Exploring the Jurassic Coast

“The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul” – Wyland

Travelling to new countries is one of the most exciting and fulfilling experiences you can have, however, exploring the country you are already in, is also an experience to make the most of. The Jurassic Coast is somewhere I had never been until this trip. Spending a few days by the coast was extremely refreshing.

The Jurassic Coast covers the stretch of coastline in Southern England from Exmouth in the county of Devon, to Studland Bay in the county of Dorset. On this trip we explored Lyme Regis, Chesil Beach, Durdle Door, and West Bay. Having mostly explored the Scottish coast due to many a holiday up North, it was lovely to be able to experience the brilliance of the sea and the skies down in the South of England.

West Bay

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West Bay, or Bridport Harbour, was a small and sleepy seaside town, we mainly visited to see the beach and the cliffs, which you may recognise if you were a fan of the BBC drama Broadchurch (would highly recommend it). The dramatic shape of the sandstone cliffs was one of the locations for the programme and was a lovely beach walk, it was great to be able to look up at the magnificent cliff face whilst being below on the shore. We also ran up the slope of the cliff to get the view from the very top, which was so peaceful being able to see the ocean for as far as the eye could see. As you can see from the photos, if you go early in the morning or later in the day, the sun and the shadows make for a great photography spot. The cloudy weather actually also made for some fab photos.

“To go out with the setting sun on an empty beach is to truly embrace your solitude” – Jeanne Moreau

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Lyme Regis

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Lyme Regis is how I think of a classic British seaside location. Think fish and chips on the seafront, ice cream cones, and beach huts with doors the colours of pick ‘n mix. We went to Lyme’s Fish Bar for our lunch, and got a classic ’99 with a flake from one of the cute little tea rooms. There’s nothing better than eating outside and listening to the waves crash against the pebbles on the shore. This would be a lovely day out for anyone of any age.

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Chesil Beach

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Chesil beach is an 18 mile long beach and goes from Portland all the way to West Bay, this was very near to where we were staying in Portland.

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Durdle Door

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“Our memories of the ocean will linger on, long after our footprints in the sand are gone” – Anonymous

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Durdle Door is one of the most iconic coastal features in the Dorset area, it was designated England’s first natural World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2001 and is also classed as a natural wonder. This archway was created by the limestone being eroded by the sea, the word ‘durdle’ originated from the word ‘thirl’ which means ‘to pierce’.

This was one of the highlights of the trip, again another lovely beach walk, there were hardly any other visitors there when we went even though it’s a very popular tourist attraction. Many of these coastal features we visited also had really interesting information boards so you could learn more about how they were created.

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Old Harry’s Rock

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The final coastal feature of the trip, and another UNESCO World Heritage Site located at the most Eastern point of the Jurassic Coast. As you can see, Old Harry is a stack out at sea, composed of chalk. The National Trust manage this site and there is a walking route of about 3.5 miles which you can do if you want a walk and a view!

Until 1896, there was also Old Harry’s Wife, a stump, but she was completely eroded in to the ocean so now Old Harry stands alone.

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“After a visit to the beach, it’s hard to believe that we live in a material world”– Pam Shaw

It was lovely to be able to spend so much time outside and on the coast, I find it very relaxing being by the water, this would be a great trip if you love walking and the outdoors!

Thanks for reading, hope you’re having a fab day where ever you are

Mol x

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The Best of Bergerac: The French Market Towns You Will Fall in Love With

Welcome back to my Best of Bergerac series, the final instalment is here gang! So far we’ve covered the fabulous food, and some of the more rural scenery, today I am sharing with you the two market towns which made our trip; Duras and Eymet. So if you love a bit of travel photography and an insight into somewhere new, grab a coffee and enjoy. 

Duras

Duras was only about a 10 minute drive from the village of Taillecavat where our villa was located, so we went to this town frequently over the two weeks we were in Bergerac. Everything we needed was here…

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This display of flower bouquets just sums up how gorgeous the market stalls are!

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(This photo above is of the BEST restaurant we have ever eaten in, and yes that is a big claim, there are more details in part one of this series if you want to hear about the place with the best food and the shots of gin they give you between courses! Find it here!)

Duras is a truly beautiful and quaint little French town, think cobbled streets and brilliantly bright shutters. To me, this town is like the ones you think of when you imagine a classically authentic French town.

The town comes alive on market days, it was fascinating to see how it transforms from seeming like a small sleepy settlement, to a hub of  excitement. Suddenly, the colours brighten, the cafes liven up, and scents of spices, cheese, fresh fruit, and pastries fill the warm air.

The locals are out and catching up over a coffee, while the ex-pats are also out in force and making the most of the sunshine.

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The chateau placed grandly on the hill behind the market streets acts as a splendid backdrop for the event (the tallest building you can see in the background of this photograph).

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There is something more exciting about buying fresh food from a local who makes their livelihood from selling their delicious produce at markets like these, compared to buying it from a supermarket. As you can see from this garlic display above, the rustic displays make it all look even more appealing. Any fruit of vegetable you can imagine was on offer at the market. Huge selections of cheeses were also displayed, wheels of yellow and white, and the roast chicken cooked fresh on the rotisserie also smelt incredibly inviting!

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This was a small charity clothes shop just off of the main market streets, again everything seems so full of colour, everything about this town feels vibrant and full of life.

