Review- Fear At Avon Valley- Bristol’s Scariest Attraction this October

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Want to get super scared this Halloween? Then get yourself down to Fear at Avon Valley as this is the scare park for you.

I am one of the biggest scaedy cats there ever was.. Or so I thought!

We had the opportunity to visit Fear at Avon Valley last week for their opening night and I can tell you that I’ve not jumped out of my skin so much in a long time. There were frights galore!

Fear at Avon Valley just outside of Bristol is a Scare Park. Scare Park’s have been gaining momentum across the UK and based on the screams and sqeuals we heard all night it seems as scary as they are people love them!

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Celebrating their 5th birthday Fear at Avon Valley have got bigger, better and scarier than before. They have grown over the last 5 years and developed their mazes to further shock, scare and spook the living daylights out of its patrons. They have even travelled over to the U.S to get inspiration and ideas on how they can continue to up the anti and finds new ways to scare people.  With 4 mazes, a live-action shooting range, 2-minute escape room challenge, a very scary clown name Frank overseeing the area, fairground rides, fire show, yummy food trucks, bars with some spooky cocktails and creepy characters wandering around (note chasing you!) it’s a great night out this October.

The 4 mazes (Phobia, Anarchy:Live, X4 and House of Clowns) all feature their own storylines as you make your way through them. Phobia is what it says on the tin. It covers most people’s phobias from claustrophobia to bugs. Anarchy: Live is the oldest maze and is reinvented every year. This year it’s a zombie film set gone wrong. House of Clowns is exactly what you think with some hella creepy clowns hiding in a cute little of ladies house, ready to do the creepiest laughing you ever did hear! X4 is military based and there has been an outbreak and you’ve got to escape.

They are an assault on all your senses with strong smells, strobe and disorientating lighting, twists and turns, people jumping out on you, clever use of darkness and making the silence even creepier than a clown evil laughing in your ears.

They are cleverly planned out and designed even the start of Phobia has you (and your partner) standing in a coffin in the dark for a good 10/15 seconds before someone screams at you and drags you into the maze. This was the first maze we did and it 100% set us up for a night with us on edge.

Out of the four mazes, my favourite was  Anarchy: Live mainly as there were parts of this that I felt so lost in and literally like I wouldn’t find our way out. The fact that you also get chased out by an axe-wielding zombie was a nice touch.

We had a VIP ticket which meant we could jump the queues, had an unlimited entry into all attractions and a special bar area complete with popcorn and sweets. If anything the VIP is most worth it for being able to jump the queues and I would recommend on busier nights. This is worth its weight in gold. I can imagine queuing up hearing people squealing and screaming probably adds to the anticipation but it could also grow quite tiresome. It was £45 which is a jump up from the standard ticket at £17 but if you wanted to go into the mazes more than once and don’t like queuing then I would recommend it.

Would we do it again? Yes of course! It was a really fun night and whilst I’ll probably regret saying it – it was nice to been spooked leading up to Halloween. We were way braver than I thought.

There are only limited dates remaining with the final night of the event falling on Halloween so you want to get your tickets quick. To book and find out more click here.

 

Featured Image courtesy of Fear at Avon Valley. All other images our own.

Disclaimer:

Fear at Avon Valley kindly invited us to enjoy the VIP experience in exchange for an honest review and mentions on social media. We would of course only recommend places/attractions/products that we personally enjoyed. We had the best night and thoroughly recommend you go experience it for yourself. If you do then let us know what you think!

Where in the World Wednesday- Stockhill Woods

Where the wild things are

I’ve only recently discovered this area which considering its only 20 minutes down the road from where I have lived for 11 years is pretty bad form on my part.

Stockhill Woods is located in the Mendip Hills just outside of the village Priddy and city of Wells and is a great place to explore if you want to get out and enjoy the natural landscape. It reminds me of a pine forest we have behind our property in Australia and as soon as we got into the tree line I automatically felt transported home.

The Mendip Hills can be found in Somerset in England and and have been named as an Area of Outstanding Beauty. THis is largely due to the stunning landscapes that you can find with the gorges, limestone outcrops, hilltops, lakes and and the grasslands that make up this beautiful area.

Stockhill Wood fits within this description and even more so when you learn of its past. This is what happens when an industrial wasteland becomes an area of outstanding natural beauty.

