So I’ve been telling you about my magical trip to Los Angeles with Virgin Holidays. After our fantastic foodie tour of East LA and a stop off to explore Temecula wine country, we headed to our final destination, San Diego. We arrived quite late in the afternoon from Temecula and went straight to our hotel, the gorgeously colourful Kona Kai Resort & Spa, before quickly popping to our rooms to freshen up before going straight out to dinner. We only had a very limited time in San Diego and were determined to make the most of it, so our foodie day in San Diego strictly started the night before with a visit to Liberty Station, before returning to properly explore the next day.
If you follow me on Vivino (if not, please do – I love to chat about wine), or if you’ve read any of my wine writing, you’ll know we’re huge fans of American wine. My obsession properly started after tasting the fabulous American wines available at some of my favourite restaurants at Walt Disney World, especially Citrico’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa where the award winning wine list runs to several pages and the Sommelier can recommend some really fabulous wines. It was at Walt Disney World that I first got a taste for delicious, medium bodied floral Oregon Pinot Noir; and rich, peppery, fruity Californian Zinfandel. From there, we went on to buttery brioche Chardonnays too. I love tasting and learning about wine and you can imagine my delight when I found out that during our recent foodie trip to LA, we were going to be visiting Temecula wine country with Virgin Holiday Experiences.
So you’ve booked your dream holiday: you’ve chosen a great hotel, maybe scoped out a couple of decent restaurants (you know how important this is to me) but what’s the best way to really get under the skin of your destination? Well, Virgin Holidays has come up with the brilliant idea of Virgin Holidays Experiences: a breathtaking range of over 300 experiences for everyone from foodies and shopaholics to the thrill-seekers and outdoorsy types, and even those in search of the perfect Instagram shot. These fab new experiences will enable all of us to create a bespoke holiday experience that truly reflects our interests and obsessions. So whether you’ve always dreamed of shopping with your own personal stylist in New York, fancy taking surf lessons in San Diego, a seaplane trip over Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver or discovering Chinatown in San Francisco, the world really is your oyster! I was lucky enough to travel to LA and San Diego with Virgin Holidays earlier this month to try out a few of the amazing new Virgin Holidays Experiences. First up, an incredible foodie tour of East LA.
If you’re anything like us, one of the biggest considerations when you’re planning a holiday (along with: ‘will there be enough to do?’ and ‘what’s the pool like?’) is ‘are there loads of great places to eat?’. Food is a huge part of our family holiday budget – it’s a big part of our family life at home, so that naturally carries through when we go away together – we want to enjoy gorgeous food in beautiful places. I’ve been thinking for a while now that I really should create a little (well, quite large, actually) guide to dining at Universal Orlando Resort, so if you’re considering a Universal family holiday, you can do a little advanced planning (plus, you know I like taking photos of my food). This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I’ve tried to include everywhere I’d dined in and enjoyed as well as a couple on my still to do list.
October is a super exciting month in the cruise industry. It’s when everyone who loves to cruise comes together to celebrate Plan a Cruise Month: a whole month devoted to everything to do with cruising and the perfect time of year for you to plan your own cruise – especially as there are loads of fantastic offers and incentives available throughout the whole month. This year, the theme of Plan a Cruise Month is ‘destinations’, and I thought I’d tell you about Grand Cayman, one of my very favourite cruise destinations, by having a reminisce of my own lovely trip there, on assignment for Cruise International with Charlie.
We love where we live. We’re so lucky to live in this beautiful part of the world, surrounded by gorgeous countryside and yet just 30 minutes’ train ride away from London. I feel like we have the best of both worlds. Recently, the lovely chaps at booking.com asked about our favourite places to eat and stay in the Chilterns, and it’s honestly taken us lots of evenings of chat (and lots of bottles of wine) to narrow down our choices, such is the wealth of fabulous places throughout Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and beyond! Here, then, without further ado, is my perfect foodie weekend in the Chilterns. I do hope if you’re ever in the area, you’ll come and give some of these fab places a try!
Let’s be honest, one of the best bits of being on holiday is getting to try ALL the local cocktails, am I right? When the lovely bunch at Travel Republic asked me to contribute to their cocktail-themed travel guide – packed with information about destinations and their signature cocktails – I was happy to oblige and I knew exactly which city (and cocktail) to champion. Mr E and I absolutely love Paris, and to us, the French 75 (or soixante quinze) is synonymous with our favourite destination: chic, stylish, and just a little bit outré. It’s Paris to a T. Here’s how we make our perfect French 75 cocktail at home.
As we had some travel plans cancelled in August, Mr E and I have really been enjoying exploring our lovely local area. The Chilterns are stuffed full of historic stately homes and manor houses: from Waddesdon Manor, designed in the style of a romantic French Renaissance chateau, to Sir Francis Dashwood’s extravagant, Italianate West Wycombe Park, we have a huge diversity of beautiful buildings to visit. One that might have escaped your radar is Latimer House, now the De Vere Latimer Estate, a stunning mansion house estate that has recently undergone a huge (£7m) refurbishment that has transformed the original mansion house, including a beautifully renovated library, a coffee shop, a brand new restaurant: 1838 Restaurant and Bar, and the new Huntley Bar as well as additional luxury bedrooms and an elegant new reception.