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Another great feature of the markets is that so many of the food stalls give out free samples, who doesn’t love a freebie, especially one you can eat?! A discovery we have made over a few trips to Southern France is that fresh olives are fab when you buy them from a market stall than a shop. Olive tapenade is one of the best things we’ve ever bought from the market, it’s a type of savoury dip made from olives, we’ve also tried one made from sun-dried tomatoes before which was perhaps even better! Pair it with a fresh baguette and this is something you must try if you see it abroad.

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One evening we went to the night market in Duras, it was around 38 degrees Celsius, I have never felt heat like it! The covered square that is in the centre of the market was lined with tables and chairs, we decided to go so we could try even more of the delicious food. We bought a selection of dishes from various stalls to share between all of us. We tried the calamari, olive and anchovy pizza, this was beautiful because it was fresh and made there and then. We also tried what we think was some sort of sausage curry, our lack of French meant we were not completely sure what exactly we were trying at times, this actually made it even more exciting!

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Eymet

Eymet was slightly further out from our villa so we only visited once, which was to go to the night market. We had stayed near this town on previous trips to France so we knew it was somewhere we wanted to re-visit.

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The street art on this building gives a very striking entrance to the market, it made me think of Paris with its romantic artwork and flower lined balconies. The town dates from 1270, as you can see, the old buildings with their slanted beams and slightly wonky roofs ensure that the town maintains its original character.

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There was also another huge selection of food at this market, mussels and chips seemed to be the most popular option! The pizza was also available from the same people from the Duras market, another firm favourite.

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The crepes from this cute little stall were the BOMB. If you want to hear more about them and the other incredible food we ate on this trip then this is also featured in part one of this series!

This display of greenery and flowers was outside one of the houses on one of the side streets…

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This is a view of the River Dropt, a tributary to the Garonne river, which runs on the outskirts of the town. This was taken from the little bridge above where lots of people were sat feeding the birds and enjoying their food from the market.

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And that marks the end of the Best of Bergerac series, France you have been fabulous! (Wow you’d think I’d at least be a little bit tanned but clearly not).

If you have not visited the South of France I would highly recommend putting Bergerac and the Aquitaine region on your travel bucket list!

Credits to my Uncle as he took a lot of the photos featured in this post! Check out his Instagram for some incredible photography @spresly

Thank you so much for reading, have you seen part one and part two of this series?!

Part One: The Ultimate French Holiday Food Guide

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Part Two: Sunsets, Sunflowers and the BEST Villa

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Hope you are having a fab day where ever you are,

Mol x

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The Ultimate University Guide: Advice on Moving into Student Accommodation

All those of you who are starting university this year will be moving into your student accommodation in a few weeks’ time so I thought this would be the perfect time to start my university series here on my blog, as I was in the same position a year ago! I am now going in to my second year at the University of Birmingham, where I study English Language.

It seems like a good idea to start with the first main part of the ‘uni experience’ now that you have got your place confirmed, and this is moving in! Looking back now, it is actually quite a strange concept, moving to a brand new city, into a flat you’ve never seen before, with several people you have never met before, so it’s perfectly normal to feel like this is a very daunting experience!

I’ve put together 5 tips for moving in that ensure your moving in experience will be as easy and enjoyable as possible…

1.Get the move in date in your diary NOW

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This was the view from my room!

Firstly, make sure your move in day is in your calendar and that whoever is taking you and all your stuff up to university has it in their calendar too. Your university accommodation should have emailed you to say what day you can move in from, there may be a specific time frame too as this makes it easier so not everyone moves in at the exact same time! If you are anything like me, and who ever is taking you does not always work in the country or on a 9-5 schedule, then make sure as soon as you know your move in date, you tell them when they need to be around! You want to make this process as stress free as possible and you don’t want to realise at the last minute that you have enough stuff to fill a large 4×4 car (lol I did) and nobody to help you get there! Most people I know didn’t take their cars up in first year, if you are near the centre of a large city like I was, then it’s probably more of a burden than a help, but consider this before you go.

2. Pack your stuff up as logically as you can

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We split up all the stuff I was taking into the different rooms it would be going in: kitchen, bedroom and bathroom (I was lucky enough to have an en-suite). This just makes it a lot easier, as you won’t be having to go between rooms with loads of bags and wondering why you packed your toothbrush in with your fairy liquid, and your salt and pepper in with your pyjamas. Laundry bags or Ikea bags were what we used to bag it all up, would 10/10 recommend you use these! They are big enough that you can fit lots in them, but don’t fill them so full that you can’t lift them. My flat was on the second floor of my student accommodation and because this is student halls we’re talking about, there isn’t a lift so bear this in mind in case you have a trek up a lot of stairs. Your halls should have parking very nearby so it shouldn’t be too far a distance to carry everything.

3. Bring the personal stuff as well as the practical stuff

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Obviously you do need to bring all the practical things for your student survival, the pots and pans and laundry detergent and stationary galore. But also remember that this little space is going to be your home for an academic year (I say academic year as we know it’s not an actual year, because uni holidays are long WOOHOO). I printed off so many photos, and luckily there was a big pin board in my room when I got there which I filled entirely, throughout the year I also ended up sticking them on my walls and I also had a lot of postcards up on another wall, so take anything like this that you think will make the space feel like yours!

If you are also in two minds about taking too many little bits and bobs for your room, for example I took picture frames, my mini cactus’s and various other trinkets, take them! I took a few too many as my room was very small (don’t expect your room to be big!) and my parents just took them back home again in the car after we had unpacked. It’s better taking too much than not taking enough and then feeling like your room is bare and not your own.