All over the Mendip Hills there is remnants of the 200 years of Lead mining that went on in the past. Over the years with every new technology advancement the mining took on a different shaped and in turn has shaped the landscape to what you see today. The rises, gullies and trenches haven’t just happened as nature intended they were set in motion by our forefathers looking to industrialise the nation.

It really is so hard to imagine what it was in the past, when what’s been left is a mystical and picturesque landscape. You feel like fairies should be buzzing around or that Snow White and the seven dwarfs will go marching by. The sun streaming through the canopy, birds singing, and hidden delights on what you will discover with the next step. It’s a very peaceful place and whilst every time I’ve been there has been a car park full of cars I’ve only ever bumped into a handful of people walking the trails.

There are soft trails meandering through the trees or dirt tracks if you want something more solid to walk or cycle on. It does have a sign saying no horses but dogs and bikes are certainly allowed. Just make sure you pick up any dog mess. No one wants to step in that!

There is a large car park and picnic area perfect for a  sarnie and drink after your walk. It is an easy walk but if you go on the soft trails you will need to go steady. Definitely make sure you’ve got wellies or boots on as it can get pretty muddy.

You may have seen on our Instagram that we’ve recently added to our fur family with a sweet and lively little pooch called Ozzy. With this it has meant that we have a whole new type of adventuring and if these are the types of places we can start discovering I can’t ruddy wait to find more!!

You can find other great pleaces to explore in Somerset here

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10 Photos in London

Welcome to our new series, 10 Photos in…

To kick off our first destination we are heading to London. There are probably over a million photos taken of London every week (or even day!) but we have 10 photos from bloggers and Instagrammers who want to share the best places, different views, a new side to popular landmarks and their favourite photos of this wonderful city.

As a lover of photography and travel one of the first things I do when I’m going somewhere new is google images, peruse Pinterest and stalk every possible hashtag or location tag I can on Instagram. I want to know where to go and what looks great.

With this series hopefully, you’ll get photographic inspiration, learn about some new places and meet some new bloggers.

This is London

Ezra Street,  By Meandering WildLondon takes on a magical feel at night and even more so when you explore the back streets and alleyways that are still lit by gaslights.  Columbia Road in Bethnal Green is well known for it Flower Market. On most Sundays, a longstanding market, which attracts flower buyers from across London fills the street with colour and fragrance.  Halfway along Columbia Road is The Royal Oak, a public-house rebuilt in 1923 sitting on the corner of Ezra Street.

This little street is still cobbled and holds a magical charm all of its own. Sometimes forgotten by its larger and bolder Columbia Road neighbour this street can compete with many of London’s more famous locations.   Walking onto Ezra Street is like being transported back in time. The cobbles remain and the shops keep their 1930’s feel with a solitary lamp lighting the street. During the day this is a busy café with chairs and bustle but at night when no one is around you can easily imagine London from the Victorian era and beyond. It may seem familiar and that is because it has been used extensively for wartime and 1950’s movies.  Most notably ‘The Kray’s’ and Guy Ritchie’s ‘Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels’ as well as being the pub in the TV series ‘Goodnight Sweetheart’.

It may be a small corner of London but it gives an insight into the old and ‘normal’ London that millions of people once knew.

You can find Meandering Wild  on Facebook here 

The British Museum, By Two Traveling Texans

I chose this picture of the new British Museum roof to share because it is a perfect example of one of the things that I love about London – the mix of the old and the new.  The British Museum was built in 1852 (it has been expanded several times since) and the new roof was added in 2000.

There are so many new buildings going up in London now and I love that they all have fun nicknames.  Some of my favourites are the Walkie-Talkie, the Shard, and the Gerkin. The new buildings are in stark contrast to the older buildings like the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and St. Paul’s, yet to me, they compliment each other.

The British Museum should be on your list to see in London.  They have a vast collection of historical pieces there are impressive.  You won’t want to miss seeing the Rosetta Stone, artefacts from Ancient Greece and Egypt, the treasures from Sutton Hoo, and much more.  If possible I would recommend allowing at least 3 hours for your visit. You won’t be able to see everything but you should be able to cover the highlights. Just like many other museums in London, admission to the British Museum is free.

