Sunday, 16 June 2019

The Roman Colosseum

If you want to find out all about my recent travels to Rome you can read all about it here. I had such a fantastic time, and Rome is definitely a must visit place. One of the must visit attractions is the Colosseum and I thought I would dedicate a post to it.



Before the trip my family and I had done some research into whether we needed to pre-book to go to the Colosseum or not. My friend had not long been herself and said there is ample of opportunities to buy tickets on the day. She was not joking, when you arrive there are hundreds of people selling tickets but I am always a bit unsure about whether they are all official or just a scam. We had bought a 48 hour hop on hop off bus ticket, and with the same company you were able to buy off them tickets for the Colosseum. We pre-booked a slot of 2pm to go the next day. The tickets were around 30 euros each, which I think is the standard price from wherever you decide to buy your tickets from. 



If possible I would definitely try and pre-book tickets, or if that is not viable then I would recommend at least booking a time slot. We went in April and the queue was pretty big. If you have a slot booked you will stay have to queue. We queued for about 40 minutes, but the other queue was easily 2 hours as it snaked all around the outside of the Colosseum. We found it all a little bit unorganised as there was three separate queues and there was only one person who worked there trying to organise hundreds of people. Once in the correct queue, there was a tight security process which I am always happy to see. You can pay for a guided tour with a tour guide, an audio tour or you can just stroll round at your leisure. We opted for the audio tour which I would recommend. There wasn't much to read inside to find out about its history, whereas the audio tour was split up into sections and you go can round slowly at your pace and listen to the relevant information at each point. For the extra few pounds it definitely brought the place to life.


It was really interesting to find out in much more depth about the Colosseum and its use. It used to hold 50,000+ people at one time. Its main use was for gladiator contests and public spectacles. We have all heard of gladiators but it really brought to life seeing exactly how it was viewed. It's quite barbaric to find out that they use to let prisoners have second chances by competing in the tournaments in order to have freedom known as people vs beast games. It used to be the main source of entertainment and tourists would travel from far and wide to come to events. You are able to see the underground area which is called the hypogeum which is thought to have been where they held the gladiators, prisoners and animals.

Despite it being so grand and such a big piece of history for Rome it was not actually in use for its purpose for that long. It unfortunately became damaged quite significantly from an earthquake in 1349 and has been restored to be a tourist attraction over the years. In 2018 it was actually the most visited tourist attraction in the world with over 7 million tourists visiting it.

As well as the Colosseum you can visit to more sites called Palatine Hill and The Roman Forum. The Forum houses ruins showing different eras from the city of Rome. Palatine Hill is one of the oldest parts of ancient Rome left and was once the home of many emperors.


Overall, we are all had a fantastic day at the Colosseum and if you visit Rome no matter if you are into history or not you have to go. Rome has to keep so much of its history alive and this is a perfect example of how they have done this.

Lucy
xoxo


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Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Rome

We booked a 5 day trip to Rome in April and it was a fantastic trip away. My family and I have always been lovers of Italy and after having such an amazing time in Florence (post) last October we decided to book another Italian city break. Rome has been on the top of my travel to visit list for years.

We stayed in the Best Western Piccadilly hotel which was an excellent location on Via Magna Carta.  It is easy to get around on public transport on the trams which are frequent, it was around £3 for all day ticket. Once in the city we could walk everywhere as it was a very pleasant stroll around.

On the first day we decided to explore and see all of the attractions which are easy to get to. We ended up in Piazza de Spagna which is one the piazzas where you will find lots of shops and little cafes and restaurants. We ended up finding the Spanish Steps which is a popular attraction around this area. It is a steep set of steps which at the top has a church which makes the view beautiful. It is gorgeous to look at and makes the whole square come together. Not too far from these steps is the Trevi Fountain. My sister and I are huge Lizzie McGuire fans so we were really excited to go. It was ridiculously busy and unless you are dedicated to push your way through the crowds you aren't going to be able to get your Instagram shot. We made our way slowly to the front and waited for a little slot and then snuck in. It is a beautiful fountain which has been well maintained and it is lovely and clean. It is actually patrolled by police officers to stop people acting like hooligans and to ensure the safety of all tourists. Around this area is lots of little streets and we got our first ice cream of the holiday which as always was delicious. Another bustling area to visit is Via del Corso which is a main street which has narrow alleys and different small piazzas. It also links to Piazza Venezia which a part of the city where lots of tourists gather due to its variety of shops and malls.



