Bike Spotting In Amsterdam

Back in May, (how is it mid July already?!) G and I ventured to Amsterdam with some friends for a 2 day mini break. The reason for the trip was to surprise the boys with a trip to a computer game music concert, but we decided to add some sight seeing in their too. AKA BIKE SPOTTING IN AMSTERDAM ūüôā

Bikes-and-canals-Amsterdam

Firstly, I love that you can fly to Amsterdam in just 35 minutes from Stansted airport – that’s quicker than getting to London on the train! We flew with Easy Jet and stayed at the Radisson Blu Hotel at Amsterdam Airport. I can’t rate it highly enough (thanks Laura for finding a fab place!). Our room was delayed and we ended up with the entire mini bar for free. The boys were celebrating their birthdays and the staff went above and beyond for our stay. With shuttle buses to the airport for train connections, it was a great find.

Disclaimer – this is a photo heavy post! As we only had hand luggage I didn’t take my DSLR camera. I also couldn’t find my charger for my point and shoot, so this post is a mixture of phone photos and some great ones that Laura and Scott managed to snap on their camera. Laura has recently started her vintage blog/Instagram Lula Prima so do go and check it out!

Amsterdam-Bridges-and-Bikes

We spent a lot of time walking around the beautiful canals taking in the city scenery and spotting bikes. You know true friends when they point out the best bikes for you and wait patiently whilst you take photos. Laura had learnt lots about the construction of all the skinny houses in Amsterdam and told us that people paid tax based on the width of their homes. I think this was once the widest house in the city.

Widest-House-AmsterdamCanals-of-Amsterdam Canal-Houses-AmsterdamTall-Houses-AmsterdamOne of the beautiful things about visiting during May was that the blossom had fallen like a carpet across all of the canal streets. It felt a little magical and when I turned the corner to discover Wisteria too it was the icing on the cake.

Dutch-Bikes-Canals-Amsterdam Wisteria-In-Amsterdam Dutch-Bikes-Amsterdam

We enjoyed pancakes (an absolute must when you are in the city), had hipster coffee shop breaks and found sweet shops full of liquorice and chocolate. We spotted the Cheese Museum, some fantastic shops full of designer maker goods and bike shops on every corner.

The-Pancake-Bakery

Our concert was out at the formerly named Heineken Music Hall which was easily accessible by train. In fact, all of Amsterdam has brilliant public transport with affordable double decker trains (novelty!) and trams galore. We didn’t have time to explore on two wheels, but I definitely would if we went back. I did notice that whilst everyone cycles there, not one person wore a helmet.

Bikespotting-Amsterdam

At my request we wandered through the red light district briefly during one afternoon – I was genuinely just curious as to what it was like. A surreal experience to say the least and one I shall not forget. This was the one area of the city that did smell of pot, but we otherwise didn’t smell it that much.

Claireabellemakes-Tulips-of-Amsterdam Keukenhof-Tulip-Fields-Amsterdam

On our second day in Amsterdam, we took a bus 35 minutes out of the city to Keukenhof¬†tulip fields. I was thrilled to be their during the season (late March – mid May) as I had seen and heard so much about it. It was BEAUTIFUL. The pictures probably¬†can’t capture how vast and colourful it was. It even contained a petting zoo and more types of tulips than I ever knew existed. The bus and entry was about 25 Euros for a combo ticket which I thought was excellent value. You could spend an entire day there just enjoying the blooms and soaking in all the floral delights. Laura sat in a giant wooden clog, we saw a windmill or two and did some tourist shopping too.

Keukenhof-Tulips-2017 Tulips-Keukenhof-Amsterdam Windmills-and-Tulips-Amsterdam Tulip-Fields-AmsterdamWe were in Amsterdam during Rememberance day (occurs every 5 years), so there were lots of free music festivals around the city, which made for a great vibe. I wish we had more time as I really wanted to explore the museums – so I think we will go back next year at some point. I definitely need to stock up on Tony’s Chocolonely which is bloody amazing Dutch chocolate.

Tony's-Chocolonely

We ended our trip with more canal walking and bike spotting before catching the train back to the airport. One of the things I noticed most, is that Dutch people are so happy and friendly! I really enjoyed our brief visit to Holland and would love to explore more.

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I-Amsterdam-Sign

Have you ever been to Amsterdam?

