Travel: 10 Things in Brighton

Oh Brighton. With the exception of Edinburgh (and London of course!) it’s probably my favourite UK city. I mean, gorgeous shops to browse, sea to paddle in AND fish’n’chips to nom on?! There’s not a lot more this gal can ask for!

Now, generally I just spend a few hours. With one of my best friends living close to Brighton, the other in Kent and me in London, our meetups are split over the three locations. It generally means we spend a lot of time catching up (and shopping!) and not a huge amount of time enjoying where we actually are. That said, my main holiday of 2016 was a few days in Brighton – and there’s definitely enough for a short-break…

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1. Go up the British Airways i360

Now, I’m in two minds about this one. We went up a few weeks ago, and whilst the views are stunning – it’s over-priced. At £13.50 for an on-the-day student ticket it was an expensive half-an hour. With no shade in the ‘holding pen’ before you board and it being basically a fish-bowl it was also extremely hot. Perhaps as a date-night (taking advantage of the cocktail bar) or timing it for sunset would be better!

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2. Wander Around The Lanes

Oh, the lanes. My favourite part of Brighton. I’ve enjoyed many hours spent wandering around the jewellery lanes, staring at all the sparkly-pretty things. However it’s the ones further away from the seafront that I love. Cute homeware stores, vintage clothing, mulled wine in winter – it’s my idea of heaven.

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3. Relax on the Beach & Explore the Pier

Obviously I can’t do a post on Brighton and mention either the beach or the pier! I’ve spent many hours on Brighton beach – watching the sunset with W way back in 2012, sunbathing, catching up with my besties and eating far too many fish and chips! If you’re there for the day then I recommend pitching up early to get a good spot (it gets insanely busy in the summer – though walking towards Hove means it’s a lot quieter!). I’d also spend the pennies on some chairs, at only £2.50 for the day they are definitely worth it.

Then there’s the pier. I can never resist a round on the two-penny machines – and whilst the rides are over-priced they can be fun. There will be forever a soft-spot in my heart for my first loop-the-loop rollercoaster!

4. Play Mini-Golf

I do love a bit of mini-golf, and Brighton’s one was a goodie – and not just because I won! I’d recommend avoiding the one half way down the Volk’s Railway as we thought it was horrendously expensive for a game!

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5. Get the Train to the Marina

The Volk’s Railway, just to the east of the pier, is Britain’s oldest electronic railway. Originally built in 1883 it runs from near the pier to the marina – so is a great way to see more of the seafront. Note that it’s currently closed for restoration!

Fun fact: me and W took a picnic up to this end of the beach last year. We were halfway through before we realised we’d stumbled into the nudist area…

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6. Visit The Sealife Centre

Now again this is something that I question is worth the money – but only because I think the other centres are a little better – Brighton’s is a little small and cramped for my liking. That said we enjoyed a turtle feeding demonstration and, as we got in at 9am, it was a relatively quiet way to spend a few hours before the sun came out.

7. Walk Through the South Downs

I confess I’ve never actually done this – but this bit of countryside looks SO pretty from the train (and i360!) that I’ve always wanted to do it. There’s plenty of routes, plus the 100 miles of the South Downs Way to explore. There’s even foodie routes connecting pubs and afternoon-tea rooms! Perhaps that’s a goal to achieve in 2018…

8. Have a Night On the Town

Another one I confess I haven’t done, but Brighton is famous for it’s nights out. If you’re up for a quieter evening, try the alcoholic milkshakes at Burger & Cocktails, or All Bar One for strong cocktails and decent music.

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9. Explore the Museums

Whilst I much prefer to enjoy my time in Brighton outside, there’s a good chance you’ll experience some proper English weather. Whilst not really marketed well, Brighton does have some pretty good museums. I’ve visited and enjoyed both the Booth Museum of Natural History and the Toy & Model Museum. The Booth Museum is not for the faint-hearted (it’s basically full of taxidermy) but it’s free and I personally found it super-interesting.

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10. Eat – Lots!

The key to my heart, if you’ve not already guessed, is food. I’m definitely one of those people who live to eat! Luckily Brighton has a vast array of restaurants to keep all tummies (and budgets) happy. It’s home to some great chain-restaurants (Wahaca and Franco Manca I’m looking at you…) as well as some independents. We’ve loved Wai Kika Moo Kau for vegetarian and vegan food, and there’s enough cake shops in the Lanes to try a new one each visit. We’ve enjoyed afternoon tea, fish’n’chips, and of course there’s Choccywoccydoodah. I’m also desperate to eat at The Salt Room too…

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Have you ever been to Brighton? Any hints and tips for my next visit?

