Visit Slovenia: Cobbles, Castles and So Much Cake

Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana, is one of those places that feels as though it’s been lifted straight from the pages of an old picture book and dropped accidentally into our world. Bric a brac houses scatter up impossibly green hills, little splotches of burnt orange, sunflower yellow, periwinkle blue. Ornate bridges and cobbled streets wind around the river that cuts through the centre of the city. The boats that meander up and down often carry musicians, so soft music mingles in the air with the smells of water and cooking and hot stone. The castle perches on its hill, watching over Ljubljana, its towers visible from almost anywhere in the city.

This isn’t a city that lends itself to a rushed, metropolitan city break. The pace of life here is slower. Tourists and locals alike drift gently through the pedestrianised old town, drinking in the beauty of their surroundings. At night, the restaurants along the river throw open their doors and light their candles and the people spill out onto the riverbanks, eating and drinking and dancing and laughing. It’s impossible not to be charmed.

On our first day in Ljubljana, Niall and I plan to do a walking tour of the city. Unfortunately, we settle a little too comfortably into the laid back lifestyle and end up snoozing and eating pastries in our apartment until 11am, missing the start time for the tour. C’est la vie. Luckily for us, Ljubljana old town is tiny, easily walkable from one end to the other in no time at all. We wander up and down the river, snapping photographs of the beautiful buildings and bridges, occasionally stopping to point and say “I wonder what that is. Dunno. Lovely though.”

Reader, we probably should have gone on the walking tour. But reader, we have such a wonderful morning that I don’t really have any regrets. If you’re there for the history, absolutely get yourself on a tour. If you’re just there for the pretty things, you’ll be fine just wandering.

If you’re planning to visit Ljubljana between March and October, make sure you’re there for at least one Friday. On Fridays, one of Ljubljana’s biggest squares is home to a street food market like no other. The Open Kitchen gives Ljubljana’s best chefs a chance to show off their wares at a fraction of the price you’d pay in their restaurants. Striped green and white tents fill the square selling gourmet pad thai, vegan cakes, enormous burritos, local gin, barrels of mussels, Slovenian sparkling wine. The white wooden tables fill quickly, so we perch on the steps of the square and watch the world go by. We originally wander in for lunch and end up being so bowled over by the food that we come back for dinner. Steaming spoonfuls of spicy chicken served in crisp, warm roti wraps and plates of soft, pink filet mignon piled on herb crusted potatoes…this is no ordinary street food.

Niall genuinely looks a little frightened as I unhinge my jaw like a boa constrictor and shove this entire plate of steak into it.

After lunch, we head for Ljubljana’s castle. You can walk up to the castle but I am spectacularly full and Niall politely declines my request that he roll me up the hill, so we take the funicular railway. The railway has us at the foot of the castle in a few minutes and also gives me the opportunity to make “putting the fun in funicular” jokes several more times than is really necessary. At least I make myself laugh, and I think we can all agree that’s the important thing.

The castle is an amazing building, a bizarre warren of wooden beams and formidable flagstones spiralling upwards to a gorgeous courtyard. If your other half is, for example, a geeky structural engineer, they’re sure to enjoy the step by step explanations of how the castle was restored. But don’t worry, the castle also houses plenty for us normal folks too. While we are there, we explore a National Geographic photo exhibition, a tiny little chapel, a free outdoor library and of course, spectacular views of Ljubljana.

There is also a museum of puppetry squirrelled away somewhere so if you’re into being terrified, go wild!

On our second day, we head out from Ljubljana to the very place that had caused me to book the trip in the first place: Lake Bled. Pals, I booked a holiday based on someone else’s Instagram post and I have absolutely zero regrets about it. Bled is about an hour outside Ljubljana and the bus runs straight from Ljubljana bus station every hour for about €7. If you’re planning to go on the weekend, book the bus in advance. I did not know this was a thing you had to do and end up only getting on a bus because I look so crestfallen that the nice lady calls us over when she got a cancellation and sells us two tickets on the spot. Great success.
Lake Bled is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been in real life. Maybe with the exception of seeing the Northern Lights, I can’t remember many other things that have taken my breath away like this does. I literally scream on a bus when we round the corner. Never go on holiday with me, I am an embarrassment.

I feel like the rest of this post should just be photographs but this is the kind of scenery every writer dreams of describing, so I’m going to give it a go. The lake pools in front of us, glassy and impossibly, impossibly blue. If you lean over the edge, the water is clear enough that you can see all the way to the bottom. People swim alongside tiny fish and haughty swans and I am furious that I haven’t brought my bathing costume. The snowcapped peaks of the Alps stretch out in the distance, giving way to emerald hills. Bled Castle clings to the rocky cliff face on one side of the lake, on the other side, is a tiny island, housing only a church. To say that this place is like a fairytale is hackneyed. It doesn’t do it justice. And also, since In Bruges, I can’t hear that phrase without hearing it in Brendan Gleeson’s accent. But really. It is.

We take a rocky wooden pletna boat out to the island and climb the 99 steps to the church. I inform Niall that traditionally, men are supposed to carry their wives up the steps as a sign of strength and devotion. Niall tells me to piss off. I make him take a romantic selfie. He is furious.

The church houses a Wishing Bell, which you are supposed to ring three times. If you truly believe in God, your wish will be granted. As I’m not sure me and God are entirely sympatico, we settle for tossing a lucky penny into the lake and directing our wishes to the goddess of love whose temple stood on the island before the church.

You can walk all the way around the lake and also up to the castle. But we only have a few hours in Bled and I have other things on my mind. If I haven’t yet convinced you that Bled is where your soul belongs, brace yourselves. You see, Bled is home to a proud culinary speciality. One which has become so iconic that it has actually become a symbol of Bled. And that speciality is a cream cake.

Find you a person who looks at you the way I look at cream cakes. We head to Hotel Park, the original home of the cream cake and sit on their terrace overlooking the lake. The cake is a little like a vanilla slice, but twice the size and with double the cream. It is gorgeous. Go to Bled and get one immediately. Waiters fire out cream cakes at a frequency I’ve never seen: it genuinely seems like everyone on this terrace has come for the cake.

This is another excellent thing I discover about Slovenia: going for cake is a thing. It is a completely normal, acceptable thing to go into a restaurant or a cafe and only order dessert.
This is Lolita’s bakery in Ljubljana. We nip under one of their umbrellas to shelter from a sudden rainstorm and end up ordering rather a lot of cake. I eat multiple different cakes each day. Sometimes, waiters suggest specific wines or liqueurs to match the cake you have ordered. I genuinely think this may be the secret to happiness.

