Dublin, Lisbon, Rome – where will your next citybreak be?

When spring arrives with sunshine and daffodils, it always puts me in the mood for planning my next getaway, a mini-break to throw off the chill of winter and tide me over until the summer holidays. If you’re in the mood for a weekend away in Europe or the UK, take a look at the fun web app from SuperBreak to fuel your holiday inspiration. Whether you’re planning a relaxing half term break with the family, a weekend of eating and entertainment with your friends, or a cultural city-break with your partner, here are some of the destinations that you might want to consider;

If you’re a couple looking for a weekend of food, drink and entertainment you might look at….

Dublin

Dublin at night Photo by Lendog64 on Flickr

Dublin at night, the ultimate party town

What Superbreak have to say; Just a quick jump across the water and you can enjoy traditional Bars, comedy clubs, delicious local food and the ever-so-friendly Irish welcome! Guinness at the ready!

What I enjoyed about Dublin;

  • I love the way that the Irish always have a story to tell, that you can go into any pub and strike up a conversation with a complete stranger and there’s always some music and a song or two.
  • Visit the Guinness Storehouse in an amazing 7 storey old warehouse with modern glass additions to learn about Dublin’s favourite tipple – you’ll be shown how to pull the perfect pint of the black stuff and can buy up the brand’s heritage (love the retro toucans).
  • Take the train out to Sandy Cove, a seaside spot where the members of the 40 foot swimming club test the water every day of the year and where James Joyce lived in an old Martello tower and liked to take a dip.

Here’s what I wrote about Dublin: The best of TBEX, the best of Dublin

But if you and your partner are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Rome

The Trevi Fountain in Rome Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Throw your coin in the Trevi Fountain in Rome to return some day

What Superbreak have to say; With a wealth of history, culture and plenty of Italian charisma, you can’t help but feel the love on a weekend break in Rome with someone special.

What I enjoyed about Rome;

  • Buying a gelato from the kiosk shop on the island in the Tiber and eating it with a view of the river where Dan Brown’s hero, in the book Angels and Demons, parachutes out of an exploding helicopter to land on the island.
  • Visiting the Turtle fountain or Fontana delle Tartarughe in Piazza Mattei first thing in the morning before the crowds have gathered – so much more charming and less crowded than the Trevi Fountain.
  • Visiting the daily fruit and vegetable market in Campo de’Fiori and buying a slice of pizza fresh from the oven from the artizan bakery at one end, then sitting on the steps of the central monument to eat it.

Here’s one of my stories about Rome: The view from the dome of St Peter’s in Rome

If you are a couple who fancy a weekend of culture in the UK take a look at …

Stratford-upon-Avon

The river at Stratford-upon-Avon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Picnic by the river at Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare

What Superbreak have to say; Discover the quaint city of Stratford upon Avon on a romantic weekend break. Step back in time in this historic city and see the spots where Shakespeare’s most famous plays were created.

What I love to do in Stratford-upon-Avon;

  • Visit the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, a fabulous venue that has gone through a multi-million pound renovation. You must try and get a ticket to see one of their Shakespeare productions but even if you can’t, be sure to pop in to wander round the building, visit one of the exhibitions, climb the tower or take a backstage tour.
  • Taking afternoon tea at the Arden Hotel right opposite the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, the perfect place for a lunch stop in between sightseeing or a pre-theatre dinner before you pop across the road for the performance.
  • Several of the houses in and around Stratford associated with Shakespeare and his family are open to the public, and we we especially love Anne Hathaway’s Cottage with its cottage garden and the settle by the fire where young William might have snuggled with his new bride Anne.

Here’s what I wrote about Stratford-upon-Avon: The Tower and other Transformations at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon

But if you are a group who’d like a weekend of culture in Europe why not try …

Paris

Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Visit the great Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

What Superbreak have to say; With history, landmarks and iconic French architecture around every corner, Paris offers everything a group would need for a cultural break. Don’t forget your camera!

