Wednesday, 1 July 2015

My Travel Personality.

Now this is an interesting one, because I've only been travelling by myself for a few years, and before then I went almost everywhere with my parents and family. I'm a very different person when I travel with them, to when I travel alone or with friends. This month the travel linkup is all about travel personalities, and as co-host this month I'm very happy that this topic suits me so well!

Cottesloe Beach Western Australia

Travelling Alone

I first travelled alone when I was 18. My first lonely flight was from Australia to the UK as I was going home a coupla weeks later than my parents after visiting my then boyfriend, and you know what? I bloody loved it. I love taking the journey at my own pace, sitting on the plane in silence and catching up on sleep and movies without someone poking me and asking what I'm watching (no offence mum!). Since then I've flown by myself to and from Australia countless times, at first to see my boyfriend and friends, and then just my friends. When I fly alone I have my own little routine, I get to the airport nice and early, and just stroll through check-in, security, and then when I'm through security I go and get breakfast or dinner (I usually go for the red-eye flights or really early morning ones as I find they help with jetlag). 

When I get to the other end in Perth I split my time and stay with three of my closest friends and Aunty Wyn & Uncle Gray. I hire a car, and sometimes have days where I spend the day driving around by myself just enjoying it and soaking up the place, and other days where I'm on the go constantly seeing people and partying. My first day back is spent sorting my phone out and paying money into my Aussie bank account, then the rest are a blur of food, beach, party, food, beach, party, shopping, repeat.

Pullman Resort Bunker Bay Australia

When booking my flights back to Australia I usually book them about 3 months in advance, and I almost always fly with Emirates or Singapore Airlines. I've only flown with two other airlines to Perth; Cathay Pacific and Qatar. I loved Cathay (best food, best seats, and best entertainment system) but the flight time is insanely long as they go via Hong Kong (30+ hours!). Qatar was ok, but I found the very slim transfer times incredibly stressful. These days Emirates is my airline of choice due to the flight time and service, but I really do miss and love Singapore Airlines, they're just so expensive now and the flight time is longer.

View of the Opera House from the Shangri La SydneyAs well as travelling to and within Australia by myself, last year I went to my ancestral home of the Isles of Scilly alone. When I went to Sydney for just two days last year I hated being alone during that time, I'm such a sociable person and really don't like it when I'm not surrounded by people for more than a few hours. But the Isles of Scilly was so peaceful and relaxing, I'm so glad I went by myself now, and to be honest I think I was just feeling lonely in Sydney because of some stuff that was happening at the time.

Tresco Isles of Scilly

Travelling with Friends

Travelling with my friends I think is my favourite way to travel now. I'm a complete planner and love to plan things down to the last detail, which my friends love as they know exactly what we'll be doing and where we'll be eating, and all they have to do is transfer the money and show up at the airport!

When travelling with friends we sit down and list out everything we want to do, then I plan an itinerary around that, and then I put everything into a Powerpoint and send it to them with all the flights details, accommodation details, how much everything will cost, and photos. When they've given the seal of approval we book everything and ta-da, we're off! I planned and booked mine, Ciara, and Jasiminne's entire Cuba trip by myself, as well as trips to Budapest, Vienna, and Paris

Playa Paraiso Cayo Largo Del Sur Cuba

Whenever I want to go somewhere and ask friends to join me, the first thing they ask for now is 'The Powerpoint'. Don't get me wrong though, I'm not a total control freak - I do allow for some spontaneity, for example in Paris on the Sunday we had loads planned, but we were all quite tired so decided to ignore the Musee D'Orsay and just do Saint Chapelle and then go to the club and eat and drink all afternoon. It was pure bliss and exactly what we needed! 

Montemartre Paris

My ex boyfriend and I only travelled together twice - once to Paris, and once back to Australia together. I found a timehop a few weeks ago that said 'I hate travelling with Chris, he's so slow!'. I think that says it all, he was very very relaxed as a traveller (and person in general), and was quite happy to stroll through security and to the gate while I was running like a mad woman so we didn't miss our flight! At least we can look back and laugh at this now though. I think we had a nice balance in Paris though, it was far less stressful than that flight back to Australia, and we were at a far better place in our relationship then.

Travelling with Family

When I travel with family I leave it entirely up to my parents what we do - I then just tag along and pay for whatever I need to pay for (which to be honest isn't usually much, generally just my airfare these days). Sometimes it stresses me out because I don't get to do or see everything I want to, but most of the time it's nice to just really relax and be guided. 

