I had heard about Tulum through a couple of friends years ago who’d been travelling. It sounded perfect; incredible beaches, buckets of booze for a few quid, plenty of beads to make you feel like a hippy and super cheap accommodation in the form of beach huts. It had been on my list of places to go for so long, almost ten years, so no surprise that Tulum had changed somewhat since then. With an influx of Instagram influencers, it had stepped up a notch, as had the prices, but don’t let that put you off. It’s actually rather entertaining watching the photoshoots unfold. I mean, obviously I coerced my boyfriend reluctantly to take some snaps.
As it had been on my list for so long I’d spent years looking hotels and saving the ones I favoured. So, after booking flights, my boyfriend and I decided to spend the following weekend picking our hotel, I was so excited! Mid week, I woke up from an afternoon nap to a barrage of Whatsapp messages from him. Turns out, someone had got bit bored at work and decided to check out hotels in excitement as well. The conversation went like this:
-Just looking at hotels, this looks good, what do you think?
*no reply as napping*
-I’ll book it anyway as it’s free cancellation
-Oh sh*t it’s not free cancellation, hope you like it!
Immediately I panicked, as I’d already pain stakingly (and I mean, not just hours, but essentially years of researching) picked my top three. I love travel and visiting new places, so hotel searching is one of my favourite pastimes. The hotel he’d chosen wasn’t in my top three. Not even my top twenty. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have even clicked on it. One-it didn’t look very modern/instagram ready and two-it was fifteen minutes out of Tulum. Who would pick that from all the incredibly perfect hotels along the beach?!
I was so gutted. I’ll be honest, it took a great deal of deliberating over cancelling and taking the hit of a cancellation fee. But I decided to not be a brat, get over it and crack on. Turns out it was the best mistake he ever made
So this was our view which I was pretty content with. Due to jet lag we woke at 5am every morning with the sunrise. We pretty much had that pier to ourselves. Aside from a few pecky, big beaked birds.
There was such a charm about Blue Sky Tulum. It hadn’t been affected by the crowds or influencers. It felt so remote-yet actually so close. The staff were all locals and so friendly. Eric made the best frozen Margaritas I’ve ever experience (to be honest, never been into them until now), where we found ourselves tucking in as early as 10am most mornings. We WERE up at 5am.
Eric and his pal Enrique also suggested we went fishing. I wasn’t that bothered initially, but my boyfriend was. Again-one of the best experiences of the trip. Not only did just the four of us head out on our little vessel, far from the over crowded, tourist vessels we’d spotted before, but I CAUGHT A BARRACUDA. What an unexpected incredible feeling I never knew I wanted. Felt glorious. Then, when back at the hotel they rustled us up some fresh ceviche and fillet from our catches. Sorry Mr Barracuda, but you fulfilled a good life!
Turns out, where we were staying was absolutely perfect. Tulum is an incredible place and I would happily return. However, from heading to all the ‘picture perfect’ hotels lining the beach for dinner, there really was a very ‘instagram’ feel about it. Don’t get me wrong-I enjoy an instagram post, I like blogging about my travels, but there is a limit. From the moment we stepped on the beach, within half a mile we saw at least four people conducting a ‘photoshoot’. From endless star jump boomerangs to pensive sitting in the sea shots (yes ok-guilty), but when there’s a tripod and a crew involved, simmer down.
One afternoon we nipped to Casa Malca for the day, Pablo Escabars old gaff, now turned into an incredible hotel and restaurant.
Seeing as we hadn’t ended up in one of my dream hotels, I had a little idea. There was one remarkable hotel I’d had my eye on for a while, so decided, as an anniversary surprise I’d book us a night there, just so I could check if it was worth it (plus a week there would’ve meant selling a kidney). The Azulik was insane! Like a giant hotel treehouse, with the best view I of a hotel I’ve ever known. I felt like an Ewok. Every detail was just amazing. However, if you are not, ahem, spiritually inclined, brace yourself for the welcome ceremony-where me and my boyfriend had to stand opposite each other, close our eyes, while a man walked round us chanting and wafting incense. I’m all for an experience but I was very cautious not to open my eyes or we would start giggling. The other good thing about not booking for a week, is I hadn’t noticed it was entirely free of electricity. Where would we charge our phones?! (Don’t worry there’s a charge point in communal areas #phew). But no air con? Fine for a night or two, but Mexico gets pretty toasty… If you wanted to order room service, you wrote it on a piece of paper and put it into a wooden vessel onto a giant wooden conveyor belt system, then watched it travel down to reception. So cute.
