.: Hanbury Manor @ Marriott Country Club :.

As you probably have noticed, I’ve really enjoy spending a weekend in a Country Club. You will find mostly golfers or people attending a wedding there, but I really enjoy all the greenery and the peace and quiet. Our last weekend away was in Hanbury Manor by Marriott.

Photo from Marriott

Photo from Marriott

Loved the Oak Hall

Photo from Marriott

Photo from Marriott

The room was a classic Marriott style, nothing fancy but comfortable. Our room was similar to this one

Photo from Marriott

Photo from Marriott

As soon as I arrived to my room, had some chocolates waiting for me

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I’ve really enjoyed exploring the different rooms.

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We’ve ended up our afternoon with tea & G&T for him

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Next day we’ve spend a good part of the afternoon relaxing in the pool. For me it really felt amazing with my 7 months pregnancy

Photo from Marriott

Photo from Marriott

It really felt good to relax before baby arrival 🙂

.: Exploring Bibury :.

Bibury is one of those magical places in the Cotswolds that everyone should try to visit at least once. It feels like a travel back in time. It’s also considered one of the most charming villages in UK, and I can see why!

Photo from google

So it had been in my wishlist for a while. I had already visited a few other places in the Cotswolds (like Bourton on the water or the wildlife park), but not yet Bibury. So on our way from Wales back home, we had to stop over to explore it

First we’ve stopped at The Swan Hotel for lunch and we couldn’t resist a cottage pie. I love a good pie!

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Such a beautiful place isn’t it? Then our pie arrived. Really fresh vegetables and such a tasty and filling pie!

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After lunch we were ready for a walk in Bibury. Even if it was going to be a small walk (because the village itself is quite small), it was meant to be such a pleasant one

This place looks like out of a children’s fairy tale. Absolutely beautiful!

Have you been in Bibury before? What’s your favourite village in UK?

.: A weekend in Wales :.

One of the turning point for me this year was the last May long weekend. It was a weekend where I’ve decided: that’s it, I need to change! Up to that point I was feeling absolutely miserable at work and not taking into enough account my pregnancy. I was commuting around 01h30 each way, suffering from severe morning sickness (which curiously enough lasted until around this long weekend too) and hating what I was doing. I would never reach home before 20h30. He was going nuts with me and quite concerned about me and the baby.

He was more than right! This was the weekend where I’ve started meditation. We’ve both started together but he gave up on the same day saying he couldn’t do it, because he’s mind was always travelling a million places. I’ve been doing it daily ever since.

Maybe it was also the combination of the place where we were, as we were given our little house for the stay (you can read it all about it here), or the fact that I felt happy that we had our time together, but I felt inner change. We went for a few walks around the Brecon Beacons National Park. It’s a beautiful area that we still need to explore properly.

I didn’t took as many photos as usual, because I just wanted to enjoy it!

And a delicious chocolate I had bought on the national park. I’m not joking but this was sooooo good! (and the logo is so cute!) – You can check their page here.

We had lunch in a lovely pub, loved the decor!

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And went for another walk in the afternoon

We had to go to town to buy some shorts for him, as he managed to land on mud while trying to take some long exposures. Fortunately he was alright and he didn’t broke the camera (or my lenses!), but he was covered in mud. So we’ve cut our walk to do some shopping before returning back to the hotel for a walk around the area, meditation and a relaxing dinner.

Sometimes all we need is really to disconnect from the world and appreciate the little pleasures like walking together in the park!

.: A weekend away in a country club Wales :.

Is there anything better than a long weekend away? After my stressful week (year?) I was really looking forward to chill down and just relax.  I went to South Wales on this one, which I find is one of the best places in UK to slow down and relax surrounded by all the green scenery.  For instance I love Lake District a lot, but it just takes forever to get there, especially if we’re talking about a long weekend! I’m hoping to be back at some stage, in any random weekend to spend a few days there. South Wales is a much easier option as it’s just 2h15 from London (or 3h and a bit with the traffic on a long weekend).

The point of a weekend away tends to be to relax, and starting the weekend stuck in 6h queues isn’t a great start. Finally one that was far more relaxing! We’ve managed to reach the hotel for dinner at 08h!

