How to be Happy – Book Review

How to be Happy by Eva Woods

How to be Happy - Book Review

If there was one book that I have read in the past year that I believe should be made into a movie, then this is it! So much so that I recommended this book to my mum, who then recommended this book to my aunt and now I am recommending it to you.

How to be happy by Eva Woods tells the story of Annie. Annie is not in a good place – she doesn’t like her job, her mother is in hospital and after a run of awful life events she generally feels quite down trodden and, well, sad. And then along comes Polly – a riot of colour and bursting with fun, laughter and joy. Polly is everything Annie is not.

Annie is in no mood to make friends but Polly is persistent and forces herself into Annie’s life with the aim of helping Annie find happiness in just one hundred days. Polly shows Annie that life is too short to be miserable and slowly but surely, Annie starts to believe her. What Annie doesn’t realise is that Polly needs her, just as much as she needs Polly.

Without revealing any major plot spoilers, this book is a bittersweet tale of friendship, life and love. It’s called ‘How to be Happy’ yet it is also very poignant and reminds us to live our best lives. As Polly would say, “Life isn’t about avoiding the storm; it’s about learning to dance in the rain”.

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Alphabet Dating - R is for Relaxation

Alphabet Dating – R is for Relaxation

Eastwell Manor Spa Break

We’ve been taking liberties with the alphabet again but I’m pleased to say we finally got around to our ‘R’ date. R is for Relaxation – something we both deserved after the not-so-great start to the year. We booked a lovely overnight stay spa break at Eastwell Manor near Ashford in Kent for our 5th wedding anniversary.

Eastwell Manor Spa Break

Eastwell Manor is a charming country house set in the Garden of England and was built between 1540 and 1550. In its impressive history of over 450 years it has had many owners, including Royalty! These days it is best known as a hotel offering spa breaks, afternoon teas and weddings.

We checked in to the Robert Curtoys room in the early afternoon – easily the largest hotel room I have ever stayed in! Complete with kingsize bed, chaise longue and Champneys flip flops, robes and toiletries. We headed straight down to the Champneys spa where we enjoyed the facilities and also had a facial each which we had pre-booked. The spa itself features a heated indoor pool surrounded by relaxation beds. There’s also a hydrotherapy pool, steam room, sauna and, my favourite, a jacuzzi.

Robert Curtoys room at Eastwell Manor

Eastwell Manor Spa Break

Our package also included dinner plus breakfast and lunch the following day, so after we were all fresh and clean after our spa session, we got dressed up and made our way to the Manor Restaurant where we enjoyed a three course meal. For starters I had the rainbow carrot terrine while Nick had the cheese souffle. For mains we both opted for the Eastwell brisket burger which was yummy, if not a little salty. Lastly, dessert. Nick enjoyed the white chocolate and passion fruit ganache bomb sorbet while I had the pistachio, orange and cranberry which included the most delicious ice cream (orange and cranberry mix? I’m not sure) as well as spiced oranges and olive oil cake. It was sooo good!

Pool at Eastwell Manor

After a super comfortable and relaxing nights sleep in our humongous bed, we enjoyed a buffet breakfast followed by a stroll through the perfectly manicured grounds. It was lovely to soak up the atmosphere while pretending you are on a television set.

Big comfy bed!

gardens at eastwell

We then returned to the spa for body radiance treatments which involved putting on an embarrassingly tiny pair of knickers (for me anyway, my husband got off lightly). Luckily it was all very professional and organised so my embarrassment was very shortlived. The spa therapist exfoliated my skin and then left me to shower. Once I was dry and my modesty protected with towels, she then massaged my skin using some gorgeous scented Champneys moisturiser.

Fancy starters in the spa restaurant

We also stopped in the Spa Restaurant for a light lunch prior to our treatments. We could have had several fancy looking courses there too but we didn’t want to be too full before our body treatments so Nick had chicken to start followed by some sensible pasta while I opted for a starter of salmon and then skipped straight to dessert – ice cream… and imagine my delight when I realised one of the flavours was the same as what I had for dessert the night before. Oh yes. You can put the girl in a classy setting but you can’t stop her from ordering ice cream for lunch! Ha!

All in all it was a perfect and romantic stay and one I would definitely like to repeat.

Eastwell Manor - a lovely spa break in Kent

We’re so cool

For more Alphabet Dating Adventures check out my series.

6 responses to “Alphabet Dating – R is for Relaxation”

  1. I love this alphabet dating idea and will be checking out your series. What a super relaxing stay this is.How inviting is that super comfy bed and those quirky additions like the phone. A lovely read!

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What type of holiday should you head on next?

