Perfect Staycation Locations UK

The sun is shining and the UK cannot get enough of it! The time for holidaying is upon us and I am super excited to take some time out from working life and really relax. Oh, and spend some time with my other half – of course! We are currently having debating whether to go abroad or not. Mike is wanting to escape to the sun however, why run to the sun when you have it right here? There seems to be so much negativity in the news now with regards to travelling and strength of the pound, that I have been searching a little closer to home for the perfect staycation. But first, I need to work on my persuasiveness, so here is a quick summary of staycations are better than vacations!

  • Smaller travel costs – No catching planes or taxis to hotels when we can simply drive there!
  • Easy planning – We know the language and currency
  • Inexpensive – We can easily find the best deals and take things like food from home

Beach Break: Cornwall

Credit: Pixabay

It seems to be that in Cornwall, everything is in walking distance! Falmouth is a tourist hotspot, with cute cafes, pubs and independent shops. I also found that you can catch a boat from Falmouth to St.Mawes, where you can visit St Mawes Castle and take part in water sports if you fancy it. They have lovely sandy beaches, which there is a lack of here in Brighton, and lots of caves to explore!

City Break: London

Credit: Pixabay

Brighton to London isn’t very far, the only thing we have to worry about here is if there is a strike on. London has tons of attractions, from visiting the queen in Buckingham palace to visiting Harry Styles at Madame Tussauds! There are so many places to stay however, with it being the capital and everything – prices will vary. To solve this, you could stay slightly out of London to cut costs, then travel into the city easily with the tube. However, if you are looking for a relaxing holiday, it may not be ideal, as during the summer there are lots of tourists making it busy and crowded.

Relaxing Break: Cotswolds

Credit: Pixabay

No not the shop, but the 800 square mile area of rolling hills which has loads of lively market towns and historic landmarks buried within them! I can picture a long day of exploring, then retreating to one of the traditional Cotswolds cottages in one of the historic villages! It is such a good excuse to get my bike out the shed as this place has so many walking and cycling routes that I would love to explore with my other half.

Active Break: Lake District

Credit: Pixabay

Did you know there are six National Nature Reserves in these 885 miles of land? What I love about this place, is that there are so many types of accommodation, from glamping to hotels! As with the Cotswolds, there are loads of walking routes for all levels. I especially like the look of Helvellyn, a mountain famous for its twin ridges. However, it seems a little steep but I bet it will be worth it for views! For a more organized adventure activity, you partake in a treetop trek and tree top nets – imagine flying and climbing through the trees. You would have to have some guts to do that!

Spa Break: Snowdonia

Credit: Pixabay

I know what you’re thinking – that there are spas closer to home. However, when you go on holiday you want to feel like you’re away! Snowdonia has a range of spa hotels and with breathtaking views – it definitely makes for a romantic holiday for two. The area is also home to a multitude of heritage sites and outdoor activities – bit of a contrast between the two, but I can see how there would be something for everyone. This one could be on the cards depending on how adventurous we are feeling!

All of these locations look incredible and I certainly wouldn’t have guessed that some of them are in the UK. Armed with this comprehensive list and my persuasive skills – I’m pretty sure I have the upper hand in deciding where we will be going this year!

How To Throw The Perfect Party

pexels-wine-glass

Something I really look forward to during the festive season is the parties. The work dos with fun activities, dinner parties with friends, not to mention News Year’s Eve! There’s something about sharing jokes over a few glasses of wine and getting down on the dance floor with old friends and new that makes me feel alive. I also love to host my own, and over the years I have discovered a few tips and tricks that turn a good party into a great one! If you’re planning a shindig, then keep reading for ideas on how to make your event one to remember.

Invites

Firstly, everyone loves receiving something special in the post. Secondly, nothing sets the tone and gets people pumped for a party like a chic invitation! So, if you’ve got the time, get some heavy card and gold or silver pens from a stationer and get crafting. They really don’t have to be too fussy, just pop in the details of the location, date and time and draw on some holly for Christmas, or hearts for Valentine’s Day, etc., and you’re away. If you are pushed for time, there are tons of online services where you can design, print and send invites at the touch of a button.

