Tag Archives: explore

Eurotrip | My 24 hours in Amsterdam

14292456_10153770246632617_4868750785377706268_nDuring the summer I headed home to the UK for a short while but it wasn’t long until I started getting itchy feet, and I thought why not take advantage of Europe being right on my doorstep? Living in the UK, we are so lucky to have so many countries and cultures so close and accessible, it’s important to take advantage of that EU passport while we still have it eh! I’ve travelled quite a lot of Europe over the years but  there were still so many places I longed to visit and since making so many new international friends on the other side of the world, it seemed a perfect time to go and visit them all at home for the ultimate Eurotrip! One of the top places on my list was Amsterdam – I’ve wanted to visit for years and have planned trips several times but ended up never quite making it. I would only have about 48-72 hours in the city but it was the perfect opportunity to experience it for the first time and to visit a good friend of mine at her home – from Australia to Amsterdam.14344242_10153770246852617_8477002503444430472_n14322737_10153770246727617_3952194705655828329_nI flew in from Budapest and after a fairly chilled few days spent in the stunning baths and exploring the city at a gentle pace, I was ready to take things up a gear to cram in sightseeing and partying into just a few hours. I was staying just outside the city with my friend, Lisa, and I have to give a huge shoutout to her for not only putting me up at her amazing apartment, but for helping me to make the absolute most of my Amsterdam experience. As soon as I arrived we cycled into the city in true Amsterdam fashion to check out the parks which were filled with the scent of barbecue and the chatter of friends. We sat in the sunshine at a little man-made beach along the river having drinks and pizza with friends, and spent the evening bar hopping along the canals. It was a perfect first evening there and gave me a chance to meet a lot of people, we even stumbled across a fashion festival happening in the streets with all of the high class shops hosting DJ sets and bars.14317358_10153770246982617_7699547149721011518_n14344708_10153770245602617_3898552608383686668_nThe next days, I headed into the city first thing to make the most of my sightseeing time by taking one of the brilliant free walking tours. I first heard about Sandeman’s free walking tours from a friend when I was in Berlin and after experiencing one there and another in ‘Dam, I would seriously recommend them to anyone visiting a European city. The tours are fantastic quality and are led by energetic, knowledgeable and passionate individuals who bring history and heritage to life through their delivery. The walks last just a few hours and take in the main sights of each city plus there are several specialised ones including tours of the Red Light District, beer tours, history tours, graffiti tours etc. The best thing about these tours? They’re technically free despite being such amazing quality. The people giving the tours make their money through tips – they just ask that you pay what you feel the tour was worth at the end – you can give nothing or you show how much you value the experience. It calls for the tour leader to really work hard to show you the city and it calls for you to give an honest and fair review of the services. I can’t fault the company or the system. The Amsterdam tour was fantastic and our guide was really friendly and knowledgeable.14355179_10153770245822617_6765741485707631537_n14238219_10153770245592617_5590145311600997742_nOnce we’d spent a few hours wandering through the busy streets and along the canals for the tour, I headed back to the apartment for a quick change and glam up. Then Lisa and I were straight out the door and off to Magneet Festival – a bit of a trip affair, the festival would feature some of Lisa’s friends who were DJing on the most amazing stage overlooking the whole festival. It was an incredible night, amazing music and a fantastic group of people made for a pretty special experience. We danced and partied our way around the festival, even checking out hardcore and rock tents and watching some entertaining karaoke. It was such a fun night and pretty epic to experience a festival in Amsterdam. After the gates closed, we headed into the city and ended up at De School – a converted school which has become a club where must-lovers can rave in a dark, smokey basement until the sun comes up. Such a good club, we had a fantastic night! The next day, dying of hangover, I packed up and headed out to catch my train up to the north where I was visiting another amazing friend for just one night before heading home.14322663_10153764176672617_3330531587880020450_n14212547_10153764176582617_1783270569474228189_nIt was such a flying visit but my goodness I crammed a LOT in, Amsterdam is a fantastic city which makes it hard not to want to cram everything into the quickest visit. Before even leaving I knew I already wanted to return for another visit – there is still so much I didn’t have time to do, like the Anne Frank House and the museums. And I would love a chance to spend more time exploring the city at a slower pace. I will definitely return in the future but I was so happy to not only get to experience the city for the first time but to share the experience with such amazing people. I’m a lucky girl and travelling the world definitely has opened me up to some incredible cross-continent friendships. Getting to reunite with friends in a completely new land is definitely one of my favourite things about travelling the world.14316794_10153764176542617_1276094821434236239_n

Have you been to Amsterdam – what was your favourite experience? Can you recommend any other walking tours?

