Saturday, 26 November 2016

Christmas List 2016

As Christmas is soon going to be upon us, Adam and his family have been asking for Christmas ideas from me.
I recently read about Konmari - the decluttering method which involves only keeping items that spark joy so this year it's been very difficult to pick items to go on my Christmas list. Not because the items I've chosen in the past are unwanted but just that I don't feel I need so many 'things' anymore.

But here are a few of the items I'm hoping for this year:

The Little Book of Hygge: The Danish Way to Live Well by Meik Wiking

I have read The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell on my Kindle this year and living in Denmark sounds nice and snuggly in the Winter so I would quite like to find out a little bit more about what Hygge is all about and hopefully bring a little of that cosiness into our home this winter.

One of the reviewers said this is the best book about Hygge they've read and at the time of writing it's number one on Amazon in the Health, Family and Lifestyle Self Help section.

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying: A simple, effective way to banish clutter forever by Marie Kondo

Just over a year ago we moved house and it made me realise I just have too much stuff. Stuff that doesn't make me happy. Stuff that if it wasn't there I wouldn't miss it. Stuff that if it was gone would make my house tidier and just give me that little breath of air that comes with not having too much clutter. 
Since then, I've joined a Facebook group called Konmari UK and Ireland whose members regularly ask questions and help each other out about following the principle of 'Does it spark joy?'

I haven't actually read the book and have just been doing little bits of decluttering here and there - my clothes have been halved this year. Lots have gone to the charity shop. So it would be good to read everything about this principle properly. 

The Wonderful Weekend Book: Reclaiming Life's Simple Pleasures by Elspeth Thompson

I found this book this morning on Amazon and it looks intriguing. I generally spend my weekends watching films and tv, doing ASDA shopping, cleaning the house a little, DIY and ironing. Nothing too exciting or fun. So I'm interested in seeing what ideas this book has to offer me to make my weekends fun again. 

Hopefully this may give you some ideas for Christmas.

Can you think of anything else in this vein that I might enjoy for Christmas?

Rebecca x

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Thursday, 3 November 2016

Ibis Hotel and The Griffin pub, Carlisle

We decided that our journey to Scotland was going to be too much to do in one go so we came up with the idea of stopping overnight on the way. We chose to stay in Carlisle and found the ibis hotel a suitable location. It was dog friendly and a decent price. Being only a 2 star hotel, I was a little apprehensive but thought that it was just going to be one night.

Well, I was pleasantly surprised. We had a lovely stay there.

Parking was free (use postcode CA1 1NS which brings you to a car park directly behind the hotel) and easy to find. Apparently Botchergate where the ibis is located, is closed at night anyway. We just had to let the reception know our number plate.

We were warmly welcomed when we got in the hotel. We had already paid for our room and just needed to pay the £10 for Freddie.

Our room was on the second floor which we accessed via the lift. It was facing the Vue cinema on Botchergate. There was a note with some ear plugs in the room and I was a little worried that we might have a noisy night ahead of us but we had a great night’s sleep and weren’t disturbed by anything.

The room was a good size. It had an ensuite with a really good sized shower. We were provided with a tray with coffee, teabags, milk and sugar. There was also a hair dryer and the curtains were blackout, which was great.

Everything was lovely and clean.

The bed was big but for me it needed to be a little softer. It was only a thin mattress and I found it difficult to get comfy at first. I find it easy to get to sleep so it didn’t bother me for long.

The next morning

We decided to find somewhere outside the hotel to have breakfast so we could see a little of Carlisle. Just up the street on Botchergate, heading right out of the front door of the hotel, we found The Griffin. A lovely pub that lets dogs in, just not on the carpet. We were also warmly welcomed here. Maybe it’s a Carlisle thing.

We ordered two big cooked breakfasts and two orange juices and it came to just over £16. They even gave us some dog biscuits for Freddie and a bowl of water.

The food was delicious. There were two sausages, two rashers of bacon, two hash browns, toast, fried eggs, baked beans and half a grilled tomato. It also comes with mushrooms but I don’t like them so I can’t comment on them. I had one of Adam's half tomatoes as he's not keen on them. 

The Griffin has been recently refurbished and looks great. It had lots of muted tartan fabrics on the chairs and tasteful knick knacks on the walls. It had a very cosy, modern and Scottish feel about it. 

Overall we found Carlisle very welcoming and enjoyed the ibis hotel and the food at The Griffin.

We didn’t see much else of Carlisle. What did we miss?

Rebecca x

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Cologne, Germany - Chocolate Factory and visiting on a day when there are protests

Back at the end of July we headed over to Düsseldorf in Germany for a few days to celebrate my birthday. 

We decided in advance that on the Sunday we would travel by train to Cologne and spend the day there. Well, that wasn't the best decision we made as when we arrived there were masses of police and police vehicles; statues were barricaded in so you couldn't climb on them and we were advised by the tourist information office to avoid certain areas at different points of the day.

We had arrived on the one day of the year when Turkish people were showing their support or protesting against Erdogan and it also meant that Germany's far right decided to show up too. So it was packed. 

It did put a bit of a dampener on the day and we weren't able to go up one of the skyscrapers as it was too close to one of the demos. But we did visit the Chocolate Museum, the cathedral and had a walk down by the Rhine. 

Cologne Chocolate Museum

I love chocolate and especially Lindt but since becoming lactose intolerant I've not had quite as much. I'm quite half-hearted about my intolerance - I do just eat food with lactose in if A) it's delicious or B) it's easier than faffing around or not having anything at all. I have recently bought some lactase tablets for it but that's another story. 