4. Socialise!

You are likely to be moving in on the same day as your flatmates so make sure you speak to them and introduce yourself! Everyone will be busy unpacking and saying goodbye to people but you can all chat and start getting to know each other once you feel like you’ve got yourself organised. If you are nervous about meeting your flatmates, just remember that everyone else is in exactly the same boat! It will make you feel a lot better if you start introducing yourselves as it will make you start feeling a lot more comfortable after your parents (or whoever has dropped you off) leave, as you’ll know a little bit more about who you are living with. Even if you are feeling nervous, be polite and friendly and it might help to tell people that you feel a bit anxious, it is likely they’ll be feeling it too! Also it sounds a bit odd, but if you leave your room door open, when people are walking past or arriving it shows that you’re not shutting yourself away in your room and means people will tend to look in and it’s a very easy way to start chatting to people!

5. Familiarise yourself with the area you will be living in

After I had unpacked everything, before my parents drove home we decided to go for a little drive around the area. We drove from my accommodation to my uni and back again, which was about a 10 minute drive each way, this was so helpful because it meant that I knew how to get to uni and also where the bus stops were, both for getting to the university and to the city centre. Also, something I found helpful was that when we did this drive, I filmed a time lapse of where we were going on my phone so that if I forgot the first couple of times where I was meant to get off the bus, or if I was walking the right way, I could just look back at the video and check! Luckily there was an Aldi a couple of minutes walk away, and a few other shops opposite our halls, but if you want to do the same for seeing where your closest shop or doctor is etc. then go for a little explore! Feeling a bit more familiar with the area you are can make you feel so much better. I know for me, moving from a village to one of the UK’s biggest cities, it felt very overwhelming but familiarising the area makes it somehow feel a little smaller and a lot more manageable.

Thanks for reading, if you are heading off to university then good luck, I hope this was helpful!

Hope you are having a fab day wherever you are,

Mol x

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The Best of Bergerac, Part Two: Sunsets, Sunflowers and the BEST villa

“The French air cleans up the brain and does good – a world of good.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Welcome to the second instalment of ‘The Best of Bergerac’ series! Please visit my previous post if you would like to see some of the incredible French food and restaurants we visited on this trip (including the best restaurant we have ever been to, yes it was that good!)

This time round we’re focusing on the dreamy scenery that Southern France has to offer and also the incredible villa that we called home for two weeks.

But let’s start with the wonder that was the sunflower fields because they were such a brilliant photo spot…

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“The road to freedom is bordered with sunflowers” – Martin Firrell

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Most of these beautiful sunflowers were almost as tall as me and I am quite a tall gal!

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“Keep your face to the sunshine and you cannot see the shadow. It’s what sunflowers do” – Helen keller

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It was lovely to be in a field filled with tones of sunshine and burnt orange, sunflowers are one of my favourite flowers and being in a place surrounded by fields and endless rows of them was perfect. This specific field was on the outskirts of a town called Eymet which was about a half hour drive away from where we were staying, but the the whole area around Bergerac was covered in sunflower fields too.

The BEST villa

Le Bonheur, Taillecavat, Aquitaine, Southern France

The name of the house which translates to ‘happiness’ just sums up how stunning this villa was, a beautiful 18th century restored farmhouse in the rural village of Taillecavat. There was very few houses in the village, most houses in the area looked like they were attached too the farms as the main business in the area is sunflowers and the vineyards used for wine. The villa was about a 40 minute drive from Bergerac airport, we hired a car from the airport with the company Avis, so the journey was so easy and enjoyable on the route through the sunflowers and vineyards.

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The striking contrast between the sapphire of the shutters and outside details against the scarlet flowers made the villa look so vibrant, it really was the perfect summer escape. There were various colours and sizes of salamanders that would climb up the stone exterior and explore on the veranda which is not something we ever see in the UK!

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This was the garden of the villa, which looked out on to the vineyards. Also the building which you can vaguely see in the distance was a boulangerie, we went here every morning at 8am to collect our fresh croissants, pain au chocolat (these were my faves) and a baguette of course. Monsieur and Madam Raymond who owned the boulangerie did not speak English which made each morning collection even more authentically French, we actually liked that they let us try out our speaking skills (which were sadly lacking on my part, luckily my Grandpa had us covered).

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Just look at the pool… what I would do to be back here! We got up every morning and did 50 lengths before breakfast, every day I did 150 or 200 lengths which for me is pretty impressive! The weather for most of our two weeks was as high as 37 degrees Celsius so we spent a lot of time in here cooling off and reading our books by the poolside.

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This picture is of the vineyards that were just outside of the villa, we did try some of the grapes but they were extremely sour and obviously are better off for wine than eating on their own!

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The mist across the fields in the morning at about 6am was mesmerising, the sunsets and sunrises were also stunning, the open space creates plains of shadows where colours would change so rapidly. We also witnessed a pretty cool thunder storm on our last night, watch the lightning forks strike across the fields was also a very exciting experience.

More sunset exploring just outside of the villa…

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This picture also shows one of the coolest experiences with nature I have ever had! These murmurations of starlings would pass over the villa and the fields each night at about 9pm, the noise was intensely loud, you could hear each of their wings beating, it was breath taking to watch.

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These gorgeous fellas were in a field made out of what used to be a moat surrounding a large house, just a couple of minutes drive from the villa. They were incredibly friendly and seemed to really enjoy the carrots that we brought them, I never realised donkeys were this cute!!

