Welcome to Miami…

I have wanted to travel to Miami since Will Smith blasted onto the scenes in the 90’s with his aptly named track. The connotations of sun, sea, sand, warmth and fun called my name and I knew that one day I had to go. When booking our annual air miles trip for this year, I was originally looking to fly to Orlando for theme park fun (I’ve been desperate to go again since Volcano Bay opened at Universal). There wasn’t any availability for Orlando on the dates that we needed, but there was availability for Miami – result!

Flash forward a few months and I’ve found myself back in the sunshine state. We’ve got a few things planned whilst we are here but I’m mostly looking forward to enjoying some time soaking up the sunshine. It’s been so terribly grey over winter and I had forgotten what temperatures above ten degrees felt like. It’s dreamy.

Anyway, I can’t wait to explore and share!

Have you travelled to Miami?

L x


Meet Ivy…

In November last year we decided that it was about time we added a new addition to our family in the form of a little furball. Our other fur baby Holly, turned eleven years old in October and as her face greys, I start to worry more and more about the prospect of life without her. I simply cannot bear the thought of life without her four little paws pattering around on the hard wood floor. I would absolutely hate to come home and not have her greeting me at the door with her little tail wagging. So I began to think more about bringing home a play mate for Holly, a fur baby for us to ease the pain of Holly getting older. It’s selfish, but I know that we have a lot of love to give and a home with lots of space for them both.

We originally looked at rescue centres but I was disappointed when a lot of them either didn’t respond at all or replied saying that we couldn’t have a young dog because we have an older dog. I thought that this was ridiculous and it actually made me quite cross. I know Holly really well, she likes other dogs and I’m confident in our skills as dog owners that we would be able to handle the new situation. Dogs are social creatures and if well socialised, are able to adapt easily to living with a new furry companion in a pack. I was especially upset because there are so many dogs needing new homes and to brush us off without meeting Holly meant that a young dog that could have had a chance in a home with us wasn’t allowed to. It seemed so silly. It was this notion that made us look at puppies.

Originally I wanted a Miniature Dachshund, but we have two flights of stairs and Dachshunds are at a higher risk of developing back issues if they are allowed to jump on furniture or trundle up and down stairs. Holly has run of the house, so it would have been unfair to restrict the new addition. So we decided to stick with a breed that we are very familiar with and that works with our lifestyle – another Jack Russell.

I saw an advert online for a female Jack Russell with brown fur. To cut a long story short, little Ivy was living in terrible conditions. Kept outside in freezing temperatures with her parents. She had fleas, worms and was covered in poop (lovely!). We took her to the vets, cleaned her up and welcomed her into our family. Holly was overjoyed at first but then spent a whole day of ignoring her and doing whatever she could to stay away from Ivy. After that day, Holly warmed to her and they began to form a nice bond. They groomed each other and snuggled up together. My heart swelled.

We chose the name Ivy because it was approaching the festive season when she moved in and it worked really well with the name Holly. I wasn’t sure for the first couple of days if it suited her because she was such a dainty thing (weighed exactly 1kg) and Ivy felt like a harsh name. After a couple of days it felt right and Ivy stuck.

The first few days were really hard. Ivy hadn’t lived in a house before and was in all honesty, a bit feral. She hadn’t been trained to toilet on a mat or anything, found even the smallest bit of fluff on the floor, hated being alone and cried through the night. Whilst we had puppy fever and loved her instantly, the disturbed nights were not fun. At the start of December our heating broke and we were worried about her being cold in the night. We invited her into our bed and she slept beautifully and so did we. Whilst sharing a bed with a dog isn’t to everyone’s taste, we honestly don’t mind and having a full night’s sleep is a massive bonus (although she still needs the loo around 6am).

Ivy also despises being left alone and has done from the start. She gets all cross and upset. It breaks my heart when I leave her but we have to. I’m not sure why she is so funny about it, we’ve tried lots of things. I think ultimately she’s just going to be one of those that doesn’t tolerate being left. We have to plan things carefully so she’s only ever left for a couple of hours although we believe that she settles ten minutes after we leave. I think it’ll get better when she’s a bit older. Either way, we’ll get there in the end.

After having Ivy for a couple of months now, we are quite convinced that she isn’t a pure bred Jack Russell and that she might be a chihuahua mix. Strangers on the street, vets and dog trainers have all commented on how much she resembles a chihuahua. We really don’t mind if she is a chihuahua mix – we love her anyway, but we are thinking to DNA test her just to know for sure.

