30 November, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Tour under the tower

Today's photo was taken at the Blackpool tower in Lancashire, England. The tower, which was inspired by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, was opened to the public in 1894, and is a popular tourist attraction to this day. It has a great history, with stories from possible demolition (during its first 30 years it corroded after it wasn't properly painted), to it almost being used as a radar station during the second world war.

I took this photo when the Tour of Britain (an elite cycle race) was in town, hence the people and barriers at the bottom of the photo! The tower is lit up at night, and there are eight kilometres of cables to feed the incredible 10,000 light bulbs used to illuminate the tower.

If you have a photo you'd like to see featured here, please get in touch via the email address on my contact page. Just send me your photo and a couple of sentences about where it was taken. Thanks in advance!

27 November, 2012

A Robinson Crusoe style lunch in Tobago

Sometimes the best meals aren't necessarily enjoyed at the swankiest restaurants or most exclusive places. In Tobago, I had a fabulous lunch that was simple but just perfect at the beach bar of the Blue Haven Hotel. 

The hotel overlooks Bacolet Bay, on the Atlantic coast of the island, and is said to be the site where Robinson Crusoe was stranded in 1659.  In the middle of the bay is the small beach bar, and I enjoyed a delicious fruit punch while enjoying the views when I arrived at the beach. It was fantastic to see the barman had also poured a fruit punch for the birds to enjoy - great to watch all different coloured birds fluttering around while I enjoyed my drink.

I had a few hours on the beach sunbathing, snorkelling and swimming before going back up for lunch. The menu is full of simple but delicious treats such as lovely salads and sandwiches. I opted for the club sandwich, and it is one of the best I have ever tasted. The side salad had a beautiful dressing on it, and the sandwich was jam packed with fillings - yum yum!

The staff at the beach bar were fantastic when we visited. They not only made us feel welcome, but the service was perfect. Nothing was too much trouble - and it's no surprise that this place is called the "No Problem" beach bar!

If you want more information about the beach, have a look at the My Tobago website - a great resource for anyone visiting the island.

23 November, 2012

Travel Photo Friday: Olympic Edinburgh

It has been a huge year for sport in Britain with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. However the passion and pride wasn't restricted to London - the whole of the country felt it. On a trip to Edinburgh a couple of months ago, I had to snap this shot of the Olympic rings on the city's famous 'mound'. I loved the way the colours contrast with the gloomy Scottish sky, and the beautiful Ramsay Gardens - the white buildings in the background.

If you have a travel photo you'd like see featured here, please get in touch on the email address on my contact page. All I need is your photo, and a short paragraph about where it was taken. I look forward to your contributions! Thanks in advance.

20 November, 2012

A crooked gem - Little Moreton Hall

My blog post today features an iconic Tudor manor house in Northwest England. To be honest, you have to visit this attraction as the photos below don't do it justice. The stunning, quirky timber-framed building has totally defied logic for over 500 years, and that's because it's......for want of a better phrase......higglety pigglety!

Some floors of the hall are so crooked and uneven (see photo below) that you feel like you've had one drink too many, or that you're on a ship! In fact I have a challenge for you - visit, and try and spot a straight line. It won't be easy!

We took a free guided tour to hear the story of the Hall, and it's definitely the best way to discover the history of the building. Expect lots of great stories about life in the 1600's, and you'll also discover the origin of some words we still use nowadays.

A visit here would also be great for kids - there are quizzes for them to do; Tudor clothes for them to try on, and Tudor boardgames for them to play.

We visited on a freezing cold winter's day, and the hall was very cold, so make sure you wrap up well, and if you need a cuppa to warm up, there is a restaurant (which uses seasonal produce from the garden) and tea room (picture amazing home-made cakes!) on site.

Visiting Little Moreton Hall is one of the best days out I've had in the North West of England, and I can't recommend it highly enough. If you want more information, visit the National Trust website here.

16 November, 2012

Travel Photo Friday: Sahara scenery

If you've ever experienced trekking, you'll know that you come across some stunning scenery that you just don't get on your average holiday. I have completed two charity treks in recent years, and the photo below was taken on a week long journey through the Sahara desert.

It was a long, hot and challenging trek, but raising money for charity, and the stunning scenery along the way made it all worthwhile. You can't beat the feeling of being miles away from civilisation.

If you have a travel photo you'd like to contribute, then please get in touch at the email address on my contact page. Have a great weekend!

