Holidays

Exploring The British Isles: Ultimate Staycation Destinations

If you’ve been reading any lifestyle news at all lately, you will know that staycations are on the rise. More and more people are shunning expensive holidays abroad in favour of staying on their home ground. But it’s not simply a ploy to save money on your yearly break. Many of us underestimate the beauty and fun that our own country can provide, on the same level that we appreciate visiting other cultures. After all, sometimes it can be quite rewarding to get back in touch with your own culture again. But what if you fancy doing a ‘semi-staycation’? This is the kind of holiday where you still stay on home turf in terms of the British Isles, but the destination is more than just a couple of hours drive away. Here are our top picks for a staycation that’s far away enough to feel like a holiday – but still easy to get to.

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Glasgow

When most people think of Scotland, they think of Edinburgh. After all, it’s said to be the cultural capital (as well as the actual capital) of the country. Huge events such as the Edinburgh Fringe Festival draw massive crowds year in, year out. But, if you want a more authentic Scottish experience, why not give Glasgow a try? It’s a much more cultural place than people think, full of quirky eateries, great museums and of course, lots of distilleries. The Kelvingrove Gallery is a must-visit and the stunning Loch Lomond is just a short drive away. If you’re based in the South of England, the only problem is getting to Glasgow. But don’t automatically think you need to take the car or train. You can compare cheap flights to find a plane that will take you there from a nearby airport. It’s much easier when you have young children, and potentially cheaper too!

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Dublin

If you’re looking for a lively, vibrant staycation, look no further than the Irish city of Dublin. Easily accessible by either plane or ferry, it’s a great option for a weekend break – but there’s so much to do, you could easily stay for a week! The busy district of Temple Bar is a must see, with many pubs open until the early hours all playing traditional Irish folk music. But, if you are hoping to get a good night’s sleep, it’s best to stay slightly further out of the city centre – there are plenty of rentals available at reasonable prices. If you’re up for a bit of general silliness, take the kids to the National Leprechaun Museum – yes, it really exists! Children are also permitted to the world famous Guinness Storehouse – but they’ll have to make do with a soft drink!

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The Isle of Wight

If you’re looking to get off the mainland for a beach-focused holiday, look no further than the Isle of Wight. The largest British island is situated just off the South coast, a mere two hours away from London. As well as beautiful beaches and generally good weather during the summer season, the Isle of Wight is also known as the ‘Dinosaur Island’ due it’s rich fossil heritage. So, if your children are fascinated by prehistoric history, get them on the famous Dinosaur Trail. There is also an adventure park with gardens and plenty of other outdoor activities, ranging from golf to extreme water sports!

Home

Fall In Love With Your Home Again

Love Your HomeIf you are lucky enough to own your own home, there’s a good chance that there are 101 jobs around the place that you want to do to get it exactly the way you want it. If you’re recently bought a property, you’ve probably inherited with it from the previous owners a decor scheme that you just don’t love, but moving is an expensive business that you can’t always afford right away. Here, I’m giving you 5 tips of small things you can change which can make a huge difference to your home without needing to spend a fortune, taking it from make-do to high-end..

Bathroom Taps

Changing a whole bathroom suite can be a pricey job, but if the actual bones of the bathroom are in good nick then it’s possible to change the look of the whole room just by changing the taps and other fixings. Go for something shiny and modern, like the Hansgrohe hand shower and dress your bathroom with some colourful accessories for a real decorative freshener.

Lighting

Something that I find can change the whole feel and look of a room is lighting. Husband and I have lived in so many rented properties which have white or very light walls which we weren’t allowed to hang pictures on, making it feel very igloo-like at times. Investing in some floor standing lamps, table lamps and warm-tone bulbs can really help to make a room feel cosy without any actual decorative touches.

Rugs

If you hate your flooring, be it carpet, wood or laminate, a great and variable way to switch things up is to add rugs. Rugs can add warmth to a room, make them feel less echoey and can be co-ordinated with your colour scheme to add a lot of personality to a space. Pets will also thnk you if they don’t have to lay on cold, hard flooring!

Kitchen Cupboards

If you can’t afford to have a whole new kitchen fitted, sometimes it’s possible to just change the doors to your cabinets and drawers which can make it look like a whole new kitchen! Opt for something with a classic style that you won’t get sick of in five minutes and you’ll love your kitchen for the forseeable future.

Paint Your Tiles

Tiling can be an arduous and expensive job, even if you decide to do it yourself, but freshening the tile work that you already have in your kitchen and bathroom is far easier. Tile paint is relatively cheap to buy and comes in a whole rage of colour, which will allow you to completely transform your tiled areas for a fraction of the cost.

Do you have any easy home-hacks which have helped you to fall back in love with your home? Do leave me a comment below as I’d love to hear them.

Beauty

Beauty Fads I’m Not On Board With

I’ve been thinking lately that I need to start making a bit more effort with my appearance. My day-to-day look is very low-maintenance, usually because I’m just in and out of the car taking Sausage to school, doing the shopping and all of the other things that the average 30-something Mum of two does on a daily basis. I chuck a bit of make-up on but that’s about it, but lately I’ve been noticing that beauty has gone to a whole new level and suddenly we’re all obsessed with eyebrows and strobing! There are, however, several beauty trends that I WILL NOT get on-board with and I thought I’d share a few of them here:

Waist Training

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When I first saw this, I genuinely thought it was a joke. For those of you not in the know, waist training involves wearing increasingly tight corsets in order to “train” your waist to be smaller, and is championed by the Kardashians, amongst others. The fact is, it’s absolute bollocks and simply doesn’t train anything, but it probably does have a terrible impact on your internal organs and ability to, you know, breathe or efficiently digest food.

