My 2015 Travel Highlights…

Wow, 2015 has really flown by!  I’m pretty sure I said this about 2014 as well in last years round-up: Cheers 2014…you’ve been a good’un!  So much has happened this year, I thought it would be fun to look back and to share with you some exciting new developments for the coming year…

 

January
I started the year off with a surf trip in Barbados, the sun was shining and the surf was pumping.  I surfed at Freights and hired a board through Zed’s Surfing Adventures.  Check them out of you are planning a surf trip out there.  This trip was the first time I used my GoPro on a board and I was pretty stoked to have some half decent images and video content.  With the help of my lovely filmmaker husband Mattwe put together a short video of my surf session.
For more reading on my trip head to: Barbados: A Surfers Paradise

 

 

February
A winter break away with a our very good friends Sam and Graham has become a bit of a tradition, last February we spent a long weekend in the quaint fishing village of Port Isaac.  This year I found a cottage through Helpful Holidays in the tiny village of Golant set on the River Fowey in Cornwall.  ‘Island House’ had river views on three sides, underfloor heating and a log burner making it a very cosy cottage.  We were greeted with a bottle of wine and a cake on arrival and spent the weekend on blustery coastal walks and visits to local harbour towns.  This mostly involved eating scrummy treats and drinking lots of cider!  Our favourite place for lunch was Sam’s in Fowey.  Fowey is such a sweet little place, set on the river and full of lovely pubs, quirky shops and art galleries, definitely worth a visit if you are planning a trip to the west country.
 
March
My March highlight was a trip to Antigua, it was very nice to have a clear day down route to be my own boss.  Working as cabin crew I am lucky to get to explore different countries on an almost weekly basis.   With a house move on the cards and feeling a bit tired I spent the day relaxing on the beach, catching some rays and swimming in the warm Caribbean sea.  It was bliss!
 
April
It was Matt’s birthday in April so we decided to do something a bit special and booked a night away at Hotel Du Vin in Poole.  Our room was very plush, with a freestanding bath right in the middle and a massive queen sized bed.  It was a fab weekend and nice to spend some time away together.  We enjoyed exploring Poole harbour by boat and had a very tasty meal at the restaurant in the hotel.  For more on this luxurious weekend click here: A weekend in Poole.
 
May
I was invited to quite a few weddings last year, my favourite was a wedding in Westminster, London followed by a beautiful reception at the Dorchester.  It is one of the world’s most expensive hotels, I was very excited to be there!  The champagne reception was just perfect and the food was incredible, I particularly loved dessert, hence the name of my blog: Dessert at the Dorchester.
May also saw the start of one of many trips with work to Mauritius.  With a fabulous crew who all wanted to do something exciting, we chose to go swimming with dolphins which I wrote about earlier on in the year: Swimming with dolphins in Mauritius.  The crew had already excitedly discussed the plans on the flight over so I knew it was going to be a good trip.  Waking up early we set off for the southern end of the island to Black River.  Jumping in a boat and cruising out to the open water just as the sun was rising we slowed down and sat in silence watching and waiting for the dolphins to appear.  All of sudden the flat water changed as a pod of dolphins broke to the surface cruising right past the boat.  With that we were instructed to jump in and swim…such an awesome experience and what made it even better was knowing that these dolphins had appeared of their own accord, wild dolphins who could stay or go as they pleased.

 

June
Back to Mauritius and this time I went on an adventure to Black River Gorges National Park, I explored rainforests and waterfalls, marvelled at the Seven Coloured Earths, took photos of some epic views and got blessed by a Hindu priest at the sacred lake Grand Bassin.  Topped off with a curry in the evening and a spa treatment the following day, it was a fantastic adventure!
In contrast to Mauritius I had an afternoon to explore Edinburgh in June too, it was a sunny afternoon with a fresh chill in the air.  I took a stroll along the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle taking in all the gorgeous architecture and having a nosey in all the touristy type shops.  On my way back down I stopped in a cosy coffee shop for cake and tea.  I didn’t do all that much but sometimes it’s the simple things that you can take pleasure from and it was a lovely, leisurely afternoon.

 

July
July saw Matt and I off to France, two hours drive from Toulouse we stayed in a Gite in a little village called Loudet.  The week was spent exploring the surroundings and a drive over the border to Spain for Tapas.  We took a gondola in Louchon to a mountain resort, it was strange being up so high without snow!  Exploring gorgeous towns set along alpine rivers, fields of sunflowers and indulging in red wine and cheese, it was just perfect!

 

August
August is my birthday month and I always like to have something exciting planned!  This year we combined a trip to see family in California with an awesome road trip.  We hired a campervan from Wicked campers and went on an eight day adventure.  Starting off in Sequoia National Park we camped under the stars and saw black bears followed by a few nights on the coast near San Francisco and then continued to drive down south along the Big Sur.  It was an unforgettable birthday trip. 
 
September
After coming back from California we had withdrawal symptoms from camping and living outdoors, so we went off for a few days in our own van to Dorset.  With plenty of coastal walks and chilling by the campfire it made us reminisce about our recent American adventure.  It was really nice to have a few days away not so far from home…read more here: A weekend in the Purbecks.

 

October
I started studying for the NCTJ Diploma in Journalism a few years ago as a self – study course but struggled to complete it due to working full-time and undertaking freelance writing work at the same time.  In October I made the decision to pick it up again and so far am really enjoying it.  I really have to be strict with myself as it is a self-study course but hopefully this time next year I will be a qualified journalist!  I am studying with the College of Media and Publishing who are so helpful and really quick over email if I have any questions.