Social

I don’t know about you but I would probably miss half the events I’m invited to if it weren’t for Facebook! Therefore, in addition to paper invitations, you should create an event page with a relevant image and invite everyone you’ve put down on your guest list. You can also use social media to get people excited before the event. Give people little snippets of information in the run up, post photos of the venue and outfit ideas, etc. Do remember to keep it a private event – you don’t want the whole world turning up!

Theme

As you can probably imagine, I love fancy dress. If you’re a big fan too but are struggling to come up with a concept, there are some fantastic party theme ideas online. We went to a Great Gatsby do the other weekend and it was fabulous! However, as Mike always reminds me, there are lots of people who aren’t so keen. If you decide not to go for a costume party, it’s worth remembering that most people still love an opportunity to dress up a little bit. Setting the dress code to smart/casual gives everyone the chance to put on their glad rags without worrying about going over the top.

Lighting

Make sure it’s not too bright; nothing kills the atmosphere like strip lighting! Equally, going too dark can be unsettling, so you’ll want to be somewhere in the middle. My go-to for any evening event is string/fairy lights – they are sparkly and pretty, and make any location feel special, whether you’re outdoors or indoors. If it’s a daytime event, although the natural light may be beautiful, be sure to keep a few lamps at the ready in case it’s overcast and gloomy.

Decorations

A great party needs a great environment and this applies whatever the theme or nature of the event. If you have tables, they should always have cloths and be styled (I like a shabby-chic table setting, personally). Little details go a long way with decorations; for example, adding ribbons to folding chairs which match your colour scheme will tie everything together beautifully. Also, my policy with any party is that there is never enough glitter.

Music

I cannot stress how important a good playlist is to the success of a party. The right songs will fill the dance floor, and people are, in my opinion, at their happiest when they are so caught up in the music they get lost in the movement. To keep things fresh and exciting, make sure you have a mix of genres and throw in a generous handful of cheesy tunes. You’ll be surprised who you find shaking it to MC Hammer!

Relax

Keeping these tips in mind will ensure that your guests have an incredible night. But don’t forget to relax and enjoy all your hard work too! People will have the best time if their host is.

Please comment with any other tips or stories you have. I always love reading them. And enjoy all your festive parties this year!

5 Top Tips For A Super Organised Christmas

Beautiful Christmas Tree

As I was enjoying a local firework display this weekend, I felt a sudden surge of excitement despite the freezing temperatures. As much as I love fireworks and sparklers, the end of Bonfire Night means that I can FINALLY get excited about Christmas!

Anyone who knows me will know I am a huge fan of the festive period, so keeping my enthusiasm at bay for this long is usually a challenge to say the least! As soon as I start seeing those Christmas ads on TV and chocolate advent calendars in the shops, I know it’s time to start preparing!

Whilst it might be a bit too early to buy the turkey, there are still lots of things I do to prepare myself ahead of time. I usually go over the top on food, decorations and presents, so I’m always glad to have started planning in early November. Then when it gets to mid-December and my social calendar is jam-packed with fun festive activities, I don’t feel stressed about my Christmas To Do list!

I thought it might be useful to share my top Christmas prep tips for the super-organised amongst you. These are all the things you can do in advance to free up more time later, because really, it’s never too early to start planning for Christmas – is it?!
Decide on Your Plans for The Day

One very basic thing you can do now is to decide on your plans for Christmas Day & Boxing Day. If you’re going to be hosting then make sure you have enough dining space, chairs, crockery, and anything else you might need, so that you can buy or borrow any extras ahead of time. And if you’re not going to be at home this year, then you can make the appropriate travel arrangements ahead of time, particularly if you need to book flights or trains.

Set Your Gift Budgets
I have a history of getting a little overexcited when it comes to buying presents for my nearest and dearest, which has cost me substantial sums of money and many sleepless nights come January. These days I have to set myself a budget to make sure I don’t overspend. There are tonnes of ways you can do this, and in the past, I have used the Christmas Money Planner from the Monday Advice Service to help me figure out my budget breakdown!

Update Your Christmas Card List and Shop for Cards

I like to try and keep on top of my address book all year around, but inevitably it often falls low down my list of priorities. I keep a Christmas card list document on my laptop, so I’ll usually spend an hour or so checking through all the names and addresses to make sure it’s all up to date, as well as adding any new ones.

I also buy my Christmas cards early on so I have more options to choose from. Personally, I like to take this opportunity to support a charity close to my heart, so this year I’ll be buying these cancer charity Christmas cards to send to my loved ones!

