25 December, 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

I'd like to take this opportunity to wish everyone that has made the effort to visit my blog this year a very Merry Christmas. Wherever you're spending the festive season, make sure you enjoy it.


This is a time for sharing and giving, but most importantly, it's a time for family. So keep yours close, and enjoy the precious time you have with them. Merry Christmas one and all xx

18 December, 2015

Travel Photo Friday: Cheeky birds!

Anyone who has visited the Caribbean will be well aware of the subject matter of today's travel photo. I'm a bird lover, and regularly feed the birds in my own garden at home. When travelling, I love seeing new species of birds, and feeding them if I can. Over the years on my holidays in the Caribbean, I have come to love the Bananaquit - a lively little bird with a white stripe above the eye, and bright yellow belly.


You may have to look closely in the photo above to find the little one pictured here, but if you're enjoying breakfast outdoors and have any sort of syrup or sugar on your table, these cheeky little guys will definitely pay you a visit!

11 December, 2015

Flashback Friday: Chilling out in Trinidad

Before I went to Trinidad, I have to admit I didn't know much about the island apart from the fact that it has been troubled by drug and gang-related violence. My own experience of this beautiful place couldn't be more different. If you're into nature, then Trinidad is home to some of the most diverse and spectacular bird life in the Caribbean. 


Not only that, but it has more than 450 bird species, 108 types of mammals, 55 reptiles, 25 amphibians and 620 types of butterflies. I read somewhere that it's South America in a Caribbean island - I couldn't have put it better myself! If you would like to see my original post on Trinidad, click here.

04 December, 2015

A perfect night's sleep at The Red Pump Inn

I stayed in the Red Pump Inn a few months ago, and was blown away by the setting; service, and steaks! This country inn can be found in the tiny Lancashire village of Bashall Eaves, and is described on the website as a luxury B&B and steak restaurant, but it's so much more than that.


There are eight beautiful boutique rooms at the inn with antique beds; incredibly comfortable mattresses, and wonderfully powerful wet room showers. They all have tea and coffee making facilities as well - something that seems to be a rarity in B&B's these days.


We soaked up the atmosphere in the bar, which is also popular with locals, before having a fabulous meal in the restaurant. They serve simple and uncomplicated, but very tasty food. The Red Pump specialise in steak, and is one of just three eateries outside London to serve beef supplied by the revered Ginger Pig of London - beef that has a wonderful flavour, and is served at some of the best restaurants in London and Paris. There are other options on the menu, but if you're a meat eater, I would highly recommend the steak!


I ended up staying at The Red Pump Inn as it was close to the venue where friends were getting married. While I thought it looked beautiful on the website, it exceeded my expectations. This was not only down the fact I had one of the best sleeps of the year here (the mattresses are truly wonderful!) but also down to the staff, especially the owners Fran and Jonathan, who couldn't do enough for us during our stay. This is the perfect place for a night away in the countryside - but to be honest, you don't need an excuse to stay at such a welcoming place.

27 November, 2015

Travel Photo Friday: Keep your eyes peeled

When I travel, I love looking up - whether it be at palm trees or cathedrals. I find you miss things if you don't look up, and soak in your surroundings. Having said that, sometimes it's also important to look down as I found when I took today's photo.


This little piece of graffiti beside a cobbled pavement made me giggle - a mouse, going into his house! So look up; look down - look all around. Keep your eyes peeled - you never know what you'll see when you travel.

20 November, 2015

Flashback Friday: Cupcake heaven in London

The humble cupcake has come a long way in recent years. When Carrie and co. starting making them famous in "Sex and the City", everyone else decided we couldn't get enough of them. Today, the trend is still going strong - people even have hundreds of the little guys piled on top of one another for their wedding cakes!


When the trend first began, I featured a great little spot in London where I think the cupcakes are the best in the UK! Click here to read my original post. If you know a spot where the cupcakes are just as delicious, please let me know!

13 November, 2015

Being "Canny" in the Canny Man's Edinburgh

If you are in Edinburgh and fancy going somewhere that's a little bit different, you can't go wrong with The Canny Man's. This Morningside pub was established in 1871, and is an Edinburgh institution.


It's not just the establisment itself that's an institution. The Bloody Mary's served here are so famous they were even featured on the BBC's Saturday Kitchen programme! 


The beautiful bar has a real shabby chic look to it, and you could easily spend a few hours looking at all the items on the walls, and above your head!


This is not just a pub though - food is served each day, and even that is unique. They serve seafood and smørrebrød - open sandwiches on rye bread, and they have an incredible list that will make it hard for you to decide what to go for! Desserts are fruity and alcoholic - what more could you want! 


