City Breaks

London hen party fun

When most people think of hen parties, they tend to think of ladies getting a little messy on a wild weekend away. However, some people prefer to keep things classier and more sophisticated. Whether you’re a bridesmaid accommodating a bride with more refined tastes or you’re the bride-to-be taking control, London is one of the best places for a hen party that’s a little bit better in just about every way.

London Hen Party

Bridesmaid duties…

We don’t choose bridesmaids just because they’re some of the people closest in the world to us. They’re supposed to help us and in organising the hen party they can be of a lot of help. London’s a big city and it can get confusing, so make sure bridesmaids are each playing a role in coordination with each other. One can be in charge of finding accommodation closest to the things the bride wants to do, for instance, while another organises the use of the city’s extensive public transport system, making it easier by buying Oyster cards.

Let’s go shopping…

Beyond an entertainment and nightlife mecca, London is one of the fashion capitals of the UK. Everyone getting themselves a little extra to take home with them is going to ensure that they’re getting more than they might have expected from the trip. You don’t have to urge anyone to spend, of course. You can make it a little easier if you’re taking some of the London shopping tours that stop by some of the smaller boutiques or even thrift shops instead of just the high-street famous brands. In London, so long as you’re in the right area, you’ll be able to find good additions for just about any price.

Just the girls

The nightlife is not something to be underestimated in the city, either. There’s a whole range of classy, sophisticated bars and lively clubs to be found. If you want to make it truly special, however, skip mingling with the locals. Think about more exclusive nightlife options like getting on the Cuckoo club guest list in advance. You don’t want your time together spoiled by people hitting on the bridesmaids or losing some of the party in amongst the crowd. Instead, treat yourself to a little pampering and special treatment from the staff. The high-end clubs can make you feel like a star, even if it is for a night.

Day time fun

The city is best experienced for more than just a night. If you can organise it, make sure you have plenty of time to explore it in the day, as well. Not just for the shopping but the sheer amount of entertainment, often free, that’s available on the streets. If you want to keep the high-flying air of sophistication up, for instance, stopping by the Globe Theatre or having a day at the May Fair Spa is always recommended.

London gives you the chance to experience a hen party like nowhere else in the UK. Whether it’s enjoying the pleasures of an exclusive club with just your favourite ladies for company or exploring the wealth of daytime activities the city has to offer.

 

Wonderlust Meets World: How To Make Your Travel Dreams A Reality

We all have dreams. Some of us wanted to be ice skaters when we grew up, others wanted to travel. Although you can often grow out of the ice skating stage, when you have a dream of seeing the world, it never really leaves you.

How to Make Your Travel Dreams a RealityWhen you want to be able to travel and head to all of the destinations around the world that have filled your dreams for years, you can often get to the point where you want to make it a reality. Wanderlust can do that to you! So, if that’s the stage you’re at now, here are a few tips on how to make those travel dreams your soon-to-be reality.

Making A List

The first step towards chasing your dreams is to get out a pen and paper (or an online document) and get your plans written down. By writing everything down, you’re more likely to take action. It also helps to make a list of your bucket list holiday ideas to know where you want to go. Whether you want to head to Bondi Beach or see Cape Town, it’s important to get everything out of your head and into a list to work out what to do next.

Be Realistic With Your Situation

Now that you’ve made a little more sense of your thoughts, you then need to work out your current situation. Because making your travel dreams a reality, will depend on what you can actually do. You need to work out what time off you can have and when, how you prefer to travel and what it is that you’re looking to get out of the trip. By doing this, you’ll be able to work out what plans you can make first.

Deciding On A Budget

With a better understanding of what you can make possible, you then need to decide on a budget. Because it’s often the budget that will then determine what plans you can put in place. Making a travel budget is often tough. Again, you have to be realistic, but you can make it as large or as little as you like. Just be sure to plan for travel, accommodation, food, and any activities that you may want to do.

Making A First Firm Booking

When you get to this point, the only step left to do is to make your first firm booking. You have to be able to take the plunge and put those plans in place. Once you’ve researched and decided on what you want to do, get your travel and accommodation in place and give yourself a huge pat on the back because those plans are becoming a reality.

Preparing The Rest

Then, you’re going to want to make sure you get the rest of the little things in line too. There are lots of things to do when you travel internationally, but if you have time, you can tick these off slowly. From getting your currency to arranging your luggage, you’ll probably find that these are the exciting final touches that help you to get yourself ready to realise your dreams.

 

Feast On London – OXO Tower Brasserie Review

During April some of the top restaurants in London take part in ‘Feast On London’, a month long city wide celebration of London’s culinary heritage.

As we were heading to London for the weekend we thought it would be a nice treat to eat in a fine dinning restaurant.

