Let’s Talk About Snow, Baby

When I was much younger, I always loved the snow. And to an extent I still do.

Snowfall seems to create a different world from the place you know so well. Streets and parks look unfamiliar even though you might have walked or frequented them over and over again.

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I’ve experience snow in a few places. Growing up it seemed like it snowed every year for the first years I can remember. In my mind’s eye I can remember photos I’ve seen of me bundled up playing in the snow. I remember the street I grew up on looking so magical, when there was heavy snowfall. The sides of the roads all slushy, deep and dirtied from vehicles trying to make their way (sometimes unsuccessfully) up the hill. And then for the longest time it just didn’t happen. For years it seemed, we just didn’t have any snow.

Then, as I grew into a young adult with responsibilities, snowfall started to become inconvenient. It once took over 3 hours to make a 30 minute trip home from work, my Dad driving, due to sudden heavy snowfall. Living in Milton Keynes, people often say all the roads look the same. I usually disagree, but on that night, everything all white and the road signs covered with the stuff, it was very disorienting.

candle on dining room table with snowy scene behind

 

Working in a mall was always fun when it snowed (not). As soon as it started you would panic you wouldn’t get home. But until the head office had notified you could leave, you were stuck. Even if the customers had all left.

New York snow is definitely the prettiest I’ve seen. I can’t explain to you why, but if you’ve ever experienced it, you’ll know what I mean. I visited for Valentine’s Day in 2003 when the city saw a record-breaking blizzard (there’s even a Wikipedia page all about it) and I was snowed into my hotel. I mean, of all the places to be snowed in, New York’s a good one. We survived on deli sandwiches and watching the great President’s Day movies on the tiny TV in our room. It was pretty fun in hindsight.

macro of snow

There’s something exciting and magical about snow. It seems to blanket over the monotony of day-to-day life, and add an extra level of interestingness. Your trips to work might be a little strange, the view from your kitchen window will be iced, and if you’re at school there’s always a chance you could get a bonus day off!

In England we’re a little famed for our over-reactions to this weather. Granted it can be genuinely dangerous on the roads, but that’s usually down to people not driving responsibly. The shelves in the shops will end up bare as people hunker down for what could be a whole 12 hours of inconvenience. Okay, I may be over exaggerating.

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My now conflicted opinion of snow comes from being a fairly new, and quite un-confident driver. When I met Gary, I couldn’t understand his negative opinion towards snow, despite his explanation. But now I’m going to stand up and say, snow is inconvenient and dangerous – and bloody cold!

Despite this, I don’t think I will ever lose the feeling that there’s a bit of magic in this kind of weather. As a child I have a distinct memory of going to bed, and listening to the main road outside. And then all at once everything became silent, and I knew it had started snowing. I wasn’t the type of person, back then, to look at a weather forecast, I was just a kid caught up in my own world, so I have no idea if it was due to snow. All I knew, without even looking outside, was that it was the kind of snow that would have turned the world white when I opened my curtains.

I used to have a theory, that if you looked directly into the sky as it started to snow, if the sky was that weird opaque pale orange colour, and all you could see was thick snowflakes rushing towards you, it would definitely stick to the ground, instead if just melting away. I was usually right.

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Today I’m talking about snow, because as I write it’s falling on the UK. And by this I mean literally – I’m watching it come down. I woke this morning, at a stupid time, in the anticipation of a snow-covered cul-de-sac outside, and I wasn’t disappointed. Some plans have sensibly already been cancelled, whilst others hang in the balance.

a snowy scene from the kitchen window

This time around, I feel a little like this snow will be a tad more special since it’s Christmas time. We don’t often get snow in December in these parts any more. It tends to land in January or February, which at least adds a little something to those nothing-y months. But that postcard idea of snowfall at Christmas rarely occurs. So this year is different.

baubles on a tinsel string

I’m not a big fan of being wet and cold, so skiing, snow angels, snowball fights or building snowmen is never on my to do list when it’s snowy. But I will say, if you’ve got nowhere to go and you’re warm and safe somewhere, it’s blooming beautiful to watch it fall.

What’s In My Flight Bag?

A few weeks back I posted a poll on twitter to see whether people would be interested in a blog article about what I’m taking in my flight bag, ahead of my trip to Orlando. The result was a majority yes, with one person saying no and the rest telling me they wanted McNuggets….

