Friday, 19 May 2017

Planning A City Break

 After writing a post on how to save money on city breaks, it's time to share my planning process for those breaks. As I've spoken about before, sometimes planning and preparing for an event can be just as exciting as the event itself which is why I love getting stuck in and planning my trip before I head off. Not only does it build excitement for when you go, it also means you get a lot more out of your travels too, and you can really plan to see the things you want to!

How can you get from A to B? Including, how do you get to the centre from the airport?

This is definitely something I like to consider before heading off to a new country, especially if I know I am going to be arriving late at night. There is nothing worse than landing somewhere new and not knowing how to get to where you want to go. This is also another way to save some money! You can research the best options and the cheapest too. For example, I saved probably $100 dollars in New York, all because we got the train to the city centre and not a taxi.

What do you want to see?

Before I head off somewhere new, I love to read up on the things I can see in that place. I usually get a travel guide but another place I love to look is other blogs. It's nice to read about a place from someone else's point of view, and you never know what tips you may find that a travel guide doesn't include. One of the benefits of reading a travel guide before I go, is that it helps me to understand the background of a place I am visiting. Often I wouldn't know what I know had I not read up before my visit.

Where do you want to eat?

Food is definitely high up on the list of reasons why I travel. Researching and planning a few places where I might like to eat before I go is something I always do. I've found some gems by doing this; for example Pizzarium in Rome. If you're also on a budget, having a little look at how much you are likely to be spending on food will be a huge help when it comes to working out how much money you need to take with you.

A little bit of History and culture!

At school, I always enjoyed history and part of the reason I go to new places is to learn a bit more about the history and culture of a place. This is why I love reading up on the cities before I go, so that I can know the basic history of a place and be able to put it into context when I finally arrive. I usually turn to either my Marco Polo, or Lonely planet guides for this one as I find they are detailed without being too much!

These are the things I do before every single trip to ensure that I make the most of my city breaks. Whilst it's good to have some spontaneity whilst you are exploring a new city, I always need to know the basics so I know that I will enjoy the trip and not stress about everything whilst I'm there. 

How do you plan for a city break?

Friday, 12 May 2017

Travel Expenses | Warsaw

 I recently tweeted about my bargain deal to Warsaw, Poland, and the response I got was pretty amazing. Some of the comments prompted me to write a blog post on how I got such a good deal. I'll admit that quite a lot of it was luck, but equally I do spend time researching my city breaks which really helps. If you want to know more about how I save money on city breaks in general, I wrote a post which you can find here.

If you are looking for a city break that won't break your bank, Warsaw is the city for you! 

The exchange rate we recieved was £1 to 4.72PLN.

Hotel - £74 each - Our hotel, the Sofitel Victoria Warsaw was an absolute gem. It was the first 5* we had stayed in, and it was pretty amazing. We had a swimming pool, and upon arrival we recieved a free upgrade! Whilst you could probably get cheaper in Warsaw, at this price we had to go for the 5* experience. As always, I used!

Flights - £69.34 each - You can't argue with this price for return flights. We flew with Ryanair into Warsaw Modlin airport. We had good flight times (early there, late back) so we could make the most of our trip! My favourite website for finding cheap flights is skyscanner.

Airport Transfers - £8.05 - Whilst I should have done a bit more research before going, the transport to and from the airport was easier than initially thought - and so cheap! It didn't take too long, and I always enjoy using public transport in a different country. So much more exciting than just "getting a cab"!

Food and Drink - £50.08 - this included four meals out, snacks whilst we were there and drinks including a beer on the first night which is definitely very affordable!

Souvenirs - £3.81 - whilst we didn't buy much, I got some sweets for work, and a couple of gifts for my grandparents and parents! This is definitely much more reasonable than most other European cities I have visited.

Tourist Attractions - £1.06 - we spent so little on tourist attractions because we only had to pay to go up a tower in the old town. The Warsaw Uprising museum was free on Sundays, and obviously wandering the streets was free too! If there is something I want to see, I will always look to see if they offer a day for free/a discount so I can keep my travels affordable.

We had a lovely stay in Warsaw, and I'd definitely recommend the city if you are on a budget. You really can't complain about a long weekend in a different country costing you less than £210 - in fact, it cost me just over £206. There's enough to see, without you worrying about not being able to fit everything in. It really was the perfect weekend away!

Have you ever been to Warsaw? Did you find it as affordable as I did?

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

April In Numbers

April has been a very fast, and very busy month! I've been super busy at work, which has been making the weeks absolutely fly past. I ended the month with a city break to Warsaw which I have been looking forward to since booking it at the start of the year! Whilst the end of the month wasn't much to shout about weather wise, we have seen a bit more sunshine which has been gorgeous. Who doesn't love sitting out in the sunshine?

2 meals out with the grandparents - I am incredibly lucky to have, and be very close to, all four of my lovely grandparents. I've enjoyed catching up with them in April!

1 new car - After a year and a half of my little Nissan Micra, it was time for a bit of an update. I treated myself to a Mini One and I have a working radio, air con and cup holders! It's been a great change.

books read. I read half of two books, and four fulls books in April. I read 'The Storyteller' by Jodi Picoult, and whilst it was terribly sad, I'd really recommend it. Reading is one of the things I adore doing so it's nice to have been able to read loads of books!

