Five Unique, Independent Business’ to Fall in Love With and Why Supporting Small Shops is Vital

Lets picture a creative, young entrepreneur, who started up her own business alongside her full time job and wants to eventually turn her side hustle in to her full time job because it is what she’s truly passionate about… lets support her!! This is a simplified version of why we should all support independent business’.

Shopping through small business’ can give you more unique items that often have an interesting story behind both the product and the brand. I have also found that it is easy to make purchases that are ethical and that have minimal environmental impacts when shopping independently. None of the products bought through any of the companies in this post used any plastic or excessive packaging materials, and the ethics of the brands is made exceptionally clear on their websites. I think supporting business’ such as these is particularly important right now where both the pandemic and recession are taking a huge toll on people’s incomes who run small business’.

Sevenoaks Bookshop

I have previously bought a lot of books from Amazon, both new and second hand from their book sellers as they come at very affordable prices. However upon learning more information on the ethics and working conditions at Amazon, I am trying not to use the website anymore. I would rather pay a little bit more money my books and support an independent business. I realise this is unfortunately not a privilege that everyone can exercise.

I came across Sevenoaks Bookshop by simply searching for independent stores delivering books during lockdown. Delivery was second class and arrived within a few days. The books were well packaged in cardboard with no plastic. Their website was easy to navigate and their genre sections were helpful as I was specifically looking for fiction and books on the topic of racism, both of which have designated sections on their site.

 

Charlotte’s Web

Charlotte’s Web are a sustainable jewelry brand who work with small family run business’ and communities in Rajasthan, India to hand make their uniqe jewellery designs. For an ethical brand with such beautiful pieces, I believe their work is very fairly priced compared to other larger jewelry companies. For every purchase in their ‘spinning jewelry’ range (which is a stunning collection), £5 is donated to Donatekart which is a donation platform in India. £5 provides one grocery pack for an impoverished family in India. I would highly recommend checking out their pieces, they would make a fabulous gift.

Art by Lena

Lena’s online shop is filled with vibrant, hand painted watercolor prints, stationary and bookmarks.  I’ve ordered a few of Lena’s prints, a gorgeous bookmark, and also some wooden decorations. All of them are of very high quality and were extremely affordable. The orders are well packaged with ‘fragile’ written on them to prevent them from damage. Lena’s shop is ideal if you are looking for a unique gift, my previous orders have arrived wrapped in colourful tissue paper and a hand painted thank you note. I only paid £1 for postage and for both orders I have placed, and they arrived two days after I placed my order. I would also recommend following Lena on Twitter as she regularly posts shop updates and new work she has painted, her handle is: @lenasnotebook

 

Bubble Trouble

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Bubble Trouble is an exciting new business venture, founded by Lauren, whose blog I have followed for a while now (check it out here). I am hugely on board with the fact that Lauren’s ingredients are ethically sourced, cruelty free, and vegan. The packaging is also biodegradable (which can’t be said for a lot of larger cosmetic brands…) No parabens or harsh ingredients are used in any products from Bubble Trouble, and with the bath bombs being £3.50 each, Lauren’s lovely creations are incredibly affordable for the impressive quality that you receive. Shipping costs £2.95 or is free if you spend £20!

(The photo below is of ‘Under the Sea’)

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Studio Bloom Accessory Designs

Studio Bloom Accessory Designs is an Etsy shop, where Steph makes and sells brilliant, colourful jewelry made of polymer clay. Delivery to the UK is free which made my purchase only £11! The quality of the earrings is superb, they are comfortable and secure to wear and they came beautifully wrapped in matching blue tissue paper with a lovely thank you note.

Please leave below any independent business’ you love, I would love to know of more!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Top 10 Tips on How to Plan a Mini Break on a Budget: Edinburgh Edition

I have just returned from the most fabulous three day break in Edinburgh, Scotland’s magnificent capital city. This was a mini break with two of my friends, with all of us travelling on a student budget. We managed to compromise very well on costs without compromising at all on the quality of our city break. We managed to book our flights and accommodation for a total of £107.84 each. We flew from Luton airport to Edinburgh airport with EasyJet, and got the tram from the airport to the centre of Edinburgh. We stayed in a gorgeous apartment on Montgomery Street, in the centre of the city.

Here are my top 10 tips on how to plan a brilliant mini break on a budget wihtout compromising on quality…

1. Book as Far in Advance as You Can

The further in advance you book your travel, the cheaper it will be. This goes for any destination! We booked our accommodation and flights in May, and our trip was in September, so we planned it 4 months in advance. For return flights booked this far in advance, I only paid £37.78. Our airbnb cost £210.18 for two nights, so split between three of us we paid £70.06 each. There was a £28.18 service charge included in this. For a lovely flat, spacious in such a central location, this was a very good deal. Planning in advance really pays off!

Here are some photos of our gorgeous airbnb, it just shows you that by saving money, you don’t have to compromise on quality…

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2. Travel Outside of School Holidays

If you are a university student like me, then you have the advantage of having holidays that are outside of the school holidays and being more flexible with dates. Try and go before the school holidays if you can, May and June are much cheaper than July/August if you have finished your university year by then. The school holidays means that accommodation and travel costs can almost double in price. We also found that September seemed to be even cheaper as it was outside of both the Scottish and English school holidays (bear in mind that if you are visiting a different country then school holiday dates may differ).

3. Use Comparison Sites to Find the Best Deals

We used Skyscanner to find our flights. I cannot recommend this tool enough. You can input your destinations and it tells you the cheapest options for travelling. It also lets you add the option to include other airports and non-direct flights if these are cheaper options. There is also a feature to search for the cheapest month and destinations. You can also find hotel and car hire information on here too.

It’s also useful to compare if it’s quicker/cheaper going to your destination by train, plane, ferry or driving. We found that even with a student railcard, the trains were considerably more expensive and would have meant a very long journey.

4. Sit Separately on Flights

Another cost that can be avoided is choosing to not pay to sit together on the flight. If you are spending a whole holiday with people, then it’s not the end of the world if you don’t sit next to each other if you are on a short haul flight like we were. However, we checked in for our flights about two weeks in advance and this meant we were placed next to each other anyway on both our outbound and inbound flights.

5. Limit Your Luggage

For this trip, we took hand luggage alone. This means you can avoid the cost of having to pay for putting luggage in the hold. Small savings like this can add up to save you a fair bit of money. Additionally, it also means you don’t have to hang around waiting for a suitcase once you’re off the flight. Not having heavy bags to cart around with you is also a bonus, this applies if you are travelling by train too. Our flight landed at 10am on Monday and we could not check in until 3pm. On Wednesday when we left, we had to check out by 10am and our flight was not until late evening. Therefore we knew we had to carry our luggage with us for these times in between. By having just a light rucksack, it meant our luggage didn’t limit us. We were still able to visit the castle and walked up to Calton Hill without being weighed down by heavy bags.

