Tuesday, 27 October 2020

7 Tips For a Delightful Devon Staycation

                                                Photo by Peter Ford on Unsplash

Any kind of travel is tricky these days, but the chances are that in the next 6 months or so it’ll (eventually!) be slightly easier to holiday at home than abroad.

But if you’re planning a Great British staycation where should you be heading?

The bright lights of London?

The lochs, glens and mountains of Scotland?

How about beautiful Devon?

With a sunny climate and stunning coastline, this wonderful county in England’s southwest has something for everyone.

Sounds good? Here are seven tips for a delightful Devon staycation.

1.    Plan your itinerary

Devon is over 6700 square kilometres in size and its chock-full of attractions, so you’ll need to plan carefully with an itinerary that prioritises your top picks and includes extra time to extend the duration in favourite spots  ̶  if you end up loving Torquay, why not stay three nights instead of two?

2.    Hire a car

With craggy cliffs, sweeping beaches and charming towns and villages, Devon is built for road trips. Hire a car in Plymouth with Enjoy Travel and hit the road for amazing adventures where you can blast out your holiday playlist without complaint.

3.    Book your accommodation

There are plenty of hotels in the English Riviera, but why not rent a Devon holiday cottage from Airbnb and enjoy an immersive accommodation experience where you’re living in someone’s home in a real residential area?

4.    Unique history

There’s plenty to do in Devon for history buffs. For starters, Compton and Dartmouth castles are well worth a visit, the Tamar Valley heritage train line is terrific and Morwelham is a magical village, mine and craft centre where you can step back in time and see how copper was once mined and then exported all across Europe.

5.    Beautiful beaches

Devon is arguably Britain’s best destination for beaches and there are bags to choose from. For starters, spend a family day out at Woolcaombe Beach and you’ll love the pretty coloured bathing huts as well as the paddleboarding and kayaking activities, but Barricane Beach is a slightly more serene alternative where you can collect unusual shells supposedly washing in from the Caribbean.

6.    Surfing

That’s right  ̶  you can surf in England as well as in Hawaii and Australia! There are lots of places to hang ten in Devon, but Croyde Bay beach is one of the best for consistently good surf quality. If you haven’t tried the sport before, lessons are available from local clubs like Surf South West.

7.    Cuisine

If you’re a foodie, there’s plenty of fabulous cuisine in Devon to tickle your fancy. It’s tough to single out one eatery, but if you dine at the Michelin-starred Treby Arms, your taste buds will thank you. Try the jerk chicken breast with coconut rice and watercress with pineapple and tomato  ̶  divine.

Follow these seven tips and you’ll have a Devon staycation that you’ll treasure forever!

That’s our list! Share your own Devon travel tips in the comments section.

** Collaborative Post

Thursday, 22 October 2020

10 Ways to help keep your home dust free.

 10 ways to help keep your home dust free.

Many people suffer from dust allergies and asthma which can get worse if your house is dusty. It’s very important to keep your house free from dust mites and allergen. Here are a few ways you can try to keep your house:

 1. Regularly dust all surface, ornaments and make sure you move furniture and dust under and around and also dust the skirting boards.

 2. Make a habit of regularly vacuuming all soft furnishing like sofas, cushions and rugs.

 


3. Steam clean all furnishings.

4. Dust all light fittings and lampshades.

5. Dust all alcoves, corniches and behind and above curtain rails.

6. Regularly dust all curtains and blinds.

7. Steam clean all curtains regularly if you are not able to take them down often.

8. Vacuum your mattress and pillows and wash your duvet and bed sheets regularly.

9. Dust behind radiators and pipes where you get hidden areas of dust accumulation.

10. The one place people don’t realise is how much dust carpets trap in their pile. Regular vacuuming, wet carpet cleaning for embedded dust once every few months will help to reduce the problem.

For people who are severely asthmatic, it’s a good idea to do away with carpets all together by replacing them with engineered wood flooring.Wooden flooring is easier to keep clean and dust free.

 

Regular hoovering and mopping wooden floors prevents a build-up of dust particles that normally embed in carpet pile. For this reason alone replacing carpets with wooden flooring is the perfect choice for people who have dust allergies or are asthmatic. 


Engineered wood flooring is great for areas affected by humidity and temperature too because it has the ability to expand so there is less risk of damage and warping to the floor. This is due to the cross ply contraction, meaning that each layer of ply is staked with the grain running in the opposite direction. The plies are laminated together, which helps to prevent expansion and contraction.The floors are durable and easy to keep clean and dust free, especially if you have kids and pets. 

 

Photo by Mo Freeman on Unsplash

There are many colours and finishes available in the engineered wood floors making them suitable for everyone’s taste be it modern or classic.With the floors ranging from light wood, dark wood, grey and white the choice is endless and will enhance the beauty of any house.With simple installation it is the perfect flooring to choose to keep your house dust free and safe.

