Alhambra, Granada - Spain

Well, prepare to be blown away, there is no other word for it, The Alhambra is just simply, STUNNING and NOT to be missed

Apparently dating from as early as the 9th century (or before) the Alcazaba (fortress) looks nearly as good now, as it probably did at the very beginning! Obviously modified and changed along the way but with embellishments have only enhanced its beauty

Named Alhambra (Arabic) due to red castle walls (qa'lat al-Hamra meaning Red Castle) and located at the top of al-Sabika hill, looking out over the city of Granada and beyond and sat on the left bank of the river Darro.

Steeped in many historical facts, prepare to be blown away by its beauty and history, with every nook and cranny a feast to behold, the beauty just keeps on giving at every turn, with no two rooms the same, offering top notch craftsmanship, handmade tiles that light up the space and landscaped gardens that you can only dream of.

A full day out at Alhambra will be a memory forever and worth every second you spend there.

A true spectacular day out and highly recommended by www.Ificould.co.uk

Tickets and more information: https://www.alhambragranada.org/eng/alhambratickets.php 

 

 

Up at The O2

The O2, Peninsula Square, London SE10 0DX

Well if you’re the kind that likes a little bit of adventure (not too frightening unless you are afraid of heights) then this could be the one for you.

Up at The O2 is an extremely well organised, safe and fun experience lasting approximately 90-minutes, where you will climb up and over the top of this enormous Iconic dome taking in the breath taking views across London and the surrounding Docklands area.

Don your blue padded jump suit (or padded vest depending on the weather) safety harness and chunky walking boots and prepare to climb up and over on a specially created flexible walkway that follows the contours of the dome and sits approximately 52m above ground level.

Don’t worry, you are not left to fend for yourself getting up there, a very experienced and knowledgeable guide will assist you and your group, up and over the top of the dome along with the added safety rail that your clipped on to as well (so no risk of falling at all). Once you reach the top (the centre point) you are able to unclip yourself and walk about freely on the flat viewing platform, where you can take a breather, take in the views and just relish in the breath-taking views and landmarks across the whole city.

It’s also worth noting your descent will be slightly harder work, as its much steeper than the climb up and takes a little more concentration.

Whether you do the twilight or sunset walk, you will be amazed at the stunning London City views, all in all a really great day/evening out for the whole family or for a group of friends.

Highly Recommended  

Website: https://www.theo2.co.uk/do-more-at-the-o2/the-original-expedition

Thames Jet

Westminster Pier, Boarding Point F, Victoria Embankment, London SW1A 2JH

Perfect for those who love a good blast of adrenaline; this exhilarating speed boat experience shoots along the river and provides a great opportunity to gaze upon London’s Icon sights and bridges all at the very same time.

Pop on your waterproof jump suit and life jacket and your away, just sit back and enjoy the wonderful riverside views at a leisurely pace, until you reach what they call the fast zone (just past Tower Bridge) where the skipper then goes full throttle.

Feel the wind in your hair and the breeze on your face, whilst blasting along the river to the sound of the famous James Bond theme tune and various other action pumped tunes, enjoying the exaggerated twists and sharp turns as the shipper prepares to thrill you with his expert control and manoeuvres

All in all, just fabulous!

Website: https://www.thamesjet.com/

Perissa Beach

Perissa 847 03, Greece

Perissa, a great little beach front coastal hotspot just on the southeaster edge of Santorini, approximately 13 kilometres from the capital. Grab a bus, taxi or moped over from Thira and head to this lovely long stretch of sandy beach with fabulous volcanic black lava sand and a deep blue sea that lies on the south base of Mesa Vouno mountain and what is apparently believed to be the place where the ancient city of Elefsina used to stand.

This is a full on popular beach resorts boasting numerous sea fronted restaurants (offering food choices from all over the world) sunbeds and umbrellas galore and plenty of stylish beach bars to help you refresh yourself after a long hot day at the beach.

A Blue Flag Award Beach that’s long and thin and stretches all the way to the next town little beach town (Perivolos) and connected by a long beach front road lined with restaurants, bars and small hotels.

If you’re into relaxing at the beach then this is the place for you, there’s water sports, a diving centre, beach volley ball and plenty of bars, restaurants, taverns and cafes, there’s even a small mini markets if you like to shop, so plenty to do here and all you will need for a the classic beach holiday experience.

Oia, Santorini

Apparently the most famous of all villages of Santorini and renowned across the world for its quiet life and picturesque sunsets (however, you do tend to get fantastic sunsets across Santorini, if the truth be told!).

A beautiful little picturesque cliff top village that you can stroll around in half a day and perfect for the amazing views of the island volcanos of Palia and Nea Kameni and the island of Thirassia.

Situated on the north of the island & just 11 km away from Thira, Oia is choc-full of quaint little windy lanes, traditional village houses and beautiful blue domed churches, as they say & its picture postcard perfect.

With a wide range of little independent shops, taverns, cafes, and spectacular views across the sea,  it’s a great place to visit from Thira or to even stay at for few nights especially if you like the more quieter life, as it’s a lot more sleepy that Thira.

Pretty village, great atmosphere and stunning views, just lovely.

Bonnington Square

Vauxhall, London SW8 1TE

This gorgeous little secret enclave is a sweet little hideaway where you can hang out sipping coffee and eating home-made cake for as long as ‘you’ feel fit!

Found in the heart of Vauxhall, South London and apparently built around the 1870s to house local railway workers the square became famous in the mid-1980s when all of the then abandoned houses that were awaiting demolition became squatted and where then transformed and given a whole new lease of life, which today has transpired into an adorable, green and gorgeous little hidden space and the envy of all those that visit.

Apart from the lovely green community gardens with fully fledged trees, complete with local sculptures and colourful art works, theres Italo, a stylish Italian corner coffee shop and delicatessen with daily changing lunch menus and fresh bread and also the volunteer-run vegetarian cafe serving a delicious selection of artisan coffees and teas and beautiful homemade cakes from the carrot to the flapjack.  

