Category Archives: Travel

Holiday to Seattle, Washington 🇺🇸

Following on from my last post, here’s how we spent our time in Seattle, Washington. As we drove from Calgary over the US border and on to Washington the temperature changed from -4celcius to 17c! We had perfect weather in Washington.

Our hotel was right by a park with a beach to Lake Washington in it. We had a view overlooking the lake and the park was perfect for evening walks.

One of the paths in the park was lined with these Autumnal trees

Whilst we were in Seattle we also did Renton parkrun which was only a 10 minute drive from the hotel. There’s a post about it >here<

We went to Downtown Seattle too and explored the Pike Place Market. One of my favourite films (after You’ve Got Mail) is Sleepless in Seattle and in the movie you see Pike Place Market so I was really looking forward to it. It’s a standard market at street level with fish, fruit and vegetable and flower vendors but downstairs there were loads of independent little shops. I loved looking round them all.

We also went to see the infamous Market Theatre Gum Wall which is a wall…covered in gum!

Gum Wall

I just read this is one of the top 5 germiest tourist attractions!

Whilst in Downtown Seattle we also went on the Seattle Great Wheel and saw the first ever Starbucks. The line went right down the street and then some though so I opted out of waiting.

We also went up the Space Needle which has a glass rotating floor! I don’t normally have a problem with heights at all but this definitely made my head and stomach feel a bit funny!

Space Needle

After the Space Needle we went in to the Chihuly Garden and Glass which is right next door. It was absolutely incredible and I just don’t think the pictures do it justice.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

If you want to see a piece of his work without travelling to Seattle, there’s a large chandelier in the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

On our last day in Seattle we went to the Japanese Garden which I’d seen on a list of must visit places. When we went we realised it was actually a very tiny part of a huge amazing park called the Washington Park Arboretum. I wish we’d had more time to explore this! The Japanese Garden was so lovely.

Seattle Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

We really enjoyed Seattle and the weather being a bit warmer certainly helped! After our time there we drove back to Canada to fly home. We had such a good holiday and 3 weeks absolutely flew by!

Have you ever visited Seattle?

Do you have a head for heights?

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Holiday to Canada 🇨🇦

At the end of September we went for our holiday to Canada and the US. I’ve decided to split the posts in two. One focussing on Canada and the other focussing on the US.

We flew out from Heathrow to Vancouver and arrived to pouring rain! This was very much the weather the whole time we were in Vancouver and it wasn’t even drizzle on and off, it was that sort of big fat rain that soaks you to the skin. We ended up drenched on several occasions.

I love how Halloween is really celebrated in Canada and America

We did get one dry day though and decided to visit Whistler. Whistler is a skiing area and has been used for the Winter Olympics.

In Whistler Village

Throughout our time in Vancouver I still did some of my workouts which I was really pleased about. After Vancouver, we made the long drive to Calgary.

We arrived in Calgary to warnings of a snow storm coming! And it did arrive on the Saturday ready for parkrun. I’ve done a post about Nose Hill parkrun >here<

The snow really came down and there was around a foot of snow in the end. We did end up losing a couple of days to this. We’d really wanted to go out to Banff National Park a lot more than we did but because parts of it were so high, we didn’t want to risk it. However we just switched around what we did and did some shopping and visited Downtown Calgary. Banff was so pretty and scenic but I was rather disappointed not to spot a bear or moose! The only wildlife we saw was a rabbit, chipmunk and a deer. We visited the town of Banff, which was very similar to Whistler, as well as the Canada Olympic Park where I sat in the actual bobsleigh from the movie Cool Runnings! As a child, I loved this movie, and still adore it now.

Jamaican bobsled

We finally got a good few days in Banff too where, obviously, we admired the scenery and went on a couple of hikes.

Lake Moraine

Lake Minnewanka

And finally, just to give you an idea of how cold it was in Canada…

I could post so many more pictures of the beautiful scenery in Canada but I won’t flood the post with them.

