Carrie Elspeth Jewellery - A Perfect Gift For Christmas

Those of you who follow the blog will know how much I love jewellery. I guess the clue is in the title of the blog! In fact, years ago I used to own a jewellery shop myself. As you can guess, my jewellery box is full of pretty jewellery of all types for all occasions and I particularly love earrings and have a wide selection. In fact, my obsession with earrings has led me to become a fan of Carrie Elspeth Jewellery. I stumbled upon this brand when I was shopping in Porthcawl South Wales. The jewellery and in particular the earrings are super affordable and are in a range of colourful pretty designs. In fact, I have become a huge fan of the brand. So when I was contacted by Carrie Elspeth Jewellery to work on a collaboration, I was delighted to be involved.

Who are Carrie Elspeth Jewellery?

Carrie Elspeth

Jasper Pillows Necklace £40

Carrie Elspeth Jewellery is a small independent jewellery design company based just outside Cowbridge in South Wales. Established in 1999 the company is now a supplier to independent jewellery and gift stores across the UK. The jewellery brand is sourced and handmade in South Wales and has received many awards for its delicate intricate jewellery including Gift Of the Year 2021, and the Best Creative Business Award at the prestigious Vale Of Glamorgan Business Awards in 2023. 

What I particularly appreciate is the well thought out and affordable price point for such beautifully designed jewellery. Affordable jewellery made in Wales, with this level of craftsmanship, is very hard to find! So let's look at my favourite items from the Carrie Elspeth Autumn/Winter collection. 

Boudica Collection

Boudica Necklace £14.99

The Boudica collection is my first choice. The beautiful collection reminds me of ancient Egyptian jewellery. You can just imagine Cleopatra wearing something so glamorous.

Boudica Bracelet £17.50

The range is in beautiful autumn bronze and gold colours. Made of hematite square beads this metallic necklace adds that final touch to a special occasion outfit. The collection is named after Boudicca or Boadicea as she was known to the Romans.

Boudica Earrings £12.50

I actually have these earrings myself. They catch the light beautifully and are perfect for going out. The Boudica jewellery is very affordable too, with the earrings starting at £12.50. A perfect stocking filler or Secret Santa gift for a jewellery lover, don't you think? 

Autumn Agate Collection

Autumn Agate Necklace £49.99

My next choice is the Autumn Agate collection.  I love the rich autumnal colours which are perfect to wear with this season's clothes. In tones of red, brown and amber this exceptional pretty cube necklace certainly makes a statement.
Autumn Agate Bracelet £29.99

The bracet to match is exceptionally stunning too and is lovely and chunky on the wrist

Autumn Agate Earrings £17.50

The earrings that go with the Autumn Agate set are gorgeous as well. The hooks are sterling silver too for those who find that they are allergic to base metals. Again this set is well-priced, especially for statement jewellery of this quality. These would make a great gift for your mum or sister for Christmas. 

Seren Collection

Seren Necklace £17.50

My last choice is the delicate Seren Collection.  Seren is the Welsh word for star and can have huge meanings to those of us who have lost someone. This metallic-finished hematite design is exceptionally pretty and is also available in a spaced star necklace.

Seren Bracelet £17.50

The bracelet is equally as pretty with the multi-tone star beads all around. This is a bracelet perfect to wear on a night out, with the glimmering beads catching the light.

Seren Earrings £14.99

The delicate earrings are great worn on their own or as part of a matching set. Again they have sterling silver posts and are available in four different designs. Another great idea for the earring lover at Christmas too.

So as you can see Carrie Elspeth Jewellery have some fabulous designs for the Autumn and Winter season.  The jewellery comes in a branded organza bag or a branded box for larger pieces and makes lovely gifts. As I said all the items are handmade in Wales too so you are supporting a great local business. I definitely want the Seren collection for Winter so I may leave the computer open on this page for Mr W! Postage is free over £40 and is reasonably priced under that. 

Let me know, what do you think of the designs I have chosen? Would you order from Carrie Elspeth Jewellery?

*Collaborative post

Exploring Guilin, China: A Journey Through Natural Beauty and Cultural Wonders

Guilin, a picturesque city in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region of southern China, is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes and rich cultural heritage. From the iconic karst mountains to the tranquil Li River, Guilin offers an enchanting blend of breathtaking scenery and a deep-rooted history. This article will take you on a virtual journey through Guilin, offering insights into the city's top attractions, local cuisine, and practical information for your visit, including the Chinese visa application process.

Natural Wonders


Karst Mountains

Guilin is synonymous with its otherworldly karst landscapes. These limestone formations rise dramatically from the earth, creating a surreal and captivating vista. Visitors can explore these formations in places like Yangshuo and Reed Flute Cave.

Li River

The Li River, often featured in classical Chinese paintings, is a scenic paradise. A Li River cruise is the best way to soak in the views of karst peaks, lush forests, and small fishing villages. Yangshuo and Xingping are two of the most popular starting points for these river journeys.