This lovely little community space is open to all respectful visitors who want to see how true community spirit can have a real influence and impact over large scale property developers who seem to want to make everywhere look the same, regimented and corporate! This super little gem is packed full of atmosphere tucked away in the heart of London and TG for the people who managed to save it from the brink!

Zip Now London

Carlisle Lane, Lambeth, London SE1 7LE

If you love fun and adventure, then you will love Zip Now London’s 225 metre zip line (currently situated in Archbishop’s Park, Lambeth) and apparently the biggest and fastest city zip line in the world.

The whole process is so well organised, you need have no fear! And you cannot be better looked after. Upon arrival you will be all-kitted up, harnessed and run through the whole process, safety practices and away you go!

The Wire is 35m above the ground (so don’t look down) in-fact the scary bit is probably climbing the ten flights of stairs to the top of the starting tower! But when you do eventually get there the view is spectacular looking over the London Skyline, River Thames, Houses of Parliament and beyond.

Once you leave the Zip platform and are sailing through the air (and over the tennis gardens & courts below) there is only one word to describe this experience and that is exhilarating!

Once your ride is over (sad face) there are two choices to get down, you can either walk down (doing an old School decent) or for an additional but nominal fee you can choose to descent on the ‘Mega Drop’ (a 15m-high freefall from the top of the second tower) something that can only be described as a cross between a Bunji Jump and a freefall rope drop! But equally as much fun (and fear) as the zip wire itself.

All in all a great morning of fun was had by all and we would do it again in a heart-beat! Feel the fear and do it anyway, your only young once!!!

Highly recommended by ificould, an overall amazing fun experience.

Zip Now is in Archbishop’s Park, Lambeth, until 9th September 2018, so book now to avoid disappointment, or check the website for its next home.

Website: https://zip-now.co/

Bonifacio, Corsica

Beautiful Bonifacio, split into two parts, up on top is the stunning old town, packed with beautiful little lanes, historic medieval houses (precariously teetering over the very high cliffs) quaint little churches (apparently founded in 828 AD by Count Bonifacio of Tuscany) and of course, a great choice of lovely little restaurants and café to choose from.

 

Then down below, is the busy marina area, filled with yachts of all sizes and the hotels, restaurant, bars, cafes, and gelato shops appear in abundance. Be prepared we would liken this fashionable marina area to the likes of Saint-Tropez or Puerto Banús so pack your outfits and make sure your wallet is ready.

 

Surrounded with beautiful mountains, amazing beaches and islands it’s the perfect destination to hangout, eat drink and be merry.

 

Lavezzi Islands Corsica

If you love just getting away from it all then jump on a boat and head over the Iles de Lavezzi (a beautiful group of small uninhabited islands just off the coast of Bonifacio in Southern Corsica) dotted with beautiful sandy beaches, secluded coves, island nature reserve walks and the most gorgeous warm azure-coloured sea paradise you could wish for

 

There are quite a few boat companies you can utilise from Bonifacio Marina that will pop you over but be sure to compare prices as it’s a competitive market and you want the fairest deal and upon arrival on the island, it’s just a short footpath walk to the secluded cove/beach of your own choice, pick it and settle!

 

Other islands within the vicinity include Porto-Vecchio, Cavallo (island homes of the super-rich) Pointe de Sperone and several little pretty rocky inlets (Calanches) so If you want to see all, we would suggest you just grab the day tour, you even get to see the stunning Blue lagoon on your way back to Bonifacio.

 

A paradise island experience that’s a must whilst visiting Southern Corsica.

 

Recommended by ificould

La Maddalena Archipelago, Sardinia, Italy

A must do trip when visiting Northern Sardinia, just hop on a boat for approx.1hour from Santa Teresa Gallura (or 30 minutes from Palau) and enjoy every minute of landing on the shores of the truly stunning town of La Maddalena, the principal town on the main island of the North-eastern Sardinian archipelago, apparently consisting of of over sixty islands, islets and rocky formations.

 

This quaint little town is very attractive and you will just love an afternoon either wandering around its unique little shops or just eating, drinking and totally relaxing in one of the towns beautiful cafes or restaurants soaking up the atmosphere of this very pretty little town.

 

With its stunning and beautiful unspoiled beaches, crystal clear shimmering vivid blue and turquoise seas and coves you will not fail to be impressed with its sheer beauty and apparently it was the final home of Italian Icon Giuseppe Garibaldi (on the island of Caprera)

 

Across the spread of the islands you will find umpteen white unspoilt sandy beaches, some isolated and unvisitable but others that you can just relax, swim and bathe in those beautiful clear and still waters.

 

There’s small cute towns, totally secluded white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, preserved coves and a beautiful striking mountainous backdrop, there’s not much more you could want from a Mediterranean paradise, and just a very short distance from the Sardinian main-land.

 

One word, stunning! Do it, you just cannot!

Hotel Oca Vila de Allariz & Spa

Paseo do Arnado Esq. Rua O Fuxon, s/n, 32660 Allariz, Galicia

Situated in the very picturesque Galician village of Allariz, this lovely Spa Hotel is set in a fantastic location, aside the beautiful flowing River Arnoia, a stunning medieval village, breath-taking country side views and its very own relaxing Spa & thermal centre, there’s not much more you could want!

The SPA part of the hotel has active pools and sensory showers, Turkish baths, ice cabins, steam baths, saunas and a gym and were told, their most popular offering is the Niagara baths with a thermal pools choc-full of treatments and beauty therapies.

Just 12.4 miles from the larger city of Ourense, this stylish& functional hotel has a lovely remote countryside vibe, however, there’s plenty to see and do in the village, should you wish to venture away from your spa & thermal pools! (just a 10 minute walk to the lovely village centre).

The rooms are very large and come with beautiful en-suite bathrooms, complete with luxurious matching white robes, separate shower rooms and toilets and a very large tinted glass window in to the sleeping area, that you can just soak in and watch the view of the river from the comfort of the very large bath tub.

With its own restaurant that combines both traditional Galician and Mediterranean cuisine, a large outdoor terrace and undisturbed views of the Arnoia River and medieval bridge of Vilanova your experience will be full.