I celebrated a very special birthday in The Canny Man's and it was the perfect place for a group, as there are different small rooms - I felt like I had my own private party!


Famous seafood chef Rick Stein (one of my favourite chefs!) says it's "the best pub in the world" - and he's definitely spot on with this recommendation. Click to see the official website here.

06 November, 2015

Travel Photo Friday: Nature's Lightbulb

As the weather start to turn a bit colder and more wintery, I thought this atmospheric shot summed up some of the cold days we'll have over the coming months. It was taken on a day when I went on a brisk beach walk, and just as I took the photo, the sun came out.


I have to say I think it looks a little bit like somebody has turned on the switch on a standard lamp, and the sun is providing the bulb! I love capturing moments like this, and would love you to share any photos that you have taken on your travels.

30 October, 2015

Flashback Friday: A stunning mansion in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka is an island packed with history - it has no less than eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and has everything from stunning rainforests, to beautiful beaches.


More and more people are now travelling to the country to discover what delights it has to offer, and I've found a stunning base in Galle on the South West coast from where you can explore.
Click here to read my original post on a Mansion in Sri Lanka.

23 October, 2015

A Cheshire delight at Hare Hill

You know those lazy Sundays when the sun is shining and you're looking for somewhere to visit? I recently came across a great place to enjoy your surroundings on a sunny day in the heart of Cheshire. The sign below is what greets you on arrival at this place - what a great invitation!


Hare Hill is a very tranquil place thst can be found between Alderley Edge and Macclesfield. It's a ten acre garden surrounded by parkland, and the perfect place to have a leisurely stroll.


There is a stunning walled garden which is full of vibrant colours, even at this time of year. There are plently of benches where you can grab a seat and enjoy the sunshine. 


I didn't spot any hares when I visited, but I did see a few carved from wood like the one in the photo above - great for the little ones to find as you wander around the gardens.


The countryside around Hare Hill is stunning and on a clear day, you can enjoy great views over the Cheshire Plain. I'd highly recommend a visit to Hare Hill - it's open until the end of October, so make it quick!

16 October, 2015

Travel Photo Friday: Monkeying around!

I visited the baboon enclosure on a recent trip to Knowsley Safari Park, and have never laughed so much in my life! I now know where the phrase 'you cheeky monkey' comes from - they are so naughty! They stole the window wipers from some cars, and left food on the roofs of others! 


A lunchtime break made for a perfect photo Friday - especially the smallest of the baboons just posing to get his photo taken before running off to be naughty again! A great day out. 

09 October, 2015

Flashback Friday - Down under in Manchester

Australasia - the islands of Australia; New Zealand; New Guinea and its neighbouring islands in the Pacific Ocean. So many different cultures and foods all wrapped up into one continent. 
With a population of around 39 million, it has everything from Australia's Sydney Harbour Bridge, to the coral reefs of Fiji. 


One of the early blog posts on Travel Lightbulb was a review of a restaurant which combines all the food cultures of Australasia. So why not Flashback this Friday, and take a look back at

02 October, 2015

The Wild Rabbit - there is plenty of room at the inn!

The Wild Rabbit is a beautifully renovated 18th century pub set in the heart of the English Cotswolds. Think open fires; stripped back walls, and hand crafted furniture and you probably have a pretty good picture in your mind of what this stunning place looks like.


 The Wild Rabbit has a constantly changing menu, serving locally sourced, seasonal food. Now lots of places try to do this these days, but here they also include organic ingredients from their own garden! The bar not only serves different artisan beers, but also offers wine from small independent vineyards.


This is not just a place to eat and drink - there are twelve beautiful bedrooms as well. Four of these have access to the garden and if you have a dog, they also have beds available for your pampered pooch! 


The pub was named Pub of the Year in the 2015 edition of the 'Michelin Eating Out in Pubs' guide, which describes it as "a chocolate box delight" with "knock-out bedrooms and, of course, first-rate food."


The Wild Rabbit can be found in the village of Kingham, and there's plenty to do nearby. After all, the Cotswolds is one of England's favourite destinations, with lots of villages to explore and this could be the perfect base for you for a couple of relaxing days in a great setting with luscious food!

25 September, 2015

Travel Photo Friday: All the colours of the rainbow

I'm a big fan of summer - not only for the lovely weather, but the way the sunshine brings out the colours in everything. This week's photo was taken from the comfort of my sun lounger! 


I love all the different colours of the parasols against the blue of the sea and the sky. You can almost feel the heat - what lovely memories. This may be one I look back on on a cold winter's night!

18 September, 2015

Flashback Friday: New York City views

When you're in New York City, it's all about looking up, or looking down. Looking up at the skyscrapers from street level, or looking down on the city from one of its tallest buildings. There's no doubt the views are what make it a special place to visit.