The Elizabeth Tower & Westminster Bridge, By Travel Stories and ImagesThis is one of my favourite photos of my brief visit to London a few years ago. I chose it because it’s so iconic. The Elizabeth Tower (commonly, but incorrectly, referred to as Big Ben) is arguably the most recognizable symbol of London and represents the heart of the country’s tradition and its government.

The photo also captures Westminster Bridge, which is the primary thoroughfare between the Westminster and Lambeth districts of London. While it’s an important route through the city, it also holds more sombre significance for Londoners: it was the site of a terrorist attack in early 2017 that killed four and injured 50. Memories of this attack will not soon be forgotten.

The photo is a long exposure, meaning that my shutter was open for several seconds. This is why both the water of the Thames and the clouds above the Tower and Parliament buildings appear so smooth. I also chose to render the final version in black and white. This gives the photo more of an antique, timeless look that, to me, echoes the fact that London is a timeless city – always growing and changing, but ever rooted in thousands of years of rich history and culture.

You can find Travel Stories and Images on Pinterest here

London Cobbled Streets and Pretty Houses, by The Glittering Unknown

Though my address may say Paris, my first city love was London. At fourteen upon my first visit, I decided I would one day live there, and consequently, I love the looks of all the different residences around the city. London is beautiful because it’s so different and diverse- the people, the mix of cultures, the architecture.

I love wandering through each quiet little nook I find, relishing the fact that it’s possible to find a calm spot in such a huge city. These mews streets always have the cutest details, from the bikes out front to the picnic tables to the vines snaking over the multi coloured facades. It’s so easy to become wrapped up in a picturesque moment and forget that there are real people who dwell behind those doors until the red-jacket-clad postman comes rolling down the cobblestones and into your photo. To tell the truth, I’m not sure if I’d love or hate to live in one of these houses given how popular they are with photographers! But they are a good reminder that behind every picture-perfect facade lies something raw and real, which I think is a notion that encapsulates London as a whole- beautiful, gritty, and always something new to discover.

You can find The Glittering Unknown on Instagram here

Skygarden, By Travel Hacker Girl

Skygarden is my favourite place in London. Whenever I have friends or family in the city I make sure to take them there. I have visited Skygarden 5 times and each of my visits has been different. You can get a great view of London and the best part is it is all free. However, you need to book tickets ahead on their website. Tickets are released every Monday and you need to book about 2-3 weeks ahead. One of the most special visits was when I witnessed a rainbow above London. It is also a good idea to plan your visit to watch the sunset. This was really great because we got to see the city with the lights on after darkness as well. Skygarden is not just famous for its stunning 360-degree views over London, but also of its lovely garden that is located on the top floor. You can see many different plants. You can also find a restaurant as well.

You will need to book ahead if you want to dine there. I am sure it is a great experience to enjoy your meal with such amazing view. Another option is to have a little nibble or a hot drink in the cafe that is also located on the top floor.

Find Travel Hacker Girl on Instagram here

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St Pauls Cathedral, By The Wandering Darlings

St Paul’s Cathedral is one of my favourite places in London. It’s just such a commanding building and just being in its presence you can feel its greatness. The delicate detailing of the interior, the huge dome, the history that lies in every brick it really is a must visit on any trip to London. On a recent trip, we climbed to the very top to see the views of the city. If you are visiting I would recommend you do this, London should be viewed from above as much as possible.

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Queen’s Guard By My Suitcase Journeys

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Greenwich, By Where Jo Goes

Greenwich, London, is famous for being the home of Greenwich Mean Time and the prime meridian. This unique claim to fame is explored in detail at the Greenwich Observatory where you can find out how timekeeping here changed the world.  Stand with one foot each in both the Eastern and Western hemispheres!

But Greenwich is so much more than the birthplace of GMT.  A world heritage centre, it is home to three more royal museums. The National Maritime Museum houses such historic treasures as the coat Nelson wore when he was fatally wounded, cannon balls from the Battle of Trafalgar and artefacts from hundreds of years of Britain’s maritime history.  Head to the Cutty Sark to find out why this tea clipper was the fastest ship of its kind, see the collection of figureheads and watch actors bring to life this iconic vessel. The Queen’s House, regarded as the first classical building in Britain, presents art and architecture and the royal history of Greenwich. Christopher Wren’s Royal Naval College is famed for its celebrated painted ceiling, book a tour if you want to climb 60 feet for a close-up look or visit the chapel and visitor centre.

