When I mentioned to my family about going camping, I’m pretty sure their first reaction was “WHAT?! Jodie. Camping. Ha”. I like my home comforts when traveling. I like to have a bed, I like to have electricity and fresh towels every morning. I know, I know. I’m awful. Just awful. But when our friends mentioned going camping together I couldn’t help but think it would be tons of fun! So after borrowing some gas hair straighteners from my mum, I decided to suck it up and go! As a kid I used to LOVE camping with my siblings and cousins, so why would it be so different this time just because I didn’t have a place to charge my phone and a real bed? I’m SO glad we decided to go, because we had SO much fun.
I think I’m going to write another post about the basic camping equipment that we took and the logistics of going camping as a family for the first time. Luckily our friends are pro campers so we kind of just set up camp and followed in their lead. The New Forest was beautiful. We live near woodland in Hertfordshire and I used to think it would just be like one huge woodland area – I’d always thought it would be a tad repetitive and boring. But it was far from either. Huge open landscapes and horses that roam free. The horses would make their way into tents that were unzipped and try their luck with scraps of food.
There are a variety of places to walk in the New Forest. We stayed at Ashurst campsite and ended up driving 15 minutes to Hatchet Pond – a lovely area to walk around. We ended our walk with an ice-cream on the green surrounded by Donkeys – what more could you want?! For more information on places to stay and things to do whilst in the New Forest, check out their tourist board website – it has plenty!
When researching into places to visit in Poland, we decided to head to the slightly lesser known city of Gdansk – and what a great decision that was. When heading to larger tourist destinations such as Rome or Paris, you have a slight expectation. Something I love about going somewhere a little different is that it can totally and utterly surprise you, and boy did Gdansk do just that. It’s a beauty. If you’re looking for somewhere to go in Poland for a short city break and want to avoid the tourist hotspots, then head straight to Gdansk. You won’t be disappointed by this Polish seaside town located along the Baltic sea! Here’s how we spent our time.
Firstly I just want to cover prices. Almost everyone loves a bargain, right? Well this whole trip cost us less than £500 – and that’s including all the food we ate whilst there (and we ate a LOT of food). There’s also a great Uber service in Gdansk – it’s quite new but it seems to have really caught on and is incredibly cheap.
The historic old town is small and compact, perfect for exploring on your own two feet. If you’re staying near the city centre then you’ll be able to access everything by foot. I’d recommend starting with a stroll down Dlugi Targ, which is also known as the Long Market – it’s very picturesque and perfect to grab a coffee in one of the many beautiful cafes nearby. It isn’t huge, but it’s a must see when in Gdansk. Start at the Golden Gate and walk towards the waterfront.
Gdansk Old Town is beautiful in general – with each building carrying a story of it’s own. From the seemingly “medieval” facade close to the Golden Gate (painted by Soviet authorities), to the statues on top of buildings that have been rebuilt after the Second World War. Whatever you do in Gdansk, just make sure you take a slow stroll and look up!
Whilst in Gdansk, I can’t recommend heading to Sopot Beach enough. We had originally planned to hop on a train which takes 30 minutes and costs pennies. But we soon realised just how cheap and amazing Uber is! Just a 20 minute journey and we ended up in Sopot, blessed with beautifully crisp sunshine and golden sands. We took a little walk along the pier – get to the end and look back – it’s definitely a good place for a little photo opportunity. Be sure to wrap up, even in the summer it can get chilly due to sharp winds from the Baltic sea. We then wandered onto the sand, fed some friendly swans and stopped by a cute cafe for a burger, followed by waffles! This was definitely one of my favourite days whilst in Gdansk.
St Mary’s Church and viewpoint
If you’ve followed by blog for a while then you may notice we always have to find a good viewpoint. I love being up high (apart from when on an aeroplane – strange). So it was obvious we had to climb to the top of St Mary’s Church and check out the beautiful 360 views. St Mary’s is the biggest brick-made church in Europe and so if you do find yourself in Gdansk, visiting inside is a must. When entering the church you’ll see the entrance to the tower on your left – it costs 8 PLN which is approximately £1.50. The steps up are quite narrow and can leave you feeling a little claustrophobic, but you soon reach wider steps and the bells – which are still working so if you manage to time your trip well then you may hear the hourly chime close up.
A few things about Gdansk that took me by surprise – one was the lack of tourists. We didn’t come across one single British person and I loved that. I remember a lady in a shop realising we were from England and being so excited.. and then confused as to why we were in Gdansk and not London. Well, I’d pick Gdansk any day! Another thing that surprised me was the food – we ate out more than we usually would, mostly because the food was such good value, but also because it was SO.DAMN.GOOD. I had the best burger I think I’ve ever had whilst in Sopot.
