Gorilla Circus Review

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So, its been a little while since i’ve left a review. I’ve been busy doing fun things and keep meaning to review them! so to start off I will review something i did recently… There have been a lot of birthdays of late and to commemorate, a bunch of us (6 of us and a baby) decided to get together for a fun time in London!

I’m not sure how I came across Gorilla Circus, but i remember reading raving reviews about it and thought it would make a fun day out. Now… i have a confession to make..i actually sat this one out and opted to look after the baby, but i intend to take part next time! needless to say after taking part my friends were all buzzing.

As we decided to take part in the flying trapeze during the colder months the experience was actually held indoors at the Hangers Art centre in North Greenwich.

The people that run Gorilla Circus have to be just about the friendliest people ever. They made everyone feel at ease and were great in letting us bring a baby (11 month baby) and they were even great WITH the baby. The session cost £29 per person and we were booked on the 11:45 session. Initially we were asked to sign waivers and names were taken to go on the chalkboard (this is the order in which we would be ‘flying’) there are a total of 10 people to a session.

The session started with a warm up to loosen joints and stretch out, everyone was fitted with harnesses (which would later clip on to the safety rope) and then everyone was led to a low bar to learn a ‘simple trick’….feed your legs through the bar and end up hanging from your knees! surprisingly everyone managed to do this and we were advised that this would be easier once on the high bar due to the momentum.

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After that everyone was advised that when it was their turn one by one everyone would clip on to their harness and ascend the flimsy ladder to the platform. once up there you would be clipped on to the safety rope on either side of your harness.

everyone was shown an example of what they were expected to do…ready? ok well…this is how it would work.. there would be someone on the ground shouting instructions. when they would say Ready! you would bend your legs, when they said Hup! you would swing out, once swinging back you would bring your legs inside the bar and hang from your knees bringing your arms down above your head, once swinging back out again you would do a flip and land on the net. yep…thats right.. no warm up to swing on the bar…just straight in there with the trick…everyone looked on in disbelief… not quite believing it was possible… but what we need to remember is the guys at Gorilla Circus are absolutly brilliant and if they didn’t think it was possible.. they would not suggest it! so one by one pretty much everyone was successful in achieving what was thought was the impossible.

Once you’d hit the net and were dismounting an instructor would call you over and give you tips of getting better and how to improve for the next ‘flight’. Everyones turn came around quickly and after around 5 turns it was time for the grand finale..the instructors picked people from the group they felt were ready…for…the catch.

Everyone had a final flight but the people that had been selected would be caught whilst hanging from their knees by someone on another trapeze…and yes, this too was possible! people whooped and clapped on every single catch. adrenaline was pumping, hearts were racing and we all headed home feeling euphoric.

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In culmination this was an amazing experience and loved by all even those that were apprehensive at first.

Gorilla Circus have just released dates for the summer which will be taking place in Regents Park and promises to be another action packed and fun experience.

Summer BBQ at Kensington Roof Gardens Review

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I like to organise a little get together with my friends every 2 months or so as a little catch up. I came across the information that Kensington Roof gardens hosted summer BBQ’s in their Tudor Garden for groups with a minimum of 10 people. As we had just seen a glorious heatwave I thought this would be a lovely option. Prices are £65 per person and include Pimms on arrival, BBQ buffet, live band and free entry in to the club afterwards (normally £25 entry). I have been to Kensington roof gardens before but not for a meal just for the club and I have had amazing nights there. So I really wanted to be able to give this evening an amazing review..

First of all when I went to book the evening of choice I had to email someone at Kensington roof gardens to express my interest and pose any questions I had. I sent my email and enquired regarding the availability of the night in question for a table of 13. I had asked specific questions that I needed the answer to, and rather than answering these questions I was sent a generic email addressed to myself that didn’t address any of the questions that I had asked. Nevertheless I let this go and readdressed my questions again. Unfortunately, replies were laboured and unhelpful at best…for example I was advised a deposit of £30 per person would be required to secure the booking. My questions regarding this was can we all pay individually and also ‘how’ do we pay it? Over phone, internet? Who do we call? Will someone call us? The only response I got to these questions each time I asked was ‘£30 deposit per person are required  within 10 days of booking a provisional date’.

I gathered all the deposits and called the venue to make the payment, 2 weeks later the money was still in my account and no confirmation email had been received to confirm the booking, I sent emails to chase but got no replies and as the date neared I was growing worried that I had 13 people looking forward to an evening out that had yet to be confirmed and should they advise this is not confirmed nearer the time would I have enough time to book elsewhere?! After not having received replies to any of my emails I was forced to call in to request a confirmation email only to be advised that it was with the accounts department and they will process it in due course. After still not hearing back a couple days later I was forced to chase by email again and call at which point I finally received my confirmation email to say the deposit had been received. This kind of ruined the experience for me in a way, however I let it go as I was looking forward to the evening.

We all turned up to the venue from 7pm onwards and were greeted by a doorman who took our names at the door and guided us to a lift heading towards the 6th floor. Once there we were greeted once again by more door people and we were given a poker chip each (to claim our pimms arrival drink) and led to the Spanish garden. There was a band playing in the corner however the garden was lovely and it was nice to have an area to socialise with a drink before the meal. We were allocated a waiter who seemed to constantly be inquiring regarding any drinks we might want despite having only just walked through the door with welcome drinks in hand (drinks are NOT included in the £65 price) This constant inquiring was a little stressful and irritating and we would have preferred to have been left alone until we felt the need for a drink. Our whole party had not yet arrived and we were led to our table which was located in the Tudor garden. The tables were set beautifully under umbrellas and gazebos and it did provide for a beautiful setting.

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A few people were yet to arrive but that didn’t stop the same waiter trotting over to request that we make our way to the buffet. We advised we would wait a little longer. When we did go to the buffet a number of people commented how the plates were not even warm and that was a little disappointing. We plied our plates with food and sat down. The meat eaters claimed that their food was lovely. The vegetarians were less impressed. There was not a lot of choice for veggies and fish eaters, the food was not halal for those that would have liked to sample the meat. Apparently the chicken was too dry and our food was already cold by the time we sat down. The waiter continued to pester us regarding drinks and people that were drinking ordered and paid as they went along only to see the hefty OPTIONAL service charge already added to the final balance. Many people commented that they didn’t mind paying the service charge however the way this was included in the bill without advising they had done so was seen as a little rude.

