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…


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



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.
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!
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.
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.


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 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 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. 
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.


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.


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 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!


Baubles, tinsel and travel…

It’s the season for sparkle, fairy lights and tinsel; one thing I love to collect from trips abroad is Christmas decorations.  I don’t often purchase many souvenirs from trips, as I am sometimes limited on luggage space so Christmas decorations are great as they are usually small and easy to pack.  I love getting them back out year after year, each one holds a different travel memory for me and I’m looking forward to adding to my collection on future travels…


Sequin bauble
This decoration came from a recent trip to Brighton, a reminder of a weekend I spent there on a hen party.  I loved the star sequins in the transparent bauble, very Christmassy…


Santa shell
This little beauty came from Barbados, near to Christmas time there is a stall in the airport full of decorations inspired by the Caribbean.  Every time I pass through the airport I want to buy more and more.  I love that this shell decoration came from a hot climate where Christmas has a totally different feel to a cold Christmas in the UK.


Santa and gingerbread man
Both of these tree decorations came from Macy’s in Orlando.  I love visiting America at Christmas time as the decorations are so grand and you can really get into the Christmas spirit.  Macy’s always have a fantastic Christmas department and I couldn’t resist buying these for my own Christmas collection.


Christmas candle and tea light holders
This candle and holders were also bought in America.  I try to buy a new candle each year and put it away for the following Christmas, I sometimes forget that I’ve bought one so it is a nice surprise when I open my decoration box in December.  This candle is called ‘Twisted Peppermint’ it’s from Bath and Body Works and smells amazing!  The peppermint lingers in the air for a long time and adds a touch of Christmas sparkle to cosy evenings in.


Father Christmas Russian doll set
I came across these gorgeous Santa figures in a shop in Warsaw, Poland.  It was full of Russian dolls from floor to ceiling!  I had so much fun exploring the old quarter, drinking coffee outside in a square watching the world go by and strolling around the cobbled streets.


Snow Globe
I got this snow globe in Breckenridge, Colorado.  It is such a lovely place, snow, ski slopes and cosy coffee shops.  I would love to spend Christmas in Breckenridge one day, but until then I will have to make do with remembering it by give the snow globe a good shake!


Do you have any Christmas decorations from around the globe or any other interesting travel souvenirs?  Let me know in the comments below…
Merry Christmas!

Cheers 2014….you’ve been a good’un!

It feels like this year has gone by very quickly so I thought I would take a look back and jot down all my trips and travel highlights from 2014.  As well as travelling further afield this year it’s been wonderful to have done some trips within the UK.  It might sound strange but exploring closer to home without jumping on a plane has felt like such a novelty, especially as I am on an aircraft most days when I am working.  Many of these trips have also been with friends, I have loved sharing adventures with those closet to me.
If you would like to read more on each trip click on the links within the text to see the full blog posts….


Port Isaac, Cornwall:
The year started off with a long weekend away in Cornwall with friends.  We stayed in the tiny seaside village of Port Isaac and hired a cottage right on the harbour front.  I loved waking up to the smell of salty sea air and watching the waves roll in with a cup of tea in hand.  The weekend consisted of blustery cliff top walks, cosy cups of tea by the fire in our cottage, cream teas, Cornish pasties and plenty of cider….bliss!


The Big Green Bus, Sussex:
2014 is the year I turned thirty, to celebrate I stayed on a bus in the Sussex countryside.  On the face of it I know that might sound slightly odd but this was no ordinary bus.  The Big Green Bus featured on Channel 4 television series George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces and is fully converted with two double bedrooms, bunk beds, lounge, galley kitchen and bathroom with hot water. Adam the owner has turned this old double-decker workhorse into the most amazing glamping retreat and has kept lots of the original features of the bus such as the drivers cab.  At the same time he has turned it into a cosy and unique space to relax in.  The log burner added marvellously to this!


Beach Hut 1, Shaldon:
Matt also turned thirty in April and as a surprise I booked a stay in a beach hut.  Just like our stay on the bus this was no ordinary beach hut and also featured on George Clarke’s Amazing Spaces.  The compact, bijou hut found on the shoreline in the quaint seaside village of Shaldon in Devon is one of a kind.  It screamed luxury from all its tiny corners.  Under floor heating, bi-folding doors opening up on to a private terrace with beach access and the cosy bedroom up in the roof completed this quirky little abode.  Glamping in style!


