Sunday, 30 November 2014

Premier Housewares Ecocook Cooking Range

Do you have a good set of saucepans and frying pans? They never seem to last long in my household. Either they get scratched or the coating comes off, or food gets baked on and hard to remove, and I end up using scourers on it ( I know I shouldn't). So when I was invited to try some I was looking forward to it. Would I ever have a frying pan that was really non stick, that was difficult to scratch? Would a saucepan be economical, easy to clean and last me a long time?






So I was sent a range from Premier Housewares. Premier Housewares makes the Ecocook homeware range of saucepans and frying pans. This range has been developed to be super hard wearing, non stick and stylish. However in my opinion the most important feature is what makes the range 'Ecocook'.
The Ecocook ceramic coated range come in red, black or green

What does 'Ecocook' mean you may ask? The 'Ecocook' range is free from the synthetic substances that release harmful toxins and the way they are made makes them very economical too.

Often when pans are heated to a high temperature if a synthetic coating is used toxins can be released, with the 'Ecocook' range the coating is made of minerals so it is able to withstand tremendous heat – up to 280°C – without the risk of blistering or cracking and no harmful toxins are released. The body is also made of ceramic coated aluminium which is a very efficient heat conductor too, food cooks quicker and thus money is saved, and who doesn't want to save money in this day and age?




So I put the pans to the test

Firstly I noticed the lovely enamel coating. In the past I would have been wary of the bright coating, in case it chipped. So I was interested to see how the pans would last. 

So I put the pans to the test. Over the course of the week I made a variety of dishes, including pasta with pesto and tomato sauce, chicken tikka marsala and rice, and corned beef and potato pie filling.

One particular thing I noticed was that when I added boiling water to the saucepan, then added the item to cook, and the pan lid, that the water came to the boil very quickly indeed. I actually timed the rice coming to the boil and it took less than 30 seconds. Incredibly quick I thought. It was also easy to control the heat and once brought to the boil the pan only needed the lowest of settings to simmer gently. This, I think you will agree is a very economical use of energy.


Ecocook pans have been awarded the Good Housekeeping Institute seal of approval

One concern I had, was how easy would the pans be to clean. I admit sometimes I don't do the washing up straight away and traditional pans can be a nightmare to clean if you leave them for a few hours. I needn't of worried as with some hot soapy water the Ecocook pans were very easy to clean. It recommends not to use any abrasive cleaner and you certainly don't need to at all. They are even dishwasher safe.



Ecocook ceramic coated frying pan with lid

Another thing I liked about the pans is that they are a nice weight - not really heavy but not super lightweight either. The lids fits perfectly and it was great to be able to see the mixture cooking with the glass lid on.

Prices for the pans are from £14 each, but you do get what you pay for in my humble opinion. They are far superior to any pans I have used before. However only time will tend how long the pans will last.



The saucepan came to the boil in a matter of seconds.

This nifty video below is great at showing the features of the Ecocook frying pan and highlights the sturdy design, ergonomic handle, it's suitability for all hobs and how the ceramic non stick coating is easy to clean.




In conclusion I would highly recommend this range of pans. Whilst they are not the cheapest pans you can buy, they are smart, affordable and ecologically sound. They are so great that they have been awarded the Good Housekeeping Institute seal of approval in 2014 and you don't get much better than that! 

For all the latest information offers, promotions and deals be sure to check out Premier Housewares on


Let me know what you think of these pans? Do you like the economical features, bright colours and ecological design?

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Marisota Style Challenge - The Christmas Party Season

At this time of year I am always on the lookout for new clothes to wear over Christmas. There are many occasions such as Christmas work parties, dinner parties with friends, Christmas dinner with the family and so on. So when Marisota challenged me to put together a series of looks for the Christmas holiday period I relished the chance to browse the website and come up with some festive ideas.


