7 Absolutely Awesome City Destinations in The UK

The United Kingdom is a beautiful and stunning travel destination, and there are so many incredible places to visit. Here are my top 7 spots for when you are planning your next UK trip.

Will your favourite destination make the top 7?

1. London

Maybe a bit predictable that the capital city makes the list, but it earns its place. Vibrant, dynamic and inclusive London has something for everyone. Jam-packed with history and culture and always something (generally something different and quirky) going on. With its free museums and galleries, unique markets and great food and drink there are endless ways to explore the city.

Recommended area to see: Southbank


2. Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital city always gets the vote for one of the best places to visit in the UK, and after spending two weeks there previously, I understand why everyone loves it so much. An outrageously pretty city, steeped in history from the Castle down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament and Holyrood Palace and, in contrast to its seriousness, a festival atmosphere, especially over the summer, its a city of energy.

Recommended area to see: Edinburgh Castle


3. Brighton

A fabulous seaside town (alright it isn’t quite a city) with a buzzing nightlife in contrast to the daytime peace and tranquillity. The ambient daytime sounds of the sea, chatter and laughter of visitors, and the cackling of cheeky seagulls. By night, the town lights up, almost literally as an unofficial LGBTQ+ capital of the UK. Bright, colourful and creative Brighton is a great place to visit all year round.

Recommended area to see: Brighton Pier


4. Belfast

For some, the Northern Ireland capital may seem like an obvious choice; however, Belfast is only just growing as a travel destination because of its turbulent history of violence especially during the 90s. What has been a dark past, now becomes a learning experience, with tours and walks around the murals and street art that shaped the city. The locals are open and honest about their history and greet visitors warmly (as they didn’t have tourists for many years). Nearby is the Giant’s Causeway and Game of Thrones filming locations to explore the greater city and with over 80 hotels due to be built over the next 5 or so years, Belfast is open for visitors.

Recommended area to see: Titanic Museum


5. Glasgow

To some, Glasgow might be a wildcard choice. Stereotypically much darker and rougher than Edinburgh, Glasgow has had a bit of a bad press begin in the shadow of its capital city, but personally, I see an edgy, rebellious and spirited city.

The motto of the town is that ‘People Make Glasgow’ and this is very true. With stories about how the Glasgow Council purposefully change the street name of where the South African Embassy address during Apartheid to ‘Nelson Mandela Square’ (so every letter from the embassy during Mandela’s imprisonment would have his name on it via the address) shows not only their strong beliefs but also their cracking sense of humour.

Recommended area to visit: Clydeside


6. Liverpool

Home of the Beatles (and a whole music movement) and a former European City of Culture, Liverpool has such an energy that makes it a great destination. The city is also home to the oldest Black African community in the UK and the oldest Chinese community in Europe. With its dockyards that were the home of White Star Line (the company behind the Titanic) and its football teams being some of the oldest and most distinguished in the country, Liverpool is a fiercely proud city (with every right to be!).

Recommended area to visit: Cultural Quarter


7. Oxford

Maybe its because I lived in a University town (or that I am a massive Harry Potter fan!) but Oxford is a little gem of a destination. One of the oldest Universities in the world, a city of spires from the University buildings dot the skyline. Christchurch University Hall is the filming location for the Great Hall in the Harry Potter films, and you do feel like you have left the Muggle world behind. Only an hour from London it makes a great day trip.

Recommended area to visit: Radcliffe Camera


What cities make your list? Leave your comments below 🙂

London Design Biennale

A vibrant, ambitious and innovative exhibition by over 40 different countries, regions and territories are currently located in Somerset House, London. With the theme of Emotional States linking all these different pieces together, each has its perspective on emotion.

Here are a few of my favourite pieces:

Australia – Full Spectrum

A rainbow coloured spectrum, with flexible and changing lights, it is said to represent the emotion of love. After Australia legalised same-sex marriage, the designer Flynn Talbot was inspired by the inclusivity of love and the openness of Australia with this piece. Integrating the colours of the LGBTQ+ flag, and the movement of the spectrum shows the progression and hope in Australia.

Brazil – Desmatamento

One of the most known things that Brazil is famous for is the Rainforest, and designer David Ella’s piece is highlighting the vulnerability of this part of the world, tapping into the emotions of fear, loss and hope. By creating empathy for the plight of the rainforest, Ella is hoping to galvanise change and protection, both nationally and internationally. By submerging the viewer into the rainforest, from the sounds, humidity and colours you forgot that you are in Somerset House.

Germany – Pure Gold

Described as upcycling and it’s emotional touch, a selection of German designers have taken plastic waste which is so damaging to the ecosystem and transforming them into household goods, from chairs to carpets. Showing that upcycled products can be high quality and integrated into our daily life, the emotions of joy and surprise that these pieces can look so beautiful.

Greece – ΑΝΥΠΑΚΟΗ (Disobedience)

One of the external exhibits, situated in the main courtyard, is Greece’s interpretation of temperament and disobedience. A long white kinetic cage, that responses to external and internal influences as you walk through it. Immersive and unexpected, a flexible floor changes the shape and sound, be careful as I almost fell out at the end!

