Monday, 21 January 2019

What To Do In Lisbon Portugal in 48 Hours

Lisbon, Portugal's vibrant capital has much to entertain locals and tourists alike. Sitting on seven hills at the mouth of the Tagus river where it meets the Atlantic, it is continental Europe’s westernmost capital and one of the worlds oldest cities. 

Lisbon is fairly compact for a city and you can get around by foot or on the local trams - a very good idea when you have to climb one of the steep hills.  If you only have 48 hours to spare, here is what to do in Lisbon, when time is of the essence. 

Visit Baxia and Chiado 


Baxia and Chido are the areas you need to go to shop. The historic centre – the Baixa Pombalina, has traditional shops and museums, and the lively streets of Chiado, has an eclectic mix of contemporary and traditional stores. Most of this area was rebuilt in the 18th century after the Great Lisbon earthquake of 1755.

Take the Santa Justa Lift


Connecting Baixa to the Bairro Alto is the Santa Justa Lift, Elevador de Santa Justa. This lift was designed by Raoul Mesnier du Ponsard, a student of Gustave Eiffel and you can really see his influence in the design. Take the lift up for a view of the city.  However, if there is a queue, take the steps and save your money, it's not worth queuing for longer than 10 minutes.

Visit the Time Out Market



The Time Out Market is a great place to stop for food and drink. This cool food hall is located in the Mercado Da Ribeira at Cais do Sodre. Choose your dishes from the independent eateries, grab a cocktail, beer or soft drink and then sit enjoying the freshest produce on long communal tables. There is even a section ran by well-known Michelin starred chefs.  

Exploring the winding streets of Alfama


Lisbon’s oldest neighbourhood, Alfama, is an interesting area of winding narrow streets and steep staircases which lead you up to São Jorge castle which overlooks the city. It's a beautiful neighbourhood full of colourful houses. Ride on the number 28 tram which connects Graça with Baixa and passes through the streets and hills of Alfama for an authentic experience. 

Take in a Fado show


Alfama is home of Fado music. This melancholy music about the realities of life is soulful and mournful and beautiful to listen to as the singers have real depth in their singing. We saw a girl in her early 20's singing and a man in his 90's both equally good, the old man had an edge to him from all the years he has lived.

Explore Belem



Explore Belém, the cultural district of Lisbon. Many of Lisbon’s landmarks are here such as the Torre de Belém and the Monument to the Discoveries as well as the Praça do Império, a city square and park. A UNESCO heritage site, the Jerónimos Monastery is also worth a visit.

Book a tour with local guides


To get a real depth of knowledge about this city, book a tour with local guides.  It's a great way to find those hidden gems only a local knows. There are a number of paid and free tours in Lisbon, and a quick serach of the internet will bring up the prices and reviews. Don't forget to tip if you find the guide excellent.

Take an afternoon to discover Sintra


Only a thirty-minute drive from Lisbon is the lush green mountains, medieval castles and romantic 19th-century palaces of Sintra - a UNESCO world heritage. I would highly recommend a visit to the Pena Palace, it's grandiose design and the mix of architectural styles makes it a must see inside and out.

Eat the local food




Finally, don't forget to eat the local cuisine. from fresh sardines eaten with local bread to Caldo Verde, a kale soup, to Carne de Porco Alentejana a dish of pork and clams. My favourites were the Portuguese tarts or Pastel de Nata. Drunk with a little of the local port, these egg custard tarts with a crisp pastry base are simply moreish. 


pin for later


So here is what to do in Lisbon Portugal in 48 hours. Tell me, have you been to Lisbon? 
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Friday, 18 January 2019

The Bath Arms - A Delectable Country Pub With Rooms

Within the Longleat Estate, famous for its country house and safari park, is a country pub with rooms called The Bath Arms.  It's the perfect place to stop overnight when exploring Longleat or the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. An added bonus is the beautiful city of Bath is only 20 miles away.

I was invited to review the accommodation and food recently, on a complimentary basis and report back to my readers and this is what I thought. 

