What’s in our travel bags

You’re either two types of person: one who loves packing or one who hates it. After stressing out the day before for about half an hour, I’m generally ok and then I get into it. Although we have flown with Alice before to Ireland, I’m having to organise this one all by myself, so there’s a lot to do! I’d like to show you what’s in our travel bags as we head to Glasgow for the bank holiday weekend…

What’s in Alice’s bag

In Alice’s bag we have:

Mamia nappies and travel wipes from Aldi, we find these are the best value for money and the best quality too.

A few snack pouches for the journey just in case from Piccolo Foods and Aldi. Note that there are no restrictions on baby pouches in hand luggage even though they are technically a liquid, but airport security know that babies need the food!

A spare change of clothes, not that we have ever needed one but you can’t be too careful.

Sebamed diaper rash and baby cream, this stuff is the best in the business.

Nuby teether, as Alice’s top two teeth are now coming through. She bit my arm as I was packing!

Our baby bag is from Fact + Fiction. This bag is designed to look like a ladies handbag, but in fact is equipped with all the changing compartments and storage a baby bag needs. If you’re after a stylish way to travel with a baby, this is the one!

What’s in mummy’s bag

In my bag we have:

Sunglasses by Roberto Cavalli. These come with me on every trip and I don’t really use any other pair.

My trusty Tangle Teezer, as my hair constantly needs brushing and this size is a great one to travel with.

Sass and Belle notebook, in case I need to jot anything down quickly.

Nyx liquid lipstick in my favourite shade: satin ribbon.

Bag: Dune London. You may be thinking why take a white bag on such a journey, but this bag is seriously good quality. Any marks or dirt I get on it comes right off with a baby wipe, which I just so happen to always have on me! I picked this bag up from TK Maxx this Spring.

Living Proof dry shampoo, because lord knows by the end of the weekend I’ll be using it. This won’t be going in my hand luggage as it’s an aerosol but it will definitely be in our main suitcase.

Gluten free snacks, because I never leave home without something to nibble on. The hazelnut cholocate bars from Aldi are so handy and mess free.

Breast pads galore. For some reason I’ve gone back to spontaneously leaking and so to avoid any embarrassing moments, I’ve got a stash of them handy.

Mavala double lash treatment is also coming with me. A weekend trip is a great excuse to take some extra pampering tools along you wouldn’t normally use day to day. I’m giving my lashes a well-deserved treatment over the weekend.

Let’s not forget our Sky Baby, a clever travel mattress which can be used on flights and when travelling with babies. This is probably the last trip we will use it on as Alice approaches her first birthday in October. Look out for my insta uploads for the plane pics! See you on the other side ✈️

What’s on your travel bag essentials list? Let me know in the comments below!

Saharasplash x

PR samples included, all thoughts and views my own 

Destinations with hidden gems

Did you know that in the heart of Vienna there is an 11-floor Aqua/Terra zoo featuring creatures from the great deep to birds and small mammals? Or that in Oslo there is a park dedicated to naked statues?! Not all hidden gems are that easy to find when you start searching on the immensely wide, wide web. So let me tell you all about some of these destinations with hidden gems I’ve discovered over the years…

Madrid

Madrid is filled with wonder and excitement, trust me I lived there! The centre is buzzing with a mixture of traditional vs modern shops and buildings and there really is something for everyone. Here are my hidden gems:

Palacio de Cristal del Retiro

The Palacio de Cristal del Retiro (Crystal Palace) is located in Madrid’s Retiro Park . This once royal park opened its gates to the public in the 18th century, and since then has become an iconic spot for boaters, runners and tourists. What you might not realise is that if you venture far enough through the gorgeous scenery, there is a lovely Crystal Palace by a small lake, which is home to ever changing art instalments. It’s a great way to discover new talent without having to go to a museum.

Teleférico Madrid

I probably used the Madrid Teleférico over ten times during my stay back in 2013. This is Madrid’s version of a cable car tour, which I absolutely loved. You can pick it up near Moncloa tube station and take a fabulous ride all the way over to Casa de Campo. This is sort of like a national park and is also home to the Madrid Zoo. The walk back to the nearest tube (if you don’t get a return) is quite lengthy and hilly so make sure you have the right footwear and suncream!

Dubai

Dubai is a favourite destination of mine which I have covered many times before on the blog. If you want to discover what Dubai has to offer, I really recommend you stay longer than a week as it just can’t all be done otherwise! Many people are put off from the UAE based on what they’ve heard about strict rules, but it’s honestly not like that at all. I wouldn’t recommend going to a shopping mall in your bikini and shorts, but as long as you are respectful then there is nothing to worry about. Here are my hidden gems:

Dubai Autodrome

The Dubai Autodrome is a great way to let off some steam and have a bit of family competition. They have both an indoor and outdoor track and the fun can start for ages 7 and up. I had fun as both a driver and a spectator when I went. I’m really not into this sort of thing normally, but I had a lot of fun at the Autodrome!

