Biking The Bermuda Railway Trail…

On Tuesday I was in Bermuda with the whole day free before flying home, wanting to do something different from my usual visit to the beach I decided to hire a bike and go exploring.  I chatted to the hotel concierge who suggested the Bermuda Railway Trail.  Stretching across the whole of the island it is a wonderful way to explore this stunning archipelago.  I only covered three of the eighteen miles of track but came across some lovely spots.  The track is well signposted and has information boards along the route explaining the history of the railway.  Meandering through tropical woodland, past pastel coloured houses and along Bermuda’s beautiful waters there is so much to see.  I got a little bit lost at one point but with the help of a few friendly locals I got back on the right path.  I imagined that being an old railway line it would be a straight track, but was surprised to find in parts it to be quite a work out cycling up and down hills and peddling through some deep gravel.  So, on that note I would recommend wearing decent footwear, as I struggled at times in my flip-flops!  Water and suncream are a must too.  I throughly enjoyed my day exploring a little part of Bermuda by bike, next time I go back I will get back in the saddle and explore some more!
My previous blog post on Bermuda was all about food…check it out here: Brunch in Bermuda.

Surfing, Souks and Sunshine in Morocco

Ad: This post has been produced in collaboration with Explora Watersports
Morocco is a melting pot of culture and an extremely diverse country from the Atlas Mountains to vibrant cities full of buzzing souks, dramatic coastline and lots of desert.  This makes it the perfect place for an active holiday and a fantastic place for watersports.  Essaouira, a laid back coastal town found on the west coast is an ideal area to be based if you love to surf, SUP or kitesurf.   It is easily accessible by road from Marrakesh or Agadir in around two and a half hours, jump on a bus or catch a taxi.  Fortified walls, a fishing harbour, souks and a medina mean you can explore and shop for a bargain until your heart’s content.  Essaouira is known for its hub of artists so look out for some local artwork to purchase amongst the narrow alleyways lined with stores full of colourful treasures and spices.  Next, visit a Hammam or relax with a coffee while watching fisherman bring in their daily catch.  The fish auction is worth a visit too, held on Monday to Saturday from 3-5pm.
After exploring the town head to the beach for some action!  With consistent Atlantic swell from October to April, (with the winter bringing bigger sets) Essaouira’s beach break is good for beginners as well as those who can already surf; and where else do you get to see camels on the shoreline?!  Explora, based right on the beach offer kite and surf clinics as well as lessons.   For more advanced surfers who are looking for bigger breaks they also provide trips out to Sidi Kaouki, The Cave and Moulay.   If you prefer to go it alone, board and wetsuit hire are 25 Euros a day and lessons start from 30 Euros.  Water temperatures range from around 16°c in the winter and climb up to 21°c in the summer months.  Depending on the time of year you go you might be able to surf in board shorts, or if you are feeling really brave just a bikini!  Surf and Yoga camps cost €485 and combine ten hours of surf lessons with daily yoga classes.  Six nights accommodation are included plus some meals, take a look at the website for further details.  This is right up my street and sounds like a great way to improve skills and make new friends.  Explora can also sort out everything for the perfect surf trip and provide packages including transfers and accommodation.  Shopping in the souks, sunshine and surfing, this is my kind of holiday!