At this time of year, we’re all thinking about jetting off on holiday. Even though the weather is surprisingly pleasant, there’s nothing quite like heading abroad, switching off, and relaxing. When you lead a busy life, you always need that promise of a holiday to hold on to. And it can be incredibly exciting. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or someone that wants to lay back by the pool and do absolutely nothing, there’s the perfect holiday out there just waiting to be had. But what will it be? It can be tempting to stick to the same kinds of trips, but this really does limit the travel experiences that you have. So maybe this time, you’ll want to just switch it up.

1. City Break
First of all, you might want to think about heading off on a city break. If you’re someone that loves to explore when you’re away, then heading off to a European city could be exactly what you need from your next break. Even if you want the balance of being able to relax, you could get yourself a hotel with a rooftop pool, so that you have the best of both. Then, you still get to explore the city and feel like you’ve got a sun holiday at the same time.

2. All-Inclusive
Or maybe the idea of exploring is the exact opposite of what you want? Maybe you want to head on holiday and do absolutely nothing at all? And by nothing at all, that includes thinking about what you want to do that day – or even where you’re going to eat! Then an all-inclusive option will be best for you. There are some great all-inclusive resorts across Europe, so be sure to take a look at some of the options that are available to you.

3.Adventure
When you want to go a step on from that, and follow your sense of adventure, then you’re going to want to hit the seas. You’ll find that Croatia is a fantastic destination for sailing holidays, so take a look at the trips available. If you want to enjoy some time of the seas, there are plenty of options across Europe for that.

4. Spa Break
And, of course, you could also head on a good old-fashioned spa break. If you know that you want to relax, enjoy some peace of quiet, and a bit of pampering, then finding yourself at a local spa resort is always going to be a good option.

5. Island Hopping
And finally, maybe you’d like the idea of doing a bit of everything. When that’s the case, you may find that island hopping is a great option for you here. First of all, you’ll get to see a range of different locations, from seaside resorts to cities, and more. But you also get to sail the seas and enjoy time on the boat. And there’s always some adventure and relaxation to be had. So this makes it a great option when you want a varied holiday. Again, Croatia is a great option, but so is Greece. So take a look at different agendas to see what takes your fancy.

This was a collaborative post.

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Truly Wild Experiences Down Under

As someone with a keen interest in conservation and zoology, seeing the native wildlife of a place is something that usually features highly on my destination wishlist when I travel. This year hasn’t been easy for me on a personal level but it always lifts my spirits when I think of the amazing things I have seen and done already.

One of my most cherished memories is when I went backpacking Down Under with my husband. Australia and New Zealand are two of my best-loved countries – friendly locals, stunning scenery and most importantly, amazing wildlife. So I would like to share my favourite wildlife experience from each.

Adorable quokka - a native to Rottnest Island in Western Australia

Discovering quokkas on Rottnest Island, Australia

Rottnest Island is a beautiful island off the coast of Western Australia, home to an adorably smiley-looking marsupial known as the quokka. In fact, Rottnest Island was named after the quokka when a Dutch explorer arrived at the island and mistook the quokkas for rats, naming it ‘Rat’s Nest’.

Wild Experiences Down Under

Being almost completely wiped out on the mainland of Australia, Rottnest Island is one of only a few places where you can see quokkas in their natural habitat and due to the lack of predators on the island, coupled with an abundance of food, their numbers are thriving.

Beautiful Rottnest Island - catch the ferry from Fremantle and enjoy a day with the quokkas!

As the island has a strong focus on the environment and sustainability, the best way to explore is by bicycle. So when we arrived by boat we picked up some hired bikes from the dock and went on our merry way.

Rottnest Island is easily one of the most beautiful places I have been fortunate enough to visit, with its white sand beaches and turquoise seas it looks like something from a movie set. Of course, my favourite part was observing the quokkas and I managed to even get a #quokkaselfie too! All flora and fauna on the island is protected by law so visitors must remember not to touch or feed the animals as it could harm them.

The best way to get around Rottnest Island! Hire a bike and explore this beautiful part of Western Australia.

Quokka selfie on Rottnest Island, Australia

One of my favourite things about Australia happens to be its native creatures – I’m completely in awe of it – so to be able to see the happy little quokkas in the wild and not in a zoo was something unforgettable.

Spotting wild seals in Kaikoura, New Zealand

Kaikoura is a small town on the east coast of New Zealand’s South Island and is famed for its marine life. Due to the weather cancelling any whale watching trips out to sea, we made a spontaneous decision to take a drive to Ohau Point where we could see some wild New Zealand fur seals.

Adorable seal pup at Ohau Point, New Zealand

After a short walk into the woodland, we were greeted by one of the most magical sights I have seen – numerous young seals swimming and frolicking at the bottom of a waterfall! I wasn’t sure what to expect on this spur of the moment adventure but it by far exceeded any expectations I could have had. The seals looked so happy and there were very few tourists at this spot making it feel all the more special. Of course, we kept our distance but a couple of the seals were playing on the path together just a mere metre away from where we stood!