Guatemala – Palopò

Guatemala is highly reliant on its tourism; however, issues are going on throughout the country, so designer Diego Olivero put together a highly ambitious idea of using ancient textile patterns to decorate and paint the town of Pintando Santa Catarina Palopò. Creativity a unique townscape, the emotion of hope and connectivity to promote tourism to the area once again

Latvia – Matter to Matter

The town of Riga in Latvia has its unique climate. Surrounded by forest and on the Baltic Sea, Riga can be incredibly humid, so designer Arthur Analts created a giant green screen (for nature) which then changes gas to liquid with condensation. Interactive you can draw or leave a message on the screen before it disappears. The emotion of interacting with nature, feel like a kid but at least not getting told off for drawing on the shower screen!

Check it out before it ends on Sunday!

Triple Review: Instagram tour of London with a social media expert

I came across Triple.Co while browsing the internet on a typical morning commute (you know what it is like, Alice falling down the rabbit hole!). They offer a number of local run tours in numerous cities across Europe. They appealed to me as I love anything where locals can teach me about my own city and being a guide may be something I consider in the future. It’s sometimes hard to find something to do in your own town and end up doing the same things over and over, so I was looking for inspiration!


Heading over to the London section of the website to browse the various events available and was pleasantly surprised by how many and varied that they were. I settled on an Instagram tour of London with a social media expert. Instagram is such a massive part of Jeffers Adventures, and any help I can get would be invaluable. Having a bit of structure to work with is really what I needed. I also wanted to see pretty parts of London from a social media perspective.


Booking online was super easy. I messaged the host to arrange a date and time and passed on my phone number to chat via WhatsApp about the meeting. This was perfect as I am really rubbish at replying to emails and also helped that we could see the photos of each other as well for the meeting. We arranged to meet at Covent Garden on a Sunday morning.


Not going to lie but I was really nervous waiting to meet Katie. Basically, a stranger that I had only spoken to a handful of times, I was a pretty apprehensive that she might be a bit overwhelming. It wasn’t at all, Katie is bubbly and outgoing and full of infectious energy. Straight away I knew that we would just click!

Neal’s Yard

We walked down to Neal’s Yard, one of the most Instagram-able places in London, and discussed how best to take Instagram images on an iPhone and the best angles, focusing on putting me in the picture. I am really quite self-conscious and much happier being behind the camera rather than in front of it. Katie was very patient and gave me lots of positive encouragement to make me feel more comfortable in myself.

What is Your USP?

With that Icebreaker out the way, we then went to have a coffee (or in my case tea) and to have a short chat on what I wanted to achieve with Jeffers Adventures. As I cover quite a broad niche of London & travel with a spattering of photography and mental health, Katie spoke to me about being consistent in my Instagram posting and what is my unique selling point.


What makes me unique? Having low self-esteem and self-confidence means that this question comes typically with a torrent of negative chatter. I said this to Katie, and she was stunned. She said I bring real positive energy. This made me think of something my colleague said to me just the day before:

‘Bright colours and positive vibes’

The energy and colour I carry is my USP.


With that decided we headed back to London focusing on colours as my Instagram content. Feeling more determined and balanced, we walked around back down to Covent Garden, looking for the subject matter of colour with Katie, my own personal David Bailey. I didn’t feel self-conscious or uncomfortable or even silly at any point. It all just felt right. Like walking past a pop-up Carousel with a live Pom Pom making workshop or into a vintage shop, everything just clicked.

Final thoughts

Following from this tour, I felt so much more confident in my content and thought that I was able to really see my direction and USP. I cannot recommend this tour, Katie and Triple enough for the insight and giving me not just some great content, but reigniting the spark of my focus and passion.



Destination Weddings – Madeira

One of the incredible wedding destinations that you can choose from for a destination wedding is the gorgeous country of Madeira.

A small island part of Portugal, north of the Canary Islands is where you can find the tranquil Madeira. A protected UNESCO site, famous for its wine and nature and a perfect wedding destination. Sunny skies, azure blue seas, and pretty pink flowers litter the island and you will be spoilt for choice of destination.

Whether its a boho outdoor wedding or beachy vibes, it is well worth checking it out! For more information and details about the destination of Madeira, please check out the webpage https://sayyestomadeira.com/en/

Your On-The-Go Self-Care Kit

Everyone, even those without mental health conditions, needs to look after themselves, especially when they are on the road travelling. It is easy to forget to put yourself first and get caught up in the adventure, so this is why I have put together my on-the-go self-care kit for things I always take travelling.

Journal (an assortment of coloured pens)

In the technological world that we now live in (she says writing this on an iPad) the joy of actually taking a pen to paper and jotting down your thoughts or doodling or colouring can be a really nice action to do with your hands to refocus. I always have coloured pens as well as I am so visual, and I always associate bright colours with positive vibes! Whether you then tear up the note or keep track of your moods or feelings, can be useful. Doesn’t have to be a big notebook, I always carry a small one around with me (and have one next to my bed as well!)

Some form of mascot – a stuffed animal/security blanket

I always carry a scarf with me whenever I travel, and even having scarfs in my desk at work and in my car (and husband’s car). Something that is cosy and familiar to be able to physically wrap me in can be really soothing. When I am tired or stressed intend to want warmth, that feeling of cosiness and a scarf can really help with that. Whatever your security is, don’t be ashamed of it.

Headphones – noise cancelling is preferred

I am quite acutely aware of certain sounds and quite sensitive to the noise around me (great when you live in London!) so I always carry two sets of headphones with me wherever I go. I have a wireless set which are great in-ear ones and gives me the freedom to move, and also a pair of plug-in ones in case the wireless ones run out of battery. That way whenever I know that noise will be too much, generally commuting, or when I just feel a bit overwhelmed I can just pop them in and retreat into my own little world.