Christmas Work Party




Joanna Hope Sequin bag £25, Mood Aurora Borealis earrings £12, Multiway black bra £26 2 pack of black and white Ella briefs £20,  Velvet navy Skater dress £75

Instead of a little black dress what about a little navy dress? This velvet and navy dress with a sequin bodice is chic and pretty and will certainly turn heads. The mulitway bra won't reveal any straps under the dress and the Mood Aurora Borealis earrings are a fabulous choice as they add something different to the outfit and at such a great price too. Top this off with a sequin bag which is the perfect glamorous accessory for the outfit.

Drinks With Friends 


Lace detail tapered leg jumpsuit £62, Mood diamante crystal shower earrings £10, Sequin Front Kimono £45, Joanna Hope Jewel clutch bag £45

If you go for a few drinks with your friends you may normally throw on some jeans, a cute top and some heels or boots. Well at Christmas I think it's nice to make more of an effort. If you are not a fan of dresses, this lace detail jumpsuit is an understated and easy to wear classic that is great to have in your wardrobe. Suitable for all sizes, why don't you glam it up with diamante drop earrings, a beautiful jewel clutch and an on trend sequin kimono. 

Christmas Formal Dinner And Dance

Magisculpt flocked dress £75, 9ct gold cubic zirconia ring £55, Magisculpt multi way body £35 catwalk collection platform sandals £32

For a formal dinner and dance I have gone for an understated sequin free zone. This Magisculpt dress has built-in panels to keep all your lumps and bumps under control, whilst giving you that hour glass figure. The sheer panelling adds an elegant touch and if you don't like your upper arms being on show the long sleeves cover them up. Paired with a Magisculpt sexy body for that Va Va Voom and killer heels with gold detail you will be looking a million dollars. This cubic zirconia princess cut gold ring will look like you have a million dollars too!

As you can see Marisota has a great range of clothes for the party season, and at the moment if you like them on Facebook you can have 15% off your first order.

Tell me, what do you think of the pieces I have chosen? Do you love the sequin and velvet dress as much as me or is the black lace detail jumpsuit more your thing? Let me know!

* a sponsored post

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Tuesday, 25 November 2014

What To See And Do In Cardiff Bay

Cardiff Bay is one of those places that excites, entertains and even educates you. There is so much to see and do there it is positively outrageous, and with an outstanding choice of bars and restaurants it's the perfect all weather destination whatever time of year. Cardiff Bay is also a Mecca for Whovians or Dr Who fans as they are otherwise known as. Dr Who is filmed around South Wales and Cardiff Bay and fans love spotting where scenes from the show are filmed. 

Here is my top picks of what to do in The Bay for all ages.

For World Class Entertainment




From award winning musicals that come straight from the West End like The Lion King, to stand-up comedians, such as Sarah Millican and Jimmy Carr, and classical and operatic concerts, such as those by the Welsh National Opera, the Wales Millennium Centre is a modern world class entertainment venue. It's also a distinctive and striking landmark that stands out in The Bay. Cafes and restaurants inside, mean you can also grab a snack, drink or full meal and it's signature restaurant FFresh focuses on local and seasonal produce.

For All The Family





Having reopened and moved to its current venue, The Dr Who Experience (pictured to the right of the Norwegian Church) is another stop for fans of the show. This interactive spectacular adventure through time and space is proving so popular that it has won a Certificate of Excellence from Tripadvisor in 2014. You can even have a tour of inside the TARDIS. It's the first stop of every well respecting science fiction loving tourist.

For Educational Fun




Almost every South Wales school kid has visited Techniquest at some point. That doesn't mean that the place isn't fun though, on the contrary this science museum is the perfect place to learn about science through play and is popular with children and adults alike. Prices are very reasonable and you can easily spend half a day or more here.

For Adults 




The Glee Club is a small comedy chain that has the best in new and established stand up comedians. If you are lucky you can catch some big names in comedy here too. I saw Michael Mcintyre trying out new material for his show, and often you can catch big names on the comedy circuit trying out new material prior to the Edinburgh Festival.

