Travel plans for 2019

I vowed that 2019 would be the year I slowed down as I was starting to get travel burnout but alas I turn 30 next year and have got slightly carried away with the celebrations. We have a lot happening in the first six months, a little two much if I'm honest! We were a bit too trigger happy with booking flights and have certainly learnt from our mistakes. We won't be booking two long haul trips again in one year! But nevertheless, 2019 is set to be a year to remember and I honestly can't wait.

Our friends moved to Malaysia around 18 months ago to teach and we promised we'd go visit them. They will have been out there for two years next August and we're worried we would miss our chance if we left it any longer. So we did what any sane person would do... Book flights on a whim! We head out there the day after my 30th birthday party (slight error there I think) in time to celebrate Chinese New Year with them. We have a week exploring Kuala Lumper, Ipoh, Melacca and Cameron Highlands with them before leaving them and heading up north just the two of us to visit Penang and Langkawi. I never had that Gap Yah so this will be first time to South-East Asia, a region that I declared to my parents I would be visiting aged 17. 13 years I'll finally be making that come true. Good things come to those who wait eh?

Las Vegas
Way back when we were tiny pups of 21, we made a pact to go to Las Vegas for our 30th birthday year. We saw it as one big last blow out as friends before the responsibility of houses, marriage and babies caught up with us all. Now that time is upon us, I don't really think any of us will be thinking about the responsibilities for a long time yet, especially the marriage and babies. But we still have a pact to keep! There are six of us heading to Vegas and we've got so much planned. I'll finally be ticking off what feels like a lifelong dream of visiting the Grand Canyon. Let's gloss over the fact the motel we've booked for an overnight stay looks like it should be in a horror film...

We're hoping to head back over to Derry over one of the May Bank Holidays to spend a few days with family. We'll probably just book one weekend that has pretty cheap flights - sadly we can't do any midweek breaks as our holiday allowance is a bit tight!

The Cotswolds
The first wedding of 2019 is one of my old school friends who I have know since I was nipper. 26 years of friendship - mad eh? She's getting married in an absolutely beautiful venue in the heart of the Cotswolds in June. We're hoping to rent an Airbnb in Cheltenham which is around a 20 minute drive from the venue. We'll be driving down after work on a Friday and spending the weekend there so hopefully won't be too hungover to do a bit of exploring.

My boyfriend turns 30 in July and he's always mentioned Dublin as somewhere on his list of places he'd love to go. It's unusual as he doesn't really have too many things on his bucket list. I wanted to surprise him but then I got overexcited with my great idea so I spilled the beans. So it's no longer a surprise. We've spent a lot of time in Ireland over the past 12 years but never quite made it to Dublin. It's be nice to finally tick it off the list!

Finally my last trip of the year will be Rhodes for a work colleague's wedding. I haven't been to Greece since I was about 11 so am very much looking forward to going back as an adult. Give me all the Greek salad and baked feta please! Rhodes is an island I haven't been too and I've heard great things about it.

2018: a year in travel

So we still have a good few weeks until 2018 is over but I've wrapped up all my travel for the year so though I'd do a round up. This year has been pretty full on despite me declaring I was going to start taking it easy. It seems I just don't have that much self control when it comes to booking trips away. Here is where I've been lucky enough to visit this year - it's been a blast!

The first trip of the year saw Connor and I head to Bordeaux for a couple of days in January to celebrate our 11 year anniversary. We found £20 flights with Ryanair and a great Airbnb just a few minutes walk to the centre. Bordeaux is a brilliant size for a few days of exploring, eating and drinking. The architecture reminds me a lot of Paris and it's very pretty. I think anymore than two days you would run out of things to do. It has made me keen to explore even more of France now. I've got Toulouse and Lille on my list next.

New York
Ah I never thought I'd ever have been lucky enough to visit New York a second time so this still feels like a bit of a pinch me moment. It was so nice to experience the city with my mum, to see it through her eyes, and she encouraged me to see it at a much slower pace. I'm guilty of rushing everywhere on a city break, so desperate to fit everything in. We had such a fantastic week together and I was so sad it was over. Hopefully this will be the start of a new city break tradition for us.