Essential oils – such as lavender

I struggle with sleeping even in my own bed but I have recently started using a lavender room spray to help with relaxing me before I sleep, which is quite actually pretty useful. I have other essential oils that I take with me when I travel to help calm and soothe the senses. This isn’t for everyone, but ’scent memory’ (that nostalgia you get from a certain scent) can be quite soothing and calming. Whether it’s an oil, body lotion or perfume.

Harry Potter (or your favourite book)

When I was growing up, I read (and re-read) the whole Harry Potter series. They were an escape and comfort when I was homesick and be curled up in a duvet taco in bed. The magic was so real to me, that whenever I feel a bit low, I will always pick them up. Now I have them on my kindle I can carry them with me wherever I go, just in case.


Aw man, the number of times I have been on the train in tears, for no bloody reason and never had tissues to sort myself out. Now I always carry them. I have even given other people in tears on the train as well.

Fluffy socks

I always have cold feet. Physically as well as sometimes mentally and emotionally! So I always have a pair of fluffy socks in my bag. For the office (usually, Harry Potter inspired!) and just keep my toes toasty. If my feet are cold I am generally cold all over, and it does feel like a bit of a luxury


As above, I am really sensitive to noise including when I am asleep, so I have earplugs with me to pop in for some peace and quiet. I don’t suffer from any ear issues when flying, so just have foam earplugs but there is quite an extensive range available.

Eye mask

Previously I have worked really early mornings and have blackout blinds and curtains to keep the sun out during the summer months, so when I travel I take a decent dark eye mask with me to make sure that I can sleep on the road and with jetlag


Full battery and numerous offline playlists covering a variety of musical genres. Music is one of the most important things in my self-care kit, it helps to focus and balance my emotions. It is an escape or nostalgic or directional and could not cope without it.

What is the most important piece in your self-care kit?

From Balloch to Tarbet – The West of Loch Lomond

Where the sun shines fair on the banks of Loch Lomond

Britain’s largest loch (or lake) is one of the most beautiful destinations in Scotland (and trust me there are a lot of places to chose from). I have spent many childhood summers visiting my grandparents who are only a 10-minute drive away.

Situated in the heart of the ‘Trossachs’ Scotland’s first national park, is a miniature version of the highlands, only an hour from Glasgow.


The start of the Loch Lomond & Trossachs park is Balloch, which has plenty to do and see.

Balloch Castle Country Park

Initially developed in the early 19th century, the country park and castle are open to the public for beautiful nature trails, guided walks and beautiful gardens. There has been a castle in this site since the 13th century, but now the castle lies derelict. At risk of being destroyed, the local council are now preserving the castle and the Lennox family history.


Loch Lomond Shores

A small shopping area with a great outside play park, crazy golf and excellent ice cream shops in the summer! Recommend the Iru Bru flavoured one! Lomond Shores is the home of Maid of the Loch and also offer boat/kayak rental services and more hire to go and explore the surrounding area.

Sea Life Centre

Also at Lomond shores is the Sea Life Centre (for those inevitable rainy days!), with a host of aquatic animals and great panoramic views from the top floor platform. With the largest number of sharks in a Scottish aquarium, it is worth the entry fee.

If you buy online in advance you can save 30%

The Maid of the Loch

Situated at Balloch pier, the Maid of the Loch was the last paddle steamer boat built in Britain, where it operated between 1953 and 1981. With the need for services declining and the accessibility and condition of the piers worsening, the ship became abandoned at Balloch. It has now been restored and is a cafe and restaurant, and (hopefully) a steamboat service will return next summer.


The Carrick and Cameron House

Heading then up the west side of the loch toward Luss is The Carrick and Cameron House golf course and hotel.

Cameron House is a five-star hotel situated on the banks of Loch Lomond, offering a bar with stunning views over the Loch front. There is even an outdoor bar with blankets and heaters for those cold months and great food.

The Carrick is a stunning 18 hole golf course open to the public to play (for a fee obviously) and has hosted numerous events on the professional golf tour and has been increasingly popular since it opened in 2007.

Sadly a fatal fire just before Christmas 2017 meant that Cameron House is not fully functional as the investigation continues.



The picturesque little village of Luss is situated 20 minutes away from Balloch and was the setting for the Scottish soap opera ’Take the High Road’ which was on in the 90s. A pebble beach, pier and pretty houses, as well as some walks and water activities.

Luss Pier and Beach

The main attraction to Luss is the Loch front, with a busy stone beach in the summer months as locals flock to enjoy the infrequent warm weather. Watch out for midges though as the sun starts going down, the will descend on mass and no amount of tropical repellent will save you!

Loch Lomond Faerie Trail

Perfect for families with young children, where you can explore the home of Scotland’s fairies. You can buy a guidebook and explore the little fairy homes and solve the puzzles and quizzes. Just watch out for trolls!

Luss Heritage Walk

About an hours walk from the Luss General store will take you up to where the old quarry was. The masses of purple slate can still complement the vibrant green of the lush landscape. It is a really nice and relatively easy walk (we do it with my 75-year-old Granny), skimming stones and running through the woods.

Inverbeg and Tarbet

Further up the west, you will find the small villages of Inverbeg and Tarbet.


