Happy Halloween!

Every year Phil and I carve pumpkins for Halloween. It all started a few years back when Phil arrived home laden with two pumpkins that he had picked up from Sainsbury’s and now we do it every year. Although I’m not very good at it and Phil always laughs at mine. Who needs to be a good pumpkin carver anyway?!

We usually just grab a couple from the supermarket, although last year I left it too late and we had to make do with some measly left overs from the green grocer. Determined not to be left with sub standard pumpkins this year, we took ourselves down to Peterley Farm for pumpkins and cake.

I absolutely love Peterley Farm because it’s just so lovely. There is the cutest little cafe that feels like you have stepped into a Harry Potter movie when you open the little door. They have a totally delicious menu and I had the tastiest pain au chocolat that I’ve had in a long time washed down with fresh apple juice from the farm.

You can also pick your own fruit in summer and they have an amazing farm shop that pretty much sells everything. I just love how fresh it all is and how organic the experience is.

They also had a barn filled with perfectly imperfect pumpkins that were calling to be carved. They had so, so many to choose from and we loved picking ours out. No sub standard ones for us this year!

The next day we carved our orange delights ready to put outside for Halloween. I know that some people don’t like Halloween and I can understand why. I on the other hand love how fun it can be and find that it helps brighten up the gloomy months.

Do you celebrate Halloween?

L x 

A weekend in Munich…

Over the summer, we were lucky enough to escape to Munich for a long weekend. I hadn’t been before, but the hubby had and said that it was really gorgeous, so I was excited to go. Being the type of person I am, I immediately began researching what we could cram into our weekend, I wanted to see as much of this city as we could in a short space of time.

After a flight cancellation followed by a flight delay (cheers BA!), we arrived in Munich. The sun was shining as we rode the train from the airport to the city. I loved looking out of the window and catching a glimpse of the countryside. There’s something so serene about fields dipped in sunshine. 

Upon our arrival I ditched our bags and headed out for a walk to explore. We were so, so lucky with the weather. It was just one of those perfect summer days. Warm and enchanting. I had a mooch around town, stopping for an ice cream whilst absorbing the sumptuous architecture. I felt really safe walking around and free too. I had a lovely couple of hours.

Later on we went for a walk along the river. It was so alive with people swimming and catching the last of the day’s rays. I had a paddle and the water was lovely, so clean and refreshing. I couldn’t imagine an atmosphere like it in London with the murky Thames!

I was so surprised at just how beautiful the city is. With its architecture, people and atmosphere it’s just such a positive place.

We found a great Mexican restaurant for dinner and had amazing burritos before continuing our stroll around until the sun set.

Munich is quite an active city with cyclists galore, runners and dog walkers. It was great to see so many people out and about.

On our second day we were up and out quite early, eager to explore as much as we could in our weekend in Munich. The streets lining the river have some great street art and I loved just taking it all in. 

Munich made me feel so light and free, it is such a relaxing place. 

We had decided that we were going to visit the zoo which was an hours’ walk from our hotel. I like to walk a lot when we are away so that I don’t miss the little details. I’m so glad that we did because we stumbled across a little market in Mariah Platz. The market sold fresh, local produce, plants and cute gifts. My favourite part was looking at all of the gorgeous flowers in full bloom.

We continued our walk and found an Italian restaurant with Al Fresco dining. Again, the weather was divine, so it was lovely to sit outside stuffing our faces!

Once we arrived at the zoo I was so surprised by how large it was. For a city zoo, I was impressed with the enclosures and also the amount of free space for families. There are lots of play areas and you could literally spend the whole day there. My favourite spot was on the sun loungers by the giraffe enclosure. So much love for lounging in the sun!

Soon enough it was time to start our walk back to our hotel. We were almost there when a thunderstorm started, so we ran into a shopping centre to grab dinner and shelter from the rain.

The following day was our last in Munich and we really wanted to check out a restaurant that we had seen on the first day and explore the English Garden.

The restaurant was Speisen and Getranke, a trendy burger place with an amazing woodland interior. The food was super lush and we loved it.

We then headed over to the English Garden which I think is Munich’s version of Hyde Park.

