A Birthday Trip to the Gardens


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To celebrate my wonderful Nana’s 80th birthday, we took a little trip down the road to Pashley Manor Gardens for their ‘Sculpture in Particular’ event and a spot of afternoon tea. Having not visited since I started working at a florist, I was keen to impress with my new knowledge on flowers instead of my usual ‘ah that’s pretty’ and ‘ooh a rose’ on previous visits. It was a while since we last went and I had forgotten just how gorgeous the house and gardens were, with my personal favourites being the cute greenhouse perched on the edge of the glorious pool. Not only was the whole place lovely to look at, it also inspired some fab colour combinations courtesy of nature itself. We had an abundance of cakes and scones along with teas and beer (nice one Grandad) and basked in the not so sunny sun on the cafe veranda. It was all very civilised and I loved discovering all the sculptures tucked around corners reading books or preparing to sail boats in the lake.


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Travel Guide | The Loire Valley, France

A little while back I went away with my family to the Loire Valley in France for a relaxing week away post finishing university. Despite it being quite a sleepy area, we found plenty of lovely things to do that really helped you switch off and get outside. Being a lover of all things French, I seized the opportunity to do as many typically French things possible, such as cycling every morning to the patisserie for bread and croissants for breakfast! Ever a sucker for a list, I’ve put together a list of all the things we did and where we stayed to perhaps inspire you if you’re staying in the area or spending some time in France.


STAY | Manoir De Champfreau, Varennes-Sur-Loire

Champfreau is run by two of the loveliest people – Bruce and Steven, who escaped to France 15 years ago from the bustle of New York. The manor house, which was nothing short of a castle, was beautiful and an absolute dream for an interior design fanatic like myself. Sat in all it’s glory in the middle of a courtyard, it houses an absolute menagerie of antiques and charming books and boardgames. It is clear to see that such thought has gone into the appearance and decor of the place, trusting those who stay at the manor with a lot of seemingly precious items. After feasting your eyes on the quite frankly instagram-worthy interiors, it is quite likely you will be bounded up to by the energetic poodle Zeb. A gentle giant, he is the soppiest and friendliest dog and along with Bruce and Steve, makes the place feel even more like home, albeit a very grand french home.


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Within the courtyard of the beautiful manor, there is a high-vaulted barn draped in shrubbery, with a big green rickety barn door. As we peeled open the door, it revealed an array of dishevelled old bikes offered to us to use in case we fancied a gander into the village. Upon this suggestion, the next morning we decided to delve into the barn once again and arm ourselves with a bike each ready and raring to visit the local patisserie and complete the most french activity we could muster at 9 o’clock in the morning. After instantly losing any GCSE French I could cling onto in the excitement of it all, I managed to contain myself and order ‘quatre croissants et une baguette’. Back at our home for the week, we sat out in the early morning sunshine enjoying our croissants with a nice cup of coffee and in that moment I don’t think I could have felt any more French!



Once we were equipped with our lifejackets and kayaks, we hopped onto our minibus ready for our driver to tear around the roads of France to drop us off at our starting point in Villaberner. After being given some vague instructions from a French instructor who’s main repertoire of English phrases were ‘I have very, very bad English’ and ‘bye-bye’, he said his farewell and pushed our kayak into the river. The setting was so lovely and tranquil, it felt like we were the only ones on the river that day. Known for it’s beautiful chateaux, the architecture of all the buildings is stunning and luckily I managed to retrieve my phone and take some photos without accidentally plopping it into the water. Despite the scorching heat, we managed to keep cool by the water and reward ourselves with a cocktail and a plunge in the pool as soon as we got home.

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On multiple occasions, James and myself woke up early and hopped on our bikes and cycled to Montsoreau, a village fifteen minutes away, for a morning coffee. The roads were pretty clear at this time in the morning so it was a very steady and relaxing trip over the long bridge that crosses the river onto the other side. The second time round we decided to stop off at The Marine Hotel and Spa for a coffee in their courtyard garden. The whole place is beautifully decorated, doubling up as a shop as well as a restaurant, hotel and spa, with a large number of items on display for sale. The whole place felt very pretty and serene and reminded me why I loved working in a French interior design shop for so long.





As you may have gathered by now, our holiday seemed to revolve a lot around cycling! When we came to look at doing a winery tour, we stumbled across Bouvet Ladubay who did cycling tours around their wine caves and it just sounded like a lot of fun and something a bit different. Plus at only 4 euros per person it seemed like a no brainer. Based in a beautiful building, we were greeted by a sweet girl called Niomie who was to be our tour guide for the day. We were all requested to pick out a rickety vintage bike each and pop a head torch on before following Niomie into the depths of the caves through the dark and winding sections of the underground winery. Every so often she would stop to tell us interesting little facts about the wine and how different types are fermented and produced and fun little facts about why sparkling wine looks the way it does. The architecture of the whole place dates back to 220 AD so visually it was amazing to look at too. After we resurfaced from the caves, the most important part of the tour came next – wine tasting! We were able to put all our knowledge we’d just learned into action and see how different fermenting techniques changed the taste of the wine. All the wines we tried tasted delicious and we ended up buying a fair few bottles ourselves! It was such an enjoyable way to spend the day and the whole experience felt very special given how little it costed.