Where WW2 began
The history of Gdansk is also something that drew us in. September 1, 1939, is forever engraved in history books as the day the world went to war. The world would never be the same again, and it started in Gdansk as the opening act in Hitler’s vile plan. At 4:48 am, a German battleship let off the first shots starting World War Two – these were fired on the peninsula at Westerplatte. On the same morning, German Nazi troops also stormed the Polish Post Office in Gdańsk, killing innocent workers. We went to the Westerplatte briefly – a strange moment to think we stood exactly where WW2 began all those years ago.
I’m so glad we picked to visit Gdansk. We went with our gut and wanted something less touristy and more off the map. I’m not sure it will last that way for long though – with it being so pretty and easily accessible, I’m certain in a few years it’ll be up there with Warsaw! You can see a video of our trip below and lots more photos! If you have any questions about where to go, what to eat or what to see then please don’t hesitate to get in touch. I could talk about all things travel for hours on end and never get bored.
The trouble with having a travel blog, is finding enough places to go, enough things to do and enough to talk about. This is why a little while ago I started looking further afield for unique farm experiences. I stumbled across Kew Little Pigs in Buckinghamshire and knew straight away that I had to go. Kew Little Pigs is a micro pig petting farm based in Amersham where you can fully immerse yourself in the experience of looking after these gorgeous pigs. We went with our best friends one morning and had a lovely time spotting the piglets and playing with all the micro pigs.
Upon arrival you are greeted by staff who give a short health and safety talk about washing hands and how to handle the pigs. It’s then time for a little introduction to all the pigs! We had the lovely owner, Olivia, show us around and I couldn’t help but feel impressed with 1. the amount she knew about these pigs and 2. how she remembered all of their names! We were told a little about each pig’s personality and their life before being shown the petting pens. There were two pens we could go into – one with males and one with females.
The pigs are bred specifically to be smaller – Miniature pigs can grow to around knee height. Kew Little Pigs have been breeding their pigs for over 8 years and have significantly reduced the size of them through selective breeding. All the pigs seemed incredibly friendly and loved a good belly rub. We all had brushes and enjoyed giving them a good brush! We spent some time with the males, followed by the females, before heading over to coo over the piglets (which were a day old!). Our experience was called ‘Mini Pig Keeping’ which meant we got to help out with a task – ours was to give the pigs some fresh hay. You can see what experiences are available here.
Kew Little Pigs is a great morning or afternoon out for anyone that loves pigs. We were very kindly gifted our experience, but absolutely would recommend it. Have a little look on their website for lots more information and photos .
If you read my blog then it goes without saying – one of my favourite things to do is travel and photograph. So when we went to Disneyland Paris I wanted to make sure I got the most out of every photo opportunity. I’d like to say I succeeded with that, considering it’s been a few weeks and I STILL haven’t finished editing. One thing I’ve tried hard to combat whilst traveling, is finding the right balance between enjoying the moment and capturing it. There are some moments that not even a camera can portray the immense joy in front of the lens. I’ve put together a list of the best photo spots in Disneyland Paris for when you do want to get that perfect shot! So here they are.
When you think of Disneyland, you think of the castle. It’s iconic. There are so many different spots to get this photo – the most obvious being right in front of the castle. We found a great spot behind the castle which was really quiet during the parade – we managed to get some great shots at this point! If you stay in the Disney hotels then you get an extra hour in the park before it opens – this is also a really great time to get to the castle before the crowds so that you can get ‘the photo’.
It’s a small world
It’s a small word – the ride with the song that gets stuck in your head for hours on end. Have you even been to Disneyland if you haven’t been on this ride?! Well, this ride is also great for it’s pastel exterior – a great backdrop for an Insta-worthy shot! It’s also great for taking photos inside, whilst on the ride, but just try to crop out the ceiling as it definitely ruins the general feel!
This is that beautiful pink building you walk through / under as you make your way into the Disneyland park. It’s a beauty and makes for a perfect backdrop. Be sure to take photos from all different angles and get as creative as you can.
Mad hatters tea cups
A favourite spot of mine to photograph whilst at Disneyland! The tea cups are so bright with beautiful pastels and fun patterns. Not only is it fun to ride on (and there isn’t a huge queue if you get there at the right time!) but it’s fun to use as a great backdrop. You might even be lucky enough to spot the mad hatter with Alice and friends!