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A few of the guys in the party went back for seconds and the desserts table was probably my favourite with lovely desserts that I could have eaten all night! Shortly afterwards the waiter came over and advised that we would need to leave soon and he will be bringing the bill, which was fine. The bill came and he presented it with a biro ring around the balance and as he handed it over he advised ‘this is the amount you are required to pay’ upon reading the receipt it became clear that they had added a whopping £105 (OPTIONAL) service charge, to be honest at this point I was seeing red so I was quick to whip out my IPhone, subtract the service charge and collect the money we all owed. The waiter was lucky that he received an £18 service tip that I included. After all, there hadn’t been much service, we ourselves had trekked it to the buffet table and dealt with the ‘service’ ourselves. The only service we received was for the drinks we ordered which we had all individually paid ourselves INCLUDING the added service charge..so £105 did not warrant removing a few used plates in my eyes. He took the money (minus OPTIONAL service charge of course) and went away with his tail between his legs but no challenge because we were within our rights not to pay the OPTIONAL service charge. This clearly did not please the waiter as when he was clearing our table the banging around of plates caused him to accidentally knock my friends full glass of beer, the whole glass spilled over the table cloth and upon requesting a replacement drink the waiter responded by advising that this would not be possible and he would need to speak with his manager. Shortly afterwards the drink was replenished, which is just as well considering the obscene prices with added service charge on their alcohol menu.

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In culmination this certainly left a bitter taste in our mouths regarding the method in which they attempted to extract the service charge from their diners. The food in hindsight was not that great and the constant interruptions requesting if we wanted to order drinks was bordering annoyance. None of the 13 people in attendance would return for another summer BBQ at Kensington Roof Gardens, the ambience was splendid however service was incredibly disappointing and tainted our night, however we did love the atmosphere and ambience of the club also and once more people had arrived the club was very happening as usual, however once again the OPTIONAL service charge reared its ugly head at the bars when buying drinks, however this time you would not be aware of it until after you had paid for your drinks and received your receipt and the extortionate prices (read £22 for a double vodka) added insult to injury…so we wont even mention that there was merely a trace of alcohol (only visible to those with an extremely acute sense of taste) in their cocktails. I would definitely return for the club (im teetotal so im always in for a cheap …er night) however I would give eating at the venue a big miss!

Secret Cinema (Back to the Future) Review

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This review is a little late coming, however with this recent popular wave of ‘Immersive Experiences’ I felt the need to leave a review to share with my readers.

Immersive experiences as you are probably aware rely heavily on the ‘unknown’ ..so theoretically, the less the customer/audience knows the better the experience.

I feel that I can now write about my experience at Secret Cinema, due to the fact that the production I went to see is no longer being shown so I can’t exactly spoil it for anyone else.. and I can still give certain readers an idea of what to expect and judge for themselves whether it’s the kind of thing they would want to take part in.

I attended the ‘Secret Cinema presents Back to the Future’ experience. I purchased tickets from their website for £55.65 each and altogether there were  5 of us going to celebrate or friends birthday.

I had entered my email address and details on registering and once I had paid and rec’d my tickets..the experience began!

I received  an email from the ‘mayors office of Hll Valley, advising I needed to sign up at the dept. of social services to collect my ‘business cards’ for my secret Identity, along with this there was a telegram number (for other people to call or leave messages for me – on the internet site), a list of things I needed to bring e:g 3D glasses, picture of me when I was younger etc, there was also instrctions of what to wear, a yellow dress.

This build up certainly raised my expectations and got my hopes set for a great time and I couldn’t wait for the day to come!

A week or so before i needed to register my time of attendance. They had slots of when to be ‘picked up’ and a few days before I was advised of where my pick up would be.

When the day came myself and my friends were all excited and togged up in our 1950’s gear, we headed to the location. We ended up disregarding the ‘pick up location’ as it became quite obvious where the experience was being held ‘olympic park’ so we headed straight there rather than the pick up place they had suggested that seemed like more of a walk. We had tubed it to the location.

Thankfully it was a lovely sunny day which added to the atmosphere, Once there we were immediately struck by the sheer size of the production! We were expecting a small intimate number of people..but here we were walking alongside thousands of people, all dressed in 50’s gear. You couldn’t help but get caught up in the excitement!

Once we drew close to the entrance one of my friends drifted outside of a white line on the pavement and was promptly shouted at in an American accent by a traffic warden in costume , ‘Ma’am!! Can you not see the signs there is no jay walking allowed in this vicinity!! NO JAY WALKING MA’AM!’ very embarrassed but laughing she quietly filed in behind us and as hundreds in the queue marvelled at the immersive experience. Queueing was not a long ordeal which was a good thing! As the queue was HUGE, however al the tickets appeared to be electronic so the queue moved swiftly.

As we made it past security there was an areawhere you could hand in valuables and namely mobiles. (photos are strictly forbidden in the experience – which is why this blog wont have many pohotos taken by myself!) the only way you can have a momento of this day is if you purchase one of their overpriced disposable cameras.

Anyway moving on from the security we went past a small farmyard, with a few anmals, sheep, chickens etc.. im not sure exactly what was the purpose of this… I can only assume it’s a reference to something in the movie that I cannot recall.

The whole experience was an outdoor activity, so it was a good job it was a warm day! All around us was mock up building from the movie. The hill valley sign, the diner, the town hall clock tower, the college that George mcfly went to etc.

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It was pretty cool, even if they were a little on the small side.

There had been great attention to detail for example: i was meant to be a secretary and my office held 1950s phone and typewriter etc. people were able to visit each of these areas and wander around them and take photos on their overpriced disposable cameras. There were also houses of the characters dotted aout which you could enter and wander around in.

There were eating places also in the form of food vans around the hill valley ‘fairground’ including rides you could ride on, as well as the famous diner that the characters went to.

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The main attraction here was the sheer volume of people dressed in 50’s clothes that really gave a feel to the experience… it was easy to believe that we were IN the 1950’s. I don’t think I saw anyone that didn’t take part in dressing up. Also the nice thing was…it seemed to be an event that could be enjoyed by families! By that I mean people had bought their children…who were also dressed up in 50’s gear. The nice thing about this for me was that I have a dear friend with a child who gets very depressed at the limited places and experiences she is able to take part in with her child.

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For a majority of the day we were able to wander around and take in the atmosphere, there were areas which were not permitted to be walked on but this was not an issue as there were wardens in costume ensuring people stuck to allowed areas.

