Author Archives: Taylorsized

About Taylorsized

I'm a twenty-something female with a heart torn between Hertfordshire in the UK and Alcossebre in Spain. I live with my other half and little Boston Terrier, George. I like to let my mind wander. Most of the time my feet follow. This blog ensues a lifetime of travels: big; small; doorstep; long haul, so I order you to brew a tea and come travel with me. *The little boston features heavily in this blog

Family Camping in the UK with your Canine Companions

For those of you who are cutting the pennies this year, or simply can’t bear travelling without your favourite canine friend, why not consider visiting one of the following campsites? All three have received our seal of approval, and are great places to bring the family along too. There’s still time before the English, er, bad weather sets back in, or maybe this post will help you decide on a short break for 2015:

1. Moon and Sixpence, Woodbridge (Suffolk)
Our favourite by far, this independently-run gem is just 2 miles from Waldringfield Beach, and comprises a 9-hole golf course and its very own private beach and lake. The landscaping is immaculately kept, and we particularly loved the grass-roofed Swiss lodge which housed the central showering facilities.

Picture of the private beach and lake

The private beach and lake (sourced from: http://www.moonandsixpence.eu/activities)

Picture of the scandinavian lodge

Moon and Sixpence Scandinavian Lodge

Pros:
* The site owns 100 acres of woodland where your dog can run free off-lead through the clearly-marked trails
* You can take an inflatable dinghy out onto the lake
* The site is family-friendly, with children allowed in the bar if accompanied by an adult
* There are plenty of activities to keep the whole family entertained
* Very affordable; great value all-round

Cons:
* Dogs must be kept on a lead at all times (for those moments either side of walkies, we suggest investing in one of these)
* Dogs are not allowed on the private beach or in the lake
* No swimming allowed in the lake

Other things to consider:
* The shop on site is fairly small, but has all the basics you might need whilst touring
* The site operates a ‘quiet essential’ policy after 9pm

In a nutshell:
Though a little on the quiet side, this campsite is perfect for a peaceful family getaway; that’s children, pups, and your nan included.

 

We rate it: 5/5
Visit the website here: http://www.moonandsixpence.eu/

2. Searles Leisure Resort, Hunstanton (Norfolk)

For somewhere a little more lively (okay, so you compromise on beautiful surroundings a little), Searles is a great place to visit with your beloved four-legged friends. The campsite is located directly next to the beach, and a short 20-minute walk along the promenade leads you into Hunstanton itself; cue chip-shop chips and dizzy fairground fun. Along with ample-sized pitches, the site is pleasing to the eye complete with a little river than runs through the centre. There is plenty of entertainment for the little ones, and bingo for the gamblers among us (perfectly slotted in-between the children’s games and disco, so no need to allocate one of the teenagers to babysit baby Tom back at the caravan).

Picture of the outdoor pool area at Searles

Outdoor pool area at Searles

Pros:
* The on-site entertainment was hilarious (possibly for all the wrong reasons)
* A short walk and you are directly on the sandy beach, or straight into Hunstanton

Cons:
* A lot livelier than Moon and Sixpence; most of the activities and facilities are there for the purpose of entertaining the children
* The entertainment venue gets very full, very quickly; arrive early to claim your table space

Other things to consider:
* Time your trip right, and the dogs can run free off-lead (check seasonal restrictions)

In a nutshell:
Good, busy fun for all the family, especially if you have children. We loved the breezy dusk beach walks with our gaggle of dogs.

 

We rate it: 4/5
Visit the website here: http://www.searles.co.uk/

3. Hoburne, Bashley (New Forest, Hampshire)
A moderately-sized campsite that facilitates the whole family. We didn’t rate the entertainment as much here, but was seemingly impressed with the quiet touring area and semi-private pitches separated with neat hedges. The site actively promotes recycling too, which gets the big thumbs-up from us. You can’t walk anywhere very easily, but if you have a car you can reach Bournmouth in less than 40 minutes, or for a shorter journey, head to Barton-on-Sea where you can spend the day milling along the beach beneath the cliff sailers.