A wonderful relaxing spa hotel & experience set in lovely relaxing countryside location and only 5 minutes away from the Restaurante Acea da Costa (also reviewed by iF, just the perfect weekend retreat.

Tromsø Villmarkssenter

Stortorget 1, 9008 Tromsø, Norway

This is one of the many adventure companies that Tromsø has to offer and the one we eventually picked to support us in attempting to see the world famous Northern Lights

Located on Kvaløya (Whale Island) about 25 minutes from Tromsø, we thought we’d better consider our option, just in case we weren’t lucky enough to see the Lights, so we opted to cuddle some Husky puppies along the way too, yes! Husky puppies.

With over 300 Alaskan huskies on Whale Island, your definitely guaranteed to see at least one of them if nothing else and they are adorable!

There’s night and day dog sledding trips on offer, northern lights safaris, glacier hikes, mountains hikes and kayaking trips in the summer, and if you fancy staying overnight in one of the original style Sami tents wrapped up in a sleeping bag right next to the log fire then you can do that too.

We spent an evening on Whale Island, warming ourselves around an outdoor camp fire, padded from head to foot in wonderfully insulated and toasty artic snow suits, toasting marshmallows over the fire before heading out into the wide open planes to hopefully spot what we originally came for, the ever changing and fantastically swirling Northern lights.

We said hi to the local Reindeer, cuddled the adorable Husky puppies and hung out with their beautifully behaved and affectionate parents (all 300 of them!) ate traditional Norwegian fish stew in the open fired Sami tent and warmed ourselves from the bubbling hot coffee pot accompanied by a delicious slice of homemade Chocolate Torte!!

And guess what! We actually saw the lights (Phew!) and it was a thoroughly amazing, ore inspiring and an experience we will NEVER forget.

Highly recommended and a must whilst visiting Norway, especially the cute little town of Troms, a great little town with interesting museums, great restaurants and café, a mountain cable car offering stunning views of the island and wonderfully contemporary Artic Cathedral to boot!

Good Luck, they are a natural phenomenon and not always guaranteed! SO fingers and toes crossed!

http://www.villmarkssenter.no/

Cefalu, Sicily

No other word can describe Cefalù other than stunning. Its small but it definitely hits the mark, if you like a slower paced holiday offering beautiful views, fantastic food and a choice of beach front to while away the hours.

There’s a piazza, beautiful squares, a cathedral, a selection of churches, Arab-Norman architecture, quaint little lanes and a wide choice of restaurants and bars that could keep you going for a least two weeks for starters! This picture perfect medieval town will bowl you over on arrival and if it was good enough for Giuseppe Tornatore to choose it as the set to film parts of his much-loved and stunning 1980s classic movie ‘Cinema Paradiso’  then its good enough for us!

The exquisite honey-hued stone buildings, long sandy beach (a cute little town beach) narrow cobbled streets, mosaic-adorned cathedral and jaw dropping mountain backdrop will pull you in immediately and that before you set eyes on its cute little port lined with fishing boats and fishermen counting the days catch.

Siracuse, Sicily

On the south-eastern coast of Sicily lies Siracuse, a city (and attached island, Ortigia) which is as elegant as it is beautiful.

 

Oozing with charm, history and beautiful natural landscapes,

 

Siracuse is divided into two, an urban section (which is currently going through a transition and makeover and fast becoming something of a cool and hip quarter packed with trendy new shops, bars, cafes, restaurants, boutique hotels and of course, fantastic Pizza and Gelato establishments.

 

Then there is the stunning old town on the adjoining island of Ortigia (joined by two small bridges) this part is more frequented by tourists due to its stunning appearance and unique atmosphere. Ortigia is the historical heart of the city and is just one square kilometre in size.

 

The architecture, the lanes and piazza are brimming with charm and its rare beauty will make you fall in love with it immediately, this is the main reason its gained it worthy UNESCO World Heritage status, it’s a truly wonderful and special place.

Le Nid

Tour de Bretagne, Place de Bretagne, 44047 Nantes, France

 

This cool little 360 degree café/Bar is sat on the 32nd floor of this 1970s tower block, the Tour Bretagne. 144 m (472 feet) above the city of Nante the view is spectacular panoramic

 

Le Nid (the nest) is splattered with fun graphic design cartoon the space is bright, fanciful and fun, park yourself in an egg shell chair whilst sipping your coffee or Martini, or grab a space on the enormous soft padded tail/back of the half-stork, half-heron that cascades arounds the rim of the whole floor, leading right to the bar at the very tail and who watches over the city of Nantes by day and night.

Its imaginative, it’s fun and its different, so if you have a head for heights give the nest a go.

 

With admission at only 1 Euro, there’s nothing to lose and on a clear day the views really are mesmerising.

The Thief

Landgangen 1, 0252 Oslo, Norway

 

Overlooking the canals of Tjuvholmen and the Oslofjord, and part of this centrally located reclaimed piece of Oslo waterfront, the Thief Hotel offers unspoilt stunning views over this beautiful waterfront bay.

 

With is super-designer interiors (Tom Dixon and Boca do Lobo) this hotel oozes style, innovation and class; it even has its own collection of original artwork dotted about the foyer and reception area by famous artists such as Sir Peter Blake, Jeff Koon’s and Richard Prince.

 

Its stunning furniture and relaxed vibe will make you feel at home the moment you enter. Take dinner in the restaurant or just a drink in the sublime and relaxing bar area, the hotel is unpretentious and welcoming and will make your stay in Oslo feel very worthwhile.

 

If you need anything extra, then Dominic (the Guest Relation Manager) will pull out all of the stops, very friendly, very knowledgeable and very helpful, Dominic will definitely make your stay in The Thief and indeed Oslo, that little bit more ‘special’

Grünerløkka

Situated to the east of Oslo city centre, Grünerløkka is the hip, vibrant and artsy neighbourhood that you just need to be seen in!

