English Country Living

29 August 2016

Bank Holidays in the UK form the perfect excuse to escape busy city life and venture out into the countryside. I'm fortunate enough that my parents live right in the middle of the english countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, picturesque villages and not a main road in sight. Last weekend I took full advantage of their countryside residence, and paid the 'rents a visit. It's been baking hot in London recently, so a bit of fresh country air was definitely a welcome change. 

My weekend was filled with my Mum's baking, lots of walking and some good ol' fish & chips - just what the doctor ordered. The pictures in this post were all taken in Ross-on-Wye, just across from the Welsh border, in fact, it's so close that most of the locals speak welsh. It's around a two hours drive from London, but it feels worlds apart.

I grew up as a country girl, always living way out in the sticks, but in the year I've spent living in London, it seems I've become a complete townie. A few months back my parents got chickens so that they could have fresh eggs every morning, and whilst I've been enjoying the egg deliveries every couple of months, I hadn't actually met them. When I planned this last minute trip home, meeting the chickens was at the top of my list, however it turns out that I'm actually terrified of chickens! I couldn't stroke them or pick them up without squealing and I don't think I've ever moved as fast as I did when they all started flapping their wings, which everyone else found hilarious!

All in all, I had a lovely weekend, and the extra day made it the perfect excuse to get away, take some time out for myself and just relax. It's funny how a bit of fresh air and open space allows you to open up your mind and really reflect on your goals, wants and needs. I'm currently on my way back to London right now, stuck in the bank holiday traffic, so it's adios for now, beautiful Ross-on-Wye. 

5 Steps to Booking Your Perfect Holiday!

28 August 2016

Although summer is almost over, that doesn't have to be the end of holiday season. I find that its normally cheaper, and quieter to go away out of season, so I always try to book my holidays either in the spring or in the autumn (although I'd never say no to jetting away for the summer too!). There's plenty of travel planning going on my end as I've got a couple of trips in the diary for the end of this year, and am already starting to plan 2017, so it's no surprise that I'm constantly surrounded by brochures and scouring the net for the best travel deals out there. Not one to keep things to myself, I thought I'd share my top 5 tips for booking your perfect holiday, ensuring you're getting the best deal and you're fully prepared to make the most of it while you're out there - enjoy! 

1. Get Pinning!

Pinterest is like the IKEA of holiday inspo - you can find everything conveniently in one place, and you can get lost for hours in there. I love to waste my evenings lusting after dreamy holiday destinations and if you're stuck on where to go next, it's a great place to start. I'd highly recommend setting up a 'travel inspo' board on Pinterest, as you can easily pin all of the places you'd like to visit (and some you didn't even know you wanted to visit!), along with some great blog posts on what to do when you're at your dream destination! 

At the moment, my board is full to the brim with Santorini, Mykonos, Italy and Hawaii, four places I'd love to visit in 2017. With so many destinations in this world of ours, it's hard to know where to start, do I'd recommend starting out with something a bit more broad like 'summer destinations' or 'winter sun' depending on the time of year you'd like to go, or the type of trip you're looking for - you'll soon realise that you've picked a couple of favourites! 

Once you've got a list of potential destinations, then you can really start researching them in terms of cost, best times of the year to go and any particular hot spots you'd like to visit while you're out there. I'd set aside a few evenings for this though, as trust me, Pinterest is like a black hole - once you're in, you can't get out! See all of my Pinterest boards here

2. Find the best deal!

When you've just spent hours narrowing down potential destinations on Pinterest, it can sometimes be a bit of a let down when you discover that it's a hugely expensive location (this always happens to me - Santorini, why must you be so eye-wateringly expensive?). When it comes to trips away, I'm definitely a bargain hunter, I always want to find the best deal and save money where I can, and I definitely don't think I'm alone with that! After all, the more money I save on one trip, the more there is for the next! 

When booking my trips away, I always head to a comparison websites and airline websites first, as they often have some of the best deals around. I also like to spend some time researching whether booking flights and hotels separately will work out cheaper as often it does when you've got budget airlines like easyJet offering flights for as little as £20!

My favourite booking websites:

Expedia.co.uk - Expedia is a great one-stop-shop for booking your entire holiday, and the size of the company means they're able to score some of the best deals on the market (I booked my entire 5* trip to Dubai on !xpedia for under £500!).

Booking.com - Perfect for finding some great hotel deals if you're on a budget.

easyJet - One of the best sites for picking up a bargain flight, hello £20 returns!

