Tuesday, 21 March 2017

10 tips for your Santorini trip!

Is Santorini on your to do list?

I can't believe it was almost a year ago that we landed on the beautiful island and it is a holiday we reminisce on often. The views. The heat. The beauty.

A while back we did a post on where to stay in Santorini, you can check it out here.

This time around here are a few key points for visiting the island:

1) The buses are amazing. The island isn't big but it is hilly so walking isn't always your best option. The buses cost €1.80 per person per journey. The routes are clearly stated on the front of the bus and a bus conductor is available at every main station to make sure you get on the right one. You pay on the bus and receive a ticket. Buses either go east to west of north to south. Fira / Thera is the main terminal where you can get buses that go in all directions.

2) The streets are cobbled and there are a lot of stairs. The reason I mention this is tottering around in heels may be the way from some talented folks but unless you want to spend the whole time looking down or holding on to someone for support stick to flats.

3) Try the hike between Fira / Thera and Oia with a pit-stop in Imerovigli. The path isn't always flat or in tact but it is a fairly obvious route that follows the edge of the caldera and allows you to take in some spectacular views. We would recommend starting fairly early so you aren't doing most of the walk in the heat of the day.

4) If you hire a quad bike (as most people including us did) make sure you take a credit card as only a few places will let you hire without one. A day or two's worth of hire will give you plenty of time to explore the island.

5) Check out what Airbnb has to offer for accommodation. We did and got a great deal on a flat with an amazing view. Sadly no swimming pool but a few dips in the sea meant it wasn't a downside for us. Plus you can find hotels that let you use their pool if you are buying drinks there. Win win!

6) I have mentioned this in previous posts but check out Instagram, there are plenty of suggestions for things to see and amazing views if you look at the Santorini tag

7) Thinking of a sunset dinner at Oia?! We'd recommend it although here's a few things to consider
  • Book ahead 
  • Say it is for an occasion - they may give you a better view
  • Check when sunset will actually be, get there with enough time to enjoy but not too early you have spend a fortunate on drinks to sit a the table
  • Check out TripAdvisor for others recommendations
  • We dined at Pelekanos

8) One thing we would say you wouldn't need to book ahead is the tours. If you have a rough idea if what you want to do head to a booking/ tour office. We found the one in Fira/Thera square really reasonably priced and with plenty of times available for the boat tours and day trips. The trips we checked out online would have been more expensive.

9) One trip we recommend is the boat trip to the Volcano and hot springs where you can swim in warm water - just don't wear white as the volcanic mud will turn you a kind of orange. Oh and take comfortable shoes and water for the Volcano, while the hike doesn't look that steep the ground is hot and there is no shade. The boat trip is amazing as it gives you a great view of the island from a new perspective. Take flip flops for the boat and trainers for the walk. And wear sunscreen!
View from the boat and in the hot springs
The volcano, on the volcano and the view from the volcano
10) Try the gyros they are delicious and usually cheap and filling. Or a Greek Big Mac - so good! Not sure how to say gyro here's some here some advice:

Safe Travels

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Thinking of getting a dog?

It's no secret that we may be a little be in love with our Cockapoo Bisbee and it's clear the longer we have her just what a great decision we made.

Not only do we love being dog owners but owning a dog has opened up our world. Not only have we made new friends but we have also discovered new places. We think far more about staycations than we ever did before and a main reason for that is to holiday with the pup.

Our Isle of Skye road trip, recent trip to Stonehenge, Sheffield Elephant Hunt, Stratford-upon Avon,  Lumiere London and all recent prides are just a few of the places Bisbee has been. On top of that the Cockapoo games and other dog walk meet ups mean that our calendars are busier than ever before.

We didn't choose a Cockapoo just because they were cute though. But that is an added benefit. We actually spent quite a bit of time researching into dog breeds and attributes and checking that our lifestyle would meet their needs.

I had the requirement of floppy ears and Laura had the requirement that it looked like a proper dog. We both got our wish.
Well a 'proper' dog of sorts :) 

Our other areas of consideration were:
  • Amount of time they needed to be walked: over 2 hours a day wouldn't be possible
  • Size: our house couldn't fit a big dog so smaller would be better
  • Shedding: I have eczema and while i'm not allergic to dogs we thought it best to go for a low level malter or one that doesn't malt at all
  • Can it be left at home alone or is it anxious breed
In our decision making process we Googled tons and found a flow chart that asked us a series of simple questions with the output being suggestions of the types of breeds that could work for us. Cocker Spaniel and Poodle featured on quite a few of our results. 

