Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #73

For obvious reasons it’s been even more important than normal to focus on the positives this week. My heart broke when I woke on Tuesday to the awful news about the atrocities in Manchester. It’s just so difficult to comprehend something so tragic. Those poor, poor families. It’s been so wonderful to hear the stories of courage and kindness happening in the wake, and during, the traumatic events of Monday night. These amazing human beings are a very important reminder that heroes and goodness exist even in the darkest of times. And that’s point one on today’s list of favourite things over the last week.

Secondly, how nice is this sunshine. I’m loving being able to sit in the park at lunchtime, have the windows flung open as I cook dinner or live in my Saltwaters. It really does make such a difference! Welcome back sunshine and hello summer. Thanks for joining us!

Talking of the glorious sunshine, it’s meant I’ve been able to enjoy the return of my favourite drinks this week – the simple iced coffee. Hallelujah! This week I tried the new Starbucks Iced Cappuccino and so many iced lattes I’m surprised I’ve not turned into one. I’ve even started making my own iced coffees at home. Top tip, make a french presse of coffee, pour into a bottle and leave to cool in the fridge overnight. So, so good first thing in the morning! We wrote about our lovely iced coffee recipe ages ago if you’re tempted to give it a whirl!

Life Rambles - Friday Favourites - This and That Blog

If you follow my Instagram then you’ll have seen that on Sunday I had a day in London town with the sisters. The birthday adventure started at Wahaca where we fueled up! And then it was into The Vaults for Alice’s Adventures Underground, an immersive theater experience unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Seriously it was phenomenal, you MUST go and watch it if you can get tickets. It’s so cool.

So what else has made it to the favourite things list this week? Well one lovely thing that I did this week is an evening of prosseco, pizza and pottery, well minus the prosecco because yuck. Yes on Thursday night I headed back to my hometown for a night of painting pottery and pizza at the local ceramics cafe. There were nine of us in our group, including the sisters, The Mothership and some of our oldest family friends. It was so nice to hang with these guys and have a relaxed and fun catch up. Also, who knew these ladies were so supremely talented – I was seriously impressed!

The final thing on today’s favourite things list is the potential joy that will happen with a three-day weekend! I have quite a chilled one planned and I can’t wait. So far I’ve planned a catch up with my oldest friends that will involve a dog walk and lunch in the garden so we can enjoy the sunshine (and the Pupster) and a much-needed Ikea trip. But apart from that, the weekend is my oyster. Unless I fall down the inevitable Netflix hole of course! Yeah for three days of bliss. What are you up to this weekend, something exciting I hope!

-Fi x

Out and About: Packing for a City Trip

top packing tips for a city trip - Out and About - This and That Blog

Before we jump in to my top packing tips let us start with a confession. It’s only in the last year or so that I’ve felt I’ve got holiday packing down to a fine art. Yes really. I’m clearly a late bloomer in this department as no matter what method I tried I just couldn’t do it. I could never pack outfits that coordinated, let alone the right clothes for the weather, and as for packing everything for a long weekend in hand baggage? I wouldn’t even consider it. Or if I did I’d always end up forgetting something vital or realise, on arrival, that I didn’t have any outfits that actually worked.

And then I turned 31 and it’s like a switch happened in my head. I was suddenly able to pack like a normal person. Miracle of miracles! So in case there are any of you that still struggle with this packing malarkey, or those who just want to refine your packing skills, I thought I’d share my top packing tips with you.

I’m also thinking that my future indecisive self might appreciate this post when I suddenly forget how to pack like a proper, organised human. Let’s be honest we know it’ll happen at some point!

Research, Research, Research!

There’s a reason this is number one on my top packing tips list. Quite frankly it’s absolutely vital. If you don’t know what the weather will be like or what activities you’ll be doing you’ll never pack properly. Also if you’re going on holiday with someone for the first time you need to chat to them and check you’re both on the same page. If they’re all about ticking things off a must-visit list and you’re more about drinks in the sunshine then you need to thrash that out from the beginning, because nobody wants to be walking 20,000 steps a day in just a pair of sandals.