After a two hour drive from South Wales down picturesque country roads, Mr W and I arrived at the Bath Arms. 

First appearances were good of this well-preserved country pub with rooms. Check in was a simple process at the bar and before long we were shown to our room.



The room we were given, the Fallow room, was a superior room and was a reasonable size. 



All rooms are slightly different and individual in The Bath Arms. Our room was decorated in muted shades of beige and white with a red check throw and good quality matching cushions. The side tables and chest of drawers had an opulent feel with a silver inlaid design. 


The antique style table lamp was a nice touch as well as the DAB clock radio, a great mix of modern and traditional touches.


The bathroom was chic and modern, in black and white with a white tiled rainfall shower. Everything was spotlessly clean, and although it wasn't large the bathroom was perfectly formed. I liked the touch sensor light on the bathroom mirror.



Toiletries of shampoo and shower gel were provided but unfortunately no conditioner. Maybe this is something they could consider adding to the room in the future. A hairdryer was provided and which is always nice to have. Towels were good quality and bathrobes were also provided.



In the room, we had two bottles of complimentary water, tea and coffee and a packet of biscuits. It would have been nice to have more biscuits as two biscuits in a pack for two people isn't generous. I've noticed this with many hotels and not just here.   Now if you like coffee you would have been impressed with the Dolce Gusto coffee machine. It really was a state of the art machine!




The manageress who showed us to our room did say that a kettle was available if required as some people find the coffee machine complicated. Mr W had no problem using it but it wasn't the simplest machine I admit,  still, it made a great cup of coffee.




The design of the chest of drawers was gorgeous, covered in a metallic embossed finish - really different and unique and it matched the side tables too.


There was no wardrobe in the room and some could argue that this was a design feature, instead, there were coat hooks with hangers provided to hang up clothes.  Next to this was a large smart TV with built-in DVD player.
What I did notice was there were plenty of plugs and USB chargers in the room. 



Information about the surrounding area and the accommodation was provided in the room. The Bath Arms is only a stone's throw from Longleat House and adventure safari park and you can book Longleat experience packages through the pub. Useful if you want to book a surprise trip away for a loved one.



We had some beautiful views from the room of the countryside around, and I bet on a hot summers day the outdoor courtyard area is a great place to sit with a glass of wine or a beer.







Our room was on the first floor and to get there you pass a small seating area with vintage looking chairs and a pile of old books, all adding to the rustic charm. 

Dinner that night was downstairs in the pub. There is a cosy bar area as well as a separate slightly more formal dining area. 


The food sounded delicious and was an interesting mix of traditional British food, including game and adventurous vegetarian dishes. I was particularly impressed that the meat they use is local and free range.



After perusing the menu I decided to go with scallops, venison and apple crumble whilst Mr W went with the selection of bread and oils, and a chickpea and polenta Panisee with a chocolate brownie for dessert.



The whole menu sounded great.



My scallops were presented as a work of art and looked fantastic. The scallops were perfectly cooked and were presented on slices of lamb with a pea puree. I think a little more seasoning would have lifted this dish up a level though.



I was unsure about ordering the venison at first, and I was hoping it didn't have a strong gamey flavour. I shouldn't have worried. The venison from Wiltshire was served pink and tasted delicious. With a flavour similar to beef it was served with roasted carrots with a hint of sweetness and nestled on a bed of fennel, shitake mushrooms and crushed new potatoes. A drizzle of orange and lapsang souchong jus added a citrus touch. A very good main course.


I managed to squeeze in a pudding. Well, it would be rude not to, wouldn't it, especially when I saw a favourite of mine on the menu - apple crumble. Now, this simple dish can often be neglected or tweaked too much - it can be too sharp, it can have an oaty topping, or the fruit can be mixed with others. This was simplicity at its best, sweet apple, crumbly flour and sugar topping and creamy vanilla laden custard. Perfection.



Mr W enjoyed his dishes but was quick to eat them. I did, however, manage to snap a photo of his dessert which looked amazing and tasted gooey and delectable. Well I had to try it, didn't I?