Surfing, cider and bacon sarnies in the UK…

Now that spring is on its way in the UK the days are getting longer and the sun is starting to shine, which means that it’s time to come out of hibernation and head to the coast.  I for one cannot wait to pack up my surfboard and wetsuit in the campervan and embrace the chilly British waters.  This time of year is perfect for hitting the surf especially as the days are getting brighter and right now the beaches aren’t so crowded.  This can mean only one thing: you have those waves all to yourself!  Plus with all the crazy weather the UK has been experiencing there has been some great swell pushing in.  So much so that during the storms in February top surfers from all over the world headed to the UK to catch some monster waves on the Cornish coast.
Being able to surf in just a bikini in warmer climates is great, nothing can beat it and I am lucky that I get my fix by surfing in Barbados every couple of months.  But there’s something I love about warming up in a campervan with a post surf hot chocolate and bacon butty on a crisp spring morning in England.  My top tip for warming up after a chilly surf is to wrap a hot water bottle in your towel; perfect after you’ve peeled off your cold wetsuit!  Throw on your hoody, jeans and uggs and hey presto you can start to feel your toes again.
Make sure you’ve got the right gear for colder waters; a winter wetsuit, booties, gloves and hood should keep you nice and toasty in the water.  My wetsuit is a 5mm and came with a hood, my gloves are 3mm and my boots are 6.5mm, they keep my feet so warm and the split toe design means there are really comfortable and easy to surf in.
If you have never surfed before, I thoroughly recommend giving it a try.  It is a great way to keep fit and have fun at the same time.  It may take a while to get the hang of it and can involve a lot of falling in and getting rolled around in the waves, but this is all part of the fun and is confidence building!  It is also a great way to make new friends.  After you’ve had a few lessons hire or buy your own board and just keep practising.  It’s addictive!
Some of my favourite surfing beaches in the UK are:
Putsborough – This beach in Devon is a real treat!  There are fab views of the water from the car park making it perfect for checking the surf and for picnics.  There is a small campsite here too and you can hire surfboards and wetsuits if you don’t have your own.  The nearby village of Georgeham has a lovely pub called the Kings Arms, it’s a good place to stop for a pint or two after a surf.  You can also walk along the beach to Woolacombe from Putsborough.  Which leads me onto my next beach…
Woolacombe – Great beach for beginners and long boarders.  There are plenty of surf schools in the area, so do a web search before you go.  If the surfs not so great the small town is a nice place to grab a pasty and do some shopping.  SaltRock, and a few other surf shops will keep you busy on a flat day along with some nice arty and jewellery shops.  Failing that, the Red Barn is a great stop for a cider.
Saunton Sands – Six miles down the road from Woolacombe this beautiful beach has around three miles of uninterrupted shoreline so you can spread out.  Surf wise if the conditions are right there can be lots of nice long, clean sets; perfect for beginners.  There is a good surf school and hire shop on the beach too.
Fistral – Cornwall’s answer to Byron Bay, this beach is split in to North and South.  Fistral is world famous for its surf and holds lots of big surf competitions and festivals such as Boardmasters and the English National Surfing Championships.  North Fistral has mostly right hand breaks and is usually slightly bigger than South.  Fistral Beach Surf School is found right on the beach and provides lessons and board rental.
Rhossili – This beautiful beach in Wales has recently been awarded the number one spot on the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards 2014 – top 25 UK beaches.  I can understand why this 5km stretch of beach was voted as one of the best, it really shows off Britain’s beauty and its consistent beach breaks make it a great place to surf.
Closer to home I am pretty spoilt with some half decent beaches to surf at; these include the Witterings, Highcliffe and Bournemouth.  East Wittering, West Wittering and Bracklesham Bay are all nearby one another, if the surfs no good at one you can head to one of the others.  There are two great surf shops in East Wittering: Shore and Witterings Surf Shop.  Drift In coffee shop is part of Witterings Surf Shop and is a nice place to head to after a surf or beach walk.  Both Shore and Witterings surf shop provide board, wetsuit hire and lessons.
I am so lucky to live near the sea but I definitely do not make the most of it!  My plan this summer is to surf closer to home and use these lovely beaches nearby, aswell as the odd trip to Barbados for some bikini surfing!

In Search of the Cassowary…

A Cassowary road sign

CassowaryOn the road to Mission Beach in northeastern Australia, a lot of signs appeared indicating that cassowaries lived in the area.  I really wanted to see one of these curious creatures but being so timid I knew it might be highly unlikely.  Still, I kept my eyes peeled and waited eagerly in anticipation on the drive through the Queensland rainforest just in case I spotted one appearing out of the jungle.  Further into the journey more signs popped up stating that there had been a recent sighting in the area, this made me even more excited!  The cassowary is a flightless bird, although timid and rarely spotted they can be potentially dangerous.  Found in northeastern Australia they can grow up to 1.8 metres in height, have brightly coloured heads with a casque on top and large clawed feet.  The only one I saw was at the West Pennant Hills Koala Park in Sydney, I would have loved to have spotted one in the wild.  Arriving at my campsite in Mission Beach for the night I explored the beautiful sweeping shoreline, paddled in the warm water and watched the sunset; always on the look out for this rarely seen bird.  Retiring to the campsite for dinner and a beer I did a bit of research and discovered that cassowaries had been sighted on the beach at Etty Bay about 40 minutes drive from Mission Beach.  So the next day I decided to get up early and move further up the coast.  Etty Bay, reached by a small winding road is a beautiful secluded beach surrounded by lush tropical rainforest.  With nothing but a small campsite and a café on the foreshore it proved to be a peaceful, idyllic spot for breakfast.  I am glad I visited, but there was not a cassowary in sight!  I did come across some information on the beach indicating what to do if you come face to face with a cassowary though.  The main tip was to get something solid between you and this very large bird, such as a tree!  The illustrations on the sign made me laugh; although I was not so sure after reading it how excited I still was about coming across this potentially dangerous prehistoric looking creature.  It was time for me to move on to the next stop on my road trip, which was Cairns.  Even though I didn’t spot a cassowary I have a lot of respect for this endangered bird; and don’t forget if you ever spot one yourself, find a tree!