Next up, Seattle, Washington…

Have you ever been to Canada?

Would you run a parkrun on holiday?

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A Holiday to Scotland

It’s no secret that my heart lies in Scotland. I adore the place. I’m actually convinced that somewhere down the line I must be part Scottish.

Initially we booked this holiday as we were meant to be doing the River Ness 10K but my injury meant I couldn’t run. As I’d now been more and more active we decided to make this an active holiday and make sure we got in some decent long walks.

We stayed in a lodge on the South side of Loch Ness in a small village called Whitebridge. The same site (although a different lodge) from when we stayed in March. You can read all about it here: My Holiday to Scotland

In reality it turned out not being able to run was possibly a good thing. Where we stayed was on the marathon route and the road was closed from 7am meaning we’d have needed to leave before then for a race that didn’t start until 10.45! Not ideal.

The lodge we had this time was smaller than the last but very cosy and still had a log burner and hot tub.

When we stayed last time we discovered a lovely little tea room on our last day so this time we visited it on our first day (and a few times after) We had lunch there before heading out to Farigaig forest for a walk. The walk actually turned out to be more of a hike as we started a steep climb up a rocky path through the forest. We followed a route that was meant to give us magnificent views of an old fort. Despite following the route for an hour we never found it! Annoyingly I tracked this walk on my Apple watch as a hike and it didn’t log a distance or map! I reckon it was probably around 3 miles though. We then returned to the tea room for a hot chocolate and cake!

Hot chocolate and Coffee Cake

The next day we went out and cheered on the marathon runners. Where we were stayed was between miles 2 and 3. I thought the runners would all be through in little over half an hour but we were there almost an hour. I was surprised to see people walking already but I suppose when spectating you don’t know the runners journey or marathon plan. They could have been run/walking. I cheered them all on. We then headed out to Ullapool. It was just over two hours away with a bit of traffic. After our day back as we headed about around 5pm I was surprised to see there were still marathon participants on the course! I spotted the same people who’d been at the very back of the pack walking, they were still walking and between miles 19 and 20 (I think) Walking a marathon must be absolutely gruelling.

Loch Ness Marathon

The masses entering Whitebridge

The next day we went to Aviemore in the Cairngorms. We had breakfast at the café we’d gone to after participating in Aviemore parkrun. We then went to the Glenmore Forest for more walking. We knew we wanted to walk the perimeter of Loch Morlich but also wanted to add in something a tad more strenuous as Loch Morlich is flat. When we picked up a map we saw that part way around the Loch there was another route that would take us on a circular “strenuous” route then drop us back at the Loch to carry on. All together this should have been 5 miles so how we ended up at almost 9 miles I’m really not sure! The route was stunning and worth it to find the hidden An Lochan Uaine (The Green Lochan) which looked like a fairy pool. However it was really difficult. We climbed up for a long time and it was quite steep, however this wasn’t the problem. When it came to going down, the downhill wasn’t as gradual. We had to climb down a really steep rocky path which was difficult to navigate. Some of the steps down were huge and hard for someone of my height! I thoroughly enjoyed it though.

The Green Lochan

After a 9 mile walk the previous day, we decided on a shorter walk the next day. In the lodge was a walk to Foyers that was 3 miles. On route we’d stop off at the tea room too. We walked to Foyers and decided to go down and see the Falls of Foyers before going back to the tea room and then heading back. Again some how a 6 mile round trip turned in to another almost 9 mile walk! This wasn’t too bad in terms of hills but we did have to pass over a river using stepping stones! I was so nervous crossing. I don’t trust my balance at all and every time I went to step there was a big gust of wind. I was convinced I was going to get blown off. Luckily I didn’t!

The last two days of our holiday were forecast to be rainy. It turned out the rain wasn’t as bad as they said but we didn’t want to head out on a walk and for it to turn heavy so we spent time relaxing in the lodge, going in the hot tub and visiting a couple of shopping places.