*Collaborative Post

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Olive Picking in Athens~Greece



Last November I travelled to Athens with my food blogger friend Heidi. The whole trip was planned so that we could attend the olive harvesting and see the olives being pressed into olive oil.


Greece is the third largest Olive Oil producer in the world. It's warm climate and hilly terrain makes it the perfect place for the olive trees to grow. There is a mythological story that states that Goddess Athena created the Olive tree for the Ancient Greeks so that they can sustain life. 


The olive trees start to form new branches in the spring and you can see the new growth and flowers blooming. Throughout the summer the olives grow under the Greek summer heat. The olive trees bask in the summer sun for months and finally they are ready for harvest in October and November.



Olive harvesting is a labour of love. The majority of harvesting is done by hand. Large green nets are laid under the trees and the pickers shake and comb the branches using a special rake to release the olives from the branches.

 
My first hand experience at Olive harvesting was very interesting and it made me realise how much effort is needed to comb the branches to harvest the olives.


We had a wonderful opportunity to have a hands on experience harvesting olives. It certainly was fun and very interesting, however it was hard work as care has to be taken to ensure the olives do not get damaged or bruised during the harvesting process.

Once harvested they are gathered from the nets, picked and sorted removing any leaves and branches before they are  loosely packed in crates for safe transportation. 


The olives are cleaned and washed before they are either preserved or pressed for oil. The olive oil production starts in early October and ends late December.


The art of pressing the precious oil out of the fruit of the olive tree has been passed on from generation to generation. This interest and commitment to the cultivation of the olive tree has made Greece the world's third largest producer of olive oil. 


We were fortunate to visit an small Olive Oil Mill in Athens to see how the olives were pressed to extract the oil. It was interesting to see the olives transferred from the crates and sacks into a large feeder. We were able to walk around the mill and watch the entire process they went through from cleaning, pressing, centrifugation, decanting and filtration to reach the final product.


Most Greeks own olive trees and they harvest and press olives to make enough oil to last them throughout the year, until the next harvest. The smaller mills similar to the one we visited in Markopoulon -Athens offer the facility to have small quantities pressed for domestic use.

The manufactured olive oil is graded and the grading all depends on the climate, soil, olive variety and the harvesting methods of the olives. All these factors are of importance to get a good quality olive oil.

There are three types of Greek Olive Oil

Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

All Greek olive oil is extracted by a cold pressing process which is chemical free. For the oil to pass as Extra Virgin Grade they need to have an acidity level which is less than 1%.  

Refined Olive Oil

Any pressed Greek olive oil that has an acidity level greater than 2%, has to go through a refining process. Once it has been through this process it is mixed with 35% Extra virgin olive oil and graded as refined olive oil.

Olive Oil Pomace

Olive Oil Pomace is generally used in cooking and the regulation states that is has to be solely made from olive oil and must not contain any other oils. The Greek olive oil pomace is a blend of kernel oil, extracted from the pulp and pit solids to which a minimum of 5% extra-virgin oil added, to enhance flavour and aroma.  

Next time you buy olive oil do make sure you are aware of what you are buying as not all olive oil is the same grade.My olive picking experience in Athens-Greece was amazing and I learn't a lot about the different stages of olive harvesting and manufacture. I was fortunate to be able to take home my very own freshly pressed Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil. (We did not have bottles on hand but luckily we were able to take the oil home in some empty clean water bottles.)



My Athens travels have been really enjoyable and if you would like to follow my journey please check out the posts linked below:

Places to visit around the Athenian Riveria

Dining out in Athens

Things to do in Athens

We stayed in Athens for 7 days. In my next post, I will share my experience of a Greek Cookery class with the Greek Key, our trip to Poseidon Temple in Sounion and the day out to Evia Island.

  

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Lock Down Home Renovations and New Engineered Wood Flooring

  Photo by Nolan Issac on Unsplash
2020 has been a testing time for everyone as we faced challenging times during lock down. Statistics show that so many people chose to learn languages, started cooking, gardening, and learning new skills such as DIY. Many of us took the time to renovate our homes and tackle all those pending jobs that needed time that we had put off.
We also took the opportunity during lockdown by replacing the floor in our dining room. We wanted a wooden floor so it's is easy to keep clean and any food spills can be easily cleaned up. We worked out our budget and after considering all options we opted for engineered wood flooring which is more affordable than solid wood flooring. This is because they are made with several layers of part wood floor, part man-made materials such as MDF and plywood. 
We were also advised that engineered flooring is great for areas affected by humidity and temperature as floors expand and the engineered floors are less sensitive to this change so there is less risk of damage and warping to the floor.
The floor specialists also explained to us that properly manufactured, engineered wood flooring is made using a cross ply contraction. This means that each layer of ply is staked with the grain running in the opposite direction. The plies are laminated together, which helps to prevent expansion and contraction.
Photo by Thanos Pal on Unsplash

