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Christmas Time in London!

I was a bit sad this year not being in London during the build up to Christmas since the decorations and buzz around the celebration always gets me in the festive mood! But I did get a chance to head up to London on a few occasions which definitely perked me up a bit!

Southbank always has loads of Christmas markets and this year was no exception! As expected, it was very busy, but even the hoards of people didn’t dampen my mood!

The food market behind the Royal Festival hall was amazing and all the stalls were calling at me to choose them with their enticing smells and displays! A delicious duck burger from Frenchie won me over as I can never resist some duck!

A visit to London wouldn’t be complete without heading to Covent Garden! No matter how many times I’ve been, it always makes me smile as there is always something going on and the atmosphere is just so lovely! This time, there was an impressive Lego sculpture of some reindeer and Santa! I dread to think how long that took to make!

Out of all the lights in London, Oxford Street was definitely the most disappointing since they used the same boring white balls as last year. You would have thought that one of the busiest streets would have the most impressive lights?

I always look forward to seeing what the Selfridges window displays look like, and this year they seemed to be themed around fairytales. My favourite window was definitely the one with the gingerbread house!

We also headed up to the top floor of John Lewis as they had ‘Monty’s Winter Garden’ with the penguin from their Christmas advert. We could see the whole of Oxford Street from above and I felt so far removed from all the hustle and bustle of it all!

A trip to Winterville in Victoria Park was also on the cards. I’d been to Winter Wonderland a couple of years ago so wanted to go somewhere new and see what the hype was all about. It was quite quirky and definitely suited East London with its random market stalls selling the oddest of things!

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Bournemouth, Sandbanks, Poole

A few weeks ago I headed to Bournemouth with Luke for a well needed break from work. It was rather odd heading off on the train during work hours since it was the first of my allocated annual leave I’ve taken. It felt a bit like I was skiving! But it was great knowing that I was getting paid for it! Oh the joys of paid work!

We were sooo lucky with the weather that weekend as glorious sunshine shone down on us! One of my favourite places is the beach! No matter where it might be in the world, there’s just something about the sea and the calming waves that just makes me smile :) So it was great that our hotel was literally just a five minute walk to the beach!

We arrived in the late afternoon and it was soon pitch black so we had a bit of a wander around Bournemouth town centre which had a ‘Festival of Light’ which was a bit disappointing to be honest! Definitely much more something for kids to have a play around and be amused by!

There was also a German market which was very busy but pretty :) I do love markets! Even though I’m not one to really buy anything from them, I still love just peeking at all the different things on offer! We also managed to see a guy doing a fire show which was amazing!

On our second day, we visited was Sandbanks which has the fourth highest land value in the world! Never thought somewhere like that would be in England! The houses there definitely didn’t disappoint as they were all so grand and impressive! A few years in my job and I’m sure I’ll be able to afford one ;) (or maybe just a brick…)

We also headed to Poole for a bit of a wander and the Twin Sails bridge was definitely an attraction in itself!

Poole

Poole

I am such a sucker for sunsets so we just had to stop to watch it! They’re just so beautiful and since it was a clear day it was even more stunning!

When we were watching the sunset, a guy cycled past on one of the most amazing bikes! It was like double the height of a normal bike and I just had to take a sneaky pic ;) I have no idea what happens when he stops! Does he just topple over or does he have to keep on cycling forever?! Who knows?!

On our third day, we decided to just have a long walk around Bournemouth and all the Chines. When we were walking, it didn’t feel like we were still in Bournemouth as the really tall trees enclosing us and small streams made me feel like I was in a different world.

During our trip, we saw so many different types of beach huts, some more impressive than others! It’s mad how much they probably cost!

Bournemouth beach huts

A walk down Bournemouth pier was also on the cards and we watched another stunning sunset :D

On our last day, we had a few hours before our train left in the afternoon, so we headed east towards Boscombe. We passed a beach hut which is apparently the first municipal beach hut in the UK, although it looked pretty new to me!

First beach hut in the UK

First beach hut in the UK

We also passed loads of huts painted in various shades by Dulux, which I did rather like (the pink ones being my favourite of course ;) )

Beach huts

Beach huts

Boscombe pier had loads of strange musical instruments dotted along it and we probably had a bit too much fun on the last instrument which played out ‘I do like to be beside the seaside’ when we hit the metal tubes!

