lisbon tram

As the final autumn leaves herald the coming of winter, a vast number of travel enthusiasts turn their gazes towards tropical destinations. Yet, one should not overlook the rich experiences that Europe has to offer in the winter months, especially the alluring locales of Portugal. From sun-drenched shores to historic avenues brimming with cultural treasure troves, Portugal is a winter wonderland like no other. So why not discover the beauty and tranquillity that await you in the land of contrasts? This year, prepare to embark on unforgettable Portugal winter tours, where winter sun and history blend into a delightful journey.

Experience the Unforgettable Portugal Winter Tours

Winter in Portugal offers a mild and pleasant climate, a stark contrast to the frosty weather enveloping most parts of Europe. The balmy temperatures provide a perfect setting for exploring the picturesque coastal regions and venturing into the heart of historic cities such as Lisbon and Porto. Winter tours in Lisbon particularly are not to be missed, offering a fusion of historic fascination and modern allure.

The Enchanting Lisbon: A Blend of Modern and Historic

Lisbon, the vibrant capital city, doesn’t put on brakes during the winter season. Quite the contrary, the city buzzes with energy and charm, with fewer tourists allowing for a more personalised exploration. Winter tours in Lisbon offer an eclectic mix of experiences, from marvelling at the iconic Belém Tower to enjoying a warm cup of coffee in the historic Alfama district.

Lisbon’s historic streets are adorned with festive decorations, and there is a delightful buzz in the air, making your winter journey an experience filled with both comfort and joy. The golden rays of the sun cast a magical hue on the city, offering plenty of opportunities for capturing those perfect sun-drenched photographs.

The Scenic Coastal Regions: Sun-Drenched Shores Await

Portugal’s coastline is a haven for those looking to escape the winter blues. The Algarve region, with its picturesque beaches and azure waters, remains inviting even during the colder months. Stroll along sun-drenched shores, feeling the gentle caress of sea breezes as the waves play a mesmerising melody. Here, you’ll find that the winter sun creates an almost mystical atmosphere, bathing the shores in a warm, golden glow.

Beyond the beaches, Portugal’s coastal areas are a hotspot for water sports enthusiasts. From surfing to kayaking, the winter months provide a perfect opportunity to indulge in your favourite water adventures amidst stunning natural beauty.

Historic Exploration: A Journey Through Time

The winter season in Portugal is an opportune time to embark on a historic exploration. The country is steeped in history, with centuries-old castles, forts, and archaeological sites offering a glimpse into a rich and diverse past. Visit the romantic city of Sintra, where the Pena Palace stands as a testimony to the grandeur of yesteryears.

Discover the charm of Porto, a city that harmoniously blends tradition and modernity. Here, the historic Ribeira District is a UNESCO World Heritage site, boasting a rich architectural and cultural heritage. As you traverse through cobblestone streets and ancient alleys, you’ll find yourself on a journey through time, where history unfurls with every step.

Culinary Delights: A Festive Feast for Your Palate

Winter in Portugal brings forth an array of culinary delights, adding warmth and flavour to your journey. The Portuguese are known for their love of food, and the winter season showcases this passion through an array of gastronomic experiences. From indulging in warm, hearty soups to savouring the delectable Pasteis de Nata, your taste buds are in for a festive treat.

Don’t forget to pair your meals with some of the finest Portuguese wines, renowned for their exquisite flavours and rich heritage. Participate in wine-tasting tours that take you through historic vineyards, offering insights into the winemaking traditions of the region.

Embrace the Festivities: A Celebration of Culture and Traditions

Portugal’s winter months are a time of celebration and festivities. The Portuguese take great pride in preserving their rich cultural traditions, which come alive during this season. From Christmas markets to New Year’s Eve fireworks, Portugal embraces the festive spirit with enthusiasm and joy.

Join in the celebrations by attending traditional Fado concerts, witnessing the vibrant parades, and indulging in the festive gastronomy. It’s a time when communities come together to celebrate, fostering a spirit of unity and togetherness.

