Posted in Dining out

A Night at the Ivy Manchester

Back in January I booked us in the Ivy at Manchester for the bank holiday weekend. The other half and I do not go out as much as we should so I declared that when we do go out we should go to the nicest places (I’m not daft, ha ha!) I have heard good things about The Ivy and let me tell you… with good reason, it’s amazing. As soon as you approach the door it’s clear to see attention to detail is not lacking. First off the door men are wearing fabulous floral suit jackets. I stopped outside the entrance for a quick photo.

The Ivy consists of not one but three restaurants – the Brassiere, the Asia and the Roof Top Garden. Our booking was for the Asia on the middle floor. Stepping out of the lift and looking left into the restaurant was an instant WOW moment… just look at that illuminated emerald green floor, honestly the photo doesn’t do it justice.

The Ivy decor

As we were early we positioned ourselves at the bar to indulge in some cocktails and soak up the atmosphere. There was a DJ playing music which added to the cool vibe, it was pretty loud for a restaurant but I quite liked it. The decor was vibrant and obviously oriental in style, it looked as if no expense had been spared. Surprisingly the cocktails were normal price around Β£10-Β£15 each and very nicely presented.

Yummy Cocktails

After half an hour we were seated at our table and handed the menus… but never mind the menu just look at that napkin ring!

Ivy Asia Menu and napkin ring

The menu is designed for sharing like tapas… the idea being you choose a few dishes from each section. The lighter dishes being at the top through to heavier dishes and finally dessert. We didn’t find it hard to pick at all… it was a mouth watering menu to say the least. My other half was quite concerned about the lack of knife and fork but I was too distracted by the cute fish the chopsticks were in and the salt and pepper octopus.

Attention to detail at The Ivy

Anyway onto the food! We started with shaved vegetable salad, avocado and miso. Now I have to confess I’m not a salad girl… I would never normally pick it when out but it was a great choice.

Shaved vegetable salad

Next up was yellowfin tuna tataki, citrus and white Soy. Oh my gosh the combination was perfect, the flavours were divine! I wished there was more…

Yellow fin tuna tataki

Butter fried milk chicken would have been our next choice however it was sold out so we settled for fried chicken gyzo with truffle sauce and it did not disappoint.

Fried chicken gyzo

Onto the last two dishes… slow cooked pork belly with asian barbecue sauce, simply mouth watering.

Slow cooked pork belly

Then salmon fillet teriyaki, yummy! We accompanied these with some egg fried rice and steamed broccoli.

Salmon teriyaki

Now if you don’t do dessert I’m afraid we can’t be friends ha ha! I LOVE dessert and will always have it even if nobody else chooses to. So last up was red dragon dessert and yes it was every bit fabulous as it sounds… dark chocolate and honeycomb… oh my!

Red dragon dessert

Bizarrely I feel the need to mention the ladies bathroom. I had been told it was really quite something and it was. A statue was the centre piece and the celling was adorned with flowers. Each toilet had it’s own blush pink marble vanity unit. It felt very glamorous to say the least…of course it was full of girls taking photos!

Ladies bathroom at The Ivy

A night at the Ivy… well what can I say? I think you can tell that I was a big fan. The decor, atmosphere, food, cocktails… I loved it all and it’s safe to say I will return. If your in Manchester you should definitely check it out but be sure to book in advance.

Have you dined in any of the Ivy restaurants? Were you impressed? let me know in the comments. I would love some other nice restaurant recommendations too…

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

To book the ivy – https://theivymanchester.com/

Posted in Personal Development

You can do anything but not everything…

You can do anything but not everything… something I realised off the back of my digital detox weekend a couple of weeks back.  As an ambitious 17 year old I launched my own dance academy and have never looked back since. Driven by passion and a desire to be successful I have been teaching and running my business for almost 20 years (yikes!)

Too much self help?

For some time now I’ve been delving into the world of business, productivity and self improvement by watching YouTube videos, listening to audio books and reading. But could too much self help be a bad thing? I was starting to feel like I was under achieving and became so overwhelmed that I felt like I was going to have a breakdown.

Is one business not enough?

Not only was I single handedly running my business I was also in the process of setting up two more. A dance wear company and a fitness one both driven through the platform instagram.  Heading for burn out I had to take a step back and think what am I ultimately trying to achieve here? You can do anything but is trying to do everything a mistake?

You see everything comes at a cost and running my dance business with over 200 pupils is a mammoth task alone. I am busy enough already so why do I now feel the need to add more? Because I’m literally being brainwashed. Statements like “everyone should be making money online these days” had really got in my head and I started thinking I should be investing in a second business and making a second income.

Time for me?

This was further fuelled by analysing other peoples lives on social media! I know, what a nightmare… now I won’t go into that as that’s a whole nother blog post. But my impending breakdown was coming from a place of feeling I don’t have any time to enjoy the simple things in life. I might go to yoga, indulge in the odd massage and facial but I literally run in and out of these squeezing them into my otherwise manic day. Bottom line… I just don’t stop!

No headspace…

My mind was constantly in overdrive with all the tasks I was failing to do. If I tried to take time out feelings of guilt would creep in massively. It actually got that bad that when I was with other people I was never fully present. I might have been there in person but my mind was literally in a world of its own and I had no head space. I convinced myself I didn’t have time to just chill out at home… a day of doing nothing was just not on my agenda. Is it any wonder I was heading for burn out!! I started to wonder have I actually become addicted to being busy?!

Time to re-evaluate

Breaking point came when I realised that my situation wasn’t going to change. If I keep pursuing ideas and striving to be better I will forever be stuck in a place of not being satisfied and feeling stressed. I want to be able to look forward to a day just chilling out, being fully present with family, not feeling guilty that I’m not doing the million and one things in my head.

I am enough…

So I’ve made big changes… I’ve realised I am already killing it. I am successful and it’s time to own that.  I have created a lovely life and I should be proud of myself. I’m doing what I always set out to do and I love it as much now as when I was 17, not many people can say that. I’m where I’m suppose to be, it’s okay… I don’t need to try and take on the world. You can do anything but not everything.

Am I reaching my full potential? Maybe not… maybe I have got more to give but is it worth the stress and time? Like I said everything comes at a cost. A cost to your mental health and happiness is just not worth it. It’s time for me to just be… enjoy my life as it and start to reconnect with the things I love. Not constantly be pursuing another dream. My life is passing me by whilst I’m trying to build an even better one! Right now for the first time in ages I feel at peace with myself and it feels amazing.

Can you relate to this? Are you constantly consumed by your own thoughts and ideas and never really present? Maybe it’s time to free yourself from a tortuous cycle… remember, you are enough.

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Posted in Disney

Top Tips for Disneyland Paris

You’ve saved up, you’ve booked the trip, you’ve bought a Mickey tshirt, your excited! But what more do you need to do? Research! Knowing my top tips for Disneyland Paris will make your trip more enjoyable.

What makes me qualified to advise you… 6 trips in total to the park. On my last trip I spoke to several couples who were relatively bewildered and stressed with their first time Disney experience. Whilst Disney is portrayed to be magical it can also be overwhelming so let me help manage your expectations and give you advice!