For more information on cassowaries take a look at the Cassowary Recovery Team website.  It has a lot of information on where to potentially see them, reporting a sighting and what to do if you come across an injured one.

For more ideas on what to do in Australia check out my other posts:

Planning a road trip on the east coast of Australia

Cool campsites on the east coast of Australia


Five things to do in Sydney…

*Updated in Feb 2020


If you are spending time on the east coast of Australia then you must visit Sydney. Seeing the Opera House and Harbour Bridge in person is amazing. But not just that, there so many sights and experiences to be had in this beautiful part of the world. Staying with friends it was great to be shown around this iconic city by locals and thanks to their recommendations here are my top five things to do in Sydney:


1. A Friday night in Sydney…

Arriving on a Friday night I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than with drinks at the Opera Bar. Situated right by the Opera House the outdoor seating has the most fabulous views of Sydney Harbour. What a way to spend our first evening; sparkling wine in hand, gazing at the wondrous view. After drinks we had a stroll around the outside of the Opera House, I still couldn’t quite believe I was there! Next a short walk around Circular Quay bought us to an area of the city called The Rocks for dinner.  Liv and Jamie chose The Glenmore; if you are ever in Sydney I would really recommend this place for a meal or just a drink at the rooftop bar.  It was buzzing and the views of the Opera House and harbour in the distance are beautiful.

2. Meet the Australian wildlife…

Apart from seeing Sydney Opera House and the Harbour Bridge another big tick off of my Australia to do list was to see the native animals. A visit to the Koala Park in West Pennant Hills was just the job. The park was fairly small but this was a plus point as it wasn’t very busy. The stars of the park are of course the koalas and with regular talks you can meet and get up close to these sleepy creatures. The park also has a gated off area with kangaroos inside, here you can wander around and hand feed them. Little did I know at this point in my trip that I would be seeing kangaroos all the way up the east coast. Being from the UK this was such a novelty and the excitement of seeing them especially in the wild never actually wore off!


3. Bondi to Coogee on foot…

While in Sydney I really wanted to visit the famous Bondi Beach. A great way to explore this lovely coastline is by walking from Bondi to Coogee.  Before the walk we stopped for brunch at Bondi Massive Café, a funky little coffee shop in the town centre. I had the very tasty Avocado Smash: feta, tomatoes, avocado and mint salad on sourdough. The Aussies certainly do make good healthy food. All fuelled up it was time to go. The 6km walk follows the coastline and takes you right past Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly beaches, so you can stop for a swim or a snorkel on the way. I loved that the walk was dotted with water fountains and toilets. It was a hot day so being able to refill my water bottle was perfect. It is a fairly easy walk, although there are a few steps in places. I got star struck at seeing some of the lifeguards who feature in the TV show Bondi Rescue patrolling the beaches!  Once at Coogee you can either get a bus, taxi or walk back again…we chose a taxi!


4. Fish and chips…

An evening visit to Manly for fish, chips, ice cream and a stroll along the beach sounds like something quite British; but it was far from it. The climate for one is obviously a lot warmer and two, don’t get me wrong, I love good old traditional British fish and chips but Mongers in Manly (there is also one in Byron Bay and Bondi) gave traditional fish and chips a great modern twist. I had flathead with chips washed down with a local 4 Pines beer. Afterwards we had a stroll along the pine tree-lined beachfront with an ice cream and watched surfers catching waves as the sunset. A walk along the quirky side streets with a bit of window-shopping finished the evening off nicely.



5. Sydney Harbour tall ships cruise…

One of my best trips was a tall ships cruise on Sydney Harbour. Setting sail early evening meant that we cruised out past the Opera House just as the sun was setting. The views of the bridge and harbour from the water are incredible. After powering out, we slowly drifted back under sail and watched as the sunset and the twinkling lights of the city began to illuminate the night sky.I got pretty emotional at the sight of the Opera House as the sun went down and the stars came out, it was such a beautiful sight. We paid extra for an all-inclusive bar, which was fantastic. This was topped off with some delicious finger food of oysters, prawns, sushi, duck wraps and many other exciting trays that did a circuit around the boat. A musician singing and playing a guitar set the tone perfectly. It was such a special evening to share with my husband and friends who we had not seen for about a year and a half and is a memory I will treasure for a long time. I thoroughly recommend this trip, seeing Sydney Harbour from the water gives such a different view of the city; I loved it!

24 hours in the South of France….

