I’m sure most of us are familiar with the feeling of getting back from holiday, checking out bank account and having to do a double or triple take at the figure in front of our eyes. I visited The Lake District back in 2015 and splashed away hundreds and hundreds of pounds on top of the price of the cottage and found myself frantically ringing my Mum one day when we were out exploring because neither of us had our bank cards and I looked in my purse and had no money for petrol! It was either embarrassingly ring my Mum and ask her to save me or be stranded in the middle of The Lake District. I can handle a bit of embarrassment!
You might look at me and think I don’t look like the sort of person who is interested in steam trains. And you’d be 100% correct – I’m not. But last year, I enjoyed my weekend on the Severn Valley Railway during their Autumn Steam Gala in September so much that I knew I wanted to go again this year, for their Spring weekend. Spring it was not as we were inundated with snow and icy temperatures for two of the days but it was a lovely weekend nevertheless. Although the engines are pretty impressive and yes, you feel like you’re on the Hogwarts express, I just think it’s a really nice, relaxing weekend and a chance to get away from the norm.
I’ve been really enjoying writing more personal posts recently and it’s something I want to continue to incorporate into my blog. I wrote about my smear test, what I got my mum for her birthday and about my birthday day out at Paradise Wildlife Park. I like injecting a bit of my personal life into my blog because I love reading those types of posts too! So today, I want to tell you about a trip away I had in September to the Severn Valley Railway! It was a new experience for me but one that I really enjoyed.
First of all, it was a spur of the moment decision to go. My boyfriend’s grandparents were supposed to be going but didn’t so there was some spare space so I decided why the heck not! We drove to Bridgnorth from Lincolnshire on Thursday morning for the beginning of the Autumn Steam Gala, which runs along the line from Bridgnorth to Kidderminster and uses various different steam engines – some of which are over 100 years old. I’ve never actually been on a steam train before myself but I quickly found out that they’re really quite nice – a lot like the Hogwarts Express and the scenery along the route is to die for.
Bridgnorth to Kidderminster takes roughly an hour and a quarter on the train so it really was a slow, relaxing holiday. Plenty of time to listen to music, read, chat, think and just look out of the window at the lovely scenery. You’d think it would be boring, spending the majority of 4 days on and off of trains but it really wasn’t, there is so much to look at and so many people to meet that it’s impossible to get bored. The stop off times vary and you can always get off at each individual station and have a look around. They’re super cute and quaint, most of which had little book sales (which I took advantage of) and were plastered with old school advertising posters as they would have been back in the day.
We stopped for dinner each night, my favourite being a pub meal at The Ship Inn and my burger and chips was to die for. The trains also ran throughout the entire night on Friday and Saturday so I stayed on well until it got dark (and until I got too tired) and it’s a whole different experience, being on the trains in the dark. It’s really eerie but I loved it. My boyfriend’s family have taken these holidays his whole life but this was my first one and not something I ever thought I would enjoy. But even if you’re not that interested in trains (like me), it’s definitely not all about that.
Have you ever been on the Severn Valley Railway? Would you like to go? Where’s your favourite staycation destination?
Having been on a boating holiday a whopping 2 whole times now, I feel qualified to call myself an expert on all things boating (I’m not). For the past 2 years, my boyfriend and I have taken our holiday with Barnes Brinkcraft, a boat hire company in the Norfolk Broads and spent just short of a week chugging up and down the broads on rivers of all shapes and sizes, encountering an array of wildlife and living a very restricted and self-sufficient life in the confines of a small boat. I’m a huge fan of the staycation but don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you’re not leaving the country, your holiday is going to come and go problem free. It won’t.
I’m a big fan of holidays in the UK aka. a staycation. The UK is beautiful with so many wonderful places to explore, like Snowdonia National Park and The Lake District. My latest adventure was to Norfolk, on a boating holiday to the Norfolk Broads. I’ve had a weekend away in Great Yarmouth before but never had the chance to see the Broads, so here’s my account of my holiday to Norfolk, where boating is the only way to travel!
If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that at the beginning of April I was away on holiday in the Norfolk Broads on my first ever boating holiday! I had an utterly amazing time – the Broads are beautiful – and I wanted to do a small series of posts about the experience, starting with a review of Barnes Brinkcraft, the company we used for the boat hire.
