Thursday, 15 November 2018

A morning in historic Faversham

During my week off work in September, my parents came to visit for a couple of days and we ended up spending some time in Canterbury and nearby historic town Faversham. I’d never been to Faversham so it was exciting to visit somewhere new, especially seeing as I’ve been making an effort to explore more of Kent in the past year. We drove over to Faversham after breakfast on a rainy Wednesday morning and we parked up in the town centre near the historic market place, which Faversham is known for. We put a couple of hours on the car park as we weren't sure how much there was to do in the town, before setting off on foot for the historic town centre.

Faversham market place, Kent

The first thing that came into my head when we reached the marketplace was wow, what lovely colours! There were pink, mint green and orange buildings alongside traditional black and white-fronted Tudor-style cottages and this was all within 5 minutes of our car - what a fantastic surprise. Most of these buildings were home to independent gift shops, cafes and Shepherd Neame pubs: the famous Kent beer producer still resides in Faversham town, so naturally all of the pubs are run by the local brewer. We wandered around the core of the marketplace first, before walking out towards the Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre and Church Street.

Church Street, Faversham

Church Street had lots of gorgeous painted houses, much like Blackfriars Street in Canterbury. At the end of the street was the St Mary of Charity Church which looks absolutely majestic at the end of the pastel-coloured row of buildings. We went inside the Church briefly and it was just as beautiful inside. It was much bigger than we expected from the outside and it looked like a fantastic venue for ceremonies and Weddings.

Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre, Faversham

After we'd been inside the Church, we were able to go into the Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre. My Dad has been a fan of their beer for years so it was great to be able to go inside and see their merchandise and all of the different types of beer that they offer. If you're a beer fan you can actually join their Brewery Tour and based on how interesting the Visitor Centre was, I'm sure it wouldn't disappoint. Before we left the centre I picked up an illustrative postcard of Faversham town centre to add my collection. After all of our adventures and days out this year, my postcard collection has certainly grown.

Flowers outside The Sun Inn in Faversham, Kent

The last thing we did in Faversham was head back to the Marketplace for a little bit of shopping. My Dad picked up a cup of tea at the town's vintage tearoom whilst we wandered in and out of the gift stores. I took some photos of the Clock tower and the surrounding square, vowing to come back to the town on a warm sunny day so that I'd be able to capture the vibrant coloured buildings in the best light.

Faversham was an absolute delight and seeing as it's only 10 miles from Canterbury, I'm sure we'll head back there in the not-so-distant future. I had a fab time exploring somewhere new with my parents.

Have you ever been to Faversham? Did you try the Shepherd Neame brewery tour?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, 8 November 2018

Why Edinburgh is the perfect place to visit for a stress-free weekend away

Our early September trip to Edinburgh was probably the most relaxing and convenient city break that we've been on since Stuart and I started travelling together in April 2016. We've explored cities close to home such as Dublin and capitals further afield like Riga and Warsaw and after all of these weekends away, Edinburgh is hands down the most convenient place that we've visited for a short 2 day trip. From the very quick flight to the fact there's no change in currency, we had to do very little preparation ahead of our weekend trip to Scotland. If you're looking for somewhere to visit over a long weekend that doesn't require a long flight or complicated transfers to get to your hotel, I can't recommend Edinburgh enough. Today's post should hopefully highlight why the Scottish capital is the city to visit for a stress-free weekend away.

Victoria Street, Edinburgh

1. The cheap flight from London.

The Scotsman, Edinburgh

We were barely on the plane an hour when we flew from London Stansted to Edinburgh. In order to fly at nice times we flew out with easyJet and back with Ryanair, but we only paid around £50 each to get to Scotland and back. The fact that flights are cheap makes Edinburgh a financially stress-free destination. As long as you avoid the Fringe and New Year's Eve, you should be able to grab a bargain when you book London to Edinburgh flights.

2. You can walk straight out of Edinburgh airport and be on a tram into the city centre within minutes.

Edinburgh sign at Edinburgh Airport

Edinburgh Trams run every 6 minutes between the airport and York Place. You can get from the airport to Princes Street in just over half an hour, which is where the majority of hotels are located anyway. There's no such thing as complicated transfers when you visit Edinburgh.

3. The tourist sights are all very close together.

The Mound, Edinburgh

Most of the tourist attractions in Edinburgh are in and around the Royal Mile. You'll find the Castle, Camera Obscura and the Scotch Whisky experience within footsteps of each other and Princes Street Gardens and the Scottish National Gallery are only 5-10 mins further away. Even if you choose to wander out towards Calton Hill for the views or completely in the other direction to the University of Edinburgh, you'll still only be about 30 minutes walk from Princes Street and the centre of Edinburgh.

4. The city is not packed with tourist attractions, so there is no need to rush around.

Entrance to Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh has plenty of attractions to visit, but not anywhere near as many as London, Paris or Rome. In 2 days you can explore the entire city at a leisurely pace and there is no need for you to plan an itinerary in order to fit everything in. Make sure you book Edinburgh Castle in advance though as tickets are cheaper online and you can skip the queues when you get there.

Edinburgh is such a lovely city to visit with its spectacular castle, old buildings and local cuisine. As there isn't an overwhelming amount of things to do in the city, we were able to sightsee and also relax during our time there which made it a great 48 hours. If you visit the Scottish capital for a weekend you won't spend a long time travelling or waiting in queues at tourist attractions. You'll be able to explore at your own pace and take everything in without feeling rushed.

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Thursday, 1 November 2018

48 hours in Edinburgh

In early September we headed to Edinburgh for a long weekend at the start of my week off work. We’d booked the trip at the start of 2018 after I found cheap mix-match flights and a bargain hotel deal with Hub Hotels by Premier Inn. My Mum grew up in Edinburgh and I’ve been visiting the city ever since I was a little girl, so I was desperate to take Stuart to the city that I have such fond memories of from my childhood.

I heart Scotland sign near the Royal Mile, Edinburgh


Flowers on Rose Street, Edinburgh

We woke up early on Saturday 1st September and headed straight to Stansted Airport for our easyJet flight to Edinburgh. The flight to Edinburgh is so short that we landed before 11am and we were on Princes Street (Edinburgh’s main shopping street) before midday. We were staying on Rose Street which is parallel to Princes Street, so we dropped our bags there straightaway before heading out to explore.

Edinburgh city view from Calton Hill

Our first stop was Calton Hill, which has absolutely incredible views of the city. We had a picnic at the top of the hill whilst taking in all of Edinburgh’s major sites. You could see both Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyrood from the hill so it’s easy to see why Calton Hill has some of the best views in the city.

The Royal Mile, Edinburgh

From Calton Hill we walked back into the city centre and across the North Bridge. We followed the road upwards to the Royal Mile where street performers and bagpipe players were helping to create a lively atmosphere. We walked up to the castle briefly but we didn’t hang around for long as we had planned to go inside the castle the following day.

During the afternoon we explored the new town and Princes Street Gardens. We went souvenir shopping on Princes Street and George Street, which is actually where we ended up staying for dinner in the evening. There was a Pizza Hut on a road perpendicular to Princes Street and George Street, so we were able to get quick comfort food after a day walking around the city.


Flowers in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

We didn’t upgrade our hotel room to include breakfast so by 8am on Sunday we were out and about wandering the streets of the city. The city centre was so quiet at this time as the shops, cafes and tourist attractions didn’t open until 10am, but we were able to find a Greggs bakery that had opened early enough for us to get some breakfast. We took our croissants to Princes Street Gardens and enjoyed them on a bench in the park, with a view of the spectacular Edinburgh Castle. After 9 we walked up to the castle via a slightly quieter side road and we were at the castle gates a little bit before the 9:30 opening. When we arrived I thought that we’d been a little bit too keen getting there so early, but seeing the crowds at the castle at 11am made me relieved that we’d got there for opening. I was also pleased that we’d booked the tickets in advance as there was a long line of people wanting to buy tickets on the day.

Outside Edinburgh Castle

There was so much to see at the castle from the restored prisons to the Royal Apartments and the Scottish Crown Jewels. We spent 2 hours there and that was ample time to see everything. Advance adult tickets for the castle cost £17 and we thought that this was very affordable given how much there is to see in the castle grounds.

The Thistle Stop Cafe, Edinburgh

The Thistle Stop Cafe was where we ended up at lunchtime, mainly because of the authentic Scottish name. We both ordered toasties at the cafe which arrived very quickly, making our lunch a ‘whistle stop’ on the Edinburgh tour.

Museum Context 'Harry Potter' shop in Edinburgh

In the afternoon we spotted the Harry Potter shop near the Royal Mile. Until I saw the shop I’d totally forgotten that we were in JK Rowling’s city and once I stepped inside the shop I quickly realised how Edinburgh is the inspiration for Harry Potter.

After a brief bit of Harry Potter education, we went for a long walk out to The Meadows and the University of Edinburgh. On one of the main streets leading to the university we found some movie fandom shops, which were full of of unique film merchandise and comics. If only we’d have taken hold luggage with us to Edinburgh, I could have bought lots of the Disney bits in one of the stores.

Victoria Street, Edinburgh

Not far from The Meadows we found a long set of steps which took you down to Grassmarket and Victoria Street: the road that inspired the Wizarding World’s Diagon Alley. Victoria Street felt like a painting with all of its brightly coloured shops and the neighbouring old Scottish buildings. After we’d reached the top of Victoria Street we were back on the Royal Mile so we decided to head back to the hotel for a brief rest and a free cup of tea (Hub hotels let guests grab free tea and coffee all day in the lounge downstairs).

Having a scone at The Jenner's Restaurant, Edinburgh

Our last touristy thing we did in the city was go to Jenners: a 180-year-old department store that has a cafe overlooking Princes Street Gardens. My Mum went to Jenners when she was little so I felt as if I’d taken a walk in her footsteps when we stopped there for a scone in the afternoon. Jenner’s felt so nostalgic and old, reminding me very much of Mr Selfridge and the glamour of classic department stores.

Kat Last having dinner at Las Iguanas in Edinburgh

When it was time to have dinner in the evening we stopped at Las Iguanas on George Street. We had nachos and quesadillas for starters, followed by a veggie enchilada (me) and a rack of ribs (Stuart) as main courses. Las Iguanas had such a fun atmosphere; I wish they would open a branch in Canterbury.


We left the hotel early on Monday morning as our flight was before lunchtime. There was so much rain that morning so I was grateful that the bad weather had held off until the day we were leaving. Getting back to the airport was very convenient as there was a tram stop on Princes Street.

We had a fantastic weekend in Edinburgh, seeing the sights, eating good food and marvelling at all of the lovely traditional Scottish souvenirs. Two nights was the ideal amount of time to spend in the city and we left on the Monday morning feeling as if we’d seen it all. Edinburgh has definitely reminded me how much I like Scotland and I’m hoping to go back and visit another area of the country in the not too distant future.

Have you ever been to Edinburgh? What did you think of the city?

Thanks for reading my blog today.


Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Disney Parks at Halloween

If you're looking for somewhere special to visit at Halloween, look no further than one of the 6 Disney Parks around the world. From Mickey pumpkins to haunted houses, the Walt Disney Company really know how to put on extravagant Halloween displays.

Mickey pumpkin at Hong Kong Disneyland

Disneyland Paris

My only Halloween experience at a Disney Park was back in 2004, after I'd had some painful surgery. My Mum and Dad took my sister and I to Paris during the half term holiday and we spent 3 blustery October days in the Disneyland Park and the Walt Disney Studios. I remember being amazed at the attention to detail in the park even as an 8 year old and thinking how special all of the decorations were.

Halloween at Disneyland Paris in 2004

Hong Kong Disneyland

My parents were in Hong Kong Disneyland this October and much to my delight, my Dad sent over a few photos for me to use in a Halloween-themed travel post. They spent 24 hours at Hong Kong Disneyland in mid-October as part of a wider around the world trip and they got to experience Halloween season at one of the Walt Disney Company's newest theme parks around the world. Main Street USA was decorated in pumpkins, there were Autumnal flower arrangements on display and Minnie Mouse and Mickey Mouse were dressed in Halloween outfits.

Entrance to Hong Kong Disneyland during Halloween season

Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse in Halloween outfits at Hong Kong Disneyland

It made me so happy that my Mum and Dad went to Disneyland whilst they were staying in Hong Kong. Hopefully one day Stuart and I will be able to go too and also get closer to completing my bucket list item of visiting every Disney Park around the world.

Halloween decorations on Main Street USA at Hong Kong Disneyland

At some point I'd like to visit Walt Disney World in Florida at Halloween and go to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party. Getting tickets to the party would be a very special Disney experience!

Have you ever been to Disney at Halloween?

Thanks for reading my blog today.