Cake and liqueurs at Vander Restaurant.

Slovenia is a beautiful, surprising little country and one I’d definitely like to see more of. Book yourself a flight, and make sure to pack a couple of princess dresses.

Snowflakes That Stay On My Nose

As the plane dipped lower into the clouds veiling our destination, thin, spidery tendrils of ice started to climb the windows. The water droplets that had knitted together to form the cloud were frozen solid. The air sparkled. I decided I was going to like Norway very much.

visit oslo fjords

Oslo in winter has more than a touch of the fantastical about it. The cold is the first thing you notice; prickling at the base of your neck, twitching in your fingertips, sweeping the tiredness from your lungs. Oslo is so cold that even time seems to freeze. Snowflakes hang static in the air, clinging like feathers to scarves and lips and eyelashes. The pale sun barely scrapes above the horizon, bathing everything in perpetual milky twilight, which clashes incongruously with the violent blue of the sky. The light comes from the carpet of snow as much as from the sun. Strings of fairy lights hang on every surface, glinting with impossibly huge, comic book icicles. The fjords which plunge into the city are vast, moving sheets of ice; cold fairy tale mirrors. Looking around at the sharp beauty of the ice and the gloom lurking beneath the snow-laden pine trees, it’s easy to see why Roald Dahl chose Norway as the home of his Witches.

Arriving somewhere so strange and impossible is disorientating. Niall and I wandered through the streets, joints creaking in protest at the dipping temperature, breath hitching in our throats. We faltered as we walked, the desire to stop and stare at the beauty around us fighting a losing fight against the call of a warm hotel bed. Stepping into the lobby of the hotel, I felt like I was physically thawing, like I’d been wrapped in a film sheet of frost that was cracking and melting around me. A fire dominated the reception area, even in the middle of the Witching Hour. Warm gold and wooden furnishings wrapped us up tight after our frigid walk. When I booked the room, I had asked if we could have one with a pretty view and they delivered on that in abundance. A huge window stretched the full length of one wall, showing the city of Oslo below and the fjords shining in the distance.

oslo city

We fell asleep almost immediately and didn’t wake again until the morning light started to tap on our windows at around 9am. We were only in Oslo for one full day, so we had decided not to put any pressure on ourselves to visit everything, instead opting to just wander and see whatever we’d see. Having spent a grand total of 25 minutes in the cold the previous night, we knew we’d need all of our strength to survive a full day outdoors. I prepared by eating 43 chocolate croissants and squeezing myself into five layers, including a toasty thermal layer.

winter thermal clothes

Oh yeah. I’m bringing sexy back. I believe this is what the Daily Mail is talking about when they refer to “pouring your curves”. Fiona pours her curves into snuggly thermal longjohns. Form an orderly queue, admirers. (And take thermals if you are going to Oslo. You might actually freeze if you don’t.)

Bundled up in so much clothing that the two of us resembled the Michelin Man, we left the hotel and headed round the corner to the square which houses the city’s impressive parliament building on one end and the national theatre on the other.

Confession: Oslo has a great number of very beautiful buildings and I don’t have photos of any of them because I was too busy gambolling around in the snow with the grace and poise of a newborn calf, so Niall took photos of that instead.

oslo square snow

The parliament building is like an enormous fairy tale castle looming over the square. The circular central building is guarded on either side by its curving sisters. Wrought in pale stone, she looks especially beautiful covered in snow. The theatre is the gigantic classical theatre of my dreams. Adorned with Roman pillars, watching statues, a huge dome and the names of Norway’s famous playwrights, it looks like an illustration that has fallen off the page. I took great pleasure in walking up to each statue and declaring knowledgeably “Oh, this must be Ibsen” until I eventually landed upon the right one. Between these two buildings, the square was filled with skeletal trees and an ice rink, on which a trio of ice dancers were practising. This walked that fine, gorgeous line between being utterly beautiful and slightly comical that synchronised swimmers do, so we stood and watched them a while.

oslo main parliament square

I am somewhat obsessed with water. Seriously, if I am ever feeling down and you don’t know what to do with me, take me to stare at some water for a while. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a duck pond, a trickling burn or the sea, it invariably makes me feel better. So we left the square in search of the fjord that had winked at us from our hotel room. When we came upon it, I literally gasped. The water was utterly still and half frozen, crackling sheets of ice spread underneath snowy ships. The Oslo town hall stretched high above us, looking eerily like what I’d always pictured the Ministry of Love to look like. The Akershus fortress ran along one side of the dock, watching disapprovingly as I confidently stepped into a snowdrift and promptly got stuck.

oslo snow

This is the strangest thing about Oslo: it is a city of amazing contrast. The buildings veer wildly between romantic, fairytale architecture and stark, imposing fortresses. The terrifying town hall is filled with the most beautiful bells which, on the stroke of the hour, played John Lennon’s Imagine. The fortress looks over a promenade dotted with statues of beautiful naked women, adorned with wrinkles and folds and rolls. If you look carefully at the freezing sky in my photographs, you can see that a tiny rainbow hung over the spire of the castle within Akershus.

oslo fjord fortress visit oslo fjord

At the base of one of the statues, we found a headless snowman, which Niall proudly rescued.

oslo snowman

We entered the fort and climbed to the highest point, to get a proper look at the docks slumbering below.

oslo fjord

It was very romantic, so Niall threw a handful of snow at me and then we took this photo.

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By this point, we only had a few more hours before the sun slunk behind the horizon again, so we jumped on the Metro to go do the only thing I refused to leave Oslo without doing: the Korketrekkeren sledge run. This would be worth doing even just for the train ride there, which takes you through the forests and mountains that surround Oslo, past endless rows of picture perfect winter lodges and silvery treetops. After about 45 minutes of pressing my nose against the train window like a child, we arrived at the top of Korketrekkeren. The sledge run is two kilometers long and drops 255 metres in that time. A non stop ride takes about 10 minutes and then you can catch the Metro right back to the top.

oslo korketrekkeren sledging

Because we were there on a Saturday afternoon, the queue for sledge rental was so long that we almost gave up but I am SO GLAD that we didn’t. Flying down the track at a frankly unsafe speed as the setting sun stained the trees around me burnt, rusty orange is one of the best things I’ve ever done.

oslo korketrekkeren sledging oslo winter sledging

By the time we reached the bottom of the sledge run, we’d been out in a temperature of -11 for about seven hours and my fingertips were starting to feel like they had a touch of frostbite to them. We headed back to the hotel with the intention of warming up, grabbing dinner and heading back out to see the square at night time.

