Travel blogging from home, what does that look like, what does it mean? Well, it means that I’m making all the plans and locating all of the best spots and it looks like me but sat down at my kitchen table (probably my new favourite spot) rather than be out and in it. Don’t get me wrong being out and immersed in it is my preference but in these times and with the current worldwide situation that is just not possible.
With this in mind I have created a list of places I would love to visit and a detailed plan of what I would do whilst I am there, you know, if I can go in the future. I will be posting one of these per day alongside any usual content that I’ve planned.
There is also a lot of content from trips and experiences that I have never written about. Memories in my head and photos stored away. They can all come out and be shown the light of day if there is a nationwide lockdown.
As well as planning to the nth degree I will also be taking the pooch out when and where possible whilst always keeping that social and safe distance and getting in the garden as much as possible. And you never know there is always a little lifestyle blogging that I could do.
Ahh Tuscany, take me back there. After much deliberation we chose Tuscany for our honeymoon and were able to return since that visit almost three years ago. As we have hired a car on each of our trips we were in a great position to do a little touring and see some local (and not so local) sights. I thought I would put together three of my favourite destinations in Tuscany to go alongside my Italian Travel Diaries so here they are.
1. Bagno Vignoni. A beautiful area containing thermal baths, history and how the baths were used back in their day and restaurants and shops to go with it. The place is full of natural beauty and we’ve visited on three separate occasions now as the setting is so tranquil I know no place like it in the UK. To see more visit my post from our Tuscan trip.
2. Montalcino. This was one of the quieter towns we visited whilst staying in Tuscany and that might just add to why it has made the list. Offering the same in quality of food and attractions as some of the other towns but being less busy leads me to want to visit again. On our last trip with family we went here a few times for different meals and I would love to explore more of the area in the future. Visiting the stunning restaurant Franci and getting a view of the castle is something I hope to remember. I have added Montalcino to one of my favourite places in Italy for its serenity and the fact that it had a less ‘touristy’ vibe.
3. Florence. Ok so we’ve gone from two of the quieter destinations to probably the busiest. We spent two nights in Florence when we visited and it is one of my favourite cities, and I’m not a city girl at all. The architecture is something else and sitting on the open rooftop bars looking over to everything is an experience I want to do in every place I go to. Being a city it had everything you could have wanted in terms of gorgeous places to eat, retail therapy and spots to simply take in the atmosphere and to me it never felt over busy. We went in the peak of summertime (it was boiling) and there was still space to walk a round freely.
I love writing. There is no doubt about that and I have done for as long as I remember. At school I would write stories and have to delete half to make it fit the word count, even now it’s no different and I’ll realise half way down a blog post I’ve talked away and not actually got to what I wanted to say, here I go again.
I wanted to put down a list of where I find some of my inspiration for blog posts and hopefully help others/ come back to it in the future if I ever get writers block, so here it is.
1. Go outside. Looking at the same four walls isn’t a natural source of newness and creativity. Images can get stale in the mind so a bit of fresh air and a change of scenery helps me a lot, probably most out of this list.
2. Seeing others’ creativity. I’m inspired by other people breaking the mould, trying something different and watching YouTube or being on instagram catches my imagination. There is a niche for everything nowadays and you’re never too far from a new artist, seeing an inspiring video or reading something created by someone else.
3. Reading. As much as I love to write I also love to read. Anything and everything. I think the easiest books for me to read are in short, chick-lit. I absorb them within a matter of days and then onto the next. This being so a book let’s me take my imagination out there without leaving my house. One of my favourite reads lately ‘Still Me’ by Jojo Moyes took me to New York, another By Katie Fforde called ‘Escape to the Country’ let me learn about cheese making and farm living. Two completely different scenarios and I didn’t have to change from my pyjamas.
I shall leave it there for now (or I’ll be rabbiting on all day) and add some more soon. Until then, what helps inspire you?
As a couple we love exploring. Seeing a new place or trying a new activity and it’s one of the ways we like to spend our days off together. The trouble with exploring is we don’t have an unlimited budget and although you can have an adventure just by leaving your front door sometimes we want to go further afield to see what a different town has to offer. In the years we have been together we have had a few adventures and I love finding bargains and ways to make these a little cheaper for ourselves so I have compiled a little list.
Taking a packed lunch. Of course the first thing is food. Eating out can be expensive so we like to pack a sandwich, snacks and take a flask of tea when we’re having a day out. It ends up saving us about £20-30 as a full day out for us includes a meal stop and a separate cuppa break.
Membership. We are National Trust members and this has meant we can have a day out for our monthly membership price of around £10. By the time we have visited 3 places a month our membership has been on average £3 a visit. We’ve had some great days out using our National Trust membership if you want to see more posts about them here.