 

With its independent designer shops, beauty salons, vintage and second hand stores and its unlimited amount of fantastic bars and restaurants, if you like socialising, shopping and chilling in the trendiest and most happening part of town, then Grünerløkka is where you need to be!

 

Most major cities have their cool happening areas and this is Oslo’s, originally an industrial part of town, this gave the area its large open warehouse and factory size buildings that the trendy’s just love, this space, space and more space has helped create some really interesting outlets, eateries and cool hangouts

 

Grünerløkka is also home to many of the country’s top art schools, and a creative hub for arty and academics alike and It also has the beautiful river Akerselva running right through the middle of it, feeding many of the green spaces, parklands and walking trails along the way that are just perfect for a picnic in the summer months.

 

Go to Grünerløkka and you will be spoilt for choice at the abundance of really cool, really sweet and really quirky independent businesses from the cafés, to the restaurants and the many super cool bars dotted around this area, some dating back to the previous century.

 

Spend a day or two exploring the area, meander in and out of the thrift stores and designer galleries, or rummage through the stalls at the Birkelunden Sunday fleamarket. Grünerløkka is a great little independent neighbourhood, so far hanging on in there and avoiding the call of the major chains and keeping it real.

Holmenkollen Ski Jump

Kongeveien 5, 0787 Oslo, Norway

The Holmenkollen Ski museum (opened in 1923) and huge Jump tower is one of Norway’s most visited tourist attractions. Open year round to visitors, the top of the jump tower will give you spectacular views of Oslo city centre and bay and its stunning surrounding scenery (which looked even more beautiful after the snow storm had just settled).

The Ski Museum is slotted into the mountain, just below the ski jump tower and is interesting to see on your way to the top of the jump.

Apparently the tradition of ski jumping in Holmenkollen goes all the way back to 1892, It has hosted the 1952 Winter Olympics and Ski jumping competitions have been held here every year since 1892, you can tell the Norwegians just love it and so did we!

If you want to see spectacular scenery, you’re not afraid of lofty heights and want to experience what it feels like at the top of a jump before release, then Holmenkollen can do all of that, its definitely worth the short and easy journey up there, especially if the city is covered in thick pure white snow, like it was on our visit, just simply stunning!  

Take Metro 1 from the city centre towards Frognerseteren. Disembark at the Holmenkollen stop and just follow the signs up to the Ski Museum and Ski Jump, approximately a 10 minute walk from the station but so worth it! Don’t go to Oslo without doing

Holmenkollen Jump, breath-taking!

Grand Café Oslo

Karl Johans gate 31, 0159 Oslo, Norway

 

This Grand Hotel best claim to fame is as the venue of the annual winner of the International Nobel Peace Prize, which of course needs somewhere grand to befit that title.

 

This Grand Hotel is situated right on Oslo’s main thoroughfare, the Karl Johans gate and is set right between the Norwegian Parliament building and the Royal Palace on one of Oslo’s prettiest avenues.

 

If you do choose to stay here, it’s only a 5 minute walking distance to one of Oslo's main shopping and cultural areas, as well as its many main sights.

 

Opened in 1874 this is one of Norway’s oldest traditional classic hotels. There are several restaurants throughout the hotel and not forgetting its famous Grand Café, where we couldn’t pass by without stopping for a traditional afternoon fika, while watching the world go by.

 

Apparently a favourite haunt of Henrik Ibsen and Julius Fritzner (the founder) this Grand hotel has style, it has grace and it has class, with its beautiful white granite facade and stunning clock tower, it’s a real Norwegian institution for a reason.

Kinky Boots Musical

Adelphi Theatre, Strand, London WC2R 0NS

Winner of the 2016 Olivier Award for Best New Musical, we certainly know why, it was brilliant, nonstop drag-mania from beginning to end with a great little story about life, survival and determination.

With songs written by Grammy and Tony winning pop icon Cyndi Lauper, you know you’re in with a winner, catchy, memorable and sensitive tunes run through the whole production

Every single cast members gives the performance of their life, you believe them, and they engage you and they just make you smile

Based on a movie released in in 2005 starring Oscar nominated actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, it works perfectly on stage, the set, the production and of course the boots were all spell binding but the best was Lola, who we just fell in love with.

This wonderful, colorful, inspiring and delightful musical production will have to dancing all the way home and put a Cheshire cat smile right across your little face.

Flat Iron Square Flea Market

Flat Iron Square, London SE1 1TD

Tucked away at the back of London Bridge and situated under several railway arches this great little Flea market has no-doubt something you will want to take away with you and what better way to spend your Sunday.

Over flowing with cool vintage finds from across the globe, independent food outlets and food trucks that will have you drooling at the mouth, this is certainly a great little place for a nibble and a wander.

Everything is on offer from clothes and ceramics to furniture and books, you name it, it’s all there and the beauty of it is that every week there something new on offer!

In the summer there are live bands adding to the cool and casual environment where music, food, entertainment, retail and culture all blend together.

Located in the heart of London’s Bankside, Flat Iron Square is easy to get too, close to the Shard, Shakespeare’s Globe and Borough Market, which are all easily done together, one day, if you like a market then this place is for you, it’s not big but it’s perfectly formed.

Runs every Sunday from 10am–5pm.

Coach Inc

200-206 Regent Street, London W1B 5BN

“Coach, Inc. is a leading New York design house of modern luxury accessories and lifestyle brands.  The Coach brand was established in New York City in 1941, and has a rich heritage of pairing exceptional leathers and materials with innovative design”.

Therefore, our invite to the launch of Coach’ new flag ship store on Regent Street was gracefully accepted. A premiere shopping event accompanied by bottomless bubbles and canapés galore, with exclusive access to Coaches newest collections, an introduction to their wonderful craftsmanship Bar and the full attention of all of their polite, wonderfully informative, helpful and knowledgeable staff, making it a fun, wet and windy wintery night ‘up west’!

The premiere launch was timed to celebrate the brand’s 75th Anniversary year. The store is beautifully arranged over 2 floors and sells a range of clothing, shoes and accessories, we were told they even sell exclusive limited edition leather biker jackets, with only 3 of a kind available across the world so if you like exclusive limited edition pieces then this is the place for you.

