When I realised this month’s travel link up topic was travel companions I knew I had to get involved. Why? Because mine are the BEST. I know you’re going to argue and say I’m biased… I haven’t tried yours… I’m not being objective… but seriously you can protest as much as you want, the bottom line is you won’t find a group like mine

(ok maybe I’m being far too literal here, please don’t be offended, I’m sure your companions are just fine)

Of course I’m not the type of person to make a sweeping statement and just expect you to roll with me, so let me break this down:

 

1. We’re family!

For most people this can be a pro and a con, but in our case it’s really just a pro. Being family means we can say what we think. We know each other’s habits. We know what makes each other tick, smile, laugh and means we can share clothes and whatever else one of us may have forgotten without feeling guilty.

 

 

2. They taught me how to share

Food that is. I’m quite possessive when it comes to what’s on my plate. I know what I like and I used to begrudge having to sacrifice even a morsel. I’ve started to ease up on the food selfishness and realised not only is food more fun in a group but we can try so much more! (Unless I’ve decided to order tuna toasties, no-one seems that assed about sharing those).

 

 

 

3. We’re a pool of knowledge.

I’m not the sharpest tool in the box, but between us, we genuinely are a pool of knowledge. Travelling with others, you can easily sponge off each other’s random facts, memories, travel tales… I love how much you can learn from travelling with others.

 

 

4. We push each other to try new experiences

Ok so this ones not always a good thing. In fact every time they’ve pushed me into something it’s usually involved heights, resulted in me making a fool of myself and left the rest of them in fits of laughter. But when we’re together, we really do feel like we can give anything a shot (NOT jumping off anything above 10 feet though. No-one can make me do that). Even if I’m dying inside, if my fab four are with me I know it’s going to be ok. Although come to think of it, they did leave me for dead in a ball pool once… hmm….

 

 

5. We make each other laugh. A LOT.

All the time. I love travelling with a group where you can be one hundred percent yourself. When you can explore the world and be silly at the same time. Its funny because there are a lot of people who think I’m quiet, bit boring and keep to myself, but those that know me complain because I’m the complete opposite. When I travel with my F4 I can just be me, in all forms of craziness. It’s GREAT. For me anyway 😉

 

 

We’ve had some epic trips over the years, and nowadays our group is expanding, we’re bringing on new recruits and I feel there are many more fun trips ahead!

Just need to start planning the next one asap now…

 

 

 

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This month the travel linkup topic is . . . travel companions. They could be constant, occasional, animal, crazy or simply left at home. You tell us!
How to link up your post

Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th October), add it to the link up widget found on SilverSpoon London, Follow Your Sunshine, Adventures of a London Kiwi or on the blog of our lovely guest host Leona at Wandermust Family.

There are no rules – basically all we ask is that you check out some of the other cool bloggers that are involved in that months travel link up; comments here and there, and tweet a few of the posts. It’s a great way to meet some new travel bloggers and share some blogging love!

The Travel Link Up is open to all bloggers – as long as the post is relevant!

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I had a really fun post originally planned for this Travel Linkup, one that celebrated and showed off my home town. But with everything that has been happening in the world, I scrapped it (gosh I do this a lot).

I was Annoyed. Frustrated. Angry. Not really sure how I felt about the word ‘home’.

I’ve mentioned before I didn’t grow up here, I’ve moved a number of times in my lifetime and there is never just one place that feels like home.

Saudi Arabia is one, although my love for the country itself has deteriorated completely. As my eyes are opened more and more (I’ve got big eyes, it takes a bit of time) I’ve stopped defending the country for it’s ways and I can no longer relate to their obvious interest in greed – judging by the latest farce of entertaining POTUS and the issues emerging with Qatar.

BUT, despite this, it will always feel like home.

Where my parents live? Is that home? It’s in a town I lived in after moving back to the UK. My parents’ home will always be home I suppose but the town itself, it’s not really a place where I would live or have real affinity too.

So Manchester then?

Well, it’s a town I labelled as home the last time we discussed this topic, but recently I’ve begun to wonder… is this the place??? Tony Walsh sure thinks it is and I feel a huge connection here but… is it what springs to mind when I think of the word home?

I recently read Tanja’s post on what home means to her, and it was Munchkin her cat. I totally agreed. I love travelling more than anything but coming home to my cat is always an exciting part of any journey.

So could home be where the cat is for me too?

Nope.

I know exactly what it is now, it’s a bit mushy but hey, I can’t help it sometimes.
Home is definitely where all my favourite people (and animals) are.

So basically everywhere.

Literally everywhere.