Elephant Trunk Hill

This iconic Guilin landmark resembles an elephant drinking from the river. Visitors can explore the hill, enjoy the panoramic views, and discover the Water Moon Cave, a semicircular grotto that looks like a full moon.

Reed Flute Cave

Known as the "Palace of Natural Arts," the Reed Flute Cave boasts a dazzling display of stalactites, stalagmites, and underground waterways. The cave is beautifully illuminated, creating a surreal atmosphere.

Cultural Delights


Ancient Villages

Guilin is home to several ancient villages, including Daxu Ancient Town and Fuli Old Town. Stroll through cobblestone streets, admire well-preserved architecture, and experience traditional Chinese village life.

Cultural Performances

Attend the Lijiang Folk Customs Garden for cultural performances showcasing the customs and traditions of the Zhuang and Yao ethnic minorities. You can witness dance, music, and traditional clothing.

Buddhist Temples

Guilin is dotted with ancient Buddhist temples, such as the Seven Star Park, where visitors can explore intricate architecture and meditate in serene surroundings.

Guilin Art Gallery

For art enthusiasts, the Guilin Art Gallery exhibits works from local artists. This is an opportunity to appreciate traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy.

Local Cuisine

Guilin Rice Noodles

Guilin's signature dish, rice noodles, is a must-try. The broth is a flavorful concoction of herbs, spices, and pork bones, served with tender rice noodles and various toppings like minced pork, peanuts, and pickled vegetables.

Beer Fish

A popular local speciality, beer fish features tender fish cooked in a savoury beer-based sauce. It's a delightful and unique culinary experience.

Stuffed Li River Snails

Li River snails are a delicacy in Guilin. They are stuffed with a mixture of minced meat, spices, and herbs, and then steamed to perfection.

Oil Tea

Oil tea is a traditional beverage made from tea leaves, roasted rice, peanuts, and various spices. It's a comforting and aromatic drink enjoyed by locals.

Practical Information


Now, let's explore the process of obtaining a Chinese visa to visit Guilin:
Chinese Visa Application

Types of Visas

Tourists visiting Guilin typically require an L visa, which is for short-term travel. You can apply for a single-entry or multiple-entry tourist visa, depending on your travel plans.

Required Documents

Passport: Ensure your passport is valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure date.

Chinese Visa Application Form

Complete and sign the visa application form, available on the website of the Chinese embassy or consulate in your country.

Passport Photo

Attach a recent passport-sized photo to the application.

Proof of Accommodation

Provide hotel reservations or an invitation letter from a host in Guilin.

Travel Itinerary

Present a detailed travel itinerary, including flight and accommodation information.

Bank Statements

Submit recent bank statements to demonstrate your financial ability to cover your expenses during the trip.

Visa Fee

Pay the required visa application fee.

Application Process


Submit your visa application and required documents to the nearest Chinese embassy or consulate. Check their website for specific guidelines and processing times.

Attend an interview, if necessary, and provide any additional information requested by the consulate.

Pay the visa fee, which may vary depending on your nationality and the type of visa you're applying for.

Wait for the processing of your visa application. This may take several business days, so plan accordingly.

Once your visa is approved, you can collect it in person at the Chinese embassy or consulate or choose to have it mailed to you, depending on their policies.


Guilin, China, is a captivating destination that seamlessly combines natural beauty with rich culture. From the mesmerizing karst mountains to the tranquil Li River and the flavours of local cuisine, Guilin offers a truly unforgettable experience. By following the Chinese visa application process, you can ensure a smooth and hassle-free journey to this enchanting city. So, pack your bags, prepare your visa documents, and get ready to explore the wonders of Guilin, a place where nature and tradition come together in perfect harmony.

Exploring Japan - 10 Essential Tips for Travellers

Japan, a country known for its rich culture, beautiful landscapes, and technological wonders, offers travellers a unique and captivating experience. From the serene temples of Kyoto to the bustling streets of Tokyo, there's no shortage of wonders to discover. To make the most of your journey through the Land of the Rising Sun, here are some indispensable tips for travellers.

1. Learn Basic Japanese Phrases

Japanese women in traditional costume

While English is widely spoken in urban areas, knowing a few basic Japanese phrases can enhance your experience and foster more meaningful interactions with locals. Simple greetings and expressions of gratitude go a long way in showing respect for the local culture. Especially useful are phrases related to food and travel. Also if you have access to mobile data you can always use translation apps if you are stuck. Japan eSIMS and SIM cards are cost-effective and a great way to have data on the go, but more of that later.

2. Embrace Japanese Etiquette

Politeness and respect are deeply ingrained in Japanese society. Be mindful of customs like bowing and removing your shoes before entering someone's home or certain traditional accommodations. Adhering to these practices demonstrates your appreciation for their way of life. For example, tipping in Japanese restaurants is not expected and attempting to tip can often offend. Check out videos on YouTube for some more advice on Japanese etiquette.

3. Try Japan's Excellent Public Transport

Bullet train Japan

Japan's public transportation system is renowned for its efficiency and punctuality. Consider purchasing a Japan Rail Pass for seamless travel across the country. It not only offers cost savings but also allows for convenient exploration of Japan's diverse regions. Japan's bullet trains are an iconic way to travel too, so consider using them if you have long distances to travel.