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Glamping In Southwold

Last week G and I ventured to the Suffolk coast for a quiet getaway to go glamping near Southwold. In just a two hour drive, we had countryside and peace and quiet to really switch off and enjoy the start of British summer.

This post is mostly a journal for me, so I can remind myself that it is good to take time out and that I don’t need to go far away to relax. There are a ton of pictures for me to share today, but I hope you will enjoy my online postcard from the seaside! We ignored our phones for most of the trip and I completely forgot my make up bag so it was really liberating in more ways than one.

Our campsite offered these wooden glamping pods for just £60 a night including a double bed, bunk beds, shower and toilet, toaster, microwave and kettle. It was really quiet and had a nature trail to wander around too.

Glamping-Pods-Southwold

The lovely folk from Go Outdoors had sent us some camping items to try out and we made use of this wonderful picnic set which came in a back pack with a cool bag zip compartment.Backpack-Picnic-Set

They also sent us a disposable BBQ and this folding stool, so we got to work making an alfresco meal on the first evening.Camping-BBQ

The campsite had a great shop with lots of goodies and also colouring books!Animals-Colouring-Book

I took my knitting and G his current read to enjoy in the sunshine outside our pod.Knitting-and-Reading

I realised recently that I didn’t have Travel Scrabble! We had a couple of games in the sunshine of an evening.¬†Travel-ScrabbleThe campsite was around a 10 minute drive from the pretty seaside town of Southwold which gave us a patriotic welcome to celebrate the Queen’s birthday. There were tons of lovely little shops, bakeries and vintage havens to explore.Southwold-High-Street

We found a handmade market down a passage way where I also spotted some bikes (of course!).Bicycles-In-Southwold

The weather was AMAZING for the UK! After a quick rain shower on our arrival at the campsite, this seaside town offered us glorious sunshine for the rest of the trip. You’d think the cottage below was somewhere in the Med from this photo!English-Cottages-Suffolk Fish-Shop-Southwold Southwold-LighthouseThis old fashioned sweet shop on the high street was a great find, selling rock and fudge galore. Continue to the back of the shop and you will find a hidden tea room full of crocheted blankets and cake. I had fish and chips and cream soda for around ¬£9 and it was delicious. ¬†Sweet-Shop-and-Tea-Rooms-Southwold

Cheese shop and bikes. Enough said.Nutters-Cheese-Shop-Southwold

Of course we ventured to the beach to explore the sandy coastline and beach hut views. The cliff top has a lovely costal path which is lined with wild flowers. I always smile when I see a Poppy as it was my Nan’s name. It almost feels as though she is saying hello each time I see one.¬†Southwold-Beach-Front-SuffolkThe beach huts were full of colour and smiles, with families enjoying the good weather. In the UK we have to make the most of it as our summer’s are never that ¬†consistent.¬†Coloured-Beach-Huts Glamping-At-The-Beach-Southwold Mint-Beach-Hut Striped-Beach-Huts-Suffolk-CoastI couldn’t resist kicking off my sandals and running onto the beach. When I was a kid I hated the sand in my toes and used to wear wellingtons boots on the beach.Pastel-Beach-Huts-Southwold

Southwold Pier really impressed me even though it is quite small! We ended up having coffees and a picnic on the pier as the weather was so glorious.Southwold-Beach-Suffolk

As you enter the pier, you find the sweet shop and classic arcades to enjoy.
Arcades-Southwold-PierRetro-Sweets-CartI am still thinking about how I can get one of these slimming pier mirrors in my house….Mirrors-On-Southwold-Pier-Claireabellemakes Southwold-Beach-Viewed-From-The-PierThe pier boasted a wonderful tea room, a restaurant, sweet shops, gift shops, arcades and an amazing gallery of ‘handmade’ arcade machines that were completely weird and wonderful. Take a look here to see what I mean!

The branding for the pier was really spot on – as a business owner I was impressed haha! We of course came away with some sweets as souvenirs.Sweets-from-Southwold-Pier

On our third and final day in the town, we ventured across some local footpaths towards the Southwold Harbour. Walks-Near-Southwold

The walk took us a few miles across flat lands and even a golf course. We met lots of couples out for a wander with their dogs, and spotted some wild rabbits, a  Heron and even a grass snake on our walks.
Southwold-HarbourWe debated what these flowers were Рa pink daisy perhaps? Neither of us are  knowledgeable about plants or flowers so perhaps you can enlighten us.Wild-Flowers-SuffolkOf course no trip to the seaside is complete without an ice cream cone and flake. We sat on the beach front enjoying these and took in as much fresh air as we could before returning home to the city. Ice-Cream-at-the-BeachThanks for letting me share our mini break today!

