Holiday in Gibraltar

Reminiscing in Gibraltar

Five years had gone by since we last visited Gibraltar, somewhere extremely close to my whole family’s heart, and on our relaxing trip back last month, we realised how much it has changed in that time.  Modern complexes, plush hotels and fancy restaurants have been built up, turning what was once a quiet and unheard of place into a tourist haven. But despite the changes, as soon as we stepped off the plane I felt like I had come home.

After asking the friendly airport security for a stamp in our passports (because passport stamps are extremely important to us travellers!), we walked across the airport runway – one of the only runways in the world that cars and pedestrians can cross.  We made our way to our hotel knowing exactly which direction to take like we’d never even left. I recognised the flats where our family used to live, Casemates Square where we went for drinks at night, and the restaurants we used to eat at on the marina.

As we walked along the water towards our hotel, I remembered wandering along here 8 years ago, hand in hand with my new husband.

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Bob Bob Ricard

An Anniversary Celebration at Bob Bob Ricard

It was our 8 year wedding anniversary last weekend (yes that does make me feel very old!) and we wanted to celebrate the occasion somewhere special.  I had the perfect place in mind – Bob Bob Ricard, a glamorous restaurant in Soho serving up a luxury English and Russian menu.  Okay, in all honesty I really wanted to go here for the famous “Press for Champagne” button that every table has, making it the restaurant that pours the most champagne in the whole of the UK.  But silly me had left it till the last minute and being a Saturday night meant there were only super early or ridiculously late times still available for dinner.  Thankfully, with lots of patience and perseverance, I managed to grab ourselves a cancellation at a reasonable time.

Bob Bob Ricard is a far cry from the little quirky independent restaurants we usually eat at.  Mr Ayla’s reaction to the sparkly gold exterior and well dressed doormen as we walked past a couple of months ago was something along the lines of “That’s somewhere we would NEVER go”.  Clearly he had underestimated how much I wanted to press that button.

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Catalan Bay Gibraltar

Can Travel Bloggers Have “Normal” Holidays? My Non-Blogging Break to Gibraltar

Before I even started writing a travel blog, I always loved trips that involved jam-packed itineraries, fascinating tours and delicious foodie finds. I thrive on exploring new places, learning about different cultures and seeing new things, and writing this blog has only made me even more consumed when it comes to planning trips. But our recent break to Gibraltar included none of this. This was the first time I was going away with family since I started blogging, but this trip wasn’t going to be a blogging one; it was to celebrate my mum’s birthday and to unwind in a place that is close to all our hearts.

But, unable to shake my typical blogger ways, the obsessive trip planner in me started to panic a few days before we left. We had absolutely nothing planned and I really do mean nothing. I hadn’t organised a single tour because we’d pretty much seen all of Gibraltar already and I hadn’t even scouted out any new restaurants to try. What on earth were we going to do for 4 whole days?!

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Mayfield Lavender

A Floral Fantasy at Mayfield Lavender

I have always been a self-confessed girly girl; I like pretty, pink, sparkly things, I always wear a bit of mascara, and everything Disney makes me happy.  But when it comes to flowers, supposedly one of the most romantic gifts for us gals, I am just not impressed.  Mr Ayla knows that I would rather be treated to a book over a bunch of roses because, while they may be beautiful, what’s the point when they just die?!

Lately however, I seem to have taken a liking for all sorts of beautiful bright flowers.  Not the ones that I can quickly kill off at home, but those I can visit in abundance and know that they will still be blossoming long after I’ve left.  We had some Adventures in Kent’s Bluebell Woods earlier in the year and this weekend we visited Mayfield Lavender Farm in Surrey where 25 acres of bright lavender blossom over the summer months.

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Windfalls Boutique Hotel

Pre-Holiday Luxury at Windfalls Boutique Hotel

Staying at an airport hotel seems to have become my favourite way to start off a holiday, especially when we have to get up at a ridiculously early hour for our flight. Not only does it make the start of a trip so much less stressful but it also means we can technically start the trip a day early!

