Kick Arse Women Bloggers to Check out on International Womens Day

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Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them

In honour of it being International Women’s Day, I thought the best way to celebrate is too big up some badass women bloggers and spread the love. I’m very fortunate that I have been raised in a family of amazingly strong women, work with fabulously driven women and am surrounded by the very best female friends that know what they want and how to get it. I’m always trying to make sure I help fight the good fight for women to have a voice and feel strong enough to use it. Women are just incredible and the changes that are being made now and the empowering movement that is growing in momentum is only going to leave behind an even better life for the future generations. Just like those generations before us did for us. Just think one day soon women won’t even have to fight for equality and the more we do now the quicker that day will come.

All of these women bloggers below (and so many more) have inspired me, helped shape my blog, pushed me to better my photography and writing, set the standard high, made me snort with laughter and well up with teary eyes with their posts, made me feel not so alone in the world (both the blogging world and the real life). Shown me different corners of the world to explore and where not to go. They have liked and shared my blogs, proofread my posts, let me interview them. Two have even helped raise and love me since I was a little bubba and one wonder woman even birthed me.

The bloggers I’ve listed below are from all corners of the globe, all ages, all different lives and all niches as I believe we find our best selves if we push outside of the comfort level, broaden our minds and hear situations around from a different perspective, read blogs we wouldn’t normally, go places we wouldn’t normally go and even try on that style of dress that you don’t think suits your shape.  If you only involve yourself in what you’re interested in normally reading or blogging about then you are missing out on some great stories, empowering posts and inspiration from others.

Women are  amazing and we are even better when we have other females behind us cheering us on so here I am standing on a golden beach cheering on these fabulous ladies and their  sites…. Go check them out and give them some Women Love

The wandering darlings

Debs World

Musings from the cold

Bright Lights of America

Gin & Lemonade

GlobAl Housesitter X2

Suzie Speaks

Fatty McCupcakes

A Walk and a Lark

A Brummie home and abroad

Digital Travel Guru

A mindful traveler

Sarah plus Laura

Seeking the Spanish Sun

Nomad by Trade

Just another blog from a woman

If you like these blogs (or any other amazing blogs that I’ve missed) then you should leave them a comment, share with your girl tribe, promote on scoial media and also consider giving them some blogger recognitioon love and nominate them in the Bloggers Bash Annual Awards. Details and nomination form here is here

Pin and share these amazing women bloggers for later or for others to discover

Does your passport really need 6 months validity?

Yes, yes you do! Especially if travelling to Fiji

Does your passport really need 6 months validity?I’ve been fortunate enough to not really have too many travel horror stories. Sure, I’ve ran for a train (never a plane Dad taught us early how you should always be 6 hours early for a flight!) , lost a boarding pass, misplaced a passport, cut it fine for boarding even with the 6 hour wait time, had a few dodgy character try to take us the wrong way in Marrakech but really nothing too bad or anything too serious that has thrown my travel plans into jeopardy.

Well, that was until recently and spoiler alert it all turned out ok and probably isn’t as dramatic as you might expect but when I was googling for advice nothing came up so I wanted to share my story in case it helps anyone else.

Postcard perfect Fiji- South Sea Island

As regular readers will be aware we’ve recently been to Fiji. Oh, beautiful Fiji -The holiday blues are still sooo raw. Fun fact about Fiji-  you don’t need a visa (for Australian or British Passports) but you definitely need 6 months validity on your passport from the date of departure from your home/departing country.

This is where the problem lay.

If you are like was stressed, cranky and googling everything combination of- passport, Fiji, validity and looking for quick information scroll to the bottom and the answer lies there!

Months ago when we booked our flights my other half said his passport will have less than 6 months validity and asked will it be ok? I (stupidly) was like yeah, of course, they just say 6 months to be careful. Point to note here I hadn’t even checked as genuinely believed that as long as your passport is valid you can enter any country. Of all the places and all the trips, I’d been on I’d never had any issues with this or really never checked about passport validity only about visas. It’s Travel 101 and my error number 1.

We were moving house during this time and were stressed and minds elsewhere so it wasn’t till the night before we were to fly that I checked again and noticed that my other half’s passport expired exactly 6 months to the day that we left London. I text my parents, my sisters, I put a message up in a Travel Facebook group, I googled to page 20 and no one could help or had a definite answer if we were going to be able to fly. Some websites said 3 months, some said 6 months but from the date of when you leave Fiji, and then other says 6 months from when you enter Fiji. No one knew and even when I checked the Fiji website it didn’t specify if it was exiting or entering. I was so confused. It probably also didn’t help that night I hadn’t slept for almost 24 hours so I was pretty highly strung.

I spent the whole 2-hour bus trip to Heathrow on edge. Do we fly all that way and then they say no, do they say no at Heathrow, what’s plan a/plan b/plan c.

Queuing at Heathrow check-in and looking at the desk clerks praying we weren’t going to get the grumpy one that looked a bit of a computer says no jobsworth. Thankfully we got a friendly one. Handed over the passports holding my breath. Then I saw the fingers come out. I could see her counting. 1,2,3,4,5,6. And then the words I didn’t want to hear.

‘We aren’t sure if you can fly today as the entry requirements for Fiji is 6 months passport validity’.

Noooooo. She said to not worry but she had to go check with a supervisor. Longest 3 minutes EVER! She then came back saying as today was the 1st of October and the passport expired on the 1st April we were very lucky with dates as it was 6 months to the day and we can fly.

