Girly East Anglia Staycation

In the current climate when travelling is so uncertain and loaded with potential issues staying a little closer to home has been the best option.

Whenever I get time off work I always want to get as far away from home as possible (usually by plane) and that leaves lots of places super close to home left unvisited!

Being a bit of bargain hunter and with so many businesses offering great deals at the moment to entice customers back in, I managed to plan a luxury, jam packed itinerary for some great prices!

We started our adventure in Cambridge on Tuesday! Cambridge- stunning architecture, great shops, lovely food, punting, history, museums and culture! There’s a lot to offer!

We parked at The Grand Arcade which until the end of October is £1 per hour! So super cheap in the shopping heart of Cambridge for the whole day! The Grand Arcade is such a lovely, modern shopping centre with a huge selection of shops. We were really lucky to have picked a gorgeous sunny day so walking around was so pleasant. Outside you’ll find the market square which has daily market from 10am-4pm selling a huge range of goods and food and then arts and crafts on Sundays!

Coffee is always a must when you’ve had a little road trip and I had read and heard endless rave reviews about Bould Brothers Coffee! These guys now have 2 locations in Cambridge due to their success and I can vouch it is bloody nice coffee AND the team are REALLY nice! Great to see them using Strangers coffee which is local to Norwich.


Cambridge is hugely famous for punting; punting is a guided river tour of Cambridge by water, you can do it in groups, privately or have a go at chauffeuring the punt yourself! We went with the AMAZING Let’s Go Punting who kindly gifted me the experience for my first time with my mum! We had a shared punt which is divided by clear Perspex screens to keep people distanced safely with new Covid measures. I absolutely loved the experience, being on the water is so tranquil, the knowledgeable chauffeurs regale you with facts and information about your surroundings on the tours, all whilst your eyes feast on the backdrop of architectural grandeur of the iconic colleges. You glide under historic bridges, surrounded by wildlife and absorb all the beauty Cambridge has to offer. I can’t wait to visit again when it’s chilly and wrap up warm with a hot drink and see the colours of a new season. This experience was so special with my mum but would be great for a date or a group trip (up to 6) and I saw lots of doggies enjoying the punting on my travels too!

As a real foodie I always do my research of where I’m going to eat when I go away. I don’t like to visit chains and want to know we won’t be disappointed (yes I  am a control freak), after a few recommendations I decided on Six which is located on the sixth floor of the very trendy Varsity Hotel and Spa and to my delight when I booked on their website they had extended the Eat Out To Help Out concept and offered 50% off food up to £10 per person! We requested an outside table which is on an a terrace with panoramic views over the rooftops of Cambridge and hanging colourful flowers overhead as you look up to the sky, there is also a retractable cover to protect when required from the elements so your experience is never interrupted!

They have such a gorgeous bar in this restaurant and a huge range of gin and cocktails that I would love to sample but I didn’t because my mum was driving and I didn’t wanna be an annoying drunk on the way to Newmarket!

There is a truly varied menu with something for everyone, we shared the scallop and smoked salmon starters then I had baked cod and mum went for the king prawn and chorizo skewers, we each had a soft drink and an alcoholic drink and after discount the bill was £73.50.

On the very top floor there is another large roof terrace space with a bar where you can soak up the sun or wrap up under the stars. I would definitely love to stay here!

Our day in Cambridge had come to an end so we hopped in the car and took the journey down to Bedford Lodge Hotel and Spa in Newmarket. We booked their ‘Gourmet Getaway’ offer, which for £220 which included room, usage of the leisure centre (not the spa which is separate), £30 per head towards an evening meal in the award-winning Squires restaurant, a bottle of house red or white wine and breakfast the following morning.

It’s a beautiful and impressive venue with lots of racing memorabilia around to earmark its location and history. The hotel public areas are well maintained and very clean and so was our room. We booked a twin room and due to Covid restrictions it was still nice to see the inclusion of robes, Molton Brown toiletries and lovely tea and coffee facilities as I know some places have decided to remove these amenities for safety but I feel that would definitely have impacted the feel of the stay (please note if you want to use leisure facilities you need to take towels from the room and the showers are not open). The weather was just lovely so we went and sat outside for some drinks and the atmosphere was great as there was lots of people and a lovely buzz!


