A Romantic Santorini Photo Shoot with Localgrapher


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Contrary to what popular blog press would have you believe, not all of us twenty or thirty something female bloggers ooze the self-confidence that is needed to routinely plaster our mug shots across the multitude of screens that increasingly exist in our daily lives. If you’ve chosen to immerse yourself in the world of travel blogging, you probably already veer towards the generous, big-boned end of the trigger-happy spectrum as far cameras are concerned; but it’s one thing feeling at ease whilst taking a photograph and quite another when you suddenly become the subject of one.

Santorini Photo Shoot Localgrapher

Let’s place this in a semi-autobiographical context by looking at my Instagram account for example. I’ve shared around 600 photos on this social media platform since I joined it a couple of years ago – only around six of them feature my face and absolutely none of them feature me with Pumpkin, despite the fact that nearly all my travels are with him.

Localgrapher Photo Shoot Blog Review

The Couples’ Holiday Photo Conundrum

I am sure many of you who travel with your significant other can relate to having hard drives full of photos that tell a story of “here’s me at…..” (insert landmark of your choice), swiftly followed by “here’s you at….” (insert same landmark).

If you want any photos together at said landmark, you are left with a collection of options as underwhelming as a sparse dessert menu you wish you’d never saved space for:

(1) Through a melange of mixed languages, ask the only random stranger who seems vaguely approachable but risk having your arm accidentally amputated in the photo and sigh five  minutes too late when you spot the missing peak of the Eiffel Tower.

(2) Deploy handheld selfie mode, which the world never intended for couples with a height discrepancy (and which yield such gigantic close-ups of your face that you will locate freckles on your nose that you hadn’t even realised existed).

Oia photography viewpoints

(3) Successfully capture photograph without bothering any strangers (on 8th attempt after half an hour spent on auto-mode camera set up with tripod. Great way to make the most of the money invested in flights and hotels. NOT.)

(4) Then there’s the scenario I simply refuse to entertain, which goes a little something like this: “here’s us at landmark in what appears to be a decent photo.”

Success finally?

Sadly not, as just hours before you Snapchatted that pic, an innocent passer-by had his eyes lopped out after walking into your intrusive eyesore (pun acknowledged) of a selfie stick.

(Disclaimer – no actual eyes were lopped out in the making of this blog post.)

Romantic Couples Photo Shoot Santorini

A Romantic Travel Photo Shoot in Santorini, Greece

Where does that leave you then, if you’re travelling as a couple or a group of loved ones and want some decent photos on an island as photogenic as, let’s say Santorini – a destination we visited just last week and whose immaculate scenery frankly upstages even the most beautiful members of the celebrity glitterati that step on it?

In a day and age where you can check your emails on a watch and be caught out in your PJs at 2pm on a Sunday (thanks Skype), surely, SURELY there is a better way to get some half respectable photos as a couple or as a group of family/friends on holiday?

Photo Shoot Oia Santorini

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A First Experience with an Airbnb Apartment in Hvar, Croatia


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I like to think that when it comes to accommodation, I am game to try most options. The type of stay that speaks out to me during my travels is one that features style and charm, convenience of location and that innate homely quality. That may be a cosy B&B near the Leaning Tower of Pisa, it might be an all-inclusive, adults only, beach front resort in Cuba ideal for couples wanting to escape that creche vibe; it might be a chic Budapest boutique or a luxurious private pool villa in Bali; it might be a 5 star club room oozing glamour in Abu Dhabi, a tranquil countryside cottage weekend with friends or even a romantic honeymoon safari tent in the middle of the wilderness in Africa.

One thing it has never been, however, is an Airbnb property  – until now that is – but on our recent visit to Croatia, Pumpkin and I decided it was time that changed. In fact, we made a real fruit punch of the accommodation in Croatia throwing in one Airbnb in Hvar, one actual B&B and one boutique hotel all into our into our six day trip.

