Day 3 – Montenegro

Today was a very early start. We had arranged a private tour for the 5 of us to Montenegro. Due to having to go through border controls, we had to be ready by the old gate at 7 am.

If there is a small group of you this is a great way to get around! Your guide will custom your trip based on the time you have. For us it was a full day tour, 11-12 hours. It worked out at about 64 Euro each but this included our own minibus and guide just for us!

It’s important to check if you are doing some day trips if you need your passports. As we were going to a different country, today we did.

I wasn’t too sure what to expect in Montenegro.

As we drove across the border the landscape really unfolded. Beautiful mountains framed the view!

Our first stop was a chance to get out and see the view across the ocean. Stunning. An old abandoned building to our left showed us the reality of this country.

Our next stop was to take in views of 2 small islands, both with churches in the middle! Both very tiny but beautiful. Our guide explained that we could take a boat over to one of the islands if we wanted to, which of course we did!

The trip went from Perast and took only 10 minutes and cost only 5 Euro each. I should mention that Montenegro only accept Euros.

There was so much history in such a small place. The views again were breathtaking.

Back on the mainland we took a few minutes to visit the old town before heading to our next destination.

Kutor is a stunningly beautiful old city. Walking around the tiny streets it is steeped in history. There is a city wall however you can’t walk around it like you can in Dubrovnik.

If you look carefully at the photo above you will see the wall stretching up into the mountain. This was a theme over here. You could walk up that part of the wall however you would need a full day and proper walking boots to fully experience it, which we didn’t!

We did go up the parts of the wall you can see in the main frame which gave great views over the harbour.

There were some amazing yachts moored there! A girl can dream!

Budva was our next and final stop! A smaller old town greeted us. Our guide took us around again and explained the history to us.

A quick stop off for a late lunch over looking the ocean was perfect. Food and drink is a lot cheaper here compared to Dubrovnik. Beer for example is under €3 a pint.

At around 3pm we headed back to Dubrovnik. Our timing was perfect as the heavens opened!

As we reached Dubrovnik the sun blessed us again!

I’d decided to cancel our original restaurant booking as it was slightly too far. We were later home than expected so only had 30 mins to shower and change, so we decided to go back to Restaurant 1838. It was so good last night, why not !

It didn’t disappoint! I had the mussels again! Oh and of course they gave us those amazing drinks again. I’m definitely going to try and make them when I get home!

Another great day in Dubrovnik! Well mostly in Montenegro, but this was turning out to be a fabulous trip!

I’m looking forward now to preparing my YouTube videos over the weekend to really share with you the beauty of this trip.

Tomorrow is our last day in the beautiful country. We have another trip planned! Stay tuned !

Day 1 – Dubrovnik exceeded my expectations!

I’m currently sat on an EasyJet flight from Dubrovnik airport en-route to London Stansted! I live in the midlands so I really have no clue why I chose Stansted, but hey ho!

The flight is under 3 hours. Not too bad.

We arrived 5 days ago. Our flight was 6 am so we arrived with almost the whole first day ahead of us!

We arrived at our apartment before it was ready! Apartment Lukre is a 2 bedroom apartment, 5 minutes walk from the main entrance to the old town. Off a small kitchen area is a beautiful balcony with fabulous views of the old Town. Perfect for having dinner on or as I did, sit and enjoy a lovely cup of tea. If I was lucky the church bells would be ringing out. I never tired of it!

The owner of the apartment was lovely. So friendly. They can collect you from the airport if you wish and arrange trips for you.

They also have a double room next door to our apartment which our friends had. At 115 euro for ours and 55 Euro for the room, it is definitely value for money and a great find.

Even though our apartment wasn’t ready, the owner let us leave our bags so we could get out and about.

The 5 of us in our group headed off to the old town.

If you are a fan of Game if Thrones, you will fully understand why it was used for filming the movie!

As you walk through 2 sets of gates you come upon the Main Street! It’s beauty takes your breath away.

There is a water fountain like no other to your right. The water is cold and refreshing, so don’t forget to fill your water bottles up there.

One word of warning! There are a lot of steps in the old town! The pavements can become very slippy when it rains. It is definitely a place where you leave your heals at home! Comfortable shoes will ensure you enjoy the best of this beautiful old town!

The town is full of small streets and alleys packed with churches, beautiful buildings, shops and restaurants. It might feel daunting but you don’t need to worry, you can’t really get lost.

A must do is to walk around the city walls. It costs 300 kuna (£25) each, so not cheap but worth it! It certainly is a good workout, but the views make it something not to be missed.

