My Cruise Holiday!

Now, you probably all saw the photos and vids I posted on my Instagram stories whilst I was away but I asked you guys on my Twitter & Instagram if you wanted a proper full blog post of my holiday pics so here it is!

In late August me and my boyfriend went on a Royal Caribbean Cruise to Rotterdam and Bruges. It was a 3 day ‘mini cruise’ and it sailed from Southampton. It’s advertised as a ‘taster cruise’ for those who have never cruised before with Royal Caribbean but we just wanted a short cruise this time so it was perfect.
We have sailed with RC before and absolutely loved their style of cruising, their ships design and great fun entertainment so it was a no-brainer to go with them again. Our ship this time was Independence of the Seas, one of the larger ships that RC have in their fleet and even better, it’d just been refurbished a couple of months previously.

We don’t live near Southampton, nowhere near, so we had to book a hotel to stay in the night before because no way was I risking missing the ship if we ran into traffic on the day.


There is a Premier Inn right by Southampton Docks and the cruise terminal we were sailing from so its perfect for those, who like us, need a place to stay the night before going on their cruise.
We stayed here the last time we sailed from Southampton and back then (5 years ago) it was just the hotel there, I don’t remember anything else being around it, buildings or anything else. But now there is a brand new MASSIVE cinema there and some other building across from the hotel. I was so surprised at how much has changed since we’d been there last!

At the back of the Premier Inn (West Quay) they are building a Marriot hotel so there was a bit of noise in the morning when we woke up but nothing major.

Time to board!

Our check in time at the terminal was 12:30-1pm so we checked out of the Premier Inn and headed towards the Shuttle Car Park in Southampton Docks. We parked the car in this big car park and boarded a coach with our luggage and headed down the road to the cruise terminal where the Independence of the Seas was waiting for us!

Check in was so very quick and easy as a few days earlier I did Royal Caribbean’s online check in so we bypassed most of the usual form filling and stuff. We were given our cards to use on the ship (there is no currency used anywhere on board) and made our way on board!

Let the holiday begin!

We got into our cabin at 1pm, dumped our stuff and went to explore the ship and have a few drinks to get our holiday started!
The range of cocktails they have on board is amazing so you’ll always have new drinks to discover and enjoy.

We also had to do an emergency drill before we set sail which every single passenger had to take part in. It took about 45 mins to do and there was a lot of standing around but needs must I suppose!
We had our dinner in the main dining room that evening and the food was exquisite! Annoyingly, I didn’t take any pics of it but take my word for it, it was perfect.

Rotterdam

We arrived in Rotterdam about 10am that morning and OMG I can see why it is the biggest port in Europe, WOW! It just went on forever…

We didn’t have any excursions planned for Rotterdam and to be honest the weather was a bit crappy… So we made the most of what the ship had to offer.

There is SO much to do on board the ship that they deliver a newsletter every day to your cabin informing you of what’s going on. We found it so handy to keep with us throughout the day so we could plan things and make sure we didn’t miss out!

Bruges

We arrived in Bruges at 7am and thank the LORD the weather was good! We had an excursion today to a little village called Damme and a chocolate factory/shop! You just know all I was bothered about was the visit to the chocolate shop…

Whilst travelling through the Bruges countryside I noticed how stylish all the buildings were, every single home I saw, whether it was social housing or owned homes was so modern. It definitely puts our boring houses in the UK to shame!

Chocolate World was absolute heaven! It was massive inside with every kind of chocolate you could imagine! There was a fountain where you could dip marshmallows in and I’m not ashamed to say I went back for thirds! It was just unreal!

After the chocolate shop we went to visit a castle.

I say ‘castle’ but to me, it seemed more of a stately home. It was beautiful though!
Kasteel Van Loppen is a Neo-gothic monument close to Bruges city centre which was built in 1856 by Baron Charles Van Caloen and his wife Countess Savina de Gourcy Serainchamps (what a mouthful!).
The interior is as it was when the Baron and Countess lived there and it was SO interesting to see bits of their family history dotted about.
However I was quite disappointed that we could only see the ground floor of the building and not anything else, I’m not sure whether that’s because the family still live there.


