The wanderlust wishlist for 2017!

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A couple of years ago, me and the mister decided to have a rethink on holidays. Sick to the back teeth of splashing the cash on overpriced holidays to Spain with the children we decided we needed to start ticking things off the bucket list and the only way we were going to do that, was to start planning and saving.  Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with two weeks in the Canaries – I’ve done it loads of times and enjoyed it but that was when it was cheaper. Now, to get somewhere decent is £££ and I’ve realised that by foregoing a holiday every other year we can have a much much better experience the next year.

As it’s that time of year, where we all making bucket lists and plans for the future I thought I’d start making a new list of places for our travel bucket list. In 2o17 we’re lucky enough to be ticking off a few bucket list items with our Florida trip. No Disney for us this year, or any theme parks at all – we’re off to the Florida Keys and the Gulf Coast. Bucket list places include Miami, Key West, the Everglades, Sanibel, Captiva, Fort Myers….to name but a few!

I haven’t even had this holiday and I’m already thinking about our future trips! So today I thought I’d get it out of my system and share these with you! These are the places that are at the very top of my list and probably where I will plan to go next.

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Alaska, Vancouver, Nashville, Banff National Park, Charleston

Yes I am VERY much focused on the US right now, there are SO any places I want to go to and I’ve not even started with Boston, Cape Cod, Salem, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, San Francisco, Las Vegas…so many places so little time and so little money!

The biggest dream right now is Alaska and Canada. I’d love to do Banff, Rocky Mountains, Vancouver and a cruise to Alaska all in one trip but it depends whether funds will allow. The cruise to Alaska is big bucks so this might have to stay a dream, or we could save it until the children are older and we no longer have to pay for them…but I do want to take them with us.

Then I’d love to do Nashville (especially when the Country Music Festival is on) as well as a trip through the Great Smoky Mountains and also take in Charleston and Savannah and maybe a beach trip to Hilton Head or Myrtle Beach area.

Either one of these options are the most likely for our next trip.

And then of course in 2019 I will be celebrating a special birthday, that happens to fall in the school holidays.  We’ve discussed a trip away for that and I have decided a want a week of luxury and lounging around, we rarely do that – we’re always on the go! Possible destinations are Lake Garda (been before, but LOVE it) or Santorini or Sardinia. Choices, choices!

How are about you? Do you have a wishlist of places you want to go to? or have you been to any of the places mentioned above? I’d love your input!

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Recipe: Dauphinoise Potatoes

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Dauphinoise. Cream, garlic, potatoes, cheese – what’s not to love?

This side dish is one of my all-time favourites, though I really only ever cook it on special occasions like Christmas because I like it to be a treat. I think it can be pretty much served with anything – this year I served it with lamb shanks on New Years Day, other times it’s accompanied a beef wellington or a nice rich casserole. Either way, it’s always a huge hit with the family – nobody can ever resist a second (or third) helping.

It hardly takes an effort so it’s easy to knock together when you’re making a roast and it’s definitely got the yum factor. A really nice way of making your potato side dish a little more interesting.

Most dauphinoise recipes use Gruyere but whilst it’s a pretty main stream cheese these days, living in a village location means my local shop doesn’t tend to stock it. I’ve searched online for a substitute cheese and the closest would be Emmental, Jarlsberg or another Swiss cheese, but come on, if I can’t get Gruyere, I’m not going to get Jarlsberg in the local Co-op!  On these occasions I have just used Parmesan or Grana Padano and nobody has ever noticed the difference. In fact, some people think the cheese is optional. Note: Cheese is never optional.

This recipe serves roughly 4-6 depending on how large you like your portions!

Dauphinoise Potatoes

Ingredients

500g potatoes, thinly sliced
200ml double cream
100ml milk
1 clove garlic, crushed
50g Gruyere cheese, grated

Method

Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4

Place the sliced potatoes in a bowl of cold water to prevent them from browning. Rinse then pat dry with kitchen paper.

Place the cream, milk and garlic in a large saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the potatoes, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until just tender. Season well.

Transfer to a buttered ovenproof dish and sprinkle over the cheese. Bake for 25 minutes until golden.

And that’s all there is to it!

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How to make 2017 the best year of your life!

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As you know, I am big into lists and planning and I’ve already shared my goals for 2017 – simple and realistic, you can read them here.

Today I wanted to go a step forward and show you the ten questions that I use to guide my thought process. These questions look back over the past year and then look ahead at the coming year and I really believe that sitting down and going through these methodically can help you set goals and focus yourself on what you want to achieve, whether this be something professionally or in your personal life.

I recommend writing these out – you could do a mind map or, if you are a BuJo fan even answer these in your bullet journal so you can look back and remind yourself throughout the year what it is you have set your sights on.

1. What did I accomplish in 2016?

2. What were my biggest disappointments during 2016?

3. What did I learn?

4. How do I limit myself, and how can I stop doing this?

5. What are my personal values?

6. What roles do I play in life?

7. Which role is my major focus for the next year?

8. What are my goals for each role?

9. What are my top ten goals for the next year?

10. How can I make sure I achieve my top ten goals?

You can then use these responses and build your answers into a personal plan for 2016 – hopefully making it the best year of your life! Or at the very least, go some way to working towards this eventual goal!

The marketer in me wants to remind you to make these goals SMART. That is they should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely – your goals should motivate you and to be do this they really do need to be attainable. No point setting a goal to grow wings when that ain’t ever going to happen, but setting a goal to write 1,000 words per day? Totally doable if you set your mind to it.

Once you have set your goals – consider them carefully and then commit! Plan the steps that you need to take to achieve these goals and cross them off as you work through each individual one.

Express goals positively and always write them down – I once read that statistically you are far more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down and that sounds like a good enough reason to put pen to paper.