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My bumper guide to Bali – where to stay and what to do?

img_2180From lush tropical jungles to endless white sandy beaches with huge crashing waves, Bali has been described as paradise many a time and after just days on the island it was easy to see why so many expats have made it their home. From snorkelling with sea turtles to visiting temples and perusing the markets, there is no end of amazing sights to explore – it’s just finding the time to cram them all into your trip. Planning a holiday in Bali is no simple task – despite being a small island in Indonesia there is an incredible range of things to do and see – but lucky for you, I’ve done the hard work so you don’t have to! Whether you’re a beach bum, a culture craver, a surfer-type, an adventure seeker, a spa dweller or a nature lover, the perfect trip is waiting for you in Bali. I went to meet a friend I met in Australia for a week of partying and catching up before I headed back to Australia, but that one week turned into nearly a month of fun and exploring this amazing island. So if you’re struggling to plan your trip to Bali, this post will take a look at the best places to stay to get the most from your holiday.img_2190First of all it’s important to think about what you want from the visit – do you want to go all Julia Roberts and find your centre, focus on a health-filled yogi experience, or do you want to party all night and bake on the beaches all day? Do you want to explore monkey-filled jungles or take on the famous Bali surf? For just one island, Bali has a lot to offer and it’s easy to get carried away in exploring more “popular” parts and miss out on a slight different or more unique experience. Plan your trip well and you could have an experience that takes your breath away and stays with you for life. I know that my trip to the island is one that I will remember forever, the best trip ever with one of my best friends doing what we do best – living the craziest, wildest, cheekiest life we can.img_2243

Where to stay?

The beauty of Bali being an island is that everything is fairly close together and it is an easy place to travel around if you fancy a more well-rounded trip. With so many different areas to explore it would almost be a shame to stay in just one place during your stay. Even after spending a month on the island, there was still so much left to see so it’s important to be selective and focus on the trip you really want rather than rushing your experience. After all, island life is all about enjoying the sights, sounds, tastes, and pleasures of life.

Stay to party

Seminyak and Kuta are the partying home of Bali, wild nights out, cage dancing, lethal cocktails and all kinds of crazy fun. For the best music to dance to try La Favela in Seminyak, for crazy drunken fun 18-30 style head for Kuta, and don’t forget the gay clubs in Seminyak if you really want to dance until the sun comes up. Check out my review of Grandma’s Hotels here. Or if you’re after a hostel, you can’t go wrong with M Boutique Hostel – one of the best I’ve stayed in across Asia. You may also check out these 18 Best Value Hotels To Party in Bali  compiled by HotelsCombined for more ‘party and stay’ ideas in Bali.

Stay for surf

Kuta, Caangu and Uluwatu are the key places for surf depending on how experienced you are. Stay in Caangu for the full surfer lifestyle in this chilled out beachy town. There are surf camps, lessons and help available all over for beginners.

Stay for yoga/health

Where else other than Ubud, head to the leafy paradise to find your centre, channel Julia Roberts in Eat Pray Love and to eat all kinds of delicious vegan, vegetarian, healthy goodness. You’ll rejuvenate your soul with yoga at The Yoga Barn and Ubud Yoga Centre and come out new woman. Check out brand new hostel – Ons Hostel, with a pool and free breakfast, plus huge, clean dorms and great owners – it’s a perfect place to stay in the shadow of the Monkey Forest.

Stay for island bliss

Head to Gili T and Gili Air if you find Bali too busy and crave peaceful island bliss. Tiny islands just off the coast of Bali, they’re amazing for a visit and well worth a few days. I stayed at Gili La Boheme Sister which was fantastic but I’d also recommend Gili Castle which was just around the corner and hugely popular – both are party hostels and good for meeting people but not the place to stay for a relaxing holiday.img_2207

Here’s my top 15 experiences you don’t want to miss in Bali: 

Uluwatu Temple

One of the best places to witness a spectacular Bali sunset, this Balinese sea temple is bound to take your breath away. Perched on top of steep cliffs that tower 70m above the Indian Ocean, the temple features stunning Balinese architecture and is one of six key temples believed to be Bali’s spiritual pillars. It even overlooks the daily Kecak dance performances which gives visitors a perfect opportunity to experience traditional Balinese culture in a truly magnificent setting.