Sky Scanner - If you're looking a little further afield, then sky scanner is a great place to compare airlines and find the best deal!

Mr & Mrs Smith - Perfect for  boutique hotels or that something special. 

3. Plan your packing!

Planning your packing may seem like an unimportant task, but jetting away only to realise you've forgotten something crucial can really dampen your mood whilst on holiday (forgetting my bikini on a holiday to Miami wasn't one of my best moments!). Do your research on where you're going in terms of weather and culture. If you're jetting off somewhere sunny, make sure you have a hat, good pair of sunglasses, comfy sandals and some suncream, and if you're off somewhere cold - remember your thermals! It's also important to research the culture of the country, for example, if you're going to the middle east, it's important you have clothing which covers your shoulders and knees, as you don't want to get into trouble while you're abroad. 

4. Pre-book excursions and plan your itinerary! 

I'm quite an organised person, so whenever I'm going away, I like to research the local area and make a list of some of the places I need to visit while I'm out there. Planning my itinerary means I have don't miss any key hotspots, and also allows me to plan how I'm going to get there, how much it's going to cost, etc - however I usually like to leave a few days free for wandering around and for anything I discover while I'm out there. I love sites like Like A Local and Lonely Planet for guides and tips on how to avoid the tourist traps, the best places in the local area and general travel advice. 

5. Stock up on the essentials!

Whenever I'm shopping for my trips, I always get excited about buying the pretty beach dresses, floppy hats and glitzy sandals, but it's also important to stock up on those boring essentials. Suncream, after sun, bug repellent, plug adaptors and portable chargers are all key to making sure you have a great time on your trip. I always check out TK Maxx for these items during the summer, as they've always got great deals, and Boots will always have your back!

Bon Voyage!

The Prettiest Cakes in London

24 August 2016

When it comes to cute cake shops, London's got you covered, and this weekend I took a little trip down to Belgravia to visit the Peggy Porschen Parlour (a.k.a the most instagram-worthy cake shop in all of the lands). 

Painted completely pink and adored with a beautiful floral archway, this cake shop is pretty hard to miss. Situated in-between Sloane Square and Victoria, this cake heaven is just a stones throw away from the pretty boutiques of Belgravia and some of the most expensive (and pretty) houses London has to offer - so you can really make a day of it. 

For such a small shop, the cake selection wasn't bad - between three of us we managed to order five cakes (we hadn't travelled all that way for just one!). I wen't for the slice of Raspberry, Lemon and Rose cake and a Strawberry and Champagne cupcake and I have to say, it was one of the best I've ever had. The cakes are incredibly soft and all of the icing is made out of cream cheese, meaning it's not too sugary sweet. My friends picked out the Lavender and Lemon cake, Blueberry cupcake and Raspberry and Lemon cupcake - which I may have tried, and yes they were all incredible. Then again, I wouldn't have expected anything less from the brand that baked Kate Moss' wedding cake. 

Of course, while we were there we just had to try out the drinks selection. I wen't for the pink lemonade as really, who can resist a pink drink? Whilst my friends decided to test out the tea selection, going for one of the floral teas and a peppermint tea. The tea came served in our own individual tea pots in pastel colours, and they're actually great value for money as you can get around 3 cups of tea from each saucer. 

No detail has been left un-thought-of at Peggy Porschen, from the marble tables to the sweet peas and crystal chandeliers, the cake parlour is shabby chic to perfection and ever-so adorable. The walls are adorned with all of the Peggy Porschen merchandise you can get your hands on - from cookbooks to the Strawberry Champagne cake filling (I almost walked out with this!) - everything about this place is a girls dream and a bloggers paradise.

Once we were suitably stuffed (and on a major sugar high) we decided to wander off down the road to take a look into some of the nearby Boutiques before the heavens opened - it is England after all! Of course before we left we had to pose for some photos outside the cake parlour - that floral archway is just too pretty to ignore!

Strawberry Picking in London

22 August 2016

Every so often, the hustle and bustle of London gets to me, and I start to crave the countryside. I grew up in the countryside, I'm used to spending my summers down by the lake or playing in the fields, so it's no wonder that sometimes city life gets to me. I'd been feeling claustrophobic in London recently, probably due to the stuffy, hot weather, so I grabbed some friends and headed slightly out of town to indulge in one of my favourite childhood activities - strawberry picking. 