Anyway, we arrived at the museum and were straight in. Adult tickets were 9 Euros each which I thought was quite reasonable. I had been looking at the guided tours they do but prices start from 60 Euros each so we gave that a miss. 

The museum has exhibitions which you walk through on a kind of trail so you just follow the signs. There is lots of information on how cacao is farmed; how chocolate bars are made; and facts about chocolate. You get to see machines going through each process and there are handy information plaques in German and English. 

At one point you can go into the rainforest room which is very humid. 

My favourite bit was when we got to taste some chocolate. There was a little queue in front of a man in a chef's uniform by a tree of golden eggs. It turned out to be a chocolate fountain. You got two wafers with melting chocolate on. Delicious! 

Later on you were also given the opportunity to get your own personalised chocolate bar made with the ingredients of your own choice. This was for an extra cost and there was a bit of a waiting time here. 

Further round the exhibition, you got to see different moulds that the chocolate factory has used in the past to make the different products and there were examples of products they've designed. 

I also got to have my photo taken with a Milka cow and we saw the Lindt bunny rabbit. 

And obviously at the end there is a shop and cafe with a very wide variety of chocolatey products. 

It was a lovely informative way of passing the afternoon and the wafts of a chocolately aroma were a delight. 

The chocolate museum is located basically on the river Rhine and we walked to the roof afterwards and had a lovely view up the river.

The cathedral was next on our list and as you can see from the picture of me in the railway station, the cathedral is pretty enormous. It's just outside the station and you can go inside for free and climb the south tower for views of the city. We decided not to climb the 533 steps that day as it was quite warm. 

Do you have any other recommendations of what to do when in Cologne?

Rebecca x

Thursday, 13 October 2016

What to take with you on a caravan holiday

So, I'm sat here, thinking about our upcoming holiday to Scotland.

We'll be staying in a static caravan in Ayrshire on the coast. Many of our holidays recently have been to caravans and we've started to compile a list in our heads of things we need to take as quite often we've gotten there and realised we've forgotten something vital; We now have far too many tea towels.

I've split them into categories.

Kitchen - Food

Salt, vinegar, ketchup, tea bags and caster sugar.

Kitchen - Non-food

tea towel(s). oven gloves, foil, clingfilm, bin bags, food bags, washing up liquid, sponges, cloths, cleaning spray.


bath towels, hand towels, toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, shower gel, shampoo, a couple of toilet rolls in case of emergency, hand soap, bath mat


Hairdryer, spare blankets, bed sheets, Kindle, charger

Travel & Out and About

Sat nav, map, itinerary, camera, tripod, charger, rucksack


Bed, towel, jacket, lead, collar, bowls, place mat, food, toys


winter coat, rain coat, waterproof trousers, wellies, walking boots and socks, ear muffs, hat, gloves, and as many other clothes and shoes as you can fit in the car!


hot water bottle, dressing gown, address of caravan site. phone charger

I hope this helps you.

If you can think of anything else to add, please comment below. :-)

Rebecca x

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Hotel Sir and Lady Astor Review - Düsseldorf, Germany

This summer we travelled to Düsseldorf for my birthday. We spent three days there and stayed in the Sir Astor Hotel. 

The hotel has two buildings. Sir Astor, where we stayed, and Lady Astor, which is just across the road. Guests from Lady Astor come to Sir Astor for breakfast. 


On arrival we were greeted in a very friendly manner. I even got to try my German out but when the man realised that Adam couldn't understand, he reverted to English. 

We were too early to check in but were able to sort out our bags in the office behind the reception desk and freshen up in the guest toilet and then leave our bags in the entrance hall until check-in time. 

When we arrived back later on, we were given the Wifi code and our room key and used the lift to get to our room. We were staying in a black and white themed room, possibly zebra theme. 

The Room

Our room included a desk and chair, a TV and an ensuite shower room. The curtains were floor to ceiling black velvet and felt and looked really luxurious. The room was cleaned every day and they left little cakes for us in a glass jar. There was also good storage space for us.

The Ensuite

The ensuite was stocked with toiletries for us to use and a hairdryer, which was a godsend as I really hadn't wanted to lug mine from England. The only thing about the shower was that it was a huge step up to get into it so not ideal for people with limited mobility. Other than that, the shower was nice and hot.


Breakfast every day was served in the breakfast room in Sir Astor with views out to the garden. Some people even ate their breakfasts on the decking outside when the weather was good. We were able to order hot food such as bacon and eggs along with hot drinks when we arrived and then it was a buffet for the cold food like yogurt, fruit, German cakes, breads etc. It was delicious and really set us up for the day.  They were also able to cater for my lactose intolerance as they had lactose-free milk.

I hadn't booked breakfast for us when I booked the room as I wanted to see what it was like. We ended up having breakfast there every day as it was just so good and we were able to pay for them on check-out.


The hotel was a 10 minute walk from the railway station and then a further 25 minutes into the centre. I felt this was not ideal but I'm sure you could order taxis from reception and there were public transport bus and tram stops not too far away. 

It is located within the city so we didn't think the view would be all that good so we were pleasantly surprised when we found we could see the cute hotel garden from our room. The rest of the view was of car parks and apartment blocks.

Overall the hotel was lovely; the room, the breakfasts and the staff. It really helped make our trip to Düsseldorf.

If you want to see what we got up to in Düsseldorf, click here.

Rebecca x