4. Carry Cash Outside Cities

Credit cards and prepaid Mastercards are widely accepted in Japan but in smaller towns and rural areas, it is always worth it to carry cash. It's probably best to buy your YEN in the UK or in your country for a better exchange rate and lower fees. If you need to use an ATM you can find them in cities at the Posr Office and 7-Eleven stores.

5. Get Yourself A SIM Or eSIM

A local SIM card or eSIM ensures uninterrupted access to crucial services such as maps, translation apps, and communication platforms. Navigating the bustling streets of Tokyo or finding hidden gems in Kyoto becomes a breeze. Japan SIM cards are very cost-effective compared to using international roaming services provided by your home carrier. Mobal is one such company that has English-language customer support, no contract and the profits go to charity. too. SIMS and eSIMS can be ordered online and shipped to your address or ordered online and picked up in Japan at various locations including airports.

6. Indulge In The Onsen Culture

Visiting an onsen, a traditional Japanese hot spring bath is a quintessential experience. Familiarise yourself with the etiquette beforehand to ensure you're following the proper procedures. Relaxing in an onsen is not only a relaxing treat but also a cultural one. So don't miss out on this uniquely Japanese experience.

7. Explore Local Cuisine Beyond Sushi And Ramen

While sushi and ramen are iconic dishes, Japan's culinary offerings are incredibly diverse. Don't limit yourself so why not try local specialities like tempura, okonomiyaki, and yakitori? Venture into izakayas to savour an array of authentic Japanese dishes in a cosy, pub-like atmosphere. Check out Time Out Japan for ideas of where to eat in the major tourist destinations. 

8. Plan For Peak Seasons


Cherry blossom season (sakura) and autumn foliage (koyo) are magical times to visit Japan, but they also draw large crowds. If you plan to travel during these peak seasons, make accommodation and transportation reservations well in advance to secure accommodation and get the best prices.

9. Immerse Yourself In Local Festivals and Events

Japan boasts a rich calendar of festivals, each offering a unique cultural experience. Research and coincide your visit with one of these events to gain deeper insights into Japan's traditions and festivities. Check out this list of some of the most popular Japanese festivals to plan your vacation around. 

10. Breathe And Take It All In

Japan is a country with a culture very different to ours in the Western World. Explore, see the sights, stop and breathe and take it all in. It's a bucket list county for many so think about how lucky you are to experience Japan in all its wonder.

In conclusion, Japan is a country that seamlessly blends tradition and innovation, offering travellers an experience that's simultaneously modern and deeply rooted in history. By following these tips, you'll be better equipped to navigate this fascinating land and make the most of your journey through the Land of the Rising Sun. Embrace the culture, relish the cuisine, and let the wonders of Japan leave an indelible mark on your travel memories. Safe travels!

*Collaborative post

Affordable Escapes In Beautiful Cornwall

Cornwall, with its rugged coastline, ancient castles, and charming villages, beckons travellers from around the world. The allure of this southwestern corner of England is undeniable, but it doesn't have to come at a premium. There are plenty of budget-friendly accommodation options that promise not only affordability but also comfort and memorable experiences. From caravan parks in Cornwall to hostels and bed and breakfasts there are some great affordable places to stay in this region of the UK  

Hostels - Affordable Comfort for the Traveller on a Budget

St Ives
St Ives

When it comes to budget-friendly stays, hostels are the unsung heroes of travel accommodation. Cornwall offers an array of hostels that cater to the budget-conscious traveller. Whether you're drawn to the artistic ambience of St. Ives, one of our personal favourite villages,  the surf vibes of Newquay, or the maritime charm of Falmouth, you'll find a hostel that fits the bill. Dormitory-style rooms provide not only a comfortable resting place but also a communal atmosphere where you can swap stories and glean insider tips about the region. Many hostels also feature communal kitchens and lounges, fostering a sense of camaraderie among guests.

Charming Bed and Breakfasts - Warm Hospitality without Breaking the Bank

Cornwall is renowned for its warm hospitality, and this sentiment is beautifully reflected in its bed and breakfasts. These charming accommodations offer more than just a place to rest your head—they provide an experience. From the historic streets of Padstow to the windswept cliffs of Penzance and the quaint alleys of Looe, you'll find a bed and breakfast that feels like a home away from home. Comfortable rooms, delicious breakfast spreads, and personal touches create an atmosphere of genuine hospitality.

Caravan Parks and Campgrounds - Embracing the Great Outdoors


For those who relish being close to nature, Cornwall's caravan parks and campgrounds offer a budget-friendly option that doesn't skimp on comfort. Whether you prefer the convenience of a static caravan, rocking up in a touring van or the simplicity of a tent pitch, you'll find a range of options to suit your preferences. The spaciousness of caravan parks and the rustic charm of campgrounds offer a delightful contrast to traditional accommodations. Spend your evenings by the campfire, explore scenic trails, and make memories that will last a lifetime. One of our favourite places in Cornwall is Looe and Tencreek Holiday Park is a great place to stay in that area.