Lifestyle: A Few Days In York

This little break feels so long ago now. A few days away at the beginning of April, designed to make sure I was relaxed and well-rested ahead of my exam period. We wanted somewhere were we could eat lots and explore – and with cobbled lanes, plenty of museums, interesting little shops, cafes and cosy pubs York fitted the bill perfectly.

 photo A Few Days in York 26_zpszho4rki2.jpg photo A Few Days in York 5_zps4z8i7h5s.jpg photo A Few Days in York 6_zpsikgjsikj.jpgThe train up from London takes around 2 hours, and booking far enough in advance meant it was cheap. Rooms in a Travelodge were also a bargain (top tip: saying you’re travelling for business generally gets you a room on a ‘quiet’ floor which is great for a good nights sleep). This meant we were free to splurge on good food and wine for our trip – after all we were on holiday!

 photo A Few Days in York 1_zpso0fn5at9.jpg photo A Few Days in York 2_zpszqgxnip1.jpg photo A Few Days in York 3_zpsnyh8pzkq.jpg photo A Few Days in York 4_zpsb9mxwx4f.jpgWe kicked off with a meal at York’s up and coming best restaurant, Skosh. They’ve received rave critic reviews despite only opening in 2016 and I can see why. Everything we ate was absolutely delicious, the service fantastic – and we ate at the chef’s table so we could see all the cooking going on. We only managed to get a lunchtime slot as it’s pretty difficult to get a table, but if you can squeeze in it’s well worth it.

The evening we whiled away in Pairings; I would love something like this near me in London. Each order a flight of drink (red wine for me, port for him) and customised our own meat and cheeseboard. Several hours of chatting and giggling later, we both concluded it was the perfect way to spend the first night of our break.

 photo A Few Days in York 18_zpsahcpyiec.jpg photo A Few Days in York 16_zps1iw5r5rq.jpg photo A Few Days in York 15_zpswzu3qhxt.jpg photo A Few Days in York 14_zpsdtxjxfpp.jpg photo A Few Days in York 13_zpsryiettmn.jpg photo A Few Days in York 12_zpstqafbsau.jpg photo A Few Days in York 11_zpsc58rkmam.jpg photo A Few Days in York 10_zpsseskg0zp.jpg photo A Few Days in York 9_zpsojjnfly7.jpg photo 2017-04-03 13.05.05_zpsjkkv0uhg.jpg photo 2017-04-03 11.51.57_zpszcsxhckj.jpg photo A Few Days in York 7_zps6zatirui.jpgAfter a quick brunch in Pig & Pastry, we spent our first morning in the Railway Museum. Far more exciting than it sounds, we could have probably spent longer than the morning in there. However seeing as the sun came out and treated us to a very warm afternoon, lazing about in the Park felt like an amazing use of our time. I also picked up a gorgeous bath-bomb from The Yorkshire Soap Company – I had to make advantage of having access to a bath, even in a Travelodge!

 photo A Few Days in York 28_zpsc62bdu8l.jpg photo A Few Days in York 27_zpsig40e78g.jpg photo A Few Days in York 25_zpsknyl3fxx.jpg photo A Few Days in York 24_zps5cvviu3h.jpg photo A Few Days in York 23_zpsfztpnfai.jpg photo A Few Days in York 21_zps96tnngjt.jpg photo A Few Days in York 20_zps0tuww6ba.jpg photo A Few Days in York 19_zpsf8cga7e4.jpg photo A Few Days in York 31_zpsnxuxylsc.jpg photo A Few Days in York 30_zpsl2sw4odl.jpg photo A Few Days in York 29_zpsiwlfdrue.jpg photo A Few Days in York 33_zpscl5eeann.jpg photo A Few Days in York 35_zpszxxrek8m.jpg photo A Few Days in York 34_zps4asfi3jh.jpgOur final day started in Brew & Brownie, before a walk around the City Walls and a mid-morning nap (the breakfasts were huge). The rest of the day was spent wandering the shops, exploring the Shambles and generally enjoying ourselves. Obviously we hadn’t quite eaten enough food, because we grabbed lunch at Betty’s. We avoided the cliche of afternoon tea but enjoyed their Swiss food. I loved my carb heavy Alpine Macaroni, filled with bacon, potatoes and pasta, whilst W’s Rösti was pretty much perfect.

There was a lot we didn’t manage to do in York. We just missed the reopening of the Viking Centre by a matter of days, and we didn’t manage to go and visit the Minster. We did manage (inadvertently I might add!) to have a little kiss under Heart of Yorkshire stained-glass window – legend says if you do you’ll stay together forever, though he’s stuck with me regardless. I’d have also liked to see a couple of museums, and we both want to explore the Yorkshire Moors – guess we’ll just have to head back up there soon!

Have you ever been to York?

Travel: A Wander Through Dovedale

One of my favourite childhood memories involves loading up picnics and dogs into the car and setting off early for a day of walking, picnicing and fresh air. Invariably we’d forget something (the dog leads, on one memorable occasion). Almost always one of the dogs would hare off after some kind of animal. Quite often the same dog would come strolling back, hopelessly pleased with herself, carrying some kind of smelly dead animal. Quite often those day trips involved a trip to Dovedale, on the southern edge of the Peak District.

 photo Dovedale Peak District 2_zpsalhramx3.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 1_zpshyfawocp.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 4_zpsl9djzxj6.jpgDog drama aside, it was always one of my favourite places to go. I was slightly gutted upon moving, at the age of 10, to be told that it was now over 2 hours away and infeasible for a day trip. I’ve visited so many places since, but Dovedale stayed with me. And when looking for a place to break up our journey up North, it turned out to be the perfect place.