Make Lists

I tend to make multiple lists when I’m packing. The first one is of what special items I’ll need. So do I need a sun hat or a waterproof jacket, or will my running trainers be needed. What about guide books, who is bringing those? Next up you need to make a list of everything you want to pack. I separate my list into clothes, accessories, tech stuff, special items, toiletries and personal stuff. That way things are parked with their counterparts and it’s easier to see if your toothbrush isn’t listed under toiletries. What’s key on the lists is to be VERY specific. If you’re taking four pairs of knickers, write ‘knickers x4’ or if you need a phone charger and a kindle charger make a note of it. Brevity is not key when it comes to lists.

Create a Diagram

Now bear with me here. I know this sounds like a weird tip… But once I’ve got my list I look very closely at the clothes part of it. For each pair of bottoms on my packing list I draw lines to the tops that will work well with it. If an item doesn’t work with multiple other items it gets removed or I switch in a different item that works with it. There are some items that I’ll allow in if they don’t have multiple lines connecting them to other things, I’m talking dresses or fancy shoes. But only if I know I’ll be wearing this item – i.e. there’s an evening event planned, etc.

Stick to Two Clothes Related Rules

I always stick to two clothes related rules when packing as it definitely makes it easier! Rule one, when it comes to clothes packing, is to stick to a certain colour palette. I tend to go for a lot of navy and grey with splashes of colour and stripes. That way everything goes together easily. Another top packing tip, and rule two, is to choose clothes that can be layered easily. That way if it’s colder than you anticipate you’re sorted. Or if you buy too many goodies while away you can wear lots of layers home! Plus items that can be layered tend to be thinner and take up less space in the suitcase. Fact.

Remove Items

Now let’s talk accessories, my rule of thumb? Make your choices and then remove at least one of each item. Let’s be honest you don’t need three bags or six necklaces. So put some back. Bag wise I find a smaller bag and a roomy tote are the way forward – that’ll sort you for most eventualities.

Think Carefully about Extra Stuff

By extra stuff I mean the guide books and reading books, magazines and extra fun bits. First up we have guide books. Firstly find out if there will be wifi where you’re staying? If not you need to pack a guide book, which can take valuable space. But if they’ll be wifi then leave the guide book at home, simply do your final research when you’re there and screenshot everything. Think of the space you’ll save! Book wise think about how much you’ll read. If like me, you’ll get through multiple books then pack your kindle instead. Love magazines? What about downloading one on to your iPad and also getting the Kindle app? That way you’ll have everything you could ever want to read on just one device.

Share Toiletries

Now I know this one sounds weird as people have very specific toiletries needs but if you’re traveling with good friends or family the chances are this will work! Think about it you can probably all use the same shampoo, conditioner and dry shampoo for a couple of days. And what about hand cream, most of us can make do using a different brand for a day or so.

Leave Space

Another of my top packing tips? Leave at least a layer on the top of your suitcase that’s empty. You’ll need it for the return journey once you’ve bought all the souvenirs!

So there we go, those are my top packing tips. What tips do you guys swear by?

-Fi x

Out & About: A Weekend in Salzburg

If you read Fi’s Friday Favourites post or if you’ve been anywhere near my Instagram feed then you’ll already know how much I adored my trip to Salzburg. It was everything I wanted out of a city break. It literally ticked all the boxes with its colourful and historic buildings, the gorgeous riverside location below the mountains, and of course delicious food. I mean if you were making a must-have list for a weekend getaway, would your list not include all of these?

I would absolutely love to right a super long post with a play by play account of every little thing that we did, but you’d probably get bored quite quickly. Instead I’m going to pick out my favourite bits of Salzburg. If you do want a play by play then I’ve added an itinerary for each day at the bottom of the page.