A tiny hamlet, there is still a pier at Inverbeg although Loch tours only really operate in the summer, it is a quiet and peaceful place for a pit stop and picnic as you head around Loch Lomond.


On the border between Lochs Lomond and Long, Tarbet offers nearby hikes and bike trails, as well as a beautifully scenic train route to Oban, taking in the surroundings. Bear in mind that the train is very infrequent and takes almost two hours to get to Oban.

Loch Lomond is more than just the water, and there is so much to explore! We haven’t even covered 20 miles in this journey, and the East Coast of the Loch is far more rural and untouched.

Check out our previous post on Loch Lomond at https://jeffersadventures.com/united-kingdom/on-the-bonnie-bonnie-banks-o-loch-lomond/

Things I Wish People Knew Before Visiting London

London is my home city, and yes I may be incredibly biased, but there is nowhere else like it. There may be capital cities but none with the history, diversity, and culture of my own, and rightly so we have a plethora of visitors every year.

But… (there had to be a but right!)

But it frustrates me how everyone’s experience of London could be improved with just a few small changes and some heartfelt advice. This article isn’t meant to be a bitch fit rant at tourists, but a few tips from a local might make your trip a bit calmer!

Please let people off the tube before boarding

The whole carriage is trying to empty, and you are forcing your way onto the tube, it’s just awkward for everyone, and someone could get hurt, especially on platforms that have a step up and a significant curve on them. I have sadly seen people slip and fall, please don’t make it worse by being impatient. Commuting is when Londoners come across as dickheads as they have seen the consequences of what could happen.

Know when rush hour is

The busiest times to travel is between 7:30-9: 00 am and 4:30-6: 30 pm. If you get on the tube then, be prepared. Commuters are heading to or have had a long day at the office and have even less patience than usual (which is pretty limited tbh). So for a less stressful journey, either travel at other times or use the bus or walk.

Be spatially aware

London is a super busy place, like all of the time. Like a chronic insomniac, it never sleeps. There is a population of over 10 million people plus all our wonderful visitors. When out and about, be aware that if you stop suddenly, someone will collide with you. Step to one side or slow down rather than stop, it helps with accidents. This is the same with selfie sticks! Please watch where you swing them and yes I have been hit by them too many times to count.

Watch out for people who will take advantage of you

The vast majority of Londoners are lovely people, despite how cold and distant they may appear, but some people will want to take advantage of tourists, so be a little be travel savvy. Avoid the rickshaws on Oxford Street; they are stupidly priced (I heard that someone was charged over £600 for not even a 5-minute journey). Watch out for pickpockets on the tube, so bring bags with zippers or that fully close.

Appreciate London

The vast majority of our museums and galleries are free but rely on donations to enable access to all, so give generously when you visit. We want everyone to have so much access to our history and culture without fees, so do give where you can. The UK is an incredibly charitable nation and join us in that spirit! Treat my home city with respect, don’t graffiti, damage or litter and love London.


London is a vast and diverse city, was small clusters of cultures and such fascinating people. Explore beyond the standard tourist attractions, eat different foods in local hotspots. Allow yourself to be lost in London.

The Magnificent Seven – Brompton Cemetery

A slightly morbid and macabre London destination compared to the local tourist attractions is Brompton Cemetery. Nestled in Kensington and Chelsea, the cemetery has been opened since 1840, making it one of the large seven ancient private cemeteries in London.

Brompton Cemetery

During one of the population booms in London, local parish churches who would customarily bury the public couldn’t cope with the increased demands and were becoming increasingly overcrowded. An unexpected Parisian inspiration led to the consecration of the first London public cemeteries as an alternative to local churches.

One of Seven

One of the youngest of the seven, boasting 39 acres and over 205,000 burials at over 35,000 graves. A distinguished garden cemetery, an urban haven for the local wildlife and a surprising sanctuary of peace and serenity.

Stepping through the entrance gate on the Old Brompton Road, known as the North Lodge, leads down a long avenue to the Brompton Cemetery chapel, a modest dome-shaped chapel flanked by catacombs and long colonnades, located in the heart of the cemetery.

The silence and hush that befalls the cemetery a few metres through the gate is so surprising for central/west London. Behind a curtain of quiet, blissful and appropriate. Even the distant rumble of traffic is cloaked; the only sound would be that of the nearby football club if there is a match playing. Otherwise, you become lost in the stillness of nature and reminiscence.

Notable Residents

A garden of remembrance and dedicated military graves, as well as notable Victorian figures, including Dr John Snow, a renowned physician, and Emmeline Pankhurst, a leading suffragette, are buried in Brompton. The cemetery is still a working burial cemetery and has received some recent funding to preserve the history of the site. The excellent and dedicated volunteers, run guided tours and help with the maintenance and upkeep.

An unusual and different destination, full of history and contemplation, memorials to artists, actors, activists and industrialists, as well as soldiers, scientists, sportspeople and socialites to explore.

The site is open between 7 am and 4 pm but opens until later during the summer months. Check out the website for events, as Brompton hosts cinema screenings in the summer and is in many London films.

Even nearby resident Beatrix Potter sourced some of her character names from exploring Brompton

Please be respectful when visiting the cemetery, many people have loved ones buried here and the place should be protected for everyone to enjoy.