Travel Guide | Santorini

I am fresh back from heaven after the most beautiful week away in Oia, Santorini. With it being quite a little island and Oia an even littler town, after a week there we managed to do a lot of exploring (predominately eating) and I thought it would be nice to do a little guide of what to do if you find yourself on this wonderful island.

We stayed in the lovely Marizan Caves and Villas and pretty much all our recommendations came from the walking and talking travel guide Georgia, who runs the hotel and who knows Santorini like the back of her hand!


STAY | Marizan Caves and Villas, Oia | http://www.marizan.gr

As soon as you arrive, you are greeted by Georgia in reception who fills you in on everything you need to know about the area and makes you feel like family. Nothing is too much for her to do, happy to make recommendations, reservations and bookings – without her help our experience would never have been so good. Each cave has it’s own private balcony with amazing views straight onto the caldera and lovely seating areas for you to enjoy breakfast every morning with your fridge restocked every day and fresh bread delivered in the morning. The sunsets from the balcony were ridiculously beautiful – whilst tourists cram onto every wall and surface to get a peek of the sunset, you have a front row seat for the show away from the hustle and bustle. Every morning I had to pinch myself as I opened the doors of our cave onto the beautiful sea view that surrounded us, it felt like we were inside a very sunny snow globe! This place is an absolute hidden gem and the prices are very reasonable for how well this hotel delivers.



Floga | Oia

We went to Floga on the first night and after loving it so much, instantly booked again to go on the last night. The view from the restaurant’s terrace is beautiful and feels very romantic with low lighting and lots of tealights. Every meal we ate tasted divine, with all the right flavours combined. Our top recommendations would be the Caldera Prawns, which are prawns wrapped in very fine shredded filo pastry and fried with a tomato sauce and also the lamb shank stew with eggplant mash. All the staff there are wonderfully friendly, and they still remembered us from the first night when we returned a week later on our last night. If you are after a special meal and willing to pay a little more than the usual, this place is fab.

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Roka | Oia

Roka is hidden away in the side streets of Oia away from the main walk through, so is worth locating first before making a reservation! You can either sit in the pretty courtyard which you enter through to get to the restaurant, inside or out the back on the terrace. We were lucky enough to get a seat right at the front of the terrace and watched the sunset with a nice glass of bubbly! Roka serves traditional greek food and has a lovely relaxing and laid back atmosphere, with food priced very reasonably.

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Karma | Oia

We loved Karma so much the first time round, we instantly booked to go the next night too. Perched nearby Roka in the side streets, Karma had a really intimate feel to it, with plush cushioned seating areas and lots of rich colours and tealights. We tried a few different meals whilst we were there, but my absolute and very naughty favourite was the battered feta drizzled in honey and sesame seeds. It was amazing, but definitely not something you could eat every day! Everything we tried was delicious and staff were very speedy and helpful.

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Melitini | Oia

Tucked away just off the main walkthrough in Oia sits Melitini, a cute restaurant that serves delicious traditional Greek tapas. The interiors are wonderfully whimsical, and everything feels very laid back, with food and wine served in industrial metal bowls and pitchers.  As with everywhere else in Oia, the staff were friendly and very helpful in recommending dishes we should try. It is a great place to be able to try a little bit of the traditional dishes of Santorini and Greece, the service was also really quick so it’s a good place to go if you want to grab a quick lunch or dinner. I’d definitely recommend the pastourma pie, it’s like a really fancy ham and cheese toastie! http://melitinioia.com

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Lolita’s | Oia 

After hearing lots of good things about this ice cream parlour that hand makes their own ice creams, I decided it was about time I hunted down where this sweet goodness lived. Off the main walkthrough down by the bus station is where you’ll find Lolita’s, serving lots of yummy ice creams, milkshakes and coffees. It’s a fun and chilled place, with a nice canopied area in the shade (thank god) just outside for you to sit down and devour your ice cream. It is evident that the staff there have a good sense of humour too, as the wifi code was a very elaborate algebra formula – aka get off your phone and talk to each other!

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DO | Open Air Cinema, Kamari 

Screening recently released British films with Greek subtitles, at only 8 euros each the Open Air Cinema is the loveliest way to spend an evening. It’s situated in a nicely decorated outdoor area, with lots of comfy director style chairs surrounding the screen and a cute little living room area where the owners and staff sit and watch the film with you. With a bar that sells reasonably priced snacks, popcorn, cocktails and milkshakes, there is the opportunity to fill your boots with refreshments – something that would usually cost a bomb back home! This was one of my favourite evenings of the whole holiday and something I would recommend to anyone visiting Santorini!

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