Current favourite things!

Today on the blog I thought, you know what, lets share some favourite things. I love reading about the things that have caught other people’s eye, so why not share some of my own? So here we go – ten of the things that I’m loving right now!

  1. The sound of this ice cream. I mean Chocolate Chip Cookies and Cream Pumpkin Marshmallow Ice Cream AMAZING, right? I can’t even explain all the thoughts swirling around my brain at the thought of this concoction!
  2. The brownies I made recently, yes I mentioned them here but they were so good they needed mentioning again! They were just that good. As for the recipe, it was just good old Betty Crockers Chocolate Fudge Brownies mix, which is amazing in itself. But then I decided to add raspberries and digestive biscuits – um hell yeah I did. Talk about dream combination!
  3. My new Paperchase coloured fine line pens – so much colour, so much choice, so much fun is now involved in writing my to do list!
  4. The new Costa coffee cups, have you seen them? They have Christmas drawings all over them – bloody lovely. You can’t beat anything that’s christmass-y at this time of year.
  5. The collaboration between Rob Ryan and Tatty Devine, I basically want all the things from this collaboaration, but most of all I want the necklace below, so beautiful.
  6. Fairy lights. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this about a gazillion times in my life but they just make any room or area so much better, they’re just so pretty. I currently have four sets of lights in our living room and they make me smile every time I see them.
  7. Thor: The Dark World – I saw this film recently and I just can’t stop thinking about it. I enjoyed it so much and loved the ending. I also seem to have developed a bit of a thing for Loki and Tom Hiddleston, and this video hasn’t helped this obsession much!
  8. The 2D christmas tree below. I am most definitely going to be instigating one of these on my kitchen blackboard in a week or two (yes I do mean that soon – why not?!). Also I love all these cards (again below), I would be sending these if I wasn’t making my own cards this year.
  9. Have you started following @CuteEmergency on Twitter yet? If not you really should. As it contains the MOST adorable pictures of animals, just the thing to cheer you up after a stressful day. Definitely worth a gander when you have a chance.
  10. Finally I am super-duper excited about the return of Spooks. Not only because it’s Spooks and it’ll feature Harry, but also because Kit Harrington (John Snow in Game of Thrones) will be in it. OH. EM. GEE. Day made right there.

Image of Christmas Card Collection

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The English Countryside – Travel Tuesday

Greeting chums, how are you all? I’ve suddenly realised that today is my last day off before my new job – eek how has that happened – so needless to say I’m slightly panicking! But anywho enough about me, what have you all been up to? Thanks for stopping by for another installment of Travel Tuesday, I can’t wait to see what travels everyone else has shared this week! In this weeks installment we’re off only a short distance, to the wonderful English countryside and bonus it fits into today’s theme of relationships!

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Over the weekend I went back to my parents house for 36 hours for a good old catch up, we’ve all been busy bees recently so it was lovely to chatter about everything. It’s always really lovely being back in Surrey as it’s 100% relaxed and you’re guaranteed gorgeous food, but this weekend I also wanted to make the most of being in the countryside. With the gorgeous autumnal weather we’ve been having recently it was the perfect excuse to get outside and see all the beautiful autumnal sights. Sights that you don’t often get to see in the heart of London town! So that’s what we did! We pulled on our wellies, our scarves and our coats and drove ten minutes to Ranmore Common and went for a tramp in the woods. We wandered around for about 45 minutes and it was so lovely to be out in the fresh air with four of my favourite people (tick on the theme)! We were all very excited when we came across a load of chestnuts and couldn’t resit picking up a fair amount of those for roasting later on (we did leave some for the squirrels – don’t worry!). There’s something amazing about the crisp autumn air that just makes me warm and snuggley inside and isn’t it wondrous when all you can hear is the rustling of the leaves or the snap of twigs as you go a little off piste. Oh it was such a lovely afternoon and I realised I really must pop back down to the countryside more often, even if just for a quick walk int he leaves. It really is so blissful.