2 weekends away with my first being a trip back to Canterbury to visit my friend Mary. I always love going back and we had such a fun weekend! Then we headed to Warsaw which was amazing. Watch this space - there'll be a post coming soon!

10 posts on instagram. After a day of blogging with Mapped Out Blog, I had loads of stock images for my instagram and I'm pretty pleased with how they have turned out. I need to have more days like this!

How has April been for you? What have you been up to?

Friday, 28 April 2017

2017 Travels

 One of my favourite feelings in the world is that feeling you get when you arrive in a new city to explore. You're full of the hope of the unexpected, and excited for all of the new things you are going to experience over the next few days. 2016 was a great year for me, full of that feeling. I explored 6 new cities; none of which I had ever been to before, and all of which I ended up loving!

 I'm hoping for more of the same in 2017. Whilst I might not make it to 6 completely new destinations, I already have 4 trips on the cards. Booking a city break, or holiday, gives me something to look forward to, and something to focus on. I love knowing that I will be pounding the streets of a foreign country with a travel guide in hand soaking up the culture (and hopefully some sunshine too!).

Warsaw, Poland

Dan and I are heading to Warsaw, Poland this bank holiday weekend. I'm so excited to explore a city that is in Poland! Warsaw has such an interesting, and incredibly upsetting, history but I am looking forward to learning more and paying my respects to those who fought so bravely in the Warsaw uprising. On a lighter note, I cannot wait to eat Pierogi and explore the old town.

Valencia, Spain

Valencia is my first destination in May. Dan and I are off for three days of sun and sangria at the end of May. Spain is a country I love, and I'm really excited to explore the third largest city! There's just something about Spanish cities that brings out a sense of love and excitement in me so I cannot wait to explore some more!

Stockholm, Sweden

Also at the end of May, is a trip to Stockholm. I'm jetting off with my friend from uni, Mary. On the itinerary is definitely the ABBA museum. I've never been to a nordic country so I'm excited to explore somewhere completely off my radar! Gamla Stan looks so enchanting so I'm really looking forward to exploring the old medieval town.

Prague, Czech Republic

My Dad and I are heading to Prague for four days in August. I'm so excited to explore the capital of the Czech Republic, it's been on my travel wishlist for ages. I've heard such good things about the city, so I'm looking forward to wandering through the Old Town and walking across the Charles Bridge. We'll obviously have to sample the local bevvies as well!

Where are you hoping to go this year?

Friday, 21 April 2017

Work Wardrobe Staples

 In January I started a new job that doesn't have a work uniform which initially filled me with dread at the thought of having to daily choose my own outfits. Surprisingly though, it's been a breeze and there hasn't been one day which I have struggled to find something to wear! It's down to having some work wardrobe staples which I can work and turn to make plenty of different outfits.

The Print Trouser

My absolute faves are a gorgeous navy blue pair from Warehouse with squiggles on them. I picked them up in the January sales, not being entirely sure about them, but knowing I would need a work wardrobe soon. They are my ultimate staple; so comfortable but also looking smart for office wear. I'm yet to find a pair I love as much as these!

The High Neck Jumper

I love a high neck item of clothing, and a black high neck jumper is a staple for wearing with printed trousers. It's comfortable, warm but also perfect for the office as well. I don't have many skirts for work, but this is definitely something I could wear with a skirt for work too!

The Little Black Dress

My little black dress for work is a Zara t-shirt dress that my Mum picked up for me in the sale for a bargain £5.99. It's an appropriate length, and is definitely smart enough when you pair it with the right accessories. I've never been much of a jewellery person but since working in an office, I have been wearing them daily to jazz up a plainer outfit and make the same outfit look different!

The Patterned Dress

I really do love a good pattern; especially for work. I think that they are a great way to brighten up your clothes and can also look really smart too. I have picked up a couple of these dresses now, and they all make great additions to my work wardrobe, especially when I fancy wearing something a bit brighter.

What are your work wardrobe staples?

Thursday, 13 April 2017

Cambridge | The Traveller's Rest Beefeater

 When the email dropped into my inbox, I was instantly excited to visit The Traveller's Rest Beefeater in Cambridge. I'm always looking for new places to try and I was really excited to see what this newly refurbished Beefeater had to offer.

Situated not far from the city centre, The Traveller's Rest is the perfect place for a family dinner. It was spacious and modern whilst also feeling very homely, which I really love in a restaurant. The modern interior creates a real sense of being able to relax and enjoy the meal which we certainly did.

As we arrived a little early, we settled into the bar with a diet pepsi (unlimited, my favourite kind of pepsi!) each and the menu to peruse. We'd arrived a little early due to our previous appointment finishing sooner than we had expected but we were happy to wait in the spacious bar. It wasn't long before our table was ready which was a good job because we were both starving, especially as the food smelt so good.

Photo Credit: Beefeater

We were led to our table which was tucked away near the kitchen which I really liked. You felt the buzz of the restaurant but it also felt private enough so you could really enjoy your company which can sometimes be difficult in chain restaurants because of how close you are to other tables. In The Traveller's Rest, this was far from the case and it was something both Dan and I really liked about the restaurant.