If you have read any of my previous travel guides, you will know that when I go on city breaks I love getting on a hop on/ hop off tour buses. We decided to do this on the second day and it once again turned out to be an excellent idea. On the bus we realised that you could hop off at the Vatican and as the sun was shining we decided it was the perfect opportunity. As I am not catholic I didn't really know too much about the Vatican, but from what I had seen and heard it was a must visit place. The Vatican and its surrounding is actually an independent city-state ran by the Pope called Vatican City. As soon as we stepped off the bus we were met with a beautiful site. You have to walk over a bridge to get to the start of the City and the sight was incredible. You enter a big area called St Peter's Square. As well as the main attraction - St Peters Basilica, there are lots of other museums and buildings. The fast track queue to get into St Peters Basilica was approximately two hours and we all decided that we would rather wander round at our pace taking in the outside and its beauty. It is considered one of the greatest and largest pieces of architecture across the globe. Many tourists take pilgrimages to see it and on religious days throughout the year the Pope himself will do a number of speeches and readings. You can also go into inside if you want to see Sistine Chapel which is said to be also stunning. We spent a good few hours wandering around and eating pizza and wine in the sunshine.




Also on the bus tour we got to see the roman forum which is huge. It was once a plaza surrounded by ancient government buildings and now its remains are still there to walk around. We took the entire tour which discussed all of the different areas of Rome and it gave us a good basis of where everything was within the city.

There is no denying my family loves visiting a Zoo. We wanted to take a bit of time out of the city and decided to visit Bioparco di Roma which is the oldest and largest zoological gardens in Italy. It was a fantastic day out, and unlike English zoos it was not busy at all. It was so pleasant to walk round and we spent the entire day there. It had such a wide array of animals and we overall had a really fantastic day.


Before I went to Rome one of my friend's recommended to go into the Trastevere area. It has a variety of bars and restaurants and is lovely at night if you just want a leisurely stroll and to stop for a few drinks and to relax. I don't have any particular restaurant recommendations as everywhere we ate was amazing.

We went to the Coliseum on the last day and it was great. My family and I are all history geeks and it was fabulous to go to.  I am going to write a separate dedicated post to it as there is a lot of information to discuss. My advice is that you can get your tickets on the day if you want to as there are literally hundreds of people selling tickets. We bought fast pass tickets for a specific time which was great as it saved time queuing which was great as it started to rain. Once inside we decided to get the tour which I would definitely recommend. Overall, it was fantastic and is a must see attraction for anyone visiting Rome.

We all had an incredible time eating, drink and exploring in Rome and I love anywhere in Italy for this reason. I feel like we managed to do all the sites as well as take some time to stroll and not be stuck to a strict schedule. I would definitely recommend visiting if it's only for the pizza and pasta!

Lucy
xoxo
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Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Paris in a day











Whilst on my grand adventures to Disneyland Paris, me and my sister decided to take a day trip to Paris as I had never been before. We had one day and one day only to try to see and do as much as possible. We set off early and got the train from Chessy to Paris. The train took about 45 minutes and it was direct. We decided in order to see the city in all of its glory we would get on a hop on hop off bus around to see as many sites as possible.

I had always wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower so we decided to go and do it at the start of the day. The queue was about an hour long in the end from buying tickets to getting up to the tower. You can choose whether you want to go up to the middle tier of the tower, or right up to the top. We decided to just go up to the middle tier which was definitely enough for me as it very much confirmed my fear of heights. I am so glad that we did this and the view from the top was pretty spectacular.

