It was a good few months ago now that we went on our sneaky Easter minibreak escape to Montenegro and I’m ashamed that I haven’t had a chance to publish a travel post about it yet! So, before we go on our summer holiday (2 weeks and counting!) I thought it only fair to give our trip a little write up and share our photographs seeing as it was so stunning.

The first question most people asked us when we mentioned where we were going was.. well.. why Montenegro? It’s a fair question. Up to this point we are the only people we know out of all of our friends and extended family that have ever been! Scores of people seem to flood to Croatia these days, so I find the lack of the same enthusiasm for it’s neighbour odd, as Montenegro shares a similar vibe, climate and even looks similar! Plus, it’s still a pretty undiscovered gem, so perfect for a quiet, secret escape!

Our holiday

As it was a quick ‘let’s get out of here’ last minute holiday affair, we decided to go inexpensive and simple. Out of season (early April) the climate in Montenegro looked good and we found a great value all inclusive deal at a five star hotel in the holiday beach resort of Budva. All inclusive is not usually something we would go for our main holiday because we like to cook for ourselves and eat out in different places, but for the type of super relaxing short break we wanted we decided to go for it.

The hotel was called the Iberostar Bellevue and it was absolutely stunning. I was blown away when we first got there. Mainly because I’ve never seen a beachfront hotel over looking the sea which is also surrounded by spectacular mountains on the other side! The landscape was just something that you would never see in your normal Spain/ Portugal holidays and I couldn’t get over it! I was super happy to take loads of gorgeous photos with the stunning backdrop. Our room was fine, perfectly comfortable and functional with a lovely big balcony and a sea view which we weren’t expecting and was a lovely surprise. We could actually hear the sound of the waves at night which was amazing.

The Iberostar Belleview hotel

The weather we had was mixed. A bit of rain on the first two days so we took the opportunity to explore the local historic town of Budva and the montain city of Kotor to get some culture and sightseeing in. Due to it being out of season, Budva was a bit dead with a lot of shops and restaurants closed, but Kotor was much more lively and seemed to have a lot of tourists visiting despite the weather. Budva would definitely be worth a day trip particularly the old town to see the historic architecture, and the harbour which had some pretty pricey looking sun seekers! There were also some nice craft shops and cute restaurants.

Budva harbour

Budva old town

The city of Kotor was about an hour bus ride away and it was a whole other level of beautiful! If I had visualised a perfect, quaint Eastern European town then this was it. You can climb up some mountains at the back towards a church and get a load of this crazy stunning view.

The holiday was perfect for what we wanted, a ‘do-nothing’, relaxing break with a bit of sunshine.

 

I would thoroughly recommend considering Montenegro for your next holiday. It’s got great summer weather, beautiful safe beaches and stunning landscapes. Kotor is a stunning historic city and well worth a visit, as it’s a pretty small country most of it is accessible with a short car or bus journey. Although it was a bit quiet when we were there, you could tell that they were gearing up for a busy summer season so there would be no shortage of things to do there.

Have you been to Montenegro? Would you consider it?

 

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I’m back!

I know I’ve been a bit absent lately; I’ve had A LOT of work stuff going on recently which is not something that I really talk about in my blog, which I think leads a lot of people to think this is my full time career! I wish it was, but sadly, I also have a full time job. One that has been extremely stressful lately and has taken over most aspects of my life! I’ve really missed blogging.

Anyway, I’m out of the woods and back on my A game! Luckily, I have lots of things to write about and fill you in on! Last weekend was mine and Paul’s first wedding anniversary weekend and we had the most INCREDIBLE time I’ve been so excited to share it! I can’t believe it’s been a year it’s gone so fast!

First up, year one is paper and Paul took it upon himself (cutie that he is) to organise a surprise weekend for me seeing as I was so bogged down with work. Paper being the theme – he prepared 5 paper envelopes for me to open at different times over the weekend, each containing a different surprise activity! Such a cute idea I loved it.

On Saturday (the day before our actual anniversary) when at 9am I was instructed to get up, dressed (smart/casual and comfy!) and pack an overnight bag! Eeeeeek! The first envelope contained lunch reservations at The Urban Meadow Café & Bar, Bayswater; a gorgeous West London restaurant overlooking Hyde Park. I was so impressed with the food there and we pigged out on a three course meal. The puddings in particular were spectacular – check out the fruit crumble I had!

