Cousin Time

Matt worked all weekend, so I was ready for a weekend alone and felt that I needed a bit of an adventure, a bit of spontenatity in my life. Unfortnately my budget couldn’t quite stretch to a last minute trip to Disney (oh that will come one day), so I put out a plea on Facebook earlier in the week to see if any of my friends or family wanted an adventure day! Of course my cousin Trina was first to respond asking for me to take her with her wherever I end up!

Initially we were going to go to Blenheim Palace……but on Sunday morning as I picked her up, we changed our mind and ended up heading to Marwell Zoo! We are really lucky, its only a 30 minute drive from us, but for everyone else, its just off the M3 headed towards Winchester. We arrived just before opening at 10am and scouted out the website first to check out the animals and if there were any events on. Entry fee’s weren’t too expensive either, I paid £19 for an adult but as a student Trina got in for £16.50, these were still summer prices but between November and April those prices reduce too, which is even better! Of course the tickets include a donation as Marwell is actually a conservation charity too, so we were able to gift aid our tickets too!

 

We got in and straight away there is a stand for the kids to be Explorers for the day, a suggested donation of £1 gets them a book where you need to collect 9 stamps from around the park and if you hand it in at the end you get the chance to win annual membership for 2 adults and 2 children. We couldn’t say no! It was an adventure day after all and it made sure we saw everything at the Zoo – so if your headed there with kids definitely pick one up for them!

Luckily for us the Zoo was quite quiet and meant that we could just wander round at our own pace and not feel rushed at any of the animals! First up we checked out the Penguins, Flamingos and Cheetahs before headed to the Giraffes!

 

 

I am pretty sure my mum has a picture of us both stood outside the Giraffe house like this when we were little! How great do we look haha!

 

We had a great time at the Giraffe’s, just watching them and enjoying being close to them, they are incredibly tall!

We then just wandered round the Zoo taking it all in, enjoying listening to the fun things kids say and just generally chatting and catching up!

 

We had so many giggles walking round and just generally having a random day out, drinking coffee (hot chocolate in Trina’s case) and eating ice cream!

It was really nice and just a great spontaneous day out. We I spend so much of time planning my life out and working out what I am going to do next, that its actually nice to just do something random and see where life takes me. I know we are quite a way off the New Year, but why do we need a new year to set resolutions! I want to say yes more, I want to be more spontaneous! Sod it! Lets go to Disney hahaha!

 

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Lavender Brunch

It was Brunch Club today with Hayley and Carla! This time was Hayley’s choice of Long Barn just off the A31. Long Barn grows Lavender as well as selling a vast range of products as well, if you were to ask me to describe the venue its almost a garden centre, cross cafe, cross unique shop – it really is something I have never really experienced before.

 

As I pulled into the car park, straight away I was taken aback by how modern but yet, held a country shop vibe it just looked really welcoming! My tummy was rumbling, so I requested we eat first then explore the shop and grounds! We found a seat in the barn and it was just gorgeous, all the seats were like recycled, antique looking metal garden chairs with big chunky wood tables. There was a lot of greenery and just felt really natural and organic.

 

We took a look at the menu, but after walking past the abundance of cake (I didn’t get a snap of that!), I knew it was going to be a case of cake for brunch for me! Luckily I wasn’t on my own and both Hayley and Carla joined me! So what did we have?

Carla had a lovely hot chocolate with loads of mini marshmallows, accompanied by a bakewell slice. Hayley tucked into a coffee with a generous slice of passion fruit & banana gluten free cake. For me, it was a mocha with a chewy pecan slice HEAVEN! We all tucked in a enjoyed our cake breakfast, there was plenty more on offer – but can resist a cake?! We, as always talked for ages about everything from the list of brunch idea’s Hayley has, to Christmas gifts, to Carla’s wedding plans. Its always lovely to spend some time catching up with these ladies!

 

Once we have chewed each others ears off, we took off to explore and found some really cool things! Take a look at some of the snaps I took!

 

So! If your stuck for something to do of a weekend and want somewhere new to explore, head over to Long Barn. They are really welcoming the cake is INSANELY good and the grounds are lovely – I would love to see it when the Lavender is in full bloom!

 

Love

Emma xxx

Tips For The Best Vegas Trip

April 2015 Matt, I & another couple headed to Las Vegas for a week! 1 week in Vegas!

We LOVED every second of it, from the shopping, the food, the nights out, the attractions it was just fantastic. It is somewhere that we feel that we would love to return to one day as there is still so much we didn’t do that we would have loved to have done! Plus its constantly changing, there are new shows all the time and new exhibitions and hotels are changing so why not go back!

BUT this isn’t about my time there (although you will some of my snaps)! Its 10 things that not just myself, but friends and family would recommend for a trip to Vegas!