May saw 13 friends and I headed to Magaluf for our friends wedding in Mallorca. What an experience! I never thought I'd have a holiday to Maggers for the first time at the grand old age of 29. We all based ourselves in Magaluf as there was such a mixed crowd of people. Going out on the strip was a hilarious yet slightly traumatic experience but one where I had so much fun. It felt like I was 18 again!  The beautiful wedding venue itself was set in an olive grove around an hour inland, I felt like I was an extra in Mamma Mia the whole night! It was one of the best nights of my life, let alone the best night of my married friends!

A mere three weeks after heading to Magaluf, I was on my way to Benidorm for my sister-in-law's hen do. After nearly a year in the planning, I have to be honest and say I was absolutely petrified about this. But it went great, even if I do have to blow my own trumpet! We spent three days relaxing in a villa just on the outskirts with a private pool before heading into Benidorm for evenings full of dancing a lots of gin.

Northern Ireland
There first of my three trips to Northern Ireland was in August with my blogging babes. We stayed at Hannah's parents house in County Antrim for the bank holiday weekend. It was glorious. I don't think I ever stopped laughing or eating. We saw some incredible sights and int cemented the fact that Ireland really is my favourite country in the world. It's somewhere that just feels like home.

Next up was Belfast in September with some friends to see Biffy Clyro. Apart from a few hours, I hadn't really spent much time in Belfast so I was really excited to see more. I absolutely fell head over heels for the city. It's a city transformed with so much going on, such incredible places to eat and just such cool vibe. It's hard to imagine that it was in the midst of the troubles just 20 years ago. The transformation has been breathtaking. I honestly cannot wait to visit again.

My boyfriend's family live in Derry so it's a place I have a special place for my heart. We headed over last month for a few days to spend time with family and it was great. We didn't really do too much exploring, just choosing to spend our time in the city and sitting in front of the fire in the evenings catching up with a drink. Connor's cousin has just got an adorable Jack Russell terrier who was only 6 weeks old so we got to enjoy lots of puppy cuddles. My favourite type of cuddle!

Christmas gift guide: Five cookbooks for the foodie in your life

I might be biased but I think a cookbook is a great gift for Christmas for the foodie in your life. It can't be just me who loves thumbing though a book, making notes on the recipes I desperately need to make and drooling over the beautiful pictures. You can pick them up really cheap on Amazon if you keep an eye out and they make a great shout for a secret Santa as they're often involved in £10 and under promotions.

The Roasting Tin - Rukmini Iyer
I've waxed lyrical about how much this book has changed our weekday dinners and recommend it to everyone I know. It's a great option for cook who has only just started to experiment in the kitchen as the recipes are so simple and rewarding. The ingredients are always so easy to source and all store cupboards ingredients that you can use over and over again. There's nothing worse than buying an ingredient to use once and then it gathers dust at the back of your cupboard.

Simple - Ottolenghi
This is my first Ottolenghi cookbook and what a corker it is. I am obsessed! This is brilliant for cooks who enjoy spending time in the kitchen experimenting with different cuisines. It loosely follows a Middle Eastern theme and has some great vegetarian dishes to try. Despite the name, the recipes really aren't that simple to create so it's very much a weekend book. You do need a lot a patience to commit to a recipe!

Fresh India - Meera Sodha
Not just one for vegetarians, Fresh India is a delight full of absolutely delicious curries, mouthwatering desserts and tasty snacks. It's a must have for anyone who loves Indian food but are after something a little different to the norm. They're always so simple to follow and I really love Meera's tone. She really makes you feel like one of family and I love her stories.

Sirocco - Sabrina Ghayour
I love all of Sabrina's book but you really can't beat her second offering. Sometimes attempting new cuisines can be a bit overwhelming but Sirocco really makes you feel like you can tackle Middle Eastern food head on and always come out with a success. There are some fantastic fusion recipes. I feel lots more of a weekend book as the recipes are much better eaten in a mezze form - I don't always have time too attempt more than one dish during the week!

John Whaite Bakes at Home - John Whaite
This is one of my favourite baking books with everything attempted deemed to be a success. It's a great book for the more accomplished baker as the recipes really stretch you. He uses some really unusual combinations but just seems to know what works perfectly. You can tell he's really put in a lot of effort to find recipes that work.


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