We then jumped onto the hop on hop off bus. On any city breaks I always think these buses are a great way to see the main sites which you might not want to necessary get off and look around. As we were time permitted to less than 12 hours it was definitely the right decision. We decided to get off in the very city centre to look around the shops and go to my sisters must visit macaroon shop called La Duree, which is very expensive but is great if you fancy a little treat. We got then got some dinner in a local cafe and then continued with our shopping spree.

We jumped back onto the bus and continued the tour. I was excited to see the Moulin Rouge, Notre Dame and The Louvre. There are so many amazing sites to see. We then stopped for a cup of tea and a cake and took in the views and the sunshine, as even though it was February the weather was beautiful.

We continued to explore on foot strolling around the city. We were really surprised at just how pretty the city is. We had quite a tight schedule as we wanted to get back to Disney (which you can read about here). We had planned to see the fireworks this night which start at 7.30pm so we got the train back about 6.30pm in order to make it in time.

Overall, we both had an absolutely fantastic day in Paris. We didn't see half of the city that we wanted to, it was very much just a snapshot. We are definitely going to go back to Paris and spend a few days properly exploring and seeing everything that we want to. It was great to be able to see everything but it would be great to have the opportunity to actually go into the sites themselves.

Lucy
xoxo











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Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Pinch Punch First of the Month

 

In 2019 on the 1st of every month I have pledged something which is I want to achieve within the month. I think I went all out in January, and as the months have gone on I have learnt to set a more manageable and smaller goal.

The goals so far have been relating to money, home life, exercise and healthier eating. I am very task orientated and I know I love to have something to focus on, even if I don't particularly achieve it. As always I have got one of my best friends on board and I text her asking what her pledge is. I think it is good for both of us as you can check in and see how we are getting on. I think it is also great for me to have a friend doing it alongside me as she can reign me in when I am being a little too ambitious. 

I feel like I have a lot of goals and ideas floating around my little brain at the moment, and I feel like each month is drifting by and I have not achieved any of them. I thought it would be a great idea to break things down into months and it would therefore be more management. This means that each month I only have one thing to focus on. This month is about saving for a large holiday. I do this a few times a year e.g. I did no spend Jan this year which you can read all about here. I am hoping to travel to Canada next February and I need to save a few thousand to be able to go and have a once in a life time trip. Therefore, this month I have pledged to save a particular amount in order to get the ball rolling with booking the first installments. 

I very much live by the rule that you only live once. I think everyone goes through phases in life of saving for things for one minute and then splurging the next. That is life and you do what you want. I think about the future a lot, probably a little too much. However, I know that I don't want to get later on in life and look back on my 20's thinking I could have done so much more. Within my job we are told about the importance of reflection, and I have definitely started to incorporate this into my everyday life. I often look back at situations and think about what I loved and hated and how in the future I could improve it. 

At the end of 2018 I had big expectations as to what I wanted 2019 to be for me. I am always one for new year's resolutions and I like to have something to try and achieve. We can go all guns blazing into the new year and be a little disappointed when things don't happen as quickly as we would like them to. I know for sure this is me. Once I have an idea I want to achieve it, no matter how big or small. Take buying a house, it is probably one of the biggest things I will ever do for myself. I knew this wouldn't happen in 2019, but I have a goal for it to be accomplished by 2021. These goals don't always have to be achieved straight away, in the next year or even five years. However, having an end sight of particular goal/s is such a fab way to get motivated and go out and get something. 

For the past five months I have made these monthly pledges to try and make small but positive changes. If you are like me and like goals and aims then I say to try making one pledge a month and see how you get on. You can always review it mid-way into the month to see what you have done already, and what you can now do to ensure you achieve it. If it is a much bigger goal which needs more time in order to complete it, continue it into the next month and make a new pledge as to how you are going to do it. 

Lucy
xoxo


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Sunday, 21 April 2019

Testing Huda Beauty's Liquid Lipstick Formula





I bought this Huda Beauty liquid lipstick at Christmas and I have been getting a great amount on wear out of it. The shade is Jetsetter and it was part of last years summer line. It is however still available now.