15 Top Tips for Disneyland Paris

Top Tips Number 1 – Stay in Disney

First of my top tips -get the most out of your trip and stay in Disney. The magic hours are worth it alone (see below) Disney offer a range of hotels and I’ve stayed in the cheapest Santa Fe most times and Newport Bay once. I keep going back to Santa Fe because, well I’m not in my room… I’m in Disney! If you like me and will spend all your time in the park maybe a higher end hotel is not worth the extra splurge. If your combining a trip to Disney and want to head into Paris no problem you can catch the train right outside the Disney gates anyway!

Top Tip 2 – Two days is not enough

People say you can do Disneyland Paris in two days… I beg to differ. There are two parks – the Magic Kingdoms and Hollywood studios. A day in each in theory would be ideal but honestly to do everything it’s just not possible. The studios is a more manageable size but it has many shows which will see you waiting approximately an hour before they start if it’s busy. The Magic Kingdom definitely requires more than a day to fully absorb all on offer.

In my opinion the perfect time is four days. This will give you time to explore both parks fully and at leisurely pace. You have time to see all the shows, parades and ride your favourites again. Sometimes it’s nice to just be in Disney. We sat off by the castle on our last trip listening to the music playing, people watching and just enjoying the magical feeling of being in there.

Top Tip 3 – Dress comfy!

Okay so I did a whole other blog post about this – what to wear to Disney so it might be worth checking out. But comfy is the name of the game and trainers win the day. I actually wore a long skirt one day as we were going to venture into Paris and I wanted some nice pictures there but we ended up staying in Disney. The skirt was so annoying!! It got caught on a few rides as I exited etc and was so impractical! I went back to the room to change into leggings.

Top tip - wear comfy clothing to Disney

Top Tip 4 – Get the Disneyland Paris app

You can still pick up paper maps at the entrance of the park but Disneyland Paris also has its own app now. It’s definitely worth having as everything you need to know is on there. One of the best things on it is it shows the wait times for rides. We found these to be relatively accurate most the time but there was one time we darted across the park to big thunder mountain as it said 15 minutes only to find in reality it was 50!

Top Tips number 5 – Magic hours are golden, use them!

So your staying in Disney and they tell you about magic hours. This is when all Disney hotel guests are permitted to the park an hour prior to the general public. DO NOT MISS MAGIC HOURS! The trip we’ve just been on we arrived in the park after flying at mid day and it was hell. Over an hour queue for everything!

Head for the popular rides

Fast forward to the second day when we were up and out and in the park for our magic hours and we got on several rides. Do your home work about popular rides and use your magic hours to experience them with little to no queue. Not all rides are open straight away but a good selection are…in Fantasyland Peter Pans flight is a must! Later in the day the queue for that is always in excess of 70 minutes!!

You might be tired come day 2 or 3 and the prospect of hearding your kids to the gate for magic hours might not seem appealing but better this and do several rides then head out later with the crowds and queue endlessly with winging kids anyway. Some days we went back to our hotel for an hour around 2/3pm and had a rest – another bonus of being in Disney accommodation.

Top tip - queue for Buzz Lightyears laser blast early

Top Tip 6 – Single riding saves time

Some of the busier rides have the option of single rider. This is a god send trust me… take Ratatouille for instance… at one point the queue was 140 minutes… single rider 25 minutes. On rides your rarely talking to the person your next to, your enjoying the ride!

By doing single rider you will queue way less and ride much more. You still queue together, ride separate, then you both get off within 5 minutes of each other anyway. Sometimes you end up in the same cart too as one single rider is at the front and one at the back. One thing to mention though I think 7 is the youngest you can do this.

Top Tip 7 – Dining tips for Disneyland Paris

Where to start with top tips for dining… hmmm. Okay food in Disney is often hard work. Firstly plan and book your evening meal or you will end up eating fast food options. Bistro Chez Remi is hugely popular (see photo below) and any character dining too. But you need to book just somewhere if you want to eat something substantial.

Despite several Disney trips we really messed up this last time… on the last day we had no meal booked and put eating off in favour of fun! By 8:45pm we were starving and pretty much all the restaurants in the park shut bar a few dining options on Main Street. Nightmare! We queued 50 minutes for a hotdog and fries at Casey corner. Arrghhhhh

Dining plans… yes or no?

With reference to dining plans I’m very on the fence about these. Often they are added as ‘free’ but I would never pay separately for them. Why? They just aren’t convenient. Your tied into certain restaurants along with certain choices, not good with fussy kids! However dining in Disney does not come cheap so they may be a good option for some.

Breakfast in the hotel is the best choice if you can make it prior to magic hours. Deciding to get breakfast in the parks on a dining plan will see you stood in a huge queue and unless you want a total carb fest, avoid. Buffet restaurants are the best option for evening meal because then you have lots of choice (yep handy for when your kid decides they don’t like something!)

Book Bistro Chez Remi in advance

Dining in the Disney Village

The Disney Village offers lots of dining options too and the food is better than in Disney I would say. The village gets busy at peak dining times. Rainforest cafe remains a firm favourite with families but you can be waiting a while for a table. Bonus is they don’t take bookings so you stand a chance of getting in if you don’t mind the wait. My son has always loved it in there… especially when the pretend storm hits, it’s a cool option for kids and the food is a reasonable standard.

Top Tip 8 – Don’t miss out on character dining

Character dining is a must and you can do it in the Disney village or in the parks. We’ve always chosen to do the breakfast.. I love dining in Plaza Gardens right by the castle in Magic Kingdom. The breakfast is buffet style with plenty on offer for all tastes. Whilst you get your morning fill 5 characters will come around the restaurant to interact with you and pose for pictures.

No trip to Disney is complete without character interaction… it doesn’t matter how old you are despite saying you won’t you inevitably will find yourself hugging a character. Queues in the park to meet characters are long. For Mickey Mouse and the princesses you can expect to queue over an hour. Character dining eliminates this and it’s totally worth the cost and maximising your time.

Top tip - book character dining

Top Tip 9 – When and where to shop

Disney have merchandise nailed and I am a sucker for wanting to buy it! Your kids will want stuff inevitably so maybe set a budget per child. Princess dresses don’t come cheap most are priced over €50. If your savvy buy one at home to bring. Dependent on when you go a coat may be essential therefore covering the expensive dress you just bought! I’ve just been in April and most days were still coat wearing weather.

Mainstreet USA shopping

You will find shops through out Disney but the main place to shop is Main Street USA. I love browsing the stores here but there is so much stuff and it’s easy to loose each other if it’s busy as one store often connects into another. Shops on Main Street are open after the park closes for one hour. If your on a short trip save your shopping until then but be aware it’s VERY busy at this time. Just to mention if you are staying in a Disney and make purchases before 3pm you can send them to be collected at your hotel- perfect!

Disney Village shopping

Aside from in the parks you can also shop outside in the Disney Village. This is open late and most people take advantage of that and shop after park hours so that’s when it is busy. In the day it’s relatively quite and nice for a browse if you can spare the time. Much of what you will see is the same as in the parks though anyway. I LOVE the Disney gallery – be sure to check it out.

