Torres del Paine: making reservations for the W and O Treks

You may already be aware that booking the W and Circuito Macizo Paine (O) treks can be kind of a nightmare. If not, then you’re aware of it now!

The popularity of the park means that places at the campsites and refugios start to book up extremely quickly for the summer months (December – February). Therefore if you have set dates for your trip it is advisable to book as early as possible, ideally when booking opens. This is more problematic for longer term or last minute travellers, who aren’t sure when they’re going to reach Puerto Natales. The option then is to check online availability once you have a clearer idea of dates and if that doesn’t work out to try to book in Puerto Natales, which IS still an option.

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Reconnect with nature at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew

Located by the Thames in Richmond, Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew is world renowned for its extensive collection of plants, and for its research and conservation activities and expertise. The gardens were created in 1759 by Princess Augusta, who continued the work of her husband Prince Frederick by developing the garden at Kew Palace. Over time the gardens grew in size to over 300 acres as they encompassed additional royal land, and in 2003 became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

So why should you visit? Kew is the place to go if you want to admire beautiful flowers, learn about a diverse range of plants, visit a royal palace and enjoy a day away from the city. And if you fancy a challenge, why not see how many plants you can identity as you walk around the grounds?

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Carnival, Aldeburgh Style

Ever since I was a little girl, one of the highlights of my summer has been the Aldeburgh Carnival. Today, it still remains an important fixture on our family calendar, with extended family and friends coming together every year to enjoy the celebrations.

So what is the Aldeburgh Carnival? The first thing you need to know is that it’s a traditional British affair; don’t come here expecting the Rio Carnival! Think homemade floats and costumes, a funfair, egg and spoon races for children, prizes for the best decorated houses and the like.

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Walking 50km through the night for charity

When I signed up for Wide Horizons’ 50km Nightline I thought it sounded like a tough but achievable challenge. It turned out to be one of the most physically and mentally draining experiences of my life!

Admittedly, I didn’t help things by
1. Getting up at 6.30am and working from 8.00am – 3.30pm on the day of the event
2. Not getting enough sleep the night (and week) beforehand
But even without the above mitigating circumstances 50km (approx. 31 miles) is a long distance to walk in one day. Once you add walking overnight into the mix too it becomes a whole lot tougher.

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A trip to the farm…in central London

On London’s Isle of Dogs, located by busy streets and behind a large supermarket you’ll find a hidden gem; Mudchute Park and Farm.

One of the largest inner city farms in Europe, Mudchute Park and Farm was established in 1977 following successful protests by the local community against plans to built a high rise estate on the land. The land was well worth saving and the Mudchute Association (the charity who run the site) have done a fantastic job of making the most of the 32 acres.

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Walk the Thames: Hampton Court to Richmond

When I need a break from London I often find I don’t actually need to leave the city to feel like I’ve escaped. Sometimes a walk through a park, along a canal or besides the River Thames is enough; a change of scene can make all the difference.

I’ve walked/run several sections of the Thames Path, from the Thames Barrier to Richmond on the south side and from Island Gardens to Tower Bridge on the north side and every section has something to offer. This time I decided to walk an 8 mile(ish) stretch of the path which proved to be particularly scenic, beginning at Hampton Court and continuing to Richmond.

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Day by Day: 4 days in Barcelona

I’ve technically been to Barcelona twice now, but I’m not particularly inclined to count my first visit to Spain’s second city. Long story short, it involved a school coach trip and notable events included having to move hotels because the first one was so awful and the majority of the group being put in detention for underage drinking. While we did enjoy activities such as visiting Camp Nou and the nearby Port Aventura theme park we didn’t see much of the city at all, only making one trip into the city centre for a quick stroll down La Rambla.

My youngest sister Philly went on a similar trip several years later, albeit a more successful version. However she also felt that she hadn’t really seen Barcelona, so we decided it would be fun to go back and discover more of what Barcelona has to offer. Continue reading

Not just a beach resort: discover historic and cultural Malaga

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect of Malaga. Due to its location on the Costa del Sol I wondered whether it might be a city full of high rise hotels and, being a bit of a culture vulture, this didn’t really appeal to me. However, my interest was piqued when I read about Malaga’s historic centre; perhaps there was more to Malaga than I thought. So after a few amazing but chilly days in Granada, my sister Beth and I were looking forward to catching the bus to Malaga for two days of winter sun, culture and history.  Continue reading

Getting lost in Granada

I first visited Andalusia in December 2015. I only had time to visit three cities; Córdoba, Cadiz and Seville, but I enjoyed every second there.

It didn’t take much more than the first hint of a cool breeze in September for me to book my flights for another winter trip to Andalusia. This time I decided to venture further east to visit Granada and then Malaga with my sister Beth, a history enthusiast, joining me on the trip.  Continue reading