Another little surprise (I really didn’t read the small print). It’s a nudity friendly hotel, adults only. Now, I’m fully comfortable getting my kit off, but, again, try not to laugh when you look to the treehouse to the left and there’s a lot more than you bargained for on show. Especially annoying when the girl next to us looked like a Kendall Jenner.
Probably my favourite ever breakfast/bath view
Tulum was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had. So stunning, amazing food, the most beautiful beaches and just so very very cool. Whether influencing or not, you’ll have the best time #blessed.
Not sure whether it’s because of lockdown or my DAZZLING tik tok videos, but I’ve never had so many requests about a weekend break. It did feel really quite special. Not only because we found this little gem in a location none of us had ever been to, but because I hadn’t seen my mates for months anyway so as our first post lockdown jaunt it was quite something! Plus the sun was shining, so it literally felt like we could be abroad. Who needs Ibiza when you’ve got Norfolk…
This was a little cabin I just found on Air B n b. It was so cute, but also quite teeny-fine for four girls as we don’t mind squashing in but would be ideal for a couple as well. It’s fairly basic but has everything you need and most importantly it is literally a 1 minute walk from the beach.
Oh, the beach! So we also had no idea that we were a mere minute away from one of the best beaches in the UK. We’ve since found it on quite a few articles, which is no surprise since it’s a blue flag beach, so officially one of the most beautiful in the UK. When we trotted down to it, with a celebratory bottle of champers in hand, we were actually quite emotional. Post virus and feeling like the world was ending, to see this view, with the sun shining, it was spectacular.
As a big fan of a wild swim, I was so excited. Even better if it’s rather on the fresh side, so exhilirating, makes you feel alive! And amazing for your health of course (go check out Wim Hof) He is my master. So every morning and most evenings we went for a delicious dip. The sand is so soft and the sea so clear, we literally could’ve been in the med. This isn’t the Norfolk I remembered growing up! We used to go mud sliding and crabbing and you weren’t really on holiday in Norfolk unless you were swimming in the freezing North sea in the rain.
Probs the best moment of 2020 so far… needed this!
Ok, sorry Sea Palling but this is a warning. Obviously if you’re going to the seaside you want fish and chips. And I have to say these were the worst I have ever tasted. Note-this is after eating what I could. The chips were practically white, the fish below par and to really rub salt & vinegar into the wounds, the staff were so rude. Swerve this place and go for a little drive to Wells if you can, as they have award winning fish and chips and it’s well worth it!
Six years ago I did a 500km bike ride from Yosemite to San Francisco and during one of our stop offs we did wine tasting at this lovely little place in California. This was one of the best white wines I’d ever tasted and I’d been saving it for an occasion, for, quite literally, years! It’s only when my boyfriend pointed out that 1) White wine doesn’t age that well and 2) He doesn’t drink it anyway, that the end of lockdown with friends post apocalyse was the perfect opportunity! Thankfully it wasn’t off and was bloody delightful.
We drove ten minutes down the road to Horsey Gap, a spot famous for seeing Seals. I think we envisaged them all being on the beach, but assuming that’s only certain months of the year, as they were swimming around, bobbing up and down in the sea. Only problem with that is they’re rather tricky to get a good pic of. Do they not know about Instagram?! I tried my best (see below), but google probs better option.
We also found a super cute little cafe, complete with air raid shelter (quite handy right now) and just walking around the general area is so pretty.
Was the most perfect escape to probably the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to in the UK (I’m off to Cornwall soon though, so we’ll see Sea Palling!)
Sea ya later lockdown.
So I had the time booked off work, was supposed to be in Barcelona, but thanks to Coronavirus that was obviously cancelled. Who needs all that sunshine & sangria anyway, bleuuurgh! I wasn’t going to let my time off work go to waste. Not being able to stay anywhere in the UK was still a stumbling block, BUT we can go to the seaside for the day!! Nothing will stop me. Not even torrential rain & a giant thunderstorm.
So off we popped with our waterproofs, to the biggest space of beach I know. Holkham Beach, Norfolk. It’s so vast, so social distancing really isn’t a concern.
The sun DID come out
After the most incredible storm which hit us smack back in the middle of this, which hit us when we had no place to hide…
But, have you even earnt your fish and chips if you haven’t had a sodden day on a British beach? These were marvelous and also turns out, from a chip shop voted one of the best in the UK, French’s Fish shop in Wells (just down the road from Holkham). Result!
All in all, it was a lovely escape to the seaside, especially if you’re looking for somewhere where there won’t be massive crowds. Well, especially when it’s rainy day, I think we saw approximately four people. And Peggy, my dog, said she had a wonderful time. And that’s all that really matters.