Reader, we didn’t even get out from under the duvet for another two hours. I’m sure that Oslo at night is very beautiful but after a day of wandering in the cold, we were content to snuggle under the duvet with a bottle of Baileys that we picked up in duty free and watching it through our window. This, by the way, is a great tip if you’re thinking of visiting Oslo. Everything is massively expensive but I especially noticed it with the alcohol prices. Grab a little bottle of something on your way through the airport. All too soon, our day had come to an end and we returned to London to find that the temperature here had also plummeted into minus figures. Oslo is an amazing, confusing, contradictory dream. Go.

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We stayed in the Radisson Blu Scandinavia hotel and I can’t recommend them enough. This post isn’t sponsored or affiliated with them in any way, they were just aces enough to deserve a shoutout. 

Visiting Krakow: Krakow’s Old Town and Its Horrible History

This week, the boy and I ran away to Krakow. Because if we must accept that winter is coming, we should probably do it in a city where the chills down your neck are as likely to be from a ghost as from the weather and where you can warm up of an evening in a cafe that sells vodka instead of tea.

Krakow is a big, gorgeous mess of a city with old and new elements vying for position in its streets, Italian Renaissance facades sitting side by side with stark Communist architecture, neon signs plastered on the front of grand, crumbling mansions, all framed by the most beautiful Autumn I’ve ever seen. Seriously, visit Krakow in Autumn. I’ve never seen colours like it.

krakow city centre autumn

I could have spent my entire holiday sat here watching the leaves fall like snow.

Things To See In Krakow

We decided to sink our teeth into the city straight away and joined a walking tour of the Old Town with Free Walking Tour. I’m going to rave a lot about these guys, I promise they’re not paying me. Their tours were just really awesome. We were shown around the city by Damian, who was quirky, entertaining and ridiculously knowledgeable about Krakow’s turbulent history.

We started in the main Market Square, which is dominated by an enormous indoor market building and the beautiful St Mary’s Basilica.

st marys basilica krakow

Every hour, on the hour, a trumpet player appears at the top of the tower and plays an unfinished melody. No one knows why the melody is unfinished, although there is a flagrantly untrue legend that the trumpet player was shot by a Mongolian archer while warning the city of an oncoming invasion. I really don’t know how Poland got a reputation for being stern and serious, they’re the most whimsical bunch I’ve ever encountered and I love it.

The tour continued through the streets of the Old Town, with a quick stop at Jagiellonian University to see the twisted chimney where the devil escaped from Dr Faust.

krakow jagiellonian university

We wound down at the beautiful Wawel Castle where we marvelled at the beautiful, chaotic cathedral and heard tales of a dragon slaying shepherd boy and a runaway king. One of these stories is a legend. The other actually happened, because Poland is the greatest.

krakow wawel castle

Wawel Castle was also the site of one of the most gorgeous sunsets I’ve ever seen, although it didn’t happen on the first night. It happened on our last night and I literally ran across the city to see it when I saw the colour of the sky starting to change.

krakow wawel castle sunset

During the tour, Damian stuck in a little plug for a tour that his colleague Jacek was giving that night: the macabre tour. The macabre tour took place after the sun had set, giving the streets we’d wandered during the day an undeniably sinister turn, and covered the more gruesome elements of the city’s history. We learned of the sickness that swept Krakow, creating real life vampires who subsisted on bloodied meat and couldn’t go out in sunlight for fear of their delicate skin. The skeletons of these vampires were found bound in their graves, often beheaded, sometimes with the fateful stake driven through their chests. We learned about mysterious serial killers who stalked the dark streets. We learned about the ghosts of tragic women who haunt the city squares. We learned about the life of the hangman and the cruel and unusual punishments meted out by a deeply religious society. I was put in an iron collar outside the church for being a woman of sin.

krakow st mary basillica

I’m a bit of a creepy chick. I like true crime. I like ghost stories. I once tried to take Niall on a date to a pathology museum. This tour was right up my street. Jacek was funny and frightening by turn and yeah, okay, he might have been a little bit handsome. Shut up, that has nothing to do with my positive review.

Having thoroughly explored the Old Town, we spent our next free day wandering the Jewish Quarter. The quarter is lovely, full of winding streets and cafes bursting with cushions and candles. Every house looks like it could potentially be the set of the Disney Haunted Manor ride.

krakow jewish quarter

It’s quirky and kitschy and a photographer’s absolute dream.

Where to Eat and Drink In Krakow

When I’m on holiday, I generally commit to eating and drinking myself into an early grave and Krakow was no exception. We found some brilliant little places to escape the cold and warm up with a plate of dumplings, a hot chocolate or a cheeky little shot of vodka.

Cafe Botanica

This little place is directly off the main market square and it’s brilliant. We ended up there for lunch by accident, having gotten lost in the lanes surrounding the square and liked it so much that we went back for dinner the next night. It’s a funny little nook, covered in leaves and wood panelling, with a stunning mezzanine level in the back that gives the feeling of sitting outside, without the wintry temperatures.

eat & drink krakow

They also served me the best hot chocolate I’ve ever drunk, not a word of a lie. Hot chocolate in Europe seems to be quite a different creature to our hot, milky cocoa. It’s thick and creamy and almost unbearably rich. I had mine with French vanilla but there were about 10 different options, at varying levels of booziness.

eat & drink krakow

And speaking of drunk, this is the size of their wine glasses, presented without comment.

eat and drink krakow

Cafe Mlynek

This was a little B&B that we stumbled upon in the Jewish Quarter and I absolutely loved it. Seriously, I’m so booking out a room for like six months and writing my novel here.

eat and drink jewish quarter krakow

We only stopped in for tea on our last day but a German couple across from us ordered two massive breakfasts and made us both insanely jealous. The food was traditional Polish fare, with a bit of a healthy twist. Or semi-healthy. Everything appeared to be covered in cheese. Two very enthusiastic thumbs up.

Marchewka z Groszkiem

Sweet Jesus, don’t ask me to pronounce this. I like to think that the Polish people in these restaurants were charmed by our hapless mangling of their language. This was another cafe in the Jewish Quarter that we went to for lunch. It was adorably chintzy and delivered on my touristy expectations of an authentic Polish cafe: little fringed lamps, embroidered tablecloths, gigantic portions of hearty food.

eat & drink jewish quarter krakow

Niall thinks I’m an eejit.

