The Beauty of the Ionian Sea- Exploring the Greek Island of Zakynthos

“Adventure is worthwhile.” – Aristotle

Before heading back to university to start the final year of my degree, I enjoyed a fabulous week long trip to the Greek island of Zakynthos. We flew with TUI from Birmingham International to Zakynthos airport. This island was a brilliant combination of being incredibly scenic but also very cheap. We also found all the people we met there extremely friendly, and the food and drink was also completely delicious, in fact the best food I have tried abroad. This post includes some of the lovely places we saw whilst on the island. I will also be writing another post all about where to eat and drink on the island. I hope this post is helpful if you are looking for which Greek island to visit next on your travel adventures.

The town we stayed in on the island was called Argassi and was only about a 20 minute drive away from Zakynthos airport. Argassi was a great place to stay in, with its own beautiful beach, an abundance of restaurants, bars, shops and plenty of gorgeous hotels to choose from. We stayed in the Katerina Palace hotel which was a very pleasant place to stay. We had a spacious and comfortable room, the pool and bar area was also lovely. The main streets of Argassi were just down the road from the hotel which was very handy.

Adventuring out on a Boat Trip to Marathonisi Island (Turtle Island)

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We booked this fabulous trip through Peter’s Tours, we met Peter at one of his tourist offices just outside our hotel. We had several recommendations to book with him and he was incredibly friendly and helpful when we were enquiring about doing an excursion. The trip only cost us €20 each to our surprise! If you are taking children with you, it’s €15 each for them. Here is a link to the specific trip that we went on, the pictures on the website show the sights you see from he boat very accurately. We were picked up by coach in Argassi by Peter’s office and driven to the Laganas harbour, which is just a 15 minute drive away and where the boat is docked.

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We were in awe to be able to see the turtles as soon as we got on to the boat in the harbour. They were clearly unphased by having people around them in the harbour as they were swimming very close to the boats. The captain of our boat was great at pointing out where they were in the water so everybody was able to see them and take pictures. After waiting to watch the turtles for a while, the boat then set off towards Marathonisi island. The boat was fairly small in size, with about 15 people on it. It was surprisingly a very smooth trip.

Throughout the trip, the captain sailed the boat in to several sea caves, which were fascinating to be in and be able to see up close. There was also one of the two swimming stops here. We were able to jump in to the sea straight off the boat and snorkel near to the caves. We purchased snorkels in Argassi for just €8 so I would thoroughly recommend bringing one if you are doing a trip like this. The water was crystal clear and it was amazing being able to swim along side the fish.

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This was the view from Turtle Island which was where the other swimming stop was, we spent about an hour here. You are able to swim in the sea and use the beach on the island, but the majority of it is protected conservation land which is great to see.

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The water was not cold at all, this was a great snorkelling spot. We swam through the shallows by the rocks and saw many types of fish in the shallows, you didn’t have to swim in the deep to be able to see them.

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Clear Waters and Soft Sands- The Must See Beaches

St Nicholas Beach

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

This was a lovely day out, we got the free bus from our hotel at 11am and the beach is only about 20 minutes away. There is also a bus that takes you back again at 5pm. This beach was perfect for relaxing, you just have to pay a few euros for using the sun loungers. We also had some lovely food here from the beach club which is just up the path from the beach. This was another great swimming spot, you can also do water sports here if that takes your fancy. Bear in mind that during the peak tourist season in the summer, these beaches will be very busy.

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Banana Beach

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Banana beach is another great beach to visit, quite similar to St Nicholas beach too. We also got the free bus back and forth to out hotel for this trip, it was just a short drive away too. We had some more great food here too, you can order food and drink at this beach from the staff on the beach and they bring it down to you which is a great service. This was another brilliant ocean swimming spot.

 

Argassi Beach

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Argassi beach is accessible from various cut throughs along the front of the town of Argassi. We found that certain parts were sandy and some were pebbley, the beach is also quite narrow in parts. There are some nice spots to eat and drink along the beach too. The photo below was the cafe we went to a couple of times for lunch and a drink.

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My next post will be including all of the places on the island that we visited for food and drink, there were some truly delicious meals on this trip.

Have you visited Greece yet? I would love to hear from you in the comments if you have!

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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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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An Audience With Simon Reeve- Any Travel Fanatic’s Perfect Evening

“If it’s difficult for you, take things step by step”

If you’ve never watched any of Simon Reeve’s travel programmes, you are majorly missing out. Simon is currently doing a tour around the UK, giving talks about the incredible places he’s visited, people he’s met, and how his career became what it is today. We attended the part of the tour in the Birmingham Town Hall.

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It was incredibly inspiring to hear about the success of someone who worked hard to be where they are today. Having watched Simon Reeve’s travel documentaries for years, I think I subconsciously presumed that he had travelled his whole life, had always known that this was the path he wanted to take. When we see people presenting on our screens, we often don’t think about how perhaps they were not always in their ‘dream job’ from the get go, there is always more work and sides to the story than we think.

The talk began with Simon introducing how he was as a teenager, these years were not easy, having few qualifications and few prospects, growing up in West London was painted as a fairly bleak picture for this point in his life. Hearing him speak about the topic of mental health was also very interesting, despite it also being a sad topic.

Simon then began to explain how he signed up for income support, still being in a very low place at this point. He quoted what the woman at the DSS office had said to him, saying it’s still relevant in his life today…

“If it’s difficult for you, take things step by step”

After hearing this advice, one train ticket and a hire car later he found himself climbing the mountain sides of Glencoe, Scotland, taking it step by step. This was where there seemed to be more of a glimmer of hope, he had completed a journey successfully, he had achieved something.

It wasn’t until Simon was given the job of a post boy for a newspaper, that he began working alongside journalists, some of the jobs he described being given were hilarious, probably not tasks that would be allowed to be given to young people now a days!