Planning Your Destination Wedding

Five years ago I was able to marry my soulmate in a stunning ceremony in Kalkan, Turkey. We decided to have a destination wedding, not only because we could more certainly guarantee the weather but also the insane costs of having a wedding in the UK (especially in London & the South East). Fortunately, this was an option for us, and we had a destination in mind.

Wedding planning can be a particularly stressful experience, especially with distance and language barriers.

Here are my first tips for planning a destination wedding:

1. Find your partner!

Sounds pretty straightforward but you need to have someone to marry and who shares the idea of getting married abroad.

2. Think About Your Destination

Do you and your partner share a special place? Somewhere you travelled to before? Somewhere you got engaged? Or is it somewhere you have always wanted to go? Your destination wedding should be somewhere that has some meaning or significance to you.

3. Ceremony vs Blessing

Now you have an idea of where next to consider in what? Is this to be your legal wedding or will you be getting married in the UK before or after your ceremony? There are of course going to financial ramifications associated with this and legal hoops to jump through. To legally get married overseas we would have had to travel to the nearest British Embassy can 8-hour round trip) to get all the paperwork sorted. We would also have to have blood tests with the local doctor and to meet several others. In total this added up to £1,000, not including the actual wedding certificate and translation. These are all things to consider.

Although we decided that getting married legally in the UK was the best option for us with our budget and time constraints, it is entirely up to you. A few years later our friends got married in a different part of Turkey, and the British Embassy was much closer to them, so they did legally get married there.

A work colleague got married in Mexico, and it takes three months to get her translated marriage certificate. So she cannot change her name on anything officially yet (bank account, passport etc…)

These are things to consider as well as any religious or cultural boundaries. Think about religion especially if you want to get married in a place of worship and also now conservative the country is, especially in public displays of affection.

So do your research about your destination and type of ceremony to avoid any surprises. The last thing that you want is to arrive a few weeks in advance of your wedding to find out it cannot be what you want it to be.

Next, in the series, we will talk about planning and logistics organisation.

Have any of you got plans to get married overseas or was your wedding abroad?

When I didn’t have a Spiritual Experience at the Vatican

For Easter 2012, all the women on my Mum’s side of the family (11 of us in total) went to visit Rome and the Vatican as part of our Grandmother’s 70th Birthday celebrations. Ranging from 75 to 16, all of us were raised Roman Catholics, and we arrived in Rome on the morning on Palm Sunday. Although I am not a practising Catholic, unlike the majority of my family, I was really excited to see the Vatican.


I don’t quite know what I expected when I walked into St Peter’s Square, but some sort of religious revelation. The seat of the Holy See and home of the Roman Catholic religion, I did anticipate some kind of silent spiritual awakening. Perhaps a gentle stirring of my faith calling me back.

I got nothing. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

Even with the people, just finished mass on Palm Sunday, handing olive branches in the shape of the holy cross in the act of sharing of their faith, I felt unmoved.


I cannot fault that St Peter’s square is stunning. Vast and opulent in its decoration, to see the millions that flock to this place every year and those who visit reaffirm’s their faith, I felt strangely empty.

We also toured inside St Paul’s Basilica, and I had a whirlwind tour of the Vatican museums. The many altars throughout the Basilica and the museum filled with hundreds of pieces of artwork and the Sistine Chapel are all majestic and beautiful but left me indifferent regarding my faith.


But I did learn something about my faith from visiting the Vatican…

I now understand that my faith is not connected to a place or a people. To me, my faith is connected to my heart and soul. It is related to my inner voice, my inner conscience, my internal moral compass. It is compared to what drives me forward, what makes me want to travel and meet people and understand new cultures. I am not bound by a church or temple, the world is mine to explore.

The 40 Before 40 Challenge

So last week was my 32nd birthday. It was a pretty quiet affair, with a few friends and family for a chilled out Sunday BBQ. Birthdays to me are always a time to reflect upon what I have achieved and lessons learned, but also moving forwards towards new goals and targets.

One of the things I want to do is to travel more, which will then be able to provide more content for blogging and build towards that goal. So here I am setting myself a travel challenge.

Over a business lunch, my manager mentioned that she was travelling to Malta as part of her personal 50 countries before she turns 50 years old list. It got me thinking that I could set myself a goal over the next eight years to bring up my total number of countries visited 40.

So my list currently stands at:
  1. England
  2. Scotland
  3. Wales
  4. Northern Ireland
  5. Republic of Ireland
  6. France
  7. Spain
  8. Belgium
  9. The Netherlands
  10. Portugal
  11. Germany
  12. Italy
  13. Vatican City
  14. Hungary
  15. Greece
  16. Turkey
  17. Ibiza
  18. Gran Canaria
  19. Tenerife
  20. South Africa
  21. The United Arab Emirates
  22. Singapore
  23. New Zealand
  24. Australia
  25. Fiji
  26. United States

Now I have written all of those down; it seems like quite a challenge to be able to complete my list in 8 years. 14 more to go!

However, there are 32 recognised countries in Europe that I have still not travelled to (not including some notable dependencies such as Isle of Man, Channel Island, Gibraltar, Menorca, Majorca and Sardina – to me these are separate countries as each one has its own unique culture distinct from the mainland). Also not including Iceland and some nations that sit on Europe/Asia border

It looks like I am going to have to put my planning hat on and find some cheap travel opportunities to complete my list.

What countries would make your travel challenge list?