Main street USA
Main street USA is perfect for getting great photos. With the castle in the distant background, the beautiful American style shop fronts and colourful doorways. It’s a great spot to stop and get some lovely photos – be sure to make use of the extra hour you get in the park if you stay in a Disney hotel. You’ll get some great snaps with less people in the background. Main street USA is also a good spot for taking photos of Mickey shaped snacks. Head into a bakery or food stall and grab a Mickey shaped biscuit or something similar – makes for a great shot!
This is in front of the main entrance near the Disneyland Hotel. It’s a beautiful grand entrance / garden space filled with gorgeous flower displays, water fountains, bridges and more. A great place to stop for a few snaps before entering the main park. Although it’s tempting to just head straight on in, you won’t regret getting some photos outside beforehand.
Partners statue & Walt Disney Studios park
As you walk straight into this park you are greeted with the almost iconic Walt and Mickey Partners Statue. It makes a lovely backdrop for a quick snap before heading off for a wander. There is less to do and less to see in this park but still plenty enough to wander around and enjoy. This is where Toy Story land is, which has some great colourful backdrop such as a wall made from Dominoes, the huge Buzz statue and the Rex one too!
We were very kindly gifted park tickets in return for some content on my blog. Everything else was paid for by ourselves.
As a child we love Disney, but as an adult I feel we grow to love it even more. It’s almost as though we attempt to hold onto something from our childhood for just that little bit longer. The magic in each film, the story in each book. Like Peter Pan in neverland, why would we want to grow up? I’ve been to Disneyworld Florida three times, but never Disneyland Paris – so when the opportunity arose to spend a few days there during February half term, of course I jumped at the chance. After being advised to join a group on Facebook called ‘Disneyland for Brits’ I clicked away and felt pretty overwhelmed. I had no idea there was so much to plan during a stay at Disneyland. We usually book a holiday, research a bit about the place, plan a little and then relax. The group had lots of information on and is very handy but a little overwhelming. I wanted to put together a list of what you really need to know, and what you can just wing!
It’s a theme park, it’ll be busy
It doesn’t matter what time of year you go, it’s Disneyland Paris – it’s going to be busy. With most places crowds make it stressful, but with Disneyland you forget the crowds and enjoy the magic. Seeing Daisy’s little face light up when Belle called her a princess, or when she fell in love with the Peter Pan ride – it’s hard to notice anything else! The best tips for coping with the busy vibe of Disneyland is to take valuables on rides if you can, make a place to meet incase you happen to loose who you are with and make the most of the the rest of the park whilst the parade and fireworks are on.
If you have the money – go to Florida
If you have the money, go to Florida. Disneyland is great, but it’s nothing compared to Disneyworld. The money you spend on two Disneyland trips could quite easily take you to Florida for 10 days. It’s good to get your head around the fact that Disneyland can be expensive, but, it’s also important to realise that you can actually do the whole thing completely on a budget without losing any value to the actual trip. We made sure we had a cheap breakfast followed by a larger lunch and a small dinner – this helped us save money on food. The gift shops are amazing and I can almost guaranteed that after popping in for a little nose about, you will end up wanting to buy lots. (We did anyways!). Obviously this is another way you can plan your trip with a little less budget, but we loved purchasing a few goodies from the shop!
Comfortable shoes and a buggy – you’re going to walk a lot
I presumed there would be a lot of walking, and sure enough there was. I saw several people in heels and I couldn’t help but wince for them. Taking comfortable shoes is an absolute must. You don’t want to be worrying about blisters and aching feet… especially if you only have two days. We also took a buggy for Daisy, even though she is 5. We knew that she wouldn’t be able to manage so much walking and it was handy to have when she needed to sit down during the fireworks. It also helped save Andrew’s shoulders when he couldn’t carry her anymore during the parade! I had bought some walking shoes to take but completely forgot them and ended up wearing my converse (not quite as comfortable, but definitely did the job).
Most of all – relax and have fun
It’s easy to get caught up in what you need to be doing, or where you feel you should be. The main thing is to just enjoy yourself! When we went to Rome we didn’t feel we had done everything we wanted to do, we didn’t threat about it. We just made sure we went back a few years later! The same goes for most places and especially Disneyland Paris. If you don’t happen to do everything you want to do, just don’t worry about it. If you fall in love with Disneyland (which I’m sure you will!) then you’ll be back again in no time.
I’m going to have several posts coming up on Disneyland! Including a post on Walt Disney studios Park, Disneyland Park and 5 things not to miss. In the meantime, here are just some of the many many photos I took during our stay at Disneyland. We were very kindly gifted the pass tickets by Disney – all words and opinions are completely honest. In the meantime head on over to our lovely friend’s blog where she has so many amazing tips on planning your first trip to Disneyland Paris.