So here it is (and everyone else needs to get their own darn nuggets)

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I’ve travelled long haul more often than not when flying, and so I’m pretty set in my ways. I don’t tend to take a whole lot because I don’t see a 9 hour flight as particularly long. I seem to be able to get myself into a good mind-set and don’t have many problems (probably the many years of long shifts in retail. You’ve gotta get through it somehow!).

This year I’m taking our fantastic Walt Disney World backpack as my hand luggage. It’s strong, covered in Mickeys and fits so much in it. It’s also go tonnes of pockets so I can separate everything and I know I’ll be able to find it at a moment’s notice.

Now, I’m the kind of person who goes for ease so I don’t take any liquids or gels with me. This means I can go through security without any hassles. I do take a Chapstick but that’s never caused any problems.

UK passport and longline wallet

Important stuff first, I’ll be taking my passport, duh, along with my travel wallet which will have cards, cash and driving licence in it (and my Sephora and Ulta loyalty cards, of course!) I’ll also have any other important vouchers or documents pertaining to the trip.

I’m be wearing layers on the flight so won’t need a change of clothes, but I am packing my flip flops so I can change into those once we’re in the hire car, and leave my converse and socks in my bag.

I’ll be taking my Sony a5000 in a little case, you can see in the top picture. I don’t intend to use it on the flight, but I prefer to have it in my hand luggage so it doesn’t get chucked about. Inside this case is also an e-cloth.

I can’t go on a long-haul flight without a neck pillow and eye mask. I never know whether the eye mask they provide will work for me (the bridge of my nose always causes problems!) so I take my own. This one is actually from a past flight, but I use it regularly because it works on my face!

mickey mouse lock screen on iphone 7 plus in case

Of course I’ll have my phone, but when I travel I pop it into a case, since I can then chuck it into any bag without worrying about it getting lost or scratched. This particular case is by Tortoise and is leather. I have had a couple of these in the past (different phone sizes) but I always go back to them because they are robust, easy to take the phone in and out, and this one also acts as a phone stand.

iphone 7 plus in stand case

Please ignore the amount of finger prints on my screen…. but as you can see the case acts as a stand so I can watch YouTube or tv on the phone at any point and not have to hold it.

I also will be taking my Beats headphones, but of course I forget to photograph them. DOH! The little red pouch in the top picture contains my sunglasses. I doubt I’ll need them for when we land, but it’s holiday so sunglasses!

tic tacs and a Disney book

Bottom right on the photo, that tiny blue square is a Juice pack for my phone. My battery on my iPhone 7+ is really good, but who knows how much I’ll be using it, so better to be safe than sorry.

I will take a book with me (it might not be this one) but I have a habit of taking books on holiday and never reading them, so who knows! And of course I’ll be taking some sweeties!

I’ll no doubt add things like plasters and pain killers, last-minute because they always come in handy.

So even though it looks like a fair bit, that backpack will still feel empty! I’ll probably end up shoving my jumper in there at some point and trying to fill the space, as we do! But these are my essentials.

I can’t wait to get on the flight now!!

 

Returning To Orlando!

Never in a million years did I think that I would be visiting Orlando twice in as many years.

Even whilst boarding the plane last October (in the midst of a hurricane, no less) did I suspect that in just over a year I’d be heading back.

Orlando is definitely my second home, forgetting all the parks (but why would you want to?) it’s got all the weather, the food, the beaches and the views. It’s an incredible place.

So, when friends offered to have G Man and I for a stay whilst they are there in October, we knew we had to try to make it work somehow.

I’ll no doubt keep mentioning this over the period of time we have left until we head out, but I thought I would share a little bit of the things we want to do whilst we’re there!

Disney!

We’re not going to be spending much time in the parks, in fact it’ll be just one evening – Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party! We’ll be able to spend from 4pm til Midnight in Magic Kingdom and intend on rinsing every single second! I’ve got my costume sorted and I can’t wait to walk down Main Street and see the castle again!

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Visit Downtown Orlando, Winter Park, and St Augustine

Since our visit last year was straight Disney and Universal Studios jam-packed, we didn’t really go out and about in Orlando or the surrounding areas (apart from the shopping malls of course!) so this time around we want to visit some of these areas. I’m especially looking forward to seeing St Augustine because from what I’ve seen in photos it looks beautiful.