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The Salzach River

We stayed a little out of the centre of Salzburg and therefore walked along the river into the town each day. There are cycle-ways and footpaths along the flat route and the views towards the town with the mountains behind are glorious. The water is so clear – which I guess is because the water has melted right of the mountains. As we walked the route we saw so many people enjoying the river banks. There were dogs frolicking along the water’s edge, families picnicking and runners and cyclists whizzing by. I wish we’d have had the time to sit and enjoy the view more, I think on my next visit I’ll be stopping for a picnic and taking in the view.

Trick Fountains at Schloss Helbrun

Without giving too much away the trick fountains at Schloss Helbrun are brilliant and well worth a visit when you’re in Salzburg. The fountains are over 400 years old. They were built by Markus Sittikus prince-archbishop of Salzburg to entertain friends and are still used in the same way today. Schloss Helbrun is a little way out of the city, but easy to get to via bus. Helbrun is also home to the summer house from The Sound of Music which can be found in the gardens.

Hohensalzburg Castle

Hozensalzburg Castle sits right above Salzburg, so you can see it from all over the city. It’s the biggest fully preserved castle in Central Europe and is well worth a visit. There’s a funicular railway up to the castle, which is always fun! Plus all the glass allows you to see the full city spread before you. Once at the top you’re free to wander around the castle, look out at the viewing points and visit the museum. You can also walk up to the fortress, and we saw people doing it, but we decided that we had walked enough and took the funicular instead.

Salzburg-fortress-view

Mirabell Gardens

The Mirabell gardens are absolutely stunning. There are so many sections of the gardens to discover. From the fountains and formal flowerbeds through to the the orangery, the dwarf gardens and the rose garden. Plus there’s the Sound of Music steps and stunning views past the palace up to Hozensalzburg castle.

Just Wander

One of my favourite things about this long weekend was just wandering around the town. There are so many little alleyways, colourful buildings and views to discover and the best way to do this is to just walk around and see where you end up.

visit-Salzburg

The Food

I’m not even going to apologise for the fact that I’ve included a whole section on the food. In my mind eating locally and discovering what a new city has to offer, in terms of culinary delights, is key. And I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t include that in this case. The one place I wanted to visit before this trip was Cafe Bazar. We didn’t plan a trip, instead we stumbled upon it on Sunday morning, and stopped for an early lunch. The coffee here was divine, and the atmosphere was very chilled out. Plus there was a dog in the corner – living the dream!

We also stopped for cake at Cafe Tomaselli. Here a lady walks around with a silver tray laden with slices of cake, you choose your slice and pay her straight away with cash. The Sachertorte from Cafe Tomaselli was divine. Finally I’d highly recommend a visit to a local beer hall. We were staying near this place, so wandered there on our last night. Apart from actually liking the beer, which is brand new for me, the food was traditional Austrian fare. We opted for sharing everything so that we could try it all, so we went with schnitzel, ribs, wedges, chicken and these spiral potato things that were out of this world.

Untersberg

Untersberg is a mountain that straddles both Austria and Germany. It’s a little out of the city, but only 30 minutes away by bus, so definitely worth a visit. To get up the mountain you take a cable car with 40 other people, which takes just 10 minutes. It’s hideous and I was not a fan, nor was anyone else. Luckily the views are stunning and will help distract from the journey. In all honesty it’s the two times you go over the pylons that are the worst, the rest is manageable. But the pylons make the car rock which is not fun at all.

It’s worth mentioning that the journey down is a lot better. Probably because you know what to expect, or because it will all be over so soon. Either way it’s 100 percent worth the terror. The views from the mountain at the top are simply stunning. You can see so far. One thing to note is that there will be snow, so make sure you are dressed appropriately. I just had trainers and a jumper and was warm enough for a May trip. However we didn’t do the walk to the higher up point because the pathways were so snowy. If you do want to do this, make sure you are prepared.

Untersberg-mountain-salzburg

Writing this up is making me want to book another visit as soon as possible! Who is with me? Have you ever been to Salzburg, and if so what were the highlights of your visit?

