Different holiday destinations

When looking for somewhere to go on your summer holiday, often the most difficult part is deciding on a destination. If you’re looking for somewhere a bit on the unusual side, then look no further than the choices below. They all offer beautiful beaches and gorgeous sunshine, with the option of sight-seeing if you’re not one for laying by the pool all day.

Morocco

Morocco’s introduction to the mainstream holiday market in the late Nineties added a new genre to the library of world travel. Suddenly, holidays were scented with spice rather than sun cream, and the soundtrack of waves was remixed with calls to prayer. Today, more than eight million tourists come to the country every year in search of a beach break with a twist. Most people choose Agadir as their base, and for good reason. The stretch of coast here unravels for six miles and basks in 300 days of sunshine a year. The city itself eases you in to Moroccan culture gently by offering up European-style cafes and smart hotels alongside its bustling souks and Moroccan restaurants. Agadir is also close to the shape-shifting sands of the Saharan desert. And, the dramatic High Atlas Mountain range is about four hours’ drive away. Head a little further north from the mountains, meanwhile, and you’ll reach Marrakech. The highlight of this chaotic city is the market place in Jemaa el-Fna square. Even if you don’t have an eye to buy it’s still worth a visit. You’re likely to see bejewelled belly dancers and snake charmers cajoling cobras from wicker baskets.

Croatia

Croatia turned up on the UK’s tourism timeline fashionably late. In fact, it was only in the last years of the Nineties that the country started to find its feet in the mainstream market. Nowadays, though, more than 10 million people holiday here every year. A large part of Croatia’s appeal comes from its coastline. The seaside here stretches out for 1,778 kilometres and 1,185 islands float off the shores. In places like Porec, Rovinj and the Makarska Riviera, the white sand and soft pebble beaches are backed by waves of pine groves and lined with cosy cafés and restaurants. The sunbathing scene is just the start of Croatia’s story. The country is an up and coming diving destination. The shallow waters of the Istrian Riviera and Dalmatian Coast are ideal for beginners, while the deeper waters in the south offer more experienced divers the chance to explore coral reefs, caves and shipwrecks.Then there are the historical sites to consider. You could run yourself ragged in Split and Dubrovnik alone. Croatia is also great walking territory. The vineyards, pine forests and national parks here beg for the tread of walking boots.

Cape Verde

Floating 500 kilometres off the coast of Senegal, the Atlantic isles of Cape Verde have been dubbed the African Caribbean. They’re still fairly new to the travel circuit, but with their out-of-this-world beaches and lively surf, they’re quickly making a name for themselves. Cape Verde’s most popular island is cosmopolitan Sal, which is known for its striking, lunar-like landscape. It’s dotted with colourful, cobbled towns, like Santa Maria on the southern shores, where you’ll find surf shops, traditional restaurants and a pretty square lined with al fresco cafés. The main attraction, though, is the beach, which stretches along the coast for 8 kilometres. You’ll find plenty more in the way of beaches over on Boa Vista, which translates as ‘beautiful view’. The sands here halo the coastline for 55 kilometres and easily rival those you’d find in the Caribbean. Praia Chave deserves a special mention, thanks to its snow-white swathes and shape-shifting dunes. Whichever island you opt for, expect a melting pot of cultures. The Portuguese originally discovered Cape Verde, so there’s a mixture of African, Brazilian and Portuguese influences. You’ll see it in the island’s music, fashion and – perhaps most clearly – the food.

Sardinia

If you’ve never been to Sardinia before, you might expect the island to be a condensed carbon copy of the Italian mainland. But you’d be wrong. The differences start with the language. Sardinian or Sardo is as commonly spoken as Italian here. Sardinia’s architectural offerings are different to the rest of Italy, too. This is because the island was once the natural pit stop for empires journeying through the Mediterranean Sea. The Phoenicians, Vandals and Byzantines all left their mark on the place. But the influence that’s most obvious is the Spanish one. Alghero was colonised by the Spanish Catalans for hundreds of years. The town’s street signs are still written in Catalan and the design of the cathedral shouts about its Catalan roots. Another thing that really sets Sardinia apart from the boot is its beaches. The island’s north coast alone is scalloped with 80 coves. The fishing village of Isola Rossa lays claim to one of the most seductive stretches of sand. The water here is gin-clear, too, which makes it a great place to snorkel. What Sardinia does have in common with its Italian neighbours is its passion for food and wine. The island’s cookbook-worthy dishes include roast suckling pig and myrtle-stuffed wild boar.

All photos and information from Thomson.

Weddings: To Video or Not to Video

Wedding Video

Screencaps from Foster Filming.

I’ve been researching so many aspects of weddings for so many months now, that it’s easy to see where all the costs add up and where it’s sensible to save when possible. That’s why I designed our save-the-dates and got them printed cheaply on VistaPrint, why we don’t plan on having floral centerpieces and why I plan on DIY-ing a whole lot of decorations. It’s these little things that can save a ton of money. Our photographer, however, is not cheap and it can be unnerving to think about the amount we’re spending on just that one aspect of our big day. But this was something I was never going to budge on, I am more than willing to put that money forward knowing that we are going to have the most gorgeous images of our special day that will last us a lifetime. There is no price for the way that a good photographer can capture the emotion and happiness of the occasion and I know we’ll be overjoyed when we have those images in front of us. That’s why I was so excited when we booked Albert Palmer. We’ll have a chance to meet up with him this summer when we have our engagement photos taken, and then the big day will be here and he will be there to capture it all.

