travel secret of happiness

The travel experience opens up a world of adventure, culture, and marvelous memories. However, to fully appreciate the thrill of a remarkable journey, then the first thing to pack is – peace of mind.

Ensuring the security of your accommodation is central to achieving this. With insights on safeguarding personal belongings and ensuring a secure stay, whether in a hotel or while Airbnbing your own home, this article discusses everything you need to know to make sure your travel experiences are memorable for all the right reasons.

The Role of Accommodation Security in Travel

Security is something that is often overlooked when considering travel accommodations. However, while aspects like location and amenities are essential criteria, arguably security should be top of your list.

Ultimately, the safety of you and your belongings is what is going to define your travel experience. A point that is especially important for solo travelers.

It may not seem this way if you return from your trip without any safety issues, but one night in improperly secured accommodation could be all it takes to ruin your experience. Put simply, when it comes to peace of mind and the travel experience you deserve, security should always be a primary consideration.

With the significance of accommodation security firmly established, let’s explore the essential security measures you should look for before booking your next stay.

Key Accommodation Security Measures

Security is the “key” to a worry-free and enjoyable travel experience. But just how do you guarantee that the accommodation you are considering is as safe as it should be?

Here are some of the accommodation security measures that can help guide you in the right direction:

Modern Hotel Door Lock Systems

Modern hotel door lock systems provide an enhanced level of security for guests, utilizing technology to offer both convenience and protection. These systems range from key cards to mobile app access, significantly reducing the risk of unauthorized entry.

Benefits of these systems include:

  •       Increased security: Advanced encryption methods make these locks much harder to tamper with compared to traditional key systems.
  •       Convenience for guests: Allows for seamless access to rooms without the hassle of carrying physical keys.
  •       Audit trails: Electronic systems can track entry and exit, offering a detailed log of door access, which aids in security management.

24/7 Security Personnel

While there is increasing emphasis on technology as a security tool, the importance of on-site security personnel shouldn’t be overlooked. Onsite and trained security staff can respond promptly to incidents, provide assistance, and maintain a secure environment around the clock.

Benefits of having 24/7 security personnel include:

  •       Immediate response: Security staff can quickly address safety concerns, incidents, or emergencies, providing immediate assistance to guests.
  •       Deterrent to threats: The visible presence of security personnel can significantly deter potential security threats, contributing to a safer environment.
  •       Guest assistance: Besides security, personnel can assist guests with directions, information, or any immediate needs, enhancing the overall guest experience.

Surveillance Cameras in Common Areas

Well-lit common areas with modern surveillance systems are an essential part of modern accommodation security. The continuous monitoring of these areas is essential for deterring potential security breaches and providing evidence if incidents occur.

Benefits of surveillance cameras and well-lit areas include:

  •       Enhanced deterrence: Visible cameras and adequate lighting act as strong deterrents to criminal activities, ensuring guests feel safer.
  •       Constant monitoring: Cameras provide 24/7 surveillance, helping to quickly identify and respond to security incidents.
  •       Safety in visibility: Well-lit surroundings, especially in entrances, walkways, and parking areas, not only enhance the effectiveness of cameras but also make guests feel secure at night.

 Airbnbing Your Own Home Safely While Traveling

Of course, the cost of accommodation is always a primary concern and increasingly people are renting out their homes on Airbnb to offset the expense of their trip. However, while this is a great way to earn extra income, the safety of your home, belongings, and the guests that stay there needs to be considered.

Here are some recommended practices to help secure your home when renting it on Airbnb:

  •       Secure valuables: Lock away personal belongings and valuables in a safe place or a locked room that guests cannot access.
  •       Install quality locks and security systems: Upgrade to high-quality locks and consider installing a security system that you can monitor remotely.
  •       Provide clear house rules: Set and communicate clear house rules regarding security practices, such as locking doors and windows when leaving the house.
  •       Establish a trusted local contact: Have a local friend, neighbor, or property management service check on your home regularly.

Taking the correct precautions means security remains part of your travel experience from door to door.

From Start to Finish: Ensuring Your Travel Safety

The security of your accommodation might not be the first thing that springs to mind when booking your trip, but lax security can quickly put a dampener on your travel experience. While there are plenty of excellent and safe places for single-mum families to visit, it is always worth digging a little deeper into this before you click that “Book Now” button.

