La Palma

We started looking for an Easter sunshine getaway at the start of the year. It’s always the best time isn’t it? After the excitement of Christmas and the anti climax of New Year (in my opinion) the only way to try and beat the January blues is to set your sights on sunshine at the end of what can appear a very long tunnel. That was before we knew that that tunnel in particular would contain ‘Beast From the East’ and then for some, the ‘Beast of the East’s Son.’ When it literally is -10, you can only dream of a crystal clear blue pool that overlooks the sea that eventually merges into the sky.

After (lots) of searching on my part, we looked at Gran Canaria where we had been before – Maspalomas, where we had stayed in a real budget hotel but one that pleasantly surprised us. We had been keen to return but there’s always an element of me that wants to try somewhere different. One thing we did know was that we wanted sunshine and so unless we were wanting to travel further afield like the Caribbean, we knew we had to look more around the Canary Islands.

Our good friends recommended the TUI La Palma Hotel (it actually has a much longer name) on the canary island of La Palma, somewhere were most people haven’t actually heard of. It’s not far from Tenerife and is much smaller in comparison to other Canary Islands.

The hotel was a four star platinum and we were told via our friends what a lovely place it was. Good food, lots of swimming pools, good rooms and an all inclusive package available. We appreciate all inclusive doesn’t appeal to all but in some cases I think they work really well. We wanted (needed) a flop and drop and the idea that it was a decent hotel where we didn’t have to worry about money etc sounded like the perfect scenario. So we booked it.

Previously I have booked us on city breaks and done the flights and accommodation separately. I thought that TUI wouldn’t be competitive regards price but in reality, when I compared it to our budget Gran Canaria holiday a few years back it was a no brainier. There was about £200 per person in it each and we wanted a more luxury break.

The flights to La Palma are limited. If you don’t go with TUI I am not sure how you would get there as no other major tour operator appears to do so (I could be wrong but when I searched La Palma flights, I just kept getting the TUI one offered to me).

There is a Gatwick flight as well as a Manchester one. In high season they operate on a Thursday and a Sunday, off peak I believe it’s just once a week.

We departed Manchester at about 3pm on the Thursday and it took about 4 and a half hours to get to our destination.

Virtually everyone on our flight was staying at the Princess hotel. We heard lots of stories on route, ‘it’s massive – never overcrowded’ or ‘there’s a walk around the outside of the hotel and it takes 40 minutes to complete the circuit’ and mainly, ‘this is our third/fourth/fifth’ time here’ which is always promising.

The drive from the airport to resort is about 50minutes and whilst breathtaking, it’s absolutely terrifying as the coach travels through windy roads that appear to dangerously hang over the volcanic sides of the island. Rumours that La Palma is an active volcano and partially sunken I believe to be slightly exaggerated, although not completely untrue.

From the coach we could see the sprawl of La Palma Princess and it looked both magical and absolutely huge and we weren’t wrong. Upon arrival staff could not do enough for you to try and check you in but in reality there were three coaches full of guests and there was a big queue. We were offered to go straight to dinner and our bags would be taken to our rooms, free of charge.

You literally need a map to get around this place but the advantage of having somewhere so big is that you are not on top of each other. There are 11 swimming pools (including one dedicated to a nudist area – not that I looked 🤪) and therefore plenty of beds and space. Each pool is absolutely massive. I swam 10 laps of one each day and according to the reliable iWatch, it claimed I had done nearly 500 meters. None were overly deep and there were some dedicated to young children.

You could be at a lively part of the hotel if you wanted to or in a really quiet area. There is something for everyone. I could see ourselves coming on this holiday with our friends, yet at the same time I could see us returning as a family or with our parents.

The food choice was vast, especially in the main restaurant. There was an a la Carter on site but you had to pay extra for that and quite frankly, I didn’t see the point. On Spanish night I had more chorizo than I knew what to do with and I didn’t see how that could be out done.

Each morning we opted to eat at La Chozo, a beautiful breakfast area overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The food here was limited in comparison to the main area but the views more than made up for it. A chef was on hand to cook you an omelette or fried eggs and you could help yourself to cereals, fresh fruit, bread, yoghurt and coffee.

My one complaint about La Chozo was that it was only open for breakfast. It would have been fantastic to see it open at lunch or the evening. I understand they do open it during peak season but I felt any school holidays should really be a key time.

La Palma has world heritage status for its night sky and therefore there are limits in terms of light pollution. There is a sky map and it tells you how many light years specific stars are away. It’s a beautiful sky to look up at night.