Photo Credit: Beefeater

 For our starter, we ordered The Beefeater Sharing Platter. We wanted to order something so we could try a variety of different dishes, and we were so pleased we did! For £10.99 you get a huge selection of different starters from minced pork and beef kofta to breaded crispy flat cap mushrooms. Each of the separate dishes were delicious, and Dan was so pleased as we'd finally found a sharing platter we would both like. 

Whilst we both felt very full, we eagerly awaited our mains. Dan had ordered the steak, whilst I opted for the paprika chicken! The thing that excited us both the most though, was the fact that our meals were served with triple cooked chips. Even better? Beefeater are offering customers UNLIMITED triple cooked chips. Whilst we were too full to take full advantage of this amazing deal, we'll definitely save ourselves next time so we can order some more. They were, as triple cooked chips always are, delicious!

The Traveller's Rest is the perfect restaurant for a family meal. With it's modern and relaxed feel, it's the ideal place to celebrate a grandparent's birthday, or for a weekend treat. Having never been to a Beefeater before, I was so impressed and I'll definitely be going back for another meal - hopefully with more of my family in tow!

Have you ever been to a Beefeater?

I was kindly given a voucher to pay for our meal at the Beefeater, in exchange for a feature on my blog. 

Friday, 7 April 2017

The Library | March

 My challenge for 2016 was to read wider variety of different books, to explore different genres which I really enjoyed. My challenge this year is to read one book a week, or the equivalent of one a week so my total of books read this year is 52. I love reading, but sometimes opt to spend hours scrolling aimlessly through social media instead of just picking up a book, so this challenge was set to help me combat that and get through some more books!

That Girl From Nowhere - Dorothy Koomson

 Dorothy Koomson is brilliant. I've read a couple of her books now, and they have all been so good! I love the fact that they all have different and interesting twists to them. The storyline to this book was really gripping, but I did find that in some areas it lacked the emotion I expect to feel alongside the dramatic storyline. I'm not too sure that makes sense but I expected myself to feel a lot more emotional about the things that were happening in the novel! Despite this, I'd still really recommend it.

The Dynamite Room - Jason Hewitt

The Dynamite Room
was a chance find when I went to Rochester, and went through the vast amount of charity book shops. I picked it up, liked the sound of the blurb and brought it home with me! I really enjoyed this read, especially as it was a little different to the books I usually read. The storyline was quite out there, but I liked the fact that the novel focused on two main characters with flash backs to their past and how they ended up in their unique situation.

Who Do You Love - Jennifer Weiner

I devoured this book by Jennifer Weiner. It's a love story through and through, and a lovely one at that. I felt really invested in the characters, and liked the fact that this was a realistic love story with highs and lows unlike many of the stories you read which are all unrealistically perfect. Who Do You Love is one of those books that you really can't put down because you want to know what happens so much!

The Notebook - Nicholas Sparks

I started reading this book a while ago but didn't really get into it (probably because it was around my birthday so I had lots of new books catching my eye!). This time around though, I have loved it. It's a truly beautiful love story, despite being terribly sad too. It's quite a short read so perfect for fitting in around work and life!

The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

Whilst this was a slightly haunting read, to say the least, it was definitely very interesting and I'm pleased I read it! The United States of America is now the Republic of Gilead and women are treated very differently. The story follows Offred, who is a handmaid. A woman who is taken into the home of The Commander to bear his children as he and his wife cannot. Offred's story is terribly sad, but it's was definitely an interesting read too!

Who's That Girl - Mhairi McFarlane

I adored this book by Mhairi. It was hilarious, and heart-warming and if you read one book this month, make it this one. The characters came alive to me, and I really liked that because sometimes it can take a little while for you to connect with the characters. With the characters in Who's That Girl, I felt connected to them from page one.

What have you been reading recently?

Friday, 31 March 2017

March in Numbers

 March is always a good month for me. From a lot of family birthdays to the weather beginning to brighten, there's just something lovely about it, and this month was no exception! It was a superb month and I still cannot believe we area now heading into April. I'm especially loving the brighter evenings and warmer temperatures...

6 family birthdays! March is a heavy birthday month for Dan and I.

birthday celebrations. We headed down to Gillingham to spend a birthday weekend with my lovely sister. We also had a family birthday party for my Grandma, who turned 80 this year, as well as going out for a meal with Dan's family including his dad, sister and nan who all had birthdays this month.

1 day in London. I took my sister to the Skygarden and Icebar as her birthday present from Dan and I!

5 books read. I read quite a few different books this month, including The Handmaid's Tale which was a very interesting read to say the least.

1 holiday booked - I'm off to Prague in August with my Dad for four days. I'm really looking forward to exploring a new country, with my Dad in tow!

3 cinema trips. After the move, Dan and I were a bit slow getting back into the cinema! However, this month we went to see Kong: Skull Island, Hidden Figures and Beauty and the Beast.

How has March been for you?