As much as I was pleased I still was worried he’d get turned away in Fiji. Not the feeling you want to have before you get on a 30 flight. I text my family to relay the good news as they were also on tender hooks about if we’d both be joking for the wedding or just me. My sister then gave us information that I swear should be more accessible as I didn’t find any of it in my googling session. If an airline allows you to board but you are aren’t allowed to enter a country it’s their responsibility to pay for your return flight and they will be fined in excess of £/$10k so they will always be careful when allowing you to board.

So you’d think we’d be on cloud 9 and no worries but I still wouldn’t relax until we were actually there and on the beach.

We flew Heathrow to Dubai then to Melbourne and due to board a connecting flight to Nadi. We’d had no issues up to Melbourne until we got called to the check-in desk over the tannoy. Initially, it was just to get new boarding passes but then they wanted to check Passports. My heart sank. We’d made it so far!! Again the fingers came out. 1,2,3,4,5,6 and then the ‘I need to check with my supervisor and Fiji immigration’. Cue more freaking out and me trying to explain London said it would be ok like that would do anything but thankfully she came back and said it was ok.

My nerves couldn’t take it anymore. I needed a very large glass of wine!

Stepping off the plane in Fiji and I had everything crossed, praying, hoping it would be fine and you know what, no one even batted an eyelid when we went through immigration. Nothing AT ALL!! Just a Bula and have a nice day. There was probably notes on the system but still NOTHING!!

I almost felt cheated and then I remembered we were here and to hurry up and get out of the airport just in case they changed their mind.

Every day is a school day so..

Lessons learned

  • Always check not just visa but passport validity when going somewhere new. I’ve since learned there are all sorts of these validity rules for lots of countries!
  • Make sure partners passport is up to date.
  • Yes, you need 6 months validity on your passport(defo Australian or British) if trying to enter Fiji. Based on the day of your date of departure eg when you start your journey
  • No, you don’t need a visa to enter Fiji (if you have a British or an Australian passport) Please check if you have another passport.
  • If an airline allows you to board they are generally 100% sure it’s going to be ok as if not they need to pay for your return flight and will be charged in excess if £/$10k
  • If British you can get an emergency passport both at home or abroad but you still need a few days before flying to get it sorted and you’ll need to do it as a high commission

Have you had any passport dramas?? Drop them in the comments would love to hear and to also to reassure myself that others can be just as clueless and that I just didn’t miss the travel memo on this.

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Globetrotters – A Walk and a Lark

So we’ve taken a few weeks off with our Globetrotter series (sorry about that!) but we are back tonight and we have a gem of a blogger to share with you. This week it’s the lovely Josy from a Walk and a Lark.

I’ve long been a follower of Josy’s and always read her blogs wondering how her feet keep up with her with all her walking and hiking. I think mine would tell me to sit down and have a cuppa. We share that we are both expats with Josy previously liking Japan and now living in Canada and it’s great to read and relate to someone to who understands the trials and tribulations of living abroad. We also share a huge love of jumping photos and I am so glad she has sent one over to be included in this post.

This year she moved to Canada and as this has been long on bucket list I’ve been pouring through her posts to fuel even more wanderlust to get myself over there. This section on her blog has all the posts you need to know where to go, what to do and where to hike.

I really do love reading other travelers answers in this series and I think Josy’s answer to ‘Why do you think traveling is important’ is one of my all-time favourites. As traveling isn’t always important and that you can have a rewarding life even if you don’t travel. We often need to remember it’s a privilege to be able to do it and that not everyone has the means, funds or interest in traveling and that’s ok. We are all different and what’s important for one person is always going to be different to another and there are other ways to be enriched by the world. Such a refreshing reminder.

And on that note let me hand you over to Josy

Hello! I’m Josy.
I am not sure why I have always had wanderlust, but as soon as I first got a job back when I was 15, I started to save money for air tickets! I have lived in the UK, Japan and now Canada, so most of my trips have been close to those countries. My other love is walking and the outdoors so almost all of my travels include some long walks and thousands of photo opportunities.

What do you enjoy most about traveling?
This is a toss-up between food and pretty scenery! I LOVE to see the varied countryside around the world. When I lived in Japan, I picked up the habit of traveling with plans to eat a specific dish from whatever area I was traveling to. For example, Japanese people would all want to try kakinohazushi (really yummy sushi wrapped in persimmon leaves) when they visit Nara or eat Fugu (puffer fish) when they visit Ise. I love the culture of traveling to eat!

Why do you think traveling is important?
Hmmm…I don’t think it is important per se, but I do feel like I have been incredibly lucky and privileged to have been able to travel a bit. I mean, life can still be rewarding if you cannot travel, it is just the icing on the top to enrich a person’s life. I really think seeing the world and meeting people from different cultures opens my mind.

I am already a pretty cheerful person, but I also find planning my next trip helps make me really happy! It’s something to look forward to, and then something to experience and remember forever!

Where are you off to next? Or where have you just come back from?
At the moment all of my travel plans revolve around friend’s weddings. We just got back from a trip to Ireland (both North and South as the wedding crossed the border!) and my next big trip is for another good friend’s wedding in New Zealand. I am sooo excited to explore the land of the Lord of the Rings!

Having said that, as my husband and I are living abroad at the moment, every weekend feels like an exotic trip! I am having so much fun exploring the mountains near my new home!

What is your favourite photograph from your travels?


This is basically impossible for me to choose! I really like jumping photos and amazing mountains, so I guess I should pick this photo from Italy. A few minutes before the photo the whole world was white and the mountains were shrouded in mist. It is hard to describe how ridiculously happy I was when the clouds parted and this vista appeared. The sound effect that goes with this image is “squeee”

Who do you usually travel with?
Nowadays I travel with my husband, Marc. He loves to explore the world, but he is rubbish at making plans… so I normally make all the decisions, and just bring him along for the fun! He’s the one who takes my jumping photos.