Fiskardo in Kefalonia Greece

I think the most frustrating thing about travelling with my family is that they're not really fussed about food, so I'll have a list of restaurants I want to check out and they're just not interested. I'm such a planner, whereas they love spontaneity and just finding random things to do along the way, in regards to both food and activities. 

Sedona National Park

There are definitely positives and negatives to all types of travel, especially because my travel personality is so different depending on who I'm travelling with. I definitely like to be in control as much as possible though, but I really do appreciate and make the most of family holidays where I can just relax and let my parents organise it all...even if it does mean compromising sometimes on where I want to eat and what I want to see!

What's your travel personality?

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Sunday, 28 June 2015

A Downton Abbey Evening.

If you've read this blog for a while you'll probably know by now that the Savile is my favourite private members club in London. Only men are allowed to be members, but it's without a doubt the most fun club of all of the clubs, basically anything goes. Last week I went to the Savile for a black tie Downton Abbey dinner and talk, as they've filmed quite a few episodes inside the club.

The evening started with a talk from Gareth Neame, who's the Producer of Downton Abbey and a member of the Savile. I missed most of this as I was running late, but I caught the end where he told us how they transformed the ballroom into a Jazz club for the show. They then showed us a video of the scene, before we moved upstairs to the ballroom for dinner.

I couldn't decide which dress to wear for this event. I'm struggling quite a bit at the moment, as due to a change in pill my weight has rocketed. In just a coupla months I've gained about a stone, and no matter how much exercise I do, how much salad I eat, I just can't shift it. My arms, lower belly and thighs have ballooned, so I went for the dress that flatter my tummy and hips the most. Apparently it's completely normal with the pill that I was on due to water retention, so hopefully it should sort itself out within 6 months. I'm just super self-conscious at the moment, it's really knocked my confidence.

Anyway, so to start with we had terrine, which was delicious! 

For mains everyone else had Trout, I'm not great with really 'fishy' fish, so I had the veggie option which was Asparagus Risotto. This was tasty, but not the best Risotto I've ever had. It tasted a little undercooked and was a bit too hard and crunchy. This photo is really shitty FYI, because I started eating it and forgot to get a photo first. Bad blogger.

I was slightly disappointed with the risotto, as the food at the Savile is usually amazing due to their Michelin starred chef, however he definitely redeemed himself with the dessert! A beautiful and very moreish chocolate and blueberry meringue! 

We then had coffee and chocolates, before moving down to the bar for late night drinks, where we bumped into a load of friends who are members at the club. I didn't get any photos in the bar, so I'll leave you with a few more of the beautiful ballroom...

It was a really lovely evening, but it's a shame they didn't have some music during dinner or after dinner, especially considering the price of the tickets. 

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Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Updated Travel Plans 2015.

Back in the January travel linkup I posted all about my travel plans for the year and where I wanted to go! Some were dreams and some more doable. Well, the unexpected has happened, and rather than doing the doable ones, I'm actually doing the dream one...

I'm very lucky with my holiday days, despite working full time for a media agency in London, I get 35 holiday days a year including bank holidays which is a lot more than most people. This year however, I had a few extra as I rolled some over from last year. I started the year with a long weekend trip to the Slovakian High Tatry Mountains, where I went to the top of a mountain and learnt to ski for the very first time. 

Then just a week later I flew to Australia for 2.5 weeks for my annual visit to see my friends and stay with Aunty Wyn & Uncle Gray and my family.

Originally I was supposed to go to Russia for the May bank holiday, we had the hotels booked; Ritz-Carlton in Moscow and Four Seasons in St Petersburg, I was unbelievably excited, but then the rest of it fell through (it takes a while to get visas and I didn't have enough time to send my visa off as I was in Australia). So that got cancelled. One day I will get there! 

So I've had a couple of months with no travel, and I have serious wanderlust. I'm off to Paris with Air France in August, where I'll be staying at a sister hotel of Fraser Suites Perth, which I stayed at for my first night back in Aus, so I have high hopes as the Perth one was incredible! Then I might potentially have a much bigger trip with them in October if it all gets signed off (fingers crossed!). 

I'm then off to Cornwall with the family in September, and two weeks later is the big one...I'm flying to St Vincent and the Grenadines. Yes. The dream trip I told you all about in January is actually happening. This incredible opportunity is very kindly being given to me by the amazing team at the Palm Island Resort. I fly to Barbados from London with Virgin Holidays, where I'm meeting my best friend from Australia, and then we fly to Union Island, before getting a boat to the private island of Palm Island.