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The reason for restricted areas was that vehicles at times would need to pass thru the makeshift ‘roads’ eg Biff in his pick up. The fun thing about this experience was that there were scenes being acted out by actors throughout the day to truly make this immersive. For example, when we were in the diner a couple of seats away Biff was starting on Marty mcfly, when we were in the school hall attending the enchantment under the sea dance, marty mcfly was on the stage with his guitar…looking a tad unwell as 50s dancers rocked and rolled around us.

The day was kept busy as there was so much to see and take part of. Eventually the time came when the movie was to be shown so everyone settled on the blankets and cushions theyd bought from home, on to the big patch of astroturf, infront of the clock tower. The movie was projected on to the wall of the clock tower building so everyone would have a good view. It was lovely to be able to watch a movie outside if a little chilly.

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Key moments in the movie were acted out in front of the projection such as at the beginning when the delorean is chased by libiyans, the props and staging was brilliant and it was fun to see this acted out even if you didn’t need it to be, it was a great touch. Another key point worth a mention was when doc tries to connect the wires to the clock tower in time for lightening to strike, this part was acted out right down to the actor zip lining from the clock!! Everyone loved the affect of the crazy scientist zipping over their heads. The movie carried on to just before midnight..which was a bit of a shame as many people including a few of my friends had to leave early in order to escape the rush and ensure they caught the last tube home!

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This was such a shame as many people were not able to stay and enjoy the live band and 50’s music on the stage afterwards. I also had to shoot of in order to get the last tube but was really sad to have missed the dancing and party that followed after midnight.

In summary, it was a pretty cool experience…one that I prob would repeat again. Secret cinema showed star wars this year and in hindsight I think it wold have been quite cool to be part of that show also.

All in all its definitely an experience I would recommend ..although I do feel the issuing of ‘secret identities’ serves to build peoples expectations but seems a bit pointless as I was never asked of  my identity nor knew the reason why I was asked to bring the props I did, as they were not used. Aside from that, its an excellent day out for friend or families or couples as long as you don’t mind the steep ticket price.

The One …

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A silhouette of a man and woman standing close together.

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Young Romantic Happy Couple Enjoying Walk on the Beach

Young Romantic Happy Couple Enjoying Walk on the Beach

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romantic couple embracing each other on background of lake at sunset

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The silhouette of a man and woman as they embrace and kiss at the beach.

The silhouette of a man and woman as they embrace and kiss at the beach.

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COPYRIGHT F.PALI

Sunset on the beach

Sunset on the beach

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Abstract elegant background design with space for your text

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The blue sky with butterflies, background

Crossing out Lies and writing Truth on a blackboard.

Crossing out Lies and writing Truth on a blackboard.

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Decorative vintage hand drawn floral background

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a couple on the beach at sunset

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Vintage black background, antique gold frame, victorian ornament, beautiful old paper, certificate, award, royal diploma, ornate cover page, floral luxury rich ornamental

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Beige texture. Vector illustration

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The groom and the bride kiss in mountains against a decline.

The groom and the bride kiss in mountains against a decline.

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Lake Como Trip Review – 30 July to 2 August 2015

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Myself and a friend needed a little break, so we opted for a few relaxing days in Lake Como, Italy.
Tickets were fairly cheap from the UK to Milan so I booked the tickets to Milan Malpensa.
Lake Como is situated at the foothills of the Alps not far from the Swiss border so private transfers are pretty expensive.

I booked Hotel Britannia excelsior to stay at as it was a cheaper no frills option and it was situated nicely opposite a ferry port directly facing Bellagio. Hotel Britannia Excelsior is situated in the Cadenabbia/Griante area of Lake Como.

Transfers
Options of transfers to the hotel were:

Private taxi
The cheapest taxi transfer company I found were Personal transport http://www.personal-transport.com/ they charge 125euros one way which was around £88 when we were due to go.

Public Transfer

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Car Hire
There are many car hire comparison sites that offer great deals and we managed to find a great deal (or what we thought was a great deal) with Goldcar. We hired an Alfa Romeo Guilietta for 3 days at a cost of around £70 and after we had added their ‘no warranty excess plus’ (recommend highly to get this cover! The cost came to just under £100. We were quite happy with this considering the cost of a one way transfer.

Arriving at Milan Malpensa Airport

Milan Malpensa has 2 terminals which have a shuttle bus running between them, we landed at Terminal 2 however if you require a train for your transfer you would need to travel to terminal 1, We had to do the same for our car hire collection as all the companies appear to be situated in terminal 1.
Just outside the airport there are clearly signposted bus stops and we waited a few minutes before a bus turned up.
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the bus stop for the shuttle bus

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After a short bus ride we arrived at terminal 1 and proceeded to our car hire destination. In the airport the car hire depots are separated in 2 sections (area A or area B) so its important to know which one you need after you have checked in, as we found ourselves heading in the wrong direction!
We arrived at the Goldcar check in desk and were surprised to see most of the other companies with sparse customers..however, Gold car appeared to be inundated with customers (even if they did appear to be red faced and fuming!).
We waited in a queue for some time whilst staff and customers appeared to argue, finally it was our turn.
The assistant proceeded to use scare tactics to entice us to buy their addition insurance cover, we advised w were already covered and he went on to advise that it was not sufficient cover and would only cover us in the event of a collision. If the car was scratched etc we would be liable to pay. He then showed us a list of horrific charges some totalling thousands for scratches, dents etc. we were quite alarmed and worried at seeing the amounts, but we stood our ground and said no.
He proceeded to tell us that the company make a majority of their money on damages and damages like this are quite common especially in Italy etc. we still said No.
He then went on to say that if we decided not to purchase their insurance they would need to authorise 2000Euros on our credit card which would remain debited for 30 days!!! ..however if we purchased their insurance cover this need not be the case. We insisted for the last time, this time showing clear frustration that we did NOT want the cover as we had already paid for it even if he believed that it would not cover us or be valid!
In hindsight this put a HUGE downer on the start of my trip as the remainder was spent worrying about scratching the car and being too close to walls when driving through narrow Italian roads. If there is one this I could change about my trip to Lake Como..i would be going via Gold car…don’t do it..save yourself the aggravation and pay a little extra and go via another company… their prices are rock bottom for a reason. They aim to charge you extra at the desk. As we found out when we were ordered to pay a full tank of petrol at an extortionate 130 Euros, we were only there for a weekend and barely used a quarter..and guess what. No reimbursements for unused fuel.