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Oxford, Bath & Bristol – Day 6

The last day of our holiday! Since our train back home wasn’t until the afternoon, it gave us the opportunity to explore some more parts of Bath :D We headed to Alexandra Park which was just a small walk south of our hotel. There was a bit of a steep climb up to the top of the hill which proved how unfit I am! The views at the top were worth the pain though as they panned across all of Bath :D

View over Bath

View over Bath

We could see everywhere that we had been the past days, including the Royal Crescent and part of the Bath Skyline walk!

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Oxford, Bath & Bristol – Day 5

Okay, so it’s been nearly two months since I last blogged…oops!! I’ve just been rather busy and haven’t had the chance to, but this blog has been feeling rather neglected and I realised that I never actually finished blogging about my holiday!

Day 5 of our holiday was pretty damp to say the least! We planned to go to Bristol and the weather forecast wasn’t looking too promising, but we weren’t going to let a little bit of rain dampen our spirits :P After getting the train there from Bath, we wandered along the river towards the famous Clifton Suspension bridge.

At this point, it started to absolutely hammer it down with rain so being cold and went didn’t put us in the best of moods! After what seemed like years, the bridge was finally in sight!! It was a shame that it wasn’t a clearer day, but nonetheless it still looked quite impressive :)

After the obligatory million photos, we were in desperate need of somewhere warm and dry! Since there wasn’t really anywhere nearby, we headed back towards the centre. The Wetherspoons that we saw was a very welcoming sight! We sought refuge in there and had a much needed burger to fuel us up for the rest of the day!

Thankfully it had stopped raining and was actually rather nice and sunny outside, so we ventured out to explore the rest of beautiful Bristol ;) I’m a big fan of street art and since Bristol is famous for Banksy and all the other graffiti, we went on a bit of a search for Nelson Street as it’s where the street art project ‘See No Evil’ is. Leading street artists from around the world were brought there to transform the multi-storey buildings in a week and it definitely looked pretty cool!

We headed back to Bath in the late afternoon and had an amazing meal at the Tramshed (review coming soon!) :D

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Oxford, Bath & Bristol – Day 4

Since there was no 8am breakfast to wake up for, we had a bit more of a leisurely start. However, the morning was very active as we took a six mile walk on the Bath Skyline which is apparently the most popular National Trust walk :D We made our way along the river to the start point.

As soon as we started, we were greeted with amazing views over Bath. The whole city just seemed so white, as in all the buildings were basically the same colour and it looked quite cool.

Bath Skyline walk

The walk was really fun as we were walking along all different types of terrain ranging from grassy cow fields, forest, roads, and paths :P I was actually quite glad that it wasn’t a boiling hot summer’s day otherwise I think I would have probably melted from all the climbs we did! We reached a part of our walk which met a road and were slightly confused and a kind man helped us on our way. People are so friendly and helpful when you’re not in London, it’s like a whole different world!

We sat down to admire the views over Bathampton before heading on our way. We then somehow ended up in quite a large, eerie field that was filled with odd looking wooden contraptions. As we were near Bath University, I wondered whether this was a weird part of their sports team initiations :P

We then got to Sham Castle and took some photos before the sky started looking rather dark and scary, so we headed back down to the main road and the end of our walk!

We then headed into the centre of Bath for a well needed lunch. Afterwards we had a wander through the area to look at the main sights. We passed Bath Cathedral (not another cathedral I hear you cry!), the Royal Baths, Pulteney Bridge, the Circus, and the Royal Crescent. The day was finished off with a lovely dinner at Cafe Rouge :D

The Circus

The Circus

Royal Crescent

Royal Crescent

Bath

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Oxford, Bath & Bristol – Day 3

It was a very bright and sunny morning so after we’d filled our stomachs with a lovely breakfast, we explored the college grounds a bit more. I still find it mad that every college has its own grounds and cathedral! It’s like a whole new university in itself!

The speediest checkout ever then occurred and a casual hand waved over to the wall to show us where we could leave our suitcases.

We headed up to South Park which was on a bit of a hill so we had nice views over Oxford that were filled with many cathedrals!

South Park

The wind was picking up so we came back down and had a peek at a few more colleges. I really liked the Queen’s College front quad! Everything was just so symmetrical and perfect – definitely satisfying my weird OCD!