Shopping in Disney

Top Tips number 10 – Watch the parade it’s magical!

Nothing will make you feel more Disney like than the parade. But get your spot early! You will see people starting to sit down on the kerbs of the parade route at least an hour before. It’s worth the wait! Choose a spot and rest those feet! It’s advisable to get a drink and snack prior to sitting down away from the parade route… queues get silly long for things like popcorn on Main Street at this time. Just to note, if you have already seen the parade then it is a great time to get on rides as queues can drop down a little whilst it is on.

Where to watch

You will get a great view of the parade from anywhere as long as you get there early. But my advice would be to get on a corner then people don’t crane there necks to see what’s coming. Also be careful where the sun is… you want it behind you so it’s not in your eyes. If you can face the castle too that’s a magical bonus!

Top tip - for a perfect parade view

Top Tips no. 11 – Don’t miss the fireworks!

Nobody does fireworks like Disney… it will forever ruin your firework expectations. I’ve seen them so many times and they still bring tears to my eyes. You can view them from anywhere in front of the castle right down Main Street. They project images on the castle and also on fountains that come up either side. Then of course they have the lasers and fireworks.

The best view

I find the best view to be standing behind a flower bed in front of the castle. You don’t want to be too close but not too far. Further down the street you will struggle to see the fountains. Standing behind a flower bed ensures that if someone puts a kid on there shoulders your view isn’t totally ruined as there is space between you.

Top Tip 12 – Advice on taking the perfect photos

When I come home from Disney I always get asked the same question… “why is it so quiet?” It’s hard to get perfect photos in Disney when it’s busy but not impossible. I would advise on one morning of your trip being there for magic hours and heading straight to the castle to get a picture with less people in. As soon as the gates open to the general public you can kiss goodbye to castle pic you dreams of. But also be clever with your angles too… sometimes you can still get a great photo when it’s busy if you experiment.

Take castle photos first thing

Top Tips no. 13 – Don’t get bored in queues

Queuing is tiring and boring and just because your in Disney that doesn’t change. You need to be prepared for this with kids. In this day and age with smart phones and iPads it’s easier than ever to pass the time. But do you really want your kid absorbed in a screen in Disney? I’m not saying don’t do it but use it sparingly.

Games I love still are rock, paper, scissors I spy, games where you describe a character and the other person guesses who it is. We also played an alphabet game where we had to both think of a Disney character for each letter! That was a good one and really got us racking our brains.

Top Tips no. 14 – You will need a portable charger

One full charge on your phone will no way last you a day in Disney. Between taking pictures, videos and your kids rinsing your battery playing games you will need a portable charger. My portable charger would supply two full charges which was handy. Don’t forget to charge it up in the hotel room though as well as your phone between uses… something I didn’t do one night, doh!

Last Top Tip 15 – Take a refillable water bottle

Drinks are over priced in Disneyland Paris and water is no exception. On our recent trip I had a slight meltdown when I all I wanted was a bottle of water and queues were mega everywhere!! Take a refillable bottle as the water is totally safe to drink in Paris and it will save you a fortune and you won’t get caught short like I did yelling “all I want is a bloody drink!!”

Final words…

So I hope my top tips for Disneyland Paris make your trip more enjoyable. Remember it’s going to be busy so you just need to embrace that, so do what you can and don’t forget to just enjoy being there too. Disney done right is a truly magical experience and you will always look back on it with a smile.

Character photos make the best memories

Do you have another tip or two? Let me know any Disneyland Paris tips you think I’ve missed! Got a blog post about Disney? post the link to yours in the comments as I would love to read it.

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Book the trip of your dreams right here – www.disneylandparis.com

Posted in Disney, Holiday Happiness

What to Wear to Disney!

If you’ve booked a trip to see the worlds most famous mouse I bet you’ve googled what to wear to Disney?! Planning and packing outfits is almost as much fun as going. With several trips to both Paris and Florida under my belt as well as a Disney cruise I am a real Disney kid… if I’ve not got a trip booked I’m planning one in my head. I simply can not resist the magic of it all and embracing my inner child… after all I am a pretend grown up ha ha!

What I wear to Disney!

I love fashion, I love Disney and as I’m heading there tomorrow I thought what a great time to share Disney outfits with you guys… so if you’ve been wondering what to wear on your trip of a lifetime perhaps I can be a of a little help. Now my looks here are ones I am considering for Disneyland Paris. Warmer climates may require less clothes, shorts instead of jeans or joggers, ditch the jackets! Just to mention as well Mickey is my favourite so my looks are inspired by him. Anyway I hope I provide you with some inspiration…

Outfit 1.

What to wear to Disney

ALWAYS choose comfy footwear for Disney… trainers or converse rule! Classic Minnie ears will forever be a firm favourite of mine. Teamed with a cute Mickey Crop top and ripped jeans. The shirt can be worn open or tied round my waist when too hot, win win!

Outfit 2.

Disney outfit and Nike air

How cute is this t-shirt dress? (It’s folded under for the photo, it’s not that short in real life, thankfully) Throw on a cute denim jacket and why not add some Disney badges? team with some high top trainers and your good to go! I will totally be wearing frilly socks with this too,  yep… you are never too old for those! πŸ˜‰

Outfit 3.

Dressing for Disney

You can’t beat a simple joggers and hoodie combo… I will be wearing a tee under this too incase I get warm. A small backpack is perfect to carry a few belongings round with you, keep those hands free! Note the cap too… not a Disney one unfortunately as I might pick one up in the park. Caps are great when you’ve had a few days there and you can’t be bothered washing your hair! Rock that cap girl!

Outfit 4.

Disney vans

A sweatshirt and joggers combo… had to get the ears in again ha ha! Check out the trainers, they are my favourite EVER… covered in Disney princesses from Vans (some time ago now) A princess tee with these trainers would have been perfect… Etsy have loads of cool ones but I left it too late to order, boooo! Order at least a month prior to leaving.

Outfit 5.

Disney wear

What to wear to Disney? Leggings… seriously though in my opinion there is nothing comfier than leggings! These Mickey face leggings are a few years old now but I still adore them. A little too loud you may think but trust me that’s not a thing in Disney. Be confident and go for bold prints but keep the other half of your outfit plain. What’s round the neck? A Disney pin trading lanyard of course!

Outfit 6.

Mickey ears and Disney converse

Ohhh I LOVE this one! I already had these converse so finding Mickey ears to match was perfect. There are literally hundreds of them to choose from online… it’s totally a booming business. It’s a good job I already had the shoes or I would have struggled to pick! Look on Etsy and choose some ears first to work your outfit around. Denim skirts are super trendy and comfy for a girly Disney look.

Outfit 7.

Disney outfit inspo

Want to do Disney but more subtly why not accessorise with a simple Mickey scarf? I picked this up in the Disney Village and I love wearing it at home too. The uber cute purse is from Cath Kidston, they are constantly releasing Disney themed items these days. Boots instead of trainers here but they are comfy, well worn ones… NEVER do new shoes to Disney. I would probably wear a leather jacket with this too.