In terms of personality, Ivy is very sweet. She’s loving, playful and just adorable. I love playing hide and seek with her. Her whole body wags with excitement and it’s just the cutest thing. In a non-creepy way, I love watching her sleep. She stretches her little neck out and looks so peaceful. Sometimes she still suckles in her sleep. It’s adorable and something that Holly never did. We are very lucky because she hasn’t really destroyed anything round the house although she is rather partial to a bit of light sock theft. When Ivy gets too tired she has a ‘grumpy face’. Lines form on her tiny forehead along with little bags under her eyes.

Ivy also demonstrates a variety of noises depending on her mood. She still makes ‘puppy’ noises when she is looking for Holly or can’t get up on a bed/sofa/somewhere she shouldn’t be. Ivy also bleets like a lamb when we come home, it’s an unusual noise that I’ve not heard a dog make before. She also has different noises for playing and is quite an emotionally vocal dog. Although never incessantly or without reason.

Another aspect of her personality is how brash she is. If Ivy doesn’t like something, she really doesn’t like it and there isn’t really a middle ground. The two things that she hates are bath time and being left. It’s almost like a military operation to bath her as she tries to wriggle out of the tub. I think this may stem from her previous owners but can’t be sure.

Something that I was very keen on was socialisation. We didn’t socialise Holly and although she likes other dogs, she won’t play with them. I wanted to make sure that Ivy is confident around other members of her species so we started taking her to puppy hour at a local garden centre (I like to call it puppy club). It’s run by Pets Corner, is completely free and great for socialisation. At first Ivy was terrified and wouldn’t move from the comfort of her blanket. We persevered and slowly her confidence has grown. Ivy will happily play with any dog big or small (until she gets tired!). It’s been really lovely talking to other owners and I basically get to hang out with puppies for an hour – who wouldn’t want to do that?! I’ll be so sad when Ivy outgrows puppy club, but I think we have a few more weeks left.

We also enrolled her at Puppy School to help with socialisation and training. Ivy is getting there, but still needs practice of some commands. Her recall is amazing though and I’m confident when letting her off leash.

We are very much in love with our new buddy and I’m just soaking up this bouncy puppy stage whilst I can. I can’t wait see more of her personality develop. At almost 5 months, Ivy is weighing in at 2.4kg. I’m not sure how big she will grow, but I believe she’s on track to be around 4kg, so quite small. I’ll post another update in a few weeks.

Have you got any pets?

L x

A weekend at Center Parcs…

Last weekend, we were lucky enough to head over to Center Parcs with friends to celebrate four of our birthdays. I had never been to Center Parcs before, but had heard lots of good things so was very excited to go.

We don’t go away in the U.K. very often because we have already seen a fair bit of it (living here and all), and I just prefer to travel further afield for a holiday so that we can soak up different cultures.

Anyway, the convenience of holidaying in the U.K. was quite refreshing as I didn’t have to worry about luggage restrictions and could take as many liquids as I desired. Quite the novelty!

We opted for the Center Parcs located in Woburn because it’s just an hour out of London – perfect for an after work weekend getaway.

I had some preconceptions prior to arriving at Center Parcs, I knew that it would be an activity based break, but I didn’t realise how much of a little bubble you live in and that it really is an entire mini town located in the woods. You are encouraged to leave your car in the car park for the weekend, with the option of walking between areas or cycling. I quite liked this idea because I’m a fan of walking anyway and it just made the area really peaceful.

We arrived just after 8:30pm and our lovely friends had ordered Chinese take out to be delivered shortly after our arrival which was such a good idea. I like that you can order food to be delivered to your Lodge (they also deliver G&T’s which I thought was amazing) and it just adds to the convenience that Center Parcs offers.

Our Lodge was super nice and well planned out. We had a three bedroom lodge with maid service and a sauna. The sauna was especially lovely after running around in the snow for hours (more on that later). Each room had an en suite and the whole Lodge was contemporary and clean. Just how I like it!

On our first day, we went swimming over at the subtropical paradise area. It’s super fun with a few water slides, rides, a lazy river and a wave pool. I thought that it was great although it lacked a real swimming pool and a jacuzzi. It would have been nice to have somewhere to just sit and chill in the water and personally I think a jacuzzi would be a welcome addition. We still had lots of fun there before heading over to Starbucks for a quick lunch followed by badminton. Badminton was indoors on a nice and clean court. It was really fun although I’m not very good at racquet sports. Or any sports really if we are being honest!

There are over 200 activities to do at Center Parcs which is absolutely bonkers. Everything from riding a Segway to abseiling, they’ve got it covered. I do think that the activities can work out a bit pricey though and they’ve got you over a barrel once you are there. Anyway, after badminton, we hung out at the sports bar before my friend and I disappeared to the spa whilst the boys played more badminton and went aqua jetting.

The spa was amazing! We had a massage before heading into the spa itself. The massage was great and such a treat. We could spend all evening in the spa although I honestly thought that we would be bored after an hour or so. I was very wrong! We were in the spa from 5pm until 9pm, soaking up the saunas, steam rooms and all of the other delights. They had so many themed zones that were really well put together and the place was nice and clean. Although, once again, lacking a jacuzzi!

