Pre-Coronavirus Getaway

    After a few recent trips that didn’t hit our usual high expectations, we agreed that 2020 would be just about us two travelling together and visiting known places that we have thoroughly enjoyed previously. The plan for March was to take the cheap option of the Club La Costa resort just south of Fuengirola in Spain.

    It’s a lovely spot and, although not the hottest time of the year, it was still pleasant enough to sit by the pool, reading and recharging our batteries. The resort wasn’t fully open, which was good in terms of peacefulness, but bad in terms of having to walk further from the sun lounger to get a beer. Plus, the pool was set to Baltic temperature and body parts shrivelled up just thinking about going for a swim. We did make it into the pool on a couple of occasions, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience and it was more to prove that we could do it rather than we wanted to!

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    Belfast City Break

    This was our first visit to Belfast as a couple. I’d flown into Belfast previously on a work trip, before heading to Portadown, but that was many years before. Who knew that Belfast boasted two airports? Amanda had booked the flights and spotted how easy it was to get a train from the airport to the city centre. Unfortunately, this was based on us arriving at the George Best Belfast City Airport, whereas we arrived at the Belfast International Airport, which was 20 miles away with no direct train service. So, we hopped on a shuttle bus and headed into the city centre and our hotel called The Flint on Howard Street. It was an excellent choice, very boutique, and just perfect for our 3-night stay.

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    Cornwall is closed for the season

    Rather than taking our UK staycation up in Scotland, we decided to book a Club La Costa lodge in Castledore, near St Austell in Cornwall. On the journey down, we decided to stay overnight in a village called Axbridge, staying at the Oakhouse Hotel & Restaurant. We ventured around the handful of village pubs that evening and had a great laugh people watching. In the Oakhouse bar, one guy bought his puppy a £25 steak to eat whilst he was drinking. In the Crown Inn, a guy was doing some dodgy under the counter deals on raw fish, before consoling one of the bar staff who literally burst into tears for no apparent reason and then the same guy became our best friend as he turned out to work for Sainsbury’s in a similar line of work as Amanda. All-in-all, it was a great night out and a good way to start our week away.

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    Fjords Explorer

    For our second cruise adventure with Chris and Bailey, we’d booked the TUI Marella ‘Fjords Explorer’ package on the Marella Explorer Century-class cruise ship.

    The ship was broadly the same size as the MSC ship we took around the Caribbean, however, it was a totally different experience. The fit and finish was superior, more modern, and the facilities were massively better. In addition, TUI cruises are all-inclusive (including tips), which is some much easier and less confusing in terms of budgeting.

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    A Long Walk To The Pub

    Traditionally in January or February each year we try to get away for a mini break and, in recent years, this means a trip up to the Duchally Country Estate on the outskirts of Auchterarder in Perthshire, Scotland. Duchally is part of the CLC World Hotels & Resorts and has hotel rooms as well as luxury lodges. We always stay in the latter, because it allows us to take family with us at no extra cost, is more relaxed and gives us the flexibility of self-catering accommodation. On this occasion, Amanda’s Dad came with us for a week of R&R, walking and whisky sampling. To be honest, Amanda and I had planned on having a very chilled week, but we ended up walking for miles.

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    The Land of Fire & Ice

    amanda-and-steveA visit to Iceland (the country, not the retailer) is on most peoples bucket list and it’s no surprise as Iceland is a geological wonder. Our trip was scheduled as a direct result of having our Florida trip cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew. We picked up a deal from Wowcher (not recommended) and travelled to Reykjavík for 2 nights. The way the flights worked out we had virtually 3 full days, which to do the trips we wanted to do was perfect. An extra night would have been good, but as a very expensive country be careful when budgeting. The exchange rate was around 140 Icelandic Krona to 1 British Pound, which makes the mental conversion tricky (well, for me anyway), but most items you will be buying are 45-55% more expensive than in the UK.  For example, 500ml of domestic beer was a minimum of 1,000 Krona, which is over £7 and in some places it was nearer £10 a pint.