Food and drink inside the old town is more expensive than outside, but you can still get some reasonably priced restaurants and cafes.

We had been warned to book our restaurants before coming, as they can get busy, especially on peak times, so we had prebook all nights.

Our first night was at a lovely restaurant in the old town – Konoba Jezuite. The menu was quite varied with mains ranging from £15-£20. Beer is £6 a pint and a bottle of house white around £23.

After placing our order they brought out baskets of bread with a pate dish. All complementary. I opted for the Tuna salad which was gorgeous as my main.

As we paid the bill they brought out cherry liquor! Gorgeous.

We took a slow walk back to the apartment via a local supermarket where we picked up some local wine and beers. It is so much cheaper. About £1.20 a can of larger and £3 a bottle of white wine.

We chilled out in our apartment excited at the day just gone and the days ahead!

I’m really loving Dubrovnik!

Tomorrow is our GOT walking tour.

Subscribe to my YouTube channel to see the old town in my video.

Letter to my scales!

It is with deep regret that I find myself writing this letter!

We have been together for many years now! You have always been a trusted friend. We have seen some highs and lows. You have always been honest with me. You have never hidden the truth from me, regardless of how bad it has been!

You have ensured my clothes on a Wednesday don’t exceed 0.3kg! You have even made sure I have never exceeded my baggage allowance when I went on holiday!

We have fond memories of my puppies when we checked how much they were growing! It was lovely to see them grow week on week.

You have been such a huge part of my life.

It saddens me now that you have suddenly changed towards me! I don’t understand why! There seems to be no explanation!

I’m doing everything I can for you. I’m eating well, I’m going to the gym. I’ve even done dry January ! What more do you want from me!

I really don’t want us to part company but this attitude towards me has to change!

I hope this letter will clear the air between us.

I look forward to seeing the changes in you when I see you again soon!

Your ever hopeful friend

Xx

Getting around Krakow!

The best and easiest way to get around Krakow is on foot.  Its also free of charge, and a great form of exercise!

Krakow is flat so you don’t need to worry about any hills, well in the centre that is!

One of the great things about Krakow, is that the centre is pedestrianised!   You can walk around, relaxed, without worrying about cars.  It makes getting around so much nicer!

It also feels very safe!

There is so much to see around the city, that it would be a shame not to put at least a day aside to just wander!  Whilst the square is pretty in itself, as you explore the streets, you will see so much more on foot.

Don’t forget to look all around you, both in front, side to side, and upwards.  Many of the buildings have beautiful paintings or statues on them.

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You can’t really get lost if you keep to the rule, that all things end up back in the square!

When you visit the castle, take a walk over the river to view it from another perspective!  Its such a unique castle, with different types of architecture, it would be a shame to miss it.  If we hadn’t done this, we may have missed the fire eating dragon!

The parks are small, but again worth a walk.  You will fall upon different sculptures along the way.  Many of them hidden amongst trees, or on benches.

There are many churches in the city.  If the doors are open, pop in and have a look.  I was blown away by some of the decorations inside.  Remember to have your shoulders and thighs covered though!

If walking isn’t your thing, don’t worry.  There are a couple of other options.  How about a tour in an electric car?  Prices will vary depending on where you are going and for how long.  I would say no more than £20 per person.  Ask the driver and agree a price in advance.   We took one of these for the short ride to the Jewish Quarter, for dinner.   It was only £2.50 each for us, as it took probably only about 15 minutes!

Here you will find a square of chairs, dedicated to the Jews who lost their lives.  Its situated just over the river in the Ghetto, and worth a visit around sunset, where the chairs are lit up!

You will also see many horse drawn carriages.   They leave from the square, and take you for an hour ride around the city.  Again agree a price before you start.  They are usually around 400 PLN (£100) and can seat 4 comfortably, but if you negotiate you may get it cheaper!  On a sunny day, it is quite a nice way to explore the city.

Trams are plentiful.  At under 4 PLN (£1) each way, they are a cheap way to get around.  They run from 5 am to 11 pm.

If you want to go further afield, I would certainly recommend the train service.  We used it to go to the Salt Mines.

To go into the Salt Mine, you just have a 5 minute walk up a slight hill.   The cost is 89 PLN each plus 10 PLN if you want to take photos or videos (£25 in total).  Certainly a nice day out and well recommended.

The station is clean and everything is easily signposted.  It cost us around £0.85 each way for a single trip lasting about 20/30 minutes.

The trains were clean and spacious.  They have ticket machines on board if you don’t have time to get one before boarding.  Alternatively, there are ticket machines on platforms, if there isn’t a ticket office.  It is also a nice way to sit back and take in the scenery.  I do love looking at other peoples lives.  The houses, streets and countryside always interest me.

