36 Before 36 ~ Leave the country for a holiday

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This serves as a round-up post for one of my 36 Before 36 items, despite me now being well into my 37 Before 37 list. 

Last year, I put ‘Leave the country for a holiday or mini-break’ on my 36 Before 36 list, as a way of trying to make sure I saw at least a little bit of the world. I’m not one of these people who has to have a foreign holiday every year, but travelling on a budget is easier than ever, and there are lots of countries I’d like to visit.

As it turned out, I was offered the chance to go on a press trip to a hotel in the Austrian Alps. This was organised through my day job, not through my blog (I can’t imagine that will ever happen!), as I work for a consumer magazine, and luckily enough, my friend Hannah was offered the chance to go as well (Hannah’s my travel buddy anyway, so it was great to do it together!).

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The hotel was Holzhotel Forsthofalm, located in Leogang in Austria. A short flight from Stansted to Salzburg (my inner Sound of Music fan was very happy to be there, even if we didn’t see any of the landmarks!), and then a transfer to the hotel, and we had arrived. It’s a really beautiful hotel, built up from humble beginnings when it was just a family restaurant, to what it is now – all the rooms are made from the forest wood of the mountains, and it’s set at a height of 1050m, so as you can imagine, the views are amazing.

As it was a press trip, the itinerary was all choreographed to really show off how great all the activities at the hotel are. We did lots of yoga, a couple of fitness classes, and also a couple of walks. The yoga classes were great; I don’t really do yoga, though given my job I know all the benefits, and every month when I read the magazine, I make a mental note to either book into a class or do some at home, and then never actually get around to it.

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The fitness classes were a bit more energetic than what I’m used to doing, given that I don’t do an awful lot of exercise at all. I quite enjoyed the bouncing fitness class, as it allowed me to channel my inner Busy Phillips.

My favourite bit of the whole hotel was the rooftop pool, gloriously heated so that despite the chillier temperatures (even in June, you’re still in the mountains), you can spend time in there and only your face is exposed to the cool air. And given that it’s right on the roof, the views are right there to be enjoyed.

It really is a very beautiful hotel, and I’d go back in a heartbeat if my budget ever allows it.

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Radio 2 in Edinburgh

Last year, regarding Simon Mayo broadcasting live from the Edinburgh Festival, I tweeted the following:

I make silly declarations like this from time to time, without really thinking about making them happen. But it did happen this year, and I didn’t have to hitchhike or sleep on a park bench!

I applied for tickets to all of the Drivetime shows in Edinburgh, and told myself that if I got them, I’d definitely go. When I got an email to say that I had been successful for the Tuesday show, I set about working out the best way to do it. In the end, time off work and money considerations meant that I was only able to stay for one night, and I was going to have to travel by coach. I ended up travelling through the night, both there and back, and I can’t say that it was the most wonderful experience of my life, but it got me to Edinburgh for a relatively small amount of money!

All of the BBC events at the Edinburgh Festival take place in a big blue tent at Potterrow. I obviously don’t know the city well at all, but the Potterrow area is part of the University of Edinburgh, as far as I know. As well as the tent, the BBC had set up an area that had a bar, food, a big screen, a children’s area, and a ping pong table! It was a great atmosphere; particularly on Monday when the sun was shining – I sat outside for a while with some people I know from an online group, and watched people coming and going. The only famous person I saw was Rory Bremner, but I’m given to understand it’s a good place to spot BBC personnel! It’s completely free to enter as well, so even if you don’t have tickets for a BBC event, you can still go along and have a drink or something to eat.

I managed to get a ticket for Monday as well as the one I had for Tuesday, so I got to see two shows being broadcast! For someone who is a) a radio geek, b) a Radio Two geek, c) a Simon Mayo fan, and d) a huge Drivetime fan, this was a pretty big deal. Imagine for a moment getting to see one of your favourite radio shows being made; it’s a pretty big deal!




My photos aren’t great, but of course I think it’s more important to savour the moment than to take thousands of photos. The show comes live from Edinburgh, so it follows a similar structure to what is on the radio everyday. As well as the star of the show, we also got to see Matt Williams and Bobbie Pryor at work; two of the team who do sport and travel respectively, and Claire (who you can see in the above photo), who is the producer. I realise this means nothing to anyone who doesn’t listen religiously like I do!


~ Coolest necklace ever, right? Yeah, I know. ~


~ Jo Caulfield and Bridget Christie ~

~ Fred MacAulay and Adam Hills ~

~ Shaun Keaveney, who was a bit drunk on one day (according to him), and a bit hungover on the other (I love him) ~


~ Gyles Brandreth and Joe Lycett (his show is called That’s the Way, A-ha A-ha, Joe Lycett. Best show name ever) ~

~ Andreya Triani, who was the musical guest on Tuesday, and who has the most incredible voice. Her album is ace. ~

~ On Monday, a couple of contortionists came in and did some contorting on Bobbie. ~

~ Mr Mayo ~

I also saw Arthur Smith and Lost Voice Guy doing confessions, the latter of whom was hilarious. You can watch it here, and I’d recommend doing so, because it really is very funny!

Spending seventeen hours on a coach over the course of two and a half days just to see four hours of radio might seem odd to some people, but I am so so so so so glad I went. If the BBC are allowed to return to Edinburgh next year, I’m planning a return trip; I want to be there for the whole week, and see more shows!