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    Boozy October - My Liver Hurts!

    purecraftWell, after the disappointment of having our Florida trip cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew, there was only one thing to do and that's drown our sorrows with alcohol! To be fair, both sessions that I'm going to talk about here were already planned and in the diary before the cancellation, but a good excuse is a good excuse right?


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    Málaga Mayhem

    clcThis trip took us to the Club La Costa World resort called San Diego Suites on the outskirts of Fuengirola, which is a town on the Costa del Sol in southern Spain. The resort is one part of a much larger complex, ranging from the luxurious to the basic. Fortunately for us San Diego Suites, along with its sister resort Santa Cruz Suites, is the top end of that scale in terms of accommodation, swimming pools and bars/restaurants. We had visited the complex previously, albeit staying in the Santa Cruz Suites resort on that occasion.

    Club La Costa World is Europe’s largest independent resort operator according to its web site, but to most people the word ‘time share’ springs to mind. We have been members for a few years now and, to be fair, it’s not as bad as some ‘holiday clubs’ or ‘time share’ schemes you may have heard about.

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    Amsterdam - X X X

    LrMobile0304-2016-100431211581408892This time it was a surprise trip for me, arranged by Amanda, as part of my 50th birthday celebrations. Amanda had booked it in secret and all I knew was that we were due at Doncaster Airport on the Saturday morning, but I was oblivious to everything else. Well that's not quite true...Amanda had told me it would be around 8°C and we were due to get a helicopter from Doncaster Airport to Cleethorpes for a couple of nights in a caravan!

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    Valentines: The Comfy Duck


    We celebrated Valentine's Day 24 hours early this year for two good reasons; firstly, Amanda had work to do on the Sunday and secondly, she had secretly booked a romantic lunch for us both on the Saturday. So, we exchanged gifts in bed on Saturday morning. I'd bought Amanda a 1L bottle of Tanqueray Gin and Amanda replenished my aftershave collection with a nice bottle of Jean Paul Gaultier.

    Time to leave home and head to the secret lunch venue. From the postcode Amanda entered into the 5-Series satnav I knew we were heading in the general direction of Grimsby...but where exactly? I only figured it out as we pulled off the road and up the drive to the Oaklands Hall Hotel and more specifically the Comfy Duck restaurant.

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    Dublin - A Day Out On The DART


    This was our fourth trip to Dublin in as many years, so we tried something different and it worked out better than we could have hoped. I booked the trip as a surprise part of Amanda's 40th birthday celebrations. We both love Dublin and Amanda would have liked everyone to come over for the weekend, but with the cost and the travel we stuck with York for the birthday pub crawl the previous weekend. So, for my surprise trip, it was a fairly obvious choice and Amanda pretty much worked it out before we even left home.

    The trip from Scunthorpe to Manchester Airport is fairly straightforward, apart from the inevitable traffic issues, but this time it was more complicated. Amanda had to be in Edinburgh with work the night before we were due to fly out of Manchester.

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    Superb Steak: Close to Home

    The Hope & AnchorFor Amanda's 40th birthday, the family meal was booked at the Hope & Anchor pub in South Ferriby, North Lincolnshire. If there was ever an example of a 'Phoenix from the flames' this place must be it. For years it was an average pub in an average place, more known for the cement works and for being a 'rat run' between Scunthorpe and the Humber Bridge. Then in 2013, most of South Ferriby, including the pub, was swamped by a tidal surge. Colin McGurran, the Winteringham Fields owner and TV chef, took on the £500,000 renovation project, with a vision to bring the pub back to being the focal point of the village and something to be proud of.

    All I can say is "JOB DONE"! What a fantastic place...if only it was located within walking distance of our home.

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    Leeds has so much to offer!

    Leeds #4We have spent many a night out in Leeds, generally drinking but this time I decided to treat my husband to a surprise night away and booked a table for dinner. In our early days of dating, we use to love going to a Teppanyaki restaurant in Birmingham. It had been many years since we had last been and after a little research I found a Teppanyaki restaurant in Leeds.