13 November, 2012

A little haven on the Ile de Ré

Today I'm featuring one of the lesser known parts of France - the Ile de Ré. The island is off the west coast of France near La Rochelle, and has been called one of the jewels of the Atlantic coast. The great thing is it's largely unspoiled and not only has beautiful sandy beaches, but also ports to wander around; forests to discover and salt marshes.

Villa Clarisse is located in the historical capital of the island, Saint-Martin-de-Ré (listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO) and is perhaps the most 'chic' address in the heart of the old city. It's an 18th century mansion which was renovated in June 2011, and is dedicated to well-being and relaxation.

There are nine rooms and suites at the Villa which are all organised around a courtyard. All have stunning bathrooms; fireplaces, and lots of original features. Many guests describe them as beautifully styled, but relaxed and welcoming. It's child friendly and is not only near shops and a fairground, but there is also a pool area and beautiful gardens.

If you are looking for a French 'retreat', then you will not go wrong staying at Villa Clarisse, and on the Ile de Ré itself. If you would like more information, visit the official website here.

09 November, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Peruvian children

Sometimes when you travel, kids tug at your heartstrings and their little faces stay at the heart of your memories for a long time. This is what happened to me on a trek through the stunning Andes mountains in Peru. Our small group were staying in tented accommodation on the edge of villages, so we were always interacting with the local people and their kids.  The people we met had next to nothing, but their kids were always playing and having fun. The group of school children below came to see us on the morning we were leaving. We gave them small gifts such as pencils and postcards of where we were from - you would have thought we'd given them diamonds, they were so thrilled! There wasn't a dry eye in our group!

I'm always looking for travel photos, so if you have any you'd like to share, please get in touch via the email address on my contact page. All I need is a photo and a short paragraph about where it was taken.  Thanks in advance, and have a great weekend.

07 November, 2012

Charm in Chiang Mai

I do love chic modern hotels, but do you ever feel they lack something? It's lovely to be able to enjoy modern luxury, but there's also nothing better than a bit of old world elegance and charm, and that's what today's featured accommodation has in bundles.

137 Pillars House is situated in Chiang Mai, seven hundred kilometres northwest of Bangkok. As the unofficial capitan of the North of thailand, Chaing Mai remains a close second in national importace to Bangkok. The house occupies a prime address along the Ping River in the Wat Gate area which was formerly designated to foreigners by the government.

Historians and conservationists worked hard to keep the integrity of the 1889 structure at the house, and the 30 suites are beautifully designed but you still have all the modern comforts you could wish for (including air conditioning; an in room music system, and a personal espresso coffee machine). Oh, and the outdoor shower is a superb addition, and a great way to start your day!

Nothing is too much trouble for the staff here from breakfast in bed, to freshly made sundowners in the bar. They'll even make you a picnic hamper (with champers of course!) to take on your adventures into the mountains, or along the river.

Thailand is a fabulous county, and this could be a great place to stay at the end of your trip. The house itself is beautiful, but the surrounding area is also stunning, as well as being quiet - you'd never think that you were in a city. If you'd like more information, then why not visit the official website here.

05 November, 2012

Edinburgh: Europe's leading destination

Edinburgh has beaten London; Paris and Barcelona to the title of Europe's leading Destination in 2012. When I heard this story, I knew I had to mention it on my blog - I am, after all an exceptionally proud 'Edinburger' - as we're known! The prize was given at the World Travel Awards in Portugal - an event described by organisers as the "Oscars of the travel industry".

If you have never visited Edinburgh, then I have to say you really are missing out. I know everyone is proud of their home city, but when I had to move away due to work commitments, I found that I actually appreciated it even more.

It's not only a world class tourist destination due to the fact that it is steeped in history, but it also has a superb all year round atmosphere. It plays host to numerous world-renowned cultural events such as Edinburgh's Hogmanay (the New Year's celebrations) and the Edinburgh Festivals that take place each summer. Whenever you visit, it has something to offer - give it a try........or miss out!

02 November, 2012

Travel Photo Friday - Niagara Falls

Today's Travel Photo Friday comes from Justin and Jan Reischek, and I'm sure you'll agree it's a stunner! It was taken from one of North America's most popular restaurants, The Keg Steakhouse, which is on the 9th floor of the Embassy Suites Hotel in Niagara Falls.

What a beauty! I've never had the chance to visit the Niagara Falls, but if I do, I'd also like to head to the restaurant considering how good the views are! It's unusual to see a shot like this, as many I've seen have been taken from below - I love the way it shows the sheer power of the water. Thanks Justin, and Jan - your contribution is much appreciated. If you'd like to contribute, please get in touch through the email address on my contact page. Thanks in advance.