• Review: Lavender Bay Apartments Montenegro

    20160807_200343
  • Rio Olympics Special: Olympic sport or not?

    Swimming Olympic Sport
  • Review: DIWAH DIY Jewellery Design Service

    DIWAH necklace design
  • World’s richest pets! #WillsInNumbers

    richest pets pic

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Review: Lavender Bay Apartments Montenegro

I recently turned 30 and for my birthday my sister gave me an amazing gift; a week holiday in Montenegro. In all honesty I had never heard of the place before she suggested it but I can’t recommend it enough! With a rich cultural history, fantastic sunny weather and friendly locals Montenegro is really up and coming as a destination.

We didn’t choose to stay at a hotel on this trip but instead went for self catered apartments in a small fishing village called Morinj on the Bay of Kotor. The Lavender Bay Apartment complex is a brand new resort made up of modern apartments which sleep between 2-4 people with 1 and 2 bedrooms.

The complex also boasts a cafe, spa with jacuzzi, sauna and steam room, as well as a gorgeous infinity pool and sun bathing terrace area with stunning views across the Bay. The Lavender Bay resort is also a short walk (albeit down a pretty steep road) away from the beach and a useful convenience shop. It is also a short distance from the Tramontana Beach Club which serves affordable good food on the beach and Catovici Milni, a restaurant regarded as the best in the country – review coming soon!

The complex is well situated in the Bay of Kotor and is around 30-60 mins drive from all the towns you might want to visit on your trip. We divided our time between lounging at the apartment and exploring the local towns of Perast, Kotor, Herceg Novi and Budva. We hired a car which made it easy to get around although driving on the left was interesting! Luckily the complex has parking on site, although parking and leaving is a bit tricky due to the limited width of the parking space.

The Lavender Bay apartments are beautiful; they are decorated in a simple, elegant and modern style which compliments the bright white walls. They are a generous size with lots of space particularly in the living/dining/kitchen open plan area which has a fully equipped cooking area with a ceramic hob with 4 rings, a dish washer, a fridge freezer, a kettle, a microwave and a built-in oven. Cutlery, crockery, utensils and basic cooking equipment.

The apartments also have air-conditioning, wi-fi and satellite TV for when you need a break from exploring the area or from the midday sun. The balcony is a great space for alfresco dining and comes with seating and a table for such use. I can also recommend using the balcony for hanging clothes for drying! Our apartment had a master bedroom with en-suite and a second twin bedroom next door to the main bathroom.  Both bathrooms have modern facilities with the main bathroom boasting an amazing shower and hand, bath and pool towels are provided.

Overall the Lavender Bay Apartments made for a fantastic home for our week in Montenegro boasting simple and practical facilities along with modern interior design and comfortable furniture. We spent many hours relaxing up by the pool with delicious cocktails and I even indulged in a massage at the spa. All of the staff were helpful and friendly and made us feel welcome and safe. Our only gripe was that the wi-fi didn’t work in our apartment, the only way we could get decent signal was to stand by the open front door!

I award the Lavender Bay Apartments 4 out of 5 stars. It would have been top marks had it not been for the wi-fi signal and the tricky parking. That being said I would definitely go back!

Twin room Lavender Bay Resort Montenegro

Lavender Bay Resort Montenegro Bathroom

Lavender Bay Resort Montenegro

Dining Area Lavender Bay Apartments

Kitchen Lavender Bay Apartments

Master Bed Lavender Bay Apartments

Lavender Bay Apartments Pool

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4stars

Rio Olympics Special: Olympic sport or not?

The whole world has been buzzing about this summer’s Olympic Games held in Rio de Janeiro and rightly so! Athletes from around the world are given the chance to shine and we have seen so many of them do just that. 11,551 athletes have been competing in Brazil in 306 contests in 28 sports from 206 nations including first time entrants Kosovo, South Sudan, and the Refugee Olympic Team.

Our modern Olympic Games have been inspired by the ancient Games held in Olympia, Greece, every four years between the 8th century BC to the 4th century AD featuring mostly athletic sports but also combat (such as wrestling) and exciting horse and chariot racing events – wouldn’t it be great if these races still happened? Amazingly it was said that all conflicts among the participating city-states were postponed until the Games were finished although this is questionable!

Watching the footage has got me thinking about Olympic sports and the wide range of sports on show at the Games. This year will see 28 different sports contested which is two more than 2016, with every year seeing changes in the line up. In fact amazingly enough only five sports have been a consistent feature at every summer Olympic Games since 1896: Athletics, Cycling, Fencing, Gymnastics and Swimming. Rio 2016 has seen the debut for rugby sevens at the summer Olympics, though rugby union did briefly make an appearance in 1924!