Similarly, if you are renting your home out on Airbnb while you travel, taking some time to make sure it is also properly secured can save you from returning to some unpleasant surprises.


As the days lengthen and spring begins to bring colour back into the world, the UK becomes a wonderful display of nature. But, while the first spring flower most of us think of is the iconic daffodil there are other, equally beautiful displays to see.

One of the most enchanting spring sights are the carpets of bluebells that will briefly appear to cover the floors of woodlands and meadows up and down the country. It’s hard not to be transported to a more magical time when you look out over the thousands of delicate lilac and blue blooms.

Anyone planning a springtime holiday should make it a goal to go out and see at least one natural display of bluebells.

Imagine spending your days frolicking in the flower fields before retreating to your luxury accommodation and taking a dip in the warmth of the hot tub.

So, when you’re looking at booking UK getaways with a hot tub, consider a trip to one of these locations.

Micheldever Wood, Hampshire

Hampshire has more than its fair share of impressive woodlands, many of which will see a flood of bluebells blooming in the spring. If we have to narrow it down to just one top spot out of these, Micheldever Wood is the one that stands above the others.

This Forestry Commission-managed woodland features an impressive sea of bluebells that surround the trees in a riot of blue. You can easily spend hours wandering the well-marked paths of the wood, simply taking in the serenity of its spring atmosphere. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some of the local deer, birds or butterflies on your visit.

Enys Gardens, Cornwall

More well known for its rugged coastlines and variety of beaches, Cornwall is also home to some stunning stately gardens. Nestled in amongst some more famous landscapes, Enys Gardens feature what is possibly the most breathtaking bluebell display in the county.

Hidden away in the woods near Penryn, having spent much of the last century in obscurity, the grounds of Enys offer a magical escape into nature. It’s in the meadow of Parc Lye that you’ll find the real showstopper, though.

During the month of May, the ancient meadow is carpeted with an imressive array of bluebells that spread as far as the eye can see. The Gardens even offer longer opening hours during this period for visitors to thoroughly enjoy the sight.

Rannerdale Knotts, Lake District

When you think of the Lake District you probably think of windswept, craggy fells. However, between April and May, the area around Rannerdale Knotts is transformed into a vibrant sea of bluebells.

It’s quite the dramatic contrast of soft bluebells against the wild, rugged hills that define the Lake District. This remote area offers a rather different experience to the usual woodland floors you’d walk to find bluebells.

While it’s a bit of a hike to reach the impressive valley of bluebells the view is entirely worth it, providing a truly unique wild vista.

Winkworth Arboretum, Surrey

For an even greater variety of spring’s bounty on display, Winkworth Arboretum is a must visit for anyone at all interested in nature. Managed by the National Trust, Winkworth features over 120 acres of woodland to explore and enjoy.

Although the landscape is beautiful at all times of the year, during springtime, the woodland floor transforms into a canvas of bluebells. The flowers are complimented by neighbouring rhododendrons and magnolias, which add to the drama and beauty of the views along the Arboretum’s many walking trails.

If you’re planning a spring getaway then you’ve got no excuse not to venture out in search of some beautiful bluebell blooms. Make sure you don’t leave it too late to book your break, or you’ll risk missing out on this amazing spectacle of nature!


On our recent trip to Copenhagen we stayed in the Hotel Kong Arthur. I picked it primarily because I loved the look of the front of the building, which is surely as good a reason as any? I also loved the styling and the location – you’re only a five minute walk from the fabulous Torvehallern indoor markets and the Norreport station, which connects to the Metro and has direct trains to the airport and the Malmo in Sweden – perfect as we wanted to do a day trip while we were there.

Hotel Kong Arthur Copenhagen

Top tip – Google Maps will try to take you to the main entrance, and while this is nice for the view as you round the end of the street, there is also a side entrance that cuts off a chunk of time.

Grandeur Meets Comfort

From the moment you step into the lobby, Hotel Kong Arthur exudes a sense of grandeur paired with an inviting warmth. The meticulously designed interiors seamlessly blend contemporary aesthetics with classic Danish charm. The plush furnishings and thoughtfully curated decor create an ambiance that feels both luxurious and cosy, setting the stage for a truly indulgent stay.

I loved that every day in the bar they have ‘cosy hour’ from 5pm to 6pm where everyone gets a free drink! The idea is to either use it as a chance to hang out with your family or to get to meet other guests if you’re travelling alone.