Anal Bleaching

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I know, I’m a little shocked even at myself for mentioning anal bleaching, but it’s one of those things which has inexplicably gone from ‘weird, niche thing for porn stars’ to ‘thing that supposedly normal people are doing’. Never in my life have I seen a bumhole that I thought needed a coating of Domestos, but apparently it’s all the rage. Find out more with this anal bleaching guide

Pointy Nails

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Let me say right here, I actually LOVE the look of a pointy manicure (not the scary, mega-long ones though!) and I’m insanely jealous of anyone who rocks this look, but I just cannot cope with long nails, no matter how hard I try. I’ve tried having regular fake nails, not even pointy ones and I find it impossible to type, use my phone, put tights on, wipe my arse and just about anything else that requires me to be tactile, and adding a point on the end would basically render me useless.

Are there any beauty trends that you find absolutely crazy? Or are you a huge fan of pointy nails and whitened bottoms? I’d love to hear your opinion on this so do leave me a comment below.

Anger

Black Friday Madness

I love a bargain as much as the next person. Probably more-so than some as I’ll never buy things without looking for a Voucheroo code first (Dominos pizza, I’m looking at you!) but I have to say, the whole Black Friday thing leaves me cold. I went into town today to pick something up from Waterstones and walked through Debenhams to get there, and it was genuinely the busiest I’ve EVER seen it. I don’t know if it’s because I’m ill at the moment or what, but being in such a busy shop made me feel a bit panicky.

The thing is, I’ve not actually seen a single bargain online OR in shops which represents anything even close to a decent saving. People are going crazy for items that they probably don’t even need at prices which aren’t even that good. It’s just not British!

I did a cursory Google of “Black Friday crimes” and found stories dating back years of shoppers punching each other for the last discounted TV and even several stories of people pulling GUNS on other shoppers to get the best bargains. I found a report that showed that, since 2006 7 people have been killed doing Black Friday shopping and a further 98 have been injured.

According to Wikipedia “During Black Friday 2010, a Madison, Wisconsin woman was arrested outside of a Toys ‘R’ Us store after cutting in line, and threatening to shoot other shoppers who tried to object. A Toys for Tots volunteer in Georgia was stabbed by a shoplifter. An Indianapolis woman was arrested after causing a disturbance by arguing with other Wal-Mart shoppers. She had been asked to leave the store, but refused. A man was arrested at a Florida Wal-Mart on drug and weapons charges after other shoppers waiting in line for the store to open noticed that he was carrying a handgun and reported the matter to police. He was discovered to also be carrying two knives and a pepper spray grenade. A man in Buffalo, New York, was trampled when doors opened at a Target store and unruly shoppers rushed in, in an episode reminiscent of the deadly 2008 Wal-Mart stampede.”

I mean…it’s surely not just me who thinks that’s insane, surely? It’s capitalism at it’s ugliest.

I will admit to not being a hugely covetous person. I was massively frivolous with money when I was younger and it’s taken a long time for me to go the other way and show a bit of frugality, but I don’t really crave the newest cars or clothes which is probably why I don’t feel the desperate need to go out and spend a load of money on one day of the year. Maybe if the bargains were better I’d be a bit more inclined to get involved, but nothing really seems THAT cheap to me.

What do you think? Are you banging down the doors of your local department stores to get a few quid off or are you like me and a little bemused by it all? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Holidays

Awesome Things To Do In Cambodia With Kids

At first glance, Cambodia might not seem like the most obvious holiday destination for families with kids. Once you delve deeper, it becomes apparent that there is a whole host of cool activities for both adults and children. The tourism scene is at an all-time high at the moment, so it’s become a lot safer to travel there. From temples to trains, there are so many opportunities to inspire your child’s (and your own) sense of adventure, here are just a few ideas.

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Temples

Cambodia’s temples, such as world famous Angkor Wat at Siem Reap, are beautiful and mysterious constructions that will awaken a child’s imagination. Visitors are encouraged to be respectful of the monuments but also to get hands on – many temples allow children to climb and scramble, and play hide and seek.

Floating Villages

For those who don’t suffer with seasickness, take a boat tour around a traditional floating village that line all of Cambodia’s waterways. See how native Cambodians lead their lives and experience the sights and smells and the water markets. Children will love to spot the differences in their own way of life with the lives of the natives.

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Dolphin Watching

Cambodia is rich in wildlife, both on land and in the water. It isn’t every day that kids get to see real life dolphins in the wild. A cruise along the River Mekong through the jungles is a sure-fire way to get them excited. Click here for more information on the Meekong River cruise.

Landmine Museum

For older children, a day trip to the Landmine Museum at Siem Reap is an immersive and interesting way to learn about the history of the people of Cambodia and their struggles. It tells the stories of locals who had to clear landmines after the conflict, and the people who cared for the injured. A very educational day out.

Elephant Rides

What child wouldn’t love a ride on the back of an elephant? Once they’ve had a go, they’ll definitely want another. These experiences are available all over the country, and most hotels will be happy to book them for you.

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Bamboo Train

Near Battambang is a disused French railway that people now use as a sort of train system to move personal belongings, and for locals to ferry tourists around. Platforms made out of bamboo are loaded with goods and people, and a small motorbike engine is used to power it along the tracks. It makes for a very exhilarating experience for anyone who is brave enough to give it a go.

Street Markets

The street markets of Cambodia are bustling hubs of the cities. There is so much to entertain here, from skewered fried spiders to crazy fruit and vegetables. The markets at Phnom Penh are particularly famous for the huge range of things to see and eat.

Just remember, it gets really hot in Cambodia, so a hotel with a pool and shade is recommended so that you can retire in the midday sun and cool off.