Villa Gadea, Altea

The Costa Blanca is one of the most popular European holiday destinations. Whilst certain spots are often overrun with hen and stag dos, scattered along the coast you will find some of the old, traditional fishing towns and villages. Little pockets which have escaped the wave of tourism and modernisation that has already claimed much the Spanish coastline.  These places are hidden gems, and just waiting to be explored. Continue reading “Villa Gadea, Altea”

Travel Essentials

I love packing. Whether it’s for a short UK mini break or a two week holiday abroad, I love getting organised for a good journey somewhere.

Everything from podcast obsessions to moisture keeping make-up and cosy ponchos, here are my travel essentials.  Continue reading “Travel Essentials”

The Digital Detox

Thanks to iPhones, iPads, smartphones and tablets we are always switched on. Outside working hours we find ourselves keeping tabs on emails, logging on at home and sending the odd email reply at the weekend.

Then there is social media.
Continue reading “The Digital Detox”

The Dreamiest of Them All – Peter Island Resort, BVI

The last of my BVI posts is all about Peter Island – an incredible little luxury resort just 30 minutes across the bay from Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. We spent a couple seperate days on Peter Island, the first just as beach goers, and the second as guests at the Spa, and I could have happily spent my whole time in the BVI here!

What is most incredible about Peter Island Resort is that anyone can take the boat across and spend the day on the beach there. The Peter Island ferry is just $20, and day guests are welcome to have coffee at the bar area by the pool and enjoy a spot of lunch at Deadman’s Beach Bar & Grill. The last ferry home is at 6pm, and you’ll be joined the most of the resort staff making their commute back to Tortola.

Like the rest of our island hopping in the BVI, the trip out there was fabulous.

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On approach we spotted the Peter Island Resort flag, nestled in amongst the BVI flag and the Union Jack. I knew I could get to grips with a resort that had it’s own flag!

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For those visiting for the day and heading solely to the beach, the poolside bar is the perfect place to relax with a morning coffee, and the re-group at the end of the day before hopping on the ferry home.

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I can confirm they mix an excellent raspberry mojito, just what you need after hard day’s work at the beach eh!

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The beaches are breathtaking. White, white sands and turquoise waters just the perfect temperature for cooling offer and paddling around in.

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As I mentioned on our second trip we returned as spa guests, so this time we took a short five minute walk past the beach up to the spa hut.

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We were booked in for massages at 4pm, so we made sure we headed across in time for a spot of lunch and to make use of the incredible setting and spa facilities. Now I know I’ve described almost everything about the BVI as stunning, and dreamy, and delicious… but this place is the dreamiest of all!

First up, the spa reception was scented lemon grass candles and the aroma was absolutely delicious, I was delighted I had chosen an aromatherapy massage for later in the day.

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Once we were checked in, we placed our lunch orders and headed through to the changing rooms where we swapped our beachwear for the softest, silkiest poolside robes and flip flops and headed outside.

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The grounds were stunning and little white butterflies flitted in between the trees and bushes. By this point I was fairly confident I would enjoy relaxing here for the day…

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And if the infinity pool isn’t enough, down a little path, off to the right of the pool is a semi-hidden hot tub with two perfectly placed deckchairs…

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This little platform was perfect for cooling off thanks to the sea breezes.

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We broke the afternoon up with a spa lunch, served on the patio just outside the main spa area. The menu choices were all super healthy salads and meze boards, all lovely and light – just the sort of food you feel like eating at a spa day when it’s 30 degrees outside.

I tucked into a Mediterranean Salad which arrived in a bento style box with three compartments. Salad leaves and tomato in the first, hummus with wholemeal pitta breads in the middle and a delicious, zingy tabbouleh salad at the end.

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A couple next to us were enjoying a more substantial lunch with a bottle of wine before popping of to treatments in their very own private hut – so that’s also an option if you’re feeling like really indulging!

Some more sunning and relaxing by the pool, and soon enough it was treatment time. The indoor spa area at Peter Island is just a stunning as outside. Lots of marble, drapes, amazing scents coming from the treatment rooms and spacious hallways make for a very serene and calming environment.