So the start of our trip wasn’t so great. Thanks for that Goldcar, the journey to Cadenabbia was slightly marred for this reason and the initial excitement had worn off as the whole journey consisted of us trying to be ever so careful trying to scratch the vehicle on the narrow roads. As we made it to Lake Como th viws took our breath away and we relaxed a little and enjoyed the exceptional views on the way to our hotel.

Hotel
Once we arrived at the hotel I nipped in to reception to ask regarding parking I was advised prior that parking was minimal and on a first come first served basis and reception confirmed the car park was full at the time. I was advised there was free parking outside nearby Villa Carlotta which was free all the time. We dumped our baggage and parked the car.
The hotel itself is a bit shabby and has definitely seen better days. The breakfast is kind of awful and probably best avoided but basically you get what you paid for with the added bonus of being situated ON the lake but as we were not planning on staying at the hotel for long lengths of time we weren’t too bothered. I must add though there is a hefty difference in price for rooms with a lake view…and this is well worth the money, as the view detracts from the shabbiness of the hotel!

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On our first evening there we turned right out of the hotel and went for a meal in a pretty little quaint restaurant called Belle Isole we sat outside facing the lake on a beautifully mild evening, I ordered a salmon ceviche dish and spaghetti with tomato and basil the portions were huge and the bill came to around 60euros including my friends dishes (we did not have alcoholic drinks).

belle Isole restaurant

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Vila Carlotta
The next morning we made our way to Vila Carlotta and for the bargain price of 9Euros each we were able to wander the beautiful gardens and villa, this was worth every penny and once inside it was like a tardis..in the sense that the gardens just went on and on. It was full of surprises and beautifully landscaped. We spent much time at the gardens and even managed a little snack at their café of watermelon and an espresso.
A visit to Villa Carlotta is highly recommended!

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As our car was parked at Villa Carlotta we were able to jump in and head to the Pigra Cable cars based in Agregno. Unfortunately when we arrived there some people seemed to be leaving ad advised us they had checked the office and it was not open. Despondantly we headed back to the car when I noticed a boat hire company diagonally opposite. We had decided we wanted to hire a boat before arriving and this seemed very convenient. We made an appointment for the next day.

Bellagio

Seeing as we had hoped to spend some time on the cable cars we then decided to head back to Cadenabbia and take a ferry trip across the lake to Bellagio instead. Once there we were able to book a return ferry for both of us for just under 20 Euros, we were advised the last ferry back to Cadenabbia would be at 23:45.

We arrived in Bellagio early evening and I was expecting it to be more bustling for some reason, instead it was very quiet and most shops had closed. Obviously restaurants and other food places were still open. We came across an ice cream/dessert place and I was excited to see they had Casatta in the fridge! So I ate that as we wondered around Bellagio. Bellagio is very beautiful and has interesting little side streets with lots of winding stairs, its very beautiful and there are hidden gardens to be found also. We enjoyed venturing around the place, taking in the atmosphere and the architecture of the beautiful old buildings. Also to the right of the port there is a lovley walkway scattered with benches including an area with steps going down to the lake…you can get one of the best views if the lake from here! Eventually ambled over to a lake front restaurant and had dinner, prices were higher and portions were smaller. The food was ok, though I cant recall much about it so it cant have been that memorable…I can’t help but feel the food may have been more memorable further in to Bellagio up the winding stairs where most people seemed to be eating. As we walked to the port after dinner many of the restaurants seemed to have live singers and it made for a lovley night.

Turati Boat hire – day 3

We awoke early and headed down for the unappetising breakfast, we had booked a boat for 11:00 – 13:00, the guy at Turati boathire company had said if the weather was bad we would not need to turn up. The weather was not particularly sunny that day which was a shame, but it was not majorly windy or rainy. We were due to go home the next day and this was something that both of us were keen to do so we headed towards our car for the drive to Agregno. We made a bit of a booboo…as once we reached Agregno I remembered we hadn’t bought our passport as requested! So we made a mad dash back, this was ok as we had arrived far too early anyway but for those of you wanting to hire a boat whilst at Lake Como..dont do what we did and arrive with all your documentation! We parked outside the Pigra cable car company and headed to the boat place.

The company Turati appears to be family run, the guy we spoke to was very personable indeed and we noticed an abundance of trophies littered around the place! It transpired that he used to sail professionally! Amongst these trophies were also tripadvisor certificates of excellence…lots of tripadvisor certificates…so we immediately felt at ease and knew there would be no problems. He was very laid back indeed. He simply took a photocopy of our passport, lowered the amazing NEW boat in to the water, gave us a briefing and once we were happy and comfortable we knew what we were doing he sent us on our way! He had shown us an official leaflet the day before with his rates.

They were 60 Euros for an hour and 90 Euros for 2 hours so we decided to opt for 2 hrs..which felt to be just enough. He advised that petrol would be on top of this price as it depended how we drove the boat (more power more fuel etc), the fuel is worked out by litres and there is a counter on the boat which is initially set to 0 and goes up as you drive around, at the end you know how many litres you have used. He did not ask for a credit card deposit or any kind of deposit at all. We had an AMAZING 2 hours on the lake which could only have been made better by the weather being slightly sunnier. We were given a book of the landmarks around the lake and their histories so we knew where we were and what we were looking at. The boat was very easy to manoeuvre..and quite frankly was a beautiful boat. It was brand new and well taken care of. We were so glad we went with this company. We returned the boat safely and had used barely a quarter of a tank on medium usage, the total price of the boat hire came to 115 Euros. We tipped the owner to thank him for his wonderful stress free service, I cannot stress enough how lovely this company was and how easy it was to hire a boat from them…especially after our horrendous car hire experience I was not looking forward to hiring anything ever again!

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We headed over to the Pigra cable cars hoping it would be open…sadly it was not. It seems they open as and when the want as there didn’t seem to be any sign in the window..so to save time if you do happen to go to Lake Como, it maybe best to avoid this place unless you hope to hire a boat!

To make the most of the rest of the day my friend had noticed ‘Lago di Piano nature reserve’ on a map so we thought we would head that way as it would make a nice drive especially seeing as the weather wasn’t particularly nice at that point. We headed in that directions and took in the beautiful sights despite the gloomy weather along the way. Unfortunately when we arrived in the vicinity of the nature reserve, the weather was particularly bad so we didn’t actually stop or get out of the car!

Although..having driven past it I can actually confirm that it was very beautiful and if the weather had been better I would have insisted we stop!!