Ski Dubai

You may already know about Ski Dubai, but if not let me paint you a picture. It’s 42 degrees outside, you are baking and sweaty and not thinking straight. You enter the Mall of the Emirates, only to come across a huge winter wonderland behind a glass wall. Mountains of snow awaits you, you can’t help but to get into a snow suit and dance around in the sub-degree temperatures. You take your first skiing lesson, and proudly manage one time down the hill without falling over. When you can’t feel your fingers anymore, it’s time to get back to the heat after a gloriously cool afternoon. Sounds amazing, but also a bit crazy to go skiing when in Dubai? This is such a great experience, however skilled (or unskilled) you are!

Got the travel bug yet? Yearning to find some destinations with hidden gems of your own?  Holiday Gems specialise in sunny destinations closer to home such as Gran Canaria, Majorca and other Spanish provinces. Click to read more information on Gran Canaria Holidays for 2018/2019 with Holiday Gems

Saharasplash x

Let me transport you back a few weeks to when I went to the Henley Regatta with Debenhams!

This is a sponsored post

Celebrating the rose with Cyprus Tourism Organisation

I’m going to take you on a bit of a journey with this post. Don’t worry, it’s a really good journey! A few week’s back I was invited to a rather unique and special event in London to celebrate with the Cyprus Tourism Organisation. Sadly the event wasn’t actually in Cyprus, but they most definitely brought the party, feel and Cypriot style right to the venue.

The event was centred around celebrating the annual Festival of the Rose which is held each May in the rural Cyprus village of Agros. Famed for its bright and beautiful roses, Agros springs to life as visitors flock to learn all about the distillation of the roses, attend exhibitions and take part in workshops.

I turned up to the venue ready and set in my floral trousers (got to look the part) and instantly fell in love with the building…

The whole place was decked out head to toe with Alice in Wonderland tributes! Not for the event mind you, this building near Waterloo is like this all year round- my heart melted a bit as I missed Alice who stayed at home while I came into London for the event.

Roses in shades of red and pink could be found everywhere, it really was a perfect venue for an event dedicated to the power of the rose.

We had a warm welcome from the Cyprus Tourism Organisation who gave us some great background into the festival and the country itself:

  • Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea
  • Cyprus is filled with vast areas of dense forest and valleys
  • Cyprus annually celebrates traditional festivals such as The Rose Festival
  • When rose water is distilled, its aromatic fragrance can be used in hundreds of different ways- in beauty products like perfumes and oils and also in sweets and liqueurs
  • The Rose of Damascus blossoms in between April and May, making right now the ideal environment for growth

Bloggers and press were then taken into the main area for the night, filled with treats and wonderful things inspired by The Rose Festival.

Mahalepi- a traditional dessert made from rose water, cornstarch and rose syrup 

As if this wasn’t enough, we were treated to a one to one tutorial in flower arranging from Rebel Rebel, a popular London florist- just look at what we created..

Finally, after all the hard work, guests were treated to luxury hand massages and manicures- I got some gorgeous rose details by @poppinpolishldn, go check her Instagram out before you leave!

Thanks to all involved for making this event happen, or rather, ευχαριστώ in Greek!

Fun fact- I did actually take a course of Greek lessons while at sixth form and I still  remember the whole alphabet ?

Saharasplash x

I hope you loved reading all about my adventures celebrating the rose with Cyprus Tourism Organisation. If you want to subscribe to my blog and get posts straight to your inbox the link is on the homepage,  just below my photo!

First Family Getaway to Alveston Manor

Though most of you can’t wait to see the end of January, I have got to say it’s been great. Each day seems to go by so quickly now that Alice is in our lives, and I bet that 2018 will be no different. One fine January day, we set off on an excursion to Stratford-upon-Avon for something rather exciting. Keep reading to find out about our first family getaway to Alveston Manor.

It seems that Alice is giving us an excuse to do some travelling around the UK, and so far in her first three months of life has ventured far and wide. Alveston Manor, part of the Macdonald Hotel Group, was kind enough to welcome us through its beautiful doors to explore what it had to offer.

Our room was a treat to behold. The bedroom come living room had a wonderful seating area which we made full use of. You could see how the hotel had been transformed from the old wooden beams still a prominent feature throughout. The bathroom was sleek and modern, while the bedroom outside took me right back to my childhood- like staying the night in my nanny’s cottage.

There was plenty of pampering on our first family getaway to Alveston Manor. Paul and I took it in turns to have a hot stone massage each. When it was my turn, I took Alice down to the Elemis spa to switch over, and she got to have a look around the chill out room, though no massage for her just yet!

Fully rested and relaxed, we made our way down to the hotel’s restaurant at 7pm. We each had a three course meal which made the evening so tasty. Alice sat and enjoyed watching all the goings on, and loved the look of my beetroot carpaccio with goat’s cheese starter!

Steak with potato purée and rosti

Warm chocolate brownie with ice cream

We took our desserts back up to the room and the staff were more than happy to accommodate this. Alice was well and truly done after such an exciting day!

The morning started off just as fantastic as the night finished. We were brought breakfast in bed- need I say more?

I enjoyed a cup of earl grey while looking out onto the manor’s gardens.

