Posted in Photography, Travel, Uncategorized

A saunter to St Ives

I recently took a trip to Cornwall for a weeks training for my new job. I stayed at the beautiful Tregenna Castle which is set in a stunning estate and overlooking St Ives. I was with a group of other girls and none of us had previously met so it was quite an experience to explore the area whilst also getting to know each other. Most of our time was already taken up with training but in the evenings we got to socialise and get out.

As you can see St Ives is quite a distance from the hotel but we were advised by the staff that it was around 20 minutes to walk down there via a scenic pathway through the grounds that we could follow. We only really had the energy to go on a couple of occasions (one of which it was pouring with rain) as although the walk down was pretty enjoyable it wasn’t that pleasurable trying to make it back up again!

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As we exited the Tregenna estate onto a main road there was a lovely view of Porthminster beach which we also paid a visit to. I was surprised that with the glorious weather and the beginning of the holidays already well underway that the beach was so quiet!

To get down to St Ives Harbour we had to pass through the picturesque village which is full of winding roads and quaint, boutique style shops as well as a few high street favourites.

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We made it all the way round to the other side of the harbour and as you can see on the last picture is the view back up the hill, the castle is the building at the top!

The water was out but we didn’t have any intention of taking a dip anyway. One thing I did want to do is buy some souvenirs and I was shocked at the lack of tat shops that you usually see on every corner of beach resorts. We did come across a couple of fudge shops and one of them sold other bits and pieces but there was definitely more room for fridge magnets.

St Ives is actually a lot smaller than I imagined and although it was busy, it was nowhere near as packed as other resorts such as Brighton or Southend but then I suppose they have a different clientele as there are more galleries and art spaces than fairground rides or arcades. I only saw one arcade which I did intend to pop into but didn’t get a chance in the end as we had to escape the rain but not before we indulged in a proper Cornish ice-cream!

I really enjoyed my time in St Ives, even though it was limited. I would happily go back to spend more time on the gorgeous beaches and perusing the little shops if I had the opportunity. Have you ever visited this beautiful part of the UK?

 

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

The Imperial Hotel – Brighton

During my recent trip to Brighton for a family wedding I stayed at the Imperial hotel which is situated further down from the hustle and bustle of Brighton seafront but still a stones throw from the beach at Hove.

I stayed with my mum and daughter and we had a room with three single beds. On entering the room we were met with a strange musky smell but were pleased that we were not all cramped into a small space as the room was quite spacious and we quickly opened the windows for some fresh air. The décor seemed to be stuck in the 80’s and I new it needed updating when my mum declared that she liked it and would decorate her front room the same way!

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The beds were comfy and there was a nice little seating area by the window which was lucky because the TV was tiny in comparison to the room and was hard to see from the beds so if we wanted to watch anything it was easier to sit there. The view from the window just overlooked other buildings but if you opened it up and leaned out you could just about see the lapping waves of the sea.

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During my past stays in hotels I have chosen to stay in the more well known chains such as the Sofitel in Paris, The Hilton Garden inn in Manchester and the Crowne Plaza in Amsterdam and I have complained that they don’t seem to have much personality but during this trip I actually missed a lot of the amenities that I have previously experienced and for all around the same price brackets. I wouldn’t say the Imperial was particularly comfortable in the sense of luxury that I had at the Sofitel and when I went to look for the iron (I never usually take advantage of the iron but had a particularly creased dress) I realised there wasn’t one and had to ask at the desk, they bought one to the room with an ironing bored but it was very basic and didn’t do a great job!

I knew that my mum would drink as much coffee as me and I usually use all the little long life milks sachets in one cup (which still doesn’t provide me with my usual milky coffee) so I bought a pint of milk on the way and then realised there was no fridge in the room (even though there was plenty of room for one) so we had to finish it all off before it started to smell. It wasn’t particularly hot in the room and with it being and old building I wasn’t expecting it to have built in air con, like I have had in other hotels, but it would have been a nice touch to have a fan available for the muggy evening air. Another thing missing was a hair dryer which was apparently available at a price!

The bathroom lacked any sort of décor, it was pretty basic and could have done with having a fan as it was particularly stuffy and hot after a shower and needed to be aired out a bit before the next person could use it, but it had clean towels and running hot water.

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The rest of the hotel was pretty much the same as the room, lots of clashing colours and patterns but quite spacious if you wanted to hang out. We didn’t really make use of the bar or restaurant available as we were out most of the time but as we were on the third floor we did have the pleasure of using what can only be described as the worlds smallest and slowest lift.

