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

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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

A look back at 2017 and to 2018…

I know it’s a terrible cliche, but the end of a year just draws out a reflective side of me and so I thought that I would take a look back over what memories 2017 created.

January

January was a big month for me as I turned thirty. I decided to spend my actual birthday in Hong Kong at Disneyland because why not?

I had a really great day up until the evening when I vomited the most I have in my entire life. It was legit awful. I basically didn’t eat for the rest of our trip which is a shame because Chinese food is my favourite.

When we returned I had a Hawaiian themed party at Moor Park Mansion. It was so, so fun and literally everybody dressed up in Hawaiian shirts, flip flops (two of my buddies were a pair!) and leis absolutely everywhere. It was so colourful and brightened up the dull days that January brings.

My amazing cake was from Bluebell Bakes, which is where I get all of my cakes from. They are delish!

February

In February, we had the best trip to LA with our buddies. We had so, so much fun. We went to Disneyland (again), Knott’s Berry Farm, Malibu, Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Long Beach… oh it was brilliant. We were blessed with good weather which really lifted us from the depths of grey winter back home. Kate and I went whale watching and saw four grey whales!!! It was incredible.

March

March was a bit of a quiet month for us, but we enjoyed walks with Holly and I got a new passport which I was quite excited about!

April

In April we headed over to Amsterdam over the Easter break. We fell in love with the city and had a great time doing all of the touristy things.

When we returned, we had a meal to celebrate Phil’s birthday and I surprised him with another awesome cake from Bluebell Bakes. It was a League of Legends themed cake. He loved it!

May

In May we enjoyed celebrating friends and family birthdays and walks in Marlow. We also had our annual Eurovision bbq party, but I didn’t take any photos!

June

In June, I ordered a really amazing outdoor dining set which I was super excited about and we took Phil’s Dad over to Brussels for Father’s Day weekend. We went on the Eurostar for the first time too. It was great!

July

July was a mammoth month with so much going on. My bestie turned thirty, so we went out to celebrate.

My gorgeous friends Sarah and Matt had an engagement party and I was asked to be Sarah’s bridesmaid!

We had a hen party for my lovely friend Kimberley and then we headed back over to LA for more whale watching (humpbacks this time!), Taking Back Sunday and Disneyland (again).

August

We spent most of August stateside which was incredible. We went to San Diego for the first time and it took my breath away. What a spectacular place!

We also went to Vegas and flew to the Grand Canyon. It was just as beautiful as when we visited on our honeymoon. I saw Britney for the last time (sob) and we saw Ed Sheeran at the Staples Center. It was a great trip.

We also squeezed in a British beach trip with our furball Holly.

September

September gave us the wedding of our two friends Kimberley and Simon. They got married at a gorgeous venue in the Cotswolds and it was such a pretty day.

October

In October we mostly focused on the house and our renovations. We had the whole of upstairs replastered and ordered new stuff. It was all very exciting.

November

In November we visited Waddesdon Manor and Warwick Castle.

Our new fur baby Ivy moved in!

December

In December we celebrated Christmas with friends, got to know Ivy a little more and headed off to Budapest before seeing in the New Year with our buddies.

2018…

This year I’m looking forward to having a pyjama party for my birthday (mostly so I don’t have to bother getting dressed).

We are also heading off to Barcelona, Center Parcs and Miami. I’m looking forward to planning more adventures, finally finishing off renovating the inside of the house and celebrating Phil’s thirtieth birthday. We’ve also got our friends wedding at the end of the year so I can tell that it’s going to be a good one!

What are you looking forward to this year?

L x

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake a review…

Love, Lies and Lemon Cake is a really sweet love story which follows Faye Dobson who decides to move on from her stale marriage and meets super dreamy Australian surfer Dan. Dan reignites a spark in her which encourages her to put herself first and enjoy life.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I found it such an easy read and quickly became invested in the characters. I loved how the story unfolded and the new experiences that Faye was enjoying. I found it really uplifting.

Read it if:

  • You love a good love story
  • You don’t mind a bit of cheese
  • You aren’t looking for anything too lengthy

Best bits:

  • Watching Faye grow
  • Her relationship developing with Dan
  • The general flow of the storyline

Worst bits:

  • Perhaps a little too short?!

Have you read Love, Lies and Lemon Cake?