This was such a perfect first getaway to Alveston Manor, we all were so impressed with the rustic yet fresh venue.

Find your perfect room and book a stay at Alveston Manor this year.

Saharasplash x

Up for another blog post? Here’s what I got in the Aldi Baby and Toddler Event this month.

Quick dash to Dubai

I know what you’re thinking, why do a quick dash to a place like Dubai? If you’ve seen my previous posts on Dubai (here) from last year, you will know that we have friends out there who we visit each year. The reason for our three day quick dash to Dubai is mainly down to Paul and the fact that he simply won’t take the time off work. I’m cool with having a mini break, and seeing as this was the first time travelling while pregnant (18 weeks at this point) I was glad to get home pretty quickly.

I think that also because we have done Dubai before, we have seen the sights and got the t shirt so to speak. So this visit was all about seeing our friends, having a great few days with some nice weather and putting our feet up.

The jetlag didn’t really bother us too much, we decided to go business class, primarily because I knew that being uncomfy while pregnant was not a good idea. We could relax and enjoy the flight a lot more this way. I did have a little travel sickness just before we landed, but I’m blaming the baby for that one as it’s never happened before!

I was super excited to take my new travel wallet * with me from Fabriano’s Boutique:

It stores all your important documents and I fell in love with this item as soon as I saw it in the Marylebone store.

Day One

The kids were so happy to see us when they finished school, of course Paul took the majority of the leaps and hugs!

I took my ritual trip to get a mani pedi on day one of our quick dash to Dubai and went for blue nails. We spent the rest of the day relaxing and soaking up the beautiful sunshine.

Dress: Christian Audigier

Bikini: Asos

A trip to the local pool was a must too. This bikini was the only one that would fit me from my previous collection, so I bought a blue one just before we left from the TU dept at Sainsburys (shown in day two).

Day Two

Day two we headed to the beach at JBR. This was really nostalgic as pretty much 12 months before we were here and getting engaged! It was great to be back now married.

We went for breakfast at the Cheesecake Factory, another ritual of ours, before heading out into the late morning for some photos. My pantsuit is again from TU by Sainsburys and the beach bag* (Positano) is from Fabriano Boutique. I just loved the bright colours and sizeable straps- the perfect beach bag!

Announcing my pregnancy with a beach shoot was a dream come true. At this point I had waited long enough to announce it on social media and it came as a nice surprise to my Twitter and Instagram followers.

Bikini by TU from Sainsbury’s (which I must note now at 23 weeks no longer fits!)

Paul is wearing a gorgeous palm print swimming short* from Jacamo. I have to say when I was approached to style Paul up for the Dubai trip in Jacamo I was so excited. All of Paul’s outfits were chosen by me and he was reluctant to rock the palm print at first…

We match so well! Couples do still do this right?! I think he truly loved them.

Day Three

Day three we decided to take it easy and go shopping- total relaxation for me! We picked up quite a few things for the baby which I’ll share with you in my Dubai vlog coming soon.

I have no idea where this dress is from I must tell you, it’s my cousins and she bought it years ago in Miami. It’s one of my favs, plus it still fits!

Paul and I were reluctant to leave Dubai, it’s fast becoming our home away from home.

Shirt*: Jacamo

Chinos*: Jacamo

I hope you all are having a great summer 2017 so far. Let me know where you’ve been or where you are planning to go next. As for me, I’m fully grounded as we patiently await for the new arrival!

Saharasplash x

*PR Sample

Enjoyed our quick dash to Dubai story? Why not see our wedding story! Part One and Part Two.

Couples Retreat to Thai Square Spa

Once more I find myself back at the ever popular Thai Square Spa near Charing Cross. I am putting a new spin on things this time however and writing up a couples retreat to Thai Square Spa! It’s just 67 days to the big day (the wedding for my newer readers) and so I really wanted to do something with my husband to be to take us out of the busy schedule we are both dealing with at the moment.

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I think it’s really important that you never lose sight of your relationship. Just because you are engaged to be married does not mean that you can’t date anymore and do the things you used to do. I also think that it can be really easy to get caught up in all the planning, it’s a great idea to take a day out to forget about the planning and have a nice relaxing time, just the two of you.

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Thai Square Spa offers so much for all couples looking to destress from any situation, especially wedding- related ones!

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I had a signature hand massage which was just heavenly. It’s an hour treatment which involves a delightful pampering all the way from your fingertips and up your arm. The scrub created a great sensation as it was rubbed into my hands and arms. The masseuse then washed the breads off and painted on a cooling paste before wrapping my hands and forearms up and sealed them in those wonderful bags which helps to lock in the heat and minerals. My treatment also involved the most fantastic head massage at the end too!

The facilities are just so relaxing, I could sit with a magazine and the signature Thai Square tea for hours. It also gave Paul and I the chance to just enjoy each other’s company side by side, just a little chit chat, no complexities.

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Our couples retreat to Thai Square Spa was just what we needed and this is easily my favourite spa in London. I’d really advise you to take a trip there with your special someone and just let Thai square do its magic! Go explore, get pampered, have fun!

 

Bikini: To Dive For

 

Saharasplash x