And who new! Apparently Coach is names after their very first product, the American Coaching Baseball Glove that was made in the finest leather of the time; we always thought Coach was named after a set of leather luggage, so it’s always good to get a bit of back history.

If you like all things quality, then go for it, shop till you drop and don’t forget to say hi to Rexy the resident doorman, who you will need to get past to gain access to the store, but don’t worry, he is big but very friendly.

The Jazz Café

5 Parkway, Camden Town, London NW1 7PG

The Jazz Café, London’s premiere live music venue Is such a wonderfully laid out venue and the perfect size to still feel intimate (just a capacity of 440) and to get the best experience out of your chosen gig.

The Jazz Café bill has welcomed some of the most respected artists from across the globe such as Amy Winehouse, D’Angelo and Roy Ayers to name but a few.

There’s standing (if you want to get the best view in the house) or seating upstairs where you can combine you visit with dinner and still get a great view, it even transforms in to a night club when the gig is complete (Friday night is No Miracles, a Hip Hop night, and Saturdays is home to Soul Power; an eclectic mix of soul and disco).

On our visit we were lucky enough to experience the mesmerising, soulful and gospel renditions from the wonderful Miss Carleen Anderson, an American soul singer, who has had recognisable success within the UK charts and has the voice of an angle, a really cool smooth and extremely talented angel that is.

“Carleen is the daughter of the singer Vicki Anderson and stepdaughter of Bobby Byrd, and is best known as lead singer of the Young Disciples as well as for her own solo career. 

In 1999 – 2000, Carleen accepted the offer from the Brand New Heavies to stand in for their lead singers, N'Dea Davenport and Siedah Garrett, to promote the Brand New Heavies ‘best of’ album, Trunk Funk, from January 1999 to September 2000 on a worldwide tour”.

If you partial to a spot of live music, eating, drinking, socialising and dancing then this is it!

Primrose Hill Market

St Paul's School, Elsworthy Road, NW3 3DS.

Every Saturday, 10:00-15:00

A local farmers market that occurs on a weekly basis (every Saturday) between 10am and 3pm at St Paul’s School, Primrose Hill Road, North London.

Offering a wide range of seasonal and homemade produce, sold at a local level, featuring quality products such as Artisan cheeses, Specialist Charcuters and Nordic smoked salmon, as well as an array of mouth-watering handcrafted sweet treats and luxury bakes, thy even had a burger grill serving delicious and juicy homemade burgers .

What’s nice about this market, is the diverse collection of small stallholders, offering a wide selection of good quality produce, it’s not bargain basement cheap but you will definitely get what you pay for, not forgetting the wide selection of craft beers made by small independent breweries.

“Look out for fish straight off the boat, locally made cheese, raw milk, butter and cream, preserves and chutneys, sugar and dairy-free produce, juices, sweet and savoury bakes, smoked salmon, fresh fruit and vegetables, meat, poultry and olives”

Mercato Metropolitano

42 Newington Causeway, London SE1 6DR

This spectacular space will just draw you in, housed within the various out buildings that were once a huge paper factory, Mercato Metropolitano spans over 45000 ft. and has both indoor and outdoor space, where you can sit and eat food from their amazing and vast range of Italian counters, it’s your choice.

Excellently and beautifully planned across the whole factory footprint, the Mercato presents a plethora of small individual Italian food outlets/counters all under one roof, In fact, you will be spoilt for choice when you have to decide ‘what’ to pick to eat. Sharing some similarities to South London’s Brixton Village, Mercato is made up a large number of small counters where you buy the food of your choice and then eat it in the communal area you feel more at home.

All of the food on offer is produced in Italy and includes a butchers, fishmongers, bakers, various coffee counters and not forgetting the cheesemongers, charcuterie, pasta makers and of course the pizza stalls, if you like Italian food then look no further, it’s a no brainer, you will love this place.

Based on its original sites in Turin and Milan, Italy, you would be forgiven for thinking you were in the heart of these two cities, whilst your there, most of the staff (if not all are Italian) and the food is of the finest quality, watch this space, this place is destined to be a rip roaring success, we LOVED it!

And, not forgetting there are various bars dotted about, the most amazing wine shops and of course the Italian Mercato itself, selling all things Italian but a word of warning, the Mercato isn’t cheap but then, you ‘do’ get what you pay for!

In addition there is a gym, a barber shop and even a pop-up hotel on site and a really cool pop up cinema, where you can relax on giant bean bags, lying on top of crushed pine, giving the illusion of an outdoor cinema viewing (without the cold) this place is vast and you will need time to get around it and if you don’t manage that, then you WILL be back, this place is fantastic.

Fullerö Handel

Fullerö, 755 94 Uppsala, Sweden

 

A mix of interior shop, cool garden centre and cute little café out on the Swedish countryside (close to Gamla Uppsala) just a 20 minutes’ drive north of Uppsala, 2000 sq ft of goodies and gifts on offer to browse and shop to your hearts content.

 

If you get bored of that which we doubt, feel free to take a fika (light refreshments) in the gorgeous and very green gardens that are part of this estate. Fullerö offers a relaxing atmospheric environment to stroll around whilst shopping for high quality household goods. Go on treat yourself.

 

Upplandsmuseet

S:t Eriks torg 10, 75310 Uppsala, Sweden

This great little informative Uppland County Museum (housed in the old Academy Mill building from 176o) is set on a small islet in the Fyris river.

The museum is spread across four floors and offers collections of both permanent and temporary exhibitions depicting the history of Uppsala and the ‘ancient Uppland over the last 5,000 years via paintings, objects and artefacts and all with an Uppland connection.

The most recent addition to this collection is an exhibition featuring photographs and film depicting the plight of the Syrian refugees fleeing their war torn country and their journey in an attempt to make it to the shores of Europe “in the midst of the refugee catastrophe” is a harrowing depiction of the refugees experiences in reaching the Greek Island of Lesbos alive. Photographer Sven -Olof Ahlgren and reporter Elin Sandow share their work in this interesting and contemporary exhibition.