Self-Catering Accommodation - The Freedom to Explore on Your Own Terms

For families, groups, or those seeking a more independent experience, self-catering accommodations are a fantastic option. Cottages, apartments, and holiday homes provide the space and amenities needed for a comfortable stay. Well-equipped kitchens offer the freedom to prepare your own meals, saving you from the expense of dining out. Choose a location in close proximity to Cornwall's attractions for added convenience, ensuring you can make the most of your time exploring this captivating region.

Off-Peak Seasons - Unlocking Great Deals


Timing can be the key to unlocking the full potential of budget-friendly stays in Cornwall. Visiting during the off-peak seasons which is outside of school holidays offers a double benefit. Not only will you be greeted with quieter surroundings, but you'll also enjoy lower accommodation rates. It's an opportunity to experience a more intimate side of Cornwall, where attractions and eateries often extend special discounts, inviting you to savour the essence of the region without the usual price tag.


Cornwall's beauty and charm are not reserved for the privileged few. With a wealth of budget-friendly accommodation options, your journey through this captivating region can be as affordable as it is unforgettable. From the communal spirit of hostels to the warmth of bed and breakfasts, the embrace of nature in holiday parks, and the independence of self-catering accommodations, there's a haven to suit every traveller's inclination. So, pack your bags, set your budget, and embark on an unforgettable adventure through Cornwall's enchanting landscapes. The magic awaits, and it's more accessible than you ever imagined. Happy travels!

*Collaborative post

Why Built-In Bathtubs Are Making A Splash

As we hurtle towards the end of 2023, it's clear that built-in bathtubs are having a moment. With their sleek, minimalist designs and customisable features, built-in tubs are becoming the bathrooms of choice for style-conscious Brits across the country. But why has this particular type of tub become so popular? What's so great about having a bathtub built-in? Let's take a soak and find out...

Built-In Basics

Built in bathtub

For the uninitiated, a built-in tub is one that is recessed into an alcove or platform in your bathroom. Unlike regular, freestanding tubs, built-ins don't take up floor space as they are nestled into the wall or floor. This gives your bathroom a cleaner, more streamlined look and feels more spacious. If you're working with a compact bathroom, a built-in tub can be a godsend.

Customised Comfort

Built-ins also allow you to customise your tub to fit your space perfectly. The tub can be tailored to any length or shape needed, rather than having to squeeze an off-the-shelf tub into an ill-fitting spot. This bespoke approach means your dream tub can become a reality. Fancy an oval two-person tub with a sloped back to lean against? No problem. How about a corner tub with a textured interior? Built-ins make it happen.

Luxury Features

And it's not just about looks. Built-in tubs provide practical perks too. The surrounding platform often creates useful storage space for bath accessories. Some built-ins even allow you to install hydrotherapy massage jets for the ultimate spa experience. You can also add handy little luxuries like heated tub walls and integrated lighting. Bliss.

Zen Simplicity

Of course, a key part of the built-in tub's appeal lies in its minimal, fuss-free aesthetic. The pared back style provides a relaxing, zen-like bathroom environment that so many of us crave these days. Just imagine sinking into a smooth, stone resin tub with nothing but serene tiles around you. Ahh. No clutter, no fussy details, just clean lines and a place to escape the stresses of modern life. Perfection.

Contemporary Chic


But if the zen vibe isn't your bag, built-ins can also look super glam. Many companies offer built-in tubs in striking colours and materials like glossy acrylic, sparkling quartz composite, and even copper. Paired with bold tiles, brass fittings, and funky lights, your built-in bath can become the swanky centrepiece of an urban chic bathroom.

Wellness Revival

With wellness being so in vogue, the built-in tub also enables the ultimate home spa experience. Just imagine stepping into your sleek, relaxing bath sanctuary after a long stressful day. Let the warmth relax your muscles as soothing music plays. Add a bath pillow, scented candles, and a glass of wine for the ultimate unwinding ritual. A built-in tub makes it easy to create a little corner of wellness heaven right at home.

Green Credentials

And let's not forget the eco-friendly advantages of built-in tubs. Their sleek, minimalist designs use less material than bulky freestanding tubs. Many are also made from recycled and natural materials with low VOCs. Paired with water-saving taps and an eco-cleaning routine, your built-in bath can help reduce your environmental impact. A win for your wallet and the planet!

Hopefully, it's clear why a stylish built in bathtub like these from draw a bath, have taken the UK by storm. With their versatility, customisation options, and sleek contemporary styling, built-in tubs let you create your dream bathroom. They optimise space, provide added luxury, and just look so darn good.

So if you're renovating or want to add some wow factor to your home, be sure to consider a built-in bathtub. Your bathroom will become a sanctuary you never want to leave. Just be warned - once you have a built-in soak, you may never want to get out of the tub again!