If you were to give one piece of travel advice what would it be?
Taste as many local dishes as you can. It may not look like something you expect to be delicious, but you’ll never know unless you try it!

Also, if you live somewhere for a while, go back and re-try things after you have started to get used to the flavours. I wasn’t keen on maccha and azuki beans when I first arrived in Japan, but now I LOVE them both.

I also think you should attempt to learn some of the local lingo. Even if you are still pretty rubbish, people really appreciate the effort and the world is less bewildering if you can understand more about what is happening around you.

Tell us the most memorable moment you’ve had whilst traveling?
I have so many! This will probably change each time I think of an anecdote!

A few years ago my husband and I were hiking in the Atlas mountains in Morocco. There was a moment when we came over the top of a ridge to look down on the valley below and it was just magical. The colours of the mountains changed from browns to reds and yellows, in large colourful stripes. People had built their houses from the rocks in their area, so the colours of the houses changed in sync with the surrounding mountainside. I had never seen scenery like that before, and it blew me away.

The people that lived in those colourful houses were soo friendly! We walked through a village just as a group of ladies were getting ready for a wedding ceremony. They giggled when they saw me, and brought me inside to join in the celebrations by covering me in henna! My husband and our guide were not allowed in (girls only!) but they could hear our giggles before I returned with some very orange arms!

Another brilliant memory is from Mongolia. We went to stay with a family in their traditional Ger camp. They are nomadic people, following their herds as they cross the steppes. The problem is, they were a little too nomadic for our guide! We had to drive around for a few hours looking for them as they were not in the place we expected!!

Once we’d settled in, the local children came over to play with us, and my brother, George, spun one of them around. The child loved it so much that he then had to spin every single child in the camp! It was hilarious watching them collapse into dizziness and giggles. Their parents welcomed us with their “beer” and “vodka” made from fermented horses milk. It was pretty gross, but still fun to try.

Where is your favourite place that you’ve been to?
This has to be Japan! I love the gorgeous mountains, the ancient culture with all the temples and shrines, the fooooood, the festivals and the people. I studied Japanese at university, so have lived there both as a student as well as working for a Prefectural government. I have so, so many amazing memories from my years there. I could easily write this entire post just about my experiences in Japan. I also have many good friends there that I hope I’ll stay in touch with for the rest of my life.

Where was one place that didn’t live up to the hype?
Marrakesh. I thought the city was beautiful and loved the food, but I hated the way people treated tourists there. It just seemed like everyone was pushy or attempting to rip us off. I had a horrible experience with touts and it made me want to hide in our Riad and keep away from the streets. In the end, the stresses didn’t stop me exploring, but I never felt safe while we were there.

Tell us one place/experience on your bucket list?
I would love to go walking in the mountains of South Korea and eat some of their gorgeous food. I studied Korean several years ago, and although I have forgotten most of it, I can still read Hangul. I’d LOVE to explore and see if I can actually understand anything there!!

What is the one thing you wouldn’t travel without?
Walking boots (or at least comfy shoes that I can explore in!) My favourite part of visiting a new area is finding a map and planning a walk!

What can readers find on your blog?
I started my blog to document some of our pretty walks around the UK or on our travels. Since then I moved to Canada, so I’ve been documenting the amaaaazing scenery around Vancouver in British Columbia. I take far too many photos and find it difficult to cut down, so my blog is full of the vistas that have taken my breath away.

Where does your blog name come from?
My long-distance walking started with the Capital Ring through London. This is a 126km trail which goes through parks and pretty areas of London. I started planning the blog as we walked through the parks on this route. Originally I thought about calling the blog “a walk in the park”, but then when my husband suggested “a walk and a lark,” I liked the sound of that better.

Do you have a favourite blog post? What is it and why?
This changes all the time! At the moment I love my post about the Honen matsuri (penis festival) just because it’s fun to share a funny side of Japan that less people know about! I also adored writing about our fantastique walking holiday in Italy. I tried to fit it all into one post, but had so many photos to share that it expanded into a whole mini-series of posts!

To find more from Josy check her out here

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Have you seen the London from the Thames? Well you really should

So many great cities are always said to be seen best from the water. I’ve seen Venice, New York, Paris, Sydney all from the water so I have no idea why it took me so long to see the majestic London from the long and winding River Thames.

This week I righted my wrong.

The opportunity came along with some of my work colleagues as a change from the standard after work drinks. So instead of heading to a pub, we hot-footed it down to Westminster Bridge to go on the City Cruises Sundowner boat.

Now I didn’t really know what to expect. Obviously, a boat, that it would be touristy AF but also hopefully some insta worthy shots and a nice way to see the city. I certainly wasn’t expecting fizz on arrival, one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen or that we would be up dancing to the onboard performer on the boat. Just wait for more on that later.

We were booked with City Cruises and they do cruises throughout the day. The one we went on, however, was the Sundowner Cruise. Tickets cost £32 per person (adults and children are the same prices). You can generally get a deal on Groupon so do check there first. The cruise departs from Westminster Pier which is easily accessible from Westminster tube station. You depart at 6.15/6.30ish and are then on the water for 2 hours so getting back to Westminster in time for dinner and drinks. There is fizz/soft drink on arrival and canapes severed throughout. There is also a bar if you want to have further drinks throughout the cruise. If that wasn’t enough they also provide an entertainer who performs throughout the journey. Mainly pop songs but also covers all eras to cater for the mix of ages. The lady we had was brilliant and she had our group and some others up dancing around during the cruise. The processco may have also helped with the dancing. I swear some of the other guests probably thought they had boarded with a group of crazy ladies but most of them got involved with our shenanigans. We did get to make friends with one of the guests they were over from the US and celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary. I’m sure when they booked their cruise they were expecting to be dancing around with us to Bruno Mars’s Up Town Funk.