Good luck in all your endeavours for 2017 – if you do set goals, let me know what they are and if you have any more questions about how to reflect on 2016 or how to set goals for 2017, I’m always happy to talk. Just leave me a comment or drop me an email!

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2017 Goals

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I’ve decided not to do a post looking back at the year that was 2016, mainly because on the whole it was a pretty unremarkable year. Not that I am complaining at all, stable is good, but I can’t say I feel like I massively achieved anything, they were no incredible highs or lows and nothing particular exciting happened.

It was a good year.

Saying that, I would like 2017 to have a bit more oomph but I really think that it is down to me find that oomph.  Life will change this year, my husband is starting a new job and my daughter will start secondary school. Both will have an impact on our daily lives.

I’ve decided this year not to make half-hearted resolutions but set some actual, tangible goals – more importantly, realistic goals. I’m never going to become a fitness addict after 37 years of lazing around so why pretend otherwise?

Without further ado, my goals for 2017.

Move More

I am so lazy, so very lazy. I hate exercise, always have but I am super unfit and as I approach 40 I am feeling it – and finding it harder to keep the weight off. I’ve already taken my first step on this goal and for me this will be a gradual build-up. I am taking a fitness class once a week (which is a big thing for me as I have a lot of anxiety around this) and also restarting the Couch25K programme. I tried this before and it was good but I didn’t put enough into it. My children have started wanting to take part in 5K races and I’d like to keep up with them.  Goal – At least 4 x 30-45 mins sessions per week.

Eat Less and/or Better

I need to eat better. I eat a lot of junk and I am a grazer. I also need to lose about two stone of weight this year and I would like to do this sensibly so don’t really want to crash diet but improve my diet over all to help make these changes. I’m not great at making sure I eat my fruit and veg quota so will try harder and hopefully this will also help me feel less lethargic. Goal – Lose two stone.

Read More

Always a goal but one I plan to achieve this year. I have about a million books on my Kindle, 2017 is the year I am going to make a dent in them! I’ve a real mix of books to get through and a massive yearning to read my favourite, Withering Heights, again. Goal – Read one book per week.

Learn Something New

I’m like a broken record on this one but I really do want to go learn something new. I have no idea yet what that new thing is but I will find it during 2017! Goal – Learn something new/gain a new skill.

And that is it.

Nothing groundbreaking but hopefully very achievable goals for the coming year and definitely something to focus my attentions on. I’d also like to get back into blogging more but I am not setting any goals there or making any promises as sometimes my life is just crazy busy or I just have no mental capacity left at the end of the working day! I will try harder though because I miss it when I don’t blog.

Are you making resolutions this year or setting goals? I’d love to hear about them.

Happy New Year everyone!

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Discovering the Canary Islands with Inntravel #UnexpectedCanaries

 

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I recently responded to a Tweet from Inntravel about their #UnexpectedCanaries campaign. I’ve been to the Canary Islands several times but I am rather ashamed to say that I have never really seen what I would call the real Canaries, or even stepped outside of the very touristy areas of Playa de las Americas in Tenerife or Costa Caleta in Fuerteventura. I do however know that there is a lot more to these islands than meet the eye, so I was keen to explore these destinations a little more.

Inntravel, the ‘slow holidays’ company, are currently using the #UnexpectedCanaries campaign to promote their holidays to the Canary Islands and in particular the newly added La Palma Volcanic Trail walking holiday.  Established in 1984 and based in rural North Yorkshire, Inntravel is recognised as one of the UK’s leading specialist tour operators. They are happy to tailor your holiday to suit you and have won numerous awards and accolades over the years.   Two-thirds of bookings are made by those who have travelled with Inntravel before, or by friends to whom they have recommended the company – if that’s not the best endorsement of a company, I don’t know what is!

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I have always wanted to visit La Palma, which is one of the lesser-known islands while also being one of the most beautiful! It is renowned for its incredible landscapes, imposing volcanoes, deep forests, welcoming beaches and star-filled night skies. When I first started visiting the Canary Islands it wasn’t really pegged as a holiday destination for us Brits but it has become better known as people have started looking for something a little different to the ‘Brits Abroad’ scenario, which sadly, is the main side of the Canary Islands that I know.

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The last place I visited in the Canary Islands was Costa Adele, which is more upmarket than the loud lairy neighbours of Playa de las Americas and Los Cristianos, but still very much a touristy resort relying on British trade. We chose this holiday for ease and guaranteed sunshine. We went to an all-inclusive resort and pretty much stayed there for a week doing nothing but lazing around and swimming in the pool. Now don’t get me wrong, that is fantastic and just what we needed with small children but now my children are slightly older, I can’t help but look back at these holidays as missed opportunities and they are so far from what I would choose to do now! holiday time and annual leave is precious, so for me, it’s important to get as much out of it as possible.

What would I do differently?

If I went back to Tenerife again, I’d definitely like to try and discover the real Tenerife, get myself away from the tourist hotspots and immerse myself in Canarian food and culture.   I’m not sure how well it is publicised but Tenerife is a great walking spot, if you just move inland a little away from the resorts. The island has a variety of terrains to discover, with the impressive Mount Teide dominating the landscape.

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The Canaries have their own traditional food dishes such as Papas Arrugadas (also known as wrinkled potatoes) which are served with ‘mojos’ or sauces mojo picon and the mojo verde. I have actually tried this dish but I know there is so much more to the local cuisine with regional fish dishes and even desserts to be enjoyed. As somewhat of a foodie myself, this is definitely something I have missed out on!

There’s lots to be seen in the Canary Islands and lots to do if sitting by a pool isn’t your thing – you might be surprised! You should check out the Inntravel website to see what else is on offer!

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Disclosure: This post is in collaboration with Inntravel.

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