When it came to heading home the journey was an utter nightmare. The motorway was closed due to a lorry fire on one side and a large car crash on the other side, probably from people looking at the lorry! We had to take a detour along with lots of other people that added 2 hours on to a 10 hour car journey! It was exhausting!

 

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My Holiday to Scotland

Last week I spent the week in Scotland. We stayed on the South side of Loch Ness, or the quiet side as some people call it.

We stayed in a lodge/log cabin in a tiny village called Whitebridge. The lodge was spacious and decorated beautifully. We had a log burner and hot tub. The location was really remote and there was no mobile signal!

living room bedroom

Our lodge had a view of a mountain called Bienn Sgurrach. When we arrived at the lodge the staff provided us with walks around the area and a route for hiking up Bienn Sgurrach.

We arrived on a Friday afternoon and went for tea at The Whitebridge Hotel which was a 5 minute walk from the lodge. The food there was delicious and just what we needed after a long car journey. I had the special of Chicken Curry and Rice whilst my Husband ordered Chilli Con Carne from the menu.

On the Saturday morning we went to Aviemore parkrun which I blogged about HERE.

On the Sunday we went for a drive over to Ballater which is a small village in Royal Deeside. We’ve visited Ballater many times before but wanted to see how the village is doing after struggles with severe flooding and fires. I took this photo of a snowy banked River Dee.

River Dee at Ballater

Not far from where we were staying was Loch Tarff and on the bank of  Loch Tarff was a fallen tree. It had pulled some of the land up with it and revealed it’d roots hidden underneath. I was just amazed by this. Sometimes nature shows itself in strange ways. The roots underneath reminded me of a spiders web

Fallen Tree at Loch Tarff

The following day we returned to Aviemore with the sole purpose of visiting Roo’s Leap restaurant. The restaurant has a somewhat Australian theme and the food is always scrummy. It’s in Aviemore train station so if you choose correctly, you can have a table overlooking the platform there and if you’re lucky, the steam train will pass through.

To start, we shared the Awesome Onion Blossom which is very similiar to Outback’s Bloomin’ Onion (If you know, you know). This was followed by the Monster Bob Burger. The description of this burger is:

“Specifically designed to satisfy the needs of a very, very, very hungry person. This is our double meat, double cheddar topped with mushrooms, onions, bacon and chilli”

It was incredible.

Onion Blossom

Monster Bob Burger

From there we went to Loch Morlich which is just outside Aviemore. It is so pretty there. I’ve been at various times of the year and it never fails to amaze me.

Loch Morlich

I’ve track of what days we did what now so I’ll just tell you where else we went. We visited Inverness centre. I have to say I’m a sucker for a gift shop and I think we went in every single gift shop in Inverness and along the side of Loch Ness! Whilst in Inverness we went for a walk alongside the River Ness near Bught Park.

We also hiked up Bienn Sgurrach. We followed the map the lodge owners had given us.

Bienn Sgurrach Mountain

We climbed up a steep path, in to a field and continued upwards. It was very muddy in places and also waterlogged in places too. We had to go through a field of sheep who didn’t seem too impressed with us! We’d read the views from the top were magnificent but to be honest there wasn’t much to see! So we had a drink and came back down a bit disappointed.

We also walked to Fort Augustus, which is a small village at the end of Loch Ness. As we were quite high we got some good views over Loch Ness.

Loch Ness

On our last day we discovered a great little tea rooms close to the lodge. So annoyed we discovered it on the last day as I’d have loved to have gone back to try some other offerings from their menu. All the food was home made and absolutely delicious. The staff were also really friendly and were keen to hear about where we’d been so far and where we planned on going next time we stop in September. After leaving we saw a deer sat down. I wanted to snap a picture but thought I’d spook it as I got closer. Turns out it wasn’t spooked at all and just sat chilling out, until she walked right by us I hardly dared breathe!

