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Where Heather travelled in 2014

As we see out the old year and bring in the new, there’s something of a tradition in blogging circles to review the places you visited, share photos from the year just gone and generally reminisce about those days of sunshine and happy memories – doesn’t everything seem more rosy in retrospect?

Looking back over my travelling year, I’m amazed at how many places in the UK and Europe I managed to fit in, considering that I have a full-time job and family (although only one of my little birds left in the nest). Perhaps that’s why my preferred travel style is the short break, to pack in the maximum fun from a limited amount of holiday. My most regular travel companion is my husband Guy who by his own admission is as expert in ‘loafing’ as I am at scribbling, photographing, video-ing, although he regularly gets roped in as assistant cameraman and videographer. Whenever I get the chance, I also love travelling with friends and family, especially when the (nearly-grown-up) kids do us the honour of coming along.

So here is a taste of my travelling year in 2014 in anticipation of many more happy travels in 2015.

January: Still recovering from Paris in December

Christmas market at Notre Dame in Paris Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Christmas market at Notre Dame in Paris

January was something of a catch-up month, so I’m cheating a little bit here by including the pre-Christmas trip to Paris from December 2013. We found that Paris at Christmas is surprisingly un-Christmassy as the French are pretty low key about their celebrations and decorations. On this trip we stayed clear of the regular tourist traps (although we couldn’t quite escape Notre Dame) and enjoyed exploring the more local haunts, with a gourmet walking tour of Marche D’Aligre, a local dining experience with a Frenche Creole flavour and a walk along the pretty Canal Saint Martin in Bastille.

Read More: Our winter weekend in Paris, the food, the sights, the video

February: A winter break in Copenhagen for the Wondercool festival

The picturesque harbour at Nyhaven, Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

The picturesque harbour at Nyhaven, Copenhagen

In February we were back in Copenhagen, a favourite of mine, to see what the city has to offer in winter and check out the Copenhagen Cooking festival. The gastronomic highlight was a gastro-cruise around the harbour during which we stopped at no less than six of the top restaurants in Copenhagen, each of which had prepared a different dish of mussels. I hadn’t quite realised that the focus would be entirely on one ingredient so was quite thankful that both Guy and I love seafood! We stayed at the fabulous and colourful Anderson boutique hotel and managed to combine more gourmet food tasting at the Torverhallerne food market with culture at Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek and Rosenborg Slot.

Read More: In Photos: Our weekend break in Copenhagen

March:  Heather is featured in Woman and Home Magazine

Heather is featured in Woman and Home magazine Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather is featured in Woman and Home magazine

Although this is not actually a place I travelled but I have to mention how thrilled I was at being featured in Woman and Home magazine, with two other bloggers in a feature about “Blogging for fame and fortune”. I had such a fun day at the photography shoot, being made up and dressed up in impossibly high heels with tons of make-up, and a suitcase that would never have made it past the Ryanair police. All great fantasy and left me floating on air when friends kept telling me they had seen me in the magazine.

Read More: Blogging for fame and fortune? Heather is featured in Woman and Home magazine

March: A weekend in Marrakech in search of Josephine Baker

Trying an orange juice in Jemaa el Fnaa, Marrakech Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Trying an orange juice in Jemaa el Fnaa, Marrakech

March took me off to Marrakech to get my fix of spring sunshine and we stayed in the magical Riad Star which was once the home of French cabaret artist and superstar of the 1920s, Josephine Baker. The Riad has been beautifully renovated in a Jazz Age theme, with a relaxing roof terrace, inner courtyard where we enjoyed breakfast and even had its own dressing up box. We spent the weekend trying to not get too lost in the Souk, perfecting our haggling skills, and visiting a fair number of beautifully decorated mosques, palaces and gardens. Of course there was the obligatory snake charmer photo opportunity in Jemaa el Fnaa.