Something Quirky

The Shrine to Ianto Jones




This character from the Dr Who spin off Torchwood, was surprisingly killed off in an episode. Fans were shocked and dismayed and almost overnight a wall was covered with fans letters and cards noting the loss of the character. It's become so well known that Mermaid Quay. have erected a plaque to the character near the water.




Where to Eat





Cardiff Bay has many cafes and restaurants. The Cote Brasserie is part of a chain but you would never guess. Amazing French classics combined with excellent service, with lunch and pre theatre specials, make this a great place to eat in The Bay. French Onion soup, Roasted Belly Pork, Breton Chicken with Provencal Sauce, and Creme Brulee will take you to heaven, and back. 

For more information on what to do in and around Cardiff and where to stay check out the Millenium Hotels Guide .

Tell me have you been to Cardiff Bay? Would you visit if you were in the area?
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How Travel Has Evolved Over The Last Thirty Years

James Villa holidays celebrate their 30th anniversary this year, and have undergone some interesting research into how our travel habits have changed in the last 30 years. Over 2700 people were quizzed in their travel survey and some of the findings are below.

Do you remember 1984? This was the year that pound notes were taken out of circulation, all teenagers thought they were a character from The Breakfast Club and the high tech computer game of the moment was Tetris. Frankie Goes to Hollywood got Relax to number one and was banned on radio 1, Kevin Bacon was the dancing teen rebel in Footloose and not a parody of himself in a phone advert and leg warmers and snoods were the accessories of the moment.

Our holiday habits have changed since then too. Of course we booked our holidays through a travel agent, as computers were yet to take over our life, and mobile phones weren't widely used until the next decade. It seemed a simpler life then. Do you remember travel agents had a secret 'book' with unbiased reviews of hotels they stashed under the counter? If you wanted to read about places you had to look at travel brochures or guidebooks as there was no Internet as we know it now, no price comparison sites or review sites and no ability for the consumer to book hotels or flights online.



private pools almost seem essential to the modern traveller

Where we vacation has changed too. Our favourite long haul destination used to be the US but now Australia is the clear leader with the US second and Japan third. Our favourite short haul used to be Spain but now Italy is a clear favourite. We also have had a foodie revolution with nice places to eat nearby overtaking a swimming pool as an expected part of a holiday. We seem to want a little bit more luxury today and consumers wanting a private pool has more than doubled in the last thirty years. Foreign travel certainly seems more affordable today and things we used to think of as luxuries are now the norm.

Some things never change though - spending quality time with loved ones is still our number one priority then as now and the number one essential holiday item is still an old fashioned book. Relaxing from the strains of modern life is still a necessity for us although many of use can't be without our mobile phones on holiday.

Why don't you have a look at the infographic below and let me know what you think? Have your travel habits changed? Where did you like to go on holiday in the past compared to now?

30 Years of Experience In The Travel Industry - Infographic
James Villa Holidays - 30 Years of Travel Infographic

* a sponsored post
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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Win With Hotel Chocolat This Christmas - Ends 12/12/14

I must admit, I am huge fan of Hotel Chocolat and have been for a while. This British chocolatier was set up 20 years ago, and produce luxury chocolates with a sense of fun and an ethical conscious. They help support cocoa growing communities in Saint Lucia and Ghana and use high-quality ingredients in every single chocolate they produce.

I'm always in my local Cardiff store, and last year I bought their Christmas crackers for my dinner table on Christmas day. No rubbish toys or cringeworthy jokes, just delicious yummy chocolates with a sense of style ( you get three in the individual cracker) and jokes that are actually funny! If you buy three or more they are on multi-buy too. 


I have been lucky over the last couple of years to review Hotel Chocolat so this year I couldn't wait to see what they would send me to review for Christmas.




When you order online with Hotel Chocolat everything is beautifully wrapped in their signature bag with a bow. Doesn't this look exciting! Inside was the Hotel Chocolat H box Christmas selection.




This box of delight contains 14 chocolates including the Christmas Eton Mess, Mulled Wine Truffles, Caramel Supernova, Christmas Gianduja, and Caramel Christmas Tree amongst other chocs. Perfect for sharing on Christmas Day, perhaps with coffee after dinner, or keeping all to yourself for an indulgent treat, one thing is sure - everyone will love the delicious chocolates inside.