I was absolutely thrilled to be tagged in this Disneyland Paris tag by the gorgeous Danielle from Underland to Wonderland. It’s no secret that I’m a die-hard Disney fan; I could surround myself with Disney every day and never get bored. I’ve been to Disneyland Paris 3 times in my life and I truly think it’s the happiest place on Earth. My heart swells up whenever I think about it! So… On with the tag! Continue reading
I don’t usually steer off course this much and do travel posts but I thought it might make a nice change from talking about books 24/7! In March my boyfriend Conor and I went away to Wales for a long weekend, neither of us had been before and we stayed in a beautiful little cottage in the middle of the mountains in Snowdonia. We visited a few different places and I took tons of photos which I’d love to share with you all. After a extremely long 5 hour drive, a couple of stops and a few wrong turns we finally made it to our cottage and I was stunned by the view right outside our front door.
Can the imperfect family really have the perfect Christmas?
Juliet Joyce adores Christmas. She loves the presents, the tree, the turkey, the tinsel.. just everything! Already the festive spirit is upon her, which is just as well as this Christmas things are starting to get a little out of hand. Her son, Tom is out of work and bringing home a slew of unsuitable partners; pregnant daughter Chloe and her little boy have moved back in; Juliet’s father, Frank, is getting over a heartbreak of his own and Rita, her eccentric mother, is behaving more erratically each day. And has the chaos got too much for Juliet’s husband, Rick?
With the big day fast approaching, Juliet hopes that she can stop everything spiralling out of control, because the only thing she wants is her family all around her and her home to be filled with love at Christmas.
Now this book was an absolute joy to read. Despite the fact that I probably read it at the most inappropriate time of the year (slap bang in the middle of summer..) it 100% dragged me into the Christmas spirit and left me wishing that winter and Christmas would just hurry up! This story is about a delightful woman called Juliet who adores every aspect of Christmas. She wants the decorations to look perfect, the food to be wonderful but what she wants most of all is for her whole family to enjoy the big day. However, with a family like Juliet’s, that proves harder than it seems. This was such a laid-back, easy-going book I quite easily read more than half the book in one day and not only that, it was incredibly entertaining and left me laughing out loud on more than one occasion. I think what made this book such a success was that it was so relatable. It’s mostly written from Juliet’s point of view so you learn to appreciate how difficult it is being a wife, mother, grandmother and a carer all in one. Throughout the book, she faces a series of very real problems along the way, ones which the majority of us will probably have to deal with at some point or another. From a mother with advancing Alzheimer’s to the passing of a loved one and her son’s unemployment and string of unsuitable partners. Juliet faces them all with such grace and dignity (apart from spraining her ankle in an attempt to ravish her husband), which I think makes her an inspiring and perfect main character.
Some of the ridiculous scenarios Juliet and her family find themselves in did make me wonder if some of it is based on true stories, which is something I’d love to ask the author about if I ever got the chance. Every family has their moments, but you would need some imagination (or own experience) to come up with some of the situations that occur during the book. This book really does tug at emotions you never knew you had and I’m not afraid to admit that it brought a tear to my eye at times. Everything’s just so much sadder when it happens at Christmas, don’t you think? The characters and their personalities are described so well you really begin to get a feel of what it’s like living with these people, some more pleasant than others. Each character has their own story and problems in their life and they were all described very well, which I liked, with Juliet being the centre of it all. With her kind-nature and her ability to always find the best in people, it’s no wonder her entire family (plus a few who are not) always come to her for help, guidance and assistance. The chapters are all very short as well so it’s very easy to get lost and just keep reading.
This is a very warm, feel-good story full of fun, happiness, festive spirit and the occasional tear. Carole (and Juliet) also manage to teach you a few valuable life lessons along the way, the main one being to never forget how important family is. Especially at Christmas. If you haven’t already, I would definitely recommend picking up a copy in time to read for Christmas! Seeing the world through the eyes of Juliet, you begin to feel like a part of their family and by the end of the book I genuinely missed the shenanigans of the dysfunctional yet loving Joyce family.
I didn’t know this but the Joyce’s feature in another of Carole Matthew’s books called, ‘The Loving Feeling’ so I’m quite relieved that I can visit them again in what will no doubt be another fun-filled read.