I won’t bore you with more waffling, instead have a gander at the images below to see the glorious autumnal colours, what we got up to, how stunningly beautiful everything was and how much mud I found!

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A Trip To Meet The Otters – Travel Tuesday

Happy Tuesday lovely peeps and welcome to another edition of Travel Tuesday with Bonnie and Co. How have you all been since the last edition, anything exciting to share? Today is the second to last day at the job I’ve been at for five and a half years, so ti’s all very exciting in these parts. I can’t believe this day has actually arrived and whilst I’m sad I can’t wait for the super exciting new things to come! Anyway back to travelling, today I thought I’d share my recent trip to an otter sanctuary, which was ten days ago during my trip to The Peak District.IMG_0595

Whilst we were having a thoroughly relaxing weekend in the countryside we decided to venture half an hour from where we were staying and visit the Chestnut Centre Otter, Owl and Wildlife Park which is nestled on the side of a hill in Chapel-en-le-frith. If you’re ever up that way I most definitely recommend it as it’s such a great afternoon out! We were there for a good three hours and as well as having a lovely long walk around the hills we encountered some beautiful creatures.

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A particular favourite of mine was the deer that were grazing on the side of the hill not two metres from where we were wandering, they were absolutely beautiful and seemed so peaceful. They didn’t seem bothered at all that we were so close, they just seemed to enjoy roaming around the land. It was great to see thm in their natural habitat and to be so close.

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As well as the deers (with their baby foals) we also saw loads of silky otters splashing around in the water. There were giant ones as well as small ones in five or six areas across the park – three of these seemed to be doing an exercise routine where they swam and chased each other round their enclosure multiple times (so sweet). Plus we saw pole cats, which are very cute (if not a little shy) too.

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As well as the deer, otters and pole cats there were a lot of owls to stare at as well, everything from cute barn owls and snowy white ones to ones I’ve never seen before. I think these were my favourites as they were the most unexpected – with their puffy and fluffy feathers and big haunting eyes they really were gorgeous. Although I’m not sure I’d like to meet them in the woods on a dark night!

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It was such a lovely day out and perfect for getting a long walk in without even realising it! I really did fall in love with The Peak District and I can’t believe that I’ve barely even visited such a stunningly beautiful part of the world – I really have been missing out. Have a great rest of the week everyone. xx

Merry times away and happy things

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Yesterday I got back from four days in the Peak District where I had a whale of a time with my family to celebrate my younger sister’s birthday. Most of my smiley happy things from the past week relate to this trip as it was so much fun – oh how I wish I was still there and not at my desk in Central London! Even though the weather was mainly cloudy and a bit drizzly it didn’t seem to matter as we were staying in a lovely little cottage and having a ball – more on the weekend tomorrow in my Travel Tuesday post. So let’s get down to these smiley happy things!

Super cute animals – whilst in the peaks we stayed in Bakewell where we just happened to be overlooking the river and a lot of really cute ducks and even a few swans, so sweet! We also spent Saturday at a nature reserve full of owls and otters, which were absolutely adorable, I could have spent hours there watching the otters splash around in the water. Cuteness!

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Family – I spent the entire weekend with my family and it was so good to be all together again, even if for such a short time. I think the last time all six of us were together for longer than ten hours was in Wales in August, so it was high time for another get together! We got up to all sorts; from walks and meals out, to lazy times on the sofa and late night game playing. Not to mention hours in the car ranting at the radio or singing along to the radio – I loved ever second and I need to start planning the next trip.

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Good food – Whilst in Bakewell we did of course treat ourselves to the obvious – a proper Bakewell Tart, but we also consumed a LOT of other things including: GBK burgers (and fries with satay sauce), cooked breakfasts, cocktails, curry, pub lunches featuring the most delicious chicken liver pate ever, chicken, leek, ham and mushroom pie, birthday cake and lasagna. Yummy, yum, yum! A good reason why I need to go for a run. Good food also extends into the rest of the week with sausage casserole, hot chocolates, breakfast at Le Pain, triple chocolate cookies and an obscene amount of marshmallow brownies.