They do have a beautiful infinity pool although it was absolutely freezing and I decided it wasn’t worth the dip in temperature. My friend had a little swim in it though. We had a perfect girly evening chatting away and embracing the spa. I think it’s a must visit if you go to Center Parcs.

On Sunday, we again went over to the subtropical paradise where an incident took place on the powerful rapids. We were trying to form a human train, although when I reached back to grab Phil, the current forced a poor innocent woman into my path which resulted in an accidental boob grab. She was chill about it, I was mortified!

It had also been snowing, but we had already booked laser combat. I’m not very good at preparing for outdoorsy stuff unless it’s a warm summers’ day at the beach and I had to partake in the laser activity which was set amongst the woodland in heeled boots. It was freezing but super fun and I didn’t even fall over – result! I was actually surprised at how well thought out the laser combat activity was and would really recommend it.

After feeling the effects of the low temperatures, we retreated to our lodge for Indian take out and a warm up in our private sauna. It was a relaxing evening after a busy weekend.

I must say that I feel like I may have the CP bug and can’t wait to book another cheeky weekend away there.

Have you been to Center Parcs before?

L x

Barcelona Part Four – Relaxing by the Marina…

On our fourth and final day in Barcelona, I was only interested in doing two things. Firstly, soaking up the sunshine before I’m smothered in grey cloud back home, and secondly, eating good food.

There was one place that I had grown to really love whilst in Barcelona and that was the marina. I could sit there for hours watching the ripples in the water and the boats floating along. There is also a little stall (or a few stalls if you walk along), where you can buy crepes and waffles. I opted for a chocolate crepe with whipped cream and did not regret it.

We also walked along Las Ramblas and ate more Japanese food (such a sucker for Asian food!) and it was the perfect end to a perfect trip.

Have you travelled to Barcelona?

L x

Barcelona Part Three – Park Guell and the Gothic Quarter…

On the our third day in beautiful Barcelona, we decided to walk from our hotel near Eixample to Park Guell. We Google mapped our route and discovered that it would take around an hour which was fine because we both quite like walking. What Google maps failed to mention was that the final leg of our walk to Park Guell was up a steep hill. I was melting by the time we reached the top (although towards Park Guell they provide you with the option of using an escalator which was like a drop of gold falling from heaven!).

Anyway, the uphill walk was worth it for those dreamy views. We could see all of the way to the sea which was rather lovely. Park Guell is super nice to walk around too, we loved it.

Once we had finished mooching around we decided to walk back towards our hotel (much more fun going downhill). We stopped for cake, a drink and a well deserved rest for a bit before heading over to the Gothic Quarter to enjoy the wonderful architecture.

There are so many cute little shops and restaurants lining the Gothic Quarter, so it’s easy to get swept up in an afternoon there.

We then headed over to see the Marina lit up at night, which was really nice and we had dinner at a Japanese restaurant in the shopping centre. I’m such a sucker for Asian food!

Have you visited Park Guell?

L x

Barcelona part two, La Sagrada Familia and beach fun…

We were so lucky with the weather during our time in Barcelona. Travelling in Europe during January is always a risk in terms of weather but we lucked out and had sunshine with blue skies everyday during our time in Barcelona. Having good weather meant that we could make the most of being outside and were able to walk everywhere without resembling a soggy raccoon upon reaching our destination.

With the sunshine smothering us, we decided to walk to the beach from our hotel near Eixample. I’m at my happiest at the beach and I just feel so grounded and chilled out whenever I’m near the sea.

We meandered down to the marina which was such a lovely surprise. I didn’t realise that the marina would be so lovely, laced with palm trees and pretty views. There is also a shopping centre which is open 365 days a year and is home to a variety of shops and some great restaurants too.

I wasn’t expecting a particularly special beach in Barcelona. I’d been told that it wasn’t that great, so I was thrilled when we arrived at the beach and were greeted with golden sand and clear blue sea. In all honesty, the beach was much more desirable than many of the beaches here in the U.K., so I’m so glad that we weren’t put off and still popped along for some salty air and a stroll along the sea front.

I love gazing out at the ocean and seeing absolutely nothing connected to human life. Just the waves meeting the Earth, the ocean filled with life and the sky above. It makes me feel so chilled out and grounded. Exactly what you need on a birthday!

After we had embraced beach life, we decided to head on over to a cafe for coffee and cake. Unfortunately my Spanish is not so great and we actually found ourselves in a gluten free cafe where I had the weirdest crepe I’ve ever seen. It looked like a prawn cracker and had a spongy consistency. Anyway, I’ve decided I need to work on my Spanish before our next trip!