Beach huts photo

Take a stroll along the bottom of the cliffs by the colourful beach huts

Or watch the cliff sailers take off from up top

Or watch the cliff sailers take off from up top

Spring-time is perfect to let your furry one roam off-lead

Spring-time is perfect to let your furry one roam off-lead (photo courtesy of George the Boston!)

Some beautiful, summery sights to be seen

Some beautiful, summery sights to be seen

Pros:
* A top beachy destination that isn’t overrun with sunbathers
* Beautiful surroundings and a choice of towns to visit, each with something different to offer
* Neat, ample-sized pitches in a quiet touring area

Cons:
* Entertainment was a little less-than-par on site. It was okay, but nothing more than that.
* Its a shingle beach, so not too kind on the toes

In a nutshell:
A beautiful, calm coastal area with great walks on top of and beneath the cliffs at Barton-on-Sea. The beach huts make for some great photos; we will definitely be returning!

We rate it: 4/5
Visit the website here: http://www.hoburne.com/park-details/hoburne-bashley

 

“What campsite should I never consider going to?”

Naze Marine Holiday Park, Walton-On-The-Naze (Essex)

Not worthy of a photograph, as we stayed for all of 2 hours before packing up and making the hour-and-a-half journey home. The site was full of travellers throwing their four week old inbred puppies into the air, and parking your campervan was a free-for-all in the touring area. With no separate pitches, those in the ‘community’ would just walk right up to your window and nose straight in. Repeatedly. Curtains firmly closed. Doors securely locked.

In three words:
Intrusive, really-buggering-noisy, just-plain-awful

Categories: Thoughts, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Journey Into Personal Training

If you’re someone like me who loves nothing more than a fat curry on a Friday night, you might be thinking that venturing into the world of Personal Training is definitely NOT for you.

I thought this too, until I actually got my butt off the sofa and, well, had a personal training session at Amor LC (based in Hertfordshire, check them out!). Now this wasn’t voluntary – I had won this prize for hard work in a couple of my classes, and was reluctant to go. Let’s just say I’d heard a few vom-inducing scare stories…

So I took everything with me, including 2 litres of water (which I soon enough learned was not nearly enough) and went to meet my PT, Jim, at the gym. Jim’s gym. Gym run by Jim. You get it.

The hour flies by; boxing, loads of weights, ’21 challenge’ (where one person does 21 reps, then the second person does 21, then 20, then 19 and so on) and a 3-minute rowing challenge that left me feeling queasy and shaking to the core.

Since that date I’ve had 2 more PT sessions, as well as keeping up Zumba and Pilates classes twice a week, and have already started noticing a difference in fitness levels; I recently beat my personal best on the 3 minute rowing challenge and completed it without flagging in the middle like the first time. As much as I DESPISE the rower, I feel good for beating my PB (though I was 1 meter off my new target which was ANNOYING).

So what I’m getting at in this post is that everyone should give it a go; find a PT who will tailor a programme for you specifically, to help you smash your own personal goals. I find that a PT who is encouraging, takes interest in me as a person rather than just money-making and who injects some humour into the session is well worth the time and money.

Zumba class with Nicole @ Amor LC

Zumba class with Nicole @ Amor LC


This is the company who I have taken a membership out with, and they are amazing! Through them I have developed a real love for fitness:
www.amorlc.co.uk
Amor LC Facebook

Based in Herts, UK.

Categories: About, Blog, Exercise, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Abtastic April: A Can-Do Attitude, Diet Swaps and… Fitness Testing

Are You Happy

Abtastic April is, I can proudly say on day 3, going WELL. I’ve woken up this morning more awake than usual, and I’m intrigued to know whether it’s due to me not eating dinner after class, as opposed to before.

Day 2: Kick-started my 7am working day with a smoothie (2 x bananas/skimmed milk/handful of porridge oats/honey), had leftover gnocchi with veg for lunch, and a quick scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast before heading out to classes, and a handful of grapes after. I also probably had around 5 cups of tea… (shhh… one herbal, all is well).