Work Trips:
I am so lucky that I get to incorporate my passion for travel in to my day job working as cabin crew for a British airline.  This year on work trips I have bought souvenirs in the markets of Mauritius and cycled along the Bermuda railway trail.  I’ve shopped in Orlando, been on a road trip and visited a shooting range.  I have paddle boarded, surfed and watched the sunset in Barbados, canoed in Antigua and sunbathed in St Lucia.  I’ve shopped in the south of France for sparkling cider, fresh bread and smelly cheese and explored the tiny streets of the old town in Nice.  I have blogged from a hotel roof top with a freshly squeezed orange juice and incredible views of the Mediterranean below.  Closer to home I have eaten ice cream on the beach in Jersey and cycled along the shoreline from St Helier to St Aubin, eaten a Scottish breakfast in Glasgow with my brother and walked along the Royal Mile up to the castle in Edinburgh….


Camping trips in the UK:
A trip in our campervan to Polzeath in Cornwall in July meant surfing, sunset barbeques and cider drinking at a beach pub.  (I think I have a theme running here!)  Closer to home Matt and I discovered that we could camp on the beach front on Hayling Island, a seaside town 10 minutes drive from us.  We have not had the opportunity to go away in our campervan as much as we would have liked this year due to work commitments so we grabbed this idea with open arms.  One sunny Friday we spent the day on the beach swimming, followed by a barbeque and camping under the stars listening to the waves roll in.  It was such a novelty to be able to do this so close to home!


Centre Parcs, Longleat:
Following on with the thirty theme my best friend organised a trip for her big day to Centre Parcs in Longleat Forest.  It was a fantastic weekend and a very active one, we cycled, played tennis, jogged around the lake, walked in the woods, ate pancakes and went mad in the rapids.  I love trips away with friends.


Australia, New Zealand and Bangkok:
Matt and I flew to Australia at the end of August to see two of our dearest friends get married, in between fighting jet lag we paddle boarded in Noosa and ate breakfast on the beach, took photos of incredible views in the Glass House Mountains and admired waterfalls.  We drank prosecco in Sydney harbour with magnificent views of the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House too. While in Sydney I met up with Jayne Gorman, a fantastic travel blogger who recently moved down under.  Jayne has a wonderful way with words and really inspires me.  I love reading her posts on Girl Tweets World, check it out, you won’t be disappointed!
From Australia we flew to New Zealand where we hired a campervan and crammed all sorts of adventures into a ten-day road trip.  This included snowboarding, camping by crystal clear lakes and a helicopter tour over the west coast glaciers.  We drove for miles without coming across another person, ate porridge to warm up in the mornings, and became mesmerised by Milford Sound.  Another highlight was seeing glow worms shining brightly deep underground in a cave by Lake Te Anau.  We were perched in a small boat in the pitch black on an underground lake, amazing!  New Zealand has the most incredible scenery I have ever come across from lakes, to mountains, glaciers to rainforest, ocean and miles of open road, it was a stunning!  For more New Zealand adventures click on the link here: 10 day road trip itinerary South Island New Zealand.
Leaving New Zealand behind we celebrated our fourth wedding anniversary in the air en route to Bangkok.  This was our third visit to this buzzing city, I just love it!  We climbed up a temple, drank beer while watching the world go by on Koh San Road, sipped coconut water through straws, bought souvenirs on Rambuttri Street and most randomly of all did a wheelie in a tuk tuk, something I have never experienced before!  But, that’s a whole other story in itself!


I have been lucky enough to work with some great brands and companies through my freelance work this year, I am hoping to expand even more in 2015.  My new years resolution is to also write more of my own personal blogs, this is something I love doing but with a full-time job I often struggle to keep up with it.  On that note one of my favourite posts this year was my interview with author Lucy Clarke.  Her two books The Sea Sisters and A Single Breath have gripping storylines and include themes of travel and the ocean.  I can’t recommend them enough, they are the perfect holiday companions.  I’m really looking forward to her third book in 2015.
My travel plans so far for 2015 include a cosy winter break in Fowey in Cornwall, a road trip on the west coast of America, and hopefully a trip to Iceland.  Matt and I are also in the process of moving house so I’m sure that will keep us busy for the first few months of the year.  Who knows what the rest of the 2015 will bring, but I am looking forward to it.
What have been your favourite travel moments of 2014 and what are your travel plans for 2015?  I would love to hear them…
Happy New Year and I hope 2015 brings you lots of exciting travel opportunities….