We arrived in Margate in that weird in between Xmas-New Year bit. It was windy, grey and utterly miserable when we arrived and we wondered if we’d made a big mistake. I had that sinking feeling. We’d heard a lot about Margate, how it was ‘Shoreditch by the sea’. Oooh bit of a trendy wanky seaside town? Right up our street! Reality was, barely anything was open so wasn’t the best time of year to go. However, the next day the sun came out, which made such a difference. We had a lovely walk, had a nose around some brilliant vintage and independent shops and ate some delicious food. Despite most places being closed we found a wicked, cosy little bar and just drank red wine, which makes anywhere utterly brilliant
Like most seaside towns, when the sun shines it’s totally different!
Of course you also have the Turner contemporary gallery and Dreamland, which was obviously closed which I was gutted about. Looks like a lot goes on there.
I LOVED all the little vintage shops and yards, they were my fave part.
Look out for the sculpture out at sea in front of the gallery. He freaked me out because you only see him when the tides out, so when it was coming in and was almost up to his head I thought I didn’t realise was a sculpture at this point and almost went in to rescue.
Margate’s clearly got a lot going for it. But just make sure you go in peak times. It’s certainly edgier and less pretty than somewhere like Whitstable but I want to come back with mates for a big fun day out!
We stayed in Angelas Suites which was lovely and had a great view out to sea
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The only time I’d previously visited Bury St Edmunds was to go to a discount furniture store. While picking up a favourably priced wardrobe, little did I know the history that lay before me and the charming streets and shops; so much so they were recently used as a film set to celebrate one of our greats, Charles Dickens, who also frequented the area.
The new Dickens classic David Copperfield is soon to be released, starring big names such as Tilda Swinton, Dev Patel and Peter Capaldi and directed by comedy mastermind Armando Iannucci. Why the connection with Bury St Edmunds? Well, part of the film was shot in some of the town’s historic locations because Dickens was a great fan, often staying at the Angel Hotel – the very place I got to spend a weekend away. If you ask nicely, they’ll show you a signed cheque by the literary legend himself.
Dickens was so inspired, he wrote his world famous Pickwick Papers here. With my A-level in English literature in my back pocket, I set out on a quest for a Dickensian weekend, steeped in history, culture and cocktails. As I’m sure that’s exactly how Dickens did it.
Bury is a charming town, with cobbled little side streets and an abundance of independent shops. Plus – and this is great news if, like me, you prefer your weekend breaks to be a little on the lazy side – the town centre and all the sights are doable in the day, by foot, requiring no further transport. Ideal. Also home to Britains smallest pub, The Nutshell (gags not included) and the Greene King Brewery empire for the last 200 years, so you’ll be well oiled if needed!
The Abbey Gardens are Bury’s most striking feature. The ruins of the once most powerful monasteries in England, this is a delightful spot for a walk and an ice cream (which I can also recommend from the Really Rather Good cafe opposite the gardens’ entrance). In the same area of Chequer Square, you can check out The Athenaeum, where Dickens regularly hosted public readings to promote his books. PR was alive and well even back then!
If, like me, you’re a fan of antiques and art deco, you’ll love Bury’s other great feature, The Salt Pillar. A road sign like no other, literally, as it’s Grade II listed, standing proudly before Abbey Gardens. It’s a totally unique and striking piece of art, and also an Instagram winner – if you’re into that kind of thing.
The Angel Hotel, which is perfectly located opposite Abbey Gardens, is a stunning Georgian building which looks spectacular, with a traditional but modern feel. And aside from delicious meals and cocktails, they’re also dog friendly, which, for such a grand hotel was a pleasant surprise. These places aren’t easy to find. So, as a proud new owner of a four-legged friend, I was delighted to be able to take her along for the trip. She was even greeted with a bowl and a new toy, and is very keen to return.
So if you’re looking for a new location that’s dog and family friendly, steeped in history, but small enough to get around in a day, Bury ticks all the boxes. Maybe you’ll be inspired to pen the next classic!
I stayed at The Angel Hotel, Bury St Edmunds. Rooms start at £90. Entrance to The Abbey Gardens is free.
As someone who’s sole purpose when on holiday is to eat all the food, the initial thought of simply having juice for 7 days was a tad daunting. But always a fan of a health fad, along with the the fact flights to Portugal in November are £30, I was in.
