Is travel burnout actually a thing?

Black skinny jeans: Matalan (similar)
Black tunic: ASOS (Similar)
Checked blazer: Miss Pap*
Adidas trainers: JD Williams*
Red leather backpack: Michael Kors (similar)

Even just writing the title of this blog post has made me cringe a little bit. It's a bit of a tragic first world problem isn't it? I realise how incredibly lucky I am to have had the opportunity to see much of the world that I ever thought was possible whilst I growing up. Not every one can have the privilege of travelling and I completely understand that. It took me to about the age of 24 when I went to Berlin to realise that people like me could travel and see anywhere in they world they wanted too. No where was really out of bounds, I just had to save up and work hard to make it a reality. Since then I feel like I'm been eager to squeeze in any many countries, cities and towns as I possible can just in case I can't manage to see everything I want to.

This year I will have taken seven flights by the time 2019 rolls around. I never thought I'd say this but I feel like it was too much. I feel like I've hardly spent any time at home and my year has been spent living out of a suitcase. Seeing the world is such a beautiful thing but it can be exhausting. Constantly getting used to new cities, never really having a base for more than a few days, unable to settle into a routine and constantly feeling like you have to be 'on form' to make sure you make the most of your surroundings. I feel like I'm neither coming and going. I've been so incredibly busy that I feel like I'm on the verge of a burn out. It's no longer enjoyable.

Admittedly next year I do have two big trips to take and I'm so excited to tick Malaysia and Las Vegas off my bucket list. I still can't quite believe I'm going! But after April I'm going to take a step back. Take things a bit slowly and enjoy my home I've made with my boyfriend. I want to spend a lot more time within these four walls and spend my weekends in my home town. Not words I ever imagined I would ever say! I've always been so keen to leave it behind... Here's too having friends round for wine and cheese, spending evenings wrapped up in a blanket watching Netflix on the sofa and experimenting in the kitchen with my collection of cookbooks.


Exploring Ireland: Giant's Causeway, Bushmills, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

The UNESCO world heritage site of the Giant's Causeway has been named the fourth greatest natural wonder in the U.K.  It's been on my list for years to visit and despite venturing over to Ireland quite a few times I'd never quite made it. We usually visit my boyfriends family and other things always seem to get seen first. Plus there's just so much beauty in this part of the world that it's so difficult to know what should be your first priority! However, this time I knew I had to finally make it as Hannah's house was a mere walk away so there was no excuse. 

They say the 40,000 interlocking basalt columns are the result of an ancient volcanic explosion. But really the columns were actually built by a giant... Irish giant Fionn MacCool was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Bonandonner. Having bravely accepted the challenge, Fionn started building a causeway across the North Channel so they could both meet for a fight. But Fionn starts to panic when he realises just how much bigger Bonandonner is than him so his wife Ooonagh disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him into a cradle. When Bonandonner sees the size of the "baby" he reckons his father must be absolutely huge so he flees back to Scotland, destroying the causeway so that he can't be followed.

Despite the insane crowds, the Causeway is such a peaceful place. There's just something about being with Mother Nature, seeing all the beauty and hearing the waves crashing against the rocks. It's such a beautiful place. Ireland really does know how to blow you away. I could have spent hours mesmerised by the Atlantic Ocean but alas we had a schedule to keep too. 

I'd recommend visiting as early as you can to avoid the crowds. You do have to pay around £13 to visit the visitors centre and park in the car park but actually entry to the Causeway is free.


Exploring Ireland: Kinbane Castle, Ballycastle, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

Kinbane Castle is one of those places that you can't quite believe is true. I really had no idea what to expect as I'd never heard of it but as soon as I clapped eyes on it, it blew me away.

Located in Country Antrim, the ruins of Kinbane are perched high on a white limestone cliff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. Across the horizon you'll spy Rathlin Island and you'll be only 5km from Ballycastle. The original two-storey castle was built in 1547 by Colla MacDonell but was besieged by English forces in 1551. After being passed to Owen MacAllister as a reward for his loyalty to the MacDonell family, the castle remained with descendants of the MacAllister's until the 18th Century.

There's  no easy way to see Kinbane and you'll have to be prepared for a lot of treacherous walking. Up and down 1000 steps to be exact. But it is 100% worth it and I'd do it thousand times over. You'll find a car park at the top of the hill when you can leave your car. Make sure you take a bottle of water with you. There are no handrails surrounding the top of the cliffs so you have to be extremely careful. It's certainly not a place to go when it is windy. But if you keep your wits about you then you'll be rewarded with some insane views. I really couldn't stop taking photos! 