We were recently sent a similar flow chart from Puppy Spot and wanted to share:

On this one we actually got The Easy Going Playmate. Golden Retriever would have been my pick from the ones suggested.

PuppySpot (for those in the USA) is a service to match families or individuals with breeders. The company have created a network of support that celebrates dogs for how amazing they are. If you are interested you can check out available puppies by clicking here.

We can't recommend getting a dog highly enough but it is a big responsibility. We are lucky that Bisbee is happy to travel anywhere with us, be left in the car (if we need to pop in somewhere), or at home. She's happy staying with family, friends and dog sitters. Other that really big dogs she's also happy to socialise but best of all she is incredibly loving.

What did you get in the flow chart?

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Review: Stonehenge & Glastonbury, UK

Happy Tuesday!

Well hopefully it's happy Tuesday in your world. I am feeling the pain after returning to yoga last night, while it felt good to be back my legs are currently feeling the burn. Ah well what's a little pain in the pursuit of health and well being.

My legs may also be suffering from the weekend, over a two day period Laura and I managed to cover almost 10 miles thanks to:

  • Good company
  • 2 energetic dogs
  • Plenty to see

The plenty to see fell into three main areas - Stonehenge, Glastonbury and Glastonbury Tor.

The energetic dogs were these two cuties:

And the company was in the form of these two lovely ladies:

We arrived at Charlotte and Hannah's (you may know them as Adventuresof2girlsinlove on Instagram). They live in a place called Frome which is in Somerset at the eastern end of the Mendip Hills and just over 100 miles and 2 hours from Birmingham.

Frome was a perfect base for our Saturday excursion to Stonehenge. For those who haven't heard of it Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument and one of the wonders of the world. It is a collection of large stones placed by Neolithic ancestors with a history of some 4,500 years. The henge part refers to the circular earth rim with an internal ditch - usually for ritual purposes it would have contained a monument).

There are tons of theories as to how the stones arrived at the location, how and why they were set out in a circle and what it would have meant at the time of creation. Nowadays it is a spiritual place and source of inspirations according to the website: here

Depending on the type of experience you want you can pay the £17.10 day rate to enter the exhibition centre that includes interactive exhibits, talks on Neolithic Man and see artifacts found in the area oh and enjoy a bus ride to and from Stonehenge or you can park in a country lane nearby and do a walk by. We did the latter.

Partly because we had the dogs and it is a beautiful part of the country to walk them in and partly because I had read a ton online about the history and was therefore content to just see and admire them from a distance.

The advice that Stonehenge is smaller than you think is worth noting. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting but when stone a small distance away the stones are imposing but not massive.

Wrangling the puppies at King Barrow
The area surrounding Stonehenge is beautiful. With rolling fields you can walk quite some distance and still have great view of the monument. In addition if you walk the right way you will discover ancient burial mounds at King Barrow Ridge and Stonehenge avenue - an ancient avenue used to get to Stonehenge.

Our walk from Stonehenge to King Barrow Ridge took almost an hour and a half but the view was well worth it. It also meant we started our walk back towards Stonehenge as the sun was setting providing some beautiful lighting.

After our day of walking our evening was spent in Bath. I love Bath. Steeped in history and with stunning buildings everywhere it would be on my must do list if you are ever in the area. If time permits do the baths, if time doesn't wander the streets and soak in the atmosphere.

From Stonehenge we drove to the Longleat estate gardens. A short walk from the car park via woodland brings you out to a garden of sculptures to commemorate the millennium. For those brave or foolish there is also a rope swing allowing you to really get a great view over Longleat Safari park and the grounds.

Sunday was our Glastonbury day. An early-ish start had meant we got to Glastonbury Tor before it got too busy. The hill is on the outskirts of Glastonbury and at the top is St Michael's Tower. You can start the walk from the village itself  (full walk details here) just save yourself for the ascent. Thankfully there is a staircase but it's steep.

The Tor is something to behold. It stands out from the surrounding countryside as it's hard clay centre has stood the test of time while the area has eroded away. History notes the Tor as a safe haven when the lower areas flooded and a place where food was grown. Today it is an amazing spot to view the surrounded area. On a clear day you can see three counties from the top and if you plan ahead it isn't a bad spot for a picnic.