The second envelope contained our booking at La Suite West Hyde Park, our hotel for the evening! It was at this point I realised we were staying in central London for the night so I was super excited trying to guess what we would be doing that evening! We went to check in to the boutique hotel which was absolutely beautiful, all marble bathroom, pure white sheets and a HUGE bed! What is it about nice hotels always having the comfiest beds in the world?! Seriously, it was like lying on a marshmallow.

We had a couple of hours to ‘kill’ before the next envelope, but in that part of London it’s never really killing time as there is so much to do! We wandered around Hype Park for a bit, and despite the dismal forecast the rain held off for us and it was quite warm (more on that later!!). We walked up to Portobello Road market, one of my favourite parts of the city, and enjoyed listening to live music and people watching, perfectly poised in the window of the Electric Diner Notting Hill sipping delicious gin cocktails. We had so much fun and what with me being so busy and stressed out lately it was so so nice to spend some quality time together without distractions.

At 5pm it was back to the hotel and the third envelope contained dinner reservations at the hotel restaurant; a raw and vegan only restaurant! Paul had pre booked the set menu and it was really interesting to try some vegan food as it’s not something I’ve had much experience with in the past! I know he won’t mind me saying (as he agreed!!) that it wasn’t my favourite food in the world – I think it’s safe to say we are both hard-core carnivores! But it was great to do something different. Before I knew it we were in a taxi and it was time for the fourth envelope as we made our way across town.

I was so excited to find out that the evening surprise was tickets to On The Town at the Open Air Theatre in Regents Park! I had a sneaky suspicion it might be the theatre (Paul was adamant the taxi picked us up at 7pm on the dot!) but I never thought he would have remembered that I’d said ages ago that I’d like to see it! I love open air theatre, something about being outside makes it magical, plus the fact that On The Town stars Danny Mac; my Strictly Come Dancing fave!! The theatre itself was amazing, all done up with twinkly fairy lights and an outdoor bar. We made our way to our excellent seats with a bottle of red wine ready for the show to start, and promptly it began to pour with torrential rain! Luckily, Paul had been prepared and asked me to bring a raincoat, even more luckily the theatre were clearly used to this – they waited for the rain to pass and about 10 minutes later they towelled down the stage and the show began! We were lucky – if the rain had been persistent I expect it would have been cancelled as there is so much leaping about in the choreography I don’t think it would be safe! But after one short spell of downpour we were in for a warm and pleasant evening.

The production was fantastic! Dancing, singing and acting all brilliant, wonderful costumes, the play was funny and moving with enough of a nod to the traditional ‘cheesy’ aspect of it but also with new contemporary styling thrown in. And with the natural light going from light, to dusk, to dark and being surrounded by nature made it extra magical for me. I would thoroughly recommend it.

After we stayed the night in the stunning La Suite West Paul said we were going home in the morning (our actual anniversary) so we went home and chilled out for a bit before opening the final envelope which was the best of them all!! Tickets to see Little Mix at their Summer Shout Out tour that evening! I literally jumped around the room when he told me I was SO EXCITED! I’ve been wanting to see them for so long.

And they did not disappoint! WOW those girls have sass and such incredible bods! I could really use some of their confidence!  They really put on a show and sang and danced literally non stop every single hit they sang it – finishing with Shout Out To My Ex and everyone was jumping and singing along it was incred! The weather played nice as well we had beautiful late evening sunshine, I felt like I was loving life at a festival! Seriously girls, you killed it.

 

SO after an amazing and exhausting weekend I can’t believe how lucky I am to have such an amazing husband who knows me inside out. Not just with presents but with the everyday things that really matter, I can’t believe how lucky I am to be married to someone like Paul who makes my life complete. Love you x

 

 

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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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Our trip to Thailand. 3 weeks, 5 locations, 6 flights, 2 sleeper trains and countless buses. So many experiences, memories and photos! In this post I’m going to share my favourite experiences with you through the photos we took.