Greenwich has a flourishing market – a great place to grab lunch from the many food stalls or a locally made souvenir. The park that spreads out beneath the Observatory is a wonderful spot for a stroll. From Greenwich, you can catch a boat down the River Thames and see London’s iconic sights by the river. Directly across the Thames from is the O2 and the Emirates Airline cable car.

Greenwich has more to offer than you could pack into a single weekend from the modern to the historic, from the royal to the relaxed, it truly is one of London’s gems.

London Scenes by Emily Fedorowycz

The London Eye, By The Wandering Darlings

Yes, it’s totally touristy but you can’t go to London and not see the London Eye. Even if you don’t go up it makes for a picturesque view of the South Bank of the Thames.  If you can stomach the line and the ride up (it’s not scary I’m just not good with heights) then I would 100% recommend you go up especially at dusk. You get the best views of London and as it is goes very slowly you get the time to take it all in and honestly you can see for miles!

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And that is our 10 Photos in London. Did you discover somewhere new or is there somewhere you would have liked to have seen? Let us know in the comments below.

Coming up we have Barcelona, Paris, New York and Marrakech if you would like to be involved then get in touch! We’d love to have you involved

The beauty of Glastonbury Abbey in pictures

Glastonbury Abbey by The Wandering Darlings

Glastonbury Abbey has long been one of my favourite places in the UK. As soon as you walk into the abbey grounds you just get the feeling you are in very serene and special place. Maybe its the connections to King Arthur and the legend that he’s buried here, maybe it’s the many stories the ruins hold or maybe it’s just that its a place of worship.

Located in the town of Glastonbury, Somerset (more popularly known for its ties with Glastonbury Festival) the Abbey is a popular visitor attraction. The Abbey buildings date back to 688 and whilst they are now ruins, they are still just as beautiful as what you would imagine they were back in their heyday.

The buildings are Grade 1 Listed and set in within 36 acres of parkland which is all immaculately preserved so that history lives on and that visitors can learn about the history and myths of this tranquil area. Whilst visiting you can see what is believed to be King Arthur and Queen Guinevere’s final resting place, Lady Chapel, St Patrick’s Chapel, the Holy Thorn, Cider Orchard and Abbot’s Kitchen. The museum helps answer any questions that you may have about the area and in the summer months, there are even costumed guides walking around sharing information about the ruins.

There are so many stories both historic, legendary and mythical within these ruins and parklands. Including that it is considered the earliest Christian Foundation in England and linked to Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Thorn, ties to the Saxons, Romans and Normans, it’s been raged by fire and rebuilt and has considerable connections to the legend of King Arthur.

To visit the Abbey the admission price is £7.34 per adult if bought online (slightly higher if paying at the gate) and there are student, over 60 and family tickets also available. For less than a tenner it is well worth the entry price and with so much to see and do its a great (and educational) day out for all the family.

You can also visit the Abbey for plays, gigs, workshops and other events so do check out the events page of their website here for what is coming up.

It’s a mystical and mythical place that I have visited several times and is one place that I could visit a thousand times more. Take in the beauty for yourself with these serene pictures of the majestic Glastonbury Abbey.

Glastonbury Abbey in pictures from The Wandering Darlings

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Glastonbury Abbey in pictures pin for blog post from The Wandering Darlings

Photo Diary – Cheddar in the Snow

The Beast from the East and Storm Emma took the UK back to a cold and chilly winter last week. Almost the whole country braced freezing winds, temperatures that barely broke zero degrees and a thick and lovely blanket of snow.

I’ve experienced a few snow storms whilst living here but this was one of the worst and…. prettiest. Schools and office closed their doors, panic buying ensued, sledging became a local sport, communities banded together to help one another, people were stuck in trains, cars and buses, everyone checked the weather apps over 100 times a day and the country ground to a halt. It was an interesting week and not one we were all expecting as the daffodils had started waking up and spring was supposedly just around the corner.

For some, the snow was a cause for chaos and for others, it was an excuse to not put away the bobble hats and winter coats and have one last wintery hurrah before the temperatures start rising.