Read More: Marrakech – on shopping, sightseeing and (not) getting lost in the souk

 April: A spring break in North Devon

Primroses in North Devon Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Primroses in North Devon

April is when spring is truly upon us with the daffodils and primroses blooming in North Devon. We spent a weekend with friends in the lush, green wilds of the Devon countryside at Penhaven Country Cottages, booked through Premier Cottages. There was plenty of pub grub, coastal walks and a visit to Clovelly, the picturesque cliffside village that is now a major tourist attraction and could easily play a starring role in any costume drama about smugglers and pirates.

Read More: Primroses and daffodils – a spring break in North Devon with Premier Cottages

May: Walking the Pembrokeshire coastal path and the puffins on Skomer island

Puffins on Skomer Island Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Puffins on Skomer Island

In May we went walking in Wales along the Pembrokeshire coastal path with Macs Adventure on a taster version of their Best of Pembrokeshire itinerary. We had chosen the perfect time of year to visit Skomer island, a short boat ride off the coast, since it was the beginning of the Puffin breeding season and we were able to get really close to the cute looking Puffins as they arrived back at their burrows. Our walk along the Pembrokeshire coastal path continued from Broadhaven, past the lovely harbour at Solva, ending at St David’s where we had a look around the famous cathedral, art galleries and craftshops in the “Smallest City in Great Britain”, which is really an overgrown village.

Read More: A long day’s walk on the Pembrokeshire coastal path – Broadhaven to St David’s

May: A Mediterranean Cruise with MSC Cruises

MSC Splendida at Tunis Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

MSC Splendida at Tunis

Later in May we were off again on a Mediterranean cruise with MSC Cruises. We embarked at Barcelona and had a fun week as the ship cruised around the Med visiting Marseille, Genoa, Naples, Messina and Tunis, before returning to Barcelona. The ship was very glamorous with a lively atmosphere and plenty of families on board, and at each port we visited I wished we could have stayed just a little longer!

Read More: Cruising the Mediterranean on MSC Splendida? Here’s what you need to know

June: Discovering Dylan Thomas in Swansea and Laugharne

With the Dylan Thomas statue in Swansea Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

With the Dylan Thomas statue in Swansea

One of my favourite UK trips this year was to South Wales to discover more about the poet, Dylan Thomas in his centenary year. Swansea, where Dylan grew up, is not the prettiest of cities but provided a fascinating gateway to his childhood and early years. We followed his life through the dramatised walk we took around the streets from the Dylan Thomas Centre and our visit to the Dylan Thomas Birthplace at 5 Cwmdonkin Drive. Our Dylan Thomas discovery continued at Laugharne in Carmarthenshire, where we stayed at Dylan’s favourite drinking haunt of Brown’s Hotel and visited The Boat House where he lived and worked, overlooking the beautiful Taf estuary. With views like these who wouldn’t be inspired?

Read More: An ugly, lovely town Part 1 – a Return Journey to Swansea with Dylan Thomas

June: Walking the beaches of the Gower in South Wales

Caswell Bay on the Gower Peninsula, South Wales Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Caswell Bay on the Gower Peninsula, South Wales

In June, I was back in Wales with another cottage stay at the fabulous luxury cottage, Promenade View in Mumbles through Home from Home Cottages. The cottage was perfectly situated on the promenade of this traditional holiday resort which is also the gateway to the fabulous beaches of the Gower Peninsula. We took full advantage, with a long walk from our front door along the coastal path, past the fabulous beaches of Bracelet Bay, Langland, Caswell, along the clifftop to Pennard, where we caught the bus back to Mumbles. The next day we had a morning in the sand-dunes and flat beach of Llangenith, a favourite beach for surfers which left us feeling refreshed and miles from our busy life in Bristol.

Read More: Walking the beaches of the Gower and our luxury Mumbles Cottage

July: Back to Copenhagen for a family holiday

With our bikes, by the harbour in Copenhagen Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

With our bikes, by the harbour in Copenhagen

Two visits to the same place in one year must mean that I really like a place and we took the family back to Copenhagen in late July for a family break, staying in a large apartment near the harbour side. The weather was hot and sunny and we cycled everywhere, swam in the harbour, ate great street-food and took ferries across the harbour. Like Copenhageners of all ages, we enjoyed a day at Tivoli, although after the adrenalin rush of the roller-coaster with my kids I was happy to sit and admire the rose garden from a shady spot on the lawn.