I will be writing another post about Edinburgh; I did do some other stuff other than Radio 2 stuff!

Photo an Hour #11 ~ June 2014

I chose Sunday as my Photo an Hour day because I was going to be away for the weekend, and I thought it might make the photos a bit more varied. I completely forgot that the caravan that we stay in when we go on holiday is terrible for phone network, and as a result I had to upload a whole bunch of photos at once at the end of the day! I’m quite happy with the photos themselves though; it was a long and fun day!



9am – I actually woke up at around 7am, but I completely forgot about Photo an Hour for a couple of hours! When I finally did remember we were getting ready to go out, so I just snapped a quick photo.

10am – With four girls and a baby to get ready to go out in a caravan, it can take a while. So an hour after I was getting ready, we were still there, and I decided to paint my nails. I then had to ask my friend V to do my shoes up for me because my nails weren’t dry!


11am – It’s hard getting a photo when you are just about to get into a swimming pool! This was a very uninspired photo of the locker we were putting our stuff into.

12pm – At noon we had just got out of the swimming pool, so I snapped a photo of myself. I am aware that I look far from my best, and also like I am about twelve years old, but I don’t care!


1pm – On our way back from the pool we found a pub and had a carvery lunch. I am always so very hungry after swimming, so this really hit the spot!

2pm – Despite what appearances may suggest, I don’t actually often have a dessert when I go out to eat, but everyone else was having one, and I couldn’t resist the lure of the chocolate fudge cake. It was a massive piece, but it was super yummy, so I ate the lot.


3pm – Despite having been stayed in the same caravan about five times, I had never been to the beach that is across the road before this trip. This time, I went twice! It was a lovely sunny day, so there were lots of people around, so we soaked up some rays (through sun cream, of course), but I quite quickly got bored of the sand getting everywhere. I much prefer when the tide is in and you can walk along the wet sand.

4pm – Yeah, so it was only a couple of hours since I had eaten that monster piece of chocolate fudge cake. I still had an ice cream.


5pm – Time to just chill! Anna and V were napping, as was the baby, so I did a bit of puzzling. It’s a tradition to take puzzle books to the caravan!

6pm – By the time it came to watching the football (which I only had on because everyone else was asleep!), I was getting quite sleepy myself. I think I nodded off for about eight minutes.


7pm – All babies just love mirrors, and this one is no exception. We had some fun in front of the mirror, before it was time for a bath.

8pm – More chilling out, this time I was reading my book. I’ve since finished The Rosie Project, so expect a review soon.

9pm – I really thought I had taken an even number of photos, which is what I always try to do so that they work out evenly in my blog post. But I must have miscounted, as this was my final shot of the day – an unfiltered photo of the lovely sky. I don’t think I’ve ever known the evening sky to be anything but lovely when we go to Camber.

I’m glad I chose a Sunday this time around, and I’m glad that I was away, as I didn’t have to think too hard for most of my photos! It was a quieter month for joiner-inners, but I had two old hands and a newbie!

♥ Louisa at Duck in a Dress joined in on Instagram
♥ Josie at Tales from the Finch’s Beak joined in on Instagram
♥ Saskia at Braids and Books joined in on her blog

I’m trying to bring the date of Photo an Hour forward a little bit, to the start of the month, so I can do my November one before my birthday, which is the twelfth. So July’s Photo an Hour day will be Saturday 19th July. As always, I would love for everyone to join in with me, it’s always such fun to see people’s photos of their day! If you want to join in on Twitter or Instagram, tag your photos with #photoanhour so I can find them easily. If you are taking photos to put into a blog post after the event, send me the link! I am a bit rubbish about encouraging people to join in, though luckily every month Louisa from Duck in a Dress remembers and tweets about it!

Seven down, five to go on number ten of 32 Before 32 – Complete a Photo an Hour post monthly

Afternoon Tea

A traditional English afternoon tea is pretty great, there’s no doubt about that. It involves tea and cake and sandwiches, if you do it right, and there’s not much better than tea and cake and sandwiches.

A little while ago I was sent some Twinings tea and asked to have a little afternoon tea of my own. As the lovely package arrived just before I was headed off on a caravan weekend with my friends, I decided to pack up some teacups and take them with me so we could partake in a little afternoon tea of our own!

We didn’t have any sandwiches, but we did treat ourselves to scones from a lovely bakery in Rye. I know that traditionally, scones at an afternoon tea are supposed to be a bit more bitesized that the one pictured, but I don’t believe in doing anything by half! Jen and I chose a cheese scone each, and Anna and Vicky chose a plain one, with jam (Tiptree jam, of course) and cream.


Of course, the tea was delicious, being Twinings. It hasn’t been around since 1706 for nothing. It’s very good tea!

I also received some peppermint tea, but I’m yet to decide if I actually like it. I’m a bit of a traditionalist when it comes to tea, but I’m always willing to be turned around on that, so if anyone has any recommendations, please let me know!

If you fancy having your own afternoon tea (and why wouldn’t you? Tea, sandwiches and cake, remember?), Twinings have a fabulous afternoon tea menu. I think it’s about time I made a tea cake, I’ve been meaning to for ages!

*Post contains a PR sample. All photographs are my own.