Admission is free and there’s a small cafe for snacks and drinks (taken outside by the river if you wish) and a small museum offering tasteful souvenirs and local crafts.

 

Steninge Slott

Steninge Slottsväg 141, 195 91 Märsta, Sweden

Steninge Palace declared a listed building in 1969 (Steninge Manor Built 1694-1698) is a ‘very pretty’ baroque style palace overlooking Lake Mälaren just outside Stockholm.

You can tell the palace was inspired by the beauty of a Classic French Château, as its elegance and style completely shines through.

Apparently the estates history dates back to the 13th century, so if you’re looking for history, here’s where you will find it. A couple of hours at the palace should suffice before heading off on part b of your road trip, its small but perfectly formed.

Steninge Palace Cultural Centre also resides on the premises, with its garden centre and very stylish café offering all things Swedish. There’s also a very large designer outlet shop attached where you can buy top of the range designer goods in-between, during or after your snacks.

Rosersbergs Slottshotell

Slottsvägen 203, 195 95 Rosersberg, Sweden

A really great day out into the Swedish countryside for all of the family.

Rosersbergs Slott (one of the Royal Palaces of Sweden) a 17th-century royal palace in the Mälaren countryside and situated on the shores of Lake Mälaren, just on the outskirts of Stockholm itself.

Standing very grandly, this palace was originally built in the 1630s and became a royal palace in 1762, when the state presented it to Duke Karl the younger brother of Gustav III of Sweden.

A beautiful location on the equally beautiful shores of Lake Mälaren, an ideal spot to wander through its extensive gardens and park area or to take a picnic down by the water’s edge.

This stunning and peaceful place is well worth the visit, if you have time and if you don’t, then make time, it is well worth the trip and it even has an English garden with cute little winding paths to explore.

If you fall in love with this place, don’t worry, you can easily stay over, there’s a 63 room hotel right on site, offering all mod cons in a perfect period setting.

There's also a quirky little museum cafe serving really affordable freshly made sandwiches and a gorgeous array of Swedish cakes. Feel free to take your ‘Fika’ (refreshment break) on the terrace looking out over the stunning gardens and down to the waters edge, perfect on those lazy summer days.

The Island of Vaxholm, Stockholm

This beautiful and buzzy little Swedish town is a great place for a day out of the city where Stockholm archipelago meets this friendly little town. The name Vaxholm comes from Vaxholm Castle, which was constructed in 1549 on an islet with this name on the inlet to Stockholm, for defense purposes, by King Gustav Vasa.

 

Getting there: You can either go by bus, drive or if you have time, just catch the "Waxholmsbåten" boat at Strömkajen in front of Grand Hotel in central Stockholm direct for a boat journey you will not forget.

 

You will be sailing for approximately one hour before finally landing in the bay of Vaxholmsfjärden and setting your eyes on the beautiful and romantic circular Vaxholm Castle (fortress Kastellet) where, if you wish, you can stay the night within the walls of the castle in this gorgeous little B&B should you not be able to tear yourself away.

 

A gorgeous location that offers both history and beauty and a perfect taste of the Swedish Archipelago that should not be missed on ‘any’ trip to Sweden.

 

The Hayloft

300 Southport Rd, Lydiate, Liverpool L31 4HH

Cute converted Farm Barn Café in the lush countryside grounds of Lydiate Hall Farm. Organic food on offer and all freshly grown right on the farm and if you like a ‘Full English’ then prepare yourself for what’s called  the ‘Super Full English’ good luck with that one, its huge and its full! And all brought to you by the very friendly & chatty staff (well it is up North)

Set in the gorgeous countryside atmosphere, with barns and out buildings, a field full of very chunky sheep, a cute little duck pond and stunning friendly peacocks ‘everywhere’ you look (the beautiful Peacock feathers are scattered around the grounds and your more than welcome to collect them up for a 50p donation to a children’s hospice, nice touch).

There’s also a traditional ‘farm shoppe’ offering all of the local-grown fruit, veg and homemade jams and a lovely little forest trail, taking in the a old ruins of a manor house with the original plot dating back as far as 1410.

Looking out of the barn windows you see the stunning views over the working fields and the pretty little duck pond out front, they even sell bird seed bags for the kids to feed the ducks and the Peacocks. Stunning British countryside, it’s what you would expect.

Lambeth Country Show

Brockwell Park, Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 July 2016, 12 noon - 8pm

Norwood Rd, London SE24 9BJ

The Lambeth Country Show returns to Brockwell Park for its 42nd year and shows ‘NO’ sign of slowing down. A fantastic two day festival of fun, food and flowers! For all the family, young and old, hipsters and not so hipsters there’s something for everyone serving up the very best of the city and countryside.

“With all the attractions of a traditional country fair plus much more. Horticultural shows, sheep dog & owl displays, home grown vegetable and flower competitions, numerous craft & food stalls and its very own on site farm will be there for all to enjoy. All this will be on offer and more with a distinctively urban south London vibe”.

With a main stage offering music from around the world (pop, dub, afro-beat, disco, folk, ska, samba bands and soul) there’s something for everyone’s taste and that’s not just the music, the food is exceptional and comes from as far as the African to the South American continents and beyond.

From Scrumpy jack (served in your own individual Cider Barrel) to Pimms and Lemonade served in Traditional Brit Beakers at the Village Green, you’ll definitely spend the day with a smile on your face

Believe it or not, entry remains 'free' in 2016, but continues to rely on visitors making donations on entry and at designated donation points across the site.

If you didn’t make it this year, put it in your diary for 2017! it’s a day out NOT to be missed, its brilliant!

Roma

Hot, Hot, Hot, Rome in June is ‘Very Hot’ but what a wonderful city to explore, eat good food in and just enjoy being a tourist in! And the romance is still definitely there too (Amore).  The beautiful buildings are endless, as are the plethora of amazing restaurants on offer from the top of your budget to a Pizza slice you won’t go Hungary.

The perfect city to just stroll around (even in the heat) and on every corner you will find some kind of Roman holiday delight. 