The park was lovely and filled with people enjoying the weekend. We found some surfers practicing in the river, which I really wasn’t expecting. I loved watching them though, we spent ages there!

Before long it was time for us to head back to rainy old London.

We had such a lovely time in Munich and I feel like it’s the kind of city that I would love to return to. It has everything needed for a weekend getaway.

Have you visited Munich? Where’s your favourite place for a weekend away?
L x 

A day spent exploring West Wycombe…

There’s something about National Trust sites that simply grip me. I’m not sure if it’s the opulent stately homes or the lush grounds, but either way I am always somewhat entranced by a trip exploring a National Trust site. I love how simple, yet complex each visit is from a casual stroll around woodland to a tour of the grandest of homes. I love using our time exploring to switch off from everyday life and escape the harshness of modern times. It’s like taking a step back into a simpler way of life. We always have a jolly good walk around and I love breathing in the fresh air, my toes skimming the grass. We always learn something new and find something different. On this occasion we visited West Wycombe, which has a house as well as grounds to explore. We learnt lots about the Dashwoods and found a giant fungus in a tree, which whilst I am quite aware this doesn’t sound exciting (and perhaps even repulsive), it’s just so lovely to take note of our surroundings, nature and none of us had seen anything like this fungi before. It was as though it had emerged from Wonderland.

I find that each visit to a National Trust site bares similar constitutions to that of a fairytale. Charming, enchanting and full of escapism. That’s why I was so excited to see what West Wycombe had to offer us as new place to explore.

Although the sky was coloured grey, it was still rather pleasant and we had a wonderful walk around the grounds.

The grounds are simply overflowing in natural beauty with the clearest waters. I’ve genuinely only seen waters as clear as these in Iceland and could barely believe that this kind of purity can be found lurking in Buckinghamshire.

The house that sits on the hill at West Wycombe is open to visitors and I would say it is very distinct. It has a lot of Italian influences and has been used for filming on many occasions (including the latest Bridget Jones instalment!) It’s brilliant that you can walk around and absorb the history of past inhabitants and there are loads of information sheets to hand too. 

Overall we had a great day and will definitely be returning!

Have you visited any National Trust sites?

L x 

9 things to do in Munich…

We were lucky enough to escape for a cheeky weekend away in Munich this summer. I hadn’t been before and was pleasantly surprised – it’s a gorgeous city packed with things to do. Here are nine things that you can pack into your trip to Munich.

1. Shopping. Now I’m quite aware that this may seem like a bland thing to do whilst in such a beautiful city, but Germany have amazing treats hidden in their supermarkets from tasty chocolate to strong beers, it’s all there and worth a nose at.

2. Hire a bike. Literally everyone cycles in Munich and with their well planned cycle lanes and just general awareness for cyclists, it’s a great way to get around whilst exploring.

3. Check out the architecture. Munich is home to some of the most gorgeous buildings riddled with history. You only have to walk around to become enveloped in their beauty.

4. Hang out by the river. On a sunny day, an evening by the river is where it’s at. Bring your swimmers if you fancy and soak up the bohemian atmosphere.

5. Check out the local markets. There are a few markets on all over the city on weekends. We visited the market on Mariah Platz that runs every Saturday. You can find local produce from little gifts, fresh fruits and plants. We loved having a little nose around!

6. Eat, eat and eat some more. There are so, so many restaurants dotted around the city covering every type of cuisine. We found lots of independent restaurants that served delicious food from Italy to Mexico!

7. Visit the zoo. Munich is home to a lovely zoo that is actually quite large. It’s really family friendly and they are working on a lot of conservation projects too. 

8. Go to the English Garden. The English Garden is a wonderful park in the heart of Munich. Filled with dog walkers, joggers and surfers, it’s a great way to spend a few hours. We loved watching the surfers at the park (something I never expected to see!).

9. Take a day trip to Neustwanstein Castle. You can easily catch the train from Munich Central and head on over to the iconic castle that’s been used in many films. Sadly we didn’t squeeze it in this time, but I’m all over it the next time we visit!

Have you visited Munich?

