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Hi everyone! We have arrived back in London safe and sound after our three weeks away! A three week holiday was so amazing and felt like we had been away for so long! We were so lucky to have the opportunity to do everything that we did and we had some truly incredible experiences and have made some memories for life.

Continuing with our Thailand Diaries, today I’m going to tell you about one of my favourite things we did from the entire trip; going to visit an elephant sanctuary. I have been to Thailand before and although I was mostly keen to try new things, I knew I wanted to stick with the elephant park I went to last time. It was so amazing and they treated their elephants so well I thought it would be silly to try and find another which was as good.

Baan Chang Elephant Park means ‘Home of the Elephants’ (Baan meaning home and Chang meaning elephant) in Thai. They pride themselves on reducing elephants from the logging industry and from the cruel ‘shows’ which unfortunately still go on in parts of Thailand. These elephants would not be able to be released into the wild as they are too tame, but they give them a home and look after them very well. All the elephants have a ‘mahout’: a Thai man who stays with them and builds a relationship with them and teaches them basic commands.

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Our day with the elephants was one of, if not the, most memorable experiences of the entire trip.  They are truly majestic creatures and so much bigger than you could ever imagine in real life! It was a real honour to spend the day helping to look after them.  In the morning we were introduced to some of the elephants and were able to feed them their ‘morning snack’ – about 3 baskets full of bananas and sugar cane each! I had no idea how much elephants need to eat!  This was great fun because they are so cheeky particularly the younger ones, stealing food out of our hands that was meant for other elephants and so on.  They really are playful animals and have got a real personality of their own!

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After lunch we had the opportunity to ride our elephant which we had been looking after. I know this is a bit of a controversial topic and some people don’t agree with it but at Baan Chang they don’t use cages, seats or any kind of contraption for the visitors to ride the elephants; we sat on them bare back and went on a short trek which was their daily exercise. The park maintain that in traditional Thai culture an elephant is looked after by his mahout friend for his whole life and he will carry him around on his back without any trouble, therefore they do not mind being ridden as long as it is not using chairs or cages which hurt their skin. Riding this huge creature through the jungle was amazing and I felt like we really got close to our elephant and developed a bond of trust – although it was scary at first!

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The last part of the day was definitely the best; bathing our elephant in the lake! This was a beautiful experience. The elephants love it! We each were given a bucket and scrubbing brush and as we brushed them with the water they laid down on their side and kicked about playing like children!! Then they started squirting their trunks everywhere! It was hilarious and something I will never forget.

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If you are visiting Chiang Mai I would thoroughly recommend the Baan Chang Elephant park for your elephant experience. In my opinion they get the right balance of education and fun! Definitely one to tick off the bucket list. Although I could do it again and again!

Look out for my next Thailand Diaries – when we move on to the bright lights of Bangkok!

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Oxford is one of the UK’s most popular tourist cities after London for a reason. It is seriously beautiful there and I wanted to share some of my photographs with you.

During the half term holidays I was desperate to make the most of my time off and I scoured Groupon and Wowcher for a cheap weekend away deal which wouldn’t be too far from home.  I found a great deal on Wowcher which was a hotel, dinner and spa break deal for two nights just outside of Oxford.  I have been to Oxford before but it was many years ago so I thought this was a great opportunity to explore the famous University city again and combine it with a quiet, relaxing weekend away from London.

A word about the hotel – the Bignall Park Hotel. A perfectly lovely and comfortable hotel in an excellent location for exploring both Oxford and Bicester Village. We weren’t expecting anything amazing as these deals never are but it was great for what we wanted. The food was really good quality too.

When in a city as beautiful as Oxford it is only right to spend several hours wandering around looking at the beautiful architecture and taking pretty pictures of it.  We took the decision to be frugal and not take a bus or person tour but everything is so central it is easy to get round and see all the colleges and university buildings on your own. I love how they are all nestled throughout the city and the students have the total run of the place! The whole city centre has got a really cool, studenty vibe which I really liked.

Other things worth doing while you are there? Well, I’d recommend the covered market in the city centre for food, coffee or a bit of Christmas shopping. It’s full of unique shops and crafty stalls selling beautiful gifts. Of course, the city is full of ‘University Memorabilia’ shops, which ones are legit I’m not sure but you can get some really nice hoodies and mugs with ‘University of Oxford’ emblazoned on the front. My main tips regarding planning a trip to Oxford would be; do not drive! We were planning to but were advised by our hotel to use the local park and ride. It’s super convenient, costs a few pounds and  removes infinite stress of trying to finding a parking space and then paying £5per hour to stay there.

It really is a stunning city full of culture and history, and is an important city which defines the UK’s image in a big way.  If you haven’t been I would thoroughly recommend it to anyone.

Have you been to Oxford?

I’m not sure about you but I have a real weakness store; a shop that I can’t go past without going in, and equally can’t go in without buying something. For me, it’s Waterstones. Ever since I was a little girl I have loved book shops. I really feel like they are magical places full of dreams, ideas, stories and information. Book shops speak to me – and Waterstones more than most.

On this occasion, I made a purchase which I am really excited to share with you. It’s not something I ever would have thought about or even know existed but it’s such a brilliant and special idea. I wish I’d thought of it to be honest!

So what is it? 

As you can see it’s a gorgeous little hard back book, embossed with gold and gold edged pages. It really is something beautiful to behold.

But it was the idea of this little book which attracted me to it. It’s called ‘One Line A Day..’ And that’s the idea of it basically. Inside it looks kind of like a diary but with a very small section for each day – enough to write one or two lines a day. The idea is that every day you jot down a line about what you did, how you’re feeling, something funny, something sad, something – anything! And there is enough space for five years worth of lines.

I’m so excited to start it in January! I think the key is going to be remembering to do it every night, being consistent and being honest. There are bound to be ups and downs in five years and I won’t want to read how every day was ‘amazing’ in the future! I bought this book because I think looking back over the lines and comments across five years of my life will be amazing. Especially since we have so many plans for the next five years and I hope they will be the most exciting years yet!

What do you think of this journaling idea? What you take the challenge?

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