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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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.

Things to keep in mind while going camping

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Tent:

Its not a problem until you find out that there is a leakage in your tent or the tent is just not the perfect one for you. That’s when your whole camping idea goes for a toss.

It is important to select a right tent for yourself. Before purchasing or reusing them make a through check of the tent and that it should meets all your needs. You can use foam floor tiles for a softer, more comfortable tent floors.

Baggage:

You can never be sure of the things you might be needing when you go for camping. But that does not mean you carry anything and everything thinking just in case you might need them. Don’t waste too much room with unnecessary gadgets, clothes and gear. Bringing too much stuff can be a problem.

Make a list of all the important things you might be needing. If you’re traveling with your family, make a rule:everyone can bring one bag, and it has to fit comfortably in their corner of the tent.

Food:

When it comes to food, most of you forget that you are going for camping and not on a mars mission and those who know it go wrong in packing the food. Carrying unnecessary food items can only add on to the problems.

Make sure you only take those items that is liked by everyone and that can be easily cooked in an environment like that. Choosing single-single items for each one of them is definitely not a good idea. Vacuum seal your food before leaving. Tic-tac boxes are great for storing spices and other ingredients. Do not forget popcorn.

Safety:

This is something that should not be neglected at any cost. Despite being very careful, sometimes we may miss out to look into some of the safety measures.

But not to worry, use these ideas in emergencies or otherwise: For emergency first aid, you can wrap a sprained or broken arm in toilet paper and duct tape until you can seek professional medical attention. For lighting, point a head lamp into a jug of water for an instant lantern or paint the inside of a jar with non-toxic glow-in-the-dark paint to make it fancy.

Games:

Gaming is a crucial part of any camping. And carrying a wrong game along can be a pain in the a**, especially when you’re going with your kids and they find out about it.

Carry only one or two and light weighted games like UNO cards, Scrabble or chess. Along with these, carry all the necessary items that you will need for camp games. Keep the kids busy with a scavenger hunt. Use an acorn cap as a whistle if you get lost. Bring some paint markers and let them paint rocks they find on the trip. And while you’re kids are busy with their games, you can use the spare time to play online bingo here on GameVillage site.

Keep these little but important things in mind and enjoy camping.

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Corfe Castle Camping & Caravanning Club Review

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Ah the summer, remember that? Seems like a long time ago though I am still enjoying the warm October sunshine. Summer 2016 was awesome and it ended with a wonderful trip to one of my favourite places in the whole world – Dorset.  I was given the opportunity to review a Camping and Caravanning Club site and I decided to choose the Corfe Castle site as this is an area I come to a lot, and I’ve stayed in various campsites in the area but despite being a fully signed up C&C Club member, it’s not one I’ve ever stayed at before.

Having stayed at a few different C&C Club sites there is a standard I expect to see – that’s not being overly fussy or picky, but generally the sites I have stayed on have been tidy and well-kept with extremely helpful staff so I was keen to see if Corfe Castle would match up. Especially to my favourite of all their sites, Hereford. I have stayed there several times and always had the best time.

First impressions – the site is relatively easy to find, could be a bit tricky if you don’t know the area but there is a brown camping sign on the main road. The campsite itself is up a narrow, very bumpy track – luckily we never met anyone coming the other way because I imagine with a caravan in tow it could be a bit hairy. At the start of the track is a private property with a bit of a ramshackle garden which seems to serve a graveyard for unloved vehicles. Not exactly welcoming but neither is this (I presume) anything to do with the campsite. Saying that, some well placed screening would make it look a little more salubrious.

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Are non members really welcome?

We went to check-in when we arrived. I had to take a picture of the entrance sign because the ‘Non Members Welcome’ made me laugh, I’m not sure if this is ironic but as soon as we were arrived we were told under no circumstance could we camp if they didn’t see our membership card. I thought this was odd for two reasons – firstly, are non-members welcome or not? and secondly, I was there under a press booking so wouldn’t the presumption be that I wouldn’t be a member? Nevertheless I did have my member card with me so all was fine – other than the fact they had no record of my booking despite me having a printed confirmation with booking number on the top.

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The reception and shop area

After this hiccup, we were shown to our pitch which was very large, had electric hook-up as promised and was relatively flat. I had read online that pitches could be quite sloping so that was a relief. A bit more grass would have been nice, the pitches were very worn but I guess end of the season, it could be expected. We were set up in no time and enjoyed the last of the evening sunshine.  We had decided to have a BBQ and having read the info pack we were given, we duly went to reception to ask for the bricks that they requested we use. Possibly asking for a piece of moon rock would have gone down better as they seemed confused that we asked for these, and they had none.