Friday, 24 March 2017

€30 of Pizza

 When you think of Italy (when I think of Italy), Pizza and Pasta are a few of the things that enter your mind first. It was certainly are the forefront of my mind when my parents kindly booked Dan and I a trip to Rome for my 21st birthday. Italian food is one of my all-time favourites. We have a running joke in our family that we are "pasta-powered people" because we love it that much. My Grandad's mother had Italian blood, and a love of pasta and olive skin has been passed down the generations to myself. My love of Italian food, and Dan's manly metabolism left us to research places to eat extensively before we went.

Pizzarium, which is situated near the Vatican, was definitely high up on our list of places to try. A short walk away from the Vatican, it was the perfect pit-stop for two hungry explorers. We'd read about it in our travel guide, and I'd also seen it mentioned on various blog posts. My birthday present from my sister was some money for a meal out in Rome, and she gave me some recommendations for places to go - unsurprisingly Pizzarium cropped up again!

If there's one place you should go to for lunch in Rome, Pizzarium has got your back. I'm a very fussy eater, and actually don't eat cheese, so I was very impressed that they had pizza without it. It can be so difficult to find this, so it was great. They even had white pizza which doesn't have tomato sauce!

Whilst there isn't anywhere to sit, it's the perfect place to pop in for lunch and head back to the centre of Rome, pizza in hand. For us though, we found a space on the standing tables outside...just in case we wanted some more! Obviously, we did and THIRTY EUROS later, Dan was happy. Considering this was effectively take away pizza, and relatively priced, thirty euros was a lot of money for one boy to spend on pizza and it's probably one of my favourite memories from our trip to Rome!

If you're heading to Rome and looking for some of the best pizza, I would definitely recommend Pizzarium to you. Delicious, filling and reasonably priced - what more could you want!

Have you ever been to Pizzarium?

Saturday, 18 March 2017

London | The Sky Garden

 Last Sunday I took a trip up to London with my not so little sister to celebrate her 21st. I had pre-booked for us to go up to the Sky Garden on Fenchurch Street. A mere 5 minutes walk from London Liverpool Street, it was the perfect opportunity for us to pop to Petticoat lane before heading south towards the River, and the Sky Garden!

I had booked us a slot at 1.45pm as I wanted to miss the lunch rush, and it was a great time to have gone up despite the drizzly weather. We both agreed that it was great that it wasn't too crowded, as these tourist attractions tend to be stupidly crammed full of other people. The Sky Garden was much less crowded, and it was perfect to spend an hour wandering about the bright space enjoying the plants and the views of the city. We even braved the balcony and we were pleased that we managed to get out there, as they actually shut it whilst we were on it due to the weather!

The sky garden has such a chilled atmosphere, and Sarah and I loved wandering round looking at the gorgeous plants and enjoying this little burst of nature in the centre of London. I'd happily go up there with a book in hand and spend and hour curled up next to the huge glass windows with views of London surrounding me.

With gorgeous blankets draped on chairs, sitting down was more than inviting and we were both very impressed that we got a seat on every occasion t hat we wanted to sit down! There was a bar at either end of the Sky Garden so plenty of choice for food and drinks, you could even choose to eat in the restaurant which is in the centre of the building.

With handy signs are you walked around, you could spot key London landmarks or if you fancy learn a little more about the plants you are surrounded by! If you are visiting London from another country, I'd definitely recommend the Sky Garden because it's a great way to see some the London skyline on a budget, which is a must as a trip to London can be pricey! As it's free, all you have to do is book in advance. Whilst this can get booked up quickly, I booked our slot only three weeks in advance!

All in all, the sky garden was a perfect addition to our day out in London. We were both really impressed by the organisation and ease of our visit, not to mention the fact that it wasn't overcrowded. If you've not been before, add it to your list of things to do in London. You certainly won't regret it!

Have you ever been to the Sky Garden?

Friday, 3 March 2017

Why I'm Moving Out Of My Comfort Zone

 I'm not very brave. I don't harness myself to a piece of machinery, and jump off bridges. I've never been on a zip-wire, and I don't intend to. Swimming in the sea terrifies me, and being a passenger in a car can be really difficult sometimes. As much as I'd like to, I know I will never set off with my backpack in tow to sleep in hostels across the globe.

One thing I've decided, despite my lack of bravery, is that 2017 is going to be the year that I step out of my comfort zone, and start experiencing things that scared me before. I'm constantly worrying about everything, and I think the best way for me to break that cycle is to put myself in situations which will worry me, to show myself that it will be OK, and it will sort itself out.

Number one on the list was changing jobs. Moving jobs was something that always terrified me, and whilst I did enjoy my first job I wanted to do something more suited to my personality. It's been an incredibly quick process and I'm really excited about what's in store for me next. There were so many things worrying me about making that change but deep down I knew it was right for me. I went out of my comfort zone and something amazing happened!

We've also moved out! Dan and I moved back in with my parents in 2015 after finishing university. 18 months later, and we're renting our own little house about half an hour away. I'm so excited for this change, but also apprehensive. We've been so lucky to have the support we've had from my parents, and moving out is going to take us out of our comfort zone, but this is such an exciting change! It's time to start adulting...

