When friends and readers are planning a trip, I’m often asked for my advice about things that they absolutely mustn’t miss, and always about the best rides: what’s worth queuing for, what’s worth using a FastPass+ for, that sort of thing. This got me thinking about my favourite experiences at Walt Disney World Resort, Florida: the things that I would rush round and do if I only had, say, a day at each park. So here’s my little list of Disney World’s best rides – I know it’s subjective, but these are my own personal faves. I’m bound to add to it, so do refer back every so often!
Let’s be honest, from here in the UK, Florida isn’t the first place you think of as a weekend destination, but then when Universal called and said ‘hey, fancy a long weekend at Universal Orlando Resort for Mardi Gras 2017?’, my response was ‘hell, yes! Let me grab my suitcase’.
As a nation, I don’t think Holland crops up that much as a destination when we’re planning our next family holiday, but this little stretch of land across the channel offers a lot more than the cultural riches of Amsterdam. It’s easy to reach by train, plane or ferry and boasts long stretches of coastline, rugged woodland, excellent cycle routes and some of the best theme parks in the world. The holiday parks are numerous and really high quality, so if you’re looking for a little bit of inspiration for the summer holidays, here are my top five holiday parks in Holland.
When you’re on a family holiday, dining out can be a bit of a flash point. Firstly, it’s going to account for a large part of your budget (especially if, like me, your children eat like rabid wolves), and secondly, everyone has different ideas about what they want – whereas you might want to sit and sip a cocktail while pondering the delicious items on the menu, your teenagers might well want to grab a burger and go. We always try to do a wide selection of dining when we’re away that suits everyone, mixing fast food with some more upmarket dining, and we always seek out anything quirky or unusual. We found some incredible places to eat during our trip to Amelia Island and thought we’d share the best of the best with you:
Recently, you’ll remember, I shared my little Florida secret with you – a deliciously quirky and lovely little barrier island just off the coast of northern Florida called Amelia Island. The boys and I spent a wonderful week there making some treasured memories together, and I wanted to tell you a bit more about what we got up to. We sat down and had a little head to head and came up with our favourite five things to do when you’re out and about on Amelia Island. And guess what’s number one…?
If you’ve been following me on my social media channels over the last week, you’ll know that I’ve got a secret to share: an island so rich in history, so naturally lush and beautiful, so authentically old Floridian that everyone should visit. Situated just off the coast of the north eastern edge of Florida near the border with Georgia, what this quirky little barrier island lacks in size, it makes up for in character; with a chequered history and a beauty that will steal your heart. Say hello to Amelia Island.
And so, after my big 2016 roundup, let’s move swiftly on to 2017, shall we? What does this year have in store? Lots of happy times and adventures I hope. As you know, I’m a huge Disney fan: I adore everything from the theme parks to the beautiful cruise ships. It’s such an exciting year for Disney magic, with so many new Disney travel adventures to choose from. I thought you might like a sneaky peek at a few of the things I’m really looking forward to in 2017. So if you’re planning adventures for next year now, I hope this helps give you a few ideas too:
What. A. Year. I’ve got plenty more to say about the joy and sadness that was 2016 in my first piece of 2017 (for us, as well as everyone else, it seems, it was a year of huge highs and massive lows), and my plans for 2017. But for now, I want to stay with the joy and take a look back at the highlights of a year of travel and adventure. Here’s my 2016 roundup.
We all absolutely adore Christmas, but the funniest thing is that while we were all sitting around the fire, Christmas Radio Times on hand to pick the best Christmas movies, sipping on a Baileys, talk actually turned to planning for the summer holidays. I was telling them that the fab villa holiday company, Villa Plus had asked me to talk about our holiday plans for next year, and, as a family with older children, it’s sometimes difficult to pick a holiday that suits everyone. As we were chatting, it was interesting to hear what the boys want from a family holiday. Whereas Jim and I really both want somewhere comfy to lounge and read a book and some sunshine, the boys have different ideas:
From Boston, we drove south, through some utterly beautiful countryside, to get to our next destination, Plymouth. Plymouth, Massachusetts is a hugely famous and historically important town, well known for being America’s Hometown – the place where the Pilgrim passengers of the Mayflower first settled. It’s a gorgeous place, full of pretty, colourful houses, wide, tree-lined residential roads and beautiful beaches. Our destination, The Mirbeau Inn & Spa, took us by surprise, though, as we drove up the windy road, and came face to face with a pretty French style Chateau. The glowing, ochre manor house, inspired by the soft colours of the paintings of Claude Monet, even has elegant gardens and water features inspired by Monet’s own garden in Giverny. It’s a breathtaking sight, and the experience only gets better as you’re greeted by a polite doorman, who won’t let you carry a thing.
So I told you recently about visiting Boston with Norwegian. Oh, we completely fell in love with Boston. My friend Erica visited a while back and I was surprised when she said she liked it more than New York. Having visited, I can totally see why. It has a small town vibe and everything is really accessible by foot. We walked and walked for hours, shopping, sightseeing and photographing, and really could have done with staying a few more days.
Recently we were lucky enough to spend a heavenly weekend at The Grove, the beautiful luxury hotel just 18 miles from central London and a stone’s throw away from the Warner Bros Studio Tour London – the making of Harry Potter. It’s really not far for us, just a quick 20 minute drive, and I often visit to walk around the lovely gardens with my friend David, the Head Gardener. The estate gardens are utterly beautiful at this time of year, and we were lucky enough to arrive just as the most incredible sunset was lighting up the sky with a display of pinks and oranges.
I joined the beautiful Royal Princess in Rome recently to try cruising a different way. With most cruise passengers choosing the cruise line’s own shore excursions, we struck out to find some personalised, hands on shore adventures with a difference! But first, though, a little about the ship… Read more
As far as I’m concerned, a visit to Walt Disney World isn’t complete without a trip to Disney Springs. Every time you go, there are new shops to explore, new restaurants to try and new cocktails to sip! Most of the venues at this brand new shopping, dining and entertainment hug are now open and the whole area is looking absolutely gorgeous. Here’s all you need to know about Disney Springs.
I can’t even begin to tell you just how much interest there’s been in this trip. Even as we touched down in Boston, I was receiving emails and texts from friends saying ‘what’s this about these low cost flights to Boston with Norwegian? Tell us more!’. And during our whole New England in the fall adventure (which was gorgeous and fabulous and so many other superlatives, by the way), I was inundated with Instagram and Facebook comments. And honestly? I can’t recommend it highly enough. Can you actually believe that you can fly to Boston with Norwegian for £135? And it’s even cheaper on the return journey because of airport taxes – just £100.90.
Well let me tell you… As a HUGE fan of the styling and atmosphere at Universal Orlando’s Cabana Bay, I wasn’t sure that another Universal Orlando resort could steal my heart, but from the moment we were greeted with a smile at the main entrance of Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal, we were smitten. The resort has a Caribbean theme and is light, airy and very tropical. The main entrance is huge and beautifully styled too:
- Halloumi, olive and mint pizzas September 21, 2017
- Jamaican jerk chicken with caramelised pineapple salsa September 19, 2017
- Weekend wishlist: new season beauty recommendations September 16, 2017
- Apple, plum and blackberry crumble September 14, 2017
- New Attraction Tickets Direct Disney hotel, ticket and dining packages September 12, 2017