Our plan is to spend the week relaxing, reading books, drinking cocktails, and exploring the islands. There are some excursions we're planning on taking; one to swim with the sea turtles in the Tobago Cays, and another to the main island of St Vincent where Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed. It's been a dream of mine to swim with sea turtles since I was about 8 years old - my favourite dinner lady at school did it and told us all about it! I told Rach I might cry when we finally get to do it, so she assured me she'll be there to photograph me 'ugly crying', she's such a good friend.

Words can't even describe how excited or grateful I am; Rach and I only get to see each other once a year these days due to work (when I was at Uni I used to go back twice a year for 4-5 weeks at a time), so to see her twice this year is such a treat! She also loves the blog and basically being a general camera whore, so I'm super excited to be able to take thousands of photos and videos with her and not worry about her being camera shy! 

So, what about the other places I wanted to visit? 

Ukraine/Chernobyl won't be happening for obvious reasons (why can't everyone just get along and be nice to each other?), also, you'd expect it to be cheap given the current 'war' situation, but the hotels are really expensive! Estonia isn't happening because the flight times are super awkward and I'd have to spend an extra day there which I don't have the holiday time for. Russia, see above. New York I'm going to save for next year and incorporate it into a much bigger US roadtrip. Iceland I'm potentially doing early next year with my brother. Morocco I'm potentially doing this year for a weekend with the girls. Croatia/Montenegro/Bosnia - *sigh* who knows, I'm not sure I'll ever get there at this rate. There are just too many places to visit and not enough time! 

So, so far this year I have 20 holiday days booked in/used up. I have 8 left to use (I need to take a few over Christmas obviously!), so at the moment the very loose plan is to do a long weekend in Morocco and use one for that, a long weekend in Croatia and use two for that, and then use five for the bigger trip with Air France. 

What are your travel plans for the year?

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Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Royal Ascot Royal Enclosure 2015.

Despite the pouring rain, I think this year's Royal Ascot was the best yet. If you've been reading my blog for a while you'll know that I go to Ascot every year with friends (see here and here), apart from last year when we decided to skip it in favour of a day in London. However this year I had a bit of a kerfuffle, I'm not a member of the enclosure, and my friend who I usually go with as their guest was away for Ascot this year, and stupidly I didn't realise until it was too late to get any of my other friends to get me a badge as they closed the applications really early this year. But these things always have a way of materializing...

Appletiser got in touch and offered me Grandstand tickets as they're the official Royal Ascot soft drink sponsor, so I thought it would be interesting to see what it was like in the 'other' section and accepted. I still went to the picnic in the car park with my friends who were going in to the Royal Enclosure, and luckily when I got there, they actually had a spare Royal Enclosure badge ready and waiting for me! Hurrah! As much as I would have loved to have experienced the Grandstand...I do love the enclosure. And it meant I could spend the day with friends.

We went on the Saturday, so unfortunately the weather was absolutely atrocious! We started with the traditional picnic in the car park, with the umbrellas popping up every so often, and 26 bottles of Mumm champagne. Yes. 26. For 18 of us. This was less than half of it!

Naturally Dom and I had to swap hats for a photo...

Dan is without a doubt one of the most dapper gentlemen I know! He always looks on point! 

After hurriedly drinking the champagne and scoffing macarons, we decided to skip seeing the Queen and just slow down with the drinking and eating. We did manage to make the first race though, and I've seen the Queen before so wasn't too fussed about seeing her again. The best thing about the Royal Enclosure is how close it is to the finish line, but sadly this isn't always good. Two years ago I saw a winning horse (Thomas Chippendale) collapse and die as it crossed the finish line, it put us in a bit of a sad mood for the rest of the day and is the main reason I didn't go last year.

The boys won from Mahsoob winning the first race after an excellent tip off, so we went to get their winnings and find some of the other members of the group that we'd lost in the excitement of it all. During the next race most of us just took photos and participated in another hat swap, and yet again the guys won!

The hat swap got a little confusing and Harry and Peter got their hats muddled up...Peter legit thought his hat had gotten bigger from the heat, until he realized that he was actually wearing Harry's...

The girls and I decided to go and get afternoon tea as we were a little peckish after all that drinking and celebrating the wins, so we left the boys to it and went in search of tea and cake. What we found was pretty fabulous! Delicious sandwiches, cute little scones with clotted cream and jam, and the sweetest but tastiest cakes I think I've ever had from an afternoon tea! Caroline had the gluten free tea, and she said it was one of the best she's had - she particularly loved the desserts. Sadly I didn't get any photos of hers, but here are some photos of our normal tea!