The rooms are big and cleaned every day. There was a TV in the room that at first I thought the only English Channel would be Russia Today but thankfully I discovered the BBC World Service.

English football is shown on a Saturday and also champions league matches. We watched Liverpool take on and beat Man City which was good because we were mainly surrounded by devoted Liverpool supporters!

All in all it’s a great hotel to stay in. If you are after a time where you can wander Spanish or Canarian streets then this place is not for you. Around the hotel is nothing but a steep walk although TUI offered day trips to the capital and the observatory.

#tui #lapalma #lapalmaprincess


Barcelona, such a beautiful horizon!

Once sang by Freddie Mercury, on a song made famous and very much associated with the opening ceremony of the 1992 Olympic Games. I remember watching it when I was 11 years old and 25 years later I would be walking around the grounds near the Olympic Stadium, soaking up the fantastic views that surround it.

We decided to come to Barcelona in October because a) I desperately wanted another holiday/mini break and b) after a poor English summer (again) we wanted a bit of sun and culture. Barcelona has been on our list for a long time and friends kept telling us that it was a must see place.

At first, most of it felt against us. Ryanair cancelled our flight. We got our money back and we were lucky as we had plenty of notice but the new flights with Vueling, cost us more than double. Ryanair have that ability to know where you want to fly to at a cost much cheaper than any other airline, making it hard to avoid them sometimes.

Then came the protests for independence in Barcelona. Streets lined with a sea of people all chanting something or other. Flags hung at virtually every window of every apartment block, mostly saying ‘Se’ or what I assume is the flag associated with becoming an independent state, red and yellow with a blue triangle featuring a white star.

Last but not least (I like to think things come in threes) was Storm Brian. Impacting mainly the south of England but still causing gusts of about 40-50mph in other parts of the UK. We were flying from Birmingham this time so I was convinced we would be affected in some way or another.

We were – but not massively. What I would call a ‘bumpy take off’, Laura described as ‘nothing really’. The plane swayed a little as we launched down the runway but as soon as we got up everything became very calm and the whole flight was really smooth.

One thing to note though was the disappointing lounge experience at Birmingham. As a (slightly) nervous flyer, I enjoy airport lounges as I can relax away from the hustle and bustle of the main terminal. We have used the Aspire Lounge at both Manchester and East Midlands, so we felt confident of the service we would get. The Birmingham Lounge has great views of the runway and was set up to be a good experience. Wrong! Awful customer service. Food and drink not being replenished (which is the whole point of paying to be there) and when we did request something, we were greeted with huffing and puffing and at one point ‘for God’s sake!’. It was so bad I filled in a complaint form there and then.

We flew into El Prat airport, I think most flights do and got the airport shuffle into the centre. We should have been taken to Placa de Catalonia but ended up at Placa de Espania, due to the protests I think. I wouldn’t mind – had we have been told, but we weren’t. We walked the rest of the way and it took us about half an hour. It meant we got to walk through some nice neighbourhoods like Sant Antoni and El Raval, which are worth visiting as they are up and coming areas.

We had booked a hotel in a wonderful location just overlooking La Rambla. It was quite a touristy thing for us to do, stay somewhere so central but honestly it is so easy to get to the sea front or other places from here it is completely worth it. Breakfast was included and although the room was small, it was spotlessly clean and we had a balcony view of the street below us. All double glazed so you couldn’t hear a thing.

Naturally I had read about the awful terror attack that took place on La Rambla in August. It’s hard to ignore as Barcelona has plenty of boulevards full of people walking up and down them every day. It’s sad but a reality that somewhere like this should be targeted. I read that the attack started at one end of La Rambla and ended at this mosaic. The mosaic looked quite small on photos and I kept looking out for it. On the second morning I stood on our hotel balcony (I’ve slightly embellished the balcony bit) and realised what I was looking at – the mosaic itself. I found it strange almost that there was no reference to the event that took place in August, no flowers or anything to say something major had happened. Other than the huge police presence you wouldn’t know. Maybe that’s the way it should be to show that life must go on, I don’t know?

I would definitely recommend Hostal Marenostrum. It’s location was ideal for us to get to pretty much everywhere (we do a lot of walking but in Barcelona it’s all flat anyway) and breakfast was included in the price. A good breakfast at that too – continental but enough to stock you up for the day. 

Craft beer is everywhere! 