The location of Juicy Oasis is incredible. Set amongst the mountains alongside a beautiful forest and lake, I was immediately relaxed. I was especially excited about the giant lake in front of me as I’ve been trying to embrace a spot of cold water swimming this year and I love it. Yes it’s brutal and initially, largely unpleasant, but I’ve got well into Wim Hof and the benefits are astounding. Plus it makes you feel ALIVE. You know, in that kind of wow-am I about to die-oh no I’m not-phew-kinda way. So, yes, I’m aware it’s Portugal, but it is November and actually around 14 degrees tops, so it is a cold water swim, which definitely makes me very, very brave.
The view from my balcony. Stunning.
Day 1 – 3
First off we had a talk about the week ahead, what to expect, how it’s structured. The juices are distributed 4 times a day, 10am, 1pm, 4pm, 7pm. And because it’s the winter season we get a soup in the evening. One of the most interesting things I learnt from this talk, was about inflammation. Whilst many were there to help lose weight or kick start weight loss, the most we’ll initially lose during the week will actually be inflammation in the body. I was happy to hear this as I’ve become increasingly aware that inflammation causes a plethora of issues within the body, from chronic pains to cancer. And with my sugar addiction, it has become a rather grave concern!
There’s a daily schedule of exercise and activities, from the morning hike in the mountains to HIT sessions, yoga and relaxation. Being new and keen as mustard I wanted to pretty much do the lot. So off I trotted on the hike, which was awesome. Also squeezed in three yoga sessions, a rebound class, sauna and salt bath, then topped it off with a cold water swim initiation with everyone. BRACING.
The spa is awesome. The sauna is outdoors, right next to the cold water pool so you can have a good sweat whilst looking over the mountains. There’s also an indoor spa with the salt bath and these sleep pods, which gently rock you to sleep. JUST LOOKING AT THEM MAKES ME WANT TO NAP. So dreamy. Literally.
After that first day I always did the morning yoga at 7am and hike 8.30am to start the day. And that’s even before your first juice. The morning yoga was always a more relaxed, meditative session and also where I was introduced to the 5 Tibetan Rites, a series of movements, that if practiced daily, 21 times each, can keep you youthful and strong and supple. Apparently for bald men it can help hair grow back. Cancel your hair transplants lads!
The one thing I was also relieved about was that the juices and soups are absolutely delicious. And also surprisingly filling. I mean, I’ve never been so excited about a bowl of soup in the evening, I would’ve married it.
A lot of people have caffeine withdrawal or miss the actual action of chewing. Neither of those bothered me, however sugar cravings were pretty tough. And they were really weird sugar cravings. One day I spent at least 7 hours thinking solidly about custard creams. Which is particularly odd as I can’t remember the last time I had a custard cream. Bloody good though aren’t they.
To help curb cravings I started dining out on different variations of herbal teas that are peppered throughout the retreat and always available. Dunno if it’s possible to OD on green tea with matcha but I sure tried.
It was my birthday mid week so I got an extra treat! A platter of fruit. It was enormous so obviously shared with the room (I mean I had to-otherwise I would have been, rightly, despised). Everyone looked at me like I was Jesus. Was the cleanest birthday of all time. Oh and I also treated myself to a birthday colonic. I know how to live.
Kenny, our Yoga teacher, (who is like a mythical being that people tell fables of like, “he lives in a tree”) asked if I’d done yoga before and asked me help lead a class. This was incredibly exciting and I am basically a yoga teacher now. (Resisted telling him I just watch YouTube videos). Namaste.
Craving: Custard Creams. Sugar Puffs. Not had them since I was approximately 8. Wondering if the honey monster had some kind of psychological effect on me.
So I did a few dips in the lake. Alone. As it really is bloody cold and no-one else is interested, but I did love it. Being alone in the lake, amongst the mountains with the mist on the lake, feeling that teeny bit of risk like you’re in a horror movie. Only lasted a few mins though as then I suddenly get worried a sea snake/shark will drag me under and no-one will know. Yes, they can do that.
My energy levels had been pretty steady throughout the week. But suddenly, by Wednesday, BOOM. I had an obscene amount of energy. I literally couldn’t burn it, even after two yoga classes, two fitness classes back to back, a run in the mountains, a gym sesh, followed by a swim in the lake. Felt like I’d taken one of those pills, like in Limitless. Probably very annoying to be around.
Yoga teacher told me the universe wants me to spend a month in India. Well if the universe is telling me, then work better sort my cover asap as the last thing I wanna do is piss off the universe! Feel like Yoda. Namaste.
Craving: Club biscuits & chocolate cornflake cakes. Why am I just getting cravings for childhood snacks?