Anyhow, we decided to keep driving a little further and take in the sites, after all we did have a whole tank of petrol to use up! Anyhow..we drove a little further and somehow ended up in Switzerland! This may be a good time to mention that the signposts in Italy..could be a lot better and perhaps advise you of where you’re headed BEFORE you actually get there.

So..somehow we ended up on the other side of Lake Lugano, this part of Switzerand was obviously very similar to Italy…except the extortionate prices. We parked up and as if by magic somehow found ourselves at the foothill of Monte Bre.

Monte Brè (925 m) is a small mountain east of Lugano on the flank of Monte Boglia (1,516 m) with a view of the bay of Lugano and the Pennine Alps and the Bernese Alps. It is considered one of the sunniest points in Switzerland….Although not on the day that we visited.

Still…when in Rome…or Lugano…we decided to pay the extortionate fee of 25 swiss francs each to board the funicular for a return journey to the top (in hindsight…if we had known..it would have been much more fun to drive up) the journey ascent was pretty uninspiring. You go up in a little cable car train, there are small compartments built inside so the views in front and behind are obscured which leaves only views either side with not a great deal to see. The cable car makes a few stops on the way to the summit to let off residents that live in those parts. Once you get to the top of the mountain however the views are spectacularly breath-taking and as far as the eye can see.

This is the type of place where there is much to see and do. There are eating places and trails for both walkers and cyclists and also a playground for children. It’s a good place to spend a day and we would have loved to have walked the trails to the bottom. Unfortunately for us the rain put a stop to our exploring as we had also arrived poorly equipped unaware of the colder temperature once at the top of the mountain ( not that we knew we would end up at the top of a mountain in the first place!)

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The return Journey – Day 4

In the morning we checked out of our hotel and loaded up the car, our flight wasn’t due to leave until 16:35 so we had plenty of time for the journey back to Milan Malpensa. However, we decided that we wanted to add a bit of excitement to the return journey and travel down from the otherside of the lake! So we caught a car ferry from Menaggio to Varenna (bargain price of 15 Euro one way) and headed towards Milan Malpensa. We drove around the picturesque town of Varenna and joined the main road.

I have to say this journey was pretty cool. On the otherside of the lake we had endured tiny winding roads barely big enough for 2 teeny fiat 500’s yet found ourselves narrowly missing HGV’s trundling towards us. This side of the road was a straight run of a motorway incorporating huge tunnels running through mountains. There was something amazing and awe-inspiring about knowing we were driving through ACTUAL mountains and couldnt help marvel at how remarkable the human race was to have accomplished such a feat.

On the return journey we stopped off at Lecco to stretch our legs and have a wander. It was very picturesque was great for a spot of shopping, lunch and for an authentic Italian experience. We sampled icecream and wandered along the banks of the lake looking at the local market stalls.

Overall the trip had been a success and action packed, yes the weather had been disappointing at times but it’s such a beautiful location that we couldn’t really let it mar the experience of our break away.

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Sri Lanka Holiday Review

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At the beginning of the year I was fortunate enough to be whisked away on a surprise holiday for my birthday!!:)

Being a total control freak I was quite surprised at my ability of being able to leave all the plans up to someone else. It was completely last minute and for a month I had no idea of where I was going to be going… I fully assumed it was in Europe!

The only inkling that I got was when I was told I would need to go to my doctor’s surgery for my inoculations! At which point pennies were dropped and the excitement set in :D!!

The holiday was booked from February 7th – February 21st  2015..and little did I know that I was about to embark on the experience of my life! 😀 the thrill of having no idea what was to come added to the heightened excitement!

So…we set off on our incredible 2 week adventure and landed at Columbo airport, my friend had booked via Kuoni and booked the added bonus of a driver/tour guide for our stay there. We were greeted at the airport by a smart dressed man who led us to his pristine car. From there we set off on the long journey from Columbo to Sigriya. The first thing I noticed was how lush the country was. Everywhere you looked you could see miles and miles of green.

Sigriya

After our long journey from Colombo (approx. 4 hours) we arrived at our hotel in Sigriya..and what an amazing hotel it was! Like no other!

We stayed at ‘The Elephant Corridor hotel’ for 2 amazing nights, I remember whilst being there consciously thinking this was the stuff of movies. Let me explain… the hotel itself was literally in the middle of nowhere and when I looked around all I could see was acres and acres of natural landscape, and with that came the peaceful silence of nature…punctuated with the earthy sounds of our environment…crickets and birds chirping, the rustle of vegetation, the whoosh of the wind, smells of nature and such like. No cars. No trains. No man made sounds. Just us and nature. And it was amazing!

The hotel is perfect for people that want to get away from it all, the whole time we were there we barely saw another guest except for at dinner or breakfast and the rooms themselves were huge suites and have a wonderful feeling of seclusion as well as being pure luxury.  Although..u need to bear in mind that this boutique hotel is practically in the middle of the jungle…so don’t be surprised to see the odd lizard or frog in your room! Also, to add to the seclusion and calm..i believe the hotel only has 22 rooms so guests are always in an intimate number.

Whilst in Sigriya we were able to take part in an amazing elephant safari, where we were amongst other jeeps (we had one to ourselves) and drove out in to the jungle looking for wild elephants. It was an amazing experience and we were able to see whole herds of elephants and my favourite… the baby elephants among them. It was a truly formidable experience being able to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat and its one I will not forget in a hurry.

Also whilst in Sigriya, we had the opportunity to participate in the ‘Anura village tour’ this was quite an experience. We started by a short ride in a tuk tuk and were then sat upon a bull cart, where we rode down some twisty, muddy roads through a jungle. It was a nice slow amble and we were able to take in the peaceful surroundings and sights around us. The bull carts are led by villagers to a river/lake, we then alighted and climbed on to a type of water raft and rowed along a quiet lake, here we were able to spot various types of animals and birds and even snakes! In and out of the water. We then stopped further down the river and were led to a wooded area with a traditional village mudhut. In there we were shown how to dessicate a coconut by a village woman and she also made us some coconut type of food with bread which were able to taste. After this we were able to look around at plants and trees and even the treehouses where the villages sleep to keep safe from elephants.

After the village tour we were taken to a place where we were able to go on an elephant ride! This is something I had been looking forward to 😀 however in hindsight I wish I had declined. Simply because the amazing creature was heavily chained to keep from running away and wonce on the the elephant we noticed he had a huge gash behind his ear where the owner kept prodding him with a metal bar! We rode the elephant down the road to a local river where he went in to the water and after much prodding from the owner was told to wash himself and squirt water in the air from his trunk. Im sure we may have just been unlucky with this particular time as I have ridden an elephant once before in Thailand and it was a completely different experience, as the interaction with the owner seemed more loving and the elephant happier. So this is something to be wary of.