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6. Don’t be too Fussy About Travel Companies

We flew with EasyJet due to their company in general having lower cost flights compared to other airlines. Other airlines may offer what is considered ‘a ore luxurious experience’ but if you are on a short flight and it gets you from A to B then going with cheaper options to save money is definitely a good idea.

7. Be as Flexible as You Can With Where You Travel From

The closest airport to where I live is Birmingham. But we worked out that the cheapest flight at the time was from Luton airport and that airport parking was only £30 here. The Flybe flights from Birmingham to Edinburgh were significantly more expensive. So even though we drove a bit further than we would have to get to Birmingham, it was more cost-effective for us to go to Luton instead. So if you can, it’s good to be as flexible as you can with airport/train station locations as this may save you a significant amount of money.

8. Plan a Rough Itinerary in Advance

We roughly planned out the main activities we wanted to do Edinburgh and what day we could do them on (weather permitting!). Due to only having three days away, this meant that we knew we could include our prioritised activities in the small amount of time we were in the city. By booking certain activities in advance it can save you money and often saves you queuing for long periods of time. Additionally, so many great things to do are often free! On our last day we walked up Calton Hill which gives you an incredible view of the whole city of Edinburgh around you. I would thoroughly recommend visiting if you are in Edinburgh. We also enjoyed a coffee and pastry in Gardener’s Cottage which is the restaurant set on the edge of Calton Hill. This was surprisingly very affordable at just £5 each, but avoid at lunch and dinner unless you want a very pricey meal! Walking round and soaking up the atmosphere of the Royal Mile and Princes Street Gardens was another lovely experience which won’t cost you a penny. Most cities will have free galleries and museums you can visit, the National Gallery is free in Edinburgh, as is the National Museum of Scotland.

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9. Avoid Buying Food and Drink etc. from Tourist Attraction Shops

Often shops at tourist attractions have extortionate prices. Avoiding spending £3 on a disposable water bottle every time you want a drink and paying loads just for a sandwich is always a good plan in my book. Bring a water bottle with you that you can fill up before you go out for the day, and maybe some snacks if you’re likely to get hungry whilst out and about. We took a picnic with us to the zoo and bought snacks from a Tesco Express next to our airbnb so you can just grab something on your way out for the day.

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10. Choose Your Accommodation Location Wisely

By staying right in the centre of Edinburgh, it meant we were able to walk from our apartment to all the central locations that we wanted to visit. We were about a 15 minute walk from Princes Street which was great. It was also near the tram links that we used to get to and from the airport. So by staying in the city centre, we saved money by walking lots, where as if we had been much further out we may have spent more time and money on buses etc. Walking more is also a more sustainable and healthy option, and gives you the chance to see the city you’re in up close.

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I hope this was helpful if you are planning a trip on a budget. Here is a link to another of my Edinburgh posts which has more details on great things to do in Edinburgh once you’re there!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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The Essential Guide For Your First Trip to York, The Perfect UK City Break

Exploring York for the first time was a great experience, a city full of history and beauty. We packed so much in to a short space of time so if you are looking for a UK city break with lots to offer, then York would be a brilliant choice! It was great to be in a place where you can walk everywhere due to everything in the city centre being so close together. The city also has a vibrant and friendly atmosphere which makes it a lovely place to be in. We visited for a long weekend but you could certainly spend more time here and have plenty to do! This guide features three mains sections: What to Do and Where to Visit, Food and Drink, and Accommodation.

What to Do and Where to Visit

York Minster

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York Minster is one of the largest cathedrals in Northern Europe. Then first recorded church building on the site was estimated to have been built in 627, although just a wooden structure at this time. The first stone structure was completed in 637.

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Guided tours run here from 10am-3pm from Monday-Saturday. You can also pay extra to take a trip up the tower, which is a climb of around 275 steps. I also got a student discount on entrance, and by paying once you receive a ticket which you can use for a whole year, which is a brilliant deal if you are planning on visiting again.

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There was so much to see that you could easily spend hours here. We spent a whole morning here but there were still lots of things we could have spent more time looking at. The information provided on the history of the cathedral was also very interesting to read.

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The cathedral has more medieval stained glass windows than anywhere else in the country, they really are stunning.

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York Minster is a stunning building from the outside as well as the inside, and the detail in its architecture is quite incredible. I would highly recommend this as a must see place when visiting York.

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There is a small gift shop attached to York Minster if you are looking to buy any souvenirs from your stay in York. Here is a link to their website if you would like some more information.

The Jorvick Museum

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The Jorvik Centre was another great tourist experience. On the site of the Jorvik Centre, between 1976-1981 archaeologists revealed the viking city of Jorvik as it once stood around 1000 years ago. The Jorvik centre stands on the site of the excavation grounds to reconstruct what life was like in 10th century York.

When you first go in, you are taken round in what they call ‘gondolas’ which look like slow moving and low down cable cars. You are then taken round the reconstruction of the city, this includes sight, sounds and even smells. There is also a speaker on the gondola which plays an audio guide throughout about the buildings and people you see as you go along. There is also a screen on the front with pictures and additional information. The recreations are extremely authentic due to the detail in them. There are 22 characters withing the reconstruction, their clothing, speech and facial features is all specifically from research in to Viking-age York to ensure that everything is as accurate as possible. When you’ve finished the ride, there is then the museum including more information and artefacts that were discovered from the 10th century.

It was a bit tricky getting pictures whilst taking in the whole tour but the photo below is the screens in front of you that you can use whilst on the ride. You can also change the language on these if you are visiting from abroad.

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You can pre-book tickets which gives you a time slot for your visit and enables you to fast track through the entrance (it was fairly busy we went so this may be advisable). Adult tickets are £12.50 which covers admission for a whole year. Other tickets are also available for families of 4 and 5, concessions, and children.

 

The Shambles

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The Shambles is the iconic narrow street in York with its timber buildings dating back as far as the 13th century. During medieval times the street was used for butcher shops, which is why some of the shops still have meat hooks placed on the front of them. If you’re a Harry Potter fan this will definitely be a must see for you! There were at least three Harry Potter themed stores and many compare the street to Diagon Alley.

Do bear in mind that due to being one of Europe’s most visited streets, The Shambles does get very busy and is very narrow! So if you are looking to get some good photos of it then you might want to go early in the day. Here is a link to The Shambles Trip Advisor page if you are looking more more information or reviews.

It’s also worth just taking the time to wander round the other streets of the city centre, there are some incredibly beautiful old buildings and quirky shops to admire. Every building and street is full of character and has a unique feel to it.