The snowy scenes were just too picturesque to miss so I took my trusty camera and headed out and tried to capture the village of Cheddar in all its winter glory.

Cheddar, Somerset is in the South West of the UK and known for its cheese, Gorge and caves. It’s pretty little place even without the snow and is well frequented by adventurers hiking, cycling, climbing and cavers as well as those in search of a country retreat of cute accommodations and welcoming pubs. It’s a beautiful place to visit any time of year.

Welcome to our first photo diary of Cheddar in the snow

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Do you want to drink in a Gingerbread Pub?

This Christmas it snowed and I got to drink in a gingerbread house and no I didn’t dream it or fall into a children’s book. It actually happened!

Growing up in Australia my Christmases were always a sunny affair spent on the beach. Since moving to the UK I’ve now spent almost 5 Christmases in the UK or Europe and they are just not the same but that’s a post for another day. The main difference is generally the weather so when we woke to snow on the 27th any feelings of jealousy about my family being on the beach quickly washed away. WE HAD SNOW!!

Now, what better way to celebrate the snowy Christmas than to venture to a couple of villages over where the local pub had transformed itself into a gingerbread house for the festive season.

The pub is The Queen Victoria and it’s in the small village of Priddy in deepest darkest Somerset. It’s a lovely pub and a big hit with the walkers and cavers (as well as the locals) due to its relaxed atmosphere, good food, great service and that there is no carpet so muddy boots and dogs are allowed and in most cases encouraged! We usually would visit in the summer but with the snow and the change of look we just had to head up for a cheeky pint.

The landlord raises a lot of money for local charities throughout the year but Christmas is a time when they pull out the big guns and this year was no different.

It became a freaking Ginger Bread house!!

The whole outside was transformed with sweets, gingerbread men, candy canes and they even renamed the pub- The Gingerbread Inn. Apparently, all the decorations were made by a couple of people in the village and had been stored in their living room for the last couple of months ready for when it was all to be revealed. The decorations went on first and then the lights that adorn the pub light it up nice and bright. I would certainly recommend visiting late afternoon you can see it both in the natural light and then with all the lights on against the wintery night sky.

There is also a Christmas tree made completely of old wine bottles like you needed, even more, reasons to visit. It’s a truly magical and extremely clever idea that has gathered lots of attention in the local areas, as well as being, picked up by the Metro and ITV. I’m sure its help raised a lot of money for the Children’s Hospice South West which is the main reason behind all the effort that it takes to put this together. To have the idea itself is amazing but then to actually pull it off and raise alot of money for charity I couldnt applaude the pub landlord any more if I tried.

I don’t how much longer it is staying for so if you want to to keep your holiday festivities going and can get to Somerset then make sure you plan in a little trip to visit the Gingerbread Inn. There won’t be many times in your life that you can say you drank in a Gingerbread house and I promise you won’t end up like Hansel and Gretal unlesss maybe you drink a bit too much scrumpy.

The Queen Victorias facebook page has a lot more pictures and videos if you need further inspiration to come and visit https://www.facebook.com/queenvicpriddy/

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Paradise in the City- The Bristol Lido

Bristol has many hidden wonders from the secret bars scattered throughout the city to the many wonderful little side streets that aren’t on the tourist map but offer a different view of the stunning city. One of my most recent hidden finds The Bristol Lido has actually been a huge Bristol favourite for many many years I just hadn’t experienced it yet. Somewhat behind the times. The Bristol Lido is a huge must if you live in or around Bristol or if find yourself travelling to this city.

So what is the Bristol Lido? Well, it’s many things- but I think how it’s summed up on their website ‘an Urban Retreat’ has it spot on. With a bar, restaurant, pool, hot tub, sauna, spa treatments and quirky changing rooms all housed within a walled area it’s like a little piece of paradise hidden away in the city.

It was or is a Victorian swimming pool that dates back to the 1850s however over the years it’s been closed and opened and swapped hands over and over again. Although it’s modernised now it still really has so much history and charm retained.