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Spring In Edinburgh

Following on from the Edinbugh from Up High¬†walking post on Wednesday, I’m sharing some more places to visit in Edinburgh. We spent 4 days in the city and were incredibly lucky with the weather. It was so Spring like I got freckles! Here are a few things we got up to including some recommendations for the tastiest places to eat in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh-Airport Walking-Salisbury-Crags

Of course we did some really touristy things like visiting Edinburgh Castle. The views are great if you have a clear day and you can watch the 1pm canon being fired over the city rooftops each day except Sundays. Top tip – visit the whisky gift shop to find the Ludicrously Good Fudge. Totally amazing and worth breaking the diet for.

Edinburgh-Castle Edinburgh-Castle-Spring

One day we took a walk to Dean Village (needed to burn off the fudge) and wandered along the Water of Leith Walkway. On a sunny day this is so beautiful and I can imagine when the trees are leafy green it is even more picturesque. We walked home via Stockbridge to find a local food market and lots of places to eat and drink.

Dean-Village-Edinburgh

Water-of-Leith-Edinburgh Water-of-Leith-Walkway-Edinburgh

Beyond Dean Village, we also found the¬†Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art which had a lovely little cafe serving lovely BIG slices of cake. We didn’t stop here for long but I hope we can visit again.

Scottish-National-Gallery-Of-Modern-Art

Art-Installation-Edinburgh

We basically ate our way around the city enjoying haggis and even a deep fried mars bar for a novelty late night snack. Our friend took us to Urban Angel for one of the best brunches I have ever had. It gets pretty busy so we had to wait a while for a table but it was VERY good. They serve plenty of juices, fresh salads and cake too.

Urban-Angel-Cafe-Edinburgh

Other notable places to eat and drink were the hipster coffee shop¬†Artisan Roast on Broughton Street, Civerinos Italian Street Food (never seen pizza like it) and El Cartel for the best tacos and enchilladas I’ve ever had.

Artisan-Roastery-Edinburgh

Bars were a pretty cool affair in Edinburgh. The first was Panda and Sons which looks like an old school barbers shop from the outside. Head down a staircase and open a bookcase to find an underground bar. We also sampled some delicious cocktails at the Lucky Liquor Co which were topped with marshmallows and served alongside an Elton John album or two.

One last highlight was the Coco Chocolatiers shop which sells delicious handmade chocolate wrapped in the most beautiful paper packaging. We may have gone back for a second trip as it was that good and being a stationery geek I was really drawn in by the patterned papers. Totally going to be shopping via their online shop at Christmas time as I think their bars will make great gifts.

Coco-Chocolate-Shop-Edinburgh Handmade-Chocolate-Edinburgh Coco-Chocolate-selection Coco-Chocolate-Edinburgh

We had a fantastic time in the city and found the locals to be so friendly and helpful. This time I missed the Edinburgh Yarn Festival, but I think it might be worth a trip back up to Scotland to stock up on wool and maybe take a highlands road trip one day!

Oh and of course I did some bikespotting in Edinburgh! Not sure I could manage to cycle there with all those hills……

Bikespotting-Edinburgh

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Edinburgh From Up High

Edinburgh has been on my places to visit list for so long, so I was really excited to visit at the start of Spring last weekend. G and I took a quick 1 hour flight from Stansted and hopped on a tram into the city centre. Our friend lives in the city, so he put us up for 4 days and took us to all the best places to visit in Edinburgh.

Our trip basically consisted of two activities. Walking up hills and eating loads. So for today’s post I want to share with you all the photos I took in Edinburgh from up high. There are so many places to get a great view of the city and we were so lucky to have such beautiful weather! Here are the places we visited….it’s a picture heavy post, but hopefully you will enjoy them.

Scottish-Flag-Places-to-go-in-Edinburgh

Arthur’s Seat¬†is the main peak of the group of hills which form most of Holyrood Park. The hill is 250.5m in height with many different routes to the peak which overlook the city and Firth of Forth. It was busy as the sun was out, but the views and sometimes steep sections were well worth it. The light was ace and it felt like a good leg work out to burn off the fudge, ice cream and full scottish breakfast…..