*Collaborative post

5 Tips for Travelling When Pregnant

Travelling during pregnancy can be an exciting and sometimes necessary part of your journey to motherhood. Whether it's a family vacation, a work trip, or just a weekend getaway, there are several considerations to keep in mind to ensure a safe and comfortable experience. 


In this collaborative blog post with The Parents Class, I'll explore five essential tips for travelling when pregnant.

1. Consult Your Healthcare Provider

Before embarking on any journey during pregnancy, it's crucial to consult your healthcare provider. Your doctor can assess your specific needs and offer advice based on your individual circumstances. They may advise you on the best time to travel, potential health risks, and any necessary precautions. In some cases, travel may be discouraged, especially during the later stages of pregnancy, so be sure to follow your healthcare provider's recommendations.

2. Choose Your Destination Wisely

When pregnant, it's a good idea to be selective about your travel destination. Opt for places that are not too remote or lacking in medical facilities. You'll want to be close to healthcare services in case of any unexpected complications. Additionally, consider destinations with a mild climate and be mindful of activities and attractions that are pregnancy-friendly. Strenuous hiking or adventurous sports may not be the best choices at this time.

3. Plan Your Trip Well in Advance

Proper planning is key to a successful and stress-free trip during pregnancy. Make your travel arrangements well in advance, including booking accommodation and transportation. This way, you can choose comfortable seating options and make any necessary arrangements for extra legroom. Also, consider travel insurance, as unforeseen circumstances can disrupt your plans, and it's better to be prepared.

4. Pack Thoughtfully

Packing efficiently is essential, especially during pregnancy when you have specific needs. Here's a checklist of items to consider:

  • Comfortable clothing and shoes that accommodate any swelling or changes in body size.
  • A copy of your medical records and prenatal care information.
  • Any necessary medications and prenatal vitamins.
  • Healthy snacks and water to stay well-nourished and hydrated.
  • A support pillow to help you get comfortable during the journey.

5. Prioritise Rest and Hydration

Travelling when pregnant can be physically demanding, so it's vital to prioritise rest and hydration throughout your journey. Take regular breaks during long journeys to stretch your legs and walk around. Avoid overly strenuous activities, and make sure to stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. Remember to listen to your body and rest when needed, even if it means adjusting your travel itinerary.

Travelling while pregnant can be an enjoyable and memorable experience with the right preparation. By consulting your healthcare provider, choosing your destination wisely, planning ahead, packing thoughtfully, and prioritising rest and hydration, you can make your journey safe and comfortable. Remember that every pregnancy is unique, so tailor your travel plans to your specific needs, and above all, enjoy the adventure of this special time in your life. Safe travels!

*Collaborative post

The Ultimate Guide To Dental Tourism In Turkey

In recent times, the concept of dental tourism has been on the rise, with Turkey shining as a prominent choice for those seeking top-tier yet budget-friendly dental care. Situated at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Turkey's allure extends beyond its rich history and stunning landscapes to encompass modern dental facilities and highly skilled dental experts.

For UK residents, who might grapple with limited access to NHS dental care or affordable private treatments, Turkey emerges as a compelling option to consider.

Top-Notch Facilities And Accredited Dental Professionals


Ensuring top-notch quality and safety in dental care is a priority. Turkey is known for its strict regulations and accreditation processes, boasting a variety of internationally recognised dental clinics and practitioners.

Dentists in Turkey often receive their education and training from reputable institutions worldwide, guaranteeing patients receive excellent care that meets global standards.

Additionally, the dental facilities in Turkey are equipped with cutting-edge technology and adhere to stringent hygiene protocols, creating a secure and welcoming environment for patients during their dental procedures.

High-Quality Dental Services At Affordable Prices

One of the primary reasons for the burgeoning popularity of dental tourism in Turkey is the significant cost savings it offers in comparison to the UK.

The country boasts a wide array of modern dental clinics equipped with cutting-edge technology and staffed by experienced dentists known for their expertise in various dental procedures, ranging from routine check-ups to complex treatments like dental implants and veneers.

What's more, these services often come at a fraction of the cost one might expect to pay in the UK, making finding a dentist in Turkey – such as Antlara Dental - a highly appealing prospect for those looking to save on their dental expenses without compromising on quality.

Seamless Experience And Personalised Care


Beyond the cost savings and quality assurance, dental tourists in Turkey often speak highly of the warm hospitality and personalised care they receive throughout their treatment journey.

Many dental clinics in Turkey prioritise patient satisfaction and comfort, offering comprehensive support and guidance to international patients, including assistance with travel arrangements, accommodation, and local transportation.

This personalised approach, coupled with the expertise of dental professionals, helps alleviate the anxieties often associated with dental procedures, ensuring a seamless and stress-free experience for patients travelling from the UK to Turkey for their dental treatments.

Exploring Turkey: A Fusion Of Dental Care And Cultural Delights

Choosing Turkey for dental treatment not only presents an opportunity for affordable and high-quality healthcare but also allows patients to immerse themselves in the rich cultural tapestry and scenic beauty that the country has to offer

From the vibrant markets of Istanbul to the stunning coastal towns along the Mediterranean, dental tourists can blend their treatment experience with a memorable vacation, creating a unique and enriching journey that combines wellness with exploration.