We didn't stop for too long though as we planned to get lunch in Glastonbury. Most famous for a festival that actually happens in a place just outside of actual Glastonbury this town is a strange collection of shops and cafes with people wandering around dressed as fairies and elf's. If you have been to Nimbin in Australia it's just like that. Some describe it as a new age community or pagan community others describe it as slightly odd place. I'd say it's worth a wander through but as i'm not big into crystals, angels and fairies I wasn't tempted into the shops. Unfortunately with a dog in tow there weren't too many options for lunch unless we wanted to sit outside so we drove to a nearby pub.

Before leaving we did briefly check out Glastonbury Abbey though and had there been more time we may have gone in (full details are here)

Two days did not seem long enough and had we had more time i'm sure this post would be triple the length. We couldn't recommend making a weekend trip to the region highly enough we had a great time and we got to see a wonder of the world oh and walk 10 miles :)

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

What We love Wednesdays: International Women's Day

What we Love Wednesdays is being brought back for today. If you have followed us since the start you'll know that we used to do a weekly segment on stuff we loved from Diet Coke and Nando's to Strong Women. As life got busier the segment stopped but as International Women's Day falls on a Wednesday this year it makes sense that we combine the two.

I woke up today and scrolled through my social media and as always on this day there is a mix of pro-women posts. It's nice to see. However i'm also not entirely sure that the sole point of women's day is to big up women. It is absolutely part of it but International Women's Day is/has historically been about highlighting the plight of women.

International Women's Day commemorates the struggle for women's rights. That struggle continues today.

In fact this lady says it best;
"The story of women's struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights," says world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist Gloria Steinem. Thus International Women's Day is all about unity, celebration, reflection, advocacy and action - whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women's Day has been occurring for well over a century - and continue's to grow from strength to strength.

If you want to read the history of International Women's Day check out the website here.

In our world that is about addressing the pay gap, in the third world that is about women having the right to an education or to work. The struggle today has moved on for some of us but it is not over.

In the last week this Polish MEP has been in the news for stating women should earn less and while the media has reacted in horror the truth is we do earn less. We may not earn less for the reasons he states but we earn less and that is because historically that has been seen as fair.

So yes it is important to march, to post on social media and to highlight International Women's Day. While celebrating women's strength, courage, drive, successes, inspiration and abilities lets also call attention to the fact that as women we collectively need to ensure in our homes, in our work places and in our communities we are seen as equal. That is the battle that is still not over.

You only need to look at the current White House to see what a group of men can do to the world. It's not good.While Canada boasts a 50/50 split in the highest positions almost every photo of Trump has him surrounded by white men and progress has halted making America a concern rather than a leading nation.

In America they are having a 'day without women' and those who can't take time out of work are wearing red in support. The point is for women to come together to show the difference we make.
Q: What is the goal of A Day Without a Woman?
A: The goal is to highlight the economic power and significance that women have in the US and global economies, while calling attention to the economic injustices women and gender nonconforming people continue to face.  We play an indispensable role in the daily functions of life in all of society, through paid & unpaid, seen & unseen labor.

The whole article can be found at: https://www.womensmarch.com/march-8th-faq/

The Hidden Figures film (if you haven't see it - do) also went a long way to uncovering how the successes of women are often overlooked. When you think of the Space Race you think of the astronauts you don't think of the men and women who did the work to get them to space. In fact you may have thought only of the men because when I think of NASA I think of men. It was never highlighted that the leading mathematician who solved the most important equation was a woman,

In fact when I think of most firsts or greatest moments, for elite sports, for esteemed people I think of men.

In 2012 women overtook men's IQ scores for the first time ever and women leaders are becoming more common so times are changing. That is why it is important that as women we don't give up now.  I mean look how close Hillary got but where is the next women president candidate?! Not because I think it should be a woman but because I think women should be competing.

This morning work day started with a Skype group started by one of my team members stating what International Women's Day means to her and why she was proud to work with such wonderful women. As the day has continued other ladies I work with have contributed their thoughts. It is a wonderful reminder that women can really be each others greatest support. In my company our board of directors is split 50/50 men and women and I believe it is part of the reason for our success. Laura's company is led by a woman - you could say in our world women rule. And that makes me proud. It also gives me hope.

I hope that for any girl growing up now they see a world where opportunity is everywhere and they can be whatever they want to be.

Happy International Women's Day