We had wine, champagne and cocktails and just had a giggle until our meal in the restaurant. I carried on my fishy theme and had a prawn cocktail and lobster mac ‘n’ cheese, the food was really lovely and the restaurant has a modern décor with dimmed ambient lighting which creates a nice mood. We finished the evening off with an espresso martini outside before hitting the hay.

Go to sleep full and wake up for more food, that’s what it’s all about right?

These days there is almost an awkwardness to know what’s what and in a hotel with a continental and cooked breakfast option its a bit like “Ooooh, what am I allowed?” So, I’m sure this will be the situation in most places, the continental options are available to order and you can have as many as you choose- like a buffet, then you have the cooked breakfast option of which you choose one. It was a lovely breakfast. Great coffee, my fave oat milk too! They have a signature green ‘Bedford Lodge Smoothie’ which was fresh and contained wheatgrass for a pick me up. We shared some Baron Bigod cheese and ham charcuterie off the ‘continental’ menu and I had the Bedford Lodge Full English and mum went for the sourdough toast with avocado and poached eggs. Breakfast was exceptional as was the service and it’s always a pleasure to see a venue sourcing as many local ingredients as possible.

The spa at Bedford Lodge is in a separate building to the main hotel and unfortunately is not open Mondays and Tuesdays so we couldn’t use it but we did go and have a look around before heading off on Wednesday morning. This is a PROPER spa, finished to an extremely high standard, lovely main areas in the hydro pool, an extensive treatment list, a lovely seating area where you can enjoy light bites and beverages and the staff were so welcoming and accommodating despite only looking around. They open evenings too for twilight deals so if this sounds up your street have a look at their offering here.

The ‘Gourmet Getaway’ deal is only on for September but do keep a look out as given the world at the moment; businesses are definitely having to adapt with deals for a new clientele.

From Newmarket we moved onto Bury St Edmunds, Bury is a short and simple drive from Newmarket and is a beautiful town rich in history with a lovely shopping centre.

We parked at Ram’s Meadow which set us back only £2.30 for the whole day in a large open air car park so one to remember if you plan a visit.

We headed straight from there to the beautiful Abbey Gardens ‘the abbey was once one of the richest and most powerful Benedictine monasteries in England. Its remains are extensive and include the complete 14th century Great Gate and Norman Tower, as well as the impressive ruins and altered west front of the immense church.

The relics of the martyred Anglo-Saxon king St Edmund, whose remains were moved to this site in 903, and his shrine became a place of pilgrimage. The abbey itself was founded in 1020 and grew in power and wealth up until its suppression in 1539.’

When I was a little girl I wanted to be an archaeologist so ruins are always a huge treat for me! The gardens are kept immaculate by volunteers and they were in the process of changing over to the winter plants!

Even after a long walk we were still full from breakfast so we tried to get as many steps in as possible before our lunch which was booked for 2 at the gorgeous Angel. We explored the grounds of the cathedral and found a nature reserve walk with lovely little goats! We then headed to The Arc shopping centre and rummaged through the sales and got some bargains then on the way down to lunch we hit every charity shop too!  I managed to get a lush black Hugo Boss blazer for £9.99! The Angel is a hotel and has a bar and restaurant and is a stunning and huge ivy covered building in the heart of Bury. The Angel are still extending their Eat Out to Help Out too for September which was a bonus when booking but we were still so full we couldn’t manage a full meal which also meant no Lottie’s waffles after either!! The restaurant is just stunning though, I adore the decor with different touches of modern art and the colour palette in this room. We just had soft drinks and shared a lovely antipasti board for 2 which was just enough! The perfect end to a lovely 2 days!

The Hippodrome Circus Great Yarmouth

If you are looking for a fun and entertaining day or night out for the kids and adults too, look no further that the Hippodrome circus In Great Yarmouth! Since Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron and the cast of The Greatest Showman melted the hearts of film lovers across the globe, circus is more popular than ever! In 2018 we saw the 250th anniversary of circus and we are incredibly lucky to have one of the ‘last surviving, purpose built, total circus buildings’ in the UK right on our doorstep in East Anglia! The Hippodrome Great Yarmouth was built back in 1903 and has been kept in the the most impeccable condition with its original features preserving the traditional circus charm. The Hippodrome’s shows combine acts across stage, air and water and it has 1 of the only 3 rings in Europe, with the feature of the floor lowering to fill with water and transform into a pool, where audiences can enjoy this range of talents, show after show!