Quick morning brew by the lake before yoga. Namastea.
Started to get hungry in the evenings by this point. Think it’s probs psychological as know I’m heading home soon and thinking about what to EAT. Which oddly wasn’t a massive curry and chocolate as expected. Actually feel worried about putting any crap in my system now.
Did an incredibly intense yoga gathering where we sat in robes and had some kind of out of body experience. No drugs involved. Read tarot cards. Mine freaked me out a bit was so accurate. Felt like a yogi/yoda/witch. Namaswoah.
Craving: Bakewell tart. Also something I seldom never eat. What on earth are my cravings telling me? That I need to spend more time in Derbyshire? That i should date the honey monster?
My sole purpose for this trip, was actually to help heal my body after a health issue earlier in the summer. And I feel I couldn’t have possibly done more to help that. I’ve never felt so relaxed, so much leaner and mentally, it felt like my mind had cleared. I didn’t weigh myself at the start as weight loss wasn’t particularly a goal for me. But it has entirely reset my attitude towards food and healthy eating and I feel I don’t want to sabotage what I’ve done.
I met some awesome people and I’m pretty much a qualified yoga teacher now so all in all what an incredible experience.
Two months later, what’s changed?
Went for a scan week after retreat and my health issue totally cleared up! Of course this may well have happened without the retreat but I can’t help but think it entirely helped.
The experience I had here and the habits it’s changed for me, will stick with me for life.
What I Learnt:
That I, and probably most of us consume waaaay more food than our body requires
Annoyingly fruit and vegetables in abundance makes you feel amazing. Refreshed, invigorated, energised, lighter and healthier
That I really need to live by a lake
That most my sugar cravings are in my head and not a physical need & a barrage of herbal tea can work wonders to dispel them
That yoga is an essential part of my daily routine
New Habits Post Retreat:
Replaced my immediate morning coffee with a large mug of fresh lemon and ginger. I still have coffee later in the day if I want it, but it feels so refreshing starting the morning with that goodness. Feels amazing fuelling your body with goodness as soon as you wake
Regular juicing-most days. It’s obviously not realistic to juice all day, every day. But now I know how good it makes you feel, I often switch up breakfast for a juice, or like this week (first week of Jan) where I felt revolting after all the Christmas excess, I’m juicing for 5 days and after 2 I already feel so much better
Herbal Teas! I am pretty much an unofficial ambassador for Yorkshire Tea, so I’m not turning my back on a good brew, but I switch up half my tea/coffee intake with herbals. They’re a lot more refreshing and I even went super rock n roll and started mixing up flavours. My faves are jasmine with green tea, fresh mint, fresh lemon, ginger & mint, all the pukka macha range (mix em up for a wild time), and berry
Tibetan 5. Everyday. The 5 Tibetan Rites are a system of exercises I learnt during my yoga classes. They are supposed to keep you youthful, supple and strong if performed every morning, 21 times. They are brilliant because they’re relatively quick and easy to do in the morning and they help stretch and awaken the entire body. I’ll post a video soon, or check out video’s on youtube for the moves
Morning walk with dog and yoga every day. Make sure you move & embrace nature in some way each day
Check out Jason Vales Juicy Oasis retreat here:
Most British seaside towns can be a bit tacky or in the winter, even a bit depressing if the sun isn’t shining. Apart from Whitstable. It’s so teeny and pretty, with incredible food, regular markets and not an arcade in sight. (FYI not knocking an arcade, they are the very soul of most seaside towns, but I have lost a LOT of coins on that sodding 2p machine). We stayed in an Air B n B cottage. Think it’s probably cheaper to go abroad in the summer, but it’s so pretty and easy to get around as so titchy, plus Peggy can’t hop onto an Easyjet flight so was well worth it.
There are some great restaurants. Obviously you must have oysters and my fave is The Whitstable Oyster Company. Perfectly situated on the seafront with the best fresh seafood, bread and white wine. We also had a delicious meal in Samphire where I ate a giant crab. Very elegantly. In a way.
They do really good sunsets in Whitstable.
One of my favourite trips this year. After Whitstable I decided to add a couple of nights onto the trip, just 90 minutes away as fancied some camping. Sorry, GLAMPING. Let’s be honest, there’s a massive difference and I will always be a lot happier not having to endure a frosty atmosphere whilst attempting to erect tents, or brush my teeth with a bottle of water. I’m really particular about teeth brushing hygiene ok.