We didn’t walk as far as I’d hoped, but we got a good three miles in before hunger pangs set in and the clouds got dark. In retrospect, we’re glad we turned back when we did as the rain on our return was rather heavy, and the path was getting a lot busier – it paid to get there early!

 photo Dovedale Peak District 5_zpsjnz8v4ka.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 6_zpshsvd0zb7.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 7_zpsfdb9ewss.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 8_zpsuhu78nij.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 9_zpsdnyv4ik7.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 10_zpsrrtwhal8.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 11_zpsfvbd2b95.jpg photo Dovedale Peak District 13_zpsjgby9exa.jpgIt was as beautiful as I remembered. Rolling hills, calm river, those iconic stepping stones – though they’ve definitely been evened out at some point over the last 12 years! Something about being by water, whether it’s a lake, river or the sea, just makes me feel so much more peaceful. And this was just wonderful. There was hardly anyone around on our outward walk, leaving us to amble in companionable silence or chat quietly. Perfection!

I’d forgotten quite how beautiful the Peak District is. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy a decent walk. I’m now working on a walking holiday next year – how wonderful would a short break be, plenty of exercise, nice B&B’s (no camping here!) and good food? Sounds like a perfect holiday to me…
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Have you ever been to Dovedale or the Peak District? Where’s your favourite spot in the UK?

Travel: A Trip Up North

What seems like rather a long time ago now, way back in August, we took a last little road trip in W’s car (Steve the Seat has now found a new home, sob). We headed up to where his dad’s family is originally from, Bolton, whilst stopping off at one of the favourite place of my childhood (more about that next week), spending some time in Manchester and generally just exploring the North.

 photo A Trip Up North 8_zps1alyyh0f.jpgIt’s strange, whilst away at uni I actually classed myself as a Northern girl. I said ‘bath’ rather than ‘b-arth’ (I hate people adding the “r” in once you get south of Leicester, my sister had trouble learning how to spell in primary school due to it!). I liked proper Yorkshire tea. I enjoy chip butties. And all my friends where very definitely from the South. Yet actually, I’ve seen very little of the North at all. I mean, I adore Edinburgh, I’ve visited and loved Northumberland, and the Lake Disrict always made for a good (if slightly wet) family holiday with the dogs. But other than that, my experience remains very firmly in the Midlands. This visit definitely persuaded me to try and change that though!

 photo A Trip Up North 2_zpsokiiwdky.jpgThe countryside around Bolton was stunning; if I’m honest not at all what I expected. Rolling hills, gorgeous views, open countryside, plenty of green. Give me a good hill over a flat landscape any day! Bolton was also a pleasant surprise – a decent museum to escape the rain in, a rather enviable new shopping centre in the old market place. And pasties. The Carrs Pasty is something I’ve only ad when W’s dad visited and brought them back for the freezer. And they’re delicious. We made a point to visit for lunch on our first day, then return before starting our journey home to stock up. Crisp buttery pastry, and a mash’n’mince filling that’s intensely savoury. So very different from my beloved Cornish pasty, but so very good.

Manchester, however, is a city I fell suddenly and unexpectedly in love with. I loved the hustle and bustle (that lacked the franticness of London). The Arndale had every shop I could want. There were so many restaurants I wanted to try. But most of all I adored the stark contrasts between the old and the new. Sparkly new offices being built next to the stunning cathedral. I wish I could have stayed longer, explored the city more. I only had a few hours; it definitely wasn’t enough.

 photo A Trip Up North 4_zpscwe6cxek.jpg photo A Trip Up North 7_zpsvxoaj01g.jpg photo A Trip Up North 5_zpspqmgfio6.jpg photo A Trip Up North 6_zpslqpn2osh.jpg photo A Trip Up North 3_zpstisbntcv.jpgIn need to (again) escape the rain we found what is perhaps the most Instarammable teashop I’ve ever been in. Enviable tiles, distressed wood, hanging light-bulbs. But most importantly, the tea was damn good. Everything was loose-lead, provided with an ‘egg timer’ to allow it to brew correctly. My standard English Breakfast was delicious. W’s Hibiscus was sweet and fruity, vivid in colour and so refreshing. The cakes looked gorgeous, but with an evening of Italian food ahead we didn’t indulge. Guess I’ll have to go back soon!

We spent our last morning being all cultural. We visited Salford Quays, had a wander around Media City (including a really rather yummy mac’n’cheese lunch at Pret), and viewed the Lowry Gallery. One of my favourite artists, I really enjoyed the chance to see much more of his work. Plus I couldn’t resist a quick browse in the outlet stores. Finally picking up a pair of heeled brogues I’d been coverting for years for an absolute bargain ended our little trip perfectly!

 photo A Trip Up North 1_zpsln7vjlp3.jpgA gorgeous (though a little chilly) few days. I even got my chip butty!

Have you explored much of North UK? Anywhere you’d recommend?