 

Complete my Orlando ‘Your Are Here’ Mug Collection

About a week after we left Orlando last year, Universal Studios announced the release of their Starbucks ‘You Are Here’ mug…. I knew I had to go back and get one, so that’s what I intend to do. I can’t have an incomplete collection now, can I?

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Shopping!

Oh yes! I will be stocking up on Bath and Body Works, getting my money’s worth in Victoria’s Secret and Hollister (the prices are so much better there!) and visiting far too many Target, Ulta and Sephoras. Let’s just say I’m planning on packing light so I have room to bring things home….. eek!

The Food!!

I honestly can’t wait to get eating! Blaze Pizza, Publix Subrolls, Cracker Barrel for breakfast – and the one I’m most looking forward to… Homecomin’ I get to have that beautiful Moonshine Cake that I’ve been dreaming about all year, again! This isn’t even mentioning Dole Whips and all the other Disney treats you can get in Magic Kingdom and Disney Springs!

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Speaking of Disney Springs……

I’m looking forward to spending time in Disney Springs and City Walk, as well as visiting the Boardwalk area which we didn’t do last time.

Clearwater

And last but not least, I’m really looking forward to hopefully visiting Clearwater beach. We didn’t have the chance last time, so I’m hoping we will this time around, because I can’t go to Florida twice and not see at least one of their beaches!

As well as all of this, we intend on relaxing, taking in the weather and spending time with our hosts. I really can’t wait!!

 

Playing Tourist with London Duck Tours

If you’re a regular reader of mine you’ll know I’m a big fan of London, and visit whenever I can – especially in Summer. So when I was asked whether I wanted to play tourist and go on a London Duck Tour, the answer was a resounding YES!

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I’d heard of Duck Tours before but wasn’t really sure what they were, having just seen the big yellow boat-like vehicles cruising through the streets of London. I was definitely intrigued. Me and hubby arrived at the Southbank on the day of our tour, and basked in the gorgeous sunshine until our transport arrived.

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The DUKW vehicles (affectionately referred to as Ducks and painted an appropriate yellow) are so-called thus: D = First year of production code “D” is for 1942, U = Body style “U” utility truck (amphibious), K = Front wheel drive, W = Two rear driving wheels (tandem axle). These vehicles were used to carry supplies and were most suited for this due to being able to go on both land and water. Fitted with a lovely roof, they are very accommodating on both grey and gloriously sunny days.

We hopped onto our Duck, Titania (all the Ducks are names after female characters from Shakespeare plays) and got comfy in our seats. Our tour guide Mark quickly gave us a brief of the journey ahead and then we were off!

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The tour started in Waterloo, then Westminster;

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Parliament Street, Whitehall, Downing Street, Trafalgar Square, Pall Mall, Piccadilly;

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Grosvenor Place and Buckingham Palace, MI5 and Lambeth Bridge before splashing down into the Thames next to MI6.

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We then travelled by water past the Tate Gallery, underneath Lambert Bridge and then turned around beside the Houses Of Parliament before heading back to dry land. Back on solid ground, we passed through the Vauxhall area and then back towards Waterloo.

Considering I’m a regular visitor to London, it was great learning so much about places I’ve seen many times, as well as noticing things I’ve never seen before and travelling through parts of the city I’ve never seen. I even learned that the Thames isn’t as dirty as I’d once thought, and its only the colour it is due to the constant churning of clay and soil on its bed. Who knew?! (Well, obviously Mark, our guide knew….)

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I loved the tour. Our guide was informative, funny and really knew his stuff. I honestly felt like I was on holiday, and the time we spent on the water was so relaxing!

I’m so pleased I got the opportunity to take this tour. I’ve seen that London Duck Tours also do themed tours including James Bond and D-Day. I might have to look those up! I visit London so frequently it’s so easy to forget about the landscape and history surrounding you in such a fast-paced environment. I LOVED playing tourist!

I was given the opportunity to take this tour for free by London Duck Tours, but at under £30 per adult ticket I’d say it’s worth every penny, for such a unique way to see and learn about London. You can find out more about their tours, and buy tickets and vouchers here, at their website London Duck Tours

Have you ever been on one of these tours, or even one of their themed tours? I’d love to know what you thought. Leave me a comment below, and tell me about it!

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I was given two tickets to the London Duck Tours for free, in return for my honest review of the experience. All views are my own and totally unbiased. If you like the look of the tours, go try one and see for yourself!