2017 is the year that I am going to continue to step out of my comfort zone. Only two month in, and already two massive changes; both of which are exciting and new. I'm really looking forward to what else is in store for the rest of the year!

Are you ready to move out of your comfort zone?

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

February in Numbers

Following on from my first ever Month in Numbers post (you can read the January one here), it's time for the February episode. In comparison to January, February always flies by and this year was no exception. It's always a good month though because the evenings begin to get lighter and the spring air comes in which is always refreshing and promising! I've had a lovely, but extremely busy month so here's some of my highlights...

3 the number of iced buns I had from the local (incredible) bakery near my work (must. stop. doing. this!)

1 the amount of shows I was meant to see, but unfortunately didn't get to go to because of Storm Doris. My Sister and I were meant to take our Mum to see Wicked for her birthday. Here's hoping we can go in the next couple of months...

3 the approximate amount of times I blinked before February was over. It's been such a fast month!

2 visits from friends from Uni, which was so much fun! It's always good to get together and celebrate seeing each other after a little while.

1 night back at home with my parents which was both weird and lovely at the same time. I miss seeing both of them everyday, so it was nice to be back at home with them both!

5 books read in February. My favourite was by Katie Fforde - an author I've not read for a little while. I read her latest book, A Summer At Sea, and it was lovely, I'd definitely recommend it.

97 tweets, a huge change to normal. I've weirdly not been using my phone as much, which I guess is a good thing!

1 trip booked for May! We're off to Valencia for four days, and I am so excited. It's the third biggest city in Spain and I'm looking forward to visiting another Spanish city!

6 hours spent watching Catastrophe, which is hilarious. I'm looking forward to the next season coming out.

February has been a great month, but I'm looking forward to what March brings now, especially with the big family birthdays we have coming up. Here's to the lighter evenings!

What have you been up to this month?

Friday, 24 February 2017

Saving Money on City Breaks

 I like to think I'm quite good at finding deals on City Breaks. Having been on 7 since 2014 (with another 3 in the pipeline) I've perfected my routine when it comes to booking reasonable flights and hotels. So far this year, I've spent approx. £415 on six flights and accommodation for seven nights (ten days) in three different countries; I definitely can't complain at those prices! In fact, my friend actually asked me to help her find cheaper flights for an upcoming trip to Korea and somehow I managed to find some for her for £200 less.


I SWEAR by this website, and it is probably one of my most visited sites on the net. It sums up the cheapest flights for the route you want to take, and I love the fact you can search for the cheapest flights "everywhere" on a certain date. If you aren't too sure where you want to go, this is ideal for searching for nice and cheap destinations. is my favourite website to book accommodation with ever! After hearing a few horror stories about Air B'n'B, I'll be sticking with my beloved In the past I've found some insane deals, for example our hotel for Warsaw. A 5* hotel, near the city centre for £70 each for two nights. I couldn't even stay in a Travelodge in Canterbury for that little, I'm so down for that! Of course, the country you are staying with will make a difference, but when you consider I paid £70 for two nights in a hostel in Stockholm (yes, it's only 2*) you can't complain.


Booking accommodation leads me onto my next point; tripadvisor. No matter what I am booking, I will always just check it out on Tripadvisor as I like to know that the place I am going really is value for money. It's always worth knowing! It's also a great place to research the places you are hoping to visit.

Know your Stuff

Booking on a Tuesday is known to bring prices down, as well as shopping around. You can find such good deals. I'm also a huge advocate of going on holiday out of term time; I know how much the prices soar throughout the holidays and therefore try and avoid going away when the British public choose to holiday. Not only does it make the prices cheaper, it's nicer than having a crowded hotel!

Be Flexible

As I do not need to adhere to term times, being flexible allows me to get cheaper prices. If it is cheaper to go away in the week, and you have holiday to take; why not go for it! It would work out well in the long run, saving you money and ensuring that the tourist areas wouldn't be as busy; a win-win situation really!

No Luggage

If you're only going for a few days, save yourself a huge amount of money by only taking a carry-on bag with you. It can be SO expensive to book a suitcase, and most of the time you really aren't going to need the space. We have some great lightweight suitcases which fit so much in them, I couldn't love them more!

How do you save money on city breaks?

Friday, 17 February 2017

Podcasts | Top Picks for a Commute

 I recently changed jobs, which now takes me on a slightly longer journey to work than before which actually, I am loving. I can really get into my journey now, and listen to some fantastic podcasts which I have been enjoying so much! I haven't listened to music in the car for days now, and whilst I miss it a little, it's been great listening to some discussions which have been eye-opening and motivating as well.

Ctrl Alt Delete - Emma Gannon

I love listening to this one on my way to work; it's so inspiring. I love the people that Emma chooses to interview, and always arrive at work feeling challenged by what I've just listened to, in the best of ways. My favourite episode so far (ok, so it was two but they were linked!) are the ones where Cherry Healey interviews Emma herself. It was great! I love how Emma chooses people who do a wide range of things; from the internet famous, to those doing great things for charity.

