Wednesday, 19 April 2017

A Week in Tenerife

I've not long returned from a week spent in Tenerife.  Having never visited the island before it gave me the opportunity to cross off #7 from my list of thirty before thirty (travel somewhere new).  It felt so good to be exploring somewhere I'd not been before, especially when the weather was so amazing, we had glorious warm sunshine every day.

We had booked into the Muthu Grand Golf Plaza hotel in San Miguel de Abona.  If asked whether I would stay there again, I'd have to be honest and say no.   Although the hotel was lovely, I failed and hadn't done enough research prior to the trip, it wasn't really near anything.  Personally when on holiday I like to venture out and try out different restaurants, the hotel wasn't in walking distance to very many of them and those that were close by weren't the kind of places I fancied trying, which meant our options were limited.  The food at the hotel was ok, your typical buffet style food really but with a different theme each night it did add variety and mix it up a bit.

A couple of days were spent catching the rays by the pool at the hotel, but for me a holiday is all about exploring what the country has to offer.  I don't really feel as thought you can say you have been somewhere unless you have actually seen it, and so for us we spent a lot of time on the road driving around the island to see what else was on offer.

Being a volcanic island the landscape is rather dull, however every once in a while it surprised us with a breath-taking view.   During a drive through the mountains to visit Garachico we were at one point above the clouds, quite possibly one of the most surrealist moments I have ever experienced.  We twisted and turned our way around the roads, through pine forests and past sheer drops into the ocean.  It was breath-taking in more than one respect at points but well worth it for the sights that were seen. 

Aside from the beautiful views that we enjoyed during our drives out around the island, the biggest highlight of the week for me had to be the water park, Siam Park.  I bloody loved it, so much so we visited a second time to spend another day here.  It reminded me in many ways of Orlando, somewhere I've not been too for a long time but really want to visit again.  The layout was really good and the rides were all fantastic.  I hardly managed to take any photos while I was here as I was far too busy enjoying myself so you will just have to trust me on this one.  If ever you visit Tenerife, this place has to be on your list of places to check out.   

Another thing you must do is order yourself a Barraquito, a traditional Tenerife drink made with condensed milk, coffee and liquor, my god it is to die for.  These things are absolutely delicious.  I ha enough of them to know.

If I were to ever return to the island, top on my list of places to visit would be Mount Teide and the National Park, I'm not quite sure why we never got here but the week practically flew by.  The rest of the duration would most likely be spent at Siam Park to be honest, I loved it that much.  The shopping centre next door is worth checking out too, it was a really good way to fill an evening and get rid of some of those euros you have taken out with you, with high street shops such as H&M and Mango plus lots of other really great fashion stores. 

Have you visited Tenerife before?  Would you say there is anything I have missed out, somewhere I should have visited during my stay?

~ Gem x

Friday, 7 April 2017

Paycocke's House & Garden

How I have never visited this place before I will never know.  Coggeshall is absolutely beautiful, I fell in love with it's charm for sure.

For a couple of years now I had come across Paycocke's House online when looking for new places to visit but had never followed through with it and I'll be honest I'm a bit annoyed with myself for not having gone.  It is gorgeous.

It amazed me how different the building was from the front compared to the back, it is literally like two completely different buildings. 

The thing I love most about a National Trust property though is usually the exterior and the garden, this place was no different.  I'm hoping to return later in the year to see the garden when it's displaying all it's pretty flowers.

The house wasn't huge, but there were still plenty of things that caught my eye inside.

And I finally got that cream tea I had been waiting for.

It feels so good to be getting out and seeing places, especially exploring more of what my own county has to offer but then I guess that is always the way, we often ignore what is right on our own doorsteps.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Dedham & Flatford

Having visited both of these lovely places before, I always get quite excited about the thought of re-visiting just because I know how beautiful they are.  I don't know what it is about these two little villages that draws me back but I'm always taken aback by how quaint and pretty they both are when I return.  It's almost as though I forget just how pretty.

Last Saturday was spent with my parents and boyfriend, celebrating my mum's birthday.  It was a gorgeous and sunny day, so we were not alone when visiting but it didn't spoil it.  Except for the fact that we forgot to book a table at The Rose and so were not able to get an afternoon tea as was originally planned.  Next time I will remember to book. 

We still managed to have a lovey da filled with laughs and quality time spent with one another, definitely something we need to make more time for.

It just goes to show that you don't need to go away to be able to visit beautiful places, they can be right on your doorstep if only you take the time to look.

~ Gem x

Monday, 3 April 2017

April 2017 Bucket List

This year seems to be flying by.  I'm so pleased that we are finally in Spring though and cannot wait for more warmer weather.  Lucky for me I'm off on holiday this month too so fingers crossed for heat and sunshine.

This month I'd like to:

* Sip cocktails by the beach.
Need I say more?

* Enjoy exploring someplace new.
That's one of the best bits about holidaying somewhere new, getting to discover and explore beautiful places.

* Decorate for Easter.
I've been struggling with inspiration lately but finally feel like it's coming back to me so this will be a good excuse to start getting creative again.

