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Travel tales from Europe

Derwent reservoir
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Teesdale, North Yorkshire

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Happy New Year!

I realise I am extremely late in writing this post, but I guess my New Year’s resolution to be more organised and blog more hasn’t gone completely to plan, but it’s never too late to start right?

Christmas was lovely, a much needed break. The first half of it was spent in a beautiful rented cottage in Totley, Sheffield where I grew up, with my family.

On the 29th, after all the hectic rush of Christmas, my boyfriend and I picked up my little dog Dee and headed up to Teesdale, North Yorkshire.

We booked through Sykes Cottages and stayed for 5 nights in Hawthorn Cottage which was located in the little village of Caldwell, between Richmond and Barnard Castle. It cost us £330 which for New Year we thought was very reasonable. Normally for off peak season the prices are less – from £241 for a week. 

The cottage itself was 3 star, we have stayed in more luxurious ones but actually this was perfect for what we needed it for. It was clean, there were lots of kitchen utensils, a cosy fire, a nice clean bathroom and comfy bed! It only had one  double bedroom so this is great for couples. Plus there is a caravan site too, so if you have your own caravan you can park up there and I’m sure the rates will be very reasonable. 

Hawthorn cottage

Hawthorn cottage, credit: Sykes Cottages 

sykes cottages

Hawthorn cottage, credit: Sykes Cottages 

 Although there were a few pubs within walking distance, as we had the dog with us we were slightly limited in our options. In the end we cooked in every night after regular trips to the Morrisons and Co-op in Barnard Castle. This was also nice as it meant we could drink lots of wine without worrying about tiring the (almost) 15-year old pooch out or one of us having to drive.

One day we went out to High Force and Low Force waterfalls. I would recommend parking near one of these and doing the round walk (about two hours), it’s a nice walk and the waterfall at High Force is particularly impressive. The walk is very kid and dog friendly too.

Teesdale

High Force, Teesdale

Teesdale

Bridge over Low Force waterfall, Teesdale

Another day was spent walking around Hamsterley Forest, this is great if it’s raining (like it normally does in England!) as the trees provide good shelter. It’s especially a must if you are a keen off-road cyclist as there are lots of cycling tracks. This was only about a 30 – 40 minute drive away and well worth it as we passed through some lovely countryside to get there. 

rope swings

Howard using the rope swing across the river

Dee

Dee’s favourite spot of the holiday

Another day was spent mooching around Barnard Castle and although we didn’t visit the castle itself I think it would be worth exploring, if you have the time! 

Finally on our last day we drove a bit further out to Derwent reservoir which is actually on the outskirts of Northumberland. This took just under an hour to get too and was approximately 7-8 miles to walk around. On first impression, the reservoir doesn’t look much, but as you start to walk around it there is some lovely countryside and stunning views.

If you’re looking for somewhere to go to relax and go walking, whether it is for 3, 5 or a full week – Teesdale is a great place to base yourself! 

Derwent reservoir

Derwent reservoir, credit: Ken Hircock, Flickr

Derwent reservoir

Derwent reservoir, credit: BirdTrail.blogspot.com

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5 Days in Kos

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My boyfriend and I are always guilty of booking a holiday and then cramming so much in that we both come back more exhausted then we were before we went.

I say my boyfriend and I…It’s probably myself and my too organised planning that’s to blame!

Apart from when we visited my parents in Portugal two summers ago, we hadn’t really ever had a ‘beach holiday’ and with 4 days of holiday left to use, we decided we would go somewhere to just chill.

Choosing where took longer than anticipated, due to us wanting to fly on a Tuesday and return home on a Sunday, but with the help of Sky Scanner, we found an Easy Jet flight to Kos from Gatwick and a return flight with Ryan Air which landed in Liverpool.

We ummed and ahhed over which hotel to pick. I had heard that whatever star rating a hotel in Greece has, it’s usually at least one less than that compared to hotels in England.