Going on holiday I cannot count the number of times Mo and I have said ‘we could live here’ – and you know what we could! We could live anywhere, we’ve got homes all over the world. Homes are places where you feel happy, safe not necessarily a physical structure.

I’ve been up to my mum and dad’s a couple of times these last few weeks and everything about being in their ‘home’ makes me smile. The smell of the towels, the way they arrange their cupboards, the drawer where my dad hides his pens… everything about it is so ‘them’ and that’s why it feels like home.

The same when I’m at my sister’s, or with our friends, our neighbours…

It’s all about the people. That’s the real home.

And hey, maybe that’s why I feel the strongest, and have stayed the longest in Manchester.

As you must’ve seen and heard on the news by now, Mancs are pretty s*%$ hot amazing.

 

Three of the images above are credit to Manchester Evening News – a publication that provides brilliant coverage of all things Manchester

 

As my day job continues to test my positive outlook on life I’m glad I took a moment to define what’s really important, and with an all important election coming up I hope people remember that life isn’t all about money, bricks and mortar.

It’s about looking after the people who make up our homes, wherever they may be.

 

 

This months Travel linkup is about Home and there are some great posts! Check them out on the link up widget found on Follow Your Sunshine, SilverSpoon London, Adventures of a London Kiwi or guest host Ngaire at Kiwi Footprints.

 

What does home mean to you?

 

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header image for Travel Linkup_ New Year Travel Goals

 

Happy New Year!!

It’s finally here, we’ve said goodbye to 2016 and I can now get excited for a fresh start and year ahead. In between working, volunteering and seeing friends and family I spent the last week having a complete detox in the house. Mo and I cleared through all the excess we have accumulated in our lives and have passed things on to those who need them more.

We want a fresh start for us both.

So… what lies ahead??

SO MUCH AWESOMENESS!!!

 

Myanmar

I’m heading to Yangon this month to join a tour with Intrepid travel and discover the beauty of Myanmar. A trip that originally I was in two minds about (more on that later) but now everything has been finalised and I will soon be taking my first Cathay Pacific flight East where I hope to discover sights, sounds and tastes of Burmese culture.

 

View point in Myanmar

Image taken from myanmar.travel

 

Flaine

I had never heard of Flaine, had not the foggiest idea where it was (I now know it’s in France). But after a fantastically fun session at Chill factore in Manchester with Crystal Ski Holidays, I managed to win a trip for my fantastic four crew and I to FINALLY go on our first ever ski trip!!! So to Flaine we shall go!!

 

snow in Flaine, France

Image taken from Crystal Ski Holidays

 

London

I go to London quite a bit, but this year Traverse has decided to pick London as it’s host city and they’re going all out with a week of organised events. One of my favourite blogger hangouts in one of my favourite cities. What’s not to be excited about??

 

 

Sweden

No year is complete without a trip to see the niece and nephew in Stockholm. It feels like ages since we were last there and Mo and I are both feeling some serious withdrawal sypmtoms, we miss Fika! Think we’ll start looking for those flights asap…

 

 

Ben Nevis part 3

Despite the name, we’re not headed to Ben Nevis for a third time, this is simply what our yearly family trip has been titled. First year Ben Nevis, second year Saltburn by the Sea and this year Mo and I are taking charge and I know my dad will be reading this so I’m afraid I can’t divulge the location just yet, but it’s basically somewhere in the UK where we can all be together as a family and enjoy a mini break.

 

So thats whats on my to do list. What’s on the wish list? Well as usual, plenty!

 

Turkey

For years and years Mo and I have talked about visiting Turkey with our dear friends. Istanbul gets a lot of bad press at the minute as they seem to be caught in some of the Middle East cross fire but it hasn’t put us off wanting to go, perhaps 2017 will finally be the year we do.

 

sunset over Istanbul

Image taken from blogs.fco.uk

 

Iceland

It looks so beautiful! I mean just look at it…

 

blue lagoon iceland

Image taken from iceland.is

 

Nice no?

 

Italy

Everyone raves about Italy but I’ve never been. I’m not really sure where in Italy I’d like to go, but it could be nice to venture that-a way and try some of my favourite dishes in their home country.

 

image of Italy, Venezia at sunset

Image taken from surprisingitaly.com

 

And I haven’t really had the chance to think about anything else, well not yet anyway 😉

 

I am just looking forward to looking forward and I am determined to make this year the best one yet. I have a number of other life goals that I am also determined to accomplish. I want to take the charity work I do for others up another notch and have some other exciting changes I’m working on too which I hope to share at some point.