Before this purchase I had wanted to try the liquid lipsticks from Huda since their launch. They seemed to be the stand out product from the brand, and all the reviews were positive. I would class Huda Beauty as a high end beauty brand due their pricing. I have tested a lot of liquid lipsticks on this blog over the years. You can read reviews here of - Kat Von DJeffree StarKylie Cosmetics and Colourpop.

The liquid lipstick has a thin, fluid like consistency which I love. The colour is super pigmented which is what I find is often a major downfall with some liquid lipsticks, and they can look patchy once applied to the lips. I like the shape of the doe foot applicator as the flatter side helps to get around the curves of my lips and helps avoid smudges. One thing I did find though is that you need to work fast as this dries pretty quick, as I struggled to rectify a small smudge without ruining my entire makeup. This did mean on this occasion that I managed to test out applying a second coat. I found that it dried down equally and evenly which is also a big tick in my eyes.

This liquid lipstick has a matte finish. I struggle with matte finishes to lip products as my lips are naturally very dry. I always apply a good amount of lip balm, but I usually go for more of  a semi - matte finish. I love Colourpop for that exact reason, they offer a wide range of finishes to their liquid lipstick range and their ultra satin finish is my favourite. With matte finishes I know that they are always going to be drying on my lips, but I did find this dried downed particularly dry. It wasn't uncomfortable but I put a gloss over the top to make it feel a little bit better.

Overall, I am pretty impressed with this formula from Huda and felt as though it last well on my lips throughout the day and wasn't transferable. I have worn this multiple times, and I have had compliments regarding the colour. It dries down to a nude pink which has a hint of purple running throughout it. I like that it is not too bright. On a daily basis I am not one to wear a very vibrant colour or tone of lipstick. This is a great bridge between a day to night shade, and it can pull an everyday makeup look together. I would definitely buy other liquid lipsticks from Huda Beauty, and I want to try the demi-matte version from her line as it might solve the drying aspect.

Lucy
xoxo


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Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Netflix Picks #3


Looking back on my list of Netflix picks over the last few months they could not have been more polar opposite if I tried.

Before watching Fyre Festival I don't really know how I missed this fiasco happening. It's an hour and a half documentary which followers the organisation of this luxury festival which is going to cost hundreds to attend, but it is going to be 'the' festival of the year. It is interesting as it follows them in the here and now and the organisation behind the scenes. It unravels how from the start it was never going to work and how the main guy organising it doesn't really have a clue or handle on anything which is actually going on from day dot. He has all of these brilliant ideas but doesn't think about the implication of them. I won't ruin it but the whole thing turns into a catastrophe, and worse of all it has devastated effects on the little island of the Bahamas where it is being held.

Abducted in Plain Sight is one of the strangest programmes I have ever watched in my life. This was another one which was not only the topic of conversation at work but also within my group texts. Something strikes you and you think okay now that has to be the extent of this, and then bam within the next few minutes a bigger hurdle spirals out of control. The storyline itself is strange. It follows a family from America who attend church and life seems to be as happy as larry. A new pastor arrives in town and starts to create close connections with the family especially with the daughter called Jan who at the time is 8 or 9. Things develop and the pastor starts to grow closer to Jan and when she is 12 she gets abducted by him. There are lots of other aspects which go on within the family and it's all very eye-opening. My reaction to it is how can you be living with your eyes so shut that you literally cannot see what is going on in front of you.

So it is no secret that I am a very messy person, so I thought Marie Kondo being on Netflix would be inspire me. I have read her books and I did take some ideas with folding and doing one big clear out on board. Marie is a breath of fresh air and I really enjoyed watching this and how she is able to change people's lives just with a clear out.

Dirty John is a little freakish as John basically stalks a new love interest and everything turns bad very quickly. The one thing I love about this show is it moves a long at a fair pace and you aren't waiting for three episodes to find out an answer. It follows a rich independent woman and how easy it can be to fall in love. It also highlights how easy it is to fall out of love when you really get to know the ins and outs of someone you think you know. I feel like the ending was definitely shocking, but I love the twist it was great.