Some of the photos in this post were taken by my Uncle who is a fab photographer so credit to him! His Instagram is @spresly if you want to see any of his amazing photography!

Have you seen part one and part three of this series?!

Part One: The Ultimate French Holiday Food Guide

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Part Three: The French Market Towns You Will Fall in Love With

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Thank you so much for reading, hope you enjoyed this post and are having a fab day wherever you are,

Mol x

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The Best of Bergerac: The Ultimate French Holiday Food Guide

Bonjour from the UK!

I’ve now landed back in rainy England after the most incredible holiday in the Aquitaine region of Southern France. After sitting down and looking at all my holiday snaps and places I’ve been exploring, I’ve realised that we packed so much into our 10 day trip that one post may not be enough to share the beauty of Bergerac with y’all. So this is the first post which is dedicated to one of the BEST things about visiting France, the incredible food!

Who doesn’t love wine, croissants and French patisserie delights, am I right folks?

I have broken this post down into the three French towns that we spent the most time in, enjoy!

1. Duras:

Don Camillo- The prettiest place for a drink and a rest

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Orangina always tastes better in France, definitley my drink of choice for the majority of this holiday!

We came here a few times after visiting the Duras market as it is in the square just beside the hustle and bustle of the rows of market stalls (more on this in my next post which will be coming soon!)

We never actually had a meal here but the pizzas that they were serving looked delicious and seemed to be high in demand!

 

Hostellerie des Ducs- Our favourite restaurant (possibly ever!)

The first time we came here was for lunch and we loved it so much that we also had dinner on our last evening here too, such a fab way to end the holiday. Wait until you see the food!

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Even the table settings were gorgeous…

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Before our starters we were given a selection of amuse-bouche, these are bite sized starters you eat before your meal. These included tiny buns with fresh smoked salmon, cheese and chutney crackers with walnut, and tomato bread which were such a lovely touch to the meal.

Fresh lobster- starter

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Tuna steak with avocado and salad garnish- starter

(You can probably tell that me and my family love a bit of seafood!)

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After our starters we were given a small shot glass filled with sorbet and a shot of gin! Apparently this was to cleanse the palette before our main courses, it was incredibly strong but if you are a gin lover then you’re in your element!

Roast duck with poached pear and carrot tart- main course

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Not only did the food look and taste incredible but the aesthetic of the restaurant was lush too. (I didn’t take any photos inside when we were eating as it was not the kind of place where people were using phones or cameras)

There is the most gorgeous display of flowers outside on the terrace where we were served our coffees at the end of our meal, which came with a mini crème brûlée each much to my delight!

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Even the more simple dishes came so beautifully presented… Ananas- fresh pineapple and sorbet- dessert

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The palm leaves hanging over the white wash walls and the rustic shutters on the terrace added even more to the summer vibes of this lovely place…

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Lemon tart served with lemon sorbet and merangue with a candied lemon slice – dessert

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Coffee choux bun and cream served with coffee ice cream and merangue- dessert

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This was about the tenth trip to Southern France that my family and I have taken so we have eaten out in a large range of French restaurants but we all agreed that this was the best we’d ever eaten at in France, perhaps even in general!

2. Eymet:

Eymet Night Market: Crêpes

How can you go to France and not have a crêpe?!

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My flavour of choice was La Chocolat, divine! My family also had L’Aciduleé (lemon and sugar) and La Miel (honey) and really enjoyed these also!

 

3. Monségur:

Les Colonnes- The Pizzeria that you MUST try

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The pizza I chose was La Rein- a cheese and tomato base with olives and mushrooms, which was freshly made and the base was incredibly thin and crispy. We also shared a salad and home made chips between us which were also delicious. They had a lot of other choice as well as their amazing pizzas, my family also recommend the calzone and the chicken burger!

My next post will have more pictures of the stunning French scenery from the vineyards and sunflower fields to the market scenes and the beautiful villa we stayed in so look out for that!

Thanks so much for reading, please let me know if you enjoyed this post! Also let me know if you have any similar posts about holidays and food you loved this summer!

Have you seen part two and three of this series?!

Part Two: Sunflowers, Sunsets and the BEST Villa

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Part Three: The Market Towns You Will Fall in Love With

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Au revoir!

Mol x

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Travel Essentials: What’s on my Summer Holiday Packing List

In just two days time I am flying out to Bergerac in the South of France for a ten day trip, so I have been starting to round up all the products that I am loving at the moment in preparation for the holiday pack.

These are products that I have been summer lovin’, are easy to travel with, and will be fab even in the heat of the Dordogne summer.

1. Fragrance and Nail Polish…

Things you should pack in your summer holiday suitcase!

Fragrance-  Jo Malone Blackberry and Bay // £45

This is my all time favourite perfume. It’s such a fresh scent, made up of blackberries, bay leaves and cedar wood, and it lasts all day so what more do you want! The bottle is also so beautifully minimal, this is the 30 ml size which does surprisingly last me a long time, but is so slim and easy to travel with.

Nail Polish Gelly Hi Shine in the shade Damson // £3.99

I love having bright nails in the summer and this electric blue comes out exactly how it looks in the bottle, if you use a base coat and top coat it usually lasts me a few days too or a bit longer on my toes, which suits me as I like to change up my nail colour pretty often on holiday.

 

2. Accessories…

Phone case- Coconut Lane palm print phone case // £14

I am in love with this print and due to it being my first order with Coconut Lane they gave me 50% OFF! My order arrived in a gorgeous pink metallic parcel, a really lovely touch and this would make a fab gift. The case is so lightweight and does not take away from the sleek look of your phone. There are also lots of other products like makeup bags and travel tags in this beautiful print if you are a traveller who loves matching accessories, then head on over to their website boys and girls, because they got ya covered.