What I enjoyed about Paris;

  • Wandering around the Parisian’s choice of market, Marche d’Aligre with the most polished and perfect fruit and vegetables, a mouthwatering selection of prepared dishes in the covered market and a flea market where you can buy everything from vintage footwear to elegant wine glasses.
  • Walking down Canal Saint Martin to admire all the houseboats and then continuing along the narrow footpath right beside the Seine, with views of Notre Dame in the distance – a world away from the tourist crowds at the cathedral itself.
  • Exploring the covered arcades with art galleries and street cafes in Place des Vosges and then visiting Maison Victor Hugo to find out about the life and times of this celebrated French writer, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame.

Here’s what I wrote about Paris: Our winter weekend in Paris, the food, the sights, the video

And if and your friends are looking for a weekend of culture in Europe, why not try…

Lisbon

The vintage trams in Lisbon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Ride the vintage trams in Lisbon up the hill

What Superbreak have to say; A weekend break in Lisbon, Portugal’s capital offers an eclectic mix of fascinating Portuguese history and contemporary art and culture.

What I loved about Lisbon;

  • Listening to the mournful Fado singers who perform in the restaurants in the Bairo Alto and Alfama neighbourhoods – don’t expect the food to be anything special but the music will touch your soul.
  • Eating Pasteis de Belem from the famous cakes shop near the Monastery of Jerónimos - these creamy custard tarts are the signature of Lisbon and you can either sit in the vaulted cafe rooms at the back of the shop or take them away to eat in the gardens overlooking the port.
  • Taking the yellow, vintage No 28 tram up the hill to the Castelo de Sao Jorge where you can walk around the ramparts and gaze over the rooftops towards the river where the ships left to conquer the New World centuries ago.

Here’s one of my stories about Lisbon: An autumn weekend in Lisbon – Podcast

There are plenty more inspirational short break destinations to discover with the SuperBreak app so why not give it a try and see where your inspiration leads you.

About the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator:  To celebrate their 30th anniversary, Yorkshire based holiday company  Superbreak.com have created a fun app to help you choose the perfect UK or European city break based on who you’re travelling with and what you enjoy. Check out the Superbreak Holiday Inspirator Webapp or follow the coversation on the Superbreak Facebook Page or on Twitter @Superbreak using hashtag #SuperBreakinspo

This article is brought to you in partnership with Superbreak.com

Photo Credits: Dublin at night by LenDog64 Other photos by Heatheronhertravels.com

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

A weekend in Birmingham on the Tolkien Trail

With the latest addition to The Hobbit trilogy being recently released on DVD, and the next instalment ready to grace our cinema screens in a few months, now would be a perfect time to delve a little deeper into the life of the author, JRR Tolkien. While he may have been born in South Africa in 1892, he had an affinity with the city of Birmingham since moving there at four years old and, as such, literary fans will love to explore the sights that have been linked to the writer’s Midland adventures.

The Tolkein Trilogy

The Tolkein Trilogy

It’s often believed that Middle Earth was based on the Midlands, so it’s only natural to want to see where Tolkien gained his inspiration. If you’re after a weekend break in the city so that you can see more, book with Travelodge and you won’t have to worry about spending more than your budget can allow on accommodation. The Tolkien Trail is the perfect way of exploring parts of Tolkien’s childhood, with highlights including:

Sareholl Mill in Birmingham Photo: Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery

Sareholl Mill in Birmingham on the Tolkein Trail

  • Sarehole Mill, situated in the village of Sarehole (which is often considered to be the inspiration for Hobbiton and The Shire), is a fantastic museum that pays homage to Tolkien. It’s believed that he, and his brother, used to play for hours near the mill. It’s only open for part of the year though, so make sure you check that it’s open before you visit to avoid disappointment.
Moseley Bog in Birmingham Photo: Peter Lewis on Flickr

