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

received_2161855000809519

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.

img_4089

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.

img_4008

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!

dsc_4987

dsc_4879-01

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.

dsc_4779_ed

 

The West Sands Beach

IMG-2631

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

IMG-4074

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.

IMG-4073

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.

IMG-4076

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.

IMG-4080IMG-4083

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.

dsc_4755_ed-1img_3990img_3988-1

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.

img_3995

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

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

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.

SR-Banner-HR-1200x791

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

Let’s be sociable! Follow me on: Twitter // Pinterest // Bloglovin’

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.

IMG-3451

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.

IMG-3455IMG-3447

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

IMG-3449

IMG-3446

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!

IMG-3450

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

IMG-3458

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!

IMG-3452IMG-3445IMG-3456

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

Mol x

Lets’s be social!

Follow me on: Twitter // Pinterest // Bloglovin’

Books I Love: Fabulous Fiction, Elegant Classics, and Powerful Poetry

Happy weekend everyone!

Today I am sharing some of the books I have been loving recently, a mixture of fiction, a couple of classics, and even a couple of poetry books! So grab a coffee, you may well find your next favourite book…

The Keeper of Lost Things- Ruth Hogan

IMGP3720

“the wonderful thing about books was that they were films that played inside your head.” 

Anthony Peardew has been collecting items he finds that people have misplaced, in the hope to help and heal the people who have lost something. This all started after Anthony sadly lost his wife. When Anthony passes on, he leaves this task of returning the lost things to his house keeper Laura, who is not having an easy time with life either. The book uses a dual narrative, as well as this story, there is also the secondary story set in the 70’s with the characters Eunice and Bomber. Eunice, working for Bomber in the publishing industry, has a romantic love which can never be returned. How the two narratives are connected becomes clear throughout. The book entails some moving stories of ‘lost things’, the people who become a part of this journey, but also beautiful theme of how there is always more to be found. An incredibly moving debut novel from Ruth Hogan.

Not only was the book deeply moving in parts, but a great balance is created through the fact that the book is also incredibly funny, not many books have ever made me physically laugh out loud! My Auntie, my Mum, and I, all read this in turn on our recent holiday to France, and hearing the occasional fit of laughter from who ever was currently reading the book made it clear that the humour is achieved very well. Sunshine, a nineteen year old girl with Down Syndrome, who befriends the character’s is potentially the most hilarious character I have across from any book. I won’t spoil some of her winning lines but they are remarkable!

Little Women- Louisa May Alcott

IMGP3727

“Be comforted, dear soul! There is always light behind the clouds.” Little Women is one of my Granny’s favourite books. Whilst spending Christmas with her, she told me how she read it over and over when she was a similar age to me, so I thought I should put it on my list of books to read. This was such a lovely and heart warming read. I feel with some classics, they can take a lot of concentration to read (maybe this is just me!), but this one was extremely enjoyable. Set in the idyllic town of Plumfield, during the civil war in New England, the enjoyable tales of the four sisters in the March family still feel relatable to aspects of family life and growing up to this day, even if it is a little different in this modern age.

The lessons the girls learn and problems they face are still relevant today. Reading how their ambitions grow and their character’s develop as they grow up is both rewarding and fascinating, reading almost makes you feel like you are an extra member of the family. You will empathise with Jo and how she struggles to control her anger and her driving ambition to become a published writer, and smile at Meg’s ever kind nature. Watch Amy learn that there is more to life than physical beauty, and admire Beth’s musical talent and warm personality. I think many people will see even just a small part of themselves in all of the March sisters.

A Thousand Splendid Suns- Khaled Hosseini

IMGP3723

“A society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated…”

After reading the Kite Runner last summer, a very moving book, I made it a priority to read some more of Hosseini’s work. A Thousand Splendid Suns was perhaps even more moving. Possibly because this one focuses more on following the journey of two young women.

The book is set in the conflicted capital of Afghanistan, Kabul which is under the authority of the Taliban. The book begins by following the story of Mariam, who at fifteen years old is sent to Kabul to marry Rasheed, a significantly older man who she has never even laid eyes on before. Nearly 20 years later, Mariam befriends a young woman named Laila, who has yet another story of how her life has been thrown in to pieces by the Taliban rule, this is what brings the two women together. The story follows the hardships of living in this oppressed and dangerous environment, but also demonstrates how it brings out the kindness and brave nature in the right people.

Books like these are extremely important to read, because stories like Laila and Mariam’s are going on today, right now. Despite it being fiction, having an insight in to how survival alone is a struggle in other parts of the world make me realise how grateful I am to live in a safe environment, where as a young woman I am able to get an education and feel safe in my home and the streets that surround me. If you read one book from this post, please let it be this one, an incredible read.

“One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs,
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.” 

The Great Gatsby- F. Scott Fitzgerald

IMGP3732

“They’re a rotten crowd’, I shouted across the lawn. ‘You’re worth the whole damn bunch put together.”

This is probably quite a cliché pick for an English student! I studied this for two years during my A Levels and decided to re-read it so I could purely enjoy it, and not have to study every word I was reading!

