Browsing Category


Folkestone Harbour Arm

By 12 August 2015 Lifestyle, Travel

For fifteen years an increasingly dilapidated concrete arm has jutted out into the English Channel from Folkestone harbour. Once upon a time it was a railway station and passenger port with the steam trains stopping beside the steam ships departing for the continent. In 1891 it was possible to travel from London to Paris (via Folkestone and Boulogne) in just 7 hours 30 minutes.

During the First World War, Folkestone harbour was known as the ‘Gateway to the Trenches’ as millions of troops headed for the front line. With the last ferry leaving in September 2000 and the harbour branch line officially closed in 2014, Folkestone harbour is now waiting for development.

Folkestone Harbour Station

Old link-span at Folkestone harbour

The refurbishment of the harbour arm, a £3.5 million project, is presenting Folkestone with a pleasure pier for residents and locals to enjoy. The Folkestone harbour arm consists of a lit walkway that goes all the way to the lighthouse at the end, pop up cafes to delight foodies and live entertainment.

Lighthouse at the end of Folkestone harbour arm

The harbour arm lets you get a whole new perspective on Folkestone. My husband and I visited on the first day it opened and the weather was stunning.

Folkestone Harbour Arm Panorama

Folkestone cliffs viewed from Folkestone harbour arm

View from top level of harbour arm towards Folkestone harbour

Folkestone’s harbour arm will be open Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays all summer. Check out their Facebook page for the latest news.

Nearest station: Folkestone Central 1 mile – 54 minutes from London St Pancras International. Book online with Southeastern before 24th August to save 25% on off-peak tickets.

You Might Also Like

Festival Photo La Gacilly 2015

By 6 August 2015 Travel

La Gacilly is a beautiful Breton town brimming with artists ateliers, cafes and pretty buildings. It’s also home to the largest outdoor photography festival in France. Over the last 11 summers, Festival Photo La Gacilly has attracted over 2 million visitors to this sleepy corner of Brittany.

Aside from the Festival Photo, La Gacilly is famous for being home to the Yves Rocher cosmetics company that makes botanical beauty products. Monsieur Rocher not only founded the company but he was the mayor of La Gacilly for over 40 years.

La Gacilly Photography Festival Places Yves Rocher

La Gacilly Photography Festival

La Gacilly Photography Festival photo tree

La Gacilly Photography Festival 2015 cafe with clock and poster on wall

La Gacilly Photography Festival 2015 Blue shutters

La Gacilly Photography Festival cafes in the village

La Gacilly Photography Festival passion flower in a garden

La Gacilly Photography Festival gallery in an old garage
[gdlr_box_icon icon=”icon-info-circle” icon_type=”circle” icon_color=”#ffffff” icon_background=”#B14A93” icon_position=”top” title=”Fact Box” ]This year’s Festival Photo La Gacilly runs until 30th September 2015.
Nearest airport: Nantes 49 miles – Fly from Liverpool or Gatwick to Nantes with EasyJet.
Nearest railway station: Redon 9 miles – Book rail tickets via[/gdlr_box_icon]

You Might Also Like

Benefits of travelling as a solo female

By 20 May 2015 Travel

“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.” – Hannah Arendt

Travel is a marvellous thing. Not only can you explore new places but you can also explore your own mind, especially if you go on your own. There are places you can go to on your todd where you’ll meet loads of new friends and party like mad, if that’s your thing. Otherwise, you can enjoy peace and quiet and room to think.

One of the benefits of travelling solo is that you don’t have to talk to anyone if you don’t feel like it. This is perfect for introverts who tire easily from too much human interaction. You can enjoy destinations in your own bubble of quiet contemplation. For me the major benefit is being able to do what you want to do. Travelling by yourself means you don’t have to follow anyone else’s itinerary. Go where you please, when you please without having to worry about anyone else. As someone who doesn’t even like to go shopping with other people, it’s lovely to only have to please yourself. There are less compromises to be made when you go somewhere on your own.