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Non Peak District related good things from this week include a trip to Costco. I don’t know why but something about that place makes me so happy. I think it’s the combined fact of being able to buy yummy things in bulk (hello 48 packets of peanut m&m’s or 3 litres of sweet chilli sauce) and wandering between aisles of books, then TVs and then crisps. Such fun!

Autumn love – I’m so pleased we’re completely in the throes of Autumn as it’s my favourite season. I found the perfect leaf when briefly in my parents garden and I just love shuffling through the leaves each morning and the click clack of winter boots in the paving slabs.

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Sisters – Sort of related to point two above (as they are my family after all) but over the last week my sisters have proved they’re pretty awesome through a number of ways. Firstly through comedy Snapchats and tweets, then with lovely surprise presents to say ‘well done on your new job’ and finally when Bex gave me one of her rings, well a set of three matching ones, that no longer fit her – how awesome are they! I’m super lucky to have them in my life!

Pretty printed paper – I love wrapping the gifts I give in beautiful paper and with lovely ribbon and this week I found some gorgeous brown paper in Paperchase that had lovely patterns on. As soon as I saw the three designs, I had to buy them all – I mean look, swirly text, cute colourful birds and interesting animals. How could I not buy these?

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What about you, what things have made you smile this week, I’d love to know! x

Paris Ponderings – Travel Tuesday

Happy Tuesday one and all and how are you this lovely autumn day? I’m on countdown to Thursday right now as that’s when I’ll be off for a fun long weekend in the Peak District, hooray for travels in the UK and only two days left of work this week – whoopee!! What about you lovely peeps, what are you up to this week, anything exciting to report or anything that can better my upcoming plans?

So for today’s Travel Tuesday installments I’m heading across the English Channel to the wonders of Paris. I’ve been to Paris twice, once on a school trip (which is all quite a blur if I’m honest, I can’t remember much about it) and once about six years ago on a long weekend with family. To be honest my memories of the trip aren’t that great as I’ve come to realise I have a brain like a sieve, but when I stumbled across the following photos I decided I wanted to share the little bits I do remember with you today – so snuggle up on the sofa with a hot chocolate and let’s dive in! First up the pictures!  Below we have The Louvre, Notre Dame, Family Evans and the Eiffel Tower.

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Like I said I can’t remember much about our trip, but here’s the bits that I do remember:

  • It rained almost constantly
  • We went around Easter so there were loads and loads of yummy chocolate eggs and rabbits everywhere. Bliss.
  • I was disappointed with the Mona Lisa – who knew it was so tiny, I have to say I don’t quite understand the fuss. Hopefully that doesn’t make me an uncultured cretin…
  • We ate at a delicious restaurant at the famous Chartier Restaurant a favourite with tourists and Parisians alike. I have no idea what we ate, but I remember it was delicious, there was a fantastic amount of bustle, the restaurant has wonderful decor (check that out on the site here) and finally the waiters added up the bill on the tablecloth – love it!
  • We drove through the streets of Paris and it was fascinating to be under a graffiti covered bridge one moment and then going round the beautiful Arc de Triomphe the next. Wonderful.
  • The Louvre building is beautiful
  • I discovered what Steak Tartare is, thanks to our neighbours in a cute french cafe. I can’t even…why would you think that’s appetising?
  • Due to the storm we couldn’t go up the Eiffel Tower, although I’m not sure I’m brave enough to have gone anyway. But it was still beautiful all light up
  • I think Notre Dame is possibly my favourite Parisian building
  • I did not spend enough time sat in a coffee shop with bowls of coffee/hot chocolate and fresh from the oven pastries

What about you, have you ever been to Paris? What were your favourite parts of the city to explore? This post has definitely made me want to return so that I can properly experience all it has to offer, hopefully minus the rain and the sieve like memory!