There were so many to choose from on Bookatable that it was very difficult to pick somewhere. We were however only booking a few days before our trip, so a lot of the restaurants had already been booked up. We were on a tight time frame because I had an event to attend in the evening. So, we decided on booking a 15.30 table, plus I wanted great views across London. I love the London skyline, it’s a fabulous view to gaze at. Each time we visit something new has appeared.

The OXO Tower Brasserie

The OXO Tower Brasserie seemed like the perfect choice, it was located fairly near to the London Duck Tour, which we were booked on to at 13.30. The menu looked great and at £33 per head for 3 courses plus a cocktail, it would be silly not to book. A great price for dinning in London. Plus not forgetting those beautiful views across the city.

We arrived to a warm welcome up on the the 8th floor of the OXO Tower, by a friendly receptionist who stored our coats and arranged for us to be seated.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

Our table was just one row away from the window, which still gave us great viewing opportunity. After we had made our orders for drinks, a white wine for me and a beer for my Hubby, the table next to the window became available. Our kind waiter asked if we would like to move across, perfect! Right next to those beautiful views. During the summer months I can imagine the roof terrace to be full of people having cocktails and delicious foods. On our visit however it wasn’t overly warm and quite cloudy, so no-one was outside.

Feast On London Menu

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

Our attention soon turned to the menu. I opted for the Cod cheeks, followed by the Roast Chicken and then the Chocolate hazelnut cake. My Hubby went for the Rabbit Ragu, Roast Chicken and the Treacle Tart. We also ordered the roasted new potatoes and sprouting broccoli sides.

The Cocktail

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The cocktail that came with the menu was Bombay Sapphire and Hibiscus. It came served in a tall glass with ice, lemon and Hibiscus petals floating in it. We both thought it was a tasty cocktail, not too sweet, with floral flavours that finished with a warmth of gin. We both would happily have had 2 or 3 of these.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The Starters

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

We didn’t seem to be waiting for too long when our starters arrived. What with us chatting away about our day so far and plans for the rest of the trip along with looking at that stunning view of London.

OXO Tower Brasserie ReviewMy starter of, beer-battered cod cheeks, bitter leaf salad, lemon and seaweed aioli. It looked amazing and smelt amazing on arrival I couldn’t wait to try it. The cod cheeks fell apart and melted in the mouth, all the little flavours together was just fabulous. The little lemon oil along side the seaweed aioli worked perfectly on the dish.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The Hubby had slow-braised rabbit ragu, pearl barley and truffle pecorino. I’m not keen on game, so it is my Hubby’s choice of food whenever we dine out. He loved it, saying it was full of rich tomato, gamey flavour. The rabbit just fell apart. It seemed to be a winner for him.

The Main Courses

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

We both opted for the roasted chicken, slow-cooked bacon collar,truffle onion purée and spring greens. Adding sides of roasted new potatoes and sprouting broccoli. It was truly delicious. That salty bacon flavour against the truffle and onion purée just cut through the flavours. The roasted chicken was soft and tender still full of moisture, the knife just glided through. Even though we added a couple of extra sides to the meal, we really wouldn’t have needed to as there was more than enough.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

The Dessert

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

I went for the chocolate hazelnut cake with condensed milk ice cream. I was honestly disappointed with my dessert. It wasn’t what I was expecting, I was expecting a chocolate cake however it was not. I felt the cake was a little dry and the hazelnut crumb was burnt. It had that bitter burnt taste across the dish, which honestly wasn’t brilliant. The ice-cream was creamy and smooth, however I couldn’t tell it was condensed milk. So, I was disappointed with my dessert and I wish I had opted for something else.

OXO Tower Brasserie Review

My Hubby opted for the treacle tart, rhubarb and clotted cream, he loved it. The rhubarb was well cooked, with just the right amount of acidity to cut through the sweetness of the treacle tart. Amazing along side the clotted cream.

Overall Review

We both really enjoyed our meal at the OXO Tower Brasserie, there was a relaxed atmosphere with friendly staff that were happy to help you out. There is an open kitchen so you can see the food being prepared, over seen by head chef Keir Barry. Who designed the British style menu. Even though I was not overly impressed with my dessert it would not put me off visiting again on our next tip to London.

 

Mummy in a Tutu

 

My Top 5 UK City Breaks

top 5 uk city breaks

The Hubby and I love a UK city break. More often than not, its a family trip. However on the odd occasion, when we have a couple of child free nights, its great to get away. When we look for a couple of nights away we like to choose different cities. The UK has many stunning places to visit. The UK has some of the most culture rich cities in the world, each steeped in history.

We have chosen our top 5 UK cities to visit, York, Edinburgh, Bath, Cardiff and of course, our capital city, London.

York

top 5 uk city breaks

York is my most favourite place to visit. Having stayed on many occasion both with and without children. Each visit we find a new corner of this amazing city we haven’t yet explored or a new favourite thing to do. This city is packed with history, visiting the Jorvik centre is a great way to learn about Yorks Viking history. It’s not just somewhere for children but great for adults as well. We have visited alone and with the children.