I found an incredible place in which to enjoy the city's skyline, where you can look at the Empire State building one way, and the Chrysler Building on the other. Simply stunning, and that's where we're flashing back to this week - my original post, Stunning views and cocktails in New York is where you'll find where I'm talking about! Not to be missed if you're in NYC.

11 September, 2015

Lady of the manor at Herdade da Retorta

This summer, in the middle of Portugal's Alentejo region I found a place that will steal your heart. Herdade da Retorta is a stunning early 19th century manor house on a 61 acre farm just outside the town of Serpa. As you drive up to the house, the first sight of it is quite overwhelming - it's simply stunning.


The owners, Gabriella and Carlos, are wonderful people who could not have done more for us. On our arrival they gave us a tour of the house to make sure we knew our way around; then sat us down for a drink - a much welcomed cold beer! They told us the best places to eat; what local delicacies to enjoy, and where to visit in the area.


After our little chat, the pool was too irresistible in the Alentejo heat - it can get VERY hot here in the summer months, and was around 38 degrees for my visit in July. On our first night, we were the only guests, therefore the only people using the pool - perfect! It is surrounded by loungers and deck chairs so we had our pick of them! Not only that, but the views over the Alentejo countryside are magnificent. 


So, what is there to do at night near the house? We ventured into Serpa in the evening during our stay (only breakfast is available at the house) and took up two of the suggestions of our hosts. Both their first and second choice restaurants were sensational, as were the local dishes - sopa de cação
and ensopado de borrego - simple food, with delicious flavours.


The highlight of Herdade da Retorta itself has to be breakfast - so good, and so large you will not need to eat lunch! We feasted on fresh melon; local bread, meats and cheeses; jams (made by Gabriella herself!) and local cakes. On top of all that, it's served in this stunning room (see photo above) with beautiful coloured glass windows, and incredible views. The little posies of fresh flowers on the table are a lovely touch. 


After two nights here, I have to say I was very jealous of Gabriella and Carlos - I wanted to up sticks and move in so I too could enjoy their beautiful home and relaxing surroundings! There is plenty to do in the area in terms of sightseeing, but depending on what time of year you visit - returning to the house and wonderful pool after hours in a hot car is the perfect way to end the day. I can't recommend it highly enough. "Ate siempre" Gabriella and Carlos! Top tip - this is a fantastic place to star gaze...look up and enjoy!

04 September, 2015

Travel Photo Friday: It's a dog's life!

I stopped the car to take this photo - the dog was lying sleeping in the doorway of the restaurant, and when he heard my car engine, he lifted his head and gave me a regal, lion like pose! 


It's as if he's first in the queue waiting for the restaurant to open - either that, or he's security!
Happy Friday everyone - if only it was a dog's life!

28 August, 2015

Flashback Friday: Barcelona

Barcelona - one of the most vibrant cities in the world, and the one place I never seem to be able to visit and squeeze in everything I want to do! The skyline is ever changing, and the tapas seems to get better every trip!


I found a great little place to stay in the city, so if you want a suggestion, then just click here to read my suggestion for a beautiful Bolt-hole in Barcelona.

21 August, 2015

Alcazar in Jerez

If you're ever in Jerez de la Frontera, then you must take time to visit the Alcázar. As soon as you walk through the arches below, you feel like the former Moorish fortress has transported you back in time!


The Alcázar is right in the centre of town, and it's a lovely peaceful place to spend some time, with beautiful gardens to wander around during your visit.


One of my favourite parts of the visit was the municipal pharmacy on the 2nd floor, which still has lots of equipment, jars and containers from the 19th century, as you might be able to see from the photo below.


The views over the city are also beautiful, and it's worth going just to take some shots from the octagonal tower - it's worth climbing the steps, even in the summer heat!


This was the last thing we did on our visit to Jerez, and we could have spent a lot more time here, as there was also an art exhibition to look at too - you might want to do it early in your visit, as the views may help you get your bearings when wandering around!

14 August, 2015

Summer reflections

As regular readers of my blog will know, I took a big leap this year and decided to take nine weeks off this summer. After recharging the batteries in Barbados for a couple of weeks; I spent the remainder of my time off in Portugal, one of my favourite countries in the world.


I spent the majority of time in the Western Algarve (away from the main tourist haunts!), but also took a trip to the Alentejo region, which lies just above the Algarve. The laid back way of life in Portugal, makes it the ideal place to relax and unwind, and I can easily see myself living in the country in years to come.