An alternative day out in Orlando…

I had a trip with work to Orlando last week, with two nights there and a lovely crew we planned an alternative day out to the usual shopping and theme parks that Orlando is associated with.  Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than shopping in America and Universal is one of my favourite theme parks but once you’ve done them it’s so nice to see what else this part of the world has to offer.  So, we hired a car through Alamo and picked it up from the airport.  Collecting our paperwork we were shown in the direction of the parking lot and told to pick a car from the style we had chosen, the keys were already in the ignition of the cars so we made our choice and jumped in!
It might not be everybody’s cup of tea but we headed to Orlando Gun Club to have a go on a shooting range.  This is something I had not done before and it was actually a lot of fun.  We were a bit apprehensive at first but we were looked after and had some tuition to start us off.  We chose our guns; bullets and targets were shown the ropes and then left to have a go ourselves.  It cost around $30 each including tuition.
Our next stop was Kissimmee, I had heard a lot about the area but never visited it.  I have to say Kissimmee is a lot smaller and sleepier than I expected it to be; it was so nice to see a different area of Florida.  We stopped off at the historic downtown area walked a short distance to the lakefront park and had a drink at the 3 Sisters Speakeasy bar.
We finished the day off with dinner at the Cheesecake Factory it is my favourite place to eat in America, and you guessed it they serve a lot of delicious cheesecake!  I had a seared tuna salad with a glass of wine, a tasty and tactical move so that I could fit in dessert!
Next time I visit I would love to go surfing at Cocoa Beach and take an air boat ride through the Everglades, I still have so much of Florida to explore!
If you have any other recommendations on things I should do in Florida I would love to hear them…


Viva Las Vegas!

I visited Las Vegas for the first time last week, what a crazy and exciting place it is!!  Watching the fountains in front of the Bellagio I felt like I was in a scene from a movie!  Exploring all the incredible hotels was a fun experience, where else can you visit Paris, Rome, Venice and New York all in one day?!  I also had heart stopping fun on the rides at the top of the Stratosphere.  These rides are definitely not for those of a nervous disposition!  I love theme park rides but these were amongst the scariest I’ve been on, I guess it has something to do with being dangled over the edge of a building 983ft above the ground!  With incredible views of The Strip and the surrounding area it is worth going up to the observation deck even if you don’t go on the rides.  I recommend jumping on a Deuce bus for sightseeing along The Strip, you can buy a ticket for $8 for 24 hours, bargain!  I also got to see Rod Stewart in concert at Caesars Palace, I grew up listening to his music as my Dad is a big fan, so it was fantastic to see him live and at such an amazing venue too.  I was only in Vegas for 72 hours but got to see and do so much while I was there, the only thing I didn’t get to do was a trip to the Grand Canyon.  This will be the plan for my next visit…