Benefits of travelling as a solo female - Chapterthirty

If you’re happy to stay in a hostel, going it alone means you can benefit from single bed prices. There’s no need to fork out for expensive hotel rooms unless you want to. Girls can enjoy female only accommodation in most hostels. Many around the world boast dedicated girls’ facilities that include home comforts such as fluffy towels and extra mirrors.  I’ve stayed in a wide range of hostels in my time from clinical Hostelling International places in the USA with professional quality kitchens, to party hostels and a converted town house in Malaysia where there’s only one dorm room with about 20 beds and lizards in the toilet cubicles. Although some were less than ideal I never really had a problem in any of them, plus the one in Malaysia cost about £3 per night so you can’t really complain!

Another benefit of travelling alone as a woman is that is allows you to feel empowered. It’s like a big two fingers up to anyone who’s ever doubted you or your ability to do anything. When you’ve arrived alone at an airport on the other side of the world, negotiated an Asian toilet, got on a local bus and stepped around a dead rat in the middle of the road, having to get the train to Manchester for a business trip seems like the piece of piss it really is. You don’t need to feel self conscious about eating alone in a restaurant. You don’t need to worry about waiting at the gate to get on a plane without knowing a soul for miles around. Feel free to take your time, enjoy your own company and stop worrying so much about other people. Sometimes it’s good to be selfish.

I’m married now so I’ve got someone who I can share travel experiences with. However, it’s still good to get some alone time and I don’t intend to completely stop solo travel. Hubby doesn’t enjoy just lazing around on a sunbed so I can foresee taking myself off for a long weekend in the sun at some point in the next few years.

Have you been on holiday or travelled on your own? How would you sell it to someone who isn’t sold? Leave a comment below.

You Might Also Like

A weekend in Kingston upon Thames

By 6 April 2015 Travel

Arriving at Kingston train station on a warm and sunny Friday afternoon you’d be forgiven for thinking you were in just another busy London suburb. But there’s a lot more than meets the eye in the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames.

With a history dating back over a thousand years, Kingston gets its name from Kinges Tun meaning royal farm or estate. Behind the modern high street you’ll find an ancient heart that has seen the coronation of perhaps 7 Saxon kings. The historical heart of Kingston is very charming. Its cobbled streets and old building nowadays house upmarket shops. It’s definitely an ideal destination for shopping.

During my Friday afternoon I actually didn’t make it that far. I explored only the main high street and shopping centre as I only had a short time before needing to get ready to go out to dinner. My reason for travelling to Kingston was to attend the Traverse 15 conference for travel bloggers. I’m not a travel blogger per se but having been to Blogstock, which was a blogging festival organised by the same guys, I really wanted to go.

After dinner with some new friends in Prezzo, we headed to All Saints Church for a networking event. This Norman church was built on the site of the Saxon coronations mentioned above. Along with its more modern additions, the church was a spectacular location for drinks.

All Saints Church Kingston

Organ stops on Frobenius organ All Saints Church Kingston

Kingston at night

After drinks we walked through the more attractive part of town and were drawn by our noses into Sweet Revenge. The bakery still had its doors open at 9.30pm because the owner was busy baking a big order. It’s a gorgeous place with pastel coloured tables and chairs and the most pretty cakes. I couldn’t decide between all the flavours so chose vanilla as well as coffee and walnut.

Sweet Revenge Cupcakes

Cakes at Sweet Revenge bakery

Vanilla cupcake from Sweet Revenge

I didn’t eat both cakes at once but they were delicious.


Saturday was filled with the conference. We had a greasy fry up for breakfast before heading to Kingston University for the day. I attended a number of talks on the subject of blogging. One about the PR’s perspective of building relationships, one on improving my travel photography and one on alternative monetisation strategies. At lunchtime I attended a focus group with Air France KLM about how they work with travel bloggers. It was all very interesting and most definitely transferable across various blogging niches.