By the time we'd finished there was only one race left, sadly we missed Frankie Dettori's win and the chance to see him in the winners circle, but the guys assured us it was pretty epic. To be honest we were happy we'd chosen the cake over Dettori - our poor feet needed a rest and our bellies needed refueling. We paid our bill (a very reasonable £50 for two afternoon teas between 3 of us in the Royal Enclosure), and made our way up to the fourth floor to see the final race.

It started pouring with rain so we stayed indoors and watched the race from over the tops of everyone else's heads as everyone had the same idea. Then we made our way to the grandstand area where the bandstand is, for the old fashioned end of day sing-a-long. I wasn't a massive fan of all the rain though as you can see...Caroline on the other hand looks far too happy!

As it was still raining we let a couple of people share our massive umbrella, and then I heard one of them say she was from Western Australia, instantly I went 'Wait what!? Where!?' and she said 'Perth!' I yelled in her face 'NO WAY! I went to JTC!!' and she screamed and grabbed some guy nearby. Turns out the guy went to JTC as well, and he graduated the same year as my ex-boyfriend so he knew him. It just goes to show how bloody small Perth is, forget six, there really is only one or two degrees of separation!

The rain was torrential by this point and we honestly didn't think it could get any worse. We had our umbrellas up and sang at the tops of our voices until it all got too much. Then we ran for it in pairs, Harry and I raced from the bandstand to the Royal Enclosure squealing with laughter as we got absolutely drenched from the rain coming at us from all angles and the puddles splashing all up our legs as our feet hit the ground.

We finally got to the Birdcage in the Enclosure where a few friends had saved a table for us all. The magnums of Bollinger champagne were out and flowing, so naturally this happened....

But then I realized I was now even wetter than before. So this face happened.

Despite the weather, and despite my hat and shoes getting utterly destroyed, I actually think this was the best Royal Ascot I've been to so far, it was such a fun day and definitely memorable! I think this one last photo sums it up very nicely, it's so quintessentially British - standing in the Royal Enclosure at Ascot, in the rain, in morning dress. England.

The End.

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Sunday, 21 June 2015

White Nights in London.

Last week I had a bit of a kerfuffle. I had two events in one night. I never usually do that, as I like to devote my whole evening and attention to one event, but after working out timings I figured, why not try it! 

Serpentine Lido Club Terrace

I started my evening at Lima Floral in Covent Garden eating the most delicious food and drinking the insanely alcoholic Pisco cocktails. Jasiminne and Suze were both there too, so it was lovely to have a quick catch up. We were seated in the bar downstairs, but unfortunately I'd left my DSLR at home due to all the travelling I had to do that day, and sadly my little GF5 just didn't like the low light so the photos didn't come out too great. Next time I'm just gonna suck it up and lug the DSLR around with me! 

Pisco Sour Cocktail from Lima Floral

I had a really wonderful hour or so there though, which included tasting some very potent Pisco Sours, as well as straight Pisco, and the cream that goes on top of Pisco (which is more alcoholic than the actual drink!). We also had this delicious Ceviche dish...just look at all those colours!

Ceviche at Lima Floral London

I then dashed over to the Serpentine in Hyde Park to meet Henry, as I was dragging him along to the Visit Finland #WhiteNightLondon event, which was being held on the terrace of the Serpentine Lido at sunset!

Hyde Park Serpentine Lido Club Terrace

Serpentine Lido Club Terrace

We started with Finlandia vodka and tonic, and then had some delicious food; Traditional sausage with potato salad, salad, and asparagus with hollandaise sauce. There was also the fish option of salmon, but as you all know by now, I'm really not the biggest fan of salmon and red fish.

Finlandia vodka at the Visit Finland White Nights event

Summer BBQ at Serpentine Lido

Flowers at Serpentine Lido event

The theme for the event was white, I'm not the best with white - I tend to spill food and drink down myself whenever I wear white, so I wore my classic Breton striped dress which is my summer staple. I actually don't know what I'd do without this dress, I absolutely love it. It's perfect for work and perfect for smart/casual events after work. 

Hyde Park Serpentine Lido Club Terrace

The sunset was pretty beautiful, and the weather was just perfect! Look at that sky!

The event was to celebrate the Finnish White Nights, which happen during the summer months in Finland. Because Finland is so close to the arctic circle, the sun only sets very briefly before rising again, meaning it doesn't get dark throughout the summer. 

Hyde Park Serpentine Lido Club Terrace pool

Serpentine Lido Club Terrace Pool

London sky at dusk

Sunset at Hyde Park Serpentine Lido

Visit Finland White Night London event

We had such a lovely evening, with great food, some interesting Finnish music, and a really gorgeous setting! Then Henry and I got really excited when Hannah arrived...

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