Following on from our gluten free cafe experience, we walked over to La Sagrada Familia because have you even been to Barcelona if you haven’t gawped at Gaudi’s masterpiece in the flesh?!

What a beauty! Such sumptuous architecture bathed In Mediterranean sunshine. Phil said that it was the most beautiful building he has ever seen and I am inclined to agree (although Italy has some real treasures).

We then walked back over to Eixample where we stumbled upon a traditional Spanish restaurant and had a glass of Sangria with our seafood paella. Not going to lie, the paella was a bit too fishy for my liking, but I was instantly hooked on the Sangria. It was divine!

Have you visited La Sagrada Familia?

L x

A birthday in Barcelona part 1…

I’m a big fan of a birthday holiday and this year for the big day itself, we decided to hop over to Barcelona for a few days. We had never been before and it seemed like a good place to get away from the grey days of London.

I can honestly say that we were pleasantly surprised the from the moment we arrived, we were overwhelmed with friendly people, gorgeous architecture and sunshine. What more could a girl want?

We drank Sangria (I’m now a HUGE fan), ate nice food and shopped all whilst taking in the beautiful city.

We were staying in between Las Ramblas and Eixample. I think it’s a great location for exploring and we had so much convenience on our doorstep.

Have you traveled to Barcelona?

L x

Celebrating my birthday…

I absolutely adore a fun evening with my closest buddies and so for my birthday this year, I decided to invite a few people over for a pyjama party at our house. I also loved having a shower and throwing on pyjamas before people arrived, it was a no-fuss evening!

We’ve had a few bbq’s with around 20 or so people and we have an annual Eurovision shindig, but this was the first time that we’d had a few people hanging out and it was super fun!

The boys played Super Smash Bros and We all played a few ‘party’ games including beer pong. I added a few shots of vodka too, which I’m not sure I’d recommend!

I had an amazing Oreo flavoured cactus cake made by Bluebell Bakes. I always get our special occasions from Bluebell Bakes because they not only look incredible, but they taste divine all whilst helping out a small business. I feel really strongly about supporting small businesses and also about having a special occasion cake made fresh. You just can’t beat it!

We had a really fun evening and it was great to see my closest buddies. They are all wonderful.

How do you celebrate your birthday?

L x

Budapest Day 3: Buda Castle, Gellért Spa and Pinball…

We had a super jam packed Wednesday in Budapest following on from the Christmas break. The shops were finally open, the sun was shining and there was Life all over the city.

We started our day by having breakfast at Matthias Church. I’m such a sucker for Starbucks Pain Au Chocolats (or chocolate croissants as they like to call them Stateside!), so we decided to pop over to a Starbucks with a view for breakfast.

Unfortunately we had to walk up ten million stairs and Starbucks didn’t have any pains, so I had to settle for cake instead (certainly liveable!), but the views were incredible and it was such a treat to witness such a beautiful city smothered in golden sunshine.

It really was a glorious morning. I would highly recommend heading over to Matthias Church and walking along to Buda Castle. It was really lovely.

Budapest has so much history and culture sunken into its veins and each building has a story or a sight that it’s seen. Buda castle is no exception. There’s so much history there and it’s gorgeous too, so definitely worth a visit!

Following our visit to the castle, we made our way over to Gellért Spa. Gellért Spa resides in the most beautiful building and although it was smaller than Széchenyi, it was grander and felt cleaner. We had a relaxing afternoon there.

We then decided to walk to the Pinball museum. It took us over an hour as we stopped to breath in the sumptuous architecture that Budapest displays in abundance and although we were in need of a rest after our mammoth walking day (we had walked everywhere that day), I’m glad that we did because you simply miss out on the small things of you are whizzing by in a taxi.

We had lots of fun at the Pinball Museum, it was great to play on all of the different machines and they sell drinks there too, which is nice.

Soon it was time for us to stuff our faces, so we headed over to the Budapest BBQ for dinner and drinks. The food was great! We had a lovely evening.

I thoroughly enjoyed Budapest and I feel as though it’s a city that offers so much. I think we will definitely visit again one day.

Have you visited Budapest?

L x

Budapest Day Two: Christmas Markets

On our second full day in Budapest, we had planned to mooch around the Christmas markets and perhaps do a spot of sale shopping, however, turns out shopping isn’t a thing in Budapest on Boxing Day- who knew?!

Luckily the Christmas markets were in full swing and were absolutely gorgeous. So cute and festive. I loved looking around at all of the handmade delights on offer.

We also stopped for cake and just enjoyed existing in such a pretty city.

It was much colder on Boxing Day, and a little cloudy but that didn’t stop us walking along the river and around the town. Even on a grey day Budapest is beautiful.

How did you spend Boxing Day?

L x