Traverse 15 Conference

I spent the evening at Space, one of the student union bars at the University. It certainly took me back a few years or 10. By 11pm I was ready for my bed so I got onto a bus full of people heading out into town to go back to the Travelodge so I could go to sleep. I must be getting old.


Sunday morning was wet. I’d hoped to have some more time to explore Kingston and take photos before getting the boat to Hampton Court but it was windy and miserable. I was still determined to go for a walk and get my camera out.

Kingston upon Thames

Old buildings Kingston

Shopping in Kingston

Windswept in Kingston

There’s been a market in Kingston for centuries. Even on this sodden Sunday morning the stall holders were setting up. The Market Place is in the older part of town south of All Saints Church, close to the river.

Kingston Ancient Market shops

Market House Kingston Ancient Market

Nothing was open yet and I was getting a little soggy so I ended up heading straight for Turks Launches to wait for the boat. As part of the conference, Kingstonfirst had arranged a host of Sunday Experiences that ranged from beauty treatments at Clinique to tapas and cocktail making. I opted for the trip to Hampton Court via a river cruise. Read about my day out at Hampton Court here.


There’s not a huge range of hotel options in Kingston. I chose the most budget option, although at £49 per night the Travelodge wasn’t particularly cheap. There are actually 2 Travelodges in Kingston, just a few hundred metres from each other, which is a bit odd. I stayed at the older Kingston Central hotel. My view was over a multi storey car park. I was wondering around in my underwear when I realised that there were skateboarders yards from my window. I don’t think they could see in! Nevertheless I quickly closed the curtains.

My room was huge but basic as you’d expect. I slept well both nights and wasn’t too bothered by noise. There are definitely more sirens in Kingston than I’m used to. The Cafe Bar at the Travelodge didn’t get any custom from me. I ate out the first night, grabbed a salad and hummus wrap from the kebab shop Saturday night and there was no way I was paying £8 for breakfast. I had a cheap fry up Saturday morning and on Sunday I ate the pot of Oats So Simple porridge I’d brought with me. The joys of in-room tea and coffee making facilities!

The shower was a bit rubbish with a curtain that stuck to you and a shower tray that filled up with water so I had to stand there in the cold for a bit to avoid flooding the bathroom. But overall, it wasn’t bad for the price and the location was excellent.

Getting there

The easiest way to travel to Kingston is probably by train. It’s only half an hour from central London (Waterloo). It’s actually within the London fare zones so you can use your Oyster card, I believe.

Kingston’s centre is compact so you can walk everywhere. I only got the bus back from the uni bar as it was so late, I’d walked there earlier in the evening. Taxis seemed very reasonable. On Saturday we had to get to the Kingston Hill university campus which was about a 15 minute drive. The journey there cost £6 and it was £8 back. Between 3 it was cheaper than the bus.

Kingston as a weekend destination

I’d highly recommend a weekend in Kingston upon Thames. It’s got shopping, culture and nightlife. There are restaurants along the river that would be lovely on a warm, or at least dry, day, a fantastic range of shops and it’s just a stone’s throw from Hampton Court Palace. It’s even got its own cereal cafe. What more could you want?

You Might Also Like

Day out at Hampton Court Palace

By 1 April 2015 Travel

Last Sunday I spent 5 hours at Hampton Court Palace. Even though the weather wasn’t the best (note to self: stop buying £4 umbrellas from Primark!) it was a thoroughly enjoyable place to visit.

Located only half an hour from central London, Hampton Court Palace is probably most famous for being the home of King Henry VIII. As a massive fan of The Tudors and the many Philippa Gregory books set in that period, Hampton Court has been on my list for a long time and there’s no better year to visit as 2015 marks the Palace’s 500th birthday.

Turks Launches

Arriving in style, on Turks Launches, the first glimpse you get is of the baroque East Front facade through the ornate fence. From the pier you can cut straight through into the Palace grounds and head straight to the ticket office. The adult price of £18.20 (when bought online) includes entry to the Palace, gardens, maze and the audio tour. You can even borrow a velvet cloak to wear during your visit so you’re suitably dressed for court. You know, just in case you bump into the king.

