31st May 2017 by - No comments

Sometimes the city can get claustraphobic, especially in the hot weather. We crave open green fields, fresh air and historic cobbled streets.

A mere hour outside London by train is a beautifully quaint city full of amazing things to see and visit.
A brief history of Winchester –

Winchester is a city in the county of Hampshire, on the edge of England’s South Downs National Park.

It’s known for medieval Winchester Cathedral, with its 17th-century Morley Library, the Winchester Bible and a Norman crypt.

Nearby are the ruins of Wolvesey Castle and the Winchester City Mill, a working 18th-century corn mill. The Great Hall of Winchester Castle houses the medieval round table linked to King Arthur.

How to get there –

Getting to Winchester couldnt be easier. Simply get a South West train from Waterloo and you are there in 1hour. What is great is that the station is a 10minute walk from all the historic attractions amd the beautiful city centre, filled with shops and numerous cafes and restaurants.

Where to eat –

There are so many lovely restarants and cafes to choose from. All your brand names are there – Starbucks, Pret, Nero, Wagamamas, Prezzo & Zizzi. In addition Rick Stein has a restaurant there too.

Highlight of our visit –

Was of course seeing the wonderful Horrible Histories show at the Royal Winchester theatre.

For me visiting the resting place of one of my favourite authors – Jane Austen – who wrote Emma, Pride & Prejudice, Sense & Sensibility – to name but a few. Was an amazing experience I will not forget.

All in all a fantastic day out with the kids! Find out more on the link below –

http://www.visitwinchester.co.uk

17th May 2017 by - No comments

What can I say about this amazing city. The words that come to mind are historic, so very different and must be seen to be fully understood.

It was my dear mother who chose to come to Berlin. I would have chosen Paris yet again for our weekend get away, but my mother was right, it was time for a change.

Berlin has always fascinated me. It has been a city which has had to endure such hardships over the years. And despite this rich history filled with both good and bad events, it has come out on top. Now said to be one of the coolest cities in Europe, alongside London, of course.

My good friend Aysin Kuran, who lives in Berlin with her husband and three kids actually wrote a wonderful guest blog for me a while back with her top tips on things to do in Berlin with kids. So I am now sharing tips on things to do without the little ones.

Where we stayed –

We stayed at the most beautiful, fabulously located hotels in Berlin. The Radisson Blu hotel has a great location right beside The Berliner Dom – a very historic Evangelical Church dating back to 1451.

We had a gorgeous room with a private balcony looking onto the Church with a river running between us. It was a lively river with tour boats running up and down it through the day, but it was extremely quiet and romantic at night. The best of both worlds.
Where we ate –

We were lucky enough to have an amazing buffet breakfast at our hotel. Pumperninkle bread topped with German cheese has got to be the most delicious breakfast ever.

Thanks to the expert advice of my good friend Aysin who lives in Berlin, we ate at some fabulous places!


For lunch we dined at Hopfingerbrau I’m Palais, a casual restaurant located just beside the infamous Brandenburg Gate. My mother and I were desperate to try some authentic German food but nothing too rich and heavy, this place was perfect. Traditional veal sausages served boiled, with a side of the most scrumptious homemade potato salad and thick cut chips. All washed down with a huge beer. How much more German could we get?

Afternoon Treat – After some more walking and sightseeing to work off our lunch we headed to ‘Einstein Unter den Linden’ – a very famous coffee shop in a very historic part of Berlin. Walking into the coffee shop is like taking a step back in time. It is very much like a Viennese Coffee House and the coffee is one of the best I have enjoyed in a long time. My mother and I shared a giant slice of ‘Apfel Strudel topped with whipped cream’ while watching the world go by at a cosy table outside. And all I can say is it was perfect.
Dinner – Sadly although my friend had recommended a wonderful restaurant for us to dine at, from all the walking, sightseeing and eating we had already done, my mother and I decided to give dinner a miss and head to our balcony with a view. Here is the restaurant that was recommended to me by Aysin, and I plan to visit it on my next trip – Lutter und Wegner or The Borchardt Restaurant.

What we saw –

Start your weekend with a tour of the city. There are several double decker bus tours available and all seem to offer a similar general overview of the city. We took one which departed straight outside our hotel and took us for a 2 hour route around the city pointing out historic sights and giving information in every language you could imagine. It was a good way to get a feel for the city.