Studio Qulinarne

Another Jewish Quarter find, we booked this place after reading about it in the Guardian because apparently we’re middle class now. Niall was horrified at how fancy it was, but that really just means anywhere with candles and tablecloths. They let us in with me in a band tshirt and Niall in his Converse so make of that what you will. The food was delicious and the atmosphere was beautiful, with draping fabric chandeliers casting soft light and a pianist providing gentle background music. I was ludicrously happy here. It was the priciest place that we had dinner but the entire meal still only came to about £50, so I’m certainly not complaining.

eating in krakow jewish quarter

Wodka Cafe Bar

This place was so awesome, I’m gutted that we didn’t get to spend a whole evening here.

vodka bar krakow poland

Located just a hop (or a stumble) away from the Market Square, this bar boasts over 100 different types of vodka. And coffee, if you’re into that sort of thing. We were not. When I asked to see the menu, the bartender laughed and gestured at the vast shelves behind him. As our tourguides on the first day had suggested, I requested that the bartender choose for me. Apparently, he’s an expert on matching people to vodkas. My kind of expert. I’m a raspberry.

vodka bar krakow poland

The vodka is served straight from the freezer in iced glasses. The bartender’s horror when I asked whether you shot the drink or sip it came as a great relief – the standard measure in Poland is 50ml. Once we’d polished off our raspberry vodkas, we decided to order a couple of pineapples. It was the special of the day, after all. The vodkas were dangerously delicious, smooth and sweet enough to be sipped straight. I felt like I should be conspiring something. The bar also offers a tasting board from six to twenty three different kinds of vodka and liqueur and if I didn’t have a flight to catch that day, you can bet that I’d have been sipping my way through one of those all evening.

Krakow is a truly wonderful place, filled with beauty and chaos and magic. I’m already missing those golden leaves and crooked alleyways and daydreaming about returning to its crumbling beauty to live as a starving artist, subsiding solely on inspiration and vodka.

Up next: our Krakow day trips!

Cruisin’

2015 has been a great year of travel for me: starting the year in Australia, paddling off the palm of Dubai, watching the Northern Lights dance in Iceland, and now, my very first cruise!

My mum had been threatening to take me on a cruise for ages so, with me having never been on one before and the Caribbean just a little out of our price range, we decided to hop on board the luxurious P&O Britannia for a two night taster cruise to Guernsey.

P&O britannia

Britannia, casually ruling the waves.

We had roughly a two hour wait in Southampton, following probably the most incomprehensible queueing system I’ve ever experienced, so that wasn’t the best start ever to our holiday. P&O, if you’re reading it, you guys might want to work on this one. Two hours is a pretty long time when you’re only on the ship for 48. By the time we finally made it through to the ship, I was feeling pretty grumpy.

Naturally, this evaporated within about three seconds of actually getting onto the ship and I immediately started squealing, photographing everything in sight and drinking.

champagne p&o britannia cruise

The Britannia is beautiful. Obviously, I’ve never been on a cruise ship before, so I don’t know if this is par for the course on a cruise but everything was absolutely stunning. Everywhere I turned, I was faced with opulent silks and chrome so polished I could retouch my lipstick in it. The central staircase spirals through the heart of the ship, following the patterns of a dazzling chandelier. I made a mental note to run down it pretending to be Kate Winslet at every available opportunity.

britannia cruise crystal room britannia cruise

We grabbed some lunch and the obligatory glasses of prosecco when we boarded, before heading to the cocktail bar at the back of the ship for sail away.

britannia p&o southampton

Those of you who know me well will know that I’m a total water baby. I might be a Capricorn but that’s only because I jumped the gun and arrived two months early…I suspect I’ve got a good chunk of Pisces in there. There is nothing that doesn’t seem better to me after a few hours of staring at the sea or wandering along a canal. So watching the sun set over the churning water, cocktail in hand, while Southampton melted into the distance was pretty near bliss for me.

britannia cruise sunset

We were feeling pretty sleepy after the early journey to Southampton to decided to retire to our BALCONY ROOM and get ready for dinner at a leisurely pace. With more cocktails. Obviously. We were tired, not dead.

We got dressed for dinner, I nearly peed my pants when I remembered that all the food was already paid for so I could have steak with absolutely no qualms and we headed off in search of some entertainment.

After a brief stint at the casino, which saw me win exactly nothing on the roulette wheel (must have used up all my luck in Australia), we found ourselves in the Crystal Room – the ship’s sumptuous onboard ballroom. The band were incredible, working their way through a gorgeous range of covers, including a soulful Material Girl, which was probably my favourite thing ever. But what I loved about this room were the dancers. Every so often, a young couple would get up and strut their stuff and I love watching people who can dance. It makes me so very jealous. More often, though, an older couple would take to the floor and put us all to shame. I was bawling my heart out.

p&o britannia crystal room

I am very proud of this photo, so if you recognise these folks, shout!

At this point, we were both flagging a little, so we decided to hit the hay, rocked to sleep by the motion of the ship.

By the time we woke up, we had dropped anchor at Guernsey. I woke up before my mum, so dragged my duvet out onto the balcony and watched the shuttle ships taking people to and from the island. To be honest, I think I could spend two days doing that and be happy. Once mum woke up, we enjoyed a leisurely room service breakfast on the balcony, because we so fancy.

p&o britannia balcony

After breakfast, it was time to go see Guernsey! Again, the queue to get onto the shuttle boats was a bit of a nightmare. P&O, my darlings, you are bad at organising and queueing. You are very, very good at everything else, but the actual logistics were a bit of a nightmare. Fortunately, Guernsey was worth the wait.

p&o britannia visit guernsey

Having grown up on the rocks at Troon, I’m a sucker for a gorgeous harbour and Guernsey certainly didn’t disappoint. The stunning seaside disappears into beautiful, chintzy lanes, a lot like Brighton.

guernsey lanes guernsey shops guernsey harbour

We started at the sea front where, I’m not even kidding, there was a DOG FESTIVAL on. There were dogs everywhere. I nearly signed a lease then and there. Then, to avoid me being arrested for foisting myself on innocent dog owners, we wandered up to the stunning Candie Gardens.

candie gardens guernsey candie gardens guernsey

The gardens were an absolute eruption of colour – I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many beautiful flowers in such a small space – and if you climb to the top, you can look all the way down to the sea. Seriously, I’m so moving here.