The one downside that we did experience…and we bought this to the attention of Kuoni (and have heard nothing back may I add) was that in hindsight we would probably forgo the driver/tour guide, we felt afterwards that our trip was slightly marred by the reliance we felt upon him. We generally trusted him and his knowledge to help us experience Sri Lanka to the fullest and in hindsight we felt that we were cheated out of some of the key aspects that Sri Lanka is all about…for example we were in Sigriya, which is the location of the iconic Sigriya Rock. Our guide however felt stopping off at a side of a road to take pictures was sufficient when we would have liked to have climbed it. Also, We had advised that we would like to visit the famous temples such as the golden temple of Dambulla, the epitome of a Sri Lankan adventure, yet again this was to be an iconic monument we drove past and took pictures of from the car. Therefore..if you plan to visit Sri Lanka..have a clear itinerary of what you want to see and do not let a tour guide call the shots and mar your experience!

view from the room.

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Bullock Cart on the Anura village tour

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water rafting on the river

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sampling authentic Village food

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Elephant safari

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Sigriya Rock

Elephant Ride

Elephant Ride

Kandy

After our blissful stay at Sigriya we headed south down to Kandy. The trip was around 2 hours from Sigriya.

Once we arrived in Kandy we were taken to our hotel for the next 2 nights ‘Cinnamon Citadel’, the rooms weren’t as awe-inspiring in the hotel when compared to ‘Elephant Corridor’ (that hotel takes some beating!) but it was a beautiful hotel none the less. It was overlooking a river and we were fortunate enough to arrange a trip down the river on the hotel boat. This was one of the highlights of our stay in Kandy as it was wonderful to be able to travel down the beautiful river and sea the villagers washing clothes further along and different varieties of birds and bats flying around. Whilst taking a walk around the huge hotel we were able to see many different animals including a water monitor.

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hotel boat ride

hotel boat ride

along the river

along the river

Water Monitor

Water Monitor

Cinnamon Citadel

Cinnamon Citadel

Also, well worth a mention…their buffet breakfasts and buffet dinners are probably the best I have had the fortune of experiencing. The abundance of choice left me in a quandary each time as to what i wanted to eat!

Whilst in Kandy we were able to visit The renowned temple of the tooth which is said to house the relic of Buddha himself. It was great to see the culture and learn more about Buddha, explanations were provided in English. There was a small fee to get in and shoes were not allowed but they had a locker system to make sure we got our shoes back at the end!

The temple of the sacred tooth

The temple of the sacred tooth

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flowers

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locals praying in the temple

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After this we also went to the Royal Botanical Gardens, for a small fee were able to enter and wander around the lush gardens and appreciate the many different species of flora and fauna. Who knew there were so many different types of bamboo!! This provided a peaceful retreat amid a bustling city. The botanical garden is 147 acres and even houses an orchid house that holds different varieties of orchids. In the evening just before sun down the bats can be seen to congregate and fly between certain types of trees which is quite a spectacle to behold.

Bats

Bats

Strange tree at royal botanical gardens

Strange tree at royal botanical gardens

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Bamboo

Bamboo

Snake charmer at the Royal Botanical gardens

Snake charmer at the Royal Botanical gardens

Whilst in Kandy we were also able to stop off at one of the many Herbal Gardens, we were taken here by our guide. Entrance is free, but then at the end you are encouraged to buy something from the gift shop. It was a very interesting experience. The herbal shops consist of a contained small area of trees and plants. A guide shows you round from a plant to plant, there were clearly labelled and the guide explains to you what the plants are and what they do and what their benefits are. There was a wide variety of trees and plants and it was good to see them growing from the ground and seeing what they all look like before they are cultivated, packaged and found on a shelf in Waitrose!

After our 2 nights in Kandy we packed up our suitcases and piled in to the car for our next stop.

Nuwara Eliya.

The trip from Kandy to Nuwara Eliya felt like a long one! And it wasn’t helped by the long windy twisty roads trying to get up the hills!! Those of you that don’t know Nuwara Eliya is the location of tea production in Sri Lanka, Despite the breath taking landscapes of the lush green fields up hills, travelling to our destination via the twisty roads was making me feel queasy and the altitude as we drove higher and higher added to my increasing nausea!

Nuwara Eliya is a truly beautiful place and I for one have never been to one like it! This is an absolute must when visiting Sri Lanka. There are hills as far as the eye can see and it looks like something out of a movie! Also dotted around are beautiful waterfalls! Again this is a place I strongly recommend you go with an itinerary. We felt we didn’t get to make the most of this place as we were dropped off at our hotel early on and our guide had clearly not made any plans for us. In hindsight I would have loved to have visited the waterfalls and looked around the place a lot more. The buildings are very unique old English style as it is thought that the plantations are/were owned by the English/Scottish. So it’s a wonderful wonderful place to go hiking, explore and take pictures! Also..as we were driving around we saw the tea pickers on the fields picking the tea!! Which at the time was quite a sight to behold!

Tea pickers in action on Mackwoods hills

Tea pickers in action on Mackwoods hills

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The name of the hotel we stayed in has escaped our memories however compared to the other hotels it was more basic..we had truly been spoilt previously! We were only staying for one night anyway and it was still a lovely hotel. We noticed that the hotel hired bikes to ride around the area so we hired a couple of bikes and hit the roads to explore our surroundings. It was quite amazing to see that up in the hills there was actually a bustling city hidden away with normal shops and transport and everything. We rode around and explored and ended up riding a long way down a hill… before it dawned on us we would need to cycle back up! Needless to say it was a good call, an amazing experience and a great way to see our surroundings 😀

The next day we packed up and heading to the all awaited Glenloch Tea factory in the hills. The views were truly breathtaking and the carefully manicured plantations seemed so perfect in the setting. We got to sample some Sri Lankan Tea and had the option of stocking up the famous Ceylon Tea from the gift shops at the end. During the tour we had an English speaking guide that educated us on the Tea process from start to finish and showed us the machines used as she went around. It was a very memorable experience and one I would have been devastated to have missed had I not gone! After the Tea planations we winded back down the hills and set off for Negombo.