Deer

Deer Close Up

I absolutely loved Scotland. It really does hold a special place in my heart. I’m really looking forward to going back in September and having another crack of the whip at the River Ness 10K. If you want to read about my disastrous trip there last time, then be sure to read this blog post.

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A Long Weekend in Bristol

We went to Bristol the weekend after my Birthday. We had lots of grand plans but they were all laid to rest by me having a very sore knee and horrendous weather. We were meant to go to parkrun at Ashton Court, do the cliff walks at Cheddar Gorge and visit the gym and spa. We actually did none of that but did visit Weston-Super-Mare, Cheddar and Bristol city centre.

Below are some pictures from our trip.

Weston Super Mare

Weston Super Mare Grand Pier

Weston Super Mare Beach Huts

Weston Super Mare was beautiful but absolutely freezing as there was a really strong wind blowing the whole time. I loved the beach huts, they’re such pretty colours. The ones at the beach near me are bottle green! I’d much rather they looked like this.

Cheddar

Cheddar

Whisky

Cheddar Gorge Cheese

My purchases from Cheddar! Whisky and Cheese! In case you’re wondering the Tomatin Whisky was my favourite and the Cave Matured Cheese was my favourite.

The Hotel

Double Tree

Guinea Fowl

We stayed at Cadbury House Hotel and Spa in Congresbury. We bought our stay on points which meant 3 nights in a suite cost us £17! The hotel was beautiful and our room was lovely. We had no complaints. The bathroom was in the room though not separate! We didn’t mind but I wonder if others would. They also had Guinea Fowl at the hotel who were very noisy during the day! Thankfully as soon as dusk came they left.

In and Around Bristol

Costa Coffee

We had breakfast in Costa Coffee one morning and I tried their Coconut Vanilla Latte. It was absolutely beautiful!

Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Clifton Suspension Bridge is a big tourist must see. It’s a shame the weather was horrendous as I’d have been tempted to get out and take pictures but the views weren’t great as a result of the heavy rain.

Bowler Hats

These bowler hat lightshades were in the bathrooms of one of the shopping centres we went to. I thought they were pretty quirky so snapped a picture.

I really enjoyed Bristol and the surrounding area. It’s definitely somewhere I’d like to revisit in better weather and without a sore knee!

 

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My Holiday to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil

I’ve just got back from a holiday to Rio De Janeiro in Brazil. We stayed for a week and did the usual tourist thing as well as having some down time.

We left Heathrow at lunch time and arrived in Brazil at our hotel just before 11 Brazilian time. There was three hours, then two hours time difference after the clocks changed. We stayed at the Windsor Excelsior Hotel right on Copacabana Beach. We dropped our suitcases off in our room and headed straight up to the rooftop bar.

 

Copacabana Beach

View from the rooftop bar

On our first day we explored the area a little by going on to the beach and for a walk along the prom. Is it called a prom over there? Anyway, it was busy down there. On a Sunday they close the road so people can walk, ride bikes and jog traffic free, there are street entertainers and musicians playing. It has a party feel.

The famous wave pattern on the pavement at Copacabana Beach

Our second day we had some down time and lounged around the pool. Whilst I was away I managed to get through a couple of books which felt like a bit of a luxury as reading is something I really have to try and make time for.

The rooftop pool

When we’d arrived at the hotel they’d given us a leaflet with various trips you could book on to. We booked on to a Jeep Tour of the Tijuca Rainforest. We had an awesome tour guide who spoke impeccable English! We drove up and up in to the forest, part of which made up the Olympic cycling route when the Olympics were hosted by Rio in 2016. The higher we climbed, the colder and mistier it got. We made a couple of stops including at this beautiful waterfall called Cascatinha Taunay. It is named after Nicolas-Antoine Taunay who discovered it. It stands 35 metres high! You can see how misty it was in the top of the photograph.

We also got to go on a short hike through the forest which was really nice. We heard Capuchin monkeys calling above us as we walked through but sadly didn’t manage to spot any.