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The Original Ghost Walk of York

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The ghost walk began at the King’s Arms pub, and runs every night at 8pm. The guide takes you round the city and stops off at various locations to share stories and experiences of people claiming to have seen ghosts there. The man who ran the tour was an absolutely brilliant storyteller and made the tour very interesting. It was also a great way of getting a tour of the city too. It was about an hour in length. You do not have to book, tickets are £5.00 each, children are £4.

 

Walk The City Walls

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The city walls are 3.4km long in total and are the longest medieval walls in England. Walking the whole route would take you around two hours. I would recommend doing even just part of the route if you want to see some great views of York, there is also a great view of York Minster.

Here is a link to a map with the 5 points at which you can enter the walk round the walls.

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Food and Drink

The Whippet Inn

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We visited this restaurant for mu Uncle’s 50th celebration and it was a fabulous meal, the staff brought out a cake at the end too which was a lovely touch. The waitress was also incredibly helpful and friendly, she really made the meal a brilliant experience. The food was delicious, I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are looking for a nice meal out during your stay in York. We walked from our airbnb in the city centre which took around 20 minutes.

The Old White Swan

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The atmosphere of this pub was lovely, a very cosy vibe with fairy lights and rustic decor. It was pretty busy when we went on a Friday evening which added nicely to the friendly atmosphere.

The Three Tuns

We popped in to this old style pub for a quick drink in between exploring the Shambles and the Jorvick Centre. This one is certainly more of a classic and older feeling pub, it was a bit darker inside and is less modern. We actually quite liked this as it fits in with the historical feel that many of the York streets and buildings have. But again this one was very friendly and was a great stop off point for a drink and a seat.

The Golden Fleece

This was another oldy-worldy style pub from the 16th century, said to be one of the most haunted buildings in York! The old style decor and stories you hear of this pub did indeed give it a bit of a spooky feeling. Again, we just stopped off here for a drink whilst exploring the centre of York, a very quirky and interesting place to have a drink or some food.

The York Gin Shop

This was a lovely shop and the staff were also very helpful and welcoming. We bought one of the small bottles of gin which comes in a very unique square shaped bottle.

 

Accommodation

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This was the beautiful house we stayed in for the weekend. It was only a couple of minutes walking distance from the very centre of the city. You could walk to York Minster in about five minutes, it was a brilliant location for our stay.

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The house had a beautiful balance of maintaining the character of the 1753 property but also having modern elements which gave it a very fresh and homely feel. There were eight of us staying in the house which is the maximum amount of guests you can have staying here. The house was across three floors, and the rooms were incredibly spacious.

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You can see in the photo below that you actually get a stunning view of York Minster from the upstairs window.

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I hope this city guide was useful if you are wanting to venture to York any time soon, I hope you have an incredible time if you are. Let me know if you have visited this beautiful city and if there are any other parts of the city that you enjoyed that are not included in this post!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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The Top 5 Hidden Travel Gems in South West France

Why should southern France be next on your travel bucket list?

If you are a lover of beautiful scenery, locally sourced wines and cheeses, endless sunflower fields, and small towns filled with cobbled streets, then southern France in the region of Aquitaine will be a dream destination for you. I have visited South West France over at least 10 trips, but on this one in particular, we found lots of gorgeous spots that were a bit less on the tourist’s radars, perhaps due to being in more rural locations and which were not heavily advertised. In this post I have collated the top 5 discoveries of our trip this year, including the most beautiful water mill and lake, markets to peruse through, and food that you simply can’t miss.

For a brief travel introduction, we flew from Birmingham airport (England) to Bergerac airport. The flight was just two hours, we flew with Flybe and booked the flights almost a year in advance which is a great idea if you are looking to save some money! It was incredibly easy journey, we have used Flybe for this journey many times in past years and we have had a positive travel experience every time. We then stayed in a hamlet named ‘Cerisiers’ which was a 10 minute drive from the town ‘Duras’. It was around a 45 minute drive from Bergerac airport.

 

1. Saint Pierre sur Dropt- The Most Beautiful Water Mill and Lake

This was a very small village, very near to a house we had stayed in on a previous trip to the area. At first glance, it doesn’t appear that there is much there to do. However we found some information suggesting there was a water mill in the village that was open to the public for just a couple of days a week.

We did indeed manage to find this beautiful spot named ‘Moulin de Cocussotte’. It was just a short drive from where we staying in the hamlet of ‘Cerisiers’. There is parking available here (there is no public transport to it due to its very rural location).

This was the beautiful lake on which the water mill and its grounds look out upon. The views were utterly gorgeous, and it was a very tranquil place. The sounds of the running water made for a very relaxing scene.

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This is the water wheel here, set against the luscious green leaves growing up the side of the stone house.

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This is another view of the building which the water mill is attached to. It’s surrounded by vibrant baskets of flowers, and small ponds with walkways across them. It was refreshing to be in such a naturally beautiful environment.

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There were also these magnificent wooden sculptures featured across the gardens, depicting various animals. This one of the horse was one of my favourites, it was life size too!

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This photograph below shows the interesting display of items which have been found in the river. The sign states the phrase ‘gifts of the river’. It’s very sad to think that so many plastic and glass items like these end up in beautiful stretches of water such as this one.

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There is a website for this lovely place but it is in French, it is linked here for you. You can also book to stay in the lovely house, it seems to have great reviews on Booking.com.

To visit the water mill and its grounds it costs $4 each for entry. There was also a guided tour by the man who lives in the house by the water mill and whose family have lived there a long time. We didn’t stay for all of the tour and were able to wander off on our own to explore. But if you are a speaker of French then I’m sure the tour probably had some very interesting information in it!

 

2 & 3: Taillecavat- The Village Full of Character and the Most Gorgeous Animals

Taillecavat was a beautifully small village, about a fifteen minute walk from the villa we were staying in for the trip. Despite being a very small area, it was a very interesting place to explore. We wandered down the winding country roads to the village every morning after sunrise to pick up croissants and a baguette from the small boulangerie named ‘Madame and Monsieur Raymond’. We enjoyed supporting their local business, it was also fun to practice our French and refreshing to not have the locals speak English to us.

There is also a small yet magnificent church that stands in the centre of the village which we included on our morning route.

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One of the other highlights of the village was certainly these two gorgeous animals…

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These were the two donkeys who lived in an old moat surrounding a chateau that has been converted in to a field. We named them Delilah and Daphne, and we fed them an assortment of fruit or veg every morning as we walked past them. As you can see here, carrots were a firm favourite!

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The village is surrounded by endless rows of lush green grape vines and fields of gold from the sunshine coloured sunflowers. I have more sunflower field content and information on our accommodation from this trip in my Best of Bergerac series which can be found here.

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4. Sainte Foy la Grande- A Good Ol’ Traditional French Market

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We visited the day market in Sainte Foy la Grande, which was predominantly a food market. We did try some great street food, which is always a great experience. We tried some ‘pomme de terres sautée’, which was fried potatoes that were cooked with mushrooms and lots of garlic. It was absolutely delicious, we ate a lot of it!

