Venice, Italy – So Much More Than Glass and Gondolas!

invoking thoughts of women in masks and powdered wigs roaming through the city after attending yet another outrageous masked ball in the 15th century.

Venice, Italy – So Much More Than Glass and Gondolas!

I’d heard Venice was smelly, damp, expensive, sinking and outdated. Well they got that wrong!

Venice canal
Stupidly big boats are not friends of Venice

OK, maybe it’s sinking, actually it’s tilting and sinking. Yes it’s pricey. However it certainly wasn’t smelly and it was so packed with gorgeous art, stunning architecture, history and irrepressible wow factors that I would have forgiven the city the smell anyway.

Venice - pillar



Venice is awesome, you arrive at the airport and get the boat, yes boat, from the airport to your hotel.

On the island there are no cars, which is no wonder as the pathways wind adventurously between the high and ancient architecture.

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Truly Unique and Unbelievable – Damien Hirst – Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

Wow. I know it’s in the eye of the beholder but maybe they went to a different show to the rest of us.

Truly Unique and Unbelievable – Damien Hirst – Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable

I’d first of all like to give FULL credit to all the artists and sculptors and workers who alongside Damien Hirst produced such a unique awe inspiring exhibition. (Actually two, in separate locations in Venice.)

Damien Hirst - Gold painted sculpture

You produced work that truly brought the ‘Wow’ factor, to almost every visitor through the doors.

Whilst being lucky enough to visit Venice, I also had chance to see this exhibition spread over two venues in the city.

Damien Hirst - coral

A fantastic contrast to all the historic art and culture which packs the city between canals and waterways.

 



I can’t even contemplate how you achieved it, how you managed to get such huge and outrageous pieces into the country let alone into the galleries.

Amazing!

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How to Recycle Your Wedding Dress (Or Other Piece of Clothing That Holds Memories Within Its Threads)

I paid loads of cash for a frock and then paid to destroy it?

How to Recycle Your Wedding Dress (Or Other Piece of Clothing That Holds Memories Within Its Threads)

You now how it goes.

Gorgeous wedding day, fortune spent on your wedding dress, then after the big day it sits in the suit carrier in the wardrobe.

So, guess what, as part of my streamlining and feeble attempts at leading a more minimal life style I decided to cut it up!

Yes really, you heard me right, CUT IT UP!


Well, to be honest I paid someone else to cut it up.

OK, take a breath. I paid loads of cash for a frock and then paid to destroy it?

Yup!

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My Favourite Five Fiction Books to Take Travelling

…whilst pushing your travel boundaries, push your literary ones too!

If you’ve ever been travelling you probably know that one way to survive long flights, bus trips or delays is to carry a good book.

These are just a few of my favourites, after all I love books and often read one a day if I’m on a beach day!

1. The Motorcycle Diaries – Che Guevara

One of my favourite books, short, easy to read and essential reading before any trip to South America or Cuba.

My Goodreads review

2. The Martian Chronicles – Ray Bradbury

 

This will make you question how you judge a people and a place, so whilst pushing your travel boundaries, push your literary ones too.

My Goodreads review
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How Your ‘5 a Day’ Can Help a Blogger (They’re not all millionaires, despite the rumours!)

You know when you ‘Google’ (other search engines are available) to find a fact, or check an ailment, the responses you find are often written by a blogger.

The headlines about bloggers making millions with no effort are usually fake news, or a sales pitch by someone building their own online business.

Good luck to them, some bloggers do make a great living, they work hard so deserve it.

HOWEVER most bloggers don’t make enough to live on, and never will.

Many bloggers don’t do the work to earn a fortune, most genuinely want to serve, support and help you, their audience.

Blogs exist across the globe for every topic you can imagine.

Self-help, educational study and mutual support groups, hobby groups and that isn’t even mentioning the travel, health, beauty and fashion blogs that you may be familiar with.

You know when you ‘Google’ (other search engines are available) to find a fact, or check an ailment, the responses you find are often written by a blogger.

When you read something online that you find informative, helpful or of value why not support the person who delivered it to you.


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Vietnam – Through My Eyes

The cities are bright, busy and packed with energy

The countryside is wild and awe inspiring

Vietnam – Through My Eyes

Vietnam is a beautiful, breath taking country

The cities are bright, busy and packed with energy

The countryside is wild and awe inspiring

Taste the best coffee in the world

Go and see stunning dynamic Vietnam for yourself

It has some of the most iconic views in the world

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I hope I’ve inspired you to travel, tweet me from your next coffee stop!

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

I use Ikea alongside salvage yards and junk shops to bring the rooms to life and make them my own.

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip – My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

How to Survive The Ikea Shopping Trip - My Guide, and Yes it Includes Meatballs!

I love interior design. I adore art. I love beautiful things and want to be surrounded by them. Sadly my budget doesn’t always match my aspirations.

Over the years I’ve lived in rented one room apartments, mortgaged victorian terraces and larger ex-council properties. Whilst renovating my various homes over the years, I’ve made no end of mistakes, some more costly than others. I’ve learned by them.

Let me help with a few tips to keep you safe and sane.

They may just save you from making those time consuming or expensive mistakes.

The best friend of the interior designer on a budget is Ikea. Can you believe it’s nearly 30 years since they opened their first UK store? I’m a self confessed addict. It started with a mutual love of wood and candles and has developed over the years as we’ve both aged and matured.