The rain from earlier the day decided to disappear just as we boarded however it did mean that it was wet up top so for dry seating we did need to sit downstairs. The inside of the boat has lots of tables and its group seating. Had we not been such a large group we could have been sat and been able to chat with other guests. What we could do however was stand up top and take some photos (and drink some fizz) and watch the sunset then head back down below deck for some nibbles and a dance.

From the boat, we got to see so much of London and it truly is such a remarkable city. At the start of the cruise the London Eye was contrasted against the grey sky and by the end, it was a luminous red orb. Tower bridge looked postcard perfect before and after the sunset. You could see the Oxo Building, The Shard, St Pauls, Big Ben, red buses going over the bridges along the river, Londoners out on their evening runs, Canary Wharf and the super expensive homes along the banks of the river. I don’t think I’ve ever seen London look as beautiful as I did that evening.

The sunset decided to set just as we went under Tower Bridge making it the perfect silhouette against the sky. So quintessentially London. Seriously what is more London than watching the sunset behind the landmarks of the city, while on the Thames with wet puddles from the day’s rain around you and a Pimms in hand? If you are visiting London or even if you live in London I would 100% recommend doing a cruise like this and if your not sold yet then have a look at some of my snaps for further encouragement.

For more information on the crusie we did then check out this link below
http://www.citycruises.com/london-thames-experiences/evening-cruise

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17 Reasons to Visit Copenhagen

I first visited Copenhagen when I was 16 which was a loooong time ago and mainly my memories are of the vibrant Nyhavn, the Little Mermaid and feeling pretty ill after going on a few of the rides at the magical Tivoli Gardens. So when the opportunity arose ( I took my other half with some of our friends to go see Guns and Roses for a birthday treat. Yes obvs the best fiance!) to return to this city I jumped up the chance to rekindle my past memories and discover new places.

Copenhagen is the capital of Denmark and a must visit Nordic city. It can be a bit pricey but really aren’t most capital cities. It’s a beautiful old city that has a wonderful mix of old world buildings with new modern Danish architecture. Copenhagen is often considered in the top 10 for the happiest city and with their green living ambitions, quirky cafes and bars, colourful houses and beautiful surroundings it’s a must a visit destination. If you’ve not heard of the Danish concept of hygge then you would also understand why they are a happy city. The word Hugge has no English translation and is a word used to describe the feeling of being cosy and special and most important just being in the moment. This is how you should experience Copenhagen – take in the moments, put down your phone and marvel at the buildings, try to avoid getting knocked down by a bike and enjoy getting to experience this amazing city.

And if the above hasn’t sold you to get on the next plane to Copenhagen then here is my top 17 reason to visit Copenhagen.

It’s a green city
Bikes everywhere, green gardens, clean and clear harbour water, wind farms it is clear that Copenhagen is a green city. They are actually working to become carbon neutral by 2025. You can tell how serious they are with all the roads built to accommodate bikes and encourage its residents to get on two wheels instead of 4. I think it’s a fantastic goal for a capital city to strive for.

Canals and havns

As Copenhagen was originally a Viking fishing village there is lots of water around and there are canals throughout the city. It’s no Venice but it means that you should not only see the city on land but you should also get onto a boat tour to see it from the water. There is, of course, the picture perfect Nyhavn but there is also lots of pretty water areas in Christianshavn and even along Kobenhavns havn you can find Islands Brygge Harbour Bath. These baths are man-made swimming areas in the shape of a boat on the harbour allowing locals and tourists to cool down in the hotter months. They say that the water throughout the canals and harbours in Copenhagen is so clean you can drink it.

Coloured houses



Nyhavn is the picture perfect harbour in the middle of the city and instantly recognisable as Copenhagen. The vibrant colours stand out and it just wouldn’t look the same if they were normal buildings. Now the coloured houses of Copenhagen aren’t just limited to this area. They are across the city. Rich oranges, bright blues, ravishing reds, stark whites and dusty pinks can be found on most streets. Those on Instagram- it’s like you’re in Instagram heaven.

Fairytales
The best fairytales were written by Danish author Hans Christian Anderson and as he lived in Copenhagen there are signs of him all over the city. You can find three of his residences in Nyhavn, several statues of him (one opposite Tivoli and one in the Kongens Have) to one of the most famous statues in the world which is also one of his characters. There is a Hans Christan Anderson Fairytale house that again helps bring some of his lesser known fables to life.

Marble Church



Fredericks Church or more commonly known as the Marble Church is captivating building. It is free to enter and I would suggest going in as it is just as beautiful inside as it is on the outside. You do need to be quiet when entering as it is a place of worship. When we went in another traveller hit his toe on one of the benches which created such a racket. Knowing we needed to be quiet after hearing this huge noise we then erupted into a fit of giggles. Mature as always. I love visiting cathedral and churches when in foreign cities and could have sat there in silence (after the giggles subsided) for hours.

Flat flat flat
Pretty much all of Denmark is flat which is partly why they love their bikes so much. I’d ride my bike if I didn’t have hills to ride actually who am I kidding.. push up the hills. However, when visiting this city it’s also great as it makes it really easy to walk around.

