Sunday, 30 December 2018

Looking Forward: My Travel Plans for 2019.

After the past few epic years of travelling pretty much every month or every other month, in 2019 it might surprise you to hear that I'm planning on cutting down on travel massively. I really want to explore more of my own city more and have more time in London (especially after living abroad in Sydney for two years), and I want to focus on a few bigger trips rather than lots of smaller weekend trips coupled with a few big trips.

As well as wanting to explore my own city and spend more time in London, I'm also trying to save to buy a property (hello, hoping all the prices crash during Brexit haha), so really need to focus on saving as much as possible over the next year or two for that. Yep, I am finally becoming an adult and prioritising. 

So the current plans are...

March 2019 - USA Roadtrip Chicago to New Orleans

So this has been in the planning for almost a year now, but we have finally booked the flights! My Flea (who I went to Cambodia with back in 2017) and I are going to be doing a massive roadtrip, and driving from Chicago down to New Orleans for the Tennessee Williams literary festival at the end of March. We're starting in Chicago, then heading to St Louis, Nashville, Memphis, and Jackson, before finally arriving in NOLA! The theme for the entire trip is literature and music, so we're basically going to geek out in every location. 

Photo by Sawyer Bengtson on Unsplash

April 2019 - Europe, or the Caribbean

So it's my birthday over Easter weekend this year, and I'd quite like to go somewhere in Europe for the long weekend. Or the Caribbean, but ya know, we'll see. Easter is a peak time so the Caribbean is super pricey this time of year and I need to focus on saving to buy somewhere. It's also much harder to do a long weekend in the Caribbean because all the hotels focus on all-inclusive week-long stays, but I'd really love to return to Cuba and it's much easier to do a long weekend in Havana than anywhere else in the Caribbean! 

May 2019 - Luxembourg

Jasiminne and I are desperate to go to Luxembourg...mostly just so I can fly on Lux Air and have my surname (Lux) printed on the ticket haha. 

Photo by Polina Sushko on Unsplash

July 2019 - Greece

I basically just want to sail around the Greek islands on a yacht and eat Greek salads every day. I'm not sure if this one will actually happen, but I can dream...right? Anyone got any tips for yacht charter in Greece?

Photo by Jonathan Gallegos on Unsplash

September 2019 - Balkans Roadtrip 

This has been on my 'dream' list I think every single year since I started blogging, but this year I am determined to FINALLY do a roadtrip from Dubrovnik in Croatia, to Lake Kotor in Montenegro, and then Mostar in Bosnia before driving back to Dubrovnik. 

Photo by Morgan on Unsplash

December 2019 - NYC

I'm desperate to go back to NYC at Christmas-time! As you may know I went in 2017 for the weekend before Christmas and had THE BEST time with all the festive things and feels (read about my NYC Christmas trip). It would be a dream come true to go back and experience that all over again.

I completely get that this is still A LOT, but it's much less than previous years, and the only trip confirmed so far is the USA roadtrip, so the rest of it may not happen or might change. But that's what the aim is!

What are you planning for 2019?

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Thursday, 27 December 2018

Looking Back: My Life & Travels in 2018.

2018 was a big year for me travel-wise, I ticked off some pretty big bucket list destinations and activities (including the majority of my original 2018 travel plan list), and was really fortunate to travel quite a lot. I thought it would be fun to reflect back on my travels throughout 2018 and give you an overview of what I got up to!

I ended up taking 13 trips and visiting five new countries (bringing the current total to 42 countries visited), which I was super happy with as I try and aim to visit at least two new countries a year on top of visiting places I've already been to, to explore them deeper. I like having the balance between experiencing completely new cultures and destinations, and revisiting previously visited ones.


Sunday, 23 December 2018

Game of Thrones Christmas Ball at the Lansdowne Club 2018.

It's been a while since I blogged about a ball or other clubland event, so I figured now is a better time than any! Due to my move to Australia two years ago, I hadn't been to a Christmas Ball since the Lansdowne ball in 2015, and so attending the Christmas ball this year felt like a sort of, homecoming, all over again. It was so much fun and this year's theme was Game of Thrones, meaning the photo props were pretty epic!