L x 

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Unless you have been living on Mars for the past twenty years, you would have heard of both J K Rowling and Harry Potter. You most likely have also heard of the highly anticipated play that brings us the next instalment of Harry’s life and lit up the West End at the start of the summer.

I first started reading the Potter books whilst I was at secondary school. Only the first couple of books had been released and I was immediately hooked. The way in which J K Rowling told the story of this young boy who had been orphaned and was actually a wizard completely mesmerised me. Coupled with the release of the movies, my brother and I were transformed into Potter fans. Ever since then I’ve followed the release of both books and movies as well as treading the sets at the studio tour in Leavesden and hurling myself around The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I just love it. That’s why I was so super excited when Harry Potter and the Cursed Child landed on our doormat in the summer. 

This latest offering follows Harry’s family , nineteen years later. At first you are reacquainted with the characters and you begin to learn about how their relationships have developed. The new characters (predominantly Albus and Scorpius), are brought to life, although soon enough old habits return and we are thrown back into a world of Hogwarts and dark magic. Not to mention that painful scar.

I was terribly sceptical as the story is presented as the script for the play, completely unconventional to the other novels. I wasn’t sure if I would become quite so consumed with stage directions thrown in and it being predominantly dialogue. I was worried that the charm would be lost.

Anyway, within the first couple of pages I was immediately hooked and simply could not put it down. The storyline is fabulous and I love that they’ve chosen to go down the route of playing with time. It feels wonderfully majestic and although it is mostly dialogue between actors, I was still able to conjure up each scene visibly in my mind. I did feel that a few scenes felt rushed though and some expansion could have been created, although it’s important to remember that this is a play form of the story and that it needs to be told differently.

It made me feel nostalgic and I love that Harry has grown (just like us!). I feel like there’s room for expansion, the great story of the Potter’s could easily continue, so I doubt that this will be our last instalment.

Read it if:

  • You are a fan of the Harry Potter series (who isn’t?!)
  • You like a bit of magic
  • You love going to the theatre

Best bits:

  • The storyline itself is brilliant
  • Our favourite characters returning
  • The depth of characters

Worst bits:

  • Feels a bit rushed in places
  • Sometimes a little too far fetched

Have you read The Cursed Child?

What did you think?

L x 

What I wore in Venice, a mini outfit diary…

Last week I wrote about our time spent in Venice over the summer and this week I thought I would put together a mini outfit diary. 

We were so, so lucky with the weather for our trip. Sumptuous sunshine everyday except the morning of our departure. The days were lovely and warm, with high temperatures carrying on into the evening. I knew that I needed comfortable and cool outfits that were perfect for exploring this city on water.

This black daisy print maxi is from Jack Wills. I adore their style and especially love their dresses. This one was perfect for popping out to dinner in the evening. I teamed it with some sandals from Accessorize and a black pair of Ray Ban Clubmasters.

 Hubby is wearing a cap from Target which we picked up in San Francisco last year, Ray Ban sunnies, Topman tee, shorts are last year from River Island and a pair of Toms.

I picked up this cute white top from American Eagle Outfitters whilst in Florida over Easter. It’s such a great buy because it can be dressed up or down, worn with jeans or as seen here, black tailored shorts. This outfit was perfect for a day exploring the islands. I teamed it with some sunnies that I bought at a Forever 21 store in Vegas last year and some black tailored shorts from TU at Sainsbury’s.

I’m such an adorner of flip flops during the summer months and this sneaky Accessorize airport buy was perfect for our trip.

Hubby is wearing a grey tee from All Saints and the rest is the same as above.

No trip to Venice is complete without a gondola ride and on this occasion I chose to wear this lovely gingham dress from Jack Wills. I love the quality of their products and the fact that most of their dresses have pockets (hurrah for convenience!). Teamed with a pair of Ray Ban wayfarers, this was the perfect outfit for exploring the main island.

Hubby is wearing a top from AllSaints and a pair of navy tailored shorts (although I can’t remember where they are from, but I want to say Primark?!). 

I’m so sad that summer has come to an end although I love autumnal cosy knits and I’m a bit of a coat collector, so it’s not all bad. Hopefully we will escape for some winter sun and I’ll be back in my dresses and flip flops!