Literally, everywhere. We like a good craft beer (I am quite partial to American Pale Ale’s and Laura likes a stout towards the end of an evening) and we are really lucky to live in an area where there are so many really good beer places. When you travel abroad or go to other major cities, you realise how good the craft beer scene is in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme. For reference, our top recommendation locally is The Hop Inn – best beer bar none. We also enjoy the Titanic Greyhound in Hartshill and The Holy Inadequate in Etruria. 

We went to Lisbon in April because I had read an article about there being a craft beer revolution going on. Now, to clarify, we didn’t go just because of the beer, but it was certainly part of the reason that led us to consider it as a destination. I am so glad it did because Lisbon is still one of our absolute favourite places.

We didn’t go to Barcelona because we wanted to drink craft beer but our friend gave us some recommendations before hand and we decided to try a couple out. It would have been rude not to. On the first proper day of our visit we headed down to the sea front and to Barcelonetta, which is well worth a visit. Apparently Barcelonetta had been the original fishing port area but had been left to decline during recent years. Then came the Olympic Games in 1992 and an Olympic village which got sold on for residential use once the event had finished. It completely revitalised the area and it is now a thriving part of the city. Beautiful views of the Mediterranean Sea and small, picture book quality streets of fresh laundry and flags hanging down. 

Black Lab micro brew is situated near the front and is worth a visit. They have their own brews on as well as others, many of which were from the UK and most from breweries I had either tried or heard of (that’s why the Hop Inn is so good!)

We ended up stumbling on other craft beer places without even trying to look for them. Two were really close to our hotel in La Rambla/Gothic Quarter called Beer L’Inale (I think – the scripted font made it hard to read) and another called Kaelderkold. One had about 30 taps and the other 16! So plenty of choice. I noticed they were starting to make beer cocktails as well such as Black Velvet, which is stout and cava. Not sure if this is the next ‘thing’. 

We headed over to Eixample and went to a place called CocoVail, which is the product of two guys from Barcelona who lived in the States for about ten years. I assume they lived in California because they came back to the city and set up their own bar and brewery. It is definitely American themed and if you have ever been in a bar in the States you will understand why. They did a good burger and it is also well worth a visit. 

Another one was BierCab, also in the Eixample district. They had about 30 taps on a digital screen that looked good but almost had too much information on. All in all, we could have spent the entire trip just walking around drinking craft beers which would have been nice but not quite the objective of our holiday. Either way, you won’t be disappointed in Barcelona if you like craft. 

Sagrada Familia ~ Place de Gaudi 

One of the must visits for Barcelona is the Sagrada Familia, the life work of the infamous architect Antoni Gaudi. You have to book weeks/months in advance for tickets for this place otherwise you will be disappointed, as were some Americans who turned up on the day only to be told it was fully booked. Needless to say they were not happy. 

We were happy however as we had booked. It always pays to do your research for these kind of things. Normally when we book somewhere we usually buy the Lonely Planet travel guide to go with the trip. It serves as a nice feature on our bookshelf, a reminder of all of the different places we have been lucky enough to visit. In addition to that I try and read as many reviews as I can online. Some you have to take with a (big) pinch of salt, but generally you get a good idea. 

Not only did we book to go inside the Sagrada Familia but also up to one of the two towers for a birds eye view of the Barcelona skyline. We opted for the Nativity Tower which is the older section and we were not disappointed. Breathtaking views of a very pretty city. 
Gaudi’s work is very unusual. It’s possibly a bit like Marmite, you either love it or hate it. Laura wasn’t generally keen on some of his other architecture in the city, she said it looked like someone had vomited over it! I laughed at first but the problem with something like Gaudi and his style is, is just because it is so different and everyone says you have to go and see it and almost enjoy it, doesn’t mean to say you should. Yes, I would absolutely advise anyone travelling to Barcelona to see the Sagrada Familia, but I probably wouldn’t bother with any of the other Gaudi places unless you were really into it. 

The Sagrada Familia is quite a spectacle both inside and out. I felt it looked like one of those gingerbread houses you buy from Aldi where you can snap a tower off and bite into it. I probably wouldn’t, it’s taken years to construct this place and even now they are not sure when it will be finished. Maybe 2026 – 100 years after Gaudi’s death (he started working on it when he was 31!) 