Front entrance Hampton Court

The audio guide is really informative and there are multiple options so you can choose in which order you explore Hampton Court Palace and for Henry VIII’s apartments you can have an expert commentary or pretend you’re being shown around by a courtier – that’s the option I chose!

Costumed actors walk the corridors and take part in reenactments. Share a cushion with a stranger (or two small children in my case!) while Henry loses his temper with Cardinal Wolsey who’s failed to find a way to push through his annulment. It’s all very well done.

The huge kitchens were built specifically for roasting meat and are still warmed by roaring fires. Sometimes you’ll find chefs recreating Tudor specialities. Perhaps a pie or two. Did you know that making pies was just another way of cooking meat? The pastry crust was used as the cooking vessel and thrown out once the filling had been eaten.

Once you’ve admired Henry VIII’s fantastic portrait up close, rather than in a textbook, you can see the Royal Pew and cast your eyes on a stunning replica of the King’s jewel-encrusted crown. It really was a thing of beauty, although I can’t imagine how heavy it must have been to wear.

Portrait of King Henry VIII

Did you notice the interpretation ‘board’ next to the portrait? Rather than using paper or wood, the notices next to each painting and artefact are printed on cloth and pinned to the tapestries.

Photos of Henry’s Hampton Court

Henry VIII's Hampton Court

The other side of the Palace is baroque in style and was built by King William III. His lavishly decorated apartments overlook the wonderful privy gardens. There’s also the opportunity to discover the Georgian Story and gain a glimpse into how some of the more ‘recent’ residents of Hampton Court lived.

Hampton Court East Front and Gardens

The gardens are extensive and I was barely able to explore. During the summer, or on a dry day, you could easily spend another couple of hours in the gardens of Hampton Court. There’s the huge deer park, formal gardens, wilderness and the maze. Even if I’d had time, there’s no chance I would have ventured into the maze alone. Last time hubby and I visited Leeds Castle we were lost in the maze for at least half an hour! Going it alone would have likely ended in tears.

Eating at Hampton Court

You can take your own lunch and make use of the outdoor picnic areas or if it’s raining, or you fancy a hot meal, you’ll not be disappointed by the on-site cafes. They’re not cheap mind. I had a tasty venison pie with pea puree (aka mushy peas) and a mug of tea and it cost me nearly a tenner. The Privy Kitchen cafe was rammed at lunchtime on Sunday and it’s not the best laid out but the food was delicious. I’d have taken a photo but I was so starving hungry that it didn’t last long enough!

If you’re anything like me, you’ll end the day with sore feet and aching arms from holding the audio guide up to your ear for hours but you’ll have had an amazing time. It’s a stunning location with so much to see, inside and out. For less than £20 each you really are getting a lot for your money.

I was really lucky and managed to get a complimentary ticket and boat trip thanks to Kingston First as part of the Traverse 15 travel blogger conference held in Kingston Upon Thames. The day out at Hampton Court was one of the Sunday Experiences on offer. Even though I didn’t pay, I believe it’s worth every penny of the entry fee. I would definitely go again and I’ll happily pay full price.

Hampton Court Palace is really accessible for a day out. I would highly recommend a visit.


[gdlr_column size=”1″]

[gdlr_box_icon icon=”fa-car” icon_color=”#4984d5″ icon_position=”left” title=”Getting to Hampton Court Palace” ]
Hampton Court, Surrey, KT8 9AU
Car: Pop the post code above into your sat nav and then when you’re close follow the signs for the car parks. There are two; one on-site and one just over the road on the green. You have to pay hourly for both.
Train: London Waterloo to Hampton Court 35 minutes £13.60 Anytime Return
Bus: 111, 216, 411, 461, 513, 515A, R68
River boat: (April to September) From Westminster, Kingston and Richmond[/gdlr_box_icon]



What do you look for in a day out? Culture, history, or peace and quiet? Tell us in the comments below.

You Might Also Like