So first up, Yangon! and I have two weeks to get packed, sorted and prepped for my trip. Any tips, please please send them my way…

 

What have you got planned for 2017? 

 

*** January Travel Linkup ***
Travel Wishlists and plans for the year of adventures ahead (and perhaps even a few of your favorite 2016 travels?)
Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th January), add it to the link up widget – found on either Angie’s, Emma’s or on our lovely co-host Polly’s blog

 

image header for January Travel Linkup_ new year goals post

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october-travel-linkup_top-5-hotels

 

When I first started thinking about this month’s Travel Linkup, I was stumped. I couldn’t think of any weird and wonderful place we had stayed. I realised that Mo and I go for the same style of place everywhere we go, nothing too expensive but clean. We like it to be clean. And where possible, somewhere which is architecturally or artistically cool.

So, these are the few that stand out as my most memorable:

 

Quirkiest interiors:

Hotel Le Negresco, Nice, France

Quirky is definitely the right word to use for this hotel. This Belle-Époque palatial hotel has filled its walls with paintings and sculptures.  The whole place is a like an art gallery and the central atrium is truly a sight to be seen with beautiful glass ceiling and a very large Baccarat crystal chandelier.

 

 

Not only is every floor a new experience, but there are lots of other cool things too like a plush velvet padded lift, a carousel in one of the restaurants La Rotonde and even the furniture is strange and inviting.

If you don’t fancy an overnight stay here at Le Negresco whilst you’re in Nice, I would for sure recommend at least popping in for a meal or coffee (order petits fours!). It’ll give you an excuse to explore this magical building.

 

Best for customer experience:

Ad-Lib Boutique Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand

I struggled to think of a hotel that had service that could rival the Ad-Lib. It was slap-bang in the middle of the city, but you never would have thought you were amidst the chaos of Bangkok, it was so peaceful once you stepped inside.

Booking a room here we were provided with everything we needed, including a local mobile with credit to use, daily skytrain tickets and if we were feeling super lazy they’d even give us a lift to the nearest train station.

 

 

The stand-out feature, was the staff. They were all so lovely, and we were in and out a lot during our stay there, at all times of the day. And the concierge Pong? He was fabulous! The nicest man we’ve ever met in a hotel he helped us out so much during our stay, booking us tickets, chatting to us and helping arrange transport when we needed, Mo and I couldn’t sing his praises enough.

 

Best welcome:

Sheraton Hotel, Abu Dhabi

I had contacted the Sheraton hotel prior to going as we had a number of special requirements for our booking. They had picked up my blog name from my email and lo and behold, laid out a truly wonderful welcome for Mo and I when we entered our room!

 

 

It was so sweet and we have never had anything so personal prepared for us before (not even on our honeymoon?!), so we were really touched and hey, it’s going to take some beating.

It’s also a little disappointing when we travel now and there’s not so much as a sweet to welcome us 🙁

 

Best in the UK

The Lake House, Lake District

This place was breath-taking. I remember walking into the Lake House and thinking, yup, I could live here. This private house is one of the most luxuriest manor houses I’ve ever come across. It was winter at the time we stayed and we enjoyed long nights by the fire in the lounge, dinners in the conservatory overlooking the private lake…

 

 

Oh yeah, there’s a private lake! Where you can take the boats out, go for a long walk around it or simply take a seat on the pier and gaze over the peaceful waters. There is an indoor heated pool, outdoor hot tub and even a Japanese bath hidden amongst the trees. Buzzers strategically placed around the house to ensure a helping hand was never far away.

BLISS.

 

My most favourit-est of them all:

Veligandu Resort, Maldives

Our deluxe ocean villa at the Veligandu Island resort was definitely the most amazing place we’ve ever stayed in. I don’t even think it needs much explaining.

 

 

We had an ocean villa, perched over the water with a private deck and steps into the ocean, our own private outdoor Jacuzzi, a separate dressing area, amazing rain showers, FANTASTIC food… I would go back in a heart beat

(Anyone fancy sending me back?)

 

*ps – I am fully aware favourit-est is not a real word, but you get my gist 🙂

 

*** October Travel Linkup ***

So tell us, what are the most interesting and memorable places you’ve rested?

This month the topic is ‘most interesting item you’ve discovered or seen in a hotel room/accommodation’. We can’t wait to see what is unearthed…
How to link up your post

Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th October), add it to the link up widget below on either Emma’s, Angie‘s or on our lovely co-host Aftab @ Fresh and Fearless – from the 1st of the month.