Laura x

Day 1 in Salzburg: flight from Gatwick – check in to our apartment – explore the old part of the city – lunch at Cafe Mozart – Salzburg Cathedral – Mirabell Palace and Gardens – afternoon nap – dinner at Gösser Stub’n in the old town.

Day 2 in Salzburg: Headed South of the city to Grodig – Cable car up to Untersberg mountain – Schloss Hellbrun – Hohensalzburg Fortress – Cafe Tomaselli for Sachertorte – river wandering – dinner from the local markets.

Day 3 in Salzburg: lazy start (hooray) – watching the Salzburg marathon – Mirabell Gardens – Cafe Bazar – Panorama Museum – Salzburg Museum – Beer Hall for drinks & dinner.

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #72

Happy Friday Favourites day people! Also we’re over halfway through May. How the fliberty jibbit did that happen? One minute it is Easter and the next you are on your way back from Salzburg and your next holiday is ages away. Woe is me times, hey?! This week has been a quiet one, which has been blissful. After my long weekend in Salzburg and a couple of long work weeks it is exactly what I needed. Once again I’d forgotten the need to schedule in quiet, no plans, time. Often times I feel guilty if I have a quiet week, I feel like I’ll have nothing to share in these Friday Fave posts. Which is silly, because while my week has been a case of wake up, work, home, sofa, dinner, bed, repeat. There have still be snippets of the good stuff in there. Like the fact that I had a swim lane to myself on Tuesday morning. Or that I added some great new music to my Spotify playlist. Or the fact that I ate cereal or toast for dinner two days in a row. Hashtag winning at life.

Fi has been away for most of this week which means I’ve had the house to myself. And it has been lovely. It’s not that I don’t love having a housemate, it’s just that having the house to myself has been especially lovely. No having to time showers in the morning so that you both get out of the house on time. There’s no one to fight with over the TV remote, so if I want to watch five episodes of The Americans in one go then I can. FYI I’m halfway through Season 2 and I’m obsessed!

After doing my daughterly duty on Friday and puppy sitting for the parental units, I stayed down in Surrey for a little longer. Basically I basked in the sunshine in the countryside, read my book and then joined my Dad for a long dog walk. We headed over to the woodlands which are close to my parents house and explored. We went completely off the beaten track for a good 50 minutes and found the most beautiful bluebells. Bluebells are my absolute favourites. The colour of a blanket of bluebells in the woods is just gorgeous, and photos just can’t do it justice.

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Next up is the Sunday’s Streatham Kite Festival. I’ve managed to miss this event ever since I’ve lived in Streatham so you can imagine my excitement when I realised that I was around for it. The festival is basically a lot of people flying kites. They’ve got giant kites and professional kite fliers performing too. The common was full of families picnicking and flying kites. There were bouncy castles, stalls selling local produce and bands playing. The fact that it was a super sunny day made it that much more enjoyable too and I was still bemoaning the fact that we’d not brought our own picnic. We watched a couple of the shows; one where a team of two were showing off their kite synchronizing skills and the other where one man flew three kites – it was amazing. I have no idea how either show was possible.

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There’s a running joke between a group of my friends that I have a pajama obsession. I’m not even going to dispute that fact, as it’s probably true. What can I say, I love my bed and pajamas are an essential part of that! Anyway I spotted these beauties in Tesco’s over the weekend and I couldn’t resist them. Obviously I purchased them, and I’m adding them to this Friday Favourites list, because when you find good PJs you have to share!

And one more for the Friday favourites list: Riverdale. I finished the last four episodes of this Netflix series this week and it was a spectacular ending. I loved these comics as a kid and I’m pleased to see where the series has gone. Have you watched it? What did you think? Perhaps it’s time to update my favourite boxsets post

How was your week? I hope you had lots of favourite things to keep you going this week. Have a lovely weekend.

Laura xx

Summertime Wishlist

Today I’m sharing a quick wishlist post. I love making these. They allow me to fulfil my love of shopping and browsing online without actually buying anything too much. This blog post was meant to be up and online a few days ago. But I spent the weekend with the puppy, pottering in the garden, watching the kites on Streatham Common and finishing off a good book. And suddenly the weekend was over and I’d not written my wishlist, or any other posts. Oops! Never mind, it’s totally worth the wait, I promise! 