After our meal, we went to the bar for a couple of drinks. I was impressed with the selection of champagne and cosy atmosphere. 

The next morning we had a comfortable night sleep but were awoken by children jumping around upstairs. I guess with old buildings like this you could have noise from other guests and is something to bear in mind.





The breakfast consisted of a simple continential choice, with croissants, yoghurts, cereral and fruit and also a cooked to order menu. 



The cooked to order choices consisted of a full English breakfast, bacon or sausage sandwich, buttermilk pancakes, and more. Mr W had poached eggs on toast with bacon and I had a bacon sandwich. I asked for soya milk for my tea and was pleased to see that this was available. 

The cooked to order breakfast was good however the continental choice was limited - the fruit consisted of tinned mandarins and a little fresh fruit mixed in, the fruit juice was not fresh, and a small number of fruit yoghurts were available with no plain yoghurt. Whilst not a deal breaker this could be a little better I personally feel.  


We both enjoyed our stay at The Bath Arms. I really liked the room decor, and the evening meal was very tasty. Using locally sourced food is to be highly commended and the menu choices were adventurous with the food beautifully presented. Although not entirely perfect,  I think it is a good choice when exploring the area around Longleat. Recommended.

The Bath Arms
Longleat,
Horningsham,
Warminster
BA12 7LY
Tel 01985 844308
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Wednesday, 16 January 2019

The Latest Craze Sweeping Weddings!

Whether it was a disposable camera left on the table in the ’90s or a traditional photo booth in the noughties there has always been a desire for guests to capture their own fun pictures when celebrating a wedding.

The photo booth industry is thriving with new innovations been developed annually, one of which was the new Magic Selfie Mirror.


This differs from its predecessors quite significantly and offers many more advantages than were previously available to clients.

Like any other photo booth, it comes packed with all the usual functionality. It will take pictures of you and your guests, they can be shared to email, SMS and social media and it will print them! But let's talk about where this product really stands out.

Firstly, it looks striking, and from first glance, it's like looking at a large mirror as you can’t see any of the magic that lies under the hood. It is interactive and guided by animations, so you and your guests are entertained throughout the process. It also takes up a lot less space should this be a consideration for your venue. You can draw, sign and eve
n put emojis on the prints which adds that little extra customisation. 

All this sounds great, right? But here is the real selling point for weddings, unlike any other product on the market its portrait! So, unlike the sometimes-limited traditional photo booth, you get to see more than just the head and shoulders of a subject and capture those beautiful wedding dresses in their glory. Also, should you have wheelchair users or children coming? No problem as its portrait it will capture everything!

So, there you have it, the Magic Selfie Mirror, over at My Fun Photo Booth.  They offer photo booth hire in Surrey, Sussex, Kent and London and in 2019 it will certainly take centre stage at weddings up and down the country!


*Guest post

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Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Planning The Ultimate Family Holiday In Tenerife

Is your family holiday one of the highlights of your year? The answer is probably yes because let’s face it, there’s nothing better than heading away with the ones you love.

A family holiday, done well is designed to help you relax and unwind as you forget the stresses of your daily life, perhaps getting some sun, enjoying delicious food and exploring the country, however, there are a few things you need to get right before you go.



Firstly, getting the destination right is one of them. If you love the sun, the Canary Islands has a year-round sunny climate making it a great destination for water sports and family fun. The Canary Islands have always been popular and is one of th
e cheapest places to head on a sun holiday. Of the islands that make up the Canary Islands, Tenerife has been consistently busy with families for years, making it a great place to take everyone.

To plan the perfect Tenerife vacation, there is a lot to take into consideration, which is why we’ve listed some helpful tips below for when you’re planning the ultimate family holiday in Tenerife.Budgeting



Of course, this is one of the most important things to do before you go on holiday, work out your budget. The last thing you want to do is book something you can’t pay for. To work out your budget firstly, you’ll need to consider some of the activities you want to do on your holiday.