Europes longest pedestrian street



The Stroget in a pedestrian street through the centre of Copenhagen. At 1.1km long it is said to be one of the longest in Europe. It had a mix of high-end and chain stores. You’ll find lively buskers, street performers and bars and restaurants. It’s a great place to stroll along and part take in some retail therapy.
Theme park in the middle of the city



I loved Tivoli! I mean a theme park in the middle of the city! Not many places can say they have that. Tivoli is said to have inspired Walt Disney to build Disney Land due to its magical feel. The gardens are beautifully manicured, the rides have a good mix of the scardy cat people (like myself) to the more adventurous thrill seekers. There is ponds, gardens, an aquarium, carnival style games and an air of magic that makes for a very fun day. There is also a statue of Hans Christian Anderson looking across the road like he’s taking inspiration for his fables.

Palaces



We learnt while we were in Copenhagen that Denmark has the longest reigning royal family. Also fun fact the current heir to the throne Crown Prince Frederick is married to an Aussie -Princess Mary. They met in Sydney many yeas ago and I remember it all in the news as it was like a modern day fairytale that an Aussie girl could become a princess. I’m still waiting for Price Harry to notice me. There are several palaces in Copenhagen that you should visit these include Rosenborg Slot, Amalienborg, Christianborg place. All show a different stage and part of Denmark royal heritage. You should also try and witness the changing of the guards at Amalienborg.The guards walk through the centre of Copenhagen leaving Rosenborg Slot at 11.30 and reading Amalienborg at 12 pm. We were lucky to catch them on their walk through and fun fact they even have to stop at the red lights.

Bikes



You will never see so many bikes in one place. The only place that I think might challenge Copenhagen to bike/person ratio would be Amsterdam. You need to be careful crossing the roads as although they are on only two wheels the bikes could defo knock you over. On all roads, there is always a separate lane for bike and you will often find them lined up against any surface. There are lots of bike hire places so that you can get involved in the cycling we, however, were a little scared.

Hotdogs
I’m not much a hot dog eater but get me to Copenhagen and I basically have to have one every day. There are lots of food trucks around the city so you can get one on the go. My only piece of advice would be they nee to make the buns a big bigger so the end doesn’t stick out. Maybe it’s a just the Danish architecture way.

The Little Mermaid



Yes she is tiny, yes it’s a bit of a walk out to see her, yes there is always lots of people there when you are trying to see her and yes she is often voted as the most underwhelming tourist attraction but in my eyes, it is still a must see. While you are out seeing her you should also walk around the Kastellet which is a star-shaped fortress.

Parks & Gardens

 

As mentioned above Copenhagen is a very ‘green’ city both in its ideals but also in colour. There is so much green space within the city. Park and Gardens or Have’s as they are called in Danish are scattered throughout the city. We were fortunate to stay just of Kongens Have which is a beautifully manicured park that also houses Rosenborg Slot. We also spent some time Faelledparken which is more of an athletic park with games of football, frisbee, boot camps all going on around us. After a long day of being tourists, there was nothing better than having a beer sat in the sun enjoying the park.

Street food market



This is a must if you like food or are looking for a cheaper lively night out. From The Copenhagen Street Food Marker is located on  Papiroen (Paper Island) and accessible over a pedestrian and cycle bridge at the top of Nyhavn. There is so much option for food and drink and has an outdoor seating area so you can take in the harbour views. We absolutely loved it. I posted more about this place here

Freetown Christiania
I have read a lot about Freetown Christiania but we didn’t go and explore this interesting place however it is somewhere that I would like to go on our next visit. It is a small Freetown within Copehenhaegn that started back in the 70’s when squatters took over an old military base. It is a community of creative people who wish to live their life differently to rest of Copenhagen. You can’t take photos in there due to the selling of illegal substances.

Architecture



Danish architecture will always get a big thumbs up from me considering the Sydney Opera House was designed by a Dane. You can see examples of the Danish architecture style all over the city. The Black Diamond, the Royal Danish Opera House, The Royal Danish PlayHouse, M/S Maritime Museum of Denmark and the colourful Superkilen park. There is also a Danish Architecture Museum to discover even more gems within the country.

Sweden
Bit weird to mention another country when trying to big one up however I couldn’t miss it off the list. Malmo in Sweden is super close to Copenhagen only 40 min away by train or car across the spectacular Oresund bridge. Sadly we didn’t get a chance to do this trip on our recent visit but will certainly do it on the next time we are there.

Have you been to Copenhagen? What was your favourite thing to do in the city? or have we missed anything off this list? Do let us know in the comments.

Why you need to visit Papirøen when in Copenhagen 

Copenhagen is expensive there is no denying that. But foods food and girls gotta eat. Almost every blog I read prior to coming to Copenhagen mentioned Papirøen so naturally, this was something firmly on the ‘to visit’ list. There had to be something behind the hype.

Papirøen (Paper Island) is a small island in the harbour and once was where the Procurement Association of the Danish Process used to keep their paper storage. So the name Paper Island is rather fitting! With these big halls empty over the years the concept of the Copenhagen Street Food came into fruition in 2014. And what an awesome idea it was. In the last few years, a bridge has been built linking Paper Island to both Christianshavn and Central Copenhagen.

It’s a beautiful spot in the harbour opposite The Royal Playhouse and Nyhavn and next to the Opera House. It’s in very good creative company. Within the old halls and smaller buildings, there is a creative space which has a current exhibition from Yoko Ono, offices, cafes and The Copenhagen Street Food. Whilst the Street Food opened in 2014 and they had to wait till 2016 for the bridge linking it to central Copenhagen to be completed. The bridge like most of Copenhagen has a cycle lane so make sure you are walking in the right place so you don’t get mowed down by the cyclists!

Part of Yoko Ono art piece

The main pull for Paper Island is the street food and trust me it’s well worth a visit. The place is huge! There is a substantial selection of food covering all cuisines from the four corners of the globe. You can get main meals, selections of sides, the naughtiest of sweet treats, great beers, cocktails and juices.