All too soon, it was time to head back to the Britannia. We bid Guernsey a fond farewell and promised to come back again soon. At this point, we realised that it had been at least 10 minutes since our last cocktail, so we found some ridiculously comfortable bucket chairs and had another.

p&o britannia deckI’d just like to point out the perils of taking someone like me on a food-inclusive holiday. I literally couldn’t stop eating. I was so overcome by all the options and so excited that I wasn’t being charged for any of it that I had a slice of pizza, a burger and a box of chips for my lunch. And I’d do it again.

The second night was formal night, and I jumped at the chance to get all dressed up in my Cinderella dress from the White Party.

britannia crows nest

p&o britannia crows nest

Ladies who lounge.

Dressed in our finest finery, we headed back to the restaurant for an utterly magnificent dinner. Between courses, we were treated to a champagne sorbet palette cleanser which literally made me giggle in delight and I even managed to tick off an item from this year’s bucket list – eating my first ever baked alaska!

p&o britannia restaurant

After winning yet more nothing at the casino, we wandered up to the Crow’s Nest to listen to the ship’s pianist play a variety of film and musical tunes. Sitting there, watching the sea go by, with a glass of champagne in my hand and genuinely fantastic music…I don’t think I could have wanted for anything.

p&o britannia crows nest

p&o britannia library

The rare spotted Fiona in her natural habitat.

I genuinely don’t know why cruises are an old people thing. They are awesome. I plan to drag Niall on one as soon as I have the available funds. The Britannia was absolutely brilliant and P&O looked after us like royalty. If you get the chance, get on this ship.

The North Remembers: Visiting Reykjavik

This weekend, Niall and I decided to escape the harsh London winter and head to the northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavik, Iceland.

Undeterred by the maximum temperature prediction of 4 degrees and the notoriously unpredictable weather, we packed our longjohns and woollens and hopped on a plane.

Despite being so cold that it was literally painful almost all of the time, the three days we spent in Iceland housed some of the most incredible things I’ve ever seen.

northern lights visit reyjavik

Yeah, including those. But first things first.

We started our time in Reykjavik with a trip to the Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa nestled among Iceland’s seemingly endless lava fields. The Blue Lagoon comprises an enormous pool of geothermally heated seawater. The seawater contains the active ingredient silica, as well as minerals and algae which heals and softens skin. And it’s gloriously, beautifully warm.

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I’ve always loved hot outdoor pools. There’s something so satisfying about feeling the cold air play around your shoulders and then ducking into gorgeous, scalding water. The Blue Lagoon takes it to another level, with a spectacular setting, buckets of silica mud to rub into your face and body and an in water bar. We floated around the lagoon for two glorious hours, feeling all our tension wash away. It was busy, but because the lagoon is so big, it was easy to find quiet spots to relax and make out. A word of warning, the water in the lagoon is very good for your skin, but not awesome on your hair. I loaded my hair up with conditioner before I got in and it still took five shampoos and a whole travel sized conditioner bottle before I could even get a comb through it. And even then, it was a struggle. I dread to think of the damage I did to my hair. Smother your hair in deep conditioner and try to keep it out of the water as much as possible.

We left the Lagoon after a couple of hour because we wanted to squeeze in an afternoon nap before catching the late night light show. At 10pm, we headed out into the freezing Reykjavik night in the hope of catching a glimpse of the elusive and magnificent Northern Lights. As we drove South towards the coast, the snow which had been fluttering down all day thickened and threatened to envelope the bus completely. Eventually, all we could see was white in all directions. After two hours of shivering in the blizzard, we got back on the bus, cold, wet and thoroughly miserable. Having been obsessed with the sky for as long as I can remember, I was desperate to see the lights. I reached peak grumpiness on that bus ride home. But then, about half an hour into the journey, the bus pulled over to the side of the road. A thin grey band stretched from the horizon into the night sky, dotted all around with stars. Fun fact: the lights appear grey to the naked eye most of the time, due to how we perceive colour at night. It’s only when we look at them on a camera that we see the bright colours. The grey band slowly split in two and started to twist across the sky.

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And then, out of nowhere, the band split and went shifting and skipping across the sky. The lights were dancing. And it was probably the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

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They might have been fashionably late, refusing to show up until 2am, but they were so worth the wait.

We arrived back at the hotel at 3am, begrudgingly set our alarms for 8am and fell into bed.

Early next morning, we got up and got on another bus to go explore Iceland’s Golden Circle. Comprising of Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir’s geysers and Thingvellir National Park, this infamous route takes in the most spectacular and bizarre of Icelandic scenery. We also added a stop to a tomato greenhouse, which was powered entirely by geothermal energy. They boasted a massive collection of tomato plants, which they grow all year round, boxes and boxes of bumblebees, adorable basil plants on each table and a cafe serving fresh tomato soup and bloody marys, made fresh from their tomatoes.

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After warming up with some soup and fresh bread, we headed back out into the cold to explore Iceland’s amazing natural landscape.

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First stop was Geysir, where we watched the enormous Strokker shoot boiling steam metres into the air. All the way to the burny boil. We lasted approximately three minutes in the cold and then made a dash for the visitor centre cafe. The Icelandic have a word for days like this: Gluggaveður. Literally translating as “window weather”, this word described weather that is beautiful, but best enjoyed through a window. We figured that the natives know best, so decided to follow their advice.

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Having consumed our second bowl of soup of the day, it was time to head for the Gullfoss waterfall. The waterfall cuts through an incredible snowscape, and is impossible to see until you’re right on top of it.

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Freezing our butts off.

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Again, we lasted about a minute outside before retiring to the cafe for hot chocolates and a slice of apple pie. It’s important to keep your energy up in these low temperatures you know.

The last stop on our tour was the incredible Thingvellir National Park. The park is situated in the rift valley between the North American and Eurasian continental plates, making for some incredible views. Lava fields and earthquake canyons stretch out as far as the eye can see, surrounded by dormant volcanos and cut through with icy blue rivers.

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I wasted no time in establishing myself as Queen in the North, ignoring Niall’s suggestion that the Young Wolf probably wouldn’t be shivering under her four layers of clothing.

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The snow which had been floating in the air started to fall with a bit more abandon, and it wasn’t long before we were stuck in our four hundredth blizzard of the holiday. So we made our way back to Reykjavik in search of alcohol to numb the cold. Having read a recommendation for Snaps restaurant on Tripadvisor, we decided to go check it out. And I’m so glad we did. Enormous windows, bare lightbulbs and hanging plants gave the place an almost dreamy, greenhouse feel. The atmosphere was warm and informal, and the food was to die for. I had a warm duck salad with pear, pomegranate and sweet potato, and Niall had an open porkbelly sandwich. Both were completely delicious and they definitely weren’t shy with their portions.