Outfit 8.

Chic Disney looks

A more sophisticated Disney look that I love! Isn’t this the most adorable Mickey shirt ever?! Best worn with jeans and the red bag ties in nicely with Mickeys shorts! Sunglasses are always a good idea… sunglasses make you look fabulous! Hide those Disney bags with them… What bags? Trust me… if you do Disney properly you come back shattered.

Where to shop for Disney! (UK)

Seriously there is no shortage of Disney apparel on the high street and online these days. You will be spoilt for choice! Here’s some of my favourite shopping spots for it…

Primark – The super value high street store is full of Disney stuff these days. Definitely your first port of call. You will be sure to find lots of clothing relating to the latest film release as well as other bits and stuff for the home too.

Forever 21 – One of my favourite stores ever! There’s always some Disney stuff lurking in here. Last year I got a fabulous Mickey swimsuit ever from this store! Be sure to check it out online too as there’s often more on offer.

Zara – Quite often do Disney pieces. The denim Minnie skirt above I picked up in Zara a few years ago now. I have also seen them do jeans and denim shorts with Mickey on.

Cath Kidston – The latest collection is Bambi inspired. But previous ones have featured the likes of Mickey, Snow White and Alice in Wonderland. We all know Cath Kidstons style and collaborated with Disney it’s uber cute!

Boohoo – There’s always Disney things lurking on online at Boohoo and great value too! Both the t-shirt dress above and the red hoodie came from there. I love a bit of Boohoo and Disney!

ASOS – Another online winner! Plenty of Disney style on here, sometimes pricey for more designer items. Obviously ASOS features other brands so it a great all round one to look at. Disney vans can be bought on here… quite often they go in the sale too. I’ve totally got my eye on some more!

So there we have it… what to wear to Disney! Were there any looks you loved? Now it’s time to get back to packing my case but what will I wear in the end? Make sure you stick around to see what I get up to in Disney and my what made it to my final wardrobe!

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Posted in Take time for you

Ageing Gracefully

At the minute I’m literally at war with myself over ageing gracefully. This wasn’t really something that has bothered me properly until the last 6-12m. It seems I hit 36 and wham every photo I took close up I just didn’t like. I’ve always had compliments on my smile but now it would seem my smile is producing a look I don’t like around my eyes… crows feet. Sometimes I also notice the slight onset of what I now know are called the 11 lines between my eyebrows. Ageing is inevitable but how well we will deal with it is up to us.

Ageing gracefully so far

Skincare…

I have always been fairly good with skincare but admittedly not so great with sunscreen… favouring a tan for vanity reasons (come on everyone looks better with a tan!) which I now am wondering if I had been more vigilant applying protection would some of my lines have been less, Who knows? But what I do know is I’m now faced with a choice moving forward and a tough one it is.

To Age Gracefully or Succumb to Aesthetically Changing my Face?

I am a fan of trying to look my best. I have an active job, I go to the gym, yoga and in the warmer months I love bike riding. I want to be physically be fit and healthy for the rest of my life. My face is no different, I want to feel confident and look good. But like a lot of people as I’m getting older I’m starting to feel more conscious about myself.

It’s no secret stars like Kyle Minogue, Lindsay Lohan and Cameron Diaz have dabbled down the botox and fillers route but have seemingly switched back to a more natural approach and quite rightly so… they just looked kinda weird! It would seem botox and fillers are falling out of fashion in the celeb world and ageing more gracefully is in or have they just found better aesthetic physicians helping them to maintain a more natural look? Hmmm. Back to real life though and I know many people who have turned to these to turn back the clock. How do I know? because it’s obvious… shiny foreheads, eyes that hardly move at the edges when they smile and in some cases their faces look… well, just different.

Cameron Diaz before and after filler

Confession…

I’m to am no stranger…. I’ve had lip fillers, in fact I’ve been having them for about 5 years. Just 1ml once a year and do you know what… I love them! They have given me a top lip that I basically didn’t have. I’m told you can’t tell by most people which is how I think it should be. A little enhancement is not necessarily always a bad thing in my opinion. Sometimes I think would a little botox too really be such a bad thing?

Alternative Ageing Solutions I’m Trying…

Okay so this is where I’m at… I’ve tried PRP, aka the vampire facial, which I loved. I have regular Caci hydrotone facials which uses micro current rollers and a collagen infused mask. Finally the latest one I’ve indulged in is a Comit facial, which uses microdermabrasion, oxygen and a microchannelling (needle) roller. Right now I’ve decided to alternate between the Caci and the Comcit every 3 weeks. Let me tell you this looking good malarkey is all adding up.

At Home…

After reading rave reviews about drops of youth from the Body Shop and a few personal recommendations I’ve recently added them and the sleep mask to my routine (I will report back.) You will also be glad to know I’ve purchased some sunscreen to use every single day. Yep! I can’t moan about ageing if I’m not doing one of the most fundamental things in preventing it. I drink plenty water most days and my diet is good 80% of the time.

Natural products to age gracefully

Conclusion…

I might have some wrinkles round my eyes when I smile but is it really the end of the world? hey, at least I’m always smiling! I’m healthy, I have a roof over my head, food in my tummy and a loving family and friends. We all have days when we don’t feel we look our best. Maybe when you snapped that selfie the lighting was bad, maybe your skin didn’t look plump because you were a bit dehydrated. So what? You never ultimately look as bad as you imagine you do. Be such a good soul that people crave your vibe and don’t even notice the imperfections you see on your face!

Ageing is a Journey

Everyone’s on their own ageing journey and some deal with it better than others. It’s hardly surprising when we live in this seemingly insta perfect, red carpet, filtered world that’s giving us unattainable ideas of beauty. Am I going to wake up tomorrow completely not worried about ageing? No… but I will keep working on that. I will inevitably remain curious and open minded to the latest treatments in my quest to age gracefully. But do I want to look completely ageless? Absolutely not. For me it’s about finding that fine line of looking good for your age and not crossing it.

I once saw the following quote…

True quote It’s a great one to remember…

How are you feeling about ageing? Will you do so gracefully or are you open minded to what’s out there? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Digital Detox Weekend: Time to Unplug!

iPhones and androids… remember the days we didn’t have these? Do you remember a time before mobile phones even? leaving home and not being contactable? I do! Those were the days… ha ha! Having to be on time or literally leaving someone stood waiting for you. None of this last minute changing arrangements or running late texting. Was being uncontactable really such a bad thing? surely we were more efficient and organised?! Now in our fast paced world a digital detox is totally a thing.

Digital Detox… Back to the Days When we Were Unplugged!

I have a love hate relationship with my phone… I can’t imagine trying to live without it now but I look back to the days when I didn’t have one as simpler. Waiting for someone to call the house phone… or calling them hoping you catched them in. Knocking on for your friends… kids these days make all there arrangements via WhatsApp, snapchat or text first.

No Headspace…

I accept technology is a wonderful thing… but when I’m swamped with emails, texts, WhatsApp’s in several groups, even the pressure of social media presence (necessary I think if you have a business) it’s all pretty exhausting. Like most people these days I am never completely uncontactable. If I try to be I suddenly remember something I’ve not replied to or worry I’ve missed something important. Definitely time to unplug.