1. Wat Pho – Bangkok city centre.

Bangkok is a tourist carousel and the temples (Wat’s in Thai) are all part of it. The Grand Palace is beautiful, sure, but it costs £10 for entry per person and is absolutely heaving with tourists. Wat Pho is the Grand Palace’s less popular baby brother; situated just behind and equally as impressive and glittering. It also costs less than £5 entry so great if you are on a shoestring. The reclining golden Buddha is one of the most incredible man-made wonders I have seen.

2. Thai Farm Cooking School – Chiang Mai.

Getting out of the city to visit this tranquil organic farm, picking out ingredients and cooking up authentic Thai dishes was a pretty wonderful day. Read my full review here.

3. Sunday Night Market – Chiang Mai

Market doesn’t really cover it to be honest. We spent 3 hours wandering through this and didn’t even cover a small percentage of it! It is seriously huge and very, very busy; but with an amazing atmosphere and full of beautiful hand crafted items and Thai products. The majority of ‘markets’ in Thailand are packed full of fake Ray Bans and toy elephants so this market is a real breath of fresh and every stall is different. TIP: go early to avoid getting crushed in the crowd!

4. Baan Chang Elephant Park – Chiang Mai

Not only one of the best experiences  of my trip but one of the best experiences of my life! Spending the day with this beautiful, magnificent creatures was a genuine honour. They are gentle giants. The park takes great care of them and takes pride in educating the tourists who visit about the elephants and their behaviour and lives. Getting the bathe the elephants was the best part and this picture is of me getting caught up in a trunk spray war!

5. Cheow Lan Lake – Khao Sok National Park

It was so hard to choose a photograph from these few days. The park is truly stunning and there were a million photos to choose from. Everything from hiking to waterfalls, amazing views and the beautiful lake which we swam in. This photo is me enjoying a hot rain storm which literally came and went in 3 minutes! Incredible.

6. Snorkelling at Ko Rok – Ko Lanta

I love the water especially when it’s crystal clear blue like the sea at Ko Rok! A tiny, uninhabited island off Ko Lanta surrounded by corals and tropical fish. We even saw Nemo!

7. View point – Koh Phi Phi

A longggg hike up there in the sweaty humidity but the view was so worth it. Koh Phi Phi is paradise.

8. Monkey army – Railay beach

Railay is mostly a relaxed and chilled out place – other than their tribes of criminal monkeys of course! Luckily we didn’t lose our phones or camera to them, but we saw several people lose their dinner! It’s amazing to watch their behaviour so close. They have learnt that if the babies distract the humans the grown ups can sneak up behind and nick the goods! Incredible to witness.

9. Railay Beach – Krabi Province

Although this beach is a bit busy do my liking there is no escaping the fact that it is absolutely drop dead stunning. The limestone cliffs shield it giving a totally unobstructed view and meaning it is only accessible by long tail boat! Not to mention the powdery white sand and crystal clear water. Pure paradise.

10. Sunset at Phra Nang beach – Krabi Province

Railay beach’s baby brother and home to the ‘happy rock’, in the day time I would say this beach is over rated. Packed full of day trippers to the point where there is no where to put your towel and a lot of ‘snack boats’ turn up at lunch time to feed the ravenous tourists. However, at sunset, when everyone has gone; it is truly spectacular.

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I hope you enjoyed these photos and that I may have persuaded you to visit my favourite country in the world (so far!!). If you would like to see more keep an eye on my ‘Thailand diaries’ travel series or check out our Instagram page! 

 

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! I hope you are starting to get in the mood and feel all festive. Incase you’re struggling then I thought I’d share with you some of Paul’s brilliant photography of our weekend by the seaside in the New Forest last week.

The New Forest is an absolutely stunning part of the world and I would recommend a visit to anyone, particularly at this time of year. This time we visited the quaint town of Lymington for their Christmas tree festival and to have a look around their shops. It’s absolutely perfect for Christmas shopping their; packed full of independent gifty shops and places where you can pick up something unique, as well as lovely cafes and a cute little harbour. It’s also really picturesque as you can see.


The next morning the sky cleared and we heading down to one of my favourite stretches of coastline in the UK; Friars Cliff (also called Avon Beach I think). For December is was unseasonably warm and the sun was so bright – we actually sat outside to drink our hot chocolates. We walked all the way along this gorgeous beach and got some lovely photographs. The pastel beach huts are my favourite part!


Beautiful! Well worth a visit. If you want to read more about what the New Forest has to offer click here.