This place was pretty unique, as you get the entire mini site to yourself. A yurt as your bedroom, another as a sitting room (which we didn’t even use it’s so spacious) and then a separate cabin with a fully functional kitchen alongside an eco cabin toilet (sawdust at the ready!). All in your own private enclosed area. Perfect. In the middle of nowhere surrounded by trees, whilst the only jobs to do are make tea and a camp fire,. It was idyllic. The only noise we heard in the morning were some rowdy cows. The yurt was so cosy and beautifully done and I enjoyed that it didn’t have electricity so you have to go a bit basic, bed by 9pm! Don’t panic, there’s electricity in the kitchen so you can charge your phone. There’s a proper log burner inside incase it gets chilly, which it didn’t really, but we still used to keep cosy.
In my absolute favourite state. No make up, comfies, brew, sunshine and woodland. I think I was meant to live in Canada in a forest.
What was even more fun about this place is it’s location. As we’ve recently started to embrace a bit of wild swimming, wherever we stay, we’re on the hunt to find a good river/lake where we can go for a dip with the dog. I found a blog which suggested a spot called Fairlight Glen which had a lovely walk through a forest to find this hidden cove. Perfect! So off we went on a little adventure. Only a 15 min drive to the car park which we needed to begin our little trek. It took a while to locate the exact path, but we spotted another guy (in incredibly tight denim shorts btw) and started following him. We went on the coolest little forest trek through woodland and streams, it didn’t feel like being in the UK. Then after about 15-20 mins we spotted this sign and the reason it was perhaps so secret.
Oh hey nudist beach! I have no problem with a nudist beach, in fact, more than happy to be at one with nature so off we trotted. We eventually emerged onto the most stunning little beach spot. Yes there were some bits and bobs dangling about, but clothing was optional so the prudish clothed brigade are also welcome. Luckily the sun came out and we had a lovely dip. I did a nudey swim, mostly to try and embarrass and horrify my boyfriend, but also because a nudey swim feels incredible! And what with us being seasoned campers now, it seemed fitting.
Found this on the forest walk. Cute alert.
The yurts are called the barefoot yurts in Brede, East Sussex. Whitstable was an Air B n B cottage.
You know when Americans make films about Britain and we all live in cottages on cobbled streets, drink tea & eat cake all day? Well the Cotswolds are to blame for this. As it is literally the most fairytale dream of the English countryside, except it’s actually real. I’ve been a few times now and each time I feel like I can physically breathe the fresh air pumping pollution out of my lungs and also always overwhelmed to see the starriest skies I’ve ever seen in the U.K.
I’ve stayed in a few spots now. Stow on the Wold-idyllic. As was;
The Falkland Arms-Chipping Norton
Stunning, beautifully preserved old style pub with delicious food and lovely room overlooking the pretty village and fields. And importantly, dog friendly!
The Swan Inn
Another beautiful old stone country pub with modern design and incredible food. Dog friendly & rooms with robes & coffee etc which are now my essentials for an early morning sit in my robe pretending I’m the Queen.
We also found a nearby river for some wild swimming. Head to Minster Lovell and park near the church and head for the ruins and you’ll find a lovely spot. Also good for walking if jumping into a random river doesn’t float your boat.
Yes. It was bloody freezing. But so invigorating! Trying my best to be all Wim Hof and embrace the cold water movement. Really rather enjoying it!
Little Tew, Air B n B
Found this little gem in the middle of a tiny village. It’s a small barn, with just one loft bed, but the perfect space for a romantic weekend or, like me, with your pal! It’s basically a mini version of my dream house. So quiet and secluded, with the most stunning views. Woke up, down the ladder to make a coffee looking out over the fields. Bliss!
Think you can book rooms if not a member, but will need to be months in advance as gets so booked up. Or if you know a member, beg them to sign you in. It’s worth it. The most beautifully designed rooms and cabins along a river, with outdoor tin baths (which I spent-no exaggeration-almost 4 hours in), whilst it was actually raining (red wine helped). If you’re staying the night, every detail is thought of, from personalised bikes & wellies, cocktail & breakfast trucks that stop at your door. And if not, you can enjoy the boating lake, spa with outdoor pool and all the farmyard animals. They also win on best robes & comfy slippers.
Peggy loves it! It’s dog friendly in the day but sadly not overnight (but The Falkland Arms I mentioned before is just down the road).
Do you know what’s better than running a half marathon in Bath on a Sunday morning? Getting an injury a few weeks before and deciding, that instead of cancelling the weekend, just altering your plans to a romantic spa weekend in Bath instead. So I’d like to thank my boyfriend for kindly injuring himself beforehand as I think we’d all rather swan around a Spa in a dressing gown instead waiting on a sideline.