Tanah Lot

Slightly further along the western coast of the island, Tanah Lot offers the perfect combination of Balinese culture set against Indonesia’s wild landscape. Another sea temple, it feels completely exposed to the elements as huge waves crash on the shore and against the visitors who come to pay their respects at the temple. This temple is the perfect place to watch the sunset and to really understand why so many fall in love with Bali’s raw, natural beauty.

Monkey Forest

Of course it wouldn’t be a tropical holiday without a trip into the jungle and where better to get a taste than in Ubud? In complete contrast to the beaches of Bali, Ubud is full of lush jungle vines and at it’s heart is the incredible Monkey Forest. Like a scene from The Jungle Book, it captures your imagination as monkeys climb and leap from branch to branch. While the ancient temple brings the culture of years gone by to life in front of you.

Tegalalang Rice Terraces

One of the most iconic images of Bali – those incredible rice terraces that stretch on forever with their vibrant beauty. You may have seen the picture a thousand times, but trust us, nothing compares to having that sight in front of your eyes, to the intense humidity, and the sweet, earthy smell. Be sure to try and head there early before the hottest part of the day and you’ll beat the crowds. Don’t let the heat put you off walking around this incredible landscape, you’ll find more beauty awaiting on every corner.img_2181

Swimming with sea turtles

Surrounding Bali and neighbouring Gili T and Gili Air is the most incredible coral reef that is just teeming with life and waiting to be explored. Grab a snorkel and head down the beach or hire some diving gear and go further out for some of the most incredible sights. Swimming with sea turtles is a must while you’re on the islands, hire a boat on Gili T and head off for the day to all the best spots. Make sure to pack an underwater camera!

Island paradise on Gili T and Gili Air

Just a short boat ride away is Gili T and Gili Air – two island paradises that will provide a perfect escape from Bali for a few days. Much quieter and with none of the busy traffic that plagues Bali, they provide a perfect refuge to kick back and relax with your loved ones. Those spectacular pictures of Indonesian sunsets you’ve been setting as your screensaver at work? Head to the beaches and you’ll get a chance to witness them with your own eyes. Truly breathtaking.

Tegenungen Waterfall

It’s not a trip to a jungle paradise without waterfalls and luckily Bali has plenty to choose from but by far the most spectacular is Tegenungen. Just a short distance from Ubud, this one is worth arriving early for to avoid the crowds. Take your swimsuit and dive into the fresh waters, swim into the cave behind and stand underneath the powerful waters as they plunge off the side of the cliff. You can even climb up to the top of the waterfall for a small fee – it’s well worth it for stunning waterfall photos.

Mount Batur

Get into full adventure mode by taking part in the sunrise trek to the summit of this active volcano for an incredible sunrise. Hike up in the cover of darkness to watch the first rays of light stretching across Bali. Towering 1,717m above sea level, climbing the third highest peak in Bali is the highlight of many traveller’s Bali experience. Nearby there are also hot springs to relax in after the climb.img_2209

Surf’s up

Bali is renowned for it’s incredible waves and attracts countless surfers each year who just can’t get enough of the landscape and the lifestyle. Whether you’re just a beginner or have been surfing for years, there is a perfect beach for you. Kuta, and Canggu are popular areas for surf camps aimed at those just starting out but also have some pretty big waves to challenge the more experienced. Uluwatu is a haven for experienced surfers who dare to take on the crashing waves.

Seafood at sunset

Imagine a beautiful island beach wedding at sunset, live music and fresh seafood. Perfect right? Head to Jimbaran for the evening and you’ll experience the romance and luxury of Bali on a budget with great food and free entertainment as the sun slips below the horizon.