The Hippodrome has been delightfully handed down through the Jay family and with the well-known local hero Peter Jay sharing his 40 years of the hippodrome experience last year and handing the torch over to his son Jack, who is our fantastic ring leader and leading man in the circus come-show ‘Pirates’; the family message is very much alive and present here. 

From the second I walked through the doors of the beautiful building I was hit with a wall of nostalgia that I am always subconsciously craving. I am obsessed with times gone by and being able to step inside a piece of history evokes every sense I have. This is such an incredibly loved building, inside and out and you are literally walking in time in a place of entertainment history. The retro and charming interior has been cared with love and does nothing but compliment the experience. The walls are covered in posters and memorabilia from the shows hosted over the years and gives you a glimpse into how circus was in the days of animals and odd balls, as opposed to the unique and raw talent from over the world which we see today.



Jack and his team spend each season between shows not only script writing but also attending and researching shows to source the most exciting, original and ground breaking acts. This keeps the Hippodrome fresh and exciting each show for all the new guests but for the die-hard loyal fans that attend every show year after year. With the exception of Christmas day this is a 24/7 job and which the love, passion and dedication of the team we continue to see it thrive and succeed as much as ever!

The Hippodrome hosts 4 house shows per year which fall in line with the school holidays to give as many opportunities as possible for families to attend, they do 2-3 shows per day from afternoon to evening. Kicking off the year with the Pirates Live over Easter, then the longest running summer show ‘Circus and Water Spectacular’, October half term gets creepy with the Halloween Spooktacular and then seeing out the festive period with Christmas Spectacular!

You will get to know and love the dynamic comedy stylings of Jack Jay and Johnny Mack who’s on stage chemistry is perfect and their humour infectious. Great laughs for the kids between acts and fantastic nods to the adult audience with some cryptic ‘in’ jokes. The shows without Johnny feature other well-known names from the UK entertainment scene so the hosts are always a delight. 

The global acts the guys source are phenomenal, I have been attending most shows for the past couple of years and without fail every single time I see something and I can’t quite believe my eyes! I’m squirming and squealing  with adrenaline and I am literally on the edge of my seat! They vary from weird, to unbelievable and super extreme but every single act I cannot fault and excites me enormously. 

I don’t think I can gush mush more about the circus do you? Seriously, book some tickets, take a mate, when you arrive grab some popcorn and a drink from the licensed bar and sit back and enjoy the show! 

After the show keep half an hour spare to visit the on site museum behind the ring where you can look into the rich history of this circus with a huge amount of old outfits, props and memorabilia it is a fascinating insight to the years of rich on site circus history and so much more! 

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do.

H x 

10 things about Secrets The Vine that you won’t know until you get there

  1. They are super environmentally aware, they encourage people to not use straws but the straws which they do have are biodegradable. They also advise people on the impact of washing their bed linen and towels daily and encourage not to do this.
  2. Every single restaurant has a full vegan menu! 
  3. All of their toiletries and cruelty free and have the leaping bunny logo 
  4. When you order room service for 2 during normal hours (i.e not late night dining) they bring your food up on a table which you can sit at! There’s also the option to have breakfast in your room and the same goes for this so you can eat on the balcony! I saw load of photos of people eating on their balcony on instagram and we had a junior suite so I thought we should have all bells and whistles and this is what I was seeing! 
  5. I read quite a few posts enquiring on whether to tip in pesos or USD and we asked our butler, they 100% do not mind what you tip in, we had both, anyway point 5- there is no pressure or obligation to tip in this hotel the staff will still give you amazing service either way! They are so incredible we wanted to tip but don’t feel pressure! 
  6. If you aren’t one to read through things there is a pillow menu, however the pillow on the bed is amazing either way! 
  7. The gym provides earphones if you forget yours, there is yoga daily in the morning, a super mini spin studio in the gym and the equipment in there is pretty up to date! 
  8. The hotel is only 6 years old so everything is quite brand spanking new as far as the lifespan of a hotel goes.
  9. All of the a la carte restaurants are first come first serve so no need to worry about booking, they have a beeper system if you have to wait. You can eat at them all as many times as you want! The sushi is absolutely incredible and I had 3 fillet steaks that week at the grill! Tacos daily on the lunch buffet and the guac is NOT extra and it comes by the barrel! The food is incredible here! 
  10. There is USB connections in the rooms for charging so do not fret if you forget you plug adapters! 