Summer Favourites wishlist

I’m totally in love will all of the items in the wishlist above. I think it’s quite clear that I am once again embracing navy and splashes of red/coral to go along with the other neutral tones. I’m not sure why I’m always drawn to blue and navy, but I’m not going to fight it.

Aren’t the patterns in Cath Kidston just divine right now? The lobster one just makes me smile so much. I’m also eagerly awaiting the latest Disney collaboration too, it’s going to be 101 Dalmations. Please tell me I’m not the only one excited about wearing an outfit covered in cute puppies?!

I’m also currently a proud owner of an M&S voucher which I received for my birthday. Which is exciting, as M&S is winning in the summer clothes department right now. Hence the addition of the shoes, and two skirts above. I’m currently debating between something that will fit into both my work wardrobe and my weekend wardrobe, or something utterly unpractical but holiday perfect. Considering my next holiday is in September, I should probably go the sensible route. 

I’m also trying to hold off on the spending of said voucher for as long as possible, because it makes it that much more exciting when it is eventually spent. Does anyone else do that? I managed to wait four months with my Waterstones vouchers from Christmas. So watch this space and I promise to let you know as, and when I make a purchase.

What are you lovely lot coveting in the shops right now. Do you have a summertime wishlist or a couple of items of clothes that you are dreaming about? Or are you treating yourself in time for your summer holiday? Do share, I’d love to know.

Laura x

Life Rambles: Friday Favourites #71

Greetings friends! And how are you all? I’ve only had a four-day work week but man has it felt like forty. It’s like the week that wouldn’t end! But thankfully it has and the weekend is here and I am super happy! But, as per usual, before the weekend can properly commence it’s time for a little favourites post. So what’s first on the Friday favourites list I hear you ask?

There’s only one thing that could be top of the Friday favourites list this and that’s our recent trip to Salzburg. We had the best trip. Salzburg is such a beautiful city, steeped in history and with so much to explore. And talk about stunning. From the beautiful pastel buildings to the stunning mountain tops it’s a sight to behold. I adored every corner of it. Oh and of course there’s the delicious food – I can’t tell you how much schnitzel I ate. It was frankly obscene!

Friday favourites #70 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

The other awesome thing about my amazing Salzburg trip? Getting the chance to spend time proper, quality time, with my family. It was just so lovely to have no other distractions and just spend time together. I lost count of how many times we belly laughed or cried tears of laughter over the four-day weekend. It was simply joyful

Friday favourites #70 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

As for Friday favourites that don’t relate to Salzburg, first up is a little theater trip. On Wednesday we went to the National to watch Ugly Lies the Bone a 90 minute piece of amazing theater. It’s about a women who returns from her third tour of duty with horrific injuries and looks at how she copes. It’s one of the most intense plays I’ve ever watched and it’s so brilliant. Every element of it was pitch perfect and I implore you to watch it if you can. It’s phenomenal.

This week I finally got round to reading I am Pilgrim and I adored it. Despite it’s 700 pages I’d read it again in a heartbeat. It was a brilliantly crafted spy thriller that slowly unraveled across continents and decades. I was hooked from page one and raced through it. It definitely lives up to the hype around it and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

Friday favourites #70 - Life Rambles - This and That Blog

So there we go, four lovely things that made my Friday favourites list this week. What would make your list?

-Fi x

Out and About: Places to Eat in Oxford

places to eat in Oxford

A blog post all about food? Isn’t this the best thing ever? Today I’m sharing a few of the food places Fi and I sampled during our birthday trip to Oxford. When we were planning our trip I looked online for some blog posts detailing places to eat in Oxford, but I came up empty-handed. They just didn’t exist. So here is one for anyone else looking for something similar.