Digital Detox: Time to unplug

Digital Detox Weekend

Unplugging on a weekend away with my son in a waterfront lodge was the answer… a digital detox weekend. The game Fortnite is life it would seem for a ten year old these days so I knew he wouldn’t be happy . I let him know prior that we would be  ‘unplugging!’ No Nintendo switch for him, no going on the phone for me! He accepted it pretty easily to be fair. If I had taken it off him there we would have had serious issues but because I set my stall prior he knew where he was at.

The Perfect Setting

The Waterfront Lodge in Nuneaton turned out to be a little hidden gem. A newly built luxury Bed and Breakfast, over looking to the lake and countryside at the heart of the Midlands.

Waterside lodge

A warm welcome was granted us on our arrival late in the afternoon. I instantly loved what they had done with the lodge; beautifully finished and equipped with all the mod cons. Lights on sensors, a button to switch to bath or shower and much to my sons delight… Alexa. Neither of us had used one before so our unplugged weekend could be about to go down the plug hole ha ha!

But no… I’m pleased to report I stood my ground (mostly) he talked to Alexa only why I indulged in a bath. He quickly learned he could get on YouTube (this Alexa had a screen!) to watch lasarbeam (I so don’t understand the mentality of watching other people play games… Or watching other people watch funny videos, I must be getting old!) but bath done I told Alexa to shut up and she did!

Wine with a view

Ahhh peace… Almost!

Outside on the veranda it was lovely and tranquil drinking my wine. That was except for his protests that it was boring – another reminder of how technology has ruined kids these days… they crave that constant stimulation.  I’m well aware he’s no different to most kids his age though in this sense. As dusk descended to the song of birds it was pretty peaceful watching the fish jumping out of the water and I eventually distracted him with chat about friends and school.

You Can’t Beat Board Games!

Born in the 80’s I am a lover of board games… I do wonder how many households still indulge in the pleasure of a Saturday night family board game session? Old fashioned my son may call them but once we actually play he is engrossed. The Game Of Life will forever be a favourite of mine.. I find it engaging all the way round and not never ending like monopoly can be. This was the game of choice for our screen free Saturday evening.

Digital Detox playing board games instead

See this is what I wanted… quality time. Yes he won! But not because I let him… we are both very competitive.

After a lovely sleep I woke really early on account of light flooding in the room but as we went to bed at a decent hour I wasn’t too bothered. Confession… I then started writing this blog post your reading right now! Technically not unplugged completely but whilst my son was snoozing away and I was feeling inspired it was a good opportunity to blog – something I love and don’t have enough time for lately.

Finally Feels Like Spring

Although it’s only March the sun was shining… it was not that warm but I quickly regretted not bringing my yoga mat. Yoga on the private veranda overlooking the lake would have been the perfect start to Sunday! At 9:30 breakfast was served and eating outside for the first time this year made it finally feel like spring (except when I was stressing because the napkins blew in the water!)

Waking up fresh

Checking out mid morning we headed to a surprise go karting session I had booked. I actually realised I had never done it before?! How can this be? Super exciting. I will save the details for another blog post as we had so much fun! It was great to find something we both equally loved… go karting is definitely on the future activity list.

To finish the day we went to the skatepark now I have to confess this would usually be somewhere I take the opportunity to sit off and catch up on whatever stuff I think I’m missing on my phone whilst momentarily glancing at my son with a smile. Not today… I had bought him a new scooter (early birthday present) and he proudly showed off his stunts. Then tried to teach me! We had a real good laugh together.

Outdoor fun instead

Digital Detox Accomplished

My digital detox weekend complete, I was feeling revived by Sunday evening. It really got me thinking about how much I feel harassed by my phone and being socially present. It’s no secret but sometimes you are definitely missing the true magic of a moment through trying to share it with the world. Digitally detoxing has really opened my eyes… moving forward I am definitely going to be more conscious of how much I’m using my phone and when.

Have you ever tried a digital detox? I would love to hear how it went… if not you should definitely try unplugging for a while and connect with the real world.

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

If you are liking the sound of the waterfront lodges you can check them out here – https://www.thewaterfrontlodges.co.uk

Posted in Holiday Happiness

20 Reasons You Should Book a Disney Cruise


Here I share 20 reasons why you should book a Disney cruise but really there are too many to truly mention… I mean anything Disney is always a good idea! In 2015 I was lucky enough to go on a Disney cruise. It was some time ago now but it is still embedded in my mind as one of my best trips ever. Disney cruise ships really are something special.

Disney Cruise Line We cruised on the Disney Fantasy for a week around the western Caribbean; stopping off in Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Cozumel and Disney’s private island in the Bahamas – Castaway Cay. This is based on my experience on the Fantasy but I hear all the ships are out of this world.

1. You Will Feel Like Royalty on a Disney Cruise

From the moment you get on the ship you are treated like royalty. Waltzing down the red carpet to board whilst they announce you by name to a round of applause may not be everyone’s cup of tea but lets just say you definitely feel special. Your waiters get to know you and your preferences personally as they rotate restaurants with you each night. Your stateroom host quickly learns your names and greets you with a smile always asking if there is any more they can do for you.

2. The Interior is a Work of Art

I don’t even know where to start here but the attention to detail on a Disney cruise is something else. Right from when you step into the ship’s stunning three-story atrium, decked in regal shades of gold and blue with fine details adorning every element inside your know no expense has been spared. It’s an entrance one might expect in a grand hotel… as a first time cruiser I was in awe. From the intricate mosaics around the ship, the themed restaurants, to the beautiful theatre. There is too much to mention… its simply grand and exquisite through out.

Disney Cruise Interior

3. Door Decorating Fun

Yes this is a thing! Be sure to decorate your stateroom door Disney style. I read this before going so I was prepared. Disney don’t like you to use tape so be sure to use magnets, the doors are metal. You can make life easy by purchasing pre made designs on Etsy (just search Disney cruise door magnets) but I’ve always loved crafting so I had a go myself. It’s fun to explore the ship and look at all the designs.

4. Magic Portholes

So we had an interior stateroom but it was suffice. I mean are you really going to sit in your room on a Disney Cruise? It was a little tricky getting ready some nights with a hyperactive 7 year old though ha ha! I must mention here the magic porthole… a β€œwindow” to the world with a real-time view outside the ship. But that’s not all… Disney characters appear in the porthole too! Yes you might just see Tinkerbell fly across… I was freaking out spotting them all. Well done Disney, a great addition for those who can’t stretch the budget to an outside cabin ha ha! I would totally book an interior room again.

Disney Cruise Stateroom

5. Delicious Dining Experiences

Ohhh the restaurants… guests have many options to choose from when it comes to dining. You are given a dining rotation and depending on the length of your cruise you may visit some restaurants more than once. You can opt out on some nights like we did if you would prefer a more casual affair like Cabanas. It was nice to have a break from dressing for dinner plus whilst all the guests were dining we enjoyed numerous goes on the aquaduck without queuing. All the restaurants were amazing, not just the food but the decor too. None were quite as delightful as Animators palate though – you get to draw your own character and watch in delight as it comes alive as part of the show.