Are you going to explore? You may need a hire car or to pay for excursions. You may also need admission costs to get into water parks and museums. To save money you’ll probably want to book every element yourself, such as flights and accommodation. You can save money self-catering for sure. If you are planning it all yourself you may want to explore more authentic restaurants and cafes too, other than the hotel's own. If this is the case you’ll need to account for how long you’re going for, and how much money you’ll need each day. You can pay off parts of the holiday in advance to help with saving and budgeting. Don't forget using the pool of your hotel is free.

However, if you don't want the hassle of organising everything, you’re just going to get away, maybe all-inclusive is better for you. This means you can do it all through an agent, and essentially everything on your holiday will be paid for. You’ll just need to take a little spending money and decide on what to do while there.

What to D
o




This obviously brings us on to our next point; what to do while you’re there.

Many people on an all-inclusive holiday will stay at the resort for a lot of the holiday, however, why not spend some days exploring? There is so much to do in Tenerife that you will be spoilt for choice. Here are some of the top ten activities:

Siam Park
Science and Cosmos museum
Loro Parque
Visit the butterfly farm
Forestal Park
Whale and dolphin watching
Submarine Safari
Camel Rides
Lag Martianez
Explore Pueblo Chico

As you can see there is a lot to do in Tenerife! Why not check out the Canary Island tourism website to plan your trip.

With these helpful tips, your Tenerife holiday should run as smoothly as possible, whatever it is you choose to do.

*Guest post

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Monday, 14 January 2019

My West End Wishlist For 2019

There are many reasons why people go to the theatre - it's such an immersive experience and a really enjoyable spectacle and this year I have made a resolution to go to the theatre more. As well as visiting my local theatres in Cardiff I really want to visit the West End again and see a theatre production in London. There is nothing like seeing a show in the theatre district of the UK's capital city, so here is my West End wishlist for 2019.

Les Miserables

This musical based on the 1882 novel of the same name by Victor Hugo is well known and has been running for a while. I have seen the film starring one of my favourite actors Hugh Jackman and to see this memorable production on the stage with a live orchestra would be amazing. It's such a dramatic play with huge highs and lows and the live music will just really make the show. 


This is my first choice of a show to see this year in the West End before it tours the country. It has been seen by 70 million people worldwide in 45 countries and I can't believe I have yet to see it.


The Book Of Mormon



The Book Of Mormon is a musical comedy that I have already seen and would love to see again. The play makes light of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormons' and various Mormon beliefs and practices. However, it ultimately endorses the positive power of love that the Mormons' give out. Written by Trey Parker and the rest of the team at South Park it's about Mormon missionaries that are preaching their religion to a remote Ugandan village. The villagers, however, have more on their mind than religion such as poverty, war and AIDS.

The Mormons even appear to endorse it as they advertise in the brochure for the show - 'you've seen the play now read the book!' Winner of 9 Tony Awards, it's a surprisingly light-hearted and uplifting show however not for the easily offended.  

Harry Potter And The Cursed Child 


Now, I must admit I haven't read a Harry Potter book but I have seen the films and this show is next on my list. Marketed as the "eighth story" of Harry Potter, taking place after Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Even the critics have enjoyed this show with The Telegraph calling it 'a magical show with a strong emotional core' and The Guardian stating the 'thrilling Broadway transfer is magic'. 

One of the reasons I really want to see this show is the fact that I believe it will be a really immersive experience with amazing sets. I've been to the Wizarding World Of Harry Potter in Universal Studios Orlando and the awe-inspiring sets here has really motivated me to go and see it.

There are so many different London theatre shows out there, the most dramatic thrillers, colourful musicals for kids, shows where dance is the star and shows where comedy is the main attraction. Let me know, have you been to the West End in London? Do you have a favourite theatre show?


*Collaborative post
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Friday, 11 January 2019

SoundPEATS TrueFree Wireless Headphones Review And Competition Ends 31/01

Tis the season to be jolly once again and as a Christmas gift, SoundPEATS sent me something special to review - TrueFree Wireless Headphones. Now my son Jake, loves his headphones so I gave the task of reviewing them to him, so over to you Jake!