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Flavoured waters, fruit teas and fried fruits and nuts are also available to snack on throughout the day.

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My massage lasted for 75 minutes and was absolutely fantastic. I’ve only ever had a few proper massages before, once at the One Spa in Edinburgh and another at Sandy Lane in Barbados. This Peter Island Spa massage was every inch as good as the others, if not better. The therapist was so lovely and friendly and really excellent at her job, and at the end of the massage I enjoyed five minutes of lying underneath warm, scented towels.

When the time came to leave, I well and truly floated off to catch the last ferry back to Tortola. Needless to say I was reluctant to leave such a beautiful spot, and desperate to plan another trip back soon!

If you’re not quite ready to leave paradise just yet, here are some more gorgeous beach scenes and another incredible BVI resort. Go on then, pop the kettle on and start day dreaming!

Island Hopping in the BVI

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Virgin Gorda is most famously known for The Baths at the southern end of the island. Here you can see evidence of the volcanic origins of the island, and the beach is strewn with massive rocks and boulders, and caves like structures have formed, creating magical spaces which you and swim through and explore.

Until now, The Baths were the only part of the island I had explored. This time we ventured to the other side of the island where we were taken across to Biras Creek, an incredibly wholesome and relaxing luxury resort.

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Only accessible by boat or helicopter, and with only 31 suites, Biras Creek has a luxurious feeling of exclusivity and you really do feel as though you are hidden away from reality.

After hopping off the speedboat we had taken from Creek Harbour, a friendly welcome awaited us and we enjoyed a tour resort, rum or virgin cocktail in hand, and were shown to our suites. At this point we were also told how to work the resort bikes. That might seem odd, but with no brakes they require a skillful pedaling backwards motion to be mastered before you can go anywhere!

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Once I was happy I could break to a halt on the bike and would not go crashing into the lovingly pruned foliage on either side of the paths, the bikes were SO much fun! It was amazing to be able to whizz around the resort, and as there was a lot of relaxing to be done, it was also great to do a little activity, albeit minor.

The suites were fabulous. Fresh flowers decorated the rooms, and each little hut also had it’s own outdoor seating area.

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For those wanting to do more than just chill, day trips for diving or snorkelling are available, and keen sailors can take the resort’s Boston Whaler out for the day and explore the surrounding waters. The resort will even lend you a captain for the day if need be, so you don’t even need to know how to sail.

Down by the beach you will find kayaks, laser sailboats, hobie cats and paddle boards all available to play with. I noticed some guests begin their day with an 8.30am yoga session in one of the relaxing huts, and there is a full spa taking appointments each day.

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Thee flags by each set of chairs are to be used to let the bar staff know you would like a drink!

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The other place to relax during your stay is the pool. Looking out over the ocean, as you soak up the sun you hear the waves crashing on the beach below.

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Afternoon tea is served each day at 4pm over looking the bay. Home rock cakes, poundcake and sweets with a huge selection of teas and coffee…t really couldn’t be more dreamy!

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And the breakfast. Well. As you would expect, it was phenomenal. A full continental buffet awaits you in the rooftop restaurant serving delicious fresh watermelon, grapes and melons. Freshly baked breads, muffins and pots of tea and coffee are also laid out and hot breakfast items can be ordered too. The apple pecan pancakes with maple syrup did not disappoint, nor did the perfectly poached eggs benedict on home-made English muffins.

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Another eatery option whilst at Biras Creek is The Fat Virgin; a cute, laid back shack down at the dock. Perfect for lunch, you can enjoy delicious wraps and salads, watching the yachts come and go and planning the best strategy on how to change your life in order to buy one ASAP.

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In the evening we ventured across to Saba Rock for dinner. The bay in-between Biras Creek and Saba Rock was like a floating village, lite up with hundreds of sail boats, all docked for the night.

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On arrival, Saba Rock was buzzing, and we enjoyed a delicious dinner whilst we soaked up the holiday atmosphere. Unfortunately the light was too poor for images on my lowly camera phone, but I can tell you the Commodore’s Pasta dish was to die for. A large bowl of linguine, piled high with lobster (and lots of it too), mussels and prawns all tossed together in an indulgent creamy garlic and white wine sauce.