Disney Cruise Dining

6. Adult Only Dining

If you want to experience fine dining (I should say even finer dining really) head to one of the adult only restaurants – Palo or Remy. We dined in Palo on our last night and the food was divine… the service again was impeccable. The waiter was very patient explaining things on the menu to us. The setting was very serene and had we of made a reservation prior to getting on the cruise we could have enjoyed a view of the sunset out of the wall of windows (book in advance!) but none the less I fully recommend it anyway.

7. Deck 11 For Sun & Fun

I have to confess I had a slight love hate relationship with deck 11, ha ha! It’s mayhem for parents, heaven for kids! This is where to pool is, the aqua duck (water coaster) can be ridden, back to back Disney movies play on a huge screen. Little ones can splash about in Nemo’s reef and you can if your kid will let you… try and relax on the sunbeds. Also it is home to some of the more fast food options you may want in the day available from the likes of Flo’s cafe and Luigi’s pizza. Deck 11 is super fun but a few hours and you need some headspace! The aqua duck is awesome… be sure to ride it in the dark too as it is all lit up!

Disney Cruise Deck 11

8. Characters Galore on a Disney Cruise!

Love your Disney characters? (of course you do!) well I think I interacted more with characters on the cruise than I ever have. You never know when you might bump into them… which is super exciting! also there are plenty of opportunities for character meet and greets. My son met stitch his all time favourite on pirate night, he was so playful and funny, he still talks about it now. I was over the moon to have my photo with Mickey in his captains outfit too!

9. Pirate Night & Fireworks

Who doesn’t want to dress as a pirate really?! Well if you don’t you will stand out! Bandannas were even provided in our stateroom to wear for the occasion. We had taken our own costumes anyway as I am not one to miss out on a dressing up opportunity. As well as pirate themed dining that night there was a stage show where all your favourite Disney characters perform in a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ production. Not forgetting the spectacular fireworks as well! Followed by dancing the night away as a DJ blasted popular dance songs. Pirate night was a blast!

Disney Cruise Pirate Night

10. Disney Merchandise

Be sure to check out the Disney merchandise whilst on the ship… they are pros at making you get rid of your money and the cruise is no exception. Official cruise line clothes, souvenirs, pins, plush toys and more are on display in the stores. I bought a few things to remind me of my trip (yeah like I will ever forget!)

11. West End Worthy Shows

Disney doesn’t mess about when it comes to entertainment we all know that… It’s what Disney does best! But oh my gosh the shows… I LOVED Disney wishes… its encompasses everything Disney is about growing up but staying connected with your inner child. We also saw Aladdin and Disney dreams which were both fantastic.

Disney Cruise Stage Shows

12. You Can Chill Out

You may be reading all this thinking I don’t know if it’s too much! But fear not… you can escape the mayhem on the adults only deck and it was like a sun trap. I soaked up the rays with a cocktail whilst looking at the ocean. When I was too hot I took a dip in the Quiet Cove pool – pure bliss! where are the kids (if you have them) at this point? In kids club of course. Just to mention as well I met loads of adults on the cruise with no kids too!

13. Kids Club Heaven

I don’t think I have ever wished I was still a kid as much as when I clapped eyes on the Oceaneer club and lab aboard the Fantasy . I swear you will never get your child in a kids club on holiday again after experiencing this… it’s in a league of its own. Children 3-12yrs can immerse in a multi themed activity centre – there’s Andy’s Room, Pixie Hollow and Monsters Academy to name a few. A light up dance floor, computers, reading areas, televisions, video games, dressing up, a sound studio to create music, a craft area… the list goes on. Your favourite characters might just make an appearance too. Got a baby or a teen no problem… no one is left out on a Disney cruise, they cater for all.

Disney Cruise Oceaneer Club and Lab

14. Indulge in Pin Trading

If your a pin trading fan then you will be pleased to know this is a thing on the cruise to. For those who are unfamiliar with pin trading is buying, selling and trading collectable Disney pins that can be worn on a lanyard. You can trade pins with cast members (which is super fun) as well as other guests. On the last night of your cruise as well a pin trading event is held where you might just find some rare pins so be sure to check that out. Oh and pin trading is totally for adults as well as kids! I literally had as much fun as my son.

15. Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique

Yes the royal salon where young guests can be magically transformed into princesses or knights is aboard the cruise too. You hear about the princess make overs lots but not as much the ones for boys. My son was seven at the time and loved the experience. They gelled his hair and put little silver Mickey confetti in it, he was given a sword and shield and declared a knight… we proceeded to then do the ships treasure hunt. This is where you look for clues around the ship (you realise its enormity at this point) and it’s simply magical… you will need a few hours but it’s good exercise and fun!

Disney Cruise Bibbidi Bobbdi Boutique

16. Rejuvenate in Senses Spa

I indulged in a massage and facial at the spa despite it being pretty pricey and it was worth every penny. I didn’t pre book this as the whole holiday was getting ridiculously expensive (did I tell you prior to this cruise I spent a week in Disney too?!) but as luck would have it they do offers once you are on the ship so that twisted my arm (like it was hard!) and I’m glad I treated myself. My advice would definitely wait till your onboard to book this… I can’t remember the price but it was quite a bit cheaper.

17. Visiting Castaway Cay

This deserves a post of its own really but Disney’s private island Castaway Cay is really something special. A tropical paradise in the Bahamas where the fun really doesn’t stop! Pristine beaches to soak up the rays, incredible snorkelling, slides in the sea, delicious barbecue food, bike rentals… just to name a few! You are not going to be bored on this island. Sadly a day there just didn’t feel enough but what an experience.

Disney Cruise Castaway Cay

18. Themed Sailings

Now I can only properly comment on the Halloween themed sailing really as that is what I was on. But if that is anything to go by then taking a Disney cruise over Thanksgiving, Christmas time and New Years Eve should only add to the experience. Halloween on the Fantasy was great, everyone dressed up, the ship was decked out – including the pumpkin tree and even the characters dressed up for Mickey’s Mouse-querade party. Who else can say they been in a dance freestyle circle with Goofy?!

19. Exciting Shore Excursions

If you do decide to get off the ship you can indulge in some shore excursions. Disney makes this super easy for you. You can browse the itineraries before you go and add them to your never ending bill ha ha! You could indeed arrange your own but I like the guarantee that I am not going to miss the boat (honestly my anxiety couldn’t take it!) My experience of shore excursions was unforgettable. In Grand Cayman we swam with sting rays (my son bailed much to my dismay) Jamaica we headed up Dunn River Falls, Mystic mountain and even on a bobsleigh tour (Cool Running’s eat your heart out!) In Cozumel we went on a submarine. Shore excursions enhance your visit when you dock so check out if any take your fancy but don’t be surprised if you struggle to choose!

Disney Cruise Jamaica

20. It’s the Holiday of a Lifetime

I hope you are reading this and have already drawn this conclusion… this is one trip you will never forget. Disney always provides ultimate in entertainment and the cruises are no exception. Word of warning though… you will come back slightly exhausted from the non stop fun and excitement but it was oh so worth it.

Disney Cruise Memories

Have you been on a Disney cruise? I would love to hear anything you would add to this list?

Oh yeah and guys… due to writing this blog post I’m now looking to book another Disney Cruise next year. I am dying to make some more magical memories with Mickey and friends on the high seas. Watch this space!

Rachael πŸ™‚ x

Here’s the link if I have convinced you to take a look – https://disneycruise.disney.go.com

Posted in Personal Development

Checking in With my Goals

Spring is fast approaching… seriously though where did January and February go?!! I swear as I get older time is moving faster or maybe I’m just busier than ever… now were officially in March I will be checking in with my goals for the first time this year!

Checking in with my goals

Checking in With my Goals: March 2019

So like many at the very beginning of the year I zealously compiled a list of goals I hope to achieve this year. I sectioned my goals into eight categories (see below). You can also check out my original post here.

But there is no point making these goals if we don’t check in! For me when something goes down on paper it makes it more official, it has to happen. This is why you should always write your goals down. I think looking at your goals around about quarterly is where it’s at… monthly is just too much for me – hell, give me time to breath!!

So let’s look at some things I have achieved or scheduled so far off my goal list…

1. Fun & Adventure

Skydive – holy crap, I actually booked a sky dive!! Let me tell you I am terrified but it is something I always wanted to do… as I’m getting older I’m kinda going off the idea a bit so what must I do?! Get it locked down. Yup… I’m going to throw myself out of a plane for charity – yikes!! This is happening in April. I’ve booked with the company www.skydivenorthwest.co.uk

Under this section also was go to three places I’ve never visited before… this is totally getting smashed. With four trips impending it’s safe to say I will go to way more than three! How exciting?! Watch this space to hear about my upcoming trips!

2. Career

Firstly let me just tell you what I do… I have a dance school; I teach dance. On my list was start a YouTube channel… this was also on it last year. Has progress been made? Hmmm not exactly. Maybe this goal was too much to chew… I’m a busy girl and that’s going to take commitment.

What I have done is upped my game on Instagram. Remember goals are totally adaptable… I’m now posting every day to my dance insta and I’ve braved doing videos on there. This is a big step for me! Remember to celebrate the smaller achievements too. Will this lead to YouTube… maybe! It’s a step in the right direction!

3. Friends & Family

A simple goal – to spend more time with them. Am I achieving it? Very debatable… am I making it a priority? Definitely not… I’m so absorbed in my dance business that I don’t spend enough time with loved ones. Let’s see if I can change this for my next goal review!

4. Financial

Stay out of debt – I paid off what I had last year and so far I’ve not took out anymore – go me! However with said 4 trips impending this is going to be tricky… I will remain optimistic but we will see.

Another financial goal I have FINALLY achieved is starting to save a pension… I left it way too long but better late than never!

5. Spiritual

Definitely time to check in with this goal, I can’t lie… it’s not going great. I’ve managed to write in my gratitude journal a handful of times only… I just forget!! Meditation is definitely lacking… I’m also having trouble sleeping of late. I think I am being more mindful though so that’s something I guess. Spiritual goals definitely need more work.

6. Fitness

Yoga every day? Erm not quite ha ha! Oh my… I definitely over committed on this one. It’s not going to happen. I’m soooo active in general with my job, I also go the gym too. I’m managing yoga 3x a week and loving it! You know what, I’m okay with this.

7. Personal enrichment

Okay so a big goal here was to learn more about blogging and develop mine. I have definitely committed to this… it’s a big blogging world and there is so much to learn! But I’m enjoying this journey so far. Since January I have done a few free courses, made upgrades to my blog, dipped my toe into SEO (what a mind field)  and committed to a posting schedule – every Sunday.

Read every day? If that includes internet research and blogs absolutely… books… no. Perhaps I can improve my sleep by reading more again… food for thought.

8. Self Care

As far as self care goes I’m pretty good… as in I have a facial a month, a massage, nails maintained and my hair. But self care is so much more. How about taking time out, knowing when your over working and learning to say no. I’m not great at this… I’m still trying to take on the world, this needs to change.

Smoothie a day? I’ve managed maybe 4 a week… not a bad start. What I’ve learned with smoothies is simple is better. Don’t over complicate them and I’m more likely to make them.

Body brush 3 x a week, no problem! This I can proudly say I’ve achieved. Small victory but none the less important… have you read about the benefits of body brushing?! Hmmm maybe to share in another post.

Yeah so that’s it guys… I’ve checked in on my goals for the first time this year. There are some I don’t mention as this post would be way to long… but point is I’m reviewing them!

Checking in with my goals, sky diving

Are you checking in with your goals? I would love to hear how your doing… let’s celebrate our achievements as we go.

Rachael x

Posted in Holiday Happiness

One day in Capri (Italy)

One day on the island of Capri in Italy

The last part of our Italy adventure was to be one day on the beautiful island of Capri. We were up early, the birds were singing, the sun was shining… what could possible go wrong?! Let’s just say the day didn’t get off to such an easy start… my son was not in the best of moods as I had bollocked him for losing his new trainers! But as he sulkily wandered down the jete to board the boat I took what would become one of my favourites shots of the holiday. It’s funny how the images we share, seemingly perfect do not always portray what’s really going on in the moment. A photo can say a thousand words but it can also hide them…

Vico Equense Harbour

Getting to Capri

As mentioned on a previous post we were staying right by the harbour in Vico Equense so this was ideal for reaching our destination. It took around 40 minutes to reach Marina Grande, the busy main port where our day in Capri would begin!

Marina Grande Capri

Here there are lots of souvenir shops, cafes and restaurants to choose from. We had a wander about and then decided it was probably best to take a boat tour of the island. It was soon easy to see why Capri is said to be home to some of the worlds most amazing natural scenery…

Island of Capri

The islands majestic peaks and rocky terrain contrast with the most turquoise blue waters. Sat peacefully on that boat with the wind blowing through my hair and the smell of salty sea air I was in heaven (Note to self: must buy add buy a yacht to bucket list!!)

One day in Capri? Start with a boat tour!

Our boat tour was about an 90 minutes and had the waves not have been so choppy it included a trip into the blue grotto. This is the famous sea cave where the sunlight reflects off the amazingly blue water illuminating the cave. It can be entered only via rowing boats and is suppose to be spectacular… I was really gutted to not go inside. However the water around the island did not disappoint in general… this photo below was taken at the Emerald grotto.

Blue Grotto

The Faraglioni rock formation is probably one of the first images that springs to mind when you think of Capri. The rocks jutting out of the sea range from 80-150 meters high. The middle one has an arch which legend says that if couples kiss as they sail through they will forever stay together. The rocks jutting out of the sea are really quite something…

Faraglioni rocks Capri

Other sites included Marina Piccolo and Punta Carina lighthouse that’s been there since 1866. If you only have one day in Capri be sure to take boat tour, it really is a must… it’s a fantastic way to appreciate the Island.