SoundPEATS TrueFree Wireless Headphones Review


When SoundPEATS sent my mum some TrueFree wireless headphones I was keen to try them out. Finally, no more untangling the wires and no more worn cables. I can listen to all my favourite Christmas tunes without hassle but just how good are these headphones? I've never had a set of wireless headphones before and I had many questions about battery life, pricing, quality and potentially losing them. So, in this review, I’ll be going over how the TrueFree Wireless Headphones addresses every worry I once had. Size




It may no longer have an awkward cable holding it together, but that once made it easier to find my old headphones if I ever lost them. Has SoundPEATS found a way to fix this issue? Thankfully yes! This pair of wireless headphones comes with it own portable, bitesize charging station that has a bit of weight to it, can easily fit into your pocket and is fitted with tiny magnets that keep your headphones securely in place when you’re not using them. Otherwise, they’ll fit snugly into your ears thanks to its in-ear design and form. Quality



Speaking of which, I’ve had a poor history with in-ear headphones in the past, either never fitting properly or always sounding ‘tinny’. This is now the exception to that rule. It may take some time to get it in the right position (that was largely due to me misreading the instructions) and it comes bundled with 8 different sized ear tips if you’re struggling. Once you get a good seal, however, you’re treated to a great balance of clarity and bass. You can lose yourself in your favourite jingles while it blocks out any noises from your kids.
Battery Life




I always find charging batteries to be such a hassle, especially for devices that previously didn’t need any thanks to a trusty cable… that would get tangled up in a mess. The thing is, in all my time using these TrueFree Headphones I never once recalled a time where it was low on battery, or even just partially emptied. That’s because according to their website, SoundPEATS have managed to squeeze in 15 hours into its total battery life, including the battery in the charging station. That’s a seriously impressive feat.

Price

But what about the price? I’ve seen many wireless headphones selling for over £100 and I wouldn’t
 be able to afford this at any time of the year let alone Christmas, right? Well jingle my bells, I’ve been proven wrong. £29.99. That’s all you’ll be spending. And that includes all the features you’d find with the rest on the market such as Bluetooth connectivity, a microphone for voice calls and buttons to pause and play your music. That seals the deal for me, SoundPEATS’ TrueFree Wireless Headphones offer such incredible value for money that it’s hard not to recommend these to everyone!

Thanks Jake!

If you like the sound of these headphones, on my blog today you can win some of these SoundPEATS TrueFree Wireless headphones retailing at £29.99. So if you want to try some wireless headphones for the first time or want to win some for a friend or family member, go on and enter as someone has to win. 


If you don't win enter code TWSMELL2399 at checkout and get the headphones at a discounted price of £23.99.

Good luck!

Win SoundPEATS Headphones
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Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Ways To Prevent Divorce In A Relationship

Marriage isn't easy, and most marriages have their ups and down. If your marriage is going through a bad patch,  there are some things you can do to improve it. This is especially true if you are thinking of getting a divorce. Here are some things to consider if you want to prevent divorce. 

Communication




Communicate and really listen to your partner. Spend time every day where you talk to each other. If this is a problem, perhaps work patterns make this difficult, make an effort on your days off to really spend time together and talk, and not just talk, really listen too. 

Forgive the past

It can be very hard to forgive what's happened in the past but to move on and make a relationship work then you need to work through this. Of course forgiving doesn't mean you forget but holding resentment is not the way to move on. If you are finding it hard to forgive, you could consider couples therapy.

Apologise if you need to

Sometimes a mistake is made and you may not want to admit it. But admitting it is not a failure. We are all human after all. An apology can go a long way to making the other person respect you for your mistake and can clear the air. so don't be afraid to apologise if you need to.

Don't let resentment build up

From little things like never helping around the house to major things like not accepting a step-child, there could be times when resentment can build up.  Don't let this happen as it can be corrosive to a relationship. No one wants to be taken for granted or want their child not to be accepted by a partner. Talk, try and fix the issue and allow yourself to move on.