Hotel Kong Arthur offers a diverse range of accommodations, catering to the varied preferences of its guests. Whether you opt for a stylish standard room or choose to elevate your experience with a suite overlooking the picturesque canals, each room is a haven of comfort. The attention to detail, coupled with modern amenities, ensures that your stay is not only pleasurable but also tailored to your individual needs.

Culinary Delights

The hotel’s commitment to culinary excellence is evident in its selection of dining options. The on-site restaurant, “La Rocca,” takes guests on a gastronomic journey through Italian-inspired cuisine. From delectable pasta dishes to mouth-watering desserts, the menu reflects both creativity and a dedication to using fresh, local ingredients. Additionally, the hotel’s breakfast spread is a delightful start to the day, offering an array of Danish delights and international favourites.

There are plenty of great places to eat nearby too. We had dinner one night at the original Sticks ‘n’ Sushi, which is just a few minutes walk away and was AMAZING. We also recommend the breakfast at the Feel Good cafe just a couple of streets down.

Wellness Oasis

For those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation, Hotel Kong Arthur’s Ni’mat Spa is a haven of tranquillity. Unwind with a massage or take a dip in the spa’s inviting pool, surrounded by the soothing ambiance of dimmed lights and aromatic scents. The spa’s commitment to holistic well-being provides a perfect complement to the bustling city outside.

Beyond its opulent offerings, Hotel Kong Arthur takes strides towards sustainability and community engagement. The hotel’s eco-friendly practices, from energy-efficient initiatives to waste reduction programs, contribute to a greener future. Additionally, the hotel actively participates in community outreach, fostering a sense of responsibility towards both the local and global community.

Hotel Kong Arthur is more than just a place to stay; it’s an immersive experience that combines luxury, comfort, and a commitment to sustainability. From its opulent interiors to its delectable dining options and spa indulgences, every aspect of the hotel is designed to leave a lasting impression. Whether you’re exploring the enchanting streets of Copenhagen or seeking a tranquil retreat within the city, Hotel Kong Arthur stands as a regal haven that elevates your stay to a truly memorable experience.


travel secret of happiness

Traveling solo can be a transformative experience, offering unparalleled freedom, self-discovery, and adventure. Whether you’re seeking cultural immersion, breathtaking landscapes, or vibrant city life, there are plenty of destinations around the world perfect for solo exploration.

Here, we present a top 10 list of such destinations, each offering unique experiences and opportunities for solo travellers. We have also included the approximate cost per night for a single room, although of course this will vary depending on the time of year, the location within the city and the type of accommodation chosen.

Kyoto, Japan

Known for its stunning temples, traditional tea houses, and serene gardens, Japan’s former capital Kyoto on the island of Honshu offers a peaceful escape for solo travellers. Navigate the city’s charming streets, explore its stunning Buddhist temples and imperial palaces, participate in a tea ceremony, or wander through the famous bamboo groves of Arashiyama.

Accommodation options range from budget-friendly hostels to traditional ryokans, with single room rates starting at around £40 per night.

Reykjavik, Iceland

For solo adventurers who crave natural wonders, the capital city of Reykjavik serves as the perfect base for exploring Iceland’s breathtaking landscapes. Embark on day trips to witness cascading waterfalls, geothermal hot springs, whale-watching tours, and the mesmerising Northern Lights.

Solo travellers can find affordable accommodation in guesthouses or hostels, with single room rates averaging around £50-£85 per night.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon’s colourful streets, lively atmosphere, and warm hospitality make it an ideal destination for solo travellers. Explore historic neighbourhoods like Alfama, indulge in delicious pastries at local bakeries, or simply soak in the city’s vibrant energy by the Tagus River.

Solo-friendly hostels and guesthouses offer comfortable accommodation at prices ranging from £30-£60 per night for a single room.

Queenstown, New Zealand

Adventure seekers will find paradise in Queenstown, nestled amidst New Zealand’s majestic Southern Alps. From bungee jumping and skydiving to hiking and skiing, there’s no shortage of adrenaline-pumping activities to enjoy alone or with fellow travellers.