Luckily as part of my planning I sent out SOS emails to friends for a list of things to do and places to eat. And they did not disappoint at all. There’s something about friend recommendations that really help me discover a city. It means that while you can explore and discover, you will always have a back up, just in case.

places-to-eat-in-Oxford-G&D's

George & Davis

This place serves the most incredible bagels. I’m talking about bagels that are just as good as the ones you can get in New York. There are a multitude of different fillings to be found, so making a choice was hard. I went with a toasted brie, bacon and cranberry bagel and I am still having dreams about it. G&D also sells homemade ice cream and I highly recommend you get one to enjoy while you wander around the city. I went with a scoop each of vanilla and after eight and I was not disappointed. Both the bagels and the ice cream are a must if you are looking for places to eat in the city that are cheap, quick and tasty.

Thaikun

This is a thai street food restaurant on George Street which has a quirky restaurant and so truly flavoursome food. It’s one of a chain of restaurants, but don’t let this put you off, as the food is really tasty and the cocktails plentiful. I highly recommend getting a starter platter so that you can try a few different things, like the chicken satay and pork dumplings. Oh and get a basket of thai prawn crackers, which come with a huge bowl of chilli dipping sauce.

Paul

Another chain, but this Paul patisserie on the high street is a great place to eat breakfast. The pastries are so good, and the coffee is strong – just how I like it! There’s an upstairs room that gives you a great view of the city, and it’s quiet enough so that you can make plans for the day ahead while you wait for the coffee to kick in and wake you up.

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The Grand Cafe

The Grand Cafe sits on the site of the first coffee-house in England, which was way back in 1650. So it’s like a piece of history, right there in Oxford, surrounded by all the other history obviously! It’s a small little shop on the High Street with a crowd of tables. so you’ll need to squeeze yourself into your table space. But it’s got a certain charm to it, with lots of dark wood and a wall covered in mirrors.

We stopped in here mid-afternoon and it was very busy, so we waited 5/10 minutes for a table. We then both opted for the cream tea which gets you two scones with jam and clotted cream plus a tea or coffee. The scones were so good, all light and fluffy and delicious. The sandwiches and the other cake options all looked tasty too and I think if we were there longer we’d probably have nipped back to try them out.

Ben’s Cookies

This is the original location of the cookie shop. We wandered past this place within the covered market, but didn’t stop as we had ice cream plans for later in the day. Plus I work right next to a Ben’s Cookies in London, so I can feast on these all the time. However, if you’re in Oxford and need a sweet treat, then look no further than Ben’s. The cookies are big and soft and chewy and literally melt in your mouth. My favourite flavour is the white chocolate. So good.

Have you ever been to this historic city? What are your suggestions for places to eat and drink in Oxford? You can also read more about our trip to Oxford on last week’s 24 hours in Oxford post.

Laura xx

Out and About: My Favourite Places to Travel

Today’s Friday Favourites post is a little bit different as I wanted to take the opportunity to share my favourite places to travel with you all. I know the normal Friday favourites way is to share parts of my week, but that’s just not going to happen this week. You see I’m typing this on Bank Holiday Monday as I know I’ve got a busy week coming up, but I still want to get a post written for Friday. So a My Favourite Places to Travel post seemed like the next best thing.

Number 1, The Algarve, Portugal

favourite places to travel - Portugal

Going to Portugal is a little like going home. It’s a place I go to so often that I feel utterly relaxed as soon as I land. Sometimes the familiarity of a well known, and well loved, place is exactly what’s needed. It means that I know the good lunch spots, I already have a running route and there are pastel de nata all over the place! The other great thing about Portugal is the opportunity for adventures. There are so many corners to explore nearby; from small coastal villages to market towns and trips across the border into Spain. For more details check out this ode to Portugal.

Number 2, New York City, USA

favourite places to travel - New York

Number two on my favourite places to travel to is New York. I’ve been lucky enough to visit New York City four times and from these trips it has become a firm favourite. I love the hustle and bustle of it, the towering buildings, the wonders of Central Park, the delights of Broadway and the delicious food available on every corner. Check out my Top 5 things to do in New York here and this post on visiting at Christmas time.