Thursday, 20 December 2018

Luxury in 48 Hours: Marrakech, Morocco.

Marrakech is somewhere I have been wanting to visit for close to ten years. For one reason or another it just never happened; from a boyfriend who didn't want to go way back when I first decided I needed to visit, to my parents who also didn't want to go, and then a cancelled trip two years ago when surgery prevented me from flying. But finally, FINALLY I was boarding a plane to Marrakech. And then we landed and were told the Moroccan police were coming on-board to question a few passengers. Oh.


Sunday, 16 December 2018

Postcards from Marrakech.

It's rare that I publish a blog post so light on content, but Marrakech was so beautiful I feel it's one of those places where the photos should do all the talking. So, in a very unusual style, here is a little 'Postcards from Marrakech' post with a few pretty photos from this stunning Moroccan city and the most photogenic places in the city. 

Postcards from Marrakech - most photogenic places


Thursday, 13 December 2018

Hotel Review: La Sultana, Marrakech.

It was over two years ago that I was supposed to visit La Sultana in Marrakech. It was all booked in, but unfortunately due to surgery and some medical issues shortly before I moved to Australia, I was unable to go. Thankfully the lovely team at the hotel told me to let them know when I returned, which I did a few months ago. So, was my stay at one of Marrakech's finest hotels worth the two and a half year wait? You bet it was!

La Sultana Marrakech Luxury Hotel Swimming Pool


Thursday, 6 December 2018

Petersham Nurseries, Covent Garden.

Back in the summer Jasiminne and I had the most wonderful dinner at the new Petersham Nurseries in Covent Garden, and I somehow managed to lose the photos. It may have been because I have seven different hard drives and I *may* have saved them to the wrong one...but I found them! So the review is finally here...four months late. Oops. Sorry. I promise the wait is worth it though, because our dinner was MAGICAL.


Thursday, 29 November 2018

Expat Update: 6 Months Since Returning to the UK.

So it's been six months today since I made the move from Sydney back to London, and I thought I'd do an update on what I've been up to and how I've been finding it. I've made no secret that this year has been one of the toughest of my life - if not THE toughest - but as always I've come out stronger and with a gratitude for life, and a determination to continue living life to the full.

View of St Paul's from Madison Rooftop


Sunday, 25 November 2018

Hotel Review: The Curtain, Shoreditch.

Shoreditch is a bit of a funny one for me. Almost every time I have been to Shoreditch I have cried. Not because I hate it, just because I always get lost there...and when I get lost I panic, and when I panic I burst into tears. I often find that getting those tears out then gives me clarity to actually figure out where I am and where I'm going, I guess like all things in life? 

So in proper Catherine-in-Shoreditch tradition, I also cried at The Curtain. I wish I could say it was out of happiness because it was so beautiful (it was beautiful!), but actually it's because it was so freezing cold I couldn't swim in the rooftop pool.

How's that for a first world problem?

The Curtain Hotel Shoreditch


Tuesday, 20 November 2018

Finding the Perfect Christmas Gifts for my Brother.

The past two Christmases have been tricky for me. Two years ago I was in Australia so had to send very light or virtual gifts in the post back to my family in England, and last year I arrived in the UK just days before Christmas, so had to do a mad dash to the shops to get gifts. The only person who I planned-ahead for last year was my brother. He's a huge basketball fan so while I was in NYC on my way to London from Sydney, I popped into the NBA store and bought his gift there. This year however, I've had plenty of time to think about and organise gifts which has been a bit strange, but thankfully Boots* have stepped in to help me out a little bit and remind me what it's like to plan Christmas in advance!

Boots christmas gifts for my brother - Tom Ford Black Orchid and TGI's cocktail set


Thursday, 15 November 2018

Hotel Review: Hotel Metropole, Monte Carlo.

During our French Riviera Roadtrip we were really lucky to be staying in some of the most beautiful hotels in the region, with Hotel Metropole being one of the most glamorous hotels I have ever stayed at. We arrived in our hire car and it was instantly whisked away from us by the hotel valet while we were shown inside to the check-in desk. Cocktails were placed in our hands as we spied Thierry Henry sat across from us, and before we knew it we were exploring our incredible suite!