Discover Untouched Natural Beauty

As you venture further into the heart of Portugal, you’ll encounter regions of untouched natural beauty that simply beg to be explored. The winter months bestow a special kind of magic upon the lush forests and tranquil rivers that adorn the country’s landscapes. Consider a visit to the Douro Valley, where the rolling hills are adorned with terraced vineyards, offering a picturesque setting for a winter retreat. Take a leisurely boat trip along the Douro River, witnessing the changing hues of the landscapes, an artist’s palette of warm ambers and rich greens, as the winter sun kisses the valley in good morning. These moments of tranquillity provide the perfect counterpoint to the vibrant energy of Portugal’s cities, offering a complete and immersive travel experience.

A Toast to New Beginnings

As you draw your journey to a close, find a moment to stand upon one of Portugal’s breathtaking cliffs overlooking the majestic Atlantic, where old meets new and historic legacy meets modern vibrancy. It’s here that you might find a deeper connection to the world around you, feeling the pulse of history and the vibrant life force that propels Portugal into the future. Raise a glass of fine Portuguese wine to new beginnings and to the adventures that await in the coming year. Your winter journey in Portugal is not just a tour; it is an initiation into a world brimming with beauty, culture, and warmth. It is a gentle reminder that even in the colder seasons, life blossoms in the most beautiful and unexpected ways, offering joy, wonder, and the promise of unforgettable memories.

Conclusion: Your Next Journey Awaits

As the year draws to a close, consider making your next journey a vibrant exploration of Portugal’s sun-drenched shores and historic wonders. Let the magic of winter tours in Lisbon envelop you in a world of wonder and excitement, where the past meets the present in a harmonious dance. Don’t let the winter months pass by without experiencing the richness and beauty of Portugal’s landscapes and culture.

Pack your bags, book your Portugal winter tours, and embark on a journey that promises not only sun-kissed adventures but also a deep dive into a rich and vibrant cultural tapestry. Your next journey awaits, and it promises to be nothing short of unforgettable.



It was back in June when I took a trip to Guernsey, my first time visiting the Channel Islands, and yes, it has taken me this long to mention it. One of the highlights of the trip for me was taking a boat trip over the Herm, so I wanted to tell you a bit about it as I’d definitely recommend it if you are planning a trip to Guernsey. We sent about three hours on Herm itself, which was plenty, but it could definitely be a whole day, especially if you wanted to have a go at kayaking or paddleboarding.

Getting There

The adventure begins at St. Peter Port, Guernsey’s charming capital. From here I caught a ferry that whisks you across the azure waters to Herm. The short journey, usually taking around 20 minutes, is a scenic delight itself, offering captivating views of the surrounding islands and the sparkling sea. As Herm comes into view, its rugged coastline and lush greenery beckon, promising a day of exploration and relaxation.

Top tip: Get there nice and early so that you can be at the front of the queue and get a seat on deck.

Herm guernsey ferry View Post


Whether you’re looking to extend summer with an autumn getaway or are planning a last-minute family trip for half-term, Valamar, Croatia’s leading hotel and resort brand, has a variety of beautiful locations across Croatia which provide stunning settings for those seeking some sun this Autum.

Croatia boasts breathtaking nature, beautiful beaches, and fascinating historical sites to discover, whilst providing hours of sunshine and ideal temperatures well into autumn. The crystal-clear seas along the coast remain calm and warm and as crowds lessen, the beaches become perfect for those who want to relax and bathe in the sea all day long.

Valamar offers unparalleled hospitality and a multitude of hotels suitable for all ages. Whether you’re seeking tranquillity or adventure, Valamar promises an unforgettable holiday experience.

Here are some of Valamar’s top locations for a getaway in Croatia this autumn:

Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik Hotel 

With Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik Hotel just a short drive away from the historic centre of Dubrovnik, guests will be transported to a secluded oasis on the Babin Kuk peninsula, surrounded by stunning beaches and views that overlook the Elephiti Islands.

Upgraded for 2023, the hotel offers luxury V Level rooms & suites* and a range of fabulous amenities. Valamar Lacroma Dubrovnik Hotel also has an exemplary culinary offering across multiple restaurants, including its new Mezzino Snack Bar and redesigned premium à la carte restaurant, Momenti.