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Honestly, I ate until I was absolutely stuffed and still had a full plate of food in front of me. We passed on dessert, opting instead for another round of drinks to prepare us for the walk home.

We packed so much into our two and a half days, paying the price in sleep. Honestly, I’m still reeling a little. But I feel so lucky to have experienced this amazingly beautiful, volatile and completely quirky country.

Skál, to Iceland!

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P.S. If you’d like to watch me taste all the weird assed Icelandic alcohol we bought in duty free, click here!

Brighton Rocks

For Valentines Day, the boy and I ran away to the seaside.

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We spent two lovely days wandering along the beach, eating and drinking our weight in junk and snuggling down in the gloriously beautiful Old Ship hotel.

Our room in the hotel was plush and stunningly decorated. A silver seagulled focus wall and a golden spyglass in the corner gave the room an undoubtedly seaside feel, without becoming chintsy or losing it’s luxury feel.

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Check that out. We settled in, tested the cushions for comfiness and then headed across the road to the beach. It was one of those scaldingly cold and bright days, with the wind biting through our coats and throwing white foam against the shiny pebbles of the beach. Having grown up on the freezing rocks of Troon beach, I seldom feel more at home than staring at a windswept, steely sea, bundled up in my winter layers, eating an inappropriate ice cream.

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We wandered along the beach, past stores selling brightly painted driftwood, buckets of seashells and newspaper cones filled with mussels, across to the infamous pier. We treaded those creaky wooden boards, Mr I’m-Definitely-Not-Scared-Of-Heights occasionally clutching at me when the sea below became visible between them. The pier was gaudy and wonderful, covered with the same coin operated amusements, kooky old fortune tellers and rickety fairground rides that have kept its charm alive for over 100 years. We grabbed some candy floss and threw ourselves wilfully into the resulting sugar coma.

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Thoroughly wind battered, we headed for a safe, warm haven: the pub. With my Valentines evening resting on a tightly fought rugby match, I fell into the welcoming arms of Prosecco before falling, with relief, into the celebratory arms of the boy. Still buzzing with sugar and bubbles, we went back to the hotel, laden with pizza and stuck on Back to the Future, because we’re glamorous like that.

In the morning, we made a beeline for the hotel’s breakfast room. I always judge hotel’s by their breakfasts, so I was particularly excited for this. We were met in the bright and gorgeous restaurant by a seriously friendly lady called Gillian. Gillian, if you’re ever reading this, thanks for giving us such an excellent start to the day. We were given a pretty table overlooking the hotel’s wonderful view of the seaside. The breakfast was great, the usual slap up full english, with decent pastries, fruit salads, cereals and hot drinks. Once we had filled up, we headed back out into the sunshine and nosied around the Brighton lanes. All too soon, it was time for the pub again and more rugby. This game didn’t go quite so well. So we ordered some more drinks.

old ship hotel brighton

We had dinner booked in the hotel’s restaurant on the Sunday evening, and man, does that restaurant scrub up nicely. The bright morning room was made warm and intimate with candelight, and the garish lights of the pier, made beautiful by distance and mist, twinkled in the inky sea.

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Service was quick and friendly, and the food was delicious. After dinner, and a considerable amount of wine, we retired back to the bedroom. And watched the Godfather. Because, again, glamour.

I had an absolutely incredible weekend. Sometimes, all you need is to get away from everything and do nothing with your favourite person for a while. If you’re looking for a gorgeous seaside escape, I’d say they don’t come much more beautiful than this.

United Arab Excellent

So, my laptop having the world’s biggest meltdown has meant that I haven’t blogged in a while. Which meant that I never got to tell you about my super awesome post-Australia stopover in Dubai. It has now been over a month since this actually happened, which means that the acceptable bragging time has probably now passed.

BUT I DON’T CARE. The two days we spent in Dubai were probably the most entirely instagrammable days I’ve ever had, so you’ll all just have to deal with it.

We arrived at the luxurious Kempinski hotel, located on the palm of Dubai, in the early hours of the morning, following an eleven hour flight from Perth, so I didn’t really appreciate how beautiful it was, beyond the exquisite comfyness of a bed after an entire night on a plane. So my jaw pretty much dropped when I woke up the next morning to this:

DSCF0446Now, I know there are plenty of travel bloggers out there who probably stay in rooms like this all the time, but you guys, I have never stayed in a hotel room like this in my life. It made my Gleneagles room look like a Travelodge. I totally played it cool by screaming, doing three circuits and then sitting in every single chair to ascertain exactly which one made me look most like Princess Grace of Monaco.

Once we had all shaken off our jetlag a little, we headed down to check out the hotel’s private beach. Obviously.

kempinski dubai beachWe were each given a towel, allowed to choose a sun lounger, and then had a member of hotel staff drag it around until optimal sun exposure/city view/water proximity had been reached. I’ve never been waited on like that before, so I felt consistently awful asking the staff to do things, but they were so lovely about it and made me feel really at ease.

I’d love to say that we went and explored the city, or took advantage of the hotel’s watersport programme, but I just lay on that lounger all day, reading the Time Traveller’s Wife and trying not to get my ginger, freckly self burnt.

We headed back up to our absolute palace of a room and I had a long, hot bath, because when you don’t have a bath in your flat, every opportunity has to be seized. Even if it is 35 degrees outside. Once we were all feeling a bit fresher, we headed down for dinner, which was served in one of the hotel’s private beach cabanas. Again, obviously.

kempinski dubai beach cabana restaurantI don’t think I’ve ever eaten in such a beautiful place. The colourful lights of the city, reflected in the still water made a stunning contrast to the warm, dim lighting of the cabanas. After the food, we headed a little further down the beach to warm up by the flickering light of a fire pit.

kempinski dubaiIf I could have, I’d have sat there all night drinking cocktails and watching the stars come out, but between the beanbags, the crackling of the wood, the heat from the fire, and of course, the unmanageable jetlag, my eyelids soon started to feel pretty heavy. We headed back to the room, stopping to admire how gorgeous the hotel grounds looked by night.

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Can we just talk about how cute this photo is for a sec?

kempinski dubaiBut the jetlag did have its advantages. It meant that come 5:30am, I was awake and ready for one of the most spectacular sights I’ve ever seen. I feel like there’s been a lot of “best I’ve ever seen” in this blog post, but that’s just Dubai. It doesn’t do things by halves. Me, mum and Sophie pulled on our clothes and headed down to the beach to watch the sun rise over the city.