The exterior of the five-star luxury Hotel Metropole in Monte Carlo

Sunday, 11 November 2018

Minimising the Stress of Starting Over in a New Country With Leesa.

Moving countries is something I like to think I'm an expert in by now. I've moved across the world a total of four times - out to Australia when I was 16, back to England two years later, out to Australia again when I was 25, and back to England again two years later. Obviously when I was a teenager those moves were very different experiences, as my parents did pretty much all the hard work and all I had to do was pack my suitcase and boxes. The second and third times I moved countries were a little more tricky, as suddenly I had to organise everything completely alone and start from scratch each time with new furniture and homey bits.


Sunday, 4 November 2018

Roadtripping the French Riviera.

Earlier this year when I was in the midst of my grief over my latest miscarriage, I was stressing about the due date and what I would do on the date. As I recently said in my Refinery29 article, it's one of the hardest dates in the calendar when you've gone through miscarriage. Filled with so much hope whilst pregnant, it's difficult to know what to do with the date when there is no longer a baby to welcome into the world. I didn't want to sit at home feeling sorry for myself, and I also didn't want to go to work and carry on my life as normal because it felt disrespectful to the baby I lost. 

I always travel over difficult dates and anniversaries (including the anniversary of my first miscarriage), so my best friend in Australia suggested we go on holiday together over the date. I had a think about it and then announced I'd always wanted to do the South of France, so we started planning and dreaming of roadtripping the French Riviera. And despite my numbness and tears on the date itself, we had the best week ever and it was a brilliant way to take my mind of things, and concentrate on living life to the full and being grateful for what I have.


Sunday, 28 October 2018

Hotel Review: Shangri-La, Paris.

I've been to Paris many, many times over the years and stayed in a mix of hotels and friends' apartments whilst in the city. However it had been almost three years since I last stayed overnight in Paris, as last time I went in 2017 I did a 'one day in Paris' trip. The Shangri-La Paris had long been on my radar, mostly because I've been staying at the hotels reasonably regularly for the past twenty years (and I'm only 27, so the majority of my life), but also because it's well-known to be one of the best luxury hotels in France's capital. From start to finish our stay was everything I had dreamed of and more, and I'm so excited to tell you about our stay!


Sunday, 21 October 2018

Ultimate Girls Weekend Guide to Paris.

I have visited Paris many, many times over the years, with all sorts of people. My first visit was with my first boyfriend, and I hated it. My second trip was with my girl friends, and I fell in love with it. Since that second trip I have visited Paris every year without fail, often twice a year, mainly to get my Angelina hot chocolate fix! 

Going to Paris with the girls is one of my favourite things to do, I'm pretty much guaranteed to have the best weekend eating all the food and just wandering around the city soaking up the beautiful architecture and just generally being a flâneur. And so after all these years of blogging about trips to Paris, I figured it was time to do my own ultimate guide to a girls weekend trip to the city of love! Because despite being so focused on romance and loved up couples, it really is the best city for a fun girls trip.


Monday, 15 October 2018

Baby Loss Awareness Week: My Miscarriage Story.

I've spent many months thinking about this blog post. I've thought about what I would say, how I would share my story. What parts of it I would tell and what I would keep private, a secret between me and my second unborn - never born - baby. I've written it and re-written it over and over. The drafts from the first few weeks post-miscarriage break my heart into pieces all over again when I read my thoughts and feelings and remember the raw heartbreak I was experiencing. I wrote briefly about my miscarriages a few months back, and now feel I'm in a better place to think logically and tell more of my story. Although it still hurts, it's far more numb, and I'm able to think cohesively. So, I guess this is my miscarriage story...


Sunday, 30 September 2018

Hotel Review: Brookland's Hotel, Surrey.

It had been years since my best friend last visited from Australia, and so we planned plenty of adventures for while she was staying with me. Although we've spent the past two years living in the same country again, with my move back to London it will be another year or two before we are reunited, and so we needed plenty of girlie time before our long-distance friendship resumed. Our first mini-holiday was at the Brookland's Hotel in Weybridge, just a quick 20-minute drive from my parent's house. 