For those that want to relax, the hotel’s luxurious Balance Mediterranean Spa, which has been fully upgraded with a complete redesign of both its wellness area and indoor pool, provides the ultimate rejuvenation experience.

With complimentary access to the Valamar signature wellness programme, guests can take a break in the steam bath, Finnish sauna, soft sauna, sauna lounge, indoor pool and relax room with water beds. The female-only Belle Spa offers a soft sauna, infrared sauna and relaxation room. Those looking to indulge even further can book one of the spa’s extensive treatments, including soothing massages and refreshing facials.

Rates starting from ​​£210 per room per night, breakfast included

Valamar Tirena Hotel, Dubrovnik

Located in Dubrovnik and recently upgraded for the 2023 season, Valamar Tirena Hotel is ready to welcome guests with renewed splendour, now host to brand-new services and facilities.

Guests can enjoy a relaxing stay in one of the newly renovated and redesigned rooms. The hotel’s freshwater swimming pool has been refurbished and fitted with a variety of amenities that everyone can enjoy, including a pool bar, slides and water features.

If you’re visiting as a family, the new 1,800m2 Maro World play centre is located next to the hotel, which offers entertainment facilities for children of all ages. Maro World features no less than nine different areas and extensive entertainment programmes, inviting young guests aged 0-12 years and their families to enjoy a universe full of fun and activities, all under the watchful eyes of the expert entertainment team.

At Valamar Tirena there is a multitude of new restaurants and bars to visit. Why not sip a cocktail in the sun on a beautiful terrace at the new Vero Bar? Or enjoy a wide range of international dishes at the superb Oliva Grill à la carte restaurant.

Standard Family Rooms start from £210 per night (sleeps up to five people), including buffet breakfast and dinner.

Valamar Meteor Hotel, Markarska

The elegant and refined Valamar Meteor Hotel is an ideal choice for those seeking to discover the lesser-known Markarska Riviera this summer. With breathtaking views of Mount Biokovo and its close proximity to the town centre, the Valamar Meteor Hotel is not one to be missed. Each room features a contemporary and stylish design, providing guests with a variety of options, including classic family rooms, junior suites, and superior family suites complete with their own terrace and sea view.

Guests seeking an active getaway can make use of the hotel gym, play basketball or tennis, or even rent a bike to explore the scenic beauty of the surrounding area. During your holiday, be sure to treat yourself to one of the relaxing treatments at the Valamar Meteor Hotel wellness centre. The Spa & Sun program and treatments are inspired by the vibrant summer spirit so will keep that summer feeling going even through autumn. In addition to the hotel’s amazing amenities, guests can discover a variety of thrilling adventures nearby, including white water rafting and the renowned Skywalk at Mount Biokovo.

For dining experiences, guests are invited to indulge in delectable Dalmatian and Mediterranean cuisine, as well as sample wines from the local regions at the hotel’s Mediterraneo restaurant, which offers a buffet-style service.

Rates starting from £142.82 per room per night, breakfast included 

For more information and to book visit


I said maybe, your gonna be the one that saves me, and after all, you’re my Wonderwall”, and if you know that banger, there’s no doubt you’ll be familiar with Manchester City.

However, it isn’t just the home of Oasis. Located in northwest England, UK, it’s a dynamic and diverse city known for its creativity and business prowess, boasting a captivating history and a friendly ambience. Whether your passions lie in history or contemporary culture, Manchester offers many attractions and activities to cater to all interests. With countless opportunities to explore and uncover the essence of this vibrant and forward-thinking city, Manchester is sure to leave a lasting impression.

In today’s article, we’ve highlighted some of the must-see locations and sights to see in Manchester, thus creating the perfect resource to utilise before making your itinerary for “Queen City”.