The Lido is located down a very unassuming street and from the outside, you wouldn’t know what was behind the door and this only adds to its appeal. You can visit the restaurant and bar without having to swim and relax but you get the joys of the views. If you are local there are memberships available or if you are just wanting to visit on occasion there is day passes available. The package we went for was a spa day package. It was a birthday and Christmas present to each of us all rolled into one so we went all out on the treat. Included in our package we had breakfast, lunch (all non-alcoholic drinks included), 2 spa treatments and full use of all the facilities it was at the higher end of spa packages at £150 per head but it was a girly treat day and something we had wanted to do for a little while so it was ok to splash out.

It was the best treat day and just one of those experiences I regret leaving so long to do.

The food is raved about and whilst I have been known at times to be a picky eater I was pleasantly surprised by what they had on offer. It was locally sourced well-planned food and although in the luxurious environment you didn’t once feel at all like it was pretentious. I mean we were sitting in our robes with wet hair while the table next to us were dressed like people should be in the day. The relaxed environment filters into every part of the Lido.

The two spa treatments we had were a full body massage and a facial. The spa treatments are located upstairs and there is a waiting room, changing room and boudoir to get yourself dressed after. The treatments were amazing and embarrassingly to add I was so relaxed I even fell asleep in my facial. cue to awkward snoring! There were professional but personable and just made you feel so at ease. I really liked the wind-down room they take you to after your treatment were you can recline on the sofa and enjoy a fruit tea.

In between our treatments, we tried out the other facilities which included the sauna, hot tub and open-air pool. We visited on a brisk November day so it wasn’t as busy as what I would imagine it to be in the summer but there was still a fair few people. The hot tub was probably a little small for the number of people able to visit the Lido but we managed to squeeze in comfortably. The pool claimed to be 22 degrees and as although when I dipped my toe in it almost fell off due to frostbite there was NO way I wasn’t getting into the pool so I braved it and jumped in did 3 lengths and got straight back out. You can’t visit it a pool as glorious of this and not get in.

The Lido should be a must on any itinerary to Bristol even if it’s just to sample the food at the restaurant or to view the beautiful decor. There aren’t many places in a city where you get the feeling of escapism that Lido offers and regardless of what season you visit you will be glad you got there. And trust me no matter how cold it is, take a dip in the pool.

For more information check out their link below
http://www.lidobristol.com/how-to-lido/

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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Ballooning In Bristol- Why you need to visit Bristol

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaI’ve long loved a hot air balloon. Floating through the sky, slowly gliding and following the wind as it blows.  Pretty damn magical.

When I saw the film UP it showed that sense of adventure teamed with a few thousand balloons. I didn’t exactly run out and buy a few hundred canisters of helium and loosened the footings on my house but I did always have a romantic notion that you could get to travel to far off lands in a wicker basket and some hot air.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
So with that in mind, one of the best thing about moving to the West Country was that in Bristol every year in August they hold the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta. 4 days of ballooning fun and the city becomes like a picture perfect postcard.  Bristol is synonymous with balloons just like it is with Banksy, Ribena, Aardman Animations and Isambard Brunel. Creativity and Engineering greats!

Bristol is located in the South West of England and is a beautiful and colourful city. It has its own culture which I’ve not like I’ve ever seen anywhere it else. Bristol loves everything and everyone and has a small town feel but in big city scope. It’s only an hour and a half away from London by train and once you get off at Temple Meads everything you could need is literally a walk away. The harbour, the history, the street art, the parks, the bars and the shopping it makes it an ideal destination for all.

I’ve heard recently that Bristol produces more hot air balloons than anywhere else in the world so it seems only fitting that it is also home to one of the largest hot air balloon events in Europe. I mean Cameron Balloons has been based in Bristol since 1971 and the main man behind Cameron’s Balloon, Don Cameroon developed the first hot air balloon and aptly called it the Bristol Belle.  Cameron Balloons are said to be the largest maker of hot balloons within the world and have been pushing boundaries ever since by focusing on creating new and creative ways to travel through the sky be it with funny shapes to more technical features of aerodynamics.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Cameron Balloons

The Bristol International Balloon Fiesta was first started in 1979 and is always located at the Ashton Court Estate. The timings have changed over the years and it is now always in August and runs over 4 days. As with anything in England you can never rely on the weather, however, August is generally a more favourable month with less rain and wind. The best part of the fiesta is that is a free event. Yes, you heard right FREE. Sure you have to pay for parking and for any food and drinks but you can attend completely for free. Trust me Bristol does love a free festival (you should come in July for the Harbour Festival- yep you guessed it also FREE)

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Every day during the fiesta there is a mass ascent in the morning and again in the evening.  These mass ascents can include over 130 balloons all taking flight at the same time. Depending on the wind sometimes this can take the balloons right over the city centre. Night glows are on the Thursday and Saturday nights when the balloons are tethered and lit up dancing to the music also. There is also usually a firework display after the night glow on saturday.  There is also festival feel at Long Ashton with fairground rides, food stalls and a whole lotta balloons.