Inside it is wonderful. The way it has been designed to reflect the seasons and the colours of the stained glass windows of blue, green, orange and red look beautiful regardless of the time of day. I suspect first thing in the morning when the sun rises, and in the evening when it sets are particularly special. An audio guide is included in the tour and contains lots of information. I use to be against audio guides, why I am not sure. Maybe you had to pay extra for them? But they are great at blocking out other sounds as well as getting information I can sometimes be too lazy to read. The best audio guide ever was Alcatraz. Everyone has one as standard and the atmosphere it creates because there is no talking is brilliant. 

Lisboa and the craft beer revolution

We decided on a city break at the start of the year. Well, initially it wasn’t going to be a city, initially it wasn’t even going to be a break. After making the momentous decision to replace the bathroom in the summer, we felt we probably shouldn’t be going anywhere at all, however, this proves hard to do when you are sitting in the glumness that is post Christmas and new year blues and what seems like a lifetime of early dark nights.

I had received an email from #lonelyplanet that had stated ‘a craft beer revolution in Lisbon’. This had immediately appealed to us. A short break and flight time that includes beer? Craft beer at that? Where do we book?

Well, unfortunately, Ryanair for a start. The problem with this airline is that in terms of prices, no other carrier comes close. I dislike Ryanair for so many reasons that I won’t bore you with now but had I have had a choice to fly with someone else, I would have done.

So, the flights were (very) cheap. Something like £170 return for the both of us. The accommodation was cheap too. We did some quick research on where to stay and found a company called Portugal Ways Conde Barao Apartments that appeared to be placed in a really convenient part of town. These were also really well priced at about £200 for Monday-Friday. In addition to the apartment, we were offered a connection service from the same company which meant that as well as picking us up and returning us to the airport, on the last day they would take our bags ahead of our flight meaning we didn’t have to drag our luggage around the cobbled streets – and, if you see the cobbled streets of Lisbon, you would be grateful for this!

I am sure that you can get a taxi to and from the airport (it is only 20 minutes max away from the centre of Lisbon) but as our flight didn’t get in until just short of midnight, it wasn’t something we wanted to mess about with.

We departed from Terminal 3 at #manchesterairport. Now, I wouldn’t usually bother writing about an airport terminal but I feel I need to mention this. Terminal 3 is great providing it is not busy. I understand that it is operated mainly by Ryanair and as a result of that, lots of people have their carry on luggage with them. Bare in mind, however, that it is also the smallest terminal and so lots of people with lots of baggage means only one thing: carnage. Thankfully we had booked into the airport lounge – the one good thing about Terminal 3. The views are fantastic, you literally sit on the runway and get to watch the planes take off and land, something which I really enjoy for some reason.

Anyway, back to Lisbon. We checked into our apartment with ease. I understand some reviews on #tripadvisor claim this wasn’t an easy thing to do but we really had no trouble whatsoever. The code to get into the apartments and our actual room was emailed to us several days in advance (I did have to pay a city tax as well) and hey presto! It worked. Our room was spacious and very clean. It did overlook a construction site and again, this has received some criticism from people who have stayed there. I can understand why but if I am honest, you would be hard pressed to stay in Lisbon where construction isn’t taking place at the moment. There is investment everywhere. Old apartment blocks are being renovated all over the city and I can imagine in a couple of years time it will be even more wonderful than it is at the moment.

We arrived late on the Monday night, so we didn’t get to explore any of the city until the next day. The first thing we encountered was the #timeout market, something that wasn’t mentioned in our travel guide strangely enough. Needless to say, we might not have discovered the place unless we were staying nearby. The Time Out Market is attached to a massive fruit, vegetable and fish market. Had we not have been short on time i.e. staying longer, I am sure we would have bought some fresh produce here and made our own food. They had so much on offer, we would not have been disappointed.

Walk into the Time Out market and it is this huge courtyard of various different eating houses. There is something for everyone. We returned later on on the Tuesday when it was far busier than when I took this photo!


Beyond this, we walked up to a place called Principe Real. This is a steep walk (as most of Lisbon is) but worth it for the view. A stunning 360 degree aspect of the city and as we had really good weather for the time of year that we went (an unseasonal 23 degrees) then this only enhanced what we could see. Clear blue skies and dazzling sunshine that swept across the ceramic tiled buildings.

At Miradouro Sao Pedro de Alcantara, there is a little market. It sells things from tiles to handbags from freshly squeezed lemonade to sangria. Obviously, we stopped and sampled both. It would be rude not to!


From this viewpoint, you can clearly see other areas of the city. We decided to aim towards the Carmo Convent, a former Roman-Catholic convent. Again, another steep climb but again, another spectacle at the top with a fabulous back drop.