A few weeks ago I managed to drag Andrew a little further afield (ever so slightly) to Weald Country Park in Essex – and what a beauty that was. Since our last holiday in October I find the only way to cure my need to travel when I have nothing booked, is to go for long country walks. So that’s what we do. Weald Country Park is perfect for that – and even more perfect when bringing along little ones. With over 500 acres of beautiful woodland, lakes, meadows, open grassland and spectacular views, it’s the perfect morning or afternoon out. The park is famous for its wildlife, including fallow deer, cattle, herons, ducks and more. It’s also home to the Stick Man trail. We didn’t manage to do this completely as we were busy enjoying the deer and the park areas.
“The Stick Man play trail, designed by leading natural play specialists Infinite Playgrounds, brings to life the popular book by Julia Donaldson. The trail has been designed to maintain the historic parkland and its stunning views throughout. We hope that the trail will help children and their families enjoy challenging and imaginative play. It is free to use during park opening hours throughout the year.”
My favourite thing about a country park is usually the visitor centre, because it means we can get a nice cup of tea or hot chocolate to wander around with. Weald Country Park had a lovely little cafe selling food and drink, along side a gorgeous shop selling lots of little handmade items and soft toys. We managed to drag Daisy away empty handed (rarity) but she had fun looking at all the Stick Man items for sale! We’ll definitely be back in the summer time – I feel it’ll be one of my favourite regular country walks.
Can I just also take a moment to say how lucky we are to have been given these gorgeous items of clothing from JoJo Maman Bebe. You can purchase Daisy’s striped breton top here and her beautiful green pinafore here. It’s all stunning material, as usual with JoJo, and I know it’ll last Daisy for a long time!
Anglesey Abbey is absolutely huge. We went in the autumn to try and catch the trees at their best. I think we may have either missed it slightly or gone too early – but it was still absolutely stunning. There is so much to love about this National Trust site – beautiful gardens to wander, a woodland adventure trail, a tree house and somewhere to stop for a coffee or cake on your way home. I can’t wait to visit Anglesey Abbey at all different times of the year to really get a feel for it. There’s also Lodge Mill and Lord Fairhaven’s House to visit whilst there. In the summer it is worth bringing a picnic – there’s lots of places to sit and enjoy the view whilst letting the little ones run about. You can see more info via our post here.
It’s only after my lovely friend recommended Wimpole that we decided to head there for a morning out – and what a gorgeous morning it was. Wander through the gorgeous gardens (they really are stunning) and head towards the home farm where the little ones can wander about and spot the animals. They have lots of pigs, horses goats and more – along with daily events including pig feeding, meeting rabbits, donkey grooming and meeting a farmer. Around the corner from the home farm, you’ll find an adventure playground for the kids to play on with climbing frames, balance beams and swings; also picnic tables and chairs nestled under the trees, its a place where the whole family can all unwind. They also have the beautiful hall to explore and a lovely courtyard where you can stop by for a coffee or cake. I can’t wait to head back to Wimpole and explore again!
Now, Dunstable Downs just reminds me of being a kid. We used to go here a lot, and whilst Daisy was still a baby we’d bring her here and go for a nice long walk. It’s the scenery that gets me every time – if you’ve been to Dunstable Downs then I’m sure you’ll agree that it’s just beautiful. They have a little shop and a cafe that you can head into if you need to shelter from the wind or the cold – talking of wind – it’s the perfect place to fly a kite! Be sure to keep an eye on the National Trust website to see what events they have on – there’s usually always something interesting to do depending on the time of year!
Before you head to Shaw’s Corner you should be aware that it is a very small site. Nonetheless, it’s a great place to spend a morning or afternoon wandering about the gardens and the house. What I loved about Shaw’s Corner is that it has a lot of history – Playwright, politician and philosopher George Bernard Shaw lived in this Edwardian villa for over 40 years from 1906. 70 years ago he was one of the most famous, most photographed and most quoted men in the world. His home is left pretty much exactly how he left it – you can wander from room to room getting a feel for the gorgeous house and the life he lived. There’s also a garden shed he transformed into his work space so he could escape from the home to work – you can attempt to spin this shed around in the garden – my little one found this great fun. There’s a little shop and some deck chairs that you can relax on in front of the green.
This is yet another great place to enjoy all year round. Ashridge Estate is a large area of the Chiltern Hills with beech and oak woodlands, commons and chalk downlands. These stunning landscapes each support a huge variety of wildlife, including carpets of bluebells in spring, rare butterflies in summer and fallow deer that rut in autumn. They have a cafe that you can stop by to have a nice English breakfast, light lunches and afternoon tea or you can bring your own picnic! It’s a beautiful place to wander through any time of the year.