Bruges was an absolutely gorgeous place and I’d definitely love to return one day and spend more time there exploring. 

As it was the last night of the cruise the cruise director Joff, hosted a party on the main promenade of the ship and it was BRILLIANT!!!

It was a 70s theme and the music, singers and dancers were amazing. Truly my favourite part of the holiday!


After the party, me and G headed to the ship’s nightclub, Viking and had a little drink and dance. The DJ played an amaaaaazing set and I wish we’d had longer on the ship to enjoy everything it had to offer. 

Independence of the Seas and Royal Caribbean as a whole had everything me and my boyfriend could ever want and more.
I know that some people think cruises are for old people and where such cruise companies such as Cunard are more for the older generation, I’d say that RC are more for the younger cruiser.

I hope you all enjoyed my mega long post haha! Have you ever been on a cruise, if so, who with and what was it like??

Liv x

A Day Out in Llandudno

The past couple of months have been rubbish for me, what with health problems being the main culprit. So I thought a little change of scene was needed to have an escape from the doom and gloom.
Funny how just a day out can lift your mood and help get you back on track to cope with life’s obstacles, isn’t it?!

Me and my family decided to visit my uncle who lives in Conwy, North Wales and we all then went out together to have a walk around Llandudno which is close by.
It was MEGA busy for a Tuesday afternoon I thought but then again, it is the school holidays and it was a beautiful, hot, sunny day.

I thought I’d share some photos I took of the day, I hope you like ’em!

The only bad thing of the day which really upset me was seeing donkey rides on the beach… I can’t STAND them and just wanted to go on over and have a go at the owner of the donkeys. Really do wish they’d stop exploiting animals in this way.

Would’ve loved to have gone on this boat trip around the Great Orme and to Puffin Island. I’ve been on it before years ago when I was like 10 and it was brilliant!

There were LOADS of little stalls all along the pier. Loads of food; doughnuts, cakes, cheese, fish ‘n’ chips and of course, ice cream!

I mean, you can’t NOT have an ice cream at the seaside can you?

Just before the pier they had a Punch and Judy show. It’s been here for donkeys years, I remember coming here with my cousin and watching it as a young kid. So lovely to see it again and to see a new generation enjoying the show!

On the way back to my uncles house, he decided to take us around the Great Orme and it’s nature reserve.
You pay £3 at a little booth and then you can either drive around the Orme or park up and walk around.

It’s DEFINITELY worth doing as the views are just spectacular!! There’s lots of cute sheep and mountain goats around too.

My uncle made us a lovely roast dinner that evening and it was the perfect end to a perfect day!
Sometimes you forget how beautiful some parts of our country are, I can’t wait to come back here again! Maybe I’ll ride on the Great Orme cable car next time…

Liv x

 

 

Llandudno, Wales

5 National Trust Sites I Want to Visit!

I love a good day out. Dragging that waterproof jacket out of the back of your wardrobe and all the family cramming into the car all excited to see what the day brings.
Said family bickering all of the journey there, generally being annoying and that one person who wants to stop at every motorway service station for the loo.
Yep, I love it all.

If I’m honest, I haven’t visited many National Trust sites in my life but this year I’m planning to change all that. I want more days out and even moreso I want more memories with my family.

There are so many National Trust sites to choose from in Britain it’s easy to feel a little overwhelmed with which ones to visit. So I’m going to share the sites on my hit list and maybe I’ll inspire you to visit one of them.

 

Speke Hall, Liverpool

speke hall

This is a local one for me, I’ve always wanted to go but never had the chance. Speke Hall is a Tudor Manor house located on the banks of the River Mersey. It is 400 years old and is steeped in history.
It is surrounded by beautifully kept restored gardens that once you’re in you forget that you’re in the city centre. A little urban oasis.