We didn't want to venture too far - it was baking in London that day and we didn't fancy cooking ourselves in the car for too long - so we headed to Parkside Farm, where every summer they open up their 'pick your own' section of the farm. Parkside Farm is located just outside of London (as in, just past the infamous cockfosters), but it feels a million miles away so it's perfect for us Londoners looking to escape, without actually escaping. 

The farm is huge, sprawling across 50 acres so even when it's busy there's plenty of room for you to amble through the strawberry fields undisturbed. We went on an extremely hot Saturday during summer holidays so I expected to have to fight my way to the good strawberries, but we were able to walk around largely undisturbed, even sitting down to have a quick picnic. The farm also offers so much more than strawberries. When we visited in early August, we were able to pick strawberries, raspberries, plums, blackberries, corn, beetroot, onions, spinach, french beans, courgettes and red currants - so there was absolutely no need for us to buy any fruit or veg in the supermarket for about two weeks afterwards and because everything is fresh, it tasted so much better than the stuff you find in the supermarket and also lasted so much longer. 

After we'd spend a couple of hours picking all of the fruit we could carry, we headed back to the farm shop and picnic area to indulge in some fresh strawberry ice cream - we had earned it after all! Before heading back in to London to enjoy the fruits of our labour, literally. 

Escape the City on a Budget

18 August 2016

London is one of my favourite places to be in summer, which is why I don't often plan my holidays in the summer months - it's often more expensive to travel, it's harder to get the time off work and I wouldn't want to miss out on the few weeks of summer we get here in the UK. That being said, London can be a little too much sometimes, and a few weekends ago I found myself craving an escape from the city. Conveniently, one of my best friends lives in Brighton and is always on-hand when I'm craving some seaside fun, so I hopped on the Thameslink which leaves from St Pancras (it cost me as little as £10!) and I was in Brighton in just over an hour. 

This was actually my first time in Brighton (first of many, I should say!) and despite doing my research, I wasn't really sure what to expect. Having lived in Bournemouth for over 4 years while I was studying, I expected it to be much the same but I was so wrong! Brighton is a much more vibrant town than Bournemouth, full of live and with quirky treasures hiding down every alley. 

We spent the first half of the day wandering down the lanes, popping into choccywoccydoodah, ducking in and out of the quirky shops and catching up. After a little wander around the North Lane, which is the quirkier of the two main lanes, we stopped off at Catwalk Cakes for some Rainbow Cake. I'd never had rainbow cake before despite lusting after it for months, and if you're going to indulge, it should definitely be in Catwalk Cakes a.k.a the cutest tearoom ever. After our little pit-stop, we carried on exploring the lanes, ducking into the cute antique shops and taking a peek at all of the vintage sweet shops, before walking down to the beach and the famous Brighton Pier. 

I've always loved the seaside, and seeing the old fashioned Brighton seaside was a dream - complete with traditional arcade games and a helter skelter! The air smells of sea water, pier donuts and ice cream and you're surrounded by happy families and young couples. The pier is such a picturesque building which takes me right back to being young and at the seaside, which I think is why I love it so much. 

After a trip down the pier and a little wander down Brighton's glorious pebble beach, we were feeling a little peckish so we headed down the lanes to Donnotello's Italian Restaurant - a surprisingly large family run restaurant, popular with locals and celebrities alike. The food was delicious and definitely easy on the purse strings - a refreshing change to the extortionate London prices I've become accustom to. 

During the afternoon we headed back down to the lanes to take a look at some of the other stores, try on a few vintage outfits and have a little catch up as it'd been a few months since we'd seen each other face to face, before catching my train back to London. 

I have to say, I absolutely loved Brighton and it's definitely been one of my favourite places to visit in the UK - everything was quirky and cute, and there's just so much to see and do. If it wasn't for work, I'd definitely consider moving down to Brighton for a slightly quieter life, but alas, for now Brighton will just be my escape from busy city life. 

5 Dream Destinations

16 August 2016

It's always good to dream, and I find having a list of must-see destinations in mind makes travel planning that little bit easier - with thousands of locations to see across the world, it can be hard to pick just one, so today I thought I'd share with you my top 5 bucket list destinations. These are my 'if I won the lottery destinations' and are definitely not your average summer holiday!