 

There are no rules – basically all we ask is that you check out some of the other cool bloggers that are involved in that months travel link up; make a few comments here and there and tweet a few of the posts out to your followers that you think they will love. It’s a great way to meet some new travel bloggers and share some blogging joy!

 

The Travel Link Up is open to all bloggers as long as the post is relevant.

 

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september travel linkup

 

Just a few days ago, I was sat in the office kitchen at lunch time and my colleagues and I were discussing all the weird and wonderful things we’ve eaten during our travels. There was talk of terrapin feet, brain, intestines, lamb testicles…. the list was pretty impressive. No sooner were we discussing the weird, did we then swiftly move onto the wonderful. And food, good food, is most definitely one of my all time favourite things to talk about!

I have always loved food (let’s be honest, who doesn’t?!). I love looking at it. Smelling it. Eating it. Watching people cooking it… anything that involves something that is to be ingested interests me. But I have to say my taste palette has become a lot more varied since being married, as Mo has introduced me to all types of new cuisines, and given me the confidence to really experiment and not be afraid of unusual flavours or funny smelling dishes.

So rather then natter on endlessly about all the amazing foodie experiences I’ve had over the years I thought I’d share my top 5:

 

1. The first time I enjoyed sushi at Sushi Samba

I didn’t get the whole ‘sushi’ thing at first. I had tried it a few times and just not enjoyed it at all. But I’m a complete sucker for interiors and when I spotted Sushi Samba in a copy of Elle Decoration, I had to book Mo and I in the next time we were in London. I’m so glad I did too, the sushi served here was so different to ones I had tried before (mainly ones from supermarkets and takeaways).

Mo, a big fan of sushi, ordered for us and I absolutely loved every thing we had, I even braved ceviche which was totally new to me. I ended up falling head over heels in love with sushi, sashimi, the whole collection of raw fish and it is now something I crave on a regular basis. I think enjoying one really good sushi meal has even made me less fussy, as I often have to settle for the off the shelf products just to please my belly when we can’t get to a restaurant.

 

 

2. Conquering my first pot of Moules in the South of France

Again, I had never really thought of mussels as an enjoyable dish. I just assumed it was something people threw into a seafood pasta once in a while to make it look diferent. But of course, as Mo and I wandered the streets of Grasse in the South of France, Moules Frites dominated the specials board and I was determined to give it a go.

A bit daunting when you have a giant pot full of them placed in front of you, but with a few helpful tips from Mo, I was soon working my way through and loving the combination of lightly spiced tender mussels with the perfectly cooked crispy French fries.

 

 

3. Indulging in an 8 course meal in Bangkok

We knew it was going to be a magical evening when we decided to book the Apsara Twilight New Years Eve cruise along the Chaophraya in Bangkok. We didn’t realise how spoilt we would get when it came to the menu. We were treated to 8 courses with halal options, it was sensational!

 

 

4. Eating tapas everyday in Barcelona

I just couldn’t get enough of it. I loved it all. I couldn’t pick one dish that was better than the other when we were in Barcelona. I find myself constantly wishing we were back just to eat the food. Bacalao, cod fritters, empanadas, patatas bravas…. even enjoyed octopus for once. Surprisingly, a lot of people I speak to aren’t that impressed by the food over there, but I think the fact that you don’t have to settle on just the one dish, is the best idea ever. In less than two weeks Mo and I are headed back to Spain so I’m looking forward to new foodie finds!

 

 

5. Snacking on the best cheesy-pancake-bread at a street market in Brussels

Now, this wonderfully light-airy-cheese-filled-slightly-greasy-but-not flatbread that we came across in the Gare Du Midi market in Brussels, was the main topic of conversation when we were discussing food at work. We were trying to find ways to get in touch with people in Brussels who may know what this wonderful creation made by this angel of a woman was called. Here it is:

 

 

By some miracle my dear friend Ash actually managed to find out that it is a type of Moroccan pancake – m’smmen (or mesemen). Now all I need is for somebody to tell me where I can source it here in Manchester!

 

What are your most memorable foodie experiences??

 

 *** September Travel Linkup ***

This month we’re getting greedy. We would LOVE to share in your most interesting or the most meaningful food experience.
How to link up your post

Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th September), add it to the link up widget – found on either Angie’s, Jessi’s, Emma’s or on our lovely co-host Tanja at Red Phone Box Travels – from the 1st of the month.

There are no rules – basically all we ask is that you check out some of the other cool bloggers that are involved in that months travel link up; make a few comments here and there and tweet a few of the posts out that you think they will love. It’s a great way to meet some new travel bloggers and share some blogging joy!

The Travel Link Up is open to all bloggers as long as the post is relevant.

Follow: