Monday, 16 July 2018

How to save money on days out

In between our international trips, we like to fill our weekends with days out and staycations around the UK. Whether it's a trip to London for some museums or a weekend in a different part of the country, we always try and make time for seeing attractions and places in our home country. The only downside about this is the fact that tourist attractions and hotels in the UK are much more expensive than abroad and when you're trying to plan things regularly, it can be difficult to stick to a budget. I'm quite savvy when it comes to finding deals for days out, so I thought I'd talk about my top tips for saving money on days out in today's post.

Gypsy Moth pub and the Cutty Sark, Greenwich

1. Use discount codes!

Sightseeing in Greenwich at the Royal Observatory

The likes of Voucher Codes and Voucher Cloud are perfect for budget travellers. There are often 25% off voucher codes for Virgin Experience Days or Buy A Gift, which bring your attraction entry prices down by a small margin.

2. Book your tickets in advance.

The National Maritime Museum, Greenwich

Tourist attraction tickets will nearly always be cheaper if you book them prior to your visit. Yes it means that you have to commit to a date, but if you're prepared to plan your days out in advance you can save money.

3. Take lunch with you.

Illustrative postcard of Greenwich in Greenwich Park

Days out start to get expensive when you pay for food and drink, as well as transport and tickets. Why not take a packed lunch and a bottle of water with you? At lunchtime you can then sit outside picnic-style and it will hardly cost you anything compared to buying lunch out.

4. Two for one days out by train.

A quote on the wall at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich

This is something that I've learnt about fairly recently, but if you travel by train you can easily get 2 for 1 tourist attraction tickets. We are planning to make the most of this whilst our Canadian friend is staying with us in the UK, as we will be going to lots of London tourist attractions and travelling by train on most of the days that she's here.

5. If there's a group of you, travel by car.

Meridian Line, Greenwich

If you travel by car the petrol price can be shared between you, which is often much cheaper than each of you having to pay for train or bus tickets. Recently we found that it's much more affordable for us to drive to Brighton for the day and also pay for parking, than get the train to London and back.

Hopefully these tips have shown you that days out don't always have to be expensive. If you just plan ahead and work out all of the costs in advance, you can end up saving a lot of money on days out.

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Places to visit by the sea in Kent

Living in Canterbury means that we're only 20 minutes drive from the Kent coast. In the 1960s, British holidaymakers used to flood to Kent's main seaside towns, but since it became much easier and cheaper to travel abroad for holidays, these places are no longer in their heyday. Over the past few weeks quite a few of our friends have come to Canterbury to visit us and in addition to taking them around our city, we've been showing them places on the Kent coast. From the nostalgic seaside towns to bustling tourist spots which have colourful beach huts and cute restaurants on the seafront, we really have a wide variety of coastal towns in Kent.

Seagulls & Flamingos shop, Whitstable


Painted houses on Whitstable seafront

Whitstable is by far my favourite coastal town in Kent and fortunately for us, it's practically our next door neighbour. Whitstable has it all: a harbour market, a row of fantastic beach huts and a beautiful high street with shops that all follow the seaside theme. Whitstable is an extremely popular place to visit and on a Summer's day, you can grab a seat at one of the seafront bars and just soak up the atmosphere.

Having a San Pellegrino fizzy orange drink at the Whitstable Oyster Co. bar in Whitstable

Herne Bay

Herne Bay Pier, Kent

Herne Bay is another place which is only a short drive from Canterbury. There's a bustling pier where you can go on some rides or go crabbing, as well as a Seaside Museum and Mini Golf. For lunch I'd recommend you heading to the high street and having afternoon tea at Alice and the Hatter Herne Bay: the sister restaurant to my current favourite tearoom in Canterbury. It's definitely not a typical seaside food spot, but it's got fab theming.

Alice and the Hatter tearoom at Herne Bay


Margate beach, Kent

Margate is no longer as vibrant as it was in the 1960s and the town has a lot of derelict buildings, but if you want to see where your Grandparents went on holiday when they were little, I recommend a visit to Margate. You can find popular tourist attractions just footsteps from the beach such as Dreamland: the UK's oldest theme park and the Turner Contemporary gallery. Grab some chips for lunch on a nice day and try to imagine how bustling the place must have been 50 years ago.

Dreamland theme park, Margate

Kent is full of lots of interesting places to visit and with it being the gateway to France, we are fortunate enough to have lots of seaside towns. Why not book a weekend away to Canterbury and then drive to one of these places for an afternoon? You'll certainly get to experience what Kent has to offer.

Are you a fan of the British seaside?

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Sunday, 8 July 2018

Strawberry picking in Essex

When I was in The Range a while ago, I found a book of fruit-themed craft paper. I didn't initially have any use for the paper, but as soon as I scanned through the book, I saw a sheet of strawberry paper. I immediately said to Stuart "Strawberries... why don't we go strawberry picking this Summer?" and a few weeks after that conversation, I ended up at Cammas Hall Fruit Farm with my family picking strawberries on a Saturday afternoon.