Take care of yourself

Take care of yourself both emotionally and physically. Do everything you can to improve your appearance, and this will boost your self-esteem. Perhaps buy yourself some new clothes or start taking regular exercise, and this, in turn, will have a knock-on effect in your confidence   Confidence is attractive and your partner will notice that you have taken care of yourself and that you have a glint in your eye again. 

Don't take each other for granted




As mentioned before don't take each other for granted. Share responsibility for chores, the kids, for certain bills - perhaps for various reasons it can't be equal responsibility but help out if you can.  Treat your partner now and again to a small gift, leave a romantic note in their lunchbox, surprise them with a night away in a hotel, comment on how great they look, and most importantly be kind. A bit of give and take is needed in a relationship now and again. 

Arrange date nights

Regular date nights can really help a relationship and doesn't have to be expensive. Making an effort to dress up, and go for a meal out, or going bowling and for drinks, or making an effort to stay in without any distractions, but doing something special like watching a film together with a takeaway can all help. It's the time you spend together that is the key. 

Have your own interests 

Don't lose your sense of identity. Although you may be in love with the other person and do almost everything together and of course shared interests are important but it's also important to have your own interests too. Exploring interests gives you a sense of achievement and makes you whole as a person.

Be intimate

Being intimate with your partner is important in a relationship. Although sex is important, and this doesn't have to mean full intercourse, emotional intimacy can be even more important. Being connected to each other, laughing about something silly, holding hands, kissing each other before work every day, can all add to the level of intimacy in a relationship and make you feel close to the other person. 

*collaborative post 

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Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Skin Care And You. The Top 5 tips That Will Help Your Complexion

We’ve already welcomed 2019 in with lots of fireworks, celebrations, good food and good company. But for most of us, a whole month of indulgence, foods high in sugar and fats and plenty of alcohol, late nights and heavily applied makeup has taken its toll on our skin.

Winter is already a testing time for our complexions, with harsh winds and freezing temperatures, and while we have our makeup routines on point and the very best cosmetics in our beauty arsenal – click the link for the best foundations – it might be time to go a little deeper and start at the beginning. A good skin care routine is the perfect starting point for flawless makeup application and it makes us look good and feel younger. So, what do you need to know?

Read on for the top 5 skin tips that will boost your complexion.

Stay hydrated



There’s nothing more important to your skin routine and your beauty regime then staying hydrated. Drinking enough water hydrates your skin and flushes away all those nasty toxins that give us bad complexions and makes us feel unhappy. It's not always easy to drink the recommended amount so try taking a reusable water bottle with you and keep topping it up. Or set yourself a goal so you can see how much you’ve drunk at various points during the day.

Beware the shower




Its freezing cold outside and we need a little help waking up in the morning, so a hot shower seems logical. But be warned, hot, steamy showers dry out skin very quickly. So, you should try to shower using lukewarm water and avoid showering for more than 5 minutes. Use a moisturising body wash too so you can help add an extra layer of moisture to your skin.

Cleansing

It’s late, it’s been a long day and you just want to go to bed. But if you want beautiful skin then you need to remove all your makeup and cleanse your skin before your head hits the pillow. You should also cleanse your skin in the morning too as part of your morning routine. Cleansing allows your skin to breathe and complete its skin cell renewal process. So don’t skip this step.

Exfoliate

If you have dry skin, then exfoliating once a week should be sufficient. If your skin is oily then you’ll be the best judge of how often you should do it. Try exfoliating on an evening, that way when your skin starts to renew overnight, you’ve helped it along a little bit by removing all those dead skin cells!

Moisturise

We all know how important a good moisturiser is. But many of us aren’t applying it when we should be. For happy, healthy and hydrated looking skin, you need to be applying your moisturiser when your skin is still damp. So make sure you’ve got it handy when you’re finished in the shower and don’t forget your legs too!

Do you have any skincare tips? 

*Collaborative post 
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