I found a gorgeous 5* hotel that would have cost over £650 for 5 nights (no food or drink included) with a stunning infinity pool. However the reviews were a bit hit and miss and it wasn’t very close to anything else.

After a lot of deliberating we actually went for the 3* Diamond Hotel Apartments for just £170 which turned out to be really great value, and we were so pleased we picked it!

The furniture around the pool could have done with a re-paint as it looked quite tired but apart from that it was peaceful, the beer was pretty cheap and our room was clean and most importantly mosquito free!

We went from the 9th September and checked out on the 14th, there was usually only five other families / couples around the pool which meant it was a perfect place to relax. Plus it was very, very hot!

Diamond Apartments in Kos

Diamond Apartments

On our third night we went for a special meal as it was our third year anniversary. We had spotted Barbouni during a walk along the beach on our first night and it was a great choice. With mainly seafood and Italian food on offer, the portions were generous but presented beautifully. The staff were excellent, very friendly and attentive. We enjoyed it so much (£60 for 3 courses each wasn’t exactly expensive either) we decided to go back on our final night.

Barbouni Kos

Pudding at Barbouni

We also ate at a local restaurant called Pantheon which was very cheap but very tasty. We went there on our first night and went back there on our fourth as we had enjoyed it so much. Our only mistake was eating at a very busy, touristy restaurant bang in the centre of Kos town on our second night. Unfortunately I can’t remember the name of it but it took forever to get served and when we did the quality was very disappointing. 

As it is in most places, it’s definitely worth heading off the beaten track a bit, or paying a bit more for seafood on the beach. 

After three and a half days lounging by the pool, reading books and listening to music we decided we were allowed one day of adventure! Howard has a motorbike licence but we decided a scooter was more than big enough to take us on a tour around the tiny island.

Scooter in Kos

Motorbike in kos

Hiring one for just 20 euros was very straight forward, we travelled for about 30 – 40 minutes before stumbling across a very deserted looking beach. Paying 5 euros we were given two sunbeds, free wifi and later an amazing view of the sunset.

sea in Kos

Sunset in Kos

Although the plane journey was twice as long (4 hours) than if we had visited Spain or France, even just for five days we both felt it was still worth making the trip. Although it was September the weather was still perfect, with no clouds in sight the entire time we were there.

For those wanting to relax, rewind and eat some yummy food (lots of tzatziki and gyros was consumed) Kos in Greece is an ideal choice. 

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Mallorca with the girls

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Since going to Mallorca at the beginning of August with my best friends from university I have failed to do two things:

1) blog

2) go to the gym

After splashing out on personal trainer sessions and hitting the gym regularly this summer, it seemed the second I went on holiday all  motivation went flying out the window.

The good news is, after almost three months off and three fabulous holidays, I am BACK ON IT.

So to recap, this summer I spent a week in a gorgeous villa with my favourite people from the University of Leeds; Colette, Amy, Lisa and Sophie (we were just sadly missing Sarah Emmerson who will definitely be attending next time!).

If anyone read my previous blog, which was mainly full of our trials and tribulations of mischief, disasters and general FMLs at Uni, you may recognise their names.

Nothing has really changed since then apart from we’re now all in full time employment, ranging from mental health nursing to TV production, oh and Lisa and Colette are both ENGAGED and will be married next year (SO EXCITED)! But more on that in another blog post…

Sophie and Lisa live in London so were flying out together, whilst us northerners were flying out of Liverpool, as that’s where Amy and Col are based (now without me sob sob).

Due to the bad weather, a (now) moderate anxiety of flying and just my standard paranoia of missing the plane, I was there 30 minutes early before our designated meeting time. Seating myself behind a pillar, out of sight, I browsed the internet whilst I waited for my favourite pair of loons to turn up.