Fitness: 1 hour of Pilates followed by 1 hour of Zumba.

So in the morning I had to run between work and the sandwich shop down the road (brewing, not chewing!) and resisted every type of sandwich/bacon combo sandwich that the rest of the public were enjoying. I work in an office, in a job I love, but it leaves little for the legs to do. This is why I love going to Amor LC classes in the evening, and have found a real love to fitness this past year.

My weaknesses here I would say are the 5 cups of tea (granted only small ones, but the caffeine can’t be that good… will aim to have only 3 a day, and possibly fill in the gaps with some Twinings herbal) and the lack of vegetables, so across the next few days I will aim to improve that. My issue is that I suffer with acid reflux, and it has taken me ages to find something I can eat that doesn’t give me heartburn whilst working out. In the end I found that scrambled eggs on wholemeal toast was enough to sustain me without filling me right up, and it’s fairly bland so prevents any acid reflux.

The food and fitness plan for Day 3 is the usual smoothie, vegetable stir fry for lunch with some grapes for afternoon snack, scrambled eggs on wholemeal and a 75 minute fitness test this evening… gulp!

Here’s a neat little food-swap article that you might enjoy if you’re struggling to lose weight but feel as if you are doing all the right things: http://www.womensfitness.co.uk/news/726/healthy-eating-guidelines

Hello abs.

 

 

 

Categories: About, Blog, Exercise, Thoughts, Yum | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Start of ‘Abtastic April’

Image

My lovely Aunty Claire’s wedding is on 3rd May, giving me just under 5 weeks to pack in as many classes as I can. There’s nothing like naming a month to keep you on track and to give you a little reminder as to why you are doing it. 

This month is ‘Abtastic April’, a little mission which me and Jules are embarking on. So our little abtastic approach includes, well, cutting out the crap and packing in some punch. Today  has gone pretty well, took it easy with a half hour brisk walk with Osc, ate muesli/smoothie/scrambled eggs on wholegrain toast/homemade gnocchi bolognese and finished up the day with a quick 15-min pilates ab session and a lemon, ginger and honey tea.

The plan for tomorrow: Smoothie for brekkie, leftover gnocchi for lunch, scrambled eggs on wholegrain for dins and a post-workout smoothie. Tomorrow’s workout: One hour of zumba and one hour of pilates.

Resisted a creme egg, homemade scones and coconut cake. 

Ciao!

Categories: Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Trek America Mountain Trail, Day 2-3: Yellowstone National Park

DAY 2

As we were soon to suss out, this trip is all about the rise and shine! We were on the road by 7am, and on the road to a place we couldn’t wait to see – Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone was the first ever National Park in America, and home to grizzlies, elk, eagles and buffalo to name but a few. It is also an active super volcano, with the magma being only 3 miles beneath the surface.

Yellowstone is beautiful. We had a clear, sunny day and set off to visit Old Faithful, named so due to its regular eruptions (every 91 minutes). We didn’t have to wait long, so we wondered around the tourist centre for a little while then found a nice spot to watch the eruption.

Old Faithful Geyser

Old Faithful Geyser

Old Faithful's eruption

Old Faithful’s eruption

The iron compounds in the rocks cause them to be gorgeous red and yellow colours. The smell of sulphur is really strong here. If you walk around a little bit, you can find black trees with white bases, called ‘Bobby Sock Trees’. This is where the trees have drawn up water and left mineral deposits, leaving the tree with ‘white socks’. On our walk we unexpectedly caught another geyser go off too:

The geyser we weren't expecting

The geyser we weren’t expecting

The gorgeous yellow stone; it doesn't smell as good as it looks, though...

The gorgeous yellow stone; it doesn’t smell as good as it looks, though…

Pretty sure I cut my hand doing this

Pretty sure I cut my hand doing this

Keeping our eye out for osprey, but had no luck...