If I won the lottery, I know I would spend my time travelling. I am lucky enough to have my health and fitness, and there are too many places in the world that I'd love to see, and have the money to really enjoy. It always amazes me when people say they're glad to be home after a holiday, or would get bored with constant travel. I'm never sure whether these people are just genuinely content with where they live, or lack the imagination to discover what our beautiful world has to offer. Alternatively, perhaps I'm the unusual one who suffers with itchy feet - remember, we travel not to escape life, but so life doesn't escape us.

07 August, 2015

Travel Photo Friday: Silly signs

On my recent trip to Barbados, I stopped in a little bar for a quick drink and spotted this sign. Just to explain, 'cutters' are the Caribbean version of sandwiches, but take a look at the menu, and see if you spot anything amusing.....


Yes, you got it....mice meat! I was assured by some passing locals who were wondering why I was taking the picture that it should read 'mince' meat - I told them I was glad...you'd need a lot of mice to make a substantial meal! If you've ever spotted a funny sign on your travels, let me know - I'd love to see more like this!

31 July, 2015

Four years old!

I can't quite believe it, but on the 1st of August it will be four whole years since I started writing my travel blog! That's four years of discovery, sharing new places, and finding places I want to get to at some point in my life!


I started this blog as a hobby, and still enjoy it now just as much as I did in the first year. It has been so lovely to get lots of great feedback about the places I've featured, and I now feel like a bit of a travel organiser for a lot of my friends who now regularly ask for tips when they're going away! 


Four years of reminiscing about great trips, beautiful destinations, and dreaming of far flung places that I'll get to one day. Time flies when you're having fun!


24 July, 2015

Flashback Friday: Bordeaux

Sometimes we deserve a treat, and I know just the place for a totally decadent meal! I visited Bordeaux for a weekend and had to find somewhere perfect for a birthday celebration. My research brought me to a fabulous place called La Tupina, and I can't recommend it highly enough.


Bordeaux is also a fantastic place to visit, and I'm always amazed that more people don't visit. Having said that, it's nice to go somewhere that isn't packed with tourists, and the restaurant is so good I'd go back to Bordeaux simply to go there. Fabulous!  If you want to read more about La Tupina, then why not re-visit my original post on Decadence in Bordeaux.

17 July, 2015

Peaks in Patagonia

Today's post is not for the faint hearted. If trekking is your thing, then you're going to love it - if it's not....you'll enjoy the scenery anyway! Mount Fitz Roy is a mountain in Patagonia, on the border between Argentina and Chile. First climed way back in 1952, it remains one of the most technically challenging mountains on earth.


The Fitzroy area is hugely popular with trekkers - including those on day hikes. Unsurprisingly, climbing this beast is most feasible during the summer months in the southern hemisphere - December to February - but it's always subject to the Patagonian weather, which can be fickle!


Patagonia itself is sprawling and wild, but relatively undiscovered. It says it all that while around a hundred people can reach the top of Mount Everest in a single day, the summit of Mount Fitz Roy may only be successfully reached once a year.

10 July, 2015

Travel Photo Friday: Classy Caceres

The city of Cáceres is a beautiful place. It lies in the Extremadura region of western central Spain, and the old town is protected by UNESCO. Its narrow cobbled streets twist and climb among ancient stone walls, and huge stork's nests. You feel like you're stepping back in time here.


The city's history of battles between Moors and Christians is reflected in its architecture which is a real eclectic mix. It's a beautiful place, and the Parador is unbeatable in terms of where to stay. Off the beaten track, and stunning - a real Travel Lightbulb favourite.

03 July, 2015

Flashback: A stunning Scottish spa

As a proud Scot, I love nothing more than returning to my country of birth and relishing the scenery that always blows me away. The rugged countryside is made even more dramatic by the..how shall I put it....'changeable' weather that Scotland enjoys, even in the summer months!


Scotland is a great place to get away from it all at the best of times, but if you're looking for a bit of luxury as well, then Stobo Castle Health Spa is the place. It's a little gem, in the most beautiful surroundings. If you want to read my original post on Stobo Castle, then click here.

26 June, 2015

A one way ticket...

This week I began the second part of my summer travels. I actually did something quite scary, but thrilling when I planned this trip - I booked a one way flight! After months of being super busy, I decided that I was going to have a summer of discovery. I wasn't sure how long I could do it for, so secured my outbound flight and to hell with the return!


I know I'll have to return to normality at some point - we all have to, don't we? However, there was something very energising about the unknown, and the possibilities for exploration.
Sometimes in life, we have to seize the moment. To live life to the full, and make the most of it every chance we get. I'm lucky to be able to book a one way ticket, and by the time I come back, I'll be ready to grasp another challenge, and opportunity with both hands.
Make the most of your summer everyone!