Taxi’s are also plentiful.  A ride from the airport is around 90 PLN or £20.

We also took a private hire to Autschwitz as there were 7 of us.  It was all included in the price for the tours.  The cost was 160 PLN each (£40), but well worth it.

There are so many options to get around the city, there really isn’t any excuse not to explore.

 

 

Eating and drinking in Krakow

You will never go hungry or thirsty in Krakow! There are absolutely loads of options open to you !

The big decision is, do you want food on the go, in a relaxed or formal setting, inside or outside !

When we go away, we like to eat local food. You will find a MacDonalds everywhere in Krakow, but there is no way you would find us eating there. We can have one of those at home!

The weather for us was gorgeous, so it was perfect for sitting outside!

We were staying a few minutes from the main square, so we tended to gravitate there!

There are many restaurants running around the square. Each have their menus on boards outside, so you can check before committing yourself.

Don’t worry if you think the menu is limited in some, they have just put a selection on display! Ask them for a full menu.

Most staff speak very good English, so if you have any specific requirements, they are happy to cater for you.

On every corner you will find a little stall selling ‘Precels’! These are rings of bread, and delicious, perfect for eating on the go. They come in various toppings, cheese, sesame, spicy and salted. At only 1.8 PLN (approximately 45p) they are a bargain! We had them the day we were running for the train to the Salt Mine, for breakfast, as well as to take to airport when we left!

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If you want to sit down, don’t be fooled by the price! Most meals are under £10! That doesn’t mean the portion is small! Oh no! This is one of my dinners ! It was a starter but I had it as my main!

That is a litre of beer next to it! It was filled with a selection of meats including, chicken, pork, Polish sausages and beef, with sauerkraut in a dry sauce! It was very filling so the bread wasn’t eaten!

Other local dishes include Bigos (hunters stew) which is also served in a bread bowl, smoked sausages, Pierogi(dumplings), which are stuffed with a variety of fillings ranging from cheese, minced meat, cabbage and mushrooms.

Don’t forget the good old pork schnitzel too! These are also usually the size of a dinner plate!

And one of my hubby’s favourite, the pork knuckle! Be careful when you choose this option as some are a set price, others are charged per Kilo! This is the one my hubby ordered! It was 1.2 kilo ! Way too much for 1 person!

Every meal is served with bread, but rarely butter. If you want it, ask. I’m sure most restaurants would be happy to provide you with some!

What was lacking for me though was the lack of vegetables. Some dishes came with potatoes but that is all. You will need to order vegetables and salad as an extra!

My tip would be to order your drinks, look at the menu, and then look what others have had ! It will give you an idea of how it’s served, and more importantly, the portion size!

You can share a main, or even ask for a doggy bag!

If you are visiting the Salt Mine, I would recommend the sausage for lunch ! For 15 PLN, you get a large sausage, bread roll and a bottle of Coke, which is less than £4! It’s delicious!

We had most of our meals at the same restaurant. Why? It was sooo good! And the beer was the cheapest we had found ! 17 PLN (£4 ish) got you a litre of their local beer! It was one of the very few without patio heaters, but as we were lucky with the weather it didn’t matter!

So what was that restaurant ? Sukiennice! It’s named after the building it’s located in – Cloth Hall! Sukiennice is its Polish name.

Breakfast was also the most reasonable we saw! Scrambled eggs (3 eggs) wit bread was only 9 PLN (less than £3), you could them add extras such as bacon, mushrooms, cheese etc for only 1 PLN (25p)!

I opted for one of their bagels for breakfast. Beetroot, rocket and walnuts. Oh wow! What a taste delight! At only 9 PLN (just over £2), it was a bargain!

Beetroot is a traditional food item of Poland. Most restaurants will have a delicious beetroot soup on its menu, served hot and cold!

They had a good selection of tea and coffee too!

Because it is on the square, you get to people watch, while eating, which I always enjoy!

They also have a cosy basement for late night tipples!

Another restaurant I’d recommend is Chopin! It’s on the opposite corner of the square!

The head waiter was such a charmer! When I tried to make a joke with my friends that they didn’t serve alcohol, he joined in. He told the group they only sold potato water, grape water and hop water! Aka vodka, wine and beer!

I had one of the very few salads here! Roast beef! It was cooked to perfection and at only 23 PLN (less than £6).

When in Krakow, I would also recommend a walk to the Jewish quarter. There are also some lovely restaurants there too!

I’m sorry but I can’t remember the name of the one we ate in, but wow, it had the best bread I’ve ever eaten!