New York – Upper vs Lower Manhattan

I love nothing more than visiting New York in the winter.  It’s a great city to visit in any season but there is something about it in the winter that is just so magical.  I love the Rockefeller Christmas tree, along with all the glitzy decorations and twinkley window displays that adorn Fifth Avenue.
On my most recent trip I arrived on New Years day, what a great way to start 2013!  Having visited a few times before I wanted to spend sometime exploring other parts of the city that I hadn’t visited yet.  So here are my recommendations on different areas to explore in this wonderful metropolis:
Upper West Side:  I stayed at a great boutique hotel called Hotel Belleclaire, only ten minutes walk from Central Park it’s a really nice area.  There are some great grocery stores; I am a total foodie so exploring local produce stores is right up my street.  West Side Market, just around the corner from the hotel and Fairway a short stroll away, were my favourites.  Both had great deli counters, a huge selection of cheeses and a brilliant variety of fresh fruits lined up outside.  Of course this isn’t necessarily what you will have come to New York for but as I’ve mentioned in past blogs I love immersing myself in local cultures and discovering what people eat in other parts of the world.
There are plenty of options for breakfast or brunch in this part of town, my favourite being Viand Café.  With a classical American diner feel this was my favourite spot for a big hearty American breakfast.  A great menu with all your typical American style breakfasts such as buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup, waffles, eggs any style or for a healthier option, granola.  All reasonably priced I can’t think of any other way to start the day in this wonderful city.
A cool place for a drink or meal is the Amsterdam Ale House, it had a really nice atmosphere and pub feel and being British I felt right at home!  The food was superb and reasonably priced with interesting mains such as tuna and bison burgers on the menu, I would describe it as posh pub food and a definite winter warmer.
From our hotel it was easy to walk to Central Park and down to Fifth Avenue.  On the edge of the park on the West Side sits the American Museum of Natural History, its well worth a visit.  Once in Central Park stroll past the lake and the popular Loeb Boathouse restaurant, a nice café to stop off for a coffee and a warm up.
Lower West Side: Greenwich Village, found on the Lower West Side of Manhattan has got to be my new favourite area of New York City. With its trendy village feel, I don’t know why I didn’t visit sooner!  Greenwich is about a ten minute cab journey from Times Square. Being a small suburb it has a slightly quieter feel than the hustle and bustle of central Manhattan.  With lots of boutique shops it kept me occupied for quite sometime, even if it was just window shopping…
Bleecker Street is a perfect place to start exploring, first things first you must head to Magnolia Bakery, their cupcakes have to be the best I have ever tasted!  This popular bakery can get very busy, but don’t be put off by the queue the cupcakes are definitely worth it.
Blind Tiger Ale House (You will notice there is a theme with me here!) is a short walk from the bakery.  With a list of twenty-eight draught beers and a cosy open fire it is the perfect retreat from the cold.  The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable and will happily let you try the beer before you buy.  The rustic dark wood interior and old school cash register give this place a very homely feel.
The beers we tried on our two afternoon visits were: (These may have changed since my visit)
No 28 – Lagunitas Pilsner from California
No 23 – Original Sin Cider from New York (My favourite, I love Cider!)
No 20 – Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA from California
If you fancy a bite to go with your beverages the bar snacks were marvellous and perfect for sharing.  Coconut curry squash ($7) and Cajun Mac & Cheese ($7) were our favourites.
This is clearly a popular drinking establishment with locals and tourists alike. One afternoon I overheard a great conversation between an English couple and a local New Yorker discussing Scotland. The local pronounced Edinburgh in a very funny way, as you can imagine this caused a lot of laughter at the bar!
Murray’s Cheese Bar is also worth a visit, this is a restaurant with a twist, cheese being you guessed it at the centre of the menu, Brilliant!
Brooklyn Bridge: Brooklyn Bridge is on the Lower East Side and connects Manhattan to Brooklyn.  Built in 1883 it stretches for just over a mile across the East River.  It is a lovely scenic walk with views of Central Manhattan; you can see the Empire State and Chrysler Building to name just a few.  Look the opposite side and you can see the Statue of Liberty.  If you like taking photos you can get some cracking shots from here, and the bridge is magnificent.  Wrap up warm though as it is very chilly in the winter.  I was fascinated to see all the ‘love locks’ attached to various parts of the bridge and took a bit of time to look at the initials and messages engraved on them.
The Highline: Located on the west side in Chelsea, just above Greenwich Village sits the Highline, an old railway line that is now a public walkway. Raised above the busy streets, the Highline weaves in between buildings and has wonderful views of the Empire State Building and the River Hudson. Along the walkway there are some interesting art installations, food vendors and benches to sit and watch the world go by. Stop off at Chelsea market for quirky shops and cool restaurants. The milkshakes at Creamline are the best! For more head to my blog post all about it: Walking the Highline in New York…
I have to say there is no competition between the Upper and Lower Sides of Manhattan. Both have so much to offer, if I was going to choose I think my favourite is the Lower West Side.  With its small village feel and boutique shops I would definitely like to stay in this area on my next visit to ‘The Big Apple.’