Thursday, 27 September 2018

Mouthwatering Steaks at Gillray's Steakhouse.

Well, I think this is probably the longest I have gone without blogging in my six years of doing this! I've had a bit of a crazy month, so this will be a bit of a chatty post as well as a review of a fabulous restaurant located in the heart of London's Southbank. Gillray's is a steakhouse situated within the luxury Marriott County Hall hotel, and we enjoyed some of the best steaks I have ever had in London.


Thursday, 6 September 2018

Revisiting Newly Refurbished Royal Lancaster London.

The last time I'd stepped foot in Lancaster London was for our blogger's Christmas afternoon tea way back in 2014. Since then they've had a £40million refurb and re-branded to Royal Lancaster, turning it from a 4-star to a 5-star hotel. And the change has been so great that I didn't recognise the place at all. I stayed for one night and was blown away by how beautiful the design of the hotel is. It's very on-trend right now and is full of gold, marble, bold blues and turquoises, and with beautiful gigantic mirrors everywhere.


Thursday, 30 August 2018

A Blogger's Reunion at Harry's Dolce Vita, Knightsbridge.

Getting a large group of people together in London is an impossible feat in itself, let alone when one of those people (moi) has just moved back from the other side of the world and has every family member and friend to catch up with, as well as the death of two grandparents and a double-funeral to help arrange. But finally we managed it, and almost three months after I returned home to England, I finally saw my favourite blogging babes. 

These ladies have been in my life for about 5-6 years now, and every time I see them I'm reminded of just how special the blogging community is, and how it has enriched my life in so many ways. We chose Harry's Dolce Vita for our dinner. It was a Monday and many restaurants in London aren't open on Monday's, and as it's part of the Caprice Group, we knew it would be unlikely to disappoint. 


Thursday, 23 August 2018

One Day in Valencia, Spain.

Recently the family and I spent a week in Spain in a little town an hour south of Valencia, so we did a day trip to the city one day to soak up the beautiful architecture and eat paella! There isn't a huge amount to actually do in Valencia, it's more a place to wander around staring up at the buildings and visiting the stunning churches to escape the heat. It's such a pretty city though that I just had to share our day trip with you all!

Valencia Cathedral Entrance - One Day in Valencia Spain


Sunday, 19 August 2018

Flying Singapore Airlines Business Class Singapore to Dubai.

Oh, Singapore Airlines, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I have always had a penchant for flying with Singapore Airlines, which started at the grand old age of seven years old, back in the mid-90s when TVs in the backs of the chairs were tiny little boxes that didn't provide on-demand films. You had to sit there and wait for a movie you didn't like to finish before the next one began, and you couldn't rewind it or fast-forward it. The TVs often had lines running through them, and it was SUCH a novelty for us kids to be able to play games on the plane as it was before the days when my brother and I were allowed Game Boys (I finally got one when I was 10).

Over the years I've tested out many airlines, and many classes of travel, but I always end up returning to Singapore Airlines. And so, seeing as Singapore Airlines was the airline I first flew to Australia on way back in 1997, it seemed apt to depart Australia on them over twenty years later. But this time instead of mid-90s economy, it was 2010's business class, baby.


Thursday, 16 August 2018

Authentic Mexican at Ella Canta, Intercontinental Park Lane.

Every so often you find an absolute gem in London, one that really genuinely surprises you. Ella Canta (pronounced 'eya canta') is not in a particularly trendy location, it's tucked inside the Intercontinental on Park Lane, but rather than being your usual soulless hotel restaurant, it is anything but. With it's own separate entrance you can easily avoid the hotel lobby with it's hustle and bustle of well-heeled guests, and instead you instantly feel welcomed into the bosom of Mexican charm and hospitality. I don't think I've been anywhere in London which such friendly staff, and Edd and I quickly fell in love with it.


Sunday, 12 August 2018

Dukes Hotel MarTEAni Afternoon Tea.