I had had a big lunch, so wanted something light for dinner! I chose a mushroom soup, served in a bread bowl! The soup was good but the bread, out of this world ! If you had the hunters stew here, it also came in the same bread bowl.

The bread was firm enough to hold the liquid, but light and flaky to eat! I wish now I’d asked how they made it! I can still taste it today, a week later!

On our last day, we had lunch at Max 18 in the square! I had chicken kebab, salad and chips! Again a really large portion of food!

What was exciting though, was behind my shoulder, in the next restaurant, they were filming! I asked our waiter what was happening. It was a scene for a local Soap Opera! I didn’t recognise the main man, but still, it made for an interesting lunch !

I’m usually a wine drinker, however it’s a bit more expensive in Poland, so I stuck to the beer!

Local beers are really easy to drink. Price ranged from 10 PLN for half a litre, to 17 PLN for a litre at Sukiennice Restaurant. So basically £2.50 to £4.00.

The two we mainly drank were Tyskie and Zywiec.

When in Krakow, it would be rude not to try their specialty!  Vodka!  At home, I love toffee vodka, but here, I would strongly recommend the cherry and hazelnut.  If you like Ferrero Rocher, you will love the hazelnut one in particular!  Its like a liquid version of it!  It was so nice, I had to buy some at the airport to bring home!  At only 16 PLN a bottle (£4), it would have been a crime not to!

All restaurants will offer a range of soft drinks too.  The homemade lemonade is also a really good choice, if you don’t want anything alcoholic.  You don’t get tap water on the table, so if you do want water, you will need to pay for it.

When you pay the bill, they will also give you a little shot of cherry liqueur, which is really really nice!  It certainly leaves you wanting a second!

Krakow is definitely a place worth a visit.  Make sure you try eating and drinking local specialties.  You won’t be disappointed!

Kraków here we come!

Woo hoo, today we are off to Kraków.  Our flight leaves at 6.25 am, so the alarm is set for 2.50 am.The plan was to go to bed last night at 8pm so we could get plenty of sleep! Typically, I’m still wide awake at this time.  I know that going to bed when you are not tired is not good for you, so I decided to watch a bit of t.v, to see if that helps.  I eventually feel the need for bed about 9.30pm.

The dogs went to kennels yesterday.  The house is so quiet.  It’s strange not having to put them out for their final toilet break before bedtime.  I’m missing them already.

I always worry that I will oversleep when I have something important to wake up for, so I have set 2 alarms, and asked hubby to make sure his is on too.

I wake up just after 1am and force myself to go back to sleep, but I just can’t! By 2 am, I’m wide awake!  I’m going to be so tired later!

At 2.45 am, I decide to make tea for us both. I always have a pint of green tea every morning, which takes a while to cool down enough to drink, so I jump into the shower in the meantime.

The plan was to leave the house at 3.30 am, but just before then hubby realised he hadn’t notified his bank that he was going away.  Eek, neither had I! So we both have to quickly log into our computers to do it.  I’m now panicking a bit, as we are late leaving, and there is no guarantee either of our banks will update our accounts in time!

We are booked into a carpark at the airport that we haven’t used before, so we have to use the postcode!  The sat nav in my car is nearly 4 years old, it doesn’t recognise the address!  I was originally going to drive, but as my reading glasses were to hand, hubby and I swap places!  Thankfully the  Sat nav on my phone recognises it, so we find it easier than we expected.

We eventually get parked and to the airport, not as early as I would like, but we are here!

We have 40 minutes before we have to go to our gate, so we pop to Burger King for some breakfast.  Why is it so expensive to eat and drink at airports?

I’m also a bit worried about being able to draw currency when we get to Kraków, so I decide to buy some  currency at the airport.  It’s better to be safe than sorry!

A quick trip to WH Smith for water and some sweets is all we have time for, before we have to board!


We have our usual seat positions!  Hubby with the window seat, and me in the middle.  For a long while the isle seat next to me was empty.  I don’t know about you, but I always hope it stays empty, so we can stretch out!  It rarely happens, and today is no exception.  It’s quite a full flight!

We are flying with Jet2.  They are not a bad company to fly with.  My only negative is, that there is nowhere for you to put your bottles of drinks.  There is a cup holder, but it’s too big  for hubby’s Fanta and too small for my water!  Sounds like something out of the 3 bears!

The just right was a green tea which I bought in the flight!  I tried to sleep, but as usual I can’t!