How To Stay Safe During The UK Heatwave

As the UK enters its longest ever heatwave, it is essential to remember to protect yourself from the sun. Travel safety is critical, with everyone being savvier overseas, but not considering that the UK sun can be just as hot!

Here are the top tips for staying safe this summer

The main risks associated with the current heatwave are dehydration, overheating and sunburn or sunstroke.
  1. If you are vulnerable to heat, stay in the shade between 11 am and 3 pm. This time is the hottest part of the day.
  2. Regularly drink cold drinks such as water, and avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages.
  3. Wear loose cool clothing. Make sure you wear a hat and sunglasses when you head outside.
  4. As much as it feels great for that vitamin D boost, avoid sitting in the sun for extended periods as you can very easily overheat.
  5. Suncream! Even though it is the UK, the sun can still burn & damage our skin. Sunburn can not only have serious medical implications, with an increasing rate of skin cancer, but it also limits the bodies ability to shed excess heat. Guidelines recommend using an SPF 30 or above with both a UVA and UVB filter. No-one wants a lobster look 🦐
  6. Take cool showers or baths to cool down. This should be refreshing but not too cold. Once you step out, if your body starts to shiver, it will actively be trying to warm you up again, making you feel warmer.
  7. Identify your cool points. splashing cold water on your wrists, back of your neck and your ankles can assist in lowering your body temperature
  8. Schedule your outside time carefully. Don’t arrange outdoor physical activities during the height of the heat
  9. Carry water with you at all times. Many cafes and restaurants provide free tap water & regularly drink throughout the day, regardless if you are thirsty.
  10. Eat small meals often. Our metabolic heat increases to digest a large meal, so eat little & often.

Respect the sun & enjoy the weather & travel safe

London Pride

The weekend, central London hosted the annual Pride Parade, with the LGBT and the extended community painting the town a rainbow with a colourful and vibrant parade of over 500 different groups celebrating across the iconic backdrop of London.

The UK’s most significant and diverse Pride Parade, London has hosted a festival since 1972. The first event was held on the nearest Saturday in July to the Stonewall Riots in 1969 in New York. This incident caused a movement. Within a few years of Stonewall, there were Gay rights groups and events in the US and the UK. In 1988, with the update Clause 28 of the Local Government Act, meaning that ’shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality’ lead to a stronger sense of community and an upsurge in the numbers at Pride. London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world and holds many different other communities (race, religion, age, gender, disability and sexual orientation). Promoting equality and fighting injustice has been in London’s veins for years, with infamous protests from suffragettes, war, poverty, immigration and human rights.

The first parade started with a mere 2,000 participants, and how far it had come to almost 30,000 people in the show in 2014. Considering that in 1967 was the decriminalisation of homosexuality, this is a substantial number. What started as a brave act to remember injustice and discrimination, has blossomed into a celebration of community. Some regard the event as being too commercial, losing focus on the adversity faced in these communities and how far the LGBT+ community has come. With free festivals in the lead up to Pride carnival, London has a been awash with colour, perfect to show how diverse our community indeed is.

Travel Quotes To Actually Inspire Travel

You’ve seen them flashed all over your Instagram feed and numerous Pinterest boards for quotes to spark your wanderlust and inspire the traveller in you.

There are so many quotes to choose from. For me, it is the story and origin of the quote that makes it meaningful. Give a perspective on a quote, it can make it more purposeful and insightful.

Bring your special someone to an unforgettable night.jpgFlaubert was an influential French novelist in the 19th century. He believed in finding just the right word for his prose and revealed in romanticism and realism. Innovative, Flaubert quotes here the truth, no cliché, just delicate yet powerful.

The world is such an enormous place, but getting smaller as it becomes more accessible. This quote reminds us that we make up a small part of this world.

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One of the most noted and loved poets of the 20th century, American born Brit T.S.Eliot’s quote from his poem East Coker. The underlying themes in East Coker, are about hope. Not just in physical survival but also of culture and society, and to strive for united humanity. The poem emphasises the ability we have to go out and explore the human experience.

This makes we want to travel; hope and humanity.

Jawaharlal Nehru was a prominent political figure in India following their independence from Great Britain. He fought for many different types of freedom; religion, expression of thought and equality before the law for every individual without distinction of caste, colour, creed or religion. Along with Gandi, Nehru was a political architect of modern-day India. The first Prime Minister brought universal education to India.

As a vast nation, recently become independent from another with a culture so different, Nehru’s quote expresses what is available, if we chose to seek it.

Saint Augustine lived in what is now Algeria and was influential in shaping Western Christianity. Though it is his work as a philosopher and educator that has spawned this quote. Augustine believed that the subject and method of teaching should be adapted to the student, revolutionary for the time. Students should be given the opportunity to apply learned theories to practical experience.

As someone involved in learning and development, these theories about how to learn are so crucial to my day to day life. As a writer, the analogy of the book to the world is simple yet effective.

A relatively mainstream quote to end this selection. Tolkien created an immensely detailed and complex fictional universe in Middle Earth (Lord Of The Rings). One of the most celebrated British writers and the father of modern-day fantasy literature.

The line, ‘not all those who wander are lost’ is actually from a poem in Lord of the Rings. It follows the line ‘not all that glitters is gold’, a famous proverb utilised by Shakespeare. Not all the things that we treasure can always seem so obvious and just because you cannot see someone’s path, does not mean that they are lost.