We were less sure when it came to whether or not to hire a videographer, as although I would have booked one as part of our first wedding tasks, my boy was a little less sold. It is a decent amount of money to part with and we will already have photographs of our day, so why would we need any more? But I have long been a fan of those little music-accompanied 6 minute highlight clips, which can magically bring out all the emotion and love that completely fills the best kinds of wedding days. And how many times do you hear couples talk about how everything went by in a blur? I would love to be able to look back at an hour long video, picking out my favourite bits or noticing things I’d missed the first time around. And more and more, I’m reading couples saying that this is the one thing they were happiest to have spent the cash on, as it was worth every penny. So, we’ve decided to go for it, find the best possible videographer and book them up for next June! The company we’ve gone for is Foster Filming, who is a the one-man show of Ben Foster, based in Cornwall. I am completely in love with what he does, and can’t wait to see the kind of footage he captures on our day. I can’t encourage you enough to go take a look at what he does here, I’ve spent many hours already watching and re-watching the highlight films on his website.

Recipe: Rock Cakes

Rock Cakes

I made these at the request of my boy, who has told me for a little while that he likes these cakey treats, so I thought I’d give them a go.

Ingredients

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 75g caster sugar, plus 1 tablespoon extra
  • 90g cold butter, chopped
  • 160g sultanas
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 125ml milk
  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees celcius. Grease oven trays.
  2. Sift flour, cinnamon and sugar into a medium sized bowl; rub in butter, Stir in sultanas, egg and milk. Don’t overmix.
  3. Drop rounded tablespoons of mixture about 5cm apart onto trays; sprinkle with extra sugar. Bake for about 15 minutes; cool cakes on trays.

Rock Cakes 2

Rock Cakes 3

Rock Cakes 4

Rock Cakes 5

Rock Cakes 6

Photo Credit: Lucy

 

Fresh Florals

Fresh Flowers

I don’t spend a lot on florals – they seem like an extravagence when you’re saving for something important (like a wedding), but I think I might start budgeting some money each month to get a fresh bunch every couple of weeks, just to brighten the place up a little. I’ve also been looking into the best ways to arrange flowers, so that they look their prettiest, and I’m pretty excited to keep experimenting with different kinds of flowers and different kinds of arrangements. This was my first attempt with a small bouquet from a local supermarket, but I thought it ended up pretty great using so few florals, so I look forward to moving on with what I do. I even bought a cheap book on flower arranging, just to do a little more research. I’ll keep posting my progress as I go on.

Fresh Flowers 2

Fresh Flowers 3

Fresh Flowers 4

Fresh Flowers 5

Photo Credit: Lucy

Neutral tones: Homeware

It hopefully shouldn’t be long until me and my boy move into our first home together and we’re just at the stage when we’re starting to look at buying items to furnish it. We’re not planning on decorating as soon as we move in as we like the decor as it is, so to fit in with the current colour scheme, we’re looking at homeware in shades of cream and brown. To some people this combination may seem a little dull, but it’s surprising how many gorgeous pieces you can find in what may be deemed a quite boring tone. By keeping the majority of the decor neutral, it should be easier for us to add little pops of colour here and there, without having to spend out lots to redecorate a whole room.

001. 12 Piece Love Dinner Set; 002. Morphy Richards Traditional Kettle – Barley; 003. Ivory Crackle Pebble Lamp; 004. Suzie Jacquard Bedset; 005. George Home Sweet Home Doorstop; 006. Vintage Style Wood Effect Multi Aperture Frame With Mirrors; 007. Living White Washed Wooden Heart Wall Clock; 008. Sainsbury’s Natural Swallow Cushion; 009. Home Sweet Home Foil Canvas Print

 

Oh Joy! for The Land of Nod

I don’t have kids and won’t be having them for a few years yet, but I often think about what a kid’s room might look like in our home. It seems that people go a couple different ways when it comes to decorating for a little one – either they go super chic and make a room that’s pretty neutral and can be changed up to a more adult friendly type space; or they go really playful and hit it with a ton of colour and pattern to make a visually stimulating room that’s fun to be in. If I’m honest, I think I’d go with the second option, as I feel like a kid’s rooms should be bright and fun and full of life. I was overwhelmed when I saw the gorgeous range that Joy Cho of Oh Joy created with Target, so I wasn’t at all surprised when I also fell in love with each and every piece she has created for The Land of Nod. The colours and patterns are just adorable and would come together to make such a great space for a little. Here are a few of my favourites.

Oh Joy! for The Land of Nod

1. Ice Cream Pillow / 2. Sundae Best Bedding / 3. Pinwheel Rug / 4. Grey Stripe Plush Pachyderm / 5. Dotted Glow Table Shade & Half Karat Lamp Base / 6. Abstract Wall Art / 7. Pattern Party Bedding / 8. I Love Lamp.