To Conclude

As you can see, dental tourism in Turkey presents a compelling proposition for UK residents seeking accessible and superior dental care.

With its cost-effective services, accredited facilities, personalised care, and the added allure of an enriching cultural experience, Turkey has solidified its position as a leading global destination for dental tourism, offering a winning combination of quality healthcare and unforgettable travel experiences.

Travelling Through the Casino Capitals of The World

A journey across the globe unveils a riveting tapestry of cultures, traditions, and lifestyles. Among these, the allure of casino capitals stands distinct. Each with its own flavour of elegance, they beckon the lovers of leisure and the tacticians of the table alike. Let’s embark on an expedition through some of these casino heavens, exploring the fabric that weaves them into the preferred haunts of the discerning traveller.

Monaco: A Slice of Riviera Sophistication


Monaco, the tiny principality on the French Riviera holds its head high among the casino capitals. The Monte Carlo Casino, an epitome of extravagance, mirrors the region's luxurious ethos. The aristocracy's abode boasts a rich history intertwined with the European elite. While roulette wheels spin, the ambience resonates with an age-old charm that transports you back to a glorious era.

The sculpted grace of the casino's architecture and its meticulously curated interiors echo the illustrious lineage of European nobility. As you stroll through its opulent halls, each chandelier and fresco tells tales of a bygone era, reviving the sumptuous aura of the Riviera's golden days.

Macau: The Oriental Oasis


Crossing continents, the effervescent city of Macau awaits. Often dubbed the "betting capital of Asia," it houses a blend of Portuguese heritage and modern gaming halls. The Venetian Macao, an emblem of opulent betting culture, enthralls with its mesmerising gondola rides alongside a vast array of gaming tables. Amidst the myriad games, blackjack is notable, drawing fans with its blend of skill and judgment.

With a heritage deeply rooted in the sophistication of table games, Macau's transition into the digital era has been seamless and significant. This evolution reflects a broader global trend, where the age-old charm of casino games finds a new expression online.

The transition from traditional halls to online platforms has broadened blackjack enthusiasts' horizons. The online realm hosts a variety of renditions, such as the intriguing option of blackjack insurance, a feature that allows a player to hedge their bets against the likelihood of the dealer landing a blackjack. When faced with a dealer's ace, a player can opt for insurance, a side bet that pays off if the dealer’s concealed card holds a ten-value, securing a blackjack for the house. This strategic nuance adds a layer of consideration, melding the classical with the contemporary in the game’s enduring appeal.

This blend of tradition and modernity, much like the city of Macau itself, presents a fascinating narrative of how the world of gaming continues to evolve while still honouring its rich history.

Las Vegas: The Desert Jewel

Las Vegas

Venturing to the west, Las Vegas unfolds as a landscape of neon lights and limitless aspiration. The Bellagio, with its iconic fountains, epitomises the city’s glitz. Amidst a kaleidoscope of slots and tables, the convivial crowd finds a haven of interaction and strategic challenge. The spirited aura of Las Vegas extends beyond the casino floors into the heart of the desert city, reflecting a culture of endless possibilities.

The rhythmic dance of the Bellagio fountains under the starlit sky, harmonised with the distant cheers from the gaming tables, encapsulates the enduring allure of Las Vegas. This oasis of leisure amid a barren desert is a testament to human ingenuity and the ceaseless pursuit of elegance amidst the wild.

Each destination encapsulates a unique essence of the global casino culture, presenting a realm where leisure meets lore and tradition tangos with modernity. Through the varied halls and bustling tables, travelers glimpse the distinct gaming cultures that have evolved over centuries. These capitals are not merely about the games; they are about the ambience, the camaraderie, and a shared appreciation for the finer aspects of a sophisticated lifestyle. They represent a confluence of past and present, traditional and modern, offering a rich tapestry of experiences for the discerning traveller.

From the aristocratic allure of Monaco to the vibrant fusion of cultures in Macau, and the symbolic extravagance of Las Vegas, each city contributes its unique chapter to the grand narrative of the casino world.

So, as we traverse through these casino capitals, we don't just bet on a game; we bet on an experience that transcends beyond the casino's walls and embeds itself into the cultural ethos of these iconic cities. Through each stop in this journey, the world of high stakes reveals itself to be a captivating blend of tradition, elegance, and a gentle nod to the modern era, enriching the tapestry of experiences awaiting the global traveller.

How to Choose the Perfect Wooden Cutting Board for Your Kitchen

Regarding the heart of your home—the kitchen—few tools are as essential and versatile as the wooden cutting board. It's the unsung hero of countless culinary adventures, a trusty companion in slicing, dicing, and chopping. Yet, selecting the perfect cutting board is no simple task. With an array of woods, sizes, and styles, it's easy to feel overwhelmed.

Fear not, for in this guide, I will unveil the secrets to choosing the ideal wooden cutting board for your kitchen. From the type of wood to size considerations, grain orientation, and maintenance tips, we'll help you make an informed decision that elevates your cooking experience and your kitchen's aesthetic.