Suddenly a very loud ‘BETHENY NUNNINGTON, BETHENY NUNNINGTON, WHERE ARE YOUUUUUUUU?’ filled my ears, ‘oh god they’ve arrived and are trying to embarrass me already’ I thought grabbing my new, Ryan Air specially sized suitcase I had bought for a bargain from Amazon.

I ran out to the middle of the airport hoping to find them quickly so they would stop shouting my name at the top of their voices. Luckily they were easy to spot and after big hugs and exclaims of ‘OMG you’re so skinny’, ‘no, YOU’RE so skinny’ we made our way towards security.

En route we passed the Ryan Air baggage baskets which allow you to test whether or not your bag fits in. My brand new one slid in perfectly, yet neither Amy’s or Colette’s did much to my amusement.

“It’ll be ok, they might not check…” I said, not feeling very confident.

Keeping it cheap, the three of us had decided to take hand baggage only and I was feeling very organised with my mini bottles I had bought for a £1 from Primark, and special (sealed) clear plastic bag.

Picking up a tray to put our stuff in Colette started to pull out not one, not two, but three clear plastic bags full of liquids.

“Er pretty sure you’re only allowed one of those Col” I said frowning at her as several bottles spilled out of the bursting bags.

“Don’t be daft, Joel and I have just been to Italy and I took loads on.”

I then turned to see Amy also pulling more than one plastic bag of liquids out of her bag. “Colette said I could take more than one on” she said looking at my concerned face.

“Ok” I said, thinking, this is going to be interesting…

Sure enough the security guy turned to us and said ‘sorry it’s only one bag per person, you’ll have to throw the rest away…”

OH FECK.

By this point I was beside myself with giggles, finding the whole thing hilarious. I managed to squeeze Colette’s foundation into my bag and the girls just had to be ruthless with the rest of their belongings.

Colette refused to part with her Pearl Drops though.

Amy: “Since when did you buy Pearl Drops, you’re SUCH A COPY CAT.”

Col: “SHUT UP I’ve always liked using it, I’m not parting with this – DO YOU KNOW HOW MUCH IT COSTS?”

I just laughed, and laughed and laughed. Especially when Col ran back to put on an extra bit of deodrant she had left on the side, ‘got to get my money’s worth’ she told the poor security guy who was looking at her incredulously. 

After accidentally attempting to board an Easy Jet plane to Mallorca “Er Colette this is looking very orange, pretty sure our Ryan Air flight is not leaving from here…” sitting at a bar that was in actual fact closed, we made it to the plane.

Once we made it to Mallorca it became apparent that despite saying she would, Amy wasn’t actually sure she had booked a taxi for us. In fact she was pretty sure she hadn’t.

“Amy, you had ONE job…”

£96 in a taxi later and we were here! At our beautiful villa that was a bargain at £189 each for the week: http://www.7mallorca.com/en/gallery/ferienhaus-cala-millor-privat/

Sophie and Lisa had already arrived and had gone out for a drink, so we had to wait for them outside the gate.

‘It’s ok, I’ll just climb over and let you in’ and before I could stop her, my favourite scouser had clambered over the fence and we were in (much to Soph and Lisa’s surprise when they turned up 5 minutes later).

What followed was seven lovely days of gossip, laughter, wine, cheese (a LOT of cheese) and several card games. Having not lived with each other for three years, it was a great place to finally spend quality time together and catch up properly.

Mallorca

restaurant

girls holiday

girls on tour

If you’re looking for somewhere to go to chill in the sun, be near to the beach and drink lots of cheap wine then Cala Millor in Mallorca is perfect! This villa slept six although the third room didn’t have a proper door (or curtains) so be prepared.  The third room came with two twin beds, with the master en-suite and second room having big double beds. It was perfect for us, Colette kindly volunteered for what we nicknamed ‘the pit’ but it wasn’t that bad, and we did give her 10 euros each for her sacrifice… 

It is worth mentioning though that this definitely wasn’t Magaluf, so if you want somewhere where you can go and ‘smash life’ as Col would say, it’s probably not here.