There is a nice outdoor section which would be bliss on a beautiful sunny day overlooking the harbour. The beaches and tables outside are all communal and there are shipping containers which double as eating areas and seating platforms. Some of the seating areas are also positioned around huge fire pits which on the day we visited were much needed! Even being a chilly day with the sky threatening to rain the outside areas were packed with tourists and locals alike. It is the place to be.


As soon as you walk into the big factory shed it’s like walking into a travel food heaven. There is more communal benches inside and even some ‘restaurant’ style set ups with tables that you actually book in advance. We opted for the communal benches and some poor chaps had us staring (sorry salivating) at their food while we were trying to decide if we go Chinese, Thai or Mexican. Playing on the industrial feel there were rooftop style areas built upon shipping containers, benches and tables made out of old oil drums and milk cartons, some handy work was made with pallets and they were fashioned into tables and benches. Danish Architecture at its finest.

All of the food stalls had such brilliant designs. My favourite was this pancake stall. The roof was made of old egg cartons! All of the designs worked well together to create fabulous space.


Some of what we eat and drank included below and spoiler alert it was all DELICIOUS


Chicken Penang
Chicken pad Thai
Pizza slices
Nachos
Burrito
Raspberry mojito, passion fruit mojito and strawberry mojito- maybe we had a few too many mojitos
Whisky sour
Apple cider and beers
Decadent chocolate mousse

And the things at the topped it for the boys was .. a delicious creme brûlée doughnut. They are still talking about how amazing it was!

The easiest way to reach is across the Inderhavnsbro bridge at the end of Nyhavn or if you are in Christianshavn then it’s only a short walk from the canals.

If you’re not hungry (and trust me you will be once you get there and the smells hit you) it’s still worth a visit to see what it’s all about and take in the views around the harbour. We didn’t find it overly pricey but it’s still Copenhagen so expect to pay more than you would in the UK.

More details including opening times and the specific food stalls can be found here


Are you ready to be in awe of the Natural Geothermal World in Te Puia, New Zealand?

If you visit New Zealand it’s almost criminal if you don’t experience the Geothermal wonders this beautiful country has to offer and the home of geothermal activity is Rotorua.  Bubbling mud pools, a thick smell of sulphur in the air, Geysers shooting up in the sky and some of the most out of this world landscapes you could ever imagine.

While we were in Rotorua we visited two Geothermal ‘theme’ parks Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland and Te Puia. I’ve previously posted about Waiotapu and you can find it here.  I’m glad we made it to both of them as they had such different offerings.

Te Puia was slightly different to Waiotapu as it had not only a greater number of geysers but more active geysers. It was also hugely informative about New Zealand’s Maori culture, architecture and even had some Kiwi Birds so you had the chance to get up close to the native wildlife.

What you need to see while you are there..

Pōhutu Geyser

This was the first geyser we saw on our trip and it was truly spectacular. The natural world really is so intriguing sometimes.  It is also the largest active geyser in the Southern Hemisphere and can erupt up to at least 2 times every hour.  You would have to be really unlucky to go and see it and not see it erupt.  Fun fact its name means ‘constant splashing’ which is exactly what it does.  Whether you are up close or standing on a platform on the other side of the park the plume of water and steam really does make you stop and watch.

Te Tohu geyser

Te Tohu is located next to Pohutu and erupts just before Pohutu does.  Another name for this geyser is Prince of Wales Feather as its plume was said to resemble the Prince’s coat of arms. Seeing the two geysers going off is a glorious sight. They are said to only erupt for a few minutes at a time but due to the frequency of their eruptions, it feels like they have a continuous plume of water and steam.

Dormant Geysers

There is at least two dormant geyser at the park. Papakura and Te Horu. They both used to erupt frequently however they have been considered dormant now since the 70’s. There are signposted showing where you can see them and maybe they will spring back to life in the future. Te Horu has been said to be bubbling at the moment but eruptions so far.

Ngāraratuatara

This is a cooking pool which they still use to this day. In the past, these types of pools would be used for not only cooking but also washing and bathing. I’m guessing it is like an ancient hot tub but I’m pretty sure the water would be a whole lot hotter than a modern day hot tub. Just imagine the wrinkles if you stayed in too long! At Te Puia, you can sample this unique cooking experience along with another traditional Maori cooking style called a hangi. The Hangi is a large pit in the earth with the hot rocks placed at the bottom. The geothermal heat in both of these methods cooks the meat and infuses the food with a unique flavour and how often can you say you’ve eaten food cooked by geothermal heat.

See a Kiwi up close

Disappointingly we didn’t get to see a kiwi in the flesh as they were all either sleeping or hiding when we were visiting. However, we did buy a soft toy Kiwi if that counts.  They have a big enclosure with natural trees and plants for the Kiwis to feel at home. The kiwi egg is also HUGE! So was really interesting to see one of these on display.  It would have been amazing to have seen one but as we didn’t it’s another reason for us to return to NZ one day soon.

Maori Buildings and Carvings 

There are lots of traditional Maori buildings on the site in the Pikirangi Village for you to walk around, go into and explore. Being able to touch the building and see the materials used, and the intricate carving was a real insight into the past. Such pride was taken in decorating these buildings and it’s such a different style of building from what I’ve seen before.

Along with this village of the past, there is also more modern buildings which are used for concerts and gatherings.  We did get to see a performance which was fascinating to watch. At first, I thought they were doing the haka but I think it may have been a slightly different welcome call.  Either way, it was amazing to watch!

There is also lots of carved statues and artwork dotted around the park. Like the house’s they are carved with such amazing detail.

We went into the park on a standard day ticket and spent a day marvelling at this interesting place. There is also a whole host of different experience options that you could opt for both during the day and in the evening. One of these experiences includes a meal cooked within a Hangi and hot pool. It was easy to walk around on your own (without a tour guide) and the points of interest within the park are all signposted with information. It is a big park so expect to do a lot of walking and whilst the paths are all easily accessible it’s sensible to wear decent shoes.

We loved visiting this place and couldn’t recommend it enough if you are visiting New Zealand. The insight into Maori history, the dramatic landscapes and captivating geysers is something we would never have been able to see anywhere else and is so far removed from the green fields of our home in Britain and the dry paddocks of our Australian home.

It really will leave you in awe of the natural world.

To find more information on Te Puia  you can find details here http://www.tepuia.com/

If you wanted to see some of our other posts from New Zealand the click away below

Martha Mine

Glowworm Caves

Waiotapu

Waiheke

Auckland

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Weekend Adventures – Stourhead

I’ve fallen into a Jane Austen novel and I don’t want to come back to the real world.

This picturesque place is Stourhead, located in Wiltshire, England. It is part owned by the National Trust and has firmly risen to the top of my favourite places to visit in South West. The whole estate is like walking through a glorious painting.

With our newly acquired National Trust passes we were looking forward to a day out exploring and obviously taking copious amounts of photos. The Estate is made up of the house, gardens, lake and King Alfred’s Tower so there were lots to explore.

We started with the house. Henry Hoare was given the house in 1721 and it was in his family for over 200 years. The last heir gave the property to the National Trust just before he passed away. There are several rooms on the ground floor that you can look through and they include lots of family heirlooms, stories and artworks. My favourite room in the house was the library. It was so large, light and, full of old books. Which I guess is what you would expect from a library.It also has an awesome carpet!!


Whilst the house was beautiful and very interesting the real winner here is the lake and gardens. I mean look at the place it’s like being transported to a secret haven or enchanted forest.


I always get so surprised how green England is in the summer. In Australia it’s always dry, brown and so very un-green! Here it’s like 50 shades of green across these stunning gardens. I can only imagine how breathtaking it must be in Autumn.

The lake here is man made and the gardens have been crafted to take people on a journey and to resemble Aeneas’s journey into the underworld. It’s constructed like a living piece of art and there are lots of vantage points that carefully capture the buildings and monuments against the landscape.

Reading up on the gardens they are said to follow Alexander Pope’s concept called ‘genius of the place’ which means the spirit of the place needs to consulted when designing the garden. Its principles are used in garden and landscape design to this day. Whatever it is it works with these gardens so well. You feel like the garden has a spirit of its own!

The buildings and monuments around the lake are gorgeous both against the landscape and up close. You can find the Pantheon, Temple of Apollo, Bristol High Cross, the bridge and the 200-year-old grotto. As soon as you get to one of these you see something on the other side of the lake so want to go back over to explore again.


One thing that you won’t get from my words or photographs is the smells. I wonder when the scientist will finally work out smellogram. There is so many flowers, huge touch the cloud style trees (oak, birch, Laurel)and a vast collection of Rhododendrons.  We even saw a ghost or handkerchief tree which had flowers (or leaves!) that looked like white handkerchiefs. My better half also made friends with some confident ducks and ducklings.

               King Alfred’s tower is just down the road from Stourhead (still on the same estate) and it’s a commanding structure. On the weekends/bank holidays, you can climb to the top. I thought I was fit but those stairs were a killer!! Getting to the top was a huge reward as you could see for MILES! We could see Glastonbury Tor and all over the Wiltshire/Somerset fields. It was one of those moments when you realise just how big the world around you is.

I can’t recommend Stourhead enough and I really can’t wait to return later in the year to see it in the autumn. It’s a truly lovely place and my only regret would be that we didn’t take a picnic (so make sure you do!)  to sit and have lunch in style. Obviously, I would have also liked a Mr Darcy style man to come out of the water,  wet white shirt and looking all brooding but that might have been asking a bit much.

Stourhead is located in Wiltshire. For a day pass it is £17.60 for an adult and £44 for a family. Both of these prices include gift aid. There is also a charge at the car park however if you are members it is free. The house is open from 9-6 and King Alfred’s tower has limited opening houses (and a small charge). More details can be found here https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stourhead

Like this property then you should also check out these places in and around the South West.

Montacute House

North Devon

Jurassic Coast

Somerset

Newark Park
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Why you should explore North Devon

My sister and brother in law were visiting the UK for a family wedding and whilst there were over they came down south to spend a few days with us.  As they have seen quite a lot of Somerset (where we live) we decided to take them even further south and headed to North Devon for a sisters and hubbies long weekend break.

Devon is in my top 3 favourite countries in the UK. It’s green rolling hills, wind turbines, breathtaking coastlines, big open spaces and quaint seaside villages all just make it dream destination within the UK.

I’ve always loved when  the journey to a place is just as fun as the destination and the drive to Woody Bay was no different. Our route was almost all on A roads which meant we got to drive through the villages, we could see the coastline changing with every mile we got closer and we also had to go through the Exmoor National Park.  We stopped off in one of the look out places to admire the Exmoor heather and ponies and of course take lots of pictures. Growing up whenever we drove to the coast (which was a casual 6-hour drive!) we always had a competition on whoever saw the ocean first meant they got the first ice cream. And whilst it was a rather chilly day we weren’t going to skimp out on the tradition and stood there in the spitty rain, with coats on eating our ice creams.