Why Material Matters In Your Cutting Board

bread board

The material matters significantly when choosing the perfect wooden cutting board for your kitchen. The type of wood you select plays a crucial role in the board's performance, durability, and overall aesthetic appeal. Let's delve deeper into why material matters:


Different wood types have varying hardness levels and wear and tear resistance. Hardwoods like maple, cherry, and walnut are excellent choices because they can withstand the repeated cutting and chopping action of knives without developing deep grooves or scars. Bamboo, while not a hardwood, is also durable and eco-friendly.

Knife-Friendly Surface

The hardness of the wood affects how your knives interact with the cutting board. Softer woods may cause wear and tear on your knife blades, leading to more frequent sharpening. On the other hand, hardwood cutting boards are less likely to dull your knives.

Natural Antibacterial Properties

Some woods, like maple, have natural antibacterial properties. This means they inhibit the growth of bacteria on the board's surface, adding a layer of food safety to your kitchen.

Aesthetic Appeal

The appearance of your cutting board can enhance the overall look of your kitchen. Different woods offer distinct grain patterns and colours. Cherry wood, for instance, has a warm, reddish-brown hue, while walnut boasts a rich, dark colour. The aesthetic aspect can be critical if you use the cutting board as a serving platter.

Maintenance Requirements

The type of wood can also affect how you care for your cutting board. Some woods require frequent oiling or conditioning to maintain their appearance and prevent cracking. Understanding these maintenance needs is essential for the long-term health of your board.


If sustainability is a concern, consider bamboo cutting boards. Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable resource, making it an environmentally responsible option for individuals trying to reduce carbon emissions.

Size and Thickness

Consider the size and thickness of the cutting board you need. A larger board provides more cutting space, while a smaller one is easier to handle and store. The thickness of the board also matters. Thicker boards are more robust and less likely to distort. However, they can be heavier and more challenging to manoeuvre.

End Grain vs. Edge Grain

The grain orientation of a wooden cutting board affects its durability and appearance. There are two primary grain orientations to choose from:

End Grain

End grain boards are made by fusing the ends of wood pieces. This creates a checkerboard-like pattern and a surface that's gentle on knives. End grain boards are durable but often more expensive.

Edge Grain

The edge grain boards are made by glueing wood strips with the edge grain facing up. They are less forgiving on knife edges but are more affordable and durable.

Maintenance and Care

Good care and maintenance will extend the life of your wooden cutting board. Here are some tips:
  • Regularly clean your board with warm, soapy water and a scrub brush. Avoid submerging it in water or putting it in the dishwasher, as excessive moisture can cause warping and splitting.
  • To remove odours and stains, scrub your board with salt, lemon juice, or white vinegar.
  • Mineral oil or a food-safe wood conditioner should be regularly applied to your cutting board. This helps to keep the wood from drying out and breaking.
  • Store your cutting board in a dry, well-ventilated area to prevent mould and mildew growth.

How Can I Tell If A Wooden Cutting Board Is Of Good Quality?

Determining the quality of a wooden cutting board can be essential to ensure you get a durable and safe product for your kitchen. Here are some key factors to look for when assessing the quality of a wooden cutting board:

Wood Type

Start by considering the type of wood used for the cutting board. High-quality cutting boards are typically made from maple, cherry, walnut, or teak hardwood. These woods are known for their durability and resistance to moisture.

Grain Tightness

Examine the grain pattern of the wood. Tight, straight-grain designs are generally better because they make the board less prone to warping and cracking. Avoid cutting boards with irregular or loose grain patterns.


A good quality cutting board should have adequate thickness, typically around 1 to 1.5 inches. Thicker boards are more durable and less likely to warp over time.


Check how the cutting board is constructed. End-grain cutting boards are often considered the highest quality due to their durability and knife-friendly properties. Edge-grain boards are also acceptable but may be slightly less forgiving to knife edges.

Smooth Finish

The cutting board's surface should be smooth and free from rough spots, cracks, or splinters. Run your hand across the board to ensure there are no imperfections.

Edges and Corners

Well-made cutting boards should have smooth and rounded edges and corners. Sharp edges can be uncomfortable to handle and are more likely to chip.

Bottom Line

Selecting the perfect wooden cutting board for your kitchen is a decision that should balance aesthetics, functionality, and durability. By considering the type of wood, size, thickness, grain orientation, and maintenance requirements, you can find a cutting board that enhances your culinary experience and has become a cherished part of your kitchen for years. A well-chosen wooden cutting board will serve as a valuable tool and add a touch of natural beauty to your cooking space.

*Collaborative post

Planning A Budget-Friendly European Weekend Trip

Are you longing for a quick European getaway but worried about breaking the bank? Fret not! With some smart planning and a dash of creativity, you can embark on a budget-friendly European weekend escape that won't leave your wallet weeping. In this ultimate guide, we'll walk you through the steps to plan an affordable and memorable weekend adventure in Europe.

