The Best Parts of Padstow

Cornwall in October may be a combination that isn’t initially thought of. I know, it’s often cold, rainy & windy, but it’s a place not just to visit for the summer months. For the last couple of years, I’ve visited the Padstow area & although it’s known for Rick Stein’s culinary delights, there is plenty more to see.

Why visit Padstow?

The picturesque fisherman’s port town, Padstow is one of the loveliest places to be. With the Camel Estuary on its doorstep & the island of Rock in the distance, you’ve definitely got the views from the town. The town can definitely fix your shopping habit, if you’re a fan of Joules, Fatface & White Stuff, but all the independent shops have plenty to offer too.

If you’re arriving at lunchtime ‘ish’, the pasty shops are the ones you want to find first. The question is, which pasty shop is the best? In Padstow, you’ve got about five shops to choose from & although a traditional Cornish pasty is typically the most favoured option, since becoming a vegetarian, I’ve got admit a cheese & onion pasty is pretty good too!

If you’re feeling some ice-cream afterwards, Harbour Ice is the place to go. With so many flavours to choose from, it’s always a difficult decision. They have all the classics, sorbet & This visit I went for ‘Jersey Crunch’, with maltesers, caramel, vanilla, it was definitely a good one!

Best things to do in Padstow

Cycling: The Camel Trail (an old railway track) extends from Padstow to Bodmin, 22 miles there & back. There are cycle hire places near the start of the trail & it’s worth having a visit to Camel Valley Vineyard for some wine along the way! (Side-note: This was a summer activity for me, so I cannot vouch for how fun it is in the colder months!).

Ferry to Rock: Ferries run every 15 minutes to Rock & it is a great trip to escape from the hustle & bustle of Padstow with an extensive beach to explore.

Food: Obviously, you’ve got the Cornish pasty choices, but Rick Stein also does some pretty good fish & chips. His restaurant ‘The Cornish Arms’ based in St Merryn does get pretty busy, which means that sometimes dishes on the menu are not available, but it’s good pub food, nonetheless.

Nearby Beaches

Trevone Bay

When it’s just a 40 min walk (1 ½ miles) from Padstow, this is the place to be. There’s an extensive beach (when the tide’s out!) for walking as well as a connecting coastal path to nearby bays. Of course, the winning factor is that it’s a dog friendly beach from October 1st.

The coastal paths around Trevone are one to explore. The cliffs surrounding Trevone Bay show an impressive natural land feature, a blow hole, eighty feet deep, created by a collapsed sea cave. By following the coastal footpath to the left from the beach, 10 mins later, you’ll find a tidal pool. It varies in depths, so it’s perfect to walk into for a bit of a swim, but I’d recommend the full wetsuit gear!!

Harlyn Bay

This beach is known for being a huge crescent bay with plenty of rock pools. The next beach along from Trevone on the coastal path & it’s a dog friendly beach all year (are we sensing a theme for why beaches in Cornwall are amazing?). This beach has plenty of options for activities & if you’ve ever wanted to learn to surf, this could be the place for you with a RNLI approved surf school (maybe one year for me…).

So, that’s an insight to one of my favourite places in Cornwall & I know there’s still plenty that I haven’t explored yet!

Have you got a favourite place in Cornwall?

Im x

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48 Hours in Hereford

One of my favourite things about the UK, is that there are still so many places that I haven’t explored. Hereford is only an hours train ride from Birmingham, making it so easy to get there, but as the weekends have the tendency to fly by, I did my research to see as much of city as possible (especially as the weather was predicting floods but we’ll get onto that!). Here’s my list to make the most of Hereford in 48 hours.

First Stop: Hereford Cider Museum – to be honest the weather was miserable already so the Cider Museum was a perfect escape from it all! It’s about a 15-20 min walk from the train station so we were already getting the steps in. The museum is really reasonably priced, I think we paid £3 for a student ticket, and there’s plenty of info to learn about Hereford’s speciality, all of which you can see in the cider sellers. The admission priced includes samples of cider at the end, all of which you can buy in the shop. We picked up one of the Fair Oak ciders which is sparkling and it was definitely my favourite out of the samples!

For lunch, we headed to Cafe Bodega, which was perfect for a quick pit-stop. It’s a beautiful family-run cafe, close to the cathedral, offering a wide-range of choice on the menu, including my fave – a mozzarella, pesto & tomato panini!

Since we were so close to the Cathedral, this was our next point of call. I’m really starting to appreciate the beautiful architecture of a Cathedral and after we visited so many through our interailing trip, I think we might need a Cathedral checklist now! The Thomas Traherne stained glass windows have been restored and they are absolutely stunning, I probably could have sat & looked at them for hours.