Nightlife and a foodie’s heaven

Bali is infamous for it’s nightlife and while the club scene may not be for everyone, there is a huge range of ways to entertain yourself of an evening. From foodie heaven, to raging clubs/bars in Seminyak and Kuta, to beach parties in Canggu or live music and cultural performances in Ubud – you’ll never be at a loss for evening entertainment.

Yoga in Ubud

It wouldn’t be Bali without a reference to Eat Pray Love, but Ubud truly is an amazing place to find your centre. Where better to try out some yoga classes than in a beautiful studio overlooking endless lush, green jungle before heading to one of the local restaurants for a fresh fruit smoothie?img_2211

Exploring the countryside on motorbike

By far the best way to see Bali and to experience the real way the Indonesians live outside of the towns. Witness the true beauty of the local people and countryside as you explore the island at your own pace, you never know what hidden delights will be waiting for you.

Pamper at the spas

Asia is well-loved for it’s food, and for the amazing massages. It wouldn’t be a trip to Bali without indulging and the best thing about Bali is it caters for all budgets. Whether you’re a backpacker or a luxury traveller there is a spa for you, treat yourself after a long day of exploring the island.img_2154

What was your favourite Bali experience? Can you recommend any places to stay?

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2016 – The end of another amazing year of travel

15747862_10154056897662617_3367207312712882158_nThere’s no doubt about it, 2016 has been a pretty incredible year for me. I’ve had some soaring highs and felt pretty low at times, but I’ve also had the chance to experience some thing I never could have dreamed I would. I crossed three continents and ticked off my 30th country, worked with hotels, spas and restaurants either side of the globe for this blog, I said goodbye to love so that I could travel Europe solo and I made some incredible friends along the way. I’ve worked as a sales manager, a cocktail waitress, a journalist along the way and all the while I’ve been working on creating amazing content for this blog. 2016 has been a year of working hard and playing harder, and as it draws to a close I can’t help but reminisce over the special times I’ve shared with amazing people. From the teary goodbyes at the airport, to the mates I’ve shared incredible road trips with this summer, to the incredible welcome home I got from some of my best friends when I arrived back in Melbourne. Getting the opportunity to celebrate a real Aussie Christmas surrounded by so many amazing friends was a perfect way to end the year. But what have the highlights been?

My top 5 travelling experiences of 2016:

Melbourne

Without a doubt, Melbourne is my number one for the year. Voted the Most Liveable City in the World six years running, it’s no wonder I’ve just moved back here for the second time. I lived in Melbourne at the start of the year and it was the first place in nearly two years that had felt like home. I had an amazing flat, a great job as a sales manager, the most incredible friends and I completely fell for a great guy. Now I’m back for round two and I’m already well on my way with a great job at a rooftop bar and my own brand new apartment. Melbourne, you are well and truly my second home.12742300_10153292964597617_7986843509108504989_n

Budapest

A city I had dreamed of visiting for years, Budapest was everything I had imagined and more. I loved the history, the beauty, the architecture and the people I met there. Part of my summer backpacking trip around Europe, it was a perfect opportunity to explore the city independently and to have some amazing experiences. One of my favourites was eating dinner in a traditional Hungarian restaurant with my newfound Aussie and Norwegian mates talking about the world under a blanket of stars. Visiting Budapest reminded me how much I love exploring a new city alone on foot, and it’s a city I can’t wait to revisit.image

Slovenia

Slovenia was an amazing experience – not only did I get to explore some of Eastern Europe, a dream of mine for several years, but I was invited along on my first blogging trip. It was an amazing privilege and a reminder of how hard I have worked to build up this travel blog over the last few years. Spending a week at a luxury glamping site on the Slovenian/Croatian border was a fantastic way to see the country – from woodland hikes to swimming in the rivers, to visiting locals and eating feasts of freshly caught local fish. The people, and the place, made it unforgettable.image

Bali

My second blogging trip of the year came about only as a last minute plan – I was at a low point and unsure of what my next move would be when one of my best travelling friends invited me to Bali. It was the best decision ever and led to my being invited along to review hotels, spas and restaurants on the island. What was supposed to be a week-long trip turned into a month and yet I still wasn’t ready to leave. I explored the Bali countryside on motorbike, visited temples, explored monkey forests, swam in the waves, spotted manatees and swam with sea turtles. It was the holiday I had needed – not just travelling, it was a holiday and one of which I appreciated every second.img_2178