Having visited a lot of the English countryside that was the inspiration for the Shire and also by visiting New Zealand, where these films were recorded, you feel a sense that Middle Earth isn’t so fictional after all.

The underlying literature links to this quote is steeped in British history by these incredible writers and really highlights the individuality of people. What we treasure in one country, place, culture is not the same everywhere and we are to explore what we truly treasure

What are your favourite quotes?

Day in London Photo Series

London is a city that is a world in itself. With a history since Roman times and many different influences over the years, it is a mysterious labyrinth of lanes and alleys. A vibrant mixture of cultures spread across the many boroughs. The people of London are what make it, their lives and stories. The city is alive with its rush and roar, the sights and sounds.

We are introducing London in this photography series, where she is the subject matter, and all the images are to show her magnificent self.

Live, Love, London x

Harry Potter Studio Tour

I started reading the Harry Potter series in 2001 when the first four books were published. I read them so greedily, pouring myself into the pages and escaping into another world. I was captivated and truly enchanted. I never went as far as queuing up at midnight for the next book or dressing up for the upcoming film (which is totes fine btw), but I was and still am a huge fan of the universe.

So naturally, when Warner Bros at Pinewood opened the doors to how the magic was made on the big screen, I definitely wanted to visit and see for myself.

The Making of Harry Potter is located North West of London, a 15-minute bus journey from Watford Junction. Easily accessible by train and shuttle bus or a short drive from the M25 motorway.  It is free parking right outside, and Golden Tours even do a shuttle bus from central London (at a cost).

Entry is ticketed with prices around £40 for an adult. Tickets must be purchased in advance and can be printed off or collected from the venue. Your card gives you an allocated entry time slot for entry into the attraction. Get there with plenty of time, you can always have a drink or bite to eat in the cafe or have a wee look around the shop. You do not want to be late and miss anything!

When you first enter you are taken into a prescreening room with some pleasant and overtly happy hosts (seriously had too much butterbeer!) to watch a short 5-minute clip on what the tour is really about.

I really want to tell you about the tour but also want to keep it a bit of a surprise for people who haven’t been before.

Walking into the Great Hall is pretty magical and the only part of the tour which is guided. The tables are laid, and the costumes and outfits are scattered around, including the teachers at the far end of the hall.

Pretty much everything from the films is here on tour. From the Gryffindor Common Room, Potions Classroom, Hagrid’s Hut, the Burrow’s kitchen and Dumbledore’s office. In a previous expansion, the Hogwarts Express train is now on site and even more recently the Forbidden Forest (hopefully minus the spiders!).


The average person spends about 3-4 hours at the tour, and about halfway through is a cafe where you can stop for a Butterbeer (be warned it is super sweet, I had to share a small one!) before stepping outside where the Knight Bus, Privet Drive and the Potter’s House at Godric Hollow is.

There are interactive sections and demonstrations where you can learn specific wand movement for duelling, you can play Quidditch in front of a green screen, and I have even visited when Death Eaters are lurking about (Hallowe’en special event).

Yes, the tour is quite pricey, even for London standards but you are getting a lengthy, immersive and interactive experience. It is magical for any Harry Potter fan, and also if you are not a huge fan (like two people I went with), it is still a really cool experience understanding how these blockbuster movies were made.




Bletchley Park

Situated an hour north of London, is an inconspicuous estate close to Bletchley train station. A mansion and grounds, that was pivotal in the modern era of information technology and cloaked in secrecy. The home of the code breakers in World War II has exceptional historical importance and is still relevant today.

The Mansion and grounds were purchased in 1938 by the head of the secret intelligence service, in the event of war. On the train link between Oxford and Cambridge and only 50 miles from London, it was a prime location to attract academics that the secret service would hope to hire.  Bletchley was to be the new home of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS).

Following the outbreak of war in 1939, Bletchley Park became home to the codebreakers.  An elite specialist team with the aim of intercepting and interpreting any messages. At the height of espionage, numerous different coding machines were being used to communicate in secret. For months and months, the allies had no way of deciphering them. Tens of thousands of people worked at this park, in small and modest huts during the course of the war.

One of the most notable residents of Bletchley was Alan Turing. Regarded as the father of modern-day computers, Turning was fundamental in developing a machine that was capable of replicating and breaking the Engima and Lorenz codes used by the enemy. Turing’s work during and after the war is regarded as the breakthrough into computer science. His post-war life and death are full of prejudice and tragedy, especially for someone who has done so much.

Bletchley Park was not only groundbreaking in what they achieved in shortening in the war and saving thousands of lives but also in the number of women who worked there. Numerous women were given the opportunity to progress into STEM subjects with dwindling numbers of men who had gone off to the war. Women with experience in mathematics, physics, engineering and languages. These trailblazers showed that anyone could have the right skills and make a difference.

Under the Secrets Act, most of what happened at Bletchley is a mystery, with many taking their secrets with them. We may never know the full extent of what happened and what was uncovered at Bletchley, but their hard work, patience and dedication saved many lives and secured the outcome of the war for the allies.



Tower Of London

An impenetrable fortress on the north bank of the river Thames is the Tower of London. A long and multi-functional history since being built in 1066, the Tower has been a palace, a prison, an armoury, a royal mint, a treasury, a public records office and the home of the Crown Jewels.