1. Destination Selection: The Budget Traveller's Dilemma


Choosing the right destination is crucial when you're on a budget. While famous cities like Paris and London are incredible, they can also be expensive. Consider exploring lesser-known gems like Riga, Tallinn, or Krakow, which offer rich history, stunning architecture, and vibrant culture at a fraction of the cost. We took a short break to Tallinn and it was beautiful and so cheap, so I would highly recommend going there. Another tip is to opt for cities within budget-friendly countries such as Portugal, Greece, or Poland. Your money can go a long way in these countries.

2. Off-Peak Travel

The timing of your trip can significantly impact your expenses. Avoid travelling during peak seasons when prices for accommodation and attractions skyrocket. Instead, opt for the shoulder season or even the off-peak months, which usually have milder weather, fewer crowds, and lower prices. Plus, you'll have a more authentic and peaceful experience.

3. Hunting For Transportation Deals

Getting to the destination is often one of the most significant expenses of any trips:

  • Use fare comparison websites to find the best flight deals such as Skyscanner or Kayak.
  • Be flexible with your travel dates.
  • Consider flying to nearby airports, which might offer cheaper options.
  • Sign up for fare alerts and newsletters from airlines and travel agencies to be the first to know about discounts.
  • Search for discount codes online for car hire and sign up to the company's emails for the best deals.
You could also consider one of the many short breaks abroad provided by coach companies like Shearings. A package deal offering coach transportation, hotel, meals and excursions can be surprisingly cost-effective. 

4. Budget Accommodation

When it comes to lodging, your choices can make or break your budget. Here's how to sleep smart:

  • Look beyond hotels: Consider hostels, guesthouses, caravans, lodges or even camping. 
  • Read reviews to ensure quality and safety. Tripadvisor is your friend here.
  • Opt for accommodation with a kitchen to prepare some of your meals.
  • Check for free breakfast options, as this can save you money and time. Who doesn't like a free breakfast?
5. Navigating the City


Once you've reached your destination, make sure to navigate the city without draining your funds. Walk as much as possible to explore the city, use public transportation when necessary, and consider purchasing city cards or passes that offer discounts on attractions and transportation. 

6. Saving Money On Food

Sampling local cuisine is one of the highlights of any trip, but dining out for every meal can add up quickly. Here's how to enjoy local food without emptying your wallet:

  • Eat where the locals eat: Street food stalls and small local restaurants often provide authentic, budget-friendly meals.
  • Share dishes: Splitting meals with your travel partner can save money and help you taste more local flavours.
  • Grocery shopping: Buy snacks and breakfast items from local grocery stores to save on dining expenses. In Iceland for example the Bonus supermarket chain was very well-priced compared to eating in cafes. 

7. Free And Low-Cost Attractions

Europe is brimming with free and affordable attractions. Don't miss out on:
  • Parks, gardens, and scenic viewpoints.
  • Museums with free or reduced admission days.
  • Historic sites and architecture that you can admire from the outside.

8. Plan And Prioritise Must-Sees

Create a flexible itinerary that prioritizes your must-see attractions. This way, you won't waste time and money on places that don't interest you much. A mix of paid and free activities will keep your budget in check while ensuring you have a fulfilling experience.

9. Currency Considerations

Understanding currency exchange rates and avoiding additional fees is vital. Use ATMs wisely to withdraw cash in local currency, and consider using no-foreign-transaction-fee credit cards like the Halifax Clarity credit card for purchases.  Notify your bank of your travel plans to prevent any issues with your cards.

10. Buy Thoughtful And Frugal Souvenirs


Instead of splurging on traditional tourist trinkets, consider purchasing unique, locally-made souvenirs or postcards that won't strain your budget. Or, better yet, capture memories with photos and journal entries.

11. Pack Light And Save On Baggage Fees

Travelling light can help you avoid checked baggage fees and make it easier to navigate public transportation. Pack versatile clothing and use packing cubes to maximize space in your carry-on bag.

12. Stay Connected With Data And Wi-Fi Tips

Don't overspend on data or international phone plans. Use free Wi-Fi in cafes, hotels, and public areas, and consider getting a local SIM card for affordable data and calling options.

13. Stay Safe On A Budget

Prioritise your safety without overspending. Keep your belongings secure, be aware of your surroundings, and have copies of important documents like your passport and travel insurance.

14. Plan for Next Time  And Start Saving

As your budget-friendly European weekend escape comes to an end, start planning for your next adventure. Set up a separate travel fund or use a budgeting app to save for future trips. Make use of sites such as Fantastic Voucher Codes or Quidco to save money on your normal purchases. Every little helps. 


A budget-friendly European weekend escape is not only possible but also incredibly rewarding. By choosing the right destination, timing, and accommodations, being savvy with your transportation and food choices, and enjoying free and low-cost attractions, you can make the most of your adventure without emptying your wallet. Remember, the best experiences often come from exploring like a local, so embrace the culture, savour the moments, and cherish the memories while staying within your budget.

Bon voyage, budget traveller! Europe awaits your affordable exploration.

*Collaborative post