Outings · travel

Flashback Friday – Oxford, United Kingdom

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Last year a friend treated me to a two night UK break. It was a special birthday for me (the big 30!), and so she had booked it as a present.

I don’t know about you, but I LOVE hotels! This one was amazing – it was a converted prison! Well it was a castle, into a prison, into a hotel!

I took way too many photos of the room, as you can see! But all the little details was amazing – the carpet, the drawers, even the keepsake toiletries was amusing. (Forgot to take photo sadly). There was several different room options. We stayed in the main block, we think they had knocked down three cells and made one room.

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It really was a unique hotel, very boutique and also quiet! We went on a Thursday and Friday last June. The lobby was pretty, there was restaurants and bars.

You could also wonder round the grounds, and see more of the history and castle. On the bottom floor, was even a replica of an old cell room! There was also restaurants and bars right in the shadow of the hotel. Highly recommend the wine bar just out the front – 1855 Oxford.

The location was great, right in the middle of the city. We walked everywhere. Whilst we was there we visited the Ashmolean Museum, had a pub lunch along the river,  lots of nice food, went into the one of the smallest pubs and also managed to go on a punting boat! We hired one just for half hour, with one guy doing the punting. It’s cliché and touristy – but we enjoyed it! It was surprisingly calming and relaxing, but we wasn’t there in high season.

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I know I love holidays abroad, and I’m addicted to looking and planning future trips. But sometimes to break the year up, its nice to explore other parts of our country! Oxford was pretty, and felt very historic with all the university’s over town.

But the hotel was just amazing, a real find on my friends behalf! Even if you could stay one night, it’s well worth it! Look up Malmaison Oxford.

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Disney World · walt disney world

Disney’s The Magic Behind Our Steam Trains Tour, Walt Disney World

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This was one of the tours I went on, on last visit to Disney.

I have done a lot of the backstage Disney tours offered, and am always keen to do more. I knew of Walt’s love for trains (who doesn’t?!) and decided to book this one too.

It was a very early start, you had to be at Magic Kingdom for 7.15am! No transport was available, so we drove our hire car to the Contemporary Resort, and then walked over.

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We met outside the entrance, and then walked into a very empty park – bliss! The tour guide let us stop for a while and take some photos.

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I can’t remember the name of our guide, but she was so enthusiastic and passionate about the steam trains! She clearly loved her job.

It starts off with a ride on the train, one was already set up and in use. So we went round the park, until we got to the roundhouse exit. (This is located at the Fantasyland Station). You then go backwards, so you are now backstage and arrive at The Roundhouse. The train we was in and looking at was the Roger E. Broggie.

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This is where the steam trains are kept overnight, maintained and serviced. We was encouraged to take photos, but not to touch or lean on the train as it was so hot!

We was broken up into groups of 3 or 4, and took turns going up into the cab, where our tour guide explained how the train starts, works and the jobs of the two cast members. It sounds like a very hard working role, and when she said how hot the cab can get in those summer Florida month’s – wow! That’s dedication.

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When you are there, you get to see a cast member light the engines – you actually see the flames, and you also get to witness “a pop-off”. I will let you experience that for yourself!

After this portion of the tour, we got back on the train and headed to Main Street.

Under the Main Street station is a section, with posters and information on the four people the trains are named after. Walter E. Disney, Lilly Belle, Roy O. Disney and Roger E. Broggie. Our tour guide went quickly through the stories and how they got chosen. I personally hadn’t noticed this before, and think it’s a very nice touch to honour the people. If you haven’t noticed this either – maybe go check it out on your next visit!

We then went upstairs to the station, and took a seat on a few benches. There was then a flipboard with old photos and more information about steam trains. For example Walt’s own train in his garden and the story behind that.

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The tour finished here, and we was each given a pin. The tour itself lasts approximately three hours, and you need a valid ticket to get into the park.

I did enjoy the tour, and I always love hearing stories about Walt Disney. The bonus of an empty park in the morning, and going backstage are always highlights for me.

 

 

 

walt disney world

Art of Animation Resort – Little Mermaid Photo ops!

At my last visit at the world, I stayed at Art of Animation for three nights. I stayed by myself, so managed to get a Little Mermaid room!

I had visited this hotel on two occasions previously, and had loved the Cars section the most.

Whilst I was at my room, I wondered round my section each evening and noticed how many photo ops there was! I know there is lots in other resorts too, but this one just had so many!

I also had to walk through the Lion King section to get to the food court – and it also had lots! Not once walking through did I not spot someone taking a photo!

I loved it, thought it was great that Disney puts out these statues / pieces / sculptures – whatever you want to call them to add atmosphere, to plus up the experience and for great photo ops!

I’ve added some of my favourite’s from The Little Mermaid section. What about you – have you stayed here? Did you like it? Did you manage to grab some great photo ops?

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travel

Flashback Friday – Amsterdam, Netherlands

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A few years ago, my fiancé and I went to Amsterdam for three nights. We had so many people that had already visited and wanted to see the city for ourselves.

One of the best parts was the short flight, from London Gatwick – it was 45 minutes!     We stayed in a hotel a little on the edge of the city, and chose a basement room for a cheaper price.

The first day we walked, and walked. Just all over the town, taking it all in. Its a very picturesque place with the towering town houses and endless canals. Plus I have never seen so many bikes in one place – everyone owns one!

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I wasn’t too keen on the food there, I know it would have been us as well – but felt like a lot of fast food restaurants and not many independent cute places.

On one of the days, we visited the Heineken Experience, a good brewery experience – but they don’t brew there anymore, so its more of a tour.