Start Shopping
I like to get my shopping done as early as possible. Not only does this mean you can spread the cost over 2 or even 3 months, but it means you can make the most of any early flash sales. I will definitely be checking out the Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals this year to make my money go further!

Check your Christmas Decorations
There’s nothing worse than buying your tree and bringing it home ready to decorate, only to find your box of baubles has smashed, or even worse – you’ve spent ages untangling all those fairy lights and half of them don’t work. If you’re like me, then decorating your tree is serious business, and the earlier you shop for decorations, the more choice you’ll have! I like to spend a lot of time researching Christmas tree ideas to visualise how my tree will look.

I hope these tips will help you kick off your super organised Christmas, so you can have a stress-free festive season!

The Best Independent Markets in Brighton

The wet weather kept me housebound for most of the weekend, so as soon as I saw the sun peering out from behind a big dark cloud I rushed out the door for some much-needed fresh air. I’ve been meaning to follow the Snow Dog trail for a few weeks now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. For those who don’t know, Brighton has been invaded by 45 giant Snow Dog sculptures as part of a free art trail across the city. At the end of the trail, the dogs will be auctioned off to raise money for Martlets Hospice, an amazing local charity that provides support for people dealing with terminal illnesses and their families. Each dog has a different name and design, and the aim is to bring tourists across Brighton as they try to collect them all.

The trail led me to London Road, which is where I found myself when that big dark cloud decided to burst. I dived in to the Open Market seeking cover and proceeded to spend hours browsing around the stalls long after the rain had cleared up. It’s been ages since I’d visited the Open Market and I’d forgotten the joy of sifting through books, clothes, and trinkets in search of hidden treasure. As consumers, we’re doing more and more online shopping than ever, and whilst it’s convenient, it’s not the same as stumbling across a handmade or one of a kind item from one of Brighton’s amazing independent shops. With Christmas coming up I know I’ll be paying another visit to the Open Market in search of original gifts, so I’ve put together this guide to the best independent markets and shops in the city!

Brighton Open Market

The much-loved Brighton Open Market features a range of stalls selling everything from local produce, to arts and fashion items. All of the stalls are run by local producers and include ethical products. My personal favourite was the Shaboutique shop, where you can pick up one of a kind items from furniture to clothing. Everything is made entirely from recycled materials and it’s all stunning. I know what I’ll be putting on my Christmas list!

Snoopers Paradise

If you love anything vintage, then you need to pay a visit to Snoopers Paradise in the North Laine. It’s two floors of retro clothing and bric-a-brac, and there is even a boutique market on the top floor called Snoopers Attic. Here you can buy clothing, textiles, hand-crafted jewellery and loads more from independent local designers. Everything is unique, and you can actually speak to the person who made the item. Palomita is one example of the kind of designers who sell at the boutique. The stunning and colourful jewellery is made from natural objects, making it the perfect Christmas gift for your eccentric aunt or eco-conscious sister.

Brighton Flea Market

There is nothing quite like a flea market, with its hidden corners and piles of dusty items. If you’re prepared to rummage, then you could unearth some forgotten antiques and treasures at Brighton Flea Market in Kemptown. I find flea markets particularly useful when shopping for fathers, grandfathers and uncles as you can pick some cool throwback items that always go down well. I’ve been looking at some gorgeous watch boxes for men as Christmas gifts this year, but have seen some stylish retro 50s and 60s prints in the Brighton Flea Market that would also make good gifts for older male relatives!

Brighton Craft Fair

For a gift with a real personal touch, the Craft Fair is a great place to start. It’s held on the last Saturday of every month and has a wide variety of sellers, who are always changing. So no matter how many times you go, you will always find something different. The next one is coming up so make sure to catch it at the end of October!

My Summer Bucket List

I thought it would be nice to continue following on from the very summery theme my blog has taken on this month with a nice bucket list. The hubby and I are still deliberating the best destination for our holiday (if it happens), so in the meantime I’ll talk about some my summer plans closer to home!

Source: Wikipedia

Tan

It doesn’t matter whether we go abroad or not this summer, nothing will stop me topping up my tan. The weather has stayed so nice that it even looks like I might get a healthier glow in the UK than I would if we went away. Alright, maybe that’s a bit far-fetched, but no one can argue against how lovely it’s been.