Since the weather wasn’t getting better and the hotel had an early check in, we decided to head there for the afternoon. In a way, I’d say the hotel was one of the highlights of our stay because it was just stunning. Castle House hotel is Grade II listed Georgian villa, located right on the River Wye and although it is located really close to the centre, it feels like you are in the countryside. The room was beautiful, it felt classic but modern, and to be honest, I couldn’t get over the fact there was a fireplace in the bathroom. I was probably a bit too excited about the fact there were spa robes & slippers, but hey, it felt completely luxurious okay?

For dinner, we headed to Cellar Door after seeing great reviews online, and it definitely didn’t disappoint. All of their produce is locally sourced and there was more opportunity to sample Hereford’s cider. I went for a rhubarb cider, paired with Camembert to start and a Veggie burger main, you can’t go wrong really! The atmosphere in Cellar Door was really good, it was clear that this restaurant and bar attracts everyone and after spending an evening there, I can see why!

Waking up at Castle House hotel felt a bit like a dream, the sun was streaming through the windows (completely different weather to the day before!) and we had a great view of the castle grounds. Breakfast was served in a dining room overlooking their garden & the river, with plenty of veggie cooked breakfast options and continental options (ie. eat as many croissants as you want), it is safe to say I ate well over the weekend!!

Checking out of the hotel definitely felt sad, I could have got used to the luxury! There was the option to leave our bags at the hotel which was really helpful as we’d decided to walk along the river paths. We got so far, admiring the views of the river before realising it was all a bit too flooded to walk through in converse (rooky error there!). Headed to Cafe #1 for coffee & cake as a pit-stop before continuing to spend the afternoon shopping in all of Hereford’s independent shops where I picked up some really cute gifts.

Before we knew it, it was time to head home. Hereford to me was the perfect place to get away and relax, I came back to reality feeling refreshed.

Where are your favourite places to escape for a weekend away?

Im x

The Best Food & Drink Spots in Birmingham

I’ve spent many of my student days in the city of Birmingham, the city that has become my second home, & I’ve learnt over time that Brum has plenty to offer, especially food & drink wise!

Food

No.1: Digbeth Dining Club – it’s pretty well known now, but Digbeth Dining caters for all with street vendors offering a huge range of different types of food. Last time I visited, I had the Halloumi Pitta (from the Greek stand) and Ferreor Rocher Waffle & it was incredible. Friday & Saturdays are typically really busy, so I would recommend going earlier in the day to get a table if you plan on staying throughout the evening. With live music/DJs in the different venues, it’s definitely a great night!

No.2: Pitcher & Piano – yes this is a chain, but being located right on Birmingham’s canal network, makes this one a winner in my book. The menu is always reasonably priced, catering for veggie & vegan (would definitely recommend the halloumi burger or mixed bean quesadillas). If you sign up to the newsletter, it’s very regular to get drinks offers!

No.3 Cherry Reds – this is an independent bar only a stones throw from Birmingham New Street and I’ve only visited for breakfast before, but it’s one that I keep telling myself I need to go back to! There is plenty to choose from, with lots of veggie & vegan options, so whatever time of the day you can’t go wrong!

No.4 Leverton & Halls – if you’re looking for somewhere a bit outside the city centre, Leverton & Halls is located in Bourneville. Veggie breakfast is great here too (are we sensing a theme yet?), and it’s a really cute deli and locally sourced ingredients are in the heart of this place!

Drink

Coffee deserves it’s own category really, because there is so many to choose from. I’ve narrowed it down to two of my favourites, which are Yorks Bakery, again just a stones throw away from Birmingham New Street and 200 Degrees, located near Birmingham Cathedral. Both have their own independent twist, but seem to be good for getting some work done! The interiors are really nice and have very relaxed atmospheres, which is perfect for getting your coffee fix!

Pubs wise, it is The British Oak in Stirchley for me. Further out of the City Centre, but it’s only a 10ish minute train ride to Bourneville station. The British Oak is a pretty iconic pub as a Grade II listed building, teamed with the great atmosphere, it’s great place for a catch up. Most Friday nights there is live music outside in the terraced area which never fails to disappoint, especially when you’ve got the outdoor heaters (or dancing) to keep you warm. The ‘Tiki’ bar is open some nights, so there is an extensive range of cocktails too!

And there you have it, a few food & drinks spots to check out in Birmingham if you haven’t already! I’m always open to recommendations though so let me know if there’s any places I should check out too!

A City Guide to Bath

To make the most of the Christmas break from work, I headed to Bath the day after Boxing Day with my family, for time to explore and relax in the gorgeous city. As one of England’s most historical cities, there was more than enough to explore so I’ve complied a quick city guide in-case you need some inspiration of wheres best to head to!