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We didn’t particularly find our stay sumptuous and there was no grandeur to the Imperial hotel but we did sleep well and the staff were very friendly and helpful. There do seem to be hundreds of hotels in the Brighton area and would probably look for somewhere a bit more contemporary should I visit Brighton in the future.

If you are visiting Brighton at any point, check out my post on 13 things to do along the beachfront.

 

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

13 Things to do on Brighton sea front

As one of the closest beach resorts to London and with so much to see and do in Brighton, it is no surprise that it is such a popular hot spot for visitors, particularly on a nice summers day!

After my recent visit to attend a family wedding I thought I would put together a list of things to do should you be planning a visit in the future.

Relax and take in the views

I love a bit of people watching or just the serenity of watching the sea gently rumbling to the shore so it is perfect to just pull up a deckchair and enjoy the surroundings. Deckchairs are available for a rental charge on the beach but are free to sit on halfway down the pier. You can also enjoy the view in close up by using one of the telescopes on the pier.

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Visit the attractions

The Sealife centre is right opposite the pier and the newer British airways i360 is a replacement to the wheel that used to be pride and place on the beach. The i360 is further down the beach towards Hove and is the worlds tallest moving observation tower at 450ft high. There are also many museums dotted around with the Fishing museum actually along the seafront.

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Sunbathe on the beach

Brighton is not really known for it’s sandy beach as it is actually a very stony beach but this doesn’t stop people laying out their towels and having a sunbathe. if you are brave enough you can even take your shoes off and walk down to have a paddle and if you are lucky you will find some sand. Although I did find sand on the first day I visited, it seemed to have disappeared when I returned to dip my toes in!

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Take a selfie

Do you need an excuse to take a selfie? I personally don’t take many selfies but I certainly caught lots of others doing it and who can blame them with such a lovely backdrop. There are also lots of comical seaside face cut out boards that you can use as a prop for your holiday pics as well.

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Eat

There are plenty of places to eat but fish and chips seem to be a firm favourite and there are no shortage of shops to pick up this seaside must have. There are also lots of hot dog, donuts and crepe pop ups and we personally like the Chinese hut at the end of the pier to get noodles and fried rice followed by an ice cream on the beach.

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Fairground rides

The fair is situated right at the end of the pier and you purchase a wrist band in order to go on all the rides, there is a nice selection for all ages and it is a great way to keep youngsters entertained.

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Soft play

You may not want to spend a day trip having to watch your kids in soft play but it is an alternative to the fairground, probably easier if you have little ones. It is also at the end of the pier but is inside the arcade and surrounds the restaurant seating area so you could give yourself a well earned rest while the kids wear themselves out.

Arcades

You cannot visit a seaside resort without a little trip to the arcades! My personal favourites are the 2p machines (one day I’ll be rich enough to move to the 10p machines) and I have amassed quite a collection of tat that I have won on them. I like to put them on my book shelf as they are all quite cute and remind me of family day trips whenever I see them on there.

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Get sporty

Whether you are a keen kayaker or prefer to just watch sport on the TV you can do either in Brighton. The water had a few surfers and jet skiers and there were some fisherman down by the water but on the pier one of the bars have set up a large screen to watch the tennis which is slightly less strenuous and you can enjoy a drink or two while there.

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Get married

Brighton may not be the first place that comes to mind when you think of a beach side wedding but the bandstand is the perfect intimate setting to get hitched and that is exactly what my aunt chose to do. I thought it would be far from private as it is out in the open and there are people walking past but actually as it is further down the seafront towards Hove it is less busy and passers by didn’t seem to bat an eyelid.

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Cool the kids off

If you are reluctant to let the kids get in the sea in Brighton they can still cool off in the outdoor pool a short walk from the bandstand. There is also a playground next to it so plenty to keep them entertained.

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Instagram the huts

I have been to Brighton on many occasions and had never seen the beach huts before but on this visit our hotel was further down the beach at Hove and the huts were right opposite. From the back they are all one colour but the owners are allowed to paint the doors any colour they like and they look really pretty so I couldn’t resist an Instagram pic. They are also available to rent if you want to use one on your visit.

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Pick up some souvenirs

Have you even been to the seaside if you haven’t come home with a bag full of magnets, keyrings or sweet treats? We personally love a selection of sticks of rock so I always bring them back for the kids.

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I definitely made the most of my trip to Brighton, have you ever visited? What would you add to the list?

 

 

 

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

Chania – Crete

It is that time of year where we are starting to feel the warmth of the sun on our skin and the summer holidays don’t seem so far away. Some people may have a holiday already booked and others are researching where to go so I thought I would share our family trip to Crete last year.