Coconut Lane, Pretty Little Thing, ASOS

Jewellery- Pretty Little Thing gold necklace // £8

This came in a layered set with two other necklaces which are also lovely but I do not wear them as often as this one. The length is adjustable and I have been wearing this almost everyday so I know I will certainly get the wear of it with my holiday outfits. Pretty Little Thing have loads of different layered necklace sets, I definitely want to order a few more for my jewellery stash.

Things you should pack in your summer holiday suitcase!

Sunglasses- ASOS round sunglasses in tort // £10

They feel a lot more expensive than £10, they’re great at blocking out the sun and are also great at keeping your hair out of your face. I love the combination of the mirrored blue and the beautiful tortoise pattern, something a lil’ different.

 

3. Skincare…

Travel skincare

Face mist- Mario Badescu facial spray with aloe, cucumber and green tea // £7

I simply use this on my face if I feel a need a bit of a refresh so I think I’ll use this a lot on holiday. It has a very fresh scent and it makes my skin feel cooler, but also makes your makeup look a bit fresher so is ideal for on the go. I’ve also been using this before and after I do my makeup and it’s been great for that too, it definitely makes my skin look more dewy.

The Body Shop, cruelty free bodycare

Body Lotion- The Body Shop Fijian water lotus body lotion // £10

This is a very light cream so it sinks in quickly to the skin. The scent is tricky to describe if you can’t imagine what water lotus smells like, but is fresh and fairly subtle, definitely give this a go if you are in The Body Shop.

 

4. Sun Protection…

Sun Protection for the Face- Garnier UV water protection spray // £8

This is the only sun cream I will use on my face, it’s light, non-greasy and doesn’t break me out like most others do.  You also can’t see it on your face so you don’y have to worry about getting that ghost like face that lets be honest, nobody wants!

Things you should pack in your summer holiday suitcase!

Body sun cream- Nivea Moisturising Sun Spray // £6

Not much to say about this other than it’s a high factor and does the job for protecting my skin, it doesn’t make me feel greasy and it’s water resistant which is great as I’m going to be swimming a lot when we’re in France.

5. Hair care…

Things you should pack in your summer holiday suitcase!

Hair oil- Garnier Ultimate Blends coconut hair oil // £6.65

Having thick curly hair in the summer can be a slight challenge, also known as a frizzy nightmare so if you have similar hair to me, I feel your pain folks. Most of the time I just stick it up in a bun and hope for the best. But on the days where I would like to wear it down and make myself look slightly presentable, this product saves my hair. It makes it look shiny and defines the curls which means there is less frizz, it also smells DIVINE. I use the shampoo and conditioner in this range also (which are working wonders for my hair) and it leaves my hair with a subtle coconut scent which I think is a great holiday scent.

Hairbrush- Tangle Teezer wet detangler brush in lilac and mint // £11

I now use this on both wet and dry hair and it makes brushing my hair so much easier! The brush glides through wet hair so easily and I was also surprised at how shiny it maes my hair when I use it on dry hair too! Also the pastel colour is lush for the summer, wish I’d discovered this years ago!

Please let me know if you have any products that are a must when you are travelling or on your holidays!

(All paintings used as backgrounds are painted by me)

Thanks for reading, hope you’re having a fab day wherever you are,

Mol x

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Why We Need to Stop Apologising for Being Pale

This is not a post to tell you to ditch the St Tropez and for everyone to start sporting the porcelain look. Don’t get me wrong, being tanned is a huge confidence boost and having a natural skin tone that is not pale or white is fab also. But for us pale ones, when in the summer especially, it feels like you shouldn’t show any part of your body if it’s looking a bit white and isn’t tanned, then it can be tricky to be confident embracing pale skin.

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If you are as pale as I am, aka. always the palest foundation shade, and if not paler, you will understand why this pressure we seem to have created to have a glowing tan, is quite frankly a struggle at its best. The ‘Kardashian look’ seems to be one that more and more people are striving for and idolising, especially young females. But is this realistic? Is having the goal of perfection, in any aspect of body image, whether it be your teeth, figure, hair, or skin tone, something people feel they have to attempt just because it has become trendy to do so?

Speaking for myself, and being a redhead, it is impossible for me to achieve a natural tan. I burn, I freckle, and I peel, and no matter how long I sit in the sun hoping that these will magically turn into a lovely golden shade, shock horror, it never does.

A question I get asked frequently in the summer is why don’t you fake tan? This is something I have tried, but due to the contrast between fake tan and my actual skin tone being a whole spectrum apart, it requires you to cover every single part of your body for it not to look stupid, and as a result any patches or missed areas look completely ridiculous. Quite frankly, I can’t be bothered.

However, having a tanned body and orange locks may make me resemble a carrot, not a look I tend to go for, so why did I still used to feel it was a bad thing to be pale? And why did I used to worry about changing the natural shade of my skin to one of a darker and more bronzed tone? The answer is, not because I wanted to, but because I felt I should.