At the minute it seems to be a bit of a hidden gem because we hardly saw any other people. I'm not sure it will stay like this for long because tourism in Northern Ireland is quickly gathering momentum. Such a double edge sword. Amazing because Northern Ireland is honestly one of the most beautiful places in the world. But sad because it's losing some of it's magic due to the insane crowds. It doesn't have the infrastructure to deal with it. I feel it's a place to visit sooner rather than later. I'd love to go back one summer with a picnic and spend the whole day up on those cliffs. I honestly don't think I've ever felt as peaceful as I did in those few hours I spent at Kinbane Castle. Such a magical place.


Where to eat along the Causeway Coastal Route

Lost & Found, Coleraine
I'm still shocked we managed to find such a cool place in Coleraine of all places! Coleraine reminds me of my Essex hometown and we have nothing as snazzy as this! This little cafe is well worth coming a bit out of your way for. Serving brunch from 9.30-3.30, everything on the menu sounds so delicious. After much deliberation I decided to opt for L&F Italian Eggs. Crispy Parma ham, lashings of pesto, fresh rocket and two poached eggs were piled high onto top of sourdough toast. The eggs weren't as runny as I would have hoped but it was still great.

Mini Maegden, The Giant's Causeway
Head to a little car park just a stones trow away from The Giant's Causeway, Mini Maegden is a little retro caravan converted into the best cheese toastie food truck. It was absolutely packed and for good reason! I opted for the cheddar, blue cheese and mozzarella toastie with an added extra of chorizo. All washed down with a refreshing homemade watermelon and rose soda. The toastie was perfectly gooey, so full of flavour and had a delicious crunch. I'm so pleased my boyfriend has family not too far from it so I can visit again!

Maud's Ice Cream, Ballycastle
Right next to Ballycastle Harbour is Maud's Ice Cream. You'll be spoilt for choice for both the cones and the ice cream. I decided to treat myself to a waffle cone dipped in chocolate and sprinkles with a scoop of sea salted caramel and a scoop of honeycomb and vanilla. It was so tasty and the perfect treat to have overlooking the beach.

The Copper Kettle, Bushmills
One of my favourite things about visiting Ireland is the opportunity to indulge in a heavenly Ulster Fry. They're version of a fry up, it usually comes with soda bread and potato bread. It is one of my favourite things in the world! Sadly The Copper Kettle doesn't offer black pudding but you can't win them all! It's a great little cafe to stop off at to start your day off right before you head over to the Giant's Causeway nearby.

Harry's Shack, Portstewart
I had a table booked here last January but cancelled it at the last minute as another branch of the restaurant had just opened in Derry where we were staying. So I've waiting a long time to eat here! It was well worth the wait. Located on the beautiful Portstewart Strand beach, the wooden shack has such a great atmosphere. We went on an evening where they had loud music outside and it looked buzzing. Their selection of Irish gin is incredible and I'd love to go back to sample them all! I had a generous portion of spicy chicken to start with such a moreish sauce and the fish and chips for my main. Just what I needed after a day of rain!

Roark's Kitchen, Ballintoy
One thing you'll notice on your road trip is there will always be somewhere to stop for a slab of cake Roark's Kitchen is right in the heart of Ballintoy Harbour and offers incredible views. This giant slice of red velvet cake was only £2.50! And you always have to have a bottle of Club Orange when in Ireland...

Pablos, Belfast
If you're looking for a quick bite to eat then Pablos is your man! This burger joint only has a couple of tables outside to sit down so you may have to opt for a takeaway. The spicy freedom fries were heavenly and I could have eaten them all day long. The patty in my cheese burger was a little too fat for my liking but it was cooked well. They certainly didn't scrimp on the fillings which is always nice.


Exploring Ireland: Glenariff Forest Park, Ballymena, County Antrim, Northern Ireland

I feel like I've explored a lot of Northern Ireland, especially the stretch between Belfast and Derry but Glenariff had slipped under the radar. Based in the north of Country Antrim, the glens are a series of nine narrow valleys. Glenariff is 'the queen of the Glens' and the most famous. Most people head to Glenariff to do the Waterfall Walkway. And this is why you should add to the top of your list if you visit Northern Ireland.

The three-mile waterfall walkway first opened up 80 years ago. I am relatively unfit so did struggle a fair bit and had to take a few breathers every once in a while. Make sure you wear suitable clothing and shoes. It's not the place for a fashion show! But it is so rewarding and you soon forget you're out of breath when you're greeted with such stunning views. I will never tire of seeing a waterfall up close. There's just something so magical about seeing them as the mist floats up and the sound of crashing water fills your ears. You can tell how misty it was by the photos! I almost feel like I'm in a completely different land.