The Liquorists

Location: Liverpool Rd, Bowl M3 4JR

Good for: Relaxation & cocktails

Name a better way to start your Manchester exploration than by having a few riverside drinks. I’ll wait…

The Liquorists who are experts in cocktails, have ingeniously merged their passion for mixology with the scenic waterways of Manchester. This unique concept of boozy cruises has been pleasing partygoers for almost a decade as they sail along the River Irwell, exploring MediaCityUK and Castlefield. Exciting upcoming events on their roster include a delightful cheese and wine cruise, the thrilling “rum runners’ revenge,” and the immensely popular and quickly sold-out “Gincident” gin cruise.

Oxford Road

Location: Oxford Rd, M14

Good for: Bar hopping

More drinks, you say? Why not?

Brimming with prestigious educational institutions, Oxford Road presents an ideal destination for affordable, student and senior-friendly, enjoyable nights of bar-hopping. This lively thoroughfare is renowned for its pub crawls, although it must be acknowledged that they can become a bit disorderly; yet, this is all part of the excitement.

Commence your evening with some refreshing craft beers at Sandbar before making your way to the trendy pub, The Thirsty Scholar, conveniently tucked beneath an archway. The Font offers inexpensive and delightful beverages for those seeking to continue their bar-hopping adventure. If you desire a clubbing experience, consider visiting The Deaf Institute or Joshua Brooks. Further up the road, in Rusholme, lies the notorious Antwerp Mansion—a club situated within a dilapidated mansion. Ensuring an economical visit, numerous budget-friendly hotels can be found in close proximity to Oxford Road in the city centre.

Manchester Art Gallery

Location: Mosley Street & Princess Street, M2 3JL

Good for: Inspiration & hangovers

Let’s reel it back and stop drinking ourselves into oblivion, shall we? Nursing a hangover is never easy, but the power of art unquestionably presents healing properties.

The Manchester Art Gallery boasts an impressive collection of over 25,000 artworks for visitors to enjoy. Recognised as one of the world’s most stunning art galleries, it was established in 1824 and remains under public ownership. As a result, entrance to the gallery is completely free, allowing everyone to appreciate the masterpieces created by renowned artists.

Manchester 235

Location: Great Northern Warehouse, Watson St, M3 4LP

Good for: Socialising & Gambling

Have you ever wanted to visit Las Vegas? Fear not; the Manchester 235 casino effortlessly emulates the bright lights of Nevada’s gambling scene.

And yes, we understand how no deposit bonus offers available offered by online casinos are the most popular and tempting methods for spinning the roulette wheel, slot machines and playing a hand of poker or blackjack. But trust us, the vibrant atmosphere of a brick-and-mortar casino is an unmatchable experience.

Located within the esteemed Great Northern Warehouse, Manchester235 presents an exceptional assortment of casino games, the acclaimed James Martin restaurant, and sophisticated bars and recurring events to ensure a delightful experience for all patrons.

China Town

Location: Faulkner Street, M1 4FH

Good for: Sightseeing, food & shopping

You’ve visited Las Vegas in Manchester, but how about Asia?

Manchester’s Chinatown is the country’s second-largest after London. If you make your way down Faulkner Street, you will inevitably come across the stunning wooden “Paifang” archway. Erected in 1987, it serves as a generous gift from the city council.

This vibrant area has a diverse range of Chinese establishments, including businesses, restaurants, and supermarkets. Additionally, you can also explore Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, and Thai establishments. Situated in the city’s core, Chinatown is flanked by Piccadilly Gardens to the North and the Gay Village to the East.

The Comedy Store

Location: Arches Deansgate Locks, Whitworth St W, M1 5LH

Good for: Laughter

Laughter, food, live music, and drinks? Is there a better combination?

Manchester’s renowned stand-up comedy club continues to be a highly sought-after venue, having welcomed virtually every notable figure in comedy within the last 19 years.

The Comedy Store Manchester presents an exclusive combination of stand-up comedy, exquisite dining, and live music. Each week, from Thursday to Sunday, the most talented comedians in the industry perform on stage. Additionally, they host a distinct comedy night every Sunday to conclude the weekend.