You is one of those programmes that everyone was talking about at work. Everyone knows I am a Netflix lover and was like Lucy you need to watch it. True to their words I dived straight in. There are lots of different elements which I liked about this. It definitely drags you in and captures the audience. First of all it has Penn Badgeley (Dan from Gossip Girl) as the main character and he owns a book shop. He meets this girl who he falls for but she has quite a complex history. It shows flashbacks to his previous relationships and how obsessive he can become. These things start the shine through and he is very territorial. It once again moves on at a good pace and I think there will definitely be a series 2 of this on the way.

Yummy Mummies is an Australian reality show which is a little bit like Real Housewives. It follows four soon to be mums who all have rich husbands, and their journeys to birth. It is classic easy watch TV with the extravagant baby showers and push presents. The mums are all different and it's interesting to follow throughout their pregnancy to birth.

Back with the Ex is another Australian reality style show. Basically a person nominates an ex who they believe is the one who got away. It follows them over a few months and they have a few challenges to complete to see if they are able to rebuild their relationship. It is easy going, with a few twists and turns in the works. Overall, this is a classic binge-worthy programme which is an easy watch.

Sex education is a programme I nearly forgot to write about. It's a bit strange the way it is set in modern times but it definitely has a 90's theme with the styling of the show. It is based on a group of high school friends. Otis is a typical experimental teenager who is lacking in the love department. His mum is a sex therapist and basically embarrasses him at every opportunity. He meets Maeve, a cool badass girl who is very attractive but also has a very difficult home setup. They set up a sex clinic with advice from what Otis has learnt from his mum and Maeve being the organiser and money collector. They are many other characters which all have their own troubling teenage worries which are very relatable. The mix of the characters and the great story line makes this a smash hit.

Flint is different to anything else I have mentioned in this post. It is a documentary which follows the Flint policing department in America. Flint as a city is known for having high crime and violence rates. The programme follows through the time of the city getting a new mayor, and how the community have lost faith in the justice and police system entirely. They face a water crisis where all connections have been contaminated. It also delves deep into the chief's position, and  the implementation of new strategies to try and tackle just some of the major issues like gun and knife crime. I think this is a very honest and open documentary and it really does highlight current affairs.

Sunset Selling is a last minute addition to the line up. After binge-watching 5 episodes in one night. I sent a text to my best pals saying "girls you need to watch this, it is like the hills all over again". This time round instead of the girls working at fashion houses, they work in high end real estate in LA. This estate agents sells million pound houses to the elite, but as always with a group of girls there is the bitchy and catty dramas alongside. It's great as you have the inside knowledge, and you also get to look into some of the most fabulous houses out there on the market. In particularly they have a house worth $40,000,000 which is the biggest house which they have ever had the opportunity to sell. It is all about who can make the most commission between the girls to earn the most.

If you enjoyed reading this I have done two previous Netflix picks posts which you can read here and here.

Lucy
xoxo
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Sunday, 7 April 2019

Centerparcs Whinfell Forest



Before this visit I had never really thought about going to Centerparcs. Whilst studying at university in Cumbria, I had heard many people mention going to Centerparcs at Penrith. In my third year of university one of my friends who worked at Centerparcs managed to wangle us some free passes to the pools. It was a lovely day and we always said we would come back. Nearly three years later my friends and I from university finally booked it.

I wasn't sure how much it was going to cost, but I had heard it was pretty expensive. There are set times that you can book to go either Monday-Monday, Monday-Friday or Friday-Monday. We opted for the Friday to Monday slot as it fitted in best with all of us. For a 6 bedded two storey lodge it was £589. For us paying on an individual basis we thought it was good value for money. It worked out just over £30 each per night. However, I am fully aware that for a family they could go somewhere more luxurious for the same price. It definitely depends on the type of holiday which you are looking for.

