a story behind it and the band certainly charmed the audience. I loved the ballad they played at the end of the performance but it was the song just before that had the audience all up on their feet and joining in. A fantastic performance and a well-deserved win for these guys! They, along with Phoenix Calling, were my favourites of the night and I was so happy to hear them crowned the winners. They will be a real treat for the crowd at Festival Too.

The runner-up slot was taken by Vex, whose performance sadly I had to miss as I had to leave a bit early, but from what I do know, they are a talented bunch who deserved the win. All of the bands put in an amazing performance throughout the evening and if you get a chance to see any of them live, take it with both hands. Another great year highlighting the fantastic talent on show in West Norfolk – if you want great live music then head this way guys because we have a lot to offer.

Who were your favourite acts in this year’s Battle of the Bands? Love live local music? What’s your favourite place to see top acts in your area?

 

What would you pack for a weekend away? #Blog4Trek

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As my entry to Trek America’s incredible #Blog4Trek competition, I’d like to share with you my packing essentials for a weekend away. Anyone who knows me will know I don’t usually travel light, but after being bitten by the backpacking bug its time to start!

98 The most important things to pack when heading off on any trip is your sense of adventure and your passport – if you are surprised and have no time to pack, the only important thing is to embrace it. At the end of the day, you can (usually) buy everything you need there but you won’t have any fun without a good attitude!

98Almost as vitally important as this is remembering your camera! How else will you remember all those incredible moments in years to come? Don’t worry about these bulky professional snappers, instead, why not just use your phone? Most phones have a great camera on these days and it also means you can instantly share pics with friends back home, plus you have an alarm clock and access to live maps – always useful when exploring!

Walking in the Irish hills near Waterford

Walking in the Irish hills near Waterford

98 Don’t forget your sunglasses! No matter what your destination, these babies will always be useful for sunning yourself on the beach, skiing on sunny slopes, snoring behind on the plane or hiding a hangover on the way home.

98 A good book – no matter where you go there is bound to be some travelling or downtime and this is perfect for catching up with your fave novel.

98 When choosing your clothes – clean knickers are essential and plan your outfits ahead so you don’t over-pack. A big necklace is great for jazzing up casual outfits for an unexpected night out and a bikini is always useful.

Cruisin' in Ibiza

Cruisin’ in Ibiza

Why not create your own entry or share your packing essentials below?

Exploring Malta, Gozo and Comino – from hidden caves to edible delights

I’ve been reminiscing a lot lately about one of my favourite holidays ever – my 2012 trip to Malta with my boyfriend. Despite not being the most exotic, or the longest-haul journey I have ever been on, it was definitely up there as one of my favourites because there was quite simply so much to learn and explore.

We settled on Malta after realising that we could not afford to go to Italy with everything else we had planned and from our research we believed that Malta held many similarities, at least enough to keep us happy and not feel like we were sacrificing our summer holiday. Being a very inquisitive pair, we get bored easily and although we wanted to come back feeling refreshed and relaxed, we also wanted to have the opportunity to learn about a different culture by exploring the history and sights. Well, we certainly picked the right place because Malta boasts a rich heritage and culture that had us out almost every day walking across the rocky shores and through the bustling city of Valletta.

We stayed in Mellieha – an area more often chosen for holidays by Italian, Greek and German families as we found out, but which worked well to our advantage as we hate to go abroad and find ourselves surrounded by English people. It was beautiful, very hilly and incredibly traditional – the building pictured above was at the top of a steep hill leading down to the sea and the view at the top of this post is from the very top of the hill looking across the bay. Here we are enjoying a nice cold local beer (Cisk) at a tiny bar for locals we discovered after walking right to the top of the hill.

The fantastic bus services and ferry service (far superior to the UK in every way!) meant we were able to get out and about independently, even organising ourselves on to boat trips out to nearby islands Gozo and Comino. The size of the islands also meant it was very easy to travel right across the island several times during the day as you went between the sights.

I loved the boat trip over to the nearby islands – we travelled around the bay to see the caves surrounding the island and into Gozo harbour, then on to Comino where were able to get off the boat for a few hours.

This is me standing at the top of a rock looking over the Blue Lagoon on Comino – stunning clear waters between the two beaches that enticed us so much we decided to walk across the shallow bay and carry our bags above our head – it was deeper than I expected and being a shortie I did have to swim some of the way while my boyfriend laughed at me.