    I hadn't told Steve that we were going out for a meal or where we was going. So once we had checked in at the hotel and dropped our bags off in the room, we went for a cheeky cocktail before hitting the town. Steve had asked for a Bloody Mary, extra spicy, and boy did he get that. I quite frequently ask barmen to choose me a cocktail, I tell them the sort of spirits that I like and then they make me a drink. I have to say, he made me a fantastic drink, a Pornstar Martini. I have never had one of these before and I can tell you now, I will be drinking a lot of them in the future.

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    Düsseldorf: Home of Altbier

    Dusseldorf 2015Altbier (German for old beer) for old alcoholics! Chris and Jen Daws invited us over to sample German hospitality as a warm up to our joint trip to Las Vegas in November. Jen is working in Germany for two years and has an apartment in Düsseldorf. Chris had the pleasure of working with Amanda a number of years back, hence how we all met. We have lots in common as individuals and couples, with a love of beer being top of the list. We flew out of Birmingham after work on Friday, meeting up with Chris in the Wetherspoon's in the departure hall. We flew with German Wings and Birmingham to Düsseldorf is only a short hop. After a quick and easy transfer via train we arrived at Jen's apartment to a very warm welcome...and more beer!

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    Real Ale & Pork Pies

    York #05York, founded by the Romans as Eboracum in 71AD, is a historic walled city in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and offers a wealth of historic attractions; including York Minster and a variety of cultural and sporting activities making it a popular tourist destination.

    However, even though this is all well and good, for us, York is a favourite destination for two other activities; drinking a wide selection of real ales and eating the most delicious pork pies, topped with a slice of black pudding! This is pub crawl heaven.

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    The Madras

    Spice ClubWe were over in Hull for a very important reason; Amanda was finalising the salary package on her new job. In a month, my lovely wife will be back in the food industry and working locally, which is awesome news.

    The meeting finished late and we were hungry, but where do you go to eat at 9:45pm on a Wednesday evening in Hull? A curry house of course!

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    1901 - The Turkey Cafe

    wpid-wp-1441009700371.jpgIt was a 'school night' and our first visit into Leicester for a night out. We stumbled across a gem of a place called 1901 - The Turkey Cafe and so glad we did. We had 30mins to kill before our table at Marco's New York Italian was ready and found this place just down the road.

    From the outside it didn't stand out, a small pavement seating area led to a slightly larger 'inside-out' area with wooden flooring and a few tables. The bar is found down the stairs in a lovely traditional speakeasy style basement. We had a swift beer, a fine Brooklyn Summer Ale, headed for our meal and promptly returned for more!

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    The Beckwood, Scunthorpe

    Beckwood_SmallI've never had a 'local' pub other than The Beckwood (apart from a B&B in Telford, but that's another story)! However, OMG I don't change my boxer shorts as frequently as the brewery change their manager's!

    To be honest, it's not up to much, but it's our 'local' and therefore it's our Friday night, end of the work week, haven. Well, haven may be a little over the top, but I hope you get my gist. I've lived in Scunny (Scunthorpe for the uninitiated) for 7 and a bit years, but for every one of those 93 months The Beckwood is our second home. It's less than a mile from where we live and it's where the extended family congregate on a Friday as a minimum.

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    Where Do We Begin?

    MadeiraSo, we've decided to create a travel blog to record our adventures from August 2015 onwards. However, what about all the places we've visited before today? Well, rather than spending too much time trying to recall these trips and the stories behind them, I thought I'd just make a list of the countries we've visited as a couple since our very first trip together. We started off with a long weekend in Prague, capital of the Czech Republic, nicknamed "The City of a Hundred Spires". Our most recent adventure, well holiday really, was to Moon Palace Golf & Spa Resort in Cancun, Mexico. This was to celebrate my step-daughter Chloe's 18th birthday in July.

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