Glenariff offers a casual cafe, an outside picnic area and a more fancy restaurant as well as pretty clean inside toilets. A god send during a waterfall trek with all that gushing water! You could spend the whole day there without getting bored, with lots of trails to be explored. I'd recommend the short Rainbow Trail too. Parking is a fiver but make sure you have change on you as I'm not sure the machines take card.

The caravan and camping site is open from Easter to October. Definitely something I'd like to take advantage of!


A bank holiday weekend in Ireland

Ever since I was a little girl I've had a fascination with Ireland. I couldn't tell you why as I have zero Irish heritage and I don't even think my parents have ever stepped foot on the Emerald Isle. I once declared to my mum that I was going to have an Irish husband. I don't know how the obsessession started but I just knew it was going to be a country that I would love before I even had a chance to visit. I totally didn't only start talking to my boyfriend when I realised his very Irish name is due to the fact his dad is Irish... Now thanks to his Irish heritage I've been across the water quite a few times now and it really is one of my happy places. A place where I can never grow tired of visiting.  As soon as I see those rolling green hills I feel all my troubles just melt away.

My friend Hannah is also Northern Irish and her parents have a holiday home along the Causeway Coast. They very kindly let us gatecrash for the bank holiday weekend. And it was glorious! Along with Sarah and Michelle, we based ourselves just outside Bushmills for a weekend of exploring the Causeway Coast which has to be one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world.

I'm going to go into more details on my favourites parts in other posts so this is just an overview. We crammed a hell of a lot into a weekend! So where did we visit? No trip to this part of the world is complete without witnessing the wonder of the Giant's Causeway. It really is stunning. We saw lots of castle ruins, Kinbane Castle, Carrickfergus Castle and Dunluce castle spring to mind. We spent the afternoon in Belfast eating burgers and exploring the Botanic Gardens and seeing the Game of thrones tapestry at the Ulster Museum. We stopped for a delicious red velvet slab of cake at Ballintoy Harbour and had a tasty ice cream in Ballycastle. We went on a pretty special hike in Glenariff Forest Park to see some amazing waterfalls. And we made sure we stuffed ourselves silly on Taytos. If you don't know what they are then you are missing out!

I had such an incredible weekend away with some of the best girls I know. It's so nice to spend a weekend with people on the same wavelength as me - and are just as little piggies as me! Surround yourself with girls who see cake stops as vital stops on a road trip. I'm actually back in Belfast again in two weeks to see Biffy Clyro so I'll see you soon Ireland!


6 attractions you must see in New York City

1. Empire State Building
I've been lucky enough to go up the Empire State Building twice now and each time I've been just as awestruck. Seeing the NYC skyline never grows old and it feels like you're in a film. I dare you not to hum Empire State of Mind whilst you're there... I recommend going up during the day as it's fantastic to see the city in all its glory. Buy your tickets online before you go as you get a small discount. Every little helps when you're in one of the most expensive cities in the world.

2. The Highline
This is my favourite place in the city. The Highline is an old railway line converted into an evelated park. Nearly two miles long, it offers great views of Manhattan and you'll find fab street art to marvel at and places to sit and soak up views. Make sure you go for brunch or dinner at Bubby's which is at the entrance in the Meatpacking District.

3. Statue of Liberty
Ah the icon of the city. The first time we booked ourselves on a boat with a tour guide to travel over to the the island with tickets to go inside the statue. This was great fun if a little busy! It was equally as good for when we saw it from our sightseeing ferry trip. You really don't have to get off to enjoy it. If you're on a budget then the orange Staten Island ferry is a good shout because it's free. You won't be able to get off the ferry at the statue but you do get an amazing view of it from the boat.

4. Central Park
I highly recommend cycling around this iconic park. It is absolutely huge and cycling is the best way to cover some serious ground. Bike hire is pretty reasonable and we had them for the entire day. There are clear cycle lanes and it couldn't be easier. Make sure you make a stop off at the Alice in Wonderland statue, Strawberry Fields and Belevdere Castle. If cycling seems to strenuous then hire a rickshaw for a guided tour. The guides are very knowledgable! My mum and I got to visit in the snow and it was magical. Freezing but absolutely magical! Such a dream to see NYC in the snow.

5.  Brooklyn Bridge
Is there a more famous bridge in the world? It gets extremely busy but if you time it just right then it get it all to yourself. We spent the morning in Brooklyn before walking across the bridge in the afternoon to get back to Manhattan. It's one of those places that makes you feel like you're in a film and can't quite believe that it's real.

6. Ground Zero
If you're debating about if you should visit the 9/11 Museum and Memorial, then add it to your list. Yes its hard to witness but its such an important part of history and triggered so many things. It triggered events that we're still dealing with today. its absolutely wonderfully curated and is a really heart-wrenching experience that shouldn't be missed.


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