Moseley Bog in Birmingham

  • Moseley Bog was once a mill pool and was the site of many an adventure for Tolkien when he was a lad. Nowadays, it’s a Local Nature Reserve and a perfect addition to your Tolkien itinerary if you’re a lover of the great outdoors. You can access it via Yardley Wood Road or the Wake Green Playing Fields.
  • St Anne’s Church on Alcester Street is where Tolkien and his family used to worship. Pop by during service hours and you can enjoy the interior beauty as well as the outside.
  • Perrott’s Folly stands near to the Edgbaston Waterworks, alongside a Victorian tower that, together, are believed to be the inspiration behind the Two Towers of Gondor – which, as any Tolkien fan will know, is the name of the second book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Perrotts Folly in Brirmingham Photo: Tony Hidgett on Flickr

Perrotts Folly in Birmingham on the Tolkein trail

Whether you wish to head off on your own adventure, discovering these places and more, or you prefer to embark upon a Middle Earth tour with the help of a tour guide, the Tolkien trail is a must for any fan of this fantasy writer. These tours operate at various times during the year, so keep an eye on the Midlands Discovery Tours site if you fancy being part of the next one – you can sign up to receive email notification of when tickets for the next tour go on sale, and it’s recommended you do so, because they sell fast!

If you can’t wait for the next tour, there’s no reason why you can’t venture out on your own to see where the inspiration for Tolkien’s amazing literary works evolved. Incorporate it into your visit to Birmingham and learn more about Tolkien’s roots in The Midlands.

This article was brought to you in partnership with Travelodge.

Photo Credits: Sarehole Mill by Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Moseley Bog by Peter Lewis, Perrott’s Folly by Tony Hisgett, Tolkein Trilogy from TheHobbit.com

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

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You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Blogging for Fame and Fortune? Heather is featured in Woman and Home magazine

March 6, 2014 by  
Filed under Blogging, featured, United Kingdom

When I was invited to be featured in Woman and Home magazine, in an article on “Blogging for Fame and Fortune”, my first thought was “OMG!!! Fame at last!” quickly followed by, “OMG! how will I lose a stone in 2 weeks?”.

Looking glam after the Woman and Home shoot Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Looking glam after the Woman and Home shoot

My initial chat with Nathalie, the features writer, to test the water was quickly followed up by a confirmation that yes, they would like to include me in their feature and would I be available next week for the shoot? We did a long telephone interview which was really just a nice chat covering such weighty questions as; How did you get into blogging? What tips do you have for others who want to start a blog? and What was the proudest moment in your blogging career?

A week or so after that initial call, during which I lived mainly on grilled chicken and salad, I was driving up the road to the house in West London where the photo shoot would take place, most of the spare tyre firmly in place. Ah, well at least Woman and Home is a magazine that makes a point of featuring normal women and their achievements, not just pencil thin celebrities, and I was hopeful that a bit of hair and make-up could work wonders.

The gorgeous setting for the Woman and Home Shoot Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The gorgeous setting for the Woman and Home Shoot

I knocked on the door of a small cottage, which opened up into a huge sitting room that was open to the roof with wooden beams and huge skylights. With huge, squishy sofas scattered with pretty silk cushions, glass lamps and Moroccan silver trays, I could totally understand why they’d chosen this as their photography location. It looked like a love pad made for parties as well as a great location for a spring feature photo shoot.

Ready to go into Wardrobe Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Ready to go into Wardrobe

I was to be featured along with two other bloggers in a feature about about “Blogging for Fame and Fortune”. I’ve certainly had some fun in my 5 years writing my blog but as for the fame and fortune – well maybe some day! The other bloggers were Ren Behan, a food blogger at RenBehan.com and fashion and lifestyle blogger, Josephine Lalwan of Chic at any age, who was certainly looking very elegant with her chic grey bob and fuschia pink silk shirt. It seemed that we had been picked as being ladies of a certain age, as most of the people featured in the magazine seemed to be in their 40s and 50s.