The choice for the weekend was one of the Country Clubs from Marriott, St Pierre.

Photo from official website

I really like the Country Clubs because they tend to be spaces surrounded by lots of green. Is there anything better than wake up with the sound of birds and green around you? The staff at reception was really friendly and welcoming! They gave us a map of the area, which included a walk at the property and some recommendations for restaurants around.

We were allocated to one of the lakeside villas, next to the main hotel, in front of the lake and the golf course. Our building didn’t had a lakeside view, but there was a small garden, so it was ok

As you get into the house, you’ll see a small kitchen area, which would benefit from a little upgrade, but I wasn’t counting on having one, so didn’t bother me at all.

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We’ve ended up spending most of the time before going to bed here. This is where I was doing my meditation exercises too.

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Outside space… it was raining quite a lot when we arrived, but the rest of the weekend was really beautiful!

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Don’t ask me why I took a photo of the bathroom, but I did! Again would benefit for some modernisation but it was clean and functional so no complains here.

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The bed was one of the smallest I’ve seen in any Marriott. It was a normal size, it’s just I’m used to have huge beds (like 2m x 2m!)

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The main hotel area was quite a classic Marriot wise. Lots of dedicated rooms between the leisure area (which we’ve ended up not using) and the restaurants. I didn’t took any decent photos so will use the ones from the hotel

For dinner we’ve ended up going to the Zest Restaurant, as the main restaurant was already fully booked. I like the zest’s as they tend to be quite casual and relaxed (although I would advise you not to order the pizzas, I did that once, never again!)

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For my first dinner I’ve ordered the chicken lemon which was quite ok. On the 2nd night I’ve ordered the salmon salad which was a really good choice!

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with fruits for dessert

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The breakfast room (at the main restaurant) was quite busy, but the staff was really quick and efficient. We never had to wait long before our coffees would arrive. They also had poached eggs (which not all hotels have). My favourite option was the fruit!

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So overall it was quite a relaxing choice!

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Any country club you would recommend for a relaxing weekend away?

.: Welcome Spring & Natas :.

Finally spring is here, and with spring it was also the first Sunday I felt fine since the year started 😀 To celebrate we went to visit a special brand new place in Hammersmith: Cafe de Nata

You know I love a good Nata, it’s my favourite pastry from Portugal. I just can’t resist it, especially if they are warm and house made, like the ones below.

We arrived close to 11h30, and the shop was still closed as they were waiting for the Natas to come out of the oven. The smell was amazing! I couldn’t resist just having one, so we had 2 each, and extra 2 to bring home. As I’m not drinking coffee now, well just rarely here and there (ahhh so hard to resist) but he had the espresso and he said it was delicious. We were explained that they’ve decided to select their own mix of grains. So looking forward to come back and try it myself

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So welcome spring! I’m really excited for the months ahead, especially with my dream trip coming soon: Japan!!!

.: A Weekend away around Yorkshire – Country Club :.

During the Easter Break, and before our big trip to Japan, we’ve decided to go all the way north to Yorkshire, because it’s an area I’ve always wanted to explore but never really had the chance to. Unlike my recent trip to Wales, this was bound to be a painful journey. It started on my way from work. I left the office a bit before 15h, aiming to be at home before 16h, but the trains were cancelled so I was constantly checking on google maps on how to get home. It was raining cats and dogs too and traffic really bad, so even taking a taxi was no longer an option. I’ve made it eventually, at 16h20.

Then getting out of London took us more than 2h, stuck in traffic in the north circular road. (Long weekend + rain, worst combo in UK!) Absolutely terrible! To make matters worst I now need to make more regular breaks and can’t handle 4h in a row in the car or more as I’ve used to.