Tasmania

Definitely the most breathtakingly beautiful place I have been yet, by far. Tasmania was somewhere I had longed to visit since arriving in Australia and “mini-New Zealand” definitely lived up to the hype. I spent three weeks there staying in the best hostel I have found yet in Australia, exploring Hobart and road tripping around 11 national parks in just 10 days. I hiked for days on end, camped wild under the stars and the full moon, I climbed several mountains and spotted countless whales, kangaroos, wombats and wallabies. It was a magical experience and one I’m so glad I made happen, it was just what I needed. A true breath of fresh air.img_2381

After such an incredible year, it’s hard to imagine just how 2017 could top 2016. I’ve travelled to eight different countries this year, I’ve lived in two of them long-term, I’ve gone from outback living to city slicker to beach babe and total mermaid. I’ve taken my clothes off on top of a mountain in the snow, I’ve changed my mind in 10 minutes and booked a spontaneous flight to the other side of the world. I’ve refused to stop living my dream for anyone other than myself and I’ve made a plan for the future. It’s an exciting time to be Absolutely Lucy and it all starts again when the clock strikes 12 on New Years. Another fresh start, another exciting adventure and another dream come true. I’m ready, are you?

Where has been your favourite place to travel to this year? Have you enjoyed following my adventures? What are your travel plans for 2017?

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If you’re making travel plans for 2017 already – look no further than Sunshine for cheap holidays that will bring your dream destination a little closer. With hotel deposits from just £1 and holiday deposits from just £50, they’ll help you make your dream trip a reality.

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.

Part 1: A busy summer touring round as many festivals as possible – Wyndstock and Hideout Festival

Now that the summer is clearly drawing to a close, I’ve spent the last week huddled under an umbrella with soggy feet in my sad-looking ballet pumps, shivering despite wearing several layers and the token pashmina has come out of storage. I find myself reminiscing and feeling pretty happy with the way I spent my summer, after a short holiday in Croatia for a music festival, forgoing my usual two-week break abroad, I spent the rest of the summer touring around music festivals across the UK and for once getting to make the most of the beautiful, if late, summer we have had in the UK.

After discovering music festivals last year when I went to Manchester’s Parklife Weekender with my university friends, they ignited something in me that although already aware of, had never really unleashed before now. My love of music, dancing and meeting all types of new people from across the country was perfectly suited to the lifestyle and I had no choice but to further indulge when I went along to Glade Festival and Zoo Project Festival – all attracting very different crowds, from the chavvier types to the laid back hippies, I had a fantastic time at all and quickly decided that 2013 would be my festival summer.

Thankfully, my friends, family and jobs all helped to make this happen and despite going to five festivals this summer, I actually only paid for one set of tickets – top blagger, I know.

It all started at Wyndstock, a new addition to the scene which is marketed as the anti-festival. Set up by Victor Wynd as a party for his friends and like-minded individuals to enjoy a Midsummer Ball in the beautiful setting of Houghton Hall, in my home town, the event is for the more upmarket festival-goer. There was dancing, feasting, fireworks, literature talks, petting of prize bulls, a “fox hunt”, falconry, puppet theatre, lawn games, tours of the stately home, jazz, storytelling and stargazing amongst many more amazing activities. My favourite was the swing-dancing lessons and competition, which my boyfriend won and was very proud about. I love anything vintage-inspired and Gatsby-esque and this was an amazing opportunity to get very glammed up and go to a banquet of lobster and venison before partying the night away with some amazing people.

Before the hunt, meeting the horses and hounds..

Glammed up for the banquet and a night of dancing..

Meeting the host for the evening, Victor Wynd himself…

Our swing-dancing teachers shared dinner with us..

Mark winning the swing-dancing competition..

All in all, a very fun festival with amazing benefits such as being a small and intimate affair, and very posh toilets and showers!

Then we boarded a plane to the Island of Pag in Croatia for Hideout Festival which was very much a festival for the beautiful people – everyone had amazing bodies and the perfect tan. But I wasn’t bothered about all of that, we had a team of friends with us and more meeting us out there for one thing only – to dance until the sun came up every day.