 

What is there to do there?

There is so much to do at Speke Hall I never even realised! Apart from walking around the beautiful gardens there (either by yourself or with a guide) you can take a tour of the house, sample scouse treats in their restaurant or have a cuppa in their very own tea rooms. In the summer they also have ice cream stands dotted around.
The main thing I want to go to Speke Hall for is the guided tour of the house. I absolutely adore finding out the history of a place. Who lived there and what happened in their lives.
There are a few spooky tales connected with this house and it’s supposed to have its own ghost, the grey lady. Why does every spooky old place have to have its own grey lady?

Speke Hall run lots of events throughout the year and even have talk/lectures there if you’re into that kind of thing.
Check out their National Trust page here 

 

The Workhouse, Southwell

workhouse

This grabbed my attention because it reminds me of a place you’d typically see on Most Haunted haha! I bloody love MH, mostly for the fact they feature old buildings and tell you a bit about their history. The ‘ghosts’, not so much…

This Victorian workhouse is located in Nottinghamshire and is where the most poorest people of the Victorian age had to work in return for food, shelter and medical care.
It was built in 1824 and is the best-preserved workhouse left in the country.

 

What is there to do there?

They have a guided tour at 11am where you can discover some outside areas not seen by the public and then when that finishes, the workhouse itself opens at 12pm. You can chat to room guides and learn about those who lived and worked there.
This place looks massive so there is a café on site that you can pop into and have a drink and a snack.

There is a recreated Victorian vegetable garden where you are welcome to eat your picnic, if you bring one of course. There is also opportunity to buy the garden’s produce too which has been grown by volunteers.

The Workhouse regularly holds events throughout the year, find them here!

 

Hill Top – The home of Beatrix Potter

Hilltop

I thought this would be a lovely place to visit as I ADORED all of Beatrix Potter’s books when I was little. I still love anything with to do with Beatrix Potter to be honest.
Hill Top was bought by Beatrix Potter in 1905 from the proceeds of her first book ‘The Tale of Peter Rabbit’ and was the inspiration for many of her books over the years. Each room in the house contains a reference to a picture in one of her books.
The whole house is a step back in time as everything is laid out as if Beatrix had just stepped out for a walk.

Hill Top is only quite a small house so they have a timed-ticket system to avoid overcrowding and to protect the interior. The National Trust website also advises that Hill Top can be a very busy attraction so tourists may have to wait to enter the house.

 

What is there to do there?

Take a tour around Hill Top house guided by one of the knowledgeable National Trust experts and discover all of Beatrix’s trinkets and well loved treasures.
You can also walk around the gardens which are featured in pictures in her books.
If you want something to eat there is conveniently a pub next door called the Tower Bank Arms. The pub is also featured in one of her book too, The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck!

If you want to make a whole day of it, take a trip to the Beatrix Potter Gallery too which showcases all her original artwork.

 

Chirk Castle

Chirk

I chose Chirk Castle as some family members have recently visited and said it was a beautiful, interesting place to visit and I love me a castle!
Chirk castle is a stunning Medieval 14th Century castle found on the Welsh border that is actually still lived in today. It has a beautiful tower and state rooms filled with an eclectic mix of furniture and 700 years worth of treasures.

castle
I love it when I go to a place and it has gruesome elements to it and Chirk castle has them! It has dungeons, medieval toilets and even ‘murder holes’. How fab!

 

What is there to do there?

You can explore the tower, which is in an area of the castle called the West Range – which is where the dungeons and murder holes are.
Walk around the exquisite state rooms that the castle has to offer, the servant halls and working laundries. There’s also a family room where children can play games, try on costumes and explore the history of the castle.
On some days visitors can meet the castle’s very own garrison who is happy to demonstrate weapons and allow you to feel the weight of the armour. They even take younger visitors through a ‘pike drill’ so they can defend the castle.