Keeping our eye out for osprey, but had no luck…

DAY 3

Today we’ve been elk and bison spotting. Still no sight of Osprey or moose though (or bears for that matter). We took a hike along the North Rim Trail, past Inspiration Point. The views of the rockface and the falls were just gorgeous, as well as the infamous yellow stone (though apparently the park isn’t named after this, but in fact by the yellow sandstone which was found alongside the Yellowstone river some few hundred miles north of the park).

The group, ready for our North Rim Trail hike

The group, ready for our North Rim Trail hike

After our hike, we were driven to a little secluded area, and told to get our swim kits on. A short 10 minute hike down the road led to ‘The Boiling River’, which is exactly what it says on the tin. The Boiling River runs alongside Gardner River, and where the 2 meet creates a spa-like relaxation area in the river where it was the perfect hot-meets-cold temperature. Bliss!

Rocks have been placed to trap the cold water from the Gardner River and the hot water from the Boiling River, creating a perfect bath-like temperature in-between

Rocks have been placed to trap the cold water from the Gardner River and the hot water from the Boiling River, creating a perfect bath-like temperature in-between

We took another walk to see some hot springs and more geysers, and we saw the most amazing thing. Most of the group followed the path down from the top to the bottom, but 2 of us decided that we wouldn’t make it to the bottom without going to the bathroom first… Jules came with me to keep me company. So our guide drove us down to the bottom where we could stop for a toilet break, and then we could walk up from the bottom to meet the group halfway. On the way down, we were lucky enough to watch a full grown bison cross the road right in front of our van! This, for me, was an absolute highlight of the trip.

Massive. Amazing. Woah.

Massive. Amazing. Woah.

Working out why it's formed as steps rather than a slope...

Working out why it’s formed as steps rather than a slope…

Luckily the second night in the tent wasn’t as cold as the first night, but the ground at the campsite was really hard to sleep on – ouch! Not much sleep for us. I started to get bruised in very strange places… The mornings were bitterly cold. It felt like winter.

We also had to hide all our food in bear bins so that the bears weren’t encouraged to shred our tents and ingest every human around. This included things like toothpaste and even plastic water bottles. Welcome to ‘Bear Country’!

Welcome to Bear Country

You might wanna check out…
Trek America Mountain Trail, Day 1: Seattle to Montana

Next Up:
Trek America Mountain Trail, Day 4-5: Jackson and Grand Teton National Park

Things we learned along the way:
* Always try to have cash on you, as there’s not always a cash point to hand. You’ll have to pay for your excursions a few days in advance to your guide.
* Don’t be fooled because it is summer – if you are camping, there are going to be some COLD nights! Take a pair of gloves (mainly for the chilly early starts) and some thermals. Oh how I wish I had bought my thermals…
* Be aware that each tour guide is different. This was Jules’ second trip and the first time around the tour guide made sure that everyone always had bottled water. This one didn’t, so make sure you keep topped up!
* Be aware that you are expected to tip tour guides, bartenders, waiters and any other persons offering you a service in America. Although this is common knowledge, it isn’t something I’ve ever been aware of before. A good guide is $1 per every alcoholic drink, and a little more for other services (a cab ride, for example, around $5).

Sources:
Trek America Mountain Trail
Yellowstone National Park

Categories: About, Blog, The Experience Project, Thoughts, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Trek America Mountain Trail, Day 1: Seattle to Montana

First and foremost, I just want to say how much hassle-free our trip ended up being by choosing to explore these places through Trek America. We came to realise just how many things we wouldn’t have seen if we didn’t have the knowledge of a guide. I’d heard good things about Trek America (for those in their 20s especially) and weighed up the cons vs the pros and decided that the money was worth it. It was also an absolute blessing have someone do all the driving for you, and not having to worry about planning routes and travelling all that way in the driver’s seat; personally I can’t think of anything worse!

Travelling in our decked-out minibus

Travelling in our decked-out minibus

So, the Trek America Mountain Trail journey starts in Seattle, travels through some some beautiful scenery and national parks, finishing with a night in Vegas and a day in LA.