On the same day, we also took a boat ride on the canals over a lot of the city, was nice to see the views from a different prospective, and a few interesting facts on the recorded audio guide.

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We did visit the Red light district of an evening too – everyone does – its the tourist thing to do! Felt very surreal to see – just lots of girls in their windows and you just walk past!

On one of the other days, I had pre booked a tour – it was a half day. the tour was to see Zaanse Schans windmills and a traditional clog maker, and then to Volendam – a little village where you also saw cheese making. The time on the tour, you was transported by bus (with commentary) and also for a small part – a boat.

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We visited a working windmill – we actually went inside and the owner let us walk all around. The whole village was very pretty and smelled amazing, as there was a nearby chocolate factory!

Out of all the city breaks I have taken the last few years, Amsterdam is a place I wouldn’t return to. I just think there is too much hype, and there is other new places to explore. Of course, most people are shocked when I say this – but hey everyone has their own favourite’s!

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Outings

Tipsy Tea, London

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The other weekend I took my friend out to Tipsy Tea in Mayfair, London. It was a special treat for her 30th birthday, and she had kindly taken me out on mine.

We are both afternoon tea lovers, and she has been to so many – it was hard finding one she hadn’t already been to!

This one was one of the best, as it wasn’t just about the food and the drink – although everything was delicious. This was an experience!

It is based on the traveller/adventurer Phileas Fogg, and this is his residence that you are visiting.

The outside of the building is very unassuming, and had I not looked up on Google maps before going – would have walked straight past! They tick you off a list, take your jacket and welcome you in!
The room is jam packed full of items from his travels, and I don’t want to post too many photos, as don’t want to ruin anyone else’s experience!
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So the Tipsy Tea is just that – all the teas are cocktails served in tea pots! And all the cocktails are tea based – check out the menu! I had the Woburn Abbey and my friend chose the Anna Maria Russell. We had a cup of each to try! Both was really nice and definitely interesting.

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You book for a two hour slot, and halfway through one of the staff sat down at the piano and began playing! Really felt like we had travelled back in time for a short while.

As I mentioned the food was really good, the salted caramel brownie was amazing! I’m all about the deserts!

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This was pricey, but it’s an experience, lovely unique afternoon tea and the room is small – so you do have to pre-book! But come on, who doesn’t like treating their friends and themselves every once in a while?!

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travel

Flashback Friday – Reykjavik, Iceland

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A few years ago, I had a strong desire to see the Northern Lights, so some research and a trip was booked! We booked Iceland for four nights in mid November.

I don’t normally book package type holidays, but I ended up booking the tours with the flight. I used Wowair,and the process was so easy, and we got a really good price. Hotel was through trusty old Booking.com.

Reykjavik is not cheap which we found out whilst there! Unfortunately I don’t have many photos for this blog post, as they are all stored elsewhere.

Anyway, whilst we was there – we completed three tours, visited the Blue Lagoon and explored Reykjavik on foot.

Two of our tours were unsuccessful! One was the Northern Lights chasing one – there was the tiniest glimmer, but not enough for me to say confidently I had seen them! It was still an experience, being driven miles and miles to where there is no light pollution, and standing in the middle of a road, on a hill looking up at the sky in Iceland!

The other tour was a whale watching one – two hours on a boat in very bad weather! As we got on the boat, the captain was offering everyone another date to come back (we couldn’t as only a short stay), or a sea sickness tablet! We didn’t take the tablet, as neither of us suffer from motion sickness. It was a very rough two hours with not a whale in sight!

The tour that was amazing was The Golden Circle tour, its a long day, over six hours – but you get driven around in a coach to see a lot of natural beauty sites. Such as Strokkur geyser, Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National Park, (where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimetres per year.), so you see actual craters in the ground!, you also visit a greenhouse where they grow tomatoes. Everyone else had hot tomato soup, my fiancé and I had a bloody mary! During this tour, there is a stop for lunch, but it is not included in the price, same as the tomato drinks.

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As I mentioned, the Blue Lagoon was amazing – its a must do if you visit Iceland. Such a surreal experience, in a pool which is lovely and warm, but its freezing out and you can mountains and snow! There is Silica Mud all round the outside, so you can even give yourself a facial! In all honesty, I wish we had stayed here longer but we had to rush back for the Northern Lights tour!

So the only disappointing thing about the trip, was the lack of Northern Lights – which is all weather based, and never guaranteed wherever you go! And as you now know, I saw them a few years later in Norway.

Iceland was one of those places I didn’t think I would ever go to, and definitely wasn’t on my list! I was really surprised but how pretty and scenic it all was. Even some of the houses were so cute! I would recommend Iceland, and suggest you put on your travel plans for the future!

Uncategorized

Chelsea Flower Show, London

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This past Bank Holiday weekend was super busy for me, and I managed to tick off an item on my mini bucket list! I went to the Chelsea Flower Show! I have wanted to go for years, and never been. So months ago when I got an email saying tickets had been released I had to buy two!

I’m not even a massive fan of gardening or anything, but I love receiving flowers and loved the idea of the little show gardens.

The above picture was the Zoe Ball listening garden, there was speakers in those planters so it would make interesting ripples across the water.

My favourite garden was ‘Beneath a Mexican sky’

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Breast Cancer now garden: through the microscope

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Bermuda Triangle

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Welcome to Yorkshire garden

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There was also a huge tented part called The Great Pavilion, I thought this was all stalls but it was more unique and interesting displays!

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There was also plenty to buy for all your gardening needs, there was other places too, like tea and knick knacks for your home. Plus lots and lots of various food and drink stalls.

I did like the day out, and I’m glad I finally went (and luckily had good weather!), but the tickets was very pricey so I wouldn’t go again!