Tuesday, 23 September 2014

London at Night

Between the romance of a skyline filled with multicoloured light and centuries-old buildings illuminated with floodlights, there’s something undeniably dreamy about London’s post-sunset glow. Wandering around the city is the best way to get to know it so Martyn and I took a late night walk to work off all the burgers and shakes we indulged in on our trip.

London at night

We started in Covent Garden where our hotel was and walked down to the Southbank, taking in some of the never additions to the skyline like the London Eye and admiring the beautiful hotels along the Thames.

This is a picture of the London eye at night

Parliament at night

No matter how long you’ve lived in London or how many times you visit, the sight of the city’s most famous building, the Houses of Parliament’s clock tower, looming over the Thames never gets old. The tower looked beautiful in golden light and I loved hearing the bell ring out minus all the noisy day time traffic. 

This is a picture of Big Ben lit up at night

This is a picture of Westminster Abbey at night

This is a picture of tower bridge, London at night.

Tower Bridge remains as much of a London icon in the 21st century as it’s always been since it opened over 120 years ago. If you get off at London Bridge station you can exit one way to visit the Shard and another way to walk down to the river for views of the Thames, HMS Belfast and buildings like the Gherkin

Our walk around London felt very relaxed and romantic despite it being a Friday night in one of the busiest cities in the world. What are your favourite spots for a nighttime stroll in London?

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

#GetUpAndGo - Covent Garden, Emirates Cable Car and Fat Tire Bike Tour.

Travelodge might not necessarily be a hotel that you would first think of when booking a couple's weekend away but my recent stay in the Covent Garden hotel was very enjoyable. It was the perfect base and was an enabler for me to get out and explore and enjoy the hotel locale. London hotels don't come cheap and when I was planning my trip away it really had an impact on how long I could stay and what I could afford to do. Staying at a more budget friendly hotel can mean you have extra cash to eat out or spend on tours and attractions.

The chain has undergone a £57 million refurbishment programme that has completely transformed the look and feel of more than 30,000 of its rooms in just 18 months. The new Travelodge room includes an upgraded new luxury king size bed, a stylish new colour palette, a larger desk, new carpet, artwork above the bed and a white contemporary en-suite bathroom.

Martyn and I felt that we had everything we needed in our room. There was plenty of under bed storage for suitcases, tea making facilities, two sets of double glazing to keep out the noise of London traffic and blackout blinds which meant I enjoyed a long lie in on my city break which was a rare treat for me.
Kids under 16 stay free in the room with adults and checkout is at midday which is a lot later than most hotels. The only thing I would have liked that they didn't provide is a left luggage facility but you can lock up bags at train stations in London so it's not too inconvenient.

The hotel was in the perfect location and just a five minute walk from Holborn Tube station and five minutes away from Covent Garden. We headed to the London Transport Musuem on our first day which I've already shared with you and on the second day of our trip we went on a bike tour and down to Greenwich to see all the sights.

I highly recommend the Fat Tire bike tour, it was only a few stops away from our hotel on the Central line, departing from outside Queensway station twice a day. It was just under 4 hours long with a break for refreshments half way through. It was the perfect tour for someone new to cycling like myself because we mainly rode through the royal parks. We took in all the major sights and I thought the tour was a really good alternative to those expensive open top bus tours. The tour is normally £20 each but because we travelled to London on a FGW train we got 2 for 1 tickets (so many bargains to be had via this scheme)

Our tour had a Royal theme and we stopped off at lots of palaces, Westminster and various monuments on the way.I'll definitely be booking on of their other tours on my next trip to London.

We managed to eat loads of lovely food on our trip including tasty burgers and shakes in Covent Garden. I tried Shake Shack for the first time and loved the fries and shake but the burger wasn't up to Bleeker St, Byron or Five Guys standard.We also went to see Richard III with Martin Freeman playing the title character. I loved the play and Gina McKee put in an excellent performance but I wasn't overly fond of the staging.

I would also recommend a 'flight' on the Emirates Air Line cable car. You can pay for the trip with your oyster card and get spectacular views of the city from heights of 90 metres as you travel between Greenwich Peninsula and the Royal Docks.

I really enjoyed my trip to London using the Travelodge as a base to #GetUpAndGo. I took hundreds of photos so still have a few posts to share about my trip. I've got the the travelling bug now and can't wait for my weekend away in Bath next month.

*hotel stay was provided by Travelodge

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Fat Frocks wears A/W Joules collection

Dress: c/o Joules - Bag: Zatchels -Shoes: Topshop - Cardigan: Joules - Necklace: Pandora (gift)

I've been really looking forward to sharing these photos with you for a couple of reasons. Joules are definitely one of my favourite brands (Martyn says that it's very Librarian so that suits me to a tee). The photos were taken by the lovely Ella from She & Life whilst we strolled around Tredegar House. Tredegar House is an impressive Grade I listed Restoration period house with beautiful grounds, well worth a visit if you're in South Wales. The photos are much better than anything I could have captured with my camera and remote.