I’ll never do this justice, so I’m gonna go ahead and let the photos do the talking here.

DSCF0509 DSCF0538 DSCF0540Once the sun was high in the sky and the temperature started to climb, we went back up to the room for room service breakfast on the balcony. This was also the first time I ever got room service, and it’s totally awesome. The guy brought it on a big silver tray and everything.

DSCF0548Look at that breakfast. I ate so much pineapple that I actually started to worry about burning my tongue. Amazing. Another couple of hours lying by the pool and on the beach and it was time to head back to the airport, all too soon.

The hotel was genuinely incredible. If you’re looking for somewhere to totally relax, I’d definitely recommend checking it out. We were there for a full day and a half, and never felt like we had to leave the hotel. And there were loads of things that we didn’t even try! We didn’t get massages on the beach, or hit the spa, or go swimming in the pool, or smoke shisha pipes in the big squishy armchairs by the fountain…if you’re looking for somewhere to make you feel like a total princess, this is the place.

Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oy Oy Oy!

Today is officially my last day in Australia. And I am so very, very in denial. It’s been an absolutely incredible holiday, one of the best I can remember. Despite what my social media updates might suggest, I had no intention of shoving my holiday down everyone’s throats. So, even though I could have blogged about 17 times a day about all the awesome things I’ve done (Is that a humblebrag? I do apologise. I’m becoming one of those people that I hate.), I decided to save them up and give the people who are interested a lovely big highlights post. So if you’ve been throwing darts at my Australia Instagrams, you might want to give this post a skip.

So! Without any further ado, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the highlights of my amazing trip down under.

Meeting a whole new generation of little cousins.

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I know everyone thinks that their children are the most beautiful, but these ones actually are. I’ve spent about 40% of my holiday cooing at one or more of them.

Turning 23 in the most spectacular setting imaginable.

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I’m used to bundling up warm and hoping for snow on my birthday, so to picnic in the sunshine under an enormous tree, overlooking the whole city was unbelievable.

The dog beach.

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Dog. Beach. Dog beach dog beach dog beach. Oh my god, dog beach.

Picnic tea at the gloriously wonderful outdoor cinema. Twice.

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If you haven’t seen Pride yet, go see it. If you have the chance to go to a Grease singalong, do it. Nothing like a glass of wine, a beanbag, a great movie and a beautiful sunset. One of the absolute highlights.

Getting a massage from an actual waterfall and bathing in the pools beneath.

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Does this one even need explaining? I’m just gonna leave that picture there.

Playing the world’s prettiest crazy golf course.

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Vineyard hopping round Western Australia’s delicious wineries.

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Picking two winners at the Trots.

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I won $37. So damn rich.

…and then winning $90 at the casino the next night.

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Look at my big excited face. I put $2.50 on 17 in roulette. Boom.

High tea on the 33rd floor.

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Holy crap, so much food.

Seeing the world’s most spectacular sunsets.

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I love seeing the sunset, because I know that no matter what happens, how rich or poor I get, a sunset like this will always and forever take my breath away.

How To Survive Long Haul Travel Without Looking Like A Bag of Spanners

The more astute among you will have noticed that I’m in Australia. Apologies for the perpetual online bragging, it’s just so damn pretty. Rest assured that within a fortnight, you will once again be regaled with thrilling pictures of my tiny, freezing London flat.

Unfortunately, to get there, I had to spend no less than 19 hours on a plane. A very nice plane, but a plane nonetheless. And since the general travel advice of flying business class wasn’t reeeaaally available to me, I decided to put together a guide for the monetarily challenged long haul flyer. So I guess that technically makes this a broke girl’s guide! So good at blog seriesing.

I thought long and hard, and packed myself what I think is a pretty excellent survival pack for the hazardous and terrifying environment that is an aeroplane seat.

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I’ll go through these essential survival items in completely arbitrary categories that I have just decided.

Cleanliness

Never, ever underestimate how much better a clean pair of socks will make you feel. I feel like a new woman when I have clean socks on, and that is the truth about my glamorous life in one sentence. I packed a clean pair of socks, clean underwear, a little roll on deodorant and my toothbrush. When you’re travelling for more than a day, this can really help to break it up and keep some semblance of normalcy in your routine.

Entertainment

For the love of god, bring something to do. I brought my Kindle, which, despite me being an old school book lover, is a total massive lifesaver in situations like this, and my laptop, having optimistically promised that I’d do a load of blogging on the flight. Instead, I rinsed a series of Life of Mars on the in flight entertainment. But I had the option, and that’s what matters. Bring a book, some knitting, some crayons…literally anything to distract you from the mind numbing boredom that is your life for the next 10+ hours. Also, it’s a good idea to bring some snacks, in case the aeroplane food is totally inedible. I brought a big assed bag of Thorntons Diplomats because I’m fancy (really because I got them for Christmas).

That I have classed food as entertainment is very telling.

Moisturisation

Where are my dry skinned girls at? For me, one of the worst things about being on a plane is coming off with pieces of your face flinging themselves from your body and fluttering to the ground like the world’s saddest, most disgusting snow. To avoid this charming Doctor-Who-villain look, I brought my tub of Inlight Organic Night Balm and my Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lip Balm, both of which I have raved about on here before (moisturiser here and lip balm here). I was also lucky enough to be gifted an amazing travel sheet mask set by TT Beauty Masks, which contained a cleansing wipe, an exfoliating wipe and a nourishing sheet mask for gorgeous girls on the move. I busted this out after a horrendous bout of travel sickness during hour 17, and it was exactly what my poor, parched skin needed. The oily cleansing wipe soothed and cooled my face like a big drink of water, the sheet mask perked me right up and besides, who doesn’t love scaring the ever loving christ out of an air hostess by transforming into Hannibal Lecter? Also, I’d hope that this doesn’t need to be said, but please remember to drink some water. Buy a big assed bottle when you get through security and sip at it for the whole flight. Yes, it will make you need to pee – suck it up.

Medicines

Pack some painkillers and some Immodium in your hand luggage – aint nobody got time for travel sickness. I also keep some peppermint tea bags on me. Peppermint tea is an absolute lifesaver if you’re feeling a bit queasy, and settles your stomach right down if it decides to go for some stunning gastrogymnastics. It also has the added bonus of freshening up your mouth if you just can’t be bothered negotiating brushing your teeth in those tiny aeroplane sinks.