During the 10 days we spent in Malta we also took a trip to Valletta where we explored the cake shops hidden in the winding streets, explored the harbour and the cathedral, the Grandmaster’s Palace, museums, the forts and library. It was an incredible day packed with history and culture, but unfortunately you were not allowed to take pictured in all of the places we visited so I only have the following:

It was a great day and I would heartily recommend that anyone visiting Valletta makes sure to pop into the Grandmaster’s Palace to watch the changing of the guard, the fortifications, and St John’s Co-Cathedral is nothing else – make sure to wear clothes covering your legs and arms out of respect.

Our hotel organised an evening visit to a Festa in a nearby village – a Saturday night packed with food, live music and entertainment, and fireworks. Perfect.

We had dinner at a restaurant overlooking the harbour in the village, fresh pasta and seafood – delicious, before heading round to the festa.

It was a lovely evening and one I would really recommend – the music was great and the fireworks were VERY impressive!

Then we spent a day trekking around Gozo and visiting all of the sights, we didn’t make it to the temples unfortunately but managed to see a lot of other sights. One of my favourites was the Citadel which surrounded the town. Here I am standing at the top in the baking heat.

Then we moved on to the Azure Window – another favourite. Amazing to see the crashing waves powering through the window while we swam in a small tidal pool beneath – I loved visiting this spit and didn’t want to leave, especially when we discovered a secret beach behind it and locals sitting by their “beach huts” next to the lagoon. This was the reason we missed the temples, but it was worth it.

This was followed by a trip back across the harbour as the sun was setting.

Malta was definitely one of my favourite countries I have ever holidayed in because there is just so much to do, but it is still a spectacular place if you just want to sit by the pool and relax – we did plenty of both, but my absolutely favourite thing we did there was EAT!

The food was incredible everywhere we went, from the local bakery where they sold spinach and cheese pastries, to The Arches restaurant which sold the finest quality (expensive but worth it) venison, lamb and wine – so good we went twice! If you ever travel there, be sure to eat and drink for it will make you very merry!

Pictures are all my own.

Everyone’s a winner baby!

Everyone's a winner baby!

After a lifetime of entering competitions, paying the Lottery and trying my luck at quizzes – I finally won something! I entered an online competition organised by the owners of a Cambridge-based vintage seller, called Rehab Vintage, through their Facebook page.
Never even considering for a second that I might win, I answered the question and forgot about it, until a status popped into my news feed saying that I had indeed won!

I had my choice of a selection of winter warmer vintage cardigans and jumpers with a range of designs available. So many of them were fabulous patterns and styles, but I chose this cardigan and it arrived last week. It’s absolutely lovely and snug as anything, managed to wear it on Saturday, but it was too warm on Sunday.

Getting a bit over-eager for that wintery chill now so I can really get some wear out of it. Will definitely be planning on checking out the rest of their clothes on their Asos Marketplace page.

Networking: Making new friends at the #EABloggerParty

On Friday night I headed to the beautiful city of Norwich in the rain with two photographer friends and a fellow blogger to the first East Anglia Bloggers Party, organised by the fabulous and lovely Gemma Seager – the woman behind Retrochick.

(From left, Mike Chivers of Rebel Heart Photography, myself, Victoria Arndt of Faerie Wishes and Emily Nichols, another photographer)

Gemma had organised the cocktail party as a chance for bloggers and creative types to meet in person instead of just online and it was a great way of developing a community between Norfolk writers.

Here I am hobnobbing with some of the fabulous writers I met at the party (pics courtesy of Rebel Heart Photography) over some gorgeous 241 cocktails – my favourite was the Freak Friday, although I rather enjoyed a raspberry Bellini as well!

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It was a really lovely party, Gemma had gone to so much effort in organising goody bags, a raffle and tights competition, and I meet some lovely women. It was refreshing to go into a room of women with such a wonderful atmosphere, everyone just wanted to make friends and hear about your work. Talking about what I do also made me realise the value of all my work by seeing it through other people’s eyes. It is very easy to forget or underestimate yourself when you don’t take a step back to put all your work into perspective.

It was also fantastic to finally meet the woman behind Retro Chick – one of my favourite blogs and Gemma is such an inspiration for turning her passion for writing and all things vintage into a career – when she couldn’t find the job she wanted, she created it.

I’m really looking forward to the next gathering and keeping in contact with the bloggers I met.

For the tights competition, we had to choose a pair to take home and wear, then getting a picture of ourselves and posting them on our blogs to stand a chance of winning a hamper. Here’s my offering – and I love the tights I ended up with – gorgeous lace print!

The tights are by Pamela Mann – www.tightsplease.co.uk/brands/pamela-mann/