Number 3, Wales

favourite places to visit - Wales

A cottage in Wales is the ultimate escape. We had a whole Evans family trip there a few years ago and it was glorious. We had a lovely apartment overlooking the beach and when we weren’t playing board games and reading all the books, we were exploring the Welsh countryside. There were trips on the local steam train, visits to the nearby villages and a magnificent drive through Snowdonia National Park. Definitely one of my favourite trips and something I want to do again in the not too distant future. Wales is so entwined with my childhood and yet I don’t get back to visit nearly enough. I did get to spend a day in Wales last year, which was glorious, I’m hoping to catch up with this lot later on this year.

Number 4, Paris, France

favourite places to travel - Paris

Next on my list of favourite places to travel is Paris. I think jumping on the Eurostar and ending up in Paris two hours later is one of my favourite things. I love the ease and simplicity of it and the fact that you can be strolling along the River Seine in no time at all. Then there’s the croissants, and the macaroons, the gardens at the Musee de Rodin, the views from the Arc de Triomphe and the many splendours of the Musee D’Orsay to explore. You might also like this post with Five Tips to Paris on a Budget from my visit two years ago.

Number 5, Melbourne, Australia

I have family in Australia so it’s another country that I have visited a few times. It’s hard to pick my favourite place, Sydney will always be a favourite because it feels like I know it so well and it’s the same for the towns that my family live in. But if I really had to pick I think my favourite city in Australia is Melbourne. There’s a chilled out, cool vibe to it, that just pulls you into the city and makes you fall in love with it. The streets are lined with amazing art and there are so many wonderful food spots to explore. From Melbourne you can also take a trip to Philip Island to see the penguins, which is truly magical.

So there we have it, a list of my favourite places to travel. What are your favourite places? Do you have trips that you take more often than others, or a favourite retreat that keeps you sane?

Laura xx

Out and About: 24 Hours in Oxford

This year for our birthday we decided to get away from work and London and explore Oxford. Having only been there for brunch once years ago it was high-time we explored the city. And it was a genius idea, because spoiler it’s a gorgeous city and there is loads to see! We were only there for 24 hours but we did so much. For those of you who haven’t been I thought I’d pull together my suggestion of what you should do if you have 24 hours in Oxford.

24 Hours in Oxford - Out and About - This and That Blog

Things to do if you only have 24 hours in Oxford:

Visit the Ashmolean Museum

This Museum is packed full of really interesting things, from art exhibitions to Egyptian mummies, tiles from Syria and coins from centuries ago. Simply perfect for whiling a way a few hours exploring it all. Plus it’s free and there’s the most stunning roof terrace restaurant with great views of the city. Definitely top of our list!

24 Hours in Oxford - Out and About - This and That Blog

Wander aimlessly around the University campus

I was amazed at how much of the city you can see for free by just wandering. I know that sounds stupid, and in hindsight it should have been obvious that this was possible. But I hadn’t really thought about it! Anyway you can spot the Bridge of Sighs, the Radcliffe Camera, Magdalen College and so much more just by ambling around, heading down the little alleyways and around the next corner. It’s quite fun to see what you’ll end up next.. Spoiler: everything’s beautiful.

24 Hours in Oxford - Out and About - This and That Blog

Explore The Pitt Rivers Museum and the Oxford University Museum of Natural History

These two museums are connected so even though they’re very different they need mentioning as one. First up the Museum of Natural History is the most stunning building displaying dinosaur bones, insects, beehives, stuffed dodos and all sorts of other things. It’s amazing.

24 Hours in Oxford - Out and About - This and That Blog

At the back you’ll find the Pitt Rivers Museum with its displays of boats and weapons, jewelry and wooden carvings. It’s the most amazing treasure trove of random collections of stuff. It was created when one man gave his collections to the university, with just one caveat – items that were similar had to be housed together rather than classifying the collection by era. It’s a pretty cool idea and amazing to see all the different items used for the same purpose in one place, despite when and where they were used.