There is a choice of finishes too, so you can choose any colour and style to fit in with your d├ęcor. I love the grey finish as it goes well with a modern design whereas the wood colours are nice for a more homely classic look. You can check out the full range of the different styles of the floor finishes at Flooring 365. They also provide samples and offer an excellent choice in designs.
The installation is easy, the flooring is durable, it is easy to maintain and keep clean too. In the winter we find the floor is not too cold although you can easily add a rug for the winter months.
We are so happy with our choice of flooring that we are considering redoing our day room with a wooden floor too. That is out next project to do in the next few months.
**Collaborative Post

Thursday, 13 August 2020

Staycation in Bournemouth


We are almost in mid-August and lockdown has been going on for almost 5 months. With the current situation, holidays and travel abroad has become difficult and uncertain too. However United Kingdom is a large country with so many beautiful places to visit that it’s time we all considered a staycation. You can do a city break, countryside break, highland break or a beach break. The options are numerous, whether you choose a camping holiday to staying in a luxurious hotel or hire a chalets in the forest, stay in a caravan, or even stay in Air BnB. Travelling in the UK is fairly easy as there is a vast network of public transport, trains, coaches and busses, however we find it easier to drive and its convenient to have a car to enable us to explore the surrounding area. If you are opting to use public transport, it is important to be prepared to follow all government safety measures such as keeping social distancing where ever possible and wearing masks and gloves and carrying hand sanitiser.



This year we chose Bournemouth in Dorset which is in the South of the UK as our staycation holiday destination. It offers activities for all ages from young kids to teenagers and adults too. It also has many surrounding places you can visit during your stay such as Poole, Christchurch, New Forest, and Southampton which are all within a 45 mins radius.



Bournemouth has 7 miles of sandy beaches; all rated a European blue flag. There is plenty to see and do in and around the area. The beach has a pier which has zip wiring activity and there is an observation wheel on the beach front as well an Ocenarium. There is a small entrance fee to walk on the pier.

There is also the Aruba bar & restaurant on the pier that offers family dining in the day and you can enjoy evening drinks whilst enjoying the sunset. At night the place turns to a night club so you can dance the night away. During the July and August there are also beach front fireworks show every Friday night at 10 pm.

The nearby Bournemouth Gardens are perfect to enjoy a picnic, play a game of mini golf or just relax around the band stand and enjoy a live music. For the theatre lovers Bournemouth Pavilion offers theatrical shows or you can catch a movie at I sense Odeon cinema. For the younger generation there are the new escape rooms and Bh2 complex in Bournemouth too.

During the summer months the central beach at Bournemouth gets very busy and crowded so it makes sense to visit other nearby beaches at Sandbanks near Poole, Alum Chime Beach, Durley Chine Beach, Boscombe Beach, Fisherman’s Walk Beach, Southbourne Beach and Hengistbury Head which are less busy.


Hengistbury Head, a headland jutting in the English Channel between Bournemouth and Mudeford Quay, it is 20 -30 mins away and the perfect place to enjoy a day at the beach. Here you will find a range of lovely beach huts that you can hire for the day, there are some that you can stay overnight as well. 



There is a mini Land Train that runs from Bournemouth to Mudeford Quay. It is a popular way to get to the different beach destinations as it makes many stops. If you have younger kids they will enjoy crabbing in Mudeford Quay.




Poole Quays is another place worth visiting; here you will find the Sandbanks Beach where there is a water sports academy. For boat lovers you can enjoy a walk round harbour with boats.

Poole also has the original Lush shop and the famous Poole Pottery. From Poole, you can also get a ferry across to Brownsea Island a national trust heritage site, which is very picturesque with views of Purbeck Hills and worth a visit to see famous it’s wild life, red squirrels. It is a very popular place for camping for scouts and guides.

If you enjoy outdoor activities the nearby New Forest National park, is great for camping and for hiking and there is also a water park there which is a hit with the kids. For the more adventurous you can also visit the Go Ape Activity centre in Moors Valley
Bournemouth has many coffee shops, tearooms, eateries, restaurants and the famous Harry Ramsden chip shop. A visit to the sky bar on the 8th floor of the Hilton Hotel is a must, to enjoy a few cocktails with spectacular views of Bournemouth and Isle of Wight across the horizon.

In Bournemouth, there are many hotels, guest houses, Air BnB, campsites and caravan parks that you can stay at. A varied choice of accommodation is available to suit all budgets.

Bournemouth is the perfect staycation destination to visit. It is popular for stag and hen dos and also suitable for couples and families too. With so much to see and do you could easily spend a week there. Due to Covid, some of the attractions may be closed or require prior booking , it is best to check the website for up to date booking information.

Bournemouth is not only a summer vacation place, you can visit in the winter too. There are many Christmas markets and the Bournemouth Gardens transforms into a winter wonderland complete with an ice skating rink too.

What are your holiday plans this year, do share them in the comments below. Can you recommend some places  to visit in the UK.



 In collaboration with Hotels.com, All views expressed in this post are my own as are all the photos.