Holiday in France

August holiday in France

We are just back from 8 nights in France. A dream of a holiday, we will definitely be going back more often. We used Le Shuttle (Euro tunnel) and took the car over. It was only £180 return and we used our Tesco points to pay for the train. We booked a lovely little Airbnb Chateau de la Trousse over there, which had an outside heated pool. The Airbnb at Chateau de la Trouse (read more on wiki about the history of the place) was around £450 for all of us for the 8 nights, slightly more than we normally pay, but had the draw of a heated pool and 40 acres of land to explore. It is a truly stunning stately home (castle). Our studio apartment was in the converted stables. Perfect for us as we don't spend a lot of time in the room/ hotel.

Our time in France was spent mostly in the Champagne region, but with a few days visiting Paris and Troyes. My daughter really wanted to go up the Eiffel tower! Which I later discovered was because of her favourite cartoon miraculous is set there! She wasn't bothered about Disneyland, so we gave that a miss.

Troyes is a magical place, built in the 16th century. We parked up and went straight to the tourist information centre where we got a walking tour of the place. Easy to follow triangles on the paths to follow. Every street on the map had beautiful old buildings on it. Amazing place to visit.

Things to think about when driving over to France:

Car kit- warning triangle, yellow jackets, spare headlight bulbs, reflectors on highlights.
Toll roads- We got an emovis tag for the car.
Paris air quality sticker.
Extra car insurance.
Learning French! Sortie is exit! Very important on the motorway.
Turn off speed camera alerts.
Airbnb- Check all reviews and look on Google maps/ trip adviser.
Book on the credit card for extra security.

Have you tried Airbnb? Sign up with my link and you will get up to £34 off your first trip.

Driving onto the train - Le shuttle.
Inside the train!
Lizards everywhere at our Airbnb
La boulangerie
umm... French cheese!
General mangin observation tower
General mangin observation tower
Eiffel tower
Grape vines in Champagne region.
Grape vines in Champagne region.
16th century Troyes
Walking tour - 16th century Troyes
Follow the triangles! Walking tour of 16th century Troyes
16th century Troyes
16th century Troyes
Château de la Trousse
Sunset over Château de la Trousse.


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Guest Blog - Honeymoon in Vietnam - Week 2

Guest blog by Andy Dane Photography 

Our second week in Vietnam started on the night train to Nha Trang, it was comfortable and left Saigon station on time, although it was around an hour late by the time we got to Nha Trang (they'd told us this would be the case when we bought the tickets). The rooms in the soft sleeper had 4 soft beds in, and were air-conditioned, they were a little cramped but comfortable enough to get some sleep in and the views when I woke up were beautiful. Shame the windows didn't open, as I'd have liked to have got some decent photographs from there, but there was no way to avoid the reflection in the windows.

Nha Trang was the first really commercial place we'd seen in Vietnam. The hotels along the beach were all big international brands. Best Western, Intercontinental and the like. They controlled all of the sun loungers and the price of them reflected as much! The beach also had quite a lot of discarded bottle tops and plastic wrappers laying around, which was a little disappointing.

So, we didn't spend much time on the beach, instead we went for a walk through the city, had some amazing street food and then headed to the Long Son Pagoda. The pagoda is beautiful, and there are monks resident there, so you get to see them going about their daily business.

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Guest Blog - Honeymoon in Vietnam - Week 1

Original post my husband, Andy Smith-Dane at Andy Dane Photography


We got married on 8th June and then jetted off to Vietnam for three weeks. We flew into Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and then out of Hanoi, so we got to see a lot of the country.

We saw so much, and I took so many photos, that putting it all in one blog just seemed a bit silly. So I'll be splitting it up into three blogs covering each week.

Vietnam is amazing, the people are incredibly friendly and the scenery is just stunning. Although parts of it are slightly insane, crossing the road will never be the same again!

We spent the first couple of days just wandering around Ho Chi Minh City and getting acclimatised to the weather, it was *hot*, high 30's degree C, combined with a humidity of around 90% and there was just no escape from it unless you were in an air-conditioned room. The streets were constantly buzzing with life, from street sellers and motorbike-taxi's to just people going about their everyday business, the streets just hummed.

Crossing the road was interesting, nobody stops, you just have to walk through the sea of motorbikes as they dodge and weave around you. You soon get the hang of it though, and by the second day, we were hardly hesitating at all.

We found a lovely little playground for Jessica to have some fun in and burn off some energy, and she quickly made friends with some of the Vietnamese kids. Language barriers just don't exist when you're 3.