24 Hours in Oxford - Out and About - This and That Blog

Browse the bookshelves in Blackwells

No trip to Oxford is complete without an hour spent in the best bookshop around. It’s almost blasphemy not to head in to Blackwells for a browse. Fact.

24 Hours in Oxford - Out and About - This and That Blog

Climb the Carfax Tower

For just £3 you can climb this tower in the middle of the city and get an amazing view. With the college spires and city’s rooftops all laid out in front of you it’s really quite beautiful. Or at least in most directions – one view is over the shopping centre. That’s not so fancy!

24 Hours in Oxford - Out and About - This and That Blog

So there we go, those are my top touristy suggestions if you’ve got 24 hours in Oxford. Now of course this doesn’t mention the food, it goes without saying that food needs to be included! But don’t worry that post will be live shortly – and you’re in for a treat!

Have you ever been, what was your favourite thing about Oxford?

-Fi x

The Book Corner: Fi’s April Reading Recap

Happy 1st May! And hooray for a day off – I do love all of these bank holidays we’ve had recently. They’re the best! I hope you’ve had a fun extra day off? Mine’s been spent brunching – yeah for avocados, packing for this weekend’s Salzburg trip and doing all the jobs. So chilled but fun! Anyway, as it’s May we’re due another reading update, so let’s dive on in to my April reading recap.

Fi's April Reading Recap - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

April reading recap #1 – If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

So book one in the reading recap is this brilliant YA novel about a girl who starts at a new school and has to deal with new friends, a cute boy and family issues. Oh and the fact that she was born a boy and the worry that her secret will come out. This is a great book, which explores an important subject in a really honest and brave way. You can’t help but root for Amanda and hope that everyone accepts who she really is. Definitely a must-read for everyone.

April reading recap #2 – Lie with Me by Sabine Durrant

Honestly, I didn’t love this book, which really surprised me as I’ve heard a lot of buzz about it over the last year. I can’t quite pinpoint why as there was nothing wrong with it – it was well written, pacey and full of intrigue. I just found I didn’t really care about the characters. Basically I expected too much of this book and it just didn’t live up to them.

April reading recap #3 – Natural Causes by James Oswald

This book was so good and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series. I thought the main character, Inspector Mclean, was well written and yet there is still to be uncovered about him in future books. As for the cases he was investigating, there was just enough information for you to be pulled in and intrigued but not enough that solving the case was simple. Definitely the start of a brilliant new detective series.

Fi's April Reading Recap - The Book Corner - This and That Blog

April reading recap #4 – Wing Jones by Katherine Webber

Wing Jones has been on my to-read pile for ages, since last July and the cover unveiling at YALC to be exact. It just sounded like my ideal book – a girl goes through a family crises and deals with it by learning to run and falling in love. I’ve been holding off reading it until I could savour it and I was not disappointed. It was beautifully written and full of characters that I grew to adore. It’s really wonderful and uplifting even though it deals with stressful situations.

April reading recap #5 – The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett

I tried to read this book years ago and just couldn’t get into it. Thankfully I gave it another go and this time I loved it. It follows one couple through three different versions of their love story, looking at how things would have changed had they made different decisions when their paths first crossed. I was worried things would get confusing with three different narratives, but it didn’t. The story was really interesting, particularly seeing what happened in all three versions of their story. It’s been described as similar to One Day and while it’s not as good as that book, it’s still a brilliant novel and well worth a read.

April reading recap #6 – When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Number six on my April reading recap list was my favourite read of the month. This book is by a neurosurgeon who discovered he had inoperable cancer just as he was about to finish his training. It looks at the switch from treating patients to becoming a patient himself. And how you deal with knowing that you’ve only got years or months to live and what you should do with that time. While it should be a super-depressing read, it’s actually incredibly life-affirming. It’s beautifully written and should be read by everyone. It’s simply excellent.

So there we go, that’s my April reading recap. Which of my six reads are you most intrigued by and have you read any of them yet?

-Fi x