I absolutely adore St Petersburg. The last time I visited, back in 2012, we really only had one day there and I was desperate to go back and really explore. I absolutely love its buzzy vibe, the gorgeous beaches and the way the downtown area absolutely comes alive at night, with restaurants, bars and cafés thronging with people. Even as recently as the 90s, Downtown St Pete was really quite unloved. Remember Cocoon? Jeff, our lovely guide told us that the movie was filmed in St Pete in the 1980s, and it was an area known as ‘God’s Waiting Room’, full of retirees and not a lot else. Slowly, though, the locals transformed their beloved neighbourhood, and now it’s such a creative, lively place to visit, with a wonderful arts scene and fabulous shops, restaurants, galleries, stunning museums like the beautiful new Morean Arts Centre and the Dali Museum, and beautiful open spaces. Read more
In all the years that I’ve been visiting Walt Disney World, there’s been one iconic Disney place that I’ve never managed to visit: Celebration, Florida: the prettiest little community, and Walt Disney World’s home town. With wide streets and colourful shops and houses, it’s a really lovely place to spend a day, wandering the lovely, tree-lined residential areas (there’s actually a Wisteria Lane there that looks like it’s straight out of Desperate Housewives), and popping in to all the lovely shops (there’s a fabulous dog shop there selling everything you could possibly need for your pampered pooch!). Here’s my photo diary of our day: a little taster of what to expect when you visit Celebration.
The Far East boasts some of the most unique and diverse cuisines in the world. From Japan and Thailand, China, Vietnam, India, and Sri Lanka, the use of spices and aromatics bring flavoursome taste experiences like no other, with everything from fabulous, colourful street food to fine dining on offer. If you’re planning a culinary trip to the Far East, I’d recommend that you arm yourself with the local currency (especially important with the street food), so do your research on travel money providers (there are several companies reviewed here), and make sure that as you switch countries, you exchange your local currency before leaving. With smaller currencies like THB or INR, it can be tricky to get them exchanged after departing the country.
So last time, I was telling you all about family holidays in Kissimmee. The next stop on our little tour of alternative Florida destinations was beautiful Clearwater. This gorgeous Gulf Coast barrier island destination sits just across Old Tampa Bay on the west coast of Florida along with St Petersburg. Between them, they boast 35 miles of white sandy beaches and an average of 361 sunny days per year. So apart from lazing away endless, sunny days and glorious sunsets in this pretty resort town, here are a few other reasons why Clearwater is a fabulous choice for a family holiday.
So last week, I was lucky enough to be in Walt Disney World Resort, Florida, for the dedication ceremony of Disney’s magical new Pandora – The World of Avatar: a whole, stunning new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger, joined by Avatar filmmaker James Cameron and producer Jon Landau, came together with the cast of the original film to unveil possibly Disney’s greatest triumph so far. So from the must-sees and must-dos to information on where to stay and how to get here, here’s my complete guide to the breathtaking world of Pandora – The World of Avatar.
I have so much to tell you about my amazing trip to Kissimmee with Norwegian – I can’t believe two weeks has flown past since I was there. I travelled with such a lovely bunch of people and we had great fun exploring – honestly, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. If you’re considering a holiday to Florida, whether it be to the theme parks, or to discover a bit more of the area, I highly recommend Kissimmee as a base. There’s so much fabulous accommodation, beautiful scenery, loads of fun things to do, and, it’s so close to all the parks too. Here are my recommendations for fun family holidays in Kissimmee.
I’m back! I’ve had the most incredible few days with a group of really lovely people, and I’ve got so much to tell you about our wonderful trip, from flying to Florida with Norwegian’s state of the art Boeing 787 Dreamliners, a stay in the most ridiculously luxurious villa in Kissimmee, loads of really fun outdoorsy stuff like kayaking, climbing and swimming, and discovering pretty towns, gorgeous hotels, white sandy beaches and trendy towns with buzzy nightlife. Read more
So if you follow me on any form of social media, you can’t have failed to notice that I’ve had a bit of an exciting – and emotional – week. It started off with a magical invitation to a British TV first that saw Mr E and I checking in for a rather special Virgin Atlantic charter flight to Orlando with the very excited winners of the ‘place on the plane’ tickets from ITV’s popular Saturday evening show. Follow me, then, for a little photo diary of our adventure to watch the live final of Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway at Walt Disney World!
- My Drinkaware month – an update January 23, 2018
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- Three ingredient brownies (with 83% less sugar) January 18, 2018
- The new hush pre-spring collection January 16, 2018
- Weekend baking: delicious, no knead rye bread rolls January 13, 2018