We were staying in Woody Bay which is just outside of Lynton and Lynmouth which are two twinned villages. Lynton is at the top of a cliff and joined with Lynmouth by a funicular railway. Basically a vertical train. It’s still got all of the charms of the 19th century when it was built to help connect the two towns. I loved the harbour in Lynmouth with all the boats sitting on the mud whilst the tide was out.   Both villages had lovely little pubs and a lot of chippies because fish and chips are obviously a must by the sea.

We had a theme for railways on this trip as we also went to the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway and travelled on a steam train on a short track through the rolling hills. This has been a restoration project for volunteers within in the area and whilst there is only a short section of the railway operational it amazing to see how it’s been lovingly restored. The stations, the train and the museum all take you back to yesteryear. We really enjoyed this and it felt great experiencing something people have put so many hours into bringing back to life.


There is a lot of great accommodation options and we stayed in the best Airbnb I have ever stayed in. I mean look at the view from the toilet!!

We were off the beat and track and the coast roads to get to our accommodation did cause a few white knuckles at times but the end result was worth it. We were so secluded that it was a little piece of paradise. There is low light pollution in this area so at night the stars were unbelievably bright. I don’t think I have seen the night sky so bright since being at my house  in Australia. Our host was super attentive and their flat was so well designed and styled. They had thought of everything right down to backpacks for hikes and even more importantly  wine on arrival.  The winner though for this place was the view. Especially at sunrise and sunset.

Down the road from the flat was a walk that took you right to the beach. Obviously pebbled we are in England remember. I don’t even know if I can find the adjectives to say how gorgeous it was. From waterfalls to huge boulders and sheer cliffs I could have spent all my days there.  My sister and her husband being the crazy ones that they are even got in the freezing, ‘September in England’ water and had a swim.

Other gems within this area that are worth exploring are Ilfracombe and Woolacombe. There was a  festival going on in Ilfracombe when we were there so it was a buzz with activity, people and bunting. The harbour area was really pretty and certainly worth exploring with lots of boutique shops and boats to look at. There is also rumoured to be the oldest operational lighthouse in the UK here on Lantern Hill. We could have spent even longer here and will be certainly going back to explore. I really want to do a boat trip to Lundy island which you can do from the harbour here.


We got  to Woolacombe late in the afternoon and did my favourite thing- we walked barefoot along the beach and even better this one was sand!. Way too chilly for a swim (even for my sister!) so we wandered up and down the beach watching the sunset.  This beach is one of the most beautiful beaches I have come across over here and can’t wait to get down there this summer. We finished off the perfect walk with wine and beers in a pub overlooking the beach. If it was a bit warmer it would have been just like we were in Australia.


North Devon is full of great places and I’ve only covered a small portion of what it has to offer in this post. I’ve put some links below where you can find more information and things to do whilst visiting.  It was the perfect long weekend break with my family and I can’t wait to go back and explore further.

More Information

Accommodation

https://www.airbnb.co.uk/rooms/3913039

 

Local sites

http://www.visitlyntonandlynmouth.com/

http://www.northdevon.com

http://www.lynton-rail.co.uk/

Weekend Adventures- The Elizabethan Gem, Montacute House

I’m just going to put this out there- I love National Trust properties.  Yes, I am well aware this is probably going to ruin my street cred (ha as if I have street cred)  but I really do love nothing more on a weekend than going and exploring a stately home, manicured garden and some pretty quintessentially English landscapes. In Australia, we don’t have many of these historic buildings. We have a completely different history.  So maybe this is where my fascination with these properties comes from I’m just not used to them.  We read about mansions and castles in books but never got to actually see any or walk around them.

I love the history, the stories, the artwork, the secret gardens if all just makes you feel like stepping back in time (or often for me like I am a royal queen) and seeing how different life was in the past. I think the national trust has done a tremendous job restoring and maintaining these properties. To think they are still standing and still intact after 100s of years is amazing.

We’ve been to see quite a few places over the years and some of which has been blogged about previously (and many still to be blogged about) but over the Easter weekend this year we ventured to the Elizabethan Gem Montacute House.

Located just outside of Yeovil in Somerset this commanding house was built by Sir Edward Phelips in 1598. He was obviously a wealthy and powerful in those days and he was most commonly known for his role in the prosecution in the trial against Guy Fawkes. He was also on very good terms with King James who donated a portrait of himself which is still on display in the house to this very day.


The building is made from the local Ham Stone which gives the building a lovely honey tint. Walking up to the gate you get a lovely view of the house and can see why it’s been used in so many films and Tv programs. The gardens are well manicured and full of colour, especially with the brightly coloured tulips. My personal favourite was the wibbly wobbly hedge that looks like a big green cloud. My other half loved the orangery so much he is now planning to try and build one for us.

After strolling around the gardens we then headed into the house and found signs of the past in all rooms. We even saw a historic version of an ensuite. The most impressive inside the house was the Long Gallery. This is apparently the longest of its kind in the country and houses over 60 portraits. They are spectacular and yes you can feel all theirs eyes watching you. The portraits are on loan from the National Portrait Gallery and well worth seeing. Seeing all the faces, the fashion and different techniques just add more insight into the past. I liked seeing the lesser known portraits just as much as seeing ones of Queen Elizabeth the First and Henry VIII.

When we finished exploring through the house and gardens we then also went to out to explore the village that shares its name with the house. The ham stone is present throughout the village and it couldn’t have been more British if it tried. Two sweet pubs and a very creepy looking museum. It was a lovely little village.


To visit the property is £12.60 per adult from March to October. Outside of these times, you can only visit the garden and there is a discounted rate for those months.  We actually opted to sign up for a year membership to the NT on our visit. I’ve never felt so middle aged in my whole life. But you know what I don’t care I’m just going to keep looking through my book to see where we can have our next weekend adventure.

https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/montacute-house

A few more photos to show you this beautiful place

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