To find out more about Chirk Castle click HERE

 

Treasurer’s House, York

York

I never got to visit here on my last trip to York last year, so this is definitely on the list for next time I go.
Treasurer’s House is tucked behind York Minster and it was built in 1897 to impress Edward VII during his visit to York.
The house is filled with antiques and grand furniture that the man who built the house collected over the years. The gardens there are award winning and beautifully presented.
The basement of this house is famous for its excavated Roman road that runs directly underneath, you can see this and hear of the ghost story connected…

 

What is there to do there?

Apart from discovering all the artwork, furniture and antiques that the house has to offer, you can check out hidden parts of the house with a guided tour and listen to the stories that the current owner has to share. The tour also includes the attic of the house where you can get a fantastic view of York.

Treasurer’s House also has a café which is located in the servants quarters and serves freshly cooked lunches, cakes and their infamous scones!

 

 

I hope I’ve given you some ideas for days out this summer, I plan to do my best to get through at least 3 of these this year!
The National Trust has 500 sites in the UK so explore their site HERE and see what fun you could have with your family this year!

 

Livvy xx

 

 

 

Staybridge Suites, Liverpool – Hotel Review

This year for my birthday I actually didn’t want anything.
“WHAT?!” I hear you cry! Well I say that because I couldn’t think of anything I wanted or needed – I must be getting old ehh! Plus the fact that both me and my boyfriend are saving for a house and for our cruise later on in the year, I thought it best not to go big for my 29th…

So this year, I left my birthday completely in my Mr’s hands. Bit risky but hey, he’s got good form. He once organised a surprise weekend away in the Lakes for Valentines Day one year, it was beautiful!

On the morning of my birthday I woke up to a cute text from my boyfriend saying to pack an overnight bag as we were off to Liverpool to stay in our favourite hotel! Perfect!

 

Staybridge Suites, Liverpool

This is our absolute favourite hotel we have stayed in, it was our 4th time here! I say hotel, but really they’re mini apartments.
Each room/apartment has kitchen facilities, a bathroom and depending on whether you go for a studio or suite, a bedroom. This place is fantastic for extended stays and for people who have to work away from home for a long period of time as it’s just like a home away from home.

Staybridge is part of a collection of chains that is owned by the company IHG. They own chains such as ‘Holiday Inn’, ‘Crowne Plaza’, ‘Hotel Indigo’ and ‘Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants’.

I actually didn’t realise IHG had that many Staybridge suites all over the world! They have hotels in; Azerbaijan, Brazil, Canada, Egypt, Lebanon, Mexico, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, The USA and the UK.
There are several Staybridge suites in the UK; Liverpool, London – Vauxhall, London – Stratford City, Manchester, Birmingham and Newcastle.
I have only had the pleasure of staying in their Liverpool suites but my parents gave me money for a weekend away for my birthday, so we’re going to stay at their Birmingham suites in the very near future!

Instead of going out for dinner, my boyfriend thought he’d be all romantic and cook me dinner in our room using the kitchen facilities. So before check-in at 3pm we went to the supermarket and picked up a few bits for a curry.
If you are staying at Staybridge and find yourself with nothing in the fridge to eat, head to their ‘Pantry’! Its like a little mini shop where you can buy microwave meals, snacks and drinks. They even have toiletries and other useful things you may have forgotten to pack. Really is such a great thing to have in a hotel.

 

Arrival

We arrived at Staybridge, went straight to reception and the fantastic Guille was there to take care of us. He checked us in and took details of our car so we could park in their secure underground parking.
Since our last visit the hotel has had a bit of a refurb and it whilst it looked fab before, I love this new refurb more!