Platforms such as Instagram give us the impression that everyone looks as if they’ve been lying on an Australian beach for six months, covered in tanning oil, and that therefore we should be striving towards this look all year round too. But what we forget, is that people on social media are more likely to post pictures of themselves when they are tanned, and on a beach holiday sipping on an exotic cocktail, than if they are pale and are at home doing nothing but the household chores. Additionally, looking at fashion and beauty campaigns, you just have to look at brands doing the current 2018 summer campaigns for makeup, sun cream or clothing, to notice everybody here also looks like they’ve been on that Australian beach along with the people on the explore page of your Instagram feed. This is only one of the few types of aesthetic that is under represented though, I understand there are so many other types of people that are under represented also, whether that be gender, sexuality, race or shape and size, but that could be a whole separate post.

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As someone with two fully Scottish parents and a long line of Scottish heritage, I am often told that I couldn’t look any more Celtic if I tried with my pale skin, freckles, blue eyes, and red hair. My heritage and this aesthetic are something I am proud of, why should I or anyone else change this just because society and the media is giving us the impression that we have to look a certain way?

My freckles are not something I should cover up just because other people round me, and people on social media are not necessarily showing them off as much as people are showing their tans off. But additionally, if you like making yourself tanned because it makes you feel good, and healthy and happy, then that is equally as great. But I have learnt that you do not have to make yourself look like anybody else, just because of societal pressure, we are all unique and diversity is something that everybody should be appreciating.

The same goes for any other feature of you as well, whether this be stretch marks, cellulite, veins or anything that we tend to feel self conscious about, because we have been conditioned to think we should hide these things, that not everyone has these too. BUT THEY DO! If they are on a part of your body that you love then why should we feel we have to hide them? It’s great that we are gradually starting to see more of a variety. Seeing current campaigns such as Missguided’s #InYourOwnSkin is incredible, with campaigns like this, we are starting to head in the right direction.

So if you’re a redhead, someone covered in freckles, or someone who wants to embrace their pale skin, or any feature of your body, even just for some of the time, then go for it! But equally as much, if tanning, either naturally or using a fake tan makes you feel even better in your own skin then keep bronzin’. But don’t apologise for looking the way you want to look.

Pale skin is beautiful, dark skin is beautiful, and every shade on the spectrum is as incredible as each other.

Thanks for reading,

Mol x

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Rousham, The Secret Garden of Oxfordshire

Rambling roses encasing woven branch archways that cover elegant pools of water, your reflection so vividly clear, the water is as tranquil as the peaceful aura that makes the garden so special…

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Rousham is 12 miles North of the city of Oxford, I am incredibly lucky to live so near to this exquisite place, it is one of the very few gardens to this day which has completely escaped alteration of the modern age. There is no commercialisation, also no dogs or children under 15 allowed (bear this in mind if you are planning a family visit).

All of this makes the gardens seem almost untouched, there were a few groups of people there at the same time we were but this did not alter the calm atmosphere in any way.

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Tickets for the gardens are £6, you can also pre-book a tour of the house if you are visiting in a larger group.

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We enjoyed a walk around the walled gardens and grounds, sat by the river soaking up the sun for a long time and got so many lovely photos. Whether you are a flower enthusiast, if you are looking for a peaceful day to yourself, or you love taking photos of nature and the outdoors (or lots of your friends looking gorgeous against floral backdrops that are certainly Instagram worthy!), then you will love Rousham.

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This was one of my favourite spots, the only noises were the sounds of the birds and the lapping of the water on the river bank.

We all thought this would be the ideal place to sit and paint or draw, so if unlike us you are able to paint beautiful landscapes then I can imagine this would be the perfect spot!

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If like me and my friends, you are major picnic enthusiasts, grab your picnic basket and blanket, and stock up on cocktail sausages because this is one of the most lovely picnic spots we have enjoyed, and we have had a fair few picnics round Oxfordshire (shocker: we are indeed uni students and not retired Grandma’s).

If you also love being at one with nature, Rousham also had an element of this! Now don’t get carried away, we’re still in England, we’re not exactly feeding elephants in Thailand or observing sea turtles in Coral Bay, but we made a new pal with a peacock who was very friendly and interested in anybody who had a snack in their hand, what a guy…

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If you have enjoyed books like the Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and were read Beatrix Potter books as a child, the honeysuckle, intricately carved archways and walled gardens with ivy and assortments of spring colours climbing up them will certainly make you nostalgic.

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“It is the time you have spent on your rose that makes her so important” – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

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The gardens were designed by William Kent (1685-1748) who was originally a painter who went on to create what many called the “new English garden”. The gardens stand in almost the very same way that he left them in back in the early days of Georgian Britain.

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“What we call the highest and the lowest in nature are both equally perfect. A willow bush is as beautiful as the human form divine.” – Beatrix Potter

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This was a perfect day out

“And the secret garden bloomed and bloomed and every morning revealed new miracles.” – Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed please leave a comment and follow me!

Until next time,

Mol x

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A Sunny Day in Edinburgh: What to do as a Tourist

“This is a city of shifting light, of changing skies, of sudden vistas. A city so beautiful it breaks the heart again and again.” – Alexander McCall Smith

One of the most vibrant and fascinating cities I have visited. I am lucky enough to have several members of my family living in the bustling city of Edinburgh, a place that never seems to tire, no matter how many times you visit.

On this day, it was 30 degrees Celsius! For Scotland this is incredibly hot weather so I decided to have a tourist day out for myself  to make the most of the scorching sunshine.

I have been visiting my family who live in Bruntsfield, which is just a mile from the city centre. After having 7 years on dodgy and damp school buses I’m not usually one to enjoy a bus journey, but the 23 bus route going past the National Portrait Gallery, Greyfriar’s Bobby statue, and past the Royal Mile to the middle of Prince’s Street was surprisingly enjoyable!