The next day we went for a run along the beach. Running in Brazil, even at 7.30 in the morning is very hot! I’d not taken any water with me, or money to purchase any, so we stopped just after a mile. In the afternoon we went for a walk around Rio De Janeiro centre and then over to the local shopping centre. They had some amazing shops, as well as some pretty crazy ones!

The next day was our last full day in Brazil and we’d booked on a tour to take us to Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain. When we got to Christ the Redeemer it felt like the whole of Brazil had turned out. You were literally stood shoulder to shoulder with people. It was packed with people trying to use selfie sticks and laying on the floor to take selfies. It was crazy. There were some spectacular views from the top.

Christ the Redeemer

Afterwards we headed over to Sugar Loaf Mountain. It was equally as busy there but thankfully there was a lot more space so the only place you were up close and personal with people was in the cable cars going up. Oddly we saw our tour guide from the forest tour at the top of Sugar Loaf  Mountain, literally the whole of Brazil and we manage to see him again! Below is the view of Sugar Loaf Mountain and a cable car travelling up to the top. Apparently this featured in a James Bond film.

Sugar Loaf Mountain

Whilst up on the mountain we saw signs telling us not to feed the monkeys. I kept my eyes peeled but didn’t spot any here either! I think a trip to Monkey World might be in order!

Have you ever been to Brazil? What sights did you go to see?

 

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Autumn in Scotland

I’ve posted about Scotland before on my blog here: Scotland Travel Guide – Off The Beaten Track but I wanted to let you all know how glorious Scotland is in Autumn. It’s perfect, if like me, you fancy yourself as a bit of an amateur photographer!

Autumn in Scotland

The colours of the landscape change from lush green to burnt oranges and reds. There are plenty of places in Scotland to visit where you can stand and have an amazing vista stretch out in front of, usually framed by rugged mountains and hills.

Autumn in Scotland

Even though Scotland is renowned for being colder than a cold thing I’ve found in Autumn it’s still quite pleasant. It’s just the right weather to explore in a hoodie or light jacket and jeans. We had days of lovely sunshine and even got sunburnt a couple of times. Of course we experienced rain too but hey, this is the UK.

Ducks at Loch Morlich

As the sun starts to set in Autumn it creates an amazing “golden hour” where the lighting for photographs is just insane. It gives everything a warm even glow. The picture above was taken around 6pm at Loch Morlich in the Cairngorms.

sunset in scotland

Then finally there’s the sun sets! When the sky looks this good naturally, it eradicates the need for filters on Instagram! This was taken early October at 7.20pm. It’s perfect to watch with a mug of hot chocolate whilst sitting under a blanket outside. This photo is taken from a lodge we rented looking out over the Beauly Firth in Inverness.

Scotland is beautiful any time of year but it really is special in Autumn.

Have you ever visited Scotland in Autumn?

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A Holiday to Wales

I’ve reached the grand age of 33 and have never been to Wales! So last week we spent 4 nights in Pembrokeshire just outside Narberth in a log cabin that we booked through Hoseasons.

We’ve booked holidays in log cabins before with Hoseasons when we have stayed in Scotland. We’ve always booked an Autograph lodge which is their premium range of lodges.


We spent our time there exploring the area. We visited Tenby which is a lovely little seaside town with a harbour. The houses are so pretty and colourful too. We walked for miles all around the town, harbour and beach.

We also visited Freshwater West which is also known as the beach where Dobby dies. That’s another Harry Potter location visited. We’ve visited a few in Scotland too.

We went for a walk around the grounds of the lodge where they have a golf course, more lodges to rent and also private lodges which are owned. They had a beautiful garden and this lovely waterfall.


We spent lots of time in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park too. Pembrokeshire has a beautiful coast line and lots of lovely sandy beaches.


We had a lovely 4 days there and managed to fit lots in despite the weather being a bit grey. The lodge had a hot tub too so that was great to relax and unwind in.