Queen's college

Queen’s college

A trip to the Ashmolean museum was next and we had a brief look inside at all the artefacts and old archaeology before exploring the Oxford University Parks which were very well kept.

Our last stop in Oxford was the Pitt Rivers museum which I vaguely remembered visiting when I was 11! It was full of interesting old fossils and some rather scary dinosaurs!

We then returned to Wadham college and were relieved to still find our suitcases there and not stolen :P We grabbed lunch on the go and caught the train to our next city, Bath!

Our hotel overlooked the river and they were very accommodating in giving us a water view room which was really lovely!

We were staying there for three nights and didn’t want to ruin the rest of the holiday by exploring the city too much in the first afternoon, so we had a bit of a meander west along the river before heading to dinner at Prezzo. I opted for two classic pastas and the honeycomb cheesecake which is my absolute favourite :D The restaurant was in an old railway arch and looked pretty cool!

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Oxford, Bath & Bristol – Day 2

Breakfast was included as part of our stay at Wadham college and was served at the rather bright and early time of 8:00-8:30! We woke up refreshed and were the first to arrive in the breakfast hall. We were both pretty impressed with the hall and it reminded me of the Great Hall in Harry Potter! The places were set along the long table in the middle and after choosing our food, we came to the rather hard decision as to where to sit – did we sit in the middle next to other people and increase our chance of awkward conversation? Or right at the end and seem really antisocial?! And would we sit opposite each other or next to each other?! Oh the dilemma! In the end we chose to sit opposite each other near the middle of the table so that other people could choose whether they wanted to be antisocial or not :P The breakfast itself was plentiful with a lovely cooked selection plus cereals, fruit, and croissants. The waiters and waitresses were so attentive, taking your tea and coffee order immediately, replenishing your toast as soon as you’d finished, and they were all so friendly and polite too! I had quite a funny mental image of my old University halls kitchen staff waiting on us hand and foot – no chance!

Wadham college hall

The great thing about having breakfast so early meant that even after filling our stomachs at a leisurely pace, it was still before 9am which left the whole day to explore the city! The plan for the day was to explore as many of the University colleges as possible as well as all the bits and bobs around the city. Many colleges weren’t open yet, but we wandered to Mansfield college and St Catherine’s college which were just behind Wadham college. Mansfield college was pretty small and we were only able to walk around the front area.

Mansfield college

St Catherine’s college came at a bit of a surprise since it looked so modern and totally not Oxford! Don’t get me wrong, the buildings were all very nice and shiny, and at any other University I would have been very impressed, but for Oxford I was more used to the old and grand buildings, not a big metal monstrosity!

We then headed back to the city centre and passed the Bridge of Sighs, Bodleian Library, Sheldonian Theatre, and Radcliffe Camera which all looked rather striking!

Christ Church college was then next on the agenda as it’s probably the most famous Oxford college since the stairs were used in Harry Potter and its hall inspired the film’s Great Hall. It was very nice inside and we visited its cathedral too which was rather large and impressive.

When we left the college it was only midday so we were in a bit of a quandary as to what to do next as the majority of the other colleges weren’t open until 1 or 2pm! We decided to visit Trinity college as it was open now and looked quite inviting every time we passed it on the way to and from Wadham college. We both liked how their gardens had deckchairs which was a bit different!

After lunch, we explored many other colleges in the surrounding area – too many to name them all! They all looked amazing and by the end of it we had become quite the experts at identifying which doors were the college entrances as they were sometimes quite concealed.

Exeter college was one of my favourites and we were shown in by a random old man who was passing by who we theorised must have been a tour guide of some sort as he seemed very knowledgeable about the place. The college grounds overlooked the Radcliffe camera, and as I was taking photos, a tour group passed by and the tour guide asked us if we wanted a photo together. It took us both a few moments to realise what he had said, probably because we’re both so used to everyone in London keeping to themselves so much and being so antisocial!

By the end of the day I think we had grown quite tired of cathedrals! As beautiful as they all are, I think there’s a limit to how many you can see in a day :P We decided to check out the Oxford Castle and investigate its random mound a bit more!

We had a bit of a rest before heading to Slug and Lettuce for dinner. I had a massive burger with pulled pork, chicken, mozzarella cheese, and chips, plus an amazing cookie cup explosion for dessert which definitely left me rolling back to our room! I was stuffed :P