From sunny Bolton to Penrith with no stops it took an hour and 40 mins to get there. We weren't able to check into our lodge until 2pm. You are able to make full use of the facilities from 10am on the day you arrive. We decided we would book to go into the spa on the first afternoon. The spa was £33 per person and we spent about 4 hours in there. It was lovely and a perfect way to catch up. Considering it was early March we got lucky with the weather and we were able to take advantage of the outdoor pools. Although, if they weather wasn't as good there are also different indoor pools which were great and very relaxing. Within the spa they have a range of saunas and steam rooms which has different scents and themes to them. I think we were lucky with the timing of when we went to the spa as there were only a handful of people there, and it made it a much more relaxed experience. 

After finishing up in the spa we headed back to our cars. Centerparcs have a strict policy that you can only drive your car from the car park to your lodge after 4pm. Once at our lodge you can unpack your car and leave you car outside your lodge until I think 10pm. You have to take your car back to the car park, you cannot leave it outside your lodge. I think this is mainly due to safety as the roads are quite windy and thin. We decided to take our cars straight back to the car park rather than having to do it later when it was dark.

When you arrive you get a wrist band which is the key to your lodge and also has it uses throughout the activities and facilities. You can also pay for things on your wristband which if you were there for longer it could be a great option. We had been to the local Morrisons before checking in and bought food and drink for the entire weekend to keep the costs down. On the first night it was great as we just chilled and drank some wine and had a thorough catch up.

When had quite a full on day planned on the Saturday. It started out with having sausage and bacon butties. 


We had pre-booked our activities all in advance which I would highly recommend doing. We booked the lodge quite a while ago and each month we booked an activity to do to break up the cost. We decided to be all adventurous and book to do a tree top challenge. Well all I can say is that if you ever need to confirm your fear of heights, this will either make or break you. I come ultimately say this soul-destroyingly broke me completely. I had a breakdown when I got to the top of the first tree as the wind was blowing and I felt as though the tree was going to snap in two. Once I managed to just about stop crying the first obstacle was to step out into swinging tyres. I managed with a big queue following me to make it to the end. I hated every minute except the zip wires. Overall, I will never be doing anything like this again, and would much rather of spent the time in the spa.




After my hell of a time on the treetop challenge, I decided I literally needed a glass of wine. We didn't have anything else booked in until the evening so we decided to go for a walk around the grounds and into the village. Within the village there is a supermarket and four or five gift shops. There are also some restaurants and this is where the swimming pools are. 

In the evening we had booked to have a meal at Bella Italia which was lovely as always. We had then booked for a 2 hour session of bowling. This was great fun and we thoroughly had a fabulous time. The only thing which I said would be nice for groups like mine would be if there was a bar, as there is nowhere to really go except back to your lodge. I totally understand the reasoning for this as it is very family orientated, but I think it would nice to have a more adult only area. We went back to our lodge for some drinks and played some games. 

In the morning we had booked to go to the Pancake House which is overlooking the lake where you can hire pedlos and boats. The menu is great and offers a wide range of both pancakes and waffles. As you can see I had this delightful strawberries and cream waffle which set me up for the day and it tasted delicious.




We had planned to spend all of this day in the swimming pools and that is exactly what we did. As guests of Centerparcs you have unlimited free use of the swimming pool area. It is much bigger than you expect. It had an indoor area which is very child friendly as it is much shallower. There are also three different adult slides which you can use. We made the most use of the outdoor area as there are two heated outdoor pools which were incredibly relaxing. There is also a large jacuzzi area and a small lazy river. We spent a good three hours within the pool areas.


Due to family and work commitments everyone decided to not stay the last night. We left late on the Sunday afternoon and I had thoroughly had a great time. There is an extensive list of activities available so if I was to go back I definitely wouldn't be worried that there is nothing else to do. Like I said at the start of the post, it is not particularly cheap especially after you start to add on the cost of activities. However, it was a lovely weekend and as we broke the cost up over several months we didn't have a massive payout to pay as soon as we arrived. There are a few different Centerparcs locations dotted around the UK which I would love to visit. I think I will definitely be booking another weekend away as soon as I can fit one it.

Lucy
xoxo
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