Same as last weekend, we’ve stayed in one of the Country Clubs from Marriott, Hollins Hall, which means a golf course, spa and lots of green around you. All you need to relax! We had to eat in one small service station at around 20h30, because we were no longer sure if we would reach the hotel on time. We’ve managed to arrive at around 22h30, so I was really tired. The friendly staff at the hotel was already waiting for me and made my check-in really stress free and as efficient as possible. Thank you guys! Couldn’t resist but to throw myself in bed and fall asleep. So this time I don’t have many photos

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Photos below are from the official website

The hotel is on top of a beautiful hill

Quite a bright reception

Main restaurant

The pool

The breakfast was the normal continental breakfast, but at least there were lots of fruits available. On Saturday evening we’ve managed to get a table booked for the main restaurant and I have to say I’ve really enjoyed my meal

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Mushroom risotto

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Really delicious cheesecake!

Quite a relaxing weekend even if it was a bumpy start! It felt amazing to wake up with the sound of birds and going for walks outside.

Btw happy children’s day! (In Portugal) Just notice it’s my last Children’s day, so going to celebrate and have ice cream 😀

.: Exploring the countryside – Norfolk :.

Back in July we’ve decided to explore Norfolk, because it’s an area we had never really explored.

We’ve stayed at one of the Marriott Country Club Houses. I’ve tried a few and I normally like them, as they tend to be located in quiet areas in the country. There were a lot of families there to enjoy the golf or just enjoy the area

They also had a nice pool, but we left our swimming suits at home, so we couldn’t use it. Not clever!

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It was actually the first in UK ever that I couldn’t sleep because it was too hot and there was no air conditioning. Who would ever say, but this year all summer was around July and this was precisely when we’ve decided to go away. We even had to use the air conditioning in the car. Shocking right? We can’t forget that summer is the best day of the year in UK.

We went for a walk in Norwich itself, which isn’t a big town but it’s quite a charming one. I didn’t took proper pictures because it was too hot to be outside.

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It was so hot we’ve decided to go for a lunch break. We’ve ended up going to Bill’s which is a chain I really like. The staff was really friendly.

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After lunch we went to the coast for a walk. I was hoping we could still do the seal watching, but the boats had gone in the morning, which means I need to come back and plan it properly.

 

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After Ice cream we’ve return to the hotel for dinner outdoors.

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I had the worst pizza ever, worst than the frozen ones we buy at the supermarket for £1, but this was not the main restaurant of the hotel. But I was keen on staying outdoors to enjoy the weather and the views. Dinner aside, we’ve ended up having fireworks (I can’t recall the reason), which were quite nice (10m of them).

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Next morning, the weather wasn’t that great anymore and the forecast was rain. Before heading back home, we’ve decided to explore a bit more the countryside but we’ve ended up getting lost. The landscape was quite beautiful though, but it felt that the cows were spying on us!

 

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So in the end it was a really lovely weekend away and I hope to be doing more of this in 2016 🙂

.: Cornwall & Devon :.

I’m really late with my photos. I guess this is what happens when you take so many! Trying to finish all of them so I can select the best ones for our 2015 book. We’ve agreed to select 30 photos each and print out a book. It’s going to be a though decision.

Anyway, back in May we’ve spent a long weekend away in Cornwall & Devon, just right after we moved houses.

We didn’t explore all we wanted to, because we only had 2 days really so we could return back home before all the madness of a long weekend.

Our hotel

There’s a lot of coast to explore, we probably need to go back to see everything properly. It’s just… it really takes ages to get there

One of the places we’ve had the chance to visit was Looe. Looe is quite a small town, but I have to say really charming, especially when the sun decided to show it’s grace.

You can see the differences between the 2 photos

We’ve decided to enjoy the hotel that afternoon. Next day, on our way back home we had a stop over in Brixham, which is very close to Torquay (english riviera)

One of the places I was really keen on visiting was the famous Durdle Door (which he insists on calling Dumbledore)

Expectation

The reality was it was too cloudy and cold!

How to get there

I would recommend a visit around Sunset after checking weather conditions.

.: A home away from home – Snowdania :.

We just had a really relaxing weekend in north Wales (Snowdania), which sounds funny to think of it considering it was also the storm weekend “Desmond” (more on BBC news). Even on Friday, at the beginning of the storm I could barely open the car to get out. It was mostly really windy and rainy. Non stop rain for the whole of Saturday, even this morning it was still raining. Yes I know it’s north Wales and it’s expected to rain, but not like this and not with such strong winds.