  • See A Show! We saw a Cirque Du Soleil show when we were out there and we both really enjoyed it. I also saw Britney Spears and I know a few people who have seen Rod Stewart as well as countless other shows and loved all of them. Quite often fantastic artists have residencies in Las Vegas hotels, so if you want the last chance to see your favourite artist Vegas is the place to go! 
  • Go To The Grand Canyon! Every single person I have spoken to about Las Vegas has said you cannot go and not go to the grand canyon. We went on a sunset helicopter tour which included a champagne picnic in the canyon, but there are so many different options and there is a suspended walk too that you can do which looks awesome!
  • See The Bellagio Fountains! Fantastic fountains that perform to music and they are spectacular, nothing can really prepare you for them at all! We saw them several times over the week were there but my favourite place to watch them was on the High Roller at The Linq. If you time it right, you can be at the top of the High Roller at the right time to see them in all their glory and it truly is a great sight!
  • Eat At A Buffet! Even if you do it just once, go crazy! We went for a breakfast buffet and had about 10 platefuls of breakfast each! You can could get everything from contiential cheese and hams to breakfast burritos! It was crazy but a good way to fill up until a late night dinner!
  • Downtown Vegas! For me it was probably the tackiest part of Vegas BUT you can’t got to Vegas and not experience it. Its the birth place and where it all began, go and eat at Heart Attack Grill OR Zip Wire through Freemont Street, place a bet in one of the oldest hotels. Honestly, its an experience you wont forget!
  • The Stratosphere! As a base its quite far out from the main strip for my liking, but as an oppertunity to get a 360 view of everything (a side from the high roller), it is the best place to go! Until I went up there I don’t think I truly understood just how much we were in the desert! Now, if you are a bit of a thrill seeker then there are rides you can go on at the top of the tower providing the wind isn’t too bad. It’s not my idea of fun, but it was a giggle to watch some of the rides.

 

  • The Hotels! It goes without saying that the hotels are truly amazing in Vegas, but the fact that your senses are catapulted into a completely different world in every hotel is just beyond belief. I loved the feel of the Bellagio but I also really liked The Venetian AND of course our hotel The Mirage. The fact that at every entrance there was a coconut smell, just tropical really set the scene for me! You could spend days just exploring what every hotel has to offer without doing anything else.
  • Have A Bet! Even if its just one, have a bet! I didn’t win anything, but Matt did a few times and we found a $100 dollar chip. You can do so much in Vegas and not place 1 bet, but I personally dont think you have had a true Vegas experience if you haven’t placed a bet! After all, its what Vegas is known for!
  • The Restaurants! Ok, I have already spoken about buffet’s but the amount of restaurants you can pick from is incredible! I reckon there must be well over 1,000 restaurants in Vegas to choose from so NOBODY and I mean NOBODY can say they didn’t find at least 1 place they liked! Here is just a selection of what we ate during our week there!
  • SHOP! If you are anything like me you love any opportunity you have to do a spot of shopping. If your man is busy in the casino’s and you have a girlfriend with you go and hit the shops, on the strip alone there are 3 malls I can think of straight away for you to spend hours in. But a short taxi ride away you have the choice of 2 outlet malls to explore and spend your money (or his winnings) in!

Well, there you have it, my personal 10 things to make your Vegas trip great! As with every holiday its your personal choice and some of these wont suit everyone, but isn’t that the beauty of getting recommendations? You can pick and choose what is right for you, or maybe even try something different and you might be surprised!

Love

Emma x

1 Week In Mexico

 

I LOVE sharing our travel adventures with you all and I know I have shared my experience with you of Mexico after our holiday 18 months ago, however Mexico is a really popular destination and although it was never on my wish list I LOVED our time there in 2016.

Whilst sat here feeling rubbish with my first autumnal cold, watching crappy movies on TV (Matt is snoozing – waiting to be called out for work) I thought I would put together a bit of an itinerary for those of you thinking of heading to Mexico for some winter sun this year or early next!

Day 1

After a day full of travelling yesterday (the flight is around 10 hours), you are probably feeling a bit of jet lag and just want to take it easy, DONT! If you are one of crazy people that go long haul for just 7 days you need to make the most of it whilst you can. Get some breakfast and if your rep meeting is today GO TO IT, if you haven’t pre-booked any trips now is the time to do! What are my recommendations? If your staying in the Cancun area, I would suggest these trips & I explain why a bit further down:

  • Xcaret
  • X-Plor
  • Coco Bongo
  • Chichen Itza
  • Captain Hook Pirate Ship (if there is a group of you or little kids with you!)

Once you have your trips booked, make sure you have your camera and some money on you – small bills if possible, because your going to head just outside of your hotel and grab a “bus” to Playa Del Carmen for some authentic mexican food and a spot of shopping (get it done and out the way on your first day). The “bus” is a mini van, its cheap but you need pay in small bills and tell the driver where you want to go, don’t be precious about sitting next to your partner, just find a seat and stay put! Once your in Playa Del Carmen head for 5th Avenue for all the shops, they range from Zara, Victoria’s Secret and Pandora to all the souvenirs you could ask for!