A Compass Rose

Smiley Happy Things

Smiley_Happy_ThingsThis last week has mostly been awesome, apart from a day of illness which I could have done without, but hey what are you going to do when that happens? There’s no point fighting it, you just have to fold yourself into bed, sleep and recover and then treat yourself to cake and hot chocolate accompanied by a good book or episodes of Glee – or is that last bit just me? Anyway despite my depleted health I have had a great week with lots of lovely things to natter about and be thankful for this week. I’m so glad to have such brilliant things in my life, especially when I’ve had a rubbish day or feel ill, so I’m glad I have these posts to remind myself of the good stuff.

Catching up with friends – I caught up with two old friends this week, separately – the first was for a Tuesday evening natter and the other involved a lovely day out in Rochester on Saturday. It was so lovely to catch up, get all the gossip and reminisce about all sorts. There was a lot of reminiscing on both occasions, particularly on Saturday as we discussed the fact we’ve known each other for ten years and we laughed over some of the best times we’ve shared, including our fabulous travelling trip in 2007. I love that I have friends like this. Where all you need is a coffee, cake and to be together for a lovely day. I need more of these days booked in I think.

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Crafting – I’ve seeing my little sis later this week for her birthday celebrations up in the Peak District, which meant I needed to finish start and finish the item I’ve been planning for ages. It really is ridiculous that I’ve only just got round to it as I’ve had all the materials I’ve needed for ages (three weeks minimum) so hooray that I’ve finally done it. Despite a few stressful moments with the sewing machine (I must have threaded that needle twenty times in the space of an hour) it’s now almost done – hooray and fingers crossed she like is!

Starbucks’ new Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate – To be honest I was a little skeptical when I saw this drink as I wondered if it was possibly going to be one ingredient too many or that maybe I’d given it very high expectations. But on Tuesday during the aforementioned nattering session the chance of a shared lemon cake and a salted caramel hot chocolate was too good an opportunity to miss and it surpassed all my expectations. It really was absolutely delicious with the perfect combination of all ingredients. The only problem? I’m going to struggle not to want one every single day and I don’t believe that would be a wise thing – hello four more dress sizes!

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Getting my bake on – Marshmallow Brownies and a Chocolate Loaf Cake have both been made this week and they are both delicious, you need to give them a try asap. The recipe for the brownies may well make an appearance on this here bloglet soon, but the chocolate loaf cake, can be found here, should you want to give it a whirl! I love that I can be calmed or made to feel happy again purely through the combination of ingredients and that smell.

Football Fun – The last week saw another trip to Wembley to watch England and I loved every second of it – the game was brilliant, it was tense, stressful and exciting. The best England game I’ve watched in ages and thankfully the result was the right one (for me anyway)!

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Running in the leaves – I seem to love running in the leaves, I think it’s the crunching sound, so I’m very pleased that I was able to do that a couple of times this week – hooray!

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What about you, what stuff has made you smile this week or what are you particularly grateful to have in your life right now? I’d love to know so share below. And here’s to another fabulous wek of lots of happiness and fun times. xx

Pacific Island of dreams – Travel Tuesday

Greetings my fellow travel loving chums and how are you this lovely Tuesday? My fingers are crossed that you’re in fine form. As for me? I’m not too bad, thanks for asking! I’m catching up with a uni friend this evening so I’m really hopeful that it’ll be a lovely day full of yummy food and A LOT of nattering! As it’s Tuesday it’s time for a look back at my travel journals (yes I do own a couple) to have a reminisce over one of my past travelling adventures as part of the Travel Tuesday link up with Bonnie over at A Compass Rose. So after you read this here blog post make sure you pop on over to Bonnie’s blog to see all the other lovely posts.