“If a place is beautiful on the rain, you know it’s just beautiful” So we’ve agreed that we’ll be back.

Why did we decided to go to North Wales?
Well, this time it was his idea. 99% of the time it’s really me deciding where to go and book everything, this time he had the idea and I did the rest. He wanted to go there because of the Evo Triangle. He loves driving, and Evo Triangle it’s classified as one of the best roads in the UK to drive. It’s pretty bumpy and curvy and he had indeed lots of fun driving it

For me, the main reason was the beauty of the countryside.

Where to stay?
Imagine waking up surrounded by a peaceful scenery, in a cosy farm house. That’s what I wanted as well. After my usual research I found this place “Plas Gwyn

Plas Gwyn bed & breakfast, Dolgellau, Snowdonia National Park from Plas Gwyn Bed & Breakfast on Vimeo.

Oh boy, I couldn’t be any happier. We had such an amazing stay! It was really easy to find this place, in the centre of Dolgellau. As soon as we arrived, after our trip to Evo Triangle, we were welcomed by a smiley Julie. She took us to our gorgeous room Miss Margarets & Miss Gladys room. She also explained us the area and recommend a few places for food and drink afterwards. And something really surprising to me: “at what time do you want to have breakfast?” Yes! That’s right, you have a choice! Which is something I had never seen before. We’ve decided 07h45 so we would have time to make most of the sunlight in the morning (well we were hoping for some, barely did we know that we would have none).

The house maintained all the classical features with modern touches. Every single detail aims to make you feel comfortable.

 

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The bed was really comfortable and cosy as a bed needs to be

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Modern features are always welcome!

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Such an adorable working space

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Oh I wish I had a fireplace place like this in my bedroom! I never had one in the house, but would love to.

One of my favourite areas in the room was the window and the lovely place around it:

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Could wake up to have a view like this every day

 

 

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Look at this china, so beautiful!!!! I couldn’t resist to have a tea and just sit in this space watching the window before going out again. Notice the little package next to the tea? That’s handmade by Jan . It looks and taste like a small fluffy scone, and it was so delicious! Loved the detail of having a plastic bag with the hotel logo on it.

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Books below the window, isn’t this perfect? Could imagine myself sitting next to the window just reading a book for hours.

The bathroom was really lovely as well, I fell in love with the shower. If I ever have my house again I want a shower like this, in stone. Love it!

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This is the perfect country house, it really is! Breakfast next morning was really delicious as well. They’ve offered us a few options from just toast and eggs, to a cooked breakfast with fresh ingredients.

And ahhhh, the wifi was really good. Better than most hotels I normally stay which considering we were in the countryside was a surprise.

He spent the whole weekend saying: “I feel so relaxed” and I felt exactly the same. It was rainy, stormy, as miserable as weather can be, but yet we’ve managed to make most of it. Thank you to Julie & Jan for making this weekend home away from home 🙂

.: Kew Christmas Lights :.

Why did I wait so long?
I know about Kew Christmas lights ever since I moved to this area, and that was 4 years ago. Yap 4 years waiting to go! I guess the best tip is don’t leave it to the end. The weather in December and January tends to be quite rubbish so the best is to go at the beginning. This was the first weekend of the Kew Christmas Lights and finally I’ve booked tickets in advance.

My photos are a bit rubbish because I didn’t took the tripod with me. His photos will be a lot better because he was clever whereas I was the lazy one. But regardless of the quality of my photos

The fire garden was one of my favourite. Just looking into the fire and watching the flames was so relaxing and warm!

I totally recommend you to go there. Loads better than the overrated Christmas wonderland. There are not many market stalls, but they are spread along the gardens in case you need a hot chocolate to keep you going. I also had a hot dog before returning back home and it was quite tasty.

The night trail is available until 2nd of January, for more information visit the Kew Gardens website.

Have you been at Kew Christmas Lights before? What’s your favourite Christmas Market in UK? (Oh yeah, to me nothing beats the german christmas markets)