Lille was our last European holiday before I got too pregnant to travel. I wanted somewhere not too far, and this was the first stop on the Eurostar! A beautiful little taste of France was just what the Doctor ordered.
Lille has a lovely old-town, designed for strolling, as well as beautiful large squares. Perhaps best known is the Grand Place, great for meeting, eating, and home of Furet du Nord, apparently the biggest bookshop in Europe. Continue reading
Ghent is the reluctant jewel of Europe. It surprised me by being both chock-full of beautiful architecture, but also being a working city with restaurants, shops etc. Unlike Bruges which is stunning but very touristy, Ghent feels like a “real” city as well as being gorgeous.
My favourite part of Ghent was the Graslei waterfront, full of restaurants and a magnet for people sitting on the steps enjoying a waffle or ice cream watching the river traffic. Continue reading
One day we did a day-trip from Bruges, taking a vintage paddle steamer out to the tiny quaint village of Damme. It was a little tricky to find – we took a bus to outer Bruges and walked through the suburbs to the canal and the waiting paddle-steamer. See directions below.
In sunny weather this would be a pleasant shady trip down the waterways, but otherwise it was a little chilly. It was nice to sit and watch the world go by, but there wasn’t much in the way of scenic views, apart from farmland, a few houses, and a windmill as we arrived in Damme. Continue reading
Bruges is famously one of the most beautiful towns in Europe – and as soon as we arrived, we could see why.
Bruges has canals and rivers a-plenty, criss-crossed by tiny bridges, church spires, and chocolate-box shops selling, appropriately, chocolate boxes. Continue reading
We had never been to Cardiff before but it seemed like a good place for a mini-break. We got a lovely empty train down on Friday night, then spent Saturday exploring the beautiful Cardiff Bay and Sunday in the city centre.
We started our mini-break in the Cardiff Bay area Continue reading
We had a lovely day out in Exmouth, the highlight of which was seeing the biggest jellyfish ever! I literally screamed when it floated went past, even thought I was on the dock and not even in the water! It was like seeing a monster – a massive multicoloured creature, the likes of which I had no idea even existed in UK waters. We saw about 30 in all, and we spent around an hour looking for them and trying to photograph them, shrieking in delight when another one floated past! We are simple people.
The jellyfish were about 2 foot across, and 3 foot long, which is extremely big for the UK. I have seen some scary-looking jellyfish in Florida and took precautions against the super-dangerous Irukandji jellyfish in Australia. So I can imagine monsters like this living in Australia, but in the UK?! Wow. I took photos and looked it up afterwards, and apparently they were Dustbin-Lid Jellyfish, the biggest jellyfish in UK waters. They can grow up to 90cm across, but their sting is only like a nettle so they are fairly harmless. Still – I wouldn’t want to come face-to-face with one of these while swimming! Continue reading
We wanted to have a short break in North Devon and opted for Westward Ho! I’ll be honest – I have avoided this in the past as who has an exclamation mark in their name?! It seemed faintly ridiculous, but to Westward Ho! we went. And Wow! We loved Westward Ho! A beach of endless sand, a simple seaside holiday with fish and chips and ice cream – it was just when we needed.
The beach itself was the piece de resistance – at low tide it stretched on, beautiful flat sand. I couldn’t believe we were in the UK – it seemed more like New Zealand! Continue reading
Broadchurch was one of those TV shows I was hooked on. I couldn’t wait to get home to see the next episode, and speculated endlessly about who-dunnit. When I found out it was based in the Westcountry (as Olivia Coleman’s accent suggests), and West Bay in Dorset to be precise, I decided a visit was in order!
West Bay is dominated by large yellow cliffs. The cliffs are part of the Jurassic Coast and there is always a danger of rock-falls. I have seen many stories in the news about tourists who take risks and either stand on the edge of the cliff, or directly underneath it to get the best selfie. The last rockfall saw 1,000 tonnes of rock and debris falling, so you don’t wanna be underneath that! Continue reading
Portsmouth is a harbour city in Southern England. My Mum had been saying for a while that she wanted to go because of the historic dockyard. I quite fancied being in the sunny south coast with a nice waterfront and Dubai-like sail, while watching the ships pass by. And it was a breath of fresh air.
The Historic Dockyard is quite something. There are various old boats to see, including the Mary Rose, Henry the Eighth’s boat which sank in 1545, saw preserved in silt at the bottom of the harbour for 437 years (Yes, 437 years!!) before being dredged up in 1982. It is just like the Vasa in Stockholm, Sweden, which was on the sea-bed for around 300 years and is perfectly preserved. There are also ships like the HMS Victory which was Nelson’s ship at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and the HMS Warrior from 1860 which was heavily armoured so no-one dared attack it and it never engaged in battle. Note: tickets are expensive and confusing – see the travel tips section at the bottom of this page. Continue reading
Freetown Christiania is an alternative community in Copenhagen. It started in the 1970s by homeless people squatting in the derelict buildings. They then started a self-governing hippy / anarchist community which is still thriving today.
The main central zone is shops, mostly selling drug paraphernalia, cafes, and an art-gallery. The main street is called Pusher Street, for a reason – it is lined with men selling marijuana and the air was thick with weed. Continue reading