With a perfect excuse to have a mini break away from London, I swiftly took charge of the hotel booking as I knew exactly what I wanted. Somewhere I can do absolutely nothing, other than eat good food, regular naps in a luxury bed and sit in a spa and relax. Sounds lazy, but since I’ve lived in London, any break I go for now has to involve as little movement as possible.
That’s when I stumbled upon The Gainsborough. An opulent, grand looking building, right in the centre of Bath, with an incredible looking spa. Ticked all the boxes. So when we arrived by train, (which was almost too quick. I’d just sunk two ginger nuts and got into a lovely doze and suddenly we were there). It took us just 5 minutes to walk to the hotel. Still all within the centre of Bath. Result for old lazy bones here!
I want to say we spent the entire first day sightseeing, but it was a strong hour. The good thing about Bath is, it’s so pretty that everywhere you go, you instantly feel like you’re seeing it all. And you are, it’s all on your doorstep. You don’t have to go far to find lovely little boutiques, restaurants and BIG STEEP HILLS. Good for working off calories before all the food I was to consume.
Having a swan around The Royal Crescent.
On the first day we wondered around the city, along the river, had some great food and most importantly, found the local fudge shop. The Fudge Kitchen has mini egg fudge, I repeat, MINI EGG FUDGE. Bought a few kilos of that and headed back to the room to gorge on it in a robe in bed like Waynetta Slob.
I needn’t have bothered with buying a load of treats, as when we returned there was a bottle of champagne on ice and chocolates in the room. I LOVE CHAMPAGNE AND CHOCOLATES. Especially when they’re a surprise. Because then there’s no calories.
Another reason we didn’t need to leave the room, was this view. Can see most of Bath from here! Oh, and a double rainbow on our last day. Stop it Bath, you’re really spoiling us.
After a few hours of lounging, we decided we should probably stop being slugs, get dressed and go for dinner. Another bonus of The Gainsborough is they have an incredible restaurant, created by chef Dan Moon, with the one thing I’m always up for, taster menu’s. I get food envy, so I like to try a little of everything. Many times. There’s the 5 or 7 taster menu. Obviously greedy guts here went for the 7. It was a good choice. After the barman had rustled me up my own cocktail concoction of my favourite ingredients (which by the way, he offered, I didn’t demand. I’m not Mariah Carey), we sat down to devour our 7 courses. Amongst the smoked beef, scallops, duck, lemon mousse and much more, I also managed to consume a delicious flight of wine to accompany it, resulting in me making friends with the couple next to us, one of which, it turned out was once taught by my boyfriends Dad and considered him a real hero. Small world!
Popped off to bed feeling suitably full, only to find a platter of cheese in our room. Are you trying to challenge me Gainsborough? NO PROBLEM. Devoured.
Luckily the next day consisted of even more relaxing as we booked into the spa for treatments. I opted for a ginger renewal treatment. Which, after being a bit of a pig in a sty, luckily consisted of a delicious scrub down and massage. I felt very cleansed! I also know I was obscenely and quite embarrassingly relaxed as I woke myself up with my own snoring. Three times. THREE.
We then went for a swim and spa circuit in the stunning Spa. The Spa is incredible. Set in a giant atrium and being in Bath, the pool taps into the Thermal Springs, so you’re getting the proper Roman bath experience. We braved the lavender ice fountain as part of the spa circuit, finishing off in the natural thermal water, which was approximately 35-40C. Bliss.
Felt so über relaxed, it was difficult to venture out again. But we did squeeze in a visit to the Royal Crescent and Roman Baths, well worth it! Also made us appreciate our thermal swim even more, fascinating. Those Romans sure knew how to do wellness.
Bath is such a perfect romantic weekend away. Everywhere you walk is stunning, the food and drink exceptional. Plus if you pick a hotel like The Gainsborough, you can enjoy it to all it’s capacities without feeling guilty about venturing out as it celebrates all of Baths qualities within! Plus they have the most attentive and efficient staff who make everything easy. The manager Brian is a legend!
The perfect weekend away!
Two things I really bloody love? Weddings. And California. Oh, our friends are getting married in Palm Springs? Yes, I think I’ll probably go to that.
Not only is California one of my favourite places on earth, but I’d never been to Palm Springs. And obviously, travelling that far, I knew it would only be wise to make a big elaborate holiday road trip out of it. That’s just common sense.