January can end up being a bit of a dull month – Christmas is over, the excitement of a New Year starts to fade, and we’re left wondering what plans await us during the next 12 months. One thing that always crosses my mind is ‘where will this year take us?’. I remember at the beginning of 2018 I had no idea where we would go, how often we would go and if we’d even leave the country (of course I knew we would!). So I love that excitement of booking the first trip. We’re off to Disneyland Paris in just under 5 weeks so I know at least one trip of the year – but where else… I have no idea and that excitement makes January a good one for me. It was discovered in a recent survey by The Luxury Travel Network, Stay One Degree, that there have been several shifts in the way we travel and in particular, the way we are planning our travels for 2019.
Two week holidays are replaced with Ninety night trips
It seems that according to this survey, more people are relocating for three months at a time rather than going on holiday several times during the year. Families are setting up home for 90 days at a time whilst parents either commute to work or work from home to sustain their trip. It’s a good idea and one I wish I had the guts to do – especially whilst Daisy is still young and wouldn’t miss out on too much school. I will always regret not doing this before she started education!
Secluded travel is on the rise
A lot of people are admitting that they travel in order to be alone so therefore this makes complete sense. We’re looking closer to home for locations that are a little off the beaten track – places where we are completely away from wi-fi and crowds of people. With the rise of how much we use social media on a daily basis, it’s beginning to get a lot more common to find somewhere where you can completely switch off and switch into holiday mode. I know that this is something we want to do this year!
Conscious travel is increasingly important
There’s a lot of emphasis in the media recently about what we are doing to our planet and how we can help save it. It’s hard to be a regular traveller and not consider what impact this is having on our surroundings. This is something that I would like to consider more whilst traveling in 2019. Bookings for ethical and eco-friendly escapes are predicted to rise by 70% within the network that have an emphasis on properties with natural energy and locally sourced produce. Conscious travellers are always on the look-out for new ways to save energy, invest time, build friendships and spend money on projects that have a long-term impact on their communities and the people that live in them.
Traveling for food and drink
This one doesn’t surprise me. Food is always on my mind and even more so when traveling – I’m always considering when we are next going to have a snack, when we are going to take a break for a coffee or what we’re going to have for dinner. This was especially our motive in Rome – we just wanted to eat all the pizza, drink all the coffee and have all the gelato for pudding! Italy is the dream destination for us as the food is our favourite. According to this survey, people are traveling to France for cheeseboards and wine, Thailand for Thai and Spain for Tapas. Food is such a cultural experience of traveling and it’s so important to get a taste of the local cuisine so you can really say you’ve been to that destination!
A trip to learn
According to this survey 21% said that the most important factor to booking a trip is if they are able to learn a new skill whilst on holiday. Travellers value their time and are looking to make full use of their time off from work and their everyday tasks. Many want to return from their trips with something priceless, rememberable and enriching to their life. We want to start considering learning a new skill whilst away – be it a new language or a local cooking class. We want to come away with more experience than when we left.
There are so many amazing reasons to travel and these are just a few. The top 10 destinations of 2019 have been said to be the following:
Where are you off to this year? Will any of these factors be determining where you book?!
It’s been a while since I wrote on here. It’s been a while since we’ve been somewhere new. That little fire in me had lost it’s spark and all that was needed to bring it back to life again was a little walk to somewhere with new views. new tracks. new paths. Just somewhere new. I’ve been writing this blog for over five years now and that’s a little daunting – five years worth of posts, of my life, of Daisy, of our travels. I’m not sure what it is anymore but I’ve fallen a out of love with it. I’ve slowly realised that I’m actually quite a private person. I don’t want to share every single part of my life. I don’t want to be online telling everyone about everything – and I think that’s why I’ve slowly disappeared a little into the background. I’m attempting to figure out and articulate into words what it is I want to do with this space I’ve created. All I know is that I like going new places, I like taking photos of these places and writing words about them. With these three points in mind, I’m going to devise a plan!
A few days ago we went on a walk with friends to the beautiful Barton Hills. I obviously had to take my camera because am I even me without my camera attached?! (no is the answer to that). I had never been before and it’s crazy how much being out in the fresh air, somewhere I’ve never been before, really lifts my mood – no matter how near to home it is. Barton Hills is gorgeous. We parked up and let the girls splash about in a little stream, walked up a huge hill and played in the park. An all round lovely day – here are some photos.