We started to learn more about Lisbon, probably stuff we should have read about before, like the city it used to be before the massive earthquake destroyed most of it’s buildings and nearly a third of it’s people. We felt quite ashamed that we hadn’t done more research but having said that, it’s wonderful to immerse yourself in history sometimes and enjoy it and understand whilst you are there.


Having had an iWatch for Christmas, I was able to track our ‘walking progress’. There wasn’t a single day where we didn’t hit over 1000 calories burned. Yes, Lisbon is a city where the attractions and sites are close together, but it does involve some climbing.

Public transport is very cheap. There is the famous 28 tram that still operates through the city, but there is also a good bus and train service. On the day we decided to walk to Belem, we caught the train back costing us only three euros. It is a bit disheartening though. A walk that takes you most of the morning, can be achieved in a five minute train journey on the way back!

The walk out to Belem is particularly nice. Mainly because it is flat and when you have spent what feels like your entire life climbing a cobbled street, you really appreciate a tarmac pavement!

Along the waterfront is another up and coming area. Bars are starting to creep up along the way, as well as some places to eat and the views, again, are really great. The Golden Gate styled 25 de Abril Bridge (incidentally, I don’t know if it is styled on the Golden Gate but it certainly reminds me of it) is the constant feature along this path as is the Christ the King Statue. Both of these landmarks can be seen from any viewpoint in the city and they look particularly special lit up at night.


Belem is worth a trip if only for the little delights on the way. We came across this attraction in addition to this statue. Another idea of what to expect from Lisbon. I felt that there was a real mixture of old and new and both had been executed really well. It was all tastefully done and a real compliment.

I could talk about Lisbon all day. I wish I hadn’t written this retrospectively and had completed it as and when I had experienced all of these different things like I have done previously. You live and learn.

A couple of other important things to mention. Walking around the city walls probably involves a queue but is well worth it. We took in the sunset over a couple of roof top bars mainly Noobai in Bairro Alto, which even if it isn’t open there is a great public space that people seem to flock to to enjoy the view. We also went to another recommended place called Le Chat, which is like a glass cubed cafe that boasts more great views (and great white sangria).

We also went to a coffee house called Hello, Kristof which, if like me you enjoy really good coffee in a contemporary atmosphere, then this is well worth a visit. As is the salmon on toast.

And finally – the craft beer revolution I hear you say? Well, yes, that was our initial plan but fortunately Lisbon had a lot more to offer than craft beer. We did seek out some gems of places but we literally ran out of time. That must mean we will have to return one day soon!



Beer o clock in the South West

Described as a desert in terms of real ale and craft ale, I wasn’t expecting too much from my Cornwall adventure. 

As described in my previous blog, the Bolingey Inn was ok but, if like us, you’ve had the opportunity to drink lots of great craft beers, St Austell, which is so widely available everywhere anyway, isn’t want you always want a pint of. Apologies if people disagree. 

I did a bit of research and read about a place called #driftwoodspars in St Agnes. It was described as having its own micro brewery which was a big tick from the start. It also had lovely views of the beach and a great selection of different beers, as well as being dog friendly. We tasted their Bawden Rocks, a 3.8% golden hoppy beer. Very nice. They had plenty more that we couldn’t sample due to driving, buT definitely worth a return visit. 

Up next was a place called the Water Front in Perranporth. I had seen a sign advertising #blackflagbrewery on the outside and felt it was worth an investigation. The Watering Hole is the famous bar in Perranporth, sitting a near perfect spot on the actual beach. However, don’t dismiss the Water Fromt, it has a beer garden and also great views. It’s family and dog friendly but had a lively atmosphere when we were in. 

It was here that we discovered Black Flag. I can’t actually write the name of the beer as it was tricky to pronounce and remember to spell! It was a nice pale ale, almost like an American pale at 4% on draught. Absolutely lovely.

When I typed in Black Flag on Facebook, I discovered two other pubs that stocked their beers. One was the Lamp and Whistle in Penzance and the other was the No 5 Alehouse in Newquay, two places we both intended to visit. Bonus!

Just to clarify we did do other things in Cornwall other than drink beer! I promise! 

Penzance is a funny old place. The largest town in Cornwall and somewhere stuck I between being a bit of a mess and actually quite nice. Lots of new shops/buildings mixed in with vintage and art. 