Solo accommodation options include backpacker lodges and budget hotels, with single room rates starting at around £40-£70 per night.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona’s stunning coastline, architectural wonders, and vibrant nightlife make it a must-visit destination for solo travellers. Explore the iconic works of Antoni Gaudí, stroll along the bustling streets of La Rambla, or unwind on the city’s beautiful beaches. Liberal Barcelona also ranks highly for LGBTQA+ travellers too, with the popular Eixample area known locally as the Gaixample thanks to its wide variety of gay-friendly bars, shops, and restaurants.

Solo travellers can find affordable accommodation in centrally located hostels or guesthouses, with single room rates averaging around £35-£75 per night.

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Escape the hustle and bustle of Thailand’s major cities and retreat to the laid-back charm of Chiang Mai. Discover ancient temples, indulge in delicious street food, or embark on a trek through the lush jungles of northern Thailand.

Budget-friendly guesthouses and hostels cater to solo travellers, with single room rates starting as low as £20 per night.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Immerse yourself in the passionate culture and vibrant nightlife of Buenos Aires, known as the “Paris of South America.” Explore eclectic neighbourhoods like Palermo and San Telmo, dance the tango in local milongas, or savour mouthwatering steaks cooked the Argentine way at traditional parrillas.

Solo-friendly accommodations range from boutique hotels to cozy guesthouses, with single room rates averaging around £35-£70 per night.

Prague, Czech Republic

With its fairy-tale architecture, fascinating history, and bustling beer gardens, Prague offers endless opportunities for solo exploration. Wander through the cobbled streets of the Old Town, admire the majestic Prague Castle, or cruise along the Vltava River at sunset.

Solo travellers can find affordable accommodation in centrally located hostels or budget hotels, with single room rates starting at around £20-£50 per night.

Vancouver, Canada

Surrounded by stunning natural beauty, Vancouver is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts and very popular with solo travellers, much like the rest of Canada. Explore Stanley Park by bike, hike the scenic trails of Grouse Mountain, or stroll along the picturesque waterfront at English Bay.

Solo accommodation ranges from cosy guesthouses to modern hostels, with single room rates averaging around £60 per night.

Seoul, South Korea

Experience the perfect blend of ancient traditions and modern innovation in Seoul, South Korea’s dynamic capital city. Discover historic palaces, indulge in mouthwatering street food, or shop ’til you drop in bustling markets like Myeongdong.

Solo travellers can find affordable accommodation in guesthouses or budget hotels, with single room rates starting at around £30-£50 per night.

Whether you’re craving cultural immersion, outdoor adventure, the opportunity to embark on unforgettable adventures, make new friends, or simply a chance to explore at your own pace, these destinations have something for every solo traveller’s taste and budget. So, pack your bags, embrace the spirit of adventure, and set off on the journey of a lifetime.


On our recent trip to Copenhagen we stayed about ten minutes walk away from the Botanical Gardens. As the gardens open at 8.30am, it was the perfect opportunity for me to have an explore while Belle was still asleep back at the hotel. There was barely anyone in the gardens but me and I got to see a red squirrel – one of the highlights of my trip! Here are just a few reasons why the Botanical Gardens in Copenhagen are special.

Copenhagen Botanical Gardens palm house

A Historical Tapestry

As you step through the gates of the Botanical Gardens, you are immediately embraced by a rich tapestry of history. Established in 1600, the gardens boast a legacy that spans centuries. Originally founded for the University of Copenhagen’s medical students, the gardens have evolved into a treasure trove of botanical wonders. The historical glasshouses, including the Palm House and the Butterfly House, stand as majestic monuments to the past, housing an impressive array of exotic flora.

Horticultural Diversity

One of the most captivating aspects of the Botanical Gardens is the sheer diversity of plant life it houses. With over 13,000 species, the gardens serve as a living encyclopedia of the plant kingdom. From vibrant orchids to towering cacti, each section unveils a new chapter in the story of botanical exploration. The meticulously curated collections are a testament to the dedication of the garden’s staff in preserving and showcasing the world’s botanical wealth.

Seasonal Splendour

No matter the time of year, the Botanical Gardens offer a visual feast for visitors. Spring unfolds with a riot of colours as cherry blossoms and tulips paint the landscape. Summer brings lush greenery and the sweet fragrance of blooming flowers, while autumn transforms the scenery into a kaleidoscope of reds and golds. Even in winter, the gardens remain a magical destination, with snow-covered pathways leading to the stillness of the glasshouses.