It had been a while since my last afternoon tea. They don't really do them well in Australia (hello, no clotted cream!), and so I avoided them while I was living out there. So on my return to England I was desperate for tiny sandwiches with the crusts cut off, beautiful cakes, and lashing of clotted cream on top of jam-coated scones. Thankfully right on cue, Dukes Hotel invited me along to test out their new MarTEAni afternoon tea, which is based on their famous Martini cocktail. Yes, yes you do get a martini with your afternoon tea...three in fact. 


Thursday, 9 August 2018

Flying Emirates First Class A380 Dubai to London.

At the very end of last year I told you all about my epic First Class Suites flight with Singapore Airlines, and how I was now saving up my points for a first class flight with Emirates on their A380! Well, I did it. 85,000 Emirates points later I was in the air from Dubai travelling to London in their A380 suite. And yes, I even had a shower on the plane!! So, seeing as my Singapore first class and Virgin Australia business class reviews were so popular, let me tell you more about my Emirates First Class flight and how it compared to Singapore's First Class offering...

Emirates First Class Suite on the A380 plane Review


Sunday, 5 August 2018

Hotel Review: Courthouse Hotel, Shoreditch.

I'm not usually one for 'trendy' hotels. I tend to go for classic or contemporary luxury hotels, and as such there may be a slight lack of variety on this blog. So I've decided to shake things up a little, starting with a review of a very hip and trendy hotel in Shoreditch that recently launched an even trendier rooftop bar; Courthouse Hotel. This five star hotel has everything you could want from a boutique luxury hotel, from the historic building and architecture, to the huge swimming pool and spa, and of course, the rooftop bar.

Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch London


Thursday, 2 August 2018

Luxury in 48 Hours: Sydney, Australia.

Sydney is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I lived there for 18 months, and although there are a whole bunch of blog posts on here about different things I did and ate during my time there, I thought it would be useful to put together a quick 48 hour guide for those who may only be in Sydney for a short time. Sydney is one of those cities that people tend to just stop off in for 2-4 days unless they have family or friends there. Australia is such a big place and so varied, that you really need to make the most of it, so staying in a city for just a couple of nights to get a flavour of it makes total sense.


Thursday, 26 July 2018

Hotel Review: The Langham, Sydney.

If you've been reading here for a while you'll know I'm a huge fan of the Langham Hotel group. I've previously stayed at The Langham in London, and The Langham in NYC, and now the Langham in Sydney! Just like the other two hotels the Langham in Sydney is classy, elegant, and sophisticated, with bags of beautiful classic style and soft pink and cream furnishings and details everywhere you look.


Monday, 23 July 2018

Yauatcha City's Summer Tanqueray Tea Garden.

Being back in London means I get to spend my evenings wining and dining at my favourite restaurants and bars again. The restaurants within the Hakkasan group have long been favourites of mine, and so a couple of weeks ago I spent a wonderful evening testing out Yauatcha City's beautiful new Tanqueray Tea Garden and their Signature set menu! 


Friday, 20 July 2018

My Secret Baby Loss Heartache + Life Lately.

For eight years I have kept this deep dark secret. Until recently only my close friends and family knew about what I'd been through, and there are a number of reasons why it has taken me so long to share my story. The main reason is that, until recently, I was ashamed. The other reason, is I was worried people would think I was oversharing and should be dealing with all this in private.

The problem is that taboo's will always stay taboo unless we talk about them openly and honestly. To break and end a taboo we need to share our experiences, and over the past few months I've realised that by not talking openly about my experience, I was part of the problem.

Sunday, 15 July 2018

An Aussie Reunion at Scarlett Green, Soho.

Well well well. My first blog post since being back in London, that is actually about somewhere IN London. I've been back in the country since the end of May but have had a lot of family stuff going on (I'll explain in a post soon) so blogging has been quite sporadic and I've been trying to get my South Pacific posts written up. But alas, here we go! I'm home, and I am SO ready to throw myself back into London life and London blogging. And what better way to start than with a restaurant review of an Australian restaurant? Scarlett Green in Soho is the new venture of the people behind Daisy Green Collective; a collection of Australian restaurants dotted around the city, and it is fabulously Australian! 