The flight is just over 2 hours, so not too long. We thankfully arrive ahead of schedule!  There is a short ride from the plane to passport control!  I’ve never been in such a long slow queue!  They only had 2 desks open to deal with a plane full of people!  They do eventually open 3 more desks, but jeez!

By the time we get through the carasel for baggage has stopped, and the flight no longer listed on the board, so I had to hunt round to find our bag!

We had pre booked a car to pick us up at the airport, to take us to our hotel.  We are staying at the Rembrandt Aparthotel in the old town.

We are joining 3 other couples  there.  As we have all come from different places in the uk, they arrived late last night.  The weather promises to be mid 20’s, so it should be a good weekend!

Our driver is lovely and friendly.  The trip only takes about half an hour!

Our room isn’t ready yet, so we drop our bags in a friends room and go off exploring.  As we are staying in the old town, it only takes minutes to hit the main square.


Tonight we are heading to the Jewish quarter for dinner!

The plan over the weekend is to visit the 2 concentration camps – Auschwitz and Berkenau, the salt mines, castle, and the old town.

Keep following my blog to see how the weekend goes!

I’ll upload photos to my YouTube channel when I’m home too, so don’t forget to subscribe to it too!

When you see your name in print!

Oh wow, how excited was I on 21st August , when I opened my emails?  There, in black and white, was an email from Countryfile Magazine, telling me a photo I had sent in of one of my dogs,  was selected as the winning entry, for the September edition of their magazine.  The competition was being sponsored by Halti, so I was also to receive a selection of their products!

I have been a fan of Countryfile ever since it started! Thankfully, my husband really enjoyed it too.  It has become a religion in our house now.  Every Sunday evening, we would have a roast dinner, then curl up on the sofa, to watch that weeks episode.

One day, I was sitting in a waiting room waiting for my medical.  On the table was a Countryfile magazine.  I had never seen it before, but was so absorbed in it, I was gutted when I had to go in for my appointment.

I immediately went out and subscribed to the magazine.  That was June 2012. And I’m still subscribing to it!

Every month, I have read the articles, looked at the walks and the competitions.  I have mentioned to my hubby many times that he should enter the competitions.  Both hubby and I love photography.  I have seen his photos, and I firmly believe he has some award winning pictures of his own.

I have never really thought any of mine would be good enough.  Then in July, after a trip to Isle of Skye, I saw the competition regarding pets on holiday.

I love taking photos of Fido and Lola, and had been pleased with how they had come out.  My hubby actually was the one who thought I should enter one of them into the competition.

I thought – why not!  What have I got to lose?  So on 16th July, I send off my photo.

When I received the email telling me I had won, I was absolutely shocked.  I didn’t care about the prize!  It was the fact that someone had thought my photo was good!  I couldn’t stop smiling.  Immediately, I started spreading the news!  I was now an award winning photographer!  Ok, it isn’t like I’m on TV or anything, but I was having my photo published in September’s edition of Countryfile Magazine.  I mean, Countryfile!

I have been waiting in excitement to see it in print.

Last night a friend received her copy of the magazine.  Mine hadn’t arrived, but she sent me a photo.  I was again in ‘smile’ mode!  She promised to bring me the magazine into work the next day.

When I saw it in print, it was like I had won the lottery!  Ok, most people won’t know me, but everyone who buys the magazine, will see the picture I took of Fido!

I was always into photography and competitions, just not both together!  This has given me a new motivation, to get out there and take more photos.  Learn more about my camera and  explore the countryside.

Sometimes, you just have to have confidence in your own ability.  If I hadn’t won, I wouldn’t have been disappointed, however now I have, I feel 10 feet tall.  I am very proud of myself, but more importantly, I am proud of my husbands word.  I know he takes some amazing photos too.  I will be pushing him more to get his work out there now!

Don’t ever doubt yourself.  Push yourself out there!  Sometimes, it turns into nothing, but other times, it fulfills your dreams and more!  I certainly will be doing more photographic competitions.  You never know, once day it may even get me on the TV with my photo in the Countryfile calendar!

You have to have a dream and ambition!

I have now started uploading some of my photos to YouTube.  If you are interested, subscribe to my channel.

Walk around Buttermere Lake

Ok, I’m quite a tolerant person, but enough is enough!  Once again not long after 5 am the dogs next door start barking!  Of course, that is going to wake up Fido and Lola, who have been fast asleep all night.

The problem is, with Lola and Fido, they are really good all night.  Once they have had their evening walk that is it until they wake up again.  Once they are awake both will need the toilet.   Even if I wanted to ignore them I can’t! So once again I am out walking them early!

They are both really good now at going in the new place, so I don’t spend as much time out in my pj’s with them!  Mind you I say that, but I’ve done over 3000 steps before we have left the cottage for the day so maybe more than I think!