Educational Excursions

Beyond its aesthetic appeal, the Botanical Gardens serve as a valuable educational resource. The gardens play a crucial role in plant conservation, research, and education. Visitors can partake in guided tours, workshops, and educational programs designed to deepen their understanding of plant life and biodiversity. The gardens actively contribute to global initiatives aimed at preserving endangered species and promoting sustainable practices.

A Tranquil Haven

In the midst of Copenhagen’s urban hustle, the Botanical Gardens provide a peaceful sanctuary. Wander along the winding paths, find a quiet bench beneath a towering tree, and immerse yourself in the soothing sounds of nature. The gardens are not merely a collection of plants but a living, breathing refuge where visitors can escape the demands of daily life and connect with the beauty of the natural world. Like red squirrels!

red squirrel copenhagen botanical gardens


A visit to the Botanical Gardens in Copenhagen is not just a botanical exploration; it’s a journey through time, a celebration of diversity, and a moment of tranquility in the heart of the city. Whether you’re a seasoned plant enthusiast or someone looking for a peaceful escape, the Botanical Gardens in Copenhagen offer a blooming adventure that is both enriching and rejuvenating. So, lace up your walking shoes, embrace the greenery, and let the botanical wonders of Copenhagen enchant you.


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As of this week I have officially achieved a lifelong ambition. I now own a gilet.

Okay, I get that this might not seem like a terribly lofty ambition, and you might wonder why I’ve never just bought a gilet, and honestly I can’t answer that. Suffice it to say that I now have one – a stylish emerald green number from the Land’s End women’s gilet range – and it is everything I ever dreamed of.

I wore it on its first outing on Saturday to Greenway – Agatha Christie’s holiday home near Torquay – which is now owned by the National Trust. I wanted to do their Christmas wreath trail around the gardens, see the house festooned in Christmas decorations and of course, walk to the boathouse and solve a murder.

‘Do I look rich?’ I asked as I put on my gilet in the car park. My children raised their eyebrows sceptically.

It became apparent as soon as we started walking from the car park up to the ticket office that I was a natural gilet wearer. My children claimed I had ‘let the gilet go to my head already’, and started muttering things about me swaggering along the footpath, but I imagine they were just jealous.

women's gilet

We were less than five minutes in and I was having such a lovely time that I started my usual moan about how much I wanted to be retired and that perhaps I would have a complete career change and open a forest school.

‘Look at mum,’ said Belle, ‘she’s been wearing a gilet for five seconds and suddenly she wants to open a forest school. What do you even know about the forest?’

‘I like trees?’ I suggested.

Not good enough apparently, but I was enjoying my new gilet life so much that I let their cynicism wash over me like a light rain shower over a gilet.

We had a spot of lunch in the cafe, obviously – a jacket potato for me because nothing says ‘casual gilet wearer’ like a jacket potato in a National Trust cafe – and then I made everyone follow me as I swaggered around the gardens, looking like I might be off to assess the pruning requirements of something or other.

It was perfect gilet weather – mild for December at about 13 degrees, but with a nice breeze. If anything I did get a bit too hot at one point, but that was when I was complaining in the ticket office because they had closed the house earlier than advertised and I was having a bit of a rush of adrenaline trying not to cry at the disappointment of not seeing the Christmas tree in Agatha’s library.

It all turned out okay though – the manager came down and let me in the back door. Either I looked like a woman on the brink or the gilet gave me such gravitas that I commanded immediate respect.

Let’s assume the latter.


Advertisement feature in association with Buses of Somerset

This weekend I did something I haven’t done for a long time, I got a bus.

It’s been so long since I got a bus that I was oblivious to the amazing prices that buses have going on at the moment. In my mind, a bus into town was going to set me back a few pounds at least but nope, £1.

Yep, as very clearly modelled so elegantly below, all single fares in the Taunton town zone are capped at £1 this winter, meaning you can go and do your Christmas shopping or meet up with friends and family without any of the hassle or cost of parking.

The deal extends into the whole of Somerset too. Get a single bus anywhere at all in the county and it will cost you just £2. It’s an absolute bargain – you’d pay that for your parking, not even considering the petrol.

Buses of Somerset originally asked if I fancied showcasing the joy of getting a bus by arranging to meet friends or family but to be honest, I enjoy a trip out on my own just as much and so suggested that I take myself on a little morning at as a treat. I love spending time just me, mooching about. Plus you can take as many pictures as you want and no one rolls their eyes or complains you should be spending Quality Time with them.