Banana bread sandwich at Scarlett Green Soho Australian Restaurant in London

Sunday, 8 July 2018

Exploring Samoa - The South Pacific's Best Kept Secret.

Despite just two days to see this beautiful South Pacific island, Samoa quickly became one of my favourite countries that I have ever been to. The scenery on the island was lush and tropical, and although we got lost multiple times, the locals were always willing to help direct us the right way. We set off in the morning from our hotel, the Sheraton Beach Resort, on the west side of Upolu island, and very quickly became infatuated with Samoa. 


Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Tropical Paradise of Sheraton Samoa Beach Resort.

When researching Samoa I found it a tricky place to find a decent hotel with all the mod-cons. It's still a relatively unheard of place to holiday, and aside from the many Australians and New Zealanders we bumped into around the island, we didn't really see too many other tourists from Europe - if any at all. After having such a great experience at the Sheraton Melbourne Hotel last year, I decided to give another Sheraton a try, and I am so glad I did! The Samoan resort is a tropical paradise, with a private lagoon beach, peaceful swimming pool, and the most incredible Samoan Oka! And, fire dancers.


Thursday, 14 June 2018

Ultimate Barefoot Luxury at Royal Davui Resort, Fiji.

From the moment we arrived on Royal Davui's private island in Fiji, we were in absolute heaven. I've stayed in a lot of incredible hotels over the years, and yet as soon as we arrived I knew this would be one of the very best. With just 24 hours to experience all that Davui had to offer, it was an exciting challenge that Laura and I were more than happy to take on, along with the help of Royal Davui's fabulous owner, Chris Southwick. Our journey to Royal Davui Island began at Fiji's Nadi airport where we were each weighed and then bundled into a teeny tiny airplane - just the two of us and the pilot. Little did we know the journey would be such an adventure...


Sunday, 10 June 2018

A Castaway Picnic on a Deserted Sand Cay in Fiji.

Our one day in Fiji was probably one of the dreamiest days I've ever had. I've had a pretty tough year so far, 2018 has certainly not been kind to me (more on this soon), but our Fiji day was peaceful, relaxing, and everything I ever imagined Fiji to be. It was the perfect way to celebrate visiting my 40th Country, and our entire Fiji experience surpassed all expectations! So, before I tell you all about the incredible Royal Davui Private Island that we stayed at, let me tell you about our castaway picnic on a deserted sand cay in the middle of the South Pacific ocean... 

Just half an hour after arriving on Royal Davui from Vanuatu we were jumping into their boat to be taken to their private sand cay. It's only when you approach the sandspit that you can even see it; a golden mound of soft sand rising out of the turquoise waters. The shore laps against the sand gently and the only life on the sand other than the odd crab, are a flock of sea birds.

The guys set up our picnic, complete with umbrella to protect us from the wind, picnic blanket, and deck chairs. And then they left us and took the boat back to Royal Davui. It was literally just us, in the middle of the ocean, on a tiny island of sand. We looked at each other, ran around the island shrieking and jumping around, and after eating our delicious picnic of salads and fancy sandwiches and gooey chocolate brownies and prosecco, we ran into the water and lay there floating in the shallows.

The wind suddenly picked up and in the distance it looked as though a storm was coming in with big black clouds peeking over the horizon. The gentle laps of the water quite quickly began to grow in size and urgency whilst the dark clouds sped toward us, and as we looked at each other with wide eyes in panic, the umbrella soared into the sky and fell all the way over the other side of the sand cay, the arms twisted and broken.

We raced back to the picnic set-up and sat on the chairs to stop them blowing away, and used the emergency mobile phone to call the resort and explain the 'situation' haha. They immediately sent the boat to collect us. We put our cover-ups back on to stop them blowing away and took some more photos to keep ourselves occupied, and after what felt like forever the men arrived to rescue us!

Laura and I couldn't stop giggling at the situation it was just so hilarious. It literally felt as though we were in some crazy film. What an experience!!



PIN FOR LATER: Picnicking on a deserted sand cay in Fiji, South Pacific

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