My Favourites

A mix of white, dark and milk chocolate, the box is perfectly put together to appeal to the whole family.






The Caramel Christmas Tree was yummy, smooth, sweet and creamy. The Christmas Eton mess was delightful - a white chocolate filled cup with a strawberry filling and decorated with meringue and dried cranberry. Caramel Supernova was outstanding, a soft caramel centre with a smooth rich chocolate star. The Nutty Caramel is perfect for nut lovers everywhere - and how can anyone resist a whole Piedmont hazelnut with smooth gianduja and salted caramel.

The Gingerbread Truffle has a mild kick from the gingerbread spices and if you like dark chocolate the Champagne Truffle has a dark chocolate shell with a sweet truffle centre and a hint of champagne. Truly decadent.

Priced at only twelve pounds I think the box represents great value, for the quality, variety and taste on offer. Each chocolate is meant to be nibbled and savoured slowly.


Today on my blog I am giving you the chance to win the Christmas H Box selection as shown above. To enter I want you to pop over to the Hotel Chocolate website and let me know which chocolates you would like for Christmas.

Entry is via the Rafflecopter application below, leave a comment on my blog is a mandatory option and you will get optional extra entries for entering via social media.

While you are here I have other competitions running including win your Christmas presents worth nearly £300 so why don't you check out my competition page.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


SuperLucky Blog Giveaway Linky
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Saturday, 22 November 2014

What To Do In South Wales This Christmas

South Wales has many wonderful activities this Christmas time. Here is my list of what you must see and do across the South Wales area to get you in the festive mood.




Cardiff Castle at Christmas By Ben Salter - Flickr CC Licence.

Christmas Morning Swim Porthcawl

Every year my little seaside town has a Christmas morning swim to raise money for local charities. Now over 1000 people join in the fun, so why don't you don the fancy dress (optional) and take part, or just watch the merriment from the sidelines? Tenby also have a Boxing Day Swim if you live in West Wales.



Porthcawl Morning Swim by John - Flickr CC Licence

A Traditional Christmas at St Fagans

St Fagans, also known as the Museum of Welsh Life, which is just outside Cardiff, has many events over the Christmas period that are free or under £5. You can make Christmas decorations, or sing along to traditional carols with the St Fagins Christmas Songsheet.  Of course a visit to Santa always makes the little one's day.


Swansea Waterfront Wonderland

Swansea's award winning attraction is available from Friday 14 November to Sunday 4 January and is based in the heart of the city. There is ice skating, a children's rink, a festive funfair and Santa's grotto. Lots for the whole family to see and do. Charges vary for activities on offer.



Swansea Winter Wonderland by *Nom and Mac - Flickr CC Licence

Caerphilly Castle Victorian Christmas

From the 13th to the 14th of December, Caerphilly castle hold a fabulous Victorian Christmas with ghost tales, Punch and Judy shows, a Victorian fairground and a Victorian tea room. Adults cost £5.50 for entry and children go free.

Cardiff Winter Wonderland

Take in the delights of the Alpine village where you can enjoy German snacks and drinks such as gluhwein and bratwurst, let the kids go on the rides at the funfair, listen to singers and bands and try out the ice rink. Charges vary for activities. Be sure to book the skating in advance as it can get busy.



Cardiff Winter Wonderland by Jon Candy - Flickr CC Licence

Watch The Turning On Of The Christmas Lights

Nothing feels more Christmassy than the turning on of the Christmas lights. Local celebrities and carol singers, and Christmas stalls can add to the festive fun. Cardiff and Swansea's lights were turned on this week and Barry's lights get turned on, on the 29th Of November, whilst for Llanelli it's the 21st of November. 