Walking though the shambles, seeing all the old shop fronts, popping in and out of the little shops. Just watch out for the cobbles. There are also lots of lovely antiques shops to wonder around. York Minister is a beautiful thing just to look at, even if you don’t go inside. However if you do, make sure you ‘climb the central tower’ it takes you up on to the roof walk, so gives you the best views of the city.

York is packed full of places to visit, restaurants, bars, unique shops. Not forgetting the famous afternoon teas at Bettys.

York is well worth a visit.

Edinburgh

top 5 uk city breaks

Edinburgh is a beautiful old city, full of cobbled streets and little alleys full of stylish boutiques. One thing I just love about Edinburgh is it’s city centre. It’s quite small so you can easily walk everywhere. Not having to jump on a tube or bus to see something new. Edinburgh has recently been named the UK’s Greenest City. You’re never far from rolling hills and lush inner city parks.

If you want to make the most of your trip to Edinburgh why not book a personal city guide, they will help you explore the city and fill you in on its rich history. Just make sure you visit Edinburgh castle, it dominates the city sky line and gives you some of the best views of the city.

No trip to Scotland is complete without Whisky (not Whiskey!), luckily there are lots of Whisky bars to choose from while you are there. Plus there are lots of different hotels and accommodation options to pick.

Bath

top 5 uk city breaks

Bath is another of the UK’s most beautiful cities. In fact it is the only entire city to have been awarded the accolade of World Heritage Site. Bath is the only place in the UK you can bathe in naturally hot spa water and home to the Roman Baths. People have been visiting Bath for over a thousand years just to experience the naturally warm, mineral rich waters.

The City of Bath is famous for its Cresent’s, housing the most in the UK. The Royal Cresent is beautiful to visit, showing off the largest collection of Georgian architecture in the UK.

If you are wanting a relaxing trip to Bath, you should visit the Thermae Bath Spa in the city centre. Relax in the thermal waters and enjoy the roof top swimming pool, that gives you great views of the city. Something that I would love to do, but haven’t been able to just yet… one day.

There are many other fabulous places to visit, including Bath Abbey, or take a walk around the city on the National Trust Sky Walk Trail.

Of course, shopping is brilliant in Bath, with local boutiques and high street stores set within Georgian buildings. There are plenty of restaurants, bars and hotels so Bath has something for everyone. Having written this post I cant wait to start planning our next trip to Bath.

Cardiff

top 5 uk city breaks

 

Cardiff is the capital city of Wales. Home to many historic houses, Dr Who, the Millennium Stadium and the newly developed Bay area. The National Opera house is meant to be an amazing place to visit, so it is on the list for our next trip to Cardiff.  Cardiff Bay is the largest water front development in Europe, which has transformed the dockland into an attraction all on its own.

Full of great restaurants and little bars, there is something for everyone in Cardiff. There are also plenty of hotels and B & B’s to cover all price ranges. The National Museum and Art Gallery is free to enter and has a stunning room of rocks and minerals, just amazing. There is also the Royal Mint experience, great for families too.

Cardiff is full of history. There are lots of Ghost walks all around the city, allowing you to have some fun but also learn about the history along the way. If you are planning a city break, Cardiff should be at the top of your list.

London

top 5 uk city breaks

London is our capital city, the hub of British history, fashion, business and tourism. Not forgetting our Royal Family. London is busy, but amazing. I have loved every trip we have made to London. Being a day trip on the train or a couple of nights staying in a cute boutique hotel in Covent Garden.

One thing we haven’t done is a open bus tour, which is the plan for our next visit. They take you around to all of the major sights: Buckingham Palace, The Mall, Big Ben, West Minster Abbey, The Houses of Parliament, London Bridge… the list is endless. It’s a great way of taking in the sights. But that isn’t all London has to offer, with the London Eye, Madame Tussauds and The London Dungeons there is so much to do in London with or without children.

Shopping is just brilliant in London. If you can’t find something in London, it’s unlikely you will find it on any other high street. Designer shops, boutiques, vintage shops and high street stores can all be found on the streets of London. Not forgetting the vibrant, multicultural markets.

Food is at the heart of life in London, with some of the most renowned restaurants in the country. So finding a great place to eat isn’t a problem, just make sure you book a table. There are clubs and bars are all over the city so night life in London is always exciting. Don’t forget to book in for afternoon tea in one of the many hotels in London, I love afternoon tea anyway but afternoon tea in London just seems more special.

London is a wonderful place to visit, it’s something that people either love to do or hate. I love it and would highly recommend that everyone goes at least once to see our capital city.

So there are my top picks for UK city breaks, York, Bath, Edinburgh, Cardiff and London.

What’s your favourite city in the UK to visit?