With only 24 hours to spend in Nice, in the south of France I wanted to make the most of it.  This doesn’t sound like a lot of time but you can definitely cram a lot of exploring in!  Arriving in the evening meant checking in at the hotel and heading straight out to explore the nightlife.  With the airport located conveniently close to the town it didn’t take too long to find ourselves in the old town in a very cool bar with a beer in hand.  Wayne’s bar was rammed with locals, and with live music playing it was definitely the right choice of venue.  Although, we enjoyed it a little too much and ended up staying out slightly longer than planned.  This meant sore heads all round in the morning and slightly more money spent than had been intended!  None the less we dragged ourselves up early, ravenous for a typical French breakfast.  Coffee and croissants in a lovely café was the perfect antidote.  All perked up and ready for the day ahead we strolled to the train station, the plan was to spend the day in Monte Carlo.  I was really looking forward to the train journey along the coastline, but once at the station we discovered there had been a landslide and no trains were running!  Feeling a little disappointed we went back to the town centre and decided having only explored Nice’s nightlife that the rest of this lovely Mediterranean area was waiting to be uncovered.  Strolling along the bustling Promenade des Anglais, with the sea shimmering and the sun shining we headed towards the cliffs near the harbour.  Climbing the steps up to the clifftop revealed fantastic views over the coastline, old town and the port on the opposite side.  You could even see snow-capped mountains further inland.  Known as Parc du Château this cliff top park has a man-made waterfall called Cascade Donjon and lovely gardens, perfect for a picnic with beautiful views of the ocean.  Next stop was a visit to the food and flower market in the old town.  It’s a great place to pick up fresh bread, meats and cheeses.  The Corsican cheese I bought was a particular favourite.  There were also lots of lavender products, soaps and oils to purchase.  After checking out the market, it was time to get lost in the tiny side streets.  This is one of my favourite things to do in European cities; the buildings and beautiful architecture were a real highlight of the trip for me.  Continuing further we stumbled across a wonderful bakery and bought some scrummy fresh pastries.  With a huge variety of restaurants to choose from for lunch and being in France I felt it was only right to go for Moules – frites with a glass of white wine.  After lunch it was time for a bike ride, Velo Bleu rental bicycles can be found all over the town and from €1 a day you can help yourself to one of these beauties.  We cycled along the promenade stopping for ice cream along the way.  A quick coffee outside in the sun along with a bit of people watching ended our glorious day in France.  Back at the airport I bought a bottle of red wine as a souvenir of a perfect 24 hours on the French Riviera.  Cheers!


To travel or not to travel?

I stopped to get fuel for my car on my way home from work today.  As I was in my uniform the lady in the garage asked what I did.  I explained that I worked for an airline as cabin crew, to which she replied, “I couldn’t do your job!” I asked if it was because she was scared of flying?  She went on to explain that she wasn’t scared but that she had never been on a plane in her life.  I told her she should go for it, she simply said “oh no thanks” and seemed pretty content with her answer.  It just got me thinking that of course not everyone has the want or need to travel, but when I think about my job I realise how lucky I am to fly overseas to different countries every week; along with countries I have travelled to in my own time.  I feel so privileged and lucky to have done so and can’t imagine not ever wanting to travel, to never having that urge to step on foreign soil, to taste different foods or to experience a new culture.  I’ve learnt so much by travelling to different countries and feel I am a richer person for doing so.  Like I said this conversation showed me that there are lots of people who are happy with not seeing other parts of the world, but boy does our world have so much to offer!  I am thankful for the opportunities and experiences I have had so far and look forward to the new experiences I will continue to have through my love of visiting pastures new.  Be it in the UK or further afield I never want to stop exploring…And I encourage with all my heart everyone to do the same…Hope you agree with me?….


Brunch in Bermuda….

I am currently staying in Bermuda at the Fairmont Hotel in Southampton.  It is a beautiful hotel with stunning views of the island.  Sunday is a great day to be here as in the morning breakfast turns into brunch.  I love food, so this is the perfect Sunday morning for me!  With views of the ocean and more food than you can imagine it is a real treat.  Breakfast and brunch are both buffet style, so you can help yourself.  It’s a tough choice knowing where to start, there is an omelette station, with a chef who will cook your omelette to order, A smoothie station which I love as you can request whatever you would like in your smoothie – I chose mixed berry, yum!  There are waffles, bagels, fruit, cereals, a huge selection of pastries and cakes and cooked options such as eggs benedict and bacon.  Yes, this morning I was in heaven!  Moving onto brunch, if you have enough room after all that there is a wonderful selection of meats, with ham and beef carved for you, salads, fish cakes, macaroni cheese…the list is endless.  I just had to share this as if you ever visit Bermuda, even if you don’t stay at this hotel you should definitely visit for breakfast or brunch, you will not be disappointed!

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.’