Cardiff Christmas Lights St Mary's Street by Mark Hesteltine - Flickr CC Licence

Brecon Mountain Railway Santa Specials

This was recommended to me by a number of friends. Ride the steam train to see Santa in his grotto. My son would have adored this when he was little! All adults and children receive a present whilst sherry and mince pies are served to the adults. Prices from £8.50 and under 3's go free.




Brecon Mountain Railway by Will Richards - Flickr CC Licence

So this is my pick of what to do in South Wales this Christmas. There are loads more to do in the area, from Christmas afternoon tea in the Vale Hotel or the Celtic Manor, to watching Santa feed the deer in Margam Park. Also don't forget a panto, Cinderella is on at The New Theatre Cardiff and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs is at the Swansea Grand ... but watch out, he's behind you!

Tell me do you have any tips or recommendations on what to do this Christmas in South Wales?
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Friday, 21 November 2014

Make Jewel Street Your Destination This Christmas

I have a lot of jewellery. This comes from owning my own jewellers in the past and obviously blogging about jewellery and fashion. I like to look out for independent designers, with great craftsmanship and uniqueness. So I was interested to find over 250 independent designers together in one place at Jewel Street. It is a browsing mecca for jewellery lovers everywhere!


The Choosing Process


What I loved on first glance is the professionalism of the website. The website is well laid out, the top of the page highlighting the beautiful jewellery, and sections such as Men, Women, Christmas and Browse, with the bottom of the page explaining more such as 'How It Works', and 'As Seen In' being in prominent positions. This is extremely useful for those that haven't shopped with this company before, and it's also nice to read the coverage of the jewellery in different publications.

As an online shopper to a website I have never been to before, I look for security in shopping and the logos on the home page of Verified by Visa, Paypal Verified and Mastercard SecureCode are very reassuring. I also noticed that they are members of the BJA. The BJA or British Jewellery Association is a national trade organisation that supports jewellery companies. If you are wondering why it is important to the consumer, it is that companies have to adhere to a code of a high level of service, business ethics and quality.

To choose two items from their website I clicked on the 'Women' section at the top of the page, then clicked on 'Types Of Jewellery' and 'Earrings'. You can order these in price order which I did as I was looking for earrings under £35 and you can also select the type of earrings so I chose drops. Then I selected the two designs to review below.

The Jewellery

Cavendish French

Cavendish French create stunning and unique silver jewellery for the individual. A unique collection of handcrafted sterling silver and stone set jewellery which is all about style, quality and individuality.



Cavendish French designs have a large boutique on Jewel Street so there are a lot of interesting pieces to choose from. Hearts, flowers, stone set, classic or contemporary there is something for everyone here.

The silver drop earrings I chose are very versatile and can be worn every day or when going out. The beaten effect adds a touch of sparkle when they catch the light and a little bit of glamour without going over the top. Priced at just £30 they would make an excellent Christmas gift for jewellery lovers.


Kali Ma Designs

Kali Ma Designs was created in 1996 by Emma Perkins to bring together a collection of affordable, timeless silver jewellery for women of all ages made with Sterling Silver.


Kali Ma have a small boutique on Jewel Street. What I love about the designs from Kali Ma, is that they are cute and supremely affordable. I chose to pick a pair of drop earrings made from blue chalcedony. These pretty earrings have a fluted bezel setting which adds that extra detail to the earring. The stone is cut in a chequerboard way and the hook design is easy to wear.

When the earrings arrived I was taken by the uniqueness of the stone. On the website, the stone is more opaque than in real life but that is the beauty of natural gemstones, you never know exactly what you are going to get as each stone is unique. Priced just under £20 these make a perfect payday treat for yourself.




In Conclusion

The browsing and choosing process was easy to do and a pleasurable experience. I was also pleased to find out that approximately three-quarters of the sale of an item goes directly to the independent designers. This is actually a lot more than if you bought in many shops.

All items are price matched and you have a 30-day money back guarantee should you change your mind about an item * certain restrictions may apply.