Read More: 10 summertime cool things we did in Copenhagen (and you could too)

August: Zakynthos Greece for a beach holiday with my daughter

On Dafni beach in Zakynthos, Greece Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

On Dafni beach in Zakynthos, Greece

Since my sister lives on the Greek island of Zakynthos, I try to visit her each year and in August I was there with my 19 year old daughter and English niece. Since my Greek niece was also there with four of her friends, I got to hang out with the beach-babes in the most trendy beach bars, check out all the unspoiled beaches and generally live the life of a 19 year old on holiday. When not sipping on my chilled frappe coffee or swimming in the clear water to cool off, I was able to observe Greek beach style and etiquette which I wrote about in the article below.

Read More: Six things the English girls get So wrong on the beach in Greece!

September: A foodie adventure in South Tyrol, Italy

In the Dolomites on the Via Ferrata in South Tyrol Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

In the Dolomites on the Via Ferrata in South Tyrol

September took me to South Tyrol in Italy, an area that is close to the Austrian and Swiss borders with stunning mountain scenery in the Dolomites. I spent a few days there, combining outdoor activities with gastronomic pleasures, cycling around Lake Kaltern on the South Tyrol wine road, visiting some of the local designers and the climbing a Via Ferrata. These ‘iron routes’ are rock climbing routes of varying difficulty where you are secured to a cable that snakes up the rock-face, enabling relative novices like me to reach the top (although best with a guide) in a scary but exhilarating experience.

Read More: Climbing my very first Via Ferrata in South Tyrol

 September: Hiking the Dry Stone route in Mallorca

Heather and Julia wlaking the dry stone route in Mallorca Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather and Julia wlaking the dry stone route in Mallorca

Later in September I was off for another walking holiday with my friend Julia, to Mallorca. Having completed the Tour de Mont Blanc together in previous years, we fancied something that combined views of the sea with mountainous walking and decided to walk a section of the Dry Stone Route, a long-distance path that skirts the west coast of Mallorca into the Tramuntana mountain range. We passed through several of the coastal resorts of Mallorca but my favourite time was walking the higher rocky sections of the Traamuntana from Soller to Lluc monastery.

Read More: Hiking the Dry Stone route in Mallorca from Deia to Lluc monastery

October: Athens for TBEX Blogger’s Conference

Heather at the Parthenon in Athens Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Heather at the Parthenon in Athens

In October I was in Athens, a city I haven’t really explored, despite visiting the Greek islands every year to see my sister. The city has been through a tough time with the recent ecenomic crisis but we found a new spirit of optimism and purpose as the worst seems to be over. The city was hosting the TBEX blogger’s conference and as part of this I spent a day in Athens on a gastronomic walking tour as well as a visit to the Parthenon. I was pleasantly surprised the warmth and spirit of Athens and it’s one place I’d love to get back to see more of in 2015.

Read More: Athens is on the menu for 2015 – a taste of Greece at TBEX

November: A weekend at the Moorland Garden Hotel in Devon

Moorland Garden Hotel in Devon

Moorland Garden Hotel in Devon

In November I was back down to Devon for a weekend on the edge of Dartmoor at the Moorland Garden Hotel. This is a part of the world that I have visited quite a few times and we visited the market town of Tavistock, on the edge of the moor and visited The Garden House and National Trust property of Buckland Abbey nearby. There were all too many opportunities to try those yummy Devon cream teas.