I use Ikea alongside salvage yards and junk shops to bring the rooms to life and make them my own.



Here’s how I do it…

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How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture – My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

Things that were minutes ago just squares and shapes laid snugly in a well fitting cardboard box are now a three dimensional gorgeous addition to your home.

How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture –  My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

How to Build Ikea Flatpack Furniture - My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide - ( Without Breaking a Nail! )

Do you hanker after well designed furniture but can’t afford it?

How about flat pack? Scared of it looking cheap and wobbly, with poorly fitting doors etc? Be scared no more, Ikea could well be the answer to your problems. Never shopped in Ikea before? Have a look at my shopping advice here.

If you followed my previous advice, you got home safely with all your bargains and flatpacks and are ready to make your house into a home.

Many people, sadly often the lovely men in our lives (I’m not sexist but guys, you know this is true) do not like following instructions. If this is you, then walk away. I can’t help you.

Walk away, with your big hammer, your tool belt and be prepared to break things.  Get your ‘might come in handy stuff’ box, aka toolbox, for all the left over pieces you didn’t think were necessary. You may want to keep the drill handy too, you know you love a power tool. For those who are less gung ho and want to do the job as suggested by Ikea, this post is for you.

Right then, who’s still here?

You did swot up and buy, or borrow, all the required tools didn’t you? No? Oh dear, you may have a problem, or not. DO NOT PANIC! I can help. You will just be reading instructions, or rather following text free diagrams with little pictures of people helping you along the way. No language difficulties here.

Check your watch, it’s not a race, this is a task that could take time. If you don’t have time, leave it. A panicky last minute build could be disastrous. Happy? OK, we’re going in.

My Flatpack Assembly Survival Guide – My 5 Practical Tips

1. Prepare your Construction Zone

Are you ready to go? Great. Get changed, be comfy, wear trainers not slippers or barefeet (bare toes and sheets of glass or wood don’t make for a healthy mix.) Grab a glass of water, it can get heated.

It’s a good idea to cover the floor area or table (only use a table for small projects. Picture frames usually have glass in them, you need to keep it flat. Furniture is heavy, you need to keep it as low as possible.)

Bedsheets / blankets to protect your flooring or carpet are ideal.

You don’t want to produce one gorgeous piece at the cost of scratches and marks on another.

You need as big a space as you can wrangle, spreading out will help you keep track. It’s also safer, you don’t want to be stepping over or on the flatpack pieces during construction.

At this stage it’s worth putting your drink where it won’t get knocked over but you can reach it. You may need extra energy so bring the Ikea Dime pieces, you DID buy some didn’t you?

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Doha, Qatar – Through My Eyes

Next time you have a stop over, make it a few days and explore this jewel in the Middle East.

Doha, Qatar – Through My Eyes

It’s a city packed with surprise architecture…

Here are just a few of my favourite images of this beautiful, bustling, breath-taking city.

Doha, Qatar is a joy and a real hidden treasure and it hosts one of my favourite museums.

The souq ranks as one of the best in the world.

Next time you have a stop over, make it a few days and make the most of this jewel in the Middle East.

I hope I’ve inspired you to travel, tweet me from your next coffee stop!

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Paphos, Cyprus – How a Turtle Helped Me Remember Why I Travel to New Places!

Maybe, just maybe, it’ll make them think twice about throwing that plastic bottle in the ocean.

Paphos, Cyprus – How a turtle helped me remember why I travel to new places!

One of my travel mantras has been that the world is so huge with so many places to visit that I wouldn’t go to the same place twice. This trip broke that rule, I’d been to Paphos in Cyprus many years before and loved it’s history, culture and gorgeous castle on the harbour.

So when looking for a family holiday destination accessible from both Greece, where we were concluding a tour of the Peloponnese, and England from where my family would be flying in to join us, Cyprus was an obvious choice.

We were enjoying an evening on the promenade, and had just finished eating a fairly ordinary meal which hadn’t left me reeling in delight when I spotted a few people rushing to the harbourside.

A crowd was building along the waterfront. The dark sea alongside the busy pedestrianised promenade obviously held something exciting for the tourists but I had no idea what. I’d been waiting for the bill to arrive but couldn’t resist the pull of the crowd. OK, so I’m nosey, I admit it.

I had an inkling what it could be, the area’s known for turtles and I hadn’t seen one yet, I secretly hoped this evening could end on a high note.

 

After making sure the bill was in hand I couldn’t wait any longer to join the hyperactive crowd peering into the dark. Now here was where mobile phones came into their own, someone lit the area with their mobile torch and to everyone’s giddy joy there she was. Swimming just below the surface was the most gorgeous, apparently happy and healthy turtle.

Wow!

I’ve been lucky to get quite up close and personal with turtles in Australia, but only in a rescue centre

Turtle at Reef HQ, Australia
Turtle at Reef HQ, Australia

I’d also seen one swimming off the coast there but to see one so close up in the wild was a real joy. I love the sea and all it holds and feel passionately that we should do much more to protect it. I was thrilled so many tourists could encounter this beautiful peaceful creature first hand.

Maybe, just maybe, it’ll make them think twice about throwing that plastic bottle in the ocean.

As people slowly moved away, their murky phone photos shooting up into social media as they went, a local guy approached and asked if I knew the story. A little bit wary of this enthusiastic local holding my arm I admitted I didn’t so he told me all about the turtle’s tale. Now all this could be a myth or a load of rubbish but here we go.

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