Over the years there has been all sorted of balloons. All the colours of the rainbow and also lots of creative shapes from a Sky Whale, a minion, a kiwi bird, the house from Up to a Bertie Bassett.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Balloons and the Clifton Suspension Bridge

This year was the first time,  in the 11 years that I got my butt out of bed at the crack of dawn (5 am!) to go and watch to the morning ascent. My gosh was it a good decision.

We opted to watch from the Observatory in Clifton. This way we had balloons, Bristol and the Clifton Suspension Bridge all in our eye line. A few 100 people had the same idea. Some in their PJs, some hadn’t made it home from their Saturday night yet, breakfast picnics, balloon inspired sweaters and mugs of tea. All there to just watch some balloons. And when I say a ‘some’ balloons I mean like at least 100 balloons.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Calming, simple fight but with such beauty

It was a beautiful way to spend a Sunday morning. We’ve previously watched the night ascent from another vantage point in the city. On Bedminster Downs, you have the perfect view of the festival and can see the balloons being inflated and ready to launch. There are lots of grassy areas where you can sit and have a picnic and in recent years food trucks have also been showing up there so you don’t even need to bring your own.

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta
Obvs our favourite one was the Thatchers Balloon

No matter whether you watch the fiesta from the higher vantage points of the city to low on the ground at the fiesta it is well worth treating yourself to a trip to Bristol in August just to witness this truly spectacular display.

Bristol is a great city to visit and even outside of this festival. Surprisingly I’ve not blogged too much about my home away from home (which I will rectify) however in the meantime if you want to read some more reasons to visit Bristol check out the blogs and websites below.

https://apostcardhomeblog.wordpress.com/2017/07/21/9-bristol-festivals-you-need-to-attend/

https://wandereroftheworld.co.uk/25-ways-to-have-the-best-summer-in-bristol/

http://visitbristol.co.uk/

http://www.bristolballoonfiesta.co.uk/

The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaThe Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaThe Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon FiestaThe Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta

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The Wandering Darlings- Bristol Balloon Fiesta

Summer- Australia Vs UK

Today it was hot in the UK. Like really hot. The late 20s /early 30s hot. The papers tomorrow will declare it a heat wave and come Monday everyone will be returning to work completely sunburnt. Then by the end of the week, it will be wet and rainy for two weeks because it’s Glastonbury weekend so of course, it’s going to be wet. I would never have known what that meant 10 years ago.

Welcome to a British summer.

As an Aussie living in the UK, I find it hilarious every year how excited/crazy we get when the temperature peaks for several days straight you’d have thought I’d have I come to adapt to it. Nope! Now every year I get just as excited as everyone else. I wrote a similar post last year you can find it here.

The most surprising thing for me today was I got in my car to go to the gym (yes just popping that in there as a big pat on the back to myself) and the steering wheel was too HOT to touch!! Yes, you heard right to hot to touch. This has never happened to me here. Australia yeah sure this is a daily occurrence but never in the UK. I actually almost called my mum to tell her as I was so shocked. Thankfully I didn’t choose to wake her up at 3 am with the news and instead started to think about all the things that are different between my two homes in the summer time …

Heading to the beach in Marbella

Europe
Summer in the UK more often than not means a summer holiday to the continent. Spain, Portugal, Italy, France are all on your doorstep and only 2-3 hours flight away. Some of the deals available make it a more cost effective option than staying in the UK and you are guaranteed sun. In Australia, you pretty much stay in Australia but maybe just venture to another state. If you did want to go abroad Bali or Fiji are only 3-4 hours away.