Hvar Old Town Apartment

Hvar’s dainty old town

It dawned on us that on many occasions, particularly those with intensely concentrated itineraries, we often end up forking out for hotels that we only really wake up and fall asleep in. It’s one thing etching into those hard earned paychecks when you actually need or want the concierge, the room service, the spa, the in-room treats and the squilions of TV channels. ( In this paradise hotel in the Seychelles, for example, room service and a fully kitted out room were just what the doctor ordered when I had heatstroke.)

Hvar pebble beach feet

Hello Hvar

But is it worth spending £300 a night if all you’re using is the bed and the basin? Each to their own but that’s not my cuppa – I’d rather use that cash to book myself another flight (obvs!)

And so, after flirting with the Airbnb idea for a little while now, we were finally tempted to test it out for ourselves.

Hvar Old Town Streets

Keeping guard over Hvar

The reviews we had read about people’s experiences were a mixed bag and I am certainly under no illusion that it’s smooth sailing every time but that is true even with hotels and after reading about the warm, hospitable and positive experiences that both Emily (Cosy Traveller) and Emily (Grown Up Gap Year) had with their Airbnb stays recently, I was sold.

Air BnB Hvar Old Town

Our Hvar Abode

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The Great Wedding Bake Off


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It’s no secret to those who know me well that I am a big fan of the Great British Bake Off. I alluded it to it recently in this post and I would attribute much of the progressive love of baking that has emerged in our household over the last few years to this very show. In the last couple of weeks, the show has made headline national news in the UK after it was announced that it would be jumping ship from the nurturing comforts of its founding home at the BBC to the somewhat edgy and unexpected climes of Channel 4 (shocking for fans but in the context of global issues, it probably doesn’t take centre stage.)

Pink wedding cupcakes

In any case, it is not in my remit today to talk politics about said TV show moving from one channel to another but suffice to say, much debate has ensued, much uncertainty remains and many a baking-pun hashtag has been spotted infiltrating the social media channels of livid cake-bakers everywhere.

Peanut Butter Cups Cake

The level of outcry is testament to how much the British population have taken this programme into their hearts, so much so that the bake-off concept actually featured in my best friend’s wedding last year (I’m talking literally not Julia Roberts-related movie chat.)

A Great Wedding Bake Off

When my best friend got married last year, she figured, why have one wedding cake when you can have 20 (she has always been of high IQ), thereby launching the Great Wedding Bake Off.

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Finding the Best Skyline Views of Singapore at Night


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When you find yourself comparing travel destinations to loved ones in your life, perhaps the time has finally come to hang up your proverbial passport.

As the parallels started to pound my overactive imagination, I could recall the destination that made me feel at home, no matter how great the distance, no matter how much time lapsed. I could recall the glamorous cities that glitter, always energising those in their presence. I could recall the destinations that remain unpredictable, the ones that have left me with both intense frustration and puppy-dog comfort. And I could visualise the people in my life, who so snugly occupy each of these moulds.

Best Singapore Skyline Views

For Singapore though, I was stumped, perhaps because this was a country I connected with for far more superficial reasons that usually fail to inspire me. Singapore was not a destination, where I felt a seamless bond with the locals, nor was it a country where any specific sites resonate on in my mind. I would willingly re-visit if circumstance took me back but I would lack the intense longing to return that occurred with Bali, New York, with Tanzania, Italy or Argentina.

Skyline Views Singapore

Singapore, rather, was a destination that swept me up into its web of tantalizing, eclectic flavours from hawker stall cereal prawns to waterside crab feasts. It was a destination that amazed me with its technological advancements and a digital e-world that made my city, London, seem archaic. And mostly, it was a city whose illustrious skyline views at night would catch my fixed gaze and leave me wondering how a collection of twinkling skyscrapers could engage me with such force.

Best Photo Viewpoints Singapore

Singapore Skyline Views at Night

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An Inside Tour of Celebrity Summit Cruise Ship


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Before I went on my first cruise last year to the Caribbean, I rather naively assumed not much planning was required. Pick a destination. Pick a cruise liner. Pack your passport and you’re good to go, right?


Caribbean islands cruise Barbados

Hello Barbados

That there is the approach of a novice first time cruiser. The savvy cruise-traveller will already have considered the large ship vs small ship experience and have sifted through the array of reviews on Cruise Critic (the cruise world’s answer to Trip Advisor;) they would have bagged a bargain on drinks and internet packages and be able to counsel you on the pros and cons of independent excursions vs cruise liner excursions.

Winter Cruise Destination Guide

I’ve already shared my first impressions of cruise travel in general but if the terminology above sounds like a foreign language to you, you’re in the same mindset that I was in around about a year ago and I hope this post will give you more of a flavour of what to expect on a cruise ship and certainly on Celebrity Summit itself. I had no media affiliations whatsoever during this cruise and was just another regular, fully paying customer (who happens to enjoy blogging and blabbing on about travel!)

Celebrity Cruise Caribbean Cruise Liners

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15 Foods You Must Try in Japan


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Did anyone else gawp in bemusement during last week’s opening episode of the 2016 Great British Bake Off, when Paul and Mary appeared never to have heard of matcha? No? Just me then. I accept I may be on one end of the spectrum (stark raving matcha mad) but as two of the country’s leading celebrity bakers, I certainly didn’t expect them to be on the other.

It did help me to re-frame my perspective though as frankly, unless you fall into the categories of (a) world foodie (b) all-things-Japan obsessed or (c) happen to do your weekly shop at a Japanese supermarket, there is really no reason why you should know about it.

matcha soft serve Japan food highlights

Take my mother for example: her’s is one of those “name an ingredient and you’ll find it in here” kind of larders – and even she has never had a tin of matcha powder in there.

Green tea aside, I had forgotten that I have a serious miso-glazed weakness for plenty of other dishes found in the Japanese flavour palette and not long after arriving, I found myself on an inadvertent mission to sample as many as possible of the must try foods in Japan (trickier than you may imagine in a two week trip and I almost never ate the same thing twice.)

conveyor belt sushi Osaka

Must-Try Foods in Japan

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One Day in St Maarten – Marigot and Maho Beach


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Last year, Pumpkin and I made the uncharacteristic move of booking ourselves a break in December, a month in which we rarely travel long haul. With Pumpkin scheduled to work much of the Christmas and New Year week, we, like all well-trained travel addicts, took this as a green light to squeeze in one final voyage for 2015 before his work could hamper our wanderlust. Plus, the last remaining droplets of my annual leave were still untouched. You’ve seen the blog title. You know the drill.

first impression cruise travel

After a few days in New York City that always steals my heart, we flew to Puerto Rico to escape the fluid-filled sombre clouds of the British winter in search of Vitamin D and Caribbean Calypso, partaking in our first ever cruise.

Those of you who read my first impressions on cruise travel may recall that one of the aspects I found a little offputting about cruising was the way in which it leaves such little time in each destination. What I did find highly appealing, however, was the flavour it gives of destinations you may never have visited otherwise – or even have heard of for that matter. Exhibit 1 – St Maarten in the Caribbean.

St Maarten island sign

Exploring St Maarten-St Martin in One Day

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3 of the Best Budapest Museums


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For Pumpkin and I, this year has been the year of returns. Long before we met, we were both eager explorers, continually yearning for new experiences but reaching quite contrasting destinations in the process. Pumpkin’s voyages comprised of multiple, long-haul, solo travel experiences, involving hikes in the Himalayas, sky dives in Australia, bungee jumps in Zambia and a limitless sense of adventure.

My journeys were a little less life-threatening in nature, more weighted towards cultural city breaks in Europe, palm fringed beaches in Mauritius, and tuk tuk tours in Thailand. Many a long afternoon in the dating stage of our relationship would be spent listening to each other’s travel tales and wondering where we could discover together.

Chain Bridge Budapest

Rediscovering Budapest

We soon learned the world is an enormous place and whilst he still hasn’t been to Rome or Barcelona and I still haven’t been to Cambodia or Namibia, we have endeavoured to spend the last few years pursuing new destinations together. We got soaked at the Iguazu Falls in Brazil, gazed in adoration at the orangutans in Borneo, snorkelled with sea turtles in Barbados and shoals of colourful fish in the Maldives.