Comfort

As well as my nice clean socks, I also packed a pair of fluffy slippers, which kept me lovely and cosy and helped me relax a bit. Since planes are almost invariably too hot or too cold, I dressed light and took my big green scarf with me to wrap around me like a blanket. Comfort levels maximised.

Essentials

Remember to keep your passport and boarding card handy, as well as your purse, phone and any chargers you need. Also, if you have a stopover for a couple of hours, don’t be a rookie like me and forget to bring currency for that country too. The ability to grab a cup of coffee might just save your sanity and stop you hitting actual madness.

Pictured: actual madness

Pictured: actual madness

What to Wear

My priority when choosing my flight outfit was the ability to curl up in literally any position without getting tangled up or exposing my vagina to anyone. So I went for a pair of super soft leggings and a vest top. I picked leggings that were made out of soft pyjama material, because I find normal leggings can be very binding. There, I said it. Makeup: don’t even bother. Seriously, you don’t want it sitting on your face for 19 hours, and it’s never going to stay put anyways. Start with a nice clean face, and then pamper the hell out of yourself with sheet masks and fancy moisturisers. My hair is too heavy to wear up, but if you can, wearing it up is a great way to keep cool and comfortable.

My sexy, sexy flight outfit.

My sexy, sexy flight outfit.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you. I still had undeniably dark moments during our flight, didn’t quite manage to avoid travel sickness and did come off the plane looking a little bit like a bag of spanners. But taking care of myself during the flight has meant that my body bounced straight back and I haven’t been suffering with dry skin, jetlag or general ickyness during my holiday. And until they invent teleporters, or I win the lottery and can fly business class, that’s good enough for me. T minus one week until the return flight, keep me in your thoughts.

A Little Slice Of Heaven

Last weekend, I got a little glimpse of how the other half live at the utterly incomparable Gleneagles Hotel. And when I say incomparable, I mean I have literally never seen anything like it in my entire life. The father booked us a little overnighter as part of Sophie’s 18th, and we’ve spent the past month frantically counting down days and scouring our wardrobes for something suitably sophisticated to wear to dinner.

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I think the word you’re looking for is “Unffff”.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The weekend didn’t get off to the greatest start, with every train between Edinburgh and Glasgow cancelled for the entire day. This meant that while the rest of the family chilled out up there, I got to spend an hour on a stupid bus, and then another hour taking in the beautiful scenery of Falkirk.

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Not quite the same. BUT. Gleneagles Hotel then picked me right back up again by having me collected at the station by this baby:

Ermehgerd.

Ermehgerd.

Check that out. And the driver didn’t even openly judge me for taking a photo of his car. The next day was so incredible that even including the horrendous bus ride and 2 hours spent in a Tesco cafe in Falkirk, it would still average out as one of the greatest days I’ve had.

For one thing, mine and Sophie’s room looked like this:

IMG_0226It had a balcony and a fire with a remote control. I just can’t even…

Once we’d stopped jumping around, we immediately settled into the lifestyle.

IMG_2757 IMG_2760And then immediately settled back out of it again when we discovered there were robes.

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Seconds before this picture was taken, I remarked that I looked like Roger Federer.

Seconds before this picture was taken, I remarked that I looked like Roger Federer.

IMG_2771After a couple of glasses of bubbly and a lot of silliness, we changed into our swimsuits and headed down to the spa.

I obviously couldn’t take my camera into the spa with me, so I’ll try and paint you a little picture, although I’m not sure I have the words. We were greeted at every turn by relentlessly lovely staff who gave us the grand tour of the spa and its facilities. After the first room, I abandoned all attempts at pretending I wasn’t impressed and openly gawked at the wonders they had in store for us. First, we sampled each of their glorious showers, luxuriating in warm mango and papaya oil, braving the cold peppermint shower and then warming up again in an enormous jet shower. We jumped into a darkened steam room, and watched the twinkling constellations of lights change for a while. Then, we headed for the vitality pool, where warm jets of water pummelled and bubbled away any tiny tensions we had managed to hang onto.

As a treat (as if the whole weekend wasn’t a treat), the three ladies had been booked in for facials as part of our spa experience, so after a brief lounge in the stunning indoor courtyard, we were whisked away to be pampered. I’ve never felt so relaxed in my entire life. I’m pretty sure I dozed off during my facial. In the hands of the very capable Nina, I emerged glowing, softened and utterly chilled out. We were sent to recover in the relaxation room, which was an absolute dreamland of soft beds, fluffy blankets, fruit teas and dimmed lights. However great I’m making this sound, triple it. I could have spent the entire weekend in the spa and emerged a new woman.

Eventually, we dragged our sleepy selves from the spa on the promise of dinner and cocktails. We put on our party dresses and our most sophisticated smiles and high tailed it to the restaurant.

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Oh, just Sophie being THE MOST BEAUTIFUL.

Oh, just Sophie being THE MOST BEAUTIFUL.

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The food was incredible, the cocktails were even better, and once again, we were treated like royalty all the way. Seriously, why are you even still reading this and not looking up when the next train to Gleneagles is? They’ll send you a car. Because they’re awesome.

Exhausted after a very difficult day of living out our princess fantasies, Sophs and I retired to our room to relax by the fire.

IMG_2811We did intend to go back down to the bar and sample some more of the cocktail menu, but as soon as we sat on that big, cushiony bed, it was game over. Before we knew it, it was time for breakfast.

Breakfast.

Oh breakfast. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…Seriously, I could have devoted an entire blog post to how good the breakfast was. My dad ate five courses. Only my puny stomach stopped me from doing the same. On a side note, you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve watched an 18 year old girl demolish an enormous cut of roast ham at 9 o’clock in the morning. A sight to behold.

What's that noise? Oh, just some angels singing.

What’s that noise? Oh, just some angels singing.

After breakfast, we were all in serious need of some fresh air and some exercise to work off the monumental food babies we had accrued. So while Karla went in search of a candle to make her house smell like the spa, Sophs, Kiera and I went to play in the beautiful, sprawling grounds of the hotel.

IMG_2832 IMG_2835 IMG_2839 IMG_2860 IMG_5396As 12 o’clock drew nearer, Sophie and I gave everyone the slip under the guise of packing, to enjoy one final glass of fizz on our balcony.

IMG_2853The day was perfect, and the hotel went above and beyond my expectations in every single way. If you’re looking for some serious luxury in your life, get on the website and book a night here, you won’t regret it.