Anacapri

We docked back in Marina Grande keen to explore further. Anacapri located on the higher west side of the island was to be our next stop. Catching a bus seemed the easiest way to get there. But let me tell you it was crowded!! They literally stuff the bus but thankfully it was only a short ride.

From the centre of Anacapri you can catch the chair lift up Monte Solaro to the highest point on the island. I was excited but my son decided to sit this one out staying at the bottom with a gelato. Honestly he missed out, it’s not scary!

Monte Solaro chair lift

It was amazing going up, at first you could see people’s gardens below, little vegetable patches, I even spotted some bird of paradise flowers growing. As you get higher the only thing you can hear is the birds singing beautifully then silence… just total peace and quiet. The views you are treated to on the way up are spectacular…

Mont Solaro view

The ride is about 15 minutes long and upon reaching the top you must get off. There is a cafe if you want refreshments or simply take in the views… I didn’t stay up there long at all given my son was waiting at the bottom but my head was literally in the clouds.

Top of Mount Solaro

Once my feet were back on the ground it was time to explore Anacapri. Said to be much smaller, quaint and authentic than Capri town itself it did not disappoint. We meandered around it’s little streets, browsed some of the boutique shops and stopped for some baked goods and a cocktail (for me only obviously!) by the beautiful church of San Michele.

San Michele church Anacapri

Capri town

Conscious of the time we caught the bus back to Capri town. It was much busier, but no less charming to explore. Designer stores and expensive boutiques were plentiful, catering to the rich and famous the island attracts. We stopped off for Pizza where my son actually fell asleep with his head on the table… could I finally have burnt him out? Ha ha!

Time to head back to our ferry. Many use the funicular to transport them between Marina Grande and Capri town but the queue was too long so we braved the descent walking instead… not too challenging but probably not recommended if you have bad knees. Just before heading down one last look at the view…

View from Capri town

Stay in Capri!

We were ready to leave Capri as a full day exploring left us hot and tired. But honestly it was a mistake not to stay on the island. I suspect once the day trips depart much like Positano a different more relaxed Capri emerges. I would have liked to have sampled some cuisine, fine wine, done some walking and just soaked up all it has to offer. However if you do only have one day in Capri the above could be the perfect itinerary. We really felt we got a good first taste of the island.

Will I return to Capri? For sure… along with Positano it was definitely the place I loved most on my Italy Adventure. I feel I have only just brushed the surface of this amazing country so guess what?! I return in May but to a different region… stay tuned!

Rachael x

P.S If your looking for a more private experience check out Gianna’s boat tours. I would love to use him next time – https://www.giannisboat.com/

Posted in Holiday Happiness

Italy Adventuring… Visiting Pompeii and Sorrento

Leaving behind Positano for the third part of our adventure was exciting. It was an hours drive to get to our destination, a little town just outside Sorrento called Vico Equense.

Where we stayed

Hotel Le Axidie was situated by the harbour and had it’s own beach, a swimming pool (my son was over the moon!) and was far enough from the crowds of tourists that flock to Sorrento. On arrival the reception staff were most welcoming and helpful. The hotel also offered a free shuttle to the train station and into the centre of Vico Equense which was perfect.

The first day there was spent relaxing on the beach and my son made an English speaking friend (always a bonus!) playing in the pool which meant I could wile away my day with a good book and a few cocktails. From the beach you could see mount Vesuvius… if you look to the left of this photo it can just be seen.

After a good nights sleep we were up and ready to go to Pompeii. My son was so excited for this trip… he had learned quite a bit about Pompeii at school and had been sharing all the facts ever since we got on the plane. First though we fuelled up with a good breakfast… a great continental selection and views of Napoli bay, the harbour and mount Vesuvius made it extra special.

Pompeii

We took the hotel shuttle to the train station and easily bought a ticket to head to Pompeii. On arrival it was pretty confusing… there were lots of options of tours, I decided we should take a guided one after regretting having no guide at the Coliseum. This was definitely a wise move, aside from the museum part I would literally of had no idea what I was looking at other than a bunch of ruins! Also it quickly became apparent you could easily get lost in there… it’s huge!!

Get a guide if it’s your first time!

The guide very informative about the ancient Roman city and the catastrophic eruption of mount Vesuvius in 79AD. She pointed out all the different areas of Pompeii – former streets, tracks of the chariots, and the stepping stones in the street – so you didn’t have to walk in the actual street if it was flooded -, to water “fountains”, to uncovered ovens for baking bread, the baths, the amphitheater and of course the brothel!

Please note: don’t let your kid climb on the ruins… you will get told off! Which thinking about it makes sense… they need to preserve the area. This photo was taken before we got a royal telling off, whoops!

Wandering around Pompeii is very hot… there is not much shade so be sure to take some water in. I think our tour was two hours and it was enough, my son was getting bored towards the end. Definitely not ideal for children younger in my opinion. It is really a fascinating place and must be seen to be fully appreciated. Remains of mosaics and paintings can be seen through out the site – it amazing how well preserved they have remained.

Where’s all the bodies?

Like many visitors we were intrigued to see the bodies. Excavators who uncovered the human remains noticed that the skeletons were surrounded by voids in the compacted ash. By carefully pouring plaster of Paris into the spaces, the final poses and faces of the last residents of Pompeii were revealed and can be seen today.

A little research would have told us that the bodies are not just strewn all over the site and that many have been moved to a museum in Naples. Apparently a few can be seen on the southern western side of Pompeii but on our two hour tour we didn’t see any whilst walking around. However we did see them close to the entrance in a little museum.

It was originally assumed that most of the victims were asphyxiated by volcanic ash and gas but further studies have shown there was no time to suffocate. The contorted postures were not the effects of a long agony but were the result of spasming due to heat shock. So devastating and pretty eerie to look at.

I know we only brushed the surface of Pompeii but I was happy with what I saw and learnt. I have to confess I’m not massively in to history but it held my interest and was definitely worth the trip.

Sorrento

We hopped back on the train foot weary and hot and guess what? Accidentally got one that went straight to Sorrento. Much to my sons dismay I decided we may as well get off and explore it. We had planned this for another day but no time like the present!

A short walk from the train station is Piazza Tasso, the bustling centre of Sorrento. From here you can catch the land train for a tour, begin your walk down the alleyways and main shopping street or eat and drink in the bars that are located on this square. 

We meandered down the little cobbled streets where lemon themed goods are the name of the day. Be sure to try some lemoncello – after all it is here that is originated. Shops selling gelato, clothing, leather goods and ceramics are plentiful.

Sorrento is a lovely town to wander about. We reached Marina Piccola and could see down below the little spots for sun bathing by the sea on little piers that jutted out. I would have liked to spend some time down there but we didn’t have swimwear with us. Soon after we headed back to the hotel after our busy day.

Sorrento is very charming but not a patch on Positano in my opinion… definitely worth a visit though. Have you been to Sorrento and Positano? Did you prefer one over the other? Let me know!

Rachael x

P.S Don’t miss my next post all about the beautiful island of Capri!

Hotel Le Axidie – http://www.booking.com/Share-d2D5VQ

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