Iguazu Falls view from Brazil

Iguazu Falls

We slept in a tea factory in Sri Lanka and marvelled at geysers in Iceland but in the last year, we have found ourselves returning to countries that at least one of us has already visited, with the goal of experiencing it entirely differently with our spouse in tow.

For Pumpkin, that was a revisit to Japan and for me, it meant accompanying him to one of my favourite European cities – Budapest. Nearly a decade had gone by since I travelled there and I was excited to see how the Hungarian capital had changed, to retrace my steps through the key tourist attractions and discover some newer, more quirky experiences on this second visit.

Budapest Pinball Museum

Flipper Museum, Budapest

Fortunately, Budapest has no shortage of historical intrigue even for the return visitor and aside from the key sights I had seen last time, this year, I found myself visiting 3 of Budapest’s best museums and parks and some of the quirky and most unique museums that we had seen anywhere in the world.

top attractions Budapest

Relics of Hungarian History at Statue Park

Budapest’s Best Museums

The Pinball Museum

When most people seek out cultural exploits in European cities, they look for historical sites, art galleries and establishments devoted to the performing arts. When Pumpkin seeks out cultural exploits, we end up playing arcade games at the Flipper Pinball Museum.😀

fun quirky museums Budapest Hungary

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The Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea at Balthazar London


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If my sister was ever to give up her day job, I have no doubt that the world would quite rapidly gain a shiny new cake-maker, jewellery-curator or make-up artist extraordinaire. She may not be a blogger or writer but her list of artistic talents far extends mine. For her loved ones, this means slab upon slab of home-baked loaf cakes and sumptuous fresh lunches and for me, specifically, it means a free makeover every time she and I go anywhere together.

Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea Balthazar

Cut from the same cloth, she too hates to waste her annual leave but she’s less for the foreign escapades and more for the London foodie ones. So it was no surprise that she was the first of us to hear of the creative, new make-up inspired afternoon tea hitting London this summer – the highly anticipated Bobbi Brown Afternoon Tea at Balthazar London.

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A Port Wine Tour in Douro Valley, Portugal


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As a woman submerged in a cosmopolitan city that (mostly) fuses communities and multiple ethnic origins, the concept of a life without cultural diversity feels uninspired and barren. Demographic trends in the UK have come a long way since the 1970s, when my Mum tells me she would have to travel in excess of an hour before she came even close to finding a shop that sold the spices she needed to cook the staples she had grown up with.

Douro Valley Wine Tour Travel Blog

A Day Tour from Porto to Douro Valley

Here in London, within just a one mile radius of my home, I can point you towards an Italian deli or a Polish supermarket and I can locate the pandan essence that I bought frantically in a Singapore supermarket, hoping to engage in some Asian-inspired baking without realising it was available minutes away from home in Greenwich.

The truth is, I live in such a multi-ethnic society that it is quite possible to travel the world, metaphorically, without ever owning a passport. I had sampled Parma ham long before I had heard of Italy’s Parma region. I had cravings for dulce de leche long before visiting Argentina and I came to know of Port wine decades earlier than I did Porto, a colourful city in Northern Portugal.

Port wine tasting Douro Valley

My earliest memory of seeing Port was at primary school, when I recall a my friends’ fathers receiving bottles for Christmas, beautifully encased in oblong wooden caskets.

I didn’t drink then (I was seven after all) though not much has changed even with the acquisition of years, which makes it all the more strange that Pumpkin and I decided to devote one of our precious two and a half days in Porto to head out on a wine tour of the Douro Valley. As the world’s first demarcated wine region, we were promised awe-inspiring views and a memorable day of Port tasting.

Douro Valley Boat Ride

So would I recommend it, even to the teetotal among you? I categorically would, as I now believe the UNESCO World Heritage Douro Valley is one of Europe’s best kept secrets.

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