Hey, It's OK - Glamour Magazine

I love Glamour Magazine, and especially love their Hey, It's OK section so when I saw that there was a podcast I knew I'd be listening to it. It's always funny and I always listen to something I feel very passionately about - for example the episode that Gi Fletcher was on it. I was literally screaming in agreement in my car about some of the things that were being discussed (namely, Gi is super possessive over her chargers, which is SO me!). The Glamour team are warm and funny, as they chat to some fantastic guests.

Letters To My Fanny - Cherry Healey

Cherry is someone I've always enjoyed listening to. I have watched some of her documentaries and was so happy when I came across her podcast. Her interview with Stacey Dooley was so inspiring, and I love that they were both supportive of each other, and understood exactly what the other person was trying to achieve with their work!

If you are looking for something to inspire you in the mornings, and to make your commute a bit different, I would definitely recommend listening to these podcasts. I've been really enjoying it, and it definitely gets my brain thinking in the mornings!

What are your favourite podcasts?

Friday, 10 February 2017

Why I Prefer Self-Catering On Trips

Self-catering is something I always seek out when booking a holiday. As I've only ever actually been all-inclusive once, it may seem a little peculiar to be writing about purposely not choosing to go all-inclusive but I just think there are so many benefits to booking a self-catering holiday. Now, I'm not saying that the only time I did do all inclusive wasn't amazing, but I just prefer having that choice. It's great if you want to save some money, and if you don't want the hassle of having to find somewhere reasonable to eat. Plus the unlimited ice creams are appealing when you're on holiday! Having said that, for me part of visiting a new country is to fully immerse myself in that culture and landscape. This is ultimately why I choose to book self-catering!

Food is a huge part of travel; it's much like languages in that you know when you go away you'll find something very different to what you experience at home. Even specific parts of my own country has different food choices! I love being able to sit down in the sunshine and try some food I've never had before. When I'm in Greece or Turkey, I love the fresh and delicious foods served; from gorgeous rice to perfectly done vegetables and meat. In Spain, you can't go wrong with sampling some Tapas and Churros. When in Rome, do as the Romans do and get yourself a hella big bowl of spaghetti. The chances are you can definitely get these foods in your all inclusive package; but can you rival sitting in the street next to the Trevi Fountain? Or eating dinner on a gorgeous beach in Turkey? I just don't think you can.

You can also experience different restaurants which can be so special too. I've been in some of the prettiest places to eat ever - rooftop restaurants in Lindos, a restaurant in the Mountains in Turkey and restaurants dotted across stunning beaches. I'd have missed out on eating in these places if I had gone all inclusive, so I feel pretty grateful that I decided not to. I also am aware that there is no binding contract to all inclusive, so you can go out if you want to. However, if I've paid more money to have it all there for me, the likelihood is is that I'm going to stay put!

I will undoubtedly do all inclusive again for ease, but for now you'll find me trawling the streets to find myself a traditional dish, and I can't wait already...

What do you think of All Inclusive?

Friday, 3 February 2017

A Week in New York

 New York is one of the best places I have visited so far; I absolutely fell in love with the city and am already hoping for another trip. New York is one of those cities that is everything you had hoped it would be, and so much more. It is somewhere I had imagined going for so long, and it definitely lived up to all of my expectations - even down to the steam coming from the drains in the roads.

Where We Stayed

You can find a more detailed review of our hotel here, but we stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott Hotel Manhattan/Central Park. It was one of the best priced hotels we found, and the views were insane. Placed between Times Square and Central Park, we could not have found a better place to stay!

What We Ate

The correct answer to this section would definitely be far too much, but hey, when in New York! We had cinnamon rolls from Bread Bakery (which were amazing), and a delicious mexican on the Upper West side. We also had our very first Chipotle experience, and it was a welcome break to have some salad in our lives - plus the lady working there kindly gave us one bowl for free. There are so many amazing places to eat in New York, we were spoilt for choice. I'd recommend Lenwich where we had traditional New Yorker sandwiches!

What We Saw

Everything we could have hoped to see! Our strategy was to group together the things we wanted to see in different areas; I know we were on holiday, but it was the best way to see everything that we wanted to see whilst we were there.

We saw so much in the week we were that that I can't got into as much detail as I would have liked to, but my best advice would be "do it all" because it's an incredible city with so much to see. The Empire State is great to do in the day, whilst I'd recommend doing the Rockerfeller at night so you get to see the Empire State lit up. Brooklyn Bridge was incredible (get the metro to Brooklyn and walk back towards NYC instead of walking away from it!) and it's also free. Times Square is a must, and schedule in a day for exploring Central Park, as it is huge. Hiring bikes was the quickest way to see the majority of the park!

If there's a game on whilst you're there, head to a Yankees match! Whilst it takes a little while, it was incredible fun.We saw a show on Broadway which is definitely worth doing; fairly pricey but definitely a once in a lifetime experience. We also opted to walk the Highline, a disused railway line, which was lovely - especially in the sunshine! If you're looking to do things on a budget, you can see the Statue of Liberty when you take the free ferry from Manhattan to Staten Island.