L x

Beach fun with Holly…

I’m always my happiest when at the beach. It can pretty much be any beach, but there’s something about where the land meets the sea that just resonates with me (I’m the English Moana). I just feel super chilled and I love everything from the sand beneath my feet to the sound of the waves crashing and that salty sea air smell. 

Our little furball Holly also loves a beach day, so we scheduled in a date at the end of the summer to take her for some beach fun. 

Many beaches have restrictions throughout the summer as to whether or not you can take dogs, so we needed to find one that Holly would be welcome at. We found a little one near Southampton, which was certainly not the nicest, but served its purpose none the less.

Holly is a frisbee addict, so we were sure to bring one along for beach fun. Holly absolutely loved it. She had a ball paddling in the sea and digging in the sand. It’s funny because Holly literally only digs at the beach and she isn’t fond of water unless it’s her paddling pool or the hose. She isn’t one to swim in lakes or anything of the sort, but simply adores the sea!

Once we had grown tired of the beach, we drove over to Portsmouth for some food and shopping. Holly was so well behaved throughout and I loved how dog friendly Gunwharf Quays is. 

Soon it was time to head off back to London with sandy fur and shopping bags. We will no doubt be returning next year!

Have you visited Portsmouth?

L x

Seeing Britney and finding a hidden gem…

On our delightful Virgin flight over to Los Angeles, Phil and I landed up watching a little video that they had put together of things to do in Vegas. Of course the usual things were included, shows, hotels etc, but in between all of that up popped the Pinball Hall of Fame

The Pinball Hall of Fame is basically a museum filled with loads of Pinball machines and retro video games. Aka heaven to Phil. I grew up in the nineties and am certainly no stranger to a game of Pinball, so was quite excited to see what they had on offer. Trust me, it DIDN’T disappoint.

From Pacman, The Flintstones and Game of Thrones, this place has it all. You can stay as long as you like and play pretty much any machine. It was so fun, even P Diddy had a go on a couple of machines!

We spent an hour or two there pretty much playing solidly and only spent around 20$. The machines range from 25c upwards, so it’s a thrifty treat for the entire family. It’s located a few minutes’ drive from the strip and has a free car park too. Complete bargain!

After a morning at the museum, we headed over to Hooters for some lunch before having a nose around the shops on the strip. Before we knew it, it was time to see the queen of pop, Miss Britney Spears.

I’ve seen her Piece of Me show in Vegas before and was blown away by her performance. Britters really puts on a show complete with all of her hits and an elaborate set. I knew that we had to go again.

On our way over to Planet Hollywood, I asked Phil’s Dad which concerts he had been to. He replied that he hadn’t. Therefore Britney in Vegas was his first ever concert! This fact I found both highly amusing and completely amazing in equal capacities. I mean shouldn’t Britney be everyone’s first concert?!

We had a great time watching Britney and her dancers killing it although the evening wasn’t without drama as a guy from the audience cartwheeled onto the stage and took out a security guard before being wrestled to the floor and presumably arrested. Poor Britney was terrified and had to be evacuated from the stage, although being the pro that she is, she returned to finish off her set. Go Britney!


Have you seen any shows in Vegas?

L x

That Vegas sign and the Grand Canyon…

We were lucky to be spending a few days in Vegas and I was so excited to show Phil’s Dad all of my favourite places in and around Las Vegas. 

Of course our trip wouldn’t have been complete without a trip to that sign. I mean are you even in Vegas if you haven’t stood in a queue in forty degree heat waiting for your turn to have a photograph taken without a stag do in the background?!

Day or night, there’s always a queue (and often either a topless lady or Elvis impersonator) surrounding that bright sign in the middle of the road, although my top tip would be to go in the morning if you can, I think it definitely gets busier as the day goes on.

Anyway, I’m a fan of the sign and it was definitely a must stop place to take Phil’s Dad. I was pleased that we managed to take him!

Vegas is also famed for its shotgun weddings (think Britney in the early noughties), and there are so many little chapels dotted around the place, they are to some quite tacky, but I personally think they are quite cute and offer an alternative to the traditional weddings that we are accustomed to. In all honesty, I quite fancied getting married in Vegas myself, but Phil wanted all of our family there and it wasn’t an option for them to travel. Never mind!

We had a good old mooch around the strip whilst melting in the oven-like temperatures that fall on Vegas during the summer months. I just love looking at all of the elaborate buildings. It’s such a vibrant place!