Despite being all inclusive, we did have some food whilst in Playa Del Carmen and DIDN’T regret it! We ate at Yo Amo Tacos on 5th Avenue, it was our first real taste of Mexican food and it was fantastic! I can’t recall the specific items we had, but I am hoping these photo’s do it justice!

Once you have explored, shopped and eaten its time to head back to your hotel to have some dinner, cocktails enjoy the evening entertainment and mingle with fellow holiday makers. Don’t make it a late one though – your up early for a day at Chichen Itza!

Day 2

An early start for a full day coach trip, from our hotel it was around a 3 hour coach trip to Chichen Itza, so make sure you have some snacks and bottled water with you. On our day trip, when we arrived we spent some time in a small shop whilst our guide got all of our passes etc. if you dont have one with you that day, pick up a hat you WILL need it. Its hot and there is limited, if any at all shade & use this time to go to the bathroom – I promise you that the toilets on the site are not great!

Enjoy the scenery and the information the guide tells you, I wont lie to you but the day we went I had a raging water infection so I really didn’t care to be there BUT Matt really enjoyed it and we got some good photos and saw some lizards too!

On our trip we headed to a local restaurant where they served authentic food, I am gutted we didnt get any pictures but I do love those types of stops on trips abroad. They rely soo heavily on tourism and although the food might not be quite what you expect just enjoy the experience! On our way back we stopped at a cenote – there was the chance to go in and experience the water, but we decided just to people watch and take in the scenery!

Heading back to your hotel, you will be tired and worn out BUT that’s ok as you have another chilled evening at the hotel mingling with your holiday friends drinking cocktails and enjoying the evening entertainment!

Day 3

Ok, you deserve a day off today! Chill by the pool or on the beach enjoy the fact that you can start drinking cocktails from 10am and snack throughout the day and get your head in that book you picked up in duty free.

We were really lucky with the hotel we stayed at, it was on Akumal beach which is FULL and I mean FULL of sea turtles, a lovely couple we met and often hung out with on the beach let us use their snorkel gear as they weren’t keen snorkelers and we had great fun snorkeling and just swimming alongside the turtles. It was so peaceful. We were in Mexico for 2 weeks, so whilst I laid by the beach getting the best tan I have ever had Matt went fishing for a couple of days and we would often walk into the little town and also went to near by Tulum – there is so much to do if you want to do it!

If you are like us and enjoy a good night out and don’t fancy a night at your hotel every night then break it up and book nights out to Coco Bongo or Captain Hooks Pirate Ship. I personally (from what I can remember) enjoyed Coco Bongo a lot more than the Pirate Ship BUT I can see why people, especially those in groups or with families would enjoy the Pirate Ship party.

Day 4

Well……Day 4, if anything like me after Coco Bongo you will spend most of your morning like this…..

Honestly It Was A Rough Morning 

So what would I suggest you do on day 4? Well considering you will be travelling home on Day 7, you only really have 2 more days after this to get things done & you want at least 1 more day by the pool, beach or maybe some spa treatments at the hotel of course! Well, day 4 could be that day for you OR you could spend the day and evening at Xcaret!

Xcaret, my favourite place in Mexico! You can do anything, from swim the lazy river, see the animals, snorkel, swim with dolphins, swim with sting rays (we did this its AMAZING!) or just chill by the beach. There is so much to do here you definately need a full day. We did the lazy river, swam with sting rays AND the adrenaline boat (and didn’t stay for the evening) – there is a lot of things I regret that we didn’t do, so check out some pics and below I will give you the low down on things to do!

Ok, my top tips for Xcaret:

  1. Bring a waterproof camera OR pay the extra to have photo’s taken on your way round (we did this with x-plor). Almost all of the day is based around water, so if like us you don’t have a waterproof camera you wont get many snaps!
  2. Plan your day, dont just jump into the first thing – figure out what you want to do and what you need to be wearing for that activity (pretty much swimwear the whole day)
  3. Take extra cash with you for extra fun activities, not everything is included in the price
  4. Drink plenty and make sure you eat

So we didn’t stay for the evening entertainment, but I have heard it is really good and that we really missed out – but we had such a great day we just wanted to get back to the hotel and have a relaxed evening at the hotel bar and eat some yummy food in the a la carte restaurants on site.

Day 5

Another busy fun day, but today is X-Plor, Xcaret’s zip liner cousin! This was Matt’s request and I was apprehensive as I am not keen on zip lines BUT we had a great day AND paid the extra for a camera pass all the way round. The only thing we didn’t do was be prepared with clothing – basically you will get wet, but I wouldn’t say swim wear all the time – but the choice is yours – just know that when your queuing be happy that you will get wet in what you are wearing…..