 Shopping in New York is also pretty impressive. From Bloomingdales to the 24 hour underground Apple store, you're spoilt for choice. We definitely spent longer than Dan would have liked to in Sephora and Victoria's Secret! We both loved Macy's and Bloomingdales, and couldn't believe how massive they were! If you're looking to do Bloomingdales, but are trying to save some money we found an outlet on the Upper West Side too.

How We Got There

We flew from London Heathrow to New York JFK with Virgin Atlantic, and I believe our flights were around £420 return which we were both quite pleased with. Once we had arrived we got the Air Train to Jamaica station, and then got the subway into Manhattan from there. This whole journey was a bit more confusing than we had initially thought but only cost us $16 return, so it was a no-brainer! I would dread to think how much a taxi would have cost.

An oldie from our trip to Amsterdam!

How We Got Around

As far as we could, we walked everywhere. There was just far too much to see to use the subway more than we did! However, we did use it when we went to the Yankees match which was in the Bronx, and also when we went down to Brooklyn Bridge and the Staten Island ferry, as that would have been quite a long walk! We didn't actually do a deal on the metro cards, purely because we didn't find a deal. However, I did like that each trip only cost $2.75, no matter how many stops you wanted to go - as we only used it for longer journeys, this was excellent!

I absolutely loved New York. It's a city that instantly makes you feel happy. There is so much to see, and everything you do feels impressive and special; from strolling around Central Park to going out for breakfast. It's amazing! I'll definitely be returning...

Have you ever been to New York?

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

January in Numbers

 January has been a very exciting month for me! It's always one of the months that inspires me the most, but this month has been extra special. Whilst it has dragged a little (what January doesn't!) it's been worth it's length. I've been considering doing a round-up style series on Suitcase and Sandals for a while now, and finally settled on the idea of going through my month in numbers. I like the ease of it, and the fact it's an online extension of my gratitude journal.

1 new job - which I am loving! I started in the middle of January and it's been so good learning new things in a completely different sector.

2 the amount of city breaks booked this month. I'm so excited to explore more of Europe this year with trips to Warsaw and Stockholm planned!

4 books read including What Milo Saw by Virginia Macgregor which I loveeeed. It was such a heart-warming read, and you really do fall for the characters. One to add to your 2017 "to-read" list!

1 new house which we have just settled into. We are loving having our own little space - it's already feeling like home

92 the amount spent on basically a whole new wardrobe, thanks to bargain Topshop sales including a pair of Jamie jeans for £8

6 no. of blog posts (including this one)! I'm trying to stick to a regular schedule which I'm enjoying - posts every Friday!

7 posts on Instagram - it's been a quiet month on my instagram; mainly due to the fact I moved house and started a new job

January has been a great month, and I'm really excited about this new feature on my blog! Reviewing my month will be a good way to focus on the things that make me happy.

What have you been up to this month?

Friday, 27 January 2017

If I Went To Uni Again I'd...

18 months after (WHAT?) finishing University, I think I'm just about getting over the shock of leaving and becoming an adult. Whilst I do miss my time at university, it isn't a painful yearning for the carefree days anymore. I'm finally beginning to accept that I'll never be as free as I was whilst I was at University, and it kind of makes me a bit annoyed that I didn't do more with my time. So to help anyone still at University, I thought I would impart my words of wisdom...

Stay In Bed

Yes, do it. I cannot BELIEVE I used to moan about my two 9am's a week. I'm now sat at my desk by 9am EVERYDAY. Just stay in bed, you'll never be able to do it as much again. 9am? No problem, come back home and get back into bed to make up for lost time.

But, Do Something Too

Volunteer at a local charity, write for the university newspaper or join a society. Like I said earlier, this is the best time to make the most of the copious amounts of spare time you probably have now. I wish I had tried out a few working sectors to get a feel for what I wanted to do whilst I was at university; it would have looked great on my CV whilst also helping myself out! If you're short for cash, get a part-time job (which will also look excellent on CV whilst funding your nights out/clothing addiction!).

Learn to Cook, well

One of the best things about moving to university was the independence that I got from it. I would not be able to cook as well as I do now, without having left the home and learning. It's one of the most important skills, and definitely worth learning whilst you have the time at university! Grab yourself a good cookbook and experiment!

Explore more of the local area

I adored living in Canterbury, and wish I had gotten to know the area even better. There are so many nice places in Kent and I wish I'd really made the most of the time I had there. I'd have loved to have gone to the beach a bit more, and visit some of the cute little villages in the surrounding areas! If I were to go back to uni again, I would have made the most of living in the Garden of England.

Work that little bit harder

Whilst I am incredibly proud of the 11.1 grade I achieved at university, knowing I was only 3 marks off graduating with a first was pretty frustrating. I wish that I'd been able to get the extra few marks across all of my essays to reach that overall grade. Working hard at uni is one thing that definitely pays off.

If you went to Uni again, what would you do?

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Anticipation of an Event

 I've always been someone who likes to have things booked into the diary to give me that little spur on when I'm feeling a little blue. Part of the greatness of a particular event is the anticipation of it; planning it, packing for it, the journey; it all adds to the happiness of that event! When I know I have a trip booked, part of the happiness this even brings me is the anticipation of that event. Booking it makes me happy, and planning it makes me just as happy as the trip itself!