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The market had a great atmosphere to it as it was quite busy, a mixture of locals and tourists it seems which was a nice balance. There were rows and rows of fresh fruit and vegetables, cheeses, seafood and meats. It’s great to see people out supporting local businesses where the produce is fresh and local.

There were also these gorgeous bunches of flowers on sale, the colours were incredibly eye catching.

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There were also lots of cafes and places to eat surrounding the market squares, which is great if you want to stop off for a drink and watch the hustle and bustle of the market go-ers. We sat by the market and wrote some postcards, which we bought from a small shop in the town. There is a post office here which is handy if you want to do the same.

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The shops along the streets of the market are also worth a look in, this one was a deli and was full of interesting foods, spices and types of coffees.

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5. Duras: Hotel de Ducs- The Must Visit Restaurant

The town of Duras was about a 10 minute drive from where we were staying. This restaurant was a particular food highlight of the trip, so if you are in the area and looking for excellent food and good service then Hotel de Ducs would be a brilliant choice.

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These small aperitifs were given to us when we arrived (they do not charge you for these extras they include). These were delicious, flavoured with fresh smoked salmon, walnuts and chutney. It was details like this which added a lovely touch to the meal.

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This was also another aperitif given to us after we had ordered our meal. This was a bread roll with a goats cheese and chive mousse, which was also lovely.

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I thought I’d try a meal which I had never had before, I always think it’s great to do that when you’re away somewhere different. This was melon soup, with salad and parma ham on toasted bread. I was surprised to find that I loved the soup! Due to being served cold, it was light and refreshing. I’m glad I tried something new!

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This was the view from inside the restaurant, it looked out on to the garden and pool of the hotel, it was nice and cool because of the canopy above us too. If you want some more information on places to eat in the region of Aquitaine then click here for my French Food and Drink Guide.

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The staff who worked here were very friendly and the service was extremely efficient. It’s a family run business, I also liked how again they spoke to us in French and not English even when they knew we were tourists. I would highly recommend this restaurant if you are looking for a fabulous meal, it would be great for a special occasion.

I have written about some of the other French market towns that are well worth seeing in the area in my French Market Town Guide if you would like some more information and travel inspiration!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Spending a Day in London as a Tourist: Hyde Park, The Tate Britain, and Covent Garden

“Oh, I love London Society! It is entirely composed now of beautiful idiots and brilliant lunatics. Just what Society should be” –Oscar Wilde

I was lucky enough to spend a gorgeous and sunny day exploring London on our last bank holiday. So if you are looking for some inspiration of things to do and see in London then here is a day’s travel guide to adventuring around England’s capital city. We started off in Hyde Park after getting off the train in Marylebone. We then headed to the Tate Britain and the Van Gough exhibition. Westminster was next on the list with Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. Finally, we headed around the beautiful area of Covent Garden. You simply can’t beat the atmosphere of London on a sunny day.

Hyde Park

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We started our walk in the north of the park, as we came out of the Lancaster Gate tube station which is just over the road from Hyde Park. This means you can start your walk in the Italian gardens, which has some beautiful flowers and fountains in it. We walked right down the length of the park, down to the Princess Diana Memorial Garden. This was a beautiful walk, it’s great to be in London but surrounded by green, open space. It’s a lovely walk past the Serpentine river too. For the route we walked, we exited the park very near to Hyde Park Corner tube station. This is a good place to come out if you then need to get a tube after your trip to the park.

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There are so many great spots for a picnic and also some great places for food and drink. There were lots of people renting bikes which I’d love to do in the future. There are a few places throughout the park where you can buy food and drink too. If you know the route you are walking then maybe just check on the map when you get there to see where you could pick something up. We had a coffee and pastry from the Italian Gardens Cafe, which was gorgeous. There are also tables to sit and eat here if you want a stop off and appreciate the Italian Gardens at the same time. The cafe was on the more expensive side for food so if you are on a budget you may want to bear this in mind. The Serpentine Bar and Kitchen also looked like a great food and drink option. It has a fabulous view and is set right on the edge of the river. There are also tables outside which look like a great spot for a sunny day. You can also rent boats on the Serpentine if you are wanting to do a bit of rowing!

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EY Van Gough Exhibition- Tate Britain

The Tate Britain is an art museum which was opened in the Millbank area in 1897. It houses art from 1500 up to the present day. We got to the gallery by getting off the tube at Pimlico station then walking from there. It was only a ten minute walk and the gallery is sign posted which makes it very easy to find.

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This exhibition was brilliant, with a good balance of Van Gough’s work and also information about his life and inspiration for his work. It was wonderful to see his iconic paintings in person. ‘The Starry Night’ is my favourite of his work, but the famous ‘Sunflowers IXXI’ is also a stunning piece.

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The exhibition was extremely busy when we went so bear this in mind when you go in. Some of the paintings were very crowded, but it seemed to get less busy as we progressed through the exhibit rooms.

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Here is a link to the exhibition information if you are wanting to look in to visiting. It is running until the 11th of August, but you have to book your tickets in advance as it’s been a very popular attraction. Also, if you are between the ages of 16-25 you can get in for just £5! I just had to sign up to the ‘Tate Collective Scheme’ on their website, which gives young people discounts on any exhibition. I would’ve paid £22 for a ticket without doing that, so definitely worth doing! You just need age ID when you go in so they can confirm you are between 16-25.

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The architecture of the building is beautiful. There is also a restaurant and cafe inside the museum, we had lunch in the cafe. The food was delicious, but again on the slightly more pricey side. There is also a water machine in the cafe which is handy if you are needing to fill up bottles, sometimes this can be tricky when you’re out and about all day.

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We also had a wander round the other rooms in the Tate Britain outside of the Van Gough exhibition. All of these are free to enter! There was a mix of older works, more modern ones, and also quite a few sculptures funky sculptures.

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This piece below has a very interesting finding to it. Sonia Boyce invited people to come to be photographed in an afro wig. But from sourcing the wigs, she realised they were only available in fancy dress and costume shops as opposed to any of the hair shops in London. She realised this was due to them being used as a trigger of mockery against African-Caribbeans.

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The gift shop had a large range of lovely gifts, all ranging in price. There was everything from books, postcards, clothes and art prints to purchase.

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The Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey and Big Ben

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We walked up to Westminster from the Tate Britain as it was just a short walk up the Thames. We walked past the houses of parliament and Big Ben which is a good walk if you want to experience the busy nature of London! This is also a good spot to visit if you are wanting to visit the classic London tourist spots. Bear in mind if you are visiting at the moment, Big Ben is covered in scaffolding due to the construction and repair work going on.