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Then after a couple of nights in the city, we were picked up by our tour guide for a 3-day tour of the Mekong Delta.

The Mekong Delta covers a huge area of southern Vietnam, there are masses of paddy fields between the rivers and a thriving fishing community. We spent a couple of days alternating between buses and river boats to explore the area. We saw them making sweets from coconuts, husking rice and making rice cakes and several fishing farms (which are just under people's houses!)


The Cai Rang Floating Market was amazing, mainly wholesalers selling on to shopkeepers and the like, all of the big boats gather together in the river and the smaller vessels approach you with their wares as you circle around them. Loads of fresh fruit, hot noodles soup and cold drinks on offer, be prepared to haggle though, as the initial price you're offered is probably far over the market value. While it might still seem cheap to us, paying over the odds damages the economy of Vietnam. It was a great experience seeing all of the different generations of people working together on the floating markets, and the fruit they were selling was all lovely.

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Jessica coped with it all remarkably well considering the heat and change in diet. She made a few friends on the tour of the Mekong Delta and I think she was a little sad when we went our separate ways.

After the tour, we had a few hours to grab some dinner in Ho Chi Minh before we got our first train of the honeymoon. An overnight soft-sleeper train from Saigon to Nha Trang. Booking the tickets was simple enough and the train was really comfortable, nice soft beds and air conditioning.

But that was the end of our first week, so I'll leave it there and continue in another blog for the second week of the honeymoon - Nha Trang, Whale Island, Hoi An and Hue.



Long weekend in Germany

We are just back from a long weekend in Germany. We stayed with my friend Francie who I had met while scuba diving in Australia. Francie kindly put us up for a few days, so we only had the flights to pay for. I have been very lucky to meet lots of amazing people on my travels around the world.

Leipzig in Germany was absolutely lovely and great to recharge the batteries after doing loads of wedding packages recently at my Norwich beauty salon. Lots of eyelash extensions and gel nails for their big days! Summer months are always really busy with holidays and brides. I am currently booked up 3 to 4 weeks ahead.

In Germany, we enjoyed great food - including pork knuckle, sauerkraut and Leipzig Larks. We visited Leipzig zoo, went to Dresden for the day, took Jessica on her first horse ride and tram ride and a few lovely evenings out while Jessica slept in the pushchair allowing us to enjoy a stress-free meal.

Dresden was absolutely beautiful. We explored the old part of the city and the buildings were stunning. Nice easy day trip from Leipzig and the train service was brilliant. We took our Nexus tablet and downloaded an offline map to help us find our way!  Enjoyed ice cream & coffee in the old squares and Jessica loved playing with the water fountains hehe.

The only really stressful part of the journey was the National express bus on the way home. We took Jessica's car seat and the driver on the way out was extremely helpful and asked people to move, so we could sit in the wider seats, but the driver on our return journey to Norwich from Standard airport at 1 am was awful. He suggested that we hold Jessica for the 3-hour trip because we hadn't booked her in, which we clearly had and then watched us struggle to get the car seat into a normal seat which clearly it didn't fit as her feet were touching the seat in front. In the end, I had to ask someone to swap with us who had more leg room near the rear fire exit seats. Last thing we wanted at 1 am in the morning! The taxi from the bus station to home also suggested that we hold her instead! grr only takes me 2 minutes to fit the car seat!

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New Zealand holiday and exciting news

I am back from my holiday and we had an amazing time. Two weeks driving a campervan around the north island of New Zealand with a treat of a night in the Grand Hotel at Sky City to finish it off.

Jessica was amazing on the flights and holiday. Six flights in total there and back with two days travelling both ends of the holiday. I think it was around 26 hours on the flight each way! We had an air bus for some of the trip, so she enjoyed running around on that.

My highlights of the holiday were the hobbit movie set, Geothermal sites, hot springs, Kauri trees and stunning beaches. Of and the best bit was getting engaged on the last night in Auckland! Andy asked me to marry him while we were watching the lights of Auckland from our Sky city hotel. Jessica was a angel that night and slept in her push chair while we had a very grand meal out at the Sky Tower Orbit restaurant.

New Zealand is such a beautiful country I can't wait to return and explore the South Island when Jessica is old enough for us to enjoy more outdoors things. I really want to do the Milford Sound trek. We took the back carrier with us on this holiday and did walks up to 3 hours, but that was about her limit!

Now back to reality and start planning a wedding! Eek! Any tips?


Bag End (Medium)

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