He then described how his skills developed and he went on to write a book called ‘The New Jackals’, published in 1998, which at first nobody really paid attention to. But by the time 9/11 happened, he had written the only book in the world about Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda, and soon found himself being asked to be interviewed for American news channels. And in a nutshell, that’s how he got the opportunity  in the future to start his own BBC programmes, looking at modern history and showing the world we live in.

He then went on to show pictures from his travels, food he’d eaten, places he’s had to flea from, even the most comical toilets he’s seen around the world! The stories of the wonderful people he’d met from all corners of the globe were also incredibly moving.

It was interesting to see the case he takes with him on all his trips, and some of the objects he’s been gifted by locals to bring back, from fabrics, to a sword he was given in Borneo.

Hearing about the process of making a documentary was also fascinating, he explained that with his programmes, they are not highly researched or scripted before they go out and make them. No team goes out before it is made to check there is enough opportunities and places for content.

An incredibly enjoyable and inspiring evening, Simon was an incredibly engaging speaker and answered some of the audience’s questions for the last part of the evening. It made me feel more ambitious about pursuing a career in travel journalism and publishing, or perhaps the news. His book is definitely going to be a Christmas present idea!

His most recent programme ‘The Mediterranean with Simon Reeve’ is currently on BBC Two, and is accessible on iPlayer, I thoroughly recommend you watch it if you haven’t already. The journey through the Mediterranean starts in the first programme in Malta, carries on to Southern Italy, and ends in Albania.

Luckily for me, my family and I are actually going to be listening to another great presenter, author and historian very soon! Tomorrow we are heading back to the Birmingham Town Hall, this time to see Neil Oliver, on his tour of the UK with ‘The story of the British Isles in 100 places’. Having a keen interest in coastlines, I am greatly looking forward to this, as Neil is a presenter on BBC 2’s ‘Coasts’ programme. I think this will be another greatly rewarding evening.

Thanks for reading, hope you’re having a great day where ever you are in the world,

Mol x

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My First Visit to Cornwall, Watergate Bay and Swimming in the Atlantic Ocean

Happy Sunday everyone, recently I was lucky enough to head down South to Cornwall for the first time, an area of the country and the British coastline that I’ve always wanted to explore.

I went with fifteen of my friends who I went to school with, before we all headed back to university. We drove down to Newquay and stayed in a gorgeous Air B&B for three nights. The house had everything from a cinema room and pool table, to a jacuzzi, it was a lovely place to call home for a few days. We stayed on the outskirts of Newquay which was a perfect location, far enough so we weren’t right in the centre, but really close to the beaches. We also managed to go outside of the school holidays so we escaped the height of the summer tourist season.

Watergate Bay

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Watergate Bay was about three miles from where we were staying, so it was only about fifteen minutes away by car.

The sunset on this evening was one of the best I’ve seen in the UK, after swimming in the sea and sitting on the beach, we all got fish and chips from the restaurant by the beach and ate whilst watching the sun set over the bay. Also, if you are an avid surfer then this seemed to be a very popular surfing spot!

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Fistral Beach

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Despite the weather being slightly chilly on our first full day, we still wanted to make the most of our holiday, so with body boards and swimming attire, we headed down to Fistral Beach, about a ten minute drive away from our house. This beach was lovely, a long stretch of sand, dramatic and tall waves, there were also places to eat, buy beach and surf stuff and also parking facilities just up the cliff from the beach.

The ocean wasn’t exactly like swimming in the tropics of the Mediterranean, but it wasn’t as cold as I was expecting! We had a great time frolicking in the sea, luckily we had the jacuzzi at the house which we used to warm up in afterwards!

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We also ventured out on a walk round the coastal path, which you can join at whatever point you want to. We walked for about seven miles, we also found a lovely tea room before we did the route back so we were able to enjoy some fab hot chocolates and scones whilst sat outside.

 

Padstow

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We stopped off in Padstow to break up the long journey, this was the most beautiful little seaside town, all the classic Cornish pasty, ice cream and sweet shops. This was the view from the harbour, we sat for a while here just watching the hustle and bustle of people passing by and the boats drifting through the water. I wish I had taken more pictures but unfortunately I was slightly unwell after the long journey!

I would love to know if you’ve ever visited Cornwall and other places that are great to go in the area!

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

Mol x

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The Best Desserts and an Autumnal Escape: The Eis Cafe

October is in full swing folks! The leaves are already turning to warmer tones, and everyone just wants to be cosy with a hot beverage and a cosy blanket. Also, is it just me who has more cravings for indulging in some more seasonal treats?

This cafe was a real gem of a find, having heard of the Eis Cafe and seen their incredible desserts on their social medias, me and my house mates ventured out to treat ourselves after a cold autumnal day.

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The vibe of this lovely place was so cosy and autumnal, perfect for this time of year now that the days are getting crisp and colder.

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This was the seating upstairs, the decor was beautifully rustic and again, very autumnal with the warm tones and slightly retro feel.

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The menu was incredible, making it extremely difficult to know what to pick! Their Instagram was a big help as you can see what all the options look like. There was a big selection of treats to choose from, waffles, milkshakes, cookie dough, cakes, ice creams there was also a selection of savoury food too.

This was the amazing selection of ice creams to choose from, I tried the honeycomb with my dessert and it was delicious!

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In the end I went for this marvellous creation… the Waffle Cookie!

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This was a freshly baked waffle with a fresh baked cookie dough, honeycomb ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream with ginger biscuit crumbs! I think this was hands down the best dessert I have ever had!

My friends had the ‘Sluttty Brownie’ which also looked divine!

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Hope you’re having a fab day wherever you are, and are enjoying all the joys of Autumn so far!

Mol x

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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 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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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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