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This statue of Emmeline Pankhurst is near the Houses of Parliament. Pankhurst was one of the leading figures in the suffragette movement in Britain who fought for women’s rights to vote.

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Covent Garden

Covent Garden has its own tube station so it makes to a very easy location to get to. We travelled from Westminster tube station and with a few changes, it was a pretty easy and quick journey.

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We had a good browse around the covered markets, which are also near to all the other shops. The markets had a lot of vintage jewellery and furniture if you are interested in retro stuff! We aslo saw some really great street performers, from painters to a man doing the limbo which was on fire! If you have time, I would highly recommend stopping to watch some of the acts as there were some brilliant ones. It also creates a lovely atmosphere when everyone gathers around to watch.

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“London is a roost for every bird”- Benjamin Disraeli

This concludes this London day guide! I hope you enjoy your trip if you are visiting soon.

Looking for another city break? Have you seen the wonders that Edinburgh has to offer in my blog post?!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

Let’s be social! Twitter // Pinterest // Bloglovin’

How I Used Pinterest to Boost My Blog Traffic- 5 Top Tips for Creating Engaging Pin Graphics

There is a huge amount of Pinterest advice posts out there with some really fab advice. In the past when reading other posts, I’ve found that it’s hard to work out how people progressed from being a beginner to where they are now with their pins. They show you their current strategies, but not necessarily the progress and steps it takes from getting from the beginner stages. For me, this was the tricky bit! So in this post, I will show you the styles of pins I am currently using and what I’ve found to create successful pins that gain engagement. But I will also be showing my older pins that gained few saves and barely any clicks and what they did not include. I hope that this might help with what you could add to your pins if you feel like you are stuck in a bit of a Pinterest rut!

To give a bit of background, I use the website ‘Canva’ to create my Pinterest graphics. It’s super easy to use, and there are hundreds of Pinterest templates that you can use. This is great for layout inspo but also makes sure that your pins are the best size. The longer pins are known to do better so it’s great that Canva uses this size for templates. Canva also has so many other types of templates if you are wanting to make other graphic content such as headers, logos or social media posts.

Here are my five top tips for making your pins more engaging:

  1. Include Your Website Name/Address 

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This text doesn’t need to be huge, but just a clearly printed name or web address of your website so people know what it’s called and where they will be directed if they click on your pin. If people then realise they enjoy your pins and they all link to the same website, they are more likely to follow you or to visit your blog to see what other content you have to offer.

2. Make it Clear What Your Website is

This can just be a few words to sum up your website, for example on my pins, I simply use ‘travel and lifestyle blog’. This means if the people looking at your pins enjoy this type of content, they are again more likely to visit your website if they like content of this theme.

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3. A Great and Engaging Title

On previous pins I used titles such as ‘The Best of Bergerac’. As catchy as this sounds with the classic use of alliteration, did everyone reading this know that Bergerac is a region in Southern France? No they didn’t. I now use titles such as ‘The Essential Southern France Travel Guide- Bergerac’. This gives a more specific title and means that you are not restricting your audience. It also indicates that the post is travel related, a guide to help people, and specifies the country and region that the post is on. You don’t want to make your titles too long and rambly, just give readers enough information to know the exact topic of the post. I’ve also found that using certain adjectives leads to more engagement. Posts with ‘best’ ‘most’ ‘essential’ etc. tend to better so don’t be afraid to big your posts up in your own pins! At the end of the day, the point of these pins is to encourage people to click on your pins so using persuasive language is a good idea.

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Additionally, you can make multiple pins for the same post to save long rambling titles. For example, I have a post on cruelty free body care and skin care. I have multiple pins for this post, with different titles that are all still relevant to the post, for example: 1‘The Top Cruelty Free Skincare Brands You Must Try’// 2. ‘Cruelty Free Skincare For Blemish Prone Skin’// 3. ‘Cruelty Free Must Have Products’

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The picture below is an older pin. Previously, my pins only used the title ‘cruelty free skincare’ which is not as catchy or engaging and gained far less views and saves. Additionally, I also found that using such a curly styled font made my website name harder to read. I’ve found that simply going through and trying loads of fonts is the best way to find one that suits your pins. Additionally, the pin below is also quite pale in colour, which sometimes is less engaging than bright images. One thing from this pin that I do still use is having a title in the middle and making this text quite large. This makes it quite eye catching if people are seeing it amongst lots of other pins on their screens.

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Here is another old pin for the same post that did not do well and that I would not post now! With this pin, the title is not very clear and gets lost a bit in the bright image. Again, the same goes for the website name. There is also no description of the post’s content.

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The image below is a pin I now use for this blog post so you can see how I changed the ideas from the pin above to create a more engaging one. The one below has received a good amount of link clicks compared to the amount of saves it has.

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4. A Brief Description of the Post’s Content

I’ve found that using a sentence or two briefly describing what the post is about can really boost engagement. It can be really short in small text like the one below. But adding a few more specifics covered  within the post is even better.

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This Iceland pin below describes a few key topics that the post includes within the travel guide. If someone is looking for a travel guide to the Blue Lagoon, it’s likely that they will be a tourist who has perhaps never visited before. So by stating in your pin that your blog post covers information such as prices and what to expect from your first trip, first time visitors are likely to looking for this information and are therefore more likely to read the post.

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5. A Bright and Inviting Photograph/ Background

I’ve found that the brighter and bolder images seem to be more engaging. They get more saves and more clicks. I’ve also found that certain colour backgrounds/text boxes seem to do much better than others! For me, yellow, orange and purple pins seem to do very well. Green pins I’ve found seem to get hardly any clicks and fewer saves! Pink and blue seem to do quite well if they are bright shades. I find that using white text on a brightly coloured text box seems to be a successful graphic style. For me, finding what works for my pins and audience was simply trial and error. One of the most helpful tips I’ve used is create pins that you would click on! I took some time going through pins which I found eye catching and ones that I would click on. I then took inspiration from these and thought about what it was about the pins that drew me to them. Try to work that out and then apply that to your own pins. There’s no point creating graphics that you would not click on yourself.

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I hope this post was helpful if you were in need of some Pinterest inspiration or tips!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

Let’s be social! Twitter // Pinterest // Bloglovin’

Easy and Affordable Ways to Create a More Sustainable and Eco Friendly Beauty Routine

Welcome back folks! I’m becoming more and more interested in making sustainable swaps wherever I can. I’ve found that cosmetic products are some of the easiest items to start swapping for more sustainable ones. The fab fact is that this is very cheap and easy to do! A win win. None of these items are expensive or hard to source either. It makes me realise that making the effort to research more sustainable products really is worth it. These small and easy changes can make such an impact. LUSH estimate that selling their shampoo bars alone saves 6 million plastic bottles globally.