We look for deals. Websites like Wowcher or Groupon often have good experience deals and if I am looking for a day out or even weekend away I’ll head over to see what’s on offer. SpaSeekers also offer great prices for spa days or I will even contact the venue directly to see if they have any offers on especially at quieter times of the year. Fun fact LB readers, I booked my Hen Party hotel through Wowcher as they had a great deal on at the time.
Cashback. Sometimes if we know where we would like to go in advance there are options and ways to receive cashback on purchases through websites. I love using Topcashback personally and there are so many ways to get cashback. I have used it previously to book airport parking, purchase travel insurance and organise days out and hotels. The fact that they offer cashback on purchases made through Wowcher, Virgin Experience Days and Secret Escapes blows my mind and makes me happy knowing it’s even more money saving.
Stay local. We do this to save money on travel costs when we need to and have had some great experiences not too far from our doorstep. When we search for local days out I am always surprised by the opportunities and experiences available so close to home. It saves on petrol costs and we are lucky that there are places in our area that offer free parking in some spots.
Plan the day. As much as we all love an adventure some can be planned adventures. Almost like that episode in Friends. If we plan our day we can look for cheaper car parks nearby, good places to eat off the beaten track if we want a pub lunch. Even better for us, a nice picnic spot.
Looking for free fun. They say there’s no such thing as a free lunch and technically they (who are they?) are right but that’s not to say there isn’t a cheaper way of doing something. A day out for us could literally be finding a trail to walk the dog, maybe next to a river where there’s always wildlife to look out for, or we’ll take my in-laws bikes out for an afternoon near their home. There is so much to do in our area I don’t even know the half of it and we live no where near a big city where there can be many more opportunities going.
Do you have any tips to share on how to cut costs on days out? Or any days out you’ve had and would recommend? I would love to hear them.
We have visited Clumber Park many times over the years whether on our own, with family or taking the dog a walk. We have hired bikes and taken a ride through the woods before and strolled around the lake with friends after a bacon cob at the cafe. Mr LB has also even taken part in the Parkrun before. In short there is a lot to do at Clumber Park whether you just roll up or head to an event.
More recently I visited as I was in the area and fancied using my National Trust membership whilst there. One of the reasons why I love it, something I wrote more about here. The weather was horrendous and it continued to rain throughout my visit, luckily I had strong boots and waterproofs at the ready, but even still there was plenty to do. Somewhere I had never been into before was the Discovery Centre. I actually thought it was fairly new area to Clumber Park but was informed it has been there for a few years now. Aimed at children, before they are 11 3/4, there are also interesting things for adults dotted around and everyone could learn something.
After a walk to the lake and back I went up to the church. I decided not to go in thanks to my muddy boots and wet coat but it was lovely to see that the church was open to visitors.
Whilst at Clumber Park I also visited their second hand bookshop. I mentioned a few reasons why I love a secondhand bookshop in an Instagram post recently but ultimately it is a great idea to help reduce and reuse for the environment as well as giving the opportunity to read for less; when I looked, books cost 50p to £2, a bargain in my eyes.
No matter where I am visiting if they have a gift shop I am there. The National Trust shops are some of my favourite. They have a mix of food and drink, household cleaning products right through to gorgeous homewares, games and books. At the minute, dare I say it, Christmas is just beginning. My visit to Clumber Park included seeing lovely crafted decorations, festive food that I could have devoured there and then and some inspiring gift ideas. My family this year are trying something new to us, we are limiting ourselves to £20 per person for our Christmas gifts. This to me means one or two gifts and as my parents are also National Trust members my dad would love something for the garden and I’m thinking of a scarf or jewelry piece for mum. As a little something for the both of them and for when we go round on Christmas Day the food hampers looked very tasty. Or you know, a pack of mince pies just for me!
I already want to go again for a longer, hopefully drier, walk around the lake and thankfully won’t have to wait too long. If you’d like to see more National Trust adventures check out my Hardwick Hall post or my visit to The Workhouse.
Both myself and my husband have been National Trust members for about 5 years now and as the saying goes, “I havent been everywhere but it’s on my list”. National Trust membership to us is no different than that, we would love to visit every destination and will hopefully get the opportunity. One thing about the membership is that you don’t even have to visit everywhere. The National Trust regularly create new events and hold different exhibitions at their locations and houses so you could visit the same grand house and get a different experience each time.
We first started our membership when visiting Hardwick Hall. On the day of our visit we worked out that it was cheaper (we were getting young adult membership) for the two of us to sign up for the year than to have access to both the hall and garden and parking just for that one day. We decided we enjoyed having these days out so much that we wanted to keep the membership going, even as it went to the full adult prices, over the years after.
During the five years we have visited many places more local to us in the East Midlands area. From Clumber Park and The Workhouse in Nottinghamshire to Winster Market House and Kedleston Hall in Derbyshire we have travelled locally. On visits to the Lake District we have also seen Aira Force and Wray Castle and on our next trip I would love to see the Beatrix Potter locations.