My only other niggle about the site (might as well get all the niggles out at once) was that we had asked for a late check-out but we were told that we couldn’t have one, despite the fact it was Bank Holiday Monday and absolutely nobody was arriving on a Bank Holiday Monday. They did however agree to let us leave our packed up trailer near the entrance.

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The campsite

I know I sound rather negative and I don’t mean to be – we had a really lovely time and we’d definitely go back to this site. Compared to some campsites I’ve stayed at over the years, this is like the Rolls Royce of campsites – these are just some small niggles that I think could quite easily be rectified.

The site was beautifully kept, very tidy and very clean. It feels safe enough to let my children have a little wander and is totally locked up after hours.  It’s peaceful after 10.30pm which is an absolute essential for me – apart from the wildlife and the noisy fox cubs that brazenly ransacked our neighbours rubbish – and it was quiet in the morning, I was able to sleep in until about 7.30am which is unheard of for most campsites!

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The glamorous washroom shot

The toilet blocks were kept clean and tidy, with nice hot showers that I never had to wait to use. They closed for a period of the day for cleaning but you were given fair warning and notice about the times for this.

A pizza van came to site one night which I thought was a nice touch as there’s not much in the local area unless you want to get in the car and the shop stocked my very favourite Purbeck ice-cream which was enjoyed on more than one occasion.

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What can you do in the local area?

There are some really lovely places to explore in this part of Dorset. While we were at Corfe Castle we visited the castle itself, spent a day on the beach at Studland Bay, visited the very atmospheric abandoned village of Tyneham and Worbarrow Bay and did the obligatory visit to Lulworth Cove. (Advice, don’t do this on a Bank Holiday weekend…).

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Also in the area, just down the road you can hop on the steam train to Swanage, go to Kimmeridge Bay, Durdle Door, go to Monkey World or the Tank Museum, walk the South West Coastal Path, take the chain ferry over to Sandbanks…the possibilities are endless, there is so much to do.  I don’t think there are many stones I’ve left unturned in Dorset!

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Again, I may have made this sound more negative than it should, overall it was a great weekend, but just a few tweaks to the customer experience and it could be fantastic! Certainly, the last thing you want when you check in after a long drive is hassle, but the quiet, rural setting with clean and tidy pitches and peaceful respectful neighbours definitely made up for it!

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My camping essentials!

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As the weather is warming up (well okay, it’s at least sunny today which is a vast improvement) I’m starting to get excited as camping season once again approaches. We’ve got our first trip booked for three weeks time which means that the checklists are getting printed off and all the gear will be getting dusted down next weekend.

I love camping but I have to say, I’m not really a back-to-basics kind of girl. I’m not saying that means I am too high maintenance – I mean I do prefer to have electric hook-up but it’s more to charge my mobile phone or boil a kettle rather than plug my hair straighteners in – but I do like to have a few ‘luxuries’ with me and I am a serious over-packer (aren’t we all?).

So aside from taking everything – including a camping kitchen sink – there are a few things that get packed which I consider absolute essentials.  Of course, I am not going to include things like snuggly warm sleeping backs and comfy chairs, those go without saying, this is just about the little extras that make my life a little more pleasant when braving the great outdoors during the glorious British summertime.

Hair ties

I have them in every bag and every pocket. For some reason when camping hair in my face just gets really annoying, especially when you’re all hot and flustered and having a row with your husband about pitching the tent. Also, camping hair does tend to take on a life of it’s own.

Cleansing facial wipes

I avoid taking a myriad of potions and lotions – some cleansing facial wipes are perfect for a quick freshen up.

Extra blankets

I hate to be cold, have I ever mentioned that? I’m sure I have. I fear the cold. That is the reason I make sure we all have a woolly blanket each plus some to spare.

Ear plugs

The other thing I hate is other people’s noise and it’s never more magnified than when you are on a campsite in school holidays. Ear plugs are a necessity – don’t get those foam ones though, they’re rubbish. You need those clear moldable ones. I’m sure they have a fancy name.

Top Trumps

Never underestimate the power of a Top Trump when it’s raining outside and you’re stuck in your tent – especially without the luxury of EHU.

Dry shampoo

Showers are campsites aren’t often all that.  Dry shampoo is a must.

Torches – plenty of them!

I know taking a torch camping is common sense and probably doesn’t need to be listed here but believe me when I say you can never have too many. Ever. Because guaranteed when you get there one won’t work, the other will have flat batteries and they’ll no doubt be some ultra-rare type.  When it’s dark, you’ll thank me that you have a torch within at all times. A head torch is a great investment.

Warm socks

This harks back to not liking the cold. Especially essential if you’re a nighttime pee-er.

Glowsticks

Not only useful for settling my nervy children in the dark sleeping compartment of our Vango but also useful for attaching to your guy ropes so you don’t trip over when going for your nighttime pee.

Wine

Duh.

That’s my brief list of essentials – what do you consider your camping must-haves?

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