Reusable Cotton Pads

Reusable cotton pads not only save a huge amount of disposable cotton pads but also the plastic packaging they come in. Here is the link on Amazon to the ones that I purchased and love using. They come in a laundry bag which you can wash them in. This also means that they do not come in any plastic packaging, it’s a win win! The pads are made of bamboo and are very soft and gentle to use, they are also a decent enough size, about the same as a large cotton pad. They come out of the washing machine completely clean which I was very impressed by, even if I’ve used them to remove a lot of mascara. Considering I use cotton pads every day, it’s a very simple solution that prevents a large amount of waste.

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Muslin cloths are another great product to use for removing cleansers and face masks etc. as they are another re-usable product that you could use instead of cotton pads.

Makeup Remover Cloths

If you also aware of the single use plastic that makeup remover bottles is using, then you may also want to try out a makeup remover cloth, this saves both cotton pads and plastic bottles, a win win. If you are looking for a cheap one, you can pick them up in Primark for about £1.50. You can also buy them in packs which is great value and means you are fully stocked up in case one is in the wash when you need it.

Non-plastic Cotton Buds

I make sure I buy cotton buds that do not have a plastic stem. Brands such as Johnson’s, Superdrug and Boots all stock paper stemmed cotton buds, just make sure to check the box if you aren’t sure if they are paper or plastic. They are no more expensive than plastic cotton buds which is brilliant. Amazon also stocks a lot of bamboo cotton buds if this is something you are interested in. I use cotton buds a lot in my skincare and makeup routine so again it’s another easy change to make that saves a lot single use plastic.

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Bamboo Toothbrushes

There are many brands and types of non plastic toothbrushes out there, but Bamboogaloo are certainly the game changing brand in the industry. The bamboo used to make the brushes is sustainably sourced as it is Moso bamboo, meaning that it is not the type that pandas rely on to eat! The company are also certified by FSC and ensure fair wages are paid to employees. The charcoal infused bristles are very soft. I also think it’s incredibly innovative that the the packaging is made from recycled cardboard and the brushes are wrapped in ‘bio-wrapper’. The wrappers look like plastic but are actually composed of plant cellulose, meaning they are biodegradable and plant based! They are the only company to be doing this so I think it’s important to support this funky and waste saving design. The toothbrushes also come with 100 free bamboo cotton buds which is a fab deal.

Here is the link to the Bamboogaloo toothbrushes I use, they are £7.49 for a pack of five and the cotton buds which is a brilliant deal considering the sustainability of the brand.

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LUSH shampoo and conditioner bars

One shampoo bar can give you around 100+ washes, and is the equivelant to around three plastic shampoo bottles. Therefore not only can they save you money but also a large amount of plastic. The Montalbano shampoo bar is my top pick, it’s bright yellow and is made with lemon juice, green olives and rosemary so it has a gorgeous citrus scent. Also it takes me months to get through just one of these, so for £7.50 you are getting a hell of a lot of uses for your money. I also purchased the LUSH ‘Round Tin’, which is a little metal tin that you can keep your shampoo bar in. It makes it so easy to travel with it, and stops it getting too damp in the shower between uses. My fave conditioner bar is the scent ‘BIG’ from LUSH, which has a beautiful coconut scent and contains extra virgin coconut oil, organic lemon juice, seaweed and vetivert oil. I have long, thick curly hair and I find this product detangles my curls but also hydrates my hair so my curls fall nicely.

Buy from Brands Utilising Recycled Packaging

Using brands such as LUSH who are doing their best to use recycled packaging is another great way to purchase cosmetics more sustainably. LUSH also take back their pots in store and even the black plastic ones are sent to a green hub where they are washed and used for future packaging. Soaper Duper are also using a large amount of semi-skimmed milk bottles to create their handwash and bodywash bottles. Their products in tubes are 55% PCR and their bodywash is 50% PCR (post-consumer recycled). They have saved around 22 tonnes of plastic since they launched which is remarkable. Ecotools are also using recycled aluminium in their brush handles and the brushes are made from bamboo.

There are so many other swaps that I am still yet to make, I don’t want to recommend products that I have not tried myself. But here are a few more things I would like to start using in the near future:

Metal razor- This means you simply replace the razor heads and the actual razor is long lasting and none of the product is made of plastic.

Menstrual cup- The amount of sanitary product waste from one woman alone is a large amount, but by using a re-usable menstrual cup you can limit this.

Even if you make one sustainable swap, it is a fab start! If you start making changes very slowly it will be far easier and more of an enjoyable process. If you have tried any of thes swaps or have any recommendations for other sustainable brands or products then please let me know!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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Discovering the Wilds of the Scottish Highlands, The Tourist’s Guide to the Applecross Peninsula

Welcome to part two of my Applecross travel series!

Here is part one if you missed it! My first post shows you the journey to Applecross up the Bealach Na Ba, the beautiful cottage we stayed in, and some of the incredible views we enjoyed.

In this second instalment, I share with you the gorgeous beach that was right on our doorstep during our stay. The famous Applecross Inn is also a feature of this post, a must see spot if you are visiting the area!

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This was the pebbled beach that was just beneath the cottage we stayed in (the cottage was just further left of the end of this photo). Clachan Church is the building on the right, which there is photos of further down in this post!

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This was the view from the beach at sunset. The mountains you can see in the photograph below is the Isle of Rasaay which is an island between mainland Scotland and the Isle of Skye.

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Clachan Church

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The church was built in 1817, but stands on the site where the 7th century monastery once stood which was established by the Irish saint ‘Maelrubha’. Maelrubha sailed from Bangor to Scotland in the year 671, and is thought to be responsible for the spread of Christianity in parts of Northern Scotland. If you want to learn any more information and see the interior of the church then this Britain Express page is a helpful place to look.

 

The Famous ‘Applecross Inn’

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The atmosphere in the inn is extremely warm and friendly, it was also lovely to see people visiting from all corners of the world. There is a very funky map inside on the wall where you can put a pin of where you’re from, it was great to see how people have visited from so many countries! We enjoyed drinks here a few times and sat outside to enjoy the lovely views. We also had a meal here which was delicious, the menu was great. There are also rooms available to stay in here if you are looking for accommodation in Applecross. Here is a link to their website if you would like to check it out!

The Silver Bullet

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The silver bullet was just outside of the Applecross Inn. We had some incredible ice creams here, which were home made and there were different flavours every time we went back! The fish and chips were delicious and there were also other drinks etc. you could buy here.

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We saw this deer roaming in this field just along from the Applecross Inn, the building in this photo offers kayaking trips if you fancy doing some water sports whilst you’re in Applecross!

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I hope you enjoyed this second part of my Applecross series, the next part features the Kishorn seafood bar, and some great coastal picnic spots!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

Part one of the Applecross series! Are you wanting more Scotland travel posts? Check out Edinburgh or St Andrews!