I honestly couldn’t be better placed for summer tan: Brighton is gorgeous. The beach is always packed on the particularly sizzling days; it does get really overcrowded, so I always opt for a spot on Hove lawns or Pavilion Gardens to beat the crowds. With that being said, the atmosphere in Brighton is always so friendly I really couldn’t care less about the thousands that take to the streets.

Hundreds of London day trippers, students and Brightonians create an incredible buzz, especially in North Laine or along the promenade. There’s no animosity or frustration, everyone is just really keen to get themselves an ice cream from Marocco’s and enjoy the sun with their family.

If you wanted a perfect example of what I’m talking about – there’s no better than…

Pride

Brighton Pride – one of my favourite days of the year!

2016 has been really depressing for news. It feels like there’s conflict all over the world, not to mention how divisive the politics has been, I’m really looking forward to seeing everyone come together again for Brighton Pride! I never knew that Brighton Pride is the biggest pride festival in the UK? It’s only a week away and I just can’t wait. I’d like to go to Preston Park this year to see the parade again – incredible outfits, even more incredible outfits and the most vibrant display of colour.

I’m planning on renting a Nikon D5 for Pride next week. Firstly, it’s only £125, which I thought was an absolute steal and secondly – it’s meant to be amazing for tracking focus and low light. There might be an unparalleled display of colour, but a sizable portion of the Pride festival attractions are situated in tents. I always find them particularly dimly lit – so I’m hoping this camera might be the best one for the job. Don’t be surprised if my pictures come out looking like they came from India’s Holi Festival! With that being said, I’m not even the most talented photographer – so don’t expect too much. I just wish I had one for my own wedding, it’s meant to be perfect for that sort of thing. I guess we’ll let the camera do the work!

Keeping Active

The temptation in this sort of weather is to eat fatty foods, drink far too much alcohol and exercise even less. Not this summer. Of course, I have the added incentive of keeping fit so that my holiday pics won’t look like the “before” pictures from a diet plan!

I’m not promising anything again though. As much as I’ve worked hard on it over the years, my self-restraint always wavers when it comes to cocktails, but I’m determined. I’ve found morning yoga sessions particularly great for me, they let me clear my head and start the day relaxed. I might even get my bike up and running again and see if I can remember how to pedal. You might think I’m a pyramid scheme saleswoman for the city of Brighton at this point, but this city is ideal for riding your bike too. There are so many parks, cycle lanes along the seafront and even the South Downs if I was feeling super healthy.

No excuses, I’m going to get it all done!

Top Style Ideas for A Perfect Winter Wedding

Winter may not be the most popular season to get married, but a Winter wedding can be a fantastic occasion. Planning the big day in accordance with the season gives you thematic options for the decor, the attire and the venue itself.

Obviously the colder weather and potential for snowfall can make planning weddings at this time of year a challenging task but as the trend towards Winter weddings grows the options open to couples improve with every passing month.

Fireplaces

Source: pp.vk.me

A warm and enclosed space is generally recommended for weddings in the Winter months so when you’re picking the perfect winter wedding venue you may wish to consider a big, historic building with open fireplaces. Offering a rustic charm and genuine warmth, the roar of an open fire is hard to beat and will give your guests some fantastic memories along with some excellent photo opportunities.

Weather Proof Venues

Source: http://theorangerymaidstone.com/

At any time of year arrangements need to be made to ensure you’re prepared for extreme weather but in Winter particularly you’ll want to triple check your contingency plans just in case you’re hit by a blizzard on the big day!

You’ll no doubt want some outside space even if it’s exceptionally chilly, for the smokers and anyone who just fancies a little fresh air if the occasion all gets a bit much! With this in mind be sure to prep your deck space in case of freezing and look at patio heaters if appropriate. Many venues will already have the gear you want but if you don’t check first you won’t know!

Snowfall

Source: asiaweddingnetwork.com

As much as you want to be prepared for the worst, you also don’t want to be depending on the weather and whilst your magical wedding dream may have featured crisp snowfall, you certainly can’t guarantee it, unless you arrange it yourself!

The good news is you can arrange it yourself so don’t leave it to chance, get yourself some artificial snowfall to complete the picture perfect wedding you’ve always wanted.