The Gay Village

Location: Canal Street, M1

Good for: Restaurants, bars, pubs & clubs

The Gay Village revolves around Canal Street and presents a vibrant LGBT community, teeming with bars, clubs, eateries, and various nocturnal establishments. The ambience in this area is cheerful and relaxed, often leading to engaging conversations with friendly bartenders that can last longer than your entire trip. On sunny days, this neighbourhood truly thrives, with people enjoying the canal-side seating on the charming, tree-lined cobblestone street.

Explore the many restaurants, bars, pubs, and clubs this area has to offer. Whether it’s a day or nighttime visit, you’re guaranteed to find a suitable activity.


A few weeks ago, Belle and I went on a mini break. Mini breaks have previously ranked amongst our top hobbies, alongside going for drives, escape rooms and trying to get the dog to do dance routines. Over the last few years, what with the pandemic and the cost of living crisis, they’ve got fewer and farther between, so we were really looking forward to this one.

This mini break was going to be two nights at Tractors And Cream glamping site.

I say ‘was going to be’ as though some elaborate chain of events meant that we ended up accidentally going to New Zealand for three months to volunteer in a goat rehabilitation centre. We didn’t, we actually went to Tractors And Cream, it was just poor sentence construction.

tractors and cream glamping review View Post


Rovinj Croatia

For many single parents, travelling alone with kids can be overwhelming, especially if it means going overseas. But taking your child on an international trip as a single mom does not need to be terrifying. The key is in choosing the right destination. Thankfully, the world has many incredible places to make your holiday more enjoyable. From exploring the medieval walled town of Dubrovnik to a fun-filled getaway in Lake Garda and a relaxing beach holiday in Nice, here are the best places to visit in Europe for single-mum families.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Dubrovnik is a mesmerising city along the Dalmatian Coast, and a favourite among families visiting Croatia, especially those with kids who are big fans of the Game of Thrones, as the city has become the filming location for the popular TV show. It is a fun place to explore with the kids, where they can run around the Old Walls while admiring the views of the Adriatic Sea from the top. 

Riding the Dubrovnik Cable Car is a fun activity to do with the little ones. The scenic 4-minute ride takes you on a picturesque journey towards the peak of Mount Srd. You’ll love looking at your kids’ excited faces as they marvel at the panoramic views to the top. When you arrive at the peak, take the time to soak up the sights, visit the souvenir shop, and dine at the restaurant. 

Croatia is famous for its delightful beaches. Some of these are in Dubrovnik. For fun days at the beach, take the kids to Lapad Beach. It’s a protected bay boasting shallow turquoise water, safe for kids to paddle in. While your kids play, find a spot to relax in one of the umbrellas and sun loungers as you watch over them.

Menorca, Spain

Menorca is an ideal place to take your kids, whether on a quick getaway or a week-long holiday. Plus, its laidback atmosphere allows for that much-deserved relaxation. Since the island is relatively small, you can easily explore and stay in beautiful rentals in Menorca without dealing with tedious car journeys. In addition, Menorca is a safe and quiet island, full of places to explore and things to do.

You’ll love spending quality time with kids at Menorca’s stunning beaches. The island has 200 km of coastline dotted with beaches of all sizes and shapes, suitable for all kinds of families. If you prefer unspoilt beaches, almost free from the tourist crowd, head to Cala Mitjana on the island’s south coast. But if you have small kids and want a well-established beach with children’s facilities, visit the spectacular Cala Galdana. It has a kid’s playground, numerous restaurants, and other amenities for a more enjoyable time with your little ones.

Visit one of the Menorcan farms for a time away from the beach. Some of these farms allow visitors to see their animals, something to delight your little ones. Others will even demonstrate how they make certain products, a great learning experience for you and your kids. Your kids will love seeing their favourite animals up close, from cows to chickens, pigs, and goats!

Lake Garda, Italy

Exploring Lake Garda with your kids guarantees a fun adventure. Besides, the scenic lake offers a fabulous destination for a short weekend trip or an extended holiday in any season. It’s easy to reach by plane from almost anywhere in Europe and close to several major Italian cities like Milan. Thus, it’s ideal for single parents who don’t want to take long-haul flights with kids.