With such chopping and changing of the sports featured it’s easy to forget which sports are actually included in the summer Olympic Games so when I came across this Olympic Sport or Not game it was great fun to test my knowledge and I recommend you give it a go! To play you just have to identify which one of the two sport options have historically been “official” games.

The Olympic Games has a historical beginning and has seen many changes and have evolved into the world’s leading sports competition. Thousands of athletes participate in a variety of sports from 200+ nations around the world – something certainly worth celebrating. For more information about the Games and all the latest results check out the official Rio 2016 website.

What is your favourite summer Olympics sport?

Swimming Olympic Sport

Review: DIWAH DIY Jewellery Design Service

I am very picky when it comes to wearing jewellery. I usually only wear a small selection of pieces which have meaning to me like my wedding and engagement rings and a necklace my husband gave me for Christmas a few years ago.

Jewellery for me is something that represents me or a time in my life so I like to make sure whatever I am wearing is special so when DIWAH the design your own bespoke jewellery company got in touch asking if I’d like to try out their service I was happy to give it a go.

The design your own jewellery service from DIWAH allows you to be creative and select the style of necklace (length, number of chains etc) as well as selecting semi-precious beads and luxe elements to use in your piece so you can stand out of the crowd and showcase your personality or style for a unique look. As well as starting from scratch you can pick one of the many pre-designed pieces and simply edit them to make them your own.

The process is a simple one – select the type of necklace you want and the editor will open allowing you to browse all the beads and luxe elements to create your piece. The range of materials, shapes, colours and sizes is impressive! It’s easy to select and add the elements onto the necklace and rearranging them is as simple as drag and dropping.

I decided to go with a black and turquoise opera cluster which has a great bohemian elegance with a bit of a gothic edge. I rally love the look of the snowflake obsidian which makes up the majority of the necklace and the striated turquoise and bicone elements really make it eye catching. There is a cluster of pendants made up of a howlite heart and a teardrop charm of black agate for a great focus feature.

I am really happy with the look and quality of my cluster necklace. It’s great knowing that it was hand made by a jewellery designer specifically for me! I was really surprised when DIWAH sent me an email to let me know it was being made and they even sent a photo of it in progress (below). The necklace feels really solid and I have yet to find a flaw on any of the elements. The clasp is very sturdy which is important.

I really love my black and turquoise opera cluster from DIWAH. My necklace is top quality, the design process was quick and easy and to top it off DIWAH were thoughtful enough to send me process photos which really made my day. I certainly recommend their personalised jewellery design service and award them 5 out of 5 stars.

 

DIWAH necklace design

Micaela's - Black Magic-750

DIWAH DIY necklace

5stars

World’s richest pets! #WillsInNumbers

Having a pet is a big responsibility. Your animal depends on you for everything: food, water, exercise, entertainment and of course love! What happens when you are no longer around to take care of your beloved pet? I like to think that if something happened to me that my family would take care of my pets but what if that’s not an option?

Luckily pet owners can have peace of mind that there can still be a bright future for their pet as many charities like the RSPCA will be on hand after they are gone. These charities look after your pet and do everything they can to find a new, loving home with someone who can give them what they need.

Of course there are some pets out there who don’t have a care in the world after their owners have passed away and left them considerable sums of money, not forgetting most of them have a human carer on hand to take care of their every whim! I can’t quite believe that a dog can be allocated £90 million in a will!

Check out this great infographic featuring some of the world’s richest pets! What would your kitty or doggie spend their millions on?
Richest Pets Infographic

Source: The Law House Solicitors

Recipe: Brazilian Seafood Salad

Method

  1. Start by preparing the chimichurri dressing. Combine the pickled onions, herbs, garlic, olive oil, lime juice and zest in a bowl.
  2. Next build up the salad by laying the salad leaves, sweetcorn, mango and beans on a plate. Arrange the squid rings and king prawns on top of the salad.
  3. Drizzle over the chimichurri dressing and serve with a lime wedge for a splash of citrus zing.

BRAZILIAN SEAFOOD SALAD

Review: Dog Walk at Lullingstone Country Park

We are really lucky to live in Kent where there are lots of really lovely places to take Lexi for her daily walks. Recently we have been taking our morning walk at Lullingstone Country Park which was originally the deer park belonging to the estate. It comprises of 460 acres between Eynsford and Shoreham.

The park is made up of several different areas including woodlands and meadows which are home to many fantastic plants including orchids as well as the Darent river running through the eastern valley being a home for many native wildlife species such as kingfishers, herons, grass snakes, dragonflies and damselflies.