 

November
A hen weekend in Brighton was my November highlight, on the Saturday a ‘Beyonce’ style dance class, afternoon tea and a good old night out were the main events of the weekend.  Staying in a house in central Brighton meant we also got to do some exploring in this quirky seaside town.  We had lunch on the North Laine on the Sunday and believe it or not it was warm enough to sit outside, great for people watching!  The lanes have some very cool, unique shops so went spent some time browsing and window shopping before heading to the seafront just as the sun was setting for a ride on the Brighton Wheel.  We had beautiful panoramic views of the coastline, city and pier; it was a lovely way to end the weekend.

 

December
December saw the launch of my new website which you will be reading this on right now!  I’ve wanted a re-brand for a while and I’m so pleased with how it has turned out.  Andrew at Fix8 designed my logo, he’s done a cracking job at capturing just what my blog is all about. 

 

 

It has been an action packed year of travel but most importantly, I’m so excited to share with you all that Matt and I found out in August that we have a baby Dunkinson cooking!  We had our 20 week scan on 14th December and it looks all good and healthy.  We chose not to find out the sex and are so excited for our new arrival in April!  On that note we have a babymoon planned for January to Iceland!  I wanted to do that this year but haven’t quite managed to fit it in, so January 2016 seemed the perfect time to go away as our last trip abroad as a two…I’m looking forward to letting you know all about our adventures in Iceland and our adventures with a baby in tow!
What has been you favourite trip of 2015?  What are your travel plans for 2016?  Let me know in the comments below and I’d love to hear any tips and things to do in and around Reykjavík and Iceland…Happy New Year and see you all in 2016!

 

Barbados: A surfers paradise…

Sitting on my board staring out to sea, eyes fixed on the horizon in anticipation as I watch and wait for the waves to build and the sets to role in…a turtle pops its head up beside me and swiftly disappears again.  I look up to the sky for a moment and bask in the warm sun shining down on me. Glancing back out to the ocean I spot the swell building and roll onto my front ready for the waves.  Slowly I start to paddle.  I look over my shoulder keeping an eye on the wave and paddle faster though the water.  As I feel the force of the wave underneath me I jump to my feet, heart pumping and adrenaline going, I turn to the left as I surf along the line of the wave and feel the rush of water glide underneath my board…sheer and utter bliss, there is no feeling like this…
Surfing in Barbados is one of my travel highlights, I spent 48 hours in the Caribbean in early January; it was definitely a good start to the year!  I surfed at Freights on the south of the island, it is the perfect beach break for all levels of surfer and is renowned for its long left hand waves.  One thing I love about surfing in Barbados is the warm water, surfing in a bikini is a novelty compared to surfing at home in the UK which mostly involves a winter wetsuit, boots and gloves.  I took my GoPro with me for the first time on this trip and attached it to the front of my board.  I was really surprised with the footage and images that I got from it, along with some funny wipeouts! I put together a short edit of my trip, to watch it click on the link at the end of this blog.
There are plenty of surf spots to choose from on the island, Surfers Point by Zed’s Surf School and Pebbles Beach near Bridgetown are good for beginners.  Brandons, South Point, Duppies and Soup Bowl are excellent for more experienced surfers.  Soup Bowl is a world famous reef break with the likes of Kelly Slater enjoying its perfect, clean barrels.
After surfing I always need to refuel and you can’t go wrong with simple, honest Caribbean food. My usual post surf snack is a fish cutter (fish burger or sandwich to you and me) from Cuz, a small shack at Pebbles Beach.  I love this place!  It is so popular with locals and tourists there is often a large queue.  Ranked number two out of seventy three restaurants reviewed on Tripadvisor in Bridgetown, believe me it is definitely worth the wait.  Your fish cutter is cooked to order with salad in a tasty bun, it goes perfectly with a dollop of Bajun hot sauce.  Be careful if you are not used to it though as it is pretty fiery!  I love the stuff.  The other option is fried egg or cheese, but really it’s all about the fish.  I normally wash this down with a coke or a local Banks beer on the beach.  I have already mentioned how small Cuz is, but it is so good that it is mentioned in the Lonely Planet guide to Barbados.  Online the Lonely Planet guide says Cuz is open Monday – Saturday from 10am – 4pm although in true Caribbean style I have rocked up a few times to find it shut, often once they have run out of fish it’s time to shut up shop.  So my advice would be to visit earlier in the day to avoid disappointment.  My other favourite Bajan snack is a Roti; Chefette a local fast food joint does a very tasty chicken and potato one, yum!
If you want to learn to surf or are already an experienced surfer, Barbados is the perfect place for a surfing holiday and ideal for all levels of experience.  I learnt to surf at Zed’s surf school about 6 years ago and have been surfing with them ever since. I have made so many friends along the way, Zed, his family and everyone who works at the surf school along with lots of other people who have been surfing at the same time as myself from all over the world.  I am still in contact with some of them too. It is definitely something you can do by yourself; everyone is so welcoming it is easy to make new friends…
Sunshine, surf and sweet company, I can’t wait to return.
I found this great write-up from the New York Times it is jam packed full of information on surfing in Barbados and includes a mention of the lovely Zed.
I love this beautiful piece too: Super Salty Barbados.
If you want to know more about Cuz, My Destination tucks in here: Cuz’s Fish Snackette.
Do you have a favourite surf spot? I’d love to hear all about it…

Barbados surf video…

Starting the year off nicely I went to Barbados for two nights last week…this is of course one of the perks of my job as cabin crew and something I am very thankful for!  I spent my day on this beautiful island surfing. I learnt to surf in Barbados with Zed’s Surfing Adventures. I have made a lot of friends there, Zed, his family and colleagues are all so lovely and the instructors really know their stuff.  Here’s the write up of my trip: Barbados: A Surfers Paradise.  In the meantime I hope you enjoy this little edit…
To view in HD click here.