The lead up to Lindos, a week of food and sunshine, was a huge part of the fun!

I read a really good book last year. The type of book that you take ages to read just because you don't want it to end! I picked up "The Happiness Project" written by Gretchen Rubins at JFK before our flight back to the UK. I started reading it there and then, and it's been making my life that bit happier ever since!

Gretchen speaks about the happiness that the lead up to an event can bring people. I guess it's always been something that is true, but reading this book really defined it for me. It's making me appreciate the little things in the lead up to events so much more. I arrived home from work one day back in November, and my mum was burning a candle. It took me a little while to realise what the candle reminded me of, but slowly I knew that it was Christmas. Dan's birthday is on the 1st December so I would usually reject any idea of Christmas before that day out of respect for his birthday! But this year, I savoured that smell and it got me that little bit excited for Christmas - I was embracing the happiness that the lead up to Christmas brings me and so many others!

When I first started to really consider this concept, I immediately felt guilty for comparing the lead up to a trip to as amazing as the event itself. My first thoughts were that the event should be so good that it would outshine anything else. Gretchen made me realise that it is absolutely fine to appreciate the lead up to the event and to enjoy it just as much as the event itself. If we all took a little more happiness from the excitement of things we are looking forward to, I reckon that there would be a lot more happiness to go around.

Here's to enjoying the anticipation of the event just as much as the event itself. Personally, I know that this will bring a whole new heap of happiness to my life.

Do you get just as excited about the lead up to an event as you do for the event itself?

Friday, 13 January 2017

48 Hours in Dublin

 Back in November we headed to Dublin to celebrate my Dad's 50th Birthday! We had decided that just the usual birthday celebrations wouldn't be enough and began scheming for his birthday trip back in February. We wanted to go somewhere close enough for a weekend break, and somewhere with lots to do and decided that Dublin would be perfect.

My Sister and I flew out after work on the Friday night with the boys to surprise our Dad who had flown out in the morning; it was so exciting knowing that he had no idea we'd be turning up. The surprise was well worth the wait, and seeing the smile on his face as we walked into the bar was incredible! After a couple of pints (we were in Ireland, what else would we be drinking?!) it was up to bed to prepare for our first day of adventures. In true Suitcase and Sandals style, instead of doing things day by day, I'll be rounding up our adventures!

Where We Stayed

Mum wanted to stay in the hotel she and Dad had stayed in for their tenth anniversary, so we booked into The Parliament Hotel (formerly The Arlington) which was great. The rooms were clean, and had everything we could need in them! We got a really good deal for our stay, and were minutes away from Dublin Castle and The Temple Bar area of the city which was perfect. The staff were excellent, and put a note in our booking to say that we were surprising out Dad so they shouldn't mention the other rooms. We did have a slight issue with the temperature of the showers on day two, but as we were in a rush we didn't bother to complain about this although with the experience I had with the staff, I think it would have been dealt with quickly and efficiently.

Where We Ate

 As part of our hotel booking we got breakfast included which was usually 10 euros. We all had a full Irish breakfast on both days so we were pretty full for the majority of the day which is ideal when you are exploring a new city. Lunch was a spud pot from the Temple Bar food market on day one, and potato wedges from The Hairy Lemon which were possibly the best wedges I have ever had! Dad chose to go to a gorgeous Italian called Pinocchio in Temple Bar for his birthday dinner, and the food was delicious. The prices were reasonable, and the restaurant was so busy; always a sign of a good place. I believe they also offer cooking lessons too which would be fun!

What We Saw

We spent the first morning strolling through Temple Bar, and the food market seeing a few notorious sights of Dublin whilst we were there, including the Ha'Penny Bridge and the River Liffy. We wandered up to the Pop and Rock  museum which was very interesting and featured some very famous names such as Thin Lizzie and U2. Temple Bar area is a must if you are in Dublin. The cute cobbled streets and various markets and shops were so lovely to stroll around. I'd definitely recommend a trip to The Temple Bar, an absolutely massive pub which looked so gorgeous and festive.

Day two took us to the Guinness storehouse which we had already pre-booked! The tour was self-led and we spent a few hours learning about the Black Stuff before heading up to the bar which has 360 degree views of Dublin, including the Wicklow Mountains. Well worth a visit. As we had a flight to catch late afternoon, the rest of the Sunday was strolling around Grafton Street and visiting St Stephen's Green which I can imagine would be lovely in the summer!

How We Got There 

We booked flights from London Stansted to Dublin through Ryanair - some tickets cost us £80 whilst others cost us £40 which shows the difference in price depending on when you book (surprisingly, the cheaper tickets were booked later!). It only takes about an hour by plane, and it was super easy to get to the city centre. Our taxi was around 30 euros for four people, and it took 30 minutes. If you wanted to get a bus into the centre, I believe they run every 15-30 minutes and a single costs 6 euros which is a good deal.

Dublin is a lovely little city, with lots to do and so much to see - I wish we had had a little longer to see more of the city and maybe even take a day trip to see the stunning Wicklow scenery. I'd recommend Dublin if you are looking for a weekend city break, as you can definitely do a lot in a small space of time.

Have you ever been to Dublin?