Nuwara waterfalls

Nuwara waterfalls

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Glenloch Tea Factory

Glenloch Tea Factory

Tea seperating machine

Tea separating machine

Negombo

We arrived at our Jetwings Sea hotel in Negombo, we were staying in 1 of 2 suites and this turned out to be another jaw dropping room. The bathroom was huge and had the latest mod cons with a Jacuzzi bath and our balcony overlooked the beach. The food wasn’t so great but the room more than made up for it! We spent time at the beach and in the pool and took advantage of the sun and time to wind down. I was told by my wonderful travel buddy that we would be on the move again in the morning and this time very early! Throughout the whole holiday I had no idea what was happening from one day to the next so.. I looked forward to the next adventure..although secretly I was glad to stop and chill out in this latest lovely hotel by the beach and wished at the time we could have stayed an extra day or 2.

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Jetwing sea suite

Jetwing sea suite

The next morning I was woken up at 4 am with the urgency to get ready, pack and exit the hotel. We set off driving and this time after 30 minutes or so we were arriving at an airport….we waved goodbye to our driver for the last time…and I found myself boarding a flight to Male!!!

We were on our last leg of the holiday and the last destination was a week in the Maldives! Just when I thought the amazing experience couldn’t get any better the exhilaration kept bubbling whilst I struggled to contain it !! 😀

Reykjavik break review

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To escape the drudgery of everyday life myself and a friend decided to embark on a crazy impromptu adventure of a long weekend to Reykjavik in Iceland with the hope of seeing the renowned Northern lights. This was brought to our attention by a deal on a special deals website, naming no names.. GROUPON. I had originally booked via this website, however soon retracted and cancelled my purchase. I then decided that I could arrange this on a much better scale myself and so I did.

My friend and I went to Iceland for 3 nights and 4 days, Thursday to Sunday I am not much of a ‘cold weather person myself and so was worried as in regards to which type of attire I would require. My friend on the other hand had been on numerous skiing and snowboarding trips and so was fully kitted out with winter wear.

I purchased thermal underwear and packed many layers which served me well whilst I was there and this is perfectly adequate for people not wanting to spend money on clothing that they will only wear the once. On the other hand if you do have ski/snowboard wear I suggest you pack this as you will not look out of place at all! Sensible shoes are a must as due to ice and snow the ground can be very slippery and UGGS, as we discovered just do not cut it.

Also I found myself purchasing a type of windblocking snood which I pulled over to cover my nose and mouth and this served well to protect me from the harsh winds. Good warm gloves, a hat and a very warm jacket/coat are also a must. Ladies..think comfort not fashion on this one! Once there in the bitter cold the last thing you will be concerned about is fashion…believe me.

When we arrived in Reykjavik, the airport is quite small but has any necessities you may need. I managed to change some money here for my short trip whilst my friend was able to find out about transport to our hotel. We had not booked a transfer beforehand and I’m glad we didn’t as the city centre is almost 50 miles away and taxis or transfers were fairly expensive from around £75 one way. We were able to book a return coach journey for around £30 which dropped us off right outside our accommodation and picked us up right outside it on the way back.

Accommodation

After much deliberation I had picked Apartment K as a choice of residence for our stay. This was very cheap at around £180 for 3 nights and from what I had read regarding the reviews it was a great place to stay. Unfortunately I was left a bit disappointed. Yes the décor was funky….but poorly done. We had a room with a lime green wooden floor…however when we arrived it was damp and muddy from the last people and the floorboards were uneven and wobbled as you walked on them.neither of us wanted to walk on the floor without shoes on. The room was lit by downlighters, a number of which didn’t work. There was a huge lamp in the corner which didn’t appear to work, the sofa bed was disgusting and not fit to lay a dog on :S and the bathroom had the most awesome shower however was decorated in black volcanic style pebbles….which poorly hid the obvious dirt it harboured. There was nowhere to put bathroom accessories or anything else for that matter and the kitchenette lacked certain necessities such as knives etc.

My Main gripe however has to be ‘noise’…whilst the apartment was situated in the heart of all the action within walking distance of anything you may need… this meant that you would also pay the price of staying awake at night as the Icelandic revellers showed the town how to truly party.

If you value your sleep and would rather have peace and quiet than shrieking and shouting from the streets below, maybe a hotel away from the social hubbub of Reykjavik is the best solution. I am not even a fussy sleeper..i have been known to sleep through storms and earthquakes…yet the noisiness of this apartment wasn’t something even I could drown out. On the other hand the apartment was spectacularly heated and it was lovely to come back to a warm cosy room and the showers had an endless supply of piping hot water which was needed after a long day of walking. Despite the disappointment in our accommodation this did not bother us much and we still managed to make this trip a memorable one.

Northern lights

We arrived in Reykjavik at around 11am and had time to kill until we were permitted to our apartment. We took this time to shop for breakfast supplies and book a northern lights tour at the tourism office conveniently located 1 min around the corner from our apartment on Þingholtsstræt. There are 2 types of Northern Lights tour offered which leave daily. A coach tour, or for a little extra a boat tour. We paid around £45 pp and opted for the boat tour. All tours appear to have the option of repeating the tour if the Northern lights are not seen on any particular night. Thereby we decided to book the tour for the night we arrived with the option of going again if we were not lucky enough to see them the first night.

We arrived on time as required at the dock to be greeted with a sign on the tourist office window advising that the tour had been cancelled due to weather conditions. In hindsight, it was a little windy however the sky was extremely clear with not a cloud in the sky, we later discovered that those that had booked a tour by coach had seen the northern lights that night.

We rebooked for the next night and were dutifully told the tour was going ahead, however we were dubious as the thick cloud was making it obvious to everyone present that it would take a miracle to see anything at all. We boarded the boat, had a brief overview and video presentation about the Northern lights and then we were on our way. Temperatures on the boat were extremely cold and we were provided with thermal suits for comfort which everyone seemed to take advantage of. The boat left the harbour, travelled a little further out and then seemed to just drift for an hour or so before coming back in. we did not see anything that night as expected and felt that the tour crew would have known this already. In hindsight if I had the option again I would probably avoid the boat tour, save a little money and take the coach trip instead. We were not too disappointed however, as we were always aware that natural phenomenon’s are never guaranteed and that our luck was just not in that time.

The Golden Circle tour

We booked this tour at the same tourism office as before and picked the ‘Goldencircle and snowmobiling tour’ for 41,900 isk (£212.44 pp) with the companywww.snowmobile.is.