1. Hawaii

Going to Hawaii has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl, when I was younger I was obsessed - I even bought a hula outfit and a DVD to teach me the moves when I was in holiday in Miami! Whilst my love for the hula culture remains strong, it's the Hawaiian landscapes that I'd really love to lay my eyes on. Hawaii is renowned for it's rugged landscapes of cliffs, waterfalls, tropical foliage and beaches with gold, red, black and even green sands (the black sand beaches look amazing). They're things which you can only get in the Aloha State, and I honestly think if I was only ever allowed to travel once more, it would have to be to Hawaii. 

2. Sugar Beach, Toronto

Sugar Beach is a new addition to my list, after seeing a few bloggers I post about it on their Instagram accounts. I'd never heard of it before, but the idea of an urban beach sounds amazing, and who could resist the adorable decor?! Opened in 2010, Sugar Beach is an urban beach park, located in Toronto and while it's absolutely adorable, you're not actually allowed into Lake Ontario, so it's mainly a public waterfront space to relax and enjoy rather than an actual beach - still cute though and I'd still love to go!

3. Pig Beach, Bahamas

This may seem like an odd one, but swimming with pigs in the Bahamas has always been firmly on my bucket list - way higher than swimming with dolphins! The 20 swimming pigs and piglets are located on Big Major Cay, affectionately named 'pig beach'. Nobody is quite sure how the pigs got there, but now they live freely on the sandy beaches, and after basking in the sun for hours, they swim out into the surf - is it wrong to be jealous of a pig?! 

4. Aruba

Aruba is located in the Netherlands Antilles, just off the coast of Venezuela and is home to some of the worlds best white sandy beaches, clear waters, tropical fish and picturesque views. The island is littered with pastel Dutch architecture, transporting you to a tropical Amsterdam - and whats more, the island is inhabited by while Flamingos! Flamingos are one of my favourite animals, and I always loved seeing them in the south of France as a child, so seeing them in Aruba would just be a dream come true. Like most other Caribbean islands, this one is pretty expensive, but hopefully one day I'll make it to Aruba!

5. Bora Bora

It probably sounds silly, but after seeing Kim Kardashian scream and cry about losing her diamond earring in the clear waters of Bora Bora (we all know the scene), it's climbed its way to my top 5 bucket list destinations. Dubbed the 'Jewel of the South Seas', Bora Bora is one of the world's most beautiful and romantic islands. It's located just northwest of Tahiti in French Polynesia, and is surrounded by a coral reed which protects it's beautiful turquoise lagoon - making it perfect for scuba diving. What really draws me to Bora Bora is the lack of traditional hotel rooms, instead of a normal room, you get a luxury bungalow perched over the water on stilts - it doesn't get more picturesque than that! 

What's on your bucket list?

New Beginnings

11 August 2016

I've always shied away from embracing change, happy with the way things were and sticking with the status quo. However, as of late, I've been feeling a little disconnected from the things which once excited me, feeling like it was time to leave the old behind and embrace new ventures.

New beginnings are often disguised as painful endings, but for me this is so much more than that. For those of you who are unaware, Sail Away isn't my first venture into the blogging world. For the past four years, I've been blogging all things beauty on Lipgloss & Lashes, and while I'll always love beauty, it just wasn't doing it for me anymore. I found that my passion and excitement for the beauty blogging world had dwindled and despite my best efforts, I just wasn't finding it thrilling anymore. For a long time I couldn't put my finger on it, I tried to blame the changing beauty blogging environment, the negativity I was receiving from other bloggers, a lack of partnership opportunities, etc - and suddenly something clicked, it was time to embrace change and trust the magic of new beginnings. I wasn't done with blogging, nor was the blogging industry forcing me out, I was just ready to talk about something other than beauty.

It wasn't an easy decision to make the jump, as I've built such a brand around beauty and was worried that I'd lose all of the followers and friends in the blogging world, but I felt that I was being dishonest by continuing to blog about beauty, as I could never inject as much life into it as I once did. When I left university in 2015 I soon started work at one of Britain's busiest and biggest airports so it's no surprise that my life is now heavily influenced by travel - whether thats at home or abroad. I've grown as a person and learnt a lot about myself in my first year of full time work, and I'm now much more interested in the number of passport stamps I've collected as opposed to the number of MAC lipsticks I've got stashed away. So with this in mind, Sail Away was born. 

Inspired by my lifelong love of the ocean (I was always called water baby when I was younger) and my new passion for travel, Sail Away is new beginning - a little corner of the web where I can share my travels, new discoveries and even the places I discover closer to home.

...and so the adventure begins...

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