This is a very short novel if you need something quick to read. The story follows the narrator Nick Carraway as he is gradually entwined into the lives of some of the richest and most complex characters of 1920’s Long Island in New York. Nick finds him self living next door to the mysterious Gatsby, a millionaire who throws hugely extravagant parties for crowds of people but is rarely seen enjoying them. Just across the bay, lives Nick’s cousin Daisy Buchanan and her arrogant husband Tom Buchanan. Through the perhaps initially nieve eyes of Nick, we learn of the complicated love between Gatsby and Daisy, mixed with the scandals of the elite, and the mask of the riches and pleasures of the jazz age. For such a short novel, Fitzgerald creates such an interesting and dramatic plot. The scenes of 1920’s New York and Gatsby’s lavish parties are extremely vivid and beautifully described, there are some beautiful quotes in the book.

I have now started another Fitzgerald book; ‘Tender is the Night’ so we’ll see of it lives up to Gatsby!

Milk and Honey, and The Sun and her Flowers- Rupi Kaur

IMGP3721

I read each one of these within the day that I bought them! Previously to this, I had appreciated poetry, but apart from studying poetry in GCSE and A Level English, which consisted of Shakespeare and John Donne’s work, I did not used to read it outside of my studies.

But I think for many people who have read these, Rupi Kaur has changed the game when it comes to poetry. Many people think of poems as old fashioned, very long, and perhaps not topics that are relatable, but these books could not be further from that. I read Milk and Honey first, the book is split in to four chapters; the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing. Every poem is beautifully written, the topics and emotions that are covered throughout would resonate with anyone who reads this, some of them made me have tears in my eyes because they were so powerful and raw.

The Sun and her Flowers was equally as brilliant. Each of the chapters are titled from the life cycle of a flower; Wilting, Falling, Rooting, Rising, and Blooming. This again covers a huge range of emotions, from pain, heartbreak, womanhood, sexuality, strength and love. There is also some illustrations incorporated throughout, making the art of the books even more vivid.

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

Let me know if you have read any excellent books recently?!

Mol x

Follow my social media! Twitter // Pinterest // Bloglovin’

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

IMG-5441IMG-5439

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

IMG-5437

Lyme Regis

IMG-5433

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.

IMG-5427IMG-5432

Chesil Beach

IMG-5425

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.

img-5442.jpg

IMG-5443

Durdle Door

IMG-5447IMG-5449

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

IMG-5451

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.

IMG-5453

Old Harry’s Rock

IMG-5456

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.

IMG-5460

“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

Follow me on: Twitter // Pinterest // Bloglovin’

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…

IMG_2969

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

IMG_2991

(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.

IMGP5154

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).

DSC_0225-01

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!

DSC_0221-01

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.

dsc_0538-01

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.

dsc_0540-01

dsc_0536-01

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!

DSC_0838-01

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.

dsc_0871-01

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.

dsc_0879

DSC_0886-01.jpeg

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.

IMG_2974

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…

IMG_2978

IMG_2976

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.

IMG_2965

IMG_2966

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

IMGP3653

Part Two: Sunsets, Sunflowers and the BEST Villa

IMG_2986

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

Mol x

Follow me on: Twitter // Pinterest //  Bloglovin’

 

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

IMG-1776.JPG
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

IMG-1123

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

IMG-1981-2.jpg

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

Follow me on: Pinterest // Twitter // Bloglovin’

 

 

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…

IMG_3008

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

IMG_2985

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

IMG_2986

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

IMGP3691

IMG_2987

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.

IMGP5238

DSC_0667-01

DSC_0121.JPG

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!

IMGP3619

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).

IMG_2902

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.

IMGP3662

DSC_0250-01

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!

DSC_0212-01

DSC_0286-01

DSC_0168-01

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…

DSC_0246-01

DSC_0529-01

DSC_0037.JPG_b

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.

IMGP5198.JPG

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

IMGP3653

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

IMG_2969

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

Mol x

Follow me on: Pinterest // Twitter // Bloglovin’

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

IMG_2880

IMG_2878

IMG_2875

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!

IMGP3639

Even the table settings were gorgeous…

IMGP5226

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

IMGP5229

Tuna steak with avocado and salad garnish- starter

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

IMG_2923

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

IMG_2925

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!

IMGP3653

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

IMGP3641

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…

IMGP3642

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

IMG_2927

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

IMGP3640

IMG_2932

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?!

IMG_2974

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

IMGP5222

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

IMG_2986

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

IMG_2969

Au revoir!

Mol x

Follow me on my social medias!

Twitter // Pinterest // Bloglovin’

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

Follow me on Pinterest!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

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…

img_28331

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.

img_28291

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

img_2434

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.

img_24771

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!

img_2427

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…

img_2355

img_2361

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.

img_23941

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

img_2399

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.

img_2480

“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

img_28301

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

Follow me on: Pinterest // Twitter //

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

img_2561

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

img_2566

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

img_2569

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.

img_2570

The Royal Mile

img_2572

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

img_2576

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!

img_2581

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

img_2583

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

img_2600

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

img_2605

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

Follow me on Pinterest!