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Discovering the Wilds of the Scottish Highlands, Exploring the Applecross Peninsula

Welcome to the first post in my Exploring Applecross series!

The Applecross peninsula is in North West Scotland, only accessible by two roads, and inhabited by only a couple of hundred people. Despite this, it’s one of the most unique and rugged landscapes I have travelled to, with a fascinating and deep routed history which very much still feels alive today when you visit.

In this first  post I share with you; getting to Applecross and venturing up Scotland’s highest road, the beautiful cottage we stayed in, and a first look at the views Applecross Bay has to offer.

Scotland’s Third Highest Road: The Bealach na Bà

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The road is single track, but there are passing places along the way in case you meet another car. You can’t drive at a speed over 30mph, or if the weather conditions are poor. We travelled in a BMW 4×4, so travelling in a large vehicle made the single track element of it even more interesting! It is not advised to drive on the road in a motor home, very large vehicles, or if you are a learner! The road is often closed in the winter months. The road twists and turns through the mountains to 2,054 feet above sea level, and as you can see, the views really are worth it.

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The name of the road is Gaelic for ‘pass of the cattle’. The road was originally built in 1822 and was used as a drovers road to direct cattle from one place to another. The road is engineered similarly to ones in the Alps.

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Cruary: The Cottage Set Amongst the Hills

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This was the beautiful cottage we stayed in, named ‘Cruary’. If you like staying in places with no neighbours anywhere in sight then you would love this cottage! There was nothing but hills and heather behind the house, and the gorgeous view of Applecross Bay that the house looked out on to. This is the spectacular view from the front garden…

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This is another view of the house from behind the house, the building on the left is the shed that also belongs to the owners of ‘Cruary’.

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This is the view from the road before you reach the driveway, the house was only a few minutes drive away from the Applecross Inn, more information and photographs of that famous pub coming in my next Applecross post!

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This was the lovely view from the driveway…

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The first set of buildings you can see across the bay on the left is where the Applecross Inn is located.

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The photo below gives you a feel of the decor in the house, it was very cosy. If you are interested in looking at the house in more detail, there is a link to more information here.

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We spent most of our time in the open plan kitchen of the house as the large glass windows look out on to the bay. The house was built in the 18th century but has been extended since. The house sleeps up to four people, with two bedrooms and one bathroom. The rooms were all very spacious. The house was very well stocked, the kitchen supplies we needed were all there, there was also plenty of items such as towels etc. A great thing that came with the house was a pair of binoculars, it was great being able to use them and look in detail at the wildlife and scenery that surrounded the cottage. There was also a large collection of information books and leaflets on things to do in the area and the history of Applecross. The house is pet friendly too. An important feature of the house is there is no wifi, it was actually really lovely to live without wifi for a week, I read a lot of books during this trip!

Speaking of wildlife, here is one chap who also enjoys making use of Cruary’s garden…

Martin the Pine Marten

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This fellow, who we named Martin during our stay, visited every evening and seemed to be particularly fond of peanut butter on toast. He was very interesting to watch, he seemed to enjoy climbing on our car too!

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There were lots of birds that came to the garden too, as well as a couple of mice who would feed on the birdseed.

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If you look closely, you can see the cottage on the right hand side of this picture, it really shows off ow wonderfully it was located!

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Here is a link to the Applecross peninsula website which has a lot of helpful information if you are thinking of visiting! My next post will have lots of photos and information about things to do when visiting Applecross, including the Applecross Inn, great walks on the beach and the interesting history of the church. Keep an eye out for this post next Saturday!

Also, if you are looking to explore any other areas of Scotland, here is a link to my post all about the gorgeous town of St Andrews. I also have a tourist guide to Edinburgh if city breaks are more your style!

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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A Winter’s Week in St Andrews: The Scottish Town That Will Capture Your Heart

Happy Sunday everyone, today’s travel post is all about the incredible town of St Andrews, a perfect destination no matter the weather. My family and I spent a beautiful week staying here, a place we have all loved and have grown up adoring. If you appreciate beaches, harbours, and gorgeous sunsets, all set in a historic and scenic setting, then you will fall in love with St Andrews!

The Castle Sands and Harbour

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The town of St Andrews is on the East coast of Scotland, North of Edinburgh, and about a half hour drive away from the city of Dundee (which is also worth a visit if you are in the area). St Andrews is famous for its golf courses, St Andrews University, and its idyllic coastal setting. The town is perfect for a day trip if you enjoy walking and learning about Scotland’s history, but it also makes a great holiday if want to take a longer trip.

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The house we were staying in was right behind the sea front on North Castle Street, right by ‘The Scores’, the famous street that runs along the St Andrews sea front. Due to being a popular tourist destination, there is a huge variety of accommodation to pick from in St Andrews, from hotels, houses, and bed and breakfasts. We found that staying near the centre was great as we were near to Market Street, this is the high street where there are lots of shops and good places to eat and drink. But we were also very near the beaches and the coastal walks.

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We went for a brisk walk along to the harbour every morning of our trip, the house was also just a couple of minutes walking distance from the harbour, a great place to see the town awakening each morning after the sunrise. Almost every morning we saw herons down on the rocks by the harbour, incredibly majestic animals which were fascinating to watch. My Uncle managed to take this incredible photograph of one of them!

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The photo below shows the coastal path that you can follow right along from the Scores, along side the cliffs to the harbour, there are benches and tourist information boards along the way. It makes a great place to bring a picnic in the summer, but even in winter it was still very enjoyable.

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The West Sands Beach

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The West Sands is just a 15 minute walk from the town centre, and if you’ve seen the film ‘Chariots of Fire’ you will recognise this beach from the opening scene. The beach is about 2 miles long and is very close to the famous ‘Old Course’ which is a very popular tourist destination for golf fans, especially in the summer months. The beach makes a serene and peaceful walk, even if there are other people around it still feels this way. There is parking at the beach, and the golf museum and toilets are also close by.

 

St Andrews Cathedral

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Despite our many trips to St Andrews, we had never visited St Andrews Cathedral, and it was well worth the visit! The cathedral, now in remains, was once Scotland’s biggest cathedral and most important church. The museum has some extremely interesting artefacts and information boards, dating from early medieval times. St Rule’s church (on the cathedral site) is estimated to have been built in 1130, and the cathedral begun in 1160. It was finally complete in 1318, Robert the Bruce was present for this momentous occasion in Scotland’s history.

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Here is a link to the Visit Scotland website which has more information about the cathedral if you are planning a visit. The staff who worked in the museum and gift shop here were also very helpful.