To give you a feel for the place, here are some amazing images from the Saba Rock facebook page.

Back at the resort, the gardens and paths were lined with the most beautiful plants, flowers and trees, all adding to the rustic and luxurious charm of the place.

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After copious amounts of lounging, biking and soaking up every inch of zen at Biras Creek, we reluctantly made our way back to Tortola, and the dramatic skies we witnessed on our drive back to the port at the other end of Virgin Gorda were a beautiful send off.

A perfectly stunning end to a dreamy couple of days.

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A Slice of Paradise

watermelon paradise

There really is no other way to describe the British Virgin Islands. Located in the Caribbean seas, this small but perfectly formed group of islands is truly amazing. I feel so fortunate to have family living there as it has given me a chance to explore an idyllic corner of the world I am sure I would otherwise never have found.

The BVI is a bit of a sailing mecca, and in the summer months (our winter) the bays are flooded with stunning yachts, owned and chartered, all making their way leisurely from one stunning island to the next. The sailing community bring the Caribbean ports alive at night, and there is no shortage of amazing places to dock for the night and relax.

Visiting the BVI is really all about island hopping, something you can do plenty of from Tortola, the island which has been my base for the past eight, glorious, sun-filled days.

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Tortola itself has an exciting menagerie of places to explore, and you can happily your time staying on days on island and not be bored. These views are fairly standard and in January you can expect a lot of sun, sand and sea, just as the postcards promised you.

We spent a lot of time pottering around the island, and found more than a few yummy eateries. We enjoyed Sunday brunch at Frenchmans, dinner and Fish ‘n Lime, and lunch and cocktails the Sugar Mill beach front restaurant.

I should mention brunch at Frenchmans was not just an eggs any way you like them affair… A cocktail and three courses are standard on a Sunday at this particular eatery, so it was a good job we weren’t in a hurry.

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A passion fruit Bellini was the only way forward for me.

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Fresh waffles with bacon and maple syrup, perfectly seared steak with a zingy hollandaise sauce, poached eggs with potato rosti (which was unbelievably tasty) and fish cakes were just some of the dishes we enjoyed.

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Then a creamy chocolate mouse and cheesecake to finish us off!

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After brunch we rolled down to the decking on the beach and set up camp for a couple of hours.

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Now let’s go slightly further afield and hop across to Marina Cay. This picture perfect island is located a short 10 minute ferry ride across from Trellis Bay on Tortola.

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Marina Cay is also home to the love story of Robb & Rodie White, a young couple who met in the BVI in the 1930’s, fell in love and decided to build a house on Marina Cay, making them the first people to inhabit the island. Today the house still stands, along with a classic Pussers Restaurant where you can enjoy some top notch food, including a lovely lobster and mango salad, some rum cocktails and then spend the rest of the day relaxing on the sandy shores in front of the restaurant.

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Like what you see? More BVI bliss coming in my next couple of posts…

Lost in my hot chocolate

I don’t often think of going to a hotel for a singular cup of tea, but in cities like Edinburgh, the hotels have really had to up their game and are now host to some really fantastic destination restaurants and tearooms. Of course the tearooms are often full of ladies who lunch or groups of afternoon tea goers, but don’t forget you can pop in just for a cuppa as well.

We did just that at the Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel at the bottom of Lothian Road. If you have not been since the refurbishment, it is well worth a visit. We headed to the Peacock Alley and were lucky to snaffle the last two armchairs available.

Back in the day this spot used to be Caledonian train station, and the Peacock Alley is actually the courtyard of the original station building. You can read a little more about the history of this glorious building here.Waldorf Astoria

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Mirrors

You can see some great now and then images from Lost Edinburgh, like this one:

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And the drinks were just as enjoyable as the setting.

Hot Chocolate

It might be £1 more for a hot chocolate, but enjoying the stunning interior of the Peacock Alley whilst a harpist twinkles away in the background, is worth it. Plus, it’s table service and the staff could not be more accommodating.

I know I’ll be back and not just for those lovely, complimentary buttery rounds of shortbread.