We waited outside our apartment to be picked up for our excursion at 8.30am the next day alongside others that had booked tours also, As others clambered in to their coaches and mini buses, our funky customised monster truck minivan arrived and people looked on in envy as we drove effortlessly off in to the distance. The customised monster truck type vehicle made for a very smooth ride indeed and as we over took other vehicles driving carefully in the hazardous Icelandic conditions we realised we had booked the correct tour and saved time on travel and felt a lot safer. Our driver was very knowledgeable and as we set off he wore a microphone where he was able to educate us on Iceland’s offerings as well as answer any questions we may have had.

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The tour was due to encompass the sights of Thingvellir national park, Geysir with its spouting hot springs and the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall, before heading to the unbeaten paths of the highlands on our way to the glacier Langjökull. As always weather conditions prevail and unfortunately it was not safe to make the trip to the Langjökull glacier however we were still able to go snowmobiling around the area which was lots of fun! Though maybe not challenging enough for some men within our group who felt plodding along behind others in the group tested their patience and need for speed.  We were a little concerned that we may not have been dressed appropriately however we were relived to find that everything was provided for us once there. From thermal suits down to, boots, gloves, balaclavas, helmets and eyewear! We were so relieved and toasty in our snowmobiling outfits that when the snowmobiling ended I didn’t want to take mine off!

The Geysir was pretty phenomenal and nothing prepared me for the amazing natural spring that bubbles nonchalantly and then spurts boiling water unexpectedly from the ground.

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Thingvellir national park was interesting after its significance was explained to us by our driver/tour guide, however the stop there was brief and we didn’t get to venture far from the vehicle. Weather was not the greatest so the beauty would have been somewhat lost that day anyway.

The Gulfoss waterfall was truly awe-inspiring and on a scale I couldn’t have imagined. This was something even the weather couldn’t spoil and the sensory experience of hearing the gush of water and sight to behold was truly wonderful. This was only slightly spoiled by the short amount of time we got to spend there. 20 minutes did not seem enough and now feels as though it may have been a passing dream.

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In hindsight, Iceland has bags of character and so much to offer. There is so much to do and see that even if your more inclined to favour a warmer climate like myself you cant help but appreciate the surroundings and beauty that is in Iceland. As a city Reykjavik has the excited hustle and bustle of any major city and we hear, a nightlife to rival any city. Currency wise I felt Iceland to be a little on the pricey side however my friend felt it to be no different to London prices. The main street where the social scene is based is Laugevegur and has an endless row of amazing shops to buy anything you may need. I found their winter fashion wear to be enviably warmer and trendier and I wished in hindsight I had taken funds to have a good shop! When we stopped for the Geysir for example even the tourists shops sold amazing gifts to take home which I would have happily purchased..and I tend to avoid tourist tat like the plague!

I remember being with my friend and seeing a beautiful knitted baby romper suit, not only thick and warm but also incredibly trendy…even if it did retail at an astonising £70.

In the evening we would amble down Laugevegur for a bite to eat, on our last evening we decided to try a steak restaurant that was recommended to us by our tour guide. We stumbled inside the restaurant which had a basic publike feel. Our coats were taken and we were handed menus, tables were stamped with numbers as in a pub. Someone came to take our orders. We ordered  a starter and main each. After our meal we gathered our things and went to pay at the till. We paid just under £90 for the privilege. In hindsight we felt we could have got more for our money as the food was not of a great standard and neither the service.. but then this was just one restaurant that we happened to attend and its not to say they are all like this.

In summary, a trip to reykjavik for a long weekend is well worth the visit there is plenty to see and do for all types of people. Icelanders speak impeccable english so language is never a barrier. i think this is an exciting city break that maybe easily overlooked by many. The disappointment over not experiencing the Northern lights means the possibility of a return trip for myself will remain a possibility.

Xmas wrapping paper 2014

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So…when christmas is fast approaching and people are getting excited about presents and other festivities, i find myself getting excited about….wait for it….wrapping paper!

I dont know what it is, but every year christmas brings with it new and beautiful materials to wrap gifts in and to a large extent this is what i love taking pride in the most. presenting beautifully wrapped presents to a loved one 🙂

Each year there are so many beautiful prints to choose from, and its always difficult to stick to one type.so this year i figured that i would purchase different types just to give myself a little variety 🙂 and then i thought that i would share them with you to help provide some inspiration…hopefully 🙂 i looked pretty much everywhere i could find and only really came across wrapping paper from Paperchase that took my fancy. they have beautiful prints every  year and never disappoint.

This beautiful Kraft neon pink flock damask wrapping paper can be purchased from Paperchase in a 2 meter roll for £4 or 3 for the price of 2. i found it to be quite good strong quality with only slight warping and will definitely be going back for some more as it is so pretty.

i teamed this with a wired cerise organza ribbon (£1.60 per mtr) and a twill natural ribbon (50p per mtr) from hobbycraft, the tag pictured here was also from Paperchase for 50p

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This paper was around £2 a sheet from Paperchase, i have teamed it with a wired organza silver ribbon from hobbycraft and on the smaller package a white satin edged ribbon with a sparkly stick on bow from John Lewis around £3 for a pack of 3 from john lewis.

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This beautiful silver Stag print paper was around £2.50 a sheet from Paperchase and i bought matching stag tags for £1.50 for a pack of 5 the ribbon was purchased from hobbycraft and is a very wide size and therefore was around £4 per meeter and i also purchsed a silver satin ribbon for around £1.50 per meter.

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This gorgeous gold glitter paper is stunning in reality and the picture here does not do it justice. this was purchased for £2.50 per sheet and came with adhesive stickers. as beautiful as it is unfortunately i woukd not recommend it as nothing sticks to the glitter (not even the stickers provided!) which makes it very very difficult to wrap anything 😦 i have managed to keep the parcel from unravelling by rapping a big bow around it (purchased from hobbycraft for £4 a reel)

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This gorgeous thick cartridge type paper has a beautiful gold leaf pattern on it, but be warned it does rub off if rubbed :S but nonetheless is stunning. this was purchased from paperchase for £2.25 per sheet, the organza ribbon is not wired and was around 50p a mtr from hobbycraft and the glittery rosette ontop was around £1.50 from tescos.

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This paper was one of the cheapest and one of my favorites, again purchased from paperchase for £1.50 per sheet was wonderfully teamed with a gorgeous twill ribbon from hobbycraft for 50p per mtr. this personalised name tag was purchased from ‘not on the highstreet’ and was pretty pricey for around £4-£5 but looks great.

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there are so many funky options out there to choose from so i have included some other inspiration which can help give ideas of how to personalise your gifts this Christmas 🙂 Happy wrapping!xx

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