The Mountain Trail... trail

The Mountain Trail… trail

We got up early on Day 1 ready to meet everyone in the lobby of the Clarion for ridiculous o clock (7.30am). We managed to grab some breakfast and then, of course, we were the last people down as we’re unorganised and, well, just always late. But no matter! We filled out a few forms and handed over our kitty money ($10 per day = $140 for 2 weeks) and packed our luggage into the trailer (who was called Shaniqua, of course).

Packing our bags into 'Shaniqua' the trailer...

Packing our bags into ‘Shaniqua’ the trailer…

After this we played a few introductory games in the car park so we could learn each others’ names. We came to realise that, between us, we had formed a fairly mature and friendly group – we also came to realise that this wasn’t always a day-to-day thing with Trek America! (See Vegas post – coming soon).

We spent the best part of the day just driving on Day 1. This took us on a 500 mile journey across Washington, through Idaho and into Montana for the night. On the way we stopped off in the middle of nowhere (couldn’t even tell you what state we were in, sorry!) and came across these:

Stepped straight out of Vogue.

Stepped straight out of Vogue. Shame about the graffiti!

We stayed at a KOA campsite in America, which had a pool, toilets, free showers and other general amenities. We are booked on the camping version of this trip, so of course learned how to set up camp tonight in pairs (I was with Jules) and cooked our first meal of hot dogs and corn-on-the-cob on the grill. It was a COLD night! Me and Jules had invested in a double sleeping bag, so luckily the warmth from both our bodies kept us fairly snug in the night, but we still donned socks, joggers, multiple t-shirts and hoodies. I started to wonder why it was colder than England during September! It was around -1 (degrees C), so not that warm for summer. AT ALL.

On this particular Trek America tour, you are paired up and given duties to do each night on a rotation basis. So on the first night me and charlotte cooked, then the second we washed up the dishes, the third we cleaned out the van etc… yes, it’s a bit of a chore but not too much of a bother, and when you’re saving over $600 by camping, it’s worth it.

You might wanna check out…
Trek America Mountain Trail, Day 2-3: Yellowstone National Park


Things we learned along the way:

* Always try to have cash on you, as there’s not always a cash point to hand. You’ll have to pay for your excursions a few days in advance to your guide.
* Don’t be fooled because it is summer – if you are camping, there are going to be some COLD nights! Take a pair of gloves (mainly for the chilly early starts) and some thermals. Oh how I wish I had bought my thermals…
* Be aware that each tour guide is different. This was Jules’ second trip and the first time around the tour guide made sure that everyone always had bottled water. This one didn’t, so make sure you keep topped up!
* Be aware that you are expected to tip tour guides, bartenders, waiters and any other persons offering you a service in America. Although this is common knowledge, it isn’t something I’ve ever been aware of before. A good guide is $1 per every alcoholic drink, and a little more for other services (a cab ride, for example, around $5).

Sources:
KOA Campsites
Trek America Mountain Trail

Categories: About, Blog, The Experience Project, Thoughts, Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why Twinings Should be a Legal Requirement

Feel a million dollars

instaHappy

There is nothing that will put the world to rights better than a cup of Twinings. Worried about your Mum’s cat you forgot to feed? Accidentally keyed a car? Broke someone’s legs by driving a go kart into them?

Don’t worry. Chillax. Have a cuppa.

 

Categories: About, Blog, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Our 2 Year Anniversary at Center Parcs, Sherwood Forest

It’s crazy to think that just over 2 years ago I was walking around wondering if being hit by a car was more likely than running into the man of my dreams.

Despite all odds, I went on a date where, even after leaving my keys in the car and letting the radio drain my battery down in London , leaving me no choice but to be rescued by my Dad (blah blah, extremely funny but BAD luck on first date etc…), that man decided to stick around and see what other kind of disasters I had to offer. And boy am I glad he did!