On the southern shore of Lake Garda, you’ll find some of Italy’s largest theme parks, like Gardaland, offering a perfect spot to bond with your kids. It’s a massive place, offering fun and entertainment for kids of all ages. From spectacular kiddie shows to exhilarating rides, you can easily spend the entire day here and still not see everything.

Visit the famous tourist town of Bardolino. Nestled on the lake’s eastern shores, along the stretch of coast where the lake goes from wide to narrow, Bardolino is a charming town with family-friendly attractions and activities. Its friendly and relaxed atmosphere offers a perfect place to unwind while spending quality time with your little ones. You’ll love walking around its panoramic streets filled with shops, cafes, and outdoor restaurants. The path along the lake is well-paved and stroller-friendly, so it’s great if you’ve got small kids.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is the perfect destination for families seeking a child-friendly city break. It’s very welcoming to families with kids, with numerous attractions and activities suitable for all ages. From a modern zoo to fantastic museums and colourful trams, Lisbon makes for an enjoyable family holiday. You will also discover some excellent villas to rent in Portugal, perfect for families looking for somewhere to stay whilst visiting here. 

If your kids are fascinated with history, take them to São Jorge Castle, a historic castle with ancient fortifications dating back thousands of years. The Pavilhão do Conhecimento is also a must-visit for families. It’s a child-oriented science centre offering various hands-on interactive exhibitions. 

For a relaxing day at the beach, visit Praia da Figueirinha, a stunning beach with brilliant blue waters. It’s situated on a sandbar, forming a sheltered lagoon. Thus, your little ones can safely swim around and not worry about rip currents or giant waves.

Nice, France

Nice is a child-friendly town, home to beautiful parks, gardens, and the stunning Promenade des Anglais, a perfect spot to take scenic walks with your little ones. 

If you’ve got active kids, take them to the Musée National du Sport, a fun museum showcasing the history of French sports. From here, take the kids for a picnic at Park Castel des Deux Rois, a gorgeous green space with a playground where kids can play and run around. 

Of course, no visit to Nice is complete without heading to one of its beautiful beaches. Check out Le Voilier Plage, a vast stretch of sand with abundant space for your kids to play around. It also has gentle slopes, making it popular for families with small kids. Moreover, the well-equipped beach has toilets and cool showers for you and your little ones to rinse off after a swim.


Some people jump out of planes or bungee jump from tall bridges to feel alive. Others have to race motorbikes at high speed to feel that buzz of adrenalin, or maybe they cheat on their wives or accidentally gamble away the kids’ college fund at a Las Vegas blackjack table.


Our family is way cooler (and more wholesome) than that. We get our kicks from solving puzzles. We get a thrill out of cracking a particularly tricksy code, or unscrambling an anagram, ideally with the added buzz of having someone at the end to tell us how clever we are. In fact I love it so much that one of the items on my 50 things before 50 list is to complete 100 escape rooms.

A dream day out for my family isn’t track racing and high stakes poker, it’s a morning stroll along the seafront, brunch with a nicely cooked poached egg and getting locked in a room full of puzzles. Which is exactly what I did for my birthday this week. We even rammed the poached egg point home by going to a café called Oeuf. (Very nice, would recommend, definitely get a latte.)

Oeuf Brighton latte art

The escape rooms I chose to celebrate my birthday with were two of the rooms at Pier Pressure Escape Rooms in Brighton – Modropehnia and Loot The Lanes – both amongst the most highly rated escape rooms in the UK. In fact, Loot The Lanes is currently THE top room. Needless to say, expectations were high. View Post


At the beginning of the month Belle and I ticked off one more item of my list of 50 things to do before 50 when we spent the night on Burgh Island.

That makes it sound a bit like we are Famous Five wannabees, and rowed over to a deserted island to sleep in a cave and watch for smugglers, but it was about as far away from cave camping as you can get. Burgh Island is cut off from the mainland at high tide, but it’s also home to a luxury hotel. Less ginger beer, ham and tomatoes and more champagne on arrival and smoked salmon open sandwiches.

Staying at the Burgh Island Hotel was on my list for multiple reasons. Firstly, it’s a gorgeous art deco building, with lots of original features and furnishings, and that’s one of my favourite periods for architecture.