Hubby and I both decide that once next doors dogs start barking,  there is no point in trying to lay in bed.  They don’t stop until the family obviously get up to them, which is not for another 2.5 hours!  I can’t believe they can sleep through it or even ignore it.  I don’t let my dogs bark for even a few minutes, for my own sanity, for their behaviour and also for anyone around who may hear them!

I was already cross with the owners last night.  I took Lola and Fido out about 11.30 for their last walk of the night.  It’s pitch black out the back, so I only had the torch off my phone for light!  They just opened their back door and let their two run out.  Both were barking and ran straight to Fido.  They were barking in his face.  He was on a long lead so he could have a bit of freedom.  I couldn’t see him very well and was desperately trying to pull him back to me.  I was calling to Fido so they opened the bedroom window to look.  They gave me the look that I was in the wrong.  My 2 dogs were on leads and behaving!  Their 2 dogs were barking and running riot!  I was not impressed.

The male owner is a big guy and hubby had advised I don’t say anything to him!  I fully agree, we are only here for a week so it’s not worth a fight,  but I am not a happy chappy!  Another night of only  5 hours sleep and I’m certainly not impressed.  I get up at this time every day for work.  I go to bed early to make up for this which is my choice.  I don’t expect to have to do the same on holiday, just because next door can’t control their dogs!

Anyway I’m not going to let it spoil my holiday!

Today we decide to do a walk around Buttermere Lake.  After yesterday, we decided something flatter might be better for all of us and the dogs.

The drive there is a nightmare! You have to go over Wrynose Pass again – we did that on Sunday too!  It’s so scary at times, sheer drops with thin single track roads.  There isn’t many passing places either, so not great on the nerves.

You then go through my favourite town in the Lakes, Ambleside then Grassmere!  Next you head to Keswick.  We needed to get something from the town, so had a quick stop off there.  I stayed in the car with the dogs.  It was a good excuse to try and get the first reception on my phone in over 2 days!  I got a little, but not enough to get all my emails and messages sadly!

The next stretch was over Honister Pass.  This is another steep climb before we got to Buttermere!   The journey should have taken us around 1.5 hours, however due to traffic and lots of lorries trying to pass on narrow roads, it ended up nearly 3 hours!

We are looking for National Trust parking but end up behind the Fish Inn.  Parking there is £6 for only 4 hours!  I don’t know about you, but I think that is expensive to park on what is effectively gravel!  What is worse, you have to pay 30p to spend a penny!!

The weather is a mixture of showers and sunshine.  We have waterproofs, so we are not going to let the weather stop us getting out!  We did over 25000 steps yesterday, so I don’t want today to be much less than that!

Lola broke her lead before we came away.  I thought I had repaired it!   We had swapped it onto Fido as he doesn’t pull as much.  Today of all days it decided to fail again.  Fido didn’t mind.  It is an extendable lead and now it was full length.  Yey, so he thought!   Not likely!  I had to use Lola’s figure of 8 lead which wasn’t ideal, but did the job!

The changing weather really transforms the landscape in the Lakes, and today is no exception.  The walk is quite relaxing but there still is a lot to see.

The walk takes just over 2 hours and is 8 km. We stop at the car again afterwards and have lunch.

My walking shoes have this holiday started to fail me.  I’m gutted as I love them.  They are 12 years old, so have done me well! I have a summer pair and winter pair, and these are my summer ones!  We decide to call back into Keswick on way back and get myself a new pair.  I saw a pet shop there on the way in this morning, so plan to call there too to get a new lead!

The route home started off easier!   We didn’t have to do the Honister Pass.  Woo hoo!  The sun was out when we left Buttermere so I had high hopes for the journey home!  In Keswick it was still warm, so yey!

I bought my boots and a bit random, but a pair of binoculars too!  I have a small pair, but they are not great for birds of prey at a distance!  Along with sheep and highland cows, I have a fascination for birds of prey!  Who knew that Millets give you 15% off if you are members of National Trust!  It would have been rude not to buy them!

I also managed to get a new lead for the dogs.  I love the extending leads, but I won’t have the cord ones, as I have seen and experienced too many friction burns from them.  I am sure they are great for small dogs but definitely not my size dogs!

I start the drive back to the cottage.  The road isn’t too bad, but then I remember I have to go through Wrynose Pass!  What is worse, it starts to rain really hard!  My heart is in my mouth!  There are so many steep drops and the roads are steep, twisting and very narrow!   I really don’t feel happy doing this drive.  Its only 10 miles, but believe me, it feels like 100!