If you are visiting Edinburgh, here is what I did to fill a beautifully sunny day, with many of these things being free!

The National Gallery, Prince’s Street

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Entry is free, WOOHOO! (Exhibition events may require payment)

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Opening hours are 10am-5pm and Thursdays until 7pm

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I do not have the best knowledge of artwork or artists, but there are some very well known artist’s work in the gallery such as Monet, Van Gogh and Botticelli among others such as Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt and Vermeer. The gallery is beautifully set out, the deep shades of maroon, forest green and tones of blue provide a striking contrast between the intricate gold frames that the paintings are embedded in.

The information boards around the gallery also make it very easy to learn more about both the paintings and their creators. There is seating inside the gallery, and it caters well for buggy and wheelchair access, there is a lift too. I went at around 11 am and it was not very busy at all, do bear in mind though that it is currently the school holidays in Scotland so it could be busier later in the day.

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The Royal Mile

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After coming out of the National gallery, I walked up the winding steps on the left of the gallery and if you keep walking up the hill (the mound) then you will get to the Royal Mile, the rows of old buildings and Scottish themed shops that leads you from the old town to the top where Edinburgh Castle is majestically stood.

From buskers to street artists, the Royal Mile is all you need to showcase the vibrancy of the city, from buskers, street artists to people selling whisky, and there are always melodies of bagpipes to be heard in the distance!

Despite there being large groups of tourists, and people everywhere it does not feel overcrowded, the atmosphere is friendly and welcoming, people from all over the world enjoying the patriotism and pride of Scotland.

Edinburgh Castle

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As you can see from the photos, Edinburgh Castle towering in the blue skies is a spectacle to behold.

The photo above is the entrance to the Castle (at the top of the Royal Mile), but if you just wish to walk up to here and take a picture then this is free up to this point.

I paid £18.50 for an adult entry ticket which as a student, seemed expensive, however since being in the castle, you are easily able to spend a few hours there and are able to make the experience worth the price.

Also bear in the mind that the queue may take about half an hour or more in case you are planning around a time frame!

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This was the view of Edinburgh from the castle, an incredible photo opportunity on a sunny day like this one

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I was surprised at how much time I was able to spend in the castle and how many things there were to see. The Stone of Destiny and the Scottish crown jewels were. Some of the highlights of  things to see in the castle were St Margaret’s Chapel- the oldest building in Edinburgh, the Scottish crown jewels, the war prisons and the firing of the one o’clock gun is a great tradition to see if you are there at that time!

Discover more about things to do at the castle here!

Prince’s Street Gardens

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Again this is a free attraction, the atmosphere on days like this one was lovely, there were lots of people having picnics and making the most of the sunshine

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If you walk far enough along you are able to see the castle stood proudly in the distance. The gardens are below where the National Gallery is

This was a lovely and relaxing end to a day of walking and sightseeing, a relaxing seat in the park surrounded by the technicolor displays of flowers.

There are so many incredible things to do and see in Edinburgh, and you can fit a lot into just one day as I found out!

Thanks for reading,

Mol

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The End of the Iceland Adventure: Basalt Column Beaches and The Blue Lagoon

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These basalt columns set on the deep black sands were created when flows of lava cooled down and contracted to make these vertical structures, an incredible masterpiece of nature, almost looking like towering blocks of marble with the patterns that have been weathered into the rock.

Our guide explained that ancient Icelandic Folklore has it that these these formations were actually once trolls living in the beach’s caves (shown in second photo above). The myth is that the trolls were turned to stone due to being caught in daylight trying to pull a ship from the sea, and that they are now trapped here for eternity.

The Blue Lagoon

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From the photo above it’s clear why this stunning location is a UNESCO geo-park and was named in 2012 by National Geographic as one of the 25 wonders of the world.

There are few places on earth where you can lie back in naturally warm water, heated by only the ground itself, and take in the panoramic views of the lava fields that surround you. If you are looking to relax in one of the most unique locations in the world then this experience will be truly breath taking.

The pool itself was technically man made, while the lava fields around it were made by nature. The water is technically waste water of the nearby geothermal power plant, and comes from 6,500 feet underground where at this point it is around 24 degrees Celsius. The water of this geo-thermal pool is self-cleansing and this means that it renews every 40 hours. Due to bacteria not being able to thrive in such an environment, the water has no treatments in it such as chlorine, meaning it is 100% natural and great for your skin.

There are pots of the Blue Lagoon’s own clay masks dispersed around the lagoon, make use of this incredible product! My skin looked very dewy and fresh after using it and leaving it on for around 15 minutes, I have normal/oily skin and can be prone to break outs but I experienced no issues from using this product.

The package we chose was the Comfort Package, this gets you entry to the lagoon, a towel, a first drink of your choice and enables you to use the clay mask. None of the packages limit how long you can stay for but premium and spa packages are also available at a higher cost, details of what these include can be found here.

Children up to age 13 get in free! A very child friendly place and the frozen slushies at the swim-up bar are likely to go down a treat if you are bringing kids!

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Things to Know Before You Go

Prebook!

The Blue Lagoon is only a 15 minute drive from Iceland’s airport and is around 45 minutes from the capital of Reykjavik so is a perfect plan for either the end or the very start of your trip. It’s opening hours are usually from around 8am-10pm but keep in mind that pre-booking is required to due it being one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland.