A great day out and you really get to see some amazing sites on those zip lines!

Day 6 

A perfect day to top up that fantastic tan you will have got and just relax, maybe head back into Playa Del Carmen to get some more souvenirs. I cant remember our last day before we checked out and headed home, but I can remember our last meal and it was gorgeous! We were so spoilt at Akumal Bay Hotel, but it was a beautiful holiday and I would recommend that hotel to anyone!

Make Day 6 a day to remember, because tomorrow you will be travelling home!

There is so much to do in Mexico and the trip opportunities are endless, but this is just based on what we got up to. We were there for 2 weeks, so were lucky to spend our time on the beach as well as keeping busy, at the end of the day a holiday is yours to do what you will with, but 1 thing I would suggest is do what you can while you are there. There is never a guarantee you will return, so dont leave wishing you had done something!

Love

Emma xx

Birthday Treat!

Matt spoilt me on my birthday with a surprise trip to Newcastle! It was lovely to get away for a few days and just eat good food, drink good cocktails and chill. We haven’t been away this year as we have been focusing on the house and putting our stamp on it, so thinking of holidaying abroad just hasn’t happened. Don’t get me wrong, we have started to look for next year with a few choices up our sleeves, but this year we knew it just wasn’t going to happen.

We headed off at 6am in the morning – yes 6am – and headed off…..Matt was driving and we had been on the motorway for about 10 mins when he said we were headed to the west country, I was quite excited and started faffing on my phone doing something when the next time I looked up we were on the M3?! Totally not the way to the west country, after quizzing him constantly for about 30 minutes, he told me we were headed north but that was all I could get out of him.

With so much excitement about going back up north after a few years with Matt, I shared a little Facebook post on my page (why not follow me there?). We stopped in a service station for McDonalds breakfast and a large Costa Coffee for me and headed back on our way, after a little while I looked on the map to see where we could be ended up and Matt eventually told me it was Newcastle!

I was really excited as we have talked about Newcastle for a while, so I was pleased we were finally going to make it there!

We had a brilliant few days up north and enjoyed exploring the city, although not much to do everyone made us feel so welcome and the shopping is INSANE!!! Here are a few snaps from our days away for you to enjoy

Where We Stayed: The Cairn Hotel, in trendy Jesmond

What We Saw: Whitley Bay, Angel Of The North, Metro Centre, Eldon Square, Black Gate, Castle Keep

Where We Ate: The Herb Garden, The Botanist, Chaophora, Blackfriars, Olive & Bean

Brunch Club!

It was a beautiful sunny sunday morning….my alarm went off before 8 am…..‘why?!’ I asked myself ‘why is my alarm going off’. Then I remembered. 

The night before I thought I would go to the gym first thing. It didnt happen

The reason going to the gym was such a good plan, is because its brunch day! That normally means yummy coffee and something naughty! Hayley and I have been doing brunch on and off since the start of the year and today we invited our friend Carla to join our club! 

Todays venue was T & Thistle in Southsea, about a 20min journey from my home, so not too far! After a strange tour by my satnav (I am not great driving in Portsmouth!) I arrived and the girls were already inside. It was so quiet, I got myself a latte and we started a 3hr chatathon!

The coffee was amazing – I couldn’t help myself and got a mocha when we ordered our food! I went for Eggs Florentine and they were gorgeous. I love eggs and I so wish I could poach eggs, so they are always a real treat. Although I was really torn between that and a bagel, so maybe that will have to be saved for next time! Hayley also had eggs and Carla went for crumpets. 

It was really nice to spend sunday morning with the girls and finding out about each others plans and just generally chatting and taking it easy! It wasn’t massively expensive either, I spent around £12 for 2 coffees and food which is perfect for when your on a tight budget. 

As we were starting to get ready to head out our thoughts turned to our next date! We have planned it for September and our venue choice is Longbarn. So a bit of a drive but hopefully completely worth it! 

Are you based in Hampshire and have a recommendation for brunch? Please let me know!

Emma xxx

Glorious Goodwood

Does anyone else find buying gifts for men a royal pain the backside?! I am glad its not just me! However, I thought I had found the perfect Christmas gift for Matt last year, tickets for us, his brother & parter for a day out a Glorious Goodwood! A chance for the 4 of us to get dressed up, have a few drinks, a bet and a nice evening out at the end of it and the day did not disappoint! However, I was left a bit dumbfolded when on our way to the racecourse Matt tells me he has been to Goodwood before – I thought he hadn’t been and it would be a new experience we would be sharing together – how wrong was I haha!

Anyway! We all had a fantastic day out, I like all other events didn’t take many photos, luckily my lovely sister-in-law (not legally but it might as well be!) managed to get quite a few. So here you go, here is a selection of photos that I feel represents our day.