Do you have any summer wardrobe favourites that you’ll miss over the winter months?

L x 

Valley Mill wax melts and soap review…

I was so excited when the lovely folks over at Valley Mill sent me some of their products to review. Anyone who knows me knows how much I adore scented candles and wax melts, not to mention gorgeous smelling bath products, so the treats that they sent me were right up my street.

Valley Mill are a company based in Wales who specialise in natural, handmade products. They have an extensive range of items from Welsh slate to candles as well as many great gift ideas!

I loved perusing all of the different wax melts on their site. They have so many to choose from including both fruity and floral scents. They all sound absolutely divine. Being such a huge fan of all things sweet, I was rather pleased to receive the Chocolate Truffle melts. They are made from natural soy wax and are hand poured into cute little cog moulds. The burn time is around sixty minutes per melt, which I think is a good length of time for a wax melt as little tea lights don’t burn for very long anyway. The packaging is in line with the natural theme and feels very modern. They come in a sweet box of five, which would make an ideal gift. I have been using them during the cooler evenings that we have been having recently and have found that they tick all of the boxes. The only thing that left me a little disappointed is that the aroma created isn’t very strong. I love a scent to fill the room, but unfortunately this didn’t happen with these melts. It may have just been that the chocolate scented melts aren’t as strong as the other scents, but I’m not sure. They are priced at £6.25 for a box of five, which I think is in line with other brands. 

I was also sent a Grapefruit and Fennel natural soap which smelt lovely. It lavered up a treat and felt great on my skin. Made with sweet almond oil and shea butter, it’s brilliant to know that I’m using natural products rather than harsh, processed chemicals too. They have quite a few soaps and bath salts, which all sound delightful. The soap costs £4, which I think is very reasonable given the size and quality of the product.

I really enjoyed using these products and I think that Valley Mill have a lot to offer too. I love the concept of the brand and that their products are all local and hand produced. We are swept up in a life of mass production, so it’s nice to have hand made creations too. Things that have natural ingredients and are made using thought and creativity. We actually need a new number sign for our house and I’m contemplating ordering a slate one from their site because they look great!

What do you think of natural products? 

Do you have a favourite shop for wax melts?

L x 

*Disclaimer – I was sent the wax melts and soap in exchange for an honest review.

12 Things you must do in Venice…

As we flew above the sea, descending into a new world, I couldn’t tear myself away from the plastic oval window that I was sat beside. I looked down at the tiny islands surrounded by water and tried to distinguish which one was which. Was I looking at the famous glass island or the one with the coloured houses?  I had heard many great tales of this little spot in Italy. Stories of magnificent beauty, magic and untold amounts of gondolas guided by men singing ‘just one Cornetto’. I couldn’t wait to explore.

You see, Venice had been on the ‘list’ for a while and as a huge fan of everything Italian, I knew I needed to go. That’s why I was super thrilled when our lovely friends Kim and Simon (or Kimon as I like to call them), suggested a trip, I had my passport in my hand before you could say ‘gelato’. 

We had chosen to travel in the summer, which was something that I had been warned against. Told that it was smelly and crowded. I had heard about such an odour from so many people that I genuinely wasn’t sure whether or not I needed to pack a peg for my nose. I was absolutely delighted when upon our arrival I discovered that it really isn’t that smelly and no more crowded than London, so I tossed my carefree nose in the air and began to enjoy the beauty that is Venice. 

The sun was shining and the water glistened as it danced underneath, surrounding us on our little island. There were no roads, no traffic lights, just bridge upon bridge over little canals weaving through the land. Boats were an accessory to the water, like a new pair of boots on a rainy day. Enjoyable, yet completely convenient. I have always had a charming love affair with both the sea and travelling by boat. I love how free I feel bobbing along, taking in my surroundings. Needless to say, I fell completely in love with Venice. The people, the food, the beautiful architecture, the boat rides, the beach and mostly, the fact that in all of the places that we have visited, the sights we have seen, Venice is remarkably unique. 
We had such a tremendous time exploring what Venice has to offer. I find that when I am visiting somewhere new, I need to experience it. Fully. I need to walk the streets the locals walk, I need to see all of the famous landmarks. I need to eat the local cuisine. I need to absorb so much that I can barely move. 