Welcome to Washington

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Not even a full week at home and I’m already dreaming of going back to Washington dc! For two, full, glorious weeks Mr F&P and I were basking in the stateside sunshine, and we only just managed to drag ourselves home last Sunday. The reason for visiting was the Boyd-Lee wedding – one of the most beautiful weddings I’ve ever been to, but I’ll blog about that later! If you’re just here for the foodie chat, head over to my Georgetown post and you can read about some of our foodie adventures there…

But for now, it’s all about downtown DC. We topped and tailed our trip with some time in Washington and as a huge, no, ENORMOUS West Wing fan, I was beyond excited to check out the White House, see Capitol Hill and soak up the history.

We decided to have a Monuments Day and try and see as many of the greats as possible in one go. This was A LOT of walking, but totally worth it. I knew my first port of call had to be to The White House – I didn’t realise it was so close to everyday life in DC. From our apartment we were able to walk straight down 16th Street, one minute we were crossing the road and the next thing I knew the most iconic building emerged before us. Of course it was mobbed with tourists, but we managed to get a few good shots. You’ll notice the weather improved as our day went on, but looking back I am grateful for the morning cloud cover. There’s nothing nice about red, burnt tourist shoulders!

Walking down 16th Street
Strolling down 16th Street
White House first glimpse
A rather stormy looking sky as we catch our first glimpse of the White House
TAH DAAAAH!
TAH DAAAAH!

Numerous White House selfies later (on my part, Mr F&P played it much cooler), we moved on to see Lincoln, and stood on the very step Martin Luther King delivered his “I have a dream” speech from – quite an incredible feeling. We had spotted the Lincoln monument as we were driving into DC and the sheer size of the columns and steps even from the road was incredible, never mind up close.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln up close

Lincoln collumns

The view looking out over the National Mall to the Washington Monument was breathtaking. Click on the panoramic pic to see in full size!

View from Lincoln to Washington

Panoramic view

I was going to say that we wandered through the rest of the national mall, but it was more of a decisive stride, knowing we had a lot to get around. From Lincoln we passed through the gardens of the National Mall and saw the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, then Martin Luther King Jr Memorial, followed by a walk around Tidal Basin to see the FDR and Jefferson Memorial, and we stopped for a breather at the Washington Monument.

Vietnam War Memorial

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The forgotten war

Korean war pool

And over to Martin Luther King Junior. The memorial structure is a direct reference to the line “Out of a mountain of despair, a stone of hope.” from his famous “I have a dream” speech.

Martin Luther King Jr Memorial

From there we wandered through FDR’s impressive memorial space, and the sun decided to join us for this part of the walk too.

FDR

FDR and dog

And how you could not want a picture with FDR’s Scottish terrier Fala!

Fala

Then on to our last stop before lunch, walking round Tidal Basin to the Jefferson Memorial building.

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View of Jefferson from tidal basin

A spot of lunch at the sculpture garden in the National Gallery of Art and we were re-energised and ready to take on Capitol Hill. I have no doubt the sunshine made this impressive building look even more awesome, and it certainly helped my photography skills.

A spot of lunch in the Sculpture Gardens at the National Gallery
Lunch with a view – Sculpture Gardens at the National Gallery of Art

Sculpture garden

And now for the fancy, sunshine filled photos….

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill panoramic

Capitol Hill close up

Isn’t it stunning? Unfortunately we weren’t able to get inside and have a look around, but we stood in awe outside for quite some time and soaked up some of the rays.

There are still plenty buildings and museums I’ve not mentioned to be seen around the National Mall as we didn’t cover all of it. I’d advise leaving yourself two if not three days if you really want to visit all the Smithsonian buildings and really make the most of that part of the city. Entry to the museums is free which unfortunately means a lot of queuing, and a lot of coach and school trips. However we did visit the International Spy Museum which wasn’t free, but a must visit for Bond fans.

After our intense day of history we spent the rest of the week hanging out with friends and visiting other areas such as Georgetown, Adams Morgan and Old Town Alexandria, so stay tuned for more stateside ramblings.