Strawberry picking at Cammas Hall Fruit Farm in Essex

The strawberry picking season starts in June and we were at the fruit farm on it's opening weekend. Picking your own strawberries is not cheap compared to buying the fruit at a supermarket, but it's a novelty experience and fun for the whole family, so you quickly forget about the cost of the fruit.

When we arrived at the farm, we saw a big 'STRAWBERRY FIELDS' sign at the side of the car park. I jumped out of the car and ran straight to get a photo, as it's not often that you get to see such an instagrammable sign in the Essex countryside.

'STRAWBERRY FIELDS' sign at Cammas Hall Fruit Farm in Essex

My Mum picked up a basket at the entrance whilst we were distracted by the sign and started picking the fruit. She managed to pick quite a lot of strawberries before I caught up with her, so when I joined her it wasn't long until our basket was full.

Strawberry plants at Cammas Hall Fruit Farm in Essex

As we were visiting the farm so early in the strawberry season, there weren't many rows of strawberry plants ready for picking. Of the couple of rows that were open, you had to rummage amongst the plants to find edible fruit, but that's what makes the strawberry picking experience so enjoyable! Whilst we were choosing fruit to pick, we found such a wide variety of different shaped strawberries, that would never make it to the supermarket shelves.

My family at Cammas Hall Fruit Farm in Essex

Once we'd finished, we paid for our strawberries at the tills in the shop, which had lots of fruit-themed merchandise as well as cream and ice cream that you could purchase to go with your strawberries. We didn't buy any of the extras as we had yoghurt back at my parents' house, but the ice cream looked delicious!

The shop and tills at Cammas Hall Fruit Farm in Essex

We had a lovely time fruit picking and after our afternoon at Cammas Hall, I actually had an excuse to get the fruit-themed craft paper. If you're looking for something different to do this Summer, I'd highly recommend visiting a fruit farm.

Have you ever been strawberry picking?

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Thursday, 5 July 2018

Things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon

If you like theatre and Shakespeare, Stratford-upon-Avon should be high up your UK travel bucket list. The whole town is themed around the great playwright and if you visit, you’ll be spoilt for choice as there are so many Shakespeare attractions to see. From his birthplace to the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, there really is something for all ages. We went to Warwickshire for the weekend in May and we spent 4 hours in Stratford-upon-Avon, taking in the Shakespeare sights. For today's post I thought I'd talk about some of the many attractions on offer in Shakespeare's hometown which make the town such a great place to visit.

Stratford-upon-Avon Saturday market

Boat trip on the River Avon

Jetty on the River Avon

For as little as 50p, you can take a trip out onto the River Avon. You can find boat tours by the canal running through the Bancroft Gardens, which is also a fantastic lunch spot if you fancy having a picnic outside. We found it really relaxing watching the boats pass by.

Royal Shakespeare Theatre

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

The Royal Shakespeare Theatre is a Shakespearian landmark in Stratford-upon-Avon, where you can see some of the original plays and contemporary theatre in action. It's a tremendous building which overlooks the Bancroft Gardens and it's definitely somewhere that you should visit if you're hunting down the Shakespeare sights in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust

Shakespeare's Birthplace Trust, Stratford-upon-Avon

For £15.75 per adult, you can go inside Shakespeare's childhood home. We thought that the entry fees to his birthplace were quite expensive so we didn't go inside the Trust, but something we learnt is that you can still see the outside of the house from Henley Street: a popular shopping street in Stratford-upon-Avon. We stopped for photos on Henley Street and went in the birthplace shop which was full of Shakespeare-themed souvenirs.

Hathaway Tea Rooms

Hathaway Tea Rooms, Stratford-upon-Avon

Sharing it's name with Shakespeare's wife, Hathaway Tea Rooms is a tea room with old English character. The building itself is very old and the interior of the café has been kept very simple, to highlight how historic the building is. Cups of tea are relatively affordable at the tearoom and I'd definitely recommend stopping here for your drink instead of going to chain cafés such as Costa or Starbucks whilst you're in Stratford-upon-Avon.

Shakespeare's Memorial in Bancroft Gardens

Shakespeare's Memorial in Bancroft Gardens, Stratford-upon-Avon

In Bancroft Gardens you will find Shakespeare's Memorial, which features statues of some of Shakespeare's iconic characters. The Memorial stands out across the park and lots of tourists stop to take pictures. Given that Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, it's rather fitting to see such a spectacular memorial in the city.

There are lots of Shakespeare things to do in Stratford-upon-Avon, which draw in tourists from all over the UK and further afield. The attractions listed above are a few suggestions, but there is certainly plenty more to see in Stratford-upon-Avon, if you're prepared to pay to go inside the houses of his family members. Stratford-upon-Avon is a lovely town, with such interesting history just waiting to be explored.

Are you a fan of Shakespeare? Have you ever visited Stratford-upon-Avon?

Thanks for reading my blog today.