Tips on how to book a great trip with Love Holidays

I always get asked how I find such good deals for things and how it always looks like I’m going lovely places and if there is something which I want to do I will find a way of making it happen in the best way possible, it just takes patience and persistence. Apart from my most recent holiday to Mexico which was booked through British Airways I have always gone through Love Holidays. For me and my personal financial situation their low deposit and installment option works best for me and I find it the most affordable way to book something several months in advance and not have to pay the full balance up front or put anything on a credit card. I’ve booked many different trips with Love Holidays now and I have come up with a bit of a system that I wanted to share.

First up if possible I would really recommend doing this on a computer instead of a phone if possible it makes it a lot easier. 

So go in to the site and set where it is that you want to go. When looking for a beach holiday I normally put anywhere in and then filter it down by minimum temperature and take it from there, if you know where you want to go then you can put in your specific location or you can also put in multiple locations too so its really flexible.

The next most important thing for me is to filter by star and filter by trip advisor rating, star rating of the hotel is something that will be different for person to person, I generally go 4* or above as in many countries the star rating standards are never as good as in the UK but that is of course each to their own, however Trip Advisor rating for me I find non negotiable, so filter it to 4 or above. 4 out of 5 really is the lowest I would go, 4.5 or higher and you know you’re playing it safe that its going to be pretty good.

There’s lots of different things that you can filter out for your requirements- that you do or don’t want on your holiday and once you have set the parameters sort by ‘Trip Advisor rating high to low’ 

This is a good way of those hidden gems coming to the top of the list instead of the most popular statistically, the cheapest or the biggest saving. I would do this first and then filter by price after if you wish and then you can cross reference against the ones which you saw high up the TA rating list.

Then in a separate window pull up trip advisor and have a little look through recent reviews, maybe read some of the bad ones to see if it’s people with way too high expectations or if they’re being ultra picky or just generally if their issue is something that wouldn’t bother you or the bad reviews genuine red flags about this hotel or resort. Have a look through the traveler photos too to give you a bit of an idea of what to expect. 

Then lastly for good measure because I’m ridiculously anal and hate being disappointed when holiday time is so precious I go and see if they have an Instagram and have a nosy at what’s on there, have a look at people who have tagged them and also shots which are tagged at that location. 

By this time you should know if you want to go to this place or not so if you do go through to the payment screen and select which deposit option you want to do as there is a few and you are good to go! Make sure when you select the room you pick the option with deposit option otherwise when you go to pay it won’t be there. 

You can log in and pay more at anytime outside of the scheduled options and can pay off early too if you wish to, just got to ‘manage my booking’ 

Just a note to be aware of with flights-

Ryanair’s current baggage policy literally includes a small handbag- like the kind you would use day to day for phone, keys, makeup etc. If you want to take a hand luggage case as well the cheapest way to do this is add priority boarding, this adds a standard size hand luggage case per person.

With Easyjet it includes a standard hand luggage case with no weight restriction, however, if you have a handbag on you with you purse/passport in etc it must fit into your case before you board as to have 2 bags you must be an Easyjet plus passenger and this is a yearly membership.

For further info please check the airlines websites! 

Love Holidays have a really good January sale too and other sales throughout the year so keep your eyes peeled for booster deals!

I hope this helps and you find some amazing deals! 

Safe and happy travels! 


Top Tips for Travelling from Gatwick Airport- South Terminal

Going to the airport can feel like a real chore sometimes, get up at an ungodly hour, sit in the car for ages and then spend a few hours in a crowded airport feeling restless to reach your destination! I hear you! That’s how I usually feel too but this time round I made sure that was not the case and my unwinding and relaxing started the second we arrived on the airport tarmac and I want to share my top tips with you guys too!

Before your trip download yourself the Gatwick airport app, it’s free to download and has so many handy features from where to eat and shop, live flight updates and reminders like on the day when its time to head to the gate so you don’t have to keep checking the boards, it has exclusive offers to take advantage of in and before the airport and links to book other airport services too!