Having my make-up done for the Woman and Home shoot Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Having my make-up done for the Woman and Home shoot

Sharon, the picture editor greeted me and introduced me to the rest of the team, and I settled into the kitchen, now in use as a beauty parlour with Liz and Sarah-Jane at the ready to do my nails, hair and make-up. I sipped my coffee made by Jim, the photographic assistant, had my nails painted and my already clean hair was blow dried and left in curlers. After half an hour of make-up, with numerous shades of beige eye-shadow, my ‘natural’ look was ready for me to move on to wardrobe.

All this make-up for a natural look! Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

All this make-up for a natural look!

In ‘wardrobe’ which was actually a small room crammed with two rails of clothes and half a floor covered with shoes, I met Rachel the stylist and her assistant Amy.

My first job was to strip down and put on a nude Spanx roll-on to keep the spare tyre under control, which was slightly humiliating but certainly did the trick of creating a smooth sillhouette. “Don’t worry” confided Rachel, seeing my doubtful look, “some of my red carpet clients have to wear 2 spanx on top of one another”. Looking through the rails we tried on a few different outfits and settled on some tight Eileen Fisher white jeans with a coral orange vest and drapy cardigan from Rohen Chen both of which I loved, plus some very high gladiator style LK Bennet heels which left me tottering around although they looked very elegant.

Choosing the outfit with stylist Rachel Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Choosing the outfit with stylist Rachel

Back into the living room which was now a photography studio, Angela the photographer had her big lights and tripod set up and I was positioned by the door surrounded by luggage, as if I was just about to leave for a glamorous weekend in Marrakech. Angela was full of fun and clicked away from behind her tripod, scattering plenty of encouraging comments around; “OK my gorgeous creature?” Click,  ”Lovely!” Click, “Excellent!” Click, “Beautiful my darling!” Click. I shifted my weight slightly from one leg to the other, holding an ipad in one hand and a large leather holdall (which wouldn’t have passed the Ryanair police) in the other. Every few clicks one of the team would rush forward to tweak my clothing, powder my nose or cover me in a cloud of hair spay.

Getting ready for the Woman and Home shoot Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Getting ready for the Woman and Home shoot

The attention to detail showed by this crew was even more rigorous than my habit on blog trips of taking five of the same shot that drives my husband crazy. A hundred or so photos later, all slight variations on the theme, and we were done. I could breath again as I unpeeled the Spanx and slipped back into my own clothes. Now I got the chance to be the spectator as Josephine the fashion blogger was photographed looking very thin and elegant in an emerald green cocktail dress (a brand that’s favoured by Nigella Lawson). This time the piles of clothes were arranged around her and she held a pair of high heels in her hand, the props of a fashion blogger obviously!

Photographer Angela takes 100 shots of me Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Photographer Angela takes 100 shots of me

I was fascinated to see how the photos were instantly transferred to Angela’s laptop and I could see them popping up as I sat behind her during the shoot. The man arrived at the door to deliver lunch – no waitrose sandwiches but slices of herby chicken, squares of quiche studded with goats cheese and a watercress and beetroot salad. Lovely!

WomanandhomeApr14 blogger article

Click to read the article

Poor Ren, the food blogger was still standing around in curlers in her dressing gown, waiting for lunch to finish so that she could be photographed in the kitchen surrounded by cookery books. At that point I’d completed my part of the shoot so I said my goodbyes and headed back to Bristol to tell my family all my stories. Just another day in the life of a travel blogger masquerading as a fashion model. All great fun, but I won’t be giving up the travel blogging (or the day job) just yet!

Look out for the April 2014 issue of Woman and Home at your newsagents now for the article on Blogging for Fame and Fortune or if you’re not in the UK Read it here

Heather Cowper shares her travel stories, videos and podcasts at Heatheronhertravels.com and you can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.

This article by Heather Cowper is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com - Read the original article here

Click to subscribe to our monthly newsletter, news and reader offers

HOHT newsletter

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

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