Joules was started in the 1980s, selling country clothes at equestrian events and country shows to more ‘urban’ customers. The company established a colour-led theme so it's country clothing was practical but still fun and stylish. Joules are currently celebrating their 25th year in business (their Joules Jubilee) and I think that their success can be attributed to their attention to detail in things like hand drawn prints and a commitment to a British country heritage look.

The lovely tunic dress like the Annette dress I'm wearing is cut to sit below the knee, it perfect for tall girls and sits mid calf on me (I'm 5ft 5.5). I love the slightly longer length which makes it very work appropriate and demure. I love the high neckline which means I don't need to wear a slip underneath and polka dots are definitely my favourite print, I must have over 10 items in my wardrobe in this pattern.

My shoes are a well worn pair from Topshop, I wore flats because Ella and I went for a walk but this dress would look great with some heeled boots or some red heels.

The Tansy yellow/mustard cardigan is so soft and warm. I love the pointelle detail to the front and the added cashmere makes it feel very luxurious.

If you liked these photos and you're looking for a photographer in South Wales for any type of event make sure you contact Ella.

What are your favourite items from the Autumn/Winter collection at Joules? Are you a fan of the country look?

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

On the Buses - London Transport Museum

I've always loved history and the great feats of engineering in the Victorian age like the building of railways is something I'm particularly interested in. I've become a bit of a railway geek over the past few years so I knew that when I headed to London on a recent trip with Martyn that the Transport Museum would be on my list of things to visit.
The Museum
explores the powerful link between transport and the growth of modern London, its culture and society since 1800. Highlights included the iconic red London bus and the world’s first Underground steam train. The galleries are full of interactive exhibits for people to explore - including real buses and trains, my ideal way to spend an afternoon.

Would you trust me to drive a London Bus?

The train above is one of the only remaining underground steam trains in existence. Steam trains were used from 1863-1905 on the London Underground Metropolitan Railway line. The first underground railway was designed to transport passengers arriving at London’s main line stations into the City. Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross were all some distance from London’s central business district.

An underground line built below the main road to the City avoided most of the property demolition needed to build a railway at ground level. It also relieved the growing traffic congestion on the roads which were full of horses and trams. The tunnels built for this railway were all dug out by hand by thousands of navvies and are still in use today because they were of such a high standard.

In the 1920s buses were the most popular mode of transport in London. By 1930 Londoners were making 1,958 million bus journeys annually. The museum is currently celebrating 'The Year of the Bus', I love the iconic red buses but would have loved more train focused content(or even a museum solely dedicated to the Underground) but that didn't stop me from loving every moment in this museum. I really enjoyed Goodbye Piccadilly: From Home Front to Western Front which revealed the story of London’s Home Front during the First World War. I think Martyn's highlight was seeing all the different tube carriages and seeing how they have changed over time. It's there until March and has some interesting sections about how the war accelerated social change including women working in the transport sector for the first time. 

If you want to visit the museum yourself (which I highly recommend) the details are below.

London Transport Museum
Address: The Piazza, Covent Garden, London WC2E 7BB
Phone: 020 7379 6344
Opening hours: Monday-Thursday, Saturday and Sunday 10:00-18:00  Friday 11:00-18:00 Admission: Adults £15.00 Concessions £11.50

If you travel to London on a First Great Western train like I did you can get 2 for 1 entry if you print the voucher from their website.

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Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Cardiff Bloggers Meetup

Come and join us for a fun and friendly meetup over a lovely cream tea at the beautiful Pettigrew Tea Rooms in Cardiff City Centre. The event with be taking place on Sunday 26th October at 11:30am. Your ticket includes an enhanced cream team (full details still to be confirmed) but will include some scrummy cakes, scones with cream and jam and accompanied by a selection of hot drinks. (Plus a lovely little goodie bag). Gluten free cream tea is available - please let us know. I've been to Pettigrew's a handful of time (post here) and love the place, they bake everything on site and are super friendly so it's going to be a great event.

This event is open to all bloggers, you don't have to be from Cardiff or Wales. If you're coming from the South West and don't know your way around Cardiff I will be happy to meet you at the train station.

After the cream tea we plan to have a little mosey around the Cardiff Fashion Quarter which is filled with independent and vintage stores and the perfect place to take some photos and shop.

All ticket money goes to Pettigrew Tea Rooms for refreshments and they promise to be something tasty and special so I hope the fact that it is a ticketed event doesn't put you off. The other organisers are the very friendly Laura and Chantelle who is was the mastermind behind the last big Cardiff Meetup I planned a couple of years ago.

Who else am I going to see there? I can't wait!

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