I’m a bit of an obsessive planner as I hate stress and things not going right so I’m always one for being super organized when going away. I booked my parking way in advance and even got a discount code too. There’s often codes in the Gatwick app for parking discounts, allowing you to get the best parking for the best price! Of course we went for valet parking so all you have to do is drive in, drop off your car and jobs a good ‘un! It literally could not have been any more simple! Leaving the car for valet parking for 8 days and an add on of premium security only cost £62 with our discount code which I think was amazing value, so, top tip one- book in advance and look for discounts before booking anything- do your research! Ease and luxury does not need to break the bank when you’ve already shelled out for a holiday and if you are like me will be watching the pennies!

As I previously mentioned we added premium security as an add on in advance, for £5 per person we do this every time we travel anywhere, you can book this beforehand or do it on the day at the airport though if you just are not sure, you get more private and separate fast track lanes with little to no queue, it is much more swift and slick than normal security! An absolute must for the impatient and easily restless! There is also the option to do this for fast track passport control on the way home too so you can make an efficient airport experience go full circle. This too can be booked on the app and often has an offer active!

So once you’re through security what’s next? For some people its grabbing those Duty Free bargains, this airport has some lovely shops and shopping options with all the usual airport classics, Boots, Dune, Superdry and even a mini Harrods, but more me it’s getting a bite to eat and something to drink! There’s some kind of time/space continuum in the airport when you feel like you have no boundaries and anything goes regardless of time, all those travelers from over the world, it’s deffo 5 o’clock on someones watch! 6am, glass of wine? Totally acceptable.

You have your choice of eateries and watering holes here in the South Terminal, I had to narrow it down to a top 3 out of Nandos (they do a brekkie in the Airport alternate universe and it sounds awesome), Caviar House and Prunier (oysters and champagne are always a good idea) but I opted for pic number 1 – Grain Store. They have a really big and varied breakfast menu with so many options which spoke to my nutritionally conscious, gym bunny soul that I’m leaving on British soil so we decided to give it a go! NB- For all those ‘Spoons fans, the Wetherspoons app for table service works in the airport too so no queuing!

The service was amazing and the decor is lovely! It doesn’t feel like you’re in an airport with the rustic decor and low lighting! Add 2 Bloody Mary’s to the mix and we were feeling positively relaxed! (Just to add this was 44 minutes after pulling in to the car park! That’s how speedy a morning it was)

To eat I went for mushrooms on toast with poached eggs and J had the full english with added chorizo, the food came out really, really fast and was nicely presented and very tasty! I would recommend for a great spot to eat!

With all of our express services in tow and a 3 hour check in requirement we had quite a lot of time to kill so it was my good girlfriend to find my travel buddy and trusty chauffeur a good spot to rest his eyes so I went a did a little exploring or the airport lounges. I’d not used them before as I’m not usually traveling long haul but there are several different lounge options available for a charge and they a like a little piece of cosmopolitan luxury behind the scenes of the airport hustle and bustle. We looked at the No1 lounge and Clubrooms which has a couple of different options of £40 and £50 (less in advance online) and you get drinks, a beautiful setting, food and more, as we had already eaten this seemed like a waste on this occasion but the decor was extremely tasteful like boutique hotel bar and the Clubrooms brunch sounded lovely so this will be on our to do list for next time. Check out more info here

Instead we went to the My Lounge which was in a different area and had a little of a more relaxed vibe, with its scans-hygge style, it was cheaper which mades sense as we were using mainly for relaxing as we had full tummies and had a big empty squishy sofa with Jamie’s name on it. This one was £30 and you get to help yourself to a lovely breakfast buffet and bar, full equipped with the necessaries for Bloody Marys and Aperol Spritz’ in addition to all the classics from wine by the glass, draught beer and premium spirits to serve yourself with. I settled in with a cocktail and browsed the complimentary copy of Grazia and waited for my Gatwick app to tell me when it’s time to head to the gate!

Overall this was the most stress free airport experience I have ever had, easy parking, amazingly efficient service from the baggage check in with BA, speedy and security with a smile, a delicious meal, a morning washed in vodka and finished in the luxury of a premium lounge. If you have a holiday booked and you are traveling from Gatwick I hope some of these top tips help make you special experience start earlier and even more memorable.

Thanks for reading, safe travels and happy holidays, H x