Once we had had enough of the colours along the strip, we returned to New York, New York for a dip in the pool and jacuzzi. I remember thinking how funny it was that the jacuzzi felt cool in the dizzy temperatures of around 46. Anyway, we read, danced around in the pool and hung out in the jacuzzi until it was time to dry off and wait for our taxi to catch our helicopter.

I really love riding in helicopters. I just find them so fun and the views are breathtaking. Floating above the Earth is just magical and I would highly recommend travelling by helicopter to the Grand Canyon if you can. 

We’ve been to the Grand Canyon twice now and we’ve used Papillon both times. Sure, it can work out quite pricey, but in my opinion it beats sitting with a coach load of people for a few hours. I’ve seen that there is a company offering ‘doors off’ tours, which I would love to do because I think that sounds super fun.

Anyway, on this occasion we went at sunset and it was such a treat. The temperature was slightly lower which made it much more comfortable than when we visited in the blistering heat. It also made this trip a completely different experience, watching the sun kissing the tips of the Grand Canyon as we sipped on champagne and looked down at the river. 

The GC is such a magnificent place, so untouched with warm browny red tones. It’s really peaceful (even with the helicopters) and I just love reflecting on our gorgeous world there.

Have you visited the Grand Canyon?

L x

Exploring Vegas and the weirdest dining experience ever…

Dress: Asos Sunglasses: Michael Kors Tabitha 

I’ve been to Vegas three times now and each time I’ve fallen deeper in love with this colourful world hidden in the desert. I just love all that it has to offer. I’m not a gambler or even remotely seedy, which is the reputation that precedes Vegas. I love having fun, seeing different things, eating delicious food, shopping and seeing shows. Vegas has all of this in abundance.

I think that it’s that ease of convenience that helps me adore the place so much. Everywhere is open late, you can walk along the strip (I’m a big fan of walking!). Basically the place is your oyster. You can go out pretty much anytime and always find something to do. 

Anyway, on our first full day in Vegas, we took Phil’s Dad Steve (or P Diddy as I like to call him), for a tour of the strip, weaving in and out of various hotels that are devoured in detail. We also went to the Fashion Show Mall which is one of my favourite places to shop in Vegas (they have a Topshop!). 

It was great to feel the warmth on my skin, which is something I’m really missing now that autumn has set in. We took in the sights of the strip before heading Downtown.

I really like going Downtown because I find it a little bit raw. It’s not quite as glitzy and it just oozes retro charm. It’s more humble and less crowded and I just love the neon.

There’s a fair bit to do Downtown too, including zip lining, which I really wanted to do, however, I was inappropriately dressed for it! Next time though…

We ate dinner Downtown at the Heart Attack Grill, which I can only describe as the weirdest place I have ever eaten. I still can’t quite work out whether or not I enjoyed myself.

The hospital theme is really immersive, so we all sat there wearing hospital gowns awaiting our giant burgers and full calorie drinks (the waitress was unimpressed when I ordered a Diet Coke and announced that they don’t do diet there). 

They also have a policy where if you don’t finish your meal you get spanked. Hard. I couldn’t finish my burger and spent at least fifteen minutes freaking out about the spanking, coming up with irrational solutions such as hiding it in Phil’s rucksack or sneaking to the bin myself before realising that as it turns out, spanking isn’t compulsory. Who knew?

We then chilled out for a bit before heading back to New York, New York where we found a bar that had games (Beer Haus) so we spent the rest of the evening drinking and playing games such as Jenga.

Have you eaten at the Heart Attack Grill?

L x

Driving from San Diego to Las Vegas…

So if you’ve been following my West Coast diary series, you will know that we were staying in San Diego for a few days. The next stop on our agenda was Las Vegas and we had decided to make the drive there. 

Sunglasses: Forever 21 two years ago

Dress: Asos

Luckily for me, Phil does all of the driving when we are away, so I just get to sit back, relax and sing along to Taylor Swift. 

The drive took around 4 hours not including the breaks we took at Panda Express and for petrol. 

It was riddled with sumptuous scenery that dreams are made of and whilst at the petrol garage, I read about the snakes, tarantulas and scorpions of the Mojave desert. I was really worried about our little rental car overheating though as the temperature was well into the 40’s!

Once we arrived in Vegas, we checked in to our hotel, New York, New York. The lady at registration was a bit unpleasant but the rooms were clean and comfortable.

We then took Steve out for a walk along the strip and some dinner before watching the beautiful fountains at the Bellagio.


Have you driven from San Diego to Vegas?

L x