The National Trust make the smallest homes and grandest houses accessible to the public including gardens and homes and I love that they maintain these places full of history for visitors. My favourite destinations are the ones with plenty of grounds to walk the pooch and follow it up with coffee and cake. As much as we love stopping at their cafes sometimes we like to have a cheaper days out and take some snacks. There’s nothing like opening a packet of biscuits and pouring warm tea from a flask to make me feel cosy on a long walk.
Apart from the cafes some sites have second hand bookshops, from one of which I picked up a great Disney artwork book for 20p a couple of years ago. I truly believe in recycling books in a way that others can enjoy them when you’re done reading. Alongside the bookshops there are also garden and gift shops. From gorgeous blankets and homewares to great food and drinks they’ve got so much to make great presents or perfect home additions.
For us the National Trust membership gives us unlimited days out where we could have a different adventure everyday for a low price. We’ll keep it for a long time and it’s great knowing that we are helping keep these places going and keep the locations well cared for.
This weeks ‘Where to?’ took me to the National Trust Workhouse in Southwell. I have previously been to the workhouse however not for a couple of years and wondered if they had anything new and to cut a long story short there was so much more to see than our visit before. The sun was shining so the workhouse looked beautiful from the outside on the walk up and the vegetable garden at the front made it look like a fancy manor house. The history of the building told inside couldn’t be further from first perceptions.
The courtyards surrounding the outside and separated into yards for different genders (back in the 19th Century) were filled with chatty groups and visitors at the time I was there yet the information told a different story of those who had come across hardship, poor health or age that previously filled the dull spaces.
During this visit there were so many more rooms open for the public compared to last time. Speaking to a volunteer he explained that in the years he had been there the National Trust were able to open more of the workhouse as time went by. The higher floors were filled with the later years of the workhouse going into the 1960’s and 70’s where it became a temporary home for those who had lost theirs. For me it brought home how history can change drastically but it many ways still be the same; keeping it as a home for those who need it even over 100 years.
Let’s be real now. If you haven’t already guessed I am not a historian. The timeline mostly confuses me and I don’t tend to go researching historical battles and kings of Britain in my spare time (my best friend on the other hand has a history degree, I know right) but visiting National Trust sites I am able to take in information in bite-sized chunks. I saw it here at Southwell workhouse more than other sites where stands of information were visible and included ‘in case you were wondering’ extra notes which I thought were great. A huge bonus to that was the little snippets on the fabrics and seating throughout the building making sure there was information everywhere and no one missed a beat.
There was something for everyone and as explained there was a range of age groups. I wanted to weigh the potatoes on the scales to see how much the tenants ate per day, pump the water in the courtyard and pull apart the rope in the day room.
A recurring theme throughout was poetry and the many poems that were written about the mood, spirit and life in the workhouse. Prints were up in many of the rooms so visitors got an image of what life was like at the time. This was the theme of one of the main events of the day. An actor playing Mr Beecher, the founder of the workhouse, made an appearance reading poetry including that of Lord Byron. This was a great addition to the day and shows understanding of the difference between reading from the history books and making the teaching visual, active and oral and therefore suitable for many more people. As a side note I found it extremely enjoyable that he stayed in character walking around the workhouse and that the National Trust team greeted him as Mr Beecher.
It is the ‘little’ things that the National Trust do on top of opening their doors that I love. The cart of vegetables grown in the workhouse gardens has produce that can be exchanged for a donation and my latest obsession is their household cleaning range, I clearly need one of everything!
I hope you enjoyed reading my insight into the National Trust Southwell Workhouse and let me know if you’re planning a trip somewhere soon.
This experience was gifted in exchange for a blog review. All opinions are my own.
Happy Valentines Day everyone! Whether you are out celebrating with your loved ones or having a chilled evening in, I hope that you enjoy it.
Myself and the hubby will be relaxing tonight but luckily we got to celebrate an early Valentines day with an evening out at Lost City Adventure Golf in Nottingham. Having been invited to try out their golf course and taste their delicious new cocktail menu we were looking forward to a night of fun.
Having been a couple of times before I was excited to try a different 18 hole course as they now have two. You can even combine the two course and play all 36 holes if you’re feeling super competitive, something I will definitely think of doing next time.
We chose the Scared Skull Pass course and started straight away. For a Friday evening it was fairly bus but we were never waiting too long and enjoyed watching the couples before and following us to see how they did too. For a while I was doing very well bt as it tends to do when you say it out loud I lost my winning streak soon after! Bren won the game overall but I was still incredibly happy to say I had a hole in one on the 13th hole.
After totalling our scores and catching a super non casual outfit of the day photo complete with a photo bomb we headed upstairs to the Tiki Bar.
It was slightly busy as it was the start of the weekend but we were served quickly. I chose an espresso twist which cam complete with a chocolate palm tree sprinkling and Bren chose a Tahitian Torch. Needless to say they were enjoyable drinks and I will be trying some more at their 2-4-1 times in the near future.
Have you been to Lost City Adventure Golf? And did you win?