Most famously the Tower of London was a prison, with grisly rumours of torture. Some famous names during the medieval period were held and/or executed at the Tower, including Anne Boleyn (Henry VIII’s second wife), Guy Fawkes (gunpowder plot) and even Elizabeth I was imprisoned here.  A plague immortalises Guy Fawkes and his fellow plotters, both in remembrance and as a warning to other prisoners of the possible consequences of their actions. Rudolf Hess in 1941, the deputy of the Nazi Party was the last state prisoner to be held at the Tower. As late as 1952, prisoners were held in the Tower. The infamous Kray twins were held in 1952 at the Tower for failing to report for national service.

The Crown Jewels comprise of 140 various ceremonial objects used by the British Monarchy.  This includes 7 crowns, with a dazzling array of gold, silver and 23,578 precious stones. The tradition of the ornate coronation has been around since the 12th century and the collection has grown, until the English Civil War (1642-1651) where the monarchy was overthrown and a number of objects were destroyed. With the restoration of the Crown, the collection was remodelled and first went on show in the tower in 1771.

An iconic symbol of the British Monarch and London’s history, the Tower of London is a great place to visit.

Best to get there early and head straight for the Crown Jewels as it gets really busy. Book your tickets in advance for discounts


Russia World Cup 2018

‘The World Cup is a very important way to measure the good players, and the great ones’ – Pele

The beautiful game of football is played worldwide by millions of men, women, and children. Played first (official association football) in 1863 and how the game has grown since this scoreless draw between Barnes and Richmond. Now represented by an estimated 265 million people across 207 member associations, and the pinnacle of association football is the World Cup.

Hosted every four years since 1930, Russia hosts the 2018 competition which starts on Thursday 14th June. This tournaments’ hosts are Russia, and the bidding was not without scandal or controversy. Allegations of corruption were raised by the English Association, with suggestions that Russia bought votes.  Russia has quite strict laws against freedom of speech and profound discrimination with regards to race and LGBT groups. Ongoing doping issues are surrounding Russian athletes resulting in their inability to compete in Olympic competitions. Suspicious activity along its boards with Ukraine, the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shot out of the sky and the threat of domestic terrorism, it is incredible that the tournament is starting this week.

The British Government has issued the following 11 pointers to stay safe when in Russia for the World Cup tournament:

  1. Preparation – check the local government websites before you travel for up to date travel advice
  2. Health Insurance – the European Insurance Card (the old E111) is not valid in Russia so all travellers will need travel insurance
  3. Fan ID – all match ticket holders need to apply for Fan ID as their Visa for entry into Russia
  4. Visa – those without a match ticket need to apply for a Russian Visa to enter, and it can take some time (so hopefully you will have applied already!)
  5. Passport – needs to be valid and have an additional six months before expiry. Take a few copies of the ID page and the Visa/Fan ID page, and store it safely when away.
  6. Match Tickets – only purchase from authorised suppliers and must be linked to the Fan ID to enter the stadium
  7. Plan Your Journeys – Russia is massive country, so plan your travel between the host cities ensuring you have enough time
  8. Accommodation – when visiting a host city, you are required to register within 24 hours. Book accommodation well in advance and ensure that they have recorded you upon arrival.
  9. Stay Up To Date – sign up to the government website for frequent updates
  10. Be Sensible – be respectful of others, including law enforcement and be sensitive to others. Don’t be an anti-social twat.
  11. Emergency Number – 112

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The Great British BBQ

Numerous countries around the world are famous for its barbeque traditions, and the UK is amongst them.  The UK has strong indigenous barbecue culture. Something of a Bank Holiday or lazy Saturday tradition is a barbecue. A quick glimpse of the sun, and its the optimistic rush to the garden shed for the grill.

The Preparation

British tradition is to invite pretty much everyone to a barbeque. Digging around in the shed, cupboards and loft for an assortment of chairs and blankets to accommodate everyone.

Then the food. Brits over prepare for BBQs in the same way that they do for Christmas but buying the supermarket out of food! Head to a supermarket on a sunny Saturday, and there won’t be a burger or sausage in sight.

Ideally preparing food in the morning or even the night before works out best, marinating any meat the night before but Brits are last minute in preparation, generally because of the unpredictability of the weather.

The Weather

Ahhhh, the Brits and the weather. A proud national obsession, with its endless changeability and unpredictability. The constant checking and changing and feeling it out. Any planning will involve vigorously checking the weather on numerous apps or websites, in the vain hope that it might actually be true.

Many BBQs starts with the optimistic weather but will end in the mad dash to the kitchen once the rain begins, with the poor chef underneath an umbrella to make sure the food still gets cooked.

The Food and Drink

Burgers and sausages are a staple of the British BBQ. Everyone will bring crisps and there are never enough burger buns to go round (why are they in packs of 4 when burgers are in packs of 6!). Dessert is most probably a Victoria Sponge and the drinks are beers and nowadays ciders. Someone will make a jug of Pimms, especially if Wimbledon is on the telly.

The sausages will be burnt on the outside but raw in the middle. The chicken will be well overcooked due to the panic of it being raw in the middle. Everyone will eat lots but there will be plenty left over, especially the potato salad.

The Act

There’s something irresistible about the prospect of food sizzling over smoky charcoal and eating outdoors with friends and family on a warm sunny day. An almost primitive act of cooking large slabs of red meat over flames. Most men will revel in having a few cold beers while the fire is burning, the smoke rising, the captivating aromas.

A BBQ is an energetic and engaging experience, and if you are ever invited it is well worth attending