You get given a wristband on entry which the staff connect to your credit or debit card, meaning you do not have to take in a wallet or money if you are planning on visiting the swim-up bar, meaning your wallet or purse can stay securely in the lockers provided in the changing rooms.

Hair and What to Wear

The Blue Lagoon staff recommend that you take any jewellery off if possible, this is because the lagoon is not like a regular pool with chlorinated water, the ingredients in the water such as algae and silica could potentially affect jewellery, especially if it is cheap! However, many of the people I was with on the trip left in earrings and rings they could not remove and had no issues.

Swimwear should not be affected by the water, as long as your rinse it with cold water and soap after use to ensure the silica does not stick to it. Swimwear is however available to rent at reception.

Your hair can be affected by the water, especially by the silica levels which can make hair dry and very hard to manage. Make use of the complementary conditioner, you have to have a shower in your swimwear before you enter the lagoon anyway. I simply smothered my curls in the conditioner and tied it up in a top knot. After washing it thoroughly after leaving the lagoon, my hair experienced no change in the condition.

Bring your Shades

Due to the brightness of the gleaming turquoise water, I would recommend taking sunglasses!

Goodbye Iceland

The Blue Lagoon marks the end of the Iceland Adventure for this time around, but I have no doubt that I will be back at some point in my lifetime. Iceland has the amazing quality of making everywhere feel light and spacious, it was a very calming experience, even when trekking up glacier plains and trudging through snow. Even places that were popular tourist attractions never felt overcrowded. If you are looking for a destination where you can relax, but also be active and experience some truly unique creations of nature then you too will fall in love with Iceland.

Have you checked out the rest of the Iceland Adventure?!

Day One:  Travelling from tarmac to tundra

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Day Two: The Golden Circle and Gullfoss Waterfall

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Day Three: Sólheimajökull and Jökulsárlón Lagoon

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Thanks for reading,

Mol x

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The Iceland Adventure: Day Three, Sólheimajökull and Jökulsárlón Lagoon

Welcome to the third day of the Iceland Adventure! This day was filled with stunning glaciers, lagoons and icebergs…

Sólheimajökull Glacier

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Start of the hike

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This day was spent on the South West coast of the island and began with a hike up Sólheimajökull, a rapidly melting glacier set on an out-wash plain. It is part of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier and is classed a a ‘glacier tongue’. This is where small parts of ice break off from the main glacier and fall into a lake below.

We walked for a total of four hours, sounding like a marathon now but the exquisite views were more than worth the long hike. We did the trip with a  great activity company which can be found at the Adrenalin website. Our guides were very informative and provided us with equipment such as crampons to make the hike easier, they made a tough walk surprisingly enjoyable! It is not recommended you do the hike here without professional guidance for safety reasons so bear this in mind if you are thinking of visiting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

This photo above was the view from the highest point of the hike, incredible views of the snow covered plains for as far as the eye could see. The vast expanse looks untouched, a truly unique environment.

 

Jökulsárlón Lagoon

This jagged glacier lake is located on the edge of the Vatnajökull National Park, the lagoon has been created to due an increasing climate in the area. The contrast between the black rocks beneath you and the gleaming snow is another incredible sight and photo opportunity in Iceland.

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The black sand that can be seen in these photos of the edge of the lagoon is this colour due to the high concentration of basalt lava, meaning many of the coastal and sandy areas in Iceland have this dramatic colour covering them.

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Boat trips are available across the lagoon for only £12 if you want to mimic being James Bond in the film of Die Another Day as it was filmed here!

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This was one of the views from the beach across the aquamarine and the ice…

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And that marks the end of the third day! Have you checked out the rest of the Iceland Adventure?!

Day One: Travelling from tarmac to tundra

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Day Two: The Golden Circle and Gullfoss Waterfall

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Day Four: The Blue Lagoon!

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Thanks for reading,

Mol x

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The Iceland Adventure: Day Two, The Golden Circle and Gollfoss Waterfall

Welcome to the second day of the Iceland Adventure!

The first stop on this day was potentially one of the most incredible sights I have ever seen! This is Gullfoss…

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A crashing body of water surrounded by the untouched cushion of snow created a breathtaking contrast between the sonorous and the still.

This incredible waterfall known as the Golden Waterfall is located on the South of Iceland on the Hvítá river, also known as the White River. The water falls for about 32 metres before reaching the ground, creating tremendous harmonies of crashing cold water as it throws itselffrom the rocks above.
This is the view from the top of one of the points of the gorge, there is a beautiful walking route around the waterfall with information boards about the are and its geology and history, these are in multiple languages. This area is known as the Golden circle and is a must see if you are visiting Iceland.
Near to the waterfall there are large plains that consist of hot-springs and geysers which rocket groundwater into the air once it has reached a high enough temperature.
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The second wonder of the day was the experience of þingvellir National Park.
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Within the park is the rift valley between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates, for this reason it is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

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A truly incredible atmosphere with the clean, crisp snow and deep pools of clear aquamarine between the rifts.
There are walkways and bridges throughout the park that make it surprisingly easy to navigate through, whether you just want a short walk or a more extensive hike.
One of the most interesting and spectacular places I have ever visited, despite these being tourist destinations, the atmosphere was still so peaceful.
Also great spots for taking photos if you are lucky enough for it to be as sunny as this day was!
Checked out the rest of the Iceland Adventure?!
Day Three! Sólheimajökull and Jökulsárlón Lagoon
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Day Four! The Blue Lagoon!
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Day One! Travelling to Iceland!
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Thanks for reading!
Mol  x

 

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