We got our key card from Guille and headed to our room on the top floor. Room 618.
How gorgeous is the set up in the lobby where the lifts are? I love that mirror!

hotel room

Excuse our bags!

hotel room view

Check out that view!

staybridge bed

How I wish I had that bed throw… and that wallpaper… and the pictures…

We opened the door and it was just like coming home…
My boyfriend had booked a studio suite this time and it’s just perfect for one night. I saw that the rooms have been refurbished as well as the main areas of the hotel. The new design is beautiful and I love the colours that they have used!

staybridge kitchen
The kitchen has everything you could ever need for your stay and includes a dishwasher, because after all, who wants to wash dishes whilst away?

When booking the room online my boyfriend also mentioned that it was my birthday. As a very kind gesture I was given a card and some chocolates as a present from Staybridge which I thought was so lovely! These were scoffed watching tv in bed that night haha!

chocolates

‘The Social’

When we checked in Guille told us that ‘The Social’ was on in the main breakfast area that evening from half 6 to half 7.
We have been to a couple of Staybridge social events in the past and were so pleased that we’d be able to go to another.

The hotel runs ‘The Social’ every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and its a chance to meet and chat to other guests. Each evening is hosted by a member of the Staybridge team, they’re ever so friendly and they come over for a chat too!
On previous stays we’ve loved chatting to Elaine, she does all in her power to make you feel welcome and take good care of you. This place is seriously full of amazingly friendly people, it’s one of the main reasons we like coming back so much!

On this occasion our host was Lisa and this was the first time we’d met her. She was lovely, kept our drinks topped up and asked about our plans for the night.
Staybridge Suites treat their guests like Kings and Queens and all the snacks and drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) served at The Social are completely FREE!

alcohol
My boyfriend and I love The Social and find it’s a great opportunity to meet people from all over world and learn about their culture. This occasion we spoke to people from Ireland, India and the Czech Republic! Love the new chairs too, Staybridge!

 

The rest of the evening…

After the Social we headed back to our room where my boyfriend got his cook on whilst I enjoyed a lovely warm shower using the luxurious products that were in the bathroom. The shower gel smelt gorgeous!

Everything in our suite was exceptionally clean and I watch Four in a Bed so I know what to look out for, haha!

I would’ve had a picture of my meal that my boyfriend made but I was just so hungry and relaxed after my shower that I scoffed it so fast it didn’t touch the sides!
Such a lucky duck to have a boyfriend who is an amazing cook! Ooh, that rhymed!

We spent the rest of the evening eating snacks we’d bought, in bed, watching tv.
My boyfriend got a bit peckish later on and we discovered a card in our room informing us that we could use Deliveroo to order in a takeaway direct to our room. How awesome?! I looked on the Deliveroo app and found a dessert shop nearby called ‘Heavenly Desserts’ and I was SO tempted to order one… Next time maybe!

 

Breakfast

staybridge breakfast

After a very comfortable sleep, we woke up around 8am to get ready for breakfast. Breakfast is served in the same place that The Social is held and is included in the price of your stay.
There is everything you could ever wish for to eat for breakfast served in a self-serve, buffet style and there is also a member of staff at hand to help with any requests you may have.

My boyfriend opted to have a cooked breakfast and I just had toast. So exciting aren’t I?!
There are also a variety of juices, teas and coffees on offer. Again, self serve, but you can eat and drink as much as you want here and you don’t have to pay extra -fantastic! One guy we seen went up 4 times getting food!
My boyfriend enjoyed his breakfast and said everything was fresh and cooked perfectly. My toast was.. toast haha, not much you can say about toast is there? But yeah I enjoyed my breakfast too.

After breakfast we just sat for a while and chatted to each other and others around us before going back to our room to pack.
Check-out came around and it was time to say another farewell to our favourite hotel.

We both had a fantastic stay (again) and can’t wait to return once again to Staybridge Suites. Thank you for a wonderful birthday stay!
Watch out Staybridge Birmingham, you’re next!!!

 

 

Livvy x

 

 

 

 

I was not paid for my review and is entirely my own views.
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