Palm Springs is immaculate. Like a fictional toy town. The villa we stayed in and the neighbourhood in fact, was so pristine that there was a rather strict and possibly over zealous $500 fine for either; playing music too loud, talking too loud, farting, breathing etc. But it was all so very pretty that I was quite happy to sit mute, take lovely photos and use a white board to communicate with my friends. I felt oh so Hollywood.
As with most places you visit in America, everywhere to me feels like you’re on a film set. Just two to three hours from LA (don’t leave too late in the day-it took us four), but, always such a cool drive. I like to stop at petrol stations just to buy donuts and pretend I’m a cop. I do realise I could do this in the UK but we both know it’s not the same. Plus, the petrol station staff at BP never compliment my British accent.
After the most beautiful wedding, we headed back to L.A. and met up with my pal to embark on a Cali adventure. We were staying at The Kinney near Venice beach as wanted to be close to Santa Monica & the beach. But more importantly close to what is the coolest street in LA, Abbot Kinney Boulevard. It has the best shops (save up), restaurants, bars and ice cream parlours. All of which we consumed daily whilst on our electric scooters, which are THE MOST FUN IN THE WORLD. I have never enjoyed buzzing around the streets more. Many locals hate them, but much like a Boris Bike, you can just pick up and leave wherever just by checking in with the app. Genius. And I’m way too happy to care who hates me.
ME, AS HAPPY AS CAN BE. Weeee
Oh hey Hollywood
My friend then suggested a ‘wine tasting safari’. Seeing as this combined two of the most enjoyable things in my life, wine and animals, I was obviously on board. Nestled away in the incredible mountains surrounding Malibu, we headed to the Malibu Wine Safari. It was everything we hoped for and more. Family run and set amongst hundreds of acres of land, you wouldn’t believe you were just 30 minutes from the madness of L.A. The landscape was breath taking. We set off in our open top jeep to meet their furry friends and sample their Sauvi Blancs. It was awesome. Who doesn’t want to swig Chardonnay whilst stroking celebrity named animals like Kendrick LLama and Lllama Del Ray?
Zebras are just ridiculously beautiful aren’t they?
Then we met the most famous resident, Stanley the giraffe. How is a giraffe famous, you ask? Well how many giraffes do you know that have starred in the Hangover 3, had a selfie with P Diddy and flirted with the Kardashians? Stanley has. Such a magnificent creature. I can’t get my head around how prehistoric and stunning they are. Plus his tongue was the size of my arm.
A week after we visited, Stanley made the headlines after the devastating fires ravaged the Californian hills. Was heart breaking to see how much devastation was caused on such a stunning, friendly place. Most the animals were accounted for, Stanley included, but hopefully they’re getting back to normal. Sending lots of love!
After our fill of wine tasting, giraffes and electric scooters, it was back onto the road to head to Vegas to end our trip in style! But on the way, we wanted to stop somewhere I’d always wanted to visit, Joshua Tree. It needed to be done in style so we stayed in this 70’s airstream at Joshua Tree Acres. Look how pensive it made me.
Joshua Tree was the coolest, most relaxing and stunning place. I’ve never felt so content. We felt and pretty much were in the middle of nowhere and it was idyllic. I mean, that was until we got chatting to the girls in the airstream next to us and it turned out they were from Hackney, just half a mile from where I live. Brilliant.
The most unreal sunrise and sunsets.
Joshua tree by night. Things got weird.
It’s a big statement but I’m putting it out there. This is the best bath I’ve ever had. I’m not sure how I’ll ever top a Eucalyptus bath in the middle of the Joshua Tree desert. I have never felt more zen in my life. If I was ever to go through anything terrible in life, I would make a concentrated effort to return here. You see the earth and nature in it’s purest form. I mean, just look at how I’m talking now? At risk of going too spiritual on you, it’s one of the places that makes you realise how insignificant you are. You know, in a good way. I’m gonna stop this deep existential chat now, I’m even weirding myself out. Just trust me, it’s spectacular.
After a night of doing absolutely nothing other than eating, sleeping, bathing, yoga and chanting (no chanting took place), we got back on the road onto Las Vegas! Just a three-four hour drive through the Mojave desert. It’s the kind of drive everyone should do once in their life. Also, make sure you have petrol. As also the kind of place where, if you break down, it may take a few weeks to be rescued. Have supplies. And don’t talk to cowboys.
Just before our arrival in Vegas, we wanted to check out the art installation ‘Seven Magic Mountains’. It’s basically stone henge at a rave and it is magnificent. It’s only a two year exhibition by Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone, so get there quickly for your perfect instagram pic!
I had one drunken blurry picture from Vegas and I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be. I love you California. We’ll be together one day. Maybe after an election or two.