Arthurs-Seat-Edinburgh Climbing-Arthurs-Seat Portobello-From-Arthurs-Seat Views-From-Arthurs-Seat

At the spur of the hill is Salisbury Crags¬†– the ledge which extends to the right handside. We walked this on a different day to Arthur’s Seat (our legs were feeling it!). It wasn’t as steep and offered a different view of the city towards Edinburgh Castle and down over Holyrood Palace.

Salisbury-Crags Holyrood-Palace Views-Of-Edinburgh Edinburgh-From-Salisbury-Craigs Claireabellemakes-In-Edinburgh

In Princes Street Gardens stands Scott Monument¬†61 metres above the ground. For a ¬£4 entry fee you can climb a spiral staircase in the centre of the monument stopping at different levels to enjoy 360 degree views of the city including the castle, Arthur’s Seat, the coast and Princes Street. Towards the top the staircase gets VERY tight, so it was a real test for someone who gets anxiety in small spaces. The views were totally worth the 287 steps, especially as it was so sunny!

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Scott-Monument-Edinburgh-Views Arthurs-Seat-From-Scott-Monument Princes-Street-From-Scott-Monument Edinburgh-Castle-From-Scott-Monument

Edinburgh Castle¬†is somewhere which is well worth visiting too. It’s not just for history fans as the views across the rooftops are pretty awesome. On a clear day you can see hills and even the dry ski-slope.

Views-From-Edinburgh-Castle Canon-View-Edinburgh-Castle Views-Of-Edinburgh-From-The-CastlePanoramic-View-From-Edinburgh-Castle

Walking up to Calton Hill is a great activity if you have an hour or so free. It is the location of the National Monument and Nelson Monument which costs £4 to climb the 143 steps and visit the exhibition. There is an open air cafe at the top of the hill if you need a bit of cake to recharge too.

Nelson-Monument-Edinburgh National-Monument-Scotland Edinburgh-From-Nelson-Monument

I’m saving the rest of my photos for a second blog post which I will share later this week. They include the best chocolate in Edinburgh, hipster coffee shops, underground bars and of course some bikespotting.

For now I’ll leave you with the last shot I got from up high on the way home.

Flying-Home-From-Edinburgh

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Maps and The Explorer

I am fascinated by maps. I’m not quite sure why.

World Map Print

Source

I used to study the atlas as a child and look for random places. I wouldn’t say I’m extremely well travelled, but I do like to visit new countries and study the maps of surrounding areas. On flights, I put the map system on the screen and watch as the journey progresses. G doesn’t seem as excited when I repeatedly point out where we are in the world and all the funny place names.

When I first moved to Cambridge, I bought a pocket A-Z and went out at the weekends on my bicycle, looking for streets and paths to explore.

I’m not sure what it is that I find so interesting about maps. Perhaps it is discovering new names of places I didn’t know existed, or the magnitude that we are part of this huge planet and can travel so easily around it.

This interest has influenced my craft passion for sure. I’m drawn to map print items and just searching for ‘map crafts’ on Pinterest¬†gives me a whole heap of ideas to work with. It’s just a pity vintage maps are so expensive or difficult to acquire.

For now, I’ve created an Etsy Treasury called ‘The Explorer’, which I hope you will agree is full of beautiful items on the theme of travel.

I’d love to hear which item you would favourite.


Washi Tape, WIDE Japane…

$7.50

Chevron Passport Holder…

$5.00

life travel photograph …

$28.00

Vintage Gladiator Suitc…

$75.00

Leather Travel Wallet /…

$99.00

Pastel stripe canvas Ba…

$92.70

Cyber Monday Etsy BOGO …

$35.00

Postcard blanks – set o…

$10.00

Vintage Mint Green Impe…

$72.00

Map Envelopes A2 with L…

$10.00

His n Hers – Personaliz…

$35.00

Vintage Map Pendant, Cu…

$12.00

Antique Travel Book – C…

$32.00

Vacation Journal, Trave…

$17.00

vintage globe / mid mod…

$32.00

Vintage oversized shade…

$45.00

Treasury tool supported by the dog house

You can find photos of my travels on Flickr, although I’ve yet to add the ones from my Vancouver trip!

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