I am so glad when I see our cottage.

We get out the car and guess what?  The neighbours have gone out and left their dogs again, and they are both barking!  Great!

I am so so tired today!  I prepare dinner and while its cooking have a quick shower!  Time for a nice glass of Slimline Wine!  I so deserve it!

Keep watching my Youtube channel for more photos of today, including some gorgeous scenery and cows.

 

 

Staycation or Vacation?

When you have 6 weeks annual leave a year, it’s impossible to always use it to go away.

This year the travel pot is a bit depleted so we had to carefully think how we could recharge our batteries without breaking the bank.

Our first break in 6 months was as you know a little cottage on the Isle of Skye. It was out of school holidays so was cheap as chips. We also took the dogs which saves a fortune in kennel fees. They can sometimes be more expensive than our own holiday!

Whilst this holiday was cheap, I have to say It was one of the best holidays I’ve ever had! I felt so relaxed the minute we arrived! Yes it was basic and self catering, but somehow it felt magical!  The cottage was in a really quiet location with amazing views.   Everyday there was something new to explore.  Hubby and I would be up early and out to make the most of the day.

We both love photography so took many pictures.  In the evening we would down load both cameras onto the laptop and talk about the day we have just had.  It was lovely sitting planning the next days route over a glass of wine.

This holiday certainly proved you don’t have to spend much money to have a great time.

I was then fortunate to win a trip to Italy to see where Slimline Wine was made. It was only for a few days but the scenery, food and of course Slimline Wine were amazing !  The company laid on everything for us.  We visited the factory and vineyards, as well as having time to relax around the hotel pool.  Thanks to the generosity of Slimline Wine, we only had to pay for the dogs to go into kennels so another cheap break away!

Last week we had a week off work but opted to have a staycation! Getting away from work is always nice, but I’m not good at doing nothing ! When you are at home everyday blends into the next .

When we were in Scotland there were so many new things to see and do. You don’t want to lie in, you want to be up and out to make the most of the day.

When you are at home there is nothing to rush around for. There is also the housework, food shopping, jobs round house that need doing ! You just can’t leave it .

It’s weird,staying self catering somewhere away from home doesn’t feel the same! Yes you still have to cook and clean but it’s not a chore then . I can’t tell you why!

For me I like to use my leave to do things.  Even though I’m at home, I like to think the break has been worthwhile.  Going on long walks and exploring new things.  When your at home, we seem to struggle to do that.  My stepdaughter was with us too last week.  Anyone with teenagers will know that they are not great at getting up early in the mornings, so our days started quite late.   Then it was what to do?

When you live somewhere you tend to go round with your eyes closed.  You struggle to think what you can do or where you can go?  We did manage a trip to the cinema on one day and a lovely walk in the Cotswolds another day.  It certainly wasn’t the tourist packed days of our trip to Scotland.

As Sunday came closer, I considered the return to work the next day.  When I came back from Scotland I was so relaxed, even though we had done so much.    After our staycation, I didn’t feel like that at all.   I felt like my usual weekend had just been extended.

So am I a fan of staycations?  Certainly not.  I know that you can’t always go away when you are off, and everyone needs time away from work to unwind.  For me though getting out and exploring new things is my way of doing that.  That is why, when I do get the chance to go away I appreciate it a million times more!  I never take anything for granted.  I don’t need expensive holidays to have fun.  I just need good company.

Top tips when planning a trip to the Isle of Skye

 

Are you planning a trip to this beautiful island?  Well if you are, you have made an amazing choice.  I cannot recommend the Island enough!

To help you enjoy your experience even more, here are a few top tips!

What to take with you?

Food and Drink

Are you self catering?   If you are, don’t expect to get to the Island and find lots of supermarkets.  We were there for a whole week, and the only supermarket we found was a Co-op, just as you come across the bridge.  Now for a small island that doesn’t sound bad, however there are a couple of things to consider here.

Firstly, choice.  From our point of view, when we went in there, it isn’t massive, its  a reasonable size, but I couldn’t see a lot of the things we would have liked to have bought.

Second, its location.  For us, it was 90 minutes away from where we were staying!

There is the odd shop across the island but they are small.  Also, if you are like us and going for the walking, there were days when we actually didn’t pass any shops.  When we wanted some fresh bread for instance, we had to go in the opposite direction to find somewhere to buy it.

I did try to get Tesco to do a delivery as I usually do when I go away in the UK, but unfortunately, they said as it was a commercial property they couldn’t deliver there.  We did see a lot of Asda vans around the island, so you could try asking them.  I will certainly be doing that next time.