The Lamp and Whistle is on a back street not far from Market Jew Street. It’s been wonderfully renovated but unfortunately does not allow dogs in, which is quite bizarre for that kind of back street boozer and even more so in Cornwall, where dogs are allowed everywhere, including shops and cafes. So we sat outside but drank great beer all the same. Not Black Flag this time but a great American pale. 

Onto the wonderful No 5 Brewhouse in Newquay, which is a place that, in my opinion, has improved enormously. The new Brewhouse is on the Crescent, which has a great location near Towan Beach. I would say a lot of money has been on this new pub but it looks incredible with some original features maintained. We drank 2/3, which is what they serve of Black Flag’s Five Fingers, which was outstanding. Beavertown was also on the menu as well as three other craft beers. Impressive, as was the food. Fresh and very tasty. Well worth a visit. 

Wax, on Watergate Bay has long been a favourite haunt of ours due to its breathtaking location. This also has three hand pumps on of  Skinners brewery. 

We discovered on our penultimate night that the local off licence as all of these local breweries in and more, Corkscrew in Perranporth. I can’t believe it’s been until now that we have realised this. Fantastic choice proving that the South West is not a real ale or craft beer desert just yet. 

#no5alehouse #visitnewquay #waxwatergate #drftwoodspars #skinnersbrewery #waterfront #blackflagbrewery #corkscrew 

Wild seas, salty lips, sandy toes, white surf, sea spray, hidden coves … Cornwall.

After having this holiday booked for nearly twelve months, at times it felt like it would never come around, but at the same time you don’t want to wish time away. 

We wanted a holiday where we could take Ruby (how times have changed) and so we chose Cornwall for that reason. We decided to head towards the North Coast as that’s where the most dog friendly beaches are, especially in the summer when they change the rules due to the amount of families (I assume). It’s also where Laura and I both hold many fond memories. We’ve visited Newquay together in the past and knew of its reputation, so we decided to stay in Perranporth. It has three miles of a dog friendly beach and the cottage we found had spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. Perfect.

Providing the weather would be OK. Fortunately it was. Not many times you can say that about England! 

So our cottage was a true find. A converted barn called White Horses, attached to another property but private all the same. Only one bedroom but more than big enough for the two of us – and Ruby! Outside it had a lovely decking area with a summer house that overlooked the beach at Perranporth and a view that would provide us with spectacular sunsets in the evenings. 

About a mile from the beach, perhaps not even that, there was a nice country path walk down to the sea. In the other direction was a place called Bolingey, where we were directed to a pub, which funnily enough we decided to visit on our first night. 

The Bolingey Inn. We often put our trust in the Lonely Planet guides and therefore invested in their Devon and Cornwall edition. It was published in 2014 and a lot can happen in two years, such as the recent boom in the craft beer industry, which would probably be mentioned in a more recent version. The Bolingey Inn was ok but I didn’t think it was particularly special. We’ve been so spoilt for good pubs and beer in Stoke/Newcastle that a local pub serving Doom Bar is just a bit disappointing. The locals seemed to like it though and it definitely had a good crowd.

Perranporth is family orientated and for that it’s brilliant. It’s got a great location for all of the areas of Cornwall that we enjoy. The Watering Hole bar that is literally on the beach has a wonderful location. It’s busy but provides a good atmosphere. We stopped there on the way back from walking Ruby.

The beach at Perranporth is dog friendly all year round, meaning we can let Ruby run to her hearts content for as long as she wants. There is an area where leads are recommended but beyond that there is a huge stretch of beach. Walking up and down it can easily be a good hour. 

More to come, including St Ives, Newquay, Penzance and Padstow. We’ve covered it all! 

#perranporth #cornwall #wateringhole

From home to Frome

We decided on this holiday nearly twelve months ago after acquiring our Cockapoo, Ruby. Pre-Ruby I worried that I would never be able to go on holiday ever again because I feared we would never find a dog sitter. Post-Ruby I worry about going on holidays that don’t involve her. I need not have worried about the dog sitter part, people are queuing up to do that!

So we booked a week in Cornwall initially and then decided we wanted to see Stonehenge and Glastonbury, so we did for the first time ever an Air BnB and added an extra two days onto our holiday. We had heard about Air BnB through friends and decided to give it a try. We literally looked at a map and picked a midway point between Glastonbury and Salisbury, home of Stonehenge. Frome appeared to be a sensible choice and it looked quirky. 

