For Christmas one of my presents was a scratch map. Basically, it’s a map of the world and you scratch off all of the places you’ve visited. As someone who loves to travel, this is the perfect present for me and left me desperate to book more holidays. It led me to thinking about the holidays I’ve been on and what I’ve loved about these locations so I thought I’d share my top three…

1 – Dominican Republic – If I’m honest, this holiday beats any that I’ve been on so far. We went for two weeks on an all inclusive basis and upgraded to VIP. The service we received as well as the food we spent 14 days indulging in was nothing short of excellent. We didn’t actually leave the beach resort over the two weeks because it had everything that we needed there. Sea canoes, plenty of pools, a stunning beach, clear water and plenty of other activities…what more could we want?

2 – Hurghada, Egypt – I’ve been to Hurghada twice now, once in January and once in June and it was the reliable weather that attracted me both times. I love love love hot weather and with hot weather guaranteed pretty much all year around, it’s the perfect location for me. Hurghada has loads of beautiful hotels to choose from at really reasonable prices, click here to find some.

3 – Dublin, Ireland – Dublin is less of a holiday location and more of a short getaway/break but there’s no way I could write a post about my top locations without including it. Dublin is the city that well and truly stole my heart. With a never-ending supply of alcohol, the friendliest locals and the best live music, Dublin is a brilliant location to get away for a celebratory weekend with friends. Whilst the food and drink in Dublin may be on the pricier side, the cheaper flights definitely make up for it.

 

holidays - Dominican Republic Sunset

*This post is in collaboration with Holiday Gems.

If you follow me on Twitter or Instagram, you may notice that last week we jetted off to Crete for a last-minute short holiday. This year, we had agreed that because we had bought the house we weren’t going to go on any holidays…who were we kidding? I am a total holiday lover and I need at least one a year to fully worship the sun and relax.

This was our first holiday just the two of us as in the past we’ve always been away with family members or friends so we had already planned to have a super chilled one. However, neither of us had fully expected it to be as relaxing as it was.

We booked to go to an all-inclusive hotel which had plenty of pools, a couple of local beaches and nearby waterparks etc. Before we went we had planned to go and visit all of these but that didn’t happen. Instead, we literally spent every day sunbathing by the pool, drinking cocktails and leaving the sunbed only to eat and it was pure bliss.

Although this may seem like a boring holiday for some, for us it was so needed. After months of working on the house evenings and weekends we both realised how much we needed it and also how important it is moving forward to book holidays like this again.Crete 1 Crete 2 Crete 3 Crete 4 Crete 5 Crete 6 Crete 7

This week, you may have seen the interview with Eamonn, Ruth and their former colleague Amy on This Morning. Amy has a nut allergy, something that I also have. Unfortunately, Amy had an anaphylactic shock due to a nut reaction whilst holidaying in Budapest. This devastating reaction changed Amy’s life forever and has left her wheelchair bound and unable to communicate with others.

Since I was born, I’ve had a number of anaphylactic shocks. I’ve always been fortunate enough that the impact of these reactions haven’t been lifelong and have been managed through the use of epipens and treatment from fantastic paramedics and doctors. However, Amy wasn’t so lucky.

What a lot of people don’t realise about a nut allergy is that it’s not just consuming nuts that can cause an anaphylactic shock. I, like many others including Amy, suffer from an airborne allergy too. This means that the particles in the air from nuts can cause a reaction. In fact, every reaction I’ve ever had has been caused by an airborne reaction.

On most occasions, if I am aware that somebody around me has nuts I can walk away and leave the area before I am affected. However, when you’re thousands of feet in the air on an enclosed aeroplane, this isn’t so easy. There have been many times that I have had to ask air hostesses to make an announcement politely asking passengers not to consume any nuts. Fortunately, I’ve always been lucky that people have respected this (despite many moans and groans at this announcement). Every airline I’ve flown with has been extremely accommodating to my allergy and have made these announcements and done all that they can expect British Airways. When flying with British Airways, the air hostess advised that it is against company policy to make this announcement.

Amy’s parents are campaigning to ban nuts and nut products from airlines. As someone who is hugely affected by this, please take just two minutes to sign this petition and help to save a life and raise awareness of the severity of this.

Sign the petition here.

There are few things that make me happier than a weekend away, so when I was invited to visit Clarendon Royal Hotel back in July, I knew this was an offer I couldn’t turn down.

Clarendon Royal Hotel is located in Gravesend, Kent and overlooks the river Thames so isn’t too far from where I live in Essex. We stayed in the Pocahontas suite which overlooked the Thames and were lucky enough to visit on a sunny day so the view was beautiful.

The suite included one bedroom which had a beautiful four poster bed in (which was incredibly comfortable) as well as a bathroom and open lounge/diner. Our initial reaction to the room was the amazement at how large it was…it was bigger than our entire flat at home!

One of my biggest tick boxes when staying away is the cleanliness of the room so after a quick inspection, I was very pleased to give this a big tick.

In addition to staying in a beautiful room, we were also invited to dine with Clarendon Royal Hotel for dinner and then breakfast the next morning. The staff could not have been more accommodating or welcoming, taking the time to talk to us about the hotel and its history as well as the future plans.

All in all, we had a brilliant stay with everything from a luxurious room, delicious cocktails and a view to take your breath away.

Thank you Clarendon Royal Hotel, we’ll definitely be back.

 

*I was given this stay for free in return for a review on www.foodandfancies.co.uk however, all views and opinions are my own.

 

 

Being from Essex it only seemed right that when we visited Marbella last summer, we visited Elliot Wright’s restaurant, Olivia’s. Across social media and from others that have visited Marbella I’d heard brilliant things about Olivia’s  and the food and with the restaurant being only a stone throw away from where we stayed, we decided to visit three times during our stay.

During our first visit, we ordered a bottle of Moet to start (because if you can’t treat yourself when in Marbella, then when can you?). After enjoying some champagne, we went on to cocktails. The cocktail selection was brilliant and between the four of us, we made our way through the whole menu to try each one…and loved them all!

I’m very fussy when it comes to starters but as everybody else was ordering something I decided to give the crispy duck salad a try. I love duck but I’m also very particular about my duck and the amount of sauce it comes with. I find that there’s never the perfect amount of sauce so the duck is either too dry or soggy. However, Olivia’s is the first place that I’ve visited that has got this spot on. As a starter, it was beautiful. So much so, that I would order a larger version as a main.

For mains, I, of course, went for steak. The steak was an expensive one so I had high hopes that it would be of a high quality and taste amazing. Unfortunately, I was disappointed as I had a very fatty bit of steak and despite asking for it medium/well, it was very well done. However, I think that I was just unlucky with my steak as the others said that there’s was perfect so I probably should have complained at the time as I’m sure they’d have cooked another bit for me. My steak came with chunky chips and these definitely made up for the steak. The portion of chips was huge (much bigger than it looks in the picture) and beautifully crispy.

After dinner, we washed our meal down with even more cocktails until we couldn’t possibly eat another bite or drink another sip.

Have you been to Marbella? Where is your favourite place to eat?