So where are we headed to today I hear you ask? Well this morning we’re off over to the wonderful Pacific Ocean and the beautiful country of Fiji, which I was lucky enough to visit back in 2007 as part of my post University travels. I’m so pleased that half way through our five month trip we managed to squeeze in this week of calm in a small corner of paradise. Not only was it absolutely stunning it was also just what we needed – a week of rest and relaxation before we hit the madness of the U S of A.

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The beautiful blue sky and glossy green vegetation of Fiji

Whilst in Fiji we split our time equally between Nadi – one of the main towns – and the beautiful Coral Coast, which is on the south of the island. This was just perfect for us as it meant we got to see two sides of this lovely country. With Nadi we got to experience a Fijian ‘city’ and  we made the most of being in the town with walks to the markets and to buy the locally made knick knacks as well as being able to watch traditional Fijian dances and spending the day on the beautiful South Sea Island for snorkeling, massages and relaxation. The island  of South Sea was no more than 50m in diameter and it was one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been lucky enough to experience. Everywhere you looked there was just water and more water, with one or two small land masses in the far distance.

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The gorgeous beach at South Sea Island

My favourite part about our week-long Fijian trip was the Coral Coast and the beautiful Mango Bay Resort, it really was paradise. Our ‘room’ was a three person safari ‘tent’ that was 20 meters from the beautiful beach with a stunning view towards the never-ending ocean. Whilst at the resort we learnt about the culture by making baskets, coconut sweets, jewelry and experiencing the wonders of Kava, went snorkeling, kayaking, watched traditional Fijian ceremonies, sun bathed, sun bathed and sun bathed some more and even got to experience an outdoor film night with cocktails galore. It really was absolutely wondrous and I can’t remember ever being so relaxed. It was simply amazing and one day I will go back to do it all again. Fiji is simply just stunning and absolutely out-of-this-world in it’s mind boggling beauty. Do you think I’m exaggerating with all the superlatives I’m using in this post? Then just check out some of my favourite photos from that week.

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Shadows and a calm pacific ocean

 

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The restaurant and pool at Mango Bay Resort

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One of my all-time favourite pictures. Beautiful.

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One boat in a vast sea

What about you, what country have you been the most relaxed in, and what are your most stunningly beautiful pictures of? I’d love for you to leave links for me to have a gander – I love travelling from my desk at work or whilst sat on the bus! Have a lovely Tuesday each and everyone of you. xx

A Compass Rose

Why was last week so brilliantly good?

Over the weekend I came across The Musing Blonde’s ‘High Five Fridays’ post and I really loved the sentiment behind it, it’s such a good point that we tend to focus on the bad things rather than the good. No matter what our day/week/month has been like there’s always something to be grateful for, happy about or thankful for. That was the original concept behind my ‘Smiley Happy Things’ posts, but I’ve been a bit lax at posting them recently so I had a rethink and I’ve come up with a solution. From now on I’m going to post about my recent ‘Smiley Happy Things’ every Monday as a way of reflecting on the good things that have happened over the past week – so a replacement to my ‘Lately’ posts. I like the idea of doing this on a Monday to remind me on the worst morning of the week that things aren’t always bad and that they will most definitely get better as the week goes on!

So here’s the first of the new look Smiley Happy Things posts. What about you, what are your favourite things about the last seven days?

Sitting on the beach enjoying this view

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The first coffee after a week of no caffeine

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Pulling on a snuggly jumper and winter boots to combat the rain outside

Curling up on the sofa with coffee and my patchwork quilt

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A Law and Order marathon

Bright summer flowers

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Reliving wonderful Rome through my little sis’ Instagram pics

Treating myself to new magazines for the flight

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Reminding myself how delicious a simple snack of yogurt and banana can be

New nail varnish

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Arriving back from holiday to a delivery of essential items for my upcoming Christmas card project

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The joy of your own bed after a week away

Pretty flowers to brighten up the flat

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Visiting favourite holiday spots

Getting the balance right, sort of!