Make sure you are wearing very comfortable shoes as Berlin is definitely a walking city. You can get around from sight to sight quite easily on foot.

There are numerous museums in Berlin. Our hotel was actually located on Museum Island. On this trip we decided to skip the museums and instead get a feel for the city, so another thing to do on the next visit.

Must sees –

The Topography of Terror – a timeline displaying Berlin’s history during the reign of Adolf Hitler. Very moving and shocking but an imbedded part of history nevertheless.

Check Point Charlie – the name given to the crossing between East and West Berlin during the cold war. Now a major tourist attraction even with two pretend American soldiers.

The Berlin Wall – After all we have read and heard about the wall, seeing it in real life is a very surreal experience. To understand why such a wall was built is very difficult indeed.

Hitlers Bunker – this no longer exists as it was blown up after the war. This is the place Adolf Hitler hid during the war and where he committed suicide. Now all that marks the spot where the bunker was is a sign explaining what was once there. I read somewhere it is the most visited tourist attraction in Berlin.

The Brandenburg Gate – When I think of Berlin I think of this amazing gate. To see it in real life is amazing.

The Hotel Adlon – One of Berlin’s oldest and most famous hotels. A tall established building right beside the Brandenburg gate, it has an amazing history of very famous guests. I recommend you enjoy a cappuccino on the terrace outside on a warm sunny day.

The Berliner Dom – definitely worth a visit. The huge dome is breathtaking and the crypt below is unlike any other.
Verdict –

I loved visiting Berlin. For me it was a new city, and although I have travelled to many cities around the world Berlin was unlike any other city. Walking around you see such a mixture of architectural designs in the buildings that line the street. All bringing it back to the fact that this city was once split into several segments, and run by different cultures.

I wish I could have seen Berlin before the war, before so much of it’s historical buildings were ruined by the atrocities of war.

Definitely worth a visit without kids to learn and digest the rich history of the city.

10th May 2017 by - No comments

Every Christmas since I was a little girl we have watched ‘Scroodge’! Not the black & white version but the musical one starring Albert Finney. I pretty much know all the songs and whats even more amazing is that my boys enjoy watching the same musical every Christmas too.

The classical story written by the great Charles Dickens, originally known as ‘A Christmas Carol.’

Charles Dickens (1812-1870) was an English writter, known to most as one of the most famous authors of the Victorian era. His books are famous the world over – Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities to mention a few.

So a visit to the Charles Dickens Museum – a beautiful Victorian town house in the heart of London – was an immemse treat.

The Museum –

Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine moved here to 48 Doughty St, London, a few months before Queen Victoria began her reign in 1837. The couple raised the eldest three of their ten children in the house. They also hosted many of the period’s leading figures with dinners and parties.

This is the house where Dickens wrote Oliver Twist, Pickwick Papers and Nicholas Nickleby.

At the centre of the house is the author’s study. In this book-lined room he wrote an extraordinary number of newspaper articles, journal essays, short stories and novels – always with a quill pen and often by candlelight. He was frequently inspired by the busy household of family, servants and guests around him.

The museum holds the largest collection of material relating to his life and work, with over 100,000 items including furniture, personal effects, paintings, prints, photographs, letters, manuscripts, and rare editions.

Verdict –

I absolutely loved the museum. It is in a beautiful tree lined road near Russell Square station in the heart of old London. The Victorian town house is intact, and stepping through the doors is like taking a step back in time to London in the 1800’s. The Victorian era, visiting the home of one of the greatest authors in the world.

Each room in the room is intact, as it would have been when it was the Dickens family home. An upper class dwelling with warm and cosy decor.

The stories and anecdotes ones reads along the way gives us a glimse into the mind of this great writer whose stories were a compilation of his experiences in his youth.

At the end of your tour I recommend you enjoy a delicious coffee in the beautiful garden of the museum. The outdoor courtyard is so calming and relaxing, the perfect place to stop and recharge.

 

Entrance to the museum is £9 & £4 for 6-16 year olds. Under 6’s go free.

The Museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10am until 5pm. Last admission is at 4pm. They are closed on Mondays except for Bank Holidays.

Find out more below –

https://dickensmuseum.com