Burgh Island Hotel

Burgh Island

More exciting though is the Agatha Christie connection. Christie came to Burgh Island regularly to write, and two of her most famous crime novels are set here – And Then There Were None and Evil Under The Sun. The ITV version of Evil Under The Sun is filmed here too, so you can wander around saying things like ‘Oooh this is where they met on the stairs’ and ‘this is the restaurant where Poirot and Hastings have dinner’. It doesn’t get much more exciting than that. View Post


Advertisement feature in association with Jet2 Holidays

This weekend I took a train up to Bristol to make some tapas. It might feel like quite a way to go when I have a perfectly good kitchen at home, but this was a special event being hosted by Jet2 Holidays to promote the fact that they are expanding their range of flights from Bristol airport. Plus I was promised free wine. I’ll go a long way for free wine.

The event was a tapas cooking class at Little Kitchen, which is a really lovely space in Totterdown, within walking distance of the station. They do a lot of private events, but loads of open cookery classes too, so if you like trying new things then definitely have a look. I’m seriously considering a scotch egg masterclass.

Jet2 holidays from Bristol

The aim of our cookery lesson was to recreate some of the Jet2 Holidays winter sun vibe that you would normally get by flying off to the Canary Islands. I have never been to the Canary Islands or had a winter sun holiday or even been on any kind of package holiday at all. I’m not sure why exactly – I guess money, as a young, single parent, and possibly just never having done it before, not being sure how it would work with kids on my own? That said, a week in a caravan in Cornwall is probably MORE expensive nowadays. Plus travelling abroad is so much simpler and more affordable, and there are places like Sims Direct to make sure you’ve got your phone prepared to travel too.

Lately though, now that Belle is older and I don’t have ‘children’ anymore, I’ve quite often found myself browsing package holiday sites like Jet2 Holidays and imagining how wonderful it might actually be to just lie in the sun and drink cocktails and not have to pack all the self-catering paraphernalia like tea towels and tea bags. Does any holiday ever feel like a real break when you have to pack tea towels??

There I am then, browsing the all inclusives, and into my inbox drops this event invitation, with the promise of wine and cooking and a quiz, where the winner would get a Canary Islands mini-break. Food, drink and competition – all of my favourite things.

The universe had provided. I had to say yes.

Jet2 Holidays Canary islands

Yes please manchego cheese

View Post


Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

We’ve just come back from a few days in Looe on the Cornish coast, and honestly, it was just beautiful. You could see the sea from our AirBnB garden, and what better way to spend an evening than looking at the waves, listening to the seagulls, and drinking a glass of wine?

We had the dog with us, so we spent a lot of the time on walks (or eating – like here at the River Shack), and many of our walks were on the beaches or coastal paths. I must admit that before I got a dog, I wouldn’t necessarily have thought to do a coastal walk, which is surprising given the stunning and diverse coastline we have in the UK.

So why are coastal walks so underrated? One reason could be that people just aren’t sure which are the best coastal walks to choose, or perhaps they’re worried that it will involve climbing or don’t know what to expect in terms of difficulty. With the internet, though, there are plenty of opportunities to research precisely what a walk involves, and as long as you have a good pair of walking boots, a decent coat, and a well-thought-out tech survival kit, you shouldn’t have any problems.

To get you feeling inspired about the potential of coastal walks in the UK, I’ve picked out a few ideas to get you started:

The South West Coast Path

Living in the South West I am biassed, but I think the coastal walks around Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, and Somerset are some of the most spectacular in the UK. The South West Coast Path is the longest waymarked footpath in the UK and stretches for 630 miles. You can dip in and out along the path wherever it takes your fancy. I recommend walking around Lyme Regis on the Jurassic Coast – one of my favourite coastal spots.

Burg on the Isle of Mull

The Isle of Mull is the second largest island of the Inner Hebrides, just off Scotland’s west coast. This walk isn’t for beginners, but if you like a hike that rewards you with spectacular views and a real sense of perspective, then this is well worth a go.

Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland

It’s hard to conjure up a coastal walk quite as unique as the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland. The National Trust looks after this stunning stretch of coastline and manages several walking trails of varying difficulty levels, or you can take part in a five-mile guided cliff hike.

Formby Point in Merseyside

When we think of Liverpool, your first thought probably isn’t coastal walks. Yet not far from Liverpool sits Formby point, part of the Liverpool Bay area. Formby Point is a glorious expanse of open beaches and dunes – as much fresh air as you could wish for and all within reach of the city.

Whitehaven in Cumbria

Cumbria is famous for its lakes, but would you consider exploring the coast of Cumbria? One of the most stunning stretches of the Cumbrian coastline is the walk between Whitehaven and St Bees, both beautiful places in their own right. Look out for wildlife – you may be lucky enough to see puffins!

If these coastal walk ideas have excited you about your next holiday, why not take a look at them in more detail and start planning your next break now?


Advertisement feature in association with Southern

When I put ‘complete all three crazy golf courses in Hastings, the spiritual home of crazy golf’ on my list of 50 things to do before I’m 50, I didn’t realise I was carrying on a family tradition. Little did I know that my mother and grandparents before me had, in the mid 1960s, stood on the slopes of East Hill in Hastings, playing the 9 hole, council run, pitch and putt.

Hastings pitch and putt East Hill

That’s my mum on the left, my uncle Pete in the middle, and my Grandad on the right. My Grandad was rarely seen without a suit and tie, although we did find some other Hastings pitch and putt photos where he appears with his short sleeves rolled up! The scandal.

The pitch and putt closed in the 1980s, but Hastings hasn’t lost its love of mini golf. In fact, Hastings now plays host to the World Crazy Golf Championships, which I’m sure is something a lot of you had never even imagined existed. Hastings Adventure Golf, which you can see in the picture below, taken from the cliffs above, has three courses – ‘Adventure’, ‘Crazy’ and ‘Pirate’ – and last week we took a Southern train along the south coast to Hastings and did ALL THREE.

Hastings crazy golf

Crazy golf, crazy lady

Now you might be thinking ‘THREE courses of crazy golf is a lot of crazy golf Jo, are you sure you’re not the crazy one?’ and you would be right, it IS a lot. In fact, by the time we finished it was dark, and I was feeling a little bit like I might never want to see a golf ball again, but that’s the whole point isn’t it? Life is fairly meaningless at the best of times, so if you’ve challenged yourself to complete three crazy golf courses back to back then damn it, you’re going to complete them, even if it is past your bedtime. (We were visiting mid heat wave and were very pleased that the golf was open until 10pm so we could go in the evening when it was a bit cooler. By the end of it I was wishing I’d brought a golf stand bag though, or at least a child who was willing to hold things for me.)

Seriously though, we had a lot of fun, and there was a WINDMILL and everything. You know your crazy golf course is properly crazy when there’s a windmill. View Post


Advertisement feature in association with Zip World – all views my own

What are you really scared of?

I like to think that generally I’m pretty confident. I’m not scared of a lot of big stuff like being a single parent, being self-employed and the only breadwinner, driving massive motorhomes by myself, going on stage in front of hundreds of people and trying to be funny, zip wiring off the end of a pier across the sea – all of these I’m good with.

Stepping out onto a bridge made of planks though, high above the ground, with just a couple of carabiner clips to reassure me – THAT I am scared of.

It’s probably not surprising then that the weeks leading up to visiting Zip World in the Rhigos mountains in South Wales were a little on the anxious side. Especially not when you consider their brand new family attraction – Tower Climber.

Tower Climber Zip World



Tower Climber is the newest addition to Zip World in South Wales, joining Tower Flyer, Tower Coaster and Phoenix – the fastest seated zip wire in the whole world. (We did this while we were there and LOVED it – definitely recommend.)

While I can get on board with zip wires, as you really just have to sit there, there is something about the high ropes and having to physically make yourself step out onto an obstacle that I find really tough. Still, I’m always up for a challenge, so I engaged the ‘act now think later’ part of my brain, said YES and off we went to the site of the old Tower Colliery for some wholesome family fun. View Post