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We climbed to the top of St Rules’ Tower, which can be seen the photo above, it is about 33m tall. It was an extremely narrow and steep climb but the view at the top was certainly worth the hike. You get a panoramic view of the town, and all the way out to sea. The weather was lovely on the day we went so the sun made the view even more glorious. There is a fee to pay in order to visit the cathedral, but it is not expensive, and you can also get a discount if you get a ticket to visit St Andrews Castle which is just down the road.

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The East Sands Beach

The East Sands is also just along from the harbour and is a very short walk from the town centre. You can also get a great view of St Andrews castle from here, and to the West Sands in the distance. This beach is usually quieter due to it being a bit rockier and further from the town centre, so if you want an even more peaceful beach to stop off at and watch the seabirds then this spot is ideal.

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This photo was taken just outside of the house we were staying in and shows St Andrews Castle, we did not visit the castle on this trip but it looks like another great place to go if you are visiting St Andrews. There is more information about the castle on the Visit Scotland website which can be found here.

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Hope you’re having a great day wherever you are in the world, and that you get to experience St Andrews and all it has to offer. Let me know if you have ever visited!

Mol x

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Strong Women of the World- Four Incredible Stories to be Inspired by

As someone who has always had easy access to an education, and growing up in a safe environment, it’s always been important to me to be aware that this is not the case for many people across the world. The four stories below are those of bravery, determination, and the wish to improve the lives for both themselves, and the people around them. They come from women who are alive today, to those who were alive during the period of the Second World War, and those who were alive during the prime of the Civil Rights Movement. Their stories come from North America, The Netherlands, North Korea, and Pakistan. These stories do not become less prevalent as time goes on, they only become more significant. I hope you take something away from each of these incredible stories.

I am Malala– Malala  Yousafzai

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Malala was born in Mingora, Pakistan, on the 12th of July 1997. Her father ran a school for girls in the village they lived in, he was also a teacher. The Taliban rule spread to the Swat Valley, where Malala and her family lived. In 2008, the extremists began to ban things such as playing music, owning a TV, and soon enough, girls were not allowed to go to school.

Malala began speaking out on the behalf of all the other girls who had a right to be educated, this made her a threat to the Taliban and a major target. In October 2012, she was shot in the head and woke up 10 days later in Birmingham, England.

Despite the trauma that Malala experienced, she remains heavily involved in fighting for equality, and now lives with her family in the UK. She is currently studying at the University of Oxford. In 2014, she was the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Her book is extremely interesting, especially to hear about what it was like to live under the rule of the Taliban, and to have to watch many of the people and things you love be gradually taken away from you.

The Dairy of a Young Girl– Anne Frank

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I’m sure most people are familiar with the story of Anne Frank, and her book ‘The Diary of a Young Girl’. Anne Frank, her family, and four other of their friends, went in to hiding  in July 1942. Due to being Jewish, they were hiding to escape the Nazi occupation and hid in the back of a warehouse in Amsterdam, in what is known as the ‘Secret Annexe’. Anne’s book is a published edition of the diary that she kept for the two years she was in hiding. Hearing of someone of such a young age, who dreamed of being a published author, tell the story of the struggles of being terrified and stuck in one small place for two years, creates an extremely vivid picture of the horrors of living as a Jew under the rule of the Nazis.

The last entry Anne writes is on the 1st August 1944, they were discovered by the Nazis and arrested on the 4th of August, just three days after the last entry. Anne died in March 1945 in the German concentration camp of Bergen Belsen. She was only fifteen years old.

As well as reading her book, I would highly recommend visiting the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, it is also an incredibly touching experience. Seeing the bookcase that concealed their hiding place for so long, and standing in the small rooms, imagining what Anne and the others felt like, was incredibly sad but an important way of remembering what so many people went through during the Second World War.

My Story Rosa Parks

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Rosa Parks was a black woman, born in Alabama, North America, 1913.

The 1st of December, 1955. On this day, Rosa refused to give up her seat on a segregated bus to a white man, she was arrested for this. This one act of bravery sparked the Montgomery, Alabama bus boycott. The boycott began on Monday the 5th of December, this was the day of Parks’ trial, there were over 35,000 flyers created and sent home with black school children, telling their parents of the boycott.

The boycott didn’t end until the 20th of December, when the Supreme Court rules bus segregation as unconstitutional. Parks lost her job and experienced frequent harassment, and became known as the mother of the civil rights movement.

Rosa’s book details her life, and her drive to fight for racial equality.

In Order to Live Yeonmi Park

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Yeonmi Park was just thirteen when her and her family risked their lives by fleeing North Korea. She describes the horrors of living in such an oppressed regime, and the starvation and terror that never leaves. She also tells of her journey across the Gobi desert, her struggles of escaping to China, being separated from her family, and how she ends up in South Korea after all this. I think this resonated me with due to being a similar age to Yeonmi, her story shows incredible resilience and strength.

I hope each of these stories inspires you and that you take something from each of them.

Hope you are having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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The Cotswold Lavender Farm

“It always seems to me as if the lavender was a little woman in a green dress, with a lavender bonnet and a white kerchief. She’s one of those strong, sweet, wholesome people, who always rest you, and her sweetness lingers long after she goes away”- Myrtle Reed

Despite the days now being crisp, cold and very autumnal, I think a bit of sunshine and lavender can still be appreciated outside of the summer months. This post is all about the Cotswold Lavender Farm, a brilliant visit which is not too far from where I live.

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The farm is on the outskirts of a small idyllic village called Snowshill (if you get to visit and are new to the area  then there are brown tourist signs with directions). The nearest train station is in Moreton on Marsh, which you can get a taxi from if you are not driving, Moreton is also a lovely place to visit. The farm is also only about two miles from the town of Broadway, which is a gorgeous and very traditional looking Cotswolds town, if you want to combine it to make the most of visiting the beauty of the area. There are directions on their website if you need them too.

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The method used to distil the lavender oil is both a simple and traditional method. The crop is harvested and collected in a trailer. Collected rainwater that is heated to steam is then put into the trailer through pipes. The oil from the lavender evaporates in to the steam due to the intense heat and is then piped in to a condenser, where cold rainwater is then used to return the product to an oil state. After being put in to a separator to divide the water and oil, the oil is then collected.

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The shop and tea room are closed over the winter months, but are certainly worth a visit in the summer, set in a classic stone barn. The online shop is available to use all year round. There is a huge range of lavender products, from the plant itself, to bath and body products, oils, candles, and even lavender chocolate!

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The vibrant purple tones of the lavender have been growing here since 1999. There is an incredible 500,000 plants on this farm alone, and 40 varieties within these. The lavender is cut and the oil distilled on the same day, and is then aged for a year before use.

There is also a variety of wildflowers that appear in the Spring throughout the fields, such as cornflowers and poppies. Chamomile is also a new edition to what is being harvested here, used in tea and similar to lavender, can help you sleep.

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Hope you’re having a great day wherever you are in the world,

Mol x

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