There were a lot of amazing DJs coming along to play the festival and I was very excited to see a whole range of them including Julio Bashmore, Chase and Status, Skream and Benga, David Rodigan, Rudimental, Seth Troxler, Andy C, Pendulum, Redlight, B-Traits and many, many more… Here are some of my snaps:

Sunset on the first day in Croatia.. such a beautiful country!

Packed out stages…

The King’s Lynn crew ready to rave until dawn..

David Rodigan – one of my favourite sets of the whole week!

Raving is even more fun when you do it with some of your best friends…

Chase and Status were pretty intense…

Boat party with Midland, MK and Julio Bashmore playing… so nice to get away from the festival for a short time..

And sadly, ending with Rudimental, who only gave a rubbish DJ set rather than a full show – such a disappointment!

I wrote about my experiences at Hideout Festival in a preview and review for This Festival Feeling in exchange for press tickets.

Check out my next posts for the rest of my experiences…

More from Ireland as I search for my ‘pot of gold’

The next day, I awoke bright and early feeling refreshed from an amazing night’s sleep in a cosy bed and lay there for a little while, watching the boats from the bed. I was thrilled to see the sun was shining and that my beautiful new shoes would be safe from the heavy rain I had been warned about. We headed downstairs where a delicious breakfast of cereal, juice, yoghurt with fresh fruit, toast and a full fry-up was awaiting us. We filled our boots knowing full well that we wouldn’t be eating again until dinnertime with the wedding taking place at 2pm at a church that was 30 minutes away. We smartened ourselves up and headed over to meet the others.

I wore a Love by Topshop floral dress which I customised by sewing up the slit at the front of the dress, with a black New Look blazer, a Topshop necklace, my bargain Dorothy Perkins shoes (a steal after the were reduced to £15) and a Primark bag.

Mark wore a River Island suit, with River Island shoes, his tie and shirt came from Topshop, he also wore a waistcoat from River Island and red braces.

We were first in the hotel lobby and made the most of it by having a sneak around to look at the reception rooms and have a drink.

The wedding ceremony was beautiful and suited the couple, Brendan and Liza down to the ground, they are very big on family and the importance of everyone being involved – when we visited them last year they did everything they could to make me feel incredibly welcome and they are endlessly generous and kind.

For the service, they started with Liza walking down the aisle to the tune of Mark’s uncle playing the fiddle.

The couple made their vows, interspersed with readings from several members of the family, in front of priest (Great Uncle) Richard, who had made the journey from South Africa where he works as a missionary in order to conduct the service. Such a lovely touch and he made it so personal to them. I was thrilled to finally meet his after hearing so much about him over the past six years.

Later on, after a champagne reception back the the hotel, with strawberries to dip in our glasses, we enjoyed a hearty meal of a large seafood vol-au-vent, followed by prime Irish beef with gravy, roast potatoes, mash and vegetables (all in endless supply) and finished the meal with profiteroles and meringue. Just what we all needed after such a long day. And the meal was later followed by sausage sandwiches for an evening snack!

Then the dancing started. The entertainment was a rockabilly band which later turned into a disco with the best playlist I have ever heard at a wedding – all good, party anthems such as Cornershop and FatBoySlim – perfect to get everyone dancing!

After dancing until our feet could take it no more, and the DJ closed down for the night, we retired to the bar for more drinking and a lot more laughs. Myself and Mark finally left at around 4-4.30am but heard the party was still going on until 6.30am! We stumbled back to the B&B and hit the deck fairly quickly. The next morning, after missing breakfast in the B&B, we got our stuff together and headed out for a walk and lunch by ourselves, to make the most of the final day before catching our flight. After a gorgeous lunch of linguine with fresh prawns and a garlic, white wine sauce as we sat outside overlooking the ocean, I insisted on dipping my toes into the water – something that means a lot to me. I love the sea and to be close to it is a big part of my life.

I achieved what I came to Ireland to do – I ate heartily, drank heavily, chatted to everyone, danced merrily, made people smile, learnt to smile again after a stressful few weeks and most importantly, it gave me the break I needed. By dipping my toes into the chilly Irish sea, I feel like a new woman and that is the most important thing. Ireland is a stunning country and the views, especially in this part, always leave me breathless. I would recommend that everyone visits Dunmore East at least once – as you can see from my pictures, it really is beautiful.