As soon as I came across Windfalls Boutique Hotel, a small luxury guest house just a short drive from Gatwick Airport, I knew this was where I wanted to stay the night before our trip to Gibraltar. Each of the five rooms looked like pure luxury decorated in calming colours with huge four poster beds. It looked like the perfect place to start off our relaxing break.

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Cocktails in the City

Delectable Cocktails, Fun and Games at Cocktails in the City

If you noticed me going slightly bonkers over National Piña Colada Day a couple of weeks ago then you’ll know how strong my desire of a good cocktail is. Whether I’m sipping one on an exotic beach somewhere in the world or dressed up to the nines in a fancy London cocktail bar, you can pretty much guarantee that I’ll have a cocktail in my hand.  Or even both hands on some occasions.

So you can imagine how thrilled I was to win a pair of tickets to Cocktails in the City, a mini cocktail festival where a selection of London’s best bars serve up this season’s most delectable drinks along with some mouth-watering street food, funky music, and fun and games.

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Afternoon tea bus tour London

An Afternoon Tea Bus Tour of London

I’m a born and bred Londoner so it’s only natural that I should love the quintessentially English occasion of afternoon tea. Afternoon teas with a twist especially take my fancy like the burgerlicious tea we demolished at BRGR.CO or the fun cocktail making afternoon tea at Hush. So when I heard about the tea by BB Bakery that is set on an old double-decker red bus and takes guests on a sightseeing tour of London while they eat, well you can only imagine how excited I was.

I boarded the bus with fellow blogger ladies Shikha and Char and we took our seats on the top deck where the tables were beautifully laid out with tiered trays of finger sandwiches, mini turkey salad rolls and mini quiches. After the obligatory foodie snaps, we delved straight into the savoury tier which went down a treat.  I loved that they provided something different to just the normal sandwiches that most afternoon teas serve.

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48 hours in Dublin

48 Hours in Dublin

After a flight from London that was so quick I hardly had time for a power nap, we arrived in Dublin, somewhere we have lived so close to our whole lives but were only just getting around to visiting.  Knowing we only had 48 hours in this small but fascinating city we headed straight out to the main strip of Temple Bar to see what all the fuss was about.

As it was late evening by the time we set out, crowds of people already lined the street, spilling out the doors of every pub and restaurant, drinking and chatting away, listening to the street music that was being played on each corner.  For fear of being crushed in the stampede of whiskey induced tourists, we headed to Bad Bobs which was slightly less packed but still had a lively atmosphere.  We just about managed to find a seat, ordered some drinks and a huge plate of spicy chicken wings, sang along to the entertaining live band and giggled at the drunken groups of friends (and a policeman who looked suspiciously like a stripper) enjoying the weekend.

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Summer reads

My Summer Reads

Sitting on the beach, my toes nestled in the hot sand, the sound of the sea lapping against the shore, and a bright blue sky above me. With a fruity cocktail in one hand, a book in the other, and Mr Ayla sitting next to me – this is my paradise. My blissful moment that I imagine myself in every time I want to get away or just relax.

Thankfully we seem to have been blessed with some sunny days in London recently – it is now July after all – and this means that the colourful summer dresses, flip flops and sunglasses have made their way back into my life. And while books are always in my life whatever the weather, summer is the perfect time to sink into those more light hearted happy reads to match the season. For chilling in the garden, picnicking in the park, or catching some sun on the beach in an exotic destination, all with a good book in hand.

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The Medieval Banquet review

An Evening of Festivities at the Medieval Banquet

Feasting with Henry VIII and his royal subjects was not how I ever envisioned spending an evening. But a couple of weeks ago, in the historic area of St Katharine Docks , we did just that. A four course meal, unlimited red wine and ale, and entertainment fit for a king awaited us at the Medieval Banquet.

We were led underground, past coats of armour and a wall lined with swords, into the depths of the Banquet, where rows upon rows of long tables were waiting to be filled. We took our seats next to where all the action would be, hoping that the other people joining our table were in the mood for a fun evening.

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