Arriving at around lunch-time, the independent cafe’s were well and truly in full swing. There were plenty to choose from but at prime-time for lunch with 7 of us in total, we had to do a bit of a cafe tour before residing at Good Day Cafe, where there was a huge table in the middle of a very aesthetically pleasing cafe. Good Day Cafe cater for pretty much everyone and are more than willing to do so, I loved the ‘Beetroot & Feta’ wrap for a veggie food option and paired it with a Beetroot Matcha Latte to try something different.

The weather in Bath was pretty beautiful to say it was December, but even if the weather isn’t great, one of the best places to visit in Bath is the Royal Crescent. It may be a major tourist attraction, but it is definitely one of the iconic landmarks in Bath as there are thirty Grade I listed terrace houses formed in a sweeping crescent overlooking Royal Victoria Park. Perfect to walk around and admire the Georgian architecture.

To continue the walking tour, it is worth popping into the Botanical Gardens as it is very close-by to Royal Crescent. Although I can imagine spring and summer would be a much better time to visit the Botanical Gardens, it is incredibly tranquil in this neck of the woods and wandering through gives the impression that you are miles away from the city.

As it was approaching late afternoon, we headed back into the centre and visited Bath Abbey. It is a stunning piece of architecture and definitely worth walking round to admire.

It was time for a quick pit-stop cocktail at The Cosy Club, before heading back to the apartment for the evening. The Cosy Club is located in SouthGate, which is so easy to access and is very close to lots of shops in case you fancy popping in! The Cosy Club has a huge balcony with outdoor heaters, perfect for an evening drink, especially as Bath was looking very christmassy with all the lights.

We begun our second day in Bath with a visit to one of the most popular tourist attractions, The Roman Baths. Steeped in history, there is plenty to learn here and your ticket price (£14.50 for a student) includes an audio guide which will tell you pretty much everything you could ever want to know about the Roman Baths. There are plenty of exhibits as you walk through the Roman Baths, so more than enough information to choose from!

After pretty much two hours spent at the Roman Baths, it was time for a pit-stop so we headed to Sally Lunns for a late lunch. I’d heard that this was one of the best places to check out in Bath and it definitely is. Sally Lunn’s Historic Eating House and Museum is located just off York Street, around the back of Bath Abbey. The very traditional English tea-room is in the oldest house in Bath, home to the famous ‘Sally Lunn’ bun in 1680. The buns have been made with the same recipe for centuries, so it is worth noting that the recipe includes milk and eggs as a heads up, but the menu is extensive with all the savoury and sweet toppings that you can have on the bun, as well as many other options. Pesto and roasted vegetables was my choice for the bun and it was so delicious.

To finish our trip in Bath, it was one last walk around the city, down to Pulteney Bridge. There’s plenty of independent shops and cafes along the bridge, along with the views of the River Avon, so it is definitely a good place to stretch your legs before a long car journey!

Bath is a beautiful city, steeped in gorgeous architecture and history, it’s hard not to learn about this city’s past as you walk through. There’s plenty to see in the city, but I’ll have to be back to visit the Thermae Spa!

How to Interail Europe: Ljubljana & Lake Bled

I’m sure we’ve all heard of Lake Bled, the popular lake tourist destination with crystal clear water – it’s definitely ‘instagrammable’. We stayed in a small hotel in the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana, but the focus of our visit to Slovenia was for Lake Bled. I’m seriously regretting not spending longer in Slovenia – I want to see it ALL.

I can confirm that Lake Bled is as GORGEOUS as it looks on instagram. There were plenty of visitors there and I’ve read that some people find it too touristy now, but it didn’t dampen my day at all. We caught an early train from Ljubljana to Lake Bled (around 40 minutes) and train journey’s in Slovenia definitely did not disappoint with the views! Once you arrive in gorgeous Bled, there’s a short bus you can catch from the train station to the lake or an hours walk.

To begin the day, we followed the path around the perimeter of the lake first and I think that this is the best way to see every aspect of the lake. It probably takes around an hour to complete the walking loop, but it’s all signposted so easy to follow.

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Swimming – The lake is pretty much your oyster if you are a confident swimmer. We found a pontoon to sunbathe on, which was also great for jumping off into the lake! The water is so clear and beautiful to swim in, but with opportunities to do paddle-boarding, rowing, water-sports, the list is endless with things to do. If you prefer to swim with a lifeguard around, there are ‘swimming pools’ sectioned off along with an area with sun beds, music etc, but you pay to go into that area (A quick payment heads-up, it is also €1 to use the toilets around Lake Bled so have the coins handy).

Food and Drink – Take a picnic to have by the lake and you won’t regret it. But during our walk around the lake, there was a cafe signposted as the best views in Bled. You can’t go wrong with good views and a good coffee and the Bled Cream cake which was definitely bigger than we expected!