The Air BnB we have is a basement apartment at the bottom of what looks like a really old building. It’s within a ten minute walk to the town centre. Frome is very pretty, full of independent shops and home to the monthly Frome Independent – a local artisan market. Unfortunately it takes place on the first Sunday of every month and we won’t have the opportunity to see it. Like most markets, they all seem to take place on either the first or last weekend of a month. Very rarely do you get an event that’s on ‘the second to last Sunday of the month’. 

After we checked in, we headed into town in search of a pub, which is very unusual for us (quite clearly a joke). I wanted to try out Milk Street Brewery and their tap, The Griffin, but it was closed. Well, it opened at 5pm and it was half past four … Only kidding. We went in search of somewhere called the Cheese and Grain, which appeared to be a music venue as well as a craft centre. They also sold Milk Street beers, but not until 6pm! We were thirsty and desperate at this point so we settled for another arts centre called the Black Swan, on the basis that they sold beer in bottles.  

We intend to return to the Cheese and Grain, determined to sample Milk Street beer but when we got there, we were told that the bar still wasn’t open. ‘What time does it open?’ I asked. ‘Six’ she replied. ‘What time is it now?’ I queried. ‘Three minutes past six. But nobody has turned up to open it.’ She looked across in hope at the empty car park, clearly wanting a bar tender to suddenly appear. They didn’t. We left.

It was clearly a blessing in disguise as around the corner we discovered The River Cafe with a lovely view of the River Frome, and, you guessed it – beer! Although still no Milk Street but we settled for some good crafts instead. 

The following day we headed out to Stonehenge. Laura did her research: you have to pay to get in and dogs aren’t  allowed. Perhaps not quite what we needed to hear. However, we read about a back road where you could drive past and see it from a distance. The problem is the road gets very busy as people stop and slow down to view. I am glad we didn’t make the effort to go up close because not only was it chucking it down at this point, but they were not at all what I expected. Laura first thought she had spotted the stones, when in actual fact it was some hay bales stacked in an opposite field! We laughed and then realised they were in front of us and really … Small. Almost insignificant and yes, we were some distance away but not that far and nothing that would make us want to return. 

Glastonbury Tor on the other hand was outstanding. Free and absolutely stunning. You can see three counties from the top, although it’s pretty windy s would advise the tying up of hair, otherwise you won’t see a thing. It’s a steep climb and there were a few ‘spirited’ people about, but it’s well worth the walk. Ruby got accosted by a hippie carrying a bow and arrow. I had nipped back to the car and would t have believed it had I nothave spotted him in a nearby field.

We visited Wells during the afternoon as well. Another worthwhile place to see. The smallest city in the country but with a wonderful cathedral. 

Looking forward to Perranporth tomorrow! 

Singapore Sling

So it’s been a good few years since we did a really long flight. We’ve been to the States recently (NYC) and Europe, and those flights are no more than seven hours. Needless to say I was a little apprehensive about flying all the way to Perth, Australia for my brother in law’s wedding with #singaporeairlines.

I shouldn’t have been. When we boarded the plane at Manchester Airport, I couldn’t tell it was in a different class to other airlines. As always, I had done some research regards Singapore Airlines and I knew the statistics, not just for safety but also for customer service.

The plane looked luxurious – even in economy! Ok, maybe a slight exaggeration! But even so, it made my Ryanair flight to Ibiza last year look sub standard! No surprise there.

The air hostesses were dressed, as Laura described them, as ‘Singapore Princesses’ and they were delightful. Nothing was too much trouble – regardless of the time of day or night.

Our first destination was Munich where we were to get off the plane (admittedly this isn’t what we had been told at booking) whilst it was cleaned and then board ready to go onto Singapore. About 11 hours of flying in total.

About four hours into the flight and the sun started to set. I don’t particularly like flying at night but on a journey covering this distance you can’t really avoid it. I kept checking the progress of our flight as we crossed a multitude of different countries. Singapore Airlines had a very good interactive service in the back of each seat, meaning we could watch a variety do different films. There were literally hundreds – almost too much choice. I settled into the relatively recent release, ‘Brooklyn’ before going back to an old classic, ‘Dirty Dancing’ where I went back to Kellerman’s mountain in the summer of 1963 for about the hundredth time.

We had been given a menu highlighting all of our different food options for the entirety of the flight (including Singapore to Perth). I started with minced beef and ginger rice. It was without doubt the best airplane food I had ever eaten. Mind you, I like Asian food so this was always going to be a winner. Drinks were plentiful and before you knew it, I was relaxed and drifting off to sleep – something which I am never able to do on a plane.