The weekend of 29th Dec (that really awkward time between Xmas & New Year where it’s nearly impossible to book anywhere), I was whisked away to Center Parcs where we stayed in an Executive Lodge for 2 nights! I was so excited to get away, and just recovering from the flu, so our spa day couldn’t come quick enough. The Aqua Sana spa was just gorgeous. There’s a whole host of different spa treatment rooms, from an Indian Blossom Steam Room (one of my favs), Greek Herbal Bath spa, Japanese Salt Steam Bath to a laconium, a thermal pool under the stars and relaxation rooms. Before we checked in for our spa experience, we went in for a Garra Rufa fish spa, something I still hadn’t tried since it became popular here. It is ridiculously tickly at first and then develops into a really nice sensation, and it was so weird watching the fish sucking on your toes! I loved it.

Garra Rufa fish having a nibble

Garra Rufa fish having a nibble

Noms

Noms

Then we got changed into those white robes, and booked in a time for our antipasti plater & champagne, which was part of our spa experience. We spent hours just migrating from room to room, relaxing and messing around in the pool. It was absolute bliss! Towards the end we headed into the Zilli cafe for our antipasti platters (really yummy – salami, parma ham, rustic breads w/ oil & balsamic & roasted peppers), took some silly pics & made an attempt at leaving to go get ready for our meal out.

Center parcs 3 Center parcs 4

Our sexy robes!

Our sexy robes!

We decided on Cafe Rouge for dinner, and had such a nice dinner with a few glasses of wine & a little platter of desserts. It was such a lovely evening! And then I think I mixed too many drinks (wines, milkshakes, tea…) and was randomly sick back at the lodge. Woops!! Then I was fine. Odd.

Woops, mixed my wines...

Woops, mixed my wines…

The next day we had a cheeky lie in and then milled around the village, did a little shopping and just enjoyed spending some quality time with each other and not having to stress about anything back home. We popped out in the day to Tesco to get some food in, and I was left to chill on the sofa with a massive cuppa whilst my amazing Jules cooked my fav dins ever (chicken stuffed with mango & brie, wrapped in proscuitto in white wine and onion sauce, potatoes, asparagus & cherry tomatoes – if you’ve never had this, do it and don’t look back!).

Milling around in the rain

Milling around in the rain, bath-bomb in hand!

After 4 mugs of tea on Sunday morning, we headed home after a blissful weekend. Jules, thanks for such a good time. Wish I was back there right now! What would I do without you…

The happiest 2 years xx

Categories: About, Thoughts, Yum | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

2013, New Year’s Resolutions and New Goals

2012 for me was a fantastic year. My resolution for last year was to try as many new things possible, and by branching away from my comfort zone I achieved some very different and exciting things! This blog needs a LOT of updating – it has been neglected for a little while – but this should be done soon!

2013 for me is a year to build on what I started last year, and to take on a new venture as well – to get fit and improve my wellbeing. This is quite a common New Year’s Resolution, but last year I discovered a new company – or rather my amazing zumba instructor merged with a couple of others to form a new Lifestyle Coaching company – which I have fallen in love with. The classes and attention is really personal, the coaches are so motivational and it is such good value for money. If you live in the Hertfordshire area (UK), check out http://www.amorlc.co.uk and I promise you won’t be disappointed.

My fitness journey continues tonight, the first class of 2013, with Legs, Bums & Tums and then Zumba Toning & Fitness Pilates will follow tomorrow. Bring it on!

So for now, I will think about how to tackle the mammoth task of blogging my travels in a neat and concise way (the complete opposite of the actual travels) and will stop procrastinating at work. Yes, another thing that needs tackling for 2013 – woops!

Wishing you all a fantastic new year. Make it worthwhile!

Charlie x

Charlie and oscy headshot

Categories: Blog, The Experience Project, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Meet the Degus – Bella and Pippin!

After approximately one year of begging to myself for degus, I went out and, well… here they are!

Meet Bella and Pippin, two gorgeous little girls I bought when they were around 6 weeks old.

Here’s a few cute snaps of the cheekies:

Oscy and Bella on the lookout

Bella and Pips having a snuggle

Pip-a-Dip

The Bella-saur

Munchies

Err… you alright there Pippin?

Hey there.

Categories: About, Blog, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com. The Adventure Journal Theme.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 224 other followers