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?







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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.


Skyscanner

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.

Booking.com

Booking.com 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 Booking.com. 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.

Tripadvisor

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?
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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?
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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?
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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?
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