We just completely fell in love with this city all over again (it’s been a while) and the area we chose to stay in this time was perfect (the Navona District). Literally right next to the river, not in the slightest bit touristy and surprisingly ideal for visiting the Vatican (approx. an 8 minute walk) and some of the other famous sights such as the Pantheon. We were also spoilt for choice on the range of local cafes & restaurants (with a more local feel) and will have to go back to finish the job! (See taste global).

The Navona District is considered to be the heart of the city’s historic center with its beautiful little lanes filled with antiques and modern fayre it was a sheer delight to wander around.  

One minute you can be in a bustling piazza, monument or museum, the next a romantic or curious cute little lane and street artists & portrait painters just appear from nowhere.

For us, Rome wouldn’t be the same without a visit to the relatively new and stunning, MAXXI Art museum (Creative Eye) created by the late great Zaha Hadid and we were also lucky enough to happened upon an exceptional collection of UK born Banksy’s amazing art works (Creative Eye) which was a real coo.

Rome is and will always be one of our favorite cities; it’s a city that breathes history, romance and a whole lot of hidden little secrets and surprises to boot. Bella Bella!

Camogli‏

Ahhhhh, we left our heart in Camogli (well a little piece of it at least!). Situated in the Liguria Region close to the Italian Riviera (between Genoa and Portofino) Camogli is basically a cute little fishing village rather than a well-known beach resort (even though it has a very good stretch of beach, but which is mainly used by locals).

It mainly consists of a stony/pebbly beach, a small windy promenade, offering some small shops, cafes and a very decent selection of restaurants (see Taste Global) a beautiful domed church on a short peninsula and views to die for!

Camogli also has a few little narrow lanes to wander through (but not many) a couple of great Gelato shops but is probably most recognizable for its pastel-painted ‘tenements’ (traditionally and beautifully painted tall buildings)  that range between six or seven story’s high and are very very old.

Not all trains stop at Camogli (which is nice and we think helps keep its character) but its location is perfect for reaching all of the beautiful towns and villages that make up the Ligurian region.

Portofino‏

Italian village choice of the stars! And you will see why when you arrive (it has quite a few well known expensive shops). Small but perfectly formed and consisting of lots of little gorgeous windy streets and a very picturesque chocolate box harbor.

Its only small, so it won’t take you long to explore and then you can just relax at one of its many cute little restaurants and cafes whilst watching the small and very large boats and people come and go.

If you are feeling slightly more energetic, you could walk up the many (but staggered) steps until you reach the quaint little Church of St. George, it has a simple interior, however, its location is breathtaking, perched on top of the Portofino headland it looks out across the sea and down upon the beautiful harbor below, it’s worth the short climb even if it’s only to get the most fantastic vantage point for taking photographs of the pretty scenes all around.

 

San Fruttuoso Abbey & Beach

San Fruttuoso is the most adorable hidden cove imaginable, not much more than a gap in the rocks it sits there beautiful and proud to be special.  Slightly hidden from prying eyes it feels very secluded and special but that’s because it is!

Situated within the mountainous coastline and only accessible from the sea or on foot, you arrive on its tiny beachfront whilst gazing upon its ancient stone Benedictine monastery and it’s Christ of the Abyss.

You are still able to walk around the cove quite easily (even though there are quite a few steps) and visit the monastery (for a minimal charge) and you can even walk up to the top of the sixteenth-century watch tower for spectacular views out across the beautiful and glistening Mediterranean sea.

We went for the boat option but you can walk there over the hill tops arriving via the old mule path until you reach the lower seafront. You can also swim in the gorgeous little bay and if you walk around to the next bay (part of the same cove) you will find an even more secluded and less populated beach that you can lounge around on all day (or at least until the last boat leaves for Camogli, Santa Margherita or Portofino situated either side of the cove).

If your planning on visiting Portofino, then please, don’t miss it out, you won’t regret it, you can spend an hour or two here or the best part of a day it gorgeous with a capital G!

Cinque Terre (blog picture is Riomaggiore)

Given UNESCO World Heritage Site inscription in 1997

Cinque Terre is a place that everyone should see at some point, if they are able to.  It consists of five small (centuries-old) seaside villages set next to each other along the absolutely stunning Italian Riviera coast. Each village has its own character but all feature beautiful seafront locations, very colorful houses, gorgeous churches and fortresses and pretty little buildings and restaurants.

Each of the five are as beautiful as the next (hence their popularity) and all hold their own personality. Most if not all consist of steep terraces, colorful little wooden fishing boat’s bobbing around in their harbor and restaurants serving the freshest of local produce you can get.

Base in the Liguria region of Italy all five of these little villages (Monterosso al Mare, Vernazza, Corniglia, Manarola, and Riomaggiore) will make you smile and you may even leave a bit of your heart there.

There are a few ways to arrive at each village, either by trail, train or passenger ferry running between the five villages (except Corniglia which is on assessable by train)

If you’re feeling fit (or a bit mad!) you can do a walking trail between all of the villages (the Azure Trail) but beware; some trails are 3 hours apart! We did the walking trail between Monterosso al Mare and Vernazza which took approx. 1.5 hours, it was hot, there were a lot of steps and small ledges, plenty of coastline, forest and small waterfalls that all needed navigating but it was worth every minute, the views from up there were breathtaking & we would do it again in a heartbeat! It’s a fun, slightly tough but unique experience and your reward at the end of the trail is definitely worth the walk, spectacular!

Maltby Street Market

Ropewalk, London SE1 3PA

Hidden away down by Tower Bridge (between Maltby Street and Millstream Road) Ropewalks is a great little place to hang out with friend, eat and drink cocktails (from the obligatory jam jars but you don’t have too!) It’s a lively little street market with a selection of food stalls, pop-up shops and bars, various international eateries and cool little restaurants/cocktail bars built in under the arches. It can be a bit tricky to find but when you find it, you will love it.

An excellent selection of food from across the globe includes, German sausages (all kinds) mixed seafood delights, fabulous combinations of grilled & cured meat dishes, Greek oils, and honeys and preserves the list goes on. We especially like Monty’s Deli where you can get an amazing authentic Reuben’s sandwich or proper Jewish chicken soup. 