Ohau waterfall - a beautiful place to see seal pups swimming

The seal pups are born in November and December and start making their way to the waterfall in April, where they are then able to develop their swimming and social skills together. They stay in the stream for several days at a time before returning to the coast to feed from their mothers. Once weaned, they then remain on the coast where they can hunt for food at sea.

See New Zealand fur seals - free things to do in Kaikoura

Seal swimming in Ohau stream, Kaikoura

We waited and watched the playful pups for a little while longer but even on the walk back to the car we were able spot a few of them swimming in the shallow waters alongside us. Amazing! Sometimes the best adventures are unplanned.

Note: My visit to Ohau Point happened prior to the devastating 2016 earthquake and although parts of this area are still destroyed, visitors are still able to see seal colonies elsewhere in Kaikoura. Hopefully they will return to the waterfall very soon.

As far as future wildlife adventures go, a safari in Kenya would be at the top spot on my travel bucket list and as a proud recipient of a charity rhino adoption, I would love nothing more than to see them in the wild.

Win a safari adventure in Kenya!

Win an African safari with Audley Travel by sharing your best wildlife photograph or video on your social media channels. To enter write #AudleySafari and @AudleyTravel on your Instagram or Twitter post or share directly on the Audley Travel Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/audleytravel/. To find out more or enter via the website, visit www.audleytravel.com/social.  Entries must be posted between 20th August – 23rd September.

This post is my entry into the Trips 100 & Audley Travel blogger challenge.

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Europe’s best destinations for thrill-seeking travelers

Adventure holidays are becoming more and more popular but often can be a case of doing the same thing just in a different location. Europe has many thrilling destinations that are just waiting to be discovered and explored, with a variety of things to do to keep the adrenaline pumping. These are some of the best destinations in Europe for a thrill-seeking adventurer to visit.

Lagos – Portugal

image via flickr

Kayaking is often a go-to for many thrill-seekers, and in Lagos, Portugal, those searching for that thrill won’t be left disappointed. Visitors to Lagos can expect to try blokarting (sailing on land), 4×4 safaris, sea kayaking and even rock climbing. Many of these activities are readily available and are no further than a short trip away, about an hour, for those staying in Lagos. All of that plus it is considered to be one of the best party locations in Europe (and the world). There really is something for everyone here.

Dog Sledding in Sweden

image via pixabay

For something a little different, you could try dog sledding in Sweden. While you may not be too familiar with making a pack of dogs pull you around a snowy landscape, you don’t have to be an expert to take up this activity. You’ll need to make sure you bring plenty of warm clothing though as you are likely to get very cold otherwise. Although you’ll have a guide to help you, it will feel like it is just you and the dogs after a while. Soon you’ll be navigating your way through tricky routes watching the snowy landscape whirring by. Then you’ll have a break and get to chill with the dogs for a bit, what could be better?

Be at one with the ice – Iceland

image via pixabay

Here you can climb beautifully blue ice structures as well as taking a jeep out at night to try and capture the natural phenomenon that is the northern lights. Iceland has lots to offer those who travel there, and you won’t be surprised to know there is an abundance of ice there. It is also the setting of many scenes in the HBO TV series Game of Thrones, so fans of the show can transport themselves beyond the wall and into the Wildling’s country.  

Diving in Scotland

image viawikimedia

Near the islands off the coast of mainland Scotland are some hidden treasures under the water. Heading to the Orkney Islands with your diving gear will bring history to life as there are some sunken warships ready for exploration should you have the diving skill. In fairness, they are just ten meters below the surface so many divers will have the capabilities of entering these abandoned ships. They were sunk to protect the services of the British Navy by blocking access to their would-be attackers. Visit the shores of Scotland if you’d like to throw in a bit of history with your adventure.

Zipwire in Italy

image via pixabay

Head to 2019’s European Capital of Culture and zip wire across its skyline. A zip wire that is almost a mile long connects two villages from high above in this mountainous region of Basilicata. Dubbed the “Flight of the Angel,” this will be the highlight of your adventure holiday in the mountains of Italy’s south. Rides along the zip wire will only set you back around €30, so it is well worth the entry fee. You can take a trek up into the mountains afterward and visit the rock churches that are carved into the rock face of the mountain.

Those were some of the best adventure destinations for those seeking a thrill in Europe. Hopefully, you’ve added one or two destinations to your list. Let us know in the comments your experiences of these places or any places you think we missed out.


This post was a guest post written by Jack Flynn – an avid traveller originally from London, but now spending time travelling in Europe and beyond. Currently situated in Spain, he writes for a few travel blogs whilst seeing the world of his own accord.

3 responses to “Europe’s best destinations for thrill-seeking travelers”

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