Christmas shopping can be tough, you have to wrap up warm for the weather, then fight the crowds, realise you are so warm you can't breathe, stand in a queue so a 'barista' can make you a cappuccino, then brave the busy roads or overstuffed public transport until you get back to your door. At Jewel Street, you can put your feet up with a homemade latte, and browse all the great designers from the warmth and comfort of your own home. I know what I would choose any day.

Tell me would you shop at Jewel Street? What do you think of the designs I have chosen.
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Thursday, 20 November 2014

How To Style Mom Jeans

A guest post by Esther from Inside Out and About Blog.

How to style the ‘MOM’ jeans

I have been determined to ignore the appearance of ‘MOM’ jeans because I live in skinny jeans. Skinny jeans gave me a mild heart attack when they reemerged circa 2004, but now I can’t imagine wearing anything else. I was hoping the ‘MOM’ jean would quietly go away, as apparently ladies with a larger bum and thighs (such as myself) should steer clear of them at all costs! They are straight out of the 90s - vintage wash, with a high waist and tapered leg. They certainly look comfier than skinny jeans, so I did what I usually do in these situations - bought some from eBay, that way I can sell them on if they turn out to look hideous.

When I first put them on I was instantly transported back a decade (or so) and I felt ridiculous. I swiftly removed them, and decided to do a bit of outfit research with the help of my best friend (Google) and my other stylish friend (Pinterest). Gosh - there are some gorgeous people out there wearing MOM jeans! I had a little look through my wardrobe and put together some combos that would make wearing MOM jeans palatable. I didn’t realise how easily they could be dressed up and with very basic pieces. They are far more versatile than they look.

Here are three looks that I’ve tried and tested over the last few weeks. MOM jeans are comfortable, fun and I’ve decided that it doesn’t matter two hoots what your body shape is...or your age for that matter.

Look 1






Jeans - Topshop, Tee - GAP, Leather Jacket - Miss Selfridge, Shoes - Topshop, Necklace - Vintage

Look 2





Jeans - Topshop, Blouse - H&M, Leather Jacket - Miss Selfridge, Shoes - Faith, Clutch - New Look

Look 3






Jeans - Topshop, Stripy Tee - Hobbs, Trainers - Converse

Do you love or hate the MOM jea or have you been sporting them since the 90s, and wondering what all the fuss is about? I know what I’ll be slipping on when I want to instantly feel 10 years younger!

Another tip - do not wear your hair in a ponytail whilst wearing MOM jeans. Try it, and you will know exactly what I mean.

Esther xx
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Monday, 17 November 2014

Great Voucher Codes To Save Money At Christmas With Voucher Sky

I love spending money, don't we all? But my love of spending money on the nice things in life is balanced with my love of saving money on things that matter.

There are lots of ways to save money including cancelling unused subscriptions and memberships, using comparison websites for everything from travel insurance to food shopping, and simply using voucher codes and offers to get a great deal.

Vouchersky is a voucher coupon website that brings you the latest bargains and online shopping deals all in one place.  




What I liked about the website is that the voucher codes are updated in a daily basis so you never have to worry about the codes being out of date. The website is packed full of promotional codes, free delivery vouchers and special offers from thousands of the UK best and most recognisable online retailers. We are talking big names here from Currys and Zavvi to John Lewis and Appliances Online.

I think it's well worth spending ten minutes checking out the website to find some great offers, especially when buying an expensive item or when doing your Christmas shopping. Electrical retailers, kitchenware, gadgets, electronics, experience tickets, travel and hotel offers are all in one place. They even have an A to Z of companies so you can browse quickly in no time at all.

And the best thing about Voucher Sky is that you save money and it doesn't cost you at all. You may wonder how this company works, but for every person who buys something through their links they get a small commission.

I'm a big fan of John Lewis and this is just some of the offers that are available at the moment by going through the Voucher Sky website.


As you can see lots of offers, promotions and deals. If you are looking for a specific company there is an easy to use search bar at the top of the screen too.

They have a great range of fashion retailers including Wallis, Daxon, Bon Marche, AX Paris, Bench and Quiz Fashion. 