We headed back to Ljubjana in the evening to have some food and drinks in the restaurants on the riverside near Dragon Bridge. Slovenia feels like a hidden gem, whilst at the same time it well-worth the hype and I can’t wait to explore more.

How to Interail Europe: Budapest

Budapest was one of the first places on our interail list, a city that has always intrigued me. The old mixes in with the new, throughout the city centre and there are plenty of experiences not to be missed when visiting the city.

The City’s Highlights

Danube River – As we stayed on the ‘Pest’ side of the city, strolling along the Danube river was a perfect way to get our bearings with the city. There are incredible views of Buda Castle and Széchenyi Chain Bridge from this side of the river and you’ll be able to see the ‘Shoes on the Danube Bank’ monument, which is incredibly moving as a fitting tribute to those who lost their lives during the shooting in 1944.

The Hungarian Parliament Building is situated right along the riverside and the architecture is very impressive, as the world’s third largest parliament building. Luckily, the lighting enables the architecture to be admired at any time of day (especially as it reflects into the water at night) but it also makes a good way to explore the city quickly.

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Thermal Spas – Get this to the top of your Budapest bucket list pronto! After a bit of research, we decided to visit Lukács Thermal Bath – believed to have the most effective water in Budapest and I can confirm that the water transformed hands, they were smooth for DAYS afterwards. One of the reasons why we picked Lukács Baths was the reasonable price, it was €7 for a three-hour student pass. There’s plenty to explore, with the outdoor whirl pools, saunas, ice rooms, plunge pools etc, all with the historical feel to it.

Buda Hills & Castle – Just a bit different to the thermal baths is climbing Buda Hills. But the views by the Citadella at the top do make it worthwhile (as long as you’ve packed enough water). To get that bit further up to Buda Castle, using the funicular railway is a good idea as the castle grounds have plenty to explore – I think we may have spent about half a day wandering around.

The famous Citadella statue

Food

For every hummus lover alike, Hummus Bar is the place to go! The options to have with hummus are endless, but we both tried the falafel bowl and enjoyed the huge stack of pitta bread that came with it. It’s interailing budget friendly

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Drinks

Budapest is, of course, well-known for it’s selection of ruin bars and you’ll never be far from one. Puder Barszinhaz might not be the most popular ruin bar, but it offers some incredibly cheap cocktails whilst you’re sat in a beautiful interior.

How to Interail Europe: Vienna

Vienna. It’s a breathtaking city, rich in history, music, palaces and museums!

Where to Stay Do Step Inn Central Hostel was probably one of the best hostels during out trip, aligning well with our budget and it was really close to the train station to avoid carrying our rucksacks for too long. There’s a great kitchen to use and supermarkets are close by – we took the opportunity to cook in both nights and save money! It is about a 20 minute walk into the centre of Vienna.

The City’s Highlights

St Stephen’s Cathedral – This is honestly the most beautiful cathedral I have seen. It is known for its intricately tiled roof, standing out in the centre of the city, but as we entered inside the cathedral, it was definitely a ‘wow’ moment. The architecture was stunning, the organ sounded beautiful, creating an incredible atmosphere within the Cathedral.

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Hofburg Palace – This is one of the biggest palace complexes in the world and is now home to the Spanish Riding School (which you can see a glimpse of!) and numerous museums. Across the road from the Hofburg Palace, there is also MuseumsQuartier so you will not be short of museums to visit in this area of the city! I’ve heard that you can purchase tickets to see a concert inside Hofburg Palace but it wasn’t something that we did!

Schönbrunn Palace – This palace is considered Austria’s most significant cultural monument and it was another ‘wow’ moment – no pictures will do this palace justice. The grounds are EXTENSIVE and by walking around, you can admire the palace from pretty much every angle. As you walk down the Great Parterre, you’ll find the Neptune Fountain – symbolising how monarchs controlled the destiny of their nations. The gardens continue up to the ‘Gloriette’, where the views of the palace and the city are actually incredible.

Sigmund Freud Museum – There are so many museums based in Vienna, you have to pick one really. The Sigmund Freud Museum is based in his original apartment, which was really interesting to read into parts of his work and observe them as such. The amount of information is slightly overwhelming, it felt like I was reading a huge essay throughout the visit.

Cafe Central – This is a popular destination, but it lives up to the hype. Most likely you will have to wait for a table inside, but they are really efficient at doing so. The interior decor is stunning, a very authentic and classic feel and you might not believe me, but the coffee is worth the price!

Belvedere Palace Gardens – This was a pit stop after checking out of the hostel, before the next train (onto Budapest!). Spending a few hours sunbathing and admiring at a palace was a great way to relax. Inside the palace, there are numerous exhibitions which might be worth checking out!

There is PLENTY to see and do in Vienna and we managed to pack quite a bit into two days so hopefully this gives a good idea of how you can see lots of Vienna in a short space of time!