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Crete is one of those holiday destinations that everybody travels to at some point in their lives and who can blame them? Glorious weather, scenic mountain views and beautiful beaches it does seem to have it all.

Over the summer we travelled to Chania (pronounced Hania) on the western side of the island for a week, staying at the Sirios village resort.

The first thing I noticed on our trip from the airport was the very dry landscape, but this is understandable with the long, hot summers and mild winters. Another thing was the amount of buildings that seemed to be abandoned. There were houses that had either gone into ruin and left or had started to be built and then left unfinished. This seemed such a shame but the financial crisis in Greece over recent years has probably been a factor.

The Sirios hotel was a large complex with three pools, an outdoor bar and a play park for children. The large dining area had a buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinner but hot food was also available at other times throughout the day so nobody was ever hungry! There was a large selection of food (and a never ending supply of drinks) to suit all tastes and I’m sure I came back home a couple of pounds heavier!

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The hotel had everything we needed for a relaxing week away, great food, and clean pools but whats the fun in that? We wanted to get out and explore what Crete had to offer.

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We travelled with  Thompson and we had a travel rep that gave us a presentation about all the excursions available through them. We found being in a group of six that the cost of these would be way too much for our budget. The cheapest trip out was a boat ride in the harbour for €28 each. We took a short stroll from the hotel, caught a bus for €1.50 into town and found the harbour ourselves, taking a boat ride for €10 an adult and €5 a child making it at least half the price and we were able to explore the town without any time constrictions.

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I loved exploring the old town with amazing looking buildings and people riding around in a horse and cart. The shopping area was really busy but that led onto the harbour area which was more tranquil and I could have sat watching the world go by for hours, unfortunately I was with a bunch of teenagers who find that sort of thing boring (They’ll appreciate it one day)

One place that the kids didn’t mind visiting was the local beach. It was about a ten minute walk from the hotel and I don’t think t was the main beach of the area because it wasn’t very full but we liked it that way!

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The views on the beach were so beautiful, we had to go down there a few nights just to see the sun setting. With my children getting older and doing their own thing it is not very often that we all spend time together so it was great to find such a lovely city that we could spend some quality family time together. I cant wait for our next adventure!

Have you been to Crete? Where is your next holiday destination?

Posted in Travel, Uncategorized

A weekend in Tenerife

On my return from Greece in the summer I wasn’t quite ready to give up the idea of spending my days at the beach and sitting by the pool sipping cocktails so when my friends suggested a winter weekend getaway to sunnier climes I jumped at the chance.

To be honest, the idea of just having a weekend away wasn’t too appealing but because of work commitments it was our only option and I was surprised at just how much we could fit in those two short days… although I may have sacrificed a bit of sleep in the process!

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Tenerife is the largest of the canary islands and is situated close to Morocco. We visited the Playa de las Americas which is a purpose built holiday resort. In one way this is great because it is full of everything you need on a package holiday with bars, clubs, restaurants and attractions all within a stones throw away but it was quite disappointing for the photographer within me that loves to find historical buildings and local culture of which there is none, at least not where I was staying. One thing that struck me about Tenerife was just how clean it was, the floors were mostly spotless and they obviously take pride in the area which is probably one of the factors of why it is so popular.

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We stayed at the palm beach hotel which had everything we needed although the Wifi was a bit dodgy and kept disappearing and the third bed was a pull out sofa which you don’t really want to deal with if you roll in drunk from the many bars along the strip at 4am (not that I did that of course)

Considering we visited in November the whole area was quite busy and I’m not sure I would like to visit during peak season because I’m sure it will be packed and I much prefer having the opportunity to chill out in the Jacuzzi without a queue of people waiting to use it.

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The beach was really nice and considerably empty which I think is because although it was 24 degrees it was really windy, particularly along the sea front. The weather was perfect if you have your surf board with you but a bit messy if you are covered in sun cream and the sand blows all over you making you look like you haven’t shaved in a couple of years.

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One thing you will not struggle to find in Tenerife is places to shop or places to eat because they are never ending! We ate at quite a few places which I will blog about separately (watch this space) including a steak house inside the Safari shopping mall. Prices were really reasonable with one restaurant we visited offering a 3 course meal for 7.50 euros. If you like a tipple it is also worth buying alcohol in the shops before venturing out as we found beer for 49 cents and bottles of wine for 1.10 euros.

It was really lovely spending some quality time with my friends who I don’t get to see very often and we are already planning our next trip away. The canary islands have been on my list of places to visit for a long time and I am glad I went to Tenerife, I would love to see what is on offer on the other islands in the future!

Have you ever been to any of the canary islands?

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