In case you haven’t guessed, I loved our time in Venice and I now present to you twelve things you must do in Venice.

1. Take in the architecture.

Have a meander around the cobbled streets that are swallowed by buildings, creating tiny walkways, but don’t forget to look up for there are so many gorgeous buildings oozing Italian history. Forget your Millenium Dome, these buildings have been here for centuries and they are pretty gorgeous! 

2. Visit Murano – the glass island.

Murano is a great little island to explore, especially if you want to get away from the rush on the main island. It’s a little quieter, but just as beautiful with gorgeous buildings and cute little glass shops.

3. Go on a Gondola ride.

Whilst they are a little on the pricey side (80 € per boat for around half an hour), I simply couldn’t imagine having visited Venice without going on a gondola. The idea just feels criminal. You can find slightly cheaper rides just off of the main canal, and to be honest the best part of our ride was meandering down the narrow paths, away from the big boats on the main canal, so if you are looking to save a bit of cash it’s a good way to go. We all loved our ride on the gondola. Just don’t expect them to be singing ‘just one Cornetto’. I was terribly disappointed.

4. Stuff your face with the most scrumptious authentic Italian cuisine.

Eat, eat and then eat some more. There are so many cute little restaurants lining the streets of Venice, each one offering wonderful traditional dishes. I am a big fan of Italian food and loved shovelling pasta in my face. They are all pretty reasonably priced too, and there are a few pizzerias where you can grab a slice of pizza for a Euro or two.

5. Visit a glass making factory on Murano.

There are a few factories on the island of Murano and many of them offer free tours where you can watch the glass being made. Definitely worth a nosey!

6. Visit the Lido island.

The Lido island feels a bit more familiar with its roads and larger shops. It’s still very beautiful and worth a stroll around.

7. Have a day at the beach.

The beach on the Lido island is so lovely with golden sand and warm waters. There are also little restaurants nearby and beach shops, so it’s so easy to spend the whole day there. They also have volleyball and boat hire facilities if you are feeling fun!

8. Hire a bicycle

Why not explore the islands by bicycle? There are a few places dotted around, especially on the Lido island. With virtually no cars, cycling is a great way to get around. 

9. Head over to Burano

Burano is a stunning island riddled with brightly coloured houses. It’s so unique and there are lots of restaurants and shops around to spend a few hours.

10. Eat copious amounts of gelato.

When in Italy it is of paramount importance that the consumption of gelato takes place on multiple occasions throughout the day. There are so, so many different flavours to try and each gelataria has their own speciality flavour. Try them all!

11. Grab a Venetian mask 

Venice is reknowned for its unique masks and there are so many shops on the main island selling traditional Venetian masks. We loved looking at all of the crazy designs and seeing how they are made. 

12. Watch the story of Venice

Something that I wish we had done was watch the story of Venice performed on stage. There is a show that runs most nights on the main island, but unfortunately I only heard about it on our last day, so we were unable to go. It’s performed in English and sounds really good, so give it a go if you can!

So there you have it, my guide of things to do in Venice.

Have you visited Venice before?

L x 

Lulubellelife’s Second Blogversary!

This month marks the second anniversary of starting Lulubellelife. I can’t believe it’s been two whole years since this little blog started. So much has happened in those two years from our wedding, moving house and quite a bit of travelling. I love that I’ve been able to document those milestones and I’m so pleased with where Lulubellelife is at. It’s around this time of year that I feel quite reflective, after summer the end of year count down to Christmas begins and I like to get reorganised for the coming months. With this in mind, I am working on a new look for the blog, a refresh to keep it, well, fresh. I am also changing my posting schedule to Monday’s and Friday’s. Monday will focus more on lifestyle posts, whilst Friday will fuel your wanderlust and be all about travel. I think that this will create a nice balance and I’m really looking forward to the future of Lulubellelife.
Thanks for being part of the journey! 

L x