Respect the sun vs worship the Sun
I have moles on my body and have always been protective of my skin. In Australia, you are brought up respecting the sun. At school, you can’t play outside unless you have a hat and there are always campaigns about Slip, Slop, Slap- Slip on a shirt, Slop on sunscreen and slap on a hat. We don’t spend all day everyday sunbathing in the sun and we have Skincare centres everywhere to check on any changes in our skin. This is so different to my friends in England who worship the sun and will sit out all day in to get some colour. Even if that colour is red. Even going on holiday in Europe you always see ‘brits abroad’ who have sunburn on sunburn but still will sit out catching the rays. In Australia, it is rare to buy sunscreen under factor 15 or 30 whereas in the UK you can get factor 4 or factor 8!!

Summer is longer and hotter in Australia
Summer last forever in Australia especially if you live inland or in Northern parts of the country. Every day of summer is almost guaranteed to be warm and if by chance it is cooler it’s still early 20’s. It can also get super hot so you can’t touch your steering wheel, the road looks like it is melting and God forbid if you try to sit on a leather seat.

But…Summer days are longer in the U.K.
Whilst we don’t have as many hot days in the UK we do have more daylight hours. Summer evenings in the UK go up to 9.30/10pm. I love this and found it so confusing when we were on the Gold Coast last year and it was almost pitch black at 6 pm in the middle of summer. Summer days need long summer nights as well.

Surfers Paradise

Beaches

According to Australia.gov.au there over 10,500 beaches in Australia. There is nowhere near that many in the UK. Whilst I love a beach wherever it is I do prefer the beaches of home. The white squeaky sand that burns the soles of your feet, crystal blue ocean and bush that always separates the beach from the rest of the world. They will always hand down beat a pebbled, muddy British beach.

Ice lollies/Ice creams
No ice lollies/ice creams in the UK will ever compare to a Paddle Pop, Zoopa Doopa or a Bubble-o-bill. Not ever..

Santa’s in Darling Harbour

Summer will always feel like Christmas
As soon as it starts heating up I’m waiting for the Christmas carols, the Christmas tv and Santa to be driving round the streets on a fire truck. Summer for me means Christmas no matter how many years I have away from home- this will never change.

Rain

Obviously, rain was going to pop up somewhere in this post. However, it might not be in the way you would expect. In the UK we hate it raining when its supposed to be summer and in Australia, they long for it to rain in summer. Summers in Australia are long and hot. Summer heat on top of a long-standing drought affects crops, farms, bush and the general landscape. We have bushfires every year and part of the reason they spread so quickly is that everything is so dry and crisp. My grandpa always asks me to bring the rain with me when I come home at summer.

The green fields of Somerset

Green vs Beige
Leading on from the above, I have lost count how many times this last month I have said to my other half ‘It’s soo green! It’s never this green at home in the summer’. This is partly due to the rainfall we have. Everything grows so quickly. We didn’t mow our lawn for a month and it looked like a meadow. The countryside in the UK during the summer is beautiful luscious greens, bluebell forests, yellow rapeseed fields and wildflowers on the side of the road. Just beautiful.

Sport
Big on both sides of the equator in the summer. Wimbledon, The Australian Open, Boxing day test the list is endless. Both nations love watching sports and getting out and being active in the sunny days.

Animals
I grew up in the country and going for a walk in summer meant you always needed to keep an eye out for snakes and your back is always covered in flies. Going for a walk in the UK just means midgies and that’s only if you are near water. Its pretty much a snake free zone and is 100% a fly free zone. The UK wins purely for just not having flies!

Shirts off at the pub
I don’t think I have ever seen Aussie men at the pub with their shirts off in the summer. In England, one little slither of sun and half the men are there with their tops off showing off their Adonis bodies. Most places in Aus will have a no shirt no service rule and we love a drink so the shirts stay on. We are more a nation of vest/singlets, baordy and thong (flips flop) wearing men than a rip your top off at the first sign of sun nation.

Procrastinating taking selfies when I was supposed to be writing this today in the garden

Happiness
One thing that remains the same in both places is that summer = happy. Everyone has a spring in their step, more social and just happier. The vitamin D does something magical to us all. We smile, we play, we eat alfresco, we relish the days spent outside.

Summertime is great not matter what side of the world you are on. There will always be good and less good points no matter where you are. You just need to get our and enjoy it.

What is your favourite thing about summer? Have you experienced summer in two countries that are different? I’d love to hear from you so let me know in the comments below.