One of the most well known feature of the Park is its collection of ancient trees including 300 veteran oaks, beechs, hornbeams, ash and sweet chestnut trees – some thought to be around 500 years old! The park holds a Green Flag Award from Natural England. The park is popular by all sorts of people from hikers and dog walkers to families who come to play. The visitor centre is home to both a shop where you can find seasonal cards, local produce and a range of small gifts as well as a café serving homemade soups, hot meals, snacks and baguettes.

I really love walking Lexi at Lullingstone Country Park. My favourite thing about the park is the variation in surroundings from riverside and open grass to woodland and the beautiful wildflower meadow which means that Lexi gets to experience all of the sights, sounds and smells of each area rather than just one type of surrounding. It’s important for puppies to experience as many different things as possible to become a well socialised dog, so this is a big big plus for me. Lexi just LOVES chasing butterflies in the long grass left for wildflowers.

The only draw backs to walking my dog at Lullingstone Country Park are the lack of waste bins on the walking routes and the expense of parking. Although there are a number of waste bins for collecting dog poop along the paths I feel that there should be more which would mean dog walkers wouldn’t have to carry their poop bags so far and it would potentially encourage more people to pick up after their dogs.

When I was a kid and we walked our family dogs at Lullingstone the parking was free, however, now the parking is pay and display which can be expensive. I have paid for a season ticket which isn’t unreasonable at £40 for a year and as we usually visit once a day it isn’t bad value but I feel like I should mention it as some people might not want to have to pay to park. Unfortunately there are some people who don’t want to pay to park and they end up parking in the road outside the entrance to the park which means the narrow country roads can get very tricky to navigate!

All in all I think Lullingstone Country Park is a fantastic place to walk a dog with so much to explore and plenty of opportunities for dogs to play and burn off some energy. Despite having to pay for parking and sometimes having to walk half way around our path to find a waste bin this doesn’t stop us going. I award Lullingstone Country Park 4 out of 5 stars.

Visitors Centre Puppy Lexi Woodland at Lullingstone Country Park Kent

Wild Flowers at Lullingstone Country Park Kent

Views at Lullingstone Country Park Kent

Woodland at Lullingstone Country Park Kent

Puppy Lexi Woodland at Lullingstone Country Park Kent

4stars

Whistle Training for Recalling Dogs

Training your dog to come when it’s called is one of the most important things you can teach your canine friend. Not only will this help to keep your pooch under control when you’re out and about it can also help avoid accidents happening, for example, being able to stop your dog from running into the road.

Most people train their dog to respond to its name which usually works well but there may be some times when you are unable to shout or your dog simply can’t hear you. In this situation being able to recall a dog with a dog whistle is a great advantage as a whistle designed specifically for your breed of dog can be heard much further than a human voice.

Being a Labrador Lexi is a gun dog breed so we decided to train her to come to an Acme whistle at 211.5Hz frequency which is the right one for gun dogs. The Acme whistle is easy to blow and produces a high tone with solid tone and single frequency so that it gives a very clear signal to your canine buddy. I got a purple one, as that is my favourite colour, but there are a range of different colours and you can get matching lanyards so you can wear the whistle around your neck for fast, easy access when needed.

We are really lucky that my mother’s two Labradors (both ex working gun dogs) are already whistle trained so training Lexi alongside them has meant she is catching on fast! We make sure that coming to the whistle is associated with receiving a biscuit and Labradors being the greedy breed that they are, this works well.

Lexi is really getting the hang of coming back to us when she hears the whistle and I am hopeful that this will mean easy, fast and most importantly reliable recall for when she is older too. Although we have also trained her to come when she’s called by voice, the whistle training does make me feel a bit more confident about taking her outside off lead.

Have you whistle trained your dog?

Acme Sonec Working Dog Whistle No 211.5 Purple

Review: Lunch at Jamie’s Italian Bluewater

On a recent jaunt to Bluewater to shop for our holiday my sister and I decided to grab some lunch before hitting the shops and we settled on Jamie’s Italian restaurant as it had been a while since we had last eaten there and who doesn’t love pasta?

We were welcomed by our server who got us settled and told us about the specials before we browsed the menu. Luckily Italian cuisine is kind on vegetarians and I can usually find something delicious and meat-free to enjoy at Italian restaurants; Jamie’s didn’t disappoint with a couple of pastas and pizzas offering veggie friendly options.

I have a real weakness for garlic bread, so when I spotted it on the menu I knew I had to have some as my starter. Described as the ultimate garlic bread this dish is made up of artisan buttermilk buns coated in garlic butter, Bella Lodi (a hard Italian cheese often called black paramasan) and topped with a sprinkle of rosemary. It sounded so good on the menu that my sister ordered one too!