There was a bakery in the next village, Dunvegan.  It is apparently, the oldest one on the island.  Sadly when we went there, it was either closed due to a family funeral, or had closed as sold out for the day!

Thankfully, a friend had warned me about the shop situation before we went, so we did take everything we needed.  We had a good sized fridge and freezer in our cottage, so apart from fresh bread mid week, we were fine.

Please don’t be put off by this, for me it is one of the things that makes the island so relaxing and beautiful.

Midge Repellent Spray

From the end of May to September, you are going to be bitten to death by the midges.  Especially early evening.  Make sure you go prepared.  You will see the locals wearing nets over their faces if they are outdoors.  You don’t need to go that far.  Take some repellent spray with you.  I bought Jungle Formula Maximum from Amazon which worked perfectly well!  (https://amzn.to/2JMjl6R)

Guide Books

Skye has so much to see and do that you really want to make the most of your trip.  Get yourself a couple of good books.  A walking book and a guide book.  It will ensure you maximise the time you have there.

A lot of what we saw or did on the island were not signposted, so without the books, we would never had known about them.

The books we used were The Isle of Skye by Charles Tait (https://amzn.to/2JMjl6R) and Walks Isle of Skye (https://amzn.to/2JJSxkx).  Both from Amazon

Each evening we would sit down and plan the next day.  It really helped us see the beauty of the island.

Walking Shoes

That might sound really obvious but you might be surprised to know, I actually saw a man trying to walk up the Old Man of Storr in sliders (flip flops!).

I’m going to make my own confession here too!  No I didn’t wear flip flogs, but I did wear my trainers!  You may think that sounds ok, but I struggled on some of the steep paths because I didn’t have great grip in them.  I was so cross as I had proper walking shoes in my car!

If you have ever worn proper walking shoes, you will know the difference they make.  You can buy some quite cheaply these days, if you just want them for this trip. You won’t regret it.  I walked over 110,000 steps in 7 days which included driving 1770 miles!

Drive Carefully

Skye is only small and very rural.  There is a couple of double lane roads, but most will be single lane.  There are a lot of passing places, but drive carefully as there are some tight bends, which reduces viability to see what is coming in the opposite direction.  I was initially a bit nervous about this, but you soon get into it.  Everyone is so polite and there are no problems getting around. It just take a bit longer!

You will also note that the quality of the roads is really poor, with lots of pot holes, so beware!

Sheep wander freely too.  They don’t seem to mind the traffic, but they don’t seem to mind where they lay either.  This could be in the middle of the road!  They do move but just take it slowly.  When we were there, they had their lambs with them.  Even these youngsters seem to realise they need to move out of the way of cars.

Look after your dogs!

As there are a lot of sheep about, dogs can get ticks!

People can catch Lyme disease from ticks, just as dogs can. Lyme disease is serious, so if you walk your dog in areas with deer or sheep, make sure you take precautions to avoid them and you being bitten.   Make sure your dogs are treated for ticks and remove them as soon as you can.  Lola and Fido both got them.

You can buy treatment from your vets or Amazon (https://amzn.to/2MmhTGH).  It is best to apply if before you go, but even if you apply it as soon as you get home it will still help.

Bob Martin Flea & Tick Clear Fipronil Spot-on for Large Dog, 3 TubesImage result for sheep ticks in dogs

Symptoms of Lyme disease include a circular rash, muscle and joint pain, and fatigue.

Fuel

As with supermarkets, there are not many petrol stations on the island that we saw.  Again, if you are not going via any of the bigger villages, you won’t pass these.   The rule we had was to fill up as soon as we passed one, when the tank got to half full!

Petrol prices on the island are in line with the mainland, so don’t worry that the lack of them will make it expensive!

Toilets

One of the things that makes Skye so beautiful is that it is unspoilt!  This means that they have not ruined any of the main sights with toilet blocks too!  If like me, you have a weak bladder, be warned!

My advice is to make sure that if you do see a toilet you use it!  Alternatively look for great spots in the bushes!  There isn’t many opportunities, so when you see them, take them!

Enjoy Skye

Don’t be put off by anything above.  It was one of the most magical places I have ever visited.  I’m currently vlogging on YouTube my trip to try and show people, why it has to be one of the places you visit.  Check out my journey as I publish them by subscribing to my channel.  (https://bit.ly/2MnaWFe).

If you like seafood too, don’t miss the Oyster Shed!  The best seafood platter ever!  It is literally a shed, but well worth it!  Head to Talisker whiskey distillery and you will see sign posts for it!

So get onto the internet and start booking your trip to Skye!