The first step obviously was to get a bus. That was as easy as that sentence makes it sound – I walked to the bus stop, the bus arrived on time, I handed over my shiny pound coin, (you don’t have to have cash) and off we went. The bus dropped me off bang in the centre of town, so no need to worry about finding a parking space or paying for it.

Cheap bus Somerset

Then of course it was time for brunch. It’s always time for brunch with me. When I first moved back to Taunton I actually cried in the street because I couldn’t find anywhere to have eggs florentine, (the crying may have been about something a little deeper, although I wouldn’t put it past me, I do feel strongly about brunch).

I’ve since found my way around the Taunton branch scene thank goodness and decided to head to The Shed, partly because my lovely friend Rachel works there and partly because it used to be public toilets and that appeals to my childish nature. I found myself a cosy corner and got stuck into some homemade beans on toast with a poached egg.

The Shed

Fully brunched, it was time for a bit of Christmas shopping. One of the things I love about going into Taunton is that I always see somebody I know. I’d already had a hug with Rachel, but just down the road at My Carbon Coach is Rachel‘s husband Tim. He sells all sorts of lovely, plastic-free, eco-living goodies and I bought some adorable make-your-own place scenes for my nieces in Cornwall.

My Carbon Coach

I also popped down to Rocket and Bird to see Susie and Jeanette. They have a gorgeous shop in the Taunton Independent Quarter where they sell things they make and curate work from lots of other Somerset makers.

(If you want to see me making all of my friends wave at the camera then head to Instagram to have a look at the video I made of my outing. Bless them, they barely even asked what I was doing, just waved happily.)

Because Christmas is coming up, there are lots of arts and crafts tents in the town centre at the moment, so I had a browse through those and helped myself to some cheese samples from one of the festive food huts. It would have been rude not to, the cheese is there to be sampled after all.

I took Belle a hot chocolate at work – she’s working in a shop in the town centre at the moment – did a little more Christmas shopping and then it was time to really exploit the fact that I had come on a bus by getting a mulled wine. It was the coldest day of the year so far, as you can see from the colour of my nose, so the mulled wine went down very nicely. I may have had two. Don’t tell anyone.

£1 bus Taunton

After a few hours of delightful mooching about, full of cheese and mulled wine, it was time to get the bus home again. I can’t get over what good value the bus is at the moment – I’m definitely going to plan a trip further afield in Somerset and make use of the £2 cap as well.

You can find out more about the deal and the campaign to get more people to ‘Say Bus!’ on the Buses of Somerset website here.

Do you get the bus often? Would these low fares encourage you to make better use of the buses in Somerset? Leave a comment and let me know!

Buses of Somerset £1 fare


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I used to work with a guy who went on a Caribbean cruise every year. Every year he would come back saying he had put on half a stone, mainly in prawns. It sounded amazing honestly. I had visions of seafood buffets as far as the eye could see.

As I’ve got older my urge to cruise has become stronger and stronger. I love the idea of waking up somewhere new every morning without having left my bed, the slow pace, the enforced rest and relaxation. And the prawns. Did I mention the prawns?

In my mind of course I would be strolling along the deck, drop my handkerchief and bend down to pick it up at the same time as Captain Hastings. Poirot would doff his hat to me and call me ‘mademoiselle’ and we would chat about the views and they would probably invite me to join them for dinner. I would become embroiled in an exciting mystery where Poirot would use me as bait to seduce the handsome scoundrel who had been swindling beautiful women across Europe out of their inheritances and together we would extract a confession and save the day.

Caribbean cruise

Like this but fewer pyramids

Wait, where was I?

Oh yes, cruises.

What I really need to do is to make this cruise dream a reality. I need a spend a happy afternoon browsing MSC cruise deals and making Pinterest boards of cruise outfits and practising my lock picking skills, just in case. A good amateur sleuth can always pick a lock, ideally with a hat pin, which I will always have to hand because of the stylish cruising hat I will be wearing.

I picture my cruise in the Caribbean because why not? The Caribbean is beautiful and lends itself very nicely to a book title – ‘The Curse of the Caribbean Swindler’ perhaps. Reese Witherspoon will play me in the film. I will wear something long and flowing to the premiere.

And in the meantime I will stick with swooning over cruise118 and maybe having a prawn sandwich.


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.