When I next visit Wales I’d like to visit North Wales to see what it has to offer.

Have you ever been to Wales?

What is your favourite part of Wales?

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September Roundup

September seems to have been and gone in a flash and as a result I don’t feel like I’ve done much but never the less. Here is my September roundup!

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Firstly in September I won a competition! I’ve never won anything before in my life so I was pretty amazed when I won this gorgeous palette on a giveaway over at Sophie’s Blog

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One evening after work we decided to go to JoJo Gelato in Fareham. I had this scrummy Nutella and Cookie supreme crepe. It was so good, especially after a hard day at work.

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We also visited the Waitrose Farm Shop. Here is the post about our visit.

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In Lee-on-the-Solent there was a super low tide on 18th September. I’m still discovering new things about living by the sea and this was one of them. The photo doesn’t do it justice but the sea really was a lot further out than usual.

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At the end of September we went to Wales for 4 nights. I’ve never visited Wales before so it was nice to explore somewhere new. There’s a more detailed post to follow.

In September I did 8 blog posts which I think might be a record for me! If you missed any, they’re linked below:

Smart ForFour

August Roundup

Learning to drive with AA Driving School

I Am Team GB

The Waitrose Farm – Leckford Estate

Fantastic Mr Fox

Disney X Cath Kidston – Winnie The Pooh

Gelish by Nail Harmony Review

Now we’re in to October which is my favourite time of year!

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London Travel Guide – Off the beaten track

London Travel Guide

London is the capital of the UK and there is so much to do there. In this guide I’ve tried to include things I have discovered that you might not know about, those little places tucked away and hidden gems. This is the third and final instalment of my Travel Guide series. Be sure to check out the Scottish Travel Guide and the Florida Travel Guide. As usual all links open in a new tab/window

Houses of Parliament – So you’re probably thinking The Houses of Parliament?! How are they off the beaten track?? But did you know you can go on a free tour of them if you’re a UK resident? Simply arrange the tour through your MP then a guide will take you through The House of Lords, The House of Commons and Westminster Hall. This building has so much history you’ll find out loads of interesting things. Find out more here on how to find your MP and book the tour.

Big Ben – You can also go on a free tour of Big Ben and the Elizabeth Tower if you’re a UK resident. Again you arrange it through your MP and then climb the 334 steps inside the tower. Book quick as there are going to be some refurbishment works taking place meaning tours will be suspended after 16th December 2016. Find out more about the tour and how to book it here

London Transport Museum – The London Transport Museum is a great place to visit and although it’s in Covent Garden you can easily walk past without noticing it hence me including it here. It’s a great little museum to visit, especially if you have a passionate child who loves transport or an enthusiastic grown up who loves trains and buses!

Acton Transport Museum – If the London Transport Museum whet your appetite and you know someone really keen on transport then be sure to hop on the tube to Acton and visit the Acton Transport Museum. Be sure to check when the website for when the museum is open as it does only open for some weekends but this is a serious homage to transport and a must for any enthusiast.

The Household Cavalry Museum – Again, another tucked away hidden gem. This museum is located right behind Horse Guard’s and has a fantastic collection of ceremonial uniforms as well as other items used throughout history in parades. There is also a large window where you can watch the working stables that contains the horses used on duty.

The Museum of LondonThe Museum of London is fantastic but is in the City of London meaning if you’re based in central London you’re going to need to walk or hop on the tube. Personally when I’m in London I like to walk up the Southbank to this Museum as you pass some great sights on the way. The Museum of London provides you with a walk through of London’s history. There are some great collections here and it’s definitely worth checking out.

That’s all for my London Travel Guide. Hopefully it’s introduced you to a couple of new places to check out next time you’re in the capital. Be sure to check out my other Travel Guides for Florida and Scotland

Keep in touch with me on Twitter, Instagram or add me on Snapchat – @bigmugoftea

 

 

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