Last week seemed to be all about the eating and exercising, which is qwuite good I think as it means I at least got a good balance of things, yes. It’s far better to exercise a lot after eating a lot, rather than collapsing on the sofa, right? So what was all this exercise? Well over the last week I walked to work three times, did two long runs, went spinning and then enjoyed a two hour walk round London city as part of one of the London Walks.  What about the other side of the balancing scale I hear you say? Well I baked focaccia (quite a long process, but totally worth it!), went to Strada for lunch, experienced fried jam sandwich canapĂ©s (yummy!), had dinner cooked for me by Lau as part of out Ready, Steady Cook challenge and ended up at The Diner (again). Not a bad week really!
The London Walk we went on was so brilliant, and I highly recommend it. It costs just ÂŁ9 for a two hour guided walking tour. Which to be honest would not normally be my thing as I normally like to find my own way, but I’m so glad I was given this as my present. It was absolutely brilliant ans so wonderuflly fascinating! We started off at Monument and ended up at the Guildhall and in between we saw lots of Christopher Wren architecture, Tower Bridge, Leadenhall Market, Pudding Lane and so so much more. There were glorious buildings, stunning churches and fascinating stories about the last thousand years. Just my cup of tea and the perfect thing to do on a Sunday morning!

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Travel Tuesday: A family trip to Portugal

I’m lucky enough to have visited lots of lovely places in my 28 years on this planet – I’ve enjoyed everything from city breaks and beach resorts to road trips and glorious scenery. Weirdly I haven’t reminisced about one of those trips for a while as I tend to go on them, enjoy a wonderful time, snap lots of pictures and then jump straight back into everyday life. I think this needs to change, so I thought I’d take part in the Travel Tuesday link up that Bonnie and Belinda organise. I love reading their weekly posts, so why not share my own? I’m off to Portugal soon, so I thought whaat better place to start? Read on for some Portugal love about the last time I was out there back in September 2012.

I went out for a week to Vale do Lobo in the Algarve to spend some lovely family time with my parents, sisters and Greg, the littlest sister’s boyfriend. It was so chilled out and relaxed, it was one of the best weeks I’ve had in Portugal, and considering I’ve been about twenty times that’s saying a lot. The great thing about Portugal is that as I go fairly regularly and have done since I was about five, it means that I know the area like the back of my hand.  I always feel settled and in holiday mode as soon as I arrive, which I think we can all agree makes a big difference when the point of your trip is to relax thoroughly. In terms of what we got up to on or holiday; it was all about the eating, the exploring, the card games, the running, the go karting, visiting a nature reserve and the sunbathing. The perfect sunny holiday really! I won’t go in to masses of detail on the whole week, as I will find it hard to keep this post short(!), instead I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

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Setting the world to rights over the BBQ

The Mothership and me with drinks and cards

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Go karting fun

This was the first time we’d been go karting in Portugal and it was so much fun! I was perhaps a little more restrained than others, but I still enjoyed it. Lets be fair I can’t help it if I’m a little bit of a scaredy cat when it comes to things like speed.

Late night cocktails

Late night cocktails

A glorious view

A glorious view

Gorgeous weather

Gorgeous weather

I love the colours in this picture – the bright blues, deep greens and creamy buildings. So beautiful.

More Uno!

More Uno!

All dressed up for dinner

All dressed up for dinner

Me and Lau

Me and Lau

and relax...

and relax…

Chilling by the pool

Chilling by the pool

Sun shade

Sun shade

Hello!

Hello!

It's all about the sunglasses

It’s all about the sunglasses!

An amble through the nature reserve

An amble through the nature reserve

Smiley sisters

Smiley sisters

The local nature reserve

The local nature reserve

Beautiful scenery

Beautiful scenery

More cocktails

More cocktails

Lots of cocktails

Lots of cocktails

I can’t wait to go back to Portugal soon, it’s going to be brilliant to have a chilled out few days in the sun (hopefully) and not have to do anything but relax. Let the countdown begin, only thirteen more sleeps to go…

A Compass Rose
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