I really love how the ultimate garlic bread came on a little wooden board which made it feel a bit more authentic. The buttermilk buns look like little individual loaves of bread sprinkled with cheese and on tearing the soft buns I discovered a rich garlic and herb middle which was warming and delicious. I think this is the most elegant garlic bread I have ever had. My sister seemed equally happy with hers.

I was really torn when it came to ordering my main meal, on one hand I really wanted something creamy with mushrooms but the menu only had a mushroom pizza rather than pasta. I finally settled on the veggie tagliatelle (I LOVE tagliatelle) bolognes which is made with a delicious porcini mushrooms and tomato ragù complete with pulses, herbs and garlic topped with more Bella Lodi and surprising herby breadcrumbs.

My main course was served up in an equally lovely rustic style on an old school plate and looked very appetising. I will admit I wasn’t expecting the delightful crunch of the breadcrumbs on top or the slight heat of the ragù but both really added to the depth of the dish. Of course the pasta was cooked perfectly.

I really enjoyed my meal at Jamie’s Italian at Bluewater and recommend it to anyone looking for a sneaky indulgent Italian treat. I award the restaurant 5 out of 5 stars.

Garlic bread at Jamie's Italian in Bluewater

Veggie bolognese Garlic bread at Jamie's Italian in Bluewater

5stars

Review: SuperDesign Dog Grooming Glove

As our chocolate Labrador puppy grows she is going through a lot of changes, one example being loosing her baby teeth and gaining adult gnashers another being the loss of her puppy fur as she gains her adult coat. Of course this means our house has looked a bit like a scene from the wild west with chocolate fur tumble weeds roaming the corridor – time for some grooming!

Before collecting Lexi I had stocked up on everything I would need to look after her including a set of dog brushes for just such an occasion, however, Lexi was less than impressed by the metal teeth of the comb I had bought and she wouldn’t let me brush her with them. Deciding that perhaps I hadn’t chosen very wisely I looked for an alternative and came across the SuperDesign dog grooming glove on Amazon.

Rather than being a traditional dog brush the SuperDesign dog grooming glove is made from soft silicone which means it is more gentle on Lexi and makes it much easier to gentle groom her. The glove is designed to fit all hand sizes (although I do find it a bit big for me) and has a handy inside strap to make sure it stays on whilst grooming or washing.

The glove is good at removing shedding dog fur, trapping it in the glove’s silicon fingers, which makes it easy to get as much of her puppy fur out of her new coat as possible to stop it collecting on the floor! It is also really handy when washing a dog as the flexible material allows you to massage shampoo into the coat for a proper clean. With its breathable mesh material meaning it dries quickly it is easy to clean, just toss in the washing machine!

Since getting the SuperDesign dog grooming glove it has been much easier to brush Lexi and help keep her looking neat as well as helping to control the bombardment of chocolate fluff in the house. Having clearly disliked the metal brushes I had originally purchased the grooming glove has been a real saviour and I can now get Lexi used to being brushed in a way that is more comfortable for her. I award the SuperDesign dog grooming glove 4 out of 5 stars.  
 SuperDesign Dog Grooming Glove

 SuperDesign Dog Grooming Glove close up

4stars

Review: Lunch at the Green Man Hodsoll Street

I always love trying out new places in and around Kent so when I spotted The Green Man just down the road from my paternal grandfather’s care home (he moved in a few weeks ago), I was drawn to this traditional looking country pub by it’s rustic charm, name and of course menu!

For those who don’t know The Green Man was one of the names given to a leaf clad Mummer (actor and entertainer) from around 1775-85. His role was of a chimney sweep character who walked encased in a framework of wood or wickerwork covered with leaves and adorned by a crown of flowers and ribbons. The Green Man would dance on May Day and other pageants at the head of a procession to clear the way.

The Green Man pub has a menu which changes almost daily driven by availability and their desire to provide variety. The menu usually boasts a host of delicious sounding dishes focusing on fresh fish and seafood but also including traditional meat and some vegetarian friendly dishes.

On my latest visit, on a Sunday, I went for the spinach & ricotta cheese cannelloni which was served with a side salad and garlic bread. I really liked the presentation of the cannelloni which arrived in a lovely rustic serving dish, hot from the oven. Garlic bread is one of my major weaknesses and I was delighted to find that the side dish was crunchy and flavourful, the perfect texture accompaniment for the soft and comforting pasta and sauce which were both well cooked and seasoned.

My only slight gripe was that the cannelloni was more like lasagne sheets served on top of tomato sauce than tubes of stuffed pasta, however, that being said it still tasted great. I award The Green Man 4 out of 5 stars and I will be back!

The Green Man Pub Hodsoll Street

Lunch at The Green Man Pub Hodsoll Street