Don’t miss the amazingly fresh coffee (& cakes) on offer at the independent coffee cart and if you want something stronger than coffee you’re in luck and will be spoilt for choice, all available at this lovely (little) market!

God's Own Junkyard

Unit 12, Ravenswood Industrial Estate, Shernhall St, London E17 9HQ
 
Ok, this might feel like it’s in the middle of nowhere for some but were sure you will love it when you eventually get there. A great space in what feels like an old junkyard made up of various little interesting spaces to potter around, selling all things vintage neon!

Apparently it’s the oldest sign makers yard in London and the owners have created many fantastic and iconic art pieces and neon signs for the public, celebs and art dealers alike (David la Chappelle, Martin Creed etc..) There are hundreds of fascinating new & used neon fantasies, salvaged signs, vintage neon’s, old movie props and retro displays for you to explore and wander through and who knows, you make even take one home! From huge expensive pieces to small affordable pieces, if you like neon you’ll love them all. 

With the feel of an old fairground or spooky circus ring, you’re bound to see something you like and if you don’t, it’s great to just smooch around. There’s a small cafe with an outdoor space within the actual studio and a selection of pop up food and drinks stalls within the complex, where you can sit outside and eat and drink al fresco.

A great little day out and on the way back to the tube you could always cut through all the little secret village lanes and passages that make up the original old Walthamstow Village. Who new! Gorgeous!

Herne Hills Sunday Farmers Market

Every Sunday between 10:00am - 4:00pm (right outside Herne Hill Railway Station)

A buzzy, livley and fun market, serving all kinds of home made fresh foods (and drinks) from across all over europe and the world, with stalls ranging from vintage clothing, furniture & interiors to paintings, prints, plants & pies (Sweet & savoury).

A great place to hang out, eat and listen to the live music, on the set-up village green. Eat really fresh great food and mingle with the friendly crowds (and cute dogs). One of the better inner-city food markets, in this lovely and distinctive little city-village.

If you havent been to Herne Hill you will love it, one of South Londons little secrets, trust us! and if you dont like it? Just take your fresh food purchases and go sit in the stunning Brockwell Park, right opposite, its beautiful or pop into one of the three really cool gastro pubs, right there! (Milkwood, The Commercial or The Florence).

A must. :-)

 

Chicago Architecture Boat Tour

465 N McClurg Ct, Chicago, IL 60611, United States

If you ever visit Chicago, DO NOT miss out on this amazing little architectural tour by boat (and what a lovely little boat it was too).

As you sail down the Chicago River weaving in and out of all the amazing buildings that make up the Chicago Skyline you will be enthralled by the narrative provided by the very experienced (and funny) boat guide. You will be told in detail about the more than 50 "cloud busters" around the city, their history both ups and downs and all from the comfort of your floating seat! You will be given the history behind each skyscraper, its historical significance and events that have happened along the ways that make this city the amazing place it is today, all feeding into making Chicago one of the world’s centres of modern architecture.

It was 90 min of pure bliss! The guide was excellent!! & you won’t be disappointed, even if you don’t like architecture (???) you will just love seeing the city from these very different angles.

Just Do It! 

SpringTide: Whale Watching & Eco Tours

1119 Wharf St, Victoria, BC V8W 1T7, Canada

After some brief researching and asking around, we decided to go with the company with over 23 years of experience (Spring Tide) situated right on the harbour front and it turns out it was an excellent choice. The Captain of our boat (a lovely Englishman from up North) knew all there was to know about killer whales without being annoying! He shared his knowledge upon request and we could tell, he was very passionate about the whales, their habitat and very careful to do this the right way, he didn’t chase or scare the wales, which was lovely to see and his respect and love for them was admirable.

A small blow up boat that could do some speed and with about 8 passengers in total, made our whole experience even better, it was low, so we were close to the water, kitted out in dry suits and had a brilliant time bouncing across the waves until we reached our destination. The boat was a perfect way to see the whales close up in their natural habitat (but not too close up as to scare them) It took about an hour for us to find them but when we did, we were in for the treat of a life-time, a medium pod of about 6 or 7 whales and to our amazement there were even babies, well, there wasn’t a dry eye in the boat!

A childhood dream brought to life and one of the most rewarding experiences ever! If you haven’t done it we can’t recommend it enough, if you love wildlife in its natural undisturbed habitat, then this is for you. It can get a bit choppy and slightly wet but for the experience of a lifetime, who cares!

The photo featured was taken by us, so you can see just how close we were allowed to get, which wasn’t bad. We will never forget we got to see Orcas in the wild, they didn’t care about seeing us! but we definitely cared about seeing them!

Eurovision Result!

Well that was it! Congratulations Sweden for producing such a FANTASTIC Production. Petra and Mans were genius! The Setting, venue and styling looked second to none.

Of course, we had our favouries.. France, Oz, Ukraine , Russia and Serbia (I) Poland, Czech Rebublic, Ukraine, Sweden and OZ (F).

The Euro party saw lots of screaming, tense moments and of course bubbles!! It was Euro-Fabulous and we think the right song won! Congratulations Jamala from Ukraine, a very worthy winner!!! with her stunning, haunting and controversial song!

See you in Ukraine 2017!!! :Cool

Eurovision 2016

We are VERY excited to watch the Eurovision 2016 at a Euro party in central London on Saturday! May the best country win and let the bubbles flow..

Who will win, who will get nil point and which song will be a summer hit across Europe?

The Eurovision is one of our favourite events of the year, believe it or not! It’s fun, camp, glamourous, kitch and there is always so much to talk about such as, who wore what, what they didn’t wear, who sang like a screaming queen, who didn’t sing at all and so on!

It helps if your friends are also into the Eurovision as well and we have had amazing Euro parties in the past!

I (F) have a few favourites such as Czech Republic, Ukraine, Poland, France and of course Sweden. Lets see what happens on Saturday, good luck to everyone! :-)