My pick of offers include sign up to their newsletter and get 20% with your first order with jewellery retailer Gemondo, save 10% with spabreaks.com and £15 off your first order over £30 for new customers with La Redoute.

Tell me, how do you save money? Would you consider using this voucher codes website to make your money go further?

* This is a sponsored post, offers may vary and be date specific.

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Friday, 14 November 2014

What To Do In And Around Peterborough

Today's guest post is by Codie Louise Austin from www.codiekinz.co.uk. Codie blogs about life 
 and being a young woman in the North West of the UK.

On the odd occasion the love of my life and I travel down to my home town of Peterborough, I am struck by how a place can seem in the eyes of someone who did not grow up there. My entire life I had been desperate to escape my ‘Paper Town’, and move to somewhere where life was actually happening. During our time ‘down South’ Steven insists we stop to take pictures of endless rolling fields (yawn!) and marvels at thatched cottages (cute, but a total fire hazard!) as if they are one of the several wonders of the world. As much as I mock, I know that I am almost as bad when it comes to his hometown of Southport. The boy grew up by the seaside! I can’t possibly imagine growing up a literal stones throw from the beach (as devoid of actual sand as Southport is) and feel like everyday must have been like the Bank Holiday Monday’s that my family and I drove the 2.5 hours to Mabletherpe - Heaven!

However, as is often the way when you become too used to a place, both Steven and myself seem utterly desensitised by the places we grew up, and quite often, the ‘tourist’ hot spots that everyone else is dying to visit, are places we have never even ventured.






It is for this reason, however, that I am basing a ‘travel’ post, on staying at home. Bare with me here. When I do get to take Steven to the place I grew up, it takes a while to think of anything to do. When I really look though, tourist centre leaflets strewn around me, and I try to see ‘home’ from his point of view, I realise that everywhere has a treasure trove of hidden gems. 


For Peterborough it’s the Cathedral (I spent many a teenage day kissing in the grounds with an acne ridden hormone-machine, but never once actually ventured inside the beautiful building), Ferry Meadows (for bike rides, boating on the lake and fairytale picnics) and Queensgate, the shopping centre that seems to have the exact right shops in for me (Y’know, McDonalds, Thorntons, HMV). 

For Steven’s Southport, my heart gets excited for Splashworld (so many flumes!), Pleasure Land (not what it sounds like - it’s a fairground!), and the infinite amounts of amusements, Ice Cream parlours and buckets and spades! We will both readily admit that until we had to find something interesting to do in our home towns, we didn’t think there was anything to do! So now, we make a special effort, to rediscover the towns just as we would Paris, New York or London. With open eyes and ready minds, to find adventure everywhere - even Peterborough!




So try it this weekend! Try and do the touristy activities that you often actively avoid, and endeavour to enjoy the places you’ve always taken for granted - you don’t have to hop on a plane to find excitement!
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Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Visiting South Africa

A guest post by Lisa from the­dame.com 

South Africa is a vast and beautiful land filled with a variety of cultures, colours, tastes, sounds, smells and experiences. You will see locals with a ready smile on their faces everywhere you go. You will experience some of the most delicious food you will ever eat, served to you by joyous people in sumptuous surroundings. South Africa is a smorgasbord of delight and not as scary as you might assume.


Juergen)

There are three main cities in South Africa, Gauteng (also known as Johannesburg), Durban and Cape Town. When visiting South Africa, it’s a good idea to try to visit each city and see how they differ from each other. Read on to find out more about each major city. 


Gauteng



Marjo van Diem)

Gauteng is the big city. It’s where business is brokered and stars are made. The capital of South Africa is nearby at Pretoria (now called Tshwane) but Gauteng is where most people travel to. It is a juxtaposition of luxurious leafy suburbs and less so, you will be met with high security homes with large gardens and upmarket cars in behind their electric gates. Yes, it may be disconcerting, but if you look past this way of life, you will see South Africa has much more to offer.

Gauteng is split into North, South, East and West with each area having a distinct neighbourhood. The north being where the monied live and where you will find the business district full of fancy high rise buildings and beautiful shopping malls. In fact, you will find enormous shopping malls in every part of Gauteng.