We experienced a prolonged amount of turbulence as we flew over Iran. I wasn’t aware of this at the time and that was probably for the best. I am not sure I would have appreciated an emergency landing there! Already I can’t hear people say, ’emergency landing – for turbulence?’ But that’s how I view turbulence. Every flying expert under the sun can tell me a thousand times how safe it is to fly through various air bubbles or whatever, but I still feel like we will plummet from the sky or lose a wing whenever we experience it! Let me hope this is never the case.

As soon as we were through the worst of it, the captain turned off the seat belt sign and I returned to normality. Breakfast was soon served and I woke up just in time to land in the morning in Singapore. It looked delightful as we came in to land and made me realise how much of the world I want to go on and see. Unfortunately, seeing Singapore wouldn’t happen on this visit as we didn’t have the time. We would have a little over an hour in the airport before we continued on to our final destination, Perth.

All in all, a fabulous start to our holiday. The fact that it was raining when we landed in Australia is another story. Maybe we inadvertently took the English weather with us on the plane when we left the UK?


How not to climb a mountain

When we arrived in Rhodes, I was very much aware that there was no beach near our hotel, not even within walking distance. Although I am not a massive fan of the beach (there’s too much sand) Laura is.

We originally intended to go to Faliraki beach, as I had been before and felt it was relatively nice. However we were persuaded to go to Tsambici beach as apparently it was one of the top 10 beaches in the world? I had previously never heard of it!

En route, the coach driver was going to take us to a natural reserve called 7 Springs. In true Greek style, when I say take us, he literally did just that. Dropped us off on a dusty roadside and pointed up to the side of a hill (mountain) and said ‘walk that way’. He gave us no idea how far up it was, how long it would take. The only bit of information we had was that we had an hour there. He said the bus would remain we’re it was parked but as soon as we got off, he drove off!

So up the mountain we climbed, in flip flops. Had I have had any idea about the terrain I was going to encounter, I wouldn’t have worn flip flops. It was red hot and between us we had no drink or watch (having left these on the bus). Laura, in her true style was standing close to the edges of said mountain taking photos.

After about ten minutes we reached the reserve. It was very nice, a few ducks swam on the water. There was a cafe at the top and people were dipping their feet in the cool water. This was despite a sign saying ‘don’t go into the water, it is for drinking’. Might think twice before I buy that mineral water in a supermarket because there were about 400 tourists paddling in this natural spring.

On the way back we had the option of going through a tunnel. Again there was water involved. Basically it involved you walking through an underground tunnel in the dark. Plenty of people were doing it and Laura started twice but each time came back saying she didn’t like it.

Now Laura is VERY competitive and she was not at all happy with herself for not being able to go through with it. She sat, depressed on top of a rock and was miserable. I soon had enough of this and declared I was going to do whether she was going to join me or not.

What a mistake. I have never felt so sick in all my life and I couldn’t believe I had voluntarily put myself in this situation. Laura had joined me. This tunnel was fit for a hobbit. Not very wide and not at all tall, there was also water flowing around our feet. You could not see a thing in front of you or behind. There was no way of getting out unless you went forward. I had a complete panic attack. Laura kept trying to take pictures with the camera so that the flash could provide us with some form of direction but by doing this she ended up losing a flip flop on the way.

It was about 200 metres long in total but it felt like 200 miles. Little children were doing it and all sorts, how I will never know.

Another beach, another incident

Tsambici beach was ultimately very nice. Clear water, very shallow, sand and not rocks. Lovely.

For those that previously read about my experience on a beach in Malibu, you will know that there was an incident about me attempting to get out of the sea. Basically I almost got washed out and lost half of my skin in the process.

How I managed a similar event on this calm, Mediterranean Sea is beyond me. Even though it was shallow, there was quite a steep drop getting in and out of it. I had mastered it the first couple of times but on the third, when I was with Laura, I just couldn’t do it. Every time I tried another wave came and pushed me over. At one point the wave had such force it knocked me right off my feet and all you could see was my hat floating on the surface. Laura said she was at the stage of laughing hysterically but border lining thinking ‘she may actually drown’.

Eventually she pulled me out and I was saved, thank God.


Just a final, slightly strange note. Sugar sachets in Greece are all a bit odd. We keep having these ones with our drink at breakfast. Basically it’s about a person who is obsessed with coffee. They keep going out for dates with Mary and Tom and drinking coffee. They also love Sunday mornings where they ‘leap out of bed and run downstairs to make a coffee’. None of it makes sense. Bizarre!