Read More: Our weekend break at the Moorland Garden Hotel in Devon

December: A pre-Christmas weekend in Dublin

Bewleys in Dublin at Christmas Photo: Heatheronhertravels.com

Bewleys in Dublin at Christmas

To bring the year to a close I spent a weekend in Dublin with my husband and 17 year old son in early December. The purpose of our trip was the Trinity College open day, since my son is looking at university choices for next year, but we managed to pack in an awful lot else, with shopping on Grafton Street, the Little Museum of Dublin and plenty of great meals, not to mention the odd pint of Guinness.

Read More: 10 things to do on a Christmas weekend in Dublin

So the year comes to a close but I know there will be plenty more travel adventures in 2015. In January I will be back down to Devon to stay in another lovely cottage that’s close to the Jurassic coast, as well as a visit to India at the end of the month to visit the charity project that I support in Andhra Pradesh. I hope that you’ll join me through the blog on these and other trips and follow my photos on social media too.

Wishing you many happy travel adventures of your own in 2015.

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    alison rothwell
    December 29, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    I really enjoyed reading your 2014 appraisal and can’t believe how many places you visited! Lovely.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      December 31, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      @Alison Thanks, so please you enjoyed reading about all my travels

  • Reply
    noel
    December 31, 2014 at 4:28 pm

    What a fantastic year you’ve had, hope you have a wonderful travel year for 2015!
    noel´s last blog post ..Thessaloniki food: culinary capital and food discovery tour

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      December 31, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      @Noel Thanks so much, looking forward to visiting many fascinating places next year

  • Reply
    anna parker
    December 31, 2014 at 7:04 pm

    What a fantastic year – so much that you’ve done but not too far from home. I loved following your trips to Devon so I’m glad they made it into the best bits!
    anna parker´s last blog post ..Best of 2014

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      December 31, 2014 at 7:33 pm

      @Anna Yes I seem to keep being drawn back to devon, another trip planned in January!

  • Reply
    Kathryn
    January 1, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    It does sound like a fun year. Looking forward to seeing where 2015 takes you. Have a happy, healthy and travel filled New Year Heather.
    Kathryn´s last blog post ..Going solo in Lisbon

  • Reply
    Paul (@luxury__travel)
    January 2, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Sounds like an eventful year, Heather! I was planning on going to TBEX also, but never made it in the end (although I was in Greece at the time!). Wishing you all the best for an equally busy and fun travel schedule in 2015! 🙂
    Paul (@luxury__travel)´s last blog post ..Top 10 new luxury safari camps and lodges

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      January 2, 2015 at 9:17 am

      @thanks Paul perhaps our paths will cross at another event in 2015

  • Reply
    Rob
    January 3, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    What an amazing journey you have had in 2014! Greece certainly at the top of my list in future travels. Our family also enjoyed a Western Med Cruise. Hope to make the next an eastern where Greece and Turkey are included. All the best for 2015!
    Rob´s last blog post ..Necessary Vaccinations Before Travel

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      January 3, 2015 at 4:43 pm

      @Rob my sister lives in Greece so of course it’s a favourite place to visit

  • Reply
    Lee
    January 4, 2015 at 11:23 pm

    Wow, what a year of travel. Thanks for sharing.
    I travel a lot for work, and occasionally get to visit some interesting places, but usually it is not all that exciting. But last year I did get to New Orleans, and spent two weeks in the Dallas area, with a few other interesting trips as well.
    I just wish my job would take me to Europe once in a while.

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      January 6, 2015 at 1:56 pm

      @Lee thanks, so pleased you enjoyed reading about my travels – enjoy your own too in 2015.

  • Reply
    Diane
    January 16, 2015 at 7:03 pm

    What fun! You’ve described my perfect year. Some year . . .
    Diane´s last blog post ..Here Comes Trouble

  • Reply
    Mike | VagabondingMike
    February 21, 2015 at 10:40 pm

    I’d say you had a successful year…especially considering you went all those places with a family.
    Mike | VagabondingMike´s last blog post ..My Intimate Encounter With A Pickpocket

    • Reply
      Heather Cowper
      February 22, 2015 at 8:48 am

      @Mike Thanks – it was a fun year for travel – I’d always love to travel some more but there is a balance

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