Kruger National Park


Charles (Chuck) Peterson)

Just a couple hours drive north of Gauteng is the world famous Kruger National Park. This park spans across land as big as England and houses all of South Africa’s big five game; Rhino, Leopard, Lion, Elephant, Water Buffalo. Taking a few days to explore this incredible game reserve will give you memories for a lifetime. There are plenty of places to stay in the reserve and you can hire a car (a must when traveling in South Africa) to drive around the reserve spotting animals, many of which will be close to the roads. You will see elephants cross the road right in front of your eyes, giraffe munching on trees on the side of the road, zebras and all kinds of buck, plenty of monkeys and baboons and a wealth of birdlife. It is an incredible experience that is well worth including in your trip to South Africa.

Durban




kriscip)

Durban is on the east coast of South Africa and enjoys the warm water of the Indian Ocean which gifts the coast line with some of the best surfing waves in the world. Durban is hot, it’s humid and it’s chock full of culture. Durban is vibrant and has an old timey feel that refuses to let go. You will feel like you are going back in time.

Beachfront


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Durban is most famous for it’s beachfront, spanning up to 10kms in length and presided over by many famous hotels as well as apartment blocks built in the 1920’s so if you love art deco architecture, you will love Durban beachfront.

The beachfront is bookended on both ends by tourist favourites. In the north you can marvel at the Moses Mabhida stadium and in the south you will find uShaka Seaworld.

Markets 




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Given that Durban is home to the largest Indian population outside of India, you will find every spice under the sun being sold in Durban’s famous markets which are a delicious assault to the senses. Be sure to try Durban’s most famous food, the bunny chow. No, it’s not made from rabbits, it’s in fact a loaf of bread cut in half with the filling scooped out and then filled with a delicious curry, an absolute must try when you are there!

Cape Town 




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Cape Town is for the hippies, the bohemians, the creatives. Tumbling down from the base of Table Mountain to the edge of the Atlantic (or Indian) ocean, it is one of the most beautiful cities in the world with so much to do. 

After choosing from world class hotels, you will want to either hike up (or take a rail car up) Table Mountain on a clear day. The views are spectacular. If you decide to take the car, there are smaller hills (Signal Hill or Lion’s Head) on either side of Table Mountain that offer robust hikes.



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Once you finally descend from the mountain, spend the twilight hours at the harbour choosing from many restaurants to dine in or just taking in a stroll around the tinkling boats.


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Before you leave Cape Town, be sure to check in on the penguins at Boulders Beach in Simonstown. Depending on what time of the year you visit, you could also take in a bit of whale watching around beautiful, sleepy Hermanus.

Cape Wine Route


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Cape Town is famous for it’s wine regions and you will find plenty day trips into the vineyards of Stellenbosch. This is a must do as there is plenty to see and marvel at. Truly, Cape Town is South Africa’s jewel!

The Garden Route


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Last but certainly not least, be sure to add a trip along The Garden Route to the Eastern Cape. This drive will take you along South Africa’s coastal countryside with incredible views of the changing landscape and all kinds of adventures to explore.

By the time you leave South Africa you will be drunk with the beauty and pleasure of it all having been taken care of by the most hospitable people, experience all kinds of adventures and certainly kept on your toes. You will highly recommend a visit to South Africa to all that you know.

Essentials when traveling to South Africa

● Hire a car.

● Stay in a reputable hotel that can tell you where to go and what to do.

● Keep your valuables hidden but don’t expect to be mugged at every turn!

● Smile and be open to it’s cultural diversity and hospitality.

● Try biltong and boerewors!

Author Bio

Lisa Walton is the dame behind the­dame.com a lifestyle blog unconvering the unconventional, curating the creative and championing the self­made path. Lisa was born and raised in South Africa and is now an expat living in the UK. Lisa visits South Africa as often as possible and has traveled all over the world. Her motto is to live life bold and be unapologetically authentic.
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