* Eat my body weight in chocolate Easter eggs.
I'm especially looking forward to this after not having eaten chocolate for the duration of March, raising money for the British Heart Foundation.  You can still donate to this great cause here.

* Check out the first bootsale of the year.
Hoping to sell some things of my own but also looking to pick up some new bargains too.

~ Gem x

Friday, 31 March 2017

30 Before 30 Third Quarter Update

As if I'm into my final quarter of my last year in my twenties, I literally haven't a clue where this year is disappearing to.  That said I've been trying my best to make it a good one. 

In my previous updates I had managed to cross off a few things from my list of 30 before 30.
#4. Visit a lavender farm.
#8. Watch a film in an outdoor space.
#10. Start some form of exercise.
#17. Experience Christmas at Kew.
#20. Do something spontaneous.  
#23. Try a food I've never tried before.
#27. Acquire a taste for coffee.

Since the last update I've been rather busy.  The latest things to be crossed off the list are:

#13. Spend more time on myself.
I've definitely been doing this by taking the time to do the things that I want, spending time reading, relaxing baths and generally just taking care of myself.

#18. Spend at least one day by the coast.

A couple of days have been spent by the coast, so far I've visited Southend and Saltburn.

#19. Pay a visit to London's Sky Garden.

#21. Grow something beautiful.

#24. Go and see a ballet performance.

I couldn't take any photos during the performance but back in February I went to see Swan Lake, and WOW, what a beautiful performance it was.  being able to see the orchestra play was pretty amazing too.  I'm definitely going to look out for ballet shows in the future, I'd really like to go and see The Nutcracker nearer to Christmas. 

#28. Watch the Harry Potter films.
Finally, I've done it, all except for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them but I'm not counting that.

So, as I enter the final quarter I'm aware that I still have a huge chunk of my list yet to cross off and I'm intrigued as to what lays ahead but I am ready and waiting for it and determined to cross everything off.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Introducing A New Little Friend

Firstly I want to thank everyone for the support and comments on my last blog post.  It's been a tough ride but things are going well and right now I'm feeling pretty good about life.  Things are sent to try us in many of life's challenges and curve balls and what I've been through has definitely made me a far stronger person.  It's not always been pretty but right now I'm feeling great.
A couple of weeks ago I welcomed a new little friend into my life. 

Say hello to Holly.

She is a Siberian Hamster and is absolutely adorable, I have fallen in love. 

She has already had me in stitches over her funny little ways from demonstrating her climbing skills and doing the monkey bars across the top of her cage then casually just falling to the ground to running for endless minutes in her wheel. 

She really is such a character, plus she loves a cuddle which is fine by me.

I'm sure there will be plenty of hamster spam on the blog over the next couple of years, that is if she stays still for two seconds for me to take a photo.

~ Gem x

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Life Lessons

I've been spending a lot of time recently reflecting on life and the things I have learnt.  Life is not a fairy tale and things will not always go the way you plan them. 

I was sure that by this point in my life I would be a
home owner and married with my own family.  In reality I'm living in someone else's flat.  I'm married and going through a divorce after discovering my husband of less than 2 years was having an affair and I am childless after a year and a half of trying to conceive with said ex-husband.  Learning to live without someone that I have spent the past ten years growing with has been a real struggle, someone I thought I could trust and depend on, someone I loved with everything I had has literally thrown it back in my face and taken me for a fool.  It's not at all how I had things planned out, but it is not all bad.

I have the most loving and supportive family who have been my rocks through everything.  Through thick and thin I know they will always be there for me no matter what.

I have made some of the best friendships with the greatest of girls and I couldn't be happier that they are all a part of my life.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they all remain a big part of the rest of my life too.

I discovered my love for the British countryside and know that it is where my heart belongs.  I may not be living in the countryside right now, but I will, that I am sure of. 

I have also been lucky to travel to some pretty incredible places and experienced some great things, creating  memories that I will treasure for a lifetime and am currently planning more travels to enjoy soon.   

I genuinely believe that everything happens for a reason.  So in terms of everything bad I have been through, as strange as it may seem, I am grateful for it to a degree because it has shaped me to the person that I am today and I am very proud of that strong independent woman.  And if I were to go back and do it all again, would I change things? Of course I would, but in the grand scheme of things, not all that much.  The changes I would make are only small.  I would definitely travel more, that is probably the biggest thing I would change. 

Ultimately life is all about give and take but it's important to be selfish, I mean it's your life and why shouldn't you do the things that you want to do, the things that make you happy?!  We are all guilty of wanting to please others but in reality what is the point of this if we are not pleasing ourselves.

I have turned down a fair few opportunities of some fantastic holidays and experiences in the past because I was 'saving' And what do I have to show for it now?  Nothing.  One thing I have learnt is that you will always find the money if you need to.  I'm not talking about going out and spending thousands of pounds on a round the world cruise, but I've turned down these opportunities and missed out on making memories with loved ones, in exchange for new clothes and toot that I really didn't need, all because I was supposed to be saving but didn't.

That